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Letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Echo’ Office, 19 St Bride Street, Fleet Street, E.C.—Expresses his love and admiration for her, and acknowledges her need to go (to Egypt) and gather wisdom.

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Transcript

‘The Echo’ Office, 19 St Bride Street, Fleet Street, E.C.
Aug 8 1906 {1}

Darling

I have been longing for the time to come when I should be free to be able to write to you—not tht† I have any news to tell you but simply because I want to write to you so much & tell you how I love you.

You see Girlie you are so much more than all the other things in my life[—]you are the great rest, you are the great solvent in which all the other things of life become fluid. You are the great Ocean into which I flow, you you darling—ah I seem to understand sometimes the full measure of the divine law of the world that permeates all our being, and by that law I need you absolutely not merely to construct or achieve but simply to be.

Beloved it is difficult to tell my soul-thought in words & yet I know you will understand.

Beloved you said yesterday that you had once a store of wisdom & you had shared it with me, & now you needed to go & gather a further store lest haply you should be left behind: beloved I know that the thought which lay behind your words was true because your heart is so great & strong & beautiful, & yet the words are only true in part to me for though you have shared with me your store of wisdom, you are ever in front of me. And the very travail of your being, for which I reverence you, is the outward & visible sign of that union of you dear woman life with the Earth, with Nature, & with th† Holy Spirit which places you forever as my umbilical cord to keep me living.

Sweetheart the words upon paper will not reveal to you: but behind them is the loving heart of your laddie & the living fingers who know the tenderness & the delight of your being.

And I am just yours dependent on you for being

Woman

Man-Baby

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A couple of words are unconventionally abbreviated.

{1} The first three figures of the year are printed.

† Sic.

Letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Labour Record and Review’, 19 St Bride Street, London, E.C.—Was sorry to leave her this morning with so many worries. Has spoken with Roscoe, the lawyer, and is about to see Joseph Edwards of the Reformer’s Year Book. Draws her attention to an article in the Independent Review.

Letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Echo’ Office, 19 St Bride Street, Fleet Street, E.C.—Is sorry he can’t be with her this afternoon, but he will be especially nice to ‘the two dear kiddies’ at the weekend. His evening (at Trinity) went well, and the Master said that the ‘dear boy’ (Frank Pethick) was much loved.

(Cf. 6/64–5 and 6/71.)

Letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

87 Clement’s Inn, W.C.—Expresses his love and admiration for her, and his sense of the honour of taking part in the forthcoming trial.

(With an envelope labelled ‘My most precious possession’, etc., which formerly also contained 6/80.)

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Transcript

87 Clement’s Inn, W.C.
April 25. 12

My great beloved

I have it in my heart to write to you of many things—to tell you, beloved, how glorious it is to have you for wife, to tell you how beautiful to me is your majestic spirit, to tell you that in the calm grandeur of your bearing in the exquisite poise of your head in your sublime pride I find my ideal of the perfect woman.

Beloved we are very near to a great day, the greatest that we have seen in our lives. To me it seems that an honour such as conferred only on a few men & women in many centuries is about to be conferred upon us. We are to stand where the great & noble have stood before us all down the ages. We are to be linked up with those who have won the everlasting homage of the whole human race. If next week you & I were to be crowned king & queen in the presence of an adulating people how paltry would be our honour in comparison!

It is supreme joy that you and I will stand there together. It is the complete and perfect expression of that faith to which we by our travail are giving birth.

Lastly, it is good that we shall have by our side that great woman who is our friend & who of all women in the world we would most wish to have with us in that hour.

I am, beloved,

The one who has chosen you & whom you have chosen as
Everlasting Mate.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Ranchi’.—Describes his and his wife’s journey by ship from Marseilles as far as Crete.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original. Subjoined is the text of a telegram dated 5 Nov.)

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Transcript

P & O. S. N. Co. | S. S. Ranchi
The last day to Port Said, October 26th, 1[926]

A deep blue sea, with tiny dancing waves is all around the ship as I write. The sun is exceptionally hot for this part of the voyage and the shade temperature has been close on 80º for the last couple of days. The time since we reached Marseilles has passed along very pleas[ant]ly and very rapidly.

The ship did not start till late Friday night so we spent the afternoo[n] of that day walking about in Marseilles in a park by the sea and climbin[g] by the funicular to the golden Virgin on the hill.

All Friday night the mails were coming on board and it was 5 a.m. before we actually left the harbour. But the French coast was still plainly visible when we got up and for some hours afterwards. By midday there was nothing to be seen but ocean.

The first two days of the trip were a bit choppy and the lethargy o[f] the beginning of a voyage with the bromide of the sea made us sleepy and a little headachy; our cabin on the bottom deck with its port hole closed would have been unbearable but for delicious draughts of fresh air that were poured in continuously just over our berths by a special ventilating apparatus.

We speedily found several people we knew on board and made the acquai[n]tance of several more. Curiously enough they are all judges in India. One (Blackwell) has played tennis with me in the Inner Temple, another (Rankin) was at Trinity with me, and is now Chief Justice in Calcutta. Blackwell and his wife are going out to Bombay for the first time and have invited us to stay with them on our return there. They also introduced us to Mr. Justice Crump and his wife with whom we played Bridge last night. Still another Judge, an Indian, Sir C Ghose, is on board with his wife returning after a visit to Europe; he is a friend of Bose, and was in England during the suffragette campaign and attended some of the meetings.

We passed through the Straits of Bonifacio (between Corsica and Sardinia) after dark on Saturday evening and saw nothing but the intermittent lights of the lighthouse. We were more fortunate on Sunday. Two thirty in the afternoon saw us opposite the volcanic island of Stromboli with its crater emitting smoke; quite a large village is gathered at its foot with a population that I am told lives by fishing. Another hour and a half brought us in sight of Sicily and we ran into the narrow Straits of Messina before darkness came upon us. Avoiding the fierce promontory of “Scylla” on the Italian coast, and the treacherous whirlpool of “Charybdis” on the Sicilian side, we steamed on past Messina now fully lighted up, and the wonderful illuminated promenade of Italian Reggio and so out into the open sea once more.

Another 24 hours brought us to the lighthouse on Crete and that on the island of Gaydo just south of the larger island. We are due at Port Said before day-break on Wednesday, October 27th.

We have already had a dance on board and several games; and a sports committee has been formed of which I am a member. After Port Said they will put up more awnings and players will not be subject to the fierce sun. We are due at Bombay on Friday morning November 5th. Our address while in India will be c/o Thos. Cook and Son, Bombay.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

P.S. Cable received from Bombay, 5th. November, 1926, as follows:

“Arrived safely after a calm journey. Both well. Made several friends and enjoyed the dances on board.”

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The right-hand side of the text has missed the paper. The missing letters have been supplied in square brackets.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Ranchi’.—Outlines the intended programme of his and his wife’s tour of India.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

P & O. S. N. Co.
S. S. Ranchi.
November 3rd, 1926

An exceedingly comfortable journey is behind us. We are now only two days out from Bombay. So far all has been leisure, to-morrow will be pay, pack, and preparations, & Friday we shall be plunged into the vortex of our activities in India.

The voyage itself has however been far from wasted, for on this boat are congregated men holding important positions all over India—mostly English but a few Indians as well—and they have been eager to give us information upon all and every subject connected with the country.

There is not very much to tell about the voyage and it would be foolish of me to give you any impressions with regard to conditions in India until I have seen something of them first hand. But I have gathered enough to realise that there will be more than ample to fill up our allotted ten weeks to the brim. We do not propose to stay very long in Bombay on arrival, and as soon as possible we shall take the mail train through to Madras where we shall stay with an old College friend of mine, A.Y.G. Campbell. Mr. & Mrs. James Cousins are also there and they have received an invitation for us to go with them into the Native State of Mysore and stay there a few days as guests of the State.

After returning to madras† we are going towards the end of November up to Calcutta where we have a large circle of friends including the Governor, Bose the Scientist, Lord Lytton, and Tagore the poet. I expect to pay a visit to the jute mills and coal mines and we also hope to get away to Darjeeling to see the Himalayas.

After leaving Calcutta we are going to see the sacred city of Benares where I want to meet some of the professors of the Hindu University. Of course the famous Taj Mahal at Agra will claim a visit and from about December 15 to 20 we have promised to Mrs. Cruichshank† (née Joan Dugdale) at Sitapur near Lucknow. After that we have to see Delhi, Amritsar, Lahore and Ahmedabad, the home of Gandhi, before returning to Bombay.

We are due to sail from there in the Kaisar-i-Hind on January 15, and had intended to come straight home; but at Port Said on our way out we received a fascinating invitation to visit one of the Egyptian ministers at his home at Alexandria on our way back. We have decided to accept this, and accordingly our return will be delayed a few days, but not later than the first week in February.

Letters may be posted to us in India up to Wednesday night, December 22nd in London (and a day earlier in the provinces) to c/o Thos. Cook and Son, Bombay, who will forward all correspondence during our stay in India.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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† Sic.

Circular letter by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Ranchi’.—Describes their arrival at Aden, and their meeting with Lydia and her family at Port Said.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

P & O. S. N. COMPANY.
S.S. RANCHI.
November 3rd, 1926.

My dear Friends,

Let me send you my love and greeting. We are now nearing Bombay after a perfectly splendid voyage, with lovely weather all the way—such wonderful light and colour in sea and sky. Many a time I have to pinch myself to make sure it is all real and that I am not dreaming a bright dream, to awake to November in Northern latitudes. Our entry into the Bay at Aden was a realisation of the most vivid advertisement poster you can imagine. The sea was an incredible green-blue, the rocks of Aden a rose-red. The warm breeze fluttered the white and gay filmy dresses of the women on board[;] even the “field-glass” incident and the Kodak camera were not missing. Anything so fiercely barren as Aden looks, I have not yet seen. We had four hours in port from 11–3 o’clock. We did not leave the ship for there is nothing to see but a military fort and some ancient tanks constructed by the Romans, for hoarding the water and supplying the garrison. We shall have a chance to see these in January, when the heat will be less fierce than it is now upon those sun-exposed sunbaked cliffs. The scene from the deck, with the boats coming and going with their merchandise of oil for the ship, and ostrich feathers and fans, and amber necklaces and trinkets to tempt the passengers was most picturesque, and so was the landing of the mails in boats by means of a crane. We had four days before this—a halt of four hours in the Port of the Suez Canal—Port Said.

Some of you will remember that I once had a secretary whose name is Lydia, and that she married an Egyptian student, whom she met in London. She went out to Alexandria with him. They live in the home of his parents, and his father is the Chief Revenue Minister for Ports and Lights under the Egyptian Government {1}, a man with the title of “Bey” who has much influence. When we dropped anchor at Port Said at 6 a.m. in the morning of October 27th we knew by radiogram that Lydia in Port Said was waiting to greet us. But we did not expect her so early in the morning to appear, as she did at our Stateroom door. Her intense joy and delight infected us with the same feeling. Maurice (the husband) and Shafik (the little son) of 2¾ years of age awaited us on deck, and the parents sent their warm greeting. They had both intended to come, but at the last moment “Papa” took ill, and “Mamma” could not leave him. Well before 6.30 we were landed in Maurice’s steam launch (which he had borrowed from a friend) and they gave us a sumptuous breakfast in their hotel, and then we made some purchases. We enjoyed every moment of those four hours and were so very warmly entreated to stay in the Paternal home on our return, that we are seriously considering whether we cannot make some arrangement, though this is difficult as we have contracted for the return journey to the last detail. Nothing could exceed the warmth of the greeting given us. They had made this long journey of about 7 hours, taking the child for the first time in the train. They have already painted furnished and prepared our room in their house, counting upon our visit to them, and they made us feel that it would be almost wicked not to give and receive this mutual delight.

We some times say to each other that if we had to turn back without landing in India at all, the voyage would have been worth while: for we have met so many representative and interesting people and they have given us so readily and warmly, information and personal experience. Our first impression of a crowd of Indian Civil Servants is a very pleasant one—the general idea is that they are comparable to a crowd of Schoolmasters who are proud of their school and deeply interested in the boys. You get the same unashamed keenness which is very refreshing. There are some very highly educated and influential Indians on board and we have had most interesting and delightful talks with them too, and have made friends in particular with Sir Charu Ghose, one of the Judges of the High Court in Calcutta. The women on board are mostly very good to look at, and one cannot help being very proud of them. The young mothers are incredibly young and athletic, there are about 20 children and they enjoy the voyage as much as anyone. They are most attractive. Fred and I have remarked that we have never heard a cross word to or from a single child, and we all agree that they are “a prize lot”. They had a children’s Fancy Dress party on Monday {2}. It was a charming sight. Our Fancy Dress Ball was a great success the following evening. There were 83 costumes all of them good. The decks were beflagged and illuminated and we were all very festive till past the midnight hour.

Within a few hours a very different experience awaits. Gone will be the cool breezes, the hours of leisure and all the immunities of life on board, and there will be heat, flies, and clamour! Let us hope there will be compensating interests and delights! It is all unknown country to me.

Do not forget that letters written up to December 21 will reach us c/o Thos. Cook, Bombay, and let us have a good batch by every mail.

With greetings.

Yours,
EMMELINE PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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{1} Scander Bey Gabriel.

{2} 1 November.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Ghoom.—Describes his and his wife’s train journey to Darjeeling, and their accommodation there. Gives his impressions of the Himalayas, and describes his ascent of Tiger Hill at Ghoom.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

Ghoom, November 30, 1926.

A Week-end in the Himalayas.

I am seated in the verandah of a tiny hotel 8000 feet above the sea. On my left are the eternal snows—Kinchinjunga towering into the sky 20,000 feet above me and forty five miles away. Ir† is eight o’clock in the morning and breakfast is just coming, but more than 4 hours ago we had our “chota hazri” or little breakfast—a fine draught of hot milk and some buttered toast; for Tiger hill is 3 miles away and 1000 feet above us and it is necessary to climb up there before sunrise if one is to see the full panorama of hill and mountain.

This visit to the Himalayas is sandwiched in at the week-end between two strenuous bits of life at Calcutta—factories, politicians, trade unions—and is a very welcome interlude. We started from Calcutta at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday evening after a light repast and were soon both asleep on the train.

We were awakened at a stop at 6 o’clock. “If you look out in a few minutes on the right side of the train you will catch your first glimpse of the snow mountains” said the guard. Sure enough, a brilliant peak disclosed itself bathed in the pink light of dawn. A little later a whole range came into view and then was lost to sight again.

But we were still in the plains. At 8 o’clock we changed on to a narrow guage† line and the real ascent began. At 1000 feet altitude the train entered a forest and it grew colder. Winding round curve after curve three sturdy little engines pulled the train up the hill each engine having a section to itself, like 3 caterpillars with a little space between.

All sorts of engineering feats were accomplished and every ¾ hour another thousand feet was scaled. The tremendous Kinchinjinga† range came more frequently into view and remained longer in sight. At last the train reached the summit of its journey (about 7500 ft) and ran down a few hundred into Darjeeling station.

A short ascent took us to the “Mount Everest” hotel where we had booked rooms—a really delightful place very spacious but not pretentious, more like the Club at Lake Placid (New York State) than the swagger hotels at S. Moritz. We were almost the only visitors as though this is a perfect time of the year for weather it is between the two seasons of “residents” and “tourists” which come earlier and later.

We had two adjoining rooms and our front windows faced the whole range of which Kinchinjunga is the dominating figure. A little walk took us to Observatory Hill with a living panorama in sight and just above, a plan with names of the peaks. Kinchinjunga itself is 45 miles away and well over 28,000 feet in height that is to say more than 20,000 above the eminence on which we stood. Yet it stood out in clear outline against the cloudless sky. Only a few clouds spread out a thin gauzy mist about its lower limbs. I made a rough reckoning and realised that a rope ladder stretched from us to its summit would rise one in ten the whole way. I pointed my walking stick to the peak and verified roughly that it was correct.

It was no good looking for Everest, it cannot be seen from there. Owing to its great distance (110 miles from Darjeeling) its lofty height is hidden by intervening mountains. The guide reminded us that it was 29,002 feet high and when I poured contempt on the odd two feet chid me and pointed with triumph to the printed table!

We walked home passing through the open square where there is a special bazaar on Sunday. Thither had come the surrounding villagers, some pure Tibetans others Nepalese others the Indian Himalayan people half way it seemed between Aryan and Mongol. All of them are fine vigorous upstanding dignified happy folk. The men and women seem all able to carry immense loads on their back supported in place by a band round the forehead. The children are naive and fascinating.

Next morning we were called at 4.30 with chota Hazri, a fire was lit for us in the larger bedroom and we sat looking out into the darkness through the window. About 5 o’clock the snow mountains showed in faint outline. At 5.30 the range was clad in faint pink, the nearer dark mountains almost invisible. Two minutes to six the topmost point of Kinchinjunga was shot with light—the rising sun. We waited till nearly 7. Then E.P.L. went back to bed and I wrote letters.

A leisurely day passed and at 5 o’clock we took train to Ghum one station back on the line, the highest point on the railway. We had rooms in a primitive little hotel and after an early meal went to bed soon after 8.

We were called at ¼ past 3! I was to walk and E.P.L. to go in a chair to the top of Tiger hill. In view however of the great altitude E.P.L. decided that it was better I should go alone. It was three miles all uphill—the guide, Ameer and I strode on in the night with a little moon overhead and stars all around. We reached the summit just at 5 o’clock. Light was showing in the Eastern sky. A complete panorama was visible all around, the wonderful Kinchinjunga range in the north, a line of snowy peaks N.E, and in N.W. three points just showing above the dark foreground mountains, and the middle of these was Everest!

The snow hills grew light and punctually at 2 minutes to 6 Kinchinjunga caught the rising sun. Seven minutes later (it is I think some 80 miles further west) Everest shone out.

I waited half an hour, made friends with other sight seers (one of them Dr. Fritz Neuberger of Munich a friend of Fraulein Heymann!) watched the shadows fall down the mountains, and came home to breakfast at the hotel. These later pages have not been written as you can well imagine waiting for breakfast on the Ghum hotel verandah but back once more in the plains. At Ghum there was an interesting Buddhist temple to visit, and a final survey of the hills to be made. Then Ameer came down with the luggage by train and we descended more expeditiously by car ready for an early bed before another strenuous time in Calcutta.

I find this letter may just arrive in time for Christmas so I send once more our every greeting and good wish to you all.

F. W. PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

P.S. | Post up to Dec. 22 to c/o Thos. Cook and Son, Bombay, up to Dec. 29 to Passenger on SS “Kaisar-i-Hind”, Bombay (leaving Bombay Jany 15), up to Jany 5 to Passenger on Kaisar-i-Hind, Aden; up to Jany 12 to c/o Scandar Bey Gabriel, Head Revenue Official Ports and Lights Administration, Alexandria, Egypt.

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† Sic.

Circular letter by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Hotel Cecil, Agra.—Gives an account of the New Year’s celebrations at Calcutta, her visit to the Ramakrishna monastery, and their meeting with Tagore at Santiniketan, after which they came to Agra to revisit the Taj Mahal.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original. The latter part of the letter was written after the Pethick-Lawrences’ departure from Agra.)

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Transcript

January 5th, 1927.
Hotel Cecil,
Agra.

Dear Friends,

The New Year is a great season in Calcutta. It is a general holiday and there are races, polo tournaments, besides many other sports and games. New Year’s Eve was a night of revel in the Great Eastern Hotel, where we were staying in Calcutta. All the English and Scotch customs were carried out to the limit. The dinner was a great affair, of course the regulation turkey and the Christmas pudding enveloped in flames by rum formed part of the banquet. Every body was furnished at their tables with caps and masks and noses, balloons and whistles and hooters, fireworks, crackers, confetti. Scotch pipes dominated the din, and about every ten minutes Auld Lang Syne was sung, and at other times Scotch reels were punctuated with whoops and war cries. The Indian waiters looked on with solemn faces, and moved about bewildered and worried like sheep at a fair. Such a contrast it all was to the rest of the day. Fred having gone off to see some mines, I took a river steamer and went up the great river Hoogli, one of the mouths of the Ganges. It was one of the most golden days imaginable. The sun veiled in its own blazing glory shone in a cloudless sky, and a cool little breeze from the north rippled the surface of the water. I found myself amongst Indians who could talk English and two of them had been to the Congress at Gauhati. The river banks were the scene of ever changing drama—steps and quays (or “ghats” as they are called here) are built into the high sloping bank, and here, men and women and children bathe or play or pray or wash their clothes, and give their cow or buffalo a rub down. Big barges laden with hay or rough pottery floated down with the current and little boats with scarlet sails made their lazy way up or down stream.

When I came to the little quay labelled Belur I landed, for here was the Rama Krishna Monastery of which I had heard and read; and a friend who lives there was waiting to welcome me and take me to her retreat. A very beautiful place of retirement from the world, for her one living room overlooked all the traffic of the great river, and to lie on a mat and watch the noiseless flood going down to the sea, was to get the peace of all the world into your body and soul. Thirty years ago, this American woman met at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago the “Vedanta” Teacher Vivikananda, who himself was a disciple of the Indian Saint Rama Krishna Paramahamsa, and she made her life in India as his disciple forthwith. She helped him to found his Monastery, and now since his death, lives there helping to keep his influence alive and men come to this centre from all over the world. I saw a young man who had just arrived from Czecho-Slovakia, a peasant farmer who had saved money to make the journey and was just settling down to the work on the land, and give his inner being up to the influences that radiate from the place. This home is a centre of culture for many and while I was there, three young men dropped in for a talk. Towards sunset we all went on the roof, and watched the river and the buildings turning to gold and discussed many problems together, as Indians love to do. At last the little steamer that was to take me back came in sight, but one of them came back with me and we continued to talk as we moved down the now darkening flood illumined with many lights. This man had been with Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedeta) in her pilgrimages through the Indian villages which she describes so wonderfully in her books. Europeans say that she idealised, and wrote not facts but fairy tales. This man who was with her vouchsafed for the accuracy of her presentation, and told me many things about village life and custom, that did something to disperse the effect which the terrible poverty of the peasants makes upon one, and to show that even their life of ceaseless toil is able to produce loveliness and beauty.

The day had given me one of those glimpses of the soul of India which it is hard for anyone of another race to get. Yet there are ideas which make all races one. Once when I was given a reception in Calcutta a group of girls sang a song written and composed by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, and the gist of it was that though we were of different blood and spoke a different earthly language, we had met and conversed in heaven, and because we were moved by the same ideas we were not strangers, but heavenly friends. Speaking of Tagore brings me to describe the day that we spent at his home, which is also the school and University founded by his father 40 years ago, and developed by the poet recently into an International Centre of Research work, the various students there are specially seeking the secret of the unity of Asiatic culture, and are translating many manuscripts hitherto lost to memory. They will seek ultimately the union of all that is fundamental in the culture of the East and the West.

An hour or two in the train from Calcutta brought us to the junction and from there we took a local train to the little country station of Bolpur. Here we were met by a motor omnibus and conveyed to the Tagore estate which includes 700 acres in its area, to the Guest House called Santi Niketan i.e. the Home of Peace. This Guest House has been built over the spot where many years ago the Poet’s father came, having retired from the affairs of life. Here on this broad plateau, removed from sights or sounds of the world, he pitched his little hut, and gave himself up to meditation. The spirit of peace and of loving gracious hospitality pervades the place.

According to ancient Indian tradition still living in the Indian heart, the guest is “Atithi devobhava” the “guest divine” or the symbol of divine visitation.

The Poet Tagore has written “The guest brings to our house the great ideal of the spiritual unity of all human beings: It is not the guest who is under an obligation but the householder”. This is the spirit of Indian hospitality in general and of Santi Niketan in particular.

We were at once shown to the little suite of rooms set aside for us and after we had shaken off the dust of the journey we were served with tea. We were then taken round the School, Library, Art and Music Departments by a very gracious young Professor, and were brought back to our rooms for an hour of rest. We were then taken to the Poet who received us with warmest and kindest welcome, taking both our hands in his two hands. We talked awhile, and then were taken to the staff and students who had assembled on the wide roof for a talk from the Labour M.P. and after a very interesting question and answer discussion we came back to [about four illegible words] “Guru-daio” which is Tagore’s title amongst his students. It means Spiritual Guide or Divine Teacher, which indeed he is. We were perfectly charmed with him. He is a very beautiful and lovely person, his aristocratic face and his abundant silky white hair combed back from the forehead, and his young eyes and delicate sensitive hands, all these make a most worshipful presence. He is very simple and gentle and childlike and warmly gracious, and his mind is open to all beings and ideas which I found quite surprising. He is a keen Feminist and related with much quiet fun how he had written at the request of the women students a drama without a solitary male character in it (“doesn’t that rather please you!?”) and described with enthusiasm how beautifully the girls had acted in it. He spoke with astonishing understanding of the very controversial question of Birth-Control and his delightful talk was full of the spirit of youth. He is deeply alive to the unimaginative character of all burocracies†, and deeply grieved over circumstances in India that I cannot enter into here, but even in his criticism is humourous† and full of understanding. Indeed he seemed to us, the incarnation of deep ripe wisdom, and we bathed in it as in the light of a tropical full moon.

The electric plant on the estate had long ceased to work and the lights had gone out before we said goodnight, to walk back under a starry sky, with a bearer carrying a lantern to our feet. Next morning we were awake at 6 o’cl. with the birds singing and the sun shining, and after early breakfast we were taken in a motor car to see the Rural Construction side of the Foundation. This is no less than an attempt to carry out an experiment that if successful will enable the peasant without artificial irrigation, and without expensive implements, to raise 3 crops a year in the same soil, and also to develop useful handicrafts, such as spinning, weaving, tanning, and carpentry, that can be practised in the house in the hot season, when work on the land is impossible, and can also be done without expensive appliances, but with home-made tools. The model farm, including agriculture, intensive culture of vegetables, and dairy farm is excellent, and all immensely interesting. Everybody is so keen and works with so much harmony and pride in the result of their work. The teachers and students go out regularly into 20 villages to teach the people how to work to abolish their extreme poverty, and also to teach them by demonstration how to get rid of the plague of malaria and many other preventable diseases. They cleanse the water supply, clear the village of stagnant water and of approaching jungle, and perform many kinds of very helpful service. The son-in-law of Tagore is on the present Government Agricultural Commission. The ultimate aim is the growth of this movement to National magnitude: it is the contribution of the University to the problem of peasant poverty and misery.

You can have no idea how beautiful the early morning in this great plateau was. It seemed to have an Eden freshness and sweetness. Beautiful birds flew about in the trees, peacocks strutted, and above all human beings in all the sweetness of their early morning meditation greeted us with gracious looks. Several students came into the main office of this agricultural side, and sat down and waited for a speech just as the students on the literary side had gathered on the roof the night before, for a talk from the Labour M.P. We spoke of the oneness of all thought and work, the oneness without division of the spirit that is in us—because just at that moment we were realising it deeply. We then came back to take leave of the “Guru-daio” the presiding genius of all the activities of the place, and again he was most dear and gracious, and then after a most delicious breakfast that we found awaiting us, we set forth upon our journey.

The next objective was a re-visitation of the supernal Taj Mahal. And this reminds me that on the evening while dining with Tagore, we heard that he had written a beautiful poem about the Taj. It was in Bengali of course, as yet untranslated. We urged him to read it and translate it for us, which he was naturally a little reluctant to do, for words are his music and poetry is untranslatable. But he consented. It was lovely to hear his own speech, it was music as he gave forth the cadences. And then he slowly translated, feeling for the English words with eyes shut, and a dreamy light on his face. The one main idea of all remains with me—that glory, might, majesty, dominion, kingdom in Empire pass away as though they had never been and not one iota remains—but the sorrow of a great love had been transformed into immortal beauty and become “a tear on the cheek of eternity”.

We spent the next afternoon and evening renewing our delight, and bathing ourselves in the beauty of the Taj. We took a boat on the Jumna which flows under the wall on the north side and watched the afternoon light playing upon it, and saw it reflected in the river. Then we landed and watched the sun set, and lingered on and on until the light died out, except where concentrated on the white marble domes and minarets; and the flame of the lamps of the interior shrine flickered through the screens. The white ethereal beauty was reflected entire in the water garden, as we went away by the great South gate, leaving with us a vision of beauty which we shall never forget.

We left Agra last night to journey to the ancient city of Jaipur and have here met with some unique experiences, which must be told in another letter.

We leave Bombay in ten days from now and shall be home all being well on about February 3rd or 4th, well in time for the opening of Parliament on the 8th. We shall spend three or four days in Egypt, to get another look (after 20 years) at the Sphinx, and the great Pyramids and to stay two days with friends in Alexandria.

We look forward with great pleasure to seeing our friends again, and we send them our warmest greeting and good wishes.

Yours,
EMMELINE PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

—————

† Sic.

Circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

11 Old Square, London, W.C.2.—Encloses a printed letter (see 6/135) embodying his impressions of the political and social problems of India.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

Printed circular letter by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

S.S. ‘Kaisar-i-Hind’.—Summarises the views of the Hindu, Mohammedan, and English communities regarding India’s problems. The main obstacles to home rule, as he sees it, are the Indian army, the Indian states, and Hindu-Mohammedan animosity. States his own views on self-government, untried prisoners, labour conditions, education, and health.

Letter from Christabel Pankhurst to Lady Constance Lytton

Transcript

11, Avenue de la Grande Armee, | Paris.
1st May. 1914.

Dearest Con

I am so very glad to have your letter this morning.

You will see that in the Suffragette I have written something about Lord Selborne’s Bill. All the reasons which we have urged against the introduction of the Bill I need not repeat here. It has been introduced and the debate is to take place next Tuesday and there it is.

The important thing now seems to be to take the opportunity afforded by this debate to remind the Government and all anti-Suffragists in every Party that women’s enfranchisement is inevitable. The utmost the anti-Suffragists can do is to delay it; prevent it they cannot. The question for them to consider is whether they gain anything by delay. In my opinion, they lose, and not only do avowed anti-Suffragists lose, but men as a whole lose very seriously by the maintenance of the Suffrage agitation.

The change in women’s attitude towards men that has taken place in the last twelve months is amazing. It means in itself a revolution. The women whom the politicians know are perhaps the same as ever, or pretend to be so, where their opinion of men is concerned. But these women are, in a sense, a class apart. They do not represent the main body of their sex—the great mass of women of all classes who are far removed from the not very elevating influences of the political game as it is played by men politicians at the present time.

Men used to have a great prestige with women. That prestige is disappearing now. More and more, women are regarding men not as equals, but as inferiors. In the past women were very much in ignorance concerning men’s moral standards and the suffering caused to themselves as the result of those moral standards being so deplorably low. I will not say that the denial of the vote is producing a sex war because there always has been a sex war. But what is happening is this, that whereas the sex war was waged on one side only, ie. by men, women are now learning to defend themselves. In their humility, Suffragists themselves used to realise that women had been weakened by the result of subjection and needed the training that freedom gives, but now they are also realising that the men have suffered far more as a result of the subjection of women, and have been utterly degraded and demoralised by it. A contempt for men, as men are today, is becoming very, very prevalent amongst women.

Generally speaking, men, if they are not immoral are weak. That this is so is shown by the fact that although there are multitudes of men who believe in women’s enfranchisement, they do nothing effective to win it, and are most timid and half-hearted in their criticism of the hideous exploitation of women by men that is going on every day. It ought to be clearly understood by Suffragist men, as well as by anti-Suffragist men, that opposition to votes for women and faint-hearted support of votes for women are regarded by thinking Suffragists as being rooted in immorality. A man who gets up and opposes the enfranchisement of women is regarded as being an immoral man. No doubt there will be an outcry at this statement, but that is what women think and they are not given now to making any secret of their thoughts. Some of the men may try to cite cases of clean living men who believe that women should not have the vote. They will find it very hard to do so, and if they succeed they will be doing nothing more than producing the exceptions that prove the rule.

The responsiblity of Suffragist men is really as great as that of the anti-Suffragist men. They must consider whether they want the sex war to go on or whether they do not, because if it goes on it will certainly get keener, and will in future involve women who are not involved today. What do the men Suffragists who counsel patience and non-militancy imagine women think when they read the remarks about “blackmail” made by Members of the Government in the House of Lords when the Bishop of London’s Bill for raising the age of consent was being discussed the other day? It is very obvious that this Bill proposing to protect girls until they are eighteen is hated by a great many men, and that the Government mean to do their best to water down if not to defeat the Bill in question.

What every W.S.P.U. member is saying now is “Thank God we did not get the vote when militancy began, because the campaign of the last few years has been such an education to us.” “If men are like this” they say, “then it is dangerous for us not to know it.” We have lived in a fool’s paradise but have escaped from it now. The fight we are making against the apathy of some men and the opposition of others are strengthening us. We are ready to go on with the present fight for an indefinite period of time. We are just getting into our stride. We are just beginning to reach new bodies of women. If we get the vote tomorrow we shall of course rejoice with all our might, but we realise that if we do not get it for a long time, the years that will be spent in fighting will be some of the most fruitful in the history of the woman’s movement. And the wonderful thing is that every year as it goes by is greater in its achievement and more full of educational experience than any year that has gone before. Realising what has been gained by militancy, we are positively sorry for the women in other countries who have got the vote without fighting for it. We want, when the vote comes, to be able to say that we got it ourselves—not that men gave it to us, the reason for that being that men need the lesson that our victory on those terms will give them. Think, too, how much more the women of future generations will appreciate the vote when they realise that it has been fought for and won by women, and not merely handed over as a gift by men.

I am glad to say that it is being more and more realised how scandalous it is for Carson and his friends to be allowed to commit “grave and unprecedented outrages” (to use the words of the Prime Minister) while mother and all the other active militants are persecuted. The argument that the cases are not parallel is not taken seriously by the general public. People realise that Ulster militancy and Suffragist militancy are essentially one and the same thing whatever superficial difference there may be.

I do hope that you will get better and stronger now.

With love
Christabel Pankhurst

Letter from Christabel Pankhurst to Lady Constance Lytton

Transcript

11 av de la Grande Armée | Paris.
14th May 1914

My dearest Con,

Lord Lytton was kind enough to write to me about the debate and his impressions of it. You may be interested to see a copy of my reply.

More & more & more one sees that the way to win is to get the Govt wedged between militancy & the impossibility of punishing militancy—in short—to create the Ulster situation over again.

Now there is no help that is any use from the practical point of view that does not fit into that scheme. It is all very well to rejoice over the sympathy & understandg shown in the Lords, but the House of Commons was sympathising & understand[in]g in the year 1870!

Sympathy & understand[in]g are a snare unless they are pounded into something more definite in the shape of an Act of Parliament.

You know, anti-militancy does affect the reasoning faculty adversely. People who are most rational & logical & enlightened when other political movements are at stake suddenly lose their bearings when the question of how to get votes for women comes uppermost.

You will see how the General {1} & Mrs Dacre Fox have been throwing the search-light upon the contrast between the Govt’s treatment of themselves & Carson & Lansdowne.

The W.S.P.U. leaves them all far behind doesn’t it.

The anti-militant ladies simply don’t come into anybody’s calculations these days. Why can’t they see & become a force by adopting a sane policy?

I am sure that you feel proud and happy when you read of our fighters’ exploits.

You and I, the Exiles, have a very joyful life in that sense have we not!

So very sorry I am dearest Con, to hear you have been ill again. I hope it has passed now.

You wrote of my dog the other day. She is indeed a little beauty, full of intelligence & affection. It is years since I could have a dog and to have this one is a joy.

As for my home here, it is to me just like a room in Lincoln’s Inn House. Outside I feel is not the Avenue de la Grande Armee, but Kingsway[.] In the next rooms are the organisers.

And yet it is Paris too—the beloved Paris that I really will & must come back to from time to time.

Imagine how one loves a place—delightful in any case—which has been one’s haven!

I am immeasurably happy in being here and in the thought of being some day—perhaps soon—back in London.

Back in London will be when the vote is won—not before. That might be so very soon if everybody wd do their best[.]

The barriers are so slight—the opposition so weak.

It is the weakness of pro Suffragists that is the enemy now.

But fighting is victory so it is well whatever happens.

When I go home one of the very early things I shall do is go & see you!

My love to you
Christabel Pankhurst

——————

{1} Flora Drummond.

Typed copy of a letter from Emmeline Pankhurst to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

COPY.

Boulogne sur Mer.
September 8th, 1912.

My dear Mrs Lawrence:—

It is during a breathing space such as we have had that one is able to quietly take stock of the situation and see things in their true perspective and this I have been doing. No doubt you and Mr Lawrence have also been thinking much about the Union and its work. We, Mrs Tuke, Annie, Christabel and I have met here and had a long talk and as a result I write you this letter which embodies our views. I want you to regard it as a business letter and to realise that in all our hearts are feelings which are very deep and real but which it would be out of place to express here.

First let me tell you how matters stand.

1. Of course you have been kept informed of the Government’s proceedings to recover the costs of the prosecution and how after much effort the sale at Holmwood has been for a time postponed.

2. I enclose a letter claiming compensation which has been answered to the effect that we are travelling abroad. This claim is likely to be followed by others.

3. The new premises are nearing completion. Mrs Tuke and I return to London next week to superintend furnishing and removal. Before going to Evian-les-Bains for our cure we deposited with the solicitor, Mr Blount, a sum of money to cover the rent for three years so that the guarantors are now entirely protected against possible loss.

4. Christabel leaves Boulogne next week to establish herself in Paris. It is commonly known who she is and where she is and so we have decided that it is better she should be in Paris the seat of French Government, where she will be in touch with the representatives of the English Press and also that the moment has come for her to resume her own name and live quite openly. She will now sign her articles and letters.

Now as to the situation as it seems to us to affect you and Mr Lawrence, and your position in the Union as Treasurer.

It is quite evident that the authorities and also the Insurance Companies and property owners mean to take full advantage of the fact that they can attack Mr Lawrence with profit and through Mr Lawrence weaken the Movement. So long as Mr Lawrence can be connected with militant acts involving damage to property, they wil make him pay. Nothing but the cessation of militancy, (which of course is unthunkable† {1} before the vote is assured) or his complete ruin will stop this action on their part. They see in Mr Lawrence a potent weapon against the militant movement and they mean to use it. This weapon is a powerful one. By its use they can not only ruin Mr Lawrence, but they also intend, if they can, to divert our funds. If suffragists, feeling strongly as they do, the injustice of one having to suffer for the acts of otheres, raised a fund to recoup Mr Lawrence, it would mean that our members[’] money would go finally into the coffers of the enemy and the fighting fund would be depleted or ended. It would also reduce militancy to a farce for the damage we did with one hand would be repaired with the other. It is well to see things at their very worst especially when the very worst is not only possible but highly probable. In one night, by one militant act, hundreds of thousands of pounds might be involved and the only individuals in the Movement who would be affected apart from imprisonment of those responsible would be you two. So long as you are a responsible official of this Union this will be so. Then there is the Albert Hall Meeting. What we say at that meeting is of vital importance. I know that it will be my duty as Chairman to make a militant speech, a speech that will lead to further acts of reprisal on the part of the Government if it is followed, as it will be, by a fresh outbreak of militancy. No doubt there will be another prosecution for conspiracy in which those who share responsibility with me will be involved. The Gov. can only take me when they proceed against me and that will do them more harm than good but in taking you they repeat the money getting process. I know you will understand me when I say that if to ruin Mr Lawrence would help the Woman’s Cause I should think it worth while for what is the individual as compared with the Cause? When however far from helping it is a source of weakness, a positive injury, then the case is different! What is to be done?

This is what we suggest after long and anxious thought. It is a way of retaining your active participation in a great Imperial Movement which is just beginning and at the same time of preventing the Government from striking at the militant Movement in England through you. The Union has paved the way by my two visits to Canada, by the establishment of the first W.S.P.U. there, by the presence of scattered members and by the deputation to Borden. Will you for a time lead the Imperial Suffrage Movement in Canada? It is a great mission and a great role. The Government would get a huge rebuff. Like all their previous acts of tyranny this latest one would recoil on their own heads and they would find that instead of crushing the Movement in England by attacking you they had actually helped to spread it throughout the Empire. We have often felt in this Movement that we were guided in a mysterious way. Perhaps the events and trials of the past few months have been preparing us for greater developments. You can do this work. For me to undertake it would not change the situation here for the difficulties and dangers would still remain.

Following on the deputation to Borden we are sending Miss Wylie (whose brother is a Canadian M.P.) to organise our scattered members. We are endeavouring to get together a special Canadian Fund to launch the Campaign. The growing importance of Canada makes a W.S.P.U. Movement there imperative even if you do not agree to control and guide it.

Of course you might decide to carry out the project of foreign travel of which you have so often talked. All that I have written is with the full approval and concurrence of our friends who share my anxieties and hopes. Please show my letter to Mr Lawrence and discuss it with him and believe that I have left unwritten many expressions of affection and appreciation which we all feel very deeply. I hope your holiday has been a pleasant one. It must have been a great joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I send this letter to New York in the hope that you may get it before sailing.

Very affectionately yours,
(Signed) E. Pankhurst.

——————

A typed transcript.

{1} Followed by a superfluous closing bracket.

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