The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: war
Record 9 of 44

System Number: 04752
Date: [20 October 1899][1]
Author: JW
Place: Dieppe
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P392
Document Type: ALS[3]


'Oct 20th 1899.'

My dear Major -

I was delighted with your letter this morning - Certainly you seem to have done wonders in the way of being all over the place! - and in taking the enemy by surprise - - a sort of flank movement on the Christine[4] and carrying off Webb's[5] baggage waggons. -

All right Major! - they don't appear to have done any thing half so brilliant among the British "out there[6]" - [p. 2] I notice, by the way, that the English papers take no further interest in the yacht race[7] since the "Colombia" entirely outsailed her challenger, and since again, on the second occasion, the "Shamrock" came all to pieces and turned into the old jam pot again - like the coach & four in the Cinderella pantomine!! -

So I must send you the proper description of those two beautiful victories from the New York Herald -

By the way again - I do hope you put in the trunk the two "Daily Mails" Mrs. Pennell[8] sent me with George Stevens'[9] report from Rennes giving away Dreyfus[10] - completely ? -

If you have any doubt tell Teddie[11] to go tomorrow to the Daily Mail Office, and buy, for me, two numbers of the paper, for Tuesday[12] the 5th or 6th - (or somewhere about there), of Sept. 1899 - Cut Stevens' article out, and send it, in an Envelope, to me:
Hotel Chatham. Rue Daunou. Paris
to be kept till called for -

Now I think Webb ought to see the enclosed from Christine! and it all comes so pat after your conversation! -

You might say that something ought to be done and perhaps he, Mr Webb, would be the right one to say that Mrs Anderson would do well to come up to town and together with Mr Gilmer[13] come to a complete understanding, and get us out of the tangle she originally got us into! -

[p. 3] I find I have the various keys of the Studio here, in large trunk. - so thats all right! - or rather all wrong, for I wish I had found them and given them to you! -

I am awfully sleepy[14]!!! and can scarcely see - So, while I know that I have still lots of things to say to you, I had better let this go now

Madame Lefèvre[15] always asks after you - & so I had to make [it up?]

Write tomorrow -

With kindest messages to all,

J McNeill Whistler

The "red shop[16]" is getting something wonderful!

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [20 October 1899]
The date was written on the letter by the recipient.

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

3.  ALS
Written in pencil.

4.  Christine
Mrs Christine Anderson, manager of the 'Company of the Butterfly' [more]. See her letter of 9 October 1899 to H. Wunderlich and Co., #00681.

5.  Webb's
William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more].

6.  out there
The British forces in the Transvaal were involved in the Boer War (1899-1902).

7.  yacht race
A cup given by the Royal Yacht Squadron for an international race in 1851 was won by the US yacht America. It was presented to the New York Yacht Club and became known as the Americas Cup. From 1887 people began to build yachts specifically for the Americas Cup. It was a biennial race between the holder (usually an American) and the challenger. In 1899, 1901 and 1903 Sir Thomas Lipton built three very costly and extreme vessels, Shamrock 1, 2 and 3. Shamrock 1 lost the first of three races in 1899. In the second race, on 17 October 1899, she carried away topmasts and withdrew.

8.  Mrs. Pennell
Elizabeth Robins Pennell (1855-1936), née Robins, JW's biographer [more].

9.  Mr Pennell
Joseph Pennell (1860-1926), printer and illustrator, JW's biographer [more].

10.  George Stevens'
George Warrington Steevens (1869-1900), writer and journalist [more].

11.  Dreyfus
Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), army officer [more]. Dreyfus had been courtmartialed and convicted of treason. His appeal was heard by a military court and his case was mishandled. Dreyfus himself appeared in court on 7 August and witnesses were heard from 12 August. The verdict was given on 9 September, confirming the verdict against Dreyfus. This was however overturned on appeal.

12.  Teddie
Edward Godwin (b. 1876), son of Beatrix and E. W. Godwin; JW's step-son [more].

13.  Tuesday
Double underlined.

14.  Mr Gilmer
J. W. Gilmer, employee or associate of William Heinemann [more]; see JW's letters to Gilmer, 20 September and 15 October [1899], #09847 and #13409.

15.  sleepy
Triple underlined.

16.  Madame Lefèvre
Mme Lefèvre, Dieppe landlady [more].

17.  red shop
This sentence was written in the left margin of p. 1. The picture may have been A Shop with a Balcony (YMSM 526).