The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 04395
Date: 4 April 1894
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Henry John Cockayne Cust[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P34
Document Type: ALdS

Sir, -

It would seem, notwithstanding my boastful declaration, that after all I had not, before leaving England, rid myself completely of that abomination the "friend" -

One solitary unheeded one - George Dumaurier[2] - still remained, hidden in Hampstead - -

On that healthy Heath, he has been harbouring, for nearly half a life, every villainous intentiony of good fellowship that could be perfected by the careless frequentation of our early intimacy & my unsuspecting camaraderie - Of this pent up envy, malice and pretty bonhommie furtive intent -, he never for at any moment during all that time allowed me, while affectionately grasping his honest Anglo-French fist, to detect the faintest indication - -

Now that my back is turned, the old marmite[3] of our past pot au feu[4] he fills with the pycric [sic] acid of thirty years spite, and, in an American monthly Magazine, fires off his bomb of mendacious recollection, and poisoned rancune[5]! -

The lie with which it is loaded, à mon intention[6], he proposes for my possible "future biographer" - but I fancy it explodes, as is usual, in his own waistcoat, and he furnishes, in his present unseemly state, an excellent example of all those others who, like himself, have thought a foul "friend". a finer fellow than an open enemy -

J McNeill Whistler -

[butterfly signature]

Paris -

April 4th. 1894 -

Reflexion: Here, we guillotine the man of the infernal machine - With you the popular draughtsman who prepares his pétard[7] for the distinguished companions gathers guineas

Refl[ection] The compagnon of the pétard we guillotine, but guineas are given to the popular draughtsman who prepares his infernal machine for the distinguished companions in whose friendship he has successfully speculated

[p. 2, two pencil sketches of a finger[8]]

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1.  Henry John Cockayne Cust
Henry John Cockayne Cust (1861-1917), editor of the Pall Mall Gazette from 1892-1896 [more]. This is a draft for a letter to the Pall Mall Gazette, dated 4 April 1894. Another draft is undated, #00971. The letter was eventually published under the heading 'Mr. Whistler on Friendship,' The Pall Mall Gazette, vol. 58, no. 9092, 13 May 1894, p. 2. It was reprinted by 'The Lounger' (a regular by-line), The Critic, vol. 21, new series, no. 643, vol. 24 old series, 16 June 1894, p. 413; and again under the title 'Trilbyana,' The Critic, no. 665, vol. 22 new series, vol. 25 old series, 17 November 1894, pp. 331-332. At the same time, JW launched an attack on George Du Maurier over the character of Joe Sibley in Du Maurier's novel Trilby. Sibley first appeared in the novel, serialized in Harper's Monthly, in the March issue. This letter was so popular that the Critic of 16 June soon sold out; people cut out the article and pasted it in their copies of the novel. The Critic then decided to reprint it in larger type, along with Du Maurier's apology from Harper's Monthly, October 1894, with portraits of the two combatants, as well as part of a parody of a Whistler complaint first published in Lika-Joko.

2.  George Dumaurier
George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier (1834-1896), author and caricaturist [more].

3.  marmite
Fr., saucepan.

4.  pot au feu
Fr., beef stew.

5.  rancune
Fr., spite.

6.  à mon intention
Fr., expressly for me.

7.  pétard
Fr., grenade.

8.  sketches
Finger (M.1404).