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Asquith, Margaret Emma Alice (1864–1945), political hostess and diarist, wife of the 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith
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Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[London Hospital, Whitechapel?]—Asks to borrow his motor tomorrow and offers to pick him up. Encourages him to be nice to Margot, so that she will invite him on the 11th. The Prime Minister dare not ask Diana, though he longs to.

(Dated Sunday.)

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—(12th.) Is having an uneventful half-day off work, but will see Oliver and Anthony later. Discusses the progress of her injuries. Has dined with Major Hunter. Has received Montagu’s letter. Discusses her decision to remain in Wimereux, and refers to Bluey’s sadness at losing his position. Asks when Diana is coming to France, and about Margot’s attitude towards herself.—(Later.) Describes her evening with Noll and Anthony, and reflects on her moodiness.—(13th.) Feels better.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to [Edwin Montagu]

Penrhôs, Holyhead.—Has received his telegram but no letters. Viola and Margot would like some ducks [from Hickling] if he and and the ‘old Boy’ [Asquith] don’t get through them all. Has done nothing yet but walk to the beach. Suggests he go to Chester and Queensferry before coming to Penrhôs. Besides a large number of children, there are only ‘examples of Hugh Smith family’ there at present. She enjoyed the summer in London, and is looking forward to going to the Hebrides together.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to [Edwin Montagu]

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(11 Nov.) On Friday [9th], after dinner at Cassel’s, she and Margot shared a taxi driven by a Miss Ryder, who had been at the Slade School with Phyllis. At home she found Edward, Bluey, and Phyllis. Edward and Phyllis spent the night together. Phyllis has now left. Today she lunched with friends, including Bluey, who is leaving for Canada next week on ‘air board business’. Has begun painting the silk for Montagu’s bed. Is dining with Cardie and William, who needs another operation.—(12 Nov.) Nash came to lunch, and she dined at Wimborne House. Ivor is having great success with Diana. Has been put in charge of a ward at the hospital.—(13 Nov.) Norah and Nancy Lindsay made an irritating visit in the afternoon.—[14 Nov.] She dined at home last night. Her guests included Cowans, who seemed more than usually hostile to Lloyd George, whose speech [in Paris] is endlessly discussed. She lunched with Willie Tyrrell and Bluey, who also discussed the speech. Has been unable to see Hankey or Eric since Montagu left. Is going tonight to a farewell party for Edward.—[Later.] Rosemary has denied there is much chance of her becoming the future Queen. ‘Oc is home, slightly gassed, & may be going to get both a brigade and a V.C!’—(15 Nov.) She dined with Ava, where she sat next to Josh Wedgwood, who gave her some earnest advice about Bampfylde Fuller’s letter in The Times. Afterwards she played bridge and went to a wedding-party at the Fairbairns’, which she left with the Baroness d’Erlanger, whom she likes. ‘J’aime toujours les maitresses de mes amants.’ She denies, however, that Hugo is her lover, even though Diana and the Baroness suspect it.—(16 Nov.) She dined at Osbert’s new house, and thought him and Sachie ‘a truly strange pair’.—(17 Nov.) She set off to see the Jimmy Rothschilds at Witney, but Dolly met her at the station to tell her that Neil had been fatally wounded, so went to Munstead instead for lunch. On her return home she found Montagu’s Cairo letter [B1/145]. Lloyd George is in a mess over his Air Ministry, but Northcliffe’s letter will do Northcliffe more harm than Lloyd George. Denies that she is unhappy. Last night she dined with the Roy and various guests.—(18 Nov.) Asks about the carpets at Cairo.—(19 Nov.) She lunched with friends at the Savoy, and she and Diana reminisced about lunches there with Neil. She dined with the Baroness, who is having a row with Hugo about some infidelity of his. Has received a letter from Scatters, who has been in action. In the afternoon she went to a ‘ghastly’ party given by Sen in honour of his father [Keshub Chunder Sen], and this evening some friends called briefly on the way to a ball.—(20 Nov.) Wedgwood, who came to lunch, says that yesterday’s debate was a triumph for Lloyd George, and that Asquith’s position of ‘hands off the soldiers’ is unpopular with the Liberals. Has just visited William Rawle, who is convalescing after his operation.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(21 Nov.) Breccles needs a new hot-water supply, so she has planned to go down with Lutyens to the Nobles’ [Wretham Hall] to investigate. Will consult Surtees about further mortgages. This afternoon she went with Phyllis to see Viola's first night, and dined at home with guests.—(22 Nov.) She lunched with Nancy and Sydney, whom she dislikes. She dined [at home] with guests, including Coates, who is still in love with Diana.—(22 Nov.) Is dining with Cardie, K, and Asquith, which she thinks is a good sign. After the hospital she played tennis with Edgar and lunched with Hankey and Masterton, who is increasingly ‘soppy’ about Winston. Both seemed disappointed by the failure of the latest attack. Has just heard that Edward has been killed. Reflects on the number of friends who have been, and may be, killed.—(24 Nov.) Has not seen Diana yet, as she was at K’s and did not come to the hospital. Last night she dined with only Cardie and the Old Boy, and she and Asquith reminisced about Sicily. Today she lunched at the Curzons, where Hardinge and Curzon made friendly remarks about Montagu. She had tea with Viola and Hugo, who plans to start a small theatre with Nigel Playfair. She dined with Duff, and Patrick and Phyllis arrived later. Patrick is worried that he may have to marry Phyllis, but she has a new lover, Edgar Vincent.—(25 Nov.) After the hospital she saw Diana, who is wretched but determined to give Duff as much fun as possible. She lunched and dined with Pat, Duff, and Diana, and were joined by Phyllis and Hugo came in later.—(26 Nov.) She lunched with de Noailles, and went to see K and Frances. Discusses the effects of Edward’s death. She dined at Mansfield Street. Refers to the progress of Montagu’s bed.—(27 Nov.) She lunched at home with guests, including Birrell and Freyberg, whom she could not get to talk to each other; then, after visiting Frances, she went to the cinema with her ‘futurist friend’ Wyndham Lewis, and then to Cardie’s for a farewell party for Oc, though he has now got a fortnight’s extension. It is rumoured that he is engaged to Betty Manners.—(28 Nov.) She had lunch with Waxworks and Mikky, then sewed and read with Diana and Duff. She dined at Claude Lowther’s with Goonie, the Duke of Marlborough (who Duff thinks may be Goonie’s lover), and others. Lowther’s house is lovely, but his bedroom is ridiculous. ‘If you had wanted to caricature a bugger’s bedroom you couldnt have done it differently.’ She returned home to find Diana, Duff, and Pat reading.—(29 Nov.) Lord Lansdowne’s letter [to the Daily Telegraph, calling for a negotiated peace with Germany], more because she doesn’t want to lose anyone else than because she thinks it right. K[atharine] and Viola, who, with Diana, dined with her, disagreed violently on the subject.—(1 Dec.) The King and Queen visited the hospital yesterday and asked after Montagu. The King referred to Mrs Besant as an ‘odious woman’. Afterwards she visited Montagu’s mother and went to a party at the India Office to meet some Indian officers. Birrell, Phyllis, and Blanche dined with her. She and Lutyens are lunching together today, then going off with the Nobles.

Wretham Hall, Thetford.—Describes Wretham Hall and its estate.

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(2 Dec.) She drove with Lutyens to Breccles and they examined the house and discussed what needs to be done. They returned to Wretham for lunch, and are now off to London. (3 Dec.) Has received his letter from Aden [B1/146].

(The first sheet was rewritten on 1 December, the original having been lost.)

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

In the train to Brighton.—(20th.) Her good habit of writing daily has broken down. Has received his telegram, and discusses the carpet offered to him. She dined on the day after she last wrote [11th] with Frances and Haldane, who is surprisingly ‘anti-Rufus [Lord Reading]’, cares little for Addison, and thinks Bongie ‘worse than useless’. On the Saturday [12th] she dined at Clemmie and Winston’s. Winston is eager for Montagu to return home, as he thinks he would be an ally in the Government. At the time he was worried about the threatened strike by the ASE [Amalgamated Society of Engineers]. On Sunday [13th] she played bridge at Adèle’s and dined with Duff, who had been staying with Diana Wyndham and Rosemary, with whom he is a little in love. Duff is angry with Bettine for making Eddie Grant [her husband] wait in vain for her in Paris for over two weeks. On Monday [14th] she dined at home with guests, then they went to a party at Adèle’s. Duff is no longer in love with Goonie. On Tuesday [15th] she dined with Arkers, then went to a party at Frankie de Tuyll’s. Diana has tonsillitis and has gone to Brighton. On Wednesday [16th] she dined at Cardie’s and lunched with Viola. On Thursday [17th] she dined at Lionel Earle’s, and Earle talked about his work at Windsor and in the Parks. On Friday [19th] she went to a party for Puffin at 20 Cavendish Square, and sat next to the ‘old boy’ [Asquith], who inquired kindly after Montagu. Yesterday [19th] she dined with K[atharine], and today [20th] she is going to Brighton to join Diana, Michael, Duff, Rosemary, and Diana Wyndham. She is worried the Duchess will spoil things. Olga is also on the train.

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(23rd.) At Brighton they all lunched at Sweetings and then went, without the Duchess, to the Aquarium. On Monday [21st] she lunched with Montagu’s mother, and ‘that foul woman’ Miss Lewis (Lily’s friend) was there. She dined at Cardie's, where it was suggested that William should go to Ireland as Ivor’s military secretary. Afterwards they went to a party at Olga’s, where Miss Barnes and Miss James sang, Hugo did stunts, and Duff ‘got off with an American pol & left the house very obviously bound for a crack’. Last night [2nd] she had a dinner-party at home, followed by stunts. Winston, who was there, seemed to enjoy himself. ‘I’m sure he yearns for fun, and Clemmie gives him none.’ Today [23rd] she went again to the VAD. Has received his telegram and replied with the measurements. Has ordered some plain carpets for the bedrooms. Is planning to furnish the hall before anything else. Oc’s leg has been amputated, and the PM has gone over to see him. This is probably the last leter she will write to India.—(24th.) Last night she dined at the de Forests', and she spent today at Taplow. Ettie is very unhappy about Patrick. Bluey has come back from America but is very ill with blood-poisoning. K has gone to visit him at Liverpool. Has bought a chest of drawers and given the housemaid notice.—(27th.) Has received his letter; he seems to have got off well with Lady Ronaldshay. Bluey has recovered slightly. Yesterday she bought some furniture, and Duffy and Diana came to dinner.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

In the train to Breccles.—Has received his letters up to 10 February. Is sorry he is depressed. She has heard that he is now not expected back till early May. Discusses the progress of work at Breccles. Has been to Bath with Bluey and her mother and bought some furniture. As Sidney Herbert is on leave they have had parties most eve-nings. Michael goes back to France in a week, but doesn’t seem fit to go. She dined last night at Lady Paget’s. She is thinking of spending a day at the Wharf for a day af-ter Easter, after going to Pixton. Sylvia is ill and has to have a large operation; Card-ie’s operation is on Saturday.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—(Later.) Has spent the day inspecting the progress of work at Breccles. She gave a dinner-party tonight and they read Montagu’s ‘Indian’s poem’. Is dining with friends tomorrow. They are coping with the rationing and there have been few air-raids recently. She has recently lunched with Lord D[erby] and dined with Victoria Primrose, whom she hadn’t seen since Neil was killed. Has bought some books for Breccles, but no clothes at all since he left. Reminds him to get her some Toute la Forêt [perfume] in Paris.

Letter from Edwin Montagu to Venetia Stanley

Ewelme Down, Wallingford.—Is sorry he couldn't go to Penrhôs. Refers to his companions at Ewelme. Discusses Asquith’s speech on Home Rule, as well as the general political climate, and asks for Venetia’s views. Sends her a present.

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Transcript

Ewelme Down, Wallingford
April 14th 1912

My dear Venetia

I was so sorry that I could not come to Penrhos this week. It was most kind of your mother to ask me and even though I was engaged here, I believe I should have rushed to Wales if I had not had to be in London yesterday.

I like this place tremendously but I am not calling this a very good weekend. The Prime is not in the best of form yet, I’m afraid and it makes poor Margot just a little —. Violet has Cys and Bongie and I want to talk to you. So beware of next time we meet.

Home Rule (I wish you’d been there) was a great day. The Prime expounded with great vigour and often with a first class phrase a really good bill. It was delightful to find his voice was very strong and that he lasted without visible effort for two hours.

I dont think he was quite appealing enough, if I may make criticism.

It was not merely a licensing bill or a budget it was a transcendent constitutional reform, great than the Parliament Bill because irrevocable and final. It had been attacked in the abstract by a large number of people whose alternative was nothing, so it wanted commending not only in its provisions but in its principles. I suspect because he did not want to speak too long, and also because he was determined not to try to bend the bow of Ulysses he was determined in his conciseness. And of course of its kind it was wonderful, never faltering in its strength, never lacking in its courage and above all never flickering in its dignity.

And there was the usual display of Conservative littleness, of meanness, of caddishness and rather a poor performance of Carsons. Both Redmund and Macdonald were good and so in his sincere stupid way was Capt. Craig.

For myself I feel that Home Rule is the most unarguable proposition in politics. For Imperial and for Irish reasons its not only inevitable but its opposition cannot be based on logic. Nevertheless in application like so many other unarguable axioms its very very difficult and all sorts of criticisms will be levelled at the workmanship.

So that what with an overloaded programme and no signs of House of Lords reform, the political horizon is by no means rosy. Edward Grey is very gloomily prophesying opposition before the end of the year because he predicts more strikes.

Dear Venetia, if you will do me the great favour of answering them, I should like you to tell me what you think about these things. You have a wonderful faculty of producing from me frank expression of views without qualification. You have a power even at this most damnable distance of convincing me of clear vision and and† thought. But you are most frighteningly reserved about yourself. All self contained people are and the greater they are the more frightening it is. And asking isnt much good but I sometimes feel rather mournful when I reflect that the inner you is as hidden from me (except at moments oh so rare) as it was a year ago.

And now do you remember that I could not find a Xmas present for you and you were generous enough to say that I might give you one when I found one.

Well I couldnt so I had one made and its rather a failure in colour and weight. Nevertheless in principle it fulfilled all the conditions I postulated and if its not turned out as I had imagined it, its there and will reach you—together with the drawing from which it was designed tomorrow.

Yrs ever
Edwin S. Montagu

Please forgive this letter being hypercritical, boring and I fear a little impertinent.

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† Sic.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Asks him to lend his Baedeker for Sicily to her father. Is sorry he was unhappy about his speech; everyone else thought it good. Invites him to lunch or tea.

(Dated Tuesday.)

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Tuesday

I wonder whether you still have in your possession your Sicilian Baedeker! If you have will you lend it to my father who is going there soonish. He is of an economical turn of mind and doesnt like the idea of getting a new one. Strange old fellow.

I am so sorry you were unhappy about your speech. Because everyone else really did think it good. The P.M. Margot etc, but of course if you were not satisfied about it, the fact that other people thought it good is not much comfort.

Do come here one day, tea lateish Friday, I mean about 6 or if you’d rather, lunch, not Thursday. I hate lunch, but possibly its your easiest moment. How wonderful the Prime was

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

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Black-edged paper.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Has received his letter from near Bombay [B1/55]. Sends news of the Asquiths, with whom she spent most of last week, at Downing Street. Some friends are coming tomorrow, and Bongie and Mikky have just been. Is going to learn fencing, and has been skating and hunting. Urges him to check the untruths spread by the Eye Witness and Belloc. Bluey’s manner of answering questions in the Commons has been laughed at. She will go back to London after the Pride of Cheshire’s wedding.

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Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Nov 6th 1912 Wednesday

Thank you for a letter (if you can call such a sparse communication one!) written just before reaching Bombay {1}. I got the impression that your journey had gone on being fairly dull all the time.

I spent most of last week in London, staying at Downing St. I saw not very much of the P.M. Do you remember saying how much he varied in his liking for me, and that sometimes he quite liked me and at others not at all, well this was one of the not at all times. He was horribly bored by my constant presence at breakfast, lunch and dinner (Oliver interrupts me to play chess, I hope I shall beat him). He seemed much better tho’ and said his shoulder didnt hurt him at all and he was playing golf regularly. I was very glad to see the old boy again, he is quite one of my favorite people. Margot was very funny, Violet said she had been rather complaining and crusty lately and still very much against Violet’s and my habit of seeing and liking to see our friends rather than our acquaintances. The first day I was there I was slightly crushed, or should have been if it had been anyone but Margot, by her saying to me when we were out together. “I cant tell you how sick I get of seeing your face, I can cry sometimes at the sight of you and Bluey and Bongie and Violet together.” Poor Margot I am very sorry for her as she certainly does have to see it pretty often. You will be a Godsend to her when you come back after 5 months absence, we shall almost be able to pretend that you are an acquaintance and be able to see you without bringing down on our heads this storm of abuse. Beyond this she was very nice to me. I have only once resented anything that Margot said to me and that only because I was in as nervy a condition as she was, which was when she told me I had on purpose poisoned Violet with veronal at Archerfield just after Archie died! It makes me laugh now, but I never felt more miserable than I did at the moment.

Violet was very anxious to have a months training at the London Hospital and go out and nurse the Bulgars, they are all the most violent Bulgophils. Her father as you can imagine was highly unsympathetic about this. They used to discuss it every morning at breakfast. She says all her friends except Edgar have shown the greatest lack of understanding and immagination† about her desire to do this and she is thinking of writing a play exposing them all. Conversation with her has become rather difficult as she is learning Italian from a certain Signor Rossi who comes twice a week. She knows far more, after 2 lessons than I did after 6 months Berlitz so dont ever again say that her brains arent in every way superlatively good. What ruins her conversation is that as soon as one is alone with her she starts conjugating “Essere” or “Avere” or repeating the days of the week. Perhaps this partly explains the immense progress. I saw hardly anyone in London except Geoffrey for one instant at the House, he is coming here tomorrow, also Violet, Raymond Katharine, Bluey, Hugh and Dudley Ward. Dadley† Ward I have not yet seen, I hear he is in wonderful spirits and looks 20 years younger and that he told you that women were the most unaccountable creatures. Bongie and Mikky were here over Sunday, Mikky was in his most sympathetic and inarticulate mood, he was able to exercise his sympathy on Huck who was very ill, and on me for minding about him. Bongie is learning french, whith which he makes slow progress, partly because his teacher gives him nothing but the most ob-scure and useless verbs, ones which I have spoken french for 20 years without using, to learn. I cant keep pace with this desire for education which is spreading from Downing St, but I am going to learn to fence as soon as I go to London next week, and on Monday I skated in Manchester and had a lesson. I hunted yesterday for the first time, I had forgotten how glorious it was, my only horse is lame tho’. I tell you this because you have always been very sympathetic and interested (or feigned it successfully) in my stable troubles.

As for the “Eye Witness” and Belloc I wish you would go for them and hound them out of existence. Not that it much matters what lies they tell, for not a soul believes them, but no one thinks it worth while to notice what they say, the result is a riot of untruth which goes on unchecked week after week.

Did you see that dear little Bluey got terribly laughed at when answering some of your questions for his clerical manner?

Whilst your letters get shorter & shorter mine seem to lengthen every time I write, we must try a more even distribution. Write a long account of what you are doing and I will cease to give you such minute accounts of what I have said and done.

I go to London Tuesday, after the Pride of Cheshires wedding {2} (I have managed to get the title Prize of Cheshire bestowed on me by the Prime, as you can well believe this gave rise to a lot of the kind of conversation which he enjoys and which Margot abhors) for 3 weeks.

I must stop.

Goodbye
Venetia

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{1} MONT II B1/55.

{2} Barbara Tomkinson married Captain Walter Thornton Hodgson at St Helen’s, Tarporley, on Tuesday, 12 November. See The Times, 13 Nov., p. 13.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Thanks him for his letter from Peshawar. Since she last wrote the Government have been defeated (on the Banbury amendment) and Violet and Geoffrey have been reconciled. Gives an account of her recent stay at the Wharf with the Asquiths and their guests. Has come to Alderley to rehearse the play and to hunt, before going to the Wharf again. Has been reading and fencing.

(Dated the 21st, a Thursday, but Thursday is referred to at one point as ‘yesterday’. The letter was probably begun on the 21st and continued the next day.)

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Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Nov 21st 1912

Thank you for a letter from Peshawar {1}. I am glad you are having such fun. Its hard for me not to fill several sheets of triumphant “I told you so” but I will resist. You didnt say how long you were going to stay there but long enough I expect to become as brave as a lion with all the corpses lying about. Since I wrote to you last everything has happened the Government defeated and Violet reconciled to Geoffrey. Reconciled is perhaps hardly the right word, but at any rate she is now slightly less hostile to him. She says that both he and Mr Illingworth are like men who have gone through some terrible mental experience, atheists having had a dramatic and sudden conversion, and Geoffrey is consequently gentle and muted. I havent seen him but I expect its true. The row in the House I missed. Wasnt it cruel. I had been there all the afternoon and heard the P.M. and Bonar (perky and smart and rude and vulgar as usual) and then Banbury the hero of the hour got up and it was 6.30 and I was going to the Club so I went home. I blame and blamed Bongie most bitterly for not letting me know when the row started and I should have been there in lots of time. But he is so unimaginative that just because he doesnt personally think rows exciting and deprecates my love of them, he would never dream of telling one if there was any thing on foot. I cant help being rather glad that it was Winston who was hit, as he wasnt hurt, as it has absolutely turned him from any Tory sympathy and he now swears that next to fighting the Germans the next thing he wants to do is to fight and beat the Tories. Besides I believe if it had been Excie he would have made some terrible remark in acknowledging the apology. The day after the row every one packed into the house, the Speakers Gallery was crammed for prayers, a ceremony I had never seen before, and then as you know nothing happened. It must have been agonising being away didnt you nearly embark at once for home. It would have been a bitter fulfillment of you† soothsayers prophecy.

Saturday {2} I motored down with the Prime to the Wharf. It was delicious seeing him again, I hadnt had any kind of talk with him since the end of the summer, he was in very good spirits I thought in spite of the crisis. He didnt as you can imagine talk much about it and our conversation ran in very well worn lines, the sort that he enjoys on those occasions and which irritate Margot so much by their great dreariness. I love every well know word of them and for me the familiarity is a large part of the charm. The Wharf I had never seen before and thought very nice tho’ as a solitary country place for a large gregarious family full of the most obvious drawbacks. Our party was only Margot, O.S. Raymond, Katharine, and Bluey, Violet was in Dublin {3}. We played lots of good steady family auction and I played a certain amount of chess with Raymond and the Prime with mixed but fairly satisfactory results. I dont get any better tho’ which is a bore. On Sunday we went to Fritwell (Simon’s house) I thought it very nice, it is a pity Margot didnt get that whilst she was about buying a house. We had a good Sicilian relevage at dinner and lots of the old questions. I do wish there was a chance of something of the kind again, I dont remember now if I enjoyed it so keenly at the moment, but it has certainly left the most delicious after impression. Its one of the things I have done which gives me the greatest fun to think about. Violet and I both agree as to this. I came here Thursday (yesterday) for rehearsals of the play and also to hunt which I did today and am doing tomorrow. After hunting I am going to the Wharf again, a party without Margot and the Prime. I’ve been quite alone here and have been reading the 2nd vol of Dizzy’s life which is quite amusing also a very good book of parodies by Max Beerbohm which I am going to send you. The only crab of them is that they are so like the originals that they almost cease to be funny. My pleasure in my own society is growing on me in an allarming† way, I dont know what to do about it.

I’ve taken to fencing, Katharine and I do it 3 times a week its such fun. I am trying to make Violet start too partly because I think she would like it and also because I think the Downing St garden would be such a good place to do it in in the summer.

We all miss you very much in London.

Tell me what kind of things you like hearing about I wander lost-ly and copiously amongst the mass of things I could write about, and probably eliminate just what you want to know.

My letters get longer and longer I swore this should be a short one.

Yrs
V

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{1} This has not survived.

{2} 16 November.

{3} She was staying with the Aberdeens at the Vice-Regal Lodge. See Lantern Slides, pp. 343¬–4.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Montagu’s calm response to the Government’s defeat seems justified. Sends news of the Asquiths and other friends. Is going to Stanway tomorrow, then to Rounton. There will be a large party at Alderley at Christmas.

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Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Dec 11th 1912

Since I wrote to you last I’ve had another letter {1}, you’d just heard of the defeat, I am surprised at your calmness, I should have expected you to have been in a fever about it. You were perfectly right not to be excited as things have gone, for I dont believe it has done much harm, (beyond the tedious loss of a fortnights valuable time) everyone has almost forgotten that there ever was a Banbury amendment or that all the Tories howled everyone, including the Speaker, down.

You mention a “cryptic” remark of mine, I havent a notion what it was, but I am sure that far from having an obscure meaning it had probably none at all. You cannot get it sufficiently firmly fixed in your mind that the simplest and most foolish meaning is as a rule the right one to attach to my remarks! I am sorry Peel is a bore, but in spite of it you seem to be having great fun and doing and seeing most delicious things. Everything in England has been very dull, so dont believe the papers if they say it hasnt. I’ve just come back from London where it was quite fun, not varying in the smallest degree from the usual course of things. I saw a lot of Violet, a little of the P.M. and the usual amount of Bongie, Mikky, Bluey Geoffrey etc. Violet’s friendship with Geoffrey still continues to make good progress, dont when you write to her say you hear that she is quite converted, it would be quite enough to make her fall back into her old way. The Prime seemed in very good spirits whenever I did see him, one night dining at the House with Bluey he was at his very best, most lovable and most foolish, His “Muse” as he chooses to call it, has burst into song again, which is always I think a sign that he has superabundant spirits and vitality. Has Violet written to you, I know she is on the verge of it, anyway you will have heard that she is going to America with Lady Aberdeen for 3 weeks, starting on the 19th. Isnt it a good plan, but I’m glad its she and not I. Margot is over the moon about it, but I am afraid she may be disappointed as to the result of the journey. Margot is not very well I think, she seems rather crusty and edgy, and doesnt feel at all well. I wish something could be done about her and for her.

I am fixed here for two days for a beastly ball tomorrow and then I go to Stanway (Cynthia) which ought to be fun, a party of Professors and H. G. Wells. My horse is still lame to so I have to get along as best I can by borrowing and hiring which is sad work. After Stanway I have to go to Rounton to stay with my cousin Gertrude {2} which hangs very heavily on me, I shant like it at all. We have a vast Xmas party coming here, Bongie, Mikky, {3} Francis Henley as well as all my brothers brothers in law sisters sisters in law and all their family, I shall enjoy that once my acting is over, which blackens even the rosiest outlook.

This letter will reach you just between Christmas and New Year so I shall send you compound good wishes for both occasions. I hope 1913 will bring you masses of good luck.

I am sorry for the dullness of this letter.

I saw Conrad the other day who sent you his love.

Yrs
Venetia

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{1} MONT II B1/56.

{2} Gertrude Bell.

{3} Comma supplied.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—(25th.) Has received a letter from him [B1/57]. No-one thinks him responsible for anything that has occurred lately [i.e. the silver scandal]. The reason he has not received any letters is probably that he has not written to anyone. If he were to return to England by early March the Indian finance debate might be postponed, and then he could handle it instead of Bluey. She has just returned from a stay with Gertrude Bell, during which she went to a ball at Mrs Dugdale’s. Maurice thinks that Montagu is about to leave the Liberal Party. They have just come to the end of a strenuous Christmas Day, and she must be up early tomorrow for a final rehearsal.—(26th.) Has received another letter from him [B1/58].

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Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Christmas Day 1912

I’ve just had a letter from you {1}. I cant bear the idea that you should think, even for an instant, that anyone who knows you at all has ever imagined that you were remotely responsible for anything that has occured† lately. Everyone knows that you have nothing and could have nothing to say or do in the matter. Its horrible not having any letters (tho’ by the time you get this you will have had 2 from Violet I know and probably several from Margot) but the explanation is very simple: you havent yourself written to anyone. Bluey hasnt had a word from you about anything he has been doing, and I dont suppose you have written to Bongie or Mikky either. Have you?

I hear you are thinking of staying away till the beginning of April. Do you think that is a good plan? Why dont you hurry up your journeys a bit and get home by about March 10th. If they knew you were going to be back by then perhaps they would postpone the Indian Finance Debate (it will be a great crush wont it to get it in before the February {2} adjournment and your return would be an excellent reason for delaying it a little.) Wouldnt it be much more satisfactory for you to be there, for Bluey, good as he is, cant know much about it. More than I do, however, who am probably talking nonsense about the whole situation. Have you a great deal more to do and see? You dont say whether you killed your tiger. I hope so. I’ve just come home from staying with Gertrude Bell, I went to a ball at the house of your friend Mrs Dugdale. Maurice told me he had met you in Scotland, he amused me by telling me as a great secret that he thought you would not long remain in the Liberal Party. That you were disgusted by their excesses! Are you?

We’ve just come to the end of a most strenuous Xmas Day, not one item left out. Snapdragon, Church, Waits, and very long traditional card game which we only play on Xmas day, which begins immediately after dinner and is only just now over. (12.30). I’ve done very well in the way of loot. I had masses of things to tell you about, but my pencil has no point, and I dont write in bed with comfort, and I am very sleepy, and I must be up lark early tomorrow for a final Rehearsal.

I hope you’ll be back before the end of March, I am sure, tho’ I know nothing about it, that it would be worth while.

Mikky sends you his love, he is writing to you, he tells me

Yrs
V

Boxing Day

I’ve just had a second letter from you {3}. Thank you so much.

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Written in pencil.

{1} MONT II B1/57.

{2} Spelling uncertain.

{3} MONT II B1/58.