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Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2016, Volume 37

A Transnational Literary Network Around 1900: The Correspondence between Laurence Binyon and Olivier-Georges Destrée

Edited by Eloise Forestier, Gero Guttzeit, and Marysa Demoorby Laurence Binyonby Olivier-Georges Destrée


Letter 2: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter

Dearest friend. Your letter gave me much pleasure because your arrival here seems almost a certainty. And to make quite sure of it I hasten my answer to your letter with precise details. You have quite enough with 20 pounds and even more than enough as you will see. The return journey with an excursion in Pisa or even more excursions if you take a circular ticket costs I believe about 10 pounds – no more. You will then have 10 pounds left. That is 250 frcs. You will find here on the Piazza del Duomo in front of the Giotto Campanile – the nardini pension where I have often stayed and whose price is 5 fcs a day service included – so 2 weeks adds up to 70 frcs - a generous reckoning, with coffees and museum entrance fees, may amount to let us say 100 frcs for your two weeks here – you still have 150 frcs left for excursions – Now if at Nardini you only pay for lodgings and breakfast as I used to do and if you dine in the best restaurant in Florence at Mellini, which is more entertaining and which I was doing only a few weeks ago – I reckon that it will be a little bit more expensive with 150 instead of 100 frcs. But even in that case you still have 100 frcs left over – which you may devote to going on excursions, with me I hope. So you are coming – dear Laurence – and the dream we had made up of being reunited over here will then become true. The only thing I will ask if it is possible for you would be to move up your journey; if you can it would be better for me; but if it is not possible for you it doesn’t matter. I am happy to know you are at work on a big poem and I hope the final result will be as beautiful as the 4 verses that you sent me and that are so clear and evocative. As to me I have been working for the last week on my poem of the Three Wise Men which I told you about in England I believe. I left the centre of Florence for a more peaceful place and have moved into this quiet and charming little apartment 77 via niccolo Machiavelli (Florence) – at the foot of the hills of San Domenico and Fiegoli. When you will come all the flowers will be in bloom and it will be the best time to see this wonderful city. My poem, which swells in my mind to the size of an entire volume, will be I hope at least half the size, and I will be delighted to read you here some chapters from it and hear your opinion. Now I must get back to work because half the morning has already gone by and I work the most regularly from 10 to 5. So dear Laurence see you soon, that is here, we will converse at our ease and resume our strolls and excursions together. My best wishes to you and Image. O. Georges Destree About Image and since we spoke business or money at the beginning of this letter – when you see him ask him please if one of the volumes I suggested to him would suit Elkin Matthews. Image will explain to you what it is about. You will then be able to see for yourself if such a volume could please Matthews and if you do so, I will ask you to suggest it to him yourself and tell me when you write back what Matthews will have answered. Thank you very much O. GD PS Horne is well, working a lot and his volume on Botticelli will be I think a model of its kind.

Letter 3: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

4 May 1986 from Firenze, Italy to 25 Great College Street
77 Via niccolo Machiavelli – to postcards one should always answer by return of post – at least when questions are asked – as in yours. DUNQUE – as Mrs. Bart[oli] would say. I am glad to know you have arrived and happy about your stay here. Since you left the weather is the same as the one we had on our last day together, that is very nice – especially the nights at the Vialedeicolli where sing the nightingales and the aziola of P.B.S. I have started work again since Monday, and I work all day which doesn’t mean that I produce a large amount of work – but at least my poem is taking shape and meaning. I am happy you have thought about it and I also believe the subject is very beautiful. I have managed to introduce in it the beautiful legend of Barlaam – that you promised you would read at the British, and I hope to have finished the draft of my long chapter by the end of this week. Mayer came to say goodbye on Monday, leaving for Brezzo and going to Rome from there. I am staying here till the 10th or 12th and after that I will spend some time at the Chartreuse. Write me a card before I leave. Best wishes. G.

Letter 4: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

10 June 1986 Ixelles to 25 Great College Street 12 rue Van Elewyck B. Carissime Dunque Sono tornato a casa, and I have found here your letter and the letter that makes me Hon[orary] Memb[er] Of the B.F.A.C. I wrote to Ionides and to Virtue Tebbs to thank them – Alas my dear friend we have had the same disappointment when we came back, your poem was refused at Ox[ford] and mine was refused here because my volumes were not accepted in the contest under the pretense that they did not fit the subject matter of the contest. Good humbugs all of them! But it does not matter. I envy you dear friend for having finished your poem whereas I still need many months of work on mine. I was 9 days at the Chartreuse before I left Florence and I have fortunately worked well over there, I managed to introduce the beautiful legend of Barlaam in my poem and combine it in a successful way I think with the story of Father Damian. Going to London? It is unfortunately out of the question – added to the fact that I have no money I must get back to work, hopefully on a regular basis, next week. But you know that you made me a solemn promise to come here by autumn. Your room is already made and expecting your arrival. Horne should go back to London at the end of the month and everyone was well in Fl[orence]. Best wishes G.

Letter 5: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

17 June 1896 Ixelles 25 Great College Street Thank you very much my dear friend. Such a pretty little edition you have sent me and it will fit well next to the Golden Treasury, the Coleridge, the Byron and the Landor that you have given me. I have just finished reading the preface and am very happy to have it because all I need to do now is translate it to have a decent introduction to my translations, but he is quite right in saying that the comments he makes in this preface – are made for young scholars – and not as evidence that he always follows his own rules. For the criticism he formulates against Keats’ Isabella is valid but would have been all the more valid had it been against The Scholar Gipsy, The Strayed Reveller, Tristram, and all those poems that I however appreciate so much, as you know. I have read a very beautiful one that I didn’t know in this edition – Philomela – I would be grateful to you again for a postcard. OG.

Letter 6: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

29 June 1896 Ixelles to Great College Street My dear Laurence. Thank you so much for all that you have tried on my behalf with Seel: about Fra A[ngelico] I have been waiting day after day to thank you because I was expecting a letter from Seeley but nothing came. So I consider the case closed and with all my heart I thank you for having tried to make it succeed. It did not materialize also because I have had a bad spell for the last two weeks. I have told you already have I not that I didn’t receive the prize I was hoping for either, and the worst thing is that my work has been very bad during all that time. But a new week is starting now – I feel more confident and of course the tide will turn. I have forgotten Taras Bulba by Gogol again – I will have it sent to you at my next outing. And Mayer, don’t we have any news? And the bicycle? Mine has come back: it is the only thing I enjoyed these days. You must come several days in September, for a week if possible. There are some charming rides to do by bicycle around Brussels. G.

Letter 7: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter
How kind you are, dear Laurence, and how I wish, as I told you the day before yesterday, you were here to help me in the "exhilarating" work I have undertaken. But perhaps it is better for us to be apart right now: for if we were in the same town, we would spend all the time during which we are not together looking for remarkable pieces that we would show each other triumphantly in the evenings, and then our enthusiasm would be such that we would be utterly unwilling to destroy the beauty of the poems by any kind of translation, however perfect it may be. Dunque, as madame Bartoli says, I received yesterday evening the Browning and the Landor that you were kind enough to add to – this anthology which outshines mine in completeness and perfection, that you are keen on building up in my bookcase. I am delighted with them, especially the Landor/he has in this portrait a good and kindly bulldog face that pleases me and makes me trust him wholeheartedly – as to Browning – for what I have also read I do not like him either – he has a Germanic mind – he likes Italy and Greece as Germans do – through their obscure and pretentious philosophy. Confound them! As you rightly say about good old Seeley who indeed hasn’t written to me – which does not matter to me anymore, because at the moment all I wish to do is finish – if possible – my anthology for your arrival here – so we can review and correct it together. Il fracombe! Courtenay! I could not believe it you know, Courtenay is an old castle in Blois – but surrounded by a big park, with trees like Turner’s – and long garlands of roses all around the castle. For Il fracombe - it is still more beautiful. Jagged rocks dipping into a wild sea. Crumbling towers at the peak of the rocks – towers and halls that seem to have been carved into the stone and belong there because they have been clinging to it for centuries. And for centuries day and night the raging swell of the sea gushes around the foot of the towers and a swirl of sea foam spurts up to lick the old walls of the castle. And all seems abandoned and desolate from the outside, amidst rubble and ruin, but inside King Harold and Queen Blanche hold a noble assembly of dancing courtiers. No heavy knights and bubbling healthy ladies, but lithe and gracefully swirling figures clad in rainbow coloured robes and gowns, for it is only the soul of deceased kings, noble ladies and lords that inhabit the towers of Il fracombe and dance at night in the hall of the palace. So there you are, dear friend, that is what happens when you tell me about Il fracombe – I really don’t think it exists in any other way – but if you go there write to me and tell me if it resembles my description. And now, I must go to my work – as English artists would tell visitors who linger a little too long in their workshops. Let us write often, if you do not mind during these times – but no more letters. It is too long. I will keep you informed with postcards about the choices I make for each poet and the progress of my work. I send you my best wishes and all my gratitude for the books – and do remember to keep those eight days in September! Yours. Georges Very amusing what you tell me about Horne – if you see him send him my regards and to Image as well. And our Greek project – It will have to be postponed till another year don’t you think? What seems most likely is that we will meet again in Florence next winter - and for eight or ten days we will undertake a walking journey in Tuscany. Yours my dear friend. My brother is in London – he might go and see you if he can spare some time – treat him well and please show him the Malcolm G. collection. When you come here I will take you to the other cantag[alli] to drink some Chianti and eat risotto - Buminimo Signore. And Mayer. Just a word when you write me a postcard?

Letter 9: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

12 Aug 1896 Ixelles to Binyon chez Pye Cliff Cottage Dear friend. Dunque. Do not send me a volume of Blake but if you can find a cheap edition of Keats’s letters in a single volume I would be very happy to receive it – because I translated with great enthusiasm the Odes – a part of the sonnets and a few odd pieces such as: la Belle dame sans merci – and The Imitation of Spenser – but I was greatly disappointed when I translated the Song "O Sorrow – why dost borrow ?" etc Do you find it very beautiful? I hope there are some much more beautiful things in Endymion? For to be honest I don’t see him at all in those easy rimes and general chaos. (PS you must tell the truth, I will be very interested to know if you like that song by Endymion) And I would like you to point out two things to me in a postcard: 1. the most beautiful excerpt(s) from Endymion that could be parted from the poem 2. The most beautiful or the two most beautiful prose dialogues by Landor. Because my translation is in prose, I see no reason after all why we should not make an exception in his favour – especially as Landor (of which I am most pleased) is considered by poets as a true poet and particularly for his prose poetry. I have added the charming poem Lewti to my Coleridge. Regards to lord Bollicini. G.

Letter 10: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

14 Aug 1896 Ixelles to Great College Street Ne cherche jamais à dire ton amour L’amour qui ne peut jamais être dit Car ce zéphyr charmant se meurt Silencieux et invisible Je dis mon amour, je dis mon amour Je lui dis tout mon cœur Tremblant, transi, en de craintes mortelles Hélas ! Elle partit ! Tôt après qu’elle m’avait quitté Un voyageur arriva Silencieux, invisible Il la prit avec un soupir ! That is dear friend the little poem by Blake that I told you about, I will also translate the Infant Joy and the Cradle Song from the Golden Treas[ury] (also To the Muses) but it is not enough. I will need at least a dozen of these little pieces. You are right dear friend, I know very little about Devonshire and I ask nothing better than to admire it but I will always prefer the blue sky and the country’s wealth of master pieces, its fill of memories of Saints and unequalled artists and superb provinces – to any other country. But after this holy land, you know well that like you it is the south of England that I prefer. These days I also reread, after having translated Keats (the Odes), your "I have too happy been" it is a charming piece that I had at first – mea culpa – read very foolishly. I will reread your 2 volumes before your arrival and will be better prepared to give you my opinion about them. Regards. G I have translated Mutability very beautiful except the awful pleonasm in the 2 first verses – PS fortunately the last one makes up for the whole thing.

Letter 12: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

22 Aug 1896 Ixelles 25 Great College Street Dear Laurence thank you very much but really it is too much I will never dare ask you for anything anymore. I am very happy to have both books because I really enjoy these "imaginary conversations". I will read with great pleasure Epicurus and Leontion but will not translate it - because with what I have already translated it would be too long. I translated today the very pretty story of Enallos and Cymodamelia. I will translate the Hamadryad again I think and would like to finish with Rose Aylmer and some of the short poems at the end of the volume. But Rose Aylmer’s charm is mostly in the words and it is difficult to give their equivalent. In the meantime I have read in the Havelock Ellis edition the life of the very entertaining Walter Savage (Savage indeed) and was very amused at the story of the cook and the violets – it is a pity we haven’t known this good old Savage, we would have been good friends. And lastly, thank you for the 3 Blakes that are charming and that I rehearse with as much strong feeling as I used to rehearse Omar Khayyam’s verses in Florence and thank you for Emily Brontë whom I discovered with interest this morning through the poems you pointed out and the poems and the notice written by her sister. The verses are charming, but to my mind what you like so much about her is mainly your love for Devonshire landscapes. What I mean is that you project yourself a little in your reading. Also reread London Nights. The 1st poem August – The Escape are very good the Impressions are also suggestive of light and especially London noise or any other big city. Regards You must come at least for 8 days on the 20th.

Letter 13: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Sept 2nd 1896 Ixelles to 25 Great College Street "Blake was the first to revive the lost lyric art of the Elizabethans" I do not quite understand what you mean by that dear Laurence. I suppose you are referring to a specific type of "Lyric" – because in the Golden Treasury that you gave me there are, if I am not mistaken, three parts – first those very poets of the time of Elizabeth – then a second part in which Blake is in himself but in which others who were there before him have also written "Lyrics". And then have not Dryden and Milton, who came after Elizabeth and before Blake also written "Lyrics"? There is here something that my ignorance of English poetry does not permit me to understand. Would there be an affordable Blake edition with a very good preface which would explain Blake’s distinction in this? If it does not exist you will explain it to me when you come but what I would like for the time being is, if you can spare the time, for you to leaf through a Blake collection and find one or two beautiful poems (2nd card) or poem excerpts somewhere in his work. Is there really nothing good in Hell’s book or in his other long poems? I translated yesterday - tiger tigera cradle song. An Infant JoyTo the MusesHow Sweetly I roamed (How sweet I roam’d) etc. ah Sunflower – I was angry with my friend.It is very good. But as you can understand poems lose a lot of their quality in French and it is rather unsatisfactory! – the most beautiful is the one you sent me – Sweetly I roamed – If I had three or four like that one I would be happy. I should not have asked you to copy them in poems. I had forgotten that I had a n° of the portfolio composed by Richard Garnett in which I found them. I finished Matthew Arnold yesterday, it includes 1 The Strayed Reveller 2 a fragment of the 1st poem of Tristram – 3 Iseult of Brittany 4 The Church of Brou (3rd part) 5 Dover Beach 6 Self Dependence. I will endeavour to include one or two verses from Thyrsis and the Scholar Gipsy in my literary notice – I have now finished Byron. Wordsworth. Coleridge. Keats. Tennyson. Landor (very good translation!) D.G. Rossetti. Swinburne and Shelley almost. I still need to finish Browning – of which I do not know at all what to translate – then do Emily Brontë and Christina [Rossetti] and finish Blake. I would like to have finished all my translations for your arrival so we can go over them together – or at least some passages together and we can discuss the notices that I still need to write.

Letter 15: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Sept 4th 1896 Ixelles to 25 Great College Street No! No! Don’t send me a Blake’s edition with a bad preface. The preface is all I want. If you see Johnson tell him that his mysterious and wild bardic Friend Yeats ought to send me, not his large book on Blake – but a study, an essay as he is sure to have written one and as he - Yeats- promised me once to do. You begin to understand quite well what a good thing is a postcard and the lot you can write on it. Everything you have told me about Blake is clear and you include Dryden and Milton in the Elizabethans – and if you put Burns aside – then I understand very well without any other explanation what you were telling me. If I ask for an essay on Blake it is to have details about these literary works. Rest assured, our holidays will not be compromised by the inspection of my work. Everything will be settled for it to be over – for our discussions it is another thing and while we stroll and eat and smoke I will interview you about the Lyrists but you like them well enough for it to be pleasant for you. I am translating Browning – I have found out the reason why I dislike him – he is a virtuoso, a man of taste and a scholar, an artist, a playwright, but not that which is so difficult to define and is a "Lyrist" – non è vero? Next week I will devote to Christina and Emily [Brontë]. Then I will review the whole – annotate it and I will wait for our discussions before I write my critical notices. As you speak so clearly about Blake, could you give me an explicit, precise and conclusive definition of a lyrist – it is difficult to say because Browning who has written drama is not a lyrist. Aeschylus, Shakespeare, through their dramas only are lyrists. What is a lyrist? I eagerly anticipate your next p. card. But what is this new book you are speaking of – the one you are writing at Florence. Landor’s book is really very well made. You can congratulate him on my behalf if he still remembers me.

Letter 17: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Sept 14 1896 Amsterdam to Hotel Doelen Amsterdam [in red, hasty] have written at Krasnopolsky that I am expecting you tomorrow Tuesday at 11.8 in the evening at Bruxelles nord – inside the station – on your arrival platform – near the locomotive!

Letter 19: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

25 Sept 1896 Ixelles to Great College Street My dear Laurence. If you are happy with what you have seen I am certainly as happy to have seen it again with you and that my two favourite parts of Belgium, the pious and silent Bruges and the Meuse (which I refrain from commenting upon, in deference to your poem – that I will delight in reading) pleased you and inspired you with poems. When I got back I looked in vain for Keats’s poem in the two editions I have at home. When you come back to Bruges bring it along, we will read it as we go in a canoe along one of the sleeping canals. The book – very gorgeous – I received yesterday is perfect and will be very useful to me – if you would be kind enough when you are at the British to copy out the notices relevant to – Bowning, Arnold, and Christina it would be perfect – what I mean by notices – only 4 or 5 lines of biographical information – for those 3 poets – with the notices I have concerning them – it will be more than enough. I have already written to Seeley – I told him we were in Bruges together – that you had hired (!) me to write a book on Bruges and that you were kind enough to promise me to go to him, Seeley, to explain how it could be interesting. I have also sent a little poem – a bad one – to the Pall Mall G[azette] and I have resumed work today thanks to your book – very happy with my holidays and thanking you most sincerely for having come. Yours. G.

Letter 20: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

29 Sept 1896 Ixelles to Great College Street Scott. Moore. Campbell. Hood. Lamb. Wolfe. And even E. Barett [Browning] Scott’s Melrose Abbey – the pride of youth – The maid of neidpath – moore Dear Harp of my country – the young may moon – At the mid Hour of Night. Echo. Oft in the stilly night E.B.B Two sonnets from the S[onnets] F[rom] the Portuguese Wolfe The burial Of SJ Moore to Mary Campbell. Ye mariners of England and Hohenlinden (« far flashed the red artillery » very fine work) Lamb the old familiar faces. Parental recollections Hood I remember I remember – The death bed. And even Samuel Rogers the Sleeping Beauty A Wish and 10 lines from Italy. That is definitely all now. I am happy I added these names because Campbell, Moore, Lamb, Wolfe and Hood deserve to be there and it is complete from the point of view of the public with the addition of Scott, E.B.B. and Rogers who are poor poets – I have started to translate all these people for the notices bored me so much I will work on them today because I intend to start on other tasks after the 15th, on which date I hope this anthology will be entirely done – When was Swinburne born? – if you could also give me 4 or 5 lines (no more) on him it would be perfect. Why did you say in a postcard that you though I wouldn’t like Campbell? – on the contrary I like it – it is heart-warming and I recite those words gesturing wildly as if I had myself performed all the deeds. Do read in the same Heroic line the poem by V.H. that I told you about. The poem I am referring to is in the 1st volume of the Légende des Siècles and is entitled Aymerillot. The verse at which I would always stop, being unable to continue, is at the end of Aymerillot’s speech "mais tout le grand ciel bleu" etc. Do not read anything else in the volume – apart from the Chevaliers Errants. Regards O.G.D.

Letter 21: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

2 Oct 1896 from Ixelles, Brussels 25 Great College Street You are the most charming of friends and the best of young English poets. The poem you have sent me is very beautiful and I would translate it easily if I could include you in my anthology – but it will be for another edition – in which I will be both pleased and proud to give you a central stand. I wished for the dedication you gave me – I am very happy to have it and send you my most heartfelt thanks. You are quite right to think of that pretty fragment from Keats – reminiscent of Bruges – I will endeavour to find a small place for him – for Scott – as well, you were right to point out to me the two pieces of work, which are far better, to my mind, to those I have translated – but what kept me from translating the 1st one is that I didn’t know if in Donuil Dhu, Dhu was a proper noun –as he writes further on Clan with a capital C I thought that Dhu might be a qualifier – is it a proper noun? And Coronach, which is the best verse of all – I did not translate it because I do not know what Coronach means and what it has to do with Duncan. I wrote half of my preface yesterday and hope to have finished it by today or tomorrow – that was the most difficult – the notices will go quickly and I am finally able to catch my breath. The weather is more beautiful since 2 days. I will resume my sonnet!

Impossible to put everything on a single card! I wanted to tell you that I cannot go to London because I have neither time nor money – and especially not time – the anthology is a useful volume though it is but a hobby – I will not be happy until I have finished it. It is my poem that I will resume as soon as the anthology is done – but I was thinking this morning that we should nonetheless see each other more often – and we could do it if not every month at least every other month for a day. According to the guide a train leaves Charing Cross at 5.35 p.m. and arrives at Bruges at half past midnight. We could both stay at the Panier d’Or and spend the whole of Sunday together. So as soon as you can write to me and I will go to Bruges – when we will have had enough of Bruges – we could go to the sea – and we could also see each other more often by each going half the way towards the other. The 2 addresses are Mlle Evrard 12 etc. – and madame Marie Destrée- chemin des Hauchies. Marcinelle – Charleroi. As soon as I find a publisher I will tell him about Walker’s idea. Thank you very much. And finally, thank you for the biographies – when you will have sent me the six proper lines on Christina you shall be free! Regards to H[erbert]P[ercy]H[orne] X.S.I

Letter 23: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Oct 5 1896 From Ixelles to 25 Great College Street My dear Laurence thank you for your postcard received this morning. Before anything else let me congratulate you on your red ink – quite beautiful and do tell me where it came from when you write next – thank you for the biographies and the indications I asked for. I will translate Coronach and Donuil Dhu. The announcement of a photograph of Rossetti is a fascinating thing to me – I still admire him immensely – and no modern painter has yet matched those feelings. I will write to Jackson as soon as I receive it. I suppose you have seen Seeley? And that he has told you that he would write to me what he did write, that is that Bruges would not be a success – it has troubled me – and somewhat compromised my voyage to Italy – but not in the least discouraged – I have nearly finished writing the preface I was worrying about – the notices will go fast and I can then go back to my poem. I read all day today a large biography on Emily B. by Mary Robinson and I found the analysis of her novel very interesting. I will take it from my cousin’s bookcase next week – the topic reminded me of the strange topics – from the strange Britannic author I told you about in Marcinelle: Barbey d’Aurevilly I have not forgotten about the name I promised I would send you – but have been out so little! When I next go out I will send it.

Oct 5 1896
A new poet has joined my anthology in spite of myself dear Laurence – I am very keen on writing myself the article on William Morris in the Mercure de France. And have just written to them to express my desire to do so. Would you please send me the 2 or 3 journals that contain interesting articles – either about his death – concerning which the Etoile read this morning gives no detail – or as biographical notices. And could you please tell me the books and poems by him that you like best – that is – only books of poems. Which is to your mind the best one – and if possible which poems within this poem are the best – regards O.G.D. The earliest I can have these journals the better – for I have to begin my article immediately. Thank you in advance and a thousand apologies for this new trouble!

Letter 24: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter
"Tradutore traditore" never has the Italian saying been so justified than by that devil of a woman whom Seeley hires to translate the Portfolio. Not one of my sentences has remained whole and every specific word has been carefully replaced by some common telegraphic or telephonic term, the only ones that this respectable lady seems to know. As you are now aware of it and that you will inform Horne or Image in case they see the Portfolio, it matters little to me, but if you look through it, look through it in the way you would a paper that sums up a speech, it is precisely the impression given by the translation. What bothers me the most about this is that the translation is terribly late and because of her the P[ortfolio] will not be published before the 10th or the 12th which will put Seeley in a bad mood against me, who am blameless, because if he had agreed to my suggestion to have my article translated here, it would have been finished long ago now, the translation would have been less correct and the P[ortfolio] would have been published in time – this long explanation in case you see Seeley and he mentions the Portfolio. So you are back in the B[ritish] I envy you your daily presence in those quiet rooms full of engravings and sketches by celebrated masters. As to me, the people of my government seem determined not to appoint me, so I have decided to go to Florence, from where I will ask S[eeley] if I can send him a translated and ready to be printed P[ortfolio] on the Beato Angelico – now it is your turn to send me some news, what most beautiful sights have you seen and how far are you on your poem on St Augustine. PS I am sending you by mail what I did not send from Spain because I was not sure of your address. « con ringraziamenti ». Wait until you are inclined to writing, but then write me a long letter. Regards to Horne and Image.

Letter 26: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Oct 7 1896 Bruxelles to 25 Great College Street My dear Laurence. Thank you for the journals and indications about Morris. We agree about what you say of him as a poet and on the pieces that should be translated. I want to write this article because what I loved (?) about him was the ideal craftsman that he was. I will send you the article when it is published. About what you tell me of Mr. Garnett – it gives me great pleasure (because of the house in London) – I have incidentally found out about this translation by Mr Angellier and I think that Mr Garnett’s recommendation could be very useful to me with Hachette who remain my dream editors. So if Mr Garnett would be kind enough to write a letter of introduction for me for Mr Angellier I will write or call on him to ask if there is a way I could reach Hachette – and if not Hachette another – please thank Mr Garnett on my behalf and believe me, dear friend – yours eternally grateful – thank you for Seeley as well of course and do not worry anymore. I have received the beautiful Shoolbread Miss Evrard is "aux anges" (a pretty expression which you do not have [in English]) and is very grateful to you.

Letter 28: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Oct 17 1896 Brussels to 25 Great College Street My dear Laurence. I received this morning your letter with Garnett’s letter enfolded. And thank you very much for it. I had not written to acknowledge receipt of your postcard because it said "Garnett is writing" so I waited from day to day to tell you at the same time that I received the letter. I have been very busy all week writing my article on Morris for the next issue of the Mercure de France it is only half done but I hope to have finished by tomorrow or Monday and I am rather pleased about it. I will write to Angellier as soon as I have finished the article that they are expecting at the Mercure and I have already written to Mr Garnett to thank him. Next week I will resume my preface that I have rewritten – because I would like to explain two things – how the taste for English literature came to France 2. The main differences between the two poems. It has never been properly explained and is not an easy task. Thus I presume that I will only have finished the anthology by the end of the month. And you, what have you been up to and why are you so "hurried"? Thank you for the ink and maple.

Letter 29: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

20 Oct 1896 Brussels to 25 Great College Street (part of the post card has been torn away) Each time I write to you I must start by saying "thank you" I do not complain – quite the opposite I admire your considerate kind-heartedness and pointlessly wish I could be useful to you in turn. Dunque let me first answer your card. Angellier I will write to him this morning – I went to see his two books on Burns at the library yesterday. The work is remarkably well done exhaustive and well written. I had found (…) address on his book thank you. Smith: yes, yes he paid me when I was (…) as much as he told me he would but sufficiently – I wanted precisely with you (…) for them – and now for me – the honour of being received at the British to give you the letters of (…)–[Sé]verin and also a volume by Goffin (Arnold) le fou raisonnable – at Alexandre (…) librarian in Brussels. Giraud. Pierrot lunaire. (Lemerre Paris) Pierrot narcisse. Comédie fiabesque (in verse) Hors du Siècle - 2 volumes – Les dernières fêtes –all published by Lacomblez Bruxelles Séverin – le don d’enfance. Un chant dans l’ombre Lacomblez (…) –ter buy also the Goffin if possible. His collection is one of the best collections of prose poems that I know. He has only sold three! I think. Is very ill. And to know that the British has accepted his book would be for him a little pleasure I would be glad to have contributed to – I have written a good article – better at least than those on him that I have seen – for the next Mercure de France. There will be a special issue I think. I will probably add one or two beautiful poems by Morris – translated – and some reproductions (…) to his work that will make for an amusing "presentation". I have read the Saturday Review and the Athenaeum at the Library without finding the article mentioned by H[erbert]P[ercy]H[orne] which I found amusing as it made me believe that once again it had come too late! With my warmest regards. G.

Letter 30: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

9 Nov 1896 from Brussels monsieur Olivier Gerry, 25 Great College Street Westminster (crossed out) Laurence Binyon, The British Museum Do you think, dear friend, that I am dead? One could have thought so as I haven’t been communicating for so long, this silence is due to my expecting until now and wishing to impart to you an answer from Angellier, that devil of a man – to whom I wrote two letters – (specifying well on both envelopes the name and the address) and from whom I received no answer to the point that I wonder if he is not dead! It would be amusing yet also baffling this correspondence with a deceased person. I suppose that in a few days or a few weeks the French post will send me back my letters but what seems certain is that this mischievous man is not in Lille anymore and I do not know where to find out his address. Has his volume of sonnets been published after the "Burns"? If it has I could in that case write to the address that you gave me, but I think his volume of sonnets was published before. Would you believe it my dear friend – I am ashamed to say so – that I will not have finished my volume until the end of the month! I was held up by my article on Morris which appeared in the last issue of the Mercure and that I will send on although it will not be very interesting to you. Then my notices that I believed would be quickly done have taken me a day each – and sometimes as with

Blake’s two to three days. That one is very well done. I summarized well the postcards you sent me about him and after having thought about the Macmillan books that I recommend in my volume I wrote to him to ask if he deems it appropriate to send me the 4 volumes by Humphrey Ward? And with the explanations that I gave him I believe he will send them and I will then be able to send yours back after having kept it for so long. I saw again a volume today that I think is very well done – by a Florentine poet - Domenico Tumiati. I thought I would give you both pleasure by asking him to send you this interesting and poetically inspired volume – and by promising that you would mention it or would have it mentioned by the Saturday Review. So if you are not doing artistic books for the Saturday look through the volume when you get it – then send it on – and recommend it please – to the editor of the Saturday Review – and if possible when ours will have come out – send it please to Domenico Tumiati-Ferrara. I realize that I have forgotten to tell you that the topic of the volume is our dear friend "Fra Angelico" I read yesterday some prose (translated) by Lamb - The South Sea House and Oxford in the Vacation, it is exquisite. As soon as I go out I will buy the Tauchnitz that is about him to read it in English and make him a "good" notice. And you my dear friend, what have you been doing. I hope you will also need two cards to tell me about it and I send you my warmest regards. O.G.D. Could we not meet at Bruges at Xmas?

Letter 31: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

14 Nov 1896 from Brussels 25 Great College Street My dear friend. I have asked the author of "Fra A." to send it to Horne if it had not already been done. If he sends it to you, could you change the address and send it to Horne c/o m. Cantagalli 1 via Michele di Lando. F/T ? One of my Parisian friends whom I begged to see Chailley, the editor, tells me that they do not know any other address for Angellier – found the ones in Lille – to which I had written twice – my friend tells me that he thinks he has seen this Angellier at Heredia’s – and apart from his surely immense talent – he is a shy and blushing little man who does not seem – at first sight – to have any influence with an editor such as Hachette. And now, listen – if I wrote a clear and detailed letter to Garnett explaining in detail the content of the volume (either Garnett or Colvin) do you think one of them might recommend me to Hachette? I also think as my Parisian friend does that the recommendation of a director of the British would have more weight than that of Angellier – supposing he would answer, which seems unlikely. Please advise me on what you deem is the best thing to do. If Garnett is surprised because Angellier has not answered tell him I am all the more puzzled – because I had naturally written a particularly cordial letter to Ang. and I had read his two volumes on Burns to make it all the more flattering. If you think that it is too complicated, do say so freely because I am starting to think that the best thing to do would be to take a train at the end of the month and explain myself to Hachette without further ado. Regards. O.G.D.

Letter 33: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

20 Nov 1896 Ixelles to 25 Great College Street Et [illegible] reinvexit Angellier subtle scholar of Lille university. To my astonishment I received this morning a very gracious letter in which he apologizes for his delay due to his parents’ illness – and in which he proposes to recommend me to Colin which is to his mind better than Hachette. He asks me to send my notebook on Keats that I had offered to send him so he could look at my translations. I will send it to him tomorrow and suggest to go and see him on Sunday to show him all of my work. I hope it will work out but I do not dare speak of when I will be through with my notices as they each take a day or two to finish. And I still have 12 to do! Would you please thank Mr Garnett on my behalf for his kind suggestion of an introduction to Beljame Angellier is evidently better. I will write myself to Garnett to thank him as soon as something is arranged - your Praise of Life is most welcome. I envy you and beg you to forgive me if I do not write anymore today as I am weighed down considerably by all these notices I still have to do. Regards, and till next week. O.G.D.

Letter 35: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Dec 9 ? 1896 Brussels to 25 Great College Street Dear Laurence. Thank you for your card. The arrangements for Italy are perfect and I hope we will be able to tour Tuscany together. – Angellier is dead again, but I suppose I will receive an invitation one of these days to spend a Sunday in Lille. I am not really concerned about it though because I must before anything else finish my notices and my preface and I will be busy at it until Dec 31. You would be most kind and extremely patient as well for how much information have I not asked from you! If you could give me a little more information about Christina Rossetti and Swinburne. One postcard for each would be perfect. But you have time to do so at your convenience because they are the two last poets I will do and I will not need the information for another eight or ten days. I have the list of Swinburne’s work in these volumes, but what would be interesting would be a few details about his life. I am very curious to see your woodcuts because it is the only kind of sculpting that I value. Regards and a thousand apologies for disturbing you again with this anthology. PS I do not think any editor would consent to publish the text in English, considering. But I thought that what I could do is to append one or two original short poems to give an idea of their verse.

Letter 36: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

undated letter
Good evening my dear Laurence. I have just finished your new book of verses and am greatly honoured that you have dedicated such beautiful lines to me. - I should first apologize for not having written earlier but I wanted to wait for a quiet moment to read it and it did not happen before tonight. I do not know how it is I didn’t read your first poem better when you were seated at this table reviewing your first drafts. Your Montenegro is magnificent, and tonight it gave me the stunning impression of a beautiful Turner or one of Gustave Moreau’s superbly colourful aquarelles. Cattaro roofs and Cattaro quay grow faint and delicate: ships that ride on the dense blue slumbering sea dwindle: on either side from mirroring gulfs the mountain bare are mapped to the heaven, strange as a dream, the Adriatic afar trembles, a molten gleam. I don’t know if it is the most beautiful piece of the volume, but it is the one that gave me the most beautiful pictorial impression – whilst the rhythm of the verses that I have transcribed enchanted me. Prettier still is the rhythm of the simile - down in a shaded garden – that is my favourite in the collection. How lucky you are to have such a natural gift for writing! These days I was rereading the wonderful René de Chateaubriand who is decidedly the man who has written the most beautiful prose ever – and in a note that struck me ( - because I took up this volume hoping to experience the same beautiful impression as the one I had reading your verse - ) he confesses himself that "whatever we say the poet is man in his completeness and entire volumes will never replace fifty beautiful verses by Homer, Virgil or Racine." Fortunately he is still alive after a century and our memory of his glorious writing will endure, which is a consolation for proud prose writers such as your humble servant (O.G.D). I recognized with great pleasure in your work the clear and vivid impression of our excursion in the flowery fields under the great Weybridge sky. I very much admire your impressively evocative "oak" – very beautiful as well are the verses that precede Pale are the words etc. If I could place you in my anthology I could presently find a very personal spot for you: but it would be best to wait some more and devote a long article to you when you will have finished the two or three books you need to produce a full volume. And the anthology! Alas, alas, what a weight on my shoulders, never more, never more will I undertake anything so stupid as these notices. Anybody can do them and I can’t. I was also distracted from them all week by a big "pot boiler" which is the reprinting of my Portfolio on Sculpture by the Government, Belgian sculptors are going to ask for it and if it comes to pass I will have enough to spend several months in Italy in April, May and the beginning of June. But nothing will be decided I think before Xmas and till then I must get back to my preface and my maddening notices. Hang them! After Xmas I will have three full months to get back to my "Rois Mages" and I have yearned so long for them that I hope they will go fast. And you, my dear friend, where do you stand on your interesting pot boiler on Crome? I hope it is going well – and as we couldn’t go this year or the next one for our expedition in Greece – could we not go together to Florence or meet there – since the cold weather has come I think of nothing else but the dear town of Dante – the Bell Tower, the Ziomo? The Carcine, San Miniato: every day they spring to my mind. I hear the shouts from the streets, the suave Italian words, I must grip my working table firmly to avoid rushing to their call. But patience – pazienza – as they say in Florence – in four months, if God wills it, we shall walk arm-in-arm on paved and narrow streets and the magnificent comforting sun will shine over our heads in the city of Florence! In the meantime thank you again a thousand times for your Praise of Life and do write a short card to tell me if our projects – and the months – coincide for the winter. O.G.D. PS How is our dear Mayer – send him my regards – and summon him as well for April or May at Mellini’s!!

Letter 37: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

11 Jan 1897 Brussels to Great College Street Dear Laurence. I suddenly realized last night that I hadn’t thanked you yet for the interesting Saturday Review issue, very interesting the Rossetti and Horne’s article on Morris. I was very grateful when I received it – belatedly because of the silly Christmas and New Year disturbances and thank you warmly. I remembered at the same time that I have not yet sent you the strange novel by Barbey which I told you about. I ordered it from my librarian, but it will take a little time because it must be sent from Paris – And if you are still busy when you get it don’t read it, keep it for when you have some free time. There is no item of news in the book and I send it to you to keep until your thoughts go back to Emily’s Wuthering Heights. And if you still have time that day read l’Encorcelée there is an interesting analogy between the two minds. Since the 1st of this month my anthology is almost finished and I have resumed my poem on the Wise Men, my progress is very slow but I am very happy to be working at it. I wrote to Angellier ten days ago to ask him to send me a letter of introduction for Hachette and once again there is no answer. I will wait till the end of this week and then write directly to Hachette. How about you? How far are you on your great poem with the "tousled? Clouds". Horne says his mother is writing again on Botticini!!

Letter 39: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

22 Jan 1897 Charleroi to 25 Great College Street Very very very good. I am greatly pleased my dear Laurence that you in turn will lock yourself up for a month for a kind of "anthology" of Norwich poets. At the end of the month you will sympathise all the more with the great misfortune that befell upon me when I took on this Sisyphean task. Your postcard on Norwich is charming and if I come to England this summer we must go there together as you say – finished, my anthology? No. No. Perhaps on the 31st of January will I be rid of it – the camels did not fall in the snow but one of the Wise Men started talking with such loyalty that I simply cannot stop him – he talks at night in the mountains – and every day I must throw more wood over the fire for the people who are listening to him. If he goes on he will burn every pine tree in the mountains, but I have no more influence over him than Mr Speaker would have on a member of the House of Commons and I am resigned to let him have it his way. Angellier is a pig. He never answered my letters and I have now written to my friend Primoli and expect his reply. Certainly at the end of the month the Government will give me an order for the sculptors’ book. It will delay the Rois Mages – and we will thus both be busy at our "great poem" throughout summer. Regards. G.

Letter 41: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter
My dear Laurence, if I cannot come to London, your charming invitation received this morning has fulfilled half of its task by giving me great pleasure. For the last few days – still a victim of the anthology, I have felt the achingly slow pace of time until Florence, and I was complaining to Goffin last night that this was a bad month with no comforting work and no entertaining news, nothing which could disrupt the monotonous writing of my biographies and my critical notices - but then your card arrived this morning, and this charming proof of friendship fills me with joy for several days. And if I cannot accept immediately the much desired and tempting proposals that you express – it is not of course out of unease about sharing your present riches – for we are good friends enough for me to be very amused that you would send a Cooks’ ticket and I find it more amusing still that I should use it to come and see you – but there are other obstacles – the anthology that I must finish - the pot boiler on Belgian sculpture that I need to sort out in February – and especially – especially the fear I have of being exposed to the cold between Dover and Ostend – you know I have had bronchitis twice already - the first when I went to listen to Tristan and Yseult in Rotterdam – and the second when I went to see the Burne Jones exhibition in London – artistic delights that were followed by a month in bed – and a whole year of ridiculous and tiresome treatment – in both cases it was not of course the delightful anticipation to hear and see beautiful things which gave me a bronchitis, but a slight weakness of the larynx which I had before I left and got considerably worse on the journey. I have the same weakness now and the doctor tells me it is nothing at all, quite the opposite, I am getting better and better. If I take care of myself until March I will be rid of it for a long time and perhaps bronchitis, laryngitis and all other silly illnesses that have unceasingly bothered me these last two or three years will be gone forever. Dunque, I apologize to you for this detailed explanation of my petty health issues, and I hope you will forgive me for not going to London now – and that after the temporary annoyance at not being able to fulfil foreseen plans – you will see that I am right. 28 days of February and 30 of March still and we will meet again in Florence and – speriamolo – there will be no more anthology, no more pot boiler nor tiresome work in sight and we will be able to discuss and think together about the poem we will be doing in the summer. I really do want to go back to London to see you and have long talks with you. I have greatly wanted it these past weeks and if I still have a little money left over after my trip to Italy I will spend two weeks with you in the spring. The first time I went to England I was 18 years old, I encountered in Caterham some young ladies whom I met again in Hastings and whom I lost sight of for 5 or 6 years because I didn’t know their exact address in Croydon and I didn’t want to write randomly. This year for the New Year I wrote to them mentioning only – Croydon, Surrey, and the people from the post office were clever enough to forward my letter to one of the young ladies who is now married – and has thus changed her name (a very nice name she has now – Rose Noble – it reminded me of this enseigne I have seen at Ypres - à la noble rose – the nicest enseigne I have seen for an old auberge) and lives now in Torquay where she made me promise to visit her. And Torquay is in your dear Devonshire « fairer even than Tuscany! » so I really have to go there one day and I hope it will be in the springtime with you. I would also like to see the paintings of dear Madox Brown. I saw them formerly in Birmingham – and if you haven’t seen them yet you must see the Romeo and Juliet, because from what I remember it is as beautiful as the Shakespearian scene – the light of the fading dawn bathing Juliet’s face and the passion reflected in her manner still carry me away every time I think of them. And would you like me, dear friend, to partake in your riches? You would and give me great pleasure if you sent me the portraits of Keats and Shelley which you mentioned once in one of your letters – if they are very cheap – as you told me, do send me a duplicate of one of them – so that when I will have found an editor (quando? Quando?) I can send him one of the portraits – and another day if you still have some money left I would be delighted to receive from you an edition (cheap) of The Essays of Elia – because here I could only find the tales by Shakespeare – and if you send me the Essays you will add to the charming library of English poets that I have in great part thanks to you. The more I see Shelley – the more I like him and his face. I will give the portrait in the Book of Buxton Forman – to my sister in law, and order for her a larger and better version of the same portrait to put on my table. And when I come to England I must go immediately to the National Portrait Gallery to see – and talk to him. If you see Jackson tell him he never sent me the photograph of his Rossetti. There you are dear Laurence – if I could not see you in the flesh I have seen and spoken to you through my imagination while I have been writing this letter – do not read the Barbey until you find a moment when you have nothing better to do – write me a postcard to tell me you forgive me – Abbia pazienza – as they say in Florence and let’s correspond in postcards for a little while. Georges.

Letter 43: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

2 Fev 1897 Ixelles to Great College Street Lorenzo. Vi ringrazio molto per tu bellissima copia dei Essays del Lamb, per la leggiadra edizione di Dent & per la sua perfetta incisione in legno. It is really a very good engraving. I do not like the last Strange. But you very cleverly understood the strength and simplicity of the old wood engraving masters. I haven’t had time to read Lamb now but I am delighted to have it by me and at my disposal and delighted with the edition and the portrait – which enchanted and surprised me at the same time because as I was reading Lamb I would always think of Image telling a story! And between Image and Lamb there is at the very least a difference in hairstyle! Do not send any other edition for Lamb, this one is charming and is quite enough for me. I will read with care the bookmarked sonnets by dear Philip Sidney. If I cannot do it at the moment it is because I must finish my notices, my preface and review everything carefully for the 15th, at which date I must send the manuscript to Hachette. Dear Count Primoli to whom I had written in my distress sent a note to Paris immediately and I received a letter from the director of Hachette last Sunday, informing me that they are very willing to see my anthology – The Tyrol, no. It is all German there, but I would be delighted to go with Streatfield to Tuscany since he is your friend and I expect you both in Bruges next month. Regards G. And again, my warmest thanks.

Letter 44: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter
When we will have no more money you must tell – we will sell – or wash as we say – THEM ALL – my English poets – the two little books by Lamb shine like gems between the strict and dignified backs of their contemporaries and friends – and after all, having asked you not to send them, it would be impossible not to say now that you have exceedingly well done because I was extremely happy to see Lamb’s exquisite chatters – and in such an exquisite edition, with three portraits of him before me – it is almost as if we could spend an evening together. I found the one that had amused me so much – the first one I read – old and new Schoolmaster – the conversation in the "bus" of Bishopsgate! As we were the sole passengers he naturally enough adressed (sic) his conversation to me ! and we discussed the merit of the fare, the civility and punctuality of the driver : the circumstance of an opposition coach having been lately set up – with the probability of its success – (etc.) – when he suddenly alarmed me by a startling question, whether I had seen the show of prize cattle that morning in Smithfield!! It was this series of "copies" and the last one especially which thrilled me - and I didn’t know Lamb and had pictured Image filling the role of the schoolmaster’s interlocutor! And now that I have seen him – (C. Lamb ag. 53) – these tales amuse me all the more when I think of his bright eyes twinkling with mischief and the benignly soft smile of his thin lips. – the portrait of Hazlitt is interesting and beautiful in its own way – like an Antonio Moro – but "our" Lamb is that of his last Essays – C. Lamb ag. 53. As for Keats, to my mind, he looks perfect on this portrait – he is certainly the man of his verses – dreamy and passionate – and I am delighted to have it. And now dear Laurence – thanking you with all my heart – for the charming interruptions of my work that these sent gifts have been to me – I take my leave of you – because it is eleven o’clock – and I must try to finish my notice tonight – about dear Tennyson – who has given me much pleasure, I reread Garetz? – Enide – and Elaine, but weighs heavily on my shoulders – now that I have to turn my enthusiasm into a summary and an "exhaustive" and "precise" notice. I thank you again with all my heart and till next month at Bruges right?

Letter 45: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

8 Fev 97 Ixelles to Great College Street Samuel taylor. C[oleridge]! I was very happy to see him with the clever look of his eyes and the sensuous indolence of his mouth. – and I think that after all and from this portrait there wasn’t much he could complain about in his personal appearance. As for Keats – it is rather a disappointment – we see so little of him and so much of the horrible chair he is leaning against. I once saw a far better portrait of him in one of Mr Boyer’s collections. We must ask Cust to buy it for the National Gallery – but of course I am very grateful to you because I was delighted to see it – and to know what this portrait by Severin that I so much wanted to see looked like. Yesterday afternoon I read a little of Lamb – Captain Jackson – and amicus redivivus! How funny – I took it last night to my dear Paul Tiberghien so he could admire the fine soft smiling lips – and the eyes - of our dearest Elia and I read Captain Jackson to P Tiberghien and Goffin and they enjoyed it very much. There is only Banville whom I can think of who has written a book of prose so exquisitely witty and charming – but of course with the difference of wit instead of humour. Could you indicate to me the names of the poets whom Walker has photographed? I will enclose both pictures with the manuscript and send it soon to Hachette.

Letter 47: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

11 Mar 1897 Ixelles to Great College Street Dear Laurence. Thank you very much for your kind card. I am of those « who make the best of things » I do not lose faith easily – and if I do – it is for a few hours only – and I would keep faith I believe – in any given situation – as long as I can see and hear – for every poet – and for every man our senses are blessed treasures that can last our whole lives – yes – do come to Bruges the 21st or the 28th – it is the same for me – come on the 28th if you prefer – but do come – we will then know precisely what our plans are and agree on what can be altered – We will alter them better over there – than in evanescent correspondence. And we will see each other, and in the old town we will talk for the whole of a long expected day. Is my portrait a woodcut – it looks like a lithograph and I think much better than the first print you have done. I think that you are improving very much. Have you read all the beautiful interviews of king Georgos? I like him very much and hope our friend Ionides and all the keepers of the British are supporting him as much as they can. Ionid: he should lend a boat with voluntary workers and take us to Greece – we could have Image aboard serving as chaplain – and we would be in charge of writing the epic. I am looking again at my portrait – I like it – and thank you very much for it. But don’t forget will you, to send me the address of Walker. Do you think that mayer is still able to speak properly any language after having travelled for prints in so many countries?

Letter 49: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

22 Mar 1897 Ixelles to Great College Street Change in sight in my plans! And I would like to say in our plans. I do not have any money to travel to Italy and I could hardly, even if I borrowed some, leave before April 20. I think it is too late to go to Florence this year. The Cantagalli are in mourning for madame’s father who passed away very recently. And especially – spring – which came yesterday, is evolving so quickly and so beautifully that I really do not feel like leaving for the South at the moment. I hadn’t seen spring here for such a long time. With the greening shade of the coppices, buds cracking open at the tip of branches, clusters of blossoming daisies in the lawns, softening skies which

sweetly recall all springs past, everything beckons me to stay up North and witness the refreshing sweetness of flourishing spring. Only I need towns just as you do – and if I remember well we had planned to go to Devonshire and I was wondering if we could spend our holiday there together. What do you think? Perhaps you would rather go to Florence – if you can do both, go to Florence first on your own, and spare a few days to spend with me in Caerleon, Tintagel and over Lyonesse. We will discuss it at any rate on Saturday evening and Sunday at Bruges and these days Bruges will be gorgeous. Could you not stay till Monday evening? At any rate, unless otherwise instructed, I will be waiting for you on Saturday evening at 12.45 in Bruges. I will be inside the station on the platform at your arrival by train, and before you come I will have booked our rooms at the hotel Panier d’Or Grand Place. Write a postcard to tell me it is all fixed.

Letter 52: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

9 May 1897 Ixelles to Great College Street Your postcard in [La Lykeion [?] Lacédémonienne] contained 2 good pieces of news for me. The confirmation of our Cornwall excursion ("where Mark is king") and the very pleasant perspective of writing an entertaining book on old Flemish towns. From what you tell me I think the best thing to do would be to set up a little scheme, with a summary of the chapters, and send it to you when it is done. I will do so and send it to you when I am through. If you find the project feasible and likely to be to your friend’s taste, forward my letter to him – or else make the comments which you deem necessary for its acceptance – and after having taken them into account I will send you a revised version. Squire is very pleasant and interesting it is true – but I cannot refrain from considering him a dangerous lunatic – because in our talk he repeatedly said that Florence was "a horrid place"! I still can’t get over it! I have no news of the anthology yet, but I have many things to tell you – but we will soon be able to talk about them and that will be better. A magazine from here is devoting a special issue to my poems on Saints and this will give me work till the end of the month. And then all will be well! I hope they will take it at the Mercure. Regards to Streatfield and even Sq[uire] and thank you for your postcard. G.

Letter 54: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter
My dear Laurence. Thank you for the very kind postcard received this morning. I have been thinking about the book we could make for George Allen – and while I thought about the topic it appeared to me we had enough material to make two very different kinds of books – the one – an artist’s guide to the old Flemish towns – a cheap 2/G or 3/G book at the most with 25 photographic reproductions of paintings and monuments – and approximately 200 pages of text. The other – a luxuriously edited volume about Bruges with reproductions of everything of interest in the town Bruges – the Memling, Van Eyck and Gérard David with plates outside the texts – and with reproductions of churches and monuments in the text – (exception made for the halls and the belfry which would naturally come as such in the plates outside the texts – a volume the size of Malcolm Bell’s Burne Jones and which would sell in L[ondon]? Bruges. Artistic. Monumental and picturesque. I think that edited as such the volume would sell well – so well that if for some reason George Allen would not want it, I would ask your friend not to spread the idea because I am convinced that when I come to London and have time to run after publishers we will easily find one for the book. But this second volume will certainly be quite a bookshop business to undertake – and perhaps to deal with everything related to it should I wait to be in London. What I would like to do, and suggest to your friend is the first volume - an artist’s guide to the old Flemish towns. I will make a brief summary in the adjoining page which you can break off and communicate to your friend – so he can remember more easily – if you find it sufficiently "presentable" as such. If he likes the idea I could start in ten days and bring him, if not the full volume, at least the first part and the 25 reproductions when I come to London. If he makes the order soon I could more easily have it finished by the end of June – and I could review it with him and make some changes if he wishes to – which does not seem likely – because I will certainly do my best and in such a way that I could present this first volume to George Allen or any other publisher as a guarantee of a beautiful "final version" of my volume on Bruges. If your friend is happy with my book I think he would also be relieved as to the translation – easily done by the by – and Miss Coombe whom I would commission to do it, would do it I believe perfectly. PS Yes I will stay in London after Cornwall and I will be thrilled to see the Rossettis. I will also endeavour to find a "magazine" in Paris – but that is more difficult to arrange. Warmest regards. G.

Letter 56: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

23 May 1897 Ixelles to Great College Street Sunday morning is undoubtedly a good day because it regularly brings me good tidings in a postcard from London. I was about to write to you, to tell you that Allen could change my scheme however much he wants to. As soon as he writes to me I will let you know what he suggests and would be very happy if "our" scheme would work out. If I am going to Torquay? I will write to my friend today, and I will ask her if she is home during the first days of July and ask her to answer straight back – as soon as I get her reply (this week I presume) I will write to tell you if I will stop at Torquay or not. Yes – it would have been quite delightful to go to Oxford with you and Streatfield - let’s try to go there on our return from Cornwall if we still have some money – please send my regards to Streatfield to whom I will write one of these days to thank him for Nepenthe and soon some indications regarding Allen and Torquay. Regards. G. I saw last week some sights of Montenegro. What a beautiful country – and what a beautiful poem you wrote about it, I have read it again since. G.

Letter 57: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

5 Jun 1897 Ypres to Great College Street I really do not have anything special to tell you – apart from the few days I spent near Ghent and that I am today at Ypres at the Epée Royale hotel – that I have been on a lovely walk on the old ramparts that surround the city – lovely walk that to my mind only has its equal in the walk along the ramparts of Lucca. In both cities the ramparts are taller than the city itself – in such a way that you can see as you walk on your left hand side the city’s towers and picturesque rooftops and on the right hand side a wide stretch of country-side. I thought about you during the whole time of the walk because I am sure you would have enjoyed it very much – with the stagnant water crowded with blooming water lilies gently lapping the walls – and it certainly is beautiful because it makes you neglect the halls and the cathedral despite their splendour – but once you have seen the ramparts there is nowhere else you would rather go.

Letter 59: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

16 June? 1897 Ixelles to Great College Street Dear Laurence. Thank you for the letter about Allen – and do not look for anything else for the time being. Let’s go away and on our return from Cornwall we will try something else. Now about our departure – arrange it yourself – I am not at all keen on seeing the Jubilee – it would be better to go straight to Cornwall. Tell me which day I should come. (that day will be the eve of our departure) As soon as you know which day we leave let me know through a letter because I would like to warn my friends in Torquay and be ready as well. Must I take my evening dress for our return from Cornwall? Regards, G.

Letter 60: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

19 Jun 1897 Ixelles to Great College Street Understood, I will be there on the 29th and would be happy if you could book me a room for the night because the snobs will not be gone yet at that date and it is always better to make sure we have a gite ahead of time. I will write in a few days to confirm my arrival time. I will write to my friends to warn them of my coming on the 30th in the evening – two days with them – it is perfect and everything is sorting itself out. And if you walk by an agency with some travel literature on Cornwall please send me some – so I can see for myself – and first on a map – where Ruan and Tintagel are. We must gather a collection of marvellous and wonderful legends to animate and glorify the landscapes we will see.

Letter 61: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter
12 rue Van Elewyck
Now that I am back in what my friends call – my peaceful hermitage of the rue Van Elewyck – I recall with great joy all the beautiful things we have seen together – the wild and stunning coasts of Cornwall, the soft, poetic and homely landscape of Caterham, the town of dreams and legends that is Oxford for the likes of us, and the many refreshing happy walks in Weybridge : all of this is beautified through the memory of your brotherly friendship and the thousand little attentions you had for me, as you always do, during this trip. To say that I am grateful, is unnecessary, dearest friend; I would rather apologize to you tonight because during the journey I perhaps did not seem to appreciate as I should have the interesting and beautiful things that I saw thanks to you.
In fact I did appreciate them for what they were, and if sometimes my joy at seeing them and being with you was mitigated by a slight melancholy and lack of enthusiasm it had nothing to do with you nor the Cornwall landscapes. Like your friend Porphyrion I have been drifting for a long time, searching for a purpose in my life, just like him the time for feasts and voluptuous pleasures in the dazzling and fascinating Banqueting Halls is over – and if I am not yet at the end of my journey and have no idea of its ending, I have at least no doubt about what I must do now – and I know well that for me the only way to steady and constant happiness is to work and be useful for myself and others by writing the poems I have composed. I understood this long ago – but from its conception to its realisation a lot of time has gone by. I have had to battle firmly against the idleness of my nature: and when at the end of this winter I managed, through the practice of regular working hours to finish my anthology, which, though a useful and interesting piece of work, was only an excuse for me to get used to regular work and a practice for my poem the Rois Mages – I was baffled by such difficulties and met with such indifference as you know, that I began to lose faith for a few months, the last effects of which dampened my spirit during our voyage. This disheartening is over now, or nearly so, and by making me forget or taking me away from all the little miseries and deceptions I have told you about, the voyage did me much good. I will get back to work tomorrow and first I will finish the poems on St Jean Gualbert and Sainte Marguerite de Cortone that I want to publish in a booklet with the frontispiece of Burne Jones that I mentioned to you. The Chambers are on holiday here: there is no immediate rush to do my museum project and I will settle to work on it in two weeks at the same time as I will send them my pot boiler on their men. When they will come back my project will be ready and I will make a last vigorous effort to be appointed at the museum. Appointed or not I will then lock myself up to compose my poem on the Mages and if I can be through with it by next spring – then - all my sorrows will be forgotten – for I can think of many topics to develop. I have spoken enough about me – I have only done so for you to be sure that I am neither ungrateful nor unfriendly, only the days when I was pursued by the memory of my failed anthology, as well as that of my poem cut off for the trouble it had been causing me. Let’s talk about you now – with all my wishes of happiness for you and for your work, I send you on this day of celebrations (a poor present for the sender is not wealthy) the Tourgueneff books you wished to know. You have little time, and as you happily are in the midst of composition you are right to spare it. I have thus underlined what you should read in these two volumes. In the first one there are only some prose poems that Pye admires, and quite rightly so, and a pretty story, very Tourgueneff-like, entitled la Caille – in the other one a short and quite beautiful story – Le roi de la Steppe – you don’t need to read the rest. In case you were planning to take a solitary walk, either in Weybridge Hampton Court or in the London parks, I broke off from a book volume by Chateaubriand Atala and René – you can keep them in your pocket – their length will be less daunting than that of the full volume which contains the beautiful but endless story of the Natchez. I underlined the parts that struck me particularly and when you will get to those pencilled lines and when you read them it will be as if we were enjoying a reading together. As you understand – knowing me - I do not like the spirit in which Atala was written and even less so that in which René was. Pessimistic romanticism is quite fortunately not the fashion anymore, but, from he who is buried on the rock of the Grand Ré, I nevertheless greatly admire and am envious even of the beauty of the descriptions and the wealth and splendour of the poetical comparisons. You will find enclosed two photographs which you will like I hope – one is of a sketch by Purvis and the other 3 statues in the remarkable portal at Reims that I am planning to go and see with you, when we go to the Ardennes together, Reims is very close to Bouillon, that old feudal castle, which we must visit together and which will remind us of Tintagel! I still have many things to tell you and to wish you. I would like you to browse through Count Tolstoy again, because it has been such a good source of inspiration for yourself and for the unequivocal conclusion of your poem. I ask you once again to work with patience and care – I have no doubt that Porphyrion is by far the best work you have done so far. Cherish him to the end and do not let him go until you are quite sure that nothing more could make him better. Do not write a letter – let’s take up postcards again when you can spare some time. I also wanted to say that I was wrong in pressing you to read the Fioretti – read them when you find the right moment, but please, do read them in the open air – their delectable charm will seem all the greater. And now I will not keep you anymore, and sending you again all my best wishes – I tell you with all my heart – thank you – and see you soon I hope – Georges. Regards to Mayer and Image. Thank you for the letter you sent the other day. PS Paul Tiberghien admires Newman very much. He told me several times that it was really beautiful, and better than "very well done" as I said I read it badly in Tintagel and will do so better now.

Letter 62: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

11 Aout 1897 Ixelles to Great College Street Dearest. Thank you very much for the amusing narration of the Adventures of Alice, I read it with great pleasure – and a special thank you for your so charming letter which was sent at the same time as mine on our birthdays. For several years now, on the evening of the Saint Laurent I have watched stars shooting across the sky over the large and beautiful garden under my windows. I thought I would do so last night but I got so engrossed and thrilled with a short life of Saint Peter Celestine which I read in the evening that I forgot about everything else. It is one of the most wonderful lives which one could read about – I suppose you vaguely know about it - the hermit who was living in a cell on the most inaccessible heights of the Abruzzo and who acquired such a reputation of holiness that the cardinals who couldn’t agree on the choice of a successor at the death of Nicholas IV all agreed to elect him. The story of his life before his election, that of his five months of reign, the story of his abdication and the final years of his life – as well as the story of his countless miracles – are all so marvellous that they recall both Dante’s Paradise and the labours of the Angelus. I would very much like to send it to you but I read it in a magazine which doesn’t belong to me. Maybe the life has been published in a booklet since the article was published. If I can find it I will send it to you. Warm regards and see you soon. G.

Letter 65: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Aug 30 1897 Brussels to Great College Street Carissime. Thank you for your postcard which I found on my return from Marcinelle where I spent the last week. On one of the days of the week I went to the old abbey close to Marcinelle that they are restoring. The ruins of the abbey, a beautiful sunshine, and a river running at its feet all made me long to have you at my side. It will be for your next tour of Belgium, and we must think of it soon if as I hope you can come for a few days at the beginning of the autumn. I am glad to know that you liked the photograph of Reims as much as it deserves it – the portal is remarkable and we must see it together. When are you going to Dresde? Do stay somewhere, be it for a couple of hours only, in Belgium. I received a cordial letter from the director of the Dome for whom I will straight away write an article on ivory sculpting at the Brussels Exposition. Thank you very much for this article! I am starting a project on a new museum of industrial arts which will give me a lot of work but probably has a chance to succeed. My affairs are overall better and I am gaining strength and courage – very happy to hear that you have lost nothing of your productive verve. I am greatly anticipating reading le Banquet. P. Tibergh has ordered the apology of Newman from London. We are very intrigued and amused at your great dedication to him. We are hoping to find out why you admire him so much by reading the apology. Matthews told me this morning that he is sending what he owes me. I had threatened to sue him! (which I wouldn’t have done) but the threat bore its fruit. Regards to Image and Mayer. When is Mayer coming?

Letter 67: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Sept 12 1897 Brussels to Great College Street My dear Laurence. Thank you for the card received yesterday and the friendly offer of Mr Vieuxpré - but as you say – and as the dairy merchant of Exeter would say « it would be such a disappointment » for the friend who has translated the article and is waiting expectantly for its impression – and as it is only a few notes – and because you are willing to review the translation I would rather it were published in English. I wrote to Oldmeadow to tell him that I am writing to you this morning and that I will ask you to send the article in English and I told him that at some other time I would be very happy to see his article printed in French – I even suggested an article on the Halls of Ypres for a next issue – thank you for what you might add to the translation – what a pity you aren’t coming until October – if Dresde doesn’t work out and isn’t essential to see – do come over here – the weather is so bad in September that it will probably be better in October. The sky is all blue in anticipation and the last two mornings have been dazzling. And the banquet. I am waiting impatiently to sit down and listen to the tales of your guests – P. Tibergh. gave me yesterday Newman’s apology and I will read it this week. Regards. G.

Letter 76: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter, probably November 1897
Ixelles to 3 barton street "Che! Che!" as they say in Florence. You are guilty dear friend and if you had nothing to say it is because you hadn’t written for so long. I got your postcard at the same time as a note with a postal money order for 100 frcs, which is too much I think, for my "remarkable article", such are the terms of this good man whom I was starting (having heard nothing of him) to consider a villainous scoundrel of the worst kind! What you say about his pseudonyms is very amusing as is the story of the loyal old man. Finally – as I have made up my mind not to be paid for the anthology, I have found an editor – it is almost settled. He would like to make 2 editions, one for 3.50 and the other for 5 frcs – both with all the portraits of Blake, Southey, Moore, Wolfe, Shelley, Hood, E. B. Browning that I can reproduce – the others were photographed by Walker and Hollyer and I have a list of the portraits they have each taken. I greatly enjoyed myself for the last few days copying out with coral coloured ink the English texts of the poems I have chosen – or one or two poems per author copied out with a good reed and with a writing which would make even Image envious. If we could be seated at either end of the beautiful table we saw at the musée Plantin, being a copyist or an illuminator under Image’s stately authority would be a beautiful thing indeed. Tell Squire that the interpretation of the Meistersinger at La Monnaie is excellent, and that they will play les Béatitudes by Franck this winter. Do not write to my brother. I will tell him that you have asked me to thank him most warmly. PS Do not let so much time go by without writing: it is unforgiveable. 2nd PS This ink (coral) is the colour of Memling’s portrait in Bruges – I mean of his doublet.

Letter 78: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Dec 16 1897 Ixelles to 3BS My dear Laurence. How amusing it is to read my own letter remarkably improved by your translation, and I thank you most gratefully for all the trouble you have gone through for me once again. I have not much to say to you but I wanted to say directly at least how grateful I am. Nothing has been decided yet about the anthology, because I am still waiting for the letter from the ministry. They tell me he will certainly answer but the wait is always long. I have better hope for next year in any case. While I was at a friend of mine’s place (an abbot, great admirer of my humble prose), I met an editor whom he recommended to me as a very good and honest man, and who would like to edit Bruges, my book on sculptors, and some poems if I feel like giving him some. He even said through the abbot yesterday that if my arrangement with the anthology was not to my liking, I could go and talk to him about it – unfortunately his field is rather art works and I don’t think his clientele is big enough for the anthology – but I am nonetheless very pleased to have met him. The talk with Image about the bottle of Rum must have been very funny indeed. We will soon go and listen to him at Henekey at this rate, as one use to listen to Coleridge at Hampstead. As soon as the edition of your poems is decided on write to tell me. I am correcting the drafts of poems that will come out for Christmas, I will send them to you then. At the same time I will send you a portrait that a friend of mine will do next week – and when you have time for it I would be grateful if you could go to Hollyer’s. I will transcribe the letter to B.J. straight away and send it to him and let you know his answer as soon as I receive it. Thank you again and send my regards to Image. I will write to Squire one of these days. Regards to Pye as well, I will write to him at Christmas.

Letter 80: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

24 Jan 98
Dearest Laurence. Some time ago I accused you of neglecting me, and I told you that it was not good to leave me without news for such a long time. Now it is my turn to apologise and the reason for this long silence is that I hesitated about writing to you because the news I have to tell you is likely to upset you, and because of the decision I have made, it will be difficult for us to see each other as often as we would wish for some time at least. The decision I have made is to enter the seminary in Malines, study there for the three years of the Grand Séminaire and then be ordained a priest. Do you remember dear Laurence that quite some time ago during a walk in the forest near Brussels I imparted to you those feelings that were timidly rising in my heart of hearts. They weren’t ripe enough though to act upon: I didn’t mention them to anyone for a long while, except occasionally to my friend Paul Tiberghien, who advised me not to change anything of my plans until my calling would be clearer. So I waited for a long time, without thinking too much about my uncertain purpose, though striving to live with more dignity than before. As time went by, my dedication and my piety were becoming more and more pure and I saw things more clearly: eventually (as Tolstoy’s Godson which I was reading again these days) instead of being tempted to criticize in my writing and my conversations the actions of those who were behaving wrongly, I followed the advice of my friend Paul Tiberghien. His remarkable Faith and charity guided me, despite my strong revulsion, through every novel duty that he pointed out to me. But this revulsion vanished very soon, and through his example I soon felt great joy visiting the poor and the sickly and especially teaching children, because with them you immediately realize the great good you can dispense with a little good will. During this time and through natural feelings of gratitude for the joy and especially the peace that God gave me and that I had never before felt so strongly, I prayed more, and my prayers were even more spiritual and fervent. Eventually, on Saint François Xavier’s day (whom I have loved all the more since I read the story of his wonderful life), having prayed more than usual for the conversion of relatives and friends who are especially dear to me, I did not immediately obtain what I asked for, but I believe I did receive the means to succeed. For on that day (December 3) I became absolutely sure of my calling, and although I was determined to wait a little more before I talked to anyone about it, all I could think about was the best way to follow this calling. On the first of January it was so clear and so exclusive of any other trouble that I told my family at home and I wrote to the Cardinal Archbishop of Malines to ask to see him. I stated the purpose of my visit and asked if I could be sent to the Belgian seminary in Rome. I admit that while I was determined to follow my calling I had been anticipating the great happiness I would feel if I lived for three or four years in Italy and thought that during those years, while I was completing my training and my education, these wonderful feelings would alleviate the little difficulties I might have living in a seminary – to live under the soft Roman skies and be surrounded by people who are, to an artist’s mind, the most charming on the planet. Alas! The information I was given on the Belgian seminary was incorrect, one can only enter it very young and straight out of school, and the cardinal hasn’t got the authority to grant my exemption of the three or four years of preliminary studies. The cardinal has taken much interest in me and been most kind, so I followed his advice and agreed to Malines, for which he promised to exempt me from the minor seminary if I studied a little at home instead. On my bidding, he sent for the director of the seminary straight away, and for the half hour we had to wait for him – he left me on my own. This half hour was my ordeal, and it was I admit a very hard ordeal, for during this half hour I pictured myself very unhappy in the little provincial town, in a seminary that would host priests coming from Flanders and the Campine, very pious but bumbling uneducated people in the vast majority of cases. I therefore called the cardinal back to the room when the director of the seminary arrived, and begged to be sent to Rome once more, with a depiction of the most vivid scenes of woes and misery I could imagine at Malines. Fortunately I was with two good people who laughed outright at my terrors and easily did away with them by proving how groundless they were. Since then I have been to the seminary, and indeed it is not cold, strict and dour as I expected it to be, but it is charming and very lively. I read the regulations, I returned once more, and now I am quite sure, as the good cardinal told me, that I will be "happy as a lark" over there. Two abbots from Brussels were appointed for me as teachers of Latin and philosophy and I could thus be ready to start in October. Now I hope what I said at the beginning of the letter does not frighten you too much. Firstly, as I said, I am only starting in October next and until then I hope we will have the possibility to write the books on Flanders that we had set out to do together. And in relation to that I still – as ever, have to thank you for the "mission" which you tried to obtain for me and which was most fortunately appointed to you and Strang, whom I would be very happy to meet - most fortunately indeed because as I must finish as I can, and before I enter the seminary, my anthology, my book on sculptors and hand in my work on Bruges – with Latin and philosophy to be studied in the meantime – I will hardly have time to help you in this task. So all is well in this concern, all we will need to do soon is to set a date for your stay. If you could come at the end of April for example – or May, it would be perfect. And when I will be at the seminary I will still have about 2 months of holiday and I hope we can spend most of that time together. Now farewell, dear Laurence. I am very much aware that you might not approve of my choice after reading this letter – in which I only gave you so many details concerning my devotion – so you could understand clearly that neither the disappointments nor the troubles I have had through my endeavours to get a position as curator have anything to do with my determination. Quite the contrary, concerning the museum everything seemed to be getting better, and I could presumably have started now if I hadn’t found "a better position". Let’s hope that in three years’ time I will be a parish priest in a beautiful little village of the Brabant Walloon and if you spend your holidays there you will bring me poems that will delight us both. My warmest regards and soon a postcard from you to tell me if you are content and approving of your friend. Georges. PS the poems I have sent you are not very good. I know it well. I was in a poor state of mind when I composed them and especially the St Jean was done in bits and pieces, which is never good – but in the same file I hope to make better ones soon, and I have only sent you these two for the beautiful stories they narrate – yours and send my regards to Image, let him know about my decision and please apologize to him on my behalf because I haven’t answered his charming poem which I received for Christmas – I then had, as you know, many things on my mind. And my warmest regards to our good friend Pye. PS Very beautiful verses from your cousin Phillips – there was in that issue of "the Academy" a "postcard" addressed to EM Legge Montagu Sq[uare] that I completely forgot to send back – I apologize most sincerely and hope it wasn’t of too much importance.

Letter 81: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Feb 1898 It is so hard and straining to write a letter instead of meeting and having a real talk with a friend. How much more pleasant and charming it would have been to tell you in person why I did not answer your letter straight away. Well, if there is no other way, let’s write. My dear friend, you well know, and will be neither jealous nor upset, for you know how much this friendship with Paul Tiberghien is longer and prior to ours – that there is no man on earth I love more than him. Added to the regard that I have had for him for so long I feel a venerable veneration for his life, which is the most devoted, the most loving and the most charitable among all I have observed around me – despite this regard, this genuine veneration, and despite the fact that we have been raised together intellectually, artistically and that we were converted together – despite all that there have often been, as you can imagine, some disagreements between us – disagreements do happen between people who love each other most dearly. But our friendship was so true and so solidly established that it could only become stronger and firmer after those discussions and transitory disagreements which reasonably occur between two friends who see each other constantly. Was ours of the same nature? I thought so up till now, dear Laurence, and it has only been for the last few days that I doubted its strength. Certainly it has been perfect and charming, but don’t you think that having been in perfect agreement on nearly every subject we ever broached, we carefully avoided the others? And as I read your letter, a few reproaches springing to my mind, I wondered how you would bear these reproaches if I exposed them to you? And I hesitated to do so – until I realized that if I didn’t our friendship would become a friendship of Procurement, an exchange of courtesies which would eventually blot out our personalities and what we truly think. – and I told myself that this was not what either of us would want and so it would be better to write what I felt. Here is what I really think: yes, I am indeed very grateful for the kind and supportive letter you sent me, but also it seems to me that you deserve a few reproofs, because you neglected to do some little things that I asked you to do last year. You believe dear friend, don’t you, that you have an accomplished mind, and that to achieve your objectives you only need to improve your art, your versification or your form, in a word your poetry writing. I believe the contrary – that your mind is not accomplished at all – that your beautiful, almost perfect, form – will naturally reach that perfection through constant work – and what you must work on is the improvement, the broadening of your mind and the refining of your thoughts. How? Generally speaking it is not up to me to show you how, but I do blame you for having neglected and brushed aside the few means I had suggested to you. You have not the faintest idea of what religious life is about – do understand me, I am not at all trying to convert you – it would be preposterous and absurd – but do understand dear Laurence that you must know what religious life is. When you will have read yourself, through the story of the life of a few saints for example – what this religion, which you believe is narrow and formalistic, truly is – then will you see what absolute happiness one can find in it. You are clearly and undoubtedly a gifted poet. You must remain as such, we certainly agree on this point! But if you want to fulfil your objective, if you want your poems to spread out like a beautiful picture book but also convey love and inspire thought – you must steep your writing in belief and faith. Think of the book which stirred you the most among the new books you have read these last few years. You mentioned Tolstoy one day, and it is indeed not the form you admired in him, but the faith, dear friend, belief and truth. It is now that your mind shapes itself, believe me. Your "London Visions" are but sensations, various fleeting emotions. Your "Supper" and your "Porphyrion" are two first attempts to collect and gather your thoughts in an artistic fashion. Those two poems are appealing, because the verse is beautiful and especially because they are infused with a powerful and remarkable proclivity to conjure suggestive images, which all gifted poets, such as yourself, possess. They are appealing indeed, but they will never stir and inflame me. I hasten to add that Porphyrion for example has for me the charm of one of Tennyson’s Idylls, and you know that to my mind that is a very high rating indeed, but I will never find the emotion, the high emotion I feel as I read the third part of Tolstoy’s tale. Very well you will say – it is not given to everyone to be or to write like Tolstoy. That is true – but it could be given to you, if you would just look around you simply and without prejudice. Tolstoy understood life so well and defined its objective so clearly, dear friend, because like his godson, like the better of his two old men, he preferred action and charity work to vain protest. Think of The Cossacks, such a wonderful book – so sincere, so true, as you know, although the end is sad and a little disheartening. Why? Because the improvised Cossack loses heart and goes back to the city. - Since then he became a peasant, and this time in an absolutely sincere way, he writes with ease the most encouraging and poignant book that his country has ever produced. Now – to conclude – one always gets confused when settling matters in a letter. "nondum amabam, et amare amabam i quaerebam quod amareus amaus amare" Those are the words you used I think, to introduce your beautiful poem on St Augustine. And how true they are about yourself. But reproaches, you will ask – what are you reproaching me of? Only this – that being hesitant and solicited as you yourself admit in these words, solicited in various ways – through prejudice mostly and laziness only a little, you refused to read two or three little books that, with certainly much moderation, I had selected for you. I asked you one day to read the Fioretti – it would have had for you the exquisite charm of a voyage to Tuscany and Umbria, with marvelously pure Angelicos everywhere within your reach. Fioretti – niente! I asked you one day to open a Golden Legend at the British to read – 2 pages only – the dialogue or rather the answers of Saint James Intercisus to his executioners. J. Intercisus- niente? I gave you a poem, the Visions of sister Emmerich, yes – but the title was - The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For Emmerich niente. What were all these denials – incidental coincidences, memory slips due to your numerous occupations? Dear, no – it is defiance – defiance towards the most loving of your friends – let it cease, by all means, now that I have exposed this defiance to you my dear friend. I have never asked you, and never will I ask you to try to pray, or embark upon any religious practice – but when from very far off I do try, and admit to it quite freely, to help you see through yourself more clearly and to let you see "what you love and seek" by advising you to read a book carefully selected for you and which is consequently beautiful, do not be defiant anymore, and if there still is a little effort to make, make it for me, because these readings should not imply any commitment on your part, and they can, to my mind, contribute to your happiness and to your fame. How long this letter is, yet I must still add a few words to make our positions quite clear; for with your defiance which I am most certain exists, I would like to make sure that you do not lend me any hidden feelings – According to the information I have read these last days about Benedictine convents – the life of these monks – who endeavor to be pious, industrious and artistic at the same time (any man entering the convent and who displays certain skills for an art is indeed encouraged to promote it: it is specified in the rules) a life devoid of tedious social duties, would probably be more to my liking than priesthood – I would however remain accessible to the world because I have a duty to fulfil, which is to bring back to God those souls who do not know Him or knowing Him prefer a life of slavery to their petty routines rather than being a servant of God. Considering that you (despite yourself) belong to the first category – would I seek to convert you? Of course I would, dear friend! How could you think that I would love you any other way. And this alarms you, bothers and distresses you, and you fear that I would appeal to and take advantage of your kindness towards me by asking you to try and make an effort which would be most distasteful to you, as for example saying a prayer for me. But dear friend – once again and once for all – rest assured – all I ask of you I have told you already, it is to show no ill will, it is not to turn your back to the feelings that are shaping my life – and especially I repeat that I will never seek to make you see the Light under any other form than a poetic or a heroic one, for I know who you are. And now I think the radiance of our friendship is breaking through the little cloud that was looming over it – and though it has been longstanding, I think I was justified in writing at such length, so we can each enjoy – as we have until last month – full trust in one another. Regards Georges. A last word, remember dear friend that the only book you read at my bidding – inspired you with Porphyrion – or at the least with one of its most beautiful songs – Dunque… As Mrs Bartoli would say… let’s take up postcards again and tell me when your book volume will be here. I can’t wait to receive it. A very condensed postcard today: I received a charming note from Pye about the poems – and wrote back to him.

Letter 83: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

12 Mar 1898 Ixelles to 3BS My dear friend. I guess you do not write anymore because you are daily expecting the publication of your book that I am equally eager to see. As to me, I lead an unvarying life, engaged in the study of logic that I am through with thank goodness, and psychology that I am about to finish. I hope to have finished my studies of philosophy by April – it will not be much of a change! But it will probably make theology easier - my editor has been delayed for the publication of my anthology – he will send out leaflets next week – a page of these leaflets should be a portrait of Keats. Would you get Emery Walker’s permission to reproduce it on leaflets – my editor would like to reproduce all of Walker’s portraits in the book, and is quite ready to pay the rights to Walker – right now he only asks for the permission to reproduce Keats on the leaflets. And he will even pay for this reproduction if Walker should demand it, if such is the case would he be kind enough (Walker) to write me a note telling me how much it would cost. May I ask you to do this for me? I thank you very much if you can do it and I trust I will hear from you soon, about your book and your news. Regards. G.

Letter 85: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated: March 23 1898 ? 3rd day of spring My dear friend. As soon as I received Porphyrion I read one of his songs, which kept me under a spell of enchantment. It was Monday morning: and every passing day (having had no time to resume my reading) I think about you as I gaze admiringly at the sweet and harmonious softness of these spring mornings where the exquisite blue colour of the dawn lit sky (at the hour when you foolishly doze under your bedclothes) is imperceptibly veiled in a morning mist that Memling and Metsys would paint as backgrounds to their paintings. And I would have liked you to be at my side all those mornings to show you these unparalleled skies, for you who love nature and life so dearly and have such a gift to describe and depict it in your verses. You are blessed, really you are my dear friend, to have such a marvelous gift for poetry, and to constantly perceive novel and radiant images of nature rendered in a natural succession of beauty and consecrated harmony. You have become immortal and ranked amongst the greatest poets of your country, now that Porphyrion has been published. It is my present opinion at any rate. As it was the first time I read it – and I have no doubt of the great success that awaits you. It is all the more obvious to me now since you have so beautifully revised this first song. And do not think that my friendship amplifies all the good I think of your poem: I do think even better of it compared to the first readings, but as with the first readings I am far from thinking it perfect. The IVth book, despite its dazzling title, Orophernes, and the brilliant final battle, is to my mind rather vague, wavering, and the entire beginning seems to unravel with no definite purpose but to lead to the final picturesque battle. I would excuse the IVth book, but the ending of the previous one is very unfortunate – it is clear that you didn’t know how to close it and that you were eager to be done with it. – you didn’t dare finish a Stoic nor did you a skeptic, and you let him die unfairly, this most interesting Porphyrion, at the very moment when he was about to reveal his thoughts about life. – what does this prove – but that you are still young, and that you have not yet chosen what you are to believe in – you believe for now that it is good to let yourself live, and pour your soul into the contemplation of nature, devote all your energy into seeing it, loving it, and conveying these feelings to others – very well – it is a good start, and as I know you, and have chosen you for a friend, I trust you completely, confident that you will soon see beyond the faint gleam of dawn into the full light of day, if you would only look into the aspects of life that I will point out to you, and that I would like to show you through the books that I have already mentioned to you and that I will ask of you from time to time – for let me tell you: it is not TO JOY that you should have dedicated your book, but TO LIFE – it would have been much more accurate – you did not wish to because of your previous collection The Praise of Life – for there the title was true – joy is not what you love – joy has nothing to do with the Vth book of Porphyrion, nor with Martha, nor with The Supper – but life does, under many differing aspects, it transports the genuine soul of the poet within you. For a genuine poet you are, and I insist upon it, for having spoken ill of the end of the poem, you must know how highly I think of it, on the whole and in detail. The changes you have made in the first book have considerably enhanced its appeal, and the similes remain what they are, images, metaphors of classical beauty and that one feels, as I stated above, are destined to remain forever as such – (that of the wine blending with water for example, and that of the dreaming warriors whose movements are likened to the slow unravelling of weeds in the rivers – those and a thousand others beside). Porphyrion unmistakeably brings to mind Endymion and Hyperion – and that is what prompted me to say earlier that you can from now on be certain of your fame – because to my mind Porphyrion is by far superior to those two classical poems by Keats, and the pretty verses in Martha and the beautifully soothing verses of Augustine would suffice to rank you once and for all, as I said, among the greatest true poets of this century – I have not yet read the other pieces of the book volume, but as I have known you as such before recognition, I would not want to be of the last to hail you in your glory. I am writing all this to you sincerely and merrily, because you are my friend, my dear friend Laurence Binyon and that I know that neither praise nor blame will change your behaviour towards me or towards others. – indeed one feels no pride in being gifted – you are born as such – and can only thank God for having bestowed these skills upon you, and rejoice about it with your friends. It is what I have done with you in this letter through my praise of Porphyrion. I will now take it with me and show it off this very day to my friends Paul Tiberghien and Arnold Goffin. The newspaper articles will certainly be good – but if some were to be dull, crush them under your foot like a "Conquistador". I am a better judge than all those hack writers, and I have read enough English poetry to know what to think of the very beautiful and very dear Porphyrion! Regards to Pye. G.

Letter 87: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter
Business My dear Laurence – thank you for your postcards about Walker and Hyatt. Walker’s terms are charming and I wrote to him to ask – on my editor’s behalf – to confirm what you said in your postcard and send me the photographs he has taken and that I do not have – I have pointed them out to him – everything is fine on that head – only I wrote at the end of last week and have not yet received an answer. I directed the letter to Clifford’s Inn 16 Fleet Street – if that is the right address as I believe it to be, would you send him a short postcard to ask him if he got my letter. For Hyatt – I cannot answer directly because I don’t quite understand the number you mention in your postcard regarding the price of each portrait – and I don’t know, nor does my publisher, what "inches" exactly are and how they translate into centimetres. The best agreement we could thus make is the following – would you ask Hyatt 1) How much he would ask, not for a shot but for a photograph of the same size and style as Walker’s (I mean his portraits of Keats and Lamb and Coleridge that you sent me) 2) How much he would ask for the right to reproduce them – tell him that if he would give me a special fee I will do the same as for Walker i.e. I will print his name and address underneath each portrait. It will be better this way dear friend. If, as I hope, Hyatt’s prices are reasonable, I will write to him on return of post of your answer in which you will have mentioned his address, and ask him to make the portraits for which I will pay as soon as he sends them to me. This correspondence with the photographers is the boring part when you sort out a book. As I do not want to bother you anymore with this book that has already been such a bother to you, after this last favour I will ask of you Hyatt’s address so I can finish the business directly with him. For Squire and Streatfield the Béatitudes by César Franck are on next Thursday (Good Thursday, April 7 at 7 PM – is the dress rehearsal – and the next day Good Friday, April 8 at 8 PM. The conductor is Gustave Huberti and among the soloists is Mme Flamand. – and next Sunday – Palm Sunday – April 3 Passion by J.S. Bach at the Conservatoire – I didn’t mention it earlier because they said they only wished to see the Béatitudes. Regards to them and Image. G. At the moment they are playing Tannhauser at la Monnaie.

Letter 91: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter, probably April 1898
Today is the first day of spring, we bask in a lovely mist of light and the green garden in full bloom opposite my house is breath-taking! My dear Laurence. Thank you for the Swinburne portrait received last night. He is exactly as one would picture him through his poems, wasted by excess, and it seems marked upon his face with the blackness of his sins. I would be very happy to reproduce the Rothenstein portrait you suggested, but you say "he may want a little money" - ? What would a little money be. This might be troublesome. The best would be the following. When you see Rothenstein would you please tell him that my editor will reproduce about 2 dozen portraits and is only willing to pay a few shillings for each, that I wouldn’t dare offer him so little for his portrait but if he would be kind enough to let Hyatt photograph him I would be very grateful, and would express this gratitude with a few words under the portrait explaining his reservations concerning copyright. If this is acceptable for Rothenstein, very good, otherwise don’t worry about the Swinburne, I think Paul Tiberghien has a portrait of Sw. by Rossetti somewhere in his house. I will go and get it, send the 10 S of rights to Hollyer and everything will be settled. So that is all for Swinburne. Thank you very much for the order you made to Hyatt of the Tennyson portrait, it is perfect. All I need now are Shelley and Moore, and they were both, if my memory is correct, on your Hyatt list. If for some reason he is not able to photograph Moore, could he not photograph Campbell, so I can have the 20 portraits I wished for. If he has photographed Moore no need to photo. Campbell (I have told you, have I not, that Walker has sent me Blake, Hood, Christina Rossetti, but if Hyatt has already photographed Hood it doesn’t matter because Walker’s portrait is not good). That is the end of these endless portrait discussions and I am extremely grateful for everything you have done on this occasion, as I am to Walker who has been very useful and obliging. Thank you for the 2 photographs sent by Horne and do send him my regards at some point. I know San Galgano for I have seen in Florence reproductions at my friend Pia Grottanelli’s to whom the abbey belongs I think – it looks indeed very much like Villers, but Villers is more grandiose I think. I do not, however, know Miss Duff Gordon - the beautiful m.D.G Who is She? Very well come in June. I hope we will have a nice time at Bruges – our good old meeting place. Yesterday I sent you a former comrade of la Jeune Belgique, Charles Van Lerberghe, who is going to spend three or four months in London. Please treat him well, and introduce him a little, if you want, to some friends, so he doesn’t feel too lonely over there. I know him little, but he seems nice: he is friends with Séverin. He was even the first to produce a "Maeterlinck" style theatre before Maeterlinck when he published "les Flaireurs" a rather striking single-act drama, and he has also published quite pretty verses on the Parnasse de la Jeune Belgique. He is very shy – I told him to approach you with a wish to see the illustrated Blakes and the Print Room. Talk with him when he will have seen them. He is from Ghent like Maeterlinck with whom he shares close ties, and he will be even better than me at showing you the Legend collections, that is if you are still interested in them. Regards a tutti! And PORPHYRION – you must send me a card to tell me all that is said about it. G.

Letter 95: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

28 Jun 1898 Ixelles to 3BS And however it is a wig ! That you have not written for so long does not matter for we are such good friends that if one of us doesn’t write, the other knows that it is not through lack of friendly feelings but due to time that flies so fast for those who live in big cities and especially London. – and good old Burne Jones died since I last saw you – if some good article about him were to be published or a beautiful portrait appear in an illustrated journal I would be very happy to have it – if you happen to come across one – I met my publisher the other day, he declared that he had finally started on my anthology and I have settled my accounts with Walker, thanking him profusely for his helpfulness, and I did the same for Hyatt, begging him to send me the two portraits of Swinburne and that of Tennyson that I do not have and that I am eager to receive so we can directly start to sort the portraits – I would be delighted to see your book and Strang’s etchings. I will try to have the book purchased by the library. My warmest regards to Strang and Pye and even more so to lei signorinor Egram peccato non possiamo habitare tutti e due la Stessa citta, non è vero? Do not stay too long in the West Flanders so you can start and turn your full attention to "the forest".

Letter 97: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter, probably July 1898
A beautiful garden smothered in Roses. You see my dear friend that your nice postcard has fulfilled its purpose which was to arouse my curiosity to see this beautiful garden smothered in roses. And what garden could be prettier than Pye’s garden, strewn and vibrant with blooming roses in a country where meandering white roads are flanked with blue hills. My mind is full of memories today, it beckons me away to all the countries that I love. I wrote this morning to Florence, and while I am writing to you, basking in a pleasant moist heat, an organist is playing under my window the passionate and haunting Siciliana de la Cavalleria Rusticana and I remember my friend Benidetto Salemi under the star speckled sky of San Gimignono – while we were leaning over the fortifications of that magical little town, both whistling the same passionate tune, gazing up towards the beautiful hill ranges that we had ascended in the heat of the same day, after our poetic visit of the house of Boccace in Certaldo. – How sweet and beautiful it was! And this morning I also wrote – (it is a day of correspondence) – to my brother Jules who is spending a few days in the Black Forest. The Black Forest is another of those lands that has always haunted me and that I have endlessly roamed in my dreams. It is from there and the banks of the Rhine that we have the legends of the Kobolds and the elves, so fascinating in the tales of Ludwig Tieck, and that I have always wished you to read. And yet I will probably never see the hills of Surrey again, nor the towers of San Gimignano, I will never wander in the shade of those trees full of the poetry and legends of the Black Forest. – indeed, the closer I get to my date of entry in the seminary, which is set as you know at the end of September – the less I feel like going there as I feel utterly incapable of fulfilling with the devotion and abnegation I had fancied myself capable of the life you must lead if you want to be a priest or worthy of that title - a title that suits very well most of the priests I have met around here. You see, I fear that beyond the faith and the love I have for God, I lack both natural gifts and qualities – I spent last month helping the organisers of the Eucharist Congress and it convinced me as much as I ever could be that I missed the practical sense that distinguishes those who intend to be a leader for others. I furthermore find abhorrent the necessarily bustling lives of priests who seek to have an influence on those who live around them. And I have thus slowly set aside my thoughts of entering the seminary and turned to the cloister, where I will enter at the end of September with my friends the Benedictines of Maredsous. I am certainly affected to have to tell you of this decision, at the thought of causing you pain – but I hasten to alleviate its effect by telling you that Benedictine monks have much more flexible rules than other monks, they are allowed regular visits and I hope you will often come to Maredsous. The cloister is very beautiful and is located in this country that I love and that is after all my own, the Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse near Dinant. There is a good hotel on a hill next to the cloister and if you are reluctant to stay at the cloister, you can go to that hotel and join me on my walks, and we can have long discussions together every day during my hours of recreation, and you could go on pretty excursions with Pye the rest of the time. It is not quite decided yet. But it is almost certain. Please do not tell anyone yet. Nothing has been done and I wanted to let you know first so you could get used to the idea. So I have been very busy with the Congress the whole of last month. It is over now and I will leisurely return to my anthology and rejoice in the month of poetry I have ahead as I will go through them again. I have reread the first drafts of the leaflet – do not worry about Hyatt. I have the portraits of Tennyson and Swinburne and I will persuade my editor to have a sketch made by one of his hired illustrators or painters and we can easily print the interpretative sketch of that young painter – by saying – portrait of Tennyson and Swinburne according to – (name of the young painter). And it will be done in no time – otherwise it will take us months. I am going to redo the leaflet which hasn’t been well done. As soon as it is out I will send it to you. When you go by the Reading Room do look in the Catalogue at the name of the translator of The Dream of Gerontius, and mention it in your next postcard. By all means, dear Laurence, do finish your book on Flanders. It doesn’t matter a bit. If there is a good title page – some good etchings by Strang and if the book is cleverly bound it is all that is expected of you and no one will read it! I am being rather unkind – but it is sound advice – get started on The Forest and make it as symbolic and descriptive as you can, with as few anecdotes as possible. It is a beautiful topic you have there and you mustn’t waste your time when your poetic talents are in full bloom. Promptly finish Flanders. Work on The Forest in the open air – and at the end of August or beginning of September – when the Forest will be well under way and the anthology almost done – let’s try to take eight days of holiday at the seaside. Regards to Pye, Strang, Image and Horne – and Viva la Espana! Addios – Addios Viscaya! Have you seen how they died my poor brave Spanish friends, and the sailor whose right arm was wrenched off by a cannon ball, and who was pulled from the sea by an American canoe, he saluted stiffly and wordlessly with his poor remaining arm. I couldn’t read the papers for 5 or 6 days because I was so affected by the fate of my dear friend Cervera.

Letter 98: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter, possibly Aug 1898
What a man must do What a man can do What a man ought to do A BOOK IN THREE PARTS BY LAURENCE BINYON CLERGYMAN Goodness dear friend, how sadly you write when you write in prose! I knew perfectly well when I wrote my last letter to you that we didn’t agree – about what is "natural to man" and what he can and cannot do and when I announced to you what I had decided upon – I wrote as merrily and pleasantly as possible to show you that it would change nothing in my appreciation of you, and to make you understand that I had but one regret which is that it is probable that I will see you less often in my new life.- I must admit that the letter upset me so much that I burnt it directly to prevent any displeasure from another perusal – everything written on it was so different from what my friend Laurence Binyon would write. – And as I have burnt it, I will not mention it anymore after this statement only that I think it is in your interest to let you know how little your objections to my new life make sense. You say it is not natural – but what is "natural"? The life you lead in London, is it natural? Or is it the life of the common people that is natural, or the life of rural people. You need only think for a moment to realize that you have no right to decide in a general way what a natural mode of living is. – It is not natural you say, because it is the result of a constant inner struggle – let us say, if you will, that it is not natural for this reason. Would it be less beautiful and less noble as such? Do you not struggle continuously to compose your poems? Against your indolence, against the world, against all the demands and requests that you are besieged with. Do you not struggle against yourself when you "wall yourself up" on your own every day at the British? Do you not struggle against yourself when you write pot boilers, when you take rooms in a dusty, poky little place and must dine in dismal restaurants. And yet you undergo these ordeals freely and happily to be able to devote yourself entirely to your poems – for which I praise you greatly. But do understand that what you are doing is no more natural, by common judgement – that what I am about to do – let me tell you as well, carissime – that you speak of something you have no knowledge about. You have never lived in a cloister and you know neither Maredsous nor the life one leads there. I think we agree on these points. Let’s from now on cast aside all that would be "natural" or "reasonable". Let’s love each other as well today as we did yesterday and see each other as often as we can. If we both have prejudice and misconceptions they will certainly disappear as we learn to know each other better. You did not write to me for such a long time – instead of sending me a nice little postcard – that I have had time to go to Maredsous and make my final decision about my life there, which I will begin at the beginning of October. Until then I will endeavour to settle my anthology and finish some poems I have started. I must go to Chantilly next week with my father, my brother and my sister in law. From the 15th to the 20th I will be at La Panne and from there a day or two at Montreuil to bid farewell to my dear friend Paul Tiberghien whom I will probably never see again afterwards. With you who are but a willing and temporary prisoner of your British fortress, I sincerely hope that we will meet as often as we used to, given that we could only do so once or twice a year. You will, I am sure, place your friendship above your prejudice and come and see me dressed in my frock if you cannot make it before October and once Pye will have come he will be so delighted with the landscape in Maredsous and the way they sing the plain chants that he will beg you to return there on a regular basis, and you will thus organise a Maredsous pilgrimage every year – with chosen companions whom I will gladly welcome and for whom it will be a delightful little holiday. It would be really nice if you could come here a few days in September. We would spend some quality time together, either at the seaside or in the Ardennes, or near Maredsous so you may get a more positive idea of the place – this wondrous place – that you wished to see. Now I need to get back to my poems because I have little time left. I only want to write a few more lines about something a poor old woman told me the other day as I met her near Maredsous. Her dress was frightfully dishevelled, and when she walked she leaned on a long white staff which she had picked up in the forest. She looked just like Poverty so dear to St Francis or an old fairy out of a tale by the Grimm brothers. I gave her a few pence and as she curtsied nicely she said "merci m’cher coeur!" This remark brightened my entire day and I am still delighted with it, for nowadays good peasants do not always use such poetical language Amigo. Do send a postcard now to tell me that you are not cross about my letter. I will ask about Charles the Good.

Letter 100: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter
Hotel de la Noble Rose at Furnes, Belgium Well, dear friend, I am here as you can see! I have dined splendidly and I certainly recommend it to you and Pye for its delicious wines and its homelike ambiance. And I am most glad to have come for I know now that this noble Rose is the Red Rose of Lancaster about which my historical memory is unfortunately very much at loss. But after all, to know that it is the Red Rose of Lancaster is elevating enough. What a shame you are not here with me. We would have lived as kings for a few glorious days. You must come with Pye and Strang. They will enjoy it very much and they will relate – (If I could only be there to hear them) the blood-spattered poetry and tragedy of the stories of the 2 Roses. Alas, tomorrow I return to Brussels where I will spend eight days only. Because on September 1st I will probably go to Florence with my brother where I will dally away my last two weeks of holiday – two days in Florence and the rest in the mountains and the little towns or Capentino ------ Dunque! Right me presently a short – cartolina – to Brussels to tell me of the news in Barton Street and at the British – I will repay you with cartolinas sent from the little towns of Tuscany – do send my regards to Pye and Strang and Horne and Image and believe me Lorenzino – vestro (Elaborate (and messy) Lancaster signature) I would have liked to sign with a flourishing medieval mark, but the good wine of the noble Rose will not let me. Regards. G

Letter 101: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

20 Aug 1898 Panne 3 Barton Street
Dear Laurence. Forgive me for this rather inappropriate postcard that I bought 5 days ago in Brussels and which remained in my pocket. On my way back from the castle of Coucy, Soissons, Pierrefonds, Senlis, Chantilly, very charming excursion, I barely went through Brussels where I found your postcard for which I thank you whole-heartedly – and I settled down here at la Panne - Grand Hotel Panne Bains par adinkerke in the midst of those white sand dunes peppered with rustling blades of grass and the yellow flowers I like so much. It is the loveliest place I have been to for a long time and I am very sorry you are not here with me. I will stay till Tuesday and if you want to come I will stay on the whole of next week - write a postcard to me here till Tuesday and after Tuesday to Brussels. With my best regards Georges.

Letter 103: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Undated letter, possibly Sept 1898
My dear Laurence, the time has now come for me to leave Brussels for Maredsous and I have to say that of all the farewell letters I have hastily written these last days I have kept the last one for you because it is the only one that pains me. It does pain me indeed to know that I will see you less often and that I will have less opportunities to correspond with you. I will only be comforted at the thought of you when you will have come for a few days to Maredsous and when we will have firmly established a "modus vivendi"! which will allow us to write and think about each other more freely. When you will have seen me established at Maredsous and come to see it for yourself, my life there will seem far more understandable and worthy of your esteem, I believe, but until you come, there will always be in your letters that faint trace of constraint which springs from the wrong notions you may still entertain about life in a Benedictine cloister. I would be delighted to receive the news of your visit which I look forward to and expect at the latest for next spring. Do send me the usual postcards until then will you – the address Mr Oliv. G. Destrée care of RR. PP. Bénédictins de l’abbaye de Maredsous province de Namur Belgium. These postcards will give me great pleasure by showing me that you are not forgetting about me and they will keep me informed of your literary projects. Pye wrote me a nice long and charming letter for which I will ask you, as I have so little time, to thank him very much for on my behalf. I was delighted and full of admiration when I heard the news of Miss Pye’s calling, if you see her please let her know these feelings and pay my respects to her and Mrs Pye. Remember me to your father and mother and your kindly brother with whom we went on that nice walk at Newton Abbot. And send my regards to Image and Horne and the few friends I met with you in London, Plarr especially – tell them as you give them my address – that I am, from my cloister, absolutely free to correspond, and if one of them would feel like coming to see me he would be, as you are, always welcome and invited to stay for the length of his visit. And now it is time to leave. I send you all my love and even though it is not a farewell forever I would like to thank you for your loyal and true friendship and tell you that from Brussels to Maredsous I have two friends – my cousin and yourself – for whom I will always have loving thoughts and whom I will always hope and deeply wish to see. Yours with all my heart and please do not wait long before sending me some news. Georges You will find enclosed 2 stamps that I still have since my last trip to London. In a few days you will receive your walking stick but I haven’t figured out how to send it yet – Goffin will soon publish my anthology.

Letter 106: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

5 Dec 1918 What a delightful feeling to be able to write Laurence Binyon Esq. British Museum and be confident that the letter will arrive as it should and that relationships can resume as they used to! I was very touched when I received your letter dear Laurence and as I read, and I certainly thought you would, that you had taken an interest in my whereabouts from afar and were sometimes worried as to my fate during those 4 years. There were indeed some moments of fear and anxiety, especially in what you call – the burning of Louvain. That night I was in the centre of the city – having been to town as every morning for my confessing duties, I couldn’t go back to the abbey because of the troops on horseback that were cluttering the streets. I stayed in a seminary which was next to the Halls of the university – these burned down – and for most of the night we were faced with the unpleasant alternative of either being killed if we left the seminary – or burned alive if we remained there – as I believed it was the end I went to the chapel and I gave communion to the sisters who served in the seminary. I received communion myself and served at the mass of the director of the seminary and when I returned to the courtyard I saw to my immense and understandable relief that the wind was blowing in another direction so that the danger of spreading of the fire was over! I also remember distinctly how beautiful that night of the fire was, we could see most of the town burning, we could hear the shots of cannon balls between Malines and Louvain – and shotguns inside town – and the garden of the seminary seemed, all the while, just like a haven of peace and happiness. And then came those 4 years, during which, despite what you have probably read in the newspapers, you can hardly imagine how heroic and brave our people were, whatever their social background, workmen, gentlemen, magistrates or civil servants fought boldly against the invaders. There would be a beautiful book to put together if we gathered all the documents that describe the pluck and determination displayed by this resistance, we could easily do it without any fear of exaggeration because most of these documents, especially the letters of Cardinal Mercier and the protests of the magistrates, have been published and read with much interest – they have sustained our hopes and our courage during the occupation. And now that all is over, there is much that I would, now that all is finished, have been sad not to have lived through. And I am sure it is your opinion as well. And now that you are reassured about my fate tell me if you were able to stay at the British Museum. Were you not mobilised? Why is your writing paper headed "the Athenaeum" are you working for this magazine? And Selwyn Image? And Horne? Do ease my mind on their account and tell me if you were able to work and on what during all this time? I guess that in France as in England some quite beautiful books have been published during those 4 years. If you have heard of some that might be of particular interest to me would you let me know about them? No – I received nothing during the war that went through Holland but that does not surprise me, at least ¾ of the correspondence transiting there was systematically thrown away. My respects to Mrs Binyon and to your young ladies who are surely quite grown up now, and believe me, my dear Laurence, yours forever, devoted and grateful Dom Bruno D. O.S.B. Please send my regards to Image if he still lives, as I hope, in Fitzroy St. PS Have there been works at the Westminster Cathedral during the 4 years – I mean the completion of the inside? I suppose my sister in law will have told you that my MS on modern religious art burned in the fire of Louvain!

Letter 107: Jules Destrée to Laurence Binyon

Dear Sir, My brother loved you dearly and spoke to me a lot about you. I very much appreciate the sentiments you have expressed to me. J[ules] Destrée