Lot 77
RUSKIN and LOWELL. Autograph letter signed by James Russell Lowell to John Ruskin, 1859
£2,000 - 3,000
US$ 3,400 - 5,000
Lot Details
Autograph letter signed by James Russell Lowell to John Ruskin, expressing his delight that Ruskin should admire his work: "My dear Mr Ruskin,/ to have made one man happy in a lifetime is worth living for, & you have made me happy and proud too in writing to Norton that you counted me 'among your friends'. That you may take for granted, but I must go farther & say 'among your debtors as well'. My proportion of a debt which I share with all who speak or read the English tongue may be small as far as it concerns you, but to me it is great & lifelong. We all quarrel with you sometimes, but what good could we get from a man who prophesied smooth things? & I am sure that I am not assuming too much when I say that in giving you my hearty thanks for what you have done, I am only doing what all the men whose opinion you would care for in America would gladly do if they had the same pretext for it that I have. I offer you my hand with all my heart, & I pay you my fealty also as to the man who has done for Art what Wordsworth wished to do for Poetry"; and asking him if he could contribute an article to the Atlantic Monthly; ending in the persona and feigned hand of Hosea Biglow: "i go in for the A buv like all git eout/ Hosea Biglow", 4 pages, blind-stamped initial 'L', 8vo, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 22 November 1859


  • 'I OFFER YOU MY HAND WITH ALL MY HEART, & I PAY YOU MY FEALTY ALSO AS TO THE MAN WHO HAS DONE FOR ART WHAT WORDSWORTH WISHED TO DO FOR POETRY': LOWELL'S FAMOUS LETTER OF TRIBUTE TO RUSKIN. Charles Eliot Norton, their mutual friend, had sent Ruskin a copy of Lowell's volume of abolitionist verses, The Biglow Papers, published the year before. Ruskin wrote to Norton on 24 October telling him Lowell 'does me more good in my dull fits than anybody, and makes me hopeful again', praise which elicited the present letter. Ruskin acknowledged Lowell's letter on 5 December: 'It was indeed a happy morning for me this, bringing me your letter'. But the article for the Atlantic Monthly, which Lowell had helped found in 1857 and edited, was not forthcoming.
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