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Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Viceregal Lodge, Simla.—Describes his journey to Simla and the situation of the Lodge. Jinnah will not arrive till Saturday, so talks will not begin till Sunday. Sends his love for their anniversary of 12 May. Four of his colleagues have just celebrated birthdays.

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Transcript

Viceregal Lodge, Simla
May 1, 46.

My dear.

This is certainly a most wonderful place and I am glad I have not missed seeing it. This particular house is perched upon a hill in Simla (which is, by the way, all hills) & there is a panoramic view all round. But while at Fways the view extends for 2 or 3 miles, here it is 50, 100, & in some directions I should think 150 miles. There are snow mountains dividing us from Kashmir & snow mountains dividing us from Tibet. We are about 7000 feet up.

I dined with Jinnah last night & met his sister who is very like him—they both look very tall but tht is because they are thin with aquiline faces. In reality they are only 5’9” & 5’ 4”. Jinnah says he cant get here till Saturday & we shant begin our talks till Sunday, so we shall nt have very much to do the next 3 days.

We got up @ 5.30 this morning, breakfasted 6.15, started 7, left aerodrome at 7.30[,] reached Amballa at 8.30 & then came up here 94 miles in motor cars, the last 55 miles being a steady climb. Most of the cars broke down on the way. I came with the Viceroy. I smelt something like a leather clutch burning some time before we pulled up. The sun is quite hot up here but the air is cool & refreshing. There is a billiard table in the house & a putting golf course in the garden.

The house itself is much less grandiose than the one at Delhi; all the same I have a very large sitting room & another large bedroom & 2 verandahs with glorious views.

I dont know how long this letter will take to reach you but I expect is wont go off till tomorrow & then it will take a day to Delhi, so tht you wont get it much before our May 12. In spite of all the beauty here I do wish I was with you for our festival. You will have to have the salmon & the gooseberry tart with friends & waft a greeting to me as I shall to you my beloved. 45 years ago since the original May 12, & I love my darling more deeply than ever. Kiss all the flowers for me at Fourways. Give my love to May & Lydia & to the girls in London & to the folk at Peaslake.

Last Wednesday was Stafford Cripps birthday, yesterday was Turnbulls, & today Alexanders[,] & Sunday is the Viceroys {1}. But I am sticking to soft drinks which suit me better. I am still exceptionally well though I dont xpect to sleep as well at this height as I have done in Delhi. You know neither of us ever did when we were in Switzerland.

The political situation here moves slowly forward to a climax which I cant predict. I am afraid the Palestine Report will greatly upset the Moslems.

All my love
Boy

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘nt’ for ‘not’ and ‘xpect’ for ‘expect’.

{1} ‘& Sunday is the Viceroys’ was inserted slightly later.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Sends a loving greeting for the 26th. Reports briefly on the mission and the political situation. He has ordered an aeroplane for 10 June, but may not be able to leave then.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
May 26. 46

Oh My Dear.

May 26 Sunday. Our May 26. I love you. You are my very darling. You are I am sure thinking of me as I am of you.

Our political barometer continues to go up & down. At the present moment after a severe depression it has appreciably risen.

Cripps is in hospital but is improving & hopes to be out in a few days & back at work a few days later. Alexander has gone off to the South on an Admiralty mission {1}. Jinnah is still at Simla & his Muslim League doesnt meet till June 3. The Congress have adjourned & departed.

So I & the Viceroy are left alone. I think there will be plenty to do & time to get some rest. I played Alexander at billiards last night[,] gave him 100 in 250 & beat him by 24.

I have told them to have an aeroplane standing by by June 10 but I am afraid tht† doesnt mean I shall get off by then. Still the time is coming when I shall have to say to the parties not “tht my patience is exhausted” but “time Gentlemen please”. It may be the only way to get them to decide anything. See the amusing extract from a pro-Congres† paper. And perhaps I shall add “We are going now forward with summoning the Constituent Assembly” & see what happens.

Darling once more
All my love
Boy

Please go on writing to me until I definitely start for home.

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{1} He had gone to Ceylon to inspect the fleet. See Transfer of Power, vol. vii, no. 386.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Is looking forward to going home. Cripps is recovering gradually, and Isobel is coming out to take him home by ship. Refers to the delay in negotiations. He took some colleagues for a drive on Sunday.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
May 28. 46.

My beloved.

I have had 2 letters from you today {1} & 3 from Esther & as I have had a fair amount of leisure I have been able thoroughly to enjoy them. I am so glad tht you feel just as I do about my coming home. The job comes first, second, third & all the time. But when it is done—so far as it can be done—all my mind & heart will be in coming home & seeing you again.

I am sorry to be missing an English spring, but I am delighted to know tht you are enjoying it to the full. After all I enjoy all the seasons in their turn & perhaps I shall be back before all the wild roses in the path are over & I did see some in Simla. All the flowers are gone here, but the trees are still in blossom, & the Bougainvillea seems to last on indefinitely.

Cripps is back with us—better but with a long way to go yet. Isobel is coming out to take him home on shipboard. We have booked passage for them on June 16 from Bombay and hope tht will see the job done.

These people here keep on keeping us waiting in turn & then are inclined to grumble at us for the delay. I suppose we must remember tht we have been keeping them waiting in a sense for the last 50 years! I think on the whole we make progress though sometimes there is a great slip backwards which seems to retrace the forward steps of many days. Through it all I do not forget tht we can only do our best with the parts tht are given to us, it is the Great Dramatist who decided whether the play is to have a happy ending.

I took Turnbull & 2 others out for a short drive on Sunday afternoon starting at 4.30. We got out 3 times to see sights & though it was terribly hot it made a pleasant break in the daily routine specially for Turnbull who works incessantly.

I have a sort of idea it is May’s birthday some time about now. If so give her my special love.

Darling I am,
Your very own
Boy.

Give my love to Madeleine & congratulate her from me on her success. Dont let her overdo you.

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The abbreviation ‘tht’ for ‘that’ occurs a few times.

{1} PETH 8/70 and 8/71?

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—(30th.) Is conscious of his need for perseverance and patience. Affairs may reach a climax during the weekend of 8–11 June.—(31st.) Has had a delightful talk with Sudhir Ghosh.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
May 30–31

My dear.

Your spiritual support means a great deal to me in these days when I have to call on all my spiritual reserves in order “neither to fail nor falter nor repent” {1}. I find it is not enough to have patience, I have also to have ungrudging goodwill to those who try my patience & at the back of all to retain tht reliance on the wise purpose of the Designer of all things. And so I pray tht courage, endurance & wisdom may continue to be vouchsafed to me, & tht all my works may be “begun continued & ended in Him” {2}.
I miss the counsel of Stafford Cripps terribly but he is now out of hospital & in a day or two I may be able to trouble him with some of the conundrums which confront me morning noon & night. For though I have faith in the Divine purpose & cling to it I never lose sight of the adage “God helps those who help themselves”.

It looks as if we might reach a climax in our affairs over the week-end June 8–11 but it may well be tht it is postponed. We have to get agreement on lots of things & a failure to get it on any once of them may mean a break down & a break up with consequences which humanly speaking are pretty serious. The hope is tht common sense may assert itself at alst, & I have by no means abandoned it.

The weather is rather trying, {3} with maxima between 100º & 108º & minima between 80º & 85º. Fortunately we have plenty of fruit & vegetables. I continue to sleep nearly the whole night through.

Albert Alexander is due back from his jaunt to Ceylon, tomorrow.

Friday. After writing the above I had a swim & went home. After a talk with Stafford who is much better Sudhir Ghosh came to see [me]—a young man of 29 who acts as “Mercury” to Gandhi. This time he did not bring me any message from G as he has himself been in hospital & Gandhi is away. But we had a delightful talk. I have seen him many times before & am very fond of him. I hope he will be one of India’s leading statesmen in years to come. He gave me great cheer & hope, and this morning I am feeling in very good spirits.

Ever your own loving Boy.

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The abbreviation ‘tht’ for ‘that’ occurs a few times.

{1} A slight misquotation from Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, Act IV. The original line has ‘change’ in place of ‘fail’.

{2} The words ‘begun, continued, and ended in thee’ occur in the prayer beginning ‘Go before us, O Lord, in all our doings’ in the Book of Common Prayer, which is one of the prayers said at the beginning of each day in the House of Commons.

{3} Comma substituted for a full stop.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—The crisis of the mission is expected in about six days. Discusses possible dates for their return, with reference to Lady Pethick-Lawrence’s holiday. Denies the rumour that he intends to retire.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 4 46

My dear.

I wrote you a long letter yesterday mainly about philosophy so here is another less high-fallutin!

Our climacteric (crisis) is expected in about 6 days. We may get full agreement. We may get rejection by both parties. We may get any one of various gradations between the two.

In either of the first two cases the Cabinet Mission propose to start for home almost at once probably on or about Saty June 15—arriving say on Tuesday June 18. In the event of indecisiveness we may be several days later but hope to get off not later than June 19 arriving 22nd. But this hope may be disappointed, & if so we have just go to do what is necessary.

If I can get home 18th or at latest 22nd, tht should fit in with your trip to I o W for I expect I shall have to be in London on 24th & have a great deal to do tht week (even if I am able to take a few days holiday later).

If I arrive on June 24 no doubt you will be postponing going to I o W for a day or two. If I am not due for several days after June 24 you had better go to I o W on 24th. Of course I could come to I o W to join you. But if you decide to meet me (which if you yourself wish it would be a joy to me) you could come up for 2 days from I o W & go back. Finally if my arrival is not until July you could carry on until then in I o W.

I expect to arrive by sea-plane at Poole harbour (beyond Bournemouth).
It is still all speculation about our chances of success.

They have been printing stories here of my intention to retire {1}, but I have said nothing whatever to justify this; I think it originates with “The News of the World” London.

We are still to be able to use the swimming bath. This is a reprieve as it is one of our few recreations, & the temperature yesterday was 109.

I keep very well & send you my dear love. I think you wanted all the enclosures back. I have written to Moira Gibson (McDermott) {2} re birth of daughter.

All my love
Boy.

Stafford Cripps thanks you for your good wishes & reciprocates them.

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The abbreviation ‘tht’ for ‘that’ occurs twice.

{1} Underlined three times.

{2} Spelling uncertain.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Is sorry she has cancelled her visit to the Isle of Wight. The political situation and the date of his return are still uncertain. He spoke to Field Marshall Montgomery while he was at Delhi.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 21. 46

My own dear Heart.

I am distressed to receive a letter from EK today dated June 17 telling me tht you have can-celled your trip to I W, & to realise from yours of 16th tht you are doing so because you are expecting me home in a day or two from now. The fact is tht with these unaccountable people I cant tell in the very least when I shall be leaving for home. It may be at the end of next week, it may be well into July. I nearly sent you a telegram to-day urging you not to cancel but I realised you had taken your decision—no doubt so as not to have the uncertainty hanging over you—& any advice now would only disconcert you. So my darling I accept your decision, I wish I was able to take better advantage of it, but I know you would not wish me to hurry an hour if it involves any danger of making a favourable result less likely.

And indeed I am not very sanguine. But the political barometer here goes so up & down tht I really don’t know from day to day wht the final result will be.

As I have not very much to do while I am waiting for the parties, who are once more like the implements in Alice’s croquet party constantly getting up & going away, I have borrowed a copy of Ludwig’s Life of Bethoven† & have started reading it. It takes one into an entirely different world, & relieves the mind. But the weather is so hot & humid tht I constantly drop off to sleep while reading it.

You have probably seen that Field Marshall Montgomery has been here. I had a long private talk with him the other day. I have of course also met Auchinleck. There was a picture in our paper to day of the 3 Field Marshalls (M, A & Wavell) walking together in the Viceregal grounds.

Cripps took lunch today with us in th sitting room for the first time since his illness.

I am very well. I am delighted to know tht you are. My dear blessed & beloved. In deep longing to see you

Your own
Boy.

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This letter includes the abbreviated forms ‘tht’ for ‘that’, ‘th’ for ‘the’, and ‘wht’ for ‘what’.

Copy of a letter from Jawaharlal Nehru to Sir Stafford Cripps

Anand Bharnan, Allahabad.—Acknowledges Cripps's wish see India free, but emphasises the difficulties on both sides and the powerlessness of individuals to control the situation.

(Carbon copy of a typed transcript.)

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Transcript

COPY
VERY CONFIDENTIAL

Anand Bharnan, | Allahabad.
Dec. 3, 1945

My dear Stafford,

Your letter of the 20th Nov. reached me three days ago. I think I have some realisation of your wish to see India free, also of your difficulties. I do not underrate these difficulties. Many things that have been said and done during the past few years have hurt me and a dull pain endures, but at no time did I doubt that you had the cause of India at heart. It is seven years since I was in England and vast changes must have taken place there during these years. I think I have some conception of them also. But I often wonder if our friends in England, and those who are not our friends, have any realisation of what has happened in India, of the changes that have taken place here, and of the passion that lies behind India’s demand for independence. People have grown desperate and it is no easy matter to hold them in check. We have our difficulties also. On both sides, whatever our personal feelings in the matter, we become the agents of powerful forces which we may influence somewhat but cannot control. Individuals count of course but the reality is impersonal, the resultant of a chain of action.

We do not want anything untoward to happen till the elections are over and your Government has had a fair chance to take the next steps. We shall do our utmost to avoid conflict and to restrain the hotheads. But if even then there appears to be delay or what appears to be prevarication, then it is beyond our power or anyone else’s power to control the situation. You must remember that existing conditions in India are a grave and constant irritation and provocation.

Forgive me if I do not paint an easy picture. I do not want to delude you. Having spent a good part of my life in this business, I am tired of conflict and long to do something more worth while. But the fates have so far been against this.

I can have faith in an individual but not in a machine, and it appears that the machine counts in the long run. It is your presence in the British Govt. that gives me some hope. No one else then means much to me so far as India is concerned.

Yours,
(Sgd.) JAMAHARLAL†

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Marked at the head ‘3148’.

† Sic.

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Times of India’, 4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1.—Defends his view of Jinnah’s rôle in the partition of India. Is convinced that Congress was largely responsible for alienating him.

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Transcript

The Times of India, London Branch:
4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1

Dear Lord Pethick Lawrence,

I was very interested to have your letter of October 13th. When I wrote to you I was thinking more of the narrower question of the splitting of the Punjab, referred to by Sir Henry Craik, than to the larger issue of the partition of India. Both form part of the same picture and it may be that in some respects Jinnah was only one factor in the circumstances which brought about partition. But he was a very important factor and his attitude, following the introduction of the new Constitution in 1937, was decisive. Every time the British Government faced the question of Indian political advancement, Jinnah demanded Pakistan and thus blocked agreement. You know more about what happened during the visit of the Cabinet Mission, but in Volume IV of the account of the Second World War entitled “The Hinge of Fate”, Churchill records that at the time of the Cripps Mission his Cabinet considered a plan to declare India a Dominion after the war. He was then faced with a note from Mr. Jinnah declaring that if any constitutional move was intended the Pakistan scheme must be accepted, a statement which was backed up by Sir Firoz Khan Noon, then a member of the Government of India. There is no doubt that Churchill was deeply impressed by these notes and sent them to President Roosevelt in justification of his attitude.

There may be something in what your Indian financier friend said to you after August 15, 1947, but my strong conviction—based on experience—is that the Congress was largely responsible for alienating Jinnah. They refused to take Jinnah and the Pakistan idea seriously. At the time of the famous Calcutta Unity Conference in the twenties, when Jinnah was still a Congressman at heart, they could have achieved an agreement with him on terms which would have preserved the unity of the country. From a logical point of view the Congress leaders, as I know, had justification for their attitude, but logic sometimes makes bad politics. I have no doubt British Governments in the past sometimes found Hindu-Moslem animosity very convenient, but on the need to preserve Indian unity there was always insistence, and I know that Viceroys like Halifax and Linlithgow were very strong on that point both in public and in private. I also know that many of my Indian friends took that same view as the Indian financier whom you quote, and one cannot say that it is entirely baseless. But I still feel that the main fault rested with the Congress mishandling of Jinnah, especially in the days when he was still a Congress supporter.

One or two people whom I met in the Club after your address, including Lord Hailey, agreed with me that you put up a very good case.

Yours sincerely,
Francis Low
(Sir Francis Low)

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