System Number: 06381
Date: 8 and 9 January 1849
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler
Place: St Petersburg
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W377
Document Type: ALS
Monday evening 8th of Jan 1849.
No letters yet from Sloane St! What can be the reason of Seymours silence! our St. P. circle keep up their lively interest in dear Sis & come or send to ask what news of her. I have been hoping so from day to day to have a letter from you to acknowledge[.] my precious Jemie I have kept this unfinished, but tomorrow it shall go whether one comes or not. I received one from Grandmother today, its date the 11th. (four days later than your last to me!) - and now I am startled to think, my silence to your dear Sister may seem strange to her, but tho she is continually on my mind, I could not write her under this suspence [sic], Oh surely I shall hear of her, or from her, very soon & then I shall address her. Say to her, if she is well - that Mother begs to be allowed to make an arrangement about our correspondence, which is this, for every extra letter she will bear the expense of postage - Yes letters from my children are my choicest luxuries, I indulge in few others, therefore I beg as a favor to claim one every week from Sister she can surely fill it with nursery details & I shall not tire of the sameness, or consider any too trivial. Mary I am sure will keep baby happy while Mama is thus comforting & charming its Grandmama. Now you know dear Jemie I have gone thro too many scenes of real sorrow, to take trouble before hand or to yield to fears of coming evil, but I naturally am very uneasy at your unusual silence, more than a month since your last date! and you promised father a letter every week! he has not felt [p. 2] today able to interest himself in his usual pursuits, he is so disappointed at another week coming in without London letters, his nights rest is broken by anxious thoughts of you & of Sis. But to change this painful subject which I hope may be satisfactorily explained ere long - I will tell you of Christmas eve, Willie was called for by the Revillons at 3 o'clock, Vanderfleet being in the sledge with them. Mr Ingersoll took me out to Mr Winans in his sledge & I came home by 9 1/2 with dear father who had been obliged to go to Alex[androffsky] with the Count in the morning - It was quite a brilliant little party of 24 children, between the ages of 13 & 3 years. the tree was loaded with tapers & bon bons, but besides these, upon each plate of the long table was a superfine white paper parcel with the name of each juvenile guest containing elegant books, purses &c. the refreshments wholesome & excellent beginning with a cup of soup to each & ending with jellies & cake. no noisy mirth but all looked happy. Before the children had finished their early supper we grown folks were invited to partake of an elegant collation in the red room, & while we were relishing it the little folks (their table having been removed from the saloon - began waltzing. Charlie Eastwick at the piano. Mr Winans who is so fond of children seemed glad to go to them & eager for Celeste to strip the tree of its ornaments to distribute among them, perhaps it was partly because he had prepared a surprise for his own nice wife, a pair of baby Mockassins were for her, stuffed [p. 3] with sugar plums, she smilingly deposited them at her elbow, while Wm Winans & Mr Ingersoll were opening their mysterious papers, for she knew their toys would excite the mirth which followed - but upon her husbands second hint to examine the contents of her baby shoes, she discovered a costly bracelet of purest gold & emerald hid under the sweeties, and Julia Winans also found one of gold & rubies in her box of bon bons, & young Mrs Revillon a diamond ring as a guard to her wedding ring - she had scarcely been the wife of Mr Winans father a year yet, & girlish enough to value ornament. Mr Shultz was there with his wife & 5 children, for they are Americans, tho more like Germans, he played Yankee Doodle on his violin & some Virginia reels, but I fancied the boys & girls lacked your patriotism, & Mr Eastwick said to me "they want Jemie here to set them going". Willie was put under Mrs Harrisons care by me & went home to sleep there, my share of the spoils was an ornamented pr of bellows filled with bon bons. I wish I could hand them to you my own dear boy to give to some of your favorites, but as that may not be, shall take them to the little Ellerbys tomorrow. Father & I have promised if all is well to meet all our countrymen on thursday next at Mr Eastwicks to dine and commemorate Edwards birth day. If we have good news from England we shall do our part in paying our respects there, but the suspense we are in, damps all our energies. Father has just come in from next door where he has seen Mr Maingay who tells him his last date from Emma was the 29th of Dec! & that she said she had written to Sis to scold her for her silence [p. 4] so I suppose innocent little Sissie must bear all the blame of stealing away Mamas thoughts from every one else. Kiss the darling pet for Grandmama & tell her I forgive her, if in future she will remind my dear, dear daughter of the tender anxieties of absent parents. Good night my own dear Jemie, "happy dreams sleep well" - But yet a word after tea. You asked me in your last letter what I thought of the flight of the Pope? I am intensely interested in all the changes, which are bringing about the reign of our Lord over the whole earth. While reading the Life of Elizabeth Fry, I feel with her that expansion of heart which embraces all Christians of every sect, & that by loving one another in Him we prove that we are His true witnesses. I was reading to father & Willie yesterday between services, an allegory called the Dark River, it made me weep at parts, tho I was too fascinated to leave it unfinished, the sketch of Adeonatus brought my boy Jemie to minds eye, for he was bright & joyous, and thus tempted to wish to revel among the worlds charms, but whenever reminded of duty, he tried to keep the straight path, & would make no turnings from it - which was the more remarkable, for he delighted in the flowers of the broad road, & required repeated warning! God grant you a willing mind to be admonished my own dear, bright, boy, that while preparing for a career of usefulness on earth, you may also be advancing on your heavenward journey. Grand Mother gives me very interesting particulars of the death bed of Abby Stanton, she sent a last message to her companions, that she was not afraid to die at 17, how fond she was as a little girl of my boys! you have not forgotten her have you Jemie? And now I go to Willies room to pray with him for ourselves and for absent dear ones and to kiss him Goodnight.
via OstendMaster James A Whistler
Care of Messrs Harrison Winans & Eastwick
No 1 Crooked Lane Chambers
[postmark:] PAID / 19 / JA / 19 / 1849
Tuesday 9th Jan. How thankful Mother feels in acknowledging the receipt of your letters to father & Willie this morning, they shall be answered soon when Mother will write dear Sis. kiss baby for us, & love to Mary I approve of your visits to friends and refer you to Seymour & Sis for advice.
There are the remains of what seems to have been a red wax seal with AMW's initials at the back of the envelope.
11. Christmas eve
According to the old Calendarist Style, the Russian Christmas Eve would have been on 5 January 1849. See N. Dershowitz and E. M. Reingold, Calendrical Calculations, Cambridge, 1997.
Vanderfleet, William McNeill Whistler's classmate at Baxters, St Petersburg.
22. Mr Shultz was there with his wife & 5 children
Shultz, of St Petersburg, and family.
25. the little Ellerbys
The children of Rev. Thomas Ellerby, clergyman, in charge of the British and American Chapel at St Petersburg.
29. flight of the Pope
Pope Pius IX, Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti (1792-1878); Pope from 1846-1878. In 1847 Pius introduced a consultative chamber and a Council of Ministers. In 1848 he announced the formation of a liberal ministry presided over by Cardinal Antonelli. Four days later the Roman constitution was published, creating two deliberate councils for the formation of law. Shortly thereafter, Rome received word of the revolution in Vienna, the outbreak against Hapsburg control in Milan and Venice, and the opening of a war of national liberation. Pius was called to join the Italian crusade against Austria. On 29 April Pius proclaimed that, as the Father of Christendom, he could never declare war against Catholic Austria. The reaction to this pacific policy, which was contrary to that of his constitutional monarchy, provoked a revolution in Rome in mid-November. The imposition of a radical, anti-Austrian ministry led Pius to flee his capital for the Kingdom of Two Sicilies on 24 November 1848. See Owen Chadwick, A History of the Popes, 1830-1914, Oxford, 1998, pp. 77-80; Frank J. Coppa, ed., Encyclopaedia of the Vatican and Papacy, Westport, CT, 1999, p. 335; Eric John, ed., The Popes, A Concise Biographical History, London, 1964, pp.437-440.
30. Life of Elizabeth Fry
Memoirs of the life of Elizabeth Fry, with extracts from her Journal and Letters, edited by two of her daughters, Katherine Fry and Rachel E. Cresswell, London, 1847. Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), Quaker philanthropist and prison reformer [more].
31. the Dark River
Edward Monro, The Dark River, An Allegory, London, 1847, 2nd ed.
32. sketch of Adeonatus
'A deo natus' means 'born of God;' it was probably a character from Monro's Dark River.
33. Abby Stanton
Abby Stanton (d. 1848), an acquaintance of AMW.
'forgotten ... Jemie' continues in the right margin of p. 4; 'And ... Goodnight' in the left margin of p. 1.
'Tuesday ... Mary' is written inside the flap of the envelope; 'I ... advice' continues on the edges of the envelope under the flap.