21. H. F. Scott-Stokes to Harrod, [2.4.1923?]

with Robin Snow



2 April, or so

192? ( must be 1923 because of ref. to Penelope's birth CSS)

Salve tibi, our latter-day Lucian. `S'abstenir, sourire, prêcher la tolérance, l'humanité, la bienfaisance sans prétention, la gaïeté. Le mal, c'est l'hypocrisie, le fanatisme, la superstition' - it is exact. Or would you say rather that hypocrisy is the only hope for `tout esprit cultivé'? You see, I have been reading Renan on Marcus Aurelius, and your Marcus sends you greeting and a frank confession of his failures, lacking `à sa naissance le baiser d'une fée ... l'art de céder à la nature, la gaïeté'. `La vie humaine est finie quand on a trop bien réussi à prouver à l'homme que tout est vanité'.

A great book; but, please, I am not quite so bad as that, and protest again that I think often of other things besides the human tragedy. At Glastonbury I am known principally for a buffoon - maintains in public debate that science is no better than a harmless joke; lectures professedly [profoundly? CSS] on modern politics, in such a way that granfer Morland suspects a joke, pa Morland sums it up as impertinence, and the public at large as ruthless satire - truly, the heart remains serious (& should) but the clothes are worn lightly enough.

Do I find the stains of Cambridge upon your page? I too have followed G.E.Moore with much approval, as far as he goes - I wish he went further. Agree that the delighted company of the truly delightful and the admiring contemplation of the truly admirable are indeed the best for man, & by no means repudiate your emotion, as you feared. But he's like all these academic economists - much about production but little about the distribution (how is, & should be) - surely two main cruces? But he provides the beginnings - not worked out - of a theory in defence of the delightful virtues and in condemnation of the ugly ones. I've always known that prudence and thrift & all that were nothing but necessary evils, but couldn't see how to put them in their places; don't you think that one might say that the others - kindness and jollity and humanity - are to be more highly praised on the ground that they evidently make people more delightful, quite apart from their extrinsic consequences which are often and evidently very little compared with those others?

But I forget. Eilythnia presided at a second daughter's coming ten days go (SIC CSS), & Elizabeth & Penelope go splendidly. Here I am playing truant for a day or two, to return tomorrow to my homely joys & not unpleasant tasks. I work hard & not without success at sums (which any fool with a tidy head & hand could do) & at finger-tip work which is much more amusing & delicate - persuading the foolish & the stupid & the stuffy to change their ways without unpleasantness; really, I could not be better employed, and grow fully fond of it. But the snub-nosed relations' sons may yet come bounding in - if they do, I shall take the road again with my wife and hostages, & somewhere the kind world will find a place for us.

Be well. Write more



  1. 1. British Library, Harrod Collection, Folder Add. 71613, fols. 17-18 (transcribed by Charity Scott Stokes)

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