The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Constant, T. C. J.
Record 29 of 32

System Number: 04699
Date: [16 January 1897][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: Paris
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P339
Document Type: ALS

[monogram:] WH[3]

S. W.

Saturday evening -

My very dear Major,

for an exceedingly clear headed Major, you sometimes manage to be a wee bit bewildering - if I may say so! -

Now at this moment, 7 o'clock at night, comes your letter telling me that you are still waiting for my oppinion [sic] of the writings of Constant & Louise[4]! I wrote to you on Thursday my complete view of the case - and pointed [p. 2] out, for your guidance, thate difference in nature between the stoic criminal of this "tight" little island, whose road from the pewter pot to the gallows is straight! - without words and nonsense - and the emotional "Frenchie", unstupified by drink and still feeling keenly both sorrow for the fault, and gratitude for the "honourable name" spared - Of course here these things are "not expected of servants" -

Constant's letter then, I consider most genuine - he has been an ass and has behaved abominably - and he says so -

Louise's letter is most touching - and quite pretty in its simple statement - I wish certainly that all proceedings should at once be stopped - There is no use pursuing Nancie[5] for her thefts - Wobbles[6] and Bunnie[7] I am sure will be of this opinion - for in attempting to punish her the court would of course have to call Constant & Louise - You see Constant did not give Nancie Bunnie's skirt and various bits out of her Mistresses' wardrobe - Nancy stole them - and having stolen those, she is the thief - and no new thief need be found to steal the rest - Constants story is quite straight - with the details of his absence at the atelier, while Nancy remained packing at the Rue du Bac - and then she stole the lace and jet - and months afterwards it is found in her box - Simple as possible - and however monstrously outrageous has been, in his assish intimacy, [p. 3] with that advanced lady, the conduct of Constant, nothing at any moment has ever betrayed the least sign of criminal guilt or troubled discrepancy in his demeanour -

[sketch of housekeeper[8]] My honest native - bringing in the tea! -

No "decietful [sic] ways" in the Willis's[9]!! - all open - & straightforward there!

Now my dear Major write tomorrow and tell have you or have you not had Thursdays letter - and yesterdays - and this one also -

Why too do you keep on writing for more lithographs? It is very unkind of you! I think I shall make you no more little drawings!

[p. 1]Kindest[10] messages to you all

the General

As to the velvet I wish I could get it myself -

This document is protected by copyright.


'Jan. 16. 97.'

Mademoiselle Birnie-Philip
aux soins de
Monsieur McNeill Whistler
110. Rue du Bac
[postmark:] CONTINENTAL NIGHT [MAIL?] / * / JA16 / 97

[on verso:]
S. W.


1.  [16 January 1897]
Dated from the postmark. The date was also written on the envelope 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.  WH
Yellow embossed (on the paper) and blue (on the envelope) monogramed notepaper of William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more]. The monogram was almost certainly designed by JW (see Designs for monograms for William and Magda Heinemann (M.1534)).

4.  Constant & Louise
T. C. J. Constant, JW's servant and valet [more]; Louise, JW's servant at 110 rue du Bac [more]. JW had discussed their guilt in a letter on 4 January (#04697).

5.  Nancie
Nancie, possibly the servant of Ethel Whibley or JW.

6.  Wobbles
Charles Whibley (1859-1930), writer and journalist [more].

7.  Bunnie
Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), née Philip, JW's sister-in-law [more].

8.  sketch of housekeeper
Mrs Willis bringing in the tea (M.1502).

9.  Willis's
Mrs Willis, JW's housekeeper at 8 Fitzroy Street [more].

10.  Kindest
Continued in the left margin.