[ 1882 November, 27 ]Letters
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[Alexandria] 27 November 1882

My dear Constantine,
     I have this day received your interesting letter 18th instant and am puzzled to the extreme at your statement that the Queen has not reached you for the last five weeks, inasmuch as it arrives here regularly and is as regularly again reposted by me. In this point however, your letters to me and Aristides are conflicting, seeing that in one you state the nonreceipt of the paper to have occured for five, and in the other for two, weeks ¯
     Thanks for your clever criticism of “¸ñùò áëãïöüñïò” (this to prove that I have adopted the title) ¯ which is worthy of your usual perspicuity in analysing matters. Albeit I differ from you and confidently think I have somewhat improved upon the original ¯ The account of St. Spiridion’s miracle is well worth an abler hand than mine to transcribe. Epics, as you know, are not my style and when I essay an episode I am constantly at fault owing to the constant straying of my thoughts from the main point ¯ It has cost me more trouble to write the “Death of Phocas” than all my other verses put together.
     The themes I like to deal with are such as can barely be discerned thro’ the surrounding imagery ¯ and which, though unapparent throughout the whole, ¯ here and there with a word or simile are made forcibly palpable, and indicate the key of the entire poem ¯
     So much of my literary vagaries, which are not worth the time I expend in composing them, no! nor the paper and ink.¯ Enclosed you will find two extracts from the Egyptian Gazette. One refers to the death of the old Menasee (who it is said bequeaths to his son Behor a million and a half of money) and that of Neroutsos’ son ¯ Neroutsos Bey is much cast down by this loss ¯ a sad one indeed. Mrs. Neroutsos is now here.
     The other extract is the notice Mr. Moss has caused to be inserted for the impending sale of his furniture. I think it will amuse you, for it is such a contrast to the usual way of expressing one’s misfortunes.
     Tomorrow, Tuesday, I am invited to spend five days with Mr. Moss at the Hotel Beau Séjour Ramleh, and as you can easily imagine, shall not fail to avail myself of an opportunity that offers a clean bed and good living and a short absence from the unpleasant vicinity of the Rossini theatre.
     Yesterday, Sunday, Aristides and I dined at the Schilizzis ¯ It was my first entrance into the old lady’s house, and I found her very kind and hospitable. Pandy and his wife live in the same house. Mrs. Peggy Schilizzi is very poorly and I believe consumptive ¯ She looks as one “whom Death hath marked his own”. ¯
     You ask from me to send you “Periplus” and “Streams” etc. I shall comply with your request next mail ¯ Copying is dreary work, and I have very little time to myself. Were it not that I always expect to get on with Mr. Moss, I should really feel annoyed at the way I am overworked in the Office ¯ Kneen has ¯ so to speak ¯ handed me over the entire correspondence of the firm; and this, besides my other work, is, on mail days especially, enough to drive one mad. Do not think I complain, for I hold as my first tenet that work ¯ true, loyal work ¯ whether written or active, is the one, true guide to peace of mind, and preservation from evil; ¯ but unfortunately I am of those who, if it were possible to avert the necessity of work, ¯ would sit moping and dreaming from early dawn to darkening night. ¯
     You need have no fear of any irregularity on my part in corresponding with you ¯ I shall continue as heretofore to address you once a week. There is no news ¯ Lord Dufferin has as yet done nothing ¯ Araby’s trial is not quite organized, but expected shortly. I posted you a few Gazettes and trust to hear you have received them. It is extremely unpleasant that anything is intercepted ¯ Here I suspect nothing, for I post all letters and papers myself.
     Give my very best love to dear mother, Alexander and Paul, and believe me, gentle Constantinus,
          Your affectionate
                    John.

From John C. Cavafy
To Constantine Cavafy

Transcribed and edited by Katerina Ghika