System Number: 11841
Date: 29 October - 5 November 1870
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler
Recipient: Catherine ('Kate') Jane Palmer
Place: [Stonington, CT]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 34/71-76
Document Type: ALS
[embossed monogram:] AMW
2 Lindsey Houses
Saturday Oct 29th 1870
I have just sent off my hurried letter dearest Sister that Julia might not deprive Mrs Hill of the reading my Daily News for want of her direction & as I broke off rather abruptly I must try to send what I had to add, by next Steamer, I wish you could know our beloved Mary Rodewald's children, it is remarked by many, how much Alice is like her dear Mama, she certainly is in character, tho not in beauty of feature or so very fair in complexion, but so unselfish, so truthful & gentle with the like feminine playfulness, & so hospitable she is a most dutiful & attentive daughter & fond Sister indeed as warm hearted & sincere & is graceful in doing the honors of the lady of the house in the drawing room or at the head of the table & seems as interested in her Church & district poor visiting. When Fredie [sic] & his nurse came here with me the dear little boy said so earnestly "Oh Auntie I wish I could some day come to stay & sit with you at the window to look out upon the river!["] he reminds me of what dear Henry MacNeill was at his age, so affectionate & companionable I am very fond of darling Fredie[.] I will only add that he did come the next week with Lee & as their breakfast hour at Feldheim is 8 ocl punctually, the Omnibus brought them before 10 - & I using the indulgence of an invalid was at mine so the darling boy shared my coffee & toast & ripe pears, & then we three came to the drawing room to sit by the window, but his attention was diverted by the Japanese novelties which decorate the room & the studio opposite. A new Tutor was to be engaged that day for Master Fredie so "Pouglie" the pet name he gives Lee, had to take him home by the Omnibus which passes here at 2 ocl daily but [...]
[p. 2] I forget if I told you of the excruciating pain in my left arm attending my faintness in Church, tho it was transient but came on after I was warm in bed as a regular part of my attack, the hand aching & arm to the elbow like a tooth ache for hours from midnight til after breakfast[.] If you could have seen the letters I had to answer every day, you might know my thankfulness for the use of my hands & freedom from pain during the day. The Scourge of War has claimed help for its victims, from all in a variety of ways. I was told by my servants as soon as I got home, two ladies had called, & had been hurried from Paris at 2 hours notice[.] Mrs Hooper left her address on her card, her friend Mrs Walters was a great sufferer & so Mrs H obtained here Dr Whistlers direction & dear Willie came that afternoon to welcome me home & was startled when I described to him my sudden shock of the day before[,] he told me it was one nerve of the hand which extends from the thumb to one side of the finger next the little one - he had never however read or heard of one side & then the opposite receiving a shock! but oh, I felt it to be such a mercy it was not my right hand. for he had to enlist me in a cause of peculiar distress & my pen was needed to circulate the appeal to all in our circle who had known Louis Mignot of Charleston[.] An Artist highly praised & a favorite in society as a Xtian gentleman, he resorted to Switzerland to paint its lovely views every summer, his devoted wife & only child as parts of himself inseparable, when last we welcomed him here on a flying visit just before the last Exhibition for he had come to London to bring pictures for it, the 1st of May! then he had others in Paris for the Imperial Exhibition, imagine him resembling in [illegible words]! & how Jemie & Mignot [p. 3] were drawn together in sympathy & friendship, suffice it now to tell you, he had orders from those who wished some of his pictures in Paris, so instead of going to Switzerland he hired a Studio in that city the rendez vous of travellers before the War! & intent on finishing & selling his works, he & his wife & boy lingered, suffering privations which for their sakes [sank?] upon his heart in silent enduring, working on, hopefully for he trusted in God, Suddenly the summons to hasten from Paris, among the very last to leave it where trunks were refused to passengers in the crowded trains[,] 500 crossed the Channel with the poor Mignots that rough passage! lying like swarms of insects so close together all over deck & cabin[,] of course his valuable paintings & all they had in Paris were abandoned in their flight & very small sum of money left in the straitness, barely enough to get across. When they landed, Mignot was so ill, his sweet wife had all the care & exertion, she whom he would never allow to stoop to button her own boots if he were near! I cannot go over the detail of their sufferings! the hotels refusing to accommodate them, in N[ew] Haven so after two days, his illness increasing, she resolved to hire a carriage to take him to the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where she trusted to meet friends, & indeed as they were passing thro it, he resting his weary head on her shoulder said "how many of our acquaintance I recognise!["] but they could not of course see the sick man or his wife or boy, it was all she could do, to get him a room - such a rush of transits from Paris! & having pd the coachman her purse was empty! the doctor called in pronounced it Small Pox[,] she had to separate her boy & his father by getting a room in another house, but alas they even [...] to remain at the Grand Hotel [...] [p. 4] be expected! When they had first reached Brighton as the doctor in N Haven had given his opinion it was small pox, Mrs M had tried to have him placed in the Hospital! but there the doctors said he did not look ill enough for their care[,] three times that week she had to move him by Cab, & at its close exactly the 8th day after they had landed he died! Willie & I had each without delay made known their distress & contributions were readily obtained & sent to her relief & tho she was placed among strangers in her desolation at Brighton that gay town full of its usual frequenters, yet God touched hearts among His people to shew her & her bright boy, such loving kindness & pity as only God could put in the heart of strangers. I am sure we foreigners ought to praise the kind hearted English. Think of the Leylands who make Jemie feel quite at home[,] for three months he has written "this old Hall is full of loving kindness["] & often a hamper of Game has come to me, Hares, Partridges & Pheasants to tempt my appetite[.] My next door neighbours a dear old couple who have lived a quarter of a century just there, Mr Boggett sent me a fresh trout of his own catching one day! Grapes from their vines too several times, & she selects such comforting vols & sends them in such as The "I will's" of the Psalms, illustrious [sic] of facts of answers to prayer, & the Last Communion Sunday as I was leaving my pew to return home, she was at my elbow tho our seats are far apart, & as we walked together she said with the fondness of a Sister "I knelt beside you dear at the Lds table today! I saw there was just that much room for I was longing to be beside you!["] her only suffering [...] six years ago, even [...] neice [sic] residing with her & her husband is one of the very best of men, but she yearns for him to be among members of our Church
[p. 5] Mrs Boggets gentle neice had called the day after my return from Feldheim to ask how I was & told me of her Aunt's arm so depressing her, wouldn't I step in, so when I went, as my heart & hands were filled by Mrs Mignots destitution & he [sic] then so ill. I thought the recital might draw away the aching from the poor broken arm, but avoided making my appeal[,] how much surprised I was that evening by one of the kindest notes from Mr B, enclosing £2 in the most delicate way. Rosetti an Artist & literary neighbour a true friend to my Sons, gave Willie £5 at once on hearing of the death of Mignot, & wrote also to Ruskin whom he knew has a charity fund of his own for Artists in distress & the response was £20. Jemie absent[,] another friend of his Jeckyll - proved his sympathy by writing several who had he known noticed & invited Mignot to grace their circle & thus other constitutions. In my reply to a letter from Mrs Gellibrand as to my unusually long silence I had to confess how feeble I had been & to tell of my thankfulness for restored use of my hand & foot & yet how busy my pen was. she wrote me directly she had never heard a more touching case & sent £10. Mrs Leyland enclosed £5 thro Jemie's letter to me, and as Mr Winans had known Mrs M's family she is a Baltimorian, of course he has done most & Mrs [Lotholp?] who is now in the same Steamer - with Mr Winans en voyage to NY, will do all she can among Artists there. But I must not fill any more of my letter to you & Kate with what can be only of secondary interest. I will only add my mite was 2 changes of under clothing to her, with a book such as had solaced me & you & other christian mourners, & I cannot tell you the many letters of hers to answer[.] Mrs M is now in London, & I expect her to come tomorrow to stay this week, she was with me yesterday, it seems to comfort her [p. 6] to talk to me of Mignot & his love for God & for her & for their bright boy[.] I think it must be Mr Winans who has advanced the payment of the 1st quarter at a select boarding school for Remy, who has never been separated from his parents til now at ten years old[,] she is very self sacrificing in relinquishing teaching him, but will no longer have leisure, she comes to me for advice how to eke out her small sums til she can make her own talents available for future support
And now I must tell you how comfortable our dear friends the Livermores have been thro the War[,] Kate of course sparing all the time she can from her household duties, to aid the Sick & wounded[.] she always writes me of dear Kate Palmer & I am sure will heartily rejoice in Julie's happiness. Mrs Hooper often comes with Mrs Walters to sit with me. their lodgings are a very easy distance for me also to call & see them 2d [i.e. two pence] by Omnibus & I walk either there or back, taking Mrs Barrows as a half way call to see her[,] she is now recovering from an alarming illness, congestion of the lung, Mrs Hooper told me of her Phila[delphia] circle in last letters mentioning Julie's prospect of visiting England next Spring DV - Oh if only you could but be persuaded my own dear Sister to make the voyage with the happy pair it would be like new life to me, you could so easily leave to dear Annie & Emma to manage in your home for the summer & spend it here, sharing my bed & board! & I'm sure Jemie will gladly mount to a sky chamber, to offer his large room to his Cousin Julia! Willie says there was one of the name of your Revd Son to be in Trinity College when he was a student in Hartford, I shall indeed like to listen to his reading the Scriptures & his eloquence in preaching of our Lord, & as even in my old age I am often as on Eagles Wings, I fancy my Albyns friends would invite my neice & Revd spouse to their hospitable old Hall & introduce their Pastor to him from the American clergy. I am scribbling Gelant [i.e. Gellibrant] Monday night[.] I had the reading & prayers with the servants an hour ago, they are in bed.
[p. 7] Friday 4th
If I can see thro the dense fog, dearest Kate I may be thankful at being alone, for writing has been put aside entirely by the stay of Mrs Mignot til yesterday afternoon. Mrs Hooper & her friend came about an hour before, so we had a talk of the fearful prospects at Paris, about all their valuables left in this besieged town, liable to pillage! these Phila ladies feel the fogs of London a barrier to their Artistic course, they are so pleasant I shall miss their coming in to sit with me - I was so disappointed when out with Mrs Mignot, later than I should have been, that Capt Swift had been to see me & left his card with the message he'd try to call again, but the distance from Langham Hotel is so great & he & Mrs S must be in Liverpool friday as their Steamer goes tomorrow! I had everything is [sic] nice order hoping they both would call on Wednesday & even yesterday expected it, in vain! Julie dear must take the will for the deed, & I reconcile myself by the hope she will be coming to us in "The Season" when it may be in my power to prove that I rejoice in her happiness, by my contributing to it, there will be a place in Aunt Annas heart she may be sure for her Willie too. It is very tantalizing to know that so many leave London every week for the US & yet I know of not one who would take a wee pacquet for me, and how I wish I could send what I might do without from my wardrobe for our brother Charlie's daughter, I shall enclose a note for you to put in your next letter to her brother Donald, & tho I shall assume that he is fulfilling his sacred duty as her protecter [sic], you might frankly tell him he ought to keep her at school in Pittfield, it would be so lamentable for her to forfeit the advantages there! Were it in my power to pay her board I should do it as a duty gladly, but I never now have a Pound over expences [sic] unavoidable, in [p. 8] this crisis of the career of both my Sons, they occupy their time & talents now for future advantage, they work so hard, with their minds intent upon rising in the [scale?] of medical science & Artistic attainment, we must wait patiently for the harvest & I am here to manage expences for each as economically as possible, & uniting our small incomes at present, to try to make them sufficient, we give no entertainments, ours is hospitality socially met[,] our friends who love us come without invitation for a [hearty?] welcome. My sons spend nothing on amusements they are indeed interes [sic] on study & have no inclination to waste precious hours, & no pocket money to spare if they had the inclination, for public resorts. I thank God for the health He maintains them in, for it is only thro our Lords goodness, they are not broken down by their confinement & mental strain. dear Willy is visibly getting thin, but he has no physical ailment, I look to Sunday for his coming to me, as his only time in the week, oh how faithfully I plead at the foot of the X that the presence of the loving Saviour may be with each of us & that this time of trial may unite us in Him, who has granted me tokens that my petitions are heard thro the pleadings of the Mediator in [sic] behalf of my ignorance & unworthiness. I hope my dear Jemie is not hindered by fog, he certainly could not see to paint if here today! but Speke Hall is in the open Country and near the Sea, & Mr Leyland has often remarked on the contrast of the clear atmosphere he left there in his visits to this metropolis. Yesterday a small box came by carrier from Speke Hall to me, marked Perishable! when opened, such superb bunches of black Hamburg Grapes & one of the finest specimens of large White Grapes I ever saw, Mrs L had taken me to see the famous Grapery, last year, & we always had a bunch handed at our dessert, & I knew they were about $2 a pound. but that way only in our visit at the Grapery we heard their price in large bunches.
[p. 9] I went yesterday morning with Mrs Mignot to a Galvanic Bath, hers being engaged, mine not, I left her, thinking if the Swifts called I must be at home[.] I am to begin a course of this peculiar cure for neuralgia, tomorrow morning so, must try to finish my letters now - "Man proposes" &c[.] My good Pastor came & has been in profitable converse with me til now[.] I must sit close to the window to see instead of close to the fire, for this is a very cold & penetrating fog from the river. I recd an interesting report this morning from my dear friend Md [i.e. Madame] Venturi[.] I shall send you both her letters about Mazzini as soon as Jemie has read them & then you can bring them to me next May! in my last to her I had given an extract from yours, of your loving impressions of her kindness to your only Sister, she writes now how cheering it was to read it, for she had been very ill at a hotel alone! & tho she feels unworthy such praise, it did her good[,] she was hoping to be able to leave Genoa as yesterday en route for London, but feeble yet, so that she dreaded travelling over the Mountain RR, alone[,] she was to do so carefully by resting at several places, but I hope to welcome her early next week & that the superb bunch of White Grapes may be tempting us to enjoy when I shall be her listener in recitals of the wonderful state of Italy. And now of dear Debo, she unites in love with me to all at the dear old corner house[,] she is quite well she is so gentle & forbearing that she refrained from saying how hurt she feels that her only Uncle now, Capt Swift merely passing thro London, calling to see her once! & resisting her invitation to meet her fireside circle to dine & spend an evening en famille. She has written him of George's illness & death & of his children as she would have done to her Father, [p. 10] he is 70 years of age now, may not come to London ever again, so we are both disappointed of a cozy chat with him. of course Mrs Swift preferred staying till the very last with her Sister the Baroness Stoekl ex Ambassad. of Russia, in Paris as long as possible & then on the Rhine. My friend Mr Gelliband quite expected them for a day at least & I was to have told them so
Did I mention in my last weeks report the death of one of the daughters of Walter Stevenson  so suddenly it seemed like putting the light out of his widowed Mothers [sic] dwelling[.] "Fanny" was the life of the house & Eliza has not been to see me lately as she is a comfort to those nearest & dearest in sorrow. I am so fond of her & of dear Eliza Sandland Boyd ever more. I must write her soon, it is months since we have exchanged letters, I know how every hour of every day is required by her household active management & her five children & husband, business is so depressing to poor Tom Boyd, such a limited income, they can keep only one servant, but that dear little wife & Mother realizes that earthly care is a heavenly discipline so cheerful, so patient is the spirit in which she works[.] Surely the people of God are being tried every where, the fiery trial is not strange[.] Oh may it be sanctified
Tell dear Margaret Hill I am so pleased that she feels Bickersteths  poem of ["]Today, Yesterday & Forever" as I do, so comforting! It was read aloud at Homeland Staten Island when I was on my last visit to Mrs Wann & she gave me the vol as a parting pledge of union, then I listened to dear Mary Corbett reading it to Cousin Anna in N York, & when I arrived in London just after dear Mary Rodewald was taken to Paradise, I wrote dear Julia to buy that vol & read it, three years ago! At Feldheim her husband talks of her constantly to their three [children]! & it was a sad & sacred gratification that he did to me confidingly of them.
[p. 11] Saturday afternoon 5th
When I arose this morning the sole of my left foot was numb as the instep of the right has been for a month. I do not wish to alarm you dear Kate but as a christian friend has said to me "It is just a warning!" & you ought to know that my state is feeble, & tho I may yet be useful in the house I must be confined to domestic duties during the winter at least[.] Will you write Mrs Richards for me & tell her I had intended to do so after my letter to Donald, read it & send it in one from yourself without delay. I know he would be mortified & angered were he aware that she has complained of him to me at such a distance! so you can tell her I write to induce him lovingly to do his part for Ellen, thank her for me, for her kindness to the sweet girl[.] I recollect what a dear little child she was & so pretty, when I visited Florida 12 years ago. tell her were I in as easy circumstances now as I was then I would arrange for the payment of my neices board, but at this crisis in our pecuniary affairs it is difficult for me to meet expenses, economically tho we live if I could only hear of any one going to N York I should send a nice Saque of mine for Ellen & a dress of black corded stuff which I can easily do without, so suitable for her. I shall write Mr Gamble to try to arrange it with his friendly Capt. I shall only venture out in sunshine & then must be more warmly clothed than I have been accustomed to be[.] I would not venture to the Baths today because of the fog, so chilly & so penetrating. A lady called this morning & staid [sic] talking an hour about a poor girl we are trying together, to keep in an Invalid Home. we must have our local charities for the suffering poor around us, as conscienciously [sic] cared for as our natural branches. My love to you all & to your dear boys & their Susie & [...] tell your own unselfish [p. 12] Annie to begin now to talk to you about coming to see if Europe is to be Julia's bridal trip. Have your girls read ["]Stepping Heavenward" I became so interested in the English cheap edition of that American work while I was at Albyns lately[,] I must get a copy to finish reading & to lend. I recommend it to Emma for her Book Club[.] I have 'Gates Ajàr" but have lent it to Mrs Mignot[,] it is republished in England[.] I tried to get ["]The Gates of Paradise" but it must be re-printed, every copy has been bought. it is so sweet, I shall try to write dear Julia B next week[,] my love if you do, And to the dear circle at Scarsdale, you may to save your extracts if you choose, let M G H [i.e. Margaret Getfield Hill] read this, if it is not too imperfect[.] I have not time to scan it myself
your own fond Sister
A M W
4. Mrs Hill
This can be either Susan Hill (1806-1872), née Clarkson, wife of Robert Carmer Hill, or Jane Hill (1802-1872), née Clarkson, wife of William Stewart Hill of Scarsdale.
5. Mary Rodewald's children
Mary Isabella Rodewald (1823-1867), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of J. F. Rodewald [more]; their children were Alice Rodewald (1854-1923), Edith Rodewald (b. 1857), and Frederick Rodewald (b. 1864).
6. Henry MacNeill
Henry McNeill (1828-1840), JW's cousin.
8. Japanese novelties
JW decorated the drawing room and the studio of 2 Lindsey Row with many 'delighful Japanesisms,' as William Rossetti put it. In the drawing room circular fans were arrayed on a wall behind a small, five-panel Japanese screen, and at the studio there were Asian art objects that figured in JW's early Japanese pictures; see Linda Merrill, The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography, Washington, DC, 1998, p. 149.
The home of AMW's deceased niece Mary Rodewald, at Wimbledon Common, London.
12. Mrs Hooper
Mrs Hooper and Mrs Walters, of Philadelphia.
14. Louis Mignot
Louis Rémy Mignot (1831-1870), painter [more]; for his obituary see the Art Journal, London, 1870, p. 343. Also see Katherine E. Manthorne and John W. Coffee, The Landscapes of Louis Remy Mignot: A Southern Painter Abroad, Washington, DC, 1996.
17. Imperial Exhibition
Mignot exhibited two paintings at 88th exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1870: L. R. Mignot, Lever du soleil, sur le fleuve Guayaquil (The lagoon at Guayaquil) (z240) and L. R. Mignot, Le givre (z241).
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more]. JW first became acquainted with Mignot in Paris. He called on Mignot with George Lucas on 19 March 1867 (see Lilian M. Randall, The Diary of George A. Lucas: An American Art Agent in Paris, 1857-1909, Princeton, NJ, 1979, p. 236).
19. Grand Hotel
Grand Hotel, Brighton, built in 1862.
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), shipowner, his wife Frances, and their children Frederick Dawson, Fanny, Florence and Elinor.
22. Mr Boggett
William Boggett, a London neighbour of AMW. He lived at No. 3 Lindsey Row; see PO Directory, 1870, p. 401.
23. I will's
Philip Bennet Power, The I Will's of the Psalms, New York, 1861.
'her ... Church' continues in the right margin.
'to ... her' continues in right margin.
The family of Kate ('Cousin Kate') Livermore (1820-1907), née Prince, wife of A. Livermore [more] (b. 1811), lawyer. According to AMW by September 1870 they were living at Stuttgart, Germany; see #07642.
34. Mrs Barrows
Mrs Barrow, a relation of John Barrow of New York.
35. Annie & Emma
Anna Whistler Palmer (b. 1848), later wife of G. Stanton, JW's cousin, and Emma Woodbridge Palmer (1835-1912), JW's step-cousin.
36. your Revd Son
Probably Kate Palmer's son-in-law, William S. Boardman.
37. my neice
38. I had
'I had ... bed' continues in the right margin.
40. Langham Hotel
Langham Hotel, Portland Place, London, built in 1863; see PO Directory, 1870, p. 1598.
41. Mrs S
Hannah Worthington Swift (m. 1844), née Howard, wife of W. H. Swift [more]. The Swifts travelled on the Steamer Algeria (1870), C & J. Burns (for Cunard Steamship Co. Ltd) (2193 tons.); it left Liverpool on 5 November and arrived in New York on 15 November 1870; see 'Passengers arrived,' The New York Times, 16 November 1870, vol. 10, no. 5976.
42. The Season
The Royal Academy exhibition was one of the main events of the London Art Season from May to June.
46. Mrs L
'but ... bunches' continues in the right margin.
48. Man proposes
'Nam homo proponit, sed Deus disponit', For man proposes, but God disposes, Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471), German ascetical writer, De Imitatione Christi, bk. 1, ch. 19, sect. 2.
53. en famille
Fr., at home.
55. his children
George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851); Julia de Kay Revillon (b. 1855), née Whistler; Thomas Delano Whistler (b. 1857); Ross Winans Whistler (b. 1858); Neva Winans (1860-1907), née Whistler, married her cousin Ross Revillon Winans.
Eliza Stoeckl, née Howard, wife of Count E. Stoeckl, Russian Ambassador to the USA.
58. daughters of Walter Stevenson
Walter Stevenson and his daughters Eliza and Fanny Stevenson (d. 1870).
59. Eliza Sandland Boyd
Eliza Sandland (b. 1821), wife of Thomas Boyd [more], merchant. Their children were: Thomas (b. 1854); John (b. 1856); James (b. 1858); Eliza (b. 1860); George (b. 1863). See 1871 Census of Manchester, Broughton, p. 32.
Edward Henry Bickersteth (1825-1906), poet; he wrote Today, Yesterday and Forever, New York, 1866; a poem in twelve books. AMW read it in August 1867 (see #06534). Jane Wann supplied her with the volume.
62. Homeland Staten Island
Homeland was the name of the residence of James H. Gamble and his sister Jane Wann at Staten Island, NY.
64. Cousin Anna
Anna Johnstone (1788-1870), AMW's maternal cousin.
'& ... them' continues in the right margin.
Ellen M. McNeill, JW's cousin.
71. dear boys & their Susie
George Erwin Palmer (1843-1909) and Donald McNeill Palmer (b. 1845), JW's cousins; Susan Euphemia Palmer, née Sears, was the wife of George E. Palmer.
72. Stepping Heavenward
Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward, New York, 1869; a religious novel.
73. Gates Ajàr
Elizabeth Stuart (Phelps) Ward, The Gates Ajar, Boston, 1869; a religious book which showed that heavenly life must provide for the satisfaction of the whole nature.
74. The Gates of Paradise
Not identified, probably a religious and moral work.
Margaret Getfield Hill lived at a cottage in Scarsdale, NY. AMW lived there intermittently between ca September 1851 and November 1857.