The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Edward VII
Record 4 of 7

System Number: 08537
Date: 27 January [1901][1]
Author: JW
Place: Ajaccio
Recipient: William Heinemann[2]
Place: [London?]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC
Document Type: ALS

Hotel Schweizerhof - Ajaccio -
Corse -

Sunday Jan. 27. '[1901]'

At once I telegraphed to Biarritz my dear Heinemann - but they sent back word that you had already left! You had said, in your wire, that you were off this very Sunday to your bereft Country! You will find it though in full feast & high feather with "the King[3]!" - You must send me some account of all this. They have kept me so long away looking for that sun and warm southern weather - that I am tired with the wandering -

There has been no place fit to say in - and until we came here, there was no address that would have held out long enough for the post to carry it! One thing is now clearer to me than ever! - You none of you know what [p. 2] a warm climate means! and I should never have listened to any of you! I should have been warned by past experience - Italian & others - and known that there is nothing Southern but the South!. and made a straight line for the West Indies!! - Voilà! - Instead of which I have been drifting about from hot glare into icy shade! Tangiers! Algiers - Mediterranean! que sais je? catching colds that I never had in blank black London! - -

Gibraltar, by the way, is really ridiculous! -

The trip on the P. & O. steamer was capital - foolish food and fine sea air! and every one most devoted! - Here I may tell you - with abrupt relevance, that the table in this Hotel Schweizer[hof] is really good! Now & then one comes upon a combination that a German stomach alone could look upon lightly! - Also much of the tone is hoch! - & the talk of the Teuton is loud, I notice, and deaf! almost English! - Tonight we have had much foregathering - und "toasten" und Wilhelms! und Kaisers! und hoch! hoch! hoch! Colossal!. But the fish was simply perfect! - So one of these days you shall bring Madame Magda[4] here, if she will, for of course, by this, the hotel is mine! and the landlord belongs to me, and is ruining himself before my eyes! for there are, and only have been, 10 guests & from that on down to 7 - and the menu increases in recklessness, and flowers bestrew the napkins, à mon intention! & I know that he explains to the Herr Oberst und die Frau Generalin: "Ja Maler vielleicht[5] - hat es aber nicht nötich !!" .... But what is the use!

Here it was 17° ... in the shade - and large white roses all over the place to say nothing of oranges hanging in the open - & if you had been here I suppose you would have sat in your shirt - for Rome[6] in your flan[n]els never was like it - and now today it is roaring & simply pouring and the thermometer has shrivelled down to 8!! - O! weh! or rather Pfoui![7] I wish I were back - but I dare not yet - - And not a stroke of work have I been able to do, without immediately being seized by the mistral or caught in a current as I told you! -

Of course I know that I ought to sit down in the sun only - And I am doing that too - but for me you can fancy how difficult! -

Did you ever tell the Financier[8] how shocked I was at his [p. 3] desertion just before I went? - And how are things? and has everything boomed up under the King Edward VII! Excellent! I never see the papers nowadays - though I vaguely gather that Kitchener[9] is having a poor time of it, and Lord Roberts[10] is a bit at a discount in Piccadilly! -

Of course, having nothing to do, I fancy I must be on the verge of ruin! as is my custom! - and dare not dream of Drummonds[11]! - If the Financier had turned up at that dinner I could have given him an odd two or three hundred - or more! & wonderful investments could have been made - but now! - - What of the night? I mean Watchman: what of the Monotype!?[12] - And I was also thinking of taking a Villa here!! in the midst of things - they are not ugly at all - indeed the whole place is of a charming architecture - but I am poor! Of course I really think I shall give up the Hinde Street - Don't you want it? - though why should you - By the way of course there is Nicholson's[13] rent! hurrah! - You might send the cheque for me to Drummond - I forgot all about this - and have just had to pay the man downstairs a quarter - £82.10! - He dunned me all the way out here through Webb[14]! - He says also that the doorplate outside is shocking! Do you believe it? - In any case it would be very nice of you if you would send one of the charwomen you employ just to clean it and the staircase once - and "put it down to me"! - I have written to Webb to negotiate sale of lease - Could not Webb send down and have the stock handed over to him & the keys? so that you need have no more bother with it all - I hate rather giving it up - In theory it was perfect - but I never had time to attend to it - That letter you were writing from Biarritz has never turned up yet! and now it is Monday night. This goes tomorrow morning - via Nice - It is an awful way off for letters: Probably that is one reason why this sweet little place is not overrun by bounders of all lands.

This[15] must be a delightful letter to read! I ought to have several from you & lots of news in return!

Another thing - May[16]! - You have made him settle that all up - after the letter we wrote him together in Norfolk Street - Well then you might send that in to Drummond too! -

Ma foi! I can think of nothing else! It is devilish like a panic isn't it! But then you see this is the first time I am not allowed to gather gold by the hundreds "as I sail! as I sail!"

You all of you wanted me to rest! You were just mad about it! - Eh bien[17], c'a y est!

My nicest messages to Madame Magda -

This must go most suddenly at once -

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  27 January [1901]
Dated by the address; '[1901]' is written at the top of p. 1 in another hand.

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

3.  the King
Edward VII (1841-1910), King of Great Britain from 1901-1910 [more]; he was not crowned until 9 August 1902.

4.  Madame Magda
Magda Stuart Heinemann (m. 1899), née Sindici, pseudonym 'Kassandra Vivaria', writer [more].

5.  Ja Maler vielleicht
Ger., Yes perhaps a painter - but he doesn't need to be!

6.  Rome
Heinemann's marriage had taken place in Rome.

7.  O! weh! or rather Pfoui!
Ger., 'Weh', woe; 'Pfui', fie or shame.

8.  Financier
Heinemann's brother,Edmund Heinemann (b. ca 1866), stockbroker [more].

9.  Kitchener
Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916), Chief of Staff in South Africa from 1900-1902 [more].

10.  Lord Roberts
Frederick Sleigh Roberts (1832-1914), British army commander [more]; JW supported the Boers against the British during the Boer War.

11.  Drummonds
JW's bankers.

12.  Monotype!?
This may have been a very cryptic reference to some financial speculation. Heinemann (and JW) may have been interested in the new development in typography, used by the Times in 1900, the monotype. It was a machine to do the work of a compositor mechanically, but allowing corrections to be made as with hand-set type. It was an improvement on linotype machines.

13.  Nicholson's
Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson (1872-1949), painter, poster designer [more]; see #06264.

14.  Webb
George and William Webb, lawyers.

15.  This
'This must ... c'a y est' is written in the left and top margin of p. 1; 'My nicest ... signature' is written in the left margin of p. 2, all at right angles to the main text.

16.  May

17.  Eh bien
Fr., Well, there we are.