UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Beurdeley, Paul
Record 9 of 43

System Number: 03952
Date: [11/12 February 1895][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Stéphane Mallarmé[2]
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler M224
Document Type: ALS[3]


Longs Hotel - New Bond Street -

Mon très cher Mallarmé -

Vous avez été comme toujours bon et gentil on ne peut plus - et parfait! - Beurdeley[4] vous aura déja dit que je lui ai écrit une petite lettre l'autre soir - Et maintenant je viens de finir avec Monsieur Webb[5] (mon avoue ici, que vous connaissez je crois) le grand document de notre plan de bataille! - Mon cher ami c'est devenu un chef d'oeuvre! - C'est en Anglais, necessairement mais vous pourrez facilement lire tout cela - et je suis sur que Schwob se ferait un vrai plaisir de le traduire pour que Monsieur Beurdeley puisse s'en servir sérieusement - Voyez donc Beurdeley - quelle chance qu'il soit votre voisin! - je dit ceci pour ma conscience déja bien usée! - Et dites lui de vous faire savoir le moment de l'arrivée des papiers importants - Il devrait les recevoir Mercredi matin - et il serait charmant que vous puissiez être présent -

Je lui avais promis un second écrit - en français - mais je voyais [p. 2] le temps s'écouler, et je reserve tout cela pour mon arrivée - En attendant, comme vous le verrez bien, j'ai mis du mien dans toute la construction de celui-çi[.] Car nous pensons qu'il est bien que Monsieur Beurdeley voit de cette façon la foi qu'a son client dans sa cause, et un peu son idée de la bataille - D'un autre coté le savoir légal de Monsieur Webb, fait que l'ordre dans l'arrangement des pieces est bien plus propre à soumettre au jugement de Monsieur Beurdeley - qui du reste, je suis convaincu, saura gré à son confrère distingué, d'avoir préparé scientifiquement la charte des eaux dans lesquelles doit voguer notre petit yacht de guerre sous les ordres du Grand Amiral Beurdeley! -

J'ai manqué le Courier hier au soir - et maintenant à la grande hâte mon cher ami je vous envoie ceci - Allez donc voir Beurdeley n'est ce pas demain matin en cas qu'il ait reçu les papiers direct de chez Webb - Vous lui lirez ce petit mot d'explication en attendant que je lui écrive - Je vois que j'ai me suis permis de parler avec trop peu de ceremonie de Schwob[6]. Mais nous le prions avec Whibley[7] de nous aider - car je n'ai nullement l'intention de vous approcher avec des corvées pareilles! Mais vous pouvez demain lire le document une[8] première fois avec Beurdeley - n'est ce pas? et plus tard vous me pardonnerez! -

Mais mon ami maintenant que mon grand avocat voit que la situation est sauvée, il nous aura une autre remise! car par ce temps cruel il est impossible pour nous de bouger - et notre pauvre Lady Trixie[9] est toujours malade!!! -

Elle est tres touchée des choses que vous écrivez pour lui dans les lettres! et vous envoie à tous ses souvenirs affectueux.

[butterfly signature]


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

My very dear Mallarmé -

As ever you have been as good and kind as can be - and perfect! - Beurdeley will already have told you that I wrote him a short letter the other evening - And now, Mr Webb (my lawyer here, whom you know I believe), and I have just finished writing up our grand battle plan! - My dear friend it has become a work-of-art! - It is in English, necessarily but you will be able to read it all quite easily - and I am sure that Schwob will take great pleasure in translating it so that Mr Beurdeley can make serious use of it - So you see Beurdeley - how fortunate it is that he is your neighbour! - I say this for the sake of my conscience, already worn quite thin! - And tell him to inform you of the arrival time for the important papers - He ought to receive them on Wednesday morning - and it would be charming if you could be present -

I had promised him a second written version - in French - but I was aware of [p. 2] time running out, and I am saving all of that for my arrival - In the meantime, as you will see, I have applied myself entirely into the task of putting this one together [.] For we think that this is a good way to demonstrate to Mr Beurdeley the faith that his client has in his cause, and to an extent his perception of the battle - Another point is that Mr Webb's legal knowledge, means that the arrangement of the evidence is much more organised to be submitted for Mr Beurdeley's appraisal - who moreover, I am convinced, will be grateful to his distinguished contemporary, for having scientifically charted the waters in which our little warship must navigate under the orders of the Great Admiral Beurdeley! -

I missed the Post last night - and now my dear friend I am sending you this in great haste - So do go and see Beurdeley tomorrow morning in case he has received the papers directly from Webb - Read him this little note of explanation for the time being until I write to him - I see that I allowed myself to speak of Schwob with too little ceremony. But we can do it with Whibley's assistance, for I have absolutely no intention of approaching you with such tasks! But tomorrow you will be able to read the document for the first time with Beurdeley - is that not so? And later you will forgive me! -

But my friend now that my lawyer can see that the situation is saved, he will obtain another deferral for us! For in this cruel weather it is impossible for us to move - and our poor Lady Trixie is still unwell!!! -

She is very touched by the things you write for her in the letters! And she sends you all her affectionate regards.

[butterfly signature]


Notes:

1.  [11/12 February 1895]
Dated in an unknown hand, possibly that of C. Barbier, 'fevrier 1895'. Dated by references to JW's appeal in the Whistler-Eden trial.

2.  Stéphane Mallarmé
Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), Symbolist writer and poet [more]. He replied on [13 February 1895], #03953.

3.  ALS
Published in Barbier, Carl P., ed., Correspondance Mallarmé-Whistler: Histoire de la grande amitié de leurs dernières années, Paris, 1964 [GM, A.28], no. CXXXIII, pp. 235-36.

4.  Beurdeley
Paul Beurdeley (1842-after 1902), advocate at the Cour d'Appel, Paris [more].

5.  Monsieur Webb
William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more]. JW's dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more], over possession of Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), started on 14 February 1894, when, with the picture seemingly nearing completion, Eden sent JW a 'Valentine', a cheque for 100 guineas. JW thought this inadequate, and said that the work was incomplete and he was dissatisfied with it. He refused to hand over the portrait, on the grounds that it was the artist's right to withhold a picture in such circumstances. When Eden instituted legal proceedings in November 1894 in order to retrieve the portrait, JW returned all monies that had been paid to him. The Eden v. Whistler trial opened at the Civil Tribunal on 6 March 1895. The verdict on 13 March went against JW, who appealed to the Cour de Cassation. The appeal opened on 17 November 1897, and on 2 December JW won his case and was permitted to keep the picture provided that he did not 'make use of it, public or private'. JW published his account of the affair in Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24]. In a final appeal in April 1900 Eden was ordered to pay all expenses.

6.  Schwob
Marcel Schwob (1867-1905), writer [more].

7.  Whibley
Charles Whibley (1859-1930), writer and journalist [more].

8.  une
'Une ... remise' is written in the left margin of p. 1 and the rest at the top of p. 1, all at right angles to the main text.

9.  Lady Trixie
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. She was ill with cancer, and died the following year.