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Lawrence, Helen Millar Pethick- (1888–1969), suffragette, wife of 1st Baron Pethick-Lawrence Imagem Com objeto digital
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Letter from Sylvia Pankhurst to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

P.O. Box 1896, Addis Ababa.—Sends good wishes on his marriage, and criticises various aspects of British foreign policy.

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Transcript

Post Box 1896 | Addis Ababa
13 February 1957

Dear Fred,

Your news had reached me by a press cutting forwarded by Mrs Tims from England. But I did not recognise Helen Craggs under her married name until I received your letter. I knew her and she will remember me.

I feel sure you will both be very happy though I have not seen her since about 1910. I hope you will keep well for a long time and be able to enjoy life.

In your previous letter you mentioned the international situation. It is a cause of great anxiety and difficulty here. The Suez situation will reduce Ethiopia’s export of coffee to New York—a very important market for her[—]and also doubtless to England and other parts of Europe, giving an advantage to Brazil. That coffee is not so good as Ethiopian, but price counts and the journey round the Cape will increase transport costs. I think the general feeling here is that though Israel was in danger from Egypt the United Nations ought to have been appealed to for action to preserve the peace and that unilateral action by Britain and France was totally out of order.

At the same time Egypt is feared here. The Egyptians have for a long time been broadcasting against Ethiopia in the Ethiopian languages. Her existence as a Christian state in the Islamic Middle East is resented. You know that in the nineteenth century Egypt repeatedly invaded Ethiopia—and though defeated in two great battles, she occupied Ethiopian territory for some time. The history of Ethiopia, since the sixteenth century, has been one of difficulty owing to the seizure of her Red Sea Coast by Turkey and its subsequent occupation by Egypt as Turkey’s vassal.

Trade with Israel particularly in meat is now hopeful and recalls the ancient trade between the two countries before the Islamic seizure of the Red Sea Coast. Therefore it is natural on all these accounts that there is a certain amount of sympathy for Israel, coupled with anxiety concerning the future actions of Nasser.

The British Foreign Office are playing an unfortunate game in attempting to rouse Somali unrest against the Ethiopian Government but actually they only influence the British Somaliland Protectorate to any degree.
Furlonge, the new British Ambassador here, has been to the Protectorate to address the so-called “Somali United Front”. British policy toward the Ogaden, the Reserved Area and Somaliland generally since 1941 has been a bad mistake.

I sometimes see the Greek Archbishop of Aksum. He is always very friendly, for I expressed to him, as soon as I saw him, that I am grieved about the policy of the present British Government in Cyprus. He is a stately and majestic old man. He told me our Government is “mad” to act so in Cyprus, and expressed sorrow that the traditional Anglo-Greek friendship is destroyed. He said the worst thing our Government has done is to revive the ancient Turko-Greek enmity. Eden is much blamed for this.

I met the other day an American representative of the World Council of Churches, who said he was in Constantinople at the time of the Turkish anti-Greek riots. He said the Turks behaved with great brutality pulling out the beards of the Greek priests and destroying the works of art in their churches. He said it was believed in Constantinople that the British Foreign Office had encouraged the attack. He evidently thought so.

Britain has greatly lost caste with the Americans here, because of Suez and Cyprus, particularly the former. One very temperate steady type of American said the Suez business had cut the umbilical cord between Britain and U.S.A. Previously he said the best type of American considered Britain wiser and more experienced in foreign affairs than U.S.A., but now they regard her as a mere delinquent. That opinion may pass in the next political phase, but is seems fairly strong today among the Americans here.

British trade with this country is greatly handicapped by the poor representation of British firms by The Sabean Company, the Arabian Trading Company, Mitchell Cotts, Gellatly Hankey.

Boots, for example, is represented by the Sabean Company but when you go to the shop where the name Boots is displayed, you can get barely 3 or 4 Boot’s preparations. The shop is mainly stocked with German goods.

British motorcars are liked but the agents have no spare parts, so people buy German or Italian cars—the latter very unsatisfactory in wear.

Goods shipped from England are mainly consigned to Jibuti. Gellatly Hankey used to undertake to arrange transport by the railway to Addis Ababa and intermediate stations. They have now ceased to undertake this service.

Consequently this expanding market is largely closed to British goods by the inefficiency of the agents who have undertaken to deal with them. The manager of the main Ethiopian chemist’s told me when I enquired for one of Boot’s preparations that he has tried to stock them but Boots is “very badly represented by the Sabean Utility Corporation” and consequently he is able to obtain very few Boots preparations. Sabean was started in 1940 and has British[,] Egyptian and Ethiopian capital. It is under British management. Its office is incredibly neglected.

Well this is all a very dull letter, but in case the subject of trade with Ethiopia is raised you will have some light on certain aspects of it. One person connected with it calls himself Colonel Jay Pasha. He has just arrived from Egypt whence he had to flee[.] When I saw him I thought Pasha a bit out of date.

Best wishes and love from both of us. Will you ever come this way? We have a feast of glorious sunshine just now!

Sylvia

I have grateful memories of Helen from long ago.

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{1} The announcement of his forthcoming marriage to Helen McCombie.

Letter-card from E. M. Forster to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

King’s College, Cambridge.—Sends good wishes (on Pethick-Lawrence’s marriage).

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Transcript

King’s College, Cambridge

Thank you for sending me a card: this brings my kind remembrances and best wishes for your happiness.

E M Forster

Feb 18 1957

Letter from Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

India House.—The flu prevented her from conveying personally to the Pethick-Lawrences her brother (Nehru)’s invitation to India, but he will probably mention the matter himself when he comes to London in a few days’ time. Suggests arrangements for a meeting at India House.

Letter from R. C. Ghose to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Imperial Hotel, 121 Queen’s Gate, S.W.7.—Thanks the Pethick-Lawrences for their hospitality at the House of Lords (cf. 1/336) and asks about the other guests. Wishes to obtain tickets to see the House of Commons. Proposes to arrange a reception for the Pethick-Lawrences at Calcutta during their forthcoming visit to India.

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