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Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

Colville House, near Lowestoft.—Welcomes him home, and suggests meeting as soon as possible. Is distressed by the accounts (of the war) in the papers.

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Transcript

Till Saturday Sept. 8th
Colville House, nr Lowestoft

My dear Comrade,

There are two words from me you must find waiting for you—Welcome and Thanks! It has been a great joy to me since I received your letter on the 25 to think of you on your way home, to think of seeing you so much sooner than I expected, and it is now when I think of this letter greeting you in England.

Thank you for your letters; they have been so much to me, and I thought it so good of you to give me your thoughts and the picture of your surroundings so fully.

And now since we are persons “of purpose and of action” (I can’t help it, I always want to say wicked things when I’m happy!) it beseems us to be very business like, and having such important affairs to talk over, it is well that we should meet as soon as possible. I therefore take this opportunity of saying that I have a wholly free Sunday {1}. Of course you have a great deal to do and a great many to see, and you must not disappoint anybody or embarrass yourself in any way. It occurs to me that you may be spending the Sunday with your family. In that case you might be able to come early, say about 10 o’cl. on your way, and we could have a talk for an hour or two before you meet them at lunch. But if you can stay to lunch with me, or give me any other part of the day as well, you know how glad I shall be and you must consider me as being quite free to fall into your arrangements. All the other days of the ensuing week I am more or less engaged, and time would have to be arranged; you would hardly be likely to find me at home if you came on the chance of it.

Send me a word to say if you received my second letter and the little things I sent you. I hope you did, but I tremble. I never dreamt that you would not stay, even longer than your own outside limit. They will be all right anyhow, and I took every care with the directions. I have been writing to you as if I were on board ship this last week, an answer to your letters. You shall be your own postman and shall read it at your leisure—not now.

Yours,
E.P.

P.S. I have just received your second letter from the Cape, telling me just what I wanted to know. Thanks. You don’t know how very deep has been the interest with which I have read it. I have avoided all mention of the political question in my letters to you. I could not and would not presuppose your conclusions after such a very different sort of evidence from that to which hitherto we had both had access. But it is only by an effort of will that I can read the Papers every day; it is so heartrending, if there is any imagination at all to see. I do not wonder that Olive Schreiner with her intense sympathy for the weak against the strong does not believe in God. I think no man can know the horror of brute-force, as a woman knows it. A woman sees and feels that everything she holds best and most sacred in life can be crushed in a moment by the assertion of brute-force. Once she sees that triumphant and her foothold in life is gone. Olive Schreiner’s passion has identified her always with the worsted. I know that even with me there has been this sort of feeling during this awful year—the appalling sense of brute force trium-phant as the god of this world, the soul crushed, beaten down, vanquished.—I did not mean to be led into talk now.

I suppose you have had the one letter only, that first one, written first after a big strain was over and the gates of life and joy lifted up!—a mood of almost inexpressible happiness. I can only hope that it fell in harmoniously with a mood of yours. And now I am waiting. I shall be home at 5 o’clock on Saturday. If possible let me have a line or telegram to say when you are coming. I leave here soon after noon on Saturday, so do not risk my missing a letter here. I hope that you can come on Sunday. Oh, I do welcome you home. The thought of you has come to be lately like the feel of the earth under my feet, the strong foundation. God bless you, my dear dear Comrade. There never was a time when a man’s championship of the soul and truth could have been so saving to my spirit and faith. For this, you have the thanks of my heart and soul.

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{1} 9th.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace (Duke’s Road, W.C.).—Encloses a report of a lecture by Professor Herron and a book by Richard Jefferies, and expresses her admiration of Wagner. Commends Cope’s personality, and refers to South African affairs.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terrace.

  1. Feb. 1901

Dear Mr Lawrence.

The books arrived but—where is the MSS. {1}? Have you let it fall by mistake into the waste paper basket—or what? If you can find it, I should be glad to have it for association’s sake.

The other day I had the enclosed report from my friend Professor Herron {2} of one of his Sunday lectures, and it seemed to me to offer a common (because comprehensive) ground to our two standpoints in regarding this subject. I refer specially to the last three paragraphs of the report. I would like to have it back, for these lectures are parts of a book that Professor Herron is writing and he likes me to talk things over with him. If I did as I “oughter” I should try at any rate to write a Paper he has asked for his International Socialist Review {3} on “the relation of the socialist movement to the religion of the future”.

I am glad that you liked the Wagner book, and went and picked out the very part that I most desire to hear all through in opera. I hope I may be able to hear and see at least “The Walküre” in June at Covent Garden. The Bayreuth plan is perforce postponed. It is just what you say, “the whole of life seems set out before me”. Wagner seems to me the man whose conception of life is adequate to the mental conception of, say, the solar systems. He conceives life immense in passion, pulse and power commensurate with knowledge. Here at last we have an intensity to match our conceptions of space and time—intensity to infuse eternity itself with living warmth and the vital beauty of everlasting youth. Here then lies it seems to me the contrast between Wagner and Tolstoi. To the one belong youth and force and complexity, to the other old age, insensibility and the reduction of life to a rational abstraction. One is the universe of the solar systems, the other a world of extinct fires like the moon.

I have come to the conclusion that bitterness is the warp of the noblest or almost noblest natures. (Though of course there are cheap sham imitations of cynicism as there are of everything.) But one so often finds underneath it the ardently idealistic temperament; it is the recoil of the heart from pitiless circumstance.

I think I never knew anyone of so passionately chivalrous a temperament as Mr Cope, or anyone with such self-reckless pity for weak things. I know what it has been to keep him “chained-up” when any wrong or injustice was being done to one of the girls, or to any little child. You cannot possibly have any idea of what the suffering of women and children has meant to him. I don’t say that this capacity for pity is (standing by itself) a strength to a man or a good thing to have, but God only knows what the oppressed would do without it, or where their champions would come from, if there were not these uncalculating natures. Yes I think you could be of use to him. I have always thought so. Do try.

I thought the letter on Wednesday a very good one, just the right thing said in the best way. Did you notice a very pathetic account of Kruger in Tuesday’s paper, an interview with an Englishwoman? I was interested very in Graydon’s letter today. What do you think of its suggestions?

And now I am sending this with another book {4}, quite a different sort of book from anything else written—not because now or at any time you should read anything but what suits you, but because it is as easy for me to send or for you to return as not, n’est-ce-pas? Jeffreys†, as you probably know, was a naturalist and his other books are written in a different vein, but none without the quality of “mind-fire”, which does not invariably go with the scientific spirit. There are two or three pages from p. 111 especially which I always find very beautiful and touching.

Yours sincerely,
Emmeline Pethick

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{1} Probably the MS sent with PETH 7/68.

{2} George Davis Herron, an American clergyman and Christian Socialist. Emmeline’s ‘talks’ with him were presumably by letter.

{3} The International Socialist Review was a monthly journal published at Chicago by the Marxist publishers Charles H. Kerr & Co. from July 1900. It was not in fact Herron’s journal—it was edited till 1908 by A. M. Simons—but Herron contributed ‘A Plea for Unity of American Socialists’ to the December number (vol. i, no. 6, pp. 321–8) and, from January 1901, a regular section entitled ‘Socialism and Religion’.

{4} Richard Jefferies, The Story of My Heart (1883).

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace (Duke’s Road, W.C.).—Expresses delight at his suggested project (probably in connection with The Echo), and suggests likely supporters. Has arranged for the publication of a notice about the ‘Greene Ladye’ holiday hotel. Describes a visit to Edward Stott’s studio.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terr.
2 April 1901

Dear Mr Lawrence,

This is good news! {1} The best thing I have heard of since the C. C. Election! It is ripping!

I know that Mr Cope and Mr Greenhalgh will feel the greatest possible interest in the project when you tell them about it. And Mr Greenhalgh may be able to come into it financially. It is just the thing he would like to do, I know, but it may be that this new Building Scheme will have absorbed him in that way. Don’t ask Mr Cope. He can’t afford it, and it hurts him to refuse.

The man you ought to get into it is Mr Montague Harris. I happen to know that he has a little money that he wants to invest in this sort of way. He is thinking of putting into something else, but probably this project would appeal to him more than the other. Of course this particular bit of information is a matter of strict confidence; you will understand that I should not like him to know that I have spoken of it.

But apart from this, there is no reason why you should not approach him on the project if you think well, and say that Miss Neal {2} and I suggested that you should write to him (knowing that he would be interested). His address if you want it is Cyprus House, Harestock, Winchester, and his initials are G. M. He is just the right sort, a Liberal of the best tradition, inclining towards Socialism from the old Liberal side; he has not yet quite got his foothold in present Politics. As it happens he is just leaving his house at Winchester and wants to settle near London; he wants a definite occupation and has asked us to find him a job! It seems to me that it might turn out to be just the right thing. If you think you would like Sister Mary to write to him, I am sure she would do so.

She has just come back from a satisfactory interview with Stead. He is going to let us put “The Greene Ladye” Holiday Hotel into the May Number {3}—an article and appeal.

Do you know Edward Stott’s pictures? We went to his studio last Sunday; they give me an abiding joy. There was one, the full river about 2 miles N. of Littlehampton—the full river and the low flat country and great sky blue with the mist of evening and suffused with the light of an early moon. There are some boys bathing and watering horses. The horses are just lovely, in their expression and weariness and dignity; the whole picture is daily work, and—doom, and—peace. I don’t know which you feel most—the truthfulness, or tenderness. Look for it in the Academy show.

On Thursday I am going back to Mother Earth. The swift came (in me) last Saturday. Do you know how the first time the wind gets round to the South you feel the swallow in your blood? Some people call it “the go fever”. You cannot stay where you are, you must go—somewhere!

Easter, the sweetest festival of all the year. I shall keep it with the awakening earth, and shall be close in thought to the human lives that have been and are bound up with mine. I will greet you on the resurrection day as they do in Russia: “Joy be with you! Christ is risen!”

Well! I am glad to take this bit of good news away with me.

Yours sincerely,
Emmeline Pethick

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{1} The reference is probably to Lawrence’s decision to acquire a controlling interest in the Echo newspaper.

{2} ‘Miss Neal’ above ‘Sister Mary’ struck through.

{3} Of the Review of Reviews.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, (Duke’s Road, W.C.).—Discusses forthcoming meetings, and asks for a copy of his Echo leader. Describes a luxurious supper.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terr.
Sunday, 5. 4. 01

Dear Mr Lawrence,

I am sorry that I cannot be present at the Meeting tomorrow, especially as there are so many interesting points to bring forward—the Blatchford idea for one, and the idea about specializing in an industry and working up advertisements with reference to it. But as I shall not see you, I have a word to say about Friday. I remembered after sending off a hasty reply to you on Saturday that Friday is the day of our Meeting for “The Greene Ladie” at Lady Montague’s. That doesn’t matter except—we had better fix the hour for 7 instead of 6 o’clock. I hope this will not shorten the evening. I hope Mr Sauer will not be in haste to leave. Percy will be at that Meeting, and of course will come back with us. I am writing him a note by this post.

I missed the Echo yesterday—(Sat.)—was your leader in it?—if so you might send it me from the office “gefälligst”.

I am sending you one of my works tomorrow written nearly 7 years ago. I read it today—it turned up—and was amused and I think you will be to see that I had not got very far away from it after all these years! If you have nothing better to do—vain surmise—you can read it in the train on Thursday; only send it back to me as it is my sole copy.

Last night I returned to what should have been a fireless and dark home! to find what looked like a bit of conjuring: the fire bright—the lamp lit—a dainty supper spread—a little bottle of wine—strawberries and cream—and in the oven a great salmon trout done to a turn—with hot plates & everything just ready. “Is it my fault,” I said, “if I lose my immortal soul?” “Have I not striven not to be a pampered woman?” And all the while in my heart of hearts I loved it—the luxuries themselves perhaps, but certainly the fairy tale, which suited my fancy quite. (This is a secret, by the way.) Have you read R. L. Stevenson’s Vailima Letters? If not, you oughter. Talk about a temperament! “But,”—you will say—“we are not talking about temperaments or didn’t oughter be; this is the Echo Office and nothing is allowed here but business.” “Kindly keep to the point, Madam.” Oh well then, the point is—briefly—that I remain sincerely,

Emmeline Pethick

Talking about “the Apostle” and “the degradation of labour”, the enclosed little note may interest you to see. This is the side of the Apostle that his comrades in work know best. This is written after a party that my children gave to their parents, when A. S. was present.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, W.C.—Reflects on their renewed understanding of one another.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terrace. | W.C.
13. 5. 01

Dear Mr Lawrence.

It is a matter of deep thankfulness & of gladness to me, that the mists have been swept away: that we can see each other again. I feel that every bit of misunderstanding is gone completely.

I can only wish now that the sense of an infinite security in God’s purpose in your life which came to you at the darkest hour may remain with you & abide with you now & for ever. Some sort of benediction has fallen on us both.

You hit a good many right nails on the head yesterday, you dear stupid old thing! One was your conclusion that I am a queer woman. That shows an amount of insight I shouldn’t have given you credit for—it was quite subtle! And another was your assertion that in a funny sort of way you understand me better than any of them: how you came to find that out, beats me quite. (Perhaps now that I admit it, you wont “quite agree”!—(you dont mind me teasing you a bit, do you?).)

Now there is just one word that I want to say—one word about yourself, & your mental habit of analysis & introspection which has (as you say) become a kind of tyranny: (I am not thinking of the personal bearing but simply of your health & balance.) Try your principle of non-resistance on your self. Dont struggle with this habit, you will only get entangled, you will only find that you are at war in yourself.
Give it rope: let it work itself out if it will, & exhaust its own power. Detach yourself, if you can. I can imagine a possibility of just simply breaking the connection between your self & the mental habit, so that the wheel can go round & round & the crank or whatever it is, be still, or if that isn’t possible, go with it, as you go down a hill on a bicycle coasting, knowing that you will eventually come to the bottom & that there will come the time for the other thing.

But dont have the waste of war, and dont resist any part of yourself.

And if you were to try what a little inspection would do sometimes just to balance the other thing: perhaps you wouldn’t be such a blind old bat as you are sometimes—you might even notice for instance next time you see her that Mrs Gwyther is a pretty woman!

Yours sincerely.
Emmeline Pethick

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Encloses a draft manifesto. Suggests he write a letter to take advantage of the Daily News’s effort to ‘work up’ Merriman and Sauer. Discusses arrangements for going to the theatre and the opera, and refers to Club activities.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terr. | Dukes Rd W.C.
16. 5. 01 {1}

Dear Mr Lawrence.

I enclose my draft: The point is to be comprehensive—& yet so far as possible, definite: I just send it for what it is worth—without waiting to show it to Mary even.

I see that there is an effort in Daily News to work up Merriman & Sauer even at the 11th hour—This ought to be made the most of. Can you write a letter by way of doing the very first next thing—& can we turn anybody on to the question. Can we get a little bit of “go” into the S. A Conciliation Talk to Percy—will you? I dont think his name ought to be used at the foot of a letter or publicly unless we really want it: because he has so much that is not his to lose: (you will understand just how far I think that this consideration weighs—)

We had a sweet day yesterday “round the billy fire”, Mary & Mac & “Katimole”, & my “Sweetest of All”, whose 7th birthday it was. I came home to the Club & then was too tired to do more than look at your Manifesto.

I am going this afternoon with dear Brother Jack to “Pelleas & Melisande” {2}. The angel never dreams of going anywhere without taking us along too!

By the way, I want to hear “The Walküre”, & you never know to a day or two when it is coming on at Covent Garden. You have simply to watch the papers & make a rush for the tickets. I am taking Emma Rozier (who lost her little sister last Friday). Shall I take a third ticket for you on spec: they cost 10/6. It is the one you want to hear. I daresay somebody else would take it if you couldn’t come.

One thing more. I want the children to have a very happy time at Canning Town on Sat. week (25th). I want them to come to the Residence to tea about 4.30. They love parties & I am consumed with the desire to give them every mortal thing they want. You know they are no trouble to entertain—they are not ordinary children, are they?—so keen, & so gentle. Of course I am writing to Percy, but I want you to be there, if you can possibly manage it.

Yes, I admire Miss Octavia Hill’s work very much—also above & beyond her accomplishment she was a pioneer, & that means the original mind & the heroic temper. I feel that I have heaps to talk to you about, but I may be wrong, it is only a vague impression!

Sincerely yours
Emmeline Pethick

P.S. Mac has just come in, & Mary. They approve of my draft.

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{1} ‘16’ altered from ‘15’.

{2} Mrs Patrick Campbell revived Maeterlinck’s play, with music by Fauré, for five mat-inees at the Royalty Theatre from 13 to 17 May (Monday to Friday). See The Times, 13 May 1901, p. 7.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, W.C.—Encloses items (copies of a manifesto?) for distribution to friends and relations.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terrace, W.C.

Dear Mr Lawrence,

I am relying upon your energy & influence to get rid of the enclosed {1} amongst your friends & relations in the West End!

Yours sincerely,
Emmeline Pethick

19 May 1901

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{1} Perhaps copies of a manifesto. See PETH 7/81–2.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence (incomplete?)

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Describes a quiet Sunday alone. Accepts his advice about funding the Club’s activities.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd WC.
21. May 1901

Thank you for your letter. Yes it was a day of days on Sunday {1}. I let all the others go off early & had a day of solitude in the blue kitchen—solitude broken only by the happy presence of my little Sunday visitor.

I thought perhaps somebody who had not been abused for a whole week would be ready for a little more scolding! But the dews of peace were falling all day long as the hours swing silently & slowly by—and the splendour of the sky changed from blue to gold & from gold to purple. There is a certain quality of happiness that has fallen upon me since childhood whenever the sun shines & the house is empty. I do not mean that I am not very dependent on companionship: it is only when there is a blue sky, and a human base not very far off, that I enjoy being Diogenes in my tub. But oh the wine of these hours!

And Maeterlinck’s bees (Bees)—I noticed yesterday that you had difficulty in reading my writing!—I say Maeterlincks Bees reconciled me to life and death & impelled me to kiss the black robe of Fate that is wrought with stars.

I must thank you for saying such nice things about our resources. Sister Mary & I will gladly accept your view of the position, though I think we are going to get all we want for the Green Lady & for the Children’s Holiday[,] for I agree with you that it is for the greater interests of the work to get the co-operation & help of the largest number of people that we can touch, leaving the reserves for emergencies.

Let me have your travels to take to Broadmoor {2}.

You couldnt be too prolix if you tried! I’m afraid that is one thing that you are to old to learn? You will never learn to babble?—

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This letter ends abruptly, and may be incomplete.

{1} 19th.

{2} The reference may be to the circular letters Lawrence sent home during his journey around the world in 1897–8 (PETH 5/30a–h). In early June this year Emmeline Pethick and Mary Neal took some girls of the Espérance Club to stay at Broadmoor, near Dorking, where a Mrs Brook had placed two cottages at their disposal. Lawrence joined the party for the weekend of 8 and 9 June.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

(Place of writing not indicated.)—Invites him to lunch on Sunday.

(Dated Friday.)

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Transcript

Friday Evening
Darling Freddy—

Just a line before ending the day in case I haven’t time tomorrow—Will you come to lunch here on Sunday. If you come about 11.30—we will go for a little walk in the Park. I shall be going with the Daddy to Hammersmith in the evening—about 5.30—you will be wanting to get back to Canning Town I expect.

I am thinking of you constantly. Your own Woman—

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

&20 Somerset Terrace (Duke’s Road, W.C.).*—Asks him to get Shepherd to look at a house in Woburn Square, and mentions other places (as possible locations for a home). Asks him to speak to Gooch about tomorrow.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

Littlehampton.—Discusses her activities with the children, and asks him to visit Mrs Reed at Notting Hill Infirmary. Is awaiting a reply from Pearse. Encloses a letter from her second cousin, Mary Neale.

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