Lot 648: ALS in French, one page, 5 x 8, November 30, 1868. Letter to a gentleman. In full (translated): "I have received your eloquent letter and I hope you have received my contribution in response to it, although a 'sanitary cordon' seems to have been established around my island and I feel the mail service now looks somewhat like the Police. 'Facies non… una, non diversa tamen, qualem decet e sororom.' I send with this letter a new contribution to your cause. Will it reach you? The Republican committees of Spain have written to me, and I am now answering. The matter now is slavery. Be no subjects to a king and own no slaves. Have no king in Madrid and no negroes in Cuba." Irregular scattered spotting and staining, haloing to ink, and many areas of ink erosion to words and letters throughout, otherwise very good condition.While the literary angle of this letter is quite interesting—with Hugo interjecting a Latin quote from Ovid from memory, translating to 'Their faces were not all alike, nor yet unlike, but such as those of sisters ought to be'—the historical context is even more so. Spain was in the midst of two major political transitions, one regarding the monarchy and the second regarding colonial slavery. Less than two months before Hugo penned this letter, Isabella was ousted from her throne in the Glorious Revolution, leaving the country wavering between reestablishing a monarchy or creating a republic. The year prior, the slave trade had been abolished in Cuba—then a Spanish colony—but the practice of slavery itself still remained. On both of these issues Hugo took a firm and vocal political stand, in favor of the Spanish Republic and in support of the abolition of slavery in Cuba. Despite his activism, Spain ultimately remained a monarchy and slavery remained legal in Cuba until 1886 when it was abolished by royal decree. Fantastic historical content from the literary master and outspoken social activist.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 460
Wednesday, 16th September 2015
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