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Carter, Helen Violet Bonham (1887-1969), Baroness Asquith of Yarnbury, politician
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Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Is unable to see him for tea tomorrow, but suggests other arrangements. She and Violet had a useful morning, thanks to the loan of Montagu’s motor-car.

(Dated Monday.)

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Monday

I stupidly forgot when I said I would be in to tea tomorrow after seeing Olive off, that I had already arranged to play tennis with Cynthia from 4 till 5, and at 5.30 I’ve got the Gnome. Could you come either Wednesday 6.30 or Thursday at 6? Let me know which, if either, of these fit in with your other many and complicated plans.

Violet and I had a very useful morning, owing to the invaluable assistance that was given us by the motor. Thank you so much.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Invites him to join her ‘anti-yacht’ party at Penrhôs at Whitsuntide. Asks whether he has managed to convert Violet to Dorothy’s cause (i.e. temperance). Is seeing Sir Herbert and Lady Jekyll this afternoon, and dining with Geoffrey and Captain Guest.

(Dated Sunday.)

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Sunday

I am starting an anti-yacht party at Whitsuntide, just to show them that in spite of Winston its still possible to have fun in England. Will you come? Either for actual Whitsunday itself {1} or for the following week, which ever suits you best, {2} or both. Dont say you are going to Geneva for the Alpine Crow or to Italy with Geoffrey because you really are pledged (ever since last summer) to come to Penrhos. Its the nicest time of year there and ought to be delicious. There is only one legitimate excuse for you and that is if they after all dont go on the yacht and you want to go somewhere with the Prime.

Have you managed, on this glorious day, to convert Violet to Dorothys cause {3}? I’m afraid it will be difficult.

It is a waste being in London. I am reduced to Kew with Sir Herbert and Lady Jekyll this afternoon, and Geoffrey and Captain Guest to dinner.

Yrs
Venetia

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{1} 26 May.

{2} Comma supplied. The next two words are interlined.

{3} i.e. temperance. Dorothy Howard’s mother, the Countess of Carlisle, was a prominent temperance reformer.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Oliver cannot come on Monday. Hopes that Simon does not go to the War Office. Is planning to see Excie’s vote of censure tomorrow. The Prime Minister looks well; it is fun that they (the yachting party) are back. Asks after Violet.

(Dated Tuesday.)

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Tuesday

My dear Tante

You very kindly said I might bring Oliver with me on Monday but I’ve heard from him that he is already engaged that evening It was very nice of you to ask him. I am vainly trying to arrange some fun for him when he is here, but its very difficult as he knows and likes so very few people.

I do hope Seely doesnt go to the War Office, dont you? It isnt a very glittering selection to choose from is it? Couldnt Simon go?

I am trying to go to the House tomorrow to hear Excie’s vote of censure Will the P.M. speak. I saw him for an instant I think he looks very well. It is fun that they are back. Did you have a good talk to Violet.

This letter is a series of questions.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Responds to his letter from Port Said (B1/54). Is helping with a children’s play. Refers to their current guests, and to her visit to the United Kingdom Alliance bazaar at Manchester. Sends news of the Prime Minister and other friends.

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Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire

October 23rd 1912 (Oliver’s birthday)

Thank you for a letter from Port Said {1}. I am sorry you were being so much bored by your journey, and not even able to muster up sufficient energy to embark on the glorious, tho’ stodgy list we gave you. Isnt Marriage {2} good, I think it is much the best he has written, I am glad you read Lycidas again. I was afraid that by insisting on reading it to you I should have for ever have put you against it. Mikky thinks it is the best poem in the whole of the English language, and knows it by heart. Have you come across some rather nice, coloured, fruity ones in the Oxford Bk by Andrew Marvell {3}.

My life has continued in the same peaceful, uneventful way, since I last wrote to you, I have hunted once, but otherwise I havent seen a soul except father and mother, and not much of them as most of the time I was quite alone. I do love it, and really resented their return and the necessity of spending more than 5 minutes on lunch or 5 on dinner. I have got so used to myself, and when I am alone like myself so very much and have such fun and am so amusing to myself!

I have been very busy and for almost the first time in my life have had too much to do and not enough time to do it in. This is, I suppose, too often the case with you, for you to realize what a glorious sensation it is, it is my idea of one kind of happiness. My character has completely changed and you will hardly know me when you come back, I have developped† a sense of parochial responsibility and am becoming a thorough busy-body. The only thing that saves me from drifting into a life of Girls Clubs and sewing classes is firstly that I do it extremely badly and secondly that I am not here long enough on end. But I am doing my best and have 8 school children once a week to rehearse a children’s play and the rest of the time I am engaged on stitching vast Persian trowsers for them to wear. It absorbs all my interest and thought and I forget that no one else can possibly care a damn about it, and inflict it on people as I have done on you. Our solitude has been broken into by the arrival of an Admiral and his wife, 2 neighbours, your friend Mr Milne and an energetic woman called Mrs Grosvenor who is going to deliver a lecture on the advantages that an educated woman would have if she were to emigrate to Canada. That really means I suppose the chance of marrying some dreary fruit farmer, who is just rather less beastly than the other people out there. I should hate to be an educated woman in Canada.

Violet did chuck the United K. A. {4} she wrote and explained to Dorothy what her temperance principles were and after hearing them Dorothy said she would rather not have her. We went and bought things from her and found her in the most dismal surroundings with Aurea as her only human comfort. I had never seen A. before, she is hideous, and Dorothy treats her as tho’ she were a half-wit. I did feel sorry for her, she can have not a particle of fun in her life.

Dorothy was brisk and business-like and quite unselfpitying (if I had been in her shoes I should have groused to everyone about the horror of it) realising how damnable a Manchester bazaar was, but just doing it because it had to be done.

The P.M. has been quite ill with a boil on his shoulder, but is better again now, I havent seen him but I am thinking of going up to London next week, if I can get out of my groove, and I shall then perhaps see him. Mikky and Bongie come here the Sunday after {5}. Doesnt it seem odd to you to think of us all doing the same old things and seeing the same people over and over again, when you are in much a different atmosphere. You must now rather sympathise with Margot’s boredom at the regularity and unchangingness of our lives.

I meant at the beginning of this letter to tell you that I had a very bad cold, not so as to try and get a little sympathy 3 weeks hence, but so as to warn you that it would be dull, foggy reading, and to advise you not to embark on it unless you were feeling very charitable, but by the time you read this warning you will be near the end.

I must stop now, as considering the material at my disposal I have written far too much already.

Perhaps if I write again I shall have something more interesting to tell you about than what I have been doing here.

Yrs
Venetia

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{1} MONT II B1/54.

{2} A novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1912.

{3} The Oxford Book of English Verse (1900) contains seven poems by Marvell, as well as Milton’s ‘Lycidas’.

{4} Dorothy Howard had asked Violet Asquith to open a bazaar at Manchester in aid of the United Kingdom Alliance, a temperance organization. See Lantern Slides, pp. 337-8.

{5} 3 November.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Sends news of the Asquiths, whom she saw in London, and other friends. Is going to learn fencing, and has been skating and hunting. Urges him to check the untruths spread by the Eye Witness and Belloc. Will return 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 obscure 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

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—(4th.) She picnicked this afternoon with the three other amateurs [volunteer nurses] and Hunter. Is annoyed that she will have to tell Lady Norman her reason for leaving.—(5th.) Has received his letter [B1/137], and approves in general his letter to Asquith. Has received a telegram from Vizee announcing her engagement. Discusses arrangements for her return to England. Is sorry he is feeling ill.

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.—Is delighted by his election success. Violet has been ill, but is now better, and is about to go with Venetia and Lady Sheffield to the South of France.

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Tuesday 1 Feb 1910

My dear Mr Montagu

It was nice of you to write and say you liked getting my telegram {1}, I was extremely delighted that you got in {2}. I had been thinking of writing to you before as you had asked me to, but there seemed to be so little to say about everything. You will know that Violet has been really very ill, the natural outcome of all that time of stress, she is better now and she and I and my mother go away tomorrow to the S. of France for a bit {3}, which I think should do her good.

But everything will be very hard for her, and in a way get worse when an even fuller realization of it all comes to her. The terrible waste and seeming pointlessness of the whole thing will make her life very difficult, and one doesnt quite see what is to come of it. But I suppose its very soon yet to begin to expect to see any change in her.

I dont know how long we shall be away.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

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{1} This is a reply to MONT II B1/2.

{2} Montagu had retained his seat at the general election.

{3} The party went, by a circuitous route, to Valescure, near Saint-Raphaël. Violet returned to England about the beginning of March. See Lantern Slides, pp. 198–201.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Is celebrating Blanche’s engagement with her family. Tomorrow she is going to Littlestone with Violet and the Prime Minister for one night, before going to stay with Conrad. Will invite Montagu to lunch if she does not go to Littlestone.

(Dated Thursday. This is a reply to B1/38.)

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Thursday

There is no vestige of floater {1}, but I’ve got my days terribly filled up. I’m just back from the Opera and am going to miss the 2nd Act and dine at home for a family beanfeast to celebrate Blanches engagement (Isnt it a joke!) {2} Tomorrow morning I am going to Littlestone with Violet and the P.M. in the motor, for one night, Saturday I go and stay with Conrad till Monday. Monday and Tuesday I have dreary things to do all day which brings us to Wednesday. If I dont go to Littlestone, which is quite possible, I will telephone to you and you might come to lunch if you liked.

This tiresome time table of my life shows you how stuffed up its getting.

I’m sorry I didnt get your letter in time to telephone to you.

Yrs
Venetia {3}

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{1} i.e. a faux pas on Montagu’s part.

{2} Blanche’s engagement to Eric Pearce-Serocold was announced in The Times on the 27th (p. 13).

{3} This appears to be the first time Venetia signed a letter to Montagu using only her Christian name.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Is unable to lunch with him tomorrow, but suggests other arrangements. Explains a remark she made about Hugh and Violet at Easton Grey.

(Dated Tuesday.)

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Tuesday

I dont know whether you did expect me to lunch tomorrow, I rather think you didnt, but just in case you did I write to say that I find I cant, as Mother has to go away for these two days and may be coming back at luncheon time so I think I must be in as she will possibly have arrangements to make with me. But will you lunch here, or do come and see me in the evening, any time after 6.30 would suit me as I am going to the Club {1} and shall be doing nothing till I start about 7.30.

I want to assure you again that my remark at Easton Grey was not meant to have the slightest personal application, and indeed when I made it I was thinking rather of the disadvantages from Hugh’s point of view than from Violet’s.

Venetia

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{1} The Archie Gordon Club camp at Lulworth.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Is sorry to have thrown him over. Suggests others he might invite. Will come and see him if her mother does not return.

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.

Why not ask Violet, or Mikky, or Bongie or Barbara McLaren or Conrad or Viola. I am so sorry if you were counting on me to have thrown you so completely and tardily over.

V

If you can get none of these brilliant suggestions and if Mother does not come back I shall of course love to come, but I feel I am an uncertain prop on which to lean. You can telephone about one o’clock if you want me and if you want me and if I can come of course I will.

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Written in pencil. This letter must have been written after Barbara McLaren’s marriage, which took place on 20 July 1911. The reference to Lady Sheffield’s absence suggests that it may have been written on the same day as MONT II A1/75.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—She hopes that he is still going to Penrhôs next weekend. She is joining Violet for a week at the (Archie Gordon Club) camp at West Lulworth. Since last seeing him she has been with the Horners at Mells and at Pixton Park. Aubrey was delighted by the snap division (on the Army vote). Asks whether he is unhappy about his forthcoming Budget speech.

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Transcript

Pixton Park, Dulverton
August 4th 1913

You have preserved a grave like silence as to your plans, which I hope means that your Budget comes on this week, or that anyhow you are coming to Penrhos on Friday {1} for Sunday. How hot it must be in London and how nice it will be there! I leave here tomorrow and join Violet at her camp at a place called West Lulworth, where I shall stay till Friday and if possible try and get to London in time to catch the 1.20 train to Holyhead. I suppose you cant get away in the middle of the day, because if you can we might travel together. I get so terribly bored by that journey alone!

I’ve led a very happy uneventful and utterly neglected life, as far as my absent friends go, since I left you at Paddington. First at Mells where I spent most of my time alone with Sir John and Lady Horner, then on here where I’ve been for nearly a week, lots of riding and an unexciting fluctuating party. Aubrey returning† from London flushed with joy at the snap division {2}. They take in no kind of papers so you may all be dead and I know nothing of it. I shall be very glad to see you all again. I’m counting the moments till I get to Penrhos, I’ve got real longing to be there, tho’ I expect Lulworth will be fun too.

Have you been feeling very unhappy with your impending speech. Tho’ outwardly unsympathetic I am really brimming over with sympathy. I am sure it will be highly successful, as usual.

Yrs
V

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{1} 8th.

{2} The Conservatives had tried unsuccessfully to defeat the Government in the Commons on 30 July in a snap division on the annual grant to the Army, having surreptitiously arranged for a large number of their members to be present in the building. The Government won the vote by a majority of 33, but the Conservative members seem to have been pleased by the relative success of the attempt. See The Times, 31 July, p. 10, Hansard, and Cecil Harmsworth, Parliament and Politics in the Age of Asquith and Lloyd George.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Thanks him for his present and refers to others she received. Sylvia’s baby has been ill, but is recovering. Asks about Montagu's stay at Easton Grey. The Prime Minister is coming on Tuesday, and she hopes Montagu will come some time too. The festivities are over, except the acting.

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Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Boxing day 1913

You have sent me the most lovely present. Its the nicest one I’ve got, it was too sweet of you to think of me, thank you ever and ever so much. I do really like it quite prodigiously, I’m most grateful to you. I’ve done very well all round, but the Asquith family I’ve pinched the most heavily as I’ve got presents from Margot, the P.M. Raymond, Violet, Cynthia and Katharine which is very good out of one family.

We’ve had rather a dismal Xmas so far as Sylvia’s new baby has been most fearfully ill and yesterday and the day before they thought she must die, however to day she is really better and tho’ very anxious still, they think she may live. Poor Sylvia has been most terribly unhappy about it.

I hope Easton Grey was fun, I had a very sweet letter from Margot just before she went, she seemed much better, so I hope you’ve had a happy time there.

The P.M. comes here Tuesday {1}, I hope you are coming too sometime.

We [have] been very busy with our Xmas festivities, Trees etc, but have now finished them off and have only the acting before us. Its quite enough tho’ and makes me despair.

In case I dont see you, tho’ I hope I shall, I shall now send you every possible wish for your success and happiness in 1914 and always.

Yrs
Venetia

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{1} 30th.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Invites him to dinner. She wants to talk to him about Whitsuntide at Penrhôs. Has heard that he has moved into his house.

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Tuesday

Will you dine here on Thursday or Friday? I’ll tell you what you will get both evenings so that you can choose which appears most promising or reject them both. Friday Violet and I thought it would be fun to go to “Diplomacy” {1} which is said to be good, and Thursday its merely to play bridge here. 8.15.

I rather want to talk to you about Whitsuntide {2} and the grebes and Penrhôs.

Geoffrey, whom I saw at a ball, tells me you have moved into your house, but I’ve forgotten your number.

Venetia

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{1} An English adaptation of a play by Sardou, first produced in 1878, and revived on 26 March 1913 at Wyndham’s Theatre, where it ran until 18 April 1914. It then transferred to the Prince of Wales’ Theatre for a short run from 20 April to 9 May.

{2} Whit Sunday fell on 11 May.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Has received the books and his letter. She expects to leave on Saturday or Sunday and see the ‘old boy’ [Asquith] on Monday. Has fallen in love with a man named Capel, has seen Gilbert, and may lunch with Conrad tomorrow. When she returns she will tell him about something marvellous that happened to her yesterday. Two of the orderlies nearly drowned today while bathing.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Has received his two letters. Is glad that the Prime Minister is pleased by Violet and Bongie’s engagement. Discusses the arrangements for her return to England. Is glad that Sylvia will have Anthony at home for a week or so, but fears for his safety if he transfers to a regiment in the fighting line. Is pleased at Birrell’s approval [of their engagement]. Has met Lord Wemyss, and may dine with him tomorrow. Asks for news of Edward’s progress.

Letter from Margot Asquith to Edwin Montagu

10 Downing Street, Whitehall, S.W.—Encloses a letter from Henry [Asquith] in immediate reply to her own. Asks to have it back, as she values it deeply. Discusses Henry’s relationships with Venetia, herself, and other members of his family. On arriving at the Castle on Tuesday he told her how much her letter had touched him. He said had lunched with Venetia and spoke of her ‘with great sweetness’.

(Misdated March.)

Letter from Edwin Montagu to Venetia Stanley

India Office, London.—Thanks her for her congratulations [on his appointment as Under-Secretary of State for India]. There is plenty of work for him to do, but he feels he has deserted the Prime Minister. Discusses Violet’s state of mind.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Hôtel Monopole & Metropole, Lucerne.—Is waiting for Violet, whose departure (from England) has been delayed by illness. They will join them (Montagu and Asquith) in Sicily on Thursday.

(Dated Sunday.)

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Transcript

Hôtel Monopole & Metropole, Luzern
Sunday

I suppose Violet has wired to her father that she cant start till tomorrow so we shall be with you Thursday morning. I felt rather crushed and damped on arriving here after a dreary journey to find a letter saying she was ill. I nearly turned and fled home. However I’ve resisted that impulse and am awaiting her here in a very dismal hotel. The thought of Sicily and oranges is very delicious but horribly distant.

I hope your journey was successfully accomplished with the aid of chess, piquet and Lady Miriam Chrichton† Stuart. I dont know why I write as we shall see you almost before it reaches, but I’m very bored and desoeuvrée† {1}.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

All my luggage has gone on to Rome!

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{1} Idle.

† Sic.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Penrhôs, Holyhead.—Discusses the guests at Penrhôs, and describes an expedition to the Skerries. Suggests organising something delightful when they return to London. Violet has written from Naples.

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Transcript

Penrhôs, Holyhead
May 29th 1912

My dear Mr Montagu

Thank you for your letter, I hope that since you wrote {1} you’ve been having more fun and less lumbago and that the Alpine Chough has proved worth travelling all the way to Geneva to see. We’ve had a very delicious time here, its been quite lovely, and Raymond has been at his very best. Unfortunately he and Katharine leave tomorrow to go to Sawley, and their places are inadequately filled only by Hugh. Poor little Bongie owing to the strike has only had 2 days here and is now again in London, grinding out long telegrams to the P.M. He hopes to get back tomorrow. We made an expedition to the Skerries yesterday, so as to gratify Katharines curiosity as to the Nest of the Roseate Tern, but tho we saw quantities of ordinary terns, there was only one egg which we gound and not the vestige of a Roseate. They are too lovely, I think, and exactly what I imagine the Holy Ghost would look like. Raymond hustled us rather so we werent able to stay as long as we wanted. Next year if you arent again offended by the terms in which your invitation here is couched we will all go again, and you shall replace Raymond, as you would be a more appreciative tern watcher.

Conrad, alas, never came as he is ill again. This afternoon we’ve got an utterly bloody garden party which is blackening my whole outlook. We stay here till Tuesday {2} then London again. Dont arrange to go to your constituency over Sunday {3} and we’ll all do something delightful on Sunday. I daresay Violet will be back by then too. I’ve heard nothing from that party, except a post card yesterday from Naples from Violet but she doesnt mention whether she saw Le nôtre or not. They {4} seem to be having great fun. Do you still envy them. I’ve been so happy here that I dont any longer.

Have you been considering the fate of the Liberal Party and have you arrived at any very black and morbid conclusions.

I saw your friend Mr Peel at a ball the other night and was nearly introduced to him, do you think I should have got on well with him. Bongie thinks I shouldnt.

This is quite the dullest letter I have ever written, but will you take into account that my brain is thoroughly befogged by sun and air.

Yrs
Venetia

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Written in pencil.

{1} This letter does not survive.

{2} 4 June.

{3} 9 June.

{4} The yachting party.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Grand Hôtel Splendide, Portofino Mare.—Responds to his worry that he has offended Geoffrey. Is now at Portofino with her mother and three female relations, and may later make a tour of Italian cities with her mother and Bongie. Is keen to know Montagu’s views on the abandonment of the Franchise Bill, and hopes his new house will be a success.

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Transcript

Grand Hôtel Splendide, Portofino Mare
Feb 5th 1913

The pens in this hôtel are of such beastliness that I am reduced to this. I got a letter from you yesterday {1} which you seem to have written in a state of some depression. I think tho’ with all due deference to your mind, you must be mad if you think that anything besides invincible distaste for writing and also that you’ve never written to him should induce Geoffrey not to write. If anyone has a grievance I should say it were he, you’ve given him all your correspondence to deal with, all your constituency etc and he may very naturally think that if you’d wanted to hear from him you would have written. I know from conversation with him that he’s not in the least offended by anything. You must have a very bad conscience if you think that he is. When you get this tho’ you’ll almost be leaving for home so that you wont in the least mind what anyone thinks. I am sorry Peel should have become such a bore. Poor Miss Everett.

Oliver and I had a most energetic fortnight at Chamonix. You know how uninclined to bodily exercise I am, but there I was obliged to get up at 7 in the morning and go for long and arduous climbs on skis, returning at about 4. But it was wonderfully good for me and I am now in very good physical condition and able to spring up any mountain here in no time. Its rather wasted. This is a lovely place with all the regular Riviera décors. Mimosa, orange trees, cactus, blue sea etc, with absolutely nothing to do except to go for languid strolls through lovely olive groves. The only thing, if one wants to be at all happy, is to abandon oneself to a complete lotus eaters life and to bask in the sun. A little unhealthy-ness helps for that and I am intollerably† healthy. I am here with my mother, an aunt and two elderly female cousins so you see the personel† isnt thrilling. I think we shall stay here 3 weeks, and then possibly Bongie may join us and he & Mother and I will go on to Florence, Pisa and other kindred places. But that is very uncertain, {2} it depends on the holidays of the House. I long to know what you thought of the abandonment of the Franchise. Didnt you think the P.M. at Leven in very good form {3}. Tho it seems rather a waste to go on contraverting† with Protectionists, no arguments ever seem to penetrate them and they go on quite happily propounding the same worn out and disproved fallacies. The Prime thought the Speaker quite wrong in his ruling but he didnt seem much upset, or to mind. But then he never seems to mind anything. Violet I have heard nothing of since she went to America so you see you arent the only person who is left out!

I hope your house in Queen Anne’s Gate will be a success. Is Lady Horner going to furnish it?

This is my absolute swan-letter to you. I shall be very glad to see you again.

Yrs
Venetia

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Written in pencil.

{1} MONT II B/61.

{2} Comma supplied. The preceding word runs to the edge of the page.

{3} Asquith addressed his constituents at Leven on 29 January.

† Sic.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Responds to his description of her life when she returns to England [see B1/129]. Is thinking of telling her father that her stay in France has confirmed her decision to marry Montagu. Condoles with him on his illness and the general situation. Wonders what Violet’s attitude towards them will be now.

(Dated Tuesday.)

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Has received his note, and commiserates with him on his attack of pleurisy. She dined last night with Conrad and Hunter, and is going for a walk with Conrad today. Violet has written to explain her objections to their marriage. Expects to be home on 10 or 12 July. Mikky is depressed.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

[The British Hospital, Wimereux, and by the sea.]—(2nd.) Pamela has written urging her to come home and look after Montagu, and informing her of Violet and Bongie’s engagement.—(3rd.) Discusses her feelings at the prospect of going home. She dined last night with Hunter, who has been very kind, as has Capel. Pamela has doubts about the proposed journey to Russia. Asks whether he has communicated with her father.

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