UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Document associated with: Bliss, George
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System Number: 06422
Date: 18 and 19 November 1852
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: London
Recipient: George William Whistler, William McNeill Whistler[2] and JW
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W417
Document Type: ALS


62 Sloane St[3]

Nov 18th 1852Thursday night

Do you recollect Doctor Playfair[4]? I think you must my dear Jemie[5] for he is the husband of Seymours Cousin Margery[6] & he is so humorous besides being scientific, he was a favorite of Sir Robt Peel[7] & has come to the royal favor[,] wears today a rich uniform as one of Prince Alberts[8] gentlemen in waiting[,] he came home to dine after the funeral of the Duke[9], to hear what Sis & Emma[10] had to say, of the obsequies at St Pauls[11] he having presented them with tickets, I have escaped from the lively circle in the drawing room for my spirit is not in keeping. I wished for you to be in my stead on the balcony of Col Colts belle étage[12] Picadilly because I knew you would enjoy the effect of the moving mass of military & court splendor, I used my privilege as an investment for the summer holiday to interest dear Willie & my Cadet[,] send the student of St James this, for I am not able to write separately. Col Colt is a true American, hospitable & seemed highly gratified by the widow of Major Whistler[13] honoring his card by accepting it, he regretted Mrs H also had not graced his hospitalities, but Sis as a musician enjoyed her seat at St Pauls more & I the reading of the last N York papers more than the look out facing the Green Park thro which the line of military crossed from the Horse Guards, (whither the poor body of the hero of Waterloo[14] was taken last night after its having been lying in state at Chelsea hospital a week, its victims crushed[15] in the rush to see its triple coffin - numberless! All here have been excited but myself[,] quite [equal?] to the enormous cost to the nation, they say Cole [p. 2] your cronie [sic] calculates the cost of the bronze car upon which the coffin was drawn (by twelve black horses - amounts to £8.000 sterling & this is but a mite in the entire cost!

When I arrived a week since, Seymour had our going to the funeral cut & dried, so I yeilded [sic] & am not ungrateful for his attention, but I should be shocked if [glare?] could excite me. The most wonderful part to a New Yorker was the order of the crowd, & its quiet, by control of its admirable police. The sun shone suddenly a surprise, for the rain has been incessant, the Oxford trains could not run because of the R R[16] being inundated. But you will want to hear who asks after my boys, all the family branches, of course & often Seymour & Sis when I talk to them of you both so grown & improved say how they wish to see you, I came from Preston with Mr Maude[17], his sister is lately left a rich widow & he one of the guardians to Mr Gunters[18] sons & to her beautiful little daughter, he talks of looking in upon us at Scarsdale next summer, so mind your furlough. You must not forget your friends Mr & Mrs T Smith[19] he introduced you to Boxall[20], they were at Col Colt's today & he delighted me more than the funeral could, by talking of you, I was in hopes Uncle MacNeill [21]would be there, tho when he called here to see me on Monday he said he was tired of all England & should keep out of its bustle, I was so thankful to find by the last arrival from N Y as I read the papers at Col Colts, that the Africa[22] had been met, so I wrote a note to rejoice with my lonely brother in our prospect of hearing by the next of the welcome to Brooklyn. Your portrait[23] comforts me, but to hear from both my boys will be cheering. Willie cannot feel as home - sick as I do at times, tho Sis & Seymour are [p. 3] so very kind to me & their children[24] are worth coming over to know, little Seymour is surprisingly intelligent he has such a memory & repeats all Annie says, so many pretty rhymes & hymns, he is the fondest of pictures & knows colors so distinctly, he is the most affectionate of the two & says Ganmama Wisseler so winningly but I never saw such nicely trained happy & obedient children as your sisters. she is so gentle yet so firm & they are so loving, as their parents are to them. You must not think anything of my remarks upon your Uncle & Seymour not sympathising how should such opposites in their preferences for their native land! "Teddy[25]" your friend Lloyd came to lunch here the other day he asked particularly after my boys, he is attending the hospitals now. Mrs Morrah[26] went with Seymour, Mrs H, Rose [27]&c to the Athanaeum[28] [sic] where he procured seats at a guinea & a half each to see the funeral. Jim M[29] is studying law & thinks of practising in Australia! Good night dear, dear boys, tomorrow this must be mailed, I envy its welcome, yet I am not regretting I came to spend a season with dear Sis, she is more worthy of my love than ever. I wish you could see her portrait[30], the hands are so exquisite, it is a beautiful ornament, to the dining room over the side board, tho the likeness is not as satisfactory as yours, facing it, over the chimney, I judge that there will be opposition to my taking home yours, so you must write your resolution for it is your property, much as I am impressed with the propriety of placing it at the cottage, you must decide. 62 certainly has no lack of pictures, but Sis delights in Jemies!

[p. 4[31]] Friday morning 19th.

Dear George it is a week today since I was welcomed to Sloane St by dear Debo for the winter, she is well for her & loves to talk of you as she gazes fondly at the daguereotype[32] you sent her by me, of your baby. She hopes you will earn leisure to bring him to Sloane St & here you might gain much from her practical experience in the culture of little ones for mental & physical health. I never was in a more charming group of children than our Debos. she has two young friends on her hands for all this week & must defer to writing you, George Bliss[33] has invited himself to dinner here today, so I am expecting to be refreshed by Springfield news. How constantly my heart turns to my native land! I feel alone in the great Babylon[34]! but always shall think it was well I came to it for this winter. I am ready to attend to your commissions dear George, if you send me the means. let me hear where your apples were bought before I leave[,] send the apples as soon as possible & write Boyd[35][,] Debo I am sure would be glad of a barrel from you thro his forwarding. Send this to Willie who will return it to Jemie for the love it bears[36] to you all from Mother

A M W


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Envelope:

For George, Willie & Jemie


Notes:

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

2.  George William Whistler, William McNeill Whistler
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more], and his half-bother William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician. George William was a resident of Baltimore, MD, JW was at United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, and William McNeill at St James' College, MD.

3.  62 Sloane St
The address of the London residence of Deborah Delano and Francis Seymour Haden.

4.  Doctor Playfair
Sir Lyon Playfair (1818-1898), scientist [more].

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

6.  Seymours Cousin Margery
Margaret ('Margery') Eliza Playfair (d. 1855), née Oakes, wife of L. Playfair.

7.  Sir Robt Peel
Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), British statesman and Prime Minister (1834-1835, 1841-1846) [more].

8.  Prince Alberts
Prince Albert (1819-1861), the Prince Consort [more].

9.  the Duke
Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), 1st Duke of Wellington, and UK Prime Minister [more]; he died on 14 September 1852, but his funeral did not take place untill 18 November.

10.  Sis & Emma
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more], and Emma Bergeron (d. 1858), née Haden, sister of JW's brother-in-law, F. S. Haden.

11.  St Pauls
St Paul's Cathedral, London. Hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to the Duke at his funeral. The tickets were issued on the production of written orders from the persons (they were predominantly Peeresses) respectively entitled thereto. Times of arrival, setting down and taking up had all been published in the local newspapers. The funeral procession amassed a million and a half people. See Illustrated London News and London Times, 11-20 November 1852.

12.  Col Colts belle étage
Samuel Colt (1814-1862), inventor and manufacturer [more]. His temporary accomodation in Picadilly, London was apparently of high standard and the belle étage (Fr.: first floor) provided an excellent position for viewing the Duke's funeral.

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

14.  hero of Waterloo
The Duke of Wellington had defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

15.  victims crushed
The dead body of the Duke laid at the Chelsea hospital between 10 and 17 November 1852. During this period thousands of people rushed to pay tribute.

16.  R R
i.e. railroad.

17.  Mr Maude
Maude, a friend of AMW, of Liverpool.

18.  Mr Gunters
Gunter (d. ca 1852), of Liverpool.

19.  Mr & Mrs T Smith
Thomas ('Tom') Smith, engineer, and his wife Mary Smith.

20.  Boxall
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more].

21.  Uncle MacNeill
William Gibbs McNeill (1800-1853), railway engineer, AMW's brother [more].

22.  the Africa
Steamer Africa (1850-1868), Cunard Line ( 2,226 tons.); see AMW to JW, 13 November 1851, #06406.

23.  Your portrait
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], painted a portait of JW now in the Hunterian Art Gallery; see Eric Denker, In Pursuit of the Butterfly, Seattle, 1995, p. 24; AMW to Joseph Harrison, 25 June 1849, #07633.

24.  their children
Francis Seymour Haden (1850-1918), Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910), musician and Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne.

25.  Teddy
Edward ('Teddy') Lloyd, of London.

26.  Mrs Morrah
Mrs Morrah, mother of J. Morrah.

27.  her portrait
Deborah Delano Haden did have her portrait painted by Boxall, but the whereabouts of the painting are unknown; see AMW to JW, 9 and 10 March 1849, #06388; AMW to JW, 25 November 1851, #06407.

28.  Rose
Rosamund ('Rose') Horsley (b. ca 1821), née Haden, sister of F. S. Haden [more].

29.  the Athanaeum
Athenaum Club, 107 Pall Mall, London. It was founded in 1824 by Arthur Wellesley. Eminence in, or patronage of, science, literature, or any branch of the fine arts, as also distinction in the public service, were the qualifications for membership of this club. By the 1880s the Athenaum possessed one of the best club houses and the finest club library in England.

30.  Jim M
Jim Morrah, JW's fellow pupil at Portishead, later a lawyer; see AMW to JW, 9 September 1848, #06359.

31.  p. 4
P. 4 is cross-written.

32.  daguereotype
Daguerreotype, untraced; see AMW to Joseph Harrison, 11 June 1849, #07627.

33.  George Bliss
George Bliss (1793-1873), writer and lawyer, of Springfield, MA [more].

34.  great Babylon
AMW means the city of London; the quote probably derives from 'Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.' Rev. 18.10.

35.  Boyd
Thomas Boyd, merchant, of Liverpool.

36.  bears
'bears ... AMW' continues in the right margin.