The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06527
Date: 22 January 1866
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Coblenz, Germany
Recipient: JW and William McNeill Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W521
Document Type: ALS

34 Schloss Strass.[3]

Tuesday Jan 22nd 66

My own darling boys

It is my greatest indulgence to write you while I may & then proof of my eyes being able thus to relieve my heart will cheer you. I listened to a storm of rain & wind at midnight last & feared it might have met you at crossing the Channel Willie dear, but I prayed & then slept. Today the sun shines & I may find the Glassée[4] [sic] dry enough for a duty walk before dinner. The enclosed you can read & then give with the stamps to Sarah[5]. As I think of all I would say if among you, the hat box I lent Jane[6], was our dear Ida's[7] therefore perhaps you would like Jemie[8] to use it. I shall not probably wish to take it back. I said to you that any thing too defaced for dear Jemies next establishment[9] he had better give to Sarah or Mrs Curtis[10], to make Sarahs Mothers home more comfortable, such as the drugget now on your floor. I do hope a room at Rosetti's[11] may be asked. Of course Jemie's bath will be kept, mine with its [illegible] might be sent to Sister[12] for I may want it. Jemie dear you had to pay a high price for your wine bottles, the cellar full! Might not poor Sarah sell them to the Inn keeper where you send for Whiskey &c[,] I know she has debts, besides her child to support & her mother to help. I remember the day Mrs Gillibrand[13] lunched with me in Oct last she noticed what nice servants yours were & was then seeking a Cook for Albyns. Now suppose you write her one of your nice notes offering either or both of your servants, at whatever wages she gives, for of course out of town they ought to have more than at present. I shall be so pleased if you will write this friend of mine (who expects both my boys to be her guests with me on my return) it will be so much better for me when I go to Albyns that you have done so, readily explain away the surprise of your breaking up. Willie's return to his profession & you to travel[14] for new subjects for painting, only a short friendly note dear! for your Mothers sake. Is there any thing I have neglected to do for your benefit? It is in vain to wish I could be with you to help you! I think your things will be so much safer from fire dear Jemie at Rossetti's & I have that high opinion of him that he will be gratified by your asking him to lend you a lock up room & he to keep its key & if so one of your servants could be there to see the things put in & the other to attend to their being sent from the house & you ought to have Mr Morris[15] he is capable & knows your notions of things. The bed steads & bedding[,] except the servants[,] you would of course want again.

[p. 2] Do not think any thing of no value, they cost a good deal to buy for instance, window shades, your parlor & studio tables, mirrors & c, my bath can go with the Sofa to 62 Sloane St[16]. Your scales from the kitchen might also be useful to her Cook til you need them again[,] only tell your servants these things. Your Turkey & Persian carpets must be shaken & beaten in the y[ar]d then rolled up they might be covrd by the strips of drugget in my room.

You must argue my beloved Sons that Mother encourages you to embark precipitately even while you may be hesitating as to its being prudent, I am only trying to meet what seems inevitable & that is the closing up of No 7[17]. I do not wonder at your freeing yourself from such a landlord[18]. & am too thankful that your affairs are being settled. In three days more my most trying suspence will be over[.] I know you dear Willie must have too much to attend to today to write me, but hope you may have done so ere this is recd[,] if you must embark at the end of this week you will not fail to send me word by a Telegram & Charlie[19] will write me all about it by mail I beg & if so tell him to write in a plain hand. My love to him & to Mary I[20]. Who knows but we may be fellow passengers[21] to N Y! My eyes are better today. I keep my promise to you & will not indulge in tears, I have such a sacred motive to recover sight & health. May I not comfort my heart by the assurance that you pray for yourself as I do for you both & that you on your knees pray daily for Mother! How blessed it is for us to put our future in the Lords hands, not to rush rashly into danger, for that is tempting Him to leave us to our own sinful folly & want of faith. May God ever rule for my Sons at this crisis & His presence abide with them. Charlie must write to me all about the moving when you cannot, & I suppose you will direct to me or to Sis at 62 rather than to Mr King, it will be most prudent that you avoid directing any letters to the U S. during the term of your absence, write Sis & enclose any for me or Mr King to her to forward. And now adieu! oh how hard to bear the lengthened separation. How solemn I felt the listening last evening to the ship wreck of the London[22]! but it was a mercy the victims were prepared for the so sudden change! God is the hearer of prayer, forget not His presence on the Ocean. Entre nous[23] - Jemie if you have sold a picture to enable you to bestow on your Model[24] the Am[oun]t of Aunt A's[25] legacy you promised me to promote a return to virtue in her. I never forget to pray for her

Your faithful & fond Mother


Do not[26] be careless about the key of my trunks put it in the envelope for Sisters care if you cannot see Mr R.[27]

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

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

3.  34 Schloss Strass.
AMW was in Coblenz to undergo treatment for an eye condition with Dr Meurens, an occulist.

4.  Glassée
Fr., glacis, an open slope in front of a fortified place.

5.  Sarah
Sarah, a servant.

6.  Jane
Jane; unidentified.

7.  Ida's
Ida Bayard Whistler, née King (d. 1863), JW's sister-in-law [more].

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

9.  next establishment
JW moved out of 7 Lindsey Row in January 1866 and went to South America, where the Chileans were engaged in a dispute with Spain. He returned in September 1867. In February 1867 JW moved to 2 Lindsey Row (96 Cheyne Walk) where he lived for the next eleven years.

10.  Mrs Curtis
Mrs Curtis, probably a servant.

11.  Rosetti's
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more]. He lived very close to JW at 16 Cheyne Walk.

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

13.  Mrs Gillibrand
Mary Tyler Gellibrand (b. 1812), née Ropes, wife of W. C. Gellibrand [more].

14.  to travel
JW arrived in Valaparaiso on 12 March 1867 where he kept a journal of naval and military developments but avoided involvement. He painted a number of seascapes, Nocturne: The Solent (YMSM 71), Symphony in Grey and Green: The Ocean (YMSM 72), Crepuscule in Flesh Colour and Green: Valparaiso (YMSM 73), Sketch for 'Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay' (YMSM 74), The Morning after the Revolution, Valparaiso (YMSM 75), Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay (YMSM 76), including his first night scenes.

15.  Mr Morris
Morris; unidentified.

16.  62 Sloane St
London home of Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

17.  No 7
JW's home at 7 Lindsey Row, Chelsea.

18.  landlord
Isaac Henry Keene, builder, landlord of 7 Lindsey Row [more].

19.  Charlie
Probably Charles W. McNeill (b. 1847), JW's cousin [more].

20.  Mary I
Mary Ironsides (1826-1884), née Swift, JW's cousin [more]. She was on a visit to London; see AMW to JW, 25 November [1865], #06526.

21.  passengers
AMW hoped to visit friends and family in America. However, she did not make the journey until July the following year.

22.  London
The London, Australian passenger ship, belonged to Messrs. Money, Wigram, and Co., (1,752 tons.). The shipwreck occured in the Bay of Biscay after severe weather conditions that lasted over a considerable period of time in January 1866. The ship sank with 200 passengers, of whom 19 survived, having managed to escape on a life boat and be picked up by an Italian barque (information from Joan Fawcett, Genseek Genealogy, Victoria, Australia, and The Belfast Gazette, 21 March 1866).

23.  Entre nous
Fr., between us.

24.  Model
JW was still working on Symphony in White, No. 3 (YMSM 61), the model for which was Joanna Hiffernan (b. ca 1843), JW's model and mistress [more] (see #06526). She was the model for a number of pictures including Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl (YMSM 38) and Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52).

25.  Aunt A's
Alicia Margaret Caroline McNeill (1786-1863), JW's aunt [more], who left a legacy of £100 to JW; see AMW to J. H. Gamble, 10-11 February 1864, #06522, and William Charnley to C. J. Palmer, 23 October 1863, #00575.

26.  Do not be careless
'Do not ... Mr R' is written in the left margin of p. 1.

27.  Mr R
Dante Gabriel Rossetti.