The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 04248
Date: 18 April 1891
Author: William Ernest Henley[1]
Place: Edinburgh
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler N5
Document Type: ALS


18 / 4 / 91[2]

My dear Whistler,

All right to you: all right & many thanks. As I said, we shall not be starting yet a while; but it's a comfort to know that there is an illustrator[3] ready to our hand.

We have buried the Professor[4] this week. Nobody will come forward against him. In [truth?], it is sickening to reflect that this impeachment has had to be carried single-handed by a lay journal for that none of the trade-organs will so much as breathe the person's highly-respectable name. However, we've done our best; & our leader should bring matters to a crisis. I have sent it to the [p. 2] Vice Chancellor at Oxford, & I am trying to find the names of the Slade[5] Trustees to send communicate it to them also. The issue is in the lap of the Gods.

I have asked Nutt[6] to send you two little books[7] of mine. They won't bore you - even if you do not attempt to read them.

Ever Sincerely Yours,

W. E. H.

Oscar's[8] letter is a monument. I will bring it to London: some time in June.

I've been wickedly ill, & I am as fagged as I can stick.

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1.  William Ernest Henley
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), journalist, poet and writer [more]. JW's reply is #10562.

2.  18 / 4 / 91
Double underlined.

3.  illustrator
Probably Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. JW had offered Henley etchings as illustrations (see #10582), which were probably B. Whistler, Goldfish (z226). These are referred to elsewhere as 'Henley's fish', JW to B. Whistler, [13 August 1891], #06595.

4.  Professor
Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914), painter [more]. The post of Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford had been held by John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more], 1869-1879 and 1883-1885. George Richmond (1809-1896), history and portrait painter [more], was professor from 1878-1883, followed by Herkomer, from 1885 to 1894. Herkomer's use of photogravure reproductions of pen drawings described as etchings in his publication An Idyll sparked off a great controversy (see National Observer, vol. 6, 18 April 1891, pp. 555-556, and 2 May 1891, pp. 603-604; also Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 2, p. 186).

5.  Slade
In addition to the Oxford Professorship, the Slade School of Art was founded, in 1871, with money left by Felix Slade, an art collector from Yorkshire. The first Slade Professor of art, from 1871-1875, was Edward John Poynter (1836-1919), history and genre painter [more]. He was followed by another former friend and fellow student of JW's, Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more], from 1876-1892, and Frederick Brown (1851-1941), landscape painter [more], from 1892-1917.

6.  Nutt
Probably David Nutt, bookseller and publisher.

7.  books
Henley, W. E., Views and Reviews: Essays in Appreciation, London, 1890 (GUL Whistler 57).

8.  Oscar's
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more].