The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 5 of 44

System Number: 12947
Date: 9 December 1867
Author: Horace H. Doty[1]
Place: London
Recipient: Rodolph Nicholson Wornum[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Call Number: National Art Library, PC12/6 MSL/1952/1353/2/4/1-3
Document Type: ALS

[monogram of lighthouse:] 'HHD'

13 Bury Street St James

9th Decr. 1867

To the Hon Secy of the Burlington Fine Arts Club


As it appears that the letters[3] which I had the honor to write to you contain matters that the Committee, within Official Capacity, [p. 2] consider themselves precluded from noticing, I beg to be allowed to withdraw those letters, and to substitute for them the following statement -

In the course of last year (at that time holding the rank of Captain of Frigate in the Chilean Navy in the War against Spain) I engaged [p. 3] J A Whistler, a member of your Club, as my Secretary: He went out to Valparaiso in that Capacity, and there basely and dishonorably betrayed me - finding it necessary to discharge him of all his trusts, and, to withdraw a personal credit which I had given him, I went to meet him [p. 4] on his return to England and encountered him on the Platform of the Waterloo Station -

Embarrassed at seeing me, he first tried to get away and then, finding I would not be put off, struck at me in the face -

I then struck him, and, in the presence of all the passengers, "pasted" [p. 5] him by calling out as loudly as I could, so that every one might hear, "This is Whistler the artist, A scoundrel, a seducer[4], a betrayer of his trust; Mark him!" - The crowd also callinged out "Kill the Blackguard" -

On recovering the effects [p. 6] of my blow, he abandoninged his baggage, he & jumpinged off the Platform, ran across the Rails, and took refuge in the "Cloak Room" on the opposite side of he Station, into which I did not follow him -

It appears hardly credible that such a man as this should be [p. 7] able to disguise his true character, by parading his name as a member of any Club of influence and importance -

At Valparaiso it was not so; the janitor of the Club there being simply desired to refuse him admittance when he presented himself at the doors[.]

I have the honor to be, Sir
Your Most Obedient Svt

H. H. Doty

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Horace H. Doty
Captain Horace H. Doty (b. 1824 or 1825), officer of marines, specialist in signal lights and lighthouse illumination [more]. This letter relates to JW's quarrel with Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more] (a club member) and his resistance to the Committee's efforts to expell him from the Burlington Fine Arts Club. Correspondence documenting the affair was to be read out at the special General Meeting of the club held on 13 December 1867.

2.  letters

3.  Seducer
JW allegedly seduced Astive Doty (b. 1840 or 1841), née Froidure, wife of H. H. Doty [more].

4.  Rodolph Nicholson Wornum
Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877), history painter [more].