UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 02391
Date: [c. 3 August 1881][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Jackson and Graham[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler J12
Document Type: ALd


Messrs Jackson & Graham -

Gentlemen -

I have been prevented by much occupation from further attending, with you, to the matter of present vexation and discussion in Tite Street -

A few words would doubtless put this all right - meanwhile the condition of things is worse than ridiculous - based probably upon some confusion that has arisen, in the minds of yourselves as Landlords, between "chambers", as they possibly exist in the purlieus of town, where the student of medicine struggles each day with the char woman who brings in his pot of beer, and these "Mansions" which, without great experience, as I gather, you have built for professional men; - who, attracted by the name of such a distinguished Architect as Mr Edis[3], are predisposed in favor of rooms which they [p. 2] expect to find have been designed with a view to the comfort and work of those who are accustomed to all the luxuries and refinements of modern life - In this they are not likely to be disappointed -

I myself acknowledge acknowledge that, with the exception of the total absence of any thing like a cupboard, closet, recess or shelf - any thing in short, that goes to make the rooms possible to live in without absolutely spreading one's life over the four flat walls - or of any place in which shall wait or be recieved [sic] the stranger one may not want either at one's table or in one's bed, - I say these slight inconveniences apart, I recognise that, if one sleeps outside and lives elsewhere, the Suite of Apartments you have let to me for £150. per annum, are all that one can desire -

But now come the Servants -

You place two of your own people in the basement, to care for the whole house - and suggest that they should recieve [sic] from the tenants nearly £95. a year - I look upon this as high wages for a first class butler and cook - however I am willing to pay my third - and prepare for the most perfect service that naturally results from such arrangement - What do I find? -

The said butler and Cook propose to light my fire and lay before me the cup of tea and rasher of bacon of "Box & Cox[4]" tradition - More than this I am told I am not to expect - and upon applying to yourselves Mr Graham[5] blandly suggests that I am to look for further food to my possible club, or to the chance restaurant provided for the precarious -

For what then I ask are Mr Edis' many modern appliances? [p. 3] that have lured me into the falacious [sic] belief of well managed meals? - Why the complete range? - Why the butler's pantry?

Is the 'lift' then to come up from the depths below with a red herring and a piece of toast letter? - or a piece of toast and my slippers? - Surely the mountain that brought forth the mouse finds it's parallell [sic] in this ponderous machinery that ends in a pat of butter! -

I have sought in vain for any clause in the agreement, I have signed; that should show me that I have consented to stultify my work by putting down my brush in the middle of the day, that I may scour the country for a chop! - Happily no such such clause presents itself - and I find nothing that forbids my dining decently in my own place - and having in a word about me all the comfort that shall make possible a home for which I am now paying over 180. a year![6]


This document is protected by copyright.


Notes:

1.  [c. 3 August 1881]
Dated from Jackson & Graham to JW, #02392. JW moved to a studio and rooms at No 13 Tite Street some time in May 1881.

2.  Messrs Jackson and Graham
House surveyors and estate agents. Although JW signed the lease for the property on 22 March (#02381), there seems to have been continual delays and disagreements over the progress of its refurbishment. See also other related correspondence #02382, #02384, #02386, #02388, #02389.

3.  Mr Edis
Robert William Edis (1839-1927), architect [more].

4.  Cox
The operetta Box and Cox by Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan (1842-1900), composer and conductor [more], was adapted by Francis Cowley Burnand (1836-1917), barrister, dramatist and journalist [more], from John Madison Norton's farce of the same name. It was first performed privately on 26 May 1866 and publicly at the Adelphi Theatre in 1867. It was immensely popular and entered the D'Oyly Carte repertory in 1894. The basis of the story is that Sergeant Bouncer, an old soldier, has a plan to get double rent from a single room. By day he lets it to Mr Box, a printer who works at night, and by night to Mr Cox, a hatter who works by day.

5.  Mr Graham
Walter Graham (b. ca 1831), architect [more].

6.  over 180. a year!
Written in the right-hand margin at right-angles to the main text.