The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02623
Date: 27 July 1875
Author: Kate Livermore[1]
Place: Londonderry
Recipient: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler L157
Document Type: ALS

Northland Terrace

July 27th 1875

My ever beloved friend

A letter this morning received from our dear Debo[3] tells me that I may write to you as you are now well enough to read one of my scrawls. Dear precious friend I need hardly tell you how constantly my heart has been with you in this second long severe illness, and how many times it has seemed as if I must fly to you, to nurse you, to share your dear children's[4] cares and anxiety! and yet my poor sick husband[5], with gout and bronchitis, required all my time and attention, so here I was with my hands full and a divided heart; then there was the comfort of prayer and most earnestly did I commend you and your dear ones to the loving care of our dear Heavenly Father. Debo tells me that you have not yet left your room. I do hope warm settled weather will come soon that you may have entire change of air and scene. Nothing will so [p. 2] soon restore your health and strength as going away from Lindsay Houses for a few weeks. I was so very glad to hear of the sale of even one picture[6]. The darling D. has kept me informed of the principal events of these last weeks. Poor darling! she has had her own share of sorrow and anxiety[7]. I have so often longed to be near to comfort and cheer her; but all looks brighter now, & I trust she will have rest & peace, & her children[8] will live to be great blessings to her. I still cherish the hope that Debo may be able to come to Derry for a visit this Summer or in the early Autumn. In this quiet place she would have rest, & we should all delight to pet and wait upon her. I like to think of the good nurse still with you beloved friend, I know she takes good care of you, & Debo has written of the improvement in the servants, & so dear I hope you have peace & comfort around you. I do not know where our dear Jemmie is. I have a little bit of blue paint on my old black silk dress which I call a rag of moonlight[9] for I brought it away from Jim's Studio.

[p. 3] I am glad to give you a pretty good report of my Gentlemen. Arthur is well again. Robert & Fred[10] returned a week ago from Wales; Robert with a foot still tender from the gout, he now takes a little walk each day, & passes many hours in making a fair copy of Susy's[11] translation of "The Mayor of Frankfort[12]." I hope you have been well enough to see your Grandson and his Bride[13] dear Mrs Whistler! I am glad to know that George has the comfort of a good little wife now that he has no longer the tender care of his Aunt. I wish he would bring Mrs Whistler to see us. If all be well Arthur and Susy will I suppose start on their journey for France on Monday the 9th of August. Arthur needs a change, & it will be a great treat to Susy. Madame Souchard[14] is said to be a charming woman; she is the daughter of a cousin of Mrs Livermore (Arthur's Mother) she married a French gentleman Mons. Souchard & they live in a Chateau 700 years old in a very pretty place. They have no children their only son having died some years ago. I suppose has Debo told you of the death of my friend Mrs Ogilvy[15]. It was a [p. 4] great shock to me, especially as I had left her so well. I have recently received all the particulars of her last hours from the dear devoted Christian friend who was with her. A more, true, earnest, practical, loving Christian, never I believe passed from earth to Heaven; her husband is almost broken hearted, and hardly knows what to do with himself, for he depended so entirely on his wife's energy, for all his comfort in life; he writes me that he supposes it is his duty to go to home in Shetlands, but how he says is he to live there without the wife who was to have made the sunshine and happiness of his home? These partings are indeed very sad, & only for the firm belief that they are only for a short time we could not bear them. I have just received a letter from my friend & former baby pet, Florence Hunter[16] from their new Home at Hampstead, where they have been for the last six weeks, she tells me her beloved sister, Miss Hunter is now confined entirely to her bed, and is failing very fast, her desease [sic] an internal tumour, which being high up in the bowels cannot be reached; she is so lovely, patient, more than resigned, restful and at peace. They have a dear good [p. 5] clergyman with them every day, & their physician says he never saw such patience; sometimes her sufferings are very severe, and sometimes she is under the influence of opiates.

Dear Miss Hunter has expressed to the devoted Sister Florence all her last wishes, & now awaits the Summer which will take her to her Parents, sister and Brothers, all gone before, all awaiting her where partings never are known. The darling Motherless baby is well & will be a comfort to her Godmother and Guardian, and Aunt Florence. I hope our dear Doctor Willie is well, & will have a holiday while the fine weather lasts, tho he will be almost afraid to leave the darling Mother who falls sick as soon as his back is turned! I send you dear friend my old face, as I cannot be with you myself. I shall envy the stupid thing that cannot appreciate the pleasure of being with you. I dont know if it a good likeness. Here they all consider it the best that has ever been taken of me, in fact the other attempts were never brought home from the Photographers. Which of the pictures did Jemmie sell & [p. 6] did he get a good price for it? I am asking questions as if you were well enough to answer them dear friend, but you must not write me one word until you can do so without fatigue, & without hurting your eyes. You may perhaps see Susy if she and her Father go to London on the 10th of August en route for France. The dear Debo has asked them to break the journey by resting at 62 Sloane St[17].

She may not be at home at that time, which will be a fortnight later than they had at first thought of going. So far we have had a cold Summer here, gloomy and clouds rather than very wet. St Swithin's day[18] here was bright & sunny, while in nearby parts of England the rain poured down in torrents. Now it is dinner time beloved friend & I must not tire you. Give my love to nurse. I shall write to her when I have a spare hour. Dear love to James & Willie. Sue & Arthur send much love & best wishes for your restoration to health. God bless and keep you & your dear ones, ever prays

Your loving


A letter [19] has just come from the French friends to say any day after the 10th of August they shall be glad to welcome A. & Sue.

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1.  Kate Livermore
Kate ('Cousin Kate') Livermore (1820-1907), née Prince, wife of A. Livermore [more].

2.   Anna Matilda Whistler
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more]; she remained in London until 7 August 1875, on which day she moved to Hastings where she spent the remainder of her life.

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

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

5.  husband
Arthur Livermore (b. 1811), lawyer [more].

6.  sale of even one picture
For a year after JW's first one man show Mr Whistler's Exhibition, Flemish Gallery, Pall Mall, London, 1874, his pictures were seen nowhere but his studio; see Elizabeth Robins Pennell & Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 1, p. 198. However, in March 1875 JW was in Aubrey House, the London home of William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), banker and patron [more], working on the portrait of his daughter Agnes Mary Alexander (1862-1950), Miss May Alexander (YMSM 127); see AMW to James Anderson Rose, 16 March 1875, #12221. This could well be the picture sold, although in fact Alexander did not receive it until many years later.

7.  own share of sorrow and anxiety
Probably one of D. D. Haden's children had fallen sick.

8.  children
Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne; Francis Seymour Haden (1850-1918); Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910), musician; Harry Lee Haden (1855-1877); they were the children of D. D. and F. S. Haden.

9.  moonlight
JW had painted Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea (YMSM 103), exhibited in 1871 as 'Harmony in Blue-Green - Moonlight.' See AMW to Catherine Jane Palmer, 3-4 November 1871, #10071.

10.  Robert & Fred
Probably Robert Prince, relation of friends of the Whistlers in St Petersburg, and his brother Frederick ('Fred'); they were brothers of Kate Livemore.

11.  Susy's
Susannah ('Susie') Plumridge Livermore (1855-1938), daughter of K. and A. Livermore, later wife of E. Sutton [more].

12.  The Mayor of Frankfort

13.  Grandson and his Bride
Probably George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851), JW's nephew [more], and his bride Hetty; they married on 23 June 1875; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 9 September 1875, #06555.

14.  Madame Souchard
Mme Souchard, a relation of Arthur Livermore.

15.  Mrs Ogilvy
Mr and Mrs Ogilvy, friends of K. Livermore.

16.  Florence Hunter
Florence Hunter, a friend of Kate Livermore.

17.  62 Sloane St
The London home of D. D. and F. S. Haden.

18.  St Swithin's day
St Swithin's day is on 15 July. In popular belief, if it rains on St Swithin's Day, it will rain for 40 days, but, if it is fair, 40 days of fair weather will follow. St Swithin (d. 862), was the bishop of Winchester, and his connection with weather is probably accidental.

19.  A letter
'A letter ... Sue' cross written in upper margin of p. 1.