Letter from Margaret Llewelyn Davies to Sylvia, October 1890
[No original available]
Your dear thoughtfulness was even more welcome than the delicious little picture. Those three lovely figures will be a constant joy — and will live over my piano, always listening with sympathy. It is a real pleasure to have something you and Arthur have given me, in my "office".* Thank you, dearest Sylvia, ever so much.
It is delightful to be at home again after all my wanderings. Next time I shall not allow you to come while I am away. That sight of you in London was very pleasing, but it was not enough.
We have just had our Sunday concert, of which I enclose a programme. Miss Wakefield sang quite beautifully. There was an immense assemblage of people, about 700 I believe — and we had a great crowd to tea afterwards, including Lady B. and the beauteous Olivia. I wish you could have been here to tackle them.
Maude Parry and the two children are with us. Poor Dolly is ill in bed with a chill, or something of the kind, which is most annoying.
Much love to you, Sylvia dear. Mother did so enjoy having you with her — and my aunt said she was quite in love with you.
Yr. affectionate sister-in-future,
The affection between S. and Margaret was real and lasting, and later letters will recall the devoted kindness and help given by M. to the household at Berkhamsted during A's last illness, and Sylvia's profound gratitude for it, This is not in the least incompatible with Dolly Ponsonby's remark about S's "minding so much poor Margaret's outpourings," etc, of which indeed there is some confirmation in one of A's last letters. It is always likely to be so between an effusive nature and a reticent one, with a common sorrow.
Lady B. was Lady Bective, the local grande dame, being the wife of the Earl of Bective (eldest son of the Marquess of Headfort) whose seat was at Lunefield, near K.L. Their daughter, "the beauteous Olivia", shortly after this married the other local nob — Lord Henry Cavendish Bentinck, of Underley Park, one of whose sisters, Ottoline, later married Philip Morrell and became a semi-fabulous figure in the upper regions of the highbrow world. They (the Morrells) had a house outside Oxford and were great entertainers of undergraduates, including Michael LLD and perhaps N[ico], also? I remember going to see Lady O. once at her house in London, I forget why, and hearing very nice things said about the family in general and particularly Crompton LLD, who, I think, kept up the acquaintanceship to the end of his life.
[AB: Arthur's sister Margaret had been elected General Secretary to the Women's Co-operative Guild the previous year. She set up her "office" in the Kirkby Lonsdale vicarage, from where, with her colleague Lillian Harris, she organised the running of the Guild. See Ruth Cohen's excellent 2020 biography of Margaret: "With Women for a New World."]
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