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Letter from Godfrey Nicholson to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

House of Commons.—Comments on an enclosure (a copy of 5/61?), observing, with regard to Father Joseph and Gandhi, that ‘self-annihilation may lead to a frame of mind in which not only one’s own sufferings appear insignificant and unimportant, but also the sufferings of others’.

Copy of a letter from Jawaharlal Nehru to Sir Stafford Cripps

Anand Bharnan, Allahabad.—Acknowledges Cripps's wish see India free, but emphasises the difficulties on both sides and the powerlessness of individuals to control the situation.

(Carbon copy of a typed transcript.)

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Transcript

COPY
VERY CONFIDENTIAL

Anand Bharnan, | Allahabad.
Dec. 3, 1945

My dear Stafford,

Your letter of the 20th Nov. reached me three days ago. I think I have some realisation of your wish to see India free, also of your difficulties. I do not underrate these difficulties. Many things that have been said and done during the past few years have hurt me and a dull pain endures, but at no time did I doubt that you had the cause of India at heart. It is seven years since I was in England and vast changes must have taken place there during these years. I think I have some conception of them also. But I often wonder if our friends in England, and those who are not our friends, have any realisation of what has happened in India, of the changes that have taken place here, and of the passion that lies behind India’s demand for independence. People have grown desperate and it is no easy matter to hold them in check. We have our difficulties also. On both sides, whatever our personal feelings in the matter, we become the agents of powerful forces which we may influence somewhat but cannot control. Individuals count of course but the reality is impersonal, the resultant of a chain of action.

We do not want anything untoward to happen till the elections are over and your Government has had a fair chance to take the next steps. We shall do our utmost to avoid conflict and to restrain the hotheads. But if even then there appears to be delay or what appears to be prevarication, then it is beyond our power or anyone else’s power to control the situation. You must remember that existing conditions in India are a grave and constant irritation and provocation.

Forgive me if I do not paint an easy picture. I do not want to delude you. Having spent a good part of my life in this business, I am tired of conflict and long to do something more worth while. But the fates have so far been against this.

I can have faith in an individual but not in a machine, and it appears that the machine counts in the long run. It is your presence in the British Govt. that gives me some hope. No one else then means much to me so far as India is concerned.

Yours,
(Sgd.) JAMAHARLAL†

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Marked at the head ‘3148’.

† Sic.

Letter from Sir Stafford Cripps to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Suggests that Frank Turnbull should be with them when they meet at Chequers, and that Maurice Gwyer should be Pethick-Lawrence’s legal adviser while he is in India. Intends to ask Short to come with him, instead of Moore, whom he would like to see re-employed in India.

Letter from Viscount Wavell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Is sorry to be leaving India with the work unfinished, but is optimistic about the country’s future. Cabinet meetings are usually amicable, though he should prefer to deal with Liaquat rather than Jinnah.

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Transcript

The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
March 1. 1947.

My dear Pethick-Lawrence

Many thanks for your letter of February 21. I much appreciate what you say.

I am sorry to be leaving India with the work unfinished, but if HMG feel that a younger man and fresher mind can do it better, it was for them to decide.

It is difficult to see how things will go, on the whole I think India will pull through all right. There are a lot of able and sensible men, it is force of character that is so often lacking. Perhaps they will develop it when we go, but they will have to get their young men in the Universities under discipline, as a start.

It is curious how amicably things usually go in the Cabinet. I have formed a very high opinion of Liaquats† common sense and character, I wish I had had to deal with him instead of Jinnah.

I am afraid you have had a very trying winter at home, I hope that you and Lady Pethick-Lawrence have managed to keep well and reasonably warm.

Yours sincerely
Wavell

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† Sic.

Letter from Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

India House.—Pethick-Lawrence’s message has been forwarded to her brother (Nehru). Indians have been heartened to realise that many people in Britain did not support the actions of their Government in the Middle East. She thinks her brother has made it clear that India would not wish to leave the Commonwealth. Invites him to lunch for a quiet talk.

Draft of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to V. K. Krishna Menon

Expresses his opposition to the actions of the British Government in the Middle East. Has advised Nehru that he values the presence of India in the Commonwealth and hopes that Menon will support this view.

(Headed ‘Rough draft of what I have written to Krishna Menon in New York.’)

Script of a talk recorded by Lord Pethick-Lawrence for the BBC on 14 Sept. 1954

(Carbon copy. Date of recording, etc., taken from 5/120a.)

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Transcript

I made the acquaintance of Gandhi long before he was a world figure. In the early years of the century he became interested in the British Suffragette movement and came to lunch with my wife and myself in our London flat. He told us about his non-violent resistance campaign in South Africa. We found that we had much in common, not least in his doctrine that a willingness to endure suffering was a surer way to win political reform than to inflict it upon others.

The bond of friendship thus formed remained unbroken throughout the many vicissitudes of our political relationship. Even when I was most in disagreement with him I never doubted his sincerity and singlemindedness and I am confident that he never doubted mine.

I had many talks at different times with Gandhi—in India in 1926 when his resistance movement was at its height, in London in 1931 when we sat together on the Round Table Conference and during the many months when as Secretary of State I was in India with the British Cabinet Mission discussing daily with him and other leading Indian Statesmen the future governance of their land.

I have sometimes heard it said that Gandhi had an animosity against this country, and that particularly in the later part of his life he tried to do harm to Britain and her Empire. This is quite untrue. Gandhi had no such feelings or designs. Throughout his life he carried with him friendly memories of the time he spent in England as a young man and of the English friends he made then and on other visits.

What distressed Gandhi was imperialism as he saw it expressed in the attitude of the British Government towards India. He believed passionately that this was soul-destroying not only to his own countrymen but to the nobler instincts for freedom inherent in the British people. It was against this that he formulated his battle cry of “Quit India” which he was careful to explain did not mean expulsion from India of men and women of British race but the end of British rule. And it was because the word Dominion smacked to him of Domination that he rejected the offer of Dominion Status.

I never discussed with him the precise form of relationship between India and the British Commonwealth which would be most acceptable to him after India obtained her independent status and in fact he died before the matter came to be decided at a Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. But I have no reason to think that he would have disagreed with the attitude taken up by Pandit Nehru which was accepted there.

I did not find Gandhiji a very easy person with whom to negotiate a political settlement. Where he considered a matter of principle was at stake he was very unwilling to make concessions. Even when in verbal discussion he appeared to have conceded a point I frequently discovered afterwards that his interpretation of our talk was not the same as mine. Some little word or phrase he had used which seemed unimportant at the time, I found later rendered the concession nugatory.

On the other hand Gandhi was often most generous in attributing good motives to those who differed from him. Another of his endearing qualities was his unbounded faith in the possibilities of ordinary men and women. There was no height of nobility or sacrifice which he would hesitate to demand from them. And it was wonderful how often they responded to his faith in them.

But this too had its dangerous side for he did not always seem to me to realise that Governments in the exercise of their responsibilities must sometimes use compulsory powers to restrain wrongdoers from doing harm to others.

Gandhi was known as a Mahatma on account of his ascetic life and his great spiritual faith which he drew from Hindu, Christian, Moslem and other religious sources. He was a great man too in the mundane sense because he won the allegiance of tens of millions of his fellow men and women and was rightly accounted one of the architects of Indian independence. I treasure his memory not only for these qualities but as that of a firm personal friend during the major part of a long life.

Letter from —— to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

The British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcasting House, London, W.1.—Invites him to prepare and deliver, on stated terms, a radio talk on ‘Lloyd George and other Prime Ministers’ for the General Overseas Service.

(A printed form, with details typed in. Signed p.p. the Talks Booking Manager (the name is indistinct, but is probably Ronald Boswell).)

Letter from —— to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

The British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcasting House, London, W.1.—Invites him (retrospectively) to prepare and deliver, on stated terms, a revised insert for the programme on Lloyd George in the series ‘British Prime Ministers since 1900’ (cf. 5/123a).

(A printed form, with details typed in. Signed p.p. the Talks Booking Manager (the name is indistinct, but is probably Ronald Boswell). The recording referred to was made on 11 Feb.)

Letter from —— to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

The British Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcasting House, London, W.1.—Invites him to prepare and deliver, on stated terms, a talk on Liaquat Ali Khan for the series ‘Asian Portrait Sketches’ on the ‘London Calling Asia’ Service.

(A printed form, with details typed in. Signed p.p. the Talks Booking Manager (the name is indistinct, but is probably Ronald Boswell).)

Letter from Dorothy E. Knight to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

The British Broadcasting Corporation, Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, W.12.—Has been advised that he has agreed to give an interview for the BBC television programme ‘First Hand: Suffragettes’, and encloses a contract (5/127b).

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