A Few Snap Shots

30 Mar 2020 2:15 PM | Frances Dickey (Administrator)

In early March 1935, Hale receives word that she will not be returning to Scripps, from which she took a leave of absence at the end of the academic year 1933. Eliot’s letters of 16 and 25 March clarify, to some extent, the reasons why she did not return: either she has lost her position because she delayed in renewing her contract, he surmises, or perhaps administrators have maneuvered her out. She has wasted time trying to find a position closer to her relatives on the East coast and now seems unhappy about the prospect of another year spent with the Perkins. In his attempts to console her, Eliot sympathizes with her desire for a more active and useful life, and he hopes she will not resign herself to serving her relatives, for whom (he thinks) she has sacrificed her job opportunities. As unfortunate as her lack of employment seems in March, it makes possible an extended period of time together in the same country—a unique interlude in their lives.

Eliot sees Hale briefly on two occasions in April as she passes through London on her way to other destinations, towards or away from Chipping Campden. On 11 April, Eliot and Hale see each other for three and a half hours (see Letters 7.592). He accompanies her on her errands and she gives him a cigarette case; he tells her that she looked beautiful in her blue costume. On April 17th, he meets her train from Campden and they have dinner together before he sees her off again on her way to Guernsey for an Easter holiday with Jean McPherrin. He wishes her a peaceful crossing and tells her that waiting for her at the station was exciting. In the meantime, he is off to Inverness for his holiday; both are back in London by May 1, when Hale and McPherrin stay in his rooms in Kensington while he stays at Russell Square. He writes to her afterwards (3 May 1935) that it is a delight to think that she has been in his rooms; the scent of her roses still reminds him of her.  He recalls with pleasure the time they spent together, including an evening alone at the theatre (they saw Henry IV). 

These brief visits in London continue throughout the summer, with the scent of her perfume or flowers making a leitmotif in his follow-up letters. On 9 May, she has just departed for Campden, leaving a faint odour of sanctity behind in his rooms. He reminisces on the weekend just spent together, including a delightful ride on the back of a taxi and a walk down Whitehall and through the Parks. His memory has taken several snap shots, he says, which he will keep always. For the context of this weekend, see his published letter to McPherrin written on the same day (7.614-15), with plans to “influence [Emily’s] arrangements for the winter,” and to his aunt Susan Hinkley on 11 May: “Emily has been up to town, and seen the King & Queen, and we took a taxi-ride to see the flood-lighting.  I encourage her to come up as often as she can afford to” (7.623). He closes his 9 May letter to Hale by enjoining her to think of their taxi-ride around St. Paul’s Cathedral.


  • 30 Mar 2020 4:43 PM | CR Mittal
    Exhilarating moments of romance.
    “But our beginnings never know our ends!”
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  • 31 Mar 2020 11:36 AM | CR Mittal
    So far, while one gets ample feel of the strength of Eliot’s emotions, there is nothing to show corresponding strength of Hale’s. It may be a little early to conjecture but one does wonder if it wasn’t, after all, as Eliot remarked in his 1960 Statement, the love of a ghost for a ghost, a case of Eliot’s fancy cheating him so well.
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    • 07 Apr 2020 9:46 PM | CR Mittal
      Incidentally in a much earlier letter Eliot expressed his disappointment on learning that Hale did not feel for him the same way he did for her. Or something to that effect.
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      • 07 Apr 2020 11:00 PM | CR Mittal
        Or, better, Eliot was dismayed to learn etc.
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  • 01 Apr 2020 2:05 AM | CR Mittal
    Also, perhaps, a case of Hale cheating on Eliot, what with all her escapades with Jean McPherrin. Eliot had his scruples.
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    • 01 Apr 2020 10:46 AM | CR Mittal
      With due apologies, I withdraw my last remark based on ignorance of the fact that Jean McPherrin was only her student from Scripps and not a boyfriend.
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  • 02 Apr 2020 12:01 PM | CR Mittal
    On a lighter note, Jean McPherrin proved to be a red herring.
    O, I was always a greenhorn!
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