35. London and second-hand clothing

Margaret DeSilver, a well-connected and wealthy Manhattan socialite, would soon be a major player in the lives of Evelyn and Jack. None of the letters in the collection gives any indication as to how they met, possibly in the 1930s or  early 1940s, but it is clear from the letters that have been found that their relationship had been in existence for some time and that it was close.  It becomes more and more important, as will be seen in later chapters.

The start of this sequence finds Jack visiting New York in order to maintain his right to residency in the United States.  He is also using the opportunity to seek employment, while Evelyn is taking advantage of his visit to try to gain information about Jigg’s whereabouts.

* * * * *

To Cyril Kay Scott

For Jack to send on to Cyril please
26 Belsize Crescent
August 30, 1947

My dear Cyril,

I am asking this to be sent by Jack who is now in New York, at Margaret De Silver’s, and who I know would like very much to see you herself for his own pleasure and because the affectionate regard of us both is the same as ever.

The object of this letter, however, is to implore you–and I mean implore–to relieve my distress and the distress Jack feels on my behalf and as one genuinely fond of Jig regarding his strange treatment of both of us, who have written to him repeatedly in the three years since I stayed with him and Pavla at their express invitation to do so; and had, except for the atmosphere imposed by war, a good visit and when I left took a most affectionate farewell of them and their children, anticipating that we would always be the good friends we have been throughout our lives.

I have been here three years and a few months, and for the first two years I wrote to Jig regularly every week (not very interesting letters, perhaps, but that was the war), and no reply did I ever have, except two brief notes from Pavla, which acknowledged by inference that my letters were being received in Tappan.

Jig and Pavla both know very well that my feeling for their three children is the normal affectionately interested one of any grandmother, and while Jack is, as he would say, “just a step-gran’pappy”, he also is interested in them and would enjoy meeting them and getting acquainted.

Knowing that every day during this long interval I have spoken of Jig and every day have thought of him and almost every day have asked aloud why Jig didn’t write, when Jack left the first thing he promised was to ascertain Jig’s address which has never been given us since they left Tappan and see Jig if he could in any case write to Jig there and get a reply which would clear the air of what has become a miasma of mystification and very positive unhappiness, which is the proof of my normality as a mother.

I have been, during all this last year, reduced to sending any mail I wanted to reach Jig to Ralph Pearson, who refuses to give Jig’s address, and offers no explanation whatever as to why, merely says he was “asked not to”.

I cannot force Jig to conduct himself like himself humanly generously decently scrupulously.  During his entire life he has always been good honest responsive sensitive and civilized, but to remember the evidence as we both do of that makes the present situation the less tolerable the more completely incomprehensible.  What suggestions have been made to him?  Who is inducing an attitude so at odds with what he humanly is.  And explanation of any sort would be a godsend.

I have been humiliated by having sent letters to the Broadcasting Company, registered which advertise to the public that my son for some good damn phoney suggested fool no-reason acts as if I were dead WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY.  We have never quarrelled, we have had a few “spats” that never lasted but we have never quarrelled.  Therefore Creighton, who has also experienced the war–this last war–not the other–cannot with his intellect possibly believe he can “lose himself” in that way.  There are all the ties he has to some extent chosen, in marrying Pavla, in the responsibilities resultant; but additionally he is in continual contact, whether he prefers it or not, with Pearsons, Hales, Brownells1 and Fosters, who, whether or not well-meaning (it remains to be proved that they are, except as regards Pavla) do not appreciate Jig, have NOT the brains the taste the perspicacity the insights into art and living that his father and his step-father and his mother have why the hell and in the name of all common sense then, should Jig be a sort of domestic martyr, to every sort of imposed family tie, and be cut off from the one assortment relatives with whom he has things actually in common. I resent the situation on Jig’s behalf just as much on my own.  Pavla is a good sensible girl, she has an average good mind but she is not profound, she is not extraordinary and she is in many ways lacking in perspicacity as regards the things in which Jig’s interest is most vital. [1952–Pavla intellect cannot be assessed as she was too young and immature at marriage for judgements–This was provoked by her then apparent exclusion of me–circumstantial only I hope]

This is not a mother-in-law’s opinion–I was very fond of Pavla and I will be easily fond of her again in a normal atmosphere with normal behaviour on her part towards ourselves.  But I have and do resent (with reservations, for the letter seemed so unlike herself that I have interpreted it in the light of various possible excuses or justifications of the moment, as she saw things, how wrongly–and certainly it was wrongly) the fact that I was sent a letter with such a content (I hadn’t known before the baby was expected) and with no address, and have been left in the period mental torment resultant from such a hiatus in communication.

If I could think of it as deliberate it would be hard to forgive but I think we have every one of us been so controlled and manipulated by every sort of force and influence during the war, that my view of what has happened is based on that, any my judgement of it is a continent one.

You can always assure Jig (though he should know it anyhow) that I will never be a “clinging” mother and that Jack any myself have our own careers work and interests and do not “batten” psychologically, or otherwise But normal human affection has its demands, too, and in a world all but ruined by the rotten putrid totes (and may they meet their annihilation), no one who values his or her integrity of individuality can afford to slight normal human feelings.

So let’s abolish “mystification”.

With the affection best wishes I know Jack shares I am as we both are again
Your very admiringly,

A reference to Paula’s maternal aunts, and particularly her great aunt Gertrude Brownell

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Eastham, Massachusetts
September 6 [1947]

Dear Evelyn:-

I hope you got the $50 in time.  The mails are so slow and your letter had to also be forwarded from NY.

The reason I seem so unresponsive and do not answer your letters is because I am anyway rather confused politically and of course do not know the situation in England at first hand as you do, but my sympathies, as you must surely know by know, are with the Labor Party in general, and here in USA with the Socialist Party, so there really is not much that I can say.  As for the world of arts and letters, I certainly agree with you that it is in a woeful state, but I do not know what I, as a Philistine, can do about it except to buy the books and the paintings that I like and to protest that this and that are not published or exhibited.  My protests are, of course, entirely futile, as I am not a figure or a force in those worlds and have absolutely no chance of appearing authoritative, natch.

As for Jig, that is a personal matter about which I am also entirely incompetent, as I do not even know where he lives, and letters I have written to him in the past, merely friendly, neighborly letters, have gone unacknowledged.  Harrison1 has clear and friendly recollections of Jig and frequently says he would like to get in touch with him but it appears to be quite impossible. [She knows why I ceased to see them and I should think someone could have relieved my anxiety about taking “sides”.  Margaret is included in all I say of Jig—details different that’s all why guess]

Anyway, as you know, I love and admire you and Jack and do wish things were not so rotten for you.  But I think it unfair of you to make your friends responsible for all your troubles.  People really DO still protest, but the forces are such that their voices simply are smothered.

Margaret DeS

[They should have some sense about Jig.  These silences cannot be an advantage to him, they are a painful embarrassment  Jig is fine of spirit I say, and certainly they cannot deny he has intellect—his book]

This may well be Harrison, or Hal, Smith, who had previously published a number of Evelyn’s books.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

I AM OFFICALLY EVELYN SCOTT AS WELL AS MRS W J METCALFE

Reynolds, Richards & McCutcheon
Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
68 William Street
New York 5, NY

September 22, 1947

[1952—London they were at first reluctant to cash anything for Evelyn Scott legal professional signature as author—Evelyn Scott Evelyn D S Metcalfe was Margaret’s gift I was here alone and literally without a cent Jack was trying to get job in the States]

Dear Madam:

Herewith, draft No D-14306 for $50 drawn on the Central Hanover Bank & Trust Company, 7 Princes Street, London, England, to the order of Evelyn Scott, which is sent at the request of Mrs Margaret DeSilver.

Very truly yours,
REYNOLDS RICHARDS & McCUTCHEON

Cc:  Mrs Margaret DeSilver

[1952 The Bank here has since cashed checks to Evelyn Scott but Jack had left me access to his account with the signature Evelyn D S Metcalfe.  Everything, in 1947, was a bloody mess.]

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[October 8, 1947]

EVELYN METCALFE 26 BELSIZE CRESCENT HAMPSTEAD LONDON NW3

SAILING OCTOBER 8 ARRIVING OCTOBER 17 POST OBTAINED LONDON CORRESPONDENT OF NEWYORK PERIODICAL  DEAREST LOVE.  JACK

[They went back on this offer letting Jack work at it 6 weeks pallid also racket]

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[October 10, 1947]

EVELYN METCALfE 26 BELSIZE CRESCENT HAMPSTEAD LDN NW3

NOW SAILING ON QUEEN MARY ARRIVING SIXTEENTH OR EARLY SEVENTEENTH LOVE. JACK

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

October 11, 1947

My dear Mag,

The Reynolds, Richards McCutcheon letter with your gift was received by me just a few days after you wrote yourself you were sending it, and is now with the bank, having arrived in the nick of time, when, again, due to “this and that” (and god rot this and that) I had just two pounds cash left to draw on.  [1952—I had not a cent left in the house–literal]

Yes it was the first time (barring five dollars sent once, which insulted me) that I have received any money whatsoever since I have been in England this time.  When I was here as a Guggenheim Fellow1 I cashed checks here of fund money, and when Jack had enough, in Suffolk, he opened an account for me so that whether the money was for my books or his I would not have to consult him about what I spent for personal necessities.

Mag darling, I told you, I would write you more about what’s wrong with “this and that”, and I am doing so.  And my situation as it has been so far is especially unjust as regards Jack himself, on whom has devolved the responsibility for maintaining us both, which he has done impeccably; but it has been often by “odd jobs” which sacrificed the time he requires for creative work; and as normally I earned as much as he did (sometimes one more sometimes the other) also at creative work, there was never a more senseless and inexcusable waste of two talents.

I will go to the Bank again to make sure the gift has been cleared (I went there on Thursday and they thought so, but I didn’t try to do anything as to drawing on it), and if it is and I am pretty sure it must be, I will mail this then with my very great and continued affection, because the most important thing to say here really is that you have again done something generous and genuinely good that is just Margaret and thank you very much.

Evelyn

Evelyn had received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation in 1932 and, exceptionally, a further grant a year later. These were intended as financial support to enable her to write, and did not carry any duties with them.

* * * * *

 To O  C Reynolds

October 11, 1947

Mr Oliver C Reynolds
Reynolds, Richards and McCutcheon
Attorneys and Counselors at Law
68 William Street, New York City USA

Dear Sir,

Mrs Margaret De Silver has just written me enclosing the carbon of your original letter of September 22nd, 47, containing draft No D-14306 for $50 dollars drawn on the Central Hanover Bank and Trust Company, 7 Princes Street London, England, at the request of Mrs Margaret De Silver and made out to myself Evelyn Scott

Your letter and the draft would have been acknowledged earlier, but I did not receive it until about eight days ago and the Bank, when I last called there, on Thursday (this is Saturday) had not yet cleared it, but were sure it was all right and will be cleared when I go there to draw on it or before.  As a gift I am sure it is all right, but the longer time it has taken to clear it may have been due to its having been sent to me in my professional name which was my legal name when married to Cyril Kay Scott, and which is still my legal name as regards books contracts and anything of a business nature appertaining to my literary career, but which, incredibly, I have not used officially since I arrived here during the bombing phase of the war, as the literary careers of myself and my husband have been very much interrupted until recently.

However, we are beginning to re-establish ourselves normally, and while Mrs De Silver has apologized for having sent the draft that way, she need not have done so, as after all, the preservation of my continuity as a writer in an official as well as unofficial way is important to me, and especially as my son Creighton is also a Scott.

The draft was deposited in the account of my present husband W J Metcalfe, who is John Metcalfe the British author and publishes in the USA.

Thanking you for having sent Mrs De Silver’s generous and appreciated gift.

Very truly yours

I am very explicit, because I dislike “pokers, pryers and snoopers”, and if it is actually true, as is published in the papers, that the Government reads your mail, I just think it best to tell everything relevant.

* * * * *

To Margaret DeSilver

October 17, 1947

Margaret my dear

Jack arrived yesterday evening full of good news of yourself as the best friend ever was.  I did not know you had again helped out about the Queen Mary and my gratitude is reintensified.  These have been a very long two months and a half, and when Jack cabled about the change of boats, I was relieved for his sake and my own that he was not obliged to put up with the terrible accommodations of the previous voyage.  But I did not know it was entirely due to you yourself that he was able to arrange the transfer and actually, as your air mail saying he was “on his way” arrived last Tuesday or Wednesday, and I thought the Queen Mary took just four days, I didn’t believe Jack was here until he was at the front door.  And my delight was all the greater, and I have been wishing all day I knew what I could do for Margaret De Silver that was half as good as what she has been doing for us both.

He feels very much encouraged about things as a result of this renewed contact with USA friends and so do I, and the one thing yet to be solved in personal relations is how to re-establish normal communication with Jig, but I am certain that it will be re-established and we will be all three good friends and able to express what is our fundamentally affectionate attitude given a little time.  I have my own idea as to how a situation as a-typical of ourselves has come about, and of course while I won’t blame anybody until I am quite sure about blame, I think it probable Pavla has been stuffed with absurd suggestions, which may or may not have been absorbed.  She is herself honest, but is susceptible to suggestion, an she may have been jealous because of misinterpreting various things due entirely to the war.  She may have actually told Jig a whopper, also as a result of her excitability, and I think the difficulty probably is just that, as it explains by inference some comments Jig made while I was there that I did not understand. But he himself is so completely honest, that, as she was originally, I hope it will clear up.  (Margué may be the nigger in the wood pile, as she is ridden by fake theories of behaviour, and was continually inventing “complexes”, just fool in my opinion.)

I wish I could, I say again, do half as much for you as you for us.

1The preface to Life Is Too Short was written by Cyril’s eldest son, Paul I Wellman

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary

Jack earned his modest living as a teacher in a series of private prep schools or “crammers”, teaching mainly algebra and Latin.  He kept a diary for many years, recording in his neat schoolmasterly hand each day’s events in a kind of staccato narrative. His life was ordered and orderly, and this was reflected in the diary entries, often brief and very similar from one day to the next.  Sometimes they varied .  .  .

December 25, 1947: Breakfast. Work. Coffee. Work. Lunch. Felt mouldy and went to bed. Got up again and had tea. Supper of steak. More work at Maths. Cake and bed.
January 28, 1948: Gladys has sent a box of typewriter paper, very welcome; – and the paper is excellent quality.
March 12, 1948: E’s teeth troubling her greatly of late.
April 18, 1948: E still very poorly with jaw-ache.
May 10, 1948: Letter to E from B Baumgarten asking E to employ another agent.
June 25, 1948: Letter from Gladys with $50 arrived just as I was leaving for school.
July 12, 1948: Posted letter to Maggie, also letters (3) from E to possible agents

* * * * *

No letters from or to  Otto Theis or his wife Louise Morgan for the 20 or so years prior to this letter were found during the search for Evelyn’s correspondence.  This does not mean that there were none:  it is clear from the tone of the letters that were found that the relationship continued and was warm. 

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

August 13, 1948

[First page(s) missing]  Standing as regards clothes any one of these acceptable and every one needed.  I have a pair of slacks and some old blouses for wear indoors.  I have a coat ten years old and somewhat out of style for very cold weather (worn but usable if not smart)

I have not a pair of shoes—brown or black or both very acceptable, size five-and-a-half c last, for highish heel dress, five d last for a tennis or heelless shoe (and in espadrilles I wore four and a half d—I like low or moderate heels (very high, tire) wear sandals indoors when I have them, and though having no dressy shoes, would still find good black grey or brown evening shoes second-hand acceptable, as of possible use with all future dress (have an old blue dressing gown and no slippers, by the way).

I have no moderate weight or light coat, nothing for moderate winter weather or coolish summer fall or spring; and either a sports coat or a dressy coat (or of course both) would be most welcome—size thirty-six bust gives a good coat shoulder (the best jacket shoulder is thirty-four, but usually the skirt measures don’t g, being larger in waist, and longer in skirt than a misses size)—and as becomingness is as important as warmth, I may say, that I can wear to advantage brown black sage green medium green (can’t wear acid green or bottle green) tan, beige, fawn, and any subdued mixture of tan or beige with green or blue or yellow or orange, or any very small pin-stripe on a tan or brown or fawn base, also russet and deep wine (not bluish) and navy blue, but don’t like, and I can’t wear (beside bottle and acid green) black-and white (hideous), white (horrors), very pale fawn (terrible) and though I can wear navy blue, it is not really becoming, just passable, and lacks interest when you have few clothes as it is more difficult than brown black and beige to combine with various other colours, can’t wear grey (atrocious).

I have no suit except one bought in 1938 and darned, as well as démodé, the skirt conspicuously short.  So a coat suit would be very very very acceptable; and the range of colour is about the same as for coats, although the matter of combining other colours with it figures more importantly than as regards coats, and I can wear yellow blouses with brown, green blouses with brown, pink and cherry blouses with brown navy blue and black, and pale blue blouses with all three; and, as well, especially with black blouses in any interesting floral strip or check if it is small, the more colours combined in one textile subduedly the more interesting the effect with a plain suit.

I have no dresses whatever; neither for hot or cold weather sports or afternoon or evening, so every sort of dress is a fine fine fine if in style, with a close-fitting blouse or top and a longish, flaring skirt.  A black dress with subduedly vivid colour touches, or a black dress with cream (can’t wear white touches, hideous), or a dress in a very small and intricate floral pattern on a black brown or green base.

I have not any stockings, I have no underwear nor rags, especially step-ins and bras (a few frayed, 6 slips, all much too short to be of any use now); my stocking size is eight and a half, step-ins with elastic 28 waist without elastic 29, brassieres 34 bust.

I also greatly appreciate elastic step-in girdles without bones but with hose-supporters, price new one dollar and a half, 28 waist, like the step-ins, slips 34 bust.

I have not a hat of any sort, but hats are something you have to buy yourself, in most instances, though sometimes toques or tie-on turbans or comprise headgear can be used second-hand.

Well there is the situation and of course blouses in any of the colours mentioned as becoming would be gratefully received—thirty-four or thirty-six (thirty-four not washable, thirty-six washable).

Slacks eighteen year size (I have a pair, but just one) twenty-nine waist, brown black blue dark (not bottle) green, pin stripes in same, and any material including corduroy which I like very much in most colours.

I don’t expect any one source to supply all these, nor do I anticipate a full supply from every available source combined, but it does seem possible some could be acquired and sent over, if I do not over-tax, the generosity of those to whom I appeal.

I didn’t mention the evening dress, but if any are going and in the mode, all the better; but I cannot wear a real decolette now, having got too “old and skinny”; and I actually cannot stand the temperature indoors here well enough to wear thin clothes without an evening jacket—so that ingredient is more complicated.

A black brown or green dress, or a black dress with touches of interesting colour, just decolette enough to not to be mistaken for a “day dress” is what I would buy if I could buy one and with it, either as part of a costume, or as combinable with the dress, a short wrap of the jackety order, with a touch of trimming in colour if it were black, or perhaps if the dress were black the jacket could be one of the becoming colours subdued but contrasting. [remainder of letter missing]

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan and Otto Theis

Personal
August 15, 1948

My dear Louise and Otto

I have written to both Lenore Marshall  and to Margaret de Silver and shall write to some others, asking them to try and locate friends who will donate me some second-hand clothes in good style, so I can make a front here and get about some.  But we cannot pay duty and I can get no assurance that any clothes will reach me really free, and I am therefore trying to find somebody who is coming to England to visit and could bring a few things second-hand with her own clothes (a woman, it would have to be).  And as you two have mentioned seeing Americans, and brought the California girl here, I have wondered if yourselves or perhaps Sophie and Ruth might not know somebody who was about to visit England who would be willing to include such gifts for me with their belongings and deliver them on arrival.

It is a favour I dislike asking, but the situation fully justifies it I think; otherwise, I might as well be in prison.  I haven’t even marketed since May.  Not a step can I stir from the house under these conditions.

Perhaps Sophie and Ruth themselves might know somebody who had something used but not worn and in good style and though I know this is chance, I include with this a list of needs of measurements to send on to them if you yourselves consider it fitting.

I stress style because I want to put up a good front, and I don’t want just “kivver”1, as per charlady, as that would defeats the real purpose of being decently dressed again, but though it is a lot to ask, I know Sophie is already au courrant with some of the charitable wealthy and as I have written Margaret, Marie Garland supplied me with half a wardrobe of very expensive good quality clothes which were not entirely satisfactory only because I had to have them altered; which I couldn’t now afford and which seems about the hardest thing to get done in London there is, judging by our previous experiences in that line.

So if Sophie or Ruth know anybody with clothes to contribute and also know somebody who is soon to arrive in England that would be splendid.  And if they know somebody who would bring clothes and would be good enough to communicate with Lenore Marshall (better post than phone) and with Margaret in case they have anything to contribute—then that will again be good and whatever we do eventually get on books will not have drains on it, to the same extent, for to solve the problem, we actually require several thousand dollars (house repairs, painting, etc, a good sale, not a sacrifice, taxes, and things including clothes and dentist needed by Jack too.

And so I throw myself on your generosity, for the time—if you can do anything, as I say, well and good and whether you can or not it is very much to be appreciated that I can discuss things with you both with complete candour.

our love
Evelyn

1Cod-Cockney for “cover” or clothing.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

September 13, 1948

My dear Louise

I am glad you did not phone, again.  Often here, too, the phone rings, just as Jack is about to call somebody for me—I do so less often), and we have also been treated to hocus-pocus, by way of tangled wires, on so many occasions, a few weeks ago, we had to leave the phone off the hook overnight and a good deal of the day, until whatever flim-flam corrected it was summoned, to have any peace whatever.  This has occurred so many times, in the last four years, if a normal telephone service were not a great convenience, in emergencies, I would get rid of it.  But of course normally it can be useful, and I just wish, too, the public knew what shenanigan went on to produce, repeatedly, such silly business.

I am obliged for suggestions about where to get clothes cheap, and hope these not utility1, for as I said, when dressed at all, I want to be dressed as suits myself and not as the government dictates, or anybody dictates.  We haven’t got six pounds.  We have under five a week, and most of it goes on the house so we just can buy food and some smokes. But when we make some money I can apply to the place you mention.

But I admit fit is the second-hand problem, though it is difficult to believe Sophie would be anything but willing to inquire of the millionaires she knows when opportune.

And again this brings us back to the vital issue, and the sensible view abut publishing and selling enough in both Britain and America to render charity to authors superfluous.  If it weren’t for racket controlling, I think every one of us be already without the necessity to ask the favours.

Everything good to yourselves to Jack’s book my book and the book about which I am eager to have clear facts—here’s hoping we soon have true facts about public matters, too, and give up huge plans, and a power war which is affecting us everyday, largely because the public is ignorant of the techniques and methods by which it is promulgated, and electorates can’t yet and should demand responsibility of irresponsible governments and forces.

Evelyn with love

During and for some years after the war, clothing was rationed and what was available met standards designed to reduce the use of fabric: these “utility” standards sometimes but not always affected their stylishness. Evelyn clearly thought them not stylish.

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

September 13, 1948: Letter from Gladys enclosing $25.
September 24, 1948: E got cheque for $50 from Maggie, which I paid into bank (it was made out to me)
October 14, 1948: Went into town and bought children’s book for Denise at Foyles. E got first parcel of clothes from Maggie today.
October 15, 1948: Bought more children’s books at Foyles.
October 16: 1948: Further parcel of clothes came for her today from Maggie
October 29, 1948: E got another parcel of clothes from Maggie.
November 26, 1948: . . . also packet of typewriting paper from Gladys.
December 25, 1948: At home all day, working mainly on Scilly novel. Removed teeth after tea, as very sore. Supper of steak. Work. Bed.March 14, 1949: Got letter from Margaret with $100
April 4, 1949: In evening found out we had run out of American-size typewriter paper, – and E accordingly depressed.

* * * * *

In November 1949, Jigg decided to try to find employment in Europe, and sailed to London en route to Paris. He had been given some small commissions in England and hoped to find work at the BBC or, failing that, a post in Paris, for which he felt he was well qualified with his fluent French and his extensive experience in radio journalism. The family had moved to Rutherford, New Jersey, where they lived at three different addresses during the following 18 months, including the period Jigg was in Europe.

 

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 17, 1949: Found E had opened in error letter for me from Pavla to say Jig coming to London.
November 20, 1949: Jig rang up from Regent Palace Hotel and arrived soon afterwards, bringing whisky. He stayed the night, company retiring, after coffee, at about 1.30

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Regent Palace Hotel, London
Monday, November 21, 1949

Dearest baby—

I had a very severe shock a while ago.  The telephone in my room rang and when I answered it, it was my mother.  The letter you sent care of Jack was the means by which she knew I was coming; and they found out where I was by the simple expedient of calling up the Cunard line every day and asking where I would stay until the right ship came in.  Naturally I had to go out there, which I did last evening.

It was awful.  E Scott is much better—in fact, she is quite changed.  But they are both living in a state which I can only describe as near-destitution.  The house is up for sale.  For a while they hoped to live on some money the government allotted them to repair bomb damage; but that was not allowed.  Jack is very sick with the same thing Dad had—an infected prostate, but he can’t have it out because he does not dare give up the occasional tutoring jobs by which they keep body and soul together and take the time to be operated on.  They are both almost emaciated and so shabby they are quite ragged.  The rent from the house is no longer enough even to keep the house going, and the price of fuel and repairs, etc, has skyrocketed in the last few months so that they are heavily in the red.  Lately they have been unable to pay for the gas which heats the house, and the tenants are threatening to leave.  If that happened, they would have to leave themselves, with no place to go.  Jack has been trying to look for a job, but he can’t because he has no decent clothes, and all he has been able to get is a few kids to tutor.

I went out last night and stayed until midnight, then found that the underground closes and that there are no cabs late at night, so I slept on the couch.  But they no longer have even enough blankets to keep warm, and I slept under a coat.

I couldn’t stand it.  The upshot is that I lent them fifty dollars, mostly to pay the gas bill, buy a few clothes, and get something to eat.  They will also be able to fix up one of their 4 rooms so that they can take a lodger.

I’m sorry, baby.  It is really appalling.  Nobody asked me for anything but I just couldn’t stand it.  Blood is a little thicker than water, and it’s hard to watch anybody living on oatmeal.  I am sending out some of the grub I brought with me.

If you can raise the missing fifty I will be all right.  My room here is paid for until Wednesday—that is, Thursday morning, when I shall be able to go to a pension and live much more cheaply.  However, I find I can’t do that until they give me my ration books, which won’t be until Wednesday.

Try to raise it from two sources, on the grounds that my going to work is delayed by red tape.  It seems to me that Glads and Julia could do that between them.  I shall be in a frightful jam if I don’t get it, but I will do the best I can.  You should get a bank draft and send it to me here, or wire it here (to this hotel).  Even if I have moved, I can always get mail from the hall porter after I have left.

I am terribly sorry, baby.  The letter care of Jack was a mistake, and I should not have gone out there, but I didn’t know what I was getting into.  And I just simply couldn’t take it all in my stride.

I have told them that I am leaving for the continent on Wednesday, so they don’t expect to see me again excepting perhaps for a brief visit, which I can’t refuse.  I have between 35 and 40 dollars left, and that will do the trick if I can get the other fifty.  I would think up any reason but the real one, if I were you.  Tell them I have to pay for a laboring permit—anything you decide is propitious. I will avoid pitfalls hereafter.

The other thing I am in a hurry about is the letter to the Newsweek man in Paris.  I want to start planning to do something about that if life here seems too rough.  Paris is, I am told, quite comfortable, and we may be happier there.

I have a terrible pip at the moment, and I am sorry to afflict you with this dismal letter.  By the time I have seen BBC and so forth, I will feel better.  I have to get started pretty soon.  I intend to take a nap and then start on my rounds—I didn’t sleep at all last night.  I’ll let you know what I find out pronto.

When you send money or the letter to Jess Jones, send it airmail, or if you find it cheap enough, wire to me.  Perhaps you can send money with the message.

Once again my humble apologies.

I read your beautiful letter, and the letters from Freddy and Bumpy, and they made me break down.  Don’t give up hope or anything—it’s not that bad by any means.  And the 50 will put us back where we were before, so that nothing will really be changed.  Perhaps you can raise it in small chunks—I think the cost of a labor permit is the best excuse.  50 dollars is 15 pounds fifteen shillings, an enormous sum in England at the moment, the minimum wage being 6 pounds a week.  It represents a month’s wages to quite a few.

God bless you, baby.  I love you better than anything in the world.  I’ll write you again later, when I am more myself.

Your devoted husband,
Jigg

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 21, 1949: Jig left after breakfast, I putting him on right track for a taxi.
November 24, 1949: School–and lunched there. Tea. Nap. Jig arrived.
November 25, 1949: School as usual. Tea, Work. Nap. Supper of corned beef. Read stories etc to Jig. Bed.

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

Rutherford, New Jersey
Saturday November 26 [1949]

Dearest Angel—

Today I got your letter about your mother and Jack.  I put a PS on the letter I was about to mail to you—about it–but this is the real answer.  And yet I don’t know what to say—except that until we have some money of our own we can’t help them any more—after than perhaps we can—at least enough for Jack to have his operation.  I was sorry to learn that they are so terribly up against it.  But we can do no more now, so please don’t get into anything more.  I have enough for myself and the kids with Julia’s and Gladys’ help, but if I have to send you more (not counting the other twenty you’ll get next week) before the normal need for more arises, if it does before you can get things started for us, the kids and I will be up against it.  So stretch it, will you, honey?  I’m dying to know how the BBC thing works out.  It’s the limit that your letters take so long to get here, but I suppose that regular mail would be 10 days instead of five.

I told [Deo1] and Aunt G that you had to pay 50 bucks for a labor permit.  They helped out, but we can expect no more from them for quite a while.  Julia and Glads are doing their best.

Dorothy McNamara, Paula’s maternal aunt.  This passage makes it clear just how dependent Jigg and Paula were on financial support from Paula’s family.

* * * * *

From John Metcalfe’s diary:

November 26, 1949: Walked home, and all three had lunch of soup, – no, mistake, – Jig didn’t want any! Nap.
November 27, 1949: Work most of day. After supper read aloud to E and Jig from This Emergent and from 1926 diary. Bed.
November 28, 1949: Morning school. Jig just leaving when I came home for lunch.
December 25, 1949: Spent all day quietly at home. After tea read E’s MS to p 515. Steak and Christmas-pudding for supper. Work. Bed.

* * * * *

In spite of some had seemed positive interviews in England and in France, Jigg did not secure employment in Europe and returned to the United States some weeks later. Evelyn had been very hopeful of his success in finding employment in Europe as she saw this as bringing her son and his family within easy reach of London and Jigg, realising this, did not tell his mother that he had returned to the United States jobless.

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

32. Is life too short?

Cyril’s autobiography, Life Is Too Short, was published by Lippincott in 1943.  It detailed what he described as his six careers to date and was greeted with moderate critical approval. It included an account of his “elopement” to Brazil with Elsie Dunn, the adoption of their new names, the birth of their son Creighton (who was known by his infant nickname “Jigg” throughout his life), the years of poverty in Brazil and their return to the United States in 1919.

Evelyn did not see  this book until 1945, although she knew it had been published.  When she did finally see a copy she was angered to read what she considered to be distortions.  She could not believe that Cyril would have written some of the descriptions of her and their relationship which she considered to be libelous, and the only possible explanation she could imagine was that some one, unnamed, had altered the text between the proofing and printing stages.  That person had somehow got into the print works and  had altered the passages she objected to with libelous intent.  This suspicion, which developed in her mind into a certainty, was a central theme in her letters from then on.

[NB:  I have a copy of the original typescript and have been able to compare it to the published version.  The only small differences between the two are typographical or grammatical.]

This is important because it marks the beginning of Evelyn’s continuing and increasing conviction that she was being libeled, and this in turn fed her conviction that she was being kept from her son and grandchildren.  I am introducing it here because 1945 is the point from which Evelyn’s gradually deteriorating mental condition can be most easily dated.

In 1951 Evelyn prepared a lenthy (70 single-spaced pages) document in support of efforts by friends to raise funds for her return to the United States.   The heading on each page reads:

Précis of events indicative of libel, to be read as SOON AS POSSIBLE BY CREIGHTON AND PAVLA SCOTT AND JOHN METCALFE AND, if possible, by CYRIL KAY SCOTT WHOM EVELYN SCOTT IS CONVINCED HAS BEEN VICTIMIZED WITH HER AND THEIR SON AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW in consequence of a tampering and tinkering with LIFE IS TOO SHORT either when it was in manuscript or was being sent to press which either was unauthorized and completely illegal or was done without consultation with the author respecting facts involving both him and Evelyn Scott and their son when a child which are misrepresented and are sometimes fantastically untrue and as much to the disadvantage of the author as to Evelyn Scott and their son and his wife–the aim of this precis, which is a condensation of a longer precis to be completed in consistence with it, the restoration of the Integrity of American and British Artists and Art.

The entire document is prefaced by the following handwritten note:  “This MS contains an enormous amount of inaccuracy and I can only caution any reader to check almost any statement in it.  Paula Scott”

* * * * *

TO ANY Personal Friends WITH PRIDE AND INTEREST IN THE PRESERVATION OF THE INTEGRITY OF AMERICAN AND BRITISH ARTISTS AND ART

She is NOW, in 1951, convinced that the distortions of the truth respecting her Passport Document Common Law Marriage to Cyril Kay Scott, one of the earliest of the steps taken in Brazil the registration at the American Consulate in Recife, of the birth, on October 26th 1914, of their son, then called “Seely” Scott and afterward Creighton Scott—that this legal marriage was misrepresented to and by the Church, and that this also was the case respect­ing the divorce obtained from her as Mr Kay Scott’s Common Law wife, in 1928, in Chichuaua County Mexico, where divorce and marriage Laws are consistent.

Mr Cyril Kay Scott himself registered for himself and for Evelyn Dunn Scott as his wife on their arrival in Rio de Janeiro from New York, via London, on as he says the Hamburg-American liner Blucher, in the spring of 1914, before Passports were required by the States, Britain or Brazil. And that everything concerning the steps which documented the establishment of the Common Law Marriage which was absolutely concluded in Chichuaua County1 in 1928, were, between 1939 and the present, being libellously distorted and to some extent deliberately and by intention, she has not a doubt since she re-read Mr Cyril Kay Scott’s mangled autobiography, into which have been interjected misstatements in respect to everything appertaining both to her and her son that he himself, with his innate high qualities of character, the fineness of mind proven in his paintings and his novels filled with psychological insights which could NOT have written, and which are completely at odds with many comments on life philosophy and art that are recognizable as his by everyone who ever knew him well, and are scattered throughout the book. The book, Life Is Too Short is completely veracious in regard to facts which concern his scientific career and his careers in the arts and in business, including the war industry of which he was a competent administrator though he trained himself. But there is NO emotional or personal truth in the book; and it cannot be credited that any man of Mr Kay Scott’s wisdom and good sense, who, as well, has been the most understanding Father of his son and Evelyn Scott’s could concoct a cock-and-bull story about “secret agents” and “murders” as a pseudo-explanation.of the issuance of the Emergency Passport given him for himself and Evelyn Dunn Scott and Creighton Seely Scott as the Scott family, by Ambassador Morgan, when the real reason was Evelyn Dunn Scott was in seriously bad health, physically, and NOT mentally, as other libels in this book imply.

I think Mr Cyril Kay Scott incapable of mean falsehood of a petty order such as pervades those portions of Life Is Too Short which concern the life we shared during our Common Law Marriage of Fourteen Years; and as the decree which was granted him for the “desertion of bed and board”, in 1928, in Chichuaua, was consistently sanctioned by the American State Department the decree itself signed by the American Consul then at Juarez who was Mr John Dye, there was no point whatever in such a lie, unless inserted there by those whom the war had made the enemies both of the author and our son and of Evelyn Scott and JohnMetcalfe, Evelyn Scott’s second husband; who is NOT the “Father of her son”, as she has vaguely gathered some have had it.

But just before she returned FROM Canada to Tappan, New Jersey, to await her waiver and obtain the British Passport required before she could sail as an “RAF” wife into the War Zone and which she resigned immediately on landing in Britain, Mr Paul I Wellman1 had been at death’s door. And she learned this, and that Mr Kay Scott, too, was then ill, from her son and daughter-in-law in Tappan. And as she did not as was usual after her absences see Mr Kay Scott in person, and Mr Creighton Scott expressed himself in her hearing as “not interested” in reading Life Is Too Short—he and his wife were probably repelled by gossip of its vicious attack on her, Mr Creighton Scott’s Mother, but this, then, she did not know—and she herself had no opportunity to read what had been said of her until Mr Lewis Gannett, in 1947, loaned Mr Metcalfe his copy of this book and it was brought to her to England by him and she, in turn, was so revolted by the passages that libel both that she could scarcely read it,—the full and clear comprehension of the real extent of damage which may already have been done to her and her son and her daughter-in-law, his stepfather, and Mr Kay Scott himself—awaited the re-reading of Life Is Too Short in 1951 which she has just recently completed.

In 1943, she had no money to buy the book without a sacrifice of necessities she would gladly have made, had it not been that Creighton and Pavla’s aversion to it decided her that it might be best to read it at some other time; and now that she no longer doubts that libellers must have set to work on her and her son her daughter-in-law and her present husband during the war, she is too impoverished to bring libel charges against anyone, even should she wish to; and this, she is certain, is the truth regarding all concerned.

Think of having failed to warn Mr Kay Scott, when he acknowledged minor kindly practical aid, that, by listing his own and Evelyn Scott’s son and their son’s wife as among those who had “confirmed facts” in Life Is Too Short, he was allowing for the inference that she had neglected or shown little love for her only child, though there are many, and he above them all—who can attest that her concern for Mr Creighton Scott’s happiness and talents has been unremittingly proven her life long, and that as soon as he so much as contemplated marriage it extended to his present wife as well. Think of these things, and of an mss sent on probably unread after these passages were re-done by a “proxy”—possibly “authorized” but not “specified”—and think of the dismay Mr Kay Scott must have felt on reading them himself, and discerning a baseness towards him which, by seemingly reflecting on his son Creighton Scott and Creighton Scott’s wife, was like a criminal cancellation of his own generosities of a lifetime. Slanders inception is always among congenitally de­praved types, and, doubtless, in America, that system introduced with gangsterism, which allows criminals to batten on their moral betters, and is designated “police protection”, has fostered slan­der as convenient to extortion. And even as Evelyn Scott conjectures that slanderers must have battened obliquely, probably in contexts of the war and immigration, on a defamation of herself by which it hoped to embarrass the British and American consuls of 1943 and 1944, she is as con­vinced that Mr Kay Scott, also, loving very genuinely the children of his first marriage, was as much tricked into their inclusions in “Acknowledgements” as on the score of Mr Creighton Scott and his wife; as wilful insult was, to superficial minds, even more easily attributable to the Wellmans and especially because both Mr Paul I Wellman and Mr Manly Wellman1 have been newspaper men and are inured to some extent to the hardness expected in newspaper work.

Evelyn Scott does NOT believe they would be capable of vengefulness toward her, as she likes all of them, nor that they, any more than their Father, would allow any book by Mr Kay Scott to be cheapened by the atrociousness of those passages in Life Is Too Short which are most at variance with everything else Mr Kay Scott has written. So in her estimate, all concerned are victims!

1Chihuahua, Mexico. This is typical of Evelyn’s repeated misspellings of names.

Next week — back to normal!

 

 

 

30. Home again

No sooner had Evelyn returned to England than Jack (who was still a serving RAF officer), was posted to a series of RAF training schools, leaving her alone in the garden flat at 26 Belsize Crescent. This created a number of difficulties: Evelyn would have had no experience of being a householder in England, nor of managing a house full of tenants. And the house, instead of providing them with an income, as Jack had hoped, was fast becoming a massive financial drain.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

No 1 RAF Instructors’ Course, Officers’ School
RAF Station Cosford, Wolverhampton
November 9, 1944

Darlingest Dear,

Just a few lines further to my telephone call yesterday, – and I do hope you are feeling fairly well and comparatively free from interruptions from the Pirunas, Gefunkuses and Hoci Poci generally.

All very oke with me, except, as I told you, carting that heavy suitcase was the very devil.  However, I’ve now got it all right.

I have a quite comfortable room containing only six beds, – and only one of these beside my own is at present occupied by a quite decent fellow.  The room has central heating and is quite decently warm.  Forgot my dressing-gown, but it doesn’t matter as I wear great-coat in lieu when going to shave etc, – so don’t send it on.

Had our first day’s work today—all quite interesting.  I’ve just had tea, and there is just a spot of evening work from 6 – 7, after which we have supper.  Breakfast is at seven and lunch 12.30.  We have “practice lessons” etc to give to the rest, so I’m now busy preparing mine.

Judging by yesterday I’m eating an awful lot! – a big tea at 4.15 just now.  Maybe it’s the colder weather.  Anyhow I’m very fit, – except for a recurrence of blisters on feet produced by lugging that suit case.  Pricked ‘em last night, and now almost oke.

But I’ll be awfully glad to be back home again you bet with my own chookie.

No more now darling,
All blessings forever from your own
Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Station Cosford
November 12, 1944

Darlingest Dear,

I hope you got my letter mailed on Thursday fairly promptly-though I’m told the post is rather slow here, out and in.

I have quite a light week-end, – from Saturday lunch to Monday morning free, – though of course I am employing it in swatting up for my next “practice lesson”.  None the less, I have got a couple of books out of the library just for relaxation, – one of them an excellent Freeman Willis Crafts called Found Floating, which I have just finished.

And yesterday I walked (in the afternoon) into the neighbouring village of Allbrighton to get a new bulb for my electric torch, and torch is pretty well a necessity here, since there is no way of getting up at the right, early time except by looking at one’s watch with the torch, – and of course my new torch went on the blink after two days use!  It’s all right now.  I also bought a ruler and boot-polish, having forgotten to bring them.

I’m still eating an awful lot!  It’s partly the colder weather, I think.  Yesterday, for instance I ate, – breakfast; eleven o’clock snack; lunch; large “high tea” with bacon chops etc; and then supper. . .!  So, like the missionaries of the ballad I am “keeping up my pecker”.

The nice Squadron Leader who shares this room with me leaves on Thursday, and then it seems likely I’ll have the room all to myself.

No more just now darling.  Look forward to the 22nd, junket!

All dearest love from your own,
Dickie

PS  No letter from you yet, but expect I may get one tomorrow, Monday

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Air Force Station
Staverton Near Gloucester
July 1, 1945

Darlingest Dear,

Here is Sunday and thank goodness the weather today seems better.  It’s been pouring with rain recently but this morning there’s a bright sun.  I hope you got the letter I posted on Thursday. This, though posted today, won’t actually be collected till Monday so you won’t get it till Tuesday I fear.

All well with me.  The work is interesting and there’s a fair amount of free time in the evening.  Today, Sunday, we have a short period of work in the morning only.

Yesterday (Sat) afternoon I and another chap went into Cheltenham by bus between 4 and 6, – shopped and had tea.  I needed some ink, also toothpaste.

Thanks for your two letters (so far) darling.  Hope the kid1 is not being too much of a nuisance.  If we should stay at 26 Belsize he will have to go, – but supposing I am amongst those selected for this job it will almost certainly mean posting away in a few weeks time.  The temporary dislocation, getting accommodation, etc would of course be a nuisance but the job would be worth it and we might be quite comfortable for a year in new surroundings.  We should then be able to put by money for purchase of small house at end of it, and then put up No 26 for sale.

I expect to have a week or so anyhow free, after conclusion of course and before being posted (if I get selected), in which to do packing etc (as well I hope as some writing!)—but there would be no harm in your doing a little preliminary sorting and tearing-up of papers etc whenever you liked, to avoid rush at end.  Though I don’t think there will be a rush, and anyhow I may not get the job.

All love and blessings, ever your own
Dickie

PS  Ask Hobsons to repair cracked lavatory pan and give them the broken pieces.
PPS Send me on Ogg’s2 receipt, and other letters, please.
PPPS  You should get your new ration books soon, – but not on July 4th or 5th because of polling.

It appears the child of one of Jack’s tenants was being a nuisance.
Hobson and Ogg were tradesmen who did various repairs at No 26

* * * * *

26 belsize cres
Jack in front of 26 Belsize Crescent

To John Metcalfe

26 Belsize Crescent
July 10, 1945

Beloved Dickey  The job in your room is varnished and ready for your occupancy as soon as it is straightened—the room I mean.

The sensible solution will be for you to continue to live in your own house and of course the only ultimately sensible solution for us is the opportunity to proceed with your books and I with my books as literary value is our real contribution to any decent future.  The hell with “mass handling” any way!  War conditions may have imposed it to some extent but nonetheless true recovery depends on giving each man or woman the opportunity to pursue the work to which he and she are suited by reason of natural abilities.

I wish you were getting a longer rest between the end of the course and the posting but in any case hope your job will be near home.

I asked about the riveting of the toilet bowl that was broken and was told by Hobson’s man that riveting would cost as much as a new one, but he is to ascertain the price shortly.

I have been trying to shop and tried to get a pair of shoes at John Barnes without success my feet being a size smaller than anything suitable they had.  But I shall continue and will get something eventually I am sure.

I will not seal this until tomorrow as I won’t be able to mail it today and I will follow your instructions and forward nothing after the twelfth.  I don’t quite understand what sort of job the job is1 and shall be interested in what you have to say about it bless you and good luck

Evelyn

Jack had completed an instructors’ course at RAF Staverton which prepared him for a position counselling airmen about to be demobbed on their career choices. He appears to have enjoyed this work very much and to have been good at it.

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

July 10 [1945]

Darling Dickie, Splendid that you have successfully completed your course and I am sure congratulations are well deserved.  I shall be seeing you soon and am very happy thinking of it.  That you indeed for phoning to let me know.

Fisher is writing to Ogg and says he has also phoned him and satisfactory arrangements will be made.  But I won’t attempt sending the letter as you will be here so soon.

Yes I hope we may be able to stay here too.

Bless you, Evelyn

Too much “pooh-pooh” and “awful brat” but otherwise all well.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton1
July 24,1945

Darlingest Dear,

As I told you yesterday on the ‘phone, I got here all right, though the taxi failed to show up and it was an exasperating job getting another one.  However, I arrived in time for dinner, so no harm was done.

So far, Hornchurch still stands, as the selected base, and I do hope it so remains, as it is so close in to London as to enable me to live at home, – though there will be occasional nights away when I am visiting some station at the other end of the country.

Probably, I shall have the driving test, final billeting, etc tomorrow, Wednesday, and may be able to get home on Thursday for one night, before reporting to Hornchurch on Friday. Then (I anticipate) I can get home again Sat afternoon, or Sunday anyhow, after spending either one or else two nights at Hornchurch.

Then, for the two following weeks probably, my job will simply consist in visiting each station in Essex so as to get to know the CO, etc at each one, preparatorily to starting in as the actual Advice Service which is not due to begin till August 7th or 10th.

There has been a hold-up in the supply of cars, which will not be delivered till the actual job starts, – so this preliminary “tour” of the area will have to be done by train and bus etc.  Rather a nuisance, since it means paying fares out of one’s own pocket in the first instance, and claiming for expenses later.  Also, no arrangement has yet been come to for the designation of an accounting unit to pay all our allowances, which may be held up some time in consequence.  One or two fellows here have had no allowances since April!  Of course it will be all right ultimately, but until it is fixed up current “income” is only about two thirds of normal.

Anyhow, I shall hope, during the next twelve months, to put by as much as possible for eventual purchase of cottage2.  On Monday, when I had cloaked my stuff at Paddington, I saw Smorthwaite, the Bank Manager of the Westminster Bank, Haverstock Hill, – and started a small account.

I hope you have not had too much Piruna, – and down and out with all Totes.  No totes. . .!!! – Wonder what the election results will be.  We shall know on Thursday evening, – or Friday morning anyhow.

Bless you always, – All dearest love from your own
Dickie

Although headed RAF Staverton, it appears Jack had arrived at his new posting in Hornchurch, Essex.
Jack had hoped to use some of the proceeds from the sale of Jove Cottage to buy another cottage in the country. This hope proved to be unrealistic.

* * * * *

In January 1946 a third child, a son, Matthew, was born to Jigg and Paula.  Jigg was working in Chicago at the time, and Paula had been staying with her father and stepmother in Nyack, New York, a small town on the Hudson River not far from Tappan.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

Tappan, New York
April 10, 1946

Dear Evelyn and Jack,

The first thing you will be interested to know is that our third baby—a boy named Matthew was born in Nyack on Jan 21st, 1946.  He is now aged roughly two and a half months and is doing fine.

I haven’t written before now for several reasons, mostly illness for one or the other of us—the winter has been a long series of colds and flue, for all of us and I’ve had my hands full.  Also we are in the un-enviable position of having the house we are in sold and although under law they can’t put us out for three months after they start trying, we’re looking for a place to live without buying, which is so nearly impossible as to be almost funny.  We’ve been hunting for six months, in spurts, and not one single house for rent.  They’re all for sale at high prices.  The situation is so desperate that people are being forced to buy whether they want to or not, which if we can possibly avoid it we are not going to do.  And it’s like this all over the country—the housing shortage here is worse than it is in England, in spite of the destruction of the bombings.  It would be unwise of you people to come to the States at this time, since you would have one hell of a time finding a hole in the wall even, in which to live.  Congress is about to pass a bill putting a ceiling on the prices of already built houses, and encouraging the building of new houses, which will help.  But the situation will probably not ease up for a year at least.  We, along with everybody else are caught in the jam, and yet we at least have a place to hang on to by the skin of our teeth if necessary, but heaven help the ones who don’t.

As for the rest there is not much.  As for a job for Jack, Jigg has absolutely no contacts with the academic world.  The best thing we can suggest is applying direct to schools and colleges—they are having a boom—college attendance is at an all time high now and it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to land something.  Best of luck.  Love, P

These letters fill me with loving distress on hearing of her Jig and the now four [sic] children—they have endured brutal injustice.  Jig’s Mother, London 1952, November

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

[Scotch Plains, New Jersey]
May 9, 1946

Dear Evelyn & Jack:

I am ashamed to have waited so long to answer your good letters.  The truth is I’ve been suffering from pip about the world and even my own work and haven’t been fit company either in person or by letter!  Please forgive me!

There is little personal news except that my job is completely over1 except for occasional work.  I’m glad in a way and ought to get back to writing.  I hope I will.  But there are so many things that must be done—Dudley called them the mechanics of living.  And when I’ve done the minimum, I seem to feel just too tired.  I’m hoping it is just the reaction and that I’ll soon get a little pep and will power again.

Then, too, I do want to get in touch with friends again.  I did get over to Tappan a week or so ago and had a grand visit.  I don’t know any place that has a friendlier and happier atmosphere.  They were all well.  Denise is always growing lovelier and Frederick was amazing.  The baby was very sweet though he was away asleep the greater part of the time.  He looks somewhat like Frederick at his age, but has a personality of his own, too.

I’ve been too self centred and haven’t asked a thing about you two.  Please write anyway.  I will again and soon.

Love
Glads

1 For years after Dudley’s death, Gladys worked as a freelance parfumier. She had a fully-equipped laboratory in the basement of her house in Scotch Plains.
There was a paper shortage in Britain during and for some time after the war. Gladys, among others, sent supplies to Evelyn when she could.

* * * * *

In May 1946 Jigg left his job at ABC. He had been offered a job at WBBM in Chicago, part of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and went on his own to Chicago, hoping to find accommodation which would allow him to bring his wife and children to Chicago to join him. This proved not to be possible: as Paula wrote, “Housing was available, but not to people like us. To get an apartment in the city one had to pay a year’s rent in advance and buy the landlord a new Chrysler or Cadillac. New-car prices were still very inflated because production had not yet caught up with demand.”

WBBM
From “WBBM Listening Guide”, June 1946

Meanwhile Cyril had married for the seventh time. His new wife, Louise Lotz (known as “Weecie”), owned a house in the pleasant little town of Pine Bluff, North Carolina, not far from Chapel Hill, and the couple moved there. It was decided that Paula should take the children to live near Cyril, and that Jigg should fly down to join them whenever he could at weekends. This separation continued for a year, until Jigg joined his family permanently in Pine Bluff in August 1947. The family stayed there until August 1949.

At this time, too, Cyril had reverted to using the name of his birth, and had personal stationery printed “Frederick Creighton Wellman”. Paula writes of this, “When I arrived in Pine Bluff, Dad [Cyril] immediately introduced me to people, without any warning whatever, as his daughter-in-law, Mrs Creighton Wellman. There was nothing I could do about it, and Daddy [Jigg] was suddenly Wellman, too. We had to spend our entire three years there as Wellman, which produced awkward moments for us. . . . Even getting mail meant that we were accepting mail for a cousin, something, when addressed to “Scott” and all our friends had hurriedly to be told to use Wellman. Dad, however, kept to Wellman for the rest of his days. . . Dad hoped that we would make the change permanent, but we reverted to Scott as soon as we left in August 1949, with a great deal of relief.”

Jigg left his Chicago job after a year and came to live in Pine Bluff full time where he and Paula tried to set up a creative business; Jigg drawing and painting and Paula designing and making greetings cards.  No doubt the idea for Paula’s enterprise came, at least in part, from the fact that when she was a child her parents had created a successful greetings card business from their home in Taos, New Mexico. Although Paula’s ideas had a good deal of approval and practical support from many of their friends, the business never took off.

At this time, Evelyn writes on a number of occasions that the family went to Lumberton, North Carolina, about 200 miles from Pine Bluff,, to live rent-free on a farm owned by a Negro in return for labour. There is no evidence for this unlikely scenario:  neither of the two eldest Scott children has any memory of this, though both would have been old enough to remember it. However, years after his death, large detailed maps of Lumberton were found in Jigg’s papers: he may have considered this course of action, and never actually gone.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
July 3, 1946

Darling Dear,

Just a note to say I love you and look forward to Saturday next!  It was nice to speak to you on the ‘phone.  Hope you got your dress OK.  All well here.  V hard at work.  I expect a week at home before being posted; and then, if it is not London, I must find accommodation for us as soon as I possibly can.  Of course I hope it may be near enough to London to go on using No 26, – but it’s just a chance.

If selected, I shall be in charge of an “area” or “parish”, and go from station to station in car which will be provided.  Each “area” has a Headquarters Station to which I shall be attached, – and if the area is not London it means that I shall have to find accommodation for us there.

Down and out with all totes!

Dearest love always from your OWN
Dickie

PS  Better not forward anything after July 12th at latest.
PPS  Don’t forget your new ration book!

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
July 3, 1946

Darlingest Dear

Just a scribble to follow up letter posted yesterday.  The mess and everywhere is clean out of cigarettes. Can’t get them anywhere, or of course I would send some.

Thanks for letter and enclosures.  If you have not already sent it, you may as well keep Ogg’s receipt, very preciously, – but if you have already forwarded it, never mind.  Shall write Fisher.

All well here.  It has been cold and rainy, but today quite hot and I hope it will keep so.  If I get this job there is just a chance that I may [bottom of page torn off] . . . mentioned my circumstances to the powers that be, and they hope they may be able to take them into account.  The job itself, as a job is a good one and better than I could get elsewhere, and, thank goodness, two novels only need revision and Scilly perhaps ¾ done.

The course, I find, was supposed to be a three weeks one, – but someone made a mistake, – so now, as a compromise, it will be about 2 ½ weeks, – and will end on Saturday July 14th, – i.e. Saturday week, – two days later than we thought.  Then, as I said, I hope for a week or so before posting, – and then (if it is not London area) must find accommodation for us.

All dearest love and blessings from
Your own
Dickie

* * * * *

As the war drew to a close and the  world was learning to cope with the aftermath, Evelyn’s letters became more and more critical of post-war politics.  Her letters included lengthy, sometimes incoherent, passages attributing political decisions to vague forces emanating largely from socialism or communism or a mixture of both.  Her vocabulary, also, began to include words without dictionary definitions whose meanings were crystal clear from the context.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott and three children

July 4, 1946

Dear Creighton Pavla Denise Freddy Mathew

Soon we hope to be writing of real peace with NO repetition of last spring’s fiasco.  I sent you a number of clippings last week, but this week seem to have accumulated nothing of interest.  However, Paris peace conferences must have a result shortly when there will be something to write about that isn’t drivel.

Down and out with tote systems
Cause and effect function just the same
Regardless of the political game!
You can’t make a world of dupes and fools,
You can’t save anything with racketeers tools!
Down and out with the totes NOW NOW NOW
SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK

Further political mummery is simply ruin anywhere and everywhere!

Every shopping tour I am bombarded by inanity which is attributable to political symbolics, as you might say, the soap situation being an example, as there is almost no soap to be had and those who are actually not allowed free public expression of opinion and whose views are therefore to be summed up as a mere x or zero make euphemistic capital of a literal lack–and it is all very stupid!  Inexcusably so!

But the nostalgia for civilization is growing and as uno1 seems to be a complete failure–and world economic control such as it has proposed can be nothing but a damnable extension of the disasters of present experiments–somebody and anybody must surely take a decisive stand SOON and we hope it will be sensibly moderate, neither the foolish “umbrella” policies of Chamberlain, nor the quite as foolish extreme opposition.

Did you get the letter asking about my father2 and if you had any recent news of him?  I have been thinking of the unnecessary difficulties extremists of both persuasions have made in the South, and that this has probably complicated the problems of the USA which, in turn, delay peace.

Pavla’s letter is something for which I remain grateful and the other letter we hope Jig will write us is also going to be much appreciated.  It is a damnably wicked and inevitably disastrous thing when circumstances resulting from politics interfere with human relations and individual careers, and the indifferent service of the post office is illustrative.  The American typewriter paper Jack and myself need has been sent us by three individuals and some of it has been over three months en route and isn’t yet delivered, and that is just one item in the general inefficiency and confusion that still prevails everywhere.

No nation, race, country, people can afford any further war and the solution must be NOW if we and the USA are to escape from chaos  No rings and no rackets!  Without controls these won’t exist.  No living under the political eye–that’s hell!!

Affectionately

This appears to be a reference to the newly-created United Nations Organisation. Evelyn clearly disapproves.
Evelyn had just discovered that her father died three years previously. The letters relating to her search for information about his death and his will will be presented in a future instalment of this blog.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
July 5, 1946

Darling Dear,

Thanks for letter and Ogg’s receipt.  I have written to Fisher to tell him to put in hand the Discharge of Mortgage as soon as possible before he has to rejoin the RAF.

All well here, and I hope you are.  Have you been able to get your new dress yet?  I wish I could have left you more for it darling, but I thought I had better clear all Ogg while I could, – and for that I had somewhat to overdraw at the bank, so I have not so much in the pot at the moment.  If it so happens that we are able still to use the present house, then Derek must go, of course.  But the probability (barring specially favourable treatment, which of course I am trying for) is that I should be appointed to some other area, in which case I should have to go ahead to the station, and find accommodation for us as quickly as I darned well could:  I imagine a week or so might elapse between July 14th Saturday, when the course here ends and I come home, and my posting to an area.  If I am appointed it will mean catering for the requirements of a county or so, with a staff of 5 or 6.  A car is provided and I must dig up my driving licence again.

Lectures very interesting and a healthy bias against robotism.  Psychometric tests used with plenty of salt.  Chief Instructor an excellent type and most humanely and culturally minded.

I do hope you are getting on with what, pro tem, we call the “novelette”.  As soon as we are settled, after the interval of dislocation, we can both get on with our books I hope.

All, all dearest love, and DOWN and OUT with the Totes!!!
Yours
Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

1952—This letter without address other than the “Col Broadcasting System” Chicago on her envelope relieved yet distressed me.  We heard nothing more for three years thereafter.  Evelyn D S Metcalfe—Evelyn Scott author

[Pine Bluff, North Carolina]
July 11, 1946

Dear Evelyn,

As to your enquiries about us—we couldn’t very well be worse placed, within reason.  Jigg’s NYC job with American Broadcasting Co (ABC) came to an end last March, and it took a long time to get another, which he finally did, in Chicago.  He is living in a hotel because apartments and houses are not to be had without paying an exorbitant price for the furniture on top of the also exorbitant rent, and in view of such a profitable racket there are no unfurnished places to live.  He’s managing on 30 dollars a week, sending me what’s left.  I am living with friends who kindly offered me and the children sanctuary until the housing shortage is over.  I can’t find a place in NY because although not quite so bad as Chicago, it is bad enough to be out of the question.

We are all well and looking forward to bring reunited—probably in Chicago wherever and whenever the situation lets up sufficiently for us to afford a house.

Good luck to you both, and to Jack’s book.

Paula

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

RAF Staverton
August 21, 1946

Darlingest Dear,

Just a scribble—My release date is Aug 28 Wednesday (a week today) and I’m afraid it means staying here until then, as my leave entitlement is now exhausted, – unless I come up just for “the day” on Sat or Sun.  But even so I have have to be back here Sun evg.

But I expect to be home late on Tuesday evening (the 27th), – then I go to Uxbridge for actual release on the following day, Wed.

So it means six days from today before I’m home.  I hope you won’t get too lonely darling, – anyhow it’s for the last time.  And I do hope you can manage to get some cigs and to do some writing.  As for me, I have a fair amount of form-filling and “clearing” to do.  Saw Accts Officer at Barnwood yesterday, who were v nice re my claims.

Also of course I am idle of an evening to get on, to some extent, with the book, – in pencil, – so I need only “manually type” it when I get back.

Bless you and bless you
All love darling
Dickie

* * * * *

Cyril’s autobiography, Life Is Too Short, was published in 1943, but for a number of reasons Evelyn did not see a copy until 1946.  When she did finally read it, she was incensed by what she saw as Cyril’s defamation of her character, and she wrote numerous letters in protest.  Some of her letters offered her own (highly unlikely) explanation of how the manuscript might have been altered.  Next week all will be revealed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29. An exercise in red tape

In 1943, while on secondment to the Canadian Royal Air Force, Jack was informed he would be ordered to return to Britain to take up his Royal Air Force commission and report for duty somewhere in Britain.  There was provision for serving officers to have members of their immediate families repatriated to the UK, at the expense of the officer concerned. Evelyn decided she wished to return to England to be with Jack and he therefore initiated the necessary paperwork while still in Canada.   As the following exchange indicates, the initial contact with the Canadian RAF was probably the source of considerable delay due to the application being caught between the twin stones of Canadian and British operating procedures but was probably not helped by Evelyn’s constant flow of letters querying delays.

(Personally, I would not have been happy to cross the Atlantic in a convoy during this period.)

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Air Force Staff Officers’ Mess
No 31 Royal Air Force Depot, Moncton, NB Canada

Sunday September 12, 1943

Darlingest Dear,

As post-script to my other note of today; – apparently you should get your passport back in from three to five weeks after application; – so if much delayed beyond that time you had better write to Air Force Headquarters.  Now, you have your “dossier” of copies of all those letters etc I had to write, – and although they bear varying dates, the actual registered letters in which they were finally mailed were sent off from Clinton [Ottawa] in August 13th. One batch of stuff went to Air Force Headquarters through Command Headquarters (i.e. the actual registered envelope was addressed to “Air Officer Commanding, No 1 Training Command, RCAF, 55 York Street, Toronto”; and Command Headquarters, after retaining one copy of everything for their files (except the actual passport of course) sent on the other set and passport to: – “Chief of Air Staff, Air Force Headquarters, Ottawa”.  The other batch was to the United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission.  These two main registered packets were posted from Clinton, as I say, on Aug 13th, the Clinton PO registration numbers being: – For the packet to No 1 Training Command: – 338; and for the packet to the United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission: – 337.  Each of the two packets contain information-carbons of the letters etc sent to the other addressee.

Now, what all this boils down to is that if you don’t get your passport back in, say two weeks’ time, I should write to Air Force Headquarters, addressing envelope to:- “Chief of Air Staff Air Force Headquarters, (Attention D/DPC/RAF), Ottawa” and say that your husband sent your passport No 372415 on August 13th and can you soon expect to receive it?  Also state that, as I have not present funds, I am saving up for your fare, by deductions from my pay, and that this has been approved by the United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission in their letter dated August 25th and signed by Mr F C Fayers, the Civil Officer for Finance and Accounts.

All this will probably be unnecessary, so don’t let it worry you, – but if you don’t get your passport in, say, two weeks from now, there’ll be no harm in chasing it up.

There is, actually, a possibility, I understand, that you may get a passage even before I have finished accumulating the fare; – i.e. they might let you sail “on credit”, so to speak, and they carry on deducting from my pay after your arrival in the UK.  This would be swell, – and the only worry then would be that you might not have saved enough for your actual train-fare to whatever American or Canadian port to have to sail from.  I wish to goodness I had more money  I fancy the actual rail-fare might be as much as $50 or $60 (you’d better enquire re this).  I should try to put by for this as soon as ever you can.

Also, of course, hang on to your USA passport. Also, it might perhaps be useful, later, to have a chat with the British Consul in N York.

No more now, beloved
All, all dearest love always
Your own Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Canadian Air Force
The Rev W Scott Morton Station Chaplain MPO 106
Fort Albert, Ont

October 15, 1943

Dear Mrs Metcalfe,

After receiving your letter I made some enquiries and find that there is no reason to suppose that your passport will not be returned to you in due course along with the exit permit etc.

If you do not have any further word in a short time from the relevant authorities, perhaps you will be good enough to drop me a line again, and I will take up the matter through the RAF Families Welfare Committee in Ottawa.  I am not doing so at present as I feel that it is slightly premature, but I shall be glad to write to them later on if it seems necessary.

With kindest regards to Sqdrn-Ldr Metcalfe and yourself
I am,
Yours sincerely, W Scott-Morton
Sqdn-Ldr, Station Chaplain

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
November 22, 1943

Dearest Love,

I hope you will soon get my recent several letters answering yours re the passport difficulty.  I should continue writing somewhat on these lines:

“My husband, well before leaving Canada, was careful to follow most strictly all the instructions of pamphlet HQC-33-1-26 in making application for my passage.  The date of my necessary departure from Canada to the USA (Aug 31st 1943) was also stated in my husband’s application, and as the application was despatched to you from Canada on August 13th there should have been ample time to drew my, or my husband’s, attention to any difficulties in procedure regarding the passport.  Being a special case, it may well fall outside the scope of routine procedure.  As it is, it is obviously impossible for me to acquire a fresh passport, from Consular authorities in New York, until you have returned my old one.  The money for my ocean fare has not yet been accumulated by my husband from his pay, so that perhaps my enquiries re my passport may seem premature; but meanwhile I am naturally anxious to have it returned and to be assured that everything is in order and my name on the waiting list for a passage, in readiness for the time when the money for my fare has been accumulated and fully deposited by my husband.”

Something like that.  But meanwhile of course I’m very worried re your immediate situation, – re Jig, allotment, Pavla’s health and all.  Am eagerly awaiting your next letters.

Much love, and sympathy in its troubles to the family, and dearest love my own dear to you, from

Your own
Dickie1

Evelyn’s pet name for Jack

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
November 27, 1943

Dearest Love,

Just got your letter dated Oct 20th, written when you were sending the cable re your allotment money.  I do hope you have this allotment money now, – and also that you duly received the cable I sent, answering yours.  My previous cable, sent on September 21st, I know you did not get, and I do hope you got the other.

I’m so glad you heard at last from Brownlow, and that Martin is to pursue the matter, – and that, apparently, your passport is being returned to you OK via the British Consul.  A few days ago I sent you a suggested rough draft for further letter asking for passport, – but by the time you get this draft you will—presumably, and it is to be hoped—have got the passport itself; and that, as soon as the passage-money has been accumulated and credited you should, at any time after that, get notice of your passage darling.

This may reach you by, or about, Christmas—and carries, anyhow, all my love and blessings for that and for the new year.

Much love, as always, to the family, and all dearest love my own to you from
Ever yours Dickie

* * * * *

One issue which undoubtedly made it more difficult for Evelyn’s passage to be approved was uncertainties regarding her citizenship, when in fact she had always maintained her American citizenship and held American passports.  The authorities appear to have assumed that, as the wife of a British officer, Evelyn would also be British.  This confusion led to  further misunderstanding and delays until it was eventually clarified.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Department of State
Washington DC

December 10, 1943

My dear Mrs Metcalfe:

The Department has received your letter of November 18, 1943, stating that you have a British passport and requesting to be advised whether you should obtain an exit permit to leave the United States.  Since you are an American citizen, you could not obtain an alien’s permit to leave this country and an American passport can not be issued to you at this time for your trip to England.  However, the Department will arrange to waive the customary permit to leave the United States, which in your case would be an American passport, if the appropriate British authorities should request that such arrangement be made and will assure the department that they have arranged reservations for your travel.  In that event, the Department should be advised of the exact date of your contemplated departure from this country, the port of departure and the means of transportation which you will use.

Sincerely yours.
R B Shipley
Chief, Passport Division

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
December 12, 1943

Darling Love,

No further letter from you recently (your last to be received was dated Oct 29th) and I’m hoping to hear again soon as your most recent news to reach me is now some six weeks old.

Anyhow, I’m so glad to know, by the last letters I did receive, that the issue of your allotment money had started, and also that you expected soon to have your passport returned.  Another couple of months should see the passage-money duly accumulated.

Well, darling, this is just an interim scribble.  Love as always to family, and all dearest love to you from
Yours, Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

British Consulate-General
25 Broadway, New York

December 16, 1943

Dear Madam

I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 15th December.

I regret that it has never appeared from the preceding correspondence that you possess Dual Nationality having been born in the United States.  This is of course apparent from your recent passport application, and I regret that the fact has been hitherto overlooked.

As a dual national, the form of application for an exit permit which you obtained from the United States Immigration authorities is inappropriate, and I think that when you applied for the form the United States Immigration authorities must likewise have been unaware that you possessed United States citizenship.  In order to comply with the requirements set out in Mr Shipley’s letter to you of 10th December, which is returned herewith it will be necessary for the British Embassy to apply to the State Department for a waiver of American exit permit facilities.  Will you therefore kindly complete in duplicate and return to me the enclosed forms, and I will ask the Embassy to approach the State Department in the usual way.  You cannot of course give the exact date of your contemplated departure from this country, nor can you state with certainty from which port you will leave.  You should consult the British Ministry of War Transport, 25 Broadway, on these points, and give such information as they will advise.

It will be necessary for you to undertake to do war work on arrival in the United Kingdom if called upon to do so, and I shall be glad if you will express your willingness to do so in writing when returning the forms to me.

Yours very truly,
A J S Pullen

 * * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
December 18, 1943

Darling Love,

No fresh letter from you, and the last one I received, written in October, is now seven weeks old.  So I’m hoping to hear quite soon.

All well with me, and nothing fresh to report.  I hope your allotments are now coming regularly and that you have your passport back OK.  And by now, anyhow, you know about Jig.—I shall eagerly wait for news about that and do hope your anxieties on that score will be over,–for the time being anyhow.

All love and good wishes for New Year to the family,–and all dearest love to you, from
Your own Dickie

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

[December 30, 1943]

NITE LETTER

SQ/LDR W J METCALFE
GARDEN FLAT 26 BELSIZE CRESCENT HAMPSTEAD LONDON NW3

RE YOUR WIFE EVELYN STATE DEPARTMENT WASHINGTON WILL WAIVE EXIT PERMIT ON RECEIPT OF WRITTEN ASSURANCE THAT PASSAGE APPROVED ETARRANGED BRITISH VICECONSUL HERE IGNORES RAF ARRANGEMENT SUGGEST YOU WRITE HIM MR PULLAN 25 BROADWAY NYC ALSO SECURE WRITTEN ASSURANCE EVELYNS CORRESPONDENCE WITH OTTAWA UNFRUITFUL

CREIGHTON SCOTT (BLUE NEWS RM 276)

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
December 31, 1943

Darling Love,

I have just got Jig’s cable, – which was ‘phoned over to me when I got home, – I having been out when the man called.

I am very worried and concerned, – because I cannot understand the cable.  It is, in a way, good news that the State Dept will waive exit permit—but how are you going to pay your ocean-fare?  I cannot of course send money out of the country in the ordinary way, – and the only way I can do it is by paying it in at this end to Air Ministry as I am doing.  The Air Ministry here then advises Ottawa (UKALM) when my payments are complete.  That is, no actual money is sent across the ocean, but the adjustment is made on paper as between London and Ottawa.  Ottawa then pays the Shipping Co, – and allocates a berth etc.

Secondly, unless you adhere to the repatriation scheme there would probably be trouble in getting your married allowances when you do arrive here.  Though this could be risked perhaps.  The point of view would be, perhaps, that though here in body you were not here at all officially.  Which, considering all the sweat and worry you’ve had in trying to get the officials to follow their own directions would be exasperating indeed.

Thirdly, – I can’t understand about the “assurances” Jig mentions.  Supposing you did scrap the repatriation scheme and raised the passage-money some other way, how could I, over here, give any credible assurances that your passage had been “approved”?  I am only longing for the time when it will have been “approved and arranged”—but you would hear that good news before I did.  And similarly with the assurance about correspondence with Ottawa having been “unfruitful”.  The only way I could assure Washington of that would be by quoting from your own letters to me, – i.e. second-hand, instead of first-hand, evidence.

I shall do my damnedest of course in any way in which I can possibly help but (a) I don’t see how you are going to raise the passage money, – and (b) the assurances, as I see it, could only come from your end.

As I told you, your passage-money will be ready at my end by early March.  The Air Ministry will then have it all and will so advise UKALM at Ottawa.

All OK here except that I’m lonely and wishing you were with me.  This geographical separation business, (though I’m sure it won’t be too protracted)—was what I always bothered about, you remember, in 1936 etc, – though people thought I was “just exaggerating”.

But cheer up beloved, – I’m sure it won’t be more than a few months now.  Blessings for New Year and for your birthday.  Love as always to family, and dearest love to you from your Dickie.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
January 9, 1943 [sic]

Darling Love,

I hope my recent letters won’t take too long to reach you, for, till they do, the cable I sent in answer to yours can’t be much help!  A few days ago I sent you a copy of my letter to Mr Pullen which sets out the position (in my present state of knowledge) fairly clearly I think.  To be sure you get it, I shall be sending you another copy later.

But until Ottawa has been informed that all your passage-money has been paid in on this side by me, we cannot expect any action from them.  When it has been paid in they will have to act, – if only to get their books straight so to speak, and if there is any delay we shall then be in a position to importune.  This (the completed paying-in on this side) will be by early March.

I’m so sorry.  You are unable to get on with your own work at present darling.  Never mind, – once you get over here I’m sure you’ll be able to , – so roll on the time!  Must also postpone your birthday present till then.  I shall be thinking of you on the seventeenth.

Love, as always, to the family, – and all truest love and blessings to you.

Your own Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Department of National Defence
Air Service
Ottawa, Canada

January 14, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

With reference to your letter of December 30th.  It is regretted there is no action this Headquarters can take on your behalf in view of your residence in the United States.  However, it is advised that the Secretary of the RAF Families Welfare Committee, Ottawa, who has received a similar letter from you mentioned above, is replying, instructing you as to the necessary action you will have to take in connection with passage arrangements.

Very truly yours,
J B Thorpe for J A Sully
Air Vice-Marshall for Chief of the Air Staff

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission
Lisgar Building Ottawa

January 14, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe,

With reference to your letter of the 4th inst addressed to Mr Fayers and which has been passed to me for reply, the position as far as your passage to the United Kingdom is briefly as follows.

Inasmuch as you are residing in the USA, no steps can be taken by any of the authorities in Canada to arrange for your passage and in the circumstances, therefore, all negotiations will have to made by you with the RAF Delegation, Washington.  This Mission has, however, agreed to receive payment of the cost of passage from your husband in due course and when this has been received the RAF Delegation will be advised accordingly.

I would suggest, therefore, that you communicate with the RAF Delegation, Washington, in connection with obtaining the desired UK Exit Permit that you require and complete all other necessary details for your sea transportation to enable you to join your husband in due course.

Yours very truly,
N Walden Secretary
RAF Families’ Welfare Committee

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
January 23, 1944

Darling Love,

I received your registered letter re Mr Pullen etc OK, and, also, yesterday, two more from you, – but they were undated, and the postmarks undecipherable as they almost always are.  Anyhow, I was so gad to hear you were feeling cheerier generally and had got more of my letters all right.  I hope you will get the letters I wrote to you after I had cabled you on or about Jan 1st.  I have, to date, sent you two copies of the letter I wrote to Mr Pullen.  But do remember darling to date your letters or I can’t sort things out.  Not so long now for early March when my payments will be completed.  Hurrah!  If there is undue delay after that I can begin to agitate at my end.

Much love to family, – and all dearest love and lookings-forward to you.

Your own Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Canadian Air Force
Ottawa, Ontario

February 4, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

With reference to your letter of January 20, which has been referred to the Secretary, RAF Families Welfare Committee for action.

Mr Walden, of the United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission, has now advised that he replied to you direct in regard to your passage arrangements to the United Kingdom.

As previously advised you, there is no action this Headquarters can take in your behalf, in view of the fact you are resident in the United States.

Yours very truly,
J B Thorpe for J A Sully
Air Vice-Marshall for Chief of the Air Staff

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission
Lisgar Building Ottawa

February 4, 1944

Dear Madam,

With reference to your letter of the 18th of January last, I have been in communication with Mr Pullen at the British-Consulate General at New York and he informs me that, as he has now received from you the completed Application Forms for Passage to the United Kingdom, he is now taking steps to obtain the necessary waiver for you to leave America from the US State Department.

Therefore, as soon as advice is received from the Air Ministry that the necessary deductions have been made from your husband’s pay towards the cost of your sea transportation (a signal in this connection has been sent to the Air Ministry to ascertain the present position) steps will be taken by the authorities in the United States to complete necessary arrangements for your passage.

Yours very truly
N Walden,
Secretary RAF Families’ Welfare Committee

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
February 14, 1944

Darling Love,

No fresh news from my end, – save that I’m well and OK—and I hope you are at least fair-to-middling at your end.  The payments for your passage will be completed early March, – only a few weeks now.  I sent you copy of a letter I wrote to Dawson.

I shall be glad when you’re over here darling, as I know you will be.  Let me know if you hear from Pullen, to whom I wrote on Dec 31st, and sent you carbon.

Hope you manage to keep well and don’t catch colds.  Save for the one nasty cold in November that I told you about, I’ve kept very well, with plenty to eat.

Much love to family as always, and all dearest love to you, from
Your own Dickie

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

British Consulate-General
25 Broadway
New York

February 25, 1944

Dear Sir,

I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 31st December. The position concerning your wife’s passage is as follows:

I have now obtained from her application forms for priority on Eastbound Atlantic Passage, which are required of all passengers proceeding to the United Kingdom.

Your wife, as a dual national, has to obtain, in lieu of the United States exit permit given to aliens departing from the United States, a “waiver” of American passport formalities which amounts in effect to an exit permit.  She has made application for this, and her application has been supported in the usual way by a letter from the British Embassy to the State Department.

I am waiting to hear either from the RAF Delegation or from your wife herself that the arrangements for payment of her passage which you describe have been completed.

I am today advising your wife that when she hears that arrangements for the payment of her passage are complete, she should so inform the British Ministry of War Transport in New York, who will in due course inform her when a passage has been obtained for her.

Apart from that financial arrangements for the payment of her passage, the obtaining of her passage and her waiver is a routine procedure which is normally followed by many hundreds of applicants similar to herself and I foresee no reason for her to have any worries about the matter.

A J S Pullen
HBM Vice-Consul For HBM Consul-General

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
March 3, 1944

Darling Love,

All OK with me, and, as I told you in my last two letters, the payments were completed earlier than I imagined towards the end of last month, – so new it shouldn’t be too long before you are advised by Ottawa.  It may, however, be a month or more yet, so meanwhile we must just be patient.

Supposing my present household arrangements to be the same on your arrival you may have to put up with cramped quarters for a short time, as I must give a month’s notice to tenants to vacate their rooms, – and of course I shall probably not know you are here till you actually are here.  But I hope you won’t mind as it will only be for a comparatively short time.

Much love as always to the family, – and all my dearest love to you, from
Yr own Dickie

PS—shall think of you on our anniversary, – the seventeenth March!

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

British Ministry of War Transport
Passenger Division
25 Broadway New York 4, NY

March 4, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

Many thanks for your communication of March 2nd, from which we are pleased to note that everything is in order as far as the waiver of the United States exit permit requirements are concerned and that you have made preliminary arrangements with respect to the censorship of your papers.

As soon as we hear from you that payment of the passage money has been completed we shall be glad to make arrangements for passage in line with your priority, as well as the date of registration which is entered as of August 13th, 1943.

Yours very truly
G W Rehman
For the Representative in the USA

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

British Consulate-General
25 Broadway, New York

March 4, 1944

Dear Madam

I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 2nd March, in which you inform me that your “waiver” of American exit permit formalities has been granted. I note the arrangement you have made with the Customs about your parcels and papers.

You will, I presume, as I suggested to you, inform the British Ministry of War Transport, Passenger Division, 25 Broadway, when the arrangements for payment of your passage have been completed.

Yours very truly
P B Pullen
HBM Vice-Consul For HBM Consul-General

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

Royal Canadian Air Force
Ottawa, Ontario

March 8, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

With reference to your letter of February 24th.  As previously advised you, it is regretted that in view of your residence in the United States, there is no action this Headquarters can take in your behalf.  Had you been resident in Canada, any assistance you required in this connection with documentation, would be responsibility of this Headquarters, also finalizing of your passage arrangements.

Yours very truly,
J B Thorpe for J A Sully
Air Vice-Marshall for Chief of the Air Staff

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
March 10, 1944

Darling Love,

No fresh news here, – save to repeat that the payments are completed, so that you should be hearing before too long from Ottawa.  Loud cheers!  Also, I have a cold, – though the worst is over and I’m now on the mend.  Hope you got over yours all right.

Whenever you come, if possible a few packets of “Valet” auto-strop razor-blades would be much much appreciated.  Also some packets of pipe-cleaners.

I don’t suppose I shall have any advance intimation of when you are coming, so, as I told you, you will have rather cramped quarters at first lovely till tenants have left after their one month’s notice.

Have been and still am, very busy, but am usually home in the evenings by about 6.15 or 6.30.  I get up, usually, soon after 6.

No more just now, lovely, but will write again very soon.  Much love as always to the family and all dearest love to you, from

Ever your own Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

British Ministry of War Transport
PASSENGER DIVISION
Representative in the USA
25 Broadway, New York

March 21, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

We have not had any further word from you since your letter of March 4th and wonder if you have heard as yet whether payment of your passage money has been completed.

As advised you, we would appreciate this information as soon as you receive it since you mentioned to us you would not be prepared until then and we are not of course taking any action.

We therefore await to hear further from you so we may know how best to proceed in your case.

Yours very truly
G W Rehman
For the Representative in the USA

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

March 25, 1944

EVELYN METCALFE CARE SCOTT PO BOX 521 TAPPAN NY USA

PAYMENTS WERE COMPLETED MIDDLE OF LAST MONTH FEBRUARY DOING ALL POSSIBLE TO HASTEN ARRANGEMENTS LOVE JACK METCALFE.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

United Kingdom Air Liaison Mission
Lisgar Building Ottawa

March 29, 1944

Dear Madam,

With reference to your letter of the 9th inst, and as you are no doubt already aware, the necessary deposit towards the cost of your sea transportation to the United Kingdom has now been made by your husband and the RAF Delegation, Washington, have been notified accordingly.

Yours very truly
N Walden
Secretary RAF Families’ Welfare Committee

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

Kansas City, Missouri
[March 31, 1944]

Dear Jig and Paula—

I am having a wonderful visit [to my son], entertained with daily luncheons, dinners, parties, theatre, etc, but I am so worried about you blessed children that I can hardly sleep nights.  Having your permission to do so, I’ve talked the situation over with Paul a couple of times.  His advice is “Throw her out on her ass, no matter what happens.  Jig and Paula, and no one else on earth, can do anything for her, and she will kill both of them if something drastic is not done.”

What I’m afraid of is that you’ll both get your health permanently, or at least seriously, injured, and then what will become of you, and those marvellous babies?  I don’t know exactly how to advise.  Would it be possible to get her to NY and then say, “You sign the proper papers, and keep your mouth shut while you’re doing it, or you’re not going to back to Tappan, even for one night.”

You see the situation is not a human one at all.  It’s a medical situation entirely.  Any trick, lie, deceit or scheme is not only justifiable but perfectly honourable in dealing with sick minds, as any physician will assure you.  So don’t even try to regard it according to moral obligation that would apply in sanity.  Get rid of her by hook or crook, with no compensations.  The complete and unanswerable reply to anything she may ever say afterwards is “You’re crazy”.

God bless you all four,
Love, Dad

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

26 Belsize Crescent
April 22, 1944

Darling Love,

I was so glad to get your letter dated March 28th, and to know your laryngitis was better.

Well, beloved, I do hope that you won’t have too long to wait now, and don’t think you will.  As I told you in my last letter, Dawson got my letters all right and replied to me saying that he had acted at once.  So whenever I get the official information (which won’t, I expect, give me more than a very short advance working) I shall give notice to the tenants I spoke of so as to free more room, though even so, as I must give them a month’s notice, there will pretty certainly be a period of overlap during which we shall be very cramped for space, – also re sharing kitchen etc.  The only alternative would be, of course, getting a room temporarily in a hotel or boarding-house, but unfortunately I shall be too stoney-broke for that, – and anyhow it’s very difficult to find anywhere now.

Much love to family as always, – and, again, all good luck and congrats to Jig!  All dearest love to you from ever your own

Dickie

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

British Ministry of War Transport
Passenger Division
25 Broadway, New York 4, NY

April 24, 1944

Dear Mrs Metcalfe:

We wish to acknowledge with thanks your letter of April 21st, together with a copy of the communication addressed to Mr Pullen of the same day.

It is noted that the necessary payments have been completed and you are now prepared to leave as soon as we are able to make you an offer.

We have made necessary note accordingly and will see you are advised immediately the opportunity is available which we hope will be soon.

Yours very truly
G W Rehman
For the Representative in the USA

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

Pine Bluff1, North Carolina
Sunday [May 21, 1944]

My beloved Son—

Your letter of the eighteenth only reached me last night and was a shock2.

However, I trust your judgment completely in the matter, and am sure you have done what was the wisest thing in view of the circumstances, which I know I at this distance cannot judge. I’m sure you’ll get something else promptly, for the demand for men with skills is terrific and, once dug into a new place and making yourself invaluable during the duration, you will be safe again.

At least you are not starting out job hunting as an unskilled or inexperienced man.  You have a profession and can take with you real proof that you know it and have a real cash value to begin with, and are not someone who will have to be taught your job.  I’m certain that there will be places ready to snap up your services, and I believe you will find something that will not include such murderous working hours, too.

I’m going to try not to worry too much over your situation, but I wish you’d keep me informed of all developments.  I do wish I knew what to do to help out, but I know no one who would be of use right now.  I shall think of you and Paula all the time, and pray with all my might.

Tell Paula and the babies that I love you all four and carry you all four in my heart.  One thing I hope comes out of this, and that is that ES realizes that you can’t keep her any longer, with you jobless.  I’d underline that if I were you.

I’m risking sending this to Tappan, and hope no one snoops into it, before it reaches you.

My devoted love and a kiss and hug for each of you, my blessed children.
God bless you,
Love, Dad

1 This is the first indication that Cyril was thinking of moving to North Carolina. His sixth wife Louise owned a property in the town of Pine Bluff.
Jigg had lost his job with the Blue Network.

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

Pine Bluff, North Carolina
Monday [May 1945]

Darling Paula—

Thanks for your lovely letter of Saturday.  I didn’t recognize the handwriting on the envelope until I turned it over!  “All good things are God’s things” is more than an epigram.  It’s an unfolding [illeg]-truth, and marvellous.

Boy, but I hope that ES will get away soon, not only for the sake of my poor children and grandchildren, but for my own sake, for I’m hungry to see you all.  It seems years since I was out to Tappan.  And I’ve never yet seen your new home and the babies are growing up month by month—with me missing it all.  I could almost bawl myself over it.  I didn’t mean that July or August will be the only times I would come up from Pine Bluff.  I meant that I’d probably camp on you each summer while it’s hottest down here!  I miss you all as much as you can possibly miss me.

Yes, Jig is a marvellous man and Christian.  I can admire his beautiful spirit.  But I wasted 14 years of Christian kindness on ES and, I’m sorry to say, have no more for her.  I suppose I should have, but it’s now all for those who are not Pharisees and Sadducees.  I can’t cast any more pearls before her.  For long years I strove to be Christ-like and forgiving on this matter, but now, I grieve to say, I’m done.  The children of God should not suffer too unbearably at the hands of the children of Beelzebub. Yes, he and I are lucky to have you for wife and daughter.

God bless you all four,
Love, Dad

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[June 1944]

MRS METCALFE CARE MR CREIGHTON SCOTT PO BOX 521 TAPPAN NY

CAN YOU REPORT NEW YORK, JUNE 14TH STOP.  REPLY IMMEDIATELY.  IF ACCEPTED, DETAILS WILL FOLLOW.  M H KING

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

[Pine Bluff, North Carolina]
June 2, 1944

Dearest Pavli—

I’m so immensely relieved and thankful that, after a short eternity, Jig’s and yours and my grandbabies’ home is to be freed of evil.

I do hope that neither of you will tolerate any last-minute alibis or shilly-shallying.  This is the one opportunity to get rid of something that would, if she succeeds in staying on, murder your souls and, in time, the souls of your children.  I hope you will say to her, if she balks in the  least, “We have put up with you so far, because you had no place to go.  Now you have a place to go, and our responsibility is over.  Sail or not, just as you please, but you leave our house for good on sailing day, and that is final.”  No half-way measures are either just, right or kind in this sort of a crisis.  Feel as sorry for her as you wish, but feel sorrier for each other, and for your children.  Nothing could be more fatal for the future than to allow her to put over a last-minute E Scottism on you and yours.  Be as firm as granite.

God bless you both, and the babies.  Try to have a little peace as soon as the evil genie departs.

I’ll write again soon.  I love you all four and God bless you all four.  Kiss Jig and the lovely grandbabies for me.

God bless you,
Love, Dad

* * * * *

To M H King, Royal Air Force Delegation

June 7th 1944

Dear Miss King,

I am enclosing with this the receipt you have sent which acknowledges that I have the Embarkation Order, and the other receipt detached from the advice on the disposition of baggage which accompanied the Order.

My ultimate address in the United Kingdom is the home of my husband and myself, where I can always be reached care Squadron Leader William John Metcalfe, 74992, RAF, Garden Flat, 26 Belsize Crescent, Hampstead, London NW3, ENGLAND.

I appreciate the attention you have given to securing my passage and I am sure you have done as well as could be expected under the circumstances.  I don’t object strongly to “dormitory” sleeping, and in respect to my baggage the only problems presented are my typewriter, essential to my future livelihood as a novelist (my profession during some twenty-five years, although circumstantially suspended since I have been in the States awaiting my passage), and the secure disposition of the manuscripts of novels and poems by myself and my husband (on which both of us will work in England) which were deposited with the censor in New York on March 6th, to be returned to me at the pier when I depart, with twenty-two contracts for books by myself previously published in the UK and the States, some shorter mss and other matters more personal.  But I assume some safe place for these will be found aboard ship although I am to be allowed only the one piece in the “dormitory”, as all these mss and documents are an essential of future livelihood and my husband, on his repatriation from Canada, took home mss and books by himself without difficulty or question,.

Again my thanks to you, and I will report at the hour and place designated with due punctuality.

Yours sincerely,

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[June 14, 1944]

My Beloved Children—

I received both your letters in today’s mail and, if you will let me, am answering them together and, laws Deo, can send them to your home address.  For this is June 14th, flag day, because today I have been thinking of you all day.  At last you are freed of the most spiritually-destructive and evil-loving being I have ever known personally.  Until Jig’s birth she was not that way, so he, thank God, imbibed no poison through her veins.  He is not her child, any more than the marred ground is parent of the seed planted in it.  He is my son, alone, and of my seed, bone of my bone, a real Christian gentleman like my father and grandfather and great grandfather and our lone line of Christian gentlemen that I have traced back to Pauling Creighton Wellman who died in Palestine in 1251 fighting to free the sepulchre of Our Lord Jesus Christ from those who hated and profaned it.  So you see, Paula, that I agree with you when you write in the highest terms possible in words, of your husband of whom I am as proud as you.  He owes nothing, and derives nothing in body, mind or soul, from Elsie Dunn or any of her ilk, for she, when caught in the grasp of God’s will and delivered of my child, rebelled at it, at me, at God Himself.  For she could not conceive of anything or any event greater than herself.  All her mind (which was once good, even brilliant), her heart, her spirit, her whole life, was henceforth bent to master or destroy what had shown her she was not omnipotent, me, my son, even God who made us.  I had 14 years of it, part of it as bad as what you two blessed children have just been through.  So my heart aches for you.  But now you know that I, whom you both know to be kind, loving, gentle and even tender in thought an emotion, never overstated what she has become through not loving good.  Until he was born she wanted my son, because thought he, and through him I, would be hers to violate.  When he and I escaped her completely (for he took from her not one iota of her nature in any respect) her love turned to hate, and I need say no more; for you have seen it daily for nearly a year—extending from  me to everybody and everything beyond her power to rule.  she has forfeited every tie.  You, and your children, are not in any jot or tittle related to her.  I am your father and your mother both.  What God once joined together God can put asunder.  Actum est, finis est.  Amen.

God bless you all four,
Dad

* * * * *

The following excerpt is from Evelyn’s lengthy document entitled “Précis of events indicative of libel”.  It was written in the third person in 1951 in support of what she then saw as  libelous persecution and adds further detail to the wait in Tappan and her return to England.

MVS rangitiki
RMS Rangitiki [http://www.rms-rangitiki.com]
Evelyn Scott when, in 1944, she was finally assured she would be allowed to sail for Britain, sat for three months and a half by packed baggage, her mss in the hands of the censors, her writing ended as far as Tappan was concerned; her fixity indoors or near her habitation essential, she supposed, in view of the warning she had had that she would be permitted just twenty-four hours to move in, and the combined total lack of any baggage transport whatever in Tappan, and of her son’s heart murmur which had re-alarmed her about him so that she was resolved not to allow him to carry any of her baggage for her  She had, in fact, about three days, and satisfactorily contrived to get her typewriter and various pieces of small luggage to town over the mile-and-a-half of steep hillside and flat road newly strewn with uncrushed stones, between her and the bus-stop.  And when she went aboard the vessel, which was a New Zealand troop-ship, afterward sunk and since either retrieved or the name re-used, she took into her quarters, on a porter’s advice, her typewriter and an suitcase of mss beside the single “dressing case” which was really a suitcase for clothing and which was the one piece of luggage which was “according to Hoyle”.
However—again in view of her Passport difficulties and of subsequent libel—she asks again today whether the Canadians, the British, or the Americans had it in for her in giving her dormitory space with airmen’s wives and small children, several decks down, where portholes were seldom opened and a large glaring electric bulb which lighted about a quarter of the space used by forty of all ages and was controlled by the steward so that she could not turn it out, burned fiercely a foot or two above her head most of every day and more than half of each night.

The Rangitike was not a very comfortable ship, the dormitory bunks were built high off the floor, and it was unwise to have put small children in beds from which they might have tumbled with serious results had there been any really heavy weather.  But after a tiff with the purser, who thought her “unreasonable” in wishing to store mss in his safe where “valuables” were kept, her typewriter was lashed to a rafter above her, and she made the best of her situation; though—AGAIN—she would like to know why it was that when the ship was full of officers wives who, as far as she could ascertain, did NOT “out-rank” her as Senior, she was not allowed as they were cabin-space on a passage for which she had already been waiting ten months since the first payment on it and four months since the payments were complete.

The Rangitike was in a large and very handsome convoy which was all divulged on the last day out of Liverpool, and which was probably bringing aid to France as the Allied landing was then recent; but even before Evelyn Scott went aboard her ship there had been an ado on the book about her waiver, which had been guaranteed her in a letter from Washington in late October 1943, and had been confirmed at the Customs’ House many weeks and possibly a month or two before she actually sailed.  It was said at the dock “not to be on record” and because she had to rely on the offices of a dock policeman to telephone the Custom House and verify what she had said, she had no opportunity—or thought she had none in the ensuing pother—to phone a promised goodbye to her son and daughter-in-law.  And when she was admitted to the slip at which the ship was moored, she discovered one of her parcels of mss returned by the Custom’s was handed to her un-sealed, as it should never have been.

In London, when met by John Metcalfe at the railway station, she was greeted by a fly-bomb, like a salute to their re-union, but most unpleasant.

* * * * *

 

28. A son writes to his mother

In common with many young families, Jigg and Paula were finding life in New York City with their new baby a financial struggle.  Jigg, with a modest amount of journalistic experience gained in the West behind him, had to seek whatever employment he could find and, with help from Paula’s aunt Dorothy McNamee, was able to find a position in radio journalism. 

* * * * *
To Evelyn Scott

[269 W 10th Street, NYC]
August 9, 19401

Dear Mother,

Got your note and very much pleased with it. Things are going from bad to worse with us, although we are keeping our chins up, rather.  We land in a crisis and scrabble and beg our way out, and then before we have recovered from that, the same old devils are back haunting us again:  rent and bread and butter etc.  It is pretty hard at times; but we have gotten this far, and DV we will go right on to the very end in spite of all hell.  Still, it is a weary business and a burden of some weight that we have to share, although amply compensated for a hope of peace and quiet and all the things which are indubitably and rightfully ours if we can only wade through the present swamps.  The future has been much brightened for us both by Pavli’s Cousin, one Dorothy McNamee, who has done all that she could do to get me a job somewhere, and who alone among those I have recently known is disposed to weep on our behalf.  She managed to euchre the general manager of a department store into saying he would give me a job; and although he welched on it, it was not for lack of energy on her part.  That was the news I was hoping to give you; and now nothing has come of it.  Yesterday I managed to get a man who runs a display company to agree to pay me 70¢ an hour for a 44 hr week.  But it isn’t much and he may have changed his mind before Monday when I start working, and I may be up against manner of technical problems (cinematography illusions and so forth) that I cannot do.  Still, it is worth trying.,

As you know, I am a natural born coward, without spine.  But I daily blind myself to what I know I must expect, and charge in.  And in the long run they do not throw me out the back door, and I extract from the name of someone to whom I may apply for the luxurious privilege of regaining my self-respect and supporting my wife and daughter.  And I lie abut myself and claim all sorts of talents I do not possess and magnify what I have, and go home exhausted and degraded beyond hope.  But somehow it is all gone by morning.  It is my nature to sour quickly; and each night I swear more terrible vengeance in the world; but I know damned well that if I ever do get the job, I’ll forgive everyone, like the ass I am.

Parental love is a wonderful thing.  How strongly I would recoil from the stained drawers of even the most angelic person.  Yet Bumpy2 lades us and drenches us with all manner of things and we are privileged to change her pants; and what is more, when she holds levee on the potty we stand around and gawk and admire.

Dated 1940 but contents indicate it must have been 1941
2
Childhood nickname for Denise

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott and John Metcalfe

[269 West 10th Street, NYC]
[November 16, 1941]

Dear Mother and Jack

This will amount to little more than a note although it should be more, to thank you both for your birthday wishes and the beautiful neckties; and to tell you that, beginning tomorrow, Monday November the 17th, I go to work for the National Broadcasting Company, Rockefeller Center, as assistant to one Maurice English, who is head of the Propaganda Section of the International (short wave) Division.  I will be paid $150 a month, on a salary basis, until such time as I seem indispensable enough to sign a contract, on a yearly basis, with the company.

Jigg newsroom_20180415_0001
National Broadcasting Company news room, with Jigg on far left.

I don’t recall that either of you have ever tried to get into Radio; so let me say that it was a heartbreaking business.  I had to lie about everything on earth, and commit myself on countless dubious points; that was the only way.  My duties consist of editing the daily news, as provided by the Associated Press, the International News Service, and about six others, including the Office of the Co-ordinator of Information (US) where my application is still being considered (I haven’t had time to withdraw it).

In addition to the above, I have to digest the Editorials of about fifty papers, and keep an itemised file of the War.  My hours vary from 7 to 9 in the morning, to 5 to 9 in the evening.  Theoretically I should appear at my desk at 9 and leave at 5; but circumstances often interfere.  There are seven broadcasts daily, in the compilation of which I have a hand; not to mention intermittent news bulletins during the day.  That is about all I know of it so far.

Yesterday (Sat) I was given a cursory introduction to my job; and am wearily resting at the moment.  I will write you more fully when I have the poop—in about a week, I think.  Which does not mean that I have not appreciated your presents.  Bless you both.

I will write Jack as soon as ever.  Wish me luck,

Jigg

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[269 West 10th Street, NYC]
November 21, 1941

Dear Mother,

I appreciate that my correspondence is in a mess, but there is no help for it.  I have a dim impression of having written you about my new job, but, things being as they are it is very likely that I just intended to.  Here is the situation.  Last Monday—today is Friday—I went to work for the National Broadcasting Company as assistant foreign editor in the International division.  We are understaffed.  I get to my desk at eight ack emma, and leave it sometimes at six, sometimes at six thirty, sometimes at seven or even seven thirty, but never before six.  I have from ten to thirty minutes for lunch.

If you will just stop and picture for yourself the bulk of the New York Times on week days, it will help you visualise what I have to do.  The number of pages in an average Times varies from 25 to forty.  Well, an equivalent mass of material goes through my hands daily, and has to be edited and distributed to 12 departments.  In addition I have to read anywhere from fifty to seventy out-of-town papers and digest their editorials.  Not only that, but all the material from the office of the US coordinator of information goes through my hands as well.  This is merely a part of the job.  Every day I have to collect material for one half-hour broadcast, and write another.  My boss does the rest, and it is really something considerable.  At the present he is sick; I am new; and we are breaking in a Swedish department, and trying to locate the men for a Finnish department.

I don’t get Saturday or Sunday off until this situation improves.  I have already agreed to work on Christmas day and New Years, and I have worked on Thanksgiving.

God bless.  The baby is fine, so are we all.
Jigg

* * * * *

In October 1942, Jigg, Paula and baby Denise moved to Tappan, a small town on the Hudson River, where they rented a modest house.   No correspondence discussing this move survives, and is likely that they felt that, with one baby and another on the way, it would be better for them to live in the country, where Jigg could continue to commute to New York. Their second child, Frederick, was born in November 1942  In March 1943 Jigg began employment in the American Broadcasting Company newsroom; the commute from Tappan, although long, was just tolerable.

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

National Broadcasting Company, Inc
A Radio Corporation of America Service
RCA Building, Radio City
New York, NY

Life Life[November 10, 1942]

Dear Mother:

It’s a boy. Everybody’s fine, although Pavli had a hard time of it.  I sent you a telegram the same day, only the telegram wasn’t sent, I’ve just discovered because I had already used up my expense account (Employees are allowed five dollars worth of telegrams per month) notifying people, chiefly Pavli’s family.  The kid was born November nine at six twenty am, weighed six pounds twelve ounces, and looks like a comedy Irishman.  The name is Frederick Wheeler Scott.

I am on the lookout for a new job, my present one having come to an end.  The government has taken over all short wave, and has banned all broadcasts to American troops abroad (on the grounds that such are not important) and so my section—which specialized in this—are out of work.  It would happen at a time like this.  I took a look at the office the war information’s headquarters here, but have decided against working there if possible.  While waiting I observed that Mr Edd Johnson, the man I wished to see, dictated his polemics to a secretary.  I just couldn’t work on that basis.  Also while I was there, Churchill made a speech, and when a someboy in the office proposed that it should be re-broadcast in its entirety, Mr Johnson said:  “Oh, no!  Because, whenever European listeners hear its Churchill, they turn off the radio.”  I just refuse to have anything to do with prejudices like that.  Naturally nobody knows what European listeners do, or when they turn off their radios.  The same man also referred to Gen Giraud as a “senile son of a bitch”—and unhappily I think Giraud is a fine man—with guts enough to fight, which is more than most of those draft dodgers at the OWI have.

So, I am looking around for a job.  Wish me luck.  For the time being everything is oke.  I’m terribly sorry you didn’t hear more promptly, but it’s the fault of red tape, and not me.

Bless you all.
Love
Jigg

* * * * *

To Evelyn Scott

[Tappan, New York]
December 9, 1942

Dear Mother,

After another unseemly delay, this is to let you know that we are all well.  The government has not abolished us so far; and in fact we are working harder than usual.  I hope it lasts.

We want to thank you both for the presents to the kids.  No formality this time:  they were useful as we could hope, and filled a very decided need.  Bumpy, who is after all the one chiefly concerned, was tickled to death.  She held the dresses up under her chin—the way grown-ups do—and said “purry” (pretty); and could hardly wait to get dolled up.  But she had to, because she had a cold and her nose would have run over everything, especially the green dress.  Anyhow, bless you—the stuff for Freddy is immensely useful, although he hasn’t reached the appreciative stage.

There’s just one thing about it, though: we know you are broke as hell; and it doesn’t seem right that you should be sending us expensive stuff like that when you are being pinched.  We love it; but we also have some idea of what you’re going through.

Freddy is a pretty good boy, in that he does nothing but sleep and eat and wet; and he gives great promise, although of what I don’t yet know.  Still, its very gratifying to have a son.  Fond as I am of Bumpy, I always wished she was a boy; and now I don’t have to wish it any more, if you follow me.  She is growing up to be the prettiest and best child you ever saw.  She must have gotten her looks from Pavli; but anyhow, they are certainly there.  Freddy, on the other hand, is no beauty.  When he was born he had a boiled look; and now he resembles nothing more than a comedy Irishman, with a fringe of pinkish hair, pouches underneath his eyes, and a generally apoplectic look—especially around meal times.

We have finally managed to get our house fixed up a little—it was awful bare for a while.  Pavli made us a blue corduroy couch cover, and we managed to make the chairs presentable, etc.  But best of all we got hold of a grate, and now have a coal fire in the living room.  Most of the day we keep the furnace down to negligible; let the grate heat the whole house, which it does pretty well.  I had forgotten what a pleasure an open fire can be.

I may not act like it in the matter of correspondence; but I certainly wish we could see you folks—it would do us no end of good; and we are looking forward to it like nobody’s business.

While Pavli was in the hospital, I had a fairly disagreeable heart attack—the worst so far; and was so goaded into going to a doctor.  He says I shall probably live to be ninety; but that I have to watch myself in the matter of stairs, hills, coffee (I can’t have any, which is pretty convenient, seeing as how you can’t get any) smoking and excitement.  It about scared me to death, as this is the first time I have had any really spectacular symptoms—the others were only mild.  However, it does mean that I am definitely out of the running as far as the military are concerned (it would be hypocrisy to say that I was sorry) and that I am more or less inactivated for life where strenuous occupations are concerned.  I can’t even take a swim any more.

Just as you are feeling the pinch, so are we.  When the government took us over we were all supposed to get a raise (I haven’t had one for over a year) and in fact the boss promised me one.  But he’s afraid of the Vice President in Charge of Saying No, or something; and so I haven’t gotten it.  As a result having the baby was a pretty tight squeeze.  Babies cost upward of $200; and we just didn’t have the cash.  We still have to pay off the MD.  However, the end is mercifully in sigh, even in spite of this damned Victory Tax, which begins on the first.  I don’t mind giving up 5% of my salary in a good cause.  But I do mind the blasted arguments used by the powers that be.  The arguments are as follows:  that the rich can’t pay for the war by themselves, and so there is no reason why they should pay proportionately more than the poor.  In other words, however just our cause, this still a Preferred Stockholders’ War, from where I see it.  We have a four letter man for a boss in here who is always prating about “Social Goals” and who is keeping some men (with wives and children) on less than a hundred and fifty dollars a month.  I’m better off than most, thank God.  Anyhow, if I have to pay 5% he should have to pay 55%.

I have to get back to work now; but bless you all, and the best of luck to both—and DON’T send us any Christmas presents—we aren’t sending any.

Love,
Jigg

* * * * *

In 1943, the Federal Communications Commission had ordered the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to divest itself of its associated network, the Blue Network, thus creating the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and in March 1943, after what appears to have been a difficult period, Jigg found employment with the new network. He became editor of the new ABC newsroom and had a daily news broadcast syndicated over the 44 stations of the network. He held this post until 1946.

At this time Jack, an officer in the Royal Air Force Reserve, had been called up for active service when the war started. In 1941-42 he and Evelyn were living together in Ontario where Jack was on assignment training the Royal Canadian Air Force, but as Jack was being posted to duties in England, Evelyn needed somewhere in the US to stay while she was awaiting authority to travel and join him. This was wartime, and though she was not a British subject, as the spouse of a serving British officer, she was entitled to a passage to England on a convoy. Even so, there was a considerable amount of red tape involved and Jigg, to help out, invited his mother stay with him and his family while this was being arranged and while Jack was making the necessary payments for her passage.

Jig Denise Paula Tappan
Jigg and Paula Scott with Denise (18 months) in Tappan


To Evelyn Scott

[Tappan, New York]
[August 1943]

Dear Mother,

You are more than welcome for as long as you want to stay.  With some embarrassment we have to ask you to pay for your own food—about $6.00 a week.  The rest of our economy is unaltered, and your visit will be a first class treat.

It’s only fair to warn you of the following:  my job comes to an end on August 22 and I start another on the following day, hence chaos for about 3 months thereafter.  We are moving to a somewhat cheaper and pleasanter house in September—more chaos, but you can help.  The present house, where we are somewhat camping out, is small, and so is the other one.  I’m not in the best of health and pretty crockety.1  It costs $1.00 round trip from Tappan to NYC and is a bore.

All this is merely forewarning—P and I will be tickled pink to see you, and only hope that the inconvenience won’t get you down.  We also think it’s a rotten shame that J can’t come too.  Still we envy you like hell going to Britain.

I’ll send you dope on trains instanter.  A warning:  don’t bring too much baggage here.  There are no porters, no taxis, and no nothing.  And it is absolutely Verboten for me to carry loads up the hill from the station.  So, travel light, be prepared for about 1 mile walk from the train to the house.

Wish me luck on my various ventures, and lent let us know the expected date of departure pronto.

God Bless, and all our best to Jack,
Jigg

1 Jigg had suffered from a mild heart condition since early childhood; he was to die of a heart attack in 1965, aged 50.

* * * * *

To Creighton and Paula Scott

[Robbins House, Red Hook, New York]
[September 1943]

Dear Jig and Pabli—

Thanks for Pabli’s lovely letter, which was a pleasure to have.

I am aghast that ES plans to dump herself on you for such a long stay.  It’s terrible, but I suppose there is nothing to do about it.  However, I hope that if she starts any funny business whatever, even the slightest, that you send her packing instanter.  With Jack’s position, she has plenty of money, so there’s not the slightest reason she should stay with you a moment longer than is a complete mutual pleasure.  Don’t make the kind-hearted mistake of starting in to handle her with gloves.  She doesn’t understand kindness, courtesy or good taste—or anything except first principles.  And she will be awake nights trying to make a rift between you two—so stick close together no matter what the merits of a discussion appear on the surface.

As I said to you, my position with regard to the lady is briefly this:  I don’t want her to have my address or know where I live, or anything whatever about Ward Manor estate1.  As soon as you know when ES is coming please drop Gladys a card immediately and tell her not to give ES my address.  For Jig’s sake, since she is after all his mother, I might just possibly see her once in New York, if it is mutually convenient, providing she will behave herself and cut out all Evelyn Scottisms.  And I want her to keep her fingers out of my book.2  Of course she will find out about it, one way or another, and doubtless get to read it.  She will say it is not true to facts, meaning that I have omitted to say that from the time we returned to New York from Brazil she slept with other men and tried to rub my nose in it, that when we went to Europe she took along a lover (Merton) whom she began to sleep with in Bermuda and slept with him in my house in Collioure and Banyuls, that when we went out to North Africa in my car she took along a lover to sleep with, whom she afterwards married (Jack), etc, etc.  She will be furious because I have left her some self-respect to live with, and myself some self-respect to die with!  But the book is true to my life.  I stood for all this for Jig’s sake, trying to seek some semblance of a home for him.  And if I have refrained from telling the world what kind of a mother my son had, and she says a word about it, either in public or in private to any friends, I shall be her bitter enemy and never see or communicate with her again as long as I live.  And I think she knows me well enough by this time to know that I mean exactly what I say.

God bless you all four
Love
Dad

1 Cyril had moved to this secluded estate just outside Red Hook, New York
2
Life Is Too Short, Cyril’s autobiography, published in 1943. Evelyn did not see it for several years and when she did she took great exception to his account of their life together.

* * * * *

Evelyn arrived in Tappan some time around September/October 1943, while Jack returned to England at around the same time. He had recently been left some money by an aunt, and that, with the proceeds of the sale of Jove Cottage was used to buy a property in London where he stayed whenever possible. The house was a large detached Edwardian dwelling on four floors, and his plan was to convert three of the floors to flats, and to use the rental income to support himself and Evelyn the basement flat. In the event, the house became a massive financial drain.

* * * * *

To Paula Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[November 1943]

Dear daughter—

I just have your long letter, begun Oct 25th and concluded Nov 7th, and am much touched and pleased that you felt that I was a father to whom you could come in a time of perplexity and sadness.  I am glad you sent me these letters, written in a time of trouble, instead of destroying them when what you dreaded had passed, for they are one more realization that you are a really-truly daughter to me who love you as my own child.

Jig and you are more Christian in your attitude toward ES than I am.  To me her psychology is not human.  It really rests on choice of the highest available degree of emotional tension at any cost to anybody, and is thus a spiritual drug habit.  I pray that I may never become comparably oblivious to the sufferings of others, and admire the spirit of Christ-like compassion that Jig expressed and you joined him in.  I also pray that your home may be delivered from her soon.

God bless you all four
Love
Dad

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[November 1943]

Dear Jig—

I wrote Pavli last night after I talked with you on the phone, and today I want to write you.

Listen, old man.  If and when a thing no longer lies within your control the only means of safety resides in the way you meet it.  Let’s hope for the best, son, but I advise facing the alternative right now, even if it doesn’t come.  Let’s face anything that may come, with heads up and determination to win through.

I wrote to comfort Pavli, but you are the only one who can comfort her.  It’s a woman’s role to stand by in small crises—it’s a man’s role to stand by in a great one.  Start in right now to get Pavli in the best frame of mind possible to meet whatever eventuates.

It’ll come out all right, whichever way it goes.  And you are your father’s son, and you will be like him in a tight place.

All this doesn’t mean that I have lost hope—but just in case.

God bless you my dear son,
Love,
Dad

* * * * *

To Creighton Scott

[Red Hook, New York]
[late 1943]

My beloved Son—

I understand perfectly what you and Paula are going through—I endured it for years.  I hope and pray that by hook or crook you can get that octopus’s tentacles out of your home right away, and when you do, for the sake of your children, of Pavla, and your own sake, never let her enter it again, no matter what the pretext or circumstances presented by her.  She’s killing you and Pavla by inches, but you can rationalize it and think of the great day when she finally has to leave—your magnificent babies, when they are a little older, not having experience and perspective, would have their poor little souls completely wrecked by her satanic emotional instability and complete inhumanity.

God bless you
Love
Dad

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

January 28, 1944
NITELETTER
SQ/LDR W J METCALFE
26 BELSIZE CRESCENT HAMPSTEAD LONDON NW3

THIS URGENTISSIMO ET CONFIDENTIAL YOUETME1 STOP AM DOING ALL POSSIBLE OBTAIN EXIT PERMIT EVELYN YOUR WIFE BUT EXTRAORDINARILY IMPORTANT YOU EXPEDITE PASSAGE ARRANGEMENTS YOUR END UNDERSTAND PASSAGE MONEY ALMOST ACCUMULATED IF NOT EYE GLADLY CONTRIBUTE FIFTY DOLLARS OR MORE MAIN POINT GET EVELYN ENGLAND PRONTO OTHERWISE HELLISH FAMILY SITUATION COMING TO HEAD TELL ME HOW SEND YOU MONEY IF NEEDED REPLY COLLECT THIS ADDRESS LEAVE EVELYN OUT OF IT UNDERLINED

CREIGHTON SCOTT, BLUENETWORK NEWS RM 276JA

Telegraphese for “you and me”

* * * * *

21. A writers’ retreat and the Wild West

There are no letters in any of the collections I visited covering the period between April 1929, when Evelyn was living in Greenwich Village with Jack, and July of that year.  It is not known whether they  have been lost or destroyed; so we know little of the events that took Evelyn to Yaddo, just outside Saratoga Springs, New York, for the first time.

Yaddo post card.PNG

Yaddo was first opened as an artists’ colony in 1926. The house belonged to Spencer Trask, a venture capitalist, and his writer wife Katrina. The couple wished to give something to society and, after the deaths of their four children, it was Katrina Trask’s wish to create a haven where artists could work and flourish. It still flourishes, albeit in a slightly different form, today.

It is hard to overestimate the importance of Yaddo to both Evelyn and Jack.  It provided them with generous board and accommodation at a very reasonable price but, more importantly, the other guests were a cross-section of American intellectual life.  They included artists, writers and critics and Evelyn found their company supportive and stimulating.  Yaddo’s executive director, Elizabeth Ames, provided Evelyn and Jack with much-needed artistic support and financial succour on several occasions.

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

“Yaddo”, Saratoga Springs, New York
July 2, 1929

Yes, dearest mother, you are very beautiful in your patience about money.  If I could ever get through with doctors and dentists I would be enormously nearer being of proper help to you.  I shall have to go again in Santa Fe for I have infected philopean1 tubes and it takes a long time to treat.  Also there is proud flesh growing outside where the stitches came out and that will sometime have to be cut off.  Still I think I am better as we made a very difficult journey up here in a terribly crowded train, stood most of the way.  I had to help carry baggage, and still seem to have no very bad effects.  I knock on wood however.  I couldn’t have done that before the operation.

In a money sense our trip up here was unfortunate.  We just made it.  The round trip for us both was ten dollars each.  That was bad enough.  But breaking up Perry Street we had to take so many things with us, typewriters etc, and had to have porters.  We also missed the bus from Yaddo and had to take a taxi there.  That made five dollars extra just for luggage.  But as I told you this place once arrived is extraordinary.  It was left by some people named Trask to be used as a summer home for people doing work in arts and sciences, and of course the board is nominal and doesn’t half pay the expense.  You have to be recommended by the trustees and there is always a long waiting list.  And you can only come once.  I hope Jack can stay on after I go.

It is a beautiful estate of five hundred and seventy acres.  Part is public gardens, the rest meadows and farm.  The main building is a kind of imitation of a baronial hall, very much on the grand scale.  The reception rooms are tapestries, paintings, a fountain, impressive draperies, old Italian furniture.  For our seven a week each, the cheapest imaginable board, Jack and I were escorted to a huge double bedroom with a view of miles of lush country and the Green Mountains of Vermont like blue clouds that never move behind.  We have a private bath.  I am writing in a room as big as Perry Street and mine for work while I am here.  Jack has a studio of a rustic type about a quarter of a mile from the house.  There are fifteen artists as guests, some for a fortnight, some for all summer.  We were asked for long but account of Jig could not accept.  Breakfast is served on trays in bedrooms.  Lunch is optional—upstairs or down.  Tea downstairs.  Dinner downstairs.  Plenty of servants all very quiet and English trained.  The hostess is a Mrs Ames2 whom I like very much.  No dressing to match surroundings, fortunately, as most guests are supposed to be poor.

Dearest love and more soon as able.  I hope for better news on money later.
elsie

Fallopian.  Evelyn continued to suffer from gynaecological problems arising from Jig’s birth.

Elizabeth Ames, the administrator at Yaddo, was very supportive of Evelyn and Jack in a number of ways over the years.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

care Mrs Cyril Kay-Scott1
415 San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico2
July 3 [1929]

Otto, dear:

Your letter written while Louise was in Paris was a treat to friendship.  I didn’t answer it the same day as I felt like doing, only because I can not write perfunctorily to my dearest beloveds. Now we are up at “Yaddo” there is breath.

Otto, this “Yaddo” place is to all intents and present purposes paradise.  Lola is here for one thing, but there are permanent reasons as well.  The estate is five hundred and seventy acres.  Jack and I have a huge double room which makes you feel should hold levees.  We have a private bath and a studio each.  All this costs seven dollars a week.  And I can only stay a fortnight, having decided to make a bee line to Santa Fe while the money was good.  It is a test of maternal feeling that I can.  From an acre of window, I now look down a terrace lacking powdered hair and peacocks, to a fountain that would delight a proper marquise, and then to meadows of hay, and then to hills lavish as they only grow in America, and then to the Green Mountains of Vermont—chalk blue and stern and invitingly aloof.  Rain clouds are swelling dark on the sky.  The pine trees converse in aromatic threats.  The bird songs pepp up and die away like the freshest of small musical water.  The bees behave as bees should.  It is so still my typewriter sounds like a blasting machine.  We have breakfast in bed. What, what more can you ask.  And none of the people so far are unpleasant.

After the 15th I go to Santa Fe.  Hope Jack can stay here until his book is done.  I have 22 letters to write.  Literally.  Love and love and love, evelyn

Note that Cyril had already “divorced” Evelyn. It is hard to know whether she was not aware of this at the time of writing, or if she was in denial over the “divorce”

Despite the Santa Fe return address, this letter was written from Yaddo.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

Santa Fe, New Mexico
July 28 [1929]

Davy, dear:

I called you up Thursday morning several times, but nothing doing.  Did you leave early after all I wonder.  From what Jack said from Yaddo you didn’t seem to be there yet.

Davy, also it would very much help if you wrote the thing about Cyril’s work.  It still helps with the prospectus of the school, anything like that, and will be much appreciated.

I feel the altitude here.  It makes my head ache a lot, but they say you get used to it.  If I can get in shape physically, I shall enjoy every minute—first in work, and second in looking at an old land of the gods which somehow got into this western world.  Burnt and bitter and lovely and colossal—the half desert with its little green flows to plateaus dead of everything but more vivid than life.  The Indians are suspiciously affable—rather broken winged birds, but they still belong in their clothes that mingle their civilization with Mexico.  Mary G is here on visit and asked us to her hotel to see Indian dance.  Sun dance—great fat man leading had sun made of eagle feather around a white plaque, wonderful bonnet—not much else.  Stamping and hopping very agile, while chorus chanted monotonously and drum thumped.  Then Eagle Dance by two men who wore huge wings, and headdresses and tail feathers.  It was very fine in a plastic way.

Haven’t written a line yet and so MUCH mail.  I won’t write often and I suppose you never.  Yet I do so long to hear how Lola and that magnificent poem go and how you are and the gamble of the examination.  won’t you sometime tell me?

Very deepest love to you and her, Davy dear,
evelyn

If you ever can vacation here—gee.  I think you’d love it, Davy.  And Lola would make the world ring with what she saw.  Gee, gee.

Santa fe
Modern view of 411 San Francisco Street [Google Earth street view]
To Lola Ridge

Santa Fe, New Mexico
late July 1929]

Lola, lovely and dear:

I was sorry to hear through Jack1 that you had been having more hard times, my precious. 

Sweet, I don’t see how you could bear the trip unless it were done gradually like a pilgrim’s journey, but Lord you would love this country.  Half of it hangs in the sky.  The rest is hot colossal nudity—burned in all the warm tones of flesh, but aloof, aloof—old and still in the west with which it seems to unrelated.  Of course there are more intimate aspects, when the pines dress whole hillsides in crisp dark petticoats—but the old and angry and the burning yellow is the best.

Until we got to the Kansas prairies all was America as I have known it too well.  You have seen them doubtless, so know how that more rugged sea of the earth seemed to hurl itself on the train, more capaciously than any waters.  I went to bed in the lake of grass and grain on Thursday and at three am Friday morning looked thru my window and felt that the tide has suddenly been arrested.  That great rocks had been startled out of the night to meet us.  That was Colorado which I didn’t half see.  It wasn’t till reaching Lamy at ten and being met by Cyril and Phyllis (Phyllis is far finer than any of us conceived, Lola.  She is a beautiful, staunch person, humanly clear and sound straight thru) and Jig, that I began to realize yet another world—mountains blazing with white cloud wreaths, and a solemnity of no pioneer remembrance merely, but of the only eternal our senses can approach.

The Indians I don’t hope to “understand”.  But I felt their sulky pride of children under the affability of broken spirit.  It is as if inside they had retreated from man like the land—gone inward to die, not quite beautifully, but with unimpaired dignity, but with something alive and hatefully protected against the rest of us.

Jig is a delight.  Sends his love to you.  Cyril wants to have a permanent school here.  El Paso was hell.2  To that end if I can I shall help buy a plot of ground and a three room adobe house for a beginning (don’t tell).  It is what I can do if at all for Jig who feels free and happy here and released from the east, no place for youth.  Nobody has any luxuries and Cyril can’t paint, but it is being alive and somehow sanely and more comfortingly.

Cyril is recognised as distinguished as a teacher and there is hope, but it takes capital and a long time.

Bless my dear and her work.  Give my love to Davy.  Cyril sends his to you two.
evelyn

Jack was at Yaddo, with Lola, while Evelyn was in Santa Fe with Cyril and Jig.
Cyril had opened his first school of art in El Paso the previous year.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Santa Fe, New Mexico]
August 11 [1929]

Darling one: I am in a panic.  My mother has written that relatives are turning her out and that my cousin Elizabeth, past insulter of all I love, who lives in Tarrytown, has my address and is coming out here to get the low down on me and find means of sending mother to me.  It makes me feel suicidal, but in a nightmare way, as the literal result of mother’s descent on me is too awful to be believed in, so that truly I don’t believe in it.  I have written post haste to Sophie about an old ladies home—the kind to which you pay an entrance fee and are recommended socially.  Of course I believe that mother would have to be taken to it in a straight jacket.  Mother says the Graceys simply do not believe that I can’t afford to keep her—my trips to Europe and all that.  Mother is in agonies herself.  She affects me as a rabbit!

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

Santa Fe, New Mexico
September 5 [1929]

Dearest Otto:

Well, Cyril has given up El Paso as too much of a hell hole of mediocrity for a life residence, and the school is being reorganized up here.  I think it is going to make a smashing hit.  All the big bugs on the new board, and town giving studio.  But it is, very privately, the usual strain to get through the preparations financially.  There will be nothing coming in until the new school is actually under way, and they are buying a house and a bit of property and there is the removal of all the property portable from El Paso.  It’s the first home Jig has ever had except the Bermuda fake.  And thank god for once in my life I’m being able to do at least a ninetieth as much for them as they have for me (q.t.).

Cyril has worked on it a long time but now has the town by the ears and the artists here quite frankly are unanimously for him and his teaching and work.  All the good ones are on his board, including John Sloan and so on.  So I think it ought to go.  Of course he won’t be able to paint for another couple of years, but I still pray he’ll get the chance for that in the end.

Jig is the joy of me life.  I enclose a notice of the hanging of his picture in the school exhibition at the museum.  He has the goods as an artist, but has a poverty complex from watching his parents sweat.

Darling old Jack has spent a productive, but I hope to some degree lonely summer at Yaddo, and has finished his book.  He is now dickering with publishers in NY, and expects to come down here the middle of the month where, as living is cheaper than in NY, we hope to stay until January.

Love from everybody here to you all, and from me from the ‘eart, always, old dears, evelyn

PS Otto don’t tell but I have put my eyes out on a nursery story.1 Hate it.  Never do another.  Began it before knew The Wave would go.  Isn’t quite done yet.  Hell hell hell to write, don’t dare let anybody know I did it, nom de plume.

Evelyn is referring to Blue Rum, which was published in 1930 under the pseudonym Ernest Souza.

* * * * *

To Maude Dunn

[Santa Fe, New Mexico]
[November 7, 1929]

Dear Vava,1

I do hope you do not feel sore but I have been living cowboy fashion for the last week and one cannot write letters twenty miles from nowhere.

The cowboys sure are a tough lot.  They ride all day (I rode 50 miles bareback), sleep in snow, get up with the sun, and shoot and cook their breakfast in the freezing cold.

After having roped (lassoed) the horses, an hour is spent in resting and packing, and then off again.

I froze my feet and both ears the day before yesterday.  I have acquired a good bird dog by the name of Sadie, whose only lucid thought is food.

I sure appreciate the cufflinks, and will wear them with my cowboy shirts.

Much love from;
Jig

Jigg’s childhood name for his grandmother

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

586½ Camino del Monte Sol, [Santa Fe, New Mexico]
December 27 [1929]

Sweet, sweet, sweet:

To think I have left your letters unanswered over two weeks.  To think I sent you no message for Xmas—or Davy—and not even one to Cyril, Jig or Jack.   I was ill for all of three weeks after I got here, and am still unwell, but this is not important, being no more than altitude and a state of mind. I am so full of disgust for Santa Fe I cannot express myself even in profanity.  No use going into it, but the divorce between Phyllis and Cyril, my return here without Jack, Jig’s love affair with a girl older than himself1, and the fate of the Art School have unleashed that almost impersonal malice of a small town, and I have been through many of the same things I did when Cyril and I first separated.  Current assertions:  I came here last time to break up Cyril’s home.  I succeeded.  I am back because I am in love with him.  (If I try to defend Cyril against the most scurrilous falsehoods that is the answer.  You see his leaving here for Denver infuriated those who had profited by the Art School boom here.)  I have left Jack to become the mistress of Don Clark2.  Cyril only went to Denver because he had played fast and loose with art school funds.  (There weren’t any.)  And the whole rigmaroles about Jig and Selma.  Oh, to have some real escape into this country whose vastness at present seems to exist only to emphasize the picayune nature of humans.  I look at the very mountains as if they had betrayed me by being gorgeous and aloof.  My weakness is such a profound aloneness among my kind that when I am literally living alone I lack the fibre to bear it.  If I have one human who is mine, to whom I can turn for re-affirmation of everything of which the crowd is unmindful I can be as contemptuous of crowds as the pride of my mind would have.  But this has happened to me before, and when there is not a human being to turn to for complete trust it seems beyond me to keep going at all.

From your nostalgic and loving,
evelyn

Camino del sol
Modern view of Camino del Monte Sol [Google Earth street view]

Selma Hite, then Cyril’s secretary, was 7 years older than Jig. They eloped the following June and moved to Greenwich Village, where Selma later ran off with a man her own age. Evelyn and Cyril managed to get the marriage annulled.
American reviewer for New York Times and previously a lecturer at University of California

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Santa Fe, New Mexico]
[early 1930]

I feel sort of emotional today over decision I am making, if lawyer can get me out, to lose what I paid on the mud Mexican cottage and give up the idea of living in Santa Fe.  It isn’t the Phyllis Cyril problem, as so many people thought it would be, but another nest of complexes uncovered all relating to small towns and N Orleans.  I have an obsession to the effect that I am being looked askance at morally and that people are trying to cut me.  It’s quite horrible to have this infantile throw back come on like an attack of measles.  I couldn’t understand myself until, after much analysis, I harkened back to New Orleans, my mother’s idea of being cut after my father got broke and my grandmother got crazier.  Only cure for morbid reflex is, apparently, to accept the invitations and go in for social life—and that spoils writing.  Didn’t you ever hear of anything so nearly batty!  Living remotely superior, and suddenly here I feel as if people were being deliberately nasty to me, when my intellect tells me that is impossible.  However, I have just about decided that I can not settle down in a small southern town.  It only hurts because of spoiling nice plans for Jig.

And it does look so pretty here!  love and love, evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Santa Fe, New Mexico]
[February 1930]

Beautiful love;

What I feel pretty awful is that I have run through my own prosperous year and have nothing to show for it.  Misfortunes seem to be with Cyril forever as far as money goes and as it is I let the piece of property go and—was a fool, I don’t know—lost outright what I had put into it.  Because to have gone on would have meant borrowing at eight to ten per cent from money lenders who had to be pain in the year.  So that idea of making Jiggy’s future safe is certainly a fluke.  Cyril still has three thousand dollars to get paid up on his part, and seems pretty sure to have no income at all here during the winter months, as the attendance at art school is for summer only.  I don’t want this to go beyond you and Davy and Glad, however, as bluff as usual is still the thing.  But what actually scares me is the idea of leaving here and leaving Jig with them when they may be reduced to ten dollars in the world as they were last week.  And then if they don’t pay up on the house they lose the whole thing, which is several thousand of investment already.  Cyril’s too old1 to ever get back into any business, and if this don’t work I don’t know what will.  Makes me sort of sore that the people who profess to like him and admire him (a la Stieglitz,2 for gods sake never mention that!) never have made any effort to sell his work.

The mother thing is another crisis.  No Home will admit her in any state but Tennessee and that is the one place she hates to go, and as I slumped from sending her a hundred a month for a little while down to twenty-five and the relatives had to take on things again, they are again after me.  They write that I have sold a hundred thousand copies of my book and must be rich.  That makes me angry, but at the same time it is sentimental vanity still and I ought to be more honest about the home arrangement and brutal.  I suppose it’s loving Jig so makes this mother stuff get me so much.

Santa fe courthouse.PNG

But in between such tiresome consequences occasional time to remember what really important, eh!  Such as the white fog of perpetual snow in the pines on the mountains—the spirit look of fresh snow-falls when I look out the kitchen door at night and see a silken back yard and silver and silver drifting faintly down.  I really love snow now.  Then I can think of “wash his pale hands in the milk of the light” and things like that.  Also that acceptance to the scheme of life which is mostly hell brings some sort of immediate unwordable compensation which adds a dimension to living—only I only achieve it sporadically—it seems nearer a perfect surmounting of all the limitations of literal action when you realize it.

Blessings and love forever.  evelyn

Cyril was 59 at the time.
The influential American photographer Alfred Stieglitz was said to have praised Cyril’s paintings

* * * * *

Marraige cert.PNG

On March 17, 1930, Evelyn and Jack got married in Tierra Amarillo, New Mexico, about 90 miles north of Santa Fe. There are no letters extant referring to the decision to do so, nor to their choice of that town (although Evelyn says later in  a letter dated November 23, 1953 that they chose such a remote place to avoid any chance of being pursued by the sensationalist press). Nor do any of the letters refer to the fact of their being formally married:  however, as they had been posing as married for some time, they may not have felt the need to emphasize their new status.

* * * * *

To David Lawson

Santa Fe, New Mexico
July 23, 1930

Darling Davy:

Have tonsillitis today and pretty sick.  Wanted to answer you properly but things just keep on coming up.  So glad Lola lovely dear is off to Yaddo.  I await the next miracle from her typewriter.  I hope she’s better and that you are easing up a little, Davy.

Thank you about Cyril and art school.  It has done very well this summer.

Davy darling, I am just too sick to write—tho not serious—just same old thing.  Book troubles me because I must leave here and can’t seem to finish.  However have come thru before so maybe will now.  I’ll be in NY around sept 1st.  Jack and I aim to go to England few weeks thereafter as not enough money to finish book here but might string it out with cheap English living.

Cyril’s love and mine and Phyllis’s regards, and Jig has always thought a heap of you.

my love dear Davy as always,
evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

449½ Hudson Street, NYC
August 5, 1930

Dearest Lola,

What do you mean, I should like to know, by signing yourself my “friend if I want you”?!  Don’t talk so!  You should know I want you as a friend!

Poor Evelyn was thinking of packing up to leave Santa Fe when she fell ill,- bad tonsillitis and also a broken tooth-bridge. So that means delay.  She hopes to have the bridge fixed and be well enough to travel by about the 14th or 15th of this month,- and will first go to Clarksville for this awful family pow-wow about her mother.  I am hoping to be able to meet her when she arrives at Clarksville and see her through the unpleasant business.  Golly, how glad I’ll be when we’re together again.  I have been missing her terribly, Lola, so badly, finally, that I get too restless to settle down to good work.  But it won’t be long now I hope.

Drop me a line whenever you can, and good luck, dear Lola, with health and work.

Very much love, and kisses from
Jack.

PS Please remember me affectionately to Mrs Ames.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis and Louise Morgan

Care Mrs M T Dunn
739 Madison Street, Clarksville, Tennessee
But reply to:  care F Sommers, The Attic Shop, 449½ Hudson Street, New York City

August 24, 1930

Dear Peoples,

Here we both are in Clarksville savouring the dilapidated South in company of our mother and mother-in-law respectively.  A hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs and much much coffee is found useful, and sustains us through the day.  However, all good things must come to an end eventually and we are probably leaving here this week.  Then about 3 weeks in N York and then England.  We shall probably be in London for a few days round about end of September or early October.  Oh what fun to see you people again!  Blessings to you, and hugs and kisses from us both.

Jack (“John”)
and Evelyn

* * * * *

This letter marks the end of Evelyn’s time in New Mexico, although she did continue in contact with Cyril. Some time in the early autumn (and again, letters relating to their decision to travel are missing) Evelyn and Jack sailed to England and to the start of a new chapter in  their lives.

* * * * *

 

Continue reading “21. A writers’ retreat and the Wild West”

12. Merton

After an isolated winter in the fastness of the Algerian desert, the Scott household returned to France on the spring of 1924.  Evelyn’s letters give no clue to how they found themselves there but it was clear how difficult she had found it being so far from her dearest friends (Lola in New  York City and Otto in London) and it would have only been a matter of time before they found their way back to Europe or, more precisely, the Mediterranean coast of France.

 

In the spring of 1924 Merton returned to London on his own, for reasons that are not specified but probably had to do with his attempts to have a gallery mount an exhibition of his paintings.

* * * * *

To Owen Merton

[Banyuls-sur-Mer, France]
[May 1924]

Dear Merton

Your note just received.

As the mails seem to be terribly slow, I am telegraphing you another 200 francs today.  I don’t like to send it in this lest you might need it before this arrives.

Evelyn is not writing because she is in bed with the stomach ache peculiar to ladies chaque quatre semaines.

I’m glad you’re finding something to paint and shall look forward eagerly to see the stuff you bring back.  I continue dutifully to cover Archer paper with water colors every day.  I’ll let you decide when you see them whether or not the material is wasted.

My Archer paper came so I’m all right for materials till we leave.  I got a letter from Marie yesterday (don’t tell Evelyn!) quite friendly and nice.

Don’t worry about anything here.  Everybody is well (except Evelyn’s unwell and that will be over by tomorrow).  My neuritis is better.  Jig is fine.  We’ve had rain twice—once all day.

Thanks awfully for the pipe—it’s a nice one and I like it.  Have a good time and do some ripping things and we’ll all be glad to see you when you get back,

Everyone sends love, Cyril

banyuls
Mediterranean coast near Banyuls [Google Earth]

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Banyuls-sur-Mer, France]
[May 1924]

Precious Lola, HOW ARE THE STITCHES?

I just wrote Ellen privately that I thought sea voyages hard on new operations, and I’m not pleased to hear before you go that you felt them wobbly.  Thank goodness your letter was stamped Bermuda so you did arrive whole.

Now, angel, to say I was touched at your writing that note in bed in pain doesn’t express it, but you should be spanked.  I wish we were all prize fighters and then we’d lick the world.  But we will anyhow.

I am excited because Merton took the last cash he got and is off today to London on it to try to clinch the interest that has been stirred up there to try to clinch some sales.  He is one of the sweetest people alive and with the worry of poor Suggie’s side should have turned my face to the wall ere now without him.  Suggie is just himself, a marvel and lovely, but he certainly has gone through a hell of a lot of pain lately, and as soon as Merton gets back from London Sug will leave for Paris to see a specialist.  I’m divided between a desire to know the worst and a cowardly horror of the possible seriousness of the diagnosis.  I just try for the present not to consider possibilities.

I can’t write a letter today because I went to the hospital and had that miserable wart thing taken off my typing finger.  I had it last year and didn’t do anything and then putting vitriol on it made it worse so finally had to cut way under my nail and take five stitches on my finger and it makes me lame at typing.  But gee I’m glad to get of it.  Lord, this little operation reminds me most vividly of what you have just been through.  Oh, God damn it, there is too MUCH pain in the world.

Well, honey, so long as you ain’t here I’m glad you are where you are.  It’s prettier here in one way, but golly we want to see you.  This is a very decent little flat, funny and dingy and cheap French formality but has a view of the sea and nice gay painted fishing boats and on the roof a lovely terrace that is quite private with a view of piled up mountain and little villages.

When we left Bou-Saada we came back a new way on the train and for four hours saw gorgeous aloof snow mountains like the Alps and June fields of wheat and olives spread out in tired youngness of afternoon light, really wonderful.  Alger is beautiful land, but in much of it savagely poverty stricken.  Only along the coast the French have made it prosperous.  We all arrived ill and Merton again an angel of kindness.  If everybody was strong it would be a nice world.

I’ll write again when my finger gets more fluent.  Please let us know how you are as soon as you can.  I’m so glad you are seeing that nice place.  We all have occasional homesicks for the mermaid water.

Love and love and love and to Davy please when you write, Evelyn

PS  Banyuls is ten miles from Collioure where we were last year, is a larger town and cleaner but less picturesque.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan[1]

[Banyuls-sur-Mer]
June 6 [1924]

Dear Louise:

Dr Bennett carried Mutt[2] to London to put him in a sanatorium and have him examined by a nerve specialist.   He’ll probably stay a month.  It is supposed to be a secret that he is there and Dr B has promised to tell no one and let no one come near him, but if you will telephone and ask how he is I’ll be much obliged.  Phone is Langham 1190.  He went off doped.

Dear Louise, you are sweet to have written so nice a letter in such a nasty place and to cheer me up about the awful end of your so-called rest, and I could hug you for what you say of Suggie, who I do think with all my heart is one of the greatest men that ever lived and a very great artist.  [Just as great an artist as a man, emphatically.] [3] I am convinced that it will some day be recognized, because the proof is so indestructible and beyond contention, but I love you for seeing it now when it hasn’t become a fashionable thing to see.  Warm genuine appreciation like yours is a great help, and Sug has had to stand alone in every way more than anybody ought to.

I am so all in I can scarcely write, In ashamed to say that before doctor B had got out of the house I collapsed and behaved like a regular Victorian.  I think I cried for eight hours at a stretch and would have graced the pages of Dickens, though I had the grace to do it in my own room.  Today I have my monthly visitor and am generally so low that a mere boo frightens me.

I wish you could have stayed to see the circus that was perpetrated the night you left and every night since, a wonderful little two by four show right under the window.  They had a caravan in which they carried a pig, five chicks, and a dwarf, and there was a poor tiberculor lady with a baby who did bareback riding in a lachrymose way, a plump and sprightly lady who was a tight rope walker, and a papa who could turn somersalts and juggle barrels on his feet.  The dwarf was the clown.  One joke was to select five small boys from the audience, offer to take their pictures, and pose them thus [series of stick figures drawn here].  First little boy is holding his nose.  Second boy has his head in the air very proud and his fingers in the armholes of his vest and is watching the sky.  Third little boy is pointing disdainfully.  Fourth little boy squats on his hams.  Says boy one, Mon Dieu, what a smell.  Says boy two, It wasn’t I.  Says boy three, there he is.  Boy four says nothing.  How is that for French rural wit to be exhibited at Collioure.

As for our part of the visit, we loved you and having you.  I wish it could have been for a long, long time [you are writing.]

Our love to Otto.  I’m going to write decently when I recuperate. Evelyn

[1]   Wife of Otto Theis
[2]    Evelyn’s pet name for Owen Merton
[3]    Passages in square brackets were later inserted by Evelyn in her spiky hand.

 

banyuls beach
The beach at Banyuls-sur-Mer   [Andre Guarne]

The following letters focus on the relationship between Evelyn and Owen Merton and, in my next chapter, its eventual end.  It is likely that Owen’s precarious health was worsened by the stress of pursuing a physical relationship with Evelyn while Owen, Evelyn and Cyril were living in the same household.  Evelyn’s letters have given very few hints as to the physical arrangements which allowed this relationship to continue, or to why Cyril tolerated it, if indeed he did.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

Banyuls-sur-Mer
June 8 [1924]

Dear Otto:

I have made a mess of my affairs again.  My private opinion is that Merton’s collapse is due as much and more to the artificialities that have hedged in his personal life as it was due to worries about money.  He simply can not be anything but spontaneous and obviously honest.

I am enclosing a letter to him[1] which I want you to deliver simply because you will be able to judge whether or not he is in anything like a condition for serious discussion, which I can not judge at this distance.  I can’t take any of his friends into my confidence.  I want you to read the letter, however boring and annoying the process, for Merton knows that you are the only person with whom I have always been quite frank and it may be a relief to him to talk to you.  I shall write him that, as soon as he is well enough to be about, he will please go to see you to talk over some plans, and you can go somewhere to lunch or tea and have the letter presented.  If you don’t want to do this, Otto, it will be alright.  But I am asking it knowing I impose a difficult thing on you.  Judging by what happened to Merton physically, this is really a matter of life and death.  I think it best he should not have come back here with an emotional élan and have a shock.  It might produce the same result as before.  I think it would be better to get the edge of the shock over while he is among doctors and friends.  If you disagree please tell me.

I can trace a great deal of the depression and overkeying of last winter to incidents relative to myself and him.  I hadn’t considered enough what it was doing to Sug, but now I see the whole thing, in spite of Merton’s protests, is a physiological and psychological impossibility for Merton to.

If you will read the letter you will have something of an idea of how things stand.  I really love Merton very much, but I love Sug more I know or I could not dream of hurting Merton this much.  But I won’t discuss it for I am in an utter inward mess—almost as bad as four years ago—and worse because it’s all happened before with no solution.  Merton is as thoroughly sweet and genuine a person as ever lived and I have three years, nearly, of knowing him to test my opinion by.  He really has been a constant pleasure to me.  Sug, of course, remains the man with the most titanic pride, the greatest moral and mental strength, and the most infinite capacity for tenderness and self-immolation without bunk I ever saw, also the most wonderful theoretic foresight based on sensitive intuitions. But—My defect is that I had too much of an analytic bent to accept the usual self-deceptions, but nothing wherewith to conquer my most ordinary of human nature.  Anyway Merton will get over it.

If you don’t want, when Merton is better, to deliver this letter, or if you prefer to mail it to him, alright, only please be sure he is better.  But if you will let him talk to you I think it might do him good.  He is really very self-respecting and self-responsible—not an artistic monster—and I don’t think he will impose on you very much.  He may regard this quite sensibly or he may want to rush down here, but anyway it will, it seems to me, be good that he has some forewarning of what Sug and I have discussed.

Affectionately, evelyn

Just say no flat if you want to keep entirely out and mail the letter back, but there won’t really be a mess.

PS  An hour later:  perhaps it isn’t fair to you as Sug’s friend to ask you to do this, so will you keep up on Merton s health and mail him the letter when he is much better?  That needn’t envolve you.  I wish you’d read the letter though.  Merton will never be nasty to Sug and he might need a friend very much who was also our friend.

[1]This letter has not survived

* * * * *

There is a gap in the collection between this letter from June 1924 and the next, when Evelyn writes again to Louise in October from Beziers, along the coast from Banyuls. She had visited Paris with Jigg, then 10 years old, while Cyril was setting up an exhibition of his watercolours.

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

(Chez Madame Leclerc}
23 Place Emile Zola, Beziers, France
[October 1924]

Dear Louise:

This was what happened in Paris (of course).  Jig and I had only been there three days when Jig acquired one of his old bronchial colds.  The dampness of that place is simply poisonous to us.  He was sick for a couple of days, too sick to go anywhere and then I came down with the same germs and an attack of grippe that gave me fever and made me so ghastly if unimportantly ill that I imagined I’d have to go to a hospital or something to get out of the hotel.  As a matter of fact I was only really ill a little longer than Jigeroo, but as we had planned a week in Paris you can see how our time was chiefly occupied. I was so all-in and discouraged I didn’t budge except to go out and get my meals and two expeditions in those first two days when we went to the Louvre and to Les Invalides.  Then as the devil would have it, I hit town the same day as Roger Fry[1] and Sug was seeing a lot of him and not at our hotel either and we only saw Sug for dinner.  Then Merton came up to take me back—you’ll hardly believe me if I go on with this tale of woe, but its all true—(AND THIS IS A SECRET WHICH WOULD RUIN Merton IF KNOWN.  NOBODY HERE OR New York TO KNOW HE WENT TO Paris)—Merton came up after a week with his aunt and uncle seeing the Midi, took leave of them and came on the same route on another train, to go back down south with me because traveling distances makes me ill and I can’t risk them alone.  Well Merton is still in miserable health and aunt and uncle, who travel well when alone, are so afraid he will come at them for money that they travel cheapest when with him.  We was sightseeing on his feet and had to stand on several crowded train trips, did their errands, and missed some of his meals and his heart gave out, so he reached Paris sick too.  He had to lie down most of the time between packing and was really ill when he got on the train with me.  For cheapness in seeing France and with the idea of avoiding fatigue we came via Dijon, spent the night there, were misinformed about trains, and even at the station (which we went to with our lunch only started because the train left an hour earlier than time table said) had a practical joke played on us by some railway employees who told us our train was in and about to leave when it hadn’t even come (was a half hour late) so that as a result my trunk was left behind to be shipped petit vitesse by a hotel employee (it has all the clean clothes in it).  Aboard the train there wasn’t a seat in the second class (the PLM is a hellish rich man’s road, only one second class car in a long train) so we bought first class on the train (if we had bought first class before we left we could have caught a later express and saved half the journey).  All of us had colds and were fagged without lunch.  Arrived at Avignon at eight-thirty that night (trip one thirty to eight thirty) the town had three hundred pilgrims in it and no hotel room, so we all had to go in one room (something discretion disapproves) and the beds were impossible for two, so, Jig and Merton getting to sleep first, I spent the night coughing on a chaise lounge.  Well Avignon was charming to see and we sight-saw the whole day, but left at five that evening expecting to get a dining car dinner.  Diner was taken off and we bought ham sandwiches, after eating them had to wait a half hour at Cette where we might have had dinner anyway, and did try, but I was so tired it made me lose it.  Arrived at Beziers at nine and I was unwell and so sick I could hardly get to the hotel.  Spent the next day in bed and Merton rushing around to try and get some kind of servant to help out in this flat.  Yesterday I revived and here we are.  (It wasn’t time for me to be unwell either, moving did it, so not imprudence.)

You will understand I am in no state to judge of the beauties of Beziers, which Merton picked out because it was the only big town in a hot climate in which he was able to find a flat for three hundred francs a month.  Place Emile Zola is appropriately surrounded by wagon yards, wood yards and alcohol manufacturies.  In the space before our domicile Nick Carter’s youthful associates play bowls all day.  Otherwise the flat is a shrunken edition of Banyuls, very decently furnished in an impossible style, and has running water and a two burner gas stove.  This place is like a mixture of Spain and my own dear southland.  It is a big and rather ugly middle-sized city where bullfighting is the chief interest of the population.  The leading citizens look like retired planters and never seemed to wear clean collars, but there are a great many of them, a place de theatre, innumerable newly decorated movies, and lots of cafes.  Its amusing really, but I haven’t yet seen the wonderful subjects which Merton promises to disclose for painting.

Oh, dear Louise, I will write a nicer letter later.  I am not pippy but feel expressionless from having received too many impressions in quick fire when I was in no condition to register them.

Sug was lovelier an’ ever and I wish you had been able to come over.  Just now Merton has an extra hard row to hoe because of the trouble in getting back enough health to get any work done but it hasn’t hurt his sense of humour or his disposition, and I guess we are all going to be rich and famous yet.  Only damn mortal flesh.

I wish you would feel sometimes later that a trip to France was what you needed.  You’d like to see this funny

More and more love to you and Otto.  evelyn

[1]  British artist and influential critic and member of the Bloomsbury Group.  Evelyn later maintained that he had praised Cyril’s painting.

beziers
Beziers [Alamy stock photo]

To Lola Ridge

Beziers, France
October 15, 1924

Darling Lola:

Gladys must have told you all our news, the wonderful hit Sug’s pictures made in Paris etc.  Several critics used the strongest terms of praise and in a discriminating way, for Parisians are at least mentally sensitive to the new experience if not themselves very richly creative.  And Roger Fry is such a staunch believer in him that it does your heart good in a day when nobody in power ever seems to bet on anything but the safe thing.  Sug wrote that the gallery has been crowded straight along and the show will be extended for a few days.  As we didn’t know any newspaper people we have been quite surprised at all the press attention too.  Merton thinks such a thing never happened at a first show before.

This brings me to the bullfight I went to see.  This beastly town is half Spanish and has Spanish matadors and things.  I saw six bulls killed—there were two more to be—and four horses, and never saw anything so ghastly as the CROWD.  I think the Spanish are drunk of drama and the dramatic element in appreciation is aesthetically non-valid.  I think Spanish art and life goes to pot in drama—even El Greco is tainted—and in the mass it’s a mess.  Picasso’s real aesthetic sense is limited and utterly lost in the grand gesture though that gesture is concealed under the prose nicety of cubism—naturalism of the arts.  The ultra cubists are utter if sincere fakes.

Well, back to Beziers which is like a little Toledo on a high hill, very beautiful from a plain and canals bordered by huge hundred year old cedars formally planted.  But OH what swinish people.  The dregs of French peasant winegrowing commercialism without any picturesque much less aesthetic elements.  Rich wine growers and wholesale grocery men.  Its a nasty place, even after Paris which I found absolutely vacant and formal over a commercialism less romantic and titanically grotesque and even more cruel than New York.  Notre Dame is a banal tradition, but the only beauty in the place is there in a however inferior gothic remnant.  The only art I like is gothic art and Chinese classic and Egyptian.  We were too bust to see theatres and things, but I went a lot to the Louvre which is inhabited by American ladies’ sewing circles and culture clubs, and to the Luxembourg which is the rottenest piffling gallery I ever saw, except for one room with two Cezannes and a few impressionists.  And we saw the modern show in some board barracks uptown, and it was a mess of conflicting formulas—not three pictures that had any relation to immediate seeing.  The French have forgot that the living eye is the basis of the visual experience and are more literary than the Academicians, only Academic literaryness is at least sometimes amusing as anecdote and these things are charts.  Sug and Merton simply rose to the gods after such a sight.  Sug’s things are really beautiful enough to make your cry, Lola, the best, and Merton had evolved from that youngness and fresh virile color into an infinitely greater complexity of organization without losing the powerfulness of a youthful experience.  He will always be of a more lyric bent than Sug, but it is wonderful to note the fine point of divergence—Sug’s toward an exquisite mental balance evolved from hair-trigger emotion and full of emotion, and Merton always clinging to the emotional vision with the mental subtlest intimated but not stated in such exquisite fullness.  Well I’ve had fun out of seeing them.

Merton’s rather ill yet, in fact damn wobbly, but I think a year will see him his old self.  [Remainder of letter missing]

* * * * *

To Louise Morgan

[Beziers, France]
January 28 or 29 [1925]

Dear Louise—

You sure are a brick, honey, to offer to put me up when it means, I can guess, considerable inconvenience NOT to me, as you suggest, but to yourself.  However, I am so grateful for the chance to be seeing you I can’t refuse it.  I could come for a little while anyway couldn’t I, and then if it didn’t seem fair to you to hang on for the whole time I must be there, Merton could help me find another place later?  Dear Louise, take into account however what it will mean to have your bathtub invaded—maybe just at the moment you want to use it—and a typewriter going three or four hours a day in the place you have to eat in.  Please do think well whether you could stand it or not, and be FRANK BEFOREHAND (tho frank after too) if it really, on serious consideration, seems too much for you.  For course I don’t give a damn how small the bedroom is so long as there is something to lie down in—even a bathtub, and that is absolutely true.  I don’t.  And bringing my table I think I will have a perfect place to write, provided I don’t feel it is playing hell with the household, in which case I won’t enjoy doing it.  I would drop writing for the time, but I simply have to get this first draft done in more or less of one stretch or it will be hell to resume it in the same key after months of changed focus.  For a second draft a delay is good.  So I would be writing a lot of the time—so much the better in one way as you needn’t have any fear of a bored idler demanding amusement.  Only will it get on your nerves?

The complications to be settled at this end are the following:  Sug, who is back in the Riviera again, may or may not have to be in Paris at the time Merton goes to London.  If Sug is at that rotten studio it is obviously no place for Jigeroo and I would have to stay over here somewhere with Jig until time to go to America (don’t tell anybody in USA that I am thinking of going there, please.)  If Sug is not going to be in Paris then he can take Jigeroo while I go to London.

In case Sug can’t keep Jig the whole time I might just possibly be able to come over for a short while which would do me lots of good.

NOTE:  If I come to your house for any time really you must be sure and let me know just exactly what one third of your housekeeping is and let me pay it sensibly.  This has already been talked over and agreed on if you remember so don’t do any lady tricks about it.

Now—your hint of spring air, fogs, and doves in old building gives me a thrill of anticipation.  I know I should love it.  I probably won’t be very diverting company and would prefer, if convenient, to be left out of the social activities you and Otto may be engaged in.  This, not from crankiness, but because, though I don’t think I will be an invalid that will need any attention beyond three meals a day, I really am going to arrive in an invalided state.  There is nothing the matter with me but winter and habits of worry, but I simply live so tired I can hardly wiggle, and I have acquired lately a very middle aged ailment in insomnia, for I stay awake about half of every night for some reason or other.  It doesn’t make me cross next day, honest, but it makes me darned disinclined to exert myself, and this feeling is emphasized by purely nervous heart fatigue and short breath that makes me behave when I have to climb a hill as if I weighed two hundred and eighty anyway.

Now is all this an alarming description of anybody you expect to have in your house?  I think a change of scene and an addition to the company will improve all those apparently physiological symptoms at once, but feel it my DUTY spelt thus, to let you know the worst before it happens.

           Lots of love and good luck and so much gratitude that I would sound mushy if I tried to state it.  Love to Otto.  Evelyn

* * * * *

Next week, Owen ends his relationship with Evelyn.  The heartbreaking correspondence vividly records Evelyn’s total devastation at this and the huge demands she made on her friends as she struggled to come to terms with its inevitability.

 

 

 

 

 

11. Bou Saada (2)

The first three months in the Algerian desert have been difficult for the Scott household as they adjusted to a new and completely foreign culture.  Evelyn’s letters reveal her desperation to see her friends as she pleads with them to visit, and the new year, 1924, begins with worries about money and poor health.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Bou-Saada, Algeria]
January 3 [1924]

Dear DEAR, your letter just five minutes ago, and I shall answer instanta because it happens to be a moment between laps of writing and I like to talk back as your letters come.  Thank God, the Garland fund seems to be some use.  Merton was saved from the pit of destruction and landscape gardening for the time being, though having to pay two life insurance policies and send monthly money to his kids has made it go almost as fast as yours.  The Jewish woman who cooks for us was in a state today with Pyorrhoea and all her teeth falling out and it gave me the hump about what a lack of money does to you.  We all need the dentist some and I swore by my pet gods that any money we ever have over living had to go to dentists first.  You do too, Lola.

I appreciate your writing that letter when your fingers—or FINGER—had been at it all day.  I’m afflicted with a wart on my best type finger—the one I had before I went away—which is like a hoof and hurts so I can’t use it.  When the weather gets warmer I’m going to have an operation.  It came from typing on that one finger to the exclusion of all others and ought to be photographed to advertise good methods for stenographers.

One thing is disappointing.  I do WISH you could come over here for two or three months.  If not now later when we are back in France and the weather warmer.  You wouldn’t be annoyed with company, Lola dear, for I work six hours every day and Sug and Merton are gone all morning and all afternoon until tea at four thirty.  We never see a soul and it would be practically the same in France.  We live very cheaply and five dollars a week would cover any possible expense for you here, really it would.

Well, I ain’t guv the idea up.  Maybe the woman book will be finished and the library superfluous before we get back.

Did I did you that Sug and I are writing a child’s story together?[1]  It is a commercial effort in a sense as we all have no call of inspiration to kids, but I think you will all rather like it.  It is laid in Algeria and I have put, with Sug’s help at translating data, a lot of native customs etc in it, we have an exciting plot and a fantastic element, all the ingredients which Jigeroo approved. it was read out to him for criticism.  Merton is doing some delightful simple drawings for it.

We all love you and if your liver incites you to blue letters why for gods sake write blue letters.  We want most of all to hear from you.  Bless you and your art, Lola, and may the New Year do more for it what it deserves.  Bless your insides and make them behave as they should.  Bless Davy’s health, jobs, and university sources.

And please God, let Lola come to France sometime.
Most, most affectionately from all of us,  Evelyn.

[1]     In The Endless Sands

 * * * * *

To Otto Theis

[February 1924]

Dear Otto:

Don’t attempt to keep up with me, I answer all your letters five minutes after receipt.

This has been a kind of “old home” week, reviving habits and associations of the past.  Merton has a lame back gotten while day labouring, and his back went wrong, and the illustrations for the kid book, because he has never done such before and didn’t know how to make magazine cover pretty faces, nearly drove him wild.  Then we went over money accounts and I discovered that I had used some of the money Merton was going to send his kids in keeping house here (we run the accounts joint), and that we were in his debt (when he ain’t got a cent) and that we didn’t have enough money to go to Paris as Sug had hoped, and Sug had the worst nervous collapse of a day I’ve seen him have in a year—and—we’re still alive and love each other—but Gosh everybody is tired. We all, even me, behave better than we used to, but then moments of weakness ain’t entirely overcome.

Sug is crazy for you to see some of his pictures and so am I.  I hope you will honestly find in Siren some of the things I do, and golly—I hope—you will even see a faint practical chance.

Bou Saada 4 (2)
Bou Saada: The house of Master Dinet [Alamy stock photo]
Sug has suffered a lot lately from severe pains in his bladder and scared me to death, but he recuperates so whenever he does a good picture that I’ve decided that he has no ills but mental ills.  However their consequence may be as dangerous as any other, and Sug’s longevity depends on whether he can put over something, either books or pictures this year.  He is nearly destroyed by taking money from Marie as well as afraid it will be cut off, and the only justification to his pride for doing it will be putting over this work.  As for his going back to work as he talks of at times, he simply couldn’t.  He wouldn’t last a week.  He is acutely neurotic and his heart is worse and worse.  He continues to exhibit demoniacal energy by spurts, and if he has any luck he may begin to live more calmly, otherwise not.  Merton’s being with us which began for me as a doubtful and perhaps selfish experiment, has been entirely justified I think even for Sug, for Merton is sincerely devoted to Sug and admiring of him and appreciative of his qualities and is a perfect angel at helping to remove from Sug’s shoulders practical burdens concerned with the details of living.

I’m a fiend to make money now.  Kid book first commercial job of my life, and we honestly think it is valuable that way.  Jigeroo loves it.  Merton’s pictures go with the book but he wants a flat price and not a high one, they are seven colored drawings and very good and atmospherey of this place, done from Algy models.  If this kid book goes Sug and I will write one every two years.

Letter as usual all about us, but one important item, wither we get as far north as Brittany or not you and Louise M and kids gotta come.

           LOTS OF LOVE evelyn

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

February 24 [1924]

[page 1 missing] We agreed to pay half a gardeners wages to get our winter food supply out of this backyard and all we have had so far has been the violets a bowl of salad and a reddish or two.  And the old gardener, whose wages are two dollars a month, has every day another child die so he wants about two months in advance.  And to show he is worth it he picks me bouquets that are as compact and indestructible as indoor baseballs, and as sedate and defiantly surrounded by prickly foliage as a maiden Victorian with hairpins and frills.  If we could find the Arab secret of subsistence on nothing this place would be ideal for us.

But it isn’t ideal, and we don’t like Arab life a little bit.  It snowed today (Feb 24) though all the fruit trees are in bloom, peaches mostly, and only last week were warm and wonderful little shaggy powder puffs on stems in which blood seemed to run instead of sap, and bees and flies crawled and hummed, and the sky was like a blue rock and there were some little snow-foam of cloud right over the trees and it was like snow in the garden of Paradise.

You will wonder then why we don’t like Arab life.  It is because there is no intensity in it, even of machines, except the depressing intensity of sordid Arab religion?  Even if we can’t be rich I want to see somebody who is.  Never in Bou-Saada have we seen one woman in anything more regal than calico, never one child who wasn’t dirty and out at heels.  Occasionally a man is impressive by the height of his turban and the whiteness of his linen and the gorgeousness of silver embroidery on his velvet jacket.  But you know even he lives in a mud hovel and starves his wife.  We were almost swamped last month by trying on a little meagre charity, but it is another grain of sand in all the sand there is, and I don’t think the people are very unhappy anyway.  They don’t protest or want to.  And this stupid Koran which is going to take them all to heaven and such a dingy heaven anyway.  We think of Romanism as formulated, but that ritual gives much more than this deathly penance of learning parrot wise verse and lines verse and line and droning it morning and night.

Bou Saada 2 (2)
Bou Saada [Delcampe.net]
Today the administration is trying to make a hit with tourists and has arranged a falcon hunt. Lots of stodgy French and English from Alger down and have gone out thirteen kilometres to see the falcons loosed on some poor hares and pigeons.  There is also a dance of the Ouled Nails tonight and if I hadn’t got sick we would have gone. But I think the weather will cook that too as it is in a tent.  You see the Ouled Nails used to be almost like sexual priestesses but now they live in a licensed house of prostitution and are just a lot of mangy bitches as hard as nails and not much more lovely.  A funny thing is that the fact that they are femmes public has not modified certain religious modesties. A Mahomden may sleep with one of the ladies but he may not see her unclothed, nor any women than his wives.

Arabs have this awful puritan license, but it remains puritan for they condemn this world and the flesh and woman as a minister to the flesh.  See a ragged ragged old man, a man of fabulous rags, going by with a ragged dirty woman whose slippers are falling to pieces and held on with string, and she has her face as carefully veiled as if most of her anatomy wasn’t leaking through the rents and wears.  Wish people could see their own conventions in the light of others, but British etc come here, shake their heads, and go back to worship the Virgin Mary and attend balls with ladies nude, so to  speak, on the upper level.

Bou Saada 6 (1)
Bou Saada: Dancing  girls and women [Past-to-Present.com]
Yet Arabs aren’t a bit mystic.  Their God is sensual purely in the sense of external sensational non-subjective.  And their music so crass and terrible, their way of singing like brass—the brass city of Solomon in the story—a brazen external impenetrability.  Only difference from our puritans is that their contempt for this world is perfect and negative and not a living torturing effort at contempt.  And their next world has not such a poetic hell nor such a rapturous and complacent heaven.  Heaven you reach by hard work in reciting Koran and prayers, not passion, just rote.

They are so very mental and so naïve as well—but it is not emotional naivete, and their conventions have the perfection of fixity.  Their shoes which are the only pretty thing the women wear (the few women who wear shoes) of red leather have a touch of green thread a bit of silver embroidery very conventionalized and supplied with a restraint, a mental correctness, which would be westernly impossible to people twice as sophisticate.  The jewelry is fine in only a few cases, but mostly quite crude and heavy, of metalled five franc pieces and really made into jewelry as an easy way to preserve wealth among people who have no banks or closets or drawers or trunks to lock thinks in.  No furniture in their houses, in poor houses nothing at all but a pile of dry grass to sleep in, in rich houses a rug or two and maybe rugs on the wall, a taboret for coffee, brass trays to carry food in, no knives and forks.

Little girls have a nauseating and unpleasant precociousness and a total unintelligence, just a kind of suspicious cunning and no more concentration than rabbits.  They are never, in the country, educated at all, and as most boys learn only the Koran they are as bad.  Last week Merton walked out to a small oasis near here and was accompanied home by the son of the caid who was fifteen and had been married three years, and whom in spite of his distinguished lineage, begged old shoes old clothes penknives anything from Merton.  All children beg.  Even rich people’s children.  It is quite convention for a child to beg.

Our house is opposite the filthy jail and the overnight cell opens on the street twenty feet from my bedroom window.  So funny and so awful the continuous occupants.  First place every morning the French Jew police sergeant goes in to the CELL to pea [sic], there being no toilet in the police station, and comes out arranging his trousers with an entire complacency.  Stink ferocious.  Most Arab men object to being locked up (they are awful thieves and tricksters but have the self-esteem of red Indians, only the women crassly) and they pound and shake the door all night.  Twice recently raids on unlicensed brothels (Tom can tell you of one down on the motor road for he was pursued from there) have filled cells with ladies glittering with tinsel and tinkly with necklaces and bracelets.  When the door is opened I see inside dark shiny unrelated spots as if there were Christmas trees inside.  Then make out a fat woman having a drink of water out of a galvanized scrubbing bucket.  Some of the raided ladies insisted on their respectability and emerged to go to magistrate with their faces fully veiled.

Bou Saada 8
Bou Saada: Native dwelling [Delcampe.net]
Ellen also sent me her address so I imagined you wanted me to write to her, and the mood of response is certainly in me, yet I do make such a mess of new contacts that I feel somehow I ought not to take a risk that might spoil the possibility of a friendship when we meet.  You tell me exactly how you feel, but anyway please let her know that though I should be humanly flattered by a poem to me if it were banal.  I feel a very different and more profound appreciation when the poem is like this to stimulatingly harsh and yet lovely.  You see Lola I suppose if I have an ideal esthetically it is of the combination of the harsh consciousness, harsh because of its definition, emerging from the undefined and carrying with it a kind of intimation of its source that is even more unescapable than the definition.  Her work, to judge from one small specimen is less poignant less matured in consciousness than yours, but it has a good deal of your flavor—only don’t tell her that, for I don’t mean she imitates, only that one reason you like her is natural response and one reason I should undoubtedly like her (IF my judgement is right) is this identity of a quality in her with a quality in you which I consider precious.

CKS Sand Dune
“Sand Dune”: Cyril Kay Scott watercolour  [North Caroline Museum of Art]
Cyril and Merton and me and Jigeroo all love you so very much and so very much want you to be well and to finish the book but not to finish the book until you ARE well.  And our dearest love to Davy, please, and, and, and lots of things I don’t know how to write—

MY EYES FEEL BETTER FOR HAVING WRITTEN THIS
Evelyn.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

March 3, 1924

Dearest Otto;

Gee, you have had a siege from Bou-Saada.  I’ve written Otto about one problem a week, maybe two, for the last month.  And listen, Otto, for Pete’s sake don’t worry about having had to turn the article down.  The reason I haven’t written any since you first asked me last year, is that I knew only too well what would be the result.  You see I can’t write with emotional vividness unless I have an emotional reason for doing it.  When you write a book, you always have a mystic belief that somewhere somebody is going to “understand you”—in other words accept your particular affirmations and denials.  Well, what you write for a journal that has a definite policy you know this wonderful understanding can’t be your object and so you (meaning me) feel cold to start on.  I haven’t any dash at all.  When I try to limit my own explorative function I just diminish my work without being able to make the oratorical bridges in which bunk is scarcely perceptible as bunk in which is the talent of the real journalist.

Bou Saada 2 (1)
Bou Saada [Past-to-Present.com]
What I feel behind your letter and your constant lovely decency to us, is that you are a damn tired man—lots tireder than you admit—and that we do wish vacation times weren’t so far away.  I think what you say about the crowded house is truly a lovely compliment to a finely satisfactory relation, but I don’t care how much you and Louise love each other, London is London and winter and measles and flue are such, and I’m sure you are all in deadly need of a change.  The cottage in Kent will help I know, but you must take that vacation, and damn it we insist, with us.

This seems to have been contradicted by my last letter which I wrote as a climax of a months fret over money.  What we said, or I said, holds good as commonsense, except that it will be probably next to impossible to arrange steamer fares just so, off the bat, so we had as well settle down to leaving in the very late summer or the fall.  In the meantime we are quitting Bou-Saada on the seventh and our address until we get a house will be care Mme Catherine Ramone de l’Homme, Faubourg, Collioure, Pyrenees Orientales, France.

We hope to get a cheap place at Banyuls where there is fine swimming or if not there Arles or Amelie le Bain.  Well let you know at once when we do.

Merton will be in London in May and give us mutual news of each other.  Cyril may get as far as Paris but I am going to stay down south.

Of course as a person I think Cyril has the most titanic personality, the most instinctive profoundness of emotion, the most mental stretch of almost anybody living and it will be to me another proof that utter cynicism is the impossible unattainable answer to life if he does not find any sympathetic channel of expression anywhere.

Of course one of the reasons I was most upset by the news that Seltzer would send me a hundred dollars on March 1st (haven’t gotten it yet, by the way) was the news I had that Escapade was selling.  I’m afraid that the Seltzers are not deliberate crooks but just are in such a hole that I may get nothing at all out of my work.

Now if you and Louise will come to see us we will talk of something beside ourselves.  And we will find a cheap place for you to stay. And I think we will all have a nice time.

Don’t feel my heavy correspondence a burden.  We see nobody at all and it is a relief to talk and I do it on paper but with no idea that a busy man ought to respond in kind.

Now, Otto, I ain’t as dangerous as I seem .  Love to you all.  Jig is in ecstasies over the stamps and will write to you.  I sent an order for the money on the books, thank you just the same for your generosity, and you must tell me what lacked, if anything.

Good luck and blessings, Evelyn

 * * * * *

The next letter in the collection is written from Banyuls in May 1924, after the arrival there of the Scott household. And soon their lives begin to collapse, beginning with Merton being taken to hospital in London, seriously ill.

 

 

 

9. Collioure

In the summer of 1923 the relationship with the Garland-Hales had broken down to the extent that Evelyn, with Cyril and Jig and their new friend Owen Merton, left Bermuda to find warmth and painting opportunities in, they hoped, the cheap and warm climes of southern France. I have not been able to find any letters relating to their leaving Bermuda and their travel arrangements, and so the story resumes when the family are in Collioure, in the foothills of the Pyrenees near Marseille.

Map

Collioure is a medieval fishing port, the harbour dominated by the church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges with its distinctive bell tower at the water’s edge. In the early 1920s the town nestled by this church and the Villa Tine, where the family lived, would have been in one of the narrow medieval streets surrounding the church. The soft Mediterranean light, the medieval architecture and the stark countryside were attractive to painters of the day, and in the 1920s the town was host to Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and André Derain, among others.

The letters that follow illustrate Evelyn’s ability to evoke, with few words, the colours and smells of her surroundings. Her opinion of those with whom she travelled with are also made explicit. We begin today’s collection with her description of their stopover in Naples, en route to France and written after their arrival in Collioure.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

Villa Tine, Collioure, France
July 7, 1923

Precious Lola:

I want to make note of what has happened and I do it in letters to me friends.  Is that a cheap economy of invention?  I know you want to hear and I simply can’t write it twice.

We were docked at Naples at eight o’clock and I was too lazy to witness the approach.  What I saw when I came on deck was a hot hill of houses with the Castle of Saint Elmo resting rather bleakly on the top of it, and on the other side only a large dim outline of a Vesuvius which the fog had almost obliterated.  There was a great stir of people landing.  Out of about two hundred second class passengers all but fifteen got off here, and Italian ladies who had luxuriated in soiled matinees for the past fifteen days appeared suddenly in evening dress, the scent of garlic more piquant for the usual perfume of the bottle which accompanied it.  Merton had horrible recollections of Naples where he had sunstroke and was often robbed and he awakened in a high key of antagonism which later precipitated itself.

Ellen1 loves the Italians and you can imagine how that irritated him.  Especially when the ship began to be overrun with dark shoddily neat gentlemen who would take us all to Pompeii for the day almost for the pleasure of doing it.  Lola, never let any brave man mention in my presence again the materialism of my native land.  At least we do our thieving in the grand manner.  Naples had an atmosphere of meagre financial desperateness.  It isn’t the war at all, but these are people who are temperamentally incapable of industry and initiative who are caught in the struggle and can’t get out of it.  They are like women who have led easy lives, whose soft bodies can not compete and yet they must compete.  They must get money somehow in the domesticated wildness of alley cats where they exist.

We had no sooner set our feet on the glaring dock to which we were drawn up when more hungry creatures offered their services, their carriages, their bought advice with a kind of illicit hungriness.  We did get a carriage and Ellen, who speaks Italian well, was scheduled to pilot us.  We wanted first to see the meanest streets.  But driver took us wherever he would—many halts, Ellen rising converses with him volubly.  He is agreeable, he wants to take us the longest way—and after the greatest moral exertion we go where we want to and come out right.  Merton’s eyes ache.  He exhibits an evasive tensity.  When the driver asks him if he likes Naples he replies baldly that he hates its stinks.  The driver looks unabashed and yet abashed.  He is agreeable.  We must be pleased.  He is like a kindly whore who is accustomed to being beat, who steals a little from the gentleman’s pockets and is ashamed of it.

Such streets, Lola.  Palermo had the same narrowness, the same tortureness, but its filth was new and bright and unsubdued.  Old Naples was a decayed body—sharp and strong with people living in it as in maggoty meat—people that ran in and out of dark windowless holes that were meat stalls and butcher shops.  In every shop a shrine like a kind of ikon with an electric bulb glaring stodgily in front of it.  Such meat shops—harsh pieces of red flesh, dingy tiles, crusts of flies, and always always, visible in the shallow depths as we stared in from the carriage, the worn picture of the saint on the wall above the counter at the back.  Such cadaverous women, such anemic children, such an absence of any joy in light or life—nothing anywhere but a rich and crowded hideousness.  There were shrines on the outsides of houses too, shrines that were dingy and fly specked, and beneath them also burned and electric light.  The vegetables exposed were sold and old and there was charcoal dust.  Some of the streets like the ones I remember in Lisbon climbed endless stairs with the banners of laundered clothes rising tier on tier till they waved at last in the merciless light.  Palermo reminded me of Rio de Janeiro on a smaller scale.  It was young.  Naples was used as I never saw a city used before.  There was not a fresh face, not a fresh house front–nothing that had not come to the end of itself and sprouted again like a tree that is half felled but struggles yet to a little harsh growth.  The stinks I had anticipated I didn’t find in actuality.  It was a visual aroma that I mostly get—black olives, wine jugs, basket makers, chair weavers, cobblers, smithies, wood sellers, all crowded in one street—court yards that had the faint illumination of decay-and people, people in rooms the depth of a wall, people who were crowded helplessly into the street while those in Palermo willingly lived in it.

The fine gardens and drive along the sea are a slightly less impressive counterpart of Rio since the mountains behind the city are further back.  There the same bald elegance of expensive passions.  We went to a restaurant on the waters edge where we could look directly at Vesuvius which had emerged from its pseudo mystery and looked fine but rather obvious with houses clustering at its gradual feet.  Maybe I had seen it too often on the walls on Italian restaurants but it was so exactly what I had anticipated that its actuality did not affect me until that evening when the ship was going out.

The restaurant had a wide veranda and an empty unluxurious appearance but we were very well served with some breaded cutlets, salad, and a kind of short cake with cherries in the middle of it, black bitter cherries that had been steeped in wine so that their acridness was subtilized.  The wine was bad here and in Palermo it was excellent.  We disgraced ourselves by misunderstanding a charge for services and not leaving any tips.  Our vanity was darkened for the day when we discovered it.  By this time Merton and Ellen had already disagreed as to Italian charmingness.

I was reckless enough to ask to go to the toilet and a small boy who could speak English escorted me up a torturous spiral staircase above the bar and stood politely outside the Johnny door until I could be admitted.  He waved his hands gallantly toward it as the last occupant came out.  Such a toilet.  A darkness almost complete but animate with smells, a toilet more used than Naples herself and uncleansed by the rains of heaven, a toilet without a chain to pull and with every evidence that the chain had not been pulled that week.

We had another ride in a taxi out the sea way, another past some fine old palaces, and another through some rich and substantial looking squares and business streets.  There were huge arcades with rich shops, but the prices were very cheap.  How I would have loved to buy presents for all of us.  Silk was next to nothing.  The dust and heat were terrible.  The taxi drivers quarrelled with each other.  We were continually being spotted as tourists and asked to see Pompeii.  There were beggars on the streets.  By the water we were besieged with proffers of boats.  There is nothing in Naples that can not be bought.  Nothing that isn’t trying to see itself.

1Ellen Kennan was a friend of both Evelyn and Cyril; she had been Cyril’s lover during the early 1920s.  She was travelling with the Scotts to France.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

Collioure, France
July 9, 1923

Beloved Otto:

I had your letter a couple of days ago. . .The second class of the Patria was horrible, we almost died of starch poisoning and the general literal putrefication of the grub.  Jig had croup and I had a bass cough and a sore chest, and the passengers, Italians going home and a few rotten Americans were the very worst.  No lounge only a smoking room very dirty with dirty people and indigestibable babies and gentlemen who could spit farther and louder—much louder—than a southern Colonel in a Bret Harte story.  No permanent deck spaces, herding on and off decks partially possessed by the first class.  We rented five steamer chairs and spent most of the time looking for them and removing them from Italians who had escaped the property sense except as it related to the belongings of other folks.

However we did have two whole days in brilliant sunshine running a moving picture distance from Moorish castles and Algerian villages on one side, and the slow fatigued landscape of burnt Spain opposite.  Also the Azores, very kind hills and funny zig zag cultivation like an infantile insanity.  Dutch windmills very calm in the midst of it.  Also a day at Palermo which is like Brazil, gaudy, ennuied, and ingenuous.  Sicilians seem to like bright irrelevant things, wonderful gay sweetmeats, marvelously naïve carts, a new looking city and very old alive hills burning above it.  A day in Naples where, thank God, most of the passengers got off, a rapacious Naples rich with filth, and dingier in its richness that I knew a Southern city could be.  Everybody wanted to sell something, services, information, taxi cabs, and Pompeii was hawked about like a Coney Island commodity.  It did look beautiful though when we were leaving it.  Sorrento and Capri were all brittle houses small and white in a kind of winey light, Vesuvius immensely still, and a very dramatic sunset where the sun stood over the water in a huge sphere that had detached itself from the sky and seemed to float.

Marseille was stupe, very bourgeois and middleaged, very commercially cosmopolitan in the population of the streets.  The lots of plane trees looked strong and composed and heartily green and there was a quiet color in flower markets and zouave soldiers, but I didn’t feel in it any France more subtle than the naturalists.1

We had a wild trip to Port Vendres with one parrot and twenty three pieces of small baggage and three unexpected changes of train en route.  Port Vendres is one street around a well in port and the ships from Algeria dock under the hotel windows.  The Pyrenees are heavy and close above the stodgy houses.  There were some sailing ships that on moonlight nights were a labyrinth of stiff frost white ropes against a deep space of dark-lit sky, strangely intimate and close to us.  They had sour smelling cargoes that were loaded, unloaded and mysteriously loaded again while we were there (the same black beans sold, docked, resold and returned to the hold to be taken to Barcelona) by strong looking girls and lean strong old women who swung sacks with a rhythmical easiness.  We couldn’t find a house to rent and as our money was being eaten up in the hotel we came over here to Collioure and took the only place available, still much dearer than we had meant to pay for it.

The Villa Tine is a miracle of perfection, an ugliness that is above reproach.  But it is comfortable, has a charming garden in front and back garden of orange and magnolia and is five minutes walk from a swimming place.  Also, if you don’t mind slight inconveniences, it has room enough to put you and Sophie up.  Ellen Kennan is here with us till about the end of the month and after that we will have a room free.

Collioure old town
Modern photo of Collioure old town

We have a sternly shy maid who cooks very bearably though she isn’t the miracle of efficiency tradition had led me to expect and doesn’t do much else.  Merton manages the housekeeping and I clean up.  If we weren’t always nervous about money we could settle down to a wonderful year.  Merton only has a few hundred dollars and a month was wasted before we even got here (eighteen days on ship, three in Marseille, one traveling, a week in Port Vendres, and two or three days of getting settled in this place).  He is a remarkable water colorist Otto.  He has wasted six years doing manual labor, gardening, digging, anything, until his wife died last year and left him with two kids, who, fortunately are with their grandparents for the time.  We hoped Marie would do something for him, but alas she has the bug that labor in the soil is holy and that he needs it to purify his art.  He is pretty blue about the prospect of having to go back.  When you come down I want you to see his stuff and I have wondered if you knew anyone in London who had any money and would be likely to be interested in it.  He had a show at the Daniels gallery just before we left but it netted him only about a hundred and fifty dollars and he only got as much more from a little private thing we arranged at Marie’s Washington Mews place.  Except him and Marie and Charlie Demuth there aren’t any and they are older men who have gotten a certain influence through Steiglitz while he as a foreigner is just breaking in.

 Escapade was held up because I had to make cuts.  This was sprung on me when it was in page proof.  I spent four days more or less with a fool lawyer-was told it was a borderline book, a plea for free love, and would be considered a menace to American institutions.  I was made to cut out all statements that I was proud of my relation to Cyril, that I didn’t want to marry, in fact every positive assertion of my belief in my own decency.  Also all physical statements about sex and maternity.  An unmarried mother, so the lawyer told me, can’t be allowed to nurse her child.  He said I made myself “too attractive in bed” (mind you I was convalescing from Jigeroo and had him in bed with me but I had to cut that out).  I was sick.  I never would have done it but that Cyril advised me to because the Seltzers have my other book and if I break this contract they can break that, because there are no other publishers left, because they had Cyril’s wonderful Siren though I doubt now if they will publish it.  I never remember being so sickly humiliated, so futile rebellious, so utterly robbed of the kind of pride that supports you against the world.  I left New York feeling as thoroughly licked as I ever did.  And yet I know the book wasn’t ruined.  It is the personal element in the demands for exclusion to which it nearly killed me to submit.  I am grateful of the space between me and Puritan hideousness and in my present mood have a long tired ennui of attempting to put other things.  Of course I shall get over it.  If only we can afford to stay here long enough.

The nightmare atmosphere culminated in watching a blackmail trial for prostitution in which the woman was convicted because she was really too scared to risk the fight that it made me want to put up when I listened to it.

Well, about Collioure.  It is on the Midi railway and is about an hour from Perpignan.  It is very filthy and very beautiful.  It is very near the Spanish border, about seventy-five miles from Barcelona.  The Pyrenees have a luxurious severity like the richness of ecclesiastical voluptuousness.  The bathing is good.  The town is without a WC (our house has one thank god) and there are amorous cats in the streets by the hundreds.  There is a fort full of Senegalese.  Matisse and some of the pointillists painted here.  It is worth seeing and we WANT to see you.  I don’t know how you would come from Paris but we took the Paris express at Marseilles, then changed at Contrast, at Cette, and at Narbonne.  Expresses stop at Port Vendres for the Algerian boats and you could go to Port Vendres and drive about a mile over here or else take a slow train that stops at Collioure.  Everybody knows the Villa Tine and already the Anglaise that live in it.

Love to you both.  Evelyn

1The group disembarked at Marseille and travelled by train to Collioure, stopping en route at Porte Vendre.

* * * * *

To Otto Theis

Collioure, France
August 15, 1923

Dearest Otto:

This is the poorest saddest little town but very stark and lovely too.  The heat has dried up half the grapes and the fires on the mountains have burnt the cork trees and it just is rich massive flowing lava-like sterility, burnt colors with thick dry shadows in the high hollows and moorish watch towers very bleak on the bleakest heights.  I hasn’t rained for two months.  To recover me from the fatugure of the book we went to Arles Sur Teche for three days.  The scenery is absolutely different though only an hour and a half away—mountains covered with greenery that looks young and full like spring and torrents of mountains water rushing to fountains in the streets.  All night in the quiet you hear the think cool rush of water going past.  The teche is like an Alpine torrent Sug says, white round boulders and cataracts.  But it is really a less individualized place than this.

Escapade is out but I’m not reading reviews of it until I finish my book.1  If it does sell it will be—oh, irony—for scandal’s sake anyway.  Wonderful to write with religious solemnity of the most actual thing that ever occurred to you and only repeat the success of a sunday headline in it.  I have had no copy yet but will mail you one when I do.  The astericks indicate omissions and I imagine look queer but I wanted it to be known that the book was mutilated.  Mr Seltzer2 is indicted by the grand jury on last summers charge.  I may be next.  God knows I don’t believe in freedom as hesitant here more than there Otto.  The French are a niggling lot of commercialists and the Americans at least do it in the grand manner.  There is nothing but solitude and a few friends.  Today is a fete day and Jigeroo has gone with two kids unknown to ride on the merry go round.  He is learning French anyway—much more than I am.  Merton keeps house and I simply don’t speak.  Sug is a wonderful and lovely person—the most I ever knew or ever will know—and Merton with a much more limited sweep as he knows himself is absolutely genuine and sensitive and kind thank heaven.  Life is complicated but compensating mostly.  Money of course still annoys.  With Escapade at three dollars I may make something.  Marie didn’t make the allowance permanent after all.

Our very very most love to you and do come here.  We have to get a new place before October but I think it will be in this district.  We would always have room for you.

Evelyn

The Golden Door, published 1925
Thomas Seltzer was a Russian émigré who became a successful translator and academic. In 1919 he founded the publishing house, Thomas Seltzer Inc, which not only published Escapade but also works by D H Lawrence. These works brought him to the attention of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and led to charges of publishing “unclean” books, which he fought vigorously: the legal battle resulted in his bankruptcy.

* * * * *

To Lola Ridge

[Collioure, France]
[September 1923]

Darling dear, I tried to write this yesterday when I was out painting with Merton and had to quit because it was giving me a pain to sit in a squidged up position on the hard earth.  I wish I could have stayed because I was looking at a funny caravan drawn up below us, a blue caravan with nice little Nottingham curtains very clean in the window and, now that they had unhitched their horse and settled down, two little canary bird cages hung on either side of the front door with little birds singing very at home on them.  Through the open door I saw inside a wonderful dresser with dishes hung in racks and three bunk beds one under the other covered with red spreads and lace coverlids, as clean and cute as anything.  A big woman with blond hair and a red face was watering the donkey that belonged to the outfit and another old woman very shriveled and hearty looking was making a fire.  If I had sat there longer I could have told you a whole story about them, but as it was I only learned that they came from Normandy.  I don’t know for why or what.

collioure harbour
Collioure harbour [AKPool.co.uk]

There was a fete here two weeks ago and the fishing boats were decorated with paper lanterns and the harbour very lovely in the vague night with floating flat-radiance of the candles.  We thought about Broadway and how this childish illumination in one key has such a naïve timidity while that other childish illumination is so wonderful bold and varied to such violence.  For some funny reason I never thought about America as America, a unit, a country with people in it, not people in a country, as I have since we came here.  I suppose I had no sense of America when I left New Orleans and this is really the first time I have felt absolutely removed from it since I felt New York for Bermuda was too close.  It is voluptuous like an old ladys memories.  I used to feel that way about Brazil but didn’t know it would come so quickly about this.  I don’t think I ever knew there was a racial America before.  Lower Broadway with a lost gull I once saw fling over it has become as symbolic as the mountains we saw along the African coast.  I suppose this is the first time I ever indulged romanticism about my native land.  Anyway the more I see of other countries, or this one other countries, the more magnificently awful my own country appears to be.  Not in any way that makes me want to go back.  I don’t want to go back for a long long time, not until I get all I can out of this distant appreciation.Cyril and Merton have done marvels in paint.  Merton’s best work and Cyril away ahead of Bermuda as good as that was.  Merton says Cyril’s painting has a stark profundity and I think it a wonderfully exact phrase for it.  Yes, Lola, we are having a good life now, and when I feel physically well I am awfully happy (when Sug is well, for a times all three of us have been sick).  Merton has a weak back he got while day laboring and sometimes when he lifts too many things it upsets him.

What you write about Escapade cheers me, but I don’t want reviews and I think I am wise.  It, or they makes you want to hit back to decent yourself and I don’t want to be stirred by them while I am in the new book.  But I liked the little clipping and thought it a very sweet generosity from somebody I don’t know, and I will be obliged if you will keep any clippings that you get.

I have finished the first draft of the new novel and am half way through the second, or perhaps a third through.  It is certainly a culmination of all other experiments in technique I have made and I believe embraces a lot more.  I think I am at least learning how to use analytic and emotional qualities in a real synthesis.  I hope you think so.  don’t tell anybody (especially Waldo, ha, ha, secrecy).  I learned something from reading Sug’s Siren and instead of waiting for critics to find out indebtednesses I haven’t got am going to acknowledge it in my introduction.  I do think you will like the book.  It is about Merton and his wife (that is really confidential), and what I had of her character from reading old letters and talking it over with him.  I take them through their experience here and then in the United States.  After that I don’t know what.  I would like to write really of this place but that will come later when I am intimate with it.

The French people are the most quintessence of individualism.  The way they do stand back and allow murder and anything else and never interfere with it.  Superficially they are the rudest people, or rather fundamentally for it is their real indifference, I ever saw.  Might know a popular fallacy would be undone once you looked at it.  They butt through crowds, knock you over, never apologise, stare unmercifully at any woman they don’t know, and never do the least curtesy for anybody except purely formally for very definite effect.  On the other hand their leaving you alone has its advantages.  This town is miserably poor and now at the end of summer is haunted by devastated artists who are going to get one picture in the salon before they die or die at once of a starch diet.  Some wear Pilgrim Father hair and blue coats, some fence with their palettes, as Sug says, and some trudge to painting armed like Tartarin on his hunting expedition with a meek little wife and three daughters to assist.  You never saw so many awful pictures as are being painted in Collioure at the present moment.  We like it though and are in great distress because we have not yet found a house to move to when we give up this.  The town is so old and so crowded that there is not but one garden beside ours and ours is THE ONLY HOUSE THAT HAS ANY SORT OF A WC IN IT.  Every morning ladies going to market carrying on the left arm the china slop pail with the offering to the all consuming sea in it.  Gentlemen trouble themselves less and merely squat.  God help me, I shall return to America and light an ikon in the bathroom.  The smell of merde is on the breath of the sea and is almost everywhere that a female in a clean dress would like to sit.  (I didn’t put an h in it Lola, excuse my vulgarity.)

collioure 1927 martin hurliman print
Collioure c 1927 [Martin Hurliman print]

Just the same I wish you could see now in the rain le Chateau2 with a wall like a mountain out of the sea and a fig tree dripping in a cranny of it quite high up.  The town is crooked streets that at night are dramatic and abrupt, very badly lit, and old woman in black resting in a crooked doorway, a black cat (there are lots of cats and lots of rats) slinking past her, and a man with a red sash around his waist carrying a sack of charcoal up up into the darkness where a blood and thunder cut throat ought to be hid for some better loot.  The Pyrenees really begin here and they are the saddest most austere mountains I ever saw, burnt colored and grassy bleak, with some rocky peaks far off, the peak of the Canigo which is really a very high mountain, just visible sometimes when there is no mist.  Over toward Argelesse it begins to flatten and there is that variegated landscape the French make because of cultivating so many things in such small space, vines and olives and little garden plots diminutive in a large plain with a ribbon of blue haze making it perpetually remote like a veiled picture with the sun on it.Please write to me again and say how you and Davy are, and remember we love you both and THINK of you and TALK of you just about every single day, all three of us, and I do hope you are not ill now and are getting on with the book.  Remember anytime you want to be our household you are wanted above everybody and Lola it would be so wonderful if you can come over because living here though not as cheap as we had hoped is better than New York and easier on the nerves (provided you aren’t directly in the upset labor market here).  Very big hugs and kisses and love to you and to Davy, and darling I wish I had some pet deity to pray to that you would NOT be sick.  Let us know how the book gets on.

Evelyn

Thomas Seltzer was a Russian émigré who became a successful translator and academic. In 1919 he founded the publishing house, Thomas Seltzer Inc, which not only published Escapade but also works by D H Lawrence. These works brought him to the attention of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and led to charges of publishing “unclean” books, which he fought vigorously: the legal battle resulted in bankruptcy.

 town of Collioure nestles around a mound surmounted by a Crusader castle.

* * * * *

This is the last of the letters from Coullioure. A month later the family and Merton were in Algeria, where the story resumes next week.

 

6. Escapade . . . and a child is born

In 1956 Elsie prepared a lengthy account of her early life, to be given to her son on her death, and I have used this as the foundation for this account of her early years.  Last week I shared with you photos,  including images of her mother Maude Thomas Dunn and her father Seely Dunn, from the album her mother kept during her babyhood which I hope helped you to visualise, literally, where Elsie Dunn came from,.

We have been introduced to Dr Frederick Creighton Wellman, the dashing older, twice-married friend of her father’s who was about to travel to Brazil and who wished not to travel alone.  His wife in Kansas had refused to accompany him, and young Elsie was passionate and more than willing to escape from what she found the stultifying atmosphere of conventional Southern society.  What follows is her description of the start of their adventure which she later wrote about in her autobiographical novel Escapade.

I have not found any letters from their years in Brazil. Evelyn did, however provide a lengthy, if slightly fictionalised, account of those years in her autobiographical novel, Escapade.    This work, published in 1923 and still in print, was a literary sensation, attracting opprobrium and praise in equal measure—but more on that later.  Similarly, Cyril wrote extensively of his time in Brazil in his autobiography, Life Is Too Short.

[NB:  Escapade is easily available via Amazon or AbeBooks, and a translation by Graca Salgado into Portuguese will be published later this year by Versal Publishing in Rio de Janeiro.  Life Is Too Short (Lippincott, 1943) is now out of print and copies are difficult to fnd.  If a copy can be found it is an engaging account of Cyril’s six careers prior to its publication.]

We now take up Elsie’s account.

* * * * *

Dr Wellman and myself left New Orleans on December 26th, 1913.  But we did not leave together.  I told my parents I would like to spend the Christmas holidays at Pass Christian, where I had spent two summers with the maiden ladies, the Misses Sutter, aunts of the late Fanny Heaslip Lea[1], Mrs Agee, the magazine writer.  Heart-strings were torn on my side, too, when I said goodbye to my mother.  My father took me to the train and bought my ticket to Pass Christian.  Dr Wellman—knowing he would be struck from the medical register, as he was, though, later, he was professionally forgiven in several quarters—had taken an earlier train to Gulfport.  He boarded my train there, and we both alighted at Pass Christian, and took a streetcar to Biloxi.  From Biloxi we went to Mobile, and at Mobile we spent the night, I as literally virginal as ever, and having bought my own ticket, though I had just the money needed for a vacation and the Boston Club dues handed over to me by Dr Wellman.

At Mobile we bought tickets for New York, via Washington, DC.  All went well as to our arrangements, but one of the Tulane professors, we discovered, at Washington, had been on the train.  We changed at Washington, and as we alighted on the platform, we encountered him and I was introduced as Miss Foster, a friend.

We went to New York and were in New York several days; at first at a hotel I think I have since identified as the Prince George, but before we sailed, as we had to begin to count our money, at a rooming-house somewhere in the forties.  I wrote to my parents from New York City, telling them what we were doing but saying I could not give our destination as yet, though I would write again soon.  We called on my childhood friend, Ruth Whitfield, of  Clarksville, Tenn and New Orleans; who was then at a Catholic boarding-house for office-workers on 14th St.  She was called to the telephone as we sat in the parlour, and when she returned to us, said she had talked to my father, but had not said we were there and we had just asked her to say nothing until we were aboard our steamer.

I discovered, later, that the second Mrs Wellman had found out that I, too, was not to be located, when a young doctor who was working on mosquitoes under Dr Wellman and who was one of her friends and sometimes took her out, had phoned me at my home to ask whether he could take me to a Christmas dance; my mother had said I was at the Sutters’ in Pass Christian; he had phoned Pass Christian and put the Sutters in a flutter.  They had phoned my parents.  By that time, Edna Willis, as she was at first, had read Dr Wellman’s letter, and had decided for herself—as far as we know—that we had eloped.  She first insulted my distracted mother by phone, by insulting me; then called in the newspapers.[2]  Of the newspaper scandal we knew nothing until we reached Brazil.  My grandfather, temperate by nature, and with unusual poise of manner, went to the editor of one of them to try by every means to put a stop to sensation that was entirely libel except in respect to the elopement itself.

Dr Wellman and I had not yet decided what name to take, though we had discussed the inadvisability of travelling under the names ours hitherto, and I had definitely decided to drop Elsie and become Evelyn, not merely for practical reasons, but because I had a strong dislike of my baptismal name.  At the steam-ship office we asked first for tickets to Rio, direct, but there was no boat sailing for sometime; and we were offered, as a bargain, tickets to Southampton, a stay of seven or eight weeks in England, and the tickets from Southampton to Rio as one fare; and as Dr Wellman was fond of England, was a graduate of London University’s College of Tropical Diseases and Preventitive [sic] Medicine—he had gone there when fully trained medically in the USA—and was indebted to Sir Patrick Manson for his appointment as medical director or supervisor for the Portuguese Crown when laying out the first railway in Loanda[3], he was eager to show me London, and there we went first, en route to Brazil.  This was January 1914.

No Passports were required in January 1914 either for England or Brazil.  We sailed for Southampton from Hoboken—where my father was to be stationed when in the US Army in the war—on the President Grant, of the Hamburg American Line.  We had called ourselves, for a few days, in New York, Mr and Mrs Watt; but we did not like this impromptu name, and when the steamer-tickets were being signed for in New York, Dr Wellman was drawn aside by me with the plea not to be Mr and Mrs Watt any longer.  I suggested Scott as better.  Cyril came as a matter of association, though we did not consciously remember Cyril Scott the composer until it was too late to retract.  The Kay was inserted then by Cyril Kay Scott himself, for ever after our afternoon of decision in Audubon Park, I had called him Kay, after the Kay of Hans Anderson’s Snow Queen.

The President Grant was more than half empty; such passengers as there were beside ourselves, mostly German.  It impressed me deeply with the sting of bitter winds, salty rails, etc; for it was my first crossing.  But the deck-space was ample, though we were second-class.  Plymouth, or rather the Cornish coast, offered me my first view of surf, as there is no surf on the Gulf Coast.  My first glimpse of London was of Trafalgar Square in rain, as Cyril Kay Scott and Evelyn Dunn Scott emerged from the tube in coming from the station, where we left our baggage for collection.  We found a bed-sitting-room in Torrington Square, not far from the boarding-house in which Cyril, before his change of name, had resided for a time with his first wife and their son, Paul I Wellman, the novelist, near the College of Tropical and Preventitive Medicine and the British Museum.

We began to sign our names as above in New York City and have continued to do so ever since.  My twenty-first birthday was celebrated in mid-ocean; and on ship-board we discussed alternately possible marriage should the second-wife divorce her husband, or, if she refused to for some interminable time in spite, whether or not we could defend our relationship with a Common Law Marriage in Brazil.  We were resolved on a life-long association as we were, whether we were approved of or not, and were then of half a mind—indeed it was taken for granted at first—that we would never return from Brazil to those who had no sense of real values.

In London, we went to Richmond Park and Cyril Kay Scott carved the initials CKS and EDS intertwined within a heart on a tree that may yet be standing.  We went to Kew Gardens and on some pretext asked for the catalogue of their botanical specimens, and I read with much pride the listing of several Wellmanii.  I had read in New Orleans as much as I could of some two hundred medical and botanical monographs by Fredrick Creighton Wellman.

In London, we went to Covent Garden to hear Tristan and Isolde and Siegfried.  We saw Granville Barker’s production of The Wild Duck and of The Death of Tintaigille—spelling seems correct!  We ate at very cheap places, and I never had enough, nor did Cyril Kay Scott probably, though he never said so, in various languages.

It was plain to me that his disassociation from his children had been the most painful aspect of his life; and to myself—no doubt “Freudianly”—as a reader of Shaw, Russell and Ellen Key, that justified continuing to take the attitude of the married even as to children; and Creighton’s—registered first Seely, after my father—Seely Scott—at the American Consulate in Recife, when an infant—Creighton’s birth, October 25th, 1914, in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, followed naturally.  We ourselves were very happy in our relationship of that time.  I dare to speak for Cyril Kay Scott, for his attitude throughout to me was perfect.

We sailed from Southampton for Rio, on the Blucher, of the Hamburg American Line, sometime in March.  We had as yet no presage of the approaching war that was to intern this ship but the Germans aboard, unlike the amiable Germans of the President Grant, were an aggressive and unpleasant lot.  There were heavy storms, one in the Bay of Biscay, went over the bridge in great waves.  I saw Lisbon on a day at shore, even then more the old Lisbon Dr Fredrick Creighton Wellman had known when working for the Portuguese Crown and presented with a decoration—the Order of Jesus, I think it was called, by Queen Amalie, than the Lisbon seen later by my son and his, myself and my present husband William John Metcalfe, when we were travelling together years afterward.

Cyril Kay Scott and myself arrived in Rio with no arrangements for our livelihood beyond one with Janson, the naturalist, behind the British Museum—or in front of it—who had agreed to handle insect specimens for us if we were able to obtain those in demand.  Our arrival in Rio, in hot weather, in the season of the temperate zone’s spring, is alluded to, and described in part in my Escapade.

Cyril Kay Scott went at once to the American Embassy Consulate and we registered there as Cyril Kay Scott and Evelyn D Scott.  We had been told of names changed by documented usage in the USA, and of Common Law Marriages established by consistent agreement between the man and woman to their status as that of man and wife in Common Law.  But we were not well-informed as yet and merely did what seemed to us logical in view of our resolve to remain united, and to exact from others respect for our status.

* * * * *

[NB:  I have researched common-law marriages and have not been able to find any reference to their having legal status at that time in any of the jurisdictions that might have applied to Evelyn and Cyril:  Louisiana, Tennessee, Kansas or Brazil.  Nevertheless, it was widely believed that these relationships had legal validity, and Evelyn clearly believed it to be so.]

The end-papers of Life Is Too Short comprise maps showing Cyril’s travels around Africa (before he took up his post at Tulane University) and South America.  This map of his South American travels may be helpful in following the narrative of their 5 years in Brazil.

More images0002

We were in Brazil from the spring of 1914, to August 1919.  I think our landing was in April, but it may have been May 1st.  We of course signed everything that required signing by the names which were legally becoming ours.  Cyril Kay Scott, for instance, was bonded by the Singer Sewing Machine Company, when he went to work for them as an unknown new employee, first a bookkeeper, then travelling auditor.  He was with them over two years.  In Escapade I tried to telescope events to preserve a story form.  Time intervals in it are possibly less exact than here, though the facts in it were actually the facts, and when the war broke we began to be troubled indeed by the fact that we were there without Passports and that the time-period we had gathered to be essential in American Law both for changes of name and Common Law Marriages was possibly far from sufficient yet.

I wrote to my parents from London three or four times, but it was not until my mother was invited by myself and Cyril Kay Scott to visit us in Natal and see Creighton—Seely as yet but Creighton added when we returned to the USA in 1919—that we had the full account of what my parents and grandparents had been put through in persecution and horror; reporters besieging them, and when they would not be interviewed, inventing lies defamatory to our characters.

* * * * *

Evelyn was pregnant when they arrived in Brazil.  The couple had very little money and they lived first in a poor district of Natal, to the north of Rio.  Evelyn sketched their home in the “baby book” she kept of their child’s first year: vivid evidence of their straitened circumstances.

Baby book

 

The birth of their child was difficult and left Evelyn with gynaecological problems which troubled her for the rest of her life.  The baby boy, however, was healthy.  He was named Creighton (after Cyril’s original middle name) Seely (after Evelyn’s father) Scott.  The baby was soon known as “Jigg”: as a baby he played in the garden of their home with the family’s maid-of-all-work/nursemaid, Stephania, and became infested with a locally common insect. chigger.  From this he acquired the nickname “Chiggeroo”, often shorted to “Jigg”, and he was known as Jigg for the rest of his life.

Jigg aged 2.JPG

My mother landed in Brazil at Recife, Cyril Kay Scott had gone there from Natal to meet her, and it was then, when she, too, registered herself—Mrs Seely Dunn of New Orleans—that the birth of our son was registered.

Before proceeding North from Rio for the Singer Company, we had rented a room for a few weeks at the home, in Cascadura, of two American Vice-Consuls, Mr Heubner and Mr Momsen, and as they were decent agreeable young men, it was the suppressed private wish of us both to be frank—but of course at that stage we did not dare trust to comprehension, though we may have had some later.

When I did not recover from the aftermath of my son’s birth, I went with my first husband, to the Presbyterian Mission Hospital in the interior of Pernambuco for a needed repair operation, and was operated on by the Mission Head, Dr Butler, who had come there from South Carolina, and was a student of the Mayos.  We were, again, of course, Mr and Mrs Cyril Kay Scott; and our names so registered and sometimes signed by both must have been scattered over all the North of Brazil between Rio and Natal.  As for Cyril Kay Scott himself, he was constantly engaged in work that required his signature.  When, even after being operated on, my health remained bad, and he decided to resign from Singer employment and invest in a ranch he had heard of in the interior of Bahia, about a hundred miles from Minas Geraes, he, so that he could be with me and Creighton all the time, he had the thousand acres of Government land we eventually acquired to the extent of having it surveyed and paying something down, registered as his in the name of Cyril Kay Scott.

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Cercadinho was about 6 miles from the town of Lamarao, in the heart of Bahia province to the southwest of Rio.  The area was isolated, rural, and poor, as illustrated by this undated photo of the railway station.  Both Evelyn and Cyril describe it in their respective books, and Jigg later referred to it as “a healed volcanic pustule, the ridge walling it around notched where a river drained weepings from the surrounding bluffs plushy with hanging forest”.  The enterprise was not a success, and the family endured increasing poverty as their crops failed and the livestock died from lack of food.

Lamarao station.JPG

When the ranch life proved too precarious a livelihood for a man with a semi-invalid wife, a child and a mother-in-law to support–for my mother never went back, or rather did not until we did, return to the USA—Cyril Kay Scott obtained employment with the E J Lavino Company, owners of manganese and copper mines in Brazil, who had opened an office at Villa Nova da Rainha; a town about thirty-five miles from the ranch; and there, again, he was Cyril Kay Scott, and re-affirmed his change of name with every business signature.

He was first employed as an office assistant by Mr William Staver, who directed the mining of Lavino in that part of Brazil.  Mr Staver, already dissatisfied, but liking Mr Scott and finding him unusually competent—though he was just beginning to learn the ins and outs of mining—resigned after less than a year and recommended Cyril Kay Scott as his successor.  Cyril Kay Scott was, in due course, promoted to an office in Sao Salvador, Bahia’s chief and coastal city, and had charge of all the manganese mined by E J Lavino, which, either just before, or just after this promotion, merged with W R Grace and became the International Ore Corporation.  As their representative, his signature of Cyril Kay Scott must have become well-known, not only in Bahia and Rio, but in the USA, as manganese mining was an asset in winning the 1914-18 war.

From the ranch, Cercadinho—a very beautiful place—I had written to Miss Jane Addams,[4] whom I had seen only once in my life, at the Era Club in New Orleans, where the Gordon sisters presided—and asked her to help us to ascertain whether or not Cyril Kay Scott’s second wife had divorced him.  I had written to other people the same question, and could get no reply.  My father, in my mother’s absence, had divorced her on grounds of desertion, and she communicated with no one in New Orleans, except her old friend Mrs Richard Hyams and her daughter, Mary Ianthe Hyams, who, shortly, left there, as Mr Richard Hyams died.  The Hyams did not know what had been done by the second Mrs Wellman; but Miss Addams was good enough to have a Hull House lawyer inquire into the situation; and had written us, or me, that the second Mrs Wellman had threatened to invoke the Mann Act[5], to have her former husband extradited, etc and though it was also said—to quote the lawyer—that the second Mrs Wellman was, since, herself contemplating a re-marriage and had sued for divorce, it was, it seemed, in some other state than Louisiana, and while the facts were uncorroborated, we were advised to take nothing for granted.

In 1919, the doctor of the Presbyterian Mission of Sao Salvador, having agreed with Cyril Kay Scott himself that Evelyn Dunn Scott was unlikely ever to recover her health in a tropical climate in a place where medical and surgical facilities were still very poor, signed a certificate to the effect that she must go back to the USA for medical reasons.  This certificate was presented by Cyril Kay Scott at the American Embassy Consulate in Rio, where he was now known as the chief representative of the International Ore Corporation, and an emergency Passport was issued to the three original Scotts, Cyril Kay, Evelyn Dunn, and Seely Scott.  We returned to New York in August on a Lamport and Holt boat, I think it was the Van Dyke—it was not the Vestris.

[1] American novelist and poet.  She studied at the Sophie Newcomb School at the same time as Evelyn.
[2] An article from the New Orleans Picayune is reproduced below.  It has not been possible to locate any other  newspaper items about this “scandal”
[3] Now known as Luanda, the capital of Angola.
[4] Jane Addams founded the first social settlement, Hull House, in Chicago.  As both women were in public life, it is likely that she and Mrs Wellman had shared contacts.
[5] The Mann Act of 1910 made it a Federal crime to transport a woman over a state line for “immoral purposes”.

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From New Orleans Picayune, January 13, 1914

DR WELLMAN QUITS TULANE MEDICAL
Resigns as Tropical Medicine School Head, Giving Ill Health As Reason
IS STRANGELY ABSENT
Unusual Manner of Withdrawal Starts Rumours, But Regret General

Sickness is given as the cause of Dr Creighton Wellman’s resignation, as head of the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,of the Medical College of Tulane University, but added to Dr Wellman’s sudden resignation is the fact that he is rather strangely absent from the city, and last night the rumours which had been whispered in certain circles became loud of voice, and it was said that the eminent scientist, in leaving, had neglected to settle certain debts owed to gentlemen of this profession and others.

THE OFFICIAL NOTICE

The official notice of the doctor’s departure, given by Tulane University, last night, read as follows:

“Owing to protracted illness, Dr Creighton Wellman has found it impossible to continue longer the arduous duties of his position in Tulane University.  He has, accordingly, tendered his resignation, which has been accepted with much regret.

“Dr Wellman has contributed services of great value to the university, through his aid and counsel in the organization of the school of hygiene and tropical medicine, in the establishment of an infirmary for sick students and in many other activities.

“His department will, for the present, be conducted by Dean Dyer of the School of Medicine.”

Dr Robert Sharp, present of the [missing text] Dr Wellman.  Dr Dyer stated that there would positively be no interruption in the school and that the lectures and laboratory work would be continued as usual.

RUMORS OF FRICTION

One of the rumours heard was to the effect that Dr Howard King, prominent because of his work and research in tropical diseases, had resigned from Tulane because of friction with Dr Wellman, friction which had brought abut open hostility from the medical teaching staff.  Dr King was seen after much difficulty at his residence in St Andrew Street, by a Picayune representative last night and interrogated as to his connection with Dr Wellman.  Dr King very emphatically refused to throw light upon the affair, and when asked if Dr Wellman had borrowed any money of him, said, with some show of heat, “That’s nobody’s business.”  The doctor’s refusal to say anything further was peremptorily, even surlily, put.

Another rumour that some had heard last night was that Dr Wellman had contracted several debts with personal friends in the profession Christmas Eve day.  He told a few acquaintances that he was going for a little rest, and even mentioned that he would visit Covington to hunt bears. As bears are never seen in Covington or its vicinity outside of a circus tent, the statement was taken as being facetiously put.  Dr Wellman, it is said, has been in failing health for some time past, and was granted a leave of absence by Tulane shortly before Christmas.  He stated at the time he would be in need of a rest, and would be back in a few weeks, ready for the late winter’s work preceding preparations for the student examinations in the spring.  It was not known that Dr Wellman was in the East until the letter containing his resignation was received.

Dr Wellman and his wife reside at Mrs Gomilla’s fashionable apartment house, Prytania and Philip Street, and a call by a newspaper man at the house late last night established the fact that while Dr Wellman was absent from the city, his wife was still here.  The lady who answered the summons at the door said, however, that Mrs Wellman was not at home.

WIFE STILL HERE

Dr Wellman is from Kansas City and a graduate of the University of Kansas Medical School.  He had two years’ valuable experience in Portuguese East Africa, where he studied beri-beri and the sleeping sickness, and returning to the states became well known as an entomologist.  He was in charge of the school of tropical medicine at the University of California, and came to Tulane from that university in 1910.  He was a brilliant speaker, and with Mrs Wellman, who is an accomplished musician, was popular in society.  He was at work on a textbook, took the lead in teaching hygiene in the Normal School, and was very active in every department of medical education.

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