The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06388
Date: 9 and 10 March 1849
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: St Petersburg
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W384
Document Type: ALS

St Petersburg

friday March 9th 1849.

Mr own dear Jemie[2]

You are so happy in your Sloane St home[3] it is not easy for you to realize the privations felt in the "old home" when hope for a letter from the loved absent members is deferred from day to day, making the heart sink & Mother dares not speak her disappointment to father[4] in his feeble state of health. We are never dull from ennui for we have too many resources, but we miss the greetings from afar & cannot help wondering at Jemies non fulfillment of his part of the agreement to write once a week. Dear father has been a great sufferer this week. Oh the cholera[5] left him so shattered in constitution he scarcely can go out without catching cold & he seems less able to bear each succeeding attack, he thought much of you last Sunday while he was agonized by rheumatic pains in the shoulder, but wadding & oil silk removed these & the doctor was not obliged to resort to the lancet as he feared he must to relieve oppression at the chest & cough, the latter is no longer disturbing dear fathers nights rest as it was, so I thankfully report him more comfortable, tho still a prisoner.

Saturday 10th.

I was just finishing an answer to Seymours[6] letter which reached me yesterday dearest Jemie this morning when Sisters came enclosing yours to Willie[7], but now it is too late to write you fully, as I meant to have done of all which interests us in the old house - as at 3 oclock my letter must be dispatch[ed] & that is the next hour to strike. Oh Jemie dear I cannot describe to you what a pang shot thro Mothers heart when she heard from Sis[8] that false shame for so I consider it, would make you break your Temperance[9] pledge! Can you break a vow to God & not sin? Oh fear to do it! have you forgotten that you are to fight manfully against the temptations which are permitted to assail you only to test your principles! dont you remember that nice little book Cousin kate[10] gave you "Conquest & self Conquest[11]". Your father thinks as I do on this subject & we shall each write you our views. Oh be above minding the worlds laugh my boy! [p. 2] pray to your Savior fervently & He will bid the tempter flee. May you have the beginning of all Wisdom the fear of God then you will not head the laugh of fools. Jemie dear I have never regretted having signed the pledge tho I did it only as a duty to lead poor drunkards by my influence, & here in a foreign land that motive alas is no longer in force because these practices are encouraged by those who eclipse my individual & humble example - but the all seeing God is here, & I have not blushed to refuse to drink the Emperors[12] health at an Ambassadors[13] table, nor have I supposed I was bound for hospitality's sake to go thro the motions of accepting the proposal of a guest to drink wine with me at my own. I drink it no where but at the Lords table, because I vowed never to break my pledge - God bless you & sustain you thro all your little mortifications & trials day by day, soon again you shall have a letter from your fond Mother.

This scrap to Jemie the enclosed to Seymour & Sis.

Love[14] to Mary[15] & Kisses to baby[16]. I was hoping to have Anna Whistler engraved on her cup it would have gratified father. Kiss dear Sis for Mother & tell her to get quite blooming & sit to Boxall[17] for her portrait[18] for the old home.

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

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

3.  Sloane St home
The home of Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

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

5.  cholera
See AMW to JW, 26 September 1848, #06365.

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

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

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

9.  Temperance
See AMW to JW, 19, 20, 22 and 24 February 1849, #06387; AMW and G. W. Whistler to JW, 28 February, 12 and 22 March 1849, #06383.

10.  Cousin kate
Probably Kate ('Cousin Kate') Livermore (1820-1907), née Prince, wife of A. Livermore [more].

11.  Conquest & self Conquest
Probably Conquest and Self Conquest or Which Makes the Hero?, London, 1850, author unknown; possibly a later edition.

12.  Emperors
Nicolas I Romanov (1796-1855), Tsar of Russia from 1825-1855 [more].

13.  Ambassadors
AMW lived in St Petersburg between 1843 and 1849. During this period there were three US Ambassadors: Charles Stewart Todd, lawyer and diplomat; USA minister to Russia 1841-1846, Ralph Isaacs Ingersoll (1789-1872), lawyer and U. S. Minister to Russia from 1846-1848 [more], and Arthur Bagby (1794-1858), senator and U. S. minister in Russia from 1848-1849 [more].

14.  Love
'Love ... cup' continues in the left margin of p. 1; 'it ... home' is cross-written in the upper margin of p. 1.

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

16.  baby
Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, JW's niece [more].

17.  Boxall
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], painted a portrait of JW, now in the Hunterian Gallery, Glasgow University.

18.  her potrait
Deborah D. Haden did have her portrait painted by Boxall, but the whereabouts of the painting are unknown; see AMW to JW, 25 November 1851, #06407.