Item 107 - Letter from Henry D. Harben to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

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PETH/4/107

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Letter from Henry D. Harben to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

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  • 13 Sept. 1961 (Creation)

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2 sheets

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Flat 5, 1 Hyde Park Street, W.2
13/9/61

Dear Lady Pethick Lawrence.…

I feel I must write to you about the loss of your husband, which must have been a great sorrow to you; & to assure you of our real sympathy during this week. To me it came as a great shock, as I had not even heard he was ill. He was probably my very oldest friend, & I had known him for well over 70 years. He was Captain of the Oppidans when I was at Eton & though (being much younger than he) I hardly knew him then, we did meet personally several times, because a) we both frequented the School Library, and b) we were both members of the Literary Society. Our real friendship began during the first decade of this century, as I was a great supporter of women’s suffrage & gave large sums to his collections, & also went to prison in 1914. Since then Emmeline & he were among my very dearest friends; we stayed with them when they lived in Holmwood—they stayed with us in Buckinghamshire—& more recently he frequently dined with us in town, & we used often to lunch at the House of Lords. I shall miss him more than I can say, & this week I have thought of little else. His was a very noble mind, & though he never was as far left as I am, it was always a joy & privilege to discuss real questions with him especially economics, which so few of the Labour Party leaders really understand. I was one of the original governors of the London School of Economics, which I helped Sidney Webb to found—so, as well as the Suffrage, we had all that in common.… I remember we dined together the night before he left for India on his great mission, & he said words that I shall never forget. “You & I have both fought for Freedom all our lives; to-morrow I am going to give Freedom to 400 million people.” Dear, dear Fred—his splendid brain, his modest retiring manner, his absolute integrity, were a combination that I have never met in anyone else. God rest his Soul! … Please forgive my unburdening my feelings to you for once

Yours sincerely & affectionately
Henry D. Harben

I need hardly say Miss Mulock joins me in all our feelings of sympathy & friendship to you.

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