Item 47 - Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence

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Letter from Emmeline Pethick to F. W. Lawrence


  • 25 June 1900 (Creation)

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20 Somerset Terrace, Duke’s Road, W.C.—Wishes to talk to him about finding the right man (for the Boys’ Club). Declines an invitation to a picnic. Agrees that ‘there is a … stronger instinct for slavery than for freedom in man’.



20 Somerset Terrace | Dukes Rd W.C.
25. 6. 00

Dear Mr Laurence.

I should like to talk the matter over with you. I am most anxious to find the right man. Possibly in considering the matter some track might be discovered. Will you come tomorrow (Tuesday) as you suggest {1}. Can you come about 3 or 3.30?—Mr Cope wants to meet you too. He will come in to tea about 4 o’clock

No, I dont think I could go for a picnic with the C. S. Brothers {2}!. Dont tell anyone I said so, as I am afraid it is not very right or kind. I think even a Ball would be more in keeping somehow!.

I did not see the account of the Boys Club opening in Reynolds {3}—so I imagine there is some mistake.

You are quite right & so is Charles Booth {4}! It seems to me there is a more general & a stronger instinct for slavery than for freedom in Man—since if he escapes from the constraining bonds of Necessity he puts himself into the far more narrowing fetters of conventionality[.] An instinct for freedom is as rare as genius.

Sincerely yours
Emmeline Pethick


{1} This is evidently the appointment referred to in Fate Has Been Kind, p. 51: ‘Fearful lest I might be forestalled by some other suitor with readier access, I procured a special appointment on some pretext with “Sister Emmie”, called at her flat and made my proposal.’ For a reference to another recent suitor, see PETH 7/64.

{2} Probably the members of the Christian Social Union.

{3} Reynolds’s Weekly Newspaper, the leading working-class paper in England.

{4} Booth was the director of a survey of working class life in London, the results of which were published from 1889 onwards and collected in Life and Labour of the People in London (17 vols, 1902–3). For his influence on Lawrence see Fate Has Been Kind, pp. 47–8.

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