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Childers, Robert Erskine (1870-1922), author and politician
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Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Edward Marsh

Trinity [College, Cambridge]. - Thanks Marsh for the ticket; would be delighted to come to dinner on Monday. Has sent [Robert Erskine?] Childers his gloves; on going to Marsh's room to get them, he found 'the Bedder and the Help feasting on bread and marmalade and tea. They were very apologetic', though he does not see why. Asks if Marsh can come to see 'Mrs Tancray' [Arthur Wing Pinero's "The Second Mrs Tanqueray", first performed on 27 May 1893] on Wednesday or Saturday. Notes in a postscript that 'it is a case of "Vae, puto, deus fio" [Vespasian's last words, according to Suetonius]"

Letter from Edward Marsh to R. C. Trevelyan

Dun Bull Hotel, Mardale, Via Penrith. (printed notepaper with photograph of the inn). - Meant to write to Trevy last Sunday, but since Barran and Childers 'forestalled' him he waited. They were all glad to hear 'how happy everyone is at Cambridge' . Childers and Malim are at church. They are 'mourning the departure of Cony [William Conybeare?]' whom Trevy will see before he gets this letter, but Barran will return tomorrow; he has 'been revelling at Winchester, and turned aside to go to a garden party at home'. Childers has 'turned us all into fisherman'; Marsh himself 'became perfectly brutal when I'd seen 3 trout knocked on the head'; he got a fish out of the water, but was unable to land it. Has not yet finished [Meredith's] "Vittoria"; has been reading "Harry Richmond" [also by Meredith], 'one of the liveliest & most delightful books' he knows. Is now reading [Zola's] 'Débâcle', as Trevy should; wishes he had a map of Sedan. Childers has 'gone perfectly wild over Balzac. They went to Seatoller and Mrs Pepper was 'very affable'; the Miss Peppers have 'become goddesses... divinely tall etc'; Trevy 'should have been there for the treacle pudding, which surpassed all its previous manifestations'. Their landlady and cook here, Mrs Hudson, also 'has real genius, besides being like a picture by Romney'.

Letter from Edward Marsh to R. C. Trevelyan

Grimsby Farm, Long Lane, Coldash, Newbury. - Hopes Trevy has received the letter he wrote to Naples, otherwise he will think Marsh 'rather a beast'. Glad Corpo di Cava was not snowed under, since it has turned out to be 'so delightful'; he himself would have 'preferred Capri for the sake of Tiberius' [see 15/318]. Has just got away from London and finished his first day of work here; his 'flesh crept to such a degree' when he woke on Monday night and started to think about his tripos [examinations] that it 'must have moved on about an inch all round'. Stayed in London a little longer than he should have done because of a 'superior French company' who performed [Ibsen's] "Rosmersholm" and "Master Builder" and a play by Maeterlinck under the direction of M. [Aurélien-François-Marie] Lugné -Poé who 'seems to be a descendant of Edgar Poe'. He is 'a very beautiful man with a pale face & black hair', and reminds Marsh of a 'portrait of some poet', perhaps Poe himself; he 'acts very respectably' and played the Master Builder as 'an American with a straggling beard & a drunken complexion' and 'quite revolutionized' Marsh's idea of the part, since 'the rather vulgar arrogant manner he put on in certain parts' made the character seem more consistent than 'the suavity of Lewis Waller'. Asks if Trevy has ever read Maeterlinck, as it is 'useless to try and explain what he's like' if not; in the 'mixture of great simplicity with an entire rejection of realism' he thinks it goes back to 'the Burne Jones & Morris kind of thing'. Sat next to William Archer, who was 'very nice' to him. Saw many friends at the Ibsen plays: [Erskine] Childers, Crompton [Llewelyn Davies], Gerald Duckworth, J[ohn] Waldegrave, 'the Babe' [William Haynes Smith?] etc. Thinks the Independent Theatre must be 'the worst managed concern in the world': the performances usually begin late 'after the curtain has gone up two or three times, to encourage the audience. You're never safe from the irruption of a cat in the most moving scenes', the actors miss their cues, or the curtain does not go down at the end of the act. The man who is called the Acting Manager [Charles Hoppe] is 'the greatest crook [he] ever met with in a responsible position', who seems unable to sell tickets without asking for assistance and did not even know how many acts there were in "Rosmersholm". Marsh took the Verralls to that play; comments on Arthur Verrall's reaction to theatre: 'he never is, or lays himself out to be, in the least moved by a play' but responds to 'the cleverness or stupidity with which it is written'.

Very glad that George [Trevelyan] got his scholarship, though there was no doubt he and Buxton would; 'very hard luck on [Ralph] Wedgwood. Went to see [Charles] Sanger yesterday in his new rooms at Hare Court. No-one has heard 'anything of [Bertrand] Russell for some time'. Only saw Oswald [Sickert], who had influenza, not serious, once; he has just got 'free from the Werner Company, which has used up the Beauties of Britain, & gone on to Paris [ie, finished publishing "Beautiful Britain]'; hopes he will have time for his novel now. [Maurice] Baring took Marsh to supper with Edmund Gosse on Sunday: a 'most amusing man', whose conversation is 'described in Stevenson's essay on conversation ["Talk and Talkers"] under the name of Purcell. He was in the teakettle mood'. Met [Henry] Harland, the editor of the "Yellow Book" there; thought him 'an awful little man', but 'on getting accustomed to his manner' next day he thought him 'like-able on the whole'. Hopes to go to supper next Sunday with 'the even more distinguished [Robert] Bridges', though he has not read his recent works so 'feels rather ill-equipped'. Met John Davidson briefly recently; he 'seemed a genial and light hearted little man, with a nice Scotch accent'.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Caroline Trevelyan

Hôtel Floresta, Taormina [headed notepaper]:- Will return to England at the end of the month: would like to join some friends - Marsh, Barran, and Childers - and possibly Charlie, who are going for a few days’ walking tour in Yorkshire. May stop a day or two at Rome, but does not mean to stay anywhere long. Was ‘very glad to learn that C[harlie] had been coopted’ - understands that he has not been elected ‘by a constituency. It shows that they must think a lot of him’. Met an ‘acquaintance’ of Charlie’s the other day, a Miss [Lena] Milman, who writes and translates Dostoevsky; she met Charlie at Lord Crewe’s, and ‘chiefly remembers him as an enthusiast for Jane Austen’. Supposes Georgie will be back [from Madeira] around the same time he returns, having been ‘further afield in this “grand terraqueous spectacle” [Wordsworth] than any of the family than Papa’, since he does not remember their mother having ‘ever ventured beyond Naples or Vienna’.

The Italians ‘have had a terrible disaster [the great defeat by the Ethiopians at Adwa] and there is some talk of the throne having received a dangerous jar’: it is too soon to tell, but certainly many Italians ‘especially in the North are republicans at heart’; Crispi [the Prime Minister] has resigned. Hopes ‘Uncle Sam will stick to his guns about Cuba. That will be so much better than having a senseless shindy with us’. Is ‘anxious’ to hear how the news sounds to her in England: ‘out here they are mere shadows of events, for it is only when history can be talked about and over hauled in conversation that it becomes real’.

The weather has not always been brilliant, though they ‘have not been siroccoed for a week on end again’; is finding it ‘very easy to catch a chill’, as nights can be cold and ‘there are no such things as fires’; still, it is easy to get rid of chills, and he is ‘keeping quite well’. Has discovered something ‘about Papist priests. They dispense with fasting when at an hotel, because table d’hôte does not provide them with a sufficiency of good fish and vegetables’. Also, they are ‘passing fond of Madeira’. Is ‘quite priest-ridden’, though the two in his hotel are ‘the only two of any intelligence and conversation’, and he is ‘deadly sick of watching “The fat and greasy citizens sweep in / To sate their sordid souls at table-d’hôte”’. This is a quotation from ‘a sonnet built out of quotations’ which he and Bertram ‘architected for the Westminster two years ago on the Wengen (?) Alp’.