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Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace (Duke’s Road, W.C.).—Arranges meetings.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terr.
4. May 1901

Dear Mr Lawrence.

Just a line in immediate reply to begin with, so that you may get it tonight. Friday will suit us nicely, & thanks for letting me see the cordial little note. I should very much indeed like Percy to come. I want to ask Dr Gwyther & his wife too.

I think it would be an excellent idea to ask Hammond to the Meetings on Monday. Yes—Mary will have a good time: she has never yet had a dull one—& she always falls on her feet. “Yes Sister—they do ache too” said one poor girl for whom we found a situation after she had been tramping about all day (she did not understand the simile).

In haste to catch the post

Sincerely yours.
E.P.

I leave it to you to ask Percy?

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{1} Dr Gwyther ran a social club in rooms at Beaconsfield Buildings, off the Caledonian Road.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Recommends tact in returning MacIlwaine’s criticism (of his own play?). Alludes to Mary Neal’s part in arranging Lawrence’s ‘Canning interview’.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terr., Dukes Rd, W.C.
4. 5. 01

Dear Mr Lawrence,

I am sending back Mac’s criticism; am very glad you brought it to us, but don’t let him know that we have seen it in this way. Send it to him yourself with a letter. First say how entirely true it is, that you are in complete sympathy with his attitude, and that is just the truth that wants to be constantly brought out—(you cannot possibly overdo this with a man so self-diffident and easily discouraged as Mac is)—but that you think that a little more description of plot would make it more interesting as probably—(as he himself says)—the play is almost unknown to the average play-goer.

One of two things will happen: he will leave it alone, or will bring it to us and we can do the rest. I think that a good thing could be made of it. Anyway he must not be hurt. You will excuse me for laying so much stress on the matter! But Mac is not like a great big man; he is thin-skinned and sensitive as any woman and as easily repulsed as any child, and he has gone so very far out of his usual way in entering heart and soul into this whole thing that I wouldn’t have him jarred for anything. He is not easily offended—I dont mean that—and he has no vanity, and there is nothing in the world you can’t say to him, but he must know that you appreciate and understand him. I have been quite surprised at the way he has knocked down the barriers himself to meet you; you must be very nice to him.

Sister Mary has just gone off. Mac came to do her shopping and see to her and carry her things to the station. I am glad the Canning interview was productive. Mary has a wonderful way of knowing just the right people for the right use and of being able to root them up at a moment’s notice. And men will take any amount of trouble to please her, as you saw for your-self last night. I think the Blatchford idea an excellent one.

Mr Cope came back last night quite charmed with your friend Mr Gooch {1}—quite overcome with his feelings! I like him awfully too. I hope he will come and see us. I could tell at a glance that he was just our sort—so gentle a man—which is a better way in these days than saying, such a gentleman, nicht wahr?

Sincerely yours,
Emmeline Pethick

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{1} G. P. Gooch and Lawrence both contributed articles to The Heart of the Empire: Discussions of Problems of Modern City Life in England, published the following month. See Fate Has Been Kind, p. 55.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, (Duke’s Road, W.C.).—Discusses forthcoming meetings, and asks for a copy of his Echo leader. Describes a luxurious supper.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terr.
Sunday, 5. 4. 01

Dear Mr Lawrence,

I am sorry that I cannot be present at the Meeting tomorrow, especially as there are so many interesting points to bring forward—the Blatchford idea for one, and the idea about specializing in an industry and working up advertisements with reference to it. But as I shall not see you, I have a word to say about Friday. I remembered after sending off a hasty reply to you on Saturday that Friday is the day of our Meeting for “The Greene Ladie” at Lady Montague’s. That doesn’t matter except—we had better fix the hour for 7 instead of 6 o’clock. I hope this will not shorten the evening. I hope Mr Sauer will not be in haste to leave. Percy will be at that Meeting, and of course will come back with us. I am writing him a note by this post.

I missed the Echo yesterday—(Sat.)—was your leader in it?—if so you might send it me from the office “gefälligst”.

I am sending you one of my works tomorrow written nearly 7 years ago. I read it today—it turned up—and was amused and I think you will be to see that I had not got very far away from it after all these years! If you have nothing better to do—vain surmise—you can read it in the train on Thursday; only send it back to me as it is my sole copy.

Last night I returned to what should have been a fireless and dark home! to find what looked like a bit of conjuring: the fire bright—the lamp lit—a dainty supper spread—a little bottle of wine—strawberries and cream—and in the oven a great salmon trout done to a turn—with hot plates & everything just ready. “Is it my fault,” I said, “if I lose my immortal soul?” “Have I not striven not to be a pampered woman?” And all the while in my heart of hearts I loved it—the luxuries themselves perhaps, but certainly the fairy tale, which suited my fancy quite. (This is a secret, by the way.) Have you read R. L. Stevenson’s Vailima Letters? If not, you oughter. Talk about a temperament! “But,”—you will say—“we are not talking about temperaments or didn’t oughter be; this is the Echo Office and nothing is allowed here but business.” “Kindly keep to the point, Madam.” Oh well then, the point is—briefly—that I remain sincerely,

Emmeline Pethick

Talking about “the Apostle” and “the degradation of labour”, the enclosed little note may interest you to see. This is the side of the Apostle that his comrades in work know best. This is written after a party that my children gave to their parents, when A. S. was present.

Note-card from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, Euston Road, W.C.—Approves of his suggestion (of asking Percy Alden to edit The Echo?).

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, Euston Road, W.C.
6. 5. 01.

Dear Mr Lawrence.

In reply to yours of this morning—I see everything in favour of the suggestion. {1} And the one objection does not seem to me of much weight. To hold a position of national trust, which gives a power of control over the national resources & at the same time to keep the possible power & means of subverting public business & interests to private or personal ends is one thing—but I do not see that Percy’s position as Warden of M. H. Settlement offers any parallell†—and I do not see that there can be any possible misunderstanding about it. “If you arst me”—the more Big Brother Percy is in it—the better. Letter from Mary this morning. All well.

E.P.

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{1} Of asking Percy Alden to edit The Echo?

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Discusses writings by herself and others on social work in London.

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd W.C.
8. May 1901

Dear Mr Lawrence.

The “Work” in question is “The Life of a Sister of the People” {1}. I am sending with it “Quest & Freedom”, which represents a time in the lives of all the writers, when the iron glowed white-hot in the furnace—a time of ideal comradeship in purpose & work, such as, one thinks, could not come more than once in a few lifetimes. Of course you wont see that—I was only smiling to think of it & the thoughts crept down to my pen, as they have a way of doing in rather an irrepressible way—sometimes. If you have nothing else to do, look at the little sketch of the social programme at the end. After the furnace, the blows came, blows that at the time seemed to smash our life’s purpose & work to pieces. We had to begin from the bottom. Arthur Sherwell lost his title & his profession & his living, & his dream of a social work in London. Mary & I lived on from week to week. The Girls Club was in the street. Well—this was the last thing that we accomplished together, so you see we have a peculiar sentiment about it. Forgive an old woman’s tale! We grow prolix in advanced age!

Read Sister Mary’s “Schlummerlied” {2}, “The dream of the soul’s slow disentanglement”. It is a true story, but I think very beautifully treated: and Arthur Sherwell’s “Tale in a Doss-house” gives the side of him shown in those old Labour Home days: he did all the doss-houses of London in disguise with a man called Tom Bickerton, a regular dosser & awful reprobate, but with a chivalrous devotion to “the guv’ner”.

Well here I am jawing on—I dont know what for, I’m sure. If you read my “Worship of the Holy Child”, it is the last column only, that is worth reading. I have got a bit of real truth into that, I believe.

God “keep us still faithful to the best & truest”, I say when I think of these things—when I think of the way by which we have arrived. Retrospect is good sometimes, in spite of my pet dogma—There is no Past. There is nothing but the present, & the To-Be.

But you will have had more than enough of the philosopher by this time!

Sincerely.
E. P.

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{1} An article by Emmeline Pethick published in the Young Woman, vol. ii (1893–4).

{2} ‘Lullaby’ (German).

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, W.C.—Reflects on their renewed understanding of one another.

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20 Somerset Terrace. | W.C.
13. 5. 01

Dear Mr Lawrence.

It is a matter of deep thankfulness & of gladness to me, that the mists have been swept away: that we can see each other again. I feel that every bit of misunderstanding is gone completely.

I can only wish now that the sense of an infinite security in God’s purpose in your life which came to you at the darkest hour may remain with you & abide with you now & for ever. Some sort of benediction has fallen on us both.

You hit a good many right nails on the head yesterday, you dear stupid old thing! One was your conclusion that I am a queer woman. That shows an amount of insight I shouldn’t have given you credit for—it was quite subtle! And another was your assertion that in a funny sort of way you understand me better than any of them: how you came to find that out, beats me quite. (Perhaps now that I admit it, you wont “quite agree”!—(you dont mind me teasing you a bit, do you?).)

Now there is just one word that I want to say—one word about yourself, & your mental habit of analysis & introspection which has (as you say) become a kind of tyranny: (I am not thinking of the personal bearing but simply of your health & balance.) Try your principle of non-resistance on your self. Dont struggle with this habit, you will only get entangled, you will only find that you are at war in yourself.
Give it rope: let it work itself out if it will, & exhaust its own power. Detach yourself, if you can. I can imagine a possibility of just simply breaking the connection between your self & the mental habit, so that the wheel can go round & round & the crank or whatever it is, be still, or if that isn’t possible, go with it, as you go down a hill on a bicycle coasting, knowing that you will eventually come to the bottom & that there will come the time for the other thing.

But dont have the waste of war, and dont resist any part of yourself.

And if you were to try what a little inspection would do sometimes just to balance the other thing: perhaps you wouldn’t be such a blind old bat as you are sometimes—you might even notice for instance next time you see her that Mrs Gwyther is a pretty woman!

Yours sincerely.
Emmeline Pethick

Note-card from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, Euston Road, W.C.—Discusses the printing of a manifesto.

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20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, Euston Road, W.C.
15. 5. 01

It is impossible to do much to Manifesto today—If necessary to print tomorrow keep to what you have got—but if not, I will try & send in something tomorrow: Will write anyhow if possible tomorrow—Wishing you a good time at Oxford & continued success

E.P.

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There are some pencil notes on the back, possibly for speeches by Lawrence.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Encloses a draft manifesto. Suggests he write a letter to take advantage of the Daily News’s effort to ‘work up’ Merriman and Sauer. Discusses arrangements for going to the theatre and the opera, and refers to Club activities.

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20 Somerset Terr. | Dukes Rd W.C.
16. 5. 01 {1}

Dear Mr Lawrence.

I enclose my draft: The point is to be comprehensive—& yet so far as possible, definite: I just send it for what it is worth—without waiting to show it to Mary even.

I see that there is an effort in Daily News to work up Merriman & Sauer even at the 11th hour—This ought to be made the most of. Can you write a letter by way of doing the very first next thing—& can we turn anybody on to the question. Can we get a little bit of “go” into the S. A Conciliation Talk to Percy—will you? I dont think his name ought to be used at the foot of a letter or publicly unless we really want it: because he has so much that is not his to lose: (you will understand just how far I think that this consideration weighs—)

We had a sweet day yesterday “round the billy fire”, Mary & Mac & “Katimole”, & my “Sweetest of All”, whose 7th birthday it was. I came home to the Club & then was too tired to do more than look at your Manifesto.

I am going this afternoon with dear Brother Jack to “Pelleas & Melisande” {2}. The angel never dreams of going anywhere without taking us along too!

By the way, I want to hear “The Walküre”, & you never know to a day or two when it is coming on at Covent Garden. You have simply to watch the papers & make a rush for the tickets. I am taking Emma Rozier (who lost her little sister last Friday). Shall I take a third ticket for you on spec: they cost 10/6. It is the one you want to hear. I daresay somebody else would take it if you couldn’t come.

One thing more. I want the children to have a very happy time at Canning Town on Sat. week (25th). I want them to come to the Residence to tea about 4.30. They love parties & I am consumed with the desire to give them every mortal thing they want. You know they are no trouble to entertain—they are not ordinary children, are they?—so keen, & so gentle. Of course I am writing to Percy, but I want you to be there, if you can possibly manage it.

Yes, I admire Miss Octavia Hill’s work very much—also above & beyond her accomplishment she was a pioneer, & that means the original mind & the heroic temper. I feel that I have heaps to talk to you about, but I may be wrong, it is only a vague impression!

Sincerely yours
Emmeline Pethick

P.S. Mac has just come in, & Mary. They approve of my draft.

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{1} ‘16’ altered from ‘15’.

{2} Mrs Patrick Campbell revived Maeterlinck’s play, with music by Fauré, for five mat-inees at the Royalty Theatre from 13 to 17 May (Monday to Friday). See The Times, 13 May 1901, p. 7.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace (Duke’s Road, W.C.).—Urges him to see Pelleas et Melisande.

(Dated Thursday.)

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Transcript

20 Somerset Terrace
Thursday evening

Dear Mr Lawrence.

Just a line to tell you that you must see Pelleas & Melisande tomorrow if anyhow possible. It is the last time. And remember the tragedy of life is in what we miss, not in what we suffer.

I am not going to say anything about the play now except this—you must meet it as you meet death, leaving behind all the cold clay that has gathered about the elemental spirit. Cast away criticism, logic, convention, reason—& thought—& look into the world of the spiritual made visible through the senses.

I’ll talk with you afterwards about what are to me key sentences—that doesn’t matter. Whatever else you will do or not do, you will fill your eyes with beauty.

I have a lovely book for you. More anon.

Yours sincerely.
Emmeline Pethick

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

20 Somerset Terrace, W.C.—Encloses items (copies of a manifesto?) for distribution to friends and relations.

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20 Somerset Terrace, W.C.

Dear Mr Lawrence,

I am relying upon your energy & influence to get rid of the enclosed {1} amongst your friends & relations in the West End!

Yours sincerely,
Emmeline Pethick

19 May 1901

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{1} Perhaps copies of a manifesto. See PETH 7/81–2.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence (incomplete?)

20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Describes a quiet Sunday alone. Accepts his advice about funding the Club’s activities.

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20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd WC.
21. May 1901

Thank you for your letter. Yes it was a day of days on Sunday {1}. I let all the others go off early & had a day of solitude in the blue kitchen—solitude broken only by the happy presence of my little Sunday visitor.

I thought perhaps somebody who had not been abused for a whole week would be ready for a little more scolding! But the dews of peace were falling all day long as the hours swing silently & slowly by—and the splendour of the sky changed from blue to gold & from gold to purple. There is a certain quality of happiness that has fallen upon me since childhood whenever the sun shines & the house is empty. I do not mean that I am not very dependent on companionship: it is only when there is a blue sky, and a human base not very far off, that I enjoy being Diogenes in my tub. But oh the wine of these hours!

And Maeterlinck’s bees (Bees)—I noticed yesterday that you had difficulty in reading my writing!—I say Maeterlincks Bees reconciled me to life and death & impelled me to kiss the black robe of Fate that is wrought with stars.

I must thank you for saying such nice things about our resources. Sister Mary & I will gladly accept your view of the position, though I think we are going to get all we want for the Green Lady & for the Children’s Holiday[,] for I agree with you that it is for the greater interests of the work to get the co-operation & help of the largest number of people that we can touch, leaving the reserves for emergencies.

Let me have your travels to take to Broadmoor {2}.

You couldnt be too prolix if you tried! I’m afraid that is one thing that you are to old to learn? You will never learn to babble?—

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This letter ends abruptly, and may be incomplete.

{1} 19th.

{2} The reference may be to the circular letters Lawrence sent home during his journey around the world in 1897–8 (PETH 5/30a–h). In early June this year Emmeline Pethick and Mary Neal took some girls of the Espérance Club to stay at Broadmoor, near Dorking, where a Mrs Brook had placed two cottages at their disposal. Lawrence joined the party for the weekend of 8 and 9 June.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

Hillside, Caversham, Reading.—Commends his promptness in writing, and teases him about his failings as a lover. Refers to his mother’s wish to know more about her, and asks whether he has told Percy (of their engagement).

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

(Place of writing not indicated.)—Invites him to lunch on Sunday.

(Dated Friday.)

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Friday Evening
Darling Freddy—

Just a line before ending the day in case I haven’t time tomorrow—Will you come to lunch here on Sunday. If you come about 11.30—we will go for a little walk in the Park. I shall be going with the Daddy to Hammersmith in the evening—about 5.30—you will be wanting to get back to Canning Town I expect.

I am thinking of you constantly. Your own Woman—

Letter from Mark Guy Pearse to F. W. Lawrence

28 Gordon Mansions (W.C.).—Is delighted by the news of his engagement to Vechan (Emmeline Pethick), and looks forward to meeting him.

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28 Gordon Mansions.
June 13: 1901

Dear Mr. Lawrence

Vechan has asked me to meet you at 20 Somerset Terrace on Tuesday {1} at four o’clock. I want just to say how great a pleasure it will be to me.

You know something of our relationship—how all her life she has shared with me her thoughts, and her heart. I am glad that this has come to her & to you. I know that she has but one thought, one purpose, one prayer—it is that she may help you live to the highest and largest fulfilment of your best purposes. She accepts her position with almost an awe, seeing the greatness of your life’s possibility. Vechan can never be to me other than she has ever been,—a kind of holy trust. And to me it will be more than a joy, my blessedness if I can serve her still & serve you for her sake.

I am glad you are going to see her amongst the children. You wont know her until you have seen [her] there & amongst the old people of the workhouse. These children, brought up amidst all that tends to hardness & suspicion, find in her such a boundless trust, the atmosphere of such a gladness & sunshine that they are transformed as by a miracle of love.

God bless you. Take care of her whom I call still my Vechan. There is not in the round world another so strong yet so sensitive, so utterly independent yet so glad to be dependent where love is,—holding so much that is counted everything as so little, but all that makes the true life unutterably dear. God made you the happiest of men that she may be the happiest of women.

Yours heartily
M. Guy Pearse

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{1} 18th.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

Broadmoor Cottages (near Dorking).—Believes that Lawrence will be a great man and should pursue a parliamentary career. Reflects on her feelings for him and the beauty of her surroundings.

(Dated Sunday.)

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