UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Columbia College
Record 3 of 7

System Number: 06428
Date: 28 September and 1 October [1853][1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Scarsdale
Recipient: James H. Gamble[3]
Place: [Staten Island[4]]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W423
Document Type: ALS


[embossed monogram:] A M W

Scarsdale

Wednesday Sept 28th

My dear & esteemed friend

While incessant claims upon my daily attention have denied me leisure for the desk, my heart has prompted responses to yours & your Sisters[5] welcome letters, but I will try to snatch time enough to answer your questions about "the child[6]" who nestles in my tenderest regards, "it was well with him" indeed while he inhaled sea breezes, securing him regular appetite & sleep, I wish you could have seen his cherub expression, as clasping his tiny tapered hands he would say as he gazed with delight on the beautiful harbor of Stonington "big waters! how nice" but whether such a fragile bud is to bloom in our world of blighted promise, seems to me improbable, Little Georgie's mother[7] was early taken to the home of the blessed, yet he gladdens the sorrow stricken Grandmama & fond young Aunts[8] now in their Baltimore home, My Willie[9] only returned from taking them there yesterday, he is well & unites with me in love to you. he scrawled the lines you wished, directly after you left Scarsdale, I fear his caligraphy [sic] is scarcely clear but you will soon copy the ideas on the fair tablets of your memory. And now on

Saturday Oct 1st

My Willie having left me alone - to go thro his examination for entering Columbia College[10] next Monday - my faithful servant Mary[11] having prepared all nicely for the sabbath, has a holiday for a few days to see the Crystal Palace[12] with some Irish Cousin who resides in the city - Mrs Pophams Lizzy with Lee[13], [p. 2] I seek not my writing materials for amusement, but can indulge my wish when no one is depending on my attentions, which is seldom the case even in this retreat, yesterday our friend Miss Margaret & Prince[14] were in & out of the cottage - he helping himself from Marys larder & she directing my Topsy[15] in taking up my plants, for frost had nipt [sic] some in the night. How I wished for you last sunday dear Mr Gamble! My sister[16] who came from Stonington with me & spent a fortnight so happily at the cottage, was followed by her excellent christian husband[17] last saturday & we were surprised & delighted by the coming of that pious nephew of mine[18] I had expected when you were here, it gives us a glimpse of the Millen[ium] - when believers unite in enjoying all christian privileges, had I been aware that Donald Fairfax would have spent two days in Cincinnatta [sic] or he known you, what an ["]additional interest" it would have yeilded [sic], unless you happen to have a call on Washington City I fear you may never become personally acquainted, but Margaret Hill who appreciates you both grieves that I had not known Donald was to pass thro your town, he went to St Louis for his sister[19] & three children (alas her dissipated husband is not worthy the responsible trust of a father), I expect them to make me a visit before he settles there for the winter & then probably he will take a voyage, with his missionary spirit he fulfils more than the duties of a Lieut in our own navy. The Word's Fair has brought many meetings about, I had two cousins from Georgia spending a day here last week, who were companions of my childhood, the widowed one Mrs Genl Clinche[20] [p. 3] had not seen me since the year after my marriage 1832 - It was a meeting of stirring memories to us four! This week one of the sons of the American[21] who protected Willie & his widowed Mother from Russia came for a day & night, I had not in four years seen him, sensitive as my nerves have become, these retrospects unhinge me, I suddenly fainted, dear Miss Margaret my sister - friend came & staid all night, my own dear Sister having gone with her good Doctor home by tuesday boat, I was reconciled to my loss of her society by their escaping the storm of Wednesday night on the Sound. But I feel depressed & weak, to endure to the end of my term with thankfulness for mercies continued seems all I shall ever again attain to.

Write me of your rejoicing in the Lord, always it may arouse me from an unusual depression. All the circle are around me talk of you with love & esteem, my sister regrets you did not get to Stonington but hopes next Summer if you came here you may, she went to see Annas Wood[22], who talked of you & begged her to stay to the next supper, tomorrow she hopes to get to church, but the rain has begun & the poor invalid will be watching the clouds, Mr Popham[23] has been as delegate to the N Y Convention[24] this week, he described it to me as almost making him weep from the good emotions which prevailed Bishop Wainright[25] promoting them by his sentiment & examples. The circle here are as you saw them in health, going about doing good, Mrs Popham throws open her parlors to the ladies sewing circle with greater alacrity than ever already they have realized from quilting &c more than $100 - they are pledged for half the cost of the horse shed $400 which is now being erected at the lower side of the church enclosure, the plan is not to disfigure so useful & merciful a provision, a [p. 4] spacious room above the horse shed is to give the aspect our library lattice does to this cottage, how delighted Mrs P & her sisters[26] will be to hear your approval next summer if the Lord order your journey hither, then you may be an admirer too of the Rectory[27] which is to be built on the South lot, 4 acres beyond the church grounds.

You ask after the Phila branch of Hills, my Willie spent a night under Will Hills Mothers[28] roof, they will all be glad to see you again[,] I am so much urged to divide a week with friends in Phila & Balt if I can, I wish to gratify them, & should feel interested in your venerable & Revd preceptor Mr Hughes[29] if he would not think a call from a stranger an intrusion, I have had no news of Miss Clunie[30] but forwarded your Scarsdale report to her. My true friends & neighbours entertained another who should have been the cottage guest, as in your case, when I went last to Stonington, one who loves the Lord as you do, with his most glowing ardor, they talked of your visit which had so charmed them, & he felt ready to go to your city to exchange friendly greetings with you - but had to return to his native land old England & never expects to re-visit this country, he was Admiralty Agent for the Steamers duties, in the Passengers Saloon, & on the deck, this missionary at heart in word & deed will be missed. But Lieut Scriven[31] recognised the Lords hand in his worldly disappointment, he may have as wide a field in Liverpool for winning souls to Christ

I observe your kind interest in my Cadet at West Point[32], & my prayer is that he may enlist under the banner of the Capt of our Salvation, he was promoted in his class, after the Medical & Mathematical examination 29th of Augt & writes me of his health, tho he is not reconciled to Barracks in contrast to his[33] cottage home


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Notes:

1.  1853
Dated with reference to William McNeill Whistler's entry to Columbia College (see below) and the Perpetual Calendar Whitaker's Almanac.

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

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

4.  Staten Island
James H. Gamble resided in Staten Island, NY; see AMW to JW, 15 December 1856, #06477.

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

6.  the child
George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851), JW's nephew [more].

7.  Little Georgie's mother
Mary Ann Whistler (ca 1826 - d.1852), née Ducatel, JW's sister-in-law [more].

8.  Grandmama & fond young Aunts
Mrs J. T. Ducatel, mother-in-law of George William Whistler, and her daughter Eliza Jones, née Ducatel.

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

10.  Columbia College
William McNeill Whistler entered the College in October 1853; see AMW to JW, 27 August 1851, #06399.

11.  servant Mary
Mary Brennan (b. 1825), AMW's servant [more].

12.  Crystal Palace
See AMW to JW, 6 August 1851, #06398.

13.  Mrs Pophams Lizzy with Lee
Jane Hill (1802-1872), née Clarkson, wife of W. S. Hill [more]; her servant was Eliza Bran (b. 1831). Lewis ('Lew') Charles Popham (1833-1899), son of E. C. and W. S. Popham.

14.  Miss Margaret & Prince
Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881), a friend of AMW, of Scarsdale, NY [more], and Prince, a dog; see AMW to Jane Wann, 18 November 1853, #06431.

15.  my Topsy
Eliza (d. 1856), a servant of Kate Livermore [more]; see AMW to Margaret G. Hill, 24 December 1852, #07639.

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

17.  excellent christian husband
Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), physician, AMW's brother-in-law [more].

18.  nephew of mine
Donald McNeill Fairfax (1821-1894), naval officer, JW's cousin [more].

19.  his sister
Martha ('Matty') Fairfax (b. ca 1820), JW's cousin, her husband Isaiah Davenport, and their children Joseph Davenport, businessman, Potter Davenport, book keeper, and Ellen Davenport.

20.  Mrs Genl Clinche
Sophia Clinch, née Gibbs, widow of Brig. Gen. Duncan Lamont Clinch (1787-1849), congressman [more].

21.  one of the sons of the American
Edward Peers Eastwick (1833-1926), son of Andrew McCalla Eastwick (1810-1879), partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more]; see AMW to JW, 29 September 1853, #06429.

22.  Annas Wood
Anna Wood, of Scarsdale, NY.

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

24.  N Y Convention
The seventieth Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New York commenced its sessions on 28 September 1858, at St John's Chapel, Varick Street. See New York Daily Times, 29 September 1853, vol. 3, no. 634, p. 3.

25.  Bishop Wainright
Jonathan Mayhew Wainright (1792-1854), clergyman and Bishop of New York [more].

26.  her sisters
Sarah Stewart Hill (1800-1864), sister of M. G. Hill [more].

27.  Rectory
Rectory at Scarsdale, NY. The Popham family were active members of the local parish, helped in the building of the local church, St James the Less (consecrated by the Rev. Bishop De Lancey and assisted by the Rev. Bishop Whittingham of Maryland on 28 June 1851), and gave a thousand year lease of their land to the church. William S. Popham was one of the churchwardens of St James between 1851-1853. The first rector formally installed was the Rev. William W. Olssen in 1853. See AMW to Margaret G. Hill, 24 December 1852, #07639.

28.  Will Hills Mothers
William Hill (1842-1869) and his mother Jane Hill (1802-1872), née Clarkson, wife of W. S. Hill [more].

29.  Revd preceptor Mr Hughes
John Joseph Hughes (1794-1864), Roman Catholic churchman [more]. It is possible that AMW proposed a connection between Hughes and the Philadelphia branch of the Hills because of the former's service in Philadelphia.

30.  Miss Clunie
Anne Clunie (b. 1793), a Scottish cousin of AMW [more].

31.  Lieut Scriven
Lieutenant John Barclay Scriven (fl. 1803-1853), naval officer and missionary. See AMW to Margaret G. Hill, 24 December 1852, #07639; AMW to Margaret G. Hill, 21 and 22 February 1853, #07640; AMW to JW, 7 April 1853, #06426.

32.  Cadet at West Point
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more], at the time at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY; see AMW to JW, 10 June 1851, #06396. During September 1853 JW received more demerits than in any other month, 73 resulting from 32 offences; see Gordon H. Fleming, The Young Whistler 1834-66, London, 1978, p. 100.

33.  his
'his ... home' continues in the right margin.