The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 01939
Date: 14 July 1868
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Francis Seymour Haden[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H40
Document Type: ALcS


2 Lindsey Row -
Chelsea -

I think it right that you should know that I have forwarded to the Committee of the Burlington[3] Club, a copy of [the] letter[4] written long ago to the Marquis d'Azeglio; in which the proceedings of the committee on your behalf are detailed, and the fact of your reporting conversations at your own table plainly stated - You may do about the matter as you best please -

The lie your cowardice has found necessary to perpetrate as to thea combined attack[5] upon you by my brother[6] and myself is also freely exposed - And I now write to warn you that [p. 2] I know of your[7] having written, for Legros[8] to copy, the letter[9] which was read at the meeting of the Club purporting to come from Legros to yourself! -

This together with the other facts I shall make known[10] every where - not only in London but in Paris -

Abject poltroonery[11] may be protected in your club, but out of it, it is still desplicable [sic], while in Paris ridicule awaits it -


F Seymour Haden -

July 14. 1868 -

This document is protected by copyright.


J. A. Whistler Esq.[12]
2 Lindsey Row

[embossed floral design on envelope flap]

'No. 3[13]
No. 5 - (letter S. H.)'


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

2.  Copy
Double underlined.

3.  Burlington Club
A reference to the Burlington Fine Arts Club, founded early in 1866. It 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).

4.  letter
See JW to Marquis D'Azeglio, #00448, #00449. Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more], was President of the Club. The letter concerned JW's long-running dispute with Haden and the Burlington Club. In April 1867, JW quarrelled with F. S. Haden, over Haden's 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. 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 Club and in the aftermath of the Traer affair, Haden campaigned for JW to be excluded from the club, having brought to its attention several alleged previous incidents of assault involving JW (JW to L. Huth, #02240). JW was expelled at a general meeting of the Club on 13 December (see JW to W. Boxall, #00498). Undeterred, JW wrote to William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more], of his intention to draw up 'an explanation and refutation of the charges brought against me ... which I shall give to Boxall and Huth - that they may hand it in to the Committee' (JW to W. M. Rossetti, #09390). JW's letter to D'Azeglio comprised a similar refutation. At the centre of JW's attitude towards F. S. Haden throughout the Burlington Club affair was his belief that Haden had betrayed him by using private opinions expressed by JW at the Haden dining table as evidence in the proceedings to expel JW from the Club.

5.  attack
The alleged altercation between Haden and the two Whistler brothers in a Paris café in April 1867 which caused a permanent rift between them.

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

7.  your
'your' is double underlined.

8.  Legros
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more].

9.  letter
Perhaps A. Legros to F. S. Haden, #12943. The letter outlined an alleged assault by JW on Legros (see JW's version in JW to L. Huth, #02240). JW first met Alphonse 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 quarrel about money dating to 1864 (see Ionides, Luke Memories, Paris, 1925, reprinted with an afterword by Julia Ionides, Ludlow, 1996, p. 74 and JW to A. Legros, #02505) and about Legros' marriage during the same period. See also JW to D. G. Rossetti, #05242.

10.  make known
Haden's solicitors, Wrentmore & Son, responded to this statement and the general tone of this letter with a claim that it threatened 'the publication of a Libel,' that is, a slur on Haden's reputation (see #07137).

11.  poltroonery
A now rarely used word for a contemptible coward from Old Italian poltrone, a lazy good-for-nothing or Old French poultron.

12.  J. A. Whistler Esq.
The address is written in an unknown hand.

13.  No. 3 ... S. H.)
Written in pencil on reverse of envelope by JW.