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Circular letter by F. W. Lawrence

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

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Transcript

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.

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Transcript

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

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{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.

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Transcript

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

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{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.

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Transcript

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

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{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’.

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Transcript

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

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{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.

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Transcript

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

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{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.)

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Transcript

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

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{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.

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Transcript

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

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{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.

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Transcript

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

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{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.

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Transcript

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

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{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.

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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

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{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.

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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

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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.

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Transcript

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.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Is proud of his success in his meetings. Is sorry she has to go away when they have so much to talk about.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terrace— | Dukes Rd W.C.
13. 7. 00

Dear Mr Lawrence.

As I stepped over my threshold at 11 o’clock last night, I found your letter. I am sorry I was out. Tell me. Am I a very sentimental woman? I cant help feeling a thrill of pride—when I think of your toppling over those two & going on to break your lance with Chamberlain himself {1} —It reminds me of Sir Gareth {2} who had to fight the three knights who called themselves fantastically—Morning—Noon—and Night: These barred the way to the most terrible of all—the giant-knight surnamed Death—who was never seen—but dwelt in his stronghold: But this terrible fourth foe turned out to be a little child under an erected disguise. Bye† the way, Sir Gareth’s cry from boyhood on was this—

Live pure, speak true, right wrong, follow the King
Follow Christ, the King, —
Else, wherefore born?"

Ah well! Of course I know that when it comes to the hard issue, there is absolutely no room for any sort of sentiment—It is a very complex economic & legal question bristling with side issues & immense difficulties. But you must give me ten minutes off now & then, to indulge a woman’s fancies! It pleases me & does not hurt you!

And you mustn’t mind if that wish you gave me—“the one and only wish”—is a little modified: It is not so much now that—the truth, (the abstract truth) may prevail—but that the truth-bearer may prevail:

I am very busy all today. I have been alone all the week—& still am alone—& I have to hold my head together lest I should forget something important. I am engaged right up to 9 or 9.30 to night {3}.

It is rather hard lines that I have to go off for a fortnight, when there is so much we have to talk about. Tomorrow morning I shall not have a free minute before I leave at noon: Still—I suppose it does not really matter. Philosophy! where are you?. Take my thoughts and my one wish—modified you know.

Yours
Emmeline Pethick

—————

{1} Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary.

{2} Cf. Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, ‘Gareth and Lynette’.

{3} However, Emmeline sent the telegram message ‘Shall be free seven thirty’ from Euston station at four in the afternoon (PETH 7/58), and Fred paid her a visit that evening (see PETH 7/61).

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace (Duke’s Road, W.C.).—She and Cope commend the positions taken up by Lawrence in the enclosed document, but do not think he should submit it to Chamberlain.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terrace.
14. 7. 00.

Dear Mr Laurence.

I have carefully read & considered the enclosed & have shown it to Mr Cope & consulted him upon it; we are of the same opinion: You have taken up impregnable positions. Nothing could be better or more to the purpose. There is, as far as our judgement goes[,] nothing to add or take away.

At the same time I find that he feels as I do—that it is an undesirable thing that you should submit this to Mr Chamberlain or should see him. Not that I have now the smallest fear that you will be moved from these positions: But I do not think it is a fair thing. I do not think it is desirable that you should commit yourself to Mr Chamberlain in this way—especially in writing. In an interview you will be at a great disadvantage. Your position to Mr Chamberlain is one of very acute criticism. It is necessary to criticise a public man’s motives & to doubt at certain times his good faith. But it is impossible when talking to a man to impute motives—or challenge his good faith. Thus a great part of your objection must be concealed & your argument weakened. However I only put this in this way, so that you may weigh advantages and disadvantages. Whatever you decide to do, it will be the right thing—for you. You only can judge. This is written in great haste in a few snatched moments—but it has not been hastily considered.

Yours sincerely,
Emmeline Pethick

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

Colville House, Lowestoft.—The place is lovely, and they are all happy.

—————

Transcript

Colville House | Lowestoft {1}.
16. 7. 00—

Dear Mr Laurence.

Just a word of thanks for your letter which was quite correctly addressed.

This is a lovely place and we are all as happy & contented as it is possible to be. It is a blue world just now. You know Watt’s† picture “Hope” {2}—that sort of blue.

Yours sincerely
Emmeline Pethick.

—————

{1} Cf. PETH 7/53.

{2} Either of the two paintings of this name painted by George Frederic Watts in 1886. The better-known of the two was presented by the artist to the National Gallery of Art (the Tate Gallery) in 1897, the year the gallery opened, and this may be where Emmeline saw it, though both versions had been exhibited publicly in the 1880s.

† Sic.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

Colville House, Lowestoft.—Supports his decision (to go to South Africa). Is unable to invite him to Lowestoft, as one of the children may have scarlet fever. Asks him to let her know the nature of his feelings towards her before he leaves.

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Transcript

Colville Ho., Lowestoft {1}
17. 7. 00

Dear Mr L.,

Your two letters this morning (they both came this morning) were a great surprise to me. I have nothing to say of course, except that I am sure if you think this is the best thing, that it is the best thing {2}, and except that it seems a very long time till the end of September.

May all good go with you. I am glad that you came to see me on Friday evening {3}. I would ask you, if it were possible, to come to Lowestoft, that I might give you God Speed!, only that one of my children has sickened of {4} measles or Scarlet (the Doctor cannot tell yet) and I am nursing her. If it is Scarlet, as I suspect, it would not be right to run the risk. The child is homesick and fretting, and I am writing this hastily to the tune of sobs! You had better burn it at once. I will disinfect it.

As this is the last letter perhaps that I shall feel any certainty about, there are one or two things that I want to say. {5} The first is, Will you write me one letter before you go, telling me freely what is in your heart? I can quite imagine that all this has changed the nature of your love for me, that you want me now as friend and comrade; if so, I shall understand perfectly, and I will be a true comrade to you. But if it is still the same, do not forget that I am—I mean treat me as a woman, not a—philosopher! I think it was the audacity with which you asked that preposterous question in that preposterous way! that won me; don’t leave any initiative to me.

I am afraid I can’t write any more, the child is crying. I have so many things to think of and I want to get this off by first post this morning to make sure. I had a dream last night. I was in trouble and it is was† quite dark, and then you were there and took my hand and it was all right. When I got your letter my first thought was, “Where is my dream?” But of course that was quite irrelevant. I wish you God-speed with all my heart.

Farewell.

Yours, Comrade,
E. P.

——————

This letter is written untidily in pencil and is not easy to read. Some of the readings are conjectural.

{1} The address printed on the letter-head—Worcestershire Golf Club, Malvern—has been struck through.

{2} Lawrence had decided, at his uncle’s suggestion, to go to South Africa and investigate the political situation there for himself. See Fate Has Been Kind, p. 52.

{3} 13th.

{4} Struck through, presumably by mistake.

{5} ‘I will disinfect … say.’ is one sentence in the MS, divided by a colon.

† Sic.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

Colville House, Lowestoft.—Urges him to write to her while he is away.

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Transcript

C H, L {1}
17. 7 00

D M L {2}

Once more the horror of the written word instead of the spoken word seizes me. The written word can only be trusted when you understand and know perfectly the other’s point of view. Let nothing written by me ever puzzle you or trouble you—I am quite content, though I have always found writing the hardest thing in the world. I am bound to tell you that, you know.

That brings me to the next heading in the discourse, another confession. I cannot do with he-roic people, people who suffer in grand silence, and bear their own burden and another’s—the people, you know, that one is always supposed to admire. I love dear weak human people, who—well, seriously. Don’t talk about troubling me with your letters. How can I be troubled except by your no letters, by a mist or a blind let down between us. I have always combatted (“there it is again” —this warrior woman, are you not afraid of her? —no, you are not, are you?) the idea that anything, however heroic, however sublime, however self forgetful—that anything is so worthy a gift for those we love—only two or three at most in a life time—as the childlike truth. Therefore, you see, though my besetting sins are independence and satanic pride, these two things seem to have no place now—now that you are going away for such a long time; noth-ing matters except telling you just what I feel. Now go with my blessing, go without doubt or anxiety or afterthought. If any of your thoughts or words naturally belong to me, give them to me. Letters will always reach me quite safely. No one ever dreams of touching my letters except sister Mary, and she will know your writing. I am yours {3} as you would have me be.

The last thing you said to me was, “Then we understand each other perfectly”. My reply was, “Perfectly”. Let that stand. Burn this letter and wash your hands. I have burnt my hands with carbolic acid. I don’t think there can be any risk.

—————

This letter is written untidily in pencil and is not easy to read. Some of the readings are conjectural. The letter-head bears the arms and address of Mansfield House, Canning Town, E.

{1} i.e. ‘Colville House, Lowestoft.’

{2} i.e. ‘Dear Mr Lawrence.’

{3} Reading uncertain.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

Colville House, Lowestoft.—Has moved into a cottage with the sick child. Dis-cusses her reaction to the news of Lawrence’s decision (to go to South Africa), and explains why she was so quick to tell ‘the Daddy’ (Mark Guy Pearse) about Law-rence’s proposal.

————

Transcript

C H, L {1}
19. 7. 00

D Mr L {2}

It is Thursday evening, half past six, and the superb day is at at† its highest of splendour—floods of golden light and flight of birds, and dance and hum of insects; and as I sit at my window, and know that there is a chance of one more word from me to you reaching you certainly if posted to-night at half past eight, I can’t help it. Great sweet peace and joy, thanks for all the infinite beauty and the great gift of life are mine. I want to give them with all the blessing of my soul as my last giving, before you leave England.

First let me tell you that I have moved the child and myself into a suitable cottage, two large good rooms—one upstairs for the child, into which I have moved two little hospital beds, and a room downstairs for myself looking into the garden, where I am now sitting. The danger is now removed from the rest of my little ones, the little patient is going on speedily, and as far as it is possible to foresee all is well.

It has been an anxious two days, but I do really think that now everything has been successfully guarded and that there is no further need for anxiety. Your two letters yesterday—you can understand that it would be so—were an overwhelming surprise for the moment. Like Alice in Wonderland, sudden Cheshire cat like disappearances rather upset my nerves!!! Ask the Daddy {3}; he will tell you that he always begins to say Goodbye 10 minutes before he has to go, a concession to this known weakness. I like to prepare my mind, collect my thoughts, remember all the important things that ought to be said. I like a certain order and restraint. I like to be composed and dignified!! I never present any common sense or wisdom until I have had time to think. Therefore I like people to give me time to think!! But of course you couldn’t. Well, it don’t matter.

I have laughed to myself. Of course you cannot understand letters, at least not mine. It is quite hopeless. You see, you would always want me to be there to explain them to you. Moral: never waste a moment of your precious time or a fraction of your … brain cells in trying to. With your mathematical brain you would of course seize the most obvious meaning, and if so, unless I were on the political talk or on the moral philosophy talk or some abstract subject, you would be sure to be wrong. For instance, the Lord only knows what you made of the statement that the most difficult thing for me to do is to wait; what I meant was, that I couldn’t sit doing nothing, saying nothing, while there yet remained anything to be done or said before the fist fell; of course I can wait for circumstances, for things and events that are the common of† destiny, but I won’t wait with [a] word in my mouth that is ready to be spoken. I can’t face regret for a thing I might have prevented. I can’t have a long uncertainty, that there is any possibility of ending. Enfin, I couldn’t bear to think of you going into the unknown, alone.

Now, there is just one word more I want to say. I want to explain to you—not that I have the least fear of your misunderstanding, but I want to explain (that’s right) why I was so quick to tell the Daddy. He was so impossible the other night. I never knew him like that before. But the truth was that his dear old heart was broken up. There was all that gladness and outflowing love to you that he spoke of, but there had been the other thing too, what I knew there would be—the ghastly dread that now he wouldn’t be so necessary; and he had come to me every day that week to be comforted and have the tears kissed out of his dear eyes. Now he knows and is quite quite satisfied. You see, I knew just how it would be. And I was going away, and by the time I get back he will be going away until next September. And I didn’t know what the future was going to bring, and if we (he and I) had once been separated, it would have been awful. Either he might not have been the first to know (his sacred right) or it would have been a letter; and even if I could have made it all right afterwards, I should have heard the heart’s cry from the distance, and should have known no rest day or night till I could have got to him. I had to guard against that. But our confidence is quite quite {4} safe with him, the most absolutely safe that is is possible to be. We (he and I) have got into the habit of never speaking of each other to anyone; the world is too vulgar to be trusted. We have always known that, and that sort of reserve has become second nature to both of us. He has been my foothold on this world. He picked me up on the lonely shore, a baby washed in by the waves, and he has carried me ever since.

Well now, this is really all, positively the one last appearance. And go with this, mon brave!

Your
E

PS. I should get a letter from you to-morrow. I shall not answer it. But you will know that it is all right, nothing {5} but the blessing of perfect peace from me to you. You will rest assured.

You will understand—yes.

—————

This letter is written untidily in pencil. Some of the readings are conjectural. A number of abbreviated words (such as ‘mathl’, ‘wd‘, ‘diffict’, ‘to-m’) have been expanded. The letter-head bears the address of Mansfield House, Canning Town, E.

{1} i.e. ‘Colville House, Lowestoft.’

{2} i.e. ‘Dear Mr Lawrence’.

{3} Mark Guy Pearse.

{4} The second ‘quite’ is underlined twice.

{4} At the head of the last sheet, which begins here, is a cancelled version of the beginning of the letter, up to ‘window’, verbally identical.

† Sic.

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