In the train from Madras to Tuticorin.—Explains his views on titles of honour, and encloses part of an ‘encyclical’. Refers to his stay at Madras, where Michie Smith showed him the results of the eclipse work.
Train from Madras to Tuticorin
April 27. 98
My dear Tante.
I have been meaning to write to you for a long time to answer your letter of March 3, but somehow I have always had something to write to the Vunculus about, on business, & so have waited till now.
There is only one point in your letter to which I want to refer; you say you had feared I shared my sister’s prejudices on the subject of title. No: I have always believed very strongly that a title is one of the few recognitions of desert which a grateful nation can bestow. What I am somewhat opposed to is hereditary title, though I am always prepared to admit that it is not without its advantages. Personally however I am very glad that none ever fell to my lot.
The sheet of my encyclical which I enclose tells the tale of my stay at Nellore, altogether I had a very jolly time there, & some of my equestrian experiences were great fun. I think I had a glimpse of the feeling of those who have said that they wanted to spend their life in the saddle & die at last by breaking their neck at a fall, a sentiment which I never understood at all before,—& one which even now I have no intention of attempting to put into practice!
I had a very pleasant two days in Madras, & saw most of the people I had met before. Michie Smith was very kind to me, & showed me all his instruments & the results of the eclipse work, he also gave me some prints of the corona taken by our instrument, one of which I have sent home to Mother. It was exposed 4 seconds very nearly at the commencement of totality. You will see, looking round the edge of the sun, one very bright point, this is a prominence, & should be set to the left hand; the approach of the moon was from the bottom right hand corner, & you will notice that though it has covered the whole body of the sun proper, yet there is a white rim in left hand top, the portion of the solar atmosphere not yet covered. The corona shows extended some way.
I also have a group of the Madras party which I will send home later. A miscellaneous collection of photos has also gone home, mostly representing different places out here, but there are one or two of Cambridge which Booty gave me.
M. Smith has a very large compound, & by joining with his neighbours, he has made one of the best golf links I have seen out here. I played Monday morning with him & 2 of his friends all of whom were rather good; fortunately I played up & did not make a fool of myself. That is really the great thing at golf, that the better people you play with, the better you play: you see while you learn by watching their good strokes, their play does not in any way interfere with yours.
I am now journeying steadily South, & am in lower latitudes than I have been before, I expect to reach Tuticorin this afternoon & then I go on board a boat which should land me in Colombo to-morrow morning. As I shall have a day or two to spare in Ceylon, I shall run up country, to Kandy & shall try & get a glimpse of J. Parkin who has just come out; he is a Trinity man of my year, & tried for a fellowship last October.
I hope to send a word to some one before I sail; after that as I shall not send a wire from Australia, you will not hear from me for some weeks. But I daresay that will not be much of an affliction after this train-written scrawl. I enclose a slip for E.L
With love to all
Your affectionate Neffe
Fredk W Lawrence.