The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Henley, William Ernest
Record 13 of 50

System Number: 04252
Date: 30 May 1891
Author: William Ernest Henley[1]
Place: Musselburgh
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler N9
Document Type: ALS

N. B.

30 / 5 / 91

My dear Whistler,

Such letters[2] as this of yours are not to be answered. One reads one rejoices, one is grateful, & there is the end.

But I shall think a little the better of my books[3] (if that be possible) for calling it forth; & a good deal the better (which is easy enough) of myself for having the wit to send them to you.

'Tis rare, I think, for an artist in one medium to be conscious of the possibilities & alive to the effect of other media. But when it happens, then is there Joy beyond the common - I have had much delight in work of yours, [p. 2] & it is a thought to keep by me & to make much of that I have been able to visit your [nerves?] with pleasure in return.

For the rest, remember what I said to you in London. We have been so graceless as to sport with you; but even with the admission & on the understanding that we were dealing, when all was said, with an Artist[4]!

And let us be friends & allies if we may. Next to creation & appreciation, the la vraie affaire est bien d'écraser l'Infâme[5] - the ignoble Philistine, the bleating imbecile to whom all art is a seven-sealed book; & in that at least I am with you jusqu'aux autels.

Forgive this lapse into French. 'Tis a consequence of Russian influenza[6], & shall not recur,

Ever Since[re]ly Yours,

W. E. H.[7]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  William Ernest Henley
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), journalist, poet and writer [more].

2.  letters
Not located.

3.  books
JW had a copy of Henley's book, Views and Reviews: essays in appreciation, London, 1890 (GUL Sp Coll Whistler 57).

4.  Artist
Double underlined.

5.  l'Infâme
'la vraie ... l'Infâme', Fr. (quoting François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778), writer [more]), the true mission is to crush fanaticism; and 'jusqu'aux autels', Fr., right up to the altars.

6.  Russian influenza
Both JW and Henley had been victims of the 'flu epidemics.

7.  W. E. H.
Double underlined.