Item 160 - Letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

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Letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence


  • 15 Nov. 1904 (Creation)

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The Pyramids (Cairo).—Continues her account of her visit to Egypt.



The Pyramids. Nov. 15th 1904.

My darling. Your letters of yesterday—I had two letters[,] one written on the way to Dorking—the other on the Sunday morning from The Sundial—they have brought me very near to you & have filled my heart with love & with sweet thoughts & with happy thoughts of your coming. I have been trying to picture that today. I wonder where we shall be? I expect at Luxor. Unless I hear that you can’t spare more than 3 or 4 weeks. If that is so, I shall leave the boat as soon as we reach Luxor & set up the Camp at once—so that we may get all the programme finished. But I should like you to have a week on the houseboat with us—oh so much, for we are going to be such a happy party. An old friend of Hetty’s—Ali—has turned up today. He got Hetty’s letter & started at once from 75 miles away & was quite overcome with happiness. Abdul Enani engages him to be our servant & he has gone right back to fetch his clothes—& to join the boat Il Bolbol—“The Nightingale”—on Thursday. He can sing too, & he brings his fishing net,—if the ladies like fish, he will promise them as much as they can eat. He can speak no English at all: we are daily struggling with the arabic language & a little friend of Hetty’s, “Ibrahim” came today & gave us a lesson in the arabic writing. I have learnt all the letters in the printed alphabet. He sat with us on the desert this evening & told us about his journey to the sacred city of Mecca. If the will to learn were all, we should soon be able to read, write & speak arabic, or if the will to teach were all—one is impatient with one’s own mind & memory—one learns, & forgets the next minute. We called on Lady Cromer yesterday—she is in Alexandria just now—we left cards—we also called on Mr Cope’s friend Mrs Vere Alston, but she was not at home. She & Judge Alston are coming today to stay at Mena House for a week—so we shall soon know them. We shall be in Cairo all day tomorrow, many things to see & to do there—the days need to be twice as long. There seems no time at all for photographs, or letters, or lessons (Books have been put aside altogether) {1}: so many claims upon eye & mind & interest all at once. This week has spelt but one word—fascination. Here is a little prayer I often say—

“Ya moufeta el abouab
Ifta linna el bab.”

“Oh Keeper of doors, open the door to us.” Open the door—one cries in one’s head—give us to understand this wonderful new world insight into the secret & source of it. It is all so new,—so new—founded on fundamental conceptions so different from all we have learnt before.

Dearest, I was so glad to hear of your happy time at The Sundial—the sunny weather, the lovely motor rides—& of the opportunity given you of being a comfort to your dear little Carry—I was thinking of you much. It was a capital idea asking Marion too. So glad to hear all going well at Holmwood. Dear Podger! give him my love. What a great deal we shall have to talk about. That transfer of the ‘Standard’ “gives one furiously to think”. I am very very sorry. The fight against material resources is a very desperate one & a very long one. It is the history of the 20th century which has just begun & I doubt if the end of the century will see the victory of the good cause, though I am sure that victory will ultimately emerge. Even here, one sees the terrible evil of money divorced from human relationship or human responsibility. Dear, this battle that you speak of, God help us to be wise & courageous. God leave us one another, if it be his will, & leave us our great love, & make us able to fulfil to the uttermost his will concerning us. We will ask nothing more. We will cling to nothing more. I thank God that in these days when there is so much that is unstable—I have in my husband, a rock. I have faith in life, but that is not surprising, when I live my daily life with a man to which right & honour come before every thing else in the world. My rock & my fortress—my sword & my shield.

I have been thinking that we make far too small a claim on our God. These Arabs who for a whole month keep a fast all day & who say so simply “My God helps me, so that I have no hunger or thirst, no wish to eat or drink. I do His will & He gives me the strength”, teach us much. They seem to miss the wear & tear, the strain—they throw that on the God whose command they obey & are saved physically.

God bless you my darling.

Ever yours.
Your wife.


A few alterations have been made to the punctuation of the original.

{1} The words in brackets were added above the line.

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