System Number: 11843
Date: 8, 9, 23 and 29 September 1874
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler
Place: Albyns and London
Recipient: Mary Emma Harmar Eastwick
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 34/65-66 and 77-78
Document Type: ALS
Sept 8th 1874
To Mary Emma Eastwick
My dear young friend
I was glad to read your account of the health of the beloved home circle at Bartram & felt interested in your account of all its branches. Although I have been unable to answer your nice letter, it has been my wish to thank you for writing to me.
When you came to bid me good bye last autumn was only the beginning of a season of illness, my eyes showing how feeble I felt & almost as soon as Jemie took to his bed (to which he was confined five weeks) & I attempted nursing him & sitting up two nights, I had ulcers on my sight, Of course a Nurse was hired, I am too thankful for his restored health to review his painful attack of Rheumatic fever and Bronchitas [sic] combined thro which Willie's skill & attention by the blessing of God alleviated & cured him. But I must explain my seeming neglect of your desire to have an answer to your letter, tho my fingers which suffered from chilblains all winter, recovered, I continued feeble & only by slow degrees have been responding to the kind enquiries of my dear absent relatives & friends. Only last month I had again a sudden prostration of strength which seemed to me must be an attack on the heart & what I should scarcely rally but dear Willie examined both heart & lungs and said it was caused by general debility & I required strong bark & Quinine, Old Port wine & frequent nourishment & so it proved, tho I had to be careful to avoid of exertion.
[p. 2] Wednesday 9th
It will be a fortnight tomorrow since I was welcomed to his most charming place by my dear old friends, & I shall be sorry to go back to Chelsea at the end of this week, tho so thankful for all the benefits I have enjoyed in my visit. They lamented when I told them of Your Fathers wish to have seen them when you three were passing thro London. "Oh Mrs Whistler why didn't you write to let us know? we should have been so glad to have had a visit from Mr Eastwick & his daughters! And we never forget how kind & hospitable Mr & Mrs E were to us when we are in Philadelphia!
I can only say I regret that I did not do all I might have done to have arranged for so much pleasure to mutual friends. But you know dear Mary what confused state my home was in when surprised by your arrival, but no one can know how much devolved upon me, to render impossible to pay you all the attention my heart prompted. And then I really thought Your Father would meet Mr Ropes. Oh how sorry I am that my want of reflection in not writing a few lines caused such disappointment. Albyns is the house of all others to interest your Father. Our dear old friends have had a lease of it 17 years, it is therefore in the highest state of cultivation & has the most choice trees & shrubs to ornament, besides fine Oaks & green fields, I need not go beyond the garden walks for exercise daily they are so extensive, but I look beyond them & see in the pastures 20 Cows! Mr G-s fancy to have so many [,] of course the poor all around have milk as much as they want[.] Mrs G is the lady bountiful most fully verified and the most perfect symptom of a christian household is here kept up. cheerfulness & devotedness shewn by the many servants who assemble with us regularly for family worship noon & evening. On Sunday evenings, we all enjoy singing hymns with them in the library, where the Grand piano is. Some of our St P neighbours have happened to be guests with me now, & Ailie Ropes here also. We have enjoyed drives almost every afternoon in this prettiest part of [p. 3] Essex, I who have a rather solitary life, feel so grateful for the companionship of those sympathising friends. We are all at liberty to occupy our morning as we like, while Mrs G attends to her affairs and when I stroll thro the garden surrounded by such a variety of choice sweet gay flowers & look above at the blue sky & bright sun I involuntarily think "These are Thy works Almighty Parent Thine the universal good" Such a noble Cedar of Lebanon faces my room window! & a Magnolia Grand de Flora is trained to the roof of the house, it had six beautiful blossoms when I first came. rains have defaced them, but rain is so needed, since the unusual drought of the past months. The harvest of grain gathered in, said to be in all parts of England finer & more abundant Harvest than for 30 years.
You who never know scarcity of fruit at Bartram cannot imagine what an indulgence it is to me to share the Peaches & the Nectarines, Plums & Figs which come to table from the garden walls of this noble place. for luncheon & for dessert, besides all the nice tarts & the puddings which the dairy provides. I shall of course lose the healthful relish country air induces, but I trust my recovered strength may enable me to go out & do more than I did.
I really was needing this benefit & my doctor dear Willie was urging me to go somewhere! when God put it into Mrs G's heart to write for me to come, at the ending of the summer. I always trace every change to the true source & have many direct answers to prayer, as all christians experience - Your dear Mother who has yet daughters under her roof cannot know how often I feel the want of one, not for lack of tender loving care of my two Sons, but they can be only at meals or in sickness with their Mother. I feel at times of weakness needing to be with my Sister & seriously talked with Willie about going to Stonington, friends returning to N York this Autumn I could accompany. And he said he had thought of proposing it for my health.
But I reflected, as I recovered strength thro Gods blessing on his attendance, what should I do without my own beloved physician & that I could not voluntarily bid adieu to him & to dear Jamie. Perhaps if I get thro another long winter, the Artist may make enough by the pictures ordered for his painting now, for his taking a holiday in Summer next year with me to our native land.
[p. 4] You may have been informed of the Exhibition he has had this Summer, as so many favorable notices in the leading London Papers published about the Artist Whistlers Gallery at 48 Pall Mall so he has at least acquired fame tho not yet money in proportion to the expenses attendant upon it. But as he is unwearied in working & has orders more than enough, I trust his hopes may be realized & my prayers answer for him, for they are far more than he has yet aspired to. Jemie is now painting portraits at Speke Hall of two youthful daughters of the Leylands.
2 Lindsey Houses
On my return home a week ago I found more to do than I had energy to accomplish, so that I can truly apply to myself. the spirit is willing, but the flesh weak. I ought while at Albyns [to] have mentioned that your friends Emily & Marion Prince have lately come from St P to visit friends of theirs in Scarboro that Seaside resort not far from York I have pleasant memories of, for I spent a week when my boys were little fellows at Mrs W Ropes cottage when her girls were wee pets, & I had a home then as they had to look for a welcome return to a Dom Ritter! Your dear kind Mother will know what thronging memories come to me. But now you will be more interested to hear of the Princes, Emily had suddenly been so prostrated the past Summer, the doctor said a change must be given her of scene & climate, the Sisters expect to return home before the Navigation closes, they are to be at Clapton near London on a visit to their Aunt Ropes & Cousins in Oct. so Ailie Ropes told me, as she was spending a week at Albyns as she is a bright & very unselfish character & spoke most affectionately of Emily Prince. Does your Father know that Mr Joseph Ropes is blind, he & his wife were in Europe more than a year & I was very wishful to meet them, but could not manage it, they have only last July returned to Boston. he is most patient & unmurmuring under the chastening affliction, for he is a true christian. The eldest Son of Mr W Ropes is in the business house in Boston & the next Son is studying for the Ministery in Andover the third is in St P. all so exemplary! industrious & of steady habits. the youngest of the 9 children is Arthur, now about 14 years of age & rising in his classes as a bright student, the 5 girls all at home[.] No! one is Mrs Catley & residing at St P, & she has two children.
I dare say if you ever visit Baltimore dear Mary Emma & Katy you will meet Mr W M Winans two daughters & their Mama, & I may hear of it when they return next Summer to London. they are the only Winans I see often, for they come to my room when I am not well & I like them, I was glad to hear of their pleasant voyage to N.Y. & doubt not they are enjoying N Jersey[.] Now Mr & Mrs Clinton Winans have gone since then to visit Baltimore Mr & Mrs Clinton Winans called to bid me good bye & they expect to meet Mrs Geo Whistler & her family at N Port R. I.
[p. 5] I am feeling benefit from my visit to Essex now that I am settled down quietly at home & hoping that Jamie may by [the] end of this month finish his work at Speke Hall & come back to me. Willie is my comfort as often as he can be this far away from his Consulting room. I am so thankful to have a doctor Son! but for leaving these two, I should have yielded to my wish to see my Sister & her girls at Stonington. I hope she may visit Camden next Month, as I am sure she enjoyed the change when once before she was prevailed upon to go home with Julia, who with Mr Boardman was expected at the dear old Corner house when last I heard from Stonington. I hope Mrs Clunie may get to Bartram if she visits Julia.
Be sure to give a great deal of love to Maria from me. I should if in better health, enjoy Phila. & Bartram more than I could do when last there[,] I had so much to interfere & my stay was too hurried. I am sure you would all welcome me back again! But we must so live, that we may meet where we shall be forever inseparable. A lady from Phila., friend of the Darach's & mine Mrs Hooper comes daily to see me, she has taken apartments close to us, for the winter, besides her cheering companionship, I have very kind next door neighbours on each side of the house. The dear old lady & her niece at No. 3 are members of the Old Chelsea Church with me & you know what a link that is.
My sons if at my side while I am writing remembrances to your Brothers & to you all, would wish to join in the same. I may never be able to pen so long a chat with you again for it is difficult in the dark bleak days which are in the next prospect, for my fingers or eyes to do much. As I waited & wished for months to hear how you found at at [sic] home, so I expect you to [illegible] delay in answering your letter my dear young friend, & believe I can never be indifferent or negligent to maintain the friendship so sacredly associated with my Husband's memory. If your Mother goes to see Mrs Harrison offer my kindest regards to her & to my God daughter her Alice. Believe me dear Mary Emma
sincerely & affectionately yours
Anna M Whistler
[p. 6] Sept 29th will be my birth day, when I shall have attained the measure alotted [sic] to mortals, three score years & ten. "Feint & evil" all must say in comparison to Gods merciful goodness towards us. I have experienced the blessed Promises of His holy Word & found Him a present help in all my trials, for the confirming my faith in the intercessions of our Divine Saviour
Will you oblige me by posting & stamping an enclosed note, as I have not time for a letter to a dear friend in Baltimore. I am sure your Mother will be interested to know of the faithful & loving attachment of my good old servant Mary, who altho a very respectable Mrs Bergen residing in New Haven writes me & Signs herself my "Servant Mary" There are not many like her!
M. E. H. Eastwick lived at Bartram Hall, the Philadelphia residence of her father Andrew McCalla Eastwick (1810-1879), partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more]; see AMW to JW, 15 and 16 January 1852, #06409.
4. good bye last autumn
M. E. H. Eastwick apparently visited AMW in 1873. Unfortunately there are no surviving letters of the period.
'before ... Gellibrand' continues in the right margin.
Margaret Eastwick (1840-1862), Maria James Eastwick (1842-1926), and Mary Emma Harmar Eastwick (1851-1928), daughters of L. A. and A. Eastwick.
13. Ailie Ropes
Ailie Ropes (b. 1848), daughter of E. H. and W. H. Ropes.
14. These are Thy works Almighty Parent Thine the universal good
Probably 'These are thy glorious works, Parent of good! Almighty! Thine this universal frame,' Milton, PL, 5.153-154.
15. Magnolia Grand de Flora
Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia, bull bay), broad-leafed evergreen tree.
17. pictures ordered
Probably the Leyland portraits (see below).
'next ... land' continues in the right margin.
JW's first one-man exhibition, Mr Whistler's Exhibition, Flemish Gallery, Pall Mall, London, 1874. It received good attention from the Press. The critic from the Globe thought the show established JW's 'rank among the first portrait painters of the day,' and J. Comyns Carr from the Pall Mall Gazette wrote, on the basis of the portraits, that JW 'may claim kinship with Velasquez.' See 'Exhibition of Mr Whistler's Paintings and Drawings,' Globe, 20 June 1874, p. 2; J. C. Carr, 'Exhibition of Mr Whistler's Paintings and Drawings,' Pall Mall Gazette, 13 June 1874, p. 11; Linda Merrill, The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography, Washington, DC, 1998, pp. 137-138.
20. portraits at Speke Hall
Speke Hall near Liverpool was the Elizabethean mansion of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), shipowner, his wife Frances, and their children Frederick Dawson, Fanny, Florence and Elinor. F. R. Leyland commisioned JW to paint his family. AMW is probably referring to the Portrait of Miss Florence Leyland (YMSM 107), and The Blue Girl: Portrait of Miss Elinor Leyland (YMSM 111). JW also painted Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland (YMSM 97), Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland (YMSM 106), both exhibited in Mr Whistler's Exhibition, Flemish Gallery, Pall Mall, London, 1874. Other portraits of the family included Portrait of Miss Leyland (1) (YMSM 109) and Portrait of Miss Leyland (2) (YMSM 110).
21. the spirit is willing, but the flesh weak
'Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' Matt. 26.41.
22. Emily & Marion Prince
Emily and Marion Prince, sisters, of St Petersburg.
24. Mrs W Ropes
Ellen Harriet Ropes, née Hall, wife of William H. Ropes.
Probably William Ropes, Jr, son of W. H. Ropes.
Earnest Ropes, son of W. H. Ropes; see AMW to M. E. H. Eastwick, 19 July 1876, 12635.
Arthur Reed Ropes (b. 1860), author, son of W. H. Ropes.
31. Mrs Catley
Louisa Harriet Ropes (1844-1903), later wife of E. A. Cattley.
36. Mrs Geo Whistler & her family
Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, married George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more]. Their children were Julia de Kay Revillon (b. 1855), née Whistler, Thomas Delano Whistler (b. 1857), Ross Winans Whistler (b. 1858), Neva Winans (1860-1907), née Whistler, and Joseph Swift Whistler (1865-1905), art critic.
Julia McNeill Boardman (1851-1902), and Anna Whistler Palmer (b. 1848), mariée Mrs George Stanton, JW's cousin, named after AMW.
39. Mr Boardman
Rev. William S. Boardman, husband of Julia McN. Palmer.
40. Corner house
The house owned by Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), husband of Kate Palmer, built in 1787, situated on the corner of Main and Wall Streets at Stonington, CT.
41. Mrs Clunie
Mrs Clunie, probably a relation of Ann Clunie.
Probably Maria James Eastwick.
The family of James Darrach (1828-1869), physician in Philadelphia [more], medical mentor of William McNeill Whistler when staying at Philadelphia, 1858-1860; see AMW to JW, 13 - 15 July 1857, #06485.
44. Mrs Hooper
Mrs Hooper, of Philadelphia.
45. old lady & her niece
Elizabeth Boggett (b. 1801), wife of W. Boggett, and her niece Ann Lambeth (b. 1823); they lived at No. 3 Lindsey Row. See AMW to James H. Gamble, 5 and 22 November 1872, #06553. Also see 1861 British Census, London.
Edward Peers Eastwick (1833-1926); Joseph Harrison ('Hass') Eastwick (1834-1917); Charles James Eastwick (1836-1908); Philip Garrett Eastwick (1838-1905); there were the sons of L. A. and A. M. Eastwick.
George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more]. Major Whistler supervised the construction of the St Petersburg - Moscow Railroad (1843-1849), when the firm of Harrison, Winans, and Eastwick were building the rolling stock for the railway, at their locomotive factory complex 'Alexandroffsky Mechanical Works,' St Petersburg.
Mary Brennan (b. 1825), later Mrs Bergen, AMW's servant.