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Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—The Cabinet mission were met at Delhi by the Viceroy, whose bereavement has visibly affected him. At Karachi they met the Governor of Sind, and Alexander joined the mission. Reflects on their busy programme.

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Transcript

The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
Mch 24. 46

My dear

I have just arrived, after a perfect journey. It is an entirely novel experience for me to be a “great” personage & to be received everywhere with the state befitting my position. But it doesnt embarrass me any more than it would to peel potatoes with a cottager’s wife.

Though it is midday it is surprisingly cool just like a delightful June day in England & there is a bowl of roses on a side table.

The Viceroy met us at the aerodrome & took me with him here, the other ministers following in other cars. His bereavemt has visibly affected him {1}. He looks haggard & weary.

We spent a very pleasant evening with the Governor of Sind {2} on our arrival at Karachi yesterday. Albert Alexander came a little later & has come on with us in our plane this morning.

We have a very full programme of work in front of us & an immense number of people to see during the next fortnight.

I am to be fetched by an A D C & taken to lunch in a few minutes. So I will finish this letter now with all my love to my darling

Your own
Boy

This letter may reach you before th 2 I wrote at Tunis & one posted at Karachi {3}.

Love to May Lydia & the girls.

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The letter contains a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘th’ for ‘the’.

{1} Lord Wavell’s son-in-law, Major the Hon. Simon N. Astley, had died at Quetta on 16 March following a motor accident (L. G. Pine, New Extinct Peerage).

{2} Sir Francis Mudie.

{3} PETH 6/146–8.

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

2 Willingdon Crescent, New Delhi.—Has dined with Mrs Naidu, and is seeing Gandhi on Monday. Cripps met Jinnah today. The most pressing issues are the Hindu-Muslim dispute over Pakistan, and the time gap before independence. Is going to a Quaker service tomorrow, which Jinnah and Nehru are expected to attend.

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Transcript

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

March 30. 46

Dearest.

It has been a very great pleasure to me to get your letter dated Mch 23 & to hear all your news about golf & the garden. Incidentally it marks the contrast between England & India when you speak with satisfaction about the the winter being nearly past & the summer being at hand, while we are rather regretting that summer is upon us & with its coming the flowers (we are told) wither away. Also 95º in the day & 67º at night is quite manageable but an advance of a further 10º or 20º is not an entrancing prospect. However I have still some reductions of cloth-ing to be made & I am not at all alarmed at the prospect. As a matter of fact I seem to have brought exactly the right things away with me.

We are on the threshold of the real purpose of our coming here. Mrs Naidu dined with us last night—still full of energy & fun at 67. We explored some of the ground. I gave her greeting from you. Gandhi has agreed to come here on Monday evening {2} to see me. Stafford Cripps saw Jinnah today. We have to build bridges over two gaps (1) the Hindu-Moslem dispute over Pakistan (2) the time gap between now & the full realisation of independence by India.

So far this first week has produced as much fruit as could be reasonably xpected, but the real test is to come. I remain an optimist. Both the Mission & the V seem to be agreed tht I shd do most of the talking to all the people who come to the discussions. It is a great responsibility but I am fortified by their confidence in me.

I am going to a quaker service in Delhi tomorrow & I understand Jinnah & Nehru are both xpected to be there. Later I am proposing to have a drive in my car[,] getting back in time to see someone @ 6. o’c.

My dear love to you
Boy

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘xpected’ for ‘expected’.

{1} This line of the address is handwritten.

{2} 1 April.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation (as 6/153).—They are interviewing many interesting people. He and Alexander hope to visit the Taj on Sunday, and the mission have now received the required formal invitation to go Kashmir at Easter.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
April 9 (To be Posted 10th)

Dearest One

It is a refreshment to sit down before dinner & commune with you after the heat of midday & the burden of the interviews & talks. And I have just had a letter from you dated April 5 from Fways saying you have had my letters of Mch 28 & 30. I have an earlier letter (April 3) from you also to acknowledge & an enclosure from Lydia for which please give her my love & thanks. You ask whether you shall address me to 2 Willingdon Crescent or wht; it doesnt matter at all. So long as the letter comes out in the official bag it will be delivered to me by Turnbull to wherever I am. Equally I presume when I write a letter to you & send it to the India Office tht they will send it to 11 O S or to Fourways according to wht E K tells them.

We are seeing a great many interesting people both formally & informally but it is sometimes rather drowsy work listening to their soft & droning voices. Sir C P Ramaswami Aiyar (who was in the cartoon I sent you yesterday “Sir C P”) was an exception with his vigorous & determined voice, & Joshi whom we saw this afternoon was most interesting. I am sending you the latest programme. You will see we are to meet 2 women on Thursday.

We shall very soon have to be thinking in earnest about our method of tackling the main problem or problems. But of course this has in a sense been going on all the time.

I had a swim in the swimming pool yesterday evening & again tonight. It is quite a large bath & it takes the heat out of one’s body. Alexander & I hope to go to see The Taj Sunday morning. The Cashmir trip at Easter awaits an invitation from the Ruler about which there appears to be some hitch. (now resolved 10. iv. 46)

I have had nice letters from Mrs Subbarayan & also from Mrs Hamid Ali whom I think you know.

I send you an early picture of me taken at Karachi which you may nt yet have seen.

I am most interested in your Fways news & your a/c of your amazing hot weather. I do hope there are no more frosts. Here it continues to get hotter & there is a haze about all the time which makes it somewhat humid. (102º yesterday 9th)

My dear I think of you with such love.

Your own
Boy

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

{1} PETH 6/151–2. Lady Pethick-Lawrence’s letter of 5 April does not survive.

{2} ‘April 3’ interlined. The brackets have been supplied. This letter does not survive.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—It is very hot. He has allowed the probable date of their departure to leak out in order to help the parties take definite decisions. A possible date for election to the constituent assembly is being canvassed in some provinces.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 6. 46

My dear.

It is certainly very hot. 112º maximum in the day is bad enough but 93º minimum in the night is worse, in spite of air conditioning & fan. Last night, almost for the first time, I was a little rest-less & about 4 o’c I went into my bathroom & got into a bath of wht does duty for cold water (a few degrees below blood heat) & lay down in it. I dozed off & dreamt tht you & I were driving down from Mascot to Dorking Station in a horse-drawn fly of Bucklands. We agreed tht at our age (our present age) there was something to be said for this placid method of progression. This pleasant little dream so soothed me tht when I got back into bed I slept peacefully till I was called for at 6.30.

I have no fresh news to give you about our plans. I have purposely allowed our intention of leaving about June 15 to leak out as I think it may help the parties to take definite decisions. A possible date for election to the Constituent Assembly is being canvassed in some of the provinces, & no objected has been xpressed. By the time you receive this letter which can hardly be before Tuesday 11th, you may be able to glean from the papers the likely course of events. As soon as anything specific has been decided no doubt the India Office will learn it & will communicate with Esther.

Apart from being homesick I confess to being a little weary but I can certainly stick it another 10 days or fortnight or even a little longer if really necessary. But my feeling is tht there is no real advantage to be gained by being willing to prolong our stay beyond a certain point & I still hope to be able to get off on 15th, & I am making all my preliminary preparations on this assumption.

My dear I love you so & I long to be with you again.

Your own loving
Boy.

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

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—The weather is cooler. The Muslim League have accepted the plan for constitution-making, and Congress may do so, but there may be a dispute about the interim Government. Discusses their date of departure and related arrangements.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Congress will probably reject the plans for an interim Government, though it is doubtful what they will do about the constituent assembly. The date of his departure is likely to be deferred again. Lady Cripps has been recalled to England because her daughter is ill.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 24. 46

My dearly Beloved.

I have your letter of June 19 {1} before me as I write. It is indeed for both of us a trial of pa-tience. These people talk & deliberate with a sense of all eternity in front of them. Their promise of a decision are postponed from day to day & the chance of a satisfactory one ebbs & ebbs. It is now as certain as anything can be in this uncertain land tht Congress will reject the plans for an interim Governt. What they will do about the Constituent Assembly is at the moment of writing still in doubt. But my hopes are not very high. Some time I will tell you much about it. But people start coming to interview us at 7 AM, & the last doesnt leave much before midnight. And nothing whatever comes of it! And the heat is stifling.

In my last letter to EK I told her tht I expected to be leaving here on Thursday or Friday. But delays & delays & delays make this now unlikely. Nevertheless I still hope to get away within a few days from now. But it may be again a case of hope deferred.

Lady Cripps having been called out here to a sick husband is being recalled to a still more sick daughter. So her case is far far worse than ours. I am terribly sorry for her.

I am glad tht Doty continues to go from triumph to triumph. It is good tht life contains these days of exuberant satisfaction.

I kiss you my beloved. I love you & adore you.

Your very own
Boy.

You may care to see the enclosed from Lord Halifax to whom I wrote about his OM. Keep it among my letters to you.

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

{1} PETH 8/85.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Congress has rejected the plan for an interim Government but accepted a long-term plan for constitution-making. They plan to leave on Friday.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 25. 46

My darling.

Congress today turned down the plan for interim Govt but accepted a long-term plan for Constitution Making.

The result though nt as good as at one time seemed possible is a considerable achievement for which I am profoundly thankful.

Our present idea is to start from here on Friday & if tht is adhered to we should be in London on Monday Afternoon July 1. In tht case this will probably be the last letter tht I shall write to you before I start.

If it all works out as I have said, my joy at the prospect of seeing you again is overwhelming.

Kisses & love

From your very own
Boy.

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This letter includes the abbreviated forms ‘tht’ for ‘that’ and ‘nt’ for ‘not’.

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