Letter from Frances Hodgkins to Isabel Field

02 Nov 1918
See full details See transcription

Object Detail

02 Nov 1918
Rosehill in the Fern Camborne Cornwall Nov 2 18
My Dearest Sis
I have just written to Geoff and sent some Mirrors & a Weekly Press sent by Willie & told me we’ll lunch together on Xmas Day unless he is too busy sweeping up Berlin. The inevitable end is near, coming good & quick & unless something extraordinary happens we will have peace very soon & the boys coming back to us. I feel quite demoralised have been so ever since the fall of Bulgaria, Turkey out, Austria nearly out, and Germany will be out before many moons have past. We are indeed a dam fine race – tho the flue is trying to reduce our numbers. People are dying right & left & is specially bad at St Ives – where the inhabitants don’t flush drains etc as often as they might. I marvel I have escaped – its getting very winterly & coal very dear & scarce. Microscopic fires except when I bring in a load of wood from the woods. There are worse places to be in than this Farm – nice simple, rough, people. Mother & 2 sons – both back from the war, gassed & wounded & now doing their best to pull the Farm round again. They are ploughing & cropping hard & doing a bit of horse dealing between whiles.
I am expecting Katherine Wallis, a Paris pal, to spend a few weeks with me. They came down to St Ives she & her sister, to look for me & found I had gone out here. They have spent a day with me & intend coming back next week – wh is better for me. When there is a large party they kill a goose or get in a loin of pork – when we are alone it wears a bit thin in places I find. She wants me to go back to Paris with her and do a bit of teaching in one of the Schools as I did before. It might be a good thing to have a change & rub off the rust before I settle down in London. I shall hope to see you and Will one of these days, you must have a proper glorified trip and taste some of the sweets after all the bitters. Geoff will expect you to meet him when he gets back from France. I am delighted to hear Bert has moved to the Terrace – Mother will have them within smiling distance now. What a wonder she is keeping so well & active. There is an old lady of 83 in this house, whom they call the youngster. She can thread her needle almost in the dark & is astonishingly agile & erect. She is darning & mending my rags for me & you simply can’t give her too much to do. The Cornish are a powerful virile race – tho’ I have no love for them. They are so hard & narrow beyond name – the number of illiterate men & women who can’t read or write would make a New Zealander stare. It’s a great pity provincial England has not been made to feel the war more than it has – and slough off some of their old Adam.
Sunday Nov 9th Tomorrow at noon we are to hear if Germany surrenders or will fight on. A whole week has passed – some people came & bagged the only sitting room & it has been too frightfully cold to write in my bed room – but who cares about the weather if it has washed Austria out of the War & brought Peace a stage nearer. Miss Wallis’ sister died of flue & there was a great upset poor dears. I have lost many acquaintances at St Ives. I hear the worst is over down there & that they have left off dying. I hope it won’t work out your way, tho’ it appears to spread like the prairie fire. I don’t know what my plans are – I feel very unsettled & utterly unlike painting. Fancy trying to ponder a picture at such a time. If the fighting ends tomorrow I shall write to the address Geoff gave me for news of him. I expect you will have a cable. Fondest love dear Sis. Tell Girlie I am expecting that Xmas cake – lots of plums in it I presume? Your loving Frances Did I tell you before that Mr Waite had cabled £100 for rent for a London Studio when I needed it. This will make it easier to make plans once I hear for Sydney re show.
4 pages
Sender's address
Rosehill in the Fern, Camborne, Cornwall
Institutional No.
Credit Line
Letters. Field, Isabel Jane, 1867-1950 : Correspondence of Frances Hodgkins and family / collected by Isabel Field. Ref: MS-Papers-0085-35. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.