Emanuel von Baeyer

A group of five autograph letters

Samuel Palmer RWS Hon. RE
1805 London – 1881 Redhill

Signed, Samuel Palmer or 'S. Palmer', Furze Hill House, Redhill, Surrey, 1867/1881. A total of 17 pages. 8vo.

Literature:        R. Lister, The Letters of Samuel Palmer, volume 2 (1974), p.1055 (the only letter published dated 27 January 1881).

                         All others are unpublished.

Provenance:    The Richmond family, by descent.

Highly important group of letters spanning fourteen years, all to his friend the artist George Richmond (1809–1896).

In the first, dated 25 June 1867, Samuel gives his congratulations on Richmond’s Oxford diploma: ‘may you live long to enjoy this and other distinctions, past and to come. Dr Acland most kindly asked me to come there and witness the ceremony but we were engaged and unable to do so...’.

The second, dated 28 May 1880, refers to the death of John Giles, beginning ‘I should have flown to see my dear Cousin ere it was too late, but am not allowed even to go outside the doors of my house into the garden, much less to travel: an infirmity which is bitter indeed on such an occasion as this’, continuing later, ‘I shall perhaps remember things which I should have liked to have said. I could have wished to have sent dear John my last love in this world, and for him to know that I should ere this, have been by his bed-side had my own health rendered it possible...’.

The third letter, dated 30 May 1880, thanks Richmond for his consolations: ‘...while unable in person to bid farewell after almost a brotherhood of 60 years, and I do hope you will see travelling was impossible, after having been confined since last autumn to the present moment, literally to two rooms, having not ventured even into the garden...’.

The fourth, dated 1 June 1880, continues with the same theme of the loss of their friend John.

The last letter, dated 27 January 1881, thanks Richmond for the precious relics ‘sacred to love and friendship!’, referring to Bishop Andrew and Bishop Utterton, and Pascal, commenting that John’s photograph is the best version he ever saw. He ends: ‘Thus is touched a train of early associations, but at present it will be enough to hope that you do not lean away from any alleviations which may present themselves under this great sorrow, and as in no small measure a fellow sufferer, again to assure you of the sympathy of, yours ever affectionately, Samuel Palmer.’

The ‘John’ referred to in these letters is John Giles (1810–1880), a stockbroker and George Rich- mond’s closest friend. He was a deeply religious man and had a great admiration for what he termed ‘the grandeur and the superior wisdom of the Ancients’. It was this constant reference to the ‘Ancients’ which resulted in the group of friends–including George Richmond and Samuel Palmer – being referred to by that name.

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