The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Gibson, Susanna Arethusa Milner-
Record 2 of 3

System Number: 07635
Date: 15 July 1849
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Fleetwood
Recipient: Joseph Harrison[2]
Place: St Petersburg
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 34/35-36
Document Type: ALS[3]


Monday July 15th 1849

My dear & most kind friends

I have not abandoned the interest in letters from St P, which the past connection with it induced & yours of the 22 of June O S[5] which reached me at this sea bathing place by the last mail, was eagerly opened & read by me. Let me assure you of my thankfulness at the report of "all well among the American colony["]. I hope to meet dear Mrs Leland, Annie & Henry[6] in Liverpool whither I go next saturday. I shall be joined at my friend Mrs Sandlands[7] by my boys[8] & their fond Aunt Alicia[9] from Scotland, they wrote me from Miss Morgans[10] of their welcome to her mothers house last thursday evening, after a rather overheated journey but an interesting one, what a quick transit now a days, by steam! they left Preston by the 10 oclock train & reached Edinburgh at 7 in the evening. Wm Mirrielles[11] is devoting his leisure hours to shewing them that beautiful town & they have invitations for the whole route in returning thro Stirling, Glasgow &c. Eliza Sandland[12] now Mrs Boyd will wish to detain them at the last, for she has settled down after her bridal tour to house keeping but time is so precious & Aunt Alicia will wish to be with me the last week of my stay in England! she would have been disappointed not to have shown them to her old friends & also that they should not have been able to say they had seen Edinburg - so though I know it must henceforth become [p. 2] a duty with me to practice economy, I could not withdraw my first consent to the plan purposed for the double pleasure to these so dear to me & the jaunt I do not apprehend will exceed ten pounds. As George wrote his disapproval of my plan of taking passage in a sailing packet because of the exposure to epidemics from steerage passengers, I at once decided upon securing berths for my boys. Mary[13] & self in the steamer America[14], for which I am to pay ninety pounds, thus notwithstanding my determination to make the $100 already drawn upon Barings Co[15], sufice, I was relieved of anxiety by your fore thought dear Mr Harrison in arranging for me to draw again upon you thro your banker. When I do so I shall write you to what amount, I wish I may eke out of £50 more all that is indispensible, [sic] but England is not the country to make a small sum go far, when I get settled in New England I shall regulate my expenditure.

My Sister Winstanley[16] who is my senior of 20 years & has great experience of the world, argues against my embarking upon the ocean unprovided against accidents, - & that I may easily exchange Sovereigns for dollars if we reach our port in safety - but I am thinking of the proportion to my income[17] & that I fear the sale in St P will not cover my travelling expenses, this I know you do not consider my kind friend! yet I would not take advantage of your generosity. All in good time I hope we shall square accounts, & I will not pain you by expressing all my thanks to you, rather will I offer them to Him who considereth the cause of the widow & fatherless, for raising me up friends in a land of strangers, & my prayers for you & yours are that He will bless you.

[p. 3] When we follow our convictions of what is right dear Mr Harrison, & we are over - ruled by circumstances, then we must patiently wait, not doubting all will work together wisely for us, for if God taketh care of the birds of the air[18], He will even in trifles prove He ordereth all thing for His people now, He may see it needful to restrain my eagerness to get my future home regulated. tho we will hope the furniture sent to Boston may safely reach N Haven at last. let us not feel annoyed by our busy countrymans officiousness his motive appears a friendly one, & I suppose his agents in his native town will save me all the trouble in their power. As to the most precious case[19] sent by the Medora[20], I wrote Capt Swift [21] to advise J Wales Esq[22] & also our friend Mr Dexter[23] to be on the look out for the ship, & to beg the favor of our friend Mr Raymond Lee[24] sending some careful person with it to Stonington. So Maxwell [25] must not have his friendship put to such a test as to leave his post, tho I doubt not he will wish to be among the mourners at the grave. Yes many sincere friends will meet there to be solemnly impressed by the voice of God "dust thou art to dust thou shalt return[26]" but the spirit shall return to God who gave it! Oh that all whom Whistler[27] was interested in, would in the midst of their pursuits, prepare for the solemn separation of soul & body as he did! for was evident to me who studied him so intensely, that the nearer he drew the close of his career, the more carefully he acted upon the belief that [...] who profess & call our selves christians are witnesses for Christ, and it being appointed to men once to die & afterward the judgment! gave a solemn weight to his every sentiment & action. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord[28]! their works do follow them", yet they have no value, except as evidences of faith in Christ. I know my dear husbands humility, but Christ was his example & his hope. As I am continually dwelling in his sick chamber (when not soaring to where I hope to meet him after I have passed thro the mortal struggle - his few wishes expressed with such difficulty recur to me. Do you remember his care for Williams[29]? Perhaps if you would represent it to him, he might desire to live to [p. 4] reward it. Is he employed on the bridges now - or how can he get back to his native land? I forget even the name of the other who had turned to Whistler in distress & who therefore was mentioned by him as one you might try again. Hadenskongg[30] I fear is but as the swine, returned to wallowing in the mire alas! why will those who have talents throw them away? Say a good word to Peotre[31] in my name to keep him straight. tell him I enquire if he reads the bible I gave him - every day. I suppose Coharka[32] [sic] has gone to Finland. My good Mary is now visiting her mother in Ireland, I shall summon her just to get ready for the 25 a week from next saturday. my sister Eliza will go with me from Preston next Saturday for the day just to see me safe & she & Mr W[33] another day before we embark will spend a day at Mrs Sandlands with myself & boys.

I have heard of Ingersolls[34] arrival in London & hope my boys may see him at Dunoon Mr B[35] was disgracing himself when I heard of him in one of the most fashionable hotels of London. Mr Gibson[36] looked better & really felt so, than for years[.] Remember me to our good Doctor R[37] tell him it was the hot air bath (not vapour) which has benefitted Mr G's rheumatism[.] he talked of returning to Brighton. This is a remarkably fine season in England, the heat in London exceedingly complained of, but prospect of fine crops thro out the kingdom cheering. I came to this sea side place for my daughters health - we are very much more retired & quiet here than I could be in any town, & this I felt is good for me. the warm salt baths too are beneficial & my host & hostess so kind, but I leave them tomorrow evening.

You[38] will direct for "Mrs Whistler. Care of Doctor Palmer[39]. Stonington. Connt." until I date from N Haven. I shall always report on proceedings to you, for I believe your interest in us will not be lessened by separation. Kiss my God daughter[40] for me[,] give my love to all downstairs. Mrs Haden met Mr Ellerby[41] at the Preston Station last thursday as he was passing thro to visit Scotland. I have sent to Miss Morgan to get me the address of Doctor Law[42] & if I obtain his certificate this week I shall enclose it to Capt Swift by the next mail Steamer. Remember me to Mr & Mrs Winans[43] & to the Princes[44]. Mr Gellibrand[45] will have seen you I hope ere this reaches you. the Piano[46] &c not yet reported what does Mr Ropes[47] say to this delay? I have not heard from the Eastwicks[48]. I feel my health improving & it cheers me to observe that my dear daughter[49] has benefited by coming to Lancashire. she bathes in the sea daily & feels stronger[,] we are with Mr W, & my Sister visiting their old friends Mr & Mrs Ormerod[50]. baby[51] is a welcome guest continue to write me all that interests you & believe me gratefully

your attached friend


This document is protected by copyright.


[Address label:] Via Hamburg & Stettin

Joseph Harrison Esq
Harrison Winans & Eastwick
St Petersburg
[Postmark:] HAMBURG / 10-11 / 20 / 7
[Postmark:] FLEETWOOD / JU 16 / 1849
[Postmark:] PRES[...] / C / JY 16 / 1849


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

2.  Joseph Harrison
Joseph Harrison (1810-1874), jr, partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more].

3.  ALS
There are the remains of a black wax seal.

4.  Fleetwood
Queens Terrace, Fleetwood, Lancashire, was the home address of Richard Ormerod (see below); also see Slater's Directory of Lancashire, 1848, vol. 1, p. 200.

5.  O S
Old Style or Julian Calendar, adopted under Julius Caesar in 46 BC.

6.  Mrs Leland, Annie & Henry
Mrs Leland; Joseph Harrison's sister. Annie Harrison (1839-1915), and William Henry Harrison (b. 1837), children of Joseph and Sarah Harrison; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 7 July 1849, #07634.

7.  Mrs Sandlands
Betsey Sandland of Liverpool, friend of AMW.

8.  my boys
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more], and William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

9.  Aunt Alicia
Alicia Margaret Caroline McNeill (1786-1863), JW's aunt [more].

10.  Miss Morgans
Isabella Morgan (1817-1853), daughter of Steven and Elizabeth Morgan of St Petersburg; she was recorded in the 1851 census of Edinburgh, as 'unmarried, age 36, born at St Petersburg.'

11.  Wm Mirrielles
William Spurr Mirrielees (b. 1828), son of A. Mirrielees. William was recorded in the 1851 census of Edinburgh, as unmaried, age 22, student at the University, with his place of birth St Petersburg, Russia.

12.  Eliza Sandland
Eliza Sandland (b. 1821), wife of Thomas Boyd [more]; she was married to Thomas Boyd on 21 June 1849, in Barony, Lanark, Scotland.

13.  Mary
Mary Brennan (b. 1825), AMW's servant [more].

14.  steamer America
Steamer America (1848), Cunard Line (1,826 tons.). See N. R. P. Bonsor, North Atlantic Seaway, An Illustrated History of the Passenger Services Linking the Old World with the New, Lancashire, 1955.

15.  Barings Co
Baring Brothers and Co.

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

17.  proportion to my income
AMW had an semi-annual income inherited from the estate of George W. Whistler, deriving mainly from Railroad stocks; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 19 June 1849, #07629.

18.  taketh care of the birds of the air
'Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.' Matt. 13.32; 'And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.' Matt. 8.20.

19.  most precious case
GWW's coffin; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 19 June 1849, #07629, 25 June 1849, #07633, and 13 August 1849, #07637.

20.  Medora
Steamer Medora, probably one of the two vessels named Medora, built prior to the the date of this letter: 1. Built in 1835 at Louisville, Kentucky (210 tons.). 2. Built in 1845 at New Albany, Indiana (198 tons.); see William M. Lytle and Forrest R. Holdcamper, Merchant Steam Vessels of the United States, 1790-1868, revised and edited by C. Bradford Mitchell, Baltimore, 1975, p. 142. The steamer probably belonged to the Ropes family. It arrived in New York on 27 August 1849 from Antwerp, with 203 passengers; its captain was Mr Hammer (tonnage not stated, nor the ownership.). See Passenger Lists of Vessels arriving at New York 1820-1897, Microfilm M 237, Roll # 83: 24 August to 25 September 1849, National Archives, Washington, DC.

21.  Capt Swift
Captain William Henry Swift (1800-1879), brother-in-law of JW's father [more].

22.  J Wales Esq
Not identified.

23.  Mr Dexter
William Dexter (b. 1799), farmer.

24.  Mr Raymond Lee
Raymond Lee, AMW's friend.

25.  Maxwell
John S. Maxwell, secretary of the American Legation in St Petersburg in 1842 [more].

26.  dust thou art to dust thou shalt return
'In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.' Gen. 3.19.

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

28.  Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord
'And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.' Rev. 14.13.

29.  Williams
Williams, probably an engineer working in Russia.

30.  Hadenskongg
Hadenskongg, a Russian acquaintance; see AMW to JW, 4 and 5 December 1848, #06374.

31.  Peotre
Peotre, AMW's servant at St Petersburg.

32.  Coharka
Russ.: cook.

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

34.  Mr B
Arthur Bagby (1794-1858), senator and U. S. minister in Russia from 1848-1849 [more]; see AMW's letter to JW, 1848 x 1849, #06385, and AMW to Joseph Harrison, 7 July 1849, #07634.

35.  Mr Gibson
Gibson, unidentified.

36.  Doctor R
Dr Rogers, AMW's family doctor at St Petersburg.

37.  You
'You .. that' continues and cross-written in the left margin of p. 1; 'my ... are' continues in the left margin of p. 2; 'with ... guest' continues in the right margin; 'continue ... AMW' continues in the right margin of p. 1.

38.  Doctor Palmer
Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), physician, AMW's brother-in-law [more].

39.  God daughter
Probably Alicia McNeill Harrison (b. 1845), daughter of S. and J. Harrison [more].

40.  Mr Ellerby
Rev. Thomas Ellerby, clergyman, in charge of the British and American Chapel at St Petersburg.

41.  Doctor Law
Dr Law, a scottish physician at St Petersburg.

42.  Mr & Mrs Winans
Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more], and his wife Celeste Winans (1823-1861), née Revillon.

43.  the Princes
Ben Prince of St Petersburg, and his brother George Prince, engineer.

44.  Mr Gellibrand
William Clark Gellibrand (b. ca 1791), merchant [more].

45.  Piano
The family piano was shipped to England, and kept by Deborah, while the rest of AMW's household furniture was shipped to America; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 11 June 1849, #07627.

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

47.  the Eastwicks
Andrew McCalla Eastwick (1810-1879), partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more], and his wife Lydia Anne Eastwick (1810-1890), née James.

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

49.  Mr W
John Winstanley (1776-1859), solicitor, JW's uncle [more].

50.  Mr & Mrs Ormerod
Richard Ormerod, engineer, and his wife.

51.  baby
Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, JW's niece [more].