After a year working at Buzzards Bay, the Scott family were invited to join the Garland-Hales at their estate in Bermuda, and Evelyn again takes up the tale:
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In 1921, the Hale-Garland couple went to Bermuda, and the three Scotts were soon asked to proceed there with travelling expenses paid. And though Cyril Kay Scott’s duties were lighter in Bermuda than at Buzzard’s Bay, and his remuneration for these less, the first year in Bermuda could well have been termed a genuine success, as he received enough to rent a small cottage called Greysbank, and to keep his family fed, and in his free hours was not able to write and paint to the extent we had hoped for at Cercadinho, where his acute genre study in the novel, Blind Mice, was written on boards spread on improvised saw-horses, and mostly at night, after farm work, by the dim smoky flare of the sertao’s primitive oil lamp, a tin lamp without chimney described in Escapade.
In the summer of 1922, the three Scotts returned to New York City, briefly, but went back to Bermuda; and meanwhile, Mr Hale—an uncle of my daughter-in-law, Paula Pearson Scott—had evolved a plan for a cottage to be built on the property he owned called Ely’s Lodge, at his expense, to become, with fifteen acres of the ground on which it stood, his gift to Cyril Kay Scott and Evelyn Scott, a capital of fifty thousand dollars, which they would be unable to diminish in their lifetime, but would be the inheritance of their son Creighton Seely Scott—affectionately called Jigg by them, also—on their death, and which, while they lived, would yield them approximately a hundred dollars a month each, and so permit them to sustain independence as creative against all commercial attacks.
This combined generosity was to have made come true the dream of every author, writer and composer of integrity. It was, in fact, put into effect to the extent of the building of the cottage of Bermuda’s native stone according to an architectural drawing by Cyril Kay Scott, who had practical architectural advice on some details; and of a letter sent to Cyril Kay Scott and Evelyn Scott by Marie Tudor Garland-Hale’s lawyers, Hale, Nelles and Shorr, saying that their client, Mrs Hale, was making over to us in permanence fifty thousand dollars on which they were to draw, during their lifetimes, the income its investment then netted of two hundred a month.
We were overcome with gratitude. The cottage, named by Marie Tudor Garland Hale, The Scottage, was completed, and we moved in and found it charming, Ely’s land-locked harbour just beyond our windows, a private pool to bathe from, and our good friends as our nearest neighbours, owning the two estates on both sides of the highroad. Creighton Seely Scott, also, was delighted by the sea at this door, and his friend, Thomas Merton, for his daily playmate.
However, a rift had presented itself even before the hundred a month each had materialized; as, while in New York City, the summer before, Charles Garland had quoted his mother to me as having said that she expected to settle this money on us, but was doing so primarily because of Cyril Kay Scott, as I would have amounted to little without him, was “lazy” and “entirely selfish”. In fact the description of me conveyed by Charles Garland as from his mother’s lips was very similar to that in the Cercadinho section of Cyril Kay Scott’s cut, edited, and in parts re-written by out outsider, Life Is Too Short; not then extant even in mss, and filled with absurd misstatements as to statements about our lives, characters and relations beginning with the Cercadinho section and continued to the end; and exemplified in a purported attributing to himself, by the author, of the author, of the dolls—two in fact and referred to in that book as published as one—I myself made for Creighton Seely Scott on the ranch, from rag, embroidering one crudely with features, and giving the largest—as large as the child himself then—“hair” of the sepoia that held in place the palm thatch on the ranch house roof—tiled just before the ranch was abandoned, half-paid for. The dolls were brought back to the USA, and were left packed in one of the several crates we had to leave behind when we left Bermuda, with books, many personal records—books some of my childhood recovered for me by my mother. Of an inexcusable treatment of Life Is Too Short I will say more in conclusion.
Thomas Merton’s father, Owen, was Evelyn’s lover while they were in Bermuda and later in Southern Europe and North Africa: more on this in the next post.
Cyril’s autobiography, published in 1944. Evelyn took great exception to some of the statements in it about herself and her relationship with Cyril; there are many references to this in her letters in the late 1940s and after.
I here return to the Hale-Garland rupture, as, during our second year in Bermuda, Swinburne Hale and Marie Garland decided to part; and as I, after the disclosures of Charles Garland as to his mother’s view of me, had, in New York City before going back to Bermuda for the winter of 1922-23, insisted on seeing Marie Tudor Garland—as she soon became, again—with Cyril Kay Scott present, and telling her exactly what her son had said in quoting her to me. I said I could no longer feel grateful for my share in her part of the benefits we had been about to receive, and I did not want assistance at the expense of self-respect. Cyril Kay Scott assured her he was with me in my candour and that any self-respecting person would feel as I did.
Marie Tudor Garland wept. She said she did, frankly, think Cyril Kay Scott a wonderful man. She did not know, she said, whether she had been unjust to me or not. But as to the money, which had just begun to be sent to us, it would continue ours, as she had given her “promise” and “never went back on her word”.
Cyril Kay Scott, when she had left the sublet apartment in Patchin Place in which this interview took place, reiterated to me that I was never to doubt his loyalty, but the situation being what it was, I should take the money already arranged for, and especially for Jigg’s sake, put aside a justifiable hurt to pride.
In the second and last winter in Bermuda, 1922-23, we still saw both Marie Tudor Garland and Swinburne Hale; she as cordial as ever, on the surface to Cyril Kay Scott, but somewhat more formal with me; and Swinburne Hale the same to both of us. They were then living apart, he in Ely’s Lodge, and she at Parapet. When we left in either late April or early May, for New York City, we had our personal belongings crated, hoping to be able to have them freighted to us once we found an abiding place elsewhere that would allow us to rent The Scottage in due course when legalities relating to Bermuda law were sorted out, as the Hale-Garland divorce decree was imminent, and, for the time, had all but spoiled the idyllic atmosphere for work The Scottage represented.
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To Lola Ridge
[Ely’s Lodge, Somerset Bridge, Bermuda]
Lola, Darling: There isn’t a book shop in Bermuda! The only place mildly like one is a store called The Tower where you can also buy toys, stationery, and a little hardware. Bermuda consists of about one hundred diminutive islands. The entire population is twenty-thousand and twelve thousand of these are blacks. At least a quarter—maybe a third—of the remaining eight thousand are semi-literate Portuguez immigrants. There is no system of free education, no divorce, no anything later than eighteen twenty. The English here are the Governor a number of bone head military officials and the people who run the naval yard. They are scandalized at mixed bathing, at women who smoke etc. Art has just passed the chrome stage. Among the tourists (and there is about two thousand a month during January February and March several hundred during other months) there are mostly rich Jew clothing store families and tired American business men who come to play golf. The Bermuda public library has Edgeworth, Dickens, Scott, etc etc Gladys also departed and I told her to be sure and go to see you and not be afraid to show you some poetry. She is being annihilated by a kind mother and a hyper-bourgeois home and it would be a godsend if somebody could get her to run away from it. Too much to hope I expect.
Say, dearest, I almost forgot, another lost soul we are sending to you. A little man called Owen Merton, about thirty I should judge, a Scotch Welshman from New Zealand who has been for the last year living in Flushing where his wife recently died and left him two children. He is very hard up, very naïve and genuine, as obscene as Bill Williams, and in all respects an interesting child with real if not stupendous talent. He has been working fiendishly hard at water color and some of his things are very successful. He is as poor as the rest of us and has been trying to eke it would with landscape gardening. It would mean tremendous things to him to be reproduced in Broom as he has been snubbed by some of the people—Daniels Gallery etc. he is bugs on Cezanne and says very illuminating things about him. Admires Charles Demuth very much. Not all of Merton’s stuff would reproduce among modern stuff but a few would. We want him to show them to you I would give more than I have to be able to have a jaw with you and Davy. Just think—a whole year saved up to talk about! Love and love, Evelyn
Gladys Edgerton (as she was then) was writing novels and poetry. Evelyn was very strongly supportive of her efforts and used her influence wherever she could, unsuccessfully, to help Gladys get published. In later years Gladys was a staunch friend of both Evelyn and of Jigg and his family.
 This first mention of Owen Merton does not give any hint of the importance of the relationship that will develop between him and Evelyn. Much will be made of this in the next post.
American watercolourist who developed a style of painting known as “Precisionism”.
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To Lola Ridge
Lola, we need you two just as much as you need Bermuda. Cyril is a dear angel and has finished a novel full of beauty. I have almost finished the SECOND novel since the Narrow House. So this is a workable place. But toward mankind in general I have more and more an acidosis of the heart. My experience of a little notoriety has been to intensify and perfect the Poe-esque conception of the blind hostility of the human race toward anything that disturbs it
I hope the sea trip here won’t make you give up any more of your self. My dear, I know, despite jokes, what a terrible strain must be journeying to you. But I see poems and poems everywhere that are made for your pen. When the weather is good, Lola, the sea here is really unimaginable—the sunlight gets caught in the clear amber shallows in a strange kind of lace like gilded honeycomb—that’s how the light spots are reflected. Further out a little green glass, then jade, then a violent glassy blue spotted with purple or a lighter streak like Verdi-green spotted with a green almost black. It is just color rampant. We have nothing to give you but that and ourselves, but I do think you’d like it for a while. You can work.
Dearest, please write and tell me when you can come and more about you—more news. Love to Davy Evelyn
PS You and Davy better reserve steamer room on a Royal Mail Boat ($70 round trip) now with understanding that you can transfer sailing if you are delayed. Kisses to both
Dearest Lola, Please come. don’t worry about details. We see our way through by getting you here, you staying as long as you want to and getting you back. And I think Davy could easily get work here. I love you both but I’m a rotten correspondent. I want to see you. We’ve a little good luck since and its half yours. This is the Brazilian trip that fell through—you must come. Please, Please, Please. Love to you both, Cyril
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To Lola Ridge
January 7, 1922
Dear precious Lola:
Your letter came an hour ago. I must say AT ONCE how relieved I am. Listen, sweetest, I hope by next boat to be able to send some definite information—or shall I say orders—as to how you and Davy are to come here. I am going to get a man here to look up all the passages and tell me when boats sail where from and what we will need to put it over. Anyhow, March is beastly enough after all for you to want to get away from it and while here it is cold and blustery now, it will be July weather by then. The thermometer has been registering fifty which sounds mild but with a ceaseless sharp wind off the sea and no means whatever of heating it is much worse than one would think. I’m saying this maybe to persuade myself that every cloud is silver lined but it does happen to be true. Now whether you get to New York before I can get you here or not doesn’t matter. You are to come here anyway. If possible you and Davy both. We want Davy terrifically, I only put that if in because you are not to escape through Davy having a job he can’t leave—if such should be the case—this being something you owe to your health. I can imagine what a comfort Davy has been to you. Tell the dear boy that I would rather come to him in trouble than any other man than Cyril and from me nothing more intensive can be said
When I wrote you last we were all in a cottage with Swinburne’s parents who are here. They are the sort of people who think that the Dictionary was delivered into the hands of Daniel Webster on Mount Ararat or something like that. Modern art shocks them unless it is in French. They think ladies don’t use rouge and have various other illusions about the human race. The time spent there—three weeks in all—was hell. Afterward we went with Marie and Swinburne into their house which was and still is on the build and overrun by workmen. Swinburne has been ill—had a curious partial paralysis of the face, they were both very nervous and full of domestic complexes (so were we, I suppose) and inclined subconsciously to consider the fact that they were helping us as an excuse for superficial lacks of consideration. I nearly blew up. Hell again.
Well, now we are in a cottage which has five—six with kitchen—fair sized rooms in semi tropical style—that is whitewashed inside and out. The floors are bare and unpainted and the modern plumbing is represented by a hole in the ground. But it is-when the weather is warm—very comfortable with a sweet view of an inlet and a tiny far off perspective of seas sweeping a reef. The yard too is graciously green with a red leaved hedge they call match-me-if-you-can and numerous hibiscus bushes. It is as quiet as a deserted grave yard—except for Jigeroo (who has had the croup and still joins me in a consumptive chorus of hacks). Cyril and I write most of the day and usually until about eleven at night and he is accomplishing more than he had time to in years. I am already at page one hundred and two on novel number three, having done most of it at night when somehow the world lets you alone and there ceases to be even the pull of things. Then in that abysmal midnight quiet which seems to be in you you can dive into a quiescent sub-conscious and pull up plums by the handful—psychological plums of the first order. [remainder of letter missing]
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To Lola Ridge and Davy Lawson
Now you may wonder why, if Bermuda only produces Englishmen and bad colds, I am so hellbent that you two whom I most want to save from such things, should come here. But this is January—the worst of all Bermuda months—the time when the ghost of New York in February is floating out even this far on the Atlantic. In six weeks the natives inform us it will make good all the promises it gave us when we landed here in opal colored sunshine on waters that looked like a lake of Hudnuts toilet water mingled with best bluing.
LOVE AND LOVE AND LOVE and thank you for your sweet sweet sin on my behalf. Evelyn
To Otto Theis
January 27, 1922
We are still in the rented cottage, the foundation of our prospective home not yet being above ground. Either we were mistaken or Swinburne has recanted for the house is not to be ours in any sense of gift. We are to live in it only as long as we get on with our friends. Sometimes things are rather strained with us. Charity is an unsatisfactory solution of the financial problems of one’s life.
I will tell you tell you something to marvel over though. Cyril is four fifths through with the manuscript of another novel in which he uses an almost perfectly subjective method full of almost idyllic delicacy. I haven’t read it consecutively but I think it will be the best thing he ever did. He writes sometimes a dozen pages in a day. Now Otto take note of this and know that it will never be too late to begin your novel. He thought he was written out—that all the juice of creation was squeezed dry.
But you must have more than enough of these shop opinions. Please write and tell us the details of your scene. We will be interested in everything.
Lots and lots of love from all of us, dear Otto. Evelyn
Siren, published in 1924
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To Lola Ridge
My precious dear, what a perfect hell you have been through. I wish I could give for it something beside cuss words and indignation. Merton wrote me of meeting you and how beautiful you were. We are expecting Swinburne on Monday and hope to find out what will happen to the property down here and consequently to us. Bermuda has been very awful since Christmas in some respects. I am ready to move but except to seeing you and two or three others I wish it were to some place other than New York. I went to New York with such a romantic feeling of discovering and of course only discovered myself there and that mostly so inappropriate to the environment. Wish we had money to take you and Davy to France. God knows if we will get there. Cyril and I have been thinking that rather than come to Bermuda again we should like Martinique or some other hotter queerer place.
Bermuda is in so many ways exquisite and it scarcely affects me any more. Yesterday though I had a thrill out of it. Mary and I canoed outside the islands and saw those wonderful birds again. I think last year I told you of them—long tails of the full family. They are as large as small hawks with a long forked tail and are snow white with red beaks and black dashed wings and black underscored eyes. They fly low over the green water and their breasts are like translucent jade, while the thin edges of their wings pierced by the glare remain a fiery and immaculate white. The tails are blood rose, like flesh held against a lamp. They have the most beautiful swallow flight. In front of us the waste water of a still Atlantic, no land, green and peacock water darkened with shadows, a hot blue sky smutted a little with clouds, and in this stillness that gull mew, far, high up, like the call of a Valkyrie on a mountain top, and those birds passing each other in the amazing stillness, passing and re-passing with the look of delicate and evil angels, strange eyes, black dashed wings, and jade bodies outlined as with a heavenly flame. Oh, Lola, I wish you and the few other people with lovely insides could have looked at it.
We may be up any time. We shall have to find some place cheap to live and somewhere to park Jigeroo. I wrote Gladys that to begin with I would borrow her place. She says you are working on your poems again. Lola, you are one of the wonderful people of your time and you MUST write God damn it, I WISH that I was rich.
My love to Davy and to You. I love you Evelyn
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To Otto Theis
[February 19, 1922]
Beloved Otto: I feel like celebrating when your letters come. Because you are so much yourself in such a self responsible way I find you suggest to me the same kind of equilibrium. They have pulled me out of lots of incipient jimmies. Besides that they are extremely interesting in the facts implied. You have actually started me reading world news again and I enjoy the Outlookevery week it happens to come (convey same to advertising manager to be used when they have some real influence). Imagine us in Bermuda reading the Outlook avidly, snapshot same. Read in the Colonies as well as in London and the Provinces.
Merton maybe I described. Anyway he is five feet seven and slight with a wirey muscular body because for the last five years he has done manual work in order to get enough money to paint periodically. His face doesn’t look like anything much until there is emotion in it, and then his eyes which are brown and set under his brows are very warm and kind and alive. He was smooth faced when he came here but is raising a browny blonde moustache which doesn’t grow evenly because he has a scar on his lip. When he is estranged from his surroundings he looks like a lonesome monkey. Sometimes he reminds me of Harry Lauder because he chews a pipe in a funny way and thrusts out his rather full under lip. He was born in New Zealand and studied water color in London and Paris and lived Paris five years with his wife who died of cancer a year and a half ago. She was an American girl and her family live in Douglastown Long Island. He has two kids, boys, and one of them is here with us now. When he was a kid he went in for Tolstoy and it spoiled his paint. He came to New York had no money and has been a gardener for some rich people who patronized him because they thought it was piquant to have an educated man in that capacity. The wife of the household tried to flirt. He adores Cyril in the most sincere way. And he is himself the most honest to god sincere person I ever saw. Cyril is quite fond of him. He is so emotional that he may talk like a damned fool or he may get off remarks in painting which Cyril says are the most profound he ever heard. He is easily bluffed and the world has put it all over him. I haven’t any illusions about how long this idyllic situation will last and sometimes I want very much to laugh, it is so absurd, and in view of my disgust with Garland messing, so ironic. But Cyril and I know an awful lot about each other and what ever happens to the other two I don’t think we are going to lose each other ever.
Goodbye till next encyclopedia from me. Evelyn
Otto had recently become editor of The Outlook, a popular weekly news magazine published in London which ran until 1928.
 This is the first mention of Merton’s son Tom, who was about the same age as Jigg. The two boys were left to their own devices a good deal of the time; Jigg later spoke of the period in Bermuda with Tom as the happiest time in his life.
To Lola Ridge
Ely’s Lodge, Bermuda
I was SO beastly disappointed not to see you and Davy again, but Lola if you WOULD have seen those last few days! Thursday all day packing and shopping, Friday a whole afternoon at the dentists, more packing and shipping. Friday night and I was so tired I could not go out. I would have telephoned and asked you to come over but I had no phone.
I can’t write a decent letter yet a while, for we are camping out in Ely’s Lodge and in a frightful mess. The hurricane carried off half of the fine cedars on the lawn and a part of the roof so that some of the inside must be done over and many of Marie’s lovely belongings are injured. Our house had just been finished, but the leaky roof has damaged the walls and floors so that all the labor spent there has gone for nothing. It may be three weeks before we can get into it. I am trying to fight off the restless suggestion of upset surroundings and live out of doors in the brilliant peace, heat, blue water, and an atmosphere of indolence.
Cyril has brought a cold with him but he is mentally relaxing and I think we both love to come home to rest in each other after our periodic flirtations with chaos. He is sculpturally perfect and at the same time so warm—finished and yet living, I tried to put in a poem. Cool and warm, white, and warm at the same time.
And Jigeroo is maturing so I feel absolutely humble with pride in him. The summer has improved him wonderfully. I sort of feel all at once face to face with a grown-up mind, lacking the defense of facts but quite equal to any I can supply.
Well, as you will see my spirits, considering that I am unwell, are pale rose that may later mount to crimson—this certainly if you come to see us.
Love you. Cyril and Jigeroo do too. Evelyn
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Maude Thomas to Evelyn Scott
March 26, 1923
Just a note to tell you that I asked J if he would find out if Seely would help me, and relieve him of the job, but he declined to communicate with S, and said I could write to you to do so, as you were the only person who had any influence on him &c. He spoke of my being “on the edge of the brink”, and other cheerful things. I never felt more energetic than I do now, and am anxious to get work, or training for something to do, away from here, if I get out of this deadly atmosphere my health with improve, or my nerves, that’s where the trouble is. But I can get no assistance from J. It has been made plain that I am not wanted here, except that I have not been told so, and if it is humanly possible I want to leave before I am invited to. I cannot blame J for wanting to free himself. I know that I am a helpless sort of person, and have not taken responsibilities, but you may be sure I will learn to take care of myself, and not worry you if—I can get some financial help, but how can I accomplish any thing without a penny? It tickled my sense of humour when I found I was so near dissolution.
I understand that Seely has built some apartments, in Washington, also his home, and that he has a life job with a fine salary, and that $30,000 worth of gems were found in the big safe in your grandfather’s house, which he gave to his wife, and the home place is for sale in Nov at $20,000.
With love to you and dear Jigaroo, Mother
PS Seely’s address is “Interstate Commerce Commission Statistical Department, Washington, DC”
I have been working hard on Portuguese translations, but am waiting on Nettos “O Sertao”, that was ordered from Brazil for me two months ago, and over, and still has not arrived, and later I may find that copyright laws prevent its being published I thought of selecting one or two things from it to add to the five tales I have finished, and perhaps translating the whole book next. Copyright, bars the outside translator, most awfully. As far as I know it has never been translated in America, though Dr Isaac Goldberg has translated one of the tales in it, that The Four Seas Co published.
J did you the honor to say that you had a “brilliant mind”.
Julian Gracey, Maude’s cousin, with whom she was sent to live after the family returned from Brazil.
After divorcing Maude, Seely married Melissa Whitehead, about whom much will be written in 1947. Later, after Seely died, Evelyn based her quest for her father’s will in part on this information.
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In early 1923 Merton returned to the US and to Buzzards Bay to see his older son, Jean Paul, who had been staying with Merton’s in-laws on Long Island. He was conscious of being indebted to Cyril and was trying to find galleries which would exhibit, and sell, his paintings in order to repay this debt.
* * * * *
From Owen Merton
Landscape Designs Color Schemes for Flower Gardens
57 Hillside Avenue
Flushing, L I
Bay End Farm, Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts
April 19. 1923
My dear Cyril—
From what Gladys said to me in a note I had yesterday I think Evelyn must have been pretty depressed. I don’t know exactly why except that Swinburne’s visit must not have turned out well. Look here—I wish I had better news of large sums of money, from here, but I am really doing as well with landscape painting as I had any reason to expect to, this spring—and I did very damned thing I could to try and arrange that sales of pictures will take place. You know you can’t rush in somewhere, and simply say “give me 100 dollars for this”. By the end of this month I shall have at least 500 dollars—and what I want to say is, “For Gods sake take it, and get away as soon as you want to. I know you won’t either of you want to stay in New York. If you could borrow a little of the money you could stay quietly in France until I am able to come, and I shall certainly get in some more. I know damned well I can get 2000 dollars if I try hard enough. I have never been licked yet at any special thing I set out to do, and I can certainly do this.
If my failure to get in a lot of money might away is responsible for some of Evelyn’s depression—cheer her up—because I have not done every damned thing I can yet—and I am really more vigorous and strong after this, than I have ever been after anything.
I want to come down and meet you, and I hope Tom is not complicating things too much by his disobedience. Damn it, Scott, I will fix things. Don’t be disappointed with me, if things are not too hopeful on appearances so far. They really are more hopeful than they seem to be. Bon courage.
Owen’s elder son, who was near Jig’s age and was living with the Scotts. Tom and Jig were close playmates
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Not long after this the Scott family, plus Owen Merton, decided that they would be better off in Europe. Southern Europe offered not only a warm climate but the opportunity for Cyril and Owen to develop their painting styles in the landscapes afforded by the medieval towns along the Mediterranean coast.
And so the relationship between Evelyn and Merton developed.
NB: Evelyn’s letters were often lengthy and were concerned with news of other friends as well as commentary on current artistic trends and accounts of her relationships with her publishers. Quoting these letters in full would be beyond the scope of this blog, and they have been heavily edited.