The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Whistler, George William
Record 4 of 158

System Number: 06367
Date: 3 October 1848
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: St Petersburg
Recipient: JW
Place: [Portishead[2]]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W363
Document Type: ALS

St Petersburg

Oct 3rd 1848 Tuesday

Do you remember my dear Jamie[3] Mr Mellville[4] who was staying at Mr Mirriellees[5] last spring, from Odessa[6]? he came to take tea at our house then & gave us such interesting details of the South of Russia & of his travels in the interior, well now he is going to visit his native land Scotland, Mr Ingersoll[7] has very kindly obtained for him a Couriers passport, & I shall avail of it to send your desk & few books; as you may be glad to have them & Wm Mirriellees[8] may not go yet awhile.

I have been writing dear Aunt Winstanley[9] this evening, I received a letter from her today, dated Kirby Lonsdale, Sept 21

Soon after breakfast this morning as dear father[10] had kindly offered to go with me to choose an eye glass for me to send dear Sis[11] for her birth-day, we set out on our walk accompanied by Willie[12], I thought of a guard for your glass & another, stouter, for your watch when you get it, you [will] discover these in your desk, I shall put the knife in it which Sister gave you, keep it there dear Jemie as it is too precious to run the risk of breaking or losing, you will find it handy when you are writing, tho I hope you will not require to use it as often as Willie has used a new one I bought for his desk today. And now dear Jemie it is time for me to say to you "Good night, pleasant dreams, sleep well" & I add God bless you. this was dear Willy Wyatts[13] birthday 15 years old! Aunt Kate[14] [p. 2] writes he is a very superior boy, I wonder if she will find you so dearest Jemie when you return to your native land!

After all our collection of little things for you dearest Jemie they are not to be sent by Mr Melville, dear father thinks William Mirriellees had best take your books Cap &c. Willie bought you a bon bon which you will find in your desk, when you get it, it will remind you of Col Todd[15]. I should have liked to have sent a pr of Russian slippers to each of Mrs Phillotts[16] little girls but we could not ask Mr M to take so large a parcel, I shall some other time send them some proof of my remembrance, I am hoping daily for a letter from you my own dear boy & if you tell us of study having commenced we shall feel like writing your preceptor[17] & his good Lady. I mistook the date last evening it was the 2nd, so this is the evening of Willy Wyatts birthday, Mr Ropes[18] has just been in while father Willie & I were seated around the tea table, to report the American letters have arrived per Italian steamer today in 21 days from N York! only to think of only three weeks between us & our native land! we have not received ours yet, I do hope we shall hear from brother George [19] & from Stonington. Jemie dear I am setting you a very bad example in scribbling thus, but the bustle attendant up [on] my return after the summers absence is my excuse. Let me beg you my dear boy to take pains in writing us, father is so grieved when you are careless, either in spelling or calligraphy, & I am sure you [p. 3] desire to gratify him by your letters, which we shall prize so highly. father is so pleased at your freedom in communicating all your thoughts to us, never conceal them from us, for who could be so ready to feel with you, or who so capable of advising you! I went to day to call on Miss Toutchkoff[20]; she is an invalid confined to her room now, her mother said to me "ah if I had only sent my daughter with Mrs W she might have been well for the winter! my young friend asked after you dear Jemie very kindly she knows the sacrifice we have made for your health & hopes you will take care to improve all your advantages. You will be sorry for Miss Grant[21] that she has lost her father, she had quite devoted herself to him during the cholera[22], while her Mama[23] was spending the summer at Mrs Gwyers[24] on the island[25], but she was induced to visit her friend Mrs Rusk[26] lately, in the country after Mrs Grant returned home, and was still there when the old gentleman was suddenly seized with paralysis last friday, of course she was summoned to her fathers sick room, he died today. he was a remarkable man, in his 80th yet not like an old man. This is their first experience of death in their home. Oh that they may seek comfort where alone it may be found! All next door send much love to you dear Jemie, little Mary Emily[27] would fain have put up all her bon bons for you & for Deborah, if they were easily sent we should have gratified her. We went to the Russian [p. 4] Magazine[28] this afternoon & father ordered home for me four of the most delightful plants in full & odoriferous bloom, his birds I hope will sing again when they have green leaves around them. The weather continues fine, I wish it may be so in England that you may take walks & sketch out of doors when lessons are over. I envy my letter which is to leave St P. tomorrow to be clasped in your hand soon. God bless you my dear, dear boy! Our happiness depends on your good conduct, be obedient, be respectful to Mr and Mrs P. be kind to your companions. I wish for you to profit by our good Cow who gives us more milk than we can use - but Mrs P. promised you shall have milk, I am willing to pay for a quart of new milk per day for you, that you may have it at every meal, say this[29] if you have an opportunity to Mrs P. from me. It is not that I would pamper you, this is for your health.

Write soon to cheer your


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

2.  Portishead
JW's boarding school, Eldon Villa, was at Portishead.

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

4.  Mr Mellville
Melville, a friend of AMW, of St Petersburg.

5.  Mr Mirriellees
Archibald Mirrielees (1797-1877), merchant [more].

6.  Odessa
Odessa, a seaport and administrative centre of Odessa oblast (province), southwestern Ukraine. During the 19th century Odessa's growth was rapid, especially after the coming of railways in 1866. Odessa became the third city of Russia and the country's second most important port, after St Petersburg.

7.  Wm Mirriellees
William Spurr Mirrielees (b. 1828), son of A. Mirrielees.

8.  Mr Ingersoll
Ralph Isaacs Ingersoll (1789-1872), lawyer and U. S. Minister to Russia from 1846-1848 [more].

9.  Aunt Winstanley
Eliza Isabella Winstanley (1788-1857), née McNeill, JW's aunt, AMW's half-sister [more].

10.  dear father
George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more].

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

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

13.  Willy Wyatts
William Wyatt McNeill (1833-1853), JW's cousin [more].

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

15.  Col Todd
Charles Stewart Todd (1791-1871), lawyer and diplomat, U. S. Minister to Russia from 1841-1846 [more].

16.  Mrs Phillotts
Mrs Phillott, wife of JW's tutor at Portishead.

17.  your preceptor
Phillott, JW's tutor at Portishead [more].

18.  Mr Ropes
William Hooper Ropes (1811-1891), merchant [more].

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

20.  Miss Toutchkoff
Miss Toutchkoff, daughter of Mrs Toutchkoff, a friend of AMW, of St Petersburg.

21.  Miss Grant
Miss Grant, daughter of Mrs Grant of St Petersburg.

22.  the cholera
See AMW to JW, 26 September 1848, #06365.

23.  her Mama
Mrs Grant of St Petersburg, a friend of AMW.

24.  Mrs Gwyers
Mary Gwyer, née Grant, of St Petersburg.

25.  on the island
Probably Vasilyevsky Island, St Petersburg. It forms the northwestern corner of the central city, and it was one of the first areas of St Petersburg to be developed because of its defendable position.

26.  Mrs Rusk
Mrs Rusk, a friend of AMW in St Petersburg.

27.  Mary Emily
Mary Emily Ropes, daughter of E. H. and W. H. Ropes.

28.  Magazine
Russ., shop.

29.  this
'this ... P.' continues in the right margin of p. 4; and 'from ... Mother' in the left margin of p. 1.