The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 10 of 92

System Number: 05843
Date: 26 November [1878][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: James Jacques Tissot[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler T188
Document Type: ALdS[3]

The White House
Chelsea Embankment -

Mon pauvre Tissot -

Je crois remplir mon dernier devoir d'ami en vous faisant savoir que malgré mes efforts vous êtes peut-être encore sous le joug de la loi - et capable de passer quelque jours en prison! - Le clerc de mon Solicitor[5] est pret à declarer qu'il vous avait servi avec un "summons" - qui tient encore quoique j'avais fait tous [sic] mon possible pour vous absoudre - en expliquant à ces messieurs [p. 2] que dans votre état pitoyable vous n'auriez nullement pu nous être utile -

J'avais ajouté que vous seriez incapable de soutenir même les cadres de Whistler dont vous vous servez! - Enfin j'ai usé de mon eloquence pour prier l'avocat de vous rendre la liberté plutôt que montrer en public à mes juges le spectacle fatal d'un "ami tremblant de terreur comique malgré lui" -

J A McN. Whistler

Mardi. Nov. 26

Inutile mon cher! - la loi est sevère - ainsi fuyez! Absentez vous pour quelques jours pendant qu'il est encore temps - et ne revenez que lorsque les Tribuneaux [sic] vous auront oublié! -

J A McN. Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


My poor Tissot -

I believe I am carrying out my final duty of friendship by letting you know that despite my efforts you are perhaps still at the mercy of the law - and with the possibility of spending several days in prison! - My solicitor's clerk is ready to affirm that he had served you with a summons - which still holds, despite my having done everything in my power to excuse you - by explaining to these gentlemen that in your pitiable state you would have been of no help to us at all -

I had added that you would have been incapable even of holding up those Whistler frames that you use! Finally I used my eloquence to beg the lawyer to give you back your freedom rather than show my judges in public the fatal spectacle of "a friend [shaking with comic terror] despite himself".

J. A McN. Whistler

Tuesday. Nov. 26

Useless my dear fellow! - the law is severe - so flee! Go away for a few days while there is still time - and do not come back until the Courts have forgotten you! -

J. A McN. Whistler


1.  26 November [1878]
This relates to the case of Whistler v. Ruskin, which was heard at the Queen's Bench of the High Court on 25-26 November 1878. A subpoena was served on Tissot on 23 November 1878. Tissot's response, offering to write to the jury, has been lost, but there are several drafts of JW's reply (#05846, #05844) (see Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992, pp. 86-87 and 347-48, n. 57-58).

2.  James Jacques Tissot
Jacques ('James') Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), painter and etcher [more].

3.  ALdS
This is a draft of a letter that was not necessarily sent; JW may have planned to give Tissot a fright.

The address of William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

5.  Le clerc de mon Solicitor
Lawson James McCreary, clerk to the solicitor, J. A. Rose [more]. James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), solicitor [more], listed Tissot among possible witnesses, but in the end he was not called to give evidence.