Item 162 - Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

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PETH/6/162

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Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

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  • 19–24 Apr. 1946 (Creation)

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3 sheets

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Guest House No. 2, Srinagar, Kashmir.—Gives an account of the Cabinet mission’s visit to Kashmir.

Delhi.—Has now (24th) returned to Delhi.

—————

Transcript

Guest House No 2, {1}
Srinagar, Kashmir

April 19. 46

My dear.

What a strange unreal world I am living in! I came over the mountains this morning. Great snowy peaks at a height of 12000 to 15000 ft with some running up to over 20000. Then down into this sunny plain—the vale of Kashmir—some 5000 above sea level. We were met by the Prime Minister & the Resident {2} & brought away here. All the streets were lined with people to see us pass. Neither welcome nor hostility from the crowds—just curiosity. This place has an English climate. The almond blossom just over, the hawthorn (not really hawthorn but a kind of spirea) & the fruit blossom in flower. It is very lovely. Maud Coote (Foulds) is coming to see me on Sunday {3}. I am warned tht she is very odd. I am not surprised. I will tell you about wht I make of her after she has come & gone.

I had another interview with Gandhi last evening. He is very friendly personally—so are they all which is a most important & valuable thing. But what help or hindrance we shall get from any of them when we really bend ourselves to trying to solve the riddle of the Sphinx remains to be seen.

Sunday morning. Yesterday we drove 60 miles up the valley & up a mountain stream to a little island on to which we crossed on foot. We walked up to a little shrine & from there only 200 or 300 further up was snow in a ravine. The sun was very hot & I did not go on. I thought at 7000 ft up it was probably wiser not to do too much. We picnicked out with food brought from here & later I walked round the island & after the others had had tea we drove home. Cripps did not come with us as he went fishing with Turnbull & Fraser. They caught a large number of very large trout which they have since distributed among various houses round here.

It started raining yesterday evening & is raining fast now. But it was fine for me to have a morning walk before breakfast. I climbed half way up to a monastery on the top of a hill just opposite this guest-house. Presently I am going to church & am to read the lesson—from “Revelation”. I have conned it though so as not to stumble. I belive† the Maharajah is coming to lunch with us. His own house is being repaired & he lives in a small villa. Later Maud Coote is coming to see me, & later if the rain leaves off, which seems unlikely, we are to go on the lake. There are hundreds of houseboats on the river & lake in which many people (retired Europeans & Indians) live all the year round.

On the day of our arrival (Friday) we had a short drive to two fascinating public gardens. The feature of each of them was a stream running down in cascades all the way. One of them had 12 terraces & a cascade above each.

Later. It rained all the morning, I drove to Church. The Canon preached a sermon all about the resurrection of the Spring & the coming of the flowers. The Church Yard instead of being a cemetery is a very beatiful† flower garden—pansies, tulips, cowslips, primroses, nermophilas, aubrecchia, & hundreds of others & a lovely little Japanese Maple & a Judas tree.

The Maharaja {4} came to lunch. He & Sir Stafford Cripps talked fishing for about 1½ hours. I am going to see him tomorrow morning to talk politics. He has planned out a trip on the river for tomorrow afternoon & a journey up a valley for Tuesday to see wild bears.

Maud Coote came at 2.15. She struck me as very sane & most interesting. She gave me a book of her poems some of which I have read since she has gone & I liked v. much. She herself is of course much older & plumper though she eats very little. She sent her love to you & said she would pray Ramakrishna for the Cabinet Mission.

After tht I went for a walk along the bank of the river & seen† the many houseboats & the back of the shops including Maud’s “Kig Products”.

Tuesday evening. Monday we had a lovely paddle on the lake. 5 men paddled in each boat of which there were three. (I had of course to be a passenger). Later I drove with the Maharajah about 20 miles up a valley & saw a wild boar but no bears. We visited his trout hatchery & saw some enormous trout 10 & 12 & 14 lbs. We had lunch & tea there. I have also played billiards & snooker with Alexander & gave him a considerable handicap & beat him in all but one game. We start for Delhi tomorrow at 7 AM weather permitting. I shall post this from there. I am very well. I love you very much.

Just your own
Boy

This is a very inadequate description of a very lovely place & a charming holiday.

[Added at the head of the letter:]

April 24 Back in Delhi

3 letters from E K & 2 from you dated April 14 & 16. I look forward to reading them but do not want to delay sending this off.

—————

There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘tht’ for ‘that’.

{1} This line of the address is handwritten.

{2} Ram Chandra Kak and W. F. Webb.

{3} 21 April, Easter Day.

{4} Sir Hari Singh.

† Sic.

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