UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Hamilton, Catherine
Record 2 of 7

System Number: 06464
Date: 25 July 1855[1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Scarsdale
Recipient: JW
Place: [Baltimore or Washington][3]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W459
Document Type: ALS[4]


Scarsdale Cottage

July 25th.
Wednesday afternoon.

I never doubt your affection for your Mother my own precious Jemie[5], but while you throw the blame of neglecting me upon Procrastination I am less reconciled to such a rival. When it was our privilige [sic] to sit together in the Observatory - I shall ever cherish memories of it - you seemed amused or impressed by my Pilgrim style of adapting Scripture[6] to your various straits or temptations, but now a text fits the subject in point "while passing thro things temporal never forget those which are eternal[7]!" A mother's claims upon a dutiful sons attention can not be set aside without its penalty of future remorse. I flatter not myself that in Paris[8] you will find your time less taxed than in Balt, Your Sister[9] when in health writes me once a fortnight, if you adopt her system of dividing time I may reap the comfort & you the benefit. I know a mothers love is the most imperishable of earthly affections, but when thrown back in the maternal heart, it would be lost to the Son without faith converted it into prayer & centred its hopes in the power of Him who set the only perfect example of filial tenderness[10]. You are in the buoyancy of youth my own dear James, you expect all you hope, but I am [p. 2] sobered by the Experience of this worlds discipline[.] I have no reasonable expectations of visiting Seyrs home[11], so I rather shall depend upon your writing me once a month or oftener of all that is in your heart. Even should dear Willie[12] go to Europe to complete his course of study, Mother must economise by abiding in her retreat. Be sure to bring me Annies likeness[13] I have associations with it which entitle me to it. T Winans[14] as a rich man may secure your more successful efforts: but I should not value the Art, as I do your first attempt. He shall not have that! Flowers & bright skies are always linked with my departed little ones[15] & their Grandmother[16]. I have a yearning my own Jemie that you must indulge, to plant some rare seeds brought to the Cottage by you! Ask the Major[17] to help you obtain some from the Patent Office[18] & bring them to your mother. My love to your Cousins[19][,] tell them when they visit 14th St[20] I shall expect them at the Cottage. I had heard from "Aunt Hamilton[21]" of their sorrow & sympathised in it with her. Oh if you would all apply such admonitions to your own liability to be taken in youth to the grave! it would not be in vain that we are bereaved. "Seek[22] first the kingdom of God & His righteousness & all else shall be added unto you needful for this life & that which is to come" But I am aware "you must be born again[23]" Pray at least "Lords Prayer" night & morning.


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Notes:

1.  25 July 1855
Written after AMW's letter to JW of 18 July 1855, #06461. No reply has been located.

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

3.  [Baltimore or Washington]
AMW appears to be assuming JW is in Washington, since she alludes to the Patent Office, but she also refers to the demands on his time in Baltimore, where he had stayed with Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more]; see AMW to JW, 24 April 1855, #07077.

4.  ALS
Written on sheet with narrow mourning border.

5.  Jemie
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

6.  Pilgrim style of adapting Scripture
It is possible that AMW is thinking of the writings of William Bradford (1590-1657), Colonial Governor of Plymouth, MA, and author of pilgrim writings, who used Scriptural references as his constant source for imagery, comparisons, analogies.

7.  while passing thro things temporal never forget those which are eterna
'While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.' 2 Cor. 4.18.

8.  Paris
JW obtained a visa for France on 29 July 1855 (#04325).

9.  Sister
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more]. Her letters to AMW have not survived.

10.  perfect example of filial tenderness
During his execution upon the cross, Jesus considered his mother's welfare: 'Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.' John 19.25-27.

11.  Seyrs home
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more], lived at 62 Sloane Street, London.

12.  Willie
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more], then studying medicine. He eventually went to London in 1865.

13.  Annie's likeness
Anna ('Annie') Harding Denny (1834 or 1838-1913), a cousin of JW, later Mrs Corcoran [more].

14.  T Winans
Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more].

15.  departed little ones
Charles Donald Whistler (1841-1843), JW's brother [more], died en route to Russia, and Charles Donald Whistler (1841-1843), JW's brother [more], was born and died in St Petersburg.

16.  Grandmother
Martha McNeill (1775-1852), née Kingsley, mother of AMW [more].

17.  Major
St Clair Denny (1800-1858), army paymaster in Washington, DC [more].

18.  Patent Office
US Patent office, adjacent to the US Coast Survey where JW worked until February.

19.  Cousins
Probably the children of St Clair Denny (1800-1858), army paymaster in Washington, DC, and his wife, Caroline Denny, née Hamilton. They were Caroline St. Clair Denny (1837-1918); Anna Harding Denny (b. 1834), posed to JW for Portrait of Anna Denny (YMSM 4), and later married W. M. Corcoran; George Miller Brooke Denny; William Irwin Denny; James Hamilton Denny; Willoughby Morgan Denny; and Elizabeth O'Hara Denny.

20.  14th St
202 W. 14th Street, was the home address of Richmond Woodriff Jaffray (1813-1862), merchant [more]; see Rode's New York City Directory, New York, 1852-3, p. 267.

21.  Aunt Hamilton
Catherine Hamilton ('Aunt Hamilton') (1788-1874), née Whistler, JW's aunt [more].

22.  seek ... to come
'But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,' Matt. 6.33.

23.  you must be born again
'Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,' John 3.3.