The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02173
Date: 24 July [1868][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Charles Augustus Howell[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H270
Document Type: ALdS

[small embossed ellipse:] 'IVORY'

2 Lindsey Row -
Old Battersea bridge
Chelsea -

July 24.

Dear Howell -

Forgive my not having written to you long before now, to relieve you from the engagement by which you might feel yourself bound to effect a settlement of Legros debts[3] to me. - You will remember that the offer proposal emmanated [sic] entirely from yourself; and was only acceeded [sic] to by me through respect for your kind inclination which had led your to receive from Legros money to be appropriated to payment of his debts to me - Moreover my [p. 2] friend Colonel Latrobe[4] upon being consulted, thought that I ought to give Mr Legros this last chance of releasing himself from pecuniary obligation, and consequently place him at liberty to act towards me as he might feel disposed. - Nothing has come of it however in any way!. Mr Legros doubtless having other demands more pressing than mere honor. -

And now while it is useless to entertain this question any further as far as Legros is involved[5], I earnestly desire to express my sense of your kindness friendship and to relieve you from any feeling [p. 3] of having made yourself in the slightest degree responsible for the actions of a man so totally dead to all honor -

I shall, my dear Howell, send for the Book and papers[6], to put them again on my shelf where they had lain all these years! and thus rid you of them -

I hope you do not feel a shadow of disappointment - To me it would have been a surprise had Mr Legros fulfilled your expectations! I never expect any thing truthful or honest from a Coward -

It has recently come to my knowledge, that Legros' letter[7] to [p. 4] Mr Haden[8] which was read at the Burlington Club[9], was worked up for him to copy by Mr Haden! -

My Mother[10] and I should have called to see Mrs Howell[11] and yourself as we have wished to do, but have waited to hear from you when settled in your home as you promised to let me know when you could receive your friends -

Believe me dear Howell
Yours Sincerely

J. A. McN Whistler -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  24 July [1868]
JW's letter to Howell is dated '24 July' but appears to be a draft of #02827, which was dated by JW '14 July' (and with the day given incorrectly as 'Thursday'). The year is deduced from a reference to Legros in a letter from JW to F. S. Haden dated 14 July 1868 (#01939). It is quite possible that the date was added later on both #02173 and 02827, to give some sort of credence to JW's responses to Haden's attacks (see below).

2.  Charles Augustus Howell
Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more].

3.  Legros debts
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more]. 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. Unfortunately by April 1867, their friendship was over after a row which came to blows. JW's friends tried to intervene (#11312) but the two men were never reconciled. The precise reasons for their quarrel are unclear but they seem to have had a protracted quarrel about money dating to 1864 (see #02505, and Ionides, Luke Memories, Paris, 1925, reprinted with an afterword by Julia Ionides, Ludlow, 1996, p. 74). It relates to Legros's early days in London when he lived at Lindsey Row and shared household expenses with JW. However, he had little money and was dependent upon JW for artistic contacts. As a result, the arrangement rapidly grew strained. See also JW's letter to Rossetti, #05242.

4.  Colonel Latrobe
John Hazlehurst Boneval Latrobe (1803-1891), lawyer, counsel for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad [more] or John Hazlehurst Boneval Latrobe (1803-1891), lawyer, counsel for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad [more].

5.  involved
This word has been heavily written over another word, obscuring the one beneath.

6.  Book and papers
Possibly the list of Legros's debts to JW, dating from 23 September 1863 to 13 August 1864 (#02505).

7.  letter
The letter (untraced) concerned JW's row with Legros (see above).

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

9.  Burlington Club
The Burlington Fine Arts Club, a club for artists and connoiseurs. In April 1867, JW quarrelled with Haden, over Haden's treatment of his late junior medical partner 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 Traer's burial, with what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste. Haden later alleged 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's expulsion from the club having brought to the attention of the Club alleged previous incidents of assault involving JW (see #02240). JW was expelled on 18 December. This is probably a reference to Haden's campaign to discredit JW.

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

11.  Mrs Howell
Frances Kate ('Kitty') Howell (1842 or 1843-1888), née Howell, cousin and wife of C. A. Howell [more].