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It's better than a bat in the eye with a burnt stick!

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.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Russians are coming!

Monday, August 31st., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Rickards and I met H. in the street. Jaunty but gloomy. He said there was only one thing 'to save this country' - vastly increased recruiting. When I said that soldiers could be had quite easily if we would pay fairly for them, he at once said: "Bounty? Yes, the U.S.A. paid a bounty of £20." The usual charitable idea, not a proper salary. he said it was the middle classes that shirked, not the lower and not the upper. It did not seem to occur to him that the whole organisation of the army was such as to keep the middle-classes out of it - save as privates.

On the outbreak of war in August 1914, Britain had 247,432 regular troops. About 120,000 of these were in theBritish Expeditionary Army and the rest were stationed abroad. It was clear that more soldiers would be needed to defeat the German Army. On 7th August, 1914, Lord Kitchener, the war minister, immediately began a recruiting campaign by calling for men aged between 19 and 30 to join the British Army. At first this was very successful with an average of 33,000 men joining every day. Three weeks later Kitchener raised the recruiting age to 35 and by the middle of September over 500,000 men had volunteered their services.

Our young women, and Marguerite paid another visit to another camp yesterday. Officers wire appointments here, etc. They call here in motors to make appointments. Good news yesterday as to moving of German troops from Western frontier. the bill came for the British stand, between 5,000 and 6,000 losses, but the news that they were thoroughly reinforced was good. the girls came home with a positive statement from the camp that 160,000 Russians were being landed in Britain, to be taken to France. The Colonel had brought the news from Colchester.

The statement was so positive that at first I almost believed it. But after an hour I grew quite sceptical. Only the Archangel route could have been used. Think of the number of ships and the amount of convoying necessary. In the end I dismissed it, and yet could not help hoping ... Rumours in village as to it also. Debarkation said variously to take place at Harwich and in Scotland, etc. Numbers went up to 400,000. The most curious embroidery on this rumour was from Mrs. A.W., who told Mrs. W. that the Russians were coming via us to France, where they would turn treacherous to France and join Germans in taking Paris. "We should not trust the Russians." This rumour I think took the cake. yet Mrs, Sharpe asked me seriously whether there was any fear of such a thing.

At the start of the war the only means for the public to obtain news other than through personal contact with soldiers was through newspapers, magazines and letters from the front. This was often several days out of date, and content was strictly controlled by the authorities (reporters were not allowed near the front and generally had to rely on information provided by the army; censors controlled the content of soldiers letters). As a result there was a huge appetite for information, and rumours spread wildly by word of mouth. People eagerly repeated the most unlikely stories as fact. A well-documented example happened in August/September 1914 when a rumour swept Britain that thousands of Russian soldiers “with snow on their boots” had been seen travelling through England by rail to the Channel ports. These were supposed to be Russian reinforcements hurrying to support Allied troops on the Western front. The detail of “snow on their boots” is presumably used to add vermisilitude to the idea that these are soldiers from snowy Russia. The fact that it is plainly absurd to believe that snow could remain on the boots of a soldier who had travelled all the way from Russia to England in August did not impede the spread of the rumour. The German spy Carl Lody passed the information on to the German High Command. It has been claimed that this was part of the reason that the Germans moved two divisions to guard the Belgian coast in 1914. The two Divisions that were moved might otherwise have been present at the battle of the Marne, and their presence there could have influenced the outcome of this vital battle. There was no truth in the rumour, though it was widely believed for a short time in Britain and beyond.

Friday, 30 August 2013

On the Ridgeway

Thursday, August 30th., Weymouth, Dorset.

This town is proud of its history as a royal 'watering place', and King George's bathing machine can still be see on the promenade. Amusing to think of a band striking up "God save the King" as George emerged (not quite like Neptune) from the waves. In fact the bay is excellent for bathing and is quite separate from the busy and picturesque little port. The sweep of hotels on the promenade is impressive but their pretensions rather exceed the status of their current clientele. The town is in fact somewhat in decline from its former glory.

Walking on the ancient Ridgeway track yesterday. Warm and sunny. Excellent views out to sea. Even the lighthouse at the tip of Portland could be seen quite clearly. Evidence of ancient occupation everywhere: mounds, tumuli, ditches, barrows, the track itself. One felt that at any moment an ancient Briton might spring from the ground. Inland, the ramparts of Maiden Castle which I also visited, clearly visible. How on earth was such a tremendous construction achieved by stone age people without metal tools? Presumably using bone picks as their main implement. It is immense and intimidating, enigmatic and evocative.

There is a monument to Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy (of Trafalgar fame), who lived nearby, on the Ridgeway. It was constructed in 1844 and is recently restored. The Admiral is of course a minor character in Thomas Hardy's (the author) "The Trumpet Major". I believe there was some family connection between them.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Dublin people

Friday, August 29th., Dublin.

Hired a taxi for 3 hours and went with O'Connor and Bodkin to search quays in the pouring cold rain. I bought four pictures, two lacquer tables and 3 fine Victorian vases. I went to bed at 5 p.m. and got up at 7 to go to Bodkin's. Good dinner. Goodish talking. Especially from old Miss Purser who had known Marie Bashkirtseff intimately and now, at 75, owns a stained glass factory in Dublin and bosses it herself. 

Sarah Purser (1848 - 1943) was an Irish artist. She was born in Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) in County Dublin, and educated in Switzerland and afterwards studied at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin and in Paris. She worked mostly as a portraitist but was also associated with the stained glass movement, founding a stained glass workshop, An Túr Gloine, in 1903. Some of her stained glass work was commissioned from as far as New York. Through her talent and energy, and owing to her friendship with the Gore-Booths, she was very successful in obtaining commissions, famously commenting"I went through the British aristocracy like the measles." Sarah Purser became wealthy through astute investments, particularly in Guinness. She was very active in the art world in Dublin and in 1923 she became the first female member of the Royal Hibernian Academy.

For O'Connor, see also, 'Understanding Einstein' - March 29th., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/understanding-einstein.html

Bodkin is acquiring fine pictures for songs. Fancy getting a Diaz in Belfast for a song. He has a magnificent Bloemart, and a Domenico Feti. And he knows a deuce of a lot. He saved me from buying an alleged oil painting in the style of Poussin by suspecting that it was merely painted on an engraving. The dealer who was quite honest took the backing to pieces and we all examined it, and it was painted on an engraving. Last night's was a mixed dinner - I really believe the first I have been to in Dublin.

Professor Thomas Patrick Bodkin (1887 – 1961) was an Irish lawyer, art historian, art collector and curator. Bodkin was born in Dublin, and graduated from the Royal University of Ireland in 1908. He practiced law from 1911 until 1916 while collecting art privately. Bodkin left the legal profession in 1916 to become a Governor of the National Gallery of Ireland, being appointed Director in 1927. He also served in 1926 on the committee that commissioned the design of the new coinage of the Republic of IrelandBodkin was founding Director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham from 1935 until 1952, where he acquired the nucleus of the collection described by The Observer as "the last great art collection of the twentieth century". 

We had a tremendous day today. Journalism & politics in the morning. Race course in the afternoon. Theatre (Irish plays) at night. The Irish race course is very Parisian in appearance, & there are heaps of well-known English people in the train of the Viceroy. Nevertheless the big officials are always followed about and protected by detectives. The English still hold Ireland only by force of arms, & beneath all the gaiety, luxury, honest justice, order, etc. there is always this feeling. 

See also, 'Lady jumpers' - August 27th., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/lady-jumpers.html

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Inspiration in Moscow

Wednesday, August 28th., R.M.S.P. Arcadian, Hamburg.

I went to the opera whilst in Moscow with Max, and saw an act of a most tedious ballet, alleged to be modern, but in which I could perceive nothing but a futile spirit of reaction. 

My new novel, which I have been on the edge of commencing for a year past, without having commenced it, was worrying me into a fever of apprehension. My whole future seemed, and seems, to depend on the quality of that novel. I had the idea for it years ago. I saw the thing vague, but magnificent, tremendous, the greatest novel that ever was or could be written by anybody. Then I lost it. I mean I lost the creative mood for it and couldn't regain that mood. Then, later, I began to see the thing afresh. I pieced two plots together and made one. I saw the chief characters and the chief incidents, and the climax. The trouble was, I still could not regain the creative mood for that particular book. I saw, but didn't feel. Everything was there except the breath of emotional life. The spectacle of the ballet extinguished in my inefficient noddle the last glimmer of hope.

The next item on the programme was an Act of Rimsky-Korsakoff's opera "Sadko". I'd never seen "Sadko", and I doubt if I had met anyone who had seen it. Anyhow, I knew Rimsky-Korsakoff was not a really first rate composer, only an agreeable melodist and a terrific swell at orchestration. I expected little from "Sadko". But I had a surprise. The music was so close to being first rate that I was unable to tell the difference, and the performance was marvellously fine. Something of the old autocracy had survived into the Soviet autocracy. before the Act was half over, my novel was coming back to me in quite the grand manner. I could listen to the opera and think about the novel simultaneously. I felt the creative permeating me and enveloping me. At the end I applauded with the enthusiasm of a youth. "Sadko" was my salvation. I said to myself joyously: "Well, I haven't come to Moscow for nothing."

Sadko is an opera in seven scenes by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The libretto was written by the composer, with assistance from Vladimir Belsky, Vladimir Stasov, and others. Rimsky-Korsakov was first inspired by the bylina of Sadko in 1867, when he completed a tone poem on the subject, his Op. 5. After finishing his second revision of this work in 1892, he decided to turn it into a dramatic work. The musically unrelated opera was completed in 1896. The music is highly evocative, and Rimsky-Korsakov's famed powers of orchestration are abundantly in evidence throughout the score. According to the Soviet critic Boris Asafyev, writing in 1922, Sadko constitutes the summit of Rimsky-Korsakov's craft.

And as soon as I was outside the theatre I knew I had got hold of the affair, because everything that caught my attention related itself to the novel, gave me fresh notions for the novel. Which is a sure sign to the artist that god's in his heaven. I have often been through a similar experience, but perhaps never quite so dramatically and suddenly. A novel in process of creation has to be lifted up. It may have to be lifted up again and again. The large mood for it has to be recaptured again and again. To work this miracle there is nothing as efficacious as the sight or hearing of a great work of art - any art. Many times have I gone into the National Gallery, or to a fine concert, not primarily to see pictures or hear music, but to recover the right mood. An artist engaged on a work ought never to read or see or hear second class stuff. If he does he realises the resemblances between his work and the second class; and is discouraged. Whereas if he sticks to first class stuff, he realises the resemblances between his work and it, and is enheartened thereby. I've felt this a thousand times, and said it a hundred times, and perhaps I've written it ten times. But it can't be repeated too much.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Rural matters

Thursday, August 27th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Talk with old farmer down Golden Lane this morning. Said he was 78 ('but I'm done for'), and had farmed there for 50 years. He said that he had often been to Brussels as cattle-dealer. What surprised him there was that people kept pigs in cellars under their houses. He said he didn't know my opinion, but he thought Germany was short of money and couldn't last. Then he said: "Now tell me Mr. Bennett, is it true they are a-killing women and children?" 

He said that the harvest was very good and that at a certain farm they had got 20 sacks of wheat to the acre. Many farms, he said, got only 3,4, or 5. One of his larger fields was being used for cavalry (or perhaps field artillery) manoeuvres. I asked him whether he charged the government anything for the field. he said, "No. They've got enough to pay for." Lastly he suggested to me 'a matter of business' - "I know you're a business-man Mr. Bennett. I can see it in yer face." To wit that I should have my mare covered by a piebald pony that he knew. He said that I could work her up to the day she foaled, and begin again a week afterwards.

Additionally for August 27th., see 'Lady jumpers' - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/lady-jumpers.html

Monday, 26 August 2013

A busy day

Thursday, August 26th., Cadogan Square, London.

At 11a.m. I bussed and walked up to Charing Cross Road and bought "Lamiel", a novel by Stendhal that I had never seen and couldn't remember ever having heard of; also Vollard's little book on Cezanne, which is very interesting; also a selection of the writings of Charles Maurras; also an Ital. - English - Ital. dictionary. I saw the Eng. - Ital. Dict. Hoare's 2 guineas, but it is quarto and far too big to travel with. Then I came home again, somewhat sated, and had lunch with Dorothy. Then I bussed and walked to Hammersmith for the Lyric Board meeting, where I was told that the author of "Tommy, make room for your uncle", composed in 1876, had come into the theatre to hear his own song sung, and was pleased with the performance thereof. Such is life.

 Weston's Music Hall's early and most influential years were presided over by an exacting chairman and master of ceremonies, W. B. Fair, famous for the song Tommy, Make Room for Your Uncle. He chose the acts, warmed the audience up for each succeeding performance, and encouraged them at all times to interact with the performers throughout the evening. Fair was thus responsible for introducing to the London stage some of the most famous music hall acts, including Bessie Bellwood and JH Stead.

Noel Coward and Molly Seton Kerr came to dinner. I was once again very pleased with Coward. I think he will come through in one way or another. He is a serious young man with a sense of humour. He would have nothing to drink at all, except water. And he left early - 10.35 - because he had an early rehearsal tomorrow. imagine it!
See also, 'A lazy day afloat and ashore' - September 6th.,  http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/a-lazy-day-afloat-and-ashore.html

I read about half of Vollard on Cezanne, and I began to read "Lamiel".

Additionally for August 26th., see 'Bicycling in France' - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/monday-august-26th.html

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Author and statesman

Thursday, August 25th., Royal Victoria Hotel, St. Leonards.

Dorothy went to Winchelsea by bus. I walked on the front westwards and watched bowls and thought of the plot of my next story "Under the Hammer", for about an hour and a half.

I finished reading "Coningsby" on Tuesday. It is a sad welter. No construction. Very little cohesion. Too much eloquence. But there are good things in it. It is very rich and varied. The big interview between Monmouth and his grandson Coningsby towards the end, written in a very inflated style, is excellent in force and effectiveness - the convention of it being once granted. Much of the political criticism is good, and much of it very epigrammatic and amusing.

Coningsby, or The New Generation, is an English political novel by Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, published in 1844. It is rumoured to be based on Nathan Mayer Rothschild. The book is set against a background of the real political events of the 1830s in England that followed the enactment of the Reform Bill of 1832. In describing these events Disraeli sets out his own beliefs including his opposition to Robert Peel, his dislike of both the British Whig Party and the ideals of Utilitarianism, and the need for social justice in a newly industrialized society. He portrays the self-serving politician in the character of Rigby (based on John Wilson Croker) and the malicious party insiders in the characters of Taper and Tadpole.

There is a small but influential cult for Lord Beaconsfield. The rites of the cult are performed in private; but I have assisted at them - without actual initiation. I like Beaconsfield because he was such a grandiose adventurer, not merely in politics but with the pen. As a boy I took the sketches in Ixion for matchless satire. I have read most of the mature novels. The trouble with Beaconsfield as an artist is that he was a statesman who diverted himself with fiction instead of being a novelist who diverted himself with politics. He created an empress but I doubt if he created anybody else.

A fellow of terrific energy, variety, shameless flatteries, and bluff, he composed novels as he might have composed symphonies had the idea occurred to him. He revelled in his own gifts. Too often, as you read, you are inclined to complain: "This Oriental artificer is not writing a novel, he is just larking around." The animadversion would be just.

His best things are his worst: glorious fustian such as the descriptions de luxe in "Lothair". Every few pages he gets drunk, wonders where the devil he is, and pulls himself together like a gentleman. Withal, he had moral passions and political vision, together with an informed sympathy for the underdog. The sermons implied or direct in his novels are sound enough. None of his books is consistently good, and none consistently bad. I think that "Lothair" and "Sybil" are the most satisfactory to read in. Among the best is "Endymion": perhaps that was why it failed.
Also see 'Heavyweight literature' - December 8th., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/thursday-december-8th.html

Additionally for August 25th., see 'Contemplating defeat' - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/contemplating-defeat.html

Saturday, 24 August 2013

On d'Annunzio

Thursday, August 24th., Fulham Park Gardens, London.

Twice lately I have got ignominiously "stuck" in novels, and in each case I particularly regretted the sad breakdown. Gabriele d'Annunzio's "Forse che si forse che no" has been my undoing. I began it in the French version by Donatella Cross (Calmann-Levy, 3 fr. 50), and I began it with joy and hope. The translation, by the way, is very good. Whatever mountebank tricks d'Annunzio may play as a human being, he has undoubtedly written some very great works. He is an intensely original artist. You may sometimes think him silly, foppish, extravagant, or even caddish (as in "Il Fuoco"), but you have to admit that the English notions of what constitutes extravagance or caddishness are by no means universally held. And anyhow you have to admit that here is a man who really holds an attitude towards life, who is steeped in the sense of style, and who has a superb passion for beauty. Some of d'Annunzio's novels were a revelation, dazzling. And who that began even "Il Fuoco" could resist it? How adult, how subtle, how (in the proper signification) refined, seems the sexuality of d'Annunzio after the timid, gawky, infantile, barbaric sexuality of our "island story"! People are not far wrong on the Continent when they say, as they do say, that English novelists cannot deal with an Englishwoman--or could not up till a few years ago. They never get into the same room with her. They peep like schoolboys through the crack of the door. D'Annunzio can deal with an Italian woman. He does so in the first part of "Forse che si forse che no." She is only one sort of woman, but she is one sort - and that's something! He has not done many things better than the long scene in the Mantuan palace. There is nothing to modern British taste positively immoral in this first part, but it is tremendously sexual. It contains a description of a kiss - just a kiss and nothing more - that is magnificent and overwhelming. You may say that you don't want a magnificent and overwhelming description of a kiss in your fiction. To that I reply that I do want it. Unfortunately d'Annunzio leaves the old palace and goes out on to the aviation ground, and, for me, gradually becomes unreadable. The agonies that I suffered night after night fighting against the wild tedium of d'Annunzio's airmanship, and determined that I would find out what he was after or perish, and in the end perishing--in sleep! To this hour I don't know for sure what he was driving at - what is the theme of the book! But if his theme is what I dimly guess it to be, then the less said about it the better in Britain.

In an article of mine on d'Annunzio in last week's Academy, there is a passage which seems to me, now, such beautiful English that I can't help repeating it over and over, in my mind. Perhaps in ten years' time I may come to despise it in favour of a more severe ascetic style. Here it is:

"These rare creatures, sad with the melancholy of a race about to decay, radiant with the final splendour which precedes dissolution, wistful by reason of a destiny never to be satisfied, move through the drama with a feminine perfection of bodily and spiritual elegance seldom equalled and certainly never surpassed in any previous prose fiction."

Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863 – 1938), Prince of Montenevoso, was an Italian writer, poet, journalist, playwright and soldier during World War I. He occupied a prominent place in Italian literature from 1889 to 1910 and after that in political life from 1914 to 1924. D'Annunzio was associated with the Decadent movement in his literary works, which interplayed closely with French Symbolism and British Aestheticism. Such works represented a turn against the naturalism of the preceding romantics and was both sensuous and mystical. His affairs with several women, including Eleonora Duse and Luisa Casati, received public attention. During the First World War, the perception of D'Annunzio in Italy would be transformed from literary figure into a national war hero. He was associated with the elite Arditi storm troops of the Italian Army and took part in actions such as the Flight over Vienna. As part of an Italian nationalist reaction against the Paris Peace Conference, he set up the short-lived Italian Regency of Carnaro in Fiume with himself as Duce. The constitution made "music" the fundamental principle of the state and was corporatist in nature. Some of the ideas and aesthetics influenced Italian fascism and the style of Benito Mussolini.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Visiting Brighton

Monday, August 23rd., Royal Albion Hotel, Brighton.

A misty morning. 

Yesterday at dinner a man walked across the dining-room and thanked me for writing my books. He then wrote a note and sent it to me via the maitre d'hotel, apologising for his bad form. In this note he excused himself by saying that he had just parted from a son - gone to Singapore for five years. I think he had had too much to drink.

See also, 'Social contrasts' - January 2nd., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/an-entertaining-evening.html

Elizabeth Lewis came for lunch, and Harry Preston had a special grouse cooked for us. Harry, wife and child drove us to his country house, beyond Burgess Hill, for tea, and we had to have eggs for tea. It is a small house with large grounds. the kennels are his pride bull-terriers. He was very 'down' on Alsatians, which he said were the rage but were very treacherous and soon reverted to the wolf.

In the early 1900s Brighton, in line with many other seaside resorts, was in decline. Its fashionable visitors had long since departed and the middle classes were seeking other places. This left the town to the day trippers. According to the Daily Mail, the town was an "unenterprising, unattractive and outdated holiday resort".The Royal York Hotel was almost derelict when it was taken over by Sir Harry Preston in 1901. Following the hotel's refurbishment, he wined and dined London newspaper editors to promote visitors, particularly motorists, to the town and to encourage them to stay at his hotel. This he was spectacularly successful at and in 1913 he bought the nearby Royal Albion Hotel, which had been closed since 1900, for £13,500. During the twenties and early thirties the Royal Albion Hotel became the town's leading hotel where authors, actors, film stars, sportsmen and even the Prince of Wales were entertained by Preston who had a wonderful feel for publicity. Like many Edwardian gentlemen, he was a sportsman in the widest sense, embracing yachting (he owned the first motor yacht on this stretch of coast the "My Lady Ada"), motor racing and flying, as well as his first love, boxing (in his younger days he fought at bantamweight).

I have been reading "A l'ombre des jeune filles en fleurs" (Proust), and I still maintain that it is a bit on the dry side, though very good. It doesn't impassion me. I shouldn't care much if I didn't read any more of it. It lacks juice. It has almost no concern with anything except analysis of views and feelings - especially snobbishness. No landscapes, no furniture, no corporate life. No general 'feel' of things. This sort of business satisfies Walkley, but it could never satisfy me, in a novelist.

Good sleep last night but I did have a strange dream, which Huxley might have turned into a novel. I was living in a society which was increasingly controlled by the state. In particular the citizens were like automatons, going about their lives quietly, efficiently, apparently contentedly, but with no freedom of will. I was part of a group dedicated to overthrowing this state of affairs. In the dream I was aware that the powers that be were on to us and intentionally hung back when our group attacked an omnibus with the aim of 'liberating' the passengers. I escaped when all my fellows were ambushed and killed or captured. Then I realised I had a choice to make: live as an outlaw; live in society but pretending to be conditioned like the rest; submit to conditioning. I woke up undecided!

Additionally for August 23rd., see 'Spotting spies' - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/sunday-august-23rd.html

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Autumnal morning

Thursday, August 22nd., Les Sablons, Fontainebleau.

In the night the temperature fell to 15 degrees Centigrade (59 Fahrenheit), in my bedroom. I went out for a walk at 9 a.m. It seemed like autumn, with a mild cloudiness, and damp, clasping cold. And everything seemed very beautiful and strange. I thought what a pity it would be if I could not spend the autumn in the country. I walked by little field-paths about the village 'allotments', where one or two men and women were working and a dog pointing. I went far enough to see the view of Moret, and then returned, calling at the barber's. "Fait froid", said the barber, rubbing his hands.

Play progressing well. I said today that my health had become so disconcertingly good that I felt as if I ought to go and see a doctor about it. 

Additionally for August 22nd., see 'Welcomed at the Grange' - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/welcomed-at-grange.html

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Blunders of war

Saturday, August 21st., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

It now appears from my official correspondence with headquarters, that in case of invasion the military people have not yet got their transport in order; they admit that it will not be in order for two months, and they are still 'going to' indent. They want to indent from this coastal division, where transport is already inadequate and any evacuation would be very sudden. I am trying to stop them.

Also, without any corresponding change in the arrangements for evacuation, the direction of the evacuation has been taken out of the hands of the Committees, which organised it, and put into the hands of the police, who know nothing about the arrangements.

Pinker told me that the British Army now held 160 miles of French Front. That new horizontally effective bombs were now perfect. War Office had said that no bombs could be effective at 50 yards away on the level. Inventors said it could. Bomb made and tried. An officer was to let it off electrically at 70 yards. War Office protested that he could not be in danger. he was killed - hit in the breast by a bit of projectile.

Also that great muddle in landing at Suvla, Dardanelles. Troops 24 hours late. Otherwise they might have got right across peninsula. Fearful row. Two generals sent home. I talked somewhat with a Russian (in French). He had great blame for his countrymen's administrators - 'ces voleurs'.

Additionally for august 20th., see 'Rumours of war' - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/rumours-of-war.html

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

In Ostende

Thursday, August 20th., Ostende.

The Quai des Pecheurs, where one lands, is a street of houses that look like lanky overgrown cottages. nearly every dwelling is an estaminet, in the sanded, pine-dressed taproom of which fat, enceinte, good-humoured women move loosely and languidly to serve sailors and quay-loafers with bock and cheap tobacco.

Along the front lounge sailors in English blue (looking precisely like English sailors in face, gait, manner and dress); children clatter their loose sabots; fishwives are carrying fish from a brown and yellow tangle of smacks to waiting carts; occasionally a woman porter goes by, sweating in the sunshine, with her elongated barrow curving downwards to one little wheel at the extremity.

In the afternoon Brown squatted down on his stool, en plein rue, to paint the smacks and the lighthouse behind. He had no water. We interrogated small boys, and afterwards men in French, but only Flemish is spoken on this quay. At last a sailor comes who can speak French, and he sends a child for a glass of water. But the child never returns, and the French-speaking sailor has gone. Then a boy takes off his sabot, holds it up to me suggestively, rushes off with a clack-thud, clack-thud, and comes back with the sabot full of water.

Brown's audience gets larger, and it is difficult to keep them in order. Then he discovers that German is near enough to the Flemish to be understood, and begins to talk to a short, thick-set young sailor with an honest, amiable face who thereupon constitutes himself policeman of the crowd. We make friends with the sailor, and when the picture is done tale him to an estaminet for bock. In the corner of the taproom is a primitive bagatelle table; we play and beat him easily, while the fat and pregnant women of the establishment, three in number, look on good-humouredly and yet with a distant air of tolerance.

Turning to the left at the end of the Quai des Pecheurs, one is on the Digue - a vast straight expanse of promenade paved with small, diamond-shaped, corrugated brown tiles, and dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists only. This promenade, overlooking the immense sands and the dazzling sea, is flanked by lofty buildings of florid modern architecture, painted white or yellow - lodging houses, restaurants, hotels, and the white Kursaal (all curves) in the center - flashing in the brilliant sun so that one can scarcely bear to look on them.

The lodging houses are peculiar, and seem to be all made to one pattern. The front room of the rez-de-chausee has a sliding glass front, giving by a broad flight of steps directly onto the street. At the top of the steps is invariably mounted a large brass telescope, polished to blindingness. This front room is furnished with garish theatrical magnificence: highly decorated walls; elaborately carved furniture; a chandelier fit for a ballroom scene at the Haymarket; gaudy transparent paper screens. In the rear of this room wide doors folded back disclose another room - the salle-a-manger - treated in the cool shadow of drawn blinds. One'simpression is that the occupiers of these apartments conduct their existences for the delectation of the public eye. After lunch, during the siesta, one observed stout men, carefully attired in flannels, smoking or drowsing in the front rooms, while further back in the picture fashionably-dressed women with closed or half-shut eyes waved their fans dreamily.

All day, visitors perambulate the promenade and treat each other punctiliously.

This part of the town reaches the very summit of artificiality. The back-streets and market-places are different in character, quaint, with Flemish sign-boards, dog carts, bargaining wives, and a free, unhampered stir and movement of old, mellow colours - amidst all which the visitors, whose natural resting place is the Digue, seem out of key.

See also 'A Gaucho in London' http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/a-gaucho-in-london.html

Monday, 19 August 2013

Proof reading

Friday, August 19th., Villa des Nefliers, Fontainebleau.

All proofs of "Clayhanger" came on Wednesday morning, so that after 9 o'clock in the morning I did nothing on Wednesday and Thursday except correct them. 575 pages. I finished them on Thursday afternoon. Errors in the typescript made them very amazing. A great deal of it is as good as anything I have done. I noticed the far too frequent use of the word "extraordinary", but I loathe altering a work once it is done - no mistake about that.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

On tour

Tuesday, August 19th., Aberdeen.

I am on a motor tour with Beaverbrook.
See also, 'A visit to Berlin', September 13th., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/a-visit-to-berlin.html

I only saw Max afraid or out of feather once, and that was when we landed in a poor hotel at Perth on Sunday afternoon for the night. He could not stick it. We went on to Aberdeen.

We travelled up to the rate of 75 m.p.h. Passed a racing Mercedes at 69 and somewhere near Forfar on the way to Sterling, killed three partridges on the windscreen out of a covey that was picking in the middle of the road and failed to get up quick enough.

Max's interest in the Border - chieftain robbers and their keeps and methods - was very noticeable. He returned to the subject again and again.

He told me that someone said of him: "He began at Halifax and Halifax wasn't big enough. He left Montreal because Montreal wasn't big enough. He went to London and London wasn't big enough, and when he gets to hell he'll be too big for hell."

At Perth, we met Lord Dewar. Excessively rich but won't spend money. He said sorrowfully that he would have to spend 7 hours the next day in order to get to Harrogate. The idea of having a car had not apparently occurred to him.

Thomas Robert "Tommy" Dewar, 1st Baron Dewar (1864 – 1930) was a Scottish whisky distiller who, along with his brother John Dewar, built their family label, Dewar's, into an international success. They blended their whisky to make it more appealing to the international palate and Dewar demonstrated particular skills in marketing, travelling the world to find new markets and promote his product, exploiting romantic images of Scotland and tartan in his advertising.

Max gave me the history of the last 15 years of his father's life, beginning with the old man's phrase when he retired from the pastorate at the age of 70: "The evening mists are gathering," meaning that doubts had come to him about the reliability of the doctrines he had been preaching. He died at 85, and in his last years he spent 55,000 dollars of Max's money. It is a great subject for a novel.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


Thursday, August 17th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Yesterday I cycled to Frinton to see the shooting of the R.F.A. The target was the Frinton lifeboat, about 300 yards out. The guns were at Coldharbour, north of Frinton, range about 2,500 yards. On suggestion of R.G.A.'s we moved - twice, further north. L. seems to know nothing about artillery (yet he was in H.A.C.) and he was made observation officer to save him having to shoot. He could not observe. He had no notion of observing, beyond marking a plus or a minus. The R.G.A. subalterns explained things, and were useful, at any rate to me. Half the shooting being over, a policeman was clearing people off the beach because of the danger!

The Royal Field Artillery (RFA) provided artillery support for the British Army. It came into being when the Royal Artillery was divided on 1 July 1899. It was reamalgamated back into the Royal Artillery in 1924. The Royal Field Artillery was the largest arm of the artillery. It was responsible for the medium calibre guns and howitzers deployed close to the front line and was reasonably mobile. It was organised into brigades, attached to divisions or higher formations. The Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) was an arm of the Royal Artillery that was originally tasked with manning the guns of the British Empire's forts and fortresses, including coastal artillery batteries, the heavy gun batteries attached to each infantry division, and the guns of the siege artillery.

Last night at dinner I had the account of the shooting itself from one who had had to do some of it. He said the observation officer was supposed always to be a first class gunner, as everything depended on him, but that an observation officer was not really necessary in this case (direct fire etc.). The generals were kidded accordingly. There were three generals. One of them knew nothing or little about gunnery. He made a great noise, and wanted a great noise made - explosions, and to see shells dropping in the sea. He told the gunners to fire quickly, and to remember that this was not manoeuvres but war (which happily it was not). He constantly deranged General Y.X., but General Y.X. being a thorough expert and not to be ruffled, went ahead and gave quiet orders to the gunners, ignoring Gen. Z's notions. Z. wanted rapid firing. Y.X. said: "What is the use of your firing the next shot until you know exactly what was wrong with the last and why?" Y.X. was evidently the bright spot in the proceedings. A. is a pretty good gunner and he said he learnt a lot. So did the O.C. of the battery. He had nothing but scorn for W. and practically the same for Z.

What strikes me is the inability of all these generals to control themselves. They behave like kids with autocratic power. People like French merely dashed round, stayed two minutes, and said 'Excellent, excellent'. The whole body of subs is against the plan of defence and calls it silly.

Speaking with Mason as to this, I said that it seemed improbable that the staff should be all wrong and the subs and captains right (though I agreed with the latter), and Mason said it was not improbable because the subs had had experience and the others hadn't. I think I have forgotten to mention that the observing officer was not informed that the lifeboat was not the target and that the target was an imaginary point beyond it.

See also, 'Lost in Venice' - September 4th., http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/lost-in-venice.html

Friday, 16 August 2013

At The Oval

Monday, August 16th., Cadogan Square, London.

I wrote 600 words of a short story before 11 a.m., and 500 words after 6 p.m. of short story.

England v. Australia, The Oval, August 1926
At 11 a.m. I suddenly went off to the Oval to see an hour of the 5th. and last Test Match. Crowd very quick to take up every point. Every maiden over cheered for instance. Women fainting here and there. Attendants to look after them. Cricket cautious and very slow. Great roar after Woodfull's wicket fell. Met the Sword brothers, the elder of whom accosted me. Short talk with them. Heat of the crowd. Great difficulty of seeing anything at all, even by tiptoeing and craning.


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Back to work

Monday, August 15th., Villa des Nefliers, Fontainebleau.

I have now taken, what nearly everybody said I was incapable of taking and never would take, a long holiday. From July 2nd. to yesterday I did nothing whatever in the way of work except three short articles for the New Age, which I was obliged to do. Of course I had to attend to my correspondence; but I kept that as short as possible. I wrote an illustrated journal at Carantec, and I also did a number of paintings and sketches.

Carantec (Karanteg in Breton) is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittanyin north-western France. Carantec is located on the coast of the English Channel, and contains a small island within its boundaries, the Île Callot. Carantec is bordered by the communes ofHenvic and Taulé to the south, and is near to the town of Morlaix.

We came definitely home on Friday night, and found everything in order. Today I resumed my literary business. The three things that occupy me are: a good short story for T.P.'s Magazine; my "Life in Paris" for the English Review; and a play founded on "Buried Alive".

I have done no regular sustained reading now for something like ten months. So I shall resume Taine. I propose to do as I did in May and June here. Get up at 5.30, and begin creative writing at 6, and finish that on most days before breakfast at 9 a.m. I have now satisfied myself that is my best time for working, particularly now that by means of milk dinners I have cured my biliousness. It is three months since I had a headache due to indigestion. After breakfast I can do my oddments and correspondence, etc., and arrange my ideas for the next day. And thus have the whole of my work finished at noon. Afternoons for reading and painting and crass idleness. I have openly sworn - openly, in order for me to make it impossible to forswear myself decently - never again to work as hard as I have done in the past.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

On vacation

Tuesday, August 14th., Cadogan Square, London.

Le Hotel Grand, Le Touquet
We left the Grand Hotel, Le Touquet, at 9.55 and reached No. 75 at 3.45 p.m. Comfortable journey throughout. The purser fellow on the boat got us through the Customs without examination and saw to all other arrangements. All because I gave him an autographed book. I daren't give him a tip. Infant in perfect form and a very good traveller. Immediately on arrival I set to work to clear up things, and before I went to bed had done four hours' concentrated work. Also I had searched Bible and Shakespere concordances for a title for the play.

Virginia, Dorothy and me on the sands
We have been in Le Touquet since the end of June, though I had to go up to London twice during that time. The Swinnertons were with us for some of the time. Generally behaved like the holidaymakers we were: on the beach; day at the races; a bit of gambling (I won); some sight-seeing. I managed quite a lot of reading, but nothing stands out, and of course I had my Evening Standard articles to do. What I have enjoyed most is lounging about in my dressing-gown after breakfast, smoking a cigar, talking to Dorothy and others.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A collaboration

Sunday, August 13th., Villa des Nefliers, Fontainebleau.

I began to write "The Family" (tentative title of play in collaboration with Edward Knoblock) on August 1st. I had finished the first act on August 6th. He revised it (but slightly) and on Friday 11th. he read it in our kiosk to the Mairs, Alice K. and her brother, Ed. Sheldon, and me.

I read the draft of what I had done of the 2nd. act. Succes tres vif. I shall finish the 2nd. act on Wednesday, and count to have the whole play finished on the 29th. I write a scene of the play each morning and Knoblock comes in most afternoons for tea to go through what I have done.

I didn't alter at all his construction of the 1st. act; but I have immensely improved his construction of the 2nd., and I shall entirely reconstruct the 3rd. His revision consists chiefly of rearranging the dialogue here and there, and shortening. Whenever he adds a phrase of his own it is heavy and uncolloquial, and has to be altered. Still, he knows the stage, and his help is valuable. Also the original idea of the play was his, and the skeleton his. Nevertheless I do not in the least regret the collaboration. It will have occupied me less than a month.

See also, 'Contrasts' - March 6th. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/contrasts.html

Monday, 12 August 2013

South of the river

Thursday, August 12th., Cadogan Square, London.

I had a great desire to go and see what the other side of the river was like opposite the Tate Gallery, and so, by tram and bus, I went.

What a quick change there is immediately you cross. Stone setts instead of wood or asphalt. Many more horses than the North side. Much more noise, more dirt. More physical labour. There are various big factories just close to Vauxhall Bridge, not to mention the railways. A great press of road traffic. Semi-slums. I walked up several semi-slummy streets, such as 'Italian Walk'. Then I went back over the bridge - at once calmness, quiet and no horses. Very dramatic. The whole escapade only took me a little over an hour.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Historic excursion

Wednesday, August 11th., Cadogan Square, London.

I finished my nouvelle yesterday afternoon. 20,400 words written in 23 days. It may not be good, but it cannot be very bad. I now want a really striking title for it.

I have had the opportunity to visit Apsley House, London home of the Duke of Wellington, and took it. I was particularly interested to see memorabilia of the first Duke and wasn't disappointed. Most of the rooms I saw were more or less crammed with gifts given to the Duke to reward his defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo: ceramics, paintings, medals, swords .... What I hadn't realised, but should have known, was what a close run thing it was. Suppose Napoleon had won, which he might, how different the course of European history would have been.

It seems that the Duke had a great respect for Napoleon, though the two men never met except across the battlefield. There is a huge painting of the battle in one of the rooms, meant to be an accurate representation (I forget who it is by) which shows Napoleon in the foreground and Wellington in the middle distance; I wonder if they really could have seen each other and, if so, what their thoughts were? Apparently Wellington went to Paris to see Napoleon's tomb, and pay respects, when the body was returned from St. Helena and interred at the Invalides.

The rooms of course are very grand but what caught my imagination most was a feature of the 'Waterloo Gallery': the long windows which light the room can be covered by sliding mirrors for a banquet or ball making effectively a mirrored wall like something from Versailles; I thought this a clever detail.

What a pity that the road in front of the house (Piccadilly) is so busy with traffic. The house deserves a more tranquil and dignified setting.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

A 'Miracle' in Salzburg

Monday, August 10th., Salzburg.

I wrote 1,300 words of novel on Saturday and 2,300 words yesterday before 3.30 p.m. This constituted an enormous effort. At 10 p.m. we went on to a rehearsal of "The Miracle" at the Residenz. Reinhardt left at 10.45 to go to an 11 p.m. dinner at Leopoldskron. Whereupon Rosamund Pinchot (the Nun) had an attack of nerves because he wasn't there to direct her, and her mother was upset. I told her it was the most ordinary thing in the world and not worth thinking about.
See also, 'Sightseeing from Salzburg' - August 2nd.,

Max Reinhardt (1873 – 1943) was an Austrian-born American stage and film actor and director. Born Maximilian Goldmann, an Austrian Jew, from 1902 until the beginning of Nazi rule in 1933, he worked as a director at various theatres in Berlin. From 1905 to 1930 he managed the Deutsches Theatre ("German Theatre") in Berlin. By employing powerful staging techniques, and harmonising stage designlanguage, music and choreography, Reinhardt introduced new dimensions into German theatre. After the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi-governed Germany in 1938, he emigrated first to Britain, then to the United States. Reinhardt opened the Reinhardt School of the Theatre in Hollywood, on Sunset Boulevard. In 1940 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

I only had three and three-quarter hours sleep on Saturday night, and yet wrote 2,300 on Sunday.

At 4 p.m. took the railway up to the summit of the Gaisberg. Too misty and sunshiny to see clearly but it was all very impressive. A damn fine lump of mud, the Gaisberg, 4,200 feet.

Kommer gave a 2.15 p.m. lunch, at which we met Hugo von Hoffmansthal and wife. He is a very jolly fellow, about 45 I should say, and looking younger. Three children practically grown up, I understood. Just bought his first car, of which he was most naively and charmingly proud. he said that of course I, being a novelist, wrote all the year round and that he, being a dramatist, worked only in the autumn. I was delighted with H. von H.; also with his wife.

Hugo Laurenz August Hofmann von Hofmannsthal (1874 – 1929), was an Austrian novelist, librettist, poet,dramatist, narrator, and essayist. He began to write poems and plays from an early age. In 1900, Hofmannsthal met the composer Richard Strauss for the first time and later wrote libretti for several of his operas. In 1901, he married Gertrud "Gerty" Schlesinger, the daughter of a Viennese banker. Gerty, who was Jewish, converted to Christianity before their marriage. They settled in Rodaun, not far from Vienna, and had three children, Christiane, Franz, and Raimund. During the First World War Hofmannsthal held a government post. He wrote speeches and articles supporting the war effort, and emphasizing the cultural tradition of Austria-Hungary. The end of the war spelled the end of the old monarchy in Austria; this was a blow from which the patriotic and conservative-minded Hofmannsthal never fully recovered. Nevertheless the years after the war were very productive ones for him; he continued with his earlier literary projects, almost without a break. In 1920, Hofmannsthal, along with Max Reinhardt, founded the Salzburg Festival. On July 13, 1929, his son Franz committed suicide. Two days later, Hugo himself died of a stroke at Rodaun. He was buried wearing the habit of a Franciscan tertiary, as he had requested.

This is the third day of very hot stifling weather, with sun all the time.

Leave tomorrow, Tuesday, 11th., at 5.30, by the Orient Express. I shall have been here 33 full days, and I estimate I have written over 35,000 words despite chronic and acute neuralgia.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Who is Arnold Bennett?

Sunday, August 9th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Yesterday Johnson, ex-tobacco merchant, called on me in a state of some excitement. Tall, thin nervous man. He began by saying: "I am a great patriot." He said superiorly: "I know the Germans. They are traitors. I have seen this coming for years. I have £3,000 in cash. I am prepared to use it for the country." His scheme was that the government should give authority to take over the small mills (why only small?) of the district, and that he should manage them without profit, so as to prevent the exploitation of small people now going on. He had already got promises of produce of 4,000 acres at rather less than market price. The extreme improbability of such a scheme ever being sanctioned, the absurdity of it, the rights on which it trampled, the excessive difficulty of it - these things seem not to have occurred to him at all. It was all simple and patriotic to him. He wanted me to guarantee £1,000 and to give the support of my name (this was what he came for), and he had got Syme to guarantee £1,000. On this he was prepared to start.

To soothe him I said that I would write to someone high up as a preliminary, and I wrote to Spender, without however concealing my view from Spender. Johnson was soon launched on his camping experiences in Turkey where he went to buy tobacco. He is a very decent agreeable well-intentioned oldish man, speaking fairly correctly except that he adds R to the end of too many words. He farms his own land.
See also, 'Writers for peace (or war)' - February 11th.

Then the Mathewses came. The Reverend Mathews (rector of Beaumont with Moze, Essex), a very nice chap indeed, had suddenly discovered that Redmond was a good man; but he learnt from me for the first time at 5 p.m. 8th., August 1914, that Ulster is not all Protestant. He was staggered to learn that quite 50% of Ulster is Roman Catholic.

John Redmond was an Irish nationalist MP who achieved the passing of an act in 1914 that granted 'Home Rule' - a devolved parliament - to Ireland. He sought only limited self-government, believing his country should not be wholly separated from the British Empire. His lifelong aim was to reconcile unionists with nationalists and Ireland with England. Home Rule was never implemented due to the outbreak of World War One. Ireland was instead partitioned into two separate states.

Although he had to make an announcement about in the pulpit tomorrow, he had not yet understood the object of the Prince of Wales's Relief Fund. I explained it to him. By the way I have no desire whatever to contribute to this spectacular affair. I have taken measures to be told of any bad cases in the village (none at present), and I have authorised Pinker to use £100 privately among really necessitous authors. I have the same feeling against funds that I have against committees.

On 7th August 1914, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales made an urgent appeal in The Times: 
"Buckingham Palace - all must realise that the present time of deep anxiety will be followed by one of considerable distress among the people of this country least able to bear it. We must earnestly pray that their suffering may be neither long nor bitter, but we cannot wait until the need presses heavily upon us. The means of relief must be ready in our hands. To ally anxiety will go some way to stay distress. A National Fund has been founded, and I am proud to act as its Treasurer. My first duty is to ask for generous and ready support, and I know that I shall not ask in vain. At such a moment we all stand by one another, and it is to the heart of the British people that I confidently make this earnest appeal. Edward."

I have organised a Central News service of war telegrams and asked the postmaster if he would like to put them in the Post Office window. He said he would. On Friday Miss Nerney told me that while people were reading a copy of one of these telegrams in the window one man asked: "Who is Arnold Bennett?" The reply was: "He's the War Minister." Then in correction, "Oh no, he isn't. He's the actor chap that lives down the road." Yesterday I read the following on a telegraph form outside the P.O.: "British Gold Coast Forces take German Togoland. No resistance by permission of Arnold Bennett Esquire."

Thursday, 8 August 2013

East End adventure

Sunday, August 8th., Cadogan Square, London.

I lunched with Dorothy here; and then felt that I must have some adventure. It was a very nice afternoon with threatening clouds. I hurried out and taxied to St. Paul's, which is still half closed and no doubt will be for years. Still it is neatly and tidily half closed. Immense flocks of tame pigeons on the piazza being fed. A congregation (sparse) assembling inside for a service.

I then took a bus for Hackney Wick. I thought that would do as well as anywhere. But before I got to the Wick I saw buses going in the opposite direction to Blackwall Tunnel, which I had never seen. So I got off and took one of these latter, and went all down the Burdett Road into East India Docks Road to Poplar, and I saw big steamers and even a fine 3-master, and a huge home or hostel for sailors. Incidentally, the top of the slope leading to the tunnel. The thoroughfares are superb in width and very clean, and I noted lots of very interesting things. The East End keeps on till you get to Aldgate when it stops all of a sudden, and you begin to see theatre ticket agencies.

I should have been late for tea if I had not taken a taxi at St. Paul's again. But all the round trip to and from St. Paul's - I should think about 10 miles - I did in buses.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Sailing boats

Saturday, August 7th., Royal York Hotel, Brighton.

Yacht Belem
On Thursday I saw two of the finest yachts afloat. Iolanda, which I have often admired at Cannes. The other yacht was the Duke of Westminster's Belem, lying in the Medina near to The Wanderer. A converted French merchantman. Fantastic luxury; but real taste. I got some ideas from it for The Wanderer. A lovely ship. Allen said the Duke had spent well over £100,000 on her, and that £35,000 would buy her; which probably meant £25,000. The wages bill must be £700 a month. She appears to be used for only about a week or so a year. This is a social crime.

Launched in 1896, the three masted barque Belem was originally a trader that crossed the Atlantic to Brazil and the Caribbean in order to bring back cocoa, sugar, rum and other products. In 1914 the Duke of Westminster bought her and transformed her into a private yacht

I think I should fancy more than any of these boats the Shenandoah, a three-masted schooner, with a big beam; she floated on the water like a duck and looked superb. When we went out in a launch to inspect the motor-launch that goes with The Wanderer, we went close by the Shenandoah and it was sickening to think she wasn't mine. I am planning to buy The Wanderer, which is an 88 ton ketch. Price £2,500, including a motor-launch and two dinghies. the price is subject to inventory and survey. I reckon she will cost £1,500 to put right below.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

On a war footing

Thursday, August 6th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

We are at war. Two days ago the German armies crossed the Meuse into Belgium, and a British ultimatum demanding German withdrawal expired at 11 p.m. on the same day.

The British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, had spent the five weeks since the assassination of Franz-Ferdinand trying to get the different countries to negotiate - Lloyd George described him as being like the weak chairman of tempestuous committee: 'calling out in an appealing but not compelling voice: "Order! Order".'

1 August: Grey proposed to Germany that Britain would stay neutral if Germany did not attack France. Kaiser Wilhelm wanted to agree, but when he tried to pause the invasion, his generals told him that he couldn't.
2 August: The Schlieffen Plan had a error. It planned for the German army, when it attacked France, to go through Belgium. The day after declaring war on Russia, therefore, the Germans asked permission for their army to pass through Belgium. The Belgians refused! So the next day, Germany invaded Belgium.
4 August: Britain was obliged (by the Treaty of Washington, 1839) to help Belgium in the event of an invasion. Therefore, Britain sent Germany an ultimatum demanding, by midnight, a German promise to withdraw from Belgium. The Germans were amazed: 'For a scrap of paper, Great Britain is going to make war?' asked Bethmann-Hollweg.

That night, crowds gathered in Parliament Square in London. As Big Ben struck 11 pm (midnight in Berlin) they sang God Save the King, and then ran home crying: 'War! War! War!' As Grey watched the crowds leave, he commented: 'The lights are going out all over Europe: we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime'.

On arriving at Brightlingsea on Monday afternoon, I was told that petrol could not be got in the district; that it was fetching up to 10s. a tin at Clacton; and that Baggaley, the regular hirer of motor cars at B'sea had gone forth in an attempt to get petrol. At Clacton yesterday the price was 2s. 3d. or 2s. 4d. a gallon. I have 60 gallons in stock.

A great crowd of holiday-makers at Clacton in the showers yesterday. No difficulty about getting change for a £10 note in gold and silver. At the fish shop, slight increases of price in poultry and eggs. The man said there was no chance for him to make money (in response to a friendly jibe of Marguerite's). He said he expected to get no more fish after that day.

Yesterday we heard noise of explosions destroying inconvenient houses at Harwich. The sensations of Harwich people must be poignant. Nevertheless, the G.E.R. in yesterday evening's papers was advertising its Hook of Holland service (with restaurant cars etc.) exactly as usual, and I believe the boat left last night. We also heard thunder; and the children affirm that they distinctly heard the noise of firing - not explosions. (Report of action in North Sea in evening papers.) I saw one warship in the offing at Clacton; but an ordinary steamer coming to the pier, and a barge sailing northwards.

An officer came yesterday to complain of a fox-terrier (? ours) which flew at despatch-riders on motor-bicycles. He said it would be shot if found loose. These despatch-riders are the most picturesque feature of the war here. They rush through the villages at speeds estimated up to 50 miles an hour. I am willing to concede 40.

I agree that Russia is the real enemy, and not Germany; and that a rapprochement between England and Germany is a certainty. But I doubt whether it is wise, in the actual conduct of affairs, to try to see so far ahead. I think that the belligerency of England is a mistake - for England. Yet if I had to choose, I believe my instinct would have forced me to make war.

Sir Edward Grey's outstanding mistake, in his big speech, was the assertion that the making of war would not much increase our suffering. It will enormously increase it.

It may be said, I suppose, that we might stand aside, husband our strength, and that, whatever happened in the course of this war, at the end of it intervene with effect to put things right, and to adjust them to our own point of view. If, in a crisis like this, we run away [Loud cheers.] from those obligations of honour and interest as regards the Belgian treaty, I doubt whether, whatever material force we might have at the end, it would be of very much value in face of the respect that we should have lost. And I do not believe, whether a great power stands outside this war or not, it is going to be in a position at the end of it to exert its superior strength. For us, with a powerful fleet, which we believe able to protect our commerce, to protect our shores, and to protect our interests, if we are engaged in war, we shall suffer but little more than we shall suffer even if we stand aside. We are going to suffer, I am afraid, terribly in this war, whether we are in it or whether we stand aside. Foreign trade is going to stop, not because the trade routes are closed, but because there is no trade at the other end. Continental nations engaged in war all their populations, all their energies, all their wealth, engaged in a desperate struggle they cannot carry on the trade with us that they are carrying on in times of peace, whether we are parties to the war or whether we are not. I do not believe for a moment that at the end of this war, even if we stood aside and remained aside, we should be in a position, a material position, to use our force decisively to undo what had happened in the course of the war, to prevent the whole of the west of Europe opposite to us -- if that had been the result of the war -- falling under the domination of a single power, and I am quite sure that our moral position would be such as -- [the rest of the sentence -- "to have lost us all respect." -- was lost in a loud outburst of cheering]. I can only say that I have put the question of Belgium somewhat hypothetically, because I am not yet sure of all the facts, but, if the facts turn out to be as they have reached us at present, it is quite clear that there is an obligation on this country to do its utmost to prevent the consequences to which those facts will lead if they are undisputed.... 
from Grey's speech to Parliament - August 3rd., 1914.

The hope for us is in the honesty and efficiency of our administration. The fear for France springs from the fact that the majority of French politicians are notoriously rascals, out for plunder. The corruption of Russian administration is probably even worse. The seriousness of the average French private will atone for a lot, but it will not - for instance - create boots for him. The hope for France is that the German army, arrogant in its traditions etc., may be lower than its reputation.

After reading the diplomatic papers leading up to the rupture between England and Germany, this morning, one has to admit that Sir E. Grey did everything he could, once he had stated his position. The war is a mistake on our part, but other things leading to it were a mistake, and, these things approved or condoned, the war must be admitted to be inevitable. Judged by any current standard, Sir E. Grey is a man of high common sense. He has not yet grasped the movement of social evolution; but then very few people have. And you cannot properly or fairly try to govern a country on a plane of common sense too high above its own general plane.

Apart from Germany two countries are pre-eminently suffering at the beginning of the war _ France and Belgium. Both are quite innocent; Belgium touchingly so. I can imagine the Germans among them if they get the upper hand. The Germans are evidently quite ruthless and brutal and savage in war. This is logical; but a large part of their conduct is due to arrogant military tradition, which will one day be smashed. If Germany is smashed in this war, the man most imperilled will be the German Emperor. If she is not smashed the man most imperilled may be the Tsar.

I am told, convincingly, that a firm at Clacton is making an extra £50 a week out of bread, through increased charges for which there is no justification. It appears that the farmers all round have raised the price of butter 3d. a pound.

Miss Osborne and a girl friend came round yesterday afternoon to ask for linen or subscriptions for the local branch of the Red Cross Society. Mrs. Byng is ready to lend Thorpe Hall for a hospital. These young ladies have no orders or permissions yet from the War Office; but they wish to be in readiness. This instinct to do something on the part of idle young women or half-idle is satisfactory to behold.

On the day after the war, our nephews who are staying with us wanted a tent. They had one, beyond the pond. It cost one day's labour of a carpenter. This tent is used by everybody except me nearly all the time. The whole household seems to live in it. Today the boys are making wooden swords. Yesterday a village boy gave me a military salute.

Edith Johnston recounts how her father is laying in ammunition against the time when the populace will raid the countryside demanding provisions; he, being a farmer, is to be called on early in the proceedings, and he is determined to give out his stores evenly and not to the strongest. Each morning he summons all his men and explains to them the course of the war, so that they shall not be misled by rumours. Edith thinks that a war is necessary and advisable, as the population is too thick.