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Extract from a letter from Lady Betty Balfour to Lady Constance Lytton(?)

Fisher’s Hill, Woking, Surrey.—Responds to comments on women’s suffrage by Bonar Law and others, and reports on her meeting with Maud Selborne.

(In an unidentified hand.)

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Transcript

Bets to Mother

Copy| Extracts

Fishers Hill: Woking: Surrey. Sat Jan. 27. 1912.

… I am bitterly disappointed in Bonar Law as reported in the Times—but Gerald says he is sure he said Womanhood suffrage which would have been better {1}. I have not looked in the Standard yet. Times sentence on Belfast seems to be ludicrously inconsistent with their anti-militant attitude, but Gerald wont see it. I thought the “Votes” article on Catholic Emancipation most striking as a parallel. Do read it.

Maude† (Selborne) was quite charming to me. She is working Suffrage very hard locally & she too is on her Hampshire Education Committee—we talked that too. About Referendum she agrees with me that Grey did not mean what he is supposed to have to have meant. It was only in answer to a question—& he meant “Oh! If the H. of Commons press for a Referendum, that is a new question”—just as he might say “If the H. of Commons cease to want W.S. the situation is changed.” But G. saw in the paper yesterday that Lloyd George too is coming round to the Referendum. This in the face of his former strong statements! I cant yet believe it.

Maud says we shant get one {2} Conservative to vote against Referendum, because they are keen to get it tried, realising that the machinery once established it cant be refused for other questions. But she believes if it were to be put in the form “Are you in favour of women who pay rates & taxes having the vote?” we should win.

She told me of a row she has been having with Pole Carew (Gen[era]l Sir Reginald) on Suffrage. She really is a splendid worker on her own lines—& she says Lady Willoughby (De Broke) is first rate.

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{1} The reference is to Bonar Law’s address to a large political meeting at the Albert Hall the night before, as reported in the The Times. The relevant passage is as follows: ‘The first item on their [the Government’s] programme is manhood suffrage, which I venture to say was not mentioned before the election by any single member of the Government. And it is not manhood suffrage only. It may be woman suffrage as well. The Prime Minister has told us that woman suffrage would be a disaster, and in the same breath he says that he is ready to be the instrument for perpetrating that disaster. Has ever British statesmanship fallen so low?’ (The Times, 27 Jan. 1912, p. 10.)

{2} Reading uncertain.

Letter from Lady Pethick-Lawrence to Agnes Harben

Fourways, Gomshall, Surrey.—Thanks her for the gift of some freesias. Is delighted to be remembered by one of the most lovely women she has known.

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Transcript

Fourways, | Gomshall, | Surrey.
15th. December, 53.

My dear Agnes,

How very dear of you to think of me now a poor old cripple who cannot put a foot to the ground and has to be entirely dependent upon other people!

I was delighted with the lovely freesias and to be remembered by you who are always in my thoughts and memories as one of the most lovely women I have ever known, which is saying a great deal. {1}

With love,
Ever yours,
Emmeline

Mrs. Harben,
6, Park Side,
Knightsbridge,
London, S.W.7.

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Letter-head of 11 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, W.C.2. Typed, except the signature.

{1} This paragraph has been marked with a line in the margin, and at the foot of the letter is written, ‘Ans[were]d Keep for ref!!!’

Letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to Naomi Lutyens

Fourways, Gomshall.—Is delighted by her decision to devote herself to social reform, and has communicated on her behalf with representatives of a Club.

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Transcript

Fourways. Gomshall.
Dec. 10. 1942

My very dear Naomi.

Many thanks for your lovely letter. I was particularly glad to get it, as I have been thinking of you much & often, since you brought the light of your dear countenance last Monday {1}. I wanted to send you a line, but did not know where to address you.

Oh yes indeed—you made it quite clear to me—for it needed no words of explanation,—that your heart was full of love for others & that you needed to find the rightest & best way of expressing it in Service. It is a very great delight to me to have you come & talk to me—bringing your gifts of charm & vitality & youth, & giving me the sense of continuity, now that my little day is almost done.

I wrote the next day to Mr Holloway and to Beth Macara. I want you to know the people who could give you the fullest opportunity for knowing all about the Club, so that you can make your decision.

I am so glad that you see what is the heart & essence of any social reform & are not satisfied with mere tinkering & palliating. It takes “a brain” to grasp that idea!

I have the greatest confidence in your ability. You see I know you not from a few conversations only. I knew your parents in their youth—& you as an infant raconteuse! So I have a background!

Also I know something of the difficulties & tests you have had to meet, & your courage & gaiety & unbreakable spirit win sincerest tribute fom me. It is not only brain but character as well as every other qualification—all are needed in this great fight against greed & aggression in High Places.

In fact, dear Naomi, you are just the colleague I should choose to have—if I had any choice in the matter.

My love to you. Yours. {2}

Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

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The letter has been marked at the head in red biro, ‘From Lady Pethick Lawrence’.

{1} 7th.

{2} The passage from ‘& gaiety’ to the end is marked in the margin with a line in red biro.

Copy of a circular letter by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

(Carbon copy of a typed transcript, with two handwritten corrections.)

Transcript

COPY OF A LETTER RECEIVED FROM MRS LAWRENCE
Dated Nov. 4, 1914, 1. a.m.

Election Night.

Although it is one o’clock in the morning, I must try before I sleep to get down some of the impressions of the evening. Miss Doty, whose article in the Century interested me so deeply, and her friend “Elizabeth” (Miss Watson) celebrated the first anniversary of their voluntary imprisonment by dining with me and taking us afterwards to the night court. On the way to the Court we mixed with the Election crowd—The streets were thronged. It was a superb night, the moon just past the full. We reached the Court about 9.30 and were taken to the front place where we could see and hear well. A case was being heard concerning two coloured women—a mother and a daughter. Two detectives, a white man and a coloured man[,] gave evidence of how they had entrapped the younger woman to take into her home first one and the other—The story of detective which was one infinitely shocking {1}—and what I have heard since about this business impresses me still further both with the futility of the system and above all with the terrible power placed in the hands of men against women—a power likely to lead to the most grave abuses. Both mother and daughter poured out a dramatic volume of words and gesture as they sat just in front of the judge, addressing their remarks to him as one would address a man in his office or study—no formalities at all. With what seemed to me extraordinary patience, (after my experience of police courts at home) the judge listened without interruption or comment. Finally he discharged the two women. This action was entirely in accordance with the inner verdict which I had pronounced, (for of course every member in the auditorium has his or her own views on every case)[.] Had I been Judge I should not have hesitated between the two sides—the women excited, voluble, indignant, tearful—and the men whom I would not, I felt as I scanned their faces, have trusted a yard. The Judge then retired to his sanctum and invited us to follow. We were introduced and a conversation ensued. We touched on the case. The Judge I found did not altogether believe the story of the women and was inclined to think them guilty. “But”, he said, “you see in this Court I am both Judge and Jury, therefore I have to give the accused the benefit of every doubt.” When he resumed his seat upon the Bench, he asked me to sit beside him. At the opening of the next case he said to the woman who had been just arrested, {2} “You must understand that you have a right to obtain the services of a lawyer, you have a right to telephone for your friends or mail for them free of charge. You can have your case tried now, or you can have it postponed. But you may have to pass the interval in the detention cells.” The woman elected have her case tried at once. It was a very trivial affair of ringing a house-door bell and causing annoyance to a tenant of the house. The woman denied the wish to annoy and promised not to ring the bell again and was discharged.

Being Election night and the police apparently otherwise engaged, no further cases were forthcoming and the Court rose till midnight. Usually there are many cases of soliciting, which as at home is a penal office {3} for a woman but not for a man. I was told by my friends that women who had to pass through the streets alone at night were constantly pestered by men, but there was no remedy; they just had to put up with it. As in England the legal tradition is that men have to be protected from the temptation of the woman who who† alone is responsible for the social evil. After the Session was over we had another interesting talk with Judge Barlow, who I am told is the best and most fairminded of all the judges, at the Night Court (as in the case of Judge Hoyt) {4} I saw the brighter side of the administration. He invited me to come again on some more typical occasion and was most friendly, reminding me very much of Tim Healy. He wore just a blase† graduate’s gown. I was then taken over the place, introduced to the prison or native police-court Matron, and allowed to enter the cells and to talk to the inmates. The whole place compares very favourably with our police court arrangements. I have not yet seen a prison, but from Miss Doty’s record, the prison conditions seem to be worse than our own.

One great feature of the Court is the total elimination from it of the police. The one or two officers are civilians. This reform dates from 1910. Judge Barlow confessed that he was very much averse to the change at the time, but that its results have been wholly good. Detectives attend as witnesses, but have no privileged status, and are treated exactly as other witnesses, by the Judge. In spite of their good points I am, as I said before, horrified at the methods of the detectives in hunting out prostitutes. In some cases they will take a woman into a saloon and give her drinks for a week, and will tempt her in every way to invite them home. They will confess to letting the women get them supper, to playing cards with them and staying from 11 till 3 a.m. After all this is done they will suddenly turn and arrest them and drag them into court. They have these women entirely in their power, and men being men it is inconceivable that they do not take advantage of their power when it suits them. I would not trust such men, placed in such conditions, one inch. On matters relating to morality and the judicial treatment of sex problems, New York seems to me to be worse than London—though some details of administration are better. The point of view is worse. It seems to me that the women of New York, speaking generally, are much too complacent with regard to this status of their sex in very many respects. We came back and mixed with the crowd again—learnt that Governor Glyn (Democrat) was out and Whitman (Republican) was in, and wondered how this would affect the position of our women comrades Commissioner Doty and Investigator Watson, both holding appointments under State patronage. Could not get any news of Suffrage States, so returned as it was half an hour over midnight already. These two women know New York through and through. If only I could find time to let them take and educate me for a week as they want to do! Miss Watson knows everything there is to be known about women[’]s labour conditions and wages in New York. She is the recognised expert investigator par excellence, and employed on all enquiry commissions. The point of view of both these women is identical with my own[,] while their knowledge of facts is perfectly wonderful. They are completely human in their outlook. We are already great friends and have several plans to carry out together, if time can be found. Truly this is a most fascinating world and I’m learning hard.

Greeting to all friends.
(Signed) E.P.L.

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{1} Altered by hand ink from ‘The story of detective [blank] was to me infinitely shocking’. The copyist evidently had difficulty reading the handwriting here.

{2} Comma substituted for full stop.

{3} A slip for ‘offence’.

{4} ‘as … Hoyt’ interlined. Brackets supplied.

† Sic.

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.

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