The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Peacock Room
Record 31 of 79

System Number: 02406
Date: 11 November 1876
Author: Thomas Jeckyll[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler J27
Document Type: ALS

11 Nov 1876

Dear Jim

I have notice the Dutchess [sic] of Wellington[2] to do [sic] look at Leylands house[3]. Can I have entirely to myself[.] I am drawing with precision and [p. 2] vast rapidity. The Lord God Jehovah does not let me touch a pen or pen [sic] or pencil without gripping my hand so tight so that it shakes and aches but I do not object[.] [p. 3] His majesty was by my side all last thursday and did 14 days lovely working drawings[4] designing every thing to my growing astonishment himself and one [of] [p. 4] the most beautiful drawings ever done was done in considerably less than 80 seconds

Is [it] not fine and grand that GOD ALMIGHTY should hold my hand all day and not to object to my smoking as I did faster and harder than ever I did in my life

[p. 5] HE stood by my right side all day and held my and held my [sic] right hand standing by my side as I [work on?] [p. 6] and singing psalm after Psalm and and [sic] tears of joy running all over the drawing - [which?] is how the [...] blew away for I was so hot. I also had an interview with the Devil in the night [5?] who took me on horseback [p. 7] to the charing cross telegraph and wrote a telegram telling my father that my letter to him of 30 pages telling I had the Jehovah at my side was to be burnt before he looked and God told my father the statement [p. 8] was a lie.

This is therefore a valuable letter to any one as it is written by Jehovah tho I hold the pen.

Yours truly

T. Jeckyll

This document is protected by copyright.


[embossed monogram:] '[SW?]'

[embossed:] 5 ST. GEORGE'S TERRACE,

James A. Whistler Esq
2. Lindsay [sic] houses
near Battersea Bridge
[postmark:] SOUTH KENSINGTON / S. W. / 1 3 / NO 11 / 76

[on verso flap, embossed roundel seal with two butterflies]

[on verso, upside-down:] Almighty God is always felt as present in my house and always will be

'letter of 11 Nov 1876'[5]


1.  Thomas Jeckyll
Thomas Jeckyll (1827-1881), architectural designer [more]. Jeckyll designed the original scheme for Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178), including the spindle shelving for F. R. Leyland's collection of blue and white porcelain (see note below) and was active until the early summer of 1876. However, Jeckyll became increasingly subject to bouts of manic psychosis during this period and his family were later obliged to commit him to a private asylum. For a more detailed discussion of Jeckyll's connection with JW and Leyland and his illness see Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, pp. 189-207 and 257-60.

2.  Dutchess of Wellington
Presumably a reference toElizabeth Wellesley (b. 1820), née Hay, wife of 2nd Duke of Wellington [more].

3.  Leylands house
The London home of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more] at 49, Prince's Gate. JW worked through the summer months on Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178), a decorative scheme for the dining room.

4.  drawings

5.  'letter of 11 Nov 1876'
In pencil, in an unknown hand.