The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06713
Date: [22 September 1888][1]
Author: JW
Place: Tours[2]
Recipient: Helen Euphrosyne Whistler[3]
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W707
Document Type: ALS

I suppose, my dear Nellie, that you must wonder what in the world has become of us! - Why we have given no sign of life - when we are ever coming back! - and in short you and Willie[4] are in a concentrated state of curiosity and indignation with pretended indifference! - "Tempered" with indifference I should say - and this of course reminds me - have you seen my letter to the Münich Exhibition[5] people? - Naturally you have - in the World[6] - of September the 7th, or thereabouts - Mind you tell us what you thought of it! - Well well! - over [p. 2] and over again we talk of you both and wish you were here with us! - You would be enchanted! -

London is I suppose as usual more or less black and bleak - and here we are in the sun from one end of the day to the other - eating grapes at dinner and melon at breakfast - just for all the world as if we were in the heart of Tite Street with John and Lizzie[7] ruining the establishment at the fruiterers! -

But where is "here"? you will say - Well you must promise secrecy and then take the map and your guide book and travel with us way down the Eure and Loire, stopping at Chartres, and staying as now at Tours! - the most lovely place you can well imagine - Only - mind seriously you must tell no one - not even Mrs Sophie[8]! - for we mean to keep all this part free from the disloyal (I don't mean the delightful Mrs Sophie!) but the followers or pupils - and if it were whispered it might go all over! -

The fascinating ex Widdie[9]! and I are both looking amazing!! - and when we get back will come and dine with you on the strict QT! - and tell you all about it - and listen to all the scandal that you must have ready for us - By the way this reminds me that on our first return, a week or two ago, we went up to Wimpole Street - but you were all away. - Then it was clear [p. 3] to us that London was sad, and absurd, and off we went the next day! - So here we are - "in the Garden of France" - pottering about this old town in straw hats and white shoes! - sitting down on benches or borrowing chairs that we may, at our ease, look at the lovely old doorways - and marvelous [sic] carvings -

In short, for the first time, really lazily having the, to me, unknown holiday! - I suppose we shall go on drifting - and following the warm weather further South - Mean while we are thinking of Bourges[10] - have you ever been there? - I fancy it must be amazing - Next year you and Willie must certainly come with us - and then we might go to the Mediterranean: though the thing is the river part of Southern France - and this we must keep for ourselves - Mr Hanson[11] sends us daily cuttings from all the papers! - What a rage they have been [p. 4] in about the Münich letter! - and indeed about Whistler generally! - Trix has a large collection of her own! - and the description of the "fascinating Widdie" has gone all over the United States - to say nothing of a long account of the famous ceremony in the Paris paper properly called "L'Evenement[12] [sic]"! -

I send you enclosed this d— thing about Menpes[13]! - and I will tell you what you might do - Ask the Sickerts[14] down to dinner - and give Walter the cutting - tell them that you got it out of the "Star" - dont [15] say that I sent it - Look at the date and then damp the Romeike[16] scrap that is fastened to it and give the printed bit only to him - Then say that this must be through [p. 5] the McCarthys'[17] influence - and say that you wish that Walter would make a point of seeing young Justin or indeed both of the McCarthys and telling them the story of Menpes's visit to Haden[18] - You can tell them the story with all the details most picturesquely dwelt upon - and say that Walter ought to tell the McCarthys in order that they may know what a treacherous rascal they have admitted into their intimacy - for the Kangaroo is intimate with them - Walter is an old chum of Justin's and can do this easily - Ask him if he heard also of Menpes' letter[19] afterwards to me - about his rejoining the Painter Etchers - and my answer - and tell him to ask Roussel[20] to tell him -

Well see what you can make of all this as a nice little plot and write to me at once - Tell us all the news you can think of - and what about the Morrel Mackenzie[21] -

Didn't I see somewhere that the German doctors' report had been published in English? -

And now Goodnight -

With much love from both to both of you
Always affectionately

[butterfly signature]

14. Rue de la Scellerie.
à Tours -
France -

This document is protected by copyright.


Mrs William McNeill Whistler
28. Wimpole Street
Cavendish Square
[butterfly signature]
Angleterre -
[postmark x 2:] TOURS / GARE / 5 / 22 / SEP / 88 / INDRE ET LOIRE
[postmark on verso:] [CALAIS?] / 2 / 22 / SEPT / 88
[postmark on verso:: LONDON / W / 7 / SP / 24 / 88 / 14


1.  [22 September 1888]
Dated from postmark.

2.  Helen Euphrosyne Whistler
Helen ('Nellie') Euphrosyne Whistler (1849-1917), née Ellen Ionides, JW's sister-in-law [more].

3.  Tours
JW was in France on a working honeymoon, after his marriage to Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more] on 11 August. Apart from their brief spell in London, the Whistlers remained there until about early November.

4.  Willie
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

5.  letter to the Münich Exhibition
See JW to the Secretary, Munich Central Committee, #07979.

6.  World
London society paper. See Whistler, James McNeill, [Letter to the Central Committee of the International Art Exhibition, Munich], The World: A Journal For Men and Women, no. 740, vol. 29, 5 September 1888, p. 17.

7.  John and Lizzie
Perhaps John Cossins, JW's valet [more] from c. 1875-80 and Lizzie (b. ca 1853), possibly a servant of H. and W. McN. Whistler during the 1880s.

8.  Mrs Sophie
Sophia Eustratius Manuel (1853-1905), née Ionides [more].

9.  Widdie
Beatrix Whistler was the widow of Edward William Godwin (1833-1886), architect and designer [more].

10.  Bourges
Historic town in the Centre région, south-west of Tours, noted for its gothic cathedral of Saint-Etienne.

11.  Mr Hanson
Charles James Whistler Hanson (1870-1935), engineer, son of JW and Louisa Fanny Hanson [more].

12.  L'Evenement
Fr., event or occurrence.

13.  Menpes
Mortimer Luddington Menpes (1860-1938), artist [more].

14.  Sickerts
Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942), artist and writer on art [more] and his wife Ellen Melicent Sickert (1848-1914), née Cobden, writer [more].

15.  don't
Double underlined.

16.  Romeike
Henry Romeike, founder of the news agency [more].

17.  McCarthys'
Justin McCarthy (1830-1912), MP, journalist, novelist and historian [more] and his son Justin Huntly McCarthy (1860-1936), dramatist, novelist and historian [more].

18.  Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

19.  Menpes letter
Probably M. L. Menpes to JW, #04037.

20.  Roussel
Theodore Roussel (1847-1926), painter and print-maker [more].

21.  Morrel Mackenzie
Dr Morell Mackenzie (1837-1892), surgeon, founder of the London Hospital for Diseases of the Throat [more].