The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Flagg, Eliza
Record 9 of 25

System Number: 06414
Date: 3 and 4 May 1852
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Norwich
Recipient: JW
Place: West Point[2]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W409
Document Type: ALS[3]


May 3rd 1852 Monday

Aunt Kate & Uncle Palmer[4] came over to meet me & take me back to Stonington this afternoon, bringing me three welcome greetings from my dear sons, they invited me to a sumptuous dinner no doubt at the Merchants hotel[5], & "Cousin Flagg[6]" also repeated the hospitable wish of his landlady that I should dine with him - Eliza[7] is in Brooklyn this week) but my head aches & my heart is full of you my precious James[8]. Your letters always comfort your widowed mother because they express such warmth of attachment & Oh my dear Jemie how much I depend on you & Willie[9] for cheering now! God bless you my son & help you so to control your impulses that you may ever prove a blessing to me, I fear so to divert your attention from your present duties that I shall reserve till we meet the details of my short visits [to] Pomfret & Lebanon - they have been reviving to me & hands were extended to help the lonely traveller all the way, for you know the widow is the peculiar care of the Lord of the Universe[10] & He disposes hearts to kindness. Your friends are everywhere interested in your success do not disgrace your name! do not disappoint my hopes, my prayers! Willie writes me he & Jacks[11] were at N Haven last week & that your brother was very uneasy about you - your silence - your 180 demerits turning the scale of his paternal confidence, his hope for you resting only on the last month, sans demerit. Now Jemie I must deny your request for Jacks & Willie's visit for this month, they would inevitably distract your attention. Woe be to your equilibrium if you break the bounds of 20! the[12] balance of 200! I wrote Willie last thursday (when I left Stonington - that he must study daily with Jacks until I can place him under Mr Allston[13] at Scarsdale, which I expect to do week after next, but in June he shall go with me to visit Mrs Bartlett[14], if you pass your examinations creditably; if not we must hide our diminished head, for it would be new to have pity hitched to Jemie's talents & name!

[p. 2] Stonington

tuesday 4th

Aunt Kate wished me to shop after their dinner at Norwich & it was too late when we reached Sto[nington] to mail this. All here join me in love to you my own dear Jamie & all will rejoice that you resolve not to have another demerit & if you pass a good examination. I am very feeble indeed this Spring, it may do me good to visit Mrs B - my love & thanks to her, Oh it would revive me to sit & talk with you tête à tête in strolls such as we enjoyed together last summer, but I am not benefitted by the exertion I make to talk with friends of the dear Mother[15] I miss so much.

Your sister[16] will be delighted with the song[17] you have to send her, I shall have an opp [i.e. opportunity] if I cannot take it to her, to forward it by Mary Rodewald[18], you can give me in June. In the meantime dearest Jemie "improve each hour" let nothing tempt you to another demerit. habit is second nature & I hope your future conduct will shew your strength of principle to resist folly. I enclose you two envelopes stamped, that you may write George[19] & your mother each, I will wait for mine till you can report your standing at the Examination.

My kind friends at Scarsdale write me the cottage will be ready for me by June[.] Willie & Jacks went to see it & describe it as very pretty, I shall reserve my description till I can talk to you dearest Jemie. Uncle P does not approve of my writing - while I am so unable for the exertions I make. I envy my letter, for I so long to embrace you. It is in your power to help cure the heart disease of your afflicted but fond Mother


This document is protected by copyright.


[Address panel:] Cadet James Whistler
Military Academy
West Point
New York State
[Postmark:] [illegible]GTON / MAY


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

2.  West Point
United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, opened in 1802; see AMW to JW, 10 June 1851, #06396.

3.  ALS
There is a black wax seal inscribed 'A M W.'

4.  Aunt Kate & Uncle Palmer
Catherine ('Kate') Jane Palmer (ca 1812 - d.1877), née McNeill, AMW's sister [more], and her husband Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868).

5.  Merchants hotel
Merchant's Hotel, Muyrhead & Clark, 41 Cortlandt Street, New York; see Citizens and Stranger's Pictorial and Business Directory, New York, 1853, p. 17.

6.  Cousin Flagg
Rev. Edward Octavius Flagg (1824-1911), husband of JW's cousin Eliza McNeill [more].

7.  Eliza
Eliza Flagg (1830-1855), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of Rev. E. O. Flagg [more].

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

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

10.  widow is the peculiar care of the Lord of the Universe
Probably a reference to 'the universe ... shall the Son of David rule ... we are not taxed in Christ's dominions, but we are delighted to offer freely to him. It will be a great day when kings will do this: the poor widow has long ago been before them ... Who would not fear so good a Prince, who makes the needy his peculiar care.' Charles H. Spurgeon's Treasury of David, A Psalm for Solomon, Ps. 72.10-12. It is a description of an exalted king, and of the blessings of his reign. See C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Ps. 57-87, Michingan, 1966, pp. 229-230. It was first published in weekly installments over a twenty-year span in the London Metropolitan Tabernacle's periodical, The Sword and the Trowel. Completed sections were released volume by volume, until the seventh and final volume was released in 1885.

11.  Jacks
Patrick T. Jackson ('Jacks') McNeill (1835-1898), accountant, JW's cousin [more].

12.  the
'the ... 200' continues in the right margin; 'must ... name' continues in the left margin.

13.  Mr Allston
Allston, tutor at Scarsdale

14.  Mrs Bartlett
Harriet Bartlett, née Whitehorne, wife of Prof. W. H. C. Bartlett.

15.   Mother
Martha McNeill (1775-1852), née Kingsley. She died on 7 April 1852.

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

17.  song
JW drew the Song of the Graduates (M.108).

18.  Mary Rodewald
Mary Isabella Rodewald (1823-1867), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of J. F. Rodewald [more].

19.  George
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more].