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Lawrence, Emmeline Pethick- (1867–1954), suffragette, wife of the 1st Baron Pethick-Lawrence Image With digital objects
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Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Biography of Mrs. Pethick Lawrence

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is known in many countries as a Feminist who played a leading part in the world-wide Suffrage Campaign before the War.

She often says she was born to take part in the great Movement of Thought, which in her life time has entirely transformed the Status of women in every sphere of life. At any rate she remembers that as a very young child, slighting references to women made carelessly, aroused in her a burning protest, and a desire to become their champion. This desire found outlet first in Social Service, including the founding (with Miss Mary Neal) of Maison Espérance—a Business for working girls with the 8 hours day—a minimum wage, and the many activities associated with it.

In the ear 1905 came the clarion call of the Militanti† Suffrage Movement. In 1906 Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence became Treasurer for the Campaign and during the next 6 years there was raised in one organisation, a fund of a Quarter of Millions {1} sterling.

Together with her husband she started the first Militant Suffrage Paper Votes for Women, which they carried on as co-Editors.

In 1908 she was arrested for attempting to speak in the Lobby of the House of Commons, after the refusal of the Government to receive a Deputation of Women (that had come to put their case) had been announced to them by the Police. Subsequently she was arrested twice for leading a Deputation to Parliament, and once under the old Conspiracy laws. In the latter case she was sentenced to 9 months and placed in the 1st division. The majority of her fellow suffragists in prison were not accorded the same treatment as political prisoners. They protested by the Hunger Strike, and she made common cause with them, was forcibly fed and subsequently released, having served five weeks of the 9 months sentence.

In the Autumn of 1914 a cable summoned her to New York to address a vast Suffrage Meeting in the Carnegie Hall. On that occasion she helped to inaugurate the campaign which two years later led to the political enfranchisement of the women of the State. Further she called up {2} the Women of America (this the greatest of the neutral Powers) not to become obsessed by the War spirit but to combine their allegiance to the principle of arbitration and to work for a real settlement rather than a fight to the finish. She travelled from the East to the West of America, speaking everywhere of the Solidarity of women as the Mothers of the human race and therefore the {3} natural Peacemakers. As a result of her campaign the Women[’]s Peace Party (afterwards the American Section of the Women’s International League) was formed {4} with Jane Addams as its president, and the two women sailed with fifty American delegates to take part in an International Conference of Women held at the Hague in April 1915. It will be remembered that this Congress representing 16 nations was unanimous in urging a Peace by Negotiation, and that a delegation appointed at the Hague was received by several Chancellors in Europe, by the President of the Swiss Republic and by the United States; it was also received by the Pope. On behalf of the women of the world this delegation pleaded for a continuous Council of Mediation and Reconciliation to be formed by the Neutral States, in order to conduct negotiations between the warring Powers, and if possible secure an understanding and a[n] agreement which would avoid a fight to the finish and its consequent devastation of the whole of Europe.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence has continued up to the present moment to work towards the Removal of all legal Restrictions upon the equality and freedom of the sexes, also towards and for the practical realization of the solidarity of the Human race (rooted in the Solidarity of women of all races as political {5} Mothers) which demands the abolition of Poverty and War.

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Carbon copy of a typed original, corrected by hand. ‘? About 1920’ has been added by hand at the top of the first sheet. A few mistypings which are not easy to represent in print or describe briefly have been corrected, as noted below.

{1} ‘of Millions’ mistyped.

{2} Perhaps a slip for ‘upon’.

{3} Mistyped.

{4} Altered from, or to, ‘founded’.

{5} Altered from ‘potential’.

† Sic.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Biography of Mrs Pethick Lawrence

Mrs Pethick Lawrence realised when quite a child the very deplorable position of unprotected women in this country[,] especially those who belong to the working class. Upon the completion of her education she offered her services to the West London Mission then controlled by the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes and became one of the “sisters of the people”. She helped to found and organise the Esperance Club for working girls which has since established a reputation all over the country for its revival of folk dance and song.

Incidentally she had to do with many sad and difficult cases of human misery and she was often appealed to by the police on behalf of unfortunate women. In connection with these cases she attended Police Courts and became responsible to the magistrate for the woman prisoner in the dock.

After five years work in the West London Mission she went to live in a block of artisan buildings and tried the experiment of how much a working girl could live upon. She decided that the minimum was 15/– a week, whereupon she started with her friend Miss Mary Neal a co-operative dress-making establishment which paid its workers a miminim† wage of 15/– a week for an eight hour’s day. Several other schemes have been launched with her co-operation, including a holiday hotel for working girls at Littlehampton. Her marriage in 1901 did not put an end to any of these interests and the last twenty-two years of her life have been devoted to the social service of the community.

But every attempt at social and economic reform only drove more deeply home her conviction that so long as women were politically outside the pale of citizenship, the necessary leverage to life {1} working women and girls out of the morass was lacking.

In 1906 she became the first National Treasurer of the Women’s Social and Political Union. In the October of that year she suffered imprisonment for taking part in a protest in the lobby of the House of Commons. In 1909 she was arrested for leading a deputation for the purpose of presenting a Petition to the Prime Minister. In 1911 she was again imprisoned for a repetition of this offence. In 1912 she was arrested on a charge of Conspiracy and sentenced to imprisonment. On this occasion she adopted the Hunger Strike as a protest against the prison treatment and was forcibly fed. In the October of that year she was requested by Mrs Pankhurst to resign from the W.S.P.U. as Mrs Pankhurst had decided upon a development of the militant policy and did not want to be hampered by a Committee.

Great pressure was put upon Mrs Pethick Lawrence to found another Suffrage Organisation. To this she responded by forming the “Votes for Women” Fellowship—not a Suffrage Society, but an association of co-workers and Fellows to further a common enterprise, namely the establishment of the paper “Votes for Women” as the expression of the Suffrage Movement in its wide catholicity of ideal and purpose.

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Carbon copy of a typed original. ‘About 1912’ has been added at the top of the first sheet by hand, as well as the file number ‘2069’.

{1} A slip for ‘lift’.

† Sic.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

(Carbon copy.)

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Transcript

Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence is of Celtic stock. Her forbears lived in Cornwall[,] the rock-bound peninsular to which in ancient days came the intrepid Phoenician mariners to mingle their blood with the aboriginal inhabitants. But her father, a Bristol merchant, made his house in Weston-super-mare and she herself responded to the call to come to London to be a “Sister” in the West London Mission under Hugh Price Hughes and Mark Guy Pearse.

It was not until she was nearly 40 years of age that the little band of militant suffragettes unfurled their banner of revolt and at Keir Hardie’s suggestion sought her help. In a spirit of dedication she yielded to the entreaties of Annie Kenney[,] the mill girl who had come from Lancashire with £5 in her pocket “to rouse London”.

Her Cornish love of freedom, her passionate anger at injustice, her sense of shame at the humiliating status of women, her desire to befriend the weak and oppressed all combined to force this choice upon her. She consented to become the treasurer of the new movement. Instinctively she realised that she was setting her foot upon an uncharted path. But she certainly could not have forseen† into what strange and unconventional ways it would lead her.

In fact she was on seven separate occasions to see the inside of His Majesty’s prison. She was to go through the hunger strike and to suffer the painful indignity of forcible feeding. As a treasurer she was to raise a campaign fund of over a quarter of a million pounds and to become known as the most seductive beggar in London. In all this she was sustained by a strong inner sense of mission; and she was fortunate in having what was denied to many others of the suffragettes[,] the active support of her men folk—her father, her husband and other relatives and friends.

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The file number ‘2069’ has been written at the top of the first sheet in pencil.

Carbon copy of a letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to E. M. Forster

Discusses arrangements for Forster’s forthcoming talk at Peaslake (see 1/284).

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Transcript

16th. February 1944.

Dear Mr. Forster,

I was so glad to get your most kind letter and delighted that you will come and give us a talk at Peaslake if we can arrange a convenient time for you. August is a holiday month for us. We do not usually arrange any gathering for that month and therefore we should be delighted to fix up an extra meeting to meet you and to consider any subject that you feel inclined to talk to us about. We shall esteem it as a great pleasure and privilege and I will await a note from you fixing the date.

Bank Holiday is on August 4th so I would suggest Friday August 11th or some subsequent date.

With very warmest greetings and many thanks,

Yours sincerely,
[blank]

E. M. Forster, Esq.,
West Hackhurst,
Abinger Hammer,
Dorking, Surrey.

Carbon copy of a letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to Eamon De Valera

Congratulates him on the conclusion of the treaty between Great Britain and Eire. Refers to their previous meetings at Washington and elsewhere and to her efforts to expose the abuses of the Black and Tans. She has touched on some of these matters in her book My Part in a Changing World, which has just been published.

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Transcript

26th. April. 1938.

Dear Mr. De Valera,

May I offer you my warmest congratulations and express my great delight at the conclusion of the Treaty between Great Britain and Eire. I am very thankful that harmonious relations have been established at last between the two countries.

You will not remember me of course, but I spoke on the same platform with you in the City of Washington at a protest meeting against the treatment of Mr. MacSweeny {1}, the Mayor of Cork, in prison and I have also met you on other occasions. I followed with very great grief the horrible episode of the Black and Tans in Eire and I was the first person to get the abuses exposed in the “Daily News” becuase† I went quietly to Eire and obtained sworn statement which I was prepared to stand over in a Court of Law. I am only telling you these incidents because I would like you to know how I have followed events in your country with deep sympathy which enables me now to rejoice all the more in this happy conclusion.

I have touched on some of these matters in a book I have just published entitled “My Part in a Changing World.[”] I do rejoice with you and my other friends, the patriots of Eire, who cherished the dream of her freedom when it seemed impossible and have seen that dream come true in their life time.

Yours sincerely,
[blank]

Rt. Hon. Eamon De Valera,
Government Buildings,
Dublin,
Ireland.

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{1} i.e. Terence MacSwiney.

† Sic.

Carbon copy of a letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to Shareefah Hamid Ali

Has been receiving treatment for deafness in Switzerland and supporting her husband’s election campaign. Thanks her for the photographs (see 2/35). She will not be able to attend the conference in India, but is very interested in the progress of the women’s movement there.

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Transcript

24th. November. 1935.

My dear Mrs. Hamid Ali,

I am afraid you will think that I am most remiss in not having replied to your letter before. I was away in Switzerland when it came receiving treatment from a specialist for deafness, and while I was there the General Election was announced and I had to hurry home to take my part in it and support my husband’s candidature in East Edinburgh. I am so glad to say that he was elected Member of Parliament for that constituency.

I am perfectly charmed with the photographs that you send me. I think the photograph of you and your husband is delightful and most beautiful, especially of you. I was also greatly interested to see the pictures of your home. Thank you so much for sending them to me. They will serve as a very delightful remembrance of the very great pleasure it was to my husband and to me to meet you and to hear something of your wonderful work.

It is very kind of you to invite me to the Indian Conference, but I am sorry to say that my health prevents me from accepting such an attractive invitation. The treatment in Switzerland for my deafness has not up till now been a success and I am extremely deaf, and until this condition passes away I am not fit to take part in any public life at all. I believe it is only a temporary condition, but I have no idea how long it is going to last.

I shall be with you in thought at your Congress, and I shall follow your deliberations with intense interest. As you know, my whole life has been given to the woman’s movement, and there is no development of the woman’s that I follow with such interest as that in India. The movement there fulfills† all that I had hoped and dreamed of in my young days. It is so valiant and courageous, so definite and determined and at the same time so entirely free from bitterness or narrowness of conception. People in the very highest position have testified to their belief that it is the most important and most uplifting movement in India, and I am happy to think that such general acknowledgement and admiration has been accorded publicly. I trust and pray that the woman’s movement will keep itself free of all political contamination and will maintain its character and will ultimately set an ideal which will be followed by the rest of the country. India has such a very great future.

With warmest good wishes,

Yours very sincerely,
[blank]

Mrs. Hamid Ali,
The Residency,
Satara,
India.

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† Sic.

Carbon copy of a letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to Victor Gollancz

Offers to send him the typescript of her autobiography, to be entitled The Old Order Changeth (published as My Part in a Changing World), the substance of which deals with the suffrage movement and the peace movement.

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Transcript

16th. November, 1937.
Victor Gollancz Limited, | Publishers,
14, Henrietta Street, | Strand, W.C.2.

Dear Mr. Gollancz,

I have been engaged during the last year in writing the story of my life and I should like to submit it to you if you would be interested to see it.

The title I have chosen is “The Old Order Changeth” with a sub-title “An Autobiography” over my name.

The substance of the book which deals with the suffrage movement and with the peace movement, both of which had international aspects, will be of interest in the Dominions and also in America which I have visited five times.

There are twenty-two chapters and I am just finishing the twenty-second. The whole consists of about 150,000 words.

Would you care for me to send the typescript in a few days when it is quite finished, to be submitted to your reader? If so, and his report is favourable, we could perhaps then meet to decide details,

Yours sincerely,
[Added in pencil] Signed E P L

Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to J. M. Keynes

Has returned from India. Encloses a letter summarising his views of the situation in that country (see 6/135), and two others describing the Indian National Congress (wanting) and his meeting with Gandhi, Tagore, and Bose (see 6/133). His wife is recovering from the illness she suffered on board ship. Refers to adverse reactions to his recent pronouncements on the subject of free trade.

Carbon copy of a letter from Lady Pethick-Lawrence to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

11 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London, W.C.2.—Thanks her for her congratulations and wishes her a speedy recovery. Refers to the many bonds linking the Pethick-Lawrences to India, particularly in connection with the women’s suffrage movement, and expresses the hope that their feelings of friendship might lead to a real union between the two nations.

Circular letter by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Ranchi’.—Describes their arrival at Aden, and their meeting with Lydia and her family at Port Said.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

P & O. S. N. COMPANY.
S.S. RANCHI.
November 3rd, 1926.

My dear Friends,

Let me send you my love and greeting. We are now nearing Bombay after a perfectly splendid voyage, with lovely weather all the way—such wonderful light and colour in sea and sky. Many a time I have to pinch myself to make sure it is all real and that I am not dreaming a bright dream, to awake to November in Northern latitudes. Our entry into the Bay at Aden was a realisation of the most vivid advertisement poster you can imagine. The sea was an incredible green-blue, the rocks of Aden a rose-red. The warm breeze fluttered the white and gay filmy dresses of the women on board[;] even the “field-glass” incident and the Kodak camera were not missing. Anything so fiercely barren as Aden looks, I have not yet seen. We had four hours in port from 11–3 o’clock. We did not leave the ship for there is nothing to see but a military fort and some ancient tanks constructed by the Romans, for hoarding the water and supplying the garrison. We shall have a chance to see these in January, when the heat will be less fierce than it is now upon those sun-exposed sunbaked cliffs. The scene from the deck, with the boats coming and going with their merchandise of oil for the ship, and ostrich feathers and fans, and amber necklaces and trinkets to tempt the passengers was most picturesque, and so was the landing of the mails in boats by means of a crane. We had four days before this—a halt of four hours in the Port of the Suez Canal—Port Said.

Some of you will remember that I once had a secretary whose name is Lydia, and that she married an Egyptian student, whom she met in London. She went out to Alexandria with him. They live in the home of his parents, and his father is the Chief Revenue Minister for Ports and Lights under the Egyptian Government {1}, a man with the title of “Bey” who has much influence. When we dropped anchor at Port Said at 6 a.m. in the morning of October 27th we knew by radiogram that Lydia in Port Said was waiting to greet us. But we did not expect her so early in the morning to appear, as she did at our Stateroom door. Her intense joy and delight infected us with the same feeling. Maurice (the husband) and Shafik (the little son) of 2¾ years of age awaited us on deck, and the parents sent their warm greeting. They had both intended to come, but at the last moment “Papa” took ill, and “Mamma” could not leave him. Well before 6.30 we were landed in Maurice’s steam launch (which he had borrowed from a friend) and they gave us a sumptuous breakfast in their hotel, and then we made some purchases. We enjoyed every moment of those four hours and were so very warmly entreated to stay in the Paternal home on our return, that we are seriously considering whether we cannot make some arrangement, though this is difficult as we have contracted for the return journey to the last detail. Nothing could exceed the warmth of the greeting given us. They had made this long journey of about 7 hours, taking the child for the first time in the train. They have already painted furnished and prepared our room in their house, counting upon our visit to them, and they made us feel that it would be almost wicked not to give and receive this mutual delight.

We some times say to each other that if we had to turn back without landing in India at all, the voyage would have been worth while: for we have met so many representative and interesting people and they have given us so readily and warmly, information and personal experience. Our first impression of a crowd of Indian Civil Servants is a very pleasant one—the general idea is that they are comparable to a crowd of Schoolmasters who are proud of their school and deeply interested in the boys. You get the same unashamed keenness which is very refreshing. There are some very highly educated and influential Indians on board and we have had most interesting and delightful talks with them too, and have made friends in particular with Sir Charu Ghose, one of the Judges of the High Court in Calcutta. The women on board are mostly very good to look at, and one cannot help being very proud of them. The young mothers are incredibly young and athletic, there are about 20 children and they enjoy the voyage as much as anyone. They are most attractive. Fred and I have remarked that we have never heard a cross word to or from a single child, and we all agree that they are “a prize lot”. They had a children’s Fancy Dress party on Monday {2}. It was a charming sight. Our Fancy Dress Ball was a great success the following evening. There were 83 costumes all of them good. The decks were beflagged and illuminated and we were all very festive till past the midnight hour.

Within a few hours a very different experience awaits. Gone will be the cool breezes, the hours of leisure and all the immunities of life on board, and there will be heat, flies, and clamour! Let us hope there will be compensating interests and delights! It is all unknown country to me.

Do not forget that letters written up to December 21 will reach us c/o Thos. Cook, Bombay, and let us have a good batch by every mail.

With greetings.

Yours,
EMMELINE PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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{1} Scander Bey Gabriel.

{2} 1 November.

Circular letter by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Hotel Cecil, Agra.—Gives an account of the New Year’s celebrations at Calcutta, her visit to the Ramakrishna monastery, and their meeting with Tagore at Santiniketan, after which they came to Agra to revisit the Taj Mahal.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original. The latter part of the letter was written after the Pethick-Lawrences’ departure from Agra.)

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Transcript

January 5th, 1927.
Hotel Cecil,
Agra.

Dear Friends,

The New Year is a great season in Calcutta. It is a general holiday and there are races, polo tournaments, besides many other sports and games. New Year’s Eve was a night of revel in the Great Eastern Hotel, where we were staying in Calcutta. All the English and Scotch customs were carried out to the limit. The dinner was a great affair, of course the regulation turkey and the Christmas pudding enveloped in flames by rum formed part of the banquet. Every body was furnished at their tables with caps and masks and noses, balloons and whistles and hooters, fireworks, crackers, confetti. Scotch pipes dominated the din, and about every ten minutes Auld Lang Syne was sung, and at other times Scotch reels were punctuated with whoops and war cries. The Indian waiters looked on with solemn faces, and moved about bewildered and worried like sheep at a fair. Such a contrast it all was to the rest of the day. Fred having gone off to see some mines, I took a river steamer and went up the great river Hoogli, one of the mouths of the Ganges. It was one of the most golden days imaginable. The sun veiled in its own blazing glory shone in a cloudless sky, and a cool little breeze from the north rippled the surface of the water. I found myself amongst Indians who could talk English and two of them had been to the Congress at Gauhati. The river banks were the scene of ever changing drama—steps and quays (or “ghats” as they are called here) are built into the high sloping bank, and here, men and women and children bathe or play or pray or wash their clothes, and give their cow or buffalo a rub down. Big barges laden with hay or rough pottery floated down with the current and little boats with scarlet sails made their lazy way up or down stream.

When I came to the little quay labelled Belur I landed, for here was the Rama Krishna Monastery of which I had heard and read; and a friend who lives there was waiting to welcome me and take me to her retreat. A very beautiful place of retirement from the world, for her one living room overlooked all the traffic of the great river, and to lie on a mat and watch the noiseless flood going down to the sea, was to get the peace of all the world into your body and soul. Thirty years ago, this American woman met at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago the “Vedanta” Teacher Vivikananda, who himself was a disciple of the Indian Saint Rama Krishna Paramahamsa, and she made her life in India as his disciple forthwith. She helped him to found his Monastery, and now since his death, lives there helping to keep his influence alive and men come to this centre from all over the world. I saw a young man who had just arrived from Czecho-Slovakia, a peasant farmer who had saved money to make the journey and was just settling down to the work on the land, and give his inner being up to the influences that radiate from the place. This home is a centre of culture for many and while I was there, three young men dropped in for a talk. Towards sunset we all went on the roof, and watched the river and the buildings turning to gold and discussed many problems together, as Indians love to do. At last the little steamer that was to take me back came in sight, but one of them came back with me and we continued to talk as we moved down the now darkening flood illumined with many lights. This man had been with Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedeta) in her pilgrimages through the Indian villages which she describes so wonderfully in her books. Europeans say that she idealised, and wrote not facts but fairy tales. This man who was with her vouchsafed for the accuracy of her presentation, and told me many things about village life and custom, that did something to disperse the effect which the terrible poverty of the peasants makes upon one, and to show that even their life of ceaseless toil is able to produce loveliness and beauty.

The day had given me one of those glimpses of the soul of India which it is hard for anyone of another race to get. Yet there are ideas which make all races one. Once when I was given a reception in Calcutta a group of girls sang a song written and composed by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, and the gist of it was that though we were of different blood and spoke a different earthly language, we had met and conversed in heaven, and because we were moved by the same ideas we were not strangers, but heavenly friends. Speaking of Tagore brings me to describe the day that we spent at his home, which is also the school and University founded by his father 40 years ago, and developed by the poet recently into an International Centre of Research work, the various students there are specially seeking the secret of the unity of Asiatic culture, and are translating many manuscripts hitherto lost to memory. They will seek ultimately the union of all that is fundamental in the culture of the East and the West.

An hour or two in the train from Calcutta brought us to the junction and from there we took a local train to the little country station of Bolpur. Here we were met by a motor omnibus and conveyed to the Tagore estate which includes 700 acres in its area, to the Guest House called Santi Niketan i.e. the Home of Peace. This Guest House has been built over the spot where many years ago the Poet’s father came, having retired from the affairs of life. Here on this broad plateau, removed from sights or sounds of the world, he pitched his little hut, and gave himself up to meditation. The spirit of peace and of loving gracious hospitality pervades the place.

According to ancient Indian tradition still living in the Indian heart, the guest is “Atithi devobhava” the “guest divine” or the symbol of divine visitation.

The Poet Tagore has written “The guest brings to our house the great ideal of the spiritual unity of all human beings: It is not the guest who is under an obligation but the householder”. This is the spirit of Indian hospitality in general and of Santi Niketan in particular.

We were at once shown to the little suite of rooms set aside for us and after we had shaken off the dust of the journey we were served with tea. We were then taken round the School, Library, Art and Music Departments by a very gracious young Professor, and were brought back to our rooms for an hour of rest. We were then taken to the Poet who received us with warmest and kindest welcome, taking both our hands in his two hands. We talked awhile, and then were taken to the staff and students who had assembled on the wide roof for a talk from the Labour M.P. and after a very interesting question and answer discussion we came back to [about four illegible words] “Guru-daio” which is Tagore’s title amongst his students. It means Spiritual Guide or Divine Teacher, which indeed he is. We were perfectly charmed with him. He is a very beautiful and lovely person, his aristocratic face and his abundant silky white hair combed back from the forehead, and his young eyes and delicate sensitive hands, all these make a most worshipful presence. He is very simple and gentle and childlike and warmly gracious, and his mind is open to all beings and ideas which I found quite surprising. He is a keen Feminist and related with much quiet fun how he had written at the request of the women students a drama without a solitary male character in it (“doesn’t that rather please you!?”) and described with enthusiasm how beautifully the girls had acted in it. He spoke with astonishing understanding of the very controversial question of Birth-Control and his delightful talk was full of the spirit of youth. He is deeply alive to the unimaginative character of all burocracies†, and deeply grieved over circumstances in India that I cannot enter into here, but even in his criticism is humourous† and full of understanding. Indeed he seemed to us, the incarnation of deep ripe wisdom, and we bathed in it as in the light of a tropical full moon.

The electric plant on the estate had long ceased to work and the lights had gone out before we said goodnight, to walk back under a starry sky, with a bearer carrying a lantern to our feet. Next morning we were awake at 6 o’cl. with the birds singing and the sun shining, and after early breakfast we were taken in a motor car to see the Rural Construction side of the Foundation. This is no less than an attempt to carry out an experiment that if successful will enable the peasant without artificial irrigation, and without expensive implements, to raise 3 crops a year in the same soil, and also to develop useful handicrafts, such as spinning, weaving, tanning, and carpentry, that can be practised in the house in the hot season, when work on the land is impossible, and can also be done without expensive appliances, but with home-made tools. The model farm, including agriculture, intensive culture of vegetables, and dairy farm is excellent, and all immensely interesting. Everybody is so keen and works with so much harmony and pride in the result of their work. The teachers and students go out regularly into 20 villages to teach the people how to work to abolish their extreme poverty, and also to teach them by demonstration how to get rid of the plague of malaria and many other preventable diseases. They cleanse the water supply, clear the village of stagnant water and of approaching jungle, and perform many kinds of very helpful service. The son-in-law of Tagore is on the present Government Agricultural Commission. The ultimate aim is the growth of this movement to National magnitude: it is the contribution of the University to the problem of peasant poverty and misery.

You can have no idea how beautiful the early morning in this great plateau was. It seemed to have an Eden freshness and sweetness. Beautiful birds flew about in the trees, peacocks strutted, and above all human beings in all the sweetness of their early morning meditation greeted us with gracious looks. Several students came into the main office of this agricultural side, and sat down and waited for a speech just as the students on the literary side had gathered on the roof the night before, for a talk from the Labour M.P. We spoke of the oneness of all thought and work, the oneness without division of the spirit that is in us—because just at that moment we were realising it deeply. We then came back to take leave of the “Guru-daio” the presiding genius of all the activities of the place, and again he was most dear and gracious, and then after a most delicious breakfast that we found awaiting us, we set forth upon our journey.

The next objective was a re-visitation of the supernal Taj Mahal. And this reminds me that on the evening while dining with Tagore, we heard that he had written a beautiful poem about the Taj. It was in Bengali of course, as yet untranslated. We urged him to read it and translate it for us, which he was naturally a little reluctant to do, for words are his music and poetry is untranslatable. But he consented. It was lovely to hear his own speech, it was music as he gave forth the cadences. And then he slowly translated, feeling for the English words with eyes shut, and a dreamy light on his face. The one main idea of all remains with me—that glory, might, majesty, dominion, kingdom in Empire pass away as though they had never been and not one iota remains—but the sorrow of a great love had been transformed into immortal beauty and become “a tear on the cheek of eternity”.

We spent the next afternoon and evening renewing our delight, and bathing ourselves in the beauty of the Taj. We took a boat on the Jumna which flows under the wall on the north side and watched the afternoon light playing upon it, and saw it reflected in the river. Then we landed and watched the sun set, and lingered on and on until the light died out, except where concentrated on the white marble domes and minarets; and the flame of the lamps of the interior shrine flickered through the screens. The white ethereal beauty was reflected entire in the water garden, as we went away by the great South gate, leaving with us a vision of beauty which we shall never forget.

We left Agra last night to journey to the ancient city of Jaipur and have here met with some unique experiences, which must be told in another letter.

We leave Bombay in ten days from now and shall be home all being well on about February 3rd or 4th, well in time for the opening of Parliament on the 8th. We shall spend three or four days in Egypt, to get another look (after 20 years) at the Sphinx, and the great Pyramids and to stay two days with friends in Alexandria.

We look forward with great pleasure to seeing our friends again, and we send them our warmest greeting and good wishes.

Yours,
EMMELINE PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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† Sic.

Circular letter by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Gambiers Gardens, Adyar, Madras.—Describes Campbell’s home, and gives her impressions of Madras. Refers to the involvement of women in the recent elections there.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

Gambiers Gardens,
Adyar,
Madras.
November 10, 1926.

My dear Friends,

This is only our sixth day in India, and so very many new and interesting experiences have been crowded into it, that I can hardly believe we have not been at least twice as long in this country. Fred has written a good long letter up to the day before yesterday when we were in the train for Madras. We reached Madras at 7.30 yesterday morning and were met by our very old and dear friend, Mr. A. Y. G. Campbell, Secretary to the Government of Madras, and by Dr. James Cousins, Principal of the Theosophical College at Adyar. We drove “home” at once leaving our bearer, Amir, to see to the luggage. We were simply delighted on the first sight of our new home. One enters the gate by what looks like a beautiful park, with fine trees, and stretches of green grass, with a river in the distance, and reaches a beautiful domain with great stone pillared high verandahs running all round, with very high vast cool rooms, with no doors and with high blue-shuttered windows opening out on the park according to the time of day and position of the sun. Electric fans in all the rooms can be turned on by pressing a button, and one lives all day and all night in currents of air. Fred and I have a gorgeous suit[e] of 5 rooms and a huge verandah for our private use, so we feel like duke and duchess. He is kept going with interviews and sights from 7.30 in the morning till night, but I prefer to spend the noon hours at home where I have books on Indian Architecture and the 5 daily newspapers, representing different shades of thought—and endless occupation for the mind and thoughts—as I think over the crowding impressions of the past few hours.

Madras is very beautiful, quite unlike Bombay which is beautiful also but in a different kind of world. Bombay is like a beautiful city of California—a mixture of Pasadena with a harbour beautiful as the Golden Gate of S. Francisco. Madras is unique—emerald with rice fields, rich in every kind of vegetation full of colour—waves of colour break over you, one is confused and dazzled. We see many people and talk with many, all am[a]zingly kind and ready “to take trouble with us” and we get a bewildering mass of impressions from which emerges the fact, that the individual persons who talk to us are all keen, disinterested, and very sincere. It is like Galsworthy’s play “Loyalties”, for each one is living for some ideal which he shares in common with his group. Where that ideal is touched he is as firm as a rock, otherwise is full of wide and varied sympathies and kindnesses.

We are invited to dine with the Governor, Viscount Goschen, this evening at Government House.

Monday was election day for the Legislative Council of Madras. 70 per cent of the Hindus voted, and a very large number of women. A woman stood as a candidate, the results will not be known until the end of the week. Women did duty at the polling booths. There are interesting articles about this subject in the papers. Everybody apparently agrees that the women of this country are developing with astonishing rapidity for “the unchanging East”. There is a mixed Ladies Club in Madras where European and Indian ladies play games of all kinds and tournaments. They are having a great Gymkana next Monday, to which I am invited, but on that day we shall be in Mysore. We have been invited to go to visit the Native Ruler of Mysore for 3 days so we travel all Thursday night and return here Monday night. The attractions and the invitations are so many that we could easily put in a very fruitful and interesting 10 months, instead of 10 weeks. Everyone regards the shortness of our sojourn as an absurdity and so it is, but I am so glad to have come at all, that I can’t give any emotion to regrets. I heard 2 lectures on Indian Art yesterday by Dr. Cousins—there was a dinner party here at 8.15. My day began at 5.30, when I was roused by Amir who brought tea to our compartment and ended about midnight. But I was not tired. So far the life and the climate suit me very well. I am always hungry before the meal time. Fred is very well too. With love and greeting.

EMMELINE PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Ranchi’.—Describes his and his wife’s journey by ship from Marseilles as far as Crete.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original. Subjoined is the text of a telegram dated 5 Nov.)

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Transcript

P & O. S. N. Co. | S. S. Ranchi
The last day to Port Said, October 26th, 1[926]

A deep blue sea, with tiny dancing waves is all around the ship as I write. The sun is exceptionally hot for this part of the voyage and the shade temperature has been close on 80º for the last couple of days. The time since we reached Marseilles has passed along very pleas[ant]ly and very rapidly.

The ship did not start till late Friday night so we spent the afternoo[n] of that day walking about in Marseilles in a park by the sea and climbin[g] by the funicular to the golden Virgin on the hill.

All Friday night the mails were coming on board and it was 5 a.m. before we actually left the harbour. But the French coast was still plainly visible when we got up and for some hours afterwards. By midday there was nothing to be seen but ocean.

The first two days of the trip were a bit choppy and the lethargy o[f] the beginning of a voyage with the bromide of the sea made us sleepy and a little headachy; our cabin on the bottom deck with its port hole closed would have been unbearable but for delicious draughts of fresh air that were poured in continuously just over our berths by a special ventilating apparatus.

We speedily found several people we knew on board and made the acquai[n]tance of several more. Curiously enough they are all judges in India. One (Blackwell) has played tennis with me in the Inner Temple, another (Rankin) was at Trinity with me, and is now Chief Justice in Calcutta. Blackwell and his wife are going out to Bombay for the first time and have invited us to stay with them on our return there. They also introduced us to Mr. Justice Crump and his wife with whom we played Bridge last night. Still another Judge, an Indian, Sir C Ghose, is on board with his wife returning after a visit to Europe; he is a friend of Bose, and was in England during the suffragette campaign and attended some of the meetings.

We passed through the Straits of Bonifacio (between Corsica and Sardinia) after dark on Saturday evening and saw nothing but the intermittent lights of the lighthouse. We were more fortunate on Sunday. Two thirty in the afternoon saw us opposite the volcanic island of Stromboli with its crater emitting smoke; quite a large village is gathered at its foot with a population that I am told lives by fishing. Another hour and a half brought us in sight of Sicily and we ran into the narrow Straits of Messina before darkness came upon us. Avoiding the fierce promontory of “Scylla” on the Italian coast, and the treacherous whirlpool of “Charybdis” on the Sicilian side, we steamed on past Messina now fully lighted up, and the wonderful illuminated promenade of Italian Reggio and so out into the open sea once more.

Another 24 hours brought us to the lighthouse on Crete and that on the island of Gaydo just south of the larger island. We are due at Port Said before day-break on Wednesday, October 27th.

We have already had a dance on board and several games; and a sports committee has been formed of which I am a member. After Port Said they will put up more awnings and players will not be subject to the fierce sun. We are due at Bombay on Friday morning November 5th. Our address while in India will be c/o Thos. Cook and Son, Bombay.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

P.S. Cable received from Bombay, 5th. November, 1926, as follows:

“Arrived safely after a calm journey. Both well. Made several friends and enjoyed the dances on board.”

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The right-hand side of the text has missed the paper. The missing letters have been supplied in square brackets.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Ranchi’.—Outlines the intended programme of his and his wife’s tour of India.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

P & O. S. N. Co.
S. S. Ranchi.
November 3rd, 1926

An exceedingly comfortable journey is behind us. We are now only two days out from Bombay. So far all has been leisure, to-morrow will be pay, pack, and preparations, & Friday we shall be plunged into the vortex of our activities in India.

The voyage itself has however been far from wasted, for on this boat are congregated men holding important positions all over India—mostly English but a few Indians as well—and they have been eager to give us information upon all and every subject connected with the country.

There is not very much to tell about the voyage and it would be foolish of me to give you any impressions with regard to conditions in India until I have seen something of them first hand. But I have gathered enough to realise that there will be more than ample to fill up our allotted ten weeks to the brim. We do not propose to stay very long in Bombay on arrival, and as soon as possible we shall take the mail train through to Madras where we shall stay with an old College friend of mine, A.Y.G. Campbell. Mr. & Mrs. James Cousins are also there and they have received an invitation for us to go with them into the Native State of Mysore and stay there a few days as guests of the State.

After returning to madras† we are going towards the end of November up to Calcutta where we have a large circle of friends including the Governor, Bose the Scientist, Lord Lytton, and Tagore the poet. I expect to pay a visit to the jute mills and coal mines and we also hope to get away to Darjeeling to see the Himalayas.

After leaving Calcutta we are going to see the sacred city of Benares where I want to meet some of the professors of the Hindu University. Of course the famous Taj Mahal at Agra will claim a visit and from about December 15 to 20 we have promised to Mrs. Cruichshank† (née Joan Dugdale) at Sitapur near Lucknow. After that we have to see Delhi, Amritsar, Lahore and Ahmedabad, the home of Gandhi, before returning to Bombay.

We are due to sail from there in the Kaisar-i-Hind on January 15, and had intended to come straight home; but at Port Said on our way out we received a fascinating invitation to visit one of the Egyptian ministers at his home at Alexandria on our way back. We have decided to accept this, and accordingly our return will be delayed a few days, but not later than the first week in February.

Letters may be posted to us in India up to Wednesday night, December 22nd in London (and a day earlier in the provinces) to c/o Thos. Cook and Son, Bombay, who will forward all correspondence during our stay in India.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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† Sic.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Ghoom.—Describes his and his wife’s train journey to Darjeeling, and their accommodation there. Gives his impressions of the Himalayas, and describes his ascent of Tiger Hill at Ghoom.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

Ghoom, November 30, 1926.

A Week-end in the Himalayas.

I am seated in the verandah of a tiny hotel 8000 feet above the sea. On my left are the eternal snows—Kinchinjunga towering into the sky 20,000 feet above me and forty five miles away. Ir† is eight o’clock in the morning and breakfast is just coming, but more than 4 hours ago we had our “chota hazri” or little breakfast—a fine draught of hot milk and some buttered toast; for Tiger hill is 3 miles away and 1000 feet above us and it is necessary to climb up there before sunrise if one is to see the full panorama of hill and mountain.

This visit to the Himalayas is sandwiched in at the week-end between two strenuous bits of life at Calcutta—factories, politicians, trade unions—and is a very welcome interlude. We started from Calcutta at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday evening after a light repast and were soon both asleep on the train.

We were awakened at a stop at 6 o’clock. “If you look out in a few minutes on the right side of the train you will catch your first glimpse of the snow mountains” said the guard. Sure enough, a brilliant peak disclosed itself bathed in the pink light of dawn. A little later a whole range came into view and then was lost to sight again.

But we were still in the plains. At 8 o’clock we changed on to a narrow guage† line and the real ascent began. At 1000 feet altitude the train entered a forest and it grew colder. Winding round curve after curve three sturdy little engines pulled the train up the hill each engine having a section to itself, like 3 caterpillars with a little space between.

All sorts of engineering feats were accomplished and every ¾ hour another thousand feet was scaled. The tremendous Kinchinjinga† range came more frequently into view and remained longer in sight. At last the train reached the summit of its journey (about 7500 ft) and ran down a few hundred into Darjeeling station.

A short ascent took us to the “Mount Everest” hotel where we had booked rooms—a really delightful place very spacious but not pretentious, more like the Club at Lake Placid (New York State) than the swagger hotels at S. Moritz. We were almost the only visitors as though this is a perfect time of the year for weather it is between the two seasons of “residents” and “tourists” which come earlier and later.

We had two adjoining rooms and our front windows faced the whole range of which Kinchinjunga is the dominating figure. A little walk took us to Observatory Hill with a living panorama in sight and just above, a plan with names of the peaks. Kinchinjunga itself is 45 miles away and well over 28,000 feet in height that is to say more than 20,000 above the eminence on which we stood. Yet it stood out in clear outline against the cloudless sky. Only a few clouds spread out a thin gauzy mist about its lower limbs. I made a rough reckoning and realised that a rope ladder stretched from us to its summit would rise one in ten the whole way. I pointed my walking stick to the peak and verified roughly that it was correct.

It was no good looking for Everest, it cannot be seen from there. Owing to its great distance (110 miles from Darjeeling) its lofty height is hidden by intervening mountains. The guide reminded us that it was 29,002 feet high and when I poured contempt on the odd two feet chid me and pointed with triumph to the printed table!

We walked home passing through the open square where there is a special bazaar on Sunday. Thither had come the surrounding villagers, some pure Tibetans others Nepalese others the Indian Himalayan people half way it seemed between Aryan and Mongol. All of them are fine vigorous upstanding dignified happy folk. The men and women seem all able to carry immense loads on their back supported in place by a band round the forehead. The children are naive and fascinating.

Next morning we were called at 4.30 with chota Hazri, a fire was lit for us in the larger bedroom and we sat looking out into the darkness through the window. About 5 o’clock the snow mountains showed in faint outline. At 5.30 the range was clad in faint pink, the nearer dark mountains almost invisible. Two minutes to six the topmost point of Kinchinjunga was shot with light—the rising sun. We waited till nearly 7. Then E.P.L. went back to bed and I wrote letters.

A leisurely day passed and at 5 o’clock we took train to Ghum one station back on the line, the highest point on the railway. We had rooms in a primitive little hotel and after an early meal went to bed soon after 8.

We were called at ¼ past 3! I was to walk and E.P.L. to go in a chair to the top of Tiger hill. In view however of the great altitude E.P.L. decided that it was better I should go alone. It was three miles all uphill—the guide, Ameer and I strode on in the night with a little moon overhead and stars all around. We reached the summit just at 5 o’clock. Light was showing in the Eastern sky. A complete panorama was visible all around, the wonderful Kinchinjunga range in the north, a line of snowy peaks N.E, and in N.W. three points just showing above the dark foreground mountains, and the middle of these was Everest!

The snow hills grew light and punctually at 2 minutes to 6 Kinchinjunga caught the rising sun. Seven minutes later (it is I think some 80 miles further west) Everest shone out.

I waited half an hour, made friends with other sight seers (one of them Dr. Fritz Neuberger of Munich a friend of Fraulein Heymann!) watched the shadows fall down the mountains, and came home to breakfast at the hotel. These later pages have not been written as you can well imagine waiting for breakfast on the Ghum hotel verandah but back once more in the plains. At Ghum there was an interesting Buddhist temple to visit, and a final survey of the hills to be made. Then Ameer came down with the luggage by train and we descended more expeditiously by car ready for an early bed before another strenuous time in Calcutta.

I find this letter may just arrive in time for Christmas so I send once more our every greeting and good wish to you all.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

P.S. | Post up to Dec. 22 to c/o Thos. Cook and Son, Bombay, up to Dec. 29 to Passenger on SS “Kaisar-i-Hind”, Bombay (leaving Bombay Jany 15), up to Jany 5 to Passenger on Kaisar-i-Hind, Aden; up to Jany 12 to c/o Scandar Bey Gabriel, Head Revenue Official Ports and Lights Administration, Alexandria, Egypt.

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† Sic.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Gambiers Gardens, Adyar, Madras.—Describes Campbell’s house and the Theosophical College. Refers to their visits to Hindu temples at Madras and a meeting with the Maharaja at Mysore.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)
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Transcript

Gambiers Gardens, | Adyar, | Madras.
November 17, 1926.

It is six a.m. The sun is just rising. I am seated on a spacious balcony in Campbell’s house overlooking this Adyar river. The clouded sky is tinted with pale pink. The temperature is about 82º, but as the air is heavily charged with moisture it seems much hotter. At 6.15 E.P.L. will join me and our “Boy”, Amir, who is a grave old Mohamedan servant whom we engaged at Bombay to look after us all the time we are in India, will bring us out “chota hazri” consisting of bananas tea and toast and butter. After chota we shall dress and drive off to Mr. Cousins’ bungalow getting back here at 8 o’clock to receive some visitors. At 9 o’clock we shall breakfast with Campbell and his friend, Col. Worgan who lives with him in the house and after that I am going to drive to the secretariat to have a short talk with the Governor of Madras.

We are very fortunate in having the use of a motor car during our stay in Madras, as another of Campbell’s friends, Mr. Boag, has gone to Delhi and has kindly allowed us full control of his car during his absence. The driver understands enough English to take our instructions. According to Indian ways he always shakes his head which means “yes” when I tell him anything, and at first one thinks he means “no” as it would do in England.

Campbell’s bungalow is pretty much what one would call a palace in England. Our rooms occupy about a quarter of the first floor and are about the size of the whole of Fourways including the billiard room. In addition our balcony alone is 100 ft by 40 ft with 15 tall Corinthian columns.

Madras is absolutely a garden city, Campbell’s compound I should think must be 25 acres in extent and some compounds are even larger. The Theosophical Society have a compound which is probably 50 to 100 acres and is lower down the river. In it are situated headquarters, library, several other buildings and bungalows one of which is occupied by the Cousins. From the balcony of the Library a view can be got of the mouth of the Adyar, and the ocean itself. A little north of the mouth of the Adyar commences the marine parade of Madras which stretches for seven gorgeous miles of sea front.

One day a prominent Hindu, Mr. Rangacharya, took us to see two Indian temples one to Shiva and the other to Vishnu {1}. By special privilege we were allowed to enter, first taking off our shoes. We were allowed to look right through to the holy of holies, and were also shown the silver and gold pedestals made in the form of animals on which the images of the god are carried each by thirty or forty men on the days of the great festivals. On one side of each temple is a great artificial lake (known as a tank in India) with steps down on all sides on which the people sit. On the other three sides of the tank are houses in which large numbers of people live. We were not allowed to leave either of the temples until the usual Indian honour had been conferred upon us of hanging round our necks great garlands of fragrant flowers.

In the middle of our stay in Madras we paid a visit to the Indian State of Mysore. The ruler, the Maharajah is a very enlightened man who has won praises on all sides for the progressive and sympathetic way he has run his State. We stayed in the city of Mysore in the guest house as the guests of the State, and were taken several interesting drives by the chief secretary and his assistant. One motor trip was to the famous island fort of Seringapatam. Another to the great dam of which they are justly proud. It is the second largest dam in the world, it locks in 40 square miles of water, is 130 ft high and 1¾ miles in length. It was constructed throughout by Indian labourers working under Indian engineers without any help from Europeans. During our stay we had a short interview with the Maharajah and if I had been able to stay a day or two longer he would, the secretary said, have probably invited me to play tennis with him as he is a very keen and good player. Mysore is about 2000 ft above sea level, and the climate in November is dry and invigorating like a perfect July day in England.

To-night we are off to spend a couple of days in Madura close to the southernmost point of India. I must leave the rest of the account of our stay in Madras until next mail. I will only say that Campbell has proved as ever a most kind & excellent host, and there is scarcely a public man of importance here whom I have not seen and talked to.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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{1} The Kapaleeswarar temple and tank, and the Parthasarathy temple, in front of which is the tank known as Paravei.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Kaisar-i-Hind’.—Describes his and his wife’s meetings with Bose, Gandhi, and Tagore, their visits to Jaipur, Udaipur, and Ahmedabad, and their return to Bombay. Encloses a printed letter (6/135) recording his political impressions of India.—(Later.) His wife’s sudden illness compelled them to abandon their intended visit to Egypt.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original. The postscript was written after the Pethick-Lawrences’ return to England.)

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Transcript

P & O. S. N. Co.,
S.S. Kaisar-I-Hind.
January 19, 1927.

Three men in India stand out head and shoulders above the rest—Gandhi, Tagore, and Sir Jagadis Bose. We were fortunate in knowing all of them before we went out to India, and during the last few weeks of our stay there we had the opportunity of renewing our acquaintance.

We went to lunch with Sir J. Bose in Calcutta on our way to Gauhati. He has a wonderful Institute, buildings and lecture room in front and a beautiful garden court behind. He showed us many fascinating experiments. A plant feeding and automatically ringing a bell with each gulp of food; shading the plant from sunlight the gulps become less and less frequent. A plant’s pulse beating; poison supplied at the root the pulse dies down; restoratives supplied, the plant recovers. But Bose is not merely the world-famous plant physiologist, he is also a great artist, philosopher and patriot, and his explanations of the panels on the walls of his house were full of poetry and beauty.

Gandhi we met at Gauhati, in simplicity of life reminding us forcibly of John the Baptist. Dress a single loin cloth, food the humble fruits of the earth. Surrounded everywhere by hundreds or thousands of devoted followers to whom he is a Mahatma he remains a quiet unassuming man without the slightest pose of saintliness. He discussed mundane affairs quite simply with us in his tiny hut and told us that though on the surface things were not going exactly as his intellect would like, deep down in his consciousness he was content that all was well.

Tagore we went specially to see at his University a hundred miles away from Calcutta. He is a superb figure with his gracious smile and wide understanding and acceptance of life. Very different from the austere personality of Gandhi yet to him equally the spiritual life is the fountain spring of being. Learning, poetry, social service are the channels through which the living water pours out to sustain humanity. Yet a child would have no embarrassment in his presence and the laugh of the poet and of his little playmate would ring out happily together.

Tagore’s University is two sided. One half is for Literae humanae, and here are priceless manuscripts of Sanskrit and ancient Chinese; the other half is intensely practical, the actual demonstration of improved methods of agriculture and simple preventive medicines.

We left with reluctance and sped away westward to have another glimpse of the exquisite Taj at Agra and on from there to visit some of the native States of Rajputana. The rapid fall in temperature coupled with our early arrival at Jaipur (4.27 a.m.) gave us both bad colds but in other respects we were in luck’s way, for in view of the impending visit of the Crown Prince of Sweden all the glory of Jaipur was prepared for display. Enormous State elephants with faces and ears painted with lovely floral designs, solemn bullocks decked out in red and gold cloths, disdainful camels, soldiers in chain armour riding horses padded against primitive weapons—all passed us by in gorgeous procession, first in rehearsal and next day in actual display before the royal guest. Then there were jewels—strings of pearls the size of filberts, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, jade of matchless size and splendour. Next an amazing collection of old Indian paintings. Finally ancient carpets of fabulous worth, and shawls and saris of cashmere and silk exquisite in delicacy and in colour. Of all these we were afforded a special private view in company with the Councillors of State.

After Jaipur, Udaipur, where we were guests of the State and were taken to wondrous palaces enshrined on islands in a lustrous lake. Here Shah Jehan, builder of the Taj, spent his youth exiled by his father, but guest of the Maharana of Udaipur.

The glory of princes is not incompatible with—alas it is often built upon—the poverty of the country side. In Rajputana we introduced ourselves to some of a group of social reformers who are seeking to improve the lot of the peasant, and learnt something of their story. One we tried to interview in the Udaipur jail, but permission was not granted to us and in view of the shortness of our stay we could not press our request.

From Udaipur we went to Ahmedabad where we found one of the few well run Trade Unions in India with a woman as its leading spirit—Miss Anasuya Surabhai—a very remarkable personality who has fought many a battle for freedom both for her sex and for Labour. We also ran out to Gandhi’s “Ashram” a kind of college or fraternity for students. The Mahatma himself was away but his brother showed us over and instructed us in the cottage spinning and weaving which are specialities of Gandhi’s national revival.

From Ahmedabad back to Bombay to the charming roof-flat overlooking the city, the home of our friend Sheldon Bunting where we were entertained as happily as on our first arrival in India. One morning I visited a mill, and went on to see the so-called dwellings—insanitary pigsties would be a more nearly accurate description—in which many of the workers live, I also visited the 16,500 “model” tenements of which because they are uncomfortable, inaccessible, and financially beyond the reach of the workers, no less than 13,500 are untenanted! One day Emmeline addressed a meeting. We also lunched with the Governor and had an interesting talk with him.

We are now on the Kaisar-I-Hind sailing homewards. The Crown Prince of Sweden is on board and has won good opinions among the passengers by his unceremonious behaviour.

I have already written a special letter dealing with all my political impressions which owing to its unusual length and importance I am having printed. I am arranging for a copy to be enclosed with this letter {1}. I have a number of extra copies so if you would like one or more to give to your friends and will let me know, I will send them on as far as available.

Fascinating as our time has been it will be delightful to be home once more among all our friends.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

P.S. Since the above was written after our return to the ship from visiting the famous tanks at Aden, Emmeline contracted a germ which laid her unexpectedly low and made me exceedingly anxious. We abandoned our proposed visit to Egypt, and it was still not possible to land when we reached Marseilles. We accordingly continued on the boat to Plymouth and by the time we reached there her recovery was fortunately nearly complete. She will rest a few days in Weston-super-Mare before returning to London. Fortunately we were blest with beautiful weather the whole of the voyage.

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{1} PETH 6/135.

† Sic.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

En route to Calcutta.—Outlines his and his wife’s activities during the last fortnight. Discusses in detail the political situation in Madras and the labour conditions there, and describes visits to Mysore and Madura.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

En Route to Calcutta.
November 22, 1926.

It is only a month yesterday since we left England, and a fortnight ago in the train to Madras I was writing an account of our first experiences of India {1}.

I have rarely lived as strenuous fourteen days as those which I have just experienced. Thanks to the businesslike arrangements made by my friend Campbell I have seen almost everyone of any account in Madras—the Governor, all the non-elected members of the Madras Government, all but one of the elected Madras ministers, and all the principal members of the three political parties in Madras, “justisites”, “independents”, and “congressmen”; I have visited most of the factories of the city, I have addressed three trade union meetings and have discussed the labour position with the commissioner of Labour and with all the principal trade union officials; in addition I have travelled 300 miles west and spent 3 days in the State of Mysore seeing sights in the capital city Mysore and addressing two meetings in the adjacent city of Bangalor, and 300 miles south to Madura where we stayed with a landowner and spent two days visiting temples and investigating conditions in a neighbouring village.

Let me deal first with the political situation. We arrived in Madras on the day immediately following the election which had gone off quietly but not without considerable interest and excitement. We were told that quite a number of women had exercised the franchise, and that one woman had stood as a candidate in a rural constituency on the West Coast. Previous to the election the “Justice” members had formed the principal party in the Madras Legislative Council and therefore from them the Ministers had been selected. These ministers had charge of what are known as the “transferred” subjects, while the “reserved” subjects, according to the diarchy installed by the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms, were controlled by the members of the Legislative Council appointed by and responsible to the Governor alone.

My first meeting was with the members of the “Congress” party who are the Swarajists in Madras. Their main plank is the utter inadequacy of the amount of self government provided by the existing constitution. The diarchy of the provincial governments and the very limited powers given to the elected representatives in the (federal) Government of India are alike condemned by them. They do not want a commission appointed in 1929 by Britain to consider what modifications of the constitution she will be graciously pleased to grant to India, but a round table conference of Indians and British to arrange the details of the change over to complete “Dominion” status. They have abandoned the “boycott” of the Council as implied in the “non-cooperation” of Gandhi, and the “walk-out of the Chamber” as ineffective political weapons and substituted obstruction based as far as they understand it on the tactics of Parnell. On local issues they deny that they are in any sense either a “capitalist” party or a Brahmin party, pointing to the fact that most of the Trade Union leaders hold prominent positions in their ranks, and many non-Brahmins were their candidates at the recent elections. They support a wide franchise but point out that an illiterate franchise provides grave opportunities for corruption.

The Justice party consider the diarchy a piece of rather badly constructed machinery which will need very considerable repairs if it is to be made to work. But they are quite averse to jumping from that into complete self-government either in the local or in the federal government. They regard the Swaraj and Congress parties of Indian† as essentially Brahmin, and fear that they would use any power given to them [to] rivet fetters of Brahmin tyranny upon India. They look upon themselves as champions of the non-Brahmins generally including the large section of outcast “untouchables” who are so terribly oppressed at the present time.

The Independents have not any one point of view and hold many divergent opinions, some approximating to the “Congress” and others to the “Justice” party.

The Mohammedans have a special franchise of their own for the Assembly and a specially appointed member of the Legislative Council of Madras. As traders they have not troubled much about the higher education which has been so much sought after by the Brahmins, and some of those whom I saw are fearful lest greater self government may mean in practice subordination of Mohammedan to Hindu which they would resent and resist perhaps even by violence.

The English in Madras hold many varying opinions and those in official positions are naturally chary of expressing very definite views as to the future. I think however there is a general consensus of opinion that there has been a genuine attempt made both by the British and by the Indian majority-party to work the constitution and that it has not proved at all easy. Some think that self government ought to have been confined first to taluk boards and district boards (rural district councils and county councils). Few however would think it possible to go back on the provincial self-government already conferred. The most advanced x† view that I heard was that (since people prefer self-government to good government) complete self-government should be bestowed in 1929 on the Madras Presidency, the Governor becoming entirely constitutional, all the subjects including law and order and finance being “transferred” to the control of the popularly-elected assembly, and the whole government to be in the hands of ministers to be selected, as in England, from the majority party. But, and those who took this view were emphatic on this point, this handing over the reins in Madras must be accompanied by a tightening instead of s† loosening of the reins in the Government of India as a whole, and further it must by no means be assumed that self governing powers similar to those proposed for Madras should be given to all the other component parts of British India.

I do not propose, at this stage, to express any view of my own, and I will therefore only add that the result of the elections in Madras presidency has been a considerable victory for the Congress party, who are now the largest single party and will perhaps constitute an absolute majority of the elected members (out of a Chamber of about 130, 30 or more are official or nominated). The woman in S. Canara just missed being elected. Whether the Congress party will accept office—as minister for the “transferred” subjects remains to be seen. Their originally avowed policy was the reverse and they have given pledges to the Indian National Congress itself to this effect. But it is thought that Congress itself this December may give them absolution from this promise and that that may not be too late for their final reply to the Governor.

I pass now to Labour conditions. It is essential in this connection to remember that town factory labour forms but a tiny part of the total labouring population of the country. This is of the greatest importance both in itself—in order that true proportion may be preserved in the mind—and also because the conditions of agricultural labour have necessarily a great effect upon wages and conditions in the factories. If the factory worker retains one foot on the land he has to that extent a refuge from unlimited oppression in the factory. If there is a horde of ill paid half-starved agricultural labourers at the factory gates that will make a successful strike very difficult.

I am glad to say that after considerable investigation I obtained substantial agreement as to facts from the employers’ and workmen’s sides. But here the satisfaction ends, for the conditions are certainly deplorable. In the cotton mills of Madras a skilled man working nine hours earns from less than a rupee a day or some R24 a month (8/- a week) up to about R36 (12/- a week) with a few at higher amounts. At the railway works the hours are 8 and the wages of about 50% of the skilled men vary from about R18 a month up to R24 (6/- to 8/- a week), another 30 or 40% getting 9/- to 12/- a week, with some at higher levels. The coolies (labourers) get R10, R12, and sometimes as much as R15 a month (3/6, 4/-, and 5/- a week).

Of course the Indian has far fewer expenses than the British worker having next to nothing to find for clothes and fuel, while rent will be from 4d to 1/- a week. Nevertheless at least R32 a month (11/- a week) is needed for bare subsistence for man wife and 3 children, while R72 a month (24/- a week) was given me by some of the workers as a real living wage for a family. Consequently existing wages do not in many cases provide even a subsistence level unless several other members of the famil[y] are also working.

One of the obnoxious features of Indian factory life is that wages often do not commence to be paid until full six weeks after a man starts work. In the meanwhile he often gets into the hands of the moneylender and can never extricate himself again. Other complaints are as to fines and victimisation, and the fact that while there are elected representatives of employers on the legislative councils there are no elected representatives of Labour, also the utterly disproportionate wages given to Europeans and Anglo Indians (children of mixed marriages) who probably start at R84 a month (28/- a week) and rise to far higher figures.

In fairness I should like to say that I found one of the British-owned cotton mills considerably superior to the Indian ones. Some attempts were being made at good housing, education of children of the operatives, and welfare work generally including the provision of well ventilated rooms for mid-day dinner. In the Indian mill I was shocked to see workmen eating their food squatting on the floor in the midst of the machinery.

Behind the town operative lies the ryot (peasant farmer), behind the ryot lies the landless agricultural labourer of whom perhaps 50% are outcasts. Taking one year with another the peasant with the help of his family may get an average monthly income of R10 (3/6 a week) and upwards, the landless may get R9, R12, or even R18 or R24 (3/6, 4/-, 6/-, 8/- a week) in busy times for his own labour alone but his wages will sink to R9 a month (3/- a week) or less or nothing when times are slack. Of course his wife and children may also be able to earn something and there may be something to be got out of a cottage industry or even a village industry. But the total family income may very likely not reach R100 a year (£7. 10. -) and of that pittance the money-lender and other harpies may secure a considerable part. I do not give these figures as in any way accurate but rather as a rough estimate from the general talks that I have had. Possibly I may have occasion to correct them later. In any case they relate only to Madras.

{2} In the early part of my letter I spoke of my visits to Mysore and Madura. My wife and I went to the former as guests of the native ruler, the Maharaja. This Indian State is governed exclusively by Indians and has recently received a constitution from him in which there are two properly elected Houses. Though the Maharaja is not obliged to accept their advice I gather that he usually does so except on certain questions which he reserves exclusively for himself. The State is acknowledged to be very well governed and has to its credit the construction by exclusively Indian design and labour of the second largest dam in the world.

In madura† we were entertained by Mr. Foulkes a friend of Mr. Campbell’s. We went inside two most interesting Hindu temples, one of them having an area of some 40 acres including a beautiful artificial lake. I climbed an intricate stairway to the top of one of the towers and overlooked the city. On our second visit it was festival night and the temple was illuminated. Great crowds of worshippers as well as sacred cows wandered everywhere at will except into the holy of holies.

Not far from Madura is the village of Usilempatti where the interesting experiment is being made of weaning the tribe of Kullahs from dacoity (robbery) by the simple expedients of giving them water and thus enabling them to earn their own living from their irrigated fields, & by giving their children education in an elementary school. It appears to be quite successful so far, showing once more that the roots of crime are poverty and ignorance.

This letter should reach you a few days before Christmas. Please accept from my wife and myself for your own circle and for all your friends our hearty good wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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{1} PETH 6/125.

{2} The last sheet, which begins here, is marked “Keep Carefully only Copy.” and there is a cross in the margin alongside the paragraph about the village of Usilempatti. At the foot of the preceding sheet is written, ‘Note last Page taken by FWPL to Edinburgh 22/2/45 EK.’

† Sic.

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