From Volume 9 of the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda – Letters – Fifth Series
80 OAKLEY STREET
24th October ’95
We meet and part. This is the law
and ever ever be.
I sadly ask O gentle ones
Do you remember me?
I haven’t had any news from Chicago, nor did I write as I did not want to bother you — also I did not know where to.
Accompanying is a newspaper notice of a lecture I delivered in London. It is not bad. The London audiences are very learned and critical, and the English nature is far from being effusive. I have some friends here — made some more — so I am going on.
My bed is in the foaming deep
What care I, friend, the dew!
It is a queer life, mine — always travelling, no rest. Rest will be my death — such is the force of habit. Little success here, little there — and a good deal of bumping. Saw Paris a good [deal]. Miss Josephine M’cLeod [MacLeod], a New York friend, showed it all over to me for a month. Even there, the kind American girl! Here in England they know us more. Those that do not like the Hindus, they hate them; those that like, they worship them.
It is slow work here, but sure. Not frothy, not superficial. English women as a rule are not as highly educated as the American women, nor are so beautiful. They are quite submissive wives or hidden-away daughters or church-going mothers — the embodiments of crystallized conventionality. I am going to have some classes at the above address.
Sometimes — and generally when I score a success — I feel a despondence; I feel as if everything is vain — as if this life has no meaning, as if it is a waking dream. Love, friendship, religion, virtue, kindness — everything, a momentary state of mind. I seem to long to go; in spite of myself I say, how far — O how far! Yet the body-and-mind will have to work its Karma out. I hope it will not be bad.
How are you all going on? Where is Mother Church? Is she interviewing the ghosts of the Thotmeses and Rameses* in the Pyramids — or calmly going her round of duties at home?
Yet the life seems to grow deep and at the same time lose its hold on itself.
Not disgust, nor joy for life, but a sort of indifference — things will take their course; who can resist — only stand by and look on. Well, I will not talk about myself so much. Egregious egotist! I always was that, you know. How about you all? Great fun this life, isn’t it? Don’t go to the extremes. A calm, restful, settled married life is good for the majority of mankind. Mr. [Edward T.] Sturdy, the friend with whom I am living now, was in India several times. He mixed with our monks and is very ascetic in his habits, but he is married at last and has settled down. And [he] has got a beautiful little baby. Their life is very nice. The wife, of course, doesn’t much care about metaphysics or Sanskrit, but her whole life is in her husband — and husband’s soul is in Sanskrit metaphysics! Yet it is a good combination of theory and practice, I think. Write me all about yourselves if you have time and inclination, and give Mother Church my eternal gratitude.
My movements are so, so uncertain. Yet I will be a month more in London.
With never-ending gratitude and love,