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Letter from Lady Pethick-Lawrence to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Confidential

Feb. 18. 1947.

Dearest,

Last week in London there developed trouble between Lydia & the staff there. As usual I played her cards badly—but realizing this, in order to save me & you any disturbance, she went to the War Office on Thursday {1}, was very warmly welcomed there & obtained priority for the next Boat train for N. Africa leaving London on March 6th & also a promise of a job under the War Department immediately on her arrival there. She could not get the opportunity or courage to tell me until yesterday. On my acceptance of this solution, she is today clinching the arrangement with the War Office.

You are the only person who has come near to any understanding of the very real & deep bond that exists for ever between Lydia & myself. It defies all analysis. There is nothing of a physical nature or demand about it. The nearest analogy is that of the bond between the “Seeing Eye Dog” & his blind Master. In my almost complete deafness which prevents me from hearing the phone bell in my own room, & with my increasing difficulty in movement, Lydia is my irreplac[e]able support. I shall miss her desperately. There are many who love me devotedly, but there is nobody else, whose supreme delight & one object in life are to be with me to foresee & supply every smallest need. I know all her faults pathologic & psychic, and I know all her extraordinary & unique qualities. She has played her cards very badly, (as I tell her) but such things as tampering with my correspondence are far removed from possibility & so are other faults of which she has been suspected & accused. Over-devotion to our interests had led to ill-judged action. Her latest decisive move has been taken solely with a view to our interest. It is of such dual natures that the stuff of tragic drama is made. They are born, fated. The rationally-minded are quite incapable of dealing with them. But for the strain of Mysticism in you, you would have attempted in all good intention to put an end before now to the situation. As it is, she has put an end to it, herself. Her only condition is that if I were ill—mortally ill—she should be sent for. That is my wish also. I feel that I could not die in peace without her hand in mine.

Emmeline

It is one thing to meet these conflict-problems in Greek Drama. Quite another thing to confront them in flesh & blood. I thank God for all I have read & all I have experienced, which have enabled me so far to avoid fatal error.

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{1} 13th.

Letter from Hugh Cecil to Lady Constance Lytton

23 Bruton Street, W.—In Mrs Pethick-Lawrence’s case the proper course would probably be to move the King’s Bench on the ground of informality in the proceedings rather than to ask a question in Parliament.

Letter from Richard Pankhurst to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

P.O. Box 1896, Addis Ababa.—His mother’s death came without warning, while her mind was still full of plans. He will publish the issues of the Ethiopia Observer already in hand, and then close it. Invites Pethick-Lawrence to contribute to a memorial issue. His mother will be buried with the victims of the Graziani massacre.

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

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

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

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Transcript

COPY
Extracts.

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

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

Dear Lady Betty Balfour,

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

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

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

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

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

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