Letter from Arthur to his sister Margaret, 4 November 1906
[No original available]
Egerton House, Berkhamsted.
Nov. 4, 1906.
I would have written sooner if there had been any news or anything definite to say. My condition is very much as before. The swelling does not go away and is rather unpleasant, but as far as I can judge it does not grow larger. The X-ray treatment does not seem to produce any effect, and perhaps the ingenious Lewis Jones will try some fresh experiment soon. My general health is well enough, and under advice I am taking rather more food than usual. I go daily to the Temple, and have had a little work but not much, including some Scotch land law drafting for Munro Ferguson, and do not get tired. Sylvia and all the boys are very well. The oculist reported favourably on George and Jack, but he wishes to examine George’s eyes further under belladonna in the holidays. Belladonna has the troublesome effect of making the eyes unfit for reading or seeing near objects for more than a week.
It is a very wet Sunday afternoon, and we are all staying in. On the other hand we had a lovely day yesterday, and in the afternoon, Sylvia, Michael and I had a good six-mile walk over the Common while the larger boys played their football.
I think your letter to Asquith a very good one, and it will be hard work for him to answer it. But no doubt he will produce a very civil and euphonious letter in reply. I have not seen or heard any comment on my Independent article.
We have no one with us this weekend. Crompton came for Friday night, and we expect Mrs. du Maurier for a visit this week. We are beginning to speculate on the possibility of Kirkby at Christmas.
I think myself that the beginnings of despair or resignation are discernible in this letter, despite the speculations on Kirkby for Christmas. The great authority of Treves must have carried some weight, but only for a short time as none of the treatment did any good. How desperate those daily journeys to the Temple must have been; but better than doing nothing, perhaps.
Rather surprising, to me, to find Sylvia walking over the common. I have no recollection of her going for long walks.
[AB: Ronald Munro Ferguson (1860-1934) was a Scottish Liberal politician who was, at this time, Provost of Kirkcaldy. In 1914 he became Governor-General of Australia. Asquith = H. H. Asquith, Chancellor of the Exchequer in Campbell-Bannerman’s 1906 Liberal government. According to Ruth Cohen’s excellent biography of Margaret Ll.D., she wrote to Asquith on behalf of the Women’s Co-operative Guild on October 27th “expounding, among other things, the specific needs of married working-class women who did not earn a wage.” Reading Ruth Cohen’s biography, one is all the more struck by Margaret’s sheer energy, “juggling the demands of the suffrage campaign with her need to be with her dying brother.”]
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