Documents associated with: Hill, Alethea Blanchard
Record 5 of 5
System Number: 06553
Date: 5 and 22 November 1872
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler
Recipient: James H. Gamble
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W546
Document Type: ALS
2 Lindsey Houses Chelsea London
Tuesday evening Nov 5th 1872
My beloved Friend
It has not been in my power to shew you how warmly I welcomed your letter, or how very interesting its details were to me. You know if I had leisure, how gladly & promptly I'd respond to your letters, to induce you oftener to write me, but as I am the one alone here I attend to the calls of visitors of every grade, my Parlor so accessible I often am interrupted just when I would sit down to my desk, & sometimes I have not felt well enough, besides the darkness thro incessant rains makes it difficult for my sight, tho my eyes are I thank God never painful as they were when you & others read & answered my correspondents letters for me! Still the absence of sunshine is a sad blight! You will have observed by the Papers the contrast between Summer this year here & in the U S, fruit all blighted; but mercifully a change in July of scorching Sun for ten days to secure the grain & hay. I was then visiting dear christian friends at Anerley (their house overlooking the gardens of the Crystal Palace) but since then I have been here, tho, all our circle except my Sons & self had their holiday, My daughter & her Sons & Annie spent six weeks in a retired part of Lancashire, where they had bracing air & lovely scenery. I went to welcome her return home four weeks ago, a rare sunshine induced me to walk slowly to 62 Sloane St & I was rejoiced to find my darling Debo looking so restored to health by her rest & change. Since then she has several times come to me, for I have not been out of the house, Influenza has prevailed & I am so susceptible, You have always enquired so kindly about my Grandsons Haden I think it will be a pleasant report, that Seyr the eldest is now in his last year at Oxford, he is talented & we hope he will study hard to come out with honours. Arthur the next is as talented & has [p. 2] already passed an examination in the College of Surgeons in the great credit, he has the advantage of living at home, but he is intent upon distinguishing himself as an M D. Music is his recreation, & he is a comfort to his Mother & a delight to his Sister. Harry the youngest, is now in the business house of Brown & Shipley. he is past 16 & has obtained praise for steadiness, punctuality & capacity, he of course lives at home & goes by Metropolitan train regularly to the City. I will only add, that "Nurse" who has been devoted since he was an infant of days, is faithfully attached as ever, now a confined Housekeeper & ladies Maid, invaluable to them, a Christian Servant, to be looked up to by the other 3 women.
I wonder dear Mr Gamble if your dear Wife is less troubled now about Servants! it seemed the only alloy to your home enjoyment, it is no unusual complaint even in Old England, I hear how difficult it is to obtain a good Cook of sobriety & neatness & skill, so to obviate this trial I offered to mine, to renew her engagement here, after a three days wedding visit to her widowed Mother in the country & as the young Carpenter had been coming by my permission for more than a year to our kitchen after his & her days work. I find his sharing Lucys room, not to disadvantage her services to us, they have their breakfast so early that he may be off at his work by 7 ocl there & he returns quietly at 7 to take his evening meal & sit beside her, so respectfully, we never hear any sound. It will be three years in April next, since Lucy came to learn my ways, & I doubt not by then she & Walter hope they may be able to save enough to furnish 2 rooms to live simply upon his wages of 30/ a week - I give Lucy 10/ and she finds her own meals - I took a Motherly interest in her modest preparations for her wedding, giving her the ingredients to make & bake a generous large Cake, icing & all! a success!
Jemie made her a present in Sovreigns [sic], & one or two of our lady friends surprised her by valuable gifts, as she had been attentive to them in no ordinary way. Mrs Leyland having always need of her at her toilette, for the Portrait, which her illness last Summer prevented Jemies finishing there, but he hopes to Exhibit it in the R A next Season with Mr Leylands, which your Sister saw & almost was startled when seating herself facing the life like stranger! it is indeed a remarkably fine painting. Did I [p. 3] not write you of a Moonlight picture of this river exhibited in the Dudley Gallery last Autumn? We have formed a friendship with Mr Alexander & his family since he bought that in June. he is a Banker I dare say Mr Wann may know the firm of "Alexander & Cunliffe" suffice it, Jemie is painting a life size Portrait of his 2nd little daughter, nearly finished now, Mrs A has been bringing Cecily twice a week to stand in the Studio. Haringay House is eight Miles from here, so, of course they come for the day & lunch with me, thus my time is spent tho pleasant friends require the courtesies, it accounts for my not writing absent ones whose claim is more on my heart. I went once to the sweet home of the Alexanders in their carriage & staid from Saturday afternoon til Monday, attending their church & also the Lord's Table with them, so, at once we became attached! they look a youthful pair, tho they have seven children, Mai is to have a birth day party next Thursday afternoon her Mama told me, she will be ten years old, their first born darling! all of the little ones assemble with all the servants at morning worship. Mr A reading & praying devotedly, their home life is quite according to your ideas & mine! They seem to delight in dispensing the bounties of Providence, bringing me hot house Grapes, Peaches & Nectarines which I have been so thankful to share with a few invalid neighbours - they brought me sweet & choice Roses as long as they bloomed & I felt indulged! I could not have bought either fruit not even apples, so scarce & high priced, but Mrs Leyland sent me by Express from Speke Hall a small box filled with such delicious rare Grapes as none may rival. 1 bunch of black Hamburgh & one of Canary color! So sweet in odor & in flavor spicy! Jemy was visiting at the Hall for Partridge shooting that week & happened to hear the Butler say of the Grapes from Merrideths (a famous cultivator, they were risen to 10/ the lb. Am I not honored by my English friends?
Now I will close this as it is my Servants bed time nearly, & I read & we unite in prayer before we say good night regularly. I only shall note my surprise in receiving ["]The Colorado Miner" yesterday, Georgetown Oct 16, and how interested I became in the account of the banquet given by Mr Wann as I read the [p. 4] speeches & toasts, I could fancy I heard Mr Wann in response to the Revd Mr Burnes proposing the honor due to Mrs S Wann, I know the truth of his testimony to his wife was spontaneous. yes truly your dear Sister "always makes his home the scene of real comfort & happiness" We who have realized how charmingly she presided & how united they are to each other & of one spirit in their hospitable attentions, to their guests & relatives heartily accorded our response. Please send my love to this worthy couple when you write or enclose your Sister this scrawl to read, to save the trouble of an extract. It must be no small sacrifice to her leaving Homeland, but our Lord needs her pious influence in Colorado for a season, so "it must needs be" that Mr Wann has a worldly call to Georgetown on the Pacific Coast, I often have thought that my husband went to Russia for a greater work than the St Petersburg & Moscow Railway building, his graceful & intellectual qualities & firm religious principles made his example win many to prefer domestic culture, to frivolity or dissipation, we honored & hallowed the Lords Day. oh that I could induce young men as he did without a word! to choose "the ways of religion as Pleasantness." I deplore that it is part of the routine fashionable in "the London Season" to call at Artists Studios, Sunday afternoons, as their only day to admit visitors, but all who come to Jemie's understand his Mother's withdrawal. City men go to Willie's Consulting room on Sunday as their only day free from business, to attend to their health so when I remind my dear Sons of the training for God's service they have had, they argue that God cannot be displeased by their doing their duty according to their calling &c -
Friday afternoon 22nd
I had to break the thread of my report but to my surprise & gratitude to the Lord, at our tête à tête dinner yesterday & last evening, Jemie said to me his desire is to be convinced, of all my religious views, his chief motive to make me happy, but also that his heart worships God! [p. 5] It is the more encouraging to my hopes of Jemie, that at this time when the World's praise is offered him, he should confide in me voluntarily his desire to unite with me in the highest of all attainments. his is natural religion, he thinks of God as the diffusive source of all he enjoys, in the glories of the firmament, in the loveliness of flowers, in the noble studies of the human form. The Creator of all! - Yesterday, Thursday 21st was unexpectedly, a meeting in his Studio of admirers of his pictures now exhibited in the Dudley Gallery & also in a Bond St exhibition of the French School, that altho breakfast was ready at 8½, Jemie did not get down to his til 2 hours later & then I was glad to preside also for a young American Artistic Student with him. My dear Son was so happy that at last his paintings are appreciated, his years of hard work seem now to be rewarded, & though he is more than ever industrious, it scarcely is labor[,] his health is good thanks to our Heavenly Father who blesses the means he takes to promote it, the cold bath every morning & when weather admits, his use of the oar, before breakfast. I shall send to my Sister extracts from the Athenaeum of 26th Oct & of last Friday, upon the Whistler pictures now in the two Exhi[bitions]. She likes to have them for the Stonington Weekly News & sends our friends, so I shall remind her of you as ever interested in us. The Alexander Portrait is nearly completed. Little Cecily is standing now, & luncheon is being kept hot in the plate warmer at this fireside, as it was yesterday 2 hours til he could break off! Of course she is not starving, for before she goes to the Studio I refresh her here with cake & milk & she enjoys luncheon! Her Mama is most amiable & patient, sitting quietly at crochet or reading, & soon I hope she will be rewarded by having Cecily & her life like picture at home! & not be obliged to come so far these short dark days. No Indian summer or bright Oct in rainy Old England. God gave us in mercy to the Harvest a fortnight of Sunshine, excessively hot thunder showers, then a cough I had had for several weeks was subdued. I was visiting those dear friends of mine near the Crystal Palace then & that is the only time
[p. 6] I have left my Sons, tho my dear Mrs Gellibrand has repeatedly urged me to go to there, & lately again has reminded me that my annual visit to Albyns has not been made. But now my beloved Mr & Mrs Gamble, I must write others in my dear native land. I hear of those at Scarsdale thro my Sister who records me now & then one of "Aunt Margarets["] reports of all her loved ones, Mr Popham is yet hale & going about doing good, but Mrs P is relieved willingly by Lew's wife being at "The House" Did you hear of the sudden death of Mrs Hill Side Cottage? she soon followed her Sister as her only boy Willie died two years ago, Mary has gone to the home of Blanch in California, indeed "Maimi" had just rejoiced her Mothers heart by a letter describing her pleasant journey & the happy meeting in Blanche's home!
I cannot take time to glance over my letter & so you will excuse repetitions if I have so wasted lines, for I have by little at snatches of moments lengthened it thus far. You will like to know of my Willie's practice, he is as interested in it as Jem is in his, & said to me on Sunday last, "I'm as proud of my work as Jem is of his," By which he meant the cure he had effected of a most tiresome small ulcer on one side of my nose, I fear I am his best paying Patient, he gives prescriptions free to the Poor, but many who can afford to pay the fee, are in his book, forgetting the relief they have received from his skill & advice. I am so thankful that he does not lose courage, but perseveres in gaining practical knowledge by going every afternoon of the 6 days to the Mackensie Hospital for the study of throat & lung diseases, he has the Sedate couple to serve him in his very nice house. Last friday Mrs Alexander brought me a basket of Pears, such a boon! & two lunches of delicious Grapes. My next door neighbour sent me a loaf of excellent home-made Cakes and these came from Speke Hall a box directed to me, 6 bottles of best Old Port & 6 of Champagne with 2 braces of Pheasants, & a loving note from dear Mrs Leyland. You may be sure I am taking only a "little wine for health sake" & I told my doctor I hope now to dispense with Iron which h[e] has set me up by regular doses 3 times a day. but he says no! take it & the Port wine also! My appetite is restored & I feel recovered strength, & am thankful for the blessing on the means.
[p. 7] And now I must tell you of the Widow & children of my dear George, they have been induced to give up the house in Dresden & the intention of finishing the education there, & returned to Baltimore this Autumn, to gratify the wish of Mrs Whistler's Father to have her (his only daughter) near him, as he is getting old & he yearned for his Grand children naturally. You have been I think at Alexandroffsky Villa Mr Thomas Winans elegant residence, he bought & furnished a house to present his Sister as a surprise, close to his own & his Fathers, he met her in N York the day of her arrival in the Scotia last Augt & took herself & family to New Port where he has for two Summers occupied the Bronson Villa; soon they wrote me of the delightful time they all were enjoying. "Uncle Tom" Winans has given little Joe Whistler (the Benjamin) a most beautiful Pony & as he has plenty of horses, Cousin Celeste, his only daughter, was teaching Julia & Neva, & Tom & Rose to ride - they spent two months at N Port benefitting by bathing & fishing & diving, then Mr W took them all home to Balt[imore], Grandpapa Winans having been with them, to complete their happiness in arriving in our Native land! I have barely time to post this Saturday afternoon
Ever your affectionate friend
A M Whistler
Anerley Road or Park, in the area of Norwood, South East London, overlooking the gardens of Crystal Palace; see AMW to Catherine Jane Palmer, 21 May - 3 June , #09938. Also see Ralph Hyde, The A to Z of Victorian London, London, 1987, p. 54.
5. My daughter & her Sons & Annie
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more], and her children Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, JW's niece [more]; Francis Seymour Haden (1850-1918); Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910), musician; Harry Lee Haden (1855-1877).
Harriet Gamble, née Wheaton, wife of J. H. Gamble.
10. R A
JW never exhibited again at the Royal Academy after May 1872.
11. Mr Leylands
Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland (YMSM 97). They were both exhibited in Mr Whistler's Exhibition, Flemish Gallery, Pall Mall, London, 1874.
15. Mr Alexander & his family
William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), banker and patron [more], his wife Rachel Agnes Alexander, née Lucas, and their children. JW did a portrait of Cicely Henrietta Alexander (1864-1932), mariée Mrs Spring Rice, Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander (YMSM 129). The address of the firm Alexanders' Gunlliffes' & Co. bankers, was 30 Lombard Street, London, EC; see PO Directory, 1870, p. 631.
16. Harringay House
The Alexanders were living at the time at Haringay House, Hornsey.
18. Speke Hall
The residence of F. R. Leyland at Liverpool; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 7-10 September 1870, #06545. The partridge season was from September through January so AMW probably refers to JW's visit to Speke in the Autumn of 1871.
19. Colorado Miner
'Ceremonies and festivities attending the inauguration of the Victoria Furnace at the Whale Mill' in Colorado Miner, 16 October 1872, p. 4; it was the first newspaper of Georgetown, CO, published on 8 June 1867. The article referred to a social occasion hosted by the superintendent of the 'United States General Smelting and Mining Company,' Samuel Wann. He 'entertained his Smelters and employees generally, together with a goodly number of his friends, including some of the prominent mining operators of the county and members of the Press, on the occasion of the completion of the first Swansea Furnace constructed under his superintendence, at this well-known mill.' Information from Christine Bradley, Clear Creek County Archivist, P. O. Box 2000, 6th and Argentine, Georgetown, CO.
20. Revd Mr Burnes
Rev. Burnes, pastor of the Episcopal Church at Nevada. 'The Rev. Mr Burnes, proposed the health of Mrs Samuel Wann ... this called Mr Wann to the floor again, and he feelingly and lovingly refered [sic] to the wife who followed him to every country where the fates or busines [sic] called him, and made his home always the scene of real comfort and happiness.' Colorado Miner, 16 October 1872, p. 4.
A reference to the 'Colorado Central and Union Pacific Railroad.' According to the article, the speedy completion of the railway to Georgetown was one of the subjects of the gathering and referred to briefly by T. O. Bigney, local editor of the Colorado Miner. He expressed favorable opinions of the 'Colorado Central and Union Pacific Railroad,' and believed these would furnish Georgetown the desired railway communication at an early day. See Colorado Miner, 16 October 1872, p. 4.
23. the ways of religion as Pleasantness
'Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.' Prov. 3.17.
JW showed in the 6th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1872, Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 118), and probably Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Southampton Water (YMSM 117), Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Battersea Reach (YMSM 119), and Symphony in Grey and Green: The Ocean (YMSM 72). JW's Grey Note (M.472) was shown in the Winter Exhibition, British Institution, London, 1872.
26. American Artistic Student
AMW made a mistake regarding the date of the extract from The Athenaeum, as there were none on her son in the 26 October 1872 issue. The 26th was, however, the opening date of the exhibition at the Dudley Gallery, so it is possible that AMW connected the date with the extract on her son dated a week later. See 'Fine Arts, The Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery,' The Athenaeum, 2 November 1872, no. 2349, p. 568.
28. Stonington Weekly News
The Stonington weekly news was probably the Stonington Mirror, a Connecticut paper. There is no record of the Athenaeum exctracts ever published in the Stonington paper.
Scarsdale, NY. AMW lived there intermittently between about September 1851 and November 1857, at a cottage owned by her friend Margaret Getfield Hill.
35. Lew's wife
Lewis ('Lew') Charles Popham (1833-1899), son of E. C. and W. S. Popham, and his wife Annie Popham (b. 1836), née Fleming.
36. Mrs Hill
Jane Hill (1802-1872), née Clarkson, wife of W. S. Hill [more]. Jane died on 4 June 1872, following the death of her sister Susan Hill (1806-1872), née Clarkson, wife of Robert Carmer Hill, on 7 March 1872.
William Hill (1842-1869), son of J. and W. S. Hill.
41. Mackensie Hospital
Probably the 'Hospital for Diseases of the Throat,' 32 Golden Square, London; Sir Morell Mackenzie (1837-1892), surgeon, was the founder of the London Hospital for Diseases of the Throat.
42. next door neighbour
Elizabeth Boggett (b. 1801), wife of W. Boggett; she lived at No. 3 Lindsey Row; see PO Directory, 1870, p. 401
43. Widow & children of my dear George
Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, married George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more]. Their children were, Julia de Kay Revillon (b. 1855), née Whistler; Thomas Delano Whistler (b. 1857); Ross Winans Whistler (b. 1858); Neva Winans (1860-1907), née Whistler, wife of Ross Revillon Winans; Joseph Swift Whistler (1865-1905), art critic.
46. Alexandroffsky Villa
'Alexandroffsky' in Baltimore was the villa owned by Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more]; see AMW to JW, 15, 16 and 18 September 1848, #06363.
Scotia I (1862), Cunard Line (3,871 tons.). The Scotia I arrived at New York harbour on 13 August 1872. It carried Julia de Kay Whistler, her children, governess and two maids; see 'Passengers arrived,' The New York Times, 14 August 1872, vol. XXI, no. 6522, p. 8.
AMW is drawing a parallel between Joseph Swift Whistler and Benjamin, the biblical figure, both being the youngest members of the families. Benjamin was the youngest of the children of Jacob.