Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Gustav Holst

Letter No.: 
VWL247
[July 1897]

Dear V.H.

Its awfully hard to know what you had better do. I don’t think the communication1 business would matter - as a matter of fact I always did it when there was choral communion because I thought it looked picturesque as I had a hood and went up first and was generally part of the show - all the same he will probably ask you “what your position as a churchman is and whether you will do your best to promote the reverent conduct of the service” to which I answered that I was broad (not physically) and thought everyone right to do the sort of praying that suited them best - and that I would do my best etc. This is a very useful evasion. I suppose you consider me very wicked to have done all this but I consider it more important to take every chance of improving one’s talents (?!?) than to save one’s soul. Again the Vicar will not be back till Sunday, when he comes I will tell him that if he wants you he must close with you at once - put off signing your agreement as long as you can.
My dear V.H. I wish to goodness I could offer you anything more definite than this - I cannot do anything like promise you will get it as the Vicar is quite mad, only I will do my best - only I am not at all sure that Crouch End in the hand is not worth St Barnabas in the Bush.
I want you for Wed 4th at 7.0 THURSDAY 5th at 8.15. You must do Thursday or you’re no good and Sunday 8th. Will 30/02 be enough for the whole show?
By the way I promised the Vicar that you would produce a testimonial from Stanford!3 also a word from Hoyte4 would be good also Parry5 and above all if possible Parratt6 - the Vicar is very great on testimonials. also your last Vicar would be good also a good character one from somebody - I gave him two! besides musical ones.
Yours in esparation7

R. Vaughan Williams.


1. Communication is used here by VW in the sense of taking communion at Eucharist.
2. i.e.30 shillings
3. Charles Villiers Stanford, Professor at the Royal College of Music where he taught VW and Holst, and then Professor of Music at Cambridge.
4. William Stephenson Hoyte, organist of All Saints, Margaret Street and Holst’s organ teacher at the Royal College of Music.
5. Charles Hubert Parry, then head of the Royal College of Music.
6. Walter Parratt, organist of  St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and professor at the Royal College of Music.
7. Presumably the opposite of 'desperation'; however the 'esparation' was misplaced as the post went to John Ireland.

Subjects:

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 158, ff.17-19
General notes: 

Not in Heirs and Rebels. This letter apparently follows VWL245.

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 5; R.V.W.: a biography, p.50
Original database number: 
9707xxb