The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06684
Date: 25 August and 6 September 1868
Author: George William Whistler[1]
Place: St. Petersburg[2]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W678
Document Type: ALS

[embossed design]

St. Petersburg

Aug. 25
Sep. 6 1868.

J. A. Whistler

My dear Jim -

The Burlington Club[3] affair, as set forth in your communication to the Marquis d'Azeglio[4] I duly received by post, & have carefully read the same -

Without going into any details, it strikes me very forcibly that the decission[5] [sic] of the Club (final) was not upon the merits of the case as presented by Haden[6], but upon the propriety of retaining you as a member after the quarrelsome correspondence[7] you had had with (p. 2) the Club Comty [sic]: I think there never was so good a case thrown away as yours, by the course you took after the Comtys: first letter[8] - that letter was a great mistake on their part, & their after correspondence show[s] that they felt it to be such - but your manner of treating these gentlemen, & through them every member of the Club put you finally in the wrong - Nobody can indulge in the style of letter writing you permit yourself without coming to grief - It is a very serious thing my dear Jim that you are afflicted with this mania - you will have to correct it to succeed in life -

(p. 3) Julia[9] & self returned two weeks ago from abroad - I feel very much better for the change, a hope for something like permanent relief[10] from the [waters?] - As yet it is uncertain our stay here - in the course of a few months we shall know for certain I suppose - I hope you will find time before next Spring to finish my picture[11] - for if we remain I shall wish it here, & if not I shall want it in the States next year - Tell Willie[12] I have seen his friend Capt. Fuller[13], & done something to aid him in his trip to Novgod &c. I will write Mother[14] soon - We are all well & send much love,

from your affec. Br.

G. W. Whistler.

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1.  George William Whistler
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more].

2.  St. Petersburg
G. Wm. Whistler worked for the engineering firm of Harrison, Winans and Eastwick in St Petersburg from 1856 to 1869.

3.  Burlington Club
The Burlington Fine Arts Club, a club for artists and connoisseurs, 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.  Marquis d'Azeglio
Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more].

5.  decission
JW was expelled at a special general meeting of the Club on 13 December (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #00445). When the accusations had first surfaced in June 1867, G. Wm. Whistler had advised him not to resign, as to do so would be an admission of his guilt (see G. Wm. Whistler to JW, #06680).

6.  Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. In 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, allegedly in a brothel and Haden had 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 and to W. Boxall, #00498). Undeterred by his expulsion (see note above), JW appealed to the President of the Club, the Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more] (who had been absent from the meeting) in January 1868 (see JW to Marquis D'Azeglio, #00448). He also attempted to discredit Haden's allegations, much to Haden's anger. In #01939, JW threatened to 'make known every where' the 'facts' of the case. Around the same time, George Whistler attempted to defuse family tensions by writing to F. S. Haden, seemingly to no avail (see G. Wm. Whistler to F. S. Haden, #06681).

7.  correspondence
See, for example JW to L. Huth, #02240, to W. Boxall, #00498, to Marquis D'Azeglio, #00448.

8.  letter
Probably R. N Wornum to JW, #10442.

9.  Julia
Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875), née Winans, JW's sister-in-law [more].

10.  relief
George Whistler spent increasing amounts of time in Germany during the 1860s, due to ill-health. He died in Brighton, England on 24 December 1869.

11.  picture

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

13.  Capt. Fuller
Captain Thomas Homer Fuller (1846-1934), Confederate army officer.

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