[Mary Cowden Clarke, writer, daughter of Vincent Novello.] Five Autograph Letters Signed to the pianist Clara Angela Macirone, sending news from Italy, on topics including music, the Risorgimento, the building of Villa Novello, Carlo Poerio.

Mary Cowden Clarke (1809-1898), daughter of Vincent Novello (1781-1861), and wife of Charles Cowden Clarke (1787-1877), writers and Shakespeare scholars [Clara Angela Macirone]
Publication details: 
Between 1856 and 1879. The first two (1856 and 1859) from Maison Quaglia, au Port, Nice, France; the last three (1864, 1876, 1879) from Villa Novello, Genoa, Italy.
SKU: 16286

Closely and neatly written on five bifoliums. Text totalling 14pp., 12mo. In fair condition, on aged and worn paper, with minor damage at head of third letter, and wear to extremities of the fourth. The first two letters (1856 and 1859) addressed formally, the third to 'Angela & Minnie', and the fourth and fifth to 'Angela'. She writes the first letter (1856) before her sister Clara's 'approaching visit to England', to thank Macirone for writing to express the pleasure she had received from Charles Cowden Clarke's sister's writing. She describes the praise of Macirone's character she has heard from her sister Clara, adding: 'Had I not learned, my dear Madam, from my sister Clara, that yours was of this character, I should have discovered it, upon hearing a certain charming "Lullaby" Song, which she sang to us here the other evening. It is delicious music - appealing direct to the heart; and I thank you for it cordially.' The tone of the second letter (1859) is far more intimate. It begins: 'Did your cheeks flush and tingle last night about ½ past 8 o'clock? I am persuaded that some such physical effect must have given you tangible evidence of what took place here at that hour; for I am a believer in sympathetic influences, especially where there is a strong artistic as well as affectionate affinity between the several parties concerned. Our dear Clara [her sister, Countess of Gigliucci] & her home circle joined ours last evening to spend it in family fashion together; and she, to crown my pleasure, not only gave me the elegant copy of your charming song sent me by you through her, but afforded me immediate opportunity of enjoying its beauties, by singing it for us. We one and all - after the few moments of rapt silence which were its best tribute - burst forth in admiration of its loveliness; and were unanimous in our expressions of delight at its freshness, its blithe geniality and impulse, so felicitously in harmony with the morning character of the subject. Dear Miss Macirone, pray accept our combined warmest thanks for your exquisite composition; and believe that mine, in particular, are strong with grateful as well as admiring feeling.' The rest of the letter contains references to Macirone's sojourn in Brittany, Clarke's sister Cecilia, and praise of the Italians and their king Victor Emanuel: 'the noble conduct of this glorious people through their late struggle, - the armed contest being perhaps its least arduous portion'. Her brother Alfred [Joseph Alfred Novello (1810-1896), music publisher] and sister Sabilla have made the acquaintance of Baron Poerio [Carlo Poerio (1803-1867), Italian patriot] in Turin, and 'it is heart-cheering to gather from their accounts the beautiful simplicity of character and indomptable [sic] moral bravery which he has preserved unimpaired through his years of trial in a cruel captivity'. Topics of the third letter (1864) include: her brother Alfred's 'sharp attack', and his travelling with Sabilla to Turin on 'Bessemer business' (J. A. Novello was a friend of the inventor Sir Henry Bessemer (1813-1898)); her husband's good health; plans for a return to England; Macirone's 'little Rose & her mother'; 'Fechter's brilliant "Bel Demonio" as described by you'; Macirone's plans to have her 'glees brought out at Dean Street' ('Mr. Littleton is so pleasant to deal with, & much an excellent man of business'); her 'Messages to Colonel Pasotti'; Madame Osella; Mrs Davy; Madame Beati; 'Little Kita'. The progress of the decoration of 'the house', Villa Novello, is described vividly: 'The marble & gilded table for the Alcove room is come home; the curtains are chosen, the damask silk hanging for the recess is partly put up, & the sofas are ordered. The sconces are hung, & look very pretty, bright & graceful in design; the painting of the Hall & staircase is finished, & Sigr. Boccardo has succeeded in his introduction of a few of the figures from Raffaelle's "Hours", wh. Alfred wished painted in certain of the panels. The levellings & pathways in the front ground of La Cava are progressing well, while the Croquet ground, the pathways, new trellices, and lowered walls with light railing, in the East Villa Novello, are making visible advance.' She continues with a description of her brother's plans for 'the approach between Villa N. proper & Villa N. East'. In the fourth letter (1876) she writes regarding her two nieces, Portia and Valeria Gigliucci, and Macirone's gift of her piece 'Unchanging Heart', which 'arrived this morning just in time for our darling Portia to play it & sing it for us before she & her sister Valeria left on their return to join their Parents again'. She also discusses the 'feverish attacks & swelled throat' of her sister Sabilla; her husband's illness ('he feels the fatigue of walking even a few steps'). 'Oh, if you cd. have been with me a few minutes ago to witness my lonely feeling as I looked at the left lunch-table, [...] There were the patera-vases heaped with fresh camellias that our dear girls had arranged for us the last thing ere they went, to deck our meal-table [...] & there were the just-vacated seats around the table, mocking me with these tokens of departed presence.' In a postscript she refers her to the publication in the Gentleman's Magazine of 'Recollection of Writers'. The last letter (1879) is written two years after the death of Mary Cowden Clarke's husband, and has a mourning border. It begins: 'My dear Angela | Bearing in mind your often expressed loving admiration for my beloved Husband, I think you will be interested to see the enclosed Prospectus [not present] of the last Shakespearian work he & I wrote happily together; especially as he had greatly at heart that it should be published.' She informs her that the 'Recollections of Writers' were 'brought out last Autumn in collected book-form', before enquiring: 'Do you still see Mrs. Charles Dickens? There is a passage in that volume at Page 320 [regarding a visit to Scotland with the Dickenses], which it would give me extreme pleasure to know had met her eye. | Remembering your kind wish for more verses of mine to set to your lovely music, I send you a couple of stanzas that came into my head a short time since, which I fancy might strike you as suited for a tender little Song'. The letter ends with the best wishes of her family.