Lot 35: Original Handwritten Poem Ninth of April 1865 by Percy Greg, End of Civil War
Historic Autographs, Civil War Encased Postage Stamps, Colonial, Revolutionary War, Federal Era, Coins, Currency, Medals
December 10, 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
"Ninth of April 1865" Original Handwritten American Civil War Poem by Percy Greg
PERCY GREG (1836-1889), English Poet and Writer.
April 9, 1865-Dated Manuscript Poem authored and Signed by the noted English Writer, "Percy Greg" entitled, "Ninth of April 1865" Choice Crisp Extremely Fine. This Poem is headed, "Ninth of April 1865" and commemorates the end of the American Civil War on that date. Written by the English writer Percy Greg, and bearing his full signature upon the reverse side second page. A handwritten Manuscript Document, 2 pages, written upon a single sheet back-to-back, measuring 13" x 8" upon clean, crisp wove period paper watermarked with "Cranes All Linen." This historic original Poem reads, in full:
"Ninth of April, 1865"
"It is a nation's death-cry! Yes; the agony is past:
The stoutest race that ever fought to-day hath fought its last.
Ay: start and shudder; well thou mayst! well veil thy weeping eyes!
England, may God forgive thy part; Man cannot but despise.
Yes, shudder at that cry that speaks the South's supreme despair,
Thou that couldst save and savedst not; that wouldst and didst not dare!
Thou that hadst might to aid the right and heart to brook the wrong;
Weak words of comfort for the weak; strong hand to help the strong!
That land, the garden of thy wealth, one haggard waste appears,
The ashes of her sunny homes are slaked with patriot tears.
Tears for the slain who died in vain for freedom on the field;
Tears, tears of bitterer anguish still for those that live -- to yield.
The cannon of his country pealed Stuart's funeral knell;
Her soldiers' cheers rang in his ears as Stonewall Jackson fell.
Onward o'er gallant Ashby's grave swept War's triumphant tide,
And Southern hopes were living yet, when Polk and Morgan died.
But he, the leader on whose word those captains loved to wait,
The noblest, bravest, best of all, hath found a harder fate.
Unscathed by shot and steel he passed through many a desperate field;
O God, that he hath lived so long, and only lived -- to yield!
Along the war-worn wasted ranks that loved him to the last,
With saddened face and weary pace the vanquished chieftain passed.
Their own hard lot the men forgot; they felt what his must be;
What thoughts in that dark hour must wring the heart of General Lee.
The manly cheek with tears was wet, the stately head was bowed,
As breaking from their shattered ranks around his steed they crowd.
'I did my best for you:' 'twas all those quivering lips could say;
Ah, happy those whom death hath spared the anguish of to-day!
Weep on, Virginia! weep the lives given to thy cause in vain;
The sons who live to wear once more the Union's galling chain;
The homes whose light is quenched for aya; the graves without a stone;
The folded flag, the broken sword, the hope for ever flown.
Yet raise thy head, fair land! thy dead died bravely for the right;
The folded flag is stainless still, the broken sword is bright.
No blot is on thy record found; no treason soils thy fame:
Weep then thy dead: -- with covered head we mourn our England's shame!"
Percy Greg, like his father, wrote about politics, but his views were violently reactionary. His book, "History of the United States to the Reconstruction of the Union" (1887) can be said to be more of a polemic, rather than a history. His book "Across the Zodiac" (1880) is an early science fiction novel, said to be the progenitor of the sword-and-planet genre. For that novel, Greg created what may have been the first artistic language that was described with linguistic and grammatical terminology. It also contained what is possibly the first instance in the English language of the word "Astronaut".