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Cripps, Sir Richard Stafford (1889–1952), knight, politician and lawyer Image With digital objects
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Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Aldous Huxley

Praises his book Grey Eminence, and discusses the involvement of mystics in politics. Refers to Gandhi’s inflexibility on certain subjects, and suggests that his policy may result in calamities comparable to those created by Father Joseph.

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Transcript

29th. November, 1943.

Dear Huxley,

A colleague M.P. {1} who had read my autobiography insisted that I should read your book “Grey Eminence” {2}, and I have now done so with absorbing interest. The double riddle that you set yourself to solve, first as to why a mystic should engage in politics at all and secondly, why if he did so he should play such an abominable part, is in itself a most fascinating one; and your solution appears to me as nearly satisfactory as any appreciation of somebody else’s pyschology† can possibly be.

I agree broadly with you that it is not the function of a mystic to engage in “activities” at all and that he is wise to refrain from so doing until he has reached a degree of spiritual discernment which enables him to discriminate between good and bad action. I think you are also right in pointing the danger of that school of Christian mystics who transfer their attempt at union with the Central Life to union with Christ (though no doubt some of them believe that this is the same thing). It seems to me moreover that if Father Joseph had concentrated his mind on Christ the Lover of men who suffered little children to come to Him and told us that we must enter the Kingdom as little children, he might not have been so regardless of human suffering as he became in contemplating the sufferings of Christ on the Cross.

Of course it is in general true that a man of some eminence in his own sphere should hesitate before entering a sphere other than his own. I have noticed the unfortunate result of neglecting this in many cases and I have noted also that the most eminent are usually too wise to fall into this mistake.

But for those whose sphere is religion and who have attained to {3} some measure to union with the Central Life the danger is much greater, both for themselves and also for the public who are wont to assume that their saintly life has given them a discernment in worldly af[f]airs which they do not necessarily possess. I was reading in The New Statesman a few weeks ago a remark which it is said was used by Oliver Cromwell to a number of Northern Ireland Divines “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ to think that ye may be mistaken”. The religieus† i4} is apt to assume that he is never mistaken and the words that fall from his lips belong to the category “Thus saith Zoroaster”.

I expect your mind has turned, as mine has done, from the mystic politician of the 17th century about whom you write to the Mahatma politician of our own day. I wonder whether it has occurred to you to write a companion volume dealing with his “activities”? If not, perhaps some future writer a century or two hence will write up the story and sum up the result in somewhat the same way that you have done with regard to Father Joseph.

I do not of course attribute to Gandhi the political malpractices performed by Father Joseph which seem so disreputable to us and even to his contemporaries. I have known Gandhi personally for a great many years and have been a great admirer of him; and I know his meticulous care to be fair and just. Nevertheless the result of his policy may bring upon India and indeed upon the whole world calamities comparable to those which Father Joseph created. I will give you three examples:—

1) Gandhi feels deeply the spiritual wrongs inflicted by Hindu castes on the untouchables and has his own approach to this question. But the untouchables must be saved his way and this makes him very intolerant of Ambedkar the leader of the untouchables. I saw this myself on the Round Table Conference and its sequel.

2) Gandhi preaches the spiritual view of continence. Therefore he will have nothing to do with birth control. But Gandhi’s spiritual doctrine is quite above the heads of the vast mass of his fellow countrymen. Therefore we have the appalling picture of an India already over populated, having some 50 million extra souls to its population in the course of the last ten years.

3) Gandhi has a spiritual conception of the independence of India. This makes him intolerant of any compromise and I think there is no doubt that it was his influence which caused the Cripss† olive branch to be rejected in the summer of 1942. This has resulted in the further drawing apart of the Hindus & British, of the Moslems & British, and the Hindus & Moslems; and though one can never predict the final closing of the gates of mercy, it may prevent a peaceful solution of the Indian problem for many years to come. I think that Gandhi himself has envisaged the breaking out of civil war.

In conclusion may I say once more what a great service I think you have rendered in writing such an amazingly interesting and penetrating book.

I remain,

Yours sincerely,
[blank]

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{1} Godfrey Nicholson. See 5/62.

{2} A study of François Leclerc du Tremblay (1577–1638), a French Capuchin monk more commonly known as ‘Père Joseph’ or ‘l’éminence grise’ (the grey eminence). He was the confidant and agent of Cardinal Richelieu, ‘l’éminence rouge’.

{3} Altered from ‘in’. ‘to’, the next word but two, should have been altered to ‘of’.

{4} Typed ‘religieuse’ and altered by hand to ‘religieus’.

† Sic.

Copy of a letter from Jawaharlal Nehru to Sir Stafford Cripps

Anand Bharnan, Allahabad.—He accepts that Cripps wants to 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.

Copy of a letter from M. K. Gandhi to Sir Stafford Cripps

Camp: Gauhati (‘as from’ Sevagram, Via Wardha).—Acknowledges the receipt of his letter, and expresses the hope that ‘this time there is determination to do the right thing in terms of Indian thought’.

(Typed transcript.)

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Transcript

As from Sevagram, | Via Wardha (India)

Camp: Gauhati,
12th January, 1946.

Dear Friend,

I was delighted to receive your letter of 19th December ’45. As I am touring Bengal and Assam, your kind greetings were received only yesterday. The Rajkumari {1} had described her talks with you and told me how affectionate you were towards me. I am hoping that this time there is determination to do the right thing in terms of Indian thought. I well remember what King Edward had said about right dealing. I was then in South Africa. The question was of interpreting the treaty between the British and the Boers, and the King had gently insisted on the Boer interpretation being accepted in preference to the British. How I wish that the admirable canon be repeated this time.

I hope with you that this New Year will bring to the thirsting earth the much needed shower of peace and goodwill for which the “Prince of Peace” lived and died.

Yours sincerely,
(sgd) M. K. GANDHI

Sir R. Stafford Cripps,
Board of Trade,
Millbank,
London, S.W.1.

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{1} Amrit Kaur.

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 Sir Stafford Cripps to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Office of the Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Expresses, on the eve of his departure from India, his admiration and gratitude for Pethick-Lawrence’s conduct as leader of the Mission.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
29. 6. 46

My Dearest Pethick,

I just feel that I could not leave India without expressing to you as the leader of our Mission the intense admiration and gratitude that I feel for all you have done.

It has not always been easy in this intemperate climate to hold together the team but your courtesy, fairness and deep sincerity have overcome any obstacles that there might have been. Our common affection to you has been a binding force for the whole of our team.

In the conduct of our negotiations you have made a wise mixture of caution with enthusiasm for the cause of Indian independence and a determination not to let your patience become exhausted, even though you yourself were feeling physically exhausted.

It has been a tremendous privilege and joy to me to be associated with you in this historic enterprise and I believe that you can be satisfied with the contribution that you have made to World History.

Though it is true that the results are those of the team it is to you that the major share of the credit must justly be given. Your unremitting labours, the high trust in which the Indian leaders held you and your convincing sincerity have created an atmosphere of trust amongst the Indian people different to anything known from the earliest times of British occupation.

The superficial and partisan attempts to discredit your work are not I am convinced reflecting anything but the anger of disappointed politicians.

Our “home life” here in Willingdon Crescent, a most important factor in our work, has been happy and restful because of the knowledge of the “Father of our party”.

We have all learnt to love our leader with unrestrained affection and I regard it as the highest privilege that I should have been allowed to serve under and with you during these last 3½ months.

May God Bless and keep you to see the fulfilment of your labours

Stafford

Telegram from Viscount Wavell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

New Delhi.—It is reported in the Indian press that Pethick-Lawrence is about to retire, to be replaced by Cripps. He trusts this is not true, as the appointment of Cripps would destroy any hope of securing the co-operation of the Muslim League. If Pethick-Lawrence is indeed retiring, he would prefer that Alexander should succeed him.

Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Clement Attlee

The Cabinet Mission have been refreshed by their stay in Kashmir. Encloses a copy of a proposal put before Jinnah, and gives an account of negotiations on the composition of an interim Government.

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Transcript

25th April, 1946.

Personal and Secret

My dear Clem,

Your good wishes for our Kashmir trip were amply fulfilled. We had a thorough break physical and mental and a most enjoyable time. The Maharaja and his Prime Minister were most assiduous in providing us with entertainment.

While there, we made up our minds to try one more expedient to achieve agreement which Stafford put before Jinnah informally last night. I enclose a copy of this and you will see that it is a partial return to the Cripps proposals of 1942. Jinnah was noncommittal and there is a remote possibility that it will find acceptance by both sides. Otherwise it will go into the limbo of fruitless efforts.

Failing success in that we shall revert to the need for formulating proposals of our own. These will recite our attempts to obtain agreement and make an award which we shall submit to you before publication.

Apart from the communal difficulty over Pakistan, there will arise certain grave difficulties over the Interim Government which I feel it is important you should appreciate in advance. The first point is the composition of the Executive (communally and otherwise) on which I need not dilate. The second point is the quantum of power which the Executive will possess.

I have told Congress that in the interim period the existing constitution must remain. That is to say that constitutional safeguards will continue—the Viceroy’s discretionary powers and his power of veto and the Secretary of State’s overriding authority. The reaction of Maulana Azad (President of Congress) to this announcement was one of violent dissent. “Plenary power must be transferred immediately”. “The India Office must cease to exist forthwith”. “All contracts must be instantly transferred to the ministerial Government”.

I explained very politely to Azad (too politely the Viceroy told me afterwards) and later to Gandhi how unreal their attitude was. Not only must the Government of India operate under the existing constitution until it is changed by Parliament, but the vast machinery of Government of the India Office could not physically be transferred to a newly installed Government in India in a moment. I could not divest myself of my responsibility for the I. C. S. and others without a proper agreement. Other matters will also require adjustment etc. One of the functions of the Interim Government will be to reach a settlement for orderly transfer of powers at the proper time. I appeared to make no impression and I am convinced this matter is likely to be a serious bone of contention when the Pakistan issue is finally settled.

On the principle of the matter I do not see how we can possibly give way particularly if Jinnah does not come into the Executive or is in a minority on it for in such a case the Viceroy’s veto will be essential to protect Muslim interests in the interim period. But it may be that Congress would be willing to accept some comforting assurances regarding the use of the powers of the Viceroy and the Secretary of State. Stafford and I are disposed, when the time arrives, to consider carefully how far we can go to meet Congress susceptibilities in this matter. Alexander will probably not dissent from our view. The Viceroy appears to think that he can stand pat on an unequivocal refusal to budge an inch.

It is plain to me that if and when the Interim Executive comes into being (with or without any such assurances) the position of the Viceroy during the year or more of its existence will be one of extraordinary delicacy. He may be periodically threatened with the resignation of his ministers, and all the time the essential administration will have to be carried on.

(SGD.) PETHICK-LAWRENCE.

P.S. Since the above was typed Nehru has told Stafford that there would not be the least chance of Congress agreeing to the enclosed proposal.

Letter from Humayun Kabir to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

2 York Place, New Delhi.—Asks him to contribute an article to a volume to be presented to Maulana Azad on the occasion of his seventieth birthday.

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Transcript

2, York Place,
New Delhi,
22 NOV 1957

Dear Lord Pethick Lawrence

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a great national leader of India, will be completing his 70th year in November 1958. It is proposed that on this occasion, an Abhinandan Granth (Birthday Volume) be presented to him as a mark of our appreciation of his services to the nation for nearly fifty years.

Maulana Azad attained eminence as a brilliant writer and theologian in his early youth. The spirit of free enquiry and search for truth which characterised him from those days soon led him into the political movement as he realised that man cannot attain a true and full development except in an atmosphere of freedom. From his early twenties, he has been a fighter for Indian freedom and his contribution to the cause of Indian nationalism has been widely acknowledged. The Indian nation did him the honour of electing him the President of the Indian National Congress when he was 35. Later during the most critical period of the struggle for freedom, he guided the destinies of the Congress for six momentous years and conducted the negotiations with Sir Stafford Cripps, Lord Wavell and the British Cabinet Mission which resulted in the attainment of Indian independence in 1947.

Apart from his contribution to the Indian national struggle, Maulana Azad has also been an outspoken champion of rationalism and progressiveness in all spheres of Indian life. He has sought to approach religious, moral, social, economic and political questions from a detailed and dispassionate point of view and worked for securing justice and fairplay for all sections of the Indian people.

It is proposed that the Abhinandan Granth should include assessments of his contribution to different aspects of Indian life or studies in various fields in which he has taken a keen interest. On behalf of the Committee, I have great pleasure in requesting you to be so kind as to make a contribution either on some aspect of Maulana Azad’s life and personality or in a subject of your special study. The articles should ordinarily be from 2000 to 3000 words and should reach the undersigned by the 31st March 1958 at the latest.

I shall be grateful for a line in reply indicating your consent and the title of the subject on which you would like to write.

Yours sincerely {1}
Humayun Kabir
(HUMAYUN KABIR)

Lord Pethick-Lawrence,
C/o Rashtrapati Bhavan,
NEW DELHI.

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Letter-head of the Maulana Azad 70th Birthday Committee. The letter is typed, except the opening and closing greetings, which are handwritten, and the date, which is stamped. Presumably the same message was sent to other potential contributors to the projected volume. At the foot has been added ‘Ld P will send a short message of tribute.’ (‘Ld P’ is a conjectural reading; what is written is indistinct.)

{1} These two words are indistinct.

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