The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 08181
Date: 12 May [1875][1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: London
Recipient: Frances Leyland[3]
Place: [Liverpool]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection
Document Type: ALS

2 Lindsey Houses Chelsea

Wednesday May 12th

My dearest Mrs Leyland

I wish I could put on paper the full gratitude your kind letter caused me to feel. "God will not forget it" was the response of a clergyman to my next door neighbours when they sent the help to him towards a charity he had solicited & so I echo it in acknowledgment of yours.

What a relief the one Sovereign will yeild [sic] to the poor Mother now lame & blind! she could not come for it, so I have this afternoon enclosed & sent it to her. I had forgotten when I wrote her to come, that she had slipped on the ice at the end of last year & dislocated her ankle, but she is not hopeless that both it & her sight may be restored, thro the mercy of our gracious Lord

I am very thankful dear Mrs Leyland that you were not lamed by the trap, your health I know depends so much on exercise in walking, I hope you have enjoyed your visit at Wallesy [sic]. How interesting to me your report of the girls[4] singing with their Aunt Jennie[5] the hymns, which I wish I too could listen to.

[p. 2] My love to them each & to both your Sister & Miss Parks[6]. I hope my dear Jamie[7] may soon finish the portraits at the Hall[8] & be permitted to come home to work as he has been doing this week. Beg Elinor in pity to my loneliness to encourage & help the Artist, I know she is weary of him & of posing, but I am sure she & Flo & Jamie will be as anxious as we all are to have their likeness perfected. I must be confined to my room some weeks yet & tho I can read a little daily for my own & Nurses benefit, I feel very sadly the void made yesterday by the going away of my dear friend who has for seven weeks nursed & enlivened my sick room. I hope during a brief stay at Miss Enie Chapmans[9], Mrs Livermore[10] may go to Speke for a friendly call upon you, but of course she will be in haste to get home, her daughter writes her now from Londondery how much she longs to have her there. I feel most the sacrifice Mr Livermore[11] has made in sparing his dear wife so long to me, & oh what a benefit she has been to my Sons & such a such [sic] a mutual comfort for herself & my dear daughter[12] to have been so much together with them! How I shall long for the good morning & good night embrace of Jamie now, for of course my dear Willie[13] cannot be with [p. 3] me, as he was while I was too feeble to exist without him. And now my dear Mrs Leyland I repeat my grateful appreciation of your kind indulgence to me[,] Jemie will report his surprise & delight at finding me so much more like my old self. tho I am yet very feeble & do not leave my bed til afternoon, & when I brush my grey hair I see verified in my case the chastening which is the lot of all the human race. beauty to consume away & to become ashes. I know it cannot be for long I shall be spared to my dear Sons, therefore I yearn for Jemies return.

My good Pastor[14] often comes to see me & says "I am a wonder" in the convalescent state, to which he attributes Gods blessing on the assidious [sic] care of my doctor, as you may fancy him still visiting me as a Patient,

My eyes & back are both now aching but my heart more in anticipation of the blank I am to feel when Jemie is away!

Prayer is my solace truly, yet I beg dear Elinor to hasten his completion of the work While I thank you all for making him so welcome in your charming home as a guest.

My love to Fredie & kind regards to Mrs Leyland.

Believe me ever your gratefully
attached & affectionate friend

A M Whistler

[p. 4] Mrs Livermore is to make visits to relatives of her own in Worcestershire & Manchester en route to Liverpool, during this & next week

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  12 May [1875]
Dated with reference to the Perpetual Calendar Whitaker's Almanack, and AMW's illness in April 1875 (see below).

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

3.  Frances Leyland
Frances Leyland (1836-1910), née Dawson [more].

4.  girls
Fanny Leyland (1857-1880), later wife of Stevenson-Hamilton; Florence Leyland (1859-1921), later wife of Val Prinsep; Elinor Leyland (1861-1952), later wife of Speed; there were the daughters of F. and F. R. Leyland.

5.  Aunt Jennie
Elizabeth Dawson (b. 1840), sister of Frances Leyland, was briefly engaged to JW.

6.  Miss Parks
Louisa J. Parke (b. ca 1832), friend of the Rossetti family and governess to the Leyland family [more].

7.  Jamie
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

8.  portraits at the Hall
The portraits of Florence and Elinor Leyland, done in their family residence, Speke Hall (see AMW to James H. Gamble, 7-10 September 1870, #06545). They were probably the Portrait of Miss Leyland (1) (YMSM 109), Portrait of Miss Leyland (2) (YMSM 110), and The Blue Girl: Portrait of Miss Elinor Leyland (YMSM 111). The 'Blue Girl,' was an idea that JW was very proud of, but it unfortunately did not materialize; it was abandoned and then destroyed. Still, many of JW's drawings of the Leyland girls survive, including a pastel drawing of r.: The Blue Girl; v.: Curtain (M.521); see M.509-530, and Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, pp. 140-142.

9.  Miss Enie Chapman
Probably Ellen Chapman, sister of Alfred and George.

10.  Mrs Livermore
Kate ('Cousin Kate') Livermore (1820-1907), née Prince, wife of A. Livermore [more]; her daughter was Susan ('Susie') Livermore.

11.  Mr Livermore
Arthur Livermore (b. 1811), lawyer [more]. AMW escaped death in April 1875. During her illness, Mrs Livermore looked after her for at least seven weeks; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 9 and 18 September 1875, #06555.

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

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

14.  Pastor
Rev. Robert Henry Davies (1821-1908), incumbent of Chelsea Old Church [more].