Item 62 - Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

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Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence


  • 17 July 1900 (Creation)

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1 folded sheet

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Colville House, Lowestoft.—Urges him to write to her while he is away.



C H, L {1}
17. 7 00

D M L {2}

Once more the horror of the written word instead of the spoken word seizes me. The written word can only be trusted when you understand and know perfectly the other’s point of view. Let nothing written by me ever puzzle you or trouble you—I am quite content, though I have always found writing the hardest thing in the world. I am bound to tell you that, you know.

That brings me to the next heading in the discourse, another confession. I cannot do with he-roic people, people who suffer in grand silence, and bear their own burden and another’s—the people, you know, that one is always supposed to admire. I love dear weak human people, who—well, seriously. Don’t talk about troubling me with your letters. How can I be troubled except by your no letters, by a mist or a blind let down between us. I have always combatted (“there it is again” —this warrior woman, are you not afraid of her? —no, you are not, are you?) the idea that anything, however heroic, however sublime, however self forgetful—that anything is so worthy a gift for those we love—only two or three at most in a life time—as the childlike truth. Therefore, you see, though my besetting sins are independence and satanic pride, these two things seem to have no place now—now that you are going away for such a long time; noth-ing matters except telling you just what I feel. Now go with my blessing, go without doubt or anxiety or afterthought. If any of your thoughts or words naturally belong to me, give them to me. Letters will always reach me quite safely. No one ever dreams of touching my letters except sister Mary, and she will know your writing. I am yours {3} as you would have me be.

The last thing you said to me was, “Then we understand each other perfectly”. My reply was, “Perfectly”. Let that stand. Burn this letter and wash your hands. I have burnt my hands with carbolic acid. I don’t think there can be any risk.


This letter is written untidily in pencil and is not easy to read. Some of the readings are conjectural. The letter-head bears the arms and address of Mansfield House, Canning Town, E.

{1} i.e. ‘Colville House, Lowestoft.’

{2} i.e. ‘Dear Mr Lawrence.’

{3} Reading uncertain.

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