The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 10762
Date: [5 February 1868][1]
Author: JW[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: Wrentmore & Son[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 3/32/1
Document Type: MsLc

I am in receipt of your letter[4] requesting me to inform you (to quote the terms of your letter) of the special nature of misconduct of your client[5] & from whom I derived knowledge of it and in what precise terms that knowledge was conveyed to me and when and where. I beg leave to reply that your letter is the first attempt I ever heard of where an attorney having no case writes to his proposed victim coolly requesting him to furnish the evidence upon which to form a lawsuit[6].

Your obedt Serv:


To Wrentmore[7] & Son

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [5 February 1868]
This is in reply to the letter of 4 February from Wrentmore & Son to JW, #11981. A draft of the letter is dated 5 February: see JW/W. M. Rossetti to Wrentmore & Son, #11840.

2.  JW
Written in another hand. Signed by JW.

3.  Wrentmore & Son
Solicitors for Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

4.  letter
This probably refers to the letter Wrentmore & Sons to JW, #11981. The content of the letter (and JW's response to it here) related to his lengthy dispute with F. S. Haden, and the Burlington Fine Arts Club. 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 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 (see JW to L. Huth, #02240). JW was expelled at a general meeting of the Club on 13 December (see JW to W. Boxall, #00498). JW vowed to continue his defence and on 16 December, he declared his intention to draw up 'an explanation and refutation of the charges brought against me' (JW to W. M. Rossetti, #09390). However there was a new development in February 1868 when JW received a letter (#11981) from Wrentmore & Sons. It requested that he state the full details and context regarding 'certain reflections which you are reported to have made on the character and conduct of our Client Mr Francis Seymour Haden.' This letter was a draft or copy of JW's reply. See also JW/W. M. Rossetti to Wrentmore & Sons, #11840, probably an earlier draft of this letter. Later it emerged that Haden was writing a pamphlet on J. R. Traer (#11839). JW guessed that Haden hoped that he would 'produce some letter which he may print and contradict in his book' (op. cit.) in response.

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

6.  lawsuit
The threatened lawsuit was for defamation of character. See Wrentmore & Sons to JW, #11981, #11853.

7.  To Wrentmore ... Son
Written in another unknown hand.