The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 17 of 82

System Number: 00436
Date: [11 June 1867][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Rodolph Nicholson Wornum[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler B215
Document Type: ALd

[embossed star with words:] 'IVORY NOTE'

2 Lindsey Row

Sir -

I have received the communication you have addressed to me on behalf of the Ctte of the Burlington Club[3] - and write at once what seems necessary to be said at the moment -

My greatest surprise is caused by finding to find that the matter an entirely personal affair utterly unconnected with the club - being taken in hand at all shd. have gone so far without the accused my being consulted in any way - That the gentlemen of the committee shld unanimously receive the ex parte[4] statement fromof one[5] of their [p. 2] own body and then instantly instead[6] of instantly writing to the accused member condemn him unheard [thereof?] an accused member of the club is only surpassed perhaps by the astounding suggestion that he shd quietly and shrinking miserably withdraw and so confirm any aspersions cast upon him -

Upon the slightest reflection it will doubtless be clear to the gentlemen of the committee that the very fact of the thoroughly detailed complaints laid before them by Mr. S H[7] - without previously warning me of his intention, is in itself an [unprecedented?] act unworthy of unbecoming a gentleman and speaks strangely for his [p. 3] good faith -

I have therefore to say that instead of retiring from the Club at Mr Hs instigation I have to request that a court of enquiry be held upon the matter, and if it judged that in this matter Mr Hs conduct is that becoming a gentlem[an] - I shall gladly cease to be a member of the B C -

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1.  [11 June 1867]
Dated from R. N. Wornum to JW, #00437, and references to F. S. Haden (see note below).

2.  Rodolph Nicholson Wornum
Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877), history painter [more]. The Burlington Club Committee included William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more], Richard Fisher (d. 1890), Fellow and Curator of the Society of Painter-Etchers [more] and Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more] (President). JW had received a request from Wornum for his resignation from the Club on the threat of expulsion (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442).

3.  Burlington Club
A reference to the Burlington Fine Arts Club, a club for artists and connoisseurs. It was founded early in 1866 and located at 177, Piccadilly. JW was proposed as a member on 22 February 1867 (see William Boxall, Louis Huth and Marquis d'Azeglio, proposers, #11957).

4.  ex parte
A legal term meaning an application on behalf of one party only.

5.  one
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. In April 1867, JW quarrelled with Haden, 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, having brought to its attention several alleged previous incidents of assault involving JW (JW to L. Huth, #02240). JW wrote to William Boxall and Louis Huth 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).

6.  instead...member
Added in ink.

7.  Mr. S H
'Mr. SH,' 'Mr H': that is, Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].