DOUGLAS, ALFRED (1870-1945)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF SONNET IV FROM 'IN EXCELSIS', composed in the prison hospital, incorporated in an autograph letter signed ('Alfred Douglas'), to an unidentified correspondent, 14 lines, followed by the opening two lines of sonnet V from the same work, and quoted by Douglas as encapsulating the lesson that had most impressed him in prison ('...the most trying experience of a life which has been made up largely of trying experiences...') namely that 'suffering, much as we dislike it at the time, is more satisfactory to look back upon than pleasure', 2 pages, thin quarto, Monaco, 16 March 1926
When Death, the marshall of our settled state
Shall beckon unto our appointed end,
To what remembrances shall be the trend
Of those last thoughts that gather at the gate?...
What bitterness shall then be left in these,
As insult, calumny, the truth abjured,
The dock, the hand-cuff and the prison cell,
Detraction bartered for forensic fees,
And, else, a thousand wrongs bravely endured
And sovereign against the gates of hell?
Lord Alfred Douglas served six months' hard labour in Wormwood Scrubs for libelling Winston Churchill by alleging that he had taken part in a Jewish-financed conspiracy to have Kitchener murdered. His epic work 'In Excelsis' was written during his time in prison. It appears in The Complete Poems of Lord Alfred Douglas, 1928. Douglas's literary manuscripts are largely in America.