Chapter 9


The ending of the war enabled me to avoid several unpleasant things which would otherwise have happened to me. The military age was raised in 1918, and for the first time I became liable to military service, which I should of course have had to refuse. They called me up for medical examination, but the Government with its utmost efforts was unable to find out where I was, having forgotten that it had put me in prison. If the War had continued I should very soon have found myself in prison again as a conscientious objector. From a financial point of view also the ending of the War was very advantageous to me. While I was writing Principia Mathematical I felt justified in living on inherited money, though I did not feel justified in keeping an additional sum of capital that I inherited from my grandmother. I gave away this sum in its entirety, some to the University of Cambridge, some to Newnham College, and the rest to various educational objects. After parting with the debentures that I gave to Eliot, I was left with only about £100 a year of unearned money, which I could not get rid of as it was in my marriage settlement. This did not seem to matter, as I had become capable of earning money by my books. In prison, however, while I was allowed to write about mathematics, I was not allowed to write the sort of book by which I could make money. I should therefore have been nearly penniless when I came out but for the fact that Sanger and some other friends got up a philosophical lectureship for me in London. With the end of the War I was again able to earn money by writing, and I have never since been in serious financial difficulties except at times in America.

The ending of the War made a difference in my relations with Colette. During the War we had many things to do in common, and we shared all the very powerful emotions connected with the War. After the War things became more difficult and more strained. From time to time we would part for ever, but repeatedly these partings proved unexpectedly temporary. During the three summer months of 1919, Littlewood (the mathematician) and I rented a farmhouse on a hill about a mile outside Lulworth. There were a good many rooms in this farmhouse, and we had a series of visitors throughout the whole summer. The place was extraordinarily beautiful, with wide views along the coast. The bathing was good, and there were places whore Littlewood could exhibit his prowess as a climber, an art in which he was very expert. Meantime I had been becoming interested in my second wife. I met her first in 1916 through her friend Dorothy Wrinch. Both were at Girton, and Dorothy Wrinch was a pupil of mine. She arranged in the summer of 1916 a two days' walk with herself, Dora Black, Jean Nicod, and me. Jean Nicod was a young French philosopher, also a pupil of mine, who had escaped the War through being consumptive. (He died of phthisis in 1924.) He was one of the most delightful people that I have ever known, at once very gentle and immensely clever. He had a type of whimsical humour that delighted me. Once I was saying to him that people who learned philosophy should be trying to understand the world, and not only, as in universities, the systems of previous philosophers, 'Yes,' he replied, 'but the systems are so much more interesting than the world.' Dora Black, whom I had not seen before, interested me at once. We spent the evening at Shere, and to beguile the time after dinner, I started by asking everybody what they most desired in life. I cannot remember what Dorothy and Nicod said; I said that I should like to disappear like the man in Arnold Bennett's Buried Alive, provided I could be sure of discovering a widow in Putney as he did. Dora, to my surprise, said that she wanted to marry and have children. Until that moment I had supposed that no clever young woman would confess to so simple a desire, and I concluded that she must possess exceptional sincerity. Unlike the rest of us she was not, at that time, a thorough-going objector to the War.

In June 1919, at Dorothy Wrinch's suggestion, I invited her to come to tea with Allen and me at the flat that I shared with him in Battersea. She came, and we embarked on a heated argument as to the rights of fathers. She said that, for her part, if she had children she would consider them entirely her own, and would not be disposed to recognise the father's rights. I replied hotly: 'Well, whoever I have children by, it won't be you!' As a result of this argument, I dined with her urn evening, and at the end of the evening we arranged that she should come to Lulworth for a long visit. I had on that day had a more than usually definitive parting from Colette, and I did not suppose that I should ever see her again. However, the day after Littlewood and I got to Lulworth I had a telegram from Colette to say that she was on her way down in a hired car, as there was no train for several hours. Fortunately, Dora was not due for some days, but throughout the summer I had difficulties and awkwardnesses in preventing their times from overlapping.

I wrote the above passage in 1931, and in 1949 I showed it to Colette. Colette wrote to me, enclosing two letters that I had written to her in 1919, which showed me how much I had forgotten. After reading them I remembered that throughout the time at Lulworth my feelings underwent violent fluctuations, caused by fluctuations in Colette's behaviour. She had three distinct moods: one of ardent devotion, one of resigned determination to part for ever, and one of mild indifference. Each of these produced its own echo in me, but the letters that she enclosed showed me that the echo had been more resounding than I had remembered. Her letter and mine show the emotional unreliability of memory. Each knew about the other, but questions of tact arose which were by no means easy. Dora and I became lovers when she came to Lulworth, and the parts of the summer during which she was there were extraordinarily delightful. The chief difficulty with Colette had been that she was unwilling to have children, and that I felt if I was ever to have children I could not put it off any longer. Dora was entirely willing to have children, with or without marriage, and from the first we used no precautions. She was a little disappointed to find that almost immediately our relations took on all the character of marriage, and when I told her that I should be glad to get a divorce and marry her, she burst into tears, feeling, I think, that it meant the end of independence and light-heartedness. But the feeling we had for each other seemed to have that kind of stability that made any less serious relation impossible. Those who have known her only in her public capacity would scarcely credit the quality of elfin charm which she possessed whenever the sense of responsibility did not weigh her down. Bathing by moonlight, or running with bare feet on the dewy grass, she won my imagination as completely as on her serious side she appealed to my desire for parenthood and my sense of social responsibility.

Our days at Lulworth were a balance of delicious outdoor activities, especially swimming, and general conversations as good as any that I have ever had. The general theory of relativity was in those days rather new, and Littlewood and I used to discuss it endlessly. We used to debate whether the distance from us to the post-office was or was not the same as the distance from the post-office to us, though on this matter we never reached a conclusion. The eclipse expedition which confirmed Einstein's prediction as to the bending of light occurred during this time, and Littlewood got a telegram from Eddington telling him that the result was what Einstein said it should be.

As always happens when a party of people who know each other well is assembled in the country, we came to have collective jokes from which casual visitors were excluded. Sometimes the claims of politeness made these jokes quite painful. There was a lady called Mrs Fiske Warren whom I had known when I lived at Bagley Wood, rich and beautiful and intellectual, highly intellectual in fact. It was for her unofficial benefit that Modern Greats were first invented. Carefully selected dons taught her Greek philosophy without demanding a knowledge of Greek. She was a lady of deep mystical intuitions, and an admirer of Blake. I had stayed at her country house in Massachusetts in 1914, and had done my best to live up to her somewhat rarefied atmosphere. Her husband, whom I had never met, was a fanatical believer in Single Tax, and was in the habit of buying small republics, such as Andorra, with a view to putting Henry George's principles into practice. While we were at Lulworth, she sent me a book of her poems and a book of her husband's on his hobby. At the same time a letter came from her husband, who was in London, saying that he wished to see me. I replied that it was impossible as I was not in London. He telegraphed back to say that he would come to lunch Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, whichever suited me, although to do so he had to leave London at six in the morning. I chose Friday, and began hastily cutting the pages of his wife's poems. I found a poem headed 'To One who Sleeps by my Side', in which occurred the line: 'Thou art too fall of this world's meat and wine.' I read the poem to the company, and called up the housekeeper, giving orders that the meal should be plentiful and that there should be no deficiency of alcohol. He turned out to be a lean, ascetic, anxious character, too earnest to waste any of the moments of life here below in jokes or frivolities. When we were all assembled at lunch, and I began to offer him food and drink, he replied in a sad voice: 'No, thank you. I am a vegetarian and a teetotaller.' Littlewood hastily made a very feeble joke at which we all laughed much more than its merits warranted.

Summer, the sea, beautiful country, and pleasant company, combined with love and the ending of the War to produce almost ideally perfect circumstances. At the end of the summer I went back to Clifford Allen's flat in Battersea, and Dora went to Paris to pursue the researches which she was making, in her capacity of Fellow of Girton, into the beginnings of French free-thinking philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I still saw her occasionally, sometimes in London, sometimes in Paris. I was still seeing Colette, and was in a mood of indecision.

At Christmas Dora and I met at the Hague, to which place I went to see my friend Wittgenstein. I knew Wittgenstein first at Cambridge before the War. He was an Austrian, and his father was enormously rich. Wittgenstein had intended to become an engineer, and for that purpose had gone to Manchester. Through reading mathematics he became interested in the principles of mathematics, and asked at Manchester who there was who worked at this subject. Somebody mentioned my name, and he took up his residence at Trinity. He was perhaps the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived, passionate, profound, intense, and dominating. He had a kind of purity which I have never known equalled except by G. E. Moore. I remember taking him once to a meeting of the Aristotelian Society, at which there were various fools whom I treated politely. When we came away he raged and stormed against my moral degradation in not telling these men what fools they were. His life was turbulent and troubled, and his personal force was extraordinary. He lived on milk and vegetables, and I used to feel as Mrs Patrick Campbell did about Shaw: 'God help us if he should ever eat a beef-Steak.' He used to come to see me every evening at midnight, and pace up and down my room like a wild beast for three hours in agitated silence. Once I said to him: 'Are you thinking about logic or about your sins?' 'Both', he replied, and continued his pacing. I did not like to suggest that it was time for bed, as it seemed probable both to him and me that on leaving me he would commit suicide. At the end of his first term at Trinity, he came to me and said: 'Do you think I am an absolute idiot?' I said: 'Why do you want to know?' He replied: 'Because if I am I shall become an aeronaut, but if I am not I shall become a philosopher.' I said to him: 'My dear fellow, I don't know whether you are an absolute idiot or not, but if you will write me an essay during the vacation upon any philosophical topic that interests you, I will read It and tell you.' He did so, and brought it to me at the beginning of the next term. As soon as I read the first sentence, I became persuaded that he was a man of genius, and assured him that he should on no account become an aeronaut. At the beginning of 1914 he came to me in a state of great agitation and said: 'I am leaving Cambridge, I am leaving Cambridge at once.' 'Why?' I asked. 'Because my brother-in-law has come to live in London, and I can't bear to be so near him.' So he spent the rest of the winter in the far north of Norway. In early days I once asked G. E. Moore what he thought of Wittgenstein. "I think very well of him', he said. I asked why, and he replied: 'Because at my lectures he looks puzzled, and nobody else ever looks puzzled.'

When the War came, Wittgenstein, who was very patriotic, became an officer in the Austrian Army. For the first few months it was still possible to write to him and to hear from him, but before long became impossible, and I knew nothing of him until about a month after the Armistice, when I got a letter from him written from Monte Cassino, saying that a few days after the Armistice he had been taken prisoner by the Italians, but fortunately with his manuscript. It appeared that he had written a book in the trenches, and wished me to read it. He was the kind of man who would never have noticed such small matters as bursting shells when he was thinking about logic. He sent me the manuscript of his book, which I discussed with Nicod and Dorothy Wrinch at Lulworth. It was the book which was subsequently published under the title Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. It was obviously important to see him and discuss it by word of mouth, and it seemed best to meet in a neutral country. We therefore decided upon the Hague. At this point, however, a surprising difficulty arose. His father, just before the outbreak of the War, had transferred his whole fortune to Holland, and was therefore just as rich at the end as at the beginning. Just about at the time of the Armistice his father had died, and Wittgenstein inherited the bulk of his fortune. He came to the conclusion, however, that money is a nuisance to a philosopher, so he gave every penny of it to his brother and sisters. Consequently he was unable to pay the fare from Vienna to the Hague, and was far too proud to accept it from me. At last a solution of this difficulty was found. The furniture and books which he had had at Cambridge were stored there, and he expressed a willingness to sell them to me. I took the advice of the Cambridge furniture dealer in whose care they were as to their value, and bought them at the figure he suggested. They were in fact worth far more than he supposed, and it was the best bargain I ever made. This transaction made it possible for Wittgenstein to come to the Hague, where we spent a week arguing his book line by line, while Dora went to the Public Library to read the invectives of Salmatius against Milton.

Wittgenstein, though a logician, was at once a patriot and a pacifist. He had a very high opinion of the Russians, with whom he had fraternised at the Front. He told me that once in a village in Galicia, where for the moment he had nothing to do, he found a book-shop, and it occurred to him that there might be a book in it. There was just one, which was Tolstoy on the Gospels. He therefore bought it, and was much impressed by it. He became for a time very religious, so much so that he began to consider me too wicked to associate with. In order to make a living he became an elementary school-master in a country village in Austria, called Trattenbach. He would write to me saying: 'The people of Trattenbach are very wicked.' I would reply: 'Yes, all men are very wicked.' He would reply: 'True, but the men of Trattenbach are more wicked than the men of other places.' I replied that my logical sense revolted against such a proposition. But he had some justification for his opinion. The peasants refused to supply him with milk because he taught their children sums that were not about money. He must have suffered dining this time hunger and considerable privation, though it was very seldom that he could be induced to say anything about it, as he had the pride of Lucifer. At last his sister decided to build a house, and employed him as architect. This gave him enough to eat for several years, at the end of which time he returned to Cambridge as a don, where Clive Bell's son wrote poems in heroic couplets against him. He was not always easy to fit into a social occasion. Whitehead described to me the first time that Wittgenstein came to see him. He was shown into the drawing-room during afternoon tea. He appeared scarcely aware of the presence of Mrs Whitehead, but marched up and down the room for some time in silence, and at last said explosively: 'A proposition has two poles. It is apb.' Whitehead, in telling me, said: 'I naturally asked what are a and b, but I found that I had said quite the wrong thing, "a and b are indefinable," Wittgenstein answered in a voice of thunder.'

Like all great men he had his weaknesses. At the height of his mystic ardour in 1922, at a time when he assured me with great earnestness that it is better to be good than clever, I found him terrified of wasps, and, because of bugs, unable to stay another night in lodgings we had found in Innsbruck. After my travels in Russia and China, I was inured to small matters of that sort, but not all his conviction that the things of this world are of no account could enable him to endure insects with patience. In spite of such slight foibles, however, he was an impressive human being.

I spent almost the whole of the year 1920 in travelling. At Easter, I was invited to lecture at Barcelona at the Catalan University there. From Barcelona I went to Majorca, where I stayed at Seller. The old inn-keeper (the only one in the place) informed me that, as he was a widower, he could not give me any food, but I was at liberty to walk in his garden and pluck his oranges whenever I pleased. He said this with such a courteous air that I felt constrained to express my profound gratitude. In Majorca, I began a great quarrel which raged for many months through many changes of latitude and longitude.

I was planning to go to Russia, and Dora wanted to go with me. I maintained that, as she had never taken much interest in politics, there was no good reason why she should go, and, as typhus was raging, I should not feel justified in exposing her to the risk. We were both adamant, and it was an issue upon which compromise was impossible. I still think I was right, and she still thinks she was right.

Soon after returning from Majorca, my opportunity came. A Labour deputation was going to Russia, and was willing that I should accompany it. The Government considered my application, and after causing me to be interviewed by H. A. L. Fisher, they decided to let me go. The Soviet Government was more difficult to persuade, and when I was already in Stockholm on the way, Litvinov was still refusing permission, in spite of our having been fellow prisoners in Brixton. However, the objections of the Soviet Government were at last overcome. We were a curious party, Mrs Snowden, Clifford Allen, Robert Williams, Tom Shaw, an enormously fat old Trade Unionist named Ben Turner, who was very helpless without his wife and used to get Clifford Allen to take his boots off for him, Haden Guest as medical attendant, and several Trade Union officials. In Petrograd, where they put the imperial motor-car at our disposal, Mrs Snowden used to drive about enjoying its luxury and expressing pity for the 'poor Czar'. Haden Guest was a theosophist with a fiery temper and a considerable libido. He and Mrs Snowden were very anti-Bolshevik. Robert Williams, I found, was very happy in Russia, and was the only one of our party who made speeches pleasing to the Soviet Government. He always told them that revolution was imminent in England, and they made much of him. I told Lenin that he was not to be trusted, and the very next year, on Black Friday, he ratted. Then there was Charlie Buxton, whose pacifism had led him to become a Quaker. When I shared a cabin with him, he would beg me to stop in the middle of a sentence in order that he might practise silent prayer. To my surprise, his pacifism did not lead him to think ill of the Bolsheviks.

For my part, the time I spent in Russia was one of continually increasing nightmare. I have said in print what, on reflection, appeared to me to be the truth, but I have not expressed the sense of utter horror which overwhelmed me while I was there. Cruelty, poverty, suspicion, persecution, formed the very air we breathed. Our conversations were continually spied upon. In the middle of the night one would hear shots, and know that idealists were being killed in prison. There was a hypocritical pretence of equality, and everybody was called 'tovarisch', but it was amazing how differently this word could be pronounced according as the person addressed was Lenin or a lazy servant. On one occasion in Petrograd (as it was called) four scarecrows came to see me, dressed in rags, with a fortnight's beard, filthy nails, and tangled hair. They were the four most eminent poets of Russia. One of them was allowed by the Government to make his living by lecturing on rhythmics, but he complained that they insisted upon his teaching this subject from a Marxian point of view, and that for the life of him he could not see how Marx came into the matter.

Equally ragged were the Mathematical Society of Petrograd. I went to a meeting of this society at which a man read a paper on non-Euclidean geometry. I could not understand anything of it except the formulae which he wrote on the blackboard, but these were quite the right sort of formulae, so that one may assume the paper to have been competent. Never, in England, have I seen tramps who looked so abject as the mathematicians of Petrograd. I was not allowed to see Kropotkin, who not long afterwards died. The governing classes had a self-confidence quite as great as that produced by Eton and Oxford. They believed that their formulae would solve all difficulties. A few of the more intelligent knew that this was not the case, but did not dare to say so. Once, in a tête-à-tête conversation with a scientific physician named Zalkind, he began to say that climate has a great effect upon character, but instantly he pulled himself up short, and said: 'Of course that is not really the case; only economic circumstances affect character.' I felt that everything that I valued in human life was being destroyed in the interests of a glib and narrow philosophy, and that in the process untold misery was being inflicted upon many millions of people. With every day that I spent in Russia my horror increased, until I lost all power of balanced judgement.

From Petrograd we went to Moscow, which is a very beautiful city, and architecturally more interesting than Petrograd because of the Oriental influence. I was amused by various small ways in which Bolshevik love of mass-production showed itself. The main meal of the day occurred at about four o'clock in the afternoon, and contained among other ingredients the heads of fishes. I never discovered what happened to their bodies, though I suppose they were eaten by the peoples' Romissars. The river Moskwa was chock full of fish, but people were not allowed to catch them, as no up-to-date mechanical method had yet been found to supersede the rod and line. The city was almost starving, but it was felt that fishes' heads, caught by trawlers, were better than fishes' bodies caught by primitive methods.

We went down the Volga on a steamer, and Clifford Allen became extremely ill with pneumonia, which revived the tuberculosis from which he had previously suffered. We were all to leave the boat at Saratov, but Allen was too ill to be moved, so Haden Guest, Mrs Snowden and I remained on the boat to look after him, while it travelled on to Astrakan. He had a very small cabin, and the heat was inconceivable. The windows had to be kept tight shut on account of the malarial mosquitoes, and Allen suffered from violent diarrhoea. We had to take turns nursing him, for although there was a Russian nurse on board, she was afraid to sit with him at night for fear that he might die and his ghost might seize her.

Astrakan seemed to me more like hell than anything I had ever imagined. The town water-supply was taken from the same part of the river into which ships shot their refuse. Every street had stagnant water which bred millions of mosquitoes; every year one third of the inhabitants had malaria. There was no drainage system, but a vast mountain of excrement at a prominent place in the middle of the town. Plague was endemic. There had recently been fighting in the civil war against Denikin. The flies were so numerous that at meal-time a tablecloth had to be put over the food, and one had to insert one's hand underneath and snatch a mouthful quickly. The instant the tablecloth was put down, it became completely black with flies, so that nothing of it remained visible. The place is a great deal below sea-level, and the temperature was 120 degrees in the shade. The leading doctors of the place were ordered by the Soviet officials who accompanied us to hear what Haden Guest had to say about combating malaria, a matter on which he had been engaged for the British Army in Palestine. He gave them an admirable lecture on the subject, at the end of which they said: 'Yes, we know all that, but it is very hot.' I fancy that the next time the Soviet officials came that way those doctors were probably put to death, but of this I have no knowledge. The most eminent of the doctors in question examined Clifford Allen and informed me that he could not possibly live two days. When about a fortnight later we got him out to Reval, the doctor who examined him there again told me that he could not live two days, but by this time I had come to know something of Allen's determination to live, and I was less alarmed. He survived for many years, and became an ornament of the House of Lords.

After I returned to England I endeavoured to express my changing moods, before starting and while in Russia, in the shape of antedated letters to Colette, the last of which I subsequently published in my book about China. As they express my moods at that time better than I can do by anything written now, I will insert them here:


London, April 24, 1920

The day of my departure comes near. I have a thousand things to do, yet I sit here idle, thinking useless thoughts, the irrelevant, rebellious thoughts that well-regulated people never think, the thoughts that one hopes to banish by work, but that themselves banish work instead. How I envy those who always believe what they believe, who are not troubled by deadness and indifference to all that makes the framework of their lives. I have had the ambition to be of some use in the world, to achieve something notable, to give mankind new hopes. And now that the opportunity is near, it all seems dust and ashes. As I look into the future, my disillusioned gaze sees only strife and still more strife, rasping cruelty, tyranny, terror and slavish submission. The men of my dreams, erect, fearless and generous, will they ever exist on earth? Or will men go on fighting, killing and torturing to the end of time, till the earth grows cold and the dying sun can no longer quicken their futile frenzy? I cannot tell. But I do know the despair in my soul. I know the great loneliness, as I wander through the world like a ghost, speaking in tones that are not heard, lost as if I had fallen from some other planet.

The old struggle goes on, the struggle between little pleasures and the great pain. I know that the little pleasures are death and yet - I am so tired, so very tired. Reason and emotion fight a deadly war within me, and leave me no energy for outward action. I know that no good thing is achieved without fighting, without ruthlessness and organisation and discipline. I know that for collective action the individual must be turned into a machine. But in these things, though my reason may force me to believe them, I can find no inspiration. It is the individual human soul that I love - in its loneliness, its hopes and fears, its quick impulses and sudden devotions. It is such a long journey from this to armies and States and officials; and yet it is only by making this long journey that one can avoid a useless sentimentalism.

All through the rugged years of the War, I dreamed of a happy day after its end, when I should sit with you in a sunny garden by the Mediterranean, filled with the scent of heliotrope, surrounded by cypresses and sacred groves of ilex - and there, at last, I should be able to tell you of my love, and to touch the joy that is as real as pain. The time is come, but I have other tasks, and you have other desires; and to me, as I sit brooding, all tasks seem vain and all desires foolish.

Yet it is not upon these thoughts that I shall act.


Petrograa, May 12, 1920

I am here at last, in this city which has filled the world with history, which has inspired the most deadly hatreds and the most poignant hopes. Will it yield me up its secret? Shall I learn to know its inmost soul? Or shall I acquire only statistics and official facts? Shall I understand what I see, or will it remain an external bewildering show? In the dead of night we reached the empty station, and our noisy motors panted through the sleeping streets. From my window, when I arrived, I looked out across the Neva to the fortress of Peter and Paul. The river gleamed in the early northern dawn; the scene was beautiful beyond all words, magical, eternal, suggestive of ancient wisdom. 'It is wonderful', I said to the Bolshevik who stood beside me. 'Yes,' he replied, 'Peter and Paul is now not a prison, but the Army Headquarters.'

I shook myself. 'Come, my friend,' I thought, 'you are not here as a tourist, to sentimentalise over sunrises and sunsets and buildings starred by Baedeker; you are here as a social investigator, to study economic and political facts. Come out of your dream, forget the eternal things. The men you have come among would tell you they are only the fancies of a bourgeois with too much leisure, and can you be sure they are anything more?' So I came back into the conversation, and tried to learn the mechanism for buying an umbrella at the Soviet Stores, which proved as difficult as fathoming the ultimate mysteries.

The twelve hours that I have so far spent on Russian soil have chiefly afforded material for the imp of irony. I came prepared for physical hardship, discomfort, dirt, and hunger, to be made bearable by an atmosphere of splendid hope for mankind. Our communist comrades, no doubt rightly, have not judged us worthy of such treatmeat. Since crossing the frontier yesterday afternoon, I have made two feasts and a good breakfast, several first-class cigars, and a night in a sumptuous bedroom of a palace where all the luxury of the ancien régime has been preserved. At the stations on the way, regiments of soldiers filled the platform, and the plebs was kept carefully out of sight. It seems I am to live amid the pomp surrounding the government of a great military Empire. So I must readjust my mood. Cynicism is called for, but I am strongly moved, and find cynicism difficult. I come back eternally to the same question: What is the secret of this passionate country? Do the Bolsheviks know its secret? Do they even suspect that it has a secret? I wonder.


Petrograd, May 13, 1920

This is a strange world into which I have come, a world of dying beauty and harsh life. I am troubled at every moment by fundamental questions, the terrible insoluble questions that wise men never ask. Empty palaces and full eating-houses, ancient splendours destroyed, or mummified in museums, while the sprawling self-confidence of returned Americanised refugees spreads throughout the city. Everything is to be systematic: there is to be organisation and distributive justice. The same education for all, the same clothes for all, the same kind of houses for all, the same books for all, and the same creed for all - it is very just, and leaves no room for envy, except for the fortunate victims of injustice in other countries.

And then I begin upon the other side of the argument. I remember Dostoevski's Crime and Punishment, Gorki's In the World, Tolstoy's Resurrection. I reflect upon the destruction and cruelty upon which the ancient splendour was built: the poverty, drunkenness, prostitution, in which life and health were uselessly wasted; I think of all the lovers of freedom who suffered in Peter and Paul; I remember the knoutings and pogroms and massacres. By hatred of the old, I become tolerant of the new, but I cannot like the new on its own account.

Yet I reproach myself for not liking it. It has all the characteristics of vigorous beginnings. It is ugly and brutal, but full of constructive energy and faith in the value of what it is creating. In creating a new machinery for social life, it has no time to think of anything beyond machinery. When the body of the new society has been built, there will be time enough to think about giving it a soul - at least, so I am assured. 'We have no time for a new art or a new religion', they tell me with a certain impatience. I wonder whether it is possible to build a body first, and then afterwards inject the requisite amount of soul. Perhaps - but I doubt it.

I do not find any theoretical answer to these questions, but my feelings answer with terrible insistence. I am infinitely unhappy in this atmosphere - stifled by its utilitarianism, its indifference to love and beauty and the life of impulse. I cannot give that importance to man's merely animal needs that is given here by those in power. No doubt that is because I have not spent half my life in hunger and want, as many of them have. But do hunger and want necessarily bring wisdom? Do they make men more, or less, capable of conceiving the ideal society that should be the inspiration of every reformer? I cannot avoid the belief that they narrow the horizon more than they enlarge it. But an uneasy doubt remains, and I am torn in two . . .


On the Volga, June 2, 1920.

Our boat travels on, day after day, through an unknown and mysterious land. Our company are noisy, gay, quarrelsome, full of facile theories, with glib explanations of everything, persuaded that there is nothing they cannot understand and no human destiny outside the purview of their system. One of us lies at death's door,1 fighting a grim battle with weakness and terror and the indifference of the strong, assailed day and night by the sounds of loud-voiced love-making and trivial laughter. And all around us lies a great silence, strong as Death, unfathomable as the heavens. It seems that none have leisure to hear the silence, yet it calls to me so insistently that I grow deaf to the harangues of propagandists and the endless information of the well-informed.

Last night, very late, our boat stopped in a desolate spot where there were no houses, but only a great sandbank, and beyond it a row of poplars with the rising moon behind them. In silence I went ashore, and found on the sand a strange assemblage of human beings, half-nomads, wandering from some remote region of famine, each family huddled together surrounded by all its belongings, some sleeping, others silently making small fires of twigs. The flickering flames lighted up gnarled bearded faces of wild men, strong patient primitive women, and children as sedate and slow as their parents. Human beings they undoubtedly were, and yet it would have been far easier for me to grow intimate with a dog or a cat or a horse than with one of them. I knew that they would wait there day after day, perhaps for weeks, until a boat came in which they could go to some distant place where they had heard - falsely perhaps - that the earth was more generous than in the country they had left. Some would die by the way, all would suffer hunger and thirst and the scorching midday sun, but their sufferings would be dumb. To me they seemed to typify the very soul of Russia, unexpressive, inactive from despair, unheeded by the little set of westernisers who make up all the parties of progress or reaction. Russia is so vast that the articulate few are lost in it as man and his planet are lost in interstellar space. It is possible, I thought, that the theorists may increase the misery of the many by trying to force them into actions contrary to their primeval instincts, but I could not believe that happiness was to be brought to them by a gospel of industrialism and forced labour.

Nevertheless, when morning came, I resumed the interminable discussions of the materialistic conception of history and the merits of a truly popular government. Those with whom I discussed had not seen the sleeping wanderers, and would not have been interested if they had seen them, since they were not material for propaganda. But something of that patient silence had communicated itself to me, something lonely and unspoken remained in my heart through all the comfortable familiar intellectual talk. And at last I began to feel that all politics are inspired by a grinning devil, teaching the energetic and quick-witted to torture submissive populations for the profit of pocket or power or theory. As we journeyed on, fed by food extracted from the peasants, protected by an army recruited from among their sons, I wondered what we had to give them in return. But I found no answer. From time to time I heard their sad songs or the haunting music of the balalaika; but the sound mingled with the great silence of the steppes, and left me with a terrible questioning pain in which occidental hopefulness grew pale.

Sverdlov, the Minister of Transport (as we should call him), who was with us on the steamer on the Volga, was extraordinarily kind and helpful about Allen's illness. We came back on the boat as far as Saratov, and from there to Reval, we travelled all the way in the carriage that had belonged to the Czar's daughters, so that Allen did not have to be moved at any stage. If one might judge from the carriage, some of their habits must have been curious. There was a luxurious sofa of which the seat lifted up, and one then discovered three holes in a row suitable for sanitary purposes. At Moscow on the way home Haden Guest and I had a furious quarrel with Chicherin because he would not allow Allen to leave Moscow until he had been examined by two Soviet doctors, and at first he said that he could not get the Soviet doctors to see him for another two days. At the height of the quarrel, on a staircase, I indulged in a shouting match because Chicherin had been a friend of my Uncle Rollo and I had hopes of him. I shouted that I should denounce him as a murderer. It seemed to us and to Allen vital to get him out of Russia as soon as possible, and we felt that this order to wait for Soviet doctors would endanger his life. At last a compromise was effected by which the doctors saw him at once. One of them was called Popoff; the name of the other I have forgotten. The Soviet Government thought that Allen was friendly to them and that Guest and Mrs Snowden and I were anxious he should die so as to suppress his testimony in their favour.

At Reval I met by accident Mrs Stan Harding, whom I had not known before. She was going into Russia filled with enthusiasm for the Bolsheviks. I did what I could to disenchant her, but without success. As soon as she arrived they clapped her into gaol, and kept her there for eight months. She was finally liberated on the insistent demand of the British Government. The fault, however, lay not so much with the Soviet Government as with a certain Mrs Harrison. Mrs Harrison was an American lady of good family who was with us on the Volga. She was in obvious terror and longing to escape from Russia, but the Bolsheviks kept her under very close observation. There was a spy named Axionev, whom they had taken over from the ancien régime, who watched her every movement and listened to her every word. He had a long beard and a melancholy expression, and wrote decadent French verse with great skill On the night-train he shared a compartment with her; on the boat whenever anybody spoke with her he would creep behind silently. He had extraordinary skill in the art of creeping. I felt sorry for the poor lady, but my sorrow was misplaced. She was an American spy, employed also by the British. The Russians discovered that she was a spy, and spared her life on condition that she became a spy for them. But she sabotaged her work for them, denouncing their friends and letting their enemies go free. Mrs Harding knew that she was a spy, and therefore had to be put away quickly. This was the reason of her denouncing Mrs Harding to the Soviet authorities. Nevertheless, she was a charming woman, and nursed Allen during his illness with more skill and devotion than was shown by his old friends. When the facts about her subsequently came to light, Allen steadfastly refused to hear a word against her.

Lenin, with whom I had an hour's conversation, rather disappointed me. I do not think that I should have guessed him to be a great man, but in the course of our conversation I was chiefly conscious of his intellectual limitations, and his rather narrow Marxian orthodoxy, as well as a distinct vein of impish cruelty. I have told of this interview, as well as of my adventures in Russia, in my book Practice and Theory of Bolshevism.

There was at that time no communication with Russia either by letter or telegram, owing to the blockade. But as soon as I reached Reval I began telegraphing to Dora. To my surprise, I got no reply. At last, when I was in Stockholm, I telegraphed to friends of hers in Paris, asking where she was, and received the answer that when last heard of she was in Stockholm. I supposed she had come to meet me, but after waiting twenty-four hours in the expectation of seeing her, I met by chance a Finn who informed me that she had gone to Russia, via the North Cape. I realised that this was a move in our long-drawn-out quarrel on the subject of Russia, but I was desperately worried for fear they would put her in prison, as they would not know why she had come. There was nothing one could do about it, so I came back to England, where I endeavoured to recover some kind of sanity, the shock of Russia having been almost more than I could bear. After a time, I began to get letters from Dora, brought out of Russia by friends, and to my great surprise she liked Russia just as much as I had hated it. I wondered whether we should ever be able to overcome this difference. However, among the letters which I found waiting for me when I got back to England, was one from China inviting me to go there for a year to lecture on behalf of the Chinese Lecture Association, a purely Chinese body which aimed at importing one eminent foreigner each year, and had in the previous year imported Dr Dewey. I decided that I would accept if Dora would come with me, but not otherwise. The difficulty was to put the matter before her, in view of the blockade. I knew a Quaker at Reval, named Arthur Watts, who frequently had to go into Russia in connection with Quaker relief, so I sent him a telegram costing several pounds, explaining the circumstances and asking him to find Dora if he could, and put the matter before her. By a stroke of luck this all worked out. If we were to go, it was necessary that she should return at once, and the Bolsheviks at first supposed that I was playing a practical joke. In the end, however, she managed.

We met at Fenchurch Street on a Sunday, and at first we were almost hostile strangers to each other. She regarded my objections to the Bolsheviks as bourgeois and senile and sentimental. I regarded her love of them with bewildered horror. She had met men in Russia whose attitude seemed to her in every way superior to mine. I had been finding the same consolation with Colette as I used to find during the War. In spite of all this, we found ourselves taking all the necessary steps required for going off together for a year in China. Some force stronger than words, or even than our conscious thoughts, kept us together, so that in action neither of us wavered for a moment. We had to work literally night and day. From the time of her arrival to the time of our departure for China was only five days. It was necessary to buy clothes, to get passports in order, to say goodbye to friends and relations, in addition to all the usual bustle of a long journey; and as I wished to be divorced while in China, it was necessary to spend the nights in official adultery. The detectives were so stupid that this had to be done again and again. At last, however, everything was in order. Dora, with her usual skill, had so won over her parents that they came to Victoria to see us off just as if we had been married. This in spite of the fact that they were completely and entirely conventional. As the train began to move out of Victoria, the nightmares and complications and troubles of recent months dropped off, and a completely new chapter began.


From J. E. Littlewood

Trinity College Cambridge [1919]

Dear Russell

Einstein's theory is completely confirmed. The predicted displacement was I".72 and the observed I".75 ± .06.

Yours J.E.L.

From Harold J. Laski

Harvard University Cambridge August 29, 1919

Dear Mr Russell

I wish I knew how to thank you at all adequately for your letter. When I had finished that book I felt that I cared more for what you and Mr Justice Holmes thought about it than for the opinion of any two living men; and to have you not merely think it worth while, but agree with it is a very big thing to me. So that if I merely thank you abruptly you will realise that it is not from any want of warmth.

I have ventured to send you my first book, which has probably all the vices of the book one writes at twenty-three; but you may be interested in the first chapter and the appendices. And if you'll allow me to, I'd like to send you some more technical papers of mine. But I don't want you to be bothered by their presence, and allow them to interfere with your work.

My interest in liberal Catholicism really dates from 1913 when I read Figgis' Churches in the Modern State at Oxford; and while I was writing my first book I came to see that, historically, die church and the State have changed places since the Reformation and that all the evils of unified ecclesiastical control are slowly becoming the technique of the modern State - if they have not already become so: it then struck me that the evil of this sovereignty could be shown fairly easily in the sphere of religion In its state-connection where men might still hesitate to admit it in the economic sphere. The second book tried to bridge the gap; and the book I'm trying now to write is really an attempt to explain the general problem of freedom in institutional terms. If by any lucky chance you have time to write I'd greatly like to send you its plan and have your opinion on it.

There is a more private thing about which I would like you to know In case you think there is a chance that you can help. I know from your Introduction to Mathematical Logic that you think well of Sheffer who is at present in the Philosophy Department here. I don't know if you have any personal acquaintance with him. He is a jew and he has married someone of whom the University does not approve; moreover he hasn't the social qualities that Harvard so highly prizes. The result is that most of his department is engaged on a determined effort to bring his career here to an end. Hoernle, who is at present its chairman, is certain that if someone can explain that Sheffer is worth while the talk against him would cease; and he's finished a paper on some aspect of mathematical logic that he himself feels will give him a big standing when it can get published. Myself I think that the whole thing is a combination of anti-semitism and that curious university worship of social prestige which plays so large a part over here. Do you know anyone at Harvard well enough to say (if you so think) that Sheffer ought to have a chance? Of course I write this entirely on my own responsibility but I'm very certain that if Lowell could know your opinion of Sheffer it would make a big difference to his future. And if he left here I think he would find it very difficult to get another post. Please forgive me for bothering you with these details.

I shall wait with immense eagerness for the Nation. I owe Massing-ham many debts; but none so great as this.

Believe me Yours very sincerely Harold J. Laski

From this time onward I used to send periodical cables to President Lowell, explaining that Sheffer was a man of the highest ability and that Harvard would be eternally disgraced if it dismissed Mm either because he was a Jew or because it disliked his wife. Fortunately these cables just succeeded in their object.

Harvard University Cambridge September 29, 1919

Dear Mr Russell

Thank you heartily for your letter. I am sending you some semilegal papers and a more general one on administration. The book I ventured to send you earlier. I am very grateful for your kindness in wanting them.

And I am still more grateful for your word on Sheffer. I have given it to Hoernle who will show it to the members of the Philosophy Department and, if necessary, to Lowell. And I have sent copies to two members of the Corporation who will fight if there is need. I don't think there is anything further to be done at the moment. It would do no good to write to Perry. These last years, particularly twelve months in the War Department of the us have made him very conservative and an eager adherent of 'correct form'. He is the head and centre of the enemy forces and I see no good in trying to move him directly. He wants respectable neo-Christians in the Department who will explain the necessity of ecclesiastical sanctions; or, if they are not religious, at least they must be materially successful. I don't think universities are ever destined to be homes of liberalism; and the American system is in the hands of big business and dominated by its grosser ideals. Did you ever read Veblen's Higher Learning in America?

You may be interested to know that I have a graduate class at Yale this term reading Roads to Freedom. I've never met Yale men before; but it was absorbingly interesting to see their amazement that Marx and Bakunin and the rest could be written of without abuse. Which reminds me that in any new edition of that book I wish you would say a good word for Proudhon! I think his Du Principe Fédératif and his Justice Dans La Révolution are two very great books.

And may I have a photograph with your name on it to hang in my study. That would be an act of genuine nobility on your part.

Yours very sincerely Harold J. Laski

Harvard University Cambridge November 2 1919

Dear Mr Russell

Many thanks for the photograph. Even if it is bad, it gives a basis to the imagination and that's what I wanted.

The matter with Perry is the war. He got converted to conscription, was at Washington with the educational(!) section of the War Office and became officialised. The result is that he looks aslant at all outside the 'correct' things much as a staff major who saw life from Whitehall and the Army and Navy dub. He still means well - all New Englanders do; but he has lost hold of Plato's distinction between willing what is right and knowing what it is right to will. I think he might be turned on Sheffer's side if Sheffer would get his paper out amid the applause of you and Whitehead and Lewis; but Sheffer is a finnicky little fellow and publication halts on his whims and fancies. I haven't given up hope, but I don't dare to hope greatly.

Yale is really interesting, or perhaps all youth, when one is twenty-six, is interesting. I find that when one presents the student-mind with syndicalism or socialism namelessly they take it as reasonable and obvious; attach the name and they whisper to the parents that nameless abominations are being perpetrated. I spoke for the striking police here the other day - one of those strikes which makes one equally wonder at the endurance of the men and the unimaginative stupidity of the officials. Within a week two papers and two hundred alumni demanded my dismissal - teaching sovietism was what urging that men who get $1100 and work 73 hours are justified in striking after 13 years agitation was called. As it happens Lowell does believe in freedom of speech, so that I stay; but you get some index to the present American state of mind.

Yours very sincerely Harold J. Laski

Harvard University Cambridge December 4 1919

Dear Mr Russell

Hoernle tells me that Sheffer's paper is on its way to you. May I tell you how the position stands? Hocking and Hoernle definitely fight for his reappointment. Perry wavers on account of Huntingdon's emphatic praise of Sheffer's work and says his decision will depend most largely on what you and Moore of Chicago feel. So if you do approve of it, the more emphatic your telegram the more helpful it will be. There is a real fighting chance at the moment.

Things here are in a terrible mess. Injunctions violating specific government promises; arrest of the miners' leaders because the men refused to go back; recommendation of stringent legislation against 'reds'; arrest of men in the West for simple possession of an IWW card; argument by even moderates like Eliot that the issue is a straight fight between labor and constitutional government; all these are in the ordinary course of events. And neither Pound nor I think the crest of the wave has been reached. Some papers have actually demanded that the Yale University Press withdraw my books from circulation because they preach 'anarchy'. On the other hand Holmes and Brandeis wrote (through Holmes) a magnificent dissent in defence of freedom of speech in an espionage act case. I've sent the two opinions to Massing-ham and suggested that he show them to you.

This sounds very gloomy; but since America exported Lady Astor to England there's an entire absence of political comedy.

Yours very sincerely Harold J. Laski

[Plus ça change.]

Harvard University Cambridge January 5, 1919 [1920]

Dear Mr Russell

It was splendid to have your telegram about Sheffer's paper. I am afraid we are fighting a lost battle as it looks as if Hoernle will go to Yale, which means the withdrawal of our main support. Harvard is determined to be socially respectable at all costs. I have recently been interviewed by the Board of Overseers to know (a) whether I believe in a revolution with blood (b) whether I believe in the Soviet form of government (c) whether I do not believe that the American form of government is superior to any other (d) whether I believe in the right of revolution.

In the last three days they have arrested five thousand socialists with a view to deportation. I feel glad that Graham Wallas is going to try and get me home!

Yours very sincerely Harold J. Laski

Harvard University Cambridge February 18th, 1920

Dear Mr Russell

Above all, warm congratulations on your return to Cambridge. That sounds like a real return of general sanity. I hope you will not confine your lectures to mathematical logic . . .

I sent you the other day a volume of Duglut's my wife and I translated last year; I hope you will find time to glance at it. I am very eager to get away from this country, as you guessed, but rather baffled as to how to do it. I see no hope in Oxford and I know no one at all in Cambridge. Wallas is trying to do something for me in London, but I don't know with what success. I am heartily sick of America and I would like to have an atmosphere again where an ox does not tread upon the tongue.

Yours very sincerely Harold Laski

16, Warwick Gardens [London] W.14 2.1.22

Dear Russell

This enclosure formally. Informally let me quote from Rivers: We asked him to stand as the labour candidate for London. This is part of his reply. 'I think that a distinct factor in my decision has been The Analysis of Mind which I have now read really carefully. It is a great book, and makes me marvel at his intellect. It has raised all kinds of problems with which I should like to deal, and I certainly should not be able to do so if I entered on a political life.

What about Rivers, Joad, Delisle Burns, Clifford Allen as the nucleus of our new utilitarians?

Yours H. J. Laskt

From Ludwig Wittgenstein [a postcard]

Cassino Provincia Caserta Italy 9.2.19

Dear Russell

I don't know your precise address but hope these lines will reach you somehow. I am prisoner in Italy since November and hope I may communicate with you after a three years interruption. I have done lots of logikal work which I am dying to let you know before publishing it.

Ever yours Ludwig Wittgenstein


Cassino 10.3.19

You cann't immagine how glad I was to get your cards! I am afEraid though there is no hope that we may meet before long. Unless you came to see me here, but this would be too much joy for me. I cann't write on Logic as I'm not allowed to write more than 2 Cards (15 lines each) a week. I've written a book which will be published as soon as I get home. I think I have solved our problems finaly. Write to me often. It will shorten my prison. God bless you.

Ever yours Wittgenstein


Dear Russell

Thanks so much lor your postcards dated 2nd and 3rd of March. I've had a very bad time, not knowing wether you were dead or alive! I cann't write on Logic as I'm not allowed to write more than two p.cs. a week (15 lines each). This letter is an ecception, it's posted by an Austrian medical student who goes home tomorrow. I've written a book called Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung containing all my work of the last 6 years. I believe I've solved our problems finally. This may sound arrogant but I cann't help believing it. I finished the book in August 1918 and two months after was made Prigioniere. I've got the manuscript here with me. I wish I could copy it out for you; but it's pretty long and I would have no safe way of sending it to you. In fact you would not understand it without a previous explanation as it's written in quite short remarks. (This of cours means that nobody will understand it; allthough I believe it's all as clear as crystall. But it upsets all our theory of truth, of classes, of numbers and all the rest.) I will publish it as soon as I get home. Now I'm affraid this won't be 'before long'. And consequently it will be a long time yet till we can meet. I can hardly immagine seeing you again! It will be too much! I supose it would be impossible for you to come and see me here? Or perhaps you think it's collossal cheek of me even to think of such a thing. But if you were on the other end of the world and I could come to you I would do it.

Please write to me how you are, remember me to Dr whitehead. Is old Johnson still alive? Think of me often!

Ever yours Ludwig Wittgenstein

[Cassino 12.6.19]

Lieber Russell!

Vor einigen Tagen schickte ich Dir mein Manuskript durch Keynes's Vermittelung. Ich schrieb damals nur ein paar Zeilen fuer Dich hinein. Seither ist nun Dein Buck ganz in meine Haende gelangt und nun haette ich ein grosses Beduerfnis Dir einiges zu schreiben. - Ich haette nicht geglaubt, dass das, was ich vor 6 Jahren in Norwegen dem Moore diktierte cm Dir so spurlos voruebergehen wuerde. Kurz ich fuerchte jetzt, es moechte sehr schzver fuer mich sein mich mit Dir zu verstaendigen. Und der geringe Rest von Hoffnung mein Manuskript koenne Dir etwas sagen, ist ganz verschwunden. Einen Komentar zu meinem Buch zu schreiben, bin ich we Du Dir denken kannst, nicht im Stande. Nur muendlich koennte ich Dir einen geben. Ist Dir irgend an dem Verstaendnis der Sache etwas gelegen und kannst Du ein Zusammentreffen mit mir bewerk- stelligen, so, bitte, tue es. - Ist dies nicht moeglich, so set so gut und schicke das Manuskript so bald Du es gelesen hast auf sicherem Wege nach Wien zurueck. Es ist das eiyzige korrigierte Exemplar, Welches ich besitze und die Arbeit meines Lebens! Mehr alsje brenne ich jetzt darauf es gedruckt zu sehen. Es ist bitter, das vollendete Werk in der Gefangenschaft herumschleppen zu muessen und zu sehen, wir der Unsinn draussen seiti Spiel treibt! Und ebenso bitter ist es zu denken dass niemand es verstehen wird, auch wenn es gedruckt sein wird! - Hast Du mirjemals seit Deinen zzuei ersten Karten geschrieben? Ich habe nichts erhalten.

Sei herzlickst gegruesst und glaube nicht, dass alles Dummheit ist was Du nicht verstehen wirst.

Dein treuer Ludwig Wittgenstein

[This and the following translations of Wittgenstein's letters in German are by B. F. McGuinness.]

[Cassino 12.6.19]

Dear Russell

Some days ago I sent you my manuscript, through Keynes's good offices. I enclosed only a couple of lines for you at the time. Since then your book has arrived here safely and I now feel a great need to write you a number of things. - I should never have believed that what I dictated to Moore in Norway six years ago would pass over you so completely without trace. In short, I am afraid it might be very difficult for me to reach an understanding with you. And my small remaining hope that my manuscript would convey something to you has now quite vanished. Writing a commentary on my book is out of the question for me, as you can imagine. I could only give you an oral one. If you attach any importance whatsoever to understanding the thing, and if you can arrange a meeting with me, please do so. - If that is impossible, then be so good as to send the manuscript back to Vienna by a safe route as soon as you have read it. It is the only corrected copy I possess and it is my life's work! I long to see it in print, now more than ever. It is bitter to have to lug the completed work around with me in captivity and to see nonsense rampant in the world outside. And it is just as bitter to think that no one will understand it even if it is printed! - Have you written to me at all since your first two cards? I have received nothing. Kindest regards, and don't suppose that everything that you won't be able to understand is a piece of stupidity!

Yours ever Ludwig Wittgenstein

Cassino 19.8.1919

Dear Russell

Thanks so much for your letter dated 13 August. As to your queries, I cann't answer them now. For firstly I don't know allways what the numbers refer to, having no copy of the MS here. Secondly some of your questions want a very lengthy answer and you know how difficult it is for me to write on logic. That's also die reason why my book is so short, and consequently so obscure. But that I cann't help. - Now I'm affraid you haven't realy got hold of my main contention, to which the whole business of logical props is only a corolary. The main point is the theory of what can be expressed (gesagt) by props - i.e. by linguage - (and, which comes to the same, what can be thought) and what can not be expressed by props, but only shown (gezeigt); which, I believe, is the cardinal problem of philosophy.

I also sent my MS to Frege. He wrote to me a week ago and I gather that he doesn't understand a word of it all. So my only hope is to see you soon and explain all to you, for it is very hard not to be understood by a single sole!

Now the day after tomorrow we shall probably leave the campo concentramento and go home. Thank God! - But how can we meet as soon as possible. I should like to come to England, but you can imagine that it's rather awkward for a German to travel to England now. (By far more so, than for an Englishman to travel to Germany.) But in feet I didn't think of asking you to come to Vienna now, but it would seem to me the best thing to meet in Holland or Svitserland. Of cors, if you cann't come abroad I will do my best to get to England. Please write to me as soon as possible about this point, letting me know when you are likely to get the permission of coming abroad. Please write to Vienna IV Alleegasse 16. As to my MS, please send it to the same address; but only if there is an absolutely safe way of sending it. Otherwise please keep it. I should be vary glad though, to get it soon, as it's the only corrected coppy I've got. - My mother wrote to me, she was very sorry not to have got your letter, but glad that you tried to write to her at all.

Now write soon. Best wishes.

Ever yours Ludwig Wittgenstein

P.S. After having finished my letter I feel tempted after all to answer some of your simpler points . . .1

1 The postscript to this letter has been omitted because of its technical nature. It can be found in Wittgenstein's Notebooks 1914-1916, pp. 129-30.


Lkber Russell!

Dank' Dir fuer Deinen lieben Brief! Ich habe jetzt eine Anstellung bekommen; und zwar ah Volksschullehrer in einem der kleinsten Doerfer; es heisst Trattenbach und liegt 4 Stunden suedlich von Wien im Gebirge. Es duerfte wok! das erste mal sein, dass der Volksschullehrer von Trattenbach nut einem Universitaetsprofessor in Peking korrespondiert. Wie geht es Dir vend was traegst Du vor? Philosophic? Dam wollte ich, ich koennte zukoeren und dann mit Dir streiten. Ich war bis vor kurzem schrecklich bedrueckt und lebensmuede, jetzt aber bin ich etteas hoffnwngsvoller und jetzt hoffe ich auch, doss wir uns wiedersehen werden.

Gott mit Dir I Und sei herzlichst gegruesst

von Deinem treuen Ludwig Wittgenstein


Dear Russell

Thank you for your kind letter. I have now obtained a position: I am to be an elementary-school teacher in a tiny village called Trattenbach. It's in the mountains, about four hours' journey south of Vienna. It must be the first time that the schoolmaster at Trattenbach has ever corresponded with a professor in Peking. How are you? And what are you lecturing on? Philosophy? If so, I wish I could be there and could argue with you afterwards. A short while ago I was terribly depressed and tired of living, but now I am slightly more hopeful, and one of the things I hope is that we'll meet again.

God be with you! Kindest regards.

Yours ever Ludwig Wittgenstein

[Trattenbach] 23.10.21

Lieber Russell!

Verzeih, dass ich Dir erst jetzt auf Deinen Brief aus China antworte. Ich habe ihn sehr verspaetet erhalten. Br traf tnich nicht in Trattenbach und tourde mir an verschiedene Orte nachgeschickt, ohm mich ttu erreichen. - Es tut mir sehr hid, dass Du krank worst; und gear sckwer! Wie geht es denn jetzt?! Bei mir hat sich nichts veraendert. Ich bin noch immer in Trattenbach und bin nach wie vor von Gehaessigkeit und Gemeinheit umgeben, Es ist wahr, dass die Mensckm im Durchschmtt nirgends sehr viel wert sind; aber hier sind sie viel mehr als ctnderswo nichtsnutsig und unverantwortlich. Ich werde vielleicht noch dieses Jahr in Trattenbach bleiben, aber laenger wohl nicht, da ich mich hier auch tnit dm uebrigen Lehrern nicht gut vertrage. (Vielleicht wird das mo anders auch nicht besser sein.) Ja, das waere schoen, werm Du mich einmal besuchen wolltest! Ich bin froh zu hoeren, dass mein Manuskript in Sicherheit ist, Wenn es gedruckt wird, wird's mir auch recht sein. -

Schreib mir bald ein paar Zeilen, tme es Dir geht, etc. etc.

Set herzlich gegruesst

von Deinem treuen Ludwig Wittgenstein

Empfiehl mich der Miss Black.

[Trattenbach] 23.10.21

Dear Russell

Forgive me for only now answering your letter from China. I got it after a very long delay. I wasn't in Trattenbach when it arrived and it was forwarded to several places before it reached me. - I am very sorry that you have been ill - and seriously All How are you now, then? As regards me, nothing has changed. I am still at Trattenbach, surrounded, as ever, by odiousness and baseness. I know that human beings on the average are not worth much anywhere, but here they are much more good-for-nothing and irresponsible than elsewhere. I will perhaps stay on in Trattenbach for the present year but probably not any longer, because I don't get on well here even with the other teachers (perhaps that won't be any better in another place). Yes, it would be nice indeed, if you would visit me sometime. I am glad to hear that my manuscript is in safety. And if it's printed, that will suit me too.

Write me a few lines soon, to say now you are, etc. etc.

Kindest regards Yours ever Ludwig Wittgenstein

Remember me to Miss Black.

[Trattenbach] 28.11.21

Lieber Russell!

Dank Dir vielmals fuer Deinen lieben Brief. Ehrlich gestanden: es freut mich, dass mein Zeug gedruckt wird. Wenn auch der Ostwald ein Erzscharlatan ist! Wenn er es nur nicht verstuemmelt! Liest Du die Korrekturen? Darm bitte sei so lieb und gib acht, dass er es genau so druckt, wie es bet mir steht. Ich traue dem Ostwald zu, dass er die Arbeit nach seinem Geschmack, etwa nach seiner bloedsinnigen Orthographies, varaendLcrt. Am liebsten ist es mir, dass die Sache in England erscheint. Moege sie der vielen Muehe die Du und andere mit ihr hatten wuerdig sein! -

Du hast recht: nicht die Traltenbacher allein sind schlechter, als alle uebrigen Menschen; wohl aber ist Trattenbach ein besonders minderwertiger Ort in Oesterreich und die Oesterreicher sind - seit dem Kreig — bodenlos lief gesunken, dass es zu traurig ist, davon zu reden I So ist es. - Wemt Du diese Zeilen kriegst, ist vielleicht schon Dein Kind auf dieser merkwuer-digen Welt. Also: ich gratuliere Dir und Deiner Frau herzlichst, Verzeih, dass ich so lange nicht geschrieben habe; auch ich bin etwas kraenklich und riesig beschaeftift. Bitte schreibe wieder einmal werm Du Zeit hast. Von Ostwald habe ich keinen Brief erhalten. Werm alles gut geht werde ich Dich mit tausend Freuden besuchen!

Herzlichste Gruesse Dein Ludwig Wittgenstein

[Trattenbach] 28.11.21

Dear Russell

Many thanks for your kind letter! I must admit I am pleased that my stuff is going to be printed. Even though Ostwald1 is an utter charlatan. As long as he doesn't tamper with it! Are you going to read the proofs? If so, please take care that he prints it exactly as I have it. He is quite capable of altering the work to suit his own tastes - putting it into his idiotic spelling, for example. What pleases me most is that the whole thing is going to appear in England. I hope it may be worth all the trouble that you and others have taken with it.

1 Wilhelm Ostwald, editor of Annalen der Naturphilosophic, where the Tractatus with my Introduction first appeared in 1921.

You are right: the Trattenbachers are not uniquely worse than the rest of the human race. But Trattenbach is a particularly insignificant place in Austria and the Austrians have sunk so miserably low since the war that it's too dismal to talk about. That's what it is.

By the time you get this letter your child will perhaps already have come into this remarkable world. So: warmest congratulations to you and your wife! Forgive me for not having written to you for so long. I too haven't been very well and I've been tremendously busy. Please write again when you have time. I have not had a letter from Ostwald. If all goes well, I will come and visit you with the greatest of pleasure.

Kindest regards Yours Ludwig Wittgenstein

From C. K. Ogden

The International Library of Psychology Nov. 5, 1921

Dear Russell

Kegan Paul ask me to give them some formal note for their files with regard to the Wittgenstein rights.

I enclose, with envelope for your convenience, the sort of thing I should like. As they can't drop less than £50 on doing it I think it very satisfactory to have got it accepted - though of course if they did a second edition soon and the price of printing went suddenly down they might get their costs back. I am still a little uneasy about the title and don't want to feel that we decided in a hurry on Philosophical Logic. If on second thoughts you are satisfied with it, we can go ahead with that. But you might be able to excogitate alternatives that I could submit.

Moore's Spinoza title which he thought obvious and ideal is no use if you feel Wittgenstein wouldn't like it. I suppose his sub specie aeterrci in the last sentences of the book made Moore think the contrary, and several Latin quotes. But as a selling title Philosophical Logic is better, if it conveys the right impression.

Looking rapidly over the off print in the train last night, I was amazed that Nicod and Miss Wrinch had both seemed to make so very little of it. The main lines seem so reasonable and intelligible - apart from the Types puzzles. I know you are frightfully busy just at present, but I should very much like to know why all this account of signs and symbols cannot best be understood in relation to a thoroughgoing causal theory. I mean the sort of thing in the enclosed: - on 'Sign Situations' (= Chapter II of the early Synopsis attached). The whole book which the publishers want to call The Meaning of Meaning is now passing through the press; and before it is too late we should like to have discussed it with someone who has seriously considered Watson. Folk here still don't think there is a problem of Meaning at all, and though your Analysis of Mind has disturbed them, everything still remains rather astrological.

With best wishes for, and love to the family,

Yours sincerely C. K. Ogden

P.S. On second thoughts, I think that as you would prefer Wittgenstein's German to appear as well as the English, it might help if you added the P.S. I have stuck in, and I will press them further if I can.1

1 This note now appears at the beginning of the Tractatus.

To Ottoline Morrell

Hotel Continental Stockholm 25th June 1920

Dearest O

I have got thus tar on my return, but boats are very fall and it may be a week before I reach England. I left Allen in a nursing home in Reval, no longer in danger, tho' twice he had been given up by the Doctors. Partly owing to his illness, but more because I loathed the Bolsheviks, the time in Russia was infinitely painful to me, in spite of being one of the most interesting things I have ever done. Bolshevism is a close tyrannical bureaucracy, with a spy system more elaborate and terrible than the Tsar's, and an aristocracy as insolent and unfeeling, composed of Americanised Jews. No vestige of liberty remains, in thought or speech or action. I was stifled and oppressed by the weight of the machine as by a cope of lead. Yet I think it the right government for Russia at this moment. If you ask yourself how Dostoevsky's characters should be governed, you will understand. Yet it is terrible. They are a nation of artists, down to the simplest peasant; the aim of the Bolsheviks is to make them industrial and as Yankee as possible. Imagine yourself governed in every detail by a mixture of Sidney Webb and Rufus Isaacs, and you will have a picture of modern Russia. I went hoping to find the promised land.

All love - I hope I shall see you soon.

Your B.

From Emma Goldman

Mrs E. G. Kerschner Bei Von Futtkamer Rudesheimerstr. 3 Wilmersdorf, Berlin July 8th [1922]

My dear Mr Russell

My niece forwarded your kind letter to her of June 17th. I should have replied earlier but I was waiting for her arrival, as I wanted to talk the matter over with her.

Thank you very much for your willingness to assist me. I daresay you will meet with very great difficulties. I understand that the British Foreign Office refused visés to such people as Max Eastman of the Liberator, and Lincoln Steffens, the journalist. It is not likely that the Government will be more gracious to me.

I was rather amused at your phrase 'that she will not engage in toe more violent forms of Anarchism?' I know, of course, that it has been my reputation that I indulged in such forms, but it has never been borne out by the facts. However, I should not want to gain my right of asylum in England or any country by pledging to abstain from the expression of my ideas, or the right to protest against injustice. The Austrian Government offered me asylum if I would sign such a pledge. Naturally, I refused. Life as we live it today is not worth much. I would not feel it was worth anything if I had to forswear what I believe and stand for.

Under these conditions, if it is not too great a burden, I would appreciate any efforts made in my behalf which would give me the right to come to England. For the present I will probably get an extension of my visé in Germany because I have had an offer to write a book on Russia from Harper Bros, of New York.

No, the Bolsheviki did not compel me to leave Russia. Much to my surprise they gave me passports. They have however made it difficult for me to obtain visés from other countries. Naturally they can not endure the criticism contained in the ten articles I wrote for the New York World, in April last, after leaving Russia.

Very sincerely yours Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman did at last acquire permission to come to England. A dinner was given in her honour at which I was present. When she rose to speak, she was welcomed enthusiastically; but when she sat down, there was dead silence. This was because almost the whole of her speech was against the Bolsheviks.

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