Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Ralph Wedgwood

Letter No.: 
VWL288
29.XI.97

[Berlin]

Dear Randolph,

You must send the article directly it comes out - it is good getting something into print isn't [it] - and you must set to work and write a book. Either “Retrogression and Riches” or else a “History of wages and profits in the House-holding industry from the earliest times to the present date”. What magazine is your article in, and how much are they going to give you for it? By the way I think it was an absolute insult of the general manager to say you were doing exceedingly well - even to X1 (how is X by the way? I haven't heard of him for a long time - in fact had almost forgotten his Xistence). He ought rather to have asked you how he was getting on.
Tonight has been very eventful because we had reis-suppe (“Selbst-geschmiedet”) for supper. You make it out of the enclosed2 stuff and boil it for 40 minutes. I mixed mine with Liebigs extract which made it better I think, though opinions vary. We are going to give a dinner party:
                                                              Menu

                                          Consommé - au Ris à la Liebig
                                                              “Reissuppe” au naturel
                                            Entrée         Oeufs à l'aurore (la raw)
                                            Roti            Eier à la Scramblée
                                                              avec Roggenbrod
                                           Entremets   Rogenbrot à la beurre
                                                              Pfeffer-kuchen en rien
                                                              Kuchen ohne Maass
                                       Hors d'Oeuvres Oeufs Bouillé
                                          Dessert        Preiselbeeren in Honij
                                                       Thée à l'infusoire
                                                       Cigarettes et Pipes
                                                                  -------
                                                    “Dieu Saure la Reine”

                                                          Wine list

                                                                 Tea
                                                     Cocoa (Blookers entire)

By the way in a later number of the Musician you will find a chatty “Letter from Berlin”.3 Today I have sent of[f] another. I believe still that the stone at the top of the arch is called the key stone.

                                                     Don't tell anyone this

I must now relate a most humiliating episode. We had an introduction from the Diceys4 to Frau von Helmholtz of 12 Rauch Strasse; as usual the houses were numbered so that you couldn't tell which was which and what appeared to be No 12 was a corner house, and the only entrance was in Drake Strasse round the corner and was labelled 3. After much perturbation we decided that this was the only possible place. So we asked for Frau V.H. and left our cards. Next day we had a letter saying there must be a mistake as the writer did not know the Diceys, signed Clara Goldberger!!!
We have just spilled some ink on the table cloth and are trying to get it out with boiling. A. is just wishing you were here to help - this is after reading your article which has come. I at present have only read half of it and we discussed it over tea. All this spilling of ink is the result of supping at Fredrichs in the Potsdamer Strasse and drinking “Champagner Bowle” followed by Hock. All this because it isn't any of our birthdays. I could if I wish explain how you were entirely wrong in your conclusions from the mileage averages - but “why throw pearls before a - statistician” (Browning - as they say in the sixpenny novels).
Your questions made me feel that we aren't getting full good out of Berlin, but I really can't read these awful German newspapers - we get all our Berlin news out of the Morning Post; we are however studying the German drama - the other day we went to an Echt-modern drama by Hauptmann called “Die versunkene Glocke” all about a Glocken-gieser and an elfisches Wesen called Rautendelein and an “Elementer-geist” called Nickelman and a Waldschrat5 - in fact all the dramatis personae of Hans Andersen talking Ibsen as hard as they could. But I think “ve'y faine” - especially when our fat German master had explained us the cultural “idée” which is that man must always come to grief if he tries to do an “Uebermenschichle Werke” - that is to say he must stop at home with his wife and family and not go off with Rautendelein and build a temple to the sun on the top of a mountain.
The Italian pictures here are nearly all disappointing and touched up and look German - except a beautiful little Raffaelius del Garbo - and the Angelico last judgement, of which Jerome Dakyns6 used to have a bit - is it a replica and is the real article in Florence? I feel impelled to go on “by the way what is the origin of that term in English architecture”.
You must always come to us every evening when you are in London and we will send over to the nearest cookshop for dinner, as of course we shall be having nothing but Reis suppe.
You will be glad to hear that Max Bruch has asked me to his at homes “in ze Englisch staile” and said he hoped I should be as successful as I was courageous. We do use the tea basket  for our tea, only we have now invested in another lamp.7
Have you been to Milan - is it possible in winter?
Yours affecately

R. Vaughan Williams


1. Unidentified
2. Presumably some sort of ingredient
3. See VWL286; Wedgwood appears to have seen The Musician of October 13, 1897, which contained another article by VW, entitled 'The Romantic Movement and its Results'.
4. Albert Venn Dicey, Professor of English Law at Oxford and a colleague of F.W. Maitland, Professor of the same at Cambridge, VW's cousin.
5. Gerhart Hauptmann’s symbolist drama, Die versunkene Glocke, had first opened on 2 December 1896 in the Deutsches Theater, Berlin. Rautendelein is correctly ‘ein elbisches Wesen’, Nickelman is correctly ‘Nickelmann, ein Elementargeist’, and Waldschrat is  a ‘faunischer Waldgeist’. The play concerns Heinrich, a bell-founder, who leaves his wife, Magda, and his children to live on the mountain with Rautendelein, with dire results for all concerned. See Pamela Reilly’s intoduction to her edition of the play (Blackwell, Oxford, 1956).
6. Henry Graham Dakyns, one of the group at Cambridge which included VW, Ralph Wedgwood, R.C. Trevelyan, G.E. Moore, Crompton and Theodore Llewellyn Davies. See Paul Levy, G.E. Moore and the Cambridge Apostles (London, 1979), pp.53, 57.
7. Presumably a wedding present. A tea basket comprised a kettle, spirit lamp and other accessories for the making of tea.

Subjects:

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/1, ff.99-104
Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
Cobbe 10
Original database number: 
971129