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Birrell, Augustine (1850-1933), politician and author
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Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—His communications have been arriving at odd intervals. She will see him in London tomorrow, and has fixed to go to Boulogne on Monday week (10th). Suggests they come up together from Winston’s next Sunday and have a last talk. Has said nothing to her mother yet. Is miserable today, in spite of Birrell.

—————

Transcripts

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Sunday May 2nd 1915

My darling you must have thought it very strange of me never to send you any word, but the letters came very oddly.

I got nothing from you in the morning, then by the second post a very short letter with two enclosures, then at about 7.30 suddenly from nowhere your real long divine letter, which I hadnt time to read properly till after dinner, and of course in the meanwhile I’d got your telegram.

Tomorrow I see you, I might lunch with you if you were back, perhaps you’d telephone to me to Mansfield St. Boulogne, darling, is clinched, I go on Monday week {1}. Dont be {2} angry with me for settling this, I know it must seem to you to show lamentable lukewarmness, but it isnt that I want to post from things but that I do want to have a slight first hand experience of what the conditions are like not 60 miles away from a vast war.

It seems so unadventurous to go on just as one has done & will do without making an attempt to get any new sensation.

But after this I’ll promise (& it will be very easy to keep because I shall want to keep it) always to consult you in everything.

My dearest you have been an angel to me all this time, your patience & generosity to me have been wonderful.

I think we’ll come up from Winstons Sunday after dinner & have a last long glorious talk

I’ve not said anything to mother yet, I find it impossible to talk of my affairs.
I’ve loathed this Sunday, in spite of Birrell, & felt quite miserable. No one seems to be leaving till 1 so I cant lunch I suppose but I shall see you anytime after 6. I wish I could dine with you but I must get this infernal inoculation over.

I hope for a letter tomorrow.

I’ve such masses I want to talk to you about.

Goodbye darling.
Venetia

—————

Partly written in pencil (see below).

{1} 10th.

{2} The writing changes from pencil to ink here.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Has received his two letters. Is glad that the Prime Minister is pleased by Violet and Bongie’s engagement. Discusses the arrangements for her return to England. Is glad that Sylvia will have Anthony at home for a week or so, but fears for his safety if he transfers to a regiment in the fighting line. Is pleased at Birrell’s approval [of their engagement]. Has met Lord Wemyss, and may dine with him tomorrow. Asks for news of Edward’s progress.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

In the train from Folkestone.—(20 Oct.) Has learnt of his safe arrival at Boulogne. Hopes that Alan and Kisch will prove more competent than expected.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—Is depressed at having to spend the winter without him, despite the prospect of arranging Breccles. Reflects on their relationship and plans. After he left she and Viola went shopping, and she saw a sideboard she liked. Has dealt with some correspondence.—(Later.) Diana has visited. Is going to the opera.—(21 Oct.) Discusses her visit to the opera last night. This morning she went to Arlington Street [the Rutland Hospital], lunched with Diana and the Duchess, drove to Bushey in a vain attempt to meet Duff, and dined at Arlington Street for a ‘working reading aloud evening’. She intends to go to the hospital every morning, but will go away if the air-raids are bad.—[Later.] They read again in the evening.—(22 Oct.) Has received two notes from him. She went to Arlington Street and lunched at the Bath [Club]. Goonie is bored by having Jack home. Has ordered some things for the house.—(23 Oct.) She lunched with friends, including Masterton, who reported the rumour of a new coalition including ‘the old bird’ [Asquith], then went to South Kensington to show Diana David Garrick’s bed, which she is thinking of copying for Montagu. She dined and went to the opera with Bluey, and they discussed sapphism. Has had no news about letting the house.—(24 Oct.) After the hospital she went to the Bath, and to the House of Lords. Gives an account of the debate [on the situation in India]. In the evening she went to a play with Viola. Has let the house and bought the sideboard.—(25 Oct.) She dined with Cardie for Rawle’s farewell party, then went to a party at Lady Howard’s, which included Hugo Rumbold, who she is ‘crazy’ about, and Teddie Gerard, who enchanted Winston.—[26 Oct.] Has learnt of Montagu’s arrival at Port Said and has received his letter from Modane. She went to the Bath, where Clemmie was ‘very typical’ about Winston and Teddie. Some friends are dining with her, and they may go to the opera afterwards.—(27 Oct.) Only some of her guests went to the opera last night; she stayed in talking till late with the others. After Arlington Street she went shopping and to lunch with Katherine and Diana. Later she may go to Arlington Street for a ‘working reading evening’. Has received his letter from Rome and eagerly awaits his diary. The house has not, after all, been let.—(28 Oct.) She went to Bushey with Diana and Michael Herbert to see Duff, and dined with Diana and Edward, who has just come home on ‘Mells fire leave’ [Mells Park had been destroyed by fire on the 11th].—(29 Oct.) After the hospital and the Bath they lunched with Edward, after which Venetia took him to Lucile’s, where they found Viola choosing dresses for her new part. She got home to find Phyllis there, having turned out by her father for throwing a hair-brush at him. Rib writes to her daily, but they are trying to persuade her that he must marry her or stop seeing her. There was an abortive air-raid warning.—(30 Oct.) Edward has fallen in love with Phyllis. She lunched with friends, and Hugo Rumbold, who is probably another of Phyllis’s lovers, came to tea. Has received a telegram from Cairo and has heard that Montagu’s party has already broken up into groups. Some friends are dining with her tonight. Is appalled by the household expenses.—(31 Oct.) Her dinner went well, but she and Diana got into an argument with Edward. She had lunch with friends at home. Phyllis has told Ribblesdale that she will have to stop seeing him if he does not mean to marry her, but it is unlikely that her good intentions will last. Diana said to Phyllis that her mind had been corrupted by Scatters, and later Ribblesdale asked Phyllis whether she had ever slept with him, ‘which she had the sense to deny’. Lutyens brought her Blow’s plans [of Breccles], but as they are not of the house as it is now she will have to go down there to correct them. Is going to the opera.

Train to Breccles.—(1 Nov.) Was kept awake by an air-raid. Is on the way to meet Horner.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—(2 Nov.) She did a lot of business with Horner at Breccles and planted some bulbs. Lutyens will probably come next time.—(3 Nov.) Has had no letter from him for a week, but has replied to his telegram. She played bridge this evening, and yesterday dined with friends and went to a play. Phyllis has gone to Arkers; her relationship with Lord Ribblesdale is still unsettled. Today she lunched with Maud and they went to the opera. Eric says Lloyd George is worried about the effect of the air-raids on public opinion.—(4 Nov.) She spent the day at Taplow. Ettie was on good form.—(5 Nov.) She went to Charing Cross [Hospital] again this morning and found it squalid, but she will only be going there two mornings a week. She had tea with friends and dined and went to a play with Duff, who starts his career at Chelsea Barracks on Monday. Phyllis is dining with Edward, Rib, and Arkers, and as the Viceroy is in London she will probably not come back tonight. Edward is still in love with her, but Venetia doesn’t know whether he has seduced her yet.—(6 Nov.) She lunched with Diana, Duffy, and Edward. Edward and Diana are reconciled. She is giving a dinner tonight. Hugo Wemyss has gone to Paris as Flavia Forbes has been bitten by a mad dog. He is corresponding acrimoniously with Lord Derby about Lady Angela [Forbes], who has been asked to leave France on account of alleged drunkenness.—(8 Nov.) Margot and the ‘old Boy’ [Asquith] were at Hazel’s party last night and asked after Montagu, but Vizee gave her (Venetia) a sour look; she and Bongie are the only ones who have said nothing about Montagu having gone [to India]. Has received his letter from Port Said [B1/144a]. She lunched with Winston and Clemmie, went to see Gladys, then played bridge at Lady Essex’s. Tonight she and Phyllis are dining with the McKennas and then going to a party at the Baroness’s.—(9 Nov.) Has seen his mother and shown her his typed notes [his ‘Diary’]. Phyllis leaves tomorrow.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(11 Nov.) On Friday [9th], after dinner at Cassel’s, she and Margot shared a taxi driven by a Miss Ryder, who had been at the Slade School with Phyllis. At home she found Edward, Bluey, and Phyllis. Edward and Phyllis spent the night together. Phyllis has now left. Today she lunched with friends, including Bluey, who is leaving for Canada next week on ‘air board business’. Has begun painting the silk for Montagu’s bed. Is dining with Cardie and William, who needs another operation.—(12 Nov.) Nash came to lunch, and she dined at Wimborne House. Ivor is having great success with Diana. Has been put in charge of a ward at the hospital.—(13 Nov.) Norah and Nancy Lindsay made an irritating visit in the afternoon.—[14 Nov.] She dined at home last night. Her guests included Cowans, who seemed more than usually hostile to Lloyd George, whose speech [in Paris] is endlessly discussed. She lunched with Willie Tyrrell and Bluey, who also discussed the speech. Has been unable to see Hankey or Eric since Montagu left. Is going tonight to a farewell party for Edward.—[Later.] Rosemary has denied there is much chance of her becoming the future Queen. ‘Oc is home, slightly gassed, & may be going to get both a brigade and a V.C!’—(15 Nov.) She dined with Ava, where she sat next to Josh Wedgwood, who gave her some earnest advice about Bampfylde Fuller’s letter in The Times. Afterwards she played bridge and went to a wedding-party at the Fairbairns’, which she left with the Baroness d’Erlanger, whom she likes. ‘J’aime toujours les maitresses de mes amants.’ She denies, however, that Hugo is her lover, even though Diana and the Baroness suspect it.—(16 Nov.) She dined at Osbert’s new house, and thought him and Sachie ‘a truly strange pair’.—(17 Nov.) She set off to see the Jimmy Rothschilds at Witney, but Dolly met her at the station to tell her that Neil had been fatally wounded, so went to Munstead instead for lunch. On her return home she found Montagu’s Cairo letter [B1/145]. Lloyd George is in a mess over his Air Ministry, but Northcliffe’s letter will do Northcliffe more harm than Lloyd George. Denies that she is unhappy. Last night she dined with the Roy and various guests.—(18 Nov.) Asks about the carpets at Cairo.—(19 Nov.) She lunched with friends at the Savoy, and she and Diana reminisced about lunches there with Neil. She dined with the Baroness, who is having a row with Hugo about some infidelity of his. Has received a letter from Scatters, who has been in action. In the afternoon she went to a ‘ghastly’ party given by Sen in honour of his father [Keshub Chunder Sen], and this evening some friends called briefly on the way to a ball.—(20 Nov.) Wedgwood, who came to lunch, says that yesterday’s debate was a triumph for Lloyd George, and that Asquith’s position of ‘hands off the soldiers’ is unpopular with the Liberals. Has just visited William Rawle, who is convalescing after his operation.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(21 Nov.) Breccles needs a new hot-water supply, so she has planned to go down with Lutyens to the Nobles’ [Wretham Hall] to investigate. Will consult Surtees about further mortgages. This afternoon she went with Phyllis to see Viola's first night, and dined at home with guests.—(22 Nov.) She lunched with Nancy and Sydney, whom she dislikes. She dined [at home] with guests, including Coates, who is still in love with Diana.—(22 Nov.) Is dining with Cardie, K, and Asquith, which she thinks is a good sign. After the hospital she played tennis with Edgar and lunched with Hankey and Masterton, who is increasingly ‘soppy’ about Winston. Both seemed disappointed by the failure of the latest attack. Has just heard that Edward has been killed. Reflects on the number of friends who have been, and may be, killed.—(24 Nov.) Has not seen Diana yet, as she was at K’s and did not come to the hospital. Last night she dined with only Cardie and the Old Boy, and she and Asquith reminisced about Sicily. Today she lunched at the Curzons, where Hardinge and Curzon made friendly remarks about Montagu. She had tea with Viola and Hugo, who plans to start a small theatre with Nigel Playfair. She dined with Duff, and Patrick and Phyllis arrived later. Patrick is worried that he may have to marry Phyllis, but she has a new lover, Edgar Vincent.—(25 Nov.) After the hospital she saw Diana, who is wretched but determined to give Duff as much fun as possible. She lunched and dined with Pat, Duff, and Diana, and were joined by Phyllis and Hugo came in later.—(26 Nov.) She lunched with de Noailles, and went to see K and Frances. Discusses the effects of Edward’s death. She dined at Mansfield Street. Refers to the progress of Montagu’s bed.—(27 Nov.) She lunched at home with guests, including Birrell and Freyberg, whom she could not get to talk to each other; then, after visiting Frances, she went to the cinema with her ‘futurist friend’ Wyndham Lewis, and then to Cardie’s for a farewell party for Oc, though he has now got a fortnight’s extension. It is rumoured that he is engaged to Betty Manners.—(28 Nov.) She had lunch with Waxworks and Mikky, then sewed and read with Diana and Duff. She dined at Claude Lowther’s with Goonie, the Duke of Marlborough (who Duff thinks may be Goonie’s lover), and others. Lowther’s house is lovely, but his bedroom is ridiculous. ‘If you had wanted to caricature a bugger’s bedroom you couldnt have done it differently.’ She returned home to find Diana, Duff, and Pat reading.—(29 Nov.) Lord Lansdowne’s letter [to the Daily Telegraph, calling for a negotiated peace with Germany], more because she doesn’t want to lose anyone else than because she thinks it right. K[atharine] and Viola, who, with Diana, dined with her, disagreed violently on the subject.—(1 Dec.) The King and Queen visited the hospital yesterday and asked after Montagu. The King referred to Mrs Besant as an ‘odious woman’. Afterwards she visited Montagu’s mother and went to a party at the India Office to meet some Indian officers. Birrell, Phyllis, and Blanche dined with her. She and Lutyens are lunching together today, then going off with the Nobles.

Wretham Hall, Thetford.—Describes Wretham Hall and its estate.

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(2 Dec.) She drove with Lutyens to Breccles and they examined the house and discussed what needs to be done. They returned to Wretham for lunch, and are now off to London. (3 Dec.) Has received his letter from Aden [B1/146].

(The first sheet was rewritten on 1 December, the original having been lost.)

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(5 Dec.) Has received his letters from Aden. Urges him to continue sending his Diary, and deplores his idea of retiring from public life. Complains of having to sell all day [at a charity fair at] at the Albert Hall. Last night she dined at Cavendish Square. Discusses the progress of Oc’s ‘matrimonial affairs’. She dined today with Blanche, then went with Cardie and Nellie to a ‘popular’ ball at the Albert Hall.—(6 Dec.) There was a small air-raid last night. She stayed in bed, but Diana had to spend two hours with her mother in a cellar. She dined alone tonight.—(7 Dec.) Is about to set off for Pixton with Diana, Michael, Duff, and Patrick. Work has begun at Breccles.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

Pixton Park, Dulverton.—(8 Dec.) Her party [see A1/179] left London last night, after rushing from a matinee in which Diana was appearing. They slept at Taunton, and arrived at Dulverton to find Mary and Goonie there. The men have gone shooting.—(9 Dec.) They are all feeling ill, and have spent the time working and being read to. Duff and Michael have gone.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.] —(10 Dec.) Diana has the measles, as has Letty. Has been shopping for Christmas presents. Conrad, who called, is ‘utterly gloomy about the war’. Even the fall of Jerusalem is, she admits, little consolation, but she hopes Scatters will send a ‘souvenir’ from there. She dined with Hazel and John Lavery and Ivor Wimborne and they went to the cinema. The Roy made ‘ “hand” advances’ to Hazel in the motor there and back. Hazel claims that when she repulsed him on a similar occasion in Ireland he said, ‘Why do you come and stay here if you mean to do nothing?’, but it is doubtful whether this is true.—(11 Dec.) She went to a ‘ghastly’ lunch at Mrs Lionel Guest’s: ‘all Americans and consequently a noise that entirely bitched one’s powers of hearing or speaking’. She was planning to have only twelve to dinner tonight, but Patrick has asked her to have the ‘coons’ in as it is his last night, so an extra party will be coming.—(12 Dec., 3 a.m.) The evening was a nightmare. There was no piano for the ‘coons’, and everyone crowded into a little room, which became even more congested when others arrived. Eventually two bridge fours were arranged and the rest went to Goonie’s for stunts and dancing.—(Later.) Diana is very poorly. Has just dined at Mrs Keppel’s.—(13 Dec.) Has received his telegram. She dined at the Islingtons’.—(14 Dec.) This afternoon’s party for Indian officers at the Islingtons was a failure, as they chose unsuitable films for them. She dined with K and Frances, who were both off to Hackney after a night shift, then went to a party at Cardie’s flat. After stunts and dancing, they played chemin-de-fer. Duff lost £1600 and, to add to his miseries, has a poisoned finger.—(15 Dec.) Diana is rather better, but her Grace [the Duchess of Rutland] is pretty bad. This afternoon she went to a concert at the Albert Hall to commemorate the First Seven Divisions. After dinner at Ivor W.’s, she came home to find Nancy, Sydney, and Olga with Hugo disguised as a woman, and they spent a couple of hours dressing him in her own clothes.—(16 Dec.) She didn’t go the hospital, as the Duchess was worried she might be carrying measles. They spent the afternoon dressing Hugo up again, and took him to see Diana and Duff. In the evening she saw her mother and others.—(17 Dec.) Has received his letter. Insists that his mission is a success. Diana is much better. Has received a letter from Alan.—(Later.) Constance Rich[ardson], Eric, and Hugo lunched with her. Progress on his curtains is slow. Has received a note from Scatters.—(18 Dec.) Has bought most of the Christmas presents he asked for. When he returns they will have a long party at Breccles.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—Has just recovered from a cold. Duff came to dinner on Friday, and he and Katharine last night. After lunch at Lower Berkeley Street she went with Olga to a concert organised by Bruce Ottley at the A.S.C. camp at Blackheath. Describes the concert and the entertainment in the mess afterwards.—(24 Dec.) Is going to Alderley on Friday. Has bought some presents for her dinner guests tonight. They are going to a party at Nancy’s afterwards.—(25 Dec.) Her party was a success; Hugo’s stunts were marvellous and Birrell was divine. After a little chemin-de-fer some of them went on to Nancy’s for more cards. Is dining with Diana and Duff, then going to the Baroness’s.—(26 Dec.) She had Christmas dinner with Duff and Diana in Diana’s bedroom, and discussed whether a dirty intellectual like McEvoy would be preferable as a lover to a clean ‘turnip-top’ like Lord Derby. Then she and Duffy went to 139 [Piccadilly, the Baroness’s home]. Freyburg says that Winston is becoming unpopular again on account of his rather dogmatic Cabinet memorandum; Haig is said to be furious. [27 Dec?] She gave a dinner-party today, and some other guests joined them later. Constance danced ‘in a state of almost complete nudity’, Hugo almost died doing a Spanish dance, Miss Lillie sang, and the men gambled. Diana has given her a cushion for Breccles, and the Aga a pendant worth about £150.—[28 Dec.?] Is dining with Adèle.

[Alderley.]—Lady Essex’s party was fun. Duff, who was in uniform for the first time, is looking out for a rich mistress but is not inclined to spare much time for one. Has arrived at Alderley. This afternoon the children performed ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ very well. Oliver is expected home on leave soon, Anthony in about three weeks. Lutyens says work has begun on the plumbing at Breccles, and she hopes to have the house furnished in time for an Easter party.—(31 Dec.) Describes her usual daily activities at Alderley. Is working on the curtain for Montagu’s bed. Oliver is expected on Wednesday. The past year has been fun, and she hopes that the next will bring ‘a great Indian success’. Asks when he is due back.—(3 Jan.) Oliver, who has arrived, has been awarded the DSO. ‘He’s been at Passchendael since Oct. which I believe is hell for the Artillery, so I expect he deserves it.’ Has bought a looking-glass.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—(4 Jan.) Has heard that Patrick has been killed. Wonders how many other young men will be killed, and reflects on the effect on Diana, who is away. Cardie, Rawle, Freyberg, and Goonie dined with her. Rawle is in love with Miss Bagnold. Goonie told her of the invention of ‘a form of explosive bullet’. Has received Montagu’s telegram from Bombay.—(5 Jan.) Has started working at the hospital again. She lunched with Dombie[?] and Heseltine. Sylvia’s baby, Juliet, is ill; fortunately, Anthony is expected home soon. Heseltine has offered to do jobs for her while Freeth is away, and she may get him to write to the ‘Coal Controller’, as she is short of coal. Food is also difficult to obtain. Is dining with Katharine.—(6 Jan.) Juliet is out of danger. She lunched today with Frances, then visited Phyllis, who is miserable about Patrick. Cardie, Goonie, and Lionel Cohen came to dinner. She has not had a letter from him for three weeks. Lloyd George seemed significant, and she wonders if there is hope of peace.—(8 Jan.) She lunched at Anne’s yesterday with Juliet, Adèle, and Goonie, and they went to the cinema. She dined with the Burns, and sat next to Reggie, who is more hopeful about peace after Lloyd George’s speech, though he thinks it was intended to cause problems for the Labour Party. Beatrice G. is over from Ireland, where she has put Alice [Lady Wimborne] into the shade by her entertainments. Afterwards she played bridge. Today she lunched with Anne, went to the South Kensington Museum, and dined with Duff, who left early for his duties as a picket officer.—(10 Jan.) Lutyens has sent the altered plans for Breccles. She encloses letters from Surtees on financing them. Diana, Claude Russell, Lord and Lady Islington, Gilbert Russell and his wife [Maud], and Goonie dined with her last night. Diana looked ill, and has taken to bed ill today. Hugo came afterwards, and they discussed his idea for decorating the gallery at Breccles. Today she lunched with Freyling, who leaves tomorrow. Has received Montagu’s letter, and is sad he that he does not expect to be back till April. Stuart has gone to France; ‘I never see Gladys thank God’.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]——Has lost the long letter she was writing to him. Last Saturday she went to Breccles. Discusses the progress of the work there, which is proving expensive. Last night she dined with Winston. Reggie says that Geddes is not coming back from Italy and that Dalziel is to take his place at the Admiralty. Reggie and Winston are on very good terms now. On Friday [8th] she went to a party at Cardie’s given by Bouch, who is home on leave, and on Thursday she gave a dinner-party and they had stunts. Afterwards Ralph [Peto] took some of them on to a party at Ruby’s. Discusses the air-raids, in response to his telegram about the bombs in Queen Anne’s Gate. Has just come back from a day with Dolly and Jimmy. K is dining with her tonight; Bluey is much better. Is eager for Montagu’s return. Is planning to go to Breccles for a holiday. She has been busier than usual this month at Charing Cross and Arlington Street as the sister has been ill. Discusses plans for furnishing the rooms [at Breccles]. Next week Bouch will probably give a farewell party, and the Jimmys may dine on Wednesday.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—Has received letters from him dated between 29 December and 24 January, but one has obviously been lost. Refers to his shooting expeditions and his purchases, and wonders whether he will stop at Basra. After finishing at the Charing Cross Hospital she spent three days at Alderley, where Bluey is convalescing. Last night various friends came to dinner, including Cripps, who was divine, and Sidney Herbert, who is her ‘latest passion’. Eric, with whom she lunched today, says that he and Hankey think that Montagu should go to Mesopotamia; he thinks the Government ‘pretty firm again’. There is no news of progress at Breccles, but the purchase has been completed.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Sir George Trevelyan

National Liberal Club.- His father's letter reached him yesterday, having been forwarded. Is writing to his mother to thank her for her 'great kindness in making us these presents on her birthday'; also thanks his father 'most gratefully' for his 'participation in the plan'. Is writing to Bessie, and hopes she will get his letter tomorrow. No doubt his father will see her soon when she is at Cambo with Julian.

Is going to Anglesey next week to stay with Lascelles Abercrombie, Professor of English Literature at Leeds, 'a fine critic, and a fine poet too, though of late years lecturing has taken up all his time'. Is just going to lunch with 'young [Francis] Birrell'; expects he will also see Birrell's father, whom he 'always like[s] meeting. He is still as charming a talker as ever'.

Before Bessie went away they had just finished reading Orley Farm, which seemed to them 'as fine a novel as any of Trollope's' though some things in the 'trial and the procedure seemed somewhat improbable and even a little absurd. But it is a superb plot'. Will join Bessie at Scarborough later in the month, then return with her and Julian to the Shiffolds.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Sir George Trevelyan

F. W. V. R. C. [Friends War Victims Relief Committee], A. P. O., S. 5, B. E. F., France. - Is spending a 'very pleasant Christmas and New Year' in Paris; they had 'plum-pudding on Christmas evening, though only chicken, not turkey'. Generally the food in Paris is 'quite good, though not cheap'. Francis Birrell has come to Paris 'to edit Reconstruction [the F.W.V.R.C.'s monthly] and manage our Publicity department', and is sharing a room with Robert. He is 'very good company', and Robert imagines that he is 'rather like his father [Augustine Birrell]'; certainly he quite resembles him in appearance, though he is 'much smaller'.

Expects his father has seen George by now; spent 'a very pleasant evening with him when he was on his way through Paris'. Is glad to know that Bessie hopes to come to Welcombe soon with Julian, who 'seems to have developed a good deal during his first term at school'. They are having 'very wet cold weather, and the streets are horribly muddy. Also the Seine is very full, and about the colour of the Tiber in flood'. Paris is 'crowded as never before, and it is impossible to get rooms anywhere'; the 'streets and the metros are packed'. No interesting plays on at the moment, except 'a few good farces'. Notes that '[o]ne really never sees bad acting here, as one does in London', and that even the plays, 'though often trivial and incredibly risqué, are at least well written and well put together'.

Went to the Musée Grevin [showing waxworks] recently; the 'old revolutionary scenes were there still, and looked as well as ever. The new war scenes were good enough, but nothing out of the way.' Sends love to his mother and Aunt Annie.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Sir George Trevelyan

The Shiffolds, Holmbury St Mary, Dorking. - Thanks his father for his 'kind letter of welcome home [12/305]'; found 'everything well' here. The [Sturge] Moores will stay a few days longer; they have been 'very good and easy companions for Bessie through the winter. Julian comes home [from school] on the 8th, and the Moores leave on the 10th. He and Bessie are going to London tomorrow: Bessie to Charles and Molly's, and Robert to the Birrells' house; they lunched there last week and found his friend [Francis Birrell]'s father 'apparently in good health, and a most kind and entertaining host'. Thanks his father for the fifty pounds; has just received notice from the bank [Drummonds] that it has been paid into his and Bessie's account.

Not surprised that his father finds Lucretius III.877-9 difficult; discusses a reading by Lachmann, Munro, and Duff which 'makes everything easy' and which he thinks is right, as 'lines in Lucretius are often transposed'; interesting however that his father 'managed to construe it as it stands'.