(KEMBLE, Fanny.) LONGFELLOW, Henry Wadsworth.
Evangeline, a Tale of Acadie.
Sixth edition, one year after the first. This copy inscribed on the front free endpaper, “Sarah Butler from her friend, Fanny [Kemble,] December 25th/’45,” and with the Butler Place bookplate to the front pastedown. Sarah was Fanny Kemble’s elder daughter, named for her aunt, the great tragedienne Sarah Siddons. When Kemble’s abolitionism forced her separation from her plantation-owning husband Pierce Butler, her daughters remained in his custody. In 1848 she was touring England, in an attempt to rehabilitate her career, when she was “… summoned to America, where her husband filed divorce proceedings on the grounds of desertion; batteries of expensive lawyers were hired on both sides, but Butler finally agreed to a settlement without the formality of a trial, to prevent revelation of evidence extremely embarrassing to him. It was a long and bitter divorce, but it was settled with surface amicability; Fanny was to have $2500 a year and access to the children, who were to live with their father. Butler tried every stratagem to keep from fulfilling the conditions, to the extreme pain of Fanny, who resumed her maiden name.” (ODNB) An extremely emotive piece; a Christmas gift, inscribed in the midst of a highly-contested divorce, by a mother to her 13 year-old daughter, “her friend.” A number of passages have been marked in the margins in pencil, including these lines; “Talk not of wasted affection, affection was never wasted;/ If it enrich not the heart of another, its waters, returning/ Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them full of refreshment…”
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Duodecimo. Original dun cloth, title gilt to spine, large gilt floral wreath to the centre of both boards contained within blind panelling, cream surface paper endpapers. A little rubbed, head and tail of the spine chipped, short split at the head of the upper joint, hinges a little cracked, light toning, but overall very good.