Item 216 - Letter from Sir George Schuster to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

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Letter from Sir George Schuster to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence


  • 4 Aug. 1945 (Creation)

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Nether Worton House, Middle Barton, Oxon.—Congratulates him on his appointment as Secretary of State for India, and expresses his mixed feelings at being out of Parliament.



Nether Worton House, Middle Barton, Oxon.
4. Aug. 1945

My dear Pethick.

(as I hope I may call you, since you used so to sign yourself to me) I congratulate you most sincerely. When I say ‘congratulate’ I mean many things. I am glad for the happiness which your appointment must bring to you, for I am sure that, in spite of the heavy thankless responsibility which anything to do with India involves, it must bring you happiness that your life’s work should have been crowned by your selection for one of the great offices of State. But I am more glad for the fact that it is you with your wisdom and integrity of mind who have been chosen for this task. I have always said that the man to be Secretary of State for India, or Viceroy, should be one who has neither a name to make nor a heart to break—(not of course meaning that he should be heartless, but one who is a philosopher, who will be satisfied to strive for the right and not worry about the outward appearance of success or be affected by personal ambition). You come nearer to that than anyone of whom I can think.

I write to you without reason, because I flatter myself with the feeling that you are one of those who understood what I was trying to do in Parliamt, and who will regret the fact that I am out of it. I am in many ways sorry to be out, but I am unreservedly relieved to feel that I no longer have a party label tied round my neck. I know that the working of our democracy depends on there being two parties contending with each other; but I think there is room for a few detached individuals “who find in neither faction fair scope for the effort that is in them”. Those words, which Winston once used, apply to me—or so I think. I did genuinely believe that the best thing for the country for the next two or three years would be a National Governmt of all Parties, and I felt it right to go on fighting for that to the last. But the people have otherwise decided, and though there are many things in the realm of methods on which I do not agree with your party, I so strongly sympathise with their ultimate objectives that I am relieved not to have been returned by voters who would expect me to contend as a partisan against the Labour Party. These are very critical years and I want to see a successful British Governmt—whatever its party.

I need hardly say that if ever you should feel it useful to talk over Indian problems with me I should be honoured and delighted. But I hesitate to say more, as I do not want to appear to be pushing myself forward—and I know that I am not very popular with the India Office!

Anyhow I shall think much of you and you will have my constant prayers for your success. It is really noble of you to have taken on this task. I think specially of you and your wife and your companionship together. I trust that by being in the House of Lords you can do the work without extra interruption to that companionship, and that for you Browning’s words may have a new meaning

—Grow old along with me
The best is still to be— {1}

Ever yours
George Schuster


{1} A slight misquotation from ‘Rabbi ben Ezra’, which, as printed, has ‘yet’ instead of ‘still’.

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