The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Winans, Ross, Sr
Record 24 of 24

System Number: 07434
Date: [1899/1900][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: George H. Ellis[2]
Place: [Boston, MA]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler X8
Document Type: ALd


[Chatham coat of arms with motto:] BENIGNO NUMINE


Sir -

The time has gone by when one shall be born, without being consulted! - Wherefore it is not sufficient that the parish clerk produce certificate, and the sacristan furnish proof - ones native town remains beyond - in the land of one's choice - delight - in the state of one's choice[3] preference - of one's conviction with surroundings - that becomes one - and neither Vicar nor Accoucheur[4] have aught to do with it! -

It is all too complacent & naif in the Scribes of of Lowell to build up (errect) a monument of belief, for the municipality of that most excellent city, in the production of distinguished Poets - Painters - Sculptors - and or Facts and adduced circumstances, will hold only with the Victory! -

Truth - is is rare, &sensitive if far more delicate structure - & in truth Artists are not born in noble Lowell[5]!

Lowell of the loom - Lowell the discove sturdy

[p. 2] And yet this is not the first time I have heard it whispered gossiped that from below some riotous chimney, also, in Massachusetts I first saw the light in Massachusetts!! - -

and now in the "Book of Lowell" I see it written - and graven upon the next page I find the collected Colonels of the country - and among them Butler - the Beast! -[6]

No, - I was not born in Lowell - and Massachusetts knows me not -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [1899/1900]
Dated by publication (see below).

2.  G. H. Ellis
George H. Ellis (b. 1848), printer and publisher; The Lowell Book, was published in Boston in 1899.

3.  of one's choice
These words were deleted and then underlined with a dotted line.

4.  Vicar nor Accoucheur
Rev. Theodore Edison, vicar of St Anne's Church, Lowell, MA; he was the vicar who recorded JW's baptism in 1834 (Edson, Theodore, The Parish Register of St. Anne's Church, Lowell, Mass., Lowell, Mass., 1885, entry no. 313, p. 11).

5.  Artists are not born in noble Lowell
JW was born in Lowell in 1834! In another draft he asserts he was born in Baltimore (#06829).

6.  Butler - the Beast! -
Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818-1893), soldier and politician [more]. He was actually born in Deerfield, NH, but Lowell was where he studied law. It was probably known to JW and his family that Butler was among those who wanted to hang Ross Winans (1796-1877), locomotive manufacturer, father of JW's sister-in-law [more], for his activities in Baltimore, MD, during the civil war. Butler became a Brigadier General in the State Militia and in 1862 commanded the Union force that governed New Orleans. He was demonised by the South because, when he was in command of New Orleans, he ordered that any woman that accosted a soldier in the street was to be regarded as a prostitute. He also executed someone who tore down a US flag on the Mint in New Orleans.