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Fry, Roger Eliot (1866-1934) painter and art critic
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Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven

Pension Palumbo, Ravello, preso Amalfi. - Corrects Bessie's Italian for his address. Details of post times. The weather continues to be bad so he has been reading, writing letters, and finishing copying out [Thomas Sturge Moore's] "Danaë". Thanks her for sending on the "Chronicle". Has written for the "Manchester Guardian", as he agrees with it about the [Second Boer] War; its editor [C.P.] Scott was here when he arrived, and he had a long talk with him about the war. The "Guardian" is 'almost the best paper in England, being cosmopolitan'; is encouraged that Scott says he has 'kept most of his public, in spite of his attitude to the war', and that opposition to their policy led to the resignation of the "Chronicle's" editors, rather than public opinion. Hopes Bessie's visit to the dentist went well. Discussion of the lack of interest in romantic love in Sophocles and its treatment by the other ancient tragedians; contrasts this with the way 'almost all the great modern dramatis, Shakespear [sic], Racine, Molière, de Vega etc. fetch their subjects from Venus' archives'. Continues the letter later, after 'scribbling off a severe commentary on some of the obscurities in Moore's "Danaë"' and reading the first chapters of [Joseph Henry Shorthouse's] "John Inglesant", which Mrs Reid lent him this afternoon. Has told her about Bessie and she took a great interest; she is 'a dear old lady, and very kind' to him. Improvises a poem about being a black beetle crawling under Bessie's door to give her kisses.

Returns to the letter next evening; has been outside most of the day, spending the morning in Mrs Reid's garden, though not really able to work, and walking in the afternoon. Hopes to start work in a day or two on another play, not the one he showed Bessie. Has begun his commentary on Moore's "Danaë," but it will take him hours. Tells her to show the photographs his mother sent her to her uncle and aunt. Is touched by what she says about trusting him. Hopes that [Ambrose Hubrecht's] whale 'has been successfully dissected'; disappointed to hear 'he is not going to Utrecht whole, to be stuffed, or bottled.'

Continues the letter next day. Has been reading Chaucer and 'commenting on Danaë's little faults'. Perhaps exaggerated when he said 'modern art scarcely seemed to exist at all', but does feel that modern art is 'on the wrong lines', though 'men like Degas and Puvis de Chavannes and Whistler, and even often Watts and Burne Jones, have done great things'. Would be wrong to persuade himself that bad art was good, and there are times when 'circumstances have made great art difficult or impossible', such as literature in the middle ages. Does not think the Frys' attitude to art is exclusive; they may well be in music, but they know less about that.

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

Pension Palumbo, Ravello, presso Amalfi. - Has received the "Descent of the Primates" from Professor [Ambrosius] Hubrecht and found it very interesting; a long time since he read Darwin and 'tried to imagine [his] hairy, long-eard, tail-bearing, tree-haunting ancestors' and the paper has 'quite revived' the old fascination; never thought the hedgehog was 'so comparatively near a relation'. He and [Roger] Fry used to have one in London to kill black-beetles, which they called Hochi-Weechi, the Romany for hedgehog. Obviously Hubrecht's work is 'of great importance and value'. Had forgotten to send him the address of his own spectacle shop, and will do so when he writes to thank him. Had also forgotten to tell Mrs Cacciola [Florence Trevelyan; about their engagement]; will write at once. Hopes Gredel [Guije] gets through [her exam].

Continues the letter next day. Has got on 'fairly well' with his play recently; the sirocco is blowing today so he cannot do much except copy out what he has done so far, translate some Sophocles, and deal with correspondence. Old Palumbo is about the same; his wife does not want Bob to go unless absolutely necessary. Has not yet had a letter, or rings from which to choose one for her, from the Frys, but has written to them. Has had a 'charming' letter from Tommy Phelps [17/156], whom he calls 'almost my eldest friend' and had jokingly warned him against Dutch ladies when he would not tell him why he was going to Holland again so soon; it was also Phelps who originated the Vondel / fondle pun. Also returns C [Charles Trevelyan?]'s letter. Copies out some lines from "Troilus and Cressida", which he discusses briefly.

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

Pension Palumbo, Ravello. - There is not sufficient paper in the hotel to answer her long letter as it deserves. Strange that he is not inspired to write Bessie love-poetry, but says he is 'not good at putting difficult and elaborate and wonderful thoughts into verse', which would be needed; will try one day. Sorry that Gredel [Guije] failed. Since he sometimes misses out words in his letters, Bessie need never be shocked by his 'wicked opinions' but can add 'nots' when she pleases and 'convert the sense to please [her] fancy'. Glad she is re-reading [Joseph Henry Shorthouse's] "John Inglesant". Sends her kisses "blown through the ether like waves of light or electricity'. Continues the letter next morning, copying out an extract about Shorthouse from a piece of paper in Mrs Reid's book an extract from a letter from Isabel Balfour; this recalls what his brother [George?] has heard about Shorthouse. The book reminds Bob of Pater's "Marius the Epicurean"; thinks one must have influenced the other; also thinks "Marius" the better book on the whole. Asks his waiter to settle their dispute about Italian grammar, which he does in Bob's favour. Returns to the letter in the afternoon: old Palumbo died this morning, and since his wife did not want Bob to leave, he is staying in a separate part of the house where he is 'quite out of the way'. News has just come that the Cappuccini hotel at Amalfi 'has subsided on a great part of it' and some people have been killed. Writes again in the evening having gone to see the landslip, which was as bad as the rumours; seven or eight people died, and 'part of the end of the hotel had gone'. The people say it is St. Francis' doing, "angry because his monastery had been put to base uses". Had never been to Amalfi before, though this is his third visit; not much to see 'except the people and the beggars', and the Cathedral is 'spoilt by restoring'. Palumbo was dying about the same time as the landslip, and the proprietor of the Cappuccini, a friend, was here comforting Madame Palumbo when the news about the hotel came. 'They say he almost fainted... [and] will probably be ruined, as no one will dare come to his hotel now'. Bob exerted himself greatly on the journey down to Amalfi and back and 'sweeted (in Grandmont language' despite the bitter cold.

Originally enclosing a 'charming letter from [Eddie] Marsh'; his 'first Cambridge friend' who works in the Colonial office 'though, like many there, he does not like the war'; gives a brief character sketch. Has also heard from [Goldsworthy Lowes] Dickinson. Has not heard from [Bernard] Berenson, but has from [Mary] Costelloe, whom he just asked Berenson to tell; 'rather annoying', as he 'care[s] for Berenson very much, and dislike Mrs C.', though it was a 'perfectly proper letter'. Is very troubled by [Lina] Duff Gordon's letter: her wish for his happiness is 'unmistakeably sincere', as she always is, but her reply to his wish for them to remain as good friends is that since he told her nothing about this when he saw her 'constantly' in London last October, things can never be quite the same. It would have been very difficult to tell her, but feels that perhaps he should have done, not because she was an 'intimate friend' - the only one of his friends he told, 'for special reasons', was Fry - but because Mrs Costelloe had been spreading rumours that she was in love with him. Perhaps this was true, and he should have realised, although he does not think he gave her reason to believe he was in love with her; it is possible that Mrs Costelloe has stirred up trouble, as 'she has a great influence over Miss D. G.' and he believes her 'really to be a bad woman, though with many good qualities'. Is going to see Palumbo's funeral start for Naples. Writes again in the evening, after writing at 'my cliff, the Cembrone [Cimbrone]'. Quotes from a letter from Tom Moore: Moore thinks he will 'make a good husband' but spoil all his children. Has received Bessie's next letter, but not the photographs. He can skate, but not very well. Does not think Buller's defeat will make much difference to British attitudes to the [Second Boer] war; discussion of the war; does not think it would be good if all of South Africa were governed by the Dutch, would not object to 'an independent Dutch South Africa if it were well governed, and the natives treated properly' which currently happens in the Cape but not in the Transvaal. Methuen and probably Buller are not equal to the people against them, but this does not mean the English have fought badly; however, she need not worry that he is 'becoming Jingo'. Sorry Bessie has missed Tonina [van Riemsdijk]'s violin; when one good enough becomes available, will get it for her. They must visit Ravello together; Madame asked if they would come here on their honeymoon, which they will have to discuss; she intends to keep the hotel for some years at least.

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

Pension Palumbo, Ravello, Golfo di Salerno. - Perfect recent weather; has done 'a fair lot of work' and thinks he is 'well started' on his new play about 'a man who comes back from the Crusades and finds his enemy in occupation of his castle'. [C.P] Scott, editor of the "Manchester Guardian", has asked him to send an account of the landslip disaster [at the Cappuccini hotel]; if Scott prints his letter he will show it her, as his 'first and perhaps... last attempt at journalism'. The accounts of the landslip in the papers are 'greatly exaggerated'; Bessie need not worry about him. Once read a review of [Kenneth Grahame's] "The Golden Age" by Swinburne, 'with more than his usual extravagance of praise'; was rather disappointed when he read some of it soon after. Fry's sister Isabel has written 'a somewhat similar book, but with no pretentions', which he thinks is worth 'twenty golden ages'; it is called "Unitiated" and he will get it for Bessie to read; Isabel Fry is very nice, and a little like Bessie in temperament. Will lend her [Stephen Philips'] "Paolo and Francesca"; does not think much of it. Is too lazy to copy out verses, as he promised. Agrees that it is wonderful to think of going out for dinner together; not that either of them do that much, but in moderation it is very good, and he has never dined out enough for the 'novelty of it to be spoilt' as it is for her uncle. Teases her about her dreams. Is sure with her uncle and Lord Reay's advice they will be able to arrange their marriage properly; they should have as few formalities as possible, and avoid being married again in England if they can; would like the date to be as soon as possible, in June, but she should decide. Notes that this is the last letter he will send dated 1899, and '1900 will look awfully odd'.

Very interested by her description of her childhood; Tuttie [Maria Hubrecht] is certainly ' not the sort of person to have understood [Bessie] at all'; he had something of the same difficulty with Charles, who however tried to be sympathetic and a good brother to him; Charles 'had a sterner and more orderly temperament' and Bob 'the more haphazard one'. George is 'a sort of cross' between the two, but with much more intellect than Charles. Encloses a letter from Mrs Cacciola [Florence Trevelyan]; knew she had taken a fancy to Bessie; 'her staccato style is admirably expressive. She does it in conversation often'. Had said in his letter that his parents might visit Sicily next winter and she might possibly see him with them and Bessie next year. Has nearly finished reading [Shorthouse's] "John Inglesant"; thinks it 'a most remarkable novel' though it does drag in places. Calls the muses her 'real rivals, my dear nine mistresses'.

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