System Number: 00742
Date: 22 February 
Place: Ajaccio, Corsica
Recipient: John James Cowan
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C243
Document Type: ALS
As it did not occur to you to send me the scoffings of the "Scotsman", I am afraid, my dear Cowan, that I shall never probe the degraded depths of their Artman's innocent ignorance!
It is always very simple however to see "where" those people "are at" by glancing at their admiration in the rest of the stuff, and seeing what they really do like! a proceeding [p. 2] that is generally satisfactory!
So thats all right! - I am sorry though that you are thinking of selling more of your pictures - But why not try some of your other Masters this time, and let mine rest a bit? -
If however, you still think of picking from among mine, of course there is wit in what Thomson proposes; and probably the most practical wisdom in
accepting his entertaining his offer for the Ice picture - You ought to get a thousand certainly for it - and doubtless the man who has got the Piano would give it - Or rather will give more by the time it has gone through Thomson's hands!
This I think frankly is the only sensible proceeding, if any of my things are to go - for
the smaller works, gems of any kind, should not be sold in a hurry - or the dealer makes a point of "size" in his ordinary market. The Ice picture then is the proper one for the moment - The time for the others may be put off for a while -
You will have had my letter which crossed yours - Isn't it curious that we should [be] thinking of each other at the same moment -
I hope you will send me list and little description of the panels & drawings as I asked [p. 3] you, and that I may choose from them for the Exhibition if I manage it! -
I am delighted to know of your Sons good news, and certainly think you have every right to have him back again now!
I hope soon to hear of your happiness in his return -
And with kindest regards
22. Feb -
If you had any thing to wire, Ajaccio is sufficient
1. 22 February 
Dated from the address, and the date written in another hand at the top of p. 1.
The paper has a mourning border.
7. Ice picture
The Thames in Ice (YMSM 36), for which Thomson offered £1500 (see J. J. Cowan to JW, #00743, a reply to this letter). It was eventually bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more].
12. sons good news
Cowan's son was a soldier on active service in South Africa during the Boer War (1899-1902). The dispute was between Britain and the two Boer (Afrikaner) republics, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The event was ignited by the South African President Paul Kruger's denial of political rights to non-nationals. The British pursuit of gold-mining interests in the Transvaal was also a factor.
This postscript is written in the left margin of p. 1, at right angles to the main text.