Chapter 14

Return to England

Crossing the Atlantic in the first half of 1944 was a complicated business. Peter and Conrad travelled on the Queen Mary at great speed but with extreme discomfort, in a ship completely crowded with young children and their mothers, all the mothers complaining of all the other children, and all the children causing the maximum trouble by conduct exposing them to the danger of falling into the sea. But of all this I knew nothing until I myself arrived in England. As for me, I was sent in a huge convoy which proceeded majestically at the speed of a bicycle, escorted by corvettes and aeroplanes. I was taking with me the manuscript of my History of Western Philosophy, and the unfortunate censors had to read every word of it lest it should contain information useful to the enemy. They were, however, at last satisfied that a knowledge of philosophy could be of no use to the Germans, and very politely assured me that they had enjoyed reading my book, which I confess I found hard to believe. Everything was surrounded with secrecy. I was not allowed to tell my friends when I was sailing or from what port. I found myself at last on a Liberty ship, making its maiden voyage. The Captain, who was a jolly fellow, used to cheer me up by saying that not more than one in four of the Liberty ships broke in two on its maiden voyage. Needless to say, the ship was American and the Captain, British. There was one officer who whole-heartedly approved of me. He was the Chief Engineer, and he had read The ABC of Relativity without knowing anything about its author. One day, as I was walking the deck with him, he began on the merits of this little book and, when I said that I was the author, his joy knew no limits. There was one other passenger, a business man, whom the ship's officers did not altogether like because they felt that he was young enough to fight. However, I found him pleasant and I quite enjoyed the three weeks of inactivity. There was considered to be no risk of submarines until we were approaching the coast of Ireland, but after that we were ordered to sleep in trousers. However, there was no incident of any kind. We were a few days from the end of our journey on D-day, which we learned about from the wireless. Almost the whole ship's crew was allowed to come and listen. I learned from the wireless the English for 'Allons, enfants de la patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé.' The English for it is: 'Well, friends, this is it.'

They decanted us at a small port on the northern shore of the Firth of Forth on a Sunday. We made our way with some difficulty to the nearest town, where I had my first glimpse of Britain in that war-time. It consisted, so far as I could see at that moment, entirely of Polish soldiers and Scotch girls, the Polish soldiers very gallant, and the Scotch girls very fascinated. I got a night train to London, arrived very early in the morning, and for some time could not discover what had become of Peter and Conrad. At last, after much frantic telephoning and telegraphing, I discovered that they were staying with her mother at Sidmouth, and that Conrad had pneumonia. I went there at once, and found to my relief, that he was rapidly recovering. We sat on the beach, listening to the sound of naval guns off Cherbourg.

Trinity College had invited me to a five-year lectureship and I had accepted the invitation. It carried with it a fellowship and a right to rooms in College. I went to Cambridge and found that the rooms were altogether delightful; they looked out on the bowling green, which was a mass of flowers. It was a relief to find that the beauty of Cambridge was undimmed, and I found the peacefulness of the Great Court almost unbelievably soothing. But the problem of housing Peter and Conrad remained. Cambridge was incredibly full, and at first the best that I could achieve was squalid rooms in a lodging house. There they were underfed and miserable, while I was living luxuriously in College. As soon as it became clear that I was going to get money out of my law-suit against Barnes,1 I bought a house at Cambridge, where we lived for some time.

1 Cf. page 464.

VJ-day and the General Election which immediately followed it occurred while we were living in this house. It was also there that I wrote most of my book on Human Knowledge, its Scope and Limits. I could have been happy in Cambridge, but the Cambridge ladies did not consider us respectable. I bought a small house at Ffestiniog in North Wales with a most lovely view. Then we took a flat in London. Though I spent much time in visits to the Continent for purposes of lecturing, I did no work of importance during these years. When, in 1949, my wife decided that she wanted no more of me, our marriage came to an end.

Throughout the forties and the early fifties, my mind was in a state of confused agitation on the nuclear question. It was obvious to me that a nuclear war would put an end to civilisation. It was also obvious that unless there were a change of policies in both East and West a nuclear war was sure to occur sooner or later. The dangers were in the back of my mind from the early 'twenties. But in those days, although a few learned physicists were appreciative of the coming danger, the majority, not only of men in the streets, but even of scientists, turned aside from the prospect of atomic war with a kind of easy remark that 'Oh, men will never be so foolish as that'. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 first brought the possibility of nuclear war to the attention of men of science and even of some few politicians. A few months after the bombing of the two Japanese cities, I made a speech In the House of Lords pointing out the likelihood of a general nuclear war and the certainty of its causing universal disaster if it occurred. I forecast and explained the making of nuclear bombs of far greater power than those used upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki, fusion as against the old fission bombs, the present hydrogen bombs in fact. It was possible at that time to enforce some form of control of these monsters to provide for their use for peaceful, not warlike, ends, since the arms race which I dreaded had not yet begun. If no controls were thought out, the situation would be almost out of hand. It took no great imagination to foresee this. Everybody applauded my speech; not a single Peer suggested that my fears were excessive. But all my hearers agreed that this was a question for their grandchildren. In spite of hundreds of thousands of Japanese deaths, nobody grasped that Britain had escaped only by luck and that in the next war she might be less fortunate. Nobody viewed it as an international danger which could only be warded off by agreement among the Great Powers. There was a certain amount of talk, but no action was taken. This easy-going attitude survives among the laity even down to the present day. Those who try to make you uneasy by talk about atom bombs are regarded as trouble-makers, as people to be avoided, as people who spoil the pleasure of a fine day by foolish prospects of improbable rain.

Against this careless attitude I, like a few others, used every opportunity that presented itself to point out the dangers. It seemed to me then, as it still seems to me, that the time to plan and to act in order to stave off approaching dangers is when they are first seen to be approaching. Once their progress is established, it is very much more difficult to halt it. I felt hopeful, therefore, when the Baruch Proposal was made by the United States to Russia. I thought better of it then, and of the American motives in making it, than I have since learned to think, but I still wish that the Russians had accepted it. However, the Russians did not. They exploded their first bomb in August, 1949, and it was evident that they would do all in their power to make themselves the equals of the United States in destructive - or, politely, defensive power. The arms race became inevitable unless drastic measures were taken to avoid it. That is why, in late 1948, I suggested that the remedy might be the threat of immediate war by the United States on Russia for the purpose of forcing nuclear disarmament upon her. I have given my reasons for doing this in an Appendix to my Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare. My chief defence of the view I held in 1948 was that I thought Russia very likely to yield to the demands of the West. This ceased to be probable after Russia had a considerable fleet of nuclear planes.

This advice of mine is still brought up against me. It is easy to understand why Communists might object to it. But the usual criticism Is that I, a pacifist, once advocated the threat of war. It seems to cut no ice that I have reiterated ad nauseum that I am not a pacifist, that I believe that some wars, a very few, are justified, even necessary. They are usually necessary because matters have been permitted to drag on their obviously evil way till no peaceful means can stop them. Nor do my critics appear to consider the evils that have developed as a result of the continued Cold War and that might have been avoided, along with the Cold War itself, had my advice to threaten war been taken in 1948. Had it been taken, the results remain hypothetical, but so far as I can see it is no disgrace, and shows no 'inconsistency' in my thought, to have given it.

None the less, at the time I gave this advice, I gave it so casually without any real hope that it would be followed, that I soon forgot I had given it. I had mentioned it in a private letter and again in a speech that I did not know was to be the subject of dissection by the press. When, later, the recipient of the letter asked me for permission to publish it, I said, as I usually do, without consideration of the contents, that if he wished he might publish it. He did so. And to my surprise I learned of my earlier suggestion. I had, also, entirely forgotten that it occurred in the above-mentioned speech. Unfortunately, in the meantime, before this incontrovertible evidence was set before me, I had hotly denied that I had ever made such a suggestion. It was a pity. It is shameful to deny one's own words. One can only defend or retract them. In this case I could, and did, defend them, and should have done so earlier but from a fault of my memory upon which from many years' experience I had come to rely too unquestioningly.

My private thoughts meanwhile were more and more disturbed. I became increasingly pessimistic and ready to try any suggested escape from the danger. My state of mind was like a very much exaggerated nervous fear such as people are apt to feel while a thunder-storm gathers on the horizon and has not yet blotted out the sun. I found it very difficult to remain sane or to reject any suggested measures. I do not think I could have succeeded in this except for the happiness of my private life.

For a few years I was asked yearly to give a lecture at the Imperial Defence College in Belgrave Square. But the invitations stopped coming after the lecture in which I remarked that, knowing that they believed you could not be victorious in war without the help of religion, I had read the Sermon on the Mount, but, to my surprise, could find no mention of H-bombs in it. My audience appeared to be embarrassed, as they were good Christians as well as, of course, warriors. But, for myself, I find the combination of Christianity with war and weapons of mass extinction hard to justify.

In 1948, the Western Powers endeavoured to create a union which should be the germ of a World Government. The Conservative Party approved and wished Britain to become a member. The Labour Party, after some hesitation, opposed the scheme, but left individual members free to support it or not, as they thought fit. I joined and made a possibly somewhat excessive attack upon one of the few Communists present at the international Congress assembled at The Hague to consider the scheme. In his speech he had maintained that Communists have a higher ethic than other men. This was just after the fall of the Democratic Government of Czechoslovakia and my remarks had the complete agreement of the bulk of the people present. The younger Masaryk's suicide as a result of his rough handling by the Communists had shocked us all, and almost all of us had the conviction that cooperation with the East was for the present impossible. I said: 'If you can persuade me that hounding your most eminent citizen to his death shows a higher ethical outlook than that of the West, I shall be prepared to support you, but, till that time comes, I shall do no such thing.'

Towards the end of the war, after my return to England, and for some time thereafter, the Government used me to lecture to the Forces. The Forces had become more pacific than I expected as the war a eared its end, and I remember that Laski and I were sent together on one occasion to speak to some of the air men. Laski was more radical than I was, and they all agreed with him. In the middle of my lecture I suddenly realised that half of my audience was creeping out of the hall and I wondered if I had offended them in some way more drastic than merely failing to be sufficiently radical. Afterwards, I was told that the men had been called away to combat the last of the German air raids against England.

At the time of the Berlin air lift, I was sent by the Government to Berlin to help to persuade the people of Berlin that it was worth while to resist Russian attempts to get the Allies out of Berlin. It was the first and only time that I have been able to parade as a military man. I was made a member of the armed forces for the occasion and given a military passport, which amused me considerably.

I had known Berlin well in the old days, and the hideous destruction that I saw at this time shocked me. From my window I could barely see one house standing. I could not discover where the Germans were living. This complete destruction was due partly to the English and partly to the Russians, and it seemed to me monstrous. Contemplation of the less accountable razing of Dresden by my own countrymen sickened me, I felt that when the Germans were obviously about to surrender that was enough, and that to destroy not only 135,000 Germans but also all their houses and countless treasures was barbarous.

I felt the treatment of Germany by the Allies to be almost incredibly foolish. By giving part of Germany to Russia and part to the West, the victorious Governments ensured the continuation of strife between East and West, particularly as Berlin was partitioned and there was no guarantee of access by die West to its part of Berlin except by air. They had imagined a peaceful co-operation between Russia and her Western allies, but they ought to have foreseen that this was not a likely outcome. As far as sentiment was concerned, what happened was a continuation of the war with Russia as the common enemy of the West. The stage was set for the Third World War, and this was done deliberately by the utter folly of Governments.

I thought the Russian blockade was foolish and was glad that it was unsuccessful owing to the skill of the British. At this time I was persona grata with the British Government because, though I was against nuclear war, I was also anti-Communist. Later I was brought around to being more favourable to Communism by the death of Stalin in 1953 and by the Bikini test in 1954; and I came gradually to attribute, more and more, the danger of nuclear war to the West, to the United States of America, and less to Russia. This change was supported by developments inside the United States, such as McCarthyism and the restriction of civil liberties.

I was doing a great deal of broadcasting for the various services of the BBC and they asked me to do one at the time of Stalin's death. As I rejoiced mightily in that event, since I felt Stalin to be as wicked as one man could be and to be the root evil of most of the misery and terror in, and threatened by, Russia, I condemned him in my broadcast and rejoiced for the world in his departure from the scene. I forgot the BBC susceptibilities and respectabilities. My broadcast never went on the air.

In the same year that I went to Germany, the Government sent me to Norway in the hope of inducing Norwegians to join an alliance against Russia. The place they sent me to was Trondheim. The weather was stormy and cold. We had to go by sea-plane from Oslo to Trondheim. When our plane touched down on the water it became obvious that something was amiss, but none of us in the plane knew what it was. We sat in the plane while it slowly sank. Small boats assembled round it and presently we were told to jump into the sea and swim to a boat which all the people in my part of the plane did. We later learned that all the nineteen passengers in the non-smoking compartment had been killed. When the plane had hit the water a hole had been made in the plane and the water had rushed in. I had told a friend at Oslo who was finding me a place that he must find me a place where I could smoke, remarking jocularly, 'If I cannot smoke, I shall die'. Unexpectedly, this turned out to be true. All those in the smoking compartment got out by the emergency exit window beside which I was sitting. We all swam to the boats which dared not approach too near for fear of being sucked under as the plane sank. We were rowed to shore to a place some miles from Trondheim and thence I was taken in a car to my hotel.

Everybody showed me the utmost kindness and put me to bed while my clothes dried. A group of students even dried my matches one by one. They asked if I wanted anything and I replied, 'Yes, a strong dose of brandy and a large cup of coffee'. The doctor, who arrived soon after, said that this was quite the right reply. The day was Sunday, on which day hotels in Norway were not allowed to supply liquor - a fact of which I was at the time unaware - but, as the need was medical, no objection was raised. Some amusement was caused when a clergyman supplied me with clerical clothing to wear till my clothes had dried. Everybody plied me with questions. A question even came by telephone from Copenhagen: a voice said, 'When you were in the water, did you not think of mysticism and logic?' 'No', I said. 'What did you think of?' the voice persisted. 'I thought the water was cold', I said and put down the receiver.

My lecture was cancelled as the man who had been intended to be the Chairman had been drowned. Students took me to a place in the nearby mountains where they had an establishment. In going and coming, they walked me about in the rain and I remarked that Trondheim was as wet out of the water as in it, a remark which seemed to please them. Apart from the rain, which turned to snow in the region of the mountains, I found Trondheim a pleasant place, but I was a little puzzled when I learnt that the Bishop pronounced the place one way and the Mayor another. I adopted the Bishop's pronunciation.

I was astonished by the commotion caused by my part in this adventure, Every phase of it was exaggerated. I had swum about one hundred yards, but I could not persuade people that I had not swum miles. True, I had swum in my great-coat and lost my hat and thrown my attache case into the sea. The latter was restored to me in the course of the afternoon - and is still in use - and the contents were dried out. When I returned to London the officials all smiled when they saw the marks of sea water on my passport. It had been in my attache case, and I was glad to recover it.

When I had returned to England in 1944, I found that in certain ways my outlook had changed. I enjoyed once more the freedom of discussion that prevailed in England, but not in America. In America, if a policeman addressed us, my young son burst into tears; and the same was true (mutatis mutandis) of university professors accused of speeding. The less fanatical attitude of English people diminished my own fanaticism, and I rejoiced in the feeling of home. This feeling was enhanced at the end of the forties when I was invited by the BBC to give the first course of Reith lectures, instead of being treated as a malefactor and allowed only limited access to the young. I admired more than ever the atmosphere of free discussion, and this influenced my choice of subject for the lectures, which was 'Authority and the Individual'. They were published in 1949 under that tide and were concerned very largely with the lessening of individual freedom which tends to accompany increase of industrialism. But, although this danger was acknowledged, very little was done either then or since to diminish the evils that it was bringing.

I proposed in these lectures to consider how we could combine that degree of individual initiative which is necessary for progress with the degree of social cohesion that is necessary for survival. This is a large subject, and the remarks that I shall make upon it here are no more than annotations on the lectures and sometimes expansions of subjects that have interested me since writing the book.

The problem comes down, in my view, to the fact that society should strive to obtain security and justice for human beings and, also, progress. To obtain these it is necessary to have an established framework, the State, but, also, individual freedom. And in order to obtain the latter, it is necessary to separate cultural matters from the Establishment. The chief matter in which security is desirable now is security of nations against hostile enemies, and to achieve this a world government must be established that is strong enough to hold sway over national governments in international matters.

Since no defence is possible for a single nation against a more powerful nation or a group of such nations, a nation's safety in international matters must depend upon outside protection. Aggression against a single nation by another nation or group of nations must be opposed by international law and not left to the wilful initiative of some warlike State. If this is not done, any State may at any moment be totally destroyed. Changes in weapons may frequently alter the balance of power. It happened, for example, between France and England in the fifteenth century when the Powers ceased to defend castles and came to depend upon moving armies with artillery. This put an end to the feudal anarchy which had until then been common. In like manner, nuclear weapons must, if peace is to exist, put an end to war between nations and introduce the practical certainty of victory for an international force in any possible contest. The introduction of such a reform is difficult since it requires that the international Power should be so armed as to be fairly certain of victory in warfare with any single State.

Apart from this connection with the dangers of war now that weapons of mass destruction were being developed, these lectures were important in my own life because they give the background of a subject which has absorbed me in one way and another, especially since 1914: the relation of an individual to the State, conscientious objection, civil disobedience.

The prevention of war is essential to individual liberty. When war is imminent or actually in progress various important liberties are curtailed and it is only in a peaceful atmosphere that they can be expected to revive. As a rule, the interference with liberty goes much further than is necessary, but this is an inevitable result of panic fear. When Louis XVI's head was cut off other monarchs felt their heads insecure. They rushed to war and punished all sympathy with the French Revolution. The same sort of thing, sometimes in a less violent form, happened when Governments were terrified by the Russian Revolution. If the individual is to have all the liberty that is his due, he must be free to advocate whatever form of government he considers best, and this may require the protection of an international authority, especially since nuclear weapons have increased the power of nations to interfere with each other's internal affairs. Individual liberty in war-time should extend to personal participation in war.

In the course of these lectures, I gave a brief resume of me growth and decay of governmental power. In the great days of Greece there was not too much of it: great men were free to develop their capacities while they lived, but wars and assassinations often cut short their labours. Rome brought order, but at the same time brought a considerable degree of eclipse to the achievement of individuals. Under the Empire, individual initiative was so curtailed as to be incapable of resisting new attacks from without. For a thousand years after the fall of Rome, there was too little authority and also too little individual initiative. Gradually, new weapons, especially gunpowder, gave strength to governments and developed the modern State. But with this came excessive authority. The problem of preserving liberty in a world of nuclear weapons is a new one and one for which men's minds are not prepared. Unless we can adapt ourselves to a greater search for liberty than has been necessary during the last few centuries, we shall sink into private lethargy and fall a prey to public energy.

It is especially as regards science that difficult problems arise. The modern civilised State depends upon science in a multitude of ways. Generally, there is old science, which is official, and new science, which elderly men look upon with horror. This results in a continual battle between old men, who admire the science of their fathers, and the young men who realise the value of their contemporaries' work. Up to a point this struggle is useful, but beyond that point it is disastrous. In the present day, the most important example of it is the population explosion, which can only be combated by methods which to the old seem impious.

Some ideals are subversive and cannot well be realised except by war or revolution. The most important of these is at present economic justice. Political justice had its day in industrialised parts of the world and is still to be sought in the unindustrialised parts, but economic justice is still a painfully sought goal. It requires a world-wide economic revolution if it is to be brought about. I do not see how it is to be achieved without bloodshed or how the world can continue patiently without it. It is true that steps are being taken in some countries, particularly by limiting the power of inheritance, but these are as yet very partial and very limited. Consider the vast areas of the world where the young have little or no education and where adults have not the capacity to realise elementary conditions of comfort. These inequalities rouse envy and are potential causes of great disorder. Whether the world will be able by peaceful means to raise the conditions of the poorer nations is, to my mind, very doubtful, and is likely to prove the most difficult governmental problem of coming centuries.

Very difficult problems are concerned with the inroads of war against liberty. The most obvious of these is conscription. Military men, when there is war, argue that it cannot be won unless all men on our side are compelled to fight. Some men will object, perhaps on religious grounds or, possibly, on the ground that the work they are doing is more useful than fighting. On such a matter there is liable to be, or at any rate there ought to be, a division between the old and the young. The old will say they are too aged to fight, and many of the young ought to say that their work is more useful towards victory than fighting.

The religious objection to taking part in warfare is more widespread. Civilised people are brought up to think it is wicked to kill other people, and some do not admit that a state of war puts an end to this ethical command. The number who hold this view is not very large, and I doubt whether any war has ever been determined by their action. It is good for a community to contain some people who feel the dictates of humanity so strongly that even in war-time they still obey them. And, apart from this argument, it is barbarous to compel a man to do acts which he considers wicked. We should all admit this if a law were proposed to punish a man for being a vegetarian, but when it is a human being whose life is at stake, we begin to wonder whether he is a friend or an enemy and, if the latter, we think we are justified in compelling the law to punish him.

In addition to those who consider all war wrong, there are those who object to the particular war that they are asked to fight. This happened with many people at the time of the Korean War and later in regard to the Vietnam War. Such people are punished if they refuse to fight. The law not only punishes those who condemn all war, but also those who condemn any particular war although it must be obvious that in any war one side, at least, is encouraging evil. Those who take this position of objecting to a certain war or a certain law or to certain actions of governments may be held justified because it is so doubtful that they are not justified. Such considerations, it will be said, since they condemn the punishment of supposed malefactors, throw doubt upon the whole criminal law. I believe this is true and I hold that every condemned criminal incurs a certain measure of doubt, sometimes great and sometimes small. This is admitted when it is an enemy who is tried, as in the Nuremberg Trials. It was widely admitted that the Nuremberg prisoners would not have been condemned if they had been tried by Germans. The enemies of the German Government would have punished with death any soldier among themselves who had practised the sort of civil disobedience the lack of which among Germans they pleaded as an excuse for condemning Germans. They refused to accept the plea made by many of those whom they condemned that they had committed criminal acts only under command of those in superior authority. The judges of Nuremberg believed that the Germans should have committed civil disobedience in the name of decency and humanity. This is little likely to have been their view if they had been judging their own countrymen and not their enemies. But I believe it is true of friend as well as foe. The line between proper acceptable civil disobedience and inacceptable civil disobedience comes, I believe, with the reason for it being committed - the seriousness of the object for which it is committed and the profundity of the belief in its necessity.

Some years before I gave the Reith Lectures, my old professor and friend and collaborator in Principia Mathematical A. N. Whitehead, had been given the om. Now, by the early part of 1949, I had become so respectable in the eyes of the Establishment that it was felt that I, too, should be given the om. This made me very happy for, though I dare say it would surprise many Englishmen and most of the English Establishment to hear it, I am passionately English, and I treasure an honour bestowed on me by the Head of my country. I had to go to Buckingham Palace for the official bestowal of it. The King was affable, but somewhat embarrassed at having to behave graciously to so queer a fellow, a convict to boot. He remarked, 'You have sometimes behaved in a way which would not do if generally adopted'. I have been glad ever since that I did not make the reply that sprang to my mind: 'Like your brother.' But he was thinking of things like my having been a conscientious objector, and I did not feel that I could let this remark pass in silence, so I said: 'How a man should behave depends upon his profession. A postman, for instance, should knock at all the doors in a street at which he has letters to deliver, but if anybody else knocked on all the doors, he would be considered a public nuisance.' The King, to avoid answering, abruptly changed the subject by asking me whether I knew who was the only man who had both the kg and the om. I did not know, and he graciously informed me that it was Lord Portal. I did not mention that he was my cousin.

In the February of that year I had been asked to give an address, which I called 'L'Individu et l'Etat Moderne', at the Sorbonne. In the course of it I spoke warmly and in most laudatory terms of Jean Nicod, the brilliant and delightful young mathematician who died in 1924.1 I was very glad after the lecture that I had done so, for I learnt that, unknown to me, his widow had been in the audience.

1 Cf. page 327.

At the end of June, 1950, I went to Australia in response to an invitation by the Australian Institute of International Affairs to give lectures at various universities on subjects connected with the Cold War. I interpreted this subject liberally and my lectures dealt with speculation about the future of industrialism. There was a Labour Government there and, in spite of the fact that the hatred and fear of China and, especially, Japan, was understandably fierce, things seemed better and more hopeful than they appeared to become in the following sixteen years. I liked the people and I was greatly impressed by the size of the country and the fact that ordinary private conversations, gossips, were conducted by radio. Because of the size, too, and people's relative isolation, the libraries and bookshops were impressively numerous and good, and people read more than elsewhere. I was taken to the capitals, and to Alice Springs which I wanted to see because it was so isolated. It was a centre for agriculture and inhabited chiefly by sheep owners. I was shown a fine gaol where I was assured that the cells were comfortable. In reply to my query as to why, I was told: 'Oh, because all the leading citizens at one time or another are in gaol.' I was told that, expectedly and regularly, whenever possible, they stole each other's sheep.

I visited all parts of Australia except Tasmania. The Korean War was in full swing, and I learnt to my surprise that the northern parts of Queensland had, when war broke out, been evacuated, but were again inhabited when I was there.

The Government, I found, treated the Aborigines fairly well, but the police and the public treated them abominably. I was taken by a public official whose duty it was to look after Aborigines to see a village in which all the inhabitants were native Australians. One complained to us that he had had a bicycle which had been stolen, and he displayed marked unwillingness to complain to the police about it. I asked my conductor why, and he explained that any native who appealed to the police would be grossly ill-treated by than. I observed, myself, that white men generally spoke abusively to the Aborigines.

My other contact with the Government concerned irrigation. There is a chain of hills called 'Snowy Mountains' and there was a Federal scheme to utilise these mountains for purposes of irrigation. When I was there the scheme was bogged down by the operation of States which would not benefit by it. A scheme was being pushed to advocate the proposed irrigation on the grounds of defence rather than of irrigation, thus avoiding conflicts of States which are a standard problem in Australian politics. I spoke in favour of this scheme.

I was kept very busy making speeches and being interviewed by journalists and, at the end of my stay, I was presented with a beautifully bound book of press cuttings which I cherish, though I do not like much of what the journalists report me as saying of myself. I had advocated birth control on some occasion and naturally the Roman Catholics did not approve of me, and the Archbishop of Melbourne said publicly that I had been at one time excluded from the United States by the United States Government. This was not true; and I spoke of suing him, but a group of journalists questioned him on the point and he admitted his error publicly, which was a disappointment, since it meant that I had to relinquish the hope of receiving damages from an Archbishop.

On my way home to England my plane stopped at Singapore and Karachi and Bombay and other places. Though I was not permitted to visit any of these places, beyond their airports, as the plane did not stop long enough, I was called upon to make radio speeches. Later, I saw from a cutting from The Sydney Morning Herald for August 26th, an account of my speech at Singapore. It reported my saying: 'I think that Britain should withdraw gracefully from Asia, as she did in India, and not wait to be driven out in the event of a war... In this way goodwill will be won and a neutral Asian bloc could be formed under the leadership of Pandit Nehru. This is the best thing that can happen now, and the strongest argument in its favour is that it would be a strategic move.' This, though unheeded, seems to me to have been good advice.

Soon after my return from Australia. I went again to the United States. I had been asked to 'give a short course' in philosophy for a month at Mt Holyoak College, a well-known college for women in New England. From there I went to Princeton where I, as usual, delivered a lecture and again met various old friends, among them Einstein. There I received the news that I was to be given a Nobel Prize. But the chief memory of this visit to America is of the series of three lectures that I gave on the Matchette Foundation at Columbia University. I was put up in luxury at the Plaza Hotel and shepherded about by Miss Julie Medlock, who had been appointed by Columbia to bear-lead me. Her views on international affairs were liberal and sympathetic and we have continued to discuss them, both by letter and when she visits us as she sometimes does.

My lectures, a few months later, appeared with other lectures that I had given originally at Ruskin College, Oxford, and the Lloyd Roberts Lecture that I had given in 1949 at the Royal Society of Medicine, London, as the basis of my book called The Impact of Science on Society. The title is the same as that of the three lectures that Columbia University published separately, which is unfortunate as it causes bewilderment for bibliographers and is sometimes a disappointment to those who come upon only the Columbia publication.

I was astonished that, in New York, where I had been, so short a time before, spoken of with vicious obloquy, my lectures seemed to be popular and to draw crowds. This was not surprising, perhaps, at the first lecture, where the audience might have gathered to have a glimpse of so horrid a character, hoping for shocks and scandal and general rebelliousness. But what amazed me was that the hall should have been packed with enthusiastic students in increasing numbers as the lectures proceeded. There were so many that crowds of those who came had to be turned away for lack of even standing room. I think it also surprised my hosts.

The chief matter with which I was concerned was the increase of human power owing to scientific knowledge. The gist of my first lecture was contained in the following sentence: 'It is not by prayer and humility that you cause things to go as you wish, but by acquiring a knowledge of natural laws.' I pointed out that the power to be acquired in this way is very much greater than the power that men formerly sought to achieve by theological means. The second lecture was concerned with the increase of power men achieve by the application of scientific technique. It begins with gunpowder and the mariners' compass. Gunpowder destroyed the power of castles and the mariners' compass created the power of Europe over other parts of the world. These increases of governmental power were important, but the new power brought by the Industrial Revolution was more so. I was largely concerned in this lecture with the bad effect of early industrial power and with the dangers that will result if any powerful State adopts scientific breeding. From this I went on to the increase of the harmfulness of war when scientific methods are employed. This is, at present, the most important form of the application of science in our day. It threatens the destruction of the human race and, indeed, of all living beings of larger than microscopic size. If mankind is to survive, the power of making scientific war will have to be concentrated in a supreme State. But this is so contrary to men's mental habits that, as yet, the great majority would prefer to run the risk of extermination. This is the supreme danger of our age. Whether a World Government will be established in time or not is the supreme question. In my third lecture I am concerned chiefly with certain views as to good and evil from which I dissent although many men consider that they alone are scientific. The views in question are that the good is identical with the useful. I ended these lectures with an investigation of the kind of temperament which must be dominant if a happy world is to be possible. The first requisite, I should say, is absence of dogmatism, since dogmatism almost inevitably leads to war. I will quote the paragraph summing up what I thought necessary if the world is to be saved: 'There are certain things that our age needs, and certain things that it should avoid. It needs compassion and a wish that mankind should be happy; it needs the desire for knowledge and the determination to eschew pleasant myths; it needs, above all, courageous hope and the impulse to creativeness. The things that it must avoid and that have brought it to the brink of catastrophe are cruelty, envy, greed, competitiveness, search for irrational subjective certainty, and what Freudians call the death wish.'

I think I was mistaken in being surprised that my lectures were liked by the audience. Almost any young academic audience is liberal and likes to hear liberal and even quasi-revolutionary opinions expressed by someone in authority. They like, also any jibe at any received opinion, whether orthodox or not: for instance, I spent some time making fun of Aristotle for saying that the bite of the shrewmouse is dangerous to a horse, especially if the shrewmouse is pregnant. My audience was irreverent and so was I. I think this was the main basis of their liking of my lectures. My unorthodoxy was not confined to politics. My trouble in New York in 1940 on sexual morals had blown over but had left in any audience of mine an expectation that they would hear something that the old and orthodox would consider shocking. There were plenty of such items in my discussion of scientific breeding. Generally, I had the pleasant experience of being applauded on the very same remarks which had caused me to be ostracized on the earlier occasion.

I got into trouble with a passage at the tail end of my last Columbia lecture. In this passage, I said that what the world needs is 'love, Christian love, or compassion'. The result of my use of the word 'Christian' was a deluge of letters from Free-thinkers deploring my adoption of orthodoxy, and from Christians welcoming me to the fold. When, ten years later, I was welcomed by the Chaplain to Brixton Prison with the words, 'I am glad that you have seen the light', I had to explain to him that this was an entire misconception, that my view, were completely unchanged and that what he called seeing the light I should call groping in darkness. I had thought it obvious that, when I spoke of Christian love, I put in the adjective 'Christian' to distinguish it from sexual love, and I should certainly have supposed that the context made this completely clear. I go on to say that, 'If you feel this you have a motive for existence, a guide in action, a reason for courage, and an imperative necessity for intellectual honesty. If you feel this, you have all that anybody should need in the way of religion.' It seems to me totally inexplicable that anybody should think the above words a description of Christianity, especially in view, as some Christians will remember, of how very rarely Christians have shown Christian love. I have done my best to console those who are not Christians for the pain that I unwittingly caused them by a lax use of the suspect adjective. My essays and lectures on the subject have been edited and published in 1957 by Professor Paul Edwards along with an essay by him on my New York difficulties of 1940, under the title Why I am not a Christian.

When I was called to Stockholm, at the end of 1950, to receive the Nobel Prize - somewhat to my surprise, for literature, for my book Marriage and Morals - I was apprehensive, since I remembered that, exactly three hundred years earlier, Descartes had been called to Scandinavia by Queen Christina in the winter time and had died of the cold. However, we were kept warm and comfortable, and instead of snow, we had rain, which was a slight disappointment. The occasion, though very grand, was pleasant and I enjoyed it. I was sorry for another prize winner who looked utterly miserable and was so shy that he refused to speak to anyone and could not make himself heard when he had to make his formal speech as we all had to do. My dinner companion was Madame Joliot-Curie and I found her talk interesting. At the evening party given by the King, an Aide-de-Camp came to say that the King wished to talk with me. He wanted Sweden to join with Norway and Denmark against the Russians. I said that it was obvious, if there were a war between the West and the Russians, the Russians could only get to Norwegian ports through and over Swedish territory. The King approved of this observation. I was rather pleased, too, by my speech, especially by the mechanical sharks, concerning whom I said: 'I think every big town should contain artificial waterfalls that people could descend in very fragile canoes, and they should contain bathing pools full of mechanical sharks. Any person found advocating a preventive war should be condemned to two hours a day with these ingenious monsters.' I found that two or three fellow Nobel prizewinners listened to what I had to say and considered it not without importance. Since then I have published it in Part II of my book Human Society in Ethics and Politics and a gramophone record has been made of it in America. I have heard that it has affected many people more than I had thought which is gratifying.

1950, beginning with the om and ending with the Nobel Prize, seems to have marked the apogee of my respectability. It is true that I began to feel slightly uneasy, fearing that this might mean the onset of blind orthodoxy. I have always held that no one can be respectable without being wicked, but so blunted was my moral sense that I could not see in what way I had sinned. Honours and increased income which began with the sales of my History of Western Philosophy gave me a feeling of freedom and assurance that let me expend all my energies upon what I wanted to do. I got through an immense amount of work and felt, in consequence, optimistic and full of zest. I suspected that I had too much emphasised, hitherto, the darker possibilities threatening mankind and that it was time to write a book in which the happier issues of current disputes were brought into relief. I called this book New Hopes for a Changing World and deliberately, wherever there were two possibilities, I emphasised that it might be the happier one which would be realised. I did not suggest that either the cheerful or the painful alternative was the more probable, but merely that it is impossible to know which would be victorious. The book ends with a picture of what the world may become if we so choose, I say: 'Man, in the long ages since he descended from the trees, has passed arduously and perilously through a vast dusty desert, surrounded by the whitening bones of those who have perished by the way, maddened by hunger and thirst, by fear of wild beasts, by dread of enemies, not only living enemies, but spectres of dead rivals projected on to the dangerous world by the intensity of his own fears. At last he has emerged from the desert into a smiling land, but in the long night he has forgotten how to smile. We cannot believe in the brightness of the morning. We think it trivial and deceptive; we cling to old myths that allow us to go on living with fear and hate - above all, hate of ourselves, miserable sinners. This is folly. Man now needs for his salvation only one thing: to open his heart to joy, and leave fear to gibber through the glimmering darkness of a forgotten past. He must lift up his eyes and say: "No, I am not a miserable sinner; I am a being who, by a long and arduous road, have discovered how to make intelligence master natural obstacles, how to live in freedom and joy, at peace with myself and therefore with all mankind." This will happen if men choose joy rather than sorrow. If not, eternal death will bury man in deserved oblivion.'

But my disquietude grew. My inability to make my fellow men see the dangers ahead for them and all mankind weighed upon me. Perhaps it heightened my pleasures as pain sometimes does, but pain was there and increased with my increasing awareness of failure to make others share a recognition of its cause. I began to feel that New Hopes for a Changing World needed fresh and deeper examination and I attempted to make this in my book Human Society in Ethics and Politics, the end of which, for a time, satisfied my craving to express my fears in an effective form.

What led me to write about ethics was the accusation frequently brought against me that, while I had made a more or less sceptical inquiry into other branches of knowledge, I had avoided the subject of ethics except in an early essay expounding Moore's Principia Ethica. My reply is that ethics is not a branch of knowledge. I now, therefore, set about the task in a different way. In the first half of the book, I dealt with the fundamental concepts of ethics; in the second part, I dealt with the application of these concepts in practical politics. The first part analyses such concepts as moral codes; good and bad, sin, superstitious ethics, and ethical sanctions. In all these I seek for an ethical element in subjects which are traditionally labelled ethical. The conclusion that I reach is that ethics is never an independent constituent, but is reducible to politics in the last analysis. What are we to say, for example, about a war in which the parties are evenly matched? In such a context each side may claim that it is obviously in the right and that its defeat would be a disaster to mankind. There would be no way of proving this assertion except by appealing to other ethical concepts such as hatred of cruelty or love of knowledge or art. You may admire the Renaissance because they built St Peter's, but somebody may perplex you by saying that he prefers St Paul's. Or, again, the war may have sprung from lies told by one party which may seem an admirable foundation to the contest until it appears that there was equal mendacity on the other side. To arguments of this sort there is no purely rational conclusion. If one man believes that the earth is round and another believes that it is flat, they can set off on a joint voyage and decide the matter reasonably. But if one believes in Protestantism and the other in Catholicism, there is no known method of reaching a rational conclusion. For such reasons, I had come to agree with Santayana that there is no such thing as ethical knowledge. Nevertheless, ethical concepts have been of enormous importance in history, and I could not but feel that a survey of human affairs which omits ethics is inadequate and partial.

I adopted as my guiding thought the principle that ethics is derived from passions and that there is no valid method of travelling from passion to what ought to be done. I adopted David Hume's maxim that 'Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions'. I am not satisfied with this, but it is the best that I can do. Critics are fond of charging me with being wholly rational and this, at least, proves that I am not entirely so. The practical distinction among passions comes as regards their success: some passions lead to success in what is desired; others, to failure. If you pursue the former, you will be happy; if the latter, unhappy. Such, at least, will be the broad general rule. This may seem a poor and tawdry result of researches into such sublime concepts as 'duty', 'self-denial', 'ought', and so forth, but I am persuaded that it is the total of the valid outcome, except in one particular: we feel that the man who brings widespread happiness at the expense ol misery to himself is a better man than the man who brings unhappiness to others and happiness to himself. I do not know any rational ground for this view, or perhaps, for the somewhat more rational view that whatever the majority desires is preferable to what the minority desires. These are truly ethical problems, but I do not know of any way in which they can be solved except by politics or war. All that I can find to say on this subject is that an ethical opinion can only be defended by an ethical axiom, but, if the axiom is not accepted, there is no way of reaching a rational conclusion.

There is one approximately rational approach to ethical conclusions which has a certain validity. It may be called the doctrine of compossibility. This doctrine is as follows: among the desires that a man finds himself to possess, there are various groups, each consisting of desires which may be gratified together and others which conflict. You may, for example, be a passionate adherent of the Democratic Party, but it may happen that you hate the presidential candidate. In that case, your love of the Party and your dislike of the individual are not compossible. Or you may hate a man and love his son. In that case, if they always travel about together, you will find them, as a pair, not compossible. The art of politics consists very largely in finding as numerous a group of compossible people as you can. The man who wishes to be happy will endeavour to make as large groups as he can of compossible desires the rulers of his life. Viewed theoretically, such a doctrine affords no ultimate solution. It assumes that happiness is better than unhappiness. This is an ethical principle incapable of proof. For that reason, I did not consider compossibility a basis for ethics.

I do not wish to be thought coldly indifferent to ethical considerations. Man, like the lower animals, is supplied by nature with passions and has a difficulty in fitting these passions together, especially if he lives in a close-knit community. The art required for this is the art of politics. A man totally destitute of this art would be a savage and incapable of living in civilised society. That is why I have called my book Human Society in Ethics and Politics.

Though the reviews of the book were all that could be hoped, nobody paid much attention to what I considered most important about it, the impossibility of reconciling ethical feelings with ethical doctrines. In the depths of my mind this dark frustration brooded constantly. I tried to intersperse lighter matters into my thoughts, especially by writing stories which contained an element of fantasy. Many people found these stories amusing, though some found them too stylised for their taste. Hardly anyone seems to have found them prophetic.

Long before this, in the beginning of the century, I had composed various stones and, later, I made up stones for my children to while away the tedious climb from the beach to our house in Cornwall. Some of the latter have since been written down, though never published. In about 1912, I had written a novel, in the manner of Mallock's New Republic, called The Perplexities of John Forstice. Though the first half of it I still think is not bad, the latter half seems very dull to me, and I have never made any attempt to publish it. I also invented a story that I never published.

From the time when Rutherford first discovered the structure of the atom, it had been obvious that sooner or later atomic force would become available in war. This had caused me to foresee the possibility of the complete destruction of man through his own folly. In my story a pure scientist makes up a little machine which can destroy matter throughout the universe. He has known hitherto only his own laboratory and so he decides that, before using his machine, he must find out whether the world deserves to be destroyed. He keeps his little machine in his waistcoat pocket and if he presses the knob the world will cease to exist. He goes round the world examining whatever seems to him evil, but everything leaves him in doubt until he finds himself at a Lord Mayor's Banquet and finds the nonsense talked by politicians unbearable. He leaps up and announces that he is about to destroy the world. The other diners rush at him to stop him. He puts his thumb in his waistcoat pocket - and finds that in changing for dinner he forgot to move the little machine.

I did not publish this story at the time as it seemed too remote from reality. But, with the coming of the atom bomb, its remoteness from reality vanished, so I wrote other stories with a similar moral, some of which ended in atomic destruction, while others, which I called 'nightmares', exemplified the hidden fears of eminent men.

The writing of these stories was a great release of my hitherto unexpressed feelings and of thoughts which could not be stated without mention of fears that had no rational basis. Gradually their scope-widened. I found it possible to express in this fictional form dangers that would have been deemed silly while only a few men recognised them. I could state in fiction ideas which I half believed in but had no good solid grounds for believing. In this way it was possible to warn of dangers which might or might not occur in the near future.

My first book of stories was Satan in the Suburbs. The title story was in part suggested to me by a stranger whom I met in Mortlake and who, when he saw me, crossed the road and made the sign of the Cross as he went. It was partly, also, suggested by a poor mad lady who I used to meet on my walks. In this story there was a wicked scientist who by subtle means caused people, after one lapse from virtue, to plunge into irretrievable ruin. One of these people was a photographer who made photography an opportunity for blackmail. I modelled him upon a fashionable photographer who had come to make a picture of me. He died shortly afterwards, and I then learnt that he practised all the sins of which I had accused him in the story. In one of the other stories, the hero proclaims a curse in which he mentions Zoroaster and the Beard of The Prophet. I got an indignant letter from a Zoroastrian saying how dare I make fun of Zoroaster. This story I had written, as a warning of what might befall her, for my secretary (a completely innocent young woman) who was about to go to Corsica on a holiday. It was published anonymously in a magazine with a prize offered for guessing the authorship. Nobody guessed right. One of the characters in the story is General Prz to whose name there is a footnote saying, 'pronounced Pish', and the prize was given to a man who wrote to the magazine: 'This is Trz (pronounced Tosh).' Another story portrayed a fight to the death between human beings and Martians. In this there is an eloquent appeal in the style of Churchill, calling upon all human beings to forget their differences and rise in defence of MAN. I had great fun proclaiming this speech, as nearly as possible in Churchill's manner, for a gramophone record.

A year later, I wrote another series of stories which I called Nightmares of Eminent Persons. These were intended to illustrate the secret fears that beset the Great while they sleep. A long short story that I published with Nightmares is called 'Zahatopolk' and concerns the hardening of what begins as a career of freedom of thought in to a hard persecuting orthodoxy. This has hitherto been the fete of all the great religions; and how it is to be avoided in the future I do not know. When my secretary was typing the story she reached the point where the semi-divine king makes a sacrificial breakfast of a lovely lady. I went in to see how she was getting on and found her gibbering in terror. Various people have dramatised this story both for film and theatre production, as they have others that occur in my writings, but, when it has come to the point, no one has been willing to produce them or I have been unwilling to have them produced because of the particular dramatisation, sometimes offensively frivolous. I regret this and regret especially that none of the Nightmares have been made into ballets. Various of the stories pose, and occasionally answer, various questions that I should like to call to people's attention.

I had an amusing experience with one of the Nightmares while I was composing it. The hero was a Frenchman who lamented his sad fate in French verse. One evening at dinner in the Ecu de France I started to declaim his last words in what I hoped was the best French classical style. The restaurant, being French, had a clientele mainly composed of Frenchmen. Most of them turned round and gazed at me in astonishment, then whispered together, wondering whether I was an unknown French poet whom they had hit upon by accident. I do not know how long they went on wondering.

Another Nightmare was inspired by a psycho-analytic doctor in America who was somewhat dissatisfied by the use commonly made of psycho-analysis. He felt that everyone might be brought to humdrum normality, so I tried portraying Shakespeare's more interesting heroes after they had undergone a course of psycho-analysis. In the dream, a head of Shakespeare speaks, ending with the words, 'Lord, what fools these mortals be.' I had an approving letter from the American doctor.

I found a reluctance on the part of both editors and readers to accept me in the role of a writer of fiction. They seemed, just on the face of it, to resent the fact that I was trying my hand at something they had not grown used to my doing. Everybody wanted me to continue as a writer of doom, prophesying dreadful things. I was reminded of what the learned men of China said when I asked what I should lecture on and they replied: 'Oh, just what you say in your last book.' Authors are sot allowed by their public to change their style or to part widely from their previous subjects.

My defence for writing stories. If defence were needed, is that I have often found fables the best way of making a point. When I returned from America in 1944, I found British philosophy in a very odd state, and, it seemed to me, occupied solely with trivialities. Everybody in the philosophical world was babbling about 'common usage'. I did not like this philosophy. Every section of learning has its own vocabulary and I did not see why philosophy should be deprived of this pleasure. I therefore wrote a short piece containing various fables making fun of this cult of 'common usage', remarking that what the philosophers really meant by the term was 'common-room usage'. I received a letter when this was published from the arch offender saying that he approved, but that he could not think against whom it was directed as he knew of no such cult. However, I noticed that from that time on very little was said about 'common usage'.

Most of my books, I find on looking back over them, have myths to enforce the points. For instance, I turned up the following paragraph recently in The Impact of Science on Society: 'What I do want to stress is that the kind of lethargic despair which is now not uncommon is irrational. Mankind is in the position of a man climbing a difficult and dangerous precipice, at the summit of which there is a plateau of delicious mountain meadows. With every step that he climbs, his fall, if he does fall, becomes more terrible; with every step his weariness increases and the ascent grows more difficult. At last, there is only one more step to be taken, but the climber does not know this, because he cannot see beyond the jutting rocks at his head. His exhaustion is so complete that he wants nothing but rest. If he lets go, he will find rest in death. Hope calls: "one more effort - perhaps it will be the last effort needed." Irony retorts: "Silly fellow! Haven't you been listening to hope all this time, and see where it has landed you." Optimism says: "While there is life, there is hope." Pessimism growls: "While there is life, there is pain." Does the exhausted climber make one more effort, or does he let himself sink into the abyss? In a few years, those of us who are still alive will know the answer.'

Others of my stories, nightmares and dreams and so forth, later formed the fiction part of my book Fact and Fiction. I had expected reviewers to make witticisms at my expense in regard to the title and contents of this book, but this did not occur. My 'Maxims of La Rochefoucauld' contained in it afforded me considerable amusement and I have added to them periodically. The making of my Good Citizens' Alphabet entertained me greatly. It was published at their Gabberbochus (which, I am told, is Polish for Jabberwocky) Press by my friends the Themersons with exceedingly clever and beautifully executed illustrations by Franciszka Themerson which heighten all the points that I most wanted made. They also published my jeu d'esprit on the end of the world, a short History of the World, for my ninetieth birthday in a little gold volume. My only venture into verse was published by the Humanists of America and is called - with apologies to Lewis Carroll - 'The Prelate and The Commissar'.


To and from Lucy Donnelly

212 Loring Avenue Los Angeles, Cal. Dec. 22, 1939

My dear Lucy

Ever since I got your nice letter I have been meaning to write to you, but have been terribly busy. It is the custom of this country to keep all intelligent people so harassed & hustled that they cease to be intelligent, and I have been suffering from this custom. The summer at Santa Barbara, it is true, was peaceful, but unluckily I injured my back & was laid up for a long time, which caused me to get behind hand with my lectures. - John & Kate, who came for the summer holidays, stayed when war broke out; it is a comfort to have them here, but John does not find the university of California a satisfactory substitute for Cambridge. I think of sending them both East to some less recent university, but last September there was no time for that. Apart from home sickness & war misery, we all flourish.

I am, when I can find time, writing a book on 'Words & Facts', or 'semantics' as it is vulgarly called. The only thing to be done in these times, it seems to me, is to salvage what one can of civilisation, personally as well as politically. But I feel rather like a strayed ghost from a dead world.

The visit to you was delightful. As time goes on, one values old friends more & more.

Remember me to Miss Finch. With love to yourself,

yours aff Bertrand Russell

New Place Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania 29 April 1940

My dear Bertie

Week by week I have sympathised with you & regretted bitterly that you have not been allowed to live and work in peace in America. Then, after all the muddlement & disgusting publicity, came your admirable letter in the New York Times - so wise, so right in feeling & so to the point at the close. Something was needed from you personally in reply to the Editorial distributing blame judiciously all round & very suspiciously avoiding the issue. Too bad of the Times: Your article in the American Mercury I also rejoiced in as just right & very useful. But this cause célèbre which scores for academic freedom for our country, I fear will have cost you yourself dear in many ways & have seriously upset your plans for the next year. I am very sorry.

I think of you always & hope to see you when you come to the East again - and perhaps your family with you. They look one & all of them delightful in their pictures. In these bad times your children must be a joy & hope. Your letter at Christmas was a happiness to me, when I remember all the people in the world to whom you have given happiness & enlightenment I marvel the more over this last confusion.

Ever yours with love Lucy Donnelly

P.S. The cutting I enclose from the College News, our student paper, is Bryn Mawr's modest testimony to the cause in your name.

Fallen Leaf Lodge Lake Tahoe, Cal. August 25, 1940

My dear Lucy

Peter is terribly busy, & I have finished my book, so I am answering your very nice letter to her.

We are leaving here in about a fortnight, & expect to get to Philadelphia about the 12th of September, except John & Kate, who go back to Los Angeles. I expect to be in Philadelphia only a few days, & then to go to Harvard, but Peter, with Conrad & the governess (Miss Campbell), means to stay somewhere near Philadelphia & hunt for a house. I have accepted the Barnes Institute; there was no other prospect of any post, however humble. No university dare contemplate employing me.

You once offered to put us up if we were in Philadelphia, & it would be very pleasant for us if you could have us for a few days from about the 12th, but I don't know if you have two spare rooms, one for Peter & me & one for Conrad and Miss Campbell. Still less do I know whether you would want a boy of three, whose behaviour might not always be impeccable. Please be quite frank about this.

Yes, I know Newman of John's. I have found him, on occasion, a very valuable critic.

I am sorry you will have to put up with us as a feeble substitute for the Renoirs. Perhaps in time I shall be able to soften Barnes's heart.

With Peter's thanks & my love,

Yours affectionately Bertrand Russell

April 15, 1941

My dear Lucy

I blush with shame in the middle of the night every time I think of my outrageous behaviour at your dinner, when I deafened you by shouting at your ear. Please forgive me. Since the New York row I have been prickly, especially when I encounter the facile optimism which won't realise that, but for Barnes, it would have meant literal starvation for us all - But that is no excuse for abominable behaviour. I used, when excited, to calm myself by reciting the three factors of a3+b3+c3—3abc; I must revert to this practice. I find it more effective than thoughts of the Ice Age or the goodness of God.

Yours affectionately Bertrand Russell

Peacock Inn Twenty Bayard Lane Princeton, N.J. May 14, 1944

My dear Lucy

This is a goodbye letter, with great regret that I can't bid you goodbye in person. After months of waiting, we are being suddenly shipped off at a moment's notice - Peter and Conrad are already gone & I go in 2 or 3 days. It was nice being your neighbours, & your house seemed almost a bit of England. Please tell Helen' I am very sorry not to write to her too - & give my love (or whatever she would like better) to Edith.

' Helen Thomas Flexner.

Ever yours aff B.R.

Trinity College Cambridge Oct. 7, 1944

My dear Lucy

It was nice to get your letter written in August. Coming to your house always seemed almost like coming home; it & its contents, animate & inanimate, were so much more English than one could find elsewhere in USA.

D. S. Robertson is a man I know only slightly, but he has a considerable reputation. How Keynes has expanded since he used to come & stay at Tilford! Last time I saw him he had an enormous paunch but this was not the sort of expansion I had in mind!

John is still in London, learning Japanese forms or politeness. One would have thought forms of rudeness more useful. He will go to the East before the end of this year, & probably be there a long time. Kate has been home about a month. She ended in a blaze of glory, with a $250 prize, an offer from Radcliffe to go on their staff, & from a Southern University to become a Professor, though not yet of age. Now the British Government pays her to read Goebbels.

The Robot bombs have been trying, & have not quite ceased, our they are no longer very serious. We all flourish. Love to Edith. Much love and friendship to yourself.

Ever yours Bertrand Russell

New Place Bryn Mawr, Penna. February 20th 45

My dear Bertie

Edith's great pleasure in your two letters I have shared. I am especially glad that you thought well of her book - whatever of M.C.T. [M. Carey Thomas] herself. After living under the two presidents who have succeeded at the College, I confess that my opinion of her has risen a good deal. The new ways on the Campus make it strange and unheimlich to me. O, for 'the Culture' of the '90's!...

The world all round now is a very grim one, as you say, and bitter to those of us who once lived in a happier time. Here in America of course we are among the fortunate ones, well fed, well housed & all the rest, but we do not grow wiser, more gruesome minded I fear. Everywhere it seems we can depend only on old affections and tried loyalties.

I turn to you, who have for so long added to my life so much interest and pleasure, & to my happiness in hearing that you are planning to write your autobiography. You will make a great and important book. I hope from my very heart that I may live to read it. Your letters of course I will look up and send along for any help they can give you. Notes & reminders are useful...

I have long wanted to write and to hear from you again but seem away here to have nothing worth saying. Edith and I and other friends of course often talk of you and wish you back. Our neighborhood fell into dullness when you left. We drove out, Edith & I, one day in the autumn in a pietas to Little Datchett, now alas painted up in all colours and newly named 'Stone Walls' on a sign at the gate. But the wide Jeffersonian view was the same and very delightful. Are either of your elder children still in America? Conrad of course will have grown beyond my recognition. Will you not send me some word of them and of Peter. I hope that she is better in health and able to get proper food.

Even the London where you are living is almost unknown to me, though I remember once walking up and down Gloucester Place, looking out the house where Lady Louisa Stuart lived in old age: and you must be near Portman Square and Mrs Montagu's grand mansion there. The late eighteenth Century in England is a safe retreat in these days for one lost in the America of Bob Taft and Henry Wallace and the rest of all you know from the papers.

Alas, that Edith and I are too poor to go to England this summer to breathe its air again and to see our friends. How I wish it were not so.

Affectionately yours Lucy Donnelly

P.S. Barnes has been as quiet as a mouse these last years.

Hotel Bellerive au Lac Zurich June 23, 1946

My dear Lucy

Thank you for your letter. I had not heard of Simon Flexner's death, which is sad. I don't know Helen's address; if I did, I would write to her. Will you please give her my very sincere sympathy, & tell her how greatly I admired & respected Simon.

what you say about my History of Philosophy is very pleasant reading. I am glad you like my Chap, on Plotinus, as I rather fancied it myself!

I am at the moment doing a short lecture tour in Switzerland; I return to Peter & Conrad in N. Wales in a week for the long vacation, after which I shall be back in Trinity, where I have been inhabiting Newton's rooms. I go about with the feeling that within 20 years England will have ceased to exist. It makes everything hectic, like the approach of closing time at a party in a hotel - 'We are for the night.' A few bombs will destroy all our cities, & the rest will slowly die of hunger.

In America, large sections of the rural middle west & the desert south-west will probably survive. But not much of your America. Three cheers for Patagonia, the future centre of world culture.

Meanwhile Rabbis & Mums, Jinnah & Nehru, Tito & the Italians, etc., play their silly games. I am ashamed of belonging to the species Homo Sapiens.

The Swiss are passionately Anglophile, & very glad to be liberated from Nazi encirclement. I try not to depress them.

You & I may be thankful to have lived in happier times - you more than I, because you have no children.

Ever yours affectionately Bertrand Russell

Penralltgoch Llan Ffestiniog Merioneth March 17, 1948

My dear Lucy

Thank you for your good letter. It was a great pleasure to get it.

I enclose a letter to Helen, as I am not sure whether I have deciphered correctly the address you gave me. If not, will you please alter it as may be necessary. I have started on my autobiography, & find it an immense task. I shall be infinitely grateful for your batch of letters. It doesn't matter whether you send them to above address or to London.

My daughter Kate has just married an American named Charles Tait. She still lives in Cambridge Mass. I don't know him, but all I hear of him sounds nice.

I am terribly busy with international affairs, & have not time to write proper letters. Give nice messages to Edith. With love,

Yours aff B.R.

New Place Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania May 8, 1948

My dear Bertie

I am sorry to have been so long in complying with any request of yours. This has been a bad and busy year here in Bryn Mawr and though I keep very well for my age, I am so easily tired and do everything so slowly, I accomplish little in a day.

In a word, I have only been able in the last fortnight to go through the papers & letters stored in the attic. The task was formidable and painful as well as happy. Many letters from you I found, dating from 1902 on, and have put aside to send you if you still want them. From your letter some time ago, I was uncertain whether you ask for all letters, or particularly for the one written to Helen on the last day of the Nineteenth Century.

All that you wrote to me I seem to have treasured down to the merest notes. They are wonderfully friendly, wise, kind letters, sympathetic almost beyond belief with my personal concerns and small Bryn Mawr affairs, while bringing in an invigorating breath from a larger freer world. I well remember the vivid pleasure of their coming, one after another, and the strength & interest they were to me. - A lifetime of gratitude I send back to you for them. - Whether they would be useful to you I cannot tell, possibly for dates, plans places & whatnot, and as a record of your own friendliness. Your memory is extraordinarily good & you have written so much that is wise & witty & important. Will you say whether you want the packet, & they really shall go off to you at once. In that case I should like to have them back when you are done with the letters. They are a precious record of a long friendship to me, though as I understand, your property . . .

All is well I hope with you, as well as may be with the world in desperate confusion. Here we are in the midst of strikes. Presidential primaries, indecisions about Palestine, [indecipherable] bills & all that you can guess.

Edith asks me to give you her love with mine. & all good wishes for the Summer. We plan to go to Canada,1 the nearest we are able to get to the British flag.

1 Where she died in the Summer of 1948.

Affectionately yours Lucy

From the 12th Duke of Bedford

Froxfield House Woburn Bletchley April 16th. 1945

Dear Lord Russell

Many thanks for your kind letter. I should have been very pleased for you to see Woburn but unluckily the abbey is infested by a government War Department of a very 'hush-hush' description and I am not allowed to enter the sacred precincts myself without a permit & suitable escort! Most of the pictures etc. are stored away, so I am afraid you will have to postpone your visit until the brief interlude between this war & world-war no. 3. - if there is an interlude!! I am so sorry.

Yours sincerely Bedford

From H. G. Wells

13, Hanover Terrace Regent's Park, N.W.1 May. 20th '45

My dear Russell

I was delighted to get your friendly letter. In these days of revolutionary crisis it is incumbent upon all of us who are in any measure influential in left thought to dispel the tendency to waste energy in minor dissentions & particularly to counter the systematic & ingenious work that is being done to sabotage left thought under the cloak of critical reasonableness. I get a vast amount of that sort of propaganda in my letter box. I get more & more anarchistic & ultra left as I grow older. I enclose a little article 'Orders is Orders' that the New Leader has had the guts, rather squeamish guts, to print at last. What do you think of it?

We must certainly get together to talk (& perhaps conspire) & that soon. What are your times & seasons? My daughter in law Marjorie fixes most of my engagements and you & Madame must come to tea one day & see what we can do.

I have been ill & I keep ill. I am President of the Diabetic Soc'y & diabetes keeps one in & out, in & out of bed every two hours or so. This exhausts, and this vast return to chaos which is called the peace, the infinite meanness of great masses of my fellow creatures, the wickedness of organised religion give me a longing for a sleep that will have no awakening. There is a long history of heart failure on my paternal side but modern palliatives are very effective holding back that moment of release. Sodium bicarbonate keeps me in a grunting state of protesting endurance. But while I live I have to live and I owe a lot to a decaying civilisation which has anyhow kept alive enough of the spirit of scientific devotion to stimulate my curiosity [and] make me its debtor.

Forgive this desolation. I hope to see you both before very long & am yours most gratefully.

H. G. Wells

From Clement Attlee

10, Downing Street Whitehall 11 October, 1945

My dear Russell

Many thanks for your letter of October 9 and for sending me your article - 'What America could do with the Atomic Bomb'. I have read this with interest and I am grateful to you for bringing it to my notice. I need hardly tell you that this is one of the most difficult and perplexing problems with which statesmen have ever been faced and I can assure you that all the points you have made are present in my mind.

Yours sincerely C. R. Attlee

The following is the account that I wrote to my wife Peter immediately after the plane accident in which I was involved. It is dated October 1948.

You will no doubt have learnt that I was in an accident to-day - luckily one in which I suffered no damage beyond loss of suit-case etc. I was sure the newspapers would exaggerate so I telegraphed to you at once. I came from Oslo in a sea-plane, and just as it touched the water on arrival here a sudden wind blew it onto its side and let the water in. Boats were sent out instantly, and we had to jump from a window and swim till they reached us, which was only about a minute. I did not know till later that some who could not swim were drowned. It did me no harm whatever. My writing is queer because my pen is lost. I went to bed because I had no dry clothes. The Consul has now brought me some and the Vice-Consul has lent me a suit till mine is dry. Everybody has made far more fuss of me than the occasion warranted. I was struck by the good behaviour of the passengers - all did exactly as they were told without any fuss.

I will try to relate everything.

The weather was stormy, heavy rain and a gale of wind. The seaplane had just touched the water of the fjord when there was a violent jerk and I found myself on the floor with some inches of water in which hats, coats, etc. were floating. I exclaimed 'well, well!' and started looking for my hat, which I failed to find. At first I thought a wave had broken in at a window; it didn't occur to me it was serious.

I was in the very back of the plane, the only part where one could smoke; this turned out to be the best place to be. After a few minutes the crew opened a door and got the passengers from the back through to an open window, and shoved us one by one into the sea. By this time their haste had made me realise that things were serious. I jumped, clutching my attache case, but had to let go of it to swim. When I got into the water I saw there was a boat close by. We swam to it and were pulled on board. When I looked round, nothing was visible of the plane except the tip of a wing. The swim was about 20 yards. I saw nothing of what happened at the other end of the plane; I imagine they jumped through another window. I gather the people killed were stunned when the accident happened. One of them was a Professor concerned in arrangements about my lecture. I pointed out my floating attache case to the people on the boat, and last night a policeman brought it. The things in it were all right, except that the silly books were somewhat damaged. No other piece of luggage was rescued.

The people who had come to the airport to meet me were very solicitous, and drove me at breakneck speed to the hotel, where I got my wet clothes off, went to bed, and consumed large quantities of brandy and coffee, after which I went to sleep. The Consul brought me socks, shirt, etc., and the Vice-Consul lent me a suit. My own will be wearable to-morrow. Then came an avalanche of journalists. One from Copenhagen asked what I thought while in the water. I said I thought the water was cold. 'You didn't think about mysticism and logic?' 'No' I said, and rang off.

I was not brave, only stupid. I had always thought a sea-plane would float. I did not realise there was danger, and was mainly concerned to save my attache case. My watch goes as well as ever, and even my matches strike. But the suitcase, with a suit, shirts, etc. is gone for ever. I am writing with a beastly pen, because mine is lost.

To Willard V. Quine

18 Dorset House Gloucester Place, N.W.1 Feb. 4, 1949

Dear Dr Quine

Thank you for your kind letter, and for your paper on 'What There is' - a somewhat important subject. When I first sent my theory of description to Mind in 1905, Stout thought it such rubbish that he almost refused to print it.

I am glad you noticed the allusion to yourself on p. 140.

I was lucky in the aeroplane accident, as nearly half those on the plane ceased to be among 'what there is'.

Yours sincerely Bertrand Russell

After my return to England I paid several visits to my first wife at her invitation, and received the following letters from her. The friendly correspondence lasted till her death very early in 1951.

25 Wellington Square Chelsea, S.W.3 June 9. 1949

Dearest Bertie

I feel I must break the silence of all these years by sending thee a line of congratulation on thy OM. No one can rejoice in it more heartily than I do, just as no one was more sorry for the prison sentence and thy difficulties in America. Now I hope thee will have a peaceful old age, just as I am doing at 81, after a stormy time with Logan. I miss dear Lucy Donnelly's letters very much, but am glad they have raised over $50,000.00 to endow a Scholarship in English in her memory.

As ever, affectionately thine Alys

25 Wellington Square Chelsea, S.W.3 Sept. 30 1949

Dearest Bertie

I found these letters and this article of thine among my papers, and think thee may like to have them. I think I must have destroyed all thy other letters. Our scrapbook about the Sozial-Demokrats in Berlin in 1895 I presented to the London School of Economics, but have borrowed it back now as the BBC may want a Talk on it. I have told them thee could give it much better than I.

I have been told thee is writing thy Autobiography, which ought to be deeply interesting. (I don't care for B. B. [Bernard Berenson's but like George Trevelyan's.) I am also writing some Memoirs, and enclose a copy of what I think of saying about our marriage. But if thee thinks it incorrect, or wounding to thee, I could make it much shorter.

Thine ever Alys

I hope thee will be interested in these recently published Letters of Mother's.

What Alys wrote of our marriage:

Bertie was an ideal companion, & he taught me more than I can ever repay. But I was never clever enough for him, & perhaps he was too sophisticated for me. I was ideally happy for several years, almost deliriously happy, until a change of feeling made our mutual life very difficult. A final separation led to a divorce, when he married again. But that was accomplished without bitterness, or quarrels, or recriminations, & later with great rejoicing on my part when he was awarded the om. But my life was completely changed, & I was never able to meet him again for fear of the renewal of my awful misery, & heartsick longing for the past. I only caught glimpses of him at lectures or concerts occasionally, & thro' the uncurtained windows of his Chelsea house, where I used to watch him sometimes reading to his children. Unfortunately, I was neither wise enough nor courageous enough to prevent this one disaster from shattering my capacity for happiness & my zest for life.

25 Wellington Square Chelsea, S.W.3 Jan. 13. 1950

Dearest Bertie

In September I sent thee a book of Mother's Letters, A Religious Rebel, with a 1909 packet of thy own letters to me, and a note from myself. I could not understand why I had no reply, but now the packet has been returned to me - my name was on the outside and it was addressed to the Hon. Bertrand Russell, om, Penralltgoch, Llan Ffestiniog, Merioneth but marked 'not known'. I should like it to reach thee if I knew thy address.

Thine ever Alys

25 Wellington Square Chelsea, S.W.3 Feb. 14. '50

Dearest Bertie

I enjoyed thy visit immensely, & hope we can be friends & see each other soon again. I wrote to B. B. about thy coming here, & he sends thee a warm invitation to go & stay with him at any time. He says there is no man alive whom he would rather be seeing and talking with than thee, & that he practically always agrees with everything thee writes. He has asked me to lend thee his book on Aesthetics, which I will do, tho' I do not think thee will care for it. The Autobiography is better, tho' not well written.

I should like to know thy opinion of Bob Gathorne-Hardy's Recollections of Logan, & will send thee my extra copy, if thee has not already seen it. It has been very well reviewed, & B. B. calls it 'a masterpiece'.

Ever thine Alys

25 Wellington Square Chelsea, S.W.3 Mar. 9. 1950

Dearest Bertie

Thanks for thy letter. I was not surprised at thy not answering mine of Sept. 30th. as I thought thee probably preferred not to have any intimate talk of the past, but I am thankful that thee did not feel unduly censured, nor that my radiant memories of our life together should be marred. Please do come & have lunch with me again as soon as thee can possibly spare time. I shall count the days till then, as I have so many questions I want to discuss with thee, & I hope it will be soon. Ring up before 9.30 or after 12.

I don't think I want thy letters from Paris, nor the German volumes, as the BBC decline a talk on Germany in 1895.

Thine ever Alys

25 Wellington Square Chelsea, S.W.3 April 14. 1950

Dearest Bertie

I have so enjoyed our two meetings & thee has been so friendly, that I feel I must be honest & just say once (but once only) that I am utterly devoted to thee, & have been for over 50 years. My friends have always known that I loved thee more than anyone else in the world, & they now rejoice with me that I am now able to see thee again.

But my devotion makes no claim, and involves no burden on thy part, nor any obligation, not even to answer this letter.

But I shall still hope thee can spare time to come to lunch or dinner before very long, & that thee will not forget May 18th.

Thine ever Alys

25 Wellington Square Chelsea, S.W.3 June 8. 1950

Dearest Bertie

Thanks for my book returned, with the address I wanted on a very small slip of paper, & now for thy two volumes. I am immensely pleased to have them from thee (tho' I hope thee doesn't think I was hinting!) & shall enjoy them very much, & send my warmest thanks. Florence Halévy is delighted thee should have my copy of Elie's posthumous book, & sends thee her kindest remembrances & regards.

If thee can spare a minute before the 18th., do telepnone about breakfast time any day to give me thy address in Australia. I should like to write to thee on my b. day in July.

Ever thine Alys

25 Wellington Square Chelsea, S.W.3 July 21. 1950

Dearest Bertie

I have had a nice 83rd birthday with many callers with flowers & books & fruits & telegrams, & it would have been perfect if there had been a letter from thee. But I know thee must be desperately busy, & worse still desperately worried over Korea & this awful drift to War. We can hardly think or talk of anything else, but I try to keep serene & to distract my visitors from too much worry, when there seems nothing we can any of us do, & I think I have been successful today. This little poem was a help, by Helen Arbuthnot & the friend she lives with: 'Alys Russell, hail to thee! Angel of the Square, where would Wellontonia be If thou were not there.' (The rest too fulsome to quote. I tried to write a poem to thee on May 18th. but got no further than 'Bertrand Russell, hail to thee! Darling of the BBC'. - but cld. get no further.) I have only just read thy Conquest of Happiness & some of the chapters would have helped me very much in my talk on 'Being over 80'. But nothing thee says cld. equal my concluding paragraph, wh. I think thee missed, literally taken from The Times, my wished-for epitaph 'In loving memory of John & Mary Williams who lived such beautiful lives on Bromley Common'.

This letter will be full of happy events, as my last was full of woes, & I hope it will distract thee for a few minutes.

1. My kind Irish housekeeper, of 30 years service, is better from a bad heart attack, & will be back soon.

2. My Tennyson Talk was a great success, with much approval from the 3rd Prog. Producers, & Bob G. H. [Gathorne-Hardy] wrote to me: 'Your Broadcast was absolutely delicious, like an enchanting, exquisite, complete little short story, with a perfect twist at the end "How we must have bored him!".'

3. Karin seems quite well again, & is writing a book on 'Despair'.

Desmond is speaking, I hear, on the despair of old age, which is a pity and not good news, & Hugh Trevor-Roper writes that the Berlin Congress (on Cultural Freedom?) would not have been sponsored by thee if thee had known how it would turn out, being a political demonstration, which the Eng. representatives (following the now classical tradition of Oxford Dons) did their best to disrupt. I am surprised at his criticism, as he is himself a narrow Oxford Don.

I could write on forever, but must walk up to the King's Rd. & post this letter. I have said nothing about thy cruel private grief in not seeing Conrad, & perhaps thy fear that John may have to go back to the Navy. I do feel for thee, but hope thee is somehow managing to conquer happiness.

Thine ever Alys

25 Wellington Square Chelsea, S.W.3 July 24. 1950

Dearest Bertie

Thy letter of the 16th arrived too late for my b. day, but is most welcome. I am glad the Australians are friendly & appreciative, but wish I cld. hear the details of the Cath. B. Control invigorating fight. I remember Cath. trouble at the Wimbledon Election, but think it was over Education. Thee may not remember my little Cardiff friend, Maud Rees Jones, who helped us at Wimbledon. She only remembers wanting to pick up the windblown stamps in thy room, & thy begging her not to, saying 'If you scrounge for them I shall have to scrounge too, but if we leave them, Alys will pick them up', wh. I did presently, I can't find Chas. Wood's name in Edith Finch's book, only on p. 35 He (Blunt) saw much of the 2 younger Stanley sisters, Kate & Rosalind. Beautiful & vivid they whirled him away in an orgy of lively talk with all the piquancy of enthusiastic prejudice. Nothing in heaven & earth passed unquestioned or undiscussed. They stimulated in him an intellectual activity that had much to do with the later individuality of his views, & that, more immediately proved disconcerting during his life in Germany', where in 1861 he became very intimate with Lady Malet who troubled him by her constant speculation on religious troubles.

Here is an amusing extract from one of my honeymoon letters from The Hague: 'I have sewed 2 buttons on Bertie's shirts & he doesn't mind my sewing as much as he thought he would.'

I envy thee seeing a Coral Island. Did we read together Curzon's Monasteries of the East? Robt. Byron, that clever yng. writer killed in the War, has had republished his excellent book on Mt Athos, beautifully written & deeply interesting. - Another b. day poem ends with:

'So here's a toast & drink it up

In lemonade or cyder cup

(For Auntie's Temperance)

That decades on we still shall be

Blessed by her merry company

Her lovely countenance.'

But not 'merry' now with the attack on Formosa, & defeats in Korea, alas!

Thine ever Alys

25 Wellington Square Chelsea, S.W.3 Nov. 19. 1950

Dearest Nobel Lord

I am enchanted with thy new Honour, & am only sorry I was not sure enough of thy address to cable my congratulations. I knew of it on the 7th., when a Swedish journalist friend came here for information about thee. (I lent him Leggatt's book, tho' it has been transd into Swedish I believe.) He told me incidentally that Churchill & Croce were thy runners-up, but thee won. The papers here have been very enthusiastic, including a BBC Talk to children, calling thee 'an apostle of humanity & of free speech'. The American papers must have gone wild over thee. I hope thee will not share the Prize with the Amer. dentist's wife, tho' she must be feeling rather flat.

Thanks for thy letter from Swarthmore. I am shocked at thy account of poor Evelyn [Whitehead]! & feel most sorry for her without her angelic Alfred to care for her. I hope her children are some comfort. I look forward to seeing thee before or after Stockholm, but agree that Scandinavia is unhealthy for philosophers. But anyhow the present King will not get thee up at 5 a.m., nor force thee to sit on or in a stove for warmth. (He is a 'connustur' friend of B.B.'s bye the way, & has paid a fairly recent visit to I Tatti. B. B. telegraphed his congratulations to thee thro' me, & I hope thee remembered to send him thy Essays.) I send on some cuttings thee may have missed, & also a letter from Florence Halévy. Also Desmond on Shaw. Has thy article on Shaw appeared yet?

I am glad thee doesn't mean to travel again, as I feel thee shd. not have the strain of it, & that thee can better serve the cause of Internationalism, for which I have worked passionately for 30 years, by broadcasting at home, & writing.

Also it will save me from buying thee a new sponge bag for Xmas, which I felt sure thee must need!

Thine devotedly Alys

From and to T. S. Eliot

24 Russell Square, W.C.1 10 June 1949

Dear Bertie

Permit me to add my sincere felicitations to your others; on the occasion of your joining this small and odd miscellaneous order. It is a fitting though belated tribute to the author of The Philosophy of Leibnitz, the Principia and the other works on which I fed thirty-five years ago. And also to the author of the Reith Lectures - who is one of the few living authors who can write English prose.

Yours ever T. S. Eliot

The Master of Trinity recommends safety pins in the ribbon; but a neat tuck on each side is much better.

Ffestiniog, N. Wales 13.6.49

Dear Tom

Thank you very much for your nice letter. In old days when we were huddled together in Russell Chambers, we could hardly have expected that lapse of time would make us so respectable.

I will test your opinion against George Trevy's as soon as I get the chance.

Yours ever B.R.

Faber and Faber Ltd. 24 Russell Square London W.C.1 20th May, 1964

The Rt. Hon. The Earl Russell, OM Plas Penrhyn Penrhyndeudraeth Merionethshire

Dear Bertie

My wife and I listened the other night to your broadcast interview and thought it went over extremely well.

As you may know, I disagree with your views on most subjects, but I thought that you put your beliefs over in a most dignified and even persuasive way. I wanted you to know this as you are getting on so far, and as I myself am, I hope, somewhat mellowed by age.

With grateful and affectionate memories,

Yours ever Tom

Plas Penrhyn 23 May, 1964

Dear Tom

Many thanks for your letter of May 20. I am glad that you found my broadcast remarks 'dignified and even persuasive'. It was nice to hear from you again.

Yours ever Bertie

From N. B. Foot

General Secretary of the New Commonwealth Society

(President British Section: The Rt. Hon. Winston S. Churchill, OM, CH, MP) 25 Victoria Street London S.W.1 September 25th, 1947

Dear Lord Russell

I am sending you this letter on the eve of your departure for the Continent in the hope that it may provide you with a little information about the New Commonwealth which you may find useful. In the first place, however, I should like to reiterate our thanks to you for having taken on this journey. We are deeply appreciative of the honour you are doing us in acting as our representative, and we feel confident that your visit will be quite invaluable in arousing interest in the Society's proposals. I hope die arrangements which Miss Sibthorp has made for you will prove satisfactory in every way.

It was very kind of you to provide us with a precis of your address. I have read it with the greatest admiration and, if I may venture to say so without presumption, it seems to me to provide a masterly analysis of the problems that confront us and of the solution which it is Our purpose to offer. As you know, we have always laid stress on the urgent need for the internationalisation of the major weapons of war and the creation of machinery for the peaceful settlement of all disputes, political as well as judicial. We believe, as you do, that the establishment of a full-fledged World Parliament is likely to prove a distant goal, and probably the most distinctive feature of our programme is the proposal that until such a development becomes feasible, the legislative function to which you refer in your address should be entrusted to a completely impartial Tribunal. We fully admit that this Tribunal would not be a perfect instrument, but we are convinced that it would be infinitely more suitable for the just settlement of non-judicial issues than either the Security Council or the Permanent Court, bearing in mind that the former is made up of politicians whose first job is to further the interests of their own countries and the latter of lawyers who have little knowledge or experience outside the purely legal field.

With regard to the Society itself, we differ from UNA and other such organisations in that we have always endeavoured to function as an international Movement in the sense that our activities have never been confined to Great Britain. Before the war we had managed to build up embryonic national sections of the Movement in most of the European countries, and these were linked together in what we called our International Section. We are now faced with the task of rebuilding this machinery, and there can be no doubt that your visit to the Low Countries will be of the greatest value in helping us to carry that task a stage further.

In Holland the foundations of a New Commonwealth Committee have already been laid with Dr van de Coppello as its President and Dr Fortuin as its Honorary Secretary. You will, of course, be meeting these gentlemen during your visit, and it occurred to me that you might wish to be informed of their special connection with the Movement. I should also like to mention the names of Dr Peter de Kanter and his wife Mrs de Kanter van Hettinga Tramp who are members of our Committee and who have always played a leading part in New Commonwealth activity.

In Belgium we have not as yet been able to establish any sort of organism though we hope to be able to do so in the near future.

In apologising for bothering you with this letter, may I say again how deeply grateful we are to you for having consented to undertake this journey on our behalf.

Yours sincerely N. B. Foot

From the Netherlands Section of the New Commonwealth Society

Amsterdam, October 7th 1947 Beursgebouw, Damrak 62A

Dear Lord Russell

Now that your tour through the continent of Western Europe has come to an end and you are back again in England, we want to express you once more our great thankfulness for tie lectures you delivered to the Netherlands Section of The New Commonwealth in Amsterdam and The Hague. It was an unforgettable event to hear you - whom many of us already knew by your numerous important writings - speak about the question which occupies and oppresses our mind: the centuries-old problem of war or peace. We cannot say that your words have removed all our concern; on the contrary, to whatever we may have got used since the thirties, your supreme analysis of the present situation has considerably increased our anxiety. But we know now that you also joined those who are anxious to construct a state of international justice which will aim at the establishment of rules of law and in which the transgressor will be called to order by force, if necessary.

You will have learnt from the number of your auditors and the many conversations you had that your visit to our country has been a great success. There is no Dutch newspaper nor weekly that failed to mention your visit and your lectures.

Thank you for coming, Lord Russell; we shall not forget your words!

Yours very truly Dr van de Coppello President Dr Fortuin Secretary

From Gilbert Murray

Yatscombe Boar's Hill Oxford Sep. 12 1951

Dear Bertie

I was greatly touched by that letter you wrote to the Philosophic Society Dinner about our fifty years of close friendship. It is, I think, quite true about the fundamental agreement; I always feel it - and am proud of it.

I had explained that I preferred you to other philosophers because, while they mostly tried to prove some horrible conclusion - like Hobbes, Hegel, Marx etc, you were, I believe, content if you could really prove that 2+2 = 4, and that conclusion, though sad, was at least bearable ('To think that two and two are four, and never five or three The heart of man has long been sore And long is like to be.')

Have you read the life of Jos Wedgwood (The Last of the Radicals) by his niece? He sent a questionnaire to a great list of people in which one question was: To what cause do you attribute your failure?' The only one who said he had not failed was Ld Beaverbrook! Interesting and quite natural.

Providence has thought fit to make me lame by giving me busters on my feet so that I can not wear shoes; a great nuisance.

Yours ever, and with real thanks for your letter, which made me for a moment feel that I was not completely a failure.


From General Sir Frank E. W. Simpson, KCB, KBE, DSO

Imperial Defence College Seaford House 37, Belgrave Square S.W.1 16th July, 1952

Dear Lord Russell

May I introduce myself to you as the present Commandant of this College, having taken over from Admiral Sir Charles Daniel at the beginning of this year.

I am writing to ask whether you could possibly spare the time to visit us again this year in December and give your excellent talk on 'The Future of Mankind'. Admiral Daniel has told me how valuable and stimulating your talks to this College have been in recent years.

The date I have in mind is Thursday, 4th December next, and the time 10.15 a.m. You know our usual procedure.

I much hope that you will agree to come and that the above date will be convenient for you.

Yours sincerely F. E. W. Simpson

From the Manchester Guardian, 22nd April 1954

Atomic Weapons


In a leading article of your issue of April 20 you say: The United States is not so foolish or wicked as to fire the first shot in a war with atomic weapons.' This statement as it stands is ambiguous. If you mean that the United States would not fire the first shot, the statement may be correct. But if you mean that the United States would not be the first to use atomic weapons, you are almost certainly mistaken. The United States authorities have declared that any aggression anywhere by Russia or China will be met by all-out retaliation, which certainly means the bomb. It is apparently the opinion of experts that in a world war the Western Powers will be defeated if they do not use the bomb, but victorious if they use it. If this is the view of the Russian authorities, they will abstain at the beginning of a war from using the bomb and leave to our side the odium of its first employment. Can anybody seriously suggest that the Western Powers will prefer defeat? There is only one way to prevent the necessity for this choice, and that is to prevent a world war.

Yours &c. Bertrand Russell

[Our point was simply that China, knowing the scruples which limit American action, could disregard an American threat to retaliate with atomic weapons if China did not desist from intervening in Indo-China, With Lord Russell's general point we are in agreement. - Ed. Guard.]

From my cousin, Sir Claud Russell

Trematon Castle Saltash, Cornwall 12 July '52

Dear Bertie

I was given to read (in Vogue) by Flora your childhood's Memories, which I did with interest, and the more so, no doubt, as they evoked memories of my own. There must be few survivors of the Pembroke Lodge days. I think my parents went there fairly frequently on a Sunday, driving from London in a hired one-horse brougham (they never owned a carriage in London) and took one or two children with 'em. But I remember better an occasional Weekend there, and no doubt your grandmother and my parents thought, with reason, that our association would be pleasant, and beneficial, to both. Your grandfather was dead before those days. I never saw him, but I remember my father telling my mother at breakfast in Audley Square 'Uncle John is dead'; and also that it fell to my father to return his kg to the Queen, and that some important part of the insignia - the Star or the Garter - could not be found, which my. father had to tell the Queen, who said: 'that doesn't matter.' I would like, to see Pembroke Lodge again, and walk about the grounds. I believe it is in a dilapidated state, and no longer the home of a deserving servant of the State. I remember Windsor Castle, and that Henry VIII saw from Richmond Hill the gun fired that told him Anne Boleyn was executed. I recall the family prayers, and my embarrassment at having to sing the hymn audibly. I wonder in how many houses are family prayers now the rule? The last I recall were at Sir Ernest Satow's. He was my Chief in Peking, and I went to see him in bis retirement. He was a bachelor, an intellectual, who had read all there is, and a man of encyclopaedic knowledge. Yet, I believe an undoubting Christian. I formed this impression of him from his demeanour in the Legation Chapel at Peking, and the family prayers confirmed it. His Japanese butler, cook and housemaid, appeared after dinner, and he led the prayers. My only unpleasant memory of Pembroke Lodge arises from two boy friends of yours of the name of Logan. They conceived, I suppose, a measure of contempt for me, and made no secret of it. Perhaps they thought me a 'milk-sop', or 'softy'. However, I didn't see them often. Per contra, like you, I have a happy memory of Annabel (Clara we called her)1 and I was often at York House. When her parents were in India, she came to us for her holidays (she was at school) and I was much in love with her - I being then about 15-16 years old. I wonder what became of the furniture and pictures etc. at Pembroke Lodge. I suppose Agatha had them at Haslemere. I remember particularly a statue, a life-size marble of a female nude, in the hall.2 I think a gift from the Italian people to your grandfather, in gratitude for his contribution to the liberation and union of Italy. Like you, I owe to the Russells shyness, and sensitiveness - great handicaps in life, but no metaphysics, tho' I have tried to feebly - my father and elder brother had the latter, but not professionally, like you. What I owe to my French progenitors I leave others to judge. I noted lately in a volume of Lord Beaconsfield's letters one written from Woburn in 1865, to Queen Victoria, in which he says: 'The predominant feature and organic deficiency of the Russell family is shyness. Even Hastings is not free from it, though he tries to cover it with an air of uneasy gaiety.' I am much too shy for that.

1 A daughter of Sir Mounstuart Grant Duff.2 This statue had an inscription on the pedestal:

A Ld John Russell Italia riconoscente.

I am happy to know of my family link with the heroic defender of Gibraltar - my great aunt's great uncle. Athenais and I have taken to spending the winter at Gib. If ever, with advancing years, you want to escape the English winter, I recommend it. A better climate than the Riviera, and in a sterling area.

Excuse this long letter. One thing led to another.

Yours ever Claud

Trematon Castle Saltash, Cornwall 9 Aug. '52

Dear Bertie

Thank you for your letter, and I fully share your indignation at the fete of Pembroke Lodge. Can it be that what you call 'Bumbledom' is now the Crown? All the same, I hope when I'm in London to go and see the old place again, and may:

'Fond memory bring the light'

'Of other days around me',

or will I (more probably):

'Feel like one'

'Who treads alone'

'Some banquet ball deserted'

'Whose lights are fled' etc.

But did not Agatha wisely leave the Italia that I remember, to Newnham, where such a work of art could excite admiration, but never, I trust, an unruly thought.

I hope we may see you at Gib. next winter, if you want to escape the English one. The climate is more equable and healthy than that of the Riviera, and being British soil, if you have a bank balance at home, you can draw on it - or overdraw, for that matter. The Gibraltarians, tho' not typical Englishmen, are amiable and loyal. They know which side their bread is buttered, and there is no irredentism among them. O si sic omnes!

The Rock Hotel is the place to stay - well run, but not exactly cheap.

Yours ever Claud

To and from Albert Einstein

41 Queen's Road Richmond Surrey 20 June, 1953

Dear Einstein

I am in whole-hearted agreement with your contention that teachers called before McCarthy's inquisitors should refuse to testify. When The New York Times had a leading article disagreeing with you about this, I wrote a letter to it supporting you. But I am afraid they are not going to print it. I enclose a copy, of which, if you feel so disposed, you may make use in any way you like.

Yours very sincerely Bertrand Russell



Dear Bertrand Russell

Your fine letter to The New York Times is a great contribution to a good cause. All the intellectuals in this country, down to the youngest student, have become completely intimidated. Virtually no one of 'prominence' besides yourself has actually challenged these absurdities in which the politicians have become engaged. Because they have succeeded in convincing the masses that the Russians and the American Communists endanger the safety of the country, these politicians consider themselves so powerful. The cruder the tales they spread, the more assured they feel of their reelection by the misguided population. This also explains why Eisenhower did not dare to commute the death sentence of the two Rosenbergs, although he well knew how much their execution would injure the name of the United States abroad.

I have read your latest publications, 'Impact' and 'Satan ...', with great care and real enjoyment. You should be given much credit for having used your unique literary talent in the service of public enlightenment and education. I am convinced that your literary work will exercise a great and lasting influence particularly since you have resisted the temptation to gain some short lived effects through paradoxes and exaggerations.

With cordial greetings and wishes,

Yours A. Einstein

41 Queen's Road Richmond Surrey 5 July, 1953

Dear Einstein

Thank you very much for your letter, which I found most encouraging. Rather to my surprise The New York Times did at last print my letter about you. I hope you will be able to have an influence upon liberal minded academic people in America. With warmest good wishes,

Yours very sincerely Bertrand Russell

Albert Einstein on Russell - 1940 (time of College of the City of New York row)

Es wiederholt sich immer wieder

In dieser Welt so fein und bieder

Der Pfaff den Poebel alarmiert

Der Genius wird executiert.


It keeps repeating itself

In this world, so fine and honest:

The Parson alarms the populace,

The genius is executed.

Albert Einstein on Russell's History of Western Philosophy, 1946

Bertrand Russell's 'Geschichte der Philosophie' ist eine koestliche Lektuere. Ich weiss nicht, ob man die koestlische Frische und Originalitaet Oder die Sensitivitaet der Einfuehlung in feme Zeiten und fremde Mentalitaet bei diesem grossen Denker mehr bewundern soli. Ich betrachte es ah em Glueck, dass unsere so trockene und zugleich brutale Generation einen so weisen, ehrlichen, tapferen und dabei humorvollen Mann aufzuweisen hat. Es ist ein in hoechstem Sirme paedagogisches Werk, das ueber dem Streite der Parteien und Meinungen steht.


Bertrand Russell's 'History of Philosophy' is a precious book. I don't know whether one should more admire the delightful freshness and originality or die sensitivity of the sympathy with distant times and remote mentalities on the part of this great thinker. I regard it as fortunate that our so dry and also brutal generation can point to such a wise, honourable, bold and at the same time humorous man. It is a work that is in the highest degree pedagogical which stands above the conflicts of parties and opinions.

‘A Liberal Decalogue’1

1 This first appeared at the end of my article 'The Best Answer to Fanaticism - Liberalism', in The New York Times Magazine, December 16, 1951.

Bertrand Russell

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9. Be scrupulously truthful, even If the truth is inconvenient, for it Is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

From the News Chronicle, 1st April, 1954

He Foretold It

In November, 1945, in a speech in the House of Lords on the atomic bomb, Bertrand Russell said:

It is possible that some mechanism, analogous to the present atomic bomb, could be used to set off a much more violent explosion which would be obtained if one could synthesise heavier elements out of hydrogen. All that must take place if our scientific civilisation goes on, if it does not bring itself to destruction: all that is bound to happen.

From the News Chronicle, 1st April 1954

The Bomb: Where Do We Go from Here?

Bertrand Russell, mathematician, philosopher answers the questions that everyone is asking (in an interview with Robert Waithman).

Bertrand Russell sat very upright in his armchair, smoking a curved pipe and talking gently about the hydrogen bomb. But there was nothing gentle about his conclusions.

Britain's greatest living philosopher, whose mind and intellectual courage have moved the twentieth century since its beginning, is now 81. His hair is white and his voice is soft; and his opinions, as always, are expressed with a memorable clarity. I put a succession of questions to him and he answered them thus:

Is there any justification for alarm at the thought that some disastrous miscalculation may occur in the H-bomb tests?

Though, obviously, there will come a time when these experiments are too dangerous, I don't think we have reached that point yet.

It there were a hydrogen-bomb war it is quite clear that practically everybody in London would perish. A shower of hydrogen bombs would almost certainly sterilise large agricultural areas, and the resulting famine would be fearful.

But we are talking of the current tests, in peace-time. I do not expect disaster from them. I think those who may have been showered with radio-active ash, whose fishing catches have been damaged or destroyed, undoubtedly have every right to complain.

But I do not foresee a rain of radio-active ash comparable with the phenomena we saw after the explosion of the Krakatoa Volcano in 1883 (which I remember well), I do not think that, so long as the explosions are few, marine life will be grievously affected.

It is affected now by oil pollution, isn't it - though that is much less dramatic a story?

Do you think that a feeling of dread and uncertainty at the back of people's minds might have an evil social effect?

Well, you know, it isn't an effect that lasts long. As with the atom bomb at first, people get into a state; but after a little while they forget it.

If you have perpetually mounting crises, of course, it will be different. The truth is, though, that the thought of an old peril, however great, will not distract people from their daily jobs.

You will have observed that since the first atom bombs were exploded the birth rate has continued to go up. That is a reliable test.

I should say that the fear of unemployment, which is something everyone understands, has a much greater social effect than the fear of atom bombs.

And the international effects? Do we seem to you to have reached a strategic stalemate? Is there now a new basis far discussion between Russia and the West?

I think the existence of the hydrogen bomb presents a perfectly clear alternative to all the Governments of the world. Will they submit to an international authority, or shall the human race die out?

I am afraid that most Governments and most individuals will refuse to face that alternative. They so dislike the idea of international government that they dodge the issue whenever they can.

Ask the man in the street if he is prepared to have the British Navy partly under the orders of Russians. His hair will stand on end.

Yet that is what we must think about.

You see no virtue in any proposed that the experiments should be stopped?

None whatever, unless we have found a way of causing the Russian experiments to be stopped, too.

In my opinion, there is only one way. It is to convince the Russians beyond doubt that they can win no victory: that they cannot ever Communise the world with the hydrogen bomb.

Perhaps they are beginning to feel that, It seems to me to be significant that the Russian leaders are now allowing the Russian people to know of the devastation to be expected from an atomic wax.

But I would hasten the process. I would invite all the Governments of the world, and particularly the Russians, to send observers to see the results of the American tests. It ought to be made as plain as it can be made.

There is one more thing we should do. We should diminish the anti-Communist tirades that are now so freely indulged in. We should try hard to bring about a return to international good manners. That would be a great help.

And if - or when - the Russians are convinced?

I think it ought to be possible to lessen the tension and to satisfy the Russians that there is no promise for them in atomic war. Then the first, vital step will have to be taken.

We shall have to set up an arrangement under which all fissionable raw material is owned by an international authority, and is only mined and processed by that authority. No nation or individual must have actress to fissionable raw material.

And there would have to be an international inspectorate to ensure that this law is maintained.

The Russians have a morbid fear of being inspected. We shall have to help them to overcome it. For until they are agreeable to it nothing can be effectively done.

The H-bomb tests must be helping to persuade them. Hence to put off the tests would simply be to put off the day of agreement. It goes without saying that we, too, must always be ready to negotiate and to agree.

Once this first, vital agreement has been reached it should be possible, gradually, to extend international control.

That is the only answer I can see.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!