E. du Perron
Oxford, 17 oktober 1929
xvii. x. xxix.
My dear Edward, -
The disclosure of your real name has come too late. When you told me you were ‘Eddy’, - I immediately jumped to conclusions, & mentally baptised you. ‘Eddy’ was impossible. First of all, an ‘Eddy’ français is usually a rather foolish young snob who plays tennis in a very elegant way - & wears loud ‘pullovers’. - The ‘Eddy’ anglais is, on the other hand, a very plebeian person. - So you see ... Besides, you are exactly what an ‘Edward’ should be: you have dignity & reflection & sympathy - which is the complete ‘Edward’ to me. - Don't ask me to call you ‘Edgar’. It took me a big effort to get to the point of calling you ‘Edward’ - & you wouldn't like to put my strength to the test again, would you? -
The snaps are very jolly. I love the secrétaire noble - javanais! He looks exactly the Javese counterpart of our English butler! I can imagine him murmuring ‘Dinner is served, my lord’ - with the accent peculiar to his section of the world. - As for you, I like you very much indeed. You look so tired & sad that again I had an immense desire to hug you as one hugs little boys that fall down & bruise their knees - & say ‘Never mind: it will be better soon’. - The little horse with the little lungs & the big heart has all my affection. (Horses are sometimes like human beings in this respect, aren't they?!!) -
I am glad you like Yeats. He is Irish - i.e. Celtic - & Celts make good poets. There is Sir James Barrie, the novelist (he is Scotch), whom you should like - & John Synge the playwright. His Riders to the Sea is one of the loveliest things in the world. It has that austerity, that calm, which we Britishers hanker so much after. - Clarke is Irish, too - & unites the ideal poetic traits of aesthetic sensuality, fantasy, idealism in his last volume. - I'm afraid the 19th century in England does not appeal very much to me either - until one gets right to the end of it - when you were born! - As for Racine, I think him the most perfect of messieurs pommads in the moral sense - as Watteau in another sphere. -
Yes. Prebends Bridge is one of the nicest spots on earth. Do you know, although I am fond of Oxford, I must treat it in a detached way - & not as Durham. Durham for me is everything that is le plus vrai: Oxford's elegances seem trivial beside Durham's noble piles. At Durham one can reach some sort of deep understanding of things - of the ‘universal harmony’ that I love so much, here one can merely have a very adequate knowledge of superficial commodities. Standing on Prebends, looking down into the river & the forest beyond, one would fain weep slow tears - because of the beauty of things, their dignity - but because one cannot, after all, get into the very heart of the universal harmony. - Oxford is delightful: Durham is fine. The social life is much the same - but the Cathedral & atmosphere of bishops & canons & - God - adds something else - a sort of absolute beauty - an English solidness - that Oxford lacks. - Last night over coffee chez Lady Pamela Bourne who really isn't a bad sort, I suddenly thought of Durham, in the midst of a long gushing monologue by an ‘aesthete’, - &, good God, I could have wept. Being a nicely brought up young woman - & English therewithal, - I merely tightened my lips together - & then gave a monologue too. - Only - only -
Why on earth shouldn't I be pleased to show you our Oxford? I have sufficiently loosed myself from the enslaving bonds of convention to be honest always. I tell you I like the petit gros monsieur. (I wish to heaven he hadn't looked quite so hurt about life on the snap - for it leaves me yearning to go & murder all the offending persons or annihilate all the offending things) - & we Britishers do not come easily to saying that. - It would be delightful if you could come over to Oxford - soon - before you go away. - Your suggestion about Syracuse, etc. is jolly. I shall meditate a while thereon. - Oxford is so near to Belgium. I've got to be here to keep term - & you, I suppose, are tied with business of various descriptions. It is a pity. One thing, however. The climate is very mild at Oxford - & we have lots of sunshine (personally I much prefer rain having a good streak of Celtish blood in my veins). Does that tempt you? - It would be good to be entirely & absolutely & all the time ‘vraie’ - as by the sea up in the North - with Peter, my dog, & the rocks & wet sand & sea-gulls. Come, if you can, for a short while. I should love to have you ‘impose yourself’ on me. -
Miss Blackett qui n'est pas satisfaite par son pessimisme - (ni par son égoisme) - a décidé d'agir et d'aider ‘les autres’ - (comme a fait toujours sa maman, la femme la plus magnifique qui soit: elle est chértienne en plus: de là my respect for christians - although I am so far merely an atheist) - tant qu'elle peut. - Bon. - Eveline veut bien trouver quelqu'un qu'elle puisse aimer - mais elle n'y tient pas trop étant donné le passé. - I am sorry to have to add that I have been engaged seven times - but therewithal I have seven good friends still. - I'm a little wiser than I used to be: - I believe in love & believe in friendship - & everything - perceiving that all that is necessary is a happy hazard on the part of the Fates. Not loving in the inter-sexual sense. I hang on to friendship. You who believe that l'Amour est loin d'être éternel, are merely unlucky - like myself. But doubtless you know, as I, quite a number of people who have discovered this sort of harmony. It seems to me that I shall be far more capable of loving (in my sense) at thirty, than now - for then assuredly I shall be much more sympathetic (after eight more years of bothers) - & much more understanding. - I attach very little importance to passion - as far as love is concerned: for one can find real content in embracing quite a number of men (sans que ce soit sale: I mean that the fact of embracing a number of men can be good & sound & not leave one with the feeling of disgust which according to ordinary English canons should come) - but one would probably not for anything marry any one of them - simply because one does not love any one of them. Love, I take it, is something solid to build on: like interest, mutual respect & admiration, through knowledge of each other - & passion. All that one can get at varying degrees - but one would fain have something completely satisfying, morally, spiritually & physically - & certainly at thirty, one ought, - being a more complete entity, one ought to have less difficulty in understanding totally. -
Aren't you married? I imagined you to be. Have you any dogs or children - both of which are rather jolly things? -
Try & come over to Oxford, petit monsieur gros who sounds very charming & very vrai. It would be a pity not to know each other really at once. -
21, Warnborough Road, Oxford.
I don't at all know your circumstances - but could arrange a hotel or an apartment or rooms - or room - or garnet - according as you desire. - Come. It's warm here. -
Origineel: Den Haag, Letterkundig Museum