UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02198
Date: 18 May 1855
Author: Frank Larned Hunt[1]
Place: Washington
Recipient: JW
Place: [Baltimore][2]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H294
Document Type: ALS


W City

May 18, 55

If it was not that I had nothing to do & felt disposed to spend those cents to find out something - for my own and - as usual - others especial use and benefit -? do you think you lazy careless 'neer do weel' Jamie that I wd squander the before mentioned fractional part of a dollar (together with my valuable time) to write again - ungrateful boy - to you - no - roast me in Sulpher blow me about in viewless winds break my pipe & take my books away if I would - but rememberest thou child of the cunning pencil - creative with many curls / some of them turning gray - signs of thy wickedness - rememberest thou where the pot of blacking you gave me came from - where it can be had - where was it made - & above all what is its name - all this I wd fain know - for I say unto yea verily - its the best I ever saw - it is good - it is fast disappearing - [p. 2] Charles[3] - he with the erect form & with chemical affinities, hath also an affinity for my blacking - (alas - poor youth that he might as easy procure another polish -) he devotes the little stone jar to his own peculiar leathers & I will soon "be left lamenting["] - beside Mrs Peter[4] who is staying here for a few days - blessed be God ( - a divine emanation from his effulgence) a woman who is well to look upon - & does all the talking (talking well too) she craves this 'unequalled' - & for her I would dive - yes - into a shop & get it if I knew where - so James - "in - damned spot[5]" - the blacking! -

Wretched boy I have heard of you - the Zouave Hetzell [6]- reads your inmost thoughts - Mechlin[7] deserted Mechlin - wild with despair - has spoken of Michado '& of North' [8]- the Spaniard knows the point of his stiletto in his rage his jealous rage & Mary[9] - weeps - 'Mechlin say' - you are smart but worthless well may you shrink - tis Florence[10] - injured Florence speaks - 'youre worthless" alas, that it should have come to this - 'worthless'

[p. 3] All this d-d nonsense aside - tell a fellow where you got that stuff - & what the deuce are you doing with yourself - do - let that unfortunate 'Madlle Arctic'[11] alone - her Father is a diciple [sic] of Cummings' theatre[12] Cummings - & could fulminate a destroying 'Bull' against you as easy as walk into her pew - which by the way you'll not walk into again in a hurry - the old man hates you in a Christian way - that is the worst way - & is the chap selected to hand you down a trifle or so of hot lead when you bellow down there up to him for water

Charlie has got (within the last few days) the most immense quantity of clothes, clothes of all colors - this morning he spoke of a new supply of shirts - by Monday I'll put him up to 'droors[13]' as the ones he had on this morning - / the inside [casing ?] to his brilliant pants had no seat to them - & produced an odd effect as he walked round the room with his long black hair & military [carriage?] the cause of all this 'new raiment' is a little girl from yr city - a Miss West[14] - [p. 4] the points of the compass seem to be the thing. I wonder if you'll compass your points - this Miss who has been staying over the way is nice looking - sings like an owlingale [sic] & (now the Saints preserve us) - has some - $300.000 - to the fore - as the Scotch say[.] West point[15] - works like a Beaver - church picnic party - visits - (he's working now) with his suave (Zouave) manners & melancholy gentleness - the mingling shades of warrior & Poet - meeting in such bland & soft effect, there is but one result - West[16] is done for - & - if riches spoil a man - Charlie's - gait may yet be changed into a haughty strut which God forbid -

I'm tired of this - it's all I had to say tho - in the way of news - or scandal - I suppose its scandal & I've been villainously abusive -

Washington looks nicely - the trees have got a lot of leaves upon them - & the Band practices [sic] bad music - at the White House & Capitol - it is sometimes agreeable to go up to the first named place & look at the people - I saw a child dance there once that amused me - it was on the grass & I did not know it could be done without wooden shoes - sabot[17] -

da' da' Jamie

F.


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Notes:

1.  Frank Hunt
Frank Larned Hunt (1825-1903), a friend of JW in Washington, DC [more]. Hunt had written to JW on 3 May 1855 (#02197), and wrote again on 15 June (#02199); no replies have been located and indeed JW probably did not reply.

2.  Baltimore
JW was probably painting in Baltimore, staying with Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more].

3.  Charles
Charles (possibly nicknamed 'Carlos'), an early friend of JW.

4.  Mrs Peter
Mrs Peter, a social acquaintance of AMW.

5.  damned spot
Lady Macbeth says 'Out, damned spot', in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

6.  Zouave Hetzell
Hetzell, an acquaintance of JW. The flashy Zouave uniform of the French infantry was adopted by a number of American regiments.

7.  Mechlin
Mechlin, an acquaintance of JW.

8.  Michado '& of North
Obscure allusion, not identified.

9.  Mary
Mary, a mutual friend of JW and Frank Hunt.

10.  Florence
Florence, an acquaintance of JW in Washington, DC.

11.  Madlle Arctic
This may mean a young lady who was cool towards JW. However, it could possibly be a reference to the loss of the steamship Arctic in September 1854 (see Newspaper boy: 'Terrible disaster! Loss of the Arctic!!' (M.183)). Among the people killed was a friend of JW's mother, Henry Hope Reed (1808-1854), lawyer, and Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania [more] (see A. M. Whistler to D. D. Haden, 10 December 1855, #06470).

12.  Cummings theatre
Cummings, theatre actor or manager.

13.  droors
Drawers.

14.  Miss West
Miss West, unidentified.

15.  West point
The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York State, where Whistler was a cadet 1851-1854.

16.  West
West, an acquaintance of JW in Washington, DC.

17.  sabot
Fr., wooden shoes or clogs.