The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 4 of 280

System Number: 11840
Date: 5 February [1868][1]
Author: JW/William Michael Rossetti[2]
Place: London
Recipient: Wrentmore and Sons[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/46/8
Document Type: ALd

'8' '2 pieces'[4]

2 Lindsey Row.
Old Chelsea -

Feb. 5 -[5]

Sir -

I reply I beg leave to reply that Your letter[6] is the first attempt I ever heard of of the kind I know where an attorney[7] having no case at all to go to law upon [approximately nine deleted words, illegible] writes writes [sic] to his proposed oponent [sic] victim calmly coolly requesting that he him to furnish with details sufficient the evidence upon which to found a lawsuit. to work up go into Court with! The device is more novel than wise -

Your obt Servt -

[p. 2] [Begin][8]
I am in receipt of your letter requesting me to inform you (I quote the terms of your letter) of the special nature of misconduct of your client & from whom I derived knowledge of it and in what precise terms that knowledge was conveyed to me and when & where &c

[p. 3] 'Whistler Feb[9] 8 - 1868'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  5 February [1868]
Year date from address, date inserted at end of letter, and other related letters, Wrentmore & Sons to JW, #11981, #11853.

2.  JW/William Michael Rossetti
The first part of this letter appears to be a draft letter by JW. The second part (the 'Reply') was possibly drafted by William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more]. The two parts may have been a draft letter of JW to Wrentmore & Sons, #10762, as the texts are similar.

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

4.  '8' '2 pieces'
Written in another hand.

5.  Feb. 5 -
Date inserted in pencil.

6.  letter
Probably a reference to Wrentmore & Sons to JW, #11981. The content of the letter (and JW's response to it here) related to his long-running 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.' JW wrote a sharply worded reply (see draft or copy of letter, JW to Wrentmore & Sons, #10762) for which this letter appears to be an early draft (see note above). 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.

7.  attorney
That is, Wrentmore & Sons, solicitors for F. S. Haden.

8.  [Begin]
The square brackets are Whistler's.

9.  'Whistler Feb ... 1868
Written in another hand in top left-hand margin of sheet. The date looks like 'Feb 8' but a reference in Wrentmore & Sons to JW, #11853, indicates that JW dated the letter 5 February.