UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 06374
Date: 4 and 5 December 1848
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: St Petersburg
Recipient: JW
Place: [Portishead]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W370
Document Type: ALS


St Petersburg

Dec 4th 1848. Monday

evening.

It was not possible for me dearest Jamie[2] to comply with your wish last week to enclose you a morning & evening prayer when I tried to answer your last recd & very nice note, for I was so incessantly interrupted, but I have earnestly implored the aid of the Inspirer & hearer of prayer to enable me to lead you to express your wants to the Dispenser of every blessing, and this morning was in my room writing a form of prayer for you my dear boy, when Mr Ingersoll[3] came to call upon father, & finding me at my desk said if I could seal & direct my letter in half an hour he had brought the seal of the Embassy & would put it up with his despatches to go by the English Courier. So you understand now dear Jemie why the envelope directed to Eldon Villa[4] contains only the prayers you asked me to send you.

Miss Sarah Mirriellees[5] came in afterwards to tell me of the letter she had received from her kind Aunt[6], who took charge of your desk, clothing &c in the Camilla[7] & who has written of her call in Sloane St & of dear Sisters[8] kind reception, she mentions too that your holidays are to commence on the 15th. at which time you are expected in Sloane St. And now Jemie I beg you to find out the address of Mr Romilly[9] [p. 2] the son in law of kind Mr & Mrs Jno Mirriellees[10] & some fine day soon after your arrival at Seymours, take an omnibus & go to pay your respects to the family, for they are all to be under one roof this winter. I am sure they will welcome you cordially for our sakes in St P, & hope you will be mutually pleased, Mr R is an artist, if I am not greatly mistaken our friend Mr Smith[11] named him to me as a very successful portrait painter, and made me wish Sis might sit to him, for I dont believe John Horsley[12] will ever catch a likeness of her sweet Phiz. You asked where the picture had been hung at home? but you know the attempt was a failure. Are you glad to look at my likeness again dear Jemie? I often hear myself say "my own precious boy! bless you!" as I pass the sofa going to my room where yours & Willies[13] is placed, what a comfort it will be when one of dear Sis has its place at home! When father went one day to the Palette, the vendor of crayons &c who always asks after you, enquired if we had been to see the portrait of our boys exhibited at the Academy[14], most admirable likenesses painted in oils by a Russian officer. From the description it must be a copy of Desseins[15] by Karitzky[16]. It is a proof of his affection for you dear Jemie if he had done so, but we have not yet seen it. Karitzkie has not again repeated his call at our house, no doubt he has little time to follow his inclination, for he delights to talk of [p. 3] his pupil. You ask what father thinks of the gold mines in California[17]? all sensible Americans hope it is romance, it would ruin the country if the people left off cultivating the soil for digging gold. Talking of gold! a Mr Nobody walked off with three more of the old silver table spoons the week before father's illness[18], suspicions fell strong upon Hadenskongg[19], for he had access to the dining room (and they were stolen from the table which was ready set for dinner) since then he has been almost entirely absent from the office, but father would not accuse him or any man without proof, if all our silver disappeared! We are afraid Mons La Roche[20] must be ill it is so long since he called to see us, and so much sickness is prevailing; Willie wishes the Etymology might turn up ere he comes for his books! will you get Mary[21] to help you search Jemie dear if it was left in the Commode of the room you occupied. I hope you will not neglect reporting yourself to our kind friends Mr & Mrs Phillips[22] & ask them to permit you to pay your respects at their house at North Brixton, Willie thinks their address is 23 Grove St. you can try it by directing a note to James P Esq, without loss of time. I regret sincerely that circumstances entirely precluded my calling upon them, they were so uniformly attentive to us, it will gratify me if you take my remembrances to them, tell Anna Maria[23] we should be delighted to meet her again at Madeira Cottage[24]. Jemie dear I did not describe to you how pleased your nice message to Mrs Ropes[25] made her, "dear boy! she said tell him I'll be delighted to answer a letter from him".

Mr Eastwick[26] read me a letter from Hass[27] today in which he had mentioned us all with attachment. Hass begs his father to let him learn oil painting, as he thinks he knows enough of the crayon now to begin to daub. Poor Henry Harrison[28] has been taken home to be nursed, he is much out of health, & Annie[29] has alarmed them lately by rush of blood to the head. One of our fellow passengers (Mr Anderson[30] the father of the little boy I was so interested in) died very suddenly lately. his daughters will be obliged to go into Russian families as governess or companion, the young one only 15 must at present by only the latter, the elder sister is about 20 her religious principles will make her invaluable to young children. How much I have thought of them & wished I could serve them, they are left helpless. Our friend Miss Morgan[31] is in affliction from the loss of one of her brothers in India, I hope dear father will be well enought to spare me long enough to go to see her tomorrow. Mrs Gwyer[32] seems comforted by my sympathy, I have walked that far twice since little Keates[33] death. And now dear Jemie I must only add the united love of the trio at this fire side, darling Willie has a lame member to be rubbed, suddenly seized since his return from school this evening with rheumatic pains in the knee, he laments that he cannot finish his letter to Jim to enclose in this, I think it had better go as it is. We shall soon be fancying you enjoying yourself with Seymour[34] & Sis, I pray there may be no alloy to it you will I know be governed by their advice. May God bless you all! My love to Mary. When you go to see Mr & Mrs Charles[35] & Mr & Mrs Smith[36] tell them that Mother does not forget them[37]. Write us often of your holidays. Mr Fairbanks[38] will tell you when he will be sending to father, & can enclose yours if dear Sis has none ready.

Tuesday 5th.

Willies gout had vanished & he could walk to school as usual this morn. Father is dressing himself which is proof how nearly he has recovered his strength, he joins me in love to our dear children. I am quite well.

Father is so much better, he is in the drawing room tho in his Regent St flannel wrapper.


This document is protected by copyright.


Notes:

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

2.  Jamie
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

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

4.  Eldon Villa
JW's boarding school at Portishead, owned by Mr and Mrs Phillott.

5.  Sarah Mirriellees
Sarah Jane Cazalet (b. 1830), née Mirrielees, wife of L. Cazalet.

6.  her kind Aunt
Aunt Mirriellees, wife of J. Mirriellees.

7.  Camilla
Steamer Camilla (1844), Waterford Company of New York; see AMW to JW, 5 November 1848, #06371.

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

9.  Mr Romilly
George Thomas Romilly (1823-1893), artist [more]; he was married to Margaret Mirriellees (1830-1907). Romilly painted mainly landscape and genre subjects.

10.  Mirriellees
J. Mirriellees, brother of A. Mirriellees.

11.  Mr Smith
Thomas ('Tom') Smith, engineer.

12.  John Horsley
John Calcott Horsley (1817-1903), historical genre painter and etcher [more]; he had been painting Deborah Delano Haden. See AMW to JW, 11 September 1848, #06360.

13.  yours & Willies
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more]. AMW refers probably to a portrait of her boys, a photograph of which is now at the Hunterian Art Gallery. A miniature of the two boys, then in the collection of Mrs Dr George D. STanton and Miss Emma W. Palmer, was reproduced in Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 1, f. p. 26.

14.  Academy
Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, St Petersburg (1765-72); designed by J. B. M. Vallin de la Mothe and A. F. Kokorinov. See G. H. Hamilton, The Art and Architecture of Russia, The Pelican History of Art, London, 1975, p. 199.

15.  Desseins
Probably Émile-François Dessain (1808-1882), painter and printmaker [more].

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

17.  gold mines in California
See AMW to JW, 20 October 1848, #06369.

18.  father's illness
Probably cholera, a disease which killed George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more] on 7 April 1849.

19.  Hadenskongg
Hadenskongg; unidentified.

20.  Mons La Roche
La Roche, tutor at St Petersburg.

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

22.  Mr & Mrs Phillips
James Phillips and his wife lived at 24 Grove Lane, Camberwell; see PO Directory, 1848, p. 302.

23.  Anna Maria
Anna Maria Phillips, daughter of J. Phillips.

24.  Madeira Cottage
Probably the cottage of William Hooper Ropes (1811-1891), merchant [more], at Scarborough, England (see #11843).

25.  Mrs Ropes
Ellen Harriet Ropes, née Hall, wife of William H. Ropes.

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

27.  Hass
Joseph Harrison ('Hass') Eastwick (1834-1917), son of L. A. and A. M. Eastwick [more].

28.  Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison (b. 1837), son of S. and J. Harrison.

29.  Annie
Annie Harrison (1839-1915), daughter of S. and J. Harrison [more].

30.  Mr Anderson
John Anderson, of Alexandroffsky, an acquaintance of AMW, his son George York Anderson, and daughters Emmy and Emily Anderson; see AMW to JW, 15, 16 and 18 September 1848, #06363.

31.  Miss Morgan
Sophia Morgan (b. 1825), daughter of E. and S. Morgan [more].

32.  Mrs Gwyer
Mary Gwyer, née Grant, of St Petersburg.

33.  Keates
William Keate Gwyer (b. 1843), son of M. Gwyer.

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

35.  Mr & Mrs Charles
Charles Sydenham Haden, merchant, brother of JW's brother-in-law F. S. Haden, and his wife Mary Love Haden, née Boott.

36.  Mrs Smith
Mary Smith, wife of Tom Smith, engineer.

37.  them
'them ... well' continues in the left margin of p. 1; 'Father ... wrapper' continues in the right margin of p. 1.

38.  Mr Fairbanks
Fairbanks, a merchant.