The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Cole, Margaret Elizabeth
Record 6 of 9

System Number: 00642
Date: 21 February 1885
Author: Alan Summerly Cole[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C143
Document Type: ALS

[embossed crest with crown, and text:] SCIENCE AND ART DEPARTMENT / V R / SOUTH KENSINGTON

21. Feb: 1885 -

My dear James -

Your success[2] amazed every one - I know of some who came to smile and be amused for friendship's sake as they said, but who left in a state of meditation & dumbness. I went up to the Times - They had a reporter there in the Hall to take note of the names of people & such like. They told me that the pressure for space was very great: & we shall not see anything I expect till Monday - Thats all the better perhaps. The Daily Telegraph [p. 2] smirks its galled sense badly. I dont know what they mean by saying that no one could get in at ten oclock. We were all in I believe by ten if not before.

My wife[3] was in suspense the whole time and was grateful for the relief which your triumphal progress & conclusion brought her. I am sure you had few more sympathetic listeners. I was very glad to tell Madame[4], with whom I got a word as I was running off, how completely satisfactory I felt the [p. 3] whole thing had been - I hope you are none the worse - for you've had a hard time - and must want rest -

I shall be up on Monday & at S. Kensington after 12. until 4.

Ever yrs sincerely

Alan S Cole

Mr. Jeune[5] was enthusiastic about yr manner of delivery - Donnelly[6] delighted - Armstrong[7] too - Sullivan[8] chuckled - The people near me were enchanted at Oscar's[9] long drawing face as the question [p. 4] of aesthete & costume[10] was handled - Corney Grain[11] beamed with satisfaction. But of course you've heard of all this.

'Ten O'clock[12]
Alan Cole'

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1.  Alan Summerly Cole
Alan Summerly Cole (1846-1934), textile expert and museum official [more].

2.  success
A reference to JW's 'Ten O'Clock Lecture,' his major public statement of his aesthetic ideas. He delivered the lecture for the first time on 20 February 1885 at the Prince's Hall, Piccadilly. It was repeated subsequently at several other venues, including Oxford and Cambridge. A version of the text of the lecture may be found at #06791.

3.  My wife
Margaret ('Margie') Elizabeth Cole (b. ca 1860, m. 1879), née Clark, wife of Alan S. Cole [more].

4.  Madame
Probably Mary Maud Franklin (1857- ca 1941), JW's model and mistress [more].

5.  Mr. Jeune
Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Henry Jeune (1843-1905), barrister, judge and Privy Councillor [more].

6.  Donnelly
Donnelly, an acquaintance of JW, who attended the 'Ten O'Clock' Lecture.

7.  Armstrong
Thomas Armstrong (1832-1911), artist and Director of Art, South Kensington Museum [more].

8.  Sullivan
Probably Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan (1842-1900), composer and conductor [more].

9.  Oscar's
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more].

10.  aesthete & costume
JW intended one passage in the 'Ten O'Clock Lecture' as a particular jibe at Wilde's aesthetic manner of dress and public pose as arbiter of taste: 'Costume is not dress. And the wearers of wardrobes may not be doctors of taste!' See Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, p. 154.

11.  Corney Grain
Corney Grain (1844-1895), barrister turned actor [more].

12.  Ten O'clock ... Cole
Note written in JW's hand. In pencil.