The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1878
Record 11 of 11

System Number: 12484
Date: 31 July 1879
Author: Anne Benson Procter[1]
Place: North Berwick
Recipient: George Forrest[2]
Repository: Huntington Library, San Marino, CA
Credit Line: © The Huntington Library
Document Type: ALS

The Lodge
North Berwick, N. B.

July 31 - 1879

My dear George -

I had (in London) a visit from your brother who brought me the good news that you have a son, may he resemble his father - the next will be a girl - and I can then make the same remark about her Mother - you see I am already prepared.

It is a long time since I wrote to your Wife - and I have to thank her for a good long Letter - I heard from Robert that he is going to be married! to a Miss Parsons whom he has known seven years! why has he waited so long? - when I marry it will be a new acquaintance - Not Browning or Kinglake - - but I have not seen any nice young men lately - except Henry James Junior[3] - you will know his Novels - if you dont make haste & read them. They are first rate. He is a great friend of ours - - We have had a long dismal Winter - We have had [fires?] & darkness - no fruit, it was the last week in July when Strawberries appeared in the Shops for 1/ a basket - We all wore our Winter cloaks - then people are poor. the farmers [throwing?] up their Farms - and the Landlords reducing their rents. Then the War - all the married Men Volunteering - the Railways having few passengers - .

I went to a Ball at G. Smiths Feb - fell down some temporary steps & sprained both my Ankles - kept my bed a week & my sofa three - got well - what went [p. 2] about again and a month afterwards had a rheumatic attack - what [at?] some generally [feeling?] a sprain - We have all been mad about the French actors - Many people talked about them until one was weary[.] You know how in London we talk things to death - The Pollocks!. They asked two of the best men actors and then treated them to recitation by Irving of Eugene Aram - they not understanding one single word of English! and to a long English poem by Walter Pollock - see how the poor french suffer! Lady Pollock says her head [was] worse & worse - I have seen Pollock very little this year - I like him much and I have made the acquaintance of his fiancée who is tall & handsome - and exceedingly pleasant, and that indescribable air that high breeding & society gives -

We have been poorly off for books. the poverty of the Times has kept the booksellers quiet. I see Anthony Trollope frequently - he is always pleasant and his dinners are good both in respect to Society & food -

The Grosvenor Gallery[4] (I forget whether it was open when you were here) has been open on Sunday afternoons by Invitation from Lady Lindsay[5], and the meetings here charming - All the world there and amongst them the Artist world - Watts - Holman Hunt[6] - etc. Then on one Monday Eve: as all went in our best frocks and I never saw a prettier party - the dark red walls made a good background - and the famous beauties looked [p. 3] better than usual -

I begin to despair of Montagu getting any promotion[.] Lord Lytton has now only a year, and a half more - what I feel is if he never meant to send him, he should not have promised -

My dear Bancrofts are leasing the Prince of Wales' Theatre for which I am very sorry - but I suppose they know their own affairs best - I am so glad that Annie is so pleased with [Hopy?] - She is a clever good girl with charming manners - Montagu writes & praises her greatly - adding that her Whist playing is so good. Katie Montagu is at Norwood, your brother very kindly went to meet her at Southhampton. How will she like his marriage?. She looks thin & plainer than ever - - She is singularly uninteresting to me -

I shall hope to hear from you - Perhaps I am jealous of Katie. She tells me you have written her a long letter - The Wife will now have no time - Last Autumn I went to Paris just to see the Great Exhibition. There we staid [sic] three weeks and frightfully hot we were - we then went to Switzerland we were disappointed - We were at Lausanne - Lucerne - [word illegible] - Berne - Geneva - & finally settled at a Place called [Glion?] above Montreaux - the Blumenthals have a chalet near there and we met continually - Above our Hotel was a white marble chalet covered with Roses in which lived some Russians - Mama & three young daughters. They [p. 4] smoked but were highly educated & one of them beautiful.

Browning the faithful continues to come Sunday after Sunday. Have you read his last books - Whistler we have made friends with. He & his white feather. I see nothing I like now so well as what you took us to see - - He has a Picture in the Grosvenor that would disgrace any Man. a figure size of life - a girl dancing - She has flesh coloured stockings & yellow boots - and a very short jacket - I do not share its indecency & I [abominate?] uglyness Miss Connie Gilcrist[7] [sic].

You know how much we like this place - we are so happy here - We have had enough of our fellow creatures for some time. Mrs [Boyne?] & her daughter are well - Just the same as when you left - only a little fatter & older. Miss Taylor - the tall one - has been having "a good time" as the Americans say. She has been in waiting upon the Princess Frederica of Hanover - and has been staying at Windsor & dining with the Queen - your Photographer [Fall?] has made an excellent Photo of Edith and one of me - for which he ought to be whipped - None of my friends will accept one - I squint - I have one side of my face [five or more words illegible] Perhaps he has too much to do. How good yours is -

What is your Sons [sic] name - I hope not George - If so you will be old George very soon. All the great people in London received Sara Bernhardt[8]. She is an actress - not a good woman. Sir F. Pollock s[ai]d on being asked if he & Lady P. had received her, "What would they say in Paris, if I did!["] as if Paris ever thought of him - or his morals? - It is hardly necessary to say S. B. would not have gone - having all London at her feet - - My love to your Wife.

Yr aff

Anne B. Procter

[p. 1] Edith sends her love & congratulations - She hopes little young George is not to be a literary Man!!!!!

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1.  Anne Benson Procter
Anne Benson Procter (1799-1888), writer [more].

2.  George Forrest
Colonel George Forrest (1846-1904), army officer [more].

3.  Henry James Junior
Henry James (1843-1916), writer [more].

4.  Grosvenor Gallery
3rd Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1879.

5.  Lady Lindsay
Caroline Blanche Elizabeth, Lady Lindsay (1844-1912), née Fitzroy, artist and poetess, co-founder of the Grosvenor Gallery [more].

6.  Watts - Holman Hunt
George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), painter and sculptor [more], and William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), artist [more].

7.  Miss Connie Gilcrist
JW exhibited five oils including Harmony in Yellow and Gold: The Gold Girl - Connie Gilchrist (YMSM 190) (cat. no. 55) at the Grosvenor exhibition in 1879.

8.  Sara Bernhardt
Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), née Henrietta Rosine Bernard, actress [more].