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Lot 259
KIPLING, RUDYARD (1865-1936) AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS CELEBRATED POEM 'RECESSIONAL', signed, [1898]
Sold for £7,500 (US$ 11,761) inc. premium

Lot Details
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KIPLING, RUDYARD (1865-1936)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS CELEBRATED POEM 'RECESSIONAL', signed ('Rudyard Kipling'), 30 lines in five six-line stanzas, inscribed by Kipling 'For E.H. Bayly done by the Author' and 'H.M.S. Pelorus Weymouth', 1 page, quarto, on headed note-paper 'H.M.S. Pelorus. Channel Squadron', [1898]

God of our Fathers known of old -
Lord of our far-flung battle-line -
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine -
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet
Lest we forget - lest we forget!...

'RECESSIONAL' IS KIPLING'S SECOND BEST-KNOWN POEM, 'IF' BEING THE FIRST.

Kipling met Captain Edward Bayly, who was taking up a new command at Simonstown, on the S.S. Mexican travelling to South Africa in 1891. They became good friends and Kipling enjoyed a visit to the officer's mess at Simonstown. They met again at the Naval Review for Victoria's Diamond Jubilee when Bayly invited Kipling to join him on H.M.S. Pelorus for the Review and the following manoeuvres. Only days before, on the day of the Jubilee itself (22 June 1898) Kipling had endeavoured to fulfil the commission from the Times for a Jubilee poem under the title 'After' but put it aside as unsatisfactory. Returning from the Review in July and perhaps partly inspired by it ('Far-called our navies melt away...'), he took up 'After' again and through the good offices of Sally Norton and Lady Burne-Jones was persuaded to publish it. It appeared the next day on 17 July under the title 'Recessional'. There are manuscripts of 'Recessional' in the British Library (illustrated by Croft), Harvard College Library and the Morgan Library.

With the poem is the third leaf of a letter evidently by Bayly sending 'a copy of Kipling's poem for last years Jubilee, "Recessional", which he wrote out for me at Berehaven [near the entrance to Bantry Bay]. Best put it with other of your carefully stowed away Curios!' Bayly also describes a rough drawing by Kipling [still present and also on H.M.S. Pelorus note-paper] -- 'he scribbled off directly we got Admiral Fremantle's Memo: about the Naval Bicycle Club. The paragraph about "in circumstances of difficulty or danger, no salute need be given" especially tickled us all, and Kipling at once dashed off the sketch I send. Observe the expression of the blue jackets face after having upset the officer in uniform!...'

Present too is an autograph letter signed by Kipling to Bayly praising his 'splendid history of adventure' and inviting him to stay and a typed letter signed by Kipling to Major Turner dated 10 March 1919, stating that there 'were few men I loved better or admired more than the Bayly of the Pelorus'.

A large cabinet card of Bayly is included with a typed letter by Arnold White to Stanley Turner about a speech by Kipling on 24 May 1914 ('...Kipling came forward at the right moment. The apathy and indifference of the people to the real facts of the situation seem to be at last lifting...')

'The curious thing...is that, having written this, his most famous public utterance, he should have thrown it into the waste-paper basket...It was retrieved for the world by Sally Norton, the liberal daughter of his New England mandarin surrogate father...' (Wilson). Croft thought this to be Kipling's 'most famous poem.'

PROVENANCE: A descendant of Captain Edward Bayley (see also lot 261).

REFERENCES: Index of English Literary Manuscripts, Volume IV, 1800-1900, compiled by Barbara Rosenbaum and Pamela White, 1990; Angus Wilson, Rudyard Kipling, 1977; Location Register of Twentieth-Century Literary Manuscripts and Letters, 2 volumes, 1988; P.J. Croft, Autograph Poetry in the English Language, 2 volumes, 1973.
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