24 October

24 October 1920

Villa Isola Bella Menton, France

I got a letter from you today written on Thursday. I must answer a point or two. Schiff entirely mistook my intentions when I (most deliberately) lent him In a G.P. What impertinence. I suppose he is angry with me (I know he is) because I didn't answer his last letter. Somehow I could not. He spoke of Couperus and himself as being co-equal co-eternal and altogether his letter was unpleasant. It seemed too hectic and arrogant. It frightened me. I mean I wanted to sheer off. His hour had struck. You know the feeling? And hers struck in London when in saying goodbye to me she very nicely, a touch playfully, put her hand on my hair. Finito. These things are mysteries, but I can't help it. They now become to me a trifle grotesque, especially Schiff -overheated and (it seems now) overpoweringly deaf - deaf to every thing! Still I must write politely & get that book back. Will they make me pay £0000 for it. Hm! . . .
[. . .]
Does your soul trouble you? Mine does. I feel that only now (October 1920) do I really desire to be saved. I realise what salvation means and I long for it. Of course I am not speaking as a Christian or about a personal God. But the feeling is . . . I believe (and VERY MUCH) Help thou my unbelief. But its to myself I cry - to the spirit, the essence of me - that which lives in Beauty. Oh, these words. And yet I should be able to explain. [. . .] But Bogue its taken 32 years in the dark . . . Without our love it never would have come through at all. And I long for goodness - to live by what is permanent in the soul.  [Letter to J. M. Murry in Collected Letters]

I did not answer your letter at the time because I was ill, and I become so utterly weary of confessing it. Especially as its the kind of thing one does so hate to hear, one can't really sympathise with. People who are continually crying out are exasperating. And they (or at any rate I) am dreadfully conscious of it.
But now that I have been let out on ticket of leave at least - I long to write to you. You are never far from my thoughts. Some afternoons I feel positive that the voiture down below there is come from Roquebrune and that in another moment or two you will be here on the terrace. But there is too much to talk about. In London there never seems time. One is always just beginning when one is whirled away again. Here, one is so uninterrupted, it is like one immensely long night and one immensely long day.
But it takes long before the tunes cease revolving in one's head, before the sound of the clapping and the sensation of the crowd forsakes one. One cannot hail solitude as one can hail a dark cab. To disentangle one¬self completely takes long . . . Nevertheless, I believe one must do it -and no less - if one wants to work.
I feel I never shall see the story you sent to The English Review, about the boy. Have you been writing.
Violet - do you remember the afternoon you sang just before we all came away. The shadow of the green leaves trembled in the dark piano. Forgive my long silence,
With love to you both
Would you send my ancient book to JMM before you come abroad. I forgot to ask you if you would on that last afternoon. Thank you.  [To Sydney and Violet Schiff in Collected Letters]