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Knowles, Esther Edith (1895–1974), secretary to Lord and Lady Pethick-Lawrence Imagem Com objeto digital
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Letter from Lady Pethick-Lawrence to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

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From Lady Pethick Lawrence
Fourways, Gomshall, Surrey.
May 26. 1946.

This is our May 26th Beloved! & I woke early with thoughts of you, & my first action was to go through all your letters since you left me, beginning with with† March and continuing to your last lovely letter of May 18 {1}—up to your direct message of May 23 {2} transmitted to me & received by post from Mr Clausen {3} yesterday May 24. It was a joy to receive that little message & realize that we were so close together in thought, as indeed we are now. My memory goes back to 45 years ago—how very definitely & clearly certain moments in ones life stand isolated, as if they were moments ever-living, regardless of the passing of time. I can see you now clearly as you were then, & realize your gesture as you gathered me up in your arms, & there we were in the old arm-chair in the little room at Somerset Terrace. And now we are together again in a different way, & there are still chapters to be written to our life.

I gather from the broadcast last night as well as from the Times yesterday morning that you have reached that deadpoint of seeming frustration, that we knew had to come. I entirely realize the truth of that word spoken by Maud—“it is not I that am doing anything, but He”[.] {4} In other words I have realized for some time past, that only to a very small & limited extent do we as individual[s] shape events. Events shape destiny. Yet there are moments of definite crisis, when one individual act can influence results for generations—such as the outstanding act of Campbell Bannerman when against popular outcry, he gave the promise of citizenship to the defeated Dutch in S. Africa. He was not as the world estimates character, a “great” personality; yet he did a great deed, inspired by a great conception of democracy.

I wonder if you will read the leading article in The Times of May 24, on Egypt, in which Bevin’s policy in Egypt is unequivocally defended against Churchill’s attack. I was amazed. No such wise & far-seeing defence & justification have I seen in any Labour Paper or Magazine. For some time indeed ever since the Labour Party took office, The Times has been our best advocate.

I found the two letters I mentioned in my last letter, when I had to get the post, without enclosing them—one from Dorothy Plowman, which reflected the atmosphere of the home which we had made together here, & one from E. K. which reflected the impression made on one whom we had known since she was a child of two years old. For these letters as samples of many others that I receive daily, I feel truly thankful when I review our life together.

Nevertheless I do not want you to think that I have not had my small personal problems to deal with, during your absence, as you have had major world problems to deal with. Some of these personal problems we shall have to investigate & deal with together when you return. I have come to some quite definite conclusions with regard to them, & that definiteness you will like, as it is indefiniteness about details that you find it hard to deal with. I have been obliged to take a long-term view of the future, & can now see it as a whole, & after consultation & agreement with you, I should like soon after your return, to proceed to plan & to act. Meantime all is well & I give thanks from day to day, mainly for your health, but also for the health & well being of all here at the present time.

Charlie Marsh is spending the weekend here, & is occupying your room. She asked to come & is always very happy here. Yesterday in late afternoon we had a most perfect & heavenly ride in the car, to Ranmore Common, which I have not seen for 7 years: from the approach near Dorking to the return through East Horsley & Clandon. We were really entranced by the loveliness from beginning to end. We have saved petrol & shall have enough when you return for a day’s ride to the coast.

We have had a spell of cold winds (not frost) & grey skies, without rain. Vegetation is at its height, but no growth of seedlings for the past 2 or 3 weeks because of drought & cold wind. Nevertheless the flowering season is some weeks ahead of time (due to the very warm & sunny April)[.] We have begun bottling the gooseberries & making jam. With great love & with constant thoughts & blessing,

Your own.

I wonder whether an air-flight to the Caves of Ajanta will be possible during the Wait of Congress & Muslim Verdict.

—————

{1} PETH 6/171.

{2} PETH 6/173?

{3} The name is indistinct.

{4} This remark, made by Maud Coote at Easter, had been mentioned by Lord
Pethick-Lawrence in his letter of 18 May (PETH 6/171).

† Sic.

Letter from Frank Turnbull to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

Treasury Chambers.—Has been at the Treasury for some time (having moved from the Commonwealth Relations Office), and will therefore forward Pethick-Lawrence’s letter to Sir Gilbert Laithwaite. His eldest son is in hospital.

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