18 January 1922

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

                              The same evening.
My dear Sydney,
   I answer your letter, as you suggest, immediately. Yes, I used the word friendship too lightly. I hang my head. It was badly done and you were right to strike me. I do understand. I wince, yes I confess its painful to me to read what you write at the bottom of the second page ‘I have not got any friends at all'. And the sentences that follow. At the same time I value the remark immensely. There is a deep separateness in me which responds to it, even though I am forever without a complete complement. But it's a strange truth that the fact of you and Violet is not only a joy: it's an extraordinary consolation to believe in you and her as one does. (Violet dearest, speak to me just one moment, will you? I feel sometimes diffident of speaking to you directly. I feel that there are so many others near you who claim your attention. I count on Sydney telling you whatever there is to tell. No, the truth is nearer. I write to you and to him. But you know that.) I agree absolutely - with what you say when you define the forces that go to make friendship and the part played by knowledge. The more one thinks of the image of knowledge as clothing the more valuable it becomes. It is one of the images that delight the mind so much that almost apart from one's self one's mind goes on receiving it, turning it to the light, trying it, experimenting with it. Or that is what my mind has been doing. . .proving the truth of it mathematically speaking.
[To Sydney Schiff, c.18 January 1922.]