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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Friday, 28 February 2014
I finished another section of "A Great Man" yesterday at 3.30 p.m., having written nearly 10,000 words in a week. I ought easily to complete the book by March 20th. It seems amusing enough, and very good in places. But if I treated this as a draft, and really thought out types, and made the book fuller, I could make it much better. However I have a mania for producing a lot just now. And further, this sort of book though I can do it, is scarcely my natural genre. I do not take quite the same interest in it as I take in a serious book, nor do I get quite the same satisfaction out of a passage which I know to be done well. And often I have the greatest difficulty in starting my day's work. I am all right when I have started. But the starting is penible.
Additionally for February 28th., see'Changing perceptions'
We went to the British Museum. Elgin marbles the greatest sensation I have had for a long time. I used to think them cold. Now I see how passionately they were done. The illuminated MS. also made an entirely new appeal to me. And I was more than ever determined to do some decent illumination.
Thursday, 27 February 2014
I have moved from Victoria Grove because I needed room for my sister Tertia who is studying singing in London, and for my youngest brother Septimus who has won a National Scholarship for sculpture and is studying in South Kensington. And today was the house-warming.
When supper was nearly over, and at the third bottle of champagne, Marriott got up and began a speech by pulling out of his sleeve a huge pantomime cuff on which were written the notes of his oration. For 25 minutes he kept me wildly laughing, and wound up with a series of comic couplets setting forth my vices and virtues. I laughed all through, but after it was over I felt horribly self-conscious, and opened a bottle with an air of awful gravity.
My novel "A Man from the North" came out on Wednesday and such of my friends as have read it and whose view is worth a damn, like it heartily in a quiet way. Phillpotts is going to review it for Black & White. He has given me a lot of solid advice about things in general. I hope to introduce him to Sturt when the latter comes to visit.
I am working at a rather serious and long critical article on George Moore, which I hope I may be able to sell. I am enjoying the thing greatly & have already too much to say than there will be room for.. It is rather a big job. I have a good short story in tow for black & White, but it is lying by as the Moore article is rather urgent.
Additionally for February 27th., see 'False alarms'
At home, we learnt that small German raids expected. All local garrisons doubled. two batteries in the village etc. Great excitement. I had heard nothing of this in London.
As regards this 'great invasion scare', two batteries 'stood by' yesterday morning from 4 a.m. till sunrise and today from 5.30 a.m. till sunrise, all ready to move off - except that bits weren't in harness. The reinforcement which came in a hurry from Colchester here consists of convalescent wounded gunners from the front, appointed only to light duty and to extreme emergency duty. In the fatigue of yesterday's field day (which was utterly useless) the wounds of two of the gunners were reopened. It is considered that the early morning standing by is connected with high water, and that some attempt at landing is feared. Only the ammunition column remains in Thorpe. The two batteries have taken with then 100 rounds per gun. the rest is stored in our outbuildings.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Marguerite and Pauline Smith came back from Vevey today with particulars of a maniaque shop there, where, when you had bought an article, it was taken from you and a number given in exchange. You then, after purchasing all you wanted, paid at the desk, and then went to another part of the shop, where were a number of pigeon-holes numbered. Your articles were then taken out of the pigeon-holes corresponding to your numbers and wrapped up. The wrapping-up could not begin till you had paid. At the wrapping-up place were a number of little brown paper bags containing pieces of string. The packer chose a suitable length from the bag containing pieces only of that length. One can imagine the fussiness, indeed mania of the proprietor, and hell of a time that the girls employed in it must have.
I found quite early this morning all the ideas for last chapter of novel. This afternoon I reviewed Barry Pain, Galsworthy, Le Gallienne, and Mrs. Nesbit for the New Age. Quite like old times. I fell at once into my old quiet habits of reviewing; but the stuff written was, I think, much better - certainly had more souplesse.
More and more struck by Tchekoff, and more and more inclined to write a lot of very short stories in the same technique. As a fact, "The Death of Simon Fugue", written long before I had read Tchekoff, is in the same technique, and about as good. Though to say anything is as good as "Ward No. 6" in "The Black Monk", wants a bit of nerve.
Additionally for February 26th., see 'Successes'
Reviews of "The Card" much too kind on the whole. Six on the first day, 6 or 8 on the second. Dixon Scott's in M. Guardian one of the best I ever had, and no effusiveness either.
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
I went by bus to Colefaxes; Sam Courtauld and Eliz. Lewis. All of us except Arthur Colefax went to see "The Unknown Warrior" by Raynal at the Little Theatre. First act false and awful, and all the three players, including Maurice Browne, awful. But second and third acts quite good and rather moving, and Maurice was better - much better.
Then Courtauld took us all to the Cafe de Paris, where we stayed until 12.30 and after. Fearfully crowded and noisy. No room to dance. Lady Colefax and Michael ditto drove me home. Bed at 1 a.m.
Also for Sybil Colefax see 'War nerves'
Additionally for February 25th., see 'Extreme cold'
Fifteen degrees C. of cold this morning at 7 a.m., 13 degrees at 8.15. I went out yesterday afternoon. Strong north-east wind and very hard frost. I had my face wrapped up but after a mile I could not stand it any longer, and had to come home. It was a terrifying and very painful cold: the keenest I have been in.
Monday, 24 February 2014
I had une espece de grippe all last week and wrote nothing whatsoever. Dorothy returned from Italy.
The first (of two) performances of "The Bright Island" took place at the Aldwych Theatre on Sunday, 15th. The play was coldly received on both Sunday and Monday. The points were not seen by that portion of the audience which applauds. yet the play had succeeded at rehearsals. many people thought it amusing and true. I think that for one thing the audience was bewildered at the start by the strangeness of the scene, the "Commedia dell' Arte" names of the characters, and the political quality of the plot. Also by the even-handed rigour dealt out to both political parties. The Press, with the sole exception of Truth, who liked it and praised it and said it ought to be revived before a "more intelligent audience", slanged it like anything. Not partially but wholly. Some said that I ought to be stopped from writing such plays, a great mistake, deplorable, and so on. It was the worst Press any play of mine ever had.
My masseur, Fjellsted, told me on Saturday a story of how trouble may be caused by indiscretion. A great tangle of consequential actions deriving from a casual sexual adventure resulted in a horrid mess in two homes. The moral is, don't pick up girls when you are motoring, and, if you see a girl, don't be picked up. Also if you let a man seduce you, get at any rate his name and address. But chiefly, have an absolute rule in your home that your letters are opened by nobody but yourself.
Additionally for February 24th., see 'Exciting times'
Just now, as negotiations about two of my plays are pending, I am in a great state of secret excitement and have postponed going to see friends and asking them to see me and generally organising a social campaign, until something has been decided one way or another. I had a letter from Louis Calvert this morning as to "The Wayward duchess".
Sunday, 23 February 2014
Beaverbrook arrived with Morris Woods from Nice. Max talked with us for about an hour, and then Max dashed off again, to Cannes, to meet his mother and Gladys. He said his heart gave an extra beat now and then; but he wouldn't have a big (or a little) doctor for the disease. He had bought James Mackenzie's book on the subject, and stood by that. He said that he was a sure mark for any big and strong-willed doctor, and feared to enter on the career of an invalid. I suggested that he should visit a doctor anonymously; he agreed that that might do. He was playing golf daily. Freddie Lonsdale was with him. Max was going on an Eastern Mediterranean tour in the Mauritania on Saturday night from Villefranche. He had taken five cabins and hadn't yet invited any of his guests. He meant to invite them tonight.
Additionally for February 23rd., see 'Writing for a living'
Today I publish my first book, "A Man from the North". I have seen it mentioned in several papers among "Books Received". Beyond that, I have scarcely thought of it. The fact has not at the moment interested me. But during the last few days I have been several times naively surprised that some of my friends are not more awake and lively to the fact than they seem to be. Perhaps it has interested me more than I thought?
Saturday, 22 February 2014
On Friday I went down to Torquay to spend the weekend with Eden Phillpotts.
I found him settled in a decently large house (with several rooms about 20 feet square), with a charming wife, and two children, with whom he must play every evening in the nursery from 6 to 7, inventing new games, etc.
On Saturday Phillpotts and I went for a walk in the February mist. In a country lane, seeing some primrose roots lying in the road, he got suddenly angry with a person unknown, and carefully replanted the roots under a hedge. Both he and his brother ask nothing better than to potter about garden and greenhouse, diagnosing the case of every plant, noting minute changes, and discussing methods of treatment. For two days a rumour that a camellia was growing in the hedge of a certain garden in a certain street excited them until they proved to themselves satisfactorily that the rumour was wrong and the camellia only a rhododendron.
Today Tillotsons offered me £60 for the serial rights of "For Love and Life". I have asked them for £80, but £60 was the price I had myself thought of.
I left Phillpotts full of a desire to live in the country in a large house with plenty of servants, as he does, not working too hard, but working when and how one likes, at good rates. It can only be done by means of fiction. Perhaps the sale of this my first serial may be considered as a step in the right direction.
For more on Phillpotts see 'Eden and I' and 'Writing for a living'
Additionally for February 22nd., see 'A jolly visit'
What he would call a jolly little house. But it wouldn't suit me. Rooms too small, and windows too large, and no tradition behind the design. Still the open-air rooms will be very 'jolly' for eating and sitting about in. Much charm in the situation. We greatly enjoyed this visit. It was very invigorating in every way.
Friday, 21 February 2014
Haymarket concert in aid of Wounded Allies Relief Committee at night. I have charge of the money-getting department of the Committee, and it is ageing me. I shall soon have quite grey hair. Greying hair, I am told, suits me. If I could get 75,000 dollars out of the U.S.A. for my fund, my hair would resume its original heavenly brown. The problem is that we are coming to the end of our tether for lack of funds, England being about squeezed dry. I may write to Mrs. Herzog.
For more on the W.A.R.C. see 'Coaching'
Though the concert went off without a hitch, I was very glad when it was over. I had no particular trouble but I will never organise another. The theatrical element, Henry Ainley and Nelson Keys, had a much greater success than the musical element. The latter was naturally jealous, but could not help peeping and hugely enjoying the former. One is more struck than ever by the forced cordiality of all greetings and all praise in this monde. Miss Ada Crossley, the oldest singer there, has very great charm and she got the first encore. After Ainley people began to go, and after Nelson Keys a lot went. These two had each more than one encore, and occupied a great deal of time, so that the concert was not over till 10.25.
I had a rotten night.
Additionally for February 21st., see 'Culture in the provinces'
Audience determined to appreciate high-class music, and applauding the noisiest and most showy. Crass inertia and stupidity of sundry women around me, determined to understand and to enjoy nothing.
Thursday, 20 February 2014
Another Promenade Wagner concert. At the interval, when the Wagner music was finished, Brown and I tortuously picked our way to the orchestra room, where he has many acquaintances. From a little conversation with Busby, the horn player, I learned a lot about rehearsals, the personnel of the band, and the conductor's popularity.Then we went into the orchestra and sat down by the drums. The serious part of the programme was now over, and both conductor and orchestra were larkish for the "Pinafore" fantasia. The conductor raps, consults each leader of a section in turn with a questioning nod and wink, and then, lifting both arms, he starts the great machine. The mere noise is cosmic! The booming of the tympani shakes the floor, the brass splits your ears, and the heavy, piercing crepitation of the (kettle) drum almost frightens you into running away. It seems as if the unfortunate conductor had created suddenly a monster impossible to control ... Then someone makes an utterly wrong attack, and a loud wave of laughter unsubdued runs across the orchestra. One wonders that the audience isn't shocked, but the audience can't hear it. Even the conductor laughs, winking at the delinquent - this piece is only fun. Yet it won't do to be too slack, and one sees the men bracing their faces to seriousness. They are at work, earning a livelihood. Beneath the mirth of Sullivan's music, there is a perceptible under-effect of solid workaday endeavour by industrious and capable men. When the end came, with a prodigious rattle of kettle drums, a bassoon player said to the kettle drummer, "You enjoy yourself, no mistake." "I do," was the answer, in great broad tones, "and I work hard." "No one seemed to know where anybody was that time!" another player said, passing me to leave the orchestra; he was charging a pipe.
Additionally for February 20th., see 'A terrific wind'
All secure in the hotel. But terrific wind beating on the S. windows and general shaking. Go out. You then see hotels from outside. Blocks of stone and yellow light, immensely secure. very brilliant in lower stages. Aquarium a cluster of lights with its absurd little tower. Moon in cloudy sky. Little crowds at two points near pier. Vast sea of foam for about 200 yards out. Rows of little people in half-distance silhouetted like a long-toothed saw against this. I find the general look of these groups of people perhaps the most interesting. So small. waves breaking over jetty and over Marine Drive. Waves coming between jetty and pier, running along wall of jetty in a line like the curves of a long rope shaken to imitate waves. Noise of naked shingles. Plenty of suffused light about. Sheet lightning from time to time.
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
I wrote 700 words of "the Vanguard" before leaving Genoa for Menton. A beautiful day, hot. We left by the Pullman at 11.58 and arrived at Menton promptly just after 3 (French time), despite Customs and passports. Train stuffy on account of an oldish gentleman who had just recovered from influenza and was justifiably afraid of draughts.
The atmosphere of the Winter Palace is mainly English. The dinner scene in the large restaurant was markedly English. I haven't yet heard an American accent; which is very odd after Rome.
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
I returned home this afternoon having spent a few days in Hampshire, which was extremely wet. Everywhere rivers had burst their banks, fields had become lakes, and some roads had become streams. All the result of weeks of storms and heavy rain in the south of England. Many people it seems are in despair following the inundation of their home. Crossing a bridge, I saw a sign below saying: "Private Property - do not cross this fence". As a fact, no fence was visible. The sign protruded forlornly from a sheet of water and the property owner presumably was in occupation of the upper floors of his water-lapped house.
I bought "Autobiography of Mark Rutherford" and "Mark Rutherford's Deliverance" in 7d. editions at the station. Started reading the latter which is very impressive and original. Fine style, no scheme of construction. As a continuous narrative extraordinarily amateurish. The man had no notion of fiction. Full of wisdom and high things. For example:
"As I got older I became aware of the folly of this perpetual reaching after the future, and of drawing from to-morrow, and from to-morrow only, a reason for the joyfulness of to-day. I learned, when, alas! it was almost too late, to live in each moment as it passed over my head, believing that the sun as it is now rising is as good as it will ever be, and blinding myself as much as possible to what may follow. But when I was young I was the victim of that illusion, implanted for some purpose or other in us by Nature, which causes us, on the brightest morning in June, to think immediately of a brighter morning which is to come in July." (From "Autobiography of Mark Rutherford")
Middle-aged couple in our compartment. Well and quietly dressed. Upper class. Restrained. Extremely good natural and trained manners. The woman (35) especially was charming in her admirable breeding. Evidently wealthy. They talked in such a low tone that, although the articulation was perfectly clear, one did not hear unless one listened. After about an hour the woman, reading Daily Mail, said: "What is a tympani solo?" The man made a gesture of non-comprehension. She passed him the paper. He read the passage and made a scarcely perceptible sign of ignorance. "Don't you know?" she asked quietly. He repeated the sign - would not speak (as they were not alone). Her glance seemed to say to him: "Pardon me asking you such an outlandish impossible thing." She took back the Daily Mail.
Additionally for February 18th., see 'Tales of adventure'
At Harold Snagge's yesterday and day before. Basil Lubbock (author of "Round the Horn before the Mast") told various of his adventures in two wars and in Klondyke and as a seaman.
Monday, 17 February 2014
Pisa. Duomo in the morning. As Ash Wednesday, service going on. Large audience of choirboys and ecoliers and a few schoolgirls and old people. Many guests of various ranks. The parson began to preach, got up full speed in about twenty seconds, and then never paused or even hesitated for a word for about half an hour. Then he sat down and wiped his face, and then, still sitting, talked to the congregation about a collection. When you were close by he was perfectly audible. twenty yards off you distinctly heard two voices, and still further off you heard three or four voices, a babel of voices, all furiously arguing or wrangling. It was a most curious echo effect.
|Hotel Miramar, Genoa|
Sunday, 16 February 2014
When I saw Miriam Clements as the Princess of Pannonia in "My Friend the Prince" at the Garrick tonight I realised that the story of Helen of Troy was potentially if not actually true. For the first few moments I was inclined to think the report of her extraordinary beauty somewhat exaggerated. Then I began to appreciate. Then shortly I could think of nothing else but her face and figure. She was dressed in a regal outdoor costume of blue velvet, with a large waving hat. Her dark hair, carried down from the forehead in a slight curve so as to cover most of the ear, half hid the most wonderful woman's face I have ever seen - not a face with regular classic features, but one finely, bafflingly irregular, full of lovely lines and firmly marked character, and the eyes with a strange, sad, imperious expression .... The sight of her gave me an understanding sympathy with the man who 'goes mad' about a woman, dishonours himself to possess her, and continues to worship her, let her be as contemptuous or as vile as she may. Previously, I had only a sneer for such madness.
Saturday, 15 February 2014
I was influenza-ish all day yesterday and on Saturday evening - until last night when it passed off. We dined on Saturday and yesterday at Sylvain's, and last night went into the Casino de Paris for an hour or so.
I heard again the story of the life, death and burial of the mysterious pretty Englishwoman from Liverpool who gave lessons in English to a constant stream of messieurs chic, and expired alone at 7 rue Breda after being robbed by a Spanish male friend.The arrival of the English relatives and all that! It seemed to me I might use up a lot of the stuff in "The History of Two Old Women", which it seems more and more likely will be my next serious book.
I went last night to see "Siegfried" at the Opera, and came away in a mood to swear that nothing should ever induce me to go to the Opera again in search of my own artistic pleasure. A tame performance without any distinction of any kind. "Siegfried" is an opera which needs the greatest tact in production. I can easily understand now, how at first Wagner's works were merely laughed at. If they were produced new today they would be laughed at. Their beauty seems to exist side-by-side with their Teutonic gawkiness. Some moments I enjoyed extremely despite all the drawbacks: still the Opera is a European scandal. It ought to be at Bucharest or Cairo.
So I spent an hour at the Moulin Rouge, picking up trifles and boring myself.
Friday, 14 February 2014
I went to the new Bal Tabarin last night. I think it is the only ball in Paris that is open every night. I saw the famous "La Gouloue" there perched on a high chair at the bar; a round, vulgar, rather merry face, looking more like a bonne than a dancer and a dompteuse des lions.
For more on the Bal Tabarin see 'A Paris night'
Thursday, 13 February 2014
J. B. Priestley's article on me in London Mercury for February.
After quoting from "The Authors Craft":
"With the single exception of Turgenev the great novelists of the world, according to my standards, have either ignored technique or have failed to understand it. What an error to suppose that the finest foreign novels show a better sense of form than the finest English novels!"
He goes on himself:
"What an error indeed! The fact is, of course, that the art of fiction as practised by the great novelists is technique, and any other 'technique' is either some inferior method or a mere catch-phrase of the pontifical critic."
This is a bit thick. It is easy to show where very many of the great novels fail in technique (Anna Karenina", e.g.) and where they could have been improved if the author had had the advantages of Flaubert, de Maupassant, or even Tchekoff. They are great in spite of carelessness, and their carelessness is often notorious.
I thank heaven I have always gone in for technique. And "The Pretty Lady" and "Riceyman Steps" are both, in my opinion, jolly well constructed and done books.
Additionally for February 13th., see 'Moved by music'
At the opening bars of "The Flying Dutchman" overture I felt those strange tickling sensations in the back which are the physical signs of aesthetic emotion. The mysterious effects of orchestral colour contrast dazed and dazzled Frank's willing ears till he existed simply as a "receiver" - receiver of a microphone or other phonetic instrument ...
The waves of sound swallowed him up, and at the end he emerged, like a courageous child from the surf of a summer sea, dripping wet, breathless, and enraptured.
Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Tayler and I went into "Mother Goose" pantomime at the Hippodrome last night. A melancholy interior not giving any effect of gaiety. Everything poor and second rate , except the grace of Isobel Elsom perhaps. Tedious! Tedious! Ugly! Yet I suppose this is just the sort of thing we used to admire at Drury lane in the far past. But the worst part of the affair is the drab, dull, or silly, or stupid audience - comprising many provincials. How they laughed at the feeblest jokes, and broke into uncontrollable applause before the end of the most ordinary stunts.
Additionally for February 12th., see 'Fascination'
Girl with voluptuous laugh, short and frequent. Half Scotch, half English. Age 24. very energetic, obstinate, and 'slow in the uptake'. Red cheeks. Good looking. Athletic. Shy - rather coy. Always the voluptuous laugh being heard, all over the hotel. A wanton laugh, most curious. Her voice also has a strange voluptuous quality. They say the Scotch women are femmes de temperament. This one must be, extremely so. And her athleticism must be an instinctive remede contre l'amour. Manners and deportment quite irreproachable, save for this eternal, rippling, startling laugh. It becomes more and more an obsession. One waits to hear it.
Tuesday, 11 February 2014
When I got up yesterday snow was falling thickly. naturally the snow turned to rain. The chances are ten to one that in a large city the snow will degenerate into rain. I took a young lady friend to lunch at the Tour d'Argent. Of course tradition compelled me to order duck, and of course the waiter gave me a slip with the ordinal number of the duck which was served to us. This piece of ritual seems to be fixed forever in the proceedings of this ancient, good and expensive restaurant. We were the only foreigners in the place. I threw my slip on the floor. The next moment the waiter picked it up and gave it to me again. Out of regard for his emotional loyalty to the restaurant I put it in my pocket.
After the usual trouble over taxis on a wet day in Paris we drove to Notre Dame. The damp cold in the huge and gloomy interior was intense. Hundreds of girls in thin white or half-white sat or stood shivering, waiting for something or other to begin. The mere spectacle of them made me turn up the collar of my overcoat. We went out full of fatal germs.
Later, in search of galoshes, we went up the hill to the Avenue de Clichy, where, at a certain famous restaurant, I had frequently eaten the glorious dish at which Anglo-Saxons turn up their noses: tripe. The Avenue de Clichy was as open as on a week-day. We entered a large busy shop containing millions of pairs of shoes. The first thing we saw was a range of satin shoes. "Oh!" said my friend. "I like the look of those, and how cheap they are! I couldn't get those in London ...." She bought a pair of satin shoes in something less than half an hour. She was about to leave the shop when I said: "Galoshes?" She thought she might as well get a pair, and did get a pair. The entire business did not take more than an hour!
Time for tea. We paid a call, on the chance of a free tea. The hostess was ill in bed. Still, we got a free tea and lots of talk. I then severed myself from mankind and went to my hotel and to bed. I dined later with other friends at that notorious establishment "The Ox on the Roof", where the excessive stridency of the orchestra lifts all conversation to a shout. Thence to a cinema to see "White Shadows", presented by the great French film firm, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer! At 11.20 the show finished. Outside, wind and rain, but not a taxi. I walked to my hotel in the wind and the rain. End of a Paris Sunday.
Monday, 10 February 2014
Came to London yesterday. First good, clear frost of the winter. very sharp. Lunch at the Reform. Pinker came. Methuen joined us about alleged coming 'revolution' in price of novels. It seems that of the Council of the Publishers' Association, who had suggested it, only four published novels at all, and none published novels on any scale. Characteristic. We told him that the scheme of different prices would never work, and coached him as to what he should say at the grand meeting on Monday.
Then to the W.A.R.C. offices. Difficulty with Lord X. as to my having put name of Queen Alexandra on posters for concert. I flatly disagreed with him, whereupon he said that I was logically right, and I drafted a letter for him to write to the Queen.
Additionally for February 10th., see 'A little licentiousness'
It contains a good idea - that of professional fornication for the love of god - and some excellent scenes. But it is notquite good enough, and much of its attraction depends on its extreme licentiousness. Indeed, you can see the author passing on from scene to scene, each exceeding the previous one in licentiousness, exactly in the manner of a mere bawdy book. I did not read by any means all the middle part of it. Still it is a book to examine.
Sunday, 9 February 2014
On Monday morning, in the bedroom and in the drawing-room I finished the first part of "Clayhanger", 42,000 words instead of 40,000. I wrote 2,000 words and was nearly going mad at lunchtime, but Webster and Marguerite humoured me.
This morning I walked out and ordered a pair of spectacles, and began to get my ideas in order for the second part of "Clayhanger" and did get them in order, rather well. On Monday I received a belated request from the Manchester Guardian to do a special telegraphic criticism of "Chantecler" for them. Of course I was here instead of in France, and it was too late. Nevertheless, even had everything been favourable, I doubt if I should have faced the unusualness and the worry of the task.
For more on Chantecler see 'Busy in Brighton'
Hubert Bland having based his articles in the Sunday Chronicle of 30 Jan. on the statement that "The Glimpse" and other books were banned by the Libraries, I wrote to Smith's, Mudies, and The Times B.C. to ask if this was so, and if so why? They all replied that it was absolutely untrue. Smith's said they had 500 copies of "The Glimpse" in circulation at the moment.
Additionally for February 9th., see 'Gathering more material'
We had to wait 5 minutes in Piccadilly for a 19 or 22 bus. (I took a chill here which much impaired my night's rest.) While waiting a very little oldish, spinsterish, thin misshapen, stooping woman came slowly along, carrying two large neat parcels, strapped together, with a string handle. She was neatly dressed, polished shoes, but misshapen and queer - probably about 45. Then in the bus we saw a respectable man kiss a little girl. She got out and left him.
So that we were rewarded for our bus ride.
Saturday, 8 February 2014
I half expected O'Connor tonight - kept the evening free for him - but he did not come. So after some hesitation I determined to spend it by myself, just to see how I got through with it. The restaurant was too full, and the service slow, and I didn't enjoy my dinner and I ate too much, and read the Tribune all through. I came home at 9.30, and read a little of Voltaire's "Candide" - I bought a nice edition of his "Contes" yesterday, half-bound, for two francs, and enjoyed it very much.
Then I meditated on the serial and got one or two notions. I was very gloomy at first, but got cheerful about eleven. I think I could accustom myself to reading in longer spells, and to spending evenings alone fairly comfortably if I tried.
I am reading George Moore's "The Lake". It is so smoothly written, and so calm and beautiful that I can enjoy reading it without even taking in the sense. Frequently I have read half a page without grasping the meaning at all, or trying to grasp it. It is a most curious novel, perhaps not really good, but certainly distinguished in a Yeats-y way.
Additionally for February 8th., see 'Clairvoyant at work'
He succeeded with my toothpick, in getting me to the Potteries, and into the office of the Staffordshire Knot or Sentinel, and described a man that might be either Goold or the editor of the Sentinel, and said that known or unknown to me, this man had greatly influenced me. He insisted on the word 'Zola'. 'Zola'. He said there was a message to tell me. I hadn't done my best work. I am morally sure he hadn't the least idea who I was. And even if he had, he didn't know the toothpick belonged to me, even if he knew that it was I who had brought it, which he might conceivably have done as it was the last thing he picked up off the tray. I made full notes.
Friday, 7 February 2014
I seemed to do nothing this morning except call on Marguerite and write letters, and just reflect for a few minutes on the first article of my second series for the Cosmopolitan. Lunch at the Reform with Ross and Chalmers Mitchell. Mitchell, aged 53, with his grey hairs, stuck to it that he had found a sound definition of poetry. I forget what it was. I told him he ought to know better at his age than to imagine that poetry could be defined.
Hedley Le Bas told me that my amateur article outlining a policy for the Liberal Party had made a deep impression on Gulland, the Chief Whip, who said it was the best article on the subject he had seen for years and he 'should show it to Asquith'. Majestic and impressive phrase, 'Show it to Asquith'.
I think that the war is now drawing to a close & I should be rather surprised if it didn't end this year. When you see the newspapers more occupied with social & political news of the war than with military news of the war, you may bet a great change has come over the scene. The food situation here is grave. In Germany & Austria it is appalling. The United States now have 400,000 men in France & the number is increasing all the time. Up to the present however, the U.S.A. have not displayed much talent for turning men into a coherent fighting machine. They are not conceited and they admit this.
Interesting letter from Pinker about Lawrence. He is Lawrence's agent.
He sent me a letter he had just received from Lawrence, to whit:
My dear Pinker,
I am sorry to tell you that I am coming to the last end of all my resources, as far as money goes. Do you think that Arnold Bennett or somebody like that, who is quite rich out of literature, would give me something to get along with? It is no use my trying to delude myself that I can make money in this world that is. But there is coming a big smash-up, after which my day will begin. And as the smash-up is not far off, so I am not very far from a walk-in ...
Do try and tempt a little money out of some rich, good-natured author for me will you - or I don't know what I shall do. And really, you know, one can't begin taking one's hat off to money, at this late hour of the day. I'd rather play a tin whistle in the street. What a lively world! ...
D. H. Lawrence
What a characteristic letter and how unpromising for the future. I admire Lawrence as an artist and have tried to promote his work. In 1915 May Sinclair and I were the only two writers who publicly protested against the banning of "The Rainbow". And even this year Galsworthy and I considered supporting a private edition of "Women in Love", which had not found a publisher. I am not prepared to keep Lawrence, nor to give him a lump sum, as I doubt if the latter would help him very much. I would willingly subscribe something towards a regular fund for Lawrence, say £1 a week for at least a year, if Pinker thought this would help, and if he could get other subscribers.
Additionally for February 7th., see 'Marauding Germans' -
On Saturday night great excitement about two men who, challenged by sentry of the ammunition park near the station at 7.15 p.m., had run away.
Thursday, 6 February 2014
Yesterday being wet I went over to Monte Carlo, and lost money, and was depressed by that and the weather, and more particularly by my lack of sense in playing with insufficient capital.
Early this morning I composed a limerick on that infernal and un-vanquishable bore, Mrs. Miller:
There was an old woman named Miller
Whose acquaintances wanted to kill her
When they put her in ice
She sniggered, "How nice!"
For nothing could possibly chill her.
I sent it to Eden Phillpotts by special messenger.
I wrote to the Wells's today as I would like them to come to see me in Paris. I said that the play I an writing with Phillpotts will be finished within the next few days, and I do not expect to stay here after the end of next week as my mother is disconcertingly ill in England. I hear they have another child.
I am now writing a humorous novel - I don't know why except that I wanted to. There was a humorous story of mine called "His Worship the Goosedriver" in the January Windsor. Any man who says it is not humorous is a fool & not a gentleman. When I have finished the current novel I have four others waiting their turn. I have instructed them to form a queue and wait quietly!
Additionally for February 6th., see'An impressive personality'
At another table there was a solitary old woman, fat and ugly and distinguished. I cried aloud at the sight of her entrance - she was so queer and so impressive. Afterwards in the lounge she had five men, not all old, in tow. She dominated them, talked like a man and laughed loudly, also like a man. We learned she was from Naples, and an author. I didn't catch the name clearly. Anyhow I had never heard it before. Not often do you see such an impressive personality.
Wednesday, 5 February 2014
I spent a lot of the morning at the top of the hotel garden, which I had never discovered before, after having been here over seven weeks. Marvellous view over Rome, of which I made a sketch. I thought about my new novel, had quite a lot of excellent ideas concerning it.
After siesta we took a taxi and drove along dusty and dull and very bad roads to Tre Fontane - the place where Paul's head jumped three times after being cut off, at each place producing a fountain. There are three churches, and if they locate the fountains, Paul's head must have very considerably bounded. Two churches were open, both very poor and odd and neglected. In fact - no interest at all - yet it is a place one is supposed to go to!
Additionally for February 5th., see 'An intoxicating day'
The ski-ers started, under guidance of the Professor, and I and Peter (Huxley's dog) kept near them in the sleigh. We met every now and then, and I saw several fine runs and several falls. Dorothy was doing very well. They were all enjoying themselves enormously. I got home first. Dorothy said it was the finest day she had ever had in all her life. Certainly a most marvellous day, even for me, with air, sunshine, superb landscapes, and a universal clarity.
Tuesday, 4 February 2014
I went to 47 Bedford square yesterday morning to see Roscoe, Secretary of Teachers' Registration Council. A downright midlander with traces of accent. He gave me information for articles on education. The whole feel of 47 is now changed - for the better. Clearer and brighter everywhere.
Lunch at the Reform. I saw Methuen who said that the Publishers' Association had unanimously decided to issue novels at net prices, and at prices varying according to length - from 4s. 6d. net to 7s. 6d. net. I don't think it will work at 7s. 6d. net anyhow.
Two committee meetings at W.A.R.C. Lady Paget came over half an hour late. She is a master-woman, and well-accustomed to command. Everyone says she is an unrivalled 'beggar'. She enunciated her principles of begging, ruthlessly. They were excellent. She is now starting out to collect a million for blind soldiers. If she gets £5,000 from Our Caledonian Market Show I shall be far more than satisfied.
Additionally for February 4th., see 'Strolling about'
Yesterday, walking on the Thames Embankment near Grosvenor Road, met Sidney Webb and his wife. Beautiful morning. they were quite happy strolling along. Of course I stopped them.