UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06662
Date: 9 August 1848
Author: George Washington Whistler[1]
Place: St Petersburg
Recipient: JW
Place: [Portishead]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W656
Document Type: ALS


St. Petersburg

Wednesday 9.th Augst. 1848

I fear my dearest James you will be thinking me quite ungrateful for your very nice letter from the Isle of Wight - and you my dear Willy [2]for yours from London - thank you my dear sons - 'Im sure if you could but know what delight they gave me, and how very happy I am made by Mothers[3] account of your attentive, affectionate, and gentlemanly conduct, you would be much gratified - but I felt assured that such would always be your conduct - only to think my dear James you are now 14 years old - and you Master Willy. 12 - or can it be 13 - . [really?] I forget - how happy and secure dear Mother must feel with two such young Gentlemen protectors - and how proud I feel of my American Sons - yes my own dear Sons I feel sure you will never forget our Country - Ere long we shall all return [p. 2] to it - having learned much I trust, that should make us better - and I am certain that neither of you will neglect to avail of every opportunity to render yourselves capable of being useful, and appreciating the blessings such a country can bestow. If I remember rightly James - the six months of my life at your present age, produced an effect upon my thinking faculties, quite equal to any previous two years - I think this is common - and you will henceforth feel an interest in preparing to be a man - (and 'Im sure you [choose?[ to be a useful man), that will not need much urging - nor any peculiar facilities - this too will be a useful effect upon the energies of dear Master Willie's bumps - how they will be developed this winter - we shall be obliged to prevail upon Mr [Lewis?] to be more punctual, if not increase his lessons - and Mr La Roche[4] must look to it to keep pace with you - by the by - we must [p. 3] not forget the examination - 'Im determined to have it, so soon after your return as you can be prepared - that is so soon as you get a little settled - it will do well as a sort of commencement - I [aim?] you must try and get into the good graces of some one capable of advising you - or pointing out to you, some good English books - as a regular course of reading - or studying - and Mother will give you the money to purchase them -

I have never seen Mr. Baker[5] since you left[,] he has called since 'Ive been in the country [illegible] writing on pieces of paper in my room kind enquiries after you and Willy and Mother - I know not if he has got a place, he said nothing of it - Nor have I seen Koritzky[6] - G. P[7] - [brot?] the paints - I shall send one half to him, as a present from you James - and the others I shall keep till you return - unless you wish me to do otherwise.

So you can provide yourself with more just as you see fit - 'Im quite delighted to hear you are interested in sketching landscape - Cant [p. 4] you send me a small one - just a sketch, you know I dont expect anything finished. it will answer my purpose if it be just a sketch.

There is an old engraving here hanging in the drawing room at Mrs. Gellibrands Datcha[8], from a painting by - R. M. Paige[9] - engraved by W. Wood - and published in London in 1785 - it is "children reading the inscription on their mothers grave stone" - if you can find it - get it - it appears to be one of a set of Engravings - and is very good - at the left side of the picture is a boy sitting on a flat grave stone - sitting up as it were supporting himself with his right hand - his hat in front of him, with a birds best in it - his body a little foreshortened - his position remarkably easy - and good, on the left is a very arch looking girl - going off with her frock tucked up in front in which she appears to have secured something, while in the centre is a group of three little girls intent upon reading the inscription - on the grave stone - these are all good figures -    Mr. Eastwick has taken Hass[10]. to Hamburg - and Mr. Harrison talks of putting Henry[11] to school - perhaps at Mr. Hirsts[12] - but he has not decided yet - perhaps you and Willy will be [better to be in?] England, where you must be so very happy with dear Sister[13] - Kiss her from father - how would you like to remain and go to school this winter at some nice little place in the Isle of Wight? all your little friends here sent their love to you my dear boys -

god bless you both -

Your affectionate Father -

I hope you will not forget to write to Brother George[14]


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Notes:

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

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

3.  Mothers
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more]. She wrote to JW on the same day, and it is clear that he was then back at school in Portishead, near Bristol, while Willie was returning with her from London to St Petersburg, #06359.

4.  La Roche
La Roche, tutor at St Petersburg.

5.  Baker
Not identified.

6.  Koritzky
Aleksander Osipovich Koritzkii, Professor at St Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts and court painter [more].

7.  G. P.
George H. Prince, engineer.

8.  Gellibrand's Datcha
Mary Tyler Gellibrand (b. 1812), née Ropes, wife of W. C. Gellibrand [more]. Datcha, Russ., country house.

9.  Paige
Not identified.

10.  Eastwick ... Hass
Andrew McCalla Eastwick (1810-1879), partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more], and Joseph Harrison ('Hass') Eastwick (1834-1917), son of L. A. and A. M. Eastwick [more].

11.  Harrison ... Henry
Joseph Harrison (1810-1874), jr, partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more], and William Henry Harrison (b. 1837), son of S. and J. Harrison.

12.  Hirsts
Hirst, educator, St Petersburg.

13.  happy with dear Sister
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more]. 'happy with ...George' is written in the margin between pp. 4 and 1.

14.  George
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more].