Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to John Buckland

Letter No.: 
Oct 20 [1946]

The White Gates

Dear Buckland
For our old friendships sake here is this - but
(a) not a loan but a gift - I do no want to hang a millstone round your neck for the rest of your life
(b) not necessarily to be used for the purposes specified in your letter1

I cannot believe you are ready yet to embark on this opera - by all means keep it in your mind & make notes - but as to the actual writing put it off till you have more musical and theatrical experience. Try & get a job (even walking on) at the Wells or Carl Rosa2 & see how the stage wheels go round - Then try your hand at something small (comic opera? - that I believe is the best practice - see Wagner's advice to young composers)
I cannot believe that all you want to know about M.A.3 cannot be found at the B.M4 & elsewhere in England
Unless you are a trained researcher (which I do not imagine you are) 3 weeks among the Italian libraries would not be much use to you
If you do go to Italy spend your time having some lessons from Casella - he has one of those hard dry Italian minds & could "put you through it" in a way that we in England do not seem able to do with our pupils
R Vaughan Williams

P.S. I have for many years refused to be "drored" so I cannot break my rule now - sorry
P.P.S. I hope this letter will arrive but I cannot read your address

1. Presumably Buckland had asked for a loan for a trip to Italy.
2. Sadler's Wells Theatre and Carl Rosa Opera Company.
3. "M.A." has not been identified.
4. British Museum

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Music-related Autograph Collection Box 11, Folder V38 Letter 030
General notes: 

Date year estimated; Casella died in March 1947 so this letter no later than 1946. Pages numbered by VW 1-8 but without page 6; it is unclear if a page is missing.