The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: McNeill, Maria
Record 3 of 20

System Number: 06378
Date: 22 December 1848, 1 and 4 January 1849
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: [St Petersburg[2]]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London[3]]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W374
Document Type: ALS

Friday 22nd Dec 1848.

In the drawing room, with Willie[4] on sofa

While father [5] is at luncheon with Mr Ingersoll[6] & W Winans[7] I will thank you my own darling Jemie[8] for the notes concluded on the 7th received today, these messages of yours bring sunshine to our side of Dom Ritter[9] may their tone of cheerfulness long continue & the affection they breathe for home never be weakened by absence from it.

Monday 1st Jan New Years Day N. S. 1849

A happy New Year to you my dear Jemie, I am expecting New Years gifts today from precious Sis[10] & you in the shape of reports from the Sloane St home, I do so yearn to hear how Mama & dooshinka [11] & Dyadya Jemie[12], all are! and we are looking for American letters also by today's mail, the last brought me as a great treat one from Cousin Mary McNeill[13] describing their balmy Thanksgiving day, her dear mother[14] so much improved in health that the physicians encouraged their hopes she might quite recover it - & Cousin Donald [15] returned to them after his three year cruise making them so happy by his presence. Mary tells me about Jule's[16] studying German sans doute[17] thy fair Cousine has bright visions of a visit to the "father land" with her teacher Adolphe Rodewald[18], she will learn to appreciate her own native land when she has experienced how much more it abounds in real comforts than any part of the European Continent, but if she can be firm in principle & piety, her light may guide others to choose the straight road[19], and God will bless the union [p. 2] if she be the faithful witness for Jesus in her intercourse with the old world. May He bless my dear niece in the husband of her choice, & bend their hearts in love to Himself; it is not for me, (because I feel my absence too long from my loved native land) to regret that others of my dear family, are to separate from the home circle there; nothing happens by chance, God orders the bonds of our habitations, & if He give grace to those of us He appoints to go out into the old world, to retain the simplicity of the habits formed in our land of steady habits, then we ought not [to] lament the earthly separations, for we shall all meet at last to part no more forever! How often I feel anxiety for you dear Jemie & Willie as to your education abroad, & the precious season of youth spent away from father! & I fear the prospect of his work being completed [20]this year is hopeless, but I have to check impatience, & am made to feel that on earth I have no continuing city[21], I pray that God will make our duty plain to us & grant us His help to enable us to fulfil it. Seymour[22] said you had been somewhat ailing dear boy, but he expected you the next day in town & then he promised to tell us all about you, how I long for his opinion whether you have gained either health or wisdom at Portishead[23]. Father thinks you had best pay by the quarter & if Mr Phillott[24] wishes in advance it is the same to us, we cannot place you by the year, because our own prospects are too unsettled. I suppose on the 1st of Dec you entered your second quarter, [p. 3] as of course your Xmas holidays are included in that term, & Mr P told me something extra must be paid him if you returned to him before the six weeks were out. I hope you will commence studying as soon as you return to your tutor. father wishes to know Mons Adhemars[25] terms for instructing you in french & german, I think for two lessons a week we agreed to pay £4 per quarter, that is one lesson in each language. The lst of March your 3rd quarter at Mr Phillotts will begin, at the end of that I think you'll have to pay your kind Uncle Winstanley[26] a brief visit in anticipation of your voyage to St P. Now, begin the year my own dear Jemie, by breaking up all indolent habits, & study hard, that you may delight us all by your attainments in all that we shall deem important, dear father is so very anxious about you, do not disappoint his hopes in you Jemie. father gave Willie a question to consider & decide upon, it was, whether he believed he should progress most in his education under a private tutor with masters at home, or at school - Willie could not decide, so dear father upon mature deliberations has concluded to keep him at Baxters[27]. he rejoined his class mates there last wednesday, we had scarcely two degrees of frost all last week, last night we had 20! poor Willie is so glad his fortnights holidays begin on thursday next! these dark & frosty mornings he dreads to have to go thro, tho he has such a warm schube[28] & fur jacket under it.

Thursday 4th.

I have been attending examinations at the British school[29] the last two days dear Jemie & am so well satisfied with Mr Watkins.[30] [p. 4] I wish I could persuade dear father to place Willie with him after the holidays. he makes the boys feel he is their friend & his system makes them use their thinking faculties. the Assistant in the English branches (a young student from Scotland[)] exercised the 1st Class in mental arithmatic, I wished Willie had witnessed what lads of 11 & 12 could do; afterwards in Algebra they astonished us all, for you know the school has not really been organised more than four months. In German, Russ & French also they did credit to their masters, Mons Biber (of the Peters school)[31] was there as their instructor. I am most anxious about Willie, he seems to have gained so little at Baxters & dislikes going there so much. he will be coming home for the holidays at 11 o'clock today & Peter[32] must now be sent for all his books as he says he has tremendous tasks to accomplish this fortnight. Tomorrow [the] dear fellow is to go to Alexandroffsky[33] to Mrs Winans[34] Arche de Noel[35], The Revillons[36] are to call & take him in their sledge, he will write you about the juvenile fête dear Jemie & will wish for you there. Mrs Morgan[37] invited him to her Christmas tree for tomorrow[38] also & the little Ropes[39] to theirs - but he was engaged, & I think he will be glad he was, for he will enjoy being with Vanderfleet[40], his only friendly classmate, & with Charley & Hen & Philly[41]. No letters yet from you or Sis! everbody is sending to enquire what news of Mrs Haden? I am sad from hope delayed. Father had[42] a letter from brother George[43] & I one from sister Mary[44], they had seen Mr Joseph Ropes and his bride[45] as they passed thro Baltimore on their wedding tour to visit her friends in Virginia.

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

2.  St Petersburg
AMW is evidently in St Petersburg.

3.  London
In 1848 JW spent Christmas and New Year's at his sister's London home (see below).

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

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

6.  Mr Ingersoll
Colin Macrae Ingersoll (1819-1903), secretary of the American Legation at St Petersburg [more].

7.  W Winans
William Louis Winans (1823-before 1907), locomotive manufacturer and civil engineer [more].

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

9.  Dom Ritter
AMW's residence in St Petersburg, situated across the river from the Academy of Fine Arts.

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

11.  dooshinka
Russ., darling; AMW probably refers to the newly born Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, JW's niece [more].

12.  Dyadya Jemie
Russ., Uncle Jemie.

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

14.  her dear mother
Maria Matilda McNeill (d. January 1852), née Camman, wife of AMW's brother, W. G. McNeill [more]; she obviously recovered from her illness.

15.  Cousin Donald
Donald McNeill Fairfax (1821-1894), naval officer, JW's cousin [more].

16.  Jule's
Julia Catherine Rodewald (1825-1897), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of A. Rodewald, Sr [more].

17.  sans doute
Fr., without doubt.

18.  Adolphe Rodewald
Adolphe Rodewald, Sr (1818-1869), husband of J. C. McNeill [more].

19.  straight road
'Straight road,' 'straight path,' or 'straight gate,' are referred to frequently in AMW's correspondence, and derive from 'For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' Matt. 3.3; 'Enter ye in at the straight gate: for,' Matt. 7.13; 'Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' Mark 1.3. See AMW to JW, 8 and 9 January 1849, 20 January 1849, 11 July 1855, and 1 August 1858, #06381, #06382, #06463, #06498.

20.   being completed
The construction of the St Petersburg-Moscow railroad was not completed until the autumn of 1851. The first passenger train to Moscow left St Petersburg at 11.15 a.m. on 1 November 1851. See J. N. Westwood, A History of the Russian Railways, London, 1964, p. 34.

21.  I have no continuing city
'For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.' Heb. 13.14.

22.  Seymour
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

23.  Portishead
JW's school, Eldon Villa, was at Portishead.

24.  Mr Phillott
Phillott, JW's tutor at Portishead [more].

25.  Mons Adhemars
Adhemars, JW's language tutor at Portishead.

26.  Uncle Winstanley
John Winstanley (1776-1859), solicitor, JW's uncle [more].

27.  Baxters
William McNeill Whistler's school at St Petersburg.

28.  schube
A long fur cloak; see AMW to JW, 11 December 1848, #06375.

29.  British school
Probably the English Church, or 'Chapel of the English Factory,' English Quay, St Petersburg, Russia.

30.  Mr Watkins
Watkins, tutor at the British School at St Petersburg.

31.  Mons Biber (of the Peters school)
Biber, teacher at Peters School, St Petersburg.

32.  Peter
Peotre, AMW's servant at St Petersburg.

33.  Alexandroffsky
See AMW to JW, 15, 16 and 18 September 1848, #06363.

34.  Mrs Winans
Celeste Winans (1823-1861), née Revillon, wife of Thomas De Kay Winans [more].

35.  Arche de Noel
Arche de Noé, Fr., Noah's arc.

36.  The Revillons
The parents of Mrs Thomas De Kay Winans.

37.  Mrs Morgan
Elizabeth Morgan, wife of Steven Morgan.

38.  Christmas tree for tomorrow
According to the old Calendarist Style, 6 January 1849 would have been the Russian Christmas. See N. Dershowitz and E. M. ReingoldCalendrical Calculations, New York , 1997.

39.  little Ropes
Mary Emily Ropes, William Ropes, Jr, Ellen Ropes and Louisa Harriet Ropes (1844-1903), later wife of E. A. Cattley, and Ailie Ropes (b. 1848), children of E. H. and W. H. Ropes.

40.  Vanderfleet
Vanderfleet, William McNeill Whistler's classmate at Baxters, St Petersburg.

41.  Charley [sic] & Hen & Philly
Charles James Eastwick (1836-1908), son of Andrew M. and Lydia A. Eastwick, William Henry Harrison, son of Joseph and Sarah Harrison, and Philip Garrett Eastwick (1838-1905), son of Andrew M. and Lydia A. Eastwick.

42.  had
'had ... Ropes' continues in the right margin; 'and ... Virginia' continues in the left margin of p. 1.

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

44.  sister Mary
Maria James Eastwick (1842-1926), daughter of L. A. and A. M. Eastwick [more].

45.  Mr Joseph Ropes and his bride
Joseph Samuel Ropes, merchant [more], and his wife Anna R. Ropes (d. 1878).