The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02566
Date: 19 August 1875
Author: Frederick Richards Leyland[1]
Place: Liverpool
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler L102
Document Type: ALS

Speke Hall
Nr Liverpool

19 Aug 1875

My dear Jemmy,

Your theory of a tub is all very well; but let me tell you that life in a tub is infinitely preferable to the society of the philistines. - No one likes society better than I do, but then it must be good. The last fortnight has been very pleasant (la respectable [p. 2] Smith[2] notwithstanding) and it is not much to one's credit to be agreable [sic] under such circumstances; but how seldom it is one can have the chance.

On the whole I stick by my old opinion that the safest place for a man is to be content with his own company.

Mrs Caird[3] has gone back to Scotland today and little Fanny[4] has gone with her for a fortnight. Miss Caird[5] I think goes away next week and then [p. 3] we shall be as we were at Speke[6].

Talk of your moonlight[7] at Battersea bridge - You should have seen it at Speke for the last few nights. It was superb. -

We went down after dinner to the foot end of the avenue and spent an hour or more there looking at the moonlight on the river : - the tide was up, and the water quite phosphorescent; glittering and sparkling in the moonlight like a fairy scene; quite lovely and mysterious, mais pas bien pour les moeurs[8].

I don't know when [p. 4] I shall go up to town - probably the end of next week or the week after - ; but I will call on you when I do if you are not at Speke earlier which I hope will be the case.

I had a letter today from Rossetti[9] - He says he has sold his 2000 gna picture[10] to a friend of Howells[11]!!!!!!!

Yours ever

Fred. R. Leyland

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1.  Frederick Richards Leyland
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more].

2.  Smith
Perhaps a sardonic reference to Eustacia Smith, wife of Thomas Eustace Smith, ship-owner and Liberal M.P. for Tynemouth, who lived at 52 Prince's Gate, close to the Leylands. Eustacia Smith had had a longstanding and open affair with Sir Charles Dilke, M. P. (see Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, p. 273, n. 142).

3.  Mrs Caird
Sophie Caird (1843-1882), née Gray, wife of J. K. Caird [more].

4.  Miss Caird
Ellen Caird, friend of Mrs F. Leyland, possibly a sister of Sir James Caird.

5.  Fanny
Fanny Leyland (1857-1880), later Mrs Stevenson-Hamilton [more].

6.  Speke
Speke Hall, home of the Leyland family, near Liverpool, where JW stayed January to March 1875.

7.  moonlight
Probably Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 140).

8.  mais pas bien pour les moeurs
Fr., but not good for morals.

9.  Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more].

10.  picture
Rossetti had just sold his picture D. G. Rossetti, Astarte Syriaca(z324), to Clarence E. Fry, partner at the photographic firm of Elliot & Fry, for £2,100, the largest price Rossetti was ever paid for a picture. Charles A. Howell acted as agent in the transaction (Doughty, Oswald and John Robert Wahl, Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 4 vols., Oxford, 1965-67, D. G. Rossetti to C. E. Fry, 18 August 1875, Letter 1579).

11.  Howells
Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more].

12.  poverino
It., poor, poor thing.