UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Victoria and Albert Museum
Record 4 of 5

System Number: 09298
Date: [September 1892][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac[2]
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Frick Collection, New York
Call Number: A1847a, b
Document Type: ALS[3]


86 Rue Notre Dame des Champs,
Paris.

Cher Poète!

nous sommes enchanté - comme vous le disait notre dépêche[4] - et comme vous l'aviez diviné bien surement avant de la recevoir -

Vous faites les surprises à l'Aladin! comme de juste - et le splendide cadeau du beau lit Empire[5] qui ne pouvait sortir que de sa lampe magique, va bien au delà de toutes les esperances qu'aurait pu nous dicter ou l'envie de l'amitié, ou la patience efrénée, même de Collectioneurs comme nous! - [p. 2] J'allais dire aussi que je reconnais également la jolie vengeance du Poète pour les "soixante scéances[6]" - dont je ne me doubtais guère - et qui sont maintenant inscrites, à tout jamais, sur mon dossier - mais ce moment de joie n'est point celui des remords - et nous ne voulons songer qu'au superbe présent que nous fait notre charmant ami!

Je viens à la surface, un instant, pour vous dire ces choses - bien faiblement - jusqu'a ce que nous nous retrouvons - & immédiatement je replonge dans le goufre de mystère où nous nous sommes tenu cachés depuis si long temps - pour disparaître encore une fois - car nous aussi nous achevons des surprises!

Pour les reste - vous me dites beaucoup de choses gracieuses et aimables dans votre lettre[7] - et quant à votre part - c'est parfait -

Quant à la mienne - et bien comme vous le dites, "soixante scéances" c'est beaucoup, mais ce n'est pas assez! ainsi mon cher ami, à notre prochaine rentrée! -

Mistress Beatrix[8], qui a été ces derniers temps souffrante, ou sa lettre accompagnerait la mienne, me charge de mille messages les plus choisis en attendant qu'elle vous écrive "ses impressions" elle-même! -

Il n'était pas difficile O! Poète d'être [p. 3] bon prophète! - mais vous devriez nous envoyer le Gaulois[9].

Pour vous donner l'example je vous mets à la poste une petite continuation du "Gentle Art[10]" dans le National Observer[11] -

[butterfly signature]


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

Dear Poet!

We are enchanted - as our missive said - and as you had surely guessed before receiving it -

You produce surprises like Aladin and rightly so - and the splendid gift of an Empire boatbed that could only have come from your magic lamp, equals and goes far beyond all the hopes that could have aroused in us either the envy of friendship, or the unbridled patience, even of Collectors like ourselves! - [p. 2] I was going to say too that I recognize as well the lovely vengeance of the Poet for the "sixty sessions" - that I never doubted - and which are now inscribed, for ever and ever, in my file, - but this moment of joy is scarcely that of regret - and we want to think only of the superb present that our charming friend has sent us!

I come to the surface, for an instant, to tell you these things - rather weakly - until we meet again - and immediately I again immerse myself into the abyss of mystery where we have been under an obligation to hide for a long time - to disappear again - because we also achieve surprises!

For the rest - you tell me many gracious and friendly things in your letter - and as for your part - that is perfect -

As for mine - and just as you put it, "sixty sessions" is a lot, but not enough!! and so my dear friend, until our next coming together! -

Mistress Beatrix, who has been ill of late, or her letter would have accompanied mine, asks me to convey a thousand choice messages while awaiting that she write you "her impressions" herself! -

It will not be difficult O! Poet who is [p. 3] a prophet! - but you must send us le Gaulois.

To give you an example I'm putting in the post for you a little continuation of "the Gentle Art" in the National Observer -

[butterfly signature]


Notes:

1.  [September 1892]
Dated by the sequence of correspondence (see #04153, #13623, #13593, #04132; there is also an undated draft of this letter, #04152.

2.  Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac
Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855-1921), Symbolist writer and poet, and collector [more].

3.  ALS
Published in Newton, Joy, La Chauve-Souris et le Papillon. Correspondance Montesquiou-Whistler, Glasgow, 1990, no. 103, pp. 191-94, from a copy of the original, #03015. Partial translation published in Munhall, Edgar, Whistler and Montesquiou. The Butterfly and the Bat, New York, 1995, p. 81.

4.  depeche
Not located.

5.  beau lit Empire
Montesquiou gave the Whistlers an Empire bed that is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. See his letter to JW, #04153.

6.  soixante sceances
Montesquiou had posed over a long period for Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (YMSM 398).

7.  votre lettre
Not located.

8.  Beatrix
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. See her letter of thanks, #03261.

9.  Gaulois
A favourable review of Montesquiou, Robert de, 'Les Chauves-Souris, Clairs-Obscurs,' Deuxième ouvrage carminale Comte Robert de Montesquiou, Paris, 1892 ?, had appeared in Le Gaulois, 17 August 1892, signed 'Gandarax'.

10.  Gentle Art
A letter such as had been published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890.

11.  National Observer
See Whistler, James McNeill, [Letter to J. W. Beck], The National Observer: A Record and Review, no. 195, (new series), vol. 8, 13 August 1892, p. 326, #02705.