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John Millington Synge: A Letter to His Mother (1903)

Note: The following letter, written in 1903, was given to Sybil le Brocquy by Lilo Stephens in an envelope enscribed ‘with love and gratitude for all your help’. The gift was made in connection with the editing of Edwards Stephens’ life of Synge by Andrew Carpenter at a period when Mrs Stephens was going blind. The letter is currently in the possession of Mrs Melanie Stewart (née le Brocquy), who received it from her mother Sybil. It is copied here with her permission by Bruce Stewart, her son, the compiler of this resource.

My Dear Mother
  I was very glad to get your two letters but I did not try the Boarding House as that was not what I wanted. Board-Residence places abound in this neighbourhood and are fairly respectable and fairly cheap, but I dont think {page} [I] could stand that sort of thing now. You have to have your meals every day with the same set of people you get gradually to destest [sic]. This lodging where I am now seems to be satisfactory enough. I have a comfortable room at 14/0 including breakfast with bacon-egg, jam, etc. which I think is not excessive. The only drawback is that there is a door into the next room where an individual groans and giggles to himself as if he was off his head. However {page} he is only there at night and I believe he is going away soon so I make the best of him. My living here everything included will come very near two pounds a week, I dont think I can feed even fairly well for less. The restaurants are not very satisfactory or inviting, but perhaps when I know the place better I will find others that are more what I want. My expenses have been pretty heavy with all my pergrinations [sic] so I have only £1.5.0. in hand now and my lodging paid up to next Wednesday. My landlady seems inclined to be suspicious so I suppose I will have to pay her in advance for a while so I would be obliged if you could send me some money before Wednesday, but I think you had better not send a cheque as I would certainly have all sorts of bother with it. {page}
  I was with Yeats on Monday evening and met a great many writers artists etc. He has an At-Home night every Monday and a lot of people seem to go. Lady Gregory I believe is coming over this week.
  It has been very cold ever since I {page} came here with continual hard frost, but dry and not unpleasant. The unemployed walk about London in dreary endless processions everyday with collecting boxes. A curious end to their Maeflking [sic for Mafeking] days and all their decorations and triumph a little while ago!
  I dont feel as if I could ever tollorate [sic] {page} London for more than one season. I am quite interested to see it all for once[,] but compared with Paris it is dear and dirty and dismal to an incredible degree.
  I hope Ned and party are not the worse for their move, and that you are keeping well. Please dont forget the money as {page} otherwise I will be left in the lurch. I dont know what would be the best way of sending it. If you sent half-five-pound notes on Monday and Tuesday it would do very well or you could send P.O.s. I do not know whether you will get this tomorrow morning or in the evening.
  Your aff. son
                     John M. Synge.


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