13 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Which reminds me Ive read lately 2 amazing books about present day Russia - one by Merezhkovsky and Zinaida Hippiusg and the other by Bunin. It is a very extraordinary thing that Russia can be there at our back door at furthest, and we know nothing, pay no attention, hear nothing in English. These books were in French. Both were full of threats - "You may think you have escaped. But you have not escaped. What has happened to us will happen to you. And worse. Because you have not heard our prayers." The ghastly horror and terror of that life in Petrograd is impossible to imagine. One must read it to know about it. But English people, people like us, would never survive as some of these Russian intellectuals have survived. We would die of so many things - vermin, fright, cold, hunger, even if we were not assassinated. At this present moment Life in Russia is rather like it was four centuries ago. It has simply gone back four centuries. And anyone who sympathises with Bolshevism has much to answer for. Dont you think that the head of Lenin is terrifying? Whenever I see his picture it comes over me - it is like the head of something between an awful serpent and a gigantic bug. Russia is at present like an enormous hole in the wall letting in Asia. I wonder what will happen, even in our little time. [To Dorothy Brett, 9 March 1922.]

Dear Mr Orlo Williams,
   I cannot say how happy your generous letter has made me. Thank you from my heart. It is too generous. You say nothing, or almost nothing, about the big black holes in my book which I must mend next time. But I know they are there. In fact I am so conscious of them that its awfully pleasant when a fellow-writer ignores them for a moment and says he liked the rest.
   It is a relief to me that you realise that my heart was with William in Marriage et la mode and with old Mr Neave and young Mr Dove. It makes me gasp when reviewers think I am jeering at them and poking cruel fun. When one has been away from people for so long - I have only seen glimpses of people for five years now - that is positively frightening. . .I had meant to convey that I loved them - especially the Doves. I have often wondered about their married life. How nice it is you should single
out just that story! Nobody else has. [To Orlo Williams, 11 March 1922.]