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Letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pankhurst

Transcript

The Waldorf-Astoria, New York
Sept 22 1912.

Dear Mrs Pankhurst

We found your letter awaiting us on our arrival here. We have read it carefully & thoughtfully. We quite understand that it is a purely business letter, endorsing the views of our responsible colleagues with regard to the present situation & its effect upon us—& we reply in the same spirit of deliberation.

Perhaps you are not aware that the present position does not take my husband or me by surprise. Before putting our hand to the plough we were bound of course to consider every aspect of the matter & the Government’s policy of attacking us financially was discussed between us. We have therefore faced the situation already. But we appreciate the fact that you have faced it on our behalf during the past weeks, & that you are anxious to find a way out for us in order to spare us further sacrifice.

Our answer today is the same as it has been since we entered the struggle. You will realize directly we state it that there is only one answer possible. It is the answer which you yourself would give if asked to choose between the Movement (which you & we have in so large a measure jointly built up) and any other possession in life however dear & precious. You would not hesitate for a moment. Neither do we. Our answer is that we shall continue to be jointly responsible with you in the future as we have been in the past, and that the more we are menaced the harder we will fight until victory is won.

So far as the Union is concerned, the difficulty you allude to can be met. We can refuse if we choose to allow any members of the Union to share personally incurred liability.

With regard to Militancy—we have never for a single instance allowed our individual interests to stand in the way of any necessary action or policy to be pursued by the Union, and we never shall. At the present moment, hard fighting & harder than ever is essential. The harder the battle, the more need for every one of the generals & soldiers.

Yours very sincerely
Emmeline Pethick Lawrence

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{1} PETH 9/31.

Letter from Christabel Pankhurst to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Hotel Vancouver, Vancouver, B.C.
4th May 1922

Dearest,
Your letter filled me with joy. In an instant ten years were gone and they have never been. Our love united us all the time and only the surface of it was moved. Wasn’t that the way?

It was like your generous heart to write. I am so glad you did.

All that morning we {1} had been joggling along in motor stages & interurban train through a lovely bit of Washington State and the thought of you and Godfather and our wonderful years of work together came to me so strongly and remained with me & for a long time I talked to Grace of it for my thought would have expression. Then we arrived at Bellingham & when I entered the hotel a letter was put into my hand. I knew the writing at once! I can only say again with what joy I read it[.] Something just slipped into its place and I felt comforted.

The envelope was so frayed and covered with hotel redirections. I realised that it might so easily have been lost and that I might then never have known, or not for very long, that you had written it! All the more must I let you know by telegram safely and at once that I had the dear letter & that my heart met yours in all you said.

How I wish I could be in your arms & have a long long satisfying talk about all the essentials as you put it—with the past all union between us & our eyes looking forward!

Still I cannot regret being over here and I knew when I sent my further message how likely it was that you could not come now. All the same the exchange of messages gives us the little human feeling of each other—and I look forward to your letter. I expect to remain in these parts during the time that it will take the letter to arrive.

As I write, I look out from a high window of this hotel on to the lovely lakelike sea & the mountains that come so near that one can really see & know their faces. Vancouver is one of those places, here & there in the world, that one can live in if one had to. But I like to wander in these times. Every geographical displacement has helped me along another journey I am making.

Yes! I have had great experiences, inward rather than outward,—and I was unhappy. Perhaps there was, as you said, something of a penalty about it, though it seemed difficult at the time to understand the need of price and penalty after the event—one is inclined to expect that the price will come before & not after—& then to be taken by surprise & be a bit rebellious at heart—or perhaps only stupid & not see that it is the price which one would so gladly pay understand[in]g it to be such!

But that is all done with now & I am thankful to have learned many lessons & to have won my way to a real freedom of spirit that I never knew before.

I had so very much to learn. I depended too much upon humanity—upon myself & other people. One has to find the bed-rock. And these turning points in one’s life always & only come after a time of inward stress. Rebirth is painful—that is the fact!

I am absorbed in viewing the great world situation and mighty developments of this time.

It is the End of the Age! The ends of the ages are certainly come upon us & in our very own day one great period of Eternity ends & another begins. This is true, I believe, in no merely figurative sense, but in very literal truth.

At a certain point in the War, I saw as in a flash that humanity has come to the end of its own political resources & that humanly speaking we are moving in a vicious circle. We are powerless to work out the Salvation of Society & of the world. We have neither the wisdom nor the goodness to do it. Every day that I have lived since then has confirmed me in that conviction.

The recent war was the first rumbling of the storm that ends the old order and ushers in that new order in which “the Kingdoms of this world” will “become the Kingdoms of the Lord & of His Christ & he shall reign for ever”.

I have come to this conclusion, in my hard headed, “logical” way, that the Incarnation of two thousand years ago is soon to be repeated in another manner & in terms of “power & glory”. I have reasoned it out from every standpoint, comparing Scripture with scripture, and written prophecy with its actual fulfilment in historic event in past time & in our own day, & viewing the evidence as a lawyer would I am convinced that Jesus Christ will come again and that soon.

By the way, every third Tuesday in the month there is in the Kingsway Hall London what they call an Astral Testimony Meeting which has three sessions, morning, afternoon and evening, at which the Clergy of various denominations & also some laymen discourse on this question. I went once when I was in London.

It is a wonderful privilege to have understanding—a light that shows one the meaning of the world’s condition at the present time.

It seems to me that the true link of union between human beings at the present time is that between those “who love His appearing”.
It was just by chance—yet not by chance surely—that, in the war days, I found in a bookshop a book by Dr Grattan Guiness “The approach[in]g End of the Age”. That set me thinking, though hardly daring to believe so grand a news—but since then I have read & thought steadily & am more & more deeply convinced.

I know you will want to know my though about the world’s outlook & need, as the telegram expressed it—for it was always on that plane that we met & worked together.

Dear Godfather! give him a big message from me.

With all my love[,] your same
Christabel

More another time about people & things over here.

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{1} Christabel Pankhurst and Grace Roe.

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

2 Currie Street, Nine Elms, S.W.—Discusses arrangements for their journey on the Continent, and refers to the Caterers’ Union meeting at Memorial Hall.

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Transcript

2 Currie St | Nine Elms | S.W
23 May 1920

Dear Mrs Pethick Lawrence,

Thank you so much for both your letters. I hope the business is now pretty well finished. I went to Cooks on Friday {1}, saw your clerk, paid for my ticket and am to call for it on Friday, when, I hope my passport also will be ready. I have the French visa: for the Swiss there were more formalities. But one of our staff at the W.F.L office has promised to see it through so I hope all will be plain sailing for our start 8 a.m from Victoria on Monday-week. I shall only take hand luggage.

Fortunately, one will not need warm things.

I look forward with great pleasure to our journey together.

I hear you had a great send-off on Friday. The Caterers’ Union packed Memorial Hall, principally girls and women. There will be trouble at Lyons’s this week if the employers do not make substantial concessions.

I have seldom seen such unity and determination.

With love
Affectionately yours
C. Despard

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{1} 21st.

{2} 31st.

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Roebuck (Dublin).—Discusses her convalescence (from an injury?), and refers to the distress of the poor in Ireland.

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Transcript

Roebuck
22 Novr 1928.

My very dear friend.

I delayed answering your delightful letter until I could use my hurt hand. It is not quite itself yet; but I think like the rest of me it will soon be well.

The time has been a difficult one in some ways; but the compensations were many, and in the Hospital I had solitary hours of great happiness. Often and often I have thought of our strenuous days in the women’s movement.

I say sometimes, one of its chief achi[e]vements and joys was the discovery of woman by woman.

I was grieved to hear that you were laid aside during the Fair-time. I do hope the rest has restored you.

We are having terribly hard times here[. ]Two young men “mad with hunger” broke windows last week to get imprisonment. I fear things are not much better in England. Great changes, I be-lieve are impending

I must write no more. Thank you, dear friend a thousand times for your love and thought of me

I hope still to see you and my other dear friends of the League next year

With affectionate and grateful memories to your husband and true love to yourself

Yrs affectionately
C. Despard

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