UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02200
Date: December 1882
Author: Frank Larned Hunt[1]
Place: Manitoba
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H296
Document Type: ALS


Poplar [Point?][2]
County West Marquette
Manitoba

Decem 82

Dear Jamie

I think it would puzzle the pen of a 'diplomat' to essay my task, recall myself to you. Through the long years that have passed - since we 'chummed' it so pleasantly in Washington City, I have had reminders of you, your fame and success, This spring in Ottowa I met 'Oscar Wylde'[3] and made myself known to him that I might hear particularly of you, and now I have a clever friend going across the water who wishes greatly to see you, a hearty stand up man by the way wealthy and prominent, with strong proclivities - book-ward, art-ward etc and who will not bore you - so by him [p. 2] - Alexander Mc[Art]hur[4] - will come to you this unexpected 'screed' from Manitoba - where I have lived for now nearly twenty five years.

I can see you as on the first evening I met you at my Kinsmans Col Frank Larneds[5] (Paymaster General.) You and Charlie[6] had just 'cut the point' in West Point - achieved buckram, pipeclay and 'deportment' militaire - were standing - as I too - very much at ease. We became friends at once and to me was confided the delicate task of building you an Easel - when you painted your 'belle cousine Annie Denny[7]', you chose the color in a melancholy place behind 'Gadsbys' - I can see us both coming out now - and awakened the admiration - not only of all - but even that veteran Artist Chas B King[8] by the charming grace and color of the portrait

[p. 3] It is given to me - livin[g s]o much in the quiet of a secluded Indian Country, to think back with strange fidelity, could you but see yourself as I see you, in the flush of youth and genius. Our fair City of Prague furnishes forth no such fair ideal Bohemian as you were then, with manners so entirely winning, and a wit so delightful in its exercise that I smile even as I write at thought. You were making mountains and marshes for the Topogs[9] - at times or picturing forth the intricacies of some Patent invention, I recall one interview with a sedate discoverer, and can hear you laugh as you rambled with him through a forest of cog wheel belts and shafting, enough to quench all sense of humor in any other mortal. I was as assured then as now of your future, You painted as the bird sings, were alive with the harmonies of form and color [p. 4] Your sleeping [dorm w?]as near us. I used to 'beat up your quarters' after breakfast - finding your curly head always buried in pillows waiting to put your [funny?] little coffee machine in a fury - when it hissed forth the cup drank with such laughter and chat in bed. There I met Tom Winans[10] one morning and from there he stole you away. Your letters and the rash little coffee trap that you gave me, were all burned in the mountains of a mining region, the letters were gems in their way.

I have been but holding up to you, a suggestion of that lazy - sauntering time, that comes but once,

Let me commend 'McArthur' to you - send me by him - something that will give me an idea of you now

Yours faithfully

Frank Larned Hunt

'Letter [from?] Mr H[unt?] Wash[ington?][11]'


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Notes:

1.  Frank Larned Hunt
Frank Larned Hunt (1825-1903), a friend of JW in Washington, DC [more]. They were close friends in Washington, DC in 1855. Larned's previous letter, complaining that JW had not written to him, was written on 15 June 1855 (#02199)! There is no record of any reply by JW.

2.  Poplar [Point?]
Poplar Point is west of Marquette, in Manitoba, Canada. The top of each page of this letter has suffered loss of words due to tears in all the sheets.

3.  'Oscar Wylde'
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more]. He made an exhaustive lecture tour of North America in 1882, and was in Ottowa around the 16 May, when he wrote to JW, although he makes no mention of Hunt (see Wilde to JW, [16 May 1882], #09546; and Holland, Merlin and Rupert Hart-Davis, eds, The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London, 2000, p. 171).

4.  Alexander Mc[Art]hur
Alexander McArthur (1842-1887), ornithologist, scholar and businessman [more].

5.  Col Frank Larneds
Charles Troubridge ('Frank') Larned (d. 1882), class-mate of JW at USMA, West Point, later Deputy Paymaster General [more].

6.  Charlie
Charles Troubridge ('Frank') Larned (d. 1882), class-mate of JW at USMA, West Point, later Deputy Paymaster General [more].

7.  Annie Denny
Anna ('Annie') Harding Denny (1834 or 1838-1913), a cousin of JW, later Mrs Corcoran [more], who posed to JW in 1855 for Portrait of Anna Denny (YMSM 4).

8.  Chas B King
Charles Bird King (1785-1862), portrait painter [more].

9.  Topogs
i.e. US Coast and Geodetic survey, Washington, DC.

10.  Tom Winans
Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more].

11.  Letter [from?] Mr H[unt?] Wash[ington?]
Written in another hand (possibly that of Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]?) at top of p. 4, partially obliterated.