Autograph Manuscript Signed of "Recessional"

Autograph Manuscript Signed of "Recessional" Rudyard Kipling.
Autograph Manuscript Signed of "Recessional"
Autograph Manuscript Signed of "Recessional"
Autograph Manuscript Signed of "Recessional"
A celebration of Queen and Empire that foreshadowed the impending darkness of World War
Autograph Manuscript Signed of "Recessional"

[Ottawa, Canada]: [N.D.]. 1 page Autograph Manuscript with text to recto of Government House, Ottawa stationery. A complete manuscript of his poem Recessional, including all 5 of the six-line stanzas, signed "Rudyard Kipling" at the conclusion. The present example appears to have been written from memory, as the second and third lines differ slightly from the printed version. Only one other handwritten example has come to auction (a copy to E. H. Bayly which appeared in 2013 and again in 2018, realizing over 10,000 pounds in the second appearance). The present is the only example on the market. An excellent and rare example of this poem in full autograph by Rudyard Kipling.

The manuscript includes three variant lines in the final stanza that differ from the published version. Kipling was expected to contribute to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee on 22 June 1897. The event was seen as acelebration of the British Empire and a monarch who ruled over 450 million people living on over a quarter of the land mass of the earth. Kipling, however, was silent. Then, on 17 July 1897, he published Recessional in The Times. As Jan Morris wrote in Pax Britannica, it was "like a slap in the face from an old roistering companion... It sounded a sombre, almost a frightened note, a warning against overconfidence, ‘frantic boast and foolish word.’Its sacramental solemnity jarred, and seemed to imply that the Jubilee celebrations were all tinsel and conceit...Almost nobody else in the kingdom could have expressed such views at such a moment, and commanded such respectful attention: and though the hysteria of the New Imperialism shrilled on its way unabashed, still the publication of Recessional was a watershed in the imperial progress – the moment when the true laureate of Empire saw, apparently for the first time, something ugly beneath the canopy... To the end of his life he thought Recessional the best poem he ever wrote."

Excluding quotations of single stanzas, Barbara Rosenbaum records two early versions of the poem and four later
air copies (see Index of English Literary Manuscripts, Vol. IV, part two). The present copy is given the number KpR 953. Two other fair copies unrecorded by Rosenbaum are known, including one from the Roy Davids Collection, sold at auction in 2013 and 2018. The present copy is on the headed notepaper of Government House, Ottawa and first sold at auction in May 1938 as the “Property of Dowager Countess Grey.” It was written for Albert Henry George Grey, fourth Earl Grey (1851 -1917) who was the Governor-General of Canada 1904-11 and, presumably, written during Kipling’s visit to Canada towards the end of 1907. The final stanza includes variant readings. The first four lines, as published, read “For heathen heart that puts her trust | In reeking tube and iron shard, | All valiant dust that builds on dust, | And guarding, calls not Thee to guard...” In the present manuscript these are rendered as “For heathen heart that puts her trust | In reeking tube and reddened blade - | All valiant dust that wars with dust | And warring calls not Thee to aid...”

Provenance: Albert Henry George Grey, fourth Earl Grey; Dowager Countess Grey; Sotheby’s, 24 May 1938, lot
604; Maggs; James F. Drake Rare Books and Autographs, New York; Doris L. Benz.
(Item #4443)

Price: $16,500