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Circular letter by Lord Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/159 · Item · 14 Apr. 1946
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

New Delhi.—Gives an account of a morning excursion by plane to Agra.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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Transcript

New Delhi.
April 14th 1946

It is just after midday Sunday and I am back and bathed and changed from a visit to Agra. I got up at 5.30.a.m. and after a walk in the garden left the house at 6.30. We reached the aerodrome at 6.45. and almost immediately took off. At 7.15. they gave us breakfast on the ’plane and at 7.40 we came down a couple of miles outside Agra.

We were met by one or two official people and drove straight to the Taj Mahal. We had already caught a sight of it from the ’plane. But from a height of two or three thousand feet, land objects are somewhat dwarfed. At the outer entrance the Agra archaeologist met us and took charge of us. We walked slowly through the archways and along by the water duct in the middle, stopping every now and again to get a new vista of the Taj itself. As we neared it the delicacy and beautiful colours of the inlaid texts from the Koran stood out in the burning sunlight against the dazzling white of the marble of the main structures. I think all the party that had come with us (and in addition to those who came in the ’plane some had come overnight in the train or by car—about 120 miles) were enchanted. I of course had seen it several times before, but its outstanding beauty is undimmed by repetition.

We walked up to the floor and inside and admired the carved lattice-work marble and the lovely inlays. Then we walked all round it and saw the Jumna river behind very low down in the absence of rain, and noted the play of sunlight on the main building and the four minarets. Then we walked slowly away back, turning every now and again to catch a final glimpse.

After a few minutes rest at the hotel we then drove to the Agra Fort with its many interesting Courts, almost reminiscent of a Cambridge Court, and halls and marble fret-work, its distant view of the Taj from the prison where Shab {1} Jehan is alleged to have been detained during the later years of his life.

And so back to the Agra aerodrome and once again in our Dakota ’plane to Delhi and then to our house soon after 11.30. What a wonderful morning! So much to have seen and done before many people are fully awake and bathed and dressed and breakfasted!

PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

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Mechanical copy of a typed original.

{1} A typing error for ‘Shah’.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/162 · Item · 19-24 Apr. 1946
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Guest House No. 2, Srinagar, Kashmir.—Gives an account of the Cabinet mission’s visit to Kashmir.

Delhi.—Has now (24th) returned to Delhi.

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Transcript

Guest House No 2, {1}
Srinagar, Kashmir

April 19. 46

My dear.

What a strange unreal world I am living in! I came over the mountains this morning. Great snowy peaks at a height of 12000 to 15000 ft with some running up to over 20000. Then down into this sunny plain—the vale of Kashmir—some 5000 above sea level. We were met by the Prime Minister & the Resident {2} & brought away here. All the streets were lined with people to see us pass. Neither welcome nor hostility from the crowds—just curiosity. This place has an English climate. The almond blossom just over, the hawthorn (not really hawthorn but a kind of spirea) & the fruit blossom in flower. It is very lovely. Maud Coote (Foulds) is coming to see me on Sunday {3}. I am warned tht she is very odd. I am not surprised. I will tell you about wht I make of her after she has come & gone.

I had another interview with Gandhi last evening. He is very friendly personally—so are they all which is a most important & valuable thing. But what help or hindrance we shall get from any of them when we really bend ourselves to trying to solve the riddle of the Sphinx remains to be seen.

Sunday morning. Yesterday we drove 60 miles up the valley & up a mountain stream to a little island on to which we crossed on foot. We walked up to a little shrine & from there only 200 or 300 further up was snow in a ravine. The sun was very hot & I did not go on. I thought at 7000 ft up it was probably wiser not to do too much. We picnicked out with food brought from here & later I walked round the island & after the others had had tea we drove home. Cripps did not come with us as he went fishing with Turnbull & Fraser. They caught a large number of very large trout which they have since distributed among various houses round here.

It started raining yesterday evening & is raining fast now. But it was fine for me to have a morning walk before breakfast. I climbed half way up to a monastery on the top of a hill just opposite this guest-house. Presently I am going to church & am to read the lesson—from “Revelation”. I have conned it though so as not to stumble. I belive† the Maharajah is coming to lunch with us. His own house is being repaired & he lives in a small villa. Later Maud Coote is coming to see me, & later if the rain leaves off, which seems unlikely, we are to go on the lake. There are hundreds of houseboats on the river & lake in which many people (retired Europeans & Indians) live all the year round.

On the day of our arrival (Friday) we had a short drive to two fascinating public gardens. The feature of each of them was a stream running down in cascades all the way. One of them had 12 terraces & a cascade above each.

Later. It rained all the morning, I drove to Church. The Canon preached a sermon all about the resurrection of the Spring & the coming of the flowers. The Church Yard instead of being a cemetery is a very beatiful† flower garden—pansies, tulips, cowslips, primroses, nermophilas, aubrecchia, & hundreds of others & a lovely little Japanese Maple & a Judas tree.

The Maharaja {4} came to lunch. He & Sir Stafford Cripps talked fishing for about 1½ hours. I am going to see him tomorrow morning to talk politics. He has planned out a trip on the river for tomorrow afternoon & a journey up a valley for Tuesday to see wild bears.

Maud Coote came at 2.15. She struck me as very sane & most interesting. She gave me a book of her poems some of which I have read since she has gone & I liked v. much. She herself is of course much older & plumper though she eats very little. She sent her love to you & said she would pray Ramakrishna for the Cabinet Mission.

After tht I went for a walk along the bank of the river & seen† the many houseboats & the back of the shops including Maud’s “Kig Products”.

Tuesday evening. Monday we had a lovely paddle on the lake. 5 men paddled in each boat of which there were three. (I had of course to be a passenger). Later I drove with the Maharajah about 20 miles up a valley & saw a wild boar but no bears. We visited his trout hatchery & saw some enormous trout 10 & 12 & 14 lbs. We had lunch & tea there. I have also played billiards & snooker with Alexander & gave him a considerable handicap & beat him in all but one game. We start for Delhi tomorrow at 7 AM weather permitting. I shall post this from there. I am very well. I love you very much.

Just your own
Boy

This is a very inadequate description of a very lovely place & a charming holiday.

[Added at the head of the letter:]

April 24 Back in Delhi

3 letters from E K & 2 from you dated April 14 & 16. I look forward to reading them but do not want to delay sending this off.

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There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} This line of the address is handwritten.

{2} Ram Chandra Kak and W. F. Webb.

{3} 21 April, Easter Day.

{4} Sir Hari Singh.

† Sic.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/164 · Item · 28-29 Apr. 1946
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Is busy but well. The future progress of the mission is uncertain, as is the date of their return, but they expect to leave for Simla on Wednesday. Has written a letter of condolence to Lady Keynes (see 2/259).

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/173 · Item · 23 May 1946
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Will think of her on the 26th. Was delighted to hear of her activities (see 8/69). He expects to have to wait a fortnight while Jinnah consults his people. Describes his daily routine.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
May 23. 46.

My own very Beloved.

This letter will arrive long after May 26 1946 has come & gone but I shall be thinking of my darling & wafting her messages of love. I was so delighted to hear of your lovely day with Chris on May 12 & with Dorothy on May 13. I am glad tht you had a gooseberry tart & I am nt at all jealous because we have our mangoes our bananas & our lichees. I hope I shall be back before the last of the asparagus is finished but even if it is what will it matter if I am with my darling again.

It looks at the moment as if I should have to sit here for the next fortnight waiting for Jinnah to consult his folk {2} (see a cartoon I have sent to Esther). It is a bit outrageous but these people can’t be hurried & if only it works out all right in the end what is a mere fortnight in the life of a nation?

We have been blessed with comparatively cool weather; & a morning walk between 7 & 7.30 & again a breakfast on fruit out of doors are a very pleasant way of beginning the day. Then again a swim in the pool between 6.30 & 7 PM & a walk home afterwards form a nice conclusion.

I could go out to dinner & functions nearly every day but xcept for Auckinleck’s & a tête-a-tête will the Viceroy I have thought it better to decline them all. Often I have work to do in the evening. Blessed one my heart is yours & I love you ever so much. I am very well.

Just your very very own
Laddie Boy

You will I think like to see the enclosed dear letters from the girls. Put them away in the envelope in which you are keeping mine.

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There are a number of characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} i.e. his Working Committee and the Council of the All-India Muslim League.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/175 · Item · 28 May 1946
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Is looking forward to going home. Cripps is recovering gradually, and Isobel is coming out to take him home by ship. Refers to the delay in negotiations. He took some colleagues for a drive on Sunday.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
May 28. 46.

My beloved.

I have had 2 letters from you today {1} & 3 from Esther & as I have had a fair amount of leisure I have been able thoroughly to enjoy them. I am so glad tht you feel just as I do about my coming home. The job comes first, second, third & all the time. But when it is done—so far as it can be done—all my mind & heart will be in coming home & seeing you again.

I am sorry to be missing an English spring, but I am delighted to know tht you are enjoying it to the full. After all I enjoy all the seasons in their turn & perhaps I shall be back before all the wild roses in the path are over & I did see some in Simla. All the flowers are gone here, but the trees are still in blossom, & the Bougainvillea seems to last on indefinitely.

Cripps is back with us—better but with a long way to go yet. Isobel is coming out to take him home on shipboard. We have booked passage for them on June 16 from Bombay and hope tht will see the job done.

These people here keep on keeping us waiting in turn & then are inclined to grumble at us for the delay. I suppose we must remember tht we have been keeping them waiting in a sense for the last 50 years! I think on the whole we make progress though sometimes there is a great slip backwards which seems to retrace the forward steps of many days. Through it all I do not forget tht we can only do our best with the parts tht are given to us, it is the Great Dramatist who decided whether the play is to have a happy ending.

I took Turnbull & 2 others out for a short drive on Sunday afternoon starting at 4.30. We got out 3 times to see sights & though it was terribly hot it made a pleasant break in the daily routine specially for Turnbull who works incessantly.

I have a sort of idea it is May’s birthday some time about now. If so give her my special love.

Darling I am,
Your very own
Boy.

Give my love to Madeleine & congratulate her from me on her success. Dont let her overdo you.

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The abbreviation ‘tht’ for ‘that’ occurs a few times.

{1} PETH 8/70 and 8/71?

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/178 · Item · 4 June 1946
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—The crisis of the mission is expected in about six days. Discusses possible dates for their return, with reference to Lady Pethick-Lawrence’s holiday. Denies the rumour that he intends to retire.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 4 46

My dear.

I wrote you a long letter yesterday mainly about philosophy so here is another less high-fallutin!

Our climacteric (crisis) is expected in about 6 days. We may get full agreement. We may get rejection by both parties. We may get any one of various gradations between the two.

In either of the first two cases the Cabinet Mission propose to start for home almost at once probably on or about Saty June 15—arriving say on Tuesday June 18. In the event of indecisiveness we may be several days later but hope to get off not later than June 19 arriving 22nd. But this hope may be disappointed, & if so we have just go to do what is necessary.

If I can get home 18th or at latest 22nd, tht should fit in with your trip to I o W for I expect I shall have to be in London on 24th & have a great deal to do tht week (even if I am able to take a few days holiday later).

If I arrive on June 24 no doubt you will be postponing going to I o W for a day or two. If I am not due for several days after June 24 you had better go to I o W on 24th. Of course I could come to I o W to join you. But if you decide to meet me (which if you yourself wish it would be a joy to me) you could come up for 2 days from I o W & go back. Finally if my arrival is not until July you could carry on until then in I o W.

I expect to arrive by sea-plane at Poole harbour (beyond Bournemouth).
It is still all speculation about our chances of success.

They have been printing stories here of my intention to retire {1}, but I have said nothing whatever to justify this; I think it originates with “The News of the World” London.

We are still to be able to use the swimming bath. This is a reprieve as it is one of our few recreations, & the temperature yesterday was 109.

I keep very well & send you my dear love. I think you wanted all the enclosures back. I have written to Moira Gibson (McDermott) {2} re birth of daughter.

All my love
Boy.

Stafford Cripps thanks you for your good wishes & reciprocates them.

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The abbreviation ‘tht’ for ‘that’ occurs twice.

{1} Underlined three times.

{2} Spelling uncertain.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/181 · Item · 11 June 1946
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Decisions are expected soon. Hopes she has enjoyed Madeleine Doty’s visit.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 11. 46.

Oh My dear.

We struggle on. We are at the last main fence but whether we get over it or fall at it I cant say. It is touch & go. Other difficulties are not all swept away but if we surmount this one they ought not to defeat us.

I expect decisions fairly soon. It is even possible though unlikely tht I might still start home on 15th. It is more likely tht I may be able to get off round about 18th. But as you & I have agreed the work comes first.

I had my ears syringed yesterday. It did me a lot of good in many ways. Incidentally I can hear much better. I was beginning to wonder whether I was becoming a little deaf.

If Madeleine is still with you when you get this give her my love & every good wish for her wonderful enterprise {1}. I hope you have enjoyed her visit & her vivid personality & tht you are not tired.

If I have to stay much longer the monsoon will burst before I leave.

I love you so very much & I do so long to be with you.

Your own loving
Boy.

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The abbreviation ‘tht’ for ‘that’ occurs three times.

{1} Madeleine Doty instituted this year a Geneva Junior Year Abroad programme at Smith College, a private college for women in Massachusetts.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/182 · Item · 12-13 June 1946
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—The situation is critical. Discusses the attitudes of the various parties. Is dining with a Dutch collector of Indian folk-songs (Arnold Bake).

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 12 (evening). 1946.

Oh my darling.

I will write you just as I would talk to you if you were sitting close by me in the room. The situation is very critical. And this afternoon it looked for a while as if a decision would almost certainly be reached in some 36 hours & could scarcely be other than a rejection. For a moment I had a sensation of relief. As one who has kept for a long while a weary vigil at the bedside of a beloved sick relative & there are signs that the end is approaching. And then came the reaction as I thought of the terrible time ahead if the calamity in fact materialised. And so I stifled back my desire for personal escape & thanked God tht while there was life there was still hope. And it may be - - - but can it - - & will it - -? Can we in very truth claw back victory out of the mouths of the hounds of defeat? It may mean abandoning my hope of getting back before the end of June. It may mean failing in the end after it all. But as in the poem John X Merriman gave us.

“Great is the facile conqueror
But he who unhorsed
And covered oer with blood & sweat
Fights on - - is greater yet” {1}

[I think there are some words missing.] {2}

Everyone takes the situation differently. Alexander is frankly angry but will I think play the game by his colleagues even at great personal inconvenience. Cripps refuses to be discouraged. He has postponed his passage home. The Viceroy is the soldier fighting gallantly a rearguard action. Gandhi in his own peculiar way is at the moment fighting three quarters on our side. Several others desperately want a peaceful settlement, and with them are many of the general public. But there are many reckless men & women who eagerly hope for a break down & a return to revolutionary activities. And there are many who blame every one but themselves & reserve their choicest epithets of abuse for the Mission.

My only really cool hours are when I am in the Viceroys specially air-cooled study & when I am in the swimming pool or my private bath. I get a short walk at 7 AM & another at 7 PM & occasionally I play billiards. Otherwise I just work & negotiate & discuss & read the papers & days a week. But I pray tht I do so to the glory of God.

I have had many dear letters from you but I do not think there has been anything especial tht required an answer. It is an intense satisfaction to me tht you keep well.

Jan 13 {2} Miss Shepherd has gone south to the marriage of her sister. Before she left she told me of a Dutch man & his wife who have spent years collecting Indian folk songs {4}. They are coming to see me after dinner to night. We had quite a heavy shower of rain last night but the real monsoon is not expected for another ten days or so.

My dear love to you, blessed & beloved

Your own Boy

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The abbreviation ‘tht’ for ‘that’ occurs a few times.

{1} The reference is to the last stanza of William Watson’s poem ‘In Laleham Churchyard (August 18, 1890)’, which runs as follows:

‘Great is the facile conqueror;
Yet haply he, who wounded sore,
Breathless, unhorsed, all covered o’er
With blood and sweat,
Sinks foiled, but fighting evermore,—
Is greater yet.’

{2} The square brackets are original.

{3} The date is in the margin.

{4} Arnold and Corrie Bake.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/186 · Item · 19 June 1946
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Is unlikely to return to England before she goes to the Isle of Wight. Gandhi is being awkward, but the Congress High Command is resisting his suggestion that the interim scheme should be rejected.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 19. 46.

My dear One.

I am afraid it is quite clear by now tht I shall not be home before you go to I W. I may be able to get off by the middle of next week or it may be the end of the month.

At the moment Gandhi is being very awkward. He suffers from high blood pressure & when he gets an idea he cant let go of it even if it goes contrary to wht he has been urging up to the day before. He prefers theoretical perfection as he sees it & is not really interested in the practical considerations of Governt which involve mutual accommodation. At the moment, almost for the first time in its history the Congress High Command {1} having been converted by him to sup-port our interim scheme are refusing to “right about face” at his suggestion & wreck it. Whether they will stand firm on this remains to be seen. But Nehru has chosen this moment to go to Kashmir about some internal trouble & may get himself into trouble there. In any case he is likely to be away for 2 or 3 days. It is Alice’s croquet party all over again. But we still remain hopeful.

The weather here is both hot & humid. The monsoon is expected soon. It looks like rain to-day.

I do so hope tht you will enjoy I W & that your holiday will not be spoilt by my non-arrival. You may be sure I will come as soon as even I can. Give my dear love to Tom. And for yourself old darling arms round tight.

Your very own
Boy.

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This letter includes the abbreviated forms ‘tht’ for ‘that’ and ‘wht’ for ‘what’.

{1} ‘The term “High Command” refers to the members of the Working Committee, the Con-gress president, and the general secretaries of the Congress appointed by the president.’ Marcus F. Franda, ‘The Organizational Development of India’s Congress Party’, Pacific Affairs, xxxv (1962). 249 n.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/188 · Item · 21 June 1946
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Is sorry she has cancelled her visit to the Isle of Wight. The political situation and the date of his return are still uncertain. He spoke to Field Marshall Montgomery while he was at Delhi.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 21. 46

My own dear Heart.

I am distressed to receive a letter from EK today dated June 17 telling me tht you have can-celled your trip to I W, & to realise from yours of 16th tht you are doing so because you are expecting me home in a day or two from now. The fact is tht with these unaccountable people I cant tell in the very least when I shall be leaving for home. It may be at the end of next week, it may be well into July. I nearly sent you a telegram to-day urging you not to cancel but I realised you had taken your decision—no doubt so as not to have the uncertainty hanging over you—& any advice now would only disconcert you. So my darling I accept your decision, I wish I was able to take better advantage of it, but I know you would not wish me to hurry an hour if it involves any danger of making a favourable result less likely.

And indeed I am not very sanguine. But the political barometer here goes so up & down tht I really don’t know from day to day wht the final result will be.

As I have not very much to do while I am waiting for the parties, who are once more like the implements in Alice’s croquet party constantly getting up & going away, I have borrowed a copy of Ludwig’s Life of Bethoven† & have started reading it. It takes one into an entirely different world, & relieves the mind. But the weather is so hot & humid tht I constantly drop off to sleep while reading it.

You have probably seen that Field Marshall Montgomery has been here. I had a long private talk with him the other day. I have of course also met Auchinleck. There was a picture in our paper to day of the 3 Field Marshalls (M, A & Wavell) walking together in the Viceregal grounds.

Cripps took lunch today with us in th sitting room for the first time since his illness.

I am very well. I am delighted to know tht you are. My dear blessed & beloved. In deep longing to see you

Your own
Boy.

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This letter includes the abbreviated forms ‘tht’ for ‘that’, ‘th’ for ‘the’, and ‘wht’ for ‘what’.

Letter from Laurence Housman to Lord Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/249 · Item · 27 Nov. 1958
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Longmeadow, Street, Somerset.—Discusses his feelings towards Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst, and declines to contribute to the cost of a statue of the latter.

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Transcript

Longmeadow, Street, Somerset
Nov 27th 1958

Dear Pethick Lawrence

(If I may drop formality in memory of old days) I was very glad to hear from you: but I am 94 and am a rather worn-out old man. You may be surprised to hear that Miss Pankhurst has never appealed to me: her companion (Annie Kenny†.) did. She and I did not like each other. There was a silly Suffragette fable, that I was in love with her: and that she had made our marriage conditional on their getting the vote. Mrs Pankhurst I liked & respected; but I did not approve of the section which indulged in violence and destruction. Also I disliked that final triumphal procession along Picadilly† to curry favour with the Government when War broke out. Also she tied some Australian Prime Minister to her tail. The tragic moment to my mind was when she had got as far as a public meeting in London, when the Police were after her. She had managed to get there, and was just about to speak, when the Police broke in. “Women! They are taking me!” she cried. The women all jumped to their feet, but not (as she had hoped) to become violent. “You brutes!” was all they cried. Whereas she had wanted a real battle! And if a few women and police got killed,—all the better for the cause.

So that’s that! And you can leave me out of your subscribers for any additions to Mrs Pankhurst’s Statue in Westminster[.]

I wonder whether you know that I have become a member of “the Society of Friends” and as “a Quaker” am now a staunch Pacifist! Thus you & I have become far separated in our ideas; but not in our old friendship, I hope.

Ever yours very sincerely
Laurence Housman

PS. I’m afraid I have mislaid your present address, with the letter I received from you. LH

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† Sic.

Letter from Lord Darling to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence
PETH/6/268 · Item · 22 June 1925
Parte de Pethick-Lawrence Papers

House of Lords.—‘I will lay before the Committee the letter of your Correspondent.’ Refers with admiration to Mrs Lawrence’s address to the jury in the case heard before him some years ago.

(Cf. Fate Has Been Kind, p. 102, note.)