A lost Rossetti letter

Found in the front of an 1866 first edition of Swinburne's  Poems and Ballads (Moxon) this cutting from a catalogue from about 1920. The dealer is unnamed, possibly Maggs or Quaritch, and the catalogue seems to be entirely made up of autograph letters. This is an important letter but does not appear to be recorded anywhere or published. It was possibly bought by a wealthy collector and sits in a drawer in a mansion now owned by his indifferent philistine heirs...the catalogue gives a good taste of it however and it is good on Swinburne and Milnes...Swinburne's book was disowned by the publisher Moxon and scandalised Victorian England by its sensual and decadent themes and lack of respect fro Christianity...

Swinburne by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Rossetti (Dante Gabriel, 1828-1882). English Painter and Poet. A.L.S. to Frederick Sandys, the painter and book illustrator. 9pp, 8vo. N.D. circa 1857 £15 15s.

A magnificent and very long letter entirely on matters of art and literature. Concerning his own work and severely attacking Monckton Milnes; also prophesying a great career for the poet Swinburne. Mentioning William Morris, Dalziel, Val Prinsep, and others. "I have not yet got your proofs from Dalziel. I shall value them highly… Your description of Val Prinsep throwing stones into the sea is done to the life… I fear from the tone of your letter that you love not the face of man for the time being… "My chief work lately has been finishing a whacking big picture - the centrepiece of the Reredos for Llandaff Cathedral of which restored building there was a grand opening the other day. My picture was an 'Adoration'. I forget whether I showed you the beginning of it, but if so it could give you no notion of it in a finished state. It is stuck up in the Cathedral now; but no one saw it before it went, as I was very behindhand at the last moment, and had to paint with locked doors and set teeth. I have finished Rosamund, too, but little else since I saw you. Swinburne is just back from an autumn holiday, spent partly at Monckton Milnes in Yorkshire, who is a great admirer of him as the young poet of the day. Milnes and he were also kindred spirits as to impropriety, Milnes no doubt seeing that his mantle of this order of prophetic mission - or rather utter absence of mantle or other decent covering - will be submitted in unsullied lustre through Swinburne's hands. At present the young poet is in panting expectation of a high mark of favour and confidence promised him by his mentor, to wit, the loom of De Sude's (sic) Justine - the most immoral book in the world. "I have seen Rose from time to time; the other day he fed me and Morris at his club in the middle of the day, including 3 bottles of Burgundy before 3 o'clock. I must say I felt none the better at my afternoon's work. I fear the lawyers deserve their reputation in some respects, as I lost my umbrella (that monument of your pure taste) while it hung in the hall."

One thought on “A lost Rossetti letter

  1. Nancy Rose Marshall

    Just curious as to whether more of this letter is available? I am currently writing a monograph on Rossetti and love tidbits like this! Thank you for posting. FYI The current date is inaccurate of the letter as it should be 1861, when “Fair Rosamund” was completed.


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