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Shakespeare, William (1564–1616), playwright and poet
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Letter from George Macaulay Trevelyan to R. C. Trevelyan

British Red Cross Society, First British Ambulance Unit for Italy, Intendenza IIIa Armata, Zona di Guerra. - Thanks Bob for the 'paper re Molly's moves', which he has signed and sent back to Sir Hugh Bell. Glad to hear where Bob was and what he was doing; expects the work of [the Friends War Victims Relief Committee] will 'come in more than ever' during the armistice, whenever that begins, and 'a library if well chosen may be very much to the point'. Sorry to hear about the death of Bass [Sebastian Burtt?] Meyer's brother [Philip?]; if Bob sees Meyer, he should tell him that George's unit 'hope to get the Star lorry on the road again before demobilization': he will understand. George's unit have had a 'quiet year', except for one week in June. He has started writing again, and the 'beauty of the sub Alps and Iuganeans [Euganean Hills]... is in itself a resource'. Notes in a postscript that the unit's base is 'within 2 miles of Petrarch's house' [at Arquà] which is as genuine as [Shakespeare's] house at Stratford, with the 'cat that was in his room when he died' stuffed and mounted over the door of the room.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven

The Mill House, Westcot, Dorking. - Hopes to decide today whether the second post reaches its destination at the same time as the first. Had a busy time in London, spending much time with Sanger before he left for Greece, as well as dining out, going to Fry's lecture, and to see "Richard II" with [Thomas Sturge?] Moore and Binyon. Returned on Wednesday and has done some work; saw Fry and they discussed Sanger's illness; he is 'desparately in love with someone who is behaving very cruelly to him [Dora Pease]' and he does not know what she feels for him. Will tell Bessie more when he sees her. Certainly good for him to go to Greece with Dickinson, Daniel, Wedd and Mayor. Saw them off at the station and 'felt desperately incline to go off with them'; they were so cheerful, even Sanger, and he has always dreamed of going to Greece, which they know so well; regrets that after his marriage he will not be able to go with them 'with who one can talk as freely as one chooses, as blasphemously, as obscenely, as wittily, as learnedly, as jovially as any of the old Greeks themselves did'. Feels he should have 'made hay more assiduously' during his bachelor days, instead of living 'mewed up' alone in the countryside. Knows Bessie will compensate him for all he is to lose; she must come to Greece before long or she will find him 'running off' without her. Praises "Richard II"; it was well acted, though he thought the Richard [Frank Benson?] "vulgar". Has written to his Aunt Meg [Price]; she seems happy to get them a 'cottage piano' which will later be exchanged; asks if Bessie wants the final choice of the instrument or whether she trusts his aunt's 'professional friend' to do this. Sophie is 'Miss Wickstead [sic: see 9/117]], not some young lady friend' he has not told her about.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven

The Mill House, Westcot, Dorking. - Tells her about a discussion with Bargman, the man who did the house for him, about damp, the possibility of putting in a baize door as Gussie [Enticknap] can be 'a little obstreperous' after tea; and burglars. Thinks perhaps he should have the library, as first decided. [His aunt Meg Price] says she will pay the extra when they want a grand piano if she is still alive, which is 'very generous'; he has suggested she gets them a Broadwood £40 upright, but her 'professional friend' will know best what will suit a small room. They must go and visit as soon as they can; she rather reproached Bob for not visiting. Gives the measurements for the table. Sends her a curl from his head; is wearing hers next to his heart. Thinks he will send "The [Lady's] Bat" and "Dryope", and perhaps some others, to the "Speaker"; Hammond, an editor he knows, thinks they may put them in. Can break off his tenancy of the Temple rooms whenever he likes, but should like to keep them for the summer; Sanger will probably find another tenant in the summer, though he may still marry, which Bob and Fry think would probably be best although his friend [Dora Pease] has treated him badly. Sanger is in financial difficulty, which Bob does not want to worsen. Thinks he will probably go to the Lizard for a few days at Easter. Has not yet written to the Borrowdale people [the Peppers] about the honeymoon, nor to her uncle, which he should do this evening. Does not anticipate that there will be any difficulties regarding the wedding, but he should check; will leave the precise date of the ceremony for her and her relations to choose. Asks if she has heard from the Grandmonts. Had a scare yesterday when his Shakespeare, two Greek books, and the manuscript of his play, which he had hidden in the woods then 'wandered off meditating' were taken home by a passing labourer; was in despair but the gamekeeper suggested where they might be. The [Second Boer] war is 'getting to a very unpleasant state': the 'war party are very brutal, breaking up meetings, rioting etc'. Thinks the Government has behaved 'shockingly' for not suppressing them, there has been much indignation against them which may do good in the end.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven

The Mill House, Westcott, Dorking. - Bessie should not mind her feeling [that a recent musical occasion would not have felt the same with Bob there]; he would not want her to be at [an Apostle's] Society discussion, as she would be 'a little out of her element', and he will likewise never be musically minded' however many concerts he go to; though he will want to 'know and try to sympathise with' her musical friends as she will 'to a far greater extent and more easily' with his friends. She is ''"Apostolic" in... intellect and Nature', though she cannot become a brother, whereas he could never be thought of as an 'Embryo' in music, however much trouble she took with him. However, does enjoy music, such as the Isaye [sic: Ysaÿe] concert last Monday, who played Schubert and Beethoven, and the song recital by [Blanche] Marchesi on Tuesday; she sang some melancholy songs by [Adolf] Jensen, and part of César Franck's "Ruth". Has been reading Heine's songs with a translation, and likes them, but not as much as those by Goethe, which seem as great, and in the same sort of way' as those by Shakespeare and Sappho. Mrs [Helen] Fry is still not well; has lent her 'lots of novels, which she reads very fast'; she sends Bessie her love. Still thinks the Lakes will be best for their honeymoon; asks advice on the trousers he should get for the wedding day. Lists some books he owns; Sophie [Wicksteed] is giving them a complete Carlyle; Bessie should keep any book that has meaning for her. The Insleys told him the correct spelling of his address was 'Westcot', but supposes he should follow modern fashion. Has read some more of the new poems [Thomas Sturge] Moore lent to Binyon; one 'about the dead Don Juan' is very original. Has not done much work recently; hopes to get the first two acts finished before going abroad. Is going to stay with the Holman Hunts before going to Cornwall; Hunt's 'painting is now no good' but he is charming and 'full of reminiscences of Rossetti, Millais and the rest'. Asks if she knows of the Dutch poet Piet Paaltjens. Read a poem of Heine in which he compared his wife to 'Schlangen' [snakes] and himself to Laocoon; wishes Bessie 'would come swimming over the sea, like the snakes in Virgil'. Fears he cannot get her [magic] carpet at 'Cardinal and Harvards; it is too oriental even for them'.

Letter from George Macaulay Trevelyan to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Garden Corner, West Road, Cambridge. - Is sorry that he is so busy that he 'cannot undertake to read Dr [G.J.?] Renier's work [perhaps in relation to Bessie's translation of Fruin's "Siege and Relief of Leyden..."]. Asks whether [Archibald] Flower's purchase of Welcombe includes 'the dingles and little wooded valleys exactly opposite the windows of the large Hall..' which are for him 'the really sacred place, the unspoiled Welcombe where Shakespeare undoubtedly roamed' and bought a tithe. Had always hoped that land would 'not be sold in Villa lots', and Withers said it must go with the house which might otherwise be 'unsaleable'; hopes that it has done so and is not in any danger of being 'cut up for bungalos [sic]'.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven

The Mill House, Westcott, Dorking. - Is going to London on Friday to see his father and discuss the marriage conditions; his father is going to his lawyers tomorrow. Has done a fair bit of work lately; asks if she would like him to bring anything over to show her or whether it should wait till they are married; would like to show her all his unpublished old work as well as his recent material. Seatoller is the place where he 'conceived the story of Epimetheus", though he did not write it till later. Wonders whether, though he had written little of merit, he was 'more of a poet' then, four years ago; used to have 'wonderful lyrical moments' alone in the hills. This may only be the 'natural illusion of thinking our past more wonderful than our present'; is sure he writes better now. Discusses the fact that his poetry and his love for Bessie are two separate things, which would not have been the case then; expects all writers of that age 'create an artificial mistress of their thoughts'; this mistress was a 'much more reasonable object of... jealousy', not that Bessie feels this, than 'poor Miss [Irene] Zocco' or anyone else. Has been reading "Othello"; his play has more or less the same subject but will be a 'feeble shadow' of it. Has just written a speech for the villain; he 'always write[s] the bad people's speeches easier than the goods,' but his villain is 'weak and lifeless' beside Iago. Quotes from the play. Mrs Pepper writes to say that there are so far no visitors at Seatoller in June, which is usually a quiet month. Ends with a doggerel verse promising to kiss her and give her Grasmere gingerbread.

Letter from Sir George Trevelyan to R. C. Trevelyan

Welcombe, Stratford on Avon. - Glad to hear they are all well; Caroline sends love; a 'cuckoo for ever calling here' makes him think of 'the dear little boy' [Paul] and of 'Will Shakespeare'. They have just finished Hogg [his life of Shelley], and thinks more of Hogg 'in his queer way' than ever; has been reading a Macmillan edition of Shelley: 'What a poet!'. Has read [Roger] Fry's article in the Burlington Magazine, and paid a second visit to the illuminated manuscripts [exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club] yesterday before leaving London; has also looked through the British Museum facsimiles here and at Grosvenor Crescent. Hopes Fry's wife will 'go on satisfactorily'. The 'Doctorate business' [his forthcoming honorary degree at Cambridge] is 'very plain sailing': Lord Halsbury, Lord Rayleigh, and Sir James Ramsey will also be staying at [Trinity College] Lodge; they lunch at [Gonville &] Caius, whose Master [Ernest Roberts] is Vice Chancellor. Others receiving honorary degrees are: the Duke of Northumberland; Admiral Sir John Fisher; Charles Parsons; Sir James Ramsay; Sir W[illiam] Crookes; Professor Lamb; Professor Marshall; Asquith; Lord Halsbury; Sir Hubert Herkomer; Sir Andrew Noble; Rudyard Kipling; Professor Living; they will 'advance on the Senate the English at Trafalgar'. in two columns. Is looking forward to dinner in the hall at Trinity. Went to Harrow on Tuesday and will tell Robert about it and about the 'Cacciola affair'.

Note from R. W. Chapman to R. B. McKerrow

The Clarendon Press, Oxford.—Comments on a passage about copyright.



The Clarendon Press, Oxford
29 December, 1926.

Slips 40–1. Copyright.

The “trade” doctrine of perpetual copyright, in the 18C, is of some importance. Tonson claimed perpetual copyright in Shakespeare, and actually stopped the edition for which Johnson issued Proposals in 1745. (The documents are extant.) He did not prosecute the University of Oxford (1744) but I think he undersold us.

The Scottish courts in 1774 decided that there was no such thing as “literary property”. They argued that it arose out of printing, and therefore could not have inhered in Adam and Eve; also that if it had been perpetual (even in England) the Act of Queen Anne (14 years) would have been useless. There was also litigation in England. Injunctions had been obtained by publishers against what they called piracy; but the doctrine came to grief finally in the House of Lords (see Boswell) and thereafter statutory copyright was the only right recognised (except for Clarendon and other picturesque survivals!). I am afraid I am rather vague about it all. Johnson was opposed to perpetual copyright.


R. B. McKerrow, Esq.


Typed, except Chapman’s initials and some corrections. At the head is the reference ‘Pkt. 428/R.F.’ A pencil line has been drawn through the text.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven

The Mill House, Westcott, Dorking. - Glad to hear Bessie is all right. Teases her about his 'wedding presents from young ladies'. Is going to Roundhurst with the Frys now, unless they do not think the weather fine enough. Sorry he did not send the marriage contract; thought his father had done so; will get it amended before he comes over, which he expects will be Wednesday night. Will bring over his silk white tie for her to see, Will go up to London on Monday, staying at Hare Court. Glad the H's [Howards] called, which should make "matters quite simple now". Quotes the first lines of "Midsummer Night's Dream", changing 'Hippolyta' to 'Elizabeth'.

Letter from C. J. Holmes to R. C. Trevelyan

Hacon & Ricketts, The Vale Press, No. 17, Craven St., Strand, London. - Is answering Trevelyan's letter at one, 'partly for the pleasure of writing the above amazing date' and also to reassure him 'about the Shakespeare': had taken Trevelyan's letter as 'confirmation of [Thomas Sturge?] Moore's verbal request', so his 'early married life won't be embittered by the arrival of two sets'; in fact he would probably need to go to a bookseller if he wanted a second set. Now will 'turn... from these prosy things' to picture Trevelyan composing Pindaric poems to the 'Hieron of our latter day Syracuse' [Pindar wrote praise poems for that ruler, while the Athenians later mounted a military expedition against Syracuse, which Holmes compares to the present-day Second Boer War]: the 'simple Paul Kruger will smile at the new & glorious pedigree' which Trevelyan invents for him and performs to the accompaniment of his 'bride's Χρυσεα φορμιγξ [golden lyre: a reference to Pindar's first "Pythian Ode"] in Pretoria or 'Johannisberg [sic]'. Meanwhile, he hopes Trevelyan's Pindar is 'unencumbered with [John William] Donaldson's superfluous & interminable notes'. Wishes him 'good wishes for the end of this self satisfied century'. Postscript saying that Trevelyan should write directly to Moore if he wants his proofs, as they have none at the Press.

Letter from George Macaulay Trevelyan to R. C. Trevelyan

Garden Corner, West Road, Cambridge. - Thanks Bob for the 'splendid' second volume [of his "Collected Works"], which will join Dante's "Inferno", Shakespeare, Boccaccio 'in the task of propping, in these bad days, [George's] mind'. Reopens the letter to add a postscript saying that he has just read "A Custom of Thrace", which is 'very fine'; the 'last page of the book is very fine indeed'.

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