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Letter from Henry D. Harben to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Flat 5, 1 Hyde Park Street, W.2
13/9/61

Dear Lady Pethick Lawrence.…

I feel I must write to you about the loss of your husband, which must have been a great sorrow to you; & to assure you of our real sympathy during this week. To me it came as a great shock, as I had not even heard he was ill. He was probably my very oldest friend, & I had known him for well over 70 years. He was Captain of the Oppidans when I was at Eton & though (being much younger than he) I hardly knew him then, we did meet personally several times, because a) we both frequented the School Library, and b) we were both members of the Literary Society. Our real friendship began during the first decade of this century, as I was a great supporter of women’s suffrage & gave large sums to his collections, & also went to prison in 1914. Since then Emmeline & he were among my very dearest friends; we stayed with them when they lived in Holmwood—they stayed with us in Buckinghamshire—& more recently he frequently dined with us in town, & we used often to lunch at the House of Lords. I shall miss him more than I can say, & this week I have thought of little else. His was a very noble mind, & though he never was as far left as I am, it was always a joy & privilege to discuss real questions with him especially economics, which so few of the Labour Party leaders really understand. I was one of the original governors of the London School of Economics, which I helped Sidney Webb to found—so, as well as the Suffrage, we had all that in common.… I remember we dined together the night before he left for India on his great mission, & he said words that I shall never forget. “You & I have both fought for Freedom all our lives; to-morrow I am going to give Freedom to 400 million people.” Dear, dear Fred—his splendid brain, his modest retiring manner, his absolute integrity, were a combination that I have never met in anyone else. God rest his Soul! … Please forgive my unburdening my feelings to you for once

Yours sincerely & affectionately
Henry D. Harben

I need hardly say Miss Mulock joins me in all our feelings of sympathy & friendship to you.

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

[Folkestone.]—Expresses his love for her, after a day of restful pleasure.

[In the train from Folkestone to Dover.] The weather prevented them from walking to to St Margaret’s Bay, so they walked to Dover instead. ‘We have been wonderfully good in keeping off the suffrage, but I made a few plans this morning.’

(Letter-head of 87 Clement’s Inn, W.C.)

Letter from Rupert Mayne to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

Caltex House, Ballard Estate, Bombay.—Introduces himself as the nephew of the late General Sir Mosley Mayne, a former adviser to Pethick-Lawrence at the India Office. Would like to meet him during his visit to Bombay.

Letter from F. W. Lawrence to Edwin Lawrence

Calcutta.—Congratulates him on his baronetcy. Describes his stay at Muzaffarpur, and refers to his plans to observe the eclipse.

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Address c/o Thos Cook & Son
Bombay

Calcutta
Jany 5 98

My dear Uncle.

Hurrah! Just received your telegram & sent off mine. Bravo! Delightful news! I am ashamed to say I had not seen anything of it until I found your wire awaiting me here. I won’t try & put into words the sentiment all must feel, how well it is merited.

In your telegram as it reached me were the words “wire health” so in my reply I have said “excellent health”. I hope this doesn’t mean Harry has got one of his depressed fits on.

In point of fact I am particularly well & the climate at this time of year is delightful, just like an English September at its best, only the sun is rather hotter in the middle of the day.

Very many thanks for all your greetings for Xmas birthday and the New Year; I expect I shall get your special Xmas card in a few days; letters take some time because they go across to Madras first & then come nearly back again & up here, you will see from the heading of this letter that it will be better for them to be forwarded on direct from Bombay when they arrive.

I have written Dora a letter in answer to hers {1}, you will see from that that I have been spending 10 days with W. S. Adie at Mozuffapore which is about 200 miles from here, and to get there one has to cross the Ganges in a steamer. Mozuffapore is quite a large station (some 50 to a hundred Europeans) and I played lawn tennis, racquets & billiards & watched Adie playing polo nearly every day. Then on Xmas day we went to dine with the Collector (head magistrate) and on the Monday following we had a jolly little dance there. Altogether I got to know nearly all the people there & I shall probably go up again 23rd–28th inst when the special Mozuffapore week is on. The station is the centre of indigo planting, & I went over & spent 2 nights with an old Cambridge man who runs a factory. There is nothing going on now, as the indigo is not sown till March, but I saw over the factory, & looked at the fields—all as smooth as a billiard table—& learnt something about the curious sort of life the planter leads. The coolie who works in the fields gets something less than a penny a day.

Everyone here has a servant who looks after things; I have just got one at Cooks, and I have gone with him through all my clothes (I have left my big trunk behind with Campbell); he speaks English which is a blessing & I hope he will prove fairly honest. They are very serviceable when one is travelling, but if one lived very long in this country I am afraid they would make one lazy, as they take off one’s boots for one etc, they also wait at table wherever one is.

Tante asks from where I am going to see the eclipse; to tell the truth I don’t really know, possibly it will be from Buxar where the Bengal Astronomers are going, possibly a little further South where I think Christie & Dr Common are.

I have presented my letters of introduction to the Viceroy & his secretary, & I am going to the Ball to-morrow night, & to an Evening Party next week, & I shall probably see most of Calcutta there.

One more hurrah for yourself, love to Tante (I thought I would wait to write to her till later) & renewed kisses to Dora,

Your affectionate Nephew
Fredk W Lawrence

I have endorsed & returned chq to Sharpe

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{1} This has not survived.

Extracts from a letter from L. V. (?) Barrett to Lady Betty Balfour

6 De Vesci Terrace, Kingstown, Co. Dublin.—Explains why she urged Lady Constance Lytton to oppose militant action by suffragettes.

(Marked ‘Copy’ and ‘Extracts’. Annotated by the recipient. The initials of the signature are transcribed as ‘L. V.’, but query whether the writer was Rosa Mary Barrett.)

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Transcript

COPY
Extracts.

6, De Vesci Terrace | Kingstown Co. Dublin. Jan 13. 1912

(From a Snobby suffragist: the pencil comments are Betty’s)

Dear Lady Betty Balfour,

I had today a long letter from your sister Lady Constance, it was most kind of her to write & I fear I hurt her feelings by asking her to use her influence at this critical moment in the cause of the suffrage, by discountenancing such scenes as at the City Temple or raids on shops in the Strand etc. I know what damage to the cause has been done by these things, & as one who has worked & fought for women’s suffrage for 30 years {1} I feel the greatest discretion & wise counsel is now necessary. I have such an intense admiration for yr sister & her heroism {2} that it pains me to differ from her. Of course I may be wrong but men do feel very differently to women on this action of the Women’s Social & Pol. Union

Yrs v. sincerely
L. V. Barrett {3}

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{1} Interlined in pencil: ‘greatest justification of militancy I have said’.

{2} Interlined in pencil: ‘I sd Why for her & not all the militants’.

{3} The closing salutation and name are at the head of the sheet.

Letter from Joseph Phillips to Alfred Lawrence

Newark.—Is sorry he was away when Lawrence was at Birmingham. Discusses his work on the Newark bridge and his relations with his colleagues, and refers to his travels around the country. Asks how Lawrence is getting on with his factory. The masters were unwise to close their works in response to the strike.

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Newark.
24th January 1852

My dear Lawrence,

Your letter from Chester dated the 21st only reached me this morning, what a pity you should go to Birmingham and find me absent, doubtless you have felt somewhat disappointed.—I have been quite out of temper abt it all day.—Spiers was more fortunate in his visit to me here, & we spent a very pleasant evening together talking upon all sorts of subjects interspersed by a sprinkling of scandal of all our Friends & one or two in particular their doings & their folly!—I wish you had come on here and spent the Sunday {1} with me, that would have been your proper course of action & to say the truth when I heard a double knock just now & somebody ask if Mr. Phillips was at home, I half expected to see you walk in,—but it was only the resident Engineer of the Gt Northern line who came to ask me to dine with him tomorrow, & so my hopes of seeing you & my chance of getting my respected Umbrella back (an article of wh I am greatly in want of here) were completely crushed.—N’importe, I’ll make amends some other day at the present moment my feelings will not allow me to say more upon such a tender subject.

You are aware I have been fortunate enough to get the superintendance of this Newark Bridge and as it is of 260 ft span & contains upwards of 600 Tons of Iron it may be considered rather a crack job to have. Hitherto I have had the whole management of it at the Works, & here have been engaged in preparing the scaffolding & staging across the river for it to be erected upon, & which I can assure you is no little matter.

Pile driving at the best of times is not very delightful work but in the midst of Winter with such weather as we have had it has been really arduous. Snow, Wind, Rain & floods have all combined to hinder our progress so that, between the one & the other & the hostility of all the Bargemen navigating the river I have had enough to do, indeed Lawrence,—the cold blooded brutality of those Bargemen have nearly at times maddened me, the contempt they express for my person & for all them damned Railway people who stop an honest Man getting his livelihood, as they inform me all railway people do, is dreadful, & the most courteous salutation as they pass is to consign us all to the devil.—One morning I had 3 Piles, ea one representing a days Work for a gang of 8 Men completely shattered to atoms by a vessel either on purpose or by clumsyness, & to hear the fiendish shouts of laughter which burst forth from the crew as the vessel came smashing & crashing amongst our piles would have made yr heart ache Lawrence, as for me I have been for the last 2 Weeks quite hoarse with shouting & stiff in every limb from making frantic gestures indicative of my displeasure, at their obstinate conduct. I summoned a whole gang of them & got two fired & now am allowed to proceed in peace, but of course this measure has raised the hostility of the Trent Navigation Cy., before whom these Bargemen tell of their injuries, & I am threatened by the board with no end of damages for obstructing, during several days the navigation of the River, there are 6 sheets of Foolscap full of it, but I have not even looked into & don’t intend.—

These are my difficulties here, & then although this Bridge has been dawdling for months when our firm wished it pushed on, the Company have suddenly found out it is the only thing which delays the opening of the line thro,—& so Cubitt keeps bullying our people & they transmit his letters with sundry additions continually to me, & always requesting a very full report of the whole state of the Work by return of post.—

The last 3 days it has been blowing a perfect Gale & today is accompanied by torrents of rain so that [it] {2} is impossible to work; owing to the floods & the rapid stream caused thereby the rafts on wh are the Pile Engines are always under water at the best of times, the worst of the work is however not done & on Tuesday I expect to return to Birmingham for abt 10 days to superintend the proving of the Span of the Bridge now erected at the Works, & at which no end of Engineers are to be present.—Joseph Cubitt the Engineer of the line I like very much I have seen a good deal of him, as I conducted all the previous Experiments at the Works, both he & Fox always shake hands with me, wh although nothing abstractedly considered, is more pleasant than being snubbed, as I have upon some occasions felt myself by certain parties, nameless.—I fear you will think me very egotistical but really I have nothing but myself & my Work to talk of. I have not met an adventure for Months a very striking Circumstance & particularly denoting the absence of all female attractions &c in this part,—for the bye I did fall in love at Hull abt 6 Weeks ago, but it [was] {3} so long ago I had forgotten it. I did pay another visit there last Week but my inamorata {4} was not at home,—perhaps You may know the people The Messs Wade, Timber Merchants of Hull. I have bought all the Timber for this Bridge of them & went there to select it & agree abt the price, & whilst with them they entertained me with true Yorkshire hospitality, & one of the daughters is sweetly pretty.—

This Newark during the Winter is a wretched hole unless one has time & money for shooting, hunting, & visiting but the Town itself is remarkably slow, there are only 3 good things in the place, the Inn, the Church, & the library & newspaper room,—at the first of these I was so comfortable I stopped a fortnight, & the second I visited once, last Sunday, & the third I generally look into ea day,—as I am made an honorary member during my stay here,—which speaks more for the good sense of the inhabitants of the place than any other argument I could adduce.—

I like Lincoln very much, all Cathedral Towns have an air of respectability abt them, wh most Manufacturing towns are in in† want of, there are too lots of pretty girls & some little fun usually going on. The Gt Northern Hotel you will find, one of the best Houses in the Kingdom—& well appointed.—You do not tell me whether you have seen anything of Chester. I have always heard it spoken of as such a romantic old place that I have quite a desire to see it. Albert Smith I think speaks of it in one of his Works.—

How do you get on with your Factory? & are you fully at work?—all this I suppose you meant to form the topics of our Conversation at Birmingham.—I trust however you will let me know. I really am ashamed of my great negligence towards you, in not writing, making resolutions is you know in such cases usually of little consequence but really I will try to be better in future, & for my excuse hitherto you must bear in mind that I have worked harder this last 6 Months than ever I did in my life—you think, I might easily do that & without injuring myself?—Possibly so, but still I have really fagged—I wanted to get this Bridge & I had a good many competitors.—I am more fitted for out door Work than the office, and would rather meet tenfold greater difficulties, than those I have even enumerated before,—than be compelled to office Work, & in which I fear I should never particularly shine.—As it is here I am tolerably my own Master and do as I please. I suppose too by time the Bridge is finished I shall have become acquainted with most of the people round, as it is at present I only know the Engineer I dine with tomorrow what we shall do if it is a day like this has been I know not,—probably amuse ourselves by making faces at each other all the Afternoon.—You ask me what I think of the Strike,—perfectly agree with the Masters, but think they have not acted wisely in closing their Works.—To have let those Work who would & even to have taken on unskilled hands and taught them their trade, would in my opinion have done far more to have annihilated the amalgamated Society & with much less injury to the Masters than the closing their works,—for in the course of a few Months the men who held out would have found themselves supplanted by a fresh race, & thrown upon the trade as supernumerary hands—whilst the Shop being open would have afforded them a good opportunity of gradually going to work, & that way in my opinion the society would soon have lost the bulk of its members—As regards the expediency of certain friends of ours closing their Works, it appears to me the most absurd & suicidal plan wh could have been adopted, & my own idea is, they will find to their Cost they have been entirely duped, & that vanity & a love of meddling has urged them upon a course of which they know not the consequences.—Well I am sure I must be boring you with this insensate epistle & so I will say adieu,—& hoping to hear from you soon & with kind remembrances to your family,

Believe me,

Ever yr attached Friend
Joseph Phillips

P.S.—You are far behindhand in your address to me at Birmingham, I left there Months ago, ever since the woman cried into my vegetable dish because I spoke crossly whilst bringing the dinner one Sunday.—My present address there is | 21 George St. | Spring Hill.—

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{1} 21 January.

{2} Omitted by mistake.

{3} Omitted by mistake.

{4} This is evidently the word intended, but the spelling is unclear.

† Sic.

Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Walter Nash

11 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London, W.C.2.—11 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London, W.C.2.—Sets out his view of the present state of the Labour Party (see 3/6), and extracts part of a recent article in which he urged the party to deal with particular issues rather than debate the merits of its left and right wings.

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11, Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London, W.C.2. 23rd. June 1955.

Dear Nash,

Thank you very much for your cordial air letter of the 13th inst.,† I am not quite clear what it is precisely that you want me to tell you about the Labour Party, but I will give you my candid and confidential opinion. I think the Labour Party failed at the General Election to rouse enough enthusiasm for its policy to bring doubtful voters to the poll to support its candidates, also the admitted differences between leading figures sowed a certain amount of confusion.

I have just written an article for the July issue of the Contemporary Review in the course of which I say

“. . . . Some people may take the view that it should go more “left” and others that it should go more “right”. I agree with neither. In my view both wings of a progressive party are needed if it is to go forward successfully. What I regard as essential is that it should drop its shibboleths and face up realistically to the problems of modern life. It must be prepared to deal positively with such things as the rent muddle and house dilapidation, the wage structure and the question of differentials, the free-enterprise sector of the national economy and the profit motive, education and the so-called public schools, restrictive practices in industry both by masters and men. If it is prepared to tackle all these and similar problems boldly and effectively it will earn the respect of the thinking minds in all classes of society. . . . .”

With regard to the personal differences in the Party I gather that Attlee is now acceptable to all concerned and that the divergence is between Bevan, on the one hand, and Morrison and Gaitskell on the other. This divergence is partly political and partly a struggle for pre-eminence after Attlee goes.
I doubt whether this fully answers your question in the way you want, but if you desire more detailed information and will explain to me exactly what you want, I will endeavour to supply it.

With all good wishes,
I remain,
[blank]

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† Sic.

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