The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 19 of 46

System Number: 04377
Date: [3/4 December 1886][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: William Thomas Stead[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P16
Document Type: ALd

Mr. Whistler & the Times -

To the Editor of the Pall Mall -

Sir -

In your courageous crusade against the demon Dulness and its preposterous surroundings, I think it well that the there should [be] delivered into your hands certain documents for immediate publication, that your readers may be roused quickly and hear again how well fenced in are the foolish in strong places - and how greatly to be desired is their exposure [and?] discomfiture and death, that Truth may prevail -

It happened this way -

The Teacher of the Times[3] arose and taught folly after his kind and spoke evil to the people of that which is good - and I straightway went out and demanded him of his keepers, that I might destroy him as I destroyed those who had gone before him, knowing that were I to "bray him in a mortar[4], among wheat with a pestle, yet" - it were in vain - Whereupon those in authority witheld [sic] him from me and I was would not give him up, and I was told to get me thence and my letter to their cheif was returned to me and I

The letters will I however fancy explain themselves; but it still I might further point out that in the pre

it happened in this way - My letter to

I called at the Times Office with and sent in a letter to the Editor - which The letter was immediately restored to me with the intimation that it's tone made it impossible that it should appear in that paper -

The Criticism in the Times of Saturday called for immediate expostulation and my answer was consequently sent in to the Editor who forthwith returned it with his regrets that it's tone prevented it's appearance in the paper -

Whereupon I thereupon withdrew to write a note the following note to Mr Buckle[5], enclosing again my letter to the Editor of the Times, brought and was now told with the Editors compliments that "my letter would be considered" - Taking this in complete good faith, I left the office - and to discover the next day in print a mutilated remnant that by itself entirely did away sufficient - with reason for it's being there at all - Further comment from me is necessary but

The frank I leave the matter in your hands - with the assurance that hitherto I have found the press always willing to accept correction or comment upon whatever they have initiated themselves -

[p. 2] The question of fair frank fair dealing and good manners I leave you to treat - adding only that hitherto I have always met always with the utmost willingness on the part of the press to to admit into the columns open discussion open all any question of the[ir] own initiation -

To me it seems

I doubt if any Jou Journal in the land would take this preventory [sic] method of upholding its assertions printed dictum and would resent interference with the immaculate character of [mediocrity?] value one unable by scientific

The Times newspaper knowledge to susta maintain it

or [(]dreding interference) would weekly maintain uphold the immaculate character of any contributor unable by scientific knowledge to maintain it -

certainly I have

Surely it is but poor policy this preventory means of preserving authority - and weaken indeed the attempt to hide the blunders

Surely it is but poor policy this preventory attempt to hold maintain in authority the weak and foolish one whose blunders are unable to maintain uphold himself by knowledge to uphold honor that he may blunder on - Rather let him be thrust from among the his confrerès that he may be brayed in a mortar with among wheat - with a pestle with a pestle

that the dignity of the Paper he brings into disrepute be saved -

and the dignity of the Paper he degrades saved -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [3/4 December 1886]
The final version of this letter was published in the Pall Mall Gazette, 4 December 1886 (#11433).

2.  William Thomas 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]. It is not, however, absolutely certain that this was originally intended for the Pall Mall Gazette, as in another letter, JW mentions the Pall Mall Budget, another London based journal (to J. E. Boehm, #00497). The subject of the correspondence was a letter from JW to the Times, #09472, of which the Editor only printed a fragment (see also the letter from the Editor to JW, 1 December 1886, #11409).

3.  The Teacher of the Times ... me and I
This paragraph has been scribbled over.

4.  bray him in a mortar
Proverbs 27:22 - 'Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.'

5.  Mr Buckle
George Earl Buckle (1854-1935), editor of the Times from 1884-1912 [more].