UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Canfield, Richard Albert
Record 71 of 77

System Number: 05985
Date: 10 May 1903
Author: Francis Vielé-Griffin[1]
Place: Paris
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler V74
Document Type: ALS[2]


16. QUAI DE PASSY

le 10 mai 1903

Mon cher Maître

J'ai eu, fort agréablement de vos nouvelles par la visite de M. Richard Canfield[3];

par lui, j'ai su que vous vous portiez à merveille et vous trouviez bien d'un sejour [sic] prolongé à Londres.

M. Canfield, heureux acquéreur, m'a mis au courant du commerce disqualifiant auquel s'est livré Montesquiou[4] - ce n'est pas le seul qu'il ait pratiqué et, tout bien considéré, il était bon que votre oeuvre passât entre des mains nettes.

[p. 2] Le dit Comte est de plus en plus démonétisé - et cela, à mesure qu'il bat monnaie! - On parle de Cent soixante dix mille francs recueillis outre mer - j'ignore de quelle source découla ce Pactole.

Quoi qu'il en soit, mon cher Maître, je ne crois pas opportun, pour le moment du moins, de lancer votre anecdote: le bruit est ailleurs, la politique est très encombrante; notre Montesquiou, Barnum[5] avoué, est désormais au-dessous de toute critique et les histoires, analogues à celle que me conta M. Canfield, sont nombreuses [p. 3] dans sa vie de brocanteur - si aucune, toutefois, n'atteint en bassesse speciale, l'acte judaïque dont vous fûtes victime.

Nous sommes les hôtes d'un triste printemps - où la visite, aussi peu attendue que spirituellement accueillie, du Rouge Edward[6] à mis une gaîté spéciale: on lisait les compte-rendus de certains journaux anglais ...

Veuillez accepter, mon cher Maître, l'expression de mon admiration dévouée

Francis Vielé-Griffin


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

My dear Master

I have had, very happily your news by the visit of Mr Richard Canfield;

From him, I knew that you are marvellously well and that you were finding a prolonged stay in London beneficial.

Mr Canfield, happy acquirer, put me in the picture about the disqualifying business which liberated Montesquieu - he is not the only person whom he has practised, it was good that your work passed into safe/new hands.

[p. 2] The said Count is more and more demonetarised[!?] - and that, in the way that it beats money! - there is mention of a Hundred and seventy thousand francs collected overseas - I do not know from which source this Gold mine has unravelled.

Whatever it may be, my dear Master, I do not believe it opportune, for the moment at least, to launch your story: the noise is elsewhere, the politics are very restricting; our Montesquiou, Barnum avowed, is henceforth above all criticism and stories, analogous according to Mr Canfield's account, are numerous [p. 3] in his life as a bric a brac dealer - if any, nevertheless, should attain a special low level, the Judaic law of which you were a victim.

We are the hosts of a sad spring - where visits, as unexpected as spiritually welcomed, of Red Edward has put on a special gaiety: we have been reading the reports of certain English newspapers ….

Please accept, my dear Master, my devoted admiration

Francis Viele-Griffin


Notes:

1.  Francis Vielé-Griffin
Francis Vielé-Griffin (1863/1864-1937), poet [more].

2.  ALS
This letter was published in MacDonald, Margaret F. and Joy Newton, 'Letters from the Whistler Collection (University of Glasgow). Correspondance with French Painters,' Gazette des Beaux Arts, no. 128, December 1986, pp. 201-214, at pp. 213-14.

3.  Richard Canfield
Richard Albert Canfield (1855-1914), gambler [more].

4.  Montesquiou
Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855-1921), Symbolist writer and poet, and collector [more], who had sold Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (YMSM 398), for 60,000 francs.

5.  Barnum
Phileas-Taylor Barnum (1810-1897) made a fortune touring the States with his famous circus shows. Montesquiou made a lecture tour of the USA early in 1903, and Whistler's albums contain press cuttings on his poetry readings.

6.  Rouge Edward
Edward VII (1841-1910), King of Great Britain from 1901-1910 [more]. In 1903 state visits of the rulers of France and England took place in London and Paris for the first time since the 2nd Empire.