The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: White, A.W.
Record 3 of 3

System Number: 04756
Date: [2 November 1899][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P396
Document Type: ALS

[Chatham coat of arms with motto:] BENIGNO NUMINE


Thursday -

If you had not had the toothache - (and with my terrible new ache I quite sympathize!) you would have guessed, Major that Euphrasie[3] did bring her little bill to Monsieur, and that he, of course, saw her off with it to Mademoiselle! -

So now, according to your directions, I have been cross examining! - and "there has transpired" in the course of things, an item of the "Bulvardeer's" quartermaster department at Hazlesmith[4] that, for one slight moment, amused and the faint smile of the invalide "flickered across the thin intelligent face, and lighted up the features habitually drawn with pain[5]"!! - - - - - so thats all right! -

[p. 2] The cheque I asked about, and left unfilled, was £26 - 17 - 6 - for White[6] -

I am being well taken care of - and the doctor from round the corner is doing his part excellently - But the whole business is frightfully painful!

Only it has nothing to do with the rest of my health - which would seem to be in a delightful condition! -

So though I suffer woefully, and though the agonies have been brought about by exposure in the East wind, I have neither cough, cold, nor even any of the lingering effects of the past influenza! - and let us hope thats all right! -

Why didn't you write a line yesterday Major? -

The man has been about again bothering for his piece of ivory for the fan[7] - I have told Euphrasie to look for it in my drawing room table -

In case she doesn't find it, do you remember where you put it? -

Well yes Major, I have been reading the "latest accounts" as you urged - and I am sure if you are pleased with the panning out of the British "Victories[8]", why of course I ought to be! . . . . and "the fewer the higher[9]"!! . . .

Never mind Major! - You will be getting so that you will see these things yourself soon, and will be able to send your own jokes to the New York Herald! - Won't she Ma'ame[10]? -

But it will be long before you can hope to beat the Commanding General in his report to the War Office! "Why is our mule when he bolts with our cannon"?!!! - and "Where is our Regiments at?"!! - .

Well Well well! All [p. 3] this will be changed soon I suppose - Of course if some of those Australians in their "Confederate[11]" sort of get up - and their Southern swing - and others from Canada - and perhaps if the Blacks are stirred up to attend to the women and children - well, I am saying, no doubts that with much time and enormous money the Boer will be trampled out! - but then, Major, there will be no longer anything funny! - no Columns wandering pleasantly round after huckleberries! - no British "Victories"!! -

So mean while Major . . . . . . -!!! .

The Bate[12] continues to grow in sweetness & beauty!! - of this more anon! -

They say I am getting rapidly well! - which did not prevent my passing last night in a chair! the head splitting when lying down making bed intolerable!

And yet this seems to be a "nice kind cheerful letter!" - So mind you let [it] be enjoyed ! -[13]

Say[14] nice things to every body and dont you worry out jokes too much Major!


the General

You had better now at once see about getting off the "Sophie of Soho[15]" through Mr. Marchant[16] of Goupils - to be sent to their house in Paris -

Euphrasie has just come back with the ivory - & thats - - -

And the Blanchiseuse[17] has had her cheque -

The letter about Lady Blanche[18] has never been sent on yet from Madame Lefevre[19] -

I am glad you had the wit to go to Davenport[20] - & hope that is going on all perfectly -

[written on verso of envelope:]

'Telegram[21] 1/8 -
Keys 1/5
3 Nov Fares to Fitzroy[22] at  
Heinemann[23] 7
Postage 2½.
Maude[24] [illegible] 9
Toothpowder for self
[illegible] 2.2


[Egg?] [illegible] 9
  .. 5
  .. 7


Maud's food . 2.00
paid [Ron?] 1-1.
[illegible] [Panels.?] 5.
  ..  -
Maude 1. Self - 3.8 = 4.8.
51 3.6½


This document is protected by copyright.


[Chatham coat of arms with motto:] BENIGNO NUMINE

Miss Major Birnie-Philip -
Dhu House -
36. Tite Street
Chelsea -
[postmark:] PARIS-81 / R. DES CAPUCINES / 6E 2 / NOV / 99
[postmark on verso:] LONDON. N. W. / 6.45.AM / NO 3 / 99 / 31


1.  2 November 1899
Dated from the postmark.

2.  Rosalind Birnie Philip
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. JW called her 'Major' and himself 'General'.

3.  Hazlesmith
October 1899 marked the beginning of the Anglo-Boer War. Ladysmith, the key point in the struggle for Natal, was besieged for 118 days. General Sir George White, the British commander, defended the town but the water supply was cut off and food ran short. Many died from sickness and fever as well as war. The siege was finally raised on 28 February 1900 by British forces under General Sir Redvers Buller.

4.  pain
This is probably a parody rather than a direct quotation from a 19th century melodrama.

5.  Euphrasie
Euphrasie, JW's servant at 110 Rue du Bac.

6.  White
A. W. White (b. ca 1843), solicitor's clerk, JW's landlord at 8 Fitzroy Square [more].

7.  ivory for the fan
JW decorated one spoke of a fan; see Sketch for a fan (M.1422).

8.  Victories
JW continually criticized the British campaign against the Boers in South Africa.

9.  the fewer the higher
Part of a conundrum (see #04755).

10.  Ma'ame
Frances Philip (1824-1917), née Black, JW's mother-in-law [more].

11.  Confederate
On 30 November 1899 offers of colonial aid were accepted by the British. JW is comparing the uniform of Australian regiments to that of the Confederate army during the Americn civil war.

12.  Bate
Inez Eleanor Addams (fl. 1898-1927), née Bate, painter [more].

13.  you let [it] be enjoyed ! -
'you let [it] be enjoyed ! -' is written in the right margin.

14.  Say
'Say nice ... General' was written in the left margin of p. 2; 'Important ... Paris.' in the left margin, 'Euphrasie ... cheque' in the top margin of p. 1; 'I am glad ... perfectly' in right, 'The letter the top margin of p. 1; 'I am glad ... perfectly' in right, 'The letter ... Lefevre' in the left margin of p. 3, all at right angles to the main text.

15.  Blanchiseuse
Fr., laundress.

16.  Lady Blanche
Lady Henrietta Blanche Hozier (1852-1925), née Ogilvy, wife of Sir Henry Hozier [more].

17.  Madame Lefevre
Mme Lefèvre, Dieppe landlady [more].

18.  Sophie of Soho
Rose and Gold: The Little Lady Sophie of Soho (YMSM 504).

19.  Mr. Marchant
William Stephen Marchant (1868-1925), art dealer [more].

20.  Davenport
Dr Isaac Burnet Davenport (fl. 1890-1900), dentist in Paris [more].

21.  telegram
These notes were written in another hand, and appear to relate to expenses including those incurred in running errands for JW. They have all been crossed out.

22.  Fitzroy
JW's studio was in Fitzroy Square.

23.  Heinemann
William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more].

24.  Maude
Philippa Maude Philip (1865-1915), JW's sister-in-law [more].