Tuesday, June 10, 2008

swear words issue

Joseph Conrad to H. G. Wells

Friday [end of Nov.] '98.
Pent Farm

My Dear Wells,
I did not nourish robust hopes of seeing you on Sat., the weather was infamous. I have been laid up also, with a kind of gout entertainment which lasted 3 days and of course I can only hobble now it is over. As to struggling over darkling hills, I thought I made it plain enough there are wheels--not of chance,* but of certitude. Of course our carcasses, for the sake of their inhabitants, require careful handling, but at all events I am telling you that I shall be (on wheels) at Sandling Junction on Sat. at 12:30 to remove Pugh.** Thereafter same wheels could take you back at five or six. Bringing P. to lunch is another matter. As I tell you, one of my propellers is damaged and done up in flannel--an obscene sight--not to speak of the pain and impiety, for swear words issue from my lips at every step I take. I don't think I really could undertake a journey to Sandgate either to-morrow or on Sunday. I go to the station because P. is a stranger and may starve or otherwise perish in the fields like any other beast unless he is taken care of. But I shall not leave the fly, and I intend to hoot like a sick Martian outside the station.*** He is sure to be interested by such a remarkable noise and thus he shall find me.

Re Henley. There is a furnished house in Hythe standing isolated at the Sandgate end of Hythe High Street. A red brick thing, rather large. It would do at a pinch--perhaps.

If you have a copy of the Invisible Man send to me. I lent mine to a god-fearing person who stole it. Thus wags the world. I ain't cadging for a gift--it's a loan I want and I will try my best not to steal.

Really, why shouldn't you both come? I take all the transport arrangements upon myself on this end. They won't fail. At your end you have omnibuses, if you are not too high-toned to use them. And you may be home at six--and that is virtuous enough. Well, well, I don't want to be a nuisance, I throw out a suggestion like the angler his hook--the rest is with fate--and the gullibility of the fish. Let me also mention that with Mrs. Wells to take care of you you can't come to any harm. On the other hand, Mrs. Wells with your support can affront for a few hours our shabby, wretched, rural bohemianism with a fair chance of surviving the adventure. And we will leave it at that.

*Allusion to H. G. Wells's Wheels of Chance.
**Edwin Pugh, author of Tony Drum-a Cockney Boy (Heinemann, 1898).
***Allusion to H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, which had just been published in book form.

-from Joseph Conrad: Life and Letters edited by G. Jean-Aubry (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page, 1927) p. 256-57.

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