The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 05338
Date: 19 January 1890
Author: James Runciman[1]
Place: Kingston-on-Thames
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler R233
Document Type: ALS

Grange Villa

19 / 1 / 890

Dear Mr Whistler

Do not think me careless: I have been helpless, & must remain strictly secluded for awhile. If I did not know that your hours are filled up, I shd ask you to write me a few notes. I have got the gloves off & if I don't give some people hell, I shall never pretend to be a slogger any more.

I will tell you what I find: - It is no use trusting to the generosity of men like Wilde[2], Haggard[3], Anstey[4], Gordon[5], & the rest. They steal when they think it safe & put on top-lofty airs when you catch them. The leader-writers are as bad, I assure you that one fellow, without (p. 2) altering a single word, palmed off on the Standard!! - an article whc. I wrote in Sept. 1883. My oldest friend W. E. Henley[6] is only a bag for the beggars to dip in, & the game is always the same. "What are you doing up that damned ladder, Sambo"? "Does yo daht my annah, Sah?".

I did not see what you said to Wilde & I wish you would let me. The notion of his calling you a mediocrity gives his measure nicely, for you are either bad or excellent: there is no middle road. I praise good work with enthusiasm wherever I find it, but I must say that, of all the bloody duffers that I have ever measured, Wilde is just the very bloodiest. There is not an idea in that (p. 3) fat head: - [glide?] impudence of glorying Paddy, & no more. I shall not forgive him soon for pretending that the idea of "The Decay of Lying[7]" was his, because he made me think I had misjudged a genuine wit, & I seldom blunder in that way.

As soon as I get out I mean to show myself in London a little, for I am getting mad over the drift of incompetence, knavery, cheek & charlatanry that is starting to smother good men who don't advertise.

Best wishes
Yours truly

J Runciman

Jas Whistler Eqr

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1.  James Runciman
James Runciman (1852-1891), writer [more]. Runciman had been ill and died in the following year.

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

3.  Haggard
Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925), novelist, agriculturalist and colonial administrator [more].

4.  Anstey
Francis Edmund Anstie (1833-1874), physician to Westminster Hospital, medical journalist and Editor [more].

5.  Gordon
Gordon, a writer or journalist.

6.  W. E. Henley
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), journalist, poet and writer [more].

7.  The Decay of Lying
O. Wilde, 'The Decay of Lying', The Nineteenth Century Review, January 1889.