The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 12076
Date: 9 April 1878
Author: George Mallows Freeman[1]
Place: London
Recipient: James Anderson Rose[2]
Place: London
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC
Document Type: AD



[p. 2] Whistler v Ruskin

Instructions to advise on evidence
Q[ueen's] B[ench] division

The libel is set out in the Statement of claim and is contained in the number of Fors Clavigera[5] for July 1877 herewith[.] Numerous copies of this number of Fors were obtained from George Allen[6] Sunnyside Orpington Hert and such copies were forwarded by Mr Allen in answer to applications for same

Fors Clavigera is full of libels which are dragged in at the end of some moral disquisition or new translation of the Scripture or some particular relation of the friendship of Mr Ruskin for the Deity and or his knowledge of the ways & wishes & intentions of the Almighty with which Mr Ruskin is or professes to be particularly acquainted[.] Without the slightest apparent connexion [sic] the name of some one is unexpectedly dragged in and covered with [p. 3] abuse or insult or vilified as the case may be Mr Ayrton[7] late MP for the Tower Hamlets was so reviled[.] In the last published number of Fors the late Miss Harriet Martineau[8] was suddenly introduced & her name & memory covered with opprobrium. Can anything contained in previous numbers of Fors Clavigera being libels on others in any way be made evidence in this case not being libels on the present plt [plaintiff]

The injury the libel of Mr Ruskin has done to the plt. may be in some measure judged by the multitude of references to the libel made by contemporaneous newspapers

Numerous copies of papers either copying or referring to this libel are sent herewith

[p. 4] Can these or any of them or how be made evidence in the present case

[p. 5] In the High Court of Justice
Queens Bench Division

9 April 1878

Whistler v Ruskin


Instr[ucti]ons to advise on evidence on behalf of the Plt
Mr G. M. Freeman

[illegible signature or word]

G M Freeman

9 / 4 / 78

[J. P. F.?]

J. Anderson Rose
11 Salisbury Street
Plts Solicitor

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  George Mallows Freeman
George Mallows Freeman (1850-1934), barrister [more].

2.  James Anderson Rose
James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), solicitor [more]. These are notes concerning evidence which might or might not be brought to bear in the trial (see below).

3.  105
Written in another hand, in a circle. The legal documents kept by Rose on each case, or aspect of a case were given the same number.

4.  Ruskin
The case of Whistler v. Ruskin was heard at the Queen's Bench of the High Court on 25-26 November 1878. See Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992.

5.  Fors Clavigera
Ruskin, John, 'Letter the Seventy-ninth' Fors Clavigera, 2 July 1877, pp. 181-213, in which Ruskin libelled JW's paintings, in particular, Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170).

6.  George Allen
George Allen (1832-1907), publisher and agent for John Ruskin [more].

7.  Mr Ayrton
Acton Smee Ayrton (1816-1886), solicitor, radical Liberal MP and Chief Commissioner of Works and Public Buildings [more].

8.  Miss Harriet Martineau
Harriet Martineau (1802-1876), novelist and rationalist [more].

9.  48
Written in another hand, in a circle. The legal documents kept by Rose on each case were given the same number: so this may belong to another document (see '105' above).