Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Letter From Virginia Woolf To Her Sister, Nessa

To Vanessa Bell
52 Tavistock Sqre [W.C.1]
May 19th [1926]
I have done your commissions so far as posting the letters go—not very
arduous so far. You seem almost as maltreated as we are—it is a good deal
colder than February, generally raining, and now and then a black fog. One
came on as I was starting for your show—so I gave it up, and you must
wait for criticism which will I know profoundly interest you. Meanwhile I
hear that your still life is greatly admired; I hope, bought. probably you
have heard from better sources however. The only papers I have seen say
nothing about Adeney and compare Duncan to Fragonard—but this is the
spiteful [Evening] Standard man.
We should be grateful if you could have some talk with Angus. I think
you could make him see the sort of difficulty that arises better than we could
—it is mainly the languor and slowness, I think; I can't help feeling some-
times that the irregularity of the Press and the strain of its being such a
gamble (I suppose we are certain now to have a loss next year) will always
be more worrying to him than to most people. And that of course reacts
upon us. But we leave it to your tactful nature.
We are having rather a grind at the moment to get Viola [Tree] going
again. Twenty four sandwichmen are parading the West End today, and
I have just travelled Kensington High Street—which almost made me
vomit with hatred of the human race. Innumerable women of incredible
mediocrity, drab as ditchwater, wash up and down like dirty papers against
Barkers and Derry and Toms. One was actually being sick or fainting in
the middle of the street. All our past—George Gerald Marny and Emma
—rose about me like the fumes of cabbage. And I had to sit next a man in
the tube who picked his ears with a large pin—then stuck it in his coat
again. Meanwhile you are in Venice—Rain or no rain, Duncan with a sore
throat or not (I hope he's better—please give him my fondest love)—its
better than this.
But to the Keynes'—Maynard has decided not to stand for the Provostry.
He says he would always be called the Provost and not Keynes: he would
become respectable; he would sink and disappear. Also the more you refuse,
the more you are requested. So he is not lost to Bloomsbury. But as every-
one agrees that he would almost certainly have failed, the arguments do not
convince me. Leonard said he seemed greatly depressed. I have seen nothing
of them. On the other hand I sat next Mrs Gilchrist of Cardiff last night at
Figaro, and she told me that her husband had not a dram of ambition.
Needless to say, she had known Saxon when he was in Eton collars. One
could have told that far off to look at her. Also she asked me how many
people Covent Garden seats. I said roughly 6,000; but advised her to ask
the attendant. And there was Ralph and Frances [Marshall], connubial,
furtive; James [Strachey] and Noel, both grey as badgers and sleek as
moles (I have just been to the Zoo, and noted these facts accurately.) And
Adrian and Karin are inseparable; and are re-arranging the house, beds
being now only one wall off—I mean, bedrooms next door. Morgan
[Forster] came to tea yesterday; but we argued about novel writing, which
I will not fret your ears with—his mother is slowly dispatching him, I
think—He is limp and damp and milder than the breath of a cow. Mr
Brace came—the American publisher. He says they would most warmly
welcome a children's story illustrated by Mrs Bell. Do for Gods sake bestir
yourself. What other news? Mary has rung up to ask me to go and see
her rooms, with the "lovely new decorations." Shall I thrust her through
with a few home truths?—I didn't go—couldn't face Jack on a sofa
recovering from tonsilitis. And she joins the parrokeet in France soon, I
I'm panting to pull up my [bath and lavatory] plugs at Rodmell, and
when poor old Angus comes back, I suppose we shall at last get there
for 5 days. God knows if we shall motor with Gwen—here's Hubert
Waley—come to discuss his infernal pamphlet—and you are safe at
Venice; how happy you are—and you dont want anybody—and you
don't have electric light at half cock, as we do since the strike. But then you
never saw armoured cars convoying frozen meat along Oxford Street. I
shall have lots of stories to tell you about that.
Love to Angus and D[uncan].

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