[22 Paradise Rd., Northampton, Mass.]

T. S.Eliot
Letter No. 27.
9 February 1940
My Dear,

I was glad to get your letter No. 22, announcing the receipt of my letters up to and including 22. ISeaverns, Helen;d8 was incidentally glad to be in a position to tell Mrs. Seaverns thatPerkins, Dr John Carroll (EH's uncle)his Pastor Emeritus position endangered;d5 you knew nothing of the rumour of Dr. Perkins’s loss, and it is to be presumed that if it was true you would have heard of it. Yet she was sure she had it on the most responsible authority; butEliot, Theresa Garrett (TSE's sister-in-law)inflator of rumours;b2 no doubt anyone hearing on Theresa’s authority that I had become a professor at Cambridge would think that that was the most responsible authority too. As for Crookes’s Collosol Halibut (which I pronounce Hollibut, but nobody else seems to; just as I prefer the Down East rawsberry to rasberry raspberry [sic]) Oil Capsules, my dear, I go in for them every winter! – except as at such times as the present, when I am taking other temporary medicines. This week, I have to finish the cough medicine, a dose at night time; and then begin on the pills to bring up the blood pressure. Oh yes, I have seen my doctor since I wrote last, and he tells me that the blood pressure is very low. It is rather a relief to know that, because it serves to account for my disinclination to get up in the morning, which I had been putting down to laziness (DrJohnson, Dr SamuelTSE's fellow lie-abed;a3. Johnson had the same trouble, but it could hardly have been due to low blood pressure in his case), and to not feeling so bouncing with energy as I should like to. I have obeyed the injunction not to go out at night, this week; andMoot, The;b2 I am not going to the Moot meeting. ButEmpson, Williamlunch on return from China;a5 one can’t get out of everything: andLawrence, David Herbert ('D. H.')David;b1 on Saturday I have (1) Bill Empson to lunch, just returned from two years in Yunnan, via Cambridge Mass.1 (2) toBrowne, Elliott Martinwar work with Pilgrim Players;d3 go to Martin’s production of ‘David’ by D. H. Lawrence, I believe at the Drama League headquarters in Fitzroy Square. AndNew English Weekly;b4 I have done another page for the New English Weekly.

InChristianityorthodoxy;c4authority;a8 a general way, I do not mean by ‘Church doctrines’ the views of this or that theologian or bishop, or of one or another party, but the doctrines which appear always to have been held by the Church since the beginning, or which have received the sanction of authoritative Church Councils in the past. There is an important distinction too between permanent doctrine of belief or behaviour, and rules of government. In the Roman Church, for instance, the rule of a celibate clergy is just a rule and no more: some of the Eastern Churches which are in communion with Rome are allowed to continue their ancient custom of permitting the clergy to marry – just as they are also permitted to wear beards. But as for doctrine, it is not for any Archbishop or assembly of bishops, to alter that; and all that one can ask of a theologian is to tell one what the law of the Church is – sometimes to interpret it: it is a matter of his knowledge and orthodoxy, his knowledge of church history, and not of what he individually thinks to be right. ThereChristianityorthodoxy;c4Transubstantiation;a9 are many points on which difference of opinion is permissible: points on which neither Scripture, nor the judgement of the Church throughout history, gives a definite ruling: such as the way in which the Body and Blood of Christ become present in the Eucharist. ButMussolini, Benitohis authoritarianism distinguished from Church authority;a6, in submitting to authority, or accepting a doctrine because it is the doctrine of the church, one is not deferring to another human being, or any body of people in existence at any one time. It is not a question of ‘il duce ha sempre ragione’,2 or anything like that. It is the assumption, if you like, that there is a collective wisdom, not the wisdom of any one or more great men, manifested in the life of the Church throughout the centuries, the main features of which one can discern, and distinguish from local conditions and passing opinions. ThisChristianityChristendom;b2the Church Visible and Invisible;a4 assumption itself rests on the belief that the Church is not an organisation founded by men, but a mystical body created by God – the Church which is the mystical body of Christ being the continuation and renovation of the Church of the Hebrew people; and that at no time has God left it without the guidance of the Holy Ghost – however frequently individual men, even in the highest ecclesiastical position, have erred and betrayed it. When we use the term ‘the Church’, of course, we often mean only its human aspect, and often mean merely the ecclesiastical organisation and not even the body of the actual faithful; these variations of meaning have to be made clear by the context of discussion. But in its largest sense, the Church is not limited to the living, but is a communion of the living and the Dead, and indeed in a sense of the unborn. And I know that this notion of the ‘authority’ of the Church, even when one has grasped it, apparently, with one’s mind, is very difficult (until one is used to it) to keep clear from the ordinary meaning of ‘authority’ such as that of a Dictator or a Legislator.

ThereChristianityAnglo-Catholicism;a8apostolic succession;a7 is of course also the question of the relation of the ‘separated brethren’ (those who, without accepting the fulness [sic] of meaning of ‘the Church’, yet believe the doctrine of the Trinity and the Creeds) with the Church of the Apostolic Succession of Bishops: and that of the position of the Anglican Church in relation to Rome. ThisChristianityAnglo-Catholicism;a8over Roman Catholicism;a8 comes down to personal terms in the question: why am I personally a member of the Church of England instead of the Church of Rome? I am one of those who are always just on the edge of conversion to Rome, and yet stay where we are. It is awfully difficult to explain this; difficult even to set it down in terms which would satisfy my own mind. I don’t for a moment expect to make it at all intelligible in one letter; and the danger is always of creating further misunderstandings by one’s explanation, which one will then have to try to dispose of by further explanations which will give rise to further misunderstandings etc. SoChristianityRoman Catholicism;d1TSE's counter-factual denomination;a1 at the moment, to begin with, let me say that if I had lived in America, and come to anything like my present position, I believe that it would have been the Church of Rome that I should have accepted and not the Episcopal Church. And I do not mean that the Episcopal Church in communion with Canterbury might as well not exist in America: if I had been born into it I believe I should have stuck to it anywhere; but that the Church of Rome, in a country like America, has as good a right, and therefore a better right, to be the main Church, than any other. IChristianityAnglo-Catholicism;a8and the Reformation;a9 regret the separation of the English Church by Henry VIII; but, as for England, I do not think that that situation can be amended, or that one can get out of all responsibility for one’s ancestors and towards the living community, by going individually to Rome. The BodyChristianityChristendom;b2prospect of total reunion within;a7 of the Church in England, though separated, still have a living spiritual existence: the important thing is not the secession of people one by one, but the eventual re-incorporation of the whole Church; for I cannot be content with any future which does not envisage the ultimate reunion of all Christendom and in re-union in communion with Rome. But meanwhile the English Church exists, and I believe it has, so to speak, interim validity; and that there is a meaning to loyalty to the community of Christians in what is the Church of England, which is something entirely different from loyalty in the sense of ‘team spirit’ or loyalty to a school, college or temporal government.

It is awfully difficult to put this in a way which will not seem as if one remained in the Church of England solely on grounds of expediency, and as if one were not either committing the limited dishonesty of belonging to one body when one believed in another, or the complete dishonesty of not believing in anything.

And all this may seem at first very dry, as well as very remote from the questions to which you want answers: but it all has a bearing, and has to be dealt with somehow!

My dear, you are always with me, but speech would be so much better.

Your loving

1.TSE to Hayward, 16 Feb. 1940: ‘Bill Empson lunched with me on Saturday. Quiet voyage [from the USA], but says that if Winston’s famous convoy was looking after his ship, it tactfully kept below the horizon, as he saw nothing of it. He is dirtier and more distrait than ever. It was most refreshing to see him.’ (Letters 9, 429–30)

2.‘The Leader [Duce] is always right’: a much-repeated official Italian slogan praising Mussolini.

Browne, Elliott Martin, meets TSE at Chichester, production of The Rock, meets TSE over possible collaboration, talks over outline of play, meets TSE with Martin Shaw, delighted with Rock choruses, discusses unwritten pageant scenes with TSE, predicament as The Rock's director, well connected in amateur circles, revising into the night with TSE, argues with Shaw at dress-rehearsal, presented to Prince Arthur, honoured by Rock cast-supper, producing Gordon Bottomley's play, speaks at Londonderry House with TSE, 1935 Canterbury Murder in the Cathedral, approached by TSE to 'produce', consulted throughout composition, goes silent, lunches with TSE and Speaight, directs and acts despite illness, pursues London Murder revival, 1935–6 Mercury Theatre Murder revival, engaged as producer by Dukes, keen that EH attend rehearsals, simultaneously part of BBC production, agrees about Speaight's decline, preferred as producer for TSE's next play, and Charles Williams's Cranmer, in which he plays 'the Skeleton', and TSE attend Tenebrae, taken to Cambridge after-feast, producing York Nativity Play, which TSE thinks Giottoesque, at Savile Club Murder dinner, producing Shakespeare's Dream, and Ascent of F6, and Tewkesbury Festival Murder confusion, 1939 production of The Family Reunion, due to be sent script, weighing TSE's proposal that he produce, enthused by script, suggests TSE see Mourning Becomes Electra, against Family Reunion as title, pleased with draft, quizzed on fire-safety, typescript prepared for, new draft submitted to, rewrite waits on, receives new draft, criticisms thereof, reports John Gielgud interest, mediates between Gielgud and TSE, TSE throws over Gielgud for, secures Westminster Theatre production, steps into company breach, then into still-greater breach, and the play's weaknesses, direction of Family Reunion, receives TSE's Shakespeare lectures, 1938 American Murder tour, re-rehearsing actors for, suffers fit of pre-tour gloom, yet to report from Boston, and Tewkesbury pageant, accompanies TSE to La Mandragola, on Family Reunion's future prospects, and possible Orson Welles interest, war leaves at loose end, advises TSE over next play, war work with Pilgrim Players, unavailable for modern-dress Murder, compared to tempter/knight successor, requests Pilgrim Players' play from TSE, New Plays by Poets series, as director, and This Way to the Tomb, and Family Reunion revival, urges TSE to concentrate on theatre, 1946 Mercury Family Reunion revival, in rehearsal, possible revue for Mercury Theatre, and The Lady's Not for Burning, Chairman of the Drama League, 1949 Edinburgh Cocktail Party, to produce, TSE's intended first reader for, receives beginning, approves first act, receives TSE's revisions, communciates Alec Guinness's enthusiasm, arranges reading, surpasses himself with production, in Florence, EH suggests moving on from, and the Poets' Theatre Guild, 1950 Cocktail Party New York transfer, compares Rex Harrison and Alec Guinness, TSE debates whether to continue collaboration with, suggests three-play TSE repertory, 1953 Edinburgh Confidential Clerk, receives first two acts, designing sets, 1953 Lyric Theatre Confidential Clerk, attends with TSE, 1954 American Confidential Clerk, 1954 touring Confidential Clerk, TSE and Martin Browne catch in Golders Green, seeks Family Reunion MS from EH,

4.E. MartinBrowne, Elliott Martin Browne (1900–80), English director and producer, was to direct the first production of Murder in the Cathedral: see Biographical Register.

Christianity, and human isolation, and modern economics, Ada on TSE's personal piety, scheme for 'Pro Fide' bookshop, among the Eliot family, and beauty, its sects like different clubs, Anglo-Catholicism, TSE's conversion to, which he dates to Eccleston Square meeting, Anglican Missal sought for EH, but unfortunately out of print, discussed at Boston Theological School, and the Petrine Claims, apostolic succession, over Roman Catholicism, as refuge from VHE, and the Reformation, asceticism, discipline, rigour, the necessity for, and TSE's daily exhortation, making and breaking habits, mastering emotions and passions, as salubrious, only remedy for a prurient culture, confession and communion, more possible during Harvard year, the case for unattainable ideals, in time of war, gets TSE up before 7 o'clock, hereditary with TSE, belief, and good poetry, faced with Second World War, and conversion, antidote to TSE's skepticism, Christendom, TSE ponders the decline of, TSE on his prominence within, its ruin, the Church Visible and Invisible, and TSE's war work, the Malabar Church, prospect of total reunion within, confession, helps to objectify sin, more dreaded than dentist, harder in the morning, death and afterlife, the struggle to prepare for, consoles TSE in life, and cremation, Requiem Mass, gives meaning to life, and what makes a desirable burial place, the nature of eternal life, divorce, unrecognised by Anglo-Catholic Church, which TSE regrets, in church law, would separate TSE from Church, evil, TSE's belief in, and moral percipience, guilt, and the New England conscience, hell, TSE's 1910 vision of, and damnation, according to TSE, liturgy, TSE's weekly minimum, Mass of the Pre-sanctified, Requiem Mass versus Mass of Good Friday, and whether to serve at Mass, Imposition of Ashes, at Christmas, High Mass over Mattins, aversion to Low Church Mattins, Roman service in Wayland, Tenebrae, in country parish church, as guest at Kelham, remarkable sermon, over Christmas, Tenebrae and Family Reunion, during Holy Week, Mass of Charles King and Martyr, love, loving one's neighbour, marriage, TSE's need for privacy within, mysticism and transcendence, interpenetration of souls, intimations of life's 'pattern', 'doubleness', arrived at through reconciliation, orthodoxy, only remedy for contemporary culture, and pagans, sets TSE at odds with modernity, necessarily trinitarian, 'Christian' defined, iniquities of liberal theology, and creed, authority, Transubstantiation, TSE disclaims 'self-centredness' in maintaining, politics, the Church and social change, how denomination maps onto, need for working-class priests, church leaders against totalitarianism and Nazism, Christianity versus Fascism and Communism, Papal Encyclical against Nazi Germany, the 'Dividend morality', Presbyterianism, TSE quips on the meanness of, Quakerism, resignation, reconciliation, peace, TSE's love allows for, 'peace that passeth all understanding', the struggle to maintain, following separation from VHE, retreat and solitude, EH at Senexet, the need for, a need increasing with age, and TSE's mother, Roman Catholicism, TSE's counter-factual denomination, Rome, sacraments, Holy Communion, marriage, sainthood, TSE's idea of, the paradoxes of, susceptible of different sins, sins, vices, faults, how to invigilate, the sense of sin, the sinner's condition, bound up with the virtues, as a way to virtue, TSE's self-appraisal, when humility shades into, when unselfishness shades into, among saints, proportionate to spiritual progress, daydreaming, despair, lust, pride, perfection-seeking pride, spiritual progress and direction, TSE's crisis of 1910–11, EH's crisis, versus automatism, TSE's sense of, towards self-knowledge, in EH's case, as personal regeneration, temptation, to action/busyness, the Church Year, Advent, Christmas, dreaded, happily over, TSE rebuked for bah-humbugging, church trumps family during, season of irreligion, thoughts of EH during, unsettling, fatiguing, in wartime, Easter preferred to, Ash Wednesday, Lent, season for meditation and reading, prompts thoughts of EH, Lady Day, Holy Week, its intensity, arduous, preserved from public engagements, exhausting but refreshing, excitingly austere, Easter, better observed than Christmas, missed through illness, Unitarianism, the Eliots' as against EH's, the prospect of spiritual revival within, as personified by TSE's grandfather, regards the Bible as literature, as against Catholicism, divides EH from TSE, and whether Jesus believed himself divine, according to Dr Perkins, in England as against America, over-dependent on preachers' personality, TSE's wish that EH convert from, outside TSE's definition of 'Christian', the issue of communion, baptism, impossibly various, virtues heavenly and capital, bound up with the vices, better reached by way of sin, charity, towards others, in Bubu, TSE's intentness on, delusions of, as against tolerance, chastity, celibacy, beneath humility, TSE lacks vocation for, faith, and doubt, hope, a duty, TSE's struggle for, humility, distinguished from humiliation, comes as relief, greatest of the virtues, propinquitous to humour, not an Eliot virtue, opposed to timidity, danger of pride in, is endless, TSE criticised for overdoing, theatre a lesson in, most difficult of the virtues, possessed by EH, possessed by EH to a fault, TSE compares himself to EH in, the paradox of, distinguished from inferiority, self-discovery teaches, possessed by Dr Perkins, patience, recommended to EH, its foundations, possessed by Uncle John, purity, distinguished from purification, temperance, with alcohol, beneath humility,
Eliot, Theresa Garrett (TSE's sister-in-law), witness to the Eliots in 1926, draws TSE, co-hosts Murder party, remembers TSE's intention to marry EH, her immaturity, expresses solicitude for EH, careless of Henry's health, inflator of rumours, apparently ill, a 'lovely person', as correspondent, more agreeable than an Eliot, TSE on, unsuited to resist Margaret, and Henry's mania for Eliotana, wishes to take Henry on holiday following illness, made fretful by Henry, relationship with Henry, ignorant of Henry's true condition, on EH and TSE, after Henry's death, sends TSE Henry's old greatcoat, EH reports on, visits lawyer with TSE, avid for Eliotana, star-struck, undergoes operation on ear, for which TSE bears cost, hosts TSE in 1952, hosts TSE in 1955, custodian of Henry's collection, hosts TSE in 1956, visits England, on whether to return EH's letters, on TSE not marrying EH,
Empson, William, invited to Criterion monthly meeting, TSE dines in company with, rakish appearance at Criterion gathering, takes TSE for Chinese meal, lunch on return from China, recommended for EH's 'criticism' course, gives small dinner, reads 'Bacchus', TSE reads poetry alongside,

4.WilliamEmpson, William Empson (1906–84), poet and critic: see Biographical Register.

Johnson, Dr Samuel, his cats, TSE reads aloud from the Rambler, TSE's fellow lie-abed, TSE joins club founded by, imbibed for lecture, TSE's projected Lives of the Poets essay, TSE's projected Lives of the Poets book, subject of TSE's Princeton lectures, The Vanity of Human Wishes,
Lawrence, David Herbert ('D. H.'), his singularity as poet, piece of faux-Eliotana concerning, as writer of letters, TSE appreciates loneliness of, deranges TSE, singled out Bain's 'Disraeli' for praise, on The Criterion, represented better in Revelation, David, 'The Prussian Officer',
Moot, The, first meeting, invited to TSE's Maritain dinner, no substitute for individual friendships, seems futile, welcomes Reinhold Niebuhr as guest, discusses TSE's paper,
Mussolini, Benito, and Yugoslavia, and Abyssinia, his policies, his usefulness to Hitler, his authoritarianism distinguished from Church authority,
New English Weekly, TSE joins editorial committee of, discussed with Mairet, TSE writing 'Views and Reviews' for, and Edward VIII, TSE's natural post-Criterion home, two contributions to, TSE attacks H. G. Wells in, prints East Coker, commission TSE on Keynes,
Perkins, Dr John Carroll (EH's uncle), wished speedy recovery, Perkins household apparently restored, and TSE's King's Chapel address, at first Norton lecture, writes about second Norton lecture, supplied with tobacco, unused to intelligent opposition, suggests title for Murder, recommended Endless Adventure, TSE on, novelty birthday-present suggested for, comes by The Achievement of T. S. Eliot, once again preaching, his accent, his versus Eliot-family Unitarianism, reports on TSE from Aban Court, remarks on photograph of TSE, his Pastor Emeritus position endangered, starved of male company, more remote with age, donates Eliotana to Henry's collection, relations with Aunt Edith, ailing, altered with age, and Campden memories, sends photograph of EH portrait, on 1946 reunion with TSE, withdrawn, according to EH, honoured by bas-relief, celebrates 86th birthday, feared for, celebrates 87th birthday, thanks EH for her help, his final illness, dies, elegised by TSE, funeral, obituary and funeral, obituary, TSE receives old clothes of, Miss Lavorgna on, apparently communicated in Anglican churches, Annals of King's Chapel,
see also Perkinses, the

3.DrPerkins, Dr John Carroll (EH's uncle) John Carroll Perkins (1862–1950), Minister of King’s Chapel, Boston: see Biographical Register.

Seaverns, Helen, finally dines with TSE, teaches TSE card games, bearer of EH's Christmas present, charms TSE, hosts TSE and the Perkinses, entertained by TSE, TSE hesitates to confide in, and Perkinses dine with TSE, to tea with TSE, seeks advice from TSE on transatlantic tourism, her comforts equivalent to Mappie's, houses EH on 1939 arrival, an old spoiled child, disburdens herself over tea, laments life in Hove, removed from grandchildren,

3.HelenSeaverns, Helen Seaverns, widow of the American-born businessman and Liberal MP, Joel Herbert Seaverns: see Biographical Register.