Letter from Frances Hodgkins to Rachel Hodgkins

22 Aug 1908
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22 Aug 1908
Laren. N.H. Aug 22nd
My darling Mother
I shall write this in Holland & post it in England as I am crossing tomorrow night & this will be my last word to you written on Dutch soil. Judging from the wind & rain today I expect to get a good slam banging in the North Sea. It is 12 hours journey from Rotterdam to Hull & from here a very long & complicated train journey. So many stupid little stations where I must change both on this side of the water & in Yorkshire when I get there. I have already sent on my luggage which simplifies things a little. I can travel light-handed & no porter clamouring for cents. My boat is the “Jervaulx Abbey” which is a queer sort of name to go to sea with but I don’t expect there is much cloistered calm about it when its steam is up. A pupil wrote to say she would like to come & take lessons this week, but it is now too late to change plans. If only they had all made up their minds to come quickly & promptly & have lessons I would have had a nice little class by now. I heard last week from Winnie Brotherton there has been no sale at the Nat. Gallery. It has been a mistake on the part of Miss Deakin. Also I don’t think she meant anything at all by her enquiries for my picture. They meant well but it has only added another disappointment to the many I have already had. It has proved a rotten plank in the swamp & I thought it was going to be a stepping stone. However I am bearing up! What cold good intellectual people these kind Brothertons are – they are not quite real & spontaneous. What opposites we are – I didn’t disguise from Aunt Jane that I should be glad of the money value of the picture I supposed had been sold in Melbourne – yet not one word of understanding or sympathy or hint of any sort of help did they show in the letter – cold, well expressed self contained staid pair of Puritans that they are. Jim seems to be exploiting the Solomons, a bad & wicked lot of islands where travellers’ heads are held in high esteem by the natives. It is rich in unmined wealth & full of untold dangers & adventures. Good old Jim! Winnie doesn’t put it quite like this. There is always a minor note of displeasure when Jim is mentioned. My “cousin Mrs Wood” is apparently a leading figure in the festivities of the American Fleet. She is going to Castlemaine. She will without doubt end up at the White House. It is a sad blow not selling in Auckland. It is a dismal prospect – Auctions & Art Unions & the work house! Things are at such a pass in England that artists simply ram their work down people’s throats & advertise & cry up their work in every possible way. It is a horrible age of self advertisement & if you don’t do - you get left behind. If you can get the ear of the press & get yourself written up & talked about you get a chance but without something of this sort, Heaven help you! There is a quiet elderly man here at this pension who has been painting in Laren for 13 years. He is a fine artist but his work has never reached the outside world & probably never will during his lifetime. He never sends to any shows but works on & on for his own pleasure & produces pictures full of beauty & fine feeling & which wld make his name if shown to the world. But he is a recluse & a thinker & has a sufficiency to live on & does not care to come down from his heights into the market place. How few of us are allowed to live like this – or who can? He wastes none of his force on outside things but it has its meagre sad side too. It is interesting meeting people & studying the different shadings of Life & how art touches them & what it makes of them.
My best love to you all dearest Mother & keep well your dear self. I shall write from England on arrival. Envelope postmarked Hull Aug 25 1908 addressed: Mrs Hodgkins, Central Terrace, Wellington, New Zealand
4 pages
Sender's address
Laren, N.H.
Institutional No.
Credit Line
Correspondence - Frances Hodgkins. Field, Isabel Jane, 1867-1950 : Correspondence of Frances Hodgkins and family / collected by Isabel Field. Ref: MS-Papers-0085-21. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.