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

[Folkestone.]—Expresses his love for her, after a day of restful pleasure.

[In the train from Folkestone to Dover.] The weather prevented them from walking to to St Margaret’s Bay, so they walked to Dover instead. ‘We have been wonderfully good in keeping off the suffrage, but I made a few plans this morning.’

(Letter-head of 87 Clement’s Inn, W.C.)

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

Holloway Prison.—Discusses business relating to properties and investments, and refers to a forthcoming Exhibition.

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Transcript

Holloway Prison
March 4th 1909 {1}

My dear Husband.

I knew that there would be many matters of private business you would want to discuss with me & that if possible you would obtain a permit for an interview so that we could discuss them verbally which is of course the only satisfactory way. Since however that is not possible, I am glad to be able to tell you what I wish about the one or two matters which you mention. As regards “The Bungalow” property. The tenant you tell me leaves when the lease runs out. That is this month I believe. You say he has friends who will take it on at a lower rental. But I am not inclined to lower the rent, at any rate for the present. This is a good time of the year for letting such a property. And I do not think there will be any difficulty in finding tenants. I do not wish to sell in any case. You know I have always considered that we do well to hold that land. Being so near to London, it is bound to go up in value.

“The Mascot.” If you are renovating or decorating, the colour which I should wish to predominate is the blue that is the real dutch blue. You have a sample of it in the almanak† that hangs over my little desk in the Mascot dining room. I know you will superintend what is necessary in the garden. Rapley knows a great deal about the work & my wishes with regard it. I know how perfect & how beautiful everything will be. My special joy is in those May tulips. Some beautiful flowers were brought into the ward this morning—daffodils & some double golden tulips. Though no one told me where they came from, my heart told me. Flowers are a great joy to those who are here. So is music. Every afternoon when I am out at exercise I hear music. A Band in the street plays well known airs.

With regard to “The Sundial”. This house is let until the end of May. Will you write to the George Foxes & ask if they want it for June, or if not whether I shall reserve any other time of the year for them. From middle of July to end of August, it is let to the Esperance Club. I have not seen the books which you have presented to the Library. But no doubt I shall do so in good time. I have Shakespeare & other literature. I have not been at all dull. The week has gone quickly. I sleep like a baby—& feel that I haven’t a care or worry in the world. No news comes from the outside world. But I know perfectly well that everything is happening as I should wish. I have absolute confidence that all is well. No newspapers, not even our own could tell me more surely. You say hard work suits you. Well, a quiet life with domestic occupations seems to suit me, for I too feel very well & mean to come back thoroughly rested & fit for work. I hope you will fill up my dates for beginning of May. I shall not entangle myself with the machinery until after the Exhibition. Lady Connie will go to Annie in Bristol before Easter but do not make any other engagement out of London for her. Lady Connie should open the Exhibition on one of the three days. If this commends itself to you you can proceed to arrange it without delay. I am sure it would be the right & appropriate thing.

Dont you think it strange that out of over fifty people charged with the same offence, I am the only one to get sentence of two months. Two or three have been arrested twice before for the same offence. & Mrs Despard the leader of another deputation was sentenced to a month only. Why this divergence? I should like it explained.

I have had a letter from Mort about the business of the investments in trust for me under my Father’s will & estate. He says that he is inclined to sell the Columbian National Railways. There has been a considerable rise lately, he says, but he is not impressed with the stability of the investment. I told him I should like to see him & my brother Tom about this & various other matters, but if that would cause delay in this particular case, he can refer to you & if you think well he can sell. He also mentioned important developments in the Gazette. Have I not a legal right to see our family solicitor & trustee to transact private family business? This right should be claimed if it is a right.

Our financial report & balance sheet should receive my signature. Will you ask if the M.S. or proof can be sent to me to sign. If this is not granted, the explanation should be given in the Report, of the reason it goes out to the world without the signature of the Treasurer.

Now Goodbye. And “God bless us all—every one”[.] There is every reason why joy & love & infinite thanks should fill all our hearts. To me, this is a time of expectancy, of happy waiting for the spring. The bursting of new life & beauty—the eternal miracle & revelation. Just as the earth keeps already the joy of a great secret, so I keep already the promise of the future & hold its festival in my heart. My thoughts go to you all, & yours,—the thoughts of you all—come to me full of blessing. Special love to my Mother & to Aunt Ellen, who—

Your
Emmeline Pethick Lawrence

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The letter is written on a printed form. Other handwritten details on the sheet include the number (2141) and name of the prisoner, and some pencil notes in Fred Pethick-Lawrence’s hand.

{1} ‘Prison’ and ‘190’ are printed.

† Sic.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to the Women’s Social and Political Union, with a postscript to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Holloway Prison.—Is encouraged by news of their fund-raising and by the progress of the paper (Votes for Women). Urges them to make a success of the Albert Hall Demonstration and to wear the Union’s colours at all times.

(Written on a printed form. A piece of paper has been pasted over the postscript. Cf. 7/166.)

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Transcript

Holloway Prison. March 26th 1909.

My dear Friends, & Fellow Members of our beloved Union.

I send you greeting & love. I am with you constantly in thought & spirit & desire. Very soon I shall be with you in the flesh. I have felt & I still feel the support of your thoughts & good wishes. You must know that I have not seen a newspaper since I came here. I am very ignorant as to how the world is wagging. In Holloway “nobody knows nothing” so it would be quite useless to ask questions. Knowing nothing can be carried to a fine art. But across the night of oblivion glorious flashes of good tidings have come to me. One was the Report sent for my signature. Great was my satisfaction to know that we had raised the whole £20,000 during the year. That we should be very near to our mark, I felt sure, before I came here, but “Oh the little more, & how much it is; The little less, & what worlds away.” {1} In our Union we pride ourselves on attaining our standards! Another great joy to the heart of your Treasurer was to hear the sum raised in donations & promises during Self Denial Week. Eight thousand pounds is a good start at the beginning of the new financial year towards the fifty thousands we mean to realize unless we get the vote before the end of next February. I seem to hear some of you gasp “Fifty thousand pounds”! I will tell you how it is to be raised. We have proved, have we not, that we ourselves are good for £20,000? We gave our utmost last year, we shall go on giving our utmost. The remaining £30,000 has to come from a public not yet touched. And what we have to do without a moments delay, every one of us, is to go about everywhere preaching the gospel of Votes for Women & bringing as many people as we can into the Movement. Especially must new people be brought by all our members to our great Meetings. And now I come to the main point of this letter which I write to you from my prison cell. I have a great great wish. And if I tell it to you, I know that you will fulfil it. I want the Albert Hall Demonstration on April 29th to be the greatest success, the most magnificent triumph that our Agitation has ever yet achieved. I beg every member in London to make the success of this Meeting her individual responsibility & to concentrate from now all her energies upon it. Take the tickets & sell them to friends. Let each one be responsible for a certain number & for their value in cash. If you cannot sell them all in the usual way, persuade some wealthy friend to purchase tickets which can be given to those who cannot afford to buy for themselves. But make up your mind that you will dispose of 6, 10, 20 or 50 tickets, as the case may be. The occasion is a particularly significant one. Women suffragists from every civilized country in the world wil be representing their respective organizations, at the International Suffragist Congress in London. And this Albert Hall Meeting is to give them welcome in the name of the Women’s Social & Political Union. They have most cordially accepted our invitation to be present, & a certain number of seats have been reserved for them. It is also a Demonstration, in honour of all our members who have suffered imprisonment for the sake of women’s emancipation. They will come from the North & the South, the East & the West to the centre of reunion in the Albert Hall. They will wear their prison dress. Seats immediately behind the speakers will be reserved for them. Many interesting developments will be revealed as time goes on. It is to be a field day of the Militant Movement. I am allowed only one sheet of paper for this my one monthly letter. I would say more about this matter, but space forbids. Will you, dear women in this Union[,] read into my brief words all that my heart could wish.

I want to tell you how delighted I am that the Paper—our Paper {2}—is developing so rapidly. I hear it has reached 21,000 already. I hope it will reach 25,000 before I come back. That will be another joy. My Three Wishes! How splendidly they have been carried out. With all my heart I thank you all.

Oh to see our flag again! To salute the colours! My eyes yearn for them. I comfort myself with the thought that my prison dress is green, my prison cap is white. Would that my apron were purple. My library card is faintly purplish! But one lives on small things in Holloway. And how ones perceptions & appreciations are intensified. How one learns the meanings & the values of the ordinary blessings & beauties of life which one is so apt to take for granted. Colour, music, sun & stars & above all human friendship & social intercourse. Wear the colours always, if not for your own sake, then for the sake of those who are in prison. I am convinced that wearing the colours is one of the best ways of attracting strangers to this Movement. Curiosity & interest once stimulated, you know how quickly the rest follows. A large number of the deputation who went to prison with me, were quite recent converts, who a few short weeks ago would have scouted the possibility of going to prison. Ours is such a wonderful Movement. Nothing seems too much to hope, too great to believe & expect. I must say Goodbye to you. When you read this letter of mine, there will be only two more weeks to pass before the joy of reunion is ours. Meanwhile, as I sit here in my prison cell, I know that in the world outside, it is Spring time. Life is pushing its way through the clods. Life is rising like a tide through stem & branch, soon to overflow & bring a flood of beauty over the face of the world. Yes & there is a stirring of new life in the heart of the human race & especially in the heart of the world’s womanhood. I feel it in our Movement, I see the blossoming of new hope, new faith, new love, new courage, new energy. I know that in the cycle of the world’s life, a new Spring is coming[,] has indeed come. This knowledge is my great joy. It is the joy which we all share & which none can take from us. We will give body & soul & all that we have to minister to this new life. We will accomplish the purpose to which we have been called. Yours in the strong bond of fellowship which unites us all in this Movement.

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence.

[A piece of paper has been pasted over the following postscript, the text of which was copied out onto another sheet (PETH 7/166):]

Dear Husband. Truly there is some great power of love working for us. Dear Marie’s visit was quite wonderful. For the first time I really felt a bit strained today. The sight of Marie broke the tension & I am quite right now. I almost felt as though the dear dear Daddy {3} sent her. He said his spirit would be with me. Can we doubt that all will be well always? Can Chris as well as Freda ride with me on the 17th. I should love to have them both. Marie tells me how Chris has felt it. Give my love to all my dear circle of relations & friends. My heart’s love to you dearest.

E. P. L.

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The letter is written on a printed form. The details entered by hand include, besides what is printed above, the prisoner’s number (2141) and name, and a reference number. There are a few later annotations, which were evidently made in the process of preparing the text for printing.

{1} A quotation from Browning’s poem ‘By the Fire-Side’, varied slightly.

{2} Votes for Women, launched in February 1907.

{3} Mark Guy Pearse.

Statement by Lady Constance Lytton, following her arrest for breaking windows

Pleads not guilty, and explains her reasons for having broken windows.

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Transcript

(I plead not guilty). I broke the glass of windows as the witness has said, because I realise that this is the only effective protest left to us by a Govt which boasts of its Liberalism, of its representative character, where men are concerned, but ignores the most elementary laws of Liberalism, of Constitutionalism, where women are concerned. Votes and riot are the only forms of pressure to which the present Govt respond. They refuse us votes: we are therefore reduced to riot. The wrongs they inflict on women are no longer tolerable, & we will no longer tolerate them.

I expect, Sir, that at this stage of our agitation, you will recognise—and public opinion will back you in recognising—that, tho having committed the acts, as brought forward by witnesses, we are not guilty of crime, our conduct being fully justified under the circumstances.

I appeal to you to vindicate the fundamental laws of liberty which our country has revered for generations.

I plead not guilty.

Constance Lytton.
Nov. 22. 1911.

Letter from Hugh Cecil to Lady Constance Lytton

23 Bruton Street, W.—In Mrs Pethick-Lawrence’s case the proper course would probably be to move the King’s Bench on the ground of informality in the proceedings rather than to ask a question in Parliament.

Extracts from a letter from L. V. (?) Barrett to Lady Betty Balfour

6 De Vesci Terrace, Kingstown, Co. Dublin.—Explains why she urged Lady Constance Lytton to oppose militant action by suffragettes.

(Marked ‘Copy’ and ‘Extracts’. Annotated by the recipient. The initials of the signature are transcribed as ‘L. V.’, but query whether the writer was Rosa Mary Barrett.)

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Transcript

COPY
Extracts.

6, De Vesci Terrace | Kingstown Co. Dublin. Jan 13. 1912

(From a Snobby suffragist: the pencil comments are Betty’s)

Dear Lady Betty Balfour,

I had today a long letter from your sister Lady Constance, it was most kind of her to write & I fear I hurt her feelings by asking her to use her influence at this critical moment in the cause of the suffrage, by discountenancing such scenes as at the City Temple or raids on shops in the Strand etc. I know what damage to the cause has been done by these things, & as one who has worked & fought for women’s suffrage for 30 years {1} I feel the greatest discretion & wise counsel is now necessary. I have such an intense admiration for yr sister & her heroism {2} that it pains me to differ from her. Of course I may be wrong but men do feel very differently to women on this action of the Women’s Social & Pol. Union

Yrs v. sincerely
L. V. Barrett {3}

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{1} Interlined in pencil: ‘greatest justification of militancy I have said’.

{2} Interlined in pencil: ‘I sd Why for her & not all the militants’.

{3} The closing salutation and name are at the head of the sheet.

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.—Nance has visited and Uncle Edwin has sent a goodwill message. Has been thinking about his defence and reading The Solitary Summer.

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Transcript

Brixton Prison
12th March 1912

Dearest

Just a word in pleasant anticipation of seeing you on Thursday. I had a delightful visit from Nance this afternoon and am looking forward to seeing May tomorrow. How very good everyone is to us!

I have been busy today looking into the question of my defence but of course there is not very much one can do until we hear what the other side have got to say.

I think I told you I had had a letter from my sister Annie, I have also received a message of goodwill from my uncle Edwin[.] I am going to write to him tomorrow.

The book Sayers has sent me is “The Solitary Summer” which is very good reading—I have only read before “Elizabeth and her German Garden” {1}.

I expect you see the Times, there is a capital letter today from Annie Besant.

Your own loving
Husband

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One folded sheet. 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 deliberately or in haste have been supplied silently.

{1} A popular semi-autobiographical novel by Elizabeth von Arnim, first published in 1898. The Solitary Summer, a companion piece, was published the following year.

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.—Looks forward to seeing her on Thursday, and reflects on the privilege of playing a part in the present struggle (the suffrage movement). Refers to his visitors and his activities, and discusses Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico.

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Transcript

Brixton Prison
19 March 1912

Dearest

It is very good to know that I shall see you again on Thursday & in the meantime I have the confidence that you are well & content. I feel very deeply how great is our privelege† that we are able to play our part in this great struggle fraught with so much hope & blessing for the human race.

I had a visit from Rev Hugh Chapman this morning; he gave me a number of ideas which I prize; he is also going to send me a book by Lecky wh† he says he knows I shall like.

I have just finished reading Prescott’s “Conquest of Mexico”—what a wonderful story it is! Though all the tales of bloodshed & barbarity are rather horrid reading, it is wonderful to realise that Cortes landing in Mexico with a total army of about 400 or 500 men suceeded† in winning battle after battle & ultimately entering the capital itself without any reinforcements. And that his final conquest of the whole country was acheived† with only two or three times this number of Spaniards. He was opposed not only by the Indians but by his own countrymen & had disaffection to face inside his own ranks as well.

Brother Jack {1} came to see me yesterday & brought me a little book on Bergson’s philosophy; I have been wanting some time to read about this.

Tomorrow I am to have another visit from Mort.

Owing to the wet weather we have had to have a lot of our exercise inside lately, but the wing is large & there is a good deal of room for a walk; but this afternoon we have had a lovely walk in the sunshine outside. I keep pegging away with my Italian & hope really to have learnt a lot before I come out, I am also starting to get a more thorough grip of French.

With dear love

Ever Your own
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 F. P. Lawrence’, 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} John Herbert Greenhalgh.

† Sic.

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