The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 08657
Date: [December 1886?][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Charles Dowdeswell[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler D66
Document Type: ALSc


Dear Mr. Dowdeswell -

I rather fancy from, what you hinted at the other day, that it may be the intention of either yourself or your brother[3] to answer the foolish little article you showed me in "The Artist[4]" -

Let me, while thanking you for your warm feeling, beseech you to do nothing of the kind -

Among sportsmen there is a certain sense of the ridiculous that prevents them firing at [p. 2] a skunk - and I who count my trophies of the chase, could not possibly pin upon my wall the poor pecked feathers of the twittering tomtit, who struggles in the street with the stray straw from beneath the scavenger's cart, that his starving family may feed on the filth and thrive -

They say that I am cruel and that I cannot forgive the fool - but I pick my prey, dear Mr. Dowdeswell, and do not indiscriminately pursue "even unto him that pisseth against the wall[5]"! -

[butterfly signature]

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1.  [December 1886?]
A draft (#00860) of this letter was published in Thorp, Nigel (Editor), Whistler on Art: Selected Letters and Writings 1849-1903 of James McNeill Whistler, Manchester, 1994, and Washington, 1995, no. 31, with a date of 18 July 1884, because it was thought to be related to Dowdeswell's intended answer to another criticism of JW (see #08707). The later date of December 1886 is suggested by references in another version of this letter (#11256).

2.  Charles Dowdeswell
Charles Dowdeswell (m. 1897), art dealer, son of C. W. Dowdeswell [more].

3.  Artist
Reference not located.

4.  your brother
Walter Dowdeswell (1858-1929), art dealer [more].

5.  him that pisseth against the wall
An ancient law said it was a dastardly crime to stab someone doing just this.