Letter from Maud Karpeles to Ralph Vaughan Williams

Letter No.: 

13 Wellington House,
Eton Rd., N.W.3.

Dear V.W.
Thank you so much for your sermon. But if the only way of settling my differences with the Ctee. is to quarrel with you, then it will have to be a fight to the death with the Ctee. so far as I am concerned!
And now I am going to proceed to take your letter point by point and to argue with you, not to try and pick a quarrel with you, but to try and find out how far I can agree with it.
(1)  I cannot envisage a joint control which will be anything but hampering to both parties concerned.  The Ctee. would obviously resent any extraneous control, and it would no doubt consider that my control could most properly be exercised through the B.A.C.1  Well, you know how much control I have over the presentation of the dances through that channel.  Also I do sincerely believe that the "property" can be administered more satisfactorily by an individual than by a Committee, provided that the individual is a suitabe person.  And always I come back to the question: What would the Society gain by control, apart from (a) the issue of cheaper publications, which I can, I feel sure, be obtained by other methods, and (b) fincancial gain, the justice of which is questionable.  The Ctee. says it is being hampered, but no instances have been given.
(2)  I think the Ctee. might very properly consider buying out Novellos.  My only objection (and that as a member of the Ctee.) would be on financial grounds.  I think it is a bad proposition to buy the "fag end of a lease".
There is probably some truth in what Mrs. Jenkins says, because the Society is almost wholly concerned with the retail side of the business, and so does not have to take into account, as Novellos do, the big allowances to the retail trade.  But two points which may have been overlooked by Mrs. Jenkins are (a) that Novellos give a bigger professionsal discount than the E.F.D.S., and (b) That many of the publications (e.g. Morris and Sword) do not bring in a big profit.
I very much doubt if the Society could make a profit after having paid a fair price to Novello.
(3).  The "dead hand".  You may be right.  I confess that I am irritated by the self-satisfaction of the young "sparks" (who are really no longer so young), but I doubt whether I have ever displayed the irritation that I feel - at least, to those concerned.  When any project has been brought to me I have always tried to be sympathetic, though possibly I have been mistaken sometimes in thinking that my opinion was wanted, when it was only an expression of approval that was being sought.  I think I can be encouraging, given the opportunity, but I suppose it is difficult - perhaps impossible - for me to pamper.
(4)  I wish I could be constructive, but my concrete suggestions (e.g. that I should endeavour to persuade Novellos to reduce the price of the publications) are really not what the Committee wants.
(5)  I am sorry you have got into a row with Mr. Howes.  I don't want to make a definite decision about my resignation as yet.  I think you were right - knowing what you do - to warn the Committee - but although it is as well that the Committee should face this possibility I do not on any account want to use this as a threat.
I am afraid I am very bad at making decisions.  I usually drift, and then see where I've got to.  And certainly the drift is all in the direction of resignation.  I think I might be able to put up with the unpleasantness if it did not impair my effectiveness, but I am wary of being a wet blanket, and that seems to be about my only function in the Society.
But I am a little puzzled, because the last time I spoke to you, you agreed that it was best for me to go
I have only attempted now to answer your letter, and have not gone into the general quesiton, but I shlall try and prepare a statement to make at the Ctee. and if I can do it in time, I will send you a copy of my notes.
I am writing to the Ctee. to the effect that the Sharps have given me permission to impart the desired information concerning the agreements etc., but without prejudice.
I am sorry to be so uncomprosing2, and to seem to be so little in agreement with you, and - what is worst of all - to be so ready with excuses for myself.  And, just one more excuse: If this letter sounds curt, it is only because I have written it stright off, and have not stopped to smooth out my sentences.
I wonder if you will be at the meeting tomorrow.

1. Board of Control of the English Folk Dance Society.
2.  sic.

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