Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Jean Stewart

Letter No.: 
Oct 14 [1944]

The White Gates

My sweetest Jean
Thank you for your lovely present - I wish it could rub out all unhappiness out of your life.  But not the memories that are enshrined in those red crosses - they are indelible.
You played beautifully (and looked lovely) on Monday.  But the piece seemed unworthy of you - it sounded dull & muddly - you know I've tried all my life for clarity & never achieved it - I always put too many ingredients into the pudding.  But I suppose at my advanced years its's too late now - perhaps I ought to scrap the work - I don't think I can rewrite it a second time.  This sounds ungrateful - but it is not - you all played it beautifully & it is entirely the fault of the work, e.g. the 1st movement - a tempo which suits one bit well not suit another - so yes it wd sound intolerably scrappy if one continually changed the tempo.  There my dear I have written a doleful letter - but the more I hear my own tunes the more I dislike them - & I haven't the courage not to listen all this week.
Now to change the subject completely
Beatrice1 did not slap my face as you said she would.
all my love dearest Jean
Uncle Ralph

1.  Beatrice Carelle, second violinist of the Menges Quartet.

Location of original letter:

General notes: 

14 October was a Saturday which makes the preceeding Monday the 9 October and possibly not the first performance of the String Quartet in A minor.
The string quartet in A minor ("For Jean on Her Birthday") was composed in 1943-4 and first performed on 12 October 1944.