The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 10939
Date: [19 June 1888][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Marion Henry Spielmann[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Call Number: bMS Eng. 1352 (15)
Credit Line: Published by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University
Document Type: ALS

No! You really are my despair - my dear Spielmann! -

Where in Heaven's name is the solemnity of your undertaking with Wyke Bayliss[3]! and what does it matter - Ask him the question I offer you, and tell him that I told you to draw him, and he will be none the less amusing! - 'Eh! What! Why not! Ha Ha!' -

I assure you that I make no mystery of the affair, and openly announced to the Council the other night, that I had recommended the Pall Mall to interview Mr. Wyke Bayliss. ! Ha! Ha! -

But what possible reason can you have for writing me a letter in which "Hell" and general "damnation" seem to be your simplest after dinner view of my gentle proposal for joy? - If you only knew how altogether "pas dans le mouvement[4]!" it looks to me my dear friend, especially on my return from Paris where I have been saying such charming things!. - Too bad mon cher! just as I was beginning to have hope for you -

I fancy however that the rather pretty little light amiability that [p. 2] I had meant to be wafted to you at the end of Mr Hanson's[5] fingers, must have been offered to you by that ingenuous youth in his fist - and hence all this thusness! - Whereas my dear Spielmann, I no more intended you to fasten yourself to my delicate coat tails than I doubted your power of standing on your own determined legs. -

Do come down from this pinacle [sic] of frozen editorial virtue, and be merry, and above all don't taint yourself with "loyalty", and spoil our Bayliss! - Bayliss the "Middlesex Michel Angelo[6]"! -

[butterfly signature]

Also why accuse yourself of crimes you have never committed! - What is all this about "corpses & worms"? -

Tower House
Tite Street -

[p. 3] The organisation of the "Royal Society of British Artists," as shown by it's very name, tended perforce, you see, to this final convulsion, resulting in the separation of the elements of which it was composed. - They could not remain together, and so you see the "Artists" have come out, and the "British" remain - and peace and sweet obscurity are restored to Suffolk Street! -

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1.  [19 June 1888]
Dated from a copy of this letter in JW's letterbook (#03551).

2.  ALS
Written upside down on the sheet in relation to the printed address. This suggests that the letter may have been a draft. See also the letter copy, #03767.

3.  Marion Henry Spielmann
Marion Henry Alexander Spielmann (1858-1948), journalist and writer on art [more]. This is a reply to M. H. Spielmann's letter to JW, #03766. It relates to Spielmann's recent interview with JW (see Anon., 'The Rise and Fall of the Whistler Dynasty. An Interview with exPresident Whistler,' The Pall Mall Gazette: An Evening Newspaper and Review, vol. 47, no. 7249, 11 June 1888, pp. 1-2, and an edited version in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 205-210). It concerned recent events at the Royal Society of British Artists. In the aftermath of his resignation as President, JW defended his views and attacked Wyke Bayliss, who had been elected to succeed him. For further details, see Margaret F. MacDonald, 'Whistler for President,' Dorment, Richard, and Margaret F. MacDonald, James McNeill Whistler, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1995, pp. 49-55). See also JW to M. H. Spielmann, #10944, #10938.

4.  Wyke Bayliss
Wyke Bayliss (1835-1906), painter and architect [more].

5.  pas dans le mouvement
Fr., not in the stream of things.

6.  Mr Hanson's
Charles James Whistler Hanson (1870-1935), engineer, son of JW and Louisa Fanny Hanson [more].

7.  Michel Angelo
Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564), sculptor and painter [more].