The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: pupil of JW
Record 6 of 9

System Number: 04615
Date: 31 May 1895
Author: Robert Goodloe Harper Pennington[1]
Place: [Newport, Rhode Island]
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P255
Document Type: ALS

May 31st '95.

Dear Jimmy:

I have thought so much of you & your wife[2] lately that I mean to risk boring you with another letter. You see it is begun in ink, bravely enough; but the rest must be in pencil, as I am ordered to lie down again, & I cannot manage a pen when flat on my back.

The doctor[3] says I am doing wonders in the way of healing. The only little setback I have had at all was caused by my going a little too fast: The wound, left to itself for a couple of days, closed up more than was good for it, & had to be re-opened - not a very pleasant process.

Very soon, now, they say I may be moved to Newport, whither Lena[4] & the babies have already fled from the awful heat of the city. We are doing a bit of record-breaking, this Spring, in the way of weather - Today it is 92°, yesterday, 91°!

I have been reading a wretched book of George Moore's[5], "Modern painting[6]", he calls it. It is as bad as Ruskin[7] (artistically) & without the grace of the [p. 2] older donkey's diction. Moore's English is too affected to be convincing - I doubt if even the merry Philistine will listen to him - and the man's ignorance & conceit make me foam at the mouth. It is penny-a-lining twaddle - all of it; for he no more understands the matters of which he writes than I understand the higher mathematics. - Passons![8]

How is Mrs Whistler? I sincerely hope she is quite well again? They wrote me disquieting news of her health, & I read something in a paper, too, about her which made me very anxious. I wish you could find a few moments to give me out of your busy life -

I daren't call us friends - you will none of them - but at least allow me the natural affection & admiration of a pupil for his master. These sentiments urge me constantly to write my many unanswered letters - I cannot forget your teachings, help, & kindness. Gratitude is, really, almost a vice - luckily it is rare.

I have had one letter from you in 9 years, but it was a good one which made me feel that you might not be sorry to see [me] once more

Your ever faithful


p. s. Give my kindest remembrances to Mrs Whistler, & tell her to make you write me a line - address it to me at
R. I.

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1.  Robert Goodloe Harper Pennington
Robert Goodloe Harper Pennington (1854-1920), artist [more].

2.  your wife
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. She was seriously ill with cancer.

3.  The doctor
The remainder of the letter is written in pencil.

4.  Lena
Caroline Pennington (b. 1869), née de Wolf Theobald [more].

5.  George Moore's
George Moore (1852-1933), novelist and art critic [more].

6.  Modern painting
Moore, George, Modern Painting, London, 1893.

7.  Ruskin
John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more].

8.  Passons!
Fr., Let's pass by!