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

the on-line edition

System Number: 06648
Date: [27 November 1895][1]
Author: JW
Place: Lyme Regis
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W642
Document Type: ALS

Chinkie - my Wink hold on!

'till I tell you something! - only I ought not to - for two reasons - one is that I meant to try and surprise you! - & the other is of course that one ought never to say "Hello" until he is safely seated at the lilly [sic] white feets [sic] of the Wam Obi away out of this! -

Still Chinks I think, if we do a bit [p. 2] of the "unberufen[3]" and you rub the little hand on the wood so that the terrrrible Goddess shall forgive, I think that I don't mind whispering to you that I have never done work like this that you are to see directly!

Bunnie[4] didn't see it - though she thinks she did - you see it cant be seen until it is there - It has been on its way & what Bunnie saw doubtless seemed to her as it might have seemed to us beautiful - or astonishing - but! this is more than all that. - This is what was in[5] [p. 3][6] the Lamp[7] ! ! [drawing of butterfly in clouds] - and haven't I rubbed & rubb[8] . . rubbed ! ! and its bright now Wink ! - - But see the Butterfly was nearly blown up altogether by it!! - .

The spirit of the "wonderful" was in such a towering rage at being so continuously urged & girded at & importuned & in short "rubbed" for, that he suddenly came out altogether[9] and filled the place! & the poor Butterfly was panic stricken! & his eyes have never gone back yet from their astonishment .. and the only witty thing he could think of was to turn round & kick the grinder in the Presence! and offer him as an unworthy bit to appease the great Gold & [p. 4] Red & Black diamond Afriti Gentleman[10]! &, leaving him to get back into the Lamp, fly off in time for the post that the Wam Lady might hear at once of the marvellous & most amazing adventure!

And so this is the true & faithful Story of the Genie, the Butterfly & the Grinder in the Studio by the Sea!

And what I am doing now Chinkie Wink is work no longer - in the sense of slavery - but work of the value that the picture is without until it possesses it - which in a lighter moment we might say sounds[11] profoundly empty! But the Wam who knows the difference between the old Bronze with its Patina & the British statue cut out of marble sugar knows what he means!

Also I[12] think Chink that little Mr Thomson[13] will in a vague way know something of this value in golden guineas

& Goodnight[14] - Wink! & beautiful sleep, & think of the story of the Genie & the Butterfly & the Grinder - !

Wherefore as I said Winkie Wam hold on!!! Just a day or two longer - and God bless & God bless the two nice Wams.

[butterfly signature]

Little Prayers

This document is protected by copyright.


Mrs J. McNeill Whistler
8. Half Moon Street
[postmark:] LYME REGIS / D / NO27 / 95
[postmark on verso:] LONDON - W. / C 7 / NO28 / 95 / [ ]


1.  [27 November 1895]
Dated from the postmark.

2.  Beatrix Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. JW calls her 'Chinkie', 'Wink', 'Wam' etc. She was ill with terminal cancer.

3.  unberufen
Ger., unbidden.

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

5.  in
Double underlined.

6.  [p. 3]
This page is actually numbered '(2.)' at the top, although it is the third side of text.

7.  Lamp
The 'l' of 'lamp' has a barbed tail, and merges with a drawing, A butterfly among the clouds (M.1444).

8.  rubb
The end of this word disappears behind one of the clouds drawn by JW.

9.  altogether
Double underlined.

10.  Afriti Gentleman
JW appears to be referring to the illustrations of stories such as 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves' and the popular Arabian Nights Entertainment; see also his letter to Beatrix on [28 November 1895], #06649.

11.  say sounds ... what he means!
'say sounds ... what he means!' is added in the margins on p. 4, at right angles to the rest of the text.

12.  Also I ... guineas
'Also I ... guineas' is added in the left margin of p. 2, at right angles to the rest of the text.

13.  Mr Thomson
David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), art dealer [more]. The expenses of Beatrix Whistler's illness made it of crucial importance for JW to earn more money immediately.

14.  & Goodnight ... Prayers
' & Goodnight ... Prayers -' is added in the margins on p. 1, at right angles to the rest of the text.