The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Hugo, Victor Marie
Record 2 of 11

System Number: 05625
Date: 6 August [1869][1]
Author: Algernon Charles Swinburne [2]
Place: Vichy, France
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler S271
Document Type: ALS


Hotel [sic] de France

Aug. 6th

Cher père

A thousand thanks to you in especial & to Burton[4] for all your kindness, & the way in which you have got me out of the row[5] without loss of dignity. I send the two notes[6] due, as you request, to be forwarded - I hope you will find them all right & satisfactory. More of course I could not say, & would not less. I trust you to convey my sincere thanks to Burton for all his most friendly conduct throughout. I sent word to you of my address as soon as ever I had one. Till our arrival here I had none to send; so do not lay it to negligence. It is pleasant enough here with an intimate friend, but without that - mon Dieu! ce serait [p. 2] assommant[7]. I am very well today & I think it is doing me good - but yesterday I was rather knocked up after a hard walk & scramble in a blazing furnace of sun the day before at Thiers[8] - which is the most quaint & lovely old town conceivable, perched like a bird & clinging as with claws among the gorges of the mountains. It is 34 kil[ometre]s. off, & between the two drives we did a lot of walking; even (Captain) Burton[9] who was born of iron avowed himself tired & sleepy at the end of the day. The Allier[10] banks about here have very pretty bits - but the heats are excessive. As I [p. 3] am pressed for time & have no news to send in gratitude for news received, for here the days are all alike eventless for the most part, I will only add love to friends, & remain

Ton fils dévoué[11]

A C Swinburne

Cher père -

As I did not send this by the early post I add a line or two after dinner, now that one is cool & disengaged. I shewed the two notes enclosed to (my present) Burton, whom I made my confidant from the beginning of the affair - & he says they are just right, saying quite enough & not too much - so I hope & expect they will be accepted as such. You know perhaps that after leaving here & repassing through Paris where I must have a few days, I proceed by invitation to call on Victor Hugo[12] - after which I expect to [p. 4] arrive chez mon père[13] six inches taller at least. I have written a poem[14] of some length since I came here, which is thought to be 'in my best manner'. I think the air as well as the waters (in spite of the heat) agrees with me. We shall be here probably another fortnight. Write or send a single word when you get this that I may know it is all right - & trust in the present gratitude & future discretion

De ton fils respectueux [15]

A C S.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  6 August [1869]
Dated by Lang, Cecil Y., The Swinburne Letters, 6 vols, New Haven, 1959, vol. 2, letter 302A.

2.  Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), poet and critic [more].

This printed address appears across the width of the whole sheet of paper, in the centre, in light green (the notepaper is also green).

4.  Burton
Probably Sir Frederick William Burton (1816-1900), painter and museum director [more].

5.  row
The row concerned the London Arts Club, of which Swinburne was a member. Shortly before his departure for France, he was threatened with expulsion by the Arts Club Committee for drunkenness. JW agreed to act as Swinburne's defence. He appeared before the Committee on 20 July and seems to have persuaded them to reconsider the case.

6.  two notes
Not located. However, it is likely that the notes related to JW's defence of Swinburne before the Arts Club Committee.

7.  ce serait assommant
Fr., it would be deadly.

8.  Thiers
A town near Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dôme.

9.  (Captain) Burton

10.  Allier
River in central France, which rises on the flanks of the Moure de la Gardille (1500m) in the Massif Central and ends by flowing into the Loire River near Nevers.

11.  Ton fils dévoué
Fr., Your devoted son.

12.  Victor Hugo
Victor Marie Hugo (1802-1885), poet, novelist and dramatist [more].

13.  poem
According to Lang, probably Super Flumina Babylonis, first published in the Fortnightly Review in October 1869.

14.  chez mon père
Fr., at my father's house, i.e. Whistler's.

15.  De ton fils respectueux
Fr., From your respectful son.