A Proper Stoic
- Duff Cooper: The Authorised Biography by John Charmley
Weidenfeld, 265 pp, £12.95, April 1986, ISBN 0 297 78857 4
There is a moment in À La Recherche du Temps Perdu when Swann visits the Duchesse de Guermantes and finds her going to a party. He blurts out that he is mortally ill and may not be seeing her again. She ignores this news and gives him a smiling farewell as she gets into her carriage. E.M. Forster thought the scene one of the most odious in the novel, or rather in the Novel, and he seems to assume, rather naively, that Proust is as shocked by the incident as he is. Forster’s reaction suggests the existence of two categories, a Guermantes one and a Forster one, with absolutely no understanding of each other, or of each other’s values. Indeed the Forster class would deny that the Guermantes class had any values worth speaking of.
Vol. 8 No. 10 · 5 June 1986
SIR: As a footnote to John Bayley’s review (LRB, 8 May) – and since there is unlikely to be another biography of Duff Cooper coming along – it seems worth transcribing manuscript notes made on the end papers of my copy of Cooper’s Old men forget by the previous owner, Roger Senhouse. They suggest that the Paris Embassy under the Coopers was not, perhaps, the finest hour of British overseas representation:
Ed Stanley (Lord Stanley of Alderley) staying at Embassy in Paris has many stories, mostly belonging to the David Herbert saga and usually centring round his own drunken state:
Diana was out for the evening or away. The Ambassador said he must have a woman. Undisguised, they drove together to Mme X, Duff on the way asking about tariff and clearly prepared to haggle. 5000 was the sum fixed and Ed, not wanting to fusticate, sat and gossiped while D was at play. He returned outraged saying that the monetary arrangement had been violated, closely followed by his paramour, who demanded 10,000. Il m’a bissée, she hissed to the madame.
After a previous night, David came to warn Ed in the morning that his reception from Diana would not be comforting at breakfast.