The Lady of the Portrait: Letters of Whistler's Mother

[THE letters, which were found in a house once owned by a friend of Mrs. Whistler, came eventually into the possession of Katherine E. Abbott, who, at our request, has arranged them for publication. — THE EDITORS]

SCARSDALE, X. Y., September 28th, 1853
While incessant claims upon my daily attention have denied me leisure for the desk, my heart has prompted responses to yours and your sister’s welcome letters; but I will try to snatch time enough to answer questions about the child who nestles in my tenderest regards. It was well with him indeed while he inhaled sea breezes, securing him regular appetite and sleep. I wish you could have seen his cherub expression, as clasping his tiny taper hands he would say, as he gazed with delight on the beautiful harbor of Stonington, ‘Big water! 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 was early taken to the home of the blessed, yet he gladdens the sorrow-stricken grandmama. Now on October 1st my Willie has left me alone to go to his examinations for entering Columbia College next Monday.
The World’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. One I had not seen 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 who protected Willie and his widowed mother from Russia came for a day and night. I had not, in four years, seen him.
Write me of your rejoicing in the Lord always — it may arouse me from an unusual depression. All the circle are about me, talking with love and esteem. Mr. Popham has been as delegate to the New York convention this week. He describes it to me as almost making him weep from the good emotions which prevailed.
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, etc., more than $100. I observe your kind interest in my cadet [James McNeill Whistler] at West Point, and my prayer is that he may enlist under the banner of the Captain of our Salvation. He was promoted in his class after the examinations of the 29th of August and writes me of his health. He is not reconciled to barracks in contrast to his cottage home. Think of me ever as your grateful friend, ANNA M. WHISTLER

SCARSDALE, November 18th, 1853
My heart has so craved, as friends, the family circle of James H. Gamble since forming his delightful acquaintance, that I have lamented appearing indifferent as a correspondent with you, my dear Mrs. Mann. But quiet being restored to my retreat, and liberty to follow my inclination, I, by degrees, hope to satisfy absent friends that it is only pressing claims upon my attention of guests and relatives which have distanced theirs, tho as tenderly cherished by me.
The family is well. Prince, the Irish canine, is gallant as ever and shows his excellent training by waiting outside the church for the ladies, tho in every other house he is inseparable from them. A parsonage is being built at the west side of this cottage. Your brother will see many proofs of prosperity among this favored people of the Lord, when he comes again next summer, as we all hope he may.
My Willie entered Columbia College in October. We find the daily travel of 50 miles not favorable for a student and the anxiety during the inclement months approaching would be very trying to me. I have decided to board in the city from December 1st to the 1st of April. My attached servant Mary attends Willie and me. I wish your brother could read the bright reports of the little girl from Florida, whom I have been training for three years. A dear friend of mine in Bath, N. H., has taken her into her service.
Indeed I have incessant exertions to make and my health has suffered. How grateful I shall be for a quiet season, and if by the blessing of our Heavenly Father we may return to this happy valley how we shall enjoy the sounds of nature again!
My Willie unites with me in cordial greetings. He is well now. You may judge how precious he is to me, a widowed mother, and the only son left at home! With what thanks to God I welcome him every evening! My cadet at West Point is only homesick. Willie goes to spend Thanksgiving with him.
May l offer to your brother and your honored mother my respectful regards.

SCARSDALE, April 3rd, 1854
Your New Year’s greeting was welcomed by me at my pleasant West 14th St. lodgings, and it was only the claims of family connections surrounding me there prevented my immediate response of cordial and Xtian greeting. Since then I have been too unsettled to write more than absolutely necessary. The Lord sees not as man sees. My friends all thought me so properly settled here in this happy valley, but He finds it necessary again to admonish me that I am but a sojourner. My heart was sorely stricken when required to part from my Willie, the more because of my long cherished hopes that his collegiate course would fit him for the highest occupation. I had given him to the Lord, as Hannah did her Samuel. And now when he writes me the sad contrast of the din and mob of a machine shop in Baltimore and his pleasant life at college, I can only pray, while I weep in the solitude of the ‘Prophet’s Chamber,’ that the severe discipline may be wholesome to higher ends than Engineering! If the Lord will, He can by His Holy Spirit’s power, after my Willie suffers awhile, settle him in the holy ministry. My soul has been brought to Gethsemane by this last passing under the rod, more than ever. But in Lent how seasonable, and how the Lord mingles mercies with needful afflictions! I expect to go to Stonington to-morrow. My solace will be in lightening my sister’s cares and especially in helping to train her children to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
Willie I hope to go to see in May. Jemie, at West Point, may not come to me. His last report of health records a most miraculous escape from sudden death in his cavalry exercise!
Please offer my affectionate greetings to your honored mother.

SCARSDALE, September 20th, 1855 I have not dried my pen since talking pages to Willie, but kind thoughts are not exhausted and at last I may send you, our dear Mr. Gamble, a portion of those cherished in review — of our renewal at the cottage, and in response to your welcome report of your home greeting from your honored mother and sister. I spent, as did Willie, the last week of August in 14th St. in his society, at the home of our branch of the Jaffray house. Dear friend, unite with me in prayers for these precious lads, that every change to them may be sanctified. Willie read aloud the tract you sent him, but not as though he were convinced. We can only sow the good seed and wait the Lord’s blessing upon it. Willie speaks of you affectionately, so for his sake you will wish to repeat your visit on his holiday.

SCARSDALE, February 4th, 1856 My New Year’s greeting is quite a month later than I had hoped to offer it. But you know how much my pair of hands have to accomplish daily, though my thoughts are excursive among dear absentees. My children, scattered, must each be written to separately. Willie, since his return to Trinity College last month, has had a check put upon his ardor to study more earnestly; a cold and fever confined him to bed. I doubt not the Lord ordered it for his more permanent benefit. How many lessons has a widowed mother to ‘Be still and know it is the Lord,’ that faith may be exercised. What can I do now for my Jemie but pray, believing! The Lord may draw him nearer to himself in his absence from me. He benefited by spending six weeks with his sister in London, for her winning counsels so affectionately impressed him, and her husband, an amateur artist, was a most capable advisor. Jemie finds his stipend enough for his living in Paris. He goes to his drawing class just after breakfast until two o’clock; directly after that to a modelling school, after which he discusses with Étudiants. You can imagine how much he is in his element. But now, dear Mr. Gamble, I will not indulge in a retrospect of the happy days when you were the companion of my precious boys in the Bronx, though my heart treasures it.

SCARSDALE, January 13th, 1857 Willie was two weeks, at Xmas, at the cottage, and we were tête-à-tête in the snuggest corner we could make or he read aloud to me while I repaired his tatters! Dear Willie, how I miss his companionship! I hear of my student in Paris as well and doing well. And now I am wishing you a happy New Year. I will close my twilight scrawl.

STONINGTON, CONN. June 10th, 1857 Since your proof of valuing conversation with me, in the trouble you put yourself in meeting me at Jersey City, you may have wondered at my making no communication. But you are too charitable to suspect me of being a willing defaulter. During two months after my return to the cottage, there was a greater demand on my strength than was easy to meet. The suspense about my dear Willie was not relieved till a fortnight since, when he availed of a smiling Providence for entering upon his course of medical study in the office and under the roof of a most exemplary friend, Dr. Darrach in Philadelphia. I have two reports since then very encouraging. I have always valued the overtures from your home circle and shall not be satisfied until I have seen your honored mother. My time is very limited, health requiring me to go to Richfield for the healing waters of the sulphur springs. A very nice Mrs. Mis to accommodate myself and friend, for five dollars a week. The day after Willie went to Philadelphia I went to visit friends in Springfield, Mass., who had wished to talk with me of Jemie since their return from Paris. I enjoyed a week in their home.

1203 Arch St., October 17th, 1858 If my Willie were here as he usually is on Sunday, at my side, he would be eyes to me in devotional reading. I attempt to use my pen because alone and unable yet to read. Perhaps I was unwise in being on the side of the Eastwiches in their call to take my dear Willie to their rural home last evening to spend the Sabbath, for certainly I wished him; listening as I did this morning to a very graphic sketch of the power of religion, sweetening the toils and vexations of Pilgrims, drawn from the text of the waters of Marah, I felt the force of the arguments as in my daily experience. Willie could not have but been interested by so eloquent and earnest a preacher. But the medical course of lectures and study keep Willie so confined he needs country air, and, among so exemplary companions of his own age, to relax his mind and invigorate his frame. He was sorry at leaving me alone, to be gone two nights! He reads to me always before saying good night. I tell him I am reconciled to the suspension of sight that he may thus unite with me in ‘daily steps towards Heaven’ and the searching the Scriptures in connection with that well arranged Church accompaniment. Sometimes I cannot do without Willie’s eyes even at our family worship, in the Scarsdale book which I ought to know by heart. I know, my dear Mr. Gamble, you and your dear mother pray for me and my boys, for I think of you both daily, when I beseech God to hear and to bless His people who so remember me and mine. My poor Jemie has lately been tenderly affected by the death of Madame B-in Paris. She was as a sister to him; he spent his Sundays at her house and sometimes went at her entreaty with her to Chapel, the English Church. Her funeral was in my daughter’s home in London, as her request was to be buried in her native land. He needs your earnest prayers and I know you love the thoughtless but affectionate Jemie. Willie has just heard that he is to go to St. Louis to engage in an enterprise there, even without a parting embrace! Well, sad to say, such is the course of this world!

1203 Arch St., December 5th, 1858 On Saturday I was so delighted to get a letter from Jemie dated Sloane St., Nov. 14th, where he says he expects to stay all winter. His sister and brother write me they are exerting all their energies to make him prefer London for his work to Paris. I shall try to interest all friends to become subscribers to a set of etching views of France and Germany, Jemie’s first complete work of the kind! Twelve single sheets (Mr. Haden, who has superior artistic judgment and taste, thinks them of rare beauty!) at two guineas, the set to be bound as a drawing room album or framed as separate pictures, as subscribers may prefer. You must know that the dear fellow, during a pedestrian tour through those parts of France and Germany this Autumn, was inspired by the beauty of nature to sketch them, then on his return to Paris to impress on copper plates the etchings. Mr. Haden happened to go to Paris, sought Jemie after he had attended to whatever took him there, was surprised at the beauty of his work, but was pained to see him not taking care of his health and coaxed him into consenting to spend the winter in their home, and realizing a competency from sale of his work. You may imagine my trembling anxiety, my earnest prayers that God may bless the endeavors of my pious daughter and her good husband to settle Jemie’s versatile genius at this crisis. Mr. Haden warrants him 25 subscribers at two guineas each in London, and depends upon my interesting 25 in Jemie’s native land to subscribe. What can be done must be promptly communicated by me to Sloane St. Jemie writes enthusiastically of his expectations, too, from the exhibition in Paris, but his dear, fond sister replies, ‘To succeed he must receive 50 subscribers. Mr. Haden will forward safely to all subscribers.’ Praise God and bless His holy name for all His tender mercies towards the widow and the fatherless!

7 Lindsey Row, CHELSEA, LONDON May 5th, 1864 A sprained forefinger on my right hand explains the mystery of my silence, for you know readily your old friend Mrs. Whistler has always welcomed your arrival. Jemie has returned recently from his second trip to Paris this spring. He is so pressed for time because of a picture now on his easel, ordered and promised for a birthday present, that he can neither read nor write for his mother; he had to, however, your letter in pencil from Homeland which my eyes could not read. Believe me, your expression of loving him as a brother was not thrown away upon him! Don’t come yet to London; it would so mortify him not to be at liberty to show you attention. He joins me in love to you. We have no plans yet for summer.

CHELSEA, LONDON, February 10th, 1864 It is needless to tell you how much I have wished to respond to your kind letter. Accept now my heartfelt thanks for the friendly interest you continue to show towards Jemie; he will be most delighted to attend to your commissions, especially to paint you a cabinet picture, for painting is so irresistible. He has been so engaged in subjects ordered before I came that I fear they will not be finished this season and the etchings will have to wait until summer, but that will be a more favorable season for shipping them. I enquired of a New York lady lately of her experience. She encouraged me by showing it to be reasonable, but said articles sent last November, most pressingly needed before Christmas, were not delivered before January 1.

Are you interested in old china? This artistic abode of my son is ornamented by a very rare collection of Japanese and Chinese. He considers the paintings upon them the finest specimens of art, and his companions (artists), who resort here for an evening’s relaxation occasionally, get enthusiastic as they handle and examine the curious figures portrayed. Some of the pieces more than two centuries old. He has also a Japanese book of paintings, unique in their estimation. You will not wonder that Jemie’s inspirations should be (under such influences) of the same cast. He is finishing at his studio a very beautiful picture for which he is to be paid one hundred guineas without the frame, that is always separate. I’ll try to describe this inspiration to you. A girl seated, as if intent upon painting a beautiful jar which she rests upon her lap — a quiet and easy attitude. She sits beside a shelf which is covered with matting, a buff color, upon which several pieces of china and a pretty fan are arranged, as if for purchasers; a Scinde rug carpets the floor. (Jemie has several in his rooms and none others.) Upon it by her side is a large jar, and all these are facsimiles of those in this room, which is more than half studio, for here he has an easel and paints generally, tho he dignifies it as our withdrawing room, for here is our bright fire and my post.

To finish my poor attempt at describing the Chinese picture, which I hope may come home finished this week — there is a table covered with a crimson cloth upon which there is a cup (Japanese), scarlet in hue, a sofa covered with buff matting too, but each so distinctly separate, even the shadow of the handle of the fan. No wonder Jemie is not a rapid painter, for his conceptions are so nice; he takes out and puts it over and oft until his genius is satisfied. During a very sharp frost of a few days, I think for two days, ice was passing as we looked out upon the Thames. He could not resist painting, while I was shivering at the open window, two sketches which all say are most effective; one takes in the bridge. Of course they are not finished; he could not leave his Oriental paintings, which are ordered, and he has several in progress. One portraying a group in Oriental costume on a balcony, a tea equipage of old China; they look out upon a river, with a town in the distance. I think the finest painting he has done is hanging now in this room, which three years ago took him so much away from me. It is called Wapping. The Thames and so much of its life — shipping, steamers, coal heavers, passengers going ashore, all so true to the peculiar tone of London and its river scenes. It is so improved by his perseverance to perfect it! A group on the inn balcony has yet to have the finishing touches. He intends to exhibit it at Paris in May with some of these etchings which won him the gold medal in Holland last year. While his genius soars upon the wings of ambition, the everyday realities are being regulated by his mother, for with all the bright hopes he is ever buoyed up by, as yet his income is very precarious.

I am thankful to observe that I can and do influence him. The artistic circle in which he is only too popular is visionary and unreal, tho so fascinating! God answered my prayers for his welfare, by leading me here. All those most truly interested in him remark upon the improvement in his home and health. The dear fellow studies as far as he can my comforts, as I do all his interests, practically — it is so much better for him generally to spend his evenings tête-à-tête with me, tho I do not interfere with hospitality in a rational way, but I do all I can to render his home as his father’s was. My being in deep mourning and in feeble health excuses my accepting invitations to dine with his friends. I like some of the families in which he is intimate and I have promised to go to them when the birds sing and the flowers bloom in the fields. The Greek Consul is one of his patrons; I like his wife and daughters.

I have had some relief to my deep anxiety about my dear Willie, in hearing from him that his health was improved by his having gone to visit his wife’s relatives. I must not omit mentioning that Jemie goes to church with me and likes the pastor of Christ Church, which we attend. The winter has been remarkably fine but now again a thick frost, no snow, and scarcely any rain. The fogs are very gloomy. I prefer my native land at all seasons. Ah, shall I ever have a home in it?

Thursday, 11th You will notice of my reporting yet of Jemie, dear Mr. Gamble, he had a trying time yesterday; because of the frosty fog, he had to abandon his painting, so he came to his dinner not in his usual bright way; and his mother sympathizes. We neither of us had relish for our nice little dinner; however, in the evening the parcel delivery came to divert our disappointment. The gold medal which you knew was awarded him for his etchings, in Holland, came most seasonably, with a flattering letter from the president of the Academy of Fine Arts. The inscription too, on the massive gold medal with James Whistler’s name in full, how encouraging! There was no American news in the Times, so that was soon despatched. Then Jemie was inspired to begin a pencil sketch, after which he read aloud to me; at eleven I left him at his work. In the morning I asked him what message to you; he said brightly, ‘ My love to Mr. Gamble and tell him I shall be much pleased to paint the picture he so kindly ordered; also I will send the two sets of etchings as soon as I get through my pressing engagements.’ He is now thinking of selling the large picture ‘Wapping’ to a gentleman in Scotland. Share my most affectionate remembrance with your dear mother.

7 Lindsey Row, June 7th, 1864 I have wished and endeavored to thank you for your tokens of remembrance, but tho I live secluded, I find my strength unequal to the demands upon me. Jemie is quite well, but too closely confined to his studio. I never am admitted there, nor anyone else but his models; so you see, my dear friend, you might as soon let him be at your side in your Country House, as to give you a place as spectator at his easel. He unites with me in the most hearty greetings and thanks you for the ticket of admission to the Museum. I rejoice in your prospect of a tour into Scotland. How comforting that you are with dear, kind relatives in your absence from Homeland. The distressed state of my beloved native land depresses me, but the Lord will order as most fits to promote my future and eternal interests. The struggling South is not fighting for Slavery, but in defense of its homes. My daily prayer is that God will bring North and South to repentance, for it is his rod of indignation which has taken away the pride of the Union! I hope to have to report something more cheering of my darling Willie. God has so far encouraged me to hope he is protected. I have heard that which I have sent him has reached him safely, but only one of his letters has come to me as yet. God has always been a help to me; I can truly say, ‘Hitherto, hast thou blessed me,’ and my faith does not fail me.

LONDON, April 10th, 1866 I wonder, dear Mr. Gamble, if your sister will be welcomed home before this can reach you! I have been ill since she called to bid me adieu; Jemie has been confined to his studio for nearly a week because of a bad cold. Willie is our beloved physician, trudging all this distance to attend to us. I know you will be glad to hear that Jemie is quite well now and in good spirits about his work. He had some artistic friends on Easter Tuesday to see my portrait especially, as that was sent the same evening to the Royal Academy and with it a lovely grey dawn study of the river. I was up in my Japanese bedroom seated in my armchair and refused not the particular friends and admirers of my son’s work, who begged permission to tell me their impressions of the picture. If I were to write all that was said, you’d fear a proof of the human weakness had overcome me in my declining years. But my gratitude goes up to the One source of help on which I rely for the continued success of either of my dear boys. Their struggles are so unwearied to attain position to enable them to keep bright their name and to gain an honest livelihood. Both their professions involve unavoidable expense with the strictest self-denial and practical economy, as yet the income so inadequate to cover expenses. But I know all the discipline must be best for them. I am always sorry to be an additional care when I fain would be up and doing to keep our house in a good method.
I wish I could take you into the home next door to see a couple who are the genuine English lady and gentleman of the old school! They have lived at No. 3 Lindsey Row for 39 years. I love her as a sister. Just now a neighbor and friend interrupted my writing. She has just told me what some of Jemie’s friends said of the portrait of my unworthy self when they were here on Easter Tuesday. An artist said to her, ‘It has a holy expression. Oh, how much sentiment Whistler has put into his mother’s likeness!’ Your sister will tell you how wonderfully the three cases of portraits were preserved from fire on the railroad train, tho many packages of valuable luggage were entirely consumed. The flames had reached the case in which my portrait was, but in time to be discovered; the lid was burnt, a side of the frame was scorched, yet the painting uninjured. You will know my thankfulness for the Interposition that my dear Jemie was spared the loss of his favorite work. I hope it is a favorable omen that it may be hung properly in the Royal Academy for the exhibition. It is more encouraging to my hopes of Jemie that at this time, when the World is offered him, he should confide in me voluntarily his desire to unite with me in the highest of all attainments. His is natural religion; he thinks of God as the diffusive source of all he enjoys, in the glories of the firmament, the loveliness of flowers, the noble studies of the human form. The Creator of all!
Yesterday was unexpectedly a meeting in his studio of admirers of his pictures now exhibited in the Dudley Gallery and in a Bond St. exhibition of the French School. My dear son was so happy that at last his paintings are appreciated; his years of hard work seem now to be rewarded, and tho he is more than ever industrious, it is scarcely labor. I shall send to my sister extracts from the paper, upon the Whistler pictures now in the two exhibitions. She likes to have them for the Stonington Weekly News and sends to our friends. The Alexander portrait is nearly finished.

2 Lindsey Houses, CHELSEA, LONDON September 7th, 1870 I am delayed in answering your letter because of ill health. The London Season brought many visitors to Jemie’s studio. I must be mistress of ceremonies, for Jemie keeps closely to his work all day and I have to try to be agreeable to the friends and patrons till he can receive them. Mr. Leyland, who is not only a prosperous man in Liverpool but a very cultivated gentleman of taste, has been especially kind, and while the family were in their elegant mansion at Queen’s Gate, Hyde Park, our intercourse was frequent, but Jemie was most there, dining or going with them to operas, which was healthful recreation after his long day’s work. Now he has been staying at the Hall four weeks; he is there to paint a full-length portrait of Mr. Leyland, which he writes me is getting on capitally. I was invited to accompany Jemie for a longer visit than we made there last fall, but I would not leave Willie.

CHELSEA, LONDON, March 13th, 1872 We are in the pressure of the season. Jemie begins work directly after our eight o’clock breakfast. He is perfecting the portrait of Mr. Leyland and trying to finish a beautiful life-size portrait of Mrs. Leyland. The pictures must be sent to the Royal Academy the 1st or 2nd of April, though the exhibition is not to open until a month later. I will not build castles or anticipate rewards to Jemie’s diligence. I am sure you will be interested in your friend Jemie coming before the London artistic world after his withdrawal for perfecting his studies. He is an early riser now, that he may benefit and enjoy a row on the river from 7 until 8 o’clock, when he joins me for breakfast. It is his only meal until the 7 o’clock dinner or even later; while he works almost without respite, he seems to realize no desire for food, but only work whilst it is called to-day!

April 20th A cheering report came about Jemie’s picture of his mother. It is considered a fine work and it is well hung at the Royal Academy!

CHELSEA, LONDON, November 5th, 1872 Did I not write you of a moonlight picture of this river, exhibited in the Dudley Gallery last Autumn? We have formed a friendship with Mr. Alexander and his family since he bought that picture in June. He is a banker of prominence. Jemie is painting a life-size portrait of his second little daughter. The picture is nearly finished now. Mrs. Alexander has brought Cecily twice a week to stand in the studio. Their home is eight miles from here, so of course they come for the day and lunch with me; thus my time is spent. Tho pleasant, friends require the courtesies; it accounts for my not writing absent ones whose claim is more on my heart! I went once to the home of the Alexander family in their carriage and staid in with them from Saturday afternoon till Monday, attending their church and also the Lord’s table with them, so at once we became attached. They have sent me delicious fruits, hothouse grapes and peaches! Always so thoughtful of me.

CHELSEA, LONDON, September 30th, ‘74 It is a fortnight since my return home. Jemie not yet come, but I am cheered in waiting by thoughts of his benefiting in country air while at work.
My own birthday was on Sunday, 27th September. My sons cannot realize that their mother, who sympathizes with them so, as if yet young, can have attained the term allotted to pilgrims on earth. But I do, and try to live day by day prepared for the summons. I am not requiring spectacles to write and only by candle light a reading glass. I wonder if I ever wrote you of all Jemie did to this house, No. 2? You would be delighted at its brightness in tinted walls and staircase. We have a nice Swiss youth in place of the little Irish Romanist, whom you thought not cheerful looking.

Talbot House, 43 St. Mary’s Terrace HASTINGS Here I have been for 13 months, and by the blessings of the Lord upon this salubrious climate, and loving attentions bestowed, health is restored beyond the expectation at ‘threescore and 10.’ I am sure you will both be charmed in this retreat; when London fogs envelop the Park, even in winter, we often have the contrast of blue sky. Some friends of mine came to Hastings for the Easter holidays and sought me, exclaiming, ‘Where did you hear of this house, so exactly suited to you?’
My dear Artist son’s summer has been spent in decorating a spacious dining-room for Mr. Leyland. It is indeed quite an original design! A great undertaking, painting walls and ceiling as he would do a picture in oils. By the desire of Mr. Leyland Jemie staid in the home, beginning work at 7 in the morning, and I know how reluctantly he would break off to dress for 8 o’clock dinner. Imagine him on ladders and scaffoldings using his palette and studio brushes! No wonder he looks thin, tho he is so elastic in spirit and thankful for strength according to his need. He sent me last Saturday’s weekly of ‘the Academy’ with an article on this work which he has just finished. I think we must have an extract sent to New York to appear in some home journal for the gratification of our kind sympathizers. Once his sister, having called in vain to see him in Lindsey Houses, went to the room and saw him at work. She wrote me that it was beautiful beyond her language to describe. Tho when dear Jemie came to see me for a day or two last month, he with his pencil enabled me to fancy it.
He came to bid me good-bye, in anticipation of soon going to Venice to make a set of 12 etchings. I pray he may be permitted to succeed in working out-of-doors. I fear if your friend Mr. Moore found Lindsey Houses, he was told, as all others are, that the Artist was not at home, and he may have concluded that at least he might have returned his call. But I beg of you to explain that his time was not his own. It is about two years now since I saw any of his work except a lovely moonlight picture which he brought up to show me in my sick chamber. I hear from the few who are admitted into his studio that he has some very great improvements in painting portraits. You may be sure I was sorry that he had nothing finished for the Centennial. It would have been so gratifying if he could have attended our National Exhibition in person, but you know he has never left England since he established himself among its competitors for distinction in Art. You will be interested to hear that he has the undisputed ascendancy as an Etcher! Prices for his etchings have risen to four times their original value and it is gratifying to collectors to know that he will resume this branch of art.
Don’t think, dear friend, that my mind is yet set on worldly things! But my sympathies go out, tho my heart is bent on higher attainment for my sons; God has given the talent and it cannot be wrong to appreciate it.
On the 27th, my birthday, 72. ‘In the evening it is light.’
How gracious is the Lord!