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Sylvia's "engagement ring to Barrie". When Nico married in 1926, Barrie gave his wife Mary some of Sylvia's jewellery, including this diamond and sapphire ring which, he told Nico, he had given to Sylvia “as we would have been married if your mother lived”. The abortive betrothal, if true, was never(Read More)
Sylvia's "engagement ring to Barrie". When Nico married in 1926, Barrie gave his wife Mary some of Sylvia's jewellery, including this diamond and sapphire ring which, he told Nico, he had given to Sylvia “as we would have been married if your mother lived”. The abortive betrothal, if true, was never made known to Sylvia's family in her lifetime, and there is no mention of it in any surviving correspondence. Peter was sceptical that such an engagement had ever taken place, writing in the Morgue:
"J.M.B. was quite capable of imagining, and of coming in the end to believe, such a might-have-been [...] No doubt there must have been conversations between them during those [last] months about the future, and about what they were to be to each other; and she may well have given him the thought of marriage — if it could be called that — to play with. But by then [...] he already had reason to suspect that her disease might prove fatal, and I guess that she too, though never told, suspected it also. At any rate that's how I see it. Others may well say, and doubtless did, that it would have been the most natural thing in the world: that she was already more intimate with him than with any other living being, that he had adored her for years and loved her children, that she was taking so much from him that she could scarcely refuse if that was what he wished, and if fact it was much the best solution. All this is true enough. But I think that to Jack [...] the thought was intolerable and even monstrous; so much so that he could not refrain from expressing himself in the most forcible manner to that effect when J.M.B. in an unguarded moment spoke to him of it. To me too, I confess, the idea of such a marriage is repugnant.
Up to a point, perhaps, this is mere sentimentality. The two sublime creatures of one's childhood die when one is too young to have much sense of reality, and the naive impression remains, so that in after life no one who survives to meet the more calculating glance of one's maturity can ever move in the same dimension as the enchanted dead [...] but it does seem to me that a marriage between Sylvia, the widow, still so beautiful in her forty-fourth year, of the splendid Arthur, and the strange little creature who adored her and dreamed, as he surely must have dreamed, of stepping into Arthur's shoes, would have been and affront, really, to any reasonable person's sense of the fitness of things. And I do not believe that Sylvia seriously contemplated it [...] Let me not be thought unmindful, in writing what I have written, of the innumerable benefits and kindnesses I have received, at one time and another, from the aforesaid strange little creature, to whom, in the end, his connection with our family brought so much more sorrow than happiness."
When we were shooting "The Lost Boys", Nico's wife Mary lent us the ring so that I could give it to Ian Holm to place on Ann Bell's finger as "Sylvia" lay dying. He whispered to Ann that it was the real ring just before we started filming, whereupon Ann burst into tears. Those red eyes were not make-up ...