You see, I am more terrified of writing to Mrs Woolf than to anybody, because her standard of letter writing is so high - one feels that a letter to Mrs Woolf should compare favourably to, let us say, a letter from Gibbon to Mme du Deffand. But I, alas, am not so important as Gibbon; and you, alas, are more important than Mme du Deffand.*
Among the various Middle Classes
(Who live on treacle and molasses)
A custom has (for want of better)
Been called the Bread and Butter Letter.
But Mrs Woolf would not rejoice
In anything that’s so bourgeoise,
So what can poor Old Possum do,
Who’s upper-middle through and through?
For centuries and centuries
And under President or King,
He’s always told the proper lies
And always done the proper thing.
Still growing longer in the tooth,
He sometimes yearns to speak the truth,
And would express his gratitude
For conversation, bed and food,
And quiet walks on downs and knolls,
And Sunday morning game of bowls.
Whoever gives him their approval -
He only hopes that Mrs Woolf’ll.**
* T. S. Eliot to Virginia Woolf, letter from 9 Jan 1935
**T. S. Eliot to Virginia Woolf, letter from Oct 1937
(Taken from Hermione Lee’s biography ”Virginia Woolf”)