"Henry W. Longfellow" Signed Poem and Autograph Letter Sent to American Diplomat and Historian George Bancroft
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW (1807 - 1882). American Poet and Educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline and was one of the five "Fireside" Poets.
December 3, 1867-Dated, Autograph Letter Signed and Rare Poem Signed, both Very Fine. The Autograph Letter Signed, "Henry W. Longfellow," 1 page, 6.5" x 5" (8vo), Cambridge, December 3,1867, to American diplomat and historian George Bancroft, while the U.S. Minister to Germany (1867-74). Together with a separate, original enclosure, an Autograph Quotation Signed, "Henry W. Longfellow." Cambridge 1867, measuring 5. x 6.5" having Four Lines of Poetry, being the final stanza or his poem "The Day Is Done. " The brown ink, while lightly penned originally is fully readable and clear. Longfellow writes, in full:"My Dear Mr. Bancroft, II gives me great pleasure to comply with your request, only J am a little embarrassed what to write. I suppose it is of no great consequence, however, and, - write the last stanza that comes to mind. When you present it to the Princess Royal [Victoria Adelaide Mary Louise (1840-190 I), eldest daughter of Queen Victoria who had married in 1858 the Prince Royal of Prussia Frederick William (1831-1888), later Frederick 1111, I beg you to say how much honored I feel, by her wish to have it [Bancroft had written Longfellow from Berlin on September 21 1867, describing the desire expressed to him by the Princess Royal to have something in Longfellow's hand with his signature]. You must greatly enjoy your life in Berlin. All the old German memories must gather round you like songs out of the Past, and you say (as Goethe [in Faust] does:'Ihr bringt mit euch die Bilder froher Tage Und manche liebe Schatten steigen auf' ['You bring with you visions of happy days And many beloved shadows arise'] I hope Mrs. Bancroft enjoys it equally. To her if will have the charm of novelty; but that also is a charm. -- Should you meet the Baronesse Hohenhausen - she writes that she had the pleasure of seeing you - will you be kind enough to say that I have received her letter, and shall answer it by this post or the next. -- With best regards to Mrs. Bancroft, I remain -- Yours very truly -- Henry W. Longfellow. " On a separate 8vo sheet, the poet writes out four lines or poetry, the last stanza of his famous poem 'The Day is Done': "The night shall be filled with music,And the cares, that infest the day,Shall fold their tents like the ArabsAnd as silently steal awayHenry W. Longfellow Cambridge 1867."Provenance: Estate of Helen Coolidge Woodring, daughter of Marcus A Coolidge (Senator, Mass.), and wife of Harry H. Woodring (former Governor of Kansas and Secretary of War (1936-40) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to the present owner. A letter of authentication, extensive description for insurance appraisal value of $5,000 is also provided, being by dealer James Lowe, dated May 15, 2007 are included with this historic lot.
The A.L.S. of Longfellow is published in volume five, page 189, of The Letters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow edited by Andrew Hilen and published in 1981 by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, and is designated in a footnote as transcribed for this publication not from the original but from a "handwritten copy" supplied by the "Massachusetts Historical Society." As such, I have found differences in punctuation and wording between the printed cop and the original letter being here appraised, its existence apparently heretofore unknown. In the footnote to the printed version of the letter, it was previously known that Longfellow "enclosed with this letter the last stanza of ' The Day is Done'," however it is not quoted in the text ;ith th letter. The original letter and stanza of poetry of Longfellow are still laid in a 19th century autograph file folder used for storing autographs and manuscripts in keepsake autograph cabinet [possibly that of the Princess Royal of Prussia]. On the ornate imprinted label on the cover of the folder are penned brief details in German about Longfellow's life. Although no letters from Longfellow to George Bancroft have been sold at auction. 12 letters to Bancroft from various dignitaries such as U.S. Presidents, Charles Sumner, John Whittier, etc. have sold at auction between 1982 and 2005, ranging in price from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Only four copies of handwritten quotations by Longfellow of the final stanza of "The Day is Done" have sold at auction, however all four sold more than twenty years ago and their prices are not pertinent in today's market. I can find no record at auction of Longfellow writing in German a quotation from Goethe's Faust, and therefore must conclude that it is a great Longfellow rarity.