The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: health, cold
Record 31 of 31

System Number: 02092
Date: [October/November 1901][1]
Author: JW[2]
Place: London
Recipient: Magda Heinemann[3]
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H193
Document Type: MsL[4]



Dear Mrs Heinemann -

I am a prisoner in mine Hotel for the moment, having now completed my cold -

The wicked Payne[5] should not have allowed his mistress to be disturbed about an erring guest, who is overwhelmed, by her kind solicitude - and his own awkwardness - for I understand, as you say, that if you were dining out, Heinemann[6] would let me know -

I have seen nothing of him! and I suppose he has gone to meet Mempes[7] very properly - in the home of Shakespeare!!

Look now how easy a thing is prophecy! - your messenger arrives at this very moment - confirming my intuition!

It is[8] Mempes he has gone to see!! and together they will eat and cologue, and drink Whiskies, for "sack" in Stratford!!

and after such rare comedy - and business wellplaced - it is craftily devised - though such mild cunning was never the thought of Madame Magda, la belle Maffia, daughter of Machivel - that the simple master be smilingly bidden down to sly feast - and safely at a distance - with closed shutters - the "wiping up of Mempes" finish this stupendous day! -

And so, pleasantly, and without shock, this monstrous abomination[9] in Kaki, is to sidle up to, and take its place upon the same shelf with the Gentle Art[10] in beautiful Brown!

[p. 2] And in the window of the guilty Publisher, to whom the Gods had given the sweet chance of its refusal - will be spread out the shameless subscription list that shall put to the blush the roaring announcement of the tea in the Circus: -

"The Queen reads it!"
Dukes peruse buy it!"
Earls receive it!
Barrons borrow it!
Knights turn it over!
at William Heinemann's -

And the "wiping up of Mempes" is his own - and he wipes up the town!

Upon reflection I think will keep this back until tomorrow, that no last panic of remorse interfere with the course of events! -

"Quand on voie[11] un ami sur la pente, il faut le pousser"!

Sunday[12]. Wherefore the coast is now clear! and why not to-night the Scalliwag and the whole Clanjamfry[13] to supper! Ho, ho, je[14] vois ça d'ici! - and am always devotedly though, alas! round the corner,


[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [October/November 1901]
Dated from the address and references to JW's health, as well as to M. L. Menpes (see below).

2.  JW
Written on JW's behalf by Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more].

3.  MsL
Written at right-angles to the printed address. A copy of this letter records that it had a butterfly signature (#10777).

4.  Magda Heinemann
Magda Stuart Heinemann (m. 1899), née Sindici, pseudonym 'Kassandra Vivaria', writer [more].

5.  Payne
Payne, employee or servant of W. Heinemann.

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

7.  Mempes
Mortimer Luddington Menpes (1860-1938), artist [more]. The name is mis-spelt 'Mempes' throughout. See also a letter from M. Heinemann to JW, #02093.

8.  is
Double underlined.

9.  monstrous abomination
The mention of 'kaki' suggests this may refer to a forthcoming book of Menpes's drawings of the Boer War, which started in October 1899. In fact it was published by Adam and Charles Black as War Impressions, being a record in colour by M. Menpes. Transcribed by Dorothy Menpes, London, 1901.

10.  Gentle Art
Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892; this had been published by Heinemann.

11.  Quand on voie ... pousser
Fr., When one sees a friend on a slope, one should give him a push.

12.  Sunday
Double underlined.

13.  Clanjamfry
Spelt variously clanjamphry, clanjamphrey or clanjamphrey, and meaning rabble or worthless people; possibly derived from the novelist Sir Walter Scott's derisive use of the word for a Highland clan.

14.  je ... ici
Fr., I can see it from here.