The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 04737
Date: [13 August 1898][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: [Gorey Pier][3]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P377
Document Type: ALS

'Written between August 5th and 16th 1898.'

[Chatham coat of arms with motto:] BENIGNO NUMINE

Well, my dear Major,

I am glad that you have found a place that is really what you like - and that you are not all still wandering in uncertainty!

Of course I could say absolutely nothing in reply to your telegram - except absolutely what I did! - All right!! though as far as I know, it might have been all wrong! -

However thats all excellent now -

Selah! and Alibazan![4]

[p. 2] I have been awfully pushed - and worked and desperately driven -

Eugenie[5] has been very good - She brings the letters every morning to the Hotel and carries things in the way of change back to the house -

Then she comes up to the Studio and cooks the déjeuner - and again in the evening at five o'clock turns up to wash the brushes! - So really she is most faithful -

Carmen[6] has appeared upon the scene - and by way of improving the occasion, I [p. 3] made her give Euphrasie[7] a lesson in the colouring of the brushes! - Perfect!

I only got down to the Rue du Bac this evening - on the way back to the studio -

Old Rouvière[8] quite beamed at the sight of me! Euphrasie says that there has been no more shaking! since! -

Ratiers[9] letter must have had an effect - ! I will send it to you -

You had better write to Euphrasie about the garden - I didnt know exactly what orders to give - The grass looks badly burned - ought not the gardner to see to it? -

[p. 4] I am going down to Mallarmé[10] tomorrow morning and if I find him, shall probably stay over Monday - as I am not much on "Fetes[11]"!

On Tuesday or Wednesday I propose to get off to London - where I may stay a week or so -

Vanderbilt[12] is most enthusiastic about his picture[13]! - But of this more "later on" - I have dined several times with the Vanderbilts - and this morning gave them all - which means the Sister[14] and the French lady[15] as well - a little breakfast at the Café de la Pérouse - most successful[16]! -

I have never found the little key to the dressing case! and I am sure you never could have given it back to me! - Perhaps you may have it with you - and you may find it as you did your watch!

Write and let me know how you all get on - for I am awfully tired tonight and go to bed at once!

My best messages to
Your Mama[17] and all of you.

The General -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [13 August 1898]
The sequence of days mentioned (in Rosalind Birnie Philip's hand) suggests this date, shortly before the next letter of 16 August 1898 (#04738).

2.  Rosalind Birnie Philip
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. JW called her 'Major' and himself 'General'.

3.  [Gorey Pier]
Gorey Pier is at St Martin's, Jersey in the Channel Islands (see also #04738).

4.  Selah! and Alibazan!
'Selah' is a biblical term used in the Psalms that invites the reader to pause and reflect on the message. 'Alibazan' suggests a magic incantation.

5.  Eugenie
Eugénie, JW's servant in Paris.

6.  Carmen
Carmen Rossi, model, proprietess of the Académie Carmen [more].

7.  Euphrasie
Euphrasie, JW's servant at 110 Rue du Bac.

8.  Old Rouvière
Rouvière, a servant or concièrge at 110 rue du Bac.

9.  Ratiers
Antoine ('Antony') Ratier (b. 1851), lawyer and politician [more]. He had stopped a neighbour from shaking carpets. The letter has not been located.

10.  Mallarmé
Stephanie Françoise Geneviève Mallarmé (1864-1919), later Mme Bonniot [more].

11.  Fetes
14 July is Bastille Day in France.

12.  Vanderbilt
George Washington Vanderbilt (1862-1914), collector [more].

13.  picture
Portrait of George W. Vanderbilt (YMSM 481).

14.  the Sister
Presumably one of George Vanderbilt's four sisters.

15.  the French lady
Not identified.

16.  most successful
'most successful! - ... get on' was written in the left margin and 'for I am ... General' in the right margin, at right angles to the main text.

17.  Your Mama
Frances Philip (1824-1917), née Black, JW's mother-in-law [more].