The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 08482
Date: [20 May/June 1897][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: William Heinemann[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC
Document Type: ALS[3]


Mon cher Ami -

I have not picked up yet! although the weather here is wonderful - and so warm that no south is necessary - Think I may stop a day or two at Dieppe on my way - and the fresh air there [p. 2] will I dare say do the trick -

Perhaps if I manage that, you might run over and bring me back with you -

I dont know what really is the matter with me - but I am so tired!!

I who am never tired! -

I can remember only the effect of the Sirocco[5] in Venice - as something like it - and then to be sure the touch of the influenza in Chelsea once - when nothing else did I feel that should hint at illness save this astonishing fatigue! - Perhaps that is the very trouble - The Docteur Ferrand[6], our neighbour said the [sic] doubtless the "grippe" might have been upon me - However you see I left the hotel Chatham (- from where by the way, your first letter[7] was sent on -) in order that I might be taken care of - and so I rest - and the London cough is less - and by degrees I fancy leaving me - But I am sad! - and you know sad is for me very sad! - Well well - Let the flat - and we will fish for the [p. 3] little gudgeon together, in a chair with painted corks! on the Sundays like the other Britons! -

You have n't said a word to me about my Idyl on George Moore[8]! - and I hoped you would have thought it perfect! -

"A sunny sense of hay and innocence[9]."! Ask the Bard at Hampstead how he likes that? -

You know I am going to paint him -

Dear Mr. Webb - Your letter[10]

Tell the Financier[11] I am delighted with his news about the Ivanhoes[12] - Whenever he thinks it time to sell out - he will say -

You ought to have seen the trial[13]!

The [Lewis'[14]?] say they never had such a witness! -

A bientôt!
Write me a line -

[butterfly signature][15]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [June/September 1897]
Dated from the references to the weather and JW's health, similar to those in JW's letter to E. G. Kennedy, [21 May 1897], #09767 (see also JW to H. C. Pollitt, #09339).

2.  William Heinemann
William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more].

3.  ALS
Written on paper with a mourning border.

4.  '[1898]'
Added in another hand.

5.  Sirocco
A warm, humid Mediterranean wind originating in North Africa, which brings rain and fog.

6.  Docteur Ferrand
Possibly Henry Ferrand (ca 1842 - d. 1892), actor, Lyceum Theatre [more]. JW was either suffering from 'flu or the after-effects of a viral infection.

7.  your first letter

8.  George Moore
George Moore (1852-1933), novelist and art critic [more]. JW had quarrelled with Moore in 1895 as a consequence of his dispute with Sir William Eden over a portrait of Eden's wife. Moore had introduced the two men.

9.  innocence
This phrase, apparently coined by JW, appears in an unidentified press-cutting commenting on the Pennell v. Sickert trial, which took place on 5 and 6 April 1897 (see below, and see #09909).

10.  Dear Mr. Webb - Your letter
Written upside down to the main text on the same sheet; this was the start of a letter and was obviously abandoned and crossed out.

11.  Financier
Edmund Heinemann (b. ca 1866), stockbroker [more].

12.  Ivanhoes
The 'Ivanhoe' was a celebrated western Australian gold mine. The London and Globe Corporation had just acquired control of the mine. The firm instigated a major share flotation of 460,000 shares at £2 (see Truth, vol. 42, 8 July 1897, p. 100).

13.  trial
The libel action between Joseph Pennell (1860-1926), printer and illustrator, JW's biographer [more], and Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942), artist and writer on art [more]. Sickert had publicly alleged that Pennell's method of drawing on transfer paper instead of directly onto the lithographic stone could not be regarded as true lithography (Sickert, W. R., 'Transfer Lithography', Saturday Review, 26 December 1896; and see also Sickert, W. R.,'The Master of the Transfer Lithograph, The Speaker, 13 March 1897). The editor of the Saturday Review, Frank Harris, backed Sickert, and published correspondence relating to the dispute between himself and the lawyers, Lewes amd Lewes. Pennell proposed to take Sickert to court. He consulted Sir George Lewis and then engaged Sir Edward Clarke, QC. The case was heard on 5-6 April 1897 at the King's Bench Division. Frederick Goulding (1842-1909), printer and print-maker [more], and Thomas Robert Way (1861-1913), printer, lithographer and painter [more]; E. F. Strange and Sidney Colvin (1845-1927), Keeper of Prints and Drawings, British Museum [more]; Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934), sculptor [more]; and JW supported Pennell. George Moore (1852-1933), novelist and art critic [more], Charles Hazlewood Shannon (1863-1937), painter and lithographer [more], and William Rothenstein (1872-1945), artist [more], appeared against him. Pennell won the case and they celebrated with Jonathan Sturges at the Café Royal (see #08480, #13493, #09149; Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, The Life and Letters of Joseph Pennell, 2 vols, London, 1930, pp. 309-14; Robins, Anna Greutzner, Walter Sickert. The Complete Writings on Art, Oxford, 2000, pp. 121-23, 129-30, 147-49).

14.  Lewis'
Lewes and Lewes, or Sir George Henry Lewis (1833-1911), society lawyer [more], and Elisabeth Lewis (1844-1931), née Eberstadt, wife of G. H. Lewis [more].

15.  [butterfly signature]
'You ought ... [butterfly signature]' is written in the margins of p. 1, at right angles to the main text.