UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: book, Eden v Whistler
Record 4 of 17

System Number: 03965
Date: [25 October 1897][1]
Author: Stéphane Mallarmé[2]
Place: Valvins
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler M237
Document Type: ALS[3]


Valvins,

Lundi

Merci Whistler,

votre lettre me pénètre comme ce qui émane de vous. Cher ami, je vous ai connu seul et, tel jadis, je vous aimai tout de suite, à cause de votre rareté; maintenant que, par le crime du destin, vous êtes seul encore, [p. 2] après m'avoir fait admirer quelqu'un d'unique aussi, je ne peux vous en isoler: c'est, n'est-ce pas? un privilège de l'amitié que de ne pas se prêter à l'horreur d'une pareille séparation. Toujours la présence de Celle[4], qui fut le bonheur, reste autour de vous, quand je vous [p. 3] rencontre; il est exquis à vous de l'avoir senti, dans le peu d'heures récentes, ici, d'intimité, que personne n'oubliera. Ma femme et ma fille veulent leur part de ce que je dis. Malgré le soleil durable, tout annonce leur rentrée à Paris, les préparatifs achevés, vers la fin de cette semaine. Geneviève[5] [p. 4] a hâte de revoler du côte de son image; elle se sent très belle, et captive, autrepart[.] Quelle munificence, Whistler, et aussi la bonne affection, d'avoir pris les devants, avec cette merveille, sur un souhait secret! De tout coeur, la main. Je serai rappelé en ville par les trompettes triomphales du procès[6] et peut-être même, si [7]j'ai terminé un travail et ma fermeture hivernale du vieux logis, dès le Dimanche soir avant-veille.

A vous

Stéphane Mallarmé


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

Dear Whistler,

Your letter stirs me in the way that what you radiate does. Dear friend, I knew you alone and, as in the past, I liked you immediately, because of your rarity; now that, by the crime of destiny, you are alone again, [p. 2] after having led me to admire another unique being, I cannot isolate you from her: is it not a privilege of friendship to resist go along with the horror of such a separation. The presence of The one, who personified joy, always remains around you, when I meet [p. 3] you; it is delightful of you to have felt it, in the few recent hours, of intimacy spent here, that nobody shall forget. My wife and my daughter wish to add their voices to mine. In spite of the lasting sunshine, everything indicates that, once the preparations are finished, they will return to Paris, towards the end of this week. Genevieve [p. 4] is impatient to flee her image; she feels very beautiful, and captive, elsewhere[.] What generosity, Whistler, and also warm affection, to have taken the initiative, with this marvel, from a secret wish! With all my heart, my hand. I will be called back to town by the triumphant trumpets of the trial and perhaps even, if I have finished a piece of work and my winter closure of the old lodge, from Sunday evening two days in advance.

Yours,

Stéphane Mallarmé


Notes:

1.  [25 October 1897]
Dated by the almanac and the sequence of correspondence.

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], no. CL, p. 266.

4.  Celle
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

5.  Geneviève
Stephanie Françoise Geneviève Mallarmé (1864-1919), later Mme Bonniot [more], who had just posed for Rose et gris: Geneviève Mallarmé (YMSM 485).

6.  proces
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. This 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.  si
'si ... fermeture' is written in the left margin, and the rest in the left margin of p. 3, at right angles to the main text.