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Letter from John Cawte Beaglehole to his Mother, 16th May, 1929

page 1

Three letters this time in my N.Z.
mail, thank you for all your congratulations, I feel
quite overwhelmed. You seem to have [unclear: jiled] up quite
a lot of excitement out of the great event, so much so
that I'm quite surprised Auntie didn't turn on a fruit-
salad for you all. Well, will you please thank her
& Auntie Win very much for their letters, pending a
more direct & more courteous acknowledgement, & Auntie
for her enclosure, which of course I am having the
usual difficulty in spending. Shall I buy the new [unclear: Sin]
[unclear: Miss Beaune] in 6 vols with it? Or the Shakespeare [unclear: Head]
Press Plutarch? Or merely a new pair of [unclear: pyjamas]?
A great question. — Thank-you very much for your
& Daddy's gift too, although it didn't come. I have only
to retort on you your remark on double birthday
presents — you shouldn't do it. But as you are
sending it I shall endeavour to put it to a worthy
use. Perhaps to pick up anything that's left over after
the Auntie splurge. I have been thinking of some
of the new gents Celanese underwear for some time,
& if I come back to N.Z. I must certainly startle the
page 2 natives in some way. I take it by the way that
Daddy merely omitted to enclose the postal orders or
notes, as they were not contained in the envelope, never
was there any sign of their having been pinched. I
am certainly much attracted by the Plutarch. And yet
the [unclear: Sin The Bourne] is very nice. And a guinea
cheque. I haven't bought myself anything to celebrate
yet so perhaps we might all club together & do something
splendiferous. At the same times there's a very nice thin
paper 3 vol [unclear: Pepys] complete which is very attractive. Let
alone that beautiful Celanese underwear. — I duly
note the Songs of Childhood [unclear: t64]. Immoral I call it.
The bloke had no right to take the money. It must
have been an exceptionally good copy, though of course
the [unclear: loom] is still on the upgrade. It looks to me as if
there is going to be a nasty crash sometime not too far
off. As to the question of my title, which seems to
be worrying you both: I believe I may now be addressed
as Dr by anyone who wants so do to, & perhaps if it would
bring me in a job any faster it would be an advantage.
Otherwise I don't care much. I'll never be insulted
if anyone calls me Mister. Did you ever hear the
yarn about Ern's cobber Sutherland & Daddy's
fellow member of the A.A.P.P.? He was heard
at the phone at College shortly after he had got his
page 3 Ph.D. telling Whitecombe's where to send some books.
"Dr Sutherland! Dr Sutherland! No, not Mister,
Doctor!" I wont throw it up at him though,
he may have changed by now. No, I didn't shout
anybody anything on that occasion. I was shouted, as I
recounted to you in the relevant place. No alas, I am
not the first to get the degree — de K. & Helen A. got there
theirs 18 months & 11 months ago. I forget now whether
of the 4 Osterley coves it was I who bet Hemming or
Hemming who bet me by a week or two. I think I had
my exam first, but his was formally granted first. Mine
of course has not been formally granted yet — such is
the almost excessive speed of the University of London.
I think the Senate meets in three or fours days. — You
seem to have had a pretty good Easter with all your
grandchildren round your knees — or perhaps it would be
more accurate to say round Auntie's knees. Though
now I remember it, Auntie didn't mention Betty, perhaps
Betty isn't up to [unclear: hoos] yet. The next thing I suppose
will be Uncle John returning from his wonderings
with his pockets full of toys for the children. Ahem!
Thank God for Woolworths! Then I suppose I shall have
to take them to pantomimes, or perhaps to Alan Wilkie,
as no doubt they are exceptionally high-brow kids.
Or b may be they are still higher-brow, & are keen students
page 4 of the flicks. Anyhow I can see a job will be
urgently necessary if I am to do the right things as an
uncle. Keith's remarks on Mary's looks I can only
regard as highly invidious & uncalled for: still no
doubt Mary has her private sentiments as to his looks,
so I dare say they are about even. I am glad to
hear that your visitors didn't stir you up too much. I am
also glad to hear that Keith and Frannie are so well-
satisfied with their house — of course if I came back I
shall need to put in a good deal of time while waiting
for a job to turn up, & as I shall have no money I
shall certainly have to sponge alternatively on all
married brothers etc. In this way I shall no doubt see
a good deal of N.Z. Perhaps you had better start writ-
& prepare Frannie. I don't mind playing with the
kids & lending a hand with the washing up.

I am sorry to hear that Auntie Sis has struck
another bad patch — she has had a stiff run & no mistake.
Why the devil does her son want to get married for so
early? They're mad, these kids. I suppose [unclear: Tony] will
be running a family next. Silly coots! I am sorry
to hear about Auntie Sis though. I note your self
congratulation on daughters-in-law. — I note also
with interest that you still seem to be finding some books
to read, & can only assume that Daddy hit on a
page 5 hidden [unclear: hand] somewhere, perhaps during excavations
in Lambton Quay, & got away with them before anyone
could stop him. You say (referring to Parson Wood-
"You have I." apparently Vol I. I thought it
was Daddy's. If it is mine I am completely forgetting
what books I have, & it might be just as well to pay a
visit to Wgton before anyone gets down on them.
You never know, Aunt Hannah might sneak a few
under her more convenient garments, & no one the
wiser; & then there would be the devil to pay when I
did find out. Talking of books reminds me of Auntie
Win's strange lapse of memory about the soap & water
she threw around my room, & her effort to blame
it on to Auntie. S This is a very low-down trick, &
quite unworthy of a Christian gentlewoman, more
especially of a communicating member of the Church
of the Province of New Zealand. I hope she has
reached a better frame of mind by now. — Well,
let me thank you again for your three pages — quite a
vast effort & all perused with interest, appreciation, &

Answers to questions by Daddy: I was told off by
a London cop for riding on my bike across Trafelgar
Square instead of getting into the hurly gurdy & going
right round & quite a long while ago, I didn't know
page 6 the rules in those days. The cow mad me go all the
way back again. — Address will be Institute till further
notice; they will forward when necessary, & I don't know
where I shall be by the time you get this. — The [unclear: 5 gus]
are still in suspense, but I'm afraid they have me
beaten over it, someone after a lot of palava managed
to produce 1/2 [unclear: abuse] in a long regulation, & I got another
demand the other day after a couple of months rest,
undisturbed by me. Money-grabbing hounds! — I
am glad to see that Hicks is supplying a book or so to
the household — nothing like tapping every vein, or well,
or seam, whatever you tap. I believe I borrowed [unclear: Neven-
Changes & Chances, the 1st volume, from Suther-
— why don't you try him? I have got vol II More
C & C. Picked up 2nd hand in Charing X Road. He is a
great cove, isn't he? — Yes I had a note from G.Q.P. on
his Anthology, & am sending him out some stuff by this
mail. 40 poets, he told me he was having, & some of them
real good. I said why not have 4 & have them all good?
I thank Daddy for his quotation on [unclear: Fraude][unclear: Carly le]
I should say, from internal evidence.

Well, things don't look too promising for a job
over this side or in the States.

Dean, Deans, I went downstairs just now to see if
there was any mail & there was a little letter from the
page 7 Academic Registrar of the Univ. of London, addressed to
John Cawte Beaglehole [unclear: Esq] Ph.D., to inform him that
the Senate at their meeting yesterday had conferred upon
him the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. So that's all right.
I think I might send a brief but hectic life of myself
to the N.Z. Associated Press now for dissemination throughout
the right places.

To return to the question of jobs. I have received
answers from most of the places in the States to which
I wrote, they all say very politely, Nothing doing, thanks
for writing, we have filed your letter. More important
is the [unclear: fact] that I went along to the American consulate
the other day to see about a place in the quota in case
of need, & found that it was full up for two years in
advance. So it looks as if I'm blocked in that
direction. Apparently I should have rushed along &
put down my name on spec as soon as I got to Eng-
! Curse their infernal restrictions. I am
now enquiring about a job in Portsmouth, but as they
haven't deigned to answer at all my request for
further particulars, (as invited in the advertisement) that
doesn't look too promising. I have also put in for a
Univ. of London travelling studentship (1 year [unclear: t275])
thinking that I could quite well put in a year in
Paris; but I have no hopes of this, & it isn't exactly
page 8 what I want either. Still I have completely given up hopes
of getting that. I saw Newton, & he was more stupidly
fatuous than he has ever been — I wash my hands of him —
anyhow there doesn't seem to be anything doing in
Ch India. I may possibly — just hear from F.P. next
mail — meanwhile I suppose I can still try China,
[unclear: Labrador] or Antarctica. — The worst thing of all
however just at present is that the O.U.P. has turned down
my book — exceedingly courteously & even complemen-
, but they think its too much of a dissertation
& not enough of a book (that is the worst blow!!),
still they hope I will go on to write something else.
I have written to ask what do they think of cutting
it down t & revising, but haven't had an answer
yet. Of course if I can't get a job here & have to leave
for N.Z. in July, it will make publication a confound-
awkward & long drawn-out matter. However it
can't be helped. Meanwhile I am reading Camp-
thesis (among other things) & consoling myself

I think I told you in my last of Mrs Han-
visit to me. She took me out about a week
after — or did I tell you about that too? Anyhow she
done me proud. Lunch at a very satisfying though
not flash place in Piccadilly. We then went to see
page 9 the picture of Dad Dod Proctor's which the Academy
turned down & incidentally saw some 1st rate land-
by Ethebbert White (I'd like to see Uncle
George turning out stuff like that). We then went to
the pictures, as there seemed to be nothing much on
in the way of theatre matinees, & ss saw another Screen
Classic called The Student of Prague — pretty good. I
then said I'd take a hand, so I took her to Swan &
Edgar's for tea & conversation, after which I escorted
her to her quarters at the Overseas Club. She has now
gone off to Bristol for a month. Before we parted
she said she would write to you & say that I looked
quite healthy, I said I'd already told you that she'd
said that, but she said that you'd believe it more
if she said it personally. Which may be so. It was
a very inspiriting afternoon anyhow. The only other
visitor I have had was also from N.Z. — one Isobel
McLennon, C.Q.P.'S girl, who came with a letter
of re-introduction. I entertained her & gave her good
advice, & afterwards responded to an S.O.S. from
Campbell to help entertain her, for he bad been
written to also, & is rather at a loss with a total
stranger unless said stranger can immediately em-
on the discussion of politics which Miss
McL could not do. However Ern also turned up,
page 10 & we had quite a cheerful evening.

My reading has been going on fairly well. All
Quiet on the Western Front is the best war-book I have
read, tremendously powerful stuff. They ought to
print it in the school journal; but I don't think you
would like it. Sinclair Lewis' Dodsworth is good,
but not his best stuff. He seems to me to have
taken a considerable, perhaps unconscious pride in
airing his knowledge of wines & European restaurants.
Most of the action takes place in Europe. But I
think the real power lies in the Mid West. Have you
ever reflected how like N.Z. is fundamentally to
provincial America? I don't mean so much in attitude
to money-making (& yet I do a good deal too) as to
ideas & general knowledge of & interest in the world at
large. We're thoroughly provincial — all except Us,
of course I mean — the Intelligent Minority. [unclear: 7am] by
Wyndham Lewis is good, but about extremely peculiar
people, it didn't excite me as much as it seems to have
done Rebecca West. Have you read Gibbon's Autobiog-
— that's a pearl, if you like. I am now
lapping up Graham Walles' Human Nature in
Politics, an extremely good book. You ought to read
it. I got my copy 2nd hand when I was in Bristol;
rt & as he is looking after Ern so well you may
page 11 like to hear that in the back the former owner had
scribbled about some passages which he didn't like
"Sarcasm — a man who writes like this cannot be o
regarded as a safe guide." So perhaps I had better
warn Ern. — The only show I have been to is
La Via Parisienne at the Lyric Hammersmith, quite
a bright turn-out. I am thinking of trotting along to
the Opera some time next week though, if there are any
seats for a bloke who won't go down at 8 in the morning.
I have not omitted mention of [unclear: five] shows — I have knocked
around in the National Gallery a bit, & one afternoon
visited for the first time the London Museum, a very
exciting places, with relics of old Newgate Prison &
models of 16th & 17th century London & all. I may even —
I am firmly determined to — get as far as the Tower
some day before I leave. Yesterday I had a good
look at Westminster Cathedral — a noble building which the
Micks, as ever, are doing there their best to vulgarise. Also
the new Underground Headquarters at Westminster, a
very interesting h [unclear: log] & good piece of modern architec-
. To-morrow, if fine, I am going to tramp in
the country with a cobber. And when I have posted this
I shall go to bed. — I enclose two pictures, the product
of my camera, Hemming and me. Love to you both
as always in full measure