Item 141 - Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

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MONT II/A/1/141


Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu


  • 29 June 1915 (Creation)

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[The British Hospital, Wimereux.]—Has received his note, and commiserates with him on his attack of pleurisy. She dined last night with Conrad and Hunter, and is going for a walk with Conrad today. Violet has written to explain her objections to their marriage. Expects to be home on 10 or 12 July. Mikky is depressed.

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      Tuesday June 29th 1915

      My darling I got your note, written on Saturday, last night, I do hope you are better now, and more comfortable. You seem to have had rather a delicious day really, with crowds of wonderful people to see you, I’m not sure I dont almost envy you, but I hope it wont last long. I think you’ve made marvellously little fuss, I should have made much more, and demanded sympathy far more clamorously. I dont wonder you got pleurisy, it was devilishly cold that day, I, of course, am absolutely acclimatised to that kind of weather (its been worse since you left) and hardly feel it.

      I didnt go for a walk with Conrad but instead dined with him & Major Hunter last night, not very exciting; {1} to-day Conrad is going for a walk with me instead. When I got back from dinner I found a long letter from Violet, written on the ship, which she dropped here. She doesnt at all abandon her attitude of disapproval, & puts her case very well, as usual. She only uses one very unfair argument, its not quite an argument, more a backing opinion, and that is Archies! I cant help feeling its hitting below the belt to support yourself by what someone who is dead might think. But, she’s wrong, if it mattered to me what he would have thought, I am just as sure as she is that he was far too sane and strong to attach any great value to mere abstract ques-tions, and much too fond of his friends not to be inclined to judge their actions, however dis-tasteful to him, leniently. She also quotes Bongie & her father, Bongie I daresay may feel what she says, I certainly shouldnt dream of making it a bone of contention between them by chal-lenging that opinion, he may hold it, or she may go on thinking he holds it, if it makes things smoother. We both know also that really the P M doesnt much mind, tho’ I believe he can be made to mind very easily if it is presented to him well and not over coloured-ly.

      I dont quite know what I shall answer, she wrote very sweetly and I still believe her to be prompted by a feeling of great love. She holds very strongly that if you see someone you love about to do something that to your mind is a false or discreditable action, it is just as much your duty to try & stop them, as if you saw them with morphia or veronal in their hands. It naturally follows that the more you love the more anxious you are to save them. That is quite a rational opinion and one which completely robs me of any feeling of anger. I am just the reverse of Vio-let. There may be lots of things which in themselves I might condemn, yet if anyone I loved did one of them, I should be inclined to think that I had grossly exaggerated their importance. But I realise that my opinion about those questions is quite valueless, as I am as unfitted to give an opinion on them as you are on a complicated bit of music.

      I think that she will persevere in her attitude, I never really thought she would when she found everything was settled, and to people who know us really well (not to strangers for to them I believe she will support us) she will present our case most convincingly in a blackish light. But I dont think that matters much because everyone will get pretty bored by the whole thing after 10 days. I wonder if you will see her, I rather hope you wont, as I should be sorry if you were to quarrel. You see she longs for you to marry me, its not a personal questions, urges it even and thinks I’m damned lucky, but what sticks in her gauge {2} is that I should say I be-lieve in something which I know I dont believe even the A.B.C of. Of course I should have done exactly the same if I’d been marrying a believing Protestant or Catholic. I’d do anything for a quiet life, but up to now I’ve not been very successful have I?

      Its damned dull here and I do believe Sat or Monday week will see me home, either the 11th or 14th, no 10th or 12th.

      I had a long letter from Mikky to day, what an angel he is. I wonder what he’ll say. I must answer him.

      He writes very sadly & says he wishes he were dead. I expect he does. I do sometimes my-self, & if I were he I should always. I think I shall have a hot bath now, 3 p.m., there is nothing else to do.

      I think I must put some money into the loan. Roderick says I ought to!

      Goodbye darling



      Written at the British Hospital, Wimereux, in pencil. Venetia omitted to post this letter straight away (see A1/42).

      {1} Semi-colon supplied.
      {2} A mistake for ‘gorge’.

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