58. H. F. Scott-Stokes to Harrod, 10.x.57

Bridgwater Hospital

Somerset.

(till Sunday, only)

10.x.57

10 p.m.

.... .... .... a better man than I am (that goes without saying), .... .... .... - but "do not despise experience as the wisdom of unlettered men" - I don't think you do; but you do not humble yourself to attach nearly enough importance to what you haven't got, & can't have!

These confused pseudo-Sophoclean invocations are the result of keeping my light on for half-an-hour solely to listen to you & Paish.

My dear fellow, you horrify me - by your wrong-headed lucidity, what Dr. Johnson would have called "your wicked eloquence"! Do you remember Disraeli's summing up of Home Rule - "A boundless horizon of jobs"?

That, precisely, tho' using `jobs' in its simplest sense of "gainful employment", is the cause of inflation - That is nothing else; & it has gone on, uninterruptedly, since 1939. And the only way to make men "moderate their desires" for more money for less work is to shake their simple faith that it just is one of the things which we have learned to manage better than our ignorant forefathers, & that it will go on indefinitely till the cows come home. Men of your age & mine know - remembering the `20's and `30's, that that is not necessarily so, & is indeed highly unlikely. Men who started work in the last 18 years don't know it & don't believe it & they've got to be made to. If they don't - if we all don't - we shall learn again the hard way by another old-fashioned slump of the first magnitude - That is what was visibly round the corner, until "yesterday". Perhaps it still is? I am as sure as I am of anything that, left to itself, that was what inflation was bound to bring - "boom & bust", as it was in the beginning - There was too big a boom.

Do not shed tears over the smallish man's limited overdraft &c - I am, now, a borrower! - about comparable amounts, for the County Council & my firm. Believe me -& thank Heaven fasting for the strong common-sense of Bankers - as `my firm' I could, & can, & always shall find any money I want for capital development or for financing my failing stock & Debtors - "My dear fellow", says the Bank, almost in so many words, "We have to do lip-service. But we know you'll use advances to make money & contribute to the 'Revenue. Let us know what you want, when you want it". That was & is & will be the inner workings. But go to them as the County Council - "Accommodation - ? Devil a 1d - You gentlemen are not revenue-earning. You are just spenders. We are not interested".

How right, & how wise - & a bloody good job too! I have been racking my brains, as Chairman of a C.C. Estimates Cttee., these 2 or 3 years, to formulate any formula by which I can say or suppose that I am .... the right amount of capital expenditure? There is no formula. There is nothing to guide me. And I believe the same is true of nationalized industry, or of any other "non-profit-making" concern.

"Forgive these wild & ....airs" of one who came into Hospital, 10 days ago, very near the end of his tether. the `classic' prostate trouble, which meant in effect that I was being poisoned by stagnant piss, all the time - because it didn't void thoroughly - & was going down hill, fast. I am going out of Hospital tomorrow, not only "patched up" but with an "expectation of life" (& vigour) such as I have not known since we were class-mates - say 30 years? It is a staggering adjustment; & with that & the Russian "break-through" I feel as if I understood the enlargement of spirit of the men of the Renaissance, for the first time in my life.

My wife went joyfully off, today, to take our `baby' Charity to Somerville, whither she went up (with a State Scholarship, honoris causa) today. She is a charming child, as wise as she is clever, & as charming as either. Send for her & give her some tea - But not too much tea - It would spoil her. Reading `English', but actually v.good at Modern Languages

Do we meet at the New Coll. dinner at the Savage on Dec 10? Honour the Soviets - I do hope so. It would make my day.

HFS

  1. 1. British Library, Harrod Collection, Folder Add. 72732, fol. 112-114 (transcribed by Charity Scott Stokes)


Welcome page

top of page

Return to index of this section

Go to previous page

Go to next page