The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 10941
Date: 20 June 1888
Author: Marion Henry Spielmann[1]
Place: [London]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Call Number: bMS Eng. 1352 (7)
Credit Line: Published by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University
Document Type: ALdS

20 June 88.

Were I too, my dear Whistler, the airy, happy thing you are, the butterfly, basking in the sunshine of life & flitting daintily & jauntily & d about for very joy, & stinging for very malice, I too might sail along with you hand in hand bien entendu (untill you required me no longer, & were done with me) as you so kindly propose, & [even?] transform myself into the [p. 2] vampire you would wish to see me.

But, you see, it's my way (a dull one, you'll think, no doubt) to be serious in some most things, & when I have dealings with a man that are to come under the public eye I am extremely sensible of a certain responsibility in the matter & of a sense of duty to him & to myself. I'm not, like you, a free-lance, who fighting tilting only for yourself & (I don't blame [p. 3] you) getting all the allies & reinforcements you can. I'm a professional journalist who, you will be astonished to hear, believes in the dignity & responsibility of the press & in the supreme necessity for fairness. And if Nevertheless yet do I not just prove that I can be "joyous" too & do I not coquetting with the butterfly, though I shy at his attendant, heavy-handed moth?

I know you, mon ami, though [p. 4] you be like not, as you really should, in the guise of one of Macnab's[2] Sirens in the grotto - dainty, seductive, charming, graceful, innocent, witty beautiful relentless, shrewd, athirst for blood (mine & Bayliss's[3]) beautiful, & - may I use the word? - damnable.

A tantôt
Sincerely Yours,

M. H. Spielmann

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1.  Marion Henry Spielmann
Marion Henry Alexander Spielmann (1858-1948), journalist and writer on art [more]. This is a reply to JW's letter (#03767; see also #03768). Spielman has added a sting to the tail of his signature, in imitation of JW's stinging butterfly.

2.  Macnab's
Peter Macnab (d. 1900), landscape and rustic genre painter [more].

3.  Bayliss's
Wyke Bayliss (1835-1906), painter and architect [more].