Item 79 - Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

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Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence


  • 8 May 1901 (Creation)

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2 folded sheets

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20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Discusses writings by herself and others on social work in London.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd W.C.
8. May 1901

Dear Mr Lawrence.

The “Work” in question is “The Life of a Sister of the People” {1}. I am sending with it “Quest & Freedom”, which represents a time in the lives of all the writers, when the iron glowed white-hot in the furnace—a time of ideal comradeship in purpose & work, such as, one thinks, could not come more than once in a few lifetimes. Of course you wont see that—I was only smiling to think of it & the thoughts crept down to my pen, as they have a way of doing in rather an irrepressible way—sometimes. If you have nothing else to do, look at the little sketch of the social programme at the end. After the furnace, the blows came, blows that at the time seemed to smash our life’s purpose & work to pieces. We had to begin from the bottom. Arthur Sherwell lost his title & his profession & his living, & his dream of a social work in London. Mary & I lived on from week to week. The Girls Club was in the street. Well—this was the last thing that we accomplished together, so you see we have a peculiar sentiment about it. Forgive an old woman’s tale! We grow prolix in advanced age!

Read Sister Mary’s “Schlummerlied” {2}, “The dream of the soul’s slow disentanglement”. It is a true story, but I think very beautifully treated: and Arthur Sherwell’s “Tale in a Doss-house” gives the side of him shown in those old Labour Home days: he did all the doss-houses of London in disguise with a man called Tom Bickerton, a regular dosser & awful reprobate, but with a chivalrous devotion to “the guv’ner”.

Well here I am jawing on—I dont know what for, I’m sure. If you read my “Worship of the Holy Child”, it is the last column only, that is worth reading. I have got a bit of real truth into that, I believe.

God “keep us still faithful to the best & truest”, I say when I think of these things—when I think of the way by which we have arrived. Retrospect is good sometimes, in spite of my pet dogma—There is no Past. There is nothing but the present, & the To-Be.

But you will have had more than enough of the philosopher by this time!

E. P.


{1} An article by Emmeline Pethick published in the Young Woman, vol. ii (1893–4).

{2} ‘Lullaby’ (German).

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