Raynors HCA 2019-05
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Absentee bidding for this session ends on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT.
The live portion of this session begins on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT
Philip Henry Stanhope, 4th Earl Stanhope (1781-1855) became interested in the story of a "foundling" (aka feral child) Kaspar Hauser who first in appeared in Nuremberg in 1828 and had become famous through his claim that he had been raised in isolation in a dark room and could tell nothing about his identity. Furthermore, Hauser was found with a cut wound in 1829 and claimed to have been attacked by a hooded man. This led to various rumors that he might be of princely parentage but also led to suspicions that he was an impostor. Stanhope first met Hauser in 1831 and soon felt a strong affection for the young man: indeed, their relationship could have had homoerotic undertones, as contemporary rumors suggested. He endowed him generously and paid for (unavailing) inquiries in Hungry to clarify the young man's origin, as the latter, in 1830, had claimed to remember some Slavic and Hungarian words which had led to speculations that he might originate from there. Hauser's custodian, Baron von Tucher, criticized Stanhope's pedagogically wrong behavior towards Hauser and retired from his custodianship. In December 1831, Stanhope became Hauser's foster-father and transferred him to the care of a schoolmaster. In January 1832, he returned to England from where he continued to communicate by letter with his fosterling and also with officials examining the case. Stanhope favored the theory that Hauser stemmed from Hungarian magnates but had to give up this idea when he was informed that further inquiries in Hungary had, once more, failed completely. In a letter to the Bavarian court Stanhope now clearly made known his doubts in Hauser's credibility. While he continued to pay for his fosterling's living expenses, he never made good on his promise that he would take him to England and his letters to Hauser became less affectionate. Hauser did realisz this change of mood. On 14 December 1833, Hauser came home with a deep wound in his chest and claimed to have been stabbed by a stranger. He died three days later. Although Stanhope had long stopped believing in Hauser's tales, he at first was of opinion that Hauser had indeed been murdered, a view he uttered in one of his letters (dated 28 December). In another letter from 7 January 1834, when he had received more information on what had happened, a change of mind announces itself: he would later advocate the position that Hauser himself had inflicted the wound by pressure, and that, after he had squeezed the point of the knife through his wadded coat, it had penetrated much deeper than he had intended. In his Tracts Relating to Caspar Hauser (1836, German original: 1835) Stanhope published all known evidence against Hauser: The more I was deceived in this affair, and the more erroneous were my views, the more is it now my duty to act with zeal, and, if it were in my power, with ability, to preserve others as far as possible from similar errors. Though I have on that account appeared in an unfavorable light to some of those who are known or unknown to me, though I have been abused and even calumniated, I find a sufficient consolation in my own conscience. Stanhope, indeed, was attacked by followers of Hauser, and even accused of contriving his death. They suggested that Hauser was a hereditary prince of Baden and was murdered for political reasons. Some professional historians (such as Ivo Striedinger) defended Lord Stanhope as a "seeker of truth" and as a deceived philanthropist who had realized his delusion. Anthropolgist Johannes Mayer, however, substantiated the accusations against Stanhope in a major biographical study of him and showed that he was in fact a British political agent working for the House of Baden against Kaspar Hauser. The letter, ca. March 1834, 3pp. 4to., written by D. S. Woster, [n. p., n. d.], to Robert Kennedy, reads in small part: "…Doc. Stanhope is here…he has a great deal to say about Caspar Hauser who, tho he does not suppose to have been an impostor…still thinks stabbed himself without the intention of committing suicide, but to make believe that an attempt had been made on his life in order to renew interest that the world had taken in him…which it appears was lately declining; as…you will see Lord Stanhope. I'l leave his Lordship to give you all the details. He is going to Mannheim merely for the purpose of communicating them to the grand Duchess…D. S. Woster." The original transmittal leaf remains attached with Stuttgart, Germany straight-line cancel. Overall VG.
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The Controversial World Story on The Suicide of A Feral Child.

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