Monday, January 14, 2008

Ladder of Contemplation

Evelyn Underhill to J. A. Herbert*

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
Sunday [12 June, 1910.]

To J. A. Herbert.

am perfectly ashamed of myself for leaving your various kind postcards unanswered! My only excuse is that I am working very hard against time and everything else seems to get "left." However, I am on my last chapter now, glory be! and only the ghastly processes of revision and appendix-making will remain.

. . . I wonder whether you have been to the show at the Antiquaries yet. We went yesterday and I thought it most fascinating. Hubert did not send you a card because he thought you would have more than you wanted. I wonder whether you noticed the lovely little panel of the Fractio Panis amongst the "additional objects." Not a very usual subject is it? I have seen it in Flemish art of course: and this exhibition seems to show pretty clearly the community of feeling between England and Flanders, don't you think? In St. Erasmus, for instance. I last saw him, and also the Fractio Panis oddly enough, in the Cathedral of Louvain.

Edmund Gardner has been giving some glorious lectures on Dante's mysticism at University College. They were highly stimulating but also extremely depressing in their goodness for anyone in the same line of business! A young ladies' school attended regularly, and sat open-mouthed with a bunny-rabbit expression whilst E. G. discoursed ecstatically about the ladder of contemplation, and the soul's ascent to the vision of Truth!

*J. A. Herbert: Deputy Keeper of MSS at the British Museum, and author of Illuminated Manuscripts (London: Methuen, 1911).

-from The Letters of Evelyn Underhill edited with an introduction by Charles Williams (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1945) p.119.

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