Item 142 - Letter from Bramine Hubrecht to R. C. Trevelyan

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TRER/17/142

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Letter from Bramine Hubrecht to R. C. Trevelyan

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  • 31 Oct 1899 (Creation)

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Florence. - She and her husband have often thought and talked about Trevelyan since he left them, wondering what the future will hold; they 'must leave that to dear Bessie'. Things will be hard for them both now: Bessie will be in 'isolation' at home, as she will not be able to discuss this matter with Bramine's parents or sister unless she is 'absolutely clear in her own mind - it would be mental torture'. The 'terrible business of the [Second Boer] war' will also make an impression on her, feeling as she already does so strongly 'the wrench which marriage with a foreigner would be'. The worst thing about the war is 'the hypocracy [sic] with which all the English statesmen seem to be saturated', preparing for six months while giving the Boers the 'illusion' that an agreement could be made; and then there are speeches like that of Balfour and 'other so called honourable and religious gentleman'. Meanwhile, Harcourt 'protests, but will vote for the money [further military funding]! Is there then no generous mind left?' Are the English so much come down since Lord Chatham?'. In Chatham's day, however, the war was 'against men of the same race' rather than 'those stupid Boers, who live according to their antiquated notions derived from the old testament'; is 'bitter, very bitter, against the wicked Government', however much she likes Trevelyan, whom she calls 'my dear fellow'. As for Queen Victoria, 'one sees how, by being a sort of machine all one's life, one becomes one really at last'; wonders why she did not appeal to the nation; also criticises the other rules who sent ambassadors to the peace conference and 'do not move an inch to help against war', it is a sign of how low the 'moral standard' everywhere seems to be. In time the world will be 'one big Exchange' with no poetry, and nothing mattering but money and greed.

Returns to the letter after several days, now in Rome; meanwhile the British Parliament, apart for a few Irish representatives, have voted funds for the war; cannot understand the Whigs. She cannot sleep at night, and having 'loved the English so', nearly hates them now; cannot write to Bessie about Trevelyan, and in her place 'could never consent to give up my birthright of Dutchwoman, to become a subject of that wicked mecreant [sic] the prince of Wales', who 'sells his soul and that of his subjects for the gold of Africa' and will not even go out to fight himself. Has just received a letter from Bessie, which says Trevelyan is going to see her; prays that if he wins her love his influence may 'widen and deepen her love for all beings and things'. Feels 'very responsible in this matter', since it was she who brought them together, and Bessie is 'half sister, half child, exceedingly dear'. Would be 'dreadful if she became tainted by what seems... the national vice of the English = selfdeceiving egotism, overbearingness, hypocrisy' which they call 'commonsense'. Begs his pardon for speaking so openly, which she does as she knows he has 'width of mind enough to shake off all chauvinistic feeling'; perhaps he does not think the opposition should have refused the funds or resigned.

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