System Number: 07627
Date: 11 June 1849
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler
Recipient: Joseph Harrison
Place: [St Petersburg]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 34/7-10
Document Type: ALS
62 Sloane St
June 11th 1849
I was very much gratified by our friend Mr Ellerby presenting his respected self & your welcome letter yesterday dear Mr Harrison, tho it was a surprise his following us so soon to London. he was just in time for our dinner & told me of all my friends the hour he spent with us, promising to call again at the end of this week.
I went out with my boys for a walk on Sat afternoon for the first time since my arrival as I have been on Mr Haden's list of patients - Mary told me on my return I had not been out ten minutes when Mrs Law & her son called. how sorry I felt that they should have come so far without a welcome in [sic] Mrs Haden & I went directly after breakfast this morning to their lodgings & saw all of them but the Doctor, they set out tomorrow for the home of the little motherless grand children a most painful visit & a brief one it will be, they have so many relatives to visit in different parts of England. Mrs L told me it would be long ere they could get to Scotland where they will stay till Oct when they expect to embark for St P in the new steamer Emperor, they like Capt Knocker so much! I have not heard from Mr Prince again, but as he promised to let me know of his movements I can conclude he is still waiting the arrival of Mrs Harrisons mother. I hope he received & will hand you a small parcel which Mrs Fairbanks sent him at Mr Eastwick's respect, containing the dagereotypes, when she forwarded per railway[,] a box to him for Mrs Winans containing the beautiful cloak & hood which Julia W bought for the little idol of that house. I should have written Mrs Leland this week but I think she is now on her way to Hull with Annie. they might pass their time at Scarbro [sic] charmingly while Capt K should be discharging. that nice bathing place is so [p. 2] convenient to Hull & they could see York Minster on their way as I did two years ago. When I heard Mr Ropes had sent the piano by the Hull steamer I was frightened as I had thought with you, it would be better it should come by a sailing vessel direct to London, directed to Charles Hadens Esq who being in the custom house would have attended to it for Debo. but we must be patient now & hope the expences will not be doubled thro precipitancy. What have you decided about the boxes which are to be sent to America? I am not competent to advise but think Mr Cruft will take a peculiar interest if you have them shipped to him at N York.
George had not received a parcel which Mr Van Sassan sent for us last autumn, Ben Prince knows about it[,] will you ask the fate of the Gulnare. I have not yet seen Mr Gibson but shall go soon & often to visit the invalid as I feel my own dearest Whistler would have wished to[.] Mr Francis who has been sent to the "Locks & Canals Co" from Lowell to England has been to see me, I remember when my husband took him by the hand & he does not forget it his own merit has advanced him, he was entirely overcome when he heard of his best friends death and tells me I shall find scores of gratefully attached & sincere friends of his, who will feel it a privilege to serve me. Oh dear Mr Harrison! is not the inheritance he has left us better than fortune a good name is imperishable. What a change has devolved upon me to train our two lads to virtues such as their fathers - but I am encouraged for already I see Jemie making exertions to overcome habits of indolence at my bidding he is such an excitable spirit & has no perseverance but I urge him on from time to time daily[.] I shall not faint but labor & pray the blessing of God upon any endeavours. Willie is studying most cheerfully they are both fond of their teacher. I hope by Sept to have them placed at school in their native land.
[p.3] When another fine healthy & beautiful infant was sent to cheer the parents for the loss of their Angelic Charlie, they named him in complement [sic] to their esteemed friend Col Bouttatz but in less than fifteen months this bud of promise was nipped & they bowed in unmurmuring submission to the will of God. The process of preparing their hearts for His summons to appear in His awful presence has been in the chamber of sickness and since their aim has been to live to the glory of God, they have not sorrowed as those without hope, they knew not why the strokes were in such rapid succession, but they knew Gods purposes were in mercy not in wrath, for He doth not willingly afflict, or unnecessarily try the children of men. Infinite Wisdom cannot err - and what are the sufferings of this transitory life, compared to the joys of Eternity!
Major Whistler's bodily sufferings after his attack of cholera last Nov increased gradually until the last five weeks, when they became intense but his patience & entire submission to God shewed his mind still rigorous, even in death his intellectual powers were triumphant, his confidence was in his Redeemers power over the grave! May all the praise be rendered to our Lord in whose merits he trusted! And may all who read this testimony, profit by the warning to be ready as was the subject of these few notes, for the summons to die shall to many be as sudden!
The day on which the [p. 4] family of Major Whistler - so reduced in numbers bade adieu to St Petersburg to return to their native land the widow & the fatherless! It was the 7 - 19th of May and the 49th anniversary of his birth day. This struck the mourners with redoubled grief as they parted from a circle of sympathising friends[,] sacred associations with their sojourn in St P will ever connect them with Russia
4. Mr Ellerby
Rev. Thomas Ellerby, clergyman, in charge of the British and American Chapel at St Petersburg.
8. Mrs Law
Mrs Law, wife of Dr Law.
9. Mrs Haden
Probably Emma Haden, née Harrison, mother of JW's brother-in-law, F. S. Haden.
Dr Law, a scottish physician at St Petersburg.
Probably Steamer Emperor (1849), Earle's Shipping Co. (1,256 tons.).
13. Mr Prince
Probably Frederick ('Fred') Prince, relation of friends of the Whistlers in St Petersburg.
14. Mrs Harrisons mother
Sarah Poulterer, Sarah Harrison's mother.
15. Mrs Fairbanks
Mrs Fairbanks, wife of Fairbanks, a merchant.
Daguerreotypes, untraced. Photographic process invented by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1789-1851), inventor. The process involves sensitising silver with iodine in order to produce an image; see AMW to Sarah Harrison, 20 June , #07632.
18. Mrs Winans
Julia de Kay Winans (d. 1850), née de Kay, wife of Ross Winans.
20. Mrs Leland
Mrs Leland, Joseph Harrison's sister.
22. York Minster
Maybe the largest gothic cathedral in Northen Europe. Its construction as we now know it, started in c. 1220 and went on almost continuously for two hundred and fifty years. See G. E. Aylmer and Reginald Cant, eds., A History Of York Minster , Oxford, 1977.
24. the piano
The piano belonged to George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more]. He played also the flute. AMW shipped the piano to England, to her step daughter Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more], who was the only one to inherit her father's musical talent. See Richard Dorment, and Margaret F. MacDonald, James McNeill Whistler, London, 1994, p. 72; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 25 June 1849, #07633.
25. Charles Hadens
Charles Sydenham Haden, merchant, brother of JW's brother-in-law F. S. Haden.
28. Mr Van Sassan
Van Sassan; unidentified.
29. Ben Prince
Ben Prince, a friend of AMW, of St Petersburg.
Probably Gulane, an Irish emigrant ship; see David Dobson, Ships from Ireland to Early America, 1623-1850, Baltimore, 1999, p. 64.
31. Mr Gibson
33. Locks & Canals Co
In 1835 at Lowell, MA, George W. Whistler had directed the building of a machine shop's first locomotive; the shop was owned by the Locks and Canal Company. He took apart an English locomotive imported from the Stephenson works at Newcastle to learn how it was constructed. From the components, Whistler fabricated patterns from which the shop manufactured its own locomotive - one of New England's earliest. Three years later the shop had turned out 32 locomotives. James B. Francis took charge of the machine shop in 1837.