Sign In

Access advanced features by signing in to your user account.

George du Maurier To Tom Armstrong - 1890

This entry contains 4 image(s), each scanned and uploaded to our database.

Details

Letter from George du Maurier to his friend Tom Armstrong on his daughter Sylvia's engagement to Arthur, 25 March 1890: "[Arthur] is all that the most difficult-to-please parents could wish for a very much beloved daughter."



Community
Transcription

15 Bayswater Terrace, W
March 25 [1890]

Dear Tom,
I write a line to tell you (as Trixie's godfather!) that Sylvia has engaged herself to Arthur Llewelyn Davies, the son of a well-known clergyman.
He is all (so as far as we can see for ourselves, or have heard from all who know him) that the most difficult-to-please parents could wish for a very much beloved daughter. But he has his own way to make entirely - as a barrister.
His father and mother have written the kindest letters (from Westmorland) to us.
I will add - from my own aesthetic point of view - <i>qu'il est joli garçon, comme l'autre - j'ai toujours l'oeil sur ma postérité! Il n'a que vingt-sept ans de Bordeaux . Et bein qu'il soit fils pasteur anglicain, c'est l'ami intime de Leslie Stephen - qui pense comme nous.
I have written a line to Tammy also, the kind godfather of the chick in question...
Yours ever,
G. du Maurier

This delightful affair was given to me by Daphne du M, who had it from Tom Armstrong's widow, at the time she was writing "Gerald: A Portrait".

“joli garçon, comme l'autre" - l'autre’ was doubtless the exceedingly decorative Charlie Millar, who had married Trixie du M a few years before.

The amusing reference to "les fils de pasteur" and "Leslie Stephen - qui pense comme nous" is written so small as to be almost illegible, a device George du M regularly employed in his letters when he wished to say anything a shade indiscreet or equivocal.

I think I have "placed" Leslie Stephen and his father Fitzjames Stephen, earlier in this record, in their relation to the Llewelyn Davies family. He was one of the most eminent men of letters of the day, as well as a leading Alpinist: editor of the "Dictionary of National Biography", essayist and biographer. He had originally intended to take orders, but thought better of it, and his powerful "Apology of an Agnostic" is still read. He was acquainted with George du M, whose own agnosticism was of course very much a feature of "Peter Ibbetson", and I have a touching letter of his to George du M, written shortly after the death of his wife, expressing gratitude for the comfort he had derived from reading passages in "Trilby".

Tammy, Sylvia's godfather, was T R Lamont, original of "The Laird". Nothing more surprising has happened to me in the course of my desultory researches in connection with this record, than that I should find myself corresponding with the Laird's widow, who is still (Jan 1950) alive, through an amanuensis. She had no letters to give me, but sent me a charming honeymoon photograph of George and Emma du M, and included the following charming little recollection in one of her letters to me: "I am going to quote a remark Mr Armstrong made to us once, which was to the effect that your mother's wit and individual attraction owed something to her heritage from Mary Ann Clark, the memory of which survived. Whether that was true or not there was not the least doubt about the immense charm, that indefinable quality, of your dear mother."
I have been brought up to believe, on what evidence I scarcely know, that Arthur never hit it off very well with his family-in-law. It is true that, whereas there was little to choose in the ordinary social or financial sense between the Llewelyn Davies and the du Mauriers, they were very different in their outlook and upbringing. But on the few occasions when Gerald du M spoke to me about Arthur, it was always with admiration and, I should have said, affection; though obviously as individuals they had little enough in common.

But of the warmth with which Sylvia was welcomed into the Davies family, there is ample evidence in the letters which follow. Between her and her mother-in-law there unquestionably grew up a very deep affection indeed. This may possibly have some bearing on Denis Mackail's statement [in "The Story of JMB"], which he must have some foundation for, that Emma de M didn't much like Arthur. I have found no trace of the letter in which Arthur broke the news to his parents, and in reply to which the letters which follow were written.

User
Comments

Add Comment

There aren't any comments on this entry, click add comment to be the first!

J M Barrie Logo Sign In