Showing 24 results

Archival description
Carter, Sir Maurice Bonham (1880-1960), knight, politician and civil servant
Print preview View:

Letter from Edwin Montagu to Venetia Stanley

Archerfield House, Dirleton.—Is disappointed that he just missed her and wishes she were there, though it is a good party. Is concerned by the dangers that women’s suffrage presents for the Prime Minister. Discusses his planned movements.

Letter from Edwin Montagu to Venetia Stanley

Maid’s Head Hotel, Norwich.—Beb and Bongie have arrived. Refers to the the news from Belfast [of Churchill’s speech there], and reflects on his own oratorical skills. Praises Churchill’s demeanour. The Home Rule Bill will, he thinks, be ‘all right’, but it may cause trouble in Ulster. He enjoyed their lunch together yesterday.

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.

—————

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.

—————

† Sic.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Praises Violet’s courage on Archie Gordon’s last day. Violet has now gone to Scotland, and Venetia will join her there shortly.

—————

Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.
Dec 23rd 1909

My dear Mr Montagu

I am glad you thought of writing to me {1}. I need not tell you, as you will know already how wonderful Violets courage was on that last day {2}, and how she was able through it to give him the most gloriously happy last day. The strain was tremendous, even the mere physical one alone was very great, and she felt the reaction cruelly and for the first two days after his death lived in a daze.

I think tho’ that on the whole she has been very well, but of course all the time she has had a great deal to do and things that she had to make an effort for, what it will be like when she returns to Archerfield and her usual life begins, and she feels that everything is indeed over, I dont know.

I saw her off to Scotland on Tuesday {3}, and I have heard from Bongie that the journey went quite well, I am going up there on Tuesday to be with her for a little and if you like I will write you a line from there.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

—————

Black-edged paper.

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

{2} The reference is to the death of Archie Gordon, younger son of the Earl of Aberdeen, who was fatally injured in a motor accident on 28 November and died in the County Hospital at Winchester on 16 December. Violet Asquith became engaged to him at his bedside the day before he died. See Lantern Slides, pp. 190–5.

{3} 21 December. Violet had gone to the Aberdeens’ home, Haddo House in Aberdeenshire, where the funeral took place on the 23rd. Venetia set off to join her a week later.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Is sorry she missed him at Archerfield. Refers to his forthcoming visit to Alderley. The Prime is on good form.

—————

Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Sunday Dec 24th 1911

My dear Mr Montagu

I should have answered your letter sooner {1}, but I thought I should certainly see you at Archerfield as I was told you were coming there on Friday. It was very sad just missing you. I left with deep regret last night and am still rather somnolent after a night journey which landed me here at 6 this morning.

It is very nice of you to have wanted to give me any present at all, I am sorry that it caused you such an unpleasant and unprofitable morning. You must have a very high standard I think of niceness and suitability, because I always find my great difficulty is to stop buying things.

I cant bear to think of you all having such fun and not being there, but its nice being at home too. We had a lot of chess at Archerfield, my great triumph was mating the P.M. twice and that old walnut Elwes {2} once.

Do you come here straight from Archerfield on Monday {3} or have you got to go to London first, Bongie is coming too from there.

Dont you think the Prime is in very good form, he was wonderful all the time I was there.

You’ll just miss Jonah here, but catch Bluey.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

—————

{1} This is a reply to MONT II B1/26.

{2} Probably Gervase Henry Elwes, a singer.

{3} 1 January.

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.

—————

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

—————

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

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.

—————

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

—————

{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.—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.

—————

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

—————

{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

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.

—————

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.

—————

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

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.——(25th.) Reassures him that he is not considered responsible for recent events (the silver scandal). Suggests he return early in order to handle the Indian finance debate himself. Refers to her stay with Gertrude Bell. They have just come to the end of a strenuous Christmas Day, and she must be up early tomorrow for a last rehearsal (of the play).—(26th.) Has received another letter from him.

—————

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.

—————

Written in pencil.

{1} MONT II B1/57.

{2} Spelling uncertain.

{3} MONT II B1/58.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Grand Hôtel Couttet et du Parc, Chamonix.—She arrived at Chamonix with Oliver yesterday. When Oliver goes home, she will join her mother in Italy. Has learnt that Montagu will be returning on Easter Sunday. She dined at Downing Street while in London, and the Prime seemed pleased by his speech on the third reading (of the Home Rule Bill).

—————

Transcript

Grand Hôtel Couttet & du Parc, Chamonix
21st Jan 1913

I cant think how you can write from India (I am very glad you can as I love getting your letters) I simply cant write a line as soon as I’ve crossed the Channel, its rather a pity as its the one moment I long most passionately for letters. Oliver and I arrived here yesterday in a tearing blizzard which has gone on without stopping. In spite of this we have been out all day falling heavily in the snow and getting our eyes ears and mouth filled with it. Its great fun being away alone with Oliver, I wish it were for longer and that I was going home when he does on the 3rd, instead of that I am going to join Mother in Italy and stay away till the 1st of March. I dont suppose I shall miss anything much in the way of impersonal things (thrilling debates or such like because after the Franchise it will be dullish) but I like London in February and I like the people it contains always.

I was much amazed, and so was everyone at Alderley, by getting a telephone message late one Sunday evening {1} announcing your return on the 23rd of March. I dont know why it came like that, unless the post Officer at Manchester thought it affected my plans vitally and that to wait to hear till Monday would disorganize everything. The 23rd is Easter Sunday isnt it? Mother and I are thinking of going to Holland for Easter, I’ve always wanted to go.

I had a delicious dinner at Downing St when I was in London, Katharine the only other woman, and Bluey, Oc, Cys, Bongie Winston and 2 Headlams. I sat next to the P.M. who was most divine and in marvellously good spirits. I gather he had made even for him an exceptionally wonderful speech on the 3rd Reading {2} and I think was rather pleased by it. After he and I and Winston and Mr Masterton Smith played Auction, Winston is a gold man to play against, he always doubles and always loses.

This hôtel is full of French people its the fashion here for every one including the women to go about in knickerbockers which makes them look like principal boys in the Pantomimes.

I expect this is almost the last letter I shall write you, before you come home.

I am glad you liked the parodies, and Dostoïeffski

Yrs
Venetia

What did Mikky say to you when he wrote from Alderley?

—————

{1} 12 January?

{2} Asquith spoke during the debate on the third reading of the Home Rule Bill on 15 January. His notes for the speech were made on the back of a letter from Venetia, which he returned to her when he wrote to her on the 20th (Lantern Slides, Nos. 9 and 9a).

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.

—————

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

—————

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

Rounton Grange, Northallerton.—Supposes he will go to the Wharf when he arrives (in England), but asks to see him next week. Bluey and Bongie are coming this evening.

—————

Transcript

Rounton Grange, Northallerton
Friday March 21st 1913

The Prime tells me you are arriving home today or tomorrow, and so I suppose you will go to the Wharf for Sunday {1}. Dont pour out all the juice and vitriol which you must have collected during the last six months. I shall be back Monday or Tuesday, Tuesday most likely, do come and see me sometime before dinner, I am dining earlyish at Downing St. I long to hear every-thing that you’ve done, it will be an act of charity on your part, as I am supposed to be lame and to do nothing.

Its cold and dull here but the arrival of Bluey and Bongie this evening may improve matters.

It will be great fun seeing you again.

Yrs
Venetia

—————

{1} i.e. for Easter.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Penrhôs, Holyhead.—Praises his Budget speech. Is sorry he can’t come to Penrhôs and that she won’t see him or the Prime till they return from Scotland. Invites him to stay at Alderley on his way south. There is a large family party at Penrhôs. Discusses the camp at Lulworth. Is going to Ireland next week, then to Ardgowan.

—————

Transcript

Penrhôs, Holyhead
Monday 11th August 1913

I was much amused by your characteristic and gloomy telegram, and delighted that your fore-bodings were so ill founded. I thought, with apparently every one who heard your speech, that it was most excellent, far the best Budget speech you’ve ever made, how can you expect to be moved from your present place if you are so singularly good at it! I am very very sorry you couldnt come here, I felt a great inclination to see you. Its one of the rather sad aspects of my summer (which is otherwise rather a nice one) that I shant see the two people I have most fun with and enjoy talking to most, you and the Prime, until you all come back from Scotland. You must come to Alderley on your way South. Its very delicious here, and as I am now passionately fond of tennis my days are very much filled in.

We are a large family party and over next Sunday we shall all be here, Francis Henley is the only nominal stranger. I had the most delicious life at Lulworth with the Club boys. Violet & I lived in a farm house, while Cys and the two Bongies {1} lived in tents with the boys. You would have hated it. We bathed a good deal and Violet & I played football for the first time, its, I think, far the most thrilling game I’ve ever played, it intoxicated me, otherwise we didnt do very much. I cant help thinking the elder Bongie a most dreary and juiceless man, with a very bad sense of humour, he has all the sterling worth of the family tho’. Perhaps its merely because he’s lived all his life in Egypt. He loathes the boys, thinks them odious and undisciplined.

I’m glad I didnt send this off this morning as I’ve just got the most wonderful dewdrop for you, which you must like getting. Its from the Prime, who quite unsolicited, writes to me and says “your speech was very good, in fact of remarkable excellence”. Arent you pleased?

Write and tell me your news, as I think I’ve already mentioned I’m much neglected by my friends, and you have no excuse (always a rotten one) of not knowing my address.

I go to Ireland next week for a few days and as usual to Ardgowan on the 25th.

My news, as you can see is non-existant†, but I’ve ridden, bathed and played 6 sets of tennis, so physically I am very active, but mentally quite fallow. I’ve nothing to read, have you anything to suggest.

Goodbye, I wish you were coming here.

Yrs always
Venetia

—————

{1} Sir Edgar and Maurice Bonham Carter, the former being the ‘elder Bongie’ mentioned later.

† Sic.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Penrhôs, Holyhead.—Is sorry to see that his friend (Herbert Malkin) has died. Asks how long he will stay at Hopeman. She enjoyed her stay at Killarney with the Kenmares. Bongie, Oc, and all her family are at Penrhôs, and she is sorry she has to go to Ardgowan tomorrow. She thinks she will enjoy being twenty-six. Invites Montagu to Penrhôs later in the year.

(Dated the 23rd, but actually written in the early hours of the following day.)

—————

Transcript

Penrhôs, Holyhead
Aug 23rd 1913

I dont consider that you deserve a letter from me, yours was so scrappy & scanty and in return for quite a long one from me too!, but I’ve got a terrible fit of insomnia (its 2.30 and I’ve tried everything include Villette {1} to read and am still wide awake) and letters are a good way to spend the time for the writer, tho’ not calculated to be much fun for the reader.

I was so very sorry to see that your friend in your “other life” had died {2}, I am afraid that will have been an unhappiness to you. Does it alter your plans, how long do you stay at Hopeman? Hopeman seems to be rather a success, I had letters from Violet & the Prime {3}, both of whom seem fairly happy there. I wish I was going. I had a delicious 3 days in Ireland at Killarney staying with Kenmores, its the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, wonderful lakes and mountains, with nothing whatever to do, but then the atmosphere of the place is such that it robs one of any desire to do anything, except sit and look. Then, I came back here where we’ve got Bongie and Oc and all my family, sisters uncles and aunts. Its very delicious and I regret Ardgowan to morrow very much. Geoffrey whom I shall find there is my only consolation.

I’ve just passed into a new division of my life, I was 26 yesterday, I do not feel much depressed by this fact, I dont mind leaving 25 behind, I’ve not enjoyed it very much, and I have a feeling that I shall enjoy 26 somehow. I believe the tigers bone you gave me is going to bring me luck. They are supposed to be lucky arent they?

Do write and tell me about Hopeman and how the Prime is and Margot and all of them. If your plans are altered and you find a gap in them towards the end of September or beginning of October, propose yourself here.

Was Aunt Rosalinde at Castle Howard when you went as you feared?

Yrs
Venetia

—————

The letter is dated 23 August, but, as is clear from the first sentence, it was written in the early hours of the following day.

{1} Charlotte Brontë’s novel, first published in 1853.

{2} The reference is to Herbert Malkin, who had died on the 18th.

{3} For the latter, dated 21 August, see H. H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley, No. 17.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Suggests arrangements for meeting in London. Is going to Kimpton Lodge to stay with Sylvia. Asks whether he enjoyed himself on the yacht. She wishes she had been there instead of with Claud Russell. Is preparing for the annual acting. Asks about his shooting-party with Geoffrey and Bongie.

—————

Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Oct 8th 1913

I am so glad you are going to be in London next week. It will be great fun seeing you again. Will you come to tea Monday, by that I mean any time between 4.30 and 6.30, or Tuesday {1}. I wonder if you would send me a line to Kimpton Lodge, Andover, Hants, where I go Friday {2} to stay with Sylvia. I have such a mass of fairly boring things to fit in like dentists and clothes that I dont want the things I want to do to clash with them.

Was the yacht fun? Its my favorite† place, I wish I had been there with you and the Prime instead of with Claud Russell.

I am feeling quite alone here now and have been since I left Penrhos on Monday {3}. I was wretched the first day and nearly came straight up to London, but now I am quite happy. Fortunately rather busy, with the preparations for our annual acting. I hunted this morning at 6.A.M. and was soaked and blown to bits and am consequently very sleepy.

Was your shooting party with Geoffrey and Bongie fun? I’ve given up Bongie as a friend so therefore hear no news!

I am in London till Thursday or Friday {4}, and quite excited about it.

Longing to see you

Yr
Venetia

—————

{1} 13th or 14th.

{2} 10th.

{3} 6th.

{4} 16th or 17th.

† Sic.

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 Montagu to Edwin Montagu

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(5 Dec.) Has received his letters from Aden. Urges him to continue sending his Diary, and deplores his idea of retiring from public life. Complains of having to sell all day [at a charity fair at] at the Albert Hall. Last night she dined at Cavendish Square. Discusses the progress of Oc’s ‘matrimonial affairs’. She dined today with Blanche, then went with Cardie and Nellie to a ‘popular’ ball at the Albert Hall.—(6 Dec.) There was a small air-raid last night. She stayed in bed, but Diana had to spend two hours with her mother in a cellar. She dined alone tonight.—(7 Dec.) Is about to set off for Pixton with Diana, Michael, Duff, and Patrick. Work has begun at Breccles.

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 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.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

(London Hospital, Whitechapel?)—Is unable to see him this afternoon, as her mother is in London. Defends herself against his criticisms. She has only three more weeks left (at the hospital). Yesterday she went for a drive with Bongie; she supposes Montagu was with Edward Grey.

(Dated Monday.)

—————

Transcript

Monday

Alas! I cant manage this afternoon as Mother has come to London & I have to go out with her. I should have liked to have seen you, you wrote me rather a crusty letter {1} which you sent by Bongie, its rather hard to spend 2 whole days unable to see a real human being (Friday I never went out & Saturday only till 11.A.M.) from “bitter constraint & sad occasion drear” {2} & then to be cursed for it. But Wednesday I’ll come to tea at 4.30. I’ve not heard from old Kath, she has behaved vilely to me.

Only 3 more weeks to day. 21 days. Not so very long is it. One would stand anything for only that time, & besides I again dont much mind it.

What a glorious day yesterday. Bong & I drove along Chelsea Embankment, I suppose you were walking with E. Grey.

Yrs
Venetia

—————

Probably written at the London Hospital, Whitechapel.

{1} MONT II B1/89, dated 14 March.

{2} A slight misquotation from Milton’s ‘Lycidas’. Cf. MONT II A1/64.

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.

—————

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

—————

{1} MONT II B1/56.

{2} Gertrude Bell.

{3} Comma supplied.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Admiralty, Whitehall.—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. Suggests arrangements for meeting.

(Dated Sunday.)

—————

Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Sunday.

My darling (you’ll think this I suppose merely a sign that I’m an accommodating woman & ready to comply in small things if it makes you happier) What can I say to you after this short time that you’ve been gone. That I want you back fearfully. Yes I do. And I havent in my time written this to Bongie, the P.M. Raymond and half a dozen others. I suppose it ought not to be necessary for me even to have to affirm this, but I cant help feeling that this idea is often cross-ing your mind, you’ve said it so often, & I’ve always laughed at it as a joke and not minded you thinking it, but I do now.

I know quite well that I want you back again, and I’m only afraid that this feeling will pass. Do you understand me at all. I also know that this Sunday has made it very difficult for me to go on writing to the P.M as tho’ nothing had happened. Darling what am I to do, obviously what I ought to do would be to try & carry on as I’ve been doing, you’ve both been fairly happy under that régime, and as there can be no hard and fast rule of right & wrong and as I feel none of that that people call duty towards themselves, that would be the simplest plan. But are you both happy and can I make you so if I’m not and should I be now?

Then again when to tell him. Just before Newcastle {1}, oh no not then, then just after something else will turn up & if I’m ready to tell him then you (who are far the fonder of him of us two) will have scruples, & so we shall go on till in a short time you’ll loathe me. Why cant I marry you & yet go on making him happy, but you’d neither of you think that fun & I suppose my suggesting it or thinking it possible shows to you how peculiar I am emotionally. I wish to God I’d got a really well defined idea of right & wrong, but nothing that one does to oneself seems wrong and thats how one gets into so infernal a tangle.

You cant help me no one can and if I go to Servia its only really shifting the whole responsibility & giving up.

My very dearest I want so much to see you, I’m rather frightened about what I feel, first lest it shouldnt last, & secondly lest yours shouldnt.

Write to me and say you are coming next Sunday. I want you fearfully.
I am so perplexed & wretched, I want so much to be happy and yet not to make anyone else unhappy. You made everything seem so simple, but now you are gone its as tangled as ever.

Go on loving me & above all make me love you. Perhaps Wednesday may see me in London, but I count on you Friday & we’ll have no nonsense about dinner with Sir E Grey.

Yes you shall you shall dine with him just the same.

Darling I think I love you.

Venetia

—————

{1} Asquith was to address a meeting of munitions workers at Newcastle on the 20th.