Your letter2 has made such a difference to me — it has made me much happier. I feel now that I am not losing touch with the movement of your life and your growth. What you say about combined vitality and will is most true. It is the quality that makes people remarkable as characters, as individuals — without it people may be remarkable through what they achieve, like Newton3 or Darwin,4 but not in themselves. — My Darling your little tiny scrap <page cut, removing words> brought you so visibly before me that it nearly broke me down. Little things that are you mean so much to me. When <torn page ends>
One needs such cast-iron disciplinea at this time that when it is over one will be utterly bouleversé. I feel you so precious I can’t believe you will last till then. I feel as if you would burst, like the only toy balloon5 I had as a child, which burst on a holly prickle, and I thought my heart would break. O my Dear, my Dear, I love you so infinitely.
When I come out, if you are not busy, let us go to Ashford — not the sea then, because we want to be more completely together than we can be except at Ashford. I keep seeing pictures of it. It is almost exactly a year since we first went there — you can tell from your little green book, I can’t as I haven’t got mine.6 — O my love, you cannot imagine how divine it is when you say nice things about me — “heroic and humble”7 — am I really that? I don’t think so, <page cut, removing words>b make me happy that you do. — I feel I shall break down when I am first with you. I shall only be able to cling to you and sob for a <torn page ends>
[document] The letter was extracted from two documents in the Malleson papers in the Russell Archives. Document 200323 is an unsigned, fragmentary manuscript in BR’s hand with a small part of it cut out. The text of paragraph one is taken from this document. The second paragraph was extracted from document 201124, a typed transcription made by Colette at an unknown date. It presents the text of what is surely two letters, the present one and Letter 55. (The first few words of paragraph two are omitted here since they appear in the third paragraph.) The third paragraph is also taken from document 200323. The second paragraph is not present in the fragmentary manuscript but is found in a typed version of it obviously made before the letter was mutilated. There was probably more to the original, now lost. The paragraph about “cast-iron discipline” is typed in 201124 to follow the mention of Ashford, but that does not accord with the manuscript version of the Ashford paragraph.
Your letter Presumably her letter of 22 July 1918 (BRACERS 113144) because it contains the phrase “heroic and humble”, which appears later in this letter. But it does not mention “vitality and will”; this omission could be due to Colette’s later rewriting of a letter that she had already sent.
Newton Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), English mathematician and scientist, on whom BR wrote several times, although always briefly. It is hard to think BR thought Newton lacked vitality. He exercised an iron will over the Royal Society.
Darwin BR had been reading about Darwin in W. von Bechterew, Objektive Psychologie (1913), and quoted a sentence on Darwin from that book in the letter of [20 July 1918] (Letter 42). BR also had Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1901) on an unpublished prison reading list (RA 210.006572).
toy balloon BR told this story nowhere else in his writings.
I haven’t got mine BR’s Cambridge Pocket Diary has no entries during his imprisonment.
“heroic and humble” Colette anticipated taking him in her arms and telling him that he was “great among men, heroic and humble, and my most adored beloved” (her letter of 22 July 1918, BRACERS 113144).