The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Winans, Neva
Record 5 of 15

System Number: 11968
Date: 5 February 1870
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: London
Recipient: Joseph Harrison[2]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 34/53-54
Document Type: ALS[3]

2 Lindsey Row Chelsea

Febry 5th 1870

My dear Mr Harrison

It was a gratification tho a sad one to receive your expression of sympathy in our loss[4] of one so dear & so valued by friends & relatives, & I sent your letter to Julia[5] to read & have her thanks in return to send you. It is three weeks today since I left herself & her five darling children[6] all in health at Brighton but altho dear Julia had the strength given her (not her own she said) to support her thro the unexpected trial of the death of dear George, she realizes more every day the sadness of her bereavement, his health was failing, but he had always needed her good nursing & she hoped her care of him & the quiet release from business secured, he might be spared to carry thro his parental guidance & accomplish the educating his Sons religiously as good Citizens, for tho he was physically so feeble, his mental energy increased thro this noble ambition, that [p. 2] the standard for manly character his Father had left for him so bright an example to attain, he might train his boys[,] for George's career resembled his dear Fathers[7] & opinions were the same, he remarked in the weeks [of?] illness, to an intimate friend from Russia that he had sometimes a mysterious impression as he was so nearly the age of his father at his death, he might not have his mortal term extended beyond his 49th year! but it was not in a serious tone he said this, he was able to leave his bed each day & gladden the family circle by the cheerfulness of his loving tones at the head of his table at dinner, until on the evening of the 22nd of Decr a sudden sensation very oppressive hastened dear Julia's getting her beloved Patient to bed[.] The next day a Consulting Physician was sent for to London, his opinion was that recurrence of hemorage [sic] must be fatal, but otherwise he might be raised up from that attack & live to suffer many years, but the disease of the liver of so long standing was incurable! We in this home that very day had received dear George's invitation for us to join his family at Christmas dinner, you may judge of the dreadful shock the Telegram brought us early on the 24th telling us George died at midnight the hemorage returned with fatal violence & he suffered only a few hours, his last remark [p. 3] upon realizing the prospect of the end was "Man proposes, but God disposes[8]" How providential that his Balt friend Latrobe[9] had gone to see him that day & staid! and that the good christian Mr Maklin[10] who had such love for George at St P[etersburg] should also have been there all thro the week of his confinement to the house[,] this good man took all the tender care of the precious body until its funeral. I shall be so interested my dear friends if you come to England next summer to tell you both the many happy reflections attendant upon the end of so exemplary a career as George's had been[,] he was 47 years old last July, but looked many years older than his father. We all mourn deeply our bereavement, but he was ready to go & God took his blessed spirit to Paradise. I am writing in such haste for today's mail, I can only add my affectionate regards for you all & that I feel a pleasure in your report of my God daughter Alice[11] & her lovely little girl[,] my love to the dear Mama. If I did not acknowledge your kindness dear Mr Harrison in the trouble you took to obtain for Willie the paper from Doct Rogers[12], it must have been that I thought your letter was in response to mine & that you would not expect or desire a continued correspondence, I felt so grateful to you my heart I know was not at fault, but I often am so pressed for time & have so much writing to do & my eyes not always equal to serve me [p. 4] thro it[,] I fear I appear forgetful when I am not so. Willie bids me say that altho the Medical authorities demand other attestations of his having obtained a Diploma from the College in Phila (of which he wrote Dr James Darrach[13] after he had presented the one from Dr Rogers) yet he felt greatly obliged both to you & to him[;] he is steadily persevering in his Consulting Rooms where he first located himself for practice in this Gt Metropolis, & his Plate with ["]Dr W MacNeill Whistler" is not objected to on the door of the lodging house[.] It is said at the end of seven years in London if a young physician or Surgeon can cover his expenses by his earnings he is among the few favored & successful so we must hope this crowning to perseverance. Willie has been not yet three years practising & at times gets anxious about the difficulties[,] the most careful management even cannot relieve him from as to unavoidable expenses. he [&] Jemie[14] are in excellent health I am thankful to [tell] you, my own is only tolerable, Will you remember me particularly to Mr Eastwick[15] & family, I wish much to write him & shall try to do so ere long. Mr Prince[16] from St P is soon to go to the U S to attest George Whistlers will I am told, & I dare say you both may see him & hear from him all about the pecuniary part of the future for the widow & children. I have not time to read over this! but trust to your friendship & am as ever


A. M. Whistler

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

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

3.  ALS
The paper has a mourning border.

4.  loss
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more], died early in the morning of 24 December 1869 at Brighton, England.

5.  Julia
Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, JW's sister-in-law [more].

6.  children
George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851), Julia de Kay Revillon (b. 1855), née Whistler, Thomas Delano Whistler (b. 1857), Ross Winans Whistler (b. 1858), and Neva Winans (1860-1907), née Whistler, married her cousin Ross Revillon Winans.

7.  Fathers
George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more]; he and his son George William worked at St Petersburg, Russia on railroads. George Washington Whistler's business associate, Ross Winans of the locomotive manufacturing firm 'Winans, Harrison and Eastwick,' became his son's father-in-law. George William looked after the latter's business affairs at St Petersburg after his marriage to Winans' daughter Julia de Kay; see AMW to James H. Gamble, [27 August 1867], #06535.

8.  Man proposes, but God disposes
'For man proposes, but God disposes', (Nam homo proponit, sed Deus disponit), Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471), De Imitatione Christi, bk. 1, ch. 19, sect. 2.

9.  Latrobe
Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Jr (1806-1878), chief engineer on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad [more].

10.  Mr Maklin
Maklin, a friend of G. William Whistler in St Petersburg, not identified.

11.  Alice
Alicia McNeill Harrison (b. 1845), and her mother Sarah Harrison (1817-1906), née Poulterer, wife of Joseph Harrison [more].

12.  Willie the paper from Doct Rogers
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more], seems to have lost his Medical Diploma from the Pennsylvania Medical School. Dr Rogers was its Dean in 1870; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 14 May 1868, #11470.

13.  Dr James Darrach
James Darrach (1828-1869), physician in Philadelphia [more]. William M. Whistler studied medicine in Philadelphia under Darrach's mentorship for a year beginning in May 1857, before he entered the Pennsylvania Medical School; see AMW to JW, 13-15 July [1857], #06485.

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

15.  Mr Eastwick
Andrew McCalla Eastwick (1810-1879), partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more].

16.  Mr Prince
It could be George H. Prince, engineer, or Ben Prince; they were brothers and frequent visitors at AMW's house at St Petersburg; see AMW to JW, 30 September and 12 October 1848, #06368.