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Carter, Helen Violet Bonham (1887–1969), Baroness Asquith of Yarnbury, politician
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Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Invites him to Penrhôs, to attend the Investiture of the Prince of Wales.

(Dated Saturday.)

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Saturday

My dear Mr Montagu

Could you come and stay at Penrhos on Friday July 14th, or could you get away on Wednesday and come for the Prince of Wales’ Investiture at Carnarvon.

The Prime {1} and Violet are coming and Violet is going to stay over Sunday {2}. Its very easy to get to, and if you feel scruples about leaving the India Office for so long you can come by a night train Friday and if you are really conscientious you can go back Sunday night.

I know its fearfully far for such a short time, but it would be very nice if you would come.

I hope the outer Hebrides are proving a success.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

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Black-edged paper. Marked ‘1911’ in pencil.

{1} This word has been struck through and ‘PRIME’ has been written above it, beside an asterisk. On the back of the letter is written, beside an asterisk: ‘It looked like Prince before.’

{2} ‘Lord and Lady Sheffield’s guests at Penrhôs, Holyhead [during Investiture week], will include the Prime Minister, Mrs. and Miss Asquith, Lord and Lady Boston, the Hon. Geoffrey Howard, the Hon. Edwin Montagu, Mr. William Phillips, the Hon. Mrs. Anthony Henley, the Hon. Blanche Stanley, and Captain the Hon. Oliver Stanley’ (The Times, 12 July 1911, p. 8).

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Responds to his description of her life when she returns to England [see B1/129]. Is thinking of telling her father that her stay in France has confirmed her decision to marry Montagu. Condoles with him on his illness and the general situation. Wonders what Violet’s attitude towards them will be now.

(Dated Tuesday.)

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Has received his note, and commiserates with him on his attack of pleurisy. She dined last night with Conrad and Hunter, and is going for a walk with Conrad today. Violet has written to explain her objections to their marriage. Expects to be home on 10 or 12 July. Mikky is depressed.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Has received the books and his letter. She expects to leave on Saturday or Sunday and see the ‘old boy’ [Asquith] on Monday. Has fallen in love with a man named Capel, has seen Gilbert, and may lunch with Conrad tomorrow. When she returns she will tell him about something marvellous that happened to her yesterday. Two of the orderlies nearly drowned today while bathing.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[The British Hospital, Wimereux, and by the sea.]—(2nd.) Pamela has written urging her to come home and look after Montagu, and informing her of Violet and Bongie’s engagement.—(3rd.) Discusses her feelings at the prospect of going home. She dined last night with Hunter, who has been very kind, as has Capel. Pamela has doubts about the proposed journey to Russia. Asks whether he has communicated with her father.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Has received his two letters. Is glad that the Prime Minister is pleased by Violet and Bongie’s engagement. Discusses the arrangements for her return to England. Is glad that Sylvia will have Anthony at home for a week or so, but fears for his safety if he transfers to a regiment in the fighting line. Is pleased at Birrell’s approval [of their engagement]. Has met Lord Wemyss, and may dine with him tomorrow. Asks for news of Edward’s progress.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to [Edwin Montagu]

[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—(4th.) She picnicked this afternoon with the three other amateurs [volunteer nurses] and Hunter. Is annoyed that she will have to tell Lady Norman her reason for leaving.—(5th.) Has received his letter [B1/137], and approves in general his letter to Asquith. Has received a telegram from Vizee announcing her engagement. Discusses arrangements for her return to England. Is sorry he is feeling ill.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

In the train from Folkestone.—(20 Oct.) Has learnt of his safe arrival at Boulogne. Hopes that Alan and Kisch will prove more competent than expected.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—Is depressed at having to spend the winter without him, despite the prospect of arranging Breccles. Reflects on their relationship and plans. After he left she and Viola went shopping, and she saw a sideboard she liked. Has dealt with some correspondence.—(Later.) Diana has visited. Is going to the opera.—(21 Oct.) Discusses her visit to the opera last night. This morning she went to Arlington Street [the Rutland Hospital], lunched with Diana and the Duchess, drove to Bushey in a vain attempt to meet Duff, and dined at Arlington Street for a ‘working reading aloud evening’. She intends to go to the hospital every morning, but will go away if the air-raids are bad.—[Later.] They read again in the evening.—(22 Oct.) Has received two notes from him. She went to Arlington Street and lunched at the Bath [Club]. Goonie is bored by having Jack home. Has ordered some things for the house.—(23 Oct.) She lunched with friends, including Masterton, who reported the rumour of a new coalition including ‘the old bird’ [Asquith], then went to South Kensington to show Diana David Garrick’s bed, which she is thinking of copying for Montagu. She dined and went to the opera with Bluey, and they discussed sapphism. Has had no news about letting the house.—(24 Oct.) After the hospital she went to the Bath, and to the House of Lords. Gives an account of the debate [on the situation in India]. In the evening she went to a play with Viola. Has let the house and bought the sideboard.—(25 Oct.) She dined with Cardie for Rawle’s farewell party, then went to a party at Lady Howard’s, which included Hugo Rumbold, who she is ‘crazy’ about, and Teddie Gerard, who enchanted Winston.—[26 Oct.] Has learnt of Montagu’s arrival at Port Said and has received his letter from Modane. She went to the Bath, where Clemmie was ‘very typical’ about Winston and Teddie. Some friends are dining with her, and they may go to the opera afterwards.—(27 Oct.) Only some of her guests went to the opera last night; she stayed in talking till late with the others. After Arlington Street she went shopping and to lunch with Katherine and Diana. Later she may go to Arlington Street for a ‘working reading evening’. Has received his letter from Rome and eagerly awaits his diary. The house has not, after all, been let.—(28 Oct.) She went to Bushey with Diana and Michael Herbert to see Duff, and dined with Diana and Edward, who has just come home on ‘Mells fire leave’ [Mells Park had been destroyed by fire on the 11th].—(29 Oct.) After the hospital and the Bath they lunched with Edward, after which Venetia took him to Lucile’s, where they found Viola choosing dresses for her new part. She got home to find Phyllis there, having turned out by her father for throwing a hair-brush at him. Rib writes to her daily, but they are trying to persuade her that he must marry her or stop seeing her. There was an abortive air-raid warning.—(30 Oct.) Edward has fallen in love with Phyllis. She lunched with friends, and Hugo Rumbold, who is probably another of Phyllis’s lovers, came to tea. Has received a telegram from Cairo and has heard that Montagu’s party has already broken up into groups. Some friends are dining with her tonight. Is appalled by the household expenses.—(31 Oct.) Her dinner went well, but she and Diana got into an argument with Edward. She had lunch with friends at home. Phyllis has told Ribblesdale that she will have to stop seeing him if he does not mean to marry her, but it is unlikely that her good intentions will last. Diana said to Phyllis that her mind had been corrupted by Scatters, and later Ribblesdale asked Phyllis whether she had ever slept with him, ‘which she had the sense to deny’. Lutyens brought her Blow’s plans [of Breccles], but as they are not of the house as it is now she will have to go down there to correct them. Is going to the opera.

Train to Breccles.—(1 Nov.) Was kept awake by an air-raid. Is on the way to meet Horner.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—(2 Nov.) She did a lot of business with Horner at Breccles and planted some bulbs. Lutyens will probably come next time.—(3 Nov.) Has had no letter from him for a week, but has replied to his telegram. She played bridge this evening, and yesterday dined with friends and went to a play. Phyllis has gone to Arkers; her relationship with Lord Ribblesdale is still unsettled. Today she lunched with Maud and they went to the opera. Eric says Lloyd George is worried about the effect of the air-raids on public opinion.—(4 Nov.) She spent the day at Taplow. Ettie was on good form.—(5 Nov.) She went to Charing Cross [Hospital] again this morning and found it squalid, but she will only be going there two mornings a week. She had tea with friends and dined and went to a play with Duff, who starts his career at Chelsea Barracks on Monday. Phyllis is dining with Edward, Rib, and Arkers, and as the Viceroy is in London she will probably not come back tonight. Edward is still in love with her, but Venetia doesn’t know whether he has seduced her yet.—(6 Nov.) She lunched with Diana, Duffy, and Edward. Edward and Diana are reconciled. She is giving a dinner tonight. Hugo Wemyss has gone to Paris as Flavia Forbes has been bitten by a mad dog. He is corresponding acrimoniously with Lord Derby about Lady Angela [Forbes], who has been asked to leave France on account of alleged drunkenness.—(8 Nov.) Margot and the ‘old Boy’ [Asquith] were at Hazel’s party last night and asked after Montagu, but Vizee gave her (Venetia) a sour look; she and Bongie are the only ones who have said nothing about Montagu having gone [to India]. Has received his letter from Port Said [B1/144a]. She lunched with Winston and Clemmie, went to see Gladys, then played bridge at Lady Essex’s. Tonight she and Phyllis are dining with the McKennas and then going to a party at the Baroness’s.—(9 Nov.) Has seen his mother and shown her his typed notes [his ‘Diary’]. Phyllis leaves tomorrow.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to [Edwin Montagu]

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(5 Dec.) Has received his letters from Aden. Urges him to continue sending his Diary, and deplores his idea of retiring from public life. Complains of having to sell all day [at a charity fair at] at the Albert Hall. Last night she dined at Cavendish Square. Discusses the progress of Oc’s ‘matrimonial affairs’. She dined today with Blanche, then went with Cardie and Nellie to a ‘popular’ ball at the Albert Hall.—(6 Dec.) There was a small air-raid last night. She stayed in bed, but Diana had to spend two hours with her mother in a cellar. She dined alone tonight.—(7 Dec.) Is about to set off for Pixton with Diana, Michael, Duff, and Patrick. Work has begun at Breccles.

Letter from Margot Asquith to Edwin Montagu

10 Downing Street, Whitehall, S.W.—Encloses a letter from Henry [Asquith] in immediate reply to her own. Asks to have it back, as she values it deeply. Discusses Henry’s relationships with Venetia, herself, and other members of his family. On arriving at the Castle on Tuesday he told her how much her letter had touched him. He said had lunched with Venetia and spoke of her ‘with great sweetness’.

(Misdated March.)

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Praises Violet’s courage on Archie Gordon’s last day. Violet has now gone to Scotland, and Venetia will join her there shortly.

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Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.
Dec 23rd 1909

My dear Mr Montagu

I am glad you thought of writing to me. I need not tell you, as you will know already how wonderful Violets courage was on that last day {1}, and how she was able through it to give him the most gloriously happy last day. The strain was tremendous, even the mere physical one alone was very great, and she felt the reaction cruelly and for the first two days after his death lived in a daze.

I think tho’ that on the whole she has been very well, but of course all the time she has had a great deal to do and things that she had to make an effort for, what it will be like when she returns to Archerfield and her usual life begins, and she feels that everything is indeed over, I dont know.

I saw her off to Scotland on Tuesday {2}, and I have heard from Bongie that the journey went quite well, I am going up there on Tuesday to be with her for a little and if you like I will write you a line from there.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

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Black-edged paper.

{1} The reference is to the death of Archie Gordon, younger son of the Earl of Aberdeen, who was fatally injured in a motor accident on 28 November and died in the County Hospital at Winchester on 16 December. Violet Asquith became engaged to him at his bedside the day before he died. See Lantern Slides, pp. 190–5.

{2} 21 December. Violet had gone to the Aberdeens’ home, Haddo House in Aberdeenshire, where the funeral took place on the 23rd. Venetia set off to join her a week later.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Is delighted by his election success. Violet has been ill, but is now better, and is about to go with Venetia and Lady Sheffield to the South of France.

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Tuesday 1 Feb 1910

My dear Mr Montagu

It was nice of you to write and say you liked getting my telegram, I was extremely delighted that you got in {1}. I had been thinking of writing to you before as you had asked me to, but there seemed to be so little to say about everything. You will know that Violet has been really very ill, the natural outcome of all that time of stress, she is better now and she and I and my mother go away tomorrow to the S. of France for a bit {2}, which I think should do her good.

But everything will be very hard for her, and in a way get worse when an even fuller realization of it all comes to her. The terrible waste and seeming pointlessness of the whole thing will make her life very difficult, and one doesnt quite see what is to come of it. But I suppose its very soon yet to begin to expect to see any change in her.

I dont know how long we shall be away.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

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{1} Montagu had retained his seat at the general election.

{2} The party went, by a circuitous route, to Valescure, near Saint-Raphaël. Violet returned to England about the beginning of March. See Lantern Slides, pp. 198–201.

Letter from Edwin Montagu to Venetia Stanley

India Office, London.—Thanks her for her congratulations [on his appointment as Under-Secretary of State for India]. There is plenty of work for him to do, but he feels he has deserted the Prime Minister. Discusses Violet’s state of mind.

Letter from Edwin Montagu to Venetia Stanley

Ewelme Down, Wallingford.—Is sorry he couldn't go to Penrhôs. Refers to his companions at Ewelme. Discusses Asquith’s speech on Home Rule, as well as the general political climate, and asks for Venetia’s views. Sends her a present.

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Transcript

Ewelme Down, Wallingford
April 14th 1912

My dear Venetia

I was so sorry that I could not come to Penrhos this week. It was most kind of your mother to ask me and even though I was engaged here, I believe I should have rushed to Wales if I had not had to be in London yesterday.

I like this place tremendously but I am not calling this a very good weekend. The Prime is not in the best of form yet, I’m afraid and it makes poor Margot just a little —. Violet has Cys and Bongie and I want to talk to you. So beware of next time we meet.

Home Rule (I wish you’d been there) was a great day. The Prime expounded with great vigour and often with a first class phrase a really good bill. It was delightful to find his voice was very strong and that he lasted without visible effort for two hours.

I dont think he was quite appealing enough, if I may make criticism.

It was not merely a licensing bill or a budget it was a transcendent constitutional reform, great than the Parliament Bill because irrevocable and final. It had been attacked in the abstract by a large number of people whose alternative was nothing, so it wanted commending not only in its provisions but in its principles. I suspect because he did not want to speak too long, and also because he was determined not to try to bend the bow of Ulysses he was determined in his conciseness. And of course of its kind it was wonderful, never faltering in its strength, never lacking in its courage and above all never flickering in its dignity.

And there was the usual display of Conservative littleness, of meanness, of caddishness and rather a poor performance of Carsons. Both Redmund and Macdonald were good and so in his sincere stupid way was Capt. Craig.

For myself I feel that Home Rule is the most unarguable proposition in politics. For Imperial and for Irish reasons its not only inevitable but its opposition cannot be based on logic. Nevertheless in application like so many other unarguable axioms its very very difficult and all sorts of criticisms will be levelled at the workmanship.

So that what with an overloaded programme and no signs of House of Lords reform, the political horizon is by no means rosy. Edward Grey is very gloomily prophesying opposition before the end of the year because he predicts more strikes.

Dear Venetia, if you will do me the great favour of answering them, I should like you to tell me what you think about these things. You have a wonderful faculty of producing from me frank expression of views without qualification. You have a power even at this most damnable distance of convincing me of clear vision and and† thought. But you are most frighteningly reserved about yourself. All self contained people are and the greater they are the more frightening it is. And asking isnt much good but I sometimes feel rather mournful when I reflect that the inner you is as hidden from me (except at moments oh so rare) as it was a year ago.

And now do you remember that I could not find a Xmas present for you and you were generous enough to say that I might give you one when I found one.

Well I couldnt so I had one made and its rather a failure in colour and weight. Nevertheless in principle it fulfilled all the conditions I postulated and if its not turned out as I had imagined it, its there and will reach you—together with the drawing from which it was designed tomorrow.

Yrs ever
Edwin S. Montagu

Please forgive this letter being hypercritical, boring and I fear a little impertinent.

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† Sic.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Is unable to see him for tea tomorrow, but suggests other arrangements. She and Violet had a useful morning, thanks to the loan of Montagu’s motor-car.

(Dated Monday.)

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Monday

I stupidly forgot when I said I would be in to tea tomorrow after seeing Olive off, that I had already arranged to play tennis with Cynthia from 4 till 5, and at 5.30 I’ve got the Gnome. Could you come either Wednesday 6.30 or Thursday at 6? Let me know which, if either, of these fit in with your other many and complicated plans.

Violet and I had a very useful morning, owing to the invaluable assistance that was given us by the motor. Thank you so much.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Asks him to lunch, to discuss what he thought of Violet.

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.

Dear Mr Montagu

I should like to see you sometime, and to know what you thought of Violet. Could you lunch on Monday at 1.30.

Yrs very sincerely
Venetia Stanley

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Hôtel Monopole & Metropole, Lucerne.—Is waiting for Violet, whose departure (from England) has been delayed by illness. They will join them (Montagu and Asquith) in Sicily on Thursday.

(Dated Sunday.)

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Transcript

Hôtel Monopole & Metropole, Luzern
Sunday

I suppose Violet has wired to her father that she cant start till tomorrow so we shall be with you Thursday morning. I felt rather crushed and damped on arriving here after a dreary journey to find a letter saying she was ill. I nearly turned and fled home. However I’ve resisted that impulse and am awaiting her here in a very dismal hotel. The thought of Sicily and oranges is very delicious but horribly distant.

I hope your journey was successfully accomplished with the aid of chess, piquet and Lady Miriam Chrichton† Stuart. I dont know why I write as we shall see you almost before it reaches, but I’m very bored and desoeuvrée† {1}.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

All my luggage has gone on to Rome!

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{1} Idle.

† Sic.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Is busy celebrating Blanche’s engagement with her family; then she is going to Littlestone with Violet and the Prime Minister, and then staying with Conrad. Will invite Montagu to lunch if she does not go to Littlestone.

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Thursday

There is no vestige of floater {1}, but I’ve got my days terribly filled up. I’m just back from the Opera and am going to miss the 2nd Act and dine at home for a family beanfeast to celebrate Blanches engagement (Isnt it a joke!) {2} Tomorrow morning I am going to Littlestone with Violet and the P.M. in the motor, for one night, Saturday I go and stay with Conrad till Monday. Monday and Tuesday I have dreary things to do all day which brings us to Wednesday. If I dont go to Littlestone, which is quite possible, I will telephone to you and you might come to lunch if you liked.

This tiresome time table of my life shows you how stuffed up its getting.

I’m sorry I didnt get your letter in time to telephone to you.

Yrs
Venetia {3}

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{1} i.e. a faux pas on Montagu’s part.

{2} Blanche’s engagement to Eric Pearce-Serocold was announced in The Times on the 27th (p. 13).

{3} This appears to be the first time Venetia signed a letter to Montagu using only her Christian name.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Invites him to join her ‘anti-yacht’ party at Penrhôs at Whitsuntide. Asks whether he has managed to convert Violet to Dorothy’s cause (i.e. temperance). Is seeing Sir Herbert and Lady Jekyll this afternoon, and dining with Geoffrey and Captain Guest.

(Dated Sunday.)

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Sunday

I am starting an anti-yacht party at Whitsuntide, just to show them that in spite of Winston its still possible to have fun in England. Will you come? Either for actual Whitsunday itself {1} or for the following week, which ever suits you best, {2} or both. Dont say you are going to Geneva for the Alpine Crow or to Italy with Geoffrey because you really are pledged (ever since last summer) to come to Penrhos. Its the nicest time of year there and ought to be delicious. There is only one legitimate excuse for you and that is if they after all dont go on the yacht and you want to go somewhere with the Prime.

Have you managed, on this glorious day, to convert Violet to Dorothys cause {3}? I’m afraid it will be difficult.

It is a waste being in London. I am reduced to Kew with Sir Herbert and Lady Jekyll this after-noon, and Geoffrey and Captain Guest to dinner.

Yrs
Venetia

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{1} 26 May.

{2} Comma supplied. The next two words are interlined.

{3} i.e. temperance. Dorothy Howard’s mother, the Countess of Carlisle, was a prominent temperance reformer.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Penrhôs, Holyhead.—Hopes he is having ‘more fun and less lumbago’ at Geneva. Refers to the guests at Penrhôs, and describes an expedition to the Skerries. Suggests organising ‘something delightful’ when they return to London. Violet has written from Naples; they [the yachting party] seem to be having fun. Asks whether he has been reflecting on the fate of the Liberal Party. Has seen Peel at a ball.

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Transcript

Penrhôs, Holyhead
May 29th 1912

My dear Mr Montagu

Thank you for your letter, I hope that since you wrote {1} you’ve been having more fun and less lumbago and that the Alpine Chough has proved worth travelling all the way to Geneva to see. We’ve had a very delicious time here, its been quite lovely, and Raymond has been at his very best. Unfortunately he and Katharine leave tomorrow to go to Sawley, and their places are inad-equately filled only by Hugh. Poor little Bongie owing to the strike has only had 2 days here and is now again in London, grinding out long telegrams to the P.M. He hopes to get back tomorrow. We made an expedition to the Skerries yesterday, so as to gratify Katharines curiosity as to the Nest of the Roseate Tern, but tho we saw quantities of ordinary terns, there was only one egg which we gound and not the vestige of a Roseate. They are too lovely, I think, and exactly what I imagine the Holy Ghost would look like. Raymond hustled us rather so we werent able to stay as long as we wanted. Next year if you arent again offended by the terms in which your invitation here is couched we will all go again, and you shall replace Raymond, as you would be a more appreciative tern watcher.

Conrad, alas, never came as he is ill again. This afternoon we’ve got an utterly bloody garden party which is blackening my whole outlook. We stay here till Tuesday {2} then London again. Dont arrange to go to your constituency over Sunday and {3} we’ll all do something delightful on Sunday. I daresay Violet will be back by then too. I’ve heard nothing from that party, except a post card yesterday from Naples from Violet but she doesnt mention whether she saw Le nôtre or not. They seem to be having great fun. Do you still envy them. I’ve been so happy here that I dont any longer.

Have you been considering the fate of the Liberal Party and have you arrived at any very black and morbid conclusions.

I saw your friend Mr Peel at a ball the other night and was nearly introduced to him, do you think I should have got on well with him. Bongie thinks I shouldnt.

This is quite the dullest letter I have ever written, but will you take into account that my brain is thoroughly befogged by sun and air.

Yrs
Venetia

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Written in pencil.

{1} This letter does not survive.

{2} 4 June.

{3} 9 June.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.—Oliver cannot come on Monday. Hopes that Simon does not go to the War Office. Is planning to see Excie’s vote of censure tomorrow. The Prime Minister looks well; it is fun that they (the yachting party) are back. Asks after Violet.

(Dated Tuesday.)

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Transcript

18 Mansfield Street, Portland Place, W.
Tuesday

My dear Tante

You very kindly said I might bring Oliver with me on Monday but I’ve heard from him that he is already engaged that evening It was very nice of you to ask him. I am vainly trying to arrange some fun for him when he is here, but its very difficult as he knows and likes so very few people.

I do hope Seely doesnt go to the War Office, dont you? It isnt a very glittering selection to choose from is it? Couldnt Simon go?

I am trying to go to the House tomorrow to hear Excie’s vote of censure Will the P.M. speak. I saw him for an instant I think he looks very well. It is fun that they are back. Did you have a good talk to Violet.

This letter is a series of questions.

Yrs
Venetia Stanley

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Has received his letter from Port Said [B1/54]. Discusses his reading. Has been mostly alone since she last wrote, but is helping with a children’s play. Their current guests include Milne and a Mrs Grosvenor, who is lecturing on the advantages for educated women in emigrating to Canada. Violet did ‘chuck’ [i.e. declined to open] the United Kingdom Alliance bazaar at Manchester, but Venetia went and saw Dorothy there with Aurea. The Prime Minister has a boil on his shoulder. Is thinking of going to London next week, after which Mikky and Bongie are coming to Alderley.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—Has received his letter from near Bombay [B1/55]. Sends news of the Asquiths, with whom she spent most of last week, at Downing Street. Some friends are coming tomorrow, and Bongie and Mikky have just been. Is going to learn fencing, and has been skating and hunting. Urges him to check the untruths spread by the Eye Witness and Belloc. Bluey’s manner of answering questions in the Commons has been laughed at. She will go back to London after the Pride of Cheshire’s wedding.

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Transcript

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Nov 6th 1912 Wednesday

Thank you for a letter (if you can call such a sparse communication one!) written just before reaching Bombay {1}. I got the impression that your journey had gone on being fairly dull all the time.

I spent most of last week in London, staying at Downing St. I saw not very much of the P.M. Do you remember saying how much he varied in his liking for me, and that sometimes he quite liked me and at others not at all, well this was one of the not at all times. He was horribly bored by my constant presence at breakfast, lunch and dinner (Oliver interrupts me to play chess, I hope I shall beat him). He seemed much better tho’ and said his shoulder didnt hurt him at all and he was playing golf regularly. I was very glad to see the old boy again, he is quite one of my favorite people. Margot was very funny, Violet said she had been rather complaining and crusty lately and still very much against Violet’s and my habit of seeing and liking to see our friends rather than our acquaintances. The first day I was there I was slightly crushed, or should have been if it had been anyone but Margot, by her saying to me when we were out together. “I cant tell you how sick I get of seeing your face, I can cry sometimes at the sight of you and Bluey and Bongie and Violet together.” Poor Margot I am very sorry for her as she certainly does have to see it pretty often. You will be a Godsend to her when you come back after 5 months absence, we shall almost be able to pretend that you are an acquaintance and be able to see you without bringing down on our heads this storm of abuse. Beyond this she was very nice to me. I have only once resented anything that Margot said to me and that only because I was in as nervy a condition as she was, which was when she told me I had on purpose poisoned Violet with veronal at Archerfield just after Archie died! It makes me laugh now, but I never felt more miserable than I did at the moment.

Violet was very anxious to have a months training at the London Hospital and go out and nurse the Bulgars, they are all the most violent Bulgophils. Her father as you can imagine was highly unsympathetic about this. They used to discuss it every morning at breakfast. She says all her friends except Edgar have shown the greatest lack of understanding and immagination† about her desire to do this and she is thinking of writing a play exposing them all. Conversation with her has become rather difficult as she is learning Italian from a certain Signor Rossi who comes twice a week. She knows far more, after 2 lessons than I did after 6 months Berlitz so dont ever again say that her brains arent in every way superlatively good. What ruins her conversation is that as soon as one is alone with her she starts conjugating “Essere” or “Avere” or repeating the days of the week. Perhaps this partly explains the immense progress. I saw hardly anyone in London except Geoffrey for one instant at the House, he is coming here tomorrow, also Violet, Raymond Katharine, Bluey, Hugh and Dudley Ward. Dadley† Ward I have not yet seen, I hear he is in wonderful spirits and looks 20 years younger and that he told you that women were the most unaccountable creatures. Bongie and Mikky were here over Sunday, Mikky was in his most sympathetic and inarticulate mood, he was able to exercise his sympathy on Huck who was very ill, and on me for minding about him. Bongie is learning french, whith which he makes slow progress, partly because his teacher gives him nothing but the most ob-scure and useless verbs, ones which I have spoken french for 20 years without using, to learn. I cant keep pace with this desire for education which is spreading from Downing St, but I am going to learn to fence as soon as I go to London next week, and on Monday I skated in Manchester and had a lesson. I hunted yesterday for the first time, I had forgotten how glorious it was, my only horse is lame tho’. I tell you this because you have always been very sympathetic and interested (or feigned it successfully) in my stable troubles.

As for the “Eye Witness” and Belloc I wish you would go for them and hound them out of existence. Not that it much matters what lies they tell, for not a soul believes them, but no one thinks it worth while to notice what they say, the result is a riot of untruth which goes on unchecked week after week.

Did you see that dear little Bluey got terribly laughed at when answering some of your questions for his clerical manner?

Whilst your letters get shorter & shorter mine seem to lengthen every time I write, we must try a more even distribution. Write a long account of what you are doing and I will cease to give you such minute accounts of what I have said and done.

I go to London Tuesday, after the Pride of Cheshires wedding {2} (I have managed to get the title Prize of Cheshire bestowed on me by the Prime, as you can well believe this gave rise to a lot of the kind of conversation which he enjoys and which Margot abhors) for 3 weeks.

I must stop.

Goodbye
Venetia

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{1} MONT II B1/55.

{2} Barbara Tomkinson married Captain Walter Thornton Hodgson at St Helen’s, Tarporley, on Tuesday, 12 November. See The Times, 13 Nov., p. 13.

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