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Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington


1919 March 27

My very dear Mother

We have been here nearly a fortnight, and though we are anxious to be getting on to Principe, it is very delightful being here and I am not at all tired of Madeira. We have had a variety of weather; but there is always a good deal of hot sunshine every day. At first we had three days of “leste”, a hot dry east wind coming from the Sahara; it blows in gusts—dead calm for a long time then quite suddenly a furious wind for about 10 minutes. It did a good deal of damage to the trees and to the tiles on the roof here. Afterwards we had brilliant weather all day, but not quite so hot. This last week we have had a good deal of rain—chiefly at night but some sharp showers in the day as well—with snow on the tops of the mountains. Now it is comparatively cold; but that is only relatively speaking; because I am still wearing my thinnest shirts & vests and can sit out of doors even at night.

I have been two good long walks on the mountains. The funicular railway is not running regularly but there are occasionally excursions. We went up one day starting at 12 o’clock and reached the top—Terreira de Lucta—(2800 feet) about one o’clock. Cottingham and I took some sandwiches, and walked on at first by road and then on the hillside, making for a special view-point in the centre of the island. He found it too hard work, so I left him for 1½ hours and finished the climb alone. The view-point, Ariero Observatory, is 4800 feet above sea-level, and is a balcony overlooking a magnificent gorge at least 2000 feet deep which winds down to the sea on the other side (north) of the island. After seeing this, I rejoined Cottingham and we walked back to Terreira de Lucta which we reached about 5 o’clock, and then came down into Funchal in a toboggan a run of about 4 miles.

The second expedition was to the Grand Curral a point further round to the west. Cottingham and I started at 9 o’clock, and we got back about 5∙30. The walk was nearly twenty miles; but the weather was cooler so it was easier. Most of the way was along paved roads often very steep. We got many fine views on the way; and in places the gorse was out, and looked very pretty. The Grand Curral (=great cattle-fold) is a small plain almost entirely surrounded by a ring of mountains—like the crater of a volcano. We looked down on it from a saddle 3300 feet above sea-level and more than 2000 feet above the Curral. On all other sides the mountains were much higher. It is extraordinary, how much of the land is cultivated, all the steep sides of the mountains are terraced into tiny fields up to a great altitude. There is an elaborate system of irrigation; the artificial water-courses (called “levadas”) tap all the rivers near their sources, taking away nearly all the water and leaving only stoney† beds.

The main place of resort in Funchal is the Casino. We often go there in the afternoon for tea. The tea (the beverage) is much better than at the hotel; it has been very scarce in Madeira. There is a roulette table which is well-patronised and it is interesting to watch the players.

The beach is very poor, very steep and stony; and is unattractive, because it is used as the general rubbish-heap. But it is interesting to sit on the pier especially when any of the large steamers are in. There has been no mail from England since I came; but we are expecting one today—the Chepstow Castle—. I did not know I should be here so long or I would have asked you to write here.

There are lots of bananas here and I usually get through about a dozen a day. There is not much other fruit. Prices are generally a bit lower than in England but there is not much difference. The meat here—mutton, veal, beef—is extraordinarily good the best I have ever tasted I think. We can get good cigarettes at 10 a penny; but I chiefly smoke a mixture of native tobacco at a penny an ounce with imported tobacco at a shilling an ounce—the native stuff is too dry to use by itself.

We made friends with a gentleman from the telegraph (cable) station, and he got us permission to see round it yesterday. It was very interesting. They have a lot of new improvements since I was at the station in Malta.

There was a British warship here one day, and they had a football match against the Cable station, which we went to see. The weather was more suitable for watching than for playing. They must have found it terribly hard.

We know a number of people in the hotel. Ritson a commercial traveller from Manchester, Ash a queer old gentleman, Mrs. Caswell a merry widow and her daughter, Mr and Mrs Thomas from Swansea and others. Most of them intend to go on to the Canaries next Sunday. The landlord & landlady Mr. & Mrs. Jones are extremely pleasant & good-natured people.

Three ships were torpedoed by submarine in Madeira harbour during the war, and one sees the masts of two of them sticking up out of the water. The town was also bombarded and there are a few traces visible.

I hope all is going well at Cambridge. I shall be glad to hear news of you when I reach Principe.

With very dear love from
your affectionate son


Numbered ‘3rd’ at the head. Four passages have been marked off and emended in pencil by a later hand.

† Sic.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington


Funchal, April 6

My very dear Mother

I think that our time here is nearly up. We are to go on by the steamer Portugal which is due here on Wednesday, April 9, and should reach Principe on the 23rd. It calls at two places in the Cape Verde Islands and then goes straight to Principe. We shall not be the only English on board as we know of two others going as far as St Vincent (in Cape Verde Is.). The Quelimane which we had thought at first would be our boat was due here on the 3rd but did not arrive till yesterday; it was going direct to St Thomé, only a hundred miles from Principe, but did not call at Principe.

Since my last letter I have had one other splendid walk on the hills. I went alone as it was too far for Cottingham. I started at 7∙45 and reached Terreira de Lucta (the terminus of the railway) by half past nine; I was walking as there was no train early enough. It was then an easier walk though still uphill over Poiso pass 4550 feet up; then steep downhill to Ribiera Frio. This is one of the famous view-points of the island. The Balçoã (or balcony) there is about 2800 feet above sea-level, and one looks up and down a splendid deep ravine, thickly wooded. It is the same ravine that I saw from Ariero Observatory; but here, being in the middle of it instead of at one end, one gets a much better view and better idea of its size and depth. I reached this place about 12∙15 and stayed there till near 2 o’clock. It was very fortunate I had made an early start, because by the time I left the mist had come up from the sea on the north of the island and completely filled the ravine, so that one could see nothing. When I got there it was quite clear except for a few clouds round two or three of the highest snow-covered peaks. The highest peaks are 6000 feet high. One got good views of the levadas (artificial aqueducts) cut in the sides of the precipitous cliffs, and part of the way the path was by the side of one of these levadas. I climbed back through the mist to Poiso; and then got into the sunshine again, and left the road striking over the hills to Pico da Silva more to the east, getting a good view of the coast at the east end of the island. I reached Funchal about 6∙30, coming down the last 2000 feet by a very steep road like a flight of steps. The walk was about 25 miles altogether.

A good many of the people staying at this hotel left by a boat last Sunday, and it seems more empty now. There are about 8 or 10 permanent residents, and in addition I think there are only three other visitors—Ash (an old gentleman who came with us on the Anselm), Mr Bickmore a new arrival, and Geoffrey Turner a boy of sixteen from Mumbles, who has come out here for six weeks after an illness. Since some of his fellow-passengers left last Sunday, he has come to sit at our table and generally goes about with us.

The weather this last week has been very showery but always with long intervals of bright sunshine. The inhabitants say it is exceptionally bad weather; but I only wish we had “bad weather” of this kind in England. It is, however, unsuitable for long walks and the clouds are fairly low on the mountains; but that does not matter as I have been to the chief points of interest that are at all accessible. Nearly every morning this last week I have spent bathing at the Ajuda a place on the coast rather more than a mile from here which Geoffrey showed us. It is about the only place for a bathe here unless one goes out in a boat. The sea is rather rough and the coast rocky; but here there is a more or less enclosed pool where one can get a good swim without being knocked about on the rocks by the waves. I have got tremendously sunburnt.

We generally go to the Casino for tea, though we have tried once or twice another restaurant. There is always a band there. Roulette is prohibited in Madeira; but the authorities pretend not to know that it goes on. Now and again they make a raid, but they always telephone up to say they are coming. One afternoon, I was wanting to come away and found the main doors, which lead out through the dancing saloon, fastened, and we had to come out by a back way; the reason was that the Chief of the Police had come up for the dancing, and he was supposed not to know what was going on the other side of the door.

I have scarcely ever been out after dinner, but last night I went with Geoffrey to a picture-palace. The chief film was the funeral of King Edward VII! It was rather curious seeing it after so many years. After about ¾ hour of pictures, there was a short play of which we naturally could understand nothing. Then some recitations (chiefly serious) and some songs (chiefly comic). One of the comic songs was very amusing though one could not understand the words. It was a very crowded house, and very interesting to watch the audience.

I had a talk this morning with the English Doctor an old gentleman who has gone in for science a good deal. He is brother-in-law to the late Lord Kelvin, and told me a lot of stories about him. Kelvin met his wife at Madeira—a Miss Blandy—the Blandys are the agents of most of the shipping companies here, and they saw after storing our instruments, here.

I expect my next letter will be from Cape Verde Islands. I shall be glad to be progressing again; but I have enjoyed the whole of my stay here immensely—it has been a splendid holiday

With very dear love from
your loving son


Numbered ‘4th’ at the head. Three passages have been marked off in pencil by a later hand.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington


“The Portugal”
Sunday, April 13

My very dear Mother

We expect to reach St. Vincent about 4 o’clock this afternoon, so I shall be able to post a letter there.

There is not much to say about my last two or three days at Funchal. They passed very quickly, bathing and so on, and I was very sorry to leave. Mr. & Mrs. Jones the proprietors of the Hotel were very nice people; we saw a good deal of them, and found the hotel very comfortable.

On Monday I went round to the various offices getting my passport in order. First the British Consul had to visé it and charged 2/–. Then there was a complicated business with the Civil Governor, and a visit to the Treasury to buy the necessary revenue-stamps costing 14/2 altogether. Finally I had to see the chief-of-police, who for a wonder, did not charge any thing.

I should have found it rather difficult, but at the Civil Governor’s a man who could speak English volunteered assistance and took me to all the different places. He looked a very unkempt, seedy individual and I quite thought he was after earning a tip; but on the way he introduced me to the Governor of Principe {1} (who was in Madeira on leave) and later on asked me a lot of questions about Cambridge saying that his son was in the University of Coimbra, so I had to revise my idea. It turned out that he was Editor of the local paper; and, though I gave him some information about the expedition which duly appeared the next day, he was merely helping me out of politeness. Cottingham waited to see how I got on, and got his passport in order the next day.

The Portugal arrived punctually about 1 o’clock on Wednesday and we had to spend a good part of the afternoon seeing our baggage taken from the custom-house to the lighter and afterwards checking it on the ship. We had tea at the hotel, and went down to the pier about 5∙30. The waiter, Antonio, had taken our luggage on board before.

This is quite a decent ship about the same size as the Anselm. The cabin, which we share is large and airy. The food is good, but it is difficult to get used to the foreign meal times. We have coffee and biscuits in the cabin about 7 o’clock, déjeuner at 11, tea at 3∙30, dinner at 6, and tea again at 9∙30. The déjeuner and dinner are good meals to which I do justice, but the tea is very poor. They give us some splendid tender beefsteaks pretty often.

The weather has been good, a strong fresh wind (the trade-wind) behind us, with blue sky and warm moonlight nights. The ship goes along with a gentle easy roll. There are seven English on board (including ourselves) but three of them are men going to the cable station who leave at St Vincent. Of the others one is a man going to manage a Portuguese sugar-refinery, and the other a lady-missionary. The missionary is having a rare time with several young men dancing attendance on her and appears to be enjoying herself thoroughly. The rest of the passengers (about 20 in the first class) are Portuguese.

I have had a game of chess with the Doctor which was a very long one, lasting 2½ hours; but I think he was not very pleased at being beaten, at any rate he has not given me an opportunity of another game. I played a good many games with Geoffrey at Madeira who was keen on chess and fairly good. Cottingham does not play.

There are some actors on board and they gave two short plays last night. I went to see them but, of course, could not make out much of what was going on.

I am looking forward to some letters at Principe; I expect there will be one travelling by this ship. I hope you are all well

Much love from
your affectionate son


Numbered ‘5th’ at the head. Three passages have been marked off in pencil by a later hand.

{1} João Gregório Duarte Ferreira.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington


The “Portugal”
Easter Sunday | April 20.

My very dear Mother

We are now in the Gulf of Guinea about 700 miles from Principe and I expect that we shall be there fairly early on Wednesday morning. The whole journey is about 4700 miles—1000 miles to Lisbon, 530 to Madeira, 1040 on to St Vincent and 2100 to Principe.

We reached St Vincent about 5 p.m on April 13, but did not go ashore that evening. We went on shore about the next day and came back in time for breakfast at 11. Three hours was quite long enough as there is nothing to see. There is scarcely a tree or a blade of grass on the island—all parched brown soil, and the town is very small. We filled up some time by going to the cable-station—the second largest in the world—They have very comfortable quarters there. We left St Vincent in the afternoon, and reached Praīa the capital of the Cape Verde Islands, situated on the island of S. Thiago the next morning. We only stayed there four hours, and did not go ashore. It looked very uninteresting and the island was almost as barren as S. Vincent.

Since reaching S. Vincent the weather has been damp, and rather misty though there is always hot sunshine. The temperature in the shade is 84 now, and it is generally over 80; the dampness makes it seem rather oppressive and it gets very close in the cabin—especially between 5 and 7∙a.m. when the porthole is closed whilst they wash the decks. Curiously enough I have been sleeping extremely well on this ship—I slept rather badly on the Anselm and at Madeira, but from the first night on board I have had extraordinarily good nights for me, and they still continue in spite of the oppressive heat.

Three of the English passengers left at S. Vincent, going to the cable station. One of them was a very nice fellow but we saw very little of him till the last day as he was a bad sailor. The other two were rather queer fish. There are now three English passengers besides ourselves—the sugar-refiner, the missionary and another Englishman who joined at St. Vincent. I thought at one time the sugar-refiner & the missionary were going to make a match of it, but I dont think there is anything in it now. There is one Portuguese Officer (in the army—not ship’s officer) who speaks English well and we see a lot of him. The Purser speaks a little English and is very pleasant.

The Portuguese were having some round games and tricks one evening which were quite amusing to watch. They were having the old trick of saying “botas sem sapotas”—“boots without shoes”, which was very funny as scarcely any knew it and they were all trying it at once. On Good Friday they had very good sports in which we joined—cock-fighting, egg and spoon races, threading the needle, and for the ladies a potatoe† race. Last night there was some function in the saloon; I have only the vaguest idea, what the speeches were about or what was the occasion, but I suddenly found that I had got to make a speech on behalf of the English passengers, which was translated sentence by sentence into Portuguese by the Portuguese Officer.

They give us ices now at tea time—or rather sorbets like we used to have on the Avon—but at that time it is the tea that is most appreciated. The food is not very attractive to our English tastes.

I do not know anything of what has been happening in the world generally since I left England. I have seen a Times for March 31, but that is the only newspaper I have seen except for the local Madeira paper which contained no general news. I have spent a bit of time learning Portuguese. I can read it pretty easily now, but I have scarcely begun to understand people speaking; it is very difficult to catch the sounds.

I expect the garden will have begun to look pretty now, and the May term will soon be beginning. I hope all goes well.

With very dear love from
your affectionate son


Numbered ‘6th’ at the head. Four passages have been marked off in pencil, and in one case emended, by a later hand.

† Sic.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington


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

[finished Friday May 2] {2}


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


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

[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}


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


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

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


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

Letter from Arthur Schuster to A. S. Eddington


Victoria Park, Manchester
Novr 9. 1909

Dear Mr Eddington,

May I ask you—in confidence—whether you consider yourself definitely fixed to “Astronomy” or whether you would at all consider a return to Physics as possible.—I am not at liberty to go into details but the question arises whether in case a chair of Theoretical Physics were founded here or elsewhere and suitable conditions were offered you would be prepared to accept the chair.—Also in that case it might help matters if you wd let me know what conditions you would consider acceptable.

You may take it for granted that the duties wd leave you plenty of time for private work and that nothing wd prevent you continuing to prosecute the line of research on which you have entered with such success

I remain
Yours sincerely
Arthur Schuster.

Draft of a letter from A. S. Eddington to Arthur Schuster



Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London, S.E.
1909 Nov. 15

Dear Dr. Schuster

You will, I am sure, not be surprised that I have delayed a little replying to your important letter. I had not at all thought of such a change, and it was a matter requiring very careful consideration. Whilst the idea of returning to Physics, and perhaps especially to academic work, was in many respects attractive, I have however decided that it is best for me not to leave my present work. I need not trouble you with the reasons that have led me to this difficult decision; rightly or wrongly I have concluded that the suggestion and opportunities that I meet with in a large observatory are more likely to lead to good research work on my part {1} than any I could hope for elsewhere.

With many thanks
yours sincerely
A. S. Eddington


The letter is headed ‘copy’ but, since it contains a correction, it is probably a draft.

{1} ‘the suggestion …. on my part’ has been altered from ‘the suggestion and opportunities of research work that I meet with in a large observatory are more likely to lead to good results on my part’.

Draft of a testimonial by A. S. Eddington for W. M. Smart


Observatory, Cambridge
21 May 1936

Dr W. M. Smart’s application for the Chair of Regius Professor of Astronomy in the University of Glasgow has my warmest support. He is a man of established reputation in astronomical circles who would fill the office with distinction; and he has proved himself very successful as a lecturer and teacher. He would be much missed from this Observatory and from the University; but promotion to a professorial chair would be a fitting recognition of his work.

Dr Smart has been Chief Assistant in the Observatory and John Couch Adams Astronomer since 1921. There is only one other Assistant. The policy of the Observatory has been to avoid routine undertakings and to develop new methods. Two main lines of work have been developed during his tenure—an improved method of determining photographic proper motions of stars, and measurement of stellar magnitudes with a photo-electric cell. As regards the former it may, I think, be claimed that the Cambridge results set a new standard of accuracy for large series of proper motions. Photo-electric work is still confined to two or three observatories (Cambridge being the only British one). After a long struggle with pioneer difficulties the work is now proceeding with great success, and astonishing accuracy is obtained. A large share of the credit for these results is due to Dr Smart.

On the theoretical side his earlier work was in celestial mechanics. But in connection with the practical work above-mentioned his more recent interests have {1} been mainly in proper motions and other branches of stellar statistics, to which he is one of the most active contributors. He is a member of the Commission of the International Astronomical Union on Stellar Parallaxes and Proper Motions.

His teaching work covers elementary lectures on astronomy, advanced lectures on celestial mechanics and on stellar motions and a practical class at the observatory. Judging from the response of the students he is a stimulating lecturer. He normally supervises one or two research students.

An important part of his experience is his work as Secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society during the last five years. This brings him into touch with astronomers in all parts of the world, so that he is in full contact with all modern developments. It is perhaps not irrelevant to mention that he is Treasurer of the Royal Astronomical Society Dining Club—an office (of which the duties are by no means confined to the care of money) which is a tribute to his popularity with his colleagues.

To sum up:—He has shown himself able to make the most of the resources of a small observatory; he is well-known and esteemed internationally; he is successful with students; and is well used to administrative activity.


The various cancelled words and passages in this letter have not been recorded, except for the mistaken deletion noted below.

{1} Struck through by mistake.

Letter from Giacomo Casanova to Carlo Casanova


Dux 2 xbre 1791

Signor Nipote Carlo

Ho fatto subito jeri pagare all’onorato mercante Sala otto talari che gli dovevo, e ch’egli medesimo politamente mi disse l’anno passato che glieli pagherei al mio ritorno a Dresda, offrendomi ancora altra cioccolata se volevo, onde al vostro solito avete mentito.

Voi mi avete scritto una lettera da pazzo scapestrato impertinente, insolente, e mal onesta, che mai creditore scrisse a debitore, che mai nipote scrisse a Zio. Qual mai fu l’effetto, che la vostra vuota, ed ignorante testa pretese di ritrarre dalle ingiurie che mi dite in quella lettera?, voi che mi avete detto cento volte che non siete sensibile che alle parole, che le bastonate istesse in confronto delle parole vi sembrano carezze, voi che domandandomi à Venezia il mio divin perdono dopo il vostro latrocinio mi diceste un giorno di bastonarvi più tosto, ma di non mai rimproverarvelo. Ed io né vi rimproverai, né vi bastonai, né vi feci mettere in una fortezza, come vostro padre mi scrisse che dovevo fare, ma vi perdonai, e non vi rimprovero adesso la vostra infamia che per la cagione che la temerità con cui mi scriveste mi dimostra che ve la siete dimenticata. Ditemi, se eravate ubbriaco, quando mi avete scritto quella lettera, e vi accorderò il divin perdono che domandereste fino alla morte, che otterreste sempre, senza profittarne mai. Volete che vi rimandi la vostra impertinente lettera, che mi ha fatto tanto ridere? Ve la rimanderò: rispondetemi. Spero che rileggendola avrete quella vergogna che, impudente, non avete avuto a scrivermela.

Alla mia partenza da Dresda in Agosto dell’anno scorso vi dovevo (se non sbaglio) quaranta talari. Appena arrivato qui in Dux ve ne mandai venti. Dunque restano venti, e se fossero di più non negherò il mio debito tanto più che dite, cosa della quale non mi ricordo, che vi ho fatto una cambiale. Sappiate che un uomo onesto possessore di una cambiale non ha il dritto di dire ingiurie al debitore: il solo dritto che ha è quello di fargliela presentare nelle regole, e di procedere secondo le tranquille regole della giustizia, se non la paga. Fate dunque così ancor voi. Feci l’anno passato a Dresda due cambiali al mercante da panni, le mandò qui alla scadenza, e ventiquattr’ore dopo le pagai. Voi dunque, che volete far il mestiere di mercante, imparate a farlo con le leggi civili dell’onestà. Non sarà mai vero, povero nipote mio, che il denaro che io posso dovervi, abbia ad esser cagione che scappiate un altra volta da Dresda. Prima di arrivare a quest’eccesso gettatevi un’altra volta à piedi di vostro padre, domandategli il divin perdono, ed astenetevi dal dargli maggior afflizione, preparandovi però a ricevere con animo compunto la paterna correzione in parole, e vergognatevi alla fine di dire che preferite le bastonate, linguaggio di Galeotto, che sembra d’eroe alla vostra testa matta.

Andate dunque domani dal Signor Sala, portategli la cambiale che qualifica il mio debito, pregatelo di mandarla a Toeplitz al suo corrispondente, ed io quando l’avrò veduta la ritirerò pagandola, e così non avrete più ragione alcuna di dirmi ingiurie.

Non crediate che per questa vostra stramberia io sia in colera con voi—No. Spero che ne siate già pentito, e voglio finire la mia lettera, dandovi un buon consiglio. Eccolo.

Cambiate di condotta avanti che vostro padre paghi alla natura il grande inevitabil debito, o prevedetevi miserabile fino alla morte. Cominciate intanto a disporvi di palesargli tutti gl’imbrogli in cui vi siete immerso, e che mi son noti. Dio vi benedica.

Sono sempre con verità
Vostro affettuosissimo Zio

[Direction:] A Monsieur | Monsieur Charles Casanova | Au troisieme étage de l’hôtel de Saxe | à Dresde



Dux [Duchcov], 2 December 1791

Mr Nephew Carlo,

Yesterday I had the eight thalers paid at once that I owed to the respected merchant Sala. Last year he himself told me politely that I could pay him when I returned to Dresden, and he offered me more chocolate if I wanted it. So as usual you’ve lied.

You’ve written me the letter of a reckless madman, impertinent, insolent, and dishonest, such as no creditor ever wrote to a debtor and no nephew to an uncle. Whatever did your empty and ignorant head expect to accomplish with the insults in that letter? You who have told me a hundred times that you’re sensitive only to words and who said that compared to words a beating would seem like caresses to you; you who begged my ’divine forgiveness’ in Venice after you stole; you who once told me to beat you rather than reproach you. And I didn’t reproach you, or beat you, or have you locked up, as your father wrote to tell me I should, but I forgave you; and I’m not reproaching you now for that disgraceful action, since the audacity in your letter shows that you’ve forgotten all about it. Tell me, were you drunk when you wrote that letter? If so, I will grant the ’divine forgiveness’ you’re asking for right up until death, and you’ll always receive it without my taking advantage of it. Do you want me to return the impertinent letter that made me laugh so hard? I’ll return it; just let me know. When you reread it I hope you’ll feel the shame that you didn’t feel when you were writing it.

When I left Dresden in August of last year, I owed you (if I’m not mistaken) forty thalers. As soon as I arrived here in Dux I sent you twenty. So there’s still twenty, and if it’s more than that I won’t deny whatever you tell me it is; I don’t remember having given you a promissory note. You should know that an honest man who has a promissory note has no right to insult his debtor. The only right he has is to make him pay according to the rules, and if he doesn’t do that, to proceed peacefully in accordance with rules of justice. Then do so. In Dresden last year I gave two promissory notes to the clothing merchant, who sent the clothes when they were ready, and I paid him twenty-four hours later. You therefore, who want to become a merchant, should learn to do likewise, in accordance with civil law. It can never be, my poor nephew, that money I owe you should be the reason you flee from Dresden again. Before you go to that extreme, throw yourself once more at your father’s feet, beg him for his ’divine forgiveness’, and refrain from giving him greater affliction. Be prepared, however, to receive paternal correction with a contrite mind, and lastly, be ashamed to say you would rather be beaten. That’s the language of a galley slave, though it seems heroic to your crazy head.

So go to Mr Sala tomorrow, take him the promissory note that records my debt, and ask him to send it to his correspondent in Toeplitz. When I’ve seen it I will remit payment, and then you won’t have any reason to insult me further.

Do not believe that I’m angry at you for your strange behaviour. No, I hope you’ve already regretted it, and I want to end my letter by giving you some good advice. Here it is:

Alter your conduct before your father pays the great inevitable debt to nature, or I foresee that you will be wretched until your own death. Meanwhile prepare to reveal to him all the imbroglios you’ve gotten into, which are well known to me. God bless you.

I am always truly
Your most affectionate uncle,

[Direction:] To Mr | Mr Charles Casanova | Third Floor, Hôtel de Saxe | Dresden

Letter from W. W. Greg to H. S. Bennett

Standlands, River, Petworth, Sussex.—Refers to his catalogue of English manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College (see O.11.5), and to his plan—long since abandoned—of compiling a corpus of all English manuscript works down to 1500.



Standlands, River, Petworth, Sussex
25 Sept. 1944

Dear Bennett

When I drew up that catalogue of 100 English MSS at Trinity, at the time I was librarian, I naturally hoped that the College might see its way to print it. Then came the last war and any idea of the sort had of course to be abandoned. By the time things settled down again I was busy in other fields, and moreover the catalogue I knew had become in some respects out of date. Had I examined it I should probably also have found it unsatisfactory. So I did no more about it and finally deposited the MS in the Library for the use of any one who might be interested. I need hardly say that it is at the disposal of you or of any body else who should be able to use it as a basis for further work.

During the last war I dreamed of compiling a corpus of all English manuscript works down to 1500. It would have been a big undertaking. I estimated, on a very rough basis, that there [are] some 5000 MSS surviving, exclusive of legal and diplomatic documents, private letters, and collections of recipes. I envisaged the work in three parts. (1) A catalogue, possibly roughly chronological, of the actuall† MSS, with full bibliographical descriptions, giving particular attention to the make-up and growth of the MSS when these were not written all at one time. (2) A catalogue of the works they contained, giving the MSS of each and such information as was possible concerning the relation of the MSS. (3) An atlas containing some hundreds of facsimiles of pages from the manuscripts, especially the dated or datable ones, with transcripts and palaeographical notes. I also had in mind a catalogue of all works to 1500 giving a brief literary account of each with and† specimen of some 50 lines transcribed exactly from the oldest or most authentic MS. An ambitious project! which I need not say I have long since abandoned.

Best wishes

W. W. Greg


Marked at the head in pencil, ‘Letter to H S Bennett, Emmanuel College, given by H S Bennett to Trinity College Library.’

Letter from Miss E. Tritton to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

British-Asian and Overseas Socialist Fellowship, Transport House, Smith Square, London, S.W.1.—Asks him to address a meeting of the Fellowship, at which Jayaprakesh Narayan will be the chief speaker.

(Signed for the International Department, Labour Party.)

Letter from Ian S. Campbell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

British-Asian and Overseas Socialist Fellowship, Transport House, Smith Square, London, S.W.1.—Thanks him for addressing a meeting of the Fellowship at short notice. The meeting was a success, despite the absence of Jayaprakesh Narayan.

(Signed as Secretary.)

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