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Papers of Sir Arthur Eddington Müller, Lauro Severiano (1863–1926) Brazilian politician Item With digital objects
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Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

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Hotel dos Estrangeiros, Rio de Janeiro
Thursday | 1912 Sept 19

My very dear Mother

We are still here at Rio de Janeiro; it is a most beautiful place, the weather is fine and pleasant, but progress is very unsatisfactory. The great characteristic of Brazil is “amanhã” (“tomorrow”) and the delays and muddles of the people who are supposed to be helping us are most vexatious.

The Arlanza arrived in Rio soon after dusk on Sunday. In some ways it was a pity to miss the sail up Rio harbour in daylight but the lights were very beautiful. It is a wonderful harbour winding about, with numbers of islands and mountains everywhere. The Sugar-loaf (about 1200 ft) is an extraordinary steep cone. It has far surpassed my expectations.

We remained on board till the next morning, as I had a Marconigram to say that we should be met the next day. At 8 o’clock Dr Moritze† (the director of Rio observatory {1} [)] and Lee (the Englishman deputed to help us) came on board; {2} after arranging about the instruments, they took us off in a government launch. We were photographed by the newspapers on landing, and then whisked off in a motor-car to this Hotel. It is the swagger hotel though not up to much according to English standards. The Government is entertaining us here—very happily for us—money here has roughly 1/5 the value it has in England. I had to pay 2/8d for a cake of soap. Washing a dress-shirt costs 2/9d, an ordinary shirt 1/–. Carriage of our trunks up to the hotel (for three of us) cost 16/–; the tram-fare for say 1½ miles is 5d; a small bottle of ginger beer is 2/–; apples about ¼ each. The only things admitted into Brazil free of duty are human beings and they have to pay a duty of 2£ to get out again.

The currency here seems very funny[.] I am carrying about in my pocket now over 800,000 reis so am nearly a millionaire. 1000 reis = 1/4½ but its purchasing power is about 3d according to our standards. I am told that the salary of an engine-driver on a railway is (in English money) £900 a year.

We called on Sir William Haggard the British Minister {3} on Monday morning and in the afternoon went with him to be presented to the Minister for Foreign Affairs {4}. Sir William is quite a pleasant man, and we are to go lunch with him today.

They are very eager to entertain us well; but have not taken the least trouble to help us with our baggage. Instead of bringing it off in a special lighter as they undertook to do, they let it get all mixed with the other baggage and go to the custom-house[.] I have spent hours hunting round after it, and Lee is no use or help at all. It was all unloaded yesterday and I watched the process; but they only sent with me a man, who could talk no French or English, so it was very difficult doing anything. Now they tell me a case is missing (though I am sure it was all there yesterday) and I have to go—again with a man who talks nothing but Portuguese—to hunt it up. This has meant another day’s delay. {5}

I have decided to go to Passo Quatro; it is quite a good place and not so far away as Christina or Alfenas. Moritze† is to be there too; he is very pleasant[,] talks English (the worst English I ever heard) and is really doing his best for us I think. The chief objection to Passo Quatro is that all the ministers, ambassadors, reporters and tag rag and bobtail will be going there; but I think we shall not really be disturbed by them. I should have gone to Alfenas, if I could have depended on Lee, but the difficulties are too great when one has no real assistance. {5}

We have been made honorary members of the Club Central here, which is very convenient, as we are a good way from the main city at this Hotel.

The trees and gardens about here are very interesting and the palm-tree avenues in particular are beautiful. I do not think there is any chance of our sailing from here until Oct. 23 and I am looking forward to having a week’s sightseeing and so on before leaving.

We have got English news now up to Sept. 2.

Please keep these letters as I have no other record of events.

With very dear love from
your affectionate son
Stanley

Later (evening)

I had just finished this when the Portuguese gentleman came to go with me to the Customs-house but I was very glad to see with him Perrine of the Argentine expedition, who landed yesterday, and whom I have met in England. He was a great help to us. We motored to the Customs-house and there I found my baggage was all there—nothing missing—so the lost case was a false alarm, and saw it loaded on trucks to be taken to the Station—so we are really getting on.

There was just time to get to Sir William Haggard’s in time for lunch. The other guests were the American Ambassador {6}, Birch the Secretary of the British Legation, Lee, Worthington and another man. These with Lady Haggard & her daughter and our three selves made eleven. It was a very pleasant party; the Haggards & the American Ambassador are very genial and nice. The inevitable newspaper photographer turned up and we had to submit.

After leaving them we went on to the Botanical Gardens, and spent an hour or two there; they are just lovely. Very few flowers, but the trees are wonderful—magnificent avenues of palms, and tropical bushes of all sorts. We shall certainly visit them again.

We may get away tomorrow evening; but I expect it is more likely to be Saturday. There is a break of guage† on the railway at Cruxeiro and the baggage has to be changed over on to another waggon there.

Your loving son
Stanley

—————

Numbered ‘5’ at the head in pencil.

{1} Henrique Morize was Director of the Brazilian National Observatory at Rio de Janeiro from 1908 to 1930.

{2} A vertical line has been drawn in pencil in the margin, probably to mark the phrase ‘and Lee … came on board’.

{3} Sir William Haggard, brother of the novelist Rider Haggard, was British Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Brazil from 1906 to 1914.

{4} Lauro Müller, who was Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1912 to 1917.

{5} A vertical line has been drawn in pencil in the margin by this paragraph.

{6} Edwin V. Morgan, US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Brazil from 1912 to 1933.

† Sic.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

Passa Quatro
1912 Oct 13

My very dear Mother

I almost forgot how far I carried our adventures in my last letter, but I think it was somewhere about Monday last {1}. We had a number of rehearsals on Monday and Tuesday & on Wednesday morning and had got able to do everything quite smoothly. Besides Aguirre and Andrews we had another gentleman M. Seux {2} who lives in the neighbourhood, who was to count seconds for us during totality. Monday was a glorious day, Tuesday good, Wednesday started overcast, and at noon rain began. We regarded this as a very hopeful sign; as hitherto the rainstorms have been short and have cleared the air beautifully. On Thursday morning we were up soon after five-o’clock and went down in heavy rain to load the photographic plate carriers. At eight o’clock we were beginning to get hopeless, but of course went on with the preparations up to the last moment.

About 7∙30 the special train arrived from Rio bringing the President (Marshal Hermes) the Foreign Minister (Dr Lauro Müller) and their wives, the American Ambassador and about thirty other gentlemen. They were received with bands, rockets and crackers—crackers is the regular Brazilian way of demonstrating. Most of the people came and looked round the camp but it was too wet for the President. The American Ambassador sheltered in our shed where our cases are; we like him very much. The rain became heavier as totality drew near; it was not until 5 minutes before totality that the darkness increased noticeably, then it came on very rapidly. It was extremely dark for the time of totality—one could just see one’s watch with difficulty As soon as it was over it grew lighter very quickly.

The owner of the Fazenda, where we were, gave a banquet to the President and his party after the eclipse. Dr Morize, M. Stephanik (leader of the French expedn) and I were invited. M. Stephanik was not able to go. I was next to Morize during the meal, three places away from the President. Fortunately the Secretary to the American embassy was opposite me, so I had someone to talk English to. There were one or two speeches afterwards; but they did not concern us and I had only a very vague notion of what they were about, as they were in Portuguese. After the banquet we were photographed in a group outside the Fazenda in pouring rain—this was the beginning of heaps of newspaper photographs. I have been in eleven different groups. (One photographer caught the Greenwich Expedition at tea (at the camp) I have seen the negative it is very good and amusing.)

The rain continued without stopping all Thursday and until Friday about 4 o’clock. The passage through mud & pools of the Presidential party to the train was very amusing. In the evening we had a feast at this hotel; there were about forty present—our numbers had gradually increased night by night. I had to make a short speech in reply to a toast, and of course thank Dr Morize & compliment him.

On Friday we had lunch at the Fazenda with Sr Hess—the whole of the expeditions with their volunteers. It was very pleasant there, as there were several gentleman friends of his who could speak English well. About 4 o’clock Aguirre[,] Andrews, Davidson, one of Hess’s friends & I went up a hill (in Hess’s property). Quite unexpectedly it cleared up beautifully when we reached the top, and we had a glorious view of sun & clouds on the distant mountains.

Yesterday Saturday we spent the whole day packing and got on well (It had been too wet to do anything before). The sun was very hot in the afternoon. Towards evening there was a most extraordinary sight—the ants began flying. We have two large white ants nests in our field, and these were swarming with the small ants driving away the winged ones. These winged ants were flying off—about 50 a minute to found fresh colonies They are large creatures like dragon-flies. Besides these hundreds of winged garden ants about the size of tiger-moths were flying over the camp; dozens pitched on our canvas huts, and I expect we packed up a great many of them. Just as we were ready to go home a thunderstorm came on. It was a regular tropical deluge and we were kept about 2 hours waiting at the shed The fireflies were very brilliant in spite of the rain and the lightning (though distant) was very vivid. It was really like fairy land (or the last scene in Peter Pan) and quite enjoyable waiting there. We managed to slither home through mud & lakes about 8 o’clock.

We are a small family now. I think we shall not hurry back to Rio but see a little of this neighbourhood. Lee & Worthington are gone, which is a great relief to everybody. We may go to Rio on Wednesday. We sail on Wednesday week—it was impossible to get the baggage down to Rio in time for the earlier boat. {4}

We have a good deal of fun here in spite of everyone being dejected at the result of so much labour. Stephanik & De Souza (Morize’s assistant) are very nice fellows, and Aguirre has been a tremendous help to us, and is a splendid companion here. Atkinson (though he has had an attack of gout) keeps us very lively and is a great favourite everywhere.

The photographs {5} are some of Davidson’s

With very dear love, ever
your affectionate son
Stanley.

The posts here are very irregular I got Winnie’s letter on Tuesday morning and yours on Thursday just after the eclipse. If you see an article in the Times it will be mine—but as the eclipse was a failure they may not print it.

—————

Numbered ‘8’ at the head in pencil.

{1} 7th.

{2} Pierre Seux. See the Report in MNRAS, lxxiii, 386.

{3} Marshal Hermes Rodrigues da Fonseca, President of Brazil from 1910–14.

{4} The last two sentences have been marked with a vertical line in pencil in the margin.

{5} These photographs presumably accompanied the letter, but are no longer with it.