Item 55 - Letter from H. J. C. Grierson to R. C. Trevelyan

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Letter from H. J. C. Grierson to R. C. Trevelyan


  • 20 Dec 1945 (Creation)

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12 Regent Terrace, Edinburgh. - Very good of Trevelyan to remember him [by sending this year's "From the Shiffolds"]; likes the 'sincerity and simplicity' of his expression and the 'real beauty of the imagery and rhythm'.. Wishes he could reply 'in kind', but has nothing at the moment; hopes later to send what he has been 'amusing' himself with preparing with 'an old House [Christ Church, Oxford] friend, an 'Anthology of Introductions, Prefaces, Dedications' which 'strike a strong personal note' ["The Personal Note, an Anthology of First and Last Words", edited by Grierson with Sandys Wason], such as Johnson in his "Dictionary" or Keats in "Endymion". Would like Trevelyan to read his 'Introductio[n] on Introductions being a Preface to Prefaces'; as he will know, the Preface is 'often or generally the last part of the work'. Has borrowed T. S. Eliot's 'In my beginning is my end' [from "East Coker", the second of Eliot's "Four Quartets"] as a motto; this is 'rather a flippant use of what he treats so solemnly, but the poetry of recurring time or timelessness is beyond [Grierson'; he does however like Eliot's poem 'in a way'. Has heard from Mrs Russel[l] about 'poor Logan Pearsall Smith's illness', though he sounds to be 'rather better' lately; has been re-reading Pearsall Smith with 'equal pleasure on Donne and Carlyle and Milton' and praises his 'good sense and real appreciation'. Mrs Russell says Trevelyan and Desmond [MacCarthy] had visited them recently; he hopes Desmond is well, and will 'soon get a freer room in the S. T. ["Sunday Times"]'. He himself is 'so lame that going round the shops is a duty' he shirks. Has been busy with Dutch poems composed during the occupation mainly by imprisoned young men 'awaiting certain or possible death'; a gread deal has been published and 'the tone is amazing, the tone and the form'. Has only been lent the books, now 'very rare and expensive', or he would have tried to create good translations; has sent an article with 'some quotations and prose' to the "Spectator". Thinks the editor [Wilson Harris] may not accept this: he 'does not care for [Grierson]' as he thinks [his] "English Bible" was not pious enough'. Will broadcast on the 11 January, and may also say a word 'with some application to Scotland'. Wonders how 'poor Gilbert Murray is getting on; 'the "Scotsman" took fright [at a recent illness?] and a friend had to prepare an appreciation to be ready for eventualities'. Has a 'great regard' for Murray himself; they are both turning eighty next month.

Had a visit in June from his 'French daughter' with her youngest son Nicolas, and from his 'Dutch daughter' and her family in November. Alice's daughter from her first marriage [with Alexander Voormolen] has 'grown a lovely young woman;, but was 'seized by infantile paralysis'. She has recovered well, and will now be for a few months at the Wingfield Hospital near Oxford, where Dr [Josep] Trueta is a 'great authority on the disease and its treatment'. Will be alone this Christmas, but his daughters in England may come up for his birthday. Likes Trevelyan's 'cat poem ["Pusska"]; has a 'handsome cat, very independent and superior, but quite friendly'. Hopes Mrs Trevelyan has 'good news of her friends [in the Netherlands?].

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