Letter by CJD to R.H. Croll 1914.02.10

Feb 10/14

Dear Bob,

If you do anything so foolish as to take a day off on my account and come up here you will find me waiting for you with an axe. And I still have strength to hit you reel (sic) hard with it.

I fear I have given you and Grace an altogether false impression of my little trouble. I don't think there will be any need to send wreathes yet a bit.

All the same your kind letter bucked me up a bit and I am thankful.

You are right enough about the loneliness. It's getting to me as it never has before. There's something wrong when one looks forward day after day to the arrival of the mail as the only cheerful event in the 24 hours, and then goes flop because there's "nothin' doin'" till next mail time. It's the dull, drab, dreary damnable flatness of things that's getting to me. I feel just like flat soda-water. Rather, I did. I'm some better the last couple of days.

I think, possibly, that it is my poor old abused system fretting for a little drug-produced excitement - for the whiskey that biteth with its hail and the beer that giveth the nasty suck. I've not the slightest craving for the brimming bowl (possibly because I recognise inwardly that tho' a couple of whiskeys would make me glad for a time they would also make me doubly sad afterwards) - but possibly my nerves have been suddenly reminded of the buck-up they used to get in bygone days. I used to get these attacks pretty frequently and severely when I first boarded the water waggon, but they grew weaker and rarer. I'm thinking that possibly this is the last dying duet of the whiskey wasp and the beer-bug. It's rather an interesting psychological study, but I'd rather someone else were the subject.

Apart from that, there's no doubt that the loneliness and monotony are dashed distressing. (Cheerful letter. But it does me good to write it and it won't take you long to read.) I dare say it was the interest I took in local affairs that kept me afloat hitherto. I used to be secretary of everything here, and wasted a lot of time and thought over petty affairs. Then, when I saw where I was getting to I cut it out. Used to catch myself in heated and idiotic argument with the bushies over some trivial matter that wasn't worth a passing thought. I was getting down to the mental level of the place, and it wasn't good for me. So I've heaved over the tennis and cricket clubs and progress association and sports meeting and road aggitations; and now there's nothing to do but work and read and read, and work.

I decided to chuck it all the other day and wrote to Davidson about a job. He answers today - a very decent letter. He wants an article on that slum trip that Wallace spoke about, but regrets there is no regular work for me at present. If, he says, anything turns up unexpectedly he will not forget me.

Anyway I don't want a staff job on the "Herald" and have told him so.

Of course I can do freelance stuff in town as well as I can here, and I'm damned if I think I can explain what I do want. I want to get out of here, but don't want to give the place up altogether; but, as a matter of fact, I can't afford to shift just at present. I've been loafing too long. I've had the transfer of the place granted me, and an occasional trip up here would keep my title good until I got the freehold. I think if I started to make arrangements for a shift to town it would be something to look forward to, and ease up this depression a bit. If you happen to know or to hear of a decent, quiet, cheap place where one could board and write in peace in any of the nearer suburbs you might let me know, for a start. But if you go to any particular trouble about the matter I shall be annoyed - and I mean that seriously. In the first place I don't know when I shall be able to get down, and I have made no arrangements at all yet. Secondly, I might not go at all.

I'll send along that daily letter for a bit. If you can stand it I can.

I am feeling a good bit better the last couple of days. Anyhow, there's nothing much the matter with me, and sometimes I almost think it amounts to hypochondria, and the remedy a damned hard punch on the nose. I can only sum it up as a feeling of wanting something to happen - any old thing. I'm answering the call to meals now and sleeping well.


PS: How's this for an epigram: "When a community knows what it wants and wants what it needs there will be a perfect Democracy."

CROLL Collection MS 8910, 1202/1(b) - State Library of Victoria.

"Davidson" and "Wallace" are unknown at this time.

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002