(KEMBLE, Fanny.) LEIGH, [Chandos], Lord.
Poems, now first collected.
First edition. Presentation inscription to the front free endpaper; “To Mrs. [Fanny] Kemble with Leigh’s kind regards. 15th January 1872.” Inscribed to the great actress by her son-in-law. Bookplate of Butler Place, the suburban Philadelphia home of Kemble and her husband Pierce Butler, which passed to her as part of the settlement of their 1863 divorce. Fanny Kemble, the British-born actress, settled in America following a “triumphal tour”. Despite her abolitionist sentiments, she married the plantation-owning Butler, and after a brief visit to his estates in Georgia wrote Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation, considered to be the best portrayal of plantation life by a writer of abolitionist sentiment. Lord Leigh, poet and literary patron, friend and admirer of Lord Byron, was the father of Canon James Wentworth Leigh who married Fanny and Pierce’s younger daughter Frances Butler Leigh in June 1871. Lord Leigh, like Kemble, strongly opposed slavery. His poetry was not widely known but was “much prized by the scholarly few”, his “early verse is mildly libertine, the later mildly pious. The principal work is a sequence of verse epistles addressed ‘to a friend in town’ arguing liberal positions on the aesthetic and economic questions of the day. Byron was ever the point of departure… Chandos Leigh thought and lived as a more civilized Byron might have done.” (ODNB) In his preface Leigh remarks, “Surely every real friend of freedom… fervently hopes for the abolition of slavery in America.” Further, in the poem “America,” he writes “thus where each citizen is deem’d the heir/Of liberty plague-spots of slavery come:/Nature has never written in her tome/That colour gives monopoly to ‘whites’/Of freedom…” In his annotations to the poem he quotes extensively from Chevalier and Tocqueville whose recent works inform this poem. His son began holding services for freed slaves on Pierce Butler’s estate in 1873, and through the efforts of both he and his wife a church was built “for the Colored People of McIntosh County,” St. Cyprian’s at Darien, Georgia, which was consecrated in 1876, and still stands today, Clearly this book, in its delicate presentation binding, was intended by Leigh as an affectionate tribute to his son’s new mother-in-law, a fellow author whose liberal sentiments he much admired. An extremely attractive association.
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Octavo (161 100 mm). Brown morocco-textured skiver presentation binding, title gilt to spine which is gilt in compartments, ornate gilt panelling surrounding large gilt urn device to both boards, all edges gilt, neatly rebacked with the greater part of the original spine laid down. A little rubbed at the extremities, light toning, but overall very good.