The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 03768
Date: 20 June 1888
Author: Marion Henry Spielmann[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler M102
Document Type: ALS

[embossed stag motif]


20 June 88.

Were I too, my dear Whistler, the airy happy thing you are - the butterfly basking in the sunshine of life - flitting daintily & jauntily about for very joy & stinging for very malice, I too might sail along with you hand in hand (bien entendu[2], till you required me no longer & were done with me) as you kindly propose; & even transform myself into the vampire you would wish to see me.

But, you see, it's my way (a dull one you'll think, no doubt) to be serious in most things, & (p. 2) when I have dealings with a man that are to come under the public eye I am extremely sensible of a certain responsibility in the matter & of a sense of duty to him & to myself. I'm not, like you, a free-lance tilting only for yourself & (I don't blame you) getting all the allies & reinforcement you can. I'm a professional journalist who, you will be astonished to hear, believes in the responsibility & dignity of the Press, & in the supreme necessity for fairness. Nevertheless, do I not prove that I can be "joyous" too? - do I not coquette with the butterfly, though I shy at his attendant heavy-handed moth?

(p. 3) I know you, mon ami, though you take not the guise, of one as you really should, of one of Macnab's[3] sirens in the grotto - dainty, seductive, charming, innocent, graceful, witty, relentless, shrewd, athirst for blood, (mine & Bayliss's[4]) beautiful & - may I use the word? - damnable.

A tantôt . .
Sincerely yours,

M. H. Spielmann.[5]

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1.  Marion Henry Spielmann
Marion Henry Alexander Spielmann (1858-1948), journalist and writer on art [more]. A draft of this letter is at #10941 and JW's reply is at #03769.

2.  bien entendu
Fr., of course.

3.  Macnab's
Peter Macnab (d. 1900), landscape and rustic genre painter [more].

4.  Bayliss's
Wyke Bayliss (1835-1906), painter and architect [more] who succeeded JW as President of the Royal Society of British Artists. JW's version of the press reports about his resignation and quarrel with the Society was reproduced in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 205-17

5.  M. H. Spielmann.
Spielmann has written his signature with a tail and a sting.