Scope and content
I Tatti, Settignano, Florence. - He and Bessie are just starting for Ravello, and will arrive tomorrow evening. The last few days' weather has been 'perfect', and they have had a 'very pleasant time with the Berensons'. They do not see much of Florence, since the house is some miles outside, but 'go in sometimes in the morning', and they see 'a good deal of amusing people, English, American, or Italian', who live in or near Florence. One day a 'future Henry James would find an excellent subject in a life of Berenson, after the memoirs of Story's life [a reference to James' William Wetmore Story and His Friends].
Has recently been reading Butler's Way of All Flesh, which might interest his father; perhaps it is 'rather depressing reading', but the 'satire on clergymen etc... is at times masterly. Butler was apt to be perverse and cranky', which comes out in the book, but it is 'very sincere' and has for Robert 'the fascination of a pyschologist's autobiography' as he imagines the book is 'autobiographical to a great extent', though expects 'the incidents... are mostly invented'.
Their [new] house seems to be getting on well; plans are now being made for the stables, which will be 'quite small'. Wonders whether his father's farmers 'will get a visit from the Tyneside wolf'; does not 'quite understand where his haunts are', but he supposes nearer Hexham than his father's lands. He and Bessie are both well, and looking forward to Ravello; mentions the sighting of a wolf by a friend walking in the mountains near there, which 'made off as fast as it could'. The few wolves left 'never seem to do any harm, at least they don't attack people'.
Asks his father to tell his mother that he took Fry's drawing of him to Hampstead, and that Fry 'will see what can be done for it. Mrs Fry seems very well again now'. The other day they went to see Mrs Ross, who 'sang some Tuscan songs on her guitar, with great vivacity and still with a good deal of voice left'. She always asks after his father. He and Bessie 'find her amusing, and rather like her, in spite of her being rather coarse and often very absurd'. They both send love, also to C[harles] and M[olly] if they are still at Wallington.