Scope and content
Hôtel Floresta, Taormina [headed notepaper]:- Will start back towards England next Wednesday or Thursday, stopping perhaps for a few days at Rome; wants to be back by the end of the month. The weather has been ‘delicious for a while now’, but he is ‘a little tired of the place’, probably as he is now accustomed to the ‘strange sights that one sees in such a Southern climate’ and ‘no more moved by a cactus’ than he would be ‘by an oak tree in England’ - for which he is beginning ‘to feel a bit of a longing’.
The ‘priest element is still predominant’ at his hotel: a ‘high-church Anglican has arrived’, and he can ‘hear [Edward Sheridan] Purcell’s Manning being discussed on the terrace’ as he writes. Miss [Lena] Milman, ‘from the tower of London [her father was Major there]’ is also staying here; she was ‘deafened by the explosion in the Tower, and is spoken to and speaks in a loud voice’. One of the two Roman Catholic priests [see 46/45] is her cousin, and they ‘converse during meals with the voice of John Burns addressing an open-air meeting’: since they ‘discuss most topics, and pretty freely, the sober visitors are much diverted or else shocked’. Her cousin is ‘in an indirect manner’ rather like ‘the hero of a late story of George Moore, *John Norton’ - or ‘something like him, for the hero is an odious person, and the story too for that matter’. Miss Milman is a ‘friend and disciple of George Moore’s’ and once told him about her ‘priestly cousin, whom G. M. promptly transmogrified into the most detestable portrait… in his not over-choice gallery of characters’.
When he returns to England, Robert will ‘have had enough scrambling over the globe for some time’; will not go to Greece in July with Fry, Dickinson, and Wedd as he had hoped. Hopes Georgie will be ‘fit for his tripos when he returns’.