At the marriage of Robert Trevelyan and Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven?
At the marriage of Robert Trevelyan and Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven?
Welcombe, Stratford on Avon. - Sorry to hear from Bessie this morning that her aunt was unwell; hopes she has now recovered. Bessie seems well, and they have had a good time at Welcombe; they go tomorrow to Dorking and on Monday to Dorking. She and his parents and brothers are now 'great friends'. Encloses a letter [13/36] from Sir Henry Howard [British ambassador to the Netherlands] saying that [Henry] Turing [British consul at Rotterdam] will come to the Hague for the wedding. Has spoken to his father, who will consult an English lawyer, on the points discussed with Hubrecht. Will see an oculist when he is in London on Monday; the spectacles can be sent if they are not ready when Bessie leaves; will also pay Luzac's bill. Asks to be remembered to Hubrecht's wife and Louisa; his parents send their regards.
The Mill House, Westcott, Dorking. - Glad to hear Hubrecht's wife has been outside and hopes to find her 'really better' when he comes over in May. Bessie has told him Hubrecht does not object to Whitweek for the wedding; this will be best for Robert's parents and brothers who all intend to come; doubts if anyone else from England will come; Hubrecht and Bessie should decide on the exact date. This will depend on when the Rotterdam consul [Henry Turing] can come; asks whether it would be best for him or Hubrecht to write about that, or should he ask Sir Henry Howard to do so? Bessie says they will probably need another witness; remembers Hubrecht said that if the consul were Dutch he might do, or he would have no objection to [Abraham] Bredius or any other friend of Hubrecht. If it is necessary to have an affidavit indicating his parents' consent this will be arranged. Has seen his birth certificate; the settlement is being drawn up at the lawyers. Very glad his parents are coming. Will write soon to Sir Henry Howard to let him know the date. Will come over as soon as Bessie wants him to. Bessie made all his family 'very fond of her' when she visited, and his friends who met her also liked her very much.
Wallington, Cambo, Northumberland. - He and his wife appreciate the feelings Hubrecht and his wife have about the future of Miss [Elizabeth] van der Hoeven, who has written to his wife. Hopes and believes that the marriage will make both young people happy, and will reward the Hubrechts for their 'kindness and affection towards [their] niece'. Looks forward to meeting them. Has himself five times been to the Netherlands as a tourist, visited the scene of William [the Silent?]'s death at Delft, and 'read the whole of [John] Motley's "Dutch Republic' on Dutch soil'. Glad that the proposals satisfy Hubrecht; brings up the point of what Robert's position would be after his and Caroline's death, when he will be 'independent and at ease'; suggests that as well as the settlement on Robert's wife and children already discussed, he and Caroline should covenant to pay him personally eight hundred pounds a year until then. Regarding the settlement itself, expects Hubrecht knows what an 'exceptional institution... the Equitable Mutual is" Would be glad to know what Miss van der Hoeven's 'personal circumstances' are. Asks in a postscript if the Hubrechts consider the marriage 'sufficiently fixed' to make it known; on their side it is so.
Wallington, Cambo, Northumberland. - He and his wife are very anxious about Madame Hubrecht's health, about which Elizabeth gives them regular news. The young couple seen 'exceedingly happy in their home', having spent part of the summer at Wallington. In January he and his wife are going to Sicily, then to Rome, returning to England at Easter as they feel they should have 'two or three months in London as a sort of duty'. The General Election was 'disastrous to the Liberal party' and he thinks 'not creditable to the country or the Government'. Asks to be remembered to Hubrecht's wife and daughter [Marie?], and son [Ambrosius] when he next sees him.
Wallington, Cambo, Northumberland. - Hopes that Hubrecht's wife is much better and not 'overdone' by the trouble which a marriage inevitably brings. He and his wife are looking forward to their visit; they intend to come straight from London to the Hague on the 1 June and to keep their rooms at the "Oude Doelen" hotel throughout their stay even if they make any excursions. His wife will write to Elizabeth about the hotel nearer the time. Has read the marriage contract and will show it to his lawyer in London next week; will then instruct him to arrange the settlement of the Equitable [and Mutual] Insurance and the allowance to Robert.
8 Grosvenor Crescent, S.W. - He and his wife wish to leave the question of whether there should be a religious ceremony for Robert and Elizabeth's marriage to Hubrecht and his wife. They 'quite sympathise' with the desire for the marriage party to be 'quiet and familar', as their own wedding was the same; will not ask Hubrecht to invite any of their relations from England but will come alone with Robert's two brothers and ask if an apartment could be reserved at the hotel for them; will arrange about rooms for the servants themselves. They have no relations in the Netherlands but Sir Henry Howard; the connection between his family and theirs has been 'so old and honourable', and he has shown such marked recent kindness, that Sir George wishes him and his wife to invited to the luncheon. Has written a separate note [13/48] about the papers he is sending for Hubrecht's inspection; will have them immediately engrossed for Robert to sign once they come back from the Netherlands.
8 Grosvenor Crescent, S.W. - He and his wife had a good crossing after Hubrecht kindly saw them off, and return with 'pleasant recollections' of the 'kindness and cordiality' they met with in Holland. They hope that Hubrecht's wife has not suffered from 'all the movement, and the trial to her feelings'. Asks to be remembered to Hubrecht's daughter [Marie] and to the Comte and Comtess de Grammont [? Alphonse Grandmont and his wife Bramine Hubrecht?] if they are still there. Asked his lawyer today to get certified copies of the two documents [relating to a settlement and covenant made on Robert and Elizabeth Trevelyan's marriage], which is 'quite a recognised proceeding'; will take some time, as the documents must be stamped by the Inland Revenue. The 'filling up of the blank is a trifle'; explains that this clause is in Robert's favour rather than their own.
Wallington, Cambo, Northumberland. - Originally enclosing the 'attested copies of the two documents' [relating to a settlement and covenant made on Robert and Elizabeth Trevelyan's marriage]; the stamp duties have now been paid. They have had happy letters from the young people, and are much looking forward to their visit this summer. His wife has had a letter from Miss [Marie] Hubrecht, and is glad to hear Madame Hubrecht's health is improved. He is hard at work and they are leading a 'quiet, rustic life'.
Wallington, Cambo, Northumberland. - Thanks Hubrecht for the copies of the marriage deed and inventory. Much relieved to hear that Madame Hubrecht is recovering though could wish she were doing so more quickly. Sorry not to have been in London during Hubrecht's grandson [Jan Bastiaan]'s visit; glad he will see Cambridge, 'which he is so fitted to appreciate'.
Hotel de la Poste, Bruxelles - Does not know how to thank her for her 'extraordinarily kind letter' which arrived yesterday. She will have seen his last letter to his father, acknowledging that he did wrong in not consulting them before proposing [to Elizabeth]; thinks though that everything will be for the best. Is here for two days, as he and Elizabeth's uncle agreed it would be good for him to go away for a little while after 'this last somewhat eventful and in some ways anxious week'; will return to the Hague on Thursday, and there is plenty to see. Thinks Elizabeth's uncle sanctions the engagement; unlikely the wedding could take place before the summer, as Elizabeth wants to spend more time with the Hubrechts; she also wants the Grandmonts to be there, and they do not generally return from Sicily till May or June. Expects he will soon go on to Italy. Will send a photo of Elizabeth when he returns to the Hague; his mother 'must not expect a beauty', though he finds her looks 'anything but disagreeable'. Thinks she will be able to 'look after [him] properly' as she is 'prudent and orderly, and in many ways thoroughly Dutch'; glad that her intellect is 'neither particularly poetical, nor romantic' and she has 'quite enough imagination and insight to understand anything' he might want; she has good taste for art, literature, and other things 'for a woman', and tends to be 'reflective and critical, rather than positive or creative'; she is of course 'a Protestant, at least not a Catholic'. Thinks he wrote that she knows the Nicholsons, 'by which I meant the Donaldsons of St Andrews' [James Donaldson and family?]. Has told no-one apart from the Frys [Roger and Helen] about his engagement, and will not do so until everything is settled between his father and Mr Hubrecht.
10 Prinsegracht, The Hague. - Is writing to the relations and friends his mother mentions, and to some others; cannot therefore write for long to her, as he has to participate in some formal calls by Bessies's friends and relations this afternoon. Encloses the photograph of Bessie, which is not a good one but the best they have at the moment. All is well, which owes much to her and his father's 'extreme kindness'. Must leave for Milan next Thursday to catch the Frys [Roger and Helen] there. Kind suggestion that Bessie should visit England in the Spring; wonders if his parents will be in London or Welcombe around March, or she could come to Wallington; her uncle and aunt would certainly not object. His mother said he might find her advice 'a bore'; in fact he thought it 'very good', and will try to keep to it. Asks if she could send photographs of herself and his father to the Hubrechts; they will send theirs soon. Paid a visit to Amsterdam yesterday and saw Bessie's sister Mrs Röntgen, who is 'much pleased' with the engagement; they are very nice and he expects his mother will meet them at some point. Sends thanks to his father for his letter in a postscript; will reply soon; Bessie liked his mother's to her very much. Postscript in pencil adds that the photograph of Bessie is not good enough so they will not send it, she may perhaps get a new one done.
10 Prinsegracht, the Hague. - Will be glad to come to Welcombe at the time Caroline suggest; will write with a more exact date. Does not know that part of the country, but has heard 'many nice things' from a friend who visited the neighbourhood. Will cross early in February; Robert will be back by then and has promised to meet her and help her in London. Kind of Caroline to say she can spend the night at the Trevelyans' London house, but it may be best for her to travel straight on to Stratford; this can be settled later.
10 Prinsegracht, the Hague. - Is sending two recent photographs of herself; she wears spectacles all the time as she is 'so horribly short sighted' so that one is probably most like, though her uncle and aunt say both are good likenesses. Also is sending one taken at Taormina last spring as it shows her 'beloved & constant companion and attribute', her violin; Robert wanted to send that photograph earlier but 'it was judged to be such a poor photograph' he was not allowed, she hopes that with the others it will be acceptable. Has good news from Robert at Ravello, who seems happy to be working there again despite the bad weather. Wishes Caroline and Sir George happy Christmas and New Year; looks forward to meeting them soon.
3, Hare Court, Inner Temple. - Writes to say how much he enjoyed his visit to Ede; thinks that either the Dutch must be 'a very hospitable race' or their family must be 'exceptional', as he is sure 'foreigners do not so easily fall into... English ways' as he did into theirs. Hopes to see them before long in their new home. Had a good time at Amsterdam and a 'delightful expedition to North Holland with Paul [Hubrecht], though his crossing back to England was 'horrible'. Had a 'drive in the Jews town at Amsterdam with the Röntgens' which he will 'never forget'; it 'did one's soul good to see so many charming people enjoying existence together' with what seemed like no other 'help to pleasure' than sitting in the open air with each other. Is going to Dorking tomorrow to see if they are paining his house 'the right colour'. Asks to be remembered to her husband and to Mrs Grandmont.
The Mill House, Westcott, Dorking. - Apologises for not writing sooner; never managed to write when he had so much spare time at Wallington, and now he has returned and begun work 'can easily find time'. Bessie may not yet think the house perfect, but it is 'already far more beautiful and comfortable' than he ever thought a house of his could be; she gets on very well with the housekeeper [Mrs Enticknap] and he can hear them talking at the moment; sometimes after they have had long talks there are 'such wonderful vegetables for dinner, cooked in some delightful out-landish fashions'. Even the vegetables at Wallington improved, 'especially the carrots and peas'. Bessie has been translating her "Nederlandsch Volksliederenboek" for him; some are very pretty, and he would one day like to translate them himself; he has not yet translated [Joost van den] Vondel. Hopes she, her husband, and the others will like [Thomas Love] Peacock's stories; some of the allusions to 'contemporary literary or political ideas which are now almost forgotten' may be difficult, but he thinks they will find them amusing; rememberes that the best are "Headlong Hall", "Nightmare Abbey" about Shelley, and perhaps "Maid Marian". Bessie has sent Bramine "Emma" by Jane Austen; sure she would also like that. Sorry she is not quite well, and hopes she will recover before winter. Very sad that Tuttie [Marie Hubrecht] is so unwell; hopes she will be able to get to Switzerland soon. Glad that the Grandmonts may build a house in the country; remembers the country by Doorn as being very pretty. He and Bessie went to Haslemere last Friday to visit the Joachims and some other friends and enjoyed it very much; was his first meeting with 'old Mr [Joseph] Joachim'; went for a walk with young Harold and visited his 'old haunts' like his old house Roundhurst, while Bessie stayed at home and talked. Hears that Bramine is painting Maria's portrait in the lace dress she wore at Elizabeth and Robert's wedding, which he so much liked; asks to be remembered to the family. Herbert Jones is getting married tomorrow, and they will send a telegram.
Seatoller, Borrowdale, Keswick. - Is sending this with B[essie]'s letter to say what a pleasant time they are having; Bessie is well, better than at Haslemere where it was 'so hot and thundery'; the countryside is beautiful and they both like it very much. Very sorry to hear Maria is still not well; hopes the warm weather will help. No-one else here 'except a few Cambridge men who are going to chase each other over the hills in a day or two' [the Man Hunt]; they are quiet and do not interfere. He and Bessie are just going for a walk after lunch. She is trying to make him pronounce 'Mrs Hansje Knipperdolletje', which she says is her name now; he finds it very difficult.
Trinity College, Cambridge. - Very sorry to hear that Mrs Hubrecht is so ill, which must be a great distress to her. Is coming round to Elizabeth and Bob's view of the origin of the [Second Boer] war, 'taught by the odious follies and horrors of the last 3 months'; having never been a 'very strong Imperialist', he is now 'ashamed of having gone even as far as [he] did'. Everyone he meets 'capable of thought and feeling' is 'undergoing much the same chance', but these are 'not a large proportion of mankind' and he does not see any prospect of a reaction in the near future.
Florence. - She and her husband have often thought and talked about Trevelyan since he left them, wondering what the future will hold; they 'must leave that to dear Bessie'. Things will be hard for them both now: Bessie will be in 'isolation' at home, as she will not be able to discuss this matter with Bramine's parents or sister unless she is 'absolutely clear in her own mind - it would be mental torture'. The 'terrible business of the [Second Boer] war' will also make an impression on her, feeling as she already does so strongly 'the wrench which marriage with a foreigner would be'. The worst thing about the war is 'the hypocracy [sic] with which all the English statesmen seem to be saturated', preparing for six months while giving the Boers the 'illusion' that an agreement could be made; and then there are speeches like that of Balfour and 'other so called honourable and religious gentleman'. Meanwhile, Harcourt 'protests, but will vote for the money [further military funding]! Is there then no generous mind left?' Are the English so much come down since Lord Chatham?'. In Chatham's day, however, the war was 'against men of the same race' rather than 'those stupid Boers, who live according to their antiquated notions derived from the old testament'; is 'bitter, very bitter, against the wicked Government', however much she likes Trevelyan, whom she calls 'my dear fellow'. As for Queen Victoria, 'one sees how, by being a sort of machine all one's life, one becomes one really at last'; wonders why she did not appeal to the nation; also criticises the other rules who sent ambassadors to the peace conference and 'do not move an inch to help against war', it is a sign of how low the 'moral standard' everywhere seems to be. In time the world will be 'one big Exchange' with no poetry, and nothing mattering but money and greed.
Returns to the letter after several days, now in Rome; meanwhile the British Parliament, apart for a few Irish representatives, have voted funds for the war; cannot understand the Whigs. She cannot sleep at night, and having 'loved the English so', nearly hates them now; cannot write to Bessie about Trevelyan, and in her place 'could never consent to give up my birthright of Dutchwoman, to become a subject of that wicked mecreant [sic] the prince of Wales', who 'sells his soul and that of his subjects for the gold of Africa' and will not even go out to fight himself. Has just received a letter from Bessie, which says Trevelyan is going to see her; prays that if he wins her love his influence may 'widen and deepen her love for all beings and things'. Feels 'very responsible in this matter', since it was she who brought them together, and Bessie is 'half sister, half child, exceedingly dear'. Would be 'dreadful if she became tainted by what seems... the national vice of the English = selfdeceiving egotism, overbearingness, hypocrisy' which they call 'commonsense'. Begs his pardon for speaking so openly, which she does as she knows he has 'width of mind enough to shake off all chauvinistic feeling'; perhaps he does not think the opposition should have refused the funds or resigned.
Prinsegracht 10, 's Gravenhage. - Encloses a 'project' of Robert's marriage contract; is also sending one to Robert's 'dear father'. It comes from the advice and work of their family notary, M. Eikendal, and Hubrecht's friend Vlielander Hein the 'first lawyer at our Supreme Court', as well as his own after consultation with M. [Thomas] Barclay in Paris, whom Lord Reay recommended as 'the best authority on international law'. According to Dutch law, the contract must be made before the marriage and is 'considered to be irrevocable'. They could not make out how a particular English law should be referred to, so Robert should ask his lawyer for the correct wording. Hopes to hear from Robert next week so that everything may be addressed when he comes to the Hague at the beginning of May. He should not stay in England longer than necessary: time is 'running so hastily', and it will be good to see him and Elizabeth together for as long as possible. She went this morning to Almelo, and will return next Wednesday. His wife's health is now improving daily, and the sunshine is 'brilliant', a 'delicious omen' for Robert and Elizabeth's marriage.
His father [Paul François Hubrecht] has asked him to act as master of ceremonies. Remembers the 'veneration' he felt as a boy for his father's young unmarried sister [Hermina], 'not so very [underlined] many years' older than he was himself; he happened to be present on her first meeting with his mother's cousin [Jan des Amorie van der Hoeven], and the marriage followed soon afterwards. Spent 'many pleasant hours' when a student in Utrecht of 'that uncle and aunt whom we cherished so dearly', and 'what fun' they often had, which [Mien] Röntgen and Elizabeth Trevelyan missed as they were then 'babies in cradles or babies in arms'. When these babies, as young girls, had 'the great misfortune' to lose both parents, it was 'the most natural thing in the world' that they should be looked after by his own family, and soon were considered by his two sisters and himself 'an absolutely integral part of our parental home'.
Did not then know that their home would be 'subjected to predatory raids made upon it by the most diverse foreign nations'. His dear brother [in-law] Alphonse [Grandmont], a 'staunch Belgian', has taken his elder sister [Bramine] 'not only across the border, but as far as the extreme south of Italy'; they are said to have a 'charming villa' there, which he is sorry he has never seen 'in the groves of which many nationalities meet and do not always seem to regret it' [a reference to the bride and groom's first meeting]. Mien was 'abducted not so very long ago by a fair haired Saxon' [Julius Röntgen] whose name 'already celebrated by his own achievements, has travelled all over the world on the all-penetrating rays of his cousin' [Wilhelm Röntgen, discoverer of X- or Röntgen rays]. Fortunately, he did not take her to Leipzig and they remain in Amsterdam. Now their 'youngest little sister' Bessie has also decided to 'throw in her lot' with a foreigner. Sure however that her husband will soon become one of them, as the other two have. Robert and Elizabeth already know, and Ambrosius hopes his parents and brothers 'whose presence on this occasion is such an inestimable pleasure' will also have realised in the last few days, that their sadness at Bessie leaving is 'far outweighed by the joy' that her husband 'has become so very dear' to them 'on his own account', especially to Ambrosius's mother; he jokes that he even feels a 'little jealous'. Therefore it is a 'case of international brotherhood' dictating his toast to the health of the bride and groom: 'may their union... coincide with a period of peace and good will among nations'.
Hôtel de la Poste , 30-32 Rue Fossé-aux-Loups, Bruxelles. - Is sending this 'short note' along with Bessie's letter. Everything has gone very well so far; though Bessie is still rather tired, she has been less so than he expected. They start their journey again this evening. They had a quiet morning, just spending a couple of hours at the Gallery; Bessie has slept a little this afternoon and he therefor hopes she will be all right after the journey. Hopes Aunt [Maria] is no worse for yesterday [Robert and Bessie's wedding day]; is 'anxious to hear how she is'; for the newly-weds, 'the day went off in the most completely satisfactory manner'. Even though he is himself 'no lover of ceremonial days', as they know, he enjoyed it all and could see others did too; thanks them for their 'splendid foresight and arrangement'. Robert and Bessie saw Paul and Jan [Hubrecht] and Robert's brothers at the station. Bessie is a 'very good travel-companion, even when she is tired'; is sure she will also be a 'very good travel-companion through life'. Forgot to ask them about the ten guilders they gave him 'for the poor'; supposes it ought to go into his account with them and be paid out of the ten pounds. Thinks Bessie is writing about a box she may have left behind; they were wise to advise him to count the luggage, but fortunately it is not important. Hopes his mother was able to see Aunt Maria today; is sure she and his father have 'enjoyed their visit enormously'. Sends love to the Grandmonts and Tuttie [Hubrecht]. He and Bessie are going out soon for dinner at 'some neighbouring tavern'; it is 'dangerous to take Bessie into these streets', as she stops to look at the lace and 'other feminine vanities for which this town is so famous' in every other shop. A note in Bessie's hand here says that she now sees 'how dangerous it is to be married to a poet with such fantastic imagination & - exaggeration!'. Sends love to them both, and wishes them as much happiness as he and Bessie feel, 'which is saying a great deal'.
The Mill House, Westcott, Dorking. - Very glad to hear that Aunt Maria has reached Lake Geneva safely. He and Bessie cannot find Territet or Montfleurie on their maps, but he supposes it is on the north bank. Has not been there for a long time, but remembers the 'beauty of the lake and its landscape', since it was his 'first glimpse... of mountain regions'. They have had a letter from [Alphonse] Grandmont saying he is sending them 'some of his delightful "black butter", the apple jam'; believes that Uncle [Paul Hubrecht] does not like it, but they do, especially as it brings 'a perfume from the fly-peopled dining room at Ede'. Grandmont also told them about 'Bramine's forgetfulness' resulting in the 'disappearance of the keys at so unfortunate a moment'; expects the keys reached Maria at Basle or wherever she stopped first. Sorry to hear about Jan; glad it is not very bad, as he has just learned from Uncle's letter to Bessie. Bessie was glad to hear Aunt Maria's cough was better; they are sure that, despite at the moment being 'rather upset by the long journey', she will soon benefit from her stay there. Bessie is well, and the weather very good; this is 'a 'famous place for blackberries', and they pick a lot when they are out and now have enough to make jam. He gets 'such wonderful things to eat now, and luckily on the whole' he and Bessie like the same foods. Their roses have been a 'great success'. Bessie is going to tea this afternoon 'with a nice fat neighbour... who has a nice fat husband', and trees 'overladen with nice fat apples and pears', some of which they will give to the Trevelyans; their name is Wynne, and they have a 'very beautiful house' just beyond the Trevelyans'. Robert and Elizabeth made some calls yesterday returning visits, but found nobody in.
Glad Aunt Maria likes "Emma"; it is set about ten miles from here, and Box Hill is only three miles away. Thinks he likes Emma best of [Austen's] books, though likes "Pride and Prejudice" almost as much. The Trevelyans are probably going to London for a few days about 25 September; will write again soon and hopes to hear she is 'much better', Tuttie [Hubrecht] as well. Sends love to Uncle, and the Grandmonts when they come.
The Mill House, Westcott, Dorking. - Robert is glad Aunt Maria is 'on the whole better' and hopes she will continue to improve; Bessie much enjoyed getting her letter. Expects Tuttie [Hubrecht] will be with her soon., but it is 'very sad about the Grandmonts', and they hope all will soon turn out well. They have just had their first guest: Robert's Aunt Annie [Philips] who 'gave Bessie the broach [sic]', his mother's sister. She came for lunch and tea; Bessie was 'very busy' in the morning making things nice as Aunt Annie is a 'very skilful connoisseur in housekeeping'. Now Bessie is sewing rings onto the curtains for the dining room; Robert breaks off to go and look at them, and reports they look 'even better than expected...' though the seamstress has made them two inches too short. Wishes Aunt Maria could see their house; will soon send photographs of the exterior and two sitting rooms, but this will not give her a real idea; she will however see the Enticknaps and their son Gussie. Is about to put some weedkiller on the lawn, though this is an unending task. Their French roses are 'still blooming' and have been very successful. There are now frosts at night, though the weather is still 'beautiful'. Has recently been reading, with the help of translations, the old Provençal poets; some are much more beautiful than he expected, and he understands now why Dante so admired and was influenced by them; however many of the Troubadours are 'very dull and conventional'. He and Bessie read some of Dante's "Paradiso" together most mornings; they like it very much and persevere even though it is 'very difficult'. They both send best wishes to her and Uncle [Paul Hubrecht], whom he hopes is keeping well.
Bessie adds a postscript in Dutch at the bottom of the last page which she continues above Robert's writing on the first page; asks about Tuttie, describes getting the house ready for Aunt Annie. Asks about a name, 'Lucy Bane?', which she could not read. She forgot Johannes [Röntgen?]'s birthday; Aunt Maria 'thinks much more intensely about other people, just like Grandmother did'.
Robert addresses Aunt Maria as 'Mijn beste tanteke' then continues the letter in English'; wishes her happy birthday and hopes she feels well despite the cold, which must be much greater there than he and Bessie have; it has been 'much warmer' [in Ravello] for the last couple of days, though not enough yet for the butterflies, lizards and crocuses to come out as they usually do all winter here. They are alone at the hotel except for a 'funny old gentleman' who is 'rather dull, though quite nice' and wears formal dress clothes for dinner even when alone. They have visited Mrs Reid and her friend Miss Allen, whom they like very much, and in whose garden they spend much of their time. Describes drinking half a bottle of Episcopio Spumante with Bessie yesterday evening (the hotel is the 'original bishop's palace... so the wine made at the hotel is called Episcopio') which led them into a conversation with the 'tedious old gentleman'; when they 'retired in some confusion' to their room he jokingly says they left the old man with the sense he had been with 'two persons of great mental powers'. They 'composed' themselves 'by reading some very serious moral poetry' and remembered that they had sent some of the same wine to Alphonse Grandmont last year which 'made a somewhat similar impression on his sober household'. Bessie says that she will take her thimble to measure out the wine this evening. Hopes that Uncle Paul and Tuttie [Hubrecht] are well; asks her to send them his love.
Bessie then writes two pages to her aunt, in Dutch; gives an account of their days, including her studies of Macaulay's "History of England", their walks; the other guest Mr Kershaw always sitting in the dining room. Asks her aunt to thank her uncle for [?]. Was very happy to hear that Julius [Röntgen] had had success in the Ceciliaconcert; [her sister] Mien must be happy.
The Mill House, Westcott, Dorking. - Glad to hear Aunt Maria is generally better; hopes her health will continue to improve. Also glad that [Alphonse] Grandmont and Jan [Hubrecht] are recovering, and that Tuttie [Hubrecht] has 'come back so much stronger'. Thinks about Grandmont every morning when they eat his 'black-butter' at breakfast; they wonder why it is black since it comes from the 'juice of white apples'. Bessie is well, despite the bad weather; there has been much wind and rain and 'her violin strings squeak, for all that she can do'. She is going to have her second lesson with [Johann] Kruse next week, who was unfortunately away when they last went to London. Two of his friends, both poets, visited on Sunday; one of them [Thomas Sturge] Moore read a play yesterday ["Omphale and Heracles'; they thought it 'very good' and wished it could be put on, but 'they do not act good plays in England now, except Shakespeare, and that they usually do badly'; the actors too are 'bad'. Bessie thinks English coal fires create much 'dust and dirt even when they do not smoke badly'; admits they do in comparison to Dutch stoves, but he does like open fires; whoever invented a fireplace combining the advantages of the two styles would be a 'great benefactor to man'. Spent three 'very full days in Paris with the same two friends' [at the Paris Exhibition]; might have wished Bessie to be there too but she would not have enjoyed the 'fearful'' crowds; even they got tired. Thought the 'old French art... very fine'; the 'side-shows and sights at the Exhibition were very poor' and the 'buildings too florid and ornamental, and some of them hideous', but the 'general effect... was very splendid and brilliant'. Is interested in the Queen [Wilhelmina of the Netherlands]' marriage, and glad 'the Dutch are pleased'; Bessie was 'quite sympathetic' when [Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the Queen's betrothed] 'had to say good-bye to her and go away to his country for a time] [as Robert had had to during their own courtship]. They have got an 'illustrated paper' about the royal couple. Next week, they are going to visit his aunt, Mrs Price, who gave them the piano, at her house in the Welsh borders; he has not been there since he was a boy, so is curious to see the place again. Bessie will write soon, but there is no time now as this has to catch the post; she sends love to all.
Seatoller, Keswick, Borrowdale. - Is sending a cheque for six pounds thirteen shillings [for wedding expenses], which added to the ten he has already paid is not too much 'considering the happiness which [he] could not have attained without paying it'; would have been ready to pay 'sixteen millions... if [he] had had them'. They have had a 'very pleasant time here' [on honeymoon]; though the weather has been quite bad it is now 'perfect'. Went out for a while with the 'hounds' [on the Lake Man Hunt] and saw his brother George caught in a deep valley 'two thousand feet' below his own position; chased another hare himself though he could not catch him. Bessie would have liked to come but she has been in the Netherlands too recently 'for her legs to be well enough used to these high hills', though she is 'climbing the lower one quite well now, and the mountain air has done her a lot of good'. They are going to Grasmere on Saturday but Bessie thinks it best for letters to them to be sent to the Mill House, Westcott, Dorking to be forwarded on. Will be back in Dorking by the end of next week. Very glad to hear Aunt Maria is better; sure the countryside will do her good; hopes Uncle Paul himself is keeping well. Bessie meant to write a letter which would arrive last Monday, the 'fiftieth anniversary of [Paul's] Doctor's Degree' but presumably as she has 'so many other pleasant things to think of' she forgot and only remembered today. Asks to be remembered to anyone at the Prinsegracht [the Hubrechts' home] though he supposes only Tuttie will be there.
The Mill House, Westcott, Dorking. - Hopes Uncle Paul has the 'same delightful weather' as they do: it is 'almost too hot'. Bessie is well except for a 'cold in her throat'. Hopes Uncle Paul's rheumatism has gone. Their 'Dutch bulbs' are doing well: the hyacinths are 'splendid', and though Bessie thinks she planted the tulips too deeply, the flowers are 'very good'. The crocuses were over when they came [back from Italy]. The birds are singing: he heard 'several nightingales yesterday'. Roger and Helen Fry's son Julian is a 'very healthy looking young man, and his parents seem very happy with him'; though his 'chin and lower jaw are small and undeveloped', Bessie says that is often the case with babies, and 'Johannes Röntgen used to be even worse'. Roger and Helen Fry seem 'quite well now'. Has been reading the Hans Andersen which Uncle Paul and Aunt Maria gave him alongside a German version and thinks he will 'get on quite fast' with his German. They have put the photograph of Aunt Maria which Bessie brought back on the mantelpiece of the library, where they sit in the evening; it is the one from a couple of years ago, which resembles 'Bramine's last picture' of her; he likes having it there as it reminds him of her as he 'first knew her'. However, she did not change much for him even after she became very ill; even last winter [just before her death], her 'cheerful and kind face and expression' were 'essentially the same'. Hopes Tuttie is well. They much enjoyed their recent stay at the Hague, and were 'made very comfortable' and looked after well by Tuttie.
Beginning of letter missing; text starts mid sentence with Bessie referring in Dutch to financial matters and thanking her uncle. Asks if Bramine will come tomorrow [for Uncle Paul's birthday], which will be very cosy; hopes their own 'little flower' will be delivered tomorrow. Robert wants to say something now so she will let the 'eloquent poet' speak for himself.
Robert adds a note in English, though he first addressed Paul Hubrecht as 'Mijn beste Ooom'; wishes him 'every happiness' for his birthday, and wishes he could be there. Hopes that if there are speeches, 'the oratory may reach as high last year, when the dinner was made so pleasant by brilliant flashes of humour from you and Paul and Ambro' and his own 'brilliant flash of silence', which perhaps should be called his '"break-down"'. He and Bessie hope to be with the Hubrechts before Christmas; also that Jan might be able to pay them a short visit, and perhaps also visit Robert's brother George at Cambridge. Hopes that by the time they come to the Netherlands. Aunt [Maria] and [Alphonse] Grandmont will be 'much better'; they both seem to be improving, though slowly. Must be a 'great relief that Tuttie is quite well again'. Bessie has been well except for a 'nasty cough', but this is nearly gone now. They recently went to Cambridge and saw Aeschylus's "Agamemnon" acted [the Cambridge Greek Play], though they thought it was not done so 'with great success'; Bessie's 'musical conscience was offended by the badness of the chorus music'. Was kind of Uncle Paul to send 'that prophetic Strand Magazine', which Bessie says she got 'as early as '92': her 'unconscious prophetic instinct must have been working even in her schooldays'. They find their "Encyclopaedia Britannica" a 'great recourse': they will be 'very omniscient' by the time they next see Uncle Paul, particularly Bessie, though she says the article on Dutch literature is 'poor'. Perhaps this is because it 'does not do justice to the great 17th century poet [van den Vondel?], whose works form so brilliant an adornment to their bookshelves'. Best wishes to Aunt Maria and Tuttie; hopes that tomorrow [Uncle Paul's birthday?] will be a 'happy day'.