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Elisina Grant Richards to Mildred Barnes Bliss, August 8, 1911

Vienna.

August 8th 1911Tuesday.

Dear Mildred,

Time has gone dreadfully fast and I am in great fear that you may have been expecting to hear from me, and thought hard things of me for not writing. In the first place I had to think matters over very carefully before I acted on your words:See letter of April 22, 1911. to use the money in the best way for the children’sGioia Richards Owtram, Gerard Franklin Richards, Charles (“Carlos”) Geoffrey Richards (1902–1959), and Geoffrey Herbert Richards (1906–1983). good. After much consideration and some consultations with Wainwright, it seemed very advisable to arrange for the money to be where it can be transferred to a practical sphere of action without great delay. Hence my cable gram. I hope it didn’t appear to you like a fishy device for getting hold of your property! I’ll tell you quite plainly, that beside benefitting Grant at a crucial moment and so indirectly benefiting the children, I want if possible to help it to work for my advantage in the only way in which my unsatisfied heart still longs: to break down this barrier of silence which Grant has placed between me and the children with the hope of reducing me to discretion.

I assure you dear Mildred that I am so entirely sure of myself and so truly safe from the assaults, sentimental and moral, that Grant counts upon, that his hopes and machinations seem childish to me.For example, see letter of January 30, 1911, in which Elisina Grant Richards relates to Mildred Barnes Bliss that Grant Richards gave her sister, Linetta Richardson, "the option of seeing Royall or seeing her little nephews, but not of seeing both." But deep down in my heart I have imbedded the conviction that except for the accidental countenance given him by the law of the realm (unjustly and unwisely) he is wrong in supposing that he may send me off from the children.Gioia Richards Owtram, Gerard Franklin Richards, Charles (“Carlos”) Geoffrey Richards (1902–1959), and Geoffrey Herbert Richards (1906–1983). I brought them into the world and they are mine as well as his. I have broken the chains that bound me to him, and they seem as rather like cobwebs than chains in my eyes. But as for the children, if Grant divorced me, I should get an order from the court to have them with me for two months in the year. So he is catching me now between the hammer and the anvil, not dealing fairly with me, neither spurning me nor accepting me; he is, in fact only able to keep me from seeing the children because I do not wish to upset them and grieve them unnecessarily by appearing spasmodically before them. Now all this bitterness in course of time will decline. I am sure that the past has been the worst time for him, and that business anxiety and the temporary position of being not entirely master in his own business has embittered and stung him to reprisals.See also letter of January 30, 1911, in which Elisina Grant Richards writes, "I feel quite sure this period of reprisals is nearly over. Grant may be pardoned for being bitter, because so much has risen to try to overwhelm him in the last year. I think that with less anxiety he will be kinder." On Grant Richards's business troubles, see letters of August 20, 1910; November 1, 1910; and March 16, 1911. At the end of this year the position of the business will be discussed again probably; and in the meantime if on his side, as distinct from the creditors’ side, capital is forthcoming, he will probably be in a sounder and more hopeful position personally, and if it is so, he will I think be more just to me.

I did not wire “invest now”See letter of April 22, 1911: "If it would so materially aid the business to get on its feet that you feel further delay to be detrimental, just cable 'Milrob Baires invest now.'" because before you invest I want to know the exact position in many respects which it would have been impossible to inquire into otherwise than in my position of your vicarious representative. Also, now that my hand can withhold it or give it assistance prompt action is possible if it should be necessary. I hope you see how greatly you are helping me by allowing me to stand in your place. Grant's policy has been this: as I have left him from my own choice, I have no more right to know if the childrenGioia Richards Owtram, Gerard Franklin Richards, Charles (“Carlos”) Geoffrey Richards (1902–1959), and Geoffrey Herbert Richards (1906–1983) are dead or alive, safe or in danger, cared for or neglected.In his letter to Mildred Barnes Bliss of April 12, 1910, Royall Tyler relates that Grant Richards swore that he would "never let her see the children as long as she refused to come back to him." In the letter of June 10, 1910, Royall reports that Richards has consented to let Elisina Grant Richards spend four or five weeks with her children at her cottage in Cornwall. It was a promise that he never kept: see letter of August 20, 1910. He has built up this cage on a perversion of the truth: and with God’s help I’ll break through it.

I am so afraid that not knowing me personally, you may read defiance into my statements. Believe me there is none. I know I have hurt Grant dreadfully, and the fact that I was hurt and bruised for years almost past bearing doesn’t undo that fact. He is not now taking an idle revenge, he is merely working his way steadily according to his lights towards the hour of my submission. I know therefore from which side to expect the attack. It will come always through the children.Gioia Richards Owtram, Gerard Franklin Richards, Charles (“Carlos”) Geoffrey Richards (1902–1959), and Geoffrey Herbert Richards (1906–1983) My abhorrence, for their sake, of anything like a scene or an upset, stops my taking the train and going down to see them. My constant fear is for their welfare and moral safety. If Grant were to fail in business, I shouldn’t be able to care for them or get them educated. These are the ghosts that haunt my evil hours. A woman with two hundred a year of her own is a free agent; and if I had had so much I should have been able to make better terms. It may seem to you absurd, but it is so. Having nothing to give, I can’t very well propose exchanges! I once had much less than that,—but even that was lost in the smash five years ago.In 1902, Grant Richards Ltd. moved into larger London offices at 48 Leicester Square which led, in April 1905, to bankruptcy. With Elisina Grant Richardss financial support, Grant Richards reorganized the firm, adding to his imprint the initial of his wife's first name (trading as E. Grant Richards), and moving later that year to smaller offices at 7 Carlton Street. In 1908, the firm reverted to Grant Richards’s name and moved to 8 St Martin's Street. William S. Brockman, "Richards, (Franklin Thomas) Grant (1872–1948),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. So you see Grant knows I am very vulnerable, and in a sense very helpless;—and my loss is his advantage.

I am telling you all this at length so that you may see for yourself what moral assistance you have given me, besides the material help you are willing to give. I shall see Wainwright in Paris I hope early in September, and find out everything I want to know about the business. He has the best proof that the inquiry isn’t being made on false pretences, since he holds the money himself.See letter of April 22, 1911: "The £1000 is in London ready to be turned over to Grant Richards Ltd. now or later." I feel so glad dear Mildred and so proud that you have been willing to trust me sufficiently to do this for me. I heard a week ago from Wainwright that your money had been paid over to him; and since then I go about the streets of Vienna and think that there probably isn’t another woman in this town for whom any friend has disinterestedly done so much.

When Grant failed five years ago, I wouldn’t claim my property which was in his business, because I didn’t want to make safe where his creditors lost, or to discredit him further by bringing down the dividends available by even a penny on the pound. My aunt and one or two more people told me I ought to have grabbed at my own. But I felt strongly about it, and would act again in the same way. Only since two years ago I have had a doubt: would I have acted in the same way if I had been able to foresee all? Now even this doubt is out of my head. The sum I lost was £2000. If I had it now I would use it in the way your money shall be used, and therefore you have justified me in my own eyes for acting according to my true instinct then.

Yes. I am sure that is the secret of life: to be true to yourself. Then one stands foursquare to all the woes and buffets of adversity, and by the help of God may hope to come through intact and live to be of some use to those whom one loves.

When are you coming to Europe? You said October.See letter of September 25, 1910. I am looking forward so much to our meeting. We shall have such good talks. I hope your winter hasn’t seemed too long. You seemed to fear it in your letter. We are working very hard here in Vienna,The Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv (Archives of the City and Province of Vienna). See letter of March 5, 1911. and shall be here till the end of August or early September. Please give us good warning of your coming because I must be in Paris when you come, and you must be in Paris too. I have a most particular reason for wishing it, but I cannot tell you until I see you.The meaning of this reference is unknown. In the letter of November 8, 1911, Elisina Tyler refers to this again and writes: “My particular reason may be a heaven-sent idea.”

Royall wrote to you a week or a fortnight ago.See letter of June 26, 1911. William is with JulieJulie Mendiboure, William Royall Tyler’s nanny. at Biarritz and I hope is getting fatter every day. I hope you will write and tell me that I have interpreted your words in the right way according to your wishes.

My kindest messages to Robert and Royall’s. We both send you our best love. And I add my deepest and warmest thanks. I can never say enough.

Yours always

Elisina.

 
Associated Places: Vienna [Wien] (Austria)

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