Title: The Upton Letters
Author: Arthur Christopher Benson
Release Date: November, 2003 [Etext #4615] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on February 19, 2002]
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THE UPTON LETTERS
By ARTHUR CHRISTOPHER BENSON
aedae muri’ eseidon oneirata, koudepo aos.
These letters were returned to me, shortly after the death of the friend to whom they were written, by his widow. It seems that he had been sorting and destroying letters and papers a few days before his wholly unexpected end. “We won’t destroy these,” he had said to her, holding the bulky packet of my letters in his hand; “we will keep them together. T—— ought to publish them, and, some day, I hope he will.” This was not, of course, a deliberate judgement; but his sudden death, a few days later, gives the unconsidered wish a certain sanctity, and I have determined to obey it. Moreover, she who has the best right to decide, desires it. A few merely personal matters and casual details have been omitted; but the main substance is there, and the letters are just as they were written. Such hurried compositions, of course, abound in literary shortcomings, but perhaps they have a certain spontaneity which more deliberate writings do not always possess. I wrote my best, frankest, and liveliest in the letters, because I knew that Herbert would value both the thought and the expression of the thought. And, further, if it is necessary to excuse so speedy a publication, I feel that they are not letters which would gain by being kept. Their interest arises from the time, the circumstance, the occasion that gave them birth, from the books read and criticised, the educational problems discussed; and thus they may form a species of comment on a certain aspect of modern life, and from a definite point of view. But, after all, it is enough for me that he appreciated them, and, if he wished that they should go out to the world, well, let them go! In publishing them I am but obeying a last message of love.