[James Bertrand Payne, editor and author.] Three Autograph Letters Signed to H. Cholmondeley-Pennell, written around the time of his prosecution by the London publishers Edward Moxon & Co., and launch of his magazine 'The King of Arms'.

Author: 
James Bertrand Payne (1833-1898), editor, author and fraudster [Henry Cholmondeley-Pennell (1837-1915), poet and writer on angling]
Publication details: 
All three on letterheads of Tempsford House, the Grange, Brompton, S.W. [London] One from 1871 and two from 1873.
£400.00
SKU: 20859

The three letters are in good condition, lightly aged. All three signerd 'J Bertrand Payne'. The first has a letterhead in red, the other two have a different letterhead in blue. Both designs feature exuberant monograms and lettering in Victorian Gothic type, which, together with Payne's exuberant handwriting (the last letter also being written in purple ink), accurately reflect the character of the man Tennyson angrily dismissed as 'peacock Payne'. Three excellent letters, the background to which is of interest. The first was written when Payne was manager of the London publishing house Edward Moxon & Co., celebrated for their association with poets. In that same year Moxon's widow would take him to court for fraud, following the disastrous publication of an edition of Tennyson's 'Idylls of the King', illustrated by Gustav Doré, which was a major factor in the poet's leaving the firm with which he had long been associated. By the time the second letter was written Payne had been found guilty on appeal of the fraud; he was ruined, and would not be able to pay off his creditors until 1892. (See Jim Cheshire's article 'The Fall of the House of Moxon', Victorian Poetry, Spring 2012.) The third letter is written later in 1873, with Payne about to launch ('incognito', in order to avoid 'persecution') his magazine 'The King of Arms: A Journal of Family History, Art, Literature, and Fashion', which would only run for four numbers, from October 1873 to January 1874. ONE: 6 November 1871. 3pp., 12mo. Bifolium. The letter begins: 'The welcome sight of your colossal form, as you loomed thro' the fog the other Sabbath night set me thinking as to whether I might be of use to you in keeping your name well before the public as - | Ye Grave Troubadour | The result of my reflections was to lend my Copy of your “Crescent?” to my old friend the Chevalier de Chatelain [i.e. Ernest de Chatelain (1801-1881)] who is preparing the fourth & last volume of his metrical translations from the British Poets. He has done an exquisite translation of one of your smaller pieces, & desires, I believe, to insert two of your “Lays” in his work.' The letter continues in the same florid vein, with references to 'this meeting of British Apollos' and 'the Gallic Chevalier'. He ends in the hope that HCP is 'in the full Enjoyment of your Sybarite life'. TWO: 1 July 1873. 1p., 4to. Having been ruined by the court judgment, Payne is forced to appeal to charity, and he thanks HCP for 'writing a most excellent letter on my behalf to the R[oyal]. L[iterary]. F[und] – a kindness that I assure you I shall not easily forget.' Payne's wife is pregnant, and would appear to be estranged from him, as he writes that 'to add to my manifold troubles, this faithful partner of my woes is about to present me with another olive-branch – which I shall not fail to name Miseremus!' At the foot of the letter Payne has drawn a skull and crossbones, with the postscript: 'You have doubtless learned that Mors hath smitten down the “little Ishmaelite!”' THREE: 5 September 1873. 1p., 4to. Written in purple ink, but in a closer and more restrained hand than the other two letters. Regarding his forthcoming magazine 'The King of Arms', he states that he is sending HCP 'a prospectus of the new journal, in which you will see your very judicious hints have been duly observed'. He asks him to get his publisher 'to advertise “Puck et Socii” in the first number, which will come out on the 27th instant', as this will 'help to give the infant journal a hoist – and I do not think the advert would do you any harm as a notice of your last chef d'oeuvre will be the first of the literary critiques of the K. of A.' Payne's involvement in the journal is clearly being kept a secret, as he asks HCP to 'Guard […] the incognito of the journal, otherwise I might be further annoyed by the bestial canaille, & I want to pursue the even tenor of my way, just now, without notice, interruption, or persecution.' He ends by informing him that he will offer him as 'a commission' the writing of 'an exhaustive article on Sporting Guns. No one could do this better than yourself, or treat the subject more interestingly, so I count upon you.'