The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 08095
Date: [5 March 1895][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: P. M. Gay[2]
Place: [New York]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/35/1
Document Type: ALdS

The Baronet's[3] Indiscretions.

To Editor of the N. Y. Herald.

Sir -

I see in your Saturdays paper that the Baronet has brought out his basket, and that the scavenging Interviewer[4] has left him, not a rag!

It is curious, and in an unchristian way, pleasant, to note how an evil minded and thrifty Mæcenas[5], who, through life, surely never gave away anything, never made now, at the sweet [fascination?] singing of this insinuating Secretary bird, unreservedly & ungrudgingly, gives away ... himself! -

Mr Moore[6] also "was present" - and of course was tossed in with the linen. In the warmth of the moment, I notice that his Patron palmed him off as an "Expert" (sic!) - Poor George! - Expert Moore, as they would call him in America - Expert Moore, then, was made to lift up his voice and curse the work of the one, in praising whom, for years past, he has sold reams of copy, and made for himself a spurious reputation as advanced connaisseur[7] and cultured critic.

Between them these two profound conspirators establish the worthlessness of the picture, to obtain possession of which the ardent sportsman has come into Court - or for the loss of which he is asking 10.000 francs! -

In his plaint this honest gentleman swears that the picture was "paid for in advance" - but dont you believe it, he now says to the irresistable [sic] taker of notes, "the picture [8]was completed, and I sent the!! - Doubly careless - for, as a silly matter of fact, at the moment of perpetrating his "confidence trick", this Bunko Baronet handed me the mysterious envelope, à brule pour point[9] [sic], in the studio, begging me not to open it until I should have reached my own house, and he was safely on his way to South Africa.

In the Court again, our "Sir Eden", as they delight in calling him here, declares that the portrait was "commissioned at 100one hundred guineas", and here, in his confession - tardy, but complete - he is "very clear that no fixed price was arranged for, in any of the negotiations, other than the general estimation estimate of 100, to a maximum of 150 gs. - Most excellent this - and awkward this! rash this! - And there is more of it - sad, it seems to me, in it's shifty forgetfulness and inability, boldly, to do evil.

Also it would go to show that a few ancestors seizing upon odd droves of oxen, as set forth in Burke[10], is but poor backing for a modern Baronet in his clumsy commercial struggles.

For the great Napoléon[11] was perhaps partly right: "Grattez[12] le Baronnet, et vous trouvez - (quelque fois) - le Boutiquier"

J McN Whistler

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1.  [5 March 1895]
Dated from publication in the Paris edition of the New York Herald, and a reference in JW's letter to H. de Régnier, 5 March 1895, #10603. The letter was later published, with minor variations, as Whistler, James McNeill, 'The Baronet's Indiscretions,' The Pall Mall Gazette, 6 March 1895; and Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24], pp. xvii-xix (see #11020).

2.  P. M. Gay
P. M. Gay, editor of the New York Herald [more].

3.  Baronet's
Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more]. This heading is double underlined.

4.  the scavenging Interviewer
Not identified. The interview was published in the New York Herald, 2 March 1895.

5.  Mæcenas
Gaius (Cilnius) Maecenas (d. 8 BC), Roman politician, known for his patronage of the arts [more].

6.  Mr Moore
George Moore (1852-1933), novelist and art critic [more].

7.  connaisseur
Fr., connoiseur.

8.  picture
Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408).

9.  à brule pour point
Fr., point blank.

10.  Burke
Burke's Peerage and Baronetage is the authority on aristocratic lineage.

11.  the great Napoléon
Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821), Emperor of France [more].

12.  Grattez...
Fr., scratch a Baronet and you find - (sometimes) - a shopkeeper.