12 April 1978
Your letter of April 7th has come to me, my dear Mark. ---
Top left corner p.1 is a note as to my letter to 'International '. I am confused by this. What did I send you – you describe it as 'cut' – addressed to a quarter of that designation? - I have more to keep in immediate and general mind than can, perfectly [sic] I can't place 'International'.
Thanks for writing as to the theft matter. Sally [Chilvers] has already written to me on this, mentioning the name [a second-hand book-dealer] in so doing - at least the surname. I quite comprehend how my friends, learning of this and that ugliness related to me in some way deliberate on what can be done abut it , and in their deliberations are moved by a concern that I be bothered and worried by such things to the least possible. However, it is very important that – bothersome or worrisome, or worse, though such things may be, come to my knowledge, be it but as things not known with specific identifiableness, be regarded as what I, whatever my physical or practical difficulties, or harassment by other ugliness of treatment of things of mine, work of mine, aspects of my life – that be regarded as the point of first responsibilities in all such things. It is I who have the living governorship ultimately of all such procedures as to such things, the responsibility of appraising them in relating to my experience of the subject and object of very much of the ugly in my regard. Which is not to lay it down that I expect my friends to hurry to me every rumor in that category come into their hearing, acquaintance. For example, before any action as to tracing this man is decided on by any of you, I ought to be consulted about this, as to my view of it all: what could he have come into possession of, from my extensive knowledge of all there was, and what has been done with books, papers, etc, of mine, from the Mallorca center of ugly doings with things of mine and as to myself. In the total consideration of discretion as to my procedure, my wishes should have an active part in the deciding what to do, if anything. I am not debilitated in respect to responsibilities of deliberation and decision as to procedures in such things. I am very tired, and I have a heavy mixed load of responsibility, practical and general, to tug along. I am no ingrate. I tug my load the better for the care and concern I know you exert in my regard in feeling and doing. But there should be no considerable degree of sparing me anything to be known as to matters involving myself. None of you can spare me the crucial responsibilities of decision; and, on the whole, I, ought to be liberally counted on to conduct myself without excess of perturbatation in relation to particular skullduggeries come into the knowledge of any of you. I don’t regard any of you as wrongly withholding anything from me. I don't regard you as having wrongly referred to what was talked when you and Sally [Chilvers] and Alan [Clark] were together. The case is that this question, this matter of what to tell me, what not, has arisen among my friends, and of their love and care for me they have tried to do their best for me, as to these things. It was inevitable that I should be brought into the Council of the best to do in such matters as discoveries of more skullduggeries or possible skullduggeries.
Dear Mark! - Do not let this that has arisen for writing on make you represent yourself to me as ‘an awkward booby’. Do not mortgage future of our relations with that provision - that you will be found to be so by me when we meet. Whatever there might arise needing my excuse or forgiving will be excused or forgiven ( according to what is called for) you by me as Mark.
I am sending Sally [Chilvers]and Jim [Matthias]a copy of this letter so that there will be this immediateness of all three to one another as to such problems - a same presentation of my feelings about such difficulties to you all. I shall probably send along the further pages of this letter, so that the matter written on p.1 will not come to Sally and Jim [Mathias] with the stress upon it as of being an isolated communication item.
Jim [Matthias] has a copy of that John Cotton [Note 1] printing of the passage from Rational Meaning - Alan, also. J.C. was generous to his limit - the printing was small.
As to what Stephen Wall (is it?) editor of Essays In Criticism wrote to you on his rejecting your and Alan's Bias article: Essays In Criticism is not a friendly quarter towards me. They turned down Michael's [Kirkham] review of Selected Poemsas being too favorable. Cambridge Quarterly took it, later. --- What the deuce was he doing in making mention of having not accepted my article on Doughty. He says ‘regretfully unable to print it’. No responsible mind should commit itself to such a confidence to an author if a rejected submitted article involving the author of the previously rejected article mentioned without explaining just why he mentions it. - But let this go: don't raise it with him. - I think you should not be cross with his ‘uneconomically written’. Nor with his words as to there may well be much in what you say. You ought to keep it more in mind just what the mental and other makeup of the person with whom you are treating is. That, in the first place, this is likely to be touchy territory for anything of the sort on Graves , and others put through the mill of your criticism , with myself, my work, on the other side. There's no need to pre-imagine it all as hopelessly hostile or indifferent territory. But there is need of knowing roughly the nature of the area into which you head with your offering – for capability, of withdrawing, and turning elsewhere if there seems to [be] elsewhere (not a certainty!) with lots of internal poise and some external poise also. I’m sorry the American magazines responded as they did but not surprised. There are some little ones, littler than Mass [Massachusetts], and Hudson reviews – but so far I have not come into knowledge of any that seem to me to have some editorial poise (sorry for that word – I mean discretion, rather).
I think what you had better do, before you propose it to any other mag. is to send it to me, so that I can reevaluate what you have – which is a good deal – gutted from commentary of mine. Also, I am uneasy as to the status of Alan, as co-author with you. Has he interested himself in the revisions. Has he approved what you have done in revision, if he has not done any himself? Please, inform me as to this. Hold back, will you mind doing so, as to Stand, until I have had another look at the article as you would next present it somewhere? I shall ask Theodore [Wilentz, Note 2] about possibilities in U.S.A. for it after I have seen it in its final state. biw. [sic]
Mark, my meaning, and what I wrote, as to the Plath article3 was that Alan should have the magazine issue itself, when George [Fraser] and possibly E. [Edwin] Morgan if interested had seen it – or a xerox copy of it, if that's how the matter worked out. My point was that Alan should be regarded as the ultimate possessor of it. I considered him entitled to this courtesy, for his bibliographic relation to my writings in the first place, and from respect for his assiduous application to acquaintance with everything of mine, of which his collection – with which I have helped him to my powers – is evidence. I find myself unclear as to the issue of the U. of Y. quarterly containing the Doughty essay. I'll check with him as to this, as to what he has. But he ought, certainly, to have the original from you. It was yourself whom I meant to be ultimately the possessor of a xerox copy. I hoped I had explained the matter to you so that you would not feel any personal difference in my allotting the original to Alan and a xerox (of your making) to you.
[Margin]: Unconnected I also recommend that you consider very carefully the limitations of Curtis Brown as an adviser as to such a thing as a possible small-pamphlet publication for the Bias piece of writing. (Does Alan know of this? – Alan’s a co-author in the article .) Curtis Brown – indeed any large literary agency – is not likely to have much – if any at all – zeal of interest in something , anything, in which my work is a key feature of treatment. --- Oh, dear, I don’t have that catalogue 4 anymore with the 109 item in it. Please, report the problem, the point I raised. I keep your catalogue quite long, usually. I didn't dare to stack them – I am overstacked with papers, xerox accumulations – and fire hazard is a matter I have to keep constantly in mind here, because of the character of the building, and interior fire possibilities, and the character of the environing ground area – much brush, growth , grassland besides woods patches all round.
I do understand, I know, I feel, how much you are all, you and Luke, under strains. The quality of the times is also having part in what all are variously touched by. Tell Luke that just this morning I nearly bawled myself, about something. Never mind what! The love that is passing among us all surely keeps us safe quite far into the next and next – and we it to our utmost.
I enclose a letter received from Ian Brownlie [Note 5]. Were I to answer it myself I should ask him to investigate the meaning of ‘intimidate’, and whether he was to be taken as meaning what he said: if so, he was inviting treatment as to a child foolishly ‘scared’ by an older person, so behaving as to both accuse the person of being a scary person while inviting him-her to be ‘nice’ to him. --- You may quote me if you wish, but also just keep this to yourself. He wrote very briefly to thank me for writing to him, and to say that he was writing to you to obtain copies of my work. This ‘intimidate’ business was a little extra put in for, I suppose, my understanding it as signifying something of a sense of impropriety in his approaching me about his interest in my work.
1 John Cotton, poet and editor of Priapus Press. See Alan Clark’s bibliography.
2 Theodore Wilentz, bookseller of the famous Eighth Street Bookshop, publisher of Corinth Books, and close friend of Laura Jackson; chairman of the Literary Board. Died 2001.
3 See Clark bibliography.
4 Catalogue issued by BookEnds, second-hand bookshop, owned by Mark and Barbara Jacobs
5 Briefly a correspondent interested in L. J.’s work.