Letter from Adeline Vaughan Williams to Cordelia Curle

Letter No.: 
Sunday [26th January 1936]

The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Beloved Boo

You may chance to hear R’s setting of these lines tonight - I don’t know where they are to be fitted in.  Walford Davies asked him to write something last Thurs - at first R said he couldn’t - Then a few hours later he found these lines from Samson Agonistes & in 24 hours it was done - Sat morning they were engraved - & Walford D rang up last night to say he had rehearsed the chorus & it would be done some time tonight -  O how I hope it will sound all right - I believe it will - & arn’t the words good & right.1
Shall look forward to hearing your plans tomorrow - We are ready for you any moment.  Adrian conducts the Symphony on Thursday & rehearsal will be - I suppose - 10 am -
Hon is busy making a black dress!2
Hope yr outfit will be pleasing - You see streets are closed 8.30 on Tuesday!


Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail,
Nothing but well and fair
And what may quiet us in a death so noble.
Let us go fetch him hence and solemnly attend
With silent obsequy and funeral train
Home to his fathers’ house.
There will we build him a monument
With all his trophies hung and acts enrolled
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort
And from his memory influence their breasts
To matchless valour and adventures high

Adapted from Milton’s Samson Agonistes.

Ralph’s setting of Milton for King’s broadcast service.

1.  ‘Nothing is here for tears’, CW 1936/1, was included in the broadcast that evening. See CW.  This passage is printed in RVW p.210. Note on the death of  George V.
2.  The Fourth Symphony - see RVW p.211. See the passage in RVW also about all the girls wearing black, perhaps inspired by this unquoted part of the letter.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/9, ff.104-107
Original database number: