Description

In this letter to his friend Peter Warlock (born Philip Heseltine), Delius describes the experience of witnessing soldiers and refugees from Belgium and Northern France travelling through Grez-sur-Loing, where the Deliuses lived. As the letter describes, they themselves briefly evacuated to Orleans, and later spent time in England during the war. 


Transcript

GREZ-SUR-LOING

Seine et Marne

[26 October 1914]

My dear Phil –

I was very glad to receive your letter: We have been having very exciting times here – During the German advance there was an ever growing panic here caused, no doubt, by the refugees from Belgium & the North of France streaming thro’ Grez – The high road to Nemours was a terrifying sight & we sat for hours watching this terrified stream of humanity pass by in every sort of vehicle possible – We had hundred every night in Grez & they told terrible tales of german atrocities – On Sept 5th it got too much for us & we also could hear the booming of the canon (Battle of the Marne) so we decided to get out also, so we left for Orleans in a cattle truck with 50 or 60 others. We took 16 hours to go 75 kilometers & arrived in Orleans at 3-30 in the morning and as there was not a room to be had in the whole town we spent the rest of the night on a bench on the boulevard near the railway station – We had the great luck to get a room at night so we decided to stay there & await further developements – We had a most interesting & exciting time in Orleans watching the soldiers going off to the front & the wounded coming back – trainload after trainload – this was awful – Some of the poor soldiers, carried on stretchers, with one or both legs shot off – As soon as we heard of the great Victory of the allies we quietly returned to Grez & found everything as quiet & peaceful as ever – Your uncle had gone off the same day as we did with his 2 servants en route for Guernsey – At Havre he got a steamer for Cherbourg & had a most fearful passage in a miserable little dirty boat. On arriving in some port or other they were fired on 3 times, it appears, as they had no flag up. I nearly died with laughter when Joe told me of his adventures – We are thinking of going to America until all this is over – I am entirely sick of it – We shall leave about Christmas probably from England – I may come to London a fortnight or 3 weeks before sailing & then I should just love to roam about London with you – I am glad you have not enlisted – I hate & loathe this german militarism & autocracy & hope it may be crushed for ever – but I can get up no enthusiasm whatever for the war. My sympathies are with the maimed & slaughtered on both sides. My North Country sketches are ready & also my “Requiem: I shall take them with me to America & perhaps conduct them myself – I shall have to make some money over there in some way or other. Music will be dead in Europe for a year or more & all countries will be ruined – It makes one despair of humanity – Lloyd Osbourne & his wife were here thro’ the panic – They were seized with it 24 hours before we were & left for Nantes but they returned a fortnight ago here to Grez & are now on their way to London. We had great fun burying our best wine & silver – I would not have missed this experience for anything. The world has gone mad – Write me another long letter as soon as you can & tell me all you are doing & your experiences –

With love – your friend

Frederick Delius


  1. Transcript

    GREZ-SUR-LOING

    Seine et Marne

    [26 October 1914]

    My dear Phil –

    I was very glad to receive your letter: We have been having very exciting times here – During the German advance there was an ever growing panic here caused, no doubt, by the refugees from Belgium & the North of France streaming thro’ Grez – The high road to Nemours was a terrifying sight & we sat for hours watching this terrified stream of humanity pass by in every sort of vehicle possible – We had hundred every night in Grez & they told terrible tales of german atrocities – On Sept 5th it got too much for us & we also could hear the booming of the canon (Battle of the Marne) so we decided to get out also, so we left for Orleans in a cattle truck with 50 or 60 others. We took 16 hours to go 75 kilometers & arrived in Orleans at 3-30 in the morning and as there was not a room to be had in the whole town we spent the rest of the night on a bench on the boulevard near the railway station – We had the great luck to get a room at night so we decided to stay there & await further developements – We had a most interesting & exciting time in Orleans watching the soldiers going off to the front & the wounded coming back – trainload after trainload – this was awful – Some of the poor soldiers, carried on stretchers, with one or both legs shot off – As soon as we heard of the great Victory of the allies we quietly returned to Grez & found everything as quiet & peaceful as ever – Your uncle had gone off the same day as we did with his 2 servants en route for Guernsey – At Havre he got a steamer for Cherbourg & had a most fearful passage in a miserable little dirty boat. On arriving in some port or other they were fired on 3 times, it appears, as they had no flag up. I nearly died with laughter when Joe told me of his adventures – We are thinking of going to America until all this is over – I am entirely sick of it – We shall leave about Christmas probably from England – I may come to London a fortnight or 3 weeks before sailing & then I should just love to roam about London with you – I am glad you have not enlisted – I hate & loathe this german militarism & autocracy & hope it may be crushed for ever – but I can get up no enthusiasm whatever for the war. My sympathies are with the maimed & slaughtered on both sides. My North Country sketches are ready & also my “Requiem: I shall take them with me to America & perhaps conduct them myself – I shall have to make some money over there in some way or other. Music will be dead in Europe for a year or more & all countries will be ruined – It makes one despair of humanity – Lloyd Osbourne & his wife were here thro’ the panic – They were seized with it 24 hours before we were & left for Nantes but they returned a fortnight ago here to Grez & are now on their way to London. We had great fun burying our best wine & silver – I would not have missed this experience for anything. The world has gone mad – Write me another long letter as soon as you can & tell me all you are doing & your experiences –

    With love – your friend

    Frederick Delius