[ 1885 January, 5 ]Letters
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[Alexandria] 5 January 1885

My dear Constantine, Your letter 29 December reached me yesterday, and as usual was the source of much pleasure to me. Swinburne’s lines are pretty, although the sentiments expressed are commonplace to a degree. I am delighted to see you get on so well with Much Ado about nothing, and our old friend “Xapolimoss” tickled my innermost midriff with laughter that would have pleased the Homeric Gods. ¯ This is Old X’mas eve and I could wish for no better diversion than writing to you. The fresh translations you require, are herein, but the tasks you set me are regular “posers”, and I doubt my ability to seize the intricacies of the Shakespearian intellect. Of course you are aware that whole commentaries have been written on some of the passages, and such an one is Benedick’s speech. “Cinque pace” is yet unintelligible to me: I have referred to Shakespearian Glossaries, but even they throw no light on the word. ¯ I hope George will not fail to send us his “photo”: in fact I am so eager for it that I intend writing him a line this mail to remind him and give him our news.
     Enclosed I send you also cheque on the Credit Lyonnais for £10 from Peter and myself. Now I know how inadequate this amount is to meet the necessaries of existence, but we are helpless; for Aristides has hardly earned enough wherewith to pay his expenses, and besides he has the Schilizzis to pay off, who, owing to this debt of his, appear to be making us “ìïýôñá”.
     We are all three sadly distressed that at this season, above all others, of the year, we should send you so little but what can we do? It is evident that it would be no good for Aristides to borrow more money (even if he could find anyone to lend it) to send it you and it is still more evident to all of us that if we wish to maintain the friendship and goodwill of the Schilizzis this debt of Aristides must be wiped out as speedily as possible. ¯ It is very painful to me that this eagerly expected monthly remittance should be so small and I can well imagine your disappointment ¯ It is however granted to me to convey to you in this letter at least one welcome piece of intelligence and that is the official confirmation of the increase of my salary ¯ The remuneration of my services is fixed for the year 1885 at £240. Little enough you will say, and certainly not what I expected, but then bad trade must be taken into consideration, bad inasmuch as it has never been worse, and all the world it would appear is suffering from commercial depression and financial inactivity ¯ Now you see having £20 per month, I shall be able to send you regularly from the end of this month £10. and keep £10, which, I think it is needless to add, will maintain me better than £7 at present, ¯ the latter as you know being barely sufficient to pay one’s board and lodging, leave alone anything else. Then ¯ which God grant! ¯ if Peter succeed in getting something more, he may be able to send you, say £6 or £7 a month: and thus you would have from us two alone £17, besides what Aristides might remit after he has cleared his debt. So, things are getting a shade better, if (there are always “ifs” to plague one) if, I say, Peter’s salary is increased and Aristides’ labours be rewarded ¯ The latter works very hard and it seems to me a rank injustice that his exertions should render so little: but as he has already written to you, the Bourse brokerage is now reduced to simple speculation, and he, who has not money to risk, cannot hope to make much, if anything.
     And now I must set to and finish the translations. Give my sincere love to our dear mother and brothers, and offering you all, my best wishes for a happy Xmas, (albeit under trying circumstances)
          Believe me as ever
               Yours affectionately
                    John.
 
C.F. Cavafy Esquire
     Constantinople.


From John C. Cavafy
To Constantine Cavafy

Transcribed and edited by Katerina Ghika