Some letters from Shoghi Effendi, regarding his first stay in France
First published on the Irfan e-mail list
Unfortunately, the transcriptions which were used to publish the following letters are not very good [Update: the first two documents have been checked with the aid of a facsimile of the original letters].
I should add that there is in the Laura Dreyfus-Barney’s archives in the French National Baha’i Centre a photograph taken by Shoghi Effendi, showing Edwin Scott in front of the house at 4 avenue de Camoëns.
Note: Jean-François Millet (b. Oct. 4, 1814, Gruchy, near Gréville, Fr. – d. Jan. 20, 1875, Barbizon), is a French painter renowned for his peasant subjects. In 1849, he left Paris to settle in Barbizon, a small hamlet in the forest of Fontainebleau.
From: Shoghi Rabbani,
6 Bd. du Château,
To: Monsieur Edwin Scott,
17 Rue Boissonade,
June 6. 1920.
My dear Bahaï brother!
I infinitely regret not to have seen you at Akbar’s meeting & at Mrs. Mathews. It does really seem an age that I have been deprived of your meeting as well as your loving wife, Mrs. Scott! But I realize how busy & preoccupied you must be.
I was back on Tuesday night at about 10 P.M., the train from Barbizon being delayed by about an hour. The quiet, the pure air, the lovely sunshine made me enjoy my sojourn & I really felt much better. I have made the acquaintance of J. F. Millet’s grandson. He showed me his grandfather’s atelier, the ‘pommier’& the scenes which Millet painted. I spoke to him about the Movement & gave him the Master’s picture which he said he would paint.
I have not received any letters from home since my departure to Barbizon & I am greatly worried. The Beloved in his cable says ‘expenses through Bank’& so far I have not received anything & do’nt [sic] know what bank it is? I really do not know what to do.
As you are leaving, I have prepared for you & Mrs. Scott some Bahaï souvenirs, including a precious, inestimable relic of Bahaullah which shall be the greatest treasure enshrined in your home. When & where do you want me to present them to you? Would it be good at Mrs. Mathews’meeting?
I really yearn to visit the house where the Master lived in Paris & the sacred vicinity he frequented. I do’nt [sic] know whether you could spare an hour to show me yourself these places.
With loving Bahaï affection to your wife & to yourself,
I am your grateful friend
From: Shoghi Rabbani,
6 Bd. du Château
To: Mr. Edwin Scott
My dear brother!
Your letter has been read with great joy but how much I miss you & we miss you all! Our meetings are expanding, gaining in spirit & becoming more & more elaborate. We had a splendid meeting last Tuesday at Akbar’s. Mirza Gholamali had returned from Berlin & Dr. Mirza had come from Mesopotamia & India. Some twenty were present at the meeting, including the Dreyfuses & Lotfullah.
As to my health, I have fully recovered but I deplore the fact that no news reach me from home. Ever since your departure I have received no letter & no cable except a letter from Edith Sanderson from Vevey. I am afraid the post is not properly forwarding my letters. I have been to the concierge & no letters. I shall go again to-day. I hope something will put an end to my eager anticipation.
I shall send you the photographs we took of the Holy Sites in Paris as soon as they are ready. Meanwhile I hope you will send me the picture we took together at your home. Oh! Your lovely blessed abode! What a cluster of sweet memories & associations cling around it! I shall never forget our last interview under its roof.
Ever yours in His Name
My affectionate & Bahaï greetings as well as my gratitude & thanks to Mrs. Scott.
From: Shoghi Rabbani
c/o Miss Rosenberg
74a Sinclair Rd.
To: Mr. & Mrs. E. Scott
17 Rue Boissonade
My dear Baha’i brother & sister:–
I have received your kind & affectionate letter enclosing the photographs you have so kindly sent me. I have been so busy & am still so absorbed in my studies that I have scarcely found any time to have my films developed but I shall send you the pictures I took at Gréville as soon as they are ready.
I have been immersed in my studies – all having as an end a better ability in translating the words of Baha’u’llah and a fuller knowledge & better expression in expounding its principles.
I have come, in the course of my reading at the University Bodleian library, across some rare & authoritative books, written by eminent statesmen & touching the Baha’i Movement. Among them is Earl Curzon’s (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs) book on Persia written in 1892 wherein he writes the following:–
“The lowest estimate places them (the Babi’s) in Persia at half a million. I am disposed to think… that the total (in Persia) is nearer on million… Tales of magnificent heroism illumine the bloodstained pages of Babi history. Ignorant & unlettered as many of its votaries are & have been, they are yet prepared to die for their religion & the fires of Smithfield did not kindle a nobler courage than has met & defied the more-refined torture-mongers of Tihran. Of no small account, then must be the tenets of a creed that can awaken in its followers so rare & beautiful a spirit of self-sacrifice… Beauty & the female sex also lent their consecration to the new creed & the heroism of the lovely but ill-fated poetess of Kazvin, Kurratu’l-‘Ayn, who throwing off the veil, carried the missionary torch far & wide, is one of the most affecting episodes in modern history…”
Such is the testimony given by such a renowned & authoritative statesman!
This is a sample of the work I am plunging in & I always seek your prayers that I may one day, fully equipped, render a distinguished service to the threshold of Baha’u’llah.
Yours very affectionately
Paintings by Edwin Scott, The Meriden Gravure Company and The Stinehour Press, 1970, p. 23–24, Chronology:
1862 Born in Buffalo, New York, October 21, christened Frank Edwin Scott
1882 May, first trip to Paris
October, entered the École des Beaux-Arts
1886 (Became permanently established in Paris)
1895 Occupied his atelier-apartment until his death
1908 Married, for the second time, to Miss Josephine Sanford [born at Cleveland, Ohio, 1863; died at Versailles, France, December 3, 1955]
1910 Purchased the Jean-François Millet Cottage at Gréville near Cherbourg
1929 Died in Paris, December 23