TENNYSON, ALFRED (1809-1892)
AUTOGRAPH REVISED MANUSCRIPT OF HIS POEM 'TO THE QUEEN', 48 lines in twelve four-line stanzas (the printed version has 9 four-line stanzas), with substantive autograph revisions and additions preserving reconsidered readings, and an autograph note signed by Tennyson ('ATennyson') at the end to the printer Edward Moxon, three of the stanzas are added above the note to Moxon, two of them repeating stanzas in the main text, 3 pages, octavo, sale catalogue description bound in, book-plate of Helen Hay Whitney, newspaper cutting loosely inserted, bound with blanks, red morocco, spine and dentelles by Riviere, upper cover detached, dated March 1851
Revered, Victoria, you that own
The stateliest office upon earth
Fulfilling by rights of birth
Than arms, or power of brain, or birth
The sacred duties of an English throne
Cd give the warrior kings of old...
TENNYSON'S FIRST POEM AS POET LAUREATE, 'To the Queen', was published as the dedication poem of the Laureate Edition (the 7th edition) of the Poems, 1851. Appropriately, Tennyson employed in it the same abba octosyllabic stanza form as in In Memoriam and the patriotic poems of around 1833, such as 'Hail Briton!' and 'Love Thou Thy Land'.
The devoted, mutually sympathetic friendship between Tennyson and Victoria makes this manuscript particularly appealing, marking as it does its real beginning. Later, after Albert's death, In Memoriam was to be 'the only book, besides religious books, to which Her Majesty turns for comfort' and like the Idylls of the King, with its 'glorious' dedication to Albert, 'soothed her aching bleeding heart.' At the time of John Brown's death Victoria read In Memoriam again and Tennyson wrote the two lines for the pedestal of the bronze statue of Brown. Tennyson was delighted 'with the breadth and freedom and penetration of her mind'; she was 'struck by the greatness and largeness of his.' Emily Tennyson noted that 'The Queen's manner towards him is child-like and charming, and they both express their opinions freely.' It has been said that 'in a sense, and in part, Tennyson during this last phase, filled Brown's place' (Sir Charles Tennyson). On his death, Victoria wrote of her grief 'that the great poet and kind friend has left this world...[he] was always very kind and sympathising to me, quite remarkably so.'
The present manuscript is one of the most important and most complete of a group of drafts, fragments and proofs relating to the poem and is a significant addition to the manuscript sources of the text. Christopher Ricks refers to most of the others in The Poems, 1987, and reproduces them in The Tennyson Archive, without specifying all the differences.
The other known relevant manuscripts and printed texts are Harvard bMS. Eng 952.1 (105), 4 lines with earlier readings; Harvard bMS. Eng 952.1 (242-243), 16 lines, with some readings preceding the text in the present manuscript and an autograph instruction 'This is to be the commencement missing out the 2d stanza'; Harvard Poems, 1851, in proof, corrected by Tennyson; University Library Cambridge - related to 'To the Queen', 4 lines and two jottings; Humanities Research Center, Austin, Poems, 1851, in proof, corrected by Tennyson; a manuscript in the Charterhouse School Library, consisting of a draft of five stanzas (see Notes and Queries, 1952 and 1958); Huntington Library, the poem in an unidentified hand, mis-headed; 'An Unpublished Version' printed by Hallam Tennyson as the dedication to A Memoir, i., 1897 (manuscript untraced); the so-called 'Drexel text' published by Richard Jones as the Appendix to The Growth of the Idylls of the King, 1895, from a manuscript at the Drexel Institute, Philadelphia (which manuscript was sold at the Parke-Bernet Galleries, October 1944); a different version given by Hallam Tennyson in Materials (manuscript untraced); and a manuscript reportedly given by Lord Tennyson, Governor of South Australia, to the Adelaide Public Library (see newspaper cutting with the present manuscript that reports the gift). The main repository of Tennyson's manuscripts is at the Tennyson Centre in Lincoln.
This manuscript contains both the stanza 'Now should I dare to flatter state...' which was taken out at proof stage and also the stanza on the Crystal Palace that was eliminated from later printed editions. The note at the end to Moxon reads: 'March 1851 My dear Moxon I send you the three last stanzas of the dedication. Ought not all the You's & the Your's & the Her's to be in Capitals? ATennyson Send the Revises.'
The greatest accumulations of Tennyson's papers are at the Tennyson Centre, Lincoln, Harvard and Trinity College, Cambridge.
PROVENANCE: Sotheby's, 15 June 1889, lot 924 (the printed description pasted into the binding); Helen Hay Whitney.
REFERENCES: The Poems, edited by Christopher Ricks 1987; Sir Charles Tennyson and H. Oyson, Dear and Honoured Lady, 1969; The Tennyson Archive, 31 volumes, edited by Christopher Ricks and Aidan Day, 1987-1993; Hallam Tennyson in Materials for a Life of A.T. Collected for My Children, four volumes, 1895; Michael Thorn, Tennyson, 1992; A Variorum Edition of Tennyson's Idylls of the King, edited by John Pfordresher, 1973.