The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Mewburn, Frank F.
Record 1 of 11

System Number: 08102
Date: 9 March 1882
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: John E. McNay[1]
Place: [York]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/20/4
Document Type: ALS[2]

Dear Mr McNay -

I enclose a letter that your brother has lent me - in this you will see that Mr. Howell[3] states that he has just returned from Hughenden[4] - "tired and sleepy with keeping Beaconsfield awake" -

When called upon to explain the same, in the face of the fact that he had never been to Hughenden - and that he had never known Beaconsfield in his life, he explained that the letter[5], (which was not at the time in evidence) was written "not to Tom[6], but to Jack McNay" - and that Jack and he were in the habit of calling their mutual old friend Frank Mewburn[7] by the name of Beaconsfield, and his place in Darlington, or some tavern that they frequented ["]Hughenden". - That consequently Jack McNay himself would [p. 2] perfectly understand in reading the letter that Howell had just come back from Darlington, tired and worn with his efforts in keeping poor Frank Mewburn awake" -

This explanation ingenious and fantastic as it seems was accepted by others present, and I was challenged to write and ask you to confirm deny the same, and if unable to do so, to confirm the truth of Mr Howell's assertion interpretation.

Will you kindly answer me; and if Mr Mewburn, to whom pray present my kind remembrances, will add his own clear and concise views upon the case it will give additional interest to the episode -

Accept my thanks for the trouble you may take and believe me
Very faithfully Yours,

J. McNeill. Whistler

13. Tite St Chelsea
London -

March. 9. 1882.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  John E. McNay
John ('Jack') Edward MacNay (1834-1893), General Manager of the Stockton and Darlington Railway [more].

2.  ALS
Mourning border (4 mm.). Published, with minor variations, in Whistler, James McNeill, Correspondence. Paddon Papers. The Owl and the Cabinet, London, [1882], Letter I, p. 1; for full annotation of the pamphlet, see JW's letter to S. W. Paddon, 10 March 1882, #09519.

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

4.  Hughenden
Home of Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1882), Prime Minister of Great Britain [more]. This letter relates to an incident recorded by JW in Whistler, [1882], op. cit. It concerned Howell and his rather ill-judged boast that he knew Disraeli.

5.  letter

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

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