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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

And make sure to visit The Arnold Bennett Society for expert information and comment on all aspects of the life and work of AB.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Death of Gissing

Sunday, July 31st., Spade House, Sandgate.

Spade House was the home of the science fiction writer H. G. Wells from 1901 to 1909. It is a large mansion overlooking Sandgate, near Folkestone, in southeast England.

Wells at Sandgate
I had a lot of curious sensations on returning to England after an absence of seven months - especially on waking up in an English house shaking off France, and re-adjusting my perspective of England and finding how fine England was, and how I was full of sympathy for it, and all that sort of thing. But I was too tired and too idle and too busy with Wells to bother about putting them down. nearly all Wells's conversation would make good table talk and one has a notion that it ought not to be wasted; it is so full of ideas and of intellectual radicalism. It seems a pity that it should not be gathered up. But after all there is a constant supply of it. You might as well be afraid of wasting the water from a brook. I read the proofs of "The Food of the Gods" these last two days, and gave him my views on it. He was very keen and restless and nervous to hear them.

Talking of education he said there was a particular time in human growth when each particular thing should be taught - before which it would be too soon and after which it would be too late.

The Rationalist Press Association would have liked to issue a 6d. edition of "Anticipations". However, Watts broke it gently to Wells that "God" was mentioned several times in the book and their subscribers would not like it. "Of course," said Watts, "I know you only use the word figuratively." "Not so figuratively as all that," said Wells.

The Rationalist Press Association (RPA) was founded in 1899 by Charles Albert Watts, the son of the prominent freethinker Charles Watts, to “assist in securing the amendment of the law which sanctions the confiscation of property left for anti-theological purpose, and to promote the issuing, advertising, and circulation of publications devoted to Freethought and Advanced Religious reform.” At the time, bequests of donations to Freethought organizations were confiscated because of the widely held assumption that a morally sound person would not want to donate to them. The RPA became the most significant publishing organization for rationalist and freethought organizations.

Sketch of Gissing by Wells
Mr. and Mrs. Wells gave me between them a history of Gissing's tragedies. Gissing lived connubially with a French woman. Wells gave me an account, full of queer details, of how he went over to St. Jean de Luz when Gissing was dying. Gissing's mouth had to be wiped out with lemon water, and his body sponged over with absolute alcohol. Wells did this. The woman was incompetent and stupid. The alcohol gave out and he had to use methylated spirits. There was only one towel. One corner had to be used for the mouth-washing, another for the methylated spirits business. The corners got mixed up. Gissing, delirious, resisted. Then Wells had to insist, the woman objecting, on handkerchiefs being used; she said the handkerchiefs would get dirty at once - etc. etc. similar incredible stupidities.

According to Pierre Coustillas (The Heroic Life of George Gissing, Part III: 1897-1903), H G Wells was a prime villain in the case. Arriving at Gissing’s sickbed on Christmas Day 1903, Wells force-fed the patient pints of champagne, beef tea and coffee, and more or less killed him on the spot.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A bookman's advice

Tuesday, July 30th., Dieppe.

From Antibes to Dieppe (now a thousand times more English than Caen ever was) I motored 1,185 miles, averaging only 170 miles per day. And yet I seemed to have lived in the car! On a tour one ought to motor only every other day. But one cannot. One is forced on and on by the distressing irrational desire to arrive at a certain destination at a certain time. And my holiday reading came with me.

Ordinary people, by which I mean people not specially interested in books, when they are going off for a holiday, do their packing and then think about books, if indeed they think about books at all! But bookmen (and women) take pleasure in thinking what books they will pack, and what wonderful reading they will do while distant from their bookshelves. They dream upon books before they dream upon neckties - or even upon frocks. Their dreams seldom come true; but does that seriously matter? A dream is an end in itself.

The thing somehow works out differently. The notion that you have more time for reading from home than at home is a fallacious one. The great readers of the earth, I have found, are generally the busy people with not a moment to spare. We all assert, honestly and not untruthfully, that we lack time for reading; but we have at home more time than we think. The proof: When a 'busy' person happens to get hold of a book which really interests him, he will miraculously discover hidden reserves of time for reading it. I once knew a young woman whose existence, like that of most young women, was one incessant rush. She was forever complaining that she could only read in bed, and that as soon as she began to read in bed she went to sleep. I excited her by remarks about Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and lent her the book. She read it in four days! When I asked her how she managed the feat she could not reply because she did not know the answer.

People who want to read make time for reading at home because minutes for reading are few, and therefore precious. On holiday, minutes are as plenteous as pebbles on the beach, there is no hurry, tomorrow will do, and so little reading gets done. For myself, I have never yet on a holiday read what I had intended to read or as much as I had desired to read.

In regard to the choice of holiday books, the first rule is to choose too many. The wise reader takes books not necessarily to read them, but to have them handy for any accidents of mood. A bookman takes more books than he is ever likely to read. They are his balance at the bank. Nothing is more terrible than to be seized with a fever of reading and to finish the last of your stock. It is like the end of the world, the Day of Judgement, being thrown out of a situation, being cast on the streets. The heart horribly sinks. Take an extravagant plenty of books, for you know not what a day may bring forth. The second rule is to include in your selection a good proportion of old friends. A fine, strange book may enthrall you, but it may not, and your only refuge is a book that you know of old. The third rule is to free yourself of the idea that on a holiday you should improve your mind and that therefore you should choose books which you ought to read rather than books which you enjoy reading. The idea is ridiculous. If you have not improved your mind in eleven months at home you had better leave your mind in its primeval imbecility. Think only of the pleasure of reading. If your taste is low, which God forbid, let it be low!

Monday, 29 July 2013

An American sculptor

Saturday, July 29th., Les Sablons, Fontainebleau.

Dined last night with the American sculptor George Grey Barnard, down on the banks of the Loing at Moret.

He is doing the sculpture for the facade of the Capitol of Pennsylvania - a building a 1000 feet long and 450 feet high. Chiefly two enormous groups containing 33 heroic figures, feeble in sentiment and academic in design. What interested me was the intense absorption of the man in his work, and his energy. He is a little man with staring black eyes (one queer) and the deep strong voice of a very strong man. He has a huge old stone building by the river, rather like a church but not one; and it was curious to see this statuary for an American state being quietly produced here.

Barnard in his studio at
George Grey Barnard (1863-1938) was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. From childhood Barnard manifested a determination and an aptitude for creating form with his hands. He worked as a taxidermist and later an engraver before entering the Art Institute of Chicago when he was nineteen. At the Institute, Barnard became enamoured with the works of Italian master Michelangelo who he emulated throughout his lifetime. After his studies in Chicago, Barnard had made enough money from sculpting to travel to Paris to engage in advanced training. In Paris, Barnard was admitted to the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts for a three-year term of study. He truly lived the Bohemian lifestyle of an artist — reclusive, often penniless, and totally devoted to his art. It was Joseph Huston's 1902 Capitol commission that propelled Barnard to the forefront of the sculpting world. The original sculptural commission for Barnard was much larger than what was actually produced for the building.
Barnard set out immediately sketching and creating small models of his sculpture in clay. As soon as the first of these models was complete Barnard set off for France to begin the creation of the twenty-seven heroic figures. During his time in Moret, Barnard began collecting artwork from the Middle Ages in France. In 1904 the original sculptural scheme along with other artwork within the building was scaled back, which allowed Barnard to focus on completion of the two groups for the main entrance. Barnard completed these two groups in 1910. They were titled Love and Labor: The Unbroken Law—the north group, and The Burden of Life: The Broken Law—the south group, respectively. After exhibition at the Paris Salon, the groups were disassembled and shipped to Harrisburg. Installed on October 4, 1911 — a day that the legislature designated "Barnard Day" — the magnificent marble groups were dedicated in front of a crowd of five thousand people. After his death his body was moved to Harrisburg Cemetery, to be close to the Capitol statuary, which he considered to be his masterpiece.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Dining at the Horn

Tuesday, July 28th., Salzburg.

Kommer came at 6.45 and we were to have gone to a rehearsal of "The Miracle", but there was to be no choir that night, he found, so we didn't go. I was determined to dine one night at the Horn Hotel with the golden sign, and we went there last night. The food was excellent and cheap and the wine excellent. We talked about the organisation of the people's pleasure. Kommer quoted Chesterton as saying that since Dickens no one in England had cared for the people's pleasure because the Tories hated the people and the Liberals hated pleasure. Kommer pointed out how in Continental cities a young man could get decent civilised pleasure for almost nothing, especially in Berlin, Paris, and also in the smaller cities such as Salzburg. But not in London. When he was young in London there was nothing. Everything closed earlier (it closes earlier now) and there are only the night clubs even now, and they are not for the poor. We have the loveliest river, and it is not organised. The restaurants and cafes are rotten, and not accueillants, no choice of food and the food bad, little music, and it is so difficult to get to the places - you have to change and do all sorts of things. In places like Vienna, Berlin and Paris, all such places are easy to get to (especially in Teutonic countries) and the entire population goes out to them on Sundays.

See also, 'Adrift in Austria' - July 17th., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/friday-july-17th.html

As regards the stage, Kommer said that young actors were not supposed to live on their salaries. Parents tried to stop their children going on the stage, because of the hazardous nature of the career; but once children were there they helped them to make a start. The profession had a good social standing. He said that Geman (not Austrian) actors were impossible creatures to live and work with. Outrageous. He said they had twelve German actors in the "Miracle" at New York, and they caused far more trouble than all the rest of the 350 to 400 in the company put together.

I wrote another 1,000 words of "Lord Raingo" yesterday morning.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Talking to HG

Wednesday, July 27th., Easton Glebe, near Dunmow.

H. G. Wells called for me at 10.6 instead of 10.15 to 10.30 as he had said, and drove me down to Easton to see Jane. First part of the drive in heavy rain. When it cleared up we stopped and had a drink at a pub on the edge of the forest, gin and ginger-beer. We arrived at 12.6.

Jane had just got downstairs. She is carried down, and wheeled everywhere; but she walks a few steps. H. G. had said she was better, stronger; but she didn't seem to me to be so. Jane keeps an eye on the house. She had just arranged for the servants' holidays. The following people came in during the afternoon: the Byngs, Mrs. Davies, Lady Warwick (with an astounding hat), Peggy Gibbons (Frank Wells's fiancee) and Lady Mercy Dean, the young mother. Bridge first. Then tennis. Wells joined in both. Nobody for dinner except one nurse. H. G. went upstairs to spend 15 minutes with Jane, and then came down, and we talked till 11.10. At the end he made tea for himself. We discussed his wife, his servants, his sons. He was in favour of me politically running The World Today, and said that whatever I undertook I should succeed in.

Friday, 26 July 2013


Friday, July 26th., Yacht Club, London.

Major David Davies asked Massingham, Gardiner, Gooch, J. Douglas, and McCardy to lunch yesterday at the Carlton, about his League of Nations Association. Coal-owner. Said to be worth £3,000,000. Very simple-minded. Spoke of  "Someone named Mrs. Humphry Ward". "Someone who is called 'Q' " etc. But he has faith.

DAVIES , DAVID of Llandinam ( 1880 - 1944 ), first BARON DAVIES was the grandson of David Davies  the Welsh industrialist of the Victorian period, whose energy and enterprise he inherited. Educated at King's College , Cambridge , he entered the House of Commons at 26 years of age as Liberal member for Montgomeryshire, resigning his seat in 1929 . In World War I , he raised and commanded the 14th. Battalion , the Royal Welsh Fusiliers , at home and in France until 1916 , when he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to David Lloyd George . His name will be inseparably connected with the international crusade for world peace. A founder of the League of Nations Union , he later gained prominence as the foremost advocate of strengthening the League of Nations by the creation of an International Police Force. Though he had a wide range of industrial and commercial activities, essentially he was a countryman keenly interested in sport and at Llandinam he maintained foxhounds . He was an ardent supporter of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society .

At night I went with Needham to "Le Coq d'Or". We were too close to the trombones. The only music of Rimsky's that I ever liked. I thought the tale rotten and the spectacle 2nd rate. Still I enjoyed the whole.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Writers talking

Wednesday, July 25th. Yacht Club, London.

Great raid over Felixstowe and Harwich on Sunday morning about 8.15. Heavier bombardment than we have ever heard before. For the first time, the females fled to the cellar, and the temporary cook (who had been in a previous raid at Felixstowe) almost had hysterics. I was just beginning to shave, and so I did shave, but the row was disturbing. It ceased in a few minutes (during which over 40 people had been killed or injured). No firing nearer than 7 miles from us. The 'air raid warning' came through from the comic War Office about half an hour after the raid was over.

I came to London yesterday, lunched at Webbs, where was Glynne Williams, the new editor of the Statesman. Company tres sympathique; wrote my article in the afternoon, and went to dine at Barrie's with Thomas Hardy and wife.

Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM (1860 – 1937) was a Scottish author and dramatist, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan. The child of a family of small-town weavers, he was educated in Scotland. He moved to London, where he developed a career as a novelist and playwright. There he met the Llewelyn Davies boys who inspired him in writing about a baby boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (included in The Little White Bird), then to write Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, a "fairy play" about this ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland. This play quickly overshadowed his previous work and although he continued to write successfully, it became his best-known work, credited with popularising the name Wendy, which was very uncommon previously. Barrie unofficially adopted the Davies boys following the deaths of their parents. Barrie was made a baronet by George V in 1913, and a member of the Order of Merit in 1922. Before his death, he gave the rights to the Peter Pan works to London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, which continues to benefit from them.

Barrie has an ugly little manservant and the finest view of London I ever saw. Mrs. Hardy a very nice woman with a vibrating attractive voice. Hardy was very lively, talked like anything. Apropos of Tchekoff he started a theory that some of Tchekoff's tales were not justifiable because they told nothing unusual. He said a tale must be unusual and the people interesting. Of course he soon got involved in the meshes of applications and instances; but he kept his head and showed elasticity and common sense, and came out on the whole well. He has all his faculties, unimpaired. Quite modest and without the slightest pose.

Thomas Hardy, OM (1840 – 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist, in the tradition of George Eliot, he was also influenced both in his novels and poetry by Romanticism, especially by William Wordsworth. Like Dickens, he was highly critical of much in Victorian society, though Hardy focused more on a declining rural society. While Hardy wrote poetry throughout his life, and regarded himself primarily as a poet, his first collection was not published until 1898. Initially therefore he gained fame as the author of such novels as Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). The bulk of his fictional works, initially published as serials in magazines, were set in the semi-fictional region of Wessex and explored tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances. Hardy's Wessex is based on the medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom in south west England.

They both had very good and accurate appraisements of such different people as Shorter and Philpotts.

Later in the evening Barrie brought along both Shaw and the Wellses by 'phone. Barrie was consistently very quiet, but told a few A1 stories. At dusk we viewed the view and the searchlights. Hardy, standing outside one of the windows, had to put a handkerchief on his head. I sneezed. Soon after Shaw and the Wellses came Hardy seemed to curl up. He had travelled to town that day and was evidently fatigued. He became quite silent. I then departed and told Barrie that Hardy ought to go to bed. He agreed. The spectacle of Wells and G.B.S. talking firmly and strongly about the war, in their comparative youth, in front of this aged, fatigued, and silent man - incomparably their superior as a creative artist - was very striking.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Romance on the omnibus

Friday, July 24th., Victoria Grove, Chelsea.

How rarely does one find people unaffectedly content with themselves and their social status; keeping well within that status; not deigning in any way to ape the attire of a superior class or to attempt any other similar deception of manner; and yet attaining to dignity. On the bus I met two of these scarce creatures: a rather ugly but pleasant featured young man of thirty, dressed, with a suspicion of carelessness, in roughly-cut clothes of good material; a girl of twenty-four or twenty-five, with high cheek-bones and a face which, while indicating firmness of character, was eager to smile; she wore a neat green-and-yellow dress, with a low hat to match, plain and well-made, but clearly inexpensive. Both belonged to what is called the lower-middle class, and both were well-to-do, in that their means were obviously more than sufficient for their needs. They talked with a northern accent, quietly, confidentially, about domestic affairs, and were certainly in love with each other - probably engaged to be married.

On neither side was there any affectation of conventional manners, nor a trace of that low instinct to pose which one encounters so frequently in public vehicles. They got off without stopping the bus; the man jumped down first, and running along gave his hand to the girl, who sprang lightly forward into the air, and smiled victoriously to find herself safe on the ground ... I very nearly said to the conductor: "Isn't that pretty?"

Had I observed this scene sooner I might have used it in "A Man from the North". Just the sort of thing that Richard Larch might have observed and reflected on, perhaps wondering if he was prone to posing and affectation.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Tuesday, July 23rd., Les Sablons, Fontainebleau.

I began to see yesterday how my 'fine writing' and illuminating must develop. I saw that I could only advance with any hope of continuing by uniting utility with beauty; that I must not therefore make fine manuscripts for the sake of making them, but rather in connection with my own work; also that I must form a natural hand that could be written quickly. These principles having been arrived at, I began to practise a little. It occurs to me that in this respect, if no other, I am in tune with Morris's 'Arts and Crafts' movement.
See also, 'Finishing Clayhanger' - June 23rd., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/finishing-clayhanger.html

Marguerite and I went for a short walk in the forest last night. The moon was nearly full and very bright. But the effect was disappointing. I have noticed this before. To be at its best moonlight wants to be seen over a large flat landscape or on water. There is very little in the tree-tracery business - silhouetted against the moon, etc.

Yesterday I walked along by the Seine again in the morning, and constructed the short story which is ordered for delivery by the end of the month. In the afternoon I seemed to do nothing but oddments of high unimportance.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Streets of London

Wednesday, July 22nd., Victoria Grove, Chelsea.

At 10 o'clock, Piccadilly pavements were loosely thronged with women in light summer attire - cool, energetic, merry, inquisitive, and having an air of being out for the day. Their restless eyes were on everything at once: on each other; on the great houses of Piccadilly decorated with bunting, where workmen were even then erecting stands and gaspipes curved into monogrammatic designs, and nailing festoons of gold fringe upon red cloth; on the patient vendors of elevated standing room behind the railings of the Green Park; on the mounted police who, disposed in companies, dismounted like automata at the word of command.

Happy, infantile faces, most of them had, faces expressive of a childish intention to enjoy; faces unmarked by thought and showing but slight traces of care; the faces of those to whom life is a simple orderly affair, presenting few problems. here and there was a family group - husband, wife and tall young girls with long loose hair. And how transparently naive these last! Essentially as untutored as the veriest village maid, and offering a sharp contrast to the men of business, young and old, who in cabs and omnibuses and on foot were wending to the city just as though this had been a common day! Judging from the ordinary occupants of the streets, one is apt to think of London as a city solely made up of the acute, the knowing, the worldly, the blase. But, hidden away behind sun-blinds in quiet squares and crescents, there dwells another vast population, seen in large numbers only at times such as this, an army of the Ignorantly Innocent, in whose sheltered seclusion a bus-ride is an event, and a day spent amongst the traffic of the West End an occasion long to be remembered.

At one o'clock, as I rode home on the omnibus, all the streets were so many seas of faces, so many gardens of hats. Most of the shop-windows and balconies were already occupied in anticipation of a spectacle yet two hours distant. And though hundreds of women sat contentedly on the pavements with their feet in the gutter, none looked fatigued or bored.

What an anachronism monarchy is! To think that in these modern times a head of state should be chosen by accident of birth rather than on merit by election seems incredible, but in addition there are all the associated hangers-on: sons, daughters, cousins, and all the privileged entourage. One would think that there would be crowds in the streets not to cheer but to protest this gross injustice, and yet ... It is interesting that the women seem more enthusiastic than the men, and perhaps this is because of a persistent fantasy of seeing themselves bejewelled and costumed, feted and adored, an eternal Cinderella-princess.

On 22 July 1896, Princess Maud married her first cousin, Prince Carl of Denmark, in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace. Prince Carl was the second son of Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark, Queen Alexandra's elder brother, and Princess Louise of Sweden. The bride's father, the Prince of Wales, gave her Appleton House on the Sandringham Estate as a country residence for her frequent visits to England. In June 1905 the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, dissolved Norway's 91 year old union with Sweden and voted to offer the throne to Prince Carl. Maud's membership of the British royal house had some part in why Carl was chosen. Following a plebiscite in November, Prince Carl accepted the Norwegian throne, taking the name of Haakon VII, while his young son took the name of Olav. King Haakon VII and Queen Maud were crowned at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 22 June 1906, that being the last coronation in Scandinavia.

Sunday, 21 July 2013


Wednesday, July 21st., Cadogan Square, London.

We went to the Ruth Draper matinee. A packed and putrid matinee audience at the Garrick, nearly all women. Laughing in all the wrong places - giggling, whispering. Tea-drinking. Ruth is very clever. She is a wonderful imitator, but not much of a creator. Some things however, such as the Englishwoman showing her garden were splendidly cruel. Others feeble and formless. The observation seems to be exact but superficial. She is highly skilled and looks nice.

Ruth Draper (1884 -1956), American monologuist and monodramatist whose art was acclaimed throughout the United States and Europe. Draper was of a well-to-do family. Her career grew from a habit of writing sketches about persons she knew or had observed and performing them at parties. In 1911 she began performing professionally at clubs and schools. In 1917 Draper made her New York debut as a monologuist in a programme of one-act pieces, all of which were failures except for the one she had written entitled The Actress. She thereafter performed only her own material. Her London debut in 1920 in a bill of her own works was a great success and established her as the pre-eminent practitioner of her art. Draper’s monologues and monodramas were delicately crafted works that revealed a deep understanding of human character, which she conveyed with great skill and deft suggestion. She used a minimum of stage props, no scenery, and little in the way of costume change, yet she could people the stage at will. Her repertory eventually grew to 39 pieces with such titles as Three Generations at a Court of Domestic Relations, At an English House Party, The Miner’s Wife, A French Dressmaker, Opening a Bazaar, In County Kerry, The Italian Lesson, At an Art Exhibition, and Vive La France. In them she conjured up some 58 principal characters, endowing each with full individuality. A command of languages and dialects played a large part in her characterizations as well. 

I am still reading "Sous le Soleil de Satan". It is definitely not good, but I mean with Gods' help to finish it. Unintentional irony there, as the devil is a character in the book which has caused a stir in France.

"Under Satan's Sun", by Georges Bernanos is a powerful account of intense spiritual struggle that reflects the author's deeply-felt religion. The work develops a theme that persistently inspired Bernanos: the existence of evil as a spiritual force and its dramatic role in human destiny. This haunting novel follows the fortunes of a young, gauche, and fervent Catholic priest who is a misfit in the world and in his church, creating scandal and disharmony wherever he turns. His insight into the inner lives of others and his perception of the workings of Satan in the everyday are gifts that fatefully come into play in the priest's chance encounter with a young murderess, whose life and emotions he can see with a dreadful clarity, and whose destiny inexorably becomes entangled with his own. A film based on the novel won the Palme d'Or prize at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Holiday reading

Wednesday, July 20th., Cadogan Square, London.

A journalist of the first importance, and of mature years, said to me the other day that when he went for a holiday he usually took with him novels that he had read before, and read them again. He mentioned no titles but I believe that he confined himself to English novels. The remark made me realise how heterodox I am in these grave matters. I can read certain English poems over again, but if I went away with only English novels I should feel that I was terribly cut off from the great world. In the frightful, but fortunately rare, ordeal of a holiday I insist on having foreign novels as an aid to keeping my reason.

By way of a holiday today, I wrote two Evening Standard articles, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. I went for three walks, and my weight in the evening was less than it can have been for many years. 10 st. 9 lb. 13 oz.

Yesterday I finished "The Accident" at about 6.30 p.m. I didn't care much for the last 300 words. Total length 67,300 words. I felt gloomy as usual when I had finished it.

Occasionally a character in a novel (invariably a man) is described as being 'struck dumb' by beauty. I had thought this to be a specimen of artistic licence, until today. I was in a pharmacy during one of my walks, waiting my turn in a small queue, not really paying attention, thinking about other things. Then I heard a soft voice ask: "Can I help you at all?" I looked up to find myself gazing directly, at a distance of two or three feet, into the large, dark, liquid eyes of a beautiful young woman, serving at the counter. I could not find a voice with which to respond and stood, no doubt looking vacant and stupid, for what seemed an age, until my senses were somewhat restored, and I mumbled a reply. How to account for this phenomenon? There is no thought involved, no mediation from experience; the response is automatic, immediate and total; a reflex of the nervous system as independent of control as is a knee-jerk. On more considered inspection, she was indeed a beautiful young woman but I was able to recover sufficient self-possession to complete my transaction and leave the pharmacy with some approach to dignity.

Friday, 19 July 2013

French colour

Friday, July 19th., Les Sablons, Fontainebleau.

I only noticed yesterday that the mark of the aged female peasant in this village is a cap (I suppose it would be called a mob-cap - but I don't know what a mob-cap is at all), which is drawn very tightly over the head, very tightly indeed. It is apparently formed out of a cotton handkerchief, for there are the ends of bows to be seen at the top-back of the head and also below. These aged creatures are almost without exception deformed, chiefly by vast deposits of fat. They wear very short skirts (always some shade of blue, much washed out); and, like the majority of peasant women of no matter what age in this district, they have exceedingly unpleasant voices.

But an even more extraordinary specimen of the sex passed along the high road last night while we were dining. This was an old woman harnessed to a small cart containing merchandise that I could not distinguish. On either side of the old woman was harnessed a dog about as big as a pointer. An old man stalked majestically behind at a distance of several yards, carrying a very long staff, and uttering at regular intervals a mournful cry of a few syllables which doubtless referred to his wares. The woman was, in the accepted phrase, 'little more than a brute', and there was no doubt about, no concealment of it. They did not belong to the district. Probably they toured like that through a whole department, or several departments, and as Madame Bergeret suggested, might be in easy circumstances.

Talking about eating, Madame Bergeret said that in the Midi (neighbourhood of Toulouse especially) there used to be men who prided themselves on enormous powers of eating. They did not usually eat a great deal, but on occasions, when put to it, they would perform terrible feats such as consuming a whole turkey. The result sometimes was that they were very ill. The method of curing them was to dig a hole in the muck-heap, strip the sufferer naked, put him in the hole, and pack him tightly with manure up to his neck. The people who did this did it with gusto, telling the sufferer what an odious glutton he was. The heat generated promoted digestion in a manner almost miraculous, and next day the sufferer was perfectly restored.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

A matter of loyalty

Thursday, July 18th., Royal Thames Yacht Club, London.

Minute from the War Cabinet yesterday censuring me for my most successful pro-France article in the Observer on Sunday. It had been used on Monday by Daily Mail as an axe to hit the government with about 'baleful secrecy'. Lord B. was furious, and asked me to write a pungent letter in reply, which he signed. By evening Ll. G. had apologised and promised to have a new minute of the Cabinet prepared.

While all this is going on I have more trouble to contend with from my wife. She resents my 'other' life in London and fails to understand that I have an immense amount of work to do and considerable responsibility. Hence she contrives problems to gain my attention. For example, she has conceived a thorough dislike for our gardener Lockyer and is manoeuvring to have him replaced: what a time to become preoccupied with such trivia! I have written to her as follows:

Two of our gardeners have already died in the war defending us. Lockyer is now going into the army. It would not have been difficult for me to keep him out of the army. But I didn't want to keep him out and he didn't want to be kept out. He is quite as patriotic as either you or me. He is under 45 and a Grade 1 man, and he will almost certainly go out to the front where he will risk his life defending us. If he is not killed he will come back. I have already told him, of course, that the situation will be kept for him, and by God I will keep my word whatever the consequences are. Make no mistake. There would never have been any question of his leaving the situation if he had not to go into the army. Well, he goes into the army, he leaves his home and his family, he risks his life, and according to you his reward is to be that I shall say to him: "Of course you can't come back. The recompense of doing your duty is that you will lose your situation, and you will have to leave your house, and the village where you have lived so many years." (For there is no other situation that would do for him in Thorpe.) Am I going to say this to him? I am not! I have said to Lockyer as I have said to every man who has left us to go into the army: "The place will be open to you whenever you want to return." It is a little enough thing.

I am not going to commit an infamy. And if you understood me as you say you do,if you realised the depth of my feeling on such matters, you would never suggest such a monstrous thing. I never interfere with you in the house, and I beg you not to interfere with me in the garden. I have found a woman-gardener solely to please you; but the situation is going to be kept open for Lockyer, if he lives. You have no right whatever to say to me: "I am - not - going to have - Lockyer - back." I warn you in the most solemn way that there will be the most serious trouble if you reopen this question.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Adrift in Austria

Friday, July 17th., Salzburg.

I did no actual writing of my novel, and damned little thinking about it. I just lay about and re-read Hardy's "The Trumpet Major". I wanted to see if my poor impression of this work, from my first reading, was sustained on a re-visit. It was. Occasionally it contains a line of description, or a section of dialogue, that is worthy of the great man but overall it is lightweight and uninteresting. Of course it would never have been published had it not Hardy's name attached, but I suppose the same could be said of some of my lesser works!

I went out and bought some cigars. About 4.30 went up to Hoher Salzburg. A very Margate-ish crowd; indeed the same sort of crowds everywhere. They stream into the town daily. Coming home, I met Kommer; or rather he stopped me and offered me a piece of paper. For a second I didn't know him. He had inquired at all the hotels for me (including this one) without success. He had then gone to the police, who informed him at once that E.A.B. was staying at the Oesterreichischer, and gave him a bit of paper to that effect; this was the paper he was exhibiting to me in the street.

Kommer told us that when he was producing "The Miracle" in Cleveland (staggering success) he could never get any eatable food there. He said that when he and Diana Cooper dined at the house of the richest millionaire in Cleveland, the ices were actually bought at a store - not made in the house. He said that the modesty of Asquith's country house "The Wharfe" was one of the things that struck him most. Said it couldn't happen anywhere else. Asquith had been PM for eight years. He said that in any other country a man who had been PM for eight months would retire rich.

He said he was now working on the German version of  "The Great Adventure" and that Reinhardt would do it in both Berlin and Vienna. Probably some delay as there was a great row between German managers and German stars. The managers had decided that no star should get more than £15 a night and the stars had struck. He said that the actor who took Ilam Carve made as much as £100 a night because he took 25% of the receipts. When I told him the plot of my "Flora", he said it was a sign of a wholesome public that such a plot, so simple, should be certain to arouse protest. He said that in Berlin, if you wanted to make a scandal in a theatre, you had to have a mother committing incest with two sons; one wasn't enough.

Rudolf K. Kommer (1886 in Chernivtsi - 1943 in Manhattan ) was a journalist and impresario , a long time associate of Max Reinhardt. Dr Rudolf Kommer, was the right hand man of the theatre producer Max Reinhardt, in whose production of "The Miracle" Diana Cooper, Duff's wife, starred for ten years between 1924-33.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Home from the Front

Friday, July 16th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

I returned home from the Front yesterday, after two nights in London at the Savoy. By the evening I had dealt with all the arrears.

The Strand people are obstinate in their objection to "The Lion's Share". On the other hand the Metropolitan (New York) are delighted with the work, and openly say so. The Strand object on the ground that the novel contains suffragette scenes. They held a meeting of directors and solemnly decided that the Strand could not print a suffragette serial. They do not want to offend either suffragettes or anti-suffragettes. I thought I had reassured them, but apparently not.

Considerable movement of troops round about here. Towns being apparently fortified, etc. general coming down from London to confabulate with Brig.-Gen. Hoare on the spot. A current belief that the War Office expects a raid from the German Fleet. I don't think the War Office does. If it does, why does it let the Somersets go a whole year without firing a single shot of any kind in practice?

Monday, 15 July 2013

Busy in Salzburg

Wednesday, July 15th., Salzburg.

Saturday night we went to the Stadt Theatre, and saw a Viennese 'schnurre', a farce of military life. Couldn't understand it, but it seemed to be pretty well put together. The production was far far better than our average West End production. It was more naturalistic, less conventional, and more continuously alive. Some of the acting was very good.

The scenery around is wonderful. There must be about a dozen 10,000 ft. mountains in the region. But we soon tired of this imposing, picturesque scenery. It is as if it was done on purpose - some tour de force of a creator. Sunday was a fete day here - the fete of the fire brigades. They came from all around including adjacent Germany. The cafe-restaurants were full of firemen, in poor ill-fitting uniforms, at lunch. Procession very long. Full of engines and ladders, and one very old engine, and banners and bands. One brigade was headed by a girl in white; at least she seemed to be a girl; but she might have been the wife of the huge, framed, glittering man who was walking by her side. The affair had a certain medieval or renaissance quality, but lacked both vitality and efficiency. After it we drove in a little victoria to see the castle (Lustschloss) at Hellbrun, a few miles off, along a monotonous road, chiefly quite straight. This castle has lovely gardens; but the 'practical joke' quality of the fountain-work (designed to soak the king's guests by surprise) and the childishness of the working, water-driven models in the garden, gave you a sinister insight into the mind of a foolish king.

In 1612, only a few months after ascending the throne, Salzburg's Prince Archbishop Markus Sittikus von Hohenems commissioned a country residence to be built at the foot of the well-watered Hellbrunn Mountain. A lover of Italian art and culture, Markus Sittikus commissioned the famous Cathedral architect, Santino Solari, to design a "villa suburbana", a summer residence matching the elegance and spaciousness of the magnificent Italian architecture with which he was so obsessed. Within a relatively short period of time an architectural masterpiece was created just south of the city that remains one of the most magnificent Renaissance buildings north of the Alps: the Lustschloss ("pleasure palace") of Hellbrunn with its spacious park and its unique Wasserspiele (trick fountains). Water was the central theme in the palace's design. The numerous sources in Hellbrunn Mountain gave the estate effervescent life. Hidden in the shade of bushes and trees or jetting out from unexpected hiding places - the world-famous Wasserspiele have been the main attraction at Hellbrunn for almost 400 years.

Much work in mornings. I am reading Hamsun's "Segelfoss Town". It is not his best work but contains some very fine things indeed, and is never sentimental. I read some of Robert Bridges's poems again, including the one containing the line "The horses of the strong south west", which has remained in my mind for many years. It is a superb short poem.

Who has not walked upon the shore, 
And who does not the morning know, 
The day the angry gale is o'er, 
The hour the wind has ceased to blow? 

The horses of the strong south-west 
Are pastured round his tropic tent, 
Careless how long the ocean's breast 
Sob on and sigh for passion spent. 

The frightened birds, that fled inland 
To house in rock and tower and tree, 
Are gathering on the peaceful strand, 
To tempt again the sunny sea ; 

Whereon the timid ships steal out 
And laugh to find their foe asleep, 
That lately scattered them about, 
And drave them to the fold like sheep. 

The snow-white clouds he northward chased 
Break into phalanx, line, and band: 
All one way to the south they haste, 
The south, their pleasant fatherland. 

From distant hills their shadows creep, 
Arrive in turn and mount the lea, 
And flit across the downs, and leap 
Sheer off the cliff upon the sea ; 

And sail and sail far out of sight. 
But still I watch their fleecy trains, 
That piling all the south with light, 
Dapple in France the fertile plains.
Yesterday was what I call a full day, after a rotten night. I didn't get up till 8 o'clock; then breakfast; by 11.15 I had written 950 words of the novel. I then dressed and went out to recover, to reflect, and to find a new restaurant. We lunched at the new restaurant. Back to hotel to sleep, read and tea. Then by the giant lift to the Cafe-Wein Restaurant on the Monchberg; walked on the said berg for a long time (acutely picturesque). Then descended by the lift and to St. Peter's Keller for dinner; place crowded. Then to hotel for tickets for theatre, and to "The Blue Bird" (Russian troupe as in London) at Stadt Theatre. Some of it very good; a little of it magnificent.

The Mönchsberg, at 540 meters (1,770 ft) above sea level, is one of the five mountains in the city of SalzburgSalzburgerland, Austria. It is named after the Benedictine monks of St Peter's Abbey at the northern foot of the mountain. The Mönchsberg plateau offers a small-scale change of forests and meadows and therefore is a popular local recreation area for the Salzburg citizens and tourists.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A Parisian morning

Thursday morning, July 14th., Bastille Day, Rue de Calais, Paris.

Although I rested well last night, I heard the music of the fete each time I wakened, so at 4 a.m. I persuaded myself to get up and take a look at it. There was one roundabout going in the Place Blanche. Everything else was closed. A bright, hot morning. All the great restaurants de nuits were closed, but one cafe, the Coquet, next to the Cyrano, was open and had tables in the street. The stout lady in the cash-desk seemed just as usual. The 'place' was thick with serpentins. A few cabs waiting about, and a few idlers like myself. The women on the roundabout screamed just as they always do. They did not look very tired. There were four on one pig.

I then went towards the Opera. I saw that the footpaths were swept by women in blue - with magnificent carriage and figures. I suppose that is due to the magnificent gesture of the broom. On the Boulevard des Italiens, three of them abreast were sweeping the broad trottoir. It was  fine sight. At the Opera a large crowd for the matinee gratuite had already gathered - some hundreds; policemen to keep order.

This was the real people - dirty, stinking, brutal, importunate; the scum! nearly all men but just a few women. Some persons were lying asleep on the pavement. I noticed many other early morning items and fete day items: such as omnibuses passing, full of policemen in spotless white trousers; a cavalry officer in full splendour walking to his rendezvous; many people beginning the day's enjoyment on their way to railway stations etc.; the women dozing in the newspaper kiosks awaiting the morning papers; a youth walking along the middle of the road smoking a pipe a yard long; a drunken man trying to get up a fight with a barman concerning a small tricolour which he carried. Many bars were open. I returned home at 5.5 and wrote this at once.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Lunch at the Rainbow

Tuesday, July 13th., Victoria Grove, Chelsea.

I lunched at the Rainbow in Fleet Street, a type of City restaurant which is passing away. A large dark room, sombrely furnished in mahogany, and gaslighted, even in the sunshine of a hot July day. In the centre a table at which a stout carver in white cap, coat and apron, carves the saddle of mutton and the sirloin of beef - dishes which are never varied, and of which customers never seem to tire.her come lawyers and other hommes d'affaires of middle-age to whom luncheon is a serious meal, not to be ordered without minute instructions to the obsequious waiter. "Do you call this underdone?" a portly customer asks sharply. "Yes Sir." "Well I don't. Take it back." "Yes Sir." Here one drinks either stout from a tankard or some sound wine; but if one orders wine, one gives the waiter directions as to the temperature. It is de rigueur. The door leading into the Dining Room is labelled "Coffee Room", and there is a significant notice "Ladies Dining Room upstairs." Ladies are not willingly admitted to the ground floor, and those women, if any, who dare to pass that door labelled "Coffee Room" would be requested to leave, or at least pointed at as unwomanly. This is one of the last strongholds of the conservative male. Yet here we males respect ourselves; we have a regard for the decencies. "Gentlemen are requested not to smoke pipes in this establishment."

Friday, 12 July 2013

The destruction of Ypres

Monday, July 12th., Ypres.

When we drew near Ypres we met a civilian wagon laden with furniture of a lower middle-class house, and also with lengths of gilt picture-frame moulding. The noise of artillery persisted. As a fact the wagon was hurrying away with furniture and picture-frame mouldings under fire. It seemed odd - to an absurdly sensitive, non-Teutonic mind it seemed somehow to lack justice - that the picture framer, after having been ruined, must risk his life in order to snatch from the catastrophe the debris of his career.

I had not been in Ypres for nearly twenty years, and when I was last there the work of restoring the historic buildings of the city was not started. The restorations were just about finished in time for the opening of hostilities, and they give yet another proof of the German contention that Belgium, in conspiracy with Britain, had deliberately prepared for the war - and, indeed, wanted it!

As late as the third week in April this year the Grande Place was a regular scene of commerce, and on market days it was dotted with stalls upon which were offered for sale such frivolous things as postcards displaying the damage done to the railway-station quarter in November 1914. Then came the major bombardment which is not yet over.

A just idea of the effects of this bombardment may be obtained by adventuring into the Cathedral of St. Martin. In the centre of the Cathedral, where the transepts meet, is a vast heap of bricks, stone, and powdery dirt. It overspreads most of the immense interior.

The Cloth Hall was a more wonderful thing than the cathedral, which, after all, was no better than dozens of other cathedrals. There was only one Cloth Hall of the rank of this one. It is not easy to say whether or not the Cloth Hall still exists. Broken walls, a few bits of arched masonry and heaps of refuse alone indicate where the nearby Niewwerk and Town Hall stood in April last.

"I want to make a rough sketch of all this," I said to my companions in the middle of the Grande Place. The spectacle was indeed majestic in the extreme. My companions left me to myself. I sat down on the edge of a small shell-hole some distance in front of the Hospital which I had been informed might be in danger of collapse. The paved floor of the Place stretched out around me like a tremendous plain, seeming the vaster because my eyes were now so much nearer to the level of it. I was the only living thing in the Square. The loud sound of guns never ceased. I said to myself: "A shell might quite well fall here any moment." I was afraid. But I was less afraid of a shell than of the intense loneliness. Then I heard echoing sounds of voices and footsteps. two British soldiers appeared round a corner and passed slowly along the Square. I had a wish to accost them, but Englishmen do not do these things, even in Ypres. They glanced casually at me; I glanced casually at them, carefully pretending that the circumstances of my situation were entirely ordinary. I made the sketch simply because I had said that I would make it. As soon as it was done I jumped up out of the hole and walked about, peering down the streets for the reappearance of my friends.

When you are walking through that which was Ypres, nothing arouses a stronger feeling - half contempt, half anger - than the thought of the mean, miserable, silly, childish, and grotesque excuses which the wit of Germany has invented for her deliberately planned crime. Despite all vauntings, all facile chatterings about the alleged co-operation of an unknowable and awful God, all shriekings of unity and power, all bellowings about the perfect assurance of victory, all loud countings of the fruit of victory - the savage leaders of the deluded are shaking in their shoes before the anticipated sequel of an outrage ineffable alike in its barbarism and in its idiocy.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

In Brittany

Monday, July 11th., Brittany.

Yesterday was the first full day of my seaside holiday. It takes some time to get used to the great central fact that you have nothing to do that must be done.

It seems that the cures in Brittany forbid dancing, except at wedding feasts. Nevertheless in this village there is dancing in the shadow of the church every Sunday afternoon after vespers. We saw it yesterday afternoon. About 10 couples. The charcutiere danced with another girl. Heavy girls. One couple obviously in love. A drum and a brass instrument.

We cycled this morning to the ferry on the way to St. Pol. Beautiful country. There is only one road in and out of this village, and no turning out of it for 5 or 6 kilometres. This afternoon I was too idle to paint, so I did a pastel of the panorama towards St. Pol.

Of the three men here, one is a passementier, and another a commercial traveller, and the third a fabricant of something. They sit at a table and sing together. The luggage of one married pair arrived tonight, 36 hours late. The wife is of the odalisque sort, and she put on some more striking clothes at once. She lolls at her bedroom window for 30 to 60 minutes each morning. A beautiful young woman. Elle se cambre tout le temps. She would have made a good courtesane. Alcock says that she leaves a table at which an intellectual conversation is proceeding - about war or feminism for instance - with a gesture which says: "What has all this got to do with IT?"

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Meeting Miss Thomasson

Sunday, July 10th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

I went to tea at Miss Thomasson's on Saturday and met Hofbauer one of the most famous young painters in Paris today. A handsome, very blond man of about 30, and fully aware that he is handsome. Vain, and yet charmingly so, and not too much so. He spoke scarcely any English, and had better manners than most painters. Afterwards at the Cafe de Versailles, Kelly told me that he was inordinately and devilishly clever, but idle; also that his big picture in this year's Salon, 'Coin de Bataille', bought by the state, was painted quite without models.
See also, 'Gloomy in Paris' - June 27th., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/gloomy-in-paris.html

Charles Hoffbauer 1904 (photo) by Paul Dornac

Charles Hoffbauer (1875–1957)  was a prolific, French-born artist renowned for his historic murals and paintings, in addition to the impressionist New York City street scenes which brought him considerable success in America. In 1904 he exhibited "Coin de Bal" at the Salon d’Automne in Paris.

Later, Miss Thomasson and I went through the July Fair at Montmartre. We shot at a shooting gallery. The attendant girls were brightly dressed in new, pink fluffy frocks, uniformly. It seemed as if this detail signified the completion of the preparations for the fair. I have watched its development each day for a week - the gradual arrival of shapeless caravans, dirty men and draggled women; the erection of the baraques, the emergence of finery, luxurious detail. And last night everything was accomplished, and our guns were served to us by damsels in marvellous pink. We spent four and a half francs in ten minutes.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


Saturday, July 9th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

I went to the Bois yesterday afternoon and had tea at the Pavillon Royal. I was finding ideas for "Hugo", but a party of women came to the next table and ordered tea - well-dressed, mature, rusee - and stopped me. It is extraordinary how much more critical such women are than men. The garcon was agacant (I had not found him so); the tea was bad, the cakes were bad. But the women, by dint of not sparing the garcon, got the best that was to be got out of the place. And they gossiped all the time in their cold, pretty, rapid, hard tones. When I left the place was beginning to be full of such parties, with a few men here and there. Middle-aged women, well-dressed, had appointments to meet each other there. The day was torrid and superb. The lake glistened and the park-men were watering everywhere, so there was constantly the sight and sound of spurted water. A few motors dashed about, and many carriages. Everything characteristic of July and the end of the season. I walked slowly all the way home, stopping now and then to make notes of my ideas as they occurred to me. Before I went to bed I had finished "Hugo" in my head.

Speaking of 'Parisiennes', I took a turn through the Parc Monceau to the Etoile, and back through the Champs Elysees on Friday night between 9.30 and 11 in order to clear off a headache. Honest lovemaking in the Parc Monceau. In the Champs Elysees, I saw four girls aged 14 or less - one didn't seem more than 11 or 12 being taken about by older women for the excitement of senile appetites. Some day soon there will be a tremendous outcry concerning this procuring of children. The police will become suddenly active in arrests - and then things will settle down again.

There were many pretty and well-dressed women in the Champs Elysees sitting patiently on chairs under the trees awaiting some masculine advance. I was astonished how distinguished some of them were. It was a lovely night, warm and starlit. Paris at its most Parisian. The lights of the alfresco music-halls, and the occasional bursts of music and applause that came from them, produced an extraordinary effect.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Derailed at Mantes

Saturday, July 8th., Villa des Nefliers, Fontainebleau.

I began to write my little book on Xmas on Wednesday last. On Thursday I went to see the Wellses at Pont de l'Arche. I came back yesterday and found myself in a railway accident at Mantes, six wounded.

There had already been a breakdown in a tunnel. Officials said that a rotule of an attache had got broken. It was repaired and we jolted onwards at, I should say, about 30 or 35 kilometres an hour. Then, just after we passed Mantes station, there was a really terrific jolting. I knew after 4 or 5 jolts that one coach at any rate had let the metals.

I was in a sort of large Pullmanesque compartment at the back of a first-class coach, two or three coaches from the engine. The windows broke. The corridor door sailed into the compartment. My stick flew out of the rack. The table smashed itself. I clung hard to the arms of my seat, and fell against an armchair in front of me. There was a noise of splintering, and there were various other noises. An old woman lay on the floor crying. I wondered: "Shall I remain unharmed until the thing stops?" Immense tension of waiting for the final stoppage. Equilibrium at last and I was unhurt.

I couldn't get out at first. Then someone opened the door. I soothed the old woman. I took my eyeglasses off and put them in their case. I found my hat (under some debris) and my stick. My bag had remained in the rack. I left the train with my belongings but I had forgotten all about the book I was reading, "L'Eve Future". This book was all that I lost. Two wounded women were ahead lying out on the grass at the side of the track.

Up above, from street bordering the cutting, crowds of people were gazing curiously, as at a show. One woman asked if she could do anything, and someone said: "A doctor". I walked round to the other side of the train and a minor official asked me and others to go back. "Ce n'est pas pour vous commander, mais ..." We obeyed. Two coaches lay on their sides. One of them was unwheeled, and partly sticking in the ground. No sound came from an overturned 2nd class coach though there were people in it.

Presently some men began lifting helpless passengers onto cushions which had been laid on the ground. I had no desire of any sort to help. I argued incompassionately that it was the incompetent railway company's affair. I held my bag and stick and I looked around. I didn't want to see any more wounded nor to be any more impressione than I could help. My recollection of appearances quickly became vague. I remember the face of one wounded woman was all over coal dust. We had shaved a short goods train standing on the next line, and the tender of the train was against our coach. A young American said that it was sticking into our coach, but I don't think it was. He said that the front part of our coach was entirely telescoped, but it wasn't entirely telescoped. It was, however, all smashed up. My chief impression is of a total wreck brought about in a few seconds.

I walked off up line towards station and met various groups of employees running towards train. At last two came with a stretcher or ambulance. I passed out of the station into the place, and a collector feebly asked me for my ticket, which I didn't give. I went straight to a garage and demanded an auto for Paris. But all autos had been taken off to the scene of the accident. Having been promised one in due course, I waited some time and then had a wash and took tea. I couldn't help eating and drinking quickly. Then I was told that two Americans wanted an auto. I said that they might share the one promised to me. Agreed. At last my auto came. The price was 100 francs. A Frenchman came up who wanted to get to Paris quickly (he had not been in the accident), and I gave him a place for 20 francs making a mistake in thus dividing 100 by 4. This detail shows I really was upset under my superficial calmness. We went off at 5.30.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

In Arras

Wednesday, July 7th., Near Arras.

When you actually reach Arras you cannot be deceived for an instant as to what has happened to the place. The first street you see is a desolation, empty and sinister. Everywhere the damage of shells is visible. In the brief intervals of the deafening cannonade can be heard one sound - blinds and curtains fluttering against empty window frames. As we went further into the city we saw sights still stranger. Of one house nothing but the roof was left, the roof made a triumphal arch. All the streets were covered with powdered glass.

In one street we saw a postman in the regulation costume of the French postman, with the regulation black, shiny wallet-box hanging over his stomach, and the regulation pen behind his ear, smartly delivering letters from house to house. He did not knock at the doors; he just stuck the letters through the empty window frames. He was a truly remarkable sight.

Then we arrived by a curved street at the Cathedral of St. Vaast. It is the most majestic and striking ruin at the Front. It is superlatively well placed on an eminence by itself, and its dimensions are tremendous. It towers over the city.. The pale simplicity of its enormous lines and surfaces renders it better suited for the martyrdom of bombardment than any Gothic building could possibly be. Photographs and pictures of Arras Cathedral ought to be cherished by German commanders, for they have accomplished nothing more austerely picturesque, more idiotically sacrilegious, more exquisitely futile than their achievement here. And they are adding to it weekly.

To the right of the Town Hall, looking at it from the rear, we saw a curving double row of mounds of brick, stone and refuse. Understand, these had no resemblance to houses; they had no resemblance to anything whatever except mounds of brick, stone and refuse. The sight of them acutely tickled my curiosity. "What is this?" "It is the principal street in Arras." German gunnery has brought that street to an end past all resuscitation. It may be rebuilt - it will never be the same street.

Arras is not in Germany. It is in France. I mention this fact because it is notorious that Germany is engaged in a defensive war, and in a war for the upholding of the highest civilisation. The Germans came all the way across Belgium, and thus far into France, in order to defend themselves against attack. They defaced and destroyed all the beauties of Arras, and transformed it into a scene of desolation so that the highest civilisation might remain secure and their own hearths intact. Having seen Arras, I would honestly give a year's income to see Cologne in the same condition. And to the end of my life I shall feel cheated if Cologne or some similar German town is not in fact ultimately reduced to the same condition. This state of mind comes of seeing things with your own eyes.

The defence of German soil is a mighty and far-reaching affair!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Fellow travellers

Friday, July 6th., Charlton Arms, Ludlow.

I came to Ludlow today. Fat female aristocrat in train. Dust cloak. Flower outside it. Jewel to fasten it. Many rings. Manicured. Queen, Tatler. Ethel M. Dell's latest novel. 3 cushions in a decided leather 'envelope'. Elaborate lunch basket. Greedy. When ticket collectors came, she referred them, with an apprehensive gesture, to her maid, lest she might be bothered. Two of them knew of her maid. The third said roughly: "I suppose your maid has your ticket?" Her fear about being worried about anything was obvious. At Shrewsbury she held 'envelope' whilst maid put cushions into it. Maid got her out of train and transferred her to Ludlow train. There was another and older and worse woman, with an aged maid in the same compartment. very hard. She was met by a companion sort of girl at Birmingham.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Mundane matters

Friday, July 5th., Yacht Club, London.

Eleventh anniversary of our wedding yesterday. We dined at the Cafe Royal.

Raymond Needham came and lunched with me at Yacht Club, and told me much about Lord Beaverbrook and much as to his own private affairs.

"Right Ho Jeeves" by P.G. Wodehouse was dedicated "To Raymond Needham K.C. with affection and admiration"; Needham was a barrister who successfully defended Wodehouse in a tax case brought by the Inland Revenue.

On Wednesday night Eadie came to the flat and read two acts of "The Title" very well. The first act, though, I thought, consistently good, seemed a hell of a length.

Dennis Eadie (1869–1928) was a British stage actor who also appeared in three films during the silent era. Eadie was a leading actor of the British theatre, appearing in plays by Edward Knoblauch and Louis N. Parker. In 1916 he became the first man to play the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in a feature film.

I lost my food card.

Thursday, 4 July 2013


Sunday, July 4th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Edgar Selwyn has been here for the weekend. Edgar gave me some good tips about screen-writing. He said: "You haven't got to write for London, you have to write for Thorpe." I added to this and said: "You have to write for a Thorpe man who can't hear and who can only read simple words." I see that any projected revolution in the film can only be done gradually.

Edgar told me that the rents of N.Y. theatres ran from 40 to 70 thousand dollars p.a., and that the Morosco was $45,000. I already knew how much the Morosco holds. It held $16,000 a week for "Sacred and Profane Love". Edgar read two acts of "The Bright Island" while he was here and I doubt if he saw anything in it at all. He said that political plays always failed in U.S.A., and that you could not interest the U.S.A. people even in politics themselves, to say nothing of plays about politics. I don't believe either of these statements.

Speaking of the labour question in U.S.A., Edgar said that for the big Labour meetings the streets were always choked with cars - and not Fords either. It is obvious of course that if there are 12 million cars in use in U.S.A. a vast number of working men must possess cars. It means one to less than every nine of the total population, men, women and children.

See also, 'Sailing for home' - November 30th., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/sailing-for-home.html

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Bibliophile's delight.

Monday, July 3rd., Fulham Park Gardens, London.

The Academy sent me the MS. of an article by Elizabeth Robins on Ibsen, to which I am to write a companion article. I was struck by the lack of "literari-ness" which the MS. disclosed: large, slow calligraphy, uncertainty in spelling and punctuation, and a hundred little things which mark the beginner. Yet she has written several books, one of them quite first rate and notable.

I have bought the hundred books which Bells allows you to select from the six hundred volumes of Bohn's Libraries. They stand in a long beautiful row, houseless on the top of my shelves. Arriving late last night from Witley, eager to view them - they had been delivered in my absence - I cut several of them and looked through Juvenal, Suetonius, and da Vinci. I found that the celebrated and marvellous passage in Beaumont and Fletcher's "Philaster", about marrying "a mountain girl", in which occur lines

                                                        And bear at her big breasts
                                                        My large coarse issue

must certainly be based on a passage in Juvenal's Sixth Satire.

Today I began to read "Benvenuto Cellini". He seems to have been less absolutely reprobate than I had imagined. The mark of the truly great man is on every page. I was enchanted with a phrase attributed to Benvenuto's father. Benvenuto was in trouble with the magistrates, and his father was defending him with moral support. "My father, in answer to these menaces, said, 'You will do what God permits you and nothing more.' The magistrate replied that nothing could be more certain than that God had thus ordered matters. My father then said boldly to him, 'My comfort is that you are a stranger to the decrees of providence!' "

What strikes me regarding the book technically, is its literary naivety and lack of art. It must have been written without any prearranged plan, currente calamo. Evidently much of primary interest has been left out - some by design but more by accident.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Feeling better

Saturday, July 2nd., Cadogan Square, London.

I wrote 400 words of "Accident" before going out; then forty minutes' activity in the streets of London; then another 300 words. Then lunch with Dorothy. Then a sleep - not deep or reposeful. Then another 400 words, finishing another chapter.

I was then in a state of nerves. But having the scheme of the prefatory note which Bertie Sullivan and Newman Flower  desired me to write for their biography of Arthur Sullivan, I decided to write it at once, and I did so, getting it off my chest. 400 words.

Sprightly. I then went out for a walk in the fair but unsatisfactory weather. Returned by bus. Dined alone with Dorothy. We played the greater part of Schubert's Octet - pianoforte 4 mains. Great noise and fun, which did me much good, for I had been depressed.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Inexcusably late

Friday, July 1st., Cadogan Square, London.

Appointment for 6 o'clock with Edward Newton, the American bibliophile, apropos of a suggested introduction by him to the reproduced MS. of "The Old Wives' Tale". I was 25 minutes late. A shameful position and inexcusable. Newton and I agreed that a preface by him seemed neither practical nor useful, and we gave up the idea, especially as I had already written an introduction myself and the sheets were already printed and signed by me.

Alfred Edward Newton (1864—1940) was an American author, publisher, and avid book collector. He is best known for his book "Amenities of Book Collecting" (1918) which sold over 25,000 copies. At the time of his death, it was estimated that he had approximately 10,000 books in his collection, focusing on English and American literary works, the major part of which were auctioned by Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York in April, May, and October 1941. Highlights of the sale included the autograph manuscripts of Thomas Hardy's novel "Far From the Madding Crowd" and Charles Lamb's essay "Dream Children".

Dined at home with Dorothy and we went to Playroom Six, 6 New Compton Street, to see d'Annunzio's "The Honeysuckle". The play had form, interest, and power in a voluptuous way, but the performance was simply terrible. The theatre only holds about 100 people. It has a nice atmosphere, and the bar, etc., is sympathique, especially the gas ring lodged on a chair.

The Players'Theatre was a London theatre club that opened in 1927 as Playroom Six at No. 6, New Compton Street, with the aim of presenting a wide range of entertainment.However, in 1936 it moved into the former Evans's Supper Room (also known as Evans's (late Joy's)) in Covent Garden and soon began to concentrate on recreating the type of music hall entertainment originally seen on these premises.