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Elisina Grant Richards to Mildred Barnes Bliss, January 30, 1911


January 30, 1911Monday.

Dear Mildred

For one brief moment it flashed upon me that you might actually be in Paris yourself. I hoped it intensely, and felt a disappointment that I won’t qualify when I had to substitute the hazy image of a courteous Argentine acquaintance.See letter of December 30, 1910: "Unexpectedly I have an opportunity to send a small greeting to my Godson by the courtesy of an Argentine acquaintance." Please accept William’s gurgle of gratitude. He looked very thoughtfully at the bib and said, “A-ggrr!” which you can very well interpret. He is going into short petticoats in a few weeks because he has grown out of his long clothes—in girth, of course. He is remarkably clever, and his head has also grown too big for his hat. His shoes still fit him; and I won’t give him away by telling you that they were made of expansible stuff.

All this is nonsense. The real thing I want to come to at once is to tell you and your Robert that your New Year’s Day letterSee letter of January 1, 1911. has arrived and has flooded all my outlook with hope and security. A week ago I received from England—from Mr. Wainwright—the cutting I enclose now to you.This newspaper clipping was not preserved. According to the letter of April 22, 1911, it was a list of publications of the Grant Richards publishing company. I had no idea I owed it to you—as I feel practically certain I do, almost entirely;—but my first thought outside of happy surprise—was that I should send it to you. I have associated you with myself in all my wavering anxieties since that amazing letter of yours which came late in October.See letter of September 17, 1910. It is a very good thing that Marconigrams of a sensible sturdy sort are for the present the only transmittable ones, or I fear you would have been called up to listen to my reflections more than once.

I have reviewed to you, my silent companion, all the intricate threads that have tangled round this question and threatened to strangle something that had life in it. Through you I hope it has been freed; and I can’t tell you how reverently I received the message from your hand. I hope you understand. If you and Robert had thought otherwise I should have acquiesced entirely, and not doubted or repined even in our silent intercourse. As it is, it seems to me that you have added the sanction of your own act to my wise plans, and they are irrevocably wise henceforth. God bless you, dear Mildred; I pray He may, and I feel He must, when I, who owe you so much ask Him to.

I had to go to London for four days as I wanted to see a couple of Editors. I was very kindly received and the very few friends who knew of my visit were more than kind. One even gave a luncheon party in my honour; and being blessed with a great sense of pride in what I have done rather bolstered by the great happiness that it has brought me,—I enjoyed it. The ideal society is a society of people who want to see one; and it seems as if all the thunderclaps of Mother GrundyA reference to the myth of Mother Grundy, an old woman who came from the mountain “Madre Grande” and who adhered to traditional, conservative ways. were going to ensure me this felicity for the future.

I have a dear sister in London to whom my visit brought some happiness, and who, being given by Grant the option of seeing Royall or seeing her little nephews,Gerard Franklin Richards, Charles (“Carlos”) Geoffrey Richards (1902–1959), and Geoffrey Herbert Richards (1906–1983). but not of seeing both (forgive an Irishism)—said that she liked and respected Royall too much to put upon him the affront of coming to Paris and avoiding him; and so has given up for the time the right to see the children, who are quite devoted to her, and of whom she is very very fond. 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.See letter of November 1, 1910, for Grant Richards's business difficulties. I think that with less anxiety he will be kinder.

You have my absolute assurance that I will respect your incognito and keep the secret most loyally.

We have had a very cold winter and everybody except William has been suffering from influenza. But we are all recovered now, and a stove is installed in the passage that runs along all the rooms of the flat, and which used to be arctic in temperature. The cold cows me. I understand how the poor creatures who have no food and no fire give up the pleasure of washing as well. If you have an opportunity do read H. G. Well’s book “The New Machiavelli.”Herbert George Wells, The New Machiavelli (New York: Duffield and Company, 1910). I have had a copy sent me as a New Year’s present, and I find myself entirely in accordance with the part I have read, which is 2/3 of it. Wells has worked hard and steadily towards his goal, and I honour him very much for it.

I shall register this letter as I have an incomplete belief in the honesty of Argentinean officials, bred, I am sorry to say, by my acquaintance with the family of an Argentinean deceased but still active. I believe only Italians can be dishonester on occasion; and I daresay you have had an opportunity of finding out.

Dear Mildred, give our love—Royall’s, William’s and mine to Robert,—and let me tell you that I am always your loyal and grateful friend, and yours

Very affectionately

Elisina Grant Richards