Item 271 - Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Edward Marsh

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Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Edward Marsh


  • Mar 1895 (Creation)

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Mons Martius, Corpo di Cava. - Starts this letter on top of 'an extinct volcano' he has named 'Mons Martius' in Marsh's honour; had meant to finish it here, but the mountain is 'at such an unclimable angle' and there are 'such interesting insects' in the trees that he will have to finish it in the valley. Has given the mountain Marsh's name as some consolation for him 'being unable to come to a place which is without exaggeration the most perfect place in the world'. Describes a local monastery [La Trinità della Cava] with 'a very valuable library', a school for young Italian aristocrats, a 'fair picture gallery' and a church with an organ 'said to be one of the best in Italy'. Bob goes to the abbey, takes out a 'huge Dante' from the library, and is given a cell 'overlooking a precipice, with a waterfall' in which to work, though he usually employs the Dante as a 'mask' to do his own work. Some days he works or reads outdoors; the hills, all volcanic craters, take 'about half an hours easy climbing', and give 'splendid' views from the top. He finds the monks 'very pleasant' though conversation 'in the hash of Italian Latin and French' which they have to use is 'rather difficult'. The pension where he currently the only guest is 'enormous'; the people are nice, but cannot speak French, except for the waiter Celafino. Fortunate that he is 'a good sort, and quite well educated', as he is 'the only person' with whom Bob can have anything like a conversation; he is a protestant, 'converted by an evangelical English household at Naples', so Bob 'pretend[s] to be a zealous churchman' and they both 'laugh at the priests and their fooleries'.

Supposes Marsh is in London now; asks him to write and say if there is anything new 'in the way of theatres, books etc'. When he left, everyone was reading Max Nordau's "Degeneracy", though 'swearing at him' as they read it; they 'recognise most of the moods and symptoms as parts of their own personality and like to see their minds disected [sic] and analysed though they quarrel with him when he tells them that they are hopeless cases'. He himself thinks the book is 'supremely absurd, though fascinatingly interesting, and cleverly written'. 'Poor Roger Fry has been quite conquered by it' and is persuaded he is 'a mattoid and a circulair and a hundred other things'; Marsh should go to see Fry's latest portraits, especially the one of 'Miss [Sybil] Palgrave which is in a new and more ambitious style'. Has heard that [Robert?] Kitson was in Rome, and has written to invite him for a few days, but does not know if he is still there and only has poste restante to write to. Asks Marsh, if he knows Kitson's address, to drop him a line. Feels that he should 'not be living alone in such an Eden without someone else to share'; would end up praying to God 'as Adam di, for a help meet, and would willingly sacrifice a rib or two' to have a 'sufficiently charming Eve' to talk English to. Hopes Marsh and family are well. Postscript with address: Hotel Scapolatielli, Corpo di Cava, Italia.

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