The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02257
Date: [18 November 1898][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: William Heinemann[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H353
Document Type: ALcS[3]

[Chatham coat of arms with motto:] BENIGNO NUMINE


My dear Publisher -

How am I to harden my heart, and approach you with a proposal of, let us say momentary, divorce?! -

Certainly neither of us would have supposed it possible that further developments of "The Gentle Art"[4] could have brought complications suggesting even our separation! - But what is to be done?

This American impatience, and the smart method of announcement that distributes pages of an unfinished book to the newspapers - "of which there is no end" - has distroyed, [sic] for the time, the pleasure I looked forward to in presenting, with you, the pretty story of "The Baronet and the Butterfly"[5] to my London people! -

I must really change the venue - what do you think?

Your first feeling, in this matter, was so entirely with me, that I will at once abuse your sympathy, and frankly ask you to transfer your camaraderie, and the glory of Aide-de-Camp, to a Frenchman! - whom I shall choose! -

This is no mere easy ingratitude, on my part, as a friend! Of far greater magnitude is the villainy - I will not stop to dilate upon it - Suffice it to say that Napoleon and I do these things! - and France shall have the Baronet first! -

Indeed the refusal should be hers - who has already presided at his "toilette"!

J. McNeill Whistler -

As to New York I must leave that entirely to yourself - You tell me that they "meant well" - and, naturally, steeped themselves in crime! -

Courage mon ami! - à un de ces jours[6]!...

[butterfly signature]

Paris -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [18 November 1898]
JW probably posted this on 18 November 1898 to arrive on 19 November, and referred to it in a letter to Heinemann, [20 November 1898], #08501. On 23 November JW wrote to Heinemann saying that he was sending him a copy (perhaps the present letter; see #09856), to replace a copy sent to Robert Howard Russell, writer, journalist and publisher [more]; Heinemann then sent the final version for publication in the Morning Post, where it was dated 'Nov. 29' (#09159).

2.  William Heinemann
William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more].

3.  ALcS
Written at right-angles to the printed letterhead. This is a copy of #09159; there are drafts at #02088, and #07510, and a later, corrected version at #08500. In this form it was published in the Morning Post, 2 December 1898; with a slight variation in the format in the Pall Mall Gazette, 3 December 1898, p. 3; in the Glasgow Herald, 3 December 1898, which reprinted it from the Daily News; and the North British Daily Mail of the same day (Whistler PC 17, p. 3): see GM B.94.

4.  The Gentle Art
Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892.

5.  The Baronet and the Butterfly
This letter concerns preparations for the publication of Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24] in 1898-99. The book is JW's account of his quarrel with Eden over Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), a portrait of Eden's wife. JW became agitated when extracts and an incorrect title page appeared prematurely as publicity for an American edition of the book (see #13199) and he changed the first place of publication from London to Paris. JW and Heinemann staged this event through their letters to the press.

6.  jours
Fr., Courage, my friend! - We shall meet again! (lit. 'Until one of these days!')