The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Ten O'Clock Lecture, publication
Record 16 of 71

System Number: 10936
Date: 26, [28] March [1888][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: William T. Stead[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Call Number: bMS Eng 1352 (12)
Credit Line: Published by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University
Document Type: PL/ALS[3]


Sir, -

I find myself obliged to notice the critical review of the "Ten o'clock,"[4] that appeared in your paper (March 6).

In the interest of my publishers, I beg to state formally that the work has not as yet been issued at all - and I would point out that what is still in the hands of the printer, cannot possibly have fallen into the fingers of your incautious contributor! -

The early telegram is doubtless the ambition of this smart, though premature and restless one - but he is wanting in habit, and unhappy in his haste! - what will you? The Pall Mall and the people have been imposed upon.

Be good enough Sir to insert this note, lest the public suppose, upon your authority, that the "Ten o'clock," as yet unseen in the window of Piccadilly, has, in consequence of this sudden summing up, been hurriedly withdrawn from circulation. -

I am, Sir,

J. McNeill Whistler.


March 26[5].

[printed butterfly signature]

Still in a hurry Mr. Spielmann!

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  26, [28] March [1888]
Letter written on 26 March and published on 28 March (see ''Whistler, James McNeill, [Letter to the Editor], The Pall Mall Gazette, no. 7186, vol. 47, 28 March 1888, p. 5, published under the heading 'MR. WHISTLER'S "TEN O'CLOCK."'); accompanying note dated from date of publication.

2.  William T. Stead
William Thomas Stead (1849-1912), editor of the Pall Mall Gazette from 1883-1890, founder-editor of the Review of Reviews in 1890 [more].

3.  PL/ALS
The first part of this document is a press-cutting from the Pall Mall Gazette, dated 28 March 1888 (see Getscher, Robert H., and Paul G. Marks, James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. Two Annotated Bibliographies, New York and London, 1986, B. 49), which JW may have sent to M. H. Spielmann accompanied by the second, his signed note. Marion Henry Alexander Spielmann (1858-1948), journalist and writer on art [more], had been critic of the Pall Mall Gazette from 1883-87. JW may have supposed that he was author of a review of his 'Ten O'Clock Lecture.' See [anon.,] 'Mr Whistler and the Time of Day,' Pall Mall Gazette, 6 March 1888, p. 5.

4.  Ten o'clock
The 'Ten O'Clock Lecture' was JW's chief public statement of his aesthetic ideas. It was first delivered in London on 20 February 1885 at the Prince's Hall, Piccadilly. It would be published by Chatto and Windus on 11 May.

5.  March 26
An acerbic note from the editor followed the appearance of JW's letter in the Pall Mall Gazette: 'The public had better wait and see whether "the Pall Mall has been imposed upon." That the public has been imposed, in the matter of the "Ten O'Clock," we are not concerned to deny, having intimated as much in our review of the work.' The reviewer's reply was published in the Pall Mall Gazette, 31 March 1888, p. 3. The whole correspondence was later published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 244-49.