- 29 Dec 1899
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'.