Poems before Congress …

London: Chapman and Hall … 1860.

8vo., pp. [2], viii, [2], 65, [3], with initial blank and terminal advertisement leaf; a very good copy in the original red cloth, slightly shaken, spine rubbed.


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First edition of a slender collection of seven poems on the cause of Italian independence, and one attacking slavery in the United States (‘A Curse for a Nation’). The Congress of the title had been planned for Paris in January 1860, but Austria withdrew on learning that Napoleon III meant to use the occasion to advocate limiting the Pope’s territory, and it was indefinitely postponed. Elizabeth knew that she ran the risk – realized in hostile reviews – of being called unpatriotic for condemning England’s failure to intervene in the Italian cause, but she loved ‘truth and justice’ more than narrow nationalism. ‘Let us put away the little Pedlingtonism unworthy of a great nation, and too prevalent among us … I dream of the day when an English statesman shall arise with a heart too large for England …’ (Preface). Barnes A12.

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