The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 00449
Date: [5 January 1868][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Marquis D'Azeglio[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler B229
Document Type: ALd[3]

To his Excellency the Marquis D'Alzeglio [sic]

Sir -

May I do myself the honor of addressing you as President of the Com. of the Burl. Club - With reference to their late proceedings[4] which resulted in a vote of expulsion against me - I am induced to do so, in consideration of the fact that you were unavoidably absent at the meeting and with a view to bringing immediately before you the same facts that I have already submitted to my proposer & seconder Mr. Boxall & Mr Huth[5]: To them I wrote as follows .....

[p. 2] Having thus placed before you the facts regar of which I felt in justice to myself, the club had not put themselves in a proper position to receive I am induced to hope that you may find liesure [sic] to peruse a few further remarks details as to the exact course of action officially adopted in my case - I think it is such that a Gentleman of your character and position would be very reluctant to invest with his sanction -

- On the 11th of June - I received this letter[6] -

[p. 3] It was not till four months after this, and at a time when most p members of the Club would naturally be out of town that I heard any thing further[7] of the matter -

[dotted line across page]

...It was Surely after this a most unhandsome and uncalled act to placcard [sic] my name in the club to greet the casual eye of any member or visitor happening in - One must I fear look upon it as and was not this almost malevolent and unfair in it's intention, when we find the circular drawn as[8] follows and sent to all members carefully excluded all mention of me -

[p. 4] My name in the circular[9] would properly have called roused the attention of all members who took any interest in the matter - while it's being at the very same time posted in the club room could have been of no result save that of but to produce a prejudicing and act as a stigma against me - was a deep and needless though safe wound inflicted upon an unheard Gentleman for the purpose of unfairly crea prejudicing his position. -

The meeting itself was called within four days - There is no rule to the contrary - for there is no rule at all concerning it in the book - Customs and rules of other clubs usually require fifteen days notice -

[p. 5] Another remarkable point fact as to proof of the tone of the proceedings evenings proceedings is the fact that a resolution to the effect offered suggesting that the Committee having alreadingy given their fixed opinion, they the should take no part in the voting," was over[r]uled - This appeal question was p made, made as the motion said, to the "'Good taste" of the room - how ineffectual[l]y is shown by the fact that Mr H - himself together with the Com voted!! - not only the Com- but Mr Haden himself voted![10] in the triple capacity self-instituted novel position of accuser informer and jurorJudge!! -

[p. 6] I may say that I will here add athe copy of the letter since received from Mr W. Rossetti[11] -

A few further details with reference to the origin of all this viz: the quarrel with Mr Haden -

The friend[12] just dead of whom I have spoken, was Mr Haden's partner - and to show the tone of his [...]

He took charge of his burial funeral and allowed absenting himself had him to be burried [sic] without clergyman or service of any kind - without a soul to follow his coffin - And

My brother[13] and I were enabled through the accidental kindness of a Clerk at the Mairie to hear of funeral in time to reach the ground as the Coffin was being lowered in the grave and [...]

[p. 7] Through He has since been exhumed[14] and interred in the Brompton Cemetery - England

But death has not saved his memory in Mr Haden's hands, and in a pamphlet[15] he has [here?] spleen of the coarsest and ribbald [sic] malignity have exhausted themselves in traducing the dead! -

From this pamphlet I extract the following letter[16] From[17] a pamphlet published by Mr H. - concerning another quarrel of his - I extract, showing as a precedent the opinion of the Lords of the Council ofon Education, of upon the impropriety of thrusting private quarrels grievances upon the official duties of Committees

[dotted line]

[p. 8] Upon This "rebuke" as Mr Haden justly calls it, the Committee of the Burlington Club might in turn well have framed their answer to him and thus have avoided entertaining thedisporting themselves as police magistrates and judges and extending consolation and revenge to heroes of questionable calibre -

the questionable satisfaction of having served to work out the vengeance of [Mr H?] of doubtf[ul] [...]

[p. 9] * in short I felt that if what were was my right to courtesy as a gentleman were ignored the mere I could not at the hands of the Com meet with the courtesy common among gentlemen the rest wa I had no reason chance of meeting them at all - I could have nothing further to say - it became impossible then for me to offer them any explanation[18] discuss with them any subject whatever

[p. 10] Another point not defined in the rules of the club is the particular majority required for carrying expulsion - So that to this day I may almost say that I have also served as the coup d'essaie[19] [sic]! -

Another point which I should hope is without precedent is this - From first to last I was not in any way furnished with even the list of charges to be preferred against me or the [in?] documentary details so industriously collected, the whole was reserved for my sudden anhialation [sic] when once before the audience! - This may be dramatic but is scarcely handsome! - And even to this [p. 11] moment I know noth of the details only what my memory happens to retain from the Secretary's single reading! -

However as the evening went on I felt more and more that it became me not at all to entertain the charges before that asembly [sic] -

The case should not stand upon its "police" merits, but before Gentlemen the unworthiness of the method in which the charges were raked up, should of itself have been their condemnation - This the Club in its anxieties to purify itself by my expulsion [p. 12] failed utterly to see - and while their high tone of honor while was so sensitive to my ebulitions [sic] of temper, was dull too, while their sensitiveness was unpained by their listening to & encouraging aspersions and information so collected -

Yet notwithstanding my strong feeling upon these points it will be in the recollection of members present that after a certain markedly courteous appeal had been made to me by one member (to me unknown) I most distinctly volunteered to waive my abstract objections and fully enter into the merits of the several cases, if only the [p. 13] Committee would have expressed the faintest regret at the course very peculiar the course[20] into which they had been betrayed in dealing with me - this offer elicited no response whatever!

Again at[21] a certain stage I wished to read Mr Rossetti's letter[22] addressed to Mr Wornum[23] thro' him to be conveyed to This was objected to on the plea that the letter was a private, altho' its contained an own expressed desire request to terms show that it was intended for the Com. and Mr Rossetti himself then present res repeatedsaid that as much - I read it but was [three illegible words] whereas such letters as that of Mr Hadens to Mr. L - and Mr L - This had been omitted and was objected to on the plea of its being a private note - whereas letters from Mr H to [p. 14] Mon cher Legros[24], and his reply to Mon cher Haden[25] met with no such opposition -

[line ruled line page]

It has intimated to me that Mr H. statement - to the Com.[26] produced an unfavorable impression not only as to my [genl?] conduct out of the club, but al[s]o as to probable future demeanor within it, towards the Com. or the members - in that I might be guilty of acts of violence towards some of these Gent. Now this was an outrageous but a possible supposition at the time that the mean insinuation was made, but at the time when the vote of the club was taken it had passed out of the region of contingencies into that of demonstrated untruths for under circumstances wh. might certainly have paliated [sic] some feeling of considerable exasperation on my part, I had conducted myself, I must take leave to say so [p. 15] with uniform propriety courtesy and good will towards all with whom I there came in contact - Mr H With Mr H. himself I have met several times in the club rooms and had made no hostile demonstration whatever I have always used the Club as neutral ground to which Gentleman brings his quarrels It is manifest therefore that the vote[27] passed by the club was professedly based upon any thing but my presentpast or prospective demeanor in it as one of the a member -

I conclude by saying that the charges preferred against me were frivolous vexatious irrelevant and in many cases willfully untrue - that I was wrongfully treated by the com. from the very beginning - that I owed no explanation to the Com of the [p. 16] Club - * and that finally when [they?] Burlington Club have thrust from them one who never disturbs them with his threats or his fears in order that they might take more closely to their concern may identify themselves with one whose practices of amateur detective[28] are by his own showing [an?] detestable in any society of gentlemen -

* That I still feel perfectly satisfied with the position I took up in meeting the accusation levelled at me, a feeling in wh. I am confirmed by valued friends in whose judgement I place great reliance - This as is and especially by the [p. 17] voluntary and immediate instant resignation of the two Messrs Rossetti[29] -

I have Sir
the honor to be
Your Excellency's
Most obt. servant


To his Excely the Marquis D'.

[p. 18][30] [...] which accompanied[31] it, having been laid before the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education, I am directed by their Lordships to refer you to their previous minute of the 11th ult. the purport of which was sent to you, and to inform you that they regret you should have seen fit to make any further communication to them on questions of a private and painful nature between yourself and your partner who is no longer alive. -

My Lords do not see that any public advantage can possibly arise from the consideration of such a subject and they have directed their officers not to continue any further communications [p. 19] with you in regard to it. -

I am Sir
Your obt. Servant

Norman Macleod

Assist. Secty.

F Seymour Haden Esqr.

Upon this "rebuke" as Mr Haden justly calls it, the Committee of the Burlington Club might well, in their turn, have framed their answer to him, and thus have avoided, the questionable satisfaction false position of having sub served to work out the vengeance of heroes private individuals of doubtful calibre. -

[p. 20] I have Sir,
the honor to be,
Your Excellency's
most obedient servant -

J. A. McNeill Whistler -

his Excellency
The Marquis d'Azeglio

[p. 21] Re: Seymour Haden.

[p. 22] I may say further that the Committee Room, Club having chosen to entertain themselves with what concern them not[32], would have unfortunately been unfortunate in their heroes - they have, first taking to themselves the charact tone of police court (and so becoming a marvel among Clubs,) they have attempted to avenge a few miserable cowards - and whining cowards, and secondly then constituting themselves a Court of Probate & Divorce listened with stern virtue indignation to les malheurs de la vertu[33] as related in the most by miserable the most miserable of poltroons[34] that ever crawled, who having, in a land where the code of honor is accepted, had full satisfaction within his power who brings to the Burlington Club for consolation

[p. 23] 2. Lindsey Row

Dear Madam[35] - I am very highly much gratified to find that I feel already grateful to the gentleman who s has so been the means of procuring for me the charming note you have written to me, and as a friend of yours shall be most charmed glad to receive him and show him any know him -

Believe me dear [illegible word]
Sin— Yrs

J M -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [5 January 1868]
Dated from JW to Marquis D'Azeglio, #00448.

2.  Marquis D'Azeglio
Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more].

3.  ALd
This is a draft of parts of JW's letter to the Marquis D'Azeglio, #00448, with omissions and repetitions. It also includes a draft of an apparently separate letter to an unidentified correspondent (see p. 23).

4.  late proceedings
A reference to JW's long-running dispute with F. S. Haden which erupted into a further dispute about his membership of the Burlington Fine Arts Club. In late April 1867, JW quarrelled with Haden, over his treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. Traer had died on a trip to Paris on 23 April of alcohol related causes. Haden arranged for Traer's burial with what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste. Haden later claimed that during a confrontation between the brothers-in-law in a Paris café, JW had pushed him through a plate glass window. Haden was on the Committee of the Burlington Club and in the aftermath of the Traer affair he campaigned for JW to be excluded from the club, having brought to its attention several alleged previous incidents of assault involving him (JW to L. Huth, #02240). The incidents included the row with Alphonse Legros (see note above).

5.  Mr. Boxall & Mr Huth
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], and Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more].

6.  this letter
See R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442, dated 11 June 1867.

7.  anything further
This may be a reference to Wornum's letter to JW dated 31 August (see #00448), when London society would have been out of town, even though though it was written less than two months after #10442.

8.  as
Re-instated by means of a dotted underline.

9.  circular
See circular, #00445.

10.  voted!
No reference is made to Haden having voted in the Minutes of the Club (see Minutes of the Burlington Fine Arts Club, p. 63, 13 December 1867).

11.  Mr W. Rossetti
That is, William Rossetti (see note below).

12.  friend
James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more].

13.  brother
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

14.  exhumed
Soon after their quarrel with F. S. Haden, JW and his brother William made arrangements to have Traer's body returned to Ellen Traer (b. ca 1837), J. R. Traer's sister [more], in England, assisted by George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), art dealer in Paris [more], and a list of subscribers.

15.  pamphlet
Haden, Sir Francis Seymour, Paris Jurors: a Letter to Henry Cole …, London, 1867.

16.  letter
See Norman Macleod, Science and Art Department to F. S. Haden, full text of letter reproduced in #00448. See also Haden, Sir Francis Seymour, Paris Jurors: a Letter to Henry Cole …, London, 1867, pp. 15-16.

17.  From ... I extract
This text is added by means of a line from the opposite page.

18.  any explanation
See JW to R. N. Wornum, #00436, #00439.

19.  coup d'essaie
Fr., test case, first shot.

20.  course
See for example, R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442, in which JW was asked to resign his membership of the Burlington Club on the threat of expulsion,

21.  Again at ... Mr L -
This section is crossed through by diagonal 'hatched' lines.

22.  Mr Rossetti's letter
See D. G. Rossetti to R. N. Wornum, #00438.

23.  Mr Wornum
Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877), history painter [more].

24.  Legros
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more]. JW first met Legros in Paris during the late 1850s and together with Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), artist [more], they formed the Societé des Trois. However by April 1867, their friendship was over after a row which came to blows. JW's friends tried to intervene (see JW to L. Ionides, #11312) but the two men were never reconciled. The reasons for their quarrel are unclear but they seem to have had a protracted dispute about money dating to 1864 (see Ionides, Memories, 1996 edtn., p. 74 and JW to A. Legros, #02505).

25.  Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

26.  Com.
A reference to the Committee of the Burlington Fine Arts Club a club for artists and connoisseurs, founded in c. June 1866. It was located at 177, Piccadilly. JW was elected a member on 12 March 1867.

27.  vote
JW was expelled at a general meeting of the Club on 13 December (see JW to W. Boxall, #00498).

28.  amateur detective
That is, Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. JW alleged that Haden had been gathering evidence about his previous misdemeanours: 'For some time back the members of the Committee have been accepting continual relays of information and collecting documents which as I now find involve even enclosures from utter strangers on my personal affairs!' (see JW to W. Boxall, #00401). JW also alleged that Haden had noted his private conversation at the Haden dinner table and used it in evidence before the Burlington Club Committee (see JW to F. S. Haden, #01939).

29.  Messrs Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more]; and William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more].

30.  [p. 18]
This page is labelled (at the top) '49.'; the following page is labelled '50.'.

31.  which accompanied ... Haden Esq
See Norman Macleod, Science and Art Department to F. S. Haden, full text of letter reproduced in #00448. See also Haden, Sir Francis Seymour, Paris Jurors: a Letter to Henry Cole …, London, 1867, pp. 15-16.

32.  not
This word is reinstated by means of a dotted underline.

33.  les malheurs de la vertu
Fr., the misfortunes of virtue.

34.  poltroons
An abject or contemptible coward.

35.  Madam