UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Standard, The (London)
Record 1 of 31

System Number: 11688
Date: [1/10 December 1878][1]
Author: Fine Art Society[2]
Place: London
Recipient: Charles Augustus Howell[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler LB 11/111
Document Type: PD


WHISTLER V. RUSKIN[4].

MR. RUSKIN'S COSTS.

A CONSIDERABLE OPINION PREVAILING, THAT A LIFELONG, HONEST, ENDEAVOUR ON THE PART OF MR. RUSKIN TO FURTHER THE CAUSE OF ART SHOULD NOT BE CROWNED BY HIS BEING CAST IN COSTS TO THE AMOUNT OF SEVERAL HUNDREDS OF POUNDS, THE FINE ART SOCIETY HAVE AGREED TO SET ON FOOT A SUBSCRIPTION TO DEFRAY HIS EXPENSES ARISING OUT OF THE LATE ACTION OF WHISTLER V. RUSKIN.

PERSONS WILLING TO CO-OPERATE WILL OBLIGE BY COMMUNICATING WITH THE SOCIETY, 148, NEW BOND STREET, LONDON.

[p. 2] EXTRACT FROM THE "STANDARD" NEWSPAPER, NOV. 30.

"IT IS SATISFACTORY TO FIND THAT A MOVEMENT HAS BEEN SET ON FOOT BY THE FINE ART SOCIETY TO DEFRAY THE COSTS INCURRED BY MR. RUSKIN IN THE ACTION WHICH MR. WHISTLER WAS SUFFICIENTLY ILL-ADVISED TO BRING AGAINST HIM. IT IS ANNOUNCED THAT 'A CONSIDERABLE OPINION PREVAILING THAT A LIFE-LONG, HONEST ENDEAVOUR ON THE PART OF MR. RUSKIN TO FURTHER THE CAUSE OF ART SHOULD NOT BE CROWNED BY HIS BEING CAST IN COSTS TO THE AMOUNT OF SEVERAL HUNDREDS OF POUNDS, THE FINE ART SOCIETY HAVE AGREED TO SET ON FOOT A SUBSCRIPTION TO DEFRAY HIS EXPENSES ARISING OUT OF THE LATE ACTION. ANYONE WISHING TO CO-OPERATE WILL OBLIGE BY COMMUNICATING WITH THE SOCIETY, 148, NEW BOND STREET, LONDON.' WE CANNOT DOUBT THAT THE REQUISITE SUM WILL BE VERY SPEEDILY FORTHCOMING. FOR ADMITTING ONLY FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT THAT MR.WHISTLER'S ECCENTRIC PRODUCTIONS ARE THE REVERSE OF WHAT MR. RUSKIN SAID OF THEM, NO ONE WILL FOR A MOMENT BELIEVE THAT THE SLADE PROFESSOR DID NOT MOST CONSCIENTIOUSLY BELIEVE EVERY WORD HE WROTE; AND IT IS TO THE LAST DEGREE DESIRABLE THAT COMPETENT CRITICS SHOULD BE ALLOWED BOLDLY AND FEARLESSLY TO EXPRESS THEIR OPINION. IT IS WELL KNOWN THAT MR. RUSKIN HAS SPENT A CONSIDERABLE PORTION OF HIS FORTUNE IN THE ENDEAVOUR TO ENCOURAGE ART FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE; AND THAT THE AUTHOR OF SUCH NOBLE WORKS AS THE 'SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE' AND OTHERS WHICH HAVE HAD SO ENORMOUS AN INFLUENCE FOR GOOD UPON THE LIVES OF YOUNG MEN, SHOULD AT THIS TIME OF HIS LIFE BE CALLED UPON TO PAY FOR EXPRESSING HIS DELIBERATE CONVICTIONS, WOULD BE A PAINFUL REFLECTION TO ALL WHOM HE HAS BENEFITED. SOME OF MR. RUSKIN'S WORDS WERE UNQUESTIONABLY STRONG, BUT THE WRITER THOUGHT THEY WERE NOT STRONGER THAN THE CASE MERITED, AND A JURY PRACTICALLY SUPPORTED THAT VIEW BY AWARDING MR. WHISTLER THE SUM OF ONE FARTHING. OF COURSE, MR. WHISTLER HAS COSTS TO PAY, TOO, AND THE AMOUNT HE IS TO RECEIVE FROM MR. RUSKIN, EVEN IF ECONOMICALLY EXPENDED, WILL HARDLY GO FAR TO SATISFY THE CLAIMS OF HIS LEGAL ADVISERS. BUT HE HAS ONLY TO PAINT, OR, AS WE BELIEVE HE EXPRESSES IT, 'KNOCK OFF,' THREE OR FOUR 'SYMPHONIES' OR 'HARMONIES' - OR PERHAPS HE MIGHT TRY HIS HAND AT A 'SET OF QUADRILLES IN PEACOCK BLUE?' - AND A WEEK'S LABOUR WILL SET ALL SQUARE."


This document is protected by copyright.


Notes:

1.  [1/10 December 1878]
The case of Whistler v. Ruskin was heard at the Queen's Bench of the High Court on 25-26 November 1878. This press-cutting in this pamphlet is dated 30 November and expresses approval of the appeal launched by the Fine Art Society. This pamphlet must have been produced after the publication of the article, and probably in the early part of December.

2.  Fine Art Society
On 29 November 1878, the Fine Art Society launched a successful appeal to raise money for Ruskin's legal costs (see J. A. Rose to JW, #05231). A parallel attempt on JW's behalf failed.

3.  Charles Augustus Howell
The pamphlet was stuck in the first of two albums of documents by Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more] (see #02788).

4.  Ruskin
John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more]; his libel of JW appeared in Ruskin, John, 'Letter the Seventy-ninth' Fors Clavigera, 2 July 1877, pp. 181-213.