Item 96 - Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven

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TRER/9/96

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

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  • 21 Dec - 22 Dec 1899 (Creation)

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Pension Palumbo, Ravello. - There is not sufficient paper in the hotel to answer her long letter as it deserves. Strange that he is not inspired to write Bessie love-poetry, but says he is 'not good at putting difficult and elaborate and wonderful thoughts into verse', which would be needed; will try one day. Sorry that Gredel [Guije] failed. Since he sometimes misses out words in his letters, Bessie need never be shocked by his 'wicked opinions' but can add 'nots' when she pleases and 'convert the sense to please [her] fancy'. Glad she is re-reading [Joseph Henry Shorthouse's] "John Inglesant". Sends her kisses "blown through the ether like waves of light or electricity'. Continues the letter next morning, copying out an extract about Shorthouse from a piece of paper in Mrs Reid's book an extract from a letter from Isabel Balfour; this recalls what his brother [George?] has heard about Shorthouse. The book reminds Bob of Pater's "Marius the Epicurean"; thinks one must have influenced the other; also thinks "Marius" the better book on the whole. Asks his waiter to settle their dispute about Italian grammar, which he does in Bob's favour. Returns to the letter in the afternoon: old Palumbo died this morning, and since his wife did not want Bob to leave, he is staying in a separate part of the house where he is 'quite out of the way'. News has just come that the Cappuccini hotel at Amalfi 'has subsided on a great part of it' and some people have been killed. Writes again in the evening having gone to see the landslip, which was as bad as the rumours; seven or eight people died, and 'part of the end of the hotel had gone'. The people say it is St. Francis' doing, "angry because his monastery had been put to base uses". Had never been to Amalfi before, though this is his third visit; not much to see 'except the people and the beggars', and the Cathedral is 'spoilt by restoring'. Palumbo was dying about the same time as the landslip, and the proprietor of the Cappuccini, a friend, was here comforting Madame Palumbo when the news about the hotel came. 'They say he almost fainted... [and] will probably be ruined, as no one will dare come to his hotel now'. Bob exerted himself greatly on the journey down to Amalfi and back and 'sweeted (in Grandmont language' despite the bitter cold.

Originally enclosing a 'charming letter from [Eddie] Marsh'; his 'first Cambridge friend' who works in the Colonial office 'though, like many there, he does not like the war'; gives a brief character sketch. Has also heard from [Goldsworthy Lowes] Dickinson. Has not heard from [Bernard] Berenson, but has from [Mary] Costelloe, whom he just asked Berenson to tell; 'rather annoying', as he 'care[s] for Berenson very much, and dislike Mrs C.', though it was a 'perfectly proper letter'. Is very troubled by [Lina] Duff Gordon's letter: her wish for his happiness is 'unmistakeably sincere', as she always is, but her reply to his wish for them to remain as good friends is that since he told her nothing about this when he saw her 'constantly' in London last October, things can never be quite the same. It would have been very difficult to tell her, but feels that perhaps he should have done, not because she was an 'intimate friend' - the only one of his friends he told, 'for special reasons', was Fry - but because Mrs Costelloe had been spreading rumours that she was in love with him. Perhaps this was true, and he should have realised, although he does not think he gave her reason to believe he was in love with her; it is possible that Mrs Costelloe has stirred up trouble, as 'she has a great influence over Miss D. G.' and he believes her 'really to be a bad woman, though with many good qualities'. Is going to see Palumbo's funeral start for Naples. Writes again in the evening, after writing at 'my cliff, the Cembrone [Cimbrone]'. Quotes from a letter from Tom Moore: Moore thinks he will 'make a good husband' but spoil all his children. Has received Bessie's next letter, but not the photographs. He can skate, but not very well. Does not think Buller's defeat will make much difference to British attitudes to the [Second Boer] war; discussion of the war; does not think it would be good if all of South Africa were governed by the Dutch, would not object to 'an independent Dutch South Africa if it were well governed, and the natives treated properly' which currently happens in the Cape but not in the Transvaal. Methuen and probably Buller are not equal to the people against them, but this does not mean the English have fought badly; however, she need not worry that he is 'becoming Jingo'. Sorry Bessie has missed Tonina [van Riemsdijk]'s violin; when one good enough becomes available, will get it for her. They must visit Ravello together; Madame asked if they would come here on their honeymoon, which they will have to discuss; she intends to keep the hotel for some years at least.

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