The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 4 of 4

System Number: 08707
Date: 17 July 1884
Author: Walter Dowdeswell[1]
Place: London
Recipient: [unknown newspaper][2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Rare Books and Manuscripts Division
Document Type: ALd



July 17th 1884


Dear Sir

The writer[3] in last month's number on Mr W - & his Artifice[4] signs himself at the commencement a Philistine - and the his claim to be one becomes the more evident as one is quite justified on reading his article to the end is I am quite prepared to admit the justice his claim of the position he takes - This however places me causes me much diffidence in writing my reply, for how can [I in?] I argue with one who claims to be and really is one who knows nothing of the subject he treats, discussion is of course under these circumstances absurd, and I have but one too little [in the only?] the only course open to me, to take the somewhat important position of one who merely gives a statement & to endeavour to give him the information he desires - or to use the words of Jam Whistler himself, "I am not arguing with you, I'm only telling you.[5]" That he will place any value upon it I do not for a moment imagine! [when?] but for the sake of others I will endeavour as far as possible to point out to him where he is wrong.

[p. 2] In attempting to reply my to the the [sic] article on Mr. W & his Artifice by a Philistine in last month's number, I naturally feel considerable diffidence, [and could fain be to?] I would justify would hurt the writer's Philistine's feelings, which he informs us are of a particularly delicate nature, but, I cannot could I avoid it, but he must allow me to remind him that argument between with a Philistine is out of the Question, in fact it - it is impossible to argue with him, the argument he courts invites is impossible between us, for what can he, being a Philistine know of the matter? Had he signed himself "[two illegible words]" or "a Pre Raphaelite" or a connoisseur of any branch of Art the case would have been different for he would be laying claim at any rate, to consideration, but to argue with me who glories in knowing nothing whatever of the subject is of course absurd.

[p. 3] In replying to the article in your last number by a Philistine I cannot

What am I to say in answer to The Philistine? I really scarcely know how to commence - He is so deliciously innocent, - Innocent, so thoroughly a Philistine of the modern sense of the term that I in replying to him I am afraid of falling into the error of merely uttering truisms. However, he like a true member of his class in knowing just a little tiny bit and that little but [scarce?] had knowledge as he tells [us me?] informs us in his article with charming naiveté & not by observation of his own but by with second hand from other people, in [fact?] is cannot be argued with, so he must be told - If he could only forget for a moment what other people have told him, he would stand a better chance than most people of enjoying some of the best things we have of Art - But no, I fear he does, & will continue to cling lovingly to the what he does know, & will continue to "look upon anything new in sentiment as a personal affront. - "

[p. 4] [Let?] The best thing in his Article is his description explanation of what originality is in Art - I hasten to accept it, as it is a perfectly just [word?] & good [one?] First of all Mr Whistler is not the fashion. he personally may, of that I care little, but his work is certainly, the most [important?] of any man I know.

Near Monmouth[6]             £126 guin

Seven Sisters               78 . 5. 0 

Windsor      —————————      57 .15. 0

Greenwich (C. Robertson[7])    12 .12. 0

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Walter Dowdeswell
Walter Dowdeswell (1858-1929), art dealer [more].

2.  [unknown newspaper]
Possibly The Artist.

3.  The writer
The text is written the opposite way up from the heading.

4.  Mr W - & his Artifice
Not located.

5.  I am not arguing with you, I'm only telling you.
Not located.

6.  Near Monmouth
This list, probably of etchings sold by Messrs Dowdeswell, has nothing to do with the rest of the document and is written the opposite way up. The titles Seven Sisters, Windsor, and Greenwich have been identified as titles of prints by Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. See Harrington, Henry Nazeby, The Engraved Work of Sir Francis Seymour Haden, P. R. E., Liverpool, 1910. Near Monmouth may also be a work by Haden.

7.  C. Robertson
Possibly Captain Charles Gray Robertson, soldier, 8th (King's) Regiment [more].