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


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Friday, 15 December 2017

Captivated

Thursday, December 15tth., Rue de Calais, Paris.

I dined at Schwob's. Moreno had returned. She was dressed in black with gold jewellery, and was more captivating than ever. I immediately forgot her capriciousness and my small grievances against her. She still remains without any pose; and she still constantly says things of the most extraordinary penetration and delicacy. I think I may be in love, or at least in lust! Interesting though that however fascinating a woman may be intellectually, it is the physical attractiveness that makes the difference between comradeship and captivation. For me it is something about the eyes; they must be dark and inviting. Schwob is a lucky man.

Image result for "Place Blanche" parisRaphael, the Paris correspondent of the Referee and the Sketch was invited to meet me. A pronouncedly Jewish face. Very polite and pleasant. We went in Moreno's car to the Bouffes to see du Bois's "Rabelais". The house was not half full. Moreno left at 10, creeping silently out of the box, and then having a noisy accident with the door, because she had a reciting engagement at Versailles. At the end of the second act Schwob said he couldn't stand any more. I couldn't either, and as Raphael had already seen the piece we left. Raphael and I sat in a cafe in the Place Blanche till 12.30 or more talking about London journalism and serializing.





Thursday, 14 December 2017

Philosophising

Thursday, December 14th., Cadogan Square, London.

The Bible is full of mysticism, of which it is probably the finest treasury in existence, east or west. To my mind the most pregnant mystical exhortation ever written is: "Be still, and know that I am God." (46th psalm) The first two words ought to be stessed and repeated thrice. The more one reads the Bible the more one perceives that it is permeated through and through with purely mystical emotion. Many religious people, and many readers of the Bible, seem to be insensible to mysticism, and are thus deprived of what is perhaps the deepest source of private comfort. Strange thoughts for an avowed atheist!

i was thinking about how this journal has changed over the years. When I started, aged about thirty, I was writing as an exercise in self-discipline, to record things that had interested or occurred to me, and with no thought that what I was writing would be read by others. Now it is different. Has this changed what I write? Of course it has. With the best will in the world I now have my eyes on a potential readership as I write and am more or less consciously trying to make it interesting without being too contentious. To be honest i think it has become anodyne. When I look back to my early journals, they were full of the essence of life. Pity.

1913 Der Tod in Venedig Broschur.jpgI finished reading "Death in Venice" by Thomas Mann yesterday. To be honest I found it hard going at first, but later in the book I started to see why Mann had spent so much time establishing the character of von Aschenbach. It seems to me that there are at least two levels to the story (setting aside classical allusions): the essential fragility of the main character who has consciously and consistently built an aesthetic identity, and sees it collapse dramatically; an allegory about the European character, distinguishing south from north, showing the seductive and destructive potential of the former. The most poignant scene for me was the one where von Aschenbach allows himself to be 'made up' by the hotel barber in a vain attempt to regain youth; so painful it was hard to read. Overall a moving and beautifully written short novel.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Americans

Wednesday, December 13th., Cadogan Square, London.

Though I have sinned in that way myself quite a number of times in the last twenty years, I still object to authors writing prefaces, forewords, or introductions to the books of other (living) authors. A book should not be led into the ring like a performing horse at the circus. Nevertheless I do take notice of prefaces etc. The names of certain introducers would inhibit me from ever opening a book introduced by them. The names of other introducers, on the contrary, fascinate me as a snake is (falsely) reported to fascinate a bird.

T.S. Eliot has recently prefaced a book called "This American World" by Edgar Mowrer. Mr. Eliot is American, but probably less so than any American now on earth. Henry James was less American than Mr. Eliot, but carried his Europeanisation to excess. He was more European than Europeans. To be more royalist than the king implies a lack of tact.

Image result for mowrer american worldMr. Eliot is a fine poet and also a fine critic, if dry and over-dispassionate. There must be something in any book that he ceremonially sponsors. And there is a great deal in "This American World". Indeed it is one of the most enlightening and frankest books on American psychology that I have ever read; and, apart from a few too perky brightnesses, it is well written. I may say that if a European author of reputation had said half as much as Mr. Mowrer says in criticism of the American mind, international complications would have quickly ensued. Mr. Mowrer prophesies that American ideals will ultimately rule the entire world. I think he may be right.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Brutish indulgence

Tuesday, December 12th., Cadogan Square, London.

If a set of young men from the East End or from some provincial centre of Association football had gone in mass formation to Twickenham football ground last Monday, and by force and rowdyism rendered impossible the playing of the inter-Varsity match, there would have been a loud outcry in the papers, and in all polite circles, against their ill-mannered lawlessness. The police courts would have been densely populated next morning, and the non-payment of fines imposed would have ended in many doses of imprisonment.

Yet such conduct would have been no worse than the conduct, on that same day, of undergraduates from our ancient universities, which conduct began with processions on the tops of dining tables in fashionable restaurants and ended in the breaking up of a performance in at least one West End theatre. And which conduct occupied only a few inches of space in the papers and was forgotten by an enlightened public in less than twenty four hours. It was generally understood that university rowdyism in London had been finished for ever by certain outrageous destructive antics last year. Not so.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If years of education at public schools and universities result in exhibitions of loutish violence which have no equal in Great Britain, what are we to think of the real value of such education? Whatever young men (and increasingly young women) are taught at universities, they are not effectively taught either decency or good manners, or self-control, or respect for the elementary social rights of others. They apparently are taught to behave like savages, and to be proud of it. The immediate cause of these disgraces is of course simple drunkenness, senseless and brutish indulgence in alcohol. The excuse offered for the youths is that they are young. Which plainly implies a theory that we ought not to expect citizens to be decent, civilised and law-abiding until they have reached the age of at least twenty one. Is this a tenable theory?

It is the sheer hypocrisy which annoys me most. We live in a country which is deeply divided along class lines, and that division is maintained by the organs of government, religion and the press. The 'entitled' have the best of everything, and the rest do what they can with the crumbs. Surely it would not be unreasonable to expect the toffs to demonstrate their superiority by behaving decently? I don't advocate revolution but just occasionally I wish that something would upset the status quo.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Fallen heroes

Saturday, December 11th., 12B George Street, London.

Yesterday lunch with Thomas Vaughan, partner in god knows how many theatres, Marguerite and Gilbert Miller also. This lunch must have cost Tommy £10. The beefsteak was a failure.

Last night a dinner, organised by Albert Rutherston to Nigel Playfair, to mark his departure to the U.S.A. to produce "The Beggar's Opera" there. Milne was in the chair and made a brilliant sort of speech full of jokes proposing Nigel's health. The speeches were too few, and too short, and after them there was an anticlimax.

This morning at 12.30 I finished the writing of my first film. I have temporarily called it "The Wedding Dress". It has taken 25 days, out of which I was ill on 7 days and did nothing whatever. I should estimate that the MS is about 10,000 words. I heard recently that Shaw had received a film offer of £10,000 per original film, he to furnish two films a year. I was told that he intended to accept. I would. It strikes me that films may be the future for writers who are less concerned for their artistic integrity and more for their bank balance. That said, it is early days; who can say whether, in the future as the medium develops, films will not be seen as works of art in their own right.

I am taking an interest in a scheme to help disabled soldiers and am trying to involve Lord Rothermere. I am a sort of intermediary on behalf of Reeves-Smith, the managing director of the Savoy Company, and Alfred Scott and his wife. If I can persuade the Mirror (through Rothermere) to get involved then the prospects are good. Since the war ended I have been trying off and on to raise the public's awareness of the difficulties faced by disabled ex-soldiers. They are thrown on the world not because the state has done all it can or ought to do for them, but because the army has no further use for them. After being called heroes in the newspapers they are dismissed from the service of the state while the nation is still in their debt.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Intimations of mortality

Sunday, December 9th., 97, Chiltern Court, London.

Image result for chiltern court londonI like it here. I have been sleeping better than I have for ages. Unfortunately the same can't be said for Dorothy. She claims that vibrations from the underground (we are above Baker Street station) are disturbing her at night. She told Frank Swinnerton that the vibrations "go right up my rectum". Interesting turn of phrase. I regret to say that, in my opinion, she is oversensitive; highly strung. To be honest it is getting on my nerves. She was the one who spotted this flat in the first place, and now she wants to move. Something is being done here every day to make the place more to our liking, but things always remain to be done. I hesitate to estimate the cost. I've only had one or two bills yet. The affair is like a diarrhoea of money.


I have been thinking about mortality and Prospero's words in Act 5 of "The Tempest" came to mind:

Go quick away: the story of my life

And the particular accidents gone by

Since I came to this isle. And in the morn

I’ll bring you to your ship and so to Naples...
And thence retire me to my Milan, where

Every third thought shall be my grave.

I had to look it up to get the words right. But they speak to me now, in my sixties, as never before. How quickly my life seems to have passed. And I find myself thinking often about death. Not in a self-pitying, negative sort of way; I don't fear death, it is the dying that bothers me a bit. I feel that I could face death with equanimity if only I could be sure that it would be pretty quick. It is the thought of steady decline, failing health, brain softening and eventual dependance that upsets me when I think about it. My intention is to take poison when I feel the time is right, but how to judge? And should I tell my family? I have told them of my intention but I'm not sure they believe it. The question is whether or not I should tell them the time has come, or just do it. I think overall the latter is best.

Last week I was at Ethel Sands' and had a great pow-wow with Virginia Woolf. Other guests held their breath to listen to us. Virginia is alright (as high-brows go!). She taunted me with believing her to be 'refined'. Well, if she isn't refined then I don't know who is.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Justice dispensed

Thursday, December 9th., 179 Waterloo Road, Burslem.


Yesterday I sat with Dawson and Cartledge on the magistrates bench. I made some notes. One hopeless case showing the criminality of the criminal system. A woman who had been in and out of prison since 1876 (when I was nine!), and she got another month. Probably she is inured to the system by now and really knows nothing else, but surely something could have been done all those years ago to divert her from this waste of a life. No doubt drink has become a factor and yet I feel confident that it is a consequence, not a cause. If someone took the trouble to really dig into her past, the circumstances of her birth and childhood, I would bet that the odds were stacked against her from the start.

I didn't really want to sit up on the bench. The body of the court would have been fine for me, if not better, but Dawson insisted and he is my primary source of information for "Clayhanger". He is a decent man, and so seems Cartledge, but how pompous and self-righteous they appear when hearing the cases and doling out punishments. It is not for me. Of course the Sentinel reported that I had been on the bench. They would.

Image result for "Grand Theatre" Hanley historyI was at the dentist on Tuesday and now have a gold filling. The gold shines in my mouth. I suppose I will get used to it. I am picking up a lot of useful material and getting ideas. I went to the Grand after dinner yesterday and was profoundly struck by all sorts of things but especially the clog dancing. Its significance had never occurred to me before. I thionk I could do something on it for the Nation. And maybe I could work somthing into "Clayhanger". Towards the end I came across Warwick Savage and walked home with him. This was a pity because I had got into an extraordinary vein of 'second sight'. I perceived whole chapters. Of all the stuff I made sufficient notes.

Enthusiastic letter from Lee Matthews about the play. Let us hope that his enthusiasm is well founded.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Jaegerish

Image result for J C Squire "new statesman"Monday, December 8th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

I finished the second yachting article for the Century on Friday afternoon. Saturday morning je bricolais, arranging books etc. Enjoyable. Something I don't do often enough. There are few things in life more satisfying than arranging one's books.

J.C. Squire came on Saturday. Long hair, Jaegerishly dressed. But sound, competent, honest in argument. He was highly in favour of Webbs etc., and said the New Statesman was going on excellently, as to finance. He is from a wealthy background, but joined the Social Democratic Foundation which had been led by figures like Eleanor Marx. He met his wife through the SDF. At the time New Statesman was launched, he was a working literary journalist, and he became its first literary editor. He could not appreciate Tailhade's verse. Left this morning. Very Jaegerish.

To day I went to Dereham in Norfolk to take possession of a Fitzroy barometer I had ordered from a scientific instrument maker there. I went myself, on invitation, so as to see over the factory, and it was extremely interesting. All the parts of the barometer are made there, and there is a 'shop' for each part of the process - wood, brass, glass, packing etc. The general manager told me he had started as a civil engineer but had been in the scientific instrument business for over 30 years. Clearly very proud of the standard of workmanship in his factory. And quite right to be. It is a beautiful instrument as well as being useful. I shall enjoy checking it every day when I am home.


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Newspapers

Image result for beaverbrook express
Beaverbrook
Thursday, December 7th., Cadogan Square, London.

Max recently bought the Evening Standard and I have hopes that he will make something of it. I wrote recently offering him a few suggestions. But what concerns me at the moment is the Express and I am gathering my thoughts to write about that.

The fact is that I can't understand the paper's current policy, nor do I know anybody who can. It seems that the editorship (Max?) have conceived two policies, and haven't chosen between them. No doubt Max would say they are not mutually exclusive, and perhaps they are not, but I doubt that it is politic to run two war-cries side by side. They have an 'Imperial' policy and an 'anti-labour' policy and in order to back the latter they encourage voters in certain circumstances to vote against the former. Quite possibly there is a third unstated policy which is to bring down Baldwin at any cost.

I don't think that the Express has yet justified its Imperial policy. For example they have not disposed of the British criticism that the colonies want something for nothing, or something positive in exchange for something highly problematical. Nor have they answered the criticism that Colonial preference will still the retail price of goods affected by it just as high as if there were no Colonial preference. Nor have they done anything to soften the British impression (doubtless false) that the colonies are a damned grasping lot of coves.

I may also mention headlines. Considering that they have an immense psychological effect I think the Express should be handling its headlines better than it has been of late. As for the Daily Mail, I can remember in the popular press no such sustained exhibition of dishonest fatuity as it has given to the world during the last fortnight.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

On Conrad

Sunday, December 5th., Victoria Grove, London.

Last night I finished my second book, "The Art of Journalism for Women". I was 48 hours ahead of contract time. Unluckily Lane the other day reminded me that I had offered it to him some months ago. I still have not had a formal contract from him though which is disappointing.

This afternoon, reading in the New Review (which this month ceases to exist) the conclusion of Joseph Conrad's superb book "The Nigger of the Narcissus", I had a mind to go on at once with my Staffordshire novel, treating it in the Conrad manner, which after all is my own, on a grander scale. Wells first pointed out Conrad to me. I remember I got his first book, "Almayer's Folly" to review with a batch of others from Unwin, and feeling at the time rather bored I simply didn't read it at all. I have read it since and it is wonderful - how that man captures the atmosphere of the jungle river and its insidious effect on white men living there. Where did he pick up that style and that way he has of gathering up a general impression and flinging it at you? Not only his style, but his attitude, affected me deeply. He is so consciously an artist, or perhaps it just comes naturally to him. Some pages of "The Nigger" are exquisite in the extraordinary management of colour they display, though he needs to curb his voracity for adjectives.

I greatly admire the writing of George Moore. If George Moore had been a South Sea trader and had learned the grammar etc., he would have treated the sea as Conrad treats it. I dare say this opinion of mine would sound odd if voiced, but it is profoundly true, and, for me, throws light on both men.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Walkers

Thursday, December 4th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

On Tuesday Arthur L. Humphreys came up to lunch, and to inspect my books with a view to a catalogue. he is a bookseller who also publishes books on an occasional basis. He has been one of the proprietors of Hatchards since about 1890. He told us how he had walked from London to Lands End, and from London to Edinburgh, at 37 miles a day. He didn't say why.

We took him to Landermere, Kirby-le-Soken, Walton and Frinton. He seemed determined to find out about the history of Comarques. Often in France but incapable of speaking French with any fluency. He said that he thought the novels of today immensely superior to those of 20 years ago. He said that at Christmas, numbers of people made up their minds to buy "Whitaker" and one other book. The other book might be a volume of devotional verse. He said that novels more and more dominated the book market, which is of some comfort to me.

Image result for cambridge university botanic garden history
Cambridge University Botanical Garden
Wednesday and today we were in Cambridge and its environs. Students in the streets and punting on the river even though it was very cold. We strolled about the Botanical Garden spending most of our time in the glasshouses which were warm. Each is devoted to a different climatic area and maintained at the appropriate temperature and humidity. Very interesting.

Image result for history of fitzwilliam museum cambridge
Fitzwilliam Museum
Also visited the nearby Fitzwilliam Museum, widely regarded as the finest small museum in Europe. I can see why. Great variety of exhibited material including artworks. Excellent collection of ceramics. I could have spent the day browsing but time was short. Sufficient for an impression only. Dined at Madingley Hall. This morning we had the opportunity to visit an area of original fenland. Rather bleak at this time of year but good to see how the majority of the east of the country must have been pre-Romans. Lot of water fowl. Good to stretch the legs though muddy underfoot.



Sunday, 3 December 2017

Hopes and ideas

Tuesday, December 3rd., Les Sablons.

Idea for a funny story about a cat. The Devereux's cat. Each of the three women swears it belongs to her. Two of them have written to thank me for looking after her cat. In the story some man might draw a great advantage by flattering three different owners of the same cat.

Another idea, very vague, from an article by Lenotre ("Vieilles Maisons. vieux papiers") in tonight's Temps, showing how the menage Tison gradually turned right round and ended by favouring the royal family in the Temple, and how Tison came even to risking his life in order to create a few elusive hopes for Marie Antoinette. I ought really to keep the article. I will. The whole thing transferred onto another plane, it might be made very moving. But some historical novelist ought to treat it exactly as it is.

I finished the first part of "The Old Wives' Tale" here in Paris on Friday afternoon. It is good. I intend to continue in the same 'high' vein and will produce a novel worthy of me.

I seem to have practically lost all my ambitions except the ambition to be allowed to work quietly. This remarkable phenomenon coincides with my marriage, but I do not honestly think the two things are connected, as it has been 'coming on' for a year. I find that I can make all the money I want and need, and, as my mother always said, "enough is as good as a feast". Now that I am no longer alone you won't catch me living any more in Paris. I am giving up my flat there, although it is only nine months since I finished installing myself in it. And at considerable expense. I don't know anything about the 'country' and I never shall, but I enjoy being in it, though I can't even name the trees.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Poetry or prose?

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

I had a long talk yesterday afternoon with the mother of a girl graduate at Cambridge and of a boy high up in a public school. In such conversations one does get at a few facts. Both girl and boy have somewhat unusual intelligence, but they are young people with the usual instincts of youth, in no way abnormal, precious or priggish.

It appears that in these circles, male youth prefers the reading of plays to the reading of novels. I have heard the same news from publishers. I cannot imagine why the intelligently curious should prefer plays to novels, seeing that novels on the average are immensely superior in quality to plays. Still there you are. Facts are facts. And male youth does read fiction too. And in fiction it puts D.H. Lawrence first and the rest nowhere. It does not seem to read a lot of verse. In fact it seems to me that not much verse is read. Why has it declined so in popularity?

I well know that I do not read enough verse, especially classical English verse. I wish I read more but I seldom seem to be able to find the time. This is only an excuse, I admit. In fact I don't read much verse because at heart I prefer to read prose. When I do read classical poetry I do so for an ulterior purpose - because I find that if I am writing a novel or a story, the finest English verse has the capacity to lift me up out of the rut of composition, and set me, and my work, on a higher plane. In other words it inspires. This may not be the very best compliment to our poets, but it is a pretty good compliment all the same.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Not skating

Wednesday, November 30th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

skating rinkI met Emile Martin by appointment at the Palais de Glace, Champs Elysee, yesterday. A large circular place: curiously ghostly effect of the electric light on the powdery surface of the ice. Apparently the site used to be the setting for occasional bullfights, and was remodelled for this new recreation in 1890. My first visit. It is now evidently the resort of high class cocottes, rastas, and rich wastrels. Some of the women were excessively chic. I enjoyed observing them.


Image result for donnay guitry brandes
Martha Brandes in L'Escalade
I spent most of the day yesterday searching for an idea to take the concert chapter of my novel "Sacred and Profane Love" forward. I found it towards evening. Then I went to "L'Escalade" by Maurice Donnay, at the Renaissance. This is quite a minor piece with insufficient material, and what material there is not too well arranged. It is surprising to me how a man like Donnay could let such a work go out of the manufactory. Guitry and Brandes were magnificent, full of distinction; Guitry's son had also his father's distinction. It must be a source of grave anxiety to fathers how their sons will turn out. Especially if the father is himself distinguished. How often I have noticed that sons who take up the same career as their father prove to be lesser figures.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Middle age lament

Wednesday, November 29th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

I have hardly done any work since I came back from Dublin in September. Quite why, I don't know. I still seem to be busy, but not the sort of busyness that brings in money. Marguerite is spending at a good rate, especially on clothes. I feel a bit discontented, out of sorts, in need of a change. But no change in prospect. Of course I have now reached the age of fifty which is something of a milestone, and it is getting dark so early, and feel I would be happier were I single again. A middle-aged man's lament.

Image result for swinnerton nocturneI have been reading Swinnerton's "Nocturne". Good. Perhaps very good. Only a short novel and all set in the course of a few hours, with only five characters. No plot as such, Swinnerton's intention being to 'get inside' the heads of his characters. And he succeeds pretty well. The setting is a 'respectable' working class home somewhere in London where live two sisters and their father who is more or less helpless, needing constant care. Both sisters are desperate for love and for some sort of escape from their dreary existence. Jenny, the younger, is a romantic, sharply intelligent, unpredictable, a dreamer. Emmy, the elder, is conventional, unimaginative, caring, with a deep reservoir of love for the right man if she can find him. By the end, Emmy is on the road to happiness, whilst Jenny looks likely to continue to be dissatisfied.

I can't quite decide whether this would have been better edited to become a short story, or extended to a normal size novel. Probably the latter had I been dealing with it. There is very little back story which could, I think, have been introduced to advantage. There is also very little description of the sisters' home. I could have made a lot of that. Swinnerton is excellent in describing a visit to a music hall, and could have done more to flesh out the context of the sisters' lives. Also, we get privileged access to the characters thoughts but not so much about how their thoughts and emotions express themselves in nuances of behaviour; the sort of thing that Conrad is a master of. I enjoyed the read. It could reasonably be described as a tour de force, and I think it will sell well.

Image result for lansdowne peace letterIn the Telegraph today was a letter from Lord Lansdowne calling for a re-think on the possibility of a negotiated peace with Germany. A brave gesture by a man who has been Foreign Secretary, and therefore should be heeded. But I have no doubt that there will be a predictable response tomorrow, with the word 'traitor' to the fore. Essentially Lansdowne argues that the allies should restate their war aims in an attempt to bring about peace before the prolongation of the war leads to the ruin of the civilized world. I agree completely, but I have no intention of saying so in public. If pressed I shall be non-commital.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

War news

Saturday, November 28th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

I met Colonel Tabor (of Cyclists) in the road yesterday. He said that the War Office was apparently taking quite seriously the danger of a raid. He said that many officers were now having a few days leave, and that one had breakfasted in the trenches and dined at his club in London. I imagine that is apocryphal but it does bring home the bizarre situation that there is a war going on just over the horizon. I think it is only a matter of time before someone in the south east claims to have heard the guns firing. On Thursday 700 sailors were killed when HMS Bulwark blew up in the harbour at Sheerness, Kent. How many more will die before this is all over I wonder?

The Colchester road is being mined just east of the point where the Tendring road branches off. Four or six soldiers digging holes on either side of the road (4 in all) about 4 feet cube. The bridge next to the railway station is also being mined. Twelve engineers in the village and more to come.

I had run out of book space and have had some new shelves made for a particular wall in my study, to my own design. Spent some time last evening arranging the books. Inevitably I became involved in reading and lost all track of time. At one point I was browsing in my set of "The Yellow Book" and unexpectedly came upon my own story "A Letter Home" in Volume VI. I read it with genuine pleasure.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Theatre things

Sunday, November 27th., Cadogan Square, London.

Image result for Strawberry house chiswick mall
Strawberry House
We lunched at Norman Wilkinson's. He lives alone at Strawberry House, Chiswick Mall. Very nice and tasteful. Several old harpsichords and similar instruments, in perfect order, on which he plays nicely. He is charming, sensible and has taste. A pleasure to spend time with an 'old school' sort. So different from some of the flashy stage types one is forced into company with. I am inclined to think that if it were not for Dorothy's continuing infatuation with all things theatre I might put it all behind me. Feeling a bit dissatisfied with life generally - probably presages some digestive disorder. I don't seem to have much time for myself. Busier than ever but not doing things I particularly want to do. Of course I have free will and could decline some invitations but one becomes involved in a social round and I have to think about Dorothy as well as myself. I envy Wilkinson who seems to lead a life of quiet contentment. But perhaps he envies me. Strange world!

We dined at the Ivy, and saw there the St. John Ervines, Hutchinsons, Lytton Strachey, the Basil Deans, etc., etc.Then to the first night of the Sitwell entertainment, "First Class Passengers Only", at the Arts Theatre Club. Packed. Some part amusing. More parts tedious. Some fine acting. Some rotten. It was a sort of Revue in backchat.

"Mr. Prohack" starring Charles Laughton seems to be doing well at the Court. Better than I expected at least.






Saturday, 25 November 2017

Literary exchange

Saturday, November 25th., Villa des Nefliers.

I am engaged in an exchange by letter with Edward Garnett, reviewer for the Nation. His recent review of "The Old Wives' Tale" was as good as I could wish for but I took exception to his throwaway remark that in previous books I "frittered myself away in pleasing the fourth-rate tastes of Philistia". Insufferable elitism! So what if I write some books that have a more 'popular' audience in mind? No doubt they lack Garnett's sophisticated taste, but they are readers too and why should I not, as a professional author, address them? As long as I write as well as I can it seems to me not to matter much if not everything is great literature. He also seemed to imply that my only effective subject is The Five Towns.

I asked him if he had read "A Great Man" or "Buried Alive", both of which are set elsewhere and are by no means fourth rate. In fairness he replied to say that he may have overdone the 'Philistia' business. He had in mind "The Grand Babylon Hotel". Admittedly that is a lark, but it is a well written lark. He says he has reviewed "A Great Man" but has not read "Buried Alive". I also mentioned "Whom God Hath Joined" which I still consider to be under-rated .

I don't know why this sort of thing gets under my skin. The high-brows do cause me to see red. Might there be an element of provincial inferiority complex?

Friday, 24 November 2017

Getting about

Thursday, November 24th., Cadogan Square, London.

Image result for welsh miners 1927 cookChores this morning after some letter writing. I had some trouble concentrating as my mind kept turning to the unemployed miners who arrived in London yesterday having walked 180 miles from the Rhondda Valley. Baldwin refused to meet them. Later there was a rally in Trafalgar Square - they marched to the Square carrying lighted lamps, knapsacks and mugs, and supported by brass and fife bands. I wish had had been there to see it. Apparently Arthur Cook, Secretary of the Miners' Federation, told them that "unless the government faces up to the problem of unemployment, a revolutionary situation will be created in this country which no leader will be able to withstand." Strong words for strong men but unlikely to move Baldwin who has probably never seen a mine. I don't suppose anything will come of it. The people in this country are too docile and well fed.


Image result for collier clytemnestraThis afternoon I took D. to the Guildhall Art Gallery which had been recommended to me. Mainly Victorian paintings but some good quality works. I was particularly struck by John Collier's "Clytemnestra". In fact I kept going back to look at it again. Highly dramatic. Tells the whole story in one unforgettable image. Collier has made her look proud, immensely strong and slightly deranged all at the same time. Blood dripping off the axe is a nice touch. And behind her is a mysterious light which draws the observer into the murder room in imagination. You feel as if Agamemnon is lying there, just out of your sight. Worth the visit just for that as far as I was concerned. D. was less impressed than me.


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Lord Birkenhead
Went to the Savoy this evening for "The Other Club" dinner in the Pinafore Room. 15 minutes late which is regarded as rather bad form. Alfred Mason in the chair. I sat near to Lutyens, Jos Wedgwood, Hamar Greenwood, Birkenhead, William Berry and Anthony Hope. I had some sparring with Birkenhead, rather loud and abusive, but good natured. However, I could be just as abusive as he could. It was Birkenhead (F.E. Smith as he was then) who founded the club with Churchill. They put it about that it was because the old clubs would not accept them. Too brash. I don't believe it myself - they are both arch self-publicists. Supposed to be a limit on the number of politician members, but it seems to have been forgotten. I should have asked Birkenhead if he had spoken at the rally. He would have had apoplexy.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Dark clouds

Monday, November 23rd., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Sisters Campion dined here Saturday. They explained that there were only 60 soldiers at Frinton, and that they had a tremendous lot done for them in the way of entertainment and comforts. They said however, disapprovingly, that after quitting the social club at night - cocoa etc. - the men could go to their canteen and get drunk. Seemed surprised by this revelation of men's character. There is a continuing sense of unreality about the war. I wonder how long 'entertainment and comforts' will be maintained? Fewer people are saying: "It will be all over by Christmas". In fact I don't think I have heard anybody say it recently. News that the Germans are advancing rapidly east into Poland as well. They are a formidable enemy and I fear that things will get worse before they get better.

I was almost laid up with a liver attack this weekend. Possibly a reaction in part to my trip to the Potteries. No more news about my mother. I don't think it can be much longer.

We were at Mrs. Tollinton's in Tendring for tea. Cold upstairs room with bedroom grate - a bedroom used as a secondary drawing room. I got near the morsel of fire. Mrs. Tollinton mere, a widow with cap. The wife's sister in black, with a nervous habit of shrugging her shoulders as if in amiable protest or agreement with a protest. or a humorous comment. Though there wasn't much humour abroad. Tollinton himself a very learned man who has this year published "Clement of Alexandria: A Study in Christian Liberalism". I am told that the work deals with Clement, his times and contemporaries; with his views on Paganism, Marriage, and Property; on the Logos, the Incarnation, and Gnosticism; on the Church, the Sacraments, and the Scriptures. I am glad to say that I was not asked for any opinion on it, nor even if I had read it at all. Probably the assumption was made that the answer would be negative in either case.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Forest sounds

Tuesday, November 22nd., Les Sablons, near Moret.

Image result for moret france postcards oldYesterday I finished the second act of "An Angel Unawares". The third will be very easy to do. So today I began to plan out in detail the first part of "Sacred and Profane Love". The first part is going to be entirely magnificent. I outlined the plot to Davray. I don't think he was very struck by it, and he asked whether the British public would stand it. I think he has the idea that the British will be shocked by the heroine 'giving' herself to the pianist, whereas the French would, of course, take it in their stride. However from a crude outline he had nothing upon which to judge.

I walked all about Moret this morning, and got somewhat lost in the forest this afternoon. Then I read Swinburne.


I noticed in the forest yesterday afternoon that the noise of the wind in the branches was indeed like the noise of the sea; but always distant; the noise never seemed to be near me. I got lost once and took one path after another aimlessly until it occurred to me to steer by the sun. The moonrise was magnificent, and the weather became frosty. I noticed how large the moon seemed, just having risen. Why should it look bigger when it is low in the sky compared to near the zenith? It is the same distance away.

After leaving Davray's at 10 o'clock I went as far as the forest again, but the diverging avenues of trees did not produce the effect I had hoped for; there was too much gloom.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Interesting people

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

First night of Quintero's play "100 Years Old" at Hammersmith. Lovely 1st. Act. Other acts not so good. I have a feeling that it is not going to be a success.

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Anna May Wong
Then Dorothy, Sissie, Tertia and I went to Dorothy Warren's and Philip Trotter's pre-nuptial supper at Boulestin's. About 200 I should think. Mainly Bloomsbury high-brows of course. I sat next to Lady Raleigh, and opposite the betrothed couple. Anna May Wong and Howard Baker there also. I must say that Anna May Wong is rather excitingly exotic. Apparently she has come to Europe because she was restricted to minor acting parts in Hollywood; a sort of unofficial colour bar. She hopes to do better here . I think she will. The only question really is whether the film people can capture her effortless sensuality. I hope to see more of her.

I was talking to James B. who I first met at the ministry. He's not there now. He is vrey interested in archaeology, and particularly the Romans. His idea is that there is a lot more Roman remains waiting to be discovered in this country. The thing is that most places which were Roman population centres are now built-up and so the remains are buried. He makes a point of frequenting sites where building work is going on in the hope of discoveries. So far, not very much. He has the idea that the original site of London, which the Romans called Londinium, would have had an amphitheatre and he is trying to work out where it would have been. Maybe somewhere near the Guildhall in the City is his best guess, but I don't think they will let him dig up the Guildhall on the off-chance of archaeological finds.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

A sick-room visit

Thursday, November 19th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

On Wednesday afternoon I went to Burslem to see my mother who is reported to be past hope. I saw her at 8 p.m. and remained alone with her for about half an hour. She looked very small, especially her head in the hollow of the pillows. The outlines of her face very sharp; hectic cheeks; breathed with her mouth open, and much rumour of breath in her body; her nose seemed more hooked. Had, in fact, become hooked. Scanty hair. She had a very weak self-pitying voice, but with sudden birsts of strong voice, imperative and flinging out of arms. She still had a great deal of strength. She forgot most times in the middle of a sentence, and it took her a long time to recall.

She was very glad to see me and held my hand all the time under the bedclothes. She spoke of the most trifling things as if tremendously important. She was seldom fully conscious and often dozed and then woke up with a start. She had no pain but often muttered in anguish: "What am I to do? What am I to do?". Amid tossed bedclothes you could see numbers on corners of blankets. On medicine table siphon, saucer, spoon, large soap-dish, brass flower bowl (empty). The gas (very bad burner) screened by a contraption of Family Bible, some wooden thing, and a newspaper. It wasn't level. She had it altered. Said it annoyed her terribly. Gas stove burning. Temperature barely 60. Damp chill penetrating my legs. The clock had a very light, delicate, striking sound. Trams and buses did not disturb her though sometimes they made talking difficult.

Round-topped panels of wardrobe. She wanted to be satisfied that her purse was on a particular tray of the wardrobe. Apparently she has arterial sclerosis and patchy congestion of the lungs. Her condition was very distressing (though less so than my father's when he lay dying), and it seemed strange to me that this should necessarily be the end of life, that a life couldn't always end more easily. Well of course it could if a sane approach to these things was adopted, but we remain at the mercy of the religious powers who argue that life is a 'gift' and to take it ourselves is a 'sin'. What poppycock! I know what a proud woman my mother was and how she would have hated to find herself in this pitiful state. If I had more courage I might have smothered her with a pillow. I thought of doing so, but held back. I had a sort of waking dream or fantasy of being in a courtroom defending my actions in the most eloquent way and becoming thereby a sort of popular hero. Embarrassing to think of it.

I went in again at 11.45 p.m. She was asleep, breathing noisily. Nurse, in black, installed for the night. Sometimes a bright smile appeared on my mother's face but it went in an instant. She asked for her false teeth, and she wanted her ears syringed again so that she could hear better.  She was easier in the morning after a good night, but certainly weaker. Mouth closed and eyes shut tight. Lifting of chin right up to get head in line with body for breathing. A bad sign.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Old times

Friday, November 19th., Villa des Nefliers.

Yesterday I finished making a list of all social, political and artistic events which I thought possibly useful for my novel between 1872 and 1882. Tedious bore for a trifling ultimate result in the book. But necessary. Not so much the facts that are important, but getting into the period. I feel it is important to write as if I am there. In fact it is the only way I can write with authenticity. The period just overlaps my own school days of course and I sense that there will be a lot of me in the book. Whilst walking in the forest today I practically arranged most of the construction of the first part of the novel. Still lacking a title for it. If I thought an ironic title would do, I would call it "A Thoughtful Young Man". But the public is so damned slow on the uptake.

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Wedgwood Institute containing Burslem Endowed School
Talking of schooldays I have had a card from a Mr R.W. Wright asking about my 'career' at the Middle School. I had no career! No idea why he wants to know. I can't quite get clear in my head whether I left either late in 1883 or early in 1884. I think I was there 3 or 4 years. I came from the Burslem Endowed School. I went into the Lower Sixth and rose to the Upper Sixth soon afterwards, and in due course I was Head Boy. I passed no outside examinations while at the school. I played left wing forward in the football team, but no match cricket. I must have been less than mediocre at sports. Mr. Hurley, who is a linguist of international reputation, coached me afterwards in German for the London Matric, which I passed almost immediately. My mother will know the school dates and I shall be seeing her soon in the Potteries.

I am getting to the end of my year's work. In a week I shall have nothing to do except the collection, on the spot, of more information for the novel. Perhaps I will come upon a title.

Today I finished, and mounted, another water colour, of Arbonne - one of my least rotten.

Friday, 17 November 2017

In good form

Friday, November 17th., Eltham, Torquay.

Presently staying with the Phillpotts's for a few days. I have a large bedroom with a prime view over Torbay. Always relaxing here but I am working as well. I feel in great form for work. In fact I feel pretty well in general at the moment. The new bachelor lifestyle suits me well. Yesterday I took Mrs. P. out shopping and we became a little flirtatious, being about the same age. Nothing serious of course but it does the spirit good to be able to make a sort of proto-sexual connection; I thought I had lost the knack of it! And of course there is Adelaide, the daughter, late 20s I should think. Quite pretty and I think she has a preference for older men. Interesting that this sort of thing is going around in my head nowadays.

Dorothy has a small part at the Kingsway Theatre, but she couldn't really have come here with me anyway. Some proprieties must be observed. For some reason we got onto talking about Ruskin last evening and Eden rehearsed the old story about his unconsummated marriage with Effie Gray. Allegedly he was completely unmanned at the sight of her naked body, or more specifically her pubic hair. I must say that I think it apocryphal. More likely in my view that he was a suppressed homosexual, married for reasons of convention an undeveloped young woman, and just couldn't do the necessary when it came to it. One wonders how these stories arise and are propagated. If I have time and opportunity I will try to find out some facts.

Dorothy was trying to advise me about treatment for my stammer the other evening. Nice of her to make the effort but, as I said to her, I think I have considered or indeed tried all possible therapies. Any treatment will do you a certain amount of good for a time, because the affection is extremely responsive to hetero-suggestion. But none that I have ever heard of will act when it is really needed. I used to discuss this matter with the late W.H.R. Rivers, one of the greatest specialists in nervous affections. He could never suggest anything better than to forget the trouble and leave it alone. As he stammered himself he would be likely to know all there was to be known. Also he was a very intimate friend of mine and a really great man. The affection is due to a defect of the brain, which gives contradictory orders simultaneously when disturbed in a certain way. I have even tried hypnotism. Why the subject is not more readily studied than it is by experts I have never understood for the affection is very widespread (among males - it is very rare among females). The nervous strain of it is of course continuous and severe - very severe. The said strain is too much for many sufferers and they retire to the completest privacy that they can arrange for. It is always a marvel to me that I, with my aciute general sensitiveness, have risen above this enormous handicap and am even, inspite of it, recognised as a great 'persuader' of people.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

A few ideas

Monday, November 15th., Cadogan Square, London.

Duff Tayler and I lunched together yesterday and discussed his sick leg, and the future of the Lyric, Hammersmith. Duff (Alistair) is a short agreeable Scotsman of means, devoted to the theatre. He has relied on my support in his battles with Playfair. He has an idea for burlesquely producing one of the old melodramas, such as "Sweeny Todd". So we walked at once to French's and bought six old melodramas, of which we each took three. I drove home, slept, and read "Sweeny Todd" and "Black-eyed Susan". I decided "Sweeny" would do but "B.E.Susan" would not. Eliozabeth L. came ot dinner and we took her to the first night of "The Would-be Gentleman" at the Lyric. This was rather less awful than I had feared: but it was pretty amateurish, and the recommendations of Duff and myself had not been carried out with any thoroughness. Anstey appeared and looked charming, and aged, and naif. He looked far younger at rehearsals. Dorothy did not care for the production, nor did Tertia. Elizabeth did, but Elizabeth is not discriminating.

Today I finished an interesting book called "The Man in the High Castle". The author's name is P. Dick, an American. There were four things I liked about it. Firstly, it is an 'alternative history', which I always find interesting. Not only that but there is an alternative history (a book) within the alternative history - clever idea and well executed. Secondly the characters are well-drawn and all are conflicted in their lives. Authentic. Thirdly, the plot is gripping, and I was keen to keep reading to find out what would happen. Always a good sign. Finally, running through the novel is a sort of philosophical strand relating to the Chinese I Ching. Clearly this is something of real importance for Dick. The whole novel was imbued with a sort of dark fatalism. The ending was strange and a bit disappointing, but it has left me thinking. It may do well if properly promoted.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A day in Paris

Monday, November 14th., 4, Rue de Calais, Paris.

Artist Eugene Paul Ullman - FindArtinfoI spent the whole of yesterday en ville. I went to Ullman's Sunday morning reception at his studio, and found some magnificent pictures, and much praise of my books. I particularly enjoyed a watercolour, in muted tones, of a river scene; just the sort of thing I would like to produce myself, but far in advance of my ability. Ullman is an American but lives more or less permanently in Paris. Ten years younger than me but already gaining a significant reputation. He is a very versatile artist - portraits, landscapes, figurative and impressionist. I expect he is not really appreciated in America.

Image result for la scala parisAt 6 o'clock I left. I went to the Cafe D'Orsay, and had a vermouth-cassis, and then I walked all the way by the Seine to Schwob's. He was alone and the chinese servant had been ill and looked sickly. Moreno was away on tour. We were intensely glad to see each other and shook hands with both left and right hands. He was much better and his interest in books had revived. Books were all over the place and he had got a lot of new ones. Ting watched over us while we dined, and Schwob gave me the history of his transactions as to plays with David Belasco. Then he asked if I cared to go out as the carriage was at his disposal. The carriage proved to be a magnificent De Dion cab, and I suppose it belongs to Moreno. We whirled off to La Scala. It was hot and crowded.



Image result for schwob moreno parisSchwob said that he enjoyed music halls and frequented them, and he certainly enjoyed this. Some of the items were very good. He has the habit, which one finds in all sorts of people, of mildly but constantly insisting that a thing is good, as if to convince himself. If I began by saying that a thing was not good, he at once agreed. His taste, though extremely fine, is capricious; it is at the mercy of his feelings.

He whirled me home in about two minutes. I tremendously enjoyed the evening. He was absolutely charming, and his English is so good and sure, and he looked so plaintive and in need of moral support, with his small figure and his pale face, and his loose clothes, and his hat that is always too large for him. Yet I don't know anyone who could be more independent and pugnacious, morally, than Schwob. I have never seen him so, but I know that he would be so if occasion arose.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Going out

Saturday, November 13th., Cadogan Square, London.

Gale, rainy windy showers early.

Image result for tate gallery historyI drove in driving rain to the Tate Gallery, in order to think over my novel, and saw some good English pictures. There are indeed some fine ones. The elder of the two Tate lecturers was  very good on both Blake and Rossetti. He pointed out the humour in Rossetti's watercolours, and he very well explained their origin. Then I wrote some more notes for my novel - to be called, pro tem., "Accident". Also I found names for two of the characters. Interesting that I use the word 'found', because that is what it feels like. As if the names have been lying around, just waiting for me to come across them. I suppose they have in a way, somewhere in my head.
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We drove, still in the rain - or had the rain just stopped? - to the Lyceum for the first night of the Russian ballet. The whole high-brow and snob world was there, with a good sprinkling of decent people. The spectacle was good. I liked "Petrouschka" as much as ever, and "The House Party" more than ever. I begin now to understand the latter. It is all Sodom and Gomorrah. "The Swan Lake" had much applause: a fine old-fashioned example of Petipa's work. Orchestra better than usual.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Currents of imagination

Friday, November 12th., Villa des Nefliers.

Image result for Taine BalzacTaine's long essay (over 100 pp.) on Balzac, is really very good reading, especially when he comes to describe the big characters, such as Joseph Bridau, Grandet, and the Baron Hulot. Lying awake last night, after a fearful crash caused by the faience suspension falling out of the ceiling in the hall, I had the desire to do likewise for one or two English novelists. It is Taine's method that appeals to me, and the intoxicating effectf a vast number of short sentences or clauses hurled down one after the other. Funny how ideas come to one in the night and make one feel excited, and a whole edifice of imagination is built up. Then, back to sleep, and in the cold light of morning the realisation that it was all so much poppycock. What profit would there be for me, a professional writer in literary biographies? Who would buy them? I can imagine writing a newspaper column about books and writers, but nothing more 'academic' - too busy making a living.


Night thoughts are strange phenomena though and I probably have more than most as I rarely sleep through a night. A few days ago I went to bed very tired having walked 9 or 10 miles during the day and slept from 11 pm to 6 am. I was amazed. That must be the longest continual period of sleep I have experienced for years. Sometimes, after waking, I rise, do what is necessary, and then go more or less straight back to sleep. But more often I am awake for a while, or rather in that sort of intermediate stage between wakefulness and sleep. That is when the odd night thoughts occur. Often worrying about something, or rehearsing an impending meeting, or turning over a problem. Occasionally erotic, but not often. I have learned from experience not to fight it. If I try to make myself sleep I invariably fail. Best just to drift away on the currents of imagination.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Charming

Saturday, November 11th., Cadogan Square, London.

I have made a decent start to my new novel "Imperial Palace". It will be 150,000 words long, and not divided into parts. I think I have now grown out of dividing novels into parts. Today such a division strikes me as being a bit pompous. I know the main plot but by no means all the incidents thereof, though I have a few titbits of episodes which I shall not omit.

An amusing titbit came my way recently, but I do not intend to use it in the novel. A youngish Canadian ex-soldier had become interested in a charming blonde English girl who served in some capacity in a country house where a friend of mine was staying. So interested that he offered to give her a day's jaunt in London. She accepted. They went. "First Class and everything." Return tickets. In the First Class carriage was a small boy travelling alone. The child cried all the time. The charming blonde took no notice whatever of the child, made no attempt to sympathise with him in any way. The Canadian waited and waited for her to behave to the forlorn child as a kind-hearted woman should. In vain. At Waterloo he said laconaically to the charmer: "here's your return ticket." And walked off and left her. He could not stand a woman like that, be she ever so charming!

Friday, 10 November 2017

No gushing

Friday, November 10th., Fulham Park Gardens, London.

After cogitating off and on all through the night I decided upon what will probably be the first sentence of my "Anna Tellwright" novel: "Bursley, the ancient home of the potter, has an antiquity of a thousand years" - and also upon the arrangement of the first long paragraph describing the Potteries. Now that I have a beginning, I am confident that by steady application I can make my novel a good one.

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Cyril Maude
This evening, at his request, I called to 'have a chat' with Cyril Maude at the Haymarket Theatre. I saw him in his dressing room, a small place with the walls all sketched over by popular artists. Round the room was a dado border of prints of Nicholson's animal drawings. Although the curtain would not rise for over half an hour Maude was made-up and dressed. he was very kind and good natured about my one-act play, "The Stepmother", without overflowing into that gush which nearly all actors give off on all occasions of politeness. He said that he and Harrison would certainly consider seriously any 3 or 4 act play of mine. He advised me against doing any more curtain raisers. He seems genuinely interested in my work which is a great encouragement.

Clerical connections

Friday, November 10th., Mulberry Gardens, Hampshire.

A rather pleasant autumnal day in Hampshire. Sunny for the most part. Leisurely breakfast, and then off to Salisbury which I had thought was in Hampshire but is in fact in Wiltshire. Dominated of course by the great spire of the cathedral which seems incongruously tall from a distance but strangely fitting the body of the structure from nearby. The cathedral close is extensive, green, and surrounded by an eclectic mix of substantial houses. Mostly grace and favour homes for the clergy I would imagine - the trials of being a cleric!

One of the buildings on the close has been converted into a museum and has benefitted greatly from the legacy of the noted archaeologist Augustus Pitt-Rivers. The latter had estates in Wiltshire and was an indefatigable excavator and collector. His scientific approach to excavation has had a major impact on archaeology. Many of his finds are on display - pots, copper items, stone tools, human skulls ....... Fascinating.

Strolled out this afternoon. There seem to be a great many rivers and streams locally. In fact it is rather wet, though my informants claim that rainfall is moderate, and speak appreciatively about the good local weather. On a bridle path I startled a middle aged man who had stopped to consult a pocket book. As people often do who are surprised in this way he felt the need to explain himself, and soon disclosed that he was a Baptist minister out visiting his 'flock'. A little pasty, thinning hair, a bit unhealthy looking, but with the broad smile which churchmen seem to feel it incumbent upon them to offer to strangers. He seemed a little disappointed when I indicated that I was only visiting - perhaps hoped for a new recruit! What continually surprises me is how ready most people are to talk about themselves, but how rarely they show any interest in their interlocutor. He soon told me that he was married, had two children, had lived in the area all his life, and liked to get away from his desk as often as he could, though he clearly wanted me to understand that he was very busy. He showed no interest in me whatsoever. Let's hope he does better with his flock.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

War news

Tuesday, November 10th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Alcock came. He is the Chief Customs Officer of Newhaven and Tilbury. Once, having observed my style of walking, he referred to it as : "Bennett's quarter-deck manner." Nice phrase, and I wasn't at all put out, in fact, quite pleased. Today he told us a lot about transport work which is obviously going to change enormously now that we are at war. He said Newhaven port had a huge sealed envelope of orders to be executed on receipt of coded telegrams. When the first telegram came the orders proved to be dated 1911. This was rather good. The orders, as I heard them, seemed excellent.

We hear that the German cruiser Emden has finally been destroyed. She has done much damage in the East and has kept nearly the whole of Admiral Jerram's fleet in search of her. She was finally run down by HMS Sydney at Cocos Island yesterday.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

False start

Sunday, November 8th., 6 Victoria Grove, London.

Dr. Farrar said that the difficulties of diagnosis were much greater than most people imagined. As an instance he stated that in certain cases it was impossible for a doctor to say whether a patient was suffering from consumption or typhoid fever, widely and essentially different though these two diseases were. He told me of the case of a girl he had been called to attend in a 'house of business'. She had a persistently high temperature and eventually was admitted to St. George's Hospital. At length, after a fortnight, just as they were about to put her on an ordinary diet, she was taken with diarrhoea, haemorrhage of the bowels, and other unmistakable symptoms of typhoid fever. He didn't say whether others at her 'workplace' had been affected.

Farrar has become a friend, as well as being my medical advisor. I owe him a significant debt of gratitude. When I first saw him in Putney I had no real career in prospect, but envied those around me who were engrossed in their careers as artists, musicians and journalists. Farrar, after giving me a physical overhaul, administered a mental tonic that had the summary effect of stimulating my self-esteem. He said, sitting back with his stethoscope round his neck and his fingers steepled: "You know, you're one of the most highly strung men I've ever met." I realised that my temperament was that of an artist, in tune with those around me, fine-grained, sensitive, and gifted. It made me take stock of myself and, as it were, re-launch myself after a false start.


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Streets of New York

Tuesday, November 7th., Park Hill, New York.
 Image result for Keen's chop house new york
Dinner last night given by the Dutch Treat Club at Kean's Chop House. Over 100. Wallace Irwin gave a good skit on "How to live in New York on 48 hours a day." Amusing. And captures the hectic pace I am obliged to maintain during this visit. In a few words I said I would thank him in print.


I walked down 34th St. to Waterside offices of Italian Lines, saw Duca degli Abruzzi half ready to go. A lot of people on board and a line of third class passengers waiting outside shed for admittance. Nothing but Italian spoken all round me. This swift transition from 5th avenue is very picturesque. Declension of streets sets in immediately after Broadway. 6th Avenue is attrociously paved. After 7th the declension is frank. 10th and 11th are appalling, atrocious, and some of the sidewalks staggering - unworthy of the suburbs of a small provincial town.


Image result for Tammany New YorkThis was election day. I saw the sinister but genial fellows bearing openly the insignia of Tammany. Don't, please, think that Tammany is a disease that happens to have attacked N.Y. It is as much an expression of N.Y. character as the barber who shaved me this morning, the pavements, the fineness, the interest in education, etc. etc.

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R.H. Davis
Dinner at Sherry's. R.H. Davis, Franklin Adams, Doran and I. Davis told how he interviewed Li Hung Chang for W.R. Hearst. Hearst on it being pointed out to him that bribery would be necessary to get round the whole crowd of Dutch waiters at the Waldorf, where Chang had a suite, said he would give $1000 for the expenses of the interview. Ultimately, after a week of preparing the ground, Chang sent for davis. And Davis entered his suite "with my shoes in my hand". He interviewed him through an interpreter. At the end David asked Chang if he spoke English. He answered "No", in English. Asked if he was rich, he said, "600,000,000 dollars today, nothing tomorrow. All I have is at the mercy of the state." He was very curious about rich men in America. later he sent for Davis as a private man and spoke to him in English. He asked if Davis was married, and Davis said he wasn't because he couldn't afford to be. Chang then said: "Get money. Get a wife. Get a home. Get children." Davis is a writer as well as being a journalist. An interesting man. As a matter of fact he is now married, though he wasn't when he met Chang.


Monday, 6 November 2017

Visiting friends

Saturday, November 6th., Easton Glebe, near Dunmow.

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C.R.W. Nevinson
We caught the 2.34 from Liverpool Street to Bishop's Stortford where we were met by Jane Wells and Frank, and driven to Easton Glebe, where H.G.Wells received us. Thank goodness it wasn't H.G. driving - he lacks even basic road sense! Mr. and Mrs. C.R.W.Nevinson had already arrived. He is an artist, much talked about.

This is the first time I have taken Dorothy to visit the Wells', though she has met them socially. I am reminded of advice given me by Rebecca West some time ago: "Don't leave your wife alone with H.G." I shall take care not to do so. It seems that H.G., in spite of his many qualities, simply lacks self-control in his relationship with women. According to R.W., who was rather indiscreet, he has a remarkable sex drive. He is evidently very attractive to women, which R.W. was at a loss to explain except to say that "there is something about him; he looks at you in a way which makes it clear that he is ready and willing to have sex with you, and we respond." I must ask Dorothy what she thinks, but not until we get home - I don't want to put any ideas into her head. Perhaps I should warn Nevinson, but I expect he is as aware of H.G's reputation as I am.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Beginning again

Tuesday, November 5th., 14, St Simon's Avenue, Putney, London.

Yesterday, after having written about 6,000 words of my new novel, which I think I will entitle "The Price of Love", I decided to begin it again. I felt it needed to be done in a different 'key', but with exactly the same construction. And I did begin it again and at once felt easier in my mind.I also decided that I would not make a fine manuscript of it, as I did with the O.W.T. The regularity of the lines and handwriting does not seem to accord with the style in which this novel is to be written. A freer style than before - a little more capricious and swinging. Though the novel has an overall gloomy and pessimistic cast.

We are staying here whilst waiting to occupy our new country house in Essex, which will not be until January. The rooms of this house are dry, arid, ugly and as frigid as an old maid, but well enough for our temporary purpose. Much better now that Marguerite is with me. She was in Paris for some time and I was surprised by how much I missed her, physically I mean. She has taken a hold on me which is very unusual given my character. I told her in a letter that I should have a little tart to comfort me when she is away, and it seems the idea had a stimulating effect. On the day she arrived from Paris we were due to go to the theatre with the Sharpes but I made an excuse and we spent the evening much more enjoyably. As we are comfortably off at present I encouraged her to buy new undergarments and pretty things in Paris which I admired as she modelled them for me, and felt obliged to help her remove. Her body is a joy to me. I am a happy man at present.

I had to interrupt the work last week to do an article of reminiscences for the Metropolitan and the Strand, and again on Sunday to review Allan Monkhouse's new novel "Dying Fires" for the Manchester Guardian. This last is a good book. Also, I have begun to order a new library of music, through Sharpe, and the first noble batch of stuff came today. More in  few days. Another symptom of my present affluence.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The business of dying

Saturday, November 4th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

Image result for Montmartre theatre 1905The other evening I went to a little theatre in Montmarte. The theatre which I visited is called, rather grandiosely, "The Theatre of the People", and it lies on the very confines of 'Parisianism', just at the point where the Avenue de Clichy ceases to be anything but a gaunt suburban thoroughfare. It is something rather wonderful is The Theatre of the People, one of those enterprises at once glorious and forlorn whose aim is to bring Art and the People together. The programme set before me included a two act masterpiece of Moliere, a one act comedy by that truly great humourist George Courteline, and Heyermans' famous three act tragedy of fisher life, "The Good Hope". It was the last named piece that I really went to see having missed it when the Stage Society did it last year. I was anxious to witness the gloomy spectacle which has desolated every drama critic in London.

I came away from the theatre thoroughly and superbly depressed, an emotion not to be despised by the discerning person of thoughtful disposition. The Good Hope is probably unrivalled for sheer gloom in the whole range of modern drama, almost Greek in its tragic quality. But it was not The Good Hope that depressed me. It was the forlornness of the whole enterprise. The theatre was not half full; it was not a third full; and when we clapped as we did often, our applause resounded as the voices of house-hunters resound in an empty house. And all the people connected with the enterprise seemed to be wondering how long this Art-and-People game would last, and where their next meal was coming from. I felt profoundly sorry for the whole pathetic crew; I became sentimental - and it is not often that I get sentimental.

One actress, a certain Claire Mars, stuck obstinately in my mind. She was not beautiful, but she was a star (of The Theatre of the People), and she could act, and she was intensely, too intensely, alive. And she was very young. She had the peculiar 'yearning' eyes which always mean martyrdom, either for their owner or for some man. And the next night I returned but The Theatre of the People was closed. I admit that I wanted to see Claire Mars again. I even had a sort of thought of making her acquaintance. And the next day I read in the paper: "Suicide of a young actress of the Theatre du Peuple. Mdlle. Lion, aged 23, committed suicide yesterday in her rooms, No. 40 Rue des Martyrs, by shooting herself in the right temple with a revolver. Under the name of Claire Mars she had won applause in Therese Raquin and The Good Hope."

Of the reasons for this self-extinction I have no knowledge. Nor does the reason much matter. It is the raw event that counts. We were separated, she and I, only by a few feet and a line of electric light, and perhaps a few hours. Of course the affair is useless to me as a novelist. But, as a human being, I allowed myself to think those well-known, banal and commonplace thoughts about life and death which, despite their banality and commonplaceness, remain amongst the most precious and valuable of our emotions. And, in addition, I wondered how many people would not, at some moment or other commit suicide if suicide could be committed instantaneously, without enterprise, sustained resolution, trouble or mess. Especially mess.And it occurred to me that it is not death that most persons fear, but the business of dying.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Monstrous mementos

Thursday, November 2nd., 4 Rue de Calais, Paris.

"Carmen" on Tuesday night with J.D. I thought it as fine as ever.

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Montmartre Cemetery
Yesterday was All Saints Day, and I walked in the Montmartre Cemetery. It was rather like a City of the Dead. Certainly as much a relic of barbarism as anything one is likely to see in Paris, with its tons of flowers and ugly wreaths ornamenting the most deplorable monuments and houses of corpses. Vast crowds of people, many in black, but not all. Many, if not most, out for an airing: moonstruck crowds before certain monstrous mementos of surpassing vulgarity. A very few women here and there with moist eyes. A file of soldiers (seasoned) at the gates, made to supply the absence of an iron railing to separate incoming from outgoing crowds - and naturally looking stupid. Also policemen and officials. in the street flowershops and stalls, and wreath shops and stalls and quantities of cabs. Unavoidable not to contemplate one's own mortality in such a setting, or at least one's final resting place. I think I should like Burslem Cemetery best, somewhere near the Longsons. Just a simple headstone with my name, dates and the word "Author". That would be enough.


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M D Calvocoressi
Last evening I went to Calvocoressi's and met Vignes the pianist, an extraordinary enthusiast for Russian music and an exceedingly fine player. The two first played a duet and then Vignes had the piano to himself. What struck me was the fine pure quality of the pleasure we obtained, all of us, the simplicity of the enthusiasm; and yet what years of cultivation had gone to provide it, in all of us. Calvocoressi's mother sat upright, on an ordinary cane chair, half blind with cataract, and encouraged our enthusiasm. I expressed my pleasure. "Mais croyez-vous que nous ne sommes pas heureux comme tout, tous les quatres!" said Calvocoressi, his face beaming.
Image result for Ricardo vignes
Ricardo Vignes




Vignes, having played a piece, would usually turn back the pages to find some particular passage and would end by playing the whole thing again. When explaining the beauties of passages while he played them he became quite incomprehensible to me, what with his bad accent and his rapidity. Yes, what struck me as I came away was the singular 'purity' of it all, the absence of sex, of anything in the nature of an aftertaste. It reminded me of fine musical evenings in London.
Sadly, later, it also reminded me of the lack of success of "Sacred and Profane Love" - perhaps I was too influenced by my own response to great piano playing, and overdid my heroine's 'enthusiasm'.