ROSSETTI and RUSKIN Autograph letter signed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti ("D G Rossetti"), to the art connoisseur and literary scholar, Sidney Colvin, together with part of an autograph letter signed by Ruskin and a covering autograph letter by Edmund Blunden
Lot 163
ROSSETTI and RUSKIN
Autograph letter signed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti ("D G Rossetti"), to the art connoisseur and literary scholar, Sidney Colvin, together with part of an autograph letter signed by Ruskin and a covering autograph letter by Edmund Blunden
Sold for £1,875 (US$ 2,928) inc. premium

Lot Details
ROSSETTI and RUSKIN
Autograph letter signed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti ("D G Rossetti"), to the art connoisseur and literary scholar, Sidney Colvin, sending a book of verse and pressing the claims of its author ("...The writer is an old man & a gifted one, but hitherto without the least recognition. Do try to help his venture. I think very highly indeed of some qualities in his work, which do not need to be pointed out to you – Read 'Old Souls' first & those in the same section – the 'World's Epitaph—'Madeline' is less manageable, though with some attractions of execution to me, especially in parts..."), and going on to discuss an article replete with misquotation ("...Did you at all quote from memory in transcribing? This alone wd account for some things..."), 3 pages, 8vo, "Tuesday"; together with part of an autograph letter signed by Ruskin ("J Ruskin"), also to Colvin, discussing his article on Durer, in particular his discussion of the engraving 'Nemesis, or the Great Fortune' ("...I believe you are right about the Nemesis. – and that this less sentimental and straightforward interpretation is the true one – and you are doing very useful work in many directions...") and remarking: "it seems to me – all intellectual questions about art have now become so difficult that the best solution for some time to come – will be the merely practical one – showing people what is right – in ever so small a degree", 2 pages, trimmed head and foot but preserving signature and salutation, half an 8vo sheet; and verses docketed as being by Walter Scott, opening "Come listen brave boys to a story so merry", 2 pages, 4to

Footnotes

  • DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI ADVOCATES THE POETRY OF THOMAS GORDON HAKE, who afterwards was to play a pivotal role in his life. Included with these three manuscripts is a covering autograph letter by Edmund Blunden of 1931, informing the then owner that although he does not have his books to hand he can identify the poet of Rossetti's letter: "the poet for whom Colvin's good word was desired was Dr Thomas Gordon Hake, known as the Parable Poet – and a very good poet too. You will find him in the D.N.B., and I expect the title of the book concerned would be Madeleine"; and going on (mistakenly) to state that he thinks the Scott manuscript autograph, although if he still needs help, Sotheby's should know.

    Hake was a doctor by profession, turning to verse late in life; Michael Thorn, revising Richard Garnett's original article for the present day ODNB, summarises the story of his involvement with Rossetti: 'He published his first collection, The World's Epitaph, privately (in an edition of 100 copies) in 1866. Dr R. G. Latham lent his copy to Theodore Watts-Dunton, who in turn showed it to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, already an admirer of Valdarno. Hake did not actually meet Rossetti until 1869, but from that time on his association with the family was an important one... In June [1872] Hake advised that it would be best if Rossetti were removed from the house in Cheyne Walk and offered him shelter at his own house. Rossetti was already suffering delusions and the cab journey from Chelsea to Roehampton was a difficult one. The next day Rossetti was no less troubled and during the night swallowed a bottle of laudanum. As both doctor and poet, Hake was interested in the healing capacity of sleep and dreams, and Rossetti's deep sleep the following morning initially pleased him. Not until late in the afternoon did he raise the alarm, and begin his attempts to revive Rossetti with ammonia, with eventual success'.

    The recipient of these letters, Sidney Colvin, was to reach his apotheosis as Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum and as the friend of Robert Louis Stevenson: 'Colvin was on friendly terms with most of the great literary figures of his day, from Matthew Arnold and Robert Browning to Meredith and Swinburne. As a boy he had worshipped Ruskin, who was a family friend' (Ernest Mehew, ODNB).
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