The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 07277
Date: 3 April 1896
Author: Edward Guthrie Kennedy[1]
Place: New York
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W1265
Document Type: ALS

April 3rd 1896

New York

Well, my dear friend,

I am very pleased indeed to hear of Mrs. Whistler's[2] great improvement, in your letter[3] of the 25th March. The news is most welcome and I am glad for your sake and the family's if for nothing else. It has indeed been a most anxious time and I can quite see how you hardly can believe it after the great anxiety and discouragement to which you have been subjected.

Read the parable of the lost sheep[4][.] Probably it is a long time since [p. 2] you have done so, but it can't do you any harm and never mind Whibley's[5] sneers. He is a poor pessimistic Cuss!

I shall be delighted to have the drawing you mention "La belle dame convalescente[6]", all the more as "the lady says you are to have it." Please return her my best thanks and congratulations.

"It is not a bad lithograph". What, can I believe my eyes? Well, well, wonders will never cease! Look at the phonograph, Roentgen rays[7], and now Whistler doesn't say "Behold another masterpiece," but the above modest sentence. I really must be kicked directly as I am surely dreaming.

Is this the same man who, the other day, because I took exception to two slight subjects out of a lot, said I was a lineal descendant of Dogberry[8]? Well, never mind, if I was over there I would open a bottle & drink to madam's health. I will here, anyway.

Yes, the last lithographs are very pretty. Fellows here growl and say "Why doesn't he do 'em direct on stone?" If the same effect is produced I presume it makes no difference.

[p. 3] Just about this time you will have had your first taste of the elixir of America, "Martini Cocktail". What do you think of it? There's something for you worth while.

Max O'Rell[9] says that people here have no time to be civil, and that when he said once: "Thank you", to some shopkeeper, he said replied in a suspicious tone "You're welcome," as much as to say "what's the matter with you".

This is an exaggeration, so when I say that you are perfectly welcome to any service I may have been able to render you, do not think of Max O'Rell. I shall be glad to hear of the continued improvement of madam, to whom give my kindest regards. Remember me to any one else I know.

Sincerely Yours

E. G. Kennedy.

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1.  Edward Guthrie Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more].

2.  Mrs. Whistler's
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. She was dying of cancer, although there had been periods of remission.

3.  your letter

4.  parable of the lost sheep
'And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.' Luke 15.3-7.

5.  Whibley's
Charles Whibley (1859-1930), writer and journalist [more].

6.  La belle dame convalescente
La Belle Dame paresseuse (C.98).

7.  Roentgen rays
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845-1923), physicist, discovered xrays in 1895 and for some time they were called by his name.

8.  Dogberry
Constable Dogberry, a clown-like character from William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Dogberry is especially remembered for his foolish gaffs, for example when he tells the arrested Borachio that he will be "condemned into ever-lasting redemption" (act IV, scene ii, lines 53-54).

9.  Max O'Rell
Max O'Rell, the pen name of Paul Blouet (1848-1903), lecturer, writer and journalist. He wrote John Bull et son île, 1883, a popular humorous book, reprinted and translated frequently.