The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Paddon, Samuel Wreford
Record 20 of 36

System Number: 09530
Date: 14 July 1882
Author: Samuel Wreford Paddon[1]
Place: Redhill
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PL[2]

Woodlands, Redhill,

14th July, 1882.

Dear Whistler,

"With the pertinacity of the red-skin" (to quote your own phrase), you apparently wish to recover the lost trail in your worn out war path against Mr. Howell[3]. The whole thing has become a bore, but, in deference to your wishes, I have waded through the copies of Messrs. Mewburn[4] and McNay[5]'s letters to you. I am not altogether displeased at your sending them, they so fully confirm my letter of March 13th[6] to you, and the objections I took therein to yours to Mr. Jack MacNay, more especially where I pointed out to you that you had written in such a way as to prevent the possibility of your getting an impartial reply (a)[7]; and it was for this reason, and this only, I acquiesced in your wish to cancel the bet (b). First, take Mr. Mewburn's letter. By comparing it with mine to you of 13th March, you cannot fail to see that the principal things that he denies are those which I told you you were wrong in stating - for instance, how could it be possible for him to assert that the sobriquet of "Beaconsfield" had never been applied to him by Mr. Howell or Mr. Jack McNay (c); but it appears to me, on reading his letter, that the most grievous complaint he has against Howell is that the latter has not proved an Aladdin's lamp to him; had he done so, doubtless Mr. Mewburn would have (as he says) "decorated his 'black and white' room with your matchless etchings." Now, as to Mr. Jack McNay's letter, which must also be read together with mine to you, 13th March, you will notice the first thing he asserts is, "that he does not believe that the letter written to his brother could have been intended for him." How could it have been? Howell certainly never said that it was! (d) What their calling "together" in Curzon Street to enquire for Beaconsfield's health has to do with the matter I fail to see, except that they were both on equally intimate terms with the "late lamented statesman." (e) In reply to the remainder of his letter, I can only refer you to the fourth paragraph in the printed copy of my letter to you of 27th March[8]; and, beyond this, I should like to point out that Mr. Jack McNay delayed replying to your letter for six days after you had written it - why? (f)

You will remember telling me that you did not care who was right or wrong in an argument, that you only cared who got the best of it. Now, let me tell you that I don't care who (as you may think) gets the best of it, but I do care a great deal for the right, and until you produce very different evidence to that you have already done, I shall continue to believe that Mr Howell is entirely in the right.

Believe me,
Faithfully yours,

S. Wreford Paddon.

(a) There is no question[9] of partiality but one of simple fact. - J. W.

(b) I never suggested a wish to cancel the bet, but graciously waived that matter.

(c) The ineptness of this suggestion is truly stupendous - for though Mr. Mewburn might certainly not know that Mr. Jack McNay called him Beaconsfield, Mr. McNay himself at least would know - and he most emphatically denies ever having done so. If Howell alone applied the sobriquet, Mr. McNay could not possibly have understood his letter, and Mr. Howell's elaborate explanation foolishly falls to the ground.

(d) Howell most certainly did make that assertion, and Mr. Paddon acknowledges it in his first letter.

(e) The implication is complete - They were both on equally intimate terms with Lord Beaconsfield - that is Mr. McNay did not know him at all, and neither did Howell.

(f) Mr. McNay explains this delay in the opening of his letter No. X.

This document is protected by copyright.


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

2.  PL
Published in Whistler, James McNeill, Correspondence. Paddon Papers. The Owl and the Cabinet, London, [1882], p. 8, Letter XII; for full annotation of the pamphlet, see JW's letter to S. W. Paddon, 10 March 1882 (#09519). The original letter has not been located.

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

4.  Mewburn
Frank F. Mewburn (b. 1820 or 1821), solicitor and collector [more]. His letter of 18 March 1882 to JW (#09529) was Letter XI in the pamphlet.

5.  McNay
John ('Jack') Edward MacNay (1834-1893), General Manager of the Stockton and Darlington Railway [more]. His letter to JW, dated 15 March 1882 (#03738, 03739) was Letter X.

6.  letter of March 13th
Letter II, Paddon to JW, 13 March 1882 (#04363 and #09520).

7.  (a)
The letters in italics, numbered from (a) to (f), refer to marginal annotations in the published pamphlet. They would certainly not have been in the original letter.

8.  letter to you of 27th March
Letter VI, Paddon to JW, 27 March 1882 (#04367).

9.  (a) There is no question
The paragraphs numbered (a) to (f) are printed in the margin of the pamphlet.