- 22 Dec - 24 Dec 1899
19 Prinsegracht, the Hague; addressed to Bob at Pension Palumbo, Ravello, presso Amalfi, Italia. - They have heard from Tuttie [Maria Hubrecht] that she had caught a bad cold, could not work, and decided to go now to Taormina as Bramine [Hubrecht] had proposed she should come and spend a month with them; thinks this is a good thing since she thinks it was parting from Maud [Howard] which upset Tuttie more than the cold; it 'really is a most morbid friendship'; discusses Tuttie's character, and the tension when she and her sister Mien came to live with their uncle and aunt after their mother's death and Tuttie had much of the responsibility of looking after them since 'she was far too young and domineering'. Reflections on the time that children grow up and do not take their relatives for granted, along with the varied nature of her own experience so far. Has to go and prepare as she is going with her uncle and aunt to a dinner party with the vice president of the State Council, a friend of her uncle's. Dreamt last night that she and her sister arranged to share husbands, though she herself was rather reluctant; later she had a still worse dream in which there was no Bob and a man 'like a young Dane I met last summer, a cousin of the Hartmann's' was kissing her 'and I even enjoyed it!!'.
Writes next day that she has received Bob's letter, and the enclosure from his friend [Thomas Tettrell?] Phelps which is charming; remembers what he said about Phelps' 'prophetic jokes' and hopes the one about the Hollanders does not come true; promises she will not get fat as she is 'too bony' and anyway has no figure to lose. Describes the dinner party last night: one of her neighbours at table was from Zeeland and told her stories about the customs of the peasantry there; the host was also from Zeeland and they usually have a very strong feeling for their province. There was some talk of Bob; a 'fat gentleman, the secretary of the Council' seemed to have read nearly all of the Trevelyan family's literature and asked many questions; their host proposed a tost to their engagement. Looks forward to reading 'the Paolo and Francesca play which is so much the rage' [by Ste[hen Phillips]; wonders if she will feel as critical about it as Bob does; will also read "The Merchant of Venice" and re-read "Romeo and Juliet", though she has a lot to read and the Hague is not as quiet as Ravello. Laetita Ede has sent her "The Golden Age" by Kenneth Grahame; asks if Bob knows it. Is glad the weather is better and he has got some work done; the Germans call a bad poet a 'Wasserpoet' or waterpoet; she could call him a 'weather-poet' as he 'can only do good work W[eather] P[ermitting'; apologises for teasing him. Asks what play he is working on; knows it is not the one he showed her a scene of. Now Bob has read Ambro [Hubrecht's] article he is 'clever & scientific again' and can let her go to lectures in peace. Gives a satirical sketch of his character, then says she is cross today, firstly for spilling tea down her new dress and secondly as she had bad dreams again last night.
Continues the letter on Sunday afternoon. Ambro and his wife are coming tonight or tomorrow to spend the week, with their children who are 'sure to make things very lively'; unfortunately the thaw has set in so they will not get much skating, which they love. Has read of the destruction of the Capuccini hotel at Amalfi by a landslip; asks if this is true and whether there has been anything felt at Ravello. Her uncle has written to Lord Reay to ask about necessary formalities for the marriage and has had a reply giving some but not all the answers he requires; Lord Reay has made inquiries about Mr [William Edward Hartpole] Lecky's marriage, as his wife is a Dutchwoman [Elisabeth van Deden] also with some landed property; they held the civil marriage in the Hague in the Town House and at the English Embassy. Hopes this will be enough for them; an 'English church marriage' would be 'very unpleasant in this case'; hopes he feels the same; would like to leave out as much 'conventionality for the world's sake' as possible. If they want the Grandmonts to be there, it will have to be after May, while it will need to be before August for the Röntgens to be present. Her uncle will write to Bob's father as soon as he knows exactly how things stand. Asks how [Pasquale] Palumbo is doing, and whether Bob had a good Christmas.