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Letter from George Yeats to Thomas MacGreevy . 15 March 1928

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Private "burn this when read"

March 15, 1928

My dear Tom

I have been too fussed up to write coherently, shall not probably do it now, but had I written sooner t'would have been worse! If only I had known W. might crock up - and his "crocking" is, I think personally, really more close to nervous breakdown than anything; and the lung, which is certainly affected, slightly affected perhaps only, is a very inconsiderable item in the matter. It does of course matter a little, but it undoubtedly, unless there is some degree of tubercular infection, does not account for this continued physical exhaustion. Anyway, he is vastly better than for the past four months. But what I began with was that, had I known that all this might happen I should certainly never have had a family! The female member of it, is, of course, perfectly well!After spending Christmas with her parents and brother in Cannes, Anne was back at Merrion Square under the supervision of her nanny, attending Nightingale Hall as a day student and closely watched over by aunts Lily and Lolly.note I get news of her every second day, and she is always in rude health, positively vulgar health. The small male member of the Yeats family is far from satisfactory, goes on loosing weight. Its rather distracting.George was reluctant to admit that Michael Yeats had been discovered to have a tubercular gland. He was attending l'Alpe Fleurie in Villars-sur-Bex part school, part sanitorium.note Switzerland's high mountains, suit him; would not, I am given to understand, suit William at all!

I really havent the slightest idea how W. will develope. He has always, constitutionally, been so strong that I should never be surprised if he didnt perk up all of a sudden to what he was before. On the other hand he has been like this, only more so, for five months. Rather longer in reality, for he was rather ill in Feb. 1927 and wasnt what I, being of a fussy mind, consider "well", ever since.For detailed description of WB's breakdown see Becoming George pp 385-93note

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Anyway, something drastic had to be done. And as all the doctors who have seen him in the last twelve months agree on one point — and that is winter ingood climate - we have revolutionised existence....this is for the moment private. I havent told anyone but Lennox, and Lady G. knows.

We have taken a gflat here — For anyway six months of the year we live in it, 82 is is to be sold, and we have no foothold in Ireland except Ballylee which may or may not be possible; the damp may make it imposs: for W. We go to Dublin, say April 15 - Sept 15 including Ballylee if W. can stand it. If he cant stand Ballylee, then we come back here for August and the childrens holidays. What furniture we dont bring here will either be sold or stored; stored because we may find it better to have two rooms in Dublin rather than stay in Digs. In any case, with W. possibly going on being less well and so working less, and Michael having to be in Switzerland or the south, we shall have to live as comfortably and as cheaply as we can. The flat here is really very nice. Willy will have a study with two french windows and balconies, communicating with his bedroom so that he can paddle in and out without being seen; (both rooms also have doors on to entrance hall;) my bedroom is in same part of flat, and this end shuts off from the rest by a door so that he will be quiet. The flat is on the fourth floor, and W's balconies (from his bedroom and study) have morning sun and marvellous views of mountain and sea) The rest of the flat (my bedroom, in which Michael will sleep in holidays, hasnt a balcony, but looks over sea) has on one each side of its passage, large boxroom which will be linen room and glory hole!; coal/and coke room; / bathroom and two lavatories; / kitchen; / dining and general room; / schoolroom; / night nursery; / spare-room (even in holidays!) small study for me. It has steamheating from its own kitchen, gas, electric light, electric heating (electricita commerciale) and as it is only just being built the owners are letting us [p.3 recto]choose our own tiles for all the floors, and — with tears — letting me have the rooms without "decorazione" on the ceilings, or glass in the doors. We get nine rooms (the boxroom is supposed to be a servants room) kitchen and two lavatories all for £98 a year! We shant have a servant sleeping in, so that, except in holidays, we shall be very free and can lock the front door at any moment and buzz off where we like! And I shall at least have the benefit of "no responsibilities". For next Xmas nurse will be here - I have her till Jan. 1929 - after that I shall probably get someone to cope with the family in the daytime during holidays, and apparently one can get endless "dailies" here if one wants them, and also "daily" persons to take children on to beach etc, if necessary. Of course everything hangs on how William is.

He seems very happy at the idea of getting out of all responsibilities, no more committees, no more Senate, no more anything but his own work. I cant say I should like to live out here all the year round, and hope it wont come to that.

It maynet be possible to leave Michael in Switzerland. I dont know till we go to Villars (near Montreux and Bex) on March 30, whether he is happy enough to be left there until end June. If he is, I shall come over to fetch him then June 15 or so and bring him to Ireland until Sept: when he would return to Villars. If not then we would have to bring him home with us April 10 and come to Rapallo, say in July. In that case Anne would go [to] a school at San Remo instead of Switz: and for the present Michael would stay with us in Rapallo.

This five volumed novel will show you that I'm in no fit state to think of anything! As far as I know, we shall go back to Dublin arriving there about April 1212, by boat from Cherbourg-Queenstown, and stay one night in Paris. [p.4 recto] As far as I can see we should either arrive in paris about 8 AM or about 10-52 PM.. So, granted that we get that damn boat, it would mean can you lunch?? However, until I have been into Genoa to find out, we cant make any plans. The boat is rather essential as it will save W. a lot of fatigue - no business of Calais-London-Holyhead-Kingstown.

He would like to see you very much en route.

So do, from all this incoherent 'egotism' understand why I cant see outside an infinitesimal area W & M - And dont think me too great a pig for not writing a 'less egotistical' letter.

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