The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 04785
Date: [18 January 1901][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Marseilles]
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: Hastings
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P425
Document Type: ALS[3]

No Major!

we were not in the poor Russie[4]! - so, Ma'ame[5], you must give up reading the shipping news - no taking trouble out of the Police reports! -

Happily all were saved - but we would never have done among them - for the cold must have been something appaling [sic]! and I scarcely could have [p. 2] waited for the wreck! -

Your letter, Major, was a pleasure! - It came this morning - and I thought I should have had it last Sunday of Monday at latest!

I had said to Ronnie[6] I bet The Major has taken her Mother to the country, that she may not have to date her next epistle from Tite Street! That is the reason why she doesnt answer -

Only of course I didn't say "I bet!" - and I am absurd about letters!

And you have been very fine Major! I am greatly taken - tickled immensely - at the "high toned" West Point[7] way in which you have carried on the traditions! - with flowers here - and beans there! - "Go it Reuben! bang!" and "Coachman drive Colonel Bagby[8] round the town promiscuous"!! - Most excellent, Major! Amazing!! - I am greatly pleased Ma'ame! And the letter to Webb[9]! - poor Webb - he wishes only to be in with us all - and say choice things - & acquit himself happily! as of the family! And that is what's the matter with Hannah! Uncle Webb! - All right also the destruction of the young man at the door! and I like the new cloak for Lillie[10] - And now Major there are lots of things - and I am a bit low in my mind - miserable of course - for no work has been possible - What a beginning of this New Year! - Do you think it will come out all right? You see the Doctor[11] is [p. 3] greatly contented with me - and I do believe if it were only for the meeting with him, the long journey has been entirely worth while! He has now given me the clean bill of health so greatly desired - and sends us off today (or monday) to Corsica - There he wants us to stay for 3 weeks or at least 2 quiet in the really warm sun before returning to the work either in Paris or London - Well this we shall of course do - But think of the accumul accumulated crimes in the studio! - As it is, I have neither to nor read anything from the Farquhar[12] - nor the other!! You had better write a note to Mrs. Vanderbilt[13] - saying, with your best wishes for the Season, that you thought they would like to know that I am down here still & everything that is perfect - only that I must not come back for another yet.

You see they may think that I ought to have let them know - because of their Winter plans - (they said something about Dresden) - You might say that all letters and writing had been as much put aside as possible - that I should have nothing to think of but idle health - There, thats the kind of thing . . Of course if I were talking to you, I would work out something about the Bate[14]! & the rest of it! - However your letter to her meanwhile is all right - I am sending enclosed another cheque on Munroe that you can fill up if any thing were urgent in Paris - It is most provoking but I cannot get any thing out of Ratier[15] - Still perhaps even that is not bad, for if Saleron[16] makes no move, it shows that she is perhaps slightly less agressive [sic] or certain - in short out flanked!

Now this goes[17] - So all nice things to you all - and write Major - Of course the envelope full that you sent to the Consul, Algiers, came to us all right - I suppose you only sent one -

Bunnie[18] will be much mystified by my message about her letter to me! for she did not write - but you can say that her little message of warnings to Ronnie as to demeanour before chance British Officers made me take the whole thing for myself!! - You will hear again Major directly - & if you have any brilliant thought upon matters of a soothing kind, fire it off -


the General

This document is protected by copyright.


[Registered letter:]

'Jan 20 1901'[19]


Miss Rosalind Birnie-Philip
1. White Rock
Angleterre -
[postmark:] MARSEILLE / CHARGEMENTS / 18 / JANV / 01
[postmark on verso:] HASTINGS / STATION OFFICE / 4.30 AM / JA 20 / 01


1.  18 January 1901
Dated by postmark.

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

3.  ALS
The envelope has a mourning border.

4.  Russie
In 1901 the small liner Russie, sailing from Oran to Marseilles, ran aground between the semaphore station and the Faraman lighthouse in the Camargue, in the South of France, during a heavy storm, at five in the morning. It was four days before the seventy-five crew were rescued.

5.  Ma'ame
Frances Philip (1824-1917), née Black, JW's mother-in-law [more].

6.  Ronnie
Ronald Murray Philip (1871-1940), civil engineer, JW's brother-in-law [more].

7.  West Point
US Military Accademy, which JW attended from 1851-1854.

8.  Colonel Bagby
JW may be referring to a work of fiction, quoting or paraphrasing a story about the Southern States of America, possibly by George William Bagby (1828-1883), Virginian writer of sentimental ante-bellum stories.

9.  Webb
William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more].

10.  Lillie
Possibly Lilian ('Lily') Pettigrew (b. 1870), artists' model [more].

11.  Doctor
Dr William Boyter-Johnson (b. ca 1853), JW's doctor in London [more]. See #04784.

12.  Farquhar
William Richman Farquhar (m. 1897), husband of Marion Farquhar [more].

13.  Mrs. Vanderbilt
Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt (1873-1958), née Dresser, wife of G. W. Vanderbilt [more].

14.  Bate
Inez Eleanor Addams (fl. 1898-1927), née Bate, painter [more].

15.  Ratier
Antoine ('Antony') Ratier (b. 1851), lawyer and politician [more].

16.  Saleron
Mme Saleron, JW's neighbour at 110 rue du Bac [more].

17.  Now this goes
Continued in the left margin, p. 1; 'Bunnie ... General' was written in the left margin of p. 2.

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

19.  'Jan 20 1901'
Written later by R. Birnie Philip.

20.  Recommandée
Triple underlined.