The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Whistler, Helen
Record 22 of 149

System Number: 06700
Date: [17 October 1881][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Jersey]
Recipient: Helen Euphrosyne Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W694
Document Type: ALS[3]


I suppose you have all given me up - and well you may - for I have almost given myself up - and a poor time I have had of it - Nothing but sheer obstinacy my dear Nellie, makes me stay away from the only place that is meant to live in - The fact is I am more than ever convinced that all fables about warm climates and gulf streams are of the meanest invention - and I am continually their victim! -

I only got here[5] on Saturday morning - after a trip - if you can call it [a] trip - of the wildest - thirteen and [p. 2] a half hours of pitch and toss until it was a mere chance how I turned up - heads or tails! - At Guernsey then I chucked up the game and went ashore - There I stayed and struggled with wind and weather - and paintboxes with that perseverance that is the peculiarity of this family, as you will know - But what will you - quite hopeless - After being whisked about on the tops of very grand rocks and nearly blown into the sea canvas and all and dragging myself each evening back to the inn a dishevelled wreck of fright and disappointment I ceased a career only fit for an accrobat [sic] and came over to Jersey remembering that you had said it was comparatively flatter! - Well it's flat - or a bit of it is - and besides I run no more risks on pinacles [sic] - but the weathercocks in the place have played me another trick and gone round, the lot of them, to the East - North East by East! - and awful it is - cold as Venice in winter - and everything hard as nails - What shall I do! - not a single picture have I managed yet - though I have tried ever so hard - but that you know is no comfort for - have I not written it! - 'mere industry is the virtue of the duffer'! - and poor as I am - well you know - how is my journey to be payed [sic] for! - It is true that I have partly discovered a little game in watercolors[6] that may possibly be worked into one pound or so - but alas - what is that - [p. 3] However I shall still try - for a few days longer and then I must try the "Ella" for my home passage - The 'Fannie' thank you I am utterly indifferent to -

Meanwhile if you write at once you may tell me whether Madame Dominique[7] of Guernsey is to send you the parrot - I understood her to say that after all you may have it for 3 French Louis - that is 60 francs - tho' she had meant 3 Guernsey Louis - that is 72 francs - I really couldn't take charge of the cage myself Nellie - I dont really think I could do it - as I have had the folly to bring with me lots of boxes and traps enough to produce a Gallery of chef d'oeuvres! - As to Mme Coronio's[8] pot & pans - impossible[9]! - I mean I can't bring them - tho' I would give any message to the man in St Heliers if you send it with the address - I am staying at the Hotel de l'Europe - which I must say is certainly most capital - but you had better write to me Poste Restante - for who knows! -

Love to both - always affectly.

[butterfly signature]

'No 18[10]'

Tell me all the news -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [17 October 1881]
Dated from day of week and JW's letter to M. Elden, #12818. According to this, JW left London on 10 October but his departure by boat for the Channel Islands may have been delayed by the bad weather.

2.  Helen Euphrosyne Whistler
Helen ('Nellie') Euphrosyne Whistler (1849-1917), née Ellen Ionides, JW's sister-in-law [more].

3.  ALS
Published in Thorp, Nigel (Editor), Whistler on Art: Selected Letters and Writings 1849-1903 of James McNeill Whistler, Manchester, 1994, and Washington, 1995, pp. 71-72, no. 26.

4.  Monday
Double underlined.

5.  here
JW had just arrived in the Channel Islands where he painted several oils including Blue Wave: Near the Casquet Rocks (YMSM 231) and Bleu et argent: La Mer, Jersey (YMSM 232a). See also Way, Thomas Robert, Memories of James McNeill Whistler, the Artist, London and New York, 1912, p. 59 and JW to M. Elden, #12818.

6.  watercolors
JW exhibited two watercolours, Blue and Brown - San Brelade's Bay (M.856) and Note in Blue and Opal: Jersey (M.857) from his trip at the 6th Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1882 (cat. nos. 341, 342).

7.  Madame Dominique
Mme Dominique, a Guernsey landlady.

8.  Mme Coronio
Aglaia Coronio (1834-1906), née Ionides, wife of George Coronio [more].

9.  impossible
Double underlined.

10.  'No 18'
Written in another hand.