Autograph Letter Signed, addressed to "Theodore Roosevelt Esq. | Chairman, etc." Henry James.
Autograph Letter Signed, addressed to "Theodore Roosevelt Esq. | Chairman, etc."
Autograph Letter Signed, addressed to "Theodore Roosevelt Esq. | Chairman, etc."
Autograph Letter Signed, addressed to "Theodore Roosevelt Esq. | Chairman, etc."
Autograph Letter Signed, addressed to "Theodore Roosevelt Esq. | Chairman, etc."
Autograph Letter Signed, addressed to "Theodore Roosevelt Esq. | Chairman, etc."

Autograph Letter Signed, addressed to "Theodore Roosevelt Esq. | Chairman, etc."

[an early anti-Catholic diatribe] "Cambridge (Mass), Jany 8, 1871." Seven pages of text, written on both sides of four 8-1/4" x 10-1/2" leaves (approx. 500 words). Signed "Henry James".

Written to Theodore Roosevelt Sr. (father of the president-to-be), when Henry James was 27 and four years before his first book would be published, this is a strongly anti-Roman Catholic diatribe -- written upon the occasion of declining an invitation to attend the January 12 American Celebration upon the Unification of Italy to be held at the Academy of Music in New York City, of which TRSr. was Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements. Four months earlier, with the capture of Rome and the final defeat of the Papal States under Pope Pius IX, King Victor Emmanuel II had achieved the final step of unification of the entire Italian peninsula.

While wishing the Celebration success, James points out that what he celebrates is the end of

the pretension of any rich body of men to constitute the Church of God, and authoritatively control the religious thought and life of the world... Now, by the unification of Italy, and the reduction of his [the pope's] temporal sway to a level, essentially, with that of the Archbishop of Canterbury, religion reenters into the domain of the private conscience...

Putting within quotation marks such phrases as "the faith" and papal "divine right," James expresses his disdain for the "cupidity" of the pope and the Roman Catholic religion -- culminating in a long sentence that invokes bestial imagery such as "feeble bow-wows," "drowsiest sheep-dogs," "the bleat of a sheep" and "the bray of a donkey" [complete transcription of the letter available upon request].

Invitees to this Celebration were probably asked to write something in response, whether or not they could attend -- for all of their responses were compiled in a 197-page book titled THE UNITY OF ITALY, published in 1871 by G.P. Putnam & Sons (a very good copy of which is included with this letter). Respondents include the Vice President Schuyler Colfax, the Secretaries of State and the Interior, nine senators and one representative (president-to-be James A Garfield), plus numerous other political, religious and literary figures of the day, such as John G. Whittier, R.W. Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, W.D. Howells, Richard H. Dana Jr. -- and Henry James, whose letter appears on pp 80-81.

As for condition, these four leaves are now in very good condition, archivally stabilized. The leaves were at some early stage glued together along their left margins, with an old animal-based glue -- quite likely by office clerks when the letters were received and transcribed for the book. Also, some of the extremely delicate leaves had split along the original folds. Now the four leaves are separated, though their left margins do bear a brownish stain of the earlier glue, and that edge plus some folds have been archivally and expertly (and reversibly) reinforced. There are a few pencil notations on the leaves, again probably effected by the clerk(s) who transcribed the letter for the 1871 book.

In all, a remarkable long, early, uninhibited letter from the man who would go on to become one of the great novelists of the English language. Item #14863

Price: $5,500.00

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