UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06377
Date: 13 December 1848
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: St Petersburg
Recipient: JW
Place: [Portishead[2]]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W373
Document Type: ALS


St Petersburg

Dec 13th 1848

If I had known yesterday dear Jemie[3] that Mr Saltenstall[4] would be setting out for London today I need not have sent a letter for you by mail. I directed it to Harrison W & E[5], No. l Crooked Lane because I thought Sis[6] ought not to pay the postage when most of it was for you. This gentleman is one of Sisters real compatriots because they hail from the same State & town[7], if he calls as he wishes often to do pay his devoirs to her, I doubt not her better half[8] will do the honors. Seymour will find Mr S a most interesting companion for a leisure hour, he has seen so much of the world, his description of Spain will be like romance to you Jemie, and he is gentlemanly & unobtrusive, as he is easy of access too. But I have no time for more of him, further than to say immediately upon his ascertaining this morning that the English Courier must start today he came to offer to bear our despatches, upon my saying I had none ready, he begged me then to introduce him to his towns lady Mrs Haden in my next letter to her, that she might not be surprised by his presenting himself. Altho [p. 2] we have without ceremony begged him to come to our fire side, we have never found him too eager to avail of it, he always seems to know how long to stay, indeed we safely introduce him as one who has never taken advantage of us yet who has always been cordial towards us I put on my bonnet while he was here & drove to Haners[9] to buy you the french grammar you wrote for dear Jemie & thinking Don Quixotte[10] [sic] might amuse you (tho it is not to my taste) every one ought to be familiar with it as it is so often referred to in conversation I send it as a Christmas gift to my dear boy. dear Willie[11] is at school but I must find the letter he wrote you while he was confined to the house last week, if it has no news it will yet be interesting to an absent brother, whose absence he so much laments, he wishes Jemie were at the same school with him to fight his battles which he cannot do himself, his gentle spirit is principled against tit for tat, really it makes my heart sad when he recounts to me at evening the vexations of the day. It seems to me the English lads here are a degenerate stock, they are so ungenerous to little Willie, they cuff him [p. 3] & taunt him, call him "American Monkey," "Milk Sop" &c, when he asks them about the lessons he is to learn "they have to get their own" & will not oblige him, yet when he takes out his white roll to eat or bit of buttered toast which I put regularly in his satchel for the 3 o'clock recess because black bread disagrees with him, they beg him & he never refuses to share it.

Father[12] counsels Willie either to become entirely independent of the boys in lessons play & all, or to knock any down who touches him, but he says they attack him in a gang, & if he should put up his hand to one they would all fall upon him. We can do nothing, but hope in time they may find out what a high principled lad the Yankee is & that merit & forbearance will meet its reward. Father says he must become hardened to rough & tumble! Poor Will said with a sigh last night "if Jim were here it would be all right." Are you not sorry dear Jemie you ever were rough to so gentle & loving a brother? God grant that next winter you may be class mates. [p. 4] Kiss dear Sis & love to Seymour from Mother. Also remember me kindly to Mr & Mrs Charles[13] & to all at Doct Bootts[14], especially my dear friend the Grandmama[15] & Jemie dear call with fathers kind regards upon Mr Gibson[16] - do not forget the Phillips[17] My love to Mr Smith[18]. You must let Mary[19] keep your hair in order while you are in town, if only for the picture which I wrote you about yesterday as [sic] fathers request you are to sit to a first rate Artist. Mr Smith spoke of one[20] he could highly recommend as successful in likenesses & pictures. Do not exhibit this hurried scrawl. Father has just received a letter from Geo Prince[21] dated Berlin. "I calculate" dear Jemie he will have just left London when you reach there tomorrow or next day but you will be reconciled to all your disappointments by being with dear Sis & Seymour. May you have no alloy! Mr[22] Saltenstall is to travel with the English Courier. You must very politely thank him for taking the parcel to you & call upon him sometimes to talk of St P. & U.S. Tell Mary I am so sorry not to have time to write her, but the Winans[23] family are to dine here today & I have some copying to finish for father which must be done. When you write to Preston advise Aunt E[24] not to add Alexandroffsky[25] to her letters for us, as they send them there first, to H. W. & E. St P. is enough.

Your devotedly attached Mother

A M Whistler.


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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 school at Portishead.

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

4.  Mr Saltenstall
Saltensall, of St Petersburg. There is a different spelling of his name (Saltesall) in AMW's letter to JW, 19 October 1848, #06368.

5.  Harrison W & E
Harrison, Winans and Eastwick, firm of mechanical works. No. 1 Crooked Lane was the London office address of Fairbanks and Nightingale, merchants and associates of Harrison, Winans and Eastwick; see PO London Directory, 1851, p. 208.

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

7.  State & town
Connecticut, New London.

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

9.  Haners
Bookshop in St Petersburg.

10.  Don Quixotte
Don Quixote, novel published in two parts (Part I, 1605; Part II, 1615) by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616). In Britain, Thomas Shelton's English translation of the first part appeared in 1612 as The History of the Valorovs and Wittie Knight-errant, Don-Qvixote of the Mancha, London, printed by W. Stansby for E. Blount and W. Barret, 1612-20.

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

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

13.  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.

14.  Doct Bootts
Dr Francis Boot (1792-1863), physician [more].

15.  Grandmama
Probably Grandmother Boot, grandmother of Doctor Francis Boot.

16.  Mr Gibson
Gibson, unidentified.

17.  the Phillips
James Phillips, and his wife, AMW's friends; they lived at 24 Grove Lane, Camberwell; see PO London Directory, 1848, p. 302, and AMW to JW, 4 and 5 December 1848, #06374.

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

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

20.  spoke of one
George Thomas Romilly (1823-1893), artist [more]; see AMW to JW, 4 and 5 December 1848, #06374.

21.  Geo Prince
George H. Prince, engineer.

22.  Mr
'Mr ... Winans' continues in the right margin of p. 1; 'family ... must' in the left margin of p. 2; 'be ... her' in the left margin of p. 3; 'letters ... enough' in the right margin of p. 3; and 'Your ... Whistler' in the left margin of p. 4.

23.  Winans
The family of Ross Winans (1796-1877), locomotive manufacturer, father of JW's sister-in-law [more].

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

25.  Alexandroffsky
See AMW to JW, 15, 16 and 18 September 1848, #06363.