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Title:      The Letters of Evelyn Underhill
Author:     Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941)
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Title:      The Letters of Evelyn Underhill
Author:     Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941)

Edited with an Introduction by Charles Williams (1886-1945)

With Two Illustrations


First published 1943



Part One. 1899-1919
Part Two. 1923-1932
Part Three. 1933-1939
Part 4. 1939-1941

To A FRIEND 1923-41


EVELYN UNDERBILL, 1933 Frontispiece
THE CHAPEL, PLESHEY RETREAT HOUSE, at the end of the text.


Section 1

EVELYN UNDERHILL was born in the afternoon of 6 December, 1875 at
Wolverhampton. Her father was Arthur--afterwards Sir Arthur--
Underhill. He was a distinguished barrister and a bencher of
Lincoln's Inn, son of Henry Underhill for some time Town Clerk of
Wolverhampton; her mother was Alice Lucy Ironmonger. The family home
was always in London--a pleasant well-to-do home of what used to be
called the Tory kind. She was educated there, except for some three
years (1888-1891) till she was sixteen at a private school at
Folkestone; afterwards in London she went to King's College for
Women, where she read history and botany.

Her young experience, however, included also the sea and Europe. Her
father was an enthusiastic yachtsman; he was founder and for many
years Commodore of the Royal Cruising Club. In 1888 she went for her
first cruise in his yacht Amoretta. The log-book which she kept
records her learning to sail and to sketch. She became a good
small-boat sailor-she could race and win prizes; she had all her
life a passion for efficiency.

The family were friends with their neighbours, the Stuart Moores,
whose yacht often sailed in company with the Amoretta. The Stuart
Moore boys were her chief-almost her only-young companions. A letter
written to her mother when she was fourteen says: "I hope you
enjoyed the Nevilles' dinner-party; have they got an eligible child
as a companion for me? if so, mind you let me know her." In that
sense she was a lonely child-which not all only children are, for
she had (it is clear) all her life a great capacity for and
enjoyment of friendship. But two things began during that childhood.
One was her companionship in activity with Hubert Stuart Moore, who
afterwards became her husband; the other was her own personal
activity of writing. She had begun this before she was sixteen, for
she then won the first prize in a short-story competition organized
by the magazine Hearth and Home, and she occasionally followed this
story with others. It was after 1898, when she was twenty-three and
living with her family in London, that in general her own
friendships began. She moved, though not exclusively, in one of the
"literary sets" of the day. She knew Maurice Hewlett, and at his
house met Laurence Housman and Sarah Bernhardt. She also became
acquainted with May Sinclair--now too little recollected; for the
present writer and for others of the then young her novels had a
quite unusual attraction; with Arthur Machen--whose interests were,
in some respects, very like her own, though in the expression of
them she turned rather to actuality and he to myth; with Mrs.
Baillie Reynolds and Mrs. Belloc Lowndes, Mary Cholmondeley and
Evelyn Sharp, Mrs. Ernest Dowson and Mrs. Wilfrid Ward; and with
Arthur Symons But her chief friendship was with Ethel Ross Barker,
and this was one of the most intimate of her life; it ended only
with her friend's death in 1920.

In 1890 she had first gone to France; she wrote of it: "France is
charming." But from 1898 she began a habit of going to Europe with
her mother in the spring of every year-a habit which lasted until
1913. In 1898 they went to Lucerne, Lugano, Como, and Milan; and she
alone went on to Florence. In 1899 she was at Florence again; in
1900 she first saw Chartres; in 1901, Assisi. In 1910 she went first
to Rome. She wrote from Florence during her first (1898) visit:
"Once you have found it out (what Italian painters are really trying
to paint) you must love them till the end of your days"; and again:
"This place has taught me more than I can tell you; it's a sort of
gradual unconscious growing into an understanding of things." She
was then twenty-two.

Meanwhile, in 1902, her first book had been published. It was a book
of humorous verse, called A Bar-Lamb's Ballad-Book. It was concerned
with the law, and was no doubt written under the legal influence of
her father and her future husband. Astonishingly? the book remains
amusing forty years afterwards. Two quotations from it may be
risked. The first is the explanation that legal heirs are:

Dimly perceived through a philoprogenitive mist.
 Moreover, they may not even be descendants:
 They are sometimes your Maiden Aunt,
 Or the Cousin that you particularly object to,
 They may also be your Step-brother's Son,
 Or, very occasionally, your Grandmama.

The second is from the poem on the case of Jones v. Lock, where "A
father put a cheque into the hands of his son nine months old,
saying, 'I give this to Baby for himself,' and then took the cheque
back, put it away, and shortly afterwards died. Held that there was
no valid gift of the cheque to the son."

The elder children, grown adult in greed,
 Cast doubts upon their parent's dying deed;
 Safe in possession, little did they reck
 If he had said, "This shall be Baby's cheque."

The outraged infant thought,
 "I'll go before the Court,
 And ask, by my next friend, for some redress."
 Alas! not more, but less

Were his possessions when the suit was done,
 For the defendants won.
 The gift, without delivery, was not good;
 No valuable consideration shown:
 Such acts are ratified by this alone.

The plaintiff, much astonied, went away,
 The action lost, and all the costs to pay:
 And homeward riding in his little pram
 Allowed his Nurse to call him "Martyred lamb!"

 Refused his bottle, wailed in infant grief,
 And called the Judge a wicked, naughty thief.
 In after life, 'tis said, he always swore
 "Possession is Ten points of English Law." UNDERBILL

In the year (1902) in which this book appeared, she had begun work
on her first novel. It was published, under the title of The Grey
World, in 1904; and another, The Lost Word, begun in 1904, appeared
in 1907. The third and last novel, The Column of Dust, appeared in
1908. All three had a reasonably good reception, but they are not,
it must be admitted, as good as one expects them to be. The Column
of Dust has a superb theme; it has possibilities of wit, terror,
and sublimity. The wit is there, but hardly the terror or sublimity.
The description of the working of a magical rite at the opening is
good; and so, in a different way, is the other Rite of the Helpers
of the Holy Souls towards the close. But though the moral of the
rest of the book is not less than noble, its literary effect is less
than exciting. She had not, on the whole, an imaginative style; the
reason may be that her imagination moved too near to serious faith
to allow itself, in her writings, much leisure.

Her other activities about this time included a partial
collaboration with J. A. Herbert, Deputy Keeper of MSS. at the
British Museum, in a book on illuminated MSS. Eventually, however,
this was abandoned, and the book was issued under his name alone.
From 1907 onwards also she was beginning work on her book Mysticism,
which appeared in 1911. Among the occupations of her leisure was
bookbinding, which she had taken up much earlier and in which she
became extremely proficient.

There remain two dates of her personal life, both of the first
importance. In 1907 she was married to Hubert Stuart Moore. Their
house was at 50 Campden Hill Square, a short walk from her parents'
home. In 1911 began her friendship with Friedrich von Hugel.

Section 2

It is necessary to pause here. In 1911 she was married; she had
published her first serious book; she knew von Hugel. She had
already begun to correspond with "inquirers"; her first known letter
of the kind is given among those that follow, dated 20 November,
1904, and by 1911 there had been others. Of what sort, at the age of
thirty-six, was her mind?

It was said above that she knew Europe and the sea. It would be
possible and even easy to make play with the sea-likeness; she might
in a careless moment, have done so herself, for she had, in her
careless moments, a slight tendency towards such fancies. It may
well be supposed indeed that something of her ardour and her delight
enjoyed the sea as they enjoyed that other sublimer sea which the
author of the Apocalypse saw stretched before the eyed creatures and
the Throne. Such images, however pleasant, are literary. But the
experience of Europe was not only literary but historical, and not
only historical but contemporary. In 1892 she had written in a paper
headed: "My Thoughts and Opinions written on the eve of my
seventeenth birthday, December 5,1892": "I hope my mind will not
grow tall to look down on things but wide to embrace all sorts of
things during the coming year." Many girls at seventeen might have
aspired so; some might have succeeded. What was remarkable about
Evelyn Underhill was that, during the next few years, she not only
"embraced" friends; she saw and "embraced" Europe. It has, in the
fifty years that have since passed, become easy and indeed
fashionable, to talk of "the West," of "our culture," and even of
"Catholic culture." It was not so easy in the first decade of those
fifty years, nor did she talk of it. But she knew, at first
obscurely, what it was.

It may have been partly due to the fact that she had had, as she
said, no "orthodox education." It was true both in a general and
in a particular sense. "I wasn't," she wrote, "brought up to
religion." At home it seems to have been of no importance; at school
it was something more, for she was certainly confirmed (11 March,
1891, at Christ Church, Folkestone, and made her first Communion at
St. Paul's, Sandgate, on Easter Sunday), and a few great names had
passed across her mind. "Last Sunday we went to a lecture in the
church, it was on Milton's Paradise Lost, and was horribly
uninteresting, all about dogmas and conclusions to be drawn from the
poem and such stuff" (21 June, 1889). "The colporteur came to-day,
and I have bought some lovely sensational moral stories for Sunday
reading. . . . Mine are called 'Run down,' 'Martin Luther,' and
'Ruth Erskine's Crosses.' Oh! please can you tell me who Spinoza
was, he was mentioned in the sermon last Sunday; he seems to have
been a not very nice person from what Mr. Wakefield said." In spite
of these rather unfortunate instances, she does not seem, though she
may not have been told many of the right things about Europe and
Christendom, to have been told, too forcibly, too many of the wrong.
Even so, the wrong things-meaning the merely incorrect-were in the
air. She escaped them, or she threw them off. She came from England
and the sea to Europe, and she did not patronize it. It was the
first mark of her honour.

In the same paper of "Thoughts and Opinions" she says that her ideal
woman "should have a due sense of proportion." It was perhaps
something of this quality that caused her, six years later, to write
of the Italian painters that they had taught her a gradual growth
"into an understanding of things." She was then enjoying them as
art; at that age one may enjoy religion as art; it is permissible
and proper. Also the Italian painters were meant to be enjoyed as
art. But she was becoming aware that the inner diagram of that
particular art-as indeed of much other-was not only art but
religion. And in this art a particular, a defined, religion. She was
already becoming aware of That which is called the Church.

It must be repeated that that was by no means common at the end of
the nineteenth century, especially for a nature not habitually pious
or docile. Her mind was, for a woman, unusually inclined to the
abstract. She says herself: "Philosophy brought me round to an
intelligent and irresponsible sort of theism which I enjoyed
thoroughly but which did not last long. Gradually the net closed in
on me...." She had joined (in 1904) an occult companionship known as
the Order of the G.D., and belonged to it for some years. She was
not yet impressed by the person of our Lord; when she wrote of "the
Christian net" she was accurate. A diagram and an energy which she
certainly had not expected had appeared to her, and she already
understood many things about it. She understood, for example, many
saints. Most of us are naturally, a little eclectic about the
saints; the present writer for instance, has never been able to feel
much excitement about St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thomas More
(though he does not think that creditable to him). Dr. Inge has been
a little lordly about Angela of Foligno. But Evelyn Underhill quite
early understood not only that they were saints but that they were
different saints. She wrote intelligently not only about Francis but
about Angela. She submitted herself to detail; she was, as has been
said, in all things efficient.

She had seen the Catholic pattern. The Church had appeared to her.
She was not, at first, prepared to yield wholly to it. In February
1907 her friend, Ethel Ross Barker, was staying at the Franciscan
convent of St. Mary of the Angels in Southampton, and she went there
to join her for a week-end. It was a convent of Perpetual Adoration.
She noted in a diary (4 February, 1907): "The wonderful week began."
She wrote (14 May, 1911): "The day after I came away (the Feast of
the Purification), a good deal shaken but unconvinced, I was
'converted' quite suddenly, once and for all, by an overpowering
vision which had really no specifically Christian elements, but yet
convinced me that the Catholic religion was true." By Catholic there
she meant the Roman. On her return to London she wrote to Robert
Hugh Benson, whom she knew and had heard preach, putting her chief
difficulties--difficulties of the reason--before him. He replied
immediately and sympathetically; the correspondence continued, and
by the beginning of April she had all but determined to make her

But her way was not to be as simple as that. Something occurred
which was not so much itself the hindrance as the occasion of the
discovery of the real hindrance. Her engagement had been announced
on 3 July, 1906, and she was to be married in 1907, and her future
husband was, not unnaturally, unprepared to assent to what he
regarded  as an alteration in their relations. He insisted that she
should delay at least six months. She was unwilling to do so, but
she was convinced that it was her business to do so; that is, she
was not convinced of the complete authority of the Roman Church. She
made this clear to Benson. "I think," he wrote to her, "you are
perfectly right to offer to wait-for your own sake as well as for
his--until the thing becomes clear and established." She was married
on 3 July, 1907; on the same day Benson "very gladly" said Mass for
her intention; he wrote that he could see that "You are not yet
certain of the Catholic position, and that the Church is not yet
plain to you. That being so, let me congratulate you on your
marriage, and wish you every conceivable happiness-above all, the
happiness of one day receiving the full gift of Faith."

A further development in the same year greatly affected her. In
September the encyclical, Pascendi gregis, of Pius X against
Modernism was issued. She says: "The Modernist storm broke." It had
effects in England. George Tyrrell became excommunicate; it was not
clear what others would be similarly affected. Evelyn Underhill,
though she had this vivid sense of the Catholic and Roman pattern,
was not clear on her duty. Or rather, she was clear; the Papal
Encyclical appeared to her to demand, on some points, a surrender of
her intellectual honour. It is easier now to see that this need not
have been so; and even to see that on the points where she was then
obstinate, she eventually came to the orthodox belief. But as things
were then, she was thrown, with others, into a most difficult
position. She dissented, and was inflexibly called; she assented,
and was inflexibly refused.

The matter on which she found difficulty was probably that discussed
in von Hugel's letter to her of 26-9 December, 1921: the question of
the historicity of certain alleged facts. Von Hugel's discussion of
this may be found in that letter (Selected Letters edited by Bernard
Holland). The immediate point, however is not the intellectual
controversy, but the effect on Evelyn Underhill of the position in
which she found herself. She was between two impossibilities; say
rather, she found herself face to face with an Impossibility--
something that could not be, and vet was. She wrote in 1911: "I
cannot accept Anglicanism instead; it seems an entirely different
thing. So here I am, going to Mass and so on, but entirely deprived
of the sacraments" (14 May, 1911). And again: "It is all wrong, but
at present I do not know what else to do." Nor, in fact, does one.
One is apparently left to live alone with an Impossibility. It is
imperative and in the end possible, to believe that the
Impossibility does its own impossible work; to believe so, in
whatever form the crisis takes, is of the substance of faith;
especially if we add to it Kierkegaard's phrase that, in any
resolution of the crisis, so far as the human spirit is concerned,
"before God man is always in the wrong." That is not, by itself, the
complete truth; we should have to add to it the opposite and
complementary phrase that, also before God, man is always in the
right; but the other is the more important for our own sense of any
resolution. The only rightness there is in the Impossible itself--"
to whom be glory in the Church for ever through Christ Jesus."

But before the resolution of the crisis, whatever that may be, it is
necessary to live with that Impossibility. One may be united with it
by faith--that is blessed. But one is also united with it by
another, more painful, method. The Impossibility, however we write
about it, is not impossible only in a high and abstract intellectual
sense, but in a low and deadly. It is the details of the
Impossibility that press home-the sordid, the comic, the agonizing.
"I asked Him," wrote Leon Bloy (Letters to his Fiancee), "to let me
suffer for my friends and for Him both in body and soul. But I had
envisaged noble and pure suffering which, as I now see, would only
have been another form of joy. I had never dreamed of this infernal
suffering that He has sent me." It is in the non-relation of human
life to any decency that the human heart finds its--exile? not
exile, for it has then no proper sense of its home. All it knows is
that everything is "most contrary to its disposition." It weeps
without hope; it grudges without charity; it brags against others
with a beguiling plausibility; it hides itself from others in a
pride of spiritual derision; the thing it cannot bear is naked
love--nor till it can bear it can it find it, nor till it can find
it can it bear it. This is the inward Impossibility, which remains
no less impossible because the mind tries to sweeten it to something
other than itself--perhaps even with every kind of literary
delicacy, the equivalent in our day of the visions and locutions of
the past. There is but one outer test of true faith--"the incessant
production of good works"; there is but one inner--patience.

In this situation Evelyn Underhill turned to a study of that Way of
the Spirit which is called Mysticism. She began work on a book on
the subject. It was called Mysticism, but it was also called by a
sub-title--A Study in the Nature and Development of Man's Spiritual
Consciousness. The portentous phrase does her some injustice; she
was not like that. She was truly concerned with real things; the
word "reality," though she was inclined to use it, has by now a
certain cheapness about it. She wrote in the Preface:

This book falls naturally into two parts; each of which is really
complete in itself, though they are in a sense complementary to one
another. Whilst the second and longest part contains a somewhat
detailed study of the nature and development of man's spiritual or
mystical consciousness, the first is intended rather to provide an
introduction to the general subject of mysticism. Exhibiting it by
turns from the point of view of metaphysics, psychology, and
symbolism, it is an attempt to gather between the covers of one
volume information at present scattered amongst many monographs and
text-books written in divers tongues, and to give the student in a
compact form at least the elementary facts in regard to each of
those subjects which are most closely connected with the study of
the mystics.

The present writer must have read it first within a year or two of
its appearance. What then remained in his mind-and still remains-was
not the analysis of the relation between mysticism and magic or
symbolism, and not the psychological analysis, but the authentic
sayings-or rather the general sense of the authentic sayings. It was
a great book precisely not because of its originality, but because
of its immediate sense of authenticity. Open it now three times at

(1) "The just man goes towards God by inward love in perpetual
activity and in God in virtue of his fruitive affection in eternal

(2) "There is none other God than He that none may know, which may
not be known. No, soothly, no! Without fail, No, says she (the
contemplative soul). He only is my God that none can one word of
say, nor all they of Paradise one only point attain nor understand,
for all the knowing that they have of Him."--The Mirror of Simple

(3) The soul "is so full of peace that though she press her flesh,
her nerves, her bones, no other thing comes forth from them than

These three sentences were exhibited by three random openings, and
so it is with the whole book. To the reader, Evelyn Underhill, as
the author, was altogether occulted by the dark or shining
fierceness of the sayings she had collected. In the Preface to the
twelfth edition (1930) she wrote that the first term of the mystic
life must be sought "in the Vision of the Principle, as St. Gregory
the Great taught long ago." It was that Vision of the Principle
which these sayings illuminated and to which they pointed. But it
was also that Vision of the Principle which now, for her personal
life, involved the Vision of an Impossibility. She was united with
it by faith alone. The book is not only a noble book on its subject;
it not only witnesses continually to the authenticity of the saints;
it is also one of her own "good works" and an expression of her own
patience. It appeared in 1911; in the same year she wrote (15 May,
1911): "But I cling to St. Paul. ... Is it not amazing . .. when one
can see the action of the Spirit of God; so gentle, ceaseless,
inexorable, pressing you bit by bit whether you like it or not
towards your home? I feel this more and more as the dominating
thing-it seems so odd that everyone does not feel and notice it
happening, don't you think?"

It might, however, be held that when she wrote that book, and still
more obviously when she wrote The Mystic Way which followed it in
1913, her attention was still a little disproportioned. Given her
condition at the time, it could hardly be otherwise. The existence
of the Impossibility, her doubt of certain historicities, her
inevitable reliance on the workings of the interior Spirit, all
tended to give her work a tone, which she did not altogether mean
even then, and of which she afterwards disapproved, of interior
interpretation. The Christian dogmas and the Christian miracles held
a hint of the symbolical-not as they must do because they mean more
than we can know, but as they ought not to do because so they deny
themselves. Thus in the preface to The Mystic Way she spoke of
Christianity beginning "as a mystical movement of the purest kind."
"The sequence of psychological states" which is the Mystic Way is a
fact "attested by countless mystics of every period and creed"; "yet
its primary importance for the understanding of our earliest
Christian documents has been generally overlooked." The book, she
says, ends "with a study of the liturgy of the Mass: the
characteristic artform in which the mystical consciousness of
Christendom has expressed itself." No doubt these phrases, and
others like them, could be understood in an orthodox sense, but no
doubt also they would not be normally understood in any such sense.
The Mystic Way is a valuable book for those who know the Faith, but
she herself came to distrust and dislike it as "false doctrine" and
the reason is clear. She even modified, or at least indicated a
modification of, Mysticism. In the preface to the twelfth edition
(1930) she wrote:

Were I, now, planning this book for the first time, its arguments
would be differently stated. More emphasis would be given (a) to the
concrete, richly living yet unchanging character of the Reality over
against the mystic, as the first term, cause and incentive of his
experience; (b) to that paradox of utter contrast yet profound
relation between the Creator and the creature, God and the soul,
which makes possible his development; (c) to the predominant part
played in that development by the free and prevenient action of the
Supernatural--in theological language, by "grace"--as against all
merely evolutionary or emergent theories of spiritual transcendence.
I feel more and more that no psychological or evolutionary treatment
of man's spiritual history can be adequate which ignores the element
of "given-ness" in all genuine mystical knowledge.

This change in her intellectual tendencies came, no doubt, partly
from the influence of von Hugel. In a letter of thanks for The
Mystic Way (13 May, 1913), he wrote that he had not read it
properly, but: "I see how fine the structure of the book is and how
carefully you seem to have borne in mind the all-important place and
function in religion of liturgical acts, of the Sacraments, of the
Visible, of History. You will remember that I was not quite [sic]
about this side of the question in your Mysticism, and the able
reviewer of this new book of yours in The Times . . . seemed to me
clearly insufficient on this profoundly important point. I am so
very pleased too that the structure of your book proclaims the three
stages of the New Testament, the Synoptics, St. Paul, the 4th

Section 3

By 1913 then she had known the first great crisis of the Impossible,
and had set herself to be reconciled to it by faith and by
obedience. She knew the dear intimacies of mortal existence. She
knew, also, a master. Of what kind was his influence?

The letters between them do not exist. She was his friend from 1911
to 1921; in 1921 she put herself formally under his direction. He
died in 1925. The only definite account of their relations is what
may be deduced from a paper called Finite and Infinite: a Study of
the Philosophy of Baron Friedrich von Hugel, with a further note on
Von Hugel as a Spiritual Teacher. These were included in a volume
called Mixed Pasture, published in 1933. They may, roughly, be
analysed as follows.

She puts, first, the doctrine of "the Reality of Finites and the
Reality of God"-the title of the Baron's unfinished Gifford
Lectures. This involved the double set of duties-to this world and
to that other. So put, it sounds easy and accepted, but in fact both
the Baron and Evelyn Underhill carried this definition further and
made of this "limited dualism" a kind of unity. She writes: "'A
polarity, a tension, a friction, a one thing at work in distinctly
another thing'--this was for him a fundamental and inevitable
character of our spiritual life." It was this sense of organism
profoundly living and working in organism which caused him to doubt
abstractions and even "pure mysticism." "The mystic sense flies
straight to God and thinks it finds all its delight in him alone.'
But a careful examination always discovers many sensible,
institutional, and historical contributions to this supposed
ineffable experience."

She says of him: "I cannot but think that this intense consciousness
of the close-knit texture of the realities within which we live and
move--will come to be recognized as von Hugel's ruling intuition,
and one of the chief contributions made by him to religious
thought." The present writer is not in a position to judge whether
this is a faithful interpretation of von Hugel. But he is fairly
certain that it was a centre of Evelyn Underhill's own thought and
experience. She continues to quote: "We all need one another . . .
souls, all souls, are deeply interconnected. The Church at its best
and deepest is just that--that interdependence of all the broken and
meek, all the self-oblivion, all the reaching out to God and souls
. . . nothing is more real than this interconnection. We can suffer
for one another--no soul is saved alone and by its own efforts."
Elsewhere she writes that "Baron von Hugel was fond of saying that
the Church came first and the mystics afterwards." The Church is
something more than the totality of the mystics. 'L'esprit pour
vous,' said Huvelin to his great pupil, 'c'est un esprit de
benediction de toute creature,' and this was the spirit the Baron
strove to cultivate in all his pupils in the interior life. "The
principle of this is God; nay, as the theologians teach, God is
Himself each One working in the Others, the 'co-inherence' of the
Trinity; and it might be added that it was in this sense also that
He made man in the image of Himself."

On one of the few occasions on which the present writer met Evelyn
Underhill, she permitted herself to speak of one of his own novels
which had something of this sort of theme. In it he had written of
two characters: "He endured her sensitiveness, but not her sin; the
substitution there, if indeed there is a substitution, is hidden in
the central mystery of Christendom." It was a well-meant sentence,
but she charmingly corrected it. She said something to this effect:
"Oh, but the saints do--they say they do. St. Catherine said: 'I
will bear your sins.'" She spoke from a very great knowledge of the
records of sanctity, but I should be rather more than willing to
believe that she spoke from a lofty practice of sanctity and from a
great understanding of the laws that govern, and the labours that
are given to, sanctity. The three elements which she finally
stressed in von Hugel's work were the transcendental, the
incarnational, and the institutional; all these he encouraged in his
pupils and in her. She was at heart so naturally orthodox that, in a
way, it even seems unnecessary. But it is possible, as was said
before, that she might have over-tended to a wholly subjective
understanding of the Way. In the period of her difficulty she might
have come to interpret the Church and the Mysteries of the Church as
purely symbolical, and the historicity of the tale as false. It
might have happened; it did not. Von Hugel "had himself faced every
scientific and critical difficulty, yet remained a devoted son of
the Roman Catholic Church." His pupil took the lesson to heart. By
1919 (7 January) she was writing to a correspondent of "guides who
seem to me rather doubtful--e.g. Molinos, as to whose aberrations I
agree with Baron von Hugel, and (especially) Mrs. L--a lady whose
spiritual practices were doubtless better than her declarations on
the subject." But she retained, as all high disciples of high
masters do, a vivid judgement of her own. She wrote (28 August,
1924): "The Baron dosed me with Fenelon at one time, till I told him
that a Perfect Gentleman giving judicious spiritual advice to
Perfect Ladies was no good to me-since when his name has not been
mentioned between us!" Not that she underrated either Fenelon or his
advice; "Surtout, chere Madame, evitez les fatigues" was a maxim, at
certain times, of Fenelon, of von Hugel, and of her own.

She had always had a high sense of the relation of the soul to
others. In The Column of Dust she had written of the Vespers of the
Dead said by the Helpers of the Holy Souls. It is worth quoting a
few paragraphs: "But presently she woke from her dream, called forth
by the high and urgent voice which led these poignant ceremonies.
She heard it cry with a strange accent of authority--a certainty
that its invocation could not be in vain--'All ye orders of Blessed
Spirits!' and the congregation took it up, finished the phrase,
'Pray for the faithful departed.'" They had gone, it seemed, beyond
the limit of their first petitions. The supplication of divine
omnipotence was over. Now they extended their appeal, humanized it,
claimed the help of the triumphant dead in caring for their poorer
kin. "Saint Gregory-Saint Augustine-Saint Ignatius!" cried the
appellant voice: and the eager chorus followed with its supreme
demand, "Pray for the faithful departed." None were excused from
this duty. One after another, the torch-bearers of the faith were
claimed, petitioned: and with so assured an accent that Constance
almost expected a quiet presence to answer from beyond the radiant
mist. It went on, that roll-call of the happy dead; and with each
name the reiterated, imperative, united cry for help. They called
them down into this little chapel, claimed their kinship; insistent
on the necessity of their suffrages, expectant of their brotherly
aid. They were reminded of their humanity, these elect and shining
spirits, snatched from the study, the brothel, the battlefield, the
court. "You," these intent and amazing women seemed to say, "you,
even more than we, should work, should plead for them. You have
achieved: you have entered the Light: you are there. We do our best,
but we are so far away. We lack your transcendent opportunity.
Therefore we remind you of your fraternal obligations-all ye holy
doctors, popes, and confessors, pray for the faithful departed."

This awareness had developed, and under von Hugel's influence had
recovered that visible, that institutional, order which it might
have lost. It included, to her degree, both the dead and the living;
it meant for her now chiefly two things--the poor and the Church.
"God, Christ, and the Poor," she quoted from her master, and she
attended to all. She came, at one period, to make a habit of
visiting in North Kensington and spending two afternoons a week in
the slums there. And she encouraged the same thing, whenever
possible, among those who came to her for direction. The strange
sense in which the poor, merely by being poor, are thought of as
being the Body of Christ; almost as if the mere not-having made a
man closer to the Incarnate than ever, in itself, could the
having, seems to have been familiar to her, as indeed were all the
aspects of mystical thought. "We are sewing the miserable little
patches we call charity and social service into the rotten garment
of our corporate life Thousands of us are eating what we suppose to
be the Bread of Eternal Life at our brothers' expense." When that
happens, it is certainly true that "we eat and drink our own
damnation." She says, in a paper read at the Copec Conference at
Birmingham, 1924, that the mystics had a hard name for this kind of
thing. "They called it 'adoring Christ's Head and neglecting His
feet.' 'Surely,' says one, 'He will more thank thee and reward thee
for the meek washing of His feet when they be very foul, and yield
an ill savour to thee, than for all the curious painting and fair
dressing thou canst make about His head by thy devout
She quoted in another paper, read in 1922 at the
Inter-Denominational Summer School of Social Services, a great
passage from Walter Hilton concerning the City of God--"it seemeth
. . . six cubits and a palm of length. By six cubits are understood
the perfection of a man's work; and by the palm, a little touch of
contemplation." This, she said, was the true formula--"skill and
vision." "St. Teresa said that to give our Lord a perfect service
Martha and Mary must combine."

Because her own business was chiefly to train young Marys, she did
not forget their and our debt to the Marthas, and she was humbly and
acutely aware of those unknown and harassed Marthas at the expense
of whose pain we all live. Even in religion, though she wrote
"unless one can stretch into one's own devotional life to make it
avail for them ... it remains more or less a spiritual luxury,"
she also wrote: "One comes away . . . nearer God. They give one far
more than one can ever give them." Her sense of the spirit never
left her blind to the bibliographical details of a book, nor did she
forget this world in her attention to the other. But the other had
still its own problem here, and in 1921 she solved it as best she
could; she became a practising member of the Church of England.

It would be unfair to represent this as a compromise--conscious or
unconscious; in fact, of course, it cannot be a compromise. It is
impossible to compromise on the Church of England; her sacraments
are sacraments or they are not. It is possible to believe either; it
is possible to refuse decision. But it is not possible honestly to
say that they will do instead of something which ought to be
substituted for them. We cannot accuse Evelyn Underhill of any such
dishonesty. So far therefore she must have modified her earlier
position. She no longer said: "I cannot accept Anglicanism"; she did
accept it. It is to be admitted that she accepted it at first
without enthusiasm. She had been baptized and confirmed into that
Church. But she had not been brought up in it; she had not learned
from it the great dogmas nor seen by its light the illumination of
her experiences. It had not been to her, as it has been to so many,
"the Vision of the Principle," so that, whatever great doctors and
august traditions others may acknowledge beyond it, it is still to
them control and direction, origin, nourishment, and glory. Her
realization of the Vision had been related to the Holy Roman Church,
and there for her the metropolitan centre of Christendom lay. The
letter to Dom John Chapman (9 June, 1931) presents the facts as far
as she could see them, and no-one else is likely to see them better.
"I ... solidly believe in the Catholic status of the Anglican
Church, as to orders and sacraments, little as I appreciate many of
the things done among us. ... The whole point to me is that our Lord
has put me here, keeps on giving me more and more jobs to do for
souls here, and has never given me orders to move. ... I know what
the push of God is like, and should obey it if it came-at least I
trust and believe so." Von Hugel had gone into the matter in 1921,
had said that she was only to move if God called her, and "was
satisfied that up to date I had not received this call." She had, in
her earlier days, experienced the impact of the Impossible. The only
proper result of that, in any life, is to accept the working of the
Impossible along such possibilities as it condescends to create.
She never forgot the one, but she never refused the other. To call
such obedience-whether it takes place in religion, in politics, in
any love-affair, or whatever-a compromise is to underrate, in her as
in others, both the fidelity and the labour. It is necessary to
maintain both, as and how the Impossible decrees. This she did; it
was the meaning of her submission. Her period of attention and
patience had lasted for some fourteen years. The proof of her
calling-or, at least, the value of it-was in her motherhood of

Of the poor and the Church she had-at least, since her conversion in
1907-always been conscious. There was, however, something else which
von Hugel did for her; it is described in a letter not reprinted in
the body of this volume. The sentences are so important that they
ought to be quoted: the date seems to be about 1927: "Until about
five years ago I had never had any personal experience of our Lord.
I didn't know what it meant. I was a convinced theocentric, thought
most Christocentric language and practice sentimental and
superstitious and was very handy to shallow psychological
explanations of it. I had, from time to time, what seemed to be
vivid experiences of God, from the time of my conversion from
agnosticism (about twenty years ago now). This position I thought to
be that of a broadminded and intelligent Christian, but when ... I
went to the Baron [this refers to the 1921 directorate] he said I
wasn't much better than a Unitarian! Somehow by his prayers or
something he compelled me to experience Christ. He never said
anything more about it--but I know humanly speaking he did it. It
took about four months--it was like watching the sun rise very
slowly--- then suddenly one knew what it was.

"Now for some time after this I remained predominantly theocentric.
But for the next two or three years, and specially lately, more and
more my whole religious life and experience seem to centre with
increasing vividness on our Lord-that sort of quasi-involuntary
prayer which springs up of itself at odd moments is always now
directed to Him. I seem to have to try as it were to live more and
more towards Him only-and it's all this which makes it so utterly
heartbreaking when one is horrid. The New Testament which once I
couldn't make much of, or meditate on, now seems full of things
never noticed--all gets more and more alive and compelling and
beautiful. . . . Holy Communion which at first I did simply under
obedience, gets more and more wonderful too. It's in that world and
atmosphere one lives."

She adds two notes on this. The first is, as might be expected, a
reminder to herself that such "consolations have a danger about
them. Their best characteristic indeed is that they have, when real,
not only a beauty and goodness in themselves, but also, as it were
by a proper accident, an encouragement of lucidity and accuracy. Our
Lord, it may be said, increases not only faith but scepticism, each
in its proper relation to the other." She continues (secondly):
"This makes it so much more difficult than before to meet on their
own ground the people who have arrived at a sort of all-overish
theism and feel 'Hindus are often nearer God than Christians,' and
that there are 'other ways to Him' and so forth... . When they bring
out all the stuff about Christ being a World Teacher, or the
parallels of the Mystery religions, the high quality of Buddhist
ethics, etc., I just feel what shallow, boring, unreal twaddle it
is! But feeling that doesn't win souls for God."

The operation between von Hugel and Evelyn Underhill was, of course,
invited. Neither he nor she was apt to "interfere" otherwise. It
would be a highly improper course for anyone to attempt to "compel"
anyone into a state which they themselves refused. But, that
allowed, it seems to be an example of the working of organism within
organism about which she wrote in speaking of him. It is an
example of what is known by the Church as the Communion of Saints
--meaning those living in the Mystical Body. The result was to
establish her heart and mind more and more clearly and deeply in the
"sound doctrine" and high devotion which is the response of the
Communion of Saints to our Lord.

Her experience developed during 1923-4. In February, 1923, she
wrote: "Yesterday I saw and felt how it actually is that we are in
Christ and He in us-the interpenetration of Spirit-and all of us
merged together in Him actually, and so fully described as His Body.
The way to full intercessory power must, I think, be along this
path. Quite half of what I saw slipped away from me, but the
certitude remains: 'the fragrance of those desirable meats,' as St.
Augustine says. Curious how keen all Saints are about food." And at
Easter in the next year she noted: "One comes to realize the
institution of the Blessed Sacrament as the first moment and sum of
the whole Passion-' He gave Himself in either kind.' That is really
the whole story; and the same demand is more and more completely
made on us." The Union, after Its own manner, was authentically
begun in her, and her authenticity testified to it, both by her own
words and by those she copied. Thus in the same year she noted
privately, from the Mirror of Simple Souls: "The soul feels no joy,
for she herself is joy." Both parts of the phrase are intense.

Section 4

From 1911 onwards her life consisted of religious work, either
private or public, interspersed with holidays abroad as long as
possible. The private work meant, in general, cases of direction;
the public, her addresses, retreats, and books. Most of the letters
which follow exhibit the first; a few notes on the second may be
given here.

These thirty years, from 1911 until her death in 1941, are divided
almost equally into two parts by the death of von Hugel in 1925. She
had begun taking retreats in 1924, after the experience described in
the last section. But she had taken part in public religious
activities before then. Thus in 1912 she had joined the Committee of
the Religious Thought Society, and took a good part in its work. She
had always, as long as her health permitted, to yield to the
demands of her own very practical and efficient nature; if she took
part in anything, it had to be an active part. Thus, during the
1914-18 period of the war, she worked in the Naval Intelligence
(Africa) department in translation and the preparation of
guide-books-an activity with which, as earlier with the sea, a
delicate fancy might play as consistent with her other and lorldlier
vocation. "I am gradually finding out that most devout persons," she
had written in 1913, "are docetists without knowing it, and that
nothing short of complete unreality will satisfy them." In fact, the
accusation is largely true, though not quite in the sense that she
then meant. But spiritually, she would have asked nothing better
than to be considered an efficient translator and preparer of
guide-books in a time of war. She came to disapprove of The Mystic
Way because she thought it, on the whole, an inaccurate guide-book;
just as she also rather disliked the two little books (The Spiral
Way and The Path of the Eternal Wisdom) which she published under
the pseudonym of John Cordelier because she thought the style faulty
and flowery. This is a great tribute to her authenticity; she was,
to the very end, prepared to purge and elucidate her literary
expression. She accepted criticism with a free and disengaged heart.
Not that--though it seems curious to say so--she was ever primarily
a writer; she was something rather less but much better than that,
as other writers will realize.

But as she was no Docetist, so she was no Manichean. She had, by
nature, a vivid sense of the "reality of finites." It will be seen,
from certain phrases in the following letters, what a love and
interest she had for her cats. Von Hugel had written to her (26-9
December, 1921), in one of his letters of direction: "I much like
your love for your cats. I deeply love my little dog; and Abbe
Huvelin was devoted to his cat. We all three can and will become all
the dearer to God for this our love of our little relations, the
smaller creatures of God." Again it was God incarnate, it was Jesus
of Nazareth, of Gethsemane, of Calvary, and not pure Theism, that
first taught this. The present writer has indeed wondered if some
movement of the mind along these lines was not part of the
preparation for the apprehension of our Lord previously described.
Certainly her apprehension of this world must have been; when she
talked of "Reality" it was not an exclusive but an inclusive Reality
which she meant.

In the same way she was devoted to flowers and birds, as to all
living creatures, and had a keen interest in archaeology. She and
her husband often arranged their holidays with these concerns in
view. Thus they went in one year to Monte Generoso for the sake of
the Alpine flowers, and in other years to Drummond Castle and Malham
Tarn for the sake of the English. She had a passion for mountains,
though she saw a certain irrationality in her ardour-"they are
only heaps of earth." But if the Omnipotence deigned so to create,
why not adore the Omnipotence and (in another kind) the creation?
So, and not otherwise, the single operation proceeded in her.

In 1921 she gave the Upton Lectures on Religion at Manchester
College, Oxford; they were afterwards published as The Life of the
Spirit and the Life of To-day. She was also a member of Copec and
made a contribution to one of its published reports. She was now
generally recognized not only as a "great Christian writer" but as a
person capable of communicating spiritual initiative and power. It
was inevitable therefore that she should be continually asked to
give retreats, addresses, and quiet days, though it is said that on
the whole she rather disapproved of quiet days, "as being too short
to produce much effect and often too little detached from ordinary
life." In this, as in everything, she did not much care for the
exceptional or the incidental; it was normal life, and the food of
normal life, with which only she was concerned. It was for that
reason that she particularly loved the Retreat House at Pleshey,
because it became for her part of a great and awful normality, and
certainly no Retreat House can better deserve the praise. A number
of her addresses were from time to time published in book form.

Her books, on the whole, fall into two classes; one might carry on
the divisions maintained above (but only so as "not to break the
back of the poor phrase") and call them either translations or
guide-books. The first consists of the actual translations and
critical editions which she brought out. Among these are her
editions of Ruysbroeck (1916), of The Cloud of Unknowing (1912), and
of The Scale of Perfection (1923); the books on Ruysbroeck (1915)
and on Jacopone da Todi (1919); Eucharistic Prayers from the Ancient
Liturgies (1939); and such other books, or parts of books, as The
Mystics of the Church (1925). She is said not to have cared much for
this last, and to have regarded it, more or less, as a piece of
hack-work. Every writer who has had to do hack-work will sympathize.
But it has, in fact, a quite particular value. One may again use the
word authenticity; it exhibits, with high intelligence, the many and
various authenticities of the saints. She had-what so many religious
writers have not--a real religious impartiality, a holiness of
judgement, consistent with her own predilections but overruling
them. Her natural efficiency may have played its part in this; it
was as distasteful to her to be wrong intellectually as to be wrong
morally. Taste, by itself, will not save souls, but taste may be a
subsidiary instrument, and a taste for recognizing differences in
souls is very useful both in recording sanctity and in encouraging
sanctity. She was, in every way, revolted by jargon, and this
remains true even if occasionally she herself seems to yield to it.
She wrote (20 September, 1911) of an edition of the Lady Julian: "I
consider his idea of editing truly beastly." 'Reaction and
Nightmare' is hardly a felicitous title for her chapter about the
vision of the fiend, to my thinking! Nor is 'littleness of the
Kosmos' a likely phrase on the lips of a fourteenth-century mystic.
Nor, perhaps, on any except a Greek's or a fool's.

In this group also her journalistic work should be included; it
provided, and (if it is ever possible to collect any of it) would
continue to provide, valuable footnotes to the "translations." She
was a well-known contributor to many periodicals, and for some time
Theological Editor of the Spectator. When that paper changed hands
and she had to resign this post, she began work for Time and Tide.
Her relations with this paper were particularly delightful to her,
for she found there (as others have done) friendship and freedom;
the last thing she ever wrote was a review for it. She is reported
to have been among the better kind of reviewers--exact to space and

The other class of books, "the guide-books," are those which serve
as direct exhortations to the Way. Such are Practical Mysticism
(1915) and The Essentials of Mysticism (1920). These titles may seem
a little cheap, but the books are not so. They are, on the whole, a
psychological examination of the Way. She was always very well aware
of the psycho-physical dangers, both in herself and in others; it
was one of the reasons why she eased her students as much as she
urged them. But to know the dangers, and to remark that sometimes
they should be evaded ("Surtout, t chere Madame, evitez les
fatigues"), does not mean to renounce heroism. She records, if
without extreme enthusiasm yet with real apprehension, certain
moments in the lives of the saints most; difficult for some of her
readers to understand, but she expects her readers to understand
them. She says in the Essentials of Mysticism of Sceur Therese de
l'Enfant-Jesus: "Her superiors seem at once to have perceived in her
that peculiar quality of soul which is capable of sanctity, and
since it is the ambition of every community to produce a saint, they
addressed themselves with vigour to the stern task of educating
Therese for her destiny. . . . When her health began to fail under a
rule of life far beyond her strength, and the first signs of
tuberculosis--that scourge of the cloister--appeared in her, the
Prioress, in her ferocious zeal for souls, even refused to dispense
the ailing girl from attendance at the night-office. 'Une ame de
cette trempe,' disait-elle, 'ne doit pas etre traite comme une
enfant, les dispenses ne sont pas faites pour elle. Laissez-la. Dieu
la soutient.' This drastic training did its work."

In the same way she had noted in an essay included in The Essentials
of Mysticism, the paragraph in which Angela of Foligno has
scandalized generations:

I elected to walk on the thorny path which is the path of
tribulation. So I began to put aside the fine clothing and
adornments which I had, and the most delicate food, and also the
covering of my head. But as yet, to do all these things was hard and
shamed me, because I did not feel much love for God, and was
living with my husband. So that it was a bitter thing to me when
anything offensive was said or done to me; but I bore it as
patiently as I could. In that time, and by God's will, there died my
mother, who was a great hindrance to me in following the way of God;
my husband died likewise; and in a short time there also died all my
children. And because I had begun to follow the aforesaid way,
and had prayed God to rid me of them, I had a great consolation of
their deaths, although I also felt some grief; wherefore, because
God had shown me this grace, I imagined that my heart was in the
heart of God and His will and His heart in my heart.

She did not altogether defend it. But neither did she obscure it.
There it was, and we shall not understand the Way without
understanding that.

It is worth noting these one or two extreme examples, because of the
letters. These were written to many different correspondents, and
(carelessly read) they might leave an impression of too great ease,
of an almost over-emphasis on relaxation. Such an impression would
be unfair to Evelyn Underhill. She did not, certainly, wish to take
too great risks with her inquirers; she was, like von Hugel,
reluctant to interfere. But also she was very clear that we ought
all, and especially those upon the Way, above all upon this
particular Way, to wait upon the Lord. We ought to be quick but not
flurried. She is continually, delicately, insisting on this. "I know
you do feel tremendously stimulated all round; but remember the
'young presumptuous disciples' in the Cloud! Hot milk and a
thoroughly foolish novel are better things for you to go to bed on
just now than St. Teresa" (7 February, 1923). "It is not God but
your too eagerly enjoying psyche which keeps you awake and tears you
to bits with an over-exciting joy" (1 March, 1923). "You have been
relying too much on experience, and not enough on the facts of
faith" (24 November, 1923). "You need not have worried about
penances and mortifications need you? When the hour strikes they
are there all right; and so on with everything else, only never the
expected thing" (20 June, 1924). "Don't be in a hurry with your
convert! It is not everyone who is equal to 'giving themselves
freely' at the beginning.. . . . She will probably do best on a
sugar diet for a little while and in due course find out for herself
that it is not adequate" (31 July, 1925).

All these are from the last section of Letters, but they could be
paralleled elsewhere. She was concerned to free her friends from
that faintly deceptive psychic chat within themselves which so often
produces spiritual cant, however unintentionally. And she had
perhaps an especial grasp of the fact that a soul may so ask for a
thing that it receives, in the end, that gift and no other--and then
cannot bear it. It exclaims then, and the whole universe--
we must not say the Creator--answers only: "Vous l'avez voulu,
Georges Dandin!" Fortunate he who can see it so; blessed he who can
use it so.

Of her own temptations little can be said. The letters in which, if
at all, she exposed them do not seem now to exist. In an early MS.
book of notes she had made at the age of fifteen, is a list of "My
Faults." It runs to nineteen entries, namely: "Selfishness;
pride; conceit; disorder; moral cowardice; self-deceit; scepticism;
thoughtlessness; revengefulness; exaggeration; want of truth;
changeable; double-dealing; teasing; unkindness; disobeidience
[sic]; dishonourableness; profanity; idleness."

It is a pleasant thing-and yet not without its significance. Long
afterwards, von Hugel said that she was inclined too "vivaciously"
to attend to the state of her own soul. Her vehemence was apt to
commit the same error as another person's sloth; it confused
attention and destroyed reason. Her sins indeed in general seem to
have chiefly derived, as one would expect, from what again von Hugel
called "the vehemence and exactingness of your nature." It was she,
rather than others, who suffered from this. What better? But here
and there, for a moment, one can see it might have been otherwise.
The single final egotism--the psychic (the word is hers) awareness
of the self--was a trouble to her as to all sincere and generous
souls. It exists, of course, in all human beings; the only
difference is between those who allow it to infect, and perhaps to
corrupt, the spiritual and those who do not. This infection leads to
those sins which are exposed in the great oration on love delivered
by Virgil to Dante half-way up the purgatorial mountain. She, who
loved Dante, would have permitted the reference.

These temptations took, on the whole, two forms. There was sometimes
a moment's spiritual envy, a transient jealousy; of these once she
wrote: "Severe steps must be taken"--as, for example, when one or
more of her people suddenly veered towards another teacher. She
knew, as well as any of us, that our business is so to give that "by
taking oneself one makes the recipient independent." The phrase is
Kierkegaard's, speaking of the omnipotence of God, but all
Christians who happen to be made teachers should give in this way,
and Evelyn Underhill laboured to do so; that she had sometimes to
labour does not derogate from the result and does increase her
honour. She demanded from herself a Dantean courtesy of largesse in
all relations. She once observed of herself that she was apt to
exhibit "a condescending attitude to family claims," which was
insincere and to my own disadvantage. Her comment is an example of
her intelligence. Many might have thought such an attitude of
condescension wrong, but they might have supposed it to be only too
sincere. She knew it was not so; she was pretending even while she
soared. She was not to be easily deceived.

Yet, in another sense, the fear of deception lay close to her. She
was apt at times, though these seem to have grown fewer as the years
went on, to be attacked by a violent emotional scepticism. Her old
tendency to explain everything subjectively recurred now as a
temptation to suppose everything--objective or subjective, dogma or
experience--to be spiritual hallucination. She retained for long a
desire for spiritual certitude, and she suffered acutely from the
lack of it. The equal (or all but equal) swaying level of devotion
and scepticism which is, for some souls, as much the Way as
continuous simple faith is to others, was a distress to her. It is
doubtful if she ever easily managed to drive those two horses
together in her own life, however she was wise to instruct others.
There is nothing improper in this; it is indeed but part of that
great principle which was intentionally exhibited on, and
nintentionally defined under, the Cross of our Lord: "Others he
saved; himself he could not save." We are here talking, of course,
not only of intellectual belief and intellectual doubt, but rather
of that felt in the blood and in the soul--"utter and intimate
unbelief." She wanted to be sure. Benson had written to her long
before: "I really do not think you have enough reverence for the
stupid." She was taught, in a spiritual sense, so to reverence

Both these temptations, it may well be thought, are only indications
of her conflict with the final psychic egotism; say, that this
itself was perhaps something more, some conjoining of sacrifice with
sacrifice. She wrote (in 1932): "The number of hours I've spent
apparently in prayer but really raging in hell these last 18 months
don't bear thinking of. Hard continuous work or people one has to
talk to, are the only things that keep it off; and here, I'm a great
deal alone and entirely at the mercy of furious and miserable
thoughts, a large part of which I know are imaginary but for all
that can't escape from. ... I simply dare not let my mind be
passive. What I mind most is that it makes one feel absolutely
wicked and vile, and I don't want to be wicked. ''And all the
books, and everything else one has always loved, are implicated, and
merely make one feel sick, and so everything is spoiled and there is
absolutely nothing left." Whether, before she died, she was freed
"by high permission of all-ruling heaven" from such suffering, it is
impossible to say. It seems likely that she was, for the
preoccupation of the war brought other, and perhaps less obviously
personal, pain. But here, rather than at any other point-here in
relation to that great principle of grace by which we do not know
what we are, what we achieve, or what we appear-may be quoted what
one of her friends said of her later:

"It was in October 1937 that I met her first--invited to tea with
her in her Campden Hill Square house. She had just had one of her
bad illnesses. The door of the room into which I was shown was
directly behind the big arm-chair in which she was sitting facing a
glowing fire. As I entered she got up and turned round, looking so
fragile as though 'a puff of wind might blow her away' might be
literally true in her case, but light simply streamed from her face
illuminated with a radiant smile. . . . One could not but feel
consciously there and then (not on subsequent recognition or
reflection) that one was in the presence of the extension of the
Mystery of our Lord's Transfiguration in one of the members of His
Mystical Body. I myself never saw it repeated on any later
meeting though others have probably seen the same thing at other
times. It told one not only of herself, but more of God and of the
Mystical Body than all her work put together."

Such an outpouring of light has been observed elsewhere-in certain
great men (such as, I think, Leonardo) and by lovers in lovers. It
is as if the physical flesh itself had become, or at least had
seemed to become, its unfallen self; as if that Original which was
seen in the Transfiguration chose at certain moments to exhibit
something of its glory in its created derivations. That such a
phenomenon was observed in her is credible enough; it was her
reward, and (after the proper heavenly manner) it was given to

Section 5

It is not possible, in an Introduction of this kind, to speak
properly of her friends. Yet not to allude to them at all would be
to omit something of which she was very conscious, to which she
vividly "submitted," and from which (as from her husband) she
continually, under God, "derived herself." The requests for their
prayers for this or the other effort which she sent in her letters,
the criticism of her work which (by general testimony) she invited,
show this. That great sense of exchanged derivation--that is, at
bottom, of the Communion of Saints--which is the very manner of life
of the Kingdom of Heaven, was always present to her. It is the root
of humility. The phrase "to pray for . . ." has become (except
indeed to the best practitioners) a little tainted by our spiritual
poverty; it is not verbal but vital; it is our mode of being, or
perhaps it would be better to say it is the carrying of our natural
mode of being on into the arch-natural. She gave and took in
marriage and all its high exchange of dependency; thus, except for
her public duties, she kept her evenings for her husband when he
returned from his legal work, and so also, in proper degrees, she
gave and took in friendship; and carried those friendships very far.
They were to her part of the apprehension of the Union, and her
concern for the Union lived in them, though of course not solely.
They were in Cathollicity, but also Catholicity showed in them.

Two relationships may be mentioned as examples--one Italian, one
English. The Italian was her intimacy with Maria, the Sorella minora
(or Sister Superior) of a community of followers of St. Francis. She
first heard of them through other friends and presently herself
visited them. (She afterwards wrote of them in the Spectator in
February, 1928): "The head of the household and foundress, who is
known as the Least Sister, came down the lane to welcome me. . . .
Those who recognize her type will discover without surprise that her
delicate courtesy, her serene and wide-spreading love conceal a
Teresian inflexibility of purpose: a profound sense of the pain and
need of the world, and a passionate desire to help it. As we sat in
the woods, I asked her to tell me something of her conception of the
spiritual life. She replied, in words startlingly at variance with
her peaceful surroundings, 'In tormento e travaglia servire i

Such a phrase struck to Evelyn Underhill's heart. She quoted, in the
same article, another which must have been almost as precious to
her: "We receive good," Maria had written, "from the experience
which each soul brings to us; from an example, from a fraternal
warning, from that gaze with which we follow every creature in
reverence of heart, learning to love, venerate, help, and pray."

There grew up between the two women-and lasted for a good while-an
exchange of this duty and desire, and therefore of power. They were
both "members" (to use a too defining word) of an unorganized
Confraternity which "worked in the hiddenness," and had "no
propaganda, no public reunions, no rule but that of a common loyalty
and intention and a mutual reverence and love." That intention was
the achievement of the Union, in all proper degrees, after all
proper methods, but especially on earth as it-now and already-is in
heaven; that is, by the Union on earth, as much as may be, of the
Church with her Lord; that is, by the Church visibly at unity with
herself; that is, as a means, by the drawing of all professing
Christians into concord and peace. Such Confraternities, from time
to time, exist--so unorganized, so hidden; they may not last; they
spring and cease; but invisibly one succeeds to another; they are
gates in the heart for the elect, who indeed become elect partly by
their own election of such opportunities. The prayer of this company
was that of St. Catherine of Siena: "Come, Holy Spirit, into my
heart; draw it to Thee by Thine ineffable love, and bestow on me
charity with fear. Keep me, O Christ, from every evil thought. Warm
me and illuminate me by Thy most sweet love, that every pain may
seem light to me. My Holy Father, my sweet Lord, I pray Thee help me
in my every service."

The other friendship which may be mentioned, only as an example, was
English. On one of her afternoons of visiting in the slums and
all-but-slums of North Kensington, Evelyn Underhill was directed to
the home of an invalid, a certain Laura Rose. In the course of their
first conversation, she asked what books Mrs. Rose liked best, and
was answered: "St. John of the Cross." This immediately set up a
knowledgeable kinship between the two women. Evelyn carried books to
the invalid, and derived instruction from her; when she had to
return to London from the country (she preferred the country to
London--but even the great have their weaknesses!) she sometimes
said: "London has one advantage; it holds Laura Rose." Mrs. Rose
was a contemplative by nature; she had small education, in the
ordinary sense, but she knew her leaders. Evelyn Underhill
recognized the power. In 1936, after long ill-health, Laura died.
She is here recollected, not only for herself, but because her first
answer is typical, as it were, of so many of Evelyn's friendships:
"What do you like to read?" "St. John of the Cross."

Section 6

The last period of her life was marked by two withdrawals. The first
was physical and involuntary; the second, spiritual and voluntary.
She suffered very much from ill-health, especially from asthma; and
she was gradually compelled to give up all her public speaking and
taking retreats. She was peculiarly anxious not to be too tender to
herself; in spite of all her good advice to others, she was herself
liable to err by doing too much rather than by doing too little. Yet
she thought it an error, and desired not to err. She wished to be
wholly at the disposal of the Lord who determined proportion as well
as direction, and she had generally, so devoted, a very clear
spiritual judgement on what she could and could not do.

Her other withdrawal was of a more limited kind. Evelyn Underhill
was never anything of an eccentric; she had in her a metropolitan
spirit of the City. It will be remembered that, in 1914-18, she had
taken as active a part in the war effort as was possible to her; she
had spoken at meetings and worked in the Admiralty. By 1939 her
views had changed; it would perhaps be more accurate to say that her
power had changed. It is impossible now to contemplate the steady
movement of her spirit along its clarifying purpose towards its end
and not to see this as a part of that same movement. To say she had
become a pacifist is a crude way of putting it, though, of course,
correct. It would be truer to say that that grace which had disposed
itself within her prevented her from being anything else. It does
not, of course, follow that this is everybody's Way or everybody's
vocation. But it is at least quite likely that it might, at any
moment, be anybody's or at least any Christian's. The practical
question which always has to be solved is which of the claims to
such a vocation are genuine (not attributing any guiltiness of
self-deception to any claimant). We do not perhaps succeed very well
with our tribunals; more care might be taken with their personnel,
and a certain number of practised confessors included, at least on
the ground of their being among the better kind of psychoanalysts.
But it is difficult to see what other course can be taken; the State
has a right to share in the final decision, as the Church has a duty
to share in the decision on any claim to the Religious Life. Evelyn
Underhill's long life of authenticity was, in her case, the best
guarantee of that authenticity. Pacifism in her was the last
development of the Way which she had followed; it was, in her and
for her, our Lord's chosen method. He who had seemed to her first,
under veils, an Impossibility, and then, in another sense, a
Possibility, now deigned, in this matter, to be something of both.
For she had no doubt about her duty and no doubt about "the
excellent absurdity" of her duty. She joined the Anglican Pacifist
Fellowship, and she wrote for it a pamphlet, The Church and War. It
is a quite uncompromising pamphlet: "On the question of war between
man and man: she [the Church] cannot compromise."

It might be held that, in uttering this judgement, Evelyn Underhill
was again allowing some licence to her earlier faint tendency to
tell the Church what it ought to believe. The Church has never been
pacifist, and it has certainly never thought it was compromising by
not being pacifist. It has steadily discriminated between love and
submission, and enjoined the one without, in all cases, recommending
the other. Such a small gibe at her would not, it may be hoped, have
wholly displeased her; she was very generous. But obviously such a
small gibe refers only to a hasty phrase or two in her writing. It
has nothing to do with her own spiritual choice.

In the same way that argument, which ever since 1907 had at times
obtruded itself, about the claims of the Church of Rome or (to put
it another way) about the Catholicity of the Church of England, had
faded. It seems likely that, under the influence of von Hugel, she
had understood better than before the nature of the choice which
might have been presented to her. "You will," he had written,
"remain spiritually weak and inconsistent, if you do not, however
slowly and indirectly, resolve this bit of amiable naturalism in the
ocean of the supernatural love of, and waiting upon, God." She had
certainly assented to this. If she had understood it to be sin to
remain in the Church of England, she would (humanly speaking)
certainly have surrendered. But she not only did not so understand
it; she definitely thought it her proper place. She may sometimes
have said with a smile or a sigh the equivalent of: "They order
these things better in Rome." But her submission was to the
Catholicity of the English Church, and beyond that to the Union of
Christendom. She joined the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius,
largely owing to the interest in the Orthodox Churches and their
Liturgy which her studies for her last large book, Worship, aroused
in her. She set before the text of the book a quotation from
Elizabeth Waterhouse's Thoughts of a Tertiary: "All worship was to
him sacred, since he believed that in its most degraded forms, among
the most ignorant and foolish of worshippers, there has yet been
some true seeking after the Divine, and that between these and the
most glorious ritual or the highest philosophic certainty, there
lies so small a space that we may believe the Saints in Paradise
regard it with a smile." Her beliefs (mutatis mutandis) were
expressed perhaps still better in a phrase which she took over with
joy from her Roman Catholic Italian friend Maria: "The Venerable:
the Roman Church does but preside at the Universal Agape." It was
the Universal Agape to which and for which she gave her life.

Worship was published in 1937. It was a good book; it was a topical
book; and (universal though its subject was) it was also a highly
personal book. It was "about" that to which she had all her life
given herself, "about" adoration, and it was her own devotion and
her own experience which found such phrases as "Worship is summed up
in sacrifice"; "The devotional and liturgical path is at once
Evangelical and Eucharistic"; "This is the ordained consummation of
Christian personal worship: the mystery of creation, fulfilled in
the secret ground of every soul." There are fewer quotations from
the saints here, though there are more from the Rites, but all have
the same authenticity about them. She knew very well the point at
which, as she says, "the Rite assumes a life and authority of its
own." She had known something similar during those other years, long
ago, in Florence. The "understanding of things" which had begun in
the Florentine pictures had entered on its greatest and, in this
life, final movement. The second war opened; she was profoundly
shocked and hurt, but she was not in any sense overcome, and she
made herself a means of its crucial union with our Lord When she had
written about the Cross, she had always meant the Cross. She had so
worked that the great Ignatian phrase might have been applied to
her--"her eros was crucified." Add to that one of her own quotations
from Ruysbroeck: "I must rejoice without ceasing, though the
world shudder at my joy." The lower eros was fastened to the cross,
as far as her will could; the Divine Eros had fastened himself. She
knew something of that cross on which (could it be said with
belief!) they interchanged felicities. The shudder at that joy
terrifies the world, but then the world has only one choice-between
terror at that and terror at itself. Evelyn Underhill had all her
life been aware of that necessary and supernatural terror; all her
war against psychic deceptions, in herself and in others, was meant
to purify all towards the terror and the joy. It is credible that
she knew at least the momentary presence of the joy. If the present
writer has seemed, here and there, to say a little less than he
might about her writing, it is because that, on the whole, was the
least (though no doubt a valuable) part of her intense vocation. Her
vocation was rather to be--a guide? no; say rather, in the end, a
light. The light might, and certainly did, illuminate and guide, but
first it merely shone. This light she was; this (she so being)
communicated to her, through her obedience, her vehemence, her
faith, something of the secrets of its own clarity.

The war had begun. But Evelyn Underhill's own secret wars were, it
seems, ended. She might suffer, but now it was not from her own
conflicts. She continued, as far as she could, to assist and
instruct. A group of young women who wished to read theology had
come together in London in 1939; she had been of use to them, and
when on the outbreak of the war they were scattered she continued to
write to them all a quarterly letter. These letters were afterwards
collected in The Fruits of the Spirit (1942). In the autumn of 1939
she gave instructions on prayer to the children of the village of
Washington, on the Sussex Downs, where she was then living, and
conducted meetings for prayer in the church. In 1940 and during at
least a part of the great air attacks at the end of that year, she
was in London again. But apart from these merely outward movements,
she grows secret. It would be useless and indecent here to multiply
words. She continued to write a little; she continued, in her last
and best activity, to pray and adore. She ingeminated "Love!" On
Sunday, 15 June, 1941, she died; she is buried in the churchyard of
St. John's Parish Church, Hampstead. The present writer, as it
happened, was at her beloved Pleshey when the news of her death
came to it. There is erected to her, in the church there, under the
bell which rings always threefold in adoration of the Blessed and
Glorious Trinity, a memorial plaque. She had' begun by a passion for
abstraction and pattern; she had learned to know the Incarnation, to
adore in the Eucharist, to reverence the stupid, to love every
creature. But the lettering on the plaque does not chiefly
commemorate that. As if returning, by divine permission, all her
gathered knowledge and growing illumination to that profound belief
on which she had first set her heart, filling the diagram with
richness, and exhibiting sweetness in the Strong, it takes all back
into the Alone. But the Alone Itself is full of otherness. The
lettering recognizes not only Its uncreated alienness from us but
also our created likeness to It, when it says, quoting that lofty
genius, John Donne, who smiled and moaned and was at peace to no
other end: "Blessed be God that He is God, only and divinely like


Many of Evelyn Underhill's letters are not now available. The whole
correspondence between her and von Hugel is missing, and indeed most
other correspondence between 1912 and 1924. This is particularly
unfortunate because the most critical period of her own development
is thus left without record.

The following selection has been made from letters very kindly put
at my disposal by Mr. Stuart Moore and by her friends and
correspondents. I am under a serious obligation to all, and
especially to those who have eased the task of selection. I may be
permitted here to name Mr. Stuart Moore himself, Miss Lucy Menzies
(the Literary Executor), Miss Clara Smith, and Mrs. R. V. Vernon. It
is much to be hoped that I have not disappointed them in fulfilling
the task.

The Letters have in general been arranged chronologically, one set
alone excepted. The various series are distinguished by different
sets of letters, in some cases (but not in all) the initials of the
recipient. The last section consists of a selection from a
particular correspondence made by the Bishop of St. Andrews. The
Bishop was of the opinion that this group of letters should stand by
itself, and indeed it is clearly desirable that in a book of this
kind there should be one example of Evelyn Underhill's continuous
work. My responsibility here is therefore limited to a necessary
abridgement of the Bishop's choice.

Part One


O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord; praise Him and
magnify Him for ever.--Song of the Three Children.

Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways; and how small a whisper
do we hear of Him.-Job.

Hotels Schweizerhof and Luzernerhof, Lucerne.
 March 28th [1899].

 I got your letter this morning; dearest I do hope you are not very
lonely and are going to have a nice happy healthy time. Oh, do be
careful of yourself. We have just heard of Mr. Pyke's death, and it
has made me so nervous. I'm quite sure the bar is getting to be a
very dangerous profession. It seems awful the way quite youngish
people die off. Do do, my sweetest boy, have all the fresh air and
exercise you can, and avoid chills and being run down. I suppose Mr.
Pyke's death is good for you in a way but how awful for his poor
wife. I'm sure that nasty Admiralty Court isn't healthy, I'm
thankful to think you won't sit in it all day now. Do have some nice
walks in your holidays, and after you get home, go for some long
bicycle rides. Please do.

I only wish you were here, I wish it all the day long. To-day has
been exquisite. Very hot, sunshine like you never see in England,
and yet brisk and refreshing. We have been nearly all day on the
lake, going to Brunnen and back. It was so bright and clear we could
see right across to the Bernese Oberland, even the Jungfrau which I
had never seen before. The snow mountains and bright green lake and
the quaint little square-sailed boats looked heavenly. I wanted
you so much. You would just have enjoyed it. After tea we went up to
the Glacier garden, where a real glacier once was, and you can see
the deep holes in the rock and the boulders that fitted in and
ground them out.

There is also a real Alpine Club hut, like you sleep in when you are
climbing a mountain, from which it appears that mountaineering is a
bit too uncomfortable for my taste, only a little hay to sleep on,
and no head room worth mentioning.

I'm so anxious to get to Lugano and get my darling's next letter. I
wonder if you got my photograph before you went away. If so, tell me
exactly what they are like, and if they are better than the proofs.
I am sure those proofs were printed on Matt P O P so you could tone
and fix them if you wished. Our talk last Saturday has made me feel
intensely that nothing matters very much to us except each other. It
seems as if our two lives had rushed together and fused into one,
and overshadow everything else. I feel as if all I say and do here
was only a pleasant dream, and my real life was left behind in
England for the boy to take care of till I come home to it and him.
Do you understand? And do you ever feel like that about your girl?
Tell me.

 Tuesday night. [April 17, 1901.]

 This is an absolutely heavenly place, far exceeding my
expectations, and we have dropped into such a comfy old-fashioned
inn with a sweet old landlady in a bag cap. Only fault, they
overfeed us horribly.

The town is full of old houses with high gables and carved fronts,
there are lots of quaint corners but no smells, and it is
delightfully clean and airy. The day has been sun and shower with a
high wind-something like my temper is occasionally. The Cathedral is
a dream of beauty with nine magnificent doorways set in deep porches
and crammed with sculpture. Nearly all the stained glass was put in
before 1300. Nothing one can see in England can give you an idea of
it. It is more like translucent enamel set with diamonds than
anything else I can think of. I wish you were here, and I think you
would like it, though the place swarms with priests who would set
your Protestant teeth on edge.

Lengua da Ca, Alassio.
 Saturday, March 26th [1904].

 I meant to answer your letter this morning but it was such a lovely
day that immediately after breakfast we went off for an expedition
into the hills; first drove to the first village above here through
the olive woods; then climbed up through delicious little waggly
stony streets, so narrow that when we met a donkey with panniers it
had to lean up against the wall to let us pass; then up through more
olive woods and out on to the healthy part of the hills: then we
popped through a narrow little gap in the cliffs, and came out
suddenly on the north face of the hills, and were looking right
across an immense valley, all blue and purple with little white
towns, to the Maritime Alps which stretched right along east and
west as far as you could see, and were simply shining with freshly
fallen snow. Yesterday was very cold here with rain, so it must have
been snow on the mountains. We devoted the wettest part of the day
to bookbinding and in the afternoon went to two tea parties. Tea
parties simply swarm in Alassio and our average has been two a day
since I came out.

The people are intensely funny and a rather smart lady who told me
that it was "the continental Cranford" about summed the whole thing
up. There's a funny little artist who talks a lot about the
"reverent imitation of nature" but hasn't quite managed it yet, and
a parson who said the other day that "even some of the most
distinguished Early Christians did at times fall into sin," a remark
which I am cherishing very fondly for future use.

Yacht Wulfruna, Helford, St. Martin.
 23 September [1904].

 Thank you so much for your kind letter. I am very glad indeed that
you like the book.* I am sorry the phrase "Imaginative Life" seems
wrong. It was used in rather a technical sense by Willie, the same
sense in fact, as that intended by Blake in the quotation I have
prefixed to the book, which is supposed to give the key note of such
philosophy as it possesses. I can't think at the moment of any
locution which says just the same thing; and this one seemed to have
the advantage of a respectable ancestry.

* The Grey World. The quotation is the famous paragraph on
"Imagination, the real and eternal world, of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow" from Jerusalem.


 Most worthy pard, my jaded wits refuse
 To reach the heights of your triumphant Muse.
 I merely send these little rhymes to say
 I'm glad we've got the plate of Sainte Abbaye.
 (And, by the way, I rather wonder when
 Our Magnum Opus goes to Methuen?)
 As to Abenteuer Gesammt-well!
 Why can't the wretch in French his legends tell,
 Or decent Latin? I don't like to worry you
 To translate this. So many works to flurry you
 There are, with Titus Vesp. and all the rest.
 Perhaps to wait a while would be the best.
Thanks many for the loan of Odo's tale.
 I hope my understanding will not fail
 To grasp the crabbed tongue in which it's writ
 And make it for the British Public fit.
 I also want to find a redaction
 Of Virgin's Hand on lock, with detailed action.
 (See Ward) a pretty tale, but rather terse:
 A virtue that does not infect my verse.
 Farewell! I'll write again to mention when
 I come to the Museum at stroke of ten.
 Meanwhile, good wishes to you all I send,
 And am your feeble and exhausted friend.
Ora pro me.

3 Campden Hill Place, W.
 Nov. 29, 1904.

To M.R.
 I must thank you very much for writing to me as kindly as you have
done. I think it is so good of those who have read, and have cared
for what they have read, to write and tell the author, who knows
little of what her work is doing, once it has gone out into the
world. As you say, the finding of reality is the one thing that
matters, and that always mattered, though it has been called by many
different names.

Of course, on this side the veil, the perfect accomplishment of the
quest is impossible; we can only come to the edge of the sea that
separates us from the City of Sarras. Few get so far: but for those
who do, it seems that diere is a certain hope. It is of course quite
difficult for me, from one letter, to judge of your position; so I
hope you will forgive me if I say anything you do not like.

But you say in one place, that the more urgent the want of reality
grows, the less you see how to effect it. Now, this state of
"spiritual unrest" can never bring you to a state of vision, of
which the essential is peace. And struggling to see does not help
one to see. The light comes, when it does come, rather suddenly and
strangely I think. It is just like falling in love; a thing that
never happens to those who are always trying to do it.

You say also, as regards beauty, that you find its sensuous side
dangerous and distracting. This is true at first: but when once it
has happened to you to perceive that beauty is the "outward and
visible sign" of the greatest of sacraments, I don't think you can
ever again get hopelessly entangled by its merely visible side. The
real difficulty seems to me to come from the squalor and ugliness
with which man tries to overlay the world in which he lives.

I have been so much interested by your letter and hope you will
forgive this imperfect reply.

Perhaps you will write to me again when you are in the mood. Those
who are on the same road can sometimes help one another.

Grand Hotel, Venice.
 April 20th [1905].

 We arrived last night all right though rather late. It was funny to
see all the stations full of soldiers and guards along the line, but
otherwise I don't think one could have told that anything was wrong.
The arrival here is perfectly beautiful. About' ten miles away, the
land begins to break up into marshy patches, tussocks of grass and
pools of water; then more water and fewer patches of land, and then
suddenly the last bit of land is all gone and the train runs over a
great smooth grey sea, for 3 miles, on a bridge just raised above
the surface of the water. For a bit you are "out of sight of land"
and then at last you see the towers of the city ahead of you. It's
just perfect arriving in the evening like that with everything very
grey and dim. I did wish you were here. And then it was so exciting
to step out of the station pop on to the canal and see all the usual
station bustle being done by swarms of gondolas, all black and
fringed, such long thin graceful creatures all shooting and twisting
about. And there was a full moon and after dinner we went out on the
Grand Canal, and saw Venice by moonlight. We have to-day secured our
own gondola; such a nice man, named Vittorio, with whom I have to
hold long conversations for the Commodore.* We spent the morning in
the gondola, going in and out among the canals, seeing the palaces
etc. . . . There are a lot of English yachts here, and also heaps of
lovely sort of Istrian boats rather like Dutch schools but painted
the most splendid colours which come with cargoes of firewood. And
people go off to them in gondolas and buy a bit when they want it.
It's so nice everything being done by boat, and stepping out of the
front door bang into the water. I spent the afternoon in St. Marco,
and managed to get a slight first idea of it. But you can't describe

* Her father.

It's like nothing you ever saw; but when the Westminster Cathedral
is done, that will be a sort of parody of the interior. It is all
mosaics with gold backgrounds. Five domes, with wonderful
processions of figures circling round them: and all the arches,
spandrils and lunettes mosaic-ed too, and the lower walls marbled.
And all the detail is so marvellous. Every minute you come on
pierced marble screens, and lovely bas-relief panels set here and
there in the walls, both inside and out, to vary the marble
panelling: and all sorts of strange green and rose and purple
marbles that one never sees anywhere else. The pavement is made with
them too, and with jade and lapis, all in Byzantine patterns. But it
isn't a bit garish think, just a masterpiece of colouring. The
Commodore however thought it horrid, and fled to the shops, where he
bought paper knives made to imitate the prow of a gondola.

There's one lovely mosaic of the body of St. Mark being brought by
ship to  Venice. The ship is all aback, the sailors are asleep, and
St. Mark appears and  wakes them up, very anxious, and evidently
saying "Do, do take more care of my  body."

Grand Hotel, Venice.
 Saturday night [April, 1905].

 I do hope the cold weather has gone in England and you are having a
nice sunny  healthy holiday. It isn't very hot here, a fresh sea
breeze all the time but it has been nice and sunny to-day. At twelve
o'clock the Easter feast began, and  all the flags were hoisted on
the flag staffs in front of St. Mark's. Huge great banners about 50
feet I should think: three Italian ensigns, and two crimson and
gold flags with the Lion of St. Mark. It makes the piazza look
simply gorgeous, with these great things floating out, and all the
mosaics and white domes of the cathedral behind, and the crowds of
pigeons wheeling about, as thick almost as our birds at the Helford,
only rather a different colour. Inside St. Mark's, the gold altar
front is unveiled for Easter: 11th century Greek work all set with
jewels. I'm going to try and get a seat in the choir for High Mass
to-morrow so as to gaze on it undisturbed.

We spent the morning at the picture gallery. A tremendous lot of big
rambling Veronese and Tintoretto things to wade through, but also,
to console one, a lot of lovely Cima and Bellini and Carpaccio:
things rather in the style of our pet St. Jerome in his study at the
National Gallery. There is the whole set of the story of St. Ursula
by Carpaccio done to decorate the guild-room of the St. Ursula
guild. The first one, where she is in bed asleep and the angel comes
and warns her of what she is to do, is too sweet. Such a neat room,
with her clothes neatly folded at the foot of the bed and her crown
(she was a Princess) laid on the top! The Commodore liked Titian's
big fluffy Assumption (I'm sure he secretly agreed with the
celebrated American who said she was "a remarkably fine young
woman") but he got a bit restless over the other things--kept asking
patiently "Is this by a celebrated artist?"

In the afternoon we went a long gondola ride to a church on the far
edge of the city looking out to the lagoon where we found several
lovely pictures and a perfectly darling old sacristan who used to go
about with Ruskin when he was here writing The Stones of Venice "two
hours every morning, signora, for years and years and years." He
knew all about the pictures, knew Berensen, but said "he had always
his own idea about who painted the pictures, that Signor Berensen:
nevertheless, he loves art." He had been attached to that church for
50 years: such a sweet old thing.

Grand Hotel, Venice.
 May 1st [1905].

 We've been pottering about seeing our pet things a seconl time, and
digging out a few isolated pictures in different churches as
to-morrow will be our last day in Venice. This afternoon roastingly
hot so we took a steamer to the Lido and lay out on the sands
looking at the Adriatic--so blue, just the colour turquoise: but it
seemed very shadeless and dusty there after Venice, which has no
dust, and heaps of shade in the narrow alleys and canals. We walked
along to St. Niccolo di Lido, where my patron saint, St. Nicholas,
is buried, quite forgotten now, poor dear, though he did such lots
of nice miracles in the Middle Ages! His Church was locked so I
couldn't go and pay my respects to his tomb.

By way of a complete change from Tintoretto and St. Marco, last
night a very smart professional palmist arrived here and proceeded
to give a most absurd lecture with limelight illustrations of
characteristic paws, in the hotel drawing-room. I learnt from it
several curious things, chiefly that my affections are more sensual
than platonic, that I have no self-confidence, am inconstant, but
literary, and that people who sleep with their thumbs tucked
inside their clenched hands are by nature maniacs. I hope you don't
do that. The lecturer pleasantly added, "All young infants clasp
their thumbs in this manner." So nice for fond mothers.

Grand Hotel de la Poste, Albi.
 Tuesday night [24 April, 1906].

 We only stopped one night in Toulouse, as it was such a big dull
noisy town and we didn't like it a bit. There were two interesting
churches but nought else. One was a splendid huge Romanesque church,
St. Sernin, with a most lovely Gothic crypt full of the most
extraordinary collection of relics I ever saw--supposed to be the
best there is. They are all in splendid silver gilt and jewelled
reliquaries, some like Gothic shrines and some life-sized heads and
some ark-shaped coffers with carrying poles. There were bits of 6
Apostles, the True Cross, the Crown of Thorns, most of the saints
one has heard of and many one hasn't. A perfectly darling old priest
exhibited them to us, and also St.  Dominic's chasuble and a lovely
bit of Xth century Byzantine brocade in which St. Louis wrapped up
the Crown of Thorns when he brought it from Constantinople to
France. But it was rather a grisly show. "Here, Madame, we have
almost half of the body of St. Barnabas. His head is unfortunately
at Rome and his left arm at Montpellier." "Here you see the head of
St. Thomas Aquinas. No, Madame, he is not buried in Toulouse. He is
buried in Italy: but a pious Dominican cut off his head and brought
it here," etc., etc. The collection includes a Bit of Susannah (of
the Apocrypha) and most of the body of St. George (whose actual
existence is very doubtful) and a bit of the wedding veil of the
Blessed Virgin. But it's a very marvellous show and most of the
mediaeval relics are no doubt genuine. They also have an immense
Byzantine crucifix with the figure carved in wood and covered with
thin sheets of gilded copper, which was brought to Toulouse in the

 April 16, '07.

 Of course I don't want you to copy out Father Benson's letter for
me. I shall be interested to read it all the same when I get back. I
hope he has really answered your questions and not just vapoured:
but it's awfully good of him I think to take so much trouble about
us. What he really means--I think--about conscience and judgement
is, that the spiritual instinct one has must never be surrendered or
tampered with because one's intellectual judgement or reason does
not seem to justify it. Of course I know you are not "keeping
anything back"--any more than I am myself.

I'm glad there is such a nice lot of dinner and tea things--but, did
you find any little dishes for entrees, etc. I s'pose we shall still
want an every-day dinner set shan't we? I think it's a splendid idea
to put those cupboards in the front room. Don't go and destroy
family papers that may be of interest: surely it's a pity: they
don't take up such a fearful lot of room, you know. I don't mean to
"start" naked like that--I shouldn't like it. But of course I agree
with getting rid of real rubbish: I must start on mine when I get
back. Will it be a very tight pack to fit in, do you think? We must
leave room for Jacob, you know. I am very well and happy and do hope
you are too. Goodnight dearest. All my love.

 April 22, 1907.

To M.R.
 I was so very glad to hear from you again: I remember your letter
well, and have thought of you more than once, and wondered how you
"got on." At the same time, I do feel a horrible sense of
responsibility in answering your letter. You see (most naturally
since we do not know one another) you have written with considerable
reserve: therefore I don't feel a bit sure that what I shall say
will be the right thing for you. So, if my remarks seem to you to go
against your own intuidons (and these are the only valid
finger-posts in the last resort) I do beg of you to trust your own
judgement, take no notice of what I have said, and above all do not
try to twist yourself to accept my statements, if they are true, you
will come round to them at the right time.

The first point is-: you say "Now I ask myself, shall I remain
awake," etc. It is absolute waste of time to ask oneself such
questions as this. You are awake: it is your job to remain so. Do
not ask yourself, or worry yourself, or doubt. If you choose to
exert your will, you can hold on to your vision--it rests with
you to do this. I allow it is hard work--particularly, perhaps,
modern conditions. But surely it is possible to you to be alone,
quiet for a little time each day? Then you can shut out all the
trivialities of existence and "reset your compass." Further, this
terror of losing the Light and getting entangled in the material
world is a sign, less of insight, than of "spiritual adolescence."
It is horrid whilst it lasts, but one tends, I think, to outgrow
it. When you are really sure that every bush is "aflame with God"
you ill no longer feel contempt for the triviality of the bush. You
will see that the material world, although of course an illusion in
the form in which it appears to us, is an illusion which has strict
relations with reality. It is the dim shadow of the thought of God.
Under these conditions it falls into its right place in the scheme
of things. This aspect of the material universe, as the veil
through which, under the present dispensation, we must see the
Divine, received its final sanction in the Incarnation of Christ.

I do not know of course how far the dogmatic side of Christianity
appeals to you. I do think that if you study it, you will find there
the solution of many problems and doubts. This statement does not of
course apply to much "popular religion": I make it more in reference
to mystical Catholicism. I do believe as you say, that one may call
one's Supreme Reality by many names: but the old names have a way of
proving themselves the best in the long run, and the old-fashioned
recipes of prayer and meditation still remain, under various
disguises, the "only way." Sooner or later you will "see," if only
for a minute: but no one can anticipate that moment, it comes when
one least expects it. It does not last, but the certainty which it
conveys does last. All you can do, really, is to have faith and go
on quietly without worrying. "Live the life, and so shalt thou learn
the doctrine."

I think I must say this to you--avoid like poison the modern creeds
and sects, mostly of American manufacture, which serve up a sort of
travesty of Christianity, and distort the words of Christ to the
purposes of their own philosophies. I mean the "New Thought" "Higher
Thought" and so forth. These lead nowhere. Follow where you feel
that you are being led, wherever that may be: but do not have fears
about losing what you have found, that only puts you back. "In
that thou dost seek Me, thou hast already found Me."

If you think it worth while to answer this letter, please don't
hesitate to do so. Probably I have not told you anything that is of
the slightest use; but if you will say where I am wrong, or a little
more definitely what your own position is, perhaps I could be more
help. Anyhow I could tell you the names of books that have helped me
in the past, if you would like that: some of them might be of use to
you--but one never knows.

Grand Hotel la Vittona, Bibbiena.
 Friday [1907].

 My own darling boy, I was so glad to get your letter at Arezzo this
morning: I only hope you are telling me the truth and are really
feeling puny and closer to one another in spite of the "depression."
After all, as I have thought as I now think for many months, if it
was to separate us you ought to have felt it coming on long ago and
as the chief result has been to force us to talk openly to each
other about all the real things which we sedulously kept from each
other before, the final effect in spite of difference of opinion
ought to be to make us much more real companions than in the past,
when we each had a watertight bulk-head carefully fixed to prevent
undue explorations. Also I do think it must be a great gain to you,
all round, if I can make you see the real beauties of Catholicism,
as well as the merely superficial corruptions on which you had been
led to concentrate yourself. It is better, after all, to walk along
a rather muddy path to Heavenly Syon, than not to get there at all!

 Wednesday evening [25 April, 1907].

 Yesterday afternoon we had a beautiful drive to some Etruscan tombs
outside the city. The drive was much nicer than the tombs I thought
(this letter will be very disconnected as I am surrounded by 5
chattering Americans comparing coloured post cards. One has just
observed, "My! ain't this general resurrection with the skeletons
popping out of their graves just sweet!"). The tombs are like caves
in the side of a hill. The path down to them amongst the flowers was
beautiful, there were things like blue marigolds and also some
lovely shaded violets which I have never seen before. Inside the
tombs there were fragments of frescoes rather like the things on
Greek vases but very decayed and hard to make out by candle light.
Also there were huge spiders and oh! my darling boy, centipedes
nearly 5 inches long! They ran up the walls and then fell down with
a most horrid flop close by you. Also drips fell from the roof and
you were not sure whether they were water or insects. Altogether my
mind was much too distracted to pay proper attention to the remains
of prehistoric art. But the drive back winding down the hill and
getting views all the time of Orvieto standing right up on its rock
against the sky was simply enchanting. We've spent lots of time in
the Cathedral. There are some gorgeous frescoes by Signorelli and
Fra Angelico, and some faint delicate lovely 14th century ones in
the choir. The Signorellis are all about the last judgement, and all
the souls--saved or damned or "undecided"--are naked--marvellous
studies of the nude, but somehow a nude heaven seems as unspiritual
as Carlyle's naked House of Lords seems unpolitical. They are
extraordinarily interesting and original though--the intense
surprise and half awakened state of the newly risen, and the
bewildered inability to enjoy themselves of those who find
themselves in Paradise.

Goodnight. The chatter is so colossal I cannot write. All my love,

 Sunday night. [1 May, 1907].

 We've not done much to-day owing to the weather: first Mass at the
Cathedral, and then went into the Cathedral-Museum till lunch time.
There I had rather a find. I think I told you about the choir stalls
illustrating the Nicene Creed which I have been studying here and
which no one has described so far. I've taken elaborate notes of
them and intend to write an article on them. To-day in the Museum I
found 9 small Creed pictures, the remains of a set from the
Cathedral sacristy, which show interesting differences from the
inlaid ones, which are much more curious. These are the only two
sets of Creed pictures I've ever seen, and will be most useful to
compare with each other. I think the pictures are a bit the older:
they look like late 14th century, but are supposed to be by a man
who died in 1422. The big Duccio Madonna looks lovelier than ever. I
could sit with her all day! She was rather discounted this morning
by a terrible parson with his rabbity daughters who arrived and
began to read aloud, in a sort of preaching voice, "This celebrated
picture, one of the finest works of the Sienese school," etc. I
don't know how the pictures bear it: I'm always expecting them to
come out of their frames and kick.

I have written to Charlotte and told her that we should probably
want a pair of purple curtains for the dining-room. Purple is such a
dreadful colour for fading that I'm sure it won't be worth while to
have anything but her fast dyed pure stuff. Materials fade most
horribly, and last time I was at Alice's I noticed the things she
bought when she moved into that house, and they have already gone
quite faint and dingy. I think very few draperies but very good ones
is the right line to go on, don't you? And first class linen in
preference to cheap silk. I wondered whether you would see about
having the mattresses re-made by Shoolbred's whilst the furniture
was away, or whether it would be better to wait till we had bought
the single beds for front room? How are you going to do the
different things you meant to do yourself to furniture, and the
circlets for the wedding, with the house in an uproar?

A lady in Liverpool, who wrote to me three years ago, after reading
Grey World, to say I had "made her see what Reality really is" (!)
has just written me another, rather pathetic, letter, asking me to
help her out of her spiritual tangles. I think this sort of thing is
a most horrible responsibility, and rather ridiculous when the
person applied to is still in just as much of a tangle as anyone
else. A. also has been shying her "honest" but rather shallow
doubts at my head. I wish I could make them see that I am not an
authority. Suppose I tell them all wrong, how awful to feel
afterwards that they were trusted to you and you didn't do as well
for them as you might have done. Don't you ever go and "rely" on
what I say, will you? I mean in that particular connection, of
course. Good-night, darling.

Tuesday morning--between Siena and Pisa.
 [3 May, 1907].

 I'm very sorry to leave my darling Siena: in spite of the pouring
rain on Sunday, she has been very seductive this year. Yesterday we
practically gave up the whole day to St. Catherine! First we went
down to her house which on this day of the year is completely thrown
open to the public, all the little chapels and oratories into which
the rooms have been turned, trimmed up, and with candles burning.
Swarms of people going from room to room and venerating the relics,
which were all exposed. Everyone in the highest spirits. A very nice
little priest blessed my medals before her crucifix. Then we went up
to St. Domenico for High Mass, then I rushed off to the Hospital
where there are some subterranean chapels in her honour, and the
tiny little cell where she used to go and rest when she was nursing
the sick. This also is only open this one day. The little cell was
full of flowers, laid on the recess in which she used to sleep, and
they give you some to take away with you. Half the boys and youths
of Siena were in the various shrines, in their confraternity
dresses, tremendously content and happy, fussing about and giving
away blessed bread, etc., etc. In the afternoon (or at least from
5:30 to 8!) was the big function at St. Domenico. Every imaginable
candle in the church was lit--the shrine itself just a blaze of
lights, it really looked lovely. They had vespers and a rather
terrible sermon, during which everyone kept passing through the
chapel in which St. Catherine's head was exposed. Thanks to J.W.,
who has really been very attentive, we went into the sacristy, and
to the back of the shrine, where you can climb up and actually stand
and look into the reliquary. We also saw St. Catherine's altar-stone
and a lot of other "special" relics. Then, just as it was getting
dusk, the procession--two pages in mediaeval dress, with the banners
of St. Catherine's own ward (the Goose) and St. Domenico's ward (the
Dragon), then the confraternities, carrying a huge silver bust of
the saint, and a bishop and various priests in magnificent copes,
and all the little girls who had made their first communions that
morning, dressed like small brides and carrying immense candles, and
then everyone else who could get hold of a lighted candle following
on behind. It went three times round the church, everyone singing
the local Italian hymn of St. Catherine, which is as "catching" as a
music hall ditty! There must have been well over a thousand people
in the church. After that, the Te Deum and Benediction--and then we
went home, very late, to dinner.

I had rather a find in the afternoon. We plunged into an old
curiosity shop near the Cathedral, and found it was of the rabbit
warren nature--innumerable dirty little rooms leading out of each
other. One was full of old books, largely sermons, law books, etc.,
but I found amongst them a very agreeable 410 in old vellum--the
Italian edition of the Flos Sanctorum, 1690, with lots of woodcut
vignettes and in a very good state. I looked longingly at it, but
was sure it would be too dear: asked the old man how much it was. He
said, "This is a very old book, with many pictures, it is worth
much." I remained silent. He said, "By good fortune I got it for 2%
francs." I said, "What do you want for it then?" He said, "As I got
it for that, you may have it for three francs!" It's rather big
to get into our box, but I had to get it.

3 Campden Hill Place, W.
 May 12, 1907.

To M.R.
 I am so glad you have written to me again: I hope you will continue
the correspondence how and when you feel inclined (not at 3-year
intervals!) if it seems good to you.

I have read your last letter very carefully. You say, I am to
consider that you are an Anglican. But--there are Anglicans and
Anglicans! The question, for instance, whether you really believe in
the Sacraments, as actual vehicles of Spirit and not merely
beautiful and helpful ideas, is a vital one. The keys of the
Catholic position (and Anglicanism is of course a slightly diluted
Catholicism) are,

A.   The Incarnation and
C.   B. A mystical continuation of the Incarnation in the Sacraments.
E.   You see, if you accept these things as realities for you, you have
at once something to "go upon." I wonder also which are the dogmas
which struck you as repellent? Many are of course most difficult on
their concrete and historical side, and some hardly affect the inner
life of most people. But a formal creed is not a faith: it is, as
the Roman Catholics rightly call it, the "symbol" of the faith.

I am afraid, if you did deliberately turn your back on the light,
you must have rather a horrid time getting back. The restlessness
and sense of being "unable to grasp" is dreadful I know: the only
comfort is, that it is better than apathy--and it is the experience
of all the mystics that the "way of purgation" has to come before
the "way of illumination." You may also take it for granted, of
course, that so long as you want the peace and illumination for your
own sake, you will not get them. Self-surrender, an entire
willingness to live in the dark, in pain, anything--this is the real
secret. I think no one really finds the Great Companion till their
love is of that kind that they long only to give and not to get.

I am sending you a short and very mixed list of books. If you care
to tell me which (if any!) you like, I could then perhaps tell you
some more--or if I can be of any other sort of use, I shall be so


The Confessions of St. Augustine.

 This is to me the most wonderful record in the world of the
awakening and return of a soul to God. I think everyone must see in
it clues to their own experience. It is like a living voice from the
4th century, telling of the same longings, the same difficulties,
the same quest.

L'Ornement des noces spirituelles de Ruysbroeck l'Admirable.
Translated by Maeterlinck. Have you read this? It is "difficult"
but most wonderful.

The Theologia Germanica.

The Revelations of Divine Love, by the Lady Julian of Norwich.

I think, of course, that the Roman Missal is, next to the New
Testament (almost the whole of which is incorporated in it), an
unmatched treasury. Have you ever read with attention the whole
Canon of the Mass?

If you can "do with" books of devotion, there is one called Ancient
Devotions for Holy communion which is free from sentiment, has many
beautiful things, and the whole Mass in English and Latin. It is
published by Kegan Paul and costs 33. 6d.


The Soul of a Christian, by F. Granger. (I strongly recommend this.)

The Soul's Orbit, by M. D. Petre.

Oil and Wine, by George Tyrrell.

Lex Credendi

A Modern Mystic's Way.

The Rod, the Root and the Flower, by Coventry

Do you know Francis Thompson's poem The Hound of Heaven? It is in a
little anthology called Lyra Sacra. I am sure you would like it and
probably also much in Coventry Patmore's Unknown Eros.

3 Campden Hill Place.
 May 15, 1907.

 I am so glad you are going to read the Missal. But do not be "put
off" if at first it strikes you as a rather commonplace liturgy and
you are left wondering what I see in it. Everything, really, is
there: but like other valuable things it has to be hunted for. As to
understanding the Mass, no reading or other intellectual process
makes one do that, I think. You see the Mass is either (a) a gross
superstition or (b) an enormous spiritual fact. Intermediate
theories, that it is a "helpful symbol," "true for those who believe
in it," etc., are not really tenable. Now it is quite easy to think
it is (a); but quite difficult of one's own accord to realize that
it is (b). This means that one's perceptions must be exalted to the
spiritual plane, if only for a moment--and such an exaltation is of
course the true object of ceremonies, liturgies and much meditation.
But don't worry and excite yourself or pull yourself up by the roots
to see how you are getting on! That way lies spiritual insomnia, the
most deadly disease in the world. Let yourself go more, and trust
more: you will get in the end what you are meant to have.

3 Campden Hill Place, W.
 Corpus Christi, May 30, 1907.

 Please don't apologize for writing ... if I can help you the least
bit, I shall be paying back some of the debt I owe those who have
helped me; it is rather a luxury to administer counsels of
perfection to others instead of to oneself!

I feel like writing you a rather bracing, disagreeable, east-windy
sort of letter. When I read yours my first impulse was to send you a
line begging you only to let yourself alone. Don't keep on pulling
yourself to pieces: and please burn that dreadful book with the list
of your past sins! If the past really oppresses you, you had far
better go to confession, and finish that chapter once and for all!
It is emphatically your business now to look forwards and not
backwards: and also to look forwards in an eager and optimistic
spirit. Any other course is mere ingratitude, you know. There is a
dispirited tone about your letter as if you were taking your own
variations of mood and inevitable failures far too seriously
--feeling your pulse too much. You say reading the Modern Mystic
"increased your responsibility more than you can bear." This also
is morbid (I am really horribly rude this evening!). Your
responsibility ends when you have made sure that you are honest in
will and intention, and are doing your best. There are no unbearable
responsibilities in this world but those of our own seeking. Once
life is realized as a succession of acts of loving service,
undertaken in a spirit of joy, all that moonshine vanishes. I nearly
quoted a text at you: but instead of that, here is a "bit" which
contains much food for profitable meditation I think. I wonder if
you know it already?

"There was a saint who said, 'I must rejoice without ceasing,
although the world shudder at my joy.' He did not think he could
save his soul without it"

People seem often to forget that Hope is a cardinal virtue necessary
to salvation like Faith and Love: an active principle which ought to
dominate life. I do think it would be so much better if you would go
on quite simply and trustfully for a bit. After all, we value far
more in our human relationships the sort of love that gives itself
joyously and eagerly without introspection than the sort which is
perpetually occupied with its own unworthiness or shortcomings. I
wonder whether you are living too lonely a life for your
temperament. You sound a little bit like it.

Of course you are quite right when you say that feeling must precede
doing: but unless it finally results in doing, it is mere emotional
satisfaction, of no value. The direction and constancy of the will
is what really matters, and intellect and feeling are only important
in so far as they contribute to that. Don't be bullied by Tyrrell:
he is often splendid, and also often quite wrong, being cursed with
a cleverness that runs away with him.

Have you read R. H. Benson's Papers of a Pariah? I'm not
"recommending" this as a "serious" work--but it is rather a pleasant
book which has several things in it which I thought extremely well
put, and I think you might like it. I wonder what you thought of the
Missal! I observe that you preserve a discreet silence on the
subject! I hope the one you got had the liturgy in Latin as well as
in English. It is untranslatable somehow. Don't you think the office
for to-day is beautiful? Have you read the Pange Lingua in the
original? I forget whether it comes at Corpus Christi or Holy
Thursday in the Missal for the laity, being sung on both days.

Yacht Wulfruna.
 Aug. 2, 1907.

 I think the central Fact of the Mass is the Presence on the Altar.
From this are deducible the other aspects of communion, sacrifice,
and adoration. To limit the meaning of the Eucharist to any one of
these things is implicitly to deny the Presence in its full
signification. One of the best introductions to the history of the
Early Liturgies is Neale's Essays in Liturgical History, if you can
get hold of it. They have it at the London Library I know. Bright's
translations of early collects are also good: and there is a
wonderful collection of scraps from all these sources in Ancient
Devotions for Holy Communion about which I think I told you. It's a
Roman book, though! Also the Mozarabic Rite has lately been edited I
think. Perhaps you would like Dr. Abbott's Silenus the Christian.
Duchesne is of course good: but more about ceremonies than
liturgies. Remind me when I go home to send you some little booklets
on the Holy Week ceremonies, which are rather interesting in a
slight way.

It is odd how quickly the Christian Liturgy arrived at its full
splendour; and how every alteration made since has resulted in
blemishes rather than improvements--unless the editor happened, as
in the case of St. Thomas Aquinas, to be both a poet and a saint.
But of course the Platonizing of Jewish conceptions which went on at
and about Alexandria during the first 4 centuries A.D. was an
intellectual process almost unparalleled in history, and the Fathers
of the Church which it produced were very superior, mentally, to
most of their sons!

I wonder if you have read any of St. Augustine's sermons as well as
the Confessions? He, of course, inspired many of the mediaeval
mystics--as for instance Julian of Norwich, one of the wisest and
most beautiful.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 Oct. 9, 1907.

 It is perfectly disgraceful of me to have left your last letter
unanswered so long. But we have only been home a fortnight, and
there has been so much to do--my house not being really in order
yet--that correspondence has been considerably neglected. ... I am
glad you were pleased with Ruysbroeck. He is one of the truly
illuminated, I think, and belongs with St. Teresa and the matchless
Lady Julian of Norwich (I forget whether you have read her: if not,
I could lend her to you if you like).

I send you with this the Holy Week pamphlets, and also a book of
scraps (all the best really) from Plotinus, the best of the
Neo-Platonists. I wonder if you know Boehme. There is an excellent
introduction to him, by Martensen--not a particularly new book. As
to St. Augustine's Sermons, the only edition I know is old (about
1840), big, and probably out of print. But you would get it surely
at a library? I wonder if you know of Dr. Williams' Library in
Gordon Square? There is no subscription; they send you two books at
a time, and their collection of theological and mystical books is
magnificent. I am sure you would find it most useful.

It seems to me from what you say in your letter, that things are
going on so well with you that it would be superfluous, not to say
highly impertinent on my part, to lecture or argue. If I am right
about the Eucharist--and I can only tell you what I see or believe I
see--you will see it too, sooner or later. The question after all,
is not what the Church of England says is there, or what any one
else says, but what is there.

There are plenty of learned persons saying all the time that what
you have already found is not there at all. But their arguments will
never be valid to you again, any more than the arguments of Anglican
divines against adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are valid to me.
Direct spiritual experience is the only possible basis; and if you
will trust yours absolutely you are safe. When one thinks of the
distance you have gone in the last few months, it is incredible
that you should ever be depressed or distrustful again!

50 C.H.S.
 Nov. 20, 1907.

 I see I have got two letters of yours to answer! This is quite
dreadful of me: but it is consoling to reflect that you must have
found out long ago that I am a very bad correspondent.

I am so glad you are happy: I always thought you would be, if only
you would let yourself. People who care about these sort of things
at all have a fund of happiness at their disposal which outside
circumstances, "hard lives," etc., can't touch. Only so often they
are perverse, and won't take advantage of their privileges--like an
over-scrupulous nun, haggling over whether she is quite good
enough for her Maker.

I am so sorry you thought you had got to return Plotinus if you had
not finished with him. There is never any hurry really: and I will
always tell you if I happen to want books back. Mr. Williams has got
a very fine complete edition of the Life and Works of St. Teresa in
French--together with other Spanish mystics--three large and heavy
volumes! It is most unsuitable for Dissenting ministers but I'm sure
you would like it. There is a nice little edition of Tauler in the
Library of Devotion for 1s. 6d.--without the remarks of the odious
Miss Winckworth.

I cannot think why you are "put off" by a thing like the Mass of St.
Gregory. Are you going to disallow all the visions of all the
Saints? And, if the substance of what he saw was God, surely it was
just as reasonable for him to perceive its accidents under one form
as under another?

50 C.H.S.
 Dec. 30, 1907.

 Thank you so much for your last letter--and for the very pretty
card, quite the nicest I had! Of course I will be glad for you to
tell me more about yourself if you feel that it will help you. It is
so much easier to tell a person one has not seen, and you need never
see me unless you like!

You say reading St. Teresa has made you feel anxious to get on
quicker (but no one can get on quickly with this particular job) and
you do not know what to do next. I do not one bit want to go on
harrying you with advice: but I just submit it for your
consideration that there are certain attitudes of mind to be
cultivated, and certain methods of devotion to be learned, which are
quite essential and quite definite. They are really, I believe, the
thing to do next. Of course I can only gather vaguely and
approximately the point you have reached and the use you are making
of the light you have got--so all I can do is to tell you the things
I have found out for myself, on the chance of one or two of them
fitting in.

Now it seems to me that one's life only attains reality in so far as
it is consciously lived in the Presence of God. This consciousness
can be attained and clung to by a definite act of the will--or
rather by a series of graduated acts. Once you can breathe that
atmosphere, it will determine most questions of conduct for you
--become a sort of norm or standard, by which all other proportions
are judged. Secondly, as a means of getting at this, there is the
regular and systematic practice of meditation: by which of course I
do not mean thinking about a pious subject but the "deep" meditation
which tends to pass over into unitive prayer. You probably know that
experience already: but so many people, instead of regarding it as a
part of their regular spiritual food only do it when they "feel in
the mood" or "when they can." But once the will is in proper control
you can always enter into the silence, though often enough without
finding anything (consciously) there. That, I think, does not matter
much. What does matter is, never to give up, once you have started
on the way, in spite of the horrid discouragements and ups and
downs. I expect it is "more than my place is worth" to mention the
extreme usefulness of the rosary in this connection? So many people
seem to think it a sort of calculating-machine for the saying of
Hail Marys: whereas it is really a wonderful psychological device
for assisting the meditative state--a sort of "First Steps for
Little Contemplatives." At least I find it so but perhaps you would

50 C.H.S.
 Jan. 16, 1908.

 I feel a horrid diffidence in advising you on your last letter: it
seems very presumptuous to do so--because, in a way, you have enough
of your own to go on, and I, in advising you, can only go on my own
experience, which may not be a bit of use to you. So, I shall
probably make mistakes, and you must exercise your own judgement in
accepting what I say. We are both in a very confusing forest, and
the fact that I say I think I have found a path in one direction is
no valid reason for you to alter your course.

Now, first, you have, you know, the "root of the matter"--and as
long as you cling to that, you can't go far wrong. As your favourite
St. Augustine said, "Love and do what you like!" If you like wrong
things, you will soon find the quality of your love affected. This
same condition of love governs everything else (e.g. it rules out,
once for all, the idea of cash payments. Whether they are in force
or whether they are not, the true lover, whether on the earthly or
heavenly plane, has no thoughts to waste on them). It seems to me
that your immediate job must be to make this love active and
operative right through your life--to live in the light of it all
the while, and act by it all the while--to make it light up your
relations with other people, with nature, with life, with your work,
just as much as it lights up immediate communion with Our Lord. Try
to see people by His light. Then they become "real." Nothing helps
one so much as that. Prayerful and direct intercourse is only half
one's job; the other half is to love everything for and in God. This
is of course only a longwinded way of saying that one has got to let
faith issue in charity. When you have learnt to live within the love
of God in this human and healthy sense, the question of sin will
cease to be such a bogy as it is at present. Your attitude towards
sin is really almost Calvinistic!! Don't dwell on it! Turn your back
on it. Every minute you are thinking of evil, you might have been
thinking of good instead. Refuse to pander to a morbid interest in
your own misdeeds. Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and
go on again. Of course, it is deplorable that we should all hesitate
to make temporal sacrifices for eternal gains--Thomas a Kempis is
very bitter on the subject if you remember--but look back on the
time when this aspect of the subject would not even have occurred to
you, and ask yourself if your present unrest does not indicate
progress? So with sins--as we advance, our conscience gets more
delicate, and acts of self-help which once seemed almost laudable,
now look hideous. Of course, because you had a "good time" before
Christmas, and enjoyed devotion, you are now having a reaction and
a flat time. But sticking to it in the flat times is of far more
value both as service and as discipline--than luxuriating in
religious emotion. It is what strengthens your spiritual muscles.
Even the best people--even the saints--have always had to bear it:
sometimes for years. It is a natural condition in the spiritual
life. I know it is perfectly horrid when it happens--and I do not
mean  to be unsympathetic! But you must get enough grip to go on
trusting in the dark. All the prayer in the world will not get you
into a state in which you will always have nice times. You must not
get slack: you must make a rule of life and go on with it steadily.

Now about meditation. Perhaps it may not be your "line." It is
entirely a matter of temperament I believe. Some people cannot do it
at all. Personally I can do it to a certain "stage": but I know
others who, with less practice, can pass easily and naturally into
far deeper stages. In spite of all the mystics have told us, we are
in it working with almost an unknown tool. Try to get rid of the
visual image. Do you remember St. Teresa said of one of her nuns,
"Sister X . . . has so little imagination that she always sees an
image of the thing on which she meditates."

Try this way.

1. Put yourself into some position so easy and natural to you that
you don't notice your body: and shut your eyes.

2. Represent to your mind, some phrase, truth, dogma, event--e.g. a
phrase of the Paternoster or Anima Christi, the Passion, the
Nativity are the sort of things I use. Something that occurs
naturally. Now, don't think about it, but keep it before you,
turning it over as it were, as you might finger some precious

3. Deliberately, and by an act of will, shut yourself off from your
senses. Don't attend to touch or hearing: till the external world
seems unreal and far away. Still holding on to your idea, turn your
attention inwards (this is what Ruysbroeck means by introversion)
and allow yourself to sink, as it were, downwards and downwards,
into the profound silence and peace which is the essence of the
meditative state. More you cannot do for yourself: if you get
further, you will do so automatically as a consequence of the above
practice. It is the "shutting off of the senses" and what Boehme
calls the "stopping the wheel of the imagination and ceasing from
self-thinking" that is hard at first. Anyhow, do not try these
things when you are tired--it is useless: and do not give up the
form of prayer that comes naturally to you: and do not be
disheartened if it seems at first a barren and profitless
performance. It is quite possible to obtain spiritual nourishment
without being consciously aware of it!

Read Holy Wisdom by the Ven. Augustine Baker.

P.S. The dear cat sends his love; he was much flattered, as he
perceives you to be a lady who understands cat-nature! His name is
Jacob, because he supplants all other cats in the affections of
those who know him--or so he thinks!

Hotel St. Jean-Baptiste, Carcassonne.
 Thursday night [25 April, 1908].

 I got your Sunday letter and Monday p.c. when we arrived here this
afternoon. I'm so sorry you had such a disgustingly dreary holiday
with no real sailing or anything; I can't bear to think of it--but
if only the fresh air and idleness has done you good, it will be
something. You were a darling to send flowers to the Convent for
Easter--nothing you could have done would have pleased me more, as
you know. Sister Eucharistie wrote a delightful letter, saying how
beautiful they were and that she put them on the High Altar near the
Blessed Sacrament. I do love you for having done that. It's
lovely to think that there was something of ours there then
--"offering the homage of their beauty," as she says in her letter.

Via Michele 6, Firenze.
 Saturday [27 April, 1908].

 I am now quite raving mad about Italian pictures and you will find
me a horrid nuisance on the subject. I thought I knew how to
appreciate them before I left England, but now I know that I knew
less than nothing. The Botticellis here are entrancing; after a bit
they cast a sort of spell over you, and you can't get away from
them. Those really great old painters don't throw themselves into
your arms, like modern pot boilers, and say "Look what pretty things
I paint"; you have to find that out for yourself, but once you have
found it out, you must love them till the end of your days. Please
bear with this nonsense, the place makes me incoherent and I've no
one here to talk to, least on these subjects.

50 C.H.S.
 2nd Sunday after Easter, 1908.

To M.R.
 Here are your other Carcassonne pictures: I hope you will like
them. It was nice of you to write me a "welcome back" letter! I
liked it very much: as much as Jacob's very furry and demonstrative
greeting. We had a nice smooth and sunny crossing, and I feel very
glad to find myself at home again!

I wonder if you have yet discovered Auch? It takes a little looking
for: and I have not yet met anyone else who has been there. It's on
a side-line, west from Toulouse: a rather miserable, empty,
unsuccessful-looking town, full of empty houses and closed shops,
with a Cathedral which also looks desolate outside but is "all
glorious within." Your window is, as you saw, 16th century and very
good of its kind. It is in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, and
is one of a series which go completely round the choir-chapels;
really magnificent Renaissance glass with all the splendour of the
period and none of the paganism.

As for O felix culpa!--I feel a certain evil joy in telling you that
it comes from that despised manual of Christianity, the Roman
Missal!! you will find it in the Exultet, sung at the blessing of
the Paschal Candle on Holy Saturday. It, and the music to which it
is always chanted, are supposed to be the most ancient things in the
Liturgy. I think I shall never forget the first time I heard it:
it is so strange, wild and poignant. And they are expressive words,
aren't they? They lift one straight away from the morbid and
emotional hash with which the average curate profanes the Passion.

Benediction is nice, isn't it? If you want the whole text of the
service you can get a little book called The Garden of the Soul for
6d. which contains that, and Mass, and Sunday Vespers, the Way of
the Cross and some devotional odds and ends. The first Hymn is
always St. Thomas Aquinas' O Salutaris Hostia and the Collect is
always the one for Corpus Christi Deus qui nobis. Next time you are
in London you must go to Benediction at the Chapel of the Assumption
in Kensington Square. They have it every day at 5, and the nuns
sing quite charmingly. ... It is a tiny place so you would be able
to see quite well.

I wonder how you will like Boehme. Often enough he is over my head
altogether. He seems like a person dazed by his vision and
stuttering with the violence of his effort to express it.

I found some more Ruysbroeck while I was away. OEuvres Choisies by
E. Hello. Snippets are always horrid: but in this there is a long
piece of the Treatise on Contemplation, and two Canticles, and
various other precious things. Would you like me to lend it to you

50 C.H.S.
 May 9, 1908.

 I am sending you a Holy Week Book to see the Exultet in Latin just
to take the taste of the English version away. The bit you quote is
terrible; I have never come on quite such a bad example as that.
There is no hurry about returning this book as I am not likely to
want it yet awhile.

Isn't the Lady Julian lovely? But Methuen's 33. 6d. edition is much
better than the Kegan Paul one and has quite a nice Introduction
instead of that stuffy little essay of Tyrrell's. Tell me when you
want Ruysbroeck. There is a little life of him at the beginning,
which is rather nice to have.

I was amused to find you had seen the picture in the Bookmanl It is
more like a nigger boy than anything else, having been taken in the
back of the chemist's shop at Scilly, at the end of a day's fishing!
Heinemann annoyed me by demanding a portrait for publication, which
should be "mystical and strike a personal note"! Whereupon in a
spirit of pure devilry, I sent him that! He was annoyed--but used

June 16, 1908.

 Your letter got to me late as we were spending Whitsuntide in the
depths of the New Forest--in a tiny cottage with forest ponies
browsing at the door--so nice! I wonder was this the region where
you felt you could not follow me? It is inaccessible: far away from
the Blessings and Fonts and all other circumstances of
ecclesiastical splendour. A perfect example of what a pious friend
called "the godless desolation of rural England." All the same I do
rather miss churches when I have not got them to run to--don't you?

I was amused by your description of your violent and successful hunt
for those Corpus Christi verses. I imagined you and the bookstall
boy vainly searching M.A.P., Home Chat, and London Society--and
finally running them to earth in the least expected spot! I am so
pleased you liked them--it never occurred to me you would want to
see them at all. I thought the middle stanza had some horrid stuffy
lines in it but I could not get it any better. I want to do a little
book some day of those sort of verses for all the year? but so far
only the Christmas, Mid-Lent and Holy Week ones are done and
nowadays I seldom write rhymes.

I wonder if you idolize Corpus Christi day as much as I do? It is my
"secret love" among all the feasts of the year I think. In the
afternoon I generally go to the Convent of the Sacred Heart at
Roehampton where they have a procession of the Blessed Sacrament and
Benediction in the lovely old garden. I wonder if you would like it?

I nearly forgot the most important part of this letter: namely, that
Jacob sends his best love and says that--most fortunately--he is, as
you wished, Tabby: but emphatically NOT COMMON. He has been told he
is Pure Persian, and is inclined to believe it. He celebrated my
return yesterday by catching a mouse and eating it, with every
circumstance of cruelty, in the garden whilst I was having my tea.
There are moments when it is difficult to adjust even the nicest cat
to an optimistic scheme of Creation!

This is a horribly frivolous letter. I don't know why a bit. Perhaps
the after result of last night's women writers' Dinner--which this
year was madder and more amusing than ever. My opposite neighbour
was a lady who has made herself a religion of Conic Sections, and
told me that Curves were the key to the Universe and an infallible
corrective of pantheism: and that Sex and Psychology were in it all
--a dark saying indeed which I have not yet unravelled! Next to her
sat Mrs. Tay Pay O'Connor who interrupted the discourse on Curves to
ask her if she knew Mrs. Cecil Raleigh, who had done so much in
Drury Lane Melodrama. Add to this a large Chorus of successful
Suffragists, full of Saturday's demonstration: and the usual
hare-and-hounds business of anxious admirers chasing successful
authors in order to have the pleasure of saying, "I do so like your
book!"--and it is not surprising if every scribbler in London is
feeling weak and light-headed to-day!

Good-bye. I will send Ruysbroeck in a day or two. His remarks on
Hell, coming from such a quarter, are painful reading: but much of
the rest compensates.

St. Martha's Day, 29/07/08.

 I am writing this to Liverpool on chance of its catching you before
you go. Not that my remarks on the subject are likely to be of the
slightest use as I am quite as much (or more) feeling my way in the
dark, as you are! So, you must please only read it as a tentative
expression of opinion, founded merely on my own experience as far as
I have gone yet.

The first point is--do you wish to develop in yourself (1) "balanced
faculties" or (2) to be a "specialist"? If (1), then utter
repression of the senses is obviously wrong, and indeed impossible
to those who live the active life at all.

If (2), then such repressions may be right for entirely exceptional
souls. But please note that the great contemplative saints are not
found amongst such souls. Remember St. Francis with his love of
birds and music, sun and air: St. Teresa's eau-de-Cologne:
Ruysbroeck's and St. Bernard's passion for the forest. As to what
you say about the cloistered life, I don't know whether you have
ever known any nuns or monks personally? I know a good many and as a
matter of fact, they live the life of the senses just as much as
anyone else, only in a peculiarly simple and detached way. If you
want to find the person who combines spiritual passion with
appreciation of a cup of coffee--go to a convent. It is just there
that you find this type in perfection. I believe the whole secret to
lie in "detachment": and it is difficult to conceive how anyone who
has once seen the "vision splendid" even for a moment can fail to
have this detachment in some measure, or fail to see bits of it,
hints and shadows, in most of the evidences of sense. I think that
the R.L.S. point of view, lit by this experience, may be spiritual;
not lit by it--it is only a sort of cosmic cheerfulness and rather
shallow at that!

The Church has always, of course, held up as the Christian ideal a
mixture of the active and contemplative life--the one lit up by the
other. Our Lord's human life was just that, wasn't it? Social
intercourse regulated by nights spent in the mountain in prayer. We
ought to be strong enough to use our senses without letting them
swamp our souls: to enjoy them, without ever forgetting the greater
joy of the "deep yet dazzling darkness."

The condemnation of "lust of the eyes" seems to me to just point the
distinction between lust and reasonable love. Just as, in the same
way, it is right to love other people in the Love of God--but not to
have violent and exclusive passions for them. This shuts off the
spiritual light just as completely as an attack of hatred and
malice! I am sure that nothing which can co-exist with the
consciousness of the spiritual world hurts us--and it seems to me
that all pure beauty can so co-exist if we choose. Of course in
moments of meditation (and indeed, I think, of prayer) all sensual
images are in the way. But even in the cloister, unitive prayer
cannot be continuous. A rightly detached soul can "switch off" the
world of sense at those times without despising it. The two things
are so very near together. So that it is the "garment that ye see
Him by"--if you know Him first. And, as pain is plaited right
through nature and supernature as we know it, I don't see that this
longing to hurt oneself (it can become hysterical if not looked
after, as I know to my cost, so beware!) militates against the other

Consider again St. Francis: the "heavenly melody" and the Stigmata
lived side by side in his experience. I do not believe anyone ever
lived a more perfectly Christian life than he did. It is shamefully
ungracious not to glory in the works of the Lord because one is
preoccupied over the fact that one is a miserable sinner. The fact
that we say the Confession and the Agnus at Mass does not make us
modestly omit the Gloria. I am certain we should stretch our
spiritual muscles till they permit selfless joy as well as selfless
pain. If it were otherwise, Gethsemane would have made Cana in
Galilee impossible. Surely you have perceived for yourself the
difference between created things as seen in the indescribable
atmosphere which theologians call "the love of God," and seen
in the ordinary worldly light?

I remember you told me once the first thing you "found out" was a
sense of intense refinement. The first thing I found out was exalted
and indescribable beauty in the most squalid places. I still
remember walking down the Netting Hill main road and observing the
(extremely sordid) landscape with joy and astonishment. Even the
movement of the traffic had something universal and sublime in it.
Of course that does not last: but the after-flavour of it does,
and now and then one catches it again. When one does catch it, it is
so real that to look upon it as wrong would be an unthinkable
absurdity. At the same time, one sees the world at those moments so
completely as "energized by the invisible" that there is no
temptation to rest in mere enjoyment of the visible.

This is all very scrappy and unsatisfactory I know; but if there is
anything I have left out that I could answer, do tell me.

P.S. Did you notice this in St. Bernard? "Experto crede: aliquid
amplius invenies in Silvis quam in Libris. Ligna et lapides decelunt
te quod a Magistris audire non possis."* And this: "Quidquid in
Scriptures valet, quidquid in eis spiritualiter sentit, maxime in
silvis et in agris meditando et orando se confitetur accepisse, et
in hoc nullos aliquando se magistros habuisse nisi quercos et fagos
joco illo suo gratioso inter amicos dicere solet."** Isn't that
rather nice? I hope you will find the oaks am beeches equally
improving to the mind!

* 'Believe me who have tried. Thou wilt find something more in woods
than in books. Trees and rocks will teach thee what thou canst not
hear from a master.'--Letter to Henry Murdach.

** Whatever strengthens him in the Scriptures, whatever he feels of'
spiritual worth in them, he confesses that he had found chiefly when
meditating and praying in the woods and fields, and in this respect
he is wont to say among his friends with that gracious playfulness
of his that he had had no other teachers but the oaks and beeches.

 August 29, 1908.

 I have been "thinking you over" a lot since we were here. Oddly
enough your letter partly anticipates what I wanted to say to you:
but does not quite answer it. What struck me about you was, not that
there was any danger of your relapsing into "comfiness," but that
your tendency was to make your religion a tete-a-tete affair. The
communion of Saints and all that is implied by that does not occupy
a sufficiently prominent place in your creed, I think. (All this
must be read with the usual reservations because so often my
judgement is wrong.) This is a trap specially set for those who are
attracted by the personal and mystical aspect of religion and find
their greatest satisfaction in unitive prayer. Now, you say you have
taken up two new bits of work: but you carefully refrain from
mentioning what they are. I don't in the least want you to tell me:
for probably having to answer questions about yourself fills you
with the same misery and loathing that it does me! But I do hope it
is work which brings you into immediate personal contact with those
you are helping--which appeals to your human qualities. Half an hour
sspent with Christ's poor is worth far more than half a million
on them. It is necessary to a sane Christianity. Experto crede.

I remember some years ago being told that I was all wrong because I
had not learned to recognize Christ in my fellow-creatures. I
disliked the remark intensely at the time--but it was true.

I do not mean by this that I want you to undertake a prolonged
course of slumming: but since you are doing work, do let an hour a
week be given to something of that kind. Never mind about extra
devotions at present. You are doing enough in that way I think: but
remember that you are to be a companion-in-arms, a fellow-worker, as
well as a lover and secret friend: that you are to further the
coming of the Kingdom by your outer as well as your inner life. Do
this not only as a "response," a "sacrifice," but as a natural act
of friendship to your brothers and sisters. The kingdom of heaven is
not a solitude a deux. It is the vice of a false mysticism that it
often produces this impression.

On the other hand, saying fervent things, if one truly feels them,
is never humbug even though one is too weak to live up to one's
aspirations. So don't worry about that. Just as it is not humbug to
say prayers one longs to feel, even though the emotional power fails
at the moment. Never forget that the key of the situation lies in
the will and not in the imagination.

I know it is difficult to take the same interest in other things:
sometimes one simply can't. I cannot give you any prescription
against that and after all, although it is regrettable in some ways,
I am not sure it is wholly a vice. One cannot have more than one
centre to one's life (at least, not without suffering pretty badly
for it--and I hope you will not try that!) and once you are adjusted
to Eternity, Time is bound to look a bit thin. Metaphysics produced
this effect in me far more badly than religious mysticism, because
they proved that the world was illusion without providing any reason
for its existence.

Now, after this drastic lecture, you cannot say I have not taken
your parable to heart, can you? I should like even to say a little
more on the merits of those vocal and formal prayers for which you
manifested such a truly Protestant contempt, but that will keep for
another time if you feel you want it!

We are enjoying ourselves here immensely and I already feel much
better. The quiet is heavenly: and we are staying on till September
7, as Hubert thinks it is "better for me" than rushing about. . . .
The company has been very amusing: two French lady artists and the
Director of the Bibliotheque des Arts Decoratifs at Paris, a
delightful person, both cheerful and brilliant who became very
friendly and is going to take us round the Musee in person when we
return to Paris. We walked over together to Pierre Perthuis
yesterday afternoon. What a perfectly lovely place! It was very
clear after a rainy morning and the view from the high bridge was
marvellous. The old gentleman whose garden contains the ruins of the
cloister, dortor and refectory and the monks' garden and vineyard
here, asked us in yesterday and showed us round: gave Hubert a local
fossil from the "grotte" and me a bunch of roses!

50 C.H.S.
 Sep. 26, 1908.

 I am afraid you will think this letter has been a terrible long
time coming, but we only got home yesterday morning: and whilst we
were away I never once had enough leisure to really settle down to
it. We had a splendid time, particularly at Autun, which is a most
gorgeous place both for scenery and "monuments" and at
Chateau-Chinon which is as good as Switzerland without its
disadvantages. We wound up with 5 days of shopping and sight-seeing
in Paris: a little of everything, with the Sainte Chapelle at one
end of the scale, and new autumn hats at the other. We liked none of
the places better than dear Vezelay though; and shall certainly go
back there another year. It was quite affecting saying good-bye to
all our friends--particularly Madame Bobelin, who for some unknown
reason loved me dearly and kissed me fervently (to my great
amazement) in the middle of the narthex.

I return your bath with our unlimited thanks. We have severally
blessed your name every morning for it. It was kind of you to lend
it. Now for business.

A. About your work. I think you are doing very well indeed: and I
should have thought, with your regular work, you have undertaken as
much as you can properly manage. You say you will do more if I think
this is the right line for you. I think, as I told you, that it is
B. an essential ingredient in your life, but this does not mean
that it is to overpower all the other ingredients. You must
leave yourself time and energy for prayer, reading, meditation, and
also please, for social intercourse with beings of your own class.
The "right line" for you, in my opinion, is to check your own
tendency to excess of individualism. But do not, in your zeal,
overdo it in the other direction. I do so want your life to be
properly balanced. To live alone, and be shy, and have a turn for
mysticism, makes an individualistic concept of the relation
between yourself and GOD almost inevitable. Such a concept is
not untrue: it is half a truth, and when held together with
the other half--the concept of yourself as one of the  household of
faith, related to every other soul in that household, living and
--it becomes actually true. If this were quite true to you,
intercessory prayer would become as natural and necessary as passing
the salt to your neighbour at table instead of remaining in profound
contemplation of your own plate.

B. This, too, is where formal prayer comes in, for in (the best)
formal prayers--the Psalms, and prayers of the Saints--we are making
our own the best aspirations of the best minds. To say that you
cannot pray for the things they prayed for--that your wants are not
theirs--is merely to say that you are not really in the stream of
Christian tradition. To use these prayers confirms one in this
tradition. They are educative to the soul which wants to learn to
pray, just as good literature is educative to the mind that wants to
learn to write. Also is it not rather arrogant to refuse to avail
oneself of the help of experts? They got to the place you want to
get to, and their prayers presumably helped them to do it. By using
these prayers you enter into their atmosphere. You ought to pray
to the saints too--ask them to help you. "The best way of knowing
God is to frequent the company of His friends," said St. Teresa, and
it is just as important to keep in touch with your brothers and
sisters out of the body as in the body.

Don't be depressed about your girls' Bible Class. Of course they
have not an elementary sense of religion: not one per cent of the
population has at their age: and only a smallish proportion I think,
at any age! The main thing is in that sort of work that you should
make them like you, and that you should make it perfectly clear to
them that you believe absolutely in your religion and care intensely
for it. Let all your religious appeals, if you make them, be as
emotional as possible. You will not make them grasp religion now,
because they do not feel the need of it: but some time in their
lives a crisis will come in which they will either accept or reject
religion. Then the remembrance of your teaching, or rather the
personality of the teacher who represented Christianity to them,
will become of paramount importance; and the fact that it is
connected in their minds with some one who was friendly and helped
them, will count enormously. So you really have no cause to feel
sad: that sort of work has mostly to be done in faith: and at the
very lowest you are acting as a civilizing agent, which is one way
of furthering the coming of the Kingdom. To have got on friendly
terms with the girls is a great thing. It means that you have an
influence over them though they would probably rather die than let
you know it!

Do not attempt "intellectual teaching"--go for their feelings quite
simply and do not be afraid of letting them see yours! Religion
cannot be communicated without enthusiasm. They must see it in you
before they will get any idea of it for themselves--and this can be
done independently of talking about it. I agree that the
secret-love-affair style is very pleasant for the individual
worshipper. But it is fatal in a missionary.

I wholly agree with the lady who asked you not to be a snail. The
extra time which you proposed to put into more good works might be
devoted to that department for the present, don't you think?

I got such a nice little old book in Paris of the Meditations and
Soliloquies of St. Augustine, which I had not read before. It is
Latin but very easy. Would you like to see it later on? And was
there not some other book I was to lend you? . . .

Which Viollet-le-Duc has the account of Vezelay in it? Is it the
Dictionary of Architecture? I want to read it up before my memory
gets faint at all. We found Nevers a nice place and extremely cheap.
There is one of the finest Romanesque churches I have seen
--excepting St. Hilaire at Poitiers--and this is much less restored
than St. Hilaire. It is all of a piece, not Gothic, and with all its
dear little clusters of apses undisturbed.

Oct. 22, 1908.

 This is not a "director's" letter at all, so you may at once banish
the usual sensations of trembling--and probably those of pleasure

It is really to ask you whether you feel like being extremely
angelic and helping me at your leisure with the job I have on hand
just now? I am writing--or trying to write--a "serious" book on
Mysticism and of course want to make use of the German mystics and
some of them have never been translated whilst others have been done
from such a controversial point of view that one dares not trust
the translators. I am particularly hung up over Meister Eckhardt and
Mechthild of Magdeburg, but there may be others. Now if I sent you
the books, would you read them leisurely through, check any passages
I sent you and extract and translate for me any bits you thought
specially good bearing on points of which I would send you a list?

This is a perfectly barbarous proposal and please do not hesitate to
refuse point blank if you do not like it. I know you know German
well--and I don't know it at all--and so I thought perhaps I might
venture to ask, anyhow. This letter is very scrawly for the usual
reason--Jacob! Having settled myself in most unascetic ease for an
afternoon's letter-writing on the sofa, he said that he wished to be
nursed; which has complicated matters. He sends his love, and is
larger than ever! I have not any MS. to send: it is all in little
bits, being added to and corrected, and won't settle down. I suppose
you do not happen to remember whereabouts in the Lady Julian a
passage comes saying that salvation or perfection or something
"cometh of the pure love of the heart and of the light of the reason
and of the steadfast mind"? I have used the quotation and lost the

I think you sound as if you were doing very well--and quite enough
in the parochial department! Please hold the scales level, and don't
let tract-distribution take the place of meditation! Tell me how
your girls go on--I feel most interested in them. It is such
splendid kind of work--I wish I did it, but the young never like me
unfortunately. Good-bye. Be sure you say NO if you feel like it.

Nov. 21, 1908.

 It is very evil to have left your last letter unanswered so long:
but then, I am evil--and truly sincere persons always express their
character in action. You, by the way, are very evil too: your
behaviour about "business arrangements" approaches the frontier of
crime. Did you seriously think that I ever intended you to slave for
me like this as a sort of graceful act of friendship?

You have just waited till you were indispensable; and then taken a
Mean Advantage!! However--I will be even with you in the long run
and what I says I'll do, that I does do. Meanwhile I am deeply
grateful for what you are doing, even on these preposterous terms.

The book gets on very slowly, as the further I go the more material
I find. I enclose a plan of the chapters, which I shall keep to more
or less. You will see from this the sort of extracts likely to be
useful. It is a study of mystical method and doctrine, not of
specific mystics: so that bits bearing on my points are more useful
than bits showing their peculiar characteristics.

. . . Vaughan says Eckhardt's "Spark of the soul" is equivalent to
Plotinus's "divine intuition." Do you think this is so? I should
like a bit or two about the said "spark of the soul" but this will
do much later on.

Yes, I shall have to include Suso, also Tauler; but fancy I can get
enough for my purpose in English. Mechthild has not come yet, and I
fear must be out of print which is dreadful as she is really
peculiarly lovely: even in the horrid shoddy rhymes of her only
translator (who of course gives no references!).

This morning I found at the L.L. David von Augsburg catalogued as a
14th century mystic. He is Vol. I of Pfeiffer's series, of which
Vol. II is your Old German Eckhardt. I know nothing of him, nor,
apparently, does Vaughan.

Nov. 24, 1908.

 I cannot think of an unctuous book for you! Most of those I have
read lately are of a strenuous cast, excepting Richard Rolle, who is
at present the beloved of my heart. But he is only obtainable in the
E.E.T.S. Northern English text: horrid stuff to spell out. I think I
must edit him for modern readers some day.

Isn't this lovely:

"In the beginning of my conversion and singular purpose, I thought I
would be like the little bird, that for love of its Lover longs ...
it is said the nightingale to song and melody all night is given,
that she may please him to whom she is joined. How muckle more with
greatest sweetness to Christ my Jesu should I sing ... by all this
present life that is night in regard to clearness to come....
Worldly lovers soothly words or ditties of our song may know, for
the words they read, but not the tone and sweetness of that song
they may not learn. Oh good Jesu, my heart thou hast bound in
thought of thy Name and now I cannot but sing it!" There's oil of
joy for you!

Have you read Molinos? I could lend you a little thing of his if you
like. He is nice--but not sticky.

I do not know what to say to you about Confession. My own feeling
about it is, that if practised it should be done regularly, as a
normal part of your life, without fuss or excitement, and not as a
sort of spiritual spring-cleaning. This (the spring-cleaning style)
is quite as upsetting as its material equivalent. It means, in my
experience, agonies of contrition often extending over weeks, and
paralysing in their effect: and I doubt its usefulness except for
slack persons who will not face the facts of their own character
without a stimulus of this kind. Regular confession made to a
priest, who looks upon it as normal and not in the least
interesting, I believe to be an excellent way of keeping your house
in order. But, if it means anything at all, it is something so big
that the personality of your confessor and whether he sees through
you and you mind being seen through, etc. etc. simply does not come
in. It is a sacramental act: you are not confessing to a sympathetic
curate, but to Christ as embodied in the Church. You are a member of
a family and are confessing to that family that you have not lived
up to the standard set. This is why in the Roman form you confess
not only to God and the priest, but also to the saints, each one of
whom, as members of a potentially perfect Church, is injured by your

Jan. 22, 1909.

 I should be rather glad if you would send me your extracts from
Mechthild and my notes (but not the book). I should like to look
through them as on the strength of Mrs. Bevan I had arranged to use
several passages which may not, from what you say, be admissible.
You shall have it back again later if you like to revise: and if I
re-arrange the language at all you will have to tell me whether I am
Bevanizing or not! I have used heaps of your Eckhardt, he seems to
fit me nicely somehow: but Tauler, though excellent, does not so far
seem any good for this job.

Tell me sometime from the history the date of David von Augsburg,
and who he was and what he did. It sounds a charming sort of book.
Send it and Martensen back when you have quite done with them, not

Have you got Tauler's Sermons for the Sundays after Trinity in
German? If so and if I use any pieces from the Wicked Winckworth
(neither your French vol. nor the Inner Way contains those sermons)
perhaps you would not mind comparing them with the original to make
sure she has not falsified in the interests of "evangelical truth"?

I have had St. Bernard On Consideration. Most of it is tiresome
stuff about the duties of a Pope (it's a letter addressed to
Eugenius), but Book V, on the Consideration of heavenly things, has
some lovely passages, and a splendid definition--"What is God? The
best object of thought." The last phrases I should like to use as a

"But perhaps after all He is more easily found by prayer than by
dialectics. Here then let us end our book--but not our search for
Him." Isn't that beautiful?

I am so sorry you are "left to yourself." It is a cheerless
experience but can be a fine piece of discipline if you choose to
make it so. The causes I think are partly material--the inevitable
fatigue of a spiritual sense which cannot live always on the stretch
and is now resting. I think it helps one to go on if one remembers
that one's true relation to God is not altered by the fact that
one has ceased to be aware of it. Other things being equal, you are
just where you were before, but are temporarily unable to see the
Light. And the use of the disability, just like the use of any other
sort of suffering, is to prevent you from identifying fullness of
life with fullness of comfort. Your ideal of spiritual life must be
right up above all the pleasure-and-pain oscillations of your
finite, restless self: and you will not have any real peace till you
have surrendered that self altogether, and tried to grasp nothing,
not even love. When you absolutely and eagerly surrender yourself to
the Will, you will cease to writhe under that sense of deprivation.
You will take it all in the day's work and go on steadily. These are
the sort of times when verbal prayer, if one has assimilated it and
made it one's own in more genial seasons, becomes a help: and
enables one to go doggedly on, praying more not less, because the
light is withdrawn. To do otherwise would be a confession that you
have been living by sight and not really by faith at all.

As to "having too good an opinion of one's own capacities," I don't
think we have any spiritual capacities except those obtained and
developed by prayer, and one can hardly feel cocky about those, can
one? The true attitude is to rest with entire trustfulness on the
Love of God, and not care two straws what happens to one's self. If
you are there, how little the question of whether you see you are
there can matter. It is rather an honour to be allowed to serve Him
in the darkness instead of being given a night-light like a nervous

This does not mean to be a scolding letter and I hope it does not
sound like one. It consists chiefly of rebukes I have administered
to myself on similar occasions.

I am so glad you like Holy Wisdom. I think it very solid and

Sexagesima, 1909.

 Please I really am sorry not to have answered your letter before
--and it was nice of you to write to me for the Purification. I did
not know you knew--so it was rather a surprise altogether! All the
week a bad cold has induced limp sensations and a decided
disinclination to do more writing once the daily tale of bricks was
accomplished--so that is the real reason.

Are you still being a Martha I wonder? Don't go and have a
distracted Lent over it: it is such waste, one does not pick it up
all the year. Better a dusty lodging than a dusty soul after all
--though I am not sure you will agree with me.. . . .

I have got such a nice edition of Suso--quite complete--and am
translating pieces from it. I expect I shall have to ask you to
compare them with the original, as unless the French was almost
literal (which I doubt) the final result may be much like Bevan.
There is something disastrous about French for the purposes of
religious writing. I have just had the Abbot of Farnborough's
lectures on the Liturgy--and he translates Sursum corda, "Haut les
coeurs!" Very exact no doubt--but there seems something lacking,
doesn't there?

I have also had Madame Guyon's Autobiography (the original edition)
and I will not conceal from you that it is highly diverting in
parts, though of course I shall have to try and treat it
respectfully. "Divers Croix chez M. son Pere" is the title of the
chapter dealing with various events when she was twelve years old
and her Mama and Papa did not quite fall in with her plans for her
own salvation.

Feb. 17, 1909.

 What a woeful letter! You are so very meek that I haven't the heart
to scold you much, though you really have been naughty this time.
Just when you were most "beset" and might anyhow have found it a bit
difficult to hold on, you calmly gave up your one chance of
beginning the day fair and square! Where had your sense of
proportion got to, when you thought you had not time for your
morning prayers?

Now you will not get out of your present depressing situation by
expending emotion upon it. The only thing that can help you is
exercising your will. To begin with, the question of whether your
waking thoughts are going to be devoted to reality or Miss E ... is
one which is entirely within your own control, or can be, if you
give a few days to it. Your waking-up thoughts are largely
governed by those with which you go to sleep. Refuse to take the
worries of the world to bed with you. Shut them down the minute they
begin to emerge. Absolutely nothing is to be gained by thinking over
domestic complications when they are not present: it is imitating
Martha's most reprehensible habit just at the moment when you have
leisure to sit with Mary, and to gain from doing so a strength and
peace and rightness of judgement which you can't get in any other
way. You have got yourself into a state of spiritual fatigue and
muddle, and you imagine, as you say, that your life is "dislocated."
It isn't a bit: unless by dislocated you mean that it is not going
quite so easily as usual and you are being given an opportunity to
try your strength. Do be more trustful, more simple, more childlike.
It is you yourself who are complicating things by not taking them
bit by bit as they arise. Do this, and turn constantly to God by an
act of the will, whether it gives you happy feelings or not.
Adoration remains a grim duty when it ceases to be a joy: and
is twice as much worth while under these conditions. Now about Lent.

(1) Yes, of course I do think it would be a good plan to go to a
week-day celebration: couldn't you go to Communion every week
--during Lent only? Don't answer that it would be too exciting.
It need not be if you handle yourself properly.

(2) Please say the Way of the Cross at least once a week during
Lent; preferably in a church where the stations are set up, but
if this is out of the question, say it by yourself. You can
easily make your own meditations if you dislike those in the
books. Stick to it even if it seems at first an arid and
unsuitable sort of devotion. To me, the way in which it weaves
together and consecrates every misery, injustice, humiliation,
difficulty, weariness and squalor incident to human life, raises
them to the nth degree of intensity and exhibits them in the full
blaze of the Divine, is a sort of inexhaustible marvel.

(3) Put aside temporarily all ideas of unitive prayer, and devote
yourself rather to plodding along, to intercession--using the whole
strength of your will in it, not casually recommending people--and
to curing faults. Pick one out and go for it steadily, noticing each
day how many times you have committed it. Don't go to Church or to
Communion primarily to "get help," but to offer service.

As to what to aim at. What you want is that steadfastness of spirit
which is only obtained by realizing the greatness of God and the
littleness of everything else except as a means to Him--meditate on
these indubitable facts, and hold on to them with your will. Amans
Deum anima, sub Deo despicit universa--and the odd thing is, that
only when we "despise" them in this sense do we really cope with
them efficiently. You will deal with the (domestic) problem much
better when you regard it as a kindergarten implement, useful to
your education, but otherwise not of deadly importance.

I send you a bit of typing as you say you are ready for it: I hope
you are not saying so to oblige me and inconvenience yourself. Don't
do it until you really are comfortably at leisure. You will probably
be annoyed (though I hope you won't feel it a "cross "!) to hear
that one of Hubert's clerks, who had not much to do, has typed the
first three chapters. I send the paper, as I thought it would be
nice to have it all to match. Please make a carbon copy and give a
3-inch margin. My refs. at the foots of pages may not be always in
the right order but mostly are I think. I have the opportunity of
showing this chapter to a rather good theologian to check
inadvertent heresies in it, which is really why I send it to you
now. The other three chapters have been revised, lengthened and
partly re-written and a rather long chapter on Conversion is nearly
done, so I am not getting on so badly.

Many thanks for David. He seems nothing out of the ordinary, and I
don't think I need inflict his Early German works upon you! Have you
read Waite's Holy Graal yet? So queer and decidedly interesting. It
contains at least one perfect epigram "God is the proper quest of
the romantic spirit." I like that, don't you?

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 8 March, 1909.

 Thank you very much for saying you will show Mrs. Limond some MSS.
We are coming about 2:30 to 3 on the 15th. I think what remnants of my
ancient lore still stick in my mind will enable me to lead her round
the show-cases: but what I really wanted your kind offices for was
to give her a sight of the Durham Book and Sforza ditto.

I wonder if you can give me a bit of information I rather badly
want? Is there in the Museum--or elsewhere in London--a copy,
printed or MS., of Richard Rolle's Incendium Amoris: the Latin not
the English? It is not in Horstman's collection, which I possess. I
am using him a lot for the book on mystics which I am writing just
now, and Misyn's 15th century translation, called the Fire of Love
(E.E.T.S.), looks suspiciously like being corrupt in places, so I
must compare it with the original. I can't find the LA. in the
Catalogue and your esteemed colleague, Mr. Cyril Davenport, whom I
roused from the agreeable occupation of making lantern slides this
morning, could only tell me that if it was not in the Catalogue it
was not in the Museum, unless possibly in a MS. which I should not
be able to read! With which helpful and expert information I had to
be content. . . . Rolle was such a popular writer in the XIV and XV
that there must be lots of copies of the thing. If there are any
other mystical treatises in the MSS. that you know of, and in a hand
I could read, I should be thankful to hear. Horstman says that
nearly all the English mediaeval mystics are still in MS. and
practically unknown. But he carefully refrains from mentioning

It is very exciting news about the MS. book. I suppose Methuen
intends to publish this autumn? I know he is getting his list for that
ready now, as he has just sent my new book (The Column of Dust) to press.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 9 March, 1909.

 Thank you very much indeed for all the splendid information about
my Richard. I never meant you to take all that trouble--but am very
grateful that you did! I will come and look at the most legible of
the MSS. one day: probably I can find and check off the passages I
am using without much trouble. I did find that much quoted ch. in La
Bigne, but forgot to mention it. Why they always pick that one
I can't conceive: it's good, but there are others better
--particularly the nightingale passage and the bits about music. I
want very much to edit Misyn, corrected by the original and arranged for
modern readers, later on, when I have got my present job off my
hands. Together with some of the things in Horstman it would make a very
nice little book. And I think the "father of English mysticism" well
deserves this trifling civility. When I am there I will also
claim your kind promise to show me where and how hidden mystics may
be catalogued. I am told to look out specially for Richard of Scotland,
a pupil of the Victorines: but likely enough there is nothing in it.
There is a striking resemblance between the casual advice of the
learned and the crackling of thorns under a pot!

50 C.H.S.
 St. Patrick's Day, 1909.

To M.R.
 My very dear friend, I do hope I will get through this letter
without saying something that will hurt you horribly by mistake. Believe
me it's not meant to be hurting: so please try to read it as it is

Now to take your remarks in order.

(1) "It is so fatally easy to dispense with the regulations which I
make myself." In giving way to such a feeling as this, and elevating
your director into a sort of she-who-must be-obeyed, you are putting
the whole thing on a wrong basis, and enfeebling your own will. If
you regard any rule of life which you deliberately undertake as a
promise made to God, an offering to Him--how can it be "fatally easy" to
break it? Where is your sense of reality gone to?

At the present moment you seem to have got the perspective of your
life all wrong: and you know it implicitly, and that is why you are so
uncomfortable. You have got introspective again and are taking heaps
too much interest in your own soul.

(1) "Your rule of weekly Communion is giving me a good deal of
trouble." Why? And don't you think that this, again, is a
self-centred and impossible sort of attitude to take up? "Behold the
Bridegroom cometh" and you say, "But it's such a dreadful lot of
trouble to get ready and I am never sure that my hands are quite
clean enough." I suspect you of going about your preparation in a
thoroughly wrong-headed way: and pulling yourself up by the roots
every time and meditating upon their discouraging condition; with
the result that you think more of your own imperfection than of the
Perfection which you approach. I had far rather you made no
preparation at all than this. Our Lord did not say, "Come unto me  all ye
faultless": neither did He say, "Be sure you tear yourselves to
pieces first." There are only three necessities of a good communion
--Faith, Hope and Charity. To rely utterly on God and be in charity
with the world--this is the essential. What you happen to be feeling at
the moment, does not matter in the least. Do--do try and be more
objective in your religion. Try to see yourself less as a complex
individual, and more as a quite ordinary scrap of the universe.

(2) To the alarming list of innate vices which you have managed to
get together I should like to add another: Pride. All this
preoccupation with your own imperfection is not humility, but an
insidious form of spiritual pride. What do you expect to  be?
Asaint? There are desperately few of them: and even they
found that faults, which are the raw material of sanctity remember,
take a desperate lot of working up. You know best when and how you
fall into these various pitfalls. Try and control yourself when you see
the temptation coming (sometimes you will succeed, which is so much to
the good). Pull yourself up and make an act of contrition when you catch
yourself doing any of the things. Never allow yourself to be
pessimistic about your own state. Look outwards instead of inwards:
and when you are inclined to be depressed and think you are
getting on badly, make an act of thanksgiving instead, because
others are getting on well. The object of your salvation is God's
Glory, not your happiness. Remember it is all one to the angels
whether you or another give Him the holiness He demands.

So, be content to help on His kingdom, remaining yourself in the
lowest place. Merge yourself in the great life of the Christian family.
Make intercessions, work for it, keep it in your mind. You have tied
yourself up so tight in that accursed individualism of yours--the
source of all your difficulties--that it is a marvel you can breathe
at all.

I hope you are going to get hold of a little personal work amongst
the poor when you can? As for the inclination to cut connection with
other people, that must be fought tooth and nail, please. Go out as much
as you can, and enter into the interests of others, however twaddley.
They are all part of life, remember: and life, for you, is divine.

As to the last crime on your list, however, "dislike of pain," you
need not take a very desponding view. My dear child, everyone dislikes
pain, really--except a few victims of religious and other forms of
hysteria. Even the martyrs, it has been said, had "less joy of their
triumph because of the pain they endured." They did not want the lions:
but they knew how to "endure the Cross" when it came. Do not worry your
head about such things as this: but trust God and live your life bit
by bit as it comes.

There. God bless you.

50 C.H.S.
 Wednesday in Holy Week, 1909.

 I ought to have written ages ago: but these last days (a) the
abrupt arrival of a new "case" for direction, of a very strenuous
kind and (b) the fact that one of my dearest friends went through a very
anxious operation last Monday, seem to have used up all one's
vitality. I am so sorry. And now in Holy Week you will not be wanting a
director's letter a bit: for the drama of these days provides far
more than one can absorb as it sweeps over one. However, you can
keep this till a more convenient season and I must send you a
greeting for Easter Day. Do be happy on that day of days. Try being
perfectly simple and trusting our Lord, and don't tie yourself into

I do not think reading the mystics would hurt you myself: you say
you must avoid books which deal with "feelings"--but the mystics
don't deal with feelings but with love which is a very different
thing. You have too many "feelings," but not nearly enough love. You don't
love God in your fellow-creatures a bit. You ought to be able to
love Him in Miss J. . . ., but you do not, because Miss J. . . .disagrees
with your feelings.

Oh, do turn to, and do and be things for and to your fellow
creatures for a bit. Devote yourself to that. Don't be afraid of
"surface interests." Christ will be with you in those sorts of
surface interests if they are whole-heartedly undertaken for His sake, and
not for your own soul's sake.

These are the sort of things of a disciplinary kind which I think
you ought to do. You have lost the knack of drawing strength from
God: and vain strivings after communion of the solitude a deux sort will
do nothing for you at this point. Seek .contact with Him now in the
goodness and splendour which is in other people, in all people, for
those who have the art to find it.

But censoriousness and exclusiveness are absolute bars to making
discoveries of that kind and you will not be happy till they are
eliminated from your character. . . .

If this letter is very odious please forgive it. I am horridly tired
and may not have put things properly. I always feel it is fearful
presumption to scold you "being myself a full great wretch," as
Rolle says!

 Sunday afternoon [1909].

 This place is rather nice, and we hear the country walks all round
are simply magnificent if the weather was fit for 'em. There's very good
5 fr. a day accommodation in the next village. I think the
whole district would be very agreeable for our summer holiday one
year if we were careful to avoid the more touristy places. The river is
big and lovely, with great cliffs each side of it, and there are forests
quite close all round. The railway travelling is v. cheap
indeed, and so are most things in the shops. In the summer a steamer
goes up and down between here and Namur. The towns seem rather full
of neat villas and summer residences but the villages must be heavenly
I think. Namur I didn't care for: but I got some nice old books. A
little 17th century copy of St. Thomas Aquinas for 1 franc and a complete
4-volume breviary in leather, which I'd long hankered for, for seven
and a half francs! The old man said, "I think I ought to warn you,
Mademoiselle, that this book is written in the Latin language." I
was extremely pleased with the Cure in church this morning (I
inadvertently came in for the sermon). He was a very robust person,
who spoke like a commanding officer in the presence of very tiresome
recruits. Having announced that certain services would take place
this week, he suddenly added in a loud voice, "And I hope there will
be more people at them than there were last week!" Everyone jumped,
and he shook his head solemnly and said, "Far too few! far too few!"
adding, "If you won't put yourselves out for the Blessed Virgin, you
know, she won't put herself out for you."

50 C.H.S.
 June 25, 1909.

To M.R.
 Thank you so much for the MS. which arrived safely this morning:
and also for putting in my missing references so kindly! You
encourage me to leave 'em all out! I shall have another chapter (on Visions
and Voices--it has been a horror to do) ready for you in a  few days I
think, though the deluge of summer parties rather interrupts work.

I think the De Arrha Anima experience is an intensive form of
something which happens--or rather may happen--to almost anyone. I had one
or two rather sharp pokings up of that kind during my blackest years
--and do so still. If Grace were not more interested in us than we
are in Grace, most of us would live and die in hell. It is so much
stronger than we are that it will break in, in spite of our
automatic resistance: and we are so immeasurably below it that we
cannot attain to it or keep it by any voluntary activity merely
because we want to.

I certainly would like very much to speak to Miss X. on the 29th: if
I am not stricken with hopeless shyness when the moment arrives! But
I cannot try to "evangelize" her unless she shows some slight desire
for it, can I? You will just have to pray for her hard (excellent
opportunity for practising the difficult art of intercession) and if
she should cease to be "bored and incredulous" I promise faithfully
to respond!

So glad you are feeling happy and practical and "expansive." Would
you like to read Eleanor Gregory's Horae Mysticae when you have finished
the Book of Heavenly Wisdom! It has lots of nice things in it,
though many of her "mystics" are not mystics at all--as I often tell her to
her great disgust!

Feast of the Visitation, 1909.

 I have been meaning all the week to write and tell you all about
the Bedford College party--but this week I have been to five parties
and given two myself--and so there has not been a large margin of

You have probably heard by now that the B.C. one was on the most
afternoon of the week--and everyone was jammed into the house, which
was soon turned into a tin of nicely dressed sardines. When I
arrived I could not find a soul I knew, so enlisted a large bevy of
students to hunt (a) for Miss X ... and (b) for my own hostess! Miss
X ... was discovered after a search which lasted close on an hour
and just when I was thinking I must go on to my next party. She was
very kind to me indeed; but there was a look in the tail of her eye
as much as to say "keep off the grass." Has she any suspicion do you
think that you effected the introduction for missionary reasons? She
said she knew you and I became acquainted by correspondence, and
that it seemed a good idea. Please, what do you want me to do next?
I do not quite see that I can do anything unless she makes the first
advance. We only talked for quite a short time and then my
hostess found me and carried me off. The conversation rambled
harmlessly round you, Vezelay and Bedford College. Would she come to
tea with me if you told her to, do you think? I should be very
pleased indeed if she would. I leave to you the task of inventing plausible
excuses wholly unconnected with her soul.

I am glad the Vision chapter strikes you as "imposing." Really it is
rather a fraud, being easier to get up than the more elusive parts
of the subject. The only difficulties were in arranging it neatly
and speaking what one believed to be the truth without hurting the
feelings of the pious.

I am getting rather nervous about the accuracy of my French edition
of Suso: I see Rufus Jones quotes a passage (I suppose direct from the
German) which does not tally a bit with my rendering! Later on
if I sent you the German and my MS. with the Suso passages marked, I
wonder whether you would be a saint and an angel and compare them
for me? I know quite well that asking in this calm way is impudence
of the worst kind, but you know you encourage me!

You shall have Hilton soon: he is in use for the moment but will
then be at liberty for a spell. I rather expect you will like him
very much--though he is not such a poet as Julian. Do you know that some
people believe him to be the author of the Imitation of Christ!

Thank you very much indeed for the information about the Cambridge
Press. I have not written yet, as the friend who helps me with
mediaeval things knows a delegate or something and is going to
consult him on my behalf first. It is not for this book, but for another
thing. I've got a horrible lot of irons in the fire just now and do not
know which to turn to first.

. . . Good night. I am nearly asleep so must leave off writing. I
don't think I very much approve of your setting yourself penances
for long past sins! Live hard, with both hands, and love as much as
you can, and don't faddle with your experience!

Yacht Wulfruna, Fowey.
 August 28, 1909.

 We have been as far west as Helford and now are on our way back to
Plymouth: as Hubert and I leave for Luxembourg on Tuesday. We shall
be at Diekirch from the 3rd to 6th September I think and then probably
go to Vianden if we can get in there, then Houffalize, St. Hubert,
Houget and back by Namur and Antwerp. But our plans are  quite vague and
really depend on how we like the district when we get there. . . .
Send me a p.c. to Diekirch if you can, to say how you are getting

Cornwall has been behaving quite at its most beautiful, with lots of
sunshine and only 2 or 3 soft drizzling days. The harvest fields all
along the tops of the cliffs have been miracles of beauty. Don't you
love harvest fields? They make me feel sort of wild whenever I see

We are lazing along now, with all our sails set, in a very very
light breeze, past a beautiful bit of coast, all strange scraggy
cliffs and white beaches. There is an old church on the top of the down we
are just passing. This part of the country is full of XVth century
churches, round-arched with carved timber roofs and often with fine
old carved bench-ends. The cream of them, Lanteglos, is close to Fowey
and by some miracle has fallen into the hands of a vicar with a
taste for accuracy who has given it the correct small flat altars
and other furniture according to Sarum use. It looks charming
though a bit artificial. It has one of the nicest epitaphs I have
seen for some time, on a 17th century Cornish merchant:

Loe here a merchant
 Who both lost and gott
 By sea and land
 Such was his various lott
 But never lost hee less
 Nor gott hee more
 Than when hee left earth and sea
 For heaven's shore.

Don't you think that is rather sweet?

I enclose a bit of MS. for you to deal with at your leisure. Please
make one carbon copy and begin each "station" on a separate page.
There is no hurry. I will send you more as or when I do it and you can
send me the whole thing together when finished. I have not done nearly so
much as I intended of it whilst I have been here and shall probably
do less in the Ardennes!

As it is a specially private document would you please take
particular precautions to avoid any human eye falling on it whilst
it is in your charge? And forget its existence afterwards, as
quickly as you can? I do not know yet whether I shall print it or
just keep it to administer privately; but if it is published, it
will not be in my own name--so consider yourself sworn to secrecy
by many deadly oaths. But I shall be very grateful for criticisms
however violent. I am afraid it is scrappy and sentimental and full
of vain repetitions: altogether quite different from what I intended it
to be. Good-bye.

Thursday night [1909].

 Do not worry because you and Miss G . . . take different views of
spiritual exercises. These things all become shams the minute they
are allowed to be expressions of other people's opinions instead of
your own personality. For this reason I am not going to tell you how
often I think you ought to receive Holy communion. But--if you feel
a month is a long stretch, why wait a month? There is certainly no
virtue in so doing. And there is a virtue in the frequency with
which acts of pure love are renewed. The point in frequent communion
is exactly the same as in frequent prayer or frequent attendance at
Mass--and if you began to space those out at rare intervals, you
would soon find yourself going backward. But have the thing out with
yourself and find out what your own needs and dispositions are and
do not let yourself be swayed by spiritual gossip--one of the most
corrupting vices open to religious people!

Your other troubles you share with everybody who has any inner life
at all--bar the Saints--at least, with all I have ever known, e.g.
the constant and steady self-seeking although we know we are fools
to do it, and the strange conviction that we are "losing the spirit
of prayer" and slithering backwards in spite of our desire to run
hard uphill! If by losing the spirit of prayer you mean losing
the heavenly sensations of deep devotion I am afraid that does not
matter a scrap. The more you are kept on the strain and the harder
it is, the better. But these are the "harsh and repulsive doctrines"
which you do not like! I think it is a very good plan to keep a
diary of faults as a practical check, so long as you do not brood
over the result. I believe almost the only way in practice to
check self-seeking is to deliberately force yourself to do actual
and concrete things in the opposite direction, however little
emotional fervour you can put into them. On the religious side,
intercession is excellent in this respect: one is always tempted to
put in all the time in personal communications of deep interest and
importance to oneself! And to make whole-heartedly a spiritual
communion in the interests of another person is a really unselfsh as
well as a difficult act!

I think you are really getting on all right: but you must be
prepared for a steady dying down of glamour and a throwing of you
more and more on the normal resources of life. If your prayers
really do the day's work for you--what more do you want? Not just
deriving pleasure surely? Read the 2nd book of the Imitatio.
It will do you a world of good!

I cannot write any more. Jacob has just jumped on my knee and is
rubbing violently!

Wednesday [1909].

 Here is a little scrappit of a chapter: the next is still under
revision. I think although this is so short, it goes best by itself
as an Introduction to the Second Part. I hope you are keeping an
account against me: you must, are to, and shall. Then, when it has
come to a reasonable sum I can pay it by cheque.

I am afraid I do not think the sense of "having no objective" is a
bit bad for you. Remember, lots of people go through their whole
lives without having, at all, the consolations which you have been
calmly regarding as normal. And no one--not even the Saints--go
through their lives without having the experience you are having

"There be many Christians most like unto young sailors, who think
the shore and the whole land doth move, when the ship and they
themselves are moved; just so not a few do imagine that God moveth
and saileth and changeth places, because their giddy souls are under
sail and subject to alteration, ebb and flow."

How do you like that? Here is another from the same.

"Hiding of His Face is wise love; His love is not fond, doting and
reasonless . . . nay, His bairns must often have the frosty cold
side of the hill, and set down both their bare feet amongst the
thorns: His love hath eyes, and in the meantime is looking on. Our
pride must have winter weather." Good-bye.

Oct. 1, 1909.

 Thank you ever so much for troubling to get The Gospel of Play for
me to see. ... It is perfectly splendid I think: and so is The
Gospel and Human Needs which I have just got and am reading. I love
his insistence on the romantic note, don't you? And think of it
coming from a person who was described to me by one of his intimate
friends as being, before his conversion, "a typical College Don,
with no soul above savouries."

I send another bit of MS., though with diffidence, as you seem to
find it so depressing! Yes! I do think all kinds of pain and
struggle and all un-easy things done with effort, are or can be what
I mean by the Way of the Cross. All people who live honestly,
intensely and sincerely are treading it in spite of themselves: but
it is better to know what one is about. I suppose taken alone it
does seem rather an austere view of the universe: but I am sick of
the feather-bed and dry champagne type of religion, aren't you? That
is not "having life more abundantly" anyhow. And surely when it is
patent that we are all being kept on the drive (unless we
deliberately stagnate) and the whole world and all in it is kept on
the drive, and that we are forced to spend our lives and use our
energies in humiliating ugly sorts of ways, it is a source of
exaltation not of melancholy to know that in this too we are
accompanying the Spirit of Christ.

You write as if you were a bit low-spirited somehow. I hope you are
not really. And don't look on reading the Column of Dust as a solemn
and saddening ceremonial! It has not been written in that spirit, I
assure you--nor am I the pious and pain-enduring invalid you seem to
suppose. Do get these ideas out of your head! NO, everybody does not
"find my works painful!" Some find them dull and some eccentric--and
others read their own prepossessions into them!! They don't tear
themselves into ribbons over them anyhow--and neither do I. I just
write what comes into my head and leave the result to luck.

Luxembourg went on being nice to the very end. We went to Echternach
and saw St. Willibrod's very gilded and objectionable shrine, and to
Vianden, and for lots of splendid walks in the hills. Then we had 5
days at Houffalize and 5 more at St. Hubert (and I saw a stag in the
forest, quite a sudden miraculous-looking one) and then stayed at
Louvain on our way back. The Early Flemish pictures in the Cathedral
are splendid and there is a most beautiful Gothic tabernacle for
the Blessed Sacrament which stands on the north of the sanctuary, a
little building all of itself, with a tall fretted spire. The
woodcarving in some of the churches is wonderful even for Belgium,
and altogether it is a distinctly fascinating old town.

The nicest scenery--at least the wildest--was at St. Hubert--miles
of forest and moorland of unimaginable variety of shape.

Quite a large pilgrimage arrived whilst we were there, and came up
the hill to the Abbey in procession, reciting the Rosary. I went in
to the pilgrim Mass, but the atmosphere they created was too much
for my enthusiasm and I ignominiously crept out at the Gospel! They
say sometimes immense pilgrimages come there from Germany, on foot
all the way.

The parish priest showed me St. Hubert's stole, which is supposed to
have been brought to him from heaven by an angel. He rather spoilt
the effect by saying, "It is a fine example of 6th century Byzantine
weaving"--and it was.

I am extremely well and strong now. So there!

Dec. 1, 1909.

 ... I am glad Ecstasy is not entirely illegible. I have done it
very badly I think: it was altogether too much for me--just piecing
things together and guessing in the dark. But I have been working
very poorly lately and now can hardly work at all, which is dreadful
waste of time when one is shut up in the house. The book gets more
and more difficult. I am past all the stages at which scraps of
experience could guide one, and can only rely on sympathetic
imagination, which is not always safe. Now I am doing the Dark Night
of the Soul for which the chief authorities seem to be that gushing
Madame Guyon who spent seven years in it, and Suso whose taste for
consolations and annoyance when they were withdrawn will be rather
congenial to you!!! Isn't that horrid of me? But prisoners do get

I did not mean, though, to be malicious in my suggestions about
spiritual gossip. I am sure Miss G---'s influence must be good--so
far as she is a saint: but the more of a saint she is, the more
individual her life will be, and the less you will have to gain by
comparing her practices with your own. And the more one talks over
one's inward experience and compares it with that of others, the
more one cheapens it. It is the most sacred and delicate of
possessions and will not bear treatment of that kind. This is what I
meant: and not a bit that it was a bad thing to talk of religion in
a general way. But it is a bad thing to listen to descriptions of
what another person feels, and a worse thing to begin judging your
feelings by their standard. Each spiritual life is unique and its
personal quality should be above all things respected. Of course if
one is interested in religion there is nothing so interesting as
talking of it with a sympathetic person: but it is a taste which
should not be allowed to get out of hand.

I had tea and Benediction with your "other rival" as you call him,
the other day. I do not direct him now: but we are firm friends and
discuss things in a detached manner! Christianity is steadily
transforming him and teaching him the meaning of life. It seems a
really satisfactory conversion so far: particularly when one
remembers how different he was before his rebirth.

Have you read Christianity at the Cross Roads yet? And what do you
think of it? Wasn't Punch's review of the Column (of Dust) beastly?
Quite the nastiest I have had. There have been about 40 now,
representing all possible shades of opinion.

St. Thomas, 1909.

 Scola Cordis* is the most absolutely charming thing I have seen for
months: I have been playing with it half the morning and am longing
to get to it again. Thank you so much: it seems to me a marvellous
act of sacrifice to tear yourself away from it. I do not know what
part I like best, the Emblems or the Odes. It is utterly
fascinating. I had no idea Quarles was so uniformly fine. Eleanor
Gregory put me on to the "vast triangled heart" and I supposed that
was far above his general level but it does not seem to be. Didn't
you like the one about the Crown of Thorns? I thought that
beautiful. It will go away with me to Eastbourne next week to soothe
the terrors of the English Seaside Resort and its disgustingly
civilized trimmings!!

* Scola Cordis, or the Heart of itself gone away from God, brought
back again to Him, and instructed by Him, in XLVIII Emblems. By
Christopher Harvey, 1647. Often wrongly attributed to Francis

I hope you will like St. Francis de Sales. I had never read this one
till a little while ago: when it pleased me well, so I hope it may
suit you too. It is more advanced than the Devout Life and less
sugary I think!

Have you read Miss Lowndes' Nuns of Port Royal? It is so
interesting. ... I think 17th century religion is extraordinarily
interesting if one can get inside it. Port Royal, St. Vincent de
Paul, St. Francis de Sales, St. Jeanne Francoise de Chantal, and the
Quietists for contrast, make a fine group. Do you know Bougeaud's
lives of Vincent de Paul and Jeanne Francoise? Rather fascinating
though a little sanctimonious in places.

Hotel Bethell, Rome.
Wednesday night. [London postmark, 10 March, 1910.]

 . . . We have had a splendid day in spite of a sharp hailstorm
middle day; and have seen St. Peter's, and a wee bit of the Vatican,
and two other churches. My private opinion about St. Peter's is that
it is frankly hideous and not a bit more religious than St. Paul's
Cathedral. It is perfectly impossible to realize that St. Peter is
really buried under that dreadful conglomeration of fancy marbles.
The Vatican felt much more like the real thing, when one was
challenged on entering by a Swiss guard with a halberd. It's all
extraordinarily light and airy, pale yellow and white-wash
everywhere: in fact, all Rome seems mostly pale yellow. We went
hunting for my Mr. Bannister, who wasn't there to-day, but I am
to see him Friday: and incidentally we saw all the people arriving
for an audience with the Pope. I don't know whether I shall get one,
as it appears a personal introduction is required. Do you think your
Sir Rennell Rodd would be any good for that?

The Vatican is built all uphill in the strangest way. You go in, and
up a great state staircase, and then out through a gallery into a
great courtyard, and cross that, and then up another staircase into
the next wing. All the gallery I went down to the library was lined
with early Christian inscriptions from the catacombs on one side,
and Pagan ones on the other.

This afternoon we went to St. Maria Maggiore, such a splendid
basilica, long and straight, with antique marble columns from some
temple, and 4th century mosaics over them; and in the apse beautiful
12th century ones. It was really impressive and beautiful. After
that we went to St. Pudenziana, at the foot of the Esquiline, and
sunk right below the road to the level of old Rome. It is on the
site of the house of Pudens where St. Peter stayed, and to whom Paul
sent his love at the end of the Epistle to Timothy, and the old
mosaic pavement of the house, which he may have trod on, forms the
floor of one part still. It's quite a little church and rather
mangy, but over the altar is one of the loveliest mosaics I have
ever seen, done in 350, and pure classical. Not stiff and
Byzantine a bit. Altogether it was a most thrilling place, and it
seemed so odd to see it tucked away like that almost under a lively
modern street.

All the different patterned monks and seminarists who swarm in the
streets are a joy to behold, especially the Greek students who wear
the most beautiful blue clothes with orange sashes.

I'm so sleepy I must leave off. Good night, darling. All my love.

Hotel Bethell, Rome.
 Friday afternoon [March, 1910].

 I'm getting quite blase about 7th and 8th century things; they seem
quite modern here. To-day I've been down into the excavations
underneath the church of St. Cecilia: and there are her 3rd century
house, and two others, all the rooms and some of the mosaic
pavements still intact, and even the little household shrine of the
family before they became Christians, still there, with the figure
of Minerva on it. Most of the churches have been dreadfully spoilt
with awful 17th and 18th century decorations and additions; and you
see appalling stucco and gilt ornaments side by side with the
antique mosaics. I went into one, however, to-day which is a perfect
little beauty: an early Christian basilica in full working order,
with the raised "schola cantorum" in the middle, with its marble
screens round it, and the two little pulpits and great marble and
mosaic Easter candlestick, and the altar standing right out in the
church under a canopy, and the presbyter's throne behind it in the
extreme east of the apse. And the whole floor is of marble mosaic,
purple, white and green. It's a little jewel, in a deserted square
on the banks of the Tiber, and close to it two little temples, a
round one and a square one, which have been turned into Christian

Robert Hugh [Benson] has sent me via Jack [Herbert] an introduction
to the English church here, through whom I may get my audience with
the Pope. Very magnanimous of him considering how little credit he
has got out of me! It's very difficult to get an audience it seems
and personal introduction by a Catholic is essential. They are
rather weary at the Vatican of being made a sideshow for inquisitive
Protestants, and I don't wonder at it! When one is here and has felt
the atmosphere of the place one ceases to feel surprised at the fuss
about the temporal power, and the Pope submitting to imprisonment in
the Vatican rather than give it up. When you go about everywhere and
see how completely Christian Rome is the Pope's city and how every
great building and fountain is inscribed with the Pontifex Maximus
who did it, you do feel it is absolutely a thing in itself, and they
are the true heirs of the Pontifex Maximus who used to light the
fire of Vesta every year; and that it is a mere farce to pretend
that the place is simply the capital of modern Italy. All the modern
part is so odiously shoddy too, so put on from outside. My love to
the Felis Florophagus--how has his appetite been lately?

Hotel Bethell, Rome.
 Friday afternoon [1910].

 All yesterday morning we spent in the Forum as my card said. It
really is fascinating, and most picturesque, as the Palatine Hill,
with ilexes, edges one side of it, and old buildings and temples
turned into churches the other, and you look right down it and the
Arch of Titus and the Colosseum. The most fascinating part is the
wee little round Temple of Vesta, just big enough for the sacred
fire and the Vestal who was attending to it, and the house and
garden where the Vestal Virgins lived. There were only 6 of them but
their premises seem to have taken up half the forum. They had a big
sort of cloister with three cisterns for rain water because they
were not allowed to touch water out of any aqueduct; and all round
it were statues of celebrated Vestals. The pedestals are there still
and a few statues, rather smashed up. There are also the places
where Virginia was killed, and where Julius Caesar was cremated and
his temple put up. What is most fascinating is, that right under the
hill a complete 7th century Christian church which had been made out
of the inside of the library of Augustus Caesar has been dug out,
all complete with its frescoes on its walls. No one seems to quite
know how many centuries it has been buried, but there it is all
intact except the roof; a temporary one has been put on, just to
keep the weather off. There is one of the very early frescoes of the
Crucifixion with Christ in a long blue robe, and a wonderful set of
the early Popes all round the wall.

Hotel Bethell, Rome.
 Feast of St. Joseph, 19 March, 1910.

 My dear Friend, indeed, far from "minding" I am deeply grateful to
you and R.H.B.,* for I don't think I should have got an audience
without you! As it is, I went down to St. Silvestro this morning and
Robert Hugh's name acted like a charm; and this evening I am to
present my letter of introduction at the Vatican. I have written to
thank Robert Hugh this afternoon.

* Robert Hugh Benson.

We have not seen any great ceremonies yet of course; I am going to
see the palms blessed at the Lateran to-morrow, and the enthronement
of the Grand Penitentiary in the afternoon. The shrines of the
saints, I grieve to say, are highly unimpressive. That of St.
Cecilia has been "adorned" by Cardinal Rampolla with Neo-Byzantine
mosaics, mostly gold, white and pale blue, till it looks like a very
cheap Christmas card--all the more distressing as it is actually in
her 3rd century house, the rooms of which form the crypt. St.
Peter's is even more hopelessly un-Petrine. He is about the last
person one can think of in connection with that horrid monstrosity.

On Monday morning I am going round the Vatican Library with Mr.
Bannister and am looking forward to it immensely. We have not met
yet but have exchanged several letters. There is some very early
Christian glass in the library museum which he is going to show me.
Next week will be one violent effort to fit in as many ceremonies,
exhibitions of relics, etc., as one can. I am torn between the
attractions of the Latin, Byzantine and Armenian rites! I went to a
Byzantine Mass this morning, and it was a most wonderful sight. One
felt centuries away when one saw the deacon with his crossed stole,
with one hand held up, standing before the iconostasis like a 10th
century announcing angel. And there were extraordinary persons in
long gold dalmatics who bowed down and touched the earth each time
they crossed themselves. And it is so wonderful when every now and
then the veil of the iconostasis is suddenly withdrawn, and you see
the priest inside holding up the Host!

The streets are agreeably full of monks and nuns and seminarists but
the "atmosphere" of the modern city is horrid. If I lived here I
should become a violent partisan of the temporal power. It is
horribly sad to see all the squares and fountains inscribed with the
name of the Pontifex Maximus who made or beautified them, and know
that Pius X will never be commemorated like that.

Hotel Bethell, Rome.
 Saturday in Easter Week [1910].

 . . . Now I must tell you about my audience. I went with a weird
old female staying here who was having one the same day and we
arrived at the Vatican pretty early and walked up I don't know how
many hundred stairs. At all the corners there were lovely mediaeval
servants in crimson damask doublets and the Swiss Guard in their
full dress at the entrance of the throne room. The throne room is
immense, all hung with crimson silk, and with a frescoed ceiling,
and at one end the gold throne Venice gave him when he was made
Pope.* There were chairs all round the edge and we sat patiently and
watched the people arrive--such a mixed lot, every country in the
world I should think. There was a Canadian sitting next me and
beyond two Greeks, and a French lady the other side. Presently an
officer of the Noble Guard came in and picked out a few favoured
people who were having private audiences. The room got fearfully
full and we saw there would be no possibility of each person kissing
the Pope's hand. Then some purple ecclesiastics came and made us all
close up into a big semi-circle round the throne. Fortunately we
were near the front or would have seen nothing. Then the Papal Guard
came in and then the Pope in his white things and ascended the
throne so quietly and simply that he was there before one had
noticed him. He has a beautiful voice and gives one an intense
impression of great holiness, kindness and simplicity. He made us a
little speech in Italian saying he thanked everyone for their
kindness in coming to see him, and that he blessed us, our families
and friends, but we must remember that only those who were trying to
live good and Christian lives, etc., were capable of receiving the
blessing. Then he gave the full blessing, very elaborate, to all the
rosaries, etc., which had been brought to receive it: made the sign
of the Cross over us: and went quietly away. There was a rush when
he descended the throne to try and kiss his hand but I was not quite
near enough to manage it. ...

* Pius X.

I went out to St. Lorenzo yesterday morning where SS. Lawrence and
Stephen are buried. Such a beautiful basilica, right away from
everywhere, standing by the side of the road in a clump of cypresses
and a flock of sheep feeding in front of it. The choir is the 6th
century church, and the nave the 13th century church tacked on.
There was hardly anyone there but a nice brown Cistercian
lay-brother who gave me pious cards; and it seemed so peaceful and
far from the world.

Hotel Flora, Rome.
 9 April, 1910.

 . . . Yesterday I had a rather nice solitary prowl on the Coehan
Hill--in fact, very nice. It's a lovely solitary place, beyond the
Colosseum, with nothing but a few old churches and convents and a
farm-housey villa garden or two and steep paved roads with old
archways over them and little views of the mountains here and there.
I went into four old churches--one I'd seen before but not the
others. I think I most enjoyed St. Gregorio; it has been rather
rebuilt and done up, but there are a lot of nice things in it and as
there was a sudden downpour of rain just then I was there some time
and saw it at my ease. Tell Dickums [Richard, her cat] that it is
built on the site of the house in which Gregory the Great retired
from the world in the 6th century, taking with him nothing but his
favourite cat: so I was very pleased to see, in one of the front
chairs in the nave, a very nice black and white cat, sleeping
soundly. The old woman who was bossing about told me it always slept
there, and during Mass was often curled up in the sanctuary. As St.
Gregory was a Benedictine and wore black and the church is now kept
by Camaldolese monks who wear white, the cat was rather suitably
coloured wasn't it? I felt I was stroking quite a reverend piece of
church furniture.

I saw the "miraculous" picture of the Virgin which St. Gregory
thought talked to him when he was meditating before it--it's very
beautiful and alive, and I'm not surprised he thought it!--and the
splendid marble table sitting on the backs of lions, where he used
to have twelve beggars to dinner every day. One day a 13th
came in and insisted on joining the party, and when Gregory looked
at him attentively, he saw that he was an angel! What with that, and
the cat, and Gregorian music, and the "Non angli sed angeli" I think
he was a really nice saint. . ..

Good night, darling. I am all right and resigned without being
mournful, and seeing some nice things, but I do wish you were here.

 April 12, 1910.

To M.R.
 I am so sorry to have left you unanswered all these days but you
see we are still here--and for no very pleasant reason. Mother fell
ill when we had been in Rome quite a few days and is only this week
beginning to go about again, so travelling has been an
impossibility. We leave this day week for Como and shall get back to
England towards the end of the month. Husband, work and garden all
call for my presence, but there has been no help for it! Fortunately
her illness was at no time dangerous though trying: and we had a
most delightful Blue Sister of the English "Little Company of Mary"
to nurse her. Being forcibly exiled from the sick-room in the
mornings, I have rambled about and done a good deal of desultory
sight-seeing and also managed, though with some difficulty, to get
an audience of the Pope! It was enormously impressive, not on
account of any state or ceremony, but entirely by reason of his
personality. I never received such an impression of sanctity from
anyone before. Whatever muddles he may make intellectually or
politically, spiritually he is equal to his position. I do not
think anyone who had been in his atmosphere could doubt it.

I also, quite by chance, saw three monks make their final vows and
receive their cowls at the shrine of St. Paul, which was rather
nice: and have made pilgrimages to almost all the spots connected
with him and St. Peter, and gone up the Scala Santa on my knees (
very painful) and seen more relics than there is time to tell of! I
did not read Livy, but managed to appreciate the spring in the Forum
where Castor and Pollux watered their horses before disappearing
into heaven, all the same! But though the classical things are the
most beautiful--the Forum and Palatine are a dream of loveliness now
the trees are out and the roses and irises in flower--I still like
the Christian things best.

It is marvellous to be in the very centre of the Western tradition
and see it all spread before one from the earliest catacombs right
through the basilica period--and oh! such marvellous mosaics, from
the 4th century to the 15th--and up to the present day! I had rather
a fortunate introduction to a learned Cistercian monk who lives at
--and for--the Catacomb of St. Callistus: and he took me through it,
and showed me the very beginnings of Eucharistic symbolism in the
paintings of the primitive sacrament-chapels. The obvious
deductions, particularly as to the sacrificial character of the
earliest form, and the offering of Mass for the dead, must be
"awkward facts" for Protestant theologians!

You have my deepest sympathy in your uncertainties about that
question of kneeling down under the eyes of one's companions when
visiting churches! The same problem perenially haunts me: and like
you, I usually end in a compromise! I certainly would not in any
company pass an altar of the Blessed Sacrament without kneeling: but
apart from this, I really think there is something to be said in
favour of varying one's practical according to one's company. After
all, the object of kneeling down is to pray--and it is not easy to
do this under the amazed eyes of one's fellow-creatures! I think
there is a legitimate reserve and shyness in religion which is not
cowardice any more than refusing to kiss anyone you love in public
would be cowardice. Also, many people would really be made horribly
uncomfortable and embarrassed if you did kneel down when you went
into a church with them; and I don't know why you should upset them
like that. Personally I detest seeing churches with people! But when
it has to be, of two evils I think it is better to sink one's
individuality and go quietly round rather than make a disconcerting
exhibition of piety. But I fear this solution will not appeal to

 Thursday [1910].

 I do hope you haven't been worried by this tiresome and idiotic
upset of our plans! It really does seem as though bad luck pursued
us all the time doesn't it? And over this particular delay I feel
specially savage because I am certain it's not necessary. However it
will only have made 5 days difference and it's practically certain
that on Saturday you will see me once more! You see when my cold
suddenly got bad (I got a chill hurrying after a cab in the sun I
think) it exhibited itself as violent rheumatism and then went on my
chest. The Sister after a day of this coaxed me to see a lady doctor
she knew, as I cordially disliked the doctor the Missis* had.
Unfortunately I consented and the tiresome creature though a very
agreeable woman has turned out to be one of those terrible
scientific hospital products who treat everything as an illness and
by rule! Having found my bronchial tubes rather stuffy she at once
called it bronchitis and I have now been kept 5 days in bed and
simply starved--nothing to eat but milk and a little soup--all for a
common cold! Can you imagine anything more utterly exasperating?
Even the Missis thinks it absurd but these two women take not the
slightest notice of either of us! Of course I suppose after an
involuntary hunger strike like this I shall feel weak when I do get
up to-morrow--which is annoying just before a-long journey! I can
tell you I feel very much off lady doctors. The poor Missis is
bearing it well though of course she is having a very dull time--no
one to go about with but Sister, and she may never drive in an open
cab! She goes out for little walks and buys post cards but cannot be
prevailed on to go far afield. She ought of course to be taken each
day for a drive outside the walls, and would be if I could go about
with her.

* Her mother.

She came back from her shopping this morning triumphantly bearing 6
postcard reproductions of "the Greek pugilist resting in the ring"
under the full impression that she had bought the Moses of

Savernake Forest Hotel, Nr. Marlborough, Wilts.
 Thursday [May, 1910].

 Your letter has just reached me here. I am so sorry but we do not
come home till Monday: or I would have liked so very much to have
been allowed to be present at Rose's First communion and
Confirmation. It is very kind of you indeed to suggest it.

That fortnight's retreat in the convent does sound rather drastic
for one of her small size: I do hope it won't be too overpowering
for her and is sufficiently tempered with fresh air. Still, as you
say, it must impress her with the supreme importance of religion: I
hope it will impress her with its beauty and lovableness too. But
the priest who received her struck me as belonging to the
"commercial law in the spiritual world" school of piety. I am quite
strong again thank you: am walking 10 to 12 miles a day, and anxious
to get back to the vast amount of work I have got to do if my MS. is
to be delivered according to contract in September. .. .

As to toties quoties in this connection, it means, I was told, that
you as owner can lend the Cross, with its blessings, to the sick and
dying, but must not part with it or the blessing goes. You are real
owner, as I took it to the Vatican with "intention" to have it done
for you.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 Sunday [12 June, 1010].

 I am perfectly ashamed of myself for leaving your various kind
postcards unanswered! My only excuse is that I am working very hard
against time and everything else seems to get "left." However, I am
on my last chapter now, glory be! and only the ghastly processes of
revision and appendix-making will remain. I was very glad to know
about the book on liturgies. I had not heard of it. I shall try
another paper for the Burlington when this book is off my hands and
then it will be very useful. (I think I have got a "find" in
connection with Van Eyck's Adoration of the Lamb; but this is a
great secret!)

I wonder whether you have been to the show at the Antiquaries yet.
We went yesterday and I thought it most fascinating. Hubert did not
send you a card because he thought you would have more than you
wanted. I wonder whether you noticed the lovely little panel of the
Fractio Panis amongst the "additional objects." Not a very usual
subject is it? I have seen it in Flemish art of course: and this
exhibition seems to show pretty clearly the community of feeling
between England and Flanders, don't you think? In St. Erasmus,
for instance. I last saw him, and also the Fractio Panis oddly
enough, in the Cathedral of Louvain.

Edmund Gardner has been giving some glorious lectures on Dante's
mysticism at University College. They were highly stimulating but so
extremely depressing in their goodness for anyone in the same line
of business! A young ladies' school attended regularly, and sat
open-mouthed with a bunny-rabbit expression whilst E.G. discoursed
ecstatically about the ladder of contemplation, and the soul's
ascent to the vision of Truth!!

Feb. 7, 1911.

To M.R.
 If really what you want from the bottom of your heart is as you say
"to do your part in an ordinary decent way," then you can do it;
because this is wholly a matter of the will and has nothing at all
to do with what you feel or do not feel, like or do not like. If you
go on, in the teeth of reluctance and dreariness, with a rule of
life which you know is right and which you have deliberately
accepted: then you are doing what you can and no one asks more of
you than that. But if you "go off on a pagan holiday"--well, that is
deliberate disloyalty and practically a confession that you accepted
Christ for what He could give you, not for what you could give Him.

I do not think you have ever made the Cross the centre of your life
really. I do not quite know what you have made the centre, but it
looks as though it cannot be that. And you have got to, you know.
Nothing else will do. And if you do not accept it deliberately, why
then it will be forced on you in some subtle and ingenious way, as
it is at the present moment. And by struggling and tiring yourself
out, you make it worse and add physical and mental fatigue to your
spiritual troubles. Accept what you are having, quite simply and
obediently. Take it as it comes. Do not "will" or "want" this or
that; however virtuous and edifying your wishes may be. All such
willings presuppose that you know better than the Spirit of God. And
do not get into a despairing condition. These experiences are a
perfectly normal part of the spiritual life: which is not designed
on the lines of a "Pleasant Sunday Afternoon."

As to what you ought to do, it is very difficult to advise anyone
else in this sort of condition. But I feel pretty sure you ought not
to shirk church and your ordinary times of prayer. Only, do not on
any account struggle at all to feel things or get into communion or
anything like that. Surrender yourself altogether and be quite
quiet. The thing is not in your hands at present. You are just to
remain true to your colours. Leave off mental prayer and meditation.
Stick to formal prayer. And it would be well to leave those you
ordinarily use, and take for the time to quite fresh ones. I do not
know how long you spend in prayer but very likely now you will not
be able to spend so long. There is no object in exhausting yourself.
You have been poring over the whole thing too much; instead of
letting it happen, like a spell of bad weather.

I would rather you did some external good works, and thought less
for the present about your soul. (I do not mean by this that I think
grate-cleaning a proper substitute for church.) I wonder whether you
have let your physical health run down and got nervous: because of
course that accounts for a lot, and must not be confused with the

This sounds an odiously unsympathetic letter, and sort of easy and
superior. But it is not meant to be really.

I know quite well what these states are like, and how dreary it is;
and do not behave at all well under them. But I know too that
surrender is the only way out of them. Humility and willing
suffering have got to be learned if we want to be Christians, and
some people learn them by boredom instead of by torture. But once
you really surrender it is extraordinary how the nastiness goes and
you perceive that it was "shade of His Hand outstretched

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 19 March, 1911.

 It was kind of you to make time to write me so nice a letter out of
the midst of all your work--work that seems to me so wonderful and
alive, though I can well believe that it brings that hopeless,
helpless feeling sometimes. Isn't it strange how the people one
really thought to do something with seem to dissolve on one's hands
--and one's nearest approaches to success are those things one did
almost inadvertently? I've noticed it over and over again and come
to accept it as being mysteriously "part of one's job." Often
enough, I suppose, you don't see your best results at all: they are
swamped temporarily and do not really appear till the stress of life
begins to be felt? This must be hard: but when I remember the
atmosphere of my schooldays (when we were confirmed, we were given
a dear little book beginning, "My child, your life hitherto has been
one continuous Sin, and you are now walking on the brink of Hell") I
feel deeply thankful that you exist. Your girls have none of the
usual excuses for youthful agnosticism--though I agree that the
average modern home atmosphere makes it frightfully difficult.

. . . Ruysbroeck is my own favourite of all the mystics--even beyond
Rolle and Julian of Norwich. Traherne is no use to me somehow: too
meditative and not sufficiently contemplative. I want someone with a
higher temperature, at whose fires I may re-enkindle my chilliness.
Do you know Gertrude More? She is quite neglected now, but rather
wonderful I think.

50 Campden Hill Square. W.
 31 March, 1911.

 . . . Please don't ever talk or think of "sitting at my feet (!)"
or any nonsense like that. If you knew the real animal you would be
provoked to either tears or laughter at the absurdity of the idea.
I'm an utter beast in my inside as a matter of fact--and this is not
said for "humility" or something--but because it is unfortunately
true, and I want you to understand it and not have illusions. Little
things I write merely represent what I know I ought to be but
am not. I am not "far on" but at the very bottom. So there!

It is very interesting what you said about the "anaesthetic
revelation." At one time of my life I used to have abrupt fainting
fits, and in those I used to plunge into some wonderful peaceful,
but quite "undifferentiated" plane of consciousness, in which
everything was quite simple and comprehended. I always resented
being restored to what is ordinarily called "consciousness"

Now when I read Blood's descriptions--especially that bit about "my
grey gull lifts her wing against the nightfall" and also the opening
section of Stewart's "Myths of Plato," I recognized at once that
they had had exactly the same experience. Stewart's "solemn sense of
Timeless Being" is rather a good oblique description of it. I've
never seen any chain of cause and effect as you say--but rather felt
happily within a quiet peaceful Reality, like the "still desert" of
the mystics--where there was no multiplicity and no need of
explanations. Personally I doubt whether this is a very high way of
apprehending reality, though no doubt it is a way. Last week a
little girl of about 21, very clever and with some poetic
imagination but not at all highly educated, was here: and becoming
confidential, she told me that it made her restless and miserable to
read Mysticism because I talked in it about "Reality," and she knew
that she had seen and known once what it was and forgotten it since.
That once, under an anaesthetic, she had been "shown" reality, and
that she "came to" with a voice ringing in her ears, saying, "Don't
forget what you have seen--try to remember--we are afraid you will
forget." She did try, but it all slipped away from her except the
voice and the knowledge that she had seen.

. . . It's very kind of you to like The Path of the Eternal Wisdom.
It was really my own little attempts to "make something" of that
particular devotion--which I used to find indigestible--and then a
great friend suggested it might be worth while perhaps to print it.

April 12, 1911.

To M.R.
 As far as I know--but I do not know much and apparently rather less
every day!--what you now see about the Cross does seem to me right.
It is the active and heroic and glad taking on of the painful and
arduous, for the sake of love, and because | it is the best on the
whole of the poor little things we can offer.

And of course it does need "ascetic" training of some sort: and such
training, if wisely chosen, is good, for all sorts of other and less
exalted reasons. Soft comfiness is the soul's worst enemy, and those
who have let it become necessary to them will probably find heaven
uncommonly like hell! The question is, how and where in a normal,
active life, to fit in the said discipline and I agree with you, it
is very difficult!

The one great rule must be, you must not do anything which lowers
your all-round efficiency for life--if the absent hot-water bottle
means always bad nights and slackness next day, it is not a good
thing to choose. Ditto about food.

Personally--in case the idea is of use to you--I have taken to
knocking off all aesthetic pleasure in Lent; all poetry, fiction,
theatres, music. This I find, at any rate at first, a real deprivation,
and absolutely harmless! Also, doing rather dreary social duties one
is inclined to shirk and giving up attractive ones. . . . All this
sounds very little and is, alas: but it makes a sort of beginning,
and there are constant choices turning up in daily life, when one can
try to choose the harder side pour le bon motif. We all want bracing,
as you say, nowadays: and certainly the fact that the idea of going
without some external comfort worries one is a danger signal that should
not be neglected. Only, always keep your eye fixed on the object in view
and never let yourself think the self-denials you manage to perform
important in themselves. The wildest austerities of the most ecstatic
saints are hardly visible against "the glory that shall be revealed."

Hotel de Lille et d'Albion, 223 Rue St. Honore, Paris.
 Thursday evening [1911].

 A most mysterious thing happened here. A Dr. Colquhoun, of New
Zealand, staying in this hotel, sent in his card to me, with my name
written on it, saying he would like to see me! I looked out for him but
we didn't meet and this morning he left for me a friendly letter,
saying he was so sorry not to have caught me, but was leaving to-day,
gives me his London address and says he hopes we shall soon meet
on my return to England and I haven't the least idea who he is!! The
Horticultural plants sound quite a decent lot on the whole: I asked
for the Prims and Campanulas I knew, and think you were quite right to pot
'em up, the weather being so uncertain. It's really quite cool here out of
the sun today. It's rather nice that Methuen thinks it worth while to print
a 2nd ed. of Mysticism, isn't it? I've written begging him to wait till
I get home and send my corrections. Did you read the letter from Edmund*
you sent on to me? Very amusing! To-night a review by in The Record has
come--most generous in its language, "great book," "classic work," etc.:
but with a beautiful characteristic little dab at my mystical saints
whose "transcendental eroticism" he finds "nauseating." There's also a
long and splendid review signed "C. E. Lawrence" from the Daily Graphic--so
I'm purring!

* Edmund Gardner.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8
 14 May, 1911.

 . . . I wonder whether you and I ought to talk about religion, any
more than you and your Roman friends. It will be horrid if we can't because
I know we are at one about the inside, though clearly about the outside we
differ a good deal. Anyhow I am not going to argue--that is so dreadful,
and spoils everything. But the honestest way is to be a bit autobiographical
and explain, and then you can choose if you care to go on with me--so
if the rest of this letter becomes a series of egoistical confidences you
must forgive it.

You see, I wasn't brought up to religion really--except just in the
formal way of course. So when the "youthful crash" arrived it caught
me fair and square, and for 8 or 9 years I really believed myself to be an
atheist. Philosophy brought me round to an intelligent and irresponsible
sort of theism which I enjoyed thoroughly but which did not last long.
Gradually the net closed in on me and I was driven nearer and nearer to
Christianity--half of me wishing it were true and half resisting violently
all the time. In those days I used to frequent both English and Roman
churches and wish I knew what their secret was. Finally I went
to stay for a few days at a Convent of Perpetual Adoration. The day
after I came away, a good deal shaken but unconvinced, I was "converted"
quite suddenly once and for all by an overpowering vision which had really
no specific Christian elements, but yet convinced me that the Catholic
Religion was true. It was so tightly bound up with (Roman) Catholicism,
that I had no doubt, and have had none since (this happened between 4 and
5 years ago only), that that Church was my ultimate home. So strong
is this conviction that to have any personal dealings with Anglicanism seems
for me a kind of treachery. Unfortunately I allowed myself to be persuaded
to wait a year before being received; and meanwhile the Modernist storm
broke, with the result that now, being myself "Modernist" on many points,
I can't get in without suppressions and evasions to which I can't quite
bring myself. But I can't accept Anglicanism instead: it seems an
integrally different thing. So here I am, going to Mass and so on of
course, but entirely deprived of sacraments.

I no more like the tone and temper of contemporary Romanism than you
do: it is really horrible; but with all her muddles, she has kept
her mysteries intact. There I can touch--see--feel Reality: and--speaking
for myself only--nowhere else. Alas, you won't approve of all this, and
I don'teither--it is all wrong, but at present I don't know what else to
do. The narrow exclusiveness of Rome is dreadful--I could never believe it,
for I feel in sympathy with every Christian of every sort--except when
they start hating one another. But to join any other communion is simply
an impossible thought.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 15 May, 1911.

 . . . Oh, that dreadful limiting of salvation! How can anyone who
does it dare to take Our Lord's name on their lips again. As if His
presence had not been with thousands who knew not who it was they
entertained. You are right--we are all too narrow for God--and yet,
to steer a clean course between bigotry and indifferentism is none
too easy sometimes--for me, anyhow. But I cling to St. Paul--and
seem to find his inmost teaching over and over again in all one's
experience, and in everyone who cares for Christ--Catholic or
Protestant or whatsoever he may be. Is it not amazing when one can
stand back from one's life and look back down it--or still more,
peep into others' lives--and see the action of the Spirit of God: so
gentle, ceaseless, inexorable, pressing you bit by bit whether you
like it or not towards your home? I feel this more and more as the
dominating thing--it seems so odd that everyone does not feel and
notice it happening, don't you think?

July 25, 1911.

To M.R.
 I am sending you Les Graces d'Oraison [Auguste Poulain] to read
because I think its description of states of prayer and recollection
and its general advice is so sane and practical--and in it if
anywhere, you will be able to locate yourself. Of course I mean by
this in the earlier chapters. When he gets on to visions and such
like, he gets rather absurd!! . . .

As to making an act of recollection, I can only tell you what I do
myself. I think I generally (1) make a definite act of the will to
attend to it, (2) some short verbal prayer holding on tight to each
word, (3) go on direct from that, or sometimes without finishing it
to a sort of staring at God. Of course very often it does not come
off at all; and when it does (3) may vary from a mere deliberate act
of meditation to real passivity which is entirely outside our own
control and should never be deliberately struggled for. If I were
you, I should try to do this for 10 or 15 minutes every morning at
first, not for longer whilst it is an effort. What is really best
for you I believe when you are like this, is just to say, you will
put aside that (or any other given point of time) for attending
exclusively to God--and then spend it as seems natural when it
comes, not in striving for states that do not come of themselves,
but just being content to give yourself up to Him and "be as you

You will see that Poulain regards such fluctuations and loss of
perception as you have had as absolutely normal and indeed to be

If you want a more formal, but very simple and sensible account of
how to meditate, there is an extraordinarily good one in No. 26 of
Mowbray's Manuals for the Million (id. I think), A Plain Guide to
Meditation, by Rev. G. Longridge.

I am afraid all this is not much use! You see I think it is very
likely that the point for you now is not to be going on to the next
thing, but to accept loyally the place where you are now and stick
to it, putting up with the dimness and aridity and holding on to the
knowledge of what you have had in the past.

Yacht Nepenthe, Poole, Dorset.
 Feast of the Assumption, 1911.

 . . . No, I hadn't spotted the fact that you are a craftswoman--and
you, apparently, had not spotted that I am one too! In the days when
I was still too timid and reverential to dare handle the
English language I used to be an almost professional bookbinder and
even once had a pupil who used to put me into agonies of impatience
by her finicky amateurish ways! I can do weaving and have a
lace-maker's cushion on board here: and my husband does really nice
jewellery and enamels on the rare occasions when he has any daylight
time. So you see I can sympathize with that side of you all right
though I don't actually do those things now so much as I used.
Gardening takes up most of my play hours in London, and I do a
little Health Society and Poor Law visiting, and seem to go out to
tea a terrible lot and have lunch with my mother every day. So
existence is fairly full--even though it be of nothing in particular!

I'm so glad your long fast was a success! When I heard how
clear-headed and undistracted it made you I felt quite inclined to
try one myself, feeling just the opposite at present! Only not
having any surplus tissue to feed on I didn't quite know what would
happen. . . .

You and I have rather got that Seeker to ourselves, haven't we? I
thought your article splendid and only hope it will go to the hearts
and brains of all its readers. What a good thing it has got in ahead
of ---'s contribution on the subject! I think you make religion very
"amiable"--but I suppose the Cross is for the mature, not for babes.
My Ruysbroeck is as flat as a pancake and almost an insult to that
transcendent genius. But it was written "to order" when I was at
my dullest and dreariest. The second instalment is even worse!

Newbiggin Hall, Westmorland.
 16 Sept., 1911.

 Thank you so very much for your letter and for the gift of the
Book, which I am much looking forward to seeing when I get home. I
am delighted to hear that G.F. thinks so well of it and only hope
that is the beginning of a long series of just appreciations.

I did read R.H.B.'s book,* with pain and disgust. I wondered what
you were thinking of it; it seems to me the most dangerous attack on
Catholicism which has appeared for some time. Its mixture of
childishness, intolerance and unspirituality is heartrending and one
cannot help having a feeling that its author knew that it would give
pleasure in certain high places, and efface the "disagreeable
impression" made by the Lord of the World.

* The Dawn Of All

As for me, I intend to try and be definite and outspoken, so far as
the indefinable can be defined! but whether the result will be
acceptable to you is another and very different question.

I forget whether I told you that I have become the friend (or
rather, disciple and adorer) of Von Hugel. He is the most wonderful
personality I have ever known--so saintly, so truthful, sane and
tolerant. I feel very safe and happy sitting in his shadow, and he
has been most awfully kind to me.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 30 September, 1911.

 We got home late last night, and I got Illuminated MSS. and am very
delighted with it so far as a brief turn over entitles me to express
an opinion. Thank you so very much for it. You ought to be very
pleased with the production of such a fine and authoritative piece
of work--and the illustrations are splendid: a marvellous
improvement on the proofs! I doubt whether I shall be able to come
to the show on the 7th. I am going to Bristol on Tuesday for a few
days and may not be back.

I have got the Rev. Dr. Harford's Lady Julian, amongst other things,
for "special review." It is a most interesting text, but I consider
his idea of editing truly beastly. "Reaction and Nightmare" is
hardly a felicitous title for her chapter about the vision of the
fiend, to my thinking! Nor is "littleness of the Kosmos" a likely
phrase on the lips of a 14th century mystic. He seems rather a queer
creature. The day after I had been asked to review the book, I had a
letter from him saying he heard I was going to do it, and enclosing
typewritten notes of points to which he wished me to draw attention,
and things he had left out and would like said! They went back by
return of post and I have heard no more!

All good wishes for luck with the reviewers of Illuminated MSS. Only
a few of course will be worth bothering about.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 16 November, 1911.

 I wonder what you'll think of The Everlasting Mercy. I have never
read Farrar (wondeful wide acquaintance with Protestant literature
you seem to have!) but cannot imagine they had anything in common.
I think the last twelve pages the most wonderfully exact and yet
highly poetic description of that sort of vision that has ever been
written. Every time I read it, it makes me live the "first fine
careless rapture" over again.

I've had such a perfectly charming letter from the Abbot of
Downside, whom I have never seen, but who is reading Mysticism and
wrote to say how absolutely he agrees with it. Wasn't it sweet of
him, and such a surprise. It came yesterday and made me feel so warm
and comfy and readier to tolerate the ever-growing crowd of bores
who have had visions and want to tell me what they are like!

I don't believe it matters a bit feeling as you do just now about
prayer--I mean of course I know it is beastly--but it's not your
fault and all that really matters is holding on with one's will. I'm
sure hard difficult prayer is more worth giving than the easy nice
sort--though it is one of the hardest things in the world, when one
has been grinding out spiritual sawdust, to feel this really is so.
Anyhow there can't be any merit in being sugar-fed!!

Feb. 6, 1912.

To M.R.
 No, I am not going to scold a bit: and if you read any of "these
here ensuing" in that sense, you will be twisting my meaning and
attributing too much importance to the harshness of an unchastened

I do not think you are doing nearly as badly as you fancy: you have
made great progress these last few years and there are bound to be
flat times when nothing very spicy happens and you appear to
yourself to be stuck or even to be going back, because you have
leisure to observe the great difference which always exists and
always must exist between your actions and your ideals and dreams.
It is dreadfully difficult to estimate progress when there has been
no opportunity for showing positive acts or any outstanding highly
coloured fault to be eradicated: but there are more ways than one of
growing, and you must not assume you have not developed merely
because you do not observe your frocks getting too short!

Now about self-examination. These general vague examinations are
very apt to be deceptive and featureless particularly with a life
and character of your type. Drop that now, and take up the
"particular examination." Pick out a fault or lack which you
recognize in yourself, and which comes out, however subtly, in
your daily life. Whatever you find yourself most "up against"
--pride, lack of loving response (to life in general, as well as to
God in particular), slackness, depression--whatever it is. Watch
that, and that only. Try if you have time in the middle of the day
to glance back over the morning and see if you have fallen into it.
Pull yourself together and make an act of contrition as regards
that. At night, count up how many times you have committed it. Write
down the number: and look a little into the circumstances of each.
You will not find this tends at all to self-glorification, at first
at any rate. But it is solid work in character-building and very
bracing, definite and wholesome.

If you find in your prayers that you really tend to dreaminess and
talking to yourself, it will be better to use more vocal prayers
until you get back more of your power. When one is really tired, it
seems the only thing possible to do: and remember, it is the
direction of your will that counts, not the amount that you have
strength to accomplish. Prayer, when one is going through a blank
time like this, is really exhausting work and you must be as
reasonable in your use of it as in any other form of work. Try to
make acts of faith and trust and to cultivate the power of resting
in God, even in the darkness. Remember, grace is pouring in on you
all the time and it is not conditioned by the fact that your eyes
are shut.

About church-going I am quite of your opinion. I should never dream
myself of going to a cheerful hearty Evensong, and shouting hymns by
way of expressing my devotion! I do not feel that it is anyone's
duty to do so unless that sort of thing is a natural act of worship
to them. No doubt it is excellent for M---, but a quiet hour of
meditation and reading at home is probably far better for you. I do
think it is right and necessary to attend a Celebration every Sunday
but anything beyond that seems to me a matter of individual piety
which one is at liberty to settle for oneself. As to Festivals--other
things being equal, I do think it desirable to observe them
in some way; and unless one does observe them, they will never come
to mean anything to one--just as it is impossible to understand
intercession unless one practises it, and they all do or can mean
something--have a definite place in the interior drama of faith.

Now as to your last theological difficulty. This is really simply a
"bogey" and need not cause you any distress. Everyone tends to
worship God more under one aspect than another. The Trinity is far
too great to be apprehended "evenly all round" by any one
consciousness. Tyrrell said that everyone was either a God-lover or
a Christ-lover: and no one was both, at any rate in an equal degree.
Why was God revealed in Christ, except that such a revelation was an
absolute necessity for the majority of human souls?

All the saints have taught that it is far better and safer to
approach the contemplation of God through the Humanity of Christ
than in any other way. So I would not worry about this at all. At
the same time, it is rather a strong measure to give up the Lord's
Prayer--the one thing which sums up the attitude of the human Christ
Whom you are to try to imitate. If you say it in union with His
Spirit it will become real to you sooner or later. But so long as
you go on trusting and doing what you ought without getting anything
for it, you need not have any fear that you are on the wrong track;
or that your inward life is not secure. I am certain, myself, that
it is secure; and that you will discover it for yourself--probably
in some wholly unexpected way.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
  February, 1912.

 . . . I suppose you have received ----'s. What do you think of that?
What with Adam and Eve, and that wild notion of his about the
visible order being the inversion of the invisible (the impudence of
making St. Paul responsible for it!) I felt as if I had got a
nightmare of a distressing kind--the sort of thing that makes
Richard mew suddenly in his sleep.

I'm immersed in my book which is very difficult but enthralling, and
involves consulting what seems to be an absolutely endless number of
authorities. I write all morning and read in the evening; at least
as long as I can but I generally collapse with dimness of mind about
nine o'clock! I wish Miss R. would teach me to cure that. Her second
class was much better than her first and I felt rather contrite at
having run her down to you. She is all right when she sticks to
physiology, and simple psychological facts--often quite
illuminating. But when she approaches metaphysics or theology the
thin ice begins! It is all very well, but this teaching does leave
out something which seems to me an essential of Christianity as I
understand it. It aims at making a healthy all-round efficient
even-tempered creature, a perfect machine for doing God's Will: but
not a "God-intoxicated spirit," a lover of the Eternal Beauty. Miss
R. said on Wednesday, a propos of the stigmata of the saints, that
modern Christians would never think of meditating on the sufferings
or crucifixion of Christ but would give all their attention to
making the world the sort of place where "such an episode" would be
impossible. Rather a tepid, remote impersonal kind of religion,
don't you think? And wholly wanting in the great qualities of
wildness and romance.

 Eve of Dominica in Albis [Low Sunday], 1912.

 . . . We had a truly divine week at Storrington; walked ten miles
each day, mostly on the tops of the downs, and soaked our minds in
all the trees and flowers and growing things. There was a monastery
church for me, with four doddery old monks and one brisk one with a
superb voice. He took the whole Good Friday and Holy Saturday
services as solos and no one else seemed capable of so much as
making the responses! On Good Friday he sang the Reproaches, choir
parts and all, and the Crux Fidelis, and then carried the Blessed
Sacrament to the altar of Repose singing the Vexilla. Regis all by
himself. It sounds weird, but really it was most impressive--much
more so than the attempt at fluffy anthems on Easter Day. But as on
many previous Easters, I found nature a great deal more spiritually
suggestive than ecclesiasticism! Everything seems then to surge in
on you with new life, doesn't it? It is too much to be pinned down
at the moment into any rites and symbols however august, isn't it?
It's only after the glory and the madness have worn off a bit that
one can bear them.

We saw Father Tyrrell's grave. He is buried there in the corner of
the Anglican churchyard with the chalice that was taken away from
him engraved on his tomb.

I am over here now for a fortnight or three weeks--rather waste of
time, for Storrington did me such a lot of good I could quite well
have started work again at once, and wanted to. However, I'd
promised to escort mother on her holiday so it had to be done! It is
all very bright, clean, crisp, sunny and neat here, and the fields
of flowers look like a kindergarten exercise in "flat tinting." At
the corners of them are rubbish heaps of masses and masses of cut
flowers, all lovely mixed fading tints, and more melancholy than a
thousand cemeteries. There must be a streak of real beastliness in
the Dutch--they use the cut flowers for manure. Nature in her
harshest and most dreadful mood has never equalled that, has she? It
has quite put me off the bulb gardens and I take refuge with the
glorious Franz Hals pictures--a whole room just bursting with
vitality and getting realer and realer the longer one sits with
them. They offer all sorts of interesting problems to be meditated
on, those pictures: as for instance, why should a view of humanity
so obviously superficial be at the same time so deeply alive? And,
why should this end by impressing one as more mysterious than the
avowedly mysterious pictures of Rembrandt? Kindly tell me.

Hotel-Restaurant Bellevue, Dordrecht.
 22 April, 1912.

 Here we are, safely arrived at Dordrecht so I will begin your
letter to-night: which is really extremely nice of me, as I haven't
heard a thing from you--no letter here! I suppose the garden on
Saturday made you miss the post?

We were dreadfully sorry to leave Volendam--it was such a friendly
seductive little place and wonderful bright air too. We came away by
"house-boat," a small boat with an open cabin in the middle, and a
sail and push-pole, to Edam, where we got the light railway to
Amsterdam. The ancient bargee who managed the house-boat had to get
on the roof at one point and manoeuvre the pole, so--really almost
unconsciously--I took the helm--we were heading straight into the
bank--and cleared the main sheet which was jammed in the block.
Tremendous sensation on the part of Dutch passenger and bargee, who
was understood to say I was "een trouer schipper"!

I have bought one of the Volendam fur hats, and also a nice boy's
sleeved waistcoat: it fits rather well and will be a most nice
little garment on the boat, I think. One of the girls at the inn
took us shopping this morning, to the real general shop where the
people buy their clothes, not the tourist place; and amongst other
things we happened on two good old silver buckles, of which I
secured one.

High Mass yesterday was really distracting--e whole population in
church, 2,000 or more, and only about six not in costume. Men and
women sit separately, so where I was it was a forest of entrancing
caps! I was rather amused because at breakfast at the hotel a very
Protestant English couple assured me that if I went to the church I
should have to stand the whole time as no stranger ever got a seat.
A friend of theirs the previous Sunday had "offered any money" for
one and simply been turned away. I thought this odd, but went off
prepared for the worst. Went into church in the usual way, and the
old man who took Holy Water next after me at once seized my arm in a
fatherly way, said "Heer ist een platz" and led me to an excellent
seat! They are a very religious, serious sort of people, and I dare
say do discourage visitors who come to the church merely to see the
show--don't blame them! A thing happened there which I had never
hoped to see in real life: during the sermon the beadle walked down
the aisles stirring up the children who were going to sleep with his
staff and again at the Consecration, giving all those a whack who
didn't kneel down!

In the evening one of the innkeeper's daughters, in a delightful
ingenuous broken English, discoursed to us, more frankly than I
think she knew, of the manners and customs of Volendam, and of
various local scandals. The other English, I think, were much
shocked. Personally I nearly died of suppressed laughter, especially
when one matron said, a propos of the cupboard-beds where all the
family sleep together: "But of course the boys and girls do not
sleep in the same bed?" and our informant replied, "Oh yees, zey
do: till zee boys begin to go after zee girls, zen they must go and
sleep in the boats. But zee Volendam boys very slow. Sometimes 16,
17 before zey begin to think of zee girls!"

We are much pleased with our quarters here, which have reconciled us
a little to leaving Volendam. The hotel is just at the point where
the three big rivers meet, and we have rooms with balconies where we
can sit and watch the shipping, which just streams past all the
time. Every pattern of barge and school you can imagine. In the
twilight they looked most lovely. What is funny is that they
carry no side lights here, only a masthead one even for sailing
vessels. We hope to go all the way to Middelburg by water on
Wednesday--seven hours of it.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 12 May, 1912.

 . . . We've been back ten days and now in another ten I've got to
go away for Whitsuntide. This is really a terrible time of year! No
settling in for really connected work--st sudden vivid scraps.

I am so glad you had a good time in Rome. Isn't the Pope (Pius X)
impressive? I never saw the last one--t the simplicity and radiant
devoutness of this simply left me grovelling. However unsuitable he
may be politically and intellectually, I am convinced that inside he
is a great Christian and would be an ideal Pope if a Pope's job were
purely spiritual (as it ought to be).

I can't remember where I wrote to you from last, but I fancy it was
Amsterdam. We went to Volendam after that, which I loved, though in
parts it was smelly. But the marvellous costumes--the dear creatures
with mediaeval faces, in huge baggy trousers laced up with green,
and rose-coloured waistcoats and fur hats, were entrancing. We were
there for Sunday, and High Mass was a terrible struggle between the
delights of the inward and the outward eye. Then we went to Dort and
Middelburg, then Brussels (I'd never seen the pictures there--and
some of them are really rather good, aren't they?) and then three
wild days of shopping in Paris! It was its very sweetest and
greenest and blossomyest, but there were no nice little old books on
the bookstalls, which was a great blow. . ..

(At this point an interval has occurred during which the
thunderstorm being over, we have descended into the garden and
caught 300 slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the
squalid in gardening. It makes it so lifelike.)

Did I tell you about a thing called the Religious Thought Society
which has been started lately? It is supposed to be going to get
hold of the modern mind and deepen its spiritual life. I don't know
whether it will: it has considerably diminished its chances by
co-opting me on to its Committee, where I feel very uncomfortable
amidst earnest and orthodox females. There's one nice open-airy
man though with the proper Christian twinkle in his eye. The Dean of
St. Paul's [Dr. Inge] is the head of it, which is at any rate a
guarantee that it will not vapour off in the direction of
sentimentalism. We are going to have two conferences on the Doctrine
of the Trinity in June and July, the various groups of members who
study together reading and discussing around that subject at
their own weekly meetings, and in the autumn we shall begin, I hope,
a course taking in the different aspects of the spiritual life.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 15 May, 1912.

 No papers so far about the Religious Thought Society as everyone
seems anxious not to make it formal but just a community of people
caring about the things, and leaving different | groups complete
liberty to form and act as they think best. At bottom I feel much as
you do about it, and for some months flatly refused to go on the
Committee as I regarded it as a mere excuse for Religious Talk.
However, I do see that whilst Theosophists, Higher Thoughtists and
every other kind of heretic are having organized campaigns and
"group meetings" and the rest and getting hold of those who think
themselves intelligent by the score, it is idle for Christians to
sit tight and talk about the merits of "wholesome Church
discipline," etc. We must meet them on their own ground and show
what the treasures of Christian philosophy are. Not one in a
thousand, believers or unbelievers, knows anything about them. I
look on it as a sort of educative and missionary work really worth
doing if it can be done in the right sort of way.

Yacht Nepenthe, Walton-on-the-Naze.
 29 May, 1912.

 . . . No, I'm not going to retort with remarks about lights under
bushels to your observations on the Religious Thought thing. On the
contrary, the people who wave their lights under your nose on the
smallest provocation generally fry me brown with disgust. All the
same, I think this policy of modest reticence can be carried too
far! Really much of what our people want to do--so far as I can
make out--is just the sort of thing you do for your girls now,
because millions have grown up without having it done to them; and
their need cannot be met by ecclesiastical ceremonies which they
don't know how to use. To my mind, if only a few of these are put on
the road to first-hand experience, the Society will have been a
success. Of course, a lot of purposeless talk will go on and a lot
of rope be given to the pious gabblers, but that's unavoidable. It
is not so much a case of speculating, as of expounding what we have
got. Nine-tenths of modern Christians are blissfully ignorant of
their own theology, and intelligent young sceptics hardly ever know
the outlines of the religion they are too clever to believe. If we
educate intellects, surely we must take account of them in religion
as in everything else? If we don't, I think we run a frightful risk.
Better get them for God than leave them for the devil, even though
it is the heart He chiefly wants. It's odd I should be arguing like
this because really the whole of my instincts are on the other side!
I feel the ideal thing--and for me, the only possible way--is to get
people individually bit by bit, one by one, when a "door is opened"
to one. The idea of talking generally about anything that really
matters, makes one squirm. Still, a thing like this, purposely left
very vague and unfettered by rules, may attract "seekers" who may
thus get into touch with those who can help them. There's a lot of
religious loneliness about, I think; and the mere fact of a
corporate spirit amongst those interested ought--if we back each
other up and pray for each other--to be good, oughtn't it?

What a screed! and there are lots of nice plover in the salt marsh
all round us talking much better sense. We might be at the end of
the world here, it's so desolate--a narrow creek running up into the
marsh--not a house or a tree in sight; and a queer orange moon in
the sky. It's like a bit out of "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower
came" and pleases me immensely.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 Monday in Easter Week, 1913.

 . . . Thank you so very very much for your beautiful and generous
letter. How could you think such kindness an "impertinence"? It
soothed and delighted me beyond measure: for so far the outstanding
results of The Mystic Way have been a rather harrowing letter from
Arthur Machen, making it obvious that he no longer considers me a
Christian; some objectionable flattery from unbelievers, and the
amazing deduction of The Times reviewer, that I have proved that
mystics value the sacraments highly, as an elaborate sham. Between
them I've been feeling rather dismal and outcast: and even began to
fear I had achieved the impossible and shocked Scotty* herself (a
triumph in its way, I admit!), and your lovely letter has had a most
restorative effect. You have read into the book just what I tried so
hard to put there but which will only be found by those who already
possess a clearer vision than I have at my disposal. Yes, "reverent
insulation" is no good, is it? In its way, as destructive of love as
the worst excesses of "rationalism". But I am gradually finding out
that most devout persons are Docetists without knowing it, and that
nothing short of complete unreality will satisfy them. It is queer,
isn't it? Logically their Scriptures ought to begin, "In the
beginning the devil created. . . ."

* Mrs. Ernest Dowson (William Scott Palmer).

Thanking you again many times for your letter--d I haven't told you
a bit properly what it has meant to me.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 Low Sunday (March 30), 1913.

 No, of course, I am not "vexed"; though I admit that your letter is
very painful reading. I had not expected you to misinterpret my
attitude and intentions quite so completely, or so promptly take it
for granted that I meant the worst. Far from going further on the
path of destruction, the last thing I wish is to destroy the one
thing which gives life meaning and beauty to me: but what seems to
you, to my great grief, to be blasphemy, seems to me to make the
things I love best more real and more sacred.

As to the critical side of the book,* I simply took the least common
measure of what seems to me to be practically established beyond
reasonable doubt, and did not, in most particulars, even go so far
as Baron von Hugel thought I should have done. (You are of course
quite right about Mark as the source for Matthew and Luke, and I
should have made that more clear.) I think that theologians will
have to accept these positions sooner or later (an enormous number
of course have already done so) and that a Christianity which cannot
survive that process is in a parlous case.

* The Mystic Way.

As to the Magnificat, apart from the difficulty of supposing that
Our Lady remembered exactly, and repeated to others, a long and yet
absolutely spontaneous rhapsody of this kind, it surely tallies with
all that we know about antique writers of history, that they felt
quite at liberty to write speeches for the persons whom they
described? The case here is clearly quite different from that of Our
Lord Himself whose words were evidently felt from the first to be of
supreme importance, and were moreover heard and treasured by a group
of disciples. I don't one bit wish to jar on any one. At the same
time a recognition of the plain fact that the Magnificat is simply a
wonderfully beautiful linked series of O.T. texts does seem to
reduce the importance of the question as to whether or no this form
of words, rather than the pure and intense emotion which they
represent, goes back to Our Lady herself.

Of course I would not suggest that incidents given by one source
only are necessarily "non-historical." It is not this, but their
"literary" character and incompatibility with Matthew, which causes
suspicion to fall on the Nativity episodes in Luke. As to your last
suggestion that I make it appear that Our Lord was inferior to "the
really tip-top" mystics I do feel it rather difficult to write
coolly. I say over and over again that He represents the classic and
perfect achievement of all that the greatest saints have aimed at
but never wholly reached--that throughout His whole Ministry, He
exhibited, as none other did, the characters of the Unitive Way in
their highest perfection, that, in Him, for once life achieved
freedom and touched the Divine. Does not this involve the
Incarnation? And could I make my disclaimer of the idea that I "rank
Him below His followers" much more plain?

I never dreamed for an instant that anyone could bring such a charge
as that or I most certainly would have "disclaimed" in the most
violent terms known to me. At the same time the postresurrection
life surely was (or rather is, for we cannot, can we, regard it as
other than directly continuous with His presence in the Blessed
Sacrament?) of a more "exalted" nature than the "earthly" life and
so does represent the achievement of new levels by one who is human
as well as divine.

I should like to ask you just two questions on the whole subject
(you need not answer them).

(1) Does it strike you as more consonant with the dignity and glory
of God that His supreme revelation should run counter to the normal
processes of the life He creates and upholds, instead of emerging
through that life?

(2) Does not the Incarnation involve complete humanity? And can we
sever complete humanity from the laws and limitations (mental as
well as bodily) which go with our psycho-physical framework? Do you
think the Incarnation could achieve its purpose for man if it had as
its instrument a special nervous system, a special brain, and was
exempt from the working of the laws of growth, etc.? It seems to me
that all conceptions of Our Lord's person as something ready-made,
must eventually land us in Docetism--d personally I find my own
heresy, horrible though it be, better to live with than that.

[April, 1913.]

 I was just going to answer your previous letter when its appendix
came. The funny thing is, that in the said appendix, your attitude
to miracle is exactly the same as my own: which makes the reason why
I shock you so, more of a mystery (to me) than ever. Moreover, to
revert to the letter itself, my question did not mean "Can you
swallow the Virgin Birth?" because as far as the possibility is
concerned (though I think, for technical reasons I won't bore you
with, that the evidence is weak and full of special difficulties) I
have no difficulty in swallowing it myself. In the M.W. [Mystic Way)
I left it absolutely alone; and nothing said there is affected by
it. All the same, were it disproved tomorrow, I should not have to
follow your suggestion and fall back on good manners as a reason for
kneeling at "incarnatus est." My question had to do with the whole
general question of revelation: not with possible modifications of
the "material" under pressure of the "spiritual" but with the
"growth theory" as against the "conjuring-trick theory." Personally,
if I didn't think the whole of life was the work of the Holy Spirit,
I should give everything up. It is the centre of my creed: so vivid
that the things which seem to us disgusting, cruel, unjust--and I
don't deny them--can do nothing against it.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 [? 1913.]

 I am a wretch not to have answered your kind letter before. I would
love to see the Sherborne Missal and if it is possible for me to get
to the B.M. before leaving home I will let you know but my life is
highly complicated at present by my beloved Indian Prophet,* who is
convalescing from an operation and likes me to go to him every
afternoon if possible, to work out some translations of old
Indian mystical lyrics. It is fascinating work and a real joy and
education to be with him--but it does not leave much spare time when
my other various jobs are done. I had a long talk with the Baron [
von Hugel] before he left for Italy--much about your letter, which
had disturbed him considerably--and a firm but gentle lecture on my
own Quakerish leanings! His main point seems to be that such
interior religion is all very well for our exalted moments, but will
fail us in the ordinary dull jog-trot of daily life, and is
therefore not a "whole religion" for men who are not "pure spirit";
"a steady-going parish priest like a dear nice eiderdown"!) he
thinks a better standby for daily life than any prophet. Hard and
dreary doctrine, to my mind, but I am not prepared to say it is

* One Hundred Poems of Kabir, translated by Rabindranath Tagore,
assisted by Evelyn Underhill, 1914. Published by the India Society.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 12 October, 1913.

 We got back a week ago quite dismal at having to leave Italy, and
are slowly getting used to the frowsiness of our glorious country.
We had a really glorious time. The best holiday I've had for years.
Very little bad weather, and the last 10 days in particular quite
ideal--hot sun and bright crisp air. I think September a far nicer
time for Tuscany than the spring: so few tourists, plenty of room
everywhere--and then the vineyards such a sight. We went to one
vintage and cut grapes madly to cast them into great baskets,
feeling highly Bacchanalian, for the best part of a hot afternoon!
We had a beautiful week at and about Vallombrosa. I love those great
forests full of little shrines to mark the adventures of St.
Giovanni Gualberto; the penitential baths he took, and the
encounters he was always having with the devil. We had one wonderful
day in the Casentino. I was determined to get to Camaldoli because
there are still Hermits there, so we drove there: right over the
Consuma Pass, and by Poppi and lots of other Dante places. The whole
day was rather like being inside the Divina Commedia, and the whole
landscape absolutely mediaeval. The hermits are at the top of a hill
above Camaldoli--seven of them, and so charming. They would not
let me into their enclosure (and Hubert flatly refused to go alone!)
but one came out and talked and showed me St. Romuald's cell, which
is exactly the pattern they have still, though our hermit assured us
that his was much more comfortable! I think it is an ideal life. You
keep the canonical hours, do a good deal of gardening, and may talk
to each other every other day. Six feet of snow all the winter,
which some of course might think a disadvantage, but they don't seem
to mind it a bit. We drove back by moonlight--so wonderful. It was
full moon, and the eve of the Feast of the Stigmata and we drove in
full sight of La Verna. I felt as if the original night must have
been like that. There were sheets of lightning too playing round the
tops of the mountains. Do you remember how the peasants reported
that on the night of the miracle they saw a mystical fire lighting
up the summit of the Mount? If it was such a night as we saw, their
statement was absolutely correct.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 Sunday [1913].

 I like Mr. Gamble. He is not up to date of course, but his ideas
are nice. The other book I haven't tackled yet, but I fancy it is
rather too high and dry for me! It seems to me that in theology one
makes a series of forced choices between history and poetry. Both
are necessary if one is to get an adequate symbol of truth, but it's
imperative to take them separately. But the professional
theologian often falsifies history without attaining poetry and
that's an unforgivable sin against the light!

I liked the Miracle as a pageant very much indeed: it had to my mind
nothing at all to do with religion, and I agree with Miss W. in very
much resenting the use of the Ave Maria. We narrowly escaped
something much worse--the producers originally meant an imitation
of the Blessed Sacrament to be carried in the procession, but were
dissuaded at the last moment by Father Thurston whom they had
consulted about the accuracy of various details! I thought the
Madonna and the Spielmann both magnificent pieces of acting. We saw
the English Spielmann, not the celebrated Viennese, who has broken
down under the strain of having to walk 6 miles at each performance!

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 Sunday [? 1913].

 . . . I've been that driven this week! Mother's Sale of Work,
Monday to Wednesday--Bergson's lectures, for which I have been
simply living, then a sudden demand for an article on him--ordered
Thursday and printed Saturday!--en a note from Methuen asking me to
revise Mysticism for its 3rd edition, which is wanted immediately!
So no time for reading, or for preparing to write anything that
matters! . . .

I don't feel in the mood for theology and am not going to argue with
you about Sacraments. I'm still drunk with Bergson, who sharpened
one's mind and swept one off one's feet both at once. Those lectures
have been a real, great experience: direct contact with the
personality of a profound intuitive thinker of the first rank!
London isn't quite so silly as it seems. It provided him with a big,
wildly enthusiastic audience which followed him with a deep
attention that one could almost feel. After the first lecture when
he was shy, he got on very friendly terms with us, and thanked us at
the end for our sympathy, in a sweet little English speech.

It was rather strange, and gave me quite a shock last night, when he
gave us his final conclusions on the nature of spirit (conclusions
which sounded like a metaphysical version of the Communion of
Saints), to find that they were exactly the same as my mystic
declares that she saw--her intellectual vision, and insists upon in
the teeth of all arguments, as absolutely true! I've not see her
again but we correspond. She is a most strange person, frightfully
telepathic and over-sensitive. Two days after I'd seen her she wrote
to me, and said, "I have lost my awful feeling of spiritual
suffering, for the first time for months, and I know it is because
you are praying for me." It was true that I had been, almost
continuously--but I had never said or suggested that I intended to
do it.

Nov. 9, 1917.

To M.R.
 It was very nice to hear of you again: though I am grieved that
writing is still such a painful matter for you.

I could not help being a little bit amused at your description of
yourself as becoming "worldly." Somehow it seems a very unlikely
thing to happen to you and it certainly has not happened yet: for
your old scale of values is, by your own showing, still intact
although like the majority of the human race, you are not perhaps
living up to your own ideals.

What has happened to you is happening in a greater or less degree to
everyone. The present abnormal conditions are as bad for the
spiritual life as for every other kind of life. We are all finding
it frightfully difficult and most of us are failing badly. The
material world and its interests, uproars and perplexities are so
insistent that detachment is almost impossible. Some are utterly
overwhelmed: others, as you say of yourself, take refuge in interest
in little things. Transcendence of the here and now demands at
present a strength of will and a power of withdrawal which very few
possess. I am certainly not going to scold you because you cannot
manage it--only the saints on one hand, and the spiritual egoists on
the other, can.

All the same of course it is essential to hold on as well as you can
and make a resolute and regular act of willed attention to God at
the times set apart for prayer--only do not fuss at the poor and
unappetizing results. The will is what matters--so long as you have
that, you are safe--and anything achieved now, when you are tossed
back to this state, is worth far more than the enjoyable prayers
you could not help.

I know well the condition in which spiritual things seem secondary
and unreal--it is not pleasant--but you cannot force yourself into
the mood in which they will seem real again--it will come back in
its own time. Meanwhile your duty is to act on your inner knowledge
and conviction and put all questions of feeling on one side. I do
not mind your reluctance of "unwilling pertinacity" as long as
you are pertinacious. You are like a person who gets into a fog in
the mountains and can only see a few bits of moss in the immediate
neighbourhood. The thing is to trust your compass, plod quietly on
and avoid getting fussed. You will find it is all right in the long

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 7 January, 1919.

 Thank you so much for your very kind letter and the gift( of your
beautiful little book. I had already seen it, and was very nearly
speaking to you about it when we met--only, as you say, the occasion
did not seem quite to arise, and I hate talking about these things
in a "general way." I am delighted to hear it is| going into a
second edition. I have already given it to people] whom I thought it
would benefit.

Although I can't, of course, say I agree with you on every point--
although the mystical experience is one, it is doubtful whether any
two people feel absolutely the same about it--I think your statement
is admirably clear and lucid. Without unduly stressing the Christian
view, you have put the subject in a light which ought to prevent
your readers from making any of the cruder mistakes, or rambling off
into theosophy and such-like follies. Of course I thoroughly agree
with you that| Christianity was from the first essentially a
mystical religion; to me, the doctrine of the New Testament is only
intelligible from that standpoint.

The only thing I do a little regret is the fact that in one or two
cases you have put forward guides who seem to me rather doubtful
--e.g. Molinos, as to whose aberrations I agree with Baron von
Hugel--and (especially) Mrs. L.--a lady whose spiritual practices
were doubtless better than her declarations on the subject. I can't
help thinking it bad to encourage people to induce a quasi-contemplative
state by means of mental associations--boundless oceans, sky, light,
etc. This is a psychic trick, not the real thing. I think it is
better, really, to teach at once the hard and wholesome doctrine
that the attitude of adoration and humility is what matters and that
spiritual realization is secondary to this, and can only be prepared
for, not obtained, by our deliberate conscious efforts. But very
likely you don't agree about this. I don't apologize for writing
frankly because I am sure you would prefer it, and we both care
about the subject too much for anything but candour to be possible.

Paart Two


O Master Christ!
 Thou hast loved us with an everlasting love:
 Thou hast forgiven us, trained us, disciplined us:
 Thou hast broken us loose and laid Thy commands upon us:
 Thou hast set us in the thick of things and deigned to use us:
 Thou hast shown Thyself to us, fed us, guided us:
 Be graciously pleased to accept and forgive our poor efforts, $
 And keep us Thy free bondslaves for ever.

6 Dec., 1923.

To L.M. (To her friend's dog.)
 As for your Engagement block it is perfect and will give A special
flavour to the whole year. You can think of it more or less buried
in the fragment of primeval chaos which is called my writing-table
and emerging every now and then with a pleasant little bark. It all
makes me feel more than ever that the Psalmist must have been a bit
wrong in his psyche when he wanted his darling delivered from the
power of the Dog (unless of course his darling was a cat).

50 Campden Hill Square, W.
 Saturday [? 1924].

 . . . I have just been asked to conduct a three day retreat at my
dear Pleshey in Lent. I forget if I told you I might do it--now it
is decided. It seems a great responsibility, but I think I have to
do it. Of course the Chaplain will say Mass each day but I shall
take all the addresses, meditations and interviews. So you must pray
for this too.

Last Thursday evening was such a joy--we had a great meeting at the
Albert Hall for my "Christian Citizenship Conference"; and it was
splendid. Packed right up to the roof with people and everyone so
keen and such a lovely spirit everywhere. The Archbishop of York [
Dr. Temple] was in the Chair, and the Bishop of Manchester gave a
very beautiful address--in fact all did. I think I best liked Miss
Lena Ashwell, the actress who did such wonderful work for soldiers
in the war. She spoke of bringing more beauty and happiness into
everyone's lives: and suddenly she said, "There is one thing I wish
to say, because I am the last sort of person you will expect to say
it--we shall accomplish nothing, unless we love God. I mean real
love, not saying sloppy and pious things--and that is a very hard
thing to do really!" Wasn't that fine? And we had Romans and
Nonconformists speaking too, and all sitting happily together on the
platform and "treating each other's beliefs with reverence"--as our
Confraternity says. I did really feel the whole thing was a triumph
for the Spirit of Christ.

Feb. 6, 1924.

To L.M.
 I've been having a lurid week-end going through proofs of 80 sheets
of galley--mostly by my co-editor who has a talent for pouring forth
floods of heliotrope prose and a special love for triads of abstract
nouns: not only our dear old friends, Goodness, Truth and Beauty,
but Anger and Scorn and Despair--Joy, Love and Peace--Shame and
Penitence and Grief--etc. etc. My own contributions stick out of
this with the stark austerity of quotations from the Stores List.
The St. Andrew's Lectures are done: they are Flippant and Pious and
Obscure: you see what a good thing it is that the Principal is going
to be away. I'm getting so excited about coming!

March 2, 1924.

 . . . Been working all the week at my Pleshey stuff; got four of
the eight addresses ready. They are coming out a bit on the cheerful
side but p'raps that is better than the opposite.

Have just been asked to be one of the three speakers on the opening
day of Copec--a truly horrifying responsibility. Dr. Raven for
Anglicans, Mr. Maltby for Free Churches and I (I suppose) for "Any
other Colour", as they say at the Cat Shows. Meanwhile I'm going
each night to Back to Methuselah and finding it most stimulating.
Somehow the spiritual plot of it comes out far more vividly when
acted than when reading the book. He's a marvellous creature with
a real visionary touch, though so often exasperating!

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 March 19, 1924.

 Thank you so much for your very kind and interesting letter. ... I
am indeed glad you have come to see so clearly how necessary it is
that we should try humbly to accept and use religious institutions
and not cut ourselves off from history and the common life, if we
are to develop a really wholesome and Christian type of
spirituality. The withdrawal of the "cultured" from Church life
has two very bad results,

(a) it either shrivels or  puffs up their souls;

(b) it deprives the institutional life of the contribution they
ought to be making to it. And as a matter of fact, though the first
return to these things is hard and dry, especially to the naturally
meditative temperament, the more we consent to use them, the more
they gradually give us.

I don't mean by this that I admire "Churchiness," but that a
moderate, regular sharing, in the degree suited to each, in
institutional practice will always in the end enrich, calm,
de-individualize our inner life.

I am glad you like Practical Mysticism--but please consider what is
said there to be incomplete and requiring to be taken in conjunction
with the sections on Institutional and Social spirituality in The
Life of the Spirit and the Life of To-day--or better still with
Baron von Hugel's teaching in Essays and Addresses on the Philosophy
of Religion. It is only when we grasp the redemptive and creative
side of spiritual life and our obligation in respect of it, that we
escape the evil of setting up an opposition between the peacefulness
of communion with God and the apparently "unspiritual" aspects of
practical life. I mean, enjoying Him and working with Him have got
to be balanced parts of one full, rich and surrendered life.

If there are any points on which I can be of use to you, or you feel
you would like to write to me again, I hope you will not hesitate to
do so.

March, 1924.

To L.M.
 Here's the little Dante. I'm awfully sorry I forgot to post it
yesterday, my mind being rather upset! I got back home on Wednesday
to find a letter saying the Baron was seriously ill, unconscious
--and had received the last sacraments and we must not even wish him
to live. However, by some miracle he has rallied and is now
conscious and even talking a bit though very weak, and it seems he
may recover. A nasty 24 hours! . . . I trust you have the big flask
and an extra stock of prudence to take with you to Italy and are
going to come back calm and well in all dimensions. . . .

March 28.

 So glad you find the little Dante a comfortable pocket companion.
He is an experienced traveller and has ascended Scottish and Welsh
mountains and done a little yachting from time to time.

. . . I'm glad you like O Master Christ!; it's my best of all one,
and I like to think of your using it too. It really is almost
complete. .. .

The address on Prayer that wasn't so-called, went off all right;
though it's very different shouting out things like that in a big
room full of 200 people and saying them intimately in a Retreat.
However, the result was a resolution to arrange for a two-day
Retreat later so that's a good thing isn't it? Afterwards a
delightful young creature came and asked whether his ears had
deceived him or had he heard me use the phrase "our finite spirits"?
I replied that he certainly had heard me use it--and he then said
that he regarded his own spirit as both infinite and Divine! Father
Baker's "I congratulate thee," etc., seems to come in as the only
possible response, doesn't it?

Palm Sunday, 1924.

 Thank you so much for your letters. I have so enjoyed them,
especially your account of Maria. I felt sure she was wonderful but
you have made me see her quite vividly and now I feel I know her
much better than before.

I am going to read all those parts of your letter to Mrs. Rose
to-morrow. She is already tremendously in touch with Maria and had
got the idea of her quite right. . . . But what an appalling amount
of nonsense you seem to have talked about me!! However it will be
abruptly corrected when I turn up there in September. . . .

No! I don't know any of them except via prayers and paper; and
haven't really done anything particular for the Entente--but it's
becoming a curiously strong little organization and the members of
its inner circle do seem to be in actual spiritual touch. Your whole
account makes me simply long to get out to them and bathe in that
atmosphere, being at present a bit tired and chivvied and having
very much to do what St. Teresa calls "drawing it all up in one's
own bucket!"

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 June 20, 1924.

To W.Y.
 I was so pleased to hear from you again; for you have remained in
my mind since your previous letter.

I think your "practical" difficulty is really a mental and spiritual
difficulty. That is to say it arises out of the inadequacy of your
present religious and philosophic outlook. You have arrived at a
sort of pantheistic belief and experience and have discovered--as I
think nearly every sincere person must discover sooner or later
--that it provides no real incentive or sanction whatever for moral
effort, and yet you can't get away from the feeling (I think) that
moral effort is part of your job! What you are really short of is
the conviction of personal responsibility to a personal God--and
pantheism of course can never give you that. It means genuine theism
and preferably Christian theism--the true co-ordinating factor of
our aesthetic and ethical life. Of course such a realization of the
Divine in and through nature, as you describe, is religious as far
as it goes: but it isn't a sufficient religion for the human soul,
which absolutely requires a relationship with a personal Object in
which its own partial and imperfect personality is summed up and
made complete. This does not mean scrapping your present outlook,
but +including it in Something deeper and greater.

And (as regards specifically Christian beliefs) it means getting
beyond the idea of Christ as a "perfect example," "spiritual genius"
and so forth, to a realization of the principle of incarnation (and
as a derivative therefrom, of sacramentalism also) as involving the
special self-expression and self-imparting of the Infinite God, in
humanity and for humanity.

If you will as it were let such ideas as these dwell in your mind,
regard them favourably, be willing for them to be true, I think it
probable that your religious attitude will gradually develop in the
theistic direction and you will then find the clue and incentive you
feel you need. But it does seem to me that you ought to try to pray.
Your spiritual sense won't develop unless you give it education. I
think you ought to take a short, regular time for this every day
--perhaps only 10 minutes in the morning at first. Even if it begins
merely as you say with reading a Psalm and "feeling transported."
That is not mere self-indulgence, but quite a good preparation for
subsequent objectivity and hard work. Hold on to this sense of peace
and beauty, and in and with that, consider the duties, etc., of the
day: surround them with that atmosphere as much as you can--and
don't expect any very startling results at first!

I wish you would read (if you have not already) Otto's The Idea of
the Holy and Baron von Hugel's Essays and Addresses--especially the
one on the "Natural and Supernatural" for I think you would find
them illuminating.

July 7, 1924.

To L.M.
 I've got the new book on Blake to read; it is mighty ingenious, but
the attempt to wedge Blake into the most rigidly conceived
categories of mystical science, requires a spiritual shoe-horn.
Still there are lots of interesting and suggestive things in it....

The Baron is keeping pretty well and able now to do without a nurse,
though he won't be able to go away this year. . . . He does not
regain any physical strength. I do so trust he is happy in his soul
through it all; but that of course, he would never let anyone know.
. . .

Do hope you are beginning to sleep a bit. Meditate upon the Sacred
Cow and strive with Ruysbroeck to "become that which you behold":
it's the right ideal for convalescents which I do trust you will
soon begin to be. ...

July 26, 1924.

 I've had a heavily worldly week with all the parties to the
American lawyers, ending last night with a really splendid show, the
Lord Chancellor's reception in Westminster Hall. It was a sight,
that glorious architecture and roof brilliantly lit up, as one never
sees it, and every one in their best, swords, orders and all. I went
with my dear old papa, who looked very sweet in his, black velvet
and buckled shoes. The Americans overwhelmed with awe and joy. I
heard one say, "My! I'm all Eyes and Ears to-night!"

Wednesday we had them at Lincoln's Inn and led them round and showed
them the antiquities including the crooked little streets round
Staples Inn, which struck them as "cunning." Altogether it was
rather fun.

 Sunday, 7 September, 1924.

 .. . We got here Thursday afternoon, a wonderful drive mostly on
the edge of precipices and through tunnels in the rock, on emerging
from which you were apt to find an unexpected mule blocking the way.
This is a lovely valley, with Monte Rosa Blocking its northern end
and looking simply enormous, Everesty and unclimbable. A tablet on
the church says that the present Pope started from here to make two
pioneer climbs before he was "called to still higher altitudes." The
Vatican must feel pretty awful after Monte Rosa, poor thing!

The flowers here are not much now--dianthus, several sorts of
campanula, pansies and so forth--not real Alpines, we are hardly
high enough. Still they make up quite an agreeable little bunch. We
have had two lovely long days in the wilds: the first one going up
to the glacier, a steep and warm affair, and the second rather
milder, climbing only about 1,000 feet, much companioned and beset
by goats, who had the salt out of our lunch, and ate the paper;
swallowed half a yard of my scarf, which had to be pulled back to
the external world not looking as nice as it did before, and chewed
up the strap of Hubert's glasses. But they were charming goats, soft
and glossy, with most sweet faces; and quite content when everything
else was finished to lick one's hands.

This morning just after everyone had come out from Mass we saw a
most strangely shaped object coming up the road, which turned out to
be a young woman with a full-sized cradle on her back on the top of
one of the local baskets. A white lace veil covered the whole cradle
and over it the best family shawl, a marvellous magenta silk affair
with long fringe. Inside though one could hardly believe it was a
live three days' old baby coming to be christened. The greatest
pains had been taken with the packing, to exclude all air! At the
church door it emerged, tightly swaddled and lying on a lace
cushion, and was carried in by its papa, looking as if it came
straight from a 15th century picture. Interested ladies from the
hotel tried to assist in repacking it as before; but were gently
repelled by the godmother, a most sweet thing with a pensive little
face, who now arranged it quite differently, and threw the white
lace veil over the shawl and everything observing, "Bianca sopra,
adesso che e cristiana!" The cradle was strapped on her back and off
she went down the valley again.

. . . After living in a hotel full of Italians I fully understand
why St. Catherine shut herself in one room for three years--but it
wouldn't have been much good unless she had a soundproof door.

 Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, 1924.

To L.M.
 This seems a nice moment to answer your letter. . . . It is 2:30
and most deliriously hot and I am sitting in my room waiting for the
Umbrian Horse Show to begin its jumping competitions, as we look
right down on the ground--a very superior form of grandstand!

At 5 there is to be a Festa at St. Angelo beginning with a
confirmation, discourse by the Archbishop and Benediction, ending
with the illumination of the Church front and musica scelta by two

. . . We are having a simply lovely time and the weather is perfect.
The whole landscape seems soaked in light; and all I can think of is
Jacopone's Splendor che dona a tutto'l mondo luces, etc. He must
have thought of that on a day like one of these!

We drove to Todi yesterday. What a place! The only snag was I
couldn't get to see his tomb as the crypt was locked and not a soul
about. The picture of him, very chubby and curly and holding his
heart is simply detestable, I think. But it was something to be in
the Church he must have used and see the actual Piazza where Monna
Vanna fell.

In the morning we had been out to St. Francesco al Monte in search
of B. Egidio. Found his tomb all right; admitted after a long wait
by a very damp and rosy friar who had plainly executed a very
vigorous clean-up after our bell rang! I loved St. Bernardino's
little cell. Rather a desperate new picture of Egidio, painted by a
"signorina gentillissima" of Perugia and looking it, every inch.

 17 September, 1924.

 We are having a simply divine time here and I feel as if it is the
only complete holiday I have had for years--very hot, but not too
much so and the evenings and mornings are perfect. I got up at 5:30
this morning and arrived at St. Damiano just at sunrise for the sung
Mass, to-day being the Feast of the Stigmata. The lay congregation
consisted of half a dozen peasants, a few mosquitoes, and myself.
The friars sang very nicely and the celebrant had lovely white
vestments embroidered all over with stiff little roses, which I
thought just right. I could just see into the tiny little choir of
your patron saint, which with her little garden is one of the things
I love best. After breakfast we went up to the Carceri. Did you talk
to Fia Raffaele when you were there, and did he insist on playing
his harmonium to you because St. Francis loved music? I found him
most sympathetic and hard to get away from and he even gave me a few
leaves of the tree on which the birds sat when St. Francis talked to
them. I enclose one for you. He advises boiling them and drinking
the water in case of sickness but I hope to preserve mine intact!
. . . I enclose a few bits of wild thyme from the Carceri--the same
that were found still scattered all over St. Clare when her coffin
was opened. How nice it is for you to have an Assisan name. I am
carrying round a rosary for Rosa to all the shrines and collecting
powerful incantations--it will be very fully charged before we have

 Tuesday [1924].

 . . . Maria is all we felt. I got to the little station at 5
yesterday evening: it was just getting lovely after the heat; and
then drove in the little village cab through the most beautiful
country, olive woods and vineyards to the hills beyond: and just as
we neared the Rifugio Miss Turton and Maria met me and I walked up
with them. Maria and the Sisters have white cotton frocks, grey
linen aprons, the cord of St. Francis and sandals on their bare
feet. In chapel they have white aprons and white veils. Maria has
the most beautiful expression, strong and humble, and a low gentle
voice. I got quite a good deal of talk with her; it was wonderful to
find how exactly she and my Old Man* agree, in spite of great
differences in mind and language, in all the deep things of the
spiritual life. We talked a lot about X. ... Maria said her soul was
"always very present to her." I told her X. had been asking me to
increase the time she might give to prayer and asked her whether she
would give her more. She said at once with surprising decision and
authority, that instead of giving her more time, she would rather
make her reduce the time--that X. was "an immoderate soul" though
very good and humble, and had to "learn the way of simplicity" and
make her whole life a prayer instead of wanting long special times
for it. I said I felt less and less competent to direct her, and was
afraid of holding her back--but Maria said my holding her back was
"not only useful but necessary to X." It was just the same bracing
treatment that I have long been used to! though coming with such
gentleness. After we'd said a good deal more I asked her for
something for myself and she said, "In torment and effort, to serve
the brethren."

* Baron von Hugel.

They have a little shrine of Our Lady on the staircase and yesterday
evening we all said the Rosary there. Maria used your rosary as I
felt sure you would like that and Miss Turton mine and I hers. There
was an Italian priest there too, who came to meet me because he knew
my Old Man and years ago had been helped by him and owed him
everything, and so wanted to hear his latest news, and this morning
he said Mass in their tiny chapel, and Maria served, and she and the
little Sisters made their Communions. It was lovely and they sang
sweet little Italian hymns. They put in "Our Father St. Francis"
in the Confession, etc. and have special Franciscan collects, and
the Mass was for the unity of the whole Church.

My husband fetched me at lunch time and we motored here: a
wonderful old city built up the side of the mountain and full of old
buildings and Roman remains, but quite without the atmosphere of
Assisi, which it was very hard to leave!

Your rosary has been to every possible place I think, and ended by
being laid on the shrine of St. Clare, where she lies behind a
class, in her Abbess's dress, looking hardly changed from what she
was in life.

To-morrow we shall be in Rome, and in less than a fortnight home

. . . Maria loves Ruysbroeck too and was so delighted to hear how
much you cared for him, and for Dante--both of them her dearest

Dec. 26, 1924.

To L.M.
 The Baron has been awfully bad again and again rallied but not to
the point where he was before and can do very little now. However I
hear he is full of joy and peace--and that is what really matters
one feels.

How would you like to receive "from the . . . University, U.S.A." a
thickly typed questionnaire which you are requested to answer, on
religious experience for the benefit of "one of our choice students
who projects a work on mysticism?"

Some would make even a clergyman blush ("Do you feel God's presence
in prayer? If so, please give description and instance") and others
make a philosopher feel poorly ("Do you conceive the Cosmic Spirit
as an individual? If so, how? Give detailed illustrations"). I'm
keeping it for your entertainment when you come to London.

Holy Innocents' Day, 1924.
 (From bed.)

 Yesterday was much enlightened by a letter and Christmas parcel
from my darling little Fra Raffaele at the Carceri. I'd sent him a
tiny offering from notes left over from our Italian trip. . . .
"Most illustrious and beloved benefactress" seems a bit strong for
what works out at about 15/2 at the present exchange! I get also his
prayer that I may receive "all the true riches of Paradise" and his
"affectionate and paternal blessing" as a wind up! Accompanying this
was a night-light box containing a very nice silver medallion in a
case of the Crucifix and St. Francis embracing Our Lord; a silver
Cross with the benediction of St. Francis which Julie (Rose) will
wear at her 1st Communion; various other medals and crosses, a wee
rosary, a rich collection of cards and the dear man's own
photograph! You can imagine the excitement of unpacking them; they
seemed to bring a breath of Umbria right into the room. . . .

Jan 29, 1925.

 Just a hurried line to thank you for your note. Yes! we are so glad
the Baron has gone to God as he craved to do. It was "very peaceful"
and his last talk to G. at the end of the week, which she wrote down
and sent me, was so lovely and utterly himself--how delighted he was
to give himself to God and so grateful for being clear in mind and
without pain. How God was so generous to us and we ought not to be
niggardly in selfoffering. . . .

The Requiem is to-morrow, Friday, 11 o'clock. I feel he is awfully
strong and happy and very much with us.

Feb. 1, 1925.

 I loved what you said about the Baron--it has been a bit hard now
it has come, in spite of one's rejoicing for him. Lady Mary wrote me
such a kind and beautiful letter and said "nothing could have been
more tranquil and perfect than his death." There were lots at his
Requiem . . . the singing of the In Paradisian when they carried him
away, was almost too much. ...

I'm trying, with my heart in my mouth, to write a bit about the side
of him I knew for next week's Guardian, but quite anonymously: so
please know nothing if you should happen to be asked about it.* I
hear Professor Kemp Smith, his great friend, did the Scotsman. . . .
I did see about Sir James Mackenzie and feared much it was your
friend. I'm so sorry; it is hard when these supporting kind of
people are withdrawn. But they are so safe--and their influence goes
on radiating.

* This was reprinted in Mixed Pastures, p. 229.

Feb. 15, 1925.

 We went to Kew this morning and the Alpine house was a dream of
loveliness; wee cyclamen, primulas, blue anemones. And a sort of
American Mrs. . .. came to tea and examined me about Trance and the
Laws of the Universe and what not: and I said I knew nothing about
them: and she said, "But you have Concentrated along these Lines!"
The first I've heard of it anyhow. . ..

May 13, 1925.

 Pleshey was heavenly; though there was some rain, it was possible
to be a lot in the garden, which was full all day of the song of
birds: and at Compline a nightingale sang just outside the Chapel
window. ... I stayed an extra day--a great luxury--and came away
feeling much better in body for it all. . . .

I'm glad you like Grou; the Baron thought great things of him, and
belongs quite to his school. I love the ones on Spiritual Childhood,
Abandonment, the Use of our Imperfections and Communion: but they
are all the real stuff, aren't they? One can't go far wrong with
him. The Baron's very first published writing (when he was 39) was
an article on Grou's Spiritual Teaching. I was given a copy of it
the other day. . ..

May 15, 1925.

 I'm just off to address ... the Central House of the Mothers' Union
on the "value of Retreats"--the value being that once you are inside
a Retreat no one can speak to you! (At Pleshey, the last morning
some one said to me, "I've been so interested watching you"!)

I'm going to Appledore next week and I think to Devonshire for
Whitsuntide, a restless but agreeable life. Good-bye. Keep very
quiet and good. The only aspiration I can think of at the moment is
one you probably already have,

"Thou art in me and I in Thee: and thus assembled make us ever to
dwell together I pray Thee."

Yacht Wulfmna, Salcombe, S. Devon.
 Aug. 10, 1925.

 We are ambling down the coast, delayed by head winds and fogs--are
just returned from an adventurous effort to leave this place which
is neatly entrenched behind a bar and two reefs. When we got out the
fog descended on us like a blanket and as we felt our way back
again, abruptly lifted to show us a ledge of particularly nasty
rocks just in front of the bowsprit. The helm went hard down and we
just paid off in time and cleared them. Otherwise it would have been
the end of this poor old craft, as the tide was falling and there
was a nasty roll coming in. Our ancient skipper, who was responsible
for this error in pilotage, is now wearing what is called his
"stuffed monkey" expression!

Don't be in a hurry with your convert! it isn't everyone who is
equal to "giving themselves freely" at the beginning. Let her go
along gently, following her own attrait. She will probably do best
on a sugar diet for a little while and in due course find out for
herself that it isn't adequate.

. . . I've not put much in my Andrewes lately but am thinking of
the prayer on p. 187 of Grou's Meditations sur I'Amour de Dieu. Miss
Small gave me the suppressed verse of Bishop Ken's Evening Hymn
--rather sweet for ending night prayers:

The faster sleep the sense doth bind
 The more unfettered is the mind;
 O may my soul from matter free,
Thy Loveliness unclouded see!

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Aug. 14, 1925.

To W.Y.
 I was so very glad to hear from you and to know all that you tell
me in your letter.

Of course no "apology" was needed: but, when I saw you in London I
realized that there was, at the moment, nothing I could do for you
further until you had quieted down. Yes!--I am quite satisfied that
you have a genuine experience of God and surrendered to Him and that
whatever He may demand of you in the future, you must never go back
on that.

I would like to advise you at the moment, not to dwell too much on
theological difficulties, Christology, and so forth. Your
intellectual side is already sufficiently alert and does not need
stimulating! Feed your soul quietly on those things that are already
clear to you, but don't make theories etc. excluding the doctrines
which at present seem to you difficult or absurd. It is perfectly
right that your conception of God should be wider than your
conception of Christ. Surely He reveals to us not only God incarnate
in the time series, but God Eternal and unincarnate too? And so long
as you preserve your sense of the distinctness of God and don't wash
it all down into mere pantheism, it is all to the good that you
should be sensitive to His self-revelation in Nature. I think that
what you need here to get hold of more firmly, is the idea that this
revelation is not of the "all-or-none" sort, but graded; and that it
is one and the same living personal and loving Spirit whom we feel
dimly in nature, more vividly as the inspirer of human goodness and
heroism of all sorts, and perfectly (so far as our little souls can
bear it) in Christ.

All this will grow in you as you humanize and spiritualize your
experience; practising together prayer and the service of others,
especially children and the poor. I could wish your "institutional
connections" were with a sacramental type of religion, as this would
help you a great deal. Don't take it for granted that "lonely
prayers under the sky" will always mean much more to you. They will
doubtless always mean a great deal, but when corporate religion
gives you what it has to give you and you badly need--and this must
take time--you will find your private devotional life enriched and
steadied in a way you don't dream of now!!

Grand Hotel Lido, Lido, Venice.
4 September, 1925.

 . . . Cortina was exquisitely beautiful but terribly cold with a
piercing wind off the snow, so I'm rather glad to get down to sea
level again. There was a most horrible English church, so I had to
go to it: all the rigours of Continental Anglicanism--the parson
virile . . . with a bushy moustache--points which a rather nice R.C.
woman who had made friends with me, took pleasure in emphasizing!
She went to Mass at the parish church with lots of nice creatures in
Tyrolese dress, with broad ribbon streamers to their hats and bright
little fringed shawls.

The drive up from Bolzano was of course intensely exciting, nearly
all in curves and whirls along the edge of precipices. First
climbing up along narrow gorges lined with forest and then with
great Dolomites all round one, and dien more and more barren till at
9,000 ft. we came to the snow. So sweet to find nearly the whole
distance marked with wayside shrines--mostly crucifixes with the
little roofs on them, but sometimes the Madonna in a little house
with a door. I saw one woman on a very lonely hill, with a big
basket on her back, who had opened the door and was leaning inside,
just talking, and quite absorbed. I suppose the rational description
of this would be Gross Superstition of an Unenlightened Peasantry.

Saturday [19 September, 1925].

 . . . Our French pilgrimage has left, and a German one, 90 strong,
arrived to-day. I've discovered that the modern pilgrimage combines
the advantages of a Cook's Tour with those of an Ambulatory Retreat.
The French ones were rather sweet--when I went into my little church
on Thursday, it was full of them, priests saying Mass at all its
five little altars at once. I got a corner at one and found with
some pleasure that it was the same as that to which we gave our
candles at Mawnan Smith. Afterwards they all sang cantiques
unaccompanied and with much vigour, the favourite being a long
affair with the refrain "Nous voulons Dieu, c'est notre Roi." This
morning at 6 they all went away in 2 steamers side by side, singing.

There is an English church in Venice and by catching the
7:20 steamer to-morrow morning I can manage it, so must. Its
Programme suggests that it is more of our way of thinking than the
usual continental Chaplaincy effort: and anyhow there's High Mass at
St. Marco at 11:30 to finish up. St. Marco is a real, live church,
and a joy to be in--or would be if one could just stay put a bit and
leave off examining the works of art. In fact all the churches are
nice. We went to the Dominican one this afternoon and a dear little
friar, who somehow seemed to detect a sympathetic heart, lamented to
me about the decay of all taste for the mortified life--"Our old
friars are dying, and young ones do not come--they seem to prefer
the world. . . ."

Did you know St. Athanasius was buried here? I never did till now--
no guide-book lets it out. And to celebrate the Nicene Creed
Festival here, they took him out, and carried him with great
ceremony to St. Marco, and showed him to St. Mark! And the
Armenians, who are the most primitive type of Christians here and
have a little island and monastery of their own, carried him, and
said the Mass.

Sunday. I've just come back from Venice and had breakfast--rather a
lovely expedition really--we started in thick mist--Venice very
faintly looming up in rosy and golden haze as we crossed the lagoon.
The Grand Canal was like a Turner painting exactly and the Chiesa
Anglicana, hidden in a wee campo approached by a bridge over a tiny
canal, took some finding. Coming back the sun was out and all the
bells ringing and the great banners outside St. Marco had been hung
out, and carpets over the balconies of the Palaces. Now I'm going
back again to High Mass. It's very hot again to-day; I think we must
spend the afternoon on the water.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
Oct. 11, 1925.

To W.Y.
 Well! I think that you are, so to speak, getting on all right: and
the chief thing I desire for you is, that you should think about it
as little as possible! Your tendency is to be self-occupied and
self-analytical: but attending to God means above all self-oblivion,
doesn't it? Lose yourself in work for and interest in other people
and above all in thoughts of Him, of the humblest kind. I am so glad
you have taken up some work among children and are living a family
life--both excellent.

Yes--ambition and forecasting the future are certainly both bad for
you: just try day by day to respond to God, pray quite simply and
peacefully for light and support from Him, and don't be in a hurry.

Now as to institutionalism. When I said I desired for you a more
sacramental type of religion, the last thing I meant was "music,
beauty and liturgy." By all means have a taste of these from time to
time if they appeal to you--but please recognize them clearly for
what they are, the chocolate-creams of religion. By sacramentalism I
mean the humble acceptance of grace through the medium of things
--God coming into our souls by means of humblest accidents--the
intermingling of spirit and sense. This is the corrective--one of
the correctives--needed by your tendency to "loftiness"!

I sympathize with your determination to remain in your own Church at
present: but would you please make a rule, from now onwards, of
going to Communion at frequent and regular intervals? . . . at least
once a month, if once a fortnight, all the better. By this balanced
regime of sacramental acts, mental prayer, and love and service of
others, you will nourish and deepen your spiritual life better than
in any other way. If you want a book to use in connection with your
Communions I think there is nothing better than Book IV of the
Imitation of Christ--especially lovely in the old English
translation published in the Everyman series. Much of the Cloud is
beyond most of us! it is one of the books that keep on and on
revealing new depths, Reading and meditating on the N.T. as you have
been doing is of course excellent--and it is well as far as possible
to do this at the same time each day. For purely devotional reading
you might like St. Teresa's Way of Perfection. The best edition of
the Purgatorio for ordinary reading is, I think, the one in Dent's
Temple Classics, with Italian and English texts: or Anderson's verse
translation of the whole Divine Comedy is wonderfully good--I could
lend you this if you like, or other books? . . .

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 All Souls' Day, 1925

 I have liked your last two letters so much: the first I left
unanswered according to your orders,' but should like to say
something about the one that came to-day.

(1) Please at once check the habit of getting the bulb out of the
dark to see how it is getting on! It is impossible, and also
undesirable for you to judge your own progress. Just go along
simply, humbly, naturally, and when tempted to self-occupation of
this or any other sort, make a quiet act of trust in God. So long as
you care to go along under my advice, it is my job and not yours to
watch your soul and you may be quite sure I shall speak promptly
when I am dissatisfied! Your faults and old fixations are going to
give you lots of trouble for quite a long time and it's part of your
job not to get discouraged. You will be much stronger and more
useful to God in the end, for having had something to contend with.

(2) But do please distinguish between faults and temperamental bias.
There's nothing wicked in disliking current institutional religion
(except Holy Communion). You aren't and never will be a real
"institutional soul" and are not required by God to behave like one.
Your religion must of course have some institutional element, but it
is particularly important that this element should not be overdone;
and it certainly is not to be used as a penance. Therefore dismiss
all ideas of forcing yourself to go to the weekly prayer meeting
--it's not your attrait. I think a sufficient institutional rule for
you, is to go to Church always once on Sunday, and this should be to
Holy Communion by preference when obtainable. You have family
worship at home; and let that, and perhaps some occasional service
you may care to attend, suffice. I'd rather you gave, at present,
the time to your work with children and not the prayer meeting. The'
(quite natural) horror of seeming pious will wear off gradually as
you settle down into the joy and peace of your new life.

I wonder whether you realize the extraordinary support and grace you
have been given in your home atmosphere? The bulb has been put in
the dark in a room with central heating so to speak, instead of the
usual cold shed. I did so love all you said about your mother and
wish I could know her. She must be the greatest of helps to you and
of course can solve all your tangles if you talk to her freely--she
no doubt knows all about them all the while. There's nothing more
lovely is there than such a perfect Christian old age.

I'm glad you liked Baron von Hugel's Essays. He was the most
wonderful example of wisdom, sanctity and depth of soul that I
suppose our generation is likely to see and had faced all the
difficulties of a highly trained and uncompromising intellect and
vehement nature. You cant have better spiritual reading of the
intellectual sort than his works: for the heart, though not on the
surface, is diere as well as the head--and no one I should think
ever sought more persistently for the perfect humility you long for.

Dec. 22, 1925.

To V.W.
 I do so hope that Christmas will bring peace and healing in its
wings. ... I know you are willing to accept everything, which takes
away the worst of the sting--what the Baron used to call "being
cross with our Crosses." He has one lovely bit about "Gentle
attempts gently to will whatever suffering God may kindly send us:
the grand practice of at once meeting suffering with joy. God alone
can help us to succeed in this: but what is Christianity if it be
not something like this?"

 Jan 4 [1926].

To W.Y.
 My own idea about Prayer is, that it is far more rich and complex
and far more of a "force" than either Heiler or Cairns suggests. And
because it is a spiritual force implanted by God, it is a duty to
use it in prayer for others, as well as in direct Communion with

Whether in so doing we pray for material benefits for others depends
really on the importance we attach to material things. So too with
illness (Prayer for the King, etc.): where sincere and generous and
not just a formula, such prayer will be an agent of God, a
co-operation with Him for the King's good whatever that good may be;
and will be a support to His merely human forces in their fight with

I think that we are partially free and that our freedom includes a
spiritual freedom and power over circumstance, though always of
course penetrated and overruled by God. Therefore prayer asking God
to intervene, is a real and free act; extending the area within
which His intervention can take place. I more or less agree with
Cairns in this; though personally I shouldn't use this power much in
respect of material goods and events. But then different people are
called to quite different sorts of prayer. It's one more case of the
fact that in religion our exclusions are nearly always wrong, and
our inclusions, however inconsistent, nearly always right.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Sep. 17 [1926].

 I'm so sorry for you. Yes--of course it is a Cross, but calling
things by a special name does not make them any less hard at the
moment, does it? The thing is, that blows of this sort--or indeed
any sort--that are partly directed at our self-esteem, can be taken
either in a way that embitters us or a way that purifies us. It is
up to us to decide which! And the way to make them purifying so that
they help our ultimate growth as few other things can, is so far as
we can, willingly to accept them as sent to us and then not to let
ourselves brood on them or suck the last drop of disappointment,
etc., out of them, but to turn right away from the subject towards
God. This is a really difficult prescription I know--but do try to
do it--then you will preserve your sense of proportion and get
tranquillity and strength in the only way we really can get them--
and there will be no fear of this temporary set-back making you ill.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 25 Oct., 1926.

To A.B.
 I have read your letter and considered it carefully. It is of
course always very difficult to advise anyone whom one has not seen.
But it certainly does seem to me that the reason why you remain as
you say frustrated and without peace, is exactly because of that
doubleness in yourself which you describe. You alternate between
your "dream" and the "muddy stream of doubt and fear." And when the
"dream" isn't actually present to consciousness, as it never is
continuously even to the most advanced, you lose hold of it, and let
yourself be swamped in the current of lower life. To be able to pray
"in spirit" in the way you wish is, after all, a great grace from
God and is the continuous lot of very few. We all have to go through
plenty of blank and dreary times--it is part of the discipline of
the spiritual life, isn't it? I think, what is asked of you is (1) a
definite act of faith, a refusal of the temptations to doubt, etc.
--a willed confidence in God, and (2) a gentle acquiescence in the
way that He leads you, altogether apart from what you want.

You speak in your last letter of "church," and I am wondering what
your ecclesiastical position is, and, e.g., whether you are a
Communicant and the sacraments mean much to you. Because this, in
which we can do little or nothing and much is done to us, is exactly
the sort of spiritual practice which should feed and help you. It
puts the emphasis on God, not on our awareness; and reminds us that
the "lover and keeper of the soul" has us quite safely whether we
realize Him or not, and in sua voluntate e nostra pace. Do try to
drop, or turn away from thoughts of your blindness and dumbness, and
all agitated striving; be content, till God gives you another kind
of prayer, to practise the sort you can do, and do it quietly and
steadily, by rule, at the same time each day. If you act thus, I
think you will gradually find the dream will grow steadier, the fear
and the doubt will fade. Do not expect quick results. It is a wholly
new attitude which you have to form. And remember always, the
initiative is not with you, but with God. It is for you to follow
bit by bit where He guides.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 21 November, 1926.

 I am very sorry you find the idea of humility depressing! because
really you know it is perfect freedom, and no more depressing than
playing on the nursery floor. What is really depressing you, I
think, is that you are straining, perhaps unconsciously, after
something which is not in God's purpose for you yet. After all there
are many stages in the spiritual life, aren't there? And it is for
Him not you to decide on the time you remain in each. I am sure God
has something to teach us in every situation in which we are put,
and through every person we meet: and once we grasp that, we cease
to be restless, and settle down to learn where we are.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 March 8 [1927].

To W.Y.
 Thank you so much for the beautiful tulips . . . that lovely mauve
shade with very pale green leaves and looking their best in a dark
blue jar. They were particularly comforting as I am imprisoned with
"flu" not bad luckily as I have to go to Pleshey on Friday to
conduct a Retreat. I will be very grateful if you and your mother
and sister will pray for it.

As to what you say about the difficulties the Cross presents to you
--the simple explanation is, that you are not yet grown up enough
spiritually to understand it. Leave it alone and be content with the
truths God has shown you--there is plenty of food there for your
soul, without risking ghostly indigestion by trying mysteries which
are at present too big for you. It is only disguised pride which
makes us fret over what we can't understand! You see it is true; and
that is already a grace: so be content, and go on quietly! cf. the
meditation in Pere Charles about the soul that will keep starting up
and bounding into the air and never keeps quiet enough to make a
resting-place for God. . . .

Yacht Wulfruna.
 1 August, 1927.

To A.B.
 . . . You have made me understand your whole position ever so much
more clearly by what you have told me; and I do thank you for your
frankness and confidence. Very often one feels one is floundering in
the dark when trying to help people, because there is some vital
situation in the background which has not been disclosed. Now I know
just where you are and also that you have (or have been given
rather) the courage to do the right thing, in cutting this
friendship out of your life. I know in such cases it seems a hard
and even cruel thing to do or advise. But the fact remains that a
competing emotional interest though technically "innocent" can't be
kept in one's life once one has given oneself to God. This very
friendship may, later, return to you in the tranquil and purified
form in which all one's human loves can be woven into the substance
of the spiritual life. But as things are now, I am sure you are
right in feeling that a clean cut is the only way. The fruit of all
you experienced at Pleshey really hangs on your willingness to make
the first definite sacrifice asked: and that you have made it, is
the best of guarantees for your future steadiness. Moreover the pain
you quite naturally dread won't be, in the event, so hard as it
looks now. It is the willingness to suffer God asks. When we accept
that, His grace comes with the pain and mysteriously takes away the
real bitterness. Once the thing is done, you will know a new
serenity, far better worth having than what you have given up: and
all that is true and pure in this friendship will live on as a
spiritual and unbreakable link and influence even through many years
of silence and separation. Now as to your future course:

(1) I don't think you should, at present anyhow, try to "go on
alone." You must expect ups and downs, difficulties, etc.--and it is
much better you should have someone to whom you can tell them and
who can look at your situation in a detached way. So I hope you will
continue to write when you feel it is necessary.

(2) Yes, I am sure your feeling that you should do some kind of
spiritual work is sound and there is no reason to think that what
you are most drawn to (Intercession and Healing) is unsuitable. On
the contrary, other things being equal, one should always first try
to follow one's spiritual attrait; though moderately and gradually,
not exclusively and vehemently! So go gently in this direction, in
the way and degree in which God suggests and opens ways for you, but
balance it by your personal communion with Our Lord, in prayer,
sacraments and reasonable voluntary renunciations.

(3) (Of great importance.) Develop and expand the wholesome, natural
and intellectual interests of your life--don't allow yourself to
concentrate on the religious side only. Remember all life comes to
you from God, and is to be used for Him--so live in it all, and so
get the necessary variety and refreshment without which religious
intensity soon becomes stale and hard. . . . You will in this way
retain, in the long run, far more of the sense of God's Presence
than you would get from feverish concentration on it. Religious
fervour eludes us when we chase it; but creeps back unawares. It is
crucial that you should get these truths firmly fixed in your mind
now, as they will have to govern your conduct (and so your growth)
for years to come.

God bless you.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Tuesday [? 1927].

 ... As to what you say about prayer--the Baron always taught that
"very delightful prayer" was far more exhausting than one realized
and must be dealt with carefully; and it was usually wise to do
rather less of it than one felt drawn to. With your health I am
almost certain he would say, obey the instinct which warns you not
to let yourself go--and this discipline will really be better for
your soul than any experience you may miss through self-restraint. I
do not think this is at all want of trust in God. He expects us to
behave with common-sense even in regard to His graces doesn't He? On
the other hand my Bishop [Dr. Frere] says, "if our Lord calls you to
Bethany, go to Bethany and never be afraid of His closer visiting."
But that I think is rather different from what you mean.

 Thursday, August 13th [? 1927].

 I loved your letter, and always love it when you talk about the
real things--there are so very few to whom one can speak of them,
and I feel that is one of the most precious parts of our friendship
when you do say those things, though I should never press you, or
anyone else, to do so. Your Sister Helen must be a most beautiful
soul; I should love to know her--it is nice, isn't it? that you and
she have found each other. And although she has the sorrow of not
being accepted as a Sister, in such a case as hers it can't make
very much difference, for she will always lead a consecrated life.

Did I ever tell you about a Brother, who, although a most wonderful
scholar, was refused as a priest and choir-monk because he is too
small to celebrate at the altar--almost a dwarf. It nearly broke his
heart. But he became a lay brother instead and does all the hardest
and most menial work he can find, and is "the servant of all."

Z. . . . has quieted down, and got far far more gentle and
humble-minded and as a consequence is beginning to find things out.
She says now she has been desperately unhappy for over two years
because she wanted God so much and couldn't find Him; and realizes
it was her own pride that shut her off. That she used to hate the
text "Blessed are the meek"! and now the one she loves best of all
is "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart." Isn't that
lovely? I feel so happy about it, for she is difficult and I had
been wondering very much what was happening in her soul. She has
been re-reading St. John's Gospel and that has cleared up her
difficulties about Our Lord, she says. Isn't it wonderful the quick
progress souls make when once God lays His hand on them?

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 22 October, 1927.

To A.B.
 You have made your choice and a brave sacrifice, which I do not
under-estimate: and now, when the natural pain of the wound subsides
a little, God will gently and firmly build you up in your new life.
As Huvelin said: "We are detached in order to be attached to
something better, not to fall into a hole!" And the suffering you
have faced can all be offered to God, can't it? It is of the very
stuff of prayer--there is no such thing for a Christian as a vain
sacrifice. I think you are at present too disturbed to see your
"light"--but hold on--and peace will return and will find you
stronger than before.

Dec. 6, 1927.

To L.M.
 Your wonderful box came this afternoon and was unpacked with great
excitement! How can I school the Rebellious Flesh to Sackcloth and
Ash ideals when I'm given things like this?

Very glad there's happier news of you and that you are resigned to
lying quite still and practising patience in the 3rd degree. When I
have had to do it, among other dodges to pass time, I've made
Alphabets of Saints and had a look at each one in turn and asked
each for a "grace." It makes a picturesque sort of litany to live

I go for my whole day at Lloyd Square convent on Friday. . . . My
last reviewer (Quaker) says I "share the biased views of my friend
von Hugel"!--an accusation I feel I can bear!

Tony sends his love to G. He is getting quite a Cat and is very
sinful but no one seems to mind. Next Thursday afternoon I have to
be formally received as a Fellow of King's College, it being
Commemoration Day--awful occasion! and a Dinner afterwards!

Friday night

 The show at King's College came off yesterday and was even more
alarming than I had thought, as I was the first Fellow to be
admitted and after running the gauntlet of the great Hall and
intense curiosity of the undergraduates, had to walk up alone to the
platform and stand in the open while the Dean who presented me
expatiated on my career and qualifications--ending, to the joy of
all present, by saying that I enlivened my leisure by talking to

The Principal received me as "exponent of mysticism and poet" which
surprised me a good deal. The college dinner that evening was
however great fun, nearly 200 there. I sat at the theology table,
between X. and Y. and managed to be quite polite when they talked of
"superstition." But oh! how completely these intellectualists miss
the bus!

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
January, 1928.

To A.B.
 Be careful and don't attempt early Celebrations when it means risk
and over-fatigue. I am sure it is more pleasing to God that we
should be reasonably prudent in such things and treat the bodies He
has given us with respect, than follow at the risk of illness our
own devotional inclinations. So there!! I would like you to get to
look at the Sacraments in as objective a way as you can; and realize
that the gift is always made to you, whether you feel it or not. I
allow the early morning is far best from our point of view, but
after all God is outside time, isn't He, and never refuses His grace
if we are faithful? And in the same way about prayer--I would not
feel troubled, or strain after more comprehension because it seems
to you that you know very little yet. We all know very little, but
the way to know more is to practise very gently what we have. So I'm
not going to tell you anything special to do during the next seven
weeks: only to exercise quite a simple, loving trust as towards God,
and realize He is moulding and leading you and it is His job far
more than yours! Try and see your ordinary daily life as the medium
through which He is teaching your soul, and respond as well as you
can. Then you won't need, in order to receive His lessons, to go
outside your normal experience. So too the type of prayer best for
you is that to which you feel drawn in your best and quietest times
and in which it is easiest to you to remain with God. Whether you do
or don't use words or books is not very important. But there should
be confidence and self-surrender in it, and of course prayer and
self-offering for those you love and who need you.

 Sep. 11, 1928.

To L.M.
 I must write you a line from here in the interval between our
very late dinner and crawling to bed!

We have had such a wonderful day and not yet seen St. Joseph's which
we shall to-morrow morning. Got here late last night and owing to
the unspeakable noisiness of Spanish nights I overslept myself and
did not get to Mass which was very sad.

But we went down to the Encarnacion directly after breakfast and
luckily fell in with a young American Jesuit, speaking perfect
Spanish, who helped us a lot. It is a pale, rosy-brown place, very
Italian externally with flat tiled roofs and a big walled garden
with trees. You go into a little court with a splendid old vine
which must have been there in Teresa's day and then into the actual
parlours she used, with the original grilles from behind which she
talked to St. Peter of Alcantara and St. John of the Cross. The
Church has been much enlarged, the site of the old Dormitory,
including her cell, having been thrown into it and of course
horribly decorated--but the west end is still as in her day. I think
perhaps the most affecting thing is the little grille at which St.
John of the Cross sat to hear her confessions, she being of course
within enclosure.

The door into the choir through which the nuns receive communion is
the one she used and where she had the vision of the Spiritual
Betrothal. A very bad picture commemorates this--in fact, a good
deal has to be passed over lightly!

Then we went up into another series of parlours and saw a selection
of relics; and two Carmelites came to the grille and talked to our
Jesuit and asked if C. and I would not like to become nuns as they
had "plenty of room." They were by no means closely veiled! and
seemed very pleased to have some conversation and drew a curtain
which allowed us to see into the cloister where large stuffed
figures of the Saint and the Holy Child marks the scene of the
episode "I am Jesus of Teresa."

13th. I went to Mass at the Encarnacion this morning; such a divine
walk down from the walls, with early morning light on the mountains.
There were two other women in the big, bare church and of course the
nuns behind the grille. They sang the O Salutaris and then the
priest walked down to the west end and gave each Communion through
the little gold door Teresa used. Then they sang the Tantum ergo and
we had Mass. It was really lovely.

After breakfast we went to St. Joseph and spoke to a very gay
Carmelite through the turn-table, who again suggested we had better
become nuns, and then asked if we were Catholic or Protestant. On
C.'s struggling to describe herself as Anglo-Catholic the nun said
she only understood Catolica! Catolica!

We were then shown the original Chapel of St. Joseph where the first
Mass was said and the first nuns took their vows and then the
relics, including Teresa's little drums and pipes in perfect
preservation, her leather belt, one of her letters and one of her
bones! At the Casa Santa where the room she was born in is turned
into a Chapel, the friar who showed us round let me hold her rosary
in my hand.

The whole town seems almost what it must have been in her time. You
see the covered mule carts in which she travelled at every turn; the
peasants are still mostly in old costume, mules in paniers and the
ox waggons quite unchanged.

All water is still carried from the public fountains in great Roman
jars balanced on the women's hips. Altogether it is a dream of a
place and ranks next after Assisi. You must come here. The
accommodation is quite decent and we like the Spanish food. The
weather keeps splendid; a real southern sun but a bright air. We
have put in an extra day so will not get to Toledo till Saturday I

St. Jean de Luz.
 Sept. 24, 1928.

 We are having a few days' complete sloth before returning home, sea
and sun and nothing to do ... very reviving after Spain which was
rather too much for H. and me. . . .

Toledo is marvellous. Nothing Teresian there but her convent (Church
rebuilt) and one tooth which I refused to see! also the great
fortress-like house of Carmelite Friars, grim enough to make prisons
for a dozen inconvenient saints. But the Moorish things--the two
mosques they turned into churches but now are kept empty and mosquey
again, and the exquisite synagogue built by Moorish workmen for a
Jewish merchant whom the Inquisition polished off later on--are
simply lovely and so are the Mozarabic towers and the mediaeval
walls and gates. The streets, with very few exceptions are Oriental
alleys between high walls and have donkey traffic only--the paniers
touching the houses and sweeping all before them.

Everywhere one finds lovely little courts with azulejo and old
pillars and galleries quite unchanged.

We went to the Mozarabic Mass. I had not been able to get a
description of it so could not follow all the eleven points of
difference though some were obvious, e.g. the Epiklesis, loudly and
distinctly repeated after the words of Consecration, the offering up
of the elements at the very beginning of the service, the Pax given
all round, a quite different arrangement of the Canon in short bits,
a highly ceremonial washing of hands with a big jug and basin and
above all, a startling savage howl uttered by the choir at the end!
they did it again at Vespers! Most peculiar!

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Nov. 6 [1928].

To W.Y.
 Yes, I agree with you, that Christ gives Himself eternally--that
is, through His self-giving God comes into the soul whether we know
it or not. Holy Communion is one of the great ways we actualize this
and also give ourselves in our turn, to be used in the Divine work
of redeeming the world.

These modernists are very useful in translating religious truth into
current language, broadening the basis of faith, etc., but they are
curiously deficient it seems to me in simplicity.

I think the old woman who could in the Sacrament realize "my Jesus"
was spiritually far in advance of the theologians who argue about

I do hope you are better again and back with your children. I had to
address a big meeting of S.S. teachers the other day! such nice
young things. I talked mostly about sheep-dogs!

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Aug. 4, 1929.

To Z.A.
 . . . I am very glad indeed that the Psalms and St. Augustine
suited you so well and I hope you will go on using those for "daily
food" while extending your reading in other directions. One never, I
find, exhausts them, in fact the more familiar one gets with them,
the more spiritual treasures they reveal. I was interested in what
you said (about St. Augustine's "cosmic experience" because it shows
so well just where you are and the direction in which you want to

Of course it was the insufficiency of this experience--true enough
as far as it goes--which compelled him to become Christian. It
lacked the personal love and obligation to a personal God, the real,
heart-breaking penitence and longing for a costly perfection that
comes with the recognition that Christ is not just "perfect man,"
but the very character of God self-revealed in human ways and
appealing to the free love and will of man.

When Augustine said of Neo-platonism, "How could these books have
taught me Charity?" he put it in a nutshell. At his conversion, he
didn't just sanctify, but went clean beyond the "higher pantheism"
to a personal relationship that taught him humility and love.

I think without at present struggling with dogmas of atonement,
meditation, etc., which won't mean anything to you yet, you should
face the fact that "Christ as the ideal which in the course of
evolution man may become"--is not Christianity. Christianity says
that in Christ God comes to man--enters the time process. As von
Hugel says somewhere "the essence of religion is not development
from below, but a golden shower from above."

I can't remember now whether you told me you'd read von Hugel or
not. If not, do try his little Life of Prayer and his volume of
Letters and see how you feel about them. There's a new book just
out, Dogma in History and Thought, edited by W. R. Matthews, which I
think will clear your mind about actual doctrines, especially
Professor Relton's article at the end. And I think, if you don't
know them, Bishop Gore's Belief in God and Belief in Christ. All
these are by first-rate scholars but of course definitely Christian.
My own idea is that it is really better to face up at once to what a
genuinely Catholic religious philosophy teaches, than to temporize
with half-Christian pantheistic-immanentist books. . ..

By all means report on what you think of any of the above you do
read. In fact I think that is essential at present if I am to be of
any use to you. You are perfectly right in thinking that you have
got to make the transition from "God in everything" to "Everything
in God"--If "Christ gave Himself for me" is difficult--perhaps
Christ as a Bridge between the Divine and the Natural (and this is
St. Catherine of Siena's image) isn't so difficult? Don't be
troubled because you do not feel these things emotionally--the focus
of religion is will, not feeling, isn't it? Try, gently without
strain, to turn your Psalms and your own thoughts and desires into
prayers. Simple acts of communion with God--and if and when that
experience of silent peace you describe returns, accept and remain
in it gratefully, but don't deliberately force it. Remember God is
acting on your soul all the time, whether you have spiritual
sensations or not. I hope you will write again as soon as you feel
inclined and have the opportunity.

Yacht Wulfruna.
 Aug. 26, 1929.

 I am so sorry to be late in answering your last letter. . . . There
are just one or two points I would like to say something about now.

(1) It isn't a bit surprising that you find the Psalms and even your
own attempts to develop personal prayer, an "exercise" rather than
an "experience." One has to make up one's mind to submit to
training, including the drudgery of training; nor is one's spiritual
state ever to be measured in terms of feeling and conscious
experience. This is where the corporate religious life comes in as
such a support. You will find concentration difficult, and prayer
and the things of the spirit will often seem unreal. Nevertheless,
if persevered in, all those things will gradually train and expand
your soul, as certainly as gymnastics train the body.

(2) Books. By von Hugel's Letters I did mean the big volume if you
can get hold of it. I think some of the more philosophical ones will
interest you and help you and make a preparation for his Eternal
Life. Other useful books I think I didn't mention are Temple's Mens
Creatrix and Christus Veritas and Otto's Idea of the Holy. If you
like my Life of the Spirit perhaps you would find its successor Man
and the Supernatural a help. Anyhow I have said what I could there
about the relation of Christ to God and the soul's life to both.
Christianity would surely not be "nullified" but victorious by the
coming of the Kingdom?--the mystical body of the Incarnation "would
then be conterminous with humanity"--redemption would then be an
achieved fact? . . . The time is hardly come for giving up your work
in order to think things out. It seems to me God is arousing and
working on your soul--and it is better to go quietly on, working,
thinking and praying as much as you can manage without strain and
remaining very docile in His hands. But if you could somewhat reduce
your work so as to have more leisure of mind and heart that would be
a very great help.

Sunday, 15 September, 1929.

 We had a wonderful day at Chinon yesterday--started with a white
autumn fog over the river, and ghosts of poplars standing up in it
--and through a hazy forest, till just as we reached Chinon it
cleared, and we had a lovely afternoon: walked up St. Joan's old
paved track to the Castle, saw the tower she stayed in and the ruins
of the chapel she used, and--in the church where she received the
sacraments before seeing the King--lighted two candles at her altar.
It's quite a nice district for saints. We went to St. Martin's tomb
at Tours (more candles) and at a tiny old dead place called Candes,
at the confluence of the Vienne and Loire, found a miraculously
beautiful Angevin church, built over the cell in which he died.
To-day we went to Fontevrault over a villainous road which nearly
made us seasick! Recovered we had a wonderfully good lunch at the
village drinkshop, which looked impossible but where the gendarme
insisted, rightly, that we should "eat very well"; and then saw the
abbey and cloisters and the tombs of the Plantagenets, all mixed up
now with a large prison and entered via the police station: but a
glorious piece of architecture. The abbey did have three floors of
cells in it but everything has been cleared out. It has one of the
most lovely Romanesque apses I ever saw but it looks unhappy without
an altar in it. Very few people seem to go and see it compared with
the other places, though it is really far more lovely and
interesting than these Renaissance chateaux created by kings for the
use of bad lots. I could not get any photographs or postcards of it,
or of the "lanterne des morts" near the parish church--the only one
we have seen. The whole district is stuffed with wonderful old
things, ignored by the guidebooks, so that one never knows what one
is going to find: most exciting.

Rather a nice little hotel here, with a half yard, half garden
(described as Jardin enorme avec boscage) in which we have all our
meals. Last night a French couple arrived in a motor, travelling
with two charming cats, one aged 15 and one 9, whom they had trained
to motoring and always took everywhere with them! Of course we made
great friends and I had all the cats' domestic arrangements
explained to me in fullest detail!

Nice inscription found in the church at Chinon: "Que les chretiennes
aient le bon gout de s'approcher a l'autel avec les levres au
nature! s.v.p."!

 Sunday night [23 Sept., 1929].

 We came here to-day from Beaugency; having lunch at Orleans which
is a dull hole, except for the Cathedral and its associations with
St. Joan. A great statue of her stands behind the High Altar now,
and at her feet is buried the Cardinal Archbishop who got her
canonized--and quite a nice figure of him kneeling at her feet. The
whole place is full of memories of her and makes up for a surfeit of
altars trimmed with paper roses for the Little Flower, who meets one
in every church.

Nice little hotel here with 5 cats and a lovely fluffy white rabbit,
who has a day hutch in the cour and a night hutch in the kitchen,
which glows with burnished copper and provides very good food, of
the normal French kind. Some of our food has been far from normal. I
think our most startling meal was at the Hotel of the Fairy Melusine
at Lusignan: Radishes--large dish of mussels (refused and exchanged
for 2 fresh sardines!)--fried pigs' trotters (one each)--pork chops
and saucissons--cheese--grapes. The Fairy Melusine's view of knives
and forks was of course very economical--and as to her ideas of
sanitation!!! She was run hard by St. Savin, where dejeuner began
with two little baked potatoes each, and went on to ham and

But St. Savin had the most miraculous Romanesque Abbey Church, still
full of its original 11th and 12th century frescoes. I don't suppose
anything so exciting as that will happen now, as we are on beaten
tracks. We think of going to Les Andelys to-morrow and thence to

Feb. 21, 1930.

To ---.
 Thank you very much for your letter. I gather from it that you are
still much too concerned with the question of your own "progress" (I
wish you could forget for quite a year that this word exists!) too
anxious, too impatient. It is quite impossible for any of us to
measure ourselves and estimate our progress. Our job, having found
the path we honestly believe God wishes us to follow, is to go
quietly on with it and leave the results to Him! This may seem a
hard saying but it's the only way to keep self-occupation out.

I don't think during this period of transition you can reasonably
expect to be creative or constructive in your work. You will have to
wait for that till things settle themselves a bit. Of course it is
to the good that you have ceased, as you say, protesting against
life--so long as one does that, there can be no question of
spiritual growth. Don't strain yourself in the effort to formulate
and understand things, as a result of your reading. Very likely X.
is too advanced for you at present--if so, quietly leave on one
side the things in which you can't follow without floundering. The
same applies to formal meditation, though the gentle effort to apply
your mind to some New Testament scene or saying of Our Lord, etc.,
is probably a good discipline. In all you do, think, or pray about,
throw the whole emphasis on God--His work in your soul, His call to
you--the fact that you only exist, from moment to moment, by His Act
and your whole raison d'etre is to praise, reverence and serve Him.

5 May, 1930.

To A.B.
 . . . I am so glad your retreat this time brought you sunshine and
peace. Those "times of consolation" are lovely, and refreshing--but
in the nature of things they cannot be continuous. That you should
have a reaction is not a proof that you "go wrong"--but if you "go
to bits" as it were when the light is withdrawn, then that shows you
relied on it too much, and that your spiritual life is still based
too much on feeling and not enough on will. It is your natural
temperament, I think, to fly backwards and forwards between depths
and heights! Try gently and gradually to get into the centre of your
picture not your experiences, needs, aspirations--but just God's
Will for you whatever it is; and make your chief practice a quiet
self-offering to Him, to be used His way, and if He pleases without
any "experience" at all. To be a tool, a channel for His work on ...
all you touch. And just leave yourself out. You can perfectly well
trust Him to attend to your interests if you are faithful in
attending to His. So your chief prayer must not be to "see Him first
and always" but to be useful to Him first and always! I think you
will find this practice tends to steadiness and peace--and it is
only in steadiness and peace we really draw nearer God. The
emotional cravings for Him you describe in your letter are perfectly
natural--but not necessarily spiritual! And they actually operate
like the "law of reversed effort" against the realization of the
Presence of God.

At The Quillet, Appledore.
 May 14, 1930.

To Z.A.
 It has been in my mind for some little time to write to you and say
how much I hope you are getting on all right and not concentrating
too fiercely on religious problems! I feel with you, especially just
at present, that it is most necessary to keep your human,
non-theological contacts and interests supple and alive. Kindly acts
of service, firm discipline of your tendency to judge other people,
to look at them and their views critically, etc., and all kinds of
humble work in which you can forget yourself, are all things which
will do most to make your soul fit to realize Christ. So do keep up
all your general interests, mix with people, love them, but don't
try to "do them good" or discuss religion with them! All this will
make a better preparation for you:' Retreat than reading religious
books and thinking of your soul. If any of your work is uncongenial,
seize on that and do it with special zest as something you can offer
to God, and act on the same lines with people. The Retreat is only a
fortnight off now, and then I shall look forward to seeing you.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 May 20, 1930.

 Thank you very much for your letter. . . . This is only to say that
the last thing I wish for you is that you should be badgered or
hustled into the Church. As to whether "I shall make you a
"thorough-going Catholic"--I hope I shall never try to make you any
particular thing! My job is simply to try and help you to find out
what God wants you to be, and what will help and support your
particular type of soul in His service. I certainly hope you will be
confirmed and become a regular communicant--as to Confession it may
or may not be for you. Wait and see. And meanwhile be as humble,
peaceful and interested in your daily jobs and surroundings as you

 June 12, 1930.

To Y.L.
 Last night we were out till nearly 10 (it was quite light with a
glorious sky) driving slowly along the lanes looking for creatures.
We found a charming adolescent plover, like a miniature ostrich,
taking his first walk and very nervous and of course many
kitten-rabbits bent on suicide....

Now to business.

(1) Anyone can "lead a prayer-life," i.e. the sort of reasonable
devotional life to which each is called by God. This only involves
making a suitable rule and making up your mind to keep it however
boring this may be.

(2) If dryness and distractions have you in their clutches just now,
fall back on the Divine Office. Say Prime or Terce in the morning,
Vespers or Compline at night, with the intention of joining the
great corporate prayer of the Church. You will then be making acts
of Adoration, Penitence, etc., though probably not feeling them,
which is another story and much less important. You can also offer
your prayers, obedience and endurance of dryness to Our Lord, for
the good of other souls--and then you have practised intercession.
Never mind if it all seems for the time very second-hand. The less
you get out of it, the nearer it approaches to being something worth
offering--and the humiliation of not being able to feel as devout as
we want to be, is excellent for most of us. Use vocal prayer and use
it very slowly trying to realize the meaning with which it is
charged and remember that anyhow you are only a unit in the Chorus
of the Church and not responsible for a solo part so that the others
will make good the shortcomings you cannot help.

Helford Passage, Mawnan Smith, Cornwall.
 Aug. 21, 1930.

To Z.A.
 . . . Thank you so much for your letter. ... I send this book,
which seems to me very good,* and I think may interest you,
especially the parts towards the end, bearing on the Eucharist. It
really is religious, which so few theological books are! . . .

* Hicks, E. C., The Fullness of Sacrifice.

I am so glad you feel you are now getting more hold of the power of
prayer.--No! I don't mind your continued lack of emotional feeling.
This is a pleasant stimulus but not the real foundation and there is
always a risk at the beginning of mistaking fervour for faith. You
are building more solidly without it and will be the better able to
use it when it comes. God knows His job better than we do and will
give you what you need at the right time. Your will and perseverance
are already proofs of love--all the more worth offering because you
are not getting any pleasure out of it! Keep calm and all will be
well. Let me know where you are going to be for your confirmation,
won't you? and when you intend to make your First Communion?

Hartland, N. Devon.
 Sep. 2, 1930.

 Thank you so much for your letter. I do wish I could be with you on
Sunday in the flesh as I shall be in the spirit: but Francis will
take care of you [her confirmation]--and it will be I hope the
beginning of much and ever-increasing strength, peace and happiness.
I am glad you go straight to the Convent. You realize they are very
advanced Anglo-Catholics and the whole routine is monastic. . . .
They keep silence in the mornings and at meals; so you will have as
much quiet as you like. But I do beg you not to attempt to spend all
the time in prayer and devotional reading! Just be quiet and
grateful--don't strain yourself or try to whip-up emotion. . . .

As to devotional preparation, Psalms viii and cxvi, St. John vi and
xv, the Fourth Book of the Imitation, especially chaps. 7, 8, and 9
. . . will give you enough to choose from. Don't be disappointed if
you don't feel anything--no one can tell you beforehand whether you
will or not--but even though you should feel cold or dry or baffled,
this does not affect the main point: which is that Our Lord comes to
your soul to feed you, not to give you sensations and you come to
offer Him your whole self, not just your emotional life.

I like to think of the Sacraments as points where the supernatural
penetrates and transforms the natural world--and truly gives itself
to us, under an apparently natural form, so that we can receive It
as we could not do in Its spiritual essence alone. So that humble
receptivity and faithfulness is the main thing asked of us--and
however imperfect our dispositions, that does not diminish the
fullness and beauty of the divine gift, or the reality of the
Presence which is there just the same, whether we feel it or not.
. . .

I'm glad you like Dr. Hicks' book. It impressed me very much. I am
sure you will find his teaching on the Eucharist a help: partly
because he doesn't try to explain too much but leaves the fringe of
mystery intact.

I do so hope those coming days will be full of great blessings and
the deepest kind of joy.

This little Franciscan Cross was blessed at Assisi and had the
benediction of St. Francis on it. I thought perhaps you would like

Sept. 10, 1930.

 . . . The Sacrament of penance in its reality is an awful and
sacred thing. I think myself, as von Hugel thought, that it should
be kept as it was in the primitive Church for healing the results of
grave sin, or seriously sinful states of mind, etc., and not be a
routine discipline. . . .

But anyhow, as long as it means nothing to you the only right and
wholesome course is to let it alone I think. . . . You must relax,
and just be as quiet, child-like and confident as possible and take
all the interest you can in the non-religious side of your life.

Indeed I never taught you that "the flesh doesn't matter"!!--it is
quite un-Christian to think that--and I hope you are eating your
meals properly and sleeping well at night? Both can be done to the
Glory of God, can't they?

The Christian life is something so rich, deep, supple and altogether
lovely--so naturally supernatural as it were--and not anything which
asks more than we can do, or in any way strings one up. So keep calm
like a good child, won't you? You now have the support of the whole
family you have joined, including the Saints: God never badgers
souls who surrender to Him--but lets them grow gently, feeding on
what suits them and leaving the rest. And that is what you are to

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 All Saints, 1930.

 I think these notes (from that wise old saint Augustine Baker and
arranged for your use!) will answer your questions about
mortification. The austerities of the saints must be left to saints:
we are not to presume to attempt them, unless distinctly called by
God. The only result of sampling strong tea when our proper diet is
milk and water is a severe spiritual tummy-ache. Go slow.

I'm actually up and dressed and am going to Canterbury to do the
Wives' Fellowship Retreat on Monday. So please think of us and of
your veil beginning its new life. . .. Then I'm going to Moreton for
a short Retreat (for myself) . . . and then shall have another shot
at my hermit-like London life, until the plan now on foot to export
me to the South of France matures. . . .


(1) Quietly to suffer all crosses, difficulties and contradictions
to self-will whether internal or external, including temptations and
dryness. This is the very essence of a mortified life.

(2) Never to do or omit things on account of one's likes or
dislikes, but refer all to God's will.

(3) Those mortifications are right for us which increase humility
and power of prayer and are performed with cheerful resolution. They
are wrong, if deliberately undertaken instead of the obvious
difficulties of life and if they produce depression and strain.

(4) Habitual quietness of mind is essential to true mortification.
All impetuosity and unquietness has in it some self-love but the
Holy Spirit is stillness, serenity and peace.

(5) In general, the mortifications sent by God and the ordinary
friction of existence are enough to discipline our souls. Voluntary
mortifications are never to be assumed till the necessary
difficulties and contradictions of life are cheerfully and fully

Rosemullion Hotel, Budleigh Salterton.
 Feb. 7, 1931.

 Thank you so much for your letter. You were just in time to get a
place in the March Retreat at Pleshey, so that's all right. I am
awfully pleased with this place--such beautiful air and wonderful
sun whenever it is fine, as at present! and even the two weeks here
have done me far more good than the six at Sidmouth.

Now about your letter. You are not required to have a "prayer
policy." Do you have a policy about intercourse with your friends or
any other of the deepest relations of life? Your "policy" must
simply be to respond to what God gives and do your best, as you can,
in the circumstances. And don't be too proud to acknowledge that
what He does is infinitely more important than what you can feel or

Resting quietly in the Divine Presence is a prayer and often a far
better one than our deliberate efforts can manage: and more
humbling, because we can't produce it at will. Our part, when it is
like that, is very grateful acceptance. Please don't increase your
Communions at present. I would rather you observed a very moderate
rule and put obedience before spiritual experiences. When you feel
your prayer is blank and poor and deficient in love, say how sorry
you are. And when you are quite left dry, use formal prayers and try
honestly to enter into them and mean them as your little
contribution to the total prayer and praise of the Church!

The more you think of that and the less of your own condition the

 Wednesday in Easter Week, 1931.

To X.Y.
 This is by way of being an answer, probably most inadequate, to
your last letter. I think the general answer to it is that you fuss
far too much--and haven't nearly enough assimilated the priceless
art of letting God make the first move. Thus, as to "mortifications"
--having fully, generously, gratefully accepted all the conditions
in which you are placed and dealt with them to the best of your
ability, ignoring as much as you can your personal likes and
dislikes (not deliberately acting contrary to the said likes and
dislikes) you will surely have done a good bit to mortify self-love,
comfiness, fastidiousness, slackness, inordinate affection, etc. If
you haven't, anyhow you can! The string of imperfections you mention
are nearly all things that are in your own hands. You just needn't
do them!--that's the truth. And your right course surely (as regards
the ones which really are faults and not fuss) is to give your whole
will to ceasing to do them--just that, and not fossick round for
"extraordinary mortifications." Quietly dealing with one's own
uncontrolled thoughts and desires is infinitely more humbling than
any sort of deliberate austerity; which only makes one feel one has
done something! But don't have hand-to-hand tussles with
distractions and wanderings of mind--that intensifies the disease.
Try and drop all that and hold some thought or word that does mean
something to you, before your soul. Remember that in the Sacraments
you get actual energy, enough to do and be what God requires of you
at your present stage. If vocal prayer helps you most at the moment,
use it by all means and be quiet and humble about that too, and
don't expect to "realize" all the time.

But don't load the dice against yourself by assuming that you are
"sure to get slack again." That is unfair to God, isn't it? and
merely asking for failure. Assume rather that if you are quiet and
faithful and correspond as well as you can to what He gives, He will
produce in you what He wants.

9 June, 1931.

 This is really an answer to the last bit of your letter, because I
feel I owe you an explanation of my "position" which must seem to
you a very inconsistent one. I have been for years now a practising
Anglo-Catholic . . . and solidly believe in the Catholic status of
the Anglican Church, as to orders and sacraments, little as I
appreciate many of the things done among us. It seems to me a
respectable suburb of the city of God--but all the same, part of
"greater London." I appreciate the superior food, etc., to be had
nearer the centre of things. But the whole point to me is in the
fact that our Lord has put me here, keeps on giving me more and more
jobs to do for souls here, and has never given me orders to move. In
fact, when I have been inclined to think of this, something has
always stopped me: and if I did it, it would be purely an act of
spiritual self-interest and self-will. I know what the push of God
is like, and should obey it if it came--at least I trust and believe
so. When ... I put myself under Baron von Hugel's direction, five
years before his death he went into all this, and said I must never
think of moving on account of my own religious preferences, comforts
or advantages--but only if so decisively called by God that I felt
it wrong to resist--and he was satisfied that up to date I had not
received this call. Nor have I done so since. I promised him that if
ever I did receive it I should obey. Under God, I owe him my whole
spiritual life, and there would be much more of it than there is, if
I had been more courageous and stern with myself and followed his
directions more thoroughly. And it seems to me a sort of secondary
evidence that God means me to be where I am, that He gave me that
immense and transforming help, and yet with a quite clear light that
I am to stay here and not "down tools." Of course I know I might get
other orders at any moment, but so far that is not so. After all He
has lots of terribly hungry sheep in Wimbledon, and if it is my job
to try and help with them a bit it is no use saying I should rather
fancy a flat in Mayfair, is it?

Please do not think this cheek. It is not meant so, but it is so
much easier to write quite straight and simply.

Aug. 5.

To X.Y.
 On our way up, we went round by Kelham and saw their new Chapel.
Everyone was away of course but a charming novice, who was acting
Sacristan, showed us round. It's awfully impressive--intensely
austere and all done by line and plain surfaces--not a statue, not
even of our Lady--no stations--the Blessed Sacrament reserved in a
tiny Oratory we were not allowed to see.

The whole Church is dominated by Jagger's wonderful Rood. One gets
no idea of this from the small photos. Our Lord bound to the Cross
with cords; a living figure, full of intense power and looking
straight into the eyes of whoever looks up at Him--and Mary looking
up in an ecstasy of worship; and John crushed by penitence and
grief. The effect, against the deep purple apse-wall, is simply
marvellous. The few things they have are all perfect works of art.
. . . There was perhaps a certain lack of homeliness--but a very
great sense of the numinous.

We drove through Sherwood Forest, where I once saw a fox having a
quiet evening stroll and rabbits watching him. But saw nothing
better this time than a young wagtail that had not got a tail to

S.S. Venus, North Sea.
 September, 1931.

To L.M.
 This will be posted in England, to which we are gently rolling our
way--not such a smooth passage as when we came but so far quite
comfy. . . .

Stalheim was a marvellous place--the hotel perched at the top of a
1,000-foot cliff and looking right down the Naerodal--one of those
solemn rock valleys which seem like an approach to the Inferno. Our
arrival was adventurous: as when we reached the foot of the cliff
the car stopped and the driver said calmly: "I go no further. From
here you walk." He then pointed to Heaven and said, "There is the
Hotel!" It was 9 p.m. and pretty dark but light enough to make it
obvious that the climb was far beyond me! and not alluring to any
but the young and strong.

In the end we got a horse from a farm which scrambled slowly up the
13 steep zig-zags. The high valleys and hills at the top were
splendid and I would like to stay there for days. We got one very
good walk among the summer pastures and saw the cows and goats being
called down from the tops for milking.

As from 50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 17 September, 1931.

 C. tells me that you have very kindly sent me a copy of your new
book,* now waiting for me at home. Thank you so very much for it--I
shall most specially value possessing it from you as well as for its
own sake. Meanwhile the Spectator sent me a copy here to review, so
I have had an opportunity of reading it. I have been more than
interested--really excited. You seem to me to have made a
contribution of first-class importance to the history of mysticism
and to have completely proved your point about the doctrinal origins
of Sufi-ism. Of course, as always, when a historical problem is
cleared up, one promptly thinks, "Why on earth did no one think of
this before!"--the answer being of course that they didn't have the
requisite combination of knowledge, sympathy and common sense.

* Studies in Early Mysticism in the Near and Middle East.

I was also rather struck (perhaps more than you intended!) by the
very slightly Christian character of much of the Eastern mystical
writings--they were really ready to the hand of the Sufis, weren't
they? and had hardly anything in them to vex the most sensitive
monotheist. Your quotations are lovely both of the Christians and

24 Sept., 1931.

 I sometimes wonder whether (a) at certain points or stages the soul
must suffer; and then an apparently inadequate cause may be the
occasion of the maximum pain it can endure . . . or (b) it may be
allowed to pay some of the price of the happiness of another soul.

Nov. 27, 1931.

 Yes, I am sure you find the C.S.S. rule of Poverty very difficult
to square with married life. When you told me what you intended, I
could not imagine how you were going to manage it! How can a husband
and wife adopt different scales of living without tension? it must
become very acute in relation with the children and their clothes,
education, amusements, etc. Married tertiaries in the past
presumably both embraced poverty or else, like Jacopone's wife, wore
the hair-shirt secretly under their nice clothes! I do hope you will
find a solution that really symplifies life instead of just making
it complex in a fresh way.

Dec. 2, 1931.

To Z.A.
 Thank you very much for your letter. I think you deserve full marks
for taking mine so well!! The unfortunate part of trying to
communicate (our spiritual) experiences is that we never manage it
and at best only interest and at worst amuse or repel. Hence the
deep wisdom of St. Bernard's "My secret to myself." . .. "Let us
keep our heads," as the Baron was so fond of saying!

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 7 February, 1932.

 . .. The last thing (years ago!) my friend told me of the Golden
Fountain lady was that she said she had been "told inwardly" not to
write and publish any more. I own I did not feel wholly satisfied
that her experiences were supernatural, (a) The extreme
emotionalism, (b) the lack of reticence, (c) the note of spiritual
self-assurance, all seemed to contrast rather vividly with the
undoubted mystics. I agree with you that ecstatic phenomena do seem
to be related to the physiological rhythm (e.g. St. Teresa) and like
conversion tend to appear about the end of adolescence and again at
full maturity--30 or so--and at the close of middle age. This
doesn't bother me because I think them a by-product and not the
essence; and often better away! The development at its best seems to
be towards depth and steadiness--the "theopathetic state"--rather
than raptures. This, surely, would agree with St. John of the Cross,
a safer guide than all the fervent females put together! The St.
Teresa of the Foundations seems to me a nobler figure, more deeply
and fundamentally united to God, than she is in the ecstatic period
described in the Life. I suppose Charity, as an infused grace, is
given in the "ground of the soul" and it is there that the abiding
union with God takes place; and that the divine love then spreads
more and more throughout the whole psychic life--like Ruysbroeck's
"fountain with three rivulets"; the contemplative life, therefore,
which first appears to the soul as a contrast, and is realized by
way of vision, audition, ecstasy, etc., becomes as it matures more
deep, still and universal. But I don't feel sure you will agree with

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 12 February, 1932.

 Thank you very much for your very interesting letter. I expect you
are right, and that the Golden Fountain lady's trying way of
expressing herself is partly due to the lack of a good tradition;
but I still feel that, even if her experiences were all that they
seem to her to be, the normal movement of the soul to a much
quieter, deeper and less emotional type of realization is an advance
and not a loss.

As to St. John of the Cross, I think that return to an almost
physical description of ecstatic joy in the end of the Living Flame
becomes explicable when we remember that he died before he was
50; therefore, presumably, it describes not the final but the
intermediate stage of a mystic's development, and tallies with St.
Teresa's ecstatic period, not with her last state. It comes, too, at
a moment in the physiological life when ecstatic or emotional
experience of an intense type often seems to occur, doesn't it? ...

No! I can't feel the fact that ecstatic experience is so sporadic
and has a close relation to "age and condition" is disturbing. It's
real when it happens, and mediates the Absolute just as the passion
of Romeo and Juliet mediates something of an absolute sort. And
anyhow "nude faith" is surely the really solid, splendid and
convincing thing? I have an idea heaven will be both absolutely
happy and absolutely dark, to protect us from the blaze of God.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 16 February, 1932.

To F.H.
 . . . I think that restlessness and feeling of dissatisfaction with
life is partly physical in origin, and should be met on the natural
level of cultivating wholesome interests as much as one possibly
can, facing (as you realize) the true facts and accepting them,
trying to find happiness in interesting yourself in children and so
forth. All lives can seem futile and unfulfilled without God but no
life is futile with Him, is it? It is a question of centring
yourself on Him more utterly, and abandoning your will to His. That
is the string for your beads. If there are great sides of life
withheld from you, it is your opportunity, isn't it? to dedicate to
God all the love, energy and service which would have gone into
them, and be ready and alert to see what He wants of you, perhaps
something that seems on the surface quite inconspicuous and humble,
but which can be irradiated by the intention which directs it to
Him. The "drive," the "roots" are all there and not in the
particular thing you do, aren't they?

As to writing, I don't think anyone else can definitely advise you
--but if it really is a strong impulse, then I should try--but with
the full knowledge that you may fail and that you will vanquish the
mere vanity which is afraid to fail. No creative urge which can't
conquer that demon is going to be any good. You must be prepared to
stand on your own feet, do the work as well as you know how, and
leave the results.

19 February, 1932.

To M.C.
 Did M. tell you of my darling Italian Saint (head of a tiny group
of Italian Primitives) whom I asked to join the Disarmament Prayer
Group and who replied she could not promise a fixed period because:

"Agli uccelli non si puo chiedere in dato canto in un dato tempo. E
voi vogliamo essere nella nostra espressione di religiosita come gli
uccelli--pregare, cantare, perche amiamo, in tutta liberta e
semplicita. Senza nulla d'imposto e di stabilito." *

* Birds are not expected to sing a particular song at a particular
time. And we wish our religion to express itself like the birds: to
pray and sing in perfect liberty and simplicity because we love
--without rules and regulations.

May 30, 1932.

 I'm so glad the Passion Play is done and long to see it. My thing
is done too, except for the last read-through, and will, I think, go
to Methuen's next week. I know I'm doing an awful thing but I'm
sending in this a bit of MS. and asking, would you read just the
piece from half down p. 3 to beginning of p. 5? It seemed to me to
express a patent truth, which I am certain does happen ... if you
are busy, don't dream of bothering with it.

I was awfully interested in what you said about having an
image-making mind. I think on the whole mine is the other kind and
of course it would make a great deal of difference to one's
devotional framework. I don't a bit want to break the 2nd
Commandment! but I wallow in the Athanasian Creed! all the same I
agree, one must watch and listen to our Lord all one can, and the
more one does, the deeper the wonder grows.

We had an icy day (physically) for the W.F. Quiet Day, but M.
arrived with some of her prayer group, like a troop of dynamos; and
after that it gave me no trouble at all. It is amazing what a
difference a few real praying people can make. Good-bye. It's lovely
to feel you will be with us at L.C. We shall end on the Feast of the
Sacred Heart which, in spite of the terrible pictures, I do most
dearly love. Do you know that bit of St. John Eudes?--"The Sacred
Heart of Jesus is the Holy Spirit."


TO J.K.*
* These two letters (and that of Dec., 1933) were written to a
friend who was disappointed in the spiritual life of a church and
parish in U.S.A.

 Thank you so much for your letter and for giving me your

I can guess very well what the position is like and that there is
much in it that you must find very hard, painful and disappointing.

It is heartbreaking to think that lives given to God should, by bad
training, be prevented from developing their best. But still, the
story is not finished yet, is it? God's training goes on to the very
end; and in the present phase you are part of the material He can
make use of in the deepening and sensitizing of other souls. That
gives you a very great responsibility and incentive to keep your
faith and hope alert in the very difficult conditions which surround
you. Yours is a missionary job and missionaries always have to bear
loneliness for Christ; and the effect, if they take it rightly, is
to throw them back on Him and develop more and more their hidden
life with God. He comes to us in and with all circumstances, however
adverse they may seem to us.

This hard bit of the way has in it much that can purify your love
and strengthen your soul. . . . Have patience! Remember how St.
Augustine said, "One loving spirit sets another loving spirit on
fire"--sooner or later the thirst for God will awake in some soul
and you will be there to make the link. Meanwhile go on quietly,
don't let your own devotional life drop below normal and don't let
yourself be critical or hostile about others.


 It is lovely to think of you steadily gaining ground with your
group of women*--very difficult work I am sure, but how supremely
worth while. It seems so hard to make modern people see the
distinction between Christianity and all other systems, doesn't it?
Some people say "Life" and "Spirit" seem more real than God; and
they "need contemplation," but don't bother about what they

* A class of "modern" mothers.

June, 1932.

To L.M.
 Thank you so much for letter and MS. safely received....

Someone was much upset at the bit in Action* saying a self-willed
prayer of demand, not submitted to God, might be effective and even
do harm as an exercise of psychic energy disguised as prayer. She
thought it would frighten people and that prayer could never do
harm. But personally I think this sort of spurious prayer does
happen, and as you do not protest, shall leave it.

* The Golden Sequence, Methuen, 1932.

As to what you say about Peace, Yes! I think too it is possible to
be used as a channel without feeling peace, indeed, while often
feeling on the surface in a tornado! Nevertheless, the essential
ground of the soul is held in tranquillity, even through the uproar
and every now and then the soul perceives this. The real equation is
not Peace = satisfied feeling, but Peace = willed abandonment.

June 15,

To M.C.
 I don't think I can write to you about the Passion Play, because it
simply overwhelmed me--I don't know whether you have done much
textually to it (I don't think you have) or if it's the result of
quiet reading straight through--but the effect is tremendous. Of
course, it seems to me by far the deepest thing you have done. That
sense running right through it, of infinite mysteries accomplished
almost unknowingly, in a finite scene, and the awful and creative
grief and love--it really is shattering, you know, as well as so
intensely beautiful. . . .

Something very strange happened about L.C.* and its experiences.
Last week I got a letter from Sorella Maria, my Italian Saint,
asking specially how it had gone, as those three days, and
especially the last evening she had suffered so greatly--"far more
than usual" and how deeply thankful she would be if this suffering
had "availed for a blessing."

* A retreat she had conducted.

Good-bye till the 22nd. I am looking forward to it more than a
mortified person should.

Trinity II, 1932.

 I am no intercessor myself--when I have the feel of God at all, I
can think of nothing else--and when I haven't, I mostly fidget. I'm
very relieved to hear the way you do it, because that is, when I
manage it, my way too!

L.C. was nice. . . . And, for the first time in a Retreat of mine we
had the Blessed Sacrament on the altar all the time. I thought, poor
fool that I am, how lovely it would be! But as it went on, the awful
power of that white eternity seemed more and more overwhelming: it
seemed to make noisy nonsense of everything I was trying to say; and
I ended feeling like a cross between a monkey and a parrot. Everyone
else seemed quite calm and happy, so it was evidently all right for
them. But I felt like Angela when she kept saying to her Secretary,
"Brother, I blaspheme, I blaspheme."

July 5, 1932.

 This will be an incoherent letter because I have just been given a
very engaging Persian kitten, named after St. Philip Neri (who was
very sound on cats) and his opinion is that I have been given to

 Tues., p.m. [1932].

 You see, I come to Christ through God, whereas quite obviously lots
of people come to God through Christ. But I can't show them how to
do that--all I know about is the reverse route. The final result,
when you have the two terms united, is much the same--"the figure
and the mountain are one"--but the process quite different.

I've never in any of my phases been a "good Evangelical" and I
expect you have--but on the other hand I'm not sure you have ever
been a white-hot Neo-Platonist! so I should feel awfully shy and
awkward expounding the personal side; whereas I'll go to any length
to try and make people "feel God."

Still, I expect I must try to develop that section a bit more. So
pleased you like the bit about primitive adoration beginning with
the childhood of the race. I do feel that so much; and that we ought
not to be ashamed of the humble origin of many of our religious acts
and ideas. Have you read Marett's Faith, Hope and Charity yet, I
wonder. There's a lot of that sort of thing in it--most thrilling.

You would love this place--the immense salt marshes looking like
sheets of greenish-mauvish opal--and the white clouds of tems, and
the larks always shouting alleluia....

And now I've nearly finished without saying how lovely I think your
Prayer Pamphlet is--and why ever did I not know about it before?
. . . That's a wonderful thought, about watching His daily
Crucifixion in, out, and so forth (and, alas! in much "organized"
religion!). But what I feel most (when not deep in the metaphysical
dumps) is the triumphing life in the Saints in spite of all
appearances--something like St. Clement's "The Christian life is a
perpetual spring-time."

Oh yes! I'm sure we must adore the Purpose before we can even see it

Sep. 12, 1932.

To U.N.
 You are very often in my thoughts for I know what a desperately
hard time you must be having and how much prudence as well as
courage you will need to get really on your feet again and recover
your hold on life. In a way, the fact that you accepted the
sacrifice so fully in the first instance may possibly make the
inevitable psychological reaction specially severe. I hope that may
not be so--but if it is, my dear, and you are troubled by uprushes
of bitter or violent feeling, rebellious thoughts, exasperated
nerves, lack of interest or any of the other miseries by which our
unstable psyche makes us pay for great strain--do not blame
yourself too much, do not get frightened, but reckon this in as the
result of the heavy blow which has, as it were, left a bruise on the
subconscious that may work out in one of these humiliating ways.
Consider that this too is suffering and therefore can humbly be
offered to God. Do not try to struggle with the situation and its
difficulties but so far as is in your power turn from it to other
things, in this case obviously a special love and interest in your
other children... . Fill your mind with them and every detail of
their time. . . . If you do go away for a bit, let it be to a place
where your interest and attention is filled with active work and you
have no time for silence and meditation and living through it all in

When it all seems unbearable, talk about it--do not brood or
practise suppression. . .. When you find in your prayers that you
are moving away from thoughts of God to thoughts of your own
unhappiness, Stop! Get up, read if you can, if not, do not scruple
to turn to some active occupation. Short aspirations, constant
thoughts of and appeals to God will be better than long prayers just
now. . . .

St. Francis, 1932.

To G.F.
 . . . it is one of the advantages of being a scamp, that one is
unable to crystallize into the official shape, and so retains touch
with other free lances and realizes how awful the ecclesiastical
attitude and atmosphere often makes them feel. As to feeling rather
dismayed by the appearance of the Church Visible at the moment--that
is inevitable I'm afraid to some extent. But keep your inner eye on
the Church Invisible--what the Baron used to call "the great
centralities of religion." That is what really takes one up into
itself "with angels and archangels and all the company of Heaven,"
not only the Vicar and the curate and the Mothers' Union Committee.
But there is something entrancing don't you think, in a supernatural
society, so wide and generous and really Catholic, that it can mop
up all these--even the most depressing--and still remain the Bride
of Christ? The Church is an "essential service" like the Post
Office, but there will always be some narrow, irritating and
inadequate officials behind the counter and you will always be
tempted to exasperation by them.

Part Three


Divine things are not named by the intellect as they really are in
themselves, for in that way the intellect knows them not, but they
are named in a way that is borrowed from created things.

March 1, 1933.

 Thank you so much for your letter. I am terribly sorry that I am
entirely snowed under with work at present; and could not write
anything for your Crusade, as you so kindly ask me to do. Also, to
do this would rather conflict with my fixed policy of not
identifying myself with any particular parties or movements within
the Church: more especially those of a religious-political
character. You see I do feel that my particular call, such as it is,
concerns the interior problems of individuals of all sorts and all
opinions: and therefore any deliberate labelling of myself, beyond
the general label of the Church, reduces the area within which I can
operate and my help is likely to be accepted: but telling you what I
think is quite another matter!

So far as I can see, the sense of "absorption" with nature and with
other beings is far more characteristic of the nature-mystics and
the pantheists than of the real Christian mystics. The deep love and
sympathy with mankind, and often with all life, which one finds in
them seems to be the direct result of their sense of union with the
Divine Charity. They aim at that first, and thence flow out, as
Ruysbroeck said, in a "wide-spreading love to all in common." The
saints whom I have known in the flesh have often been quite unable
to keep anything for themselves, and have agonized deeply for the
world's suffering; but I don't think they felt any mystical
absorption in life in general. They just loved all things with God's
love. That is why I always feel that the best way to teach the
Second Commandment is to concentrate on the First!

March 21, 1933.

To U.N.
 How lovely it will be to have you at Pleshey. . .. The new Chapel
is most beautiful and simple and seems to have been born full of the
spirit of prayer. Everyone loves it. We had a perfect day for the
Dedication last Friday week (March 10).

If you ever see the Church Times you will find in last Saturday's
number an account of it all by me. NO! ours won't be the first
Retreat in it. They are beginning this week. . ..

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 20 March [? 1933].

To F.H.
 . . . As to that restless feeling that the Roman Church is drawing
you (a) mere nature makes us all a bit restless in the spring, and
is likely to rouse our dominant interest; (b) the Church of Rome
must always have a sort of attraction for those who love prayer
because it does understand and emphasize worship. But the whole
question of course is, not "What attracts and would help Me?" but
"Where can I serve God best?"--and usually the answer to that is,
"Where He has put me." Von Hugel used to say that only a definite
and continuous feeling, that it would be a sin not to move, could
justify anyone changing. It is obvious that people who can pray and
help others to, are desperately needed in the C. of E. And to leave
that job because the devotional atmosphere of Rome is attractive, is
simply to abandon the trenches and go back to Barracks. If all the
Tractarians had imitated Newman's spiritual selfishness English
religion to-day (unless God had raised up other reformers) would be
as dead as mutton! There is a great deal still to be done and a
great deal to put up with, and the diet is often none too good--but
we are here to feed His sheep where we find them, not to look for
comfy quarters! At least, that is my firm belief! And the life of
prayer can be developed in the C. of E as well as anywhere else if
we really mean it.

As from 50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 20th April, 1933.

To A.B.
 Those feelings of bitterness, resentment, etc., you speak of come
bubbling up from the animal levels of our being and can so easily
taint our whole lives. The only cure is the frank acknowledgment of
them for what they are and an absolute trust in the power of God to
help to transcend them. When we receive absolution it is God Who
enters our soul and frees us from the crippling fetters of sin and
gives us a fresh start. It is for us to co-operate and use the fresh
start! Remember the boundless pity and gentleness in Christ's
attitude to those who must often have jarred on Him; and come back
to that, quite quietly and humbly if or when you catch yourself
falling into these faults again. Your beautiful Good Friday was a
seal set on your absolution. When we get fresh lights of that kind
it is a sign that our act has been pleasing to God. So I feel that
with you all is very well. Go gently, however, don't concentrate on
"Catholic" practices, keep your Christianity wide as well as deep.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 11 May, 1933.

To F.H.
 . . . I'm so glad you've lost the unsettled feeling about the R.C.
Church. I know just what you mean about using their books and things
and so on. But after all many of them are the spiritual treasure of
the Church Universal which our forebears tossed aside at the
Reformation and bit by bit the Spirit is giving back to English
Christianity in our times. I feel a great call to help on that
renewal of sane Catholicism in England and am sure it is a work of
God. My Italian saint, Maria (R.C.), says, "The Venerable Roman
Church does but preside at the Universal Agape"--not, alas, their
usual view, but full, I am sure, of deep truth.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 12 July, 1933.

 I have just received the Dublin with your terribly generous review
of The Golden Sequence. I really can't thank you properly for all
you say; or--most particularly for the fact that you do seem to like
the book personally! I am particularly interested in the points you
pick out and am rather pleased you think I go too far on the
anti-emotion, anti-audition-and-vision tack! It is because I am so
dreadfully afraid of the opposite excess! The sterner view seems on
the whole the safer, don't you think? because we may be quite sure
in practice that valid "auditions," etc., will carry their own
guarantees and no one who gets them will be frightened out of
believing in their worth--the same with emotion: whatever its
theoretical views may be, the soul touched by love will feel and
express love! As to the "universal and personal," I agree that
"almost" is quite wrong and I don't know why I put it. But I think
the purely intellectual combination is beyond us--we manage it in
intuition (or dim contemplation if you prefer that) and the
intellect accepts the result, without having done the work.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 July 20,1933.

To L.K.
 . . . Here is The Cloud of Unknowing; Abandonment is out at the
moment, so that must wait till the autumn, but I am sending de
Caussade's other one, on Prayer. You will find Part II the most
interesting. I am also sending you, as a little present, my last
book. If it does not agree with you, throw it away and don't force
yourself to read it. But I think you may like the last part.

As to your question: yes, surely all generous, self-giving love,
with no claimfulness, is part of God's love--"who dwelleth in love
dwelleth in God"--any kind of real love! That is surely what St.
John is always trying to say. "God is greater than your heart."

As to all the rest, be content with this. God is enlightening you
and teaching you direct, bit by bit as you can bear it. It will feel
uncomfortable, you often will feel lost, ashamed and contrite. But
all that is a great grace for which you must be very grateful,
because it comes from the contrast between the great God deigning to
touch you, and your small soul. It is for Him to choose what He
shall show you, for you just to accept His lights and gently purify
your love. It is natural and right that the soul should desire Him
in Himself and also to be used by Him. Both these phases are part of
a full spiritual life. But our longing for Him must be the kind that
longs first for His will to be done, even though it means darkness
for ourselves--at least that is how it seems to me.

Don't strain after more light than you've got yet: just wait
quietly. God holds you when you cannot hold Him, and when the time
comes to jump He will see to it that you do jump--and you will find
you are not frightened then. But probably all that is a long way
ahead still. So just be supple in His hands and let Him mould you
(as He is doing) for His own purposes, responding with very simple
acts of trust and love.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
Oct. 27, 1933.

 . . . I'm glad you feel you begin to like St. John of the Cross
--because I think he will be a lifelong friend to you. He does help
with the bare, painful, self-stripping side--which is only one side
of course--butf must be there. . . .

St. James's Day, 1933.

To M.C.
 The Leiston Abbey Retreat was quite lovely from the Conductor's
point of view. A marvellous place, exquisitely beautiful and well
inhabited! The 14th century Lady Chapel of the Abbey to give the
Addresses in and a real cell in the cloister (but with H. and C. and
fitted bath!) to live in. And the general feeling of the spirits of
kind and devout white monks helping us along. It was all so
peaceful, miles from everywhere, and the birds' songs all mixed up
with the hymns. A dear old crippled priest, a perfect saint, as
Chaplain, almost going on all fours to give thanks after his
Communion, 'cos he couldn't very neatly kneel down. A friend of
yours there . . . also a Russian and a. blind girl and 2
missionaries and a rebel. . . . Also a spiritual healer who came
into my cell late the last night, saying she had been guided to the
Retreat and after a little talk, suddenly asked if she might lay her
hands on me as she felt I was completely tired out (not that I felt
so!). So she did and it was a most strange experience. She put one
on my head and one between the shoulders and a stream of warm energy
seemed to pour through from them. Then she made one startlingly
apropos remark, made the Sign of the Cross on my forehead and walked

16 August, 1933.

To G.F.
 I knew you'd like Barth, but I hope the eager dog won't get a
displaced heart from too much following of the bicycle! To change
the image, Barth is rather like a bottle of champagne . . . too
intoxicating to be taken neat but excellent with a few dry biscuits!
He is not "the only real religion": I can't allow you to simplify
like that. He is a neglected and splendid part of the whole rich
complex of religion. Consider what Barthian religion alone would
have to give to the poor, the miserable, the lonely, the childlike,
and all in fact to whom Christianity is specially addressed. You
must have the gentle and penetrating intimacy to balance the
over-againstness surely, to get the total need and experience of the
soul expressed? Von Hugel is far better, saner and more complete.
Barth and Eckhart are interesting, stimulating excessives--too
exclusively transcendent and abstract, carrying the revolt from
naturalism too far. But splendid if kept in their place.

 25 August, 1933.

 After all even he [Barth] in his milder moments, acknowledges that
what he is offering is a "theology of correction." And it is worth
while to reflect on what happens when the whole emphasis of religion
is thrown on the transcendental and eschatological. The majority of
people must have something to lay hold of, and if it isn't given
them by the Incarnational and Sacramental path, uniting supernature
with homeliness, they just vulgarize supernature, and claim
familiarity with it. The result is seen in the paradoxical fact that
now Brunner is one of the pillars of Buchmanism and Barth's
"breaking in of God" becomes "guidance," and once more the deep
spiritual sanity of the Christian-Catholic scheme is vindicated.

As from 50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 4 Sept., 1933.

To F.H.
 . . . Mother X. has written to tell me you are going to them, and
evidently hopes that it may turn out your vocation is to Community
Life. As to that I would not dare to express an opinion--God will
guide you and show you your path, so long as you are absolutely
straightforward with Him and do not try to persuade yourself you
feel an attraction where none truly exists! The fact that you have
been pushed bit by bit into this situation, without definite choice
on your own part, is doubtless important--but all the same do please
be careful to avoid being biased by it. I should think from what you
say there has been a secret pressure on your soul through your whole
life, to give yourself to God--d it may be that this is the place
where He wants you to be. Anyhow He can and will accept, transform
and use your self-surrender--and with the C.H.F. you will see one
form of the Religious Life (not the contemplative, however, except
incidentally) at its best.

Mother X. is a most remarkable personality, both intellectually and
religiously, but her Order exists at least as much for horizontal as
for vertical activities, indeed for what the Baron calls "the
interweaving of the two movements." You may find at B--- the
opportunity for the steady practice of the upward look you are
craving for now--but being a postulant, if it really comes to that,
will involve a lot of drill, much of which you may find very
irksome! Those stiff collars and cuffs are symbolic. But I hope and
pray God has much for you in all this and whatever happens it will
bring you fresh knowledge of His love. I don't think any of it
silly--not even Sister M.'s kiss, though that, of course, should not
seriously weigh in such a decision, as you know very well.

There will be young things at B--- too--and I do feel the active
side of your call, whatever it may be, should include a teaching
office towards the young. But don't hurry a decision, don't be
influenced by the real love and generosity and holiness you will
meet unless a steady and insistent pressure urges you to this life.

9 September, 1933.

To G.F.
 He [Karl Barth] does key it up too much for average use. . . . So
glad you like the Dark Night. I love it, but not better than Mount
Carmel I think. The Flame I have never got on with very well, but
perhaps shall some day. It is really only during the last few years
that St. John X. has become one of my most intimate friends! . . .

. . . At one stage and for a long time I found them [the Gospels]
just as baffling as you do. But since--though the meadow is God--
they include all His best grass, one cannot of course here apply the
Baron's rule to the extent of leaving them out. And since . . .
something in you far deeper than your brain and critical sense
insists on finding God very specially through Holy Communion and the
Eucharist, it seems likely, doesn't it, that a long and very docile
patience and a faithful response to the bits of light you do see,
will gradually resolve this difficulty for you and gradually
disclose, as far as you can bear it, what "the Word made Flesh"
means in actual fact? It must mean something quite downright,
factual, concrete; something that comes the whole way into our human
world. And a career staged truly in our human world will look
thoroughly matter-of-fact and concrete. It is quite an old
difficulty--"is not this the carpenter's son?" The Resurrection and
the prompt formation of the Church out of a body of frightened and
disillusioned men, and that revealing scrap at the end of St. Mark:
"the Lord working with them" give the real clue. I think also the
fact that St. Paul's Epistles, with their view of the transcendental
character of that concrete life, were in circulation before those
matter-of-fact Gospels (except possibly St. Mark) were written at
all. But one only gets the feel of it By working from the
here-and-now living experience back to the historical embodiment. Of
course, the "good and heroic man" is no good at all, and makes
nonsense of the history of the Church. When criticism has done its
worst, the words and acts of Our Lord which remain are not those of
"a good and heroic man," but of one deliberately claiming unique
authority and insight, and conscious of a unique destiny.

As from 50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 15 Sept., 1933.

To A.B.
 . . . The most important of these suggestions to you I take to be,
trying anyhow to refuse to consider and regret the past. It is done,
it has happened--you only weaken yourself by dwelling on mistakes,
frustration, etc. (which happen in some form in all lives!). Take
the present situation as it is and try to deal with what it brings
you, in a spirit of generosity and love. God is as much in the
difficult home problems as in the times of quiet and prayer, isn't
He? Try specially to do His Will there, deliberately seek
opportunities for kindness, sympathy and patience--don't "open up"
your bitterness, etc., deliberately but bring your whole situation
en bloc into your Godward life. Knock down the partition between
living-room and oratory, even if it does mean tobacco smoke and
incense get a bit mixed up. I think it a wholesome sign even, though
painful, that you feel and see so acutely the disharmony between
your attitude to home problems and your love of God. Quietly and
humbly acknowledge you have not yet got this right and ask God's
grace that you may do it in His way. If you go to Confession now,
don't rake over details but make a general statement of repentance
for lack of love, tolerance, etc., etc.

Oct. 16, 1933.

To M.C.
 I've got a wonderful new edition of the Sayings of St. John of the
Cross--his Spanish text, with crib opposite which shows how terse
and deep and splendidly unpious his real voice was and how amazingly
daring his spiritual declarations--a wonderful example of how to be
a Quaker without being a Quaker, if you know what I mean.

Nov. 18, 1933.

 I'm writing this in the train on my way home from Lincoln, where I
have been giving the Ordinands Retreat. There were 36, of all
imaginable types, all longing to know more about prayer but with the
queerest sort of notions about it....

Here is another St. John of the Cross. I think possibly it may clear
up the situation for you a bit. Yes, I do understand about the fog
that keeps lifting a bit but never clears and shows you what you
want so dreadfully. But that is exactly the form, you see, that your
probation is to take, completely cleansing you of all spiritual
self-seeking and utterly subordinating you to the Will of God. It is
the willingness to go on in the fog, not frightened, because God is
both on the road and off the road too, "if thou could'st but see
Him," which is, after all, of the essence of faith, isn't it?

It is the Cloud of Unknowing over again. And also, how humbling and
therefore how good for us, when we are obliged to realize as you
say, that we cant honestly say we want to serve God without limit
and at whatever cost. Wait quietly a bit and pray without fuss, for
such a steadying of your love and such a quieting of the dithers,
that you are able to feel through and through, even though with pain
that "His will is our peace."

Don't attempt to force a complete surrender while it raises a
tornado. Just acknowledge very humbly that you cannot get past the
tornado without His grace but that underneath it, all, you do desire
to give yourself, or rather to be taken from yourself, into His
love. In our natural selves we can't help being afraid of the cost
when we catch a glimpse of what it may mean--and this makes the
gift, when the moment strikes for it, a real and total offering
we're ready to pay for--not merely something of which we haven't
reckoned the price and can't go through with.

Dec., 1933.

 The letter you sent me is clever, absurd and pathetic all at once,
isn't it? The writer is obsessed by jargon and by her swollen sense
of the importance of human individuals and the final character of
"psychological" advice. But after all it is those who have a deep
and real inner life who are best able to deal with the "irritating
details of outer life." I think at her present stage, Self (her own
or others) is all-important to her. I would begin at that end with

As far as her letter goes there is no indication that she has at
present any idea at all of what religion is. And indeed the more I
see of the psychological point of view, the more I feel its distance
from the Christian point of view! Still, God can do anything; and at
any moment her soul may wake up. Keep on friendly terms; pray for
her; avoid arguing with her; trust the "catching force" of your
faith! She is quite right I think in saying that it is more
important to know what we are, than why; but then the what is
Children of the Eternal God and inheritors of heaven! Only when we
have achieved recognition of that can we see any "psychological
situation" in a true light.

I can well believe that the greater part of what you achieve will be
unseen by you now and will bear fruit later. It needs much faith and
love to accept that and carry on all the same in a spirit of loving
confidence. But that is the way, I fancy, that God's hardest jobs
are done.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 20 June.

To D.E.*
I'm so glad you wrote, and hope you always will when you feel the
need of a paw in the dark. Anyhow this time the paw gives you a very
pleased squeeze, and says, "All's well!" Every word you say in your
letter goes to prove that. It is a tough noviciate but a real one;
and all the dark and humiliation (but what a lot of light and love
there is with it too) is the shadow and tension which must come with
God's direct dealing with the soul. He is showing you things very
quickly now and opening new paths and opportunities of
self-oblation. Don't be discouraged if you get a bit breathless or
even fall flat on your face now and then. Far better, more alive,
more demanding, and more utterly purifying from self-love than that
"blissful era of peace" you thought might come. You have so much to
bring to the altar in the way of love, sympathy, compassion, all of
which can be used by God through your intercessions. But while
things are moving at this pace, please be careful not to overstrain.
If your rule of life merely irks youstick it out; but if it really
strains (and perhaps it may) then modify it a bit. And above all,
proper recreation, a day off if possible from taxing jobs, and ample

No--we can never become un-selfed on our own--it is God's work in
us. We can only open the door and say, "Do what You like." Stick to
your Chapman--he is a safe guide--and if you want another book,
Grou's Spiritual Maxims will do well.

* This and the next eleven letters are undated; they are grouped
here as preceding that of New Year's Day, 1934.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 19 November.

 ... I am sorry to hear of you in bed--though I expect it is far the
best place for you to be for a few days; and am not awfully
surprised that the strain has been too much for you. It's all part
of the game, I'm afraid, that one should feel as if one had failed
God and taken it all badly. This adds to the unhappiness but also
(and that's the one point that really matters) to the humbling
effect. If we felt how very nicely we were taking our troubles, so
brave! so patient! so devoted! they wouldn't have a particularly
purifying effect. If you had by some miracle (not of grace)
"accepted and wanted this bit of darkness as part of His will," you
might have felt quite a fine little fellow--and that couldn't
conceivably be part of His Will!! We have to feel utterly helpless,
weak, unable to stand up to it, if we are ever to learn real trust
and abandonment. After all, Our Lord Himself didn't say, "I accept
this darkness peacefully," etc. He said, in the first instance, "Why
hast thou forsaken me?"--pain, bewilderment, and all that you reckon
in yourself as "failure"--but it isn't, my lamb--it's the "other
side" of love.

Don't struggle to "find proofs of God's existence" when He seems to
vanish. Throw your hand in and wait, as quietly as you are able. Do
you remember von Hugel in his little book on Prayer compares this
experience to meeting a sandstorm in the desert--and says the Arab,
then, doesn't struggle with the situation but accepts it, lies down
in the sand, covers his head with his mantle, and just waits. That
is what you are asked to do. God can't be clear to us all the time
--if He were, He would not be great enough to worship. But the more
we care, the more we suffer in the cloudy bits. It must be so; and
desperate as it seems at the time, it does great things for us. I,
certainly, am not one scrap disappointed in you! . . . But I'm very
sorry for you; for I know how impossible it is for you to realize
that it is, as a matter of fact, All Right. Please stay in bed till
you are really rested, and after that, don't force yourself to any
special religious practices except your Communions, and don't be
fierce in preparing for these but go, quite without scruple, however
impossible you may be feeling. Otherwise be dormy on the pious side
for a bit.

Alexandra Hotel, Lyme Regis.
 December 1st.

 . . . I always meant to answer your remarks about the Kingdom of
God and forgot. I suppose "Kingdom" is really a misleading word, and
Reign of God is nearer the sense of the Greek: in which case it
means, not merely a neat, benevolent and hygienic social order (the
Baron used to say "the Holy Spirit is not a Sanitary Inspector") but
that transfiguration of the world and of life into something
consistent with God's Will, which is the aim of redemption. And in
that case, it is both now and hereafter, isn't it? But can't be
managed by social workers as such, but by the self-abandonment in
love of all souls. So that it is within and comes without
observation, but will have noticeable results on all levels, and,
ideally, is identical with the Church and based on the Cross.

As from 50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 14 March.

 I think there's a great stir going on in the invisible world,
bringing people to such thoughts as yours; and that presently
perhaps if we keep our doors and windows open and our wills alert,
we shall be shown what to do. The Church, I'm sure, holds the
pattern on which the new world should be built, but no one will
believe it till she becomes much more sacrificial than she is yet.
No, I should think it unlikely that the convent is your solution; if
it is, God will make it quite plain to you so don't worry. But at
the moment, except for the special cases of intense vocation to
prayer, I think the need is for keen and alert and practising
Christians in the world, showing in action (public as well as
private) what being a cell in the Corpus Christi can mean.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Lent 2.

 . .. No, I don't think Truth for us (after a rather elementary
stage) can be a static, dogmatically defined "This Is It" sort of
thing. It is a flash from the Absolute, never complete, always
suggesting further depths and further splendour as, in and through
the particular truth concerned, God more and more reveals Himself.
You'll find, of course, lots of pious persons think this nonsense--
never mind. It is the way you will be led and is all right. Von
Hugel somewhere speaks of Truth as we know it, as a blazing light
fading off into the darkness of the unknown--or something like that.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Monday, p.m.

 I am so sorry things are being hard. ... Just lie down as quietly
as you can in the dust and wait for the Lord; don't struggle--it is
perfectly useless at such times, and merely exhausting. This
"oppression of sins" is one of the Devil's pet dodges. Point out to
him and to yourself that we all have them--very little difference
between us! There is nothing very interesting or unusual about it.
And in spite of it all, God loves us and holds on to us. Is there
anything special which has caused this hurly-burly beyond the
uncertainty about your future--which of course is very unsettling?
But I have a feeling perhaps there is something else which is
troubling you, and against which you are struggling. If so, leave
off fighting it; that only means strain, not "getting free." Accept
this fresh suffering as your bit of the Cross, and offer it--even
though you have to offer it in darkness--for the world.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 21 October.

 . . . It is not waste of my time when you come! Please don't ever
think that, or that the "spiritually interesting" are particularly
interesting. Those who think themselves so are usually pretty awful.
Yes--I realize these last three months have been tough--but the
thing is, that you weathered them and I hope will soon feel able to
relax a bit. For you won't be happy or stable until you are able to
have in your life people whom you can love without fear of disaster.
This keeping them at arm's length must only be a temporary measure
until you really have yourself in hand; and already the improvement
is so great that it's only a question of time. Meanwhile God is
using you, and also supporting you with the power of His love, in
and through struggle and pain.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 25 October.

 My poor lamb, I am so terribly sorry for you. I know it is
horrible, but it is really all right; and was bound to happen sooner
or later. After all, if you choose Christ you start on a route that
goes over Calvary, and that means the apparent loss of God as a bit
of it. There is no by-pass. But as long as you were getting the
assurance of God, your offering wasn't absolute, was it? This means
total sacrifice. So face up to it, and thank Him (for He is there
all the time--you must trust your fellow Christians for that) for
the privilege of being allowed to taste a little bit of Christ's
suffering and offer it for all those you long to help. Apart from
this attempt at acceptance, don't do anything. It isn't your fault
--it is just part of the route--d God will again show Himself when
you are through this bit. Don't struggle with prayer you can't do
--just say "Into thy hands I commend my spirit." Continue your
Communions quite steadily but don't pull yourself to bits over them.
Remember it is you who are temporarily blinded, not the world that
has gone black. Early bed, novels, the flicks and so on are all good
and help to minimize the nervous strain. Do not be too ferocious in
your exercises in detachment at the moment, and try not to be
discouraged, though I know this is hard. Your grief at God's absence
is the best of all proofs of your love. If you have Dom Chapman's
Letters by you, read them again. Lots are addressed to people in
this state. It is a normal experience in spiritual growth.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 29 October.

 . . . I had a dreadful feeling that I was no real good to you this
time, but still, if you only feel you can hang on to me, and say
whatever you like--that, I know, is some use! I'm sure the great
thing is to remember, so far as one can, God's Ocean of Peace, and
the way it abides and holds us safe, right through all our little
storms, which can purify us even while they humble and hurt us. As
von Hugel says, "it is so much more He who must hold us, than we who
must hold Him." And that being so, it is He who must ordain what we
are to do for Him; and if He wants bad tools like us, we must not
object, but just gratefully get on with it. He knows that the storms
in your nature are much more temperamental sufferings than sins
--and, being sufferings, you can accept them and add them to the
Cross. The root principle I think is (a) since God is all that
matters in religion there is never anything to be afraid of in spite
of our illusions to the contrary; (b) a Christian can always do
something with suffering. Stay as quiet as you can when it happens,
and wait till it blows over--then get up and go on.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.

 As to C---, I don't feel clear that you should give this up.
It may be the bit of relief in your life you positively need; and
if, as you say, the children are "pure joy and a real part of you,"
it may be that the extra space in your life and reduction of strain
which would result from giving It up, would be too dearly bought.
I'm not therefre going to say you should give it up at the moment;
and I could not possibly promise that doing so would bring you
nearer God. But be reasonable. Remember you hold your body and
nervous system in trust from God and must treat His property well.
So carry on for the present, as quietly as you can, obeying His
pressures when you discern them. The great task for you, as you see,
is cleansing love of possessiveness, and that you are doing, and I
know it is a big job which asks for real heroism. It will get
easier, as more and more God takes the central place and you
gradually find yourself loving others in and for and with Him.

I think it would be better really if you felt able to take up a
moderate and disciplined attitude to those you love--seeing them and
writing to them less than you would like, but to a reasonable
extent, and for their sakes rather than your own. Your plan of
entire separation seems to me too drastic; and likely to react in
over-strain, depression, etc. But this is a question you must solve
for yourself. You know what is possible to you and what is not. But
keep an eye on the fact that you are temperamentally inclined to go
to extremes! and this will show itself in your spiritual plans as
well as in your emotional life. I feel it is likely that God's Will
for you just now will be that you shall take things quietly, as they
come, doing what turns up to and for Him and being content to offer
just that. After all the oblation which becomes the matter of
consecration is ordinary daily bread, isn't it? "I look not for thy
gifts but for thee." You do not seem to me at all a useless person--
on the contrary, I think you have a great deal to offer, and should
be happy in spite of the Cloud.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 23 October.

 As to confession, I very much hope you will come to feel it is a
good plan and will find the right person for it. If so, and I can
help you with the technique, let me know. You are sure to have many
ups and downs, and indeed real tumbles--but these don't in the end
matter, however agonizing the bruises, if one carries on! And it
helps to that, to have the definite process of going and telling
God's delegate, on your knees, about it all, and receiving help and
the sacrament of forgiveness. I am sure you should find this deeply
tranquillizing and strengthening and it would help you to realize
that the important thing is your whole Christian life and intention,
not your very real difficulties and falls. No--it would not in the
least mean that I gave you up and handed you over. There is plenty
of room both for a father-in God, to whom you go to make your
confession, and, so to speak, an aunt-in-God in the background!

I think all this readjustment of life must be a hard patch for you
and make great demands on patience and long-suffering and
self-oblivion. Also that you are really getting on with it whatever
you may think to the contrary. The one point of real importance is
to have enough trust and humbleness not to be discouraged even by
really spectacular falls! In the sight of God a few somersaults
aren't nearly as bad as going into the garden to eat worms.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
Advent 2.

 . . . I'm glad you wrote, for I was just tuning-up to write to you!
One of my many defects as a physician is that I remember several
items for the prescription after the patient has left.

(1) Realize quite definitely that your storms are to be classified
as psychic illness and not as sin. It is true you are responsible
for doing your best to cure them--as any other malady--but, when in
spite of yourself, they occur, you are not to regard yourself as
"guilty." Your emotional life has got out of gear, and you have to
bear the resultant suffering and humiliation, just as if your tummy
had got out of gear, and let you down for a time. Accepting this as
the reality of the situation will take out the worst of the sting,
and also be a real help towards getting yourself in hand. When
anything does happen to touch you off, say to your self at once if
you can, "This situation is perfectly all right really; my horrible
feelings are merely my possessiveness getting inflamed--a tummy-ache
of the soul." Slight attacks can sometimes be stopped this way--and
each one defeated is a long step towards ultimate victory.

(2) I think you would be wise to use bodily as well as spiritual
helps. I don't advise a psychologist but I do advise a decent and
sensible nerve-specialist to whom you could frankly describe the
situation. For I am sure a suitably compounded sedative would help
you a lot, quiet you, and so heighten your control. This is not a
cowardly resource or a second-class ticket. Our bodies and nerves
enter into all our mental states. In default, when you feel a real
storm brewing, at once take two luminols, or similar harmless
sedatives, and lie down. Yours is a case for circumventing the
enemy--that excellent dream showed you the results of direct attack.

(3) Confession. Prepare somewhat like this. First, consider, quite
generally, your life from childhood to (say) 18 or 20. If any known
wrong act, habit, relationship, etc.--anything you are ashamed of
--emerges, note it down. Then take your adult life in five-year
chunks, and consider it in the same way, specially observing your
chief faults and temptations and when you fell into them or failed
to resist. Don't do this with a tooth-comb but quite generally. The
final few years you will take in greater detail, especially as
regards your chief faults and difficulties, sins of omission and of
thought as well as of act. The things that matter are all forms of
misdirected or insufficient or self-regarding love, you will find;
and 1 Cor. xiii forms a very good examination paper. The easiest
plan is to write down one's findings and take the paper with one to
Confession. Say (if you have not made an appointment before), "This
is my first Confession," and then the Confession we have in Compline
up to "by my own fault," and then add "especially I confess" and
give the contents of your notes. If you get stuck, the priest will
probably help you out; and at the end will talk to you a little
before giving absolution and a "penance," usually a prayer to say as
an act of penitence. Finally, he blesses you or says, "Go in peace,
your sin is done away," and you just get up and go away to another
part of the church and say your "penance" and thanksgiving. ...

But one confession won't work a miracle; though I am sure it will
release and help, and also [show], that you have made a start in the
direction of victory.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 New Year's Day, 1934.

 . . . This seems just the right forward-looking day to write to
you: even though at the moment we are wrapped in a thick fog! I am
sorry for all the apparent bad luck, and not getting to Confession
when you had primed yourself for it. Never mind. The outward act is
the least part, and the "awful list" of sins, etc., is got rid of,
the moment you have offered it to God with gratitude for His
patience and love. Wait a minute now, as next week I shall be seeing
someone whom I can ask about the sort of priest I would like you to
go to. Meanwhile resist the inclination to re-examine the
collection! It is out of your charge now.

I'm glad the sedative stopped minor storms--each time that happens
it means a trench won, and though I don't deny there are a good many
of them, still "Are we downhearted? NO." As to the doctor--I just
think that all this is a severe strain on nerves and body, and part
of what you suffer is psycho-physical and should be dealt with from
that end. You need all the help you can get on all levels, and some
wise medical advice might be such help. But if you feel strongly
against this leave it for a bit, treating yourself sensibly, not
scolding yourself and when you do come a cropper saying, to God,
"This is my weakness and knowledge of it can purify me and make me
more dependent on You. Give me your strength, and help me to go on
again as if nothing had happened." When your desire and love are
truly centred on God and His purposes, not in a fiery way but in a
gentle selfabandoned way, the demon of possessiveness will get one
of the worst snubs he ever had in his life. I am glad you have
identified that tendency to collect material and brood over it, as
the first stage in storm-production. The first minute you notice
that, say, "No, you don't! this is just the dog hunting in the
dust-bin. Come away and attend to the things God wants done now."
There is a saying of von Hugel's you should keep for such moments--"
The best thing we can do for those we love is to help them to escape
from us." Very hard, but true--and moreover the best way to keep all
the pure and noble and enduring part of love. I want you to accept
all the events and deprivations of your life because God is in them;
and all the pains and struggles connected with your great power of
loving and longing to give yourself, because these are the very
disciplines and purifications that power of loving needs if it is to
be useful to Him. You are winning the war, even though some of the
engagements go wrong.

Eve of the Epiphany, 1934.

To U.V.
 The Christmas roses and violets arrived in absolute perfection. I
have never seen such lovely ones. They are a perfect joy and have
made a lovely vase to stand before my Donatello Madonna,* and also a
little bowl in my own room. Thank you so very very much.

* This Donatello plaque presented by her husband is now E.U.'s
Memorial in the Chapel at Pleshey.

[? January, 1934.]

To G.F.
 I look forward with childish pleasure to our holiday. I hope it
will be like Origen's description of the first hermits: "They dwelt
in the desert where the air was more pure and the heaven more open
and God more familiar."

Jan. 10, 1934.

To L.K.
 I'm glad you wrote and I think you have managed to express the
situation on paper quite clearly. It is a perfectly usual situation
and one that anyone being led by God along your path is bound to
have to face, sooner or later. I know how horrible it is but it is a
fine test of loyalty and courage. All you are required to do about
it is to keep as calm as you can and go through with it, making your
chief prayer to God deliberate acts of acceptance of the discipline
He has sent you. That scrupulous fear that, after all, you did not
love God for Himself alone but there was an element of self-seeking
in it, is part of the experience and shows too what it is meant to
do for you--namely, purify your love.

We all need that. He draws us first by our own needs and longing and
then afterwards, when we can stand it, to a pure love which does
not even secretly desire reward. The transition, when the jam-jar is
removed from the nursery table and only the loaf is left--is very
bitter to our babyish spirits but must happen if we are to grow up.
It is St. John of the Cross's Night of the Senses you have come to.
Face the fact, and trust God and not your own miserable sensations.
You are being made to dissociate love from feeling and centre it on
the will, the only place where it is safe! This does not mean
feeling has gone for ever, or ardour, or joy. They are to come back,
at God's moment not yours, in a far better, deeper form. It is
rather like one of the long stuffy tunnels in a mountain railway
--they seem to go on and on, and then suddenly we come out, one
stage higher up the mountain than we went in. ...

I know the distaste for Holy Communion does seem the last straw. But
again, it can remove the emphasis from what He gives, to the total,
abandoned giving of yourself. Do not reduce your Communions, but do
not try to beat yourself up into a "suitable" stage of mind and
soul. Take them as an act of loving obedience.

Do not add to your prayer--even reduce mental prayer a little if it
is a great strain--and replace by Offices or vocal prayer, offered,
however dryly and coldly, as an act of service. Keep quiet inwardly
and let God act. Don't dash about trying to get out of the fog and
do not be frightened. He is in it, and is working on your soul
through it. You will find it a help to put as much of yourself as
you can in the active side just now--practical work for others,
etc., and offer that. Don't be worried--all is well. It is God you
want and God Who wants you.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Shrove Tuesday [? 1934].

To D.E.
 . . . I don't know when anything has made me so happy as your
letter. I've always felt that if only you could be protected from
discouragement and persuaded to carry on, God would show Himself to
you--and then you would know it was, in spite of all the
difficulties and sufferings, more than worth while. I'm not
surprised you "get excited," for it is so wonderful and
overwhelming. But all the same, please keep as calm as you can! It
all makes a considerable strain on the emotional apparatus, and
yours has to be treated with care. The "tiresome desire to be alone"
is an inevitable part of it; and I'm very sorry that conditions at
present make it so difficult for you. All you can do at the moment,
I think, is (a) to take such opportunities as you reasonably can
without neglecting either duties or health, and (3) humbly offer up
to God this unsatisfied desire as your "reasonable sacrifice." You
have to reckon with the fact that the intensity of your nature is
now turned into this channel; and it may be a very useful, indeed
essential, bit of training for you, that your desire for communion
with God is checked for the time being by circumstance. Do you
remember the letter on packing in von Hugel's Letters to a Niece?
That just fits your case! All the same, I hope a little time to
yourself may soon be possible. You don't say whether you have
managed anything about confession . . . don't scrape yourself raw in
preparing the confession!

Feb. 16, 1934.

To L.K.
 What a wonderfully unsuitable beginning to Lent; to have your
lovely box of spring bits to unpack and play about with. There's no
present I enjoy so much as that. And to have real country violets
and tall snowdrops to sniff at is a perfect joy.

Non-liturgically it came at a very good moment, as we had a mild
motor smash on Monday (our first!) and I'm in bed with a face like a
prize fighter and (supposed) slight concussion . . . nothing really
but awfully inconvenient. ...

1st Sunday in Lent, 1934.

To M.C.
 . . . Except for the mess made of work, etc., concussion is a
lovely disease, I think. You just lie in a "sleepy device" as the
Cloud of Unknowing says, like a particularly contented baby in the
arms of God, and don't care a straw about anything. However, this
blissful state is rapidly passing and I hope to get to Holy Trinity,
Sloane Street, for my address on Thursday. So you might think of

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 1 June, 1934.

 . . . The new St. John of the Cross [Allison Peers' translation]
seems to me very good, as far as it has gone: but of course the
Spiritual Canticle volume will be the real test. I have been
spelling out the Spanish in Dom Chevallier's edition--marvellous,
isn't it? No one could have guessed from any of the translations
what an experience the encounter with the original is--the short
version I mean, of course. I'm quite in agreement with those who
think St. John did not write the other. It seems to me incredible
that, considering what the short one is like, how deeply and
passionately personal, he could have sat down and made a nice neat
treatise on the mystic way out of it!

I am so pleased to hear your book is nearly ready--I wish I could
hope to review it for Spectator but, alas, under the present (strong
Nonconformist and Modernist) editor, I get practically nothing from
them and the sort of books which interest me are seldom noticed at
all. I have just begun, however, a very interesting new job--to
write the volume on Christian Worship for the Library of
Constructive Theology. It is to include individual as well as
liturgic and corporate prayer, and I am given a fairly free hand--so
am quite looking forward to it. ...

Philip Neri and Antony Puss send respectful purrs to Tinker and tell
him to Stick to It and Never say Die. They hope he saw the photos of
England's largest cat in the papers--weight 35 lbs. and waist 33

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 12 June, 1934.

To F.H.
 . . . I loved all you said about your new insights, and the Divine
light on the dishcloths and the dirty water. But I did not at all
like that failure to carry out orders in the matter of eating eggs.
You know as well as I do that it is a direct obligation to God to
keep your body as healthy as you can. I hope and trust you have
confessed it all to Rev. Mother now and are having the food you
need, even though it does make you different from others and is
difficult and so forth. Tabloids may be a temporary help, but you
must have your proper meals. So if it has not yet been done, please
"pluck up your courage," and tell Rev. Mother you have not been
carrying out her instructions and why. I am perfectly sure the
Community do not think you an "object of charitable hospitality."
Mother X. called you "a blessing to them." So there! But if you get
run down and really ill, they will be terribly worried and

21 June, 1934.

To L.K.
 I loved your letter and am quite glad you do feel a bit stirred up
about the Christo-centric, incarnational side of religion. I expect
I rubbed it in rather, because I am temperamentally like you in
that, and left to myself would just go off on God alone. And Baron
von Hugel made me see that it simply won't do and does lead to a
sort of arrogance (as you discovered!) as well as missing some of
the loveliest, deepest and most touching parts of Christianity. You
will always, I think, be mainly theocentric. But just keep an eye on
the other side, without fussing! . . .

It is hard not being able to be alone when you are longing for it.
Still, this apparently is what God asks of you at the moment and so
is all right, and the renunciation of your own will can just be
offered to Him as your adoring prayer, can't it? After all, even
were you in a contemplative order, you'd have to carry on and put up
with it if you had to give out the groceries just when you felt
inclined for prayer! Things usually are like that I find.

July 19, 1934.

 No, one can't like St. Teresa as much as St. John of the Cross--at
least some people do much better, but I do not think you and I ever
will. Still, I am glad you feel friends with her. Suso perhaps was a
mistake! Too personal and romantic. Still, he has some fine bits
about God, and doubtless for him, his kind of prayer was right. It's
like Tribal Lays--there are Nine and Ninety Ways and Every Single
One of them is Right.

I hope you will have time again for your "real" prayer soon: because
I am sure you will get to feel very starved without it. But the
summer is a difficult time.

I had 100 Clergy Wives at X. No one told me there was Mass at the
Cathedral, and the bell rang while I was in my bath, but I arrived,
damp, just after the Gospel and found NO one connected with the
Quiet Day there. . . . Well then, I had them from 11 to
5 in a frowsty little church, and we had ham-sandwiches for lunch
being Friday; and all felt it was a Wonderful and Devotional Day.
And I got back to London 10:30 p.m. feeling that was that. Still,
they did like it, and I had talks with a few and they were nice

I forgot to say, it seems to me, though sending R. your precious
book seemed a wash out, it has probably stirred her up. ... So
perhaps like Oman your heap of corn was used in another way than you
thought! It generally is.

13 September, 1934.

To G.F.
 . . . All suffering involves some imperfection, disharmony, wrong
relation or decay--and all this is quite unthinkable in connection
with the Being of God who is Perfection and Harmony and eternal Joy.
What's more, I don't understand how anyone who loves God can bear
the idea that He suffers. And though in Christ God reveals Himself
right down in human nature and in closest communion with human
suffering--which indeed has to endure the utmost as the vehicle of
such revelation--that does not mean that God qua God suffers.
Suffering belongs altogether to the temporal and successive, not to
the eternal sphere. The "torments of the lost" are the torments of
knowing they have failed to achieve eternal life = God.

Eve of St. Francis, 1934.

To M.C.
 Thank you so much for reading "Sacrifice"* so quick and kindly and
all you say. . . . As to why man conceives that God requires the
death of the victim, the most recent and reputable books on
Sacrifice say the essential point is the total gift, not the death
which is, I take it, man's way of responding to the total demand.
"God's word is ALL," as R.S.W. says, and primitive man in order that
the life He asks for may go to Him, slays the body and releases the
life. Perhaps I ought to say a bit on that? but even in primitive
sacrifice there are meal-offerings--the Evening Sacrifice of the
Temple was "bloodless" and there is surely a reminiscence of this in
the Eucharistic oblation? Yes--I think the death is the action from
man's side, and the response of God is always life. It all begins in
the rough in the jungle, but points towards some mystery of the
Divine action which lies beyond us still. Meanwhile, for Christians,
surely it is a "holy and living sacrifice"? and unless the offered
victim typifies the self-oblation of the offerer, it is displeasing
to God. This, it seems to me, is what the Prophets meant to
denounce. Yes! I agree about attendance at Mass--it is of course the
snag of all institutional religion but perhaps specially of that
kind--and yet, I would not say that the pure act of worship was not
in one sense an end in itself. I can't bear the "worship God because
it makes us better" type of religion.

* A chapter of her book Worship.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 19 October, 1934.

To F.H.
 This brings you my love and prayers and blessings for Wednesday's
Clothing--it is a day I always go to Mass so I will make my
Communion specially for you. How I hope this act of oblation will
bring great peace and growth to you and give to God something He can
use for the furtherance of His Will. I had such a nice letter from
the Rev. Mother, who seems very sure that it is all right.

As to Confession, you will of course have to conform to the custom
of your Order and the directions of the Rev. Mother and this act of
obedience in itself will be good and bring grace with it. The
confession itself may and probably will, be just an unrewarding and
uncongenial duty. There do really seem to be some souls who never
find it anything but irksome. In such a case, having explained
yourself to your Superior, act as you are told, but take it very
simply. Mention plain faults, omissions, imperfect dispositions etc.
which come to the surface in a brief self-examination, make an act
of contrition and leave it at that. I understand it very well as I'm
much the same myself and Baron von Hugel when he directed me never
allowed me to go at all!

Oct. 29, 1934.

 I am just back from Pleshey, where I received your messages and the
delightful gift of your Memoir of Mrs. Waterhouse. Thank you so very
much for it. I have read it for the first time this evening and even
in the state of mental and spiritual coma which follows conducting a
large retreat, I have appreciated it greatly and so loved gaining a
picture of the author of the Little Book of Life and Death--whom, to
my great loss, I never had the opportunity of meeting.

How happy and interested she would have been to see the Franciscan
revival within the English Church now, and the young men and women
deliberately turning their backs on luxury and even comfort and
taking the "3-a-week vow" as Tertiaries, or, as Friars, keeping
within the 133. 4d. a week of the dole.

All Saints, 1934.

TO M. C.
 How nice to write to you on one of the nicest days of the year.
. . . Oh, how I love All Saints and Wisdom III. 6.*

* "As gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a
burnt offering."

All Souls, 1934.

To G.F.
 The flowers stand in a row under the rood in the study and make a
festival of holy beauty all to themselves. I read the Baron's lovely
bit, "Look up! look up! what a glorious, touching company"--d'you
remember? I always feel All SS. is his day. And to-day read through
the Matins of the Dead. One of the most beautiful bits in the
Breviary, I think, like a symphonic poem. . . . We got to the Zoo
and the first thing I saw were Pelicans, who said quite clearly, "O
beata solitudine!"--which of course they were not enjoying at the

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 6 November, 1934.

To L.K.
 . . . I think, about suffering, we can offer it to God for "a
particular intention" without any suggestion of bargaining--which
would, of course, be horrible. We offer it as a kind of prayer
--sometimes the only kind we can offer--"I offer you this suffering
which I accept and bear--I offer it as my prayer for so-and-so.
Please take it and use it." Specially we can offer it surely--
because we are "members of Christ," as an atonement for sin--this, I
suppose, is what St. Catherine meant when she used to say to the
naughty, "I will bear the burden of your sin." Offering it for a
definite object will, of course, like all intercession, be in
subservience to the Will of God--which makes it all right.

As to that spiritual suffering you speak of, I think it is what some
souls, not all, are asked to bear and to offer--their share in the
Cross--it's not the same at all as the kind that comes from feeling
our disharmony with God. How much of it comes to each of us and for
how long, is His affair, not ours--but we must accept it with
gratitude and use it as well as we can. I agree that it is very
likely that you will be given a good deal of it; and anyhow the
radiant, consoled prayer of God's vivid Presence is rather a
beginner's prayer really and sooner or later--when God sees you are
strong enough--He is certain to use your power of prayer for His
redemptive purposes and that is always painful. No one--not the
greatest saint--goes on in that lovely light all the time. You will
have just common grey weather and storm and fog and perhaps even
intense darkness before you have done--that's all part of the
"Leave all and follow Me." But it's all right. I would not forecast
anything or try to look ahead or wonder how much you can bear--just
leave yourself in God's Hand. "I am with thee, saith the Lord." If
you feel a definite pressure to leave contemplative prayer, and pray
for others--then you must obey each time. But where it is left to
you, give a little time anyhow to acts of simple love towards God.
It soothes and braces us to remember His Beauty and be glad of it
even when we don't see it at all. I think that's all for the moment
--except of course avoiding strain, getting enough fun and so forth.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 13 December, 1934.

To A.M.J.
 Thank you very much for your letter, and for writing as frankly as
you have done. It is not easy to advise someone otherwise unknown on
a sample letter, so if what I say does not meet the case, I hope you
will write again. I have been during my life (I am now approaching
60) through many phases of religious belief and I now realize--have
done in fact for some time--that human beings can make little real
progress on a basis of vague spirituality. God and the soul, and
prayer as the soul's life, and the obligation of responding to God's
demand, are real facts--in fact the most real of all facts--and they
are the facts with which orthodox religion deals. As to dogmas which
you cannot accept--e.g. the Virgin Birth--it is useless to force
yourself on these points. Leave them alone for the time being
neither affirming nor rejecting them, and give your mind and will to
living in harmony with those truths which you do see. This is the
way--in fact the only way--to get further light.

For your own reading I think if you do not know them you would find
Baron von Hugel's Letters, Dr. Temple's Christian Faith and Life,
the Letters of St. Francis de Sales, and Grou's Hidden Life of the
Soul valuable. You probably know the Confessions of St. Augustine,
but if not do study it. When you speak of reading more than you
practise in your life, you put your finger on a real source of
spiritual weakness. You would benefit by a simple rule of life: so
much definite time each day given to prayer and spiritual reading;
definite acts of, e.g. charity, selfdenial, patience, aimed at
"mortifying" whatever your special faults of character may be. The
"active" and "passive" sides of your nature are meant to
collaborate, not compete! As to Holy Communion, consider that this
is the way in which Christians have always drawn near to God,
offered themselves to Him and received from Him spiritual food.
Leave the more doctrinal side alone for the present, and go humbly,
taking no notice of how you "feel." This really matters very little!

50 C.H.S.
 Epiphany, 1935.

To L.K.
 . . . I've found, myself, that the mark of the direction which is
meant for one by God is, that it is never used up; one re-reads it
at each stage and finds it applying in a new way one had not thought
of before.

I think now, that one of the things you've got, quite gradually, to
aim at, is some kind of harmony or balance between your outer and
inner life, otherwise the strain will become too much. Plainly you
are required at present to live both lives; and so in both you can
aim at God, though in different ways. I think you have to learn not
to pour yourself out too much in outward activities, relationships,
etc., but maintain a certain reserve. This is an awfully important
thing for one's inner peace; but it takes a lot of doing, so you
must expect it to be a slow job. It is really of course an aspect of
detachment--you are to love much and give yourself much and yet
maintain an independence of soul, fully given to nothing but God.
When you have got this inner stability you won't be so much troubled
by that painful shrinking from people and external action; nor will
these things spoil your prayer (when they are part of your job)
because you won't lose yourself in them. But some degree of pain and
loneliness you are sure to have. Try to arrange things so that you
can have a reasonable bit of quiet every day and do not be
scrupulous and think it selfish to make a decided struggle for this.
You are obeying God's call and giving Him the opportunity to teach
you what He wants you to know, and so make you more useful to Him
and other souls.

Your letter sounds as if you had got a wee bit strained and fussy.
Remember that "the Holy Spirit works always in tranquillity" and
even the most devout fuss is not any good to Him at all. There will
inevitably be great tension between the natural and supernatural
sides of your life, yet even this must be drowned in the peace of
God. I'm afraid this sounds very muddling but you will pick out what
you want. . . .

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 24 January, 1935.

To A.M.J.
 I am so sorry to have been slow in answering your letter and
acknowledging the very kind gift of your poems. There seems to have
been a lot to do lately and correspondence is in arrears. I was so
interested in (your book) and think it is beautiful. It seems to me
that what you say there is true as far as it goes but not the whole
story--because, as well as our "psychic drive," which is of course
the same drive whether we direct it to selfsatisfaction or to God,
there is something else, namely a real transcendental spark in us
which, once it is awakened, can only be satisfied by God. It must
take everything else with it, but is definitely not just Libido. It
belongs wholly to the Eternal.

This too is the reason why you failed to be satisfied by New Thought
and all that sort of thing. It leaves out the "supernatural spark"
and the soul's thirst for God alone, and is, really, a very refined
form of self-cultivation and self-satisfaction. I don't a bit want
to press "orthodoxy" on you. I have every reason to know how
difficult it is and how often it ruins and makes repulsive the
truths it exists to proclaim. But I do very much want you to see
that "poetry and romance" are not enough for religion. It asks an
immense self-giving and some real austerity to respond to the yet
greater self-giving of God.

Have you read Kirk's Vision of God? There is a good deal in it you
would probably like. Also von Hugel's tiny Life of Prayer and
Maritain's equally small Prayer and Intelligence repay very close
attention. You want to get into your bones the realization that the
first movement of religion is from God to us and not from us to God.
I expect you know Otto's splendid Idea of the Holy; if not, do read
it. If you have a difficulty about getting books I could lend you
some of these. Do please write if you wish to, and don't hesitate to
ask questions if it helps.

As to prayer, follow (at present) your own attraction towards God
Pure: do what is real and sincere to you, not what is not. But keep
well in mind that this is only one path, and try to turn sometimes
with thoughts and affections to Christ, remembering it is still the
Absolute God Who draws near to you in Him.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Shrove Tuesday, 1935.

To F.H.
 I am afraid, my poor child, you have had a very stormy time--but
so thankful you did not carry out the wild impulse to run off, and
did do the only right thing and took all your troubles to Rev.
Mother. There is still quite a lot of "private judgment" about you,
and you won't be happy, truly and peacefully happy, in Community
Life till all notions of taking things into your own hands are put
right away. This is not in the least bit meant as a scolding--as I
am sure you know--but even now I don't think you realize what
"obedience" in the religious life implies. It means, for instance,
that you cannot just ignore the order to study 3 hours--but if your
timetable makes this impossible you must explain this to Sister B.
and leave her to decide on readjustments. I think you are very lucky
in having so kind and really understanding a Mother and I do so hope
now that this crisis is over that you will be happier. You want at
the moment a thorough rest, to recover from the exhaustion of the
mental uproar: and nothing leaves such utter limpness behind. Sister
M.'s death of course had a lot to do with it--that, and the
monotonous nature of your work, without sufficient mental
relaxation. So lie low and keep quiet so far as possible for the
time being. I would so love to see you happy and tranquil in your
work for God.

50 C.H.S.
 Feb. 8, 1935.

To L.K.
 . . . Thank you very much for the books. . . . This one I send now
[Spiritual Canticle of St. John of the Cross] I think one of the
loveliest in some ways ever written, so I hope you'll like it too.
You'll see it has two versions of the same book. No. 2 is really, I
think, the clearest and the best to read. . . .

I am interested you have been hearing Zernov. I have just joined the
Anglo-Russian confraternity--not much use really as I am hopeless at
societies and guilds and always forget their rules and prayers. But
they have a magazine with very good things in it, and also I am most
interested in the Orthodox Church. Next time you are in London we
might try to go to the Greek Cathedral or Russian Church. . . .

I am sorry things have been difficult. . . . But do not add to all
this by "always feeling" it must be your fault. I am sure this is
not true and though humility and acknowledgment of one's real
failings is good, the gratuitous eating of worms not put before us
by God does not nourish our souls a bit--merely in fact upsets the
spiritual tummy.

I am sure that you do genuinely try to deal with the situation
 He has given you, but I doubt if the most superhuman care and
sacrifice could entirely prevent these attacks. Take things a bit
more "as they come"--do all you can in a spirit of love and quite
peacefully say to God, "I'm very sorry I do not make a better job of
it." After all, if you did make a miraculously good job of it that
might not fall exactly within His plan for you, and might even bring
with it a subtle temptation against humility. As to that tension
between the inward and the outward life--yes I think to some extent
it is inevitable for a long time yet anyhow! So I would not worry
about that but accept it as part of your material. No doubt as you
do grow more supple you will, as you say, go in and out between
prayer and work quite simply and without strain, being moved by God.
But that is a good way ahead and at present simplicity and
self-abandonment will consist in accepting quite quietly this fact
of tension between the two sides of your life and offering that,
like everything else, to God. When you catch the idea about "not
pouring yourself out" over each thing--this will help to reduce the
tension. But do not strain after an understanding of it. God knows
the proper time for giving you new lights.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Feb. 15, 1935.

To Y.N.
 I think this tiny book* (valuable out of all proportion to its
size) will solve some of your problems. It is by the late Abbot of
Downside, who knew more really about prayer than anyone I ever met.

* Contemplative Prayer: now printed in Dom Chapman's Spiritual

As to your feeling (which everyone has at first!) that it is somehow
wrong to leave intercession, etc., for this silent absorption in God
(1) it is His call to your soul, otherwise you couldn't do it--and
this takes priority of everything else. (2) As you go on you will
find you can take the people you desire to pray for with you into
the great stream of this prayer--and this is the very best thing you
can do for them! For in this prayer it is the deepest part of the
soul that operates--it is, as The Cloud says, a "work," a spiritual
"action" and self-offering, and you can do it for others as well as
for yourself. Don't overdo it--there is a certain amount of strain
involved, even when it seems all peace and joy!

Do write at any time if I can be of any use to you. Meanwhile, there
is really nothing to worry about! You will find a good bit rather
differently put about the Cloud type of prayer in Grou--especially
the section on prayer in L'Ecole de Jesus.

50 C.H.S.
 April 8, 1935

To L. K.
 . . . Thank you for sending back St. John of the Cross. I thought
you'd like him! I hope you will like this too--or at least a great
deal of it [Spiritual Letters of Dom John Chapman]. Its writer knew
more about prayer really than anyone else I've ever met; and I think
most of these letters are quite splendid. He was such a darling too
--so utterly natural and free from all pious jargon and nonsense.
. . .

I am so glad you begin to see the point about a certain reserve in
your soul kept only for God. Don't worry about it or "try" too much.
Now the seed has been planted it will grow, as quickly as He wills,
without your fussing about it! ...

Yes, it is "of faith" that God dwells in our souls "by essence of
grace." Of course all spatial language is really unmeaning as
applied to Him because He is pure Spirit and is present everywhere
in His fullness. The mystics always say He indwells the "ground of
the soul" below the level of everyday consciousness, utterly
distinct from and yet more present to us than we are to ourselves.
Some find it easiest to withdraw and find Him in their souls and
others to turn to Him as if He were the sun: both true and neither

Dockray, Westmorland.
 Holy Week, 1935.

 . . . We are 1,000 feet up on the fells, a lovely wild place with a
darling old grey church, very small, growing out of the ground and
so much prayed in by its dear and very humble priest and one or two
others that it gives you a marvellous welcome.... The weather is
perishing cold and dreams of eiderdowns and woolly jackets haunt my
prayers, but we are quite well!

18 May, 1935.

To G.F.
 I'm getting along with "Personal Worship" [a chapter of the book
Worship]. . . but am afraid it's rather recondite and impracticable
and know I ought to dilate on the rather emotional Christo-centric
devotion which seems to colour most people's private prayers, but
don't find it easy to tackle. L. tells me that their best conductor
advised the staff "just to whisper the word Jesus on first waking
up, and there was no limit to what it might effect." . . . It's in
the best Christian tradition, yet I'm sure its origins are emotional
and imaginative; not, in the pure sense, religiousness.

25 May, 1935.

 I am both glad and sorry you feel like that. Sorry because it is
very painful and takes a lot of handling, and glad because, as the
Abbot says, it is a "very good state" to be in! Anyhow, you cannot
help it. Of course it's not imagination, though one's state of
nerves, mind and body all have their effect. I am prepared to find
in a year or two you are more fundamentally at peace than now. I
feel in my bones one should be. Like the blessed in the heaven of
the moon--perfectly content to see God only by reflection, and not
as those in the heaven of the sun, because it is His will for them
and the fact that He is, is enough. But some people . . . don't feel
like that and presumably they are those who have to go further and
(en route) fare worse. . . . When the interior stripping and
readjustment is complete you should come back to ordinary life to
find it more full of interest than ever before. It is the transition
that is tough. How nice if we knew about our insides, instead of
feeling our way about by rule of thumb as we have to do.

Ascension Day, 1935.

To Y.N.
 I was so very pleased to hear from you again--and it is nothing but
a joy and privilege for me, if I can be of any use in supporting and
reassuring you.

All I can say--and I say it with as much certainty as a poor human
can have in these matters--is that your prayer is all right. It is
God's gift, not your work, and all you have to do is to forget all
the jargon about union and aspiration and so on and respond to Him
with humble love. You have only three points to bother about:

1. All strain must be carefully avoided and if there were physical
effects of any kind, you must ease off. But I don't expect this.

2. Some vocal prayer, psalm or office each day and some reading and

3. Take it with a light hand--quite ready to let it go, and accept
aridity or anything else, if it is God's will.

I'm thankful you read Dom Chapman. I very nearly wrote and told you
to. He knew more about real prayer than anyone I ever met. And much
of what he says applies directly to your case. Do you remember among
other things that he says this type of prayer need not necessarily
mean a very high spiritual state--he has known souls attain greater
sanctity by the "ordinary ways." This I think is very reassuring for
those who are worried by finding their own prayer called by very
highsounding names! He makes fun of all these distinctions; and just
insists that this simple contemplation leading on to the sort of
prayer you describe, is the right thing for those called to it.

As a matter of fact, you have no choice! as you say you can do
nothing but accept. What is worrying you isn't your prayer but the
rubbish people talk about it! So carry on and be thankful!

30 June, 1935.

To G.F.
 This morning was so queer. A very grimy and sordid Presbyterian
mission hall in a mews over a garage, where the Russians are allowed
once a fortnight to have the Liturgy. A very stage property
Ikonostasis and a few modern Ikons. A dirty floor to kneel on and a
form along the wall. . . . And in this two superb old priests and a
deacon, clouds of incense and, at the Anaphora, an overwhelming
supernatural impression.

14 September, 1935.

 As to the devoirs of the troisieme sort, to such as me they only
turn up as it were now and then, but then probably carry their own
sanction with them. Like the "interior words which do what they
say." As for instance certain jobs, as to which you know you are to
take them, and certain kinds of prayer which you are pressed to do.
These cases settle themselves. Those more on the border you would
keep in your mind and ask for more light on until they cleared up.
If they didn't clear up, the presumption would be that you were to
use your common sense about them. Of course the more entirely
surrendered and loving you were, the more sensitive you would become
to these pulls and pushes. But in ordinary cases the "inspiration"
must be checked by the general rules of religion, "the mind of the
Church," and, I think, by reason and a sound mind too. Otherwise
there is no defence against all the follies of "guidance."

28 October, 1935.

 You must read Gore's Life. When he was dying the Archbishop visited
him. He was very weak and kept sinking into half-consciousness and
murmuring to himself, "Transcendent glory! transcendent glory!"
Don't you love that? It reminds me so of when my friend E.R.B. was
dying and kept saying, "Such music! Such light!"

Christmas Day, 1935.

To L.M.
 I've had a lovely Lalique glass Madonna given me by one of my
youngest--a most naughty and extravagant gift but what is one to do?
It is such a strange thing, very modern and yet somehow very
spiritual--like the Platonic idea of the Nativity, different in
every light. . . .

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Eve of Jubilee (May 5), 1935.

To D.E.
 . . . You should take Fr. X.'s directions about sleeping, and a
more ordered life, very seriously indeed. Of course, he expects you
to carry out what he said!! And, though I fully understand it is
quite against your whole temperament, if you would make a simple
rule and stick to it regardless, you would find it bracing and
quieting, and would get all that really needs doing done! If as I
expect you don't have breakfast till 8:30 or 9, threequarters of an
hour for prayer and reading could surely come before that if you go
to bed in reasonable time? You once mentioned letter-writing as one
of the things which kept you up late--it is also one of the things
that should be disciplined, both as to length and frequency! No
letter-writing after 10:15, as an act of obedience to God, would
probably bring a quite new sense of leisure, and no one would be a
penny the worse. It looks impossible till you do it, and then you
find it is possible.

8 January, 1936.

To G.F.
 . . . My Indian turned out such a pet and so touching. He was quite
a pale and very gentle one, a Moslem professor Of philosophy, and
after various technical questions about mysticism, he suddenly said,
"You see, madam, for me there is really a personal question, I have
not the happiness of this experience of God, and I cannot live
without Him any more," and tears came into his eyes. It was
illuminating to observe that the fact he wasn't a Christian simply
didn't make any difference at all.

Just read such a nice little bit about Luther. When he'd finished
his Commentary on the verse in Romans about "all creation travailing
together, etc.," he turned to his little dog and said exultantly,
"Thou too shalt have a little golden tail!"

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Quinquagesima, 1936.

To A.B.
 As to your Lent--no physical hardships beyond what normal life
Provides--but take each of these as serenely and gratefully as you
can and make of them your humble offering to God. Don't reduce
sleep. Don't get up in the cold. Practise more diligently the art of
turning to God with some glance or phrase of love and trust at all
spare moments of the day. Read a devotional book in bed in the
morning, and strive in every way to make the ordinary discipline of
life of spiritual worth. Be specially kind and patient with those
who irritate you! And make of this effort an offering to God.
Instead of wasting energy in being disgusted with yourself, accept
your own failures, and just say to God, "Well, in spite of all I may
say or fancy, this is what I am really like--so please help my
weakness." This, not self-disgust, is the real and fruitful
humility. . . .

Please be very kind to yourself (Christians must always be kind to
animals, including their own animal part!) and get quite well.

Lent III, 1936.

To L.K.
 What you say in your letter seems to me all right: it means God has
shown you a little more of Himself. Thank Him for it very humbly and
let it gently soak in. That pure unmoved Godhead, the "wholly Other"
in which we have no part is something which many of the mystics
have realized and tried to describe. What we know or experience of
course is only the tiniest fragment and always will be--how could it
be otherwise? But when you say, at that centre, "God does not want
us or our worship"--then I think you go beyond what we can possibly
know. I think one must not speculate about it either way but just
love and offer oneself, and carefully guard against the danger,
always present with this kind of religious experience, of becoming
too exclusively abstract and impersonal--moving from God to Godhead.
Our immediate concern must always, mustn't it, be with God as He
moves towards us, touches us, reveals Himself to us, in Christ and
the Sacraments and in our experiences in prayer.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
14 May, 1936.

To D.E.
 . . . Have you read Aldous Huxley's Peace pamphlet, What are you
going to do about it? The end part I think fine, and just what all
of us ought to do for a start. Do get it: it consoles one a bit for
all the Ethiopian horrors and Musso's "intuitively willed war" and
the Church's tactful silence. It is all a horrible mystery; but more
mysterious that, immersed in such a seething pot, we can know and
desire the Love of God. It all seems to me, on a vaster scale, very
like the contrasts of the 14th century: all the outbursts of
violence and despotism and sin as the setting for the lives of some
of those who have known most about God.

Christmas Day, 1936

To G.F.
 I do hope your Christmas has had a little touch of Eternity in
among the rush and pitter patter and all. It always seems such a
mixing of this world and the next--but that after all is the idea!
. . . We had a hymn this a.m. I'd never sung before--"the seraphs
veiled their faces, but Joseph was not scared"--nice don't you

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Epiphany, 1937.

To F.H.
 No--I am not at all upset that you have refused to be put up for
election as Companion Sister. The awful thing would be to
contemplate profession when not sure of your vocation, either from
fear of displeasing Rev. Mother or any other cause. I am so glad you
told her at once, when you saw you could not go through with it. You
are, I think, one of the people who do best on a yearly vow which
you need not renew, because you must feel free! I am afraid it has
all been very painful for you but I am sure Rev. Mother and Sister
K. understand the situation--probably better than you do. Now just
wait quietly for a bit, and see where God is wishing to lead you. If
later He grants you a firm desire to give Him your life in this
Community, then accept the gift with gratitude whatever the cost to
yourself. If not, then accept whatever else He puts before you. But
whatever you do, don't fuss.

15 January, 1937.

To G.F.
 Most of these things don't belong to your type of prayer, e.g.
remembering about individuals when you are trying to worship the
Lord. When you've got to attend to individuals it will be forced on
you. I know it's awfully awkward and one feels a sweep when people
mention how hard they have been praying for one and so forth, and
one does not do the equivalent. But there it is.

"Just as you say, Lord" is a perfect intention, can't be beaten; is
the same as St. Francois' "Yes, Father, yes and always yes." And
anyhow I think there is always the implicit intention of "take me
and make me what you want." This with, in active life, doing things
for people "in the Lord" gives a perfectly sufficient objective and
material for your soul. Every word you say makes me feel dead sure
of this. All your discomfort really comes from the loving but
drastic action of God on your soul. It may get worse still, but
never mind. It's more than worth it and you ought to give thanks.
. . . I know it all feels vague and waste of time . . . but all
these doings and not doings are veils to the deeper action of the
soul, which is what matters really, and, still more, humbling
conditions in which the Lord can act.

19 January, 1937.

 . . . In the end the tension should be resolved for Christians by
really and actually finding the Lord so present in the visible that
it is transfigured and the gap between it and the Invisible is
closed; in fact by the complete eucharisticizing of life.

22 January, 1937.

 Seems to me, as the Lord requires us to live (as much as we can)
eternal life in succession, that, when we are fully abandoned, the
painful tension between the two will cease because we shall be
adjusted to His will. It is an element in our growth, incidental to
the fact that we are getting the idea but have not yet arrived.
Don't you think so?

Am reading Maisie Spens. She is difficult, but full of stuff. A
quite new angle on Our Lord's personality and action. Basic idea,
that His sayings arise from and point back to his inner experiences
and life of prayer. We shall like discussing it.

23 January, 1937.

 . . . Of course now that it* is walking about in its street
clothes, so to speak, I am mainly conscious of the strands of
thought I did not develop in it, though they are there in germ for
anyone who will take the trouble to make them sprout! ... If there
is one thing I seem to have learned in the course of my spiritual
wanderings, it is the oblique nature of all religious formulations
without exception and the deep underlying unity of all supernatural
experience. This does not prevent some ways being better than others
of course and some doors opening more easily and directly on the
Eternal. All this (for me) applies to prayer before the Reserved
Sacrament... I still attach very great value to it. But I no longer
feel able to put it in a class apart as a means of communion with
God. Perhaps my dear Russians, with their extraordinary sense of the
Presence in the Liturgy, and entire refusal to venerate the
"Reserved Gifts," have had something to do with this. You must go to
St. Philip's some Sunday morning when you are in London; though I
think perhaps it is even more overwhelming when the whole majestic
action is carried through by a handful of exiles in some shabby
little room with the poorest of "church furniture."

* Worship.

. . . the open-air element [in Our Lord's prayer-life], which always
seems to me so central to the Gospels and so sadly ignored by the

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Quinquagesima, 1937.

To F.H.
 Rev. Mother came to see me on Friday, and told me that it was now
quite decided that you should not continue your life with them. I am
sure that both you and she are right in coming to a final decision
about it and not postponing things further--but all the same, I
know you must be feeling very unhappy and am so sorry for you. Never
mind. You have given the life a good trial under exceptionally
favourable circumstances and have, I am sure, learned a great deal
both about your own capacity for responding to discipline and the
absolute demands of a consecrated life; and that is in itself a
great gain.

Had God honoured you by calling you to surrender your liberty and
take the vows of religion it would, of course, have been a glorious
thing; but humbly and frankly to acknowledge that this is not for
you, and to put your future into His hand, is also very pleasing to
Him, so you must not be discouraged.

[Feb. 22, 1937.]

To L.M.
 Your letter on arriving at Jerusalem came to-day. ... I gather
therefrom that the journey was far from Perfect Joy . . . and hope
you took a long rest in that upper room with the lovely view and the
balcony which does sound all right. . . .

I was thrilled by your description of the Jewish dedication service.
It sounds exactly like the Kiddush, the probable ancestor of the
Eucharist. . . . Lovely the cook doing it! Of course he had to wear
his tweed cap as all Jews must cover the head when they pray. Do try
to go to a good Synagogue service while you are in Palestine--such
an opportunity to explore these exciting Judeo-Christian
connections. . . .

Nedoncelle's book on the Baron (the one M. translated) is published
to-day by Longmans. It reads very well, is nicely produced and has a
lovely photo I had not seen before as frontispiece. The publishers
in their blurb quote Archbishop Goodier as saying that the Baron "is
better understood through his interpreters than through actual study
of his writings"!!! In other words, mince is easier to swallow than
a cut off the joint. Well! Well!

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 13 May, 1937.

To D.E.
 . .. Of course you can have Baker! Disregard his views on illness
and some of his more lurid acts of resignation. I think his notion
of the powers of the director excessive myself--the whole object
should be so to organize the life of the directed that he (she) can
walk alone. But this commonly takes a bit of time!

I've been thinking about hot water bottles and the Basques. It
reminds me a bit of an occasion years ago when Copec was being
launched, and L., its rather ardent secretary, observed at a meeting
that if each of us sacrificed something we really cared about Copec
would bring the Christian revolution in. Bishop Gore, who was in the
Chair, said grumpily, "If I gave up my pipe, what good would that do
to the world?" At the time I was all for L. and displeased with the
Bishop. But as a matter of fact he was living all the time a life of
complete selfrenunciation, doing his own room, very ascetic in Lent,
observing poverty and so on and taking it for granted without fuss:
while L.'s idea was a gesture, out of which she got quite a bit of
kick! And Gore remains an enduring influence because of that hidden
dedication, not done for this or that but just as his life towards
God. And I think it is the quiet steady stuff that tells in the long
run, not the startling sacrifices and acts of "reparation." No doubt
there are souls called to express their love of God through these
but they ought to be very careful about it!

Whit-Sunday, 1937.

 Nicholas Zernov's idea [in an article in Theology, March, 1937]
seems to me, as to you, beautiful but very limited in scope--few
have the chance of going, e.g. to an Orthodox Liturgy, and if they
do, need special knowledge if they are to make much of it. Alas,
there and at the Roman Mass they can't be communicants, which at
once creates a barrier to real unity, doesn't it? I am sure it is
good sometimes to join in the worship of other Churches, but this
alone won't lead us very far. The basis of reunion must be interior,
secret, out of the reach of all ecclesiastical controversies. I
think you have had a wonderful inspiration in basing it on Our
Lord's own prayer, which as you say includes and over-passes the
sacramental, and indeed all else. But I have no light as to how the
revelation you have received (for I am sure it is that) should be
used--whether something should be published about it, or whether it
should be allowed to spread like leaven. It is of course the idea of
the Corpus Christi made real, concrete, not a mere notion, as to
most people it is: a praying Church as the actual Body of the Lord.
I think you will have to wait and brood over it all a little longer
and see if light comes. Things are moving in the supernatural world
--don't you feel this in spite of all that seems so hostile to
religion? And at any time we may be given the clue to all the
separate messages and lights and they will fall into place as parts
of one whole.

16 June, 1937.

 [For the development of Unity in and through the Praying Christ:]
I do agree that ... a widespread group of praying souls, Orders and
individuals, is essential. Still more that these should belong to
all Christian Communions. I think verbal contacts much the best but
you will not be able to make enough of these for your purpose, so
you will be obliged to do some by letter. This leavening process
seems to me of the greatest importance; and time and effort spent on
it well worth while. Note that an unusual number of Christians of
all types caring for reunion will be in England this summer, at
Oxford for the "Church and State" and at Edinburgh for the "World
Conference." The Religious Orders should be most important for you.
. . . Of course use my name if you feel it is any use in making

50 C.H.S.
 Lammas Day [1937].

To L.R.
 I am sure the disciplined life based on the Sermon on the Mount is
not easy! After all, it was never intended to be, was it? If you can
get an hour a day (as much as possible consecutive and in the
morning) you ought I think to be able to handle the situation even
though just now the "sacrament of the present moment" may take
rather a knobbly sort of form. Still God is in it--and it is there
that you have to find a way of responding to Him and receiving Him
and are actually being fed by Him. Christianity does mean getting
down to actual ordinary life as the medium of the Incarnation,
doesn't it, and our lessons in that get sterner, not more elegant as
time goes on?

As to deliberate mortifications--I take it you do feel satisfied
that you accept fully those God sends. That being so, you might
perhaps do one or two little things, as acts of love, and also as
discipline? I suggest by preference the mortification of the Tongue
--as being very tiresome and quite harmless to the health. Careful
guard on all amusing criticisms of others, on all complaints however
casual and trivial; deliberately refraining sometimes (not always!)
from saying the entertaining thing. This does not mean you are to be
dull or correct! but to ration this side of your life. I doubt
whether things like sitting on the least comfortable chair, etc.,
affect you enough to be worth bothering about! But I'm sure custody
of the Tongue (on the lines suggested) could give you quite a bit of
trouble and be a salutary bit of discipline, a sort of verbal
hair-shirt. I think God does provide quite a reasonable amount of
material for self-denial, etc., in your life. This extra bit is for

 September, 1937.

To G.F.
 . . . The Deaconess is an old Pet, and pretty hot stuff too. Said
she always reckoned to have three hours in church every morning, of
which the first hour is spent getting rid of distractions and
"getting down to the stillness." She is going to pray for both you
and me every day. I thought we might as well have the benefit of it.
She must be very old as she casually referred to some work she did
in 1882. Has double cataract and broken wrist, but makes light of
it. ... I felt very abashed on being told that everything she knew
about prayer she learnt from me, as obviously she knew infinitely
more than I do. ... I told her I was rather having to leave off
active work, and she said, "O well, God has something else for you.
After all, it doesn't matter in the least what one does, so long as
it is what He wants."

8 September, 1937.

 . . . Wasn't Philippians (ii. 1-11) nice this a.m.? Especially the
marginal reading about "being made originally on the pattern of
God," wouldn't clutch at it but let it go. In Philippians I think a
deeply mature Paul is writing to very immature pupils--which is
perhaps why such deeps of meaning come gradually out of it that one
never suspected at first: things as it were he couldn't help putting
in because he had arrived at them, and they were just there for him.

September, 1937.

 . .. How glad I am you went to darling Southwell. And did you see
the listening Angel and the contemplative Hermit (whom I like even
better) on the screen, and did they tell you how all the plants on
those naturalistic capitals on the way to the Chapter House still
grow round there? So nice to think of them all trooping into the
Sanctuary to praise the Lord, and then remaining permanently.

As to your ascetical programme, I can only say with the American
lady, "My, Signora, if that isn't just how I feel myself!" Still,
the usual advice is to take one virtue at a time, and not cut off a
bigger chunk of perfection than one can chew.

As from 50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 22 September, 1937.

To A.B.
 . . . I feel the regular, steady, docile practice of corporate
worship is of the utmost importance for the building-up of your
spiritual life: more important, really, than the reading of advanced
books like De Caussade, though I am delighted that he attracts and
helps you and feeds your soul. But no amount of solitary reading
makes up for humble immersion in the life and worship of the Church.
In fact the books are only addressed to those who are taking part in
that life. The corporate and personal together make up the Christian
ideal. You will find the "new attitude" you speak of--the
simplicity, trust and dependence--can be kept up, and that your
Communions will play a very important part here, giving support of a
kind you can hardly get in any other way, reminding you too of the
great life of the Church, engulfing your little life, and checking
any tendency to individualism.

Sept. 27, 1937.

To M.C.
 Now for the moment I have only got odd jobs. Greatly daring I've
undertaken to give the Mercier Memorial Lecture at Whitelands
College on Oct. 8, Education and the Spirit of Worship, and only
hope I'll have voice enough when the time comes. Do think of it! I
wonder whether you feel as I do that the most difficult thing about
rocky health is not the bits when one is really ill and has
something as it were to get one's teeth into, but the ceaseless
uncertainty about whether one will be able to carry out one's
undertakings and the general shortening of the working day! this
isn't worth calling a Cross and I fear has no intercessory value at
all! but it is a bit of a discipline! and perhaps has value in
preparing for further and more useful suffering and stripping. . . .

October, 1937.

To G.F.
 Did G. tell you a jewel we got from the new list of tulips: "The
Bishop. A bloom of great substance. Blue base with white halo, borne
on a stiff and upright stem!"

 1 November, 1937.

 . . . A darling old saint of a thing--Fr. X.--came and said Mass.
Before he began, after putting his things on the altar, he turned
back, and said: "It's All Saints' Day! We are encompassed by a great
cloud of witnesses. They are not witnessing how we are getting on
with it--they are witnessing to what God meant and means to them! So
we are to think of them in their myriads, surrounding the Throne of
God, all standing on tiptoe and crying at the tops of their voices,
Alleluia!" After which he went on to say Mass. Don't you think it
was rather nice? And aren't you glad, although he is such a dreadful
loss to pacifism, that Dick Sheppard arrived so quietly and
comfortably in such good time for the Feast? Nice too that before
going he won that victory for peace at Glasgow. . . .

Did you do 1st Vespers of All Saints with the proper psalms and
antiphons? Very nice I thought.

Alexandra Hotel, Lyme Regis, Dorset.
 4 December, 1937.

To E.M.
 ... I have read the letter, and the paper you enclosed carefully;
and I think the upshot of it all is, that you are still far too much
inclined to make feeling the test of religion. All that matters in
religion is giving ourselves without reserve to God, and keeping our
wills tending towards Him. This we can always do; but to feel
devout, fervent, aware of His presence, etc., is beyond our control.
Everyone goes through "dry" times such as you are experiencing. They
are of great value as tests of our perseverance, and of the quality
of our love; and certainly don't mean that anything is wrong. All
lies in how we take them--with patience, or with restlessness. As to
the experience you describe, thank God for it; but don't worry if
you never again have it. Such things do happen to many people from
time to time, and especially at the beginning of a new phase in the
spiritual life, but in this life such "awareness" is never
continuous and its absence certainly does not necessarily mean that
we are stopping it by our own fault. Just be simple and natural with
God, ask Him to do with you what He wills, avoid strain and fuss of
all kinds, and be careful to keep in charity with all men, and you
will have done what is in your power. You say in your letter "below
everything, I believe I'm in a way very quiet and happy"--well,
that, not the fluctuating surface moods, represents your true
spiritual state, and is the work of God. Give Him thanks for it and
trust it and don't bother about the variable weather.

As from 50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 5 Dec., 1937.

 I have read Miss Bendix with the greatest interest and only wish
you had carried her theological adventures a bit further. I do see,
however, why Macmillan's reader criticized the end as lacking in
strength; and think also that the reason for this is fairly obvious.
Where one is transcribing, or building upon, an experience of one's
own, and has this experience very vividly present in one's mind, it
seems to me most difficult to discover how far one has succeeded in
presenting it objectively, so that it can be realized in its full
strength by one's readers. "Apperception" comes into play here so
strongly that hardly anyone escapes it. In the present case, I'm
afraid you have not given the reader the full blast, as it were, of
Miss B.'s vision of God as you yourself see and feel it. You will
have to strengthen it somehow; but not, I think, by expansion.

p. 134. I think you ought somehow to make clear that the underlined
sentence is Miss B.'s own composition; it reads rather as if she and
you thought she was quoting the Athanasian Creed! I like very much
the section with alternative passages from Flammarion and the
Psalms. Where the strengthening seems to me to be needed is in the
earlier sections of Part II.

If Miss Bendix is intended to be an ordinary devout Anglican, rather
"High" but not "Extreme," then the way she spends Holy Week needs a
little revision.

p. 65, She wouldn't probably take a tea tray with egg upstairs for
breakfast, as she would be certain to attend the early communion
service on Maundy Thursday; and a "fasting breakfast" taken after
she had been to church would consist only of bread and butter and

Good Friday--the fast ends at 3 p.m. and tea with a boiled egg on
returning from the 3 hours' service is the normal thing. Why does
she get ready so early for a service that doesn't begin till noon?
Also most people, I think, have a cup of tea in the morning, and
bread (dry) unless their practice is of exceptional severity.

p. 70. There are proper Psalms for each day in Holy Week: she would
read, not 119, but 56 and 64 on Thursday morning, 23 and 109 in the
evening, and 22 on Good Friday morning (Lady Day, if it occurs in
Holy Week, is "transferred" till after Easter).

p. 157. The quotation looks like St. Augustine: but it was not
Augustine who said (according to the best opinion) Credo quia
absurdum. I think it was Tertullian, but am away from home at
present and can't look it up.

On the last page of all, the mixed scraps from the Nicene and
Athanasian Creeds which come to her mind rather look as if they were
quotations from a single source.

But these of course are mere details, which are easily enough
adjusted if you agree. The communication of Miss B.'s total
experience to the reader, in its fullness, is a very different
matter! On the whole, my inclination would be towards slightly
tightening-up and condensing the sunset part, and developing and
elucidating the last page a bit. I've told you my impressions with
brutal frankness as I am sure that is what you want and it is much
too serious and beautiful a work to be insincere about.

Lyme Regis.
 1 February, 1938

To G.F.
 I go into chapel for Evensong every day. It makes a nice fixed
point, and now I'm getting into the rhythm of it and feeling the
curious effect of a daily Office, which I had not experienced for a
long time now, not having stayed at convents. You do not feel it if
you only go now and then. But done every day it becomes a complete
act in itself, within which you feel the action of the Church.
Rather nice, though slightly spoilt by the curate's passion for
adding some second-rate collects at the end; especially a very
horrid one about putting the whole weight of our burdens on the
bosom of God for the night. I wonder what Otto would have thought of

Ash Wednesday, March, 1938.

 I feel Lent awfully difficult, being unable to lay my hands on
anything specific to do or renounce that is not (a) obvious to the
world or (b) hostile to health! I'm sure spiritual "mortifications"
are the real ones, though without going so far as to say the others
do not count. After all, Our Lord's Lent consisted of forty days of
exclusive attention to God under austere conditions and resisting
the "devil's" offers of things that compete with God--and that must
be the ideal; quite impossible, of course, in its completeness for
us. I'd never have dared to be as sweeping as Z. is about "not
lessening your time of communion with God for any human being."
After all, everything done in charity is communion with God; and
therefore it is all right if charity really calls us to leave or
reduce prayer for the sake of someone else. Don't you think so?
. . . It's all fearfully difficult and I see more and more the
reason for the Religious Life and Enclosure. I don't see how anyone
really is going to teach and remain at the deeper levels whilst
living in the world. Even this month here, not very well used, is
enough to show the immense difference solitude makes. But that, of
course, may only be at a certain stage. And the Baron would say if
and when it was really required, we could trust God to provide it,
and if He didn't, we must carry on tranquilly without.

April 6, 1938.

To V.T.
 As to School Prayers; of course they are immensely important and
quite plainly part of your job and you must put as much into them as
you can and really pray in them. But the fact remains, doesn't it,
that this is a bit of work? You are doing your best to help along
and join in the corporate worship of the school--but it is not the
normal channel taken by your personal communion with God and I still
don't feel we can reckon it in, when considering how much time you
are able to give to that. I should think you want more, not less, of
this personal communion in order to "put your back" into school
prayers and help to make them what they ought to be. You are more
likely to make them your own, if they are well supported by secret

May 10 [1938].

 . . . I was so much interested in your letter about K. [a young
girl]. I agree with you she has the genuine spiritual nature and
will need to be very carefully guided. It isn't surprising, indeed
at her age quite wholesome, that during this last year she should
have concentrated most on active life and seemed to lose her prayer
to some extent, and that the intense feeling about Our Lord also is
less vivid. I think if I were you I would start at once to make her
realize and make central the truth that these vivid impressions will
vary much and may even depart altogether without there being
anything (necessarily) wrong with her spiritual life. In fact if she
wants it to be deep and mature, she must never make this the
important thing. I think she has great self-knowledge for her age;
and I would tell her at once, He comes to the soul when He wills and
that soul needs it, but never continuously in this life. We are
always in His presence but He not always in ours, isn't it so? Tell
her it is all right to love people all she can, so long as she loves
with and in God and does not clutch at them. But in times of prayer
she must subordinate thoughts of others to thoughts of God Himself
--otherwise they do become hindrances.

I would love to have her in a Retreat if it were ever possible. I
don't think she would find it too difficult; anyhow there would be
lots she could understand. Tell her to make a little meditation each
day on something in the Gospels, picturing the scene and herself
there, looking at and listening to Our Lord.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 St. Barnabas (11 June), 1938.

 I meant to write you a line yesterday with my good wishes for this
morning, when I thought of you so much: and above all to thank you
for your letter from Fulham. How splendid that everything cleared up
for you like that and you were able to make your Confession too. I
felt in my bones you ought to do it, but hesitated to press too much
and disturb you to no purpose and am so glad now I just left it in
God's hands. It has been a crucial week for you, hasn't it? When you
had to make the choice which will now colour all your life--whether
you will be (a) a real priest, offered to God, standing before His
Altar as a sacrifice to Him, to be used for His people's needs--with
all the effort and difficulty this must involve, or (b) a thoroughly
nice young Clergyman. How splendid that He pressed you to choose
(a). Having done so, you can feel quite sure that although there
will be very hard and dreary bits to get through, in all real
necessities He will provide the support and light you need. . . . .
I thought it was so very specially kind of you to come round on
Sunday afternoon and did wish I could have seen you. Will you please
remember you are always welcome here, and have only to say when you
want to talk, or just sit for a bit and get your breath! It is
sometimes useful to have an auxiliary home.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 27 June, 1938.

To D.E.
 I couldn't answer your letter before, being at the Anglo-Russian
Conference where one was kept very much on the run. It was thrilling
and the Orthodox services quite unimaginably lovely.

Yes--I hope and feel sure H.'s great day* will be beautiful for all
of us. I feel it is a great privilege to be so near her when she
makes her great act of self-oblation; and there should be no room
for small prejudices or regrets over what her personal friends may
feel for the time being they have lost. She has grown up so
wonderfully, hasn't she, since she turned entirely to God? One can
only just admire and be thankful.

* A profession at Wantage.

I am glad you have had some happy hours, and God has shown you
something of His beauty and harmony. These are sometimes I think His
way of encouraging and reassuring us and helping us along. No, I do
not think it was imagination--though your senses and imagination
were used as a vehicle for His message. I think it is important to
realize that--it protects us from mere hallucinations. You receive
the impress of the Heavenly Beauty, which is a true part of God's
Nature, by means of the faculties you have--and your music is a
translation into human terms of something which is truly there. It's
an experience that does happen to people--Richard Rolle called it
"angels' song or heavenly melody dwelling in the mind," and said
quite a lot about it. Thank God for it--and don't dwell on it too

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 6 July, 1938.

 . . . We went to Wantage that afternoon and Sister H.'s profession
was Tuesday morning. A long service--8 to 10:30--but most beautiful
and impressive, especially the moment when the black veil is given
and as she kneels before the altar the Novice Mistress takes off the
white veil and the Rev. Mother puts the black one in its place.
Those who are to be professed are brought in in procession, with
lighted candles in their hands by their fellow-novices and just
before the ceremony begins (after the Creed at High Mass) are each
given a sheaf of lilies to hold. They receive the veil, the cross,
the girdle with three knots and the ring from the Bishop, and
finally each is crowned with a wreath of little white flowers. X.
told me that she went in in tears, but when she came out she was
simply radiant with joy--it was lovely to see her. (They are, I
think, very satisfied with her and told me she has a very deep
prayer-life.) Her cross was a special one and had belonged to a very
old and saintly Sister who died last year, and had been specially
saved for her. She made her vows in such a firm clear voice--one
could hear every word! Afterwards we all went up on to the downs
with her and had a delightful picnic, with larks singing, and a
Birthday Cake with one blue candle!

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 26 October, 1938.

 May I thank you for the very great pleasure which your remarkable
book, Out of the Silent Planet, has given me? It is so very seldom
that one comes across a writer of sufficient imaginative power to
give one a new slant on reality: and this is just what you seem to
me to have achieved. And what is more, you have not done it in a
solemn and oppressive way but with a delightful combination of
beauty, humour and deep seriousness. I enjoyed every bit of it, in
spite of starting with a decided prejudice against "voyages to

I wish you had felt able to report the conversation in which Ransom
explained the Christian Mysteries to the eldil, but I suppose that
would be too much to ask. We should be content with the fact that
you have turned "empty space" into heaven!

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 3 November, 1938.

 Thank you so much for your letter. But I don't think even you can
rehabilitate "Condescension," especially where Admiration (in its
full significance) was meant. It sounds as though you suspected me
of being a terrestrial sorn, instead of just an elderly mouse.

I should not worry about the scientific view of the Cosmic Rays.
Perhaps the rays Ransom felt came more directly from the heart of
God and so had a vivifying effect on those fit to receive them.
Anyhow, as you say, Heaven would no doubt be death to most of us
--hence the necessity of Purgatory. Did you ever read St. Catherine
of Genoa about that? If ever you are in London and feel able to come
and see me, it would be a great pleasure to make your acquaintance.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 Advent IV [1938].

*To D.E.
 . . . The Cats' Creche ... is too enchanting, and will be lit up at
tea time on Christmas Eve, and be the success of the day! Thank you
so much. My Irish Margaret gazed at it, and then said, "See the
little cats making their offering to Our Lord, and sure it's Himself
is fond of animals!" After a pause--"I should think the lady who
made this is a good-living person."

Letter of thanks from the Campden Hill Square Cats, enclosed in

 We both thank you most purrily for our beautiful Crib expressing as
it does in drama our Deepest Feelings, otherwise so often
unperceived. We note that, like the story of Daniel in the Lions'
Den, the lesson for us is one of Self-control. It is as you say the
abnegation of will involved in walking up with a live mouse that
really counts (in fact, the offering of a dead mouse often involving
a certain temptation to Pride). Gazing upon this scene, and making
it the material of our meditation, we hope in time to learn the real
nature of the sacrifice of a troubled spirit, and perhaps the other
bit will happen later. It may interest you to know, dear Miss, that
as a matter of fact, owing to weight and well-fedness, Victims are
not often come by. The local mice and birds continue their careers
unhindered. Fish, we agree, is different. But then, they have that

Now, dear Miss, with rubs and purrs, and hoping your Christmas mat
will be provided with all your pet foods, We are,

Your affectionate cats,

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
April 12, 1939.

To S.P.
 I shall be only too delighted if I can be of any help about your
prayers. But I am rather frightened of giving detailed advice to
anyone I do not know personally: as every one differs in
temperament, capacity, etc., their prayer must differ too. So please
take anything I say with a grain of salt.

I think an hour in the morning is enough at present and should not
be added to; so the question is, how to use it best. Without being
too rigid or watching the clock, try dividing it roughly into 3
periods of about 20 minutes each:

(a) Will be given to a short N.T. reading and a meditation based on
it, leading to:

(b) Prayer, including adoration, intercession and a review in God's
presence of the duties, etc., of the coming day, especially the
contacts which may be difficult, or uncongenial jobs.

(c) Spiritual reading.

The point about this plan is that the meditation leads on naturally
to prayer; and as soon as you perceive it has done this, you can
drop it (because it has then done its work) and continue with that
intercourse with God which it will have set going.

And, on the other hand, if it is a "bad day," the meditation gives
you something definite to do and a subject to attend to and think
about which will help to control wandering thoughts.

As to subject, there are lots of books which provide set subjects,
points, etc. But I think myself the best and simplest way is just to
take some point from one's daily N.T. reading, either the appointed
Church lesson or whatever it may be, and, asking God for His light,
to brood on it in His presence till it leads you into acts of
penitence, love, worship, as the case may be.

No fixed rules can safely be laid down, because some people are more
imaginative and others more logical in their ways of meditating and
each should follow their attrait and not try to force themselves
into a particular method. Prayer should never be regarded as a
science or reduced to a system--that ruins it, because it is
essentially a living and personal relationship, which tends to
become more personal and also more simple, as one goes on.

Have you read How to Pray by J. N. Grou? I think that is one of the
best short expositions of the essence of prayer which has ever been
written; and of course there is much in his Hidden Life of the Soul
too, which would be very useful to you.

On a much lower level, but still extremely good within its own
limitations, is a small book called How to Meditate, published by
S.P.C.K. in Little Books on Religion (1d.!); its directions are
extremely clear, without being too rigid.

Beware of the elaborate arrangements of Preludes, Points, and so on
which are set out in some devotional books; they only lead to
unreality. And do not try to go on too long--ten minutes for the
actual meditation will probably be enough at first.

If there is anything else you want to know, please do not hesitate
to write again, or else come in one day for a talk when you return
to London.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
 27 April, 1939.

To C.D.*
 Thinking over our talk yesterday afternoon, I felt that perhaps it
might be a help if I jotted down one or two points for you to
consider at your leisure, without the worry of trying to remember
just what was said! But if on the other hand you don't feel the need
of this--then please ignore this letter.

* A convert to Christianity who, at the beginning of the
correspondence, had not been baptized: and eventually joined the
Roman Church.

(1) I am sure you ought to go very slowly and quietly--not only for
the sake of your mind and body but still more for that of your soul.
God in revealing Himself to you, put you at the beginning of a long
road, and you must go at His pace, not your own (or mine!). "Tarry
thou the Lord's leisure: be strong and He shall comfort thy heart:
and put thou thy trust in the Lord." That is a grand verse for you.

(2) Make up your mind from the first to ignore the ups and downs of
the "spiritual climate." There will be for you as for everyone sunny
and cloudy days, long periods of dullness and fog, and sometimes
complete darkness to bear. Accept this with courage as part of the
Christian life. Your conversion means giving yourself to God, not
having nice religious feelings. Many of the Saints never had "nice
religious feelings"; but they did have a sturdy self-oblivious
devotion to God alone. Remember old Samuel Rutherford: "There be
some that say, Down crosses and up umbrellas . . . but I am
persuaded that we must take heaven with the wind and rain in our

(3) Beware of fastidiousness! You are highly sensitive to beauty,
and whatever branch of the Church you join there will be plenty of
things that offend your taste, although they are religious meat and
drink to less educated souls, who are also the children of God!
Those dreadful Protestant hymns for instance! (The Roman ones if
anything are worse--but I don't suppose you have ever heard such
popular favourites as "Daily, daily sing to Mary" or "Sweet
Sacrament I thee adore"!). You interpreted the heavenly music as
rather like the best plain-chant. But if God had given the same
experience to the charwoman, and He is no respecter of persons, she
would probably have been reminded of "Onward, Christian Soldiers" or
"Abide with me." The Church must provide for all her children at
every level of culture and this is a discipline which it is often
hard for the educated to accept! It provides splendid training in
charity and humility.

(4) I think you ought to have a very simple and unexacting rule for
your devotional life; so as to get some order into it, but without
worry and strain. Waking early as you do, I think you could at least
spend 10-15 minutes with God either waiting silently on Him, praying
or adoring, reviewing in His presence the duties, etc., of the
coming day, or reading and brooding upon a psalm or a passage in
Thomas a Kempis. Also in the last quarter- or half-hour of your
afternoon rest, you could do this or read a devotional book. I think
you would gain by getting familiar with the psalms, making a list of
those that help your prayer and using one at least each day. Psalms
25, 27, 42, 63, 51, 103, 116, 130, 139, 145, 148 for instance; 134
is a nice bed-time psalm!

Read a little of the New Testament every day.

(5) On the England or Rome question, The Anglican Armoury by H.
Beevor gives that side, and The Spirit of Catholicism by Karl Adam,
the best view of the Roman position--but the author is considered
very liberal! And more appreciated by Anglicans than R.C.s. In a
book of mine called Worship I have a chapter on the Anglican
position in which I have tried to state what seems to me the truth
of the matter: and also some chapters on the Eucharist.

50 Campden Hill Square, W.8.
3 May, 1939.

 I quite understand your feeling that a quite definite rule, even
though a light one (as it must be) would be a help to you at
present. Without it, especially in the earlier stages, one does
waste a lot of time and energy wondering what one shall do and what
book one should read!

I suggest something like this:

(1) Morning. A psalm, taken slowly and "broodingly" as material for
prayer, preceded by the proper liturgical introduction:

O Lord! open Thou my lips, etc.
 O God make speed to save us
 O Lord make haste to help us
 Glory be to the Father--etc.

Make a list of psalms you feel you can use in this way, and allot
them to the days of the week, and stick to them! After this you will
probably be led into prayer or worship of God, and go on to review
the coming day in His sight, especially any difficulties, etc., and
offer it to Him. Then a New Testament reading. For the present, I
would take a Gospel, and read through it steadily. This will
probably be enough for the morning.

(2) During the latter part of your afternoon rest half an hour's
reading: decide on a book, and go on till it is finished! Dr.
Temple's St. John is suitable, or Grou. This is to be devotional
reading of a kind that nourishes your spiritual life; not reading
for information "about religion" but leading you more deeply into
the world of prayer. You can read about theology, etc., at other

(3) At night, a glance back at the day, with an act of penitence for
any fault you notice without exploring, a short prayer and a few
paragraphs of Thomas a Kempis.

Even this may be too much at present; if it strains or tires you,
reduce it at once. The only other thing I would suggest is, try to
form the habit of remembering God, with a few words of love or
worship, at odd moments during the day. You will find that this is
very steadying and refreshing.

I should think it would be a good thing to have an interview with an
R.C. priest if opportunity arises, before seeing Father X., but he
(the R.C.) won't share your view that the question of which Church
you join is unimportant! Because for him Rome is the only Church. I
quite agree with you that "belonging to God and Christ" is what
really matters--but it is, really, as members of God's family, the
Church, that we must fully belong to Him. But von Hugel will have
taught you that!

If you do decide on the Church of England make up your mind to
accept it as a whole, for what it is, a "Bridge Church" which can
include both those whose emphasis is Catholic and those whose
emphasis is Evangelical, so long as they accept the only true basis
of Catholicity--the Scriptures, the Creeds and the two Sacraments.
Don't be sectional and anti-Protestant! Just quietly leave what
doesn't suit you and feed your soul on the things that nourish it.

July 11, 1939.

To T.S.*
 I read your letter with great interest and sympathy. It seems to me
that the fact that your work has had this very sharp and distressing
set-back is no argument at all against its being God's will. Most of
the spiritual rebirths within the Church have begun in a very small
way, and gone on for a long time in a small way, and have had very
great difficulties and unpopularity to contend with; but looking
back on them now, we do see in them the action of the Spirit, do we
not? which must have been very hard for those who worked in them to
realize at the time.

* A woman engaged in Retreat work.

Consider the Tractarian Revival. The Church of England before it
happened was at the lowest possible ebb sacramentally and
liturgically, and it must have seemed incredible that a handful of
ardent souls could make any real difference. And then, when it had
begun to get going, there was the crushing blow of the secession of
Newman and his friends to Rome. That seemed like complete failure,
and indeed many people did despair, yet in spite of it the movement
struggled on and recovered itself and now there is hardly an English
parish untouched by its influence; and the present real revival of
the religious life is entirely due to it.

So don't despair, or give up the struggle to hold real retreats and
training in the spiritual life, even for a handful of people: our
Lord began with a "little flock" and it is still the true method of
renewal. From your point of view it may all be very patchy and
unsatisfactory and you may never see "solid results" and yet it is
the Spirit's work. As for the hostility and disapproval, that will
go on too and must be borne.

As regards your further question whether the spiritual life can be
lived apart from the Sacraments, God will care for His own, and will
make up in other ways to the really desirous what they can't at
present receive through the sacramental channels of the Church.
Remember too that the frequency of communion in the Roman and
Anglican Churches is quite a recent development. In the Middle Ages
such a thing was unknown--as of course it is in the greater part of
the Orthodox Church now. Three times a year was the usual thing for
laity, though Mass was always the principal Sunday service.
Therefore it can't be essential to the supernatural life. In
teaching prayer and adoration you are bringing souls into touch with
the supernatural, and teaching something all can and should do, in
their own homes or perhaps meet for in small groups: whatever the
custom of the official Church. As you say, individuals must make
their own life of prayer and so leaven the rest. This too has always
been a Christian method and happened throughout the history of the
Church in a greater or less degree. We can't tell how much retreats
mean to those who come--on the evidence, a great deal to some, less
to others; but we must be content to work in faith. So taking it all
round, if you possibly can, remain . . . and stick it out! That is
of course, unless you become aware of a steady and continuous
pressure from God to move elsewhere. This work has come into
existence for His purposes and the fact that you are now faced with
a very discouraging situation, doesn't matter a bit. . . .

Part Four.

Unlike nevertheless, much unlike, is the savour of the creator and
of the creature, of everlastingness and of Time, of light uncreate
and light illuminate.--Imitation, III, 39.

Highden, Washington, Sussex.
 18 Sept., 1939.

To L.M.
 I knew you would be feeling the horror of the whole thing
intensely; it is all so awful, one dare not dwell on it. One of the
things I mind most is the thousands of humble little families . . .
being ruined straight off by the exodus of people from the towns,
shops, schools and so on. . . .

21 Sept., 1939.

 You sound very busy and useful... far more than we are here! So far
I have not found anything to do. The village being 11 miles away and
petrol so short, seems to make it difficult. Hubert works hard all
day in the kitchen garden, which is understaffed and of course very
valuable now as a source of food.

I went to London last Friday for a night to get warm clothes, books
and so on; had rather a disastrous trip as on the way up, just after
leaving Richmond Park, an oncoming car on the opposite side of the
road, suddenly swerved right across and crashed violently into us.
My car was half wrecked, all one side stove in, petrol-tank and back
axle smashed. By a miracle E. (our refugee), who was driving, was
unhurt. I got a black eye, bruises, a bad shaking and a wrench to my
back--not serious but very tiresome. . . . The bother is we shan't
have the car for some weeks . . . which cripples us dreadfully here,
6 miles from shops and train.

We have all decided to make this our headquarters for the winter. I
don't feel quite sure it's wise. . . . Of course it is healthy and
quiet and there is nothing to take us to London as the war has
brought all Hubert's work to an end .. . meanwhile we shall have to
economize as severely as we can. . . .

 Oct. 3, 1939.

To M.C.
 I hope your Newcastle boys are being good and responding to (your
country) atmosphere and you are not getting overdone. We go on here
--I feel a bit troubled about it as we are just safe and comfy in
heavenly country, but not being any use! there seems no job for us
--the village hums with helpers and we are nearly two miles from it.
. . .

I am just finishing off my little book on the Lord's Prayer. It is
queer finishing a book now, that was written mostly in the summer.
One's whole outlook seems so changed in proportion, and the terrible
sense of universal suffering and ruin seems to get into everything.

I feel by turns (a) that one should fight against this oppression
and (b) that it is to be accepted as one's share in the pain and
horror of war--ere's almost a feeling of guilt attached to enjoying
things. I wonder so much what you feel about it?

We've got a kitten! black and white fluffy, of farm origin but full
of friendliness.

Highden, Washington, Sussex.
 15 October, 1939.

To A.B.
 I think from what you say, you are doing very well with your
prayer. Everyone finds it difficult now, with all the distractions
and anxieties that crowd on us. Nevertheless these are the
circumstances in which we are now called to serve God; and the very
best thing we can do to help the world's suffering is to lift it up
to Him. Our own suffering and anxiety too can be dedicated and
united to the Cross. "Christ did not come to save us from trouble
but to show us how to bear trouble."

Do you know this bit from Gerlac Petersen's Fiery Soliloquy with

"Let every circumstance and event find thee standing firm like a
square stone. ... So much the more precious and glorious is virtue
before Our Lord as agitated by contrary and diverse storms,
occupations, tumults and conflicts, it shall be found more constant;
nor has it ever truly taken root in us, in time of rest and
tranquillity, if it shall fail in time of tribulation. . . . For to
him who bravely conquereth and not to him who avoideth the fight or
dissembleth will be given the hidden manna and a new name."

Highden House, Washington, Sussex.
 25 Oct., 1939.

 I'm not a bit surprised you do get fits of furious revolt against
this whole horrible and senseless business. Things like the Royal
Oak, if one dares to stop and think what it means, are enough to
upset anyone! But I am sure the only safe and sane way just now, is
to keep the imagination sternly in check, turn to God in blind
faith, hold on to Him in the dark as well as you can--or better, let
Him hold you. You won't, however, be able to get away from feeling
the suffering and the darkness. So best accept them, join them to
the Cross and offer them to God. It is a very hard time for
realists, who can't be content to "pay themselves with words." The
world is subject to the law of consequence and must pay for its
deliberate departures from God. Yet in and through all that, His
Hand is over individuals, bringing them out at last by strange paths
into His Light.

I have tumbled into quite a lot of work here: a weekly intercession
service in the Parish Church beginning next Wednesday at 3. Also a
weekly religious lesson in the School, 11/14-year-olds, 33 of them,
taking the place of the Vicar, who is too ill at present. This
terrifies me as I have never taught children. I begin Monday week
and if you can give me any tips as to how you would tackle the job I
would be most grateful. The Vicar wants me to teach them about
Prayer--do you think they will ever listen or take any interest? The
schoolmaster wants "The History of our Prayer Book"--more concrete
but not easy to make very thrilling. If it isn't an abject failure
I'm to have a class of evacuee girls, 12/14, later, but as they come
from a Council school all doctrine is strictly forbidden.

Highden House, Washington, Sussex.
 11 November, 1939.

 * Literary Editor of Time and Tide. The following five letters
refer to a review written by a Cat member of the Highden household,
E.U. acting as amanuensis when necessary.

 Here is the review of Cat Books. I have tried my best but it is my
first effort and I am very young; do please be lenient to its

Hoping this finds you well and frisky as it leaves me at present, I

Your obedient Kitten,
p.p. E.S.M.

Highden House, Washington.
 17 November, 1939.

 Thank you so much for my Proof, and your kind letter. All these
attentions are very gratifying, and deepen the purr. Please also
thank Miss Moore for her amiable words.

As to my signature, I am not usually known as Underhill--I am the
common property, if one may use such an expression of a Cat, of
three families. I have heard them mention drawing lots for me when
they leave the district. The one I call Mummy suggests perhaps "p.p.
E.U." would clarify the situation sufficiently, or even E. Underhill
if you think this really necessary. We leave it all to you.

With grateful purrs,

Your affectionate Kitten,

Highden, Washington.
 22 November, 1939.

 The request for Michelangelo's photograph is just to hand. He is
much excited, but regrets that so far no portrait exists. However
earnest attempts will be made to secure a portrait to-morrow and we
hope a print may reach you on Monday. His moods and motions being
unpredictable it is impossible to say whether anything fit for
publication will result. Your telegram put the whole tea table in a
flutter and nothing else was spoken of for some time.

In haste to catch our very infrequent post,

Yours ever,

If no portrait available I will let you know.

Highden, Washington.
 23 November, 1939.

 Alas! a wet dark day has put an end to any hope of getting my
portrait into the paper. I am terribly disappointed. Had I realized
these possibilities earlier, I would have got into touch with a
Press photographer. Perhaps some other time! Your regretful Kitten,


Lawn House, 12 Hampstead Square, N.W.3.
 Christmas Day, 1940.

 Your magnificent card--intended of course for me--has given great
pleasure to all. And as you say, what a lesson it conveys what a

Ah, better far to dwell alone
 One Ball, one Basket, and one Dish,
 Than midst a maze of twitching tails
 To share the rationed Fish.

My own work entirely. I am leading a very careful life now.

With love and purrs,
 Your affectionate,

Highden House, Washington, Sussex.
 21 November, 1939.

To E.N.
 From what you say in your letter, I don't think you are really the
sort of person who should go to Confession at all frequently. I
should think two or three times a year quite enough. Confession
should be kept for real sins and persistent faults, whether of
omission or commission; and not be used for exploring the soul,
trying to disentangle one's own inward states, etc.--a proceeding
which only encourages self-occupation and does not really get one
anywhere. The best way to take the "darkness and left aloneness" is
not discussion, but a generous and humble act of acceptance of the
state in which God has placed one's soul, however useless and
frustrated one may feel, and an act of trust that in this darkness
and incapacity He is training us to a more perfect self-abandonment.
The fact that you feel "empty and useless" is not "material for
confession"--it is really rather a good state to be in because so
destructive of self-esteem. Probably physical health has something
to do with it too in your case! And as you say it is the conditions
"deep down" that really matter.

Highden House, Washington, Sussex.
 28 December, 1939.

 It was a great pleasure to have news of you again. One of the
distresses of our present condition is the way one's friends are
scattered and the difficulty of keeping in touch. We, as you see,
have left London for the present, and are sharing this house on the
downs with some great friends.

Don't you find these times very difficult for pacifists? The war
seems to enter into everything, and there are few things that one
can conscientiously do. Most of my quasi-pacifist friends are
becoming more warlike, apparently feeling that provocation is more
important than principles and that the only way to combat sin in
others is to commit sin ourselves. The attitude of the Anglican
bishops has also been disappointing, though a great many of the
clergy are strongly pacifist.

31 December, 1939.

 I am sure a book which clings all the time to "the theocentric
basis of interpretation" and approaches Christianity from the
Godward side, is more than ever needed now, when we are so plainly
approaching a crisis which only the deepest understanding and most
heroic and other-worldly acceptance of the Cross can resolve. At
present the whole attitude of the Church strikes me as getting
steadily more sub-Christian, more and more forgetful of absolute
standards and inclined to regard the B.E.F. as the instrument of the
Divine Will. And as the earthly situation deteriorates--as it must--
all this will get worse, unless some vigorous movement is made in
the opposite direction. However it has generally been in times when
the temporal outlook was darkest, that the great swings back of the
human spirit towards the Eternal have taken place. The gist of all
this is that I think you should make these new insights central for
your work the more supernatural, absolute, and non-utilitarian you
make it, the better it will be! I particularly like what you say
about physical suffering: that it is God's Will, and yet also never
His Will. That paradox has to be held on to all the time so that we
can accept even evil and imperfection as penetrated in spite of
themselves, by God's over-ruling Will and Grace and turned thus to
His final purpose, though still remaining in them selves, and until
redeemed, contrary to His intrinsic Will for life. . . . .

Highden House, Washington, Sussex.
 12 January, 1940.

 I delayed thanking you for the kind gift of The Catholic Centre
till I had time to read it carefully, which I have now done with
much enjoyment. What a fine, broad and deep book it is! And how I
hope it will go home to those to whom it is really addressed. The
chapters I specially liked were those on Ecclesiastical Materialism
and on Immanence and Transcendence and the final pages on Adoration.
I think your exposition of that glorious Whitsun Introit is
splendid--it is difficult to say anything fresh about Transcendence
but you have made a wonderful thing of that chapter. I was
particularly interested in "The Problem of Suffering" as I have just
been reading the Abbe Nedoncelle's Souffrance, and was so glad you
emphasized (as I felt he did not) the irreplaceable supernatural
value of suffering. This of course does not solve the problem, since
only a minute proportion so far as we know of the world's anguish
serves spiritual ends but it does emphasize a deep reality which
humanism tends to forget But on the general problem I can't feel
Father Rickaby's arguments are satisfying! To predicate
impossibilities of God seems in itself such impudence!

I am sorry we do not agree about Peace. Although I quite agree about
the stern element in Our Lord's teaching, the denunciations of
Pharisees, etc., etc., still the numerous texts enjoining love of
enemies, non-resistance, etc., do seem to qualify this strain in a
sense that precludes war. And in fact the early Christians held that
they were debarred from war, didn't they? Of course Christendom has
never had the nerve to apply this teaching without qualification,
right up to the point of national martyrdom. When it does, perhaps
the Kingdom of God will come.

 Highden House, Washington, Sussex.
 Jan. 18, 1940.

 The coming of the Church Unity Octave reminds me that I have never
answered the letter which you wrote to me in November, and which I
enjoyed so much. And now your article in the current C.R. brings you
back so vividly to my mind.

That real growth of unity among Christians of which you speak is one
of the few consoling elements in the present situation, isn't it?
and must surely mean the first beginning of a drawing-together and
casting down of barriers. The warm interest in the Papal Encyclical
among Anglicans and even Nonconformists, seems to me very
remarkable--and there seems to be a real increase of elasticity
among the Romans themselves. Such a book as E. I. Watkin's Catholic
Centre, which I've just been reading, in spite of some special
pleading, shows it in a marked degree. And so does a new book which
has very much impressed me: Dom Aelred Graham's Love of God. I
wonder whether you have seen it?

I liked your article immensely, particularly the passage on p. 9,
about the offering of all sufferings for the re-integration of the
Body of Christ. It is this sense of the sacrificial worth of
suffering that one rather misses in de Tourville (and also in Abbe
Nedoncelle's La Souffrance, which I expect you have seen). Perhaps
this is what you mean when you say that he (de Tourville) does not
leave the door open to a life of reparation, and also what Fr.
Northcot felt the need of. But of course the whole of that little
book* is taken from letters addressed to two penitents, both of them
plainly of the self-tormenting scrupulous type, and there is nothing
to show that he would not have made far harder demands on souls of a
different kind. He seems to make a great appeal at the present time,
judging by the way the English translation has been received. But I
agree with you, that in spite of his great merits--realism,
confidence, simplicity, etc.--there are large tracts of spiritual
experience on which he throws no light, and depths which one
instinctively feels to exist especially in respect of suffering,
which he entirely ignores. All the same, he is a splendid tonic for
certain states of soul.

* Pensees Diverses, by the Abbe de Tourville.

I do wonder what you thought of La Souffrance. There too I couldn't
help feeling that the supernatural had been sacrificed to the
sensible--I mean the common-sensible; and also that there was
disproportion in the long section given to "suffering through
friendship." And again that putting of the sufferings of the Saints
in a special class and allowing redemptive value to them alone, is
surely wrong? The sufferings, whether "deserved" or "undeserved" of
all Christians surely have or can have redemptive value in their own
small way? the doctrine of the Mystical Body must mean this.

It seems to me part of the transforming power of grace, that even
suffering caused by our own silliness or sin can be turned to the
purposes of God. But he (Nedoncelle) doesn't seem to think that.

Yes, I am still entirely pacifist and more and more convinced that
the idea that this or any other war is "righteous" or will achieve
any creative result of a durable kind, is an illusion. But I notice
that a good many of my pacifist friends are showing a tendency to
compromise! and certainly it is difficult (for instance) to say what
one thinks the Finns ought to have done. . . .

I hope you keep well and find a little time for Father William.

Highden House,
 Jan. 18, 1940.

TO S.T. (a member of the Prayer Group).
 I am so glad you are going to try to reduce the tension in your
life. The important thing, psychologically and every other way, is
to get that one clear day in the week, without theology! this will
do far more to get rid of strain and feelings of saturation than
reducing hours of work on the other days.

About "mortal sins"--they are the same as the "deadly sins"; and if
persisted in, inevitably separate us from God. According to Catholic
teaching, these are the only sins we must confess; and if we die
without repenting and being forgiven for them, we are lost. But
committing a mortal sin is not as easy as it sounds--because it must
be done deliberately and our will must consent to it. This does not
happen very often to people who are trying to live a Christian life;
e.g. we get angry, are possessive, greedy, lazy, etc., more through
weakness and yielding to sudden temptation, than by deliberately
doing these things when we could have refused to do them! So we have
to distinguish between the sinfulness which makes us constantly
commit faults, and be conceited, impatient, envious, etc., and the
Sin of persisting in these things when we need not; not trying to
resist. The Seven Deadly Sins, if you look at them, are all forms of
selfishness; so what it boils down to is, that if we deliberately
persist in selfishness, we shall inflict mortal injury on our soul
and finally lose God. Which, after all, is what one might expect, is
it not?

On the other hand, if we love God, and constantly turn to Him, this
is practically a safeguard against mortal sin, for in His presence
we cannot be deliberately self-assertive, angry, envious,
avaricious, etc., even though we may sometimes be tempted to the
faults which are as it were the "baptized forms" of mortal sins
--self-esteem, impatience, clinging to our possessions, grabbing the
things we enjoy, etc.--because these tendencies are rooted in our
nature and can only really be vanquished by God's grace. But falls
of that kind are "venial" not "mortal"--we do not want to do them
and we are sorry when we have!

The second volume of Archbishop Temple's book on St. John is now out
and seems very good. So I suppose [you] will take that up, after
reading the one on Ephesians which you have in hand now.

Lawn House, 12 Hampstead Square, N.W.3.
 May 20, 1940.

To L.K.
 I was so glad to hear from you. This 2|d. business has reduced my
letter-bag to nothing and will I can see tend to isolate people in
the most horrible way just when we most need to keep together.

I didn't write to anyone for Whit, this time as I've been seedy
again and was in bed and discouraged from writing. However, I'm up
again now though still in my room. This fragile plant business is
beginning to pall upon me but no doubt it is a good plan!

I expect your prayer-cum-knitting is also a good plan so long as you
get enough sleep (I do not think 6 hours is enough, with all you
have to do.)

The great difficulty (to me) just now in prayer, is that directly
you quiet your mind all the frightful things that are happening
batter against it and make it impossible to steady yourself on God,
which is the most important thing one can do for the world and for
all those overwhelmed by the violence--and there I think something
done with your fingers probably helps. I feel a great concern, don't
you, for the dying and for those who are suffering the extremity of
fear, as if one should try to hold on to them, and keep them linked
to the Perfection of God? . . .

There is nothing Pacifists can do but take their share of the agony
and pray for the future we shan't live to see. I must say it's not
an easy creed to hold on to, in view of Norway, Belgium and Holland.
In fact it can only be held for supernatural reasons and by a
supernatural faith that love is the ultimate reality and must

How satisfactory it must be for X. and in fact all religious, to
have their jobs so clearly defined now. No "practical" distractions
but nothing to do but put their whole weight on to the spiritual
scale, feeling quite sure that kind of action is not wasted. Have
you heard that Y. is giving up ... and going into a contemplative
Order? .. . It is rather like the 12th century when the horrors of
the outward life caused hermits and anchorites to spring up
everywhere. Perhaps we are about to see a great return to the
contemplative life. It's about the only thing strong enough to
conquer Hitlerism. Meanwhile I suppose that next Sunday we shall see
a dreadful explosion of patriotic Christianity. I do hate these
"days of prayer," don't you? Such a flagrant making use of God.

22 June, 1940.

 The only thing that pulled me up, as it often has in other writers,
is the description of the Crucifixion as "the very worst that can
possibly happen." If by this you mean Absolute Holiness enduring the
full punishment of evil, perhaps it is a permissible phrase. But as
it stands, it always seems to me an exaggerated statement: the cross
was endured by hundreds of malefactors throughout the Roman Empire.
It was a commonplace, not a ne plus ultra of suffering. And Our Lord
endured it for three hours only, whilst 24 was a usual time for the
victim to survive. It seems to me that perhaps it is truer and more
impressive to think of Him as enduring the ordinary lot of the
individual condemned under the law. Of course in a way capital
punishment is the "worst possible" but it hasn't a unique character.
. . .

I think perhaps the war has tended to increase religious unity among
ourselves, don't you? But it has also increased a good many other
less desirable things. Feeling against aliens, even refugees, is
becoming obvious everywhere and hatred of the enemy is increasing
all the time. The News Bulletins with their glorification of bombing
are enough to destroy the moral integrity of any society.

Lawn House.
 June 8, 1940.

To L.K.
 I am still in my room but am up at last; but allowed to do nix and
hardly move as everything makes me breathless. It transpires that
the long illness destroyed the elasticity of my lungs and that takes
ages to come back (so far as it does come back). Meanwhile one just
has to stay put and submit to having everything done for one. I
can't say I like it much but it seems to be the Lord's idea for the
present moment. . . .

Mickie has two entrancing kittens, Spitfire and Hurricane, and the
family basket lives in my room quite a lot and is very engaging and
helps to keep our minds off the war.

Dunkirk was so absorbing that for days one could think of nothing
else. An acquaintance of Hubert's took his motor-boat there and says
it was the finest week-end he ever had in his life. He came back
with the boat riddled with shot.

What is so fine, and suggests that somehow our people have a certain
amount of Christianity in their marrow even if not outwardly
believing, is the way everyone agrees about the wonderful behaviour
and unselfishness of the men--all quite patient, no pushing or
attempt to get off before others, though it was "each man for

 Trinity IV, 1940.

To M.C.
 I have a feeling just now that one should try to make contact with
one's friends not knowing how long normal communications will be
possible to us, or what the next few weeks may bring. This
shattering triumph of the evil will leaves one dazed and unable
truly to realize anything. I suppose the Romans felt a bit like it,
when Attila swept down on them and suddenly broke their security to
bits. . . . Do you notice now how everything in the liturgy seems to
have a new and piercing application? especially of course the Psalms
and many of the collects too.

I am glad to think of you tucked away in the comparative security of
the N.W. and surrounded by all the summer loveliness. Everyone tells
me the country has never been more beautiful and peaceful over
against the destruction and hideousness which is all we seem able to
produce. Yet even war, it seems, isn't spiritually sterile. . . .
Were you not thrilled by all the accounts of the patient endurance
and unselfishness at Dunkirk?--no one pushing and trying to get away
first--and the splendid work of the young Chaplains, going about
those awful beaches helping the men and giving the Sacraments. There
was something supernatural in all that, an eternal quality
triumphing over the horror--and if our whole civilization has to be
smashed under the Nazi heel, that is what will survive. . . .

I can't settle to writing, can you? One is too conscious of living
on the brink of the precipice for it to have any reality. ...

Lawn House.
 June 20, 1940.

To L.K.
 Thank you so much for your letter: I do think one values these
contacts with those one loves just now, when "earth's foundations
tremble" as never before. I feel more and more it is all a great
purging action of God, beyond our control, and using the Nazis as
His instruments. The way in which all initiative, energy, surprise,
is on their side, never on ours, is most extraordinary. . . .

Don't you think this is a lovely bit from De Caussade? It seems to
fit the present moment rather well:

"Let us remember these great truths: (1) There is nothing, however
small or apparently indifferent, which has not been ordained or
permitted by God--even to the fall of a leaf. (2) That God is
sufficiently wise, good, powerful and merciful to turn those events
which are apparently the most calamitous to good and the advantage
of those who know how to adore and accept with humility all that His
Divine and adorable will permits."

Lawn House, 12 Hampstead Square, N.W-3.
 June 27, 1940.

To W.V.
 Yes, aren't the Psalms extraordinarily apposite just now? They seem
to have come alive in an entirely new way. . . .

As for "merit" it is a horrid phrase but I feel it does stand for a
spiritual reality; ultimately, the extent in which the Spirit of
Christ indwells and dominates any particular soul or (the same
thing) its entire submission to God's Will.

8 July, 1940.

 I'm sure it is the sense of that coincidence of Majesty and Mercy
[of God] and of our real position over against it which is wanted
now--and this is part of the lesson which God's present action
through history is to teach. Only apparently when everything is
reeling do we begin to perceive the over-ruling presence of the
Eternal Being. Don't you feel now that out of what at first was
utter confusion bit by bit the Divine purifying purpose is beginning
to emerge? Fear and bewilderment are giving place to a sort of
hushed expectancy, as if people were beginning to realize the
superhuman character of that which is taking place.

Lawn House, Hampstead.
 Aug. 12, 1940.

To S.T.
 It was lovely to see you here and I do hope you will come again
when you can.

As to W.'s views on Intercession, I entirely agree with you....
After all, Intercession is not asking God to do difficult things for
Mr. Jones or Mr. Smith (though as you say sometimes when we are
deeply concerned we can't help doing this). It is offering your will
and love that God may use them as channels whereby His Spirit of
mercy, healing, power, or light, may reach them and achieve His
purposes in them. We can't do it unless we care, both for God's will
and also for "the whole family of man"--but that certainly does not
involve knowing all the details about everyone who asks our prayers.
God knows the details--we need not. Probably the best kind of
intercession is a quite general offering of oneself in union with
our Lord--and that is what the total prayer of the Church for the
world is. He prays in and through us, lifting up into the
supernatural world all souls and causes and setting them before
God's face--and it is our privilege to share that "lifting-up"
process. Of course there is and must be a wide variety in the way
people pray. For some, "crude petition" about Tommy's exam, or Aunt
Jane's bronchitis is the only sort that is real. We each do what we
can, mostly very badly. The point is that we do it with faith and
love and offer it to God, who will take from it that act of will and
love which alone really matters, and use it where and how He
chooses. Perhaps the prayer we make here may find its fulfilment the
other side of the world. Perhaps the help we were given in a
difficult moment came from a praying soul we never knew! It is all a
deep mystery and we should be careful not to lay down hard and fast
rules. The variousness with which Grace works is one of the most
wonderful things about it. It is a living and personal energy, not a
machine, and makes a response of love to all our movements of love
--even the most babyish. But our power of interceding for those
quite unknown to us is very closely connected with our membership of
the Church--it is her total prayer in which we take part. As
individualists we could not do it with any sense of reality. I think
we have to try to keep two sorts of Intercession going--this share
in the Church's prayer and also our personal self-offering for
persons or causes about which we care deeply--the corporate and
individual sides of full religion.

Lawn House, Hampstead.
 Oct. 6, 1940.

 Thank you so much for your beautiful little book.* I waited to read it
at leisure before writing, knowing that in your case this was a safe
thing to do, as indeed it proved.

* Seas of the Moon. Friends Book Centre, 1940.

I am so grateful for much you say in it; for though I am not yet half
through the sixties, illness plus age has come to mean a very thorough
limitation of freedom and general slowing down and dependence on
others; none of which is altogether easy to a person who prefers to do
everything for herself at express speed! But it's a marvellous
discipline and introduces one to a complete fresh series of tests and
opportunities and involves the discovery and acceptance of so much
devoted kindness.

I specially loved your Sea of Honey and Sea of Peace, and that serenity
and joy which so many people are letting slip now, just when the poor
world needs it most. In one's desire to take one's share in the
universal suffering, it is so easy to forget the positive value of joy.
. . .

We are living here with friends and have shut up our own little house
for the present, as it seems better just now to be part of a larger
family. But it is a "warm spot" and we are bombarded from 8 p.m. to
daylight regularly. I am afraid Falmouth too has had a bad time. What
tragic folly and sin!

12 Hampstead Square, N.W-3.
 23 October, 1940.

 I have long been meaning to write and ask how you are getting on. We
miss you and your visits so much though glad to think you are away from
the noise and destruction that surrounds us and seeing something of
this lovely autumn. "And wherever He passed He touched all things to
beauty." It's so difficult to remember that among the swishes and thuds
and shakings!

This household has remained very lucky and so far nothing has touched
us, and we are now quite settled in to a basement and ground-floor
existence. The whole district is practically without water since the
Highgate Power Station was blown up last week. We fill buckets from the
main in the morning and live on it as best we can during the day.
However there is a certain odd satisfaction in being reduced to
primitive conditions and having to practise abstinence about something
one has always taken for granted. Sitting very loose to possessions and
much simplification of life is certainly one of the lessons the Lord is
going to teach us through the war, and we are beginning to get on with
it now. Travelling facilities change almost from hour to hour as
stations are bombed and roads closed, and shops are getting less and
less able to deliver anything; so that a peculiar mixture of prudence
and resignation is required in the conduct of life!

Underneath all this muddle and horror, however, I do have don't you? a
queer underground feeling that something new is being prepared? a more
realistic view of religion, a fresh sense of the overwhelming majesty
of God, a shifting of emphasis to a more organic Christianity--not just
socially but supernaturally organic. All sorts of separate little
struggles seem to be going on in this direction, especially amongst the
younger clergy, and the same trend appears in most of the new
theological books, both Catholic and Anglican. With us it is all mixed
up with the liturgic revival, which has now rather got its bit between
its, teeth and threatens to snuff out individual prayer altogether.
What a pity it is that religious thinkers always seem to find it
necessary to bang about between extremes instead of keeping steady and
trying to remember the inclusiveness of God.

Lawn House, Hampstead.
 Wednesday [undated, 1940].

To D.E.
 . . . He [Father Z.] seems to have been rather useful this time, and
really got hold of your situation. I love the bit about it being grand
to feel bedevilled and identified with all the sin and evil because
that is like Christ--unconditional sacrifice of everything even the
most precious thing, our instinct for holiness and peace.' I think
you are very privileged, and standing up to the cost marvellously
well. But it is costly, and naturally his first concern must be to
protect your nervous and physical health. The compensating craving
for some shelter and love seems just natural and rather humbling but
not in the least sinful. No point in increasing strain by trying to
behave more heroically than we really are, and rejecting the helps
that nature provides. If Lawn House can give a bit of shelter and
cherishing, we shall feel very pleased, warmed through and honoured.

I communicated some of your letter to M. who sends her very best love
and says in her opinion there is no hard and fast difference between
consecrated and unconsecrated--whatever is offered even in a
roundabout way is taken and consecrated by the Lord. I think the
Baron would have agreed with that.

All Saints, 1940.

 . . . It [London] really does feel like living in the Inferno,
perpetually confronted by the folly and wickedness of men. . . .
Christians never (or hardly ever) seem able to take the gift of Power
seriously, but when they do wonderful things happen--e.g. the Cure
d'Ars. And that sense of impotence you describe is I feel sure almost
universal in the Church at present, and is absolutely crippling in
effect. I think your linking up of the gift of Power with Unity is
fine, and gives a basis for intercession which many, baffled by the
usual theories, will be able to accept. (It is astonishing how
prevalent the crudest notions of intercession--"asking God for
things," etc.--still are even among the clergy--and perhaps specially
among the clergy!) . . .

. . . Ruysbroeck's great passages on the "fruitive unity of the
Godhead," I have always thought to be among the most profound and
inspiring writings of the medieval mystics.

. . . It is because our Christianity is so impoverished, so
second-hand and non-organic, that we now feel we are incapable of the
transformation of life which is needed to get humanity out of its
present mess. . . . It all comes back of course (a) to the lack of a
concrete, realistic faith; (b) to a failure to realize what Unity
really involves. Yes, I do understand your distinction between trying
to visualize and grasp all the sufferings and horrors, and accepting
the pain of them. At the beginning of the war I tried to do the first,
with deplorable results. The second is done to one rather than by one,
which makes it all right, and is simply one's share in the life of the
Church at this time.

Nov. 27, 1940.

To L.M.
 There is so much to say about the sacrificial side of Christianity
suitable for Lent and Passiontide, and it all fits in so well with much
that is happening now, that you ought to find plenty of material.

I suppose there never was a time when people were more completely
called to abandonment or encouraged to look beyond the world for the
clue to life.

I enclose with this Maisie Spens' last utterance,* which I think
most remarkable--one might make a good set of addresses on that
theme, don't you think?

* All Power is Given. S.P.C.K., 1d.

Gwynedd turned up on Saturday after a long absence--she had had the
typhoid inoculation and been made rather ill by it. She told us that
early one morning after a recent raid the head of their local Toc H
heard a knock on the remains of the front-door, went down and found a
stocky figure in mac. and tin-hat, who said, "I just looked in to see
whether you were all right here." The head replied that they were; and
the visitor said, "I'm glad to hear that. Carry on; and God bless you."

It was Winston Churchill. It appears he often goes out alone in the
early morning and looks round districts where the blitz has been bad.

Dec. 7, 1940.


I am trying to put together some Retreat notes and will send them soon,
but I doubt their being much use to you. It is so difficult to use
other people's material. I thought: 1st day, The preparatory conditions
of the spiritual life--interior Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.

2nd day, The essence of it, the life of Faith, Hope and Charity.

Lots of scope and deals with fundamentals which I feel a retreat should
always do, don't you?

Lawn House, 12 Hampstead Square, N.W-3.
 St. Stephen, 1940.

 Your lovely gift arrived on Christmas Eve and I began to read it at
once. Thank you so very much for it. I think it is a most valuable book
and casts a lot of fresh light on St. Francis's method of direction. I,
certainly, had not realized how thorough was his dislike of
rule-keeping and every sort of rigidity. It would do some modern
directors and superiors good to ponder it! I think the whole section
on "Characteristics of Salesian religious life" excellent both from
the religious and psychological point of view. It is really much the
same in principle as De Caussade's Abandon brought down to "brass
tacks." The last half I have not read yet. I think what always puts
me off St. Francis slightly is the fact that he is so exclusively
the Apostle of the upper classes, and takes so seriously the
position and duties of the Best Set. One is reminded so often of
Wilberforce--"Yes indeed, my dear Duchess, as your Grace so truly
observes, God is love." But all this no doubt he would claim as an
example of his own doctrine of vocations--and certainly French
society in his time badly needed an evangelist. And of course the
great lines of his doctrine are of universal application and a great
pity it is that they are not more generally applied. Muller brings
them out in a remarkable way, doesn't he? Far better and more
convincingly than Bremond, for instance: and shows so clearly their
theological implications. It is odd to realize that on his showing
St. Francis must almost have disliked St. John of the Cross! at any
rate for general consumption. It is a good book and I'm so very
grateful to you for it.

Christmas Day, 1940.

To U.V.
 It was a great joy to hear of you and know how all your family are
doing. How proud you must be of them--but I fear anxious too . . .

I loved your quotation about "the wild-weather of His outlying
provinces"--most beautiful; I wonder where it comes from?

Lawn House, 12 Hampstead Square, N.W-3.
 1 January, 1941.

 Thank you so much for your Christmas letter--I had heard of you
through Maisie Spens to whom you have given so much pleasure. . . .
The paper on Christian power, which I understand you have seen,
. . . seems to me extremely fine. I am glad it is going into the
Guardian though I could wish it a wider circulation than that luckless
paper ever seems able to achieve. I hope it will do better under your
friend's editorship. There is room for a really intelligent paper
representing the Anglican central position.

I am sorry I did not see your article on the Collet MS. Little Gidding
has always interested me, but I found the Ferrar Papers rather
disconcerting when they were published! The clash of temperaments in
that strange household must have been terrific and very unlike what one
understands as the religious life!

I wonder how Pax is getting on. So many of my fellow pacifists seem to
have fallen from the absolute position and think that Hitler's
wickedness justifies participation in the war; but when we have won it
they will be pacifists again. I cannot feel, however, that committing
sin to cure sin is either Christianity or common sense, and the steady
increase in bombast and self-righteous heroics is very displeasing,
isn't it? Perhaps we have reached a level of collective sinfulness in
which we cannot do right. I quite understand your deep satisfaction
that your son is a monk. I remember his interest in theology as a boy,
and wondered then which way his life would turn. How very interesting
that he should have found those Winchester relics!

I am supposed to be writing a book on Christianity and the Spiritual
Life for the Christian Challenge Series; but feel quite unable to get
on with it--partly because a long stretch of ill health has reduced my
vitality, partly the difficulties of living in someone else's house, as
we are doing now, with only a few of my books, and partly the general
disturbance of the times! I have just read C. S. Lewis's Problem of
Pain in that Series, and think it excellent.

I am so glad you are working. Everyone likes The Catholic Centre.
Father Biggart, C.R., preached on it a few weeks back at St.
Augustine's, Queen's Gate, and told everyone to read it.

The book on Lauds and Compline will be good to have and I hope you will
soon find a publisher.

Lawn House, 12 Hampstead Square, N.W.3.
 13 January, 1941.

 When Out of the Silent Planet appeared, I was so excited by it that I
had to write to you, and received a very kind reply. I hope this event,
though long forgotten, may serve as a re-introduction now, because The
Problem of Pain over which I have been brooding for the last week or
so, has impressed me deeply, and opened up so many paths for
exploration, that I feel I must talk to you about it.

The subject is one that I have thought about a good deal, which is why
I am particularly grateful for your book and for the way in which you
have related the fact of suffering to the eternal background of our
life. Myself, I cannot get much beyond von Hugel's conclusion, that
Christianity does not explain suffering but does show us what to do
with it. To me the most satisfactory theory--and I am glad to see it is
one that you are willing to accept--is that of a cosmic or angelic
Fall, infecting the world with sin and its consequences. We can't, I
think, attribute all the evil and pain of creation to man's rebellious
will. Its far-reaching results, the suffering of innocent nature, the
imperfection and corruption that penetrate all life, seem to forbid
that. The horrors of inherited insanity, mental agonies, the whole
economy of disease, especially animal disease, seem to point beyond man
to some fundamental disharmony between creation and God. I sympathize a
good deal with the listener who replied to every argument on the love
of God by the simple question, "What about cancer in fish?"

It is your chapters on Human Wickedness, and Original Sin and the Fall
that I so specially admire and feel to be immensely important and
illuminating. I hope they will be widely read and digested by the
clergy, especially those who keep on insisting what fine fellows we
really are; and so reduce the amount of sentimental rubbish poured out
from their pulpits, and deepen their conceptions of human personality.
Original sin, which in my bright and clever youth I regarded as pure
nonsense, now seems to me one of the most profound and far-reaching of
truths. And your treatment of it is particularly valuable and
satisfying because you have kept so clear of the mere theological
say-so, and related it to our total experience of life. Our
generation has a [specially good chance of grasping this fact and
all it implies if the [psychologists will let it! I was very much
impressed, too, by your picture of Paradisal man. It is this
capacity for giving imaginative body to the fundamental doctrines of
Christianity that seems to me one  of the most remarkable things
about your work.

Where, however, I do find it impossible to follow you, is in |your
chapter on animals. "The tame animal is in the deepest sense the
only natural animal . . . the beasts are to be understood only in
their relation to man and through man to God." This seems to me
frankly an intolerable doctrine and a frightful exaggeration of what
is involved in the primacy of man. Is the cow which we have turned
into a milk machine or the hen we have turned into an egg machine
really nearer the mind of God than its wild ancestor? This seems
like saying that the black slave is the only natural negro. You
surely can't mean that, or think that the robin redbreast in a cage
doesn't put heaven in a rage but is regarded as an excellent
arrangement. Your own example of the good-man, good-wife, and
good-dog in the good homestead is a bit smug and utilitarian, don't
you think, over against the wild beauty of God's creative action in
the jungle and deep sea? And if we ever get a sideway glimpse of the
animal-in-itself, the animal existing for God's glory and pleasure
and lit by His light (and what a lovely experience that is!), we
don't owe it to the Pekinese, the Persian cat or the canary, but to
some wild free creature living in completeness of adjustment to
Nature a life that is utterly independent of man. And this, thank
Heaven, is the situation of all but the handful of creatures we have
enslaved. Of course I agree that animals too are involved in the
Fall and await redemption and transfiguration. (Do you remember
Luther looking up from Romans viii. 21 and saying to his dog, "Thou
too shall have a little golden tail"?) And man is no doubt offered
the chance of being the mediator of that redemption. But not by
taming, surely? Rather by loving and reverencing the creatures
enough to leave them free. When my cat goes off on her own occasions
I'm sure she goes with God--but I do not feel so sure of her
theological position when she is sitting on the best chair before
the drawing-room fire. Perhaps what it all comes to is this, that I
feel your concept of God would be improved by just a touch of
wildness. But please do not take this impertinent remark too

I have run on far too long and must not weary you with my comments on
your Heaven and Hell chapters, both of which I admire immensely
--especially that on Heaven, which is a fitting conclusion to an
impressive and beautiful book and lifts your thesis once for all to the
level at which alone it has full significance. Thank you so much for

Lawn House, 12 Hampstead Square, N.W.3.
 27 January, 1941.

To L.K.
 . . . Thank you so much for letting me see all these.* I have enjoyed
them, even though the result of the whole thing seems to me rather
inconclusive. I was specially interested in Dr. Temple's answers to
queries though I must say, in the teeth of Our Lord's remarks about
riches, that "vocation to share the life of the wealthy in a spirit of
detachment" made me smile. Once you were really detached from wealth,
you would simply be unable to bear it a moment longer surely.

* Papers about the Malvern Conference.

I thought the synopsis of Sir R. Acland's speech awfully good and am
not surprised he made an impression. . . . But I quite agree with you
that what people want from the Church and always have wanted are
precise and simple directions on what they can and should do now
--not only as regards special points like birth control or military
service (and she can't even make up her mind about these) but about use
of time and money, Christian conduct of business, education, etc. I
don't agree with you, however, that Our Lord made the full demand for
absolute surrender on all. He obviously made a great distinction
between the "multitude" and the "little flock," and I think recognition
of that, and a call to become part of the little flock (but, as you
say, in the world) is probably what we need. Things like the Franciscan
Tertiaries and the Jeunesse Ouvriere Catholique and the Filles de Marie
are looking in the right direction. But it must not be only a
devotional demand but something practical and far-reaching. I think it
will come--we are only at the tentative stage now--and so far as
possible one should throw one's weight in that direction.

12 Hampstead Square.
 Wed. in Holy Week, 1941.

 This brings you my best love and all blessings for Easter. I do
hope you are now a bit less tired and over-strained and will be able
to enter into something of the supernatural peace and wonder, even
in your crowded and Martha-ish life. I was dreadfully sorry not to
be able to answer your last letter; just then the germ which had
been rambling round the house attacked me and turned to asthma and
bronchitis and the Dr. sternly forbade all letters and has now only
partly raised the ban.

Well, I do largely agree with your R.M. It is always a difficult
problem to decide, when only external "good works" seem to put a
stopper on one's interior life, whether this is God's call to the
soul or one has made a mistake and chosen an unsuitable job. If you
are strong enough to stick it out, the mere fact of its being very
uncongenial does not matter. But the desire for selfsacrifice may
easily lead one into temptation that is too much for one's delicate
interior processes. After all, the very best thing one can do for
one's neighbour as well as for God, is to keep spiritually alert,
and anything which checks prayer is to be held in suspicion. I may
say practically everyone I hear from finds that war-work does this:
and you, with your inclination to go "all out" on your jobs and not
keep an inner reserve, are particularly vulnerable!

But I cannot agree with Fr. A. about Mass without communion. Bishop
Frere and Baron von Hugel were solidly against this and I hope you
will take their deep and wise view on this. . .. Quite right not to
strain and struggle when prayer is difficult; but just make a simple
motion of abandonment to God. But as to Communion, both would say it
is something done by God to us, not by us towards God; and even
though we felt actually repelled we must still receive it. I feel no
doubt at all that this is right; and is a deeper, simpler, more
direct view of our relationship to God than all the stuff about
Church discipline, etc.

Meanwhile a holiday is clearly indicated as soon as you can contrive
it: and in the future better management of your resources and a
certain moderation in your self-giving. This does not mean "ca'

Of course all these suggestions must be laid before God who will
then (if you can give Him time and opportunity!) show by His
pressure on your soul how you should act. But to have got yourself
into a jam in which you can no longer feel that pressure, is to
destroy the chief source of your usefulness to Him!

12 Hampstead Square, N.W.3.
 27 April, 1941.

 Yes, I have never felt any inclination to change my views about the
war. As horror is piled on horror it becomes more and more clear
that one cannot fight evil by the use of evil. Of course I think
none of us have any idea of what the real and spiritual events are,
which have this awful repercussion on the surface of life. We are
witnessing Armageddon without knowing what Armageddon really means
and so have not the material for forming a considered judgment on
what our own action can and should be. But to adhere to the Eternal
God, and help others to steady their lives in the same way, must
always be right. I understand so well and sympathize with your own
feeling that you had not sufficiently given yourself to your
original attrait. But I suppose the principle of abandon means that
we always envisage our situation as it is now and give ourselves to
God in that, without considering the past?

Indeed I will pray for you "according to my poor cunning" and hope
you will for me. Our future seems very dark and uncertain as so much
we thought permanent has fallen away.

30 April, 1941.

 . . . the whole idea of the Communion of Praise must be free
and loose-knit and nothing in the way of an "Order" attempted.
Apart from all else this would at once bring in denominational
difficulties, and give the idea of some specially intense group in
contrast to the rest of the Church. I feel so sure myself that this
movement and others like it--i.e. Brother Edward's "dail waiting on
the Holy Spirit"--are small surface manifestations of some great
movement in the supernatural, some vast a transforming action of the
Spirit, which will end the present chaos, and also the divisions of
the Church. . . . People hardly seem to realize how remarkable it is
that Cardinal Hinsley and the Archbishop and the Free Church people
should be writing letters and acting together in the interests of
the Christian life. Yet this is happening more and more, and is I'm
sure one of the manifestations of the great things preparing in the
Invisible World.

. . . Of course printing is terribly difficult now but we must get a
lot of it done if possible, if the central idea of union in
adoration, with all that flows from it, is to be made known--and
I'm sure it is intended to be made known.

May 3, 1941.

To K.N.
 People sometimes get St. John of the Cross by the tail!
Selfoccupation, including religious self-occupation, is always
wrong, though often disguised as an angel of light.

This is the first thing I should say--Just plain self-forgetfulness
is the greatest of graces. The true relation between the soul and
God is the perfectly simple one of a childlike dependence. Well
then, be simple and dependent, acknowledge once for all the plain
fact that you have nothing of your own, offer your life to God and
trust Him with the ins and outs of your soul as well as everything
else! Cultivate a loving relation to Him in your daily life; don't
be ferocious with yourself because that is treating badly a precious
(if imperfect) thing which God has made.

As to detachment--what has to be cured is desiring and hanging on to
things for their own sake and because you want them, instead of
offering them with a light hand and using them as part of God's
apparatus; people seem to tie themselves into knots over this and
keep on asking themselves anxious questions on the subject--but
again, the cure is more simplicity! They must shake themselves out
of their scruples. The whole teaching of St. John of the Cross is
directed to perfecting the soul in charity, so that all it does,
has, says, is, is transfused by its love for God. This is not a
straining doctrine, though a stern one, as of course it does mean
keeping all other interests in their place and aiming at God all the

5 May, 1941.

To C.D.
 . . . No--I had not heard of the meetings you mention; but I never
do go to meetings nowadays nor, I fear, have I much belief in their
usefulness. All this discussion about a "Christian Society," a "New
Christian England," etc., seems so entirely on the surface, doesn't
it? And shows no realization of the drastic changes and awful
sufferings which must be endured before anything of the kind becomes
possible. I agree with you in thinking Hitler a "Scourge of God"
--but it is idle to begin to think yet of what we shall or can do
when he has finished his course! Probably very little of what we
know as the ordinary framework of life will survive.

The new life when it comes, I think, will not be the result of
discussions, plans, meetings, etc., but will well up from the
deepest sources of prayer. I see some signs of the beginning of this
movement, and one is the new and marked tendency of the various
Christian bodies to draw together and work together. You may have
seen some of the writings of the Abbe Couturier on this. I think it
one of the most religious phenomena of our times. A great friend of
mine, Maisie Spens, a very unusual person and something of a
prophetess, is greatly concerned in it, and during Lent she got a
number of R.C. and Anglican Communities to offer their whole prayer
for this intention of spiritual unity. Of course a great many
individuals of all denominations also joined in. The next period of
special prayer begins on June 27 and ends on the Transfiguration: I
should be so glad if you cared to take part. I enclose a copy of one
of her "meditations" in case you are interested.

12 Hampstead Square, N.W.3.
 12 May, 1941.

 Yes--I am still a pacifist though I agree with you about the
increasing difficulty of it. But I feel more and more sure that
Christianity and war are incompatible, and that nothing worth having
can be achieved by "casting out Satan by Satan." All the same, I
don't think pacifists at the moment should be controversial, or go
in for propaganda. The nation as a whole obviously feels it right to
fight this war out, and must I think do it. I think Hitler is a real
"scourge of God," the permitted judgment on our civilization; and
there are only two ways of meeting him--war, or the Cross. And only
a very small number are ready for the Cross, in the full sense of
loving and unresisting abandonment to the worst that may come. So
those who see that this alone is full Christianity should be careful
not to increase the disharmony of life by trying to force this
difficult truth on minds that are closed against it, and will only
be exasperated by it. At present I think one can do little but try
to live in charity, and do what one can for the suffering and
bewildered. We are caught up in events far too great for us to
grasp, and which have their origin in the "demonic powers" of the
spiritual world. Let us hope that the end of all the horror and
destruction may be a purification of life!

Lawn House, Hampstead.
Easter IV (1941).

To E.N.
 Don't worry about your prayer! Everyone I know feels in a "rotten
state" and general condition of muddle and distraction. The
situation is a bit too thick for us--but we must just do our best! I
am sure a quite general waiting on God, and giving oneself and all
one cares about totally and trustfully into His hands, should be the
substance of it. A very deeply spiritual woman I know says that the
Lord's Prayer, Gloria Patri, and Behold the handmaid of the Lord,
are the only prayers she can use now! Though it may seem play-acting
because our feelings are overstrained and numb--so long as we pray
not as individuals but part of the Church, it shares the reality of
the Church's total prayer--and as the essence of that total prayer
is "Thy Will be done" this overrides our inevitable human desire for

I will try to remember your poor friend though I'm terribly bad at
intercession for individuals.

Lawn House, 12 Hampstead Square, N.W.3.
Whitsunday, 1941.

To Z.A.
 Will you accept the enclosed if it appeals to you?* and tell anyone
else who might care for it. It is part of the Reunion Movement begun
by the Abbe Couturier; who considers reunion can only begin by union
in prayer and thence spread to the surface. Many R.C. and Anglican
communities have taken it up eagerly and Maisie Spens who is much
concerned with it has written some really remarkable pamphlets I'd
like you to see.**

* An invitation to join in forty days of prayer.

** All Power is Given and As One in Praising. S.P.C.K., 3d. each.

5 June, 1941.

 I have been immersed in Kierkegaard--some new ones in English
lately published, and all of his latest period, when he was much
more spiritualized than in the first part of his career. At his best
he really is superb--and just what all are needing now, though too
drastic in his demands ever to be popular.

Trinity, 1941.

To M.C.
 You have been so much in my mind lately and I've been meaning to
Write--but it's extraordinary that tho' I live such a quiet life
now, mostly in one room, the arrears of letters never get done. You
as billeting officer must be very busy--what an exacting but as you
say very very worth while job. This mixing-up of people, specially
children, will surely be one of the few good things to come out of
this time of horror. I feel more and more to be living through the
Apocalypse. I remain pacifist but I quite see that at present the
Christian world is not "there" and attempts to preach it at the
moment can only rouse resistance and reduce charity. Like you I
think the final synthesis must reconcile the lion and the lamb--but
meanwhile the crescendo of horror and evil and wholesale destruction
of beauty is hard to accept. . . .


Heavenly King, Paraclete, Spirit of Truth, present in all placet,
and | filling all things, Treasury of good and Choir-master of life:
come and dwell within us, cleanse us from all stains and save our
souls.--Liturgy I of St. John Chrysostom.

Jan. 19, 1923.

. . . As to the "degrees of prayer," it is not really uncanny, for
most of us travel by that road more or less, though of course we
each feel our own experience to be unique! As you recognize yourself
there do read Les Graces d'Oraison by Poulain and Holy Wisdom by
Augustine Baker. It's not in the least "out of order" that you
should find yourself at the levels of the "simplicity" and the
"quiet"--but you may, probably will, lose these, perhaps more than
once, before they become truly established and habitual. That vivid
awareness could not go on all the time--it has to grow steadier. But
the great thing is not to try to do too much of yourself, but leave
it to happen. Of course too it is of primary importance for anyone
committed to this way of life, to set aside, so far as possible, the
same time each day for prayer and recollection, and it is also far
better to do it always in the same place. This time should be so
used, whether you are in the light or not--at least a half-hour
daily. It is essential to you as training if for nothing else. I
mean this of course in addition to any ordinary morning and night
prayers. Do not be too much cast down when the joy goes, will you?
It is the steady course, not the ecstasy, that counts in the end.
. . . .

Jan. 25, 1923.

I am not a bit unpleasant about sins and penances .. . but apt to be
disagreeable on the church question. I stood out against it myself
for so long and have been so thoroughly convinced of my own error,
that I do not want other people to waste time in the same way.

Nothing can save you from narrow intensity and "verticalness" if you
reject all the corporate and institutional side--always rather
repugnant to people of our temperament. I do not mean that perpetual
church-going and sermons (!) are necessary, but some participation
in the common religious life and some sacramental practice. In the
long run you will find it has a steadying and mellowing effect, and
will help too to carry you over the blank times. You will find
regular training a great help too. A simple rule, to be followed
whether one is in the light or not, gives backbone to one's
spiritual life, as nothing else can. You should fix it now, during
this time of peace and joy; and let it be decidedly less than you
feel you can do now. . . . If you fall later into a state in which
you cannot, without strain, practise meditation or mental prayer,
you can spend the time in spiritual reading, only try always to keep
it intact and not use it for other things.

It is no trouble to write to you--but a great pleasure and
privilege; and easy, because you trust me enough to write
intimately, for which I am very grateful. Only please never assume
that what I suggest is necessarily right for you, if you have a
distinct feeling against it.

Feb. 7, 1923.

But you MUST settle down and quiet yourself. Your present state if
encouraged will be in the end as bad for you spiritually as
physically. I know it is not easy to do. Nevertheless it will in the
nature of things come about gradually and I want you to help it all
you know. If you allow rapture or vehemence to have its way too
much, you risk a violent reaction to dryness, whereas if you act
prudently you will keep the deep steady permanent peace, in the long
run more precious and more fruitful than the dazzling light. But you
won't do it by direct struggle--did you ever quiet a baby, or your
dog, or any other excited bit of life, by direct struggle? You will
do it, please, by steadily, gradually and quietly turning your
thoughts and prayers not so much to the overwhelming joy and wonder,
as to the deep steadfastness of God, get gently accustomed to it, at
home with it, rest in it. Let your night prayers be rather short,
very quiet, more or less on a set form, not too "mental" and in the
line of feeling of Psalm xxiii. Let yourself sink down into God's
Love in complete dependence, and even though the light does seem to
rush in on you, keep as it were the eyes of your soul shut, intent
on falling asleep in Him.... During the day, doing your work, etc.,
it is I know very hard not to be distracted and absorbed. But
remember you have no more right to be extravagant over this than
over any other pleasure or craving. It is true you can and probably
will find a balance in which you will live in a quiet spirit of
prayer, able at all leisure moments--and in the middle of your work
--to turn simply and gently to God. But this will come only when all
vehemence is eliminated.

Consider the sequence of daily acts, and your external interests as
part of your service, part of God's order for you, and as having a
proper claim on your undivided attention.

Take special pains now to keep up fully or develop some definite
non-religious interest, e.g., your music. Work at it, consider it an
obligation to do so. It is most necessary to your spiritual health;
and you will very soon find that it has a steadying effect. "Good
works" won't do--it must be something you really like for its own
sake. (When this prescription was given to me by the wisest of
saints, I objected strongly, but lived to bless him for his
insistence! Now I hand it on to you.)

Otherwise, just for the present, do go as quietly as you can, about
your work, etc., I mean. Avoid strain. If you could take a few days
off and keep quite quiet it would be good, but if this is impossible
at any rate go along gently, look after your body, don't saturate
yourself the whole time with mystical books. I know you do feel
tremendously stimulated all round; but remember the "young
presumptuous disciples" in the Cloud! Hot milk and a thoroughly
foolish novel are better things for you to go to bed on just now
than St. Teresa.

Remember as a general rule, running right through the spiritual
life, that the more any particular aspect or exercise attracts you,
the more ordered, regular, moderate should be your use of it.

Don't have any lurking fear that you will lose the light by this
kind of discipline--just the opposite, you will steady and tend to
retain it.

February 21, 1923.

It is physically as much as spiritually I want you quieted and
normalized. The body must not be driven beyond its strength. . . .
Your nerves and mind have been subjected to an abnormal strain and
must be wisely looked after for a bit. Otherwise just gently
encourage the quieting-down process in all possible ways and give
outlet to your new zest in your active and mental as well as your
purely religious life. I would never dream of calling you a Young
Presumptuous Disciple! What am I to use such language? "An infant
crying in the night" as the poet said. I merely wanted to draw your
attention to what happened to those who "travailled their fleshly
hearts outrageously in their breasts." The Choral Society sounds
quite a good outlet!

If you should find you tend to dry up during your fixed time of
prayer--I don't mean merely become passive--don't try to tune
yourself up again, but at once take to congenial vocal or
book-prayers with intervals of silence if you like; nothing forced.

I look forward so much to seeing you. Give me as much notice as you
can, when you want to come.

March 1, 1923.

I am delighted to hear of the novels, but please leave St. Teresa,
Ruysbroeck and Co. alone for a bit and don't deliberately practise
mental prayer either. I know this is a "hard saying" and I don't
mean I want you to put any strain on yourself to keep off it, but
don't encourage yourself in it.... So long as you feel "peaceful and
rested" well and good--just stay there and be content. You see, the
whole point is, there is as you know quite well, a psychic as well
as a spiritual side to all these experiences--and it is in your case
the psychic side which has been too fully roused and upset your
equilibrium. The spiritual side is always deep, quiet, peaceful,
humbling. All this you have and this is the valuable part and
absolutely safe. Keep close to that and gently move away from the
vivid, passionately rapturous type of reaction. It is not God but
your too eagerly enjoying psyche which keeps you awake and tears you
to bits with an over-exciting joy. This was inevitable for a bit
--but please get away from it now!

You will think I give nothing but unpleasant lectures. However I
promise not to refer to the subject when you come, unless you do

But do be limp and get well.

May 2, 1923.

I was wondering when you would write again, but never dreamed of
that lovely keepsake falling, as it were, out of the letter. ... It
is beautiful and I do like it so much.

Some of your letter I like too, but not the part confessing that you
are still really ill and plainly in a condition when a little
spiritual vegetation would suit you better than the demanded
revision of your rule of prayer. I still think one or at most one
and a half hours in the day for deliberate continuous prayer is
sufficient; it is as much, and probably more than you will manage
without strain when this exceptional illumination fades--and that is
the real test. It may be in two or three separate portions, as you
like. I do not count short 5-minute recollections or aspirations
during the day. These you are quite free to do so long as they do
not interfere with necessary activities. In fact the occasional
momentary prayers are excellent and should become habitual. As to
reading, something rather less advanced and more concerned with
laying solid foundations than the Sparkling Stone would be better I
should think, and please do not only read mysticism. Balance it with
some good logical stuff; and use the New Testament as material for
meditation in preference to anything else; it is steadying, and
after all, if the other things do not lead you back to that, they
are not much good.

I think a Retreat of not more than seven days would be very good for
you. . . . Most of the conducted Retreats are only about three days
but you can usually stay on a bit longer as a private retreatant and
get the benefit of the silence and general atmosphere. . . . Do take
care of yourself--I mean your body not your soul! make up your mind
to some sort of complete rest. The tramp steamer sounds nice.

June 27, 1923.

The Retreat House I always go to is Pleshey. I do advise you to go
to a conducted Retreat; you are more sure of unbroken silence and
you get the atmosphere better. But by all means stay on a day or two
by yourself afterwards.... No restrictions except a general warning
against over-intensity. . . .

Go to Communion as often as you can and weave the idea (and
practice) of spiritual communion into your prayers. You've got to
get rid of that obsession of sin, you know; it's a crudeness, an
inferior sort of humility at best--and really rooted in a disguised
self-occupation! I've had it badly so I know all about it. Look at
Christ and not at yourself. Regard the inclination to useless
remorse as a temptation. There is not much to choose between the
best and the worst in us, seen in the spiritual light, is there?
Just let the love of God wash over the whole thing. It's the only
Christian attitude.

Now as to your rule of making Christ the ultimate arbiter as to the
spirit of every action, of course that is right. As to the concrete
fact of each action, don't fall into excesses. If He did not go to
Italy, He visited His friends, obviously enjoyed beauty, satisfied
the poetic and imaginative outlook so clearly reflected in the
Gospel. You are to be both world-accepting and worldrenouncing. This
He clearly taught and teaches.

Also kindly re-read and ponder the parable of the Two Camels in
Ferishtah's Fancies--a very wise work! This need not count as
spiritual reading, though it is. And get as long and complete a
holiday as you can and regard it as your first religious duty to
keep quiet and in a state of gentle acceptance and not bang about.

October 7, 1923.

Do bring yourself to realize that a life of complete surrender,
inward poverty and correspondence with Our Lord, has been and can be
lived without the use of physical penances. . . .

If you are feeling so much as you say the attraction of Holy
Communion and beginning to have the idea that a more Catholic type
of practice may be God's will for you, I should very deeply regret
any action on your part which shut you off from this possibility. I
have felt all along that a regular sacramental practice was what you
needed and now you begin to see what it means it is doubtful whether
you will get on in the long run without it. I shall never say one
word to press you to join the Anglican or any other church. You must
only do so if you clearly feel it is God's call for you. Do not
confuse the issue with scruples about Holy Communion being a
"spiritual selfindulgence." You know at the bottom of your heart it
is nothing of the kind and is not to be resorted to for its
sweetness but as a positive source of strength. If you do become a
regular and frequent communicant you will have to do it with
absolute determination to continue it steadily in darkness or in
light and will find in this a degree of discipline you probably do
not realize yet. . . .

After being myself bodi a non-sacramentalist and a sacramentalist,
there is no doubt at all left in my own mind as to what is the
simplest and most direct channel through which grace comes to the

November 6, 1923.

I am so dreadfully sorry for you and do not suppose anything I say
will cheer you up much. But I do want you to realize that this was
absolutely bound to happen sooner or later--not merely to you, but
to any soul whatever. No one--not the saints--has ever had
continuous illumination: and the very vividness of your experience
has to be paid for by a corresponding reaction. I am so glad you
realize it was not "quite right" or peaceful enough. I knew it--but
the least hint that it had a psychic element seemed to upset you. I
believe you do not know at all yet, though you will, what the deep
and true peace really is.

Now do, my very dear child, take this grand, indeed crucial
opportunity rightly. You've desired suffering--this is your
opportunity of suffering and of testing the purity and
disinterestedness of your love. Your whole spiritual future depends
on how you take this trial. If you are quiet and steady I do not
suppose the darkness will long be unrelieved. Read again St. John of
the Cross, Dark Night, Book I; I think you will see where you are. A
more blessed place to be really, than in the midst of "sensible
consolations"--which, however entrancing, are mere snares unless
they lead to self-loss.

Now as to practice. Keep up, however it repels you, regular
Communions (once a week if you can, not more); other churchgoing I
leave to you. Quite short morning and night prayers. No strain. No
attempt at mental prayer. But please keep intact the time you had
for mental prayer; do needlework, gardening, any quiet and congenial
work in it, but don't melt it into your day--and if the unsought
impulse to prayer then comes to you, yield gently to it. Make no
struggle to recover fervour. . . . Above all, remember all the time,
God is moulding you as much in darkness as in light and turn to Him
with gratitude and acceptance.

November 16, 1923.

The more you can avoid strain, remain quiet, trustful and accepting,
the sooner light will return. Offer what you suffer in this darkness
to Christ, it's worth offering, and if you do this, the worst of the
sting will go.

I do not think either St. John of the Cross or your director (a
pretty pair! why not Jehovah and a black beetle?) fails to realize
that you feel very small indeed. It would be most deplorable if you
did not! Any soul feeling the dark side of the Divine action is
necessarily overwhelmed with its own "nothingness." All the same,
what he says does apply to you and what you are suffering is what
countless others have borne before. Of course the sense of being
forsaken is the worst bit, as it was the worst bit of the Cross. I
shall be glad if you emerge from this to a more moderate and quiet
type of experience, for indeed these sudden and violent alternations
are enough to tear you to bits and you must take real care of
yourself. . .. Do not struggle for concentration in reading. That
mental deadness is part (a psychic part!) of the whole condition of
exhaustion in which you now are. But all parts of it can be turned
by you to great spiritual profit, if they bring you to a perfectly
quiet and patient waiting on God's will for you. . . . Think of
yourself as a child in a dark room from which the light has been
taken, in order that you may quiet down and sleep a little. Love
took away the light and at the right time will bring it back.

November 24, 1923.

Do arrange your life to get in as many Communions as you can, for
thus you will get really, though not directly in consciousness, the
strength you have been getting in contemplative prayer. You have
been relying too much on experience and not enough on the facts of
faith, which is the path you have now got to follow for a bit. When
you feel that impulse to prayer, try to stay as it were in the dark
for a bit with God and accept the conditions under which you have
now got to live. Quiet acceptance and common-sense are the way to
get fervour back again. Repulsive programme, isn't it?

December 14, 1923.

It's not the least use reintroducing the physical penance question.
As you were so insistent I even went so far as to ask Baron von
Hugel (who is my "final court of appeal" on all questions of the
inner life) in an impersonal way, what would be the correct advice
to give on this point; and he replied, to leave all severe penances
alone, their renunciation being a far more wholesome discipline than
their use. Considering that he has directed hundreds of souls of all
sorts of different types and is himself a saint, I do not think you
can go against this, can you? You are quite mistaken if you think
anything of this sort would bring back fervour and light: on the
contrary, keep quiet, do not concentrate on religion, let the
reaction spend itself and in the end, all will be well. You are in
God's hands and He can't hurt you. Do rest your soul on that. As to
"God's absence"; it is of course illusion; it is He who casts the
shadow that distresses you so.

Do not hesitate to write if it helps.

January 26, 1924.

How I wish I could get out of your head the idea that the love of
Christ is "withdrawn" from you and that you have "no spiritual
life." You are far more truly living the spiritual life holding on
through this darkness than when you were enjoying yourself in
consolations. And one proof of this is that people come to you for
help and you are able to deal with them. Why be vexed about that? It
is extremely good for you to do it, as well as a blessed privilege.
Certainly do not tell them "you have no spiritual life" or indeed
unless inevitable, anything at all about yourself! There's no
occasion to feel hypocritical, and even when, as so often happens,
those who come to us for advice are so immeasurably better than we
are ourselves, keep it all on impersonal levels. God sends such work
and will help you to do it.

February 25, 1924.

Ovaltine! gentle aspirations! no strain and no fixed rule!
preference given to secular interests! Be one-tenth as kind to
yourself as you were to me and you will do very nicely. . . . It was
such a perfectly happy week and I loved every moment of it, both the
sacred and the profane!

The poem* will come true for you--not "perhaps"! I am not
dissatisfied, though it is horrid to have to stand by and see you
suffer. But it is the sort of pain which is one of the greatest of
the soul's privileges and makes "affirmative religion" look pretty
thin. How can we expect God's action to be other than torture to us;
weak and unpurified and yet sensitive things as we are?

* These verses were found written on the fly-leaf of a copy of
Immanence after E.U. had left.

Come with birds' voices when the light grows dim
 Yet lovelier in departure and more dear:

While the warm flush hangs yet at heaven's rim,
 And the one star shines clear.

Though the swift night haste to approaching day
 Stay Thou and stir not, brooding on the deep:

Thy secret love, Thy silent word let say
 Within the senses' sleep.

Softer than dew. But when the morning wind
 Blows down the world, O Spirit! show Thy power:

Quicken the dreams within the languid mind
 And bring Thy seed to flower!

May 20, 1924.

Of course a life of adoration and surrender is not selfish! What
next in the way of scruples? Do you think the seraphim Isaiah saw
were monuments of spiritual self-indulgence? If that is your call it
is a very blessed one and to be received with deep gratitude in
spite of the suffering it must entail. But I am grieved for all the
physical pain, though somehow when you are not too overcome by it to
do anything but just bear it, it too can open up heavenly vistas
with the Cross at their far end. I wonder whether beads will help
you at all just now--usually I rather dislike them--but when ill and
weak one can drowsily run them through one's fingers as a link to
one's aspirations; keeping thus gently recollected without strain I
find. DON'T do it if it tires you ever, or if you find it is no
help. But in case you do find it nice I send you a heavily-blessed
Dominican rosary I got for a friend of mine now dead, who came as
near sanctity in her ten years as a Christian, as anyone I've known.
I'd love you to have them anyhow.

One can make endless devotional patterns on them. I rather like this

Anima Christi or Jesu dulds memoria on the Cross, and on the small
beads O Sacred Heart of Jesus! in Thee is all my trust and the
Paternoster on the big beads; or if that is too long If Thou wilt
that I be in Light, be Thou blessed for it; and if Thou wilt that I
be in darkness, still be Thou blessed for it! Light and darkness,
life and death, bless ye the Lord.' . . .

Glad you like Otto; he has got hold of something real hasn't he? I
was sorry he trailed off into Luther when he might have illustrated
from real saints; and of course he does not get the intimate,
penetrating other side, the sacramental and homely--just as
"irrational" as the "numinous" and perhaps in a way more productive
of abject feelings!

June 20, 1924.

You need not have worried about penances and mortifications need
you? When the hour strikes they are there all right; and so on with
everything else, only never the expected thing. It is lovely to
think you are happier inwardly, though still so "tried and
tempested" outwardly. Sink down gently into that selfabandoned peace
all you can, it is there that your real treasures are hid.

As to Communion, well it would have been a solace to you: but it is
the comfort, not the grace, you are missing. "Every time we think
with love of the well-beloved, He is once more our meat and our
drink." I love that bit, don't you?

Yes, as you say, the vastness does open up more and more and we
shrink more and more; and get more our real shape and size in the
process. It is when one gets a glimpse of the Completeness and
Perfection of God's operation right through, that it is so lovely,
isn't it? Then we cease to matter and at once we are in Him and
quite happy, even though not consciously "consoled."

August 7, 1924.

I'm very glad to hear you have managed to get recollected again. The
sort of prayer you describe is all right, I am sure. In fact you
ought to make up your mind to it as your average prayer and a great
deal to be grateful for at that. Anything beyond is an added grace
and never to be expected continuously: and in your present state of
health would be far too much for you. So stay quiet and be content
with that sense of dim nearness, won't you? You do not require
sugar-feeding now and so aren't having it. No! I don't mind much
about your rule. Only avoid all strain and just remain quietly with
God as long as you feel called so to do. Let your side be entirely
response and acceptance--no forcing of the situation--and that will
beall right.

As to what you can do: I feel pretty confident, and all the more
since you've had to weather this darkness, that your real call is
contemplative: and this fits in well enough with your physical
situation, doesn't it?

Now, contemplation which is exclusively of the a deux type certainly
does run a grave risk of falling into spiritual selfishness. But a
true contemplative vocation (whether lived in or out of the world)
is surely not this at all. It involves (in the end--gradually--never
with violence) the development of a spiritual force by which you
exercise not only adoration, but also mediatorship--a sort of
redemptive and clarifying power working on other souls--a tiny
co-operation in the work of Christ. This is the thought I'd like you
to keep before you. And it will cover not only everything you have
to suffer, physically and every way, but actual work in and for
other souls. It is only to my mind when thus understood, that the
vocation to prayer achieves real greatness. Of course the side of
personal communion and adoration remains primary--through that comes
the food, power, impetus and peace--but all that comes |[ thus is to
be used again, eventually, for the purposes of God.

I do not mean you are to change your prayer at all now, or struggle
to do intercessions, etc. But regard your present phase as
educative, and respond to it faithfully and quietly. The rest will
come at the right time. You may have more time for this quiet
receptive prayer; but on days when you feel dry, exhausted, etc.,
you are quietly to drop it.

"Where Thou art, there is Heaven" is a nice little aspiration I
think, don't you?

I am glad you like Lucie-Christine. But if you read her carefully
(and after all it is only extracts from her Journal) she has plenty
of times of obscurity and desolation. Yes, her fervours do make one
blush like the "Golden Fountain" lady. But after all she never meant
'em to be printed poor dear, and French is an unfortunate language.
Even St. Catherine of Siena in modern French would look pretty bad!

August 28, 1924.

After your remarks about Fenelon and health (with which I rather
agree!) I suppose further reference to this subject would be
tactless. Otherwise descriptions of invalids driving in the cows are
calculated to provoke a "Surtout, chere Madame, evitez les
fatigues!" The Baron dosed me with Fenelon at one time, till I told
him that a Perfect Gentleman giving judicious spiritual advice to
Perfect Ladies was no good to me--since when his name has not been
mentioned between us! . . .

You must expect and accept fluctuations. You won't mind them nearly
so much after a bit. . . . Try not to be torn to bits by the
longing, it's so bad for you and so useless--and you are just as
much there really in the dark as in the light, aren't you? Heaven
would still be Heaven if we had to go in with blinkers on.

 Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

You know quite well it is Fenelon's moderation and avoidance of
introspection that is so good for you; and not his gentility! I too
am much more at home among cows and pigs than elsewhere and so glad
you had a little of their company. . . .

I am sure you ought not to kneel! Like you I always want to and find
it much harder if one doesn't. But it is possible to cure oneself of
that! The most contemplative person I know always sits and shuts her
eyes: like Rolle! It is just habit and you had better begin to
acquire it. So handy in many ways, especially for short snatches of
recollection when one may be interrupted. Shutting one's eyes and
thinking of oneself as kneeling before the Cross is sometimes rather
a help. . . .

Do not overdo things or forget how necessary it is to keep external
interests going if you want to avoid the spiritual ennui which comes
from overstrain. When I said more time for prayer, I didn't mean all
the time!

September 24, 1924.

. . . Te prayerful attitude is more valuable for you than long
concentration on the prayerful act, which is only one way, and not
the way of living the contemplative life.

October 24, 1924.

I've given two addresses this week, or rather the same one twice ...
on the need for Retreats and all that they stand for. ... I spoke of
Joy, and the Chairman said "Miss Underhill has told us we must be
Cheerful Christians." I nearly yelled "I didn't!!" Imagine it! Like
putting the loveliest of the angels into Jaeger combinations!

. . . Do not fuss about using this part of your life well! Of course
you will "keep on" as you call it, or rather, He will keep on with
you. There are times when "suffering the divine action" is the main
part of one's job. . . .

I never got much value out of Pascal except the Mystere and the
Amulet myself. . . .

Holy Innocents Day, 1924.

Do you like this aspiration which came to me on a tiny card, "Lord!
for Thy great pain, have mercy on my little pain!" I think it's
rather a lovely one: it is from Margery Kempe.

The other new one I have liked is, "I lose myself, wondering at
Him"--from the old Cowley Saint, Richard Benson.

Yes! though I'll never believe God likes or means illness per se--I
am sure in its weakness and suffering it is among the most valuable
ways in which He can work on us and we complete our surrender to
Him. Although conscious recollection is often beyond us, we do then
remain in true interior solitude with Him and are obliged to suffer
His working on our souls.

Of course because you've been trying to take it right, it has not
impaired (but improved) you as an instrument of His purposes. . . .

January 25, 1925.

I'll bring or lend you when we meet St. Fracois de Sales' Letters
which are full of splendid, sane stuff. As for Therese de l'Enfant
Jesus, she is NOT a model for you! A "case" inclined to tepid and
agreeable paths who read it, asked me whether she was to regard it
as "murder or suicide?" and I certainly think, without daring to
criticize the special calls of the saints, that there is an element
of this sort in it.

As to self-abnegation: be ready to accept every mortification and
sacrifice God asks of you in unruffled peace--but No Cross-Hunting!
Your consecration means tranquil abiding in love with Christ,
through ups and downs and lights and darknesses--just as they come,
without self-will, doesn't it? But requests for yet another dose of
powder without jam, are only inverted self-will! Far the best way to
deal with self-love, is to let it die of starvation because you are
wholly concentrated on His love, within which you can safely love
all things, from your dog to the Seraphim, can't you?

April 16, 1925.

NO! prayer for other people is emphatically not an extra; but part
of one's daily rule. It must come within the two hours for prayer
and meditation. Sorry! But after all, if one is spending the time
with God, does it matter very much exactly how one is spending it?

July 16, 1925.

The Conference about "deepening the spiritual life of the Church"
was a most interesting and illuminating affair. A mixture of eminent
and progressive ecclesiastics of all parties (4 Bishops and quite a
bunch of Canons) with boys and girls from the Universities (who told
the Bishops without any tact or reserve just what they thought about
the Church), representatives of Missionary Societies, Studdert-Kennedy,
the Superior of Cowley and so forth. Most of the mature persons
freely confessed to feeling "spiritually impotent and tired"; but
when we were all asked to give a quarter of an hour a day to prayer
for the objects of the Conference, a surprising number were alarmed
by this dreadful demand! And after a little discussion there was a
plaintive yelp from one clerical collar to presiding Bishop: "My
Lord! is this quarter of an hour to be in addition to our ordinary

We now form a more or less permanent body and meet again in October.
Everyone on it I think is really keen, though the way they put
things might suggest to an outsider that there are at least 12
different religions in the English Church. We meet in the Jerusalem
Chamber and have silent prayer before the High Altar of Westminster
Abbey at 10 p.m. which is rather wonderful. . . . Oh yes! I am sure
it's true we each have to discover (with help) all the real things
for ourselves and don't really understand what we read--though we
often think we do!--till we have managed to practise at least some
of it. ...

July 31, 1925.

Do not be in a hurry with your convert! It is not everyone who is
equal to "giving themselves freely" at the beginning. Let her go
along gently, following her own attrait. She will probably do best
on a sugar diet for a little while and in due course find out for
herself that it is not adequate....

Miss Small gave me the suppressed verse of Bishop Ken's Evening
Hymn--rather nice for ending night prayers:

The faster sleep the sense doth bind
 The more unfettered is the mind;
 O may my soul from matter free,
 Thy Loveliness unclouded see!

August 28, 1925.

. . . I do realize that a long quiet time alone with God would
probably help you a lot. But it must be quite without strain and
have opportunities for relaxation and safeguards both against
intensity and monotony. After all, if you had been able to leave the
world . . . you would not have been allowed to spend all your time
praying. But you would have a life considerably relieved from
distraction and external claims, and so more consistently
recollected. And this I think you may certainly have for some weeks
on end, if a suitable place can be discovered. . . .

 September 14, 1925.

I agree with you about Poulain; no account of "states of prayer"
reduced to a system can be really accurate, because we are not
machines and each go within certain general limitations our own way;
and may have transitory gleams of "higher states" whilst still only
really belonging to the lower degrees, and so forth. After all, his
presence de Dieu send as a criterion of "mystical prayer" is much
too general. For as we all know, this may vary from a faint sort of
certitude to an overwhelming experience, and there's no point at
which one could say "here the supernatural begins."

November 10, 1925.

Do not please assume and dwell on the idea that this illness and
suffering is necessarily God's special visitation to you and
therefore ought to go on. It is raw material simply; an opportunity
of acceptance and consecration, and therefore capable of becoming an
immense grace for your soul, an opportunity of adoration from the
Cross. But humanly speaking, your life is to pass on and through it,
taking all reasonable means of cure and making yourself fit for
service to whatever else God's providence contains for you, isn't

Epiphany, 1926.

I am deeply interested in your Chemical [student]. . . . As to his
recent remarks, I think I would say Catholicism did not produce
Torquemada but gave his natural ferocity a theological outlet.  It
is the old choice between a religion wide enough and human enough to
embrace all sorts, and one narrow enough and lofty enough to be
content with Gentlemen Only.   And it is the big room-for-all-sorts
kind that produces saints, isn't it?

Would  he  really  condemn  an   apple-tree  that occasionally
tolerated a bit of blight, and in spite of it produced a good
average crop and here and there a Prize Specimen?   While he is at
it, he had better condemn the whole Universe--but it is really no
use being more fussy than God! . . .

My latest case is aged 64 and says, poor lamb (sheep perhaps), that
ever since 17 it has been longing for an answer to prayer but never
had one, in spite of listening! Almost as if she expected a sort of
spiritual telephone, and--"What is wrong?" But what can one say?

Sunday before Ascension, 1926.

I am so grieved that you have been wretched physically and
spiritually too. Of course the two things are closely connected but
that I know does not make the spiritual desolation any easier to
bear. The right and only way for you to take it is to relax all
effort, make no attempt to keep your rule, but wait as quietly and
peaceably as you can and dwell on this and kindred subjects as
little as you can. I wish your nature craved less for emotional
satisfactions; for it is that very largely which causes this intense
suffering in you. After all the sense of Christ's presence, though a
joy and support, is not the essence of religion. Nor would the Cross
be the Cross without that feeling of darkness and abandonment by
God. You can, you know, turn all this into a redemptive sacrifice;
and if you are able to do that, it is worth all the consolations in
the world. But you must do it quietly, and check the propensity to
dwell on your own spiritual pain. It is much the same with bodily
suffering. There too, one can either explore and emphasize it, allow
oneself to be obsessed till it is nearly intolerable; or, stand away
from it and let it happen and so kill the worst of the sting. You
have got, probably, to let this thing happen for a bit; and the more
quietly you can do this, the sooner light will return. If you have
Tauler's Inner Way read the sermon on the Martyrs and see what can
be made of such a situation! You told me you felt called to suffer
for Christ. Well! here is the suffering--far more prevailing too
than crude physical austerities and I don't think, if you take it
that way, you can resent it, can you? Never mind if you did "feel
rebellious." Do not agonize over this. Accept it too as part of the
suffering and then just leave it.

Go to Communion when you can; but make no efforts to achieve any
sort of realization. These in your present phase always defeat
themselves and increase the sense of conflict and strain.

No more now. Let me know how you get on. And do not lose hope or
allow yourself to consider the idea of losing hope. That is the one
thing which is never allowed surely, and which takes away the whole
value of the sacrifice to which you are called.

September 5, 1926.

This is just to send you my love and say I hope you will have a
really and deeply happy time at [the Convent]. I entreat you to
enter on it in as simple, expansive, non-intense mood as you
possibly can, turning steadily away from all self-abasing and
self-analysing sentiments and remaining gently passive and ready for
everything, or for nothing.

 September 14, 1926.

Now as to your Confession. If you are genuinely sure that you wish
it because you feel it to be God's will for you, by all means do it.
But do not do it to please the Rev. Mother or abstain from doing it
to please me! These motives should not ever be thought of in
connection with a Sacrament, should they? I think possibly, if you
feel a real inclination to do it, it may be a good thing and help
you to escape from this morbid sense of sin and confusion of motive,
etc., which obsesses you.

Be quite clear with yourself that only definite committed sins are
to be confessed. The fact that you feel "wlatsome"* and are always
brooding over it is merely an unfortunate piece of foolishness, to
which the Church does not extend absolution. I remember the Baron
saying to me under similar circumstances, "The Sacrament of Penance
was not created in order that you might discuss your unfortunate
character. You can't be absolved for not having a sense of humour!"

*A word used by Hilton.

I should be very sorry for you to make a practice of frequent
confession or anything else requiring detailed self-examination
because I am sure it would increase your self-occupation. But one
confession, without soul-scraping of any kind and with a clear
determination to let bygones be bygones when it is over, may really
pacify and clarify your soul. . . .

50 C.H.S.
 October 29, 1926.

I think you have lately made a distinct advance in this [Prayer]
even though it is "without salary" (but at any moment you know the
arrears may be paid in full) and that you are most distinctly to
follow quietly but faithfully where you are being led. You are also
quite right to leave formal prayer as you say, when impelled to, and
go and do "something useful" in that same spirit. That you are able
and inclined to do this, is in itself a sign of growth, Persevere
gently along this line.

As to "that which you are going to transmit will be relative to that
which you are able to receive"--Yes!   But not "consciously
receive"! You are, in such a disposition as you describe, as wide
open as you know how to be towards God, and so receiving all the
while.  That remark was not directed to your type but to the sort of
people who practise constant fussy intercessions without that
essential background of contemplation which is, though it may not
give you any particular satisfaction, well established now in your
life.   And if this self-oblation to God does take the form of
suffering (though here you have to guard most carefully of course
against any morbid assumption that particular sufferings "come from
God" and must be endured and not alleviated) still this is supremely
material which can be utilized for His redemptive work in souls.
When it comes, use it thus--but never deliberately seek it.  I do
not think it necessarily a coincidence that your "difficult child"
came round thus.   It is seldom possible to do much with really
crucial cases without at least being  fully willing to suffer,
mentally or otherwise. . . . The mere tension and effort needed tend
to produce it.   Anyhow in all this I take it you will be perfectly
safe to follow your attrait, so long as you are reasonable, and do
not overstrain yourself and keep non-religious interests alive as
much as you possibly can.

As for asking for special things for special souls, don't you think
it is rather a case of first offering oneself and them to God, and
then as it were letting oneself be used to work His will on them? Of
course in some cases the issue is quite clear--e.g., rescue from
temptation: in which case you simply try in union with His will to
work this. First give yourself to God; then direct your whole
attention, as it were, from within the Cross, on the person for whom
you have got to pray. This probably comes to the same thing as what
you describe. Anyhow, don't force yourself to a particular method,
but follow your call. Goodbye for now. I am very glad you wrote
about all this, though you don't need direction on it really, except
a judicious use of the curb! . . .

Heiler is in England and coming to tea next Sunday. Yes! isn't Pere
Charles a pure joy? I love the meditation on the Benedicite so, and
feel when David [her cat] suddenly sticks his nose into my face
that, like the frogs and the escargots, he can enchanter ma priere.
Your dog too should be good at this! My last addition to Andrewes is
from St. Anselm: "Lord! teach me to seek Thee and show Thyself to
me as I seek: for I cannot seek Thee unless Thou teach me, nor find
Thee unless Thou show Thyself."*

* E.U. used an edition of Andrewes with blank pages on which she
used to write prayers which specially delighted her. But each new
prayer had to be on probation for some time before she admitted it
to her collection.

July 18, 1927.

In view of all you say I think:

(a) Daily Communion would be spiritually permissible provided it was
not too much for you physically; but it must be one of your chief
duties to reduce physical strain as much as you possibly can.

(b) Extra times of prayer are not necessary. You must use your
judgment as to how much and what kind, best enables you to keep in
the generalized state of prayer you describe.

(c) Community life probably not suitable and almost certainly too
much for your health. The best thing seems to me at present what you
suggest: your normal life, with longish but not strenuous retreats
from time to time.

You will probably always find your special type of prayer pretty
exhausting and therefore the careful preserving of your strength is
of the very first importance. For this reason, considering your
health, I do not feel definite fasting would be a safe asceticism,
except in the form of leaving out something you like and replacing it
by something you do not care for. Fragile persons are never allowed
to fast.

For the rest, you have I fear quite enough physical suffering to give
material for the exercise of patience, surrender, etc. Be moderate!
Great privileges must be handled wisely. . . .

In the train, Liverpool to London.
 Eve of All Saints.

Both shows are safely over and I really felt very happy, thanks to
good backing up.  We had 28 at Watermillock. . . . I had lots of
interviews and many of them were perfect dears.... I had to submit to
a long discussion on Spiritual Healing [after the Retreat was over].
These people seem so cocksure about what God means and wills and all
the rest of it and so over-impressed by the importance of physical
robustness, don't they? X. considered  the Saints would have been  so
much  more useful if they had been full of beans and had lived longer
and gone about and met more people.   I said, from that point of view
a mere three years ministry in Galilee instead of a prolonged tour
through the Roman Empire did seem a pity.   But he did not seem
inclined to deal with this argument and only made a vague noise.
. . . History teaches these people nothing--they seem unable to
distinguish between quality and quantity....

. . . At Liverpool I had the Bishop's vestry all to myself! Think of
that! . . . One simply darling person, an aged Quakeress, 86, Dr.
Thomas Hodgkins' widow, and Violet Hodgkins' mother: light simply
streamed out of her. She came in to see me and held my hand and
said, "I hope, my dear, while you are watering our souls, you get
a few drops for yourself?" I said, "Well, I have to give most of my
attention to holding on to the can!" At which she laughed and kissed

Advent Sunday, 1928.

Had an interesting lunch sitting next the Archbishop [of Canterbury]
on Wed. He pleased me greatly by saying the only really important
thing for Clergy was to make a Retreat every year: and then told me a
tale of an utterly lonely, poverty-stricken one in an utterly
irresponsive village, with an ill wife and no servants, who rang his
own Church bell daily, said his offices and made his meditation and
never lost heart; and then added quietly, "That is the true evidence
of the Supernatural." Nice, don't you think?

April 16, 1929.

As to what you say about the times in Chapel, I think what you do is
ample, and also that the sort of prayer you describe, however
unsatisfying it may be to you, is perfectly all right and you have no
cause for depression about it. ...

I think regularity in the Opus Dei is important. In your own times in
Chapel, when it is a strain, I should not attempt actual prayer but
read a bit and just be there--it will suffice. Also reduce the early
morning half-hour if it tires you for the day and certainly DON'T get
up earlier. . . .

My Bishop too thinks I do not get enough time for myself when
conducting, but it really is impossible! As to Intercession, I do not
believe anyone really knows much about it, except in experience, and
it's best to follow your attrait. But in leading Intercessions, one
is bound to provide a certain amount of framework. It is all a very
difficult problem. People as a whole are so much cruder than one

July, 1929.

I am so glad you liked your Retreat and am sure the quiet bit you had
alone in bed upstairs was just what you needed most and the
discoveries you made are the true ones.

We all tend to mix up peace with feeling happy, and joy with
enjoyment! And the effort and tension and strain you would put all
your stress on, stopped the simple, tranquil sort of acceptance which
does make burdens light! And as to advising people, if it is put into
one's hand, one just has to do it in simple trust that if one keeps
as quiet as possible, God will do it through one and that one's own
insufficiency does not matter much. .. .

I think it was lovely your Reverend Mother asking for your prayers.
After all, if we never prayed for those who are streets above us, our
list would become uncommonly short. . . .

January 26, 1931.

It seems to me perfectly all right--for after all you are doing what
you can and can't do otherwise--and to do this is to please God. And
what is "sitting in the Chapel looking at the Crucifix" but a form of
passive prayer? I am sure my Abbot* would say the same. Isn't he a
darling?--the simplicity of the saints.

* Dom John Chapman, Abbot of Downside.

December 7, 1931.

As to your prayer, I am sure you must avoid everything that strains
you or keys you up; that it ought to be mostly a quite gentle
self-yielding towards God; a loving and docile abandon and feeding
your trust in support even though you do not feel support.

"Adherence" rather than effort. Remember Maria's, "Jesus can use
everything: and though I am afraid I am not alert enough, He can make
something even out of my weariness." After all, to give ourselves
quite simply is all we are asked to do and there is nothing
reprehensible in resting in the Lord! so long as it really is in Him!

July, 1933.
(After one of E.U.'s Retreats.)

I do not think the addresses should be shattering, because the
achievement can never be general but must be the result of our
various poor little efforts, decorated as it were by a handful of
saints, like the almonds on a cake! And it's lovely to think that
after all our lives can contribute to the total of the Corpus Christi
however small. F. von Hugel's "Joy for the others--the lovely
constellations of the spiritual heavens." I wish you would try that
and not feel tormented by what seems to you the smallness of your own
achievement. I am sure we are meant to be at peace about ourselves,
whatever we are like!!

August 1933.

A hard month's work is not the time to examine one's doubts! I think
a better plan is Julian of Norwich's, "It was said unto me: 'Take it
generally," i.e. although one may be in the dark about details and
unable to draw a neat line between what is realistic and what is
symbolic, one's whole life, work and sense of obligation witnesses to
the general truth of the supernatural and our relation to God; and
detailed investigation of the way the relationship is maintained,
etc., is on the whole less fruitful and less pacifying than this
general trustful adherence. The test is not of course our
understanding of this or that, but the effects produced by the bits
of work we are given to do--or rather, which are done through us.
And the more you let yourself be a channel, a kind of spiritual
Robot, the less you will "do it on your nerves" and the quieter you
will be. This, not merely doing less, is the point, isn't it? When
things are very thick, it is more important to maintain this spirit
(by occasional aspirations, etc.) than to wear yourself out with
trying to keep your times and do everything.

March 1934.

Yes! it was lovely at Wantage and I am so glad we were there together
for it all went so perfectly. . . .

As to dark prayer being deeply satisfying, I am sure for many who are
put to it in a queer way it is. Dom Chapman says so too--that
although one seems to know and do nothing, yet one comes away sure of
having been praying somehow, and pacified.

Where the prayer is real suffering as you describe, that is a special
case and (very likely) a special vocation, a prayer in the Cross. Of
course that is not, at least on the surface, pacifying, but
agonizing; and yet if it is your contribution, your share in Christ's
action, then it is (or can be) satisfying in the deepest sense. I
feel if you saw it more from that point of view, as a painful and
sacred kind of intercession, it might take away some of the strain of
it. You would go to it as one might go to the painful privilege of
doing a hard, even torturing job for someone that one loved. On the
theory of the Church's total prayer, your suffering avails for other

April 25, 1935. (After 10 days in the Lakes.)

It was a nice time, wasn't it? the heavenly little Church gave it a
sort of special benediction! . . .

The Abbot's Letters are a god-send.* I knew they would enlighten you
as to the meaning of your own state and that alone is an enormous
relief of strain and bewilderment. His calm matter-of-factness is so
reassuring and also his sense of the fundamental queerness of things
existing at all--which I have always had very strongly.

* Spiritual Letters of Dom John Chapman.

I still think you distress yourself unduly and also quite
unprofitably by dwelling on the sight of your own unworthiness.... It
is at best a distorted sight and no index at all of your real state.
Drop it quietly as much as you can and simply turn away from all
self-scrutiny of every kind. In one of his letters to me which Dom
Hudleston did not print the Abbot said, "I have lots of monks here
who are always ill because they are always thinking about their own
insides!" Quite a lot of truth in that! When you feel the blues
coming on, at once go and do something which takes your whole
attention (not something religious) or write and tell me about it!
This sometimes acts like a charm!

Septuagesima, 1936.

Don't think about being good! If you accept the very tiresome stuff
the Lord is handing out to you, that's all He wants at the moment.
"Let not your heart be troubled" if you can help it, is the best N.T.
bit for the moment I think; but the more bovine or merely acquiescent
you are the better. I know this will strike you as thin advice, but
it is all I can give. Drop religion for the time being and just be
quiet and wait a bit and God will reveal Himself again, more richly
and closely than ever before. . . .

February 26, 1936.

Have been reading for the first time, Pusey, and am amazed to find
what a fine, deep creature he was. Full of the mystics, very averse
to all mere ritualism and Romanism, and his letters of Direction are
splendid, quite in the St. Francois de Sales tradition. He strikes me
as much bigger spiritually than Newman, though not so brilliant.

Maundy Thursday, 1936.
[Written when she had to cancel a Retreat and disappoint many people
and when her correspondent also had to give up a bit of work.]

If your physical presence were absolutely necessary from God's point
of view, then He would arrange for it! This idea always comforts me a
lot when I can't do things though perhaps you will think it rather
austere! . . . I hope you are more comfy and freer from pain.
Sometimes I think the resurrection of the body, unless much improved
in construction, a mistake!

Advent Sunday, 1936.

My love and blessing for your Retreat. I hope and believe it will be
a time of peace for you and, if you will avoid all strain and let
your soul slowly become tranquillized, you will begin, like the cats,
to see a bit in the dark.

I do see that you must be constantly tempted to escape the pain of
darkness by losing yourself in activity but I am not at all sure that
it is a good thing to do. Physical exhaustion then reacts on your
spirit and so we get a vicious circle! Do let this time be an entire
withdrawal from work, the world, people and the rest; an abiding in
the emptiness where God alone is. I will be thinking of you much and
shall expect you on the 6th anyhow, whether in the Pink or in the
Drab and whatever the angle at which you are carrying the tail.

Eve of the Annunciation, 1938.

So terribly sorry if you have to leave off. . . . These losses of
liberty I think are among the hardest demands of the Lord. At least I
feel them so, but perhaps they are meant to drive us bit by bit into
the solitude with Him, which He requires of us.

Just sitting or kneeling in Church and apparently doing nothing at
all is a very good prayer. It is God's prayer in us, we are just the
vessels and so feel nothing. If that is your main trouble, you ought
to be quite pleased; it's a form of oraison passive and should be
settled into and no straining after anything else!

Maundy Thursday, 1938.

I was so glad to get your letter and hear all went so very well with
the Retreat, I thought it would! But it does all sound as if it had
been very specially lovely. I only hope you have not had a very bad
reaction from the inevitable fatigue. The Sunday always is the easy
day if things are going right; Saturday, as it were one hauls them
into position and Sunday they go along under their own steam. ... It
will be very nice to see you. I can't tell you how pleased I am about
the Retreat!

Trinity V, 1938.

You are now to rest quietly till God hands you out your next job. Who
knows what? His unexpectedness is one of the most attractive things
about Him!

Trinity VI, 1938.

I am afraid you are going through a very bad bit of readjustment
just now--that feeling one is no use any more, is horrible but is a
temptation of the devil. Remember Huvelin's "Notre Seigneur a gagne
le monde non pas par ses beaux discours par le sermon sur la
montagne, mais par son sang, par sa douleur sur la croix"--which
must have seemed utter failure, a finis to "being of use." In
various degrees I am sure we all have to make that transition. You
and I have both been allowed a good run of active work, but the real
test is giving it up, and passively accepting God's action and work,
and the suffering that usually goes with it. It will mean not only
interior growth for you, but also in the end, a closer union with
God and greatly increased power of helping souls....

No one, not the greatest saint, is irreplaceable. It is a greater act
of trust and love to give your work into fresh hands than to struggle
on with increasing damage to health. I know it must be increasing
anguish to you--but after all, Our Lord Himself had to leave His
work to 12 quite inferior disciples. We have to learn to accept for
ourselves all that this means, before we are really abandoned to God.

Ascension Day, 1941.

This intense craving for activity, freedom, doing work, is natural to
you and me and hard to give up. But it is quite clear that it is
something one must be prepared to give up if one is really to be
"abandoned." And praying for people, however dryly and inadequately,
may and often must be an exchange for instructing them! "Our Lord
taught great perfection on the Cross"--doing nothing at all, but
just accepting the situation and offering it to God.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: and
upon us, weak and sinful, be mercy and grace at all times.--Liturgy
of the Syrian Jacobites.



Bosanquet, Mildred
Bosanquet, Theodora
Chapman, Dom John
Curtis, Rev. Geoffrey
De Robeck, Nesta
Heath, Mrs. Meyrick
Herbert, J. A.
Holdsworth, Mrs.
Hutchinson, Horace
Lewis, C. S.
Milton, Mrs. Ernest
Noel, Rev. Conrad
Paul, Nancy
Reindorp, Rev. G. D.
Rose, Laura
Smith, Clara
Smith, Margaret
Spens, Maisie
Stuart Moore, Hubert
Watkin, E. I.
W.Y., A Student
young Mother, A.



"Anaesthetic Revelation"
Angela of Foligno
Augustine, St.

Baker, Augustine
Barker, E. R.
Barth, Karl
Benson, Mgr. R. H.
Bernard, St.

Catherine of Siena, St.
Catholicism (Roman)
Chapman, Dom John; Spiritual Letters
Christ, prayer to; revelation of God in; Christocentric religion
Church, The
Communion of Saints
Community Life

De Caussade, Pere, S.J.


Francis de Sales, St.

Gore, Bishop
Grou, J. N.
Guyon, Mme.



Mortal Sins

Newman, Cardinal
Night of the Senses

Pius X
Pleshey Retreat House
Poor, work with the

Religious Thought Society
Rolle of Hampole, (Richard) s.j.
Rules of Life

Scola Cordis
Sorella Maria

Teresa, St.

Unity (of Christians)

Von Hugel Baron F.; Letters to a Niece,

Way of the Cross

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