Letter from Adeline Vaughan Williams to Ralph Wedgwood

Letter No.: 
VWL280
Dec. 15th [1899]

5 Cowley St
Westminster

Dear Randolph,

We have often thought of you since this cold weather set in - how unfortunate it is for yr night work - I only hope the splendour of your mission helps to keep you warm - it certainly sd authorise you to get a fur coat if you haven’t one already. Your letter was most interesting to us - but if you go on rolling up magnificent titles in this way I shall soon be afraid to write to you. You must come and see us before you return to the Pools.1 I see it is quite a ridiculously small journey from Hull to London - only 4hrs & 45m:2
I have survived your ‘withering fire’ - of course we did not ask your permission before we invested all our savings in No 10 Barton St for you wd never have given it - it is such a shaky investment - we shall be lucky if the roof & walls outlast our 6 years - you seem to think we have bought it but this isn’t so - Crompton3 is a most valiant solicitor & has worsted the opposing one in every encounter so far.  We take possession on the 29th - that is of the bare 4 walls - but furnishing operations will be hurried on amazingly if you will give us a date for your coming.
I have not seen Felix4 since we returned from abroad - I expect he is very gay in the intervals of drawing beautiful plans in indigo - I have seen him at his office - in his shirt-sleeves & in his lodgings surrounded by all the modern elegances - ferns, castor oil plants & many photographs.
I am going to begin my russian again - it suffered an interruption whilst we were abroad, though I found a good many russian words were identical with Czeckish. (I have forgotten how to spell this: it looks all wrong). But I ought to be learning how to cook. R has tried to lead me in the right path by buying me a penny book called “Making the home” which contained a recipe for remaking a mattress - & ‘draping’ an overmantel in yellow plush. I have got no further than this - all this time I have not answered your questions about Ralph. Stanford after practising his Serenade5 diligently at 3 rehearsals threw it up for no apparent reason, so now it is trying its luck at the Crystal Palace - we expect to see it return with ‘not wanted’ on it every day. R is a Mus Doc as far as examinations can make him & his name has come out in the Cambridge lists - he says he will never have enough money to take the degree.6 No work has begun to turn up yet. Don’t you think he ought to be a volunteer?
Your affectionate

Adeline Vaughan Williams


1.  A reference to West Hartlepool where Ralph Wedgwood lived at at this time.
2.  Wedgwood was [?Goods Manager] at the docks at West Hartlepool and responsible for organising railway mineral traffic there to support the war effort in South Africa.
3.  Crompton Llewellyn Davies, one of the 'Cambridge Apostles'.  He was a solicitor and was dismissed from his position in the Post Office for his support of an independent Ireland. See further in The Cambridge Apostles, 1820-1914: Liberalism, Imagination, and Friendship in British Intellectual and Professional Life, by W. C. Lubenow (Cambridge University Press, 1998).
4.  Felix Wedgwood, youngest brother of Ralph Wedgwood.  See VWL201.
5.  See Catalogue of Works, p.8 (1898/1). It was performed in Bournemouth the following April.
6.  VW eventually took the degree on 23 May 1901; his name appeared in the lists in the Cambridge University Reporter, no. 1281, vol. XXX, no.14, December 12, 1899, p. 312.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/2, ff.63-65
General notes: 

Year date from reference to Cambridge lists.

Format: 
Letter
Original database number: 
981215