11-10-2001 11-10-2001
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Boston MA
2109 Boston
November 10, 2001 10:00AMCalender


Auction: Sale #2109 - 2109 Location: Boston Date / Time: November 10, 2001 10:00AM


LONGFELLOW, HENRY WADSWORTH (1807-1882) Autograph Letter Signed, Cambridge, June 5, 1843, to A.M. Ide, Jr., four pages, commenting on Ide's request for criticism concerning his (Ide's) poetry and commenting at length on the subject of poetry, with holograph address leaf. In full: My dear Sir, I have had the pleasure of receiving your favor of May 29, and shall answer it in the same spirit of frankness in which it is written. I am indeed very glad you have written to me; for having gone over the ground you are now going over, in literary hopes, projects and aspirations, it may be in my power to give you a useful hint or two. Nor will you take this amiss; for I am just twice your age; and can without vanity therefore offer you the light of my experience. In the first place, then, a word as to your position. Were I a farmer, as you are, and had at the same time the gift of song, as you have, I would cling to my position in the world with pride and gratitude. I have great reverence for labor. It gives health of body and health of mind. Hold fast to your inheritance, therefore; be both a farmer and poet, and give us in your song, the scent of wild-flowers and the new-turned soil, and the roar of the forest. Of city poets there are enough;- let us have one good, vigorous, athletic bard with thick shoes and a brown hand. That is what I should aim at being, were I in your place. As to fame, I have but one word to say. Do not seek for it. It comes sooner or later - it comes because deserved, not because it is sought after. Write your best, and let your reputation take care of itself. This I have discussed somewhat at length in a book called "Hyperion," and which, if you do not own it, I should be happy to send you, if you care, for my opinion on that matter of literary fame, and if you will tell me how I can send the volumes. As to publishing in Magazine, if I did it at all, I should do it anonymously for the present. You will see the advantage of this hereafter. The few lines you send me show taste and delicacy of feeling; but are not precisely what I want you to write. Indeed it is difficult to say what a man should write; save that it should be himself, and savor of his position and calling. Have you read Carlysle's Writings? If not, pray read them; particularly his "Miscellanies" and "Heroes and Hero-Worship." They will cheer and invigorate you and throw much light on your path. I have written in great haste; and have not said one tenth part of what I wish to say to you. Pray write me as often and as fully as you feel inclined and be sure of in your literary and other undertakings; and when you next visit Boston do not fail to come and see me. Yours very truly, Henry W. Longfellow.
Estimate $1,500-2,000


A.M. Ide , Jr., Henry W. Longfellow, Ide, Cambridge, farmer and poet