Saturday, June 14, 2008

a cairn over a dead hero

Joseph Conrad to John Galsworthy

Pent Farm
Friday [ab. 20th July 1900]

Dearest Jack,
We are off in an hour--at last, and shall be back on the 16 or 17 Aug. to give their holidays to various children.

I've written to Blackwood mainly for the purpose of insinuating amongst other matters that a quick decision as to your story would be welcome. He has your address, but hurry of any sort is not in the tradition of the "House."

Meldrum professes great admiration for the M. of D.* It is evident to me he has been struck plumb-centre, and I am glad to find him discriminative. This does not settle the question of publication, but his opinion has a certain weight with Mr. B'wood.

The end of L. J.** has been pulled off with a steady drag of 21 hours. I sent my wife and child out of the house (to London) and sat down at 9 a. m. with a desperate resolve to be done with it. Now and then I took a walk round the house, out at one door in at the other. Ten-minute meals. A great hush. Cigarette ends growing into a mound similar to a cairn over a dead hero. Moon rose over the barn, looked in at the window and climbed out of sight. Dawn broke, brightened. I put the lamp out and went on, with the morning breeze blowing the sheets of MS. all over the room. Sun rose. I wrote the last word and went into the dining-room. Six o'clock I shared a piece of cold chicken with Escamillo*** (who was very miserable and in want of sympathy, having missed the child dreadfully all day). Felt very well, only sleepy: had a bath at seven and at 1:30 was on my way to London.

Same day we journeyed to Slough and saw the children. They are improved, very much liked, very happy. That's a success. From there we rushed straight on to the poor Hopes, where we slept two nights. Yesterday morning check from B'wood arrived and to-day we are off to join the disconsolate and much enduring Hueffer. Address: 4 rue Anglaise, Bruges.

I am still well. Jessie too. Notwithstanding the heat. Borys in great form but exceedingly naughty except when actually travelling, when he is simply angelic.

That is all that will go on this piece of paper.
Our love.

*John Galsworthy's A Man of Devon. [Published by Blackwood in 1901 using Galsworthy's pseudonym John Sinjohn]
**Lord Jim. The writing of the novel had been finished on the 16th.
***His dog.

-from Joseph Conrad: Life and Letters edited by G. Jean-Aubry (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page, 1927) p. 295-96.

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