The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 11473
Date: 14 December 1868
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: London
Recipient: Margaret Getfield Hill[2]
Place: New York
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 34/49-50
Document Type: ALS

[embossed monogram:] AMW

2 Lindsey Row

Monday night Decr 14th 1868

My dearest friend & Sister Margaret

My heart has yearned for the indulgence now offering, by my being quite alone to tell you how I was gratified by your sending me details, always sure to interest me, about you & your belongings, but the desire to hear again from you makes me now plead that you will not wait til some other friend comes from Scarsdale[3] to London[.] You were hoping to go for health & to cheer your Cousin to New York & on your way, would stop to see my dear Kate[4], her last date to me was the end of Augt. Now do there's a good soul write me a New Years Greeting soon, as this of mine is read by you. It is easy for you to imagine how naturally Gamble[5] & I talk of Scarsdale, our mutual love for all at the House & Cottage[6], the dear little Church, its Pastor[7] & his flock, he sometimes says in his glow of grateful memories "Now what would you & Miss Margaret give if she could come as often to talk to you as I do" he even told me of dear Mr Popham[8] having gone to Uncle Nattie[9], Mr Levinas he called him - to shave him on Sunday morning so, I in my own mind rejoiced to connect this Xtian [i.e. Christian] service with his attending Church - as he did after his having been led to do by the tender mercy of God in sparing the old Carpenter from sudden death - tell him I ask after him. Of Anice Woods[10] release by death, he has also spoken, tho your letter informed me of it first. Mr Gamble took his wife[11] to Ireland, directly from Liverpool, & as he was bent upon shewing her its beauties of scenery, he [p. 2] sent your letter to me from Belfast where they were visiting a Cousins family, he & his Harriet had wished for me at the Lake of Killarney - but they would soon see & so when one morning while I was at my toilet our Servt came & told me a gentleman from America was waiting in the parlor, I guessed it could be none other that our early rising Gamble, but when I hastened to meet his eagerness to see us, I heard his cheerful voice in Jemies[12] bedroom for his impatience could not be restrained & he had rushed up stairs! they had only arrived at eleven ocl the night before & it was just eight ocl when he was with us, he said he must be back at his Cousins in Eaton Square by nine to breakfast, but he walks as if he was a Mercury! I should say Jemie & his works are Gamble's monomania now, only he has no mania really, but his early love for us, is so unrestrained he apologises to me for coming so often, but says it is to make good to him his loss of my visit last year! I tell him, he cannot come to [sic] often[.] she has renewed a pleasant acquaintance I formed with her in Herkimer[13] County eleven years ago, when she was spending the summer at Mrs Crugers[14] & dear old Mrs Maxwell[15], the Gambles mother & son[16] & I were guests at [the] Henderson[17] home[.] he tells me now that I said so much in praise of Harriet he began to like her then! they seem as happy as any old Darby & Joan[18], he says she is pleased with all that pleases him, so that may account for her admiring Jemie as she does, she is so amused by his wit & says his vein of conversation is so irresistibly amusing! Gamble has taken her twice to Willie's[19] apartments & as he brought his Cousin Mr Dunville[20] here to call, both my boys have been dining & spending the evening in Eaton Square, The Gambles have been visiting Cousins in the Isle of Wight & since their return are in lodgings for a months long stay in London, they talk of going to Paris & then to Rome in the New Year[.]

[p. 3] Tuesday night 15th I had an interruption last night to writing, but it is so tender Willie's thoughtfulness for me he does not mind the distance of three miles pavement to bring him to a tete à tete [sic], again he has been here, earlier this evening, just to see how Mother does for he could not stay for a light repast as he had engaged to be back in his rooms by seven ocl, then to attend a medical meeting, with a friend & doctor also[.] he comes to join me at Church on Sunday which is the greatest gratification to me, his health is excellent, & he walks for economy, as much as for air & exercise, he is the stoutest of the brothers, I would fain have gone to Curson St[21] again for this winter as I did last for Jemie has availed of an Artists offer to him of a Studio[22] more favorable for light & has gone to work there, it was rather a sudden move, so, as I had made ready for winter, in supplies of fuel &c, I resist the mutual desire of Willie & myself to remove to his vicinity[.] we all & each have to be very prudent in our expenses, for tho Jemie has orders for pictures[23], it will be months before the income whereas he must pay models for them every day a shilling the hour & they must be well fed! besides an Artists materials are so expensive. but dear Jemie is practising the greatest self sacrifice, if he may but finish such large & more difficult paintings to satisfy his own difficult standard of Art, by the 1st of April, for the Exhibition of the next Season, As Gamble remarks, Artists have inspirations as Poets, so poor Jemie could not during the persecutions of Mr Haden[24] finish any picture! & as he could not Exhibit last May, so his reputation seems hanging on the work of the next three months! he has been steadily industrious but now, often works in an evening as well as all day. he comes to me two evenings in the week to a late dinner, but his room next to mine I cannot bid him good night in or be the one to awaken him every morning!

[p. 4] Yet it comforts me to know, if ever, either of my dear boys should be ill, I have the room & home comforts ready. Jemie returned to me to be nursed thro an attack of neuralgia very soon after he had left me, Willie's prescriptions were blest & in a few days he was enabled to resume work. This has been a remarkable year for its mild temperature, but these green winters produce epidemics, we hear of so few escaping, & I cannot be too thankful that I am so well, the sensitiveness of my throat since Bronchitas [sic] last year, makes me careful[.] I am excused making calls & so the Gambles & others come to me without exacting return visits[.] I took a Cab last thursday to meet dear Debo[25] at our mutual friend Eliza (Stevenson[26] that was), you know we are not permitted to meet in either of our own homes - Annie Haden's[27] birth day the 13th inst no doubt was duly celebrated at 62 Sloane St[28] as usual, but the 13th of this month is also the anniversary of Jemie's expulsion from the Burlington Club[29] by Annie's father & my banishment from Debos family circle in consequence.

Debo was nearly four months in Switzerland & we had not met since the middle of July til last week, she is looking quite in improved health[.] I took her a token of my remembrance of her birthday 24th of Oct, and she said it was just what she wanted, but that is her amiable sweetness, and now dear Meg I must say good night, not that my one eye is dim without a glass to aid it but I fear you will find this not easy to read, even thro your spectacles. I have never found any to help my queer state of vision.The one eye is quite well, the other requires Willie's applying the same eye salve Dr M of Coblenze[30] prescribes, to brace it. I am so thankful to have a Doctor Son! & he is so interested in his calling he is filling up all his waiting hours at his post in reading & gaining medical science[.] he is successful in the cases resorting to his Consulting rooms but more poor (whom he expects no pay from) than rich patients as yet. I judge you dear Margaret by myself interested in those nearest & dearest our hearts, therefore from the fulness of my maternal heart I write as I should speak to you[.]

[p. 5] Saturday Dec 19th.

It is so remarkably like spring here dear Margaret I wish to compare weather with yours & shall be so interested in your writing of of [sic] the Christmas Festival in our beloved little Church that is set upon a hill, I hope this may find you & all yours in health & good spirits to communicate joy to your old cronie, I was at the Gamble's snug little lodgings [the] day before yesterday & staid [sic] to dinner, he shewed me Bishop Tuttles[31] photograph & remarked "he is a St Paul in his work & a Daniel in prayer & faith[32][.]" he is quite well & when I told him of my intention to send a letter to you, he begged to be affectionately remembered to all at dear Scarsdale[.] they are seeing all the old nooks of London, it is well, she is so active & able to enter into his daily routine of walking & sight seeing, she no doubt would enjoy it double in the prospect of returning to N York to recount it, but his intention being to have their home in Ireland, she consoles herself he will wish to visit his Sister[33] & all they love in the US, & she is such a brave sailor, indeed she is exactly suited to him. Jemie was with me last evening, indeed he & Willie came by turns to a late dinner, to be sure I am taking good care of myself. This bright weather & so mild is a boon to Artists, & mine is making good use of it, but I hope to have both my boys tomorrow. All you wrote me of your pet Charlie & his baby sister[34] make me beg to hear more of their growth, tell Mary[35] I gratefully cherish the memory of the hospitality of the Host & Hostess[36] of my Cottage & offer love to her & to those on the Hill Side - hoping Willie[37] may be quite restored to health & that dear Blanche & Maime[38] & their pets are enjoying their united comforts[.] I dont know if I have mentioned my good Pastor, but as Gamble says, I think in the small Churches there is a more Evangelic spirit, so I find it in the "Old Church", under Revd Mr Davies[39][.] I often go to his home for I like his wife[.] she is reading with much attention [p. 6] the book I lent her, by Revd R Whittingham. Home Truth[40][,] I wrote you how engaged I was in its perusal last June. Rember [sic] me to Mrs Olsen[41] & to Mrs Holbrook[42][.] I hope she visited my dear Sister. I must tell you of the happy prospect of John Barrows[43] Mother, in his promise to bring his wife & children to visit her next summer DV - her lot is one of the most blest on earth, her Sons prospering in business & true christians, they vie with each other in benefits to their excellent Mother & her dutiful daughters, & they enable these to go about in extensive charity, for they are faithful stewards. When last I heard from George[44] his health was better than for many years, it is not decided tho it seems probable he may remain in Russia, his wife's Father[45] is expected next Spring, to come to London to reside, so I judge Georges prospect of taking his family to the US, is abandoned, three children are instructed by an English Clergyman & lady.

Our Mr & Mrs King[46] age in Savannah - I enclose this to his nephew to send to you.

A happy New Year to all at the House & cottage and all dear to you is the prayer of


This document is protected by copyright.


Miss Margaret Hill
New York


1.  Anna Matilda Whistler
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

2.  Margaret Getfield Hill
Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881), a friend of AMW, of Scarsdale, NY [more].

3.  Scarsdale
AMW had lived intermittently at Scarsdale, NY, between c. September 1851 and November 1857 in a cottage owned by Margaret Getfield Hill.

4.  Kate
Catherine ('Kate') Jane Palmer (ca 1812 - d.1877), née McNeill, AMW's sister [more].

5.  Gamble
James H. Gamble (b. 1820), clerk [more], currently visiting London.

6.  House & Cottage
The house owned by William S. Popham, and cottage at Scarsdale owned by Margaret G. Hill.

7.  Church, its Pastor
St James the Less, church at Scarsdale, consecrated in June 1851. Its Pastor was Rev. William W. Olssen (b. 1827); see AMW to Margaret G. Hill, 24 December 1852, #07639.

8.  Mr Popham
William Sherbrooke Popham (1793-1885), merchant [more].

9.  Uncle Nattie
Nathan ('Uncle Nattie') Levinas (b. 1789); see AMW to James H. Gamble, 4 February 1856, #06471.

10.  Anice Woods
Probably Anna Wood, of Scarsdale, NY.

11.  wife
Harriet Gamble, née Wheaton, wife of J. H. Gamble.

12.  Jemies
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

13.  Herkimer
Herkimer County, NY; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 29 June 1858, #06497.

14.  Mrs Crugers
Harriet Cruger (1790-1872), née Douglas, a friend of AMW [more].

15.  Mrs Maxwell
Ann Maxwell (1784-1867), née Young, wife of Robert Maxwell [more].

16.  mother & son
Jane Gamble (1790-1864), mother of J. H. Gamble [more] and her son James H. Gamble.

17.  Henderson
'Henderson Home' at Mohawk Valley, Herkimer County, NY; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 26 March 1857, #06482.

18.  Darby & Joan
An elderly married couple living in domestic bliss (from characters in an eighteenth century English ballad).

19.  Willie's
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

20.  Mr Dunville
William Dunville, cousin of J. H. Gamble. He lived at 37 Eaton Square, SW; see PO London Directory, 1871, p. 279.

21.  Curson St
Curzon Street, London. AMW spent the winter of 1867 at 8 Bolton Row, Curzon Street, Mayfair, London; see AMW to Deborah Delano Haden, 14 December [1867], #06541.

22.  Studio
The studio borrowed by JW from Frederick Jameson (1839-1916), architect and musician [more], for about seven months in 1868 at 62 Great Russell Street. See PO London Directory, 1868, p. 320.

23.  pictures
JW was at work on The Three Girls (YMSM 88) and possibly works from the 'The Six Projects' (YMSM 82-87). See also Elizabeth Robins Pennell & Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, Philadelphia, 1908, vol. I, p. 148.

24.  Mr Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. In the Spring of 1867 JW quarrelled with F. S. Haden over Haden's treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. See AMW to James H. Gamble, 11 November [1868], #06538.

25.  Debo
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more].

26.  Eliza Stevenson
Eliza Stevenson Smith, a friend of AMW, of London.

27.  Annie Haden's
Deborah Haden's daughter Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, JW's niece [more].

28.  62 Sloane St
London home of the Hadens.

29.  Burlington Club
The Burlington Fine Arts Club was a London club for professional artists, amateurs and collectors. JW was expelled from the club on 18 December 1867 in the wake of a quarrel with Seymour Haden.

30.  Dr M of Coblenze
Dr Meurens, occulist at Koblenz, Germany. In September 1865, AMW went to Koblenz for several months for treatment of her eye condition.

31.  Bishop Tuttles
Probably Daniel Sylvester Tuttle (b. 1837), third bishop of Missouri [more].

32.  he is a St Paul in his work & a Daniel in prayer & faith
St Paul (10-67) largely responsible for the initial spread of Christianity, took the Gospel to all corners of the Graeco-Roman world, and separated Christianity from Judaism. Daniel (considered one of the great prophets of the old Testament) was the hero of many legendary adventures, which he survived thanks to his prayers and faith.

33.  Sister
Jane Wann (1822-1875), née Gamble, wife of S. Wann [more].

34.  Charlie & his baby sister
Charles ('Charlie') Carmer Fleming (1866-1908), and his sister Eliza Atkinson Fleming (b. 1868), children of M. H. C. and C. H. Fleming; see AMW to James H. Gamble, [27 August 1867], #06535.

35.  Mary
Mary ('May') Hill Clarkson Fleming (1843-1924), née Carmer, a niece of M. G. Hill.

36.  Host & Hostess
William Sherbrooke Popham (1793-1885), merchant [more], and his wife Jane O'Neill Hill (1793-1882), sister of M. G. Hill of Scarsdale.

37.  Willie
Perhaps William Stewart Hill (1804-1851), brother of M. G. Hill [more].

38.  Blanche & Maime
Alethea Blanchard Hill (1838-1908), daughter of J. and W. S. Hill [more]; 'Maime' unidentified.

39.  Revd Mr Davies
Rev. Robert Henry Davies (1821-1908), incumbent of Chelsea Old Church [more].

40.  Revd R Whittingham. Home Truth
William Rollinson Whittingham[e] (1805-1879), fourth Episcopal Bishop of Maryland from 1840 [more]; he wrote His Heart and Home Truths, Being Self-musings Upon the Divine Will, New York, 1856.

41.  Mrs Olsen
Louisa Olssen (b. 1828), wife of Rev. W. W. Olssen [more].

42.  Mrs Holbrook
Mary Baker Holbrook, née Tyler, wife of J. Holbrook.

43.  John Barrows
John W. Barrow, a merchant of New York.

44.  George
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more]; he was working in Russia. See AMW to James H. Gamble, [27 August 1867], #06535.

45.  wife's Father
Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, JW's sister-in-law [more]. She was the daughter of Ross Winans (1796-1877), Baltimore locomotive manufacturer. Julia de Kay and George William Whistler had four children: Julia de Kay Revillon (b. 1855), née Whistler, Thomas Delano Whistler (b. 1857), Ross Winans Whistler (b. 1858), executor of Ross R. Winans (1912), and Neva Winans (1860-1907), née Whistler, married her cousin Ross Revillon Winans.

46.  Our Mr & Mrs King ...
Ralph King (1801-1878), broker, father-in-law of W. McN. Whistler [more] and his second wife Mildred M. ('Mittie') King (b. 1820), née Bronaugh. 'Our ... AMW' continues in the right margin of p. 5 and top margin of p. 1.