The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Vanderbilt, Edith Stuyvesant
Record 16 of 24

System Number: 04826
Date: [5 November 1901][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Ethel Whibley[2]
Place: Paris
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P466
Document Type: ALS[3]

'Nov. 5. 01'


I direct this to you Bunnie because of the other registered one

This I fancy is the key Major[4] of the little table drawer in the salon - It had better be wiped with a little oil before trying the lock as I see it is slightly rusty -

I don't get over the Ratier[5]! Do you suppose he is sulking & stubborn? - Certainly it is most irritating - especially as I cannot put my nose out of doors yet, because of this apalling [sic] fog! like a huge coarse brown canvas pulled down over the town - & drawn tight - that we may choke and smother & gasp under it! This is the third day of it! - and sad! sad! sad!!- While what it is at the studio........!!! - and there you see, in the hole of the pigeon, is this infernal paper Kennedy[6] brought over! & for the life of me at this moment, I can't even think what it is - or why the "premier clerc"[7] foisted it upon OK, from among the others in the dossier! As I asked you last night, [p. 2] can you Major? Just tell me, tomorrow, what you remember about it, and what the man's reason was for not giving up the dossier - I hope I shall find, with the paper, OK's letter all right - You tell me that Boddington [sic][8] has written again to Ratier - so you have of course coached him & insisted that the "dossier", has never been given[9] up - & that the leases, and all the rest, are, or ought to be, in the keeping of Ratier - & that I must hold him responsible for them - Boddington & Kelly[10] are, after all, the right way of approach ones to deal with this matter which is simple business - so I shall write to them -

And now Bunnie, you who have the wonderful "flair" for finding things, do put your hand on the old dossier of the Eden[11] affair that was in the charge of the other, good looking, Avoné, of the Cour d'Appel - You remember that when we wanted back the Valentines, the clerc brought me the dossier itself - and then I found in the carton, the long missing check or letter of credit from Messrs Webb's[12] bankers to Ratier - providing him with the £105- to be paid into Court at the very opening of the case. Of this letter of credit Ratier never took any heed! although it was accompanied by Mr Webbs note to himself, and also by a letter from Maitre Beurdeley[13] to Webb explaining the necessity of immediate attention to the matter - So that the hundred guineas were never paid into Court at all! and When, four years after, I gained the case by appeal, and the order of the first Judge to return the hundred guineas was confirmed, I had to pay the four years interest as well! Also our side was obliged to listen to the sarcasms of the opposite counsel upon Mr Whistler's often repeated intention [p. 3] of paying back the Baronets 100 guineas - but that nothing of them had been seen! -

And finally, when all was over, and I had drawn out a new cheque and accepted the ineptness of the situation, I found, myself, [illegible line] this buried, unused, letter of credit, together with the official translation, of Mr Webb's letters, in the depths of the Cour d'Appel's returned dossier, to which it was consigned by Ratier, and in which it was never even looked for by the new lawyer who every day, through the trial, calmly sat on it!! -

All this to show how the cares of the Nation have interfered with the attention to my business - ! - and this sudden inability to find the leases and papers entrusted to the Sénateur is like his continued declaration that he had never had the letter of credit - You can tell this to Mr Kelly, Major, when you hand him the original long lost papers - Tell him too that he will find it all beautifully & most delicately told in "the Baronet[14] & the Butterfly", in the marginal notes around Me Bureau's[15] speech - But I was always 'bon Prince' to Ratier, because I like him, and I contented myself with the other man who also deserved it - But this of the missing lease is too bad! - and it must be found -

The glove has come, and most excellent Major ! - And now why have you never said a word about my letters? - You might as well never have had them - Yes the copper plates may come with the "backgrounds" - for besides the Violet curtains I should like the pair [p. 4] of green that belong to the Atelier and were meant for the smaller window but are now down, probably on one of the sofas - I have had them over here before - and they are the background to Cowan's[16] picture - & to Mrs Vanderbilts[17] & Mr Heinemann's[18] too -

And you must tell me something about yourselves And Bunnie might I think say something -

I cannot be supporting so much silent and unmurmuring virtue and suffering goodness!! -

I am glad I have written as complete an explan and clear a statement of the letter of credit & Ratier, for you can have it for reference if required but upon reflection I think you can just give the outline only to Kelly, referring him the Baronet book which he has, that he may understand without being alarmed at my "reserved forces"! - See more of the Adams[19], I think, for anything about Carmen[20] - - Have you called on Madame Ferraud[21]? And one day Miss Roubell[22]?!

[left margin of p. 4] with many things to you both,

the General

This document is protected by copyright.


Madame Whibley -
110. Rue du Bac
Faubourg St Germain
[postmark:] LONDON / 9.15 PM / NO 5 / 01


1.  [5 November 1901]
Dated from the postmark, and from the date added at the top of the letter in another hand. 'Tuesday' did indeed fall on 5 November in 1901.

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

3.  ALS
The envelope has a mourning border.

4.  Major
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. See her letters of 3 and 4 November 1901, #04822, #04824.

5.  Ratier
Antoine ('Antony') Ratier (b. 1851), lawyer and politician [more].

6.  Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more].

7.  the premier clerc
Fr., senior clerk.

8.  Bodington
Oliver Eaton Bodington (1859-after 1936), barrister and author [more].

9.  never been given
Double underlined.

10.  Kelly
Kelly, lawyer, partner in Boddington and Kelly.

11.  Eden
Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more].

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

13.  Maitre Beurdeley
Alfred Beurdeley (1847-1919), collector [more].

14.  Me Bureau's
Presumably an advocate.

15.  the Baronet
Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: the Baronet & the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, London, 1898.

16.  Cowan's
John James Cowan (1846-1936), paper manufacturer and collector [more].

17.  Mrs Vanderbilts
Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt (1873-1958), née Dresser, wife of G. W. Vanderbilt [more].

18.  Mr Heinemann's
William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more].

19.  Adams
Clifford Isaac Addams (1876-1942), etcher [more], and Inez Eleanor Addams (fl. 1898-1927), née Bate, painter [more].

20.  Carmen
Carmen Rossi, model, proprietess of the Académie Carmen [more].

21.  Madame Ferraud
Mme A. Férraud, a friend or neighbour of JW at 110 rue du Bac.

22.  Miss Reubell
Henrietta T. Reubell (ca 1839-after 1904), wealthy American hostess [more].