The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 05623
Date: 2 December [1868][1]
Author: Algernon Charles Swinburne[2]
Place: Henley-on-Thames
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler S269
Document Type: ALS[3]

'Swinburne re. Mazzini'[4]


Dec. 2d

Cher père

Behold the British journalist! I could not resist cutting out the enclosed[5] to send you. Has your mother[6] heard from Mme Venturi[7]? she was going to write, I know, but her hands are very full. Her last report of Mazzini was still good, & should there be danger (as there is now none) I have her promise to let me know before the news-papers [p. 2]. Tell Wm. Rossetti[8] this, as I know the false reports of M.'s death or danger[9] forged in Paris will have alarmed him if he has not heard to the contrary.

I am very well & strong, quite an anti-Sadique[10] example of the prosperities of virtue. By the by, this day is the 54th anniversary of the death of that great & good man, the Marquis de Sade[11]. Consacrons-lui[12] quelques larmes. Hélas! il lui faudrait plutôt du sang!

Love to all friends
Ton fils dévoué

A C Swinburne

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1.  2 December [1868]
Year date from references to Giuseppe Mazzini's illness (see below).

2.  Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), poet and critic [more]. JW addressed him as 'dear son', and he addressed JW as 'dear father', as he does here.

3.  ALS
Published in Lang, Cecil Y., The Swinburne Letters, 6 vols, New Haven, 1959, vol. 1, p. 314, Letter 280A.

4.  'Swinburne re. Mazzini'
Inscribed in another hand (possibly that of Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]) in top right-hand corner of sheet. 'Mazzini' was Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872), Italian nationalist [more], whose politics and philosophy Swinburne greatly admired. Mazzini, on the other hand, wished that Swinburne would give up 'the absurd, immoral French "Art for Art's Sake" system, and relinking Art to Heaven through Earth - to the eternal Ideal through the transitory symbols' (Richards, E. F., (ed.), Mazzini's Letters to an English Family, 3 vols, London, 1920-22, vol. 3, p. 207). Although no correspondence between them is thought to have survived, Mazzini regularly enquired about Swinburne's health and activities in his own correspondence with other parties (as in, for example, op. cit., pp. 203, 228).

5.  enclosed
Untraced. It is possible the cutting related to Mazzini.

6.  mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

7.  Mme Venturi
Emilie Venturi (d. 1893), née Ashurst, wife (1) of Sydney Hawkes, and (2) Carlo Venturi [more].

8.  Wm. Rossetti
William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more].

9.  death or danger
Mazzini had been severely ill during the autumn of 1868. Such had been the anxiety about his condition that Emilie Venturi went out to Italy to attend him.

10.  anti-Sadique
That is, one opposed to Sade's philosophy and sexual psychology.

11.  Marquis de Sade
Donatien-Alphonse-François, Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), philosopher, novelist and pornographer [more].

12.  Consacrons-lui ... du sang!
Fr., Let us offer him some tears. Alas! he should have blood instead!