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

In the train to Jaipur.—Records his general impressions of India, referring to the climate, mosquitoes, eating customs, servants, travel, bathrooms, and typical expenses.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

In the Train to Jaipur.
January 3rd, 1927.

We have now finished all the essential things which we came to India to do and see and hear. It is true that we have still to visit Rajputana and to spend a few final days in Bombay. But these are by way of being postscripts to our original plans. I think the time has now come therefore to sum up in broad outline the main impressions of India. I propose in the present letter to deal with the lighter side of the picture, to describe India as she presents herself to the casual visitor whose interest is in the external appearance of the country and the people and in the social amenities of European life found here. Next week I will try to convey to you what I have learnt of Indian politics and economics and to give my estimate for what it is worth of interracial relationships to-day in India.

I will begin at random with the climate. India is a terribly hot country, a viciously hot and moist country, in the late Spring & Summer. But this is hearsay only. For the cold-weather visitor does not experience it except in Southern India. November, December, and January are exquisite months in all the more northern parts. There is practically no rain. Every day about 6 o’cl. in the morning a pellucid light illumines a heliotrope sky and a little while after the sun rises clear and calm and beautiful. It is still quite cool, and in the higher latitudes or altitudes really cold with an occasional frost. About 8 o’cl. the sun’s rays begin to be powerful and European experience warns the visitor never to stand exposed to it without a pith helmet in the case of a man and both hat and parasol in the case of a woman. But it is by no means unpleasant. A gentle breeze plays around. Even at midday or an hour later when the sun’s rays are fiercest, the shade temperature lies probably between 60 & 70 and one chooses at will between cotton and wo[o]llen clothing. Sometimes the sky is cloudless, sometimes white fleecy clouds bathed in brilliant sunlight hover on the horizon.

As the afternoon draws on, the helmet (or topee as it is called) becomes unnecessary. It is then that one can play tennis or other sports much as one would play at midday on a mild September day in England. Towards sunset it grows colder and rapidly darker. By 5.30 or 6 one cannot see to play tennis, by 6.30 one needs a lantern to walk in the country and it is quite cold. It is then that one needs thick underclothes and medium overwear much as one would do in nice mid-October weather in England. At night in the unwarmed trains it may be very cold indeed.

In Bombay and the Madras Presidency it is much warmer. Except in the hills it is never really cold and it may be stickily hot. Going out to dinner in the evening one wears the thinnest clothes one can and even then one is glad to have the electric fans both to keep one cool and dry and to ward off the mosquitoes who cannot exist in a draught. Of course in the summer conditions are reversed. It is then merely very hot in Madras while in Northern India it is suffocating.

I have been led to speak of mosquitoes and I may as well clear up this unpleasant subject. One may travel about through a number of places and almost believe mosquitoes to be a myth. Then all at once one runs into them and withdraws all one’s scepticism. So long as they have stagnant water to breed in they do not seem to mind heat or cold and are particularly fond of one’s ankles at meal times, or one’s face and hands in bed. Unless one has a through draught in one’s bedroom at night there are very few places where one can do without mosquito bed-curtains. And if by accident one does so, a swollen face may be the penalty in the morning and it may be a week before traces are removed. Of course mosquito bites are not only unpleasant but dangerous as they cause malaria. At Gauhati where mosquitoes and malaria abound all sorts of things are done to stop it. Incidentally all the water, even the soda water to drink and the bath water to wash in is chlorinated and distinctly unpleasant in consequence. With proper precautions one has not much to fear, but mosquito-born[e] malaria is a fearful scourge in India. It is reckoned that in Bengal alone over 150,000 die from it every year. In spite of all that is done very much more might be done but it costs money and effort.

There are very few places in India where one can “go for a jolly walk”. There are a few public parks in the larger cities, there is always the “compound” if one is staying with a friend but this is not very extensive. Beyond these there is nothing but an exceedingly dusty high road and one very soon tires of that.

Practically every European in India takes Chota hazri (or early tea with toast and fruit) on being called in the morning. Breakfast follows at 9, lunch at 1, tea between 4 & 5, and dinner at 8 or 8.30 or even later. I am not enamoured of this double breakfast system nor of this very late hour for dinner, especially in view of the fact that people go to bed soon after 10 so as to be up by 7. The reason for so late a dinner is partly customary habit, and partly the fact that people like to have some leisure time together at the club between work and going home to their houses for dinner and bed. But it is carried to absurd lengths and in hotels and even on the trains where people often go to bed soon after 9 and there is no excuse for it, the normal dinner hour is still about 8.

All the express trains have restaurant cars, but the carriages are not corridor (except in rarecases†) and one gets out at a station, goes to the restaurant car and returns at the next station. The reason for this is that corridor carriages would provide an opportunity for thieving. Even as it is when one goes to meals a servant comes and sits in the vacated carriage.

It is quite a mistake to think as some people do that all lower class Indians are dishonest. My experience so far has been entirely to the contrary. I believe it would be true to say that Indian servants compare not unfavourably with servants all over the world. In many respects they are extraordinarily faithful. But in India there are large masses of terribly poor people, and they abound everywhere. It would obviously be unwise to put easy opportunities for petty larceny in their way.

Railway travelling in India for 1st and 2nd class passengers is very pleasant in winter except for the dust. If one travels at night one brings ones own bedding. For this and other reasons packages multiply. Accommodation is very spacious but if there are as many as four people in a compartment to sleep every available nook and cranny in it is stuffed with belongings. But generally the quota is only two and then there is ample room. Once in a crowded train I only secured accommodation by inducing an already four-filled compartment to allow me to make a fifth and lay my bed on the floor. Fortunately before bedtime I got a berth in another compartment. When trains are crowded husband and wife have to be separated and go into men’s and women’s compartments unless they can secure one of the rather rare coupés or half-compartments containing 2 berths only. Third class passengers are often terribly overcrowded but travel at the cheap rate of four miles for one penny.

I had written so far before retiring to rest in the train in a compartment with one other man, my wife being in the ladies’ compartment. At 3 a.m. an additional passenger got into the carriage and went to bed. At 4.15 we were again roused to see if we had room for yet another, but he went next door. Next night E.P.L. and I were again separated and arrived at our destination at 4.27 a.m.—somewhat early to turn out, but it had to be done. Thus travelling in India is sometimes far from comfortable!

Bath rooms in India are very different from those at home. To each bedroom is attached a lavatory, with an outside entrance. The stone floor has a little stone parapet dividing it into two, and on the outer side is a hole in the wall. When one has a bath the “waterman” brings in hot water and empties it into the little tin bath. When one has finished the “sweeper” comes in and overturns it and the water runs out at the hole in the wall. This is universal in private houses and is also the rule at hotels. Some hotels have running water, but even then it is rare to have the water-escape plumbed, it usually runs out through a hole in the wall.

I have spoken of waterman and sweeper, these are necessarily separate individuals for they belong to different castes, there is also the “room boy”. Then there are the major domo, the table boys, the plate washer, the cook, assistant cook, and at official residences several peons or messengers who bring one letters, introduce visitors, go errands etc. Everyone of these expect “back-shish” when one leaves, and from an M.P. on whose behalf many visitors have come the present must not be niggardly. At one house seven gardeners also came forward for a gratuity sent to me by the major domo. I yielded on that occasion but I told my own “boy” that I should draw the line at gardeners in future and have always done so. The net result is that tips for the two of us staying on a short visit with friends may easily run up to as much as R10 (15/-) for each day of one’s visit.

All the porterage at railway stations is done by hand or rather on the head and the same is true at hotels. I felt that my steamer trunk was too heavy to carry on one man’s head until I once saw a coolie who had it on his head insist upon putting on top of it a suit case and on top of that a bundle of rugs. Naturally one does not grudge these willing workers the 4 annas (about 4½d) which they claim for their labour. Still when all is paid for it is not a cheap method of getting about. Here is how it works when we have our full luggage with us. We arrive at a station and are sent off to an hotel in a little motor car or carriag[e] costing perhaps one or two rupees (1 rupee equals 1/6) and give a tip of say 4 annas. We bring with us hats, stick and parasol and smallest bags. Ameer our boy brings the luggage. Coolies at the station cost 1½ to 2 rupees, cart and tip 2½ or 3½ rupees according to distance, coolies at hotel another 1½ or 2. Total about 10/- to 15/- and the same in going back from the hotel to the station. In England one porter with a truck, 2 taxis and a porter at the hotel would move the lot and a generous cost would be 8/-. Hotels in the country districts charge about R25 or R30 (37/6 or 45/-) a day for the two of us. As this includes sitting room and bed room and bath room and all meals and as the hotels have a short season this is not perhaps excessive. In Calcutta we had only one room (and bath room), we took many of our meals out but still had to pay R45 (67/6) a day for the two. Railways charge 2 annas (2¼d) a mile first class. This is not excessive but amounts to a very large sum owing to the great distances. We shall have travelled altogether 9000 miles, and spent 24 nights, out of a total of 71 in India, in the train! Members of Parliament who are members of the Empire Parliamentary Association are supposed by a reciprocal arrangement to get ½ fares for themselves and their wives. But this has not yet been put through and we had to pay full fare except on two railways which gave us special concessions.

The postal system in India is excellent and most expeditious and I doubt if it has its equal in the world for so large an area. It is certainly far better than in the U.S.A. There is also a capital system of sending money and for a very cheap rate the post office brings a receipt back to the sender. Main roads are good though inevitably dusty. There have also been very fair roads so far as I have gone in the less frequented districts. Sometimes one has to go rather out of the way to keep on a road and to overcome some obstacles. Coming back from Tagore’s house to the main line by motor car I had to travel about 55 miles (the railway distance is 32) and had to cross an unbridged river by ford. Getting the car down and up the dry sandy banks taxed all the energies of myself and three villagers who came to our help.

I have left myself very little room to speak of the people here both English and Indian. In this letter I will content myself with saying that I have found them all extraordinarily generous and hospitable. They have entertained us in all sorts of ways, lent us their cars to ride in and given us of their time and trouble. It is this which has made our visit such a pleasant one.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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† Sic.

Circular letter by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Hotel Cecil, Agra.—Gives an account of the New Year’s celebrations at Calcutta, her visit to the Ramakrishna monastery, and their meeting with Tagore at Santiniketan, after which they came to Agra to revisit the Taj Mahal.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original. The latter part of the letter was written after the Pethick-Lawrences’ departure from Agra.)

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Transcript

January 5th, 1927.
Hotel Cecil,
Agra.

Dear Friends,

The New Year is a great season in Calcutta. It is a general holiday and there are races, polo tournaments, besides many other sports and games. New Year’s Eve was a night of revel in the Great Eastern Hotel, where we were staying in Calcutta. All the English and Scotch customs were carried out to the limit. The dinner was a great affair, of course the regulation turkey and the Christmas pudding enveloped in flames by rum formed part of the banquet. Every body was furnished at their tables with caps and masks and noses, balloons and whistles and hooters, fireworks, crackers, confetti. Scotch pipes dominated the din, and about every ten minutes Auld Lang Syne was sung, and at other times Scotch reels were punctuated with whoops and war cries. The Indian waiters looked on with solemn faces, and moved about bewildered and worried like sheep at a fair. Such a contrast it all was to the rest of the day. Fred having gone off to see some mines, I took a river steamer and went up the great river Hoogli, one of the mouths of the Ganges. It was one of the most golden days imaginable. The sun veiled in its own blazing glory shone in a cloudless sky, and a cool little breeze from the north rippled the surface of the water. I found myself amongst Indians who could talk English and two of them had been to the Congress at Gauhati. The river banks were the scene of ever changing drama—steps and quays (or “ghats” as they are called here) are built into the high sloping bank, and here, men and women and children bathe or play or pray or wash their clothes, and give their cow or buffalo a rub down. Big barges laden with hay or rough pottery floated down with the current and little boats with scarlet sails made their lazy way up or down stream.

When I came to the little quay labelled Belur I landed, for here was the Rama Krishna Monastery of which I had heard and read; and a friend who lives there was waiting to welcome me and take me to her retreat. A very beautiful place of retirement from the world, for her one living room overlooked all the traffic of the great river, and to lie on a mat and watch the noiseless flood going down to the sea, was to get the peace of all the world into your body and soul. Thirty years ago, this American woman met at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago the “Vedanta” Teacher Vivikananda, who himself was a disciple of the Indian Saint Rama Krishna Paramahamsa, and she made her life in India as his disciple forthwith. She helped him to found his Monastery, and now since his death, lives there helping to keep his influence alive and men come to this centre from all over the world. I saw a young man who had just arrived from Czecho-Slovakia, a peasant farmer who had saved money to make the journey and was just settling down to the work on the land, and give his inner being up to the influences that radiate from the place. This home is a centre of culture for many and while I was there, three young men dropped in for a talk. Towards sunset we all went on the roof, and watched the river and the buildings turning to gold and discussed many problems together, as Indians love to do. At last the little steamer that was to take me back came in sight, but one of them came back with me and we continued to talk as we moved down the now darkening flood illumined with many lights. This man had been with Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedeta) in her pilgrimages through the Indian villages which she describes so wonderfully in her books. Europeans say that she idealised, and wrote not facts but fairy tales. This man who was with her vouchsafed for the accuracy of her presentation, and told me many things about village life and custom, that did something to disperse the effect which the terrible poverty of the peasants makes upon one, and to show that even their life of ceaseless toil is able to produce loveliness and beauty.

The day had given me one of those glimpses of the soul of India which it is hard for anyone of another race to get. Yet there are ideas which make all races one. Once when I was given a reception in Calcutta a group of girls sang a song written and composed by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, and the gist of it was that though we were of different blood and spoke a different earthly language, we had met and conversed in heaven, and because we were moved by the same ideas we were not strangers, but heavenly friends. Speaking of Tagore brings me to describe the day that we spent at his home, which is also the school and University founded by his father 40 years ago, and developed by the poet recently into an International Centre of Research work, the various students there are specially seeking the secret of the unity of Asiatic culture, and are translating many manuscripts hitherto lost to memory. They will seek ultimately the union of all that is fundamental in the culture of the East and the West.

An hour or two in the train from Calcutta brought us to the junction and from there we took a local train to the little country station of Bolpur. Here we were met by a motor omnibus and conveyed to the Tagore estate which includes 700 acres in its area, to the Guest House called Santi Niketan i.e. the Home of Peace. This Guest House has been built over the spot where many years ago the Poet’s father came, having retired from the affairs of life. Here on this broad plateau, removed from sights or sounds of the world, he pitched his little hut, and gave himself up to meditation. The spirit of peace and of loving gracious hospitality pervades the place.

According to ancient Indian tradition still living in the Indian heart, the guest is “Atithi devobhava” the “guest divine” or the symbol of divine visitation.

The Poet Tagore has written “The guest brings to our house the great ideal of the spiritual unity of all human beings: It is not the guest who is under an obligation but the householder”. This is the spirit of Indian hospitality in general and of Santi Niketan in particular.

We were at once shown to the little suite of rooms set aside for us and after we had shaken off the dust of the journey we were served with tea. We were then taken round the School, Library, Art and Music Departments by a very gracious young Professor, and were brought back to our rooms for an hour of rest. We were then taken to the Poet who received us with warmest and kindest welcome, taking both our hands in his two hands. We talked awhile, and then were taken to the staff and students who had assembled on the wide roof for a talk from the Labour M.P. and after a very interesting question and answer discussion we came back to [about four illegible words] “Guru-daio” which is Tagore’s title amongst his students. It means Spiritual Guide or Divine Teacher, which indeed he is. We were perfectly charmed with him. He is a very beautiful and lovely person, his aristocratic face and his abundant silky white hair combed back from the forehead, and his young eyes and delicate sensitive hands, all these make a most worshipful presence. He is very simple and gentle and childlike and warmly gracious, and his mind is open to all beings and ideas which I found quite surprising. He is a keen Feminist and related with much quiet fun how he had written at the request of the women students a drama without a solitary male character in it (“doesn’t that rather please you!?”) and described with enthusiasm how beautifully the girls had acted in it. He spoke with astonishing understanding of the very controversial question of Birth-Control and his delightful talk was full of the spirit of youth. He is deeply alive to the unimaginative character of all burocracies†, and deeply grieved over circumstances in India that I cannot enter into here, but even in his criticism is humourous† and full of understanding. Indeed he seemed to us, the incarnation of deep ripe wisdom, and we bathed in it as in the light of a tropical full moon.

The electric plant on the estate had long ceased to work and the lights had gone out before we said goodnight, to walk back under a starry sky, with a bearer carrying a lantern to our feet. Next morning we were awake at 6 o’cl. with the birds singing and the sun shining, and after early breakfast we were taken in a motor car to see the Rural Construction side of the Foundation. This is no less than an attempt to carry out an experiment that if successful will enable the peasant without artificial irrigation, and without expensive implements, to raise 3 crops a year in the same soil, and also to develop useful handicrafts, such as spinning, weaving, tanning, and carpentry, that can be practised in the house in the hot season, when work on the land is impossible, and can also be done without expensive appliances, but with home-made tools. The model farm, including agriculture, intensive culture of vegetables, and dairy farm is excellent, and all immensely interesting. Everybody is so keen and works with so much harmony and pride in the result of their work. The teachers and students go out regularly into 20 villages to teach the people how to work to abolish their extreme poverty, and also to teach them by demonstration how to get rid of the plague of malaria and many other preventable diseases. They cleanse the water supply, clear the village of stagnant water and of approaching jungle, and perform many kinds of very helpful service. The son-in-law of Tagore is on the present Government Agricultural Commission. The ultimate aim is the growth of this movement to National magnitude: it is the contribution of the University to the problem of peasant poverty and misery.

You can have no idea how beautiful the early morning in this great plateau was. It seemed to have an Eden freshness and sweetness. Beautiful birds flew about in the trees, peacocks strutted, and above all human beings in all the sweetness of their early morning meditation greeted us with gracious looks. Several students came into the main office of this agricultural side, and sat down and waited for a speech just as the students on the literary side had gathered on the roof the night before, for a talk from the Labour M.P. We spoke of the oneness of all thought and work, the oneness without division of the spirit that is in us—because just at that moment we were realising it deeply. We then came back to take leave of the “Guru-daio” the presiding genius of all the activities of the place, and again he was most dear and gracious, and then after a most delicious breakfast that we found awaiting us, we set forth upon our journey.

The next objective was a re-visitation of the supernal Taj Mahal. And this reminds me that on the evening while dining with Tagore, we heard that he had written a beautiful poem about the Taj. It was in Bengali of course, as yet untranslated. We urged him to read it and translate it for us, which he was naturally a little reluctant to do, for words are his music and poetry is untranslatable. But he consented. It was lovely to hear his own speech, it was music as he gave forth the cadences. And then he slowly translated, feeling for the English words with eyes shut, and a dreamy light on his face. The one main idea of all remains with me—that glory, might, majesty, dominion, kingdom in Empire pass away as though they had never been and not one iota remains—but the sorrow of a great love had been transformed into immortal beauty and become “a tear on the cheek of eternity”.

We spent the next afternoon and evening renewing our delight, and bathing ourselves in the beauty of the Taj. We took a boat on the Jumna which flows under the wall on the north side and watched the afternoon light playing upon it, and saw it reflected in the river. Then we landed and watched the sun set, and lingered on and on until the light died out, except where concentrated on the white marble domes and minarets; and the flame of the lamps of the interior shrine flickered through the screens. The white ethereal beauty was reflected entire in the water garden, as we went away by the great South gate, leaving with us a vision of beauty which we shall never forget.

We left Agra last night to journey to the ancient city of Jaipur and have here met with some unique experiences, which must be told in another letter.

We leave Bombay in ten days from now and shall be home all being well on about February 3rd or 4th, well in time for the opening of Parliament on the 8th. We shall spend three or four days in Egypt, to get another look (after 20 years) at the Sphinx, and the great Pyramids and to stay two days with friends in Alexandria.

We look forward with great pleasure to seeing our friends again, and we send them our warmest greeting and good wishes.

Yours,
EMMELINE PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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† Sic.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Kaisar-i-Hind’.—Describes his and his wife’s meetings with Bose, Gandhi, and Tagore, their visits to Jaipur, Udaipur, and Ahmedabad, and their return to Bombay. Encloses a printed letter (6/135) recording his political impressions of India.—(Later.) His wife’s sudden illness compelled them to abandon their intended visit to Egypt.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original. The postscript was written after the Pethick-Lawrences’ return to England.)

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Transcript

P & O. S. N. Co.,
S.S. Kaisar-I-Hind.
January 19, 1927.

Three men in India stand out head and shoulders above the rest—Gandhi, Tagore, and Sir Jagadis Bose. We were fortunate in knowing all of them before we went out to India, and during the last few weeks of our stay there we had the opportunity of renewing our acquaintance.

We went to lunch with Sir J. Bose in Calcutta on our way to Gauhati. He has a wonderful Institute, buildings and lecture room in front and a beautiful garden court behind. He showed us many fascinating experiments. A plant feeding and automatically ringing a bell with each gulp of food; shading the plant from sunlight the gulps become less and less frequent. A plant’s pulse beating; poison supplied at the root the pulse dies down; restoratives supplied, the plant recovers. But Bose is not merely the world-famous plant physiologist, he is also a great artist, philosopher and patriot, and his explanations of the panels on the walls of his house were full of poetry and beauty.

Gandhi we met at Gauhati, in simplicity of life reminding us forcibly of John the Baptist. Dress a single loin cloth, food the humble fruits of the earth. Surrounded everywhere by hundreds or thousands of devoted followers to whom he is a Mahatma he remains a quiet unassuming man without the slightest pose of saintliness. He discussed mundane affairs quite simply with us in his tiny hut and told us that though on the surface things were not going exactly as his intellect would like, deep down in his consciousness he was content that all was well.

Tagore we went specially to see at his University a hundred miles away from Calcutta. He is a superb figure with his gracious smile and wide understanding and acceptance of life. Very different from the austere personality of Gandhi yet to him equally the spiritual life is the fountain spring of being. Learning, poetry, social service are the channels through which the living water pours out to sustain humanity. Yet a child would have no embarrassment in his presence and the laugh of the poet and of his little playmate would ring out happily together.

Tagore’s University is two sided. One half is for Literae humanae, and here are priceless manuscripts of Sanskrit and ancient Chinese; the other half is intensely practical, the actual demonstration of improved methods of agriculture and simple preventive medicines.

We left with reluctance and sped away westward to have another glimpse of the exquisite Taj at Agra and on from there to visit some of the native States of Rajputana. The rapid fall in temperature coupled with our early arrival at Jaipur (4.27 a.m.) gave us both bad colds but in other respects we were in luck’s way, for in view of the impending visit of the Crown Prince of Sweden all the glory of Jaipur was prepared for display. Enormous State elephants with faces and ears painted with lovely floral designs, solemn bullocks decked out in red and gold cloths, disdainful camels, soldiers in chain armour riding horses padded against primitive weapons—all passed us by in gorgeous procession, first in rehearsal and next day in actual display before the royal guest. Then there were jewels—strings of pearls the size of filberts, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, jade of matchless size and splendour. Next an amazing collection of old Indian paintings. Finally ancient carpets of fabulous worth, and shawls and saris of cashmere and silk exquisite in delicacy and in colour. Of all these we were afforded a special private view in company with the Councillors of State.

After Jaipur, Udaipur, where we were guests of the State and were taken to wondrous palaces enshrined on islands in a lustrous lake. Here Shah Jehan, builder of the Taj, spent his youth exiled by his father, but guest of the Maharana of Udaipur.

The glory of princes is not incompatible with—alas it is often built upon—the poverty of the country side. In Rajputana we introduced ourselves to some of a group of social reformers who are seeking to improve the lot of the peasant, and learnt something of their story. One we tried to interview in the Udaipur jail, but permission was not granted to us and in view of the shortness of our stay we could not press our request.

From Udaipur we went to Ahmedabad where we found one of the few well run Trade Unions in India with a woman as its leading spirit—Miss Anasuya Surabhai—a very remarkable personality who has fought many a battle for freedom both for her sex and for Labour. We also ran out to Gandhi’s “Ashram” a kind of college or fraternity for students. The Mahatma himself was away but his brother showed us over and instructed us in the cottage spinning and weaving which are specialities of Gandhi’s national revival.

From Ahmedabad back to Bombay to the charming roof-flat overlooking the city, the home of our friend Sheldon Bunting where we were entertained as happily as on our first arrival in India. One morning I visited a mill, and went on to see the so-called dwellings—insanitary pigsties would be a more nearly accurate description—in which many of the workers live, I also visited the 16,500 “model” tenements of which because they are uncomfortable, inaccessible, and financially beyond the reach of the workers, no less than 13,500 are untenanted! One day Emmeline addressed a meeting. We also lunched with the Governor and had an interesting talk with him.

We are now on the Kaisar-I-Hind sailing homewards. The Crown Prince of Sweden is on board and has won good opinions among the passengers by his unceremonious behaviour.

I have already written a special letter dealing with all my political impressions which owing to its unusual length and importance I am having printed. I am arranging for a copy to be enclosed with this letter {1}. I have a number of extra copies so if you would like one or more to give to your friends and will let me know, I will send them on as far as available.

Fascinating as our time has been it will be delightful to be home once more among all our friends.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

P.S. Since the above was written after our return to the ship from visiting the famous tanks at Aden, Emmeline contracted a germ which laid her unexpectedly low and made me exceedingly anxious. We abandoned our proposed visit to Egypt, and it was still not possible to land when we reached Marseilles. We accordingly continued on the boat to Plymouth and by the time we reached there her recovery was fortunately nearly complete. She will rest a few days in Weston-super-Mare before returning to London. Fortunately we were blest with beautiful weather the whole of the voyage.

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{1} PETH 6/135.

† Sic.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Résidence Générale de la République Française, Tunis.—Describes the Cabinet mission’s flight to Tunis and their accommodation there.

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*Transcript**

Résidence Générale de la République Française à Tunis
Tunis, le
20 March.

My own dear Love.

A gorgeous Bougainvillée tree in full bloom greeted me when I arrived in the upper courtyard of this house last night. It recalled many happy memories of travels you & I have had together about this time of year.

I have read your very dear letter {1} & shall be able to think of your movements day by day & send my thoughts to you & to all the friends tht† are coming to see you. Please give my love to one & all.

EMP & the girls {2} will have told you about our motor ride & about Hurn {3}. I think they went into the aeroplane & saw our comfortable quarters. We were finally in the air a little before noon & in half an hour were over the Cherbourg peninsular. Signs of devastation were just visible at a height of 7000 feet. At one o’clock a white table cloth was laid & soup & sandwiches appeared. I thought this was lunch & partook only to be told that lunch was served at 2! However it did me no harm.

2.30 we were over the French mountains & a thick coat of snow was visible. At 3.30 we saw the mouth of the Rhone & about 4.15 the coast of Sardinia. At 5 o’c we landed (most gently) on the airfield at Tunis & drove out here. The sun was setting & local time registered an hour later. The British Consul met us & escorted us here—a very fine villa reminiscent of Mena House {4}. It is only moderately warm. The others are going to have a leisurely walk, & a drive into Tunis this afternoon. We dine tonight with the French resident & are off on Friday morning before dawn.

We had a steak last night such as I have not seen since 1939 & tangerine oranges.

The others are waiting for me

Yours ever
Boy

—————

{1} PETH 8/68, dated 18 March.

{2} i.e. Ethel Mary Pethick, Emmeline’s sister, and the Pethick-Lawrences’ secretaries, Esther E. Knowles and Gladys E. Groom.

{3} Hurn aerodrome, near Bournemouth.

{4} The Mena House Hotel, by the Pyramids at Giza.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Baghdad and ‘On the plane’.—Describes the Cabinet mission’s stay at Tunis. Afterwards they flew to Baghdad, where they met the Iraqi Prime Minister and his Cabinet. They are now on the way to Karachi.

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Transcript

Bagdad†
Mch 23. 46

My dear.

I have enjoyed every minute of my time so far. I was warned tht the time in the areoplane† would be very tiring but I have not found it so at all. Quite the contrary it is has† been a delightful rest. We have flown for the most part at between 7000 & 10,000 feet. But it has been so clear tht I I have been able to see th sea on the ground underneath nearly all the way. Yesterday we passed over Haifa, Mt Carmel Nazareth & Galilee on our way here.

———————————————

on the plane

Tunis was a pleasant cool place & we had several walks along the sea. Our residence was about 10 miles out from the city. We came in one afternoon to visit the Arab quarter and saw a number of booths in some of which were fine display of carpets—one small one of Japanese silk was priced at £250 & was very delicate.

Wednesday night {1} we dined with the French Resident General {2} (at their house in Tunis) & I sat next to his wife, a most accomplished woman. She showed me her library of books artistically bound by her own hand. Her husband General Mast was a fine intellectual type. It was their summer residence in which we stayed.

We made an early start on Thursday {3}. We were called at 4.30 AM & pushed off from our house in the dark at 5.15. There was a slight delay at the Aerodrome but we took the air before the sun rose. We passed Pantelaria† on the left & Crete on the right & reached Cyprus at 12.15 (Tunis time) (1.15 Cyprus time). We came down there & had only 50 min to drive to the house of the Governor—a lovely spot—have lunch & drive back to the plane. We were soon up in the air again & over Palestine & along the pipe line towards the Tigris & Baghdad. It was only just light when we arrived at 6.30 (Baghdad time).

S.C. {4} & I stayed with the British Ambassador {5} who had invited all the Iraqui† Cabinet to meet us at dinner. I had a long talk with the Prime Minister {6} afterwards. The Ambassador’s wife found I liked the bananas & dates & said she would send a packet of the latter to you. If you get them you will no doubt write to thank for them to| Lady Bird | The British Embassy | Baghdad | Iraq.

There was some discussion about the suffragette movement & a soldier said his aunt had been one.

I had a very good night & after breakfast a banana, 2 oranges & an apple & toast, I walked round their fine garden on the banks of the Tigris & drove off to our plane and took the air at 9. We are now having lunch & are due at Karachi at 4.30 PM (6 PM Indian time).

{7} My darling

I have written the above in scrappy little bits for general consumption. This sheet is for my own dear love. I am afraid you wd be a long time without a letter from me. I wrote my letter in Tunis on my arrival but the quickest way to get it to you was to carry it on to Cyprus & despatch it from there. Tonight or tomorrow you will hear of our arrival in India. We are expecting to meet the press in Karachi on arrival & shall see them again at Delhi on Monday. We meet Alexander at Karachi & the Viceroy {8} in Delhi.

I do so hope you had a fruitful & enjoyable time with all your engagements in London & will enjoy your gardens in Peaslake next week. I send to you dear messages of love. I have great faith in my colleagues to reach a real solution of our problems, & your prayers & good wishes & those of our friends & the nation as a whole are a great support. Your token of love is safe in my waistcoat pocket {9}.

Blessed Sweetheart
I am your own boy lover.

—————

The letter contains a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} 20 March.

{2} General Mast.

{3} A mistake for ‘Friday’.

{4} Stafford Cripps.

{5} Sir Hugh Stonehewer Bird.

{6} Tawfiq al-Suwaidi.

{7} A new sheet begins here.

{8} Lord Wavell.

{9} Before he left England Emmeline had given him a ‘little charm or keepsake’ to keep him company. See PETH 8/68.

† Sic.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

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

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Transcript

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

My dear

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your own
Boy

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

Love to May Lydia & the girls.

—————

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

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

{2} Sir Francis Mudie.

{3} PETH 6/146–8.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—The Cabinet mission are about to remove to Willingdon Crescent, where life will be less formal. They had a large press conference last night.

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Transcript

The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
Mch 25. 46

My dear.

I am now nearing the end of the second day here & tomorrow we are migrating to our private residence in Willingdon Crescent. Though everyone has been more than kind here I shall not be sorry to shake off the excessive formality & ceremony. At lunch & dinner there are as many servants in gorgeous red livery as there are diners. When the Viceroy & his wife walk into dinner his own sister & his daughter have to curtsey to them. There are some 250 gardeners in the garden, & the house is I think actually larger than Buckingham Palace. Of course my “bearer” will go on with me to the house. He is a very charming person & I submit gracefully to his ministrations which include putting on me nearly all my clothes but he does not insist on seeing me into bed at night!

I am exceedingly well & have recovered from the slight liver-sluggishness from having no exercise whatever during the last 2½ days of my flight.

One of the guests here is General Wauchope who was High Commissioner in Palestine & had us several times to dine with him when we were there. He asked specially after you whom he said he had so much enjoyed meeting, & wished me to remember him to you.

Enclosed is for Lydia.

If I am not able to write any more before the post goes I will just take this moment to send you my very dear love

Boy

I have already had two letters from EK {1}.

[Added later:]

I feel I have done much less than justice to the gorgeousness of the garden. Great shrubs of ? Petria {2} with blue flowers the colour of Ceanotus & nearly the shape of Wisteria, other shrubs of red Bougainvillée & trees with lovely coloured flowers, vast masses of stocks[,] roses etc.

Everything is on an immense scale. We had a press conference last night attended by some 200–250 press men & after reading a long agreed statemt, I had to answer some 50 questions. Everyone thinks it went very well & tht we did nt depart from a balanced presentation.

Alexander & Cripps are most delightful colleagues, and the V with his paucity of words is helpful & friendly.

I havent seen Agatha {3} yet but I think we shall have more opportunities for social intercourse when we move to our own abode. I suppose the temperature is between 80 & 90 but as it is very dry I have not experienced the slightest discomfort—only a pleasant pervading warmth.

I do so hope you are well & happy & have fairly decent weather.

—————

There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} Esther Knowles.

{2} Probably Petrea volubilis, purple wreath.

{3} Agatha Harrison.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

2 Willingdon Crescent, New Delhi.—The Cabinet mission have met with the Executive Council, the Viceroy, and the Provincial Governors. Discussions proper begin next week, but Gandhi has been invited for a preliminary chat. Has engaged to dine with Agatha Harrison and Mrs Naidu.

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Transcript

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

Mch 28. 46

My dear.

Since I wrote to you last my days have been more & more crowded up with engagements & I have had very little time to myself. We have been getting down to the main task of the mission & there is very little to tell you except wht has probably appeared in the British Press. We saw the V’s Executive Council on Tuesday {2} and after several talks with the V himself we saw the Provincial Governors for 4 hours this afternoon & are to see them again for 2 or 3 hours tomorrow morning {3}. Next week we are to start on the “discussions” proper on Monday {4} & they will continue for a fortnight. Among our visitors will be Gandhi {5} & I have invited him to come to this house for a previous chat a day or two before the formal interview.

The cool spell which we struck in Delhi has passed & we are now experiencing the normal weather of the year rising from about 80º to 90º. This is by no means unbearable but we are threatened with a further rise of 20º to 30º later on. It is all dry heat which is a great mercy.

I have taken to having a walk before breakfast about 7.30 to 8. Then to walk to my office through the V’s garden (about 10 min). I dont walk again till evening & then only if I have time.

I am looking forward to having a letter from you soon. I think you will probably find tht sending to the India Office as EK {6} does is better for I have already had several letters from her.

We have Agatha Harrison coming to dinner to night & tomorrow Mrs Sarojini Naidu. Saturday is a day with no engagements fixed at present & Sunday I am hoping Gandhi will be able to come at 7. PM.

Dear old Sweetheart I hope you are enjoying your dear self. It will be a great delight to come back to you but tht is a long way off yet.

Your own precious love
Boy.

—————

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

{1} This line of the address is handwritten.

{2} 26 March.

{3} Notes of these meetings are printed in The Transfer of Power, vol. vii (Nos. 6, 7, 14, 17, and 20).

{4} 1 April.

{5} Gandhi’s name is written in large letters.

{6} Esther Knowles.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

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

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Transcript

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

March 30. 46

Dearest.

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

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

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

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

My dear love to you
Boy

—————

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

{1} This line of the address is handwritten.

{2} 1 April.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Has spoken with Gandhi, who sends greetings. The Cabinet mission may go to Kashmir for a brief Easter holiday.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, Delhi
April 2 46

Darling

A brief line in the middle of a v. busy week.

A delightful talk with Gandhi last night. Nothing definite of course but just the establishment of mutual goodwill. He specially asked me to send you greetings.

It has been suggested we might go to Cashmir for a brief Easter holiday. It sounds attractive.

My dear love
Boy

Temperature reached 98º yesterday but only 60º at night. I am very well.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—They are busy with interviews. Yesterday’s visitors included the ruler of Bhopal, and they are meeting Azad, Gandhi, and Jinnah today and tomorrow. Is dining with Jinnah tonight. He and Alexander may fly to Agra on Sunday to see the Taj.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
April 3. 46

My dear.

We are in the thick of it. Yesterday we started interviews at 10 AM & finishing @ 5 went on to a social gathering of the Press (off the record) which lasted 1¾ hours of which for one hour I answered questions. This was followed by a dinner in our house for 3 prominent Moslem league supporters. The conversations lasted till 11.30 PM during which I had to break off to have ¾ hr talk with an emissary from Gandhi.

Today is not quite so busy, but I am to have Jinnah to dine tonight.

I am exceptionally well.

Among our visitors yesterday was the ruler of Bhopal {1}[,] who is the “Chancellor” of the Princes[,] who seemed to me a particularly efficient man. Today we are seeing Azad & Gandhi separately & tomorrow Jinnah.

Sunday {2} Alexander & I are thinking of flying over to Agra to see The Taj.

I have been so pleased to get your second letter written I think last Monday {3}. They take about a week to come. The other way viz the India Office takes about 4 days.

All my love to you & all
Boy

—————

{1} Nawab Sir Hamidullah Khan.

{2} 7 April.

{3} 25 March. The letter is not extant.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Reports on his health and daily routine. Has dined with Amrit Kaur. The mission are convincing many Indians that they mean business (with regard to independence) this time, but the mutual suspicion between Congress and Muslims presents a problem.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
April 5. 46

My dear

I think I have had two letters from you since I wrote last {1}. The lastest† was written Mch 30, 31, from Fways; so that it came in 5 days. I am delighted to hear you are having such glorious weather & are enjoying every minute of it.

Here it grows steadily warmer[,] 101º yesterday & I think even higher today. But I never felt better in my life. The doctor paid me an official visit the other day & gave me a clean bill of health. He said tht blood pressure should be rather below 100 + ones age & I guessed tht mine wd be 160. He took it & found it 150 which he said was just right. I knew it would be so because when I get into bed about midnight I never get out at all & sleep right through till about 6.45 when I get up. After exercises & bath I go out at 7.30 to walk to the Viceroys Garden. The flox† & stocks & other stalk-flowers are running to seed & the big shrubs including the red bougeinvillea & the blue Petria† are fading. But the big trees outside (? Jackoranda†) with blue flowers, & others with red & yellow are just coming out. I get back to breakfast at 8 on the verandah. I start with fruit—mangoes, papaya, banana, apple, then cornflakes with stewed fruit & raisins, then 2 weeny bits of toast with butter & jam. Then I walk to my office on the other side of the Viceroy’s house getting there about 9 o’c. I drive home to lunch about 1.15. I sleep a little & drive back about 3.15 & walk home about 7. Dinner is at 8 & generally political talks with Indians afterwards. Amrit Kaur came last night & said she had a lovely letter from you to which she was replying {2}.

We are [making] good progress with our programme of interviewing people but that of course is quite a different matter from saying tht we are making political progress. One thing is making progress, I think we are convincing most of the Congress & a large part of the press & some of the Moslems tht we mean business this time. But how to abate the mutual suspicion between Congress & Moslems is the question.

All my love
Boy

—————

There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} These letters do not survive.

{2} Amrit Kaur’s letter is PETH 1/33.

† Sic.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Reflects on the mission’s first fortnight, and sends greetings from friends. Alexander is better, but they have decided not to go to Agra. The mission still plan to go to Kashmir for Easter, but will not go to Simla.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
April 7. 46

My own Darling

Another Sunday has come round—a fortnight since we arrived. Light, heat[,] colour, experience, endeavour, endless patience, endurance & my family motto “per ardua stabilis”. My body is a perfect “brick”. It has neverd† wavered in its allegiance & has played the game magnificently. My spirit has not flagged. Your noble words written before I left {1}, to the effect that in a measure you & I had already escaped from the wheel of life & death have come to me from time to time. Your love token bearing witness to our relationship to the central life is with me. It is of course much too early even to begin to think of the time when I shall be coming back. There are many rivers still to cross, many adventures still to undertake, many problems still to face. But these are all part of the great enterprise on which I have set out & which God-willing I have to carry through to a successful issue.

Of one thing I am convinced—tht the fact of my coming @ 74 years of age has of itself had a considerable effect on Indian opinion. I send you a most friendly leading article; naturally they are not all like tht. One paper in paticular† is fond of writing the most disagreeable things. I call it “Albert’s arsenic[”]. (Albert Alexander is infuriated by it). Of course there are endless photo-graphs & cartoons. One of me as a cook is perhaps the best likeness. The other pictures I send are not of me at all but I have not cut them off as they illustrate the cartoonists art.

I went to the Quaker’s† service again today & met Mrs Pandit who sent greeting to you, Mrs Naidu & her daughter, Miss Shepherd, & a great many others including Mrs Brailsford who is coming with her husband to dine with us tonight {2}.

The temperature went up to 104º yesterday & is probably about the same today but my bed-room is “air conditioned” & comparatively cool. It is there tht I am now writing. I am very particular about wearing my topi whenever I go out, but medical opinion appears to have undergone a complete revolution since we were here 20 years ago. They now say tht if you wear dark glasses when you go out you need nt worry much about anything else. They may be right but I am not taking any chances.

Alexander is over his little indisposition but we abandoned our trip to Agra & the Taj in consequence of it. We are still planning to spend a few days in Cashmir for Easter but have abandoned any idea of going to Simla & personally so far as tht is concerned I had much rather stay here. For one thing I think we shall get on more expeditiously with our work, & if we can finish it in time to be back before th end of May you know what tht will mean to me.

Abundance of fruit for breakfast is a great joy. Today we had some strawberries.

Lydia’s watch stands me in good stead please give her my love. I hope sister May will enjoy her visit to some one[,] I forget whom. All my love to her.

Darling your very own
Boy

—————

There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} See PETH 8/68. The ‘love token’ mentioned shortly afterwards is evidently the ‘keepsake’ mentioned in Lady Pethick-Lawrence’s letter.

{2} Evamaria Brailsford's husband, H. N. Brailsford, had been sent to India by Reynolds’s News to observe the provincial elections. See F. M. Leventhal, The Last Dissenter (1985), p. 286.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

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

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Transcript

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

Dearest One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My dear I think of you with such love.

Your own
Boy

—————

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

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

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

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Refers to his forthcoming visits to Kashmir and the Taj. The mission has gained much goodwill, but their visitors do not expect that it will be able to resolve the impasse between Congress and the Muslim League.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
Saty April 13. 46

My beloved.

I may as well confess tht what I would love most wd be to spend Easter with my darling at Fways. But since tht is out of the question a few days recess in Cashmir has its charms. So many people have chanted the praises of Cashmir tht I shall be most interested to see how far their eulogies are justified. Then there will be also the relaxation from the heat here. Latterly we have been rather mercifully treated in tht respect. After rising day by day to a maximum of 105º (in the shade of course) the dust & rain storms brought it down with a run to a maximum of 85º & of course a minimum much below tht at night—almost cold. Now I expect it will creep up again & the flowers will gradually wither away. But the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom with their gorgeous blue flowers.

Meanwhile the political scene continues to run its course. None of our visitors seem to expect tht we shall be able to resolve the Congress-Moslem League impasse; on the other hand the Mission itself seems to have been accepted as sincere & to have won a fair measure of goodwill. After we come back from Cashmir all this remains to be put to the test.

Alexander & I plan to go to Agra tomorrow, starting fairly early, to see the Taj. We propose to be back here for lunch. Our intention is to leave here for Cashmir on Friday next April 19 returning Wednesday morning April 24.

A great budget of letters has just arrived—two from you dated 7th & 9th, two from E K 8th & 9th, one fm Kathleen Wilkinson & one from Arthur Henderson. I have only had time to glance at them as I want this letter to go by the bag. But I shall have leisure to read them all with enjoyment this Saturday afternoon.

My fond love to my darling
Boy

We had a party for all the Congress Working Committee last night. They all came. Presently we are doing the same for the Moslem League.

—————

There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} 21 April.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Has sent an account of his visit to Agra for distribution (see 6/159). Reflects on his colleagues’ personalities. The Cabinet mission must confront the ‘Communal problems’ when they return from Kashmir.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
April 14 46
(Not posted till 15th).

My very own darling.

Of course you have been specially in my thoughts today as I have been to Agra to see the Taj. I dont propose to say anything about that in this letter as I have written a short a/c to E K for her to copy & to send to you & various people {1}. As it will arrive during Easter I am afraid there will be a little delay before you get it but that doesnt matter does it. But you are constantly in my thoughts & I yearn to see you & be with you again. But I have just to be patient. The Taj was just radiant as ever & unsurpassable. Nearly 20 years since you & I saw it together {2}.

I rejoice greatly in all the lovely spring you are having. I have had leisure to read your recent letters several times & to enjoy them. They keep me well posted up in your doings & friends & thoughts.

All my colleagues are delightful & interesting & so different. Cripps the brilliant rapier witted improviser with strong left tendencies, vegetarian, teetotaler. Alexander the Britisher who likes to breakfast in bed & get up at 8 or 8.30, wants cheddar cheese & English food, & is so proud of the British navy, is going to read the lessons tonight at the English nonconformist church here. The Viceroy the soldier sparing of speech, suspicious of new fangled ideas & I imagine of all foreign ways of thought & action, straight forward, blunt but with his own sense of humour. And P-L wht of him? Well, not so resourceful as Cripps, not so downright as the V[,] nt so British as Alexander. Perhaps more judicial than any of them. Weighs up all the pros & cons. Hears all tht is said on both sides. Sums up & expresses the general opinion. Perhaps more than any of the others I have convinced the Indians of our sincerity. But sincerity alone won’t solve the Communal problems, & when we come back from Cashmir we have got to face it in earnest unless a miracle happens & the Indians solve it themselves.

The weather is really quite nice here in Delhi (unusually mild for the time of year we are told). It was hotter in Agra. I am very well. No mosquitoes & very few flies. Lizards frogs & mice in the house—none of which I think the “First Lord” (Alexander) really likes. I have bought exactly the right clothes.

Four times in my life I have had someone to go before me to prepare my bath—when I was a baby, when I was in prison, when I broke my ribs, & now when I am in India. I suppose it will happen again when I am very old! An odd thing is life!

I kiss my beloved, & send my love to all our circle

Boy.

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘wht’ for ‘what’ and ‘nt’ for ‘not’.

{1} See PETH 6/159.

{2} The Pethick-Lawrences first visited the Taj Mahal together in December 1926 and they returned there at the beginning of the following month. See PETH 6/130 and 6/132.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—(17th.) Reflects on the difficult month to come. Meliscent Shephard sends her love.—(18th.) Harold Large has appointed him one of his literary executors. Some changes in the Budget will affect them personally.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
April 17—1946

My dear.

When I start off on my journey to Kashmir on Friday morning it will be just a month since I started off on my journey to London. Just as I began then with a short holiday in a new place so I am beginning again. Just as I then saw in front of me a hot & difficult month so now I see a still hotter & still more difficult task in the time ahead. I cannot in the least tell wht the future has in store for me; Sir Stafford Cripps says he feels assured tht somehow the hour is striking when India is to attain her new freedom. I have kissed the little love token tht you gave me before I went away & have commended myself to God for Him to fit my little piece of Himself into his great plan as he thinks best. I am exceedingly well in health.

I saw Miss Melicent Shepherd a few days ago & had a very pleasant talk to her. She asked me to remember her to you & sent you her love. She says she is Cornish & her name is really the same as the French “Melisande”. I shall keep this letter open until tomorrow as it will probably be about a week after you receive this before you receive another from me. I do hope you will have a lovely Easter time.

Thursday. I dined with Auckinleck† last night & a number of generals. One of them said he knew Harold Large {2} & had heard from him saying tht he & I were to be H L’s literary executors when he passed on.

All my love to my own blessed darling.

Ever your very own
Boy

You will note several changes in the budget which affect us. You & I & E M P are all entitled to cash part of post-war credits. Changes in Estate Duty are nil on your Estate.

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

{1} i.e. Tunis.

{2} Not identified.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Guest House No. 2, Srinagar, Kashmir.—Gives an account of the Cabinet mission’s visit to Kashmir.

Delhi.—Has now (24th) returned to Delhi.

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Transcript

Guest House No 2, {1}
Srinagar, Kashmir

April 19. 46

My dear.

What a strange unreal world I am living in! I came over the mountains this morning. Great snowy peaks at a height of 12000 to 15000 ft with some running up to over 20000. Then down into this sunny plain—the vale of Kashmir—some 5000 above sea level. We were met by the Prime Minister & the Resident {2} & brought away here. All the streets were lined with people to see us pass. Neither welcome nor hostility from the crowds—just curiosity. This place has an English climate. The almond blossom just over, the hawthorn (not really hawthorn but a kind of spirea) & the fruit blossom in flower. It is very lovely. Maud Coote (Foulds) is coming to see me on Sunday {3}. I am warned tht she is very odd. I am not surprised. I will tell you about wht I make of her after she has come & gone.

I had another interview with Gandhi last evening. He is very friendly personally—so are they all which is a most important & valuable thing. But what help or hindrance we shall get from any of them when we really bend ourselves to trying to solve the riddle of the Sphinx remains to be seen.

Sunday morning. Yesterday we drove 60 miles up the valley & up a mountain stream to a little island on to which we crossed on foot. We walked up to a little shrine & from there only 200 or 300 further up was snow in a ravine. The sun was very hot & I did not go on. I thought at 7000 ft up it was probably wiser not to do too much. We picnicked out with food brought from here & later I walked round the island & after the others had had tea we drove home. Cripps did not come with us as he went fishing with Turnbull & Fraser. They caught a large number of very large trout which they have since distributed among various houses round here.

It started raining yesterday evening & is raining fast now. But it was fine for me to have a morning walk before breakfast. I climbed half way up to a monastery on the top of a hill just opposite this guest-house. Presently I am going to church & am to read the lesson—from “Revelation”. I have conned it though so as not to stumble. I belive† the Maharajah is coming to lunch with us. His own house is being repaired & he lives in a small villa. Later Maud Coote is coming to see me, & later if the rain leaves off, which seems unlikely, we are to go on the lake. There are hundreds of houseboats on the river & lake in which many people (retired Europeans & Indians) live all the year round.

On the day of our arrival (Friday) we had a short drive to two fascinating public gardens. The feature of each of them was a stream running down in cascades all the way. One of them had 12 terraces & a cascade above each.

Later. It rained all the morning, I drove to Church. The Canon preached a sermon all about the resurrection of the Spring & the coming of the flowers. The Church Yard instead of being a cemetery is a very beatiful† flower garden—pansies, tulips, cowslips, primroses, nermophilas, aubrecchia, & hundreds of others & a lovely little Japanese Maple & a Judas tree.

The Maharaja {4} came to lunch. He & Sir Stafford Cripps talked fishing for about 1½ hours. I am going to see him tomorrow morning to talk politics. He has planned out a trip on the river for tomorrow afternoon & a journey up a valley for Tuesday to see wild bears.

Maud Coote came at 2.15. She struck me as very sane & most interesting. She gave me a book of her poems some of which I have read since she has gone & I liked v. much. She herself is of course much older & plumper though she eats very little. She sent her love to you & said she would pray Ramakrishna for the Cabinet Mission.

After tht I went for a walk along the bank of the river & seen† the many houseboats & the back of the shops including Maud’s “Kig Products”.

Tuesday evening. Monday we had a lovely paddle on the lake. 5 men paddled in each boat of which there were three. (I had of course to be a passenger). Later I drove with the Maharajah about 20 miles up a valley & saw a wild boar but no bears. We visited his trout hatchery & saw some enormous trout 10 & 12 & 14 lbs. We had lunch & tea there. I have also played billiards & snooker with Alexander & gave him a considerable handicap & beat him in all but one game. We start for Delhi tomorrow at 7 AM weather permitting. I shall post this from there. I am very well. I love you very much.

Just your own
Boy

This is a very inadequate description of a very lovely place & a charming holiday.

[Added at the head of the letter:]

April 24 Back in Delhi

3 letters from E K & 2 from you dated April 14 & 16. I look forward to reading them but do not want to delay sending this off.

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} This line of the address is handwritten.

{2} Ram Chandra Kak and W. F. Webb.

{3} 21 April, Easter Day.

{4} Sir Hari Singh.

† Sic.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Is busy but well. The future progress of the mission is uncertain, as is the date of their return, but they expect to leave for Simla on Wednesday. Has written a letter of condolence to Lady Keynes (see 2/259).

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