UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06559
Date: 11 July 1876
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Hastings
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W552
Document Type: ALS


Talbot House

July 11th 1876

My own darling Jemie[2],

Your fond Mother cannot let this day pass over without writing you her blessing tho it can only truly come from the heavenly source of all good. And your prayers must be as earnest as are the petitions unceasingly sent up! by her.

Willie's[3] last weeks report of you was a subject of thankfulness, that you were in good health and spirits, tho you were rather fatigued at the end of your days work on ladders, upon the walls of the Leyland dining room[4] busily decorating there.

You had thought in a fortnight (when you wrote me) to be thro your pressure of work. I wonder how you now feel disposed towards gratifying my repeated requests to shew some attention to your cousin Isabella & Mr Lane[5]. They have met with so much from strangers, to whom introduced by letters, they can scarcely excuse your neglect! Why mortify members of my family? & myself, the one most sensitive to it? They probably are to come & share my apartments by this day week, for a month, so you must not delay inviting them, make it your first engagement at once. And as one of my beloved Charleston relatives has by letter introduced Mr Ford[6] of S Carolina & in hers to me (which I enclose - to impress you with his claim on your politeness & hospitality) - shews that she expects it of you. I beg you will not put [p. 2] it off as you are so prone to do, many things which affect the pleasure of others, & thus deprive yourself of much to reflect upon with satisfaction.

I never met Mr Ford, but if he is as I doubt not charming as his Mother was you cannot but be mutually pleased. I am very fond of his pretty & delicate lady wife Minnie Porcher[7], the last of her family - except the Aunt aged as myself whose introduction to her husband you must read & do all it requires! The Pettigrews[8] were conspicuous for talent & position in the palmy era of South Carolina, they were the maternal side of the interesting Minnie Ford. And when I was a girl in that circle in Charleston, Rose Drayton[9] charmed me! She was so unconsciously graceful, a belle but not a rattle! She is Mr Ford's mother & I wish I could talk to him of her & of his youthful wife. Willie & Jemie may do my part if you invite him & the Lanes to meet at one of your nice little dinners such as you gave the Whitehouses[10]. But don't put off sending your invitation.

We deviate from the established custom dear Jemie of presenting birthday gifts! Your fond father[11] reversed this on his annually, surprising us with his remembrance of the 19th of May! One gift to Debo[12] a pretty wood box with musical box inside! & fitted up for a lady's use in thimble, scissors, &c - To me a desk! &c. [p. 3] So will you recollect to give for Isabella's bringing me the Photograph of your Mother's portrait [13] & the fan & if you can spare the Japanese Camp stool[14], I'll take better care of it than has been possible while it served as piano stool to a rather careless handler. Who keeps the key of my large trunk? I was glad to receive the two dresses with remnants & the scarf in addition with my umbrella. It was thoughtful in you to remember all I wrote for, which Nurse Taplin[15] brought on Friday last. And now I will trouble you to get a remnant of rose colored linen some yds. in length, from my trunk to send by Isabella. also a thin muslin dotted & edged with narrow lace case for putting a night dress in. Will it detain you too long to see to these wants of mine before you begin your days work? & so let Mrs Cousins put up the package to be ready to hand Mrs Lane when the Cab comes. And now I cannot write another line - Mrs Mudie[16] waits to post this & 7ocl surprises me.

Your loving Mother

A M W.

Ask Willie when he can give me a letter to answer. I am well. Love to all who remember me enough to ask.


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Notes:

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

2.  Jemie
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

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

4.  Leyland dining room
In the summer of 1876 JW worked on the decorations of the dining room and staircase of the house owned by Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more], at 49 Princess Gate, London. The decorations became Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178); see Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, and Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 1, p. 205.

5.  Isabella & Mr Lane
Isabella Lane, née Davenport, JW's cousin, wife of an estate agent.

6.  Mr Ford
Arthur Peronneau Ford, husband of M. Porcher [more].

7.  Minnie Porcher
Marion ('Minnie') Ford (1848-1907), née Porcher [more]. Minnie's father was Philip Johnston Porcher, Sr (1806-1871), AMW's cousin [more].

8.  Pettigrews
The mother of Minnie Ford was Louise Porcher (1809-1869), née Petigru, wife of P. J. Porcher, Sr [more]. The Petigru family was very important in the Carolinas with rice and cotton plantations localized in and around Charleston, Georgetown and eastern tidewater counties of North Carolina; see Jane H. Pease and William H. Pease, A Family of Women: The Carolina Petigrus in Peace and War, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

9.  Rose Drayton
Rose Butler Ford (1806-1886), née Drayton [more].

10.  Whitehouses
James Henry Whitehouse (1833-1924), banker [more], and his wife Mary Whitehouse, née Schenck, wife of J. H. Whitehouse [more]; they had dined with JW, on their visit to the UK from the US, some time in 1875 (see #09563).

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

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

13.  Photograph of your Mother's portrait
The photograph of Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101). JW had several paintings photographed by John Robert Parsons (ca 1826 - d.1909), painter, photographer, and art dealer [more], including AMW's portrait (see #07906, #07614, #09563). Also see AMW to Catherine Jane Palmer, 3-4 November 1871, #10071.

14.  Japanese Camp stool
Probably one of the many Japanese objects that decorated JW's drawing room and studio at 2 Lindsey Row (see #12493). Also see AMW to Catherine Jane Palmer, 29 October 1870, #11841.

15.  Nurse Taplin
Taplin, AMW's nurse; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 20 September [1875], #06558.

16.  Mrs Mudie
Janet Mudie (b. 1821), AMW's landlady at Hastings [more].