The Material Question

‘In view of the fact that on arriving at the Château du Prieuré a considerable sum was urgently needed for furnishings, which would be impossible to earn at once, I began to look about for a possibility of obtaining a loan to cover the most pressing needs. My intention was to organize the work of the Institute for the time being in such a way that I could devote half of my time to earning money, and thus gradually pay off what I had borrowed.

‘I succeeded in arranging this loan in London, where I borrowed from various persons interested in the Institute. This was the first time I departed from the fundamental principle I had imposed upon myself fifteen years before: namely, to take on myself sole responsibility for the accomplishment of my work, without accepting any material help from the outside.

‘I can categorically affirm that until then, in spite of the enormous expenses, and the failures and losses brought about through no fault of mine but through the political and economic circumstances of the preceding years, I did not owe a cent to anyone; everything was the result of my own labour. Friends, and people who had interest in or sympathy for my ideas, had many times offered me money, but I had always refused, even at difficult moments, preferring to surmount the obstacles by my own efforts rather than betray my principles.

‘Having alleviated the immediate difficulty at the Prieuré by this loan, I set myself red-hot to work. My task at this period was, one can indeed say, superhuman. Sometimes I had to work literally twenty-four hours a day: all night long at Fontainebleau and the whole day in Paris, or vice versa. Even the time of travelling back and forth by train was taken up with correspondence or negotiations.

‘The work went well, but the excessive pressure of these months, immediately following eight years of uninterrupted labours, fatigued me to such a point that my health was severely shaken, arid despite all my desire and effort I could no longer maintain the same intensity.

‘In spite of the obstacles which hindered and restricted my work—the poor state of my health, the difficulty of carrying on business negotiations without knowing the language, and the number of my enemies, which increased, as has long ago become a law, proportionately with the number of friends—I nevertheless managed to accomplish within the first six months most of what I had planned to do.

‘Since for most of you Americans, particularly in modem times, the only effective stimulus for the flow of thoughts is the familiar image of a balance-sheet, I wish at least to enumerate for you, quite simply, the expenses that I succeeded in meeting from the time of my entering the Château du Prieuré up to my departure for your America.