Letter from Frances Hodgkins to Rachel Hodgkins

04 Mar 1903
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04 Mar 1903
Villa Valentina Tangier 4.3.02
My darling Mother
The last Frisco brought me a nice fat budget from you all – a delightful one from Sis, actually 5 pages one from Willie, Bert & your own dear self – not forgetting a beautiful roll of my incomparable Maoris from Will – how kind of him – he knows how I love them - & they were shown round the hotel with much pride as my beautiful countrymen & duly admired. It is curious how ignorant people are about us. Maoris are vague creatures inhabiting an island somewhere on the other side of the world & ranging in turn between blacks, South Sea Islanders, canibals & Australians. In Penzance there is actually a legend that Miss Richmond’s great grandfather eat my great grandmother & our friendship started so to speak in the pot. I hope you won’t mind this liberty having been taken with our ancestor. I am glad all you dear people were all well & comfortable when you wrote – I shall be very glad when I hear of your going down to Willie for a nice long rest & holiday – they seem very sung & comfortable – or as much so as any one can be under Jessie’s tyrannical thumb. What an awful turk she must be & I hate to think of an element like that in their peaceful little dovecote. It’s both ugly and discordant & takes a good deal of the gloss of ones early married days. Willie calls her something beginning with a d_ & he seemed a trifle subdued & talked vaguely of a fishing expedition. It’s nice to hear him talking of his little son & no wonder – he is really a dear little Jacob Strauss & I am so glad he father can be so fond & foolish over him. I also had letters from Stewart & Lulu Roberts Stewart’s one long wail – egotistical & self-centred as usual & hinting vaguely at a trip Home. What a dreary mess she is making of her life – it’s terribly sad to see a girl so completely off the rails or ordinary every day sane common sense. It must have been a happy relase for her poor Father after all his sufferings.
I enclose you a letter from Miss Richmond – I see she has asked you for my back Tangier letters. It is very flattering & nice of her but they are not really worth all the notice she gives them. It was rather a blow to hear Willie had swallowed up all the O.A.S. money in policies – of course he was quite right but I had hoped more pictures wld have sold by this time. I try not to look ahead, if I did I should go mad & do no work at all – but I just try to live in the present & trust to something turning up. At present there seems to be nothing coming in & I have only just enough to last me till the end of April. This trip to Tetuan is really a good move, we shall live for half what we are doing here. It is a lovely place I believe & perfectly quiet & peaceful. Don’t have any anxiety about me dear things are quite calmed down again & the rebellion suppressed & stamped out. Do ask Sis to keep an eye on my pictures & collect any money as soon as possible & cable it home. You see what a kind friend I have in Miss R. but of course one can’t take advantage of that sort of thing. Already I am in her debt for £15. Still it is a great standby to know that there is someone who will share their last crust if needs by. Mrs Ashington is also the kindest of friends but my natural pride always tries to hide the distressing fact that I am a pauper. These rich women never half understand the hidden depths of misery that poverty plunges one in. I may find that I shall have to borrow from Willie when I get back to London but it will only be to enable me to come out. I shall not stay a minute in England on anyone else’s money – directly I fail to support myself – out I shall come! I have been really having a wonderful time, full of varied experience & gathering a rich harvest of material for future use. Of course my great grief is that I haven’t done anything to make myself known I have been out of England the whole time and as you know all my energies have gone in keeping the pot boiling which same pot by the bye seems to have gone quite off the boil, and is hardly as much as simmering. I wonder if you went out to Titahi Bay to change places with Sis. I am sorry the poor old girl has been suffering so with her teeth. (Entre nous so have I, my pearls have rather come to grief & tomorrow I am to spend a day with the dentist a Spanish grub with black eyes & hands to match – O-O-OOH!) Stewart between her lamentations was able to tell me of your little garden & the little house which her well trained Bartleman eye had absorbed to the smallest details. She could see no dust under the beds & the sink was above reproach! She didn’t actually say this but I gathered it from between the lines. I had gay letters from the McLarens, they seem to be enjoying life one more.
Thank dear old Bert for his letter – short but sweet. No! Of course tell him he mustn’t marry till I come out to inspect his girl – it will never do!
I am so sorry my letters have been irregular – the mails are so uncertain from here & it is impossible to catch the Frisco so I send by Brindisi. I felt very sad to hear you had been up to the cottage & found none. I know what my feelings wld have been. I seem to have written a great deal – do you like my letters? You never say. I love yours.
Always your loving Fanny. Love to all. I am writing to Willie so don’t forward this. All news in the other letter.
6 pages
Sender's address
Villa Valentina, Tangier
Institutional No.
Credit Line
Letters from Frances Hodgkins. Field, Isabel Jane, 1867-1950 : Correspondence of Frances Hodgkins and family / collected by Isabel Field. Ref: MS-Papers-0085-13. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.