BRACERS Record Detail for 46917

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Russell, Frank
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Notes and topics

The initials "CH" are written at the top in ink.

"I will give message to Sanger for Bob Trevelyan."
"I have been reading Madame Roland's memoirs...." The letter contains messages to several different people: Gladys Rinder (with sub-messages to Percy, G.J., Constance Malleson, Clifford Allen, Dorothy Mackenzie and Hilderic Cousens), Ottoline Morrell, Dorothy Wrinch, Wildon Carr and A.N. Whitehead.

A separate record has been created for the messages to Constance Malleson, document .079969a, record 116578.

For the others, see documents .079969b-.079969e, record 119559, record 119560, record 119561, record 119562.

There are several transcriptions of this letter:
Document .079970, record 116573.
Document .079971, record 116574.
Document .201170, record 116576 and its carbon, document .201187, record 116577.
Document .201197, record 116575.

An extract also appears in a mimeograph, document .080038ad, record 117605.


Letter 12

BRACERS 46917. ALS. McMaster. Auto. 2: 86
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 19308; next letter, BRACERS  19311
Edited by K. Blackwell, A. Bone, N. Griffin and S. Turcon

June 3, 1918.

My dear Frank

Your letter2 just come — no other has come. I have just seen Withers. — Very many thanks for your successful efforts: MSS, light, and flowers are all now all right. — I will give message to Sanger for Bob Trevelyan.3

Message to Miss Rinder: Hope you sent International Journal to Percy — tell him it contained something in French4 that I hoped would interest him. Say I am glad about York.5 Please tell G.J. I shall be glad of news of him. Please also, if at any time you are writing to Lady C., suggest that she might write some time; and perhaps she might give me news of G.J. and save you the trouble — I should not wish to lose sight of him. I was glad he had pleasure in seeing his friend.6 I do not know his friend very well, but from such knowledge as I have I feel convinced the pleasure was mutual and that the friend is longing for it to recur. In writing to Lady C., please thank her for biscuits which are a solace. — Tell C.A. he must come South to see me — tell him my moral condition is parlous and needs a sermon from him. Give my warmest congratulations to D.M. and H.C.7 — I should like to know more.

Message to Lady O. Was very glad indeed of message about thoughts on driving-tour etc.8 How odd that both should have been writing practically the same words about truth and madness at the same moment.9 Visit was a very great joy — but they are gone in a flash — I haven’t time to express gratitude, or delight in kindnesses — but I feel it intensely — when the visit is over I have time to feel how much the kindnesses add to my happiness. It makes one happy to feel surrounded by affection, which I have felt ever since I was first sentenced last February — people have done so many kind things, and I have been touched and surprised. I hope I was not ungracious about Keats letters10 — it was practically the last book I read before going in, and I haven’t much room. I agree enormously about Lytton’s book;11 but I probably get more pleasure than you do from his sheer cleverness. — I hope you will bring Mrs Hamilton12 some time: I like her very much, she is so fearless and honest. As to money [only for Frank and E. and Lady O. at present — but Whitehead to be consulted if thought wise]: my income, apart from earnings,13 after deducting income tax and life insurance, is very little over £100 a year [this will surprise F. but the reason is creditable — i.e. not extravagance or speculation],14 which one can’t live on. I have lived on charity since Sep. ’16, and although I am immensely grateful, I can’t plan my whole future on that basis. It is very easy for me to earn money by writing on social questions, but impossible to earn by philosophy.15 When I come out from prison I must set to work to earn at least £200 a year somehow. I should not have worried over this, but for the fact that I should like to give myself to philosophy, whereas if I am earning I can only do philosophy in odd moments. Is there any possibility that those who wish me to do philosophy could establish a research fellowship for me? This would also have the advantage of being something definite to put before Geddes. If this is impossible, could you inquire as to ways of earning £200 a year which would leave some leisure for philosophy? [End of message to Ly. O.]

Business. Please bring a piece of soap from my bedroom on Wednesday. Please write to Miss Wrinch at Girton (soon, because term is nearly over) asking her to bring the complete sets of philosophers (which belong to you) from Catling’s in St. Andrews Street.16 She will know which to bring. I want all the books from there gradually, but I have nowhere to put them all at once; but these sets belong at T.H. Please tell Carr and Whitehead I had already petitioned H. O.17 and they must do the rest. I petitioned about 3 weeks ago. Tell them I am writing on Dewey’s Experimental Logic18 for the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology etc. and am then going to read Husserl’s Logische Untersuchungen for review in Mind.19 It is a vast book and will take me nearly till my release. I still want books on the psychology of belief — not causes, but analysis. Perhaps Eliot knows some.20

Existence here is not disagreeable, but for the fact that one can’t see one’s friends. That one fact does make it, to me, very disagreeable — but if I were devoid of affection, like many middle aged men, I should find nothing to dislike. One has no responsibilities, and infinite leisure. My time passes very fruitfully. In a normal day, I do 4 hours philosophical writing, 4 hours philosophical reading, and 4 hours general reading — so you can understand my wanting a lot of books. I have been reading Madame Roland’s memoirs21 and have come to the conclusion that she was a very over-rated woman: snobbish, vain, sentimental, envious — rather a German type. Her last days before her execution were spent in chronicling petty social snubs or triumphs of many years back. She was a democrat chiefly from envy of the noblesse. Prisons in her day were more cheerful than now: she says if she were not writing her memoirs she would be painting flowers or playing an air. Pianos are not provided in Brixton. On the other hand, one is not guillotined on leaving, which is in some ways an advantage. — During my two hours’ exercise I reflect upon all manner of things. It is good to have a time of leisure for reflection and altogether it is a godsend being here. But I don’t want too much godsend!

I am quite happy and my mind is very active. I enjoy the sense that the time is fruitful — after giving out all these last years, reading almost nothing and writing very little and having no opportunity for anything civilized, it is a real delight to get back to a civilized existence. But oh I shall be glad when it is over! I have given up the bad habit of imagining the war may be over some day. One must compare the time with that of the Barbarian invasion. I feel like Appolinaris Sidonius22 — the best one could be would be to be like St. Augustine.23 For the next 1000 years people will look back to the time before 1914 as they did in the Dark Ages to the time before the Goths sacked Rome. Queer animal, Man!

Your loving brother
Bertrand Russell.


  • 1

    [document] The document was edited from the signed original in BR’s handwriting in the Russell Archives. On thin, ruled, laid paper, it consists of a single sheet filled on both sides. It was folded once horizontally and twice vertically. Prisoners’ correspondence was subject to the Governor’s approval. This letter has “CH” (for Carleton Haynes) handwritten at the top, making it an “official” letter, despite not having been written on the blue correspondence form of the prison system. The letter was extracted in BR’s Autobiography, 2: 86.

  • 2

    your letter Frank Russell’s letter of 31 May 1918 (BRACERS 46916).

  • 3

    message to Sanger for Bob Trevelyan BR had placed C.P. Sanger, the multi-talented barrister, second on his “extra” list of preferred visitors (see Letter 5), and he probably intended to use him as a courier of this (unfortunately missing) communication to another old Cambridge friend, the poet and translator Robert Trevelyan (1872–1951).

  • 4

    International Journal to Percy … something in French BR had secreted a short letter (Letter 11) to Colette inside an issue of a periodical, probably The International Journal of Ethics. (See the contents of the April 1918 issue, which could have interested BR and at 150 pages was thick enough to conceal a letter; he had contributed to this periodical as recently as July 1916 [B&R C16.15].) She appears not to have received the letter. BR identified “Percy” in a note at BRACERS 116566: “Another pseudonym for Colette.” “Percy” was a nickname used by Colette’s family and which she continued to use in family correspondence decades later.

  • 5

    York Early in BR’s incarceration Colette had been in York (and Manchester and Scarborough), touring with a theatre company, playing the role of Mabel in Phyl (author unknown).

  • 6

    friend “G.J. is one of Colette’s pseudonyms. The friend I do not know very well is myself.” (BR’s note at BRACERS 93478.)

  • 7

    warmest congratulations to D.M. and H.C. Dorothy Mackenzie had been the fiancée of Lieut. A. Graeme West, a soldier who had written to BR from the Front about politics (see his letters in Auto. 2: 71–2, 76). The Diary of a Dead Officer, a collection of his letters and memorabilia edited by Cyril Joad, was published in 1918 by Allen & Unwin. After West was killed in action in April 1917, BR got to know both Mackenzie and the man she would soon marry, “H.C.”, Hilderic Cousens (1896–1962), a C.O. who after the war became a schoolteacher of Latin and Greek. In a letter written decades later, Dorothy Cousens reminded BR of how she and her late husband had become acquainted: “Long ago in 1918 you contrived for Hilderic and me to work for you in the B<ritish> Museum and get to know each other” (13 March 1962, BRACERS 76030).

  • 8

    driving-tour In a message conveyed in Gladys Rinder’s letter to BR of 25 May 1918, Ottoline gave a brief account of her “short driving tour round the country” with Philip Morrell, and their enjoyment of the great natural beauty (BRACERS 79611). For a lengthier recollection of this journey, see R. Gathorne-Hardy, ed., Ottoline at Garsington: Memoirs of Lady Ottoline Morrell, 1915–1918 (London: Faber and Faber, 1974), pp. 247–8.

  • 9

    How odd that both … truth and madness at the same moment. By “both” BR meant Ottoline and himself. On 28–30? May 1918 (BRACERS 114745), Ottoline wrote: “I have been very depressed lately — for I seem to have torn the Veil off from Life — and left it all so naked and bear<sic> — sun, sun — and I have almost invited those who have not had the desire to look into the eyes of truth — but my faith always returns and I know that the residue that is Left is Sublime — and that Life altho tragic throughout — is worth it — any suffering is worth that divine something that only comes to those whose belief is beaten about by every wind that can blow.” BR had written in Letter 9: “The contrast with Bates is remarkable: one sees how our generation, in comparison, is a little mad, because it has allowed itself glimpses of the truth, and the truth is spectral, insane, ghastly: the more men see of it, the less mental health they retain. The Victorians (dear souls) were sane and successful because they never came anywhere near truth. But for my part I would rather be mad with truth than sane with lies.”

  • 10

    Keats letters Letters of John Keats to His Family and Friends, ed. Sidney Colvin (London: Macmillan, 1891; Russell’s library).

  • 11

    agree enormously about Lytton’s book Ottoline was herself agreeing with BR’s defence of the Victorians (and his attack on Strachey) in a message delivered to her via Gladys Rinder (Letter 7). On 28 May Ottoline had provided BR with this brief critique of Eminent Victorians (1918): “I admire it and think it very good but it hurts me, hurts me to feel the smile and snigger that those fine men who were willing to be thought foolish for their fate — Cooke <Gordon?> in L.S. It is a book that just suits the ordinary clever men of today who are not thinking of risking anything for Faith — indeed they see no Vision — nor believe enough in anything to be carried away out of the ranks of the ‘men of the street’” (BRACERS 114745). See also Letter 27, in which BR (without hinting at the sheer enjoyment he derived from the book) expressed guarded approval of a Times editorial criticizing it.

  • 12

    I hope you will bring Mrs Hamilton Mary Agnes (“Molly”) Hamilton (1882–1966) was seventh on the list of possible visitors drawn up by BR for Frank in Letter 5. A socialist peace campaigner, novelist and journalist, she became one of the first members of the Union of Democratic Control in August 1914. She was acquainted with both Lady Ottoline Morrell and the pacifist literary circle around her at Garsington Manor. After the war Hamilton served for a time as deputy-editor of the Independent Labour Party weekly, The New Leader, and was briefly (1929–31) Labour M.P. for Blackburn.

  • 13

    my income, apart from earnings This would have included income from his marriage settlement. See note 22 in Letters 15 and note 12 in 102.

  • 14

    reason is creditable As BR told Evelyn Whitehead the previous year, he “had got into the way of giving away what I don’t earn” (BRACERS 119038).

  • 15

    impossible to earn by philosophy BR’s logic lectures early in the year (“The Philosophy of Logical Atomism”) produced very little income for him, as evidenced by the earnings record in his 1917–18 pocket diary. The course earned him only £10 (Papers 8: 157–8).

  • 16

    complete sets of philosophers … Catling’s in St. Andrews Street Catling & Son was the Cambridge auction house which had managed the public sale of possessions from BR’s rooms at Trinity College in July 1916 (see S. Turcon, “Russell Sold Up”Russell 6 [1986]: 71–6). These goods had been distrained after BR refused to pay the £100 fine imposed by his first conviction under the Defence of the Realm Act. But friends had resolved to buy back his library — to BR’s slight regret, since he felt that his defiance had been rendered “somewhat futile” by this kindness (Auto. 2: 33). Yet he was relieved that his library — not least its “complete sets of philosophers”, to which he had attached special value at the time (BRACERS 18582) — had not been dispersed. BR reminded his brother that these volumes belonged to him, presumably because they had been part of their father’s collection. Shortly before the auction BR had also been deprived of his lectureship by the Trinity College Council and was thereby compelled to vacate his rooms. BR had stored these books, and possibly other possessions, at Catling & Son rather than at his London flat (which was often sublet) or either of his brother’s homes.

  • 17

    petitioned H.O. See Letter 4. Frank had written on 31 May: “With regard to Dr. Carr and Professor Whitehead the Home Office suggest that you should definitely petition them asking for an extra visit once a week for either or both these gentlemen, setting out clearly that it is for professional reasons connected with your work” (BRACERS 46916).

  • 18

    I am writing on Dewey’s Experimental Logic Published as “Professor Dewey’s Essays in Experimental Logic”, The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 16 (2 Jan. 1919): 5–26 (B&R C19.02); 16 in Papers 8, it was a surprisingly conciliatory defence of his own views against Dewey’s criticism. BR completed his 10,000 word review by early June (see Letter 15). His library holds the copy of Essays in Experimental Logic (Chicago: U. of Chicago P., 1916) that he read and annotated during his imprisonment.

  • 19

    read Husserl’s Logische Untersuchungen for review in Mind Logische Untersuchungen, 2 vols., 2nd ed. (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1913 [part 1 of vol. 2]). While in prison BR did read the first volume of this “vast book” by the German philosopher and founder of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl (1859–1938), but he never did write a review of it. The second edition of the second volume was in two parts, and the second part did not appear until 1921. (See Letter 15.) Nikolay Milkov, “Edmund Husserl and Bertrand Russell, 1905–1918” (in Peter Stone, ed., Bertrand Russell’s Life and Legacy [Wilmington, DE: Vernon P., 2017], p. 84) discusses BR’s intention to write a review, but he cites only one letter (Letter 15) from BR and none to him.

  • 20

    Perhaps Eliot knows some Frank evidently passed on BR’s request, for on 5 July Frank quoted a message from Eliot to BR (BRACERS 116765): “Would Brentano’s ‘Classification of Psychical Phenomena’ interest you? I have it.” Since there was then no English translation, he would have meant Brentano’s Von der Klassifikation der psychischen Phänomene [Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1911]). See Letter 34, note 6.

  • 21

    I have been reading Madame Roland’s memoirs Possibly The Private Memoirs of Madame Roland, ed. Edward Gilpin Johnson (London: Grant Richards, 1901), the reissue of an English translation first published in London only two years after the prominent Girondin (née Marie-Jeanne Philipon, 1754–1793), perished in the Terror. This exculpatory account of her moderate political faction’s role in the French Revolution was hastily written during the five months’ imprisonment that preceded her execution by guillotine.

  • 22

    One must compare ... Barbarian invasion … Appolinaris Sidonius The poems and letters of Gallo-Roman aristocrat Sidonius Apollinaris (c.430–489) shed light on the traditions of both early Christianity and late Antiquity, which were alike threatened in the fifth century by incursions of Germanic tribes into the Western Roman Empire. As Bishop of Auvergne (Clermont) in 474, Sidonius Apollinaris mounted a final, doomed defence of Roman Auvergne against the invading Visigoths.

  • 23

    the best ... like St. Augustine St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430) wrote The City of God as the entire Western Roman Empire stood threatened by Germanic invaders; he died while the port-city in Roman Carthage, of which he was bishop, was under siege by the Vandals. Although the main purpose of his most famous theological treatise was to challenge those blaming the rise of Christianity for the decline of Rome, its truly valuable legacy, according to BR in an eloquent aside written in 1946, was “to sum up the best elements of the perishing civilization and to give them a lasting ideal form, making some kind of beacon of light in the long darkness. This is a great task, and I hope there is someone in our age who can accomplish it” (Papers 11: 82). During the Second World War BR was again inclined to compare himself to St. Augustine (see SLBR 2: 379).

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