The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02556
Date: [February 1893?][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: George Lewis[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler L91
Document Type: ALd

110. Rue du Bac. Paris

My dear George -

You always said that if you could get a chance at that scoundrel Sheridan Ford[3] you would come down upon him. He has again come to the fore - and for some months now he has been employed upon Gallignani's Messenger[4] [sic] here!- Little by little getting articles - and more insolent he signs his blaguard articles sometimes openly - sometimes with his surname in full - Now you see in the cuttings I enclose how libelous it all is - You certainly can threaten the paper with immediate proceedings - for you will notice I have marked their advertisement of Sale in London. Now through Galignani's Messenger many have no money - & I fancy they are badly off - still we can terrify the Editor, and insist upon his publishing your letter and dismissing the man Ford and stating in his paper that he regrets that he should have employed one so disreputable - I want [p. 2] you to be very splendid uncompromising as you were with Sir John Bridges[5] at the time of the deposition for Antwerp - I want you to say to the Editor that this Ford is a felon - sentenced was condemned to 6 months imprisonment by the criminal court at Antwerp - say that you were pursuing him yourself in London for theft - [illegible] that he is an adventurerof the worst type - and say also that he obtained money under false that he was followed you tracked him to Antwerp by your client and finally there

That you are astonished that a paper of such distinguished articles, as the "Galignani's Messenger" could publish such vulgar and infamous scurrillous trash matter at all -

My dear George -

[p. 3] I wrote the above some weeks ago and now I send it without hesitation notwithstanding its scrawly state - Things have gone on in the Galignani - further attempts - nothing perhaps to touch - And today there is this paragraph suddenly and most irrelevantly, about a spurious lady, thrust in amidst so called art criticism!! This I suppose is imminently libellous - but you may see other means of approach - I mean, that although we would not really like that direct course, still the proprietors might be terribly alarmed by you - I must tell you that the other day - a week ago, I went, with Julian Story[6], and called upon one of the proprietors of Gallignani [sic] Mr Selwyn[7] - you may know of him - Mr Maughan[8] & Selwyn are lawyers here, of excellent standing, and indeed Solicitors of the English Embassy - They with a Mr McKewan[9], have bought "Gallignani's Messenger" - Mr Selwyn only was in town - a young man. We saw him and told him everything about Ford - and showed him the letter to me from Mr Allen[10] of New York that you may remember, concerning Ford's obtaining £100 from him upon the pretence that the money was for me - at the time of the proposed contract about America. - I hinted even that my [p. 4] simpler course would have been through my Solicitors Messrs. Lewis & Lewis of Ely Place!- What I proposed was that Sheridan Ford was a scoundrel & not fit to be in their paper - Mr Selwyn thanked me - revealed to me that their paper was indeed in a very demoralised state at this moment - that they had just sacked their Editor - that they are doing absolutely without one! - that could I recommend one - that personally he wished to be rid of Ford - that he feared it would be a matter of three months sallary [sic] or an action brought by Ford - and in short that they were all in a pack of trouble - Also he would at once write to Maughan & McKewan at Biarritz - there had been other complaints of Ford, and that forthcoming Sunday's edition (last Sunday's) was not to contain a word by him. This order had just been wired up from Maughan. -

Now [illegible] I know my dear George that you can put a different complexion on all this at once - I wish I could see you for five minutes!

Leaving London for amusement in no way means leaving you! - No distinguished gentleman can propose ever to [disever?] himself, in his brilliant career surrounded as he inevitably is by envy malice & hatred, from George Lewis - no white gentleman certainly, who like myself must fight and hates scoundrels, can be without him! - now

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1.  [February 1893?]
A related letter from Lewis & Lewis to Sewell & Maugham is dated 2 March 1893, #02558. See also #00142.

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

3.  Sheridan Ford
Sheridan Ford (1860-1922), poet, critic, politician and writer on art [more]. This relates to JW's attempted action against Ford for fraud. See F. H. Allen, affidavit, #00144, #11704. See also F. H. Allen to JW, #00141 and to H. A. Alexander, #00143. In 1888, backed by a syndicate of New York investors, Ford and his wife Mary Bacon Ford attempted to persuade JW to sign a contract to undertake a series of American etchings and a lecture tour (see M. B. Ford to JW, #01448). However, JW objected to the harsh terms of the contract and was suspicious of the Fords' motives. His fury also stemmed from a more recent incident over the publication of The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (1890). Ford, his original collaborator on the volume, quarrelled with JW and proceeded to publish his own unauthorised edition. Lewis and JW attempted to stop the publication during the spring of 1890 but only with limited success. See Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890 and Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, ed. Sheridan Ford, Paris, 1890.

4.  Gallignani's Messenger
A misspelling of the Galignani's Messenger, an English language newspaper based in Paris.

5.  Sir John Bridges
Sir John Bridge (1824-1900), lawyer, Chief Magistrate at Bow Street Police Court [more].

6.  Julian Story
Julian Russell Story (1850-1919), genre and portrait painter [more].

7.  Mr Selwyn
Selwyn, lawyer in Paris.

8.  Mr Maughan
Maughan, a lawyer in Paris.

9.  Mr McKewan
McKewan, possibly a lawyer and co-proprietor of Galignani's Messenger .

10.  Mr Allen
Frederick Hovey Allen (1845-1926), congressional minister and writer on art [more]. Allen was one of the New York investors backing the Fords and had lost money on their scheme.