Item 93 - Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven

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TRER/9/93

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Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven

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  • 14 Dec - 15 Dec 1899 (Creation)

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Pension Palumbo, Ravello, presso Amalfi. - Filthy weather, as it has generally been since he arrived; has sent off his 'interminable commentary' on [Thomas Sturge Moore's] "Danaë", and has been reading Byron's play "Cain"; finds it 'surprisingly fine', though there are great faults, as in all of Byron; does not agree with Goethe's claim that Byron 'is a child the moment he begins to think'. Always pleased when he finds good things in Byron, as he is much criticised nowadays; people do not really read him, or 'only his inferior early things, e.g. Childe Harold'. Teases Bessie, pretending that 'an unconscionable young lady' keeps 'tormenting him with a stupid school-girl correspondence' and there is no telling where her reading of Plato may lead her. Is sorry that Bessie is having so bad a time with the dentist; best to go through with it in the end. Dined at Mrs Reid's last night, hearing 'local tales about brigands etc' and drinking good wine. They have 'some wonderful cats, the most beautiful [he] has ever seen'; would like to get 'one of the family some day'. Delighted to hear about [the birth of Bessie's niece] Amanda Röntgen; Bessie's aunt told him first, sends thanks for her letter. Copies out poems by Vaughn [sic: Henry Vaughan, "The Retreat"], and Blake ["Infant Joy"]. Will finish this letter and 'per-haps, as Grandmont says' send it by the early post. Is glad to have Bessie's photograph but wants the bigger one when she gets them.

Finishes the letter next day. Bad weather again; is not in good spirits as his host Palumbo is dangerously ill; Palumbo has suffered from the same paralysis before and may recover; he is a 'very good fellow' and Bob will be sorry if he dies; pities his wife and daughter. Has just read the news of the great British losses at Ladysmith; does not know whether this means the town has fallen, but it looks as though Methuen was not strong enough to relieve it; if Redvers Buller does not do better than Methuen, expects Ladysmith will fall in a few weeks and would wish that if it would lead to the reopening of peace negotiations, but this seems unlikely. Says Bessie 'deserve[s] a whipping' for interpreting his jealousy of the lovers in his carriage as a desire to hug his female fellow-travellers. Is very glad she likes the "Symposium" so much; discusses it briefly and suggests other dialogues by Plato she could read. Copies out Blake's "Infant Sorrow" and "Cradle Song". [His brother] Charlie's letter was very nice; is sure she will like him, and he 'evidently means to like [her]'. Reminds her that the new century does not begin until 1901. Glad her practising is going well.

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