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PETH/6/118 · Item · 19 June 1912
Part of Pethick-Lawrence Papers

Brixton Prison.—Encourages her with reflections on the ability of the human spirit to transcend material circumstances. Refers to his study of French and Italian, and his other reading, and describes a method of counting on the fingers.



Brixton Prison
19th June 1912


How delightful it is to think that this actual paper will be carried to you & that I shall get a reply written by yourself! I have sent you in my thoughts many messages of love which I feel confident have reached you, just as yours have reached me bringing their rich benison with them; But the actual written word gives tangible shape & contact & certainty.

I have not been in any way anxious about you, & equally you have I am sure not been anxious about me. You know that the one thing, which alone always seems worth while to me, is that the human spirit should transcend the whole of the material world; & therefore you do not need to be told that not in the very smallest degree have I been dismayed or discouraged by my environment. Dearest, here in the stillness—that is, to me, essentially the stillness of earth life—I am conscious only of the great spiritual tie which binds us together & binds us to the great Power which guides us. These are days when one drinks of the deep wells of life & because the draft is pure & crystal it refreshes & invigorates far beyond any draft of ordinary daily life. Or again it is as though the noisy overtones which make the chords & discords of the work-a-day world were hushed, & the fundamental notes were heard alone in all their simple grandeur. Or again it seems to me as though of the beauty, which is in the outer world & which our senses detect, the spirit itself had become perceptible to our souls direct.

One of my great joys is to watch the sunlight in the evening on the walls of my cell; some-times the nights are dull & then I miss it, but more often the last hours are bright. It sinks below a house close by about a quarter past seven and is then shut off from sight; each evening the last rays go a little further on the wall than the evening before, but we are coming soon (next Friday) to the longest day & after that it will begin to go back again.

Now you will want to know all I have been reading; First let me say it is surprising how little time I seem to have though I scarcely miss a minute of the day. Nevertheless I have read a larger number of books since I came in. I haven’t made so very much progress in Italian so I daresay you will nearly have caught up to where I am reckoning in what I did before. In the Berlitz Book, which I think you have got also, I have got to page 50. For the last few days I have laid it aside for a study of French which has caught my fancy, but I shall come back to it again in a little while & then I shall probably go on until I finish the book. I have been fascinated with Trevelyans† story of the siege of Rome {1}. It is really the volume preceding the one on Garabaldi’s† Thousand, & it is in my judgment a good deal the finer of the two. Have you read it? I cannot remember. Then I have read over again the story of the Thousand & hope shortly to read the third volume which I understand is now out. I have also got Crispi’s account of the same events {2} but have not read it yet. I have also read a book on radium, & one on Faraday which have inter-ested me very much. During the last week I have been wrestling with Green’s history of England {3} & with a very ponderous life of Henry Newman {4} which though good is very heavy to di-gest. A great soul was Newman, but somehow I can’t help feeling that he lost his way; perhaps a wider understanding might make one see it differently. In addition to other things I have also read a good deal of lighter literature including Pecheur d Island† {5} which I think delightful & two books by Mark Twain—Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn—which Annie gave me. You should get May to send them to you[;] they are full of delicious humour.

May has been very good to me, so thoughtful & kind, sending me everything I could possibly want.

I think you will be amused to know that once when I was taking exercise by walking up & down my cell, I started counting my walks on my fingers & arrived at the following:—it is of course said that on the fingers of the two hands one can count from one up to ten, but that is only by reckoning each finger of each hand to count one only; if the fingers of the left hand are allowed to have a different value from the fingers of the right, one can count all the way from one up to 35 (that is six times six less one), & if the thumbs of each hand are also allowed to count differently from the fingers, then one can count all the way from 1 up to 99. One may even go further but if I do so you will say I am becoming like I was on the top of the omnibus on that famous occasion! Anyhow I don’t think you will mind this little digression. Perhaps you will be able to work it out yourself!

Dearest how close we have been together all this month for all the physical barriers that have been between us. I have treasured your beautiful words about Whit Sunday in my heart & they have been a great joy to me. I have thought very much about you and shall be thinking of you so in the next few days, but they will not be thoughts of anxiety but of confidence & assurance. You well know that my spirit is behind yours sustaining you in all that you do, & I know & have the certainty that your spirit is behind mine; & so together we are very strong.

Dearest the sun is shining brilliantly, it is a gorgeous & magnificent day! I am full of radiant life.

My very great love to you

Your husband.

P.S Your dear delightful letter has just come; you seem to have been able to write a day earlier than me. I have read it through with such pleasure & shall read it and reread it many times; but I am so anxious to get this off without any delay so that you may have it soon. Blessings on you for all your dear words. Ever thine


One folded sheet. At the head is printed, ‘In replying to this letter, please write on the envelope:— Number 7294 Name Lawrence F W. P.’, the name and number being filled in by hand. The word ‘Prison’ of the address and the first two digits of the year are also printed, and the letter is marked with the reference ‘C1/12’ and some initials. Strokes of letters omitted either deliberately or in haste have been supplied silently.

{1} Garibaldi’s Defence of the Roman Republic, by George Macaulay Trevelyan (1907), the first book of a trilogy which also comprised Garibaldi and the Thousand (1909), and Garibaldi and the Making of Italy (1911).

{2} Probably The Memoirs of Francesco Crispi (2 vols., 1912).

{3} A Short History of the English People, by J. R. Green, first published in 1874, or perhaps his expanded History of the English People (4 vols., 1878–80).

{4} The Life of John Henry, Cardinal Newman, by Wilfrid Ward (2 vols., 1912).

{5} Pêcheur d’Islande (An Iceland Fisherman), by Pierre Loti (1886).

FRAZ/2/13 · Item · 24 July 1927
Part of Papers of Sir James Frazer

The Master's House, The Temple - Thanks him for 'The Gorgon's Head', which he admires, particularly for the tribute to the Bible written with the 'restraint of reverence'; asks if he will be in Cambridge in August; has been re-reading Newman with pleasure; his wife is in Oxford; her father has been made canon of Durham after many years in Oxford.

Add. MS b/35/138 · Item · c 1947-c 1955
Part of Additional Manuscripts b

Trinity Lodge, Cambridge Dated February 13th, 1915 - Thanks him for the books ['Essays of Joseph Addison'?] and admires them, 'even [John Henry] Newman and Dean Church rarely surpass him', quotes Aldis Wright as saying that for narrative purposes he thought Froude the best stylist, knows Frazer thinks Macaulay is a great narrator; Whewell's Court has 400 Privates, and for their final Parade the Colonel of the Welshmen put Butler's grandson David Morley Fletcher on his horse from Great Gate to the Lodge, is pleased no vote of censure was proposed for this action by the Council.

Add. MS a/77/148 · Item · 20 Dec. [1847]
Part of Additional Manuscripts a

Herstmonceux - WW's letter was a great help and encouragement to JCH: 'When I was called upon by divers of my clergy to draw up some kind of remonstrance agst Hampden's appointment [Renn D. Hampden], as I never read a word of his writings, I of course replied that, before I took any step, I must read them, especially the Bampton Lectures [The Scholastic Philosophy Considered in its Relation to Christian Theology, 1833] carefully: whereat they marveled, esteeming it, I suppose, a rationalistic work of supererogation, & a heresy almost as dangerous as any of Hampden's. However I was obstinate, & thus was led to read the B.L. & was quite annoyed to find the utter groundlessness of the charges brought agst him, & how they had all arisen mainly from an incapacity to enter into his philosophical habits of thought, & his love for etymological speculations, from the notion that, when he was merely explaining the word, he was denying the thing'. Nevertheless JCH was concerned that such a misunderstanding should have been so general. Even more odd is the fact John H. Newman, a man grounded in logic and metaphysics, should have been the one who first started the accusations. Hence JCH 'set to work at a Pamphlet the moment I got back from London; & it was a great comfort a morning or two afterwards to get your letter, & thereby to gain an assurance I was right'. JCH hopes to send WW his pamphlet on Thursday [A Letter to the Dean of Chichester, on the Agitation Excited by the Appointment of Dr. Hampden to the See of Hereford, 1848]. He is dismayed at the 'faculty of lying' which 'is cultivated by this new Oxford religionism. They really seem to have an incapacity of speaking the truth. In this respect our dear University has an immense advantage over them'.
Lacks a close, which is possibly Add.MS.a.77/161.

TRER/12/187 · Item · 12 Dec 1911
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

Welcombe, Stratford on Avon. - Glad to hear that Robert has landed safely; 'awful to read' of the passengers on the cross-Channel boats kept at sea all night by bad weather; asks 'is even Assisi worth such a price?'. Would love to see Arezzo again and wants to know what the hotel was like; it used to be spoken of as the 'best hotel between Florence and Rome', before Brufani [at Perugia], and he thinks his parents and sister were 'the first names in the hotel book'. Notes what Robert says about [Samuel Butler's] "Fair Haven" and will see to it. Cannot 'manage Conrad as a novelist', nor Chesterton as an essayist. has been reading about the Phalaris controversy with great 'interest and amusement'; George gave him a copy of Attenbury's 1698 book a while ago, and he got Bentley's "Phalaris" as a prize at Harrow; they bear out everything that [Thomas] Macaulay says. Good to be 'in company with so strong and able a man as Bentley', whatever the topic; he is an even greater controversialist than Newman, Porson, Gibbon or Pascal.

Add. MS c/95/74 · Item · 19 Dec. 1874
Part of Additional Manuscripts c

Thanks Sidgwick for sending him his Methods of Ethics. Remarks that it is always with interest that he reads books by those he had known in their younger days at Rugby. Admits that he sometimes finds himself baffled by works by former pupils, as was the case with the two large works on philosophy produced by S. [Hodgkins]. Claims that what he has read of Sidgwick's work seems to be quite within his comprehension, and that the subjects on which he writes are those which he [Shairp] has studied before his Oxford days. Remarks on Sidgwick's treatment of 'the Border law between morals and religion.' States that he agrees with Hutton in his essay "on 'the [ ] Significance of Atheism'...[and] with all that section in the 5th Chap of Newman's Grammar of Assent entitled 'Belief in one God'." Refers how in the latter book, he disagrees with how 'the nexus between conscience and religion' is drawn out, but that he believes that Newman 'had nothing better in English since BP Butler wrote.' States his intention to read the whole of Sidgwick's book carefully whenever he can get time away from his college duties.

Shairp, John Campbell (1819-1885) poet and literary critic
Add. MS c/93/79 · Item · 20 May 1879
Part of Additional Manuscripts c

Thanks Sidgwick for lending him the 'Abstracts'. Allusion to Dante's Commedia. Expresses inability to understand 'how a reasonable man believes in Relics', and refers to Cardinal John Henry Newman, who' has the art of [ ] absurdities without being absurd.

Add. MS c/95/9 · Item · 28 Apr. 1868
Part of Additional Manuscripts c

Reports that he found [F.D.?] Maurice 'much better' on his arrival, but that three little girls are in bed with measles. Declares that it is a comfort after his 'pleasant week' at Cambridge not to have to prove the truth of the following lines from a poem by Newman: "'When mirth is full and free Some sudden gloom must be.'" Claims that he hardly ever returns home 'without anticipating calamity.' Declares that he bought Dr. Newman's Poems in London, and tells Sidgwick that he will be pleased with them. Observes that '[t]here is something very tender and courageous in his publishing now some lines he addressed to Frank Newman on the day the latter came of age, when J. Henry Newman was [first] ordained, and the two brothers were full of Evangelical fervour.' Refers to 'The Dream of Gerontius' as 'a striking poem', and discusses his own view of Purgatory, which is like neither Newman's nor Dante's. Refers to an enclosed letter [not included], relating to the general meeting of the Free Christian Union. Asks Sidgwick to let him know if he intends to join, when he returns E. Enfield's letter. Declares that they 'are all very sorry for Theodore, and induced to think Napier was hard on him.'