The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02199
Date: 15 June 1855
Author: Frank Larned Hunt[1]
Place: Washington
Recipient: JW
Place: [Baltimore]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H295
Document Type: ALS


Friday June 15/55

Wretched boy!

have you at last awakened to the reality of your frightful position? cast off the shackles of indolence - not occupation that bound you - (that "cock wont fight[2]") & making a clean breast of it - thrown yourself and four scraps of paper at my indignant feet, to be pardoned - thou most lazy & delightful of Jamies - I faith you have, & not a whit too Early[3] - yesterday while pensively analysing one of the realities of life (a beefsteak) yes only yesterday - I raised my head & smiling as tho in scorn at myself (for I was indignant) - murmured "how odd I dont hear from Jamie Whistler - what can he be about" Madme la Colonel[4] quereying [sic] - 'You have written have you not' I turned my eyes upon her - those sad eyes - & said - (swallowing the steak -) "written - yes - I have written thrice" - there must have been something either in my face or tone that moved her - for without saying a word she - (most amiable of women - & such a carver) - held up her fork - & signalled 'Ham' - I took one slice.

[p. 2] Cruel boy to open afresh my wound - you speak of Carlos[5] - he alas is no more (that is here) he has fled - 'did ye not hear the rattling car[6]' - yes let me force back these rising tears[,] Carlos is in St Louis - but do not think his impetuous spirit stops there - far from it - how far (not knowing) I will not say - but certainly this side of the Rocky M'tains he is in fact 'rod carrier' (I think it is called) to a surveying party - or a road making party sent out by the Gov[ernmen]t - '$2. a day & found' - so reads the bond. thus do you see - "at one fell blow" - deprived at once of Carlos - my tutor - sage & friend.

"No more[7] I'll see his dark moustache flash back the morning ray
Nor meet those eyes of wondrous light - they too have gone away
His heavy tread - his form so straight - his air so brusque & stiff
Like curling smoke - he's fled amain - I'm left without a whiff" -

- the young "brusher[8]" however remains to console me - or bore me - as you please - this dear creature bought himself - some days since - a pair of patent leather slippers & three gold studs for his shirt - need I say - his powerful mind has readily grasped and retained these unique & peculiar ornaments

[p. 3] 'And from his bosom to his feet[9]
His glances rove 'Oh Lord - how neat'. -

it releives [sic] me greatly - these studs & slippers they place me under an obligation - I am not ungrateful & soothe young 'Macedon[10]' by occasionally - (like Mr Swivellar[11]) - allowing my eye to wander down one leg & up the other not enquiringly defiant - like Richard - but as tho pleased & happy to see young Hero's taste, this Apollo - on his shiny pedastal [sic] - with three "Galt Bros[12]" dividing fair his manly chest - is indeed a sight to look upon - and beware of - they have held sundry family counsels about him and a cousin[13] dropping in here (who was once a member of Congress) it was decided - at some period of time - warmed by this summers sun - to send him - or rather take him on to 'Providence' RI - if they succeed I'll straightway wheel round and beleive [sic] in a merciful Providence - he disturbs my reading - starting up in bed at all hours of the night - with cries for help & snorting - which sometimes makes me lose my place & annoys me[14].

[p. 4] As for your 'Micawber[15]' dear anxious Jamie - I know naught of him - I think if he had died the Papers would have made an exposè of it - as they certainly have not of any $1500 - a year - or its fraction I fear me - that nothing has turned up, unless something does - soon, I am afraid 'Micawber' will be 'Micawber' no more[16] - 'helas [17] [sic]- for 'Heeps' detector[18] - he did do something at last, Jamie dear - Jamie - I would not like to crush out the tender illusion - I fain would share it with you - but I come back to my invariably right - first look - the ancient 'Zouave[19]' Jamie - is a humbug, he at least is not a 'nice hero' in misfortune - he - dear boy - 'is a dirty hero - gone to seed' a dirty shirt is not a touching thing - you avoid it - his protecting 'Dodge' seems only to me 'an artful dodge[20]' surely he shd think so - but I will not distress you - he speaks French - there is a bond between you - Keep your past washed - - ? do you think of wearing a shawl next winter?

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1.  Frank Hunt
Frank Larned Hunt (1825-1903), a friend of JW in Washington, DC [more]. Hunt knew JW when he worked at the U.S. Coast Survey in Washington, DC.

2.  cock wont fight
Sporting allusion: a cock which refuses to fight its opponent in the ring.

3.  early
Written over 'late'.

4.  Mme la Colonel

5.  Carlos
Charles (possibly nicknamed 'Carlos'), an early friend of JW.

6.  did ye not hear the rattling car
Quotation: 'Did ye not hear it? - No; 'twas but the wind, / Or the car rattling o'er the stony street;' Byron, Childe Harold, xxii.

7.  No-more...whiff
Unidentified quotation.

8.  brusher
Possibly a reference to a valet.

9.  And from his bosom...neat
Unidentified quotation.

10.  Macedon
This is one of several nicknames, not identified.

11.  Swivellar
Richard (Dick) Swiveller, a disreputable and facetious character from Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop (published in weekly parts, April 1840 – February 1841).

12.  Galt Bros

13.  cousin

14.  & annoys me
Written above deleted words: '[illegible] letter'.

15.  Micawber
Mr Micawber from Charles Dickens' David Copperfield (published in monthly parts, May 1849 – November 1850).

16.  'Micawber no more'
A pun on 'Lochaber no more.'

17.  helas
Fr., alas.

18.  'Heeps' detector
It was Micawber who exposed Uriah Heep's plots.

19.  Zouave
A soldier noted for the exotic extravagence of uniform, currently popular in America, though based on African corps. The nickname was applied to Hetzell, an acquaintance of JW, in #02198.

20.  artful dodge
A reference to Jack Dawkins, the 'Artful dodger' in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist (published in monthly parts, January 1837 – March 1839).