The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: West, Benjamin
Record 3 of 4

System Number: 07057
Date: [22/23 February 1885][1]
Author: Oscar Wilde[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W1046
Document Type: ALS

Dear Butterfly -

By the aid of a biographical dictionary I discovered that there were once two painters, called Benjamin West[3], and Paul Delaroche[4], who recklessly took to lecturing[5] on Art.

As of their works nothing at all remains, I conclude that they explained themselves away.

Be warned in [p. 2] time, James; and remain, as I do, incomprehensible: to be great is to be misunderstood.

tout à vous


You must stamp your letters - they are dear at two pence - and also do send them in proper time. 2.30 on Monday! ciel![6]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [22/23 February 1885]
This is a reply to JW's letter of 21 February 1885 (#11405). Both letters were published in 'Tenderness in Tite Street', Pall Mall Gazette, 24 February 1885, p. 10; in World, vol. 22, no. 556, 25 February 1885, p. 14; and, again under the title 'Tenderness in Tite Street', together with a heavily edited version of Wilde's review (entitled 'Rengaines!') in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 161-63. In Pall Mall Gazette, 'discover' was changed to 'made the discovery', 'lectured upon' to 'took to lecturing upon', 'to be' was omitted before 'understood' and the postscript was omitted. The letter is also published in Holland, Merlin and Rupert Hart-Davis, eds, The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London, 2000, pp. 250-51, where it is dated 'c. 23 February 1885'.

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

3.  Benjamin West
Benjamin West (1738-1820), painter of historical, religious and mythological subjects [more].

4.  Paul Delaroche
Hippolyte ('Paul') Delaroche (1797-1856), painter [more].

5.  lecturing
Wilde was linking West and Delaroche to the 'Ten O'Clock Lecture,' JW's major public statement of his aesthetic ideas. JW delivered the lecture for the first time on 20 February 1885 at the Prince's Hall, Piccadilly. A version of the text of the lecture may be found at #06791. JW's letter (#11405, op. cit.) was a response to Wilde's review 'Mr Whistler's Ten O'Clock,' Pall Mall Gazette, vol. 41, no. 6224, 21 February 1885, pp. 1-2.

6.  ciel!
Fr., 'Heavens!'