The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Watts, Walter Theodore
Record 7 of 113

System Number: 09564
Date: [January 1877/July 1878?][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Algernon Charles Swinburne[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: British Library
Call Number: Department of Manuscripts, Ashley 4601, f.15
Document Type: ALS

O meilleur des fils! - How very nice and kind of you to have come so immediately to the assistance of un père[3] deprived of [young gazelles?]! - The cheque[4] for 20. came all right and brought gladness and sorrow the sorrow partaking of a species of remorse for bothering you when you were not in full [p. 2] health[5] and consequently unable to protect yourself from the wily advances de ton père intriguant[6]! - intriguant - mais reconnaissant

J A McN Whistler

I shall pay you back as soon as I can

I hope you will be up and out again directly - and you must get down here - What do you say to breakfasting here on the 28th (Sunday) at 11.30.

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1.  [January 1877/July 1878?]
There was a Sunday 28th in January and October 1877, April and July 1878. The reference to Swinburne's health confirms these as possible dates (see below). The reference to money suggests that it may date from the same time as Swinburne's letter to JW, #05624.

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

3.  un père
That is, JW. JW and Swinburne seem to have often used 'Cher fils' ('dear son', meaning Swinburne) and 'Cher père' ('dear father', meaning JW) as a mode of address for each other in their correspondence; here, 'O meilleur des fils', i.e. 'Oh best of sons'. See also, for example, #05624 and #09443.

4.  cheque
Swinburne mentions his inability to give JW any money in #05624. JW was at this time in severe financial difficulty.

5.  health
Swinburne's health was extremely precarious between the summer of 1876 and June 1879, before he went to live permanently with Walter Theodore Watts (later Watts-Dunton) (1832-1914), solicitor, novelist and poet [more], in Putney, South London (see, for example, Swinburne's letters to JW, #05626 and #05627).

6.  de ton père intriguant
Fr., of your scheming father! - scheming - but grateful.