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    Harriet Beecher Stowe essay about the Second Italian War for Independence

    Harriet Beecher Stowe Autograph Manuscript Signed "HB Stowe". Eight pages on two bifolium, folded to 5.25" x 8.25". Marked at top "Letter 21 / For the Independent / Milan Oct 23, [1859]." Already an established and influential writer for the abolitionist cause, in 1859 Stowe wrote a series of travel journals in the form of letters from abroad for the Independent, a weekly paper in Boston. This would be her third trip to Europe, she arrived in the late summer of 1859, just weeks after the close of the Second Italian War of Independence. The manuscript we offer is a working draft of one of the "letters" she mailed home to be printed in the Independent. Her words try to reconcile the beauty of the land with the horrors that must have occurred there, and are eerily prescient of the American Civil War, which would begin less than two years later:

    "The country here seems to be a ---- level region planted with vines & Mulberry trees and bounded in the horizon by the distance snow crested chain of the Italian Alps. The day was clear & soft just like one of our own American golden October days... We were told that some of the severest fighting was done immediately on the railroad track and about the station but all traces have been so diligently effaced that we could scarcely realize the fact of so much recent horror & bloodshed on that peaceful matter of fact spot.

    Only some mournful mounds cover the daffodils where the dead were buried tell the mournful story. From At the moment we landed at the station the fence was all lined with black eyed pale faced Italian boys holding out in their little dirty hands various relics of the field. A large car opposite was full of French soldiers in their blue sundries and red caps looking out on the scene and grinning at the two headed Austrian eagles & other like trophies...

    On the walls of the church was a picture, such as one often sees in the outside of Italian churches, but which as is met the eye is the fearful scenes of that day must have had an [illegible] appropriateness . it represented Death, a ghastly skeleton bearing aloft a singed hour glass in one hand, & a scythe in the other, while at his feet were lying the crown & scepter of the king the heart of the soldier... Behind a thicket as we passed a little beyond the church our Italian guide told us two Austrian officers & their horses were buried. Poor fellows. Was it their fault to be born Austrians?"

    The thin blue paper has a single tear on the first page, with no paper loss. The letter has been hinged along the left margin to a large album sheet. From the Judith Kaplan Women's History Collection.



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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
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