The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: [Centennial International Exhibition], Philadelphia, 1876
Record 6 of 6

System Number: 06565
Date: 8-12 June 1877
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Hastings
Recipient: James H. Gamble[2]
Place: [Staten Island?]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W558
Document Type: ALS

43 St. Marys Terrace Hastings

Friday June 8th 1877

My dear Mr Gamble

You & I have been ever since we first knew each other sympathisers in our joys & sorrows. And again this New Year the mingling has come to me, which unerring Wisdom ordains. The Month of April opened upon me in the same enfeebled state I could not rally from since an attack of Influenza in Sept had so prostrated me that when my Sons[3] came to spend Christmas here, Willie discovered the same intermittent low state of the heart by my pulse which had been the most alarming symptom two years before in that fearful attack! I shall not linger on it, only to thank God for His again blessing the means used, by my attentive & skilful doctor Son. Friends had with their usual liberality sent hampers of jams, fruit & wine & many luxuries. And I could sit with my dear boys at table, I was gladdened by one of the most interesting of my beloved Sister's[4] home reports early in January[,] all well under her roof at Stonington, she the most active, A darling infant Grandson[5] born in Oct her delight every day since she had been the first to dress him & place him in her youngest daughters embrace. The Centennial[6] had added to her jewels another Grandson & daughter, each of her absent branches blest in their fields of usefulness as true members of Christ's household. My dear Sister & self constantly wrote of the very thoughts of our hearts & I was yearning to let her share my dear Willie's "new happiness" in his engagement[7] in Janry, but was too feeble to sit at my desk. At last by a few lines at a time I managed towards the end of Feb to finish the interesting details by post. I thought how soon her affectionate congratulation would come, that Helen Ionides & I had been drawn fondly together, the day Willie brought her to see me, for we had heard so much from him of our congeniality. Her family[8] rather encouraged than distanced the wish of the lover for a short engagement, for they had known him ever since his settling in London. So preparations were hastened for the marriage to be on the 17th of April, as it was. [p. 2] I was you may be sure naturally wishful for their sakes to keep up. And as Willie for relief to his own anxiety had put my case in the watchful care of a Hastings M. D. Doctor G[9] once a week came to feel my pulse & thus I varied little.

But alas in my welcome to a N York letter from my niece Mrs Rodewalde[10] of Staten Island you know I met such a shock as seemed my own death knell. "I suppose you have received the tidings of the sudden illness & death of dear Aunt Kate! O how sadly I feel for your loss of such a fond & beloved Sister! We shall all miss her warm expressions of love in her letters." The pain that centered around my heart, the chill thro my poor feeble frame, I thought must be fatal. I could not weep, did nothing, said nothing! He was the Lord & I was submissive in spirit. I can never describe His mercy in supporting me, as in the stillness of that night I sought the sympathy of our Saviour. He gives His beloved sleep![11] And as if miraculously the circulations were restored & pain subdued. I had Heavenly visions of my departed Sister. But of my loss I never speak. She has gone only a short while before me. I expected to have been sent for first, but my term is extended & I trust by help of the Holy Spirit, I may be enabled to promote the highest interests of my dear Sons & the new daughter, who desires me to share hers & Willie's home. When they were here for a week on their wedding holiday & were sending their cards to a few friends & relatives, he directed the envelope to you & gave it in my keeping, so you will know how to direct to me. If it is the Lord's will that I gain sufficient strength by the end of this, the pleasantest month of the year in such a rural lot, & by inhaling its mild sea breezes, I might make the experiment while London atmosphere is at its best. I make no plans. Lead Thou me on[12], is my daily & only confidence.

All has been so mercifully ordered to reconcile me these two years to separation from my nearest & dearest. I know the balance of comfort will be experienced even in London fogs, in being in my home, & having the companionship of my Sons & daughters. Tho I shall miss the lookout on green slopes when shut in, as I have been the last eight months here. What a contrast to the snow & ice in other lands, rain & bleak tempests on this south coast of England. I felt the absence of sunshine, the only aid to my sight. My dear daughter Mrs Haden[13] came twice for a few days in Febry & the last time was to bring her daughter Annie[14], who spent two months with me, her music & her reading varying my monotony. She quite regained her strength & enjoyed more freedom in going [p. 3] her own gait than is admissible in London, tho there was no gaiety except in meeting sociably a few young ladies who call to enquire after me. Annie was tantalized by an invitation coming for the wedding breakfast at Kensington! She consoled herself by the expected bridal visit here. her Mama also was sorry to decline attendance. She is such a fond & good Sister & had shewn such an interest by being as often with Willie as possible, in his packing to vacate his small house - the lease nearly out it would have been difficult for him - in attendance at the Throat Hospital[15] where he is one of the staff of doctors - and his consulting room practice[.] So the dear Sis wrote me how they were getting thro, even to her packing the new valise her gift to him & seeing him get in a cab to convey it to the house of Mr Morris[16] his best man, Willie wrote me that evening his last a batchelor! he never could love Sis enough for all her affectionate help

Alas that dear gentle one was sitting alone, Mr Haden[17] having been called out of town after their lunching together, When suddenly she heard her Son Arthurs[18] voice, entering the door, he having been at Shrewsbury since last Augt had said at his Christmas visit - he could not visit home again til this midsummers[.] Ah poor Arthur! he had to be the bearer of heart rending tidings to his gentle & tenderly loving Mama. The next morning 18th Annie came to my room with a telegram from Arthur, "Great trouble at home, be packed & ready to return with me by 4 ocl train[.]" Her Papa had been complaining & I was alarmed about him.

My dear daughter had been very anxious at the silence of the youngest Son Harry[19], in Australia, but every body persuaded her, he must be "in the Bush" beyond the reach of postal arrangements, so she wrote him regularly each month as she yet does to Seymour[20] at Natal. The dear Harry, had won the respect & affection of a few in Brisbane, by his exemplary conduct & the praise of his Boss, he was on his Christmas holiday visit in the home circle, where providentially an intimate & mutual friend from England met him[.] It was on the dear lad's 22nd birth an attack of dysentery seized him, the termination was unexpected & sudden. he asked Mr Lytlleton[21] to read & pray with him & whenever he asked what else he could do for his comfort. "Oh more from the Prayer book!["] It was such an appropriate Psalm at the first morning, on the 17th of Janry - the 86th[22]! How deeply the bereaved Mother feels it! he talked of her & of all at home[.] All the particulars touchingly rendered by the friend who nursed & was among the few but true mourners at his grave.

[p. 4] Saturday 9th

We have had a rather wet & bleak Spring. the hawthorns & laburnums only now in bloom, I am encouraged to find myself invigorated for the last week getting out in sunshine & mild sea breezes, tho at first I needed the support of Miss Price's[23] arm, she is the one of my two landladies, & has been a most excellent nurse to me. I have enjoyed a charming drive twice this week by invitation of my next door neighbours, Mrs Brooke[24] being also an invalid of my own age, so they have a carriage regularly, & always offer me a seat, so now I hope to profit by it, they are true Christians, & I value such variety.

My dear friend Mrs Livermore[25] came to comfort us, as soon as possible upon receiving the sad tidings. It was happy for her that Willie & his bride were here & met her at the Hastings station, for she entered into their joy & had them to walk out with. She & Helen soon felt as tho they had known & loved each other all their days. And she was the first guest they received for a few days in Wimpole St. She gave me a fortnight first & then for a week staid at my dear daughter's, where she was a real comforter. Thus she devoted the month of May to us, & then went to an aged invalid friend in Yorkshire, she wrote me of her having sat by the bedside of the sufferer (a patient martyr to gout) soothing her the whole of last Sunday - The old lady had been her governess in her school days. & she wished she could have taken her to her own sweet home in Londonderry, to nurse her all her days. How kind is Mrs L & her only child[26] (a daughter who supplies her place in her absence) to spare her to us! she will D V be welcomed home next week. Completing now her circuit in a charming home of a cousin in Manchester. Where she will also cheer & comfort a friend of mine in affliction. I hope you & your dear wife are well, & that you will answer this poor scrawl ere long.

Have you read the Sermon which was preached at our Church[27] in Scarsdale on the 25th Anniversary of its opening, by its first Pastor Mr Olssen[28]? mingled sweet & solemn memories! But oh what a divine favor to the Church & parish, that Mr & Mrs Popham[29] are yet attendants on public worship! bright living examples. Yet vigorous. I have a Sisterly letter of sympathy from Miss Margaret[30] of April date.

[p. 5] Tues 12th

Not able to send this by last Saturdays Steamer it will be in time for the next. I thankfully continue to benefit by Summers warmth out of doors. By divine favor I possibly may be strong enough to visit Willie's home. I have had no cough, only debility, needing every precaution. And I may as well be confined to warm rooms in Wimpole St. as here when this brief season is over. Direct to me there, for if I go it will be about the opening of next month. I cannot tell you more of Jemie's work than the Articles in London Papers report of his paintings exhibited this Season in The Grosvenor Gallery[31]. The portrait of Carlyle[32] is highly praised. He is painting others in his Studio & never spares time to write me. I hear of his being in excellent health. But I judge that altho his famous work in the Peacock Room[33] was a great achievement (even in his own eyes) vexation of spirit has been experienced by him in the inadequate compensation for so many months concentration of his ability. But pray do not mention this in the world, it is in confidence for you will naturally conclude by all the éclat[34] that he is growing rich! I fear an acknowledgment to you for the Boston Paper has never reached you, because of my feeble state, but you know how I value all your kindness & proofs of interest in us. There came to me two years since a very interesting Paper, of Bishop Tuttle's[35]. I wish if you were the donor, another may reach me, I cannot exactly give its title, Idaho & Montana the attractive points to me. The benefits of that Mission[36] in rescues from Mormonism! I can exchange a weekly periodical I take "The Christian[37]" it keeps me informed of the great work of Evangelisation all over the earth. My heart being prayer fully in it, tho only my sympathy goes out!

Believe me unchangeably dear friends (including Mr Wann[38][)]
Yours sincerely & affectionately

Anna M Whistler

Share my love with your dear Harriet[39], as you are ever inseparable in my affectionate remembrance

A M Whistler

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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.  Sons
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more], and William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

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

5.  Grandson
Donald Palmer Stanton (b. 1876), son of A. W. Stanton.

6.  Centennial
The centenary year of American independence.

7.  engagement
William McN. Whistler was engaged to Helen Ionides (1849-1917).

8.  family
The family of Alexander Constantine Ionides (1810-1890), shipping merchant and collector [more].

9.  Doctor G

10.  Mrs Rodewalde
Julia Catherine Rodewald (1825-1897), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of A. Rodewald, Sr [more].

11.  He gives His beloved sleep!
Psalm 127.2 - 'It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.'

12.  Lead Thou me on
Probably 'Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.' Psalm 25.5. Also found in a melody written by Julia Hausmann, O Take my Hand, Dear Father and Lead Thou me, 1862, and in John Henry Newman, The Pillar of Cloud, (s.d.), l. 2.

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

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

15.  Throat Hospital
'The Hospital for Diseases of the Throat,' 32 Golden Square, London; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 5 and 22 November 1872, #06553, and 9 September 1875, #06555.

16.  Mr Morris
Morris, William McN. Whistler's best man.

17.  Mr Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

18.  Arthurs
Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910), musician, JW's nephew [more].

19.  Harry
Harry Lee Haden (1855-1877), JW's nephew [more].

20.  Seymour
Francis Seymour Haden, Jr (1850-1918), JW's nephew [more].

21.  Mr Lytlleton
Lyttleton, an acquaintance of AMW.

22.  86th
'Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee. Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them. But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid. Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me.' Psalm 86.

23.  Miss Price's
Elizabeth Price (b. 1826), AMW's landlady at Hastings [more].

24.  Mrs Brooke
Mrs Brooke, a neighbour of AMW at Hastings.

25.  Mrs Livermore
Kate ('Cousin Kate') Livermore (1820-1907), née Prince, wife of A. Livermore [more].

26.  child
Susannah ('Susie') Plumridge Livermore (1855-1938), daughter of K. and A. Livermore, later wife of E. Sutton [more].

27.  Church
St James the Less, church at Scarsdale, consecrated in June 1851; see AMW to Margaret Getfield Hill, 24 December 1852, #07639.

28.  Mr Olssen
Rev. William Whittinghame Olssen (1827-1911), Rector at Scarsdale, NY [more].

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

30.  Miss Margaret
Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881), a friend of AMW, of Scarsdale, NY [more], owned the Scarsdale Cottage in which AMW lived intermittently between c. 1851 and 1857.

31.  The Grosvenor Gallery
I Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1877. JW showed 7 paintings: Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170); Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 140); Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Westminster Bridge (YMSM 145); Arrangement in Black, No. 3: Sir Henry Irving as Philip II of Spain (YMSM 187); Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Bognor (YMSM 100); Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181); Arrangement in Brown (YMSM 182). See Henry Blackburn, ed., Grosvenor notes, 1877-1882: containing complete catalogues of the summer exhibitions at the Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1882, p. 5.

32.  portrait of Carlyle
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137).

33.  Peacock Room
In the summer of 1876 JW worked on the decorations of the house owned by Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more], at 49 Princess Gate, London. The decorations became Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178); see AMW to JW, 11 July 1876, #06559.

34.  éclat
Fr., acclaim.

35.  Bishop Tuttle's
Daniel Sylvester Tuttle (b. 1837), third bishop of Missouri [more].

36.  Mission
Bishop Tuttle helped organize an Episcopal church in Utah; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 8 and 9 September 1876, #06560.

37.  The Christian
Probably The Christian Spectator, London, 1871-1876. Its subject was missions.

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

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