The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Ford, Mary Bacon
Record 43 of 49

System Number: 01466
Date: 6 May 1893
Author: JW
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: [unknown]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler F398
Document Type: ADd/TL[1]

Mr. Ford[2] / Miss Martin[3]. 9 years ago living with sister [Fannie?], Mrs Penn or Payne[4] at Mrs Furse[5] - 3 bis Rue Galilée. Borrowed money - Miss Boag[6]. (Boulevard Wouwerman) - Hotel Louis le Grand.

Jaume[7] detective -

5000 fr Daubigny[8] - Mr Ford said was sold 2000!

(3 years ago Mrs Ford's address 76 Rue de Provence -)

I - the undersigned - of Paris, & formerly of London - do - .

Some years ago there appeared in London a Miss Martin from America who obtained a certain romantic position of faith and following in the studios as the herald of a new Arcadia in the picture market - a sort of cross between a Jeanne d'Arc[9] of painting and the Becky Sharp[10] of old -

About . . . . . I received a cable[11] from New York: "Will you entertain proposal" Martin" - or words to that effect -

Always ready myself to be amused entertained, I wired back "yes" Whistler -

Instead of the "proposal", one fine morning arrived Miss Martin herself in my rooms accompanied by the man Ford whom she presented as her husband - and whom I saw for the first time - & of whose existence I was was in [unaware?] unknown to me -

Now it is to be remarked that according to Mr Fredk Allen's[12] Affidavit, Ford had already represented stated to him that he had in America before leaving that he was in communication with me and had verbally arranged with me an agreement, upon the strength of which Mr Allen had been induced to advance him sums of money - with which sums he was enabled to come over and attempt what had he had represented as practically concluded - These monies he had therefore obtained under false pretences -

In the unfolding of their plans I saw the

[p. 2] I hearkened amusedly & encourageingly [sic] to the developement [sic] of their scheme and bade them draw up their proposal and take it to my lawyer Mr George Messrs Lewis[13] & Lewis of Ely Place, saying that whatever Mr Lewis sanctioned I would sign - Whereupon I called upon warned Mr Lewis that this couple of adventurers would call upon him, and that he could read their document and dismiss them get rid of them -

In due course the Fords went to Mr Lewis and presented a preposterous paper[14] purporting to be the agreement for his approval, and were by him sent about their business -

I had meanwhile gone abroad and was followed by letters[15] urging me to sign and finally attempting to throw upon me the responsibility of their journey accross [sic] the ocean - I finally answered[16] them at length, pointing out that I was in no way the dupe of any such pretention - That I had agreed by cable to listen to a proposal from Miss Martin, and that upon their own the crossing of the Atlantic by the Fords was an enterprise of their own - interesting possibly but in no way in which I had in no way been consulted - that Mr Lewis had advised me to have nothing to do with their proposal - which in detail by the way I considered preposterous ridiculous - & that of course I should not dream of acting in opposition to his advice & that I wished them well - and thought them charming people - & there was and [sic] end to that affair -

[p. 3] On my return to London - I found again my Fords -

who testified no ill will whatever, but in an apparently hearty manner acknowledged that the whole matter had been a mistake on their part & that of course I could not have submitted myself to any such undertaking -

The end of which[17] playful acceptation of things was, that finally Mr Ford hovered about the place, and in his quality of journalist, talked at times in the minor and finally was entrusted with certain papers with the avowed intention of bringing them into their proper order for future publication at some future time -

Upon my my refusal to allow him to edit the work, or in any way to connect his name with the task, and so dismissing him with a cheque for £10[18] what I considered ample for his clerks work, he disappeared from my ken the horizon, returning the cheque to my surprise and in an absurd letter of indignation -

It was not until some months later that I learned that Ford was attempting to publish himself in a garbled & injurious form my book[19] - It was thereupon made public that with the assistance of Messrs Lewis & Lewis he was pursued & prevented in England London, when the publishers in Belgium Antwerp where I seized 2000 vols. and in Paris - where however the spurious edition it is believed was printed - Its importation was stopped at the Customs in England, and in New York another 1000 vols. were seized interdicted in the docks - This matter ended in a trial at Antwerp in the Criminal courts of Antwerp, where on . . . . the prevenu[20] [sic] Ford was condemned to . . .

It was not till years after Ford's first appearance & just at the moment of the trial in Antwerp that I learned by accident of his obtaining the £100 from Mr Fred Allen of New York under the false pretences & avowedly for the purpose of paying the sum into my hands as the condition upon which I would sign the above agreement, the sum of £100. I at once wrote and begged Mr Allen to forward me an affidavit to the above effect of what took place exactly as it might be useful at the trial - Mr Allen was absent at the time but on his return wrote me a letter stating his readiness to send me [...]

[p. 4] (No. 2.)[21]


6-5-93 T

City of Paris, }
Republic of France } ss.

I, J. McNeil [sic] Whistler, of the City of London, England, temporarily residing in the City of Paris, 110 Rue du Bac, being duly sworn do depose and say:

That about the middle of July 1888, I received a cablegram from a Miss Martin: "Will you entertain a proposal?" to which I cabled back: "Yes," being always amused and ready to entertain anything.

That on or about the second day of August 1888 I received a call from one Sheridan Ford, saying that they wished to secure an arrangement with me whereby I would go to the United States to deliver a course of lecture upon art and exhibit various works of art, and in general to do such things of a like nature as would be required of me by the said Ford in order to make money from the exhibition of my pictures and the sale of tickets for my lecture and so forth and so forth, that I told the said Ford that I could do nothing in regard to making the said arrangements without having consulted my solicitor, Mr. George M. Lewis, of Ely Place, London.

That I instructed said George M. Lewis that I desired to have nothing to do with the said Ford, and I am informed by the said George M. Lewis that he so informed the said Ford.

That on or about the 17th August 1888 as deponent is informed and believes that the said Ford did obtain from one Frederick Allan [sic], 59 Wall Street, New York City, a counsellor-at-law, the sum of $500 upon the pretence that this deponent required the said sum before signing the contract, and deponent further says that no contract or proposed contract ever existed between himself and the said Ford, that he never received any money whatever from the said Ford, and that he firmly believes that the statements were made falsely in order to obtain money fron [sic] said Allan.

[p. 5][22] And deponent further saith that on the      day of       18    he did proceed against the said Ford in the criminal courts of the Kingdom of Belgium for piracy of a book known by the name of "The Gentle Art of making Enemies," and that the said Ford was condemned to pay certain sums of money and in default thereof to six months imprisonment, that the said Ford did flee the country and now resides in the City of Paris, France. And further deponent sayeth not.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  ADd/TL
The first two pages transcribed here are handwritten notes by JW. The latter two pages are a typed version of the noted text, obviously in a state nearer to a final version. A copy of the final text is #03220.

2.  Mr. Ford ... Rue de Provence -)
Sheridan Ford (1860-1922), poet, critic, politician and writer on art [more]. 'Mr Ford ... detective' is written in the top left corner of p. 1.

3.  Miss Martin
Mary Bacon Ford, née Martin, art agent [more].

4.  Mrs Penn or Payne
Not identified.

5.  Mrs Furse
Mrs Furse, possibly a Paris landlady.

6.  Miss Boag
Miss Boag, an acquaintance of the journalist Sheridan Ford.

7.  Jaume
Jaume, a detective.

8.  Daubigny
Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878), landscape painter and printmaker [more]. The painting has not been identified.

9.  Jeanne d'Arc
Joan of Arc (1412-1432), saint.

10.  Becky Sharp
The ambitious and unscrupulous heroine of Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair.

11.  cable

12.  Mr Fredk Allen's
Frederick Hovey Allen (1845-1926), congressional minister and writer on art [more].

13.  Lewis
Sir George Henry Lewis (1833-1911), society lawyer [more].

14.  a preposterous paper
See #01448.

15.  letters
See #01447.

16.  answered
See draft versions of JW's answer, #01449, #01450, #01451.

17.  The end of which
'The end of which' was deleted and then re-instated by means of a dotted underline.

18.  £10
'£10' was deleted and re-instated by means of a dotted underline.

19.  book
Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, ed. Sheridan Ford, Paris, 1890 was suppressed, and its publication followed by Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890.

20.  prevenu
Fr., defendant, accused.

21.  (No. 2.)
This note is in JW's hand; the remainder of the document is typed in blue/purple ink. Another version of this typed text may be found at #03220.

22.  [p. 5]
This page is numbered '2' at top of sheet, as it is the second side of typed text.