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Harrison, Agatha Mary (1885–1954), industrial welfare reformer and unofficial diplomat
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Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—The Cabinet mission are about to remove to Willingdon Crescent, where life will be less formal. They had a large press conference last night.

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Transcript

The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
Mch 25. 46

My dear.

I am now nearing the end of the second day here & tomorrow we are migrating to our private residence in Willingdon Crescent. Though everyone has been more than kind here I shall not be sorry to shake off the excessive formality & ceremony. At lunch & dinner there are as many servants in gorgeous red livery as there are diners. When the Viceroy & his wife walk into dinner his own sister & his daughter have to curtsey to them. There are some 250 gardeners in the garden, & the house is I think actually larger than Buckingham Palace. Of course my “bearer” will go on with me to the house. He is a very charming person & I submit gracefully to his ministrations which include putting on me nearly all my clothes but he does not insist on seeing me into bed at night!

I am exceedingly well & have recovered from the slight liver-sluggishness from having no exercise whatever during the last 2½ days of my flight.

One of the guests here is General Wauchope who was High Commissioner in Palestine & had us several times to dine with him when we were there. He asked specially after you whom he said he had so much enjoyed meeting, & wished me to remember him to you.

Enclosed is for Lydia.

If I am not able to write any more before the post goes I will just take this moment to send you my very dear love

Boy

I have already had two letters from EK {1}.

[Added later:]

I feel I have done much less than justice to the gorgeousness of the garden. Great shrubs of ? Petria {2} with blue flowers the colour of Ceanotus & nearly the shape of Wisteria, other shrubs of red Bougainvillée & trees with lovely coloured flowers, vast masses of stocks[,] roses etc.

Everything is on an immense scale. We had a press conference last night attended by some 200–250 press men & after reading a long agreed statemt, I had to answer some 50 questions. Everyone thinks it went very well & tht we did nt depart from a balanced presentation.

Alexander & Cripps are most delightful colleagues, and the V with his paucity of words is helpful & friendly.

I havent seen Agatha {3} yet but I think we shall have more opportunities for social intercourse when we move to our own abode. I suppose the temperature is between 80 & 90 but as it is very dry I have not experienced the slightest discomfort—only a pleasant pervading warmth.

I do so hope you are well & happy & have fairly decent weather.

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} Esther Knowles.

{2} Probably Petrea volubilis, purple wreath.

{3} Agatha Harrison.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

2 Willingdon Crescent, New Delhi.—The Cabinet mission have met with the Executive Council, the Viceroy, and the Provincial Governors. Discussions proper begin next week, but Gandhi has been invited for a preliminary chat. Has engaged to dine with Agatha Harrison and Mrs Naidu.

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Transcript

2 Willingdon Crescent {1}
Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi

Mch 28. 46

My dear.

Since I wrote to you last my days have been more & more crowded up with engagements & I have had very little time to myself. We have been getting down to the main task of the mission & there is very little to tell you except wht has probably appeared in the British Press. We saw the V’s Executive Council on Tuesday {2} and after several talks with the V himself we saw the Provincial Governors for 4 hours this afternoon & are to see them again for 2 or 3 hours tomorrow morning {3}. Next week we are to start on the “discussions” proper on Monday {4} & they will continue for a fortnight. Among our visitors will be Gandhi {5} & I have invited him to come to this house for a previous chat a day or two before the formal interview.

The cool spell which we struck in Delhi has passed & we are now experiencing the normal weather of the year rising from about 80º to 90º. This is by no means unbearable but we are threatened with a further rise of 20º to 30º later on. It is all dry heat which is a great mercy.

I have taken to having a walk before breakfast about 7.30 to 8. Then to walk to my office through the V’s garden (about 10 min). I dont walk again till evening & then only if I have time.

I am looking forward to having a letter from you soon. I think you will probably find tht sending to the India Office as EK {6} does is better for I have already had several letters from her.

We have Agatha Harrison coming to dinner to night & tomorrow Mrs Sarojini Naidu. Saturday is a day with no engagements fixed at present & Sunday I am hoping Gandhi will be able to come at 7. PM.

Dear old Sweetheart I hope you are enjoying your dear self. It will be a great delight to come back to you but tht is a long way off yet.

Your own precious love
Boy.

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘wht’ for ‘what’.

{1} This line of the address is handwritten.

{2} 26 March.

{3} Notes of these meetings are printed in The Transfer of Power, vol. vii (Nos. 6, 7, 14, 17, and 20).

{4} 1 April.

{5} Gandhi’s name is written in large letters.

{6} Esther Knowles.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Reflects on the colourfulness of Indian life. The mission are awaiting the results of their statement, and he has made his broadcast and addressed the press.—(Later.) Jinnah threatens not to answer for three or four weeks, but others have made encouraging signs.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
May 18. 46

My own very dear Beloved.

I have had to say to myself tht it is no good letting my heart or my head be obsessed with the idea tht I want to be home for 26th May. I came out here to do a certain job & I have just got to stay till it’s finished; & that’s that. As soon as it is finished I shall come home as fast as I can, you may be sure, to be with my old love again, & the day I come back & see you whatever it be according to the calendar will be our 26th May—our 45th anniversary!

I am so delighted to hear in your letters of how full your days have been with pleasurable activity. It is music in my ears; for I do so love to know tht you are enjoying yourself.

As for me my life here is full of colour & experience. Colour on the physical plane. The powerful sun, the flaming trees, the flashing birds, the darting chipmunks & lizards. The trees are red (Gold Mahar), gold (Cassia Sistilla) & apple-blossom tinted (Cassia Nodosa). Colourful personalities Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Wavell[,] to say nothing of people like Meliscent Shepherd, Mrs Naidu, Agatha Harrison & our own delegations & the secretaries.

So far in all the “changing vicissitudes of this mortal life” I have been upheld to keep my balance & my health. I eat well, digest well, sleep well & remain unfretted, remembering as Maud {1} said in Kashmir tht it is nt I that am doing it but He.

So my beloved I am patient & I am sure you will be also to await the day of our recession when it comes in His good will. I do not think it will be so very long before the work is finished here but it is still quite impossible to say.

Our D-day has come & gone, & we are awaiting its result. Our message {2} has not so far evoked any violent antagonism. I have made my broadcast {3}[,] addressed my press conference, met individual editors & so far it has been sunny weather. All this may be dashed at any minute but let us at any rate bask in the sunshine while it lasts!

Evening. As I anticipated, some clouds have darkened the sun & Jinnah threatens not to give us an answer for 3 or 4 weeks! {4} I really don’t know what to make of it. But there are still many encouraging signs. Brailsford, Sapru & many others have sent us delightfully enthusiastic congratulations. At the moment it looks as if Congress will come in. I see Lord Samuel spoke some very kind words about me in the H of Lords on Thursday May 16. I hope you got a copy.

And so my darling, my true heart, my beloved, my dear Wife I send you my love & blessing for May 26.

Your very own loving Boy.

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There are a number of characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} Maud Coote.

{2} The statement by the Cabinet Delegation and the Viceroy, published on the 16th. See Transfer of Power, vol. vii, No. 303.

{3} Transfer of Power, vol., vii, No. 303.

{4} See Transfer of Power, vol., vii, No. 322. The word ‘weeks’ is underlined three times.

Extracts from letters from Rajkumari Amrit Kaur to Carl Heath and Agatha Harrison

(To Carl Heath:) Gandhi is distressed by the proposed division of India, but is determined to make the operation as free from bitterness as possible.

(To Agatha Harrison:) Gandhi has not been able to persuade Jinnah to discuss the question of frontiers with the Congress Ministry, in order to avoid a referendum. He may go to Kashmir. ‘Otherwise Bihar and Noakhali hold his heart and mind.’

(Carbon copy of typed extracts.)