E. du Perron
Oxford, 23 oktober 1929
xxiii. x. xxix. 23h.
My dear Edward, -
I forgot to mention about the Rossetti. There exists an edition published by Ellis of London which is complete - including the Italian translations, of course. I was going to send it - but I wasn't sure of the one you have - & perhaps the general get-up was not pleasing: a sort of Victorian-wax-fruit-under-glass flavour about it. Instead I forwarded Humbert Wolfe - an ex-Oxford man of about forty now - who really is probably one of the few of recent times who will survive things. I am very fond of Requiem which is probably the best thing he has written. Note the little foreword - about Wadham where he sojourned at Oxford. - I noted in Requiem that he sticks to rhyme conscientiously - & certainly the book has an extreme dignity which completely shows up the so-called ‘clever’ young free-versers. - I have completely remodelled ‘The Consolation’ on the following lines! -
You know that my affection for my dog & for the sea are two great things in my life. - I wish I had them now - By the way, do you like Conrad? I personally incline to Lord Jim more than all the others. - Yeats is good - & Synge - & Clarke - but I talked of them somewhere else. - By the way, I made one of two little changes (merely linguistic) in your ‘historiettes’. I hope you don't mind. ‘The clubs of the student movement’ I translated more exactly by ‘undergraduate clubs’ which immediately suggests the right image to the English mind - & ‘landlady’ I rendered by ‘hostess’ which is the consecrated Oxford term (since our landladies are usually cultured women). I didn't think you would mind - but tell me if you don't approve. - I wish you would do me into French some of your favourite contes. Personally I think a good piece of prose is hard to beat. Perhaps my favourite book is Bacon's Essays - which taste you might find curious. However, it's true. - May I quote the end of his essay on Death. - ‘It is as natural to die as to be born; & to a little infant perhaps, the one is as painful as the other. He that dies in an earnest pursuit is like one that is wounded in hot blood, who, for the time, scarce feels the hurt, & therefore a mind tired & bent upon somewhat that is good doth avert the dolours of death; but, above all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is Nunc Dimittis, when a man hath obtained worthy ends & expectations. Death hath this also, that it openeth the gate to good fame, & extinguisheth envy: extinctus amabitur idem.’
- Quelle magnifique sagesse! I like the enormous tranquillity of Bacon - the peace of the wisdom that cometh after much paining & much buffeting. - There is Of Great Place, too, that I read with the most real joy. Only ourselves can understand the dignity, the harmony of these aphorisms - written at the end of an illustrious career that terminated in dishonour. - His attitude towards such subjects as ‘Love’, ‘Children’, etc. is essentially that of the business-man - & appeals to the business-man side of me. - I prefer him de beaucoup to Montaigne - who you probably would like most. Here I am - British. - We hanker after the moral & philosophical note - which not even the most elegant styles would compensate. Note on poetry - Wordsworth for instance. Who does reach some very great heights even though he falls away very often into idiocies. From his preface to the Lyrical Ballads you will see how he in a way set the Naturalistic tendencies in motion. He submits that the language of ordinary people may be used - & ordinary everyday themes - which theory leads him often into pitfalls. -
Browning is good in his ‘dramatic monologues’ - as Fra Lippo Lippi. But we tend to disdain these ‘vieilles barbes’ after school-days.
- You unconsciously brought up a problem that has been bothering me a lot of late. After taking my degree last June, I seriously thought of looking at once for a post - but as two scholarships were thrust upon me I decided to know Oxford & London more - in the meantime. However, if I get the Fellowship it will mean that I shall have a further sum of money thrust upon me - & that I shall have to continue at Universities for another two or three years. I shall almost be pleased if I don't get the Fellowship - so that I may look for a job. If possible, I shall hie off to somewhere else - China, Egypt - anywhere I say, ‘if possible’ because there are some ties - which do not matter at all to me - except from the ‘franc jeu’ point of view: There may be a way out however, as ever, - so that I may depart. If I am obliged to stay in England for a year or two, sooner or later I shall be able to depart: - In any case, I am philosophical. -
I confirm my attitude towards suicide - & death. It will be a relief. At the moment I feel terribly alone. Perhaps two perfectly rotten lectures are responsible for this. The sight of a fine ship or aeroplane or bridge - any glorious creation of man's mind & hands - cheers me immensely - & makes me want to go on & do my little bit - but petty things - those two rotten lectures, for example - fill me with just one great depression. -
I'll say no more. Goodnight & take care of yourself. -
Origineel: Den Haag, Letterkundig Museum