Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Whether “you could bear the idea of marrying me”

Given all the talk about marriage here of late, what better time to feature one of the greatest proposals that the English literary scene has to offer: that of Evelyn Waugh to Laura Herbert.
“I can’t advise you in my favour because I think it would be beastly for you, but think how nice it would be for me. I am restless & moody and misanthropic & lazy & have no money except what I earn and if I got ill you would starve. In fact it’s a lousy proposition. On the other hand I think I could do a Grant and reform & become quite strict about not getting drunk and I am pretty sure I should be faithful. Also there is always a fair chance that there will be another bigger economic crash in which case if you had married a nobleman with a great house you might find yourself starving, while I am very clever and could probably earn a living of some sort somewhere.” 
“All these are very small advantages compared with the awfulness of my character. I have always tried to be nice to you and you may have got it into your head that I am nice really, but that is all rot. It is only to you & for you. I am jealous & impatient — but there is no point in going into a whole list of my vices. You are a critical girl and I’ve no doubt that you know them all and a great many I don’t know myself.”
I myself would be inclined to accept this proposal, if I weren't currently married and Waugh hadn't made the offer in 1936.

h/t to Angelico's comment at the Korrektiv


JMB said...

This is hilarious! Who is the Grant in the "do the Grant"?

mrsdarwin said...

I did a lot of googling of Grant and Waugh and 1936 and reform, but I didn't come up with much. Finally I looked up Grant in Wikipedia and clicked on all the people who might be likely candidates in 1936, and I came across Duncan Grant, a member of the Bloomsbury Group whom Waugh may or may not have known. (Apparently Grant was, for a time, the lover of John Maynard Keynes.) Grant, despite being a homosexual, lived for a long time in apparent harmony with Vanessa Bell, with whom he had a child. (Bell's husband occasionally dropped by their home with his mistress -- one big happy family.)

I'm not sure where the reform would come in here, but Grant is an interesting character.

The Ubiquitous said...

I know Waugh was English, but the point about being drunk made me think of the U.S. President. I'm not sure "reforming" fits the character of Duncan Grant so far as Wikipedia knows him.