MB: living and writing the early days of parks canada

MB Williams to AB Buckley, June 1936

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[Letterhead]
Telegraphic Address
Elagamont, London
3 lines
Telephone No.
Whitehall 3081

Visitors Room,
9, Waterloo Place,
Pall Mall, S.W.1.

June 8/36.

Dearest

            Your nice letter arrived this morning. I knew you would understand and sympathise about the book. It’s not going very well. I have five chapters written out of the eight but I feel the thing is a bit vague. I shall have to do a lot of re-shaping and as not believe I can possibly get it done for July 1st. You see, darling, I just haven’t the old

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capacity to work long hours at a stretch. Really I should only work in the mornings and play in the afternoons. Go off in Baberts and lie on a hillside and listen to the waterfalls falling and the bumblebees buzzing & perhaps flirt a bit with a nice man. – I have been trying to work all day & it just won’t do. So I have decided to ask the publisher for another month. If he won’t allow it, well I’m sorry but I made up my mind to-day

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that there were two things I wasn’t going to do. (1) make myself sick over it (2) put out a book I didn’t think good enough and I shall tell him so & he can do what he likes about it. Wow! I feel better already. Just to tell you about it.

            I am sending on your two articles & the petition to the Committee here. I thought they would

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like to know about it.

            I am afraid to have you send the Biron, Dearest, because I don’t know about the English law. Wait till I have more leisure then I’ll make enquiries here.

            Nice to feel your dear & helpful sympathy – that is a very wonderful thing. A little ‘wind of kisses’ now & then would help, too, but I get them even through the cold paper, & the little bird’s feather that comes from the nest in Kaz. What a memory to have. It’s marvelous to have done a thing like that. It means something for eternity, somewhere. [Pen]

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I have just got to know some members of a group who are working for betterment here. Such a nice man, who is the editor of an “Animals Welfare” paper, but a complete cripple. We had a good talk & he wants me to do some writing for him & to speak at a conference on Nat’l Parks - wild life conservation in Canada. But he is interested in the social movement too. If you will send me the date of that extract from the Bankers Mag. I will get him to publish it widely over here. I’ll write for the Ang. Cath. Pamphlets & other things you mention. Am sending you Vernon Bartlett’s new magazine The World Review of Reviews. It gives a good resumé of the international situation from the eyes of the other nations who don’t regard England with quite the lofty approval she accords herself.

            Your last budget of “columns” was very hot stuff. Sometimes I am almost afraid somebody will knock you on the head or

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run you into jail. You are absolutely fearless but I suppose you know how to circumvent the Libel Law. R.B.B. would enjoy sticking a little knife into you. I am sure. But it's simply splendid, darling, to see how busy & useful you are. It’s a big responsibility too, just now, shaping public opinion.

            As you say, a great deal of the best thought over here is moving to socialism. I am told Oxford is strongly socialistic & so secretly is the King. Someone who is very well informed told me he didn’t want the crown at all but was only persuaded to take it because he was made to see he could really do more as king than any other way. But he complained it wasn’t a man’s job. (This isn’t for publication) but it may be true, & if so, it’s good.

            Yes, I saw after I wrote you, that you had changed the Burglary play

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but the whole thing is coming more & more unstuck every day.

            Here is a nice little bit about the king for that little play you spoke of. An M.P. tells the story in the last Nash’s Mag. He said he took him through the unemployed areas [lanon] & the Clyde, before the last election & what the king said about the housing conditions was almost too strong to print. One Conservative organizer remarked, “Every time that fellow opens his mouth he loses us 100,000 votes.” In a few weeks the king (then P. of W.) wanted to make another trip to the north. Influence was brought to bear to dissuade him but he would go. So the powers decided the next best thing would be to keep the visit as quiet as possible. Not let the press know. However the P. of W. heard of this & he deliberately gave the

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visit as much publicity as possible & personally arranged that all the press men should be there to take down everything he said about the conditions.

            It’s a new era when a reigning sovereign refuses not only a private train but even a private coach & travels down to Sandringham in a 1st class carriage (reserved) carrying his own dispatch case. Looks a bit nearer to Plato’s philosopher king.

            All this for chit-chat by the fire, dearest. While we are “warming up.” Time now to slip into silk & relax & lie back & look at the fire together. The world well-lost. Ah! Those pine knot fires!  What a lovely thing they were in themselves. One could write a poem about pine-knots.

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The lovely little cracklings & whip snappings & the wonderful architecture of the flames. What a lot of things we had. Do you have wood fires in B.C. or beach-fires. I could imagine the smell of red cedar logs burning and a bed of boughs in a little tent near the sea. Sort of Kaz. all night long. Smell of pines, murmur of sea added. My dearest do you know that it is 15 years this summer since Kaz. It was a sort of Great Divide moreover wasn’t it, or was it for you too. Like Alice Meynell’s essay on going down to Italy. For a time all the rivers are running north. Then one crosses the height of land and all the waters began to run south, towards warmth & light and flowers. You could make a poem out of that.

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I can feel how your white silk shirt felt yet. The silk so cool, with the warm flow underneath & your heart beating harder & harder. I didn’t know what that meant then. It's good to remember that we counted most of the happy moments. That we didn’t let many slip. That must be the bitterest regret of all “the might have beens.” We squeezed our little orange family dry of juice each time but there was always just as much next time.

            Rather marvellous old world, wonder if life keeps anything like that hidden for us after we are done with it. I can always imagine so much more than is possible but I can’t quite get around to R.B.’s [[Browning’s]] “all we have willed, or dreamed or hoped of good shall exist.” Can you?

            Oh love, dear love, why aren’t you here this moment to hold me up & make me laugh.

[Pen]

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M.B. Williams, “MB Williams to AB Buckley, June 1936,” MB: Living and Writing the Early Years of Parks Canada, accessed November 21, 2017, http://mbwilliams.academic-news.org/items/show/11.

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