The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 3 of 46

System Number: 09388
Date: 26 June 1867
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: William Michael Rossetti[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: [Published][2]
Document Type: ALS


2 Lindsey Row -
Old Battersea bridge

Wednesday -
June 26 / 67.

Dear William -

Can't you come down and dine here tomorrow - I want so much to talk with you about this club affair[4] - I think I have got them all on the [hip[5]?] - and am as you may imagine determined to go on! - no compromise - no pity!! -

I shall carry it through or go out - I will have those old fellows know that I am not [p. 2] to be treated with this insolent discourtesy - an ample apology I shall insist on - on the part I mean, of the Committee[6]

They evidently would like much to hush the whole thing up - compromise the matter and let it drop! - But I shall stand nothing of the kind - however I will tell you all about it when I see you - and meanwhile thank you much for the true standing by me[7] you have shown - Also your willingness to bring forward yourself the [p. 3] motion[8] your brother[9] read to me - It is capital - but just now I am for pursuit, and wish no compromise - I have just fired off a shell[10] which I have reason to believe has burst right in the midst of the Commitee! Killing and wounding right and left! - and now that my enemy shows signs of demoralisation there are those I believe who would suggest forbearance! and charity! and that sort of thing! - but I am not like that - I shall utterly route them - or be routed utterly! -

Tomorrow then - if you can come - We will [p. 4] dine at 8. o'clock -

If this is to[o] sudden and you should have other engagements drop me a line to say where I can see you on Friday morning -

Ever Yours

J. A. M. Whistler

In looking at what I have written, it almost appears as tho' I meant you* by "those who would suggest charity..." etc - but you know that is not so[.] I mean others of whom I will tell you -
* because of the resolutions you proposed -

This document is protected by copyright.


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

2.  [Published]
Original probably in a private collection. Published in Christie's (New York) sales catalogue, 14 May 1985, lot 110, and Christie's (New York), 17 May 1991, lot 139. Excerpt published previously in Maggs sale catalogue, no. 492, London, 1927, p. 263, item 1254.

3.  A
Written in another hand.

4.  club affair
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 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). In April 1867, JW quarrelled with Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more], over Haden's 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 (#02240). JW was expelled at a general meeting of the Club on 13 December (see JW to W. Boxall, #00498).

5.  hip
If this word does indeed read 'hip', then it is most likely an allusion to Genesis 32.24-5 - 'And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him' (King James Version). The word for 'thigh' in this passage is sometimes rendered 'hip'. (The excerpt in the 1927 Maggs sale catalogue (see above) transcribes the word as 'grip'.)

6.  Committee
The Burlington Club Committee included William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more], Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more], Richard Fisher (d. 1890), Fellow and Curator of the Society of Painter-Etchers [more], and Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877), history painter [more].

7.  standing by me
See correspondence between D. G. Rossetti and R. N. Wornum, #00438, #00440. Rossetti protested that the Club should not have allowed proceedings against JW to have reached such an advanced stage without JW's full knowledge. Rossetti and his brother W. M. Rossetti eventually resigned as a gesture of support for JW (#00498).

8.  motion
JW had received a request for his resignation from the Club on the threat of expulsion (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442). F. S. Haden had been gathering evidence (see #00498) and presenting it to the Club Committee. JW wrote to William Boxall and Louis Huth (see note above) in protest: '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 receive, actually takes the form of an unmodified request to withdraw from the club at the risk of expulsion!!' (see #00401).

9.  brother
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more].

10.  shell
Probably JW to William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], and Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more], #00401.