The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 00802
Date: 19 January [1868][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Captain Hunter Davidson[2]
Place: Annapolis
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler D8
Document Type: ALdS

2 Lindsey Row - -
Old Chelsea -

Jan. 19. -

My dear Capt Davidson -

I write to you Since my return to London the Mr Doty[3] well known to you, has attempted much mischief here - and has had a hearing

I am sure you will excuse my appealing to you in a matter[4] which ha in which a person, of whom you doubtless care never to be annoyed withto hear again, has attempted to do me much injury[.] The man Doty since my arrival in London has put set after much machination brought before a club[5] [to?] a series of absurd and irrelevant charges[6] against me [p. 2] as one of it's members - And the hearing granted to him restinged upon the position he pretends to hold in society as formally a Capt. with Frigate & Confederate Officer States Army and more lately a Post Capt of Frigate in the Chillian [sic] Navy and commanding the important expedition, in wh. you are supposed to have taken a subordinate part. - It is intended to do me damage by means of strange assertions with reference to the Mrs. Doty[7] who's with whom he left Valparaiso and has since lived with -

[in?] Regarding Mr Doty's standing Knowing that you yourself have been annoyed by presumption on the part of this man, and [p. 3] that in common with Mr McEvoy[8] he has attempted to do you have suffered from attempted fraud; and while you have had means of knowing thoroughly the falsity of th Mr Doty's assumed position, I think that you will willingly write your assist me with such knowledge in refuting the calumnies against me he has brought perpetrated circulated - all of which would of necessity fall to the ground were the calibre of the person better known - The

The affair in question is simply a rechaufé of the old story[9] he hawked about the streets and in the Cafés in Valparaiso - and is now offered in revenge by Doty because of my having struck him for his insolence in speaking to me on my arrival in London

I was greatly grieved to hear of [p. 4] the sudden death of your Cousin poor Tom Hunter[10] - which was told to me by Edenborough[11] on his arrival in England -

I don't know whether you still look forward to coming to England, but if so, hope that you will find me out and come and see me in my studio -

Believe me, dear Capt Davidson with many kind remembrances
Sincerely Yours


Capt. Hunter Davidson
care of Mrs Ray[12] -
Annapolis Maryland
U. S.

2 Lindsey[13] Row -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  19 January [1868]
This is one of two drafts (#00802, #00803) and two copies (#00805, #13271) of a letter to Davidson, whose reply is dated 7 February 1868 (#00804).

2.  Captain Hunter Davidson
Captain Hunter Davidson (1827-1913), Senate of the General Assembly of Maryland [more].

3.  return
JW had been in Chile nearly two years previously. On 1 February 1866, JW sailed for the coastal port of Valparaiso, where he spent the next six months or so as a bystander to the Chilean-Peruvian conflict with the Spanish government. See JW's Valparaiso Journal, #04335).

4.  Mr Doty
Captain Horace H. Doty (b. 1824 or 1825), officer of marines, specialist in signal lights and lighthouse illumination [more].

5.  in a matter
These words have been re-instated by means of a dotted underline.

6.  club
The Burlington Fine Arts Club, founded early in 1866, a club for artists and connoisseurs, was located at 177, Piccadilly. JW was proposed as a member on 22 February 1867 (see William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more] and the Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more], proposers, #11957).

7.  charges
The charges related to an incident involving JW and Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. In April 1867, JW quarrelled with Haden, over Haden's 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, allegedly in a brothel. Haden arranged for his burial with what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste. Haden later claimed that in the resulting confrontation JW had pushed him through a plate glass window. Both JW and Haden were members of the Burlington Fine Arts Club and in the aftermath of the Traer affair Haden campaigned for JW to be excluded, having brought to the Club's attention several alleged previous incidents of assault involving JW (JW to L. Huth, #02240, JW to W. Boxall, #00498). JW was asked to resign on the threat of expulsion in June 1867 (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442). Aggrieved with the summary way in which he felt the Club had treated him, JW refused to entertain the charges against him, claiming that the Club had no right to interfere in a private matter (see JW to L. Huth, #02240). Despite his protests, he was expelled on 13 December. On 16 December, determined to maintain his defence, he declared his intention to draw up 'an explanation and refutation of the charges brought against me' (JW to W. M. Rossetti, #09390). On 6 January 1868, he appealed to Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more], President of the Club (#00448), apparently without success (the Marquis had been absent from the Club meeting on 13 December).

8.  Mrs Doty
Astive Doty (b. 1840 or 1841), née Froidure, wife of H. H. Doty [more]. One of the charges brought before the Burlington Fine Arts Club Committee was that JW had seduced Astive Doty (see charge number four, JW to W. Boxall, #00498).

9.  Mr McEvoy
McEvoy (defrauder of Captain Hunter Davidson), unidentified.

10.  story
A story that JW had been ejected from a club in Valparaiso was allegedly spread by Doty amongst 'various persons, English, American and Chilean with whom he had no acquaintance save as drinkers casually at the same Bar' (H. Edenborough to JW, #01040). See also JW to L. Huth, #02240.

11.  Tom Hunter
Thomas ('Tom') Hunter (d. 1868), cousin of Captain Hunter Davidson [more].

12.  Edenborough
Henry B. Edenborough (b. 1840?), Captain of Corvette, Peruvian Navy [more].

13.  Mrs Ray

14.  2 Lindsey ... Old
Written upside-down at the foot of the page.