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Lawrence, Emmeline Pethick- (1867–1954), suffragette, wife of the 1st Baron Pethick-Lawrence Imagen Con objetos digitales
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Letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Brixton Prison.—Was glad to hear how she is. Refers to his own situation and activities. Supports her idea of conducting her own defence, and agrees that she should consult Lutyens about the rose garden.

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Transcript

Brixton Prison
8th March 1912

Dearest

I was glad to have your letter telling me how you were getting on. I was sorry to hear that you were all alone but at least you have the dear Sun for company. Our cell numbers as you see are not very different & our direction must be the same for the moon also came in at my window on Thursday morning {1}, but whether it came in this morning or not I do not know—for I was asleep. As you prophesied the second night was a very good one—& the old complaint has disappeared.

I went to chapel for the first time this morning & found it very stimulating; what a wonderful feeling of comradeship one has “with all the other sinners”. I do not think that if the carrot of the story were held out to us we should want to shake them loose like the old woman did in the fable.

I do not see any reason why you should not conduct your own defence, there are certain things which you can say far better than anyone else. This applies to the trial, assuming we are committed, and probably not to the police court proceedings; however we can discuss this when we meet.
I should certainly ask Lutyens to come and see you to discuss the rose garden—he ought to get on to it at once if the place is not to be cut up a second time.

I have hosts of books but I do not seem to have so very much time for reading; I have a visitor coming to see me every day—it was first rate to see Mort yesterday.

It is raining now so I do not know whether I shall be able to get any exercise this afternoon, but I have already had the better part of an hour this morning as I am allowed two a day.

When Aeneas was at Carthage & he & his comrades were having a distinctly odd time one of the party gave vent to the following remark “Haec olim meminisse juvabit” we shall have pleasure in looking back on this some day! Does not that rather describe our position?

All good luck to you

Your loving
Husband

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At the head is printed, ‘In replying to this letter, please write on the envelope:— Number 3408 Name Lawrence F. P.’, the name and number being filled in by hand. The word ‘Prison’ of the address and the first two digits of the year are also printed, and the letter is marked with the reference ‘C1/12’ and some initials. Strokes of letters omitted either deliberately or in haste have been supplied silently.

{1} 7th.

Letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Brixton Prison.—Is glad to hear she is getting on well. Duval and Evelyn Sharp have visited, and he has started learning Italian. Looks forward to seeing her on Thursday.

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Transcript

Brixton Prison
9th March 1912

Dearest

Thank you for sending me news that you are getting on all right, I hope by this time you have had your letters, this is the third I have written to you {1}. I am very well indeed & feel sure when you see me on Thursday you will think so too. I had a very pleasant visit from Duval yesterday aft[er]noon and from Evelyn Sharp this morning.

I have just started learning Italian, I have not got far enough yet to be able to say how I like it. I thought when I came here I should get through an immense mass of reading, but somehow there are so many things which take up time, that I do very little & of that a good deal goes in reading the newspapers.

We had a hymn practice this morning in chapel which I thought was good; some of the hymns & tunes were inspiring & refreshing.

I had my second exercise indoors yesterday afternoon as it was wet but today is lovely and I expect we shall get both outside.

It will be jolly to see you on Thursday {2} but mind! you have got to look as well as I do!

your loving
Husband.

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At the head is printed, ‘In replying to this letter, please write on the enve-lope:— Number 3408 Name Lawrence F. P.’, the name and number being filled in by hand. The word ‘Prison’ of the address and the first two digits of the year are also printed, and the letter is marked with the reference ‘C1/12’ and some initials. Strokes of letters omitted either deliber-ately or in haste have been supplied silently.

{1} Only one of the previous letters (PETH 6/110) has survived.

{2} 14th.

Letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Brixton Prison.—Is glad to hear she is well. His Italian is progressing, and he has been attending chapel. Evelyn Sharp, Mary Neal, and Sayers have visited, and his sister Annie has written.

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Transcript

Brixton Prison
11th March 1912

Dearest

I was delighted to get your letter and to learn from it that things are going well with you and that you have come across some of the others—you will not now feel at all alone. Also you need not have the smallest anxiety about me as I am very well[,] have plenty to do and get regular exercise & have not a trace left of indigestion. I started learning Italian on Saturday {1} and have already made a good deal of progress; I find it very easy, in view of French and Latin, and also very fascinating; when I know a little more I shall start on Dante.

I had two visitors on Saturday as in addition to Miss Evelyn Sharp, the Govenor† kindly allowed me to see Mary Neal who was on her way to Holmwood & wanted instructions. It was a great pleasure to see them both. Sayers came to day & I quite cheered him up—he has promised to send me a book I have not yet read—I forget its name. I have also had a letter from my sister Annie & I shall send her a reply soon. It will not be long after you get this that we shall meet—that will be good will it not though the place will be not one that we would naturally choose! Also we shall see those two other dear people—I hope they will be better than they were last Wednesday {2}.

I went to Chapel twice yesterday—there was some very hearty singing, I have not missed any day except the first.

Your loving
Husband

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At the head is printed, ‘In replying to this letter, please write on the envelope:— Number 3408 Name Lawrence F. P.’, the name and number being filled in by hand. The word ‘Prison’ of the address and the first two digits of the year are also printed, and the letter is marked with the reference ‘C1/12’ and some initials. Strokes of letters omitted either deliberately or in haste have been supplied silently.

{1} 9th.

{2} 6th.

† Sic.

Letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Brixton Prison.—Refers to their meeting (at Bow Street) yesterday. Has had some exercise, despite the rain. Hetty Lawes and George Fox have written and Shepherd has visited. Refers to reports in the newspapers.

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Transcript

Brixton Prison
15th March 1912

Dearest

It was indeed good to see you yesterday & find you looking so well. By the time I got back here & had had a meal it was nearly time for bed—I expect you found the same.

Today has been what would be called a “nice soft day”; but in spite of the drizzle we man-aged to get our excercise† out of doors morning & afternoon—& in the morning as I was coming down one side of the yard I heard the song of a lark & looking up I spied him in the sky high up; I kept him in sight while I walked down that side & the next angle but had to lose him when I turned & I think he came down then for his song ceased also. I should hardly have expected a lark’s song in such a place!

I had not time to tell you yesterday that I had such a dear letter from Hetty Lawes & she sent me the little flowers that I took up to court with me, the violets smelt so sweet.

Shepherd came this afternoon & I think I cheered him up a bit; poor old fellow I think it has troubled him a lot more than it has us.

I have also had a letter from George Fox—he wrote to Holloway (thinking I was there!) as the letter has been forwarded on from there. It all makes one realise what very nice friends one has.

I have been looking at today’s papers; as usual the Daily Telegraph has the best account being really very accurate & full; the Times & the Standard are both fairly good.

It seems to me that we shall for some time to come look forward to these little weekly journeys up to Bow Street as our “day out”!

Your loving
Husband.

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One folded sheet. At the head is printed, ‘In replying to this letter, please write on the envelope:— Number 3408 Name Lawrence F P’, the name and number being filled in by hand. The word ‘Prison’ of the address and the first two digits of the year are also printed, and the letter is marked with the reference ‘C1/12’ and some initials. Strokes of letters omitted either deliberately or in haste have been supplied silently.

Letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Brixton Prison.—Encourages her with reflections on the ability of the human spirit to transcend material circumstances. Refers to his study of French and Italian, and his other reading, and describes a method of counting on the fingers.

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Transcript

Brixton Prison
19th June 1912

Dearest

How delightful it is to think that this actual paper will be carried to you & that I shall get a reply written by yourself! I have sent you in my thoughts many messages of love which I feel confident have reached you, just as yours have reached me bringing their rich benison with them; But the actual written word gives tangible shape & contact & certainty.

I have not been in any way anxious about you, & equally you have I am sure not been anxious about me. You know that the one thing, which alone always seems worth while to me, is that the human spirit should transcend the whole of the material world; & therefore you do not need to be told that not in the very smallest degree have I been dismayed or discouraged by my environment. Dearest, here in the stillness—that is, to me, essentially the stillness of earth life—I am conscious only of the great spiritual tie which binds us together & binds us to the great Power which guides us. These are days when one drinks of the deep wells of life & because the draft is pure & crystal it refreshes & invigorates far beyond any draft of ordinary daily life. Or again it is as though the noisy overtones which make the chords & discords of the work-a-day world were hushed, & the fundamental notes were heard alone in all their simple grandeur. Or again it seems to me as though of the beauty, which is in the outer world & which our senses detect, the spirit itself had become perceptible to our souls direct.

One of my great joys is to watch the sunlight in the evening on the walls of my cell; some-times the nights are dull & then I miss it, but more often the last hours are bright. It sinks below a house close by about a quarter past seven and is then shut off from sight; each evening the last rays go a little further on the wall than the evening before, but we are coming soon (next Friday) to the longest day & after that it will begin to go back again.

Now you will want to know all I have been reading; First let me say it is surprising how little time I seem to have though I scarcely miss a minute of the day. Nevertheless I have read a larger number of books since I came in. I haven’t made so very much progress in Italian so I daresay you will nearly have caught up to where I am reckoning in what I did before. In the Berlitz Book, which I think you have got also, I have got to page 50. For the last few days I have laid it aside for a study of French which has caught my fancy, but I shall come back to it again in a little while & then I shall probably go on until I finish the book. I have been fascinated with Trevelyans† story of the siege of Rome {1}. It is really the volume preceding the one on Garabaldi’s† Thousand, & it is in my judgment a good deal the finer of the two. Have you read it? I cannot remember. Then I have read over again the story of the Thousand & hope shortly to read the third volume which I understand is now out. I have also got Crispi’s account of the same events {2} but have not read it yet. I have also read a book on radium, & one on Faraday which have inter-ested me very much. During the last week I have been wrestling with Green’s history of England {3} & with a very ponderous life of Henry Newman {4} which though good is very heavy to di-gest. A great soul was Newman, but somehow I can’t help feeling that he lost his way; perhaps a wider understanding might make one see it differently. In addition to other things I have also read a good deal of lighter literature including Pecheur d Island† {5} which I think delightful & two books by Mark Twain—Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn—which Annie gave me. You should get May to send them to you[;] they are full of delicious humour.

May has been very good to me, so thoughtful & kind, sending me everything I could possibly want.

I think you will be amused to know that once when I was taking exercise by walking up & down my cell, I started counting my walks on my fingers & arrived at the following:—it is of course said that on the fingers of the two hands one can count from one up to ten, but that is only by reckoning each finger of each hand to count one only; if the fingers of the left hand are allowed to have a different value from the fingers of the right, one can count all the way from one up to 35 (that is six times six less one), & if the thumbs of each hand are also allowed to count differently from the fingers, then one can count all the way from 1 up to 99. One may even go further but if I do so you will say I am becoming like I was on the top of the omnibus on that famous occasion! Anyhow I don’t think you will mind this little digression. Perhaps you will be able to work it out yourself!

Dearest how close we have been together all this month for all the physical barriers that have been between us. I have treasured your beautiful words about Whit Sunday in my heart & they have been a great joy to me. I have thought very much about you and shall be thinking of you so in the next few days, but they will not be thoughts of anxiety but of confidence & assurance. You well know that my spirit is behind yours sustaining you in all that you do, & I know & have the certainty that your spirit is behind mine; & so together we are very strong.

Dearest the sun is shining brilliantly, it is a gorgeous & magnificent day! I am full of radiant life.

My very great love to you

Your husband.

P.S Your dear delightful letter has just come; you seem to have been able to write a day earlier than me. I have read it through with such pleasure & shall read it and reread it many times; but I am so anxious to get this off without any delay so that you may have it soon. Blessings on you for all your dear words. Ever thine

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One folded sheet. At the head is printed, ‘In replying to this letter, please write on the envelope:— Number 7294 Name Lawrence F W. P.’, the name and number being filled in by hand. The word ‘Prison’ of the address and the first two digits of the year are also printed, and the letter is marked with the reference ‘C1/12’ and some initials. Strokes of letters omitted either deliberately or in haste have been supplied silently.

{1} Garibaldi’s Defence of the Roman Republic, by George Macaulay Trevelyan (1907), the first book of a trilogy which also comprised Garibaldi and the Thousand (1909), and Garibaldi and the Making of Italy (1911).

{2} Probably The Memoirs of Francesco Crispi (2 vols., 1912).

{3} A Short History of the English People, by J. R. Green, first published in 1874, or perhaps his expanded History of the English People (4 vols., 1878–80).

{4} The Life of John Henry, Cardinal Newman, by Wilfrid Ward (2 vols., 1912).

{5} Pêcheur d’Islande (An Iceland Fisherman), by Pierre Loti (1886).

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