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Malleson, Constance

Malleson, Constance
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"Friday My Dearest Darling—You wrote me such a lovely letter this week—" "I read every day at least 100 pages of philosophy in English or 50 in German, unless I am out of books."

There are two transcriptions of the letter: document .052452, record 99929; document .201154, record 116385 (second sheet is missing). In the first transcription the phrase "my new work" was changed to "emphatic particulars". The second missing sheet would have contained the phrase.


Letter 104

BRACERS 19362. AL. McMaster
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 19361; next letter, BRACERS 20274
Edited by Kenneth Blackwell, Andrew G. Bone, Nicholas Griffin and Sheila Turcon

<Brixton Prison>1
Friday 13 Sep. ’18.

My dearest Darling, you wrote me such a lovely letter this week2 — thank you my Beloved. Yes, Ludlow Bridge3 with you! And when we have our meals in that room, there will be nothing to stop me when I want to jump up and kiss you. I have no existence now except just waiting for the moment — when I give you this4 it will be a fortnight. Oh I am so happy. At first, the lack of liberty was so galling that I dreaded being led into some folly — assaulting the Governor or something of that kind. Insane rage5 was always very near at hand. The time I wrote you a beastly letter6 was a mild form of it. Now all that danger is safely past. It was a real danger — blind fury is a thing I am capable of.

I cannot tell you how my whole soul is concentrated into love of you. You are to me the gateway to all the rest of the world. I do worship you.

O my dear, I feel so unworthy of all the love and affection that comes to me from so many people. I feel I can never do enough to justify it — I get so much more than my share. I don’t know why, because I don’t seem to do anything to bring it. I find it does more than anything else to make me feel I must be decent, and especially must work. I am working now quite well. I read every day at least 100 pages of philosophy in English or 50 in German, unless I am out of books. I shall have read a great deal of philosophy when I come out. I should have read more if I hadn’t been about 6 weeks with nothing to read. When I come out, I shall no longer have to read enormously — I shall be chiefly writing, or walking up and down trying to think. The most tedious part of the work for my next book I have done in here. I look forward to the work to be done when I am out — it will be delicious. It is lovely to be doing creative things again, instead of ploughing the sands. — It is all associated in my mind with that day at the Cat and Fiddle in April when we stood on a bridge and I talked about my new work.7

Yes, the visits are trying — they would be much worse but for the letters. It is good to see whether you seem well or ill, and I can more or less gather your mood — but all the barriers are dreadful. If I had been 2nd Division we could not have written8 — that would have been too ghastly.

Very soon now, dear Love, this awful time will be over.9 And I shall hold you in my arms and kiss you — lips, eyes, hair, all of you — and I shall see the love in your eyes and feel it in your arms — and we shall go to sleep in each other’s arms and have peace from all the hunger of these months. My dear Love, my dear Love, my dear Love. I long for the divine beauty of you — your beauty is radiant with life and love, and joy dancing over a great abyss of sadness. I long for it — and I long for the peace you bring. Goodnight for today, Beloved.



  • 1.

    [document] The letter was edited from the unsigned, thrice-folded, single-sheet original in BR’s hand in the Malleson papers in the Russell Archives. The letter was finished half-way down the verso of the sheet. That left the exterior of the sheet blank when folded.

  • 2.

    lovely letter this week Colette’s letter of c.12 Sept. 1918 (BRACERS 113159).

  • 3.

    Ludlow Bridge There is no mention of Ludlow Bridge in Colette’s letters of this time. Earlier in the year, however, in a “literary” letter (part of a later project to fictionalize their correspondence but based very much on its text) dated “9 February 1918”, she wrote: “Let us stand close together on Ludford Bridge, while the river flows peacefully beneath the Bridge, and beyond the mill” (BRACERS 99837). The town of Ludlow, Shropshire, has two bridges: Ludford and Dinham — BR was presumably referring to the Ludford Bridge, which is at the south end of Ludlow on the road leading to Ashford, where they vacationed. See S. Turcon, “Then and Now: Bertie and Colette’s Escapes to the Peak District and Welsh Borderlands”Russell 34 (2014): 117–30.

  • 4.

    when I give you this BR must have been anticipating another prison visit from Colette on 18 September, but he was released on the 14th.

  • 5.

    Insane rage BR struggled from an early age to contain his flashes of rage (noted especially by Monk, 2: 36, 536). He came to hate a classmate at the crammer’s he was sent to in preparation for Cambridge: “On one occasion, in an access of fury, I got my hands on his throat and started to strangle him” (Auto. 1: 44). This, however, is the only known occasion when BR became physically violent. He wrote a short paper on rage at this time (“On ‘Bad Passions’”, Cambridge Magazine 8 [1 Feb. 1919]: 359; 19 in Papers 8), which he sent first to Colette (Letter 79).

  • 6.

    time I wrote you a beastly letter This must be Letter 71, which is editorially dated 15 August 1918. BR blamed the week-long unhappiness he then expected on Colette’s “wretched scrap” of a letter (there were two “scraps”; see BRACERS 113148 and 113149). Letters 72 and 79 refer to this “black” time.

  • 7.

    Cat and Fiddle in April … I talked about my new work He talked about “emphatic particulars” during their vacation at the Cat and Fiddle in the Peak District in April 1918, before he entered prison (see S. Turcon, “Then and Now: Bertie and Colette’s Escapes to the Peak District and Welsh Borderlands”, Russell 34 [2014]: 117–30). The “particulars” reappear as “egocentric particulars” in BR’s An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth (New York: Norton; London: Allen & Unwin, 1940), Chap. 7.

  • 8.

    2nd Division we could not have written Only a small fraction of local prison inmates benefitted from the first-division classification obtained by BR from the otherwise unsuccessful appeal of his conviction. The proportion of prisoners in the second division was, in fact, only slightly larger, but these inmates were subject to most of the same rigours and rules as those in the third. For example, BR was shocked at how physically broken was his dissenting colleague E.D. Morel by six months’ imprisonment in the second division of Pentonville (see Papers 14: xlix). The regimen for second-division prisoners (and third) included a prison uniform (albeit distinguishable from that worn by third-division inmates) and compulsory industrial or manufacturing work — although not the most punitive and unproductive forms of labour eradicated by the Prison Act (1898) along with such other harsh features of the English penal system as corporal punishment. The main distinction between the second- and third-division prisoners was that the former (like their first-division counterparts) were isolated from one another as well as from the rest of the prison population. Contrary to BR’s fears, inmates in the second division at least enjoyed some mail privileges and could send and receive one letter per month. In addition, they were permitted a monthly visit. Both entitlements recurred fortnightly in the first division, and BR succeeded in obtaining them on a weekly basis (see Letter 5).

  • 9.

    this awful time will be over It was over the very next day when he was let out of prison early, his expected date of release with remission for good behaviour and industry having been 2 October.

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Record created 2014/05/26
Record last modified 2020/04/08
Created/last modified by rstaple