The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Watts, Walter Theodore
Record 16 of 113

System Number: 09576
Date: [2 February 1878][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Theodore Watts-Dunton[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: British Library
Call Number: Department of Manuscripts, Ashley 4601, leaves 5, 6
Document Type: ALS[3]


My dear Watts -

I got your note [4] the other day and thought you would have looked in some morning before now - that I might thank you for your evident kind wish to be of friendly service to me - but my dear fellow dont interfere with Leyland[5]! he is astounding! - he must not be stopped - he must go on! - he is acheiving [sic] the step from the ridiculous to the sublime!

He promised me a whipping and sends me his gas bill[6]!! Mon cher these things are not done every day! [p. 2] Leyland and his gas bill are the joy of London and shall you rashly interfere! -

And now Macænas[7] [sic] careering from Counting House to County Court, with Commercial enterprise in his eye and writs and gas bills in his pocket - and the painter impoverished by his 'Patron', pleading for mercy - are we to be robbed of this tableau because, rash man, you are pleased to interfere! -

You are like the Sapeur for whom 'rien n'est sacré'[8] - and no table in town would forgive you! -

No my dear Watts tell Leyland that I am dull to all proposals and that he cannot have sketch drawing or etching! -

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [2 February 1878]
Another version of this letter was dated 2 February [1878] (#06073). The date '[?1878]' is inserted in another hand in red ink.

2.  Theodore Watts-Dunton
Walter Theodore Watts (later Watts-Dunton) (1832-1914), solicitor, novelist and poet [more].

3.  ALS
There are two other versions of this letter (#06073, #09577). This version was published in Whistler, James McNeill, Nine Letters to Watts-Dunton from J. McN. Whistler, ed. P. E., Chelsea, 1922, pp. 15-16.

4.  your note
Probably #06072.

5.  Leyland
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more].

6.  his gas bill
JW's reply to a request from Messrs Verity for payment of bills incurred in Leyland's house was dated 4 January 1878 (#05965).

7.  Macaenas
Gaius (Cilnius) Maecenas (d. 8 BC), Roman politician, known for his patronage of the arts [more].

8.  sapeur for whom, rien n'est sacré
Fr., sapper (soldier who digs trenches) for whom nothing is sacred; the allusion is not clear.