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Asquith, Herbert Henry (1852–1928), 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, Prime Minister
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Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[London Hospital, Whitechapel?].—What he said [probably in letter] does not prove that it [his appointment as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster] was entirely a plot of Lloyd George’s, since the Prime Minister has wanted him in the Cabinet for some time. Hopes he will find compensations for leaving the Treasury, and urges him not to let Asquith put Addison in. Hopes he will enjoy himself in Paris. Wants to see him when he returns.

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

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Invites him to Penrhôs, to attend the Investiture of the Prince of Wales.

(Dated Saturday.)

—————

Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Saturday

My dear Mr Montagu

Could you come and stay at Penrhos on Friday July 14th, or could you get away on Wednesday and come for the Prince of Wales’ Investiture at Carnarvon.

The Prime {1} and Violet are coming and Violet is going to stay over Sunday {2}. Its very easy to get to, and if you feel scruples about leaving the India Office for so long you can come by a night train Friday and if you are really conscientious you can go back Sunday night.

I know its fearfully far for such a short time, but it would be very nice if you would come.

I hope the outer Hebrides are proving a success.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

—————

Black-edged paper. Marked ‘1911’ in pencil.

{1} This word has been struck through and ‘PRIME’ has been written above it, beside an asterisk. On the back of the letter is written, beside an asterisk: ‘It looked like Prince before.’

{2} ‘Lord and Lady Sheffield’s guests at Penrhôs, Holyhead [during Investiture week], will include the Prime Minister, Mrs. and Miss Asquith, Lord and Lady Boston, the Hon. Geoffrey Howard, the Hon. Edwin Montagu, Mr. William Phillips, the Hon. Mrs. Anthony Henley, the Hon. Blanche Stanley, and Captain the Hon. Oliver Stanley’ (The Times, 12 July 1911, p. 8).

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

Admiralty, Whitehall.—Is already missing him, though he has been gone only a short time. This weekend has made it difficult for her to continue writing to the Prime Minister as though nothing had happened, but she is anxious to keep them [Montagu and Asquith] both happy. Refers to her plan to go to Serbia. Urges him to come next Sunday, and suggests arrangements for dining in London on Friday [23rd].

(Dated Sunday.)

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Geoffrey is very happy [at his engagement to Christian Methuen]. Reflects on how she and Montagu felt towards each other three years ago at Penrhôs, and on the difficulties of detaching herself from the Prime Minister. Is depressed that most of their friends and relations would by annoyed if they were to marry. Arranges to meet, and asks after his mother.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

In the train [between London and Alderley].—Is travelling with the Prime Minister, who is more cheerful now, but she does not expect the party to be a success. Urges Montagu to be less transparent [in showing his feelings for her in public]. She enjoyed their drive together yesterday. He should not think that, because she can contemplate going to Boulogne [to the hospital at Wimereux], she does not like him any more. Reflects on the prospects of their future together. Winston was touched by Montagu’s letter. Suggests having a party on Friday. Will dine with him on Tuesday, and perhaps go to a play.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

Hotel Folkestone, Boulogne-sur-Mer.—Has received two letters from him [B1/116–17]. Arranges to meet him [when he comes to France]. Discusses the war news and her relationship with the Prime Minister. Describes her half-day off in Boulogne and her meetings with Edward, Geoffrey, and Frances.

Letter from —— to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

The British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcastinh House, London, W.1.—Invites him (retrospectively) to prepare and deliver, on stated terms, a radio talk on H. H. Asquith for the series ‘British Prime Ministers since 1900’ (cf. 5/123a–b, 5/124a).

(A printed form, with details typed in. Signed p.p. the Talks Booking Manager (the name is indistinct, but is probably Ronald Boswell).)

Letter from Roger Cary to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

The British Broadcasting Corporation, 200 Oxford Street, London, W.1.—Encloses the script of a programme about Asquith (5/125c). Some cuts have had to be made, but he hopes that Pethick-Lawrence will like the programme.

(Signed as Producer, Overseas Talks.)

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Is depressed, because her injuries prevent her from working. Is thinking of going to [a casualty clearing station at] Hazebrouck, where she would be near Oliver and Anthony. Has received his letter [B1/128], and commends his ‘robust’ reaction to her own. The Prime Minister too has sent her a ‘divine’ letter, but she reassures Montagu that they will never renew their old relationship. Reflects on her last weeks in England. Discusses the plans for their marriage.

Letter from Sir George Trevelyan to R. C. Trevelyan

Welcombe, Stratford on Avon. - Glad to hear they are all well; Caroline sends love; a 'cuckoo for ever calling here' makes him think of 'the dear little boy' [Paul] and of 'Will Shakespeare'. They have just finished Hogg [his life of Shelley], and thinks more of Hogg 'in his queer way' than ever; has been reading a Macmillan edition of Shelley: 'What a poet!'. Has read [Roger] Fry's article in the Burlington Magazine, and paid a second visit to the illuminated manuscripts [exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club] yesterday before leaving London; has also looked through the British Museum facsimiles here and at Grosvenor Crescent. Hopes Fry's wife will 'go on satisfactorily'. The 'Doctorate business' [his forthcoming honorary degree at Cambridge] is 'very plain sailing': Lord Halsbury, Lord Rayleigh, and Sir James Ramsey will also be staying at [Trinity College] Lodge; they lunch at [Gonville &] Caius, whose Master [Ernest Roberts] is Vice Chancellor. Others receiving honorary degrees are: the Duke of Northumberland; Admiral Sir John Fisher; Charles Parsons; Sir James Ramsay; Sir W[illiam] Crookes; Professor Lamb; Professor Marshall; Asquith; Lord Halsbury; Sir Hubert Herkomer; Sir Andrew Noble; Rudyard Kipling; Professor Living; they will 'advance on the Senate House...like the English at Trafalgar'. in two columns. Is looking forward to dinner in the hall at Trinity. Went to Harrow on Tuesday and will tell Robert about it and about the 'Cacciola affair'.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Has received his letter. Praises the [Prime Minister’s] speech in The Times and refers to his letter to Montagu. The hospital is full as a result of the Ypres attack. Has been walking with Hunter. Diana has the measles, and will not come to France. Reflects on what she will do when they are married.

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 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 Venetia Montagu to [Edwin Montagu]

The Manor House, Mells, Frome.—‘I see in the papers that your worst fears were realised, I wonder if you had them with you all today as well.’ Asquith’s speech [at Ladybank] was not very good. Discusses her companions at Mells and a chandelier she saw in Bath. Asks him to inquire about Frida at the H[ome] O[ffice]. Has heard that the new War Secretary will be Lord Derby. Sends domestic instructions and inquiries.

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]

Penrhôs, Holyhead.—Asks whether she should come to Coventry, and whether Reggie is going with him. Agrees that Viola is being a bore about the Prime Minister. Hopes that Neil will be a success. Is cheered by the hope that they may go to Uist. Asks about his proposed journey to France with Lloyd George. They have been swimming and are about to play tennis.

Letter from Edwin Montagu to Venetia Stanley

India Office, London.—Accepts her invitation to Alderley. The Government have decided to break up Parliament early, and he is uncertain what to in the interval before the day on which he had expected his holidays to begin. Is satisfied with his Budget speech. Everything is going well [with the Parliament Bill], though Balfour is to move a vote of censure on Monday.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

In the train from Folkestone.—(20 Oct.) Has learnt of his safe arrival at Boulogne. Hopes that Alan and Kisch will prove more competent than expected.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—Is depressed at having to spend the winter without him, despite the prospect of arranging Breccles. Reflects on their relationship and plans. After he left she and Viola went shopping, and she saw a sideboard she liked. Has dealt with some correspondence.—(Later.) Diana has visited. Is going to the opera.—(21 Oct.) Discusses her visit to the opera last night. This morning she went to Arlington Street [the Rutland Hospital], lunched with Diana and the Duchess, drove to Bushey in a vain attempt to meet Duff, and dined at Arlington Street for a ‘working reading aloud evening’. She intends to go to the hospital every morning, but will go away if the air-raids are bad.—[Later.] They read again in the evening.—(22 Oct.) Has received two notes from him. She went to Arlington Street and lunched at the Bath [Club]. Goonie is bored by having Jack home. Has ordered some things for the house.—(23 Oct.) She lunched with friends, including Masterton, who reported the rumour of a new coalition including ‘the old bird’ [Asquith], then went to South Kensington to show Diana David Garrick’s bed, which she is thinking of copying for Montagu. She dined and went to the opera with Bluey, and they discussed sapphism. Has had no news about letting the house.—(24 Oct.) After the hospital she went to the Bath, and to the House of Lords. Gives an account of the debate [on the situation in India]. In the evening she went to a play with Viola. Has let the house and bought the sideboard.—(25 Oct.) She dined with Cardie for Rawle’s farewell party, then went to a party at Lady Howard’s, which included Hugo Rumbold, who she is ‘crazy’ about, and Teddie Gerard, who enchanted Winston.—[26 Oct.] Has learnt of Montagu’s arrival at Port Said and has received his letter from Modane. She went to the Bath, where Clemmie was ‘very typical’ about Winston and Teddie. Some friends are dining with her, and they may go to the opera afterwards.—(27 Oct.) Only some of her guests went to the opera last night; she stayed in talking till late with the others. After Arlington Street she went shopping and to lunch with Katherine and Diana. Later she may go to Arlington Street for a ‘working reading evening’. Has received his letter from Rome and eagerly awaits his diary. The house has not, after all, been let.—(28 Oct.) She went to Bushey with Diana and Michael Herbert to see Duff, and dined with Diana and Edward, who has just come home on ‘Mells fire leave’ [Mells Park had been destroyed by fire on the 11th].—(29 Oct.) After the hospital and the Bath they lunched with Edward, after which Venetia took him to Lucile’s, where they found Viola choosing dresses for her new part. She got home to find Phyllis there, having turned out by her father for throwing a hair-brush at him. Rib writes to her daily, but they are trying to persuade her that he must marry her or stop seeing her. There was an abortive air-raid warning.—(30 Oct.) Edward has fallen in love with Phyllis. She lunched with friends, and Hugo Rumbold, who is probably another of Phyllis’s lovers, came to tea. Has received a telegram from Cairo and has heard that Montagu’s party has already broken up into groups. Some friends are dining with her tonight. Is appalled by the household expenses.—(31 Oct.) Her dinner went well, but she and Diana got into an argument with Edward. She had lunch with friends at home. Phyllis has told Ribblesdale that she will have to stop seeing him if he does not mean to marry her, but it is unlikely that her good intentions will last. Diana said to Phyllis that her mind had been corrupted by Scatters, and later Ribblesdale asked Phyllis whether she had ever slept with him, ‘which she had the sense to deny’. Lutyens brought her Blow’s plans [of Breccles], but as they are not of the house as it is now she will have to go down there to correct them. Is going to the opera.

Train to Breccles.—(1 Nov.) Was kept awake by an air-raid. Is on the way to meet Horner.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—(2 Nov.) She did a lot of business with Horner at Breccles and planted some bulbs. Lutyens will probably come next time.—(3 Nov.) Has had no letter from him for a week, but has replied to his telegram. She played bridge this evening, and yesterday dined with friends and went to a play. Phyllis has gone to Arkers; her relationship with Lord Ribblesdale is still unsettled. Today she lunched with Maud and they went to the opera. Eric says Lloyd George is worried about the effect of the air-raids on public opinion.—(4 Nov.) She spent the day at Taplow. Ettie was on good form.—(5 Nov.) She went to Charing Cross [Hospital] again this morning and found it squalid, but she will only be going there two mornings a week. She had tea with friends and dined and went to a play with Duff, who starts his career at Chelsea Barracks on Monday. Phyllis is dining with Edward, Rib, and Arkers, and as the Viceroy is in London she will probably not come back tonight. Edward is still in love with her, but Venetia doesn’t know whether he has seduced her yet.—(6 Nov.) She lunched with Diana, Duffy, and Edward. Edward and Diana are reconciled. She is giving a dinner tonight. Hugo Wemyss has gone to Paris as Flavia Forbes has been bitten by a mad dog. He is corresponding acrimoniously with Lord Derby about Lady Angela [Forbes], who has been asked to leave France on account of alleged drunkenness.—(8 Nov.) Margot and the ‘old Boy’ [Asquith] were at Hazel’s party last night and asked after Montagu, but Vizee gave her (Venetia) a sour look; she and Bongie are the only ones who have said nothing about Montagu having gone [to India]. Has received his letter from Port Said [B1/144a]. She lunched with Winston and Clemmie, went to see Gladys, then played bridge at Lady Essex’s. Tonight she and Phyllis are dining with the McKennas and then going to a party at the Baroness’s.—(9 Nov.) Has seen his mother and shown her his typed notes [his ‘Diary’]. Phyllis leaves tomorrow.

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 Sir George Trevelyan to R. C. Trevelyan

Wallington, Cambo, Morpeth. - Has given the poem to Caroline. Glad to hear that Julian is all right. Thinks the garden here is currently 'as splendid as any garden [he has] ever seen'; Keith 'takes an artist's pleasure in it'. Will not be able to send game for a while, as Sir George can only manage two or three hours grouse shooting now and Charles will not be here this week. Asquith has 'done magnificently'. Future dangers are 'national bankruptcy and disorder'. He and Lord Kinross once got through a long coal strike in the West of Scotland without one breach of order, though it drove the Chief Constable to suicide. Disorder should 'never be allowed'.

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.

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