Arthur to John, February 19, 1949
532 Arbor Road
February 19, 1949
Believe it or not, I have a top drawer in my desk wherein I stash correspondence to be answered. There has reposed one of your letters, for a length of time which I will refrain from specifying. You may be aware that it has been a good while - but if I do not commit the exact date to black and white, it is just barely possible that you may not be able to envisage the extent of my neglect.
I suppose that you have run across, either in reading or in discussions with some of your more philosophic friends, the mention of the relative nature of time. The long, slow days and years of our youth; the rapidly hastening ones of our latter days; these are surely not of equal duration. I live a crowded, active life, with varied interests and many demands upon my time and energies. But surely there is another element present and working - an actual diminution of the units of measurement. Days and weeks and years are definitely shorter than they used to be. This is by no means an original abservation - but I can testify from personal experience that the theory is valid, and that our later years are swifter moving that our earlier. I am not trying to be whimsical. Subjectively the thing is definitely speeding up. Not altogether a bad thing, but sometimes and somehow a bit disconcerting. The end of the journey is nearer than the beginning. Which is perfectly O.K. with me, if only I can find the time to take care of all the unfinished business. This includes all sorts of things, from the successful growing of my Regal Lilies and my new strawberry bed to my trip to England and Ireland, with time also to write the Great American Novel, and to learn to play the clarinet. In the sometimes hectic meantime, I (sucker that I am) must finish my term as President of the local Art Centre, discharge my duties as Rectors Warden of the newly constituted Parish of St Aidan's (at long last no longer a mere mission chapel, but a full-fledged Church with a Rector, Wardens, and Vestry), pursue my career in Gilbert and Sullivan and the spoken Drama as well, read forty thousand books per week, more or less, and make a living on the side. What happens is the same as what overtook the buck darkey who went to the Camp Meeting. As soon as he arrived he was introduced to the Parson, who forthwith assigned a whole series of tasks to the poor sap, who was finally moved to remonstrate. "I didn't come down here to set up folding chairs, and to sweep out the tabernacle, and to fill the ice-water cooler, and to give out the Hymn Books and to pass the Collection Plate. " "Well then, what did you come here for?" "To tell the truth, Parson, all I really wanted was just to lay the wenches and to sing Bass." That program, surely a modest and reasonable one,, is one that I heartily endorse. But they never let you get away with it. Wine women and song have most plausibly been presented to be the summum bonum of this weary pilgrimage, and I do not find myself inclined to question the decision. Certainly I like to drink, I love the ladies, and singing is a most rewarding occupation. But the days and the weeks go by, and I find that for the most part I am a hewer of wood and a drawer of water, and old age creeps on apace and I waste my substance in riotous letter-writing.
What have you been reading? With me, a few recent high spots include an opus by a gent named Lloyd Morris titled "Postscript to Yesterday". This is quite a piece of work, being a history of the U.S.A. from the Spanish War to Pearl Harbor. He covers, in a most penetrating manner, the progress of that half-century in the arts, manners and morals, polities, business, journalism, outstanding personalities, the social scene, and the tides of thought and feeling in the period of our lifetime. I can recommend it heartily. Then I was so fortunate to run across James Stephens' "The Crock of Gold". A darling of a book, all about Leprechauns and the other world as it is apparant to the Irish of the Old Tradition. Talk about your shrewd and penetrating philosophy. This little book is a treasure.
Tell me about you and yours. I and mine are all flourishing.
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