UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 05462
Date: 10 January 1879
Author: George Washburn Smalley[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler S107
Document Type: ALS


10 Jan 79

8, CHESTER PLACE,
HYDE PARK SQUARE, W.

My dear Whistler,

If you ask us for the 19th we will come with pleasure. Your card leaves it doubtful whether it be 12th or 19th[2]. We could come either day, but will assume it to be 19th unless we hear further.

I enclose a scrap from a recent letter of mine in the Tribune and [p. 2] send you another Tribune with a letter from a class mate of yours, and an editorial which seems to have been meant as friendly.

Many thanks for your pamphlet[3] which I take to be a Symphony in Scarlet & Gold - or shall I say holding a place in literature not unlike that which belongs to your Cremorne[4] in art? You won't expect (nor wish) me to agree with your notions about [p. 3] criticism, but I none the less admire the cleverness with which some of them are put.

Yours sincerely

G. W. Smalley

'From London letter in N. Y. Tribune Dec. 25. 78[5]'

THE FRIENDS OF MR. RUSKIN[6] AND MR. WHISTLER HAVE STARTED TWO SEPARATE SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR THE PAYMENT OF THEIR COSTS IN THE LATE TRIAL. MR. RUSKIN'S WERE FIRST IN THE FIELD, WITH AN ADVERTISEMENT AND A GENERAL APPEAL TO THE ADMIRERS OF THE GREAT ART CRITIC. MR. WHISTLER'S HAVE CONTENTED THEMSELVES WITH MACHINERY OF A MORE PRIVATE KIND. A COMMITTEE IS FORMING AND A CIRCULAR IS TO BE SENT OUT. EVEN IN THESE DAYS OF GENERAL PINCHING, THERE CAN HARDLY BE MUCH TROUBLE IN RAISING MONEY FOR SUCH PURPOSES. THE PUBLIC HAS HAD ITS AMUSEMENT OUT OF THEIR QUARREL, AND OUGHT TO BE WILLING TO PAY FOR IT. FEELING HAS RUN PRETTY HIGH ON BOTH SIDES. YOU HEAR THE TRIAL DISCUSSED WHEREVER YOU GO. IT HAS KEPT DINNER-TABLES SUPPLIED WITH ANIMATED CONVERSATION FOR A FORTNIGHT. PERHAPS THE GENERAL OPINION MAY BE SUMMED UP IN THIS WAY: THAT MR. RUSKIN'S LANGUAGE WAS INDEFENSIBLE, BUT THAT MR. WHISTLER WAS ILL-ADVISED IN BRINGING HIS ACTION. HE HAD JUST CAUSE FOR COMPLAINT, BUT COULD NOT EXPECT TO GET REDRESS BY THE ROUGH AND NOT TOO READY METHODS WHICH THE LAW OFFERS. MR. WHISTLER IS SHORTLY TO CONTRIBUTE A PAPER ON ART AND ART CRITICISM TO THE NINETEENTH CENTURY[7]. THERE, SURELY, HE MAY FIGHT OUT HIS BATTLE WITH MR. RUSKIN. NOR WILL THE MATCH BE SO UNEQUAL AS IT MIGHT SEEM BETWEEN A NOVICE IN LITERATURE AND SUCH A MASTER OF WRITTEN LANGUAGE AS THE AUTHOR OF "MODERN PAINTERS." IF MR. WHISTLER CAN WRITE AS WELL AS HE TALKS, HIS PAPER WILL BE A BRILLIANT ONE.

G. W. S.


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Notes:

1.  George Washburn Smalley
George Washburn Smalley (1833-1916), journalist and Times correspondent [more].

2.  12th or 19th
JW's hand-written date on the printed invitation card is hard to read (see #05461).

3.  pamphlet
Whistler, James McNeill, Whistler v. Ruskin: Art and Art Critics, London, 1878.

4.  Cremorne
He may mean Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170), rather than one of the paintings with titles specifically relating to Cremorne Gardens in Chelsea, such as Cremorne Gardens, No. 2 (YMSM 164).

5.  From London letter in N. Y. Tribune Dec. 25. 78
This and the initialled signature (below) are in Smalley's hand, in pencil.

6.  THE FRIENDS OF MR. RUSKIN ... A BRILLIANT ONE.
Press-cutting, attached to p. 3 of the letter. The case of Whistler v. Ruskin was heard at the Queen's Bench of the High Court on 25-26 November 1878. The Fine Art Society raised subscriptions to meet Ruskin's costs but the attempt to raise a sum on JW's behalf failed.

7.  THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
This did not appear; JW's views were published separately, in Whistler, James McNeill, Whistler v. Ruskin: Art and Art Critics, London, 1878.