UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06371
Date: 5 November 1848
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: St Petersburg
Recipient: JW
Place: [Portishead[2]]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W367
Document Type: ALS


St Petersburg

Sunday night Nov 5th 1848

Dearest Jemie[3] knows too well mothers precepts & usual practise, to follow this yielding to the temptation to write even after having been at church all day, our kind friends the Uncle & Aunt[4] of Wm Mirrielees[5] leave at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning for Cronstadt & to embark in the Camilla[6] for London, and when young Ingersoll[7] came to us just now to seal a despatch he asked me if I had no letters to enclose in it, which if he had hinted in time I should not have trespassed on even the close of the sabbath, but I wish to send you a letter which dear father[8] had addressed to me before my return home, yet which did not get to Sloane St till I had left it. Sister[9] sent my letters by Geo Prince[10], & you know I value all dear fathers letters, they are among the few I keep, but this half concerns you so much dear Jemie I wish you to read it occasionally over with attention & keep it for me in your desk. I had an unfinished letter in my desk last friday, we were suddenly advised to have all we wished to send by Mr Jno Mirrielees ready, as the Camilla was expected to leave on saturday, so I sealed your letter as it was, that it might go in the despatch bag Mr J was putting up. I had obtained thro fathers kindness a pr of Russian Slippers which he went himself to the Gostinandvor[11] for, that you dear Jemie may have [p. 2] a nice Christmas gift for Mrs Phillott[12]. You will be glad to find an impression of the U S seal in your desk with our secretary's by it. I wish Karitzkies[13] [sic] had come, I mean the book of heraldry he promised to get, but as Capt Kruger[14] has promised to take your skates, if the book comes in time, we may put it up in the same parcel. Father & Mr Prince are talking faster than I can write, and it confuses my ideas. Dear little Willie[15] is asleep now, he gave me his love to enclose Jemie & to say he wants nothing but your answers to his letters till he can have yourself, he will always write you on Praznicks. Mr Prince means to finish a letter he began to you on his voyage. and father will answer yours by Mr Mirrielees who embarks in the H Mac Gregor[16] next wednesday. Do you know Mr Prince gave me your last letter to him for me to read & it made me weep a shower of tears dear boy that you were so disappointed by his not going to see you. not that you complained, no it was your manly resignation that touched your mothers sympathy. I grieve too to find so much has been done to your teeth I disapprove of scraping the enamel & fear that the dentist[17] is not a judicious one if he has filed thro much, the filing should be done inside chiefly, the sucsidanium[18] [sic] I do not wish used for [p. 3] filling any of your teeth, if he puts the gold in as Doctor Maynard did[19], that is by degrees, beginning at the edges of the cavity - not as Mr Thomson making a fill of gold & forcing it in with all his strength, does he seem to go [sic] a skillful dentist? teeth are not to be experimented upon, & I do hope yours will not be injured beyond recovery. Doctor Maynard & Seymour[20] too say no filling but gold should be put in the mouth, any other injured health as well as teeth. You must tell Mr Williams[21] (I think is your Bristol dentists name - to send his bill to 62 Sloane St. You ought on all occasions dear Jemie to consult Seymour & Sister, assured they will advise you as I should wish you to act. I wish you would write them frankly about your studies as we must decide whether you are to begin your second quarter at Mr Phillotts[22] before the end of this month & we all fear you have too many temptations to neglect study & that regularity is out of the question. I hope you have put on your flannel drawers woollen socks & thick under shirts. I wish you would write Mr Fairbanks[23] to ask him what day you should have a letter every week at his office No 1 Croocked [sic] Lane for him to enclose when he sends father slips of American news, we get his envelope each friday, it would make father so happy if a note from Jemie came as regularly I am sure you will make the exertion, & [p. 4] the envelope is never full. The clock has struck eleven & I have to rise at six. Bless you darling! & adieu! I envy my scrawl because you will touch it. When reading a sermon (one of the Rugby[24]) to Willie & father this evening as I do each sunday after tea, I thought of you, & pray you many never have the false shame of being ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Do you study your Catechism? I hope so every Sunday. Willie said a whole chapter of the Young Churchmans guide[25] to me so correctly this evening, his todays lesson. soon again I shall write you, have not time to read this over, & you must destroy it as I would not that any but your eyes rested upon such a scrawl. Kind[26] regards to all your fire side circle, Kiss the bairns.

From your fond & faithful mother


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Notes:

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

2.  Portishead
JW was at a boarding school at Portishead.

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

4.  Uncle & Aunt
J. Mirriellees, brother of A. Mirriellees, and his wife.

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

6.  Camilla
Steamer Camilla (1844), Waterford Company of New York.

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

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

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

10.  Geo Prince
George H. Prince, engineer.

11.  Gostinandvor
Gostinny Dvor, market halls in St Petersburg designed by Vallin de la Mothe. See G. H. Hamilton, The Art and Architecture of Russia, The Pelican History of Art, London 1975, p. 200.

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

13.  Karitzkies
Aleksander Osipovich Koritzkii, Professor at St Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts and court painter [more].

14.  Capt Kruger
Captain Kruger, sea captain.

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

16.  H Mac Gregor
Steamer Helen MacGregor (1843), Gee and Co. of Hull (436 tons.); see AMW to JW, 1 and 2 November 1848, #06370.

17.  the dentist
Thomson, JW's dentist at Portishead.

18.  sucsidanium
Succedaneum: one who succeeds to the place of another, or that which is used for something else; a substitute; a remedy used as a substitute for another.

19.  Doctor Maynard
Dr Edward Maynard (1813-1891), dentist and inventor [more]. Doctor Maynard announced the existence of dental fibrils before their discovery by use of the microscope, and was one of the first (in 1838) to fill the nerve cavity, including the nerve canals in molar and bicuspid teeth, thoroughly with gold foil. He introduced this operation in Europe in 1845.

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

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

22.  Mr Williams
Williams, a dentist.

23.  Mr Fairbanks
Fairbanks, a merchant, worked with Harrison, Winans and Eastwick in St Petersburg, and had an office in London at No. 1, Crooked Lane.

24.  one of the Rugby
Thomas Arnold (1795-1842), educator [more], was headmaster of the Rugby School, Warwickshire, UK, and wrote Sermons Preached in the Chapel of Rugby School, London, 1845.

25.  Young Churchmans guide
Probably The Young English Churchman's Common Place Book; being a series of extracts from recent charges, and other works, of living bishops of the Church of England, London, 1846.

26.  Kind
'Kind ... mother' continues in the left margin of p. 1.