UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 9 of 67

System Number: 05849
Date: [1/18 June 1867][1]
Author: Ellen Traer[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: Louisa Holloway Traer[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler T194
Document Type: ALS


[printed symbol of cross][4]

Dear Lucie

Your letter was duly received & shd have been replied to earlier had there been anything in it requiring an answer

I am truly grieved as well as astonished at the manner in which Mr Seymour Haden[5] (acting for you) conducted my poor brother's funeral[6], [p. 2] if I may call it a funeral[.] No clergy man, no service read, no one to follow to the grave with the exception of the undertaker & bearers, one of the kindest hearted and most sympathyzing [sic] men -

Now. As I can not believe for one moment that this mode of burial can be approved by you will you kindly write me a line by return and tell me whether you will [p. 3] allow me to have the body of the brother, you know I so loved, removed[7] to England; you will not be at the smallest expense or inconvenienced in any way

For my own part, I think I can never be happy again if I am to always to have on my mind the misery of knowing that my only and much loved brother has been put into the ground with as little respect as one would pay to one's [p. 4] cat or dog.

Of course I know not who are your advisers in your present difficulties but one thing I must say, and I do so solely for your good do not be too confidential with Mr Seymour Haden

I know, perhaps better than you, how unwise it is, and I will never believe that the man who could carry his animosity & revenge beyond the grave can be a sincere[8] well-wisher [p. 5] either to you or your children[9][.] I believe he was considerably indebted[10] to your late Husband[.] what are you going to do about it? And are you taking measures to recover from him the £1000 due to you? I know also that my late brother was entitled to £200 from another source

I shall esteem it as a great personal favor [p. 6] if you will let me know by return of post whether you are willing to accede to my request and if so please send me written authority[11] to have the coffin removed from Père la Chaise[12]

Trusting the Children are both quite well and with love to them
Believe me
Truly yours

Ellen Traer


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Notes:

1.  [1/18 June 1867]
Dated from a related letter from E. Traer to JW, #05848.

2.  Ellen Traer
Ellen Traer (b. ca 1837), J. R. Traer's sister [more].

3.  Louisa Holloway Traer
Louisa Jane Holloway Traer (b. ca 1839, m. 1856), née Savage, wife of James R. Traer [more].

4.  [printed symbol of cross]
This letterhead is repeated on p. 5. Also on pp. 1 and 5 is a black mourning border.

5.  Mr Seymour Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

6.  brother's funeral
The funeral of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more], in Paris. On 23 April 1867, Traer died during a trip to Paris of alcohol related causes (see document signed A. Brierre de Boismont, #11801). F. S. Haden arranged for Traer's burial, in what JW and his brother William regarded as a disrespectful and perfunctory manner. Traer was buried with minimal ceremony and cost in a municipal cemetery in Paris (see note below). In addition, Traer left debts and his wife (from whom he may have been estranged) seems to have distanced herself from the proceedings, creating a family rift (see Ellen Traer to JW, #05852).

7.  removed
JW and his brother William made arrangements to have Traer's body returned to Ellen Traer in England, assisted by George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), art dealer in Paris [more] (see G. A. Lucas to W. G. Whistler, #02654) and a list of subscribers.

8.  sincere
Doubled underlined.

9.  children
May Traer (b. 1858), daughter of Louisa H. and James R. Traer [more]. The Traers seem to have had one other child, who remains unidentified.

10.  indebted
Ellen Traer suggested that that account books of the Haden-Traer medical practice should be inspected. See E. Traer to JW, #05848.

11.  authority
Ellen Traer does not seem to have received authority from Louisa Traer to have James Traer's remains exhumed. However, having consulted her solicitors, she wrote to JW: 'Their own opinion is that if we can obtain the consent of the french authorities that to remove the coffin from Père La Chaise that Mrs J. Traer's consent will not be of any importance & that there will be nothing actionable in our doing so' (see E. Traer to JW, #05848).

12.  Père la Chaise
The municipal cemetery on the boulevard Ménilmontant, Paris.