110. Rue du Bac. Paris
May 14. 1899
Dear Mr. Webb -
Your letter recieved [sic] -
You state the fact of Simpkins demand, but I miss you[r] advise [sic] - I suppose you must be writing me some other letter with full counsel and advising exactly what to do -
Simpkins I understood demands also second guarantor - Do they now give this up? - and would my security of £300 - suffice? -
Will he [ put?] [p. 2] Will they put the book on the market immediately say tomorrow, Monday 15th., on your promising to place in the hands of their Solicitors securities to that amount directly the book is out - This you can do - But of course you will be fully guaranteed by them - on their part - they undertaking there shall be no further delay - and it will be understood and settled that the sum or securities so deposited should only be touched in case of action - (I mean that if Simpkins throw up the work - or apologise and withdraw the book, in case of proceedings taken against them, no part of the sum shall be used for trade expenses - or to cover their losses with Publishers etc - etc) How In short I want of course your advice upon Mrs. Whibleys communication to you - It was impossible for me to see you as she will have told you and I wondered if you could come over on short visit?
But meanwhile and at once why not if you think necessary send over for a day your clerk - I mean Cleary -
However, what I cannot make out is that you do not write more fully - Perhaps you did not see Mrs. Whibley?
In short what do you advise? -
My belief is, gathered from rumours about town, that the Baronet is madly bent upon proceeding against everyone until he can get at me - For that reason the book was transferred to Paris - Now you understand the letter published about "Napoleon and I" —
This of course is our private admission!
[p. 3] You can say to Messrs Simpkins that you are prepared to place in their Solicitors hands securities to the amount of £300 - on the conditions above mentioned - and meanwhile you can yourselves guarantee that this shall be done -
Very sincerely Yours
J McN. Whistler.
result advice tomorrow morning and write fully -
Written on deep-bordered mourning paper.
Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., a London firm of publishers and newsagents, located at the 317 Strand, London, W. C. and 4 Stationer's Hall Court, E. C.
JW's account of his dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more]: Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24]. It was published on 13 May 1899. The dispute concerned Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), a commissioned portrait of Eden's wife. On 14 February 1894, with the picture seemingly nearing completion, Eden sent JW a 'Valentine' cheque for 100 guineas. But JW was dissatisfied with his work and refused to hand it over to Eden, believing it was the artist's right to withhold a picture in such circumstances. When Eden instituted legal proceedings against him in November 1894 in order to retrieve it, JW returned all monies that had been paid to him. However, the dispute dragged on until December 1897 when JW, on appeal, was permitted by the Cour de Cassation in Paris to keep the picture provided that he did not make use of it.
Cleary, clerk to G. and W. Webb, lawyers.
That is, Sir William Eden.