The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Edward VII
Record 5 of 7

System Number: 04788
Date: [30 January 1901[1]]
Author: JW
Place: Ajaccio
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P428
Document Type: ALS

It is a long way for letters Major! and as I dont quite make out what your plan was, I send this on to Tite Street -

I do hope you Ma'ame[3], and your military daughter are benefiting, or have completely benefited by your trip to the sea - For my part I feel that I am still not out of it! - & my dear Major - this experiment, if it has not actually failed, has, I am afraid, not, as yet, achieved its own brilliant success! - Of course you will say that this was not my tone the other day when I wrote - Well, you see, in Marseilles I was so pleased with [p. 2] the thoroughness of my excellent little doctor that I suppose I became at once most impudent and, in my haste to make up for lost time, played reckless tricks with the health I was so cocky about - and simply caught more cold - or new cold! as any idiot would do, who chose to stand gawking at wonderful "shops" - in damp slums until after sun set! - You know - I couldn't help it - and the result - neither work nor perfect cure -

As Ronnie[4] says, I have given myself no chance! - However I have at last buckled down to the business - and resolutely am now doing nothing - but idling in the sun! - And such a sun! Major this is a wonderful place - As I sit in the hotel garden, with oranges and large white roses on the trees all about, I make up my mind that we ought to have a villa - and they are not ugly - and just stay here! Fancy Ma'ame, 16. degrees in the shade in the midst of January! and that Centigrade - what poor old Farenheit [sic] would be I cannot calculate!
probably burnt up! -

It is, this place - so egregiously sheltered, that the east wind is the right thing for the shorn lamb! - and only the south west for a moment, calls his attention! - And then it is blue! - but of a blueness all the morning, sky & sea & mountain - too blue Major - you know, for me! - and I sit here on a bench and stew - which is literally a fact, as if it were in July - and fret, which is also a fact, to think of all the work undone, and the comparative stagnation in which I seem to be floundering! (and I fancy what the others are about!!!) and [then?] - - - Well there you are! "voila vous êtes." and that is what it has been all along - For immediately I have rushed off to do desperate work in some fiendish draught - and come home to bark in the night and begin all over again! — It is most discouraging - entirely my own folly, I know - but in this way, I have never rid myself of the cough I came out with - and indeed it seems to me that I cough more or have coughed more, in all this southern stuff, and much travelling & the rest of it, than I did in the fog of London! - Still as Ronnie says if I sat tight for four days I should probably be freed from the whole thing - and then the advantage I have otherwise gained, would assert itself in full strength - For I know that the doctor, in no way was at all troubled about me - Well - there! all this is more than enough about myself! - I suppose I must just hang on here and shut my eyes - for there are beautiful things in uncanny corners! - until everything like the offensive cough has entirely flown - and then back we go - I may just say one thing here, since so much has been said, and that is that the cough [p. 3] has never given pain - and has been all along free from the dreaded colour[5]! Voila

Now - I was much pleased with your last little letter Major, and as you will see from the Ratier[6] enclosed, he clearly does not think at all ill of our case with the old carpet cat!

I have written a long letter to Euphrasie[7], sending her on to Ratier - She is to see him personally[.] I told her that if she can show him, by her frankness & courage (of which I said I have, myself, a high opinion!) that her story is as good as the Salerons[8], every thing will be easy - She is to give him my letter which will show him what I am after - and she is to be most cautious in all her ways

Not to allow any one in under any circumstances (because of writs..) and never to leave place unlocked etc.. No talking of course - You must write her and let her tell what goes on - Of course she will answer my letter - still you may get more - I shall write to Ratier - I suppose first we will weary the life out of the "irrascible voisin[9]" by putting off & putting off the action as we did with the Baronet[10] - if possible - and the rest I fancy now will come right - don't you? - You were quite right about the Farquhar[11] letter Major! - and so there are two of my black troubles comparatively lightened - Poor Mrs. Peck[12] the Mother - !! - - Well I must write - Now - there are many other things Major - I think I shall continue tomorrow - for this the man is really waiting for - and not a word of the stupendous agitations and "throes of history" in which you are all living at this moment! - We have read the black tidings this day! - and you shall tell us and send us details of the mourning of the Nation - and of its joy - for

La Reine[13] est morte - Vive le Roi[14]!! - -

Ronnie is exercised in his mind as to whether it is to be Albert the 1st or Edward the 7th

Now Major write often - remember we are poor exiles

If in town[15], go and see the Doctor Johnston[16] - that he may know how you improve - Tell him that I need never have gone away from him - Except perhaps for the appetite! which Ronnie, who is now you see an authority says is amazing!

The man!
for letter!

Always affectly

the General

Write to Hotel address of envelope

This document is protected by copyright.



'30 Jan. 01'

Miss Rosalind Birnie-Philip
Dhu House.
36. Tite Street. Chelsea
London -
[postmark:] NICE / ALPES MARITIMES / [8?] 25 M / 30 JANV / 01


1.  30 January 1901
Dated from postmark. The date was also written on the envelope by the recipient.

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

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

4.  Ronnie
Ronald Murray Philip (1871-1940), civil engineer, JW's brother-in-law [more]. He was JW's companion on the trip to the Mediteranean.

5.  colour
He means that there is no sign of blood, which might mean tuberculosis.

6.  Ratier
Antoine ('Antony') Ratier (b. 1851), lawyer and politician [more].

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

8.  Salerons
Mme Saleron, JW's neighbour at 110 rue du Bac [more]. She had been a nuisance, beating carpets outside.

9.  voisin
Fr., neighbour.

10.  Baronet
Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more]. JW had won his Appeal in the Eden v Whistler case, and was allowed to keep Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408).

11.  Farquhar
William Richman Farquhar (m. 1897), husband of Marion Farquhar [more].

12.  Mrs. Peck
Annah B. Peck (b. ca 1850), patron [more]. She had commissioned Portrait of Miss Marion Peck (YMSM 439).

13.  La Reine
Victoria (1819-1901), Queen of Great Britain [more]. The reports were of her death.

14.  le Roi
Edward VII (1841-1910), King of Great Britain from 1901-1910 [more].

15.  If in town
Continued in the margin of p. 1.

16.  Doctor Johnston
Dr William Boyter-Johnson (b. ca 1853), JW's doctor in London [more].