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Naidu, Sarojini (1879–1949), politician and poet Imagem Com objeto digital
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Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Urges her not to postpone her holiday. Gives an account of his meeting with the folk-song collector.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 14. 46

My dear

I have just had a letter from you dated June 11 {1} in which you speak of possibly putting off your trip to Isle of Wight so as not to miss my homecoming. I hope you will not do this because it is still quite uncertain as to when I shall be able to get away. And you really need not be worried if when it comes to it you have to keep your room in I o W waiting for a day or two. I think you & I are entitled to a little personal life (even if we are keeping others out of a room for a day or two) after all that we have gone through.

As far as I can see the earliest likely date for me to get away is the middle of next week & I may be here for another fortnight. You ought to know for certain about a week before I am actually due to arrive. Our political barometer here continues to go up & down.

I had a most interesting evening last night. A Dutchman who has been collecting Indian folk songs came & sang a great many to me. Mrs Naidu was there. The songs were weird but fascinating. He ended up with our English one “Bold Fisherman”.

All my love
Boy.

I kiss you dear Sweetheart! I am very well.

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{1} PETH 8/80.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Reflects on the colourfulness of Indian life. The mission are awaiting the results of their statement, and he has made his broadcast and addressed the press.—(Later.) Jinnah threatens not to answer for three or four weeks, but others have made encouraging signs.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
May 18. 46

My own very dear Beloved.

I have had to say to myself tht it is no good letting my heart or my head be obsessed with the idea tht I want to be home for 26th May. I came out here to do a certain job & I have just got to stay till it’s finished; & that’s that. As soon as it is finished I shall come home as fast as I can, you may be sure, to be with my old love again, & the day I come back & see you whatever it be according to the calendar will be our 26th May—our 45th anniversary!

I am so delighted to hear in your letters of how full your days have been with pleasurable activity. It is music in my ears; for I do so love to know tht you are enjoying yourself.

As for me my life here is full of colour & experience. Colour on the physical plane. The powerful sun, the flaming trees, the flashing birds, the darting chipmunks & lizards. The trees are red (Gold Mahar), gold (Cassia Sistilla) & apple-blossom tinted (Cassia Nodosa). Colourful personalities Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Wavell[,] to say nothing of people like Meliscent Shepherd, Mrs Naidu, Agatha Harrison & our own delegations & the secretaries.

So far in all the “changing vicissitudes of this mortal life” I have been upheld to keep my balance & my health. I eat well, digest well, sleep well & remain unfretted, remembering as Maud {1} said in Kashmir tht it is nt I that am doing it but He.

So my beloved I am patient & I am sure you will be also to await the day of our recession when it comes in His good will. I do not think it will be so very long before the work is finished here but it is still quite impossible to say.

Our D-day has come & gone, & we are awaiting its result. Our message {2} has not so far evoked any violent antagonism. I have made my broadcast {3}[,] addressed my press conference, met individual editors & so far it has been sunny weather. All this may be dashed at any minute but let us at any rate bask in the sunshine while it lasts!

Evening. As I anticipated, some clouds have darkened the sun & Jinnah threatens not to give us an answer for 3 or 4 weeks! {4} I really don’t know what to make of it. But there are still many encouraging signs. Brailsford, Sapru & many others have sent us delightfully enthusiastic congratulations. At the moment it looks as if Congress will come in. I see Lord Samuel spoke some very kind words about me in the H of Lords on Thursday May 16. I hope you got a copy.

And so my darling, my true heart, my beloved, my dear Wife I send you my love & blessing for May 26.

Your very own loving Boy.

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There are a number of characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} Maud Coote.

{2} The statement by the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy, published on the 16th. See Transfer of Power, vol. vii, No. 303.

{3} Transfer of Power, vol., vii, No. 303.

{4} See Transfer of Power, vol., vii, No. 322. The word ‘weeks’ is underlined three times.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Reflects on the mission’s first fortnight, and sends greetings from friends. Alexander is better, but they have decided not to go to Agra. The mission still plan to go to Kashmir for Easter, but will not go to Simla.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
April 7. 46

My own Darling

Another Sunday has come round—a fortnight since we arrived. Light, heat[,] colour, experience, endeavour, endless patience, endurance & my family motto “per ardua stabilis”. My body is a perfect “brick”. It has neverd† wavered in its allegiance & has played the game magnificently. My spirit has not flagged. Your noble words written before I left {1}, to the effect that in a measure you & I had already escaped from the wheel of life & death have come to me from time to time. Your love token bearing witness to our relationship to the central life is with me. It is of course much too early even to begin to think of the time when I shall be coming back. There are many rivers still to cross, many adventures still to undertake, many problems still to face. But these are all part of the great enterprise on which I have set out & which God-willing I have to carry through to a successful issue.

Of one thing I am convinced—tht the fact of my coming @ 74 years of age has of itself had a considerable effect on Indian opinion. I send you a most friendly leading article; naturally they are not all like tht. One paper in paticular† is fond of writing the most disagreeable things. I call it “Albert’s arsenic[”]. (Albert Alexander is infuriated by it). Of course there are endless photo-graphs & cartoons. One of me as a cook is perhaps the best likeness. The other pictures I send are not of me at all but I have not cut them off as they illustrate the cartoonists art.

I went to the Quaker’s† service again today & met Mrs Pandit who sent greeting to you, Mrs Naidu & her daughter, Miss Shepherd, & a great many others including Mrs Brailsford who is coming with her husband to dine with us tonight {2}.

The temperature went up to 104º yesterday & is probably about the same today but my bed-room is “air conditioned” & comparatively cool. It is there tht I am now writing. I am very particular about wearing my topi whenever I go out, but medical opinion appears to have undergone a complete revolution since we were here 20 years ago. They now say tht if you wear dark glasses when you go out you need nt worry much about anything else. They may be right but I am not taking any chances.

Alexander is over his little indisposition but we abandoned our trip to Agra & the Taj in consequence of it. We are still planning to spend a few days in Cashmir for Easter but have abandoned any idea of going to Simla & personally so far as tht is concerned I had much rather stay here. For one thing I think we shall get on more expeditiously with our work, & if we can finish it in time to be back before th end of May you know what tht will mean to me.

Abundance of fruit for breakfast is a great joy. Today we had some strawberries.

Lydia’s watch stands me in good stead please give her my love. I hope sister May will enjoy her visit to some one[,] I forget whom. All my love to her.

Darling your very own
Boy

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} See PETH 8/68. The ‘love token’ mentioned shortly afterwards is evidently the ‘keepsake’ mentioned in Lady Pethick-Lawrence’s letter.

{2} Evamaria Brailsford's husband, H. N. Brailsford, had been sent to India by Reynolds’s News to observe the provincial elections. See F. M. Leventhal, The Last Dissenter (1985), p. 286.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

2 Willingdon Crescent, New Delhi.—Has dined with Mrs Naidu, and is seeing Gandhi on Monday. Cripps met Jinnah today. The most pressing issues are the Hindu-Muslim dispute over Pakistan, and the time gap before independence. Is going to a Quaker service tomorrow, which Jinnah and Nehru are expected to attend.

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Transcript

2 Willingdon Crescent {1}
Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi

March 30. 46

Dearest.

It has been a very great pleasure to me to get your letter dated Mch 23 & to hear all your news about golf & the garden. Incidentally it marks the contrast between England & India when you speak with satisfaction about the the winter being nearly past & the summer being at hand, while we are rather regretting that summer is upon us & with its coming the flowers (we are told) wither away. Also 95º in the day & 67º at night is quite manageable but an advance of a further 10º or 20º is not an entrancing prospect. However I have still some reductions of cloth-ing to be made & I am not at all alarmed at the prospect. As a matter of fact I seem to have brought exactly the right things away with me.

We are on the threshold of the real purpose of our coming here. Mrs Naidu dined with us last night—still full of energy & fun at 67. We explored some of the ground. I gave her greeting from you. Gandhi has agreed to come here on Monday evening {2} to see me. Stafford Cripps saw Jinnah today. We have to build bridges over two gaps (1) the Hindu-Moslem dispute over Pakistan (2) the time gap between now & the full realisation of independence by India.

So far this first week has produced as much fruit as could be reasonably xpected, but the real test is to come. I remain an optimist. Both the Mission & the V seem to be agreed tht I shd do most of the talking to all the people who come to the discussions. It is a great responsibility but I am fortified by their confidence in me.

I am going to a quaker service in Delhi tomorrow & I understand Jinnah & Nehru are both xpected to be there. Later I am proposing to have a drive in my car[,] getting back in time to see someone @ 6. o’c.

My dear love to you
Boy

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘xpected’ for ‘expected’.

{1} This line of the address is handwritten.

{2} 1 April.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

2 Willingdon Crescent, New Delhi.—The Cabinet mission have met with the Executive Council, the Viceroy, and the Provincial Governors. Discussions proper begin next week, but Gandhi has been invited for a preliminary chat. Has engaged to dine with Agatha Harrison and Mrs Naidu.

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Transcript

2 Willingdon Crescent {1}
Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi

Mch 28. 46

My dear.

Since I wrote to you last my days have been more & more crowded up with engagements & I have had very little time to myself. We have been getting down to the main task of the mission & there is very little to tell you except wht has probably appeared in the British Press. We saw the V’s Executive Council on Tuesday {2} and after several talks with the V himself we saw the Provincial Governors for 4 hours this afternoon & are to see them again for 2 or 3 hours tomorrow morning {3}. Next week we are to start on the “discussions” proper on Monday {4} & they will continue for a fortnight. Among our visitors will be Gandhi {5} & I have invited him to come to this house for a previous chat a day or two before the formal interview.

The cool spell which we struck in Delhi has passed & we are now experiencing the normal weather of the year rising from about 80º to 90º. This is by no means unbearable but we are threatened with a further rise of 20º to 30º later on. It is all dry heat which is a great mercy.

I have taken to having a walk before breakfast about 7.30 to 8. Then to walk to my office through the V’s garden (about 10 min). I dont walk again till evening & then only if I have time.

I am looking forward to having a letter from you soon. I think you will probably find tht sending to the India Office as EK {6} does is better for I have already had several letters from her.

We have Agatha Harrison coming to dinner to night & tomorrow Mrs Sarojini Naidu. Saturday is a day with no engagements fixed at present & Sunday I am hoping Gandhi will be able to come at 7. PM.

Dear old Sweetheart I hope you are enjoying your dear self. It will be a great delight to come back to you but tht is a long way off yet.

Your own precious love
Boy.

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘wht’ for ‘what’.

{1} This line of the address is handwritten.

{2} 26 March.

{3} Notes of these meetings are printed in The Transfer of Power, vol. vii (Nos. 6, 7, 14, 17, and 20).

{4} 1 April.

{5} Gandhi’s name is written in large letters.

{6} Esther Knowles.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

In the train from Bombay to Madras.—Describes the journey to India, and identifies some fellow-passengers. Gives his impressions of Bombay, and refers to meetings with Mrs Naidu and other Indians.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

In the train from Bombay to Madras.
November 8th, 1926.

Though my wife and I have only been three days in India, so many crowded impressions have already been thrust upon us that I feel I must write them down at once for our friends at home before they are blurred by later images.

I must begin however with the voyage out, for our Indian education commenced almost immediately we stepped on the boat at Marseilles. It was a particularly full and representative ship for it was the most favoured date of the year for the return to India of those who had been fortunate enough to spend the “hot weather” in cooler climes than Asia.

Shipboard life makes for rapid acquaintanceship, and our shipmates included judges of the High Court of Bombay & Calcutta, soldiers of all commissioned ranks, civil servants, forest officers, traders, manufacturers, and commercial travellers. A score of Indians on board included Sir C. Ghose a High Court judge of Calcutta, Sir T. Vijagaraghavacharga (!) of Delhi who came straight from representing India with success in Canada, and Sleem {1} the famous lawn tennis player.

Social relationships between English and Indians are very often a little halting but my wife and I early got on to an excellent footing with all sections (Indian and English). In fact every one was not only very kind and friendly but most anxious to impress upon us their own point of view on Indian problems. Sometimes we could not help being amused by the anxiety, shown particularly by our English friends, lest we should come to hasty conclusions and publish them broadcast on our return.

A little later on when my experience has been amplified I will attempt to reproduce for you some of the principal views expressed and perhaps venture some criticism of my own, but for the present I will content myself with saying that we both felt that had we been obliged to return home immediately our ship reached Bombay the voyage would by no means have been wasted.

Our first sight of India was at sunrise on Friday morning, November 5, and before we could sit down to an early breakfast on ship board we were greeted by an old acquaintance in the person of Mr. Sheldon Bunting, son of the late Sir Percy Bunting, editor of the Contemporary Review. He told us at once that he intended us to stay with him during our time in Bombay—a most welcome proposition. After spending all the morning with us assisting us with purchases and arrangements he took us away in his car to his flat at the top of a very high building on a hill, and we spent the afternoon on his verandah overlooking the city.

Bombay has grown enormously since I was here 29 years ago, and has many modern streets and substantial modern buildings. It has also been subjected to a scheme of reclaiming land from the sea which is being at present warmly discussed in England. Part of this scheme consisted in erecting a colossal number of workmen’s tenements. We passed by a small section of them—rows and rows and rows of gaunt concrete blocks. The tragedy of it is that scores of thousands of these flats were put up without first ascertaining either that the people would like them or that the rents would be within their compass. Neither has materialised, and they stand to-day, empty, ugly,—and a heavy financial loss to the community;— {2} as pitiable an example of misdirected energy as it would be possible to find.

The day we arrived in India was the Hindu Festival of New Year {3}, and our host took us a walk in the early evening amid jostling crowds through highly illuminated streets. Afterwards all night through, fireworks and detonating Chinese crackers rent the air reminding us that at home on the same day (November 5th) Guy Fawkes’ day was also being celebrated in somewhat the same manner.

Next morning I had a long talk with one of the principal Labour men in India, widely acknowledged to be of great character and sincerity. I put him several searching questions relating to the effect of wider self government upon the position of the Indian workers. I found that though he fully realised the danger of the capitalist point of view prevailing under self Government, he held that this was a risk in the stage that India had to pass through. Moreover he maintained that the idea that the present British rule really safeguarded the worker against the capitalist had little foundation in fact. He urged however that a wide franchise should be given when the time came not the narrow one proposed in the India Commonwealth Bill.

In the afternoon after a most interesting talk with Mr. Solomon, director of the Bombay School of Art {4}, we both went to tea with Mrs. Naidu who presided last year at the Indian National Congress. She had invited to meet us nearly all the leading politically-minded people (other than Swarajists) in Bombay. We had a most interesting talk with them hearing their point of view, learning why some of them had left the Swaraj party and realising afresh that practically all the differences that divide parties among Indians are matters of tactics and that on principles they all stand unanimous in their demand for Dominion Self Government.

On Sunday {5} we lunched with Mrs. Naidu and this time she had invited her Swarajist friends to meet us and we found many points of contact with our militant suffrage agitation. One of the men was wearing the plain homespun cotton cap and tunic made by a village woman; explaining to us the idea underlying Gandhi’s crusade for the restoration of home industries.

Returning to the home of our kind host for dinner we completed our arrangements and set off at 10 p.m. on our 33 hour journey to Madras.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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{1} Mohammed Sleem.

{2} The semi-colon and dash are typed one on top of another.

{3} The festival celebrated on this day was in fact Diwali, the so-called ‘festival of lights’. The date of the Hindu New Year, which varies throughout India, occurs either in March or April.

{4} William Ewart Gladstone Solomon (1880-1965), Principal of the Government School of Art at Bombay from 1919. (The School is also called by the name of its founder, Jamsethji Ji-jabhai. According to Who Was Who, Gladstone Solomon did not become Director till 1929.)

{5} 7 November.

Draft of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Jawaharlal Nehru

Sends good wishes on the occasion of India’s independence. The arrangements fall short of what he should have liked to see, but are far better than he once dared hope for. Is sorry he was unable to stay the full course (as Secretary of State), but is pleased by the appointments of Mountbatten and Mrs Naidu.

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Transcript

Copy

Aug 26. 47

My dear Nehru,

I h waited until now to write to you to send you my heartfelt good wishes, for though you are probably none the less busy, at least the excitement of the transition is over & you will be able to settle down to your stupendous task.

I imagine that you & I are in pretty close agreement about what has taken place. To me the solution falls far short of what I should have liked to see & yet it is far better than at one time I dared to hope. Looking back over the little more than two years tht have elapsed since I was directly association with Indian affairs I feel profoundly thankful tht such great changes have been peacefully accomplished & tht you have the opportunity for which your life has so well prepared you for directing the destiny of so large a part of the human race.

I was sorry not to be able to stay the full course myself. You know the American who said “in our country the trees are so tall tht it takes two men to see them, one looks as far up as he can & the other sees from there to the top” I went as far as I could & my successor saw to the end. And I think the same was true of the viceroyalty. I feel that in sending you Mountbatten we sent you one of the very best statesmen & I gather tht you & your colleagues have felt this too by the honour you have conferred on him in making him to be your first Governor General.

I was delighted tht you made our dear Mrs Naidu a temporary Governor. With her great heart & her sense of humour I am sure she will justify your appointment.

I shall write to Gaubliger {1} on his birthday.

With all my good wishes
I remain

Ever Sincerely Yours
[blank]

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In spite of the heading, this appears to be a draft rather than a copy. The shortened words, e.g. ‘h’ for ‘have’, are in the MS.

{1} Reading uncertain.