Came to London yesterday morning. The Atkinses arrived on Saturday and left on Monday. An impression of off-season, half-emptiness throughout West End. Girls driving motor cars. If one thinks about recruiting one soon gets obsessed by number of young men about the streets. Lunch with Pinker at Arts Club. "Price of Love" had sold 6,700 Engl. and 3,500 colonial. Season good, at shops; but libraries 'obstructive' as Pinker said.
|Dr. Walter Hines Page|
He had seen Conrad that morning, just returned from Austrian Poland. C. had no opinion of Russian army, and had come to England to influence public opinion to get good terms for Austria! As if he could. Pinker had also seen Henry James, who often goes to see Page, American Ambassador, in afternoons. They have long quiet talks together. First time H.J. opened his heart to Page, he stopped and said: "But, I oughtn't to talk like this to you, a neutral." Said Page: "My dear man, if you knew how it does me good to hear it!" Hy. James is strongly pro-English, and comes to weeping point sometimes.
Then tea at A.B.C. Shop opposite Charing Cross. Down into smoking room. A few gloomy and rather nice men. One couple of men deliberately attacking dish of hot tea-cakes. Terrible. Familiar smell of hot tea. A.B.C shops are still for me one of the most characteristic things in London.
"Milestones" on buses again. Same servants at hotels and clubs.
After tea to N.L.C. but I saw nobody I knew. Then, through latest dusk, to Reform, where Rickards and I dined. London not so dark as I expected, owing to lamps in centre of roads throwing down a volume of light in the shape of a lamp shade (they are blackened at top). After dinner, Ponting's antarctic cinema, followed by poor war pictures, at Phil. Hall.
Provincial-seeming audience. Woman behind me continually exclaimed under her breath, with a sharp, low intake of breath, 'Oh', 'Oh'.
Two nice old johnnies at Reform Club, phlegmy-voiced, one fat, one thin, quoting latin to each other over their reading. One said he had a music professor from Liege coming to stay with him - seemed rather naively proud of it. Many old men at Reform. Their human-ness, almost boyishness, comes out. Lying placards on evening papers. P.M.G. "Great German Retreat" on strength of a phrase in Belgian communique affecting one small part of battle line only.