Went straight to the infirmary. There was not much to do. Wrote, straightened beds, etc. The Romanian king had breakfast with us. Before 3 set off for a walk with father. It was twelve or thirteen degrees below freezing. We went round the garden. After tea Alexei watched a cinematograph film. T and I had our hair washed and curled. Nothing happened. Father wrote in his album. We went to bed at 11 as usual.
All over the vast Russian plain, in stuffy freight vans and comfortable apartments, in the severe northern capital and the endless southern steppes, people have been saying the same thing: “A storm is on its way”. But despite this, they have not let down the ship’s anchor or lowered the sails. And the motley people of Russia, scattered throughout the cities and countryside, have felt no desire to stop the wind, or to fight the storm. Their hearts have been crushed by the suffocating atmosphere of recent years; their reason clouded by the poisonous vapours of blood.
Cross out every exclamation mark. To use an exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.
Pleasures Of A Seaside School
I’m going to be painting decorations in Rome for two or three weeks with Diagilhev. Thinks could certainly be better as orders are few in these uncertain times. We haven’t heard anything out of Russia for a long time.
We are all going to Crimea (and we all do so in vain). As soon as we get there, I will immediately sit down to work.
Here I was in New York, city of prose and fantasy, of capitalist automatism, its streets a triumph of cubism, its moral philosophy that of the dollar. New York impressed me tremendously because, more than any other city in the world, it is the fullest expression of our modern age.
Is it not possible in any way to hold in cheek the vile women who at present prey upon and poison our soldiers in London ? A friend of mine who is a Special Constable in harlot-haunted district has described to me how these harpies carry off the lonely soldiers to their rooms, make them drunk often with the vile liquor which they keep there, and finally inoculate them, as likely as not, with one or other of those diseases which, thanks to the agitation, of well-meaning fools, have had free trade granted to them amongst us. Our present policy is to shut the museums — the most pitiful economy ever effected by a great nation — but to keep open the brothels. The lad from over the seas who has for the first and perhaps for the last time in his life a few clear days in the great centre of his race, cannot carry away any recollections of its treasures of art and antiquity, but is forced into contact with what is least reputable in our metropolitan life. All honour to the Union Jack Club, the Y.M.C.A., and all the other associations which try to mitigate this state of affairs, but it is a case for general legislation and not for sporadic individual effort. It will be a poor return for what our Colonies have done for us if we return their splendid lads the worse in body and in Soul.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.
Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.