The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 04679
Date: [30 September 1896][1]
Author: JW
Place: Dieppe
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: Paris
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P319
Document Type: AL[3]

[Crest with ship, supported by mermaids]


LE     18

'Sept. 30th 1896.'

I am afraid my dear Major you would see no signs of over cheerfulness in me tonight!

I am down - down - in the darkest of depression -

The work I have no success with! - and so am hurled back into the despair of my thoughts - However that is as you would say I'm all right!

Today was really fine - and at one moment I thought I had a wonderful picture - but no! - and how I lost it I scarcely can explain - though I do really know - which [p. 2] doesn't make it any better! -

Of course it is ridiculous to have come here in this haste & to leave in this hurry! Every thing also of course is absurd -

Here, this is the last day - and on this day only do I find what I want both in picture and place in which to paint it - and -

What's the use! - Nobody ever yet painted with a trunk packed and one leg in the train!

Rubbish - But isn't it funny - that I always do find what I want - There is, in this, perhaps something reassuring - for after all I do suppose that one need not always be every Where after [p. 3] the season is over! -

And yet this thought of mine is only apologetic - and a fruitless effort to be "cheerful" -

Well - we go tonight in the Normandie - one of the old fashioned boats - and I suppose Constant[4] will be knocked about a bit - for an ancient Mariner of Dieppe told that, though the day had been calm & smooth the sea, we might expect a picking up again in the way of wind after dark - all of which was hinted at by the red Sun set & the rest of it - -

Wish Bunnie[5] many happy returns for me - and tell her not to be uppish because of my message [p. 4] last night - and always to be grateful to me for ridding her of her "coupe Anglaise en plein![6]" -

Dear me you should see them tonight -

Upon my word how really ugly they are! - I don't mean Major that these are hideous women - no - they would be in London a very decent lot - but I mean their get up - which at home would be unnoticed - their ways which are decidedly noticeable - and their general ungainliness - I don't know, tonight I may be in a bad humour, but they seem to me to be intolerable

And so ungraceful! - One of them in a yellow "gown" with black "trimmings" - there! - you should have seen her! -

Oh dear me - What is to become of me! - I do nothing but think of my beautiful Trixie[7]!! -

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'Sept 30 1896'

Mademoiselle Birnie Philip
110. Rue du Bac.
Paris -
[postmark:] DIEPPE SEINE INFRE / [13E?] 30 / SEPT / 96
[Postmark on verso:] 9 PARIS 9 / DISTRIBUTION / [1E?] / 1 / OCT / 96

[hotel crest on verso]


1.  30 September 1896
The postmark confirms the date written later by the recipient on both letter and envelope.

2.  Rosalind Birnie Philip
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. JW called her the 'Major'.

3.  AL
Written in pencil.

4.  Constant
T. C. J. Constant, JW's servant and valet [more].

5.  Bunnie
Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), née Philip, JW's sister-in-law [more].

6.  coupe Anglaise en plein!
Fr., the real English cut!.

7.  Trixie
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. She had died in May.