UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Beurdeley, Paul
Record 11 of 43

System Number: 03954
Date: [16 February 1895][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Stéphane Mallarmé[2]
Place: Paris
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler M226
Document Type: ALS[3]


LONG'S HOTEL.
NEW BOND STREET.
LONDON. W.

'16 fev 1895'

Votre lettre le matin, mon cher Poète, est attendue avec une impatience!!

Vous pouvez donc vous imaginer avec quel plaisir nous venons de lire votre interview avec Beurdeley[4]. -

Parfait - mais voiçi ce que je ne comprends pas. Comment peut-il me demander une preuve quelconque du "renvoi de la somme" quand, dans notre dossier, il a toute la correspondance [p. 2] entre mon avoué Monsieur Webb[5], et les avoués d'Eden[6], Messieurs Bayliss[7] à ce propos - Il y a toute les preuves possible du cheque pour la somme envoyé aux avoues de Sir William - les lettres [illegible] en accusant le [illegible] reçu - et les lettres attestant le renvoi du cheque à mon avoué - Aussi y a-t-il le conte rendu de la visite de Monsieur Webb à Messieurs Baylis, tendant une seconde fois le cheque - et le refus final de ces Messieurs de la part de leur client - Tout est complet - Aussi je ne puis que supposer que Monsieur Beurdeley n'avait pas encore parcouru tout le document - Etait-il arrivé au moment de votre visite? Et l'avez vous lu? Monsieur Webb proposait, à la fin, d'envoyer le cheque en question à Monsieur Beurdeley pour être payé par lui à la Cour ou déposé a la Cour - "payed into Court" - comme cela se ferait içi en cas pareil - avant la procedure? -

Est ce que Monsieur Beurdeley avait reçu une lettre de moi hier matin? et l'avez vous vu? - De cette façon je tache de lui envoyer, de jour en jour, des détails pour ajouter à ce que l'on pourrait appeler le fini de nos preparations! -

Vous voyez le petit entrefilet ci inclu? - Qu est ce que cela peut vouloir dire? - ou plutot, comment cela a-t-il pu se faufiler déja dans les journaux? Pourriez vous en savoir la source? -

A propos Beurdeley doit savoir qui sont les avoués d'Eden à Paris? et l'avocat qui doit plaider pour lui? Qu est ce qu'il en pense? - Est il à Paris Eden? -

Hier j'ai encore écrit à Monsieur Beurdeley pour lui expliquer le coutume des "Valentines" en Angleterre - et curieusement il se trouvait être justement le jour même! - "St Valentines day" - le 14. Fevrier!!

Etonnant! n'est pas? et de bonne augure! - Je vous envoie aussi [p. 3] un petit commentaire sur cette fête que je viens de lire dans le Daily Telegraph de ce matin. A-t-on pareille fête en France? -

Voila ma lettre qui devient d'une bonne longueur - comme dans les bons temps passés! -

Qu'est ce donc que la piece dont le héro s'appelle Wissler[8]? J'espère que l'on a été pour lui "respectueux", comme dirait Montesquiou[9]?! -

Dites à Beurdeley, avec tous mes meilleurs compliments qu'il y a encore un autre point important sur lequel il y aurait à insister - Cela est que j'aurais [two illegible words] pu fournir, si bon me semblait, le moindre bout de "croquis" selon l'entente avec Moore[10] - tandis, qu'avec mon ardeur d'Artiste, je continuais, de jour en jour, à l'oeuvre avec l'enthousiasme que n'a que faire du prix - et que finalement notre noble Sportsman allait posseder le Tableau achevé que vous connaissez, sans payer un shilling de plus qu'il n'aurait été forcé de payer pour le moindre soufle d'esquisse. [two or three illegible words] Quand tout à coup, par sa rusée canaillerie, il perd le tout! -

Monsieur[11] Webb vient d'entrer - Il enverra les originaux des lettres venant des avoués d'Eden concernant le cheque - Aussi demandez à Beurdeley si il veut la somme, £105, pour payer à la Cour?

Quel temps terrible!

Je compte sur le grand pouvoir de Beurdeley - de laisser passer tous ces tempetes, cyclones et "blizzards" avant de nous faire tenter la Manche furieuse!! -

L'indiscretion de l'entrefilet qui parle "d'un curieux procès", me fait penser à la necessité de conserver le plus grand mystère sur toutes nos surprises de bataille! - Il ne faut pour rien au monde que l'on sache que la condition du tableau! pour cela surtout pas de séquestration!!! Il faut que personnne ne voit le tableau jusqu'au dernier moment du procès pour que nous ayons notre grand bouquet!!

De nous deux[12], Mille choses mon ami à vous tous[13] -

[butterfly signature]


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

Your letter each morning, my dear Poet, is eagerly awaited!!

You can therefore imagine the extent of our pleasure in reading your interview with Beurdeley. -

Perfect - but here is what I fail to understand. How can he request some kind of proof from me of the "dispatch of the payment" when, in our file, he has all the correspondence [p. 2] between my lawyer Mr Webb, and Eden's lawyers, Messrs Bayliss on this matter - It contains all the proofs possible for the cheque for the payment sent to Sir William's lawyers - the letters [illegible] confirming the [illegible] receipt - and the letters acknowledging the return of the cheque to my lawyer - Also there is the report from Mr Webb's visit to Messrs Baylis, offering the cheque for a second time - and the final refusal of these gentlemen on behalf of their client - Everything is there - So I can only presume that Mr Beurdeley had not yet gone over the entire document - Had it arrived when you visited? And did you read it? Mr Webb suggested, in the end, sending the cheque in question to Mr Beurdeley to be paid by him in Court or deposited at the Court - "paid into Court" - as would be done here in a similar case - before the proceedings? -

Did Mr Beurdeley receive a letter from me yesterday morning? And did you see it? - I am trying in this way to send him, from one day to the next, details to add to what we could call the finish of our preparations! -

Did you see the enclosed report? - What could it mean? - or rather, how has it already managed to find its way into the newspapers? Could you locate its source? -

By the way Beurdeley must know who Eden's lawyers in Paris are? and the lawyer who is to plead on his behalf? - What does he think of him? - Is Eden in Paris? -

Yesterday I wrote to Mr Beurdeley to explain the Valentine's custom in England to him - and curiously enough it just happened to be that very day! - "St Valentines day" - the 14th of February!!

Astonishing! Is it not? And a good omen! - I am also sending you [p. 3] a little commentary on the occasion that I have just read in this morning's Daily Telegraph. Does the same celebration exist in France? -

My letter is now becoming quite long - just like in the good old days!

What on earth is this play in which the hero is called Wissler? I hope that he was treated "respectfully", as Montesquiou would say?! -

Tell Beurdeley, with my kindest regards that there is still an important point which must be emphasised - namely that I would have been able to supply, had I seen fit, the smallest scrap of a "sketch" according to the agreement with Moore - whilst, with my Artist's ardour, I continued, from one day to the next, with such an enthusiasm as could only increase the value of the work - so that finally our noble Sportsman would own the finished Painting with which you are familiar, without paying a shilling more than he would have been forced to pay for the roughest of sketches. When suddenly, through his cunning ruse, he loses everything! -

Mr Webb has just come in - He will send the originals of the letters from Eden's lawyers referring to the cheque - Also ask Beurdeley if he wants the sum, of £105, to pay in Court?

What horrible weather!

I am counting on the great power of Beurdeley - to let all these storms, cyclones and "blizzards" go by before having us take on the furious English Channel!! -

The indiscretion of the report which talks "of a curious trial", makes me think of the need to shroud all our battle surprises in the greatest air of mystery - There is absolutely no reason on earth for me the condition of the painting to be known! For that reason above all, it should not be impounded!!! It is essential that nobody see the painting until the very last moment of the trial so that it may be our crowning piece.

From both of us, Many kind wishes my friend to all of you -

[butterfly signature]


Envelope:

à
Monsieur Stéphane Mallarmé
89. Rue de Rome -
Paris -
France -
[stamp:] POSTAGE & REVENUE / 2½D
[postmark:] LONDON. W. / 66 / 7 / FE16 / 95


Notes:

1.  [16 February 1895]
Dated from the postmark; and by the date written in an unknown hand at the top of p. 1.

2.  Stéphane Mallarmé
Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), Symbolist writer and poet [more].

3.  ALS
Published by Barbier, Carl P., ed., Correspondance Mallarmé-Whistler: Histoire de la grande amitié de leurs dernières années, Paris, 1964 [GM, A.28], pp. 238-40, no. CXXXV.

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].

6.  Eden
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.

7.  Bayliss
Watkins, Baylis and Co., London solicitors representing Eden in the legal dispute over Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408).

8.  Wissler
Samuel Wissler, the restless, idealistic, student hero of the play Elën, by Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, which was on at the Théâtre-Libre (see #03953).

9.  Montesquiou
Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855-1921), Symbolist writer and poet, and collector [more].

10.  Monsieur
'Monsieur ... Cour' is written in the left margin of p. 1; 'Quel temps ... fureiuse!!!' in the right margin of p. 1; 'L'indiscretion ... sur toute' in the left margin of p. 2; and the remainder at the top of p. 1, all but the last at right angles to the main text.

11.  Moore
George Moore (1852-1933), novelist and art critic [more].

12.  nous deux
JW and Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

13.  vous tous
Marie Mallarmé (b. 1835), née Gerhard, wife of Stéphane Mallarmé [more] and Stephanie Françoise Geneviève Mallarmé (1864-1919), later Mme Bonniot [more].