The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 97th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Academy, London, 1865
Record 9 of 14

System Number: 05622
Date: 3 January 1866
Author: Algernon Charles Swinburne[1]
Place: Henley on Thames
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler S268
Document Type: ALS

Holm Wood
Henley on Thames

Jan. 3d / 66

Cher père

Je t'envoie un journal Américain[2] qu'on vient de me remettre, dans lequel il est question non seulement de ton indigne fils mais de son père vénéré. J'espère que du moins cela te fera rire, sans doute de ton pays - mais on se prosterne à tes genoux: c'est assez réjouissant. Il est évident qu'on n'a reçu que des louanges à ton égard.

Mille amitiés à ton frère [3]et à tous les nôtres.
Ton fils

A C Swinburne

On vient de publier sur moi les feuilletons écrasants à Boston. A New York on dit que je suis fou, parceque [sic] je mets V. Hugo[4] au-dessus des poètes Anglais. Tu vois qu'on m'égorge sur le cadavre du maitre - comme un jeune page de mélodrame.

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Dear Father

I am sending you an American Journal that I have just been given, which talks not only of your unworthy son but also of his revered father. I hope at the very least that it will make you laugh, no doubt at your country - but they worship the ground that you walk on: it is quite heartening. It is clear that they have heard nothing but praise of you.

Many kind regards to your brother and all our friends.

Your son
A C Swinburne

They have just published some shocking gossip about me in Boston. In New York they say that I am mad, because I rank V. Hugo above the English poets. You can see how they slaughter me over the master's corpse - like a young page in a melodrama.


1.  Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), poet and critic [more]. At this time their relationship was very close, and he called JW 'père' and signed himself 'fils'.

2.  journal Américain
Not identified. Swinburne had written a poem, 'Before the Mirror', which was attached to the frame of Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52) when it was exhibited at 97th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Academy, London, 1865. It was published in Swinburne's Songs and Ballads, London, 1866. The review may have referred to the poem and/or the painting.

3.  ton frère
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

4.  V. Hugo
Victor Marie Hugo (1802-1885), poet, novelist and dramatist [more].