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Henry Crompton to Arthur Llewelyn Davies - 1893


Letter from Henry Crompton to his great-nephew Arthur, 22 July 1893, congratulating him on the birth of Arthur and Sylvia's firstborn, George. Peter's comments includes a longish account of how, when and where he found the various bundles of letters and documents after Barrie's death in 1937 ...

[No original available]


Chester, Saturday,
22 July, 1893.

Dear Arthur,
I am so glad of your news just come, and sympathise most warmly with you both. My love to the dear Mother. All best wishes to her, to you and to him. I suppose you will have your mother with you. My love to her.
Always your affectionate uncle,
Henry Crompton.
George the first in our family.

G[eorge] Ll.D. had been born at 18, Craven Terrace on July 20th. George, after George du M., who in turn was called after his uncle, George Clarke, Mary Anne's only known son.
I have no idea why this nice letter from great-uncle Henry and the two which follow should happen to be the only ones which have been preserved in connection with the birth of G.Ll.D., but so it is.
I forget if I have explained that, whereas all A.Ll.D's own early letters, and all later letters from him, S., or any of us to Margaret Ll.D. or Mary Ll.D., came to me from Margaret not long before her death in 1943, the others were retrieved by me from the back of J.M.B.'s desk after his death when I was clearing up the debris there, in a frame of mind which, as I don't wish to introduce any discordant note here, I will simply describe as not exactly philosophical. Some were neatly tied up with tape or put away in big envelopes; others were lurking dustily in nooks and crannies. The reason for the survival of some was obvious: the "engagement" letters, for example, had evidently been kept in the first place by S., in the way such things are, for sentiment's sake, and had been retained, in their little bundle, by J.M.B. when, as I suppose, he went through her effects twenty years later, no doubt with the concurrence and most likely with the help of members of the family, such as Crompton Ll.D., May, etc. Letters and other papers relating to the deaths of A. and S. were tied up separately, in some instances with notes in J.M.B's handwriting, done I don't know when, but not recently. On the other hand some letters seemed to be there for no particular reason, and it is impossible to say on what principle, if any, or when, retention or destruction had been decided on.
The present letter is a case in point; there must certainly have been other and more significant letters on the occasion, e.g. from the grandparents. Once more I must admit that I may have destroyed some, inadvertently; but I rather doubt it. I don't believe I destroyed much of any consequence. There were masses of old bills, receipts, cheque-counterfoils, and so on, which I remember burning, and that was only a few years ago. I think I should remember if I had let anything that mattered go: and the fact that so much survived seems to suggest that I sifted pretty thoroughly. Be that as it may, the letters which follow, from now until April 1906, are mostly rather a scratch lot, with some exceptions such as the next but two, recording the birth of Jack Ll.D.
I will just add, by way of apology in case I did destroy things that could better have been kept, that I have had some pretty melancholy hours over all this. The real things have a power to move which distinguishes them very sharply from typewritten copies.


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