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Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

2 Currie Street, Nine Elms, S.W.—Discusses arrangements for their journey on the Continent, and refers to the Caterers’ Union meeting at Memorial Hall.

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Transcript

2 Currie St | Nine Elms | S.W
23 May 1920

Dear Mrs Pethick Lawrence,

Thank you so much for both your letters. I hope the business is now pretty well finished. I went to Cooks on Friday {1}, saw your clerk, paid for my ticket and am to call for it on Friday, when, I hope my passport also will be ready. I have the French visa: for the Swiss there were more formalities. But one of our staff at the W.F.L office has promised to see it through so I hope all will be plain sailing for our start 8 a.m from Victoria on Monday-week. I shall only take hand luggage.

Fortunately, one will not need warm things.

I look forward with great pleasure to our journey together.

I hear you had a great send-off on Friday. The Caterers’ Union packed Memorial Hall, principally girls and women. There will be trouble at Lyons’s this week if the employers do not make substantial concessions.

I have seldom seen such unity and determination.

With love
Affectionately yours
C. Despard

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{1} 21st.

{2} 31st.

Letter from Christabel Pankhurst to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Hotel Vancouver, Vancouver, B.C.
4th May 1922

Dearest,
Your letter filled me with joy. In an instant ten years were gone and they have never been. Our love united us all the time and only the surface of it was moved. Wasn’t that the way?

It was like your generous heart to write. I am so glad you did.

All that morning we {1} had been joggling along in motor stages & interurban train through a lovely bit of Washington State and the thought of you and Godfather and our wonderful years of work together came to me so strongly and remained with me & for a long time I talked to Grace of it for my thought would have expression. Then we arrived at Bellingham & when I entered the hotel a letter was put into my hand. I knew the writing at once! I can only say again with what joy I read it[.] Something just slipped into its place and I felt comforted.

The envelope was so frayed and covered with hotel redirections. I realised that it might so easily have been lost and that I might then never have known, or not for very long, that you had written it! All the more must I let you know by telegram safely and at once that I had the dear letter & that my heart met yours in all you said.

How I wish I could be in your arms & have a long long satisfying talk about all the essentials as you put it—with the past all union between us & our eyes looking forward!

Still I cannot regret being over here and I knew when I sent my further message how likely it was that you could not come now. All the same the exchange of messages gives us the little human feeling of each other—and I look forward to your letter. I expect to remain in these parts during the time that it will take the letter to arrive.

As I write, I look out from a high window of this hotel on to the lovely lakelike sea & the mountains that come so near that one can really see & know their faces. Vancouver is one of those places, here & there in the world, that one can live in if one had to. But I like to wander in these times. Every geographical displacement has helped me along another journey I am making.

Yes! I have had great experiences, inward rather than outward,—and I was unhappy. Perhaps there was, as you said, something of a penalty about it, though it seemed difficult at the time to understand the need of price and penalty after the event—one is inclined to expect that the price will come before & not after—& then to be taken by surprise & be a bit rebellious at heart—or perhaps only stupid & not see that it is the price which one would so gladly pay understand[in]g it to be such!

But that is all done with now & I am thankful to have learned many lessons & to have won my way to a real freedom of spirit that I never knew before.

I had so very much to learn. I depended too much upon humanity—upon myself & other people. One has to find the bed-rock. And these turning points in one’s life always & only come after a time of inward stress. Rebirth is painful—that is the fact!

I am absorbed in viewing the great world situation and mighty developments of this time.

It is the End of the Age! The ends of the ages are certainly come upon us & in our very own day one great period of Eternity ends & another begins. This is true, I believe, in no merely figurative sense, but in very literal truth.

At a certain point in the War, I saw as in a flash that humanity has come to the end of its own political resources & that humanly speaking we are moving in a vicious circle. We are powerless to work out the Salvation of Society & of the world. We have neither the wisdom nor the goodness to do it. Every day that I have lived since then has confirmed me in that conviction.

The recent war was the first rumbling of the storm that ends the old order and ushers in that new order in which “the Kingdoms of this world” will “become the Kingdoms of the Lord & of His Christ & he shall reign for ever”.

I have come to this conclusion, in my hard headed, “logical” way, that the Incarnation of two thousand years ago is soon to be repeated in another manner & in terms of “power & glory”. I have reasoned it out from every standpoint, comparing Scripture with scripture, and written prophecy with its actual fulfilment in historic event in past time & in our own day, & viewing the evidence as a lawyer would I am convinced that Jesus Christ will come again and that soon.

By the way, every third Tuesday in the month there is in the Kingsway Hall London what they call an Astral Testimony Meeting which has three sessions, morning, afternoon and evening, at which the Clergy of various denominations & also some laymen discourse on this question. I went once when I was in London.

It is a wonderful privilege to have understanding—a light that shows one the meaning of the world’s condition at the present time.

It seems to me that the true link of union between human beings at the present time is that between those “who love His appearing”.
It was just by chance—yet not by chance surely—that, in the war days, I found in a bookshop a book by Dr Grattan Guiness “The approach[in]g End of the Age”. That set me thinking, though hardly daring to believe so grand a news—but since then I have read & thought steadily & am more & more deeply convinced.

I know you will want to know my though about the world’s outlook & need, as the telegram expressed it—for it was always on that plane that we met & worked together.

Dear Godfather! give him a big message from me.

With all my love[,] your same
Christabel

More another time about people & things over here.

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{1} Christabel Pankhurst and Grace Roe.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pankhurst

Transcript

The Waldorf-Astoria, New York
Sept 22 1912.

Dear Mrs Pankhurst

We found your letter awaiting us on our arrival here. We have read it carefully & thoughtfully. We quite understand that it is a purely business letter, endorsing the views of our responsible colleagues with regard to the present situation & its effect upon us—& we reply in the same spirit of deliberation.

Perhaps you are not aware that the present position does not take my husband or me by surprise. Before putting our hand to the plough we were bound of course to consider every aspect of the matter & the Government’s policy of attacking us financially was discussed between us. We have therefore faced the situation already. But we appreciate the fact that you have faced it on our behalf during the past weeks, & that you are anxious to find a way out for us in order to spare us further sacrifice.

Our answer today is the same as it has been since we entered the struggle. You will realize directly we state it that there is only one answer possible. It is the answer which you yourself would give if asked to choose between the Movement (which you & we have in so large a measure jointly built up) and any other possession in life however dear & precious. You would not hesitate for a moment. Neither do we. Our answer is that we shall continue to be jointly responsible with you in the future as we have been in the past, and that the more we are menaced the harder we will fight until victory is won.

So far as the Union is concerned, the difficulty you allude to can be met. We can refuse if we choose to allow any members of the Union to share personally incurred liability.

With regard to Militancy—we have never for a single instance allowed our individual interests to stand in the way of any necessary action or policy to be pursued by the Union, and we never shall. At the present moment, hard fighting & harder than ever is essential. The harder the battle, the more need for every one of the generals & soldiers.

Yours very sincerely
Emmeline Pethick Lawrence

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{1} PETH 9/31.

Typed copy of a letter from Emmeline Pankhurst to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

COPY.

Boulogne sur Mer.
September 8th, 1912.

My dear Mrs Lawrence:—

It is during a breathing space such as we have had that one is able to quietly take stock of the situation and see things in their true perspective and this I have been doing. No doubt you and Mr Lawrence have also been thinking much about the Union and its work. We, Mrs Tuke, Annie, Christabel and I have met here and had a long talk and as a result I write you this letter which embodies our views. I want you to regard it as a business letter and to realise that in all our hearts are feelings which are very deep and real but which it would be out of place to express here.

First let me tell you how matters stand.

1. Of course you have been kept informed of the Government’s proceedings to recover the costs of the prosecution and how after much effort the sale at Holmwood has been for a time postponed.

2. I enclose a letter claiming compensation which has been answered to the effect that we are travelling abroad. This claim is likely to be followed by others.

3. The new premises are nearing completion. Mrs Tuke and I return to London next week to superintend furnishing and removal. Before going to Evian-les-Bains for our cure we deposited with the solicitor, Mr Blount, a sum of money to cover the rent for three years so that the guarantors are now entirely protected against possible loss.

4. Christabel leaves Boulogne next week to establish herself in Paris. It is commonly known who she is and where she is and so we have decided that it is better she should be in Paris the seat of French Government, where she will be in touch with the representatives of the English Press and also that the moment has come for her to resume her own name and live quite openly. She will now sign her articles and letters.

Now as to the situation as it seems to us to affect you and Mr Lawrence, and your position in the Union as Treasurer.

It is quite evident that the authorities and also the Insurance Companies and property owners mean to take full advantage of the fact that they can attack Mr Lawrence with profit and through Mr Lawrence weaken the Movement. So long as Mr Lawrence can be connected with militant acts involving damage to property, they wil make him pay. Nothing but the cessation of militancy, (which of course is unthunkable† {1} before the vote is assured) or his complete ruin will stop this action on their part. They see in Mr Lawrence a potent weapon against the militant movement and they mean to use it. This weapon is a powerful one. By its use they can not only ruin Mr Lawrence, but they also intend, if they can, to divert our funds. If suffragists, feeling strongly as they do, the injustice of one having to suffer for the acts of otheres, raised a fund to recoup Mr Lawrence, it would mean that our members[’] money would go finally into the coffers of the enemy and the fighting fund would be depleted or ended. It would also reduce militancy to a farce for the damage we did with one hand would be repaired with the other. It is well to see things at their very worst especially when the very worst is not only possible but highly probable. In one night, by one militant act, hundreds of thousands of pounds might be involved and the only individuals in the Movement who would be affected apart from imprisonment of those responsible would be you two. So long as you are a responsible official of this Union this will be so. Then there is the Albert Hall Meeting. What we say at that meeting is of vital importance. I know that it will be my duty as Chairman to make a militant speech, a speech that will lead to further acts of reprisal on the part of the Government if it is followed, as it will be, by a fresh outbreak of militancy. No doubt there will be another prosecution for conspiracy in which those who share responsibility with me will be involved. The Gov. can only take me when they proceed against me and that will do them more harm than good but in taking you they repeat the money getting process. I know you will understand me when I say that if to ruin Mr Lawrence would help the Woman’s Cause I should think it worth while for what is the individual as compared with the Cause? When however far from helping it is a source of weakness, a positive injury, then the case is different! What is to be done?

This is what we suggest after long and anxious thought. It is a way of retaining your active participation in a great Imperial Movement which is just beginning and at the same time of preventing the Government from striking at the militant Movement in England through you. The Union has paved the way by my two visits to Canada, by the establishment of the first W.S.P.U. there, by the presence of scattered members and by the deputation to Borden. Will you for a time lead the Imperial Suffrage Movement in Canada? It is a great mission and a great role. The Government would get a huge rebuff. Like all their previous acts of tyranny this latest one would recoil on their own heads and they would find that instead of crushing the Movement in England by attacking you they had actually helped to spread it throughout the Empire. We have often felt in this Movement that we were guided in a mysterious way. Perhaps the events and trials of the past few months have been preparing us for greater developments. You can do this work. For me to undertake it would not change the situation here for the difficulties and dangers would still remain.

Following on the deputation to Borden we are sending Miss Wylie (whose brother is a Canadian M.P.) to organise our scattered members. We are endeavouring to get together a special Canadian Fund to launch the Campaign. The growing importance of Canada makes a W.S.P.U. Movement there imperative even if you do not agree to control and guide it.

Of course you might decide to carry out the project of foreign travel of which you have so often talked. All that I have written is with the full approval and concurrence of our friends who share my anxieties and hopes. Please show my letter to Mr Lawrence and discuss it with him and believe that I have left unwritten many expressions of affection and appreciation which we all feel very deeply. I hope your holiday has been a pleasant one. It must have been a great joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I send this letter to New York in the hope that you may get it before sailing.

Very affectionately yours,
(Signed) E. Pankhurst.

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A typed transcript.

{1} Followed by a superfluous closing bracket.

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline or F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

2 Currie Street, Nine Elms, S.W.—Accepts an invitation to tea.

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Transcript

2 Currie St | Nine Elms | S.W
28th Novr 1913

Dear Mrs {1} Pethick Lawrence

I shall be very glad to take tea with you between 4 & 5 p.m on Thursday 4th Decr.

As regards the dinner I thank you cordially for the invitation; but I am going to ask you to excuse me. A dinner, however pleasant, is always a bit of a trial to me, and just now, life has been so strenuous with us, that I am feeling a little run down.

With kindest regards
Yours sincerely
C. Despard

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The address printed at the head (Hillcrest, Mayfield, Sussex) has been struck through.

{1} The title resembles ‘Mr’, but is perhaps more likely to be ‘Mrs’.

Letter from Jessie Kenney to Lady Constance Lytton

Transcript

Hotel du Golfe | La Guimorais | St Coulomb | Ille-et-Villaine | France.
Sept 13. 1921.

Dearest Lady Conny,

I am writing to ask if you will very kindly do something for me.

I am to be admitted to the Wireless College at Colwyn Bay where I am going to train as a Wireless Operator and at the same time to study for my London Matric. I have already applied to the Principal and he has accepted me.

But each student is required to supply the following:—

(a) Certificate of birth

(b) Particulars filled up on enclosed form

(c) Letters from two persons of British parentage, and of standing, signifying that the applicant is the person described on the birth certificate—that the particulars on attached form are correct—and that the applicant and his† parents are of good character.

I am enclosing my birth certificate and the form referred to above which I have filled up—so that you can see all is in order. Both my father and mother are dead as I think you know.

There are two people I should like to have as sponsors for my entry into the wireless world. One is yourself and the other is Professor Bickerton (President of the Royal Astronomical Society) who was a good old supporter of ours in our good old fighting days and he has been more than encouraging to me in my new quest.

I should be therefore so glad, dear Lady Conny, if you would send me a letter which I can forward on to the Principal with the enclosed form and birth certificate.

I have decided after all not to go to Australia as things seem very unsettled out there. Also I find that before I can do anything in wireless it will be necessary for me to take a degree and I am working to this object. And if one is to take a degree in Science it is better to take it in this country of course. Colwyn Bay has an excellent and mild climate, and so one can work and study there without detriment to one’s health. My two good and generous sisters in New York are helping me financially for my first year’s training.

Women are not being trained as Wireless Operators and special facilities are being given to me because of my enthusiasm in the matter and my keenness to go ahead in the cause of scientific work. The Prime Minister has sent me a little note wishing me success, and if it had not been for this I doubt if I should have been accepted. So you can gather from this that I am helping to blaze another trail for women and I hope to prove worthy of all the confidence and faith that has been put in me. One thing I feel so strongly about in this affair is that one is never too old to start anything. It seems to have astonished quite a few people that I should wish to go in for scientific work at the age of 34 and begin studying for a degree in science now. But I feel just as I did when I began work in the Suffrage Movement, and one is as young as one feels—isn’t one?

I wonder how you are keeping. I saw the notice in the Press and the leading article about your dear mother’s birthday {1}. How devoted you must all be to her and how proud she must be of all of you. I do wish you could have met my mother. You would have loved her. She was a wonderful and good woman. Whenever any of us are in doubt or trouble we always feel her presence and influence near. In life she always specially watched over the weak one and the one needing help and she seems to do this still.

You will be pleased to hear that Annie’s little baby boy {2} is perfectly lovely and is so happy and good.

I am enclosing a stamped addressed envelope. I am staying at the above address for a little holiday—It is a little hotel in an out of way spot in Brittany, and one that has been visited by many Suffragettes.

With love & all good wishes

Ever yours,
Jessie Kenney.

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{1} Edith, Countess of Lytton, celebrated her eightieth birthday this year.

{2} Annie Kenney’s son Warwick.

† Sic. 

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