Wednesday, July 08, 2015


hasty trifles

"To send you empty paragraphs when you expect and want news is tantalising, is it not? Pray agree with me, and then you will allow that I have acted very kindly in not writing till I had something to tell you."

From The Letters of Horace Walpole, Volume V (p.102).  I took it with me on my annual June island painting trip, and worried that I wouldn't have enough to read, so sure was I that I would read at least fifty pages a day, and my island trip was ten days long.  I also brought a book of Mary Oliver's poetry, and Charles Hawthorne's little book on painting, the same two I always bring with me whenever I go anywhere for long.  I did read most of those, for the umpteenth time, but forgot, as I am wont to do, that when I am painting intensively (for this is what my island time is for, looking and looking and painting and painting) - especially this time of year when the daylight lasts so long - that I have little energy remaining for anything else.  (Such a long sentence, sorry about that.  And now, too many parentheses to boot.)  Anyway, on-island, I read from Walpole during just two evenings.  One rainy day, however, I did arrange a still-life of books in a bookcase, Volume V among them, and painted him into my painting.  So I don't regret carrying him along, but I truly thought I would have made much more headway by now.  It's well into July and I am only two-thirds of the way in.  And not reading much else, I might add.  I did find some good books at the local Goodwill last weekend, but haven't started them, and don't actually plan to do so until I finish the Walpole set, whenever that might be.  No local library sales of note, either, and sluggish sales at the antiques mall where I sell my books, so not much to report there either.  Book news I have little to none.  Art news, however... my solo painting show from June is over, and around 30 paintings (!!!) now have new homes.  The gallery has re-hung what's left of the show with some of my new work for the month of July.  In short, my cup runneth over.  Needless to say I will soon be buying more art supplies.       

That's all my news, for now.  Scant post, I know, about not much, written too quickly.  Walpole comes to mind yet again, when he calls his own letters "...the most hasty trifles in the world..." (p.83) and then twits his friend Thomas Gray, the "real" genius, for not writing more.  To which Gray replies (courtesy of a footnote p. 84):

"...whenever the humour takes me, I will write, because I like it; and because I like myself better when I do so.  If I do not write much, it is because I cannot."

Isn't that good practical advice, and a hopeful example, for a writer of any kind?  The same certainly goes for me - trifles or otherwise.

Thirty paintings - that's terrific! Sounds as though your painting trip went well too. I've been dipping into Walpole and Voltaire letters when finding myself in the university library lately - the latter someone else whose letters I've always been curious about. Have you had any serendipitous book finds lately?
Hello Julé, thank you for your comment, once again - sorry to be so long in getting back to you! Life is overfull! I answer your Walpolesque question with today's blog post... ;O)

Walpole wrote two letters to Voltaire - they are both good but the second one is so wonderfully worded:
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