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Circular letter by F. W. Lawrence

Account of a journey via Brisbane, Townsville, Thursday Island, Hong Kong, Canton, Hong Kong and Kowloon, Amoy, and Shanghai.

(A continuation of 5/30e. Identified in the first sentence as the writer’s ‘sixth encyclical’. This letter was begun after Lawrence’s departure from Hong Kong and probably completed before his arrival at Nagasaki.)



The Southern Sun is shining on the China sea, as with a gentle breeze on the “Belgic” {1} I start to write my sixth encyclical.

A vast rush of impressions & experiences crowded into a brief space of time, are beginning to sort themselves out & take distinct shape in my mind, so that I hope to be able to present them to you in something other than a confused jumble; & at the same time to portray oriental existence freed from the unnatural tint of rapidity which the spectacles of the globe trotter impress upon it.

But I cannot pass over without some description the days which were spent on board the Omi Maru on the way up from Brisbane to Hong Kong. I think I told you that we were to get away by the tender at 8 o’clock in the morning to go down the river; so making an early breakfast we got on board & steamed slowly down. At last after 4 hours we came in sight of the Omi right out at sea {2}, & were not altogether pleased to learn that after being prevented from spending the morning in Brisbane we were not to get really off till dawn of the following day. However on arrival on board we were gratified to find that all our belongings—trunks, bags, bundles, books, bicycle, chairs & table—had been duly deposited there in accordance with the mighty swears we had exacted from all concerned in Sydney, & we settled ourselves down, undepressed, to an afternoon of quoits & reading.

The number of passengers including ourselves were only just able to reach into double figures {3}, & of these, 3 were to leave us at Thursday Island; the remainder were capable of classification in a great many ways: thus we were, 3 from S. Africa, 2 from Melbourne, 2 from England; 4 women & 3 men; 3 invalids, 3 nurses and a supernumerary. Perhaps you are at a loss for a moment to see how Percy & I figure in this last numeration, but a recollection of his fondness for break downs will not leave you long in doubt; I always say when I see him racing up hill at a break neck speed that the only thing he retains is a “good heart”.

The first week of our voyage was spent in getting up to Thursday Island; & we kept land in sight nearly all the way. Right out to sea was the great barrier reef, too far away to be visible; but every now & again the ship passed groups of islands on either side. We had a Pilot on board, a grumpy old man, very cautious in his old age, who used to insist upon anchoring nearly every night owing to the narrowness of the channel. A stern breeze (ie a breeze from the stern) assisted the movement of the ship & made our “aft” accomodation† a blessing rather than the reverse.

Every day was very much like its fellow; still not hot enough to have to make one’s bed on deck, a comfortable sleep in our “spacious” cabin could be enjoyed right up till breakfast time, when the Japanese Stewards attended to our requirements after their own peculiar manner. Then would come reading from the library which Percy & I—in our forethought—had brought on board, perhaps a German exercise, & the diurnal contests at Quoits—Percy v self, Percy v “Jim”, “Jim” v self—always ending in a double victory for the Champion, Percy. So would come lunch, & a repetition of events with a pleasant tea on deck; darkness, dinner, a talk with the Captain {4}, dreaminess, & bed.

In the midst of this, Townsville as a diversion.

[7 July] Off in a launch to shore, after an early tea. Would like to “get our hairs cut” but Thursday afternoon is barber’s holiday, so cannot be; fine hill overlooking the harbour, must mount to the top. 1800 feet a good climb for Latitude 16 but not impossible, & magnificent view of land & sea amply repays the effort. Scramble down again to the Queen’s hotel in the speedy gloom of evening, sit in the tropical verandah, dine pleasantly off “land” food with “grenadilloes” {5} for dessert, a quiet smoke, a “hundred up” in 20 minutes & so catch the launch back to the ship, before long to sleep in spite of the continuous disturbance produced by lading. A seagoer’s holiday!

But in the morning the ship is under way again, & the diurnal recreations pursue their course with unaltered regularity; nevertheless it begins to get warmer, & though the Punkah still remains inert, a doubled awning protects the deck. To take “early tea” & get up an hour before breakfast becomes a more reasonable course to pursue; while “flannels” give place to “cottons”, & redundant clothing is altogether discarded. And so the few remaining days go by till [11 July] Thursday Island is reached {6}. Here I go ashore alone to see the sights of the place; & find a wonderfully cosmopolitan town.

Townsville had been interesting as a place well within the boundary of the tropics & yet inhabited almost entirely by the white race; Thursday Island presented an utterly different appearance,—Japanese, Chinese, Philipinos† & multitudes of other races all unite with the Australian to make up the 2000 of its inhabitants, to work its pearl fisheries & to carry on the shipping trade of the most northerly Port of Australia. An hour on land & then back to the ship to sail for China & Japan, to cross once more the famous line.

And now we begin to be surrounded in real earnest by the essentials of the tropics; the warmth of the nights compels us to sleep on deck, the punkah in vain endeavours to cool our meal hours, while the all eternal peg slakes our oriental thirst. In the evening we all gather together & read the tales of “Many Cargoes” {7}, while the Captain listens with no feigned amusement. In the early mornings we stroll about in pyjamas on the deck or play leap frog with “Jim” & so at last come the dress & to breakfast & a short game of quoits, then the day begins to get hot (though the monsoon saves us from anything very severe) & we labour at peaceful occupations till the going down of the sun. Sometimes the Captain talks to us of Japan, sometimes “Jim” retails experiences for our amusement; sometimes we have much to gaze upon in the passing islands.

But who or what is “Jim”? Some six feet of untidiness, a pair of grey trousers braced over a flannel shirt, a pair of brown boots, a shockhead of hair surmounting a weather beaten countenance, 30 years of childlike simplicity combined with farming adroitness, is this all that is to be said of Jim? By no means; an Englishman of S. Africa covered with the veneer of the Dutch, intelligent, good natured, anxious to learn but uncertain what is knowledge; now add to all this a deep fraternal devotion to a consumptive sister obeying as a dog, commands from her or from her nurse, & you have nearly, but not quite, Jim.

Of his sister & her nurse there is not very much to tell, except that they were always having their port hole open & getting their cabin swamped. The 2 remaining passengers were sisters from Melbourne, who had a house there & another place in Tasmania; one of them was an invalid & nervous & so naturally quiet, the other posed as coming under the latter adjective. So we could not be said to have a wildly exciting time, still the days passed away very smoothly.

The boat, as you know, belonged to a Japanese Company, & the only Englishmen on board besides the passengers were the Captain Chief Officer & first engineer; the Captain was a jolly sort of fellow who used to invite us up on to the bridge whenever there was anything to see; we lent & gave him several books of our library & he in his turn added to our store. As for the rest of the officers we did not come much into contact with them. The stewards used to amuse us very much. All very little men, they used to bob & curtsey about whenever they did anything for us, & they used to make a good deal of difficulty in understanding; at the same time they took a lot of trouble to please. The Japanese sailors all looked like boys, but they were pretty sharp about their work & did whatever they were told. Since arriving in China we have heard many tales of difficulties arrising† on boats of this line between the Japanese Crews & English Captains who are said to be only nominally in charge, placed there to satisfy the requirements of the Insurance Companies; of course we don’t know how far these may be true or not, but for our own part we found everything very satisfactory, & aided by smooth weather we made an excellent passage.

We had hoped to get some sort of sight of Manilla, but 20 miles out at 8 o’clock at night does not conduce to much instruction, & ‘divil a bit’ of town of men or of ships did we come across. For all we learnt we might as well have been at the other end of the globe; far better indeed such position if it had been in connection with a telegraph wire.

And so island after island has been passed, & day by day it has grown warmer & warmer & now [21 July?] we were in the China sea on the eve of our arrival in Hong Kong {8}; no boisterous typhoon disturbs the tranquillity of our progress, while once again the Great Bear illumines the Northern sky. So have we come back Westward & Northward from the newest civilisation in the world to the oldest & most decayed. What though there be hundreds of millions of this old world race, is it not rather a trouble after our weeks of tranquillity to rush in amongst them? What can we hope to learn of them in afew† days of sojourn? (what indeed, though it were weeks or months, or years or lifetimes?) Had we not better save our energies for the sprightlier race that lives so close at hand, & turn upon this rabbit-like population a doubtful but unenquiring gaze?

And all the while, steadily but surely the Omi is ploughing her way towards the island of Hong Kong, though in the darkness of the night the myriad toilers of the land rest from their labours in peaceful dreamless sleep.

China at last.

Dawn is breaking in the East, the balmy dawn of the tropics; outside the harbour of Hong Kong is the Omi at anchor. But with daylight she is again under weigh, & we steam slowly through amid the great multitude of craft, past the great sugar works until we anchor again right over against the town.

I suppose the first thing which must strike anyone in seeing Hong Kong is the fact that [it] is all hills; only just along the very front is there anything like level ground, & even there, but a very narrow strip, so that men are endeavouring to reclaim from the sea what nature has denied them on the shore. A large part of the town is built up on the side of the hills, & to this must be added a little colony who live up on the “peak”; in order that they may be able to make an easy & rapid ascent a funicular railway has been built by which you can get up to the level of 1500 feet in about 7 minutes. This is a much more wonderful thing than the ordinary railway of the kind; for instead of a straight run up & a straight run down, it winds in and out & is sometimes steep & sometimes nearly level. Close to the upper terminus is the Peak Hotel which is largely patronised by residents, who gain in coolness of the atmosphere what they lose in convenience, & even seem to find little difficulty in running up there every day for lunch.

We however determined to patronise the Hong Kong hotel which is on the shore, & as we were right in the centre of things & very well looked after, we were glad we had done so. Landing in the hotel launch before breakfast, we found that the rainy season was now on which kept the whole place in an incessant state of moisture, so we promptly invested in suitable clothing of white cotton & found ourselves thoroughly repaid in comfort for having done so.

Nevertheless you may imagine that a continuous temperature of 81 & 82 in a stew bath is not particularly adapted to walking about; & after making the requisite enquiries about our journey on to Japan etc, we took greedily to the rickshaw as an easy, comfortable & inexpensive method of locomotion. We first went to see Mr Smith of Butterfield & Swire’s to whom I had a letter of introduction; he advised us to go away to Canton the same evening while the fine weather held out, & invited us to come up to lunch with him soon after our return. We next set off for a missionary {9} to whom Percy had a letter, & we were directed up the hill; for this the rickshaw is unsuited & we started off to walk, after a little I began to get exhausted & upon being continually pressed by Percy I subsided moist & sticky into a chair & consented to be carried in that, while he walked triumphant at the side. I may add here that this was the last occasion of his triumph, for ever afterwards he always proceeded in like fashion in going any considerable distance where the rickshaw is unable to proceed. By considerable distance I mean perhaps ½ a mile, & for this purpose you have 2 coolies, marvellously strong little chaps who, unlike the Swiss, carry the chair rods upon the shoulders, & so render the motion very steady; they have tremendous calves, &—like Percy himself in a cooler climate—will go up a steep hill at quite a rapid pace. The most picturesque thing about them, I should say, is their hats; in Hong Kong these are blue & of a pretty fair size, while in Canton they are of brown straw & about as big as a small umbrella; when they have them on, they look perfectly wonderful, & Percy & I used to meditate upon the effect in England of ourselves photographed with these environments. Alas we never quite brought ourselves to adopt the still more extraordinary locomotion which can be had in Shanghai; if we had done so, I am sure the mere convulsions of our laughter would have caused us to fall off the … the …. wheelbarrow. These extraordinary conveyances which are wheeled by a single man have on either side of the big wheel an arrangement like the knifeboard of an old fashioned omnibus—where bales can be put or people can sit—; factory girls make use of them in going to their work & as many as 8 or 9 have been counted on the same barrow! Percy himself saw as many as 5 people, & I have seen 4 large bales which I should estimate at little under 2 cwt each. [There follows a sketch of the vehicle in question.] I wish I could draw well enough to give you an idea of the thing in motion, but as I have not succeeded in drawing it correctly even at rest, that is out of the question. [There follows another sketch of the vehicle.] The man of course holds the 2 handles in his hands, but he has also a strap attached to them which goes over his shoulders; residents say the squeak of them coming along, is like the despairing cry of the dying pig; others explain that it is the manner in which a man can move the heaviest load.

Well ultimately after asking the way of nearly everyone we met, (quite a fatuous proceeding so far as the Chinese were concerned, especially as Percy always insisted on spelling the name of the street to those who did not understand) we reach our destination to find our friend out, but his wife at home; so after a short call we descended to the hotel & had lunch. The afternoon was spent in writing a few letters, & fetching the remainder of our luggage off the Omi; then we rickshawed down to the “night” boat to Canton, & were able to have a few words with Dr Pearce (the missionary) & his wife, who had come to see us off, before the boat started.

There were only 2 other first class passengers on board, both men, & one of them came up to me & said “Do you know if the plague is bad in Canton now” “No, but I suppose Europeans are immune as they are in Bombay” “Oh have you been in India?” “Yes I spend† some months there with friends from Trin Coll Camb” “Oh are you a Trinity man, so am I”. Then after a little more; “I think I have heard of you; did you not stop with Willis at Peradéniya, I was there a short time after you left, my name is Reynolds {10}.” And so we had a long talk about all sorts of things; & it turned out afterwards that the fourth passenger was from Magdalene Oxford.

At dinner the Captain told us a lot about the Chinese & about Canton in particular, he said he had some 800 Chinese on board then, & often had a good many more; as a rule they were a very peaceable set & gave no trouble at all; he recommended us to employ Wong Yew as guide on the morrow. [24 July.] At daybreak we were passing through the outlying districts of Canton, & at 6 o’clock we were made fast to the wharf; all around us, busy as bees were the floating population: now a junk with its huge rectilinear sail, now a sampan with father mother & children living their lives out upon it, now a mighty stern wheeler, with its paddle rotated by a hundred human feet—climbing climbing climbing from dawn till dark on each succeeding day—. How many think you, this river population? A few hundred? A few thousand? Try again: Put all the population of Oxford, & all the population of Cambridge, & hardly so will you have reached to the number of those who live & die in boats upon this river, this little part of the river where it flows past Canton.

Surely one might spend days gazing gazing upon this countless crew, & it is well that we have an hour at any rate to inspect; for Wong Yew has told us that, contrary to my expectation, it is better to wait till after breakfast to go ashore & view the city. At last at 8.30 we make a start, Wong Yew putting all of us & himself into chairs; he & Percy have 3 coolies each while Reynolds & myself have 4 each, being supposed—not without truth—to be heavier. [There follows a sketch of four coolies carrying, on poles, a man in a chair.]

And so we go away through the streets to inspect many different shops: who will ever be able to describe the streets to one who has not seen them? Narrow of course,—not wider than the pavement of an average London street—flagged, & often surmounted by a kind of matting to keep off the sun, they were bordered on either side by the “signs” of the shops; signs consisting of narrow vertical boards painted with chinese characters & bearing such inscriptions as “Honesty is the best Policy” & the like. Our method of procedure in single file did not admit of our putting questions, while we went along, to the guide; but everything on the route was of interest & all our senses except that of taste were called into play. Shops of all kinds we stopped to inspect, temples of Buddha, of Tao, of ancestors, the great Doctor temple & the temple of the Emperor, all these we beheld in their glory & decay; but ever to me the most interesting sight was the people, whether to watch the differing types of countenance, to note upon many the signs of culture & of intellectuality, whether to return the stare of the children gazing open mouthed at the foreignor†, or else to admire the skill of the chair coolies in getting round the narrow corners or in avoiding the basket carriers who everywhere abounded. [There follows a sketch of a person carrying two baskets on a pole.] Now & again a Chinese was having shaved the front of his head, or combing out his splendid raven hair, or plaiting it into the famous pigtail; occasionally a high class woman hobbling along on her feet or carried in her chair; but everywhere the incessant stream of human beings, men here & men there & a few women of the common rank with their smooth hair & their uncontorted feet showing bare beneath their trousers.

At last we mounted to the top of the 5 storeyed pagoda & seated at lunch we looked down upon the city; there spread out before us, seemed one continuous mass, filling an area perhaps hardly as large as Derby & yet containing nearly 2 million of living human souls. {11}

And so we came down & the tour of our inspection of the city was continued; one thing in especial we impressed upon our guide that we were anxious of beholding & that was the Examination Hall. At length we were within its classic walls; a long central pathway leads up from the gateway to the dais of the examiners & on either side are rows upon rows of tiny cells. Into one of these on the morning of the first day marches the candidate; his age is not limited by the Psalmist’s allotted span of life, no iron regulation determines the number of his possible attempts. He marches within, & straightway he is immured; from thenceforth no sound reaches his excited consciousness but the stealthy tread of the watchman. The fierce noontide of the hot summer’s day comes & goes, & finds his task but just begun; his daily allowance of food is lowered into his cell, & the lamp of evening has been lit, and still but a mere fragment of his dissertation has been completed. The night wears through, & another long day drags out its torrid course; perhaps he eats a little, perhaps he sleeps a little, perhaps in the excitement of his labour he forgets to do either. Again another night; will he survive another day? For a few more hours he must labour; & then as the sun sinks below the horizon the walls are pulled down, & from each cell there issues forth one bearing the fruit of his exertion,—from all save here a cell & there a cell whence comes no living form, but where there is seen the prostrate figure of what was once a man. So at length for all, the task is finished! For what is the prize awarded? For knowledge of the classics, for elegance of diction, for beauty of style; for everything—in which an essay on a set subject can excel—except for originality or for scientific knowledge. What is this prize which is so coveted a possession; which is one of the highest expressions of filial piety, which ennobles the whole backward pedigree? The prize is the admission of the candidate into the list of those who will become mandarins; & each year in Canton 50 or 60 (??) out of some 2000 competitors achieve the coveted distinction. Room there would be in the spacious “hall” for many many more to make the fateful endeavour, for it has been estimated that the total number of cells hardly falls short of 15 thousand!

As a matter of fact the word “hall”, hardly conveys the correct idea, for the place is quite open to the sky; & while we were there, down part of the long central Avenue, an examination in archery was being conducted. This is part of the examination for military mandarins; & 2 by 2 the students in gorgeous robes came forward upon the dais to fire off their three shots; whether the distance was greater than it appeared, or whether their bows were of a peculiarly awkward pattern, or finally whether the unseen presence of the boorish foreignor† exercised a mystic spell over their movements, I am unable to say, but in my immature judgment proficiency seemed to be remarkable by its absence. At length we had seen enough; & with mixed feelings we bade farewell to the most ancient relic of the system of competitive examination.

A few more shops of curios & another temple were to end our round of Canton; but last but not least we visited a pawnbroker’s. All over the city may be seen certain brick buildings towering up into the sky; 12 or 13 short storeys with narrow barred windows, in each storey stacks upon stacks of neatly tied up parcels with little wooden Chinese labels. Thus is the pawnbroker an institution as well recognised here as in the lands of the west; rules & regulations are very similar, but perhaps quite a large amount of the depositing is done with a view simply to placing the articles in safe custody.

The return to the boat about 4 o’clock in the afternoon concluded one of the hardest days of pure sight seeing I have ever “put in”; & a peaceful night on board, with many discussions upon diverse subjects brought us back [25 July] to Hong Kong. There we were now to remain several days, & in spite of a great deal of rain we were able to accomplish nearly everything we wanted.

One day we took tram up the peak & walked from the upper terminus to the top of the hill, from whence we got a magnificent view all round the island; the harbour is very grand & is capable of containing a large number of vessels simultaneously. To give some idea of the amount of shipping which passes through, it is perhaps worth while mentioning that on the day of our arrival, five boats of the P & O Company alone were riding there at anchor; & I have heard it said that Hong Kong stands second only to London in the quantity of its annual tonnage.

One day we crossed over to the mainland, & visited Kowloon, which, to the regret of everyone on the spot, the British government has left under Chinese jurisdiction while obtaining for England the fine piece of territory in which it is situated. One day Dr Pearce took us over the prison & showed us the Chinese prisoners under the supervision of English & Indian officials. Another day we went up to dinner with him & met a native Chinese doctor, who took us, later on, to a native theatre; we sat in seats upon the stage & were extremely interested both in the spectators & in the drama itself which the doctor was kind enough to explain to us. All the actors are men, but they manage to imitate women very cleverly, when required, both in voice & in their manner of walking; one of the several plays acted during the evening, described the attraction felt by a young lady for the scholar who was instructing her brother! The actors converse in the Mandarin dialect which must be unintelligible to quite a large portion of the audience; nevertheless as the plays run more or less upon fixed lines, they have no difficulty in following them, & scenes such as that in which the young lady titivates herself with a view of compelling the admiration of the scholar, are watched with keen delight.

Another day we went up with Mr Smith to lunch on the peak; from the top of tram line we took chairs to his house which we found very pleasant & cool. Then after lunch we descended in the same way walking down to his office from the foot of the line; in this manner the total time away from office can be reduced well within 2 hours. In the afternoon I went on to see over the greatest sugar factory in the world & was duly impressed.

Another day—I notice I have said this sometimes when it was really the same day—we went on to the Omi again for a short time to bid adiew† to our friends; we found all the passengers rather tired of staying in the harbour, some of them wishing that they had come ashore to a hotel, nevertheless they were looking forward to starting away for Japan the next day.

Another day we visited the “Happy Valley” where the remains of the English race who have died in this spot so far from home are laid at rest; perhaps in the care with which this is tended, if in this alone, the reserve sentiment of “l’Anglais phlegmatique” is attested.

So with one thing & another, not omitting the gentle game of pills at the hotel, our time at Hong Kong passed away; & we found ourselves once more upon a boat {12}, bound for Shanghai & Japan. Stopping for a short time at Amoy to take on a cargo of tea, we reached Shanghai after 3 days sailing, & were pleased to find that we were to have more than a whole day before it would be necessary to get away again; so we proceeded at once, in a manner characteristic of ourselves, to get a lot of information by going & calling upon different people. I hope to be able to narrate to you, presently, a few of the things we heard then & at other times, so as to give you a few ideas about the Chinese; but of course you will remember that they represent only the second hand opinions of a few people coupled with a very minute amount of direct observation, & as such are to be accepted with the greatest caution. Nevertheless as proof that some of what we gathered was good in its foundation, I may perhaps mention that a lady who had been a doctor in China for many years, & was discussing things Chinese with Percy for some time, said at length “you must have stayed a very long time in China”.

These last two sentences must be taken as as kind of interlude representing the time we spent in talking to people, before I mention the things we actually saw & did. Late in the afternoon of the day of our arrival, we went out to the Recreation Ground going by way of one of the principal streets (ie of the foreign settlement, of course); on the way we were very much interested in how things “went along”. Mentally I compared the place with the presidency towns of India; but there were many differences; in some cases Chinese ladies driving about in open carriages, as I only saw of the Parsees in Bombay; in one case I noticed a European coachman driving a couple of Chinese gentlemen; all along the route were Chinese men sitting in rows upon the balconies, watching the foreigner driving down at his accustomed hour to his athletics. Victorias, Dog Carts, bicycles, rickshaws, even Wheelbarrows jostled one another along the road; while occasionally one would catch a glimpse of the Chinese lady with her cramped up feet. At length we reached the recreation ground itself & were struck dumb with admiration; almost every form of athletics & recreation was there displayed; so that so far as I am aware the ground is absolutely unrivalled in the whole world. While we were there, cricket, lawn tennis, bowls[,] quoits, & other games were all going on, & in the winter some of these give place to football & other things; in addition to these all the paths make splendid bicycle tracks, & polo golf & base ball are constantly played. [The preceding sentence is written around a plan of the recreation ground.] The whole enclosure must be something like a hundred acres.

The next morning we started away for an inspection of the Chinese city under the guidance of Mr Box a Missionary; after strolling round a little way on the walls we descended & saw all manner of strange & wonderful things. Here was a temple with god & goddess before whom was spread out a repast of all kinds of real food; of course these are afterwards sold, & eaten by the people, reminding one of “meats offered to idols”. Here was the plaint of weeping women; “this”, said Mr Box, “must mean either a death or a family quarrel[”]. And sure enough as we got nearer we saw them burning the little paper house for the use of the dead man, & with it large masses of paper money made to imitate silver & copper; these with a real suit of clothes were all added to the conflagration. Many things we noticed similar to those we had seen in Canton, & in many cases we learnt their meaning for the first time; but perhaps the most interesting thing we did was to go up to tea in the “willow” tea house. Call up to your consciousness the willow pattern & put it into reality in your mind, then imagine Percy & myself existent there in the flesh, crossing the little bridge & mounting to the top of the little tea house! At first Box gave no sign of knowing the language; but when the proprietor tried to “do” us, he amused every one very much by quoting a Chinese proverb “It is good to skin the foreigner”. He afterwards had a long conversation with the man at the next table, introducing us as 2 scholars from England. At a Chinese tea house, you take neither sugar nor milk, & you pay so much for one “go” of tea; you can have this replenished with hot water as often as you like, & may stay there half the day if you are so minded; for my own part I found it very refreshing. So with interesting & delightful experiences—only marred by the mosquito—we spent our time in Shanghai, where—though there is no absolutely British concession—there are, I believe, more British & American residents than in Bombay or Madras or even in Hong Kong itself.

And now for a few words on China and the Chinese in general; let me take the following points in order:

The pig-tail. Somehow or other I always imagined the pigtail would be a very ugly thing; I was surprised therefore to find that in a great many cases it is really quite the reverse; Percy describes the Chinese “boys” on board the Belgic, with their glossy black pigtails hanging down over their blue blouses as “perfectly fascinating”. I was also under the impression that loss of pigtail in this life was supposed to imply loss of heaven in the next world; this too is quite erroneous, the only thing that it really brings is loss of “face” (which means something rather more than loss of dignity) & it is the greatest loss of “face” which a man can be subjected to; it is a curious custom, & in view of the fact that it is not many centuries ago that it was introduced, & was then a mark of servitude, it goes to show that the Chinese are not quite so slow to change as some people are wont to suppose.

People often get confused about the religion of the Chinese; in point of fact the great mass of them are Buddhists, Taoists, Ancestor worshippers & nature worshippers all combined and par excellence Confucianists. Few among the men would profess much about the former, but nearly all would admit themselves to be disciples of Confucius; & really they might do a great deal worse, for as a system of ethics, his teachings are admitted on all hands, to be of a very high order. What the missionaries aim largely at doing, is to supplant the superstitions of the other religions & particularly of Taoism, the practices of which are continued though there is little or no belief in them retained by the male portion of the population.—In this sentence I have considerably over-stated the position. This brings me as usual on to the inevitable subject of the missionary. Of course there are always objections raised everywhere, but so far as I could gather, the missionary in China is regarded with a good deal more favour by outsiders than he is in other places; in the first place he is almost the only one who is thoroughly conversant with the language, & he is prepared to do a great deal in addition to strictly evangelical work. Commercial men admit that he “opens up” the country; & newspaper men acknowledge the vast debt which they owe the missionary for the amount of news which he is willing to provide for them.

Moreover there are signs that the younger men, at any rate, are beginning to avoid preaching Christianity as the one inspired religion (I had almost said mythology) whose acceptance is a safeguard against all the evils of this world & the next; but instead, they are endeavouring to encourage education & to supplement the deficiencies of the Confucian system with the best parts of Christianity. If and so far as they do this, I believe they will receive support from the Chinese; & there is no reason why their influence should not be extremely beneficial. {13}

A very natural thing for me, was to attempt to compare the Chinese with the Indian, & in this I found a great number of interesting points of difference. Take for instance some of the small everyday matters:—in India it is a sign of great want of respect to a superior, if a man does not remove his shoes & stockings when he comes into your presence, in China it is exactly the reverse; in China head gear is hardly worn at all among the lower orders and where it is, it is merely a protection against the sun, which must be removed in the house, in India on the other hand, the turban is worn indoors as well as out. Then of course caste in any strict sense does not exist in China, & theoretically at any rate there is no reason why a man should not rise from the lowest position to high estate in the country. Turning to the poorest part of the population I was unable to learn of any one earning such small wages as I had observed in the Indigo districts of India (something under a penny a day for a man), but I do not think this at all proves that in out of the way districts there may not be Chinese Coolies earning this wage or even less. At the other end of the scale, Chinese merchants appear to be respected by every one, & their business honesty is world famous; in this way they are contrasted with the Japanese whose merchants are unfortunately regarded with considerable suspicion. {14} The Chinese mandarin is famous for his “squeezes” which spelt vulgarly amounts to nearly the same thing as “bribery & corruption”; defences are allowed to go to rack & ruin because the mandarin whose business it is to look after them, keeps most of the money, intended for the purpose, in his own pocket; the very shells for the guns are often purloined & sold, & dummies are put in their place, while the numbers of a garrison are rarely up to their correct figure in order that the mandarin may pocket the pay of the men who do not exist. The great mass of people, however, suffer very much less from the wholesale official corruption than might have been supposed; so far as the military mandarins are concerned the people care nothing for their military prestige, & even with the civil mandarins they come less into direct contact than might be supposed. Lawsuits they avoid except as a form of murder & suicide (cf Court of Chancery in England); & being of a peaceable nature they are little interfered with except in the matter of a somewhat excessive taxation which they have come to regard as normal.

The Chinese consider the foreigner as essentially a person of no manners; the same attitude in a more or less degree is held with regard to the European all through the East; & if one cannot help realising everywhere that it is true in part one is bound to acknowledge it more particularly in China. Manners, ceremonial, dignity of carriage, a “grave & thoughtful countenance” (which being translated gives “a smile that is childlike & bland”)—in all these things it would be difficult to deny that the Chinese is preeminent; at the same time under this external may lie cruelty, rudeness, & deceit. How far these hidden vices do exist, it is impossible to judge; while those who have the best right to form an opinion differ considerably in their estimate. The erudition of the scholars in works of antiquity is very great; & even the common coolies may often be seen reading the proclamations in the streets written not infrequently in recondite characters.

Taken as a whole I was more favourably impressed with the Chinese than with the Indian; but against this general statement must be set a great many cautions & modifications. In the first place when I speak of “the Indian” I lump together in my mind the people of Bengal Bombay & Madras, leaving out of account altogether the Sikhs, the people of the Punjab, & the people of the Hills who are generally said to be the best people in the country; and secondly I am afraid one must admit with most Orientals that as a rule the better one knows them the less one likes them, & my knowledge of India is very much greater than that of China. Nevertheless taking the opinions of those who know more than myself I believe that my general proposition is to be substantiated.

A few words upon the political outlook will bring this encyclical to a close. I have already spoken of the feeling in reference to Kowloon, this refers to the relations with China itself, but by far the most important points arrise† out of our attitude towards other foreign powers. On all hands it is strenuously urged that we ought to show a bolder front towards Russia, that we ought to put forward a definite position & stick to it, that we ought to be prepared to support China in her opposition to the demands of the Great Bear. They say that there can be no doubt that the Chinese would stand by us if they thought we were prepared to stand by them; on the other hand it must be remembered that Li Hung Chang & the Dowager Empress are directly in the pay of Russia.

People in China complain than† those at home do not appreciate the true state of affairs in the far east; & do not realise how strong Great Britain is & how easily she could enforce her demands. But the editor of a newspaper who was most strenuous in this position & who was in things Chinese extremely well informed, showed that he too was not quite conversant—in my opinion—in the state of affairs in distant countries when he took for granted that if Russia & France were against us Germany would take our side, & Australia would prove to us of very real assistance.

As regards Wei-hai-wai opinions seem to differ a good deal, but the great majority seemed to be of opinion that it would prove of very small value to us. On the other hand I have heard it stated that if we are prepared to spend a large sum of money in fortifying it & keep there a considerable garrison, it may be made a very strong place.

For my own part I feel that China is of immense importance; it is nearer home to-day than India was but a few years ago. It has a vast almost homogeneous population capable of nearly anything. Looking to the future, we should not allow it to fall into the hands of unscrupulous foreign nations, neither for its own sake nor for our own. Let us make ourselves as strong as possible, let us make just demands & see that they are adhered to through everything. We are the only country in the world who can administer a foreign nation; on our resolution to-day must hang the future of China, and may depend the whole destiny of the world.

End of encyclical VI.


{1} The steamship Belgic was built in 1885 for the White Star Line.

{2} The steamer Omi Maru belonged to the Nippon Yusen Kaisha. It stopped at Sydney from 26 June to 2 July, then on the 4th called at Moreton Bay, near Brisbane, where Lawrence and Alden boarded it. It was due to set off again the same day but did not actually go till early on the 5th. See the Brisbane Courier, 5 July, pp. 1 and 3, and 6 July, p. 3.

{3} The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 2 July (p. 10): ‘The following passages have been engaged by the Omi Maru, sailing for Hongkong and Japan, via ports, from west side of Circular Quay [Sydney] at noon to-day in the Nippon Yusen line:—Mr. F. W. Lawrence, Mr. Alden, Dr. Agassiz, Mr. G. Fischer, Mrs. A. Lewis, Mr. H. Arnheim, Miss Parkes, Miss Tyre, Miss Nicholson, Miss Nicholson [sic], and Mr. J. F. Parkes, and a number of Chinese in the steerage.’ This list includes eleven non-Chinese passengers, whereas Lawrence only refers to ten, but perhaps one of the number either did not board or left the ship before Brisbane. ‘Jim’, mentioned subsequently, must be Mr J. F. Parkes, Miss Parkes being his sister. The Miss Nicholsons are the sisters from Melbourne mentioned on p. 208. Miss Parkes’s nurse was either Mrs Lewis or Miss Tyre, probably the latter. Those who left at Thursday Island were clearly Dr Agassiz, Mr Fischer, and either Mrs Lewis or Miss Tyre.

{4} Christopher Young (d. 1907), steamship captain of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha; born at Heligoland. See the Eastern Daily Mail and Straits Morning Advertiser, 15 Apr. 1907, p. 1.

{5} The fruit of the passion-flower; see OED, s. v. granadilla | grenadilla, which, curiously enough, cites the phrase ‘The tropical verandah, with the grenadillas trained along the lattice-work’ from The Times, 31 Jan. 1894, p. 13.

{6} The ship left the island the same day. See 6/14 and The Queenslander, 12 July, p. 103.

{7} A collection of humorous sea stories by W. W. Jacobs, first published in 1896.

{8} They were due to arrive on the 22nd (see p. 177), but according to the Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 25 July, p. 3, and The Standard (London), 25 July, p. 8, the ship did not arrive there till the next day.

{9} Thomas William Pearce.

{10} Leetham Reynolds.

{11} The ink changes here.

{12} The S.S. Belgic.

{13} The ink changes here.

{14} The ink changes here.

† Sic.

Letter from F. W. Lawrence to Ellen Lawrence

Oriental Hotel, Kobe, Japan.—Describes his arrival and activities in Japan, and encloses part of his sixth ‘encyclical’.



Oriental Hotel | Kobe
Aug 3. 98

My dear Ellen

Here you see us actually arrived in Japan, having had a day at Nagasaki & a day here; so far we have found the Japanese a pleasing little people.

I forget whether I told you I had arranged to have a guide here, as in this way we should be able to do more in the time at our disposal; F. Takagaki met us this morning on the Belgic & seems a very pleasant man.

I enclose you part of my 6th encyclical; {1} the first 4 pages have gone to Lady D.L. & the rest of the encyc shall follow in due course; the part you have not begins with an account of the voyage up from Brisbane & takes you as far as Townsville where we are supposed to be on page 205.

We expect to get to Yokohama via Kiyoto in about 10 days, & then we go off to Tokio.

There will probably be no mail from here for another 2 or 3 weeks.

Glad to hear of plans as to 26 & look forward to meeting Annie.

With love to all

Your affte Brother
Fredk W Lawrence.


{1} PETH 5/30f, pp. 205–20.

Letter from F. W. Lawrence to Lady Durning-Lawrence

The Oriental Hotel, Kobe, Japan.—Encloses part of an encyclical, and refers to his visits to China and Japan.



The Oriental Hotel, Limited, Kobe, Japan
P.O. Box 55

Aug 3. 98

My dear Tante.

I send you a few lines from here to accompany the commencement of my 6th encyclical {1} which treats of China; the 4 pages which I send you, however, are, I am afraid rather ancient history, but you will get the later pages from home. I find a tremendous lot to write about China though I was only there such a short time; of course any opinions I have formed are in consequence liable to great error. Those who are on the spot do not seem very well satisfied with the action of the home government, & seem to think England ought to have taken some definite principle on which to stand, & to have stuck to it; of course they cannot see altogether the difficulties at home. I shall make further allusion in the end of my encyclical.

Japan is a very bright pretty country & we hope to have a very jolly time here under the able auspices of our guide F. Takagaki.

I hope Aug 1 bank holiday was a great success; we spent the day in Nagasaki.

We are off this morning (Aug. 4) to Kiyoto & after travelling about a bit get on to Yokohama in a few days more.

Hoping you all flourish including Dora

With love to all & kisses to her

Believe me
Your affte Neffe
Fredk W Lawrence.


{1} PETH 5/30f, pp. 1–4.

Circular letter by F. W. Lawrence

Account of a journey via Shanghai, Nagasaki, Kobe, Kyoto (with excursions to Nara, Lake Biwa, and Arashiyama), Nagoya, Shizuoka, Gotemba, Miyanoshita, Yokohama, Tokyo, Nikko, Lake Chūzenji, Yumotu, Nikko, Tokyo, and Yokohama.

(A continuation of 5/30f. Headed ‘Encyclical VII’. Since the first part of the letter is written on the writing-paper of the S.S. Coptic, it was presumably begun after Lawrence boarded that ship about 23 Aug., though the events narrated begin on 1 Aug. and finish before he went aboard. The latter section was sent to Ellen Lawrence on 20 Sept. (see 6/20).)



Encyclical VII

Once more the scene is changed; instead of the ports of China, are the villages of Japan: instead of the close packed streets, are the mountains & the cottages and the rice fields. Instead of the pigtail is the close cropped hair; instead of the bland unfathomability of the Chinaman is the ready cheerfulness of the Japanese. Where here one walks in stately robe with delicate felt shoes, or glides on newest bicycle with pigtail in pocket; there trudges along on géta (pattens) the sturdy little Jap or laughingly bestrides his machine. No longer is there to be seen the Chinese woman in her black cotton trousers with her sad face & smooth hair, but bright & gay is the Japanese girl, petite et mince, de coiffeur magnifique!

To “Nippon”, this land of wonders, we are hastened in the good ship Belgic; but ere we arrive in port let me tell you a short story about Manilla which I heard while I was upon the way. Before the days of American interference, there lived in one of the towns of the Philippines a little telegraph clerk who was an Englishman a person of no great importance. And it came to pass that certain Spanish soldiers having been worsted in an engagement & being pursued by the rebels took refuge in the telegraph station; now this same telegraph station being quite unfortified could easily have been destroyed by the rebels who quickly surrounded it, but they refrained saying “It is British property, we will leave it alone”. So they sent to the telegraph clerk & said “Come out to us” & he came out, & they said “Give up these our enemies who have taken refuge with you”; but he would not, yet would they not destroy the place because it was British property. So it came to pass that after some time there came to that town the flower of the Spanish army with Commander & Captains great & honourable; & with one accord all the inhabitants of that place fled into the country. Then was the Spanish army in a sore strait, because with the utmost difficulty could they obtain the bare necessities of life.

So the Commander of the Spanish army called to the little English telegraph clerk & said unto him: “Behold now we are in a sore strait because all these villagers have fled, & if they would return I would assure unto them that no harm should befall them; yet if I were to issue a proclamation on this wise, would they distrust my word, so now do you proclaim this matter unto them.” Then in the presence of the Lord Commander of the Spanish force did this little clerk (who was an Englishman) take paper & stamp it with his own private seal, & he issued a proclamation to the villagers & he signed it with his own individual name. And he wrote unto them that if they would return to the village no harm should befall them; and it came to pass that they trusted his word & returned, & the Spaniards molested them not, because they were afraid.

[1 Aug.] It is only some 36 hours since we left Shanghai & we are arriving early in the morning at Nagasaki—first glimpse of Japan {1}. Ashore in a Sampan & away in Jinrickisha—to give rickshaw its full name—to the shrine of the gods. But to pass through the streets is a delight, an experience, an education. Everyone seems to have climbed down out of a picture book—a Japanese picture book. Can these be real these ridiculous little men? Can these be real these still more ridiculous little women? Can—no surely not—these children be—why no they must be little Japanese dolls—in the supremity of their ridiculosity with their brilliant colours & circular hair! And yet the Kurumaya can pull the jinrickisha as no Chinaman could pull it; is he the only substance in a land of shadows? Are these people all around capable of any hard work or are they merely charming puppets, smiling impossibilities, resident upon earth to cheer a labouring world? {2}

And all the while we are drawing nearer to our first sight of a Japanese temple. Arrived, we mount up, up, steep stone steps & gain the summit; all around are the pretty hills, in front of us the beautiful curves of Japanese architecture. Descending, a Japanese teahouse gives us our first taste of Japanese tea;—somewhat disappointing; instead of the rich refreshing beverage of China, a weak decoction of green tea “flavoured hot water”—& 2 little girls perform a dance for our edification. All very quaint & unreal. So back to the ship & watch the operation of coaling; here are Japanese men in great numbers & not a few Japanese women, all smiling, & standing hour in & hour out passing along little baskets of coal. Here in Nagasaki coaling is done by “conduction”, in Port Said by “convection”. But what a difference in the appearance of the “coalies”; though the amount of clotting cannot be described as excessive, everyone succeeds in looking clean & almost neat, while many of the women wear their hair elaborately dressed underneath a loose pocket handkerchief. Altogether the process is a rapid one, for though the baskets are small they make frequent transits to & fro. So at length the work is done; with cheerful faces the workers are rowed away, & we start on our voyage through the inland sea.

[2 Aug.] All through the following day the slopes of the hills are in sight, everywhere are the level terraces indicating the culture of rice; now the water passage is reduced to a narrow strait, now it broadens out till the southern shore is lost to view. Here can be seen a Japanese village; & here out in the water are hundreds of small craft, from junks down to tiny canoes, all inclined to get in the way till the “wow” of the steam whistle warns them that a greater than they is there. Everything is pretty: the mountains, the rice fields, the ships, the roofs of the cottages nestling in among the trees, the occasional view of the inhabitants themselves. So the day passes away while all the while we are drawing nearer & nearer to Kobe where we are to disembark for our 3 weeks visit to Japan. I forget whether I told you that we had decided to go through the country with a guide, & had written from Sydney for a special one who had been recommended to me—a Mr F Takagaki; I mentioned this fact to a gentleman on the boat who was talking to me about Japan & he said “That’s a great mistake, he will be no use to you at all, will only be in your way & will cause you a lot of extra expense”. We have since come to the conclusion that that man must have been a monomaniac upon this point; for he can only be supposed to have spoken truly on the following peculiar assumptions. That to have all worries & bothers about trains, luggage, hotels, tickets, jinrickishas etc etc taken off one[’s] shoulders in a land where only a few people understand a limited amount of English is absolutely no use; that to have any amount of time saved in making arrangements, to be prevented from doing a lot of things that aren’t worth while, that to avoid a number of irritating muddles; that to have everyone with whom we had to do handsomely paid but not ridiculously overpaid,—that all these things are fatuous & futile. Of course I should be the last to deny that by having a guide one does lose something that one would gain by direct contact with the natives; but this is immensely outweighed not only by the direct information which one can obtain from the man himself but also by the fact that with him one is able to go where alone as a foreigner unacquainted with the language one would be ceremoniously dismissed. Add to this that in a country where standards are widely different from our own he knows exactly what is what, & enables one to do all that is amusingly unconventional while avoiding that which one would wish to avoid, & you have a few out of the many advantages which are to be obtained from a guide.

[3 Aug.] Early on the morning of Aug 3rd while we were yet in pyjamas Takagaki put in his appearance & introduced himself to us; then assisting us to pack he convoyed† us ashore, got our baggage through the customs & landed us at the hotel. There we were glad to have breakfast & to spread ourselves out into two rooms; & spent the morning making a few necessary arrangements, writing to the British Consulate at Tokio (enclosing letter of introduction) for permission to view the palaces, & inspecting Kobe from the seat of a jinrickisha. In the afternoon we rode out to view one of the great bronze Buddhas & then on to see the famous waterfall; getting out of our rickshaws at the foot of the hill we zigzagged up, & came at last right out on one of the numberless charming spots of the Islands of Japan. Of course a little tea house at the place, & seated there shoeless upon the matting we watched the splash of the waters, drank up tiny little cups of tea brought us by a smiling damsel, & lazily smoked. Then noticing that a number of coolies were bathing in the basin at the foot of the fall, we went in and joined them & had a delightful swim; and so on this our first day we inaugurated that principle of bathing upon every possible available occasion which was the amusement if it was the secret sorrow of the Takagaki’s heart. The Japanese are peculiarly cleanly people & everyone down to the commonest coolie thinks himself aggrieved if he cannot get two—if not 3 or more—baths in the day; but that a foreigner should be so inclined, & to bathe with common coolies too, such a thing is somewhat strange. Once at Shizuoka—but that is another story.

[4 Aug.] On the morrow we trained it to Kiyoto passing through Osaka the great manufacturing centre on the way. The trains are rather like those in New Zealand, with a 3 ft 6 in gauge, but they don’t go quite so slowly, & they have the continental plan of managing station platforms…… Up to the Yaami hotel. From our rooms upon the verandah we could gaze upon a view far too pretty to be put into words. There lay the ancient capital before us, all its small wooden houses scattered in & out among the trees; here a stately temple, with the sublime outline of its roof, rose into the sky, &, behind all, the hills rising range behind range formed a fitting couch for the sun when it sank to rest. Here we tarried several days, now wandering through the streets in the cool of the evening, now going to gaze upon a temple; verily the art of beauty is not lost, for here newest of all stands the great temple built by the myriad contributions of the peasant. Vast in its faultless architecture, with its curved roof resting upon columns of unvarnished cedar, so great, so heavy that it is said that only that† rope of human hair could raise them into their places. In wonder we gaze; in wonder might one meditate upon the strange coequal reverence for Buddha, Emperor, & Parent. What weird self immolation will they not undertake for their emperor? what awful sacrifice will they refuse to make at parental command?

At the Yaami hotel I fell in with Mr & Mrs Sidebottom fellow passengers of the “Norse King” {3} who have been making a tour of the world in almost exactly the same way as myself; a little bit curious that I never came across them before, however we soon found out that we were to be fellow passengers on the Coptic. We made Kiyoto the head quarters for a number of excursions, & halted each day for lunch at some delightful little tea house, where reclining at full length we partook of the victuals we had brought with us, & reposefully admired the scenery. So one day found us at Nara gazing upon the great Daibutsu (or image of Buddha) now but a wooden counterfeit of the once tremendous bronze statue. In one of the Korean wars the Government, short of money had melted down this vast statue & turned it into small coin; to the Japanese there was nothing impious in this act, & to this day these coins exist in great number and are fitting offerings from the peasant to the temple. A few he gives whenever he worships, the priest exchanges them for larger money & by & bye they find their way back into the peasant’s hand.

One day we rode round the Biwa lake, & bathed—of course—in its delightful waters; then came back to Kiyoto on the great canal {4}. This wonderful piece of engineering was achieved by a student still at college, who tunnelling through mountains brought Biwa into connection with the lower lakes of Kiyoto, irrigating fields, conveying cargo, illuminating the city in one effort.

Or again in a jinrickisha to the Golden Pavilion, the charming summer garden of the emperor. If there is one thing more than any other which the Japanese understand, it is the making of a garden. What else, you may ask, is the whole country? Still even in gardens there is positive, comparative, & superlative…… A garden within a garden! Great trees they transplant, little ponds they dig out, gold fish they import, till in a few months a ridiculous ugly spot is transformed into a wee fairy land hundreds of years old! Of these, the garden of the Golden Pavilion is chief & king; in it stands the Pavilion itself[,] still faced over with the gold with which it was once so richly embellished. To visitors is given tea, not the more ordinary beverage but a foaming mixture made of the powdered leaves; exquisite, even intoxicating; this is the tea of ceremony—ceremonial tea. Away, to the rapids of Arashi-yama, to a little tea house overlooking the flowing waters; there we spend the mid-day hours, now descending & bathing in the stream, now lunching in our little room while a smiling maiden laughs at the odd ways of the foreigner, now lazily smoking & watching the crowds of native trippers who fill the house with pleasing laughter. Then back once more to Kiyoto as the afternoon wanes, & before darkness shuts out sight, we inspect some of the famous Satsuma ware, admire, & promise to return.

Perhaps you wonder why a lazy midday & a bathe occupy such a prominent place in our existence; then learn that in this fairy land of delight there were two things of which we might have sung:—

“We thank thee Lord, that here our joy is mixed with pain”

These two were the heat & the mosquitoes. Of the former not much need be said except that a temperature of 85° at night in a breezeless spot is not peculiarly adapted for repose; as to the latter, well! Construct for yourselves a little figure rampant upon a bed, candle in left hand (little caring of danger to the mosquito nets) towel in right; now a cry of despair; now of exultation as a carcase of another mosquito is added to the slain. At first in our folly had we stept blindly within our curtains at nightfall; & as the long hours wore through found our hands & our feet variegated in relief. So now each evening did the figure of the Percy perform in pyjamas the double war dance; so now each night did we vainly endeavour to prevent an insidious intruder from forcing a baneful entry within the sacred precincts.

The Palace of the Mikado—embodiment of simplicity—the castle of the ancient Shogun with panels of liquid art, shops of Cloisonné, of embroidery, of Satsuma, purchases (contrary to my wont) of a few of the most delightful specimens, & we are journeying on again once more to Nagoya where side by side with the jinrickisha the electric tram hurries through the streets. Here another Shogun’s castle rises high into heaven, & from its lofty battlements we look down upon another ancient capital; but, see! over there the troops are drilling. How many this army? “400,000 strong, & 300,000 tonnage the navy; in 6 years we shall be ready to fight the Russians, aye & we shall beat them”—what if the cup of Russian iniquity is then full!

We travel on, & at last there comes in sight the peerless mountain, Fujiyama the magnificent. Shizuoka to break the journey; & early in the morning to Gotemba, the lofty peak rising higher & higher. Up to the summit of an adjoining hill & thence gaze upon the wondrous cone, rising its 12 000 feet straight up from the lowland plain beneath. Now clear from summit to base, now with a fleecy cloud clinging like a ribbon about the neck; then as we descend upon the other side it is lost to view. Once again was I to behold the peerless mountain, once again, once only. It is Tokio, the sun is sinking in the west, there in the far far distance, towering up into the sky stands Fujiyama; what matter the intervening mountains, what matter one hundred & twenty miles? Graceful in its solitary grandeur, as Egmont with its cap of snow, who dare say that it is unworthy of the worship with which it has been honoured from time unknown?

But we are making the descent to Miyanoshita, to find civilisation & a crowd, & are driven not unwillingly into the Japanese annex.

A rainy day impels us after a visit to the waterfalls, to spend the afternoon in training it to Yokohama; & there we find our room, looking out upon the harbour, cool & pleasant because there is a breeze, though the temperature is still 84°. A morning of business & an afternoon spent in rowing out to see the swimming match between the Japanese & the foreigner. There, are gathered together a large number of the people of Yokohama, & the contest evokes great interest; two out of the 3 races are won by the natives, but a powerful Englishman carries off the one remaining. So we go on to Tokio there to spend for the present only half a day, during which I run off to call on Kentaro Kaneyko† {5}; & Percy taking advantage of my absence, pledges himself to speak at any number of meetings on our return to the city. And once again we are puffing away, this time to Nikko—the beautiful.

The temple of Nikko, the burial place of a Shogun {6}, these are the sights which the Japanese rank as the most exquisite; a proverb forbids anyone to say they have seen the beautiful (ekko) until they have visited Nekko†. But it is not for me to describe the indescribable, to tell of all the faultless outline of the exterior, of the gorgeous lacquer work that is displayed within; rather let me point out to you the stately groves of Cryptomerias & leave you to fill in the edifice from the recesses of your imagination. We wander through, & later on, pay a visit to a waterfall, a spot venerated by the Japanese who come & burn a candle & fasten their visiting card up against the rock!

Next day we start off to the country, walking up to the Lake of Chusenji {7} & then on from there to Yumotu {8}; the first part of our journey is a climb of 2 or 3 thousand feet with waterfalls & the charming green of Japanese scenery all around. But even more interesting to us than all this, were the numbers of Japanese pilgrims, going up to worship on the top of one of the mountains. Only two others share with Fujiyama the honour of supreme worship, & of these one towers above the lake of Chusenji. Thither in one week of September come pilgrims from all over Japan; ascending, they watch the rising of the sun, offer up prayers of intercession for themselves & their village; the priest stamps upon their Kimōno the emblem of their visit & each man returns whence he came. In front of us & behind us & all around us on the road, they press on; some young some old, some quick, some slow & footsore, but all alike wearing the white kimono & white stockings, the rude straw hat, & the great straw matting which serves in the day to protect their back from the heat of the sun & at night forms a bed upon which to lay them down. Here are pedestrians with their long white staves, & here a few are riding on horseback perched up on their high saddles while their horses are led by peasant girl grooms in variegated attire. Now they stop & rest at a tea house, drink their tea, eat their rice & swallow their vermicelli after their own somewhat inelegant fashion; now they pursue the uneven tenour of their way.

A cool lake, a hotel full of Europeans, & we are marching on, now unaccompanied, another 8 miles, another 1000 feet to Yumotu. A fashionable Japanese watering place, if you like; an unconventional village where the European can walk about in Kimono and géta—& feel somewhat of a fool too if he hasn’t done it before—& everyone bathes in hot sulphur springs nearly all day. A hotel Europeo-Japanese, where one can have all the charm of a Japanese apartment without being subjected to the somewhat noxious decoctions which they call food; a refreshing atmosphere, a beautiful lake & commanding mountains.

Alas that we have only two days to spend here, away from the rush & hurry of the world; how easily a week—a fortnight—a month. How many the rambles that there might be; but only one, over the mountain & down to the mine. And the 2 days are passed & we are starting early in the morning to walk away back to Nikko. {9}

So again a little time, & back to Tokio, where Percy sets himself to labour without ceasing; to find out in 4 days all that anyone ever knew or ever might know about social questions in Japan; to pump dry of information every somebody & nobody who could by any possibility have any knowledge upon this or upon any other subject of interest; and at the same time to visit every place in the city where anything beautiful or instructive could be discovered. In this extraordinary attempt I believe he would have been entirely successful, but that Tokio being a garden instead of a town,—though containing nearly two million souls—even a two-manned rickshaw would not infrequently take a full hour at breakneck speed in going from point to point.

However he did succeed in meeting every eminent man who was in or near Tokio at the time, in visiting a prison, an almshouse, a printing press a spinning factory—North, South, East, West of the city—& in giving three addresses, not to speak of taking meals with friends & strangers, dining at the Maple Club, going to see crowds of other things and traversing all the twenty one thousand miles of streets & slums ten times over.

In this race Katayama (who runs a small settlement in some imitation of Mansfield House {10}) & Murai {11} were his trainers, while I came in puffing & blowing a somewhat poor second, with Takagaki nowhere.

I dread to think of even a part of this knowledge leaking out someday, for as I myself feel both like the Queen of Sheba & King Solomon in my attitude to Japan, I expect that in him the preponderance of the latter will be so marked, that the unfastening of the sluices would let loose a stream which would inundate the whole world. {12}

If you go to Japan, you should in no case miss the Maple Club; to dinner there you can invite any Japanese you will—we ourselves took Takagaki. Dinner at a club one usually associates with sitting at one table with a lot of others in the room at which sit members & guests. Not so here. A pretty large room to ourselves. No sign of any furniture, but 3 cushions one on top of the other are offered us for seats. These we scorn, for though we cannot sit kneeling, as do the Japanese, at least we can occupy the floor in some less graceful manner.

So we start away at a Japanese repast served to us by 5 Japanese little girls. There are many things we have to learn. At first we eat ahead in the usual Occidental fashion as though we hadn’t set eyes upon food for several months; this is quite incorrect. A Japanese banquet should last 5, 6 or 7 hours & you may be eating on and off the whole time. Now you might light a cigarette & smoke peacefully for several minutes; now hold out your little cup, for the young lady to pour you out some warm sackie (spelling?) {13} which tastes like a kind of sherry negus.

But see, here are 4 girls with musical instruments, & a troupe of others come in & dance in costume. Quite a little wee operetta for our benefit alone.

All these, says Takagaki, are the daughters of respectable Merchants, they are sent here to learn how to entertain guests; some play, some dance, some do the serving of the food & drink. Every Japanese wife is expected to be ready to wait in person upon her husband’s most distinguished guests.

Now, an you feel minded, you ask for the little water bowl, & dipping in & out your cup, you hand it to the young lady & pouring out sackie, you bid her drink. Smiling she accepts. Percy’s victuals borne upon chopsticks held in his unaccustomed fingers do not always perform their full journey correctly. He has to be taught. I am flattered—& Percy equally depressed—by being told that I handle the strange weapons as though I had eaten with them all my life. This & other scraps of conversation through the medium of Takagaki. All the rest is panto-mime.

Thus a couple of hours or more pass amusingly along while now [one] & now another little operetta is gracefully performed, & elicits our applause; & so we bid farewell to the maple club.

More pretentious though less amusing was our—or rather Percy’s—reception at which we met most of the leading men of Japan, & speeches abounded, like stars in a summer sky. The hot weather provoked diversity of costume; here the cool native dress, here a starched collar & frock coat, now a serge suit (with a potential bowler), now a flannel shirt & cycling knickerbockers. But these were merely the superficial surroundings of leading journalists, leading politicians, leading thinkers who entertained & instructed us, & listened attentively to Percy’s oration, & to my subsequent modest & frank few words.

Or again a hall full of working men: a speech: and a few words—both translated, of course, by an interpreter—: a Japanese “Three cheers”.

Or again a spinning factory of 40,000 spindles. Girls get, at best, about 4/6 a month together with board & lodging; this for 12 hours shifts & 28 working days out of 30,—no Sundays. If any failure to come up to scratch, they only make about 1/6.

Once more to Yokohama—leaving Alden to interview the Prime Minister {14} in Tokio; a day with another old Balliol man; & the hour for our departure draws nigh {15}. But ere we leave this picturesque country let me write a word or so of men & things.

I have spoken of the artistic appearance of all things native, have I mentioned the extreme politeness between man & man; always a smile, always a bow, always the honorific address; if this be once abandoned disruption is complete, even murder & suicide may follow. But chivalrous treatment of women by men is unknown; women stand, to make room for men in a car, & are expected to offer to carry an awkward or burdensome parcel! A wife is a sort of head servant, to show obedience to her lord, but more especially to her mother-in-law; for when a woman’s sons marry her servitude is over & her period of tyranny begins.

Of course among the lower classes where the pinch is felt, necessity steps in to equalize, & gives the rule to the greater brain. Here you will find husband & wife toiling together, now stooping low in the rice fields now tugging along the road the heavy cart. Wonderful the loads that a man will draw; wonderful the distance & the pace that a Kurumaya will run. Thirty or forty miles in the day & he will turn & smile upon his face as though he had gone about 50 yards. Strange, smiling, great-legged, thin-armed, rice-eating, little-caring Kurumaya, go & read your eulogy not undeserved in Miss Bacon’s book on “Japanese girls & women”, though why you figure there I cannot tell.

Industrially the Japanese are rushing eyes open into the revolution which has swept over Europe during the nineteenth century. Hounding their peasants into the towns, I muchly fear whether they will in any wise escape the evils which that transition entailed for us and from some of which we are still suffering to-day.

As a nation they are strong; “point out” said Kentaro Kaneyko†, “to people in England the powerfulness of our position in this part of the world. How long would it take Russia or England to get anything of an army into China? We could place 100,000 men there in less than a week. Our great navy could be brought into operation in a few days. Whichever nation we assisted must be rendered supreme”.

The question comes in, have they the Anglo Saxon doggedness clearsightedness & determination. A Japanese who had spent 5 of his best years at Cambridge said that when he returned to his own country with English eyes, he seemed to see in it a people more resembling the French than the English.

Nevertheless a great nation they undoubtedly are with a patriotism that is a religion: “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” is a positive & not a negative sentiment. With many faults, they have many virtues, with some weaknesses they have much strength; & it cannot but be that as years go by they will take an increasingly important position in the comity of nations.


{1} Lawrence and Alden visited Nagasaki on 1 August (see 6/6), and must therefore have left Shanghai late on 30 July.

{2} The ink changes here.

{3} Lawrence travelled on the Norse King when he went to Norway in 1896. See Fate Has Been Kind, p. 37.

{4} The Lake Biwa Canal, constructed between 1885 and 1890.

{5} Count Kaneko (sic) Kentarō.

{6} Nikkō Tōshō-gū, a Shinto shrine, is the burial place of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616), founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate.

{7} The usual spelling is now Chūzenji.

{8} Yumoto Onsen.

{9} The ink changes here.

{10} Kingsley Hall, founded by Katayama in 1897.

{11} Murai Tomoyoshi.

{12} The ink changes here.

{13} Saké, of course.

{14} Okuma Shigenobu. An article by Alden on ‘The Future of Japan’, based on this visit, was published in The Outlook, 22 Oct. 1898, pp. 482–5.

{15} Lawrence and Alden left Yokohama about 23 August, and arrived at San Francisco on 10 October, after a journey of 18 days. See 5/30h.

† Sic.

Circular letter by F. W. Lawrence

Account of a journey via Yokohama, Honolulu, San Francisco, Yosemite Valley, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone Park, Monida, Ogden, San Francisco (with excursions), Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, Jacksonville and St Augustine, Asheville, Washington, New York, Chicago(?), Niagara Falls(?), Boston, and New York.

(A continuation of 5/30g. Headed ‘Encyclical VIII.’ This letter was begun some time after Lawrence’s arrival in the United States on 10 Sept. and completed some time in December.)



Encyclical VIII.

I start now upon my last encyclical and it should be rapid to illustrate the country in which it is written; & yet sometimes I stop & wonder whether this country is as rapid as it is generally supposed. In spite of all some people say, the trains do not run at one express speed, to eat a meal at many hotels is often a lesson in patience, to be shaved is to take a Turkish Bath with all the ceremony & delay attached thereto; but then compare their street cars with our buses & trams (a voice says “What about the London hansom?”), their elevators with our lifts—or absence of the same—their workmen (as employers maintain) with our own; and, well, I am not quite sure what result you come to. But not of all these things did Alden and I think as standing on the deck of the Coptic in drenching rain, we bade farewell to our friends in Yokohama. So the time came that we were to spend 18 days on board ship, crossing the Pacific.

At first we found it slow enough; nobody would do anything, & the Quarter Masters could not be induced to spend the little time required to enable us to play our one game of quoits. The fellow passengers as a whole were uncongenial & the diet was second rate yet the weather was magnificent. So passed away nearly a week; then at last everyone seemed to wake up. The Captain ordered up the swimming tank which he had said he should not allow during the voyage, the Doctor started cricket of a more exciting kind than I have seen on board ship, the quartermasters made our quoits, a game of skittles was introduced, and we formed on[e] or two pleasant acquaintances. So sped away the few remaining days to Honolulu; but I must not forget the doubled day the reward of all the little sacrifices of half hours and twenty minutes, so ungrudgingly given and apparently so heedlessly received.

Honolulu so newly American. Athirst for exercise, we cycle over to the sea baths, bathe & return; a shore dinner, a shore bed—saved only by curtains from a myriad invaders—up to the great pass on our machines to see the view, down again, a “milk shake” & on to the ship at noon thoroughly exercised.

The Japanese steerage passengers who had thronged our fore deck are gone, but in their stead are cabin passengers till the quota is full; all is confusion on board.

Farewell to the bright beautiful islands of Hawaii, farewell for the last time in my travels to the lands of the tropics.

Yale & Harvard men returning to their terms add pleasure to the rest of our voyage; books, games, discussions, music fill up the time; the ship’s engines do their best in a calm sea, and [10 Sept.?] we ride peacefully into San Francisco a day before our scheduled time. {1}

Here then at last have we reached the States, the famous West, for the Orient is left far behind. For ever? I trust not, for the recollection is very pleasant. The absorbing interest of China, the beauty of Japan, & greatest of all, India & all my friends from there, seem to call me to come again; some day perhaps, but not for many years.

How to describe San Francisco? How to delineate its individual character? Quite an established city, altogether civilized. Perhaps you expected something rough, lawless. Not at all, it is quite like an Eastern town (ie a town of the Eastern States) & yet not quite; here on the main street is a fifteen storey building adjoining a one and a half storey wooden shanty; here the road way is about as even as—as an old woman’s apple store which has been half upset—Alas I fear this does not separate it so much from the Eastern cities, but see they are actually making it level & putting down clean firm asphalt! Pleasant atmosphere, warm in the sun cool in the shade, but gives Alden neuralgia in the face. A visit to the Golden Gate Park, to Pres. Jordan of the Stanford Leyland† University, a lunch at the Bohemian Club, and we are leaving the sumptuousness of the mighty Palace Hotel, to go down to the Yosemite Valley. A night in the train, & in the morning we are at Raymond. Then at 7 starts the coach & for 5 hours heat intense and dust unspeakable. So a brush down and a wash and a lunch, & we are off again another 5 hours—the last 3 cooler as we reach an altitude of 4000 feet—& dusty to the marrow we arrive at Wawona which being interpreted means “big tree”.

So a night’s rest and another early start to reach the famous valley at midday. Up up we climb, six thousand feet are scaled & now the great sight bursts upon our view. Near us upon our left is El Capitan that vast slab of rock bare, bold, barren; acres in extent is that cold grey perpendicular face. There to our right a little further on should be a mighty waterfall, but not now is there more than a mere trickle of water. But see in the distance that is the vast Half Dome, awe inspiring tremendous—who will venture to describe? Rapidly we descend to the floor of the valley, level, green, three and a half thousand feet above the sea, walled in with walls of three thousand feet! Four miles & we are at the hotel in this strange unearthly place. From there we wander out, one day along the valley, another to the Eagle’s Peak, another high up to the Clouds Rest—a full day’s climb—another to the Glacier Point; from each we get a different view of the might rocks. Would that the smoke of a forest fire were less obstructive to our vision. So we take a final gaze & return to Wawona.

With the rising sun we are driving out to the giant trees of the Mariposa Grove. Like all big things, their size confuses; it is not till one has climbed up many rungs of a ladder to the top of a prostrate monster, has driven coach & all through another, has seen a third standing side by side with an ordinary huge tree that one appreciates at all what they are; not till then, & then not fully. But the coach is carrying us away back to Ahwanee back to Raymond, & the train takes us an hour along the line to Berenda, where we sleep at a wayside inn, & on the morrow return to San Francisco. A few hours preparations, & [19 Sept.] we are again in the train {2} [,] Alden to Chicago & myself to Salt Lake City; for 36 hours, to Ogden, we travel together, then it is “goodbye”. For 5 months we have been united, our interests have been one, our pleasures in common; & now we part. A few hours & I have the delight of welcoming Annie. So one comes & another goes. “Is that not true of life?” I had hoped that at least for a day I might have had the pleasure of welcoming the coming guest before sorrowing for the parting,—a three cornered day—but it was not to be.

A charming city, the city of the Mormons, fine spacious streets with shady trees on either hand. We visit the Mormon Tabernacle & look upon the Temple from the outside, we are shown round the city with its relics of its old Mormon leaders. We take the car out to the great Salt Lake itself & bathe in its sustaining waters which allow you to float head, shoulders, feet all out of water!

Then we are off to the great Yellowstone Park. A few inconveniences of travel, and we are entering the Park at the Mammoth Hot Springs. A drive round a park, may be you imagine, is a matter of an afternoon, or perhaps, taking it leisurely, a whole day. Not so the Yellowstone. The regular drive round, tots up to something not very far short of 150 miles, & takes 5 days, or as many more as you like to spend. First the Mammoth Springs; terraces of the most delicate colours—white, pink, blue, green, brown or black. Of such were the great terraces of Rotorua New Zealand (destroyed alas volcanically, a few years ago) the wonder of the world. Wonderful indeed are these, as the boiling water pours over their flowery faces, beautiful, strange. The weather is delightful; warm but not too hot, and we congratulate ourselves upon the time of our visit. Now begins our drive, and at Norris a jovial host provides our lunch, then a first glimpse of the geysers. To Annie they are something quite new; I have seen the small ones of New Zealand. But let me wait to describe till we reach the finest of their race.

Fountain Hotel receives us before the sun has set, and the clerk at the office says to us “The bears will come down at 6 and the geysers will play at 8” much as though he had spoken of the arrival of guests & the performance of a brass band—so Annie remarks to me. So at six we go out with the hotel porter who daily spreads out the odds & ends of food at a little distance from the hotel, & shortly out of the wood comes big brown bruin to partake. The Zoo has prevented surprise, but it is the first time we have seen a fellow like that quite free & quite close. A little before 8 the geyser—“the little fountain”—goes through its performance spurting water right up into the sky.

The next day is the great field day for geysers; we drive out to the Upper Basin where they flourish in all their magnificence. From afar we behold one of them in action, & coming near we find the “castle” is performing; from its great turreted orifice it is throwing up water & steam. Like a fountain, and yet not like a fountain; for is not the water boiling hot, does it not mount in irregular violent outpourings, does not the crater gurgle and grunt? Arrived at the lunch station we find in the parlour [These words are followed by a box containing the words ‘Old Faithful will play at’ above a drawing of a clock showing the time 11.06.] So during the day is set a clock at the time of the next display. Every 70 minutes does Old Faithful perform his ceremony; & while seasons, droughts & various calamities affect other greater & less geysers, he remains alone, constant, unchanging, reliable. The time is drawing near, we approach his threshold; he gives a slight gurgle, then he spurts up. At first ten, then twenty, thirty … eighty, a hundred feet or more, into the air. For a minute or two we see him, then once more he lapses into silence, into obscurity within his crater.

Then a guide comes and takes us over the geyser field & tells us tales of some of the folk he has shown through before. Here is the “beehive” which enterprising tourists have soaped (literally) so much in the past that now it plays no more. Here is the “giantess” which only began playing again this year, & plays now 250 feet in the air, on & off for 12 hours at a time every 8 or ten days. Here a little fellow which goes off quick-shot-bang—& all over—once every two minutes. Here is the turban playing about once an hour(?). So we wander along seeing some in action, & regretting that the activity of others will not occur during our visit. Here is a pool of irridescent† blue of red of yellow of emerald. Here runs a cold rivulet where you can catch a fish, & turning yourself round you may boil him in a boiling pool within reach of your arm. Now we drive out a little way & the sun shines for a moment on a pool of sapphire. Now we watch “Daisy” a pretty little geyser which shoots out a fountain spray at an angle, & charms the Sororial heart.

So at length we take our departure not without some regret at bidding farewell to Old Faithful which we have witnessed once, twice, thrice, (now from near by, now right up close, now from afar) fulfil with unremitting zeal his 70 minute mission, an example of duty to the human race. So back to the Fountain Hotel & to the “paint pots” the little sputterers of coloured mud. The next is a long day’s “march”, and as we drive on & on and it gets colder and colder we begin to be not quite so sure of the excellence of the time of year for our visit. At length we reach the highest point of the pass, or the “Divide” as they call it, more than 8000 ft above the sea, then a short descent takes us down to the Lake from which many of the great rivers of the States take their rise. All around are the mountains covered with new fallen snow looking very grand as we make our way across the lake to our destination. Arrived there, we have the huge hotel all to ourselves, for the Yellowstone Park will soon close for the season. That evening a little snow falls, and we are very glad of the steam pipes in our rooms.

Next day we start for the Grand Canyon, & on the way pass a huge mud geysers†—last of our dear friends whom we have loved well but of whom we have grown with such constant familiarity just a little bit … or let me say we murmured

Geysers lofty geysers low
Geysers rapid geysers slow
Geysers gentle geysers rough
We thank the Lord we’ve had enough.

But the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is exquisite, with its golden rocks & lofty waterfalls; and the sun once out, the snow enhances its glory. How easily a week or more might be spent here earlier in the summer, but now we must hurry on, as 2 long days’ coaching await us to take us out of the park to Monida. The first lands us at a hunter’s inn to spend the night; thence a snowy day, & after 11 hours the coach reaches Monida at a walk in 10 inches of snow. [2 Oct.] Ogden by Sunday morning, & away towards San Francisco in the afternoon; en route 3 hours are spent in a siding while the bogey of the dining car is put to rights.

Nine days in the city are spent by me more or less in my room as I have a charming attack of neuralgia in the back, caught in the Yellowstone & accentuated by the air of California which is famous for this scourge. So I haven’t much opportunity to observe again the cosmopolitan nature of the city. It had seemed curious to me when first I came, that whereas when I went to India I kept on setting the natives in comparison with the negroes in the States, now I go about to reverse the process. As a matter of fact there is a very marked difference & next to no similarity. The negro is bright, sharp, cheeky & without any dignity whatever; the oriental is essentially dignified essentially without cheek, but deceitful rather than sharp. As for the Chinese element they are sleek & self complacent, so unlike their humble emaciated compatriots in their own country. So soon upon Oriental as well as upon African & every branch of the European family does the spirit of the American republic stamp itself when once citizenship has been procured.

Annie meanwhile was seeing a few of the sights & getting to know Mrs Cohen with whom we both went to lunch one day in the “skittle alley of the grounds of the burnt mansion”. It was pleasant to meet an old friend.

Then we started on our travels again: first to Del Monte a hotel in superb grounds perhaps the most beautiful I have ever seen. The maze proves of absorbing interest & reminds us of Carry’s recitation. The Lick Observatory on the top of Mt Hamilton, and Santa Cruz claim a visit from myself, & picking up Annie, a return is made to San Francisco. Los Angeles, Passadena† & Echo Mountain how to recite your beauties, how speak of the chain of the orange groves; Coronado beach upon the Eastern Shores of the Pacific. A railway bears us away, a rail to the City of Angels; a railway carries us east for 56 hours in a carriage—longest journey of all, so at length we are stranded at Houston: further a day and a half of discomforts, and rest at Atlanta.

But if you look at a map you perhaps wonder why we did not stop at the famous city of New Orleans; the answer is Yellow Fever in the place. Atlanta brought back our recollections of the Eastern city, though signs of the South were not wanting; from there we went not a long journey to Jacksonville & St Augustine in Florida. But the great frost of ’92 has rather destroyed that part of the country, & as it was not the proper season we reluctantly gave up the thought of descending another 12 hours journey to the orange groves & pine fields.

So we returned & up to Asheville; charming spot, standing in a panorama of gorgeously coloured trees covering the horizon. A few days very pleasantly pass roaming about in the morning & driving in the afternoon; then we get once more into the train, & leaving for good the south with its sugar brakes & its cotton fields come up to Washington. So I return at length to a place which I had seen, before I started out on my travels nearly a year gone by.

What more is there left to tell? Once again have I visited New York & been carried away by the hustle of its streets, once again has educational Boston and grimy Chicago appeared before me, once again have I gazed enraptured upon the resistless fall, the tumultuous rapids, the insidious whirlpools of Niagora†.

But what shall I speak of these things? Shall I write of the Waldorf Astoria full to the brim but yielding its last rooms for my sister and myself? Shall I write of Richard Mansfield in Cyrano de Bergerac? Shall I tell of the Emerson School of Oratory? Shall I describe the banks of Niagora† clad in a mantle of snow? Or should I speak rather of Hull House and of my friends there, of friends in Buffalo, Detroit, Toledo, New York[,] New Haven, or here in Boston itself? How little could I do them justice in a a mere letter; is it not better to leave unwritten?

But let me speak, instead, of my return; another fortnight here, a week in New York, a week on the Atlantic wave & I shall be at home once more in the country of my birth. A year and six weeks shall I have wandered abroad, a voluntary exile. Five months in India, the land of a strange people with strange manners & strange customs, yet pleasant months among friends of the best—countrymen more permanent exiles than myself. Then a time with Percy Alden delightful for his companionship; a month in Australia, a fortnight in New Zealand—countries of modern growth. A few days of intense interest, surrounded by the oldest civilization of the globe; a few weeks in the land of the little people, the people of Artistic delight, and once again to a modern race in the New World.

My sister joins me in my travel, & together we visit the wonders of the States & rest awhile among friends in the East before returning to our Home. {3}

So has been spent my time; ten and a half months upon the land and three upon the sea, & now I look forward to that return which has ever been a premeditated pleasure in my mind. To come back once more to home, to friends, to Cambridge my beloved, to this do I look forward with an ardent longing. Time enough have I seemingly idled & frivoled, the day is near at hand for active endeavour; Heaven grant me a safe return that I may put my hand to the plough & not turn back.

The End.


The dates of many of the events related in this letter are uncertain.

{1} Lawrence was due to arrive on the 10th (see pp. 177, 185), and according to the newspapers the Coptic arrived on that day (see e.g. the Dundee Evening Telegraph, p. 3). Perhaps the ship spent a while in the harbour before the passengers disembarked.

{2} See 6/13.

{3} ‘New Year’s Day (1899) found us on board an Atlantic liner bound for home’ (Fate Has Been Kind, p. 47).

† Sic.

Letter from F. W. Lawrence to Ellen Lawrence

In the train from San Francisco to Salt Lake City.—Sends part of an ‘encyclical’. Refers to letters received from home and to his visit to Yosemite, and asks about Ellen’s own travels.



In the train | Frisco to Salt Lake
Sept 20 98

My dear Lel

Knowing your interest in Japan I meant to have sent to you the first portion of my encyclical on the subject, but as I forgot to do so, I send you this part along now, {1} & hope you may get some amusement from it; I don’t anticipate there will be a great deal to follow.

Perhaps when you see this letter you may expect to hear that I have met Annie, but if you do “I guess” you will be disappointed, for she does not get to Salt Lake till after the mail has gone out.

I found a great many letters awaiting me when I got to Frisco[,] among them those from Mama & Carry from Pontresina, also one from Harry & a little later I received yours; many thanks for all of them which I enjoyed reading very much, if Harry is with you please tell him, I will write to him soon.

Our passage across the Pacific ended very pleasantly, as it had been most of the way across; & Percy & I soon made up our minds to go down to the Yosemite almost at once. So after spending 3 days in San Francisco & had a delightful though somewhat dusty time. {2}

The Yosemite valley is grand where Japan is pretty & the great trees are stupendous.

I gather from your letter that by this time you will be just about returning to England; I hope your jolly time continued to the end.

The accident to the Hopkinsons was very sad, I trust it did not make any of your party nervous about your smaller excursions

With love to all

Your affte Bro
Fredk W Lawrence


{1} Part of PETH 5/30f.

{2} The grammar of this sentence is a little confused.

Letter from F. W. Lawrence to Theodora Lawrence

In the train from San Francisco to Salt Lake City.—Is on the way to meet Annie. Describes his train, promises to give her some stamps, and hopes she is enjoying Wales.

(With an envelope.)


In the train from San Francisco to Salt Lake City
Sept 20 1898

My dear Dora

I am writing you a letter from the train, as I am going along to meet Cousin Annie at Salt Lake City; & as the train jogs about a good deal, some of my words are not quite straight, but run about all over the place. “I guess” you will think Salt Lake City a very funny name for a place; it is a City that was built close to a very salt lake, so salt that no fish can live in it at all. And it is such a fine train, quite different from most of our trains in England. Instead of each carriage being divided up into little compartments, it is open all the way along; & while the train is moving you can walk all the way down the carriage, & even step from one carriage on to the next. If you have ever been in a Pullman Car you will understand something of what I mean. Then one of the carriages is a dining room & when our time for meals come† round we walk along to that. The seats of the carriage in which we sit can be made into beds, so that we sleep here at night I got into the train yesterday evening at ½ past 6, & I shall be in the train all day to-day, & shall not get to Salt Lake City till 7 o’clock to-morrow morning. I daresay you will think that a very long time, but the man who is travelling with me will go on in the train all day to-morrow, all that night, then another day & another night before he gets to Chicago; 3 days & 4 nights in the train!

I was very pleased to receive your letter from Ascot written soon after the big Bank Holiday; when it got to San Francisco I was still travelling about in Japan, & after that I was 17 days on a boat crossing the Pacific Ocean. When I get back to England I will show you the album of stamps which I collected when I was at school; & I have a few there, & a few which I have been setting aside since I started travelling, which I shall be able to give you for your book.

I hope you & Miss Berry have been having a jolly time in Wales; I wonder whether you will be still there when this reaches you. If you are, show this letter to Mrs Jones & ask her whether you are like what I used to be.

Best wishes to everyone, & looking forward to seeing you all again.

Your affectionate Cousin
Fredk W Lawrence

Letter from F. W. Lawrence to Lady Durning-Lawrence

In the train from Ogden to San Francisco.—Has parted from Alden and met Annie (his sister). Describes his crossing of the Pacific and visits to Yosemite, Salt Lake City, and Yellowstone Park.



In the train from Ogden to San Francisco
Oct 3. 98

My dear Tante.

We are coming back from the Yellowstone Park, & at last after all this delay I start to write you a letter.

The great meeting took place at Salt Lake City & seemed to me the most natural thing in the world; Annie was brisk & shining & had enjoyed her voyage across with her triple escort, I had parted from Alden only a few hours before at Ogden.

I don’t know how far I shall write an encyclical of all my doings in the States, but in any case as I seem to have got rather behindhand, you will probably like to hear something in advance.

A capital voyage across with a day’s stop at Honolulu brought us to San Francisco where we only remained long enough to get a squint around & then went down to the Yosemite. After a day and a half’s coaching we arrived smothered in dust, & spent our time in the valley climbing up to different points of observation. The valley is tremendous with its great slabs of rock, & must look even finer when there is water flowing over the different falls. From Yosemite to Wawona & the giant trees, then back to San Francisco & away to meet Annie at Salt Lake.

There we viewed the Mormon tabernacle & were shown the various points of interest, bathed in the sulphur springs, & floated in the dense waters of the lake. The city is splendidly laid out with streets 150 feet broad & shady avenue trees; & you can ride your wheel on the sidewalk whenever the road is bad!

The week we have had in the Yellowstone has been very jolly; If Japan is pretty, & Yosemite is grand the Yellowstone park is handsome & the geysers are captivating—the memory of Old Faithful is quite that of a departed friend. Perhaps 70 miles in a coach in driving snow is not the happiest method of spending a day; still we did get to Monida, the railway station, whence we returned to Ogden & now I am on my way to the west coast once more.

To the 5 hours which the train started late it has added 2½ more, owing to the buffet car becoming somewhat damaged; it has been quite an excitement watching the broken part being repaired; the loss of time will only mean that we spend to-night in the train instead of at the Palace Hotel.

Many thanks for all the letters received at San Francisco; I sent Sir E.L a scrawl from Yosemite, & Dora a letter from the train, & now this tardy recognition of your own. Somehow with a biweekly mail one does not make it so imperative to get a letter off! I expect Annie & I shall look up the Cohens shortly after our arrival, & then after a few days in S.F go down to Del Monte & Los Angeles & then slowly work our way across[.] We have not quite made [up] our minds about staing the States over Xmas but of course if we do, we shall gladly accept Dr Collyer’s invitation; in any case we will send him a line in a few days’ time.

c/o T Cook & Son. New York will probably be the best address for letters for either of us all the time we are over here.

With love to all

Your affectionate Neffe
Fredk W Lawrence

Letter from John W. Graham to Sarah Ann Eddington


Grand Hôtel des Bergues, Genève
3. Jan 1898.

Dear Mrs. Eddington,

I sent you just one bit of my ideas abt. Stanley as soon as he left us. The rest must follow now.

His presence has been a great pleasure to us. You have got a boy mixed of most kindly elements, as perhaps Shakspeare might say {1}. His rapidly and clearly working mind has not in the least spoiled his character. I don’t know when I have had to do with so modest and gentlemanly a boy. It is a testimony to day schools and home training, (not, I am afraid, my favourite theory.)

His youth has, of course, been just a little against his making friends, but has not been fatal to it. In Clayton, & in Wood & Brown he has nice associates; but he seems more contented alone than most boys are.

His work is all that I expected, & more: & I feel altogether that he is “a precious youth” committed to my charge. I can realise to some extent what Margaret would feel like if she were left alone to bring up our own little Richard.

I remain
Your friend sincerely
John W. Graham


The writing-paper is engraved with illustrations of the hotel, etc. The year is wrong, as Eddington did not enter Owen’s College till October 1898 (see his Notebook).

{1} {1} Graham evidently had in mind Antony’s encomium on Brutus at the end of Julius Caesar: ‘His life was gentle, and the elements | So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up | And say to all the world “This was a man!”’

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, Euston Road, W.C.—Thanks him for buying shares in Maison Espérance, and encloses some books for him to buy too.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd Euston Rd W C.
8. June 1899

Dear Mr Laurence—

It is very good of you: it never entered my “imagination” that you would be interested in Maison Espérance—I mean interested enough to take shares. We thank you much: And now you will have the further privilege of purchasing me of {1} these books, which I enclose herewith.

With thanks again

Believe me
Sincerely yours
Emmeline Pethick


{1} ‘me of’ is a slip for ‘of me’.

Letter from John W. Graham to Sarah Ann Eddington


Dalton Hall, Victoria Park, Manchester

2. VII. ’99

Dear Mrs. Eddington,

You will be interested in hearing some details of Stanley’s Preliminary. They are astonishing enough.—I have heard them today from the Chairman of the Board of Studies. In

Mechanics. Full marks
Latin. Top of all
Eng History [ditto]
Mathematics [ditto] & 60 marks above everybody else

leaving Chemistry & Eng. Language as the only subjects in which any one excelled him.

This is a marvellous record; whether he ought to know it I leave to you.

The great thing now is not to overload him; and to keep up his exercise: but I see no danger of going wrong in either respect.

In Physics ii at Easter I find he got 99 per cent. in the College Examination, making 199 out of 200. He has half the prize in Latin, the Prize in Practical Physics as well as theoretical; and the 2nd place in Math iii. A.

He will now, I trust, go in for a good physical athletic holiday. With my hearty congratulations

I remain
Yours sincerely
J. W. Graham

Circular letter by F. W. Lawrence

Account of part of a visit to South Africa, headed ‘Third Encyclical’.



Third Encyclical

I write from on board the Scot on the homeward journey; a tedious voyage; a more tiresome set of passengers than are here assembled I think it would be difficult to imagine—at least those in the first class—but of that anon.

The remainder of my time spent in Cape Town passed along pleasantly enough. I forget whether I told you that in front of the Railway Station were always gathered a number of mining refugees from the Transvaal who sat upon the railing and smoked. So one evening I put on my worst looking attire and joined them. By dint of smoking a great number of pipes I managed to get a very fair view of the situation, from a new point of view. As Schreiner said to me “The question is like a diamond with many facets”—Well I was looking at a fresh facet.

Another morning I went & saw the Editor of the Cape Times who is a member of the Imperialist side of the Cape House; another day I went & saw a doctor—Doctor Beck—who is on the other side; & after lunching with him, I went to a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church—an interesting man of distinctly Huguenot origin. From all these I learnt much, & of course it must seem rather unsatisfactory to you that I don’t make some attempt to give you their opinions, but really it is practically impossible. In the first place one has not the right, to say nothing of the ability, to repeat on paper very much of a private conversation; & even if one could, the absence of the personal element would render the attempt more or less abortive. All I can say it that from those I have mentioned, from Hofmeyr, from ex miners of Johannesburg & from numbers of others, from my frequent visits to the House of Assembly—to say nothing of people on board this ship who come from both camps—I think I have got a pretty comprehensive knowledge, both as to the actual state of facts, and as to the actual state of mind which prompted the various actors in the great drama to take up the positions which they actually did. As to the state of feeling to-day it is of course very much harder to speak with certainty, because as a matter of fact no one knows absolutely & each person has a natural race,—class,—interest,—sentimental bias impelling him not only to say but to think in a certain direction.

I may as well say at once that the result of my investigation has been to confirm me in my views; to enable me to sort out the tangible & intangible grievances of the English Outlander population & to estimate how far these stood a chance of redress in case a less violent policy had been adopted; & also to comprehend to some extent the inter-racial position in the Cape Colony; & to form a knowledge of the conduct of the belligerents in the war.

This is not the place to enter into a detailed defence of my views or to attempt to lay down any line of policy, but I may say that I have weighed very carefully in my mind the question of how far any line of opposition to the government tends to encourage the enemy in a futile resistance. I do not think I minimise for a moment the gravity of this contention, or the responsibility which rests upon those who in spite of it, take up a line of active opposition. At the same time I am convinced that the proper thing to do is to actively oppose the government, if for no other reason but because I believe that the only hope to save South Africa lies in the continuance of something of a party, at any rate, at home, who have not been led away by the present state of public opinion.—But to set out the whole case would lead to a very much longer statement that† can be conveniently put down in an encyclical. So let us leave the war question out for the rest.

I enjoyed my stay in Cape Town & made a number of friends; my project to ascend Table Mountain never came off, but one day a party of us drove right round it in a four horse wagonette & had a very jolly time—it was the same round that I think I described to you I had taken on my bicycle—taking up the whole day & stopping at one of the bays to have lunch and a bathe. Cape Town is situated in a peninsular & the drive round is—I think—practically the drive round the peninsular; and the views of the different bays in sight of which one comes from different points are very grand. The weather in Cape Town was very much as it had been in Sydney when I was there; short days but generally sunny & bright like an English September, just the sort of weather that it is pleasant to be about in. Some of the people who had come out on the boat with me stayed some little time in Cape Town & I sometimes saw something of them. I went out on one occasion to dine with some at Queen’s Hill, Seapoint, 3 or 4 miles out of the town and taking my music with me (as I was directed) we had a musical evening & a good deal of boat reminiscences.

I should have said that Seapoint is one of the most beautiful suburbs & I often used to go out there on my bicycle before breakfast to see the waves coming in—I believe I mentioned this in my last encyclical.

As to the Cape Parliament, I think I saw & heard most of the principal people, but I was sorry that Rhodes was away all the time; by the way I heard the other day that he has never learnt to speak or understand Dutch! Anyone is admitted tot he debates, but if you have a speaker’s ticket you are able to get a very much better place; it is only recently that there has been much crowding on the part of the general public. Hitherto a scab act has been perhaps the most exciting sort of thing which has been passed.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Encloses a report (of Maison Espérance), and discusses arrangements for a meeting of shareholders.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd W.C.
25. Jan. 1900

Dear Mr Laurence.

Herewith the Report {1} as promised. I hear that there is a little sympathetic mention of it in the Mansfield House Magazine & should like to see it if I may trouble you to send me a copy. I do not know to whom we are indebted for it, but it is like our big—(hyperbole)—our big brother Percy!

About Thursday {2}—

The meeting will probably be very formal & very dull. It is our first meeting of shareholders & we are both a little nervous about it. But if not very inconvenient to you, we should be glad of your presence. We do not know who may turn up—perhaps nobody—perhaps a few cautious elderly ladies who are very slightly involved & who may be inclined to croak at the Committee’s wish to extend, in spite of the unfavourable balance sheet: (which you will presently receive.) But in spite of the loss of about £70 on the year: the organization of the business itself is so satisfactory that we feel there is every expectation of making it successful as a sound undertaking—and the hearty support of the shareholders just now would be most valuable to us.

We should be very glad to see you here to lunch at 1 o’clock which would give us an opportunity of a little talk beforehand.

Believe me
Sincerely yours
Emmeline Pethick


{1} A report on the progress of Maison Espérance, the dressmaking co-operative founded by Pethick and Mary Neal.

{2} 1 February.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace (Duke’s Road, W.C.).—Accepts an invitation to tea; her party will number about twelve. Sends news of Maison Espérance, which has moved to Wigmore Street.



20 Somerset Terrace
17. 3. 00

Dear Mr Laurance.

Many thanks for the kind invitation to tea on Saturday {1}. Our party will number about 12 I think, including Mr McIlwaine (the author of that book we like so much “Fate the Fiddler”) & Miss Western whom you have already met: We shall be there about 6.30:

So sorry that next Wednesday we are engaged: We want a talk with you about a little matter which concerns us all somewhat, and if you cannot call any afternoon next week, perhaps you can look in on the following Wednesday.

By the way. Maison Espérance moved to 80 Wigmore St last Monday {2}—& business has been coming in every day thick & fast. Canon Carter of Percy House Oxford called on Thursday—& the C.S.U are prepared to take the enterprise on. Mrs Tennant {3} has superintended the furnishing & we are quite grand! We must give an At Home there soon to shareholders:

Sincerely yours
Emmeline Pethick


{1} 24th. This letter was written the Saturday before.

{2} 12th. The firm’s premises were originally at 155 Great Portland Street (University and Social Settlements, p. 109).

{3} May Tennant?

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Discusses finding a home for a child, and asks for help in finding a replacement for Warwick Pearse, who is leaving the Boys’ Club for the Church.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd W.C.
19. 6. 00

Dear Mr Laurence.

The delay in answering your letter on Saturday {1} is owing to a hope that I might be able to set you on a track. But I have just heard that the child is too young in this case: I have mentioned the matter to Mr Mark Guy Pearse who goes up & down the country constantly & he has said that he will keep it in mind & do his best to find the little one a home—

I should also suggest a short letter to The Christian. I think that has the sort of people that might come to your help in this sort of thing.

Now can you or Percy help me? Warwick Pearse is leaving us for the Church. We want a good man for the Boys Club. A salary of £100 goes with the position. We have plenty of helpers & voluntary workers but we want an energetic organizer who will play football & cricket & give his energy specially to the sports: He ought to be able to raise enough money to keep the Boys Club going. At present there is an income that meets the fixed charges. Warwick has always been able to raise the rest of the money for carrying out the Club programme—by arranging meetings—or writing appeals—or by concerts & displays etc. If you or Percy could set us on the track of the right man—we should be very grateful.

What should I have said, had you joined the Primrose League {2}? I should have said, “Good! anything that may serve to clear issues!”

I have just been reading an interesting & instructive book—“Practical Agitation” by Chapman {3}. So dont be surprised if I put the hints I have gathered into practice by setting up a Society in N. Lambeth {4} for the discovery & exposure of wolves in sheeps’ clothing. With 3 cheers for the red flag!

Yours sincerely.
Emmeline Pethick


{1} 16th.

{2} An organisation founded in 1884 to promote Conservative principles.

{3} John Jay Chapman, Practical Agitation (1900).

{4} Lawrence had been chosen as the Liberal Unionist candidate for this constituency. See Fate Has Been Kind, p. 51.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Wishes to talk to him about finding the right man (for the Boys’ Club). Declines an invitation to a picnic. Agrees that ‘there is a … stronger instinct for slavery than for freedom in man’.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd W.C.
25. 6. 00

Dear Mr Laurence.

I should like to talk the matter over with you. I am most anxious to find the right man. Possibly in considering the matter some track might be discovered. Will you come tomorrow (Tuesday) as you suggest {1}. Can you come about 3 or 3.30?—Mr Cope wants to meet you too. He will come in to tea about 4 o’clock

No, I dont think I could go for a picnic with the C. S. Brothers {2}!. Dont tell anyone I said so, as I am afraid it is not very right or kind. I think even a Ball would be more in keeping somehow!.

I did not see the account of the Boys Club opening in Reynolds {3}—so I imagine there is some mistake.

You are quite right & so is Charles Booth {4}! It seems to me there is a more general & a stronger instinct for slavery than for freedom in Man—since if he escapes from the constraining bonds of Necessity he puts himself into the far more narrowing fetters of conventionality[.] An instinct for freedom is as rare as genius.

Sincerely yours
Emmeline Pethick


{1} This is evidently the appointment referred to in Fate Has Been Kind, p. 51: ‘Fearful lest I might be forestalled by some other suitor with readier access, I procured a special appointment on some pretext with “Sister Emmie”, called at her flat and made my proposal.’ For a reference to another recent suitor, see PETH 7/64.

{2} Probably the members of the Christian Social Union.

{3} Reynolds’s Weekly Newspaper, the leading working-class paper in England.

{4} Booth was the director of a survey of working class life in London, the results of which were published from 1889 onwards and collected in Life and Labour of the People in London (17 vols, 1902–3). For his influence on Lawrence see Fate Has Been Kind, pp. 47–8.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Responds to his letter (on his proposal of marriage). Her attachment to the socialist cause prevents her from supporting him in the capacity of a Liberal Unionist politician.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd W.C.
27. 6. 00

Dear Mr Laurence.

I too feel that I can write to you the things that come from the fundamental. Thank you for your letter. I have been thinking very seriously: I have not been thinking about the personal things—because they have not entered into the question yet: They are not yet involved. Time and opportunity alone could show us the answer to that side of the question. But it is now—now before the personal feelings have become involved—now & only now—that we can think of those other things that make such a great part of life. For to you and to me—however strong the personal life may be—life has a meaning[,] it has a purpose and a reality beyond & underneath all personal affections or ties, in a way independent of them—it is a compelling force, shaping the destiny. I have always felt this compelling force—the authority that sets choosing aside: And now knowing this, when I come to face the question that you put to me {1}, I cannot help thinking first. What influence would this that you want be likely to have on your career. I know you will say that you dont want me to think of that. But I must. I cannot help it. Let me tell you a little bit about myself—so that you may understand. Our differences of thought upon specific things is as you say of no importance: as far as advocacy of interest in different schemes is concerned—it is a matter of argument only. But my—Socialism,—call it,—(for want of a better name) is not an idea in my head—it is in my bones—it was born in me—my whole life long it has been my touch-stone—my Standard of values. I mean this—my first consciousness was the clearest, strongest & most inveterate sense of the dignity & worth of the human body & soul above everything else—and this has forced me into life long campaign—against every sort of bondage, against all sorts of established authorities: and is {1} has kept me (not by choice but by inward necessity) always against the stream. Now what has this to do with you? Can you not see?

It is impossible for me in a letter to do more than suggest why it is, that I could not help you play your part as a Liberal Unionist politician. You must look at this. Now this is what I see as the issue of the Future—this is the great contest of the coming century: the life & death struggle of human life against material mastery. This is the world-wide issue—it is to some extent even now the world-conscious issue. All petty differences are really gone now in the presence of the impending issue between Capitalism and Manhood—Material Mastery & Moral Freedom. It is this—that is the root issue in S. Africa—that makes the war not an isolated event, but only one of the fruits of a tree that has its roots deep & wide. It is the uppermost question in America—in Europe—and it is becoming more & more acute in our country. It is the question of history, the question of social & individual destiny today. You & I can no more help being caught up in the conflict than we can help living in our day & sharing in the world consciousness: I feel that for me the question was decided when I was born: And the question is decided for you when you have allied yourself to a political party that stands for Capitalism (I mean the power and bondage of Capitalism, the sacredness paramount of vested interest)

Your career may [be] the right one for you, the Authority whatever it is, may have decided for you as surely as for me—if so I can only wish you to play your part whole-heartedly & truly. But just so far as my judgement had weight with you, so far would you find yourself pulled in opposite directions. I want you to think of this now. Let it be the clear issue. There is no other question as far as this is concerned for you at present. You have committed yourself to nothing with me, but have only won my esteem by your very straight & generous way of telling me what was in your mind, before knowing me well enought to be able to take these very important matters into consideration.

Yours sincerely
Emmeline Pethick


{1} Lawrence had evidently written to her shortly after his proposal of marriage the previous day. His reference to the occasion in his autobiography was reserved: ‘Readers will not expect me to let them into the secret of all that passed at that interview; but they will not be surprised to be told that everything did not proceed quite so simply as an ingenuous young man had pictured to himself’ (Fate Has Been Kind, p. 51).

{2} A slip for ‘it’.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace (Duke’s Road, W.C.).—Comments further on the difference between their political positions, particularly with regard to the South African war. Will see him when she gets back from Littlehampton.

(Dated Thursday.)



20 Somerset Terrace
Thursday Evening

Dear Mr Laurence.

There was something in your letter this morning that touched me very much—I know what you say is true—yours is the disadvantage. But isn’t it the more necessary to stop you & ask you to consider before you come even in your thoughts or wishes, a step nearer to me—or state anything further?

Oh I dont want that there shall be many words. How can I say it most directly? The question goes so much deeper than argument: no I dont hold those crude notions about Capital nor those about Socialism. There isn’t a point touched upon in your long letter that would stand between us—I haven’t any fixed theories either, I am learning—comparing[—]balancing.

Will you allow me once and once only to go straight for your position. We must come to it. But I am dreadfully afraid of hurting you. I am horribly afraid of letters for one thing—when there is a heart that can be hurt. Words are such a poor medium. Will you believe that if I were looking at you saying these things that I have to fling out in black, I could take ever bit of the hardness there may seem to be, out of the words.

You believe that you may compromise for good reasons on a moral issue. I believe all such compromise to be deadly.

Place, position & any sort of purchased power are dust and ashes to me compared with the integrity of one man’s soul.

If I were to bear your name, I should be prouder of this essential quality of your manhood, than of any triumphs[—]any honours—that you could achieve. What has this to do with the immediate question? It is not easy to show it in a few words—

But you must try to put in the links, I must try to be definite.

Take for instance the foremost issue of the coming election—the “khaki” election. To me—(it has been a bitter realization)—to me this war is no war in the strict sense of the word: it is organized murder for robbery. It is the story over again of Naboth’s vineyard {1}—only instead of a king’s crime it is a nation’s crime. You are not responsible for the crime—you deplore it—but as a party man with an end in view you must condone it. Yes I know it is only shutting your eyes a little—only not investigating—you who are to be a leader in social reform—and this has been the foremost question of the hour for 12 months!

I can hardly tell you the actual facts, that you have not studied, you say. (I mean I wouldn’t say it if you hadn’t.) For you are a pledged man. There is a sort of sense of honour that would silence me—for what can you do? You have given your word to your party. You are consenting. It is only a little deadening of the clear child-like senses—a dimming of the sight. But that is why we are where we are today. There are few[,] very few malignant or unscrupulous men, but—the average man has his price! And that is why the few unscrupulous men have their enormous power. They know this & they are able to play their game. This is their whole creed & faith. It is all very subtle, very specious. The price is a varying one—low in some cases, high in others[,] but it comes to the same thing. This is the taint—the secret of all social corruption.

This is only one instance—only a little part of a big question. Over & over again the situation will recur—and you will have committed yourself more deeply to a party that hasn’t soul enough to keep its body for long above ground: only fit for decent burial in Conservative ground: its enthusiasm—its living essence has gone; & left the body of expediency which is sure sooner or later to fall into nothingness.

These things have been hard to say—I cannot write more.

After all it does not cost me nothing. It does not cost me nothing to forbid the entering into my life of a possible great joy.

I am going away tomorrow—my address will be c/o Mrs Arnold, Trafalgar House, Littlehampton {2}. But do not write unless it is necessary. When I come back I will see you. I have done a frightful amount of thinking & must let the matter rest a while. You see you have been weeks[,] perhaps months making up your mind before Tuesday {3}. I have had all that ground to cover in a few days & nights.

Sister Mary will be at home next week. If you want to talk over your own affairs with anybody, I dont know who could be of more use. She is most absolutely trustworthy & as true as steel—& eminently practical. I only say this—because I know there comes a point when thinking alone becomes confusion.

I thank you for your letters—they have touched me very deeply

Yours sincerely
Emmeline Pethick


{1} Cf. 1 Kings 21. 1–16 and My Part in a Changing World, p. 122.

{2} Probably the house in East Street later known as the Green Lady Hostel.

{3} This fixes the date of Lawrence’s proposal.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

Trafalgar House, Littlehampton.—Sends a book on matters they have been discussing.



Trafalgar House | Littlehampton.
2. July 1900.

Dear Mr Lawrence.

Just a word of thanks for your word: which set me free of an anxiety. I am sending you a book which has interested me—it may interest you—or it may be perhaps a bit too——Emersonian?—I read it a month ago & passed it on. On Friday evening {1} it came back to me. On looking it through again I find that some of the sentences deal with matters that we have discussed.

I shall be coming home next Sunday {2}.

Yours sincerely
Emmeline Pethick


{1} 29 June, the day on which Emmeline left London for Littlehampton.

{2} 8th.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

Trafalgar House, Littlehampton.—Invites him to supper.



Trafalgar House | Littlehampton. {1}
3. 7. 00.

Dear Mr Laurence.

Will you come and see me on Sunday evening {2} about 7 o’clock (if you can) and have supper with me in my kitchen! Do not be surprised if you find me an old woman by that time! I am obliged to return home on Friday.

Yours sincerely
Emmeline Pethick


{1} The address embossed on the paper—20 Endsleigh Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C. (the home of George Cope Cope and John Herbert Greenhalgh)—has been struck through.

{2} 8th.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Invites him to visit her. Is going to Lowestoft on the 15th.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd | W.C.
6. July. 1900.

Dear Mr Lawrence

I have just received your letter which was forwarded from Littlehampton. I had to return a day sooner that† I expected.

Will you come tomorrow (Saturday evening) at about 7—or if that is not convenient come when you like. I have just one week at home before I start for Lowestoft on the 15th {1}.

Yours sincerely
Emmeline Pethick


{1} On 1 July the following notice appeared in the ‘Town and Country Talk’ section of Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper: ‘Mr. A. W. Maconochie, a London merchant, has offered his mansion, Colville house, with 15 acres of grounds, on Lake Lothing at Lowestoft, as a holiday home for factory girls.’ Presumably similar notices appeared in other newspapers. Archibald White Maconochie (1855–1926) won the seat of East Aberdeenshire for the Liberal Unionists later this year, but subsequently became a Conservative. It may be noted that his firm, Maconochie Brothers, had a large contract with the War Office for supplying food to troops in South Africa. See The Times, 19 Oct. 1900, p. 10; 4 Feb. 1926, p. 14.

† Sic.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Sends him an article on the matter they have been discussing. Is sure they understand one another, and that he will make no decision that is not based on his own conviction.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd WC.
9. July 1900

Dear Mr Laurence.

I am sending you the reprint of the article from the Investors Review {1} which deals with the side of the question under consideration, which is of special interest to you.

There is just one thing that I want to say. By some instinct, which amounts to assurance, I feel that you & I as two human beings understand one another. I, for instance[,] understand that you will arrive at no decision that is not the outcome of your own conviction, based on your own careful investigations & study. While you understand that the one thing I should deplore more than anything else on earth would be the possession of any undue influence on another.

It is for this very reason—as you will see—that I told you the whole issue at the outset: to set you free, free anyhow, whichever way you should decide to deal with the question.

At first as I told you it troubled me to introduce these disturbing forces into your life. But now I seem to realize that all this has happened on a plane not controlled by our own will & choice[,] so that any sort of anxiety or trouble is—irrelevant.

My thoughts are often with you

Yours sincerely,
Emmeline Pethick


{1} Possibly ‘The “Martial Law” Goad in South Africa’, Investors’ Review, vol. v, no. 30 (30 June 1900), pp. 882–3.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Discusses his forthcoming meeting with men from South Africa, and dismisses the suggestion that his career is ruined.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd W.C.
11. 7. 00

Dear Mr Lawrence,

I will think of you on Saturday {1} & before Saturday with the one wish that you have expressed.

I fully realize the nature of the ordeal that is before you. I only want to say one thing. Remember that these men from S. Africa will be special pleaders of their own cause. To be in a judicial position you ought to hear the other side—not from Mr Cope who is himself in a correct judicial position but the special pleaders on the other side. If you have read Fitzpatrick’s book {2} which is the apologia for himself and his confederates—you ought to read Reitz’s “A Century of Wrong” {3}. You get thus the two extreme points of view & a fair representation of the two colliding interests.

So in hearing these men you have to remember that to a man trained to weigh evidence {4}— no statement of theirs would be accepted as it stands—you understand what I mean[.] I will not say any more. I hope that I have not said too much.

Another point. As to the “ruin of your career” {5}. Excuse me, but this is nonsense! You will have to stand in St Pancras, which is a Liberal constituency crying out for a Liberal candidate {6}! And we will draw the many various threads together that 8 years living in one district have put into our hands, and we will work for you—to the bone!! I say “we” confidently. There is not one of us who would not stand by you after this. If I did not most confidently believe that this decision will clear your way of endless obstructions & confusions, and take your feet out of a net—I should feel an anxiety which I do not now feel. No: let the present only be right—the future—God’s future— you then make way for. I have proved it. I’ll tell you some day.

Yours sincerely
Emmeline Pethick


The punctuation has been revised slightly.

{1} 14th. The reference is to Lawrence’s forthcoming interview with Lionel Phillips and another supporter of the war in South Africa. See PETH 7/56–7.

{2} J. P. Fitzpatrick, The Transvaal from Within: A Private Record of Public Affairs (1899).

{3} F. W. Reitz, A Century of Wrong (1900), originally published in Dutch as Een Eeuw van Onrecht. The book was a collaboration between several writers, including J. C. Smuts, but the English edition bore only the name of Reitz, State Secretary of the South African Republic, by whose order the second Dutch edition had appeared. The English edition included a preface by W. T. Stead.

{4} Probably a pointed allusion to Lawrence himself, who had been called to the Bar the previous year.

{5} The suggestion was probably made by Lawrence’s uncle, Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence, who visited him about this date, Lawrence having decided that it was impossible for him ‘to remain a candidate supporting the Government’. See PETH 7/56 and Fate Has Been Kind, p. 52.

{6} The reference appears to be to the parliamentary constituency of St Pancras (South). See PETH 7/64. St Pancras was divided into four parliamentary constituencies, North, East, South, and West, which also served as a divisions for County Council elections. Each constituency was represented by a single MP, each division by two councillors.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Comments on his and his uncle’s attitude towards his career, and refers to his forthcoming meeting.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd W.C
12. 7. 00

Dear Mr Laurence.

Thank you for your letter. It suits me! It has put a great gladness & a new song into the day.

Of course it was not you who said your career was ruined! Did I ever imagine that it was? And if I had, should I have dared to say that it was nonsense? But I have to vent my native impatience on somebody & your Uncle—all due regard and respect to him—was far enough away to be a safe victim!

I am glad that you dont believe in selfsacrifice. Neither do I {1}—be it far from me!—nor resignation nor any of the peculiarly “Christian” virtues—which by the way are not a bit Christian. The great new freshening tide of life poured into the world-old world-weary stagnant stream 18 or 19 centuries ago—brought the very opposite of these things—joy of life, spirit of adventure, inconquerable triumph—overwhelming sense of purpose and worth of being—& beyond reach of imagination, a further weight of glory: Courage, adventure, faith & inconquerable triumph—these are the things we believe in—Comrade—nicht wahr {2}?

Of course everything that I wrote yesterday was unnecessary. It doesn’t matter: But when I thought of you facing alone men like Lionel Philips {3}, to whom there seems to have been given an almost diabolical power to work mischief in achievement of their ends, I did tremble for the moment. And you talked so dreadfully solemn about the truth prevailing and all!! I had no idea you had reached the point of which your letter this morning tells me. Now of course I have not a fear.

I daresay I should like your Uncle very much if I met him. But of course we cannot take our life cues from our Uncles. After all, the full & flowing tide comes to each of us only once in our life-time, it is our turn now, and we must use it to float our craft & attain life’s fulfilment. By & bye it will turn for us too—& the ebbing tide will take us out from the world’s life, our work done or undone. Life—our own life—free, unfettered[,] our own—is so infinitely—infinitely precious. Not to be thrown away—not to be doled out to relations, not to be divided piecemeal amongst a thousand petty claims—but to be reserved—concentrated—a force—one of the forces of the universe!

Yes—we will go into all these practical questions—presently. They are very important. Thoughts will come—even prematurely. And I long to have the ground cleared & to be able to enter into the future. But I must cultivate a little further my two acquired virtues of patience and philosophy.

Yours sincerely
Emmeline Pethick


{1} Cf. Emmeline Pethick’s article ‘The Sin of Self-Sacrifice’ in The Woman’s Herald, 27 Apr. 1893 (pp. 152–3).

{2} ‘Isn’t that so?’ (German).

{3} Lionel Phillips had become very rich from his mining interests in South Africa, but had been banished from the Transvaal in 1897 for his part in the Jameson Raid.

† Sic.

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