The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 07633
Date: 25 June 1849
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: London
Recipient: Joseph Harrison[2]
Place: St Petersburg
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 34/25-27
Document Type: ALS

Monday June 25

My dear Mr Harrison

By my letter to you on the subject of most sacred attention[3] which went by last tuesdays Hamburg mail you will have been made aware how interesting the information contained in yours of the 10th would prove to me. I should send this via Hamburg tomorrow. As in the every day occurrences of my chequered life I am habituated to see the Invisible hand which numbers even the hairs of our heads - so upon the most trifling questions I pray for the direction of that over ruling Power. I hope not by my own blindness to stumble. My conviction is that both delays & expense will be increased by shipping the furniture boxes to Boston, and surely these must be so very small an item in the freighting Mr Rope's[4] ship that it will be no further importance to him, than, thro his wish to serve us. had Capt Leach[5] been bound for N York I am sure he would have made it to my advantage to entrust all to him, but ask himself - he is one to be relied on - if it must not greatly increase the expense to forward those heavy boxes from Boston to New York - We have no privilige [sic] on any rail road now - nor would I incur obligations if any were extended to us - You will have been informed that my Son Georges[6] head quarters is to be the city of New York, I should embark for that post & it will be easiest for me to have my furniture sent directly to N Haven from there. And you see dear Mr Harrison Georges being on the spot will be a great advantage.

[p. 2] Entre-nous the boxes sent last summer by Joseph Rope's[7] advice thro their house did not reach us till New Year, it was you know a very vexatious & unfriendly delay. I know that my dearest & best adviser would never again have had me send any article thro these friends. let business be transacted as a business affair, then we can pay just demands & there will be no fancied obligation on either side. And another warning to us (if I am not hasty in coming to conclusions) is the Piano[8] &c sent by Mr Ropes via Hull instead direct to London. We have heard twice from Gee & Co[9] about those cases, but not any notice yet to expect them[.] I begged Mr Fairbanks[10] to answer the last letter in which he had send me a drawn up paper to sign before a magistrate, to let Gee & Co know I was too ill to exert my self to go thro such a form, besides the expense it would have involved was more than the few books were worth for it only referred to them. Mrs Haden[11] wrote about the value of the piano as required - And Mr Fairbanks offered to write Gee a private friendly letter to enlist his efforts to get the articles passed & forwarded with as little additional expense as possible. Had they come direct to London by a sailing vessel, as you intended dear Mr Harrison, they would have been here sooner & at far less expense.

I really cannot afford to gratify all Mr Ropes notions, and you know dear Mr Harrison I shall have no time to lose upon reaching my native land in furnishing a home for my boys[12] who must begin school as soon as they possibly may - so if Van Sassan[13] has a good ship offering direct to N York my wish is that our boxes may be consigned to New Bold & Cruft [[14]p. 3] I think dear Mr Harrison when you explain to Mr Ropes that New York & not Boston is to be our rendezvous he will at once see it will be to my advantage that my furniture shall go by ship direct there - be firm, for it will place me in a painful predicament to tax my friends in any way. Oh I do hope this may be in time for you to arrange for me as I desire.

And now about the Dagereotypes[15], it is rather "a singular coincidence" that Mrs Haden should have surprised me with the best miniature of herself I ever saw on Friday last, taken by this very artist Mr Kilburn[16], it was I assure you quite a triumph to Jemie when your letter informed us of his being an American for his brother Seymour[17] had been lauding the improvement in this art as exhibited by this very interesting man whom he thought was, his own country man. Mr Haden[18] will take me, as you so flatteringly wish it & my boys too before we leave London - and we look forward to seeing Mrs Leland[19] in Lancashire. If Jemie does not write you here he will there as I have heard him speak of much he had to tell you - this will be the last week of study till we get on the Atlantic. I have given this afternoon to my boys to go with Miss Maingay[20], who is spending a few days with us - to the National Gallery, where James portrait taken by Boxall[21] has place. Doctor Haden proposes my taking a drive with himself, now, so I must hold myself in readiness, tho I feel more like resting. I shall draw upon Baring & Co[22] for the whole amount as you advise dear Mr Harrison. When I go to Liverpool I shall decide whether to go by [p. 4] sail or steam, the only temptation to avail of the latter is to reach my haven quickly, for besides scunnering the sailing packet would be best for my boys on many accounts - more room - fewer luxuries & less distraction from their books - but 300 steerage passengers would be disagreeable - so I cannot decide till I reach LPool. Did I remind you of the several thermometers at the windows to be sent, I shall value them from association with happier seasons. I understood from Mrs Ropes[23] that Mr Duval[24] has taken our front rooms[25], but perhaps not yet in possession. My own room her husband offers 100 rubles per ann for - Mr Duval would have given us that rent for our Dvornics[26] room, so of course they will not come to terms. Yet I should like to fancy dear Mrs R occupying it as a boudoir surrounded by her children.

I hope you will tell me in your next that you have heard from Capt Swift[27][,] in his [letter] to me dated 26th of May he says "a letter came from Mr Bliss[28] conveying the intelligence which was soon after confirmed by the more exact & feeling letter of Mr Harrison[.] since my return home within few days I have yours my dear Sister with two others from Mr Harrison[,] George will write you to thank you I am sure for all you are doing for us & all you would have done for him, but I am sure you will be thankful for his sake that he is now in a fair way of reaching a competent support, by a gradual rise thro his own perseverance in his profession. It must be very pleasant for him on the Erie rail road [29] because the other Engineers are his cousins & have known him from childhood. You are always so ready to gratify me that delicacy ought to guard against my taking advantage of your generosity, so use the freedom to decline if inconvenient, but I have a strong desire[30] that one of the Rocking chairs such as Count[31] Hadens should surprise Debo from her country men at the New Works. Say this to Mr Winans[32] with my regards & think of me tho encroaching grateful

your obliged


Mr Charles Hadens[33] address is 77 Lower Thames St. City. London

This document is protected by copyright.


via Hamburg & Stettin

Joseph Harrison Esq
Harrison Winans & Eastwick
St Petersburg

Charles[34] Haden Esq. 77 Lower Thames St City. London

[Postmark:] BO / 26 JU 26 / 1849



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

2.  Joseph Harrison
Joseph Harrison (1810-1874), jr, partner in Eastwick and Harrison, locomotive manufacturers, and later in Harrison, Winans and Eastwick [more].

3.  most sacred attention
The transportation of their St Petersburg household furniture and the coffin of George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more]; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 19 June 1849, #07629, and 13 August 1849, #07637.

4.  Mr Ropes
William Hooper Ropes (1811-1891), merchant [more].

5.  Capt Leach
Captain Leach, unidentified.

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

7.  Joseph Rope's
Joseph Samuel Ropes, merchant [more].

8.  Piano
The family piano was shipped to England, and kept by Deborah Haden (see below), while the rest of AMW's household furniture was shipped to America; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 11 June 1849, #07627.

9.  Gee & Co
Shipping company of Hull.

10.  Mr Fairbanks
Fairbanks, a merchant.

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

12.  my boys
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more], and William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

13.  Van Sassan
Van Sassan; unidentified.

14.  New Bold & Cruft
New Bold & Cruft (Cleayton Newbold & William Smith Cruft), 4 Broadway; see Doggett's New York City Patrnership Directory, 1849-50, New York, p. 33.

15.  Dagereotypes
Daguerreotypes, untraced; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 11 June 1849, #07627.

16.  Mr Kilburn
William Edward Kilburn, daguerreotype and portrait photographer [more].

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

18.  Mr Haden
Charles Sydenham Haden, merchant, brother of JW's brother-in-law F. S. Haden.

19.  Mrs Leland
Mrs Leland, Joseph Harrison's sister.

20.  Miss Maingay
Emma Elizabeth Maingay (1826-1904), a friend of AMW, of St Petersburg [more].

21.  Boxall
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more]. Boxall painted a portrait of JW in 1848, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1849; see Denker, Eric, In Pursuit of the Butterfly, Seattle, 1995, p. 24.

22.  Baring & Co
Baring Brothers and Co.

23.  Mrs Ropes
Ellen Harriet Ropes, née Hall, wife of William H. Ropes.

24.  Mr Duval
Duval, unidentified.

25.  our front rooms
The rooms at Dom Ritter, AMW's residence in St Petersburg, situated across the river from the Academy of Fine Arts.

26.  Dvornics
A colloquial term for servant; it derived from 'Dvornik,' yard-man; see AMW to JW, 21 November 1848, #06372.

27.  Capt Swift
Captain William Henry Swift (1800-1879), brother-in-law of JW's father [more].

28.  Mr Bliss
W. Bliss, unidentified.

29.  Erie rail road
Erie Railroad was built as a link between the Hudson River and Lake Erie, that is between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. It was America's first real trunk railroad, and it was opened to the public for a first time on 14 May 1851. See George H. Douglas, All Aboard, The Railroad in American Life, New York, 1992, p. 38. George W. Whistler was superintendent of the Erie, and New York and New Haven railroads.

30.  desire
'desire ... AMW' continues in the left and upper margins of p.1; 'Mr ... Petersburg' continues in the right margin; 'Charles ... London' written on inside flap of envelope.

31.  Count
AMW seems to mean Charles S. Haden (see below); he never acquired the title of Count.

32.  Mr Winans
Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more].

33.  Mr Charles Hadens
Charles Sydenham Haden, merchant, brother of JW's brother-in-law F. S. Haden; the PO London Directory, 1851, p. 362, listed Charles Haden as follows: 77 Lower Thames St, Haden Chas, custom house & ship agent.

34.  Charles
'Charles ... London' written on the outside flap of envelope.

35.  AMW
'AMW' black wax seal with monogram; 'SLOANE ... NO,' printed on frontal part of envelope.