My Education by Anthony M. Ludovivi

Source': Part 1:, Part 2:, Part 3:

Part I

Editor's Note:

What follows are selections from Anthony M. Ludovici, Confessions of an Anti-Feminist: The Autobiography of Anthony M. Ludovici, ed. John V. Day, ch. 3, “My Education, I (1882–1910).” The section headings are my creations. Unless otherwise indicated, all notes are by Ludovici. John V. Day’s notes are marked JVD, and additional notes are marked GJ. Ludovici’s “On Wuthering Heights'” is also excerpted from this chapter. The full book remains unpublished.

In the conventional sense of the term, I received no education. Apart from the training my mother gave me in the language and literature of France, my schooldays were unprofitably frittered away in a local private school where the teaching bore no relation to any reputable means of paying one’s way as an adult. It was run and owned by an amiable, good-looking and relatively illiterate man, G. F. Carr Vernon, whose highest scholastic attainments entitled him to state on his circu­lars and on the large board adorning the entrance to his school that he was an Associate of the College of Preceptors and a Fellow of the Edu­cational Institute of Scotland. His greatest claim to distinction was his excellent voice, which he used to great effect when reciting the prayers with which the day’s work started.

Fortunately, he employed six assistants, two of whom, owing to their superior erudition, rather redeemed his deficiencies, and were consequently much respected in the school. Incidentally, too, they happened to exert a powerful influence over me and my destiny. They were, first of all, a very fascinating, handsome but unsuccessful aspirant to the medical profession, S. H. Wright, 1 who, owing to drink, had failed three times to obtain his medical degrees, and who, as he informed me later, had had delirium tremens when still under thirty years of age. Apparently, however, shortly before joining Mr. Vernon, he had formed an attachment to a young lady and completely mended his ways, and, except for a rather ugly premature stoop and a slight tremor in both of his hands, nothing about him betrayed his unhappy past. Passionately interested in literature, and with a useful knowledge of Greek and Latin, he was also very much preoccupied with religious problems—as may be gathered from his novel, Chasma 2 — and he was well-read in natural science and philosophy. He was in any case an excellent teacher, possessed the rare gift of being able to impart knowl­edge, and knew how to stimulate interest in every subject he taught. It did not take me long to grow very fond of him, and he did much to confirm my literary tastes and my deep interest in biology and natural history. Nevertheless, strange as it may seem, even when I was still in my early teens his influence over me was never strong enough to over­come the instinctive resistance with which I confronted his efforts to inculcate a belief in Christianity upon me. Indeed, it was only when he began his determined assaults on my congenital unbelief that I recog­nized how superficial and contingent on merely social claims and curi­osity had been the brief spell of religiosity which, together with my sister Lily, I had undergone through the friendly agency of Miss Mary Walker.

The other assistant master whose influence on my life was also decisive was a delightful, erudite, and distinguished old German, Dr. Heine, whose military bearing, unmistakable Schmisse', 3 and charming manners were all redolent of “Alt Heidelberg” and stamped him at once as a person of breeding and education. Well-known in army circles as a good German coach, he had a lucrative clientele among young officers wishing to acquire the coveted title of Interpreter, which carried with it certain added emoluments. Every inch a gentleman himself, he had little understanding for the crude and vulgar jokes which many of the words in the German language suggest to English boys, and in digni­fied silence would wait for the gusts of laughter to die down before he attempted, with a pained expression, to continue the lesson.

He loved his national heroes — Goethe, Schiller, Heine, Kant, Less­ing, etc. — and could always quote passages from them to illustrate a point of grammar or syntax. His enthusiasm was infectious, and my progress in German was to no small extent attributable to his compel­ling charm and discriminating taste.

The reverent admiration I had always felt for my deceased German grandfather had in any case predisposed me in favor of everything German, and in view of Dr. Heine’s attractive and aristocratic bearing it is not surprising that I should have been stimulated to make rapid strides in his native language and literature. Nor is it without significance that this happened despite the fact that my mother, who had suf­fered greatly during the siege of Paris in 1870–71, had never concealed from Lily and me her loathing of the Germans. My complete emanci­pation from this point of view is but a further tribute to the powerful influence Dr. Heine must have exercised over me.

The various authors which these two men, Wright and Heine, prompted me to read introduced me to wholly new and hitherto undreamt - of worlds, and I began to follow paths which, though they led me away from my early home atmosphere, yet succeeded in confirming the strong bias in favor of literature which my mother had implanted in me. Thus, I neglected ever more and more my gifts for the graphic arts, and even when, as a youth of nineteen, necessity compelled me to turn these untrained gifts to some profit by applying them to commer­cial engraving, my principal preoccupation continued to be literature.

Although still ignorant of Dickens, of all Shakespeare’s works except those which school had spoiled for me (Henry V and Henry VI), and of Chaucer, Rabelais, Montaigne, Bunyan, Milton, and the more famous of the later English poets, I was rapidly becoming acquainted with the works of all the outstanding English and German authors recommended to me by my two favorite masters. Among these, the half-dozen which did most towards settling my literary taste and fram­ing my outlook on life at that time were Fielding, Andrew Lang, Emily Brontë, Schopenhauer, Schiller (especially his admirable essays), and Herbert Spencer. The influence of Emily Brontë, Schopenhauer, and Schiller proved permanent.

I was so much uplifted by Fielding’s désinvolture 4 and freedom from cant and sentimentality that my dread of reaching the end of his works too soon made me curb my greed and limit my reading of them to a certain number of pages a day. I followed the same principle years later when, on a wooded height between Étaples and Paris Plage, I read what I still think is Kipling’s greatest book, Captains Courageous.

Schopenhauer, Schiller, and Goethe

From about my seventeenth year, my reading of science, especially biology, zoology, and astronomy, became regular and assiduous. I read every book by Darwin, Haeckel, Huxley, Romanes, Spencer, and Proctor that I could lay my hands on. With great avidity, I also read Huxley’s famous controversy with Wace, following the arguments on each side with breathless interest and becoming a convinced agnostic in the process. But the two authors that probably exerted the greatest influence on me in my early twenties were Schopenhauer and Schiller. The former enlightened me enormously on psychology, and I still regard him as the greatest European psychologist who appeared between Montaigne and Freud. Indeed, there is much in his work that anticipates Freud’s discoveries, a fact to which I have more than once called attention, and Nietzsche owed him many a profound observation, the source of which, however, is rarely acknowledged.

I can never forget the surprise and excitement with which I started to read the Parerga und Paralipomena. 5 I can have hardly been more than nineteen at the time, and on my way home from Fleet Street one day, happening to pass through old Holiwell Street, Strand, a detour I constantly made so as to have a look at the bookshops there, I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of this book. Impatiently, I started reading, and for days thereafter could not put the book down. Only those who know this brilliant series of essays can appreciate what they must have meant to me at this time. For no-one can read them and remain the same person. Nor does it now seem possible that such a work can have been refused by three leading publishers in succession before A. W. Haym of Berlin at last undertook its publication, though without paying the author anything for it. Schopenhauer was then sixty-two years of age, and had already suffered the mortification of seeing the greater part of the first edition of his masterpiece, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, 6 turned into waste paper.

Every page of the Parerga und Paralipomena is packed with ideas and suggestions that have preserved their interest and sometimes their novelty to this day. It is in itself an education, and I felt as Nietzsche declares he did when he first started reading Schopenhauer. “I understood him,” he says, “as if he had written for me alone.” 7

Schopenhauer’s style is not difficult, and I had, in any case, prepared myself as a reader of German by sedulously working my way through most of the more or less second-rate fiction of France and England in their German translations issued by the Engelhorn Bibliothek—such works as Georges Ohnet’s Les dames de croix-mort8 and Charles Reade’s ''It’s Never Too Late to Mend' — for I found a German translation of a French or English work easier to follow than a book written originally in German. I used to take these translations out with me on my journeys through London and would often stop at a bookstall and pick up a dictionary to find the meaning of a word or expression I did not understand.

My mother, who was quick to notice the change Schopenhauer had wrought in me, signified her disapproval of many of my views, and particularly of their German source, by constantly referring to my philosophic hero with playful scorn, and with a hint at his gloomy pessimism, as “Chapeau Noir.” 9 But I was not to be moved by banter, even from her, for Schopenhauer was in many respects a finishing school for me. When I agreed with him it was not necessarily because he said things I had long felt to be true, but for which I had so far failed to find the right expression, but because the moment I read them, and looked again on the world, I at once perceived their truth, unfamiliar though they had been a moment previously.

When, in addition, I began to read such profoundly stimulating essays as those by Schiller, for instance—especially the brilliant and little - known Über naive und sentimentale Dichtung 10 (1796), in which, for the first time in the history of European literary criticism, the exaltation of Nature and children is traced to a moral and puritanical source—I obtained an insight into the genesis of shallow and unreflecting popular prejudices which was to serve me in great stead in later years. For this essay of Schiller’s might be regarded as a criticism written in anticipation of Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality,” written ten years later.

The ground I covered thereafter, especially by my reading of science, prepared me with surprising thoroughness for the major enlightenment which was awaiting me in my twenty-fifth year. Mean­while, I turned to Goethe. I disliked his Werther wholeheartedly and found it nauseating, but I greatly enjoyed and admired his Faust, his autobiography, Aus meinem Leben, and Die Wahlverwandtschaften. 11 In the last-named book, I sympathized with his hostility to ephemeral unions between the sexes and the way he made his hero and heroine prefer to die in a hunger strike against their fate, rather than yield to the temptation of breaking up a happy marriage. It is a great pity that he does not attempt to describe narrowly the physical type of his charac­ters, for this omission might lead many readers to infer that, for marital harmony, all that is needed is an affinity of souls. But I do not believe that this was his intention, especially as in the early part of the story he clearly states that the affinity he has in mind finds its equiva­lent in chemistry. On the other hand, a passage in one of his letters to Char­lotte von Stein certainly indicates that he held the soul alone as impor­tant, for he says: “Dauer der Liebe ist immer ein Beweis der seelischen Aehnlickeit.” 12 On the score of the present well-established inseparabil­ity of psyche and soma, this is tantamount to admitting that the type and morphology of lovers must be alike if their love is to endure. But, unfortunately, Goethe nowhere says this. His story contains no detailed morphological description of his principal characters, and the matter is thus left rather vague. The only person in the novel whose physical features are narrowly defined is a young architect who, however, plays no decisive role in the plot.

Nevertheless, one important doctrine is plainly enunciated in the story—that a permanent sexual anchorage can be secured by every man and woman if only they mate with their affinity.

Meanwhile, with the object of improving my English, which had been so sadly neglected both at home and at school, I thought it would be a good plan to try by means of my own unaided researches to com­pile a glossary and explanatory notes for an unannotated edition of Spenser’s Faerie Queene which I happened to possess. This I pro­ceeded to do and found the work most rewarding, though undoubtedly tedious. Indeed, at the end of it, I could not help agreeing with those French critics who think the poem a grossly overrated work. I still fought shy of Chaucer, but read Malory, Shakespeare, Dryden, and most of the Restoration drama. Incidentally, in reading Malory I was struck by his extraordinarily frank picture of women in the days of chivalry, their sadism and their means of gratifying it. The picture left me won­dering how these sadistic impulses in the female can find expression now that the days of knight errantry are over—a question which I attempted to answer many years later in the antepenultimate chapter of my Choice of a Mate.13

I must have been about twenty-three years of age when, owing to some trouble with my eyes which I believed to be due to the close work I had long been doing as an engraver, I decided to give the work up and turn wholly to literature. I had little success with my early attempts, but hardly had I recovered from my disappointment when inquiries reached us from Paris about my readiness to fill an important secretarial post that had just fallen vacant.

Auguste Rodin

Apparently, Auguste Rodin had recently quarreled with his private secretary, Rilke, the German poet, and was looking for someone to take his place. A knowledge of English, German, and of course French was required, together with some familiarity with art and artistic questions. My name and qualifications were submitted to him and, without any preliminary interview, I was forthwith engaged.

Apart from the many interesting people I used to see, and whose conversation at table I was in a position to enjoy, the time I spent in 1906 at the Villa des Brillants in Meudon Val Fleury as Rodin’s secre­tary did not contribute much to my education. It certainly widened my knowledge of mankind, confirmed my tendency to realism, and fortified my congenital antipathy to any form of mysticism, because, as Saint-Beuve so correctly points out, the French race is “peu idéale et peu mystique de sa nature” 14; but otherwise I came away from the experi­ence only moderately enriched, and in my Personal Reminiscences of Auguste Rodin 15 have stated the utmost that can be said in its favor. Besides, as Rilke discovered before me, Rodin was neither an easy nor a too pleasant person to get on with. Uneducated, coarse, ill-mannered, and intimately associated in his home life with a woman, “Rose,” whom he ultimately married and who, as to intelligence and cultivation, was very much beneath him, his companionship was not always edifying. At all events, I was kept very busy, so that I had little time for private reading and, had it not been for my mother’s presence at the Hôtel de Mairie in the town close by, I should have had no congenial compan­ionship whatsoever.

Reading between the lines of Rilke’s own account of his life at Meudon, 16 I can only assume that his days as Rodin’s secretary ended very much as mine did—i.e., in a violent quarrel over a trifling misun­derstanding in which Rodin was insufferably rude, though I gathered from Bourdelle when I visited him in Paris a few years later that Rodin quarreled with most people in the end. Nevertheless, I readily admit that I was never too well-endowed to be anybody’s private servant, for, when my affection is not engaged, I am what is popularly regarded as “too selfish” for such a position.

Studies In Germany

My mother and I returned to London early in 1907, and I immedi­ately decided to employ my savings by spending a year in Germany to perfect myself in the language and to study some of the post-Kantian philosophers.

From the point of view of my education and future, this was certainly the most momentous decision of my life, for it was responsi­ble for determining the whole of my subsequent career. Before explaining how this came about, I must, however, relate one circum­stance connected with my departure from England which is too singular to be omitted here.

Among our friends at the time was a rather interesting and well-to-do widow named Mrs. Dufresne, whom I used sometimes to oblige by giving her the morphia injections that had been prescribed for her neuritis. Her doctor approved of my doing this, as it was not always convenient or possible to summon him when she was in most urgent need of relief. Needless to say, this lady cherished a friendly regard for me and when I paid her my farewell visit, after presenting me with a handsome fountain-pen, said she very much wanted to read my hand. I don’t believe she was an expert palmist, but I had much evidence of her powers as a clairvoyant.

She told me a good many things about my character which were more or less true, and then, as if suddenly struck by some conjunction of signs she had not previously noticed, she said: “D’you know, Tony, in Germany you are going to come under the influence of someone whose name I can’t quite make out, but which certainly begins with an N.”

At the time I paid little heed to this remark, for, although I firmly believed in the feasibility of character-reading from hands (because no physical feature can be insignificant and unrelated to temperament and mental traits), I doubted very much whether details about the future could be precisely foretold in this way, although I was ready to acknowledge that, to the extent to which character may determine one’s future, a forecast on broad lines was perhaps possible. But Mrs. Dufresne’s prophecy of an influence coming to me through someone whose name specifically stated as beginning with the letter N was a different matter, and I dismissed it as unworthy of notice.

Yet, if her choice of the letter N was not a mere coincidence, no prophecy could have been more accurate and more punctually fulfilled. For not only did a name beginning with N greatly influence me at that time, but the bearer of it also proved to be the principal cause of most of the subsequent events in my life, from my start in literature to my marriage and ultimate literary output.

Apart from taking a few letters of recommendation to friends of my family, I arrived in Cologne without having booked any accommoda­tion. I therefore put up at the first moderately cheap hotel that my Droschke-driver 17 stopped at, but I stayed there only one night, as my bedroom was infested with bugs, and I was hardly able to sleep at all. After moving into a cleaner and equally cheap hotel, I lost no time in getting an advertisement published in the Kölnische Zeitung, stating that I should like to hear of some family in the city who would be pre­pared to give me board and lodging. I received about forty replies and at once started the round of visits which ended in my ultimately finding comfortable quarters.

Strange to say, I made the fateful choice less on account of the appearance of the place and the appointments of the room I was offered than because of the extremely favorable impression the old landlady made upon me. It was evening, I was exhausted, and as I climbed the three storeys at 34 Am Duffesbach I prayed that this might be the end of my long quest. I was not left in doubt very long. Indeed, I had hardly exchanged a couple of words with Frau Nippel before I had made up my mind to become her lodger. She was a very beautiful and dignified old lady; her voice was most attractive, and she spoke good Hochdeutsch with a faint lisp which, together with the absence of wrin­kles on her face, gave her a charming air of youth and ingenuousness. I did not really need to inspect the room she offered me, and within twenty-four hours I settled in as one of her family.

In addition to the comfort and good fare she provided for a monthly charge which now seems risible, she and her daughters enjoyed the society of a wide circle of interesting friends chiefly drawn from the musical and scholastic members of the community, among whom Ferdinand Schmidt, a blind and very gifted musician, was the most distinguished. He and I did not take long to become fast friends, and he was my principal companion throughout my twelvemonth’s stay in Germany. I used to take him about with me on my walks, and he showed his gratitude for the healthy exercise I thus enabled him to enjoy by helping me on with my German and even initiating me into some of the mysteries of his art. He had a stepbrother, Otto Schmidt, who was an Oberlehrer 18 — a tall handsome man who, to my astonish­ment, although he had never been outside Germany, spoke English without any trace of a foreign accent, simply as the result of his study of English phonetics. He, too, very kindly gave me some expert tuition for which he refused to accept any payment.


But what I had chiefly to thank him for was the warm and deep devotion to Nietzsche with which he infected both his stepbrother and me. He lent us many of the Master’s books, which at that time were taboo in all public libraries in Germany; helped us to understand some of the more obscure passages, and secured seats for us at lectures on the philosopher. Thus on one occasion we had the opportunity of listening to Horneffer on the subject of Nietzsche’s life and works.

In this way, Mrs. Dufresne’s extraordinary prophecy was fulfilled literally “to the letter,” and I had obtained the constant company of two delightful men whose friendship I enjoyed until their death only a few years ago.19

Nietzsche has been much maligned in England, especially during the two World Wars, and chiefly by people who knew his views only from hearsay or else from an odd line or two quoted on a calendar or in a newspaper. He was mistakenly supposed, for instance, to have been the source of most of the less commendable features of National Socialism under Hitler, and many a remark of his regarded as likely to inflame public opinion against him was torn from the context which would have explained it, and was bandied about as if it was typical of his whole system of thought. He was accused, for example, of condemning all pity, when he only wished to point out that today it is too lavishly and exclusively confined to the weeds and rubbish of the human community, instead of being, after the fashion of the farmer’s and horticulturist’s practice, extended particularly to the nobler and more valuable plants whose survival and welfare were seriously endan­gered by the spread and multiplication of the psychophysically inferior elements in the population.

Such was the prejudice excited against him that many of his major and more valuable contributions to thought have been completely overlooked or distorted. Nothing to my mind could have been more revelatory and enlightening than his idea that the genesis of all moral codes is the subjective judgment of the kind of man most likely to flourish under them. In other words, his persistent question in respect of every morality was always: The welfare and survival of what type of man was it calculated to secure? Whose interest was best served by it? Who would be likely to flourish under it? For he believed that every morality was but a means of survival and dominion for a particular type of man, and that “good” and “evil” were the weapons with which a group or a community secured victory or predominance for their kind. Yet these very important and illuminating doctrines only earned him the reputation of being hostile to all morality in general.

At all events, when I returned to London I made it my principal concern to bring this particular feature of his teaching clearly to the notice of English readers, and although I was obliged in my account of his works to explain his superman ideal, his theory of eternal recur­rence, and his aesthetic and anti-Wagner doctrines, I did not, like Bernard Shaw and others, exalt the more sensational aspects of his teaching above the less popular but pregnant ideas concerning episte­mology and morals.

Had his detractors but thought dispassionately for one moment, they would have seen for themselves how the process of creating new moral precepts still operates in their world, and always to the advantage of those who produced them. The child of yesterday, taught to regard empire-builders as good, learns as an adult, at the bidding of powerful nations jealous of existing empires, to call empire-builders bad. That same child, who in pre-feminist days was taught to regard women as not “good” as politicians, police officers, magistrates, etc., learns, after women’s fight for what they conceived to be their advantage, that members of his mother’s sex are “good” (or alleged to be so) for all these callings. But the most conspicuous example of the sort that has occurred under the very noses of the people who dispute Nietzsche’s generalization is the recent volte-face that has marked the popular atti­tude to alien races, even in the matter of wedlock.

Promoted in the interest of a small and powerful minority 20 in the population who wished to secure their own unquestioned acceptance by the British people, the propaganda against every form of xenophobia was actively prosecuted, and in order to conceal its main object (which was to safeguard the right of permanent séjour [Residence — JVD.] for the powerful minor­ity in question) was deliberately extended to include ever more and more exotic types until, if you please, the slogan “No color bar,” loudly broadcast throughout Great Britain, led the gullible and easily-governed English masses (indifferent to any change that does not seem to present a direct threat to their incomes) not only to regard as “good” the dilution of their ranks by colored and black people of all climes, but also to call “good” even their own connubium with such people. And whose interest did this moral metamorphosis serve? Obviously that of the powerful minority in the land who, sheltered behind this far-reaching tolerance, thus established their own right to be accepted as the legitimate and unmolested compatriots of the people among whom they settled. All of the very small handful of Englishmen who protested against this dangerous hoax were instantly denounced, with the whole­hearted approval of the thoughtless British mob high and low, either as certifiable lunatics or else as “fascists” and “Nazis.”

In view of such radical changes in the concepts “good” and “evil” applied to phenomena and behavior, and effected at the instance of particular groups or bodies for their own advantage, how can anyone continue to doubt Nietzsche’s claim that the worth and ultimate effect of every moral code is to be sought in the quality and value to the world of the men in whose interest it was created?

Oscar Levy

Soon after my return to England I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of Dr. Oscar Levy just at the very time when he happened to be contemplating the production of a complete edition of Nietzsche’s works in English, and he not only solicited my help in this venture but was also chiefly responsible for arranging the two courses of lectures on Nietzsche which I delivered at University College London in the late autumn of 1908 and December 1910.

Dr. Oscar Levy was a Jewish medical man of exceptional intelli­gence and charm whose superior gifts really unfitted him for the routine drudgery of medical practice. By this I mean no disparagement of the general medical practitioner. I merely wish to call attention to the fact that even those callings which demand high mental qualities and exceptional skill may, owing to the extreme specialization of the facul­ties they call into play and the narrow limitations of the interests they offer, prove unsatisfying to men of versatile gifts. This has always been so, and from Rabelais to Smollett, Conan Doyle, and Somerset Maugham has led to the same result—the pursuit of letters by a man who found medicine tedious.

At all events, Levy always frankly admitted that his patients bored him, and, although his great gentleness, extreme urbanity, and consider­able gifts of sympathy and perspicacity might easily have secured him a large and lucrative practice, he preferred the less busy life of a police doctor and the ample leisure this left him to indulge his principal tastes, which lay in the direction of literature, social intercourse, and philoso­phic meditation. In my first novel, Mansel Fellowes,21 I tried to depict him for posterity, and the fact that he was delighted with the book, and, I believe, presented copies of it to numerous friends and acquaintances, seems to indicate that my portrait of him was at least no caricature.

He used to spend a good deal of his time in the reading-room of the British Museum, and it was there that, after having had his attention drawn to me by the large number of books on Nietzsche which I daily appropriated, he ultimately made my acquaintance.

He gave me several of Nietzsche’s works to translate, including the first Unzeitgemässe Betrachtung, Götzendämmerung, Der Antichrist, Der Wille zur Macht and Ecce Homo, and these I did in the order stated.22

There has been much severe criticism of this translation, but I think that when the immense difficulties of the work are taken into consid­eration and due allowance has been made for the relatively small number of discrepancies, many of which are obviously the result of careless proof-reading or even of original typescript-reading, it will be granted that those who, like Dr. Levy himself, Friedrich Sternthal (the brilliant Berlin critic), and others, including Dr. G. T. Wrench, have only praise for the translation, were not only more discerning but, above all, more fair than its detractors. This does not mean that I fail to deplore the fact that my versions should contain flaws, or that I do not regret the excessive haste and carelessness with which my translations were prepared for the press. But I think it is only right to point out that there has been gross exaggeration, if not actual malice (the source of which I believe I know), in describing the translation as “scandalously inaccurate.”

What were the circumstances under which, for instance, Volume 16 23 of the authorized English translation came into being? When these have been examined, the reader will be in a position to measure the justice of its wholesale condemnation.

To begin with, we translators, working as a team, were expected to read and check each other’s work before it went to press, so as to ensure accuracy by eliminating typing and printing errors, repairing omissions and oversights, and correcting actual mistranslations. It may be difficult to explain how and why, but this provision against error was certainly seldom conscientiously put into practice. We were all over-anxious to get our work through quickly and inclined to look on this extra unpaid duty (which really amounted to performing one’s own translation of another man’s book) as rather a tiresome corvée. 24 The consequence was that, whilst the arrangement inspired a certain amount of confidence and appeared to guarantee some security against inaccu­racy, both of these aims were in fact defeated owing to the enormous labors such revision entailed and the perfunctoriness with which they were usually performed. This is not to suggest that the neglect of which we were all to some extent guilty was deliberately practiced to reduce the credit of our colleagues as translators, but I do know that I for one, in revising other men’s translations, often worked at a speed incom­patible with perfect vigilance.

Secondly, Levy himself was inclined to be much too trustful and lenient. He was too much of a gentleman and too little of a martinet to take his editorial duties as strictly and as seriously as a less amiable and more industrious man would have done. He was, moreover, often too diffident and considerate about compelling the adoption of improve­ments suggested. I, for instance, had to revise Common’s Zarathustra, and as an example of the procedure I see from my notes that I found altogether twenty errors in Part I alone, although few of these were ultimately accepted. Moreover, in Section XX of Part I 25 I strongly rec­ommended a modification which, although warmly approved by Dr. Levy, he declined, out of regard for old Common, to force upon him. It related to the seventh verse of the section. Nietzsche’s words are: “Nicht nur fort sollst du dich pflanzen, sondern hinauf!”

Common’s version of this read: “Not only onward shall thou propa­gate thyself, but upward!” I maintained that no English Nietzsche would ever have used such terms to express the idea in question and suggested that a better translation, more in keeping with Nietzsche’s epigrammatic style, would have been: “Let your descendants be your ascent.” As I say, however, Levy was too loath to risk hurting Com­mon’s feelings to insist on the necessary alteration. This was by no means an exceptional occurrence, and it was hardly encouraging.

Dr. Levy’s handsome acknowledgement of my services in his pref­ace to the third edition of The Will to Power may, in view of the way in which my translation has been vilified, sound strange and undeserved, but at least it shows that opinion regarding the quality of my work is divided.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to relate all I owe to Dr. Oscar Levy and to express the gratitude I feel for the substantial advantages I enjoyed through my close association with him during the six years preceding the First World War. Only through him and the remunerative employment he gave me early in my literary career was I able to obtain the leisure and opportunity for that extended study and increased knowledge of the world which I so much needed to repair the worst defects in my education. It was also entirely to him and the influ­ence he wielded in certain literary and academic circles in both London and the provinces that my first lecture courses were arranged and received public attention. He was, moreover, responsible for finding me my first publishers, Foulis and Constable, and for introducing me to the New Age circle, whose leader, A. R. Orage, soon appointed me art critic of his famous weekly.

Nor does this list of benefits which I owed to Levy, formidable though it may seem, exhaust the counts of my indebtedness to him, for, thanks to what some of my more bitter critics may regard as his “inex­plicable” fondness for my company, he began very early in our acquaintance to invite me to join him on holidays at various coastal resorts and often to give me the means of taking such periods of rest alone. Thus, we would go off to Bournemouth, Westgate, Folkestone, or Eastbourne together, and sometimes even take a little work with us.

The Grand Tour

What I owed to him above all, however, was the grand tour which I made as his traveling companion in 1910, when we stayed at, among other places, Dresden (Hotel zum Prinzen?), Munich (Hotel Lein­felder), Venice (Hotel Victoria), Florence (Hotel Bonciani), Athens (Hotel Minerva), Smyrna (Grand Hotel Huck), Jerusalem (Hotel Fast), Jaffa (Hotel Jerusalem), and Cairo (Khedivial Hotel).

I thus was able to visit all the principal art galleries, museums, and monuments of southern Europe and the Near East, and to complete more or less my knowledge of the art treasures of the modern world. It was an unforgettable and invaluable experience and coincided with what was certainly the highlight of my friendship with Levy. He was a delightful companion, as most clever Jews always are, understanding instantly what one said and not holding up the conversation, as so many Englishmen will, in order to have elementary psychological truths ex­plained. (He was, moreover, a most generous host throughout, display­ing that aristocratic unconcern about expenditure which sets dependants completely at their ease and is one of the more pleasant by-products, if not the best proof, of a long tradition of power in a family line. The behavior of a parvenu in similar circumstances at once reveals the relative recentness of his affluence.

Strange to say, and quite contrary to our expectations, the place which in the course of our travels made the deepest impression upon both of us was not Venice, Florence, or Athens, but “Jerusalem the golden,” whose beauty and majesty, possibly because unexpected, we both found staggering. No epithet could be more apt than “golden” to describe the picture this city presents to the traveler, and on the strength of that word alone the Rev. J. M. Neale, who wrote Hymn 228 in Hymns Ancient and Modern, or else Bernard of Cluny, the author of the original hymn of which Neale’s is an English version, may confi­dently be suspected of having seen the Holy City at some time in his life.

At all events, it was the only place throughout our journey where I felt irresistibly tempted to do any sketching, and I brought back several water-colors, one of which — that of the eastern view of the city, crowned by the beautiful Omar Mosque built on the site of the ancient Temple of Solomon — I painted from Siloa, the little hill village lying on the height opposite Jerusalem, across the Valley of Kedron. Levy liked the picture so much that when we returned to England I had to make several copies of it for himself and friends.

I knew perhaps too much about Greece and the baneful influence its more famous and later philosophers, especially Socrates, had exerted over European thought to feel strongly prepossessed in its favor, and the time we spent at Athens afforded me very little pleasure. Both Levy and I were depressed rather than edified by the ruins of the Acropolis, for nothing can look more desolate and ugly than classical architecture dismembered and disintegrating. We therefore found the sight of the Parthenon, like a gigantic decayed molar crowning the city, anything but exhilarating, and this impression certainly accounted for our excep­tional behavior on a certain occasion at our Athens hotel. When we were all sitting at dinner one evening, our landlord announced that the Minister of the Interior had just kindly sent round to say that he had arranged for a party to view the Parthenon by moonlight that night and, in order that the necessary transport could be provided, he invited us to signify by a show of hands whether we wished to avail ourselves of the offer or not. The response was enthusiastic. All but Levy and me signi­fied their assent, and it was not difficult to sense the perplexity, not to say the froid,26 which our indifference to the romantic prospect provoked in our fellow guests.

The incessant chatter of the population, their shrill wrangles and noisy street calls, the buzz of which remained audible even at the sum­mit of the Lycabettos, were also exasperating. They were a constant reminder of the querulous, loquacious, and hybrid stocks composing the local inhabitants — all Levantines of dubious origin, indescribably ugly and bewilderingly heterogeneous. The streets, moreover, were in a deplorable state of age-long neglect, and it was odd to see a low jerry-built structure bearing the words GYNAIKON one end and ANDRON 27 at the other, whilst in front of the palace the king’s carriage had got stuck fast in a deep rut.

The Royal Gardens at the back of the palace were then perhaps the most attractive part of Athens, at least to me, and on 14th of February 1910 we sat there in glorious sunshine, as hot as on a June day in Eng­land, amid orange trees, beds of violets and pleasant lawns, and we watched the king’s grandchildren playing under the eye of an attendant. For although Wednesdays and Fridays were supposed to be the only public visiting-days in the gardens, the guard who had at first barred our way soon proved more accommodating when Levy handed him a handsome tip.

It is not surprising, after this, that we were perhaps unduly overawed by the medieval grandeur and beauty of Jerusalem, although when I now dwell on all the experiences of that grand tour I cannot help sus­pecting that it was the wholly unanticipated splendor of Jerusalem, its almost mint medieval state, and the dignity and picturesque old-world charm of its inhabitants that made it so disproportionately attractive to Levy and me. For, after all, although chiefly through the medium of books and other sources of information, we knew Greece before we got there. We had studied its monuments and its art, and we had long ago become familiar with the Elgin Marbles. Of Jerusalem, on the other hand, I, at least, knew nothing beyond what is said about it in the Gospels.

Everything I saw was strange and new to me—not that novelty alone necessarily has charm. In Jerusalem, however, it was coupled with so much of antiquarian interest, beauty, and calm, primitive industry that at every step one seemed to draw nearer and nearer to the heart of a bygone culture. Another probable cause of the greater pleas­ure that Jerusalem gave us was its convincing air of superior genuine­ness and authenticity. Although its inhabitants, their daily chores, and their environment transported us both at one stroke to a period almost barbaric, at least every feature of Jerusalem life was in keeping; noth­ing jarred the harmony of the scene or jolted one by its incongruity. Few, if any, discordant notes, and hardly any anachronisms, marred the picture of a homogeneous medieval culture. Athens, on the other hand, struck one as offensively bastard. There, surrounded by the decrepit monuments of a glorious past, the scene was crowded with the tawdry and vulgar excrescences of a modern city. Like an Earl’s Court travesty of some Western metropolis, Athens in 1910 looked counterfeit. With its ancient background in ruins, it had the air of a centenarian tricked out to resemble her own great-grandchild. I have no idea what it looks like now, but that was certainly how it appeared to me fifty years ago.

Nor, after Jerusalem, could I place even Cairo and Egypt uppermost among the memorable experiences of my tour. The vast distance of time separating the monuments of Egypt from her modern cities cer­tainly gave a less discordant impression than the shorter interval did in Greece, and, odd though it may sound, these monuments seemed to present a less striking contrast to the upstart styleless buildings about them. Their austere and simple silhouettes, not unlike natural features, blended more perfectly with the urban landscape. But there could be no question about the relative beauty of the two places, and I doubt whether any traveler would dispute the justice of handing the palm to Palestine’s capital.

We were both greatly depressed by the prevalence of eye disease in Syria and Egypt and, in a desperate attempt to awaken the adult women at least to the importance of hygiene in this respect, I remember that I used to go about the market-place in Jerusalem and wave a fan over the faces of their babies to scare away the clusters of flies that collected on their eyes as they lay sleeping beside their mothers’ display of vegeta­bles and fruit. But it was no good. Although the mothers did not seem to resent my action, they looked upon it merely as the vagary of an eccentric foreigner. Indeed, when Levy and I visited the German hos­pital and spoke to Dr. Wallach about the matter, he said the situation was almost hopeless. The fellahin had no notion either of cleanliness or hygiene. I suggested that the girls, at least, might be made accessible to more enlightened ideas by appealing to their vanity. If it were pointed out that the terrible disfigurement of trachoma could be avoided by proper care, surely they would be anxious to learn what they should do. But Dr. Wallach said he had found even that expedient of no avail.

Except for the journey from Jaffa to Alexandria, which we per­formed, malgré nous, 28 in a disgusting Russian steamer, the Cezare­vich, full of pilgrims and vermin, whose captain had the effrontery to sit at the head of our dining-table and, under our very eyes, to eat a specially cooked meal very much superior to our own, we traveled on the liners of the Messageries Maritimes, the Portugal and the Saghalien, and I thought them excellent in every respect. The vin ordinaire at meals was ad lib.,29 the cooking was first-class, and the cabin accommoda­tion most comfortable. There was, however, a brief exception to this rule, for we performed the trip from Trieste to Patras in a very fine ship of the Aus­trian Lloyd Line which also provided us with every comfort and excel­lent food.

Part II

Editor's Note:

What follows are selections from Confessions of an Anti-Feminist: The Autobiography of Anthony M. Ludovici, ed. John V. Day, ch. 4, “My Education, II (1910–1916).” The section headings are my creations. Unless otherwise indicated, all notes are by Ludovici. John V. Day’s notes are marked JVD. The full book remains unpublished.

Art Criticism

My art criticism for A. R. Orage’s The New Age reintroduced me to the world in which I had been brought up, and as a matter of course I had to attend most of the private views of pictures and sculpture in London. As a conscientious art critic, I had gradually come to feel the necessity of reaching definite conclusions concerning what I believed to be the essentials of quality in the graphic and plastic arts. Hating the anarchy that prevailed in this sphere, which ever since my schooldays had struck me as not only bewildering but also and above all as discourag­ing to all young aspirants striving to attain to a high standard of performance in art, I had for many years tried to arrive at some sort of canon of taste, or at any rate at an approximation thereto. For I felt that even if such a personal canon could never give my judgments univer­sal validity (an impossible ideal in matters of taste, as I well knew), it could at least serve to lend them consistency — i.e., make them conform to reasoned and well-defined principles which could be appealed to if they were challenged.

As I hope to show in the chapter dealing with my life work, I was from the start suspicious of the doctrines held by the art school led by Whistler, the methods of which were influenced by the plausible trumpery and fallacious views expressed in his famous Ten O’Clock 30 and especially in his letter to The World.31

For reasons which I have since made abundantly clear in my Introduction to The Letters of a Post-Impressionist, 32 in the later chapters of my Personal Reminiscences of Auguste Rodin, 33 and particularly in an article contributed to the Contemporary Review, 34 I felt there was some­thing radically specious and irrational in Whistler’s reiterated claim that in art “the subject does not matter,” and I foresaw with prophetic clarity all the mischief to which such a doctrine must inevitably lead. It seemed to me that any art movement animated by such a principle must culminate in abuses of all kinds and in the degradation of the graphic and plastic artist’s role. From being by tradition the pictorial or sculp­tural perpetuation or enshrinement of an “état d’âme”35 inspired in a pecu­liarly sensitive and gifted observer by some aspect of life, an enshrinement supplying common men with an interpretation of life raised to a key unattainable by their own unaided contemplation and therefore a new revelation of beauty or grandeur, the work of artists who followed Whistler’s shallow ruling and obsessive insistence on the supreme importance of “arrangement” and “composition” (lisez: “pattern”) was, at a stroke, made to rank with that of a mosaicist, or a wall­paper- or carpet-designer. From being a means of exalting and intensi­fying his fellow-men’s joy and exhilaration over some selected facet of the natural world, the so-called artist was demoted to a mere kaleido­scopist, a mere juxtapositor of varicolored patches. For whether or not we choose to warn our generation against the charlatanry, humbug, and fraud which such degraded art forms may promote among the less scrupulous art-aspirant of every generation, let alone the less highly endowed and less competent, the fact remains that no process of reasoning could justify us in setting the skill, gifts, and technical mastery necessary for the designer of a patchwork quilt on the same level with those of the artist who enshrines for us ordinary folk his exceptionally vital, penetrating, and tasteful interpretation of some aspect or feature of the world about us. When we appreciate the reve­latory quality of such an artist’s products and how they transcend our own impressions of the world about us, we immediately understand that no mere “arrangements” and “patterns” can compete with them for qual­ity and enchantment.

On this account I could never see how anyone, after examining Whistler’s shallow, tawdry, and heretical dicta on art, could fail to dread their inevitable and dangerous consequences. Nor at all events does their ultimate logical conclusion in the production of what the modern world now recognizes as “abstract art” do aught but confirm and justify the suspicion and fear with which they first inspired me.

Thus, very early in my work as an art critic I was aware of the dangers attending the adoption of Whistler’s corrupt teaching, for, accepting as I did Goethe’s view that the subjectivity which abounds in all spheres today is a sign of degeneracy, I deplored any aesthetic doctrine which was bound to foster subjective forms of artistic expres­sion having little meaning except to the artist himself and bearing no relation to any objective reality.

Meanwhile, I read a great number of treatises, both on aesthetics and the history of art, and thus became acquainted with the views of many of the leading art historians and philosophers (including Hegel) who had helped to mould European standards of taste. But although these studies brought me no nearer to a valid aesthetic canon, they widened my view of the problems and introduced me to the more important key thinkers on the subject of art. Through them, for instance, I came across the essential contributions made to my subject by Ananda Coomaraswamy and had the advantage of meeting this gifted Oriental aesthete and of discussing with him some of the most burning questions relating to art and art criticism.

The English Mistery

The years immediately preceding World War I therefore covered a period of social contacts which, apart from those made through the English Mistery after 1930, were perhaps wider and more varied than I was ever to enjoy again, for, besides the Nietzsche group to which I belonged, I was more or less prominently associated with the New Age clique, and thanks to my articles and public lectures I had become acquainted with a number of societies and movements, among whose members I found many supporters. Of the various circles in question, I might mention above all the Sesame Club, many of whose members remained my friends until their death. I refer to such people as the Waggets, the Hunts, and the Cosways.

In this traffic with my fellow-men I gradually learnt, albeit imper­fectly, the art, if not the science, of human intercourse. That is to say, I learnt above all the importance of treading cautiously, of acquiring the behavior which makes for a good mixer—a role for which I was from the start miserably endowed—and of avoiding the dire perils of too hasty speech. For, as Fontenelle so aptly remarked, “Il y a peu de cho­ses aussi difficiles et aussi dangereuses que le commerce des hommes.”36 Not that I always succeeded! On the contrary, I can think of many a contretemps and setback in my life which I owed to words imprudently uttered and, as I imagined at the time, spoken safely and in confidence to a trusted relative or friend.

Much later on, when through the small stir caused in political circles by my Defence of Aristocracy, A Defence of Conservatism, and The False Assumptions of ‘Democracy’ I became enrolled as a leading member of the English Mistery, a political organization of the extreme Right, I came into almost daily contact with an even wider circle of men of all classes, among whom were numbered Conservative peers and Members of Parliament, lawyers, and even scholars. At our dinners we often had foreign ambassadors, diplomats, and sometimes even members of the Royal Family as guests, and as the speeches made on these occasions were never reported—the press being rigorously excluded from all our meetings—and as in other respects a certain air of mystery hung over both our aims and our proceedings, our group contrived during the period of its existence in full strength (i.e., from 1930 to about 1937) to attract a good deal of notice and to provoke considerable curiosity and interest. Nor was this confined to England, for our fame spread abroad, particularly to Germany and Italy, and with consequences which, as far at least as I was concerned, proved of the utmost educative value.

Nevertheless, my position as one of the foremost members of this political society was by no means an easy one, and it was as a Mistery man that I learnt the hardest lessons of my life concerning the “commerce des hommes,” an art for which I had few natural gifts and which in the Mistery was rendered all the more difficult because of the posi­tion of relative authority which I held by tacit consent under the execu­tive of the organization.

But in any case, whether my political philosophy and my claims to some authority in this field were justified or not, it can never be easy, especially in political circles where the struggle for power is prosecuted more nakedly than in any other department of social life, to live in harmony, friendship, and loyalty with a large body of one’s fellows; and when, as in modern England, there is in any event a certain tendency to negativism among middle-class people in particular, one has only to be prominent in any group in order to be the target against which most of the criticism and latent misanthropy are directed. And I believe this to be especially true of England, because of the fundamental particularism of the Anglo-Saxon character which, from the moment any party is formed and attracts recruits, gives rise among its members to centrifu­gal forces that tend to destroy every impulse of solidarity and loyalty. The result is that, instead of presenting with their fellow-members a united front against a common enemy outside, the men composing the average political group concentrate all their energies, not to mention their venom, on discovering reasons and weapons with which to fight and rout one, two, or more of the members of their own group. Indeed, it makes one wonder how a leading politician is ever able to hold any body of supporters together long enough to exert effective power in Parliament.

I suggest that this happens chiefly in England owing to the inveter­ate particularism of the Anglo-Saxon character. But apparently the French cannot be far behind us in this respect—a fact which may explain the deplorable tendency of French political parties to break up into numerous hostile schisms. At all events, this tendency appears to have been already familiar to de Retz in the seventeenth century, for we find him saying: “On a plus de peine, dans les partis, à vivre avec ceux qui en sont qu’à agir contre ceux qui y sont opposés.” 37

This is certainly true of most political groups in England, and very early in my membership of the English Mistery I began to notice this splitting up of our society into small cliques composed of men who, on the score of some paltry difference, thought it worthwhile to break loose from the main body and thus to weaken and ultimately to destroy it. Invariably, too, this process of disruption was preceded and accom­panied by whispering campaigns directed against some other section of the party or one of its members. Meanwhile, of course, the common enemy outside remained not only immune, but usually also utterly for­gotten. No wonder an experienced politician like de Retz felt able to say: “Je suis persuadé qu’il faut plus de grandes qualités pour former un bon chef de parti que pour faire un bon empereur de l’univers.”38

It was certainly this sort of internal canker, coupled with many dubious procedures on the part of the Party’s executive, that ultimately brought about the complete dissolution of the English Mistery, and although I retained until the end the support and loyalty of a few members, some of whom are still my friends, I had long been aware of the denigration of both my person and my doctrines which seemed to constitute the favorite pastime of the congenital secessionists in our midst. In fact, so deeply rooted is this habit of disparagement in our Western society that it makes one wonder whether the proverbial love of animals, in England at least, may not be due to the knowledge that dumb animals are incapable of it.

But this unhappy experience was but a grandiose repetition of many such already undergone by me, although on a smaller scale. For among both the early Nietzscheans and the members of the New Age group the same inveterate schismatic tendencies prevailed, and my discovery that these tendencies were apparently endemic in England constituted one of the hardest parts of my education in the ways of the world.

Conflicts With Orage

In this respect, one of the bitterest jars I ever had was that which I suffered whilst writing for The New Age. I was of course well aware of the existence of factions in the group around A. R. Orage, but it never once occurred to me that my chief himself would ever be capable of siding with any of them against me, one of his own contributors. Yet this is what actually came to pass. But to make the whole incident clear, I must first explain how I innocently provided my enemies with the opportunity of injuring me. Above all, I must in brief outline describe my relationship to Orage.

The letters Orage wrote to me from time to time, many of which may still be found among my papers, in which he makes clear the price he set by some of my contributions, suffice to testify to our cordial relations. This did not, however, mean that we were unaware of funda­mental differences of opinion on many matters. For instance, I feel sure that I disappointed Orage by showing insufficient interest in C. H. Douglas’s monetary-reform doctrines. Nor did I ever doubt that my pronounced leanings to the Right in politics made it difficult for me to see eye to eye with him on matters of social reform. I never could believe, as many Fabians, including above all Shaw, maintained, that poverty was the major cause of both social discontent and crime. This, a favorite tenet of Marx, always struck me as shallow and heretical. The very fact that both adult and juvenile delinquency has increased rather than diminished under the benevolent institutions of the welfare state has surely confirmed rather than invalidated my point of view. I was therefore never one of the devoted and intimate coterie that used to foregather round Orage’s table in the tea-shop opposite Cursitor Street, where policies and programs were hatched. I went there but rarely — certainly not often enough to please our editor — although, of course, he never so much as hinted that my aloofness offended him.

Foremost among the reasons preventing me from wholly sympa­thizing with his views was my dislike of his boundless catholicity. He seemed to me to throw his editorial net too wide and to be almost dissolute in the diversity and even the incompatibility of the doctrines and policies to which he granted the hospitality of his columns. Nor is it unlikely that I must often have voiced this objection to men who were in a position to repeat it to him. Yet I doubt whether any impartial judge could, after examining the various issues of the New Age, help concurring with this criticism. I respected his intellect, but, just as he doubtless deplored my “narrow-mindedness,” so I regretted his sprawl­ing sympathies.

Gurdjieff And Ouspensky

Much later on a serious clash occurred over the Ouspensky–Gurdjieff teaching, for I was quite unable to accept his belief in its indispen­sability for life mastery, and, strange as it may seem, it was his fanati­cal faith in these two men that marked not only the end of the New Age period but also, as I half-suspected at the time, sowed the seeds of his own premature death. Because, if he had not joined Ouspensky in France at a time of life when the rigorous disciplines Gurdjieff imposed on his disciples constituted a grave danger, it is unlikely that he would have died when and how he did.

I can vividly recall the urgent summons he sent to me in the first days of March 1922. I was to come to see him in Cursitor Street imme­diately as he had something of the utmost importance to tell me. This must have been on Wednesday, March the 1st. He said: “Ludovici, drop everything you happen to be doing and join us in the Ouspensky group! You will find it abundantly worth while to give all your time to the study of the way of life Ouspensky undertakes to teach us”—or words to that effect. I pointed out that it would be extremely difficult for me to do what he proposed. I was a married man and had not the means to abandon my work. Although I was prepared to attend Ouspensky’s lectures, for I was always anxious to learn, and felt sure Orage was too intelligent and well-informed to be hoaxed by a charlatan, I made it clear that I could not possibly enroll myself as one of Gurdjieff’s whole-time chelas.39

As early as March 3rd, 1922 I accordingly went to hear Ouspensky, who was addressing a small and select circle in a private house either in Kensington or Chelsea. I confess I understood very little of what he said and often failed to appreciate the relevance of many of his illustra­tions. But I could not help admiring his technique as a lecturer. The way he handled his audience and dealt with the ubiquitous and benighted interrupters, who at all such gatherings betray their inatten­tion and stupidity by the futility of their questions, seemed to me, who had so often suffered at the hands of such people, exceedingly impres­sive. Anybody who by his, or particularly by her, misunderstandings revealed that further attendance on their part would be quite useless was unmercifully snubbed and humiliated, and if such a person pro­tested, as one or two outraged listeners, unused to such rough handling, sometimes did, he or she was invited to withdraw altogether. Indeed, the very first time I heard Ouspensky lecture a female listener was thus summarily fired. This I found most exhilarating.

On March 7th I attended a second lecture and on that occasion actu­ally saw Gurdjieff, who, opulently attired in a magnificent astrakhan overcoat, made his way straight to the front row of the audience and sat down immediately opposite me. (I should explain that presumably, as a friend of Orage and recommended by him, I had been allowed a seat on the platform.)

I cannot say I was favorably impressed by either the person or manner of Ouspensky’s master and guru. Rightly or wrongly, I felt repelled rather than attracted. His air of truculent self-complacency, his unfortunate resemblance to one’s image of the typical impresario, and the palpable obviousness, not to say shallowness, of some of his remarks on bodily control and economy of effort destroyed all hope of any rapport between us from the start.

When I now read accounts of him, and see the eminence and achievements of some of the men who took his teaching seriously (Dr. Kenneth Walker, for instance), I appreciate that a sweeping dismissal of him would probably be unjust. But such pronounced initial feelings of antipathy as he inspired in me are difficult to overcome, and as I had meanwhile come to the conclusion that there was no chance of my being able to devote enough time to the teaching in order to benefit from it, I decided to inform Ouspensky and Orage that, to my profound regret, I could not possibly undertake to join them.

Orage was greatly shocked and, like many another whose advice has been rejected, he most probably felt slighted. But I have never for one moment regretted this resolute act of defection. I never pretended to be a dedicated chela, or to lead either Ouspensky or Orage to suspect that I was withdrawing from their group because I thought little of the teaching. Indeed, had I done anything of the sort I should have been insincere, because I never professed a proper understanding of Gurd­jieff’s aims or how he expected to achieve them. Only long afterwards, when I was in a position to judge some of the unmistakable results of the Gurdjieff regime, did I feel entitled knowledgeably to question its value.

Thus, when after his spell at Fontainebleau and the frantic agitation raised by his friends to rescue him from the labors of the life there, and when after the conclusion of his activities in America, he at last returned to London and started the New English Weekly, I was among those who were invited to meet him and to learn about his future plans. I decided to go and thus had the opportunity of observing the marked changes that had come over his appearance since I had last seen him. The deterioration in his physical condition seemed to me conspicuous, and I felt I had every reason to congratulate myself on having escaped the rigors of Gurdjieff’s train­ing camp. What made me all the more confident of the justice of this conclusion was the fact that meanwhile — i.e., during the years of Orage’s absence from England — I also had undergone a thorough course of physical rehabilitation, or rather normalization, which had not only greatly improved my condition but had also supplied me with valuable criteria for knowledgeably assessing the physical status of my fellow-men. Instead of my judgments in this sphere being, as they had been in the past, chiefly guesswork and matters of opinion, I was now equipped to give at least valid reasons for classing a fellow-being as either able or unable to maintain his sound condition if he enjoyed such a blessing, or to improve his condition if it was faulty. This was not an assessment in the medical sense, which of course I was quite unquali­fied to attempt, but rather an estimate of a man’s chances of keeping sound if soundness and health were already present. And I owed the knowledge for such judgments to the thorough schooling in the correct use of the body which I had undergone at F. M. Alexander’s teaching centre in Westminster. Indeed, I may truthfully claim that this course of training in conscious control proved to be the principal turning-point in my life and, above all, in my education. Nor do I believe that anyone who has had the good fortune to leave Alexander’s hands fully condi­tioned, as I ultimately became, to apply his methods in every kind of bodily activity, throughout every day of the year, would charge me with exaggeration or overstatement in making the claim I have made about his teaching. From the year 1925, when I first became his pupil, to the present day, I have not ceased to rejoice in the good fortune which led me to him. It resulted in my being as it were “born again” and, what is more, enriched me with an armory of new standards by means of which, henceforth, I could with substantial authority assess the psychophysical condition of my fellows, together with their chances of preserving any health they happened to enjoy.

Now, it was when I was thus equipped that I renewed my acquaint­ance with Orage, and I confess that I was genuinely shocked by the changes I noted in his appearance. These changes were probably also observed by others, but are unlikely to have been given the significance which I felt justified in giving them. For one thing, I could not help noticing how conspicuously he had begun to stoop and how rounded his back had become, and, remembering Alexander’s shrewd adage that “it is the stoop that brings on the infirmities of old age, and not vice versa,” I naturally felt alarmed at his appearance. His bodily coordina­tion also struck me as in every respect what Alexander called “villain­ous,” and I did not need more to convince me that, no matter what its other merits may have been, Gurdjieff’s regimen could hardly have included conscious control, in Alexander’s sense, as one of its disci­plines. When, therefore, not long after the inauguration of The New English Weekly, Orage was reported to have died suddenly of a heart attack, I was not in the least surprised. His death at the comparatively early age of sixty-one occurred, I believe, on the night of November 3–4, 1934, when by a strange coincidence he and I both made our first BBC broadcast, and it was on returning home in the evening of the 3rd that he retired to bed, never to rise again.

The Great War

My next and perhaps most profitable discoveries about the nature and ways of men, and the school in which, I may say, I almost finished my education (for I had yet another rich crop of lessons to learn after World War II), were both the gift of that admirable monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm II, to whom I now belatedly tender my most grateful thanks. Because all the novel and immensely valuable experiences I had as an army officer from October 1914 to the autumn of 1919, including the priceless privilege of being able to witness at first-hand at least one infinitely minute facet of the prodigious world-tragedy that was to cut European history in two, were due entirely to this gifted and pictur­esque ruler—that is, of course, if his responsibility for World War I was as great as many Allied statesmen, above all Lloyd George, believed.

Nor can I now dare to think what would have been my loss, both in the knowledge of military life, the understanding of men, the experi­ence of actual warfare, and insight into at least the gunner’s side of World War I, had I, owing to a more rational and less childish handling of the world crisis of July 1914 by Western statesmen, been deprived of my five years in uniform.

Even in my wildest dreams I had never imagined myself a soldier; nor, except for my passion for Napoleon, had I ever been much inter­ested in the military life. Whenever, in my life at home, I had displayed a fas­tidiousness and fussy concern about the cleanliness of table im­plements and utensils which struck my family as obsessive, my mother had always exclaimed: “Dieu sait mon pauvre ami ce que tu aurais fait si tu avais été soldat!” 40 But I accepted the rebuke with complete equanim­ity, feeling certain that the chances of my squeam­ishness ever being put to a military test were too remote to cause me any concern. When, therefore, war broke out in August 1914, and I found myself seriously thinking of offering my services to the nation, it was in complete ignorance of what I was letting myself in for, and without any vainglorious hopes of distin­guishing myself as a warrior or hero. Had my motives been narrowly scrutinized, they would have revealed that what chiefly actuated me when I went to Whitehall on September 7th, 1914 to offer myself to the military authorities was in the first place sheer curiosity, and secondly a feeling of utter despair and despondency.

Curiosity was certainly a paramount factor. Distrusting, as I had learnt to do, the testimony of others, especially about any complex problem or event, I did not expect to obtain any trustworthy informa­tion about World War I, or about warfare in general, unless I witnessed both at first-hand. As, therefore, the circumstances presented me with a unique chance of doing this, it seemed to me foolish not to take it. Secondly, I say, I was at the time feeling deeply depressed and listless. My mother had died in the previous May, and I really did not much care what happened to me. What aggravated my feelings of despair was that they were accompanied by a persistent sense of guilt. Try as I might, I could not cease from rehearsing with harrowing detail the many scenes in which, during the thirty-two years of our life together, I had behaved unkindly or disrespectfully. The many services I had performed for her, and the precious memories of innumerable happy experiences in which I had played no shameful role, seemed forgotten beyond recall. It may be that such self-reproaches invariably torment the survivor of a couple that has long been deeply attached, but this does not make them more easy to bear.

Be this as it may, it was certainly with no patriotic ardor or public-spirited zeal that on September 7th I visited the Recruiting Office in Whitehall, and on September 9th, after being stripped, sounded, and generally overhauled, I was, at 12 pm precisely, pronounced “medically fit.” From there I was driven with six other fellows to the Civil Service Examination Centre at Burlington House, where at 1 pm an official informed us that, as the examiner could see only two of us before lunch, he would like us to toss for admission. I was one of the two to win and, as I had every reason to expect, passed the French examina­tion without a hitch. In the examination for German, I soon became aware of the fact that my examiner knew less German than I did, and to my astonishment I actually had to suggest a few of his participles to him when at the end of a sentence he hesitated and fumbled for a word. Incidentally, this was the first jolt my illusions about British army effi­ciency received. It was soon to be followed by many more serious ones.

Having passed the German examination, I was told that I should now require for my commission the recommendation of three men of substance who would vouch for my trustworthiness, and that I must return on the following morning with their testimonials.

Mr. Bowlby, an old friend in Erlanger’s Bank; our family GP, Dr. James Bryce; and Mr. Baker, an accountant in the Duke of Portland’s estate office, supplied me with the letters of recommendation I required. But it was only by chance that I found them accessible, for the afternoon of September 9th was all the time I had to collect the vouchers I needed, and as I rushed round London I not unnaturally found many friends out. I duly submitted the letters to the authorities next day, but there still appeared to be much hesitation about enrolling me in the Interpreter Corps — the unit I chose, not only because I possessed the necessary qualifications for it, but also because it was the surest means of being sent overseas without delay. Apparently, they did not like the sound of Nietzsche’s name and still less my connection with him. Not that they knew anything about him, but they could not believe that anyone with such a name, and anyone who had translated his works, could possibly be up to any good. However, they very soon overcame their scruples, and I subsequently learnt that they were more or less compelled to do so, as their attempt to recruit interpreters exclu­sively from university undergraduates had, owing to these young men’s deplorable ignorance of the languages they professed to understand, made it necessary to turn to less academic strata of the population. This, however, did not by any means signify that all the men they ultimately recruited were competent linguists, for, as I soon found out when the batch to which I belonged reached the Continent, only a very few had what I should have regarded as a good knowledge of French, still fewer knew enough German to be of use, and, out of the score or so which formed our batch, only two—myself and another fellow—were able without difficulty to make themselves understood by, and to understand, the French telephone operators at St. Omer when transmit­ting messages from the General or Field Officers to whom they had been attached. This surprised me very much, for accustomed though I was in private life to preposterously bogus claims to proficiency in some foreign language, I hardly expected to meet with them in mem­bers of a unit specially selected and tested for the job of interpreting. It occurred to me at the time that what the War Office examiners should have done was to converse with the examinees on the telephone—a most drastic test! — and as a matter of fact, as I discovered on the outbreak of World War II, this was the practice ultimately adopted.

When, early in October, our batch embarked at Folkestone for Ostend, each of us was first allotted a batman, and we gathered that we should not be attached to any unit before we reached the Continent. We stayed in Ostend about ten days, and those of us who were not allotted to any cavalry or infantry formation on its way to the Front were attached to some old “dug-out” who was performing an administrative function in the port. I, for instance, became the assistant to the Military Landing Officer, a charming old Scots major called Ayrton, whose business it was to see to the landing of the 7th Division. As, however, I have in The Nineteenth Century magazine described all the essentials of my association with this excellent officer, together with the details concerning my first impressions of the old army veteran and the hair-raising experiences I had of hardly credible mismanagement on the part of the departments in Whitehall responsible for the landing of the 7th Division on the Continent, I need not expatiate at any length on these matters. 41 The lack of foresight in providing for the disembarkation of the cavalry, for instance, greatly shocked my chief, Major Ayrton, and it was in hastily improvising the means of making good such errors on the part of the General Staff that I was able, as my Nineteenth Century article shows, to be of particular help to him.

Only when Ostend was ultimately evacuated, and we all drifted along the coast to le Hâvre, was I given a permanent billet. But, to my regret, this did not mean that I was attached to any unit moving up to the Front, but only my appointment as third officer in charge of prison­ers of war. I owed this job to my knowledge of German, but it proved much more interesting and pleasant than I expected. My chief, Colonel Cooper, CMG, was a charming old “dug-out” and his second-in-command, Captain W. C. Hunter, son of Sir William Hunter of the Gazetteer of India, remained a close friend of mine until his death shortly before the outbreak of World War II. They were both delightful people to get on with. Colonel Cooper, however, soon left us, and Captain Hunter became CO. We had charge of everything connected with prisoners of war—censoring their letters home, extracting any useful information contained in their letters from home, meeting batches of them arriving from the Front, sorting and checking the personal effects of German dead and wounded, and wherever possible identifying the owners of the articles so as to restore them to the relatives concerned. We also had to superintend the camps in which POWs were temporarily accommodated before being dispatched to England or allotted as working parties to various sectors of the Front.

I was often much impressed by the honesty shown by the front-line men responsible for collecting and forwarding the belongings of German dead and wounded. It was not uncommon to find as much as ten pounds in gold (in German currency) among the articles sent to us, not to mention banknotes, watches, and other valuables. Evidently the work of collecting these belongings must have been done under the supervision of officers or senior NCOs. When, however, in 1916 I was transferred to a combatant unit, and my battery was close enough to the front line for me to observe what often happened there, I certainly saw another side of the picture. For, although the practice was quite rightly forbidden and severely frowned upon by the high command, there is no doubt that a good deal of rifling of German dead bodies by our troops occurred with the object of securing what were euphemistically called “war souvenirs.” One may be sure that these illicit practices took place on the German side as well, and after the war, in thousands of homes in both England and Germany, there must have been many valuable articles which were thus illegitimately obtained.

I was then approaching the end of my most inadequate training as a gunner—at least, according to one of our favorite instructors, Lieuten­ant W. Kennard (a promoted NCO of the regular army), I understood it to be so, for he was always telling us that he could not answer for what we Kitchener gunners would be up to when once the war of position became a war of movement. Be this as it may, in a week or two I found that I was one of a batch to be sent overseas, and there followed all the adventures and vicissitudes which in my novel, The Taming of Don Juan, 42 are related of the hero, Gilbert Milburn. As there can be no point in burdening these pages with details already recorded in Chapters 12, 13, and 14 of the novel in question, the reader who wishes to know something of my life at the Front, and about the First World War as I saw it, need but refer to what is recorded of these matters in the book I have mentioned. A small contribution to the subject will also be found in The Nineteenth Century magazine for April 1921, in the article enti­tled “The British War-Horse on the Somme.” 43 In both of these sources, however, the reader may rest assured that all I have related about Gilbert Milburn’s war career, as also about the horse in war — i.e., from the rifling of Gilbert’s kit by the rascally camp orderlies of le Hâvre, down to the monstrous conduct of certain hospital nurses in charge of gas-gangrene cases, and the sharp rebuke Gilbert administered to a proudly bereaved father on a train from Harwich to London — is all based upon actual facts drawn from my own experiences during the period 1914 to 1916.

Looking back on the five years I spent as a junior officer in the British army, I think I can truly say that on the whole it was, in addition to its educational value, an edifying and enjoyable experience. It is easy to disparage the military man, as de Quincey does, for instance, and during the First World War it was customary to speak slightingly of the old brigadiers, colonels, and majors whom everybody knew as “dug-outs.” But I must confess that my close association with scores of these old officers, and with the younger men of the regular army, convinced me that in no other class of specialists in our modern world could one ever hope to meet with such a high percentage of men of good breed­ing, decent, chivalrous, and honorable. Most of them impressed me with the soberness of their judgments, the general modesty of their pretensions, and the marked self-discipline of their demeanor and carriage. They seemed to me to display much more composure and less awkwardness and self-consciousness than their contemporaries in other callings, and I often wondered whether perhaps their often irresistible charm and natural dignity — both of which qualities distinguished them sharply from the rest of the population, high and low—were not proba­bly due chiefly to the years of unremitting discipline to which they had been subjected. In a world from which discipline has almost entirely vanished, it was exhilarating to become associated with a class of men habituated to self-control and whose whole life and temperament had undergone the salutary influence of constant discipline.

Ruskin evidently felt much the same as I do about this matter, for, referring to his association at Woolwich with a certain Major Matson, he says: “Such calm type of truth, gentleness, and simplicity, as I have myself found in soldiers and sailors only, and so admirable to me that I have never been able since these Woolwich times, to gather myself up against the national guilt of war, seeing that such men were made by the discipline of it.” 44

Thus, even in his day, over a century ago, a shrewd observer of mankind was able to discern the charm and dignity of a class of men in England who, by virtue of their disciplined characters, stood promi­nently and advantageously to the fore, against the background of the more or less undisciplined multitude, high and low, composing the bulk of the population. What would he feel about the matter now?

One other question connected with the soldier’s duties and character occurs to me as I write, and it relates to the precise value we are to attach to the virtue known as bravery. It is easy to be cynical about this and, by pointing to the prevalence of this virtue among the lower animals and even among farmyard hens, to show what a primitive commonplace quality it is. De Quincey, for instance, speaking of Henri Quatre, says: “He had that sort of military courage which was and is more common than weeds.” 45

Or, again, it is easy to recognize the prominent role vanity plays in making even a poltroon simulate courage, and to ascribe all bravery to this source. Thus Rousseau says of bravery: “C’est la seule vanité qui nous rend téméraires; on ne l’est point quand on est vu de personne.” 46 Whilst Voltaire, in his Siècle de Louis XIV, says: “Quiconque a beau­coup de témoins de sa mort meurt toujours avec courage.”47

I’m afraid I must confess that the part I had to play as a gunner officer in World War I taught me that my courage is precisely of this kind—a fact disclosed to me during the Somme offensive of 1916. Among the duties of an artillery subaltern on a static front, such as ours was for weeks at a time, was that of going forward to the front-line trenches accompanied by two signalers and, with the help of either a periscope or field glasses, to direct the fire from his battery in the rear upon targets which his proximity to the enemy lines enabled him to pick out. The routine orders prescribed the use of the periscope for this work, for, although we all wore steel helmets, the accuracy of the German sharpshooters in the opposite trenches was so good that to expose one’s head above the front-line trench often meant instant death.

All of us were well aware of this. Yet it was customary, if not de rigueur, at least in my brigade, to scorn the use of the periscope and to scan the German Front with field glasses. When, therefore, at intervals of a few days it came to my turn to perform this duty, I found myself standing on the duckboards of the front-line trench with my signalers crouching safely beside me, watching me closely so as to pick up quickly and transmit any message I might give them. But although on these occasions I was always stiff with fear, I found it impossible to prevail upon myself to use the periscope. Like my brother-officers, I invariably looked across at the enemy trenches through the battery field glasses. I longed to do otherwise, but with those four eyes observing me I couldn’t. I was luckier than most, for I ultimately survived the war. Yet I was never for a moment deceived about the motives prompting me to behave in this apparently courageous manner. I knew it was due to pure vanity. I could not let my signalers think me less careless of my life than the subalterns they accompanied on other occasions.

As far as I was concerned, Rousseau and Voltaire were right, and when during World War II, I read Captain Liddell Hart’s Thoughts on War,48 I thought both Frenchmen abundantly confirmed, for in that book Liddell Hart, a recognized authority on military life and the science of warfare, says: “Man does not dare to show himself a coward under the eyes of the comrades with whom he shares his duty and his recreation. . . . It is a constant admission from the lips of brave soldiers that they were urged on by the fear of showing fear, of being thought afraid.”

Nevertheless, my knowledge of a number of regular army men I came across during World War I has convinced me that the statements I have quoted from Rousseau, Voltaire, and Liddell Hart do not contain the whole truth. The men I am thinking of possessed a kind of bravery completely divorced from all motives of vanity. They were congeni­tally fearless. Whether or not they were being observed, the thought of the dangers they were running never entered into their calculations. I am far from suggesting that this kind of lion-hearted courage is more common than that which is prompted by self-esteem alone. But I am satisfied that martial valor is by no means always the contemptible, secondary, and reactive virtue that Rousseau, Voltaire, de Quincey, and Captain Liddell Hart declare it to be.

Part III

Editor's Note:

What follows are selections from Confessions of an Anti-Feminist: The Autobiography of Anthony M. Ludovici, ed. John V. Day, ch. 5, “My Education, III (1916–1959).” The section headings are my creations. Unless otherwise indicated, all notes are by Ludovici. John V. Day’s notes are marked JVD. Mine are marked GJ. The full book remains unpublished.


When, after the Somme offensive in November 1916, I obtained leave and went to London, I put up at the Ivanhoe Hotel, Bloomsbury, where an excellent service was in operation for just such a miserable and vermin-ridden trench-rat as I was at the time. The management collected all my clothes and belongings, fumigated and cleaned them, and provided bathing arrangements for ridding men fresh from the Front of all lice and other vermin. Thus, to the great credit of the estab­lishment, I very soon felt a new man.

But not for long. Before forty-eight hours had elapsed I was running a high temperature and was taken to the officers’ hospital at Milbank, where I stayed three weeks. My disorder was trench fever, and it left me very weak. After a brief convalescence, Mackenzie the heart specialist forbade my immediate return to the Front, and I was posted to the Ministry of Munitions in Northumberland Avenue.

But not very much later, after I had faced three medical boards, I was told to report to the OC MI6 at the War Office, where my languages could be put to some use and where I contrived to make myself sufficiently useful to be retained. And after two years’ work in intelligence, in 1919, as General Staff Officer, third grade, with the rank of Captain, I rose to be the head of my department (MI6 A).

I considered myself lucky. I had escaped the inferno and slaughter of the Somme offensive almost unscathed. It seemed little short of a miracle, for again and again I had left a spot in a trench, at the gun position, or along the road to and from the wagon-line, only to see or hear a shell crash down on it a moment later. I often asked myself whether the prayers I knew my woman friends were offering up for me had anything to do with this extraordinary good fortune, but, although I used often to joke about these supplications and boast ironically about the immunity they procured me, secretly I suspected their efficacy.

The two years spent at the War Office gave me a good insight into the working of a large government department and, above all, into the mentality cultivated in the staff personnel by the duties they had to perform. It was interesting, too, to witness the complexity of the intrigues which preceded the King’s birthday and the compilation of the honors list, which in the official mind was its principal feature. I was duly awarded the MBE, but, with no wish to slight my superiors who had recommended me for it, as soon as I got out of uniform I resigned from the Order. I could not help feeling that there was some­thing degrading about accepting an honor which was an appeal to vanity alone, especially as the award placed me on a level with hundreds of typists, munitions workers, and clerks who, after all, had only done their duty in callings in which millions live and die without gaining any special distinction whatsoever. The light that genial writer, Miss E. M. Delafield, shed on the wartime worker, especially of the female sex, should suffice to temper anybody’s raptures about war service at home performed by both civilians and embusqués 49 in uniform, and expose the sentimental stupidity of the politicians who in the post-war period thought that women’s war service entitled them to be enfranchised.

When in World War II I was working under Colonel W. F. Stirling, he said I had made a mistake in resigning from the Order of the British Empire, because such awards are indications not merely of merit but also of capacity, and help subsequent employers to assess one’s suit­ability for a particular job. But I do not regret my action. Owing to the vast number who nowadays are included in an Order of the kind in question, it ceases altogether from being a distinction. One’s mind boggles at the thought that so many people, especially in the low-grade populations of the West, can have been capable of conduct so distin­guished as to justify so wide a distribution of honors, and the esteem in which the award is held must suffer accordingly.

Return To Civilian Life

I was demobilized in the late autumn of 1919, and from that time to this have been engaged in literary work of all kinds, from freelance journalism, translation (from both French and German), and novel-writing to the compilation of treatises on such unpopular subjects as anti-feminism, conservative politics, sex psychology, health, and even mythology 50. But of all this I shall speak in a later chapter. In 1920, however, my education was still far from finished. For not only did I marry in the March of that year, but in the course of the three ensuing decades I also had abundant opportunities, through lecturing and debating in public and by making and losing friendships, of learning yet more about what Fontenelle called “the danger” of “le commerce des hommes.”

It was during these thirty years, moreover, that I had three experi­ences of outstanding importance—my membership of the political society known as the English Mistery; my two visits to Hitler’s Germany and the chance this gave me of seeing a good deal of the leaders of the National Socialist Party, including, above all, Hitler himself; and my eighteen years as a smallholder in Suffolk, during which I contrived to be self-supporting to the extent of growing all my own fruit and vegetables, most of the grain for my fowls and the hay for my goats, and supplying all my dairy needs, including our butter and cream.

I have already spoken of my membership of the English Mistery and how it introduced me to a particularly virulent form of the Anglo-Saxon infirmity, the lack of solidarity — a defect which may account for most of the less attractive features of the English way of life, from its multiplicity of religious sects to the absence of any public spirit in the general population. “Chacun pour soi et Dieu pour tous”51 would be the most appropriate motto to inscribe beneath the Lion and the Unicorn, and it should long ago have been adopted. For, at bottom, it is this spirit that makes it difficult for the Anglo-Saxon even to understand, let alone to practice, the principle of freedom. In no country is more empty verbiage expended on the desirability and blessedness of freedom than in England. Yet in his own, and especially in his womenfolk’s, social behavior, an utter failure to grasp what freedom means is daily, if not hourly, displayed.

In their incurable habit of spreading litter wherever they choose to rest; in their reckless soiling of any pitch, whether on a beach or on field, which they temporarily occupy; in their fouling and disfigure­ment of public library books (in the Ipswich Public Library I have repeatedly found whole pages torn from dictionaries, railway timetables, and even encyclopedias); in the damage done by their offspring to public property in parks, on railways, and in institutions (for their children are never trained in habits of public-spiritedness); and in the creation of distracting noise and clamor—to mention but a few of their asocial traits—the English manifest, quite unconsciously no doubt, their inability to grasp what is implied by freedom and the practices it enjoins. I say “unconsciously,” and this, alas, is true, for unconscious activities being based on instinct are naturally more difficult than conscious ones to eradicate.

It is surely obvious that, if people are to be free to enjoy any natural or artificial amenity, those who precede them in enjoying these ameni­ties must not behave as if they were the only people on earth. Yet in England the majority of the population, whether on the highway or elsewhere, whether they are young or old, behave precisely as if they were their Maker’s unique creation, and it is probable that their lack of any capacity for solidarity and loyalty is also due to this failing. I shall return to this evil in due course; for the time being, it must suffice to point out that all the least pleasant consequences in both English poli­tics and social intercourse are probably accounted for by this same defect. “Après moi le déluge”52 might thus be added as a supplement to the motto already suggested for the national coat of arms.

All this I had indelibly imprinted on my mind during the years in which I was a prominent member of the English Mistery, and, if I owe this society nothing else, I am at least indebted to it for having con­firmed the lessons I had learned about “le commerce des hommes” when I was connected with the Nietzscheans and the New Age clique respectively.

Still, the English Mistery brought me some valued friendships. Many of these have of course by now been removed by death; but a few have endured until this day, and for this blessing I shall continue to feel grateful to the founders of the group.53

Hitler And The Third Reich

To them I am also indebted for opportunities I had of becoming acquainted with the leading government personalities and the social conditions of Germany during the Hitler regime, for, had I not through the Mistery become known to the personnel of the German Embassy in London, I should never have enjoyed this unique experience.

The movement certainly attracted the attention of many of the for­eign diplomats in London. Thus I met Signor Grandi, with whom I often had long talks. I cannot say that he impressed me very favorably; nor could I help being astonished to discover that Mussolini’s chief emissary in England could hardly express himself coherently in Eng­lish. Our dinners were also frequently attended by members of the German Embassy staff, as well as by the representatives of many political parties in France, Holland, and Sweden, all of whom wished to learn something about our aims and outlook. We were, therefore, not altogether surprised when in the spring of 1936 the so-called Chancel­lor of our society, William Sanderson, received an invitation from the authorities in Germany to come to Berlin as a guest of the Nazi Party. The idea was that he should meet the leading members of the govern­ment and become acquainted with some of the reforms and innovations introduced by the National Socialists since Hitler’s advent to power.

Sanderson accepted the invitation, and as I was the only German speaking member of the Mistery, and was in other respects the best qualified to be his companion, it was arranged that I should go with him.

We crossed over to the Hook of Holland on the night of the 30th of April, but neither of us was able to enjoy the luxury of our first-class deck cabins, for a dense fog enveloped us soon after we left Harwich, and the constant hooting of the ship’s fog signal throughout the journey prevented us from getting a wink of sleep. Owing to the slow pace at which our ship had been forced to travel, moreover, we reached the Hook too late for the boat train to Berlin, and when ultimately we reached the capital, shortly before midnight, instead of being in time for dinner, there was nobody to meet us, and it looked as if our hosts had given up all hope of seeing us that day. We were not too well impressed by this poor reception, especially when some time later we heard that no government official had heard about the heavy mist in the North Sea and the serious delay it had inevitably caused.

We were both famished and exhausted, and it was pelting with rain. However, I managed to find a taxi which drove us to the address I had been given by the embassy staff in London — i.e., at the Englischer Klubb near the Tiergarten 54 — and there we found a rather peeved and perplexed remnant of the company with whom we should have dined that evening, who, having given us up, were on the point of dispersing. We were astonished to hear that at the railway station they had heard nothing about the mist at sea, and that when the boat train had arrived they naturally inferred that we had not traveled on the night of April 30th as arranged. Incredibly bad management! For, even if the railway officials had been remiss in their duty, the party instructed to meet us at the station ought surely to have made exhaustive inquiries which would inevitably have elicited the facts.

They deplored our having missed the special dinner that had been prepared in our honor, ordered a snack supper which we found very welcome, and then drove us to the Hotel Splendide, a most luxurious hotel which was to be our headquarters throughout our stay.

As guests of the Nazi Party, who wished to introduce us to every aspect of the new Germany they were creating, we were not allowed much peace. Having given us a kind and considerate young Foreign Office official as a bear-leader, we were taken to all important meetings and driven round the country to inspect the various camps, training centers, and institutions which owed their existence to the new regime. As we had arrived just in time for the First of May celebrations, our first few days were pretty full.

In the course of our stay we were able to hear Hitler speak several times, and were always given such privileged seats at his meetings that we were able to get a close view of him and all his leading colleagues in the government. As Sanderson was partly blind and understood no German, I was compelled to be not only his visual aid but also his interpreter, and this compelled me to attend with particular care to all that was said and to all there was to see.

Of the whole bunch of men around Hitler, Blomberg—the C-in-C of that period—was by far the best and most distinguished-looking. The others — i.e., Goebbels, Himmler, Schirach, Hess, Funk, Ribbentrop, and Goering—all struck me as commonplace, if not actually common. I disliked Hess and Ribbentrop, but little Goebbels, with whom I dis­cussed Nietzsche, seemed to me rather attractive and the most intel­li­gent of the lot. At a lunch Ribbentrop gave us at the English Club I tried repeatedly to convince him that the opposition to the Nazi regime, and above all to Hitler’s often high-handed behavior vis-à-vis neighboring states, was much stronger in England, especially among influential Englishwomen, than he and his colleagues seemed to think; and I pointed out that women of all classes in England were inclined to resent any movement which, like the Nazi regime, was predominantly masculine in spirit. Incidentally, the unanimity with which English­women subsequently backed the war party in England, often against their menfolk’s views, abundantly confirmed my opinion of their atti­tude in 1936.

I had, however, little success with Ribbentrop, who seemed quite unconvinced. Before the luncheon party dispersed, therefore, I button-holed his secretary and begged him to repeat my warning to his chief. But judging from the generally protzig 55 attitude of many of the Party officials at that time, I doubt whether even he listened very sympatheti­cally to my appeal. Captain Fitzroy Fyers, as he was then, who happened also to be among the English guests at the 1936 Party Rally and who spent much time with me in Nürnberg, will remember that on the afternoon of September 12th, the last day of our stay, I told him that the greatest danger of all in my opinion was precisely this protzigkeit of the leading officials or the Party. It was particularly marked in Himmler, with whom I spent some time that same afternoon together with the Duchess of Brunswick and her charming daughter. I thought him most objectionable, and much as I liked the two ladies I was glad to part company with him.

Later that evening, however, I had the good fortune to come across the two ladies again, for I sat between them at the dinner Himmler gave us at the Police HQ, and I vividly remember something Frederika — the Kaiser’s granddaughter, now Queen of Greece — said to me. We were discussing English schools, and she told me that when she was at her English school (North Foreland Lodge, near Basingstoke) after World War I, and the whole school assembled for morning prayers, they often sang the Ancient and Modern hymn which has the same melody as Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles, and, as often as this happened, so she would have to cry. Ultimately, this was brought to the notice of the headmistress, who at once forbade the singing of that hymn as long as Frederika remained a pupil at the school.

My two most pleasant memories of Nazi Germany are my meeting with this young lady and her mother and my visit to the Duke of Saxe-Coburg in the previous May. His Grace was a most charming personal­ity and our talk during the tea he gave Sanderson and me at his house in or near Berlin was one of my most interesting experiences during that first visit to Nazi Germany.

I must have heard Hitler speak in public about a dozen times, but I met him to talk to only once, at the Englischer Hof Hotel in September 1936, where he gave the whole of the English visitors a tea. I was perhaps too much preoccupied in studying his features to do more than exchange a few words about Nietzsche with him, but I had time to have a good look at his hands and to observe his manner in private inter­course. He was extraordinarily self-possessed among us all and very gracious in the attention he paid to every one of his guests in turn. A moment later I heard him arguing animatedly with a man whom I believed to be Ward Price of the Daily Mail. 56 But it all ended in a good laugh, so I assumed that the argument had been friendly.

One was easily carried away by the amazing eloquence, sincerity, and passion of his public utterances, and no-one who has heard him and who was capable of understanding what he said could fail to appreciate the reason of his irresistible appeal to all classes of the community. Many hostile critics, especially women, have led their English readers to believe that there was something hysterical and even pathological about his oratory and manner in public. But after watching him with particular care during many of his addresses, I saw no sign of anything of the sort. All about me in the audience were retired generals and field officers, professional men of all ages, and dignified sexagenarians who had had distinguished careers as judges, magistrates, university profes­sors, etc., and I refuse to believe that they could have sat there, listen­ing as reverently as they did, often with tears trickling down their cheeks, if they had been aware of any of the contemptible characteris­tics which hostile and bitterly biased English reporters imagined they saw in his public demeanor.

Unfortunately, the falsehoods these people fabricated for the consumption of the ignorant newspaper-reader in England were only too readily accepted as facts, and of course enjoyed, by all those who were anxious to disparage the German leader. How distant seemed the days when even a Russian general could punish a subordinate for sneering at Napoleon, and that century BC when a Caesar could praise his enemies!

One last word about Hitler and I shall not need to discuss him further.

In this intellectually servile and sterile age, when both the high and the low in the land are equally sequacious and subservient, propaganda pays handsomely, whether in commercial advertising or in inculcating upon the population the opinions which the Establishment think it good for us to hold. Now, among these opinions none has been more dili­gently dinned into us than that the German people’s acceptance of Hitler must indicate some morbid and unpleasant flaw in the German mentality. And as in modern England it suffices for such a view to be stated only once by some recognized member of the Establishment for it to be immediately taken up and re-echoed by thousands of lesser people, it follows that today one can hardly open a book or listen to a BBC broadcast in which it is not emphatically stated that, in accepting with almost complete unanimity a “mental defective” such as Hitler, the German nation gave proof of its fundamental perversity.

A typical presentation of this view, which can now be found para­phrased in innumerable forms by prominent English people, from Mr. Robert Birley, the Head of Eton, to the most ignorant female journalist, is that made by Colin Welch in his review of William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, when he asked: “Why on earth, for instance, did such a richly gifted people as the Germans prostitute themselves to become the tools of a maniac?”

Now, apart from the fact that the author of this rhetorical outburst, like all those who now obediently toe the Establishment’s line, takes for granted that his readers, who in other contexts would pride them­selves on demanding the evidence, will meekly accept the statement that Hitler was in fact a maniac, can the host of parrots who repeat this rengaine 57 about the German people’s turpitude in accepting Hitler ever have asked themselves what Hitler meant to Germany in the decades following World War I?

The minute minority of Englishmen who happen to be well-informed do not need to be reminded of Germany’s outstanding achievements in scholarship, science, music, philosophy, and poetry, or to be told that a nation possessing the record of which she could justly boast in 1914 must necessarily have her pride, her consciousness of high endowments, entitling her to feel a worthy example of what Euro­pean civilization has so far produced. When, therefore, such a nation is humiliated, vilified, and degraded as Germany was after World War I, the pain it undergoes is naturally proportionate to the honorable posi­tion it knew itself to have reached in the family of Western peoples. The blow to its self-esteem must have been — could not help having been — staggering.

Let anyone, even outside this minute minority of well-informed Englishmen, imagine what England would have felt had she been similarly humiliated, or merely recall what England did feel after the retreat from Dunkirk, and the whole picture assumes a different aspect.

It was thus to a Germany still suffering acutely from the wounds of such a humiliation that suddenly someone appeared who contrived to restore the country’s self-esteem and helped it to recover its self-respect and sense of worthiness. Naturally, inevitably, the response was one of rapturous gratitude and affection. Even if Hitler had really been the monster the Establishment wished us to believe he was, the enthusiastic response to his appeal would still be comprehensible.

Had not no less a person than Lord Lothian expressed his admira­tion for the conditions introduced by Hitler’s regime? Nor, as we know, was he by any means the only Englishman who felt this way. In the Times of the 1st of February 1934, speaking of National Socialism, he had written that it has given “Germany unity where it was terribly divided; it has produced a stable government, and restored to Germany national self-respect and international standing.”

These are the words of a sincere Liberal. Do they indicate that the charge of lunacy against Hitler and his administration was justified? Besides, we must remember that the German nation’s humiliation after 1918 was not confined to the terms of the Versailles Treaty. There was also the degradation and deep injury inflicted on them by Allied troops, who occupied their country for years after the armistice. As a tourist it was not possible to learn the full magnitude of these injuries, but I remember when I visited friends in Düren in 1922 that the account I was given of the behavior of the French black troops in the town appalled both my wife and myself.

“The Germans, a proud people,” says Mr. Abel J. Jones, “were reduced to such a state of humiliation as to welcome anyone, however unlikely or dangerous, promising to restore their confidence and pride.”58

The intelligence and understanding, not to mention the charity, revealed in this passage are admittedly quite exceptional in present-day “fair-minded” England, and show a defiance of the Establishment remi­niscent of more creditable eras in British history than that covered by the last thirty years. But the fact that at least one Englishman can have been found to express such a view suggests that, in any case, as recently as 1945 some good sense and psychological insight still existed in the nation.

The Second World War

I can speak only briefly about my experiences during World War II, for they were too galling to be comfortably related in detail. The spirit of witch-hunting which suddenly possessed the English people after their humiliation at Dunkirk, and which, fomented by the authorities and the press, prompted everybody with a secret grudge to practice delation and slander quite free of any risk, led to a state of affairs when malice, envy, or merely the pleasure of twisting a neighbor’s tail made life intolerable for anyone who had, however unwittingly, offended the sanity of those about him.

For after the unprecedented and wholesale defeat of the British army in northeastern France and Flanders in 1940, when 112,546 Allied and 224,585 British soldiers, most of whom had abandoned their arms and equipment, were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk, it proved an immense solace to the English people, and greatly helped to salve their wounded self-esteem, to be told that the Allied forces had not been beaten or outwitted by any superior military strength or genius, but had simply been let down. The inference being that, although militarily, everybody, including the politicians and the higher command, had been brilliantly efficient and that the advance into Belgium—an error subse­quently exposed by all knowledgeable critics — had denoted no major deviation from modern scientific strategy, the whole disaster had been the outcome of quisling and fifth-column activities within the Allied ranks and populations.

The general public did not of course know, and were never told, that the debacle had been due, as Captain Liddell Hart subsequently pointed out, to “the essential misunderstanding of modern warfare by the Allied leaders, political and military,” and that “the French army paved the way for its own defeat because it failed to adopt or develop a defensive technique suited to modern conditions.” 59 The common people, there­fore, especially in England, eagerly swallowed the canard about fifth-column activities as the major cause of the defeat. Their cruelly out­raged self-esteem was thus salved, and the authorities were able to conceal from the nation the enormity of the reverse and the culpability of those responsible for it.

The cry of “quisling” and “fifth columnist” had, however, the inevita­ble result of giving every knave, every failure, every fool envious of another’s way of life or of his gifts, the opportunity to vent his venom. With his hand on his heart, everybody thenceforth had a patriotic excuse for injuring a fellow-citizen. Suspicion alone was enough.

I, for one, was soon made aware of the speed with which many of my dear neighbors in Upper Norwood who had resented my anti-Christian attitude or my hostile criticism of feminism and democracy, together with many of my former associates in the English Mistery, seized the chance of maligning and casting suspicion upon me, and by the 29th of May 1940 two detectives from Croydon Police HQ called to question me about my “anti-Allied” opinions. I managed to appease their apprehensions, and they left.

Purged From MI6

A little later, at the office where I was engaged in intelligence work, however, I gathered that searching inquiries were being made con­cerning my ideological suitability for the post, and, despite emphatic protests and even apologies from my two chiefs, Colonel Stirling and Colonel Backhouse, these inquiries culminated in my being summarily dismissed on the 14th of August 1940.

From Colonel Backhouse I learned that the gravamen of the charges against me was my membership of the Right Club, a group professing political views of the extreme Right and directed especially against communism, to which, in view of my record, I naturally felt myself affiliated. But in expressing his regret for what had happened, Colonel Backhouse said: “It all shows how careful we should be in choosing our associates.”

In vain did I retort both to him and the naval head of our branch of the intelligence service that among these very associates was none less than the Duke of Wellington, the president of the club, and that an ordinary commoner like myself might surely be excused if he thought that a group thus led must be above any suspicion of national disloy­alty. I also pointed out that, as every fellow-officer in my department knew, I had openly displayed the badge of the Right Club, a silver spread-eagle, on my lapel and had explained to both Colonel Stirling and Colonel Backhouse what it stood for. Was this the sort of conduct that might be expected of a member of a seditious organization? Both merely shrugged their shoulders and, whilst admitting the cogency of my pleas, professed themselves unable to alter the decision of the authorities. As I was then due for promotion in my department and had even had an interview with Colonel Backhouse about it (for by that time Stirling had left), it has often struck me that among those who may have had a share in maligning me there may have been one or two who aspired to the position I was due to fill.

Meanwhile, under Regulation 18B scores of people as innocent as I was myself of any seditious activities or intentions, including Captain A. H. M. Ramsay, MP, had been arrested and sent to prison without trial. What had happened to habeas corpus, which Dr. Johnson said was the one feature of English life which made England superior to any Continental country?

But no sign of protest came from the nation at large, and even in Parliament the protests against arresting and imprisoning people on the grounds of suspicion alone and for holding views unsympathetic to the authorities were both feeble and unsupported. Historically, however, the dictatorial methods of the authorities acting on the strength of Regulation 18B were a complete innovation. Everybody knew perfectly well that at the end of the nineteenth century, when the Liberals, including Lloyd George, had, as Sir Sidney Low and Lloyd C. Sanders maintain, denounced the Boer War “as a crime and a blunder committed not by the Boers, but by the imperial Cabinet at the instigation of the Rand financiers,” and had been dubbed “Little Englanders,” no disaster had overtaken them, any more than it had overtaken the many promi­nent people who had opposed the war policy of the government in Napoleon’s day. Again in 1914, we had seen men as distinguished as Lord Morley and John Burns oppose the Government of their day on the question of war with Germany, and they had done so with impunity. They were no more suspected of disloyalty to the nation than Lord Lansdowne was when in 1917 he had wisely but ineffectively pleaded in favor of making peace.

Thus, to all my friends and myself there appeared to be nothing calling for either secrecy or fear in our openly disagreeing with the government over the policy of war with Germany in 1939, and as the Right Club was particularly determined in this matter we were anxious to support it.

What was my surprise, therefore, when on the 14th of October 1940 I suddenly became aware of the fact that I must have more formidable enemies conspiring against me than some of my Norwood neighbors and my colleague at the office, for, on returning home in the evening of that day, I found my wife and Alice Cook (our faithful retainer) in a state of extreme agitation, and was told that three detectives from the Special Branch, Scotland Yard, had spent the whole day searching our house from top to bottom.

What they expected or hoped to find, I cannot imagine. But they must have felt confident of pouncing on some incriminating evidence, for their search had been prolonged and exhaustive. To say that, like Tolstoy, when his house, Yasnaya Polyana, was searched by the police, I was “insane with rage,”60 would be an understatement. For the outrage committed against me was not only quite gratuitous, but also com­pletely and flatly contradicted by everything I had since my early childhood been led to believe about the English way of life, with its alleged freedom of opinion and judgment.

Never could I have imagined that such a Terror could arise against any minority group in England of the twentieth century on the score of their opinions alone. Having as a young man read with agreement and conviction Buckle’s History of Civilization in England, 61 where, much too hastily as it has now proved, he proudly drew the conclusion that henceforward no man in this country was ever again likely to be perse­cuted for his opinions, I was now faced with the disquieting truth that, after all, the whole of England’s alleged respect for private judgment—the whole of the democratic boast, in fact—had never been more than a fair-weather policy. The much vaunted tolerance, by virtue of which England had for centuries been basking in the admiration and envy of the Continent, had proved no more than a pretence, and its greatest dupes, like Montesquieu and Voltaire, had unfortunately not lived to discover its hollowness.

“Yes,” says the defender of Regulation 18B, “but do not war condi­tions create an emergency situation and justify a tightening of the attitude towards deviationists who in peacetime may be ignored?” Surely the reply to this is that a principle that is observed only when no claim is put upon it is nothing but a fair-weather expedient. It is like a sheet-anchor of papier-mâché, carried along to give a crew a factitious sense of security. Unfortunately, both Continentals and the more knowledgeable among English people had for centuries believed that this sheet-anchor could be put to the test.

But to recover the thread of my narrative, soon after breakfast on the morning following the search of my house, the Special Branch, Scot­land Yard, telephoned to say that I must doubtless be anxious to know why my house had been ransacked, and, as they wished to interview me, they would like to see me at the Yard as soon as possible.

It was five minutes past eleven am on Friday the 8th of October 1940 when I was invited to sit at a bare table in a bare room on one of the upper floors of the building, and found myself facing a dark young man who had in front of him what appeared to be my dossier. In a gloomy corner of the room to my left sat another young man, fair and distinguished looking and about the same age as my vis-à-vis.

I felt pretty sure that these two fellows were not going to be my only listeners and that by some secret device all I said would be heard and weighed by a more senior officer in another room. Little purpose would be served by my attempting to give even a brief summary of all that passed between me and my examiners. I need only say that I was asked to give an account not only of my opinions on current affairs and of my political views, but also to describe the whole of my career as an adult.

I spoke almost uninterruptedly from 11:05 am to the close of the interview at 12:40 pm, and spent much of the time disentangling the political views I had held since writing my Defence of Aristocracy from the complex of Fascist and Nazi doctrine. For apart from the absurd identification made by most superficial English men and women at that time of Fascist and Nazi views with the traditional attitude of the Eng­lish Right — a confusion largely engineered and encouraged by the communists who wished to discredit conservative politics — there pre­vailed at this period in the war much more popular sympathy (espe­cially among influential women) with Leftish views than with opinions consistent with the English Right.

By referring to my own books, I was fortunately able to show that I had never once departed from the old Tory position, and I told my examiners that when I had been a member of the Mistery I had repeat­edly warned my associates against confusing our attitude with that of the Continental Fascists. I was moreover able to tell the two young men before me something about the motives animating those whom I suspected of having informed against me. For during the interview one of my examiners had said: “I think we ought to tell you that quite a number of important people have testified against you.” This led me to explain why I, together with such old associates as Lord Lymington (now the 9th Earl of Portsmouth), had seceded from the Mistery and to point out that, although we felt we could no longer support the move­ment, quite a number of important people not sympathizing with our reasons for quitting it — or, what was more probable, never having been told what these reasons were — still belonged to it. And I added that, among these important people (one of whom I actually named), there must naturally be a few who, having accepted the hostile explanation of our defection, would imagine they were performing a patriotic duty in denouncing me.

I think this explanation, together with the fact that I had been able to name one of the VIPs who was already probably known to the Yard as having informed against me, rather impressed my examiners, but, at any rate, precisely at 12:40 pm I was told I could leave the building as a free man, and I was never again either questioned or importuned by any member of the Special Branch. Indeed, with the detective, Mr. Mann, who was my examiner-in-chief at this deplorable interview, my rela­tions subsequently became quite friendly.

Like the less fortunate of the examinees — I refer to those who were ultimately imprisoned without trial—I was asked about my attitude to the Jews. I could not readily see the relevance of this question in connection with any suspected disloyalty to England. For what had a man’s private views about the Jews to do with his national loyalty? However, I replied by pointing out that I was no more anti-Semitic than I was anti-English. But, as I regarded both the English and the Jews as essentially particularists in Henri de Tourville’s sense,62 I feared they were both inclined to behave in an asocial manner and to abide too rigidly by the principle, après moi le déluge—the Jews owing to their nomadic, and the English owing to their Northern and Scandinavian, ancestry.

The point is explained in “Transform Society’s Values,” my contribution to Gentile and Jew: A Symposium on the Future of the Jewish People, edited by Chaim Newman (London: Alliance Press, 1945), 165–85.

As I strongly suspected that Scotland Yard had been told of my anti-Semitic views by my old associates of the Mistery, who were well aware of how damaging in 1940 the charge could be, I took the oppor­tunity, when later on Detective Mann paid me a friendly visit, to lay a strange document before him. It consisted of a letter addressed to me in 1918 by the very man, the head of the English Mistery, whom in 1940 I suspected of having instigated the conspiracy against me, and it contained his severe rebuke to me for having depicted with too much fairness and favor the Jewish character of Dr. Melhado in my first novel, Mansel Fellowes. 63

Mann asked me why on earth I had not brought this letter to Scot­land Yard in October 1940. I explained that I had only recently turned it up among my papers, otherwise I should certainly have done so. However, I think Mann must have reported the matter to his superiors, and the Mistery testimony must have suffered accordingly.

Internal Exile

My education, though not yet finished, was nearing completion. I had yet a long, new and grueling experience to undergo, and that was my life as a smallholder in the heart of rural Suffolk from April 1941 to June 1959. It was a valuable experience for a townsman born and bred like myself and I do not regret it. For during those eighteen years, although the work was hard, the life was wholesome, and it enabled my wife and me to enjoy the great luxury of eating fruit and vegetables fresh from the garden and of supplying all our needs in milk, butter, cream, and eggs.

But all this, together with many other experiences of rural life is related in my book, The English Countryside, 64 so that I need not dwell any longer on our life at The Homestead, Rishangles, and on all we learned and did there. Suffice it to say that, although in those eighteen years of comparative exile I never obtained many lessons from my grandmother in the art of sucking eggs, I was certainly able in the end to give her one or two useful hints about the performance of the operation.


1 Sidney Harry Wright - GJ.

2 Published by Hutchinson in 1903 under the pseudonym of H. W. G. Hyrst. — JVD. Sidney Harry Wright also published a number of books on hunting, fishing, exploration, and adventure under his own name. — GJ.

3 Dueling scars — JVD.

4 Casualness — JVD.

5 Additions and Omissions — JVD.

6 The World as Will and Representation — JVD.

7 Schopenhauer as Educator, 1874, II.

8 The Ladies of Dead Cross — JVD.

9 Black Hat — JVD.

10 On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry — JVD.

11 From My Life and Elective Affinities — JVD.

12 “Enduring love is always a sign of spiritual affinity.” — JVD.

13 Anthony M. Ludovici, The Choice of a Mate (London: John Lane The Bodley Head, 1935).—GJ.

14 Causeries de lundi, VIII: La Fontaine. “Not very idealistic and not very mystical by nature.” — JVD.

15 Anthony M. Ludovici, Personal Reminiscences of Auguste Rodin (London: John Murray, 1926). — GJ.

16 Rainer Maria Rilke, Auguste Rodin (Berlin: Julius Bard, 1903) — GJ.

17 Cab-driver — JVD.

18 Secondary school teacher — JVD.

19 Ludovici wrote these words in 1961 or 1962. — GJ.

20 See Ludovici’s book Jews, and the Jews in England (London: Boswell Publishing, 1938), published under the pen name Cobbett.—TOQ.

21 Anthony M. Ludovici, Mansel Fellowes (London: Grant Richards, 1918). — GJ.

22 Thoughts out of Season', The Twilight of the Idols, The Anti-Christ, The Will to Power, and Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) — JVD. Ludovici also translated The Case of Wagner', Nietzsche Contra Wagner, and Selected Aphorisms for The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Vol. 8 (Edinburgh: T. N. Foulis, 1911; New York: Macmillan, 1924).—GJ.

23 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols: Or, How to Philosophise with the Hammer; The Antichrist; Notes to Zarathustra, and Eternal Recurrence, The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Vol. 16 (Edinburgh: T. N. Foulis, 1911). — GJ.

24 Unpaid labor — JVD.

25 “Child and Marriage” — JVD.

26 Chill — JVD.

27 Women and Men — JVD.

28 In spite of ourselves — JVD.

29 The house wine was free of charge. — JVD.

30 1885.

31 May 22, 1878.

32 The Letters of a Post-Impressionist: Being the Familiar Correspondence of Vincent Van Gogh, ed. and trans. Anthony M. Ludovici (London: Constable, 1912; Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1913).

33 Anthony M. Ludovici, Personal Reminiscences of Auguste Rodin (London: John Murray, 1926; Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1926).

34 “Confusion in the arts,” The Contemporary Review 192 (1957): 106–10 — JVD.

35 Mood — JVD.

36 “There are few things as difficult but also as dangerous as dealing with men” — JVD.

37 Mémoires, 1935 edition, preface. “In political parties, living with those who belong to them is more difficult than taking action against those who oppose them” — JVD

38 Op. cit., Part I, p. 25. “I believe that it needs greater qualities to make a good party leader than a good emperor of the universe” — JVD.

39 An Anglo-Indian term for a disciple or novice—JVD.

40 “God knows what you would do, my dear friend, if you’d been a soldier!” — JVD.

41 “The Return of the Veteran,” The Nineteenth Century and After 91 (1922): 349–64 — JVD.

42 Anthony M. Ludovici, The Taming of Don Juan (London: Hutchinson, 1924).

43 Anthony M. Ludovici, “The British War-Horse on the Somme,” The Nineteenth Century and After 89 (1921): 727–39 — TOQ.

44 Praeterita, 1885–1889, Volume II, Chapter 8. For a further eulogy of the soldier by Ruskin, see Unto this Last, 1862, Essay I.

45 Posthumous Works, XVI: Suspira Profundis.

46 Émile, Book II. “Foolhardiness is the result of vanity; we are not rash when no-one is looking” — JVD.

47 Chapter 27. “Whoever has many witnesses of his death always dies with courage” — JVD.

48 Lidell Hart, Thoughts on War (London: Faber & Faber, 1944), especially 86 and 87.

49 French soldiers who had a safe or easy posting — JVD.

50 Ludovici mentions later in this same chapter (see p. 50 below), that he was dismissed from intelligence work on August 14, 1940. Thus it appears that Ludovici continued working for MI6 until then — GJ.

51 “Everyone for himself and God for all” — JVD.

52 “After me, the deluge” — JVD.

53 In the 1970 typescript Ludovici names these friends as the Earl of Portsmouth (previously known as Lord Lymington), Major Fitzroy Fyers, Jack Burton, Charles Challen, and Geoffrey Wilson, MP for Truro — JVD.

54 Zoo — JVD.

55 Truculent or arrogant — JVD.

56 Author of I Know These Dictators (London: George A. Harrap & Co., 1937; revised edition, 1938) and Extra-Special Correspondent (London: George A. Harrap & Co., 1957) — JVD.

57 Same old story — JVD.

58 Abel J. Jones, In Search of Truth (London: Th. Nelson & Sons Ltd., 1945), ch. 3, 2.

59 Liddell Hart, Dynamic Defence (London: Faber & Faber, 1940).

60 Tikhon Polner, Tolstoy and his Wife (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1946), ch. 4, 3.

61 Volume I, 1857, Chapter 7.

62 The point is explained in “Transform Society’s Values,” my contribution to Gentile and Jew: A Symposium on the Future of the Jewish People, edited by Chaim Newman (London: Alliance Press, 1945), 165–85.

63 Anthony M. Ludovici, Mansel Fellowes (London: Grant Richards, 1918).

64 Although Ludovici left money in his last will for The English Countryside to be published after his death, along with these Confessions, the book has never appeared in print. Typescripts of these two works are held by the Special Collections Division of Edinburgh University Library — JVD.

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