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ODYSSEY OF A LIBERAL – MEMOIRS
By Freda Utley
In my early teens, at boarding school in
Although I never heard of James Russell Lowell until I came to
Right forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne . . .
Dieu vancu deviendra Satan; et Satan vanqueur deviendra Dieu.*
God conquered will become Satan; and Satan victorious become God.
Men are men and there is no innate virtue in the oppressed. On the contrary, as Bertrand Russell pointed out long ago when underdog changes places with upper dog he proves to be more ruthless because he has learned, while underneath, to scratch harder in the battle for survival.
Since, either instinctively or by reason of the sense of proportion which is the essence of the classical concept of beauty, I have tended all my life to throw my weight on the weaker side of the scales of power, perhaps I was not so wrong when I carved SOPHROSUNE on my pencil box when I was 14 or 15 years old.
Unfortunately in my personal life and behavior I have paid little heed to Goethe’s dictum that the essence of wisdom is to know when to stop. By expressing my views too sharply, or by carrying my arguments to a ruthlessly logical conclusion, I have failed to influence as many people as I might have done had I been more temperate or restrained and less combative. I have alienated some friends and lost potential allies by turning my back upon those, who by their refusal to go all the way with me in a battle against odds, seemed to me to be cowards unwilling to stand up and be counted when they were in reality only displaying greater political sagacity than myself. Yet despite my all or nothing attitude in the heat of controversy, I have found myself unable to remain long in the company of extremists on any side.
One’s character, no doubt, is one’s fate. But no one knows the extent to which character is determined by heredity or by environment. Nor is it until late in life that one can dimly perceive how the influences of childhood and youth have shaped one’s destiny, and continue to determine one’s philosophy and behavior until the curtain falls.
These influences in my case were liberal, socialist and free-thinking, strongly colored by the poetry of revolt and liberty and legends, stories and romances of heroism and adventure upon which I fed in childhood; not without a tincture of Gallic realism, but basically English. I was conditioned by the empirical attitude of mind inculcated in me by my father; and my upbringing , despite the absence of religious instruction, was anchored to the basic tenets of the Puritanism which produced the first English radicals in the 17th century, the Pilgrim Fathers who emigrated to New England, and the Nonconformists who founded the British Labor Party two hundred years later.
The environment which shaped me was in many respects different from that of others of my generation but I am a product of the heyday of the liberal era, reared in its faith in infinite progress through freedom from superstition and by means of the scientific discoveries and their technical application which were expected to make man master of his fate. I am, or was, a child of the age of reason – of that new age of faith when it was believed that freed from “the shambles of faith and of fear” a vista of infinite progress would open to mankind.
Thus I was imbued at an early age with a consuming desire for the emancipation of mankind, or for justice, which is perhaps the moral reflection of the desire for harmony and beauty. I believed, thanks to my rationalist upbringing, that mankind requires only freedom from superstition or from the bonds of established religion to acquire the knowledge which, together with release from a narrow regard for material self interest, could lead to heaven on earth. The libertarian values implanted in my mind which have consciously or unconsciously motivated me all my life, were to cause me to recoil in horror from the Soviet dictatorship when I came intimately to know it. It was a passion for the emancipation of mankind, not the blueprint of a planned society nor any mystical yearning to merge myself in a fellowship absolving me of personal responsibility, which both led me into the Communist fold, and caused me to leave it as soon as I learned that it meant submission to the most total tyranny which mankind has ever experienced.
Many of my contemporaries and those who came after me were to follow the Red Star because of an unhappy childhood, or frustrations of one kind of another, or failure to make a place for themselves in the competitive capitalist world. But I came to Communism via Greek history, French Revolutionary literature, and the English nineteenth century poets of freedom – not in revolt against a strict “bourgeois” upbringing, nor on account of failure to make a place for myself in the “capitalist” world, but profoundly influenced by a happy childhood, a socialist father and a continental education. I am perhaps proof of Arnold Toynbee’s contention that Communism is a “Western heresy.”
When I came to study ancient history my heroes were Pericles, the Gracchi, and Julius aesar. From an early age I could recite long passages from Shelley, Swinburne and Keats extolling man’s external striving for freedom, beauty and justice. Swinburne’s love poems I rejected as incomprehensible aberratins from the glorification of freedom and the denunciation of tyranny and superstition which I loved. I thrilled to such lines as:
Pride have all men in their fathers that were free before them,
In the warriors that begat us freeborn pride have we;
But the fathers of their spirit, how may men adore them;
With what rapture praise who bade our souls be free.
Most of all, we, nurtured where the North wind holds his reign.
Children all we sea-folk of the Salaminian seamen,
Sons of they that beat back
Today I realize that I ought not to have been so unprepared to learn the facts of political life as might seem from my account of the influences of my childhood and youth.
Like a discordant note or muted theme in the first movement of a symphony, there were other early influences in my life which should have prepared me for the disappointments and disillusionment which awaited me, not only in Soviet Russia but in later years in the Free World. In childhood and youth I have imbibed not only classical and romantic literature and the poems of Shelley and Swinburne, Matthew Arnold, and other poets who sang of freedom and inspired belief in the coming of a Golden Age when men would be freed from the chains of superstition and fear. I was also well acquainted with the writings of Shaw and Anatole France, read and enjoyed Voltaire’s “Candide” and “Zadig” and was to win a prize at school for an essay on Machiavelli.
If heredity also molds character I must take some account of the combative and
adventurous spirit of my Viking freebooter ancestors, who settled in
Many of the Utley’s had gone
a’roving in their time which accounts for the fact that there are far more of them in
knew from my father who, while at college in
My mother, who came from Lancashire where the Celtic strain is strong, was a woman of charm and wit as well as beautiful, and may be partly responsible for the romantic streak in our characters which led my brother to voyage from England to the South Seas in a small sailing boat, while I sought a false Holy Grail in Communist Russia.
In my brother
Writing to our mother from
…Freda’s letter to me was in tone and spirit very sweet. We neither of
us seem to have found our new world. Moral – do not read your
children romantic tales in their infancy. However hard-boiled they may
become afterwards, the original taint remains. Tell Free to teach Jon
to lisp the Maxims of La Rochefoucauld as his first primary. Freda at
eleven and I at fourteen learned them too late.
The Songs the Syrens sang for us were not the same.
I became a “political animal,” travelling ever Left in search of the
ideal society which never was, or probably can be, on land or sea.
Today I find myself wanting to write about my brother before recording my own
story. Perhaps because I now begin to
Both of us were reared in the liberal philosophy of our time and were subject to
the same childhood influences. But whereas I
was to follow Marx and Lenin’s teachings,
Our lives perhaps exemplify the split in the liberal personality between the
extremes of anarchy and statism.
In a later chapter, I shall have more to tell concerning my brother’s life and
death. Here I only quote, with wonder at
There is a sort of lethal factor in us Utleys which inhabits success. Both
my father who was, and my sister who is, much cleverer than I am,
always missed it. You see they, who could have got it easily, never quite
believed in it. I, who would find its attainment much more difficult,
believed in it rather less.
Unlike my brother, I was ambitious. Although I was never able to surmount the “lethal factor” in the Utleys which inhibits us from paying the required price for success, I longed for it. And time was when thanks to my having acquired inordinate confidence in my abilities, thanks to my easy academic successes at school and college, I imagined I would be one of the “movers and shakers” of the world. My faith in human reason, inculcated in me by my upbringing, combined with what Bertrand Russell called my incurable political romanticism, impelled me to continue to believe, even when my views were most unpopular, that if only I would write well enough, I could convince the world of the truth as I saw it.
No doubt one gets what one wants most in life if one tries hard enough, but one cannot have everything. The cost of freedom comes high and one cannot expect to enjoy it, least of all in the world of letters, if one desires fame or security more. Of course, one always goes on hoping to enjoy both. There have been times when I railed against my fate and considered myself ill-used because the world failed to award me fame, fortune or influence and I found myself reviled for expressing my deepest confictions regardless of the consequences. On such occasion Edith Hamilton, who died in her 94th year in full possession of her faculties, gently reproved me for feeling sorry for myself following the failure of my 1949 book, The High Cost of Vengeance,* to win a wide circulation. “My dear Freda,” she said, “don’t expect the material rewards of unrighteousness while engaged in the pursuit of truth.” Nevertheless I often did, continuing to yearn for the success which I occasionally glimpsed but never quite achieved. Even when one of my books was a success I went off on another quest.
· Henry Regnery Co., Chicago, 1949.
Like my father, I did not “stick to one last,” as they express it in
Thus, I was destined to become a Communist when it was most unpopular to be one, and an anti-Communist during the years when its false promises were generally believed by Western “liberals.” Too fast, too soon. The way to success as I have painfully learned, is not to learn too much too soon. It pays to be wrong when everyone else is deluded and woe betide all Cassandras, or anyone else who learns and speaks truth before the public is prepared to listen. The best reputations are gained by those who change their opinions just before the hour when it is usually too late to change the course of human events.
I might have a man’s mind – which was the compliment I most relished – but I could always be accused by my opponents or detractors of being too emotional, as perhaps I am, because I am a woman. And in the struggle for existence in which I was to be engaged at an early age, I had to shoulder the financial responsibilities of a man while also meeting the domestic demands of a woman.
Whether or not I ever deserved the following tribute paid me by Pearl Buck in her review of my 1940, The Dream We Lost,** her words are apposite to the struggle all women who strive to overcome the initial disadvantage of not being born men.
This is one of the richest books I have ever read. It is a strongly
unassailable indictment of Russian Communism. It is a strongly
dramatic story and one interesting enough to make a major novel, the
story of a brilliant mind, rigorously truthful in its working, though born
unhappily in the body of a woman. For even in the best parts of the
world a first rate mind is still hampered if it happens to belong to a
woman. Nevertheless, this mind was born, and it is to its honor that
Freda Utley has simply borne with the disadvantages of being a woman
without allowing them to influence her thinking (Asia, October, 1940)
** The John Day Co., 1940.
My father, studying for the bar while earning his living as a journalist, had
somehow persuaded the authorities to let him continue living in the
Son of a
My father had secured his first journalistic assignment when he presented himself at the office of the Morning Leader, the leading Liberal newspaper of the time, and was told to sit down and write an editorial on some political topic of the day. Having done this with ease, he was accepted as an editorial writer.
When the Morning Leader subsequently merged with the Evening Star, he became assistant editor and music critic of the Star and Morning Leader. George Bernard Shaw was its drama critic but, according to my mother’s recollection, their friendship began while my father was financial editor of Frank Harris’ Saturday Review, a journal that helped make Shaw famous as one of its contributors.
Many years after his death, while doing research for my M.S. thesis at the
my father were both contributors to Annie Besant’s publication, Our Corner, and were friends of Charles Bradlaugh
the famous free-thinking M.P. who directed the Hall of Science school on Fleet Street. Here, when he first came to
teens he had spoken from the same platform as Friedrich Engels in
During my infancy and early childhood my parents had gone through some bad times, as for instance when my father started his own liberal weekly magazine only to have it fold on account of the Boer War; and later, when, after having written the first “Motoring Handbook” published in England, he was compelled before publication to sell the valuable copyright of his future best seller in order to meet a note at the bank he had guaranteed for T.W.H. Crossland, a friend who, like some other well known literary figures, lacked the bourgeois virtue of paying their debts.
Following, or in consequence of these setbacks or disasters, my father turned his talents to financial journalism and business investment advice and started making so much money that my earliest recollections are of life in a big house in Hampstead with servants and governesses, first at 67 Finchley Road and later at 33 St. Johns Wood Park. (Queer that now in my 70’s I can still remember the addresses of the houses in which we lived when I was less than ten years old! It is a curious fact that as the shades of the coming night of one’s life deepen one retains a better memory of details of the distant past than of more recent events.)
The Utley’s would have become really rich had my father’s partner, a man called Hannay, been ready to go all out to back my father’s conviction that a rubber boom was coming thanks to the invention of the motor car. It was Hannay who supplied the capital for their joint venture in publishing a financial newsletter and investing other peoples money in what is today called a mutual fund but was then frowned on as a “bucket shop.”
Notwithstanding the ease with which my father seems to have made money once he set his mind to it, and the affluence which surrounded my childhood as I remember it, I was reared in the socialist beliefs which were to shape my life. A life which was also to be powerfully influenced by the impression made upon me in youth by the tender, passionate and enduring love of my father and mother for one another. Despite the Bohemian world in which I was to take my place in my 20’s, I sought to find the same rare and true love which is:
…a durable fire,
In the mind ever burning,
Never sick, never dead, never cold.
From itself never turning…*
· Anonymous 16th Century poem included in the “Oxford Book of English Verse.”
My parents had first met and fallen in love then they were 17 and my father was brought visiting to my grandfather’s house by Edward Aveling, Karl Marx’s son-in-law and translator. In old age my mother was to recall with pride that Dr. Aveling had introduced my father that first evening as “the most brilliant boy and coming man he knew.”
The course of my parents true and life-long love had not run smooth, and they were not married until many years later, mainly because of my grandfather’s opposition but also, I surmise, on account of my father’s roving, adventurous temperament which led him to spend several years wandering abroad.
My mother’s father, Joseph E. Williamson, a prosperous Lancashire manufacturer, was a free-thinker and a republican who was proud to tell that his wife’s mother had hidden the famous Chartist leader, Fergus O’Connor, under her bed while pretending to be sick when the police were searching for him. He liked to entertain the prominent or promising radical political “intelligentsia” of his time, but he was far from inclined to believe in the equality of the sexes and was also opposed to any of his daughters (he had seven) marrying an impecunious young man. He had refused to let my mother continue her education to become a doctor, as she passionately desired, and had instead set her to boiling jam in his factory to put such nonsensical ideas out of her head.
After my father came courting following their first meeting, my grandfather ordered my gentle, obedient Williamson grandmother never to leave them alone. They surmounted the obstacle of her presence by my father giving her Ouida’s romantic novels to read. These so absorbed her that she paid no attention as they sat together in the parlor of my grandfather’s mansion, The Grande, in the Manchester suburb of Stratford, whose gloomy interior I came to know well when I was in my teens.
** Stein & Day, N.Y., 1966.
*** John Slark,
Michael Rossetti. Dedicated to Edward John Trelawny, Who loved Shelley, Traced out his corpse, and Snatched from the fire the heart of hearts, This Edition of the imperishable poems is by permission most respectfully dedicated.”
Determined to pursue her vocation if only in the secondary role of a nurse, mother
eventually ran away to
Subsequently he had wandered all over the Balkans, learning to speak Turkish as
well as Greek and earning his living in diverse ways, mainly as a free lance journalist. His adventures in
My mother was exceptionally attractive – indeed, quite beautiful to judge from
her photographs and she had many suitors. But
she waited for my father in the confident belief that he would eventually come back to her
from his roaming abroad. All of which sounds
like a 19th century romance but is true.
They loved each other passionately and cherished one another all their
lives, in poverty as in prosperity, in sickness and in health, until parted by death. During my father’s last long illness prior to
his death in 1918, she nursed him devotedly in conditions of extreme poverty in a two-room
She was all woman – more concerned with human relations than with ideas; passionate and charming, unselfish but demanding, jealously possessive in her love for both my father and my brother, but also ready to make any sacrifice for them without complaint.
We could not have been more different. Not
only was I never beautiful, I scorned to be feminine.
I wished I were a boy and have always felt most flattered when told I have a
man’s mind. Nevertheless, it was no doubt
mainly due to my mother’s influence that I was to reject second best substitutes for
love. I waited long to find my own true love
because I dreamed of the perfect union which my mother and father enjoyed. I could not accept any substitute for the rare love
of my parents which had illumined my childhood. Puritan
or romantic, or a combination of both, I was to reject the easy fly-by-night liaisons of
my contemporaries in the Bohemian world in which I took my place in
My father’s love for my mother was as constant as her’s for him. They were lovers in every sense of the word in
middle age as in youth. I possess none of the
letters she wrote him, but have several which he wrote to her both in their years of
prosperity before the 1914 war, and during the disastrous years which followed before he
died, destitute in
Other passages in my father’s letters recall the dimly remembered days of my
childhood and early teens when, incredible as it now seems, we lived in such comfort that
two servants did not suffice. “I am
putting an advertisement in the Globe for a man and wife,” he writes, “because,
My Dear Mother and Grandmother,
Queer to think of you as the latter, for I see you more as the Mother I
remember, carousing with Lockoff and Madame von Klockner at Arosa,
or drinking Chartreuse – French, pre-expulsion of the monks – at Ken
Court, Christmas, 1912. Those days when we were young and rich, when
property was so secure that people laid down wine cellars and the ‘lower
orders knew their places’. Little did you think that twenty-two years
would be grandmother to a little revolutionary in
is a pity Dada cannot see the joke, it would have stirred his sense of
irony. Well, dear, you have had a life; but really, on the whole, it must
have been good. I don’t think that at the age of sixty-nine I will be having
a little revolutionary grandchild, in what capital shall I suggest? - say,
Even in her old age in
Just a little note to say I hope you are feeling well and spreading your
radiant personality over
I’ve missed you, those minxish eyes of yours, that fine clear English
speech, and your infectious laugh, lovely as the song of wind in gentle
Other friends in
In my late teens I came to know my Williamson grandfather as a tall, handsome
patriarch who bullied the two of his daughters who had not married but had devoted their
lives to looking after their parents. He had
cut off my mother without even the proverbial shilling when she married my father. But years afterwards when my father was prosperous
and we lived a
Following my father’s death in January 1918, my grandfather was to cut off even the pittance he had allowed my mother during the last year of my father’s illness, leaving me to support her while my brother was fighting in Mesopotamia.
I remember my mother’s mother as a small, shrunken old lady with scanty white
hair covered by a lace cap, clear blue eyes, a delicately tinted complexion and a
tremulous smile, her hands folded in her lap as she sat in our garden at
My Utley grandmother, whom I knew only from her portrait, must have been a forceful
and ambitious woman. She had done everything
possible to help my father surmount the handicap of poverty to secure an education. She had succeeded in spurring my Utley grandfather
into raising himself from the status of contented blacksmith in
She had failed to make him a successful inn-keeper and had died comparatively young, leaving her husband to become my father’s pensioner; but she must have had the satisfaction of knowing that her talented and energetic son would fulfill her ambitions. I imagine that it is from her that I inherited the drive, as also other unfeminine qualities and defects that have both helped and hurt me during the course of my life.
My father’s father, although poor and improvident, was a most happy man, loved my his wife and son. He may have been a financial burden and a failure but he contributed to their lives, love and gaiety and enjoyment of music and art.
He remains in my childhood memories as a hale and hearty, rosy cheeked and whitehaired, cheerful old man. His main interest in life had always been playing the violin and painting pictures of no artistic value, which no doubt afforded him the pleasure of satisfying his creative impulses.
He was so robust and healthy that he had never taken to his bed in illness until he
died in his 80’s in full possession of his faculties.
No doubt, I have owed to him and our
My Utley grandfather gave me a violin when I was a child and insisted that I should learn to play it, and he also endeavored to teach me to draw and paint. Although I was never really musical I tried hard and was most happy when chosen in my teens to play in the school orchestra at my English boarding school.
I also tried my hand at painting and wrote romantic plays which my brother and our
friends acted, rigged out in homemade costumes. These
plays of mine usually had tragic endings, as did the one we performed while staying at the
Hotel Grison at Arosa in Switzerland, in which all the main characters ended up dead on
the stage. I was furious when
As I write, memories revive of days when my imagination and interests were unconfined by experience or too great preoccupation with politics. When, although I already had a “social conscience” awakened by my father’s teachings, I could indulge my romantic imagination and enjoy all the wonder of the world.
Somewhere along the line of my ancestry or environment, I acquired a Puritan streak
which made me take life all too seriously, in contrast to my brother who enjoyed all the
pleasures and joys life offered, but who could also laugh in the face of danger of
As I dimly remember, my father explained his agnostic philosophy in simple terms by saying that if told there was a tiger on the roof he would go up and find out. But no one could verify the existence of a God in heaven.
I wrote stories or fairy tales from an early age and can recollect the main outline of one whose hero was called Cass. Maybe I derived his name from the French verb casser – to break – for my story started by telling how his mother and father, realizing that their children, if they lived, would surely sin and go to hell, killed them all in infancy. But baby Cass, having willfully knocked over and smashed his cup of milk, thus already committing a sin, was permitted to live. This is all I remember of Cass’s story. A psychologist could no doubt find all sorts of interesting explanations for my remembering even this much.
It was perhaps because he wanted to save me from premature preoccupation with sin and death and religion that my father gave me Fitzgerald’s translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam to read. I was so enthralled by the lyrical beauty of Fitzgerald’s rendering of the Persian poet’s verses that, when eleven years old, I learnt them by heart – nor have I ever forgotten them entirely. Like the poems of Shelley and Swinburne which enchanted me later, I can still recite verse upon verse of the Rubaiyat from memory.
Recently I became acquainted with Omar Abou Riche, a famous modern Arab poet who
As I learnt only then from Omar Abou Riche, it was Swinburne, my favorite poet, who acquainted Fitzgerald with the works of the great Omar and induced him to give the Western world knowledge of the Rubaiyat in verses as immortal as the original Persian text.
Perhaps it is no accident but kismet – the Arab word for fate – which, by bringing me recently in contact with new friends from the ancient but reborn Middle East, has helped to revive memories of my childhood and youth when the Greco-Roman heritage we share with the Arabs colored and inspired my imagination.
Since he died before my twentieth birthday and long before I learned the facts of political life through experience, I do not know whether it was disillusionment or his love for my mother and desire to give her and their children a good life, which caused my father to devote his talents to making money soon after I was born. But it is clear to me from my memories of him and from the fragmented record of his life, which is all I possess, that like William Morris he was in revolt as much against the sordid ugliness of industrial civilization as against the iniquities of the “Capitalist System” of his time.
He loved music and poetry and beautiful things; was a connoisseur of wines; spoke
several foreign languages fluently; loved to swim and sail, and enjoyed driving fast cars
although this made my mother very nervous. In
general, he had a great zest for living, and revelled in the athletic, as well as the
intellectual pleasures of life. My earliest
recollection of him is of a slim, trim man of medium height with broad shoulders, fine
soft golden hair brushed back from a high wide forehead; clear flue eyes behind
gold-rimmed pince-nez glasses perched on an aquiline nose above a reddish drooping
moustache partially concealing a full lipped smiling mouth with prominent front teeth. And my happiest memories are of summer holidays in
I cannot remember ever having now known how to swim and read, but can recall being forbidden by my mother to read in bed, lest I “ruin my eyes” – an injunction which I cannot have paid much attention to because I have a distinct memory of lying in bed, early in the morning, reading a “told To The Children” illustrated version of Lamb’s Tales of Shakespeare.
Among the illustrations I can still dimly see Rosalind and Touchstone in the
Apart from shortsightedness my eyes have never troubled me. Mother used to insist that I take off my glasses in company in order to look pretty. She also insisted on putting my straight hair in curl papers at night. I remember an evening when she reproached me for having caused a quarrel between her and my father – a most unusual occurrence – because I had appealed to him to stop her forcing me to endure this discomfort. Also my father telling me in an endeavor to use his influence to support my mother: “Il faut souffirir pour etre belle,” and myself in tears in a tantrum yelling “I don’t want to be beautiful,” which of course was not true. But my reaction to my mother’s emphasis on my handicaps: shortsightedness and straight hair, as against her perfect sight and lovely naturally curly hair was, of course, to pretend that I was not interested in my appearance. At that early time perhaps I really did not care, being far more concerned in keeping up with my brother in sports and studies in spite of being a girl and younger.
From our home at
My dear Boy,
May this, your eighteenth birthday, be a happy one, not because of
anything material that may come to you upon it, but because you feel that
you are making progress toward the responsibilities of manhood, because
you feel your own powers developing within you, because your inward
vision is embracing a wider view of the two worlds, the one which is inside
and the one which is outside yourself. You are practically a man already,
though for me always my dear boy, and I am happy to see you developing
your own personality and being yourself. Whatever may come to you in
the future, whether it be of good or ill, this is the greatest of all, to be
yourself and no copy of anyone else at all times under all conditions. But
for one’s own satisfaction it is necessary that the self you are shall be such
a self as you can be proud of yourself to yourself, not to other people. “Il
faut cultiver son jardin” is the French phrase. The garden to be proud of
is the garden that produces beautiful flowers, abundance of fruit, a
sufficiency of humble necessary vegetables (without which you won’t be
able to cultivate your garden) and the fewest possible weeds. Alas! There
is no garden quite free from weeds. The mistake is to take them for
beautiful flowers and it is a mistake quite easy to make both for young and
old. It is also a good exercise in philosophy, ethic and aesthetic, to examine
what is a weed, what a beautiful flower and what a choice fruit.
I have very confidence in you, dear boy, and in your future. I won’t
say to you: “think high thoughts,” but rather: “Think deep and wide
thoughts and to clean deeds.” Cleanliness is far above Godliness.
So long, old man. I shall be glad to see you at home again. It seems
a very long time since you went away.
My brother’s and my upbringing was unusual; mine in particular, since as a
child I attended the same boy’s school as
When I was nine years old my father, who had contracted tuberculosis, was ordered
Rapallo, Santa Margharita and Sestri Levanti, Genoa and Milan, Pisa and Livorno, Lupano, Como and Lake Maggiore; driving by carriage and walking long stretches over the Simplon Pass from Domesdossela, whose hotel had, I thought, the unique name “Run to the Post” (courir a la Poste) but actually must have been Couriers of the Mail.
Bright unforgotten distant years of my most happy childhood spent in some of the
loveliest places in the world, giving
We attended no schools but were taught for an hour or two a day in winder by an old
German-Swiss tutor in Arosa. Our father
spending his days on a chaise longue on the veranda was always there to answer our
questions and impart knowledge which we could never have obtained from a formal education. We read books and we listened and learned from the
talks and discussions of our parents with friends and acquaintances from many lands in the
cosmopolitan atmosphere in which my multilingual internationally minded father fitted so
well. Since we were never repressed but only
Unforgettable among my father’s friends in Arosa were Herr Lockhoff, a jovial
Dutch artist and the dainty fair and smiling Baroness von Klockner from Dresden, who
herself resembled one of that city’s famous porcelain statuettes. Lockhoff whose tuberculosis was incurable was to
die soon after we returned to
In late summer
I cannot have made much, if any, contribution as “crew” to our triumphs, far out as I see myself leaning in an old photo as we rushed around the most dangerous corner of the course; or by energetically throwing my slight weight backward and forward to help accelerate speed on the straight. It was probably due to my brother’s insistence that I was permitted to participate in these races which actually filled me with a dread I never admitted to Temple, whose belief that anything he could do, I could do, too, spurred me on.
Writing to me a quarter of a century later from the Fiji Islands to congratulate me on the birth of my son in Moscow, Temple recalled my “winning that ice-axe for me” at Champex, where I had outraced the Swiss girls who competed in the two mile race around the Lake.
When my father was sufficiently cured to return to
So, when eleven and a half years old, I became a pupil at La Combe, Rolle on the
The first summer of our separation from our parents I spent three weeks with
So long ago and far away and yet so well remembered, the two years I spent at school in French Switzerland were one of the happiest periods of my life.
At first I was the only English girl at La Combe and later one of two. I was also the youngest. The majority of the pupils were German girls in
their middle or late teens “finishing” their education by studying the French
language, literature and culture. The
atmosphere was not unlike that of my home environment; studious, tolerant, kindly and with
equal emphasis on study and physical fitness. We
skated in winter, swam and rowed on the
Sport at La Combe was regarded as a pleasure, not a duty, and study – really
hard study – was expected of us all ensured mainly by pride in achievement. Most of the girls came from middle-class German
The headmistress of La Combe, Mademoiselle Marthe Dedie, was a cousin of Monsieur Henri Carnal, the headmaster of my brother's school, and everyone expected them to marry. A handsome woman, I remember her best for the marvel of her long, lustrous and luxuriant black hair which reached almost to her feet and which she braided in thick coils in a crown on top of her head. Perhaps she was too strong-minded and independent for Monsieur Henri who was himself as handsome as a movie star and eventually married an American heiress.
The Chateau de Rosey in later years was to become a favorite school for gilded youth from all over the world, including the present Shah of Iran and other royal personages, besides sons of wealthy American families. In my day it had only one American pupil, a youth of about seventeen whose name I have forgotten, but whom I remembered because of the various troubles he got me into. He took me riding in his newly acquired automobile and promptly ran us into a stone wall. On another occasion he so outraged me by kissing me that I seized his best Panama hat and doused it in the fountain in the Chateau de Rosey courtyard. Once he induced me by the bribe of a carton of Nestle’s Swiss chocolate bars to carry a note from him to one of the girls at my school.
This shameful episode is the more inexcusable because, when
This incident is one of the most painful recollections of my childhood because of the feeling of guilt it gave me for long afterwards. I realized that I had betrayed the trust reposed in me by Mademoiselle Marthe who, because my brother was there, permitted me, unlike the other girls at La Combe, to visit the Chateau de Rosey whenever I wished.
My favorite among
A decade and a half after our school days in Rolle, I was tempted to marry Jimmy
because I was very fond of him and he was well-to-do, while I by that time was exceedingly
La Combe today, although still a more modest establishment than the Chateau de
Rosey, has likewise become a fashionable modern school, as I found when I briefly
revisited it in 1953 when driving through
There is the same tinkling of pianos in practice rooms; the same calm, studious atmosphere; the same lovely gardens shaded by ancient trees; the same flagstoned terrace in front of the main building where we sat in late afternoon embroidering or stitching as we listened to reading aloud of French classic literature. And, no doubt, there is the same curriculum demanding the same conscientious study and endeavor as in the days of my childhood, when we walked up and down in the early morning in the open air learning our grammar lessons from Larousse or memorizing French prose pieces, before classes began.
I can still recite the opening passage of the piece by Alphonse Daudet which begins: “Les chevres de Monsieur Seguin s’en allez tous dans la montagne,” telling the tale of the beautiful little white goat who, despite the love and care lavished on her, was eventually gobbled up by a wolf because like Monsieur Seguin’s other goats she would not stay in his lush pastures but sought adventure in the mountains.
So unchanging, widespread and influential are the disciplines of French education and the patterns of French culture that, in Algeria in September 1963, driving in the countryside where goats abound and conversing with my young Arab Moslem chauffeur, I started to quote the above passage and found that he, too, had learned by heart the same Daudet story about Monsieur Seguin’s beloved little white goat!
Our places in school each week were determined by the “Dictee” which
started classes. By my second year I was often
at the top, and always near the head of the class, being able to take French dictation
almost without spelling mistakes. I had
perforce learned French fast since during my first year there was only one other girl who
spoke English. Her name was Gretel Muthmann
and her mother was an Englishwoman who had married a German velvet manufacturer from
Crefeld in the
Whenever I now cross the
Gretel’s daughter, Liligret,
is today the only woman musician in one of
Gretel, whose married name was Mohr, died after the type was set for this book.
It is not possible to remember what one was like in childhood. Nor are the memories of old friends reliable since they are prejudiced in one’s favor. But perhaps one’s best aspirations are mirrored in what one would like to believe is true according to their recollections. When visiting Gretel in Braunschweig in 1960 I asked her to help me understand myself and the course of my life by telling me what kind of a child I was. She said: “Even as a little girl, you seemed to me to be motivated by a passion for justice.” Which reply, I realize, may be due not so much to Gretel’s recollection of me at La Combe, as to the books I have written.
Gretel was not the only friend of my childhood days in
The Henry Regnery Co. Chicago, Noelke Verlag,
Best of all was to receive word from Madmoiselle Marthe Dedie, already in her eighties, congratulating me on the publication of The High Cost of Vengeance, and telling me she was proud that I had been one of her pupils when I was a child.
On the other side of the ledger, I was attacked and smeared as
“pro-German” or even as an apologist for the Nazis, by most “liberal”
and even some conservative publications in
Peter Blake, himself of German Jewish origin, (and today editor of Architectural Forum in
I should like to think this is true but in fact my compassion for the Germans arose
from my own experience. Having myself not so
long before lived under the shadow of terror in Stalin’s
In 1952 and subsequent years when again visiting
Tout change dans ce monde
Vie, plaisir, climat
Seul, mon amitie pour toi
Ne changera pas.
Liselotte’s son, at the age of sixteen, had
been mobilized during the last months of the war and taken prisoner by the French, who
sent him to do forced labor in the
In contrast to Liselotte’s bitter
young son, there was Else Wollstein-Stolberg, who had been my companion at weekly riding
I was in my thirteenth year when, in 1911, I left La Combe to return to
be possible for me to think that my own country, or any other country, was the repository of all virtues, or to believe that “my country right or wrong” is an admirable sentiment. “Menschen sind menschen,” as t he Germans say – meaning that humanity the whole world over is much of a muchness. In short, my “Continental Interlude” had for good or ill given me an international outlook for the rest of my life. Like Tom Paine, who said, “Where liberty is not, there is my country,” I came in later years to identify myself with those struggling for freedom and justice anywhere or everywhere on the globe.
No doubt I was spoilt at La Combe. Not
only because I was a precocious child among teenagers and for most of the time the only
English girl. There was also the fact that my
parents were then rich, or seemed to be so, since my father spent his money as easily as
he them made it. No other parents in those
days came to visit their children in
I remember only that the special privilege I asked for, by cable to my parents during my first days at La Combe, was that I should not be compelled to consume soup or drink wine at dinner!
strange this sounds today when I like nothing better than wine with my meals! In those days on the continent half a century ago
the purity of water was not taken for granted even in
My father and mother, besides ensuring my freedom from alcohol later interfered with the disciplines of La Combe by objecting to the system which was so effective in forcing us all to learn French. This system seemed abhorrent to my liberal parents because it entailed “spying” and “denunciation.” There were some dozen “billets” which one passed on to anyone one heard speaking their native tongue – meaning generally German but in my case English. Anyone in possession of one of these tokens at mid-day dinner time was kept in to write in full every conjugation of a French verb – which task, including I, thou, you and it as well as we and they in every tense, took most of the afternoon.
parents’ moral objections to this most efficacious system for forcing us all to learn
French eventually persuaded Mademoiselle Dedie to abandon it for a short time during my
last year. Instead of a hectic scramble to get
rid of the “billets” before , we were put on an honors system of reward. Once a week, anyone who could get up and say
“Je jure devant tout le monde” – swear to the world – that she had not
spoken anything but French for the past seven days, received a cheap paper copy of some
master piece of French literature. By this
time French had become almost my native tongue so that it was all too easy for me to
collect a book every week, thus acquiring a small library of French classics. The rules were therefore changed in my case to
ensure that I should speak German, which I spoke very imperfectly. This created such confusion that the new system was
abandoned before I went home to
I find him one of the nicest men I know, he is very interesting and very
well read, an atheist, a liberal and his socialism is the same as ours, and
he is not at all fast. He does not want at all a big salary. This is my
suggestion, not his.
our return to
The plunge from
Prior’s Field, Godalming, Surrey, had been founded by Julia Huxley, granddaughter of the renowned Dr. Arnold, Headmaster of Rugby, niece of the poet Matthew Arnold, wife of Leonard, son of the famous Thomas Huxley, and mother of Aldous and Julian Huxley of future fame.* Mrs. Huxley was dead, but her school headed by Mrs. Burton Brown, had been selected by my parents on the confident assumption that it would provide as congenial an atmosphere as La Combe, where I had been educated beyond my years while uninstructed in several basic subjects. Instead, it proved to be no better than a British “public school” for boys.
There was no “fagging” nor infliction of corporal punishment by seniors on juniors, nor hazing of the weak by the strong. Instead there was mental, or perhaps one should call it social, bullying equally effective in enforcing conformity. Such offenses as studying hard, showing originality in dress or any peculiarity of speech or behavior, were punished by mockery or contempt and, worst of all, the loneliness which comes from alienation from the community, particularly hard to bear when one is homesick. Realizing I was having a bad time my parents offered to remove me during my first year, but, thinking that Prior’s Field was typical of English schools, I saw no point in this and decided that I must endure it.
· In Ronald W. Clark’s book, The Huxley’s, McGraw Hill 1968, there are many pages about Prior’s
Field where Aldous Huxley was a pupil when seven years old together with the original six girls.
I was handicapped from the start by my slightly foreign accent as well as by my un-English upbringing. My “r’s” were French “r’s” and I recall my acute embarrassment when made to stand up to say “stirrup” over and over again, unable to pronounce it in an English accent while the whole class laughed.
Other disadvantages due to my lopsided education abroad had to be overcome. At La Combe there had been no mathematics classes, only optional bookkeeping courses for older girls. So although I had a wide-ranging acquaintance with French and English literature and considerable knowledge of European and ancient history, when it came to arithmetic I did not even know what LCM (Lowest Common Multiple) or HFC (Highest Common Factor) meant. And with regard to geometry and algebra, I had to start from scratch. Since I also knew no Latin, I was assigned during my first term to the lowest form with the youngest girls in the school.
Because I had acquired the habit of study, and was blessed with an excellent memory, I quickly caught up and rapidly advanced from class to class winning more prizes than anyone else, and arriving ahead of my time at the sixth, or top form.
My scholastic achievements counted for less than nothing in the opinion of my
classmates, who gave me the nickname of “Brainy,” in no complimentary sense. After I was chosen for the tennis and swimming
teams which competed with other schools I was tolerated, if never fully accepted, as a
member of Prior Field’s “ruling class.”
But I continued to be a non-conformist.
I won a prize for botany because collecting specimens of wild flowers
enabled me to go for walks and escape playing cricket.
Accustomed at La Combe to associate with girls older than myself on terms of equality, I had no inkling of my social misdemeanor when, at the beginning of my residence at Prior’s Field, I talked at length with two older girls sitting together on the “horse” in the gym at a Saturday night dance. This “horse” I should explain, was a leather upholstered contraption above which we vaulted with varying degrees of success during our daily mid-morning’s gymnasium exercises which included climbing up bars and ropes besides marching and running in step. All of which muscle-building and posture exercises were one of the best sides of the curriculum.
My sins against the social code, at first unconscious, became deliberate. The spirit of rebellion was awakened in me as I opposed the social hierarchy and the conventions of my school. In later life the girls of Prior’s Field came to symbolize for me the “imperialist British bourgeoisie:” class conscious, insensitive, sublimely self-assured, scornful of learning, and confident in their divine right to order the universe.
The profound changes brought about by two World Wars and England’s loss of her Empire have since my day transformed the atmosphere of English private schools, as also the composition and outlook of English ruling circles. But, “the Establishment” as it is now called, endures.
I made some friends but they were either rebels like myself or passive non-conformists, or victims of ‘the system,’ whom I tried to help or protect after I had myself achieved the status of a prefect. One among the former was Margaret Waley, cousin of Arthur Waley, the famous sinologist whose translations of Chinese poems are widely known. Margaret, however, was one of those rare characters who are impervious to their environment. She walked alone and did not care whether she was popular or not, whereas I yearned to be liked and appreciated, although unable to make the concessions necessary for social acceptability.
Among other friends there was Nora Buchan-Sydserf – an unforgettable name – who, being Scotch, was better educated than most English girls, and had an amused contempt for the “sassenach” hierarchy which ran our school. Small and wiry with beautiful long, naturally curly golden hair and bright blue eyes, Nora’s appearance was marred by a brace on her front teeth, prominently displayed as she laughed in unconfined enjoyment of her mimicry of the silly pretensions of the “tyrants” who dominated our lives. Tough, intelligent and witty, and still alive today, she was one of those who, in Voltaire’s phrase, see life as comedy because they think, instead of as the tragedy it seems to those who mainly feel.
Another well remembered friend, with whom I have kept some contact over the years,
was Dorothea Bluet from
Others I remember are the older girls who befriended me during my first year at Prior’s Field, Beata Crook and Phyllis Vickers. Beata who looked rather Rossettish inspired me to make such efforts in my attempts to play the violin that I became a minor member of the school orchestra – an achievement which filled me with greater pride than my success in classes, although each time I played my heart palpitated with the dread engendered by my consciousness of my inadequacies as a musician.
Phyllis, after a brilliant career at
I was on good terms with Margaret Huxley, sister of Julian and Aldous. I remember her brothers only as young men who, on the rare occasions when they spent a weekend at the school from which they derived their income, sat in state at the headmistress’ table at Sunday dinner.
As I write and call to mind these and others who were my friends at Prior’s Field, I wonder whether my years there were really as unhappy as I used to think.
During my last year I even became friendly with the girl we called
“Carrots,” a tall superbly built redhead with a freckled face, snubnose, bright
blue eyes and engaging smile displaying perfect teeth, who was both the all round athletic
champion and head girl. Her name was Mary
Cooper, and I had originally hated her as the “boss” of the school and
embodiment of all I most disliked at Prior’s Field.
Carrots, whose leadership I had for long defied, was extremely nice to me after the
descent of my parents from affluence to penury. This
is perhaps not so strange because today I can appreciate the virtues as well as the
defects of the erstwhile British ruling class. As
Let me not forget in recalling my school impressions of half a century ago, my
tennis partner, Marjorie Clemence Dane. A
tall, sturdy blond girl with few, if any, intellectual or political interests, but with a
good brain and a headstrong and romantic temperament, she was to become my close friend
years later in
The only child of a “widow of high degree” – at least in her
mother’s own estimation – Marjorie had never met the “lower classes”
until I stayed with her one summer in Sidmough in
To me this was just the kind of sea-going holiday I had enjoyed in childhood. But to Marjorie it was romance. She fell in love with a fisherman who was squat and
dark and muscular and almost ugly except for his large, black, long-lashed eyes –
inherited perhaps from some Spanish ancestor cast upon the Western
“Ern” Jenkins was not very bright and his political opinions of the day depended on whether he had just read the Conservative “Daily Mail” or the Labor “Daily Herald.” He was far less interesting and attractive than “Stan” Harris who could neither read nor write but who had opinions he had thought out for himself, and whose physique was that of a legendary Norseman or Greek God. Stan was married to a wonder girl called Kathie who was pretty and witty and well educated and who never let the hardships of a fisherman’s wife get her down. They had a charming child called Peggy and theirs was a happy, life-long love. Both of them recur often in my story since they became and remained dear friends long after Marjorie and Ern had parted.
Marjorie’s mother called in the Bishop of London to try to stop the marriage and took her on a sea voyage round the world on a luxury liner to cure her of her infatuation. It was all in vain. Although, as my brother observed at the time, if Marjorie’s mother had not skimped on this voyage and had taken her on a P. & O. instead of a Japanese boat, she might have met a man who would have made her forget poor Ern.
Marjorie had 500 pounds a year of her own – a not inconsiderable income in
those days. She could afford to play at the
simple life in a comfortably appointed cottage in Sidmouth after she married Ern. He, unfortunately, had all the “petty
bourgeois” prejudices of the respectable British working class and this ruined their
marriage. Marjorie had fallen in love not so
much with him as with his way of life. But as
soon as they were man and wife, he stopped her going out fishing with him at night,
insisted on her wearing a hat and stop wearing shorts or slacks, and in general made her
life so dull that she yearned to return to
Eventually they divorced with Ern keeping the house and being paid quite a bit of “alimony.” Marjorie later married my college friend, Robert Ryan, a clever, sensitive and poetical Irishman in delicate health. This proved to be a most happy marriage, but he dies soon after.
I owe much to Prior’s Field. Not only did my experience there temper and steel me to resist and defy the powers which at all times and places in all societies endeavor to enforce conformity by one means or another. The teaching was also excellent. The trouble was that neither the headmistress nor the staff, with the exception of the games mistress, had much influence outside the classroom.
History, which was my favorite subject, was particularly well taught. At Prior’s Field in my early teens I learned
more history, ancient, medieval and modern, than most American college students. We were also given some understanding of political
realities and the facts of power, so conspicuous by their absence in liberal academic
circles today. For instance, it was impressed
on me that Magna Carta which in later centuries came to be the Great Charter of English
freedom, was nothing of the sort in 1215, at
History as taught in most American schools and colleges only briefly scans, or
passes over as dark ages of little or no interest to the modern world, the millenium
between the fall of the
Many years after, lessons I learned at Prior’s Field, and subsequently at London University, enabled me to realize that China in the aftermath of the war against Japan was at about the same stage of political development as England and France in the Middle Ages, when the great need was for a strong government to enforce law and order and defend the country against its external enemies.
It seemed to me absurd and self-defeating for
To call the Kuomintang Government “Fascist” is the very reverse of the
truth. Its powers are not limitless but far too limited. In war it lacks
entirely the simian
efficiency of the Nazi, Japanese and
It interferes with the individual too little, not too much. Its sins of
omission are far greater than its sins of commission. Its gravest fault
is the ineffectiveness of its administration, and its failure to force
through necessary reforms. It is too soft, not too hard.
Naturally, my political realism in writing that “an economically and politically backward country such as China requires an authoritative administration,” called down on me the opprobrium of American “liberals” who accused me of a preference for tyranny even while they themselves were equating willingness to collaborate with Communists as the hallmark of a “democrat.”
Owing to this confusion or the ignorance of most Americans of history prior to
1776, we “lost”
** Henry Regnery, Chicago, 1951.
On the other side of the ledger, so to speak, I remember a talk given to us in 1913 by Mrs. Burton Brown, in which she compared Lloyd George’s reforms with those of the Gracchi who had been murdered for their attempt to remedy social and economic injustice and thus ‘save the Republic.’ Conservatives who fail to see the need for change and the remedy of abuses pave the way for dictators who abolish all our liberties.
“B.B.,” as we called our headmistress, was a great teacher and a scholar who related the lessons of the past to the present. She was a liberal in the true and original meaning of that much abused word, but also a realist without illusions concerning the facts of power and the basic motives of men, ancient, medieval or modern.
Few among her pupils appreciated her great qualities or liked her much. She was a big, heavy, majestic woman with a rugged masculine countenance, thick eyebrows and heavy jowels, who inspired awe, not affection. She was too remote to know how little effect either her teachings or her personality and high-minded precepts had on the conduct of her pupils. We were all afraid of her, and it was with a beating heart that we obeyed a summons to her book-lined, chintz-curtained study whose French windows looked out on a garden glorious in early summer with deep blue delphiniums and other brilliant flowers. Even I, one of her favorite pupils, vividly recollect that to be called to B.B.’s study in the early morning made my heart palpitate with nameless dread.
B.B.’s daughter, Beatrice (whose shortened name of Bice we pronounced bitch) was a thin-lipped spinster with an artificial smile who was actively disliked for what we instinctively recognized as only a veneer of sweetness, light and charity covering her lack of warmth and humanity, and the conceit which then as now is the besetting sin of class conscious liberal intellectuals.
“Bice” gave me individual instruction in Greek to enable me to acquire
sufficient knowledge within a year to pass the
My knowledge of Latin, unlike my Greek, was not synthetic. I really learned Latin at Prior’s Field, thanks mainly to our Classics teacher, Miss Richards. She was a neat, small, reserved woman with a well-developed sense of humor who never curried popularity, or like the games mistress and some others, sought to stimulate endeavor by arousing inordinate affection – a “pash” to use our word for the unhealthy, adolescent adoration of pupil for mistress in our exclusively feminine society. I remember Miss Richards although I have forgotten the names and faces of other mistresses at Prior’s Field, because she was an inspired teacher who could make even Latin grammar and composition interesting, and the reading of Roman poetry and prose an absorbing pleasure instead of a chore.
I can no longer read it with ease, but my good grounding in Latin syntax and logic, and the clarity of expression required by the exigencies of the Latin tongue, together with my earlier French education, taught me to endeavor to express my thoughts succinctly and logically instead of taking refuge in the verbosity and ambiguity, or mushiness, which in our day and age enables many writers to hedge on their convictions. I do not pretend that my writings have measured up to classical standards, but I have always endeavored to express my meaning clearly and unequivocally.
Long before I want to Prior’s Field my thoughts and aspirations had been colored by Greek and Roman myths, legends and history.
One of the first books
But until I came to Prior’s Field I had no more than a romantic vision of the
glory that was
Thanks to Mrs. Burton Brown, I also acquired some appreciation of the connection between art and religion, politics and philosophy, truth and beauty. One evening a week in the winter and spring terms, “B.B.” lectured to us on Greek, Roman, and Renaissance art. Her lectures were illustrated by slides, and although I can recollect little of what she said, I can still visualize some of the photographs of temples, statues and pictures shown to us on the screen. Mrs. Burton Brown gave me the small measure of understanding of art of which I am capable, together with a deep and enduring appreciation of the Greek genius and its lasting influence.
The classical influences of my childhood and youth stayed with me all my life. For some twenty years, until her death in 1963 at
the age of 93, I was privileged to count Edith Hamilton among my friends. This outstanding American classical scholar
comforted and encouraged me in
Edith Hamilton also tried to instruct me as to how to get my views heard by a wiser presentation than was my wont.
Mrs. Burton Brown’s lectures on history and art compensated for much else lacking at Prior’s Field. Now that I am much older than she was when I listened to her with rapt attention, I recognize my debt to her teaching and can forgive her for having failed me at a critical period in my life.
I was one of her favored pupils, not because she had affection for me, but on
account of my scholastic record. I won more
prizes each year for proficiency in more subjects than anyone else. I even won a prize for Divinity, although I was a
free th inker, exempted from church attendance. I
acquired a leather bound volume of Meredith’s poems, which I still possess, for
general knowledge of the Bible, in April 1913, when I was fifteen years old and in class
VB. (Lower Fifth) The following term, summer 1913, I won the school
“Essay” prize for a dissertation on Machiavelli.
This time the book given me was
I wish I still had this old essay of mine. All I can now remember is its main argument that Machiavelli’s precepts for Princes – his description of how tyrants maintain their power, which came to be called “Machiavellian,” – was not different in essence to the precepts and practices of the Roman Republic or modern nation states.
Mrs. Burton Brown, expecting that I would reflect glory on Prior’s Field by
future academic achievements at
When the war5 came in 1914, my father was ruined.
I was sixteen and had just passed the entrance examination to
She made it brutally clear to me that my presence at Prior’s Field was no
longer desired, and caused me acute shame by letting it be known that I was at school free
because my parents could no longer afford to pay my fees.
When I passed the
Today, six decades later, I remember the shock and disillusionment of the discovery that Mrs. Burton Brown had never had any personal regard for me, having all along been concerned only with the academic laurels I was expected to win for her school. After I was precluded, on account of poverty, from being of any value to Prior’s Field, she cast me off without compunction or compassion.
Thus in the summer of 1915, I left school with few regrets and some bitterness, thanks to the personal experience which taught me that the social system could fling one into poverty from security, and prevent one from continuing one’s education whatever the proof of one’s mental qualifications.
(For continuation please go to http://fredautley.com/pdffiles/book05.pdf )