UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Morgan, Elizabeth
Record 1 of 9

System Number: 06369
Date: 20 October 1848
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: [St Petersburg[2]]
Recipient: JW
Place: [Portishead[3]]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W365
Document Type: ALS


Friday evening. Oct 20th 1848

When your notes come my own darling Jemie[4] they make me feel as if you were so near that I must spring to meet you, do not wonder then at my immediate reply to yours received this morning of the 4th. So you had already forwarded it to Mr Fairbanks[5] to send to us, ere Sisters[6] proposal that she should enclose for you in hers of the 6th, but hence forward I hope you will regularly despatch a letter for either dear father[7] Mother or Willie [8] once a fortnight to be in Sloane St in time for Sisters it will be so pleasant to us to expect the double fare on a certain day. And you know Jemie dear even American letters can be calculated upon almost to a day. Mr Fairbanks enclosed us a few paragraphs from the news papers, but no letters have reached me yet. have you read the account of the discovery of a rich gold mine[9] in California? It seems like one of your favorite tales of the arabian nights. As brother George[10] is not there with a pick axe and shovel to gather in the needful, I packed off to him a large bundle of household linen by the last ship for Boston from this, for we use only half of what we used to require when Sis & Aunt A[11] & dear Jemie and tutor & governess composed our family. You say in your note dear boy how you should enjoy passing a few months in Dom Ritter[12]! And by the blessing of God we hope to welcome you to this home next June, father keeps the bright prospect before him, but this [p. 2] no doubt he wrote you. I did not see his letter to you.

how interested dear father will be on his return from the road when he reads your record of your studies, in your next do tell us of your weekly course what you are occupied in cerain hours of each day. Willie thinks you will know more latin than he can learn by next summer, but so you should, for he is studying Russ in which most of the sciences are taught at Baxters[13], he wonders if you are learning Greek, it is not taught at his school[14]. he has been obliged to stay at home these two days because of sore throat and cough, but he has studied his lessons for each day in the expectation of going the next, he is writing a note now to one of the boys to get the books for Mondays recitations as I shall not let him go till then, his teacher of music Madam Vaxmarte[15] came to-day to see if he would continue her pupil, but unless she can give him instructions at the school which she is willing to do I fear he will never be proficient to lead a choir. Willie is grieved because his Belchor[16] has so sore an eye that instead of our sending him to the Manége[17] we have sent him to a horse Doctors, I wish he may be skillful enough to cure the poor dumb sufferer. Our good cow gives us abundance of milk & all our table butter. Do you get good milk? it is important for your health, do ask Mrs P[18] to order a quart of fresh a day for you that you may have it at all your meals, it must be an extra charge of course.

[p. 3] How glad you will be to see Mr Prince[19]! Write Seymour[20] to send by him a bottle of tincture of rhubarb - & to say how much you must take when you require a dose. I will send you all the books you wish with other things by Wm Merriellees[21], his Uncle[22] kindly promises to go to see you when he is at Bristol. I hope ere now dear Jemie you have had your teeth attended to do not put off your sitting at the dentist, I think if I had such a nice even row of ivory as you have I could brush, without scraping the gums, I am so thankful you take care to clean your teeth regularly. I have been many times & must go many more to Thomson[23] before he completes his job. The weather has been so damp I have caught cold in the heavy atmosphere, we were glad to see a slight sprinkling of snow yesterday. I shall rejoice in the clear frost & wish it may come early, for tho the cholera has nearly ceased there is such illness caused by this unwholesome dampness. Willie Ropes[24] has intermittant fever, he fancies he remembers Jemie, & so does Louly[25]. Ellen[26] is sure she does for she loves you better than any boy & Mary[27] wishes you were at Dom Ritter again tho she says she loves Willie as much as she does Jemie for they are the same, they are brothers! I delivered your love for them to their mama who brought her sewing & sat with us this afternoon while Mr R[28] was at Change[29]. Mrs R[30] is so fond of Jemie I beg for a particular message to her in your next. I met Mrs Morgan[31] at the ladies Committee of the British [p. 4] school last Monday, she calls me dear Mrs W & coaxes me to go soon to see her, I shall carry your love for them which I've no doubt they will respond to. Mrs Morgan is the most stylish lady now in the English circle that Mrs Baird[32] has gone for the winter to Italy. How soon the world forgets the warnings God sends for us to live prepared to meet Him! the Cholera[33] must have been appalling two months ago, yet how soon it is obliterated from the minds of those who escaped. Jemie dear you say you feel the cold, that must not be. Write to Seymour if necessary for a warmer jacket & trousers to wear in common, your last years suit must be tight & thin. he will have them made by your tailor but they should be rather wider than your best. Have you your thick drawers & new under shirts & yarn socks? if not dear child begin now to wear them. Willie[34] shall ask Karitzky[35] to make impressions in white wax of the Russian Eagle[36] &c. We seldom see the Alexandroffsky boys[37] except at church. Hass being at Altona[38] & Henry at Hirsts[39] & our Willie the whole week at school makes a marked contrast to old times, we will deliver your messages to Mons La Roche[40], Lamartine[41] and Karitsky. Biber[42] is in Finland and Limonias[43] we are not likely to see. Kind regards from Willie and Mother to the fire side circle at Eldon Villa[44], but take care not to leave where any eyes but your own may rest upon the scrawls of your devotedly attached Mother.

Thank you dear Jemie for writing Fred Smith[45] without delay, never neglect such as he is. Master James A Whistler


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Notes:

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

2.  St Petersburg
AMW was evidently in St Petersburg.

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

4.  Portishead
JW was at a boarding school at Portishead.

5.  Mr Fairbanks
Fairbanks, a merchant.

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

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

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

9.  discovery of a rich gold mine
On 24 January 1848, James Marshall discovered gold while overseeing the construction of a sawmill, in a place called Coloma about 45 miles from Sutter's Fort on the south fork of the American River. As word of the gold discovery spread gold-seekers from all over the state, Hispanic Californians, Native Americans, Europeans and U.S. citizens joined them. As word spread outside California in the following months, new national and ethnic groups contributed their share to the fascinating mix of the gold fields: Mormons from Utah, farmers and trappers from nearby Oregon, experienced miners from Mexico and Chile, white sailors and merchants and native workers from Hawaii, and Chinese from the province of Kwangtung near Canton. By midsummer of 1848, there were about four thousand miners in the gold fields; by the end of the year, the number was close to ten thousand. This intense mining produced roughly a quarter of a million dollars in gold in 1848, the year known as the year of the 'Gold Rush.' See William W. Johnson, The Old West: The Forty-Niners, New York, 1974.

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

11.  Aunt A
Alicia Margaret Caroline McNeill (1786-1863), JW's aunt [more].

12.  Dom Ritter
The residence of AMW at St Petersburg.

13.  Baxters
The boarding school of William McNeill Whistler in Russia.

14.  it is not taught at his school
See AMW to JW, 30 September and 12 October 1848, #06368.

15.  Madam Vaxmarte
Madame Vaxmarte, music teacher.

16.  Belchor
The name of a horse (Russ., squirrel).

17.  Manége
Fr., training ground for horses.

18.  Mrs P
Mrs Phillott, wife of JW's tutor at Portishead.

19.  Mr Prince
Porbably Ben Prince, a friend of AMW, of St Petersburg.

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

21.  Wm Merriellees
William Spurr Mirrielees (b. 1828), son of A. Mirrielees.

22.  his Uncle
J. Mirriellees, brother of A. Mirriellees.

23.  Thomson
Thomson, JW's dentist at Portishead.

24.  Willie Ropes
William Hooper Ropes (1811-1891), merchant [more].

25.  Louly
Louisa Harriet Ropes (1844-1903), later wife of E. A. Cattley.

26.  Ellen
Ellen Ropes, daughter of W. H. Ropes.

27.  Mary
Mary Brennan (b. 1825), AMW's servant [more].

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

29.  Change
Probably the Stock Exchange.

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

31.  Mrs Morgan
Elizabeth Morgan, wife of Steven Morgan.

32.  Mrs Baird
Dorothea Baird, wife of F. Baird, St Petersburg.

33.  Cholera
See AMW to JW, 26 September 1848, #06365.

34.  Willie
'Willie ... &c.' continues in the left margin of p. 1; 'We ... Hirsts' in the right margin; '& ... deliver' in the left margin of p. 2; 'your ... Limonias' in the right margin; 'we ... see' in the left margin of p. 3; 'Kind ... note' in the right margin; 'to ... upon' in the left margin of p. 4; and 'the ... Mother' is cross-written in the right margin.

35.  Karitzky
Aleksander Osipovich Koritzkii, Professor at St Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts and court painter [more].

36.  Russian Eagle
Symbol of Imperial Russia.

37.  Alexandroffsky boys
Joseph Harrison ('Hass') Eastwick (1834-1917), son of L. A. and A. M. Eastwick [more], and William Henry Harrison (b. 1837), son of S. and J. Harrison.

38.  Altona
Northwest district of Hamburg, Germany. See AMW to JW, 25 December 1848, #06379.

39.  Hirsts
Boarding school at St Petersburg.

40.  Mons La Roche
La Roche, tutor at St Petersburg.

41.  Lamartine
Lamartine, tutor in the French language.

42.  Biber
Biber, teacher at Peters School, St Petersburg.

43.  Limonias
Limonias, tutor in St Petersburg.

44.  Eldon Villa
JW's boarding school at Portishead.

45.  Fred Smith
Fred Smith, a young friend of AMW; he was probably suffering from ill health.