Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
1 April 1870

HENRY JAMES,

novelist (pictured),

writes to Grace Norton

in Florence:

"My cousin Minny Temple died most suddenly some three weeks ago... her friendship had always been for me one of the happiest certainties of the future. So much for certainties! But already, after the lapse of a week, I am strangely - most serenely - familiar with the idea of her death. The more I think of it, the more what there is to accept... gains upon and effaces what there is to deplore and quarrel with. I feel not only the much wiser for having known her, but really the happier for knowing her at absolute peace and rest."

1 April 1787

W A MOZART,

composer, writes to

his father:

"As death, strictly speaking, is the true goal of our lives, I have for some years past been making myself so familiar with this truest and best friend of man that its aspect has not only ceased to appal me, but I find it very soothing and comforting! And I thank my God that He has vouchsafed me the happiness of an opportunity (you will understand me) to recognise it as the key to our true bliss. I never lie down to sleep without reflecting that (young as I am) [31] I may perhaps not see another day - yet none of those who know me can say I am morose or melancholy in society - and I thank my Creator every day for this happiness and wish from the bottom of my heart that all my fellow men might share it."

1 April 1915

RAYMOND ASQUITH,

soldier, barrister and son of the prime minister, writes to Edward Horner on the Western Front:

"Your letter asking for a gold pin for your servant does you great credit. May I send you out an emerald ring for his nostril? and some attar of roses for your charger, and a Degas for your dugout, and a sheet or two of Delius for the gramophone - or would a little something by Johann Sebastian Bach be more appropriate in Holy Week? It seems horrible that you shouldn't have gad these things long ago, but you know what our War Office is like - the same old carelessness about equipment etc as it showed in the Crimean War. And after all, War is War unlike Peace... as indeed we all of us have had the opportunity of learning from Landseer's admirable pictures in which the two are so firmly but subtly distinguished."

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