The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 11401
Date: [24 February 1886][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Edmund Hodgson Yates[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PLc[3]


you provoke me! The wisdom of ages means but little - I have said it. Faut être "dans le mouvement,"[4] you dear old thing, or you are absolutely out of it!

You are misled, and mistake mere fact for the fiction of history, which is truth - and instructs - and is beautiful.

Now, in truth, 'Arry[5] is dead - very dead.

Did I not, from between your shoulders, sally forth and slay him? - thereby instructing - and making history - and avenging the beautiful.

If within the distant Aïden, you can't descry, "with sorrow laden[6]," the tiny soul of 'Arry, it is because you no longer read your own small print, my Atlas! and the microbes of Eternity escape you.

Moreover, are not these things written in the chronicles of Chelsea, adown whose Embankment I still, Achilles-like, do drag the body of an afternoon?

[p. 2] This practice has doubtless completed the confusion of the wearied ones of Slade - and they of the Schools, accustomed to the culture of Colvin[7], whose polished scalp I with difficulty collected, ceasing to distinguish between the quick and the dead, will probably prop up our late 'Arry as professor, long to remain undetected in the Chair!

Atlas, tais-toi![8] - Let us not interfere!

[butterfly signature]

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1.  [24 February 1886]
Date of publication in the World.

2.  Edmund Hodgson Yates
Edmund Hodgson Yates (1831-1894), novelist, 'Atlas' columnist and editor-proprietor of the World [more].

3.  PLc
Published in the World, 24 February 1886 and in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 119-20.

4.  Faut être dans le mouvement,
Fr., One must be in the swing of things.

5.  'Arry
Henry ('Arry') Quilter (1851-1907), advocate and art critic [more], had recently declared himself as a candidate for the Slade Chair of Fine Art at the University of Cambridge. This letter is a reply to E. Yates to JW, #11400. See also JW to E. Yates, #11402 and Quilter's testimonial, #05099.

6.  with sorrow laden
Although this sounds like a quotation from the Bible, this is not the phrase used in Genesis to describe Adam and Eve being cast out from Eden.

7.  Colvin
Sidney Colvin (1845-1927), Keeper of Prints and Drawings, British Museum [more], who was about to vacate the Slade post.

8.  tais-toi
Fr., be quiet!