BRACERS Record Detail for 46922

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Class no.
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Box no.
Russell, Frank
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BR's address code (if sender)
Notes, topics or text

The letter has the initials "CH" in red ink at the top.

The letter contains messages to Gladys Rinder (with messages for Lowes Dickinson, Percy [Constance Malleson], Dorothy Wrinch), and Elizabeth Russell.

There are several transcriptions of this letter:

Document .079982, and its carbon, .079982a, both described in record 116624.
Document .079983, record 116625.
Document .201174, record 116626 and its carbon, .201190, record 116627.
Document .201200, record 116628, the carbon of document .079983.

An extract of this letter is contained in "Extracts from Letters by Bertrand Russell Written in Brixton Prison". There is both a mimeo (document .080039, record 46966) and a typescript (document .080040, record 117615).

A separate document .079981a, record 116629, has been created for the message to Constance Malleson.

Document .079981b, record 116623 is the messsage to Rinder.
Document .079981c, record 119597 is the message to Elizabeth.


Letter 30

BRACERS 46922. ALS. McMaster
Previous Brixton letter, BRACERS 19317; next letter, BRACERS 18679
Edited by K. Blackwell, A. Bone, N. Griffin and S. Turcon

<Brixton Prison>1
Monday July 1. 1918.

Dear Frank

This week your letter2 has duly arrived in the morning. Thank you for it. — Should like Margaret Davies 17th. Will do review for Stout.3 Can’t imagine why letter was held up. Contract with Lippincott:4 among my letters and papers in big cupboard in sitting-room. If not too much trouble please look it up and send to S. Unwin. I will do index to Roads to Freedom5 myself. Glad people read Mysticism and Logic.6 Many thanks for Hansard containing your Lords’ speech — it was too bellicose7 for my taste!

To Miss Rinder. Amused about C.A. When you write please say I quite understand his being unable to come South.8 As regards his being threatened with tuberculosis, please send my condolences to him and my congratulations to C.E.M. Please thank Dickinson for message9 and say I should love to see him, but he must arrange date with my brother. I have forgotten who Cole is engaged to,10 and should like to be reminded. Please inform Percy that I rejoice to be the object of his continued and unalterable esteem, and that it is mutual. Please give my most sincere sympathy to Miss Wrinch11 — I should be glad to hear more as soon as opportunity offers.

To Elizabeth. Many thanks for your part of letter. Yes, I wish I were going to the opera.12 Thanks very much for gifts which arrived safely and were very welcome. I enjoyed seeing you, greatly — the French book you brought contained some interesting passages but in the main seemed to me not very interesting. I will give it back Wednesday week and I think your judgment on it will be the same. Who is Alan Mackinnon, a novel of whose was sent me?13 I could do with others of his [or more probably hers]. I am amused at your trotting off to the Aristotelian Symposia.14 I fear you will be bored — this is because I think well of your intelligence.

I find seeing Whitehead an immense stimulus, please tell him. I have been thinking a great deal about matters he and I discussed, and there seems to me a lot of interesting work to be done on Facts, Judgments, and propositions. I had given up logic years ago in despair15 of finding out anything more about it but now I begin to see hope. Approaching the old questions from a radically new point of view,16 as I have been doing lately, makes new ideas possible.

Life here goes on just the same week after week. It is a relief to find 2 months of it gone by. I wish I could get out before all the good weather is over — I should like some sort of country holiday before the winter. The world at large seems a trifle less hopeless than it was — the Italian victory on the Piave is to the good.17 So are some other things.

Could you bring me a few more envelopes. I hope you can take away some books as I am getting crowded out. And if you can bring 2 or 3 novels I shall bless you. I have no general philosophic reflections this week — I am bored with the place and wish I were free — but I am getting on with work and very fit. Love to everybody.

Your affec. bro
Bertrand Russell


  • 1

    [document] The letter was edited from BR’s signed, handwritten, single-sheet original in the Frank Russell files in the Russell Archives. It was an “official” letter, approved by “CH”, the Brixton governor, despite not being written on the blue correspondence form of the prison system.

  • 2

    your letter A joint letter from Frank and Elizabeth Russell, dated 22–28 June 1918 (BRACERS 46920).

  • 3

    review for Stout This was not a review of Husserl, which BR had offered his former tutor G.F. Stout, Cambridge philosopher and editor of Mind (1891–1921), on 10 June 1918 (see Letter 15), but rather a critical notice of C.D. Broad’s Perception, Physics, and Reality (Cambridge: U. P., 1914). The book originated as Broad’s fellowship dissertation, which BR had read as an examiner in 1911. His review of the published version appeared in the October 1918 issue of Mind (n.s. 27: 492–8 [B&R C18.08]; 15 in Papers 8).

  • 4

    Contract with Lippincott Despite various efforts by Frank and suggestions by BR, the contract could not be located in the latter’s papers at Gordon Square. However, a typed carbon copy, with seals, is in the Russell Archives (BRACERS 70492) and is dated 11 October 1917.

  • 5

    index to Roads to Freedom By 8 July 1918 (Letter 34) BR had sent his index to Unwin. A Russellian index may have humorous entries: this one includes “Chewing-gum” and “Button-hooks”.

  • 6

    Mysticism and Logic Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays (London: Longmans, Green, 1918) was meant to be a revised collection of essays that was first published as Philosophical Essays (London: Longmans, Green, 1910). The latter title was out of print and the new contract called for a revised edition. In it BR added the title essay (1914), “The Place of Science in a Liberal Education” (1913), “On Scientific Method in Philosophy” (1914), “The Ultimate Constituents of Matter” (1915), “The Relation of Sense-Data to Physics” (1914), “On the Notion of Cause” (1913), and “Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description” (1911) — thus making current the technical philosophical contents — and retained only “A Free Man’s Worship” (1903), “The Study of Mathematics” (1902/1907), and (with six footnotes added in 1917 and an apology for the tone) “Mathematics and the Metaphysicians” (1901). Of the slightly retitled “Free Man’s Worship” (“A” rather than “The”), BR said in the Preface: “I feel less convinced than I did then of the objectivity of good and evil, but the general attitude towards life which is suggested in that essay still seems to me, in the main, the one which must be adopted in times of stress and difficulty by those who have no dogmatic religious beliefs, if inward defeat is to be avoided.” (This was written before his imprisonment.) Of the reviews, BR remarked that T.S. Eliot’s was “the only one with distinction” (Letter 20). BR was, however, very interested to see the review in The Spectator (see Letter 53).

  • 7

    thanks for Hansard ... your Lords’ speech ... too bellicose “League of Nations”, Parliamentary Debates (Lords), 5th ser., 30 (26 June 1918): 419–22. Although clearly sympathetic to the idea of an international authority backed by adequate force, Frank also predicted that national sovereignty would not be willingly sacrificed to the extent required for “at least a generation or two”. He applauded an earlier contribution to the debate by Lord Curzon, in which the government Leader of the House registered scepticism about limiting national armaments and conferring punitive powers on a post-war League of Nations. Using the language that BR may have considered “too bellicose”, Frank accepted that, in approaching this question, a government spokesman must take into account “not only the position of the war and the state of feeling in his own country but the state of feeling of all our Allies”.

  • 8

    Amused about C.A. … unable to come South BR was possibly amused by Rinder’s information (sent via Frank) that Allen would write to him “as soon as C.E.M. <Catherine Marshall> returns” — i.e., to the village in the foothills of the Pennines where they were staying while he convalesced (letter of 28 June 1918, BRACERS 46920). The comment led Frank to wonder whether Allen and Marshall now had “only one mind between them”. (They were rumoured to be having an affair.) The delay was quite sensible, however, as it enabled Marshall to add something to this letter, which BR evidently received before writing Letter 30, since Allen wrote: “God knows when I can get south to see you.” (Marshall added that “Dr. is firm against his going near London at present” [27 June 1918, BRACERS 74282].)

  • 9

    thank Dickinson for message His “message” to BR, communicated by Frank (BRACERS 46920), simply reported his quotation at a dinner party of this remark famously made by BR in Letter 9: “I would rather be mad with truth than sane with lies.”

  • 10

    who Cole is engaged to In August 1918 G.D.H. Cole (1889–1959), economist, historian and political theorist of guild socialism, married Margaret Postgate (1893–1980), socialist writer and (later) Labour member of the London County Council. The couple had met through the No-Conscription Fellowship, which the then pacifist Cole had joined and through which Postgate was working to support her imprisoned brother, Raymond, whose claim for C.O. status had been denied.

  • 11

    sincere sympathy to Miss Wrinch Referring to the affair she had started with another of BR’s students, Raphael Demos, Wrinch reported to BR via Rinder that she had “taken your advice and embarked on an adventure but it isn’t turning out at all successfully” (21 June 1918, BRACERS 79616). By mid-July, however, Rinder assured BR that, however unhappy Wrinch may have been previously, “Dorothy is having a gay time”. Yet her personal life, was becoming, if anything, even more complicated, for Demos, according to Rinder, “is not the only string” (BRACERS 79623).

  • 12

    the opera In a note added to the letter from Frank written between 22 and 28 June 1918 (BRACERS 46920), Elizabeth Russell had told BR that she was going to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, to see a performance of Wagner’s Die Walküre.

  • 13

    Alan Mackinnon, a novel … was sent me Probably Love by Halves (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1917), a debut novel by an author whose biographical details have not been identified. According to a publisher’s advertisement in The Times (11 Dec. 1917, p. 2), the book “tells of the adventures of Ada Lempriere, whose only aim in life is to ‘attract men’”, which may explain BR’s speculation that “Alan Mackinnon” was actually a woman.

  • 14

    I am amused … Aristotelian Symposia Although Elizabeth Russell had mentioned to BR that she and Frank were “going under Dr. Carr’s soft white wing to a symposium at University College” (28 June 1918, BRACERS 46920), they ended up visiting Lord and Lady Pirrie over the weekend in question (see Letter 34). The “symposium” they missed was the joint session of the Aristotelian Society, the British Psychological Society, and the Mind Association, held at the University of London Club on 5–8 July 1918, and at which BR’s student Dorothy Wrinch delivered on the final day a paper entitled “The Summation of Pleasures”. Although the psychologists no longer participate, the “joint sessions” remain to this day Britain’s most important annual philosophy conference.

  • 15

    given up logic years ago in despair See his letter to Ottoline on the effect of Wittgenstein’s criticism of Theory of Knowledge (the 1913 manuscript): “My impulse was shattered, like a wave dashed to pieces against a breakwater. I became filled with utter despair …” (c.4 March 1916, Auto. 2: 57).

  • 16

    Facts, Judgments, and propositions ... a radically new point of view The new point of view was eventually presented in “On Propositions: What They Are and How They Mean” (1919; 20 in Papers 8). BR originally conceived of propositions as mind-independent complexes of particulars and universals. From 1910 to 1913 he eliminated them in favour of judgments in which a mind was related to the individual particulars and universals which had formerly comprised the proposition — a theory he abandoned after 1913 in the face of criticism from Wittgenstein. In “On Propositions” he reintroduced them but this time as complexes of mental or linguistic entities which represent the particulars and universals which, in the original theory, were the actual constituents of the proposition itself. This, at any rate, was the theory towards which BR was working. It is unclear how far he had got at this stage.

  • 17

    Italian victory on the Piave is to the good In fact, the outcome of the second Battle of the Piave River in northeast Italy (15–23 June 1918) was better than “good” for the Allied war effort. In successfully repulsing a bold Austro-Hungarian offensive across a broad front, Italian (and French) forces inflicted a decisive strategic blow on the Central Powers. The morale and cohesion of the Habsburg army was sapped by this crushing defeat, which was a prelude to the collapse of the empire itself only months later.

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