Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Iris Lemare

Letter No.: 
Oct 4th [1940]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

My dear Iris1

There seem to be several shadowy schemes - but nothing seems to materialize.
(1) I believe the I.S.M. were setting up a scheme - about which Eames2 consulted me - but nothing seems to have come of it yet.
(2) Then there is the ANSC or whatever it is called.3
(3) There is a grand scheme in the air for co-ordinating everybody & everything - but again it has not materialized.
But all these things will take some time to get going - so don’t let your backer slip through your fingers too soon.

Why not try & organize some concert in your district with professional musicians from Newbury, Reading etc - that would avoid railway fares. Meanwhile you are lucky to be able to milk a cow - most of us can’t even do that.4
If your orchestra materializes in London I will try & arrange a concert for you in Dorking - But the difficulty, as you know, is
(1) Hall
(2) Police regulations

Don’t talk about this ‘wretched’ war - it is wretched - but if we look on it merely as a bore we shan’t push through with it - as we’ve got to do now unless we want to live perpetually in the state we are living now.
There were only 2 things to do
(1) Let Hitler have his way unchecked & hope he would hang himself with his own rope - this is what I believe Chamberlain wanted (the only true pacificism[)]. But the so-called"peace bloc" wanted war - & called Chamberlain traitor etc for wanting peace - Now we’ve got our war & we’ve got to see it through - & further decide what to do at the end of it.
I hope for a United States of Europe to which all nations (including Germans) who do not believe in force will belong. Not a league of sovereign nations - but a Union to which all nations will give up part of their sovereignty - preserving their individuality & nationality for their own affairs.5
Forgive this rigmarole - & give my love to Joyce & Gerald.6

Uncle Ralph 

1. Pupil of VW and founder of the Lemare orchestra.
2. Frank Eames, General Secretary of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.
3. Probably ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association).
4. Note by Iris Lemare: "This is obviously a very interesting letter - I have always wanted to ask someone who can decipher the handwriting what he felt about the war - but the letter was put away with the others. It was at the time of the "phoney war" - I had done farming in Cornwall until October when a 2nd hand was not needed. Back in London we were all asked to get out if we could. I went to Newbury to Gerald and Joyce. Nothing happened! I went back to London the night before the blitz started."
5. An allusion to VW's enthusiasm for Federal Union. This paragraph seems to be the second of VW's '2 things to do'.
6. Joyce and Gerald Finzi.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 288, ff. 21-26
Cobbe 348
Original database number: