The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: health (JW)
Record 140 of 172

System Number: 01521
Date: [April 1901][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Ajaccio]
Recipient: Charles Lang Freer[2]
Place: [Detroit]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler F453
Document Type: ALd[3]

Dear Mr Freer -

I have just received notice from Goupils Paris[4], of the safe arrival of the Etchings Pastels & Etchings - Again how kind of you! -

The pictures are, it is true, too late for the Champs de Mars - where I had hoped to send them - Still they have never been seen in France - and we will be beautifully & becomingly shown - when the exhibition is properly organised -

You see I did not take into my calculations this question of health! - and you perceive from that I still write from this Island so difficult to leave! -

However definitily I return take the boat for Marseilles on Wednesday, and return to Paris via London! on the P & O Steamer, so that I may complete the benefit of the long absence by a another sea trip and appear in great condition in my work shops again -

And now what do you think has [p. 2] been at all the trouble with me

The truth that I have discovered here & that has so filled me with delight - mingled with a certain resentment which you will presently understand - is that nothing is physically the matter with me & my physical health! No wonder the London doctor who is a [das?] good fellow, for an Englishman - said "you want no medicine . . go away, & rest, & rest, and amuse yourself and come back fit for everything!"

Yes but he stopped short of the real matter! & his prescribed "rest" & said he[5] [no nothing?] - & his ordered amusement I looked upon with [serio?] derision as a manner of speaking - amusement - He did not know - what I myself was not conscious of, that I have never "amused" myself! that for years[6] I have never rested! - Never, as who should say sat down! - never taken a "holliday"! - never permitted myself a Saturday afternoon!

For years[7] - think of it!

And I never had not even a sense of the meaning of "rest" - nor did I at all know of the cruelty real unfairness injustice & to myself such ignorance inevitably entailed!

And in this madness of work wild pursuit of work the machine was terribly [illegible] this beautiful & sensitive machine - "not made in Germany" - was cruelly maltreated overwrought

Dull indeed[8] have I been! - dull as All work & no play made of Jack a dull boy! - and dull indeed have I been - for I have never played! -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [April 1901]
Dated by reference to JW's return from Corsica.

2.  Charles Lang Freer
Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more].

3.  ALd
See Merrill, Linda, With Kindest Regards. The Correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler, 1890-1903, Washington and London, 1995, no. 47, pp. 141-42.

4.  Goupils Paris
JW had planned an exhibition, but it did not take place.

5.  said he...manner of speaking -
This text is added by a line from the left margin.

6.  years
Double underlined.

7.  years
Double underlined.

8.  Dull indeed...never played! -
Written in the left margin of p. 2.