BRACERS Record Detail
To access the original letter, email the Ready Division.
"Sat. My Darling, My Heart's Love, I do so understand that you dare not let your imagination dwell on things that bring impatience."
"After the war is over, I should like to spend some months travelling, and then divide my year into 2 parts: in winter, unofficial teaching at Cambridge and in London, and writing on social questions; in summer, work on philosophy."
Date is based on his reference to "The Avenue" and on suggested dates by Colette in document .200316.
The sentences beginning with "I want to stand" to the end of the paragraph are published in After Ten Years, p. 146, grouped with sentences from two other letters: document .200313, record 19318, and document. 200339, record 19350.
There are three other versions of this letter:
Literary condensed version, no. 46: document .052393, record 99858.
Typed transcription: document .052424, record 99885.
Typed transcription: document .201157, record 116241.
BR TO CONSTANCE MALLESON, [27? JULY 1918]
BRACERS 19321. ALS. McMaster. SLBR 2: #316
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 19336; next letter, BRACERS 46930
Edited by Kenneth Blackwell, Andrew G. Bone, Nicholas Griffin and Sheila Turcon
My Darling, my Heart’s Love,
I do so understand that you dare not let your imagination dwell on things that bring impatience. I find I can’t keep my thoughts away from you, so I make plans endlessly, I think them out, I compel them to be businesslike and sensible, and I get joy from their solidity — it makes the future seem real. Since I have been here, I have thought a great deal in the way of plans. You would hardly believe how everything for me is bound up with you. Almost for the first time in my life, I find I really want to live — if I found I was going to die in a month, I should be horribly annoyed — it is quite a new queer feeling. I am full of plans for philosophical work.3 I hope to do a really big piece of original thinking (of which the rough outline is in my head) between now and the end of the war: during this time I can’t do other work. After the war is over, I should like to spend some months travelling, and then divide my year into 2 parts: in winter, unofficial teaching at Camb. and in London,4 and writing on social questions; in summer, work on philosophy. I foresee a chance of a very delightful life that way. I must have some kind of teaching. My idea would be to go to Camb. one night a week. In that way I could be as effective in the place as if I lived there, and yet keep the rest of the week for London. If we were rich enough, I would spend the summer in the country (somewhere where there is a late train). I find my ambitions don’t run to political things. I want to be an intellectual leader to the young, and I can be, after the war, and you will be a help to me in that. [Yes, you will]a I had become at Camb. before the war just the sort of thing I mean; but in future I should not want any official post, however humble. I want to stand for life and thought — thought as adventure, clear thought because of the intrinsic delight of it, along with the other delights of life. Against worldliness, which consists in doing everything for the sake of something else, like marrying for money instead of for love. The essence of life is doing things for their own sakes.5 That is why one hates commercialism, because it means doing things for the sake of something else, and that is devitalizing, like Duty. And that is really why one loves Freedom, which is really the same thing.
And through all my thoughts of the future, however businesslike and however technical, it is always the thought of you that sustains the whole and makes me believe in it — otherwise I should not have the hope or the energy and the vitality to think of such things. Two years ago my only day-dream was to sit in the sun and do nothing — now I have day-dreams of activity.
It is all but a year since our first time at the Avenue.6 You have a far deeper hold on me now than you had then, though I know you infinitely better. Clee Hill — O my love, my dear love, my Heart’s Comrade. I am yours, yours, yours.
[document] The letter was edited from the unsigned, handwritten original in the Malleson papers in the Russell Archives. It was folded twice, exposing the two quarters that BR left blank on the verso of the sheet. The letter was published as #316 in Vol. 2 of BR’s Selected Letters.
[date] Colette suggested the dates of 20 or 27 July 1918 for the letter in a note (document 200316). Since the first time they visited the Avenue was 31 July 1917, the more likely date is 27 July, and BR did write that it had been “all but a year”.
full of plans for philosophical work By early June BR had finished his work on Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy and a long review of Dewey’s Essays in Experimental Logic and had spent the first part of July reading in psychology. The most detailed account of his plans (written 14 Aug. 1918; see Letter 69, note 4) is printed as Appendix II of Papers 8 (where, however, it is dated as having been written before he went into prison). The Analysis of Mind (1921), which actually resulted, was a smaller work.
unofficial teaching at Camb. and in London Since being deprived of his lectureship in logic and the principles of mathematics by Trinity College Council in July 1916, BR’s only realistic prospect of philosophical lecturing at Cambridge was on such ad hoc terms. He did not satisfy this ambition, but had already delivered two notable series of “unofficial” lectures in London (on philosophy of mathematics, from which his Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy emerged in prison, and “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism”). From May to June 1919 he presented a third series (“The Analysis of Mind”) at the same venue, Dr. Williams’ Library in Bloomsbury. Later in the year and in 1920 the series was doubled in length and given twice, at Dr. Williams’ Library and Morley College.
doing things for their own sakes That is, because we have an impulse to do them, and not because doing them is the means to something else. BR put the satisfaction of impulse very high in his philosophy of happiness in both Principles of Social Reconstruction (1916), Ch. 1, and The Conquest of Happiness (1930), especially Chapter 11 on zest.
our first time at the Avenue Their first night at the Avenue was probably 31 July 1917; they stayed until mid-August.
SLBR 2: #316; http://russell-letters.mcmaster.ca/brixton-letter-50
Malleson, After Ten Years, 146
Record last modified 2021/10/21
Created/last modified by duncana