Item 274 - Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Edward Marsh

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TRER/15/274

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Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Edward Marsh

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  • 8 Apr 1895 [?] (Creation)

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Hotel Scapolatielli, Corpo di Cava (written on printed notepaper for the Hôtel de Londres, Gênes - crossed out). - Marsh's letter gave Bob much pleasure, since the 'stupid people at Naples' have not yet sent his first on; his address 'hints fascinating suggestions of rustic English scenery, and milk drunk and mild-maids beflirted in dairies'. Asks if Marsh is alone, or whether this letter is '"solus ad solum", as Flaubert used to write to Maxime Ducamp'. Read [William?] Archer's review of the plays produced by the Independent Theatre [Society] in the "Pall Mall Budget", and supposes it was 'in some slight degree inspired by' Marsh's; hopes this 'wonderful pale-faced black-haired [man: Lugné-Poe, see 15/322]' will still be in London when he returns at the end of the month; asks if it was Titian's portrait of Ariosto Marsh was reminded of. Has read Maeterlinck's "Intruse"; did not feel anything strongly for the writer, but would not like to have written the play: did not think the 'poetical or romantic element to which realism was totally sacrificed... was not quite good enough', that Maeterlink was 'not the right man to do it well, but that he could imaging 'a real poet doing something very wonderful in that line'. Glad Oswald [Sickert] 'has seen the last of those Beautiful Englanders' ["Beautiful Britain", published by the Werner Company]; remembers Marsh talking about Sickert's second novel a while ago and thought he had said it was finished, so asks whether this is a third. Asks whether [Stanley] Makower's book is out yet.

Marsh seems 'to have been going the round of our distinguished men pretty thoroughly'; makes Bob 'writhe with envy to read your account; would particularly like to see [Robert] Bridges, and means to make Roger [Fry], Bridges' nephew, take him one day. Has a book of Bridges' verse with him here, which is 'very readable and at times very beautiful'; Fry is 'enthusiastic' about him, and reads Bob passages aloud from "Prometheus [the Firegiver]"; Bob thinks 'a calmness and gentleness of tone and harmony about him... seems to make him a sort of painters poet'; hopes Marsh was 'not badly shown up' for his 'neglect' of Bridges' recent books. A man called [Henry Charles] Beeching lives with Bridges [he in the Rectory at Yattendon, Bridges in the manor house there; Beeching married Bridge's niece] and 'has just published a volume of milky poetry for which Roger has done a frontispiece' ["In a Garden and Other Poems"]; Roger says they quarrel with each other 'off and on in a mild chronic sort of way'. Asks whether Marsh saw Beeching.

Is living an 'ideal sort of life here'; describes his daily routine of exercise, study and meals; he eats omelettes, risotto, 'some wonderful things they call fritelli', for which he gives instructions and states his intention to continue making them in England. His work is 'just as mysterious' to himself as it is to Marsh; does not have the 'faintest idea what it is going to turn out' as; the plot is a 'puzzle' to him, the style is he knows 'vicious and unnatural as a rule' though he hopes it is good sometimes, and the important thing is to get it finished. Has the greatest difficulty finding names for his characters; his hero is called Benedict, 'an awfull name... which mercifully shortens into Bendy'. Badly wants a name for 'a sort of Jim Stephen who has not gone mad' but has achieved nothing due to 'an incorrigible laziness and want of enterprise'; he is in danger of losing his wife to the hero. Bob was just creating a character called Paul who was turning out 'without my intending it, uncommonly like you'; Marsh's letter has made him realise with 'horror' what he was doing and he may have to take Paul out. The character is engaged to a very charming girl who is like someone Bob knows. Hopes to be back in England in about three weeks; intends to 'plunge into an incredible carreer of gluttony [sic] and Pantegruelizing'.

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Note

The date of the letter reads most easily as '1896', but references to performances of Maeterlinck by the Independent Theatre and the books mentioned, and especially the mention of 'your hill' [cf 15/271] suggests that the date should rather be 1895.

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