The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02192
Date: [20 September/October 1895][1]
Author: John Mead Howells[2]
Place: London
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[3]
Place: [Lyme Regis]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H288
Document Type: ALS



Friday        189   

Dear Mrs Whistler:

Do you know you closely escaped a barberous invasion not long since - for Mildred[5] & I had set our faces towards Clovelly - with the sneaking but firm intention of "jumping" the train at a certain point & going straight to Lyme Regis[6] - but our bad consciences went back on us - the picture of you hopelessly cornered in so out of the way a spot softened our hearts - and we decided to descend upon [p. 2] you only in the rue du Bac - but give thanks - for it was very close - We have instead been around & around - to Warwick to Oxford - to tourist places if you like, but which delighted us just the same - And your London charming and treating us delightfully. But this is what Mildred openly bewails & what I darkly suspect too - that you will never get back to Paris - or at least you [shan't] till long after she sails - Now please dont do that - but really come back soon.

H. Cushing[7] is to arrive on Oct 25th - & I am to lay in a cook & a vast supply of eggs (horresco referens[8]!) against that times -

[p. 3] The silver shops you tell of are all delightful but we have no money - a normal condition which does not trouble us -

We leave for Paris day after tomorrow - I hope - you will soon follow - are Mr & Mrs Whibley[9] (is that right?) with you or in Paris? -

With love from Mildred and respects (which however in this case really means the same thing) I am
Yours [sincerely?]

John Mead Howells

[p. 4] Tell Mr Whistler that Warwick[10] is full of puns on the word "baculus[11]" wh. I now know means a Club -

baculus [arrow pointing to a sketch of a bear with a club]
The Leicester Crest[12]
"bear & baculus"

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1.  [20 September/October 1895]
The Whistlers went to Lyme Regis in mid- September and JW stayed on after Beatrix had left in October (see below).

2.  John Mead Howells
John Mead Howells (1868-1959), architect [more].

3.  Beatrix Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

4.  HOTEL WINDSOR, ... S. W.

5.  Mildred
Mildred Howells (1873-1966), painter and poet [more].

6.  Lyme Regis
Seaside town in Dorset where the Whistlers were staying for the sake of Beatrix's worsening illness.

7.  H. Cushing
Howard Gardiner Cushing (1869-1916), painter [more].

8.  horresco referens
Lat., I tremble as I tell the story.

9.  Mr & Mrs Whibley
Charles Whibley (1859-1930), writer and journalist [more]; and Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), née Philip, JW's sister-in-law [more].

10.  Warwick
Francis Richard Charles Guy Greville, (b. 1853, succeeded 1893) was the 5th Earl of Warwick; his seat was Warwick Castle. The arms of the Earl of Warwick include a crest, a bear sejant, supporting a ragged staff argent, and muzzled gules, which being interpreted is, a bear with a knobbly silver staff, stick or club (see Debrett's Peerage, baronetage and Knightage, London, 1907).

11.  baculus
This is a reference to JW's dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more]. Frederick Morton Eden (1829-1917), Barrister [more], had written supporting William Eden: 'For vulgarity, insolence, and cowardice combined, the composition would be hard to beat, and the most appropriate answer to it would be the argumentum baculinum', that is a beating with sticks (letter to the Pall Mall Gazette, [8 March 1895], #13197). Thenceforth JW referred to F. M. Eden as 'Baculinum Fred', and made several drawings of a club (see Whistler, James McNeill, Eden v. Whistler, [n.p.], 1897, Club on a cushion (M.1563) and A club on a cushion (M.1564)).

12.  Leicester Crest
The Leicester arms, believe it or not, included three eagles and an 'ostrich argent holding in its mouth a horse shoe', but definitely no bears. Eden's own coat of arms included garbs, shells, wild horses and an armed hand grasping a garb.