The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 94th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Academy, London, 1862
Record 2 of 14

System Number: 06518
Date: 19 February 1862
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Northampton, MA
Recipient: James H. Gamble[2]
Place: [Staten Island]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W512
Document Type: MsL[3]


Feb 19th 1862

My dear Mr Gamble

I have been wishing to report myself to your fireside circle all winter & felt really grateful a few days since for your letter. I was sadly disappointed last Oct in my hope of seeing you all during a short visit at Mr. Rodewald's[4], but had to keep my bed while there & though I went on to Phila under my sister's[5] care I was so prostrated as to become Dr Darrow's[6] patient while his guest. Business only would have induced me to have undertaken the journey, for Dr. Denniston[7] had warned me not to trust to the strength I had recovered during 6 weeks treatment here from the first day of Sept. & I came back to him the middle of Nov. completely run down, thus realising the necessity of submitting to his advice for my continuing here. He thinks at the end of 6 months, which will be the last of May, my sight may be restored.

[p. 2] He agrees with all my other physicians that it is the index of my health. I have always rather regretted your not having been led, as I was to this "Home for Invalids[8]", since our having had a family from Dr. Mundi's[9] who felt this so homelike, & on every account so preferable. Dr D. being one of your countrymen[10], and of the highest medical skill; his wife[11] is a most interesting Irish Lady you would be delighted to compare notes with her. She often expresses a wish to know you when I talk with her of you, & regrets that she never met our dear old friend Mrs Maxwell[12]. The daily readings I enjoy in Mrs Denniston's parlor remind me of those we had at Richfield; and now how memory links Henderson Home[13] with that pleasant summer. I was gratified to hear that Mrs Cruger had not forgotten me. Alas, that the death of Mr Douglas[14] should be a relief to his survivors! I suppose the grandmother of his son Willie[15], may be brought to recollect him as probably the dear old lady is more [p. 3] oblivious of the present than the past. I hope I may be recognized by her when again permitted to renew my intercourse with my favorite, Mrs Aspinwall[16]. Tell your dear mother[17] how I lament that she should have had such a shock & serious consequences in her fall. She was among those who told me I ought to come to Northampton. It was indeed providential I was led to Dr. D. and I hope now to have as pleasant a talk with her when next I visit Staten Island, as I so much enjoyed last June with your sister[18] & self also. You ask after my boys. My hope revives now that I may soon hear from Willie[19]. The last date which reached me from his pen was July. Ida's[20] reports of their health at Richmond to her father[21] have been unsealed through the mail. Mr. King has occasionally relieved my anxiety by reporting. I trust the Almighty Power of God will adjust the difficulties which have separated us. How cheering are the reports now of hosts of rebels surrendering[22] that thus the shedding of blood is spared, & prisoners released.

[p. 4] I despatch a Springfield Republican by each Steamer to London. My daughter[23] there being so interested in her country, and Jimmie was equally so by his Jan. date[24] from Paris. He who never reads newspapers, had subscribed for a daily. He had finished a painting[25] on the seacoast of Brittany in Nov. during the 3 months he was at sea bathing recovering his health, but had begun a new painting[26] in Paris, & was hard at work. The sudden death of old Sarjent Thomas[27] however had obliged him to run over to London for a few days. I hope soon again to hear from him of his being settled at work in London towards next May's exhibition[28] & that I may receive from him a new set of etchings[29]. You are mistaken in supposing my faithful Mary here. Her husband[30] spared her to take care of me in my journey, her home being in N. Haven, & she as attached to me as ever. The friend[31] who kindly pens this for me cheers Mary with a letter now & then. Thus you see God always provides for me. There are none under this roof who are not sufferers - therefore we are sympathisers. I find the society most congenial and have not suffered from cold in the least this winter, the house being warmed throughout by steam & how beautiful are the hills & valleys of N. clad in snow. & now with love to dear Mrs. Wann & her husband[32], to your dear mother & self.

believe me always your attached friend

Anna M Whistler.

Report[33] me about as usual to Mr King if you meet him & tell him I am hoping he may soon cheer me with news of W. & Ida's reaching his Brooklyn home in safety.

This document is protected by copyright.


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

2.  James H. Gamble
James H. Gamble (b. 1820), clerk [more].

3.  MsL
Written in an unknown hand, possibly that of Mrs Denniston (see below).

4.  Mr. Rodewald's
Adolphe Rodewald, Sr (1818-1869), husband of J. C. McNeill [more].

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

6.  Dr Darrow's
James Darrach (1828-1869), physician in Philadelphia [more].

7.  Dr. Denniston
Dr Edward Evans Denniston (1803-1890), physician [more].

8.  Home for Invalids
Springdale Water Cure establishment owned by Dr Denniston.

9.  Dr. Mundi's
Dr Carl Munde, physician [more], and owner of the Water Cure Establishment at Northampton, MA.

10.  countrymen
James H. Gamble was Irish; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 30 September and 2 October 1874, #06554.

11.  his wife
Jane Denniston (b. 1810), wife of Dr E. E. Denniston [more].

12.  Mrs Maxwell
Mrs Maxwell, probably the mother of J. S. Maxwell.

13.  Henderson Home
'Henderson Home' owned by Harriet Cruger (1790-1872), née Douglas, a friend of AMW [more].

14.  Mr Douglas
Douglas (d. ca 1861), a relation of Harriet Cruger.

15.  Willie
William Douglas, grandson of Harriet Cruger, a friend of AMW.

16.  Mrs Aspinwall
Margaret Aspinwall (d. 1881), née Maxwell, wife of J. S. Aspinwall [more].

17.  mother
Jane Gamble (1790-1864), mother of J. H. Gamble [more].

18.  your sister
Jane Wann (1822-1875), née Gamble, wife of S. Wann [more].

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

20.  Ida's
Ida Bayard Whistler, née King (d. 1863), JW's sister-in-law [more]. Ida's letters to family members in the north would have been censored due to the proclamation issued by President Lincoln; see AMW to JW, 19 August 1861, #06517.

21.  father
Ralph King (1801-1878), broker, father-in-law of W. McN. Whistler [more].

22.  hosts of rebels surrendering
In February 1862 the Unionists won two important victories. On 8 February 1861, under the command of the Brigadier General of Volunteers Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-1881), the Federals took Roanoke Island, NC. Elizabeth City was abandoned and burned. On 16 February, Fort Donnelson, TN, was captured with 15,000 Confederates. The rebel loss, in killed and wounded, was 10,000 and Generals Albert Sidney Johnston (1803-1862), Simon Bolivar Buckner (1823-1914), and Gideon Johnson Pillow (1806-1888) were among the prisoners. See George Templeton Strong, Diary, Allan Nevis and Milton Halsey Thomas, eds., New York, 1952, vol. 3, pp. 207-8. The loss for the Unionists was equally heavy.

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

24.  Jan. date
Not located; his mother's previous extant letter was dated 19 August 1861 (see #06517).

25.  painting
The Coast of Brittany (YMSM 37).

26.  new painting
Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl (YMSM 38).

27.  Sarjent Thomas
Ralph Thomas, Sr (d. 1861/1862), Serjeant-at-law and author [more].

28.  next May's exhibition
Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl (YMSM 38) was rejected by the 94th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Academy, London, 1862.

29.  set of etchings
Twelve Etchings from Nature (the 'French Set', K.9-11, 13-17, 19, 21, 22, 24) was published in 1858. By 1862 JW had completed many etchings of the Thames but they were not actually published, as A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames (the 'Thames Set') (K.38-44, 46, 52, 66, 68, 71, 74-76, 95), until 1871.

30.  Mary here. Her husband
Mary Brennan (b. 1825), AMW's servant [more], and her husband Mr Bergen; see AMW to Mary Emma Eastwick, September 1874, #10072.

31.  friend
Probably Mrs Denniston. The handwriting of this letter is different from those appearing before or after February 1862.

32.  her husband
Samuel Wann (b. 1820), merchant, brother-in-law of J. H. Gamble [more].

33.  Report
'Report ... safety' is added in the upper margin of p. 1, upside down to the text below.