UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Document associated with: Menzies (fl. 1901)
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System Number: 04045
Date: 31 October 1901
Author: Menzie, Black and Menzies[1]
Place: Edinburgh
Recipient: John James Cowan[2]
Place: Edinburgh
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler M316
Document Type: MsL


LONDON OFFICE,

6 UNION COURT,
OLD BROAD STREET, E. C.

123. GEORGE STREET,
EDINBURGH
TELEGRAPHIC ADDRESS,
"CHURCH, EDINBURGH."
TELEPHONE 2054.

31st. October 1901

Dear Sir,

You have mentioned to us Mr Whistler's request that you should write to Mr Reid[3] making some enquiry with reference to certain pictures purchased by you from Mr Reid with regard to which Mr Whistler has certain suspicions.

You have stated to us your anxiety to do all you can to aid Mr Whistler, but we feel that your writing Mr Reid would be entirely out of accord with what is usual in Scotland.

On this side the border, if any one has reason to suspect foul play of any kind the invariable practice is to put the matter in the hands of the Public Prosecutor, who at once, at the public expense and without risk to any [p. 2] one involved, undertakes the necessary investigations, and if there be a prima facie case of guilt, undertakes the whole prosecution.

This position of the law in Scotland causes it to be practically unknown for any private individual to interfere in any way in criminal proceedings. The Courts would not readily protect anyone who interfered in such a matter, and it would be difficult to frame a letter to Mr Reid which would be serviceable to Mr Whistler and which would not make it possible for Mr Reid to endeavour to make out an innuendo that he was particeps criminis.

If Mr Whistler has reason to suspect Mr Reid as being in any way implicated, he should inform the Public Prosecutor here, with every confidence that the matter will be fully and judiciously investigated [p. 3] without expense to him.

We are,
Yours faithfully

Menzies Black & Menzies

J. J. Cowan Esq.
Westerlea,
Murrayfield.


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Notes:

1.  Menzies Black and Menzies
Firm of solicitors.

2.  John James Cowan
John James Cowan (1846-1936), paper manufacturer and collector [more]. Cowan forwarded this letter to JW on 2 November (#00752).

3.  Mr Reid
Alexander Reid (1854-1936), Glasgow dealer [more]. Reid seems to have received works taken from JW's studio in Paris before July 1901 (see JW to J. J. Cowan, #00746). Cowan had purchased Alice Butt (2) (YMSM 438) and The Bridesmaid (YMSM 487) from Reid in April 1900 for £450 and £135 respectively but later became suspicious of the signature. JW believed that the pictures had been worked on by someone else (#00746; see also JW's response to Cowan and this letter, 10 November 1901, #00754.