A strange, lyrical manuscript that celebrates the spiritual, the mystical and the beautiful. Oblong, 25.5 by 37 cm. 49 pages with content, many of which are illustrated with watercolors, until the last few unfinished pages which have illustrations sketched in pencil. 21 pages have watercolors (not counting painted letters). Two pages have finished, well-executed pen-and-ink drawings. (Followed by blank leaves, constituting half of the album.) John de Kay (1872-1938) was an American entrepreneur, millionaire, author, and eccentric. With earnings from publishing ventures he invested in the Mexican meatpacking business, becoming in the process the "Sausage King of Mexico". By 1909 his meatpacking business in Mexico had a book value of $22 million, which translates to about $500 million in today's dollars, although he sold his interest in the business to the Mexican government five years later for just $5 million (still over $100 million in today's dollars). With his fortune he produced his own play, "Judas", on Broadway, with no less a star than Sarah Bernhardt as Mary Magdalen. The play, with its depiction of a vampish heroine, was shut down by the police after its opening night. (It was also banned in Boston and Philadelphia.) De Kay, reportedly infatuated with Bernhardt, showered jewelry and other gifts on her. De Kay went on to pen many other works on a wide range of topics, including women's rights, the labor movement, Mexico, and world peace, as well as at least one work of poetry. As a man of great wealth, de Kay owned substantial properties in both France and England, as well as having a lavish apartment in New York. We have not been able to discover anything about the presumed illustrator (credited in pencil on the cut out back of the FEP), Winifred Elliot, whose enchanting work is to us the glory of this manuscript. As far as the manuscript, this is an anthology of disparate pieces, including poetry, prose meditations and apercus, some of which might be rightly deemed ruminative essays, except the organization tends to be somewhat discursive, and the purpose is not so much the setting forth of an argument as much as the gathering of loosely linked insights and observations. The writing style can be epigrammatic but also pompous and pretentious, perhaps deliberately so, as the tone desired would seem at times to be biblical and prophetic. Topics include the law of beauty, the soul, on being, etc. In one essay entitled "On Civilization", de Kay appears to propound rather radical notions. He writes, for instance: "The individual is not to expect any help from a Government so long as that Government is organized upon the theory that it is right that a few men may claim the ownership of the earth. . . " If we wish to flatter de Kay, we could say some of his writing prefigures that of Kahlil Gibran. On the other hand, it shares some kinship with the fusty belletrists of the Late Victorian period as well. However one might assess the writing on its own, we would maintain it has merit in how it complements the artwork, which it deserves credit for having inspired. The artwork generally has a strong affinity to the pre-Raphaelite style. Here are opulent floral borders, seraphs aplenty, Medievalist historicism, and fantasy. We especially like a page which abounds with butterflies, painted with magnificent detail. Condition: Rebacked with matching navy morocco, with most of original spine re-mounted but loss of everything from lowest raised band to below from the original spine. Considerable amount of rubbing of leather along edges, with a few minor abrasions to leather elsewhere. One shallow but wide ding on rear upper edge. Silk moire endpapers suffering some edge tattering. The FEP is deliberately scooped out, neatly so by edge of turn-ins, to reveal on back pencilled information about the book. (We have relied on this information for the title, and also as solidifying the attribution and dating.) The pages have light edge toning and an occasional stray mark or smudge.