— The state of the world and its prospects are always in my thoughts, though they are too gloomy to write about. I am weighed down by it all, to such a degree that I take refuge in self-absorption. I foresee a dreadful world after the war — poor, bitter, militarist, utilitarian. It will not be the regenerated world the Russian Revolution made us hope for.2 Only America and Japan will flourish. In poor old Europe, the education will be in the hands of the old, who will do their utmost to keep the young in blinkers. I often feel that I ought to have some part in education again when the war is over. But I think really writing books is better. The atmosphere of Cambridge3 will be too stifling. One will have to expend oneself to keep alive some kind of civilization and generosity of outlook — to make men remember things that are not merely utilitarian. The thought of the world’s needs is with me day and night, and the determination to help if I can. It wants prudence just now; not recklessness. Like the little theatre,4 I believe we shall want a “little university”; for the leisure hours of young people starting in London. It wants thinking out. We have to find room in nooks and crannies for the things we value: the great world will go on despising them as it does now. Without the thought of your encouragement and life-giving quality I should not have the heart to think of such things or the courage to go on with what the world thinks worthless. But as it is, heart and courage remain. But O God the pain — the way the world’s life is ebbing away is unbearable. That is the deep down instinctive feeling that never leaves me day or night.
[document] The letter was edited from the unsigned original in BR’s handwriting in the Malleson papers in the Russell Archives. The single sheet of laid paper, ruled on one side, was folded twice.
world the Russian Revolution made us hope for BR outlined his hopes for a regenerated world in “Russia Leads the Way”, The Tribunal, no. 52 (22 March 1917): 2; 23 in Papers 14. After the bloodless overthrow of the Tsarist regime in March 1917, and the ensuing calls of some Russian revolutionaries for a peace without annexations or indemnities, BR came to believe that a formula had been found not only for ending the war, but also for the radical, non-violent transformation of all belligerent states, including Britain. This optimistic phase of his political thinking peaked that summer (see especially 50 and 51 in Papers 14), but he was soon disabused of such Utopian notions by the Allies’ grim resolve to carry on the fight at whatever cost and the British Government’s determined domestic offensive against dissenting voices such as his own.
Cambridge Where BR had been deprived of his lectureship in July 1916.