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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.

Letter from Jessie Kenney to Lady Constance Lytton

Transcript

Hotel du Golfe | La Guimorais | St Coulomb | Ille-et-Villaine | France.
Sept 13. 1921.

Dearest Lady Conny,

I am writing to ask if you will very kindly do something for me.

I am to be admitted to the Wireless College at Colwyn Bay where I am going to train as a Wireless Operator and at the same time to study for my London Matric. I have already applied to the Principal and he has accepted me.

But each student is required to supply the following:—

(a) Certificate of birth

(b) Particulars filled up on enclosed form

(c) Letters from two persons of British parentage, and of standing, signifying that the applicant is the person described on the birth certificate—that the particulars on attached form are correct—and that the applicant and his† parents are of good character.

I am enclosing my birth certificate and the form referred to above which I have filled up—so that you can see all is in order. Both my father and mother are dead as I think you know.

There are two people I should like to have as sponsors for my entry into the wireless world. One is yourself and the other is Professor Bickerton (President of the Royal Astronomical Society) who was a good old supporter of ours in our good old fighting days and he has been more than encouraging to me in my new quest.

I should be therefore so glad, dear Lady Conny, if you would send me a letter which I can forward on to the Principal with the enclosed form and birth certificate.

I have decided after all not to go to Australia as things seem very unsettled out there. Also I find that before I can do anything in wireless it will be necessary for me to take a degree and I am working to this object. And if one is to take a degree in Science it is better to take it in this country of course. Colwyn Bay has an excellent and mild climate, and so one can work and study there without detriment to one’s health. My two good and generous sisters in New York are helping me financially for my first year’s training.

Women are not being trained as Wireless Operators and special facilities are being given to me because of my enthusiasm in the matter and my keenness to go ahead in the cause of scientific work. The Prime Minister has sent me a little note wishing me success, and if it had not been for this I doubt if I should have been accepted. So you can gather from this that I am helping to blaze another trail for women and I hope to prove worthy of all the confidence and faith that has been put in me. One thing I feel so strongly about in this affair is that one is never too old to start anything. It seems to have astonished quite a few people that I should wish to go in for scientific work at the age of 34 and begin studying for a degree in science now. But I feel just as I did when I began work in the Suffrage Movement, and one is as young as one feels—isn’t one?

I wonder how you are keeping. I saw the notice in the Press and the leading article about your dear mother’s birthday {1}. How devoted you must all be to her and how proud she must be of all of you. I do wish you could have met my mother. You would have loved her. She was a wonderful and good woman. Whenever any of us are in doubt or trouble we always feel her presence and influence near. In life she always specially watched over the weak one and the one needing help and she seems to do this still.

You will be pleased to hear that Annie’s little baby boy {2} is perfectly lovely and is so happy and good.

I am enclosing a stamped addressed envelope. I am staying at the above address for a little holiday—It is a little hotel in an out of way spot in Brittany, and one that has been visited by many Suffragettes.

With love & all good wishes

Ever yours,
Jessie Kenney.

——————

{1} Edith, Countess of Lytton, celebrated her eightieth birthday this year.

{2} Annie Kenney’s son Warwick.

† Sic. 

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

Note from Christabel Pankhurst to Lady Constance Lytton

(Place of writing not indicated.)—Asks her to show Lord Lytton the accompanying letter (9/18), which represents the opinion of all WSPU members.

(Undated. Lady Constance has added a pencil note asking for the letter to be copied and returned to her after the debate.)

Extracts from a letter from L. V. (?) Barrett to Lady Betty Balfour

6 De Vesci Terrace, Kingstown, Co. Dublin.—Explains why she urged Lady Constance Lytton to oppose militant action by suffragettes.

(Marked ‘Copy’ and ‘Extracts’. Annotated by the recipient. The initials of the signature are transcribed as ‘L. V.’, but query whether the writer was Rosa Mary Barrett.)

—————

Transcript

COPY
Extracts.

6, De Vesci Terrace | Kingstown Co. Dublin. Jan 13. 1912

(From a Snobby suffragist: the pencil comments are Betty’s)

Dear Lady Betty Balfour,

I had today a long letter from your sister Lady Constance, it was most kind of her to write & I fear I hurt her feelings by asking her to use her influence at this critical moment in the cause of the suffrage, by discountenancing such scenes as at the City Temple or raids on shops in the Strand etc. I know what damage to the cause has been done by these things, & as one who has worked & fought for women’s suffrage for 30 years {1} I feel the greatest discretion & wise counsel is now necessary. I have such an intense admiration for yr sister & her heroism {2} that it pains me to differ from her. Of course I may be wrong but men do feel very differently to women on this action of the Women’s Social & Pol. Union

Yrs v. sincerely
L. V. Barrett {3}

—————

{1} Interlined in pencil: ‘greatest justification of militancy I have said’.

{2} Interlined in pencil: ‘I sd Why for her & not all the militants’.

{3} The closing salutation and name are at the head of the sheet.

Letter from Hugh Cecil to Lady Constance Lytton

23 Bruton Street, W.—In Mrs Pethick-Lawrence’s case the proper course would probably be to move the King’s Bench on the ground of informality in the proceedings rather than to ask a question in Parliament.

Statement by Lady Constance Lytton, following her arrest for breaking windows

Pleads not guilty, and explains her reasons for having broken windows.

—————

Transcript

(I plead not guilty). I broke the glass of windows as the witness has said, because I realise that this is the only effective protest left to us by a Govt which boasts of its Liberalism, of its representative character, where men are concerned, but ignores the most elementary laws of Liberalism, of Constitutionalism, where women are concerned. Votes and riot are the only forms of pressure to which the present Govt respond. They refuse us votes: we are therefore reduced to riot. The wrongs they inflict on women are no longer tolerable, & we will no longer tolerate them.

I expect, Sir, that at this stage of our agitation, you will recognise—and public opinion will back you in recognising—that, tho having committed the acts, as brought forward by witnesses, we are not guilty of crime, our conduct being fully justified under the circumstances.

I appeal to you to vindicate the fundamental laws of liberty which our country has revered for generations.

I plead not guilty.

Constance Lytton.
Nov. 22. 1911.

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

29 Glenburn Park, Belfast.—Refers to her current circumstances and the arrangements for her birthday celebrations. The world needs true feminism more than ever.

—————

Transcript

29 Glenburn Park | Belfast
12 June 1935

Mrs Pethick Lawrence

My very dear friend.

On Saturday 15th instant I am having my own little birthday party {1}. You were with us last year and did much to make us all happy and joyful.

I hear that you are deeply engaged in Edinburgh now, so I do not even venture to ask if you can come. All I want you to understand that in the midst of our festivals, as in the more serious moments in our life as a league we could not forget you. Therefore I let you know.

I heard the other day that you have not been very well. I do hope and trust that you are not overtasking yourself. You should take rest when you feel it is to be necessary.

I cannot expect to be so strong as I once was, but I man[a]ge still to do some work, and to encourage and cheer those who are young.

I am glad [I] came to the North. This is the industrial part of Ireland, and there are many fine industrials here.

Some of these days if we meet I must tell you about them.

In the meantime I send you my love, complet[e] with an earnest desire that you may suc[c]eed in your present venture. Your husband too!

I don’t know what you think about the present situation in Europe and indeed throughout the world. I feel that there was never a time when feminism of the true sort was more needed than it is now.

I am so glad to hear that you are taking the chair on the day of the official birthday party.

We always miss our dear Dr Knight. The other officers, Miss Underwood in particular, are very good.

Women have not yet still {2} wanted. Women† has not reached her true position as she has in Russia—therefore our League has still its uses.

Earnestly wishing that all may go well with you

Yours in true affection
C. Despard

——————

Full stops have been supplied at the end of a few sentences.

{1} Charlotte Despard’s birthday, 15 June, was celebrated each year by the members of the Women’s Freedom League. But the distinction between the party mentioned here, which Pethick-Lawrence was not expected to attend, and the official party mentioned later, which she was to chair, is unclear.

{2} This word is indistinct.

† Sic.

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Roebuck (Dublin).—Discusses her convalescence (from an injury?), and refers to the distress of the poor in Ireland.

—————

Transcript

Roebuck
22 Novr 1928.

My very dear friend.

I delayed answering your delightful letter until I could use my hurt hand. It is not quite itself yet; but I think like the rest of me it will soon be well.

The time has been a difficult one in some ways; but the compensations were many, and in the Hospital I had solitary hours of great happiness. Often and often I have thought of our strenuous days in the women’s movement.

I say sometimes, one of its chief achi[e]vements and joys was the discovery of woman by woman.

I was grieved to hear that you were laid aside during the Fair-time. I do hope the rest has restored you.

We are having terribly hard times here[. ]Two young men “mad with hunger” broke windows last week to get imprisonment. I fear things are not much better in England. Great changes, I be-lieve are impending

I must write no more. Thank you, dear friend a thousand times for your love and thought of me

I hope still to see you and my other dear friends of the League next year

With affectionate and grateful memories to your husband and true love to yourself

Yrs affectionately
C. Despard

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

2 Currie Street, Nine Elms, S.W.—Discusses arrangements for their journey on the Continent, and refers to the Caterers’ Union meeting at Memorial Hall.

—————

Transcript

2 Currie St | Nine Elms | S.W
23 May 1920

Dear Mrs Pethick Lawrence,

Thank you so much for both your letters. I hope the business is now pretty well finished. I went to Cooks on Friday {1}, saw your clerk, paid for my ticket and am to call for it on Friday, when, I hope my passport also will be ready. I have the French visa: for the Swiss there were more formalities. But one of our staff at the W.F.L office has promised to see it through so I hope all will be plain sailing for our start 8 a.m from Victoria on Monday-week. I shall only take hand luggage.

Fortunately, one will not need warm things.

I look forward with great pleasure to our journey together.

I hear you had a great send-off on Friday. The Caterers’ Union packed Memorial Hall, principally girls and women. There will be trouble at Lyons’s this week if the employers do not make substantial concessions.

I have seldom seen such unity and determination.

With love
Affectionately yours
C. Despard

—————

{1} 21st.

{2} 31st.

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline or F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

2 Currie Street, Nine Elms, S.W.—Accepts an invitation to tea.

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Transcript

2 Currie St | Nine Elms | S.W
28th Novr 1913

Dear Mrs {1} Pethick Lawrence

I shall be very glad to take tea with you between 4 & 5 p.m on Thursday 4th Decr.

As regards the dinner I thank you cordially for the invitation; but I am going to ask you to excuse me. A dinner, however pleasant, is always a bit of a trial to me, and just now, life has been so strenuous with us, that I am feeling a little run down.

With kindest regards
Yours sincerely
C. Despard

—————

The address printed at the head (Hillcrest, Mayfield, Sussex) has been struck through.

{1} The title resembles ‘Mr’, but is perhaps more likely to be ‘Mrs’.

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Brackenhill, Highland Road, Bromley, Kent.—Has transferred her platform ticket for Wednesday to Miss Underwood, as she is busy looking after Mrs Harvey.

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Transcript

Brackenhill, Highland Road, Bromley, Kent
14th Octr 1913

Dear Mrs Pethick Lawrence.

I thank you very heartily for the platform-ticket for Wednesday {1} which followed me to Harrogate.

I waited until my return home to see our people. I am sorry to say that I cannot be present. I am giving every moment of spare time to Mrs Harvey, who is still in bed. I have to go to Edinburgh on Friday.

But our Miss Underwood will greatly enjoy being present, so I hand the ticket to her.

With all my heart I wish you success.

It was so good of you to be with us on Tuesday. I greatly enjoyed your speech.

Yours affec[tion]ately
C. Despard

—————

{1} 15th. The meeting referred to has not been identified.

Letter from Charlotte Despard to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

2 Currie Street, Nine Elms.—2 Currie Street, Nine Elms.—Asks to be on the platform of the rally at Hyde Park (concluding the Great Pilgrimage of suffragists), and comments on the action of Miss Davison.

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Transcript

2 Currie St | Nine Elms
7th July 1913

My dear Mrs Pethick Lawce†,

I see that you are holding your meeting in Hyde Park on Sunday {1} at 5. p.m.

I am going to Kingston in the evening, so I can only be with you for a short time; but I should like to be on your platform if you will have me, for a few minutes.

I do feel so keenly the injustice of the Government, and your husband’s courage in fighting it out.

Poor Miss Davison! What a wonderful action! Alas! that women should be sacrificed in this terrible way.

I hope you are keeping well[.] My love to you

Yours affectionately
C. Despard

——————

{1} 26th. The reference is to the rally which concluded the Great Pilgrimage of suffragists.

† Sic.

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