UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 11470
Date: 14 May 1868
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: London
Recipient: Joseph Harrison[2]
Place: [Philadelphia[3]]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 34/47-48
Document Type: ALS


[monogram:] AMW

2 Lindsey Row,
Chelsea,
London, S.W.

May 14th 1868

My dear Mr Harrison

Men of public importance & influence like yourself are too much accustomed to such intrusions upon their attention, for me to apologise that I, so soon again call, repeating my request of such recent date, in explanation however of my writing before your answer to my letter[.] I have been enlightened further on the subject, by listening to the discussion of my sons upon it, for which Jemie[4] who is always looking to the bright side would try to inspire Willie[5] with the hope that the Dean of the Medical Department of the University of Penn[sylvania] would send a favorable answer to his request & write the important document on stamped paper this time & put the official seal upon it that it might suffice as a Diploma[.] Willie being familiar with the rules of the Medical Institution in America, in England & France, reckoned that a second seal of office is contrary to those rules, that tho the Dean (Doctor Rogers[6]) was as friendly to him as a student during his course in Phila as was his Preceptor our friend James Darrach[7] - he cannot flatter himself by expecting a deviation from the common rules[.] I listen silently, & even so when my poor Willie as if thinking aloud, to me, utters such feeble clingings to hope - against his own convictions - No paper for Doct Rogers comes! & it is nearly three months since I last wrote him my necessity for a testimonial to shew for the Diploma! Ah I fear I shall have notice some day suddenly to take down my Plate[8] as medical practitioner from my door!

Do you now wonder at my temerity in asking you yet to [p. 2] go out of your way dear Mr Harrison to exert personally your influence, even to ask a deviation to established rules in favor of one however gifted with ability to do credit to the medical education he received in Phila has yet to confess he lost his Diploma by taking it to Richmond, where he practised[9] the four years of war! Yes I will try this once to revive your interest in the Son of your true friend[10], who I know in your place & for your Sons would not have refused to try at least all in his power to aid & to cheer, Can you not! will you not for my sake urge the request as a personal favor to yourself? I am sure it will have weight. We go to the Hearer of prayer, who forgives our repeated offences, & graciously grants our requests. I wish upon Him & shall pray him to reward you & all who comfort me, by the smile of His approval on your hearts, are you not glad to recall in your review of the past every instance where you have aided others? We are to be helpers one of the other on our pilgrimage thro the trials & changes of our mortal life! opportunities are as talents to be used to promote good ends. Willie merits kindness, he is only wanting this paper, which could give him advantages to place him on a footing[11] with others of his profession, his habits are most exemplary. Can you wonder at my begging you to try to prevent his being broken up here, to be sent adrift on the world, think how afflicting to his widowed mother to be again separated from him - who is so thoughtful to my comfort!

That I have too often experienced your readiness to relieve distress, to doubt your efforts now, if unsuccessful I will not confess to my Sons my having written without consulting them for I am happy in their confidence in their Mother. do I not prove mine in you, that you will be charitable & with all delicacy sheild [sic] my Willie from any blame my temerity may expose him to, as I am sure he waits to hear from Doctor Rogers himself, but you will by writing me relieve my suspence [sic].

[p. 3] Mr & Mrs Ross Winans[12] were calling upon us yesterday to say goodbye, as they embark on the Asia[13] at Liverpool 16th (day after tomorrow) to return home, having enjoyed 9 months in Europe among their children. You will no doubt learn from them all about what may interest you to listen to of Russia, & of George's[14] preference for his native land[.]

Please remember me to any of our mutual friends & with my love to Mrs Harrison & daughters[15], hoping this may find you all in the enjoyment of health Believe me as ever

Yours truly

Anna M Whistler.

Please direct to care of
James A. McN Whistler
2 Lindsey Row
Chelsea
London. S.W.


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Notes:

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.  Philadelphia
He lived at Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia; see AMW to JW, 23 March 1858, #06495.

4.  Jemie
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more]; AMW was staying with him.

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

6.  Rogers
Dr Robert E. Rogers (1813-1884), chemist and educator [more].

7.  James Darrach
James Darrach (1828-1869), physician in Philadelphia [more]. William McN. Whistler studied medicine in Philadelphia under Darrach's mentorship for a year beginning in May 1857, before he entered the Pennsylvania Medical School. He graduated from Medical School in 1860.

8.  Plate
William McN. Whistler's engraved doctor's plate at his lodgings in Old Burlington St. Piccadilly; see AMW to James H. Gamble, [27 August 1867], #06535.

9.  practised
During the American Civil War, William McN. Whistler served the Confederate cause as an Assistant Surgeon in the medical service.

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

11.  footing
William McN. Whistler left America in April 1865 to settle in London. He spent the rest of his medical career there, specialising in laryngology. However, he was unable to practise until he had gained the qualifications required by the Royal College of Surgeons and Royal College of Physicians to practise in Britain. AMW's efforts to assist William over the loss of his diploma also seem to have been in vain. In the end, he studied successfully for certification and was admitted to the Colleges in 1871 and 1876 respectively.

12.  Mr & Mrs Ross Winans
Ross Winans (1796-1877), locomotive manufacturer, father of JW's sister-in-law [more] and his second wife Elizabeth Winans (b. 1828), née West.

13.  Asia
Steamer Asia (1850), Cunard Line (2,226 tons.).

14.  George's
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more]. After George W. Whistler's marriage to Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, the family moved to St Petersburg, Russia to look after Ross Winans' business interests. AMW wanted George W. Whistler to be in the US rather than Russia; see AMW to James H. Gamble, [27 August 1867], #06535.

15.  Mrs Harrison& daughters
Sarah Harrison (1817-1906), née Poulterer, wife of Joseph Harrison [more], and their daughters Annie Harrison (1839-1915), Alicia McNeill Harrison (b. 1845), and Marie Olga Harrison.