Letter from Rutland Boughton to Ralph Vaughan Williams

Letter No.: 
3 July, 1952

Kilcot : Newent : Glos

Dear Ralph

Of course Shaw was ridiculous.  He set out to be.  Would you have had him build a vatican, and pretend to be infallible? Shaw laughed that we might listen with happy hearts; and his uncovering of Wagner’s symbolism had an historical as well as an aesthetic intention.  Wagner himself did not have to INTEND such ideas, for as you well know an artist’s mind does not work with that sort of conscious intention.
Presently you (and I) will be joining the shades with whom Shaw is already making himself ridiculous - with Wagner and others whose (dead) hands you have taken - Whitman, Blake, and Bunyan, for instance.  How then will you justify the turning of your back on the live legacy they left behind?  Of course, your official position makes it harder for you to live up to the liberalism of your nature and your past.  Even Elgar dared not come out into the open when he discovered the corruption of the official world; but at least he ceased to serve it, and left evidence of his change of mind.
Bless you, Ralph, for your old generous spirit; and damn you if you go back on it and cause those shades to laugh AT you.1
Yours ridiculously

[Rutland Boughton]

1. Written in reply to VWL2441.  For VW’s further reply see VWL2448.


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Shelfmark of original letter: 
Add MS 52366, f. 116
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