D H Lawrence (1906) Age 21
Garsington Manor, Oxford
To Lady Cynthia Asquith.
When I drive across this country, with autumn falling and rustling to pieces, I am so sad, for my country, for this great wave of civilisation, 2,000 years, which is now collapsing, that it is hard to live. So much beauty and pathos of old things passing away and no new things coming; this house --- it is England --- my God, it breaks my soul --- their England, these shafted windows, the elm-trees, the blue distance --- the past, the great past, crumbling down, breaking down, not under the force of the coming birds, but under the weight of many exhausted lovely yellow leaves, that drift over the lawn, and over the pond, like the soldiers, passing away, into winter and the darkness of winter --- no, I can't bear it. For the winter stretches ahead, where all vision is lost and all memory dies out.
It has been 2,000 years, the spring and summer of our era. What, then, will the winter be? No, I can't bear it, I can't let it go. Yet who can stop the autumn from falling to pieces, when November has come in? It is almost better to be dead, than to see this awful process finally strangling us to oblivion, like the leaves off the trees.
I want to go to America, to Florida, as soon as I can: as soon as I have enough money to cross with Frieda. My life is ended here. I must go as a seed that falls into new ground. But this, this England, these elm-trees, the grey wind with yellow leaves --- it is so awful, the being gone from it altogether, one must be blind henceforth. But better leave a quick of hope in the soul, than all the beauty that fills the eyes.
It sounds very rhapsodic: it is this old house, the beautiful shafted windows, the grey gate-pillars under the elm-trees: really I can't bear it: the past, the past, the falling, perishing, crumbling past, so great, so magnificent.
Come and see us when you are in town. I don't think we shall be here very much longer. My life now is one repeated, tortured, Vale! Vale! Vale!
D. H. Lawrence
Garsington Manor, Oxfordshire
Photo: Martin Beek
Garsington manor is a Tudor building, best known historically for its ownership by Lady Ottoline Morrell. Ottoline and her husband Philip Morrell bought the house in 1914 and restored the run down property, also creating a series of Italian style gardens which survive today. Through World War One and in the 1920s many of Britain's leading artistic and intellectual figures came here. During the war the Morrells offered sanctuary to conscientious objectors such as Clive Bell and other members of the Bloomsbury Group. They worked on the property's farm as a way of escaping prosecution. The Morrell's many other visitors included D. H. Lawrence, Seigfried Sassoon, Aldous Huxley, T. S. Eliot and Bertrand Russell, who became Ottoline's lover. Source: www.infobritain.co.uk
Letter from 'D H Lawrence - Stories, Essays & Poems' Everyman's Library