To the Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette.
Pall Mall Gazette, March 8, 1895.
I have just read a letter in this evening's Pall Mall from J. McNeill Whistler commenting upon the action which Sir William Eden very rightly brought against him. For vulgarity, insolence, and cowardice combined, the composition would be hard to beat, and the most appropriate answer to it would be the argumentum baculinum, which Mr. Whistler knows is out of date, or he would not have dared to write it. In a cloud of abuse, worthy of O'Connell's old apple-woman, without a shred of argument, he attempts to obscure a very simple issue.
Mr. Whistler agreed to paint a small picture of Lady Eden for a sum of money arranged between him and Mr. Moore. The picture was painted and the money paid, but instead of completing the transaction by delivery of the portrait, which any gentleman would have done, this "considerable artist!" defaces the picture, and invents a code of morality for himself, which, if carefully followed up, will some day provide him with lodgings at the public expense. If Mr. Whistler had happened to be a tailor, and a customer had ordered a pair of trousers from him, and paid for them in advance, he (the customer) would have expected those trousers to have been sent to him in due course. But if, after repeated applications, the breeks failed to appear because Mr. Whistler had cut a large hole in them, he would have obtained money under false pretences, and the consequences would have been unpleasant to him. Where is the difference? Mr. Whistler the considerable artist, and Mr. Whistler the tailor, are both tradesmen, and what is sauce for the tailor's goose is sauce for the artist's gander.
FRED. MORTON EDEN.
63 WARWICK ROAD, EARL'S COURT.
1. [8 March 1895]
Date of publication.
Published in Whistler, James McNeill, Eden v. Whistler, [n.p.], 1897, pp. xvii-xxviii, under the heading 'A Champion'.
7. argumentum baculinum
Lat., argument from staves, i. e. beating with sticks. Thenceforth JW referred to F. M. Eden as 'Baculinum Fred', and made several drawings of a club (see Whistler, James McNeill, Eden v. Whistler, [n.p.], 1897, Club on a cushion (M.1563) and A club on a cushion (M.1564)).