UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 07642
Date: [c. 8-]10 September [1870][1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: London
Recipient: Margaret Getfield Hill[3]
Place: [Scarsdale, NY]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 34/69-70
Document Type: ALS


2 Lindsey Houses. Chelsea London

My own dear friend

Surely dear Margaret your own heart assures you, my long delay in telling you how welcome your letter was to me, has not been from lack of loving thoughts of you & your home circle in all its branches, but as you told me of domestic duties hindering your writing me for a year so it proves my real excuse now, if our beloved Kate[4] did as I requested her, in sending my letter to her for you to share, I need not now recount the domestic vexations & occupations from the New Year, after my sad sojourn at Brighton, the elderly & most capable & respectable servant I had depended on, was as if possessed by strong drink, when dear Mr & Mrs King[5] came to stay a week in April last, I had only girls in their teens to cook & wait, but all was sunshine out of doors, such a transition from the bitterest winter I ever experienced in England, & their companionship such a comfort at our fireside, we missed them sadly when they left us to embark for their Brooklyn home! I was taken seriously ill of Bronchitas, [sic] But my health is good now & so is that of my Sons[6]. Debo[7] writes me of hers being restored in the usual retreat Mr Haden took herself, their Annie & the three boys to in Lancashire, every one who can, goes out of London in August. I had an invitation to accompany Jemie to Speke Hall[8], where we two enjoyed a visit last Sept, he has been there four weeks now & as he went for more than a mere holiday, to paint a life-size full length portrait[9] of Mr Leyland his host he is to stay to finish that work. of course as his friend Mr L goes in & out to his business house in Liverpool daily, the Artist cannot confine himself to his Easel as he does too closely in his own [p. 2] Studio here. I confess to a similar Scotch value for genius which Sir Walter Scotts lady [10] had even for the pecuniary reward, if only to pay for the expenses attendant upon the use of the talent. Jemie is very much liked by the Leyland family & writes of the Hall being full of kindness, & that the Mama & three little girls[11] are wishing I'd come, but I would not leave Willie tho his professional duties confine him to his office, & he can only look in upon me for an hours [sic] cheering on those days when he attends a Childrens Hospital[12] for Charity in Chelsea, except on Sunday when he stays longer. I have been helping him in the furnishing a Small house where he feels it better to be than in lodgings[.] you know my dear Margaret I am experienced in moving tho but for my Scarsdale friends help I should have felt the burthen more[.] I am sure my head & hands have relieved my dear Willie in getting settled. it is to be lamented we three cannot be living together under one roof, we have three miles of pavement between us, but 80 Brooke St Grosvenor Square is in so fashionable a part of the West End that we could not afford a house large enough for Jemie & for him, each requiring such large rooms for Studio & for Patients to be received properly, so we must be satisfied that dear Willie has providentially found a 2 story house of four rooms only, at £80 a year, in nice repair, newly painted, he has leased it for seven years, he is getting known & is so diligent, that I trust as I pray, he may be prospered, tho it is an uphill & anxious career. he is blest in excellent health. both my dear boys I am thankful to know are steady in their improvement of time & have none to spare for dissipation[.] they would I am sure desire to unite with me in loving regard to the Pophams[13] & Hills were they at my elbow. I am yearning for a long letter from Stonington, as Kate has not even answered mine to her by Mr King of April last, she I am sure has only waited for leisure. I heard from [p. 3] our Cousin Mrs Corbett[14] lately of Georgie Palmers [sic] wife[15] having called to see her in 41st St just before she was going to Stonington[,] how happy my dear Kate is in her daughter & in her Sons [sic] nice wives[16]. naturally I, who am so much alone, wish mine were happily married. When dear Debo is in her Sloane St home, she comes to me regularly every Sunday afternoon & then I hear of her talented & three promising sons. Seyr the eldest has during his holiday as an Oxford student, been travelling with a classmate in Norway. he describes it as most interesting, with its forests of Pine trees as they landed on its coast. now he has joined his parents in Lancashire, I am glad to think how much Debo is enjoying the freedom from town, with her husband, Annie happy among her brothers mingling in their goals. I pray daily we may be again welcomed pleasantly by Mr Haden[17] under his roof. I am sure he is a good father & husband, & I know that dear Debo shines in her home, she deserves the exalted opinion her Sister has formed of her[,] I am sure Julia Whistler[18] loves dear Debo next her own children, it was after the loss of her husband, in Debos [sic] visits at Brighton the poor widow first knew our lamented George's only Sister! We feel that tho a lifes [sic] sorrow is so saddening, yet that it elevates & purifies the heart, Julia is much favored too in the daily example of her daughters Governess. Miss Willis[19] is a delightful character & a member of our Church, & she has the faculty of teaching that the ways of religion are pleasantest. George's widow & her 5 children[20] went from Brighton in June, she left them under care of the two faithful servants Germans who have been their devoted nurse & ladys maid for years at Homberg a charming watering place in Prussia, while the two ladies travelled together to decide whether Stuttgard [sic] (where the Livermores[21] are) would be pleasant to settle in, Julia & our old friend Kate (Prince) who by letter had become interested in each other, regret they are not to be together, for Dresden is preferred for Julia's making a home, & we hear she is now intending to leave the mountain retreat where they have been shetered [sic] thro this dreadful war[22]! & to get settled in Dresden soon

[p. 4] Sat 10th Sept

I have just recd a most interesting letter from the Governess, they are now in Dresden getting into their home[,] they like the English Clergyman & his wife, & are near to the Church & the boys school. I hear from Mrs Ducatel[23] in Balt[imore]. how much they mourn with dear Georgie[24] his loss of such a tender father[25], it has brought a cloud over the orphans future! but he will be cheered when he can enjoy his brothers & sisters & their mama. In the interval of some days since I began this letter, one from Mr King has come to be answered, so, this is not as long as it might have been. We have had workmen Masons & painters about our premises this week & my quiet has been disturbed, but I hope to write you at leisure & to hear from your pen of all your dear circle, so interesting to me. My loving memories of each! extended to our favorite Mrs Holbrook & your Pastor & his dear wife[26]. Rain for days is doing great benefit but I hope fair weather by Monday when I expect to visit Feldheim[27] to stay a few days ere I must come back to be quite ready to welcome my dear Jemie home[.] How remarkable that the crops of grain should be so unusually fine this season of drought! and so much fruit larger & riper than I ever saw in England, but too high in London fruit shops for my indulgence[.] My eyes are wonderful & I have strength according to my need. Thanks be to our merciful Lord of all!

Ever[28] dearest friend
yours in sympathy & true affection

Anna W

I need not tell you how I envy my scrawl your welcome


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Notes:

1.  [c. 8-]10 September [1870]
Dated with reference to the Perpetual Calendar Whitaker's Almanac, and the portrait of Frederick Richards Leyland (see below; also see AMW to James H. Gamble, 7-10 September 1870, #06545. AMW states that she began the letter 'some days' before 10 September.

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

3.  Margaret Getfield Hill
Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881), a friend of AMW, of Scarsdale, NY [more]. AMW lived at Scarsdale intermittently between ca September 1851 and November 1857, in a cottage owned by M. G. Hill.

4.  Kate
Catherine ('Kate') Jane Palmer (ca 1812 - d.1877), née McNeill, AMW's sister [more].

5.  Mr & Mrs King
Ralph King (1801-1878), broker, father-in-law of W. McN. Whistler [more] and his second wife Mildred M. ('Mittie') King (b. 1820), née Bronaugh. In May-June 1869 the Kings stayed with AMW for three weeks on their way to Paris; see AMW to Harriet Gamble, 9 June 1869, #06543.

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

7.  Debo
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more], her husband Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more], and their children, Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, JW's niece [more]; Francis Seymour Haden (1850-1918); Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910) musician; Harry Lee Haden (1855-1877).

8.  Speke Hall
Speke Hall, near Liverpool, home of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more]; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 7-10 September 1870, #06545.

9.  portrait
Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland (YMSM 97).

10.  Sir Walter Scotts lady
Probably a reference to Sir Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel; A Poem, London and Edinburgh, 1805; a poem about the customs and manners which anciently prevailed on the Borders of England and Scotland.

11.  Mama & three little girls
Frances Leyland (1836-1910), née Dawson [more], and her daughters, Fanny Leyland (1857-1880), later Mrs Stevenson-Hamilton [more], Florence Leyland (1859-1921), later Mrs Prinsep [more] and Elinor Leyland (1861-1952), later Mrs Speed [more].

12.  Childrens Hospital
According to the PO Directory, 1870, pp. 1595-96, there were no hospitals for children in Chelsea. The nearest hospitals would have been the Hospital for Women and Children, 9 Vincent Square, Westminster SW, and Hospital for Sick Children, 48 and 49 Great Ormond Street, Queen Square WC. AMW could have meant the Chelsea Brompton and Belgrave Dispensary, 41 Sloane Square SW, or the Chelsea Home, Manor House, Smith Street, Chelsea SW, which would have had children's clinics.

13.  Pophams
William Sherbrooke Popham (1793-1885), merchant [more], and his wife Jane O'Neill Hill (1793-1882), sister of M. G. Hill.

14.  Mrs Corbett
Mary Corbett (b. 1804), cousin of AMW [more].

15.  Georgie Palmers [sic] wife
George Erwin Palmer (1843-1909), JW's cousin [more], and his wife Susan Euphemia Palmer, née Sears.

16.  her daughter & in her Sons [sic] nice wives
C. J. Palmer had two sons and two daughters; they were all married by 1870. Julia McNeill Palmer (1851-1902), JW's cousin, later wife of W. S. Boardman [more]; George E. Palmer married Susan Euphemia Sears; Donald McNeill Palmer (b. 1845), JW's cousin [more], married Anna Feazel; Anna Whistler Palmer (b. 1848), AMW's niece, later wife of G. Stanton, married George Stanton.

17.  Mr Haden
In late April 1867, JW argued with F. S. Haden, over Haden's treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. From then onwards, F. S. Haden forbade JW, his brother and his mother from visiting the Haden home at 62 Sloane Street; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 11 November [1868], #06538

18.  Julia Whistler
Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, married George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more].

19.  Miss Willis
Miss Willis, governess.

20.  5 children
Julia de Kay Revillon (b. 1855), née Whistler; Thomas Delano Whistler (b. 1857); Ross Winans Whistler (b. 1858); Neva Winans (1860-1907), née Whistler, wife of R. R. Winans; Joseph Swift Whistler (1865-1905), art critic; they were the chldren of J. D. and G. W. Whistler.

21.  Livermores
The family of Kate ('Cousin Kate') Livermore (1820-1907), daughter of J. D. Prince, and wife of Arthur Livermore (b. 1811), lawyer [more].

22.  war
The Franco-German war, also called the Franco-Prussian war (19 July 1870 - 10 May 1871); see AMW to James H. Gamble, 7-10 September 1870, #06545.

23.  Mrs Ducatel
Mrs J. T. Ducatel, mother-in-law of George William Whistler.

24.  Georgie
George ('Georgie') Worthen Whistler (b. 1851), JW's nephew [more]; he was the son of George William Whistler by his first marriage.

25.  father
See AMW to Joseph Harrison, 5 February 1870, #11968.

26.  Mrs Holbrook & your Pastor & his dear wife
Probably Mary Baker Holbrook, née Tyler, wife of J. Holbrook; Rev. William Whittinghame Olssen (1827-1911), Rector at Scarsdale, NY [more], and his wife Louisa Olssen (b. 1828).

27.  Feldheim
Mary Isabella Rodewald (1823-1867), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of J. F. Rodewald [more], lived at Feldheim, Wimbledon Common, London; see AMW to Catherine Jane Palmer, 29 October 1870, #11841.

28.  Ever
'Ever dearest ... Anna W' written at right-angles in top margin of p. 1.