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Letter from Crompton Llewelyn Davies to his brother Arthur on his engagement to Sylvia, 26 March 1890: "We shall owe to you the enriching of our own lives with a treasure ..."
[26th March 1890]
I thought I would not write by the same post as Mother's first letter, - but not because I haven't been thinking of you and wishing you all joy. It is indeed altogether joyful, and the thought of you makes everything seem right in the world, everything joyful and delightful.
Of course it is only in a dim way that I can sympathise with your happiness, but anyone who has ever had feelings of worship called out in any degree, can guess vaguely, at the meaning of perfect mutual love. And we know that our gain and joy will not be only that of sympathising with you. We shall owe you the enriching of our own lives with a treasure which I think you may trust we shall know how to value. We shall try hard to be worthy of the privilege, knowing well that it is to such as her whom you are bringing among us that we must look for our greatest joy and the strongest influences for all good. Oh, we must try to be nice for her sake.
There is no need to tell you how much you and she are in Mother's thoughts, and how Mother longs to see her and make a daughter of her. And there is little need to tell you how the rest of us are entering into your happiness.
The enclosed lines by Rossetti run rather in my head.
Goodbye then till we meet, soon. Your happiness makes us all happy.
In all love
This, to me, infinitely touching letter from the 22 year-old Crompton Ll.D to his older brother, reveals him clearly as the most demonstratively emotional of all the brothers. It goes just about as close to the borderline of mawkishness as it would be possible to go without overstepping it. When he spoke of the "feelings of worship" he meant it, and the adoration of Sylvia which he very soon came to feel, lasted all his life. How such as he could become, as he undoubtedly did become, an exceedingly capable and successful solicitor, and yet retain to the end the same essential tenderness and susceptibility and soft-heartedness, is just one of the many things which go to show that human nature is an inscrutable mystery.
At the time of his own engagement and marriage, so many years later - in 1911 or 1912, I think - to Moya O'Connor, his open and unashamed display of his feelings was truly comical to behold; or so it seemed to us as boys. Holding hands across the table and that sort of thing; I remember going down to their house at Three Bridges with George one Sunday, shortly after their marriage, and how, during a country walk, George and I felt constrained to drop well behind the pair, so embarrassed were we by their amorousness. And this is a reminder of what differences, despite the similarities, there were between the Llewelyn Davies brothers of a generation; as indeed there doubtless are between those of the present generation. For we find Arthur writing, in his next letter (to Margaret) that "we (i.e. Sylvia and himself) take the situation cheerfully as a rule, and are at one about outward demonstrations in public."
Let it not be thought that I am now being in the slightest degree critical about Crompton, for whom, on the contrary, I had and retain a deep affection, both for himself, and as the only link between my adult years, before and after my marriage, and the old familiar faces. Moreover in many practical ways he was a good friend to us all, and when the sad times came; and, later, to me in my business troubles.
"The enclosed lines by Rossetti" have not survived, and I have no idea what they were.