The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 00448
Date: 6 January 1868
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Marquis D'Azeglio[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler B228
Document Type: MsLc[2]

(p. 1)

January 6th 1868

2 Lindsey Row
Old Chelsea

To his Excellency
The Marquis D'Azeglio


May I do myself the honor of addressing you as President of the Committee of the Burlington Club[3] - with reference to their late proceedings, which resulted in a vote of expulsion against me, I am induced to do so in consideration of the fact that you were unavoidably absent from the meeting[4] - and with a view to bringing immediately before you the same facts I have already submitted to my proposer & seconder Mr Boxall[5], and to Mr. Huth[6], To them I wrote as follows

Decr 19th[7]

The Burlington Club called a General Meeting on friday Decr 13th for the purpose of considering the inexpediency of my remaining a Member, because of certain charges brought to their notice by Mr Haden, commencing with one, in [p. 2] which he himself was the aggrieved party, and fortified by several others, which he had collected from several sources! - I resisted various appeals made to me to justify myself I felt so strongly, as in common with several friends - I had done so from the first - that the matter was one in which the Club was in no wise authorized to meddle (in this we were perhaps mistaken) [(]but we cannot even now think we were) that I declined point-blank to entertain the charges at all unless some expression of regret was first offered by the Committee for the affront of such informal and summary proceedings. In short I felt that if I could not at the hands of the Committee meet with the courtesy common among Gentlemen, it became impossible for me to discuss with them any subject whatsoever! - The result as you know was my expulsion, this has not altered the good opinion of my friends, but has on the contrary, brought me proofs of confidence & esteem from those whose regard I seek, and has led two gentlemen, like Mr Gabriel Rosetti[8] & Mr William Rossetti[9] openly to leave the Club with me, as a proof of their disapproval of the verdict. -

Now what I refused to the Club on principle, I am most pleased to offer to you (as at his request) [p. 3] [as] I have done to Mr Huth, namely a full explanation of my conduct[10]. This I do in as few words as possible, and could only wish that I had before me the Committee's collected table of charges, in order that I might answer each particular, this however I believe I shall do in the main. -

No. 1 Assault upon a person "in charge of a building in Paris with summary fine or punishment." This which occurred about three years ago, was a case in which I was roughly pushed from the pavement by a Mason - for such was "the person" in charge of repairs, & with the insolence familliar [sic] to every one - in the smallest Parisian Official. - In the heat of the moment, I punished him, and afterwards the Magistrate, on the voluntary evidence of respectable shopkeepers in the street of passers by & even of a fellow workman - practically expressed his sympathy on my side, by saying that as the masons cap had been lost, I might if I pleased give a few francs in consideration of that fact - which he handed from me to the mason, accompanied with his own severe reprimand for brutal rudeness - [p. 4] using the words "Il faut[11] être poli, et vous ne sauvez saurez jamais trop l'être!!'

The absurd misrepresentation here will be obvious, and is wilful on the part of the accuser, inasmuch as the source from which he had the story was myself! in an unguarded moment at his own table! - little dreaming that my brother-in-law was making notes on this & the other matters which follow, for future occasion of private revenge. He will remember the lightness with which it was told, and the anecdotes it elicited from him of former prowess on his part.

No. 2 Assault on a passenger on the Steamer Shannon (1866)[.] This passenger was simply a Negro among several forced upon our company on the voyage. The degree to which he offended my prejudices (as a Southerner) who for the first time found negroes at the same table, led finally to our coming into collision. His afterwards rushing out with a drawn sword led to the Captain courteously for safety-sake requesting me to remain in my Cabin, which I at once acceeded [sic] to. (p. 5) In this affair the good opinion of the military and navel officers and gentlemen on board was heartily with me, and my Cabin was filled with them, expressing openly their feeling that the black scoundrel deserved his kicking - the Captain himself calling, and smoothing pleasantly all matters, and with a view to my comfort sending me full permission to smoke in my Cabin, an unusual courtesy on ship board.

This story also was the bitter fruit of pleasant but imprudent after-dinner talk at my brother in laws fatal table! thus he was enabled to open a correspondence with Capt Wake[12] whose case follows.

No. 3. Assault on Captain Wake[.] This is in nowise "the plucky Wake" of the famous ["]Bulldog" nor was he as appeared to be the impression on friday night the 13th the Capt of the Steamer. he was the Mail Agent only, and had no right whatever of interference on board, his sole powers were confined to the demanding a boat in which to carry back & forth bags supposed to contain letters, when stopping at any port. The morning after [p. 6] the negro affair was Sunday, and we were to reach Southampton that afternoon. Capt Wake in full uniform came to my Cabin. I received him with cold politeness, imagining that he came to apologise for insulting language he had used towards me, on the previous day, - by him alone among all on board - he being a strong Abolitionist - I had refused to notice his insults as I told him at the time, because of the difference in our ages. Judge then of his conduct, he served me with a long and impertinent sermon, in which providence & the Negro race played equal parts, the whole thing being of a Sabbath Baptist meeting tone.

After listening patiently at his request to it all I said "this is all very well, but not to the purpose, I supposed you came to apologise for your ungentlemanly language to me yesterday." Hereupon my preacher, changed his style & forgetful of peaceful mission, loudly proclaimed that it was perfectly true he had intended to insult to me, that he had done so deliberately, and wished it to be understood that he then did so again! moreover that nothing but cowardice on my part, could have prevented me before - or could now prevent me from resenting it! and upon my again even [p. 7] then asserting that I must not not [sic] strike an old man, he called out "that is nonsense and if you were not a coward, you would strike me now!" Whereupon unable to bear these repeated outrages, I slapped his face with my left hand, my right hand being utterly maimed & disabled since the day before, I being forced to wear it in a sling, a fact patent throughout the whole Saloon, and which probably brought the valiant Captain to the charge! He instantly rushed upon me, and beating down easily my disabled arm, struck me a violent blow in the eye, with what must have been a ring on his finger. The Marine on guard The Sailor outside to carry messages immediately sprang in & hauled him off, whe & two gentlemen who were present at the whole affair, came up to express their loud indignation, at his foolish & outrageous conduct. This indignation & disgust was so thoroughly participated in by the officers & gentlemen on board, that they showed it openly at the dinner table, and Doctor Crosbie[13] a naval officer returning from Jamaica, went to the Captain of the ship & stated distinctly that Capt Wake had by his proceedings disgraced the cloth he wore! I was by them all strongly begged to carry the matter before the [p. 8] authorities thro the American Consul, that Capt Wake might be punished and removed[.] For this purpose Major Smith[14] of the Peruvian Artillery one of the gentlemen who were eye-witnesses, accompanied me to the Consulate at Southampton, and the other, Mr Shepheard[15] gave me a written statement which I yet possess -

Again this story was one of the passing solaces of our joint leisure over my Brother-in laws dangerous wine & walnuts!

No. 4 Assault upon Capt Doty[16], together with seduction, betrayal etc etc, also ejection from a club in Valparaiso"

This affair is beneath all contempt, and it will be recollected, that a comment of the kind was immediately made by members new to the question, who were present at the meeting on friday night 13th inst, as they immediately where it was openly stated with sudden indignation, that "any one could see, that that letter (of Mr Dotys) was not written by a Gentleman!"

To the gentlemen in Valparaiso such as Admiral Tucker and his staff[17], Capt McCorkle, Capt Butt, Capt Hunter Davidson (p. 9) and Edinborough [sic], Mr Doty became by his conduct and his charges against me an object of jest & scorn! and they one & all withdrew their intercourse from him - Moreover his charge "of seduction" I was at first disposed to meet seriously with full satisfaction such as is usual among a society of officers, from this position however he hurriedly retreated, and the whole thing became too ludicrous for any treatment but after dinner banter! -

First however Mr Doty publickly publicly begged to withdraw all his allegations against me which were as numerous and heterogenous as the many people among whom he has gabbled! They had been heard equally in Valparaiso in the privacy of a solicited interview with an officer in high position - for the alleged purpose of seeking his aid as his Second, and again much more recently by perfect strangers in maudlin outpourings at the casual table of a London music Hall! In short Mr Doty is known to every one, only as a liar and a humbug - and as such need not be discussed[.] I leave him to Mr Haden! I cannot but ask in conclusion [p. 10] whether any one can wonder, after the proofs I bring of his worth that the astounding impudence he displayed in speaking to me on my arrival in London, should have been met by a sudden outburst of passion, I struck him then & there! so far his statement is correct, the other details are culled from his ordinary conversations over the bottle.

In dismissing the matter, I may say that the ejection from a Club in Valparaiso is a lie, only differing from the other, and that I believe it is a new one

* (Herewith I send enclosed a letter from Capt Edinborough, a copy of which I add at the end of this statement)

No. 5 "Assault on Mr Legros[18]"

This [is] a simple matter of provocation, and I can only trust to the probability of your own sense in such a matter coinciding with mine, when I add that what I did followed immediately on the words "Ce n'est pas vrai[19]" insultingly addressed to me regarding a statement I had just made. Mr Legros seems to forget in his further details, when he says that he was kept in his room for four or five days, that he appeared the same evening at the [p. 11] house of some friends, when he even thought himself proper to be seen by the ladies of the family. I shall leave you to judge whether it be the right thing for him to offer his griefs, together with his doctors diagnosis[,] to a Club months afterwards as a means of satisfaction

No. 6. "Assault upon Mr Haden" with summary punishment" in a Café in Paris -

I must here remind you again to my humiliation that Mr Haden is my Brother in law and the final quarrel between us in Paris brought to a conclusion years of insufferable insolence & insult endured at his hands as he knows full well, for family peace & through family intercession. Having said this, the Club must at last perceive, how utterly out of their province is Mr Hadens vengeance!

On the occasion in Paris, already deeply grieved by the coarse & brutal way he spoke of a dear friend just dead, I was at last roused beyond endurance by the insults he chose to address to myself, I struck him, and he knows well that the cause result of the conflict was quite different from what he represents, but into this I care not to enter, as it [p. 12] is no part of any present undertaking, stopping only to denounce as utterly false what it appears he has said, but he did not venture to bring forward at the meeting, namely the calumny that my brother[20] who was present & tried to separate us, had lent his aid to me - This was confuted on the spot and afterwards when before the Magistrate Mr Haden after making a half attempt at asserting it, was compelled to say finally "Je n'oserais pas dire celà[21]"[.] My brothers conduct in Genl Lee's[22] army is a sufficient answer to any slander of this order if indeed they needed any refutation -

I may add in concluding, that my brother & I were simply discharged when the case came before the authorities, and that finally when the Magistrate said as we were leaving the Office ["]Seulement messieurs[23] je vous previens ceci est une mauvaise note contre vous" and I objected to this as at variance with his having himself dismissed the charge he added with a bow "Ah! c'est[24] à dire une mauvaise note pour tous les trois"

This then is the real sum total of the mass of offence which Mr Haden would have (p. 13) brought to bear dishonourably upon me - Gathered as I have shewn from careless conversations at his own table - and through subsequent means, praise worthy perhaps in Bow Street, I leave it to you, whether upon such grounds as these, the Club should have put its aid to my Brother in law's vengeance, even if in an official sense it could properly have been made the channel for such a purpose.

And now with thanks beforehand for the friendly patience it must have needed to reach this point in my letter

I am my dear Mr Boxall
Sincerely Yours

J. A McN Whistler.

[p. 14] Copy of the letter[25] from Capt Edinborough.

6 Sheffield Garden
Kensington W

December 20th 1867

My dear Whistler

I am surprised to learn the verdict of the Burlington Club in your case. As it is possible that the other charges may be of as frivolous a nature as that professed by Mr Doty, I as your friend, am anxious to express my indignation & surprise that a charge treated with derision by all your friends & acquaintances in Valparaiso where the allegations were first brought forward, should here in London be accepted as discreditable to you by a body of Gentlemen without any enquiry whatever as to the calibre of the person making them -

As it may be useful to remind you of the circumstances of the case, as far as I was concerned I may say, that Mr Doty called upon me shortly after our arrival in Valparaiso to request my services, as his [p. 15] "friend" in the affair which position I accepted on the faith of the his first representations, and afterwards learned to my disgust that he had circulated his story in the Cafés of the town and to various persons - English, American & Chilian with whom he had no acquaintance, save as drinkers casually at the same Bar - Within a day or two afterwards in the Café "de la Bolsa["] he publicly withdrew all charges against you in every particular & also exhibited to me and others a written statement to that effect - And I may conclude by stating that his conduct throughout the affair was so absurd & ludicrous, as to become a standing joke among the whole fraternity speaking the English language in Valparaiso.

Admiral Tucker and his staff expressed openly their indignation that you should have been subjected for a moment to any annoyance arising from such an unworthy source & never abated their friendship & confidence, while the Officers of the various national squadrons laying at [p. 16] Valparaiso treated the affair with the same contempt.

Mr Doty in relating to me his version of the meeting with you at the railway station in London made himself if possible more contemptible than ever.

Hoping that this may be of some use to you

I am dear Whistler
Sincerely your friend

Henry B Edinborough

Captain of Corvette
Peruvian Navy.

J M N Whistler Esq.

(p. 17) Having thus placed before you the facts, which I felt in justice to myself, the Club had not put themselves in a proper position to receive - I am induced to hope that you may find leisure to peruse a few further details as to the exact course of action officially adopted in my case.

I think it is such, that a Gentleman of your Character and position would be very reluctant to invest with his sanction.

On the 11th of June I received this letter[26].

The Burlington Fine Arts Club

June 11th 1867.

"Sir -

I am desired by the Committee to write to you on a subject which they very much regret they cannot leave unnoticed - It has been formally brought before them that on the 26th of April last, in a Café at Paris, you assaulted Mr F Seymour Haden another member of this Club - Under the circumstances, the Committee are unanimously of opinion that it is inexpedient [p. 18] that you should remain a member of this Club. But on the other hand the Committee to save you unnecessary annoyance, and they hope that instead of obliging them to bring the whole matter before a general meeting (according to the rule 27 pp. 10, 11 of the rules and Regulations*) you will see the fitness of withdrawing your name from the List of Members, in which case - as the money has been so lately paid - the Committee will not object to return your entrance fee, and years subscription.

I am Sir
Your obedient Servant

R. N W[27]

Honorary Secretary.

J A Whistler Esq.

"* A special General Meeting may be called to consider the expediency of expelling any member from the Club. -

"Any one who may be expelled forfeits all claim to the property of the Club -

"These general meetings to consist of not less than fifteen members.["]

With this letter came also the printed [p. 19] book of rules, marked rudely, at the one above quoted! -

To this I answered[28]

"2 Lindsey Row. Old Chelsea

June 11th 1867.


I have received the Communication you have addressed to me, in behalf of the Committee of the Burlington Club - and write at once what seems necessary to be said at the moment. My greatest surprise is to find that the matter - a privately purely personal affair - utterly unconnected with the Club - being taken in hand at all - should have gone so far, without my being consulted in any way! -

That the Gentlemen of the Committee should unanimously receive the exparte statement from one of their own body, and instead of instantly writing to the accused member, condemn him unheard, is only surpassed perhaps by the astounding suggestion that he should quietly withdraw, and so confirm any aspersions cast upon him - [p. 20] Upon the slightest reflection it will doubtless be clear to the Gentlemen of the Committee, that the very fact of the detailed complaints laid before them by Mr Seymour Haden without previously warning me of his intention, is in itself an act unbecoming a Gentleman & speaks strangely for his good faith -

I have therefore to say, that instead of resigning from the Club at Mr Hadens instigation, I have to request, that a Court of enquiry be held, and if it be judged that in this matter Mr Hadens conduct is that becoming a Gentleman, I shall gladly cease to be a member of the Burlington Club.

I have the honor to be
Your obedient Servt

J. A. McN Whistler.

R N Wornum Esq
Hon Secretary
Burlington Club"

(p. 21) The correspondence[29] continued as follows.

"Burlington Fine Arts Club
177 Piccadilly

June 13th 1867.


The Committee have lost no time before holding a special meeting for the purpose of considering your letter of the 11th inst, received yesterday. The Committee desire me to say that they are quite ready to give full consideration, if you desire it - to any explanation which you may wish to offer, and to investigate, so far as they can, the circumstances of the cases of Assault which have been brought before them, For I am directed to say that the assault upon Mr Haden at Paris, is not the only one which it is alledged you have committed and owing as a Committee an important duty to the Club, they felt it to be imperative upon them to communicate with you on the subject - I am accordingly desired to say, that they repeat for you the expression of their opinion as contained in my letter of the 11th inst.

[p. 22] I am Sir
Your obedient Servant

R N Wornum

J A Whistler Esq."

2 Lindsey Row [30]
Old Battersea Bridge

June 14th. 1867.


I am more and more surprised by the communications I continue to receive from you, and more & more have a difficulty in answering them. I was prepared in courtesy to listen to any complaint that might be put before a General Meeting of the Club, according to the rule to which my notice was directed, but meanwhile can have nothing to say to further bulletins on my personal affairs! I cannot but feel that were I to speak with more irritation at such a moment, there are many who would think me justified, for certainly a body of Gentlemen kept constantly informed on the details of my private life is a phenomanon [sic] in the circles of open [p. 23] intercourse to which I have been used! Some errors in the course pursued by the Gentlemen of the Committee towards me will I must believe be eventually much regretted by them - since by surely the mention of money[31] in their first communication must be classed, - for their sakes, purely as an error

I have Sir, the honor to be
Your Obt Servant
J A. McN Whistler.

R N Wornum Esq.
Hon Secretary of the Burlington Club."

"Burlington Fine Arts Club[32]
177 Piccadilly

June 14th 1867


Your note of this date will be submitted to the Committee at the next meeting

Your obedient Servant

R N Wornum -

J. A Whistler Esq."

[p. 24] I received however no answer from the Committee - but avoiding a reply to my letter they wrote to Messrs Boxall & Huth begging them to request me to withdraw or enter into explanations! -

To those Gentlemen I wrote this letter[33], to be placed by them before the Committee.

2 Lindsey Row, Old Chelsea

Tuesday June 25th.


My position with reference to the Burlington Club is simply this. For some time back the Members of the Committee have been accepting continual relays of information, and collecting documents which as I now find, involve even enclosures from utter strangers on my personal affairs! And yet at an advanced stage of this elaborate system the first notification which I[34] receive, actually takes the form of [an] unmodified request for me to withdraw from the Club, at the risk of expulsion! accompanied by the book of Rules (p. 25) coarsely scored at the one bearing on their threat - and terminating the matter - how? - by an offer to return my money at the door!!! -

Can it be possible that the Gentlemen whose names I see on the Committee list would themselves submit to such a form of demand? -

A negative answer to this must prove startlingly fated in each mind to the whole course of action!

The application then is tantamount to an admission, that their body includes one who is not of their order, and to whom the conception & compassing of such proceedings must be totally solely attributable! -

You Gentlemen on thinking for a moment what would be your own course of action at such a time, must perceive that in its present form, I am debarred from entertaining the question at all.

I have Gentlemen
The honor to be very respectfully

J. A. McN Whistler.

W Boxall Eq R A
Louis Huth Esq"

[p. 26] Receiving from the Committee no acknowledgement whatever of the above, I wrote[35] after duly waiting.

"2 Lindsey Row. Old Chelsea

July 25th


I had the honor to present to the members of the Committee of the Burlington Club thro Mr Boxall a month ago the statement of which the enclosed is a copy - I have not had the honor of receiving from the Committee an answer -

If the gentlemen of the Committee feel that the very marked course they have pursued towards me be a mistaken one & irreconcilable with what they themselves indevidually [sic] could ever have expected to encounter, they will doubtless be anxious to express the regret Gentlemen experience at having treated a Gentleman with less courtesy than must be their habit.

I have the honor Gentlemen
to be your obedient Servant

J. A McN Whistler.

To the Gentlemen of the Committee of the Burlington Club."

[p. 27] "Burlington[36] Fine Arts Club
177 Piccadilly.

July 31st 1867.


I am instructed by the Committee to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 25th inst, with its enclosures.

The Committee do not observe in this or in any other of the letters and papers forwarded to them by you, any denial, or explanation of the Assaults brought to the notice of the Committee by Mr F Seymour Haden - They have therefore only to refer you to their two letters dated respectively the 11th & 13th June, and to a letter from Mr R Fisher to your proposer Mr Boxall, which that Gentleman informs the Committee he has transmitted to you.

I am Sir
Your obedient Servant

R. N Wornum

Hon Secty

J A M Whistler Esq
2 Lindsey Row

[p. 28] "2 Lindsey Row[37],

Augt 1st

Gentlemen -

In reply to your letter of the 31st of July, I have to say, that of course I have neither denied the punishment administered to Mr F. S. Haden, nor entered into any details concerning it, simply because I have yet to learn that the Committee of the Burlington Club have any right whatever to discuss that matter - when that is once established I shall be charmed to relate, if it can be agreeable to the Gentlemen, this or any other little anecdote that shall possibly conduce to their amiable amicable entertainment.

Meanwhile the question at issue is the conduct of the Committee towards myself. It has not as yet been made clear to me that any group - whose special profession it is note [sic] shall make it their "custom always of an afternoon" to discuss the private affairs of a Gentleman, and introduce entertain any information respecting him, and having taken upon themselves to treat this Gentleman with marked want of courtesy, should (p. 29) conceive it possible to maintain this peculiar pursuit, or drop it at their pleasure! I have therefore again to direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that my letters of the 14th and 25th of June remain substantially unanswered -

I have Gentlemen
the honor to be
Your obedient Servant

J. A. MacN Whistler.

"To the
of the Committee
of the Burlington Club.

It was not until four months after this, and at a time when most members of the Club would naturally be out of town, that I heard any thing further of the matter. On the 2nd of Decr I received the following[38].

"Burlington Fine Arts Club

2nd Decr 1867.


Your letter of the 18th August last * was read before the Committee of this Club this afternoon, and I have to inform you [p. 30] that unless the Committee receive from you notice of your withdrawal from the Club on, or before, Tuesday the 10th of December inst, the following notice will be posted on the Reading room of the Club. The Committee being of opinion that it is inexpedient that Mr J A Whistler should continue to be a member of the Club they hereby call a Special General Meeting of the Members in order to lay before them, a statement of the reasons which have compelled the Committee to come to this conclusion -

I am Sir -
Your obedient Servt

R N Wornum

J. A Whistler Esq."

* Error in the Committee's part, my letter was dated the 1st of Augt.

To this I answered[39]

2 Lindsey Row

Decr 3rd 1867


I have just received your Communication of Decr 2nd and have the honor to inform you that I await the General Meeting of the Club which you propose. [p. 31] May I request that if it be possible, it may be held in the evening after dinner, as the loss of daylight at this time of year, is a serious matter to an Artist, I cannot but suggest at the same time, that the introduction of my name in an official Club room notice, is a piece of wanton hostility not customary, and not necessary in the calling of a General Meeting, for which purposes, private notice to each Member will of course be required.

I have Sir
the honor to be
Your obedient Servant

J. A. McN Whistler

R N Wornum
Hon Sec. Burlington Club["]

It was surely after this, a most unhandsome, and uncalled for act, to placard my name in the Club, to greet the casual eye of any Member, or visitor happening in. - And was not all this most malevolent and unfair in its intention when we find the Circular[40] drawn up [p. 32] and sent to all Members - As follows - carefully excluding my name from among them, & avoiding any mention of me -

Burlington Fine Arts Club

Decr 9th 1867


A special General Meeting will be held at the Club house on Friday the 13th of December at half past four oclock, to decide a matter which the Committee considers renders necessary the Application of Rule 27, of the regulations of the Club.

Your attendance is requested

By order of the Committee

R N Wornum

Hon Secretary"

Had my name been in the Circular it would properly have roused the attention of all Members who took any interest in the matter, while its being at the (p. 33) very same time posted in the Club room, was a deep and needless - tho safe wound inflicted upon an untriedheard Gentleman - for the purpose of prejudicing his position. -

The meeting itself was called within four days - There is no rule to the contrary - for there is no rule at all concerning it in the book! -

Custom, and rules of other Clubs usually require fifteen days notice.

Another point not defined in the Rules of the Club, is the particular majority required for carrying Expulsion - so that I may almost say, that I have served as the "Coup d'essai"! -

Again a fact which I should hope is without precedent is this - From first to last I was not in any way furnished with the list of charges to be preferred against me, or the documentary details so industriously collected. The whole was reserved for my sudden [p. 34] annihialation [sic] when once before the Audience! This may be dramatic! but is scarcely handsome! - And even to this moment I know of the details, only what my memory happens to retain from the Secretarys single reading! -

However as the evening went on, I felt more and more that it became me not at all to entertain the charge before that Assembly. -

The case should not stand upon its "police" merits, but before Gentlemen, the unworthiness of the method in which the charges were raked up, should of itself have been their condemnation -

This the Club in its anxiety to purify itself by my expulsion, failed utterly to see! - And their high tone of honor while so sensitive to my ebulitions [sic] of temper, was surpassed by thus listening to, and encouraging aspersions & information so collected! Yet notwithstanding my strong feeling upon these points [p. 35] it will be in the recollection of members present that after a markedly counter appeal had been made to me, by one member (to me unknown) I most distinctly volunteered to waive my abstract objections, and fully enter into the merits of the several cases, if only the Committee would have expressed the faintest regret at the very peculiar cause course into which they had been betrayed in dealing with me. This offer elicited no response whatever! -

The following letter[41] from Mr Gabriel Rosetti [sic] had been omitted from the Official correspondence at the Meeting, and I met with great opposition in reading it

16 Cheyne Walk

June 14th 1867

My dear Wornum

My brother & I have just seen the letter which our friend Mr Whistler has received from you on behalf of the Committee of the Burlington Club. As it seems [p. 36] that the view which strikes us at once has not yet presented itself to the Committee will you allow us to bring it thro you to their notice, without as we hope saying more than, that two members of the Club are warranted in saying. We certainly venture to think that the Committee has lacked due consideration in sustaining up to so advanced a stage of proceedings the personal complaint made by one Member against another without making that other at all acquainted with the cause course of affairs - In fact we must cannot but conceive that some apology is now owing in the first instance to Mr Whistler, whatever might be the further issue of events.

That a number of Gentlemen should discuss the concerns of another, and act on their conclusions without making him in any degree a party to their movements, seems such an anomally [sic] in social intercourse and in the courtesy from which Club life surely does not exempt individuals, that being pointed out, it must become apparent at once how undue pressure (p. 37) from one side has warped, what cannot but be the normal feeling of the Committee.

This letter is written on the spur of the moment to meet the exigencies of the case in its present stage, and not to deal at present with another apparent anomally: viz: the introduction of purely personal matters into the business of a Club. -

Yours faithfully

D. G. Rossetti

This was objected to on the plea of its being a private note - Whereas letters from Mr Haden to "Mon cher Legros" & his reply to "Mon cher Haden" met with no such opposition! - It has been intimated to me that Mr Hadens statement to the Committee produced an unfavorable impression, not only as to my past conduct out of the Club, but also as to possible future demeanor within it, - in that I might be guilty at any moment of acts of violence, towards either the Committee, or the Members! - Now [p. 38] this was an outrageous, but a possible supposition at the time that the mean insinuation was made, but at the time when the vote of the Club was taken it had passed out of the region of contingencies into that of demonstrated untruths - for under circumstances which might certainly have palliated some feeling of considerable exasperation on my part - I had conducted myself - I must take leave to say so - with the usual propriety and courtesy towards all with whom I then came in contact -

Mr Haden himself I had met several times in the Club rooms and had made no hostile demonstration whatsoever - It is manifest therefore that I have always used The Club as neutral ground, to which no gentleman brings his quarrels, or his family matters, and it is clear that the vote of the Club was professedly based upon anything but my past or prospective demeanor in it as a Member -

Another remarkable proof of the tone of the evenings proceedings, is the fact that a resolution, suggesting that the Committee having already written their fixed opinion [p. 39] "should take no part in the voting" was over[r]uled! This question was put to the "Good taste" of the room, how ineffectually is shewn by the fact that not only the Committee, but Mr Haden himself voted in the novel position of Accuser, Informer and Juror! -

It may and no doubt will be said that after all

I conclude by saying that the charges professed against me, were frivolous vexatious irrelevant, and in many cases, wilfully untrue! -

That I was wrongfully treated by the Committee from the very outset

That I owed no explanation to the Committee or the Club - that I still feel perfectly satisfied with the position I took up in meeting the accusations levelled at me, a feeling in which I am confirmed by valued friends, in whose judgement I place great reliance, and especially by the voluntary and instant resignation of the two Messrs Rosetti; [sic] & that finally the Burlington Club have thrust from them one who never disturbed them with [p. 40] either his threats or his fears in order that they might more closely identify themselves with one whose practises of Amateur Detective and Reporter of conversations at his own table, are detestable in any Society of Gentlemen -

From a pamphlet[42] published by Mr Haden, concerning another quarrel of his, I extract the following letter, shewing as a precedent, the opinion of the Lords of the Committee of Council of on Education, upon the impropriety of forcing private grievances upon the official consideration of Boards or Committees

"Science and Art Department"
London. W.

June 7th 1867.


Yours of the 27th Ult with copies of the correspondence which accompanied it, having been laid before the Lords of the Committee Council on (p. 41) Education, I am directed by their Lordships to refer you to their previous minute of the 11th ult, the purport of which was sent to you, & to inform you that they regret you should have seen fit to make any further communication to them on questions of a private and painful nature, between yourself and your Partner who is no longer alive -

My Lords do not see that any public advantage can possibly arise from the consideration of such a subject, and they have directed their officers not to continue any further communications with you in regard to it

I am Sir
Your obedient Servt

Norman Macleod

Asst Secretary.

F. Seymour Haden Esq["]

Upon this "rebuke" as Mr Haden justly calls it, the Committee of the Burlington Club might well in their [p. 42] turn have framed their answer to him, and thus have avoided the questionable sorry satisfaction of having subserved to work out the vengeance of heroes of doubtful questionable calibre -

I have Sir
The honor to be
Your Excellence
most obedient Servant

J. A. MacNeill Whistler

To his Excellency
The Marquis d'Azaglio. [sic]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Marquis d'Azeglio
Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more].

2.  MsLc
This letter incorporates copies of a number of other letters from JW's correspondence with the Burlington Fine Arts Club: #00498; #02240; #01040; #10442; #00436 (draft letter); #10054; #00439; #13270; #00401; #00442; #11955; #00443; #11956; #00444; #00445; #00438; see below. N. Macleod to F. S Haden is a version of #11818.

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 12 March 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.  meeting
That is, the special General Meeting of the Club to reconsider JW's membership which took place on 13 December 1867.

5.  Mr Boxall
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more]. Boxall was a Burlington Club Committee member.

6.  Mr Huth
Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more]. Huth was also a Burlington Club Committee member.

7.  Decr 19th
Versions of this letter may be found at #02240 and #00498.

8.  Mr Gabriel Rosetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more].

9.  Mr William Rossetti
William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more].

10.  conduct
On 26 April 1867, JW quarrelled with Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more], over his treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. On 23 April, Traer had died during a trip to Paris, of alcohol related causes. 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 in a Paris café, JW 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, having brought to the Club's attention several alleged previous incidents of assault involving JW (JW to L. Huth, #02240, JW to W. Boxall, #00498). JW was asked to resign on the threat of expulsion in June 1867 (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442). Aggrieved with the summary way in which he felt the Club had treated him, JW refused to entertain the charges against him, claiming that the Club had no right to interfere in a private matter (see JW to L. Huth, #02240). Despite his protests, he was expelled at a meeting of the Club (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #00445) on 13 December 1867. Undeterrred, JW wrote this letter to the Marquis pleading his case. However, Haden and JW never spoke again and the affair caused a family rift (see, for example, JW to F. S. Haden, #01936, D. D. Haden to JW, #01915, and G. Wm. Whistler to F. S. Haden, #06681).

11.  Il faut...
Fr., You must be polite, and you can never be too much so!

12.  Capt Wake
Captain Baldwin Arden Wake (1813-1880), officer in the Royal Navy [more].

13.  Doctor Crosbie
Dr Alexander Crosbie, assistant naval surgeon [more].

14.  Major Smith
Major Smith, officer in the Peruvian Artillery.

15.  Mr Shepheard
Shepheard, a witness to JW's brawl with Captain Wake.

16.  Capt Doty
Captain Horace H. Doty (b. 1824 or 1825), officer of marines, specialist in signal lights and lighthouse illumination [more].

17.  Admiral Tucker and his staff
Rear-Admiral John Randolph Tucker (1812-1883), naval commander [more]; Captain David Porter McCorkle (b. 1822/1824), staff officer to Admiral Tucker, Peruvian Navy [more]; Commander Walter Raleigh Butt (1830/1839-1885), staff officer to Admiral Tucker, Peruvian Navy [more]; Captain Hunter Davidson (1827-1913), Senate of the General Assembly of Maryland [more]; and Henry B. Edenborough (b. 1840?), Captain of Corvette, Peruvian Navy [more].

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

19.  Ce n'est pas vrai
Fr., That is not true.

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

21.  Je n'oserais pas dire celà
Fr., I would not venture to say that.

22.  Genl Lee's
General Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870), Superintendant of USMA, West Point, and later Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate States of America [more].

23.  Seulement messieurs ...
Fr., Only gentlemen I advise you that this is a bad mark for you.

24.  Ah! c'est ... trois
Fr., That is to say, a bad mark for all three.

25.  letter
This letter may be viewed at #01040.

26.  letter
This letter may be viewed at #10442.

27.  R. N W
Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877), history painter [more].

28.  To this I answered
The following letter may be seen at #00436.

29.  correspondence
See #10054.

30.  2 Lindsey Row
This letter may be viewed at #00439.

31.  money
Double underlined.

32.  Burlington Fine Arts Club
See #13270.

33.  this letter
Letter is transcribed at #00401.

34.  I
Double underlined.

35.  I wrote
See #00442.

36.  Burlington
See #11955.

37.  2 Lindsey Row
See #00443.

38.  the following
See #11956.

39.  I answered
See #00444.

40.  Circular
See printed circular #00445.

41.  following letter
See #00438.

42.  pamphlet
See Haden, Sir Francis Seymour, Paris Jurors: a Letter to Henry Cole …, London, 1867.