The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 01914
Date: [4/6 May 1867][1]
Author: Deborah Delano Haden[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: William McNeill Whistler[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H15
Document Type: ALS

My dear Willie

These letters[4] can only be painful to me & do no good. You & Jemmie[5] are so determined to see nothing but wrong in whatever Seymr[6] does that I do not know why I should take the trouble to make any explanation - But for my own satisfaction I tell you this much. That when he got to Paris he wrote to Mrs James Traer[7] - making out a statement of their different scales of interment & leaving her to decide the question. One was between 4 & 500 fr. (the one chosen.) & the other over a thousand. Both sums including the [triple?] coffin wh[ich] had been already [p. 2] ordered without her authority & wh[ich] was, of course an expense already incurred - Traer has left nothing but his insurance - unless it may be debts. Mrs Traer had no choice in her straitened circumstances than to accept the lesser sum & gave Seymr power to carry this out. He had not sufficient money with him to pay down even the smaller sum. His telegrams to Drummond[8] did not reach & at last he had to come away - leaving all en train for the burial - the people declining to give the burial without the money in hand. Upon assuring he sent the money to the agent[9] who had had his instructions -

[p. 3] You & Jemmie having neither care nor anxiety nor pecuniary trouble in the matter can of course be very magnaminious & say that Seymr has put Traer into the grave like a dog. It was his duty - or rather he made it his duty - To see that he had [a] decent burial & to waste no false sentiment over a man who was so untrue to him. If you[10] had not given the wrong impressions he Traer must have done so himself - However this may be I do not want any more letters upon the subject. You seem to have taken pleasure in running down[11] Seymr to every one & if it is a satisfaction to you to know that you have deeply wounded & troubled me by it - you certainly have it.

[p. 4] I suppose poor Mother[12] knows every thing but the cowardly attack[13] in the café wh[ich] you seem to have sanctioned and it will certainly not conduce to her happiness any more than to mine. One day you may think differently of all this. At present you seem to me to be too influenced by a spirit of cruel hatred to listen to truth & reason.

Affectly yours


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1.  [4/6 May 1867]
This letter dates from immediately after one from William Whistler to D. D. Haden dated 3 May 1867 (#06994).

2.  Deborah Delano Haden
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more]. Deborah wrote a letter in a similar tone to JW around this date (see D. D. Haden to JW, #01918).

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

4.  letters
Doubtless the letter from JW (#01917) and that from William Whistler referred to above. JW had recently quarrelled with F. S. Haden, over his treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. Traer died on a trip to Paris, allegedly in a brothel. Haden arranged for Traer's burial, with what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste. On 26 April, a violent row blew up between the brothers-in-law in a Paris café and Haden fell (or allegedly was pushed by JW) through a plate glass window. In addition, JW wrote to Anna Matilda Whistler around this time of how, in the wake of Traer's sudden death, 'at last Seymour Haden came, full of insolence and brutality and hatred - to take charge of the whole matter - how he insulted the absent Mother and sisters, and was grossly insulting to me - until no longer able to put up with the fellow I struck him' (see JW to A. M. Whistler, #06529). The affair caused a permanent family rift, despite the intervention of George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more] (see G. Wm. Whistler to F. S. Haden, #06681 and to JW, #00668).

5.  Jemmie

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

7.  Mrs James Traer
Louisa Jane Holloway Traer (b. ca 1839, m. 1856), née Savage, wife of James R. Traer [more].

8.  Drummond
Drummond's Bank, London.

9.  agent

10.  you
Double underlined.

11.  running down
See, for example, JW to A. M. Whistler, #06529.

12.  Mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

13.  attack
The altercation which took place in a Paris café between F. S. Haden, JW and W. M. Whistler over the way in which Haden handled the death of James Traer (see note above).