Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Rutland Boughton

Letter No.: 
VWL2448
9th July, 1952.

The White Gates,
Dorking, Surrey.

Dear Rutland,

This is really too bad!  To accuse me of not being able to speak my mind because of my official position.  To start with, I have no official position.
I am afraid I am now going to imitate St. Paul and “speak as a fool”.1 I have always refused all honours and appointments which involved obligations to anyone in authority - (The O.M.2 involved no such obligations).  My fault is probably that I have been always too much in opposition.  When I was a boy at school I and another boy stood out as Radicals (as we were called then) against all the other boys.  When I got to Cambridge in ’93 I and a few friends read the Fabian tracts, and in opposition to the majority of undergraduates, became socialists.  (This was probably before you were born ).3
The truth is, I think, that when I am with Conservatives I become Socialistic and when I am with Socialists I become true blue Tory.
Now the pendulum has swung right round and it is fashionable to be a Socialist or “Kremlinist” - (I will not defile what ought to be a fine name “Communist” by calling the present creed by that name), I have the courage to criticise and dissociate myself with the present manifestations of what used to be a fine creed, and I am not afraid to have the finger of scorn pointed at me because I refuse to be taken in by all these bogus “peace” moves, which I think have also even duped you.
Ever since I had a vote I have voted either Radical or Labour except once, after the last War when I was so disgusted by what I considered the mean tricks of the Labour party in forcing an election.
I voted Labour in the last election though in my heart of hearts I wanted the Tories to get in, but the old spirit of opposition crept up and with all the County shouting for the Tories I determined to be on the other side; so I assure you my spirit remains what you call “generous”.  I believe in freedom and that is why I will not be bullied by Nazis, Fascists or Russians.4
Yours sincerely,

R. Vaughan Williams
(R. Vaughan Williams).

Rutland Boughton, Esq.,
Kilcot,
Newent,
Gloucester.


1. A phrase VW used to qualify apparently boastful statements, taken from 2 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 23.
2. Order of Merit
3. In fact VW was born on 12 October 1872 and Rutland Boughton on 28 January 1878.
4. This letter was in response to VWL2441 and VWL2445.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Add MS 52366, ff. 117-118

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/19, ff. 46-47
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed.

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 583; R.V.W.: a biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams, p.322-323.
Original database number: 
520709