The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 19 of 50

System Number: 05340
Date: 19 June 1890
Author: James Runciman[1]
Place: Kingston-on-Thames
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler R235
Document Type: ALS

Fairfield North

19 / 6 / 90

Dear Mr Whistler

1o[2] The book[3] came & I have spent the whole day in going through it. I shd say it is about the wittiest thing going. Wilde's[4] epigram "Vulgarity begins at home &c" is, as you doubtless know, stolen.

2o Henley's[5] note from Scots Observer is good.

3o Between us, I may tell you that a satire by me will soon begin to run through The World. It will be the most terrible thing done in our day - at least so I am told. Before I touch the Art Critics I shall see you: I have not got to them yet.

4o How on earth did a man of genius like you ever get mixed up with a blazing paphead[6] like that man Wilde? I could not stop in a room with him unless I were free to [p. 2] curse. By the way, shd you like to see my address in verse to Oscar Wilde? I had forgotten it, but an editor who preserved a copy told me that it was the best thing of its kind he had seen, so I rooted it out.

5o I want you to explain to me how it is that two chaps like the Wildes who could not earn 200£ a year by fair production of work are put up as personages. Heaven knows I am run after by editors, & I can write where I like & welcome; yet those men, whose English I used to correct amid agonies untold are regarded, I believe, as good journalists, while I am supposed to be a brutal bludgeoner. Can you explain this?

Many thanks.
Yours very truly

James Runciman

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1.  James Runciman
James Runciman (1852-1891), writer [more].

2.  1o
This is an abbreviation of 'primo' meaning first.

3.  book
Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890.

4.  Wilde's
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more]. Runciman appears to have sent this on the following day (#05341).

5.  Henley's
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), journalist, poet and writer [more].

6.  paphead
Defined in Hallowell's Dictionary as a nipple. However it seems more likely that Runciman was using it in the sense of a head full of pap (mush, baby food).