- 31 Oct 1899
The Mill House, Westcott, Dorking. - Is glad that Bessie thinks their plan [to meet] so easy and that he 'overrated the difficulties' on her side; still thinks it may be better for him to go on to Italy after seeing her, saving the expense and 'beastliness' of two crossings and making him more likely to catch the Frys at Siena. Has always been able to work at Ravello, and doubts he will do much until he goes abroad. She must decide when he should come, and for how long; would like not to start before 11 November as he has promised to play [rugby] football then, but 'even the Sacred Olympian Games must give way , if necessary'. Says that he hates 'romance, at least in real life', and would not like her to be a 'Juliett, even if it were possible'; discusses Rostand's play "Les Romanesques", in which two lovers are not satisfied until their fathers fake a Romeo and Juliet style quarrel; thinks it more perfect than "Cyrano [de Bergerac]". Has not read "La Samaritaine"; thinks he would not care for it, as "[w]hen a Frenchman gets hold of J[esus] C[hrist] he usually makes him ridiculous", though it is 'bound to be clever and amusing'; Sanger saw 'Sally B [Sarah Bernhardt]' in it. Of Rostand's tragedies, has only read "La Princesse Lontaine"; thinks it a better play than "Cyrano". General thoughts about Rostand's plays and characters; he is 'a very charming person, and though dreadfully French [not] offensively so'. Glad Bessie liked his poem 'about Nothing at all' [see 9/80]; questions her objection to his translation of a line in the Ronsard poem, since she knows French much better than he does. The 'Indian poem' is part of a long one of which he has written the beginning and the fragment he sent; is not satisfied with it at all. Explains the correct English use of "shall" and "will". Has just seen an evening paper with an account of the disaster at Ladysmith [during the Second Boer War]; thinks it is the worst reverse the British army have had this century; resembles 'certain events in the War of American Independence' and this war is 'nearly as foolish and unnecessary'. Discusses possible results. Bessie is right that his father has fine eyes; thinks she would like him; he is very like Bob, 'only with more virtues and common sense, and fewer absurdities'.