[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sir Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 1, 255].
To his mother [Colvin 1911, pp. 144-145]
[Mentone, March 28, 1874.]
My dear Mother,
Beautiful weather, perfect weather; sun, pleasant cooling winds; health very good; only incapacity to write.
The only new cloud on my horizon (I mean this in no menacing sense) is the Prince. I have philosophical and artistic discussions with the Prince.
He is capable of talking for two hours upon end, developing his theory of everything under Heaven from his first position, which is that there is no straight line. Doesn’t that sound like a game of my father’s – I beg your pardon, you haven’t read it – I don’t mean my father, I mean Tristram Shandy’s.
He is very clever, and it is an immense joke to hear him unrolling all the problems of life – philosophy, science, what you will – in this charmingly cut-and-dry, here-we-are-again kind of manner. He is better to listen to than to argue withal. When you differ from him, he lifts up his voice and thunders; and you know that the thunder of an excited foreigner often miscarries. One stands aghast, marvelling how such a colossus of a man, in such a great commotion of spirit, can open his mouth so much and emit such a still small voice at the hinder end of it all. All this while he walks about the room, smokes cigarettes, occupies divers chairs for divers brief spaces, and casts his huge arms to the four winds like the sails of a mill. He is a most sportive Prince.