The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: theatre, play
Record 13 of 30

System Number: 00515
Date: 4 April 1890
Author: Janey Sevilla Campbell[1]
Place: [Kingston on Thames]
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C16
Document Type: ALS

Coombe Farm

4th April / 90

My dear Trix

I know not that I am worthy of Jimmies "compliment" de l'audace toujours de l'audace[3] but I do know that I am perfectly straight forward. First of all let me tell you [p. 2] that you are making a mistake regarding the lending of the Managers copy of our adaptation of the Faithfull S.[4] I swear before this world & the seen and unseen witnesses of the other (in which I believe) that you never lent me the [p. 3] Managers copy of the said F. S. therefore it was impossible for me (apart from the pointlessness of such an operation!) to rub out any managerial annotations. You often promised you would [p. 4] hand over to me this as well as the "As you like it"[5], but it never came, supposing you had lent it, if you reflect, it wd. not be like me to rub out what his[6] kind hand had written for me and what his tired brain had helped me to bring to completion. Would it not be more probable that the said book would be in a certain drawer here among rose [p. 5] leaves now where lies his broken 'specks' are which you so kindly gave me and "Perigots[7]" wooden dagger which he cut out of an old stick at Coombe stage, when we were rehearsing and that if you had clamoured for this said book I should have plagued you to have [p. 6] a copy instead notes & all and let me have the original?! This is the sort of "audace" I might have been capable of but not what you suggest. It is altogether out of drawing.

Now as to "The Faithfull Shepherdesse" which by the way you call "The Beaumont & [p. 7] Fletcher" - the said play was written by Fletcher[8] & being published as we all know with the rest of Beaumont[9] & Fletchers plays is available to the world and to any amount of music publishers; but not my Faithfull Shepherdesse and the original is unactable-! It is an adaptation wh. as you know cost the [p. 8] Manager and myself almost a whole years brain work thinking & re-thinking, altering & re-altering - The rights of production I registered and they belong to me - Just as much as [an?] the adaptations of "Fair Rosamund"[10][.] Over both these plays even more than the "As you like it" I slaved my very soul out, as he did his. The rights of production I am obliged to defend. First because of the debt which can [p. 9] only by degrees be paid off and which has caused me endless worry & annoyance and 2ndly a motive which you and Jimmie at least can sympathize with a desire that the plays which are beautiful should not be hawked about on the cheap: the reason I wrote to you was because only about a week ago an attempt was made to hawk Fair Rosamund off[.] [p. 10] When I got back to Coombe yesterday I found amongst a batch of letters what explained yr. remark about the music publishers & the "saxpences" till I got that I really thought yr. letter was chaff partly.

I am sorry I cannot come on Sunday next at least I dont think so.[11]

Yrs affec[tion]atly

Janey S C.

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1.  Janey Sevilla Campbell
Janey Sevilla Campbell (ca 1846 - d.1923), née Callander, Lady Archibald Campbell [more]. She founded the 'Pastoral Players', a group who performed plays in the grounds of Coombe House, under the direction of Edward William Godwin (1833-1886), architect and designer [more].

2.  Beatrix Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. Her reply is at #06587 and #13476.

3.  de l'audace toujours de l'audace
Fr., audacity, always audacity.

4.  Faithfull S.
Beaumont and Fletcher's The Faithful Shepherdesse. Godwin's copy had been, according to Beatrix Whistler, lent to Lady Archie, and returned with the director's notes rubbed out.

5.  "As you like it"
Exuberant early comedy by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), playwright [more], following the discontented Orlando as he is exiled from the tyrannical French court of Duke Frederick. Lady Archie had acted as Orlando, and was painted by JW in that role in Note in Green and Brown: Orlando at Coombe (YMSM 317).

6.  his
Edward William Godwin (1833-1886), architect and designer [more].

7.  Perigots
The lovesick Perigot from Edmund Spenser's play, The Shepheardes Calendar.

8.  Fletcher
John Fletcher (1579-1625), dramatist [more].

9.  Beaumont
Francis Beaumont (1584-1616), poet and playwright [more].

10.  "Fair Rosamund"
Rosamund was Henry II's mistress before he married Eleanor of Aquitaine, and he established her at the Royal Manor of Woodstock. She eventually fell from favour and retired to the nunnery at Godstow Abbey. Her story inspired many artists including D. G. Rossetti and J. W. Waterhouse, and writers including Swinburne and Tennyson. The latter's (very long) play Becket was first produced in 1884, with Rosamund as a central character. He envisaged her as a beautiful and extremely naive woman, in Becket's words: 'Rosamund is/ The world's rose, as her name imports her'.

11.  think so.
'think so' was written in the right margin.