The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06383
Date: 28 February, 12 and 22 March 1849[1]
Author: George Washington Whistler[2] and Anna Matilda Whistler[3]
Place: St Petersburg
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W379
Document Type: ALS[4]

St Petersburg.

Feb 28th 49

March 12

I am ill[5] my dear James[6] - and have been for some time - & I know not if I could have felt myself able to the exertion of writing you this morning - anxious as I always am - to hear from you - to talk to you to advise you my dear boy - but Mother often reads a letter from your Sister[7] just now received - tells how you sometimes feel an embarrassment - from your temperance pledge[8] - of course my dear James I [p. 2] know what you mean - it is always more or less embarrassing to be the subject of remarks - especially for a boy like you - but James - it would distress me beyond anything you can imagine if I thought it could so seriously effect you as to make you even for a moment regret your pledge - or hesitate to keep it - James my darling I beg your pardon for this last expression - I should know and I do know that you will never hesitate to keep your pledge - 'tis honourable - and be assured - none but idle or vulgar minds will ever indulge in [p. 3] unbecoming remarks about it - Your own manly conduct and sense of propriety - will be seen always [to] be enough to silence such -

You know not with what anxious gratification your dear Mother permitted you to take this pledge - it is as if she has promised for you - and you my dear boy will I know not only religiously fulfill this promise - but always feel a most sincere pleasure in doing that which will so very very much contribute to our happiness - write me immediately my dear dear boy - you know not how much I depend upon you - do not grow weary of me - and Oh my dear boy do not be ashamed to do that which would gratify your parents - whenever you shall admit this feeling - and it is [p. 4] perhaps of one of the evils of this age - you may even become ashamed of your name and country -

Thursday 22nd

It is now nearly a fortnight darling Jemie since your dear father made this effort, he has been suffering more & more & has become helpless! Oh my dear boy value his few lines & let his advice be sacredly treasured by you, follow it Jemie & always ask yourself what would father wish me to do were he here? Your heavenly Father is ever watching over you to be the pride of your youth! It is mails time. Adieu, I shall try to begin a letter to you soon & by degrees fill it, Willie[9] is well & a dear good boy - God bless you. Try to do all in your power to comfort your anxious & fond parents. I wish Sister would get a vol I read to dear father about a fortnight ago, & read it, often his eyes were red with weeping tho he would scarcely let me put it down till I finished it - The title is "Now & Then[10][.]" I read aloud to him in Bancrofts history of the United States[11] when he is able to listen, it is beautifully written & interesting. I am sure you would enjoy it my dear boy. Pray for your


& let love to Jesus unite us.

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1.  28 February, 12 and 22 March 1849
12 March 1849 in the Gregorian Russian calendar, would have been 28 February in the Julian Western calendar.

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

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

4.  ALS
Circular paper mark, in the top left corner of p. 1, lion on top of a crown.

5.  I am ill
'I ... country' written by George W Whistler; 'Thursday ... us' written by AMW. The illness was cholera, which eventually killed Major Whistler on 7 April 1849. See AMW to JW, 26 September 1848, #06365.

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

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

8.  temperance pledge
Temperance was the virtue of moderation and self-control in anything, particularly complete abstinence in the use of intoxicating liquor. For Temperance Society and the evolution of its organizations, see AMW to JW, 19, 20, 22 and 24 February 1849, #06387. Also see Carol Mattingly, Well-tempered Women: Nineteenth-century Temperance Rhetoric, Southern Illinois University Press, 1998; Jack S. Blocker, American Temperance Movements: Cycles of Reform, Boston, 1989; Lilian Lewis Shiman, Crusade Against Drink in Victorian England, Basingstoke, 1988.

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

10.   Now and Then
Probably Samuel Warren, Now and Then , Edinburgh and London, 2 vols, 1848.

11.  Bancrofts history of the United States
George Bancroft, A History of the United States, from the Discovery of the American Continent, Boston, 1834.