- Feb 1896
Hôtel Floresta, Taormina [headed notepaper]:- Since he last wrote, has been to Syracuse for two days, and visited ‘the chief sites with the Hodgkins’: was good to travel in their carriages, since ‘the distances are great’. Escaped ‘the malaria, of which there is none now except in the Autumn’, and only then on the Anapo [river], as they have ‘drained the whole district’ recently, leaving little ‘either for the malaria or snipe-hunter’. Found Syracuse ‘the most enchanting place’ he has ever visited, but admits that since he ‘only stayed two days, and departed unsatisfied’ he perhaps cannot ‘judge dispassionately’. The ‘view of the harbour and the Anapus’ valley from Epipolae is one of the most fascinating [struck-through] beyond words’. Did not have time to see ‘the best of the quarries’, but saw one of them. The ‘Syracusan Epipolae is not so abrupt and sheer as the Northumbrian [Greenleighton: see 46/41] and is not so much a quarry as a kind of steep staircase shattered into ruins’. His parents should come next time they visit Italy: there is an ‘excellent hotel’.
Is glad she likes G[raham] Wallas: made ‘great friends with him at Welcombe’. They [Graham and his wife Ada?] have sent him a ‘choice of seats for the Philharmonic Concerts’: if his mother has not yet bought tickets and wishes to have seats, encourages her to choose, as she is ‘on the spot’; he will miss the first concert, but hopes to go to the second with her; advises her to choose the couple in the Grand Circle. Asks her to tell ‘the people at Chappells’ that he is not corresponding with them; Roger [Fry] must have forgotten to send it out to him, since ‘it seems to have been waiting more than a month’. Is well and enjoying the weather.
He and Roger have ‘entered into a partnership - he paints fans, chiefly on classical subjects’, and Robert supplies ‘sonnets to inscribe on them, treating the myth more or less frivolously’. Their ‘first venture is Jupiter and Io’; Robert’s sonnet pleased Roger, so he hopes that they will ‘continue [their] trade’. Tells his mother that ‘A fan… is to a painter, what a sonnet is to a writer… short and not a great undertaking, and yet… a finished piece of work, and not turned out slovenly’, therefore ‘useful for keeping one’s hand in’. Cannot find his rough copy, or would send it to her. Has been ‘indulging in a debauch of Balzac. Whatever his position among writers may be, he is certainly the most stimulating’. Hopes his father is ‘prospering with his [Charles James] Fox’, and ‘not troubling too much about our miserable fin-de-siecle politics’.