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Letter from Har Dayal to Van Wyck Brooks (December 23, 1913)

Letter from Har Dayal to Van Wyck Brooks, written on December 23, 1913 and posted from Berkeley, California. Brooks appears to have been visiting England, and Dayal asks about the people he is meeting. Dayal writes about the time he met Winston Churchill that October, who he found "a very mediocre kind of person." He also urges Brooks to meet Peter Kropotkin, if he has a chance.

Dayal also mentions the organizing work he is doing among the "Hindu" laborers in California and Canada. "I have thus been able to establish a press, an Institute, 2 week papers etc. in connection with our propaganda," he writes. Another huge development, Dayal explains, is a woman comrade who had given them six acres of land and a horse near Oakland to establish a "Modern School, a Training Institute (for anarchist propagandists). This Institute, Dayal has named the "Bakunin Institute," which will offer hospitality to itinerant radical lecturers and publish materials related to the cause of anarchism.

In a major portion of the letter, Dayal describes personal acquaintances of both he and Brooks -- John D. Barry Margaret, Pete. When discussing the marriage of his friends, he writes, "I don't find economically dependent women interesting. That's party of my radical psychology."

Freedom Movement

Date: December 23, 1913
Type: Correspondence
Language: English
Creator: Har Dayal
Location: Berkeley, CA

Berkeley (Cal) U.S.A. Dec. 23. 1913 My dear Brooks, I am so happy to hear from you. Better late than never. Now don't be so remiss in future. I am so lonely (intellectually) that it is always good for me to keep in close touch with friends. You must be very busy over there. Tell me when your books are out. Or better send me a copy. Have you seen Wells & added another chapter to your book on "Personal Impressions"? You know famous men are rather disappointing when you meet them. I had this experience with regard to Winston Churchill, whom I saw in October. He is a very mediocre kind of person - not at all interesting. And have you seen Shaw? I wish you would write to me about these men, when you see them. And do go up to see Kropotkin, when you have time. That's a pilgrimage well worth while. Yes, I used to know Pusey House well during my Oxford days. I remember Way very well. He is a good fellow, but we never agreed in views & ideals. I suppose he will be horrified to know where I have ended. In those days, I was heterodox but not so radical as at present. I am so much interested to learn of your workingmen-pupils. You may try to get into close touch with them & sympathize with them as men & women & not merely as students. Incidentally, you may note a few facts about working class psychology. (social). That's a question that we must study before we can organize a movement successfully. I think "class-psychology" can be a very interesting & important branch of psychology. Don't you think so? I have been very busy & happy lately, for we have extended & expanded our work in all directions. The Hindu laborers in Calif. & Canada have subscribed about $2000 for our revolutionary movement in India, & I have thus been able to establish a press, an Institute, 2 weekly papers etc in connection with our propaganda. The press prints about 1100 sheets an hour & we are printing tons of literature to smuggle into India. This work has taken up much of my time. Several earnest young men work in the Press & Institute without any thought of recompense. They are splendid fellows. The British govt. sends spies all the time -- which affords a revolutionist much amusement & relaxation in an otherwise intense & strenuous life. Will you at any time lend a helping hand in the way of influencing promising Hindu students in England & forwarding letters etc, if we are in need of such assistance? Much work can be accomplished quietly & signal service to revolutionary movements can be rendered by quiet, thoughtful & "unsuspected" persons in your position. Our American movement has also had a windfall. A woman comrade has given us six acres of land & a horse (worth about $7000) near Oakland to locate a Modern School, a Training Institute (for anarchist propagandists) a press etc. This is a great opportunity for us. This lady will also teach in the School without remuneration. I hope to leave this Centre well organized before I leave for Europe. We shall have a good library at the Institute. I have named it "The Bakunin Institute". This is the first "monastery" of Anarchism founded in connection with our Order of the Red Flag. I am very happy. I expect other friends will also give the project their material support. The place is very beautiful - a farm, gently sloping away from the sea; from the top of the hill, we have a magnificent view. I shall come over to Europe in two or three years, (if plans don't change), & then I shall gather recruits fro the Order in France & Italy & establish an Institute in Switzerland. But we have made a very good beginning here, thanks to the enthusiasm of our comrade. Owen of Los Angeles, a fine old fighter for the Cause (a man of culture too) is coming to spend a few days with us next month. The Institute will always offer hospitality to all itinerant Radical lecturers without distinction of party. I shall now try to write something this year, as I lead a more regular life at present. But I am trying to choose from among several subjects: Labor in the XIX century - or The Feminist Movement - or The Essentials of Anarchism - or The Elements of Sociology - or Education & Anarchism I am inclined to finish "The Essentials of Anarchism in Theory & Practice" first, because I feel the need of it in my propaganda work. But, from the standpoint of the general public (the workingclass), the "Elements of Sociology" will be a better choice. I shall decide before New Year's Day. I may write to some Hindu students in England, asking them to see you. They will profit from your company. But I must hear from you first. Have you seen any of the "Freedom" group in London? (127 Ossulston St. N.W.) What new subjects have you found for your books? That book on American literature would be very interesting, I am sure. What are the "unconventional" characteristics? How is Charlie? He must be growing all the time. Do send me a photo. I hope Mrs. Brooks is well. Pleas e remember me to her. Barry has published a collection of his stories & allegories, (reprints from the Bulletin). Some of them are very fine. I think he has sent you a copy, as he inquired about your address. Seeling wishes to hear from you & to write to you - he looks to you as his literary Mentor. I think you can help him, if you keep in touch with him. I like him very much & he is now giving much time to literature. If I send any essays to the magazine here, I will invite your criticism. Some time, in the future, (about 8 years hence), I will produce something valuable. Now is the time of my apprenticeship, isn't it? That's how I feel & think. I need not add how I miss you here. Margaret has married Pete (Nov. 9). I sent them my good wishes, though more from sympathy than from principle, as I am disappointed. Margaret does not apparently wish to keep her economic independence & will become quite a commonplace average "wife" in course of time. I don't find economically dependent women interesting. That's part of my radical psychology, I suppose. M. has written some poems which she may have sent you. I lunched with Pete the other day in the city: he has a good position on the Railroad Commission. He is alright, but I don't like the shadow of the episode behind. I hate all uncharitableness & cannot sympathize with either party in such quarrels. Anyhow, I am glad that M. is happy now & thinks she will be always happy. That's her affair. I am afraid that a conventional atmosphere will spoil her a little, & certainly weaken the bond that makes my friendship with her a great source of pleasure & encouragement to me. By the way, if you come across new types of manhood or womanhood, do write to me about them. I am always interested in variations from the normal. They always indicate new social forces. My best regards to Mrs. Brooks. Yours affectionately Har Dayal Best Wishes for A happy New Year & a year of useful work & noble service to you & Mrs. Brooks. A Happy New Year & a year of many toys, much play, continual growth, and lots of candy for Charlie. Try to convey my message to him.

Holding Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Collection: Van Wyck Brooks Papers
Item History: 2011-11-27 (created); 2020-04-24 (modified)

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