The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: press, letters published in
Record 18 of 141

System Number: 05394
Date: 24 February 1885[1]
Author: William Baptiste Scoones[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler S38
Document Type: ALS


Warm Greetings from No. 14[3] my dear J. McN. W. And now, regardez moi entre les deux yeux[4].

In the presence of 600 or more people you established for yourself by means of an address[5] as brimful of power as it was of ornateness & brilliancy, a distinctly independent & unique position -& not without much thoughtful care & anxiety.

On this account, and in the opinion of a multitude of friends, you left the Hall with many inches on your intellectual & professional stature.

By a very tour de force you unmasked the rank and file of Latter-Day Impostors, & dissociated yourself from those whose sole claim to notoriety & scorn is impudent buffoonery - buffoonery, mind you, that battens on the publicity which the good nature of others puts in their way.

[p. 2] We all hoped you would not seriously handicap your undoubted success by so much as flinging out a stray morsel* * Vide[6] letters in the 'World'[7] today of public notice to feed these most hungry advertisement-mongers.

By a consensus of opinion you placed these folk on their bier. Now in Heavens name do not compromise yr dignity & fritter away all that enthusiastic applause by resuscitating them.

And above all don't be angry with Yours sincerely

W Baptiste Scoones

24 Feb 1885

[p. 4] Scoones[8]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  24 February 1885
Although dated by the author '24 Feb 1885', the inserted note 'Vide letters in the 'World' today' might have been added the following morning before the letter was posted.

2.  William Baptiste Scoones
William Baptiste Wordsworth Scoones (1838 or 1839-1906), civil servant [more].

3.  No. 14
Scoones lived at No. 14, Chelsea Embankment, S. W.

4.  regardez moi entre les deux yeux
Fr., listen to me (lit. 'look me straight in the eye').

5.  address
A reference to JW's 'Ten O'Clock Lecture,' his major public statement of his aesthetic ideas. He delivered the lecture for the first time on 20 February 1885 at the Prince's Hall, Piccadilly. It was repeated subsequently at several other venues, including Oxford and Cambridge. A version of the text of the lecture may be found at #06791.

6.  Vide
This addition is made on page three, and is linked by an asterisk. Although it appers as 'Vide', it is possible that it was meant as 'Wde', an abbreviation for 'Wilde' (see below).

7.  Letters in the 'World'
Perhaps a reference to JW's exchange with Oscar Wilde in the society paper, the World over Wilde's review of the Ten O'Clock Lecture. See JW to O. Wilde, #11405, and O. Wilde to JW, #07057. The letters were published together in the World, vol. 22, no. 556, 25 February 1885, p. 14. They were later published under the title 'Tenderness in Tite Street' in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 161-63.

8.  Scoones
Double underlined. Written in pencil by JW.