UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 11420
Date: [9 January 1890][1]
Author: Oscar Wilde[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: Henry Labouchère[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PLc[4]


SIR, -

I can hardly imagine that the public are in the very smallest degree interested in the shrill shrieks of "Plagiarism" that proceed from time to time out of the lips of silly vanity or incompetent mediocrity.

However, as Mr. James Whistler has had the impertinence to attack me with both venom and vulgarity in your columns, I hope you will allow me to state that the assertions contained in his letters are as deliberately untrue as they are deliberately offensive.

The definition of a disciple as one who has the courage of the opinions of his master is really too old even for Mr. Whistler to be allowed to claim it, and as for borrowing Mr. Whistler's ideas about art, the only thoroughly original ideas I have ever heard him express have had reference to his own superiority as a painter over painters greater than himself.

It is a trouble for any gentleman to have to notice the lucubrations of so ill-bred and ignorant a person as Mr. Whistler, but your publication of his insolent letter left me no option in the matter. -

I remain, Sir, faithfully yours,

OSCAR WILDE.


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Notes:

1.  [9 January 1890]
Dated from publication in Truth, 9 January 1890, p. 51. This is a reply to JW's letter, published in Truth on 2 January 1890 (#05861).

2.  Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more].

3.  Henry Labouchère
Henry Du Pré Labouchère (1831-1912), journalist and Liberal MP [more].

4.  PLc
Published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London, 1890, pp. 239-40, under the heading 'In the Market Place'. JW replied on 16 January 1890 with another letter to Truth (#11421), all three letters being reprinted in the Gentle Art. See also Holland, Merlin and Rupert Hart-Davis, eds, The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London, 2000, pp. 418-20.