Item 168 - Letter from Jonathan Sturges to R. C. Trevelyan

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Letter from Jonathan Sturges to R. C. Trevelyan


  • 12 Dec 1899 (Creation)

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Long's Hotel, New Bond Street, London, W. - Bob's fiancée's name [des Amorie van der Hoeven] is a 'mouthful but... a delicious one'; likes 'those old French Dutch names in all their romantic associations', and tells Bob not to 'swallow it completely but just add to it [his] own charming patronymic'. Has always liked Dutch women, and has known two 'beautiful in body & soul in a very special way'; one married an Englishman and died five years ago in Java, the other he loved 'as a boy at Heidelberg' but has heard nothing of for many years; they 'stand in [his] memory as beautiful shades', so Bob has 'nothing to "overcome"' in him, and he also has 'faith' in him. Looks forward to meeting Bob's fiancée and trying to 'make her "see" [him] -"J.S." - a poor thing but his own'. All the more pleased at the news as Bob has been for some months 'blown upon by many rumours' about his 'dark purposes' from friends whom he will not name; is glad their 'tips' did not come off and that he was right to keep 'putting [his] money' on Bob's connections in Holland. Also distrusts the same friends' reports of 'McTaggart & his Daisy Bird' that on arriving in England, McTaggart sent his wife to stay with his aunt at Guildford and went himself to Cambridge, where he 'plunged into a prolonged debauch of philosophical conversation' and showed no sign of wanting to 'resume his conjugal duties'. Alys Russell was so sorry for Daisy that she went to see her and told her that 'if she had the slightest spirit she would return to her profession as a nurse'; Mrs Whitehead then invited her to stay with them at Grantchester, where 'McT was induced occasionally to come out and dine', though he said it was too far to come to sleep; it seems he is also reluctant to take a house but wants to keep his college rooms. Even if this is not true it is 'very comic': as is Constance Fletcher's new play, which he went to see recently with Henry James. 'Mrs Pat [rick Campbell]' played the heroine 'admirably'; they were in the front row and 'H.J. fairly blushed at the languorous glances she cast upon him!'; the play is very funny, but since it has 'no art in the great sense, cracks of course in its solution, which is only arrived at by turning it into farce'.

Has not read St[ephen Phillips's play ["Paolo and Francesca"], and is unlikely to, being put off by the 'too unanimous' praise and having read the extracts. But the 'B[ritish] P[ublic] must have a poet, and since W[illiam] Watson's correct attitudes in the Dreyfus case... could not make them forget his wickedness in the Armenian business', S. Philips seems likely to fill the bill'; he is also prolific. The [Second Boer] war sickens him: though if England got into a 'really tight place' he would turn about and become 'violently pro-British', he cannot help looking at the Boers as 'antique heroes'. Hears that Frank Costelloe is dying of cancer and has left a 'perfectly hateful will'; knows the details but has promised to keep them secret. Sees John Waldegrave a great deal, and becomes fond of him; was sorry to miss [Desmond] MacCarthy when he came to see him. Waldegrave wants him to visit his father's after the New Year, but he thinks that if he is able to leave Town his best Christmas proposal is from the Thorolds at Torquay.

His own 'poor old father' has written imploring him to spend the winter with him at St. Augustine in Florida; there is a 'Turgeneffian melancholy in the thought' that he cannot really explain to his father why it would 'kill' him. Bob has chosen the 'only true solutions... of our vital problems' and he is sure that in the 'limited & human sense of the word' Bob will be happy as it is unlikely he himself 'ever shall be'. The '"man of feeling", the man with an ear for life, can only find the rhythm of it in Love or in the Church; for Art, which busies itself (in spite of Logan [Pearsall Smith]) with life so directly' cannot take its 'acolyte far enough away from joy & sorry to make him self-sufficing'. Apologises for growing 'platitudinal'. John Waldegrave tells him his 'preference for memoirs to works of fiction is as certain a sign of old bachelordom as [his] cry of "Cras amet"!'

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