Emily Hobhouse to Jane Addams, November 4, 1915


Nov. 4. 15

c/o Barclay & Co
137 Brampton Road
London. S.W.

My dear Miss Addams

I did not leave my work until after Dr Jacobs' return -- & I hated having to go -- but private matters made it imperative. I only stayed 6 days in London & came straight down to Cornwall where I now am. From Dr J. I heard the news of all that happened in America to her, and with the deepest regret we [learned] of your illness. Burn this if it worries you <even> to read it.

My return to London & the reception I there met with from the women of the Committee (or several of them) was like a blow in the face. Of course I knew they disliked me (my public self, my private self is unknown to them) and I instinctively had felt they objected to my name being at all prominent in this work, but I own I was hardly prepared for such an attitude as that [which] I have encountered. All this does not matter to me privately, but my public self is affronted and I think rightly [page 2] since my public actions if they have meant anything have meant a stand for the very principles embodied in many of our Revolutionaries. No other woman in England has so stood for those [illegible] principles [publicly] and for that reason alone it has seemed to me that an association formed to propagate them should support & welcome me and not oppose my work.

But the Committee here has fallen into the hands of a clique -- who were reared under the [reactionary] influence of Mrs Fawcett and timidity & expediency prevail. It never occurred to me that women could have behaved quite like it to one who like themselves was engaged in devoted work for [an] essential & sacred cause. It has been a real revelation of narrowness. I have asked them to strike my name off the list of their association -- but I want you to know that and to let Dr Jacobs know that this step does not mean that I withdraw from the work. I am at your disposal & hers, as far as my [page 3] limitations of bodily strength & means permit -- and there is no cause to which I am more willing to devote my life. I am thankful that I am so much stronger than I have been in so far that I can use my returning strength for this work. I realize that with this strong current against me, there may be no place that I can fill, but I can work a good deal outside & bide my time. Meanwhile Dr J. gave me your kind message & herself also bid me to the meeting [which] is summoned for next month. If possible I shall be there, but you must recollect it is quite on the cards that it will be impossible -- I should like you to send this to Dr Jacobs only you must put Holland [America] Line outside. It goes quicker.

I am so glad to be alone here by the sea in this quiet spot. My life has been spent so much alone that long stretches of solitude have become a necessity in which to gather strength. [page 4]

We are drinking our cup of sorrows to the dregs.

I want to get rid of this house & then go to Rome & get rid of my flat. One longs to possess nothing & so to be set free for the service of humanity. Yet a woman so needs a home, in particular if she is weak -- one is dragged two ways.

Please do not trouble to answer this letter; it is only written to let you know how matters stand.

When I sent you my postcard 10 days ago I was not expecting in anything like this degree the "repudiation" of the women I have spoken of.

But there were some trumps, only they mostly live in the provinces and cannot influence the Executive.

Yours ever sincerely and afftely

Emily Hobhouse


It is a real regret to me that they have elected such an unrepresentative 5 -- one is to be Irish -- that is good -- & Margaret Bondsfield is splendid -- but instead of three of one type all representing the N.U.W.S.S. we needed a strong brain like Vernon Lee -- & certainly a member of the Society of Friends, a woman of the standing of Margery Fry with [written up left margin] broad cultivated mind & then one N.U.W.S.S. would have completed it.