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Pethick-Lawrence Papers Lawrence, Emmeline Pethick- (1867–1954), suffragette, wife of the 1st Baron Pethick-Lawrence Imagen Con objetos digitales
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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.

Letter from Hertha Ayrton to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

41 Norfolk Square, Hyde Park, W.—If the papers she sent were seized by the Government she will send others. Hopes the Pethick-Lawrences are recovering from their imprisonment, and refers to suggestions in the press that the WSPU should adopt Mrs Fawcett as its leader and abandon militancy.

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

87 Clement’s Inn, W.C.—Expresses his love and admiration for her, and his sense of the honour of taking part in the forthcoming trial.

(With an envelope labelled ‘My most precious possession’, etc., which formerly also contained 6/80.)

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Transcript

87 Clement’s Inn, W.C.
April 25. 12

My great beloved

I have it in my heart to write to you of many things—to tell you, beloved, how glorious it is to have you for wife, to tell you how beautiful to me is your majestic spirit, to tell you that in the calm grandeur of your bearing in the exquisite poise of your head in your sublime pride I find my ideal of the perfect woman.

Beloved we are very near to a great day, the greatest that we have seen in our lives. To me it seems that an honour such as conferred only on a few men & women in many centuries is about to be conferred upon us. We are to stand where the great & noble have stood before us all down the ages. We are to be linked up with those who have won the everlasting homage of the whole human race. If next week you & I were to be crowned king & queen in the presence of an adulating people how paltry would be our honour in comparison!

It is supreme joy that you and I will stand there together. It is the complete and perfect expression of that faith to which we by our travail are giving birth.

Lastly, it is good that we shall have by our side that great woman who is our friend & who of all women in the world we would most wish to have with us in that hour.

I am, beloved,

The one who has chosen you & whom you have chosen as
Everlasting Mate.

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

Brixton Prison.—Encourages her with reflections on the ability of the human spirit to transcend material circumstances. Refers to his study of French and Italian, and his other reading, and describes a method of counting on the fingers.

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Transcript

Brixton Prison
19th June 1912

Dearest

How delightful it is to think that this actual paper will be carried to you & that I shall get a reply written by yourself! I have sent you in my thoughts many messages of love which I feel confident have reached you, just as yours have reached me bringing their rich benison with them; But the actual written word gives tangible shape & contact & certainty.

I have not been in any way anxious about you, & equally you have I am sure not been anxious about me. You know that the one thing, which alone always seems worth while to me, is that the human spirit should transcend the whole of the material world; & therefore you do not need to be told that not in the very smallest degree have I been dismayed or discouraged by my environment. Dearest, here in the stillness—that is, to me, essentially the stillness of earth life—I am conscious only of the great spiritual tie which binds us together & binds us to the great Power which guides us. These are days when one drinks of the deep wells of life & because the draft is pure & crystal it refreshes & invigorates far beyond any draft of ordinary daily life. Or again it is as though the noisy overtones which make the chords & discords of the work-a-day world were hushed, & the fundamental notes were heard alone in all their simple grandeur. Or again it seems to me as though of the beauty, which is in the outer world & which our senses detect, the spirit itself had become perceptible to our souls direct.

One of my great joys is to watch the sunlight in the evening on the walls of my cell; some-times the nights are dull & then I miss it, but more often the last hours are bright. It sinks below a house close by about a quarter past seven and is then shut off from sight; each evening the last rays go a little further on the wall than the evening before, but we are coming soon (next Friday) to the longest day & after that it will begin to go back again.

Now you will want to know all I have been reading; First let me say it is surprising how little time I seem to have though I scarcely miss a minute of the day. Nevertheless I have read a larger number of books since I came in. I haven’t made so very much progress in Italian so I daresay you will nearly have caught up to where I am reckoning in what I did before. In the Berlitz Book, which I think you have got also, I have got to page 50. For the last few days I have laid it aside for a study of French which has caught my fancy, but I shall come back to it again in a little while & then I shall probably go on until I finish the book. I have been fascinated with Trevelyans† story of the siege of Rome {1}. It is really the volume preceding the one on Garabaldi’s† Thousand, & it is in my judgment a good deal the finer of the two. Have you read it? I cannot remember. Then I have read over again the story of the Thousand & hope shortly to read the third volume which I understand is now out. I have also got Crispi’s account of the same events {2} but have not read it yet. I have also read a book on radium, & one on Faraday which have inter-ested me very much. During the last week I have been wrestling with Green’s history of England {3} & with a very ponderous life of Henry Newman {4} which though good is very heavy to di-gest. A great soul was Newman, but somehow I can’t help feeling that he lost his way; perhaps a wider understanding might make one see it differently. In addition to other things I have also read a good deal of lighter literature including Pecheur d Island† {5} which I think delightful & two books by Mark Twain—Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn—which Annie gave me. You should get May to send them to you[;] they are full of delicious humour.

May has been very good to me, so thoughtful & kind, sending me everything I could possibly want.

I think you will be amused to know that once when I was taking exercise by walking up & down my cell, I started counting my walks on my fingers & arrived at the following:—it is of course said that on the fingers of the two hands one can count from one up to ten, but that is only by reckoning each finger of each hand to count one only; if the fingers of the left hand are allowed to have a different value from the fingers of the right, one can count all the way from one up to 35 (that is six times six less one), & if the thumbs of each hand are also allowed to count differently from the fingers, then one can count all the way from 1 up to 99. One may even go further but if I do so you will say I am becoming like I was on the top of the omnibus on that famous occasion! Anyhow I don’t think you will mind this little digression. Perhaps you will be able to work it out yourself!

Dearest how close we have been together all this month for all the physical barriers that have been between us. I have treasured your beautiful words about Whit Sunday in my heart & they have been a great joy to me. I have thought very much about you and shall be thinking of you so in the next few days, but they will not be thoughts of anxiety but of confidence & assurance. You well know that my spirit is behind yours sustaining you in all that you do, & I know & have the certainty that your spirit is behind mine; & so together we are very strong.

Dearest the sun is shining brilliantly, it is a gorgeous & magnificent day! I am full of radiant life.

My very great love to you

Your husband.

P.S Your dear delightful letter has just come; you seem to have been able to write a day earlier than me. I have read it through with such pleasure & shall read it and reread it many times; but I am so anxious to get this off without any delay so that you may have it soon. Blessings on you for all your dear words. Ever thine

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One folded sheet. At the head is printed, ‘In replying to this letter, please write on the envelope:— Number 7294 Name Lawrence F W. 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} Garibaldi’s Defence of the Roman Republic, by George Macaulay Trevelyan (1907), the first book of a trilogy which also comprised Garibaldi and the Thousand (1909), and Garibaldi and the Making of Italy (1911).

{2} Probably The Memoirs of Francesco Crispi (2 vols., 1912).

{3} A Short History of the English People, by J. R. Green, first published in 1874, or perhaps his expanded History of the English People (4 vols., 1878–80).

{4} The Life of John Henry, Cardinal Newman, by Wilfrid Ward (2 vols., 1912).

{5} Pêcheur d’Islande (An Iceland Fisherman), by Pierre Loti (1886).

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 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.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Biography of Mrs Pethick Lawrence

Mrs Pethick Lawrence realised when quite a child the very deplorable position of unprotected women in this country[,] especially those who belong to the working class. Upon the completion of her education she offered her services to the West London Mission then controlled by the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes and became one of the “sisters of the people”. She helped to found and organise the Esperance Club for working girls which has since established a reputation all over the country for its revival of folk dance and song.

Incidentally she had to do with many sad and difficult cases of human misery and she was often appealed to by the police on behalf of unfortunate women. In connection with these cases she attended Police Courts and became responsible to the magistrate for the woman prisoner in the dock.

After five years work in the West London Mission she went to live in a block of artisan buildings and tried the experiment of how much a working girl could live upon. She decided that the minimum was 15/– a week, whereupon she started with her friend Miss Mary Neal a co-operative dress-making establishment which paid its workers a miminim† wage of 15/– a week for an eight hour’s day. Several other schemes have been launched with her co-operation, including a holiday hotel for working girls at Littlehampton. Her marriage in 1901 did not put an end to any of these interests and the last twenty-two years of her life have been devoted to the social service of the community.

But every attempt at social and economic reform only drove more deeply home her conviction that so long as women were politically outside the pale of citizenship, the necessary leverage to life {1} working women and girls out of the morass was lacking.

In 1906 she became the first National Treasurer of the Women’s Social and Political Union. In the October of that year she suffered imprisonment for taking part in a protest in the lobby of the House of Commons. In 1909 she was arrested for leading a deputation for the purpose of presenting a Petition to the Prime Minister. In 1911 she was again imprisoned for a repetition of this offence. In 1912 she was arrested on a charge of Conspiracy and sentenced to imprisonment. On this occasion she adopted the Hunger Strike as a protest against the prison treatment and was forcibly fed. In the October of that year she was requested by Mrs Pankhurst to resign from the W.S.P.U. as Mrs Pankhurst had decided upon a development of the militant policy and did not want to be hampered by a Committee.

Great pressure was put upon Mrs Pethick Lawrence to found another Suffrage Organisation. To this she responded by forming the “Votes for Women” Fellowship—not a Suffrage Society, but an association of co-workers and Fellows to further a common enterprise, namely the establishment of the paper “Votes for Women” as the expression of the Suffrage Movement in its wide catholicity of ideal and purpose.

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Carbon copy of a typed original. ‘About 1912’ has been added at the top of the first sheet by hand, as well as the file number ‘2069’.

{1} A slip for ‘lift’.

† Sic.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

(Carbon copy.)

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Transcript

Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence is of Celtic stock. Her forbears lived in Cornwall[,] the rock-bound peninsular to which in ancient days came the intrepid Phoenician mariners to mingle their blood with the aboriginal inhabitants. But her father, a Bristol merchant, made his house in Weston-super-mare and she herself responded to the call to come to London to be a “Sister” in the West London Mission under Hugh Price Hughes and Mark Guy Pearse.

It was not until she was nearly 40 years of age that the little band of militant suffragettes unfurled their banner of revolt and at Keir Hardie’s suggestion sought her help. In a spirit of dedication she yielded to the entreaties of Annie Kenney[,] the mill girl who had come from Lancashire with £5 in her pocket “to rouse London”.

Her Cornish love of freedom, her passionate anger at injustice, her sense of shame at the humiliating status of women, her desire to befriend the weak and oppressed all combined to force this choice upon her. She consented to become the treasurer of the new movement. Instinctively she realised that she was setting her foot upon an uncharted path. But she certainly could not have forseen† into what strange and unconventional ways it would lead her.

In fact she was on seven separate occasions to see the inside of His Majesty’s prison. She was to go through the hunger strike and to suffer the painful indignity of forcible feeding. As a treasurer she was to raise a campaign fund of over a quarter of a million pounds and to become known as the most seductive beggar in London. In all this she was sustained by a strong inner sense of mission; and she was fortunate in having what was denied to many others of the suffragettes[,] the active support of her men folk—her father, her husband and other relatives and friends.

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The file number ‘2069’ has been written at the top of the first sheet in pencil.

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

2 Currie Street, Nine Elms.—2 Currie Street, Nine Elms.—Asks to be on the platform of the rally at Hyde Park (concluding the Great Pilgrimage of suffragists), and comments on the action of Miss Davison.

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Transcript

2 Currie St | Nine Elms
7th July 1913

My dear Mrs Pethick Lawce†,

I see that you are holding your meeting in Hyde Park on Sunday {1} at 5. p.m.

I am going to Kingston in the evening, so I can only be with you for a short time; but I should like to be on your platform if you will have me, for a few minutes.

I do feel so keenly the injustice of the Government, and your husband’s courage in fighting it out.

Poor Miss Davison! What a wonderful action! Alas! that women should be sacrificed in this terrible way.

I hope you are keeping well[.] My love to you

Yours affectionately
C. Despard

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{1} 26th. The reference is to the rally which concluded the Great Pilgrimage of suffragists.

† Sic.

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Brackenhill, Highland Road, Bromley, Kent.—Has transferred her platform ticket for Wednesday to Miss Underwood, as she is busy looking after Mrs Harvey.

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Transcript

Brackenhill, Highland Road, Bromley, Kent
14th Octr 1913

Dear Mrs Pethick Lawrence.

I thank you very heartily for the platform-ticket for Wednesday {1} which followed me to Harrogate.

I waited until my return home to see our people. I am sorry to say that I cannot be present. I am giving every moment of spare time to Mrs Harvey, who is still in bed. I have to go to Edinburgh on Friday.

But our Miss Underwood will greatly enjoy being present, so I hand the ticket to her.

With all my heart I wish you success.

It was so good of you to be with us on Tuesday. I greatly enjoyed your speech.

Yours affec[tion]ately
C. Despard

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{1} 15th. The meeting referred to has not been identified.

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’.

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 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.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Biography of Mrs. Pethick Lawrence

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is known in many countries as a Feminist who played a leading part in the world-wide Suffrage Campaign before the War.

She often says she was born to take part in the great Movement of Thought, which in her life time has entirely transformed the Status of women in every sphere of life. At any rate she remembers that as a very young child, slighting references to women made carelessly, aroused in her a burning protest, and a desire to become their champion. This desire found outlet first in Social Service, including the founding (with Miss Mary Neal) of Maison Espérance—a Business for working girls with the 8 hours day—a minimum wage, and the many activities associated with it.

In the ear 1905 came the clarion call of the Militanti† Suffrage Movement. In 1906 Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence became Treasurer for the Campaign and during the next 6 years there was raised in one organisation, a fund of a Quarter of Millions {1} sterling.

Together with her husband she started the first Militant Suffrage Paper Votes for Women, which they carried on as co-Editors.

In 1908 she was arrested for attempting to speak in the Lobby of the House of Commons, after the refusal of the Government to receive a Deputation of Women (that had come to put their case) had been announced to them by the Police. Subsequently she was arrested twice for leading a Deputation to Parliament, and once under the old Conspiracy laws. In the latter case she was sentenced to 9 months and placed in the 1st division. The majority of her fellow suffragists in prison were not accorded the same treatment as political prisoners. They protested by the Hunger Strike, and she made common cause with them, was forcibly fed and subsequently released, having served five weeks of the 9 months sentence.

In the Autumn of 1914 a cable summoned her to New York to address a vast Suffrage Meeting in the Carnegie Hall. On that occasion she helped to inaugurate the campaign which two years later led to the political enfranchisement of the women of the State. Further she called up {2} the Women of America (this the greatest of the neutral Powers) not to become obsessed by the War spirit but to combine their allegiance to the principle of arbitration and to work for a real settlement rather than a fight to the finish. She travelled from the East to the West of America, speaking everywhere of the Solidarity of women as the Mothers of the human race and therefore the {3} natural Peacemakers. As a result of her campaign the Women[’]s Peace Party (afterwards the American Section of the Women’s International League) was formed {4} with Jane Addams as its president, and the two women sailed with fifty American delegates to take part in an International Conference of Women held at the Hague in April 1915. It will be remembered that this Congress representing 16 nations was unanimous in urging a Peace by Negotiation, and that a delegation appointed at the Hague was received by several Chancellors in Europe, by the President of the Swiss Republic and by the United States; it was also received by the Pope. On behalf of the women of the world this delegation pleaded for a continuous Council of Mediation and Reconciliation to be formed by the Neutral States, in order to conduct negotiations between the warring Powers, and if possible secure an understanding and a[n] agreement which would avoid a fight to the finish and its consequent devastation of the whole of Europe.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence has continued up to the present moment to work towards the Removal of all legal Restrictions upon the equality and freedom of the sexes, also towards and for the practical realization of the solidarity of the Human race (rooted in the Solidarity of women of all races as political {5} Mothers) which demands the abolition of Poverty and War.

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Carbon copy of a typed original, corrected by hand. ‘? About 1920’ has been added by hand at the top of the first sheet. A few mistypings which are not easy to represent in print or describe briefly have been corrected, as noted below.

{1} ‘of Millions’ mistyped.

{2} Perhaps a slip for ‘upon’.

{3} Mistyped.

{4} Altered from, or to, ‘founded’.

{5} Altered from ‘potential’.

† Sic.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Ranchi’.—Describes his and his wife’s journey by ship from Marseilles as far as Crete.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original. Subjoined is the text of a telegram dated 5 Nov.)

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Transcript

P & O. S. N. Co. | S. S. Ranchi
The last day to Port Said, October 26th, 1[926]

A deep blue sea, with tiny dancing waves is all around the ship as I write. The sun is exceptionally hot for this part of the voyage and the shade temperature has been close on 80º for the last couple of days. The time since we reached Marseilles has passed along very pleas[ant]ly and very rapidly.

The ship did not start till late Friday night so we spent the afternoo[n] of that day walking about in Marseilles in a park by the sea and climbin[g] by the funicular to the golden Virgin on the hill.

All Friday night the mails were coming on board and it was 5 a.m. before we actually left the harbour. But the French coast was still plainly visible when we got up and for some hours afterwards. By midday there was nothing to be seen but ocean.

The first two days of the trip were a bit choppy and the lethargy o[f] the beginning of a voyage with the bromide of the sea made us sleepy and a little headachy; our cabin on the bottom deck with its port hole closed would have been unbearable but for delicious draughts of fresh air that were poured in continuously just over our berths by a special ventilating apparatus.

We speedily found several people we knew on board and made the acquai[n]tance of several more. Curiously enough they are all judges in India. One (Blackwell) has played tennis with me in the Inner Temple, another (Rankin) was at Trinity with me, and is now Chief Justice in Calcutta. Blackwell and his wife are going out to Bombay for the first time and have invited us to stay with them on our return there. They also introduced us to Mr. Justice Crump and his wife with whom we played Bridge last night. Still another Judge, an Indian, Sir C Ghose, is on board with his wife returning after a visit to Europe; he is a friend of Bose, and was in England during the suffragette campaign and attended some of the meetings.

We passed through the Straits of Bonifacio (between Corsica and Sardinia) after dark on Saturday evening and saw nothing but the intermittent lights of the lighthouse. We were more fortunate on Sunday. Two thirty in the afternoon saw us opposite the volcanic island of Stromboli with its crater emitting smoke; quite a large village is gathered at its foot with a population that I am told lives by fishing. Another hour and a half brought us in sight of Sicily and we ran into the narrow Straits of Messina before darkness came upon us. Avoiding the fierce promontory of “Scylla” on the Italian coast, and the treacherous whirlpool of “Charybdis” on the Sicilian side, we steamed on past Messina now fully lighted up, and the wonderful illuminated promenade of Italian Reggio and so out into the open sea once more.

Another 24 hours brought us to the lighthouse on Crete and that on the island of Gaydo just south of the larger island. We are due at Port Said before day-break on Wednesday, October 27th.

We have already had a dance on board and several games; and a sports committee has been formed of which I am a member. After Port Said they will put up more awnings and players will not be subject to the fierce sun. We are due at Bombay on Friday morning November 5th. Our address while in India will be c/o Thos. Cook and Son, Bombay.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

P.S. Cable received from Bombay, 5th. November, 1926, as follows:

“Arrived safely after a calm journey. Both well. Made several friends and enjoyed the dances on board.”

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The right-hand side of the text has missed the paper. The missing letters have been supplied in square brackets.

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