The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Boehm, Joseph Edgar
Record 14 of 71

System Number: 06163
Date: [c. 21/22 May 1878][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: George and William Webb[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W160
Document Type: ALdS

Look at this just brought from Godwin[3]! You see this is the effect of our shot! - Even Godwin hates to acknowledge it and says nothing! - You see the main top gallant sail and sky scraper down!! - Now mind - this is what I have noticed through life that these are not the moments for concessions - We are beating them and by G-d we'll whip 'em! - Don't spare the lash! give em Hell! - Ignore of course Godwins communication - and of course Vulliamy[4] we don't even know by name - [p. 2] If he is at [all] alluded to in our letter (I forget) call the Board's[5] "Surveyor"-

Perhaps if after all the letter were written in my name it would stink more in their nostrils - but this your satisfaction must of course yeild [sic] to your superior judgement - however in that case you could say at the end that my lawyer says etc . . . . . about the action - In short if I may play with them for one more day, - don't lets lose the chance for your formal lawyer's letter could follow the day after - !!!

Now bring in (with a view to future publication and the then all important element of fun and not boring for want of it) in its proper place something like this:

"It will in due course dawn upon the Board that Mr Böehm Mr Leighton or Mr Watts if works of art require thought and time! - and that the elbow of Mr Böehm, Mr Leighton or Mr Watts[6] may not be jogged - that no limit can therefor[e] be assigned to the completion of the bas reliefs with which they stipulated my house shall be enriched - weeks or months even must go by - during which (I doubt if under less than a year would be entertained) during which time I must wait in the street - unless after all the Board are content to stultify themselves and after insisting upon my covering with costly palatial ornament a simple house in a back street with Sir Percy Shellys[7] stables [p. 3] for a neighbor, - finally accept the work of the stone cutter from Brompton cemetery to be done in two hours! - in which case the stone cutter shall be sent for and in two hours the work shall be done -

For longer than that I must refuse to remain under an umbrella on the Chelsea pavement without shelter! under an umbrella." -

. . . .

Ever Yours

J—— Whistler.

If not too sleepy drop a line to say all right tonight

Keep this[8] letter old fellow to laugh over by & bye -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [c. 21/22 May 1878]
This letter includes a preliminary draft of JW's letter to the Metropolitan Board of Works on 23 May 1878 (#04060).

2.  George and William Webb
George Webb (b. ca 1835), of G. and W. Webb. lawyer [more]; and William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more], JW's lawyers.

3.  Godwin
Edward William Godwin (1833-1886), architect and designer [more]. The letters JW mentions have not been located.

4.  Vulliamy
George John Vulliamy (1817-1886), Superintending Architect with the Metropolitan Board of Works, London [more].

5.  Board's
Metropolitan Board of Works.

6.  Mr Böehm, Mr Leighton or Mr Watts
Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834-1890), sculptor [more]; Frederic Leighton (1830-1896), painter and sculptor [more]; and George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), painter and sculptor [more].

7.  Sir Percy Shellys
Sir Percy Florence Shelley (1819-1889), baronet, son of the poet [more].

8.  Keep this ... bye -
Added in space on left side of page.