Letter from George Yeats to Thomas MacGreevy. 31 December 1925.[p.1 recto]
82 Merrion Sq.
The last of o
a not altogether unsatisfactory year!
My dear Tom.
Anne is on the mend today, but we — or rather I — are still a little anxiousAnne Yeats was ill over Christmas with double pneumonia, needing a day and night nurse but vehemently refusing to let a strange nurse do much for her.. The little horror was no sooner better of her lung than she developed a new illness much more alarming, but it seems to be coming to nothing D.V. There's no question of her going away for some time as the doctor wants to keep an eye on her and give her the sunlight treatment that did her so much good before. After that we may take her to — say — Glengarriff for two weeks and in April, probably the first week, we shall probably come to London for ten days to celebrate the death of my Great-aunt-in-law-devilGeorge Yeats's father's step-aunt Ellen Chapman (née Preston, later Oughton Giles) Mayor of Worthing, had been left by her first husband Harold Lees a substantial share of his estate to enjoy during what became a lengthy and active life. Through whose decease I hope to get my father's money, at least the share of it that he left me. My brother who is already very rich gets two thirds but my share ought to be £250 a year and might be £300 As I have been trying to get Willy to leave the Senate after the education BillHaving been appointed to a government committee investigating Irish schools, WB Yeats spent considerable time and effort on the School Attendance Bill, speaking three times in Senate during the winter of 1925-26 and publishing a number of articles on national education is through — he is always full of verse that never gets time to be written — it may help to induce him to. There is really nothing more he can do, and he hasnt been well again for some time. However this is private. He talked to Lady G. about it and she said she thought he ought to remain in 'to keep a worse man out'. That's how your enlightened country looks on poets...... He becomes more and more wrapped up in matters that are purely Irish and therefore insular, and provincial. I have been reading nothing but poetry just lately[p.1 verso] not his!! and it has made me realise how damnably national he is becoming. Nationality throws out personality and there's nothing in his verse worth preserving but the personal. All the pseudo-mystico-intellecto-nationalistico stuff of the last fifteen years isnt worth a trouser-button, or rather as a trouser-button is a most necessary article one might say a pillowcase button! As long as there was any gesture in it, as long as there was a war on and so on and so on, it was worth it, but really now to spend hours listening to rubbish in and out of the Senate and going to committees and being visited by fishermen's associations, and Freddie RyansPossibly Frank Ryan (1902-1944), teacher of Irish and as a member of the executive IRA co-editor of its paper An Phoblacht' and nincompoops and miaows and bow-wows of all sorts mostly mongrels is a bit too much. However. As for the Connoisseur, I grew up surrounded by it, and to me it is a part of history. Stagnant history, vieux jeu and anything else you like, but if you orientate it in your consciousness as far from both sun and moon as possible it has qualities, very English, Ruskin pottery pale green walls and a chaste bowl of flowers (all of one sort please) standing on a table runner of liberty silk with a fringe 'to contrast' upon a table from Maple's antique departmentMaples on Tottenham Court Road, at one time the largest furniture store in the world, manufactured luxury furnishings. Always very well-bred, but not quite of the best public school, and of the cheaper house at the University. In about two generations Dublin will have reached that stage and please God I'll be dead then. All these Lytton Stracheys and SitwellsThe three members of the wealthy upper class Sitwell family, Edith, Sir Osbert and Sir Sacheverell were poets, critics, memoirists, and patrons. (*"DiscursionsOsbert Sitwell's Discursions on Travel, Art and Life was published by Grant Richards in 1925"*) make fun of it and the Albert Memorial and the Albert Hall, and Ruskin pottery and pale green walls because they grew up in families that were brilliantly clever in a public and spectacular way whereas they are clever in a personal negative and journalistic way and they amuse one because they have [p.2 recto] selected a form of gossip that panders to one's feeling of superiority to a previous generation. Wheatley's Cries of LondonThe Cries of London prints, executed in a suite of 13 after the original paintings by royal academician Francis Wheatley, were reproduced extensively. in their day were quite as enthralling as any illustrative artist of today and not a whit less good of their kind. This is not to say that I dont fully sympathise with you for preferring PicassoSpanish artist Pablo Picasso was at this time deeply involved in Cubism and also designed stage sets and costumes for the Ballet Russe or Brancusi.But I am less disruptive than you. Before I got your letter I had written to Rummel giving him your address in London. I hope you dont mind? In the back of his mind, at present sub-consciously, he is remembering your repetition of Mrs Leah Clarke's phrase "He would make a good lover" and he longs for a kindred spirit..... But Neptune is not the opposite of Mercury! You mean Saturn. You are a mixture of Mercury and Neptune yourself...
The German quotation "die Schone Tage Von Aranjuez Sin' Nun Zu Ende" is from a play of SchillerSource?'s but I cant remember which. In fact, though I was compelled to read them at school, it is the only thing I remember from them. It isnt Philip V pining for home, at least as far as I remember, it is a pining for something, a dream, that is past. I dont know that Milan is essentially the thing that I remember but the Garden and the Cathedral are a part of it.
Who's "Billy Stewart"? Personally I can understand that one might "love" the Duncans, but O what a bore to spend more than five minutes with any of them, Alan included. I am very fond of Alan but I do find him a terrible bore, and as for Jim...............
In sequence, "horrid, but then most Johnissh things are". Shame on you.
Olivia writes "I like your friend Tom very much he is [p.2 verso]rather a little dear and amuses me" By "amuse" she means interests and entertains. Its a word the old gang used a lot.
Lennox brought in a longish short storyAS has not been able to identify this story today which I like, but not much; it flows slowly like a Bedfordshire river, neither fast nor slow, not much fishing and a good many tadpoles.
Sorry this is so long. I am so bored these days seeing no one I want to see and more or less "on duty" all day, and W. out every evening ( because I am "on duty" just as he is in the middle of being read to or typed for, and then he is left for an hour or so & doesnt like it) and Lennox buzzing in at five (when I am "off" for an hour or so) and staying for a short time and then going to rehearsals.
By the way If we really come to London in April we must have a celebration dinner at the Ivy and have Dulac and his present wifeAlthough never legally married, novelist and musician Helen de Vere Beauclerk was Dulac's devoted partner from 1923 when his marriage dissolved until his death thirty years later and Arthur WaleyArthur David Waley, Orientalist and Sinologist whose many translations were first encouraged by Ezra Pound, was at this time Assistant Keeper of Oriental Prints and Manuscripts at the British Museum. (the chinese man) and one or two others. I dont think you know them?
* "Discursions" by Sitwell — I think Osbert — is worth reading for a three & a half pages on "cats" which is a prose-poem (vile phrase!) & has an account of Bomba King of Sicily whose interests were intensely National but always disintegrated into personality. For instance he had a passionate year of interest in the sanitary conditions of his country - but they resulted only in — saving your presence — his installing the first acquatic lavatory (or whatever the proper word is) in his own palace!
And, to really come to an end, I do not like the last poem you
sendMacGreevy's poem was "Nocturne of the
"Dashing about or parked"