Pension Lucarini, 5 Via Gregoriana, Rome. - Glad Bob enjoyed Arezzo and that Piero [della Francesca] 'played up well'; he and Helen have seen very few pictures since Bob left, having been busy with their own work. This has mainly involved copying; feels he would do nothing else if he lived in Italy, as it 'makes one lose ones nerve in the matter of creation to see what has been done'. They go to the [Palazzo] Colonna, where he is copying a Poussin landscape and Helen a boy's head by Giovanni Santi which [Bernard] Berenson will probably know. D.S.M. [Dugald Sutherland Macoll] must never know Fry has copied a Poussin. His pocket book, containing ten pounds in Italian money, has been stolen.
Bob's letter suggests that he thinks Fry 'expressed strong disapproval of Berenson'; in fact he has 'always rather believed in him and what [Bob says] of him; even the 'Superior Maple' is 'right enough if you make the superiority big enough'; would 'willingly be a whole family of Sir Blundells on those terms' [a reference to Sir John Blundell Maple?]. Hopes he will meet Berenson one day. Cites Michelet and [Arthur Henry] Johnson in support of his own view of Savonarola's statesmanship. Has been reading Pater's "Miscellanies"; a pity he makes so many mistakes, and is also 'so very just', particularly disappointing in a 'Morelli-ite'; describes what is needed in criticism now and wonders if Berenson might write it.
He and Helen have been playing piquet, 'a poor substitute for chess', and 'head, body & legs' when they are 'extra happy & frivolous'. He and Helen were in the Borghese gardens this morning looking for white violets; Helen had just got under the barbed wire onto the road 'with some agile anglo saxon attitudinizing' when she was startled by the appearance of the King in a phaeton; her behaviour was 'absurdly like... [that of] the gardeners when the Red Queen came along' [in Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland"]; would have been different if she had had Bob's 'Republican soul at hand to back her up'; his own sense that 'a King is different to anyone else', though 'of course' he laughed at Helen 'for her superstition'.
Very glad Logan [Pearsall Smith]'s work is so good; supposes discontent is 'the cause of all creativity''; asks Bob to tell Logan that he wants to see him as soon as possible. Asks to be remembered kindly to [Mary] Costelloe, whom they hope to catch when they come to Florence. 'Hellen', as Bob writes it, is asleep, or would send her own good wishes to Bob.