The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Bell, Alexander Carlyle
Record 4 of 6

System Number: 00274
Date: [30 October 1902][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Nancy Regina Emily Bell[2]
Place: [Christchurch][3]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler B49a
Document Type: ALd[4]

George Bell[5] & Sons -
York St.
Covent Garden

Madame -

A copy of your correspondence with Mr Freer[6] of Detroit has been forwarded to me -

Permit me to present to you compliments of the most [unl?] astonished nature!

It is possible that I have It is not likely I suppose will admit that the Sly "Slates" of world wide much advertisement (Sneaking) & sinister repute, should from chivalrous impulse warning & reckless joy (pride) in his skill send forth a warning to his quarry, to [say?] that now he is about to begin!! But and And Alas! from yourself also I have had not a word or hint of your of your being on my path! track for some time past -

(? forlorn)[7]

But what sad stress of circumstances, from parlour to nursery could have brought you one of charming prestige to undertake This furtive digging & delving about - this spying, this prying - This peering through the key hole of the past!

Possibly the undertaking anxiety dread remor[s]e of such burglarious undertaking this entering into the house from the back door may in itself have exhausted your courage - or surely you would have hesitated to enter into the make make a [trafic?] of the privacy & life of

but think how I might have helped you."

shirking -[8]

Monographs - Phonographs - & what note of minor men! -

'I do not think this letter was ever sent but it is interesting. It was written by Mr Whistler himself. On the other side is a rough copy of another letter in Heinemann's[9] hand writing.

R. B. P.'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [30 October 1902]
Dated from JW's related reply to Bell, #00275.

2.  Nancy Regina Emily Bell
Nancy Regina Emily Bell (1844-1933), née Meugens, writer, wife of Arthur Bell [more]. JW had already received an approach from Bernhard Sickert (1862-1932), painter of landscape and still life, author [more] in June 1902, proposing to write a book about him for the same publishers, George Bell (#05419). Nancy Bell (no apparent relation) appears to have been Messrs Bell's second choice. The Bell publication was eventually published after JW's death (Bell, Nancy R. E., James McNeill Whistler, by Mrs Arthur Bell, London, 1904). Sickert's book was also published but by a different firm, Duckworth's (Sickert, Bernhard, Whistler, London and New York, 1908). For an account of this episode see Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Whistler Journal, Philadelphia, 1921, pp. 258-61.

3.  ALd
This transcription is taken from a larger document in which JW has written draft letters to Nancy Bell and her publishers, George Bell and Sons, on the one sheet. See also JW's draft letter to George Bell and Sons, #10314. The final versions of the letters are at #00275 and #00287. Also enclosed with the larger document is printed publicity for 'Bell's Miniature Series of Painters'.

4.  [Christchurch]
Due to boundary changes, Christchurch and Southbourne are now in Dorset.

5.  George Bell...Covent Garden
Added in pencil.

6.  Mr Freer
Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more]. See his letter to JW, 15 October 1902, #01536.

7.  (? forlorn) (noisome)
Written in left margin.

8.  shirking...minor men! -
Added at the top of the page.

9.  Heinemann's
William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more]. Heinemann's letter is missing.