Tuesday, 8 January 2013

8th January 1933 - Terrick to Mary

The Highland Hotel
Fort William

8th January 1933

Dear Mary Pleasant

I have just finished breakfast.  I promised to write to you to-day (that is why I did not write yesterday) and the earlier I start the better because if I am to say all the million things that have kept occurring to me since I left you, I shall have to rush to catch the 8.0 am post tomorrow.

Which of them to put down first, I don’t know; but that is a small difficulty compared with those I have been up against lately.  Now that  I am well away from you and using a pen instead of a too inflexible tongue I am more or less a master of my fate again.

When I told you that I had to stifle too incautious repartee it was quite true of the time I was speaking of.  But it isn’t true any longer.  I am losing my grip.  In the last 77 of my previous 87 cases, when I used to look upon it all as rather fun, I was always one move ahead of the game.  I could always give Paul a pretty exact answer when he asked what was going to happen next.

But now, with the score at 88, when I have long looked upon myself as an M.A. (F.) I find I am hopelessly behind.  I not only don’t know what to do next but I don’t even know what to do at the time.  In fact I’m just a B.F. after all.

In the train on Friday night I wondered why I had got so behind.  And I found the reason.  Until now I had always kept a pretty faithful observance of “the good old rule, the simple plan”, which is: “Never run after a bus or a woman.  There’ll be another along in a minute”.

And now, although handicapped with a good resolution, I am enthusiastically running after you.  Therefore, in the nature of things, I must be behind.

I am sorry, Mary Pleasant, that I referred to the score being 88 just now.  It was only for ease of reference.  In reality the whole 88 are now, like the Ten Commandments, summarized into two.  The first eighty-seven are 0/1 and the last is 1/0.

Help! Resolution!

It is very different up here from the last time I came.  Ever since I arrived the rain has been falling in sheets and the wind whistling like mad.  I have only seen the top of Meall an-t-Slamian opposite for a few minutes, and the Rough bounds behind Corpach have never come out of the mist at all.  The pigeon-cote was blown off its pedestal a few days ago.  The Howes saw it go and said it never touched the ground until it had gone right down the drive out of the main gate to just short of where the road runs past, by the church.  Nobody is ever likely to come and stay in this weather, but I have to stay about the place in case.  I can’t get out as much as last time because the porter has been sacked and there is no one who can serve at the bar.  As I shan’t be able to go to the cinema there will be nothing to keep me from sitting down in the evenings and getting on with “Edwy the Fair”.

I turn on the light inside the front door as soon as it gets dark to show any possible traveller that the place is open.  I feel like a light-house-keeper.

“The Small Dark Man” was jolly fine.  I read a good deal of it in the train and went on as soon as the Howes had left.  I finished it last night.  Maurice Walsh writes a good love story.  He really makes you believe that it is “the real thing” that his characters are up against.  And it shakes them and deals them blows that make them ache, which is what love does, I think.  With most authors who are not really great, you feel that the love motive is what Robert Louis Stevenson called “a mild preference”.  But there are, I think, three main parts of love, and Maurice Walsh makes you feel that his characters are really affected by only two of them.  The other he, being a Celtic, mystical sort of chap, rather ignores.  What I mean is:

In the case of my philandering career (now filed and for reference only) I found it useful to be able to put my finger immediately on the kind of attraction that I felt in each case.  I found that there were three different kinds of attraction which I classified as: Subhuman, Human and Superhuman (Paul and I generally call them Sub, Human and Sublime).  Subhuman is a mere animal attraction for a person’s looks.  The Human attraction is having everyday tastes in common i.e. both liking the same amusements, the same friends etc. The Super-human is the attraction of ideals and the things that make man more than a civilised ape.  You might rename them Physical, Social and Spiritual.

For examples: “love at first sight” must nearly always be sub because it depends on the person’s physical attractions.  ? and the Beggar-maid were ideal Maurice Walsh characters because they are bound to have ignored the Human element where they had nothing in common.  In Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett the superhuman almost certainly predominated, both being poets.

I think too that if all these three attractions exist together then the result is love.

Friendship with people of one’s own sex can be divided into the last two.  That is where the flaw in the friendship between Paul and me is plain.  Humanly we agree everywhere; Superhumanly there is hardly a single point of contact.

Maurice Walsh, as I say, ignores the Human attraction.  In “The Key Above the Door” his hero and heroine live totally different lives and he does not tell you which changed.  In “The Small Dark Man” the difference is not quite so great though Hugh is a country-schoolmaster and Frances Mary is county.  Probably the sub and the super attraction more than made up for it in their case.

My German fiancée and I agreed superhumanly.  Her outlook was very Prussian.

A most astonishing thing happened when I got here.  By the first post a parcel came for me obviously containing a book.  I opened it and there was another “Small Dark Man”!  Do you remember my saying that there was only one other Poly person at Fort William who still wrote to me?  It is a girl, No.82 or thereabouts, [I don’t know how you can like me.  I only tell you because I like you so much that I don’t want your opinion of me to be based on ignorance, and because I am afraid perhaps that, if I didn’t, you might find out years hence, and then hate me for it].  Well, this girl keeps writing and phoning me and wanting me to go out with her and I keep finding an excuse.  Just as I was about at an end of them I was able to say I was coming up here again.  Knowing that I liked “The Key Above the Door” she has lent me “The Small Dark Man”.  I am rather glad that it was something I don’t have to read because you have lent it me first.

Paul has promised to get on with the scheme.  In order to be certain of making some profit out of it I have bet him a bob that he does not start it.  I hope I lose.  I think the bet stung him up a bit, so he may move.

There are still several hundred things I have not said.  Some had better wait.  Some are better viva voce.

One thing I must not forget.  That is that when I get back we must meet and do things together in the daytime, on Saturday afternoons or Sundays.  So far we practically only meet in evening dress and to music and moonlight.  All very necessary to the complete friendship, but even more necessary is the sensible atmosphere of cold daylight.  Let’s if we get a fine day, go up in an aeroplane.  That would be a good start because it is not too sensible.  Then we can go onto more prosaic things.

You will probably think this letter awful rot.  Please write me a nice long one.  Tell me what you are doing and thinking.

Do thank your mother for the dance on Thursday.  I am sure I forgot, and if I didn’t, I enjoyed it so much that some more thanks won’t be any too many.  Give my love to your family and keep lots for yourself.  When I have finished this letter, however busy I am I shall really only be waiting till your letter arrives.  Some kisses you can’t dodge, 

From Fitz

No comments:

Post a Comment