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Papers of Sir Arthur Eddington Carneiro, Jerónimo José (fl. 1919), Portuguese plantation owner Item With digital objects
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Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

Roça Sundy | Principe
Tuesday April 29.

My very dear Mother

Just a month to the eclipse; and today we have all our belongings at the site selected, and have started the work of erection.

We got our first sight of Principe at 9 o’clock in the morning of April 23, and it looked very charming. We had seen no land since leaving Cape Verde Islands; although we went within forty miles or so of Africa, it was always too misty to see the coast. We did not pass any ships. Occasionally we saw schools of porpoises playing about, and plenty of flying-fish, but no whales or sharks.

The island is thickly wooded down to the water’s edge, and looked very green after St. Vincent and S. Thiago. We dropped anchor about 11 o’clock in the bay of S. Antonio, and immediately after breakfast, a launch came out bringing our hosts who were expecting us. We had sent a wireless message to say we were on the Portugal, and the people out here had heard from Lisbon about the expedition.

I must first explain who are the principal people we have to do with on this island.

Mr. Carneiro is our host. He is rather a young man, and owns the largest private plantation. He has only been out here two years, but his family have had the plantation a long while. In Lisbon he was a well-known bull-fighter. (The Portuguese bull-fight is not like the Spanish, the horses and bulls are not killed.[)]

Mr Gragera is the manager for the Sociedade de Agricultura Colonial. He lives some way out of S. Antonio, and offered us sites on his plantation; but we found Mr Carneiro’s more favourable.

The Governor a very delightful man. He likes to try to speak rudimentary English, and to teach us Portuguese. He always collars my Portuguese dictionary when he sees me, and hunts up things to say.

The Judge

The Harbour-Master

The Curador, who is responsible for the imported labour—quite a young man.

The Treasurer

A clerk of Mr Carneiro’s, who lives in his house at S. Antonio and can speak a little English sometimes.

Mr Atalia, Mr Carneiro’s manager at Roça Sundy, the house where we are staying for the eclipse.

Mr Lewis | Mr Wright {1} Two negro’s from Sierra Leone who are the sole staff of the cable-station here. They are British, and interpret for us. But, of course they are only with us now and then. Mr Lewis came to meet us on the ship, but since then he has not been well, and we have seen more of Mr. Wright.

You see I do not mention any ladies—there do not seem to be any. The first night, there was a lady at dinner at Mr Carneiro’s, who spoke English very well, but she went to S. Thomé the same evening by the “Portugal”. We have not met any ladies since.

We were met on board by the Governor, Mr. Carneiro and Mr. Gragera, and we soon found that we were in clover. Everyone has been very kind, and they are not only anxious to give us a good time, but give us every help we need for our work. There are very good facilities here for everything we need, and our progress so far has been easy. You will know before getting this letter whether we have been successful; but I am afraid the weather prospects are not at all good from what we hear, and we shall be lucky if we get a clear sky.

We stayed until Monday morning (28th) at Mr Carneiro’s house in S. Antonio. It is a very nice new house not quite finished yet. We spent Thursday quietly. On Friday we started at 8∙a.m. to see two sites on the property of the Sociedade Agricultura Colonial. We went in a car drawn by two mules running on the lines of the light railway. We went first to Mr Gragera’s house Roça Esperança. It was too hemmed in by mountains to be a suitable site. We had breakfast there and afterwards went on to Roça S. Joaquin on the west coast of the island. This would have been a satisfactory site for us, if we had not afterwards found a better one. We arrived back about three o’clock.

On Saturday, we again started at 8 o’clock this time mounted on mules to visit Mr Carneiro’s chief plantation Roça Sundy. It was rather more than an hour’s ride (chiefly at a walking pace). The house is near the north-west corner of the island, away from the mountains, and on a plateau overlooking a bay about 500 feet below. We had noticed this house as we approached the island on the steamer. There was little difficulty in deciding that this was the most favourable spot; and there happened to be an enclosed piece of ground close to the house which just suited us. We look straight on to it from our bedroom window. It is sheltered on the east by a building and is open towards the sea on the west and north—just right for the eclipse. We arranged to have a small pier built for the coelostat to stand on, and to have our belongings brought over on Monday.

On Sunday they took us for a picnic at Ponto Mina, a point in the harbour of S. Antonio. We went by motor-launch. Mr Carneiro, the Treasurer, Curador, harbour-master and Mr Wright went with us. We landed and climbed up a little way to get a view, then had pic-nic breakfast, and afterwards went on in the launch all round the harbour. We saw a great shark close to the boat.

At four o’clock that afternoon we both played tennis with the Curador and the Judge. We had three very good sets and enjoyed the games very much. The court was on asphalte. There is no one else who plays tennis on the island now, so I think the other two were very glad to have the game—the Judge especially seemed to enjoy himself. I expect we shall get some more games when we return to the city. (We always call it the city—but S. Antonio is only a tiny village.)

The evenings at S. Antonio were very pleasant, sitting on the balcony in cool white clothes, with the sea just in front of us. Usually two or three of our friends here came round after dinner. Mr Carneiro has a splendid pianola and gramophone with any quantity of records—grand opera, etc. so we have had a lot of music. Punctually at nine o’clock the party breaks up and everyone goes to bed. Here in the country we keep earlier hours and bed-time is half-past eight!

Of course it is pretty hot here and moist, but I do not find the climate at all trying. We have rain for a short time almost every day, often very heavy, and I have found the macintosh very useful. There are not many mosquitoes, but we always sleep under curtains; and I take 3 grains of quinine every morning—the usual practice. The plantations are very beautiful, cocoa trees, bananas and bread-fruit trees growing together with a few coffee trees in places. The views of the mountains and the sea, with yellow sandy beaches are very fine. There are a great variety of butterflies, some of them very large and brightly-coloured.

The nicest fruit here is the pine-apple which grows wild; they have a very good flavour. The bananas are scarcely so good as in Madeira (except the red ones are very good); they grow to a great size, larger than our largest cucumbers, but the biggest are only good for roasting. We also have paw-paws and custard-apples, but I do not care so much for them. The meals are according to the usual foreign fashion, but they always have a meat or egg dish at petit déjeuner, so it is more like an English breakfast. We have afternoon tea—I think specially for our benefit as the Portuguese do not generally take it.

We came out here to Roça Sundy on Monday afternoon, riding on mules part of the way and then meeting a carriage which drove us the rest of the way. Our baggage turned up about five o’clock.

I have been writing this at odd moments and it has now got to Thursday. We have had a pretty busy time. We spent Tuesday & Wednesday erecting the two huts, and this morning we have begun setting up the apparatus. It rained very heavily last night—very conveniently for testing the waterproofness of the huts; they stood the deluge splendidly.

It is very comfortable here and we have all the assistance and facilities we need. About 600 native labourers are at work on the plantation and they have carpenters and mechanics at work so it is easy to get any small things required. We get on well with Mr. Atalia; I think it is pretty lonely for him out here and he is glad to have company. He speaks French to about the same extent that I do and we hold quite long conversations in the evenings. He was a cavalry officer and fought for the monarchy in 1910; after the republic was formed, he found it best to leave Portugal and lived in Spain & France until he came here four years ago. He is going to take us to hunt monkeys when we have time; there are large numbers in the plantation; they eat the cocoa, but they are very timid. Mr Carneiro has a most amusing little monkey at his house in the city, and it is very funny to see the monkey the cat and a tiny puppy all playing together.

I expect we shall be here about a week, getting on as far as we can without unpacking the mirror. We shall then return to the city until May 14. After that we shall be here continuously until we finish (after the eclipse). By May 14 the rain ought to be at an end. I do not want to unpack the mirror too soon because it will gradually tarnish.

I received your letter dated March 14 on arrival at Principe; there was also a letter from Newall (forwarded from Greenwich). That is all that has reached here yet. We expect the next mail about May 7. I was very glad to have news of you, but it seems very ancient news.

Mr Atalia has just showed us a tiny monkey brought in by one of the men. They shot its mother and it was clinging on to her; it would be about two months old. It is very tame and very mischievous.

I hope all is going well at home. The garden ought to be looking very pretty now. I hope to be back before the strawberries are over, we do not get any thing to equal them here

With very dear love from
your affectionate son
Stanley

[finished Friday May 2] {2}

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Numbered ‘7th’ at the head. One passage has been marked in pencil, and in one case emended, by a later hand.

{1} These two names are braced together, one above the other.

{2} The square brackets are in the MS.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Winifred Eddington

Transcript

Roça Sundy | Principe
May 5.

My dear Winifred

We are pretty well advanced in our work of erection and are taking a holiday today so I may as well start a letter to you. It seems ages since I started off in a rush in the taxi from the Observatory, and as I have only got Mother’s letter of March 14 as yet I do not know what has been happening to you for a long while—indeed I do not know what has been happening in the world in general—whether peace has been signed or any important events have occurred. I hope Punch is well and getting some walks, wish him many happy returns of his birthday from me; I expect you will not get this much before that event.

It was awfully nice having nearly four weeks in Madeira. I do not think the delay made much difference to us; if we could have gone on at once and reached here a month earlier we could have got some check photographs, though it would have been a rush getting the instruments ready in time. Failing that, there was not much object in arriving here earlier; and as things here have been managed very expeditiously, we are now making time for a week.

Cottingham & I get along very well, and I find him a very useful companion and good company. He is just 50, so, of course, is not fond of very much exercise, and generally preferred pottering round in Madeira and talking to the people; so I sometimes went off alone. For our last ten days I was very glad to find a more active companion in Geoffrey Turner, a very jolly boy keen on butterflies, on swimming and on chess, so we had several common interests.

I expect Mother sends on my letters to some of our relatives, so I did not mention in them, that I played roulette, of course not seriously, but enough to get a good idea of it and experience the ups and downs of fortune. I lost, like almost everyone else does, chiefly at the beginning, and then had pretty even fortune. I was about a £1 down, when I stopped; but I could not grudge it them, as it lasted for a number of afternoons’ play, to say nothing of the fact that I used the grounds of the Casino and had a very good & cheap tea there most afternoons during my stay.

It was a good thing to have some time at Madeira, because one got accustomed to hot weather. Out here the thermometer keeps steady at about 80° day and night; but one scarcely realises it is so hot. The evenings feel quite cool and refreshing. We have to wear sun-helmets out of doors almost always.

The ‘Portugal’ was a fairly good boat; but there were no games or facilities for exercise like on most boats, and (what surprised me very much) no deck-chairs for hire. Apparently they expected people to bring their own chairs. The time seemed to pass rather slowly, and even I was glad when we came to the end of the voyage. Of course the English and Portuguese did not mix very much; but we played games with them sometimes, and I think were quite popular on that account because the English usually keep aloof. We had “rings on the string” and “musical chairs” one afternoon.

The Portuguese here are a very superior type to those we have met before—in particular, they do not spit about all the time, and suck toothpicks at meals. Mr Carneiro is I believe very wealthy; he was going to Lisbon early this month, but postponed going especially in order to entertain us. No one speaks more than a few words of English except the two negroes Lewis & Wright, and in S. Antonio conversation is fragmentary because our friends there do not know French either. But here Mr Atalia and I plunge recklessly into very bad French, and can talk freely. Cottingham does not speak any French.

I wonder if you are still rationed. It seemed funny on the boat at starting to see full sugar-basins, unlimited butter, and to eat in a day about as much meat as would have been a week’s ration. We have had no scarcity of anything since we started. I have, however, scarcely tasted ham or bacon (eggs have been plentiful). The milk was not good on the Portugal, and I have got into the habit of taking tea without milk, which is the usual Portuguese custom & is probably better in hot climates. I cannot get any swimming here, because of the sharks.

There are several dogs about here, one of them rather a nice terrier; but for the most part they are not up to much. Nipper the dog at the hotel attached himself to me very much and followed me almost everywhere, although I did not encourage him at all, as he was neither beautiful nor free from fleas. He used to like to come and spend hours hunting lizards whilst we bathed.

It gets dark here about 6 o’clock, and as one does not sit much inside the house, one does not want to stay up long. I am usually quite ready for bed by half-past eight!

Please give my kind regards to Mr Green. I hope he is getting on alright. I think I shall be back home not much later than the middle of July.

With much love from
your affectionate brother
Stanley

[Added at the head:] [I send {1} a letter to mother a few days ago which will probably arrive by same mail. This letter assumes you have read hers.] {2}

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Three passages have been marked off in pencil by a later hand.

{1} A slip for ‘sent’.

{2} The square brackets are in the MS.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

S.S. “Zaire”
1919 June 21

My very dear Mother

I will write a little to tell you about the rest of my experiences in Principe; but it is doubtful if you will receive this before I arrive. I have only had two letters from you—the second written about March 28 reached me about May 11. Since then there have been no mails from Europe, and in fact we expect to pass tomorrow (at S. Vincent) the outward boat which will be taking the next batch of letters to Principe.

We stayed just a week at Sundy on our first visit, then returned to S. Antonio for a week, and finally returned to Sundy on May 13 and stayed there until our steamer sailed on June 12. Nothing much happened during the week at S. Antonio except that most afternoons we played tennis, generally with the Curador and Judge.

We were ready to take the first photographs about May 16, and as the nights were generally clear we had no difficulty in getting the check photographs. These had to be taken between 12∙30 and 1 a.m; we took them on three different nights. The developing also had to be done at night and, owing to the special difficulties due to the high temperature of the water (78°), was a slow business. So we were often up pretty late during this period. In the day time I had a good deal of work measuring these check photographs.

The last heavy rain fell about May 9 and shortly afterwards the Gravana or cool season began. There was practically no rain, but a good deal of cloud in the day-time, and the conditions seemed rather less favourable for the eclipse than during the rainy season. However there were a number of beautifully clear days, and usually at least part of the day was clear. The two days before the eclipse were about the most unfavourable we had.

On the morning of the eclipse Mr Carneiro, the Curador, Judge, Mr Wright and three Doctors came over. Just as they arrived a tremendous rain-storm came on, the heaviest we have seen. It was most unusual at that time of the year; but it was favourable for the eclipse as it helped to clear the sky. The rain stopped about no[o]n (the eclipse was at 2∙15). There were a few gleams of sunshine after the rain, but it soon clouded over again. About 1∙30 when the partial phase was well advanced, we began to get glimpses of the sun, at 1∙55 we could see the crescent (through cloud) almost continuously, and there were large patches of clear sky appearing. We had to carry out our programme of photographs in faith. I did not see the eclipse, being too busy changing plates, except for one glance to make sure it had begun, and another half-way through to see how much cloud there was. We took 16 photographs (of which 4 are not yet developed). They are all good pictures of the sun, showing a very remarkable prominence; but the cloud has interfered very much with the star-images. The first 10 photographs show practically no stars. The last 6 show a few images which I hope will give us what we need; but it is very disappointing. Everything shows that our arrangements were quite satisfactory, and with a little clearer weather we should have got splendid results. Ten minutes after the eclipse the sky was beautifully clear, but it soon clouded again.

We developed the photographs 2 each night for 6 nights after the eclipse, and I spent the whole day measuring. The cloudy weather upset my plans and I had to treat the measures in a different way from what I had intended; consequently I have not been able to make any preliminary announcements of the result. But the one good plate that I measured gave a result agreeing with Einstein and I think I have got a little confirmation from a second plate.

We had a number of excursions to different places on the island chiefly on Sundays. We had a monkey-hunting expedition, but did not see any except in the distance. We were singularly unfortunate in not seeing monkeys because there are enormous crowds of them about and numbers of men are employed simply in scaring them away from the cocoa. Another interesting expedition was to Lola, a dependency of Sundy where there was a specially fine crop of cocoa. It was a very fine sight to see the large golden pods in such numbers—almost as though the forest had been hung with Chinese lanterns.

Another day we went to Lapa in the estate of the Sociedade Agricultura Colonial and had lunch on the beach off fish which we watched being caught. Lapa is a very beautiful spot at the foot of a fine sugar-loaf mountain. All the beaches are very pretty—a strip of golden sand between the cocoanut palms and the blue sea. I had a good bathe at Lapa—the only time in Principe,—a black man went with me to see that I did not go too near the sharks.

Another time we went to near Bombom to see the ruins of the palace of Marie Corelli (that was not quite her name, but it was something very near it). She was a famous slave dealer about ninety years ago. Her palace on the beach is all in ruins but it must have been a huge place. Her church is there also—quite a fine ruin.

We liked Mr Atalia immensely. He was very lively and amusing and extremely good to us in every way. After dinner we used to sit out in front of the house and there was generally a succession of natives came up to interview him on all sorts of matters. They evidently have great respect and confidence in him.

We had to return by this boat the “Zaire” (although it was rather earlier than I liked) because there will not be another boat leaving Principe until about August 1. There has been a dispute between the company and the government about passage rates, and no boats have left Lisbon for a long while. This boat is tremendously crowded and we should not have got a passage on it; but for the help of the Governor who managed to get places commandeered for us.

I got a bit of fever two days before starting (otherwise I have had splendid health all the time) and was feeling rather bad when I got on board but the sea-air has soon set me right again. It left me a bit weak for the first three or four days—in fact I fainted one night—but it has quite gone now.

Mr. Carneiro is on the ship—returning to Portugal for three months. There are also 4 English missionaries from Angola. They knew about us from Mrs Williams the missionary we met on the Portugal. One of them Mrs Stober is a friend (a Williamson of Cockermouth) related to John Hall. Her husband (who is not a Friend) is a very nice fellow; he was the founder of the mission.

It has been a little rougher this voyage than when we came out; but nothing to speak of. Of course, a lot of passengers have been ill; it is very bad for them being so crowded on the boat. There are lots of children and in some cabins there are as many as seven people. There are three in our cabin—a Portuguese and Cottingham & myself.

We reached Praia last night after 8¼ days from Principe. This is a slow boat and I do not expect we shall reach Lisbon until June 30.

We were very delighted to receive a telegram from Dyson saying that the Brazil party had been successful; we often wondered how they were getting on.

I suppose I shall be back about July 10. I shall look forward to the strawberries, which are better than anything they have in the tropics.

With very dear love to both
Your affectionate son
Stanley

Lisbon, July 2. I expect we shall reach Liverpool about July 15 by R.M.S.P. Line. Ships very crowded and scarce.

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The postscript was written in pencil. Two passages have been marked off in pencil by a later hand.