The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Constant, T. C. J.
Record 27 of 32

System Number: 04697
Date: [14 January 1897][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: Paris
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P337
Document Type: ALS[3]

[monogram:] WH[4]


You are quite wrong Major -

though I know that women have always a better instinct than men - and the Major ought to know better than the General - only, by accident, I understand these people -

You say they are all "Frenchies" - and of that race, even the criminals are sentimental creatures -

If Mrs Willis[5] were caught red handed in robbery, of course, after the manner of her countrymen, she would go drunk to the gallows - silent, sodden and uncomplaining.

But mine are in full drama - grief stricken - and keenly feeling all that concerns the honour of the old Father.

[p. 2] It is no "cheek" my dear Major on the part of Louise[6] that makes her wish this or that for Mademoiselle - but simply the best feeling of her heart - the sort of thing that here you don't expect from a servant - and if you did, it would be ridiculous - for gin dont give it -

Now the prosecution business must be stopped - Tell Bunnie[7] that Wobbles[8] might say this to the Commissaire.

If there be the least hitch - though I doubt it - for clemency will be appreciated - then Ratier[9] will manage it - or, if necessary, I will come over - Of course this would be very trying to me - and perhaps serious -

The lithographs[10] you might pack nicely - quite flat - and send over to me at once - You say nothing about them - therefore, I suppose they are bad - I mean badly printed -

I shall write to Constant[11] or Louise or get you to do so directly - Meantime you had better send to Louise as I told you -

Always affectionately with many charming things to your Mother[12] -

The General -

I do hope you have a servant - I am in full British squallour [sic] and filth -

This document is protected by copyright.


'JAN. 14th 1897'

Mademoiselle Birnie-Philip
aux soins de
Monsieur McNeill Whistler
110. Rue du Bac
[postmark:] BEDFORD ST (SO) W. C. / 9 PM / JA 14 / 97

[envelope, embossed on verso:] 4, WHITEHALL COURT, S.W.


1.  [14 January 1897]
The postmark confirms the date added later by the recipient on the envelope.

2.  Rosalind Birnie Philip
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. JW called her 'Major' and himself 'General'.

3.  ALS
The letter was written in pencil.

4.  WH
The embossed yellow monogram on the notepaper of William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more]. His address is in blue on the envelope.

5.  Mrs Willis
Mrs Willis, JW's housekeeper at 8 Fitzroy Street [more], who apparently liked to drink gin.

6.  Louise
Louise, JW's servant at 110 rue du Bac [more].

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

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

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

10.  lithographs
JW had more or less given up lithography, but a few prints of models and of the Birnie Philips were made in 1897, ie. Portrait of a Young Woman [Miss Seton] (C.171), and Afternoon Tea (C.173).

11.  Constant
T. C. J. Constant, JW's servant and valet [more]. JW had dismissed him, and apparently he threatened to sue JW.

12.  Mother
Frances Philip (1824-1917), née Black, JW's mother-in-law [more].