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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.

Copy of a circular letter by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

(Carbon copy of a typed transcript, with two handwritten corrections.)

Transcript

COPY OF A LETTER RECEIVED FROM MRS LAWRENCE
Dated Nov. 4, 1914, 1. a.m.

Election Night.

Although it is one o’clock in the morning, I must try before I sleep to get down some of the impressions of the evening. Miss Doty, whose article in the Century interested me so deeply, and her friend “Elizabeth” (Miss Watson) celebrated the first anniversary of their voluntary imprisonment by dining with me and taking us afterwards to the night court. On the way to the Court we mixed with the Election crowd—The streets were thronged. It was a superb night, the moon just past the full. We reached the Court about 9.30 and were taken to the front place where we could see and hear well. A case was being heard concerning two coloured women—a mother and a daughter. Two detectives, a white man and a coloured man[,] gave evidence of how they had entrapped the younger woman to take into her home first one and the other—The story of detective which was one infinitely shocking {1}—and what I have heard since about this business impresses me still further both with the futility of the system and above all with the terrible power placed in the hands of men against women—a power likely to lead to the most grave abuses. Both mother and daughter poured out a dramatic volume of words and gesture as they sat just in front of the judge, addressing their remarks to him as one would address a man in his office or study—no formalities at all. With what seemed to me extraordinary patience, (after my experience of police courts at home) the judge listened without interruption or comment. Finally he discharged the two women. This action was entirely in accordance with the inner verdict which I had pronounced, (for of course every member in the auditorium has his or her own views on every case)[.] Had I been Judge I should not have hesitated between the two sides—the women excited, voluble, indignant, tearful—and the men whom I would not, I felt as I scanned their faces, have trusted a yard. The Judge then retired to his sanctum and invited us to follow. We were introduced and a conversation ensued. We touched on the case. The Judge I found did not altogether believe the story of the women and was inclined to think them guilty. “But”, he said, “you see in this Court I am both Judge and Jury, therefore I have to give the accused the benefit of every doubt.” When he resumed his seat upon the Bench, he asked me to sit beside him. At the opening of the next case he said to the woman who had been just arrested, {2} “You must understand that you have a right to obtain the services of a lawyer, you have a right to telephone for your friends or mail for them free of charge. You can have your case tried now, or you can have it postponed. But you may have to pass the interval in the detention cells.” The woman elected have her case tried at once. It was a very trivial affair of ringing a house-door bell and causing annoyance to a tenant of the house. The woman denied the wish to annoy and promised not to ring the bell again and was discharged.

Being Election night and the police apparently otherwise engaged, no further cases were forthcoming and the Court rose till midnight. Usually there are many cases of soliciting, which as at home is a penal office {3} for a woman but not for a man. I was told by my friends that women who had to pass through the streets alone at night were constantly pestered by men, but there was no remedy; they just had to put up with it. As in England the legal tradition is that men have to be protected from the temptation of the woman who who† alone is responsible for the social evil. After the Session was over we had another interesting talk with Judge Barlow, who I am told is the best and most fairminded of all the judges, at the Night Court (as in the case of Judge Hoyt) {4} I saw the brighter side of the administration. He invited me to come again on some more typical occasion and was most friendly, reminding me very much of Tim Healy. He wore just a blase† graduate’s gown. I was then taken over the place, introduced to the prison or native police-court Matron, and allowed to enter the cells and to talk to the inmates. The whole place compares very favourably with our police court arrangements. I have not yet seen a prison, but from Miss Doty’s record, the prison conditions seem to be worse than our own.

One great feature of the Court is the total elimination from it of the police. The one or two officers are civilians. This reform dates from 1910. Judge Barlow confessed that he was very much averse to the change at the time, but that its results have been wholly good. Detectives attend as witnesses, but have no privileged status, and are treated exactly as other witnesses, by the Judge. In spite of their good points I am, as I said before, horrified at the methods of the detectives in hunting out prostitutes. In some cases they will take a woman into a saloon and give her drinks for a week, and will tempt her in every way to invite them home. They will confess to letting the women get them supper, to playing cards with them and staying from 11 till 3 a.m. After all this is done they will suddenly turn and arrest them and drag them into court. They have these women entirely in their power, and men being men it is inconceivable that they do not take advantage of their power when it suits them. I would not trust such men, placed in such conditions, one inch. On matters relating to morality and the judicial treatment of sex problems, New York seems to me to be worse than London—though some details of administration are better. The point of view is worse. It seems to me that the women of New York, speaking generally, are much too complacent with regard to this status of their sex in very many respects. We came back and mixed with the crowd again—learnt that Governor Glyn (Democrat) was out and Whitman (Republican) was in, and wondered how this would affect the position of our women comrades Commissioner Doty and Investigator Watson, both holding appointments under State patronage. Could not get any news of Suffrage States, so returned as it was half an hour over midnight already. These two women know New York through and through. If only I could find time to let them take and educate me for a week as they want to do! Miss Watson knows everything there is to be known about women[’]s labour conditions and wages in New York. She is the recognised expert investigator par excellence, and employed on all enquiry commissions. The point of view of both these women is identical with my own[,] while their knowledge of facts is perfectly wonderful. They are completely human in their outlook. We are already great friends and have several plans to carry out together, if time can be found. Truly this is a most fascinating world and I’m learning hard.

Greeting to all friends.
(Signed) E.P.L.

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{1} Altered by hand ink from ‘The story of detective [blank] was to me infinitely shocking’. The copyist evidently had difficulty reading the handwriting here.

{2} Comma substituted for full stop.

{3} A slip for ‘offence’.

{4} ‘as … Hoyt’ interlined. Brackets supplied.

† Sic.

Letter from —— to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

The British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcasting House, London, W.1.—Invites him to prepare and deliver, on stated terms, a radio talk on ‘Lloyd George and other Prime Ministers’ for the General Overseas Service.

(A printed form, with details typed in. Signed p.p. the Talks Booking Manager (the name is indistinct, but is probably Ronald Boswell).)

Letter from —— to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

The British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcasting House, London, W.1.—Invites him (retrospectively) to prepare and deliver, on stated terms, a revised insert for the programme on Lloyd George in the series ‘British Prime Ministers since 1900’ (cf. 5/123a).

(A printed form, with details typed in. Signed p.p. the Talks Booking Manager (the name is indistinct, but is probably Ronald Boswell). The recording referred to was made on 11 Feb.)

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.

Letter from Virginia Woolf to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

52 Tavistock Square, W.C.1.—Thanks her for her complimentary remarks on her book Three Guineas, and expresses admiration for the Pethick-Lawrences’ work for the women’s movement.

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Transcript

52 Tavistock Square, W.C.1
4th July 38

Dear Mrs Pethick Lawrence,

I have just got back from Scotland, & found your letter. None that I have had about Three Guineas has given me such pleasure. I was haunted by the fear that those who had a right to judge would think me impertinent—I have had so little experience myself. But no one has more right to judge than you have, & if the book seems to you useful I am greatly relieved. To me, the facts seemed so obvious that I wondered that they had not been stated before. Whether stating them does any good, I don’t know, but it was the only thing I could do, & silence had become intolerable to me.

May I take this chance of saying how greatly, when I was reading about the womens movement, I admired the work that you & your husband did for it? A wish not to mention the living—perhaps a foolish wish—made me quote the dead—otherwise I should have liked to express my admiration in writing.

I am glad you liked the pictures. They have educed {1}, I am pleased to find, rage in many quarters.

Thank you again for writing.

Yours sincerely
Virginia Woolf

Yes—the cutting you send is very interesting. May I hoard it along with other such facts?

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{1} This word is indistinct.

Circular letter issued by Viscount Cecil of Chelwood

National Declaration Committee, 15 Grosvenor Crescent, London, S.W.1.—A number of societies are co-operating to obtain signatures to a National Declaration in support of the League of Nations and international disarmament. Sends a list of proposed questions (1/125) and asks for a contribution towards costs.

Letter from —— to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

The British Broadcasting Corporation,, Broadcasting House, London, W.1.—Invites him (retrospectively) to prepare and deliver, on stated terms, a radio talk on Ramsay MacDonald for the series ‘British Prime Ministers since 1900’ (cf. 5/123a–b).

(A printed form, with details typed in. Signed p.p. the Talks Booking Manager (the name is indistinct, but is probably Ronald Boswell).)

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