FITZGERALD (EDWARD) Five autograph letters signed, to his young friend Horace Basham, 1875-1880
Lot 70
FITZGERALD (EDWARD) Five autograph letters signed, to his young friend Horace Basham, 1875-1880
Sold for £2,500 (US$ 4,202) inc. premium
Lot Details
Five autograph letters signed ("E. Fitzgerald" and "E. Fg."), to his young friend Horace Basham, written during his last years largely about Suffolk goings-on and Suffolk friends, including his closest friend Joseph 'Posh' Fletcher, whose herring fishery business he supported: "There is something going on there [in Lowestoft], as you know; & I hope you will come over there when next I go... I have not been there for 6 months; as I never go during the Season, as they call it. But I have been told that Jemmy Fletcher [Posh's brother] was the top Boat on the North Sea:- and that my man Joseph had also done well, only lost Nets. Fisher told me he had heard the Lowestoft Boats had done well with Mackerel: I suppose Joseph F. has been among them – He keeps all right, I believe, so long as he is at Sea: but gets all wrong on shore – Oh, what a Pity that such a Grand, Noble, & Good, Nature shd get spoiled – by that accursed Drink, which is the Curse of Lowestoft"; elsewhere in the letter, FitzGerald invites Basham to visit, thanks him for herrings and grapes ("...A Hamper of very good Herring came to me two days ago: were they from you or Fisher? Today comes a Parcel of very fine Grapes, off which (with Bread) I have dined, and the remainder will make my Dinner tomorrow, if I live. These grapes, I know, come from no one but yourself: so let me thank you for them..."), discusses the Lowestoft fishing fleet, encloses money for James Fisher ("...A very honest, & sincere, man; and now something of an old Friend..."), gives news of his health ("...I am fairly well myself, having entered on my 72nd year yesterday..."), looks forward to jaunts ("...I can get out in my Boat on the River when the Tides serve..."), etc., 18 pages, one letter heavily soiled, another with extensive splits and old tape-repairs and in need of conservation, but otherwise in reasonable condition, 8vo, Lowestoft and Woodbridge, 7 January 1875 to 1 April 1880, where dated


  • 'HE KEEPS ALL RIGHT, I BELIEVE, SO LONG AS HE IS AT SEA: BUT GETS ALL WRONG ON SHORE': Edward FitzGerald on Suffolk and his Suffolk friends, including the closest friend of all, 'Posh' Fletcher. What appears to be the final letter in the series is undated, but is written in a very shaky hand and could well date from during the visit by his close friend Charles Keene, the Punch artist so admired by Whistler, Degas and others, from 18 to 28 May 1883, a fortnight or so before his death: "he is just now in my little Greenhouse, playing on his Bagpipe – that is to say, on the Pipe part: for he has not brought the Bag with him.... The Roads are so dusty & the Sun so hot that we are scarce minded to go out in a Carriage; but we shall, I think, try for a Boat on the River this Afternoon".

    The recipient, Horace Basham of Aldeburgh, was nineteen years old when they met. He was said to be the son of a 'gentleman', George Basham of Staple Inn; in one of our letters, FitzGerald reports Keene as saying that Basham's uncle "is Remembered with honour by some London physicians that he is acquainted with". A number of letters by to him are printed by A.M. and A.B. Terhune, The Letters of Edward FitzGerald; although ours appear to be unpublished.
  1. Luke Batterham
    Specialist - Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
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