The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Mewburn, Frank F.
Record 2 of 11

System Number: 04363
Date: 13 March 1882
Author: Samuel Wreford Paddon [1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P1
Document Type: ALS[2]

Union Bank Chambers
Holborn Circus

13 March 1882 -

Dear Whistler,

Your letter was delayed in reaching me in consequence of your having sent it here, instead of to Woodlands where I have been since I last saw you, hence my not replying earlier:

Now, with reference to the letter which you have sent to Mr Jack MacNay[3] - First - in courtesy to myself you should have sent it for my approval before you posted it - Second - it is not as far as my memory serves me a true record of what actually occurred between Howell[4] & yourself in this matter -

Howell did not say that they were in the habit of calling Mr Mewburn's[5] place at Darlington, or "some tavern that they frequented" - Hughenden, what he did say was that he and Jack MacNay had spoken of Mewburn as Old Beaconsfield - Howell himself having taken to calling Lanes Hotel Hughenden. -

It is quite true that Howell said he was under the impression that the letter was to Jack, but it is equally true that before you produced it [p. 2] he said it was just possible that it might have been written to Tom[6], but that it was so long ago that he could not now distinctly remember -

Now as to what took place between you and me which led to you writing to Mr J. MacNay on the subject - When Howell and myself amongst others were your guests on Thursday last you asked him what he meant by writing the letter referred to about Beaconsfield and he gave an explanation which appeared to me quite satisfactory, but which you, the host evidently not only did not accept, but showed most clearly you did not credit - I was the more surprised at this knowing the intimate terms on which you and Howell have lived for nearly twenty years and I said, speaking to you the easiest way to settle it will be for you to write to Mr Jack MacNay and ask him if Mr Mewburn was ever spoken of between Howell and him as Beaconsfield - To this you made no reply at the time, but after breakfast when Mr Miles[7] asked you whether you meant to write - you [p. 3] replied "why certainly". -

Now you are a very much older friend of Howells than I am, and I feel assured it would give you equal if not greater pleasure than it would me to get a direct and impartial reply from Mr J. MacNay; such a reply as would at once settle the question as to what was intended to be conveyed by the letter. - and I want to point out how, inadvertently I have no doubt, on your part, and being engrossed as you are in your work, the Great Master has written in such a way to Mr McNay as to put him in a most awkward position and to cause him to give anything but an impartial reply - Your letter shows that his brother is acting in concert with you -, otherwise the letter in dispute could not be in your possession - a fact which may embarrass Mr MacNay in his reply to you - Your next paragraph commencing "when called upon to explain etc etc" appears to show that Howell at your table & your guest was put upon his trial, when as a matter of fact his veracity should be as unimpeachable as yours or mine. - You go on to say "that [p. 4] he pretended something" - he pretended nothing and the explanation he gave was amply verified by the letter which you then drew from your pocket and which he had written several years ago - Then you go on to give your views of the statement he made by describing them as "ingenious and fantastic", showing that you and his brother are against him; further you go on to say that you would like a letter from Mr Mewburn, the unfortunate subject of all this matter in dispute, to say that he was at this time jocularly called by Howell 'Old Beaconsfield['] - There was nothing said as to Mr Mewburn's confirming this and I hold that it is most unkind to draw him into the matter at all -

I have now given you the reasons why I think your letter to Mr MacNay is not a fair and reasonable acceptance of my suggestion to you, when it was forced on me to defend your friend of so many years standing -

Meanwhile, in all amity our united effort shall be either to prove our mutual friend to be the most truthful [p. 5] as well as the most faithful and unselfish of men - this he has been to me at all events, and I believe so to you - or with regard to that one letter to be most stupidly boastful and yet in all other matters to be to you and to me - the best of friends. -

Trusting to hear from you soon

Believe me
Sincerely Yours

S. Wreford Paddon

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1.  Samuel Wreford Paddon
Samuel Wreford Paddon (b. 1843), diamond merchant and collector [more].

2.  ALS
Published, with minor variations, in Whistler, James McNeill, Correspondence. Paddon Papers. The Owl and the Cabinet, London, [1882], Letter II, p. 1; for full annotation of the pamphlet, see JW's letter to S. W. Paddon, 10 March 1882, ##09519.

3.  Jack MacNay
John ('Jack') Edward MacNay (1834-1893), General Manager of the Stockton and Darlington Railway [more]. See JW's letter to McNay, 9 March 1882, #08102.

4.  Howell
Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more].

5.  Mr Mewburn
Frank F. Mewburn (b. 1820 or 1821), solicitor and collector [more].

6.  Tom
Thomas Fothergill MacNay (1836-1907), civil engineer [more].

7.  Mr Miles
George Francis ('Frank') Miles (1852-1894), painter [more].