Item 30c - Circular letter by F. W. Lawrence

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PETH/5/30c

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Circular letter by F. W. Lawrence

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  • [c. 3–30 Apr. 1898] (Creation)

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14 folded sheets (pp. 107–66). Pages 107–14, 115–22, 123–30, 131–8, 143–50, 151–8, and 159–66 each form a gathering.

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Account of a journey via Bombay, Mangalore, Kundapur, Kota, Purdur (and other centres in South Canara), Mangalore, Nellore, Madras, Tuticorin, Colombo, Kandy, and Colombo.

(A continuation of 5/30b. Identified in the first sentence as ‘an encyclical … the third of the series’. The letter was begun some time between 3 and 10 April, and finished on the 30th.)

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Transcript

Once more I start to write an encyclical; this the third of the series, & the last which I shall write about India. At the present moment {1} I am at Katpadi Railway station where I was deposited soon after 3 A.M. Finding no suitable place to go to bed again, & not feeling very sleepy I had some tea & toast (a very early chota hazri) & started to take a little exercise up & down the platform watching the full moon getting lower & lower down, & finally the dawn of day & the rising of the sun just before 6 o’clock. Now I have an hour or two to spare before I shall have breakfast & then at 9.40 my train starts to carry me to Nellore. Probably it would amuse you if you could see me sitting here right out on the platform (on the shady side) in my deck chair writing on a little stool, with the ubiquitous native hanging about all round. Did I ever tell you how the native goes by train? He takes his rug & his cooking pot, & his few rupees tied up in the ends of his turban, & gets to the station; perhaps there is a train just gone, perhaps there will be one going soon, but in that case very likely he misses it by not getting (or not being able to get) his ticket in time; do you think he cares? Not a bit of it. He just sits him down, & perhaps rolls himself up in his rug and goes to sleep; later on when he feels inclined he buys a little food & cooks it & eats it, then he goes to sleep again; he probably won’t get a train for 12 hours very likely not for 24, but it doesn’t make any difference; he is just as happy at the Railway Station as anywhere else, perhaps happier because he has nothing to think about & nothing to do. So it comes about that whatever time of the day or night you arrive at a Railway Station you will probably see a number of bolster like objects strewn about some on the platform some in the sort of native waiting room. On closer inspection these objects turn out to be natives wrapt up head & all in their sheet or blanket. Shall I tell you how the European goes by train? Even he has probably to arrive ½ an hour beforehand to take the tickets & get his luggage booked, unless he allows his boy to do this. In the meanwhile his servants have come with all his luggage brought by coolies or on a bullock cart. One or two big things are very likely booked & sent in the van, the rest are poured pall mall into the carriage under the directions of the boy. The typical Mrs Brown or whoever it is that is jeered at it in England for having big box, little box, .… brown paper parcel, travels quite free handed compared with the ordinary European in India. The first class railway carriage here is generally something like the sleeping carriages of GNR {2} at home, & each compartment can sleep 4 at a pinch (upper & lower berths); but you generally consider yourselves a bit aggrieved if you have to sit more than 2 even during the day for any distance. (Here a native barber has come & shaved me just where I sit) Yesterday coming from Calicut we were 3; every available space under the seats was filled up (& they are very broad) all the space between the seats, in addition to packages on the seats & in the racks; I should think in all they must have got well into the thirties at any rate; every man having 1 or 2 bundles of rugs, one or two bags 2 or 3 despatch boxes, umbrellas, tiffin baskets, bundle of hats (this last may surprise you, my boy always insists on carrying all mine—I don’t include top hat—roll[e]d up in a pillow case) etc etc etc. I used to know at one time how many I had, but I have given that up long ago; I think my boy’s motto must be “Divide et Impera”. I calc’late he will be somewhat surprised when I insist on compressing them well within the single digit before I start for Australia.

While I am on the subject of trains there are two or three things more I want to mention: 1stly most of the lines here are broad gauges 5ft 6in (4-8½ at home) so that there is plenty of room; a few however including the line to Nellore are narrow gauge (metre). Another rather curious thing is that even the main lines (except in one or two places) are only single line & are run almost entirely on the staff system or a modification of it. Generally speaking there is only one fast train in the day along a line each way, & that is the mail. The others are immeasurably slow in comparison, so much so that unless you are only going a short distance you will generally get sooner to your destination by waiting for the mail of the following day. Moreover as distances are long, the mail must pass through many stations at night, thus frequently in travelling you are compelled to start or arrive in the middle of your night’s rest.

The fast mails go 20 to 30 miles an hour[,] stops included; & where there are no fast trains one perhaps covers 10 or 15; so to-day though it is only about 150 miles from here to Nellore I dont† arrive till 8.30 P.M. The stops for meals are definite & marked, the guard or station master wires on how many dinners etc will be required, & when you get out you find all the 1st class passengers assembling in the refreshment room. I think it is time to go & have my breakfast now, & as I am rather hungry perhaps you will excuse my running away to take it! {3}

I write now from Nellore—my 12 hour journey by narrow gauge proved as you may imagine somewhat tedious especially as in the middle of the day it got extremely hot; still I had all the carriage to myself so I did not do so badly.

Before giving you any more general descriptions I will now try & fill up with a few pictures the gap which there is between the date of my writing my last encyclical, & the present.

I think I told you that there were two ways of getting down from Bombay to Mangalore, one by the B.I {4} boat which goes straight, & the other by the little Shepherd steamers {5} which stop at some dozen ports along the coast; the former is in every way superior, but is very uncertain as to time. And so it came about that as Booty was particular as to time when I should reach him, I came to the conclusion at the last minute that I must go by Shepherd {6}. Certainly these boats are very so so but perhaps hardly quite so terrible as the Anglo Indian seems inclined to make them out; nevertheless inundated with natives, & full of cockroaches. Anglo Indians take their servants with them who cook their food for them, but as my boy is not a cook I had to make special arrangements with the Co[mpan]y (who do not as a rule provide anything) to supply me with meals.

[26 Feb.] Reached Marmagoa† Saturday afternoon & fell in with a man who drove me out to Vasco da Gama in a bullock dummy & subsequently gave me dinner before the boat started on again southwards. From there we stopped at all the little ports on the way; but we did not go along side & there was not time to get off.

[27 Feb.] Sunday afternoon I reached Kundapur which is in the South Canara district & [28 Feb.] early next morning we anchored outside the bar at Mangalore. Leaving my Boy with my luggage on board, as I had heard from Booty that he proposed going back to Kundapur in the boat that evening, I went ashore in the launch. I say “went ashore” but in reality I was landed first upon an island where I was disinfected from any chance of carrying plague by being sprinkled with 3 drops of very dilute corrosive sublimate!! After this I was allowed to sail accross† to the mainland, & there found a brougham drawn by two bullocks which conveyed me up to its master’s bungalow—the home of P A Booty.

I hadn’t seen Percy for 2½ years, but he did not seem very much changed, a little thinner perhaps.

“My dear fellow what induced you to put on a linen shirt & a collar; we never do that here except at a dinner party; let me lend you a tennis shirt.”

No sooner said than done; & never again was I so misguided in a district which is the wettest & stickiest I was ever introduced to.

But I have not told you what a pleasure it was to see again Mrs P. A. Booty & to be introduced to the first crowd baby. Query:—am I now Great Grandpapa? Answer:—No: because Percy was always known as “PA”. Unlike the Jerome K Jeromian infant “lots of hair”. “More hair than poor Grandpa haven’t you baby?”

So a pleasant few hours; & then Percy & I are carried away to the Shepherd steamer. Percy regards 3 days on the boat {7} as the 8th wonder of the world. It also tickles him to see me. For my own part, [I am] getting used to finding friends scattered about the vast peninsular.

The Anglo Indian takes beds chairs, table, & servants on board who provide meals. For the Indian cook can cook anywhere; one frying pan is all he wants & will serve you up a dinner of 6 courses. Moreover you can have it at any time. The correct hour is always 8; but if you call out at 6.30, 7, 7.30, 8, 8.30[,] 9.0, 9.30, 10.0 “Boy bring dinner”. Dinner comes.

And so we dine & I am initiated into the mysteries of picquet, sleep on deck, have chota hazri & [1 Mar.] reach Kundapur. Fine bungalow, coming right down to the water’s edge, magnificent view across the backwater—Booty’s head quarters. Sing the glory of the cocoanut palm; all the banks & all the islands of all the rivers of S. Canara are cocoanut palms, cocoanut palms, cocoanut palms. You look North & you see cocoanut palms, you look South & you see cocoanut palms you look East & you see cocoanut palms you look West & you see cocoanut palms; Mangalore is cocoanut palms. Great feathery fans of green resting on brown trunks. This is South Canara.

I have said Kundapur is Booty’s head quarters, but no other Europeans live there; so his wife stays at Mangalore when he goes out into camp. Mangalore is chief station of district, & head quarters of Collector & assistant Collector, but Booty is head assistant Collector & has head quarters of his own[;] he is also head assistant magistrate—the two things always go together—unlike Campbell & Adie who being a year junior are only assistant collectors & assistant magistrates. By the way, though, I should say that this is only an “acting” appointment of Booty’s; but you will find out when you have been in India some time that people are very rarely what they seem, they are only “acting”. Do not read a double entendre!

A ride in the morning, Booty tries cases, lawn tennis, dinner, picquet & bed; so a few days at Kundapur. [5 Mar.] Then out into camp {8}.

Now as “going into camp” is a thing which nearly all Government servants out here, have to do for a large part of their time, perhaps a few words in explanation may not be amiss.

In the first place you will observe that whether a man is in the ICS, is “forest officer”, or “policeman” or a multitude of other things his work will range over a considerable area, & though he will have a head quarters at a station, if his work is to be properly done he will frequently have to spend days & nights (for transit is slow) away from that station. No doubt some men might be inclined to shirk outside work & stay in a sociable station as long as possible. To prevent this there are a† certain regulations. In the first place ICS men are obliged to spend I believe at least 5 months out of a year in camp, & I think most other services have a similar rule. Moreover when out in camp a man draws T.A (Travelling Allowance), so many rupees a day according to his position, or if he “marches” more than 20 miles in the day so much per mile.

You will at once perceive that this is reasonable because he has to keep up his establishment at head quarters as well as that which he takes with him & the object is to encourage rather than discourage going out into camp. A man is “out in camp” whenever he is away from his head quarters, whether he is stopping at a friend’s bungalow, in a “traveller’s bungalow”, or actually under canvas.

Now get out of your head all such things as hotels, inns, restaurants, & general shops, & you will see that it is necessary to carry your whole house about with you;—tents, tables, chairs, beds, bedding, cooking utensils, bread, butter, biscuits, jam, soda water & all the required European stores to say nothing of your servants themselves & your personal luggage. Chickens, rice, & a few similar things you will be able to obtain wherever you go.

The sum total of all the things you have to carry about with you is known down in these parts as your “Saman”. The only method of carrying saman is by bullock cart & as the average rate of progression by one of these is 2 miles an hour, you will see at once that you will not be able to cover any great distance in a day, & further that one part of your saman must precede & another follow you.

If you can avoid it you do not travel in the middle of the day, so that marches are of 2 kinds[,] morning marches & evening marches.

Booty is to do “Jamabundy” {9} in the Udipi taluk (a taluk is something like a county). So after breakfast his boy & his cook start off with one bandy (cart) containing inter alia:—beds & bedding table & chairs, cooking utensils & most of European stores, to go to Kota about 7 miles off. Thither after tea drive Percy & I in dog cart, & after a bit we dine, play picquet & go to bed. In the meantime my boy & Booty’s Peons arrive with the rest of the Saman in another cart.

In most places in S. Canara there is a traveller’s bungalow, looked after by a caretaker, & possibly containing some furniture; at Kota it is out of repair, so Booty has previously had tents sent on. In addition to all this, Booty’s “Office” ie his Office Clerks, & his official books, table etc, etc all follow him about from place; his second sais {10} has brought his second horse; one of his Peons (these are official servants) has brought my bicycle.

After dinner Cook & boy start on again 8 miles to Bremarwaer {11} crossing a ferry on the way, & [6 Mar.] Booty & I proceed in the morning in dog cart, & stay there all day. Next march is to be 15 miles into Purdur {12} where is first centre for Jamabundy. We settle to drive first half, & ride, Percy on horse, self on bike, the second half.

[7 Mar.] We make an early start & at the end of 7 miles find Booty’s horse & my bicycle awaiting us; & so we ride on together till within 2 or 3 miles of Purdur, & then I determine to ride on ahead to get my bath before Booty turns up. So I go on & at the end of another mile I notice a man on in front with a horn, & I gradually become aware that he is making a point of keeping in front of me; every now & then he turns round, sees me & hastens on blowing the horn.

At last I pass him & come upon a conclave of villages holding up a triumphal arch for me to pass under; the Tasseldar {13} is at their head; all respectfully salaam, the tom toms beat the native musicians play their strange harmonies; & so with every sign of reverent appreciation accompanying me I pass onwards to the bungalow clad in blue cycling shorts & socks, a flannel shirt & a topi.

At the time, I supposed they had mistaken me for the Head Assistant Collector for of course they did it all over again when he turned up; but I am not so certain about it now, for knowing that I was with him they could hardly have done less.

In this land a white face always commands respect, & it has often seemed odd to me—who am not really connected in any way with the Raj—that as I passed along the road on my bicycle the native[s] should bow down before me on all sides. But these things are beginning to cease to surprise me.

A few words about clothing. All European clothing is, of course, utterly different from native costumes, & accordingly I don’t suppose one set of clothes appears to the native more odd or more proper than any other.

I suppose it is quite likely that certain fond people at home imagine that the magistrate of a district turns up to his court in a top hat & black coat or at least in a linen shirt & a respectable suit of clothes, whereas as a matter of fact he wears just what he commentably well pleases, which will probably mean a tennis shirt & a suit which a self respecting artisan might think twice before putting on.

Booty has come & we have had Chota. This brings me to say that on the subject of meals of which I wrote in my first encyclical I have yet another variation to give which prevails in S. Canara viz:—“Early tea” (tea & toast) on rising say at 6.30. Chota hazri (Buttered eggs, toast marmalade etc with coffee) after the morning’s exercise say at 9 o’c; Breakfast—a substantial meal—at 12 with wet {14} drinks—you will understand this ridiculous remark—tea at 5 & dinner at 8. “What a lot to eat in a day in a hot climate” You† probably say, & so it is; personally I always used to try to cut down the amount of breakfast.

“Jamabundy”!—spelt up here Jamabandy according to the prevalent method of spelling—“what on earth is that?” {15} Well I wasn’t in much better position myself, for when I had asked about it, people had talked in a vague sort of way about revenue—land settlement—potehls {16}—shanbhogues {17}. And so this afternoon we were to start doing Jamabundy; I think there is a sort of fascination about the word & I will talk about nothing for a little in order to give you time to conjure up all sorts of weird things in connection with it, to piece together all the odd assortment of ideas which you have got in connection with the duties of the collector of a district. Go to sleep & dream about it—Jam—a—bundy!

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[8 Mar.] Wake up! It is time to go down to the temple square where Jamabundy is to be held! Arrived: a crowd of comparatively well dressed natives sitting inside, & of worse dressed waiting outside having badges on; we go inside & walk to the end where there are 3 chairs, 2 for us, & one for the Tasseldar (the head of the taluk), the others squatting as is their wont on the floor. Who are these? Are these the potehls & the shanbhogues respectively? No the potehls & shanbhogues are all inside. Those Outside† are the Ugranis {18}. What is an Ugrani?

To-day we only do preliminary work; vague talk about things I do not understand “Stitiberries” or something of that sort, & occasionally a shanbhogue or a potehl comes up to make explanations; the next afternoon we set to work to go through the papers; & I gradually find out what it is all about. The potehl is the headman of the village & it is his business to collect the land revenue. I believe all the land in the Madras Presidency belongs to the government & everyone pays rent for what they have. The potehl makes out a return, showing a few general statistics;—the number of people in the village, the revenue due, the number of people unvaccinated, of cattle killed by wild beasts etc etc. Then several of these reports go together, & the shanbhogue who is an accountant attends to the accounts. For each set of villages Booty has the shanbhogue, the potehls & the Ugranis who are their official servants up before him, sees whether they are fit for their work, & puts a few questions to them connected with the reports, & in fact general[ly] “inspects”.

Nothing very romantic! But if you like, you can say that these people are the fingers of the great Raj—meaning thereby the English Government—of which the Indian Civil Servants are the hands. It is by these people that the rural villagers who perhaps have never seen the white man, come ultimately in contact with his rule. And Jamabundy reduced to its elements is the inspection of revenue collecting, & it is in his capacity of revenue collector that the chief ICS man in a district is known as The Collector, while at the same time he is Head Magistrate, & President of Taluk boards.

One day the Tasseldar said that there was a special festival on at the temple with a temple play, & would we come down & see it; Booty said that the last time he had been to see one of these performances, he had not got back till daylight; the Tasseldar said that if it would please his honour to come, he would see that it began early. So after dinner about 9.30 we saw coming up the hill a torchlight procession, who—having waited till we had finished the particular partie of picquet in which we were engaged—conducted us down to the back of the temple, where there was a sort of broad pathway lined on both sides by rows of spectators, & at the end 3 or 4 chairs for ourselves, & for the more important of the natives who sat down on being so requested by the head assistant collector.

Our position may be perhaps call[e]d the Royal Box, the broad pathway was the stage, & for the footlights, a native on either hand held out a metal pan of oil in which floated a wick. Between us & the “stage” a vase of tapers glowed with odoriferous light, over our heads swung the punkah, strange figures of natives squatted all around among the artificially planted palms, & slowly as the strange play proceeded, ebbed away the hours of night.

The play was an old mythological story of battle, & nearly all the characters were warriors, but such women as there were were represented by boys. Of course there was little or none of what we understand by acting, & there was something more of the pantomime than of the drama. Tom tom[,] tom tom, tom tom, went on all the time & all the warriors danced. You know how excited a boy gets—a boy of 10 or 12 say—when he gets an unexpected holiday or something of the sort, how he jumps up turns round, dances about; so danced these warriors to the sound of the tom tom. Each new player before coming on to the stage stands behind a curtain, which allows you to see his legs & his head, stands with his back to the audience & proceeds to jump about like mad; the greater warrior he is the more he jumps about before he is allowed to come on; at last the tom tom waxes wild & furious & with a yell & a whoop he flings aside the curtain & rushes forward on to the stage jumping & twisting & comes suddenly to a dead stand.

The dialogue of the play was conducted in strict Classical Canarese, and there was a certain amount of definite plot carried into execution, but by far the greater amount of time was taken up by the dances. Thus four warriors would be determining to go out to fight & they would come in & dance round the stage to the accompaniment of tom tóm tom, tom tóm tom, .…, & they would go out again & come in & dance (or rather jump) round to tóm tom tom, tóm tom tom, tóm tom tom, .… & then again to tom tom tóm, tom tom tóm, & again to tóm tititititi tóm tititititi tóm .…, & so on perhaps twenty different processions round the stage ending up with something very fast & furious quite unrepresentable in words with a final tóm with which to come to an abrupt conclusion.

So the play played itself on, every now [&] again one of the human footlights (who took care always to keep his lamp in front of the performers) would come forward & get fresh oil or a fresh wick, every now & again someone would bring us fresh tapers, every now & again the tom tom would stop or change its rhythm. At last the first part of the play comes to and end, and engarlanded & accompanied by torches we reach again our bungalow in time to get 2 or 3 hours sleep before the first grey sign of an early dawn, undisturbed by the distant sound of the tom tom which plays on to the second part till daylight is broad & distinct.

What more have I to tell you of my life in South Canara, of our early marches starting by the light of the opalescent moon, of the welcomes that we received at the various centres, of the bananas with which we were presented, of the tender cocoanuts which we drank, of the temples & statues which we saw, behold you must endeavour to picture them to yourselves out of your imagination.

Neither shall I stop to tell you of [21 x 26 Mar.] our return to Mangalore {19}, of the surprising growth of Doris Marjorie, of golf, of the club, of the calls which I paid in Booty’s bullock carriage or [4 x 9 Apr.] of my departure by B.I steamer after a vast amount of uncertainty as to its arrival.

Steamer, Calicut, Katpadi, fade out of view, & it is 9.15 PM when a tired & famished traveller who has journeyed 150 miles in 12 hours & enjoyed all the warmth that the tropics can provide in April, is put out at the flag station Nellore.

With him is a small bag which a coolie starts to carry, & while the light of the moon prevents the possibility of any mutually unpleasant meeting with the creature that walks on its belly, he explains to the coolie “Mr Campbell’s bungalow”—“Captain Ashworth’s bungalow” & the coolie nods. Presently while the traveller proposes to go straight on, the coolie points to turn off to the left. Can the traveller have forgotten, or have C & A moved? the traveller takes the coolie’s word for it, & soon arrives at a strange bungalow where he only just fails to be embraced by a lady—young & beautiful—who takes him for her husband. Thence a straight march to the right place where Ashworth—but no Campbell—& also dinner. “I hope you haven’t waited dinner.” “Yes I have, but its† not very late; I am afraid you have walked, I sent a bandy to the station, wash & let us set to.” And the traveller did so. It might perhaps seem, that there would be some awkwardness in arriving at the house of a friend, when that friend was absent, having sent no word that you were coming—I had wired both Ashworth & Campbell [not] knowing the latter was out in camp with no telegraph station—& in stopping there several days without any news from him. But this is not so in India. Of course as it was, I knew several of the people in Nellore, & in particular Ashworth with whom I was living; but even without these advantages there would have been nothing particularly strange. On the contrary it seemed the most natural thing in the world.

I went down to the club & played lawn tennis & billiards, I rode out on my bicycle, I played round the links at golf, I dined out, in company with Ashworth, [10 Apr.] I went to church on Easter Sunday, the first time since I left Delhi (Oh Oh Oh, 1st in train Agra–Bombay, 2nd on steamer to Mangalore 3rd 4th 5th out in camp, 6th & 7th in Mangalore where church is being retiled!) & last but not least I joined in the gymkhana which was held on the polo ground. This gymkhana was great fun, & as most of the events included riding I was but a pony (all except very big horses are called ponies here) of an absentee, & took part in the tie tying race, surprise parcel race, hitting polo ball & other things. The first two of these, consisted in galoping† up to a lady who tied on an evening tie, or arrayed you in wondrous costume, mount again & round the flag home; hitting the polo ball I found could not be done with great rapidity; a leisurely walk was all I could manage & even so I sometimes missed it. I also went in for & won a bicycle tortoise race.

So I went along very comfortably, & in the meantime I had a letter from Campbell who had just got word from me, (one of the wires I sent him having been lost), saying he was coming in to the station in a day or two, & it was not worth while for me to join him in camp. So he came in, & it was very pleasant to see him again.

One day we both played polo; of course you can imagine how excessively brilliant my own play was. He, too, is only just beginning, but is practising now assiduously. Four years ago what should we have said if anyone had foretold.

[23 Apr.] And so another week has slipped away, & I have repacked my greater & lesser trunks for a new voyage. To-morrow} to Madras where I shall stop with Michie Smith; then to Ceylon where possibly I shall meet an old friend of my year {20} who I see has just been put in a high position in the Botanical Gardens at Perideniya, & then on to the Britannia {21} where I hope to find P. Alden {22}.

I think being in a station (on a holiday) is a little like being on board ship, one doesn’t have anything to bother about. One never carries any money with one, nor any papers of any kind. One just goes on vegetating. A short space now of having to think & then a return to a placed state of torpor.

A few general impressions I will give before I conclude.

In my first encyclical I think I described an Indian bungalow as a place with outer walls more or less, but with no inner walls to speak of. One is led to this idea because the vast lattice windows & lattice doors seem to occupy the greater part of the wall, & in winter in the south are always open; so that the walls might be described as a “number of openings joined together with masonry”. In the summer, however, one shuts up the house during the day, to keep out the heat, just as in England (in Winter) one shuts it up to keep out the cold, & then one finds that the outer walls can be made pretty tight. Inside, one sits under a punkah, & so long as the night is cool you will see one is able to obtain a very fairly comfortable temperature—probably well over 80°—indoors. But the rub comes when the nights get hot too. I was told that I should get a taste of the hot weather if I stayed in India through April; but I understand that this year it can hardly be said quite to have come yet (April 23) & though the day temperature is about 100° & the night about 74°, I do not find that I notice the heat as much as when I came before in December when the thermometer stood very much lower. This is partly because I have grown into an Indian method of existence & partly because I came here from S Canara where though the temperature did not go above 90° in the day, it scarcely went below 80° in the night, & where if the breeze or the punkah ceased for 2 minutes one’s hands presented the appearance of a morning field after a heavy dew.

I have written above that I have grown into an Indian method of existence; this refers a little bit to the clothes which I wear; it came to me as a surprise the other day that what my boy was calling my thick grey suit, was what I had had especially made in England to be cool, & my tailor called it a “tropical”. Also the calm determination to attempt nothing at all in the middle of the day: thus from 10–4 one would never think of going out of doors unless it was absolutely necessary, of course if a man had to go to office or anything of the kind, he would go, but he would do so extremely leisurely, & would wear sun spectacles. One hardly ever thinks of walking here at all, & in the middle of the day it would be ridiculous.

(I am writing now in the train, so please excuse all defects).

You will see moreover from all this, that life out here does not tend to make one prepared for warm weather at home; whether it be the heat of the sun, for at home one has no topi; whether it be exercise in the middle of the day, for here one never takes it; whether its be for hot nights, for out here one sleeps out in the open air or under a punkah; whether it be to curb ones† thirst, for out here 6 or 7 large sodas (& they are large compared with our biggest at home) is a by no means uncommon daily allowance, & I am told that in the hot weather it may amount to double that figure.

It is rather a curious thing that people seem so very rarely to have cold food to eat. And I remember being very much surprised at home when I was told by a man who sold hot water dishes & the like that he sent a great many out to India. The first may perhaps be accounted for by the rapidity with which many things go bad, & the latter by the fact that there is a tendency for things to cool very quickly owing to the constant draught which there is in the rooms; & nothing is more unpleasant in hot weather than tepid food.

Let me turn to quite another subject:—the Rupee. Don’t be alarmed I am not going to discuss bimetallism or the gold standard, but to speak of its general effective value out here. When you come out, you find you get somewhere about 15 rupees for a sovereign, each of them looks like a two bob bit, but you [are] inclined to reckon them as a little over a shilling. And then each rupee is divided into 16 annas—at present almost exactly pence—& each anna into 12 pies.

When you learn that you can buy a chicken for 2 annas or send a coolie across Calcutta & back for the same sum, & that the wages of a good cook are perhaps 12 rupees a month—& finds himself—you begin to think that living out here must be very cheap, & that the Rupee goes a very long way. But India is essentially the place where pies mount up into annas, & annas into rupees, & moreover of course all “European stores” are abnormally expensive. Things which you could get for 6d at home you will very likely be called on to pay one Rupee for out here. And so gradually one builds up for oneself a new system of relative values & the rupee figures among them on its own lines & one forgets that there is such a thing as an exchange rate which make[s] so many rupees worth a pound.

It is amusing to note that at home one pays 1d for soda bottles & 2d or so for their contents; out here the empty bottles are reckoned often at 5 annas each, while the contents are only worth 8 or 10 annas a dozen. Of course these are not strictly “European stores”, because the soda water is made out here (& it does not contain as I believe it does in England carbonate of soda itself)

“Native servants” might form the subject of a book in itself. The Anglo Indian is fond of remarking on their incompetence, & when you first come out you expect to see them bungle everything. As a matter of fact they don’t, & gradually you begin to build up out of your experience a belief that the Anglo Indian is very hard to please, & that his servant is a very well meaning & intelligent person; but the moment you have got to regard him in this light you begin to see how often he fails, & what a lot of valuable things he spoils by his stupidity & carelessness.

There is rather a good story told which illustrates the “boy”’s method of packing for travelling. A man had a new lamp with glass chimney & globe, & wishing to go into camp he had a special case made to hold the glass parts to prevent breaking, & explained to his boy that he must never carry them about (travelling) without carefully putting them in the case. The boy said he understood. But at the next halt came to him with a long face saying they were quite smashed. On enquiry it was found he had packed them very carefully in the case, but finding just before starting that he had an empty soda water bottle not packed, he wrapped that up in paper & put it inside also! Little acts of petty larceny are particularly attractive to them, while valuable things they will very rarely steal partly I suppose because of the probability of detection. Even on your behalf they will sometimes make strenuous endeavours to save a few annas, perhaps by fair means perhaps not. I remember a lady saying that when she got home from a visit, her bearer (who had been with her of course) showed her a boot polishing brush in great triumph, which he had bagged from the bearer of another visitor.

One other point about servants may surprise you. In the North when you go out to dinner you always take your boy with you.

Of course one never believes anything that a native says if he has any reason for perverting the truth. This is the great difficulty in hearing cases; the evidence is almost always conflicting & it is only a question of which of either is to be believed. A missionary himself told me the following; one day he—or one of his colleagues—went down to talk—I think, to some of their converts—upon the Christian Virtue of Truth; after he had talked & had answered questions for some time, he said to them;—“now supposing I was charged with an offence which you knew I had committed, what would you do?” “The sahib” they answered with one voice “is our father & our mother what could we do but swear he was innocent”

The hindu† mind could never feel this was doubtful for one moment; to him, to abandon a friend in the hour of need that would be base, to defend him would be the only possible course, even at the risk of incurring the penalties for perjury which a fastidious & fatuous Raj may endeavour to inflict.

And now as I have mentioned the missionary I suppose I may as well say a few words about him. In the first place don’t confuse him with the Padré who is the Church of England parson provided by the government for the spiritual requirements of the English speaking population; so far as I am aware he is never a missionary in any sense of the word.

The true missionary is the man who is sent out by private societies to convert the native to Christianity. I don’t know how he really feels, but I can’t help supposing that if he is quite honest he must be prepared to admit that he is somewhat of a failure. He comes out prepared to treat the native as a brother, he finds that unless he rules him with a firm hand he is regarded as a fool; that what he intends for kindness is regarded as fear; that unless he adopts forcible measures his punkah rope is not pulled properly, that he is cheated by his servants, & imposed upon all round. He expects to find opposition to Christianity, he finds indifference. He expects at any rate to make some converts among men of caste, he succeeds in attracting a few among the leather-workers & sweepers, men who have no caste to lose, men who are so low in the scale that the crossing-sweeper in England is high compared with them, men who having nothing to lose & everything to gain by adopting another religion. With these he spends hours of his day arguing out some abstruse doctrinal point. Converted to Christianity these men are freed from the old ethical regulations—feeble as they were—& are hardly constrained by the new.

In his educational work, he tries to inculcate moral principles as well as intellectual, he finds that his students profiting by the position they are able to obtain through their intellectual achievements, make use of it—as the native almost invariably does—for the purpose of tyranny & extortion.

Can it be wondered at that I say that when he is honest he must regard himself somewhat as a failure.

No doubt I have exaggerated, no doubt my ignorance is very great, but the fact remains that the results are very minute. He consoles himself with the thought that he is sowing the good seed, & it is not in his power to determine the fruit which is to be produced.

I am not saying that I disapprove of the missionary or his works; & you must remember that it is not he who is undermining the old religion & any little good it may do but the force of circumstance, the inroad of education, which is I suppose inevitable. The more educated have ceased to believe in Hinduism; are we going to give them anything else?

It has been said that the Anglo Indian is to blame for not intermingling more with the Native. Practically all the upper class Englishmen in India are Officials. Among them the taking of a bribe is almost absolutely unknown. The native always takes bribes; as a whole he is about the most corrupt person in that way you could wish to see in the world. He is not above accepting a bribe from the poorest & meanest, or from forcing a contribution of 25 per cent of the small government dole presented to the starving famine stricken peasant. It is hardly to be wondered at that the white man views him with contempt.

A few short descriptive notes on different points:—

The Presidency of Madras stands out from the rest of India; it has its own way of doing things. By the rest it is regarded as benighted, but it (I of course refer to the Anglo Indian world) is quite sati[s]fied with itself. As it is the home of a vast variety of languages, nearly all the “boys” speak English. It is very rarely cold in Madras.

It should never be forgotten that the Mohammedan & the Hindu exist side by side, the former being generally the conquering race; they are always antagonistic. Both are equally unscrupulous, the Mahommedan† perhaps more intelligently crafty, the Hindu more obese!

In speaking of the native going by train I think I forgot to be† mention how devoted he always is to travelling.

If a coolie brings a note or something to you from a friend & you are out when he arrives, he does not leave it & go away, but sits down & waits even if it be several hours; this he does not regard in any sense as a hardship.

The night punkah coolie is fond of going to sleep (you have 2 for the night), then you wake very damp & perhaps bitten by mosquitoes; to rouse him by voice would rouse the house & ruin your lungs, the only safe thing is a basin of water.

There is no such thing as privacy in India; you can’t shut your door & draw your chair up to the fire; you can never be certain at any hour of the day or night that a native has not pushed aside the curtain, entered with his noiseless feet, come up beside you waiting with some note or paper till it shall be your good pleasure to attend to him.

It was not without a good deal of sadness that I set my face to say goodbye to India, the land in which I had renewed so many old friendships, had made so many new ones, & had been treated with such universal kindness.

India is a marvellous monument to England’s greatness. The immense power which she has, the immense amount of work which she has done in so vast a country, in so short a time, with such a handful of her citizens. The extraordinary justice honour & fidelity of her officials [must leave] {23} an imprint upon history which the finger of time can never obliterate.

The official in India—& under this title must be included the Educationalist & the Railway people as well as the others—stands for trustworthiness as the native stands for corruption.

The Anglo Indian is thoroughly English,—one is surprised perhaps at first to find him not in any sense a Colonial—& as such he possesses the English faults as well as the English virtues but he is charmingly hospitable, & he undoubtedly does his best for the native & endeavours to carry out the task which has been set before him.

The native is the very reverse, docile, & beautifully courteous he fawns upon strength & oppresses weakness.

Such are the races which fate has layed† one across the other like the knife across the fork. Who can predict how it will end? {24}

A couple of quasi postscripts must end my third encyclical.

[24 Apr.] I left Nellore on Sunday morning April 24, driving a friend’s dog cart to the railway station in the dark at 4.30 A.M; & I bid goodbye to Campbell on the platform, & left him standing there looking just as he had done when I arrived nearly 5 months before.

After a warm days railway journey I reached Madras & drove straight to Michie Smith’s house. He has a large compound of 11 acres, & in this & the next he has made a golf course of no mean dimensions. He took me about his grounds & showed me his flowers & trees, & presently we went to the club where I met Moore—who had so kindly entertained me on the previous occasion—& several other friends.

[25 Apr.] Next morning early I played golf with M. Smith & 2 of his friends all of whom played pretty well but fortunately I did not make a fool of myself, & drove over ponds etc much to my own surprise.

In the day I did some shopping & in the afternoon called on Mrs Moore & went on to the club, & came back & met at dinner a mathematician—Stuart—whom M. Smith had kindly asked to meet me.

[26 Apr.] And so next day the time wore on for me to go; & M. Smith had been very good to me, had shown me all over his instruments, & had given me some photographs taken at the eclipse by our instrument, & I had had a very pleasant time.

And I took train, & a day brought me [27 Apr.] to Tuticorin, & a nights passage with rather rough weather [28 Apr.] to Colombo.

And now my second postscript must be about Ceylon.

One always had thought of Ceylon as a sort of appendage to India like the I of Wight to England, & even though I knew it was under the foreign office & not the India Office I still imagined it would be much the same.

Well I landed & went to an hotel where I found electric punkahs.

Then to Cook’s agency about my passage, & wired up to Parkin saying I should be passing through Peradeniya on my way up to Kandy at 6 P.M & could stop if he met me.

He did meet me, he & the Director of the Botanical Gardens—a Mr Willis of Caius Coll. Cambridge {25}. & they made me get out & come to the bungalow. There I found Mrs Willis late of Girton {26}, so we were all Cambridge. And I stopped there the couple of nights I had to spare, & [29 Apr.] the first morning I drove into Kandy with Parkin & we saw the famous temple & the casket in which is Buddha’s tooth, & we looked down upon the great artificial lake. In the afternoon we walked through the Botanical gardens & then played tennis before dinner.

[30 Apr.] This morning we all drove out & had marvellous views & saw a rock temple with a reclining Buddha.

Then we went over a tea factory. And so after a most delightful 2 days, I come down here {27}, & am writing this before going to bed; to-morrow early to the Britannia!

Ceylon is an enchanting place; everywhere are vast masses of verdure, & trees of every description. The Botanical gardens which are famous throughout the world mainly consist of trees; all kinds of palm, rubber trees, giant bamboos, & multitudes of others, extremely beautiful. The mountain views are grand, & it is not nothing to see tea growing everywhere, & coffee & cocoa scattered about. The only place in India a bit like it to look at that I saw was S. Canara.

Here the S.W. Monsoon is on, with an extra large quantity of rain. So it is comparatively cool. I said I had expected to find Ceylon a mere adjunct of India; but it is in reality much more English; it is not necessary to take one’s bed about with one or even to have a boy. English is understood everywhere (ie I do not know anything about out of the way places).

A most delightful place & with 3 fellow Cantabs a parodise†. Really I think if I had had ½ a dozen friends & had had to put them down in India & Ceylon, so as to be most serviceable to myself I don’t think I could have done better than putting them where they are.

Goodbye India, Goodbye Ceylon.

—————

{1} Some time between 3 April, when Lawrence was still in Mangalore, and the 10th, by which time he had arrived at Nellore. See p. 140.

{2} Great Northern Railway.

{3} The ink changes here.

{4} British-India Steam Navigation Company.

{5} The boats of the Bombay Steam Navigation Company, managed by J. A. Shepherd. See W. H. Coates, The Old ‘Country Trade’ of the East Indies (1911).

{6} Lawrence probably set sail on 25 February. See pp. 106, 115.

{7} i.e. Lawrence’s three days on the boat, 25–28 February.

{8} See 6/18.

{9} The process of settling the amount of land-revenue due from a village, etc., or a written statement of the same. See OED, s.v. jumma, and Hobson-Jobson, s.v. jummabundee.

{10} ‘A servant who attends to horses, a groom’ (OED).

{11} The reading of this word is uncertain. In Fate Has Been Kind, where this passage is quoted, the word is printed simply ‘B—’, so evidently Lawrence or the typesetter couldn’t read the word either. The usual spelling of the place in question is now Brahmavar.

{12} This place-name is now usually spelt Perdur.

{13} The chief (native) revenue official of a tahsil or taluk (administrative divisions). See OED, s.v. tahsildar, and Hobson-Jobson, s.v. tahseeldar.

{14} This probably means ‘alcoholic’. Cf. OED, wet, n.2.

{15} Followed by ‘I expect you have been thinking for some time’, struck through.

{16} A potehl is the head-man of a village. See OED and Hobson-Jobson, s.v. patel.

{17} A shanbhogue is a village clerk or account. See Hobson-Jobson, s.v. shambogue.

{18} The first sentence of this sentence was interlined. A ugrani is a village peon under a patel. See Männer’s Tulu-English Dictionary (1886). Lawrence later describes ugranis as ‘official servants’ of the shambogues and patels.

{19} Lawrence was still ‘in camp’ on 20 March, but had returned to Mangalore by the 27th. See p. 140.

{20} John Parkin.

{21} The RMS Britannia, a P. & O. steamer of 6525 tons.

{22} Percy (later Sir Percy) Alden (1865–1944), social worker and politician; warden of the Mansfield House University Settlement at Canning Town, 1891–1901.

{23} ‘which’ interlined after ‘officials’ and struck through. The words ‘must leave’ have also been struck through, but they appear to be required.

{24} The ink changes here.

{25} John Christopher Willis (1868–1958), Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Ceylon, 1896–1912.

{26} Minnie Willis (née Baldwin). She married J. C. Willis in 1897.

{27} i.e. to Colombo.

† Sic.

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