The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 00542
Date: [24 December 1878/January 1879][1]
Author: Joseph Williams Comyns Carr[2]
Place: Brighton
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C43
Document Type: ALS


'Ave[3] Whistler morituri te salutant'

Many thanks for your little pamphlet[4] which has been forwarded to me here - The expiring critic hails you as his deliverer; you have come to set us free from our bondage and drudgery; 'Tis a noble mission.

I only hope I may live (if any means of livelihood be left indeed) [p. 2] to witness the new regime and to note how painters like Christians love one another. From the scraps of private conversation I have chanced to hear I cannot but but [sic] feel assured that the judgements of painters upon one another will be both loving and liberal

P I pray God at least that painters may still have time to paint and that they may find leisure from praise of each other to do their own work[.] [p. 3] Your own success with the [illegible word] pen suggests an element of peril. I should like to say a number of things about the little essay which have interested me very much but I remind myself that a painter must not be molested even when he is writing. I suppose however one may enjoy the effort in a whispering modest sort of way; to discuss it would be an obvious [p. 4] impertinence - By the way I wonder why bootmakers, hatters[,] tailors and the like have never been bothered by critics[.] I suppose because their sciences are so exact. Well & I suppose to this same blissful obscurity painters also will come if you succeed in your good work. An ideal enterprise truly

Yours ever

J W Comyns Carr

By the way must we abolish applause in the theatres please? For an outsider to meddle with an exact science like acting is an obvious impertinence.

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1.  [24 December 1878/January 1879]
Dated from reference to JW's pamphlet Whistler v. Ruskin: Art & Art Critics (see note below). It was published on 24 December 1878.

2.  Joseph Williams Comyns Carr
Joseph Williams Comyns Carr (1849-1916), art critic and theatre manager [more]. See also JW's reply, #00543.

3.  'Ave ... morituri te salutant'
Comyns Carr is paraphrasing the Latin 'Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant' ('Hail, Caesar, those who are about to die salute thee'), the Roman gladiators' address to the Emperor Caesar as they entered the arena. It is often quoted to describe an act of desperate courage.

4.  pamphlet
See Whistler, James McNeill, Whistler v. Ruskin: Art and Art Critics, London, 1878. It was produced in the aftermath of Whistler v. Ruskin, JW's libel suit against John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more].