UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: family, JW's
Record 33 of 202

System Number: 00440
Date: 14 June 1867
Author: Rodolph Nicholson Wornum[1]
Place: London
Recipient: Dante Gabriel Rossetti[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler B219
Document Type: ALS[3]


[embossed lion and unicorn insignia]

National Gallery

14th June 1867

My dear Rossetti

I cannot of course notice your letter[4] to me as Secretary of the Club[5]; but in my private capacity I must say that I do not see that the Committee has exceeded its functions in any way. I am told that such proceedings[6] are usual at clubs, and I have heard of instances to the point. I suppose the [p. 2] principle of such proceedings is to avoid the publicity and scandal of quarrels. A man is not prejudged in any injurious way by a suggestion that he had better withdraw from a certain Society, than expose himself to the risk of expulsion: it may prove an act of kindness. He is of course quite at liberty to decline to withdraw and court an enquiry -

Every Committee is ex [p. 3] officio liable occasionally to disagreeable business - You speak of private affairs; a club is a private society, and subsists on the order of its private affairs. If a member of a club, cannot enter a room except under the fear of being subjected to an assault[7], that shows great disorder in the "private affairs" of such society, and it is the duty of the conductors of the business of the society to try and correct such a state of affairs.

[p. 4] I think you will find on reflection that nothing unusual or unfair has been done in the case of your friend - The Committee in a second note has expressed its willingness to hear any explanations -

I however have no personal concern in the matter, what I have written I have written as the organ of the Committee.

Yours faithfully

R. N. Wornum

Dante Rossetti Esq


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Notes:

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

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

3.  ALS
Published in The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti 3, ed. William E. Fredeman. Woodbridge, Suffolk: D. S. Brewer, 2003, vol. 1, letter 67.80A.

4.  letter
See D. G. Rossetti to R. N. Wornum, #00438. The letter was connected with JW's recent quarrel with Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more], which led to his alleged assault on Haden in a Paris café. The quarrel concerned Haden's treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more], who died suddenly on 23 April of alcohol related causes, during a trip to Paris. Haden arranged for Traer's burial with what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste. A violent row took place between the brothers-in-law and Haden fell (or was allegedly pushed by JW) through a plate glass window. Both JW and Haden were members of the Burlington Fine Arts Club and soon afterwards Haden campaigned for JW to be excluded from the Club. JW was asked to resign on the threat of expulsion in June 1867 (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442). Wornum is responding to Rossetti's protest in his letter 'that the Committee has lacked due consideration in entertaining up to so advanced a stage of proceeding the personal complaint made by on member aggrieved another without making that other at all acquainted with the course of affairs.'

5.  Club
The Burlington Fine Arts Club, a club for artists and connoisseurs, founded early in 1866. 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).

6.  proceedings
See R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442. JW protested that the matter was a 'personal affair unconnected with the club' and that, having heard F. S. Haden's allegation, the Club committee should have contacted him directly before requesting his resignation from the Club (see JW to R. N. Wornum, #00436).

7.  assault
See note above concerning JW's quarrel with F. S. Haden.