The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 01530
Date: 1 August 1902
Author: Charles Lang Freer[1]
Place: Antwerp
Recipient: JW
Place: [The Hague]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler F462
Document Type: ALS[2]


ANVERS, LE August 1 1902

Dear Mr Whistler:-

When you start for America next fall, as I hope you will, beware of the steamship agents and porters at The Hague.

With childish confidence I trusted them, followed their directions, and of course, "got left" - on the dock at Rotterdam, looking seaward with the good ship "Ryndam"[3] in the middle distance spurting for America. At The Hague the stupid fools had told me that the steamer would not sail until 10.30 and that I should not start from there until 8.00 -

However, she did and always does [p. 2] sail promptly at 9.30 and I should have started one hour earlier -

Served me right! Why depend upon the brains of such people? - it is bad enough to make use of their hands and feet!

Well, it was rather shocking to be so near and yet so far - I did not need even Miss Birnie-Philip's[4] good eyes to see a pretty ship and lots of fine looking people on board -

The Manager of the line extended all sorts of sympathy, voluntarily refunded my money and said wicked words to his agent at The Hauge [sic] over the wire -

Rotterdam was too gloomy and dirty for even an hours stay, so I paddled through the mud to a pleasant river steamer and sailed to Dordrecht [p. 3] instead of America - At Dordrecht I found a good luncheon, pretty river views, a fine old church, and one of the best looking old one-storey houses I have ever seen! It proved to be a sufficiently quiet spot, in which to exercise a little gray matter and to cool my temper, so, in due time, I continued my journey and enjoyed a good dinner and an excellent nights rest in this hotel -

It is now nearly noon and I have secured a most comfortable room on the Red Line S. S. "Vaderland"[5] sailing from this port tomorrow (Saturday) at noon - I have already been on board of her and am delighted with her appearance. She is due to arrive in New York on Sunday night or early Monday morning the 11th inst. The trip will be long and slow but my only objection to that will be my anxiety about my brother[6].

But enough of [p. 4] all this - How are you? Gaining health and strength, I hope: and all goes well with the ladies I trust.

To you all the best of all high things and much affection from
Your friend,

Charles L Freer

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1.  Charles Lang Freer
Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more].

2.  ALS
Published in Merrill, Linda, With Kindest Regards. The Correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler, 1890-1903, Washington and London, 1995, no. 69, pp. 168-69.

3.  'Ryndam'
The steamer Ryndam was built by Harland &Wolff, Belfast for the Holland America Line. She weighed 12,340 tons and could attain a speed of 15 knots. Her maiden voyage from Rotterdam to New York commenced on 10 October 1901.

4.  Miss Birnie-Philip's
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more].

5.  'Vaderland'
The Vaderland was built by John Brown & Co., Glasgow, for the Red Star Line, and launched on 12 July 1900. She weighed 11,899 tons and could accommodate 342 first class, 194 second class, and 626 third class passengers.

6.  brother
George Townsend Freer (1851-1903) was seriously ill. Freer had planned to depart for Capri on 31 July but was forced to return to America on hearing the news. He had already spent several weeks with JW and Miss Birnie Philip in The Hague after JW became critically ill.