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Letter from Lady Sansom to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

[Tucson, Arizona.]—She and George are wintering in Arizona. ‘George is very happy in this Far West, where there is much serious study on Japan in the universities.’

(Air letter, postmarked at Tucson.)

Carbon copy of a memorandum by Sir George Schuster headed ‘India. Note on action taken as a sequel to the meeting of the All-Party Group of M.P.s on Tuesday, October 21st’

While the draft letter to Amery (see 3/200) was being circulated, he submitted a copy of it to Amery himself, who, contrary to the group’s original agreement, communicated the substance of their suggestion to the Viceroy (Linlithgow).




Note on action taken as a sequel to the meeting of the All-Party Group of M.P.s on Tuesday, October 21st.

As arranged at the meeting I circulated a draft for a letter to Mr. Amery. Simultaneously, in order to save time, I sent a copy of the draft to Mr. Amery explaining clearly that this was only my own draft and had not yet received the approval of the other members. I sent it to him be-cause I thought it would be valuable if he could let me have his own private reactions before the final form of letter was settled. As I did not receive any acknowledgment to my letter from Mr. Amery I asked him to see me on November 5th. He then told me that he had actually communicated the substance of the suggestion to the Viceroy, but, as a matter of fact, when he saw me he was not quite clear in his memory as to whether he had telegraphed to the Viceroy or included a paragraph in an Air Mail letter. I explained to him that this was not in accordance with what I had settled with my colleagues as I had intended to communicate with them again before a letter was actually sent in to him. In the result, however, it does not make much difference, and we must now await the Viceroy’s reply.


Circular letter by F. W. Lawrence

Account of a journey via Nellore, Madras, Calcutta, Muzaffarpur, Calcutta, Sahdol, Mozufferpore, Benares, Lucknow, Roorkee (with an excursion to Moradabad), Delhi, Agra, Gwalior, and Bombay.

(A continuation of 5/30a. Headed ‘Encyclical no. 2.’ This letter describes events from 14 Dec. onward, but it is clear that it was not begun till after the writer’s arrival at Muzaffarpur on the 23rd. It was completed by 23 Feb., when Lawrence enclosed the last section in a letter to his Aunt Edith (see 6/4). The contents may have been transmitted in as many as six instalments, comprising respectively pp. 35–8, 39–62, 63–70, 71–90, 91–4, 95–106.)



Encyclical no. 2.

Once more I take up the pen to write a little something of my doings; but I am rather at a loss to know where to begin. You all know that I could not bring myself to keep a diary, and I don’t believe that if I did, any of you would be in the least interested in what it contained. How would read a day spent up in Mozuffapore with my friend W. S. Adie? “Awakened at 7.15 by the native barber who shaves me in bed; 7.25 tea & toast; 7.35 get up assisted by Adie’s Chokra (lad) who does not know the proper way of putting on socks; 8 o’clock get on our bicycles, and go for a ride, perhaps with some other people in the station; 10 o’clock, or a little after, come back have a warm bath (ghusl with garum pani) {1} dress & have breakfast; lounge about, or go & see Adie try a case in his court, or go and pay calls, or so on; lunch at 2 or a little later; then lawn tennis or racquets; then back to tea at 5. 30, & then on to the club to play billiards till it is time to come back (& dress if we are going out) to dinner, & so to bed perhaps at 10.30.” Not much of a diary to write up when it is very similar from day to day. And perhaps you will say:—“If that is all you came out to India to do, you might just as well have done it at home.” I don’t know. I fancy somehow I got in this way to appreciate something of Anglo Indian life.

But, if I remember, I left myself, so to speak, at the end of my last encyclical, at Nellore, sitting disconsolate, with Campbell gone away, wondering how I am going to get up to Mozuffapore, getting up every now & again to gaze in silent contemplation of awe & doubt, at the vast accumulation of travelling goods & chattels which are contained in all my trunks, boxes, bags, rugs etc etc, & uncertain as to which of them it will be expedient to carry with me about India. Every now & again Campbell’s Hindustani servant comes along & after gesticulating for some time I discover what he wants, perhaps he opens his mouth & saying something (not mangez-moi) I gather he means, shall I be in to dinner? Or I have to tell him I want the things home from the wash.

So a day or two passes, I make my selection of clothing, & pack up. [16 Dec.] Then Ashworth comes back to the bungalow and with him his “chief” a Madras engineer; & I start off having with great difficulty encrated my bicycle for Madras, the engineer going by same train. I shall arrive in Madras early morning & propose to stop at the club & go on same evening by train probably 3 or 4 days journey to Mozuffapore. Mr Moore (the engineer) kindly looks after me & insists on my staying the day at his house instead of the club which I am very pleased to do. Meanwhile I have brought Campbell’s Hindustani servant along with me to send him back when I leave Madras.

On enquiry I find boat P & O S.S. Parramatta goes up from Madras to Calcutta leaving day after next. Much pleasanter journey; I decide to take it.

[17 Dec.] So I go back to the Moores’ & say that as I have altered my plans & have settled to stop 2 nights in Madras, I will of course go on to the club. But they (he & his wife) will not hear of it, and insist on my stopping with them till I go. So I spend the days in going to shops and making one or two arrangements, & in the afternoons I go to the club for tea, & meet Mr Moore who introduces me to some of his friends, among them Ellis to whom I had an introduction, & we play billiards & get home to dinner at 8. Friday evening we are by ourselves & have some music; [18 Dec.] Saturday a friend comes in to dinner & we all go on to a sort of variety entertainment which the Governor of Madras {2} is attending. What a business it is finding one’s carriage afterwards and in the rain too (for it has actually started raining & been going on for 24 hours or so); the plan is:—every one, who can, crowds into the doorway & then all the carriages drive past, and whenever anyone spots their carriage they hail it & get in. Somewhat primitive! but then you see they don’t as a rule get so many Europeans at the place. (Please excuse writing & style, as I am in a train with not too good illumination.) At last after waiting about ½ an hour we find our vehicle and get back about 1.30 A.M! For entertainments in this country don’t begin as a rule till 9.30 P.M.

Meanwhile I have had it explained to my servant that I want him to take all my luggage to the pier early in the morning; & I myself am to be called at 6 and follow on soon after. I found it always rather a difficulty telling my servant anything, I used to say to someone “Would you mind explaining to my boy such & such things”; it was really rather ludicrous; when I was out in a gari (cab) & thought the driver was not going where I wanted & could not explain, I used to stop in the street when I saw a white man (or more probably Eurasian) & ask him to make it clear; in this way I sometimes gathered quite a little crowd, & I have since heard other English people say they have done the same; for even if you know Hindustani I am not sure whether you will be able to make the Tamil-speaking people of Madras fully comprehend you.

[19 Dec.] Well, I got up Sunday morning bade goodbye with sincere gratitude for the most kind hospitality & arrived at the pier to find my boy there with all my baggage, & getting into a Mozaffee boat (I don’t think this is quite the right word; but they are marvellous craft, put together without any nails, the planks fastened to one another with string. They have about 15 men rowing & one man constantly bailing) I am rowed to the Parramatta. I settle up with my boy, & prepare myself for a quiet 3 days voyage. It is exactly a month since I left London & I find the Parramatta left London on the same day as I did {3}.

Not very much to describe of my life on board the ship. I found the people all very ready to be friendly, quite a small party only some 50 or 60, & I was not quite so much of an intruder as I had expected because a number of them had only come on at Colombo a day or so before.

I sit at meals next an American who is a thorough specimen of the globe trotting Yankee; & who succeeded in doing Madras during the few hours the boat stopped there, by just taking a trolly car from one end of the city to the other end and back again.

Though I got on board according to instructions, about 8 A.M. the boat has so much cargo to deal with that it does not get off till nearly 5 o’c in the afternoon.

[20–21 Dec.] Monday & Tuesday pass along easily enough with deck cricket in the afternoon, & Tuesday night we reach the mouth of the Hoogly (that branch of the Ganges Delta on which Calcutta lies) & remain till dawn, for the ascent of the river must be in daylight. [22 Dec.] Wednesday we slowly proceed up the river an operation which requires some care, as the bed of the river is constantly changing with the shifting sand {4}, & reach the landing stage about ½ past 3. The same night I go on by train to Mozufferpore [23 Dec.] reaching there about noon {5} & am glad to find Adie waiting for me on the platform.

Mozufferpore is a large station with perhaps 80 or a 100 Europeans but I don’t suppose they are ever there all at once, and at Xmas time, particularly, a number of them are away. When one speaks of the residents in an English town one would regard a person who had been there only a couple of years as quite a new comer; this is not at all the case with the stations in India; nearly all the Europeans are officials and they constantly are getting shifted on from one place to another; 2 years would represent an old inhabitant, a few months would cover a good number; and perhaps—I speak quite at random—only ½ the people would have been there over the year. Thus with the I.C.S people they get shifted about during their years in India all through a sort of division of their presidency, and get in time to know nearly everyone in it.

But of such general matters as these I shall be able to speak with more knowledge later on & I propose leaving a great number of them to write about in a final encyclical which I shall write on leaving India.

I may as well state here that I have booked passage (P & O) from Colombo in a boat which will probably leave April 29.

The last date to post letters to India for me will therefore be April 1 & up till then they should be sent | c/o Thos Cook & Son | Bombay.

It will probably be possible to post on to the Australian P & O by which I am going to be delivered to me ‘passenger from Colombo to Australia’, but I am not sure of the name of the boat. Afterwards letters should be sent | c/o Thos Cook & Son | 269 Collins St | Melbourne

As I said at the beginning I do not propose to say very much about my time spent at Mozufferpore because the actual incidents of it would read very much the same as those of easy life anywhere; except perhaps, you will say, the time of rising; well really in India one must get up early, because the hours just after sunrise, & the hour or two as the sun is setting are much the best of the day. But I consider we used to get up rather late at M—, I frequently get up at 6 or 6.30.

When I say ‘the hour or two as the sun is setting’ don’t imagine that we get anything to speak of in the way of twilight; probably at 4 o’clock it is still tremendously hot, & you have to wear your pith helmet against the heat of the sun, & by 6 o’c it is quite dark. When I was at Nellore there was only about an hour we could play lawn tennis; 50 minutes before sunset 10 minutes after.

[25 Dec.] On Xmas day we went to a dinner party at the Collector’s {6} (head Magistrate’s) house, & the whole party played a game of sort of dining room badminton afterwards; [27 Dec.] and on the following Monday we went there again to a jolly little dance. English Xmas fare was of course the order of the day at the dinner, & we pulled crackers & drank to absent friends. On the Monday I danced on into [28 Dec.] my birthday & went (cycled) home with the added weight of the 1st year of my second quarter century!

One day, an indigo planter {7} (there are a great many all round M—) came to stop a day with Adie and offered to take me back with him to spend a couple of nights at his “factory” (this term includes as well as the actual factory, his own house & grounds & I think all the land under indigo cultivation) & this I was pleased to do.

(This letter reminds me of the report of one [of] my speeches in the C. Union, given by the Review “Mr Lawrence with a halting delivery & lame sincerity spoke in contemptuous footnotes” The similarity refers to the footnotes, because I have put into the letter so many parentheses; the halting delivery too probably about hits the mark.)

There was not very much going on at the factory as the growing is in the spring and the manufacture in the summer, and at these times they are very busy; but there were large numbers of coolies at work in the fields & we rode round them inspecting; this the planter does every morning, because if there is no inspection work will be shirked, or the foreman will pretend to have employed more men than he actually has done.

I was interested in the sort of wages received; all the family seem to work, the man gets perhaps 10 pies a day, the woman 8 & the children 4 or 6; and 12 pies make one anna ie one penny! So that one is reminded of the workmen who worked for a penny a day. At the same time the man probably owns some little private land on which he can grow a few things for himself.

The planter is generally landlord as well as employer, and has the people under his thumb; & no doubt he drives a pretty good bargain for himself in many cases by methods which seem somewhat doubtful to English bred ears, but the people are probably surprised that being all powerful he does not make greater use of his opportunities; they would be worse treated under native rulers, & but for the feeling of subservience to a foreign race would prefer the present régime. (Of course you must remember in all these statements of native opinion I only speak from what I have been told, it would be quite impossible for me to get any idea of it direct from the people themselves).

I was also interested in the sort of life the planters lead, far far away from anyone but this extraordinary race of cringing people. A desolate sort of life, & my friend thoroughly disliked it; he seemed to regard India as a sort of trap into which people fell when they were young, & being once out here, found it too late to go back again & start life at home. I have found some other people who have held somewhat ths view and a great many who have held quite the opposite.

For my own part I don’t think I should care to live out here permanently; there is a spirit of unrest about the place which would be very trying.

It seemed funny out in such a lonely spot, to spend the afternoon in putting out & playing a game at croquet, with a set made by Ayers & Son of London.

My friend, the planter, was an old Cambridge man of the same year as myself, but as he belonged to Pembroke we did not find we had very many friends in common.

Adie was very kind to me & took me round to call upon all the people at M—; I think I have said that when a new person comes to a station, it is the custom for him to go round & call upon all the ladies of the station; the proper time to do this is between 12 and 2, as after that hour a great many ladies retire to sleep; the proper length of a call (this would suit Carry) is ten minutes; so every day—or a good many days—Adie & I were to be seen on bicycles performing a round.

One morning I went to see a village industry, blanket making; everything was done from the raw wool to the finished article—not very finished—& all the apparatus was of the most primitive kind: the weaving machine had only 1 beam & no comb, the man using a piece of bamboo cut like a large paper knife & thrusting alternately between the threads instead.

Another morning I went to see the jail, where the prisoners were engaged in various works, among others in making Persian Carpets.

[About 3 Jan.] {8} At the beginning of Jany I returned to Calcutta & one of the first things which I did was to engage a servant from Cooks. Specifically he is a “travelling boy” & speaks English very well; up to this point I had been studying up Hindustani, but now I am afraid I have left off learning it as I require it so little. The man I have got (for though he is called a “boy” he is old enough to be my father) is a Mussulman & seems extremely capable & so far as I can judge honest. He gets what is viewed out here as a fabulously large salary 2 or 3 times as much as most servants get; yet what seems very small from a European point of view. His wages are 35 rupees a month, and it appears all travelling boys of this kind get the same. For this he “finds” himself. He waits on me at table, looks after my clothes & is generally useful, but of course he is not prepared to do nearly as much as an English servant. He also dresses me, but this I think I could do as well without. His principal use is when I am travelling or stopping in hotels, as then nothing is safe from the hand of the despoiler. Later on I shall probably be able to give you a better description.

I spent about a fortnight in Calcutta, & while the first part of my time I found rather slow, leaving my letters of introduction etc, at the end I had so much to do it was difficult to get it all in: I suppose this must always be so more or less when one goes to a strange place, but I think it was partly my own fault, as I did not go & call upon all the people I might have done, at first.

Altogether I met a number of Old Caledonians & old Parramattans & they were a great help to me, & were very kind.

One day I went to tea with Babington Smith the Viceroy’s secretary who is a fellow of Trinity {9} & to whom I had a letter of introduction from the Master of Trinity {10}. [6 Jan.] Then I went to the large ball at the Government House where only Europeans came {11}, almost every one in Calcutta; [11 Jan.] & another evening to a party to which natives also were invited {12}; [13 Jan.] then another day there was the ceremony of the Investiture of different orders Commander of the Indian Empire (C I E) etc. {13} It is difficult for me to say very much in description; some of the costumes of the Indian princes were very magnificent & their jewels were superb. Those whom you have seen, & the pictures of them will probably enable you to get some idea.

Then one evening I went down to the Seaman’s Institute where there was a sort of social gathering and a little dance; it seemed quite like a workman’s club in England, & so funny to find it out here, so many English sailors; I enquired for any from Victoria docks way, but I could not find any.

[12 Jan.] Then one day I spent with a man of the Oxford Mission Rev F W Douglas† who took me round among the slums {14}; we saw the extraordinary images, they do poojah (worship) to; also we saw the place where they burnt their dead. Then too he took me to a Rajah’s palace, full of some really beautiful things & with magnificent floors; but everything lumped about just anyhow, mixed up with any amount of rubbish; on the outside a number of sort of scaffold poles were lying about, looking as though the house was just being done up; but I was assured that it was always so.

Douglas† himself looks after what is known as a “mess”, that is a place where a number of students who are working for their university exams, live together. His place was kept fairly in order & clean, but the places he took me too† where the students ran their messes on their own account might better be described by saying they “pigged” together. The cost for board & lodging is about 12 rupees a month (ie 4/– a week)! Then lectures etc cost them some small sum, & these are their total expenses; rather different from what we have to pay at the Varsity!

Then one day I was taken round the Opium dens by one of the Commissioners. He told me when I started that I might say anything I liked about them to friends, but I must not make use of what I saw to speak or write against government; it seems they have been bothered with a lot of people who have gone prying into the matter, knowing little or nothing, & have made a lot of trouble. These dens used to be licensed & then he could inspect them & see they were kept respectable; now these busybodies had stirred up sentiment & refused to license them any longer, so that unlicensed places grew up quite as numerous as before & much worse kept. Of course every now & then he comes down & catches them & has them fined; so they keep a man on the look out, who gives a note of warning & all the people in the den hurry out of the way. On this occasion my friend was only taking me round, & so he just said “he didn’t intend to catch them” & they seemed quite to trust him in a great number of cases, & remain just as they were. We saw first one class of dens where opium is mixed with a black powder & rolled up into little balls to smoke, and secondly the real opium smoking when the man gets a little opium melted in a flame, & puts it in his pipe, & then still holding his pipe over the flame, just has his 3 or 4 wiffs, & then begins again. My friend made me a present of one of these pipes which I shall show you one day.

Of course you must not confuse the selling of opium & the keeping of smoking dens; the 2 things are quite distinct, the former is allowed in licensed shops, the latter is now forbidden.

One day I went to call upon Mr Whitehead who is a brother of one of the fellows of Trinity {15}; he himself is head of the Bishops College, a school for instructing native Christians; I went to lunch there & was shown over the place; I also had some talk with him about the whole question of native Christianity, but it is a very difficult subject; at any rate it would seem that the work of soundly educating the children of native Christian parents cannot be anything but good. All the missionaries of the College & of the Oxford mission belong to the high church party, & there was staying with them an army man who was more or less of their way of thinking. I was interested in hearing his position, especially as I have known well several low church men in Cambridge. He also took me to his Church. As he had a good deal of time upon his hands I went about with him, sometimes cycling, sometimes going [in] the quaint little boats upon the river. One day we cycled and trained to Chandinagore which is one of the towns under French Jurisdiction. Another day we went across to the botanical gardens, where there are magnificent avenues of tropical trees, a splendid place for cycling. The French station was curious, it looked so funny to see “Rue de la Gare” stuck up and such like.

There was also a zoological gardens which I went to see, but our London Zoo rather spoils us for all other entertainments of a similar kind.

I went several times to the theatre while I was in Calcutta & saw among other things the Liliputian troop performing in Robinson Crusoe; one evening I made up a party of old Caledonians & we all went together and took a box.

Every afternoon as soon as the sun ceases to be hot, there is a special road where every body drives, known as the red road; then when it is dark the band plays in the Eden Gardens some people getting out of their carriages & walking about; but the great majority just have their carriages stop & sit in them, for people are very lazy about walking.

Another afternoon I went to play lawn tennis with some boat friends & spent a pleasant time.

Then I went to call upon Mr Mozoomdar who is one of the leading lights of the Bramo Somaj movement {16}; he insisted upon getting up a meeting of Bramo Somaj students for me, [16 Jan.] & I went there Sunday afternoon, & described to them, as I was requested, a little about Cambridge life. Our whole idea of a Varsity is very different from theirs; they merely look upon it as an institution for giving lectures & for examining. All the students work very hard, principally cramming; so far as I could judge there is very little real interest in the work. They were very much amused at the idea of some of our men going up to Cambridge mainly for the rowing or the cricket, and some of them asked questions. There were, besides students, several other Bramo Somaj people to whom Mr Mozoomdar introduced me, among them I met a man who had been up at Cambridge (a native I mean) & whom I knew slightly when I was there {17}. Then when the meeting was over they put a garland of flowers round my neck(!) which they say is an oriental custom, & gave me to taste of all kinds of native fruits & sweets. I was very glad to have the opportunity of tasting but I can’t say they were highly delectable; while I was going in for these things they didn’t eat but remained looking on & watching my face as I tried each new thing, a little embarrassing to say the least of it. I had come on my bicycle, & they almost wanted to me† wear my garland to ride home in, but I couldn’t quite swallow that, so I got them to do it up in a piece of paper & I hung it in my room at the hotel.

Altogether I enjoyed my stay in Calcutta very much; & was very glad to have the opportunity of studying native life. What with the Opium dens, the slums, the streets of the bazar† (one I drove through was so narrow that the vehicle almost touched both side houses at once) & my visit to the Bramo Somaj I felt I had really got just a little bit behind the scenes, & had ideas of some sides of Indian life of which many Anglo Indians even are ignorant.

One thing my friend Mr Douglas of the Oxford Mission said to me, which impressed me very much, while he was showing me the Students† messes. He said “These Hindoos have beautiful manners; now you would think from this apparent pleasure at seeing us, & the glad welcome they accord, they really liked our coming to see them. On the contrary they hate & dislike us. It is not altogether (or even mainly) fear which make[s] them treat us here as they do, it is simply their manners”. Of the country as a whole he said “We merely govern it by the sword & but for the impossibility of the people acting together we should not succeed; yet mark the marvellous order we are able to keep in the streets; & moreover remember a native would always prefer an Englishman to judge his quarrel”.

All these statements seem somewhat contradictory but I have found other people say almost exactly the same. I don’t know that they are really quite true, & of course you must not include people like the Bramo Somaj. One word more:—The Hindoo is exasperatingly dilatory & the Englishman curses him for it & treats him as a fool! (This is my own.)

{18} But I expect you will be most of all anxious to hear about the eclipse, so I write this at once in case I should not have another opportunity of writing. [17 Jan.] I left Calcutta on Monday evening 17th Jany & travelling continuously [18 Jan.] I arrived at Sahdol at eleven o’clock on Tuesday night. That is what I should call a nice easy pleasant journey, because I only had one change, & no time to wait at the changing station; whereas now on my way back to Mozuffapore, I am stranded here (Bankipore) with 7 —— hours to wait because the trains have just missed. One thinks a good deal in England of having to wait an hour or so at a station; here one just accepts the inevitable. The native sitting & waiting, is in his element & is perfectly happy. When I arrived at Sahdol I was met by a servant, who sent on my bedding with a coolie & a “peon” {19} showed me my way to a tent where my bedding was unfolded and I slept soundly till morn; when I awoke I saw no sign of my other luggage or my boy, till about 8 o’clock Campbell came & said I had really gone to the wrong tent. He himself had only just arrived as he had missed trains somewhere along the route & had been delayed a day; he had wired to the chief to have me met at the station. The tent I had slept in, belonged to a man who was coming up next day, so it was all right.

There were two parties in the Astronomical camp at Sahdol, 1stly the English party consisting of The Astronomer Royal (Christie), Turner & others, unfortunately Dr Common had decided at the last not to come {20}; & 2nd the Madras Party, with Michie Smith the Government Astronomer as chief, & several others among whom Campbell was one; it was this party which I joined, & as soon as I was introduced to Michie Smith he said he would like to make use of me during the eclipse as he was rather short of hands; I had not really quite wanted to be employed, as I had intended to get a good view of the phenomenon; still of course I could hardly refuse, especially as he added ‘you will be able to see the eclipse all right’; further, I was a little pleased at taking a real part (so to speak) in the observations.

During the days which elapsed before the eclipse we lived a rough & tumble sort of life, sleeping in our tents at night under a great pile of blankets, for it was very cold, & wearing thin clothes during the day because of the great heat. The range of shade temperature was from 80 to 30 and this hardly really gives an idea of the heat in the middle of the day, because it is the sun itself which makes it seem so warm. Hot at 5 PM at 5.30 the sun would set, at 6 one wanted a small coat & before 6.30 one needed an ulster, & we often dined in our ulsters in the evening.

We saw something of Christie & Turner & the others of their party; their instruments were especial eclipse instruments, & were similar to the ones I had seen in Norway the summer before last {21}. Our instruments, on the other hand were all general observatory instruments & had to be adapted for eclipse work.

M. Smith himself used a heliostat which was erected on a mound he had had made, some 15 ft high which went by the name of “Mount Sahdol” in the camp. I don’t propose to give a detailed description, but the heliostat is in the main a revolving mirror, & this one reflected the sun down a long 40 ft tube & so by means of lenses to an image on a photographic plate. M Smith & several of the party worked at this; & Campbell was put in charge of another instrument with your humble servant to assist him. This instrument consisted of an ordinary equatorial telescope, with an apparatus (at the end, where the eye would usually be placed) for photographic plates. An “equatorial” I may describe as an ordinary telescope which can be turned towards the sun or a star, & which by means of clock work is made to move so that it continually points towards the same object while the earth goes round its axis during the day. The photographic arrangement was made so as to enable a number of plates to be exposed in succession.

[Alongside the following words is a rough sketch of the telescope and case.] I am afraid my powers of drawing are quite unequal to making you understand even the principle of the thing. The first picture is intended to be a diagrammatic sketch of the telescope & case for the plates {22}. [Alongside the following words is a rough sketch of the case.] The second to show the case for the plates alone. In this the telescope is supposed to be pointing through the paper, with the eye piece end in contact with the plate marked A; then by turning the case round by means of the handles B, each of the plate† successively could be brought into the same position.

Campbell’s business it was to turn the case round, & call out to me the times of exposure, while I stood on a couple of packing cases, & did the exposures by taking off & on my straw hat (!) at the end C.

During the days before the eclipse I was given a good many calculations to do, & worked out from formulae the times of 1st 2nd 3rd & 4th contacts [Alongside the following words are diagrams of the four contacts between sun and moon] ie, the times of commencement of eclipse, commencement of totality, end of totality, & end of eclipse. These times seem to have been verified pretty closely by observation, but they could not be very accurate, as we were not quite certain of our longitude. The totality was about 103 seconds; and the whole eclipse began about 0h–13m–9s & ended 3h–1m–46s local time. The last day before the eclipse we had several practices of the work we had to do. The programme for our instrument was as follows: A few seconds before totality I take off the real cap of the instrument & replace it by my straw hat; then totality having begun, Campbell opens the shutter & calls out “½” whereupon I expose for a guessed ½ second, Campbell rotates the case & calls out “1” & I expose for about a second; then 2, 4, 8, 16, 8, 4, 1, in succession, the longer times I count with a bell which is ringing out seconds. And during the longer exposures I am to have time to look at the eclipse. We find that we have just nice time to get through these 10 exposures during the 103 seconds. After that, Campbell shuts the shutter, I put on the real cap, & afterwards ½ a minute after totality is over, give a very rapid exposure of the partial phase by means of a slit (Campbell raising the shutter meanwhile).

I have not mentioned that the place where we were encamped was in a clearing which had been made right in the middle of the jungle; one day a man brought home a tiger which he had shot less than 2 miles from the camp!

[22 Jan.] Saturday all is ready; & about the calculated time the eclipse begins in a cloudless sky.

During the partial phase I noticed several things the exact opposite of what I saw in Norway; in the first place whereas there the light seemed to remain about the same up to within a minute or two of totality & then to get rapidly darker, here the light seemed to get gradually less all the way through; secondly whereas there the horns of the solar crescent were particularly pointed I noted here that they appeared cut off—no doubt an optical effect.

Thus at Vadsö phases were [There follow sketches of three phases of the solar crescent] here they seemed to be more like this [There follow sketches of five phases, the first and last crossed through.]

It is getting darker, only a few seconds remain to totality.

“There’s Venus!” cries M. Smith.

“There’s the Corona.”

Our work begins.


It’s all over & it’s getting light again.

What have we seen? In the first place let me say that our work somewhat interfered with our appreciation of the phenomenon as a whole; but—though this has to be borne in mind—I am compelled to admit (& I know that I am open to the charge of want of artistic sense in saying it) I was disappointed! I think that was probably because I had been led to expect so much. This feeling of mine was shared by a good many of those observers who were seeing an eclipse for the first time.

To begin with, it never got really very dark, I don’t think it was as dark even as totality in Norway; in the second place there was no shadow to be seen; & thirdly there were hardly any colour effects.

Having said all this, I have probably said too much. We saw the corona, we saw at least one prominence, & we saw Venus & I think Mars & Mercury. The Corona itself is somewhat less tangible or real than one is led to imagine, & looks really much more like the extending rays of the sun which one sometimes sees in England. It is very often drawn like this [There follows a sketch of the sun with rays, or streamers, radiating from it] which gives you an idea that the lines of the streamers go in the directions of the lines drawn. In reality what is shown above is only intended as an outline of all the streamers that there are; I should attempt to draw it as below. [There follows another similar sketch, with a greater number of radial streamers.] all the streamers appearing radial.

The picture I have just drawn represents somewhat the corona of the present eclipse. Out in the direction A was to be seen Venus shining very brightly; & somewhat further on & a little above were Mercury & Mars. When the sun’s disc was covered, a very bright spot could be seen at B. To some this appeared of the same colour as the sun itself, & it flashed through their mind that it might be Vulcan, the conjectured inner planet, but for my own part at any rate this idea was immediately dismissed, 1stly because it was much too bright, 2nd because it was much too big. Other observers saw the spot a brilliant red. It was in fact an exceptionally fine prominence. It comes out well in the 2 photographs which I saw developed, before I left Sahdol; & there are a number of other mushroom shaped prominences to be seen in them as well.

The colour of the corona was, as one is always told, a sort of milky white, & objects on the earth were a dull slate colour.

The horizon, or parts of it, appeared to be bright all through the phenomenon, but some people saw cloudlike shadows on distant hills.

Altogether it was a very fine eclipse, & I was very pleased to have an opportunity of seeing it & taking part in the observations. It was only as a stupendously grand phenomenon, which should indelibly imprint itself upon the mind, & remain there as the most wonderful thing ever seen, that it seemed to me not to fulfil one’s expectation. This impression appears to be shared by the great majority (from what I hear now) of those who saw it.

The fact that we never saw the shadow moving is perhaps to be accounted for by the fact that we only commanded a very limited horizon; but I was given to understand than† one man who had gone up a hill, had not observed it either. Perhaps it is to be connected with the gradual withdrawal of light; but this term is only relative. Moreover people viewing it from other places seem to have observed a sudden withdrawal {23}. Lastly as to colour effects, I suppose it would always be difficult to account satisfactorily for their appearance or non-appearance. Some people apparently saw changes of colour of the inner corona; these I had no opportunity of observing; but in any case I don’t believe they can be seen well unless one deliberately shuts or covers one’s eyes for several minutes before totality begins.

{24} This sheet is by way of being a sort of postscript to my second encyclical. A few pages back I described to you how I had to wait 7 hours at Bankipore; at the present moment I am in a still worse predicament, because I am stranded here (Bankipore again) till my luggage turns up. I saw it booked & labelled at Mozuffapore, but even so it never seems to have been put into the train; & I dare not go any further without it lest I should be divorced from it altogether. Rather hopeless! but I keep the official busy telegraphing & it may ultimately turn up. You can perhaps imagine that the frame of mind I am in is not very conducive to letter writing, & especially is delay disagreeable to me as just at the present, I want all the time I can get, in order to put in everything that I ought to do up here, before going down to join Booty {25} by Feby 26. As you know he lives in S. Canara & in order to avoid the possibility of plague quarantine I shall probably have to go all round by Calcutta Madras & Calicut.

I have just spent a very jolly 2 or 3 days with Adie {26}, coming in for the tail of Mozuffapore week. Sports, tournaments, races, dances all formed part of the programme, & crowds of people as one thinks out here (perhaps 3 or 4 hundred) had come into the station from the surrounding country. [26 Jan.] The last evening, Wednesday, we had a delightful fancy dress ball; of course having stopped 10 days at M— at Xmas time I knew quite a number of people & enjoyed myself immensely. A Pierrot costume is very much more pleasant to dance in than dress clothes. [27 Jan.] I stayed over Thursday & went out to dinner that night, & left by train 1.30 A.M, intending to get on to Benares this morning; but alas man proposes and ——. Every now & again I take train down to the river & take steamer across to meet the trains coming from Mozuffapore, but so far I have met with no success.

[2 Feb.] Roorkee Feby 2. Well you see here I am & not without my luggage! The last occasion of my crossing the river, for which this description was broken off, ended in my finding my luggage come by the Mozuffapore train; I returned with it in triumph, went & looked up a man in Bankipore whom I had met at M—, had dinner with him & caught night train on to Benares. Now I expect you will want a detailed description of what I saw in Benares, and this is just what you won’t get. The really fine thing is the view of the city from the Ganges. I got on to a small boat & was paddled very slowly down. You see the banks are high & slope down into the water; all the temples and Rajahs’ palaces are built at a normal height on the side away from the river; then they have a great wall & steps down on the river side, so that from the water they stand up perhaps 100 feet or more. Then there are a great number of people bathing & washing clothes in the Ganges because it is the sacred river, though you may be sure it is dirty enough really. I am afraid I have made this really grand & impressive Oriental sight only appear ridiculous.

I think in the last page I was speaking of Benares {27}, the great feature of which is the view of the city from the river. Of course there are temples without number, & among them is the monkey temple, where monkeys roam about at their pleasure & issue forth to steal from the surrounding suburb. Then there is the learned holy man who alone of all the holy men one comes across is not prepared to receive a gratuity; he shakes hands with you & presents you with a copy of his commentary on the Vedas.

Lucknow must always be memorable for the successful defence of the Residency during 5 months of siege. I was shown all over the Residency compound & received instruction from the native who is in charge, & who frequently brought his sentences to a close with “and outside there were 50,000 & inside but 2000 men”. And then I went into the grave yard where are buried those who fell during the siege; into this none but Europeans are allowed to go. There I found the famous tomb with the inscription

Here lies
Henry Lawrence
Who tried to do his duty

Altogether the graves were very simple, & the whole effect very impressive.

At Lucknow I also saw the great palace of the king of Oudh; a huge quadrangle all coloured with saffron, not really very fine art, but a thing not to be forgotten.

And so I went on to Roorkee & arriving 4.50 A.M found my friend Tipple awaiting me at the railway station; awfully good of him I thought, especially as it was quite dark & I subsequently found he didn’t as a rule get up till 7.30. “But” said he “it isn’t everyday I get a visitor come & see me, in fact you are the first & I have been out here nearly a year.” Tipple is Professor at Roorkee Thomason College, & during the day while he was occupied, I went also to the labs and spent my time in trying without much success to arrange an apparatus for distilling some very dirty mercury. Then when work was over we played lawn tennis or rowed or rode; & in the evening we either dined alone & talked of old times or we went around to the R.E officers’ mess of which I was courteously made an honorary member during my stay at Roorkee. Altogether a quiet time but very pleasant.

One day Tipple was talking & said that one of the disadvantages of the place was that there was nowhere to get away to from Saturday to Monday. The next day I got a letter from Hutchinson—who came out with me on the Caledonia—saying he was assistant magistrate at Moradabad & his chief was H. S. Rix another old friend of mine. Now Moradabad is quite close to Roorkee, & I found Tipple knew both the men too; so we at once settled to make a Sat–Mon trip over there. [5–7 Feb.] You will perhaps modify your idea of what I call “quite close” when you hear that it took us 7 hours to get over there, & 4 hours in the middle of the night, to come back; the distance was in fact 100 miles, but to a globe trotter who has covered some 2000 miles in the previous 3 weeks c’est une bagatelle. It was rather a relief to be travelling without all my baggage, for my boy by careful subdivision of packages has brought the number up to 14 in all including two of his own. And we spent an extremely pleasant little week end, & it seemed quite like dear Old Cambridge again. {28}

And so I went back to Roorkee, & finished out my stay there & started for Delhi having spent a very pleasant week.

(Before I forget, did I tell you that one day at Calcutta when I was driving through a very narrow street of the bazaar, it got so bad that the driver had to take the horse out to get the small victoria round one of the narrow corners?)

I had a letter of introduction to one of the members of the Cambridge Mission to Delhi, from the Master of Trinity; so when I went to Delhi I stopped at the Mission House, which was once a Rajah’s palace & is a fine old place in a quaint compound.

I do not propose to say anything—at any rate now—on the subject of Mission work, but it was very jolly meeting so many old Cambridge men. I found one man who was up in Trinity in my year. And there was also a layman there who was able to go about a bit with me as he had not much to do.

But my sight seeing in Delhi was somewhat spoilt by the rain, & I am afraid my recollections of the town will always be mixed up with mud & slush. Of course in reality Delhi is not more favoured with rain than other places, & that which they had when I was there was the only rain since October. Arrangements in India are not intended for rain—at any rate in the winter—the interiors of bungalows become very dark, & of course there is little or nothing to be done outside. I suppose however that rain is always “the deluge!”—so to speak—to an idle globetrotter.

The interest of Delhi is of 3 kinds:—1st reminiscences of the mutiny 2nd buildings of the town 3rd the ruins to the south & the Kutb.

Of the reminiscences of the mutiny I do not propose to say anything because no short words of mine can bring them vividly before you. A mixture of sadness & pride must always fill the mind whenever they are exhibited, & these cannot be conveyed in words.

Of the buildings of the town, the fort or palace, & the great wall which runs all round Delhi are relics of the past, while the Jumna Musjid (or Friday Mosque) is used still by Mohammedans; [11 Feb.] I went there Friday morning & at 1 o’clock the mosque itself & the great open court yard which faces it was crowded with worshippers. {29} All men. At a signal they stood up. At a signal they knelt upright. At a signal they knelt with their foreheads touching the ground. A wonderful sight 2 or 4 thousand men all taking part in worship, all acting together. Rather a different thing from the way people get up to sing a hymn in our churches at home.

Some 10 miles south of the city is the great Kutb {30}, a monument some 240 ft high, built of red sandstone with a little marble in places & wonderfully carved. Truly a fine sight & worth coming 10 miles to see; it is in 5 storeys, & there is supposed to be some arithmetic relation between the height of the separate storeys. (I have just read through what I have written & have come to the conclusion that it is utterly fatuous & futile to attempt to describe—at least for me—& the only thing to do would be to copy out the guide book & this I don’t intend to do.)

Between the city & the Kutb are ruins of former cities & tombs, ruins & tombs, tombs & ruins. Some of the tombs are stately marble buildings, some are of the universal red sandstone, all have the dome of the mosque, being tombs of Mohammedan rulers. (an unintentional hexameter)

Of ancient appearance: one dreams of pyramidal antiquity, & it is rather a surprise to learn that they don’t date back as many hundreds as the pyramids† thousands of years.

But if Delhi was perhaps a little disappointing (that was no doubt due partly to the weather), Agra I felt to be most beautiful. And of all things the Taj. The tomb erected by Shah Jehan for his favourite wife. Wondrous structure of white marble of colossal dimensions, of perfect proportions, of the most delicate workmanship. Exquisite carving, labour of years of thousands of skilled men.

The Taj gardens surround it & there in the shade it is possible to sit & gaze & gaze upon the sublime structure.

Many other beautiful things I saw in Agra, & one day I cycled out to a wonderful old Palace at Fatehpur Sikri, sleeping the night there. The next day I wandered about among the ruins & inspected the tomb surrounded by marble screens of beautiful trellis work; & in the evening I returned home.

I was fortunate in coming across several old Varsity men, also globe trotting; 2 Cambridge men & an Oxford man; none of them I knew before, but of course I found we had many friends in common.

From Agra I went to Gwalior where I slept a night. Gwalior is in a Native State, but there is an English Resident there & the whole place seemed to me quite as English if not more so than the English territory. I stayed at the Guest House which is a kind of Hotel, but more like an English Country house than the ordinary Indian Hotel; & I was the only person there.

I drove out to the foot of the fort, & then I rode on an elephant up to the top & was shown all round. It is a grand place & looks quite impregnable, but I am told that at the present day it can be reached by artillery from the distant hills. I also drove to the Palace. The Maharajah is very fond of trains, & has a little private line which runs right into the palace.

Now here I am at Bombay {31} (did I mention before that some of the tram horses here wear hats!) & I sail for Mangalore to see Booty on Friday Feb 25


Square brackets in the MS have been replaced in the transcript by round brackets.

{1} ‘Ghusl’ is, strictly speaking, a form of Islamic ritual washing; ‘garum pani’ is Hindi for hot water.

{2} Sir Arthur Havelock.

{3} Friday, 19 November. See The Times, 15 Nov. 1897, p. 6.

{4} In his autobiography Lawrence added: ‘“All passengers on deck” was called out at the danger point where a former ship, the William and Mary, had been sunk with passengers trapped below. But we encountered no trouble and arrived safely in port.’ (Fate Has Been Kind, p. 38.)

{5} Lawrence apparently crossed the Ganges by steamer at Bankipore (Patna) earlier in the day. See 6/11.

{6} Not identified.

{7} This man has not been identified, though Lawrence later recorded (see p. 53) that he was a Cambridge man of the same year as himself who had been at Pembroke College.

{8} Lawrence probably left Muzaffarpur on 3 or 4 January, which was the intention he expressed in a letter to his sister Ellen on 27 December (6/16), but it does not appear possible to be precise. His letter from Calcutta to his father on 5 January (6/11) gives the impression that he had only just arrived there, and he later recorded (p. 56) that he stayed at Calcutta for ‘about a fortnight’ (he left on the 17th). This evidence cannot be reconciled precisely with his statements elsewhere (6/11; p. 93) that he was at Muzaffarpur for only ten days (this would indicate that he left on the 1 or 2 January), but perhaps these were simply rough estimates.

{9} Henry Babington Smith. He had been elected a fellow of Trinity in 1890 and was in India from 1894 to 1899 as private secretary to the Earl of Elgin.

{10} H. M. Butler.

{11} See 6/11.

{12} See 6/11, 6/3. This party too was held at Government House.

{13} See 6/3 and the Times of India, 17 Jan. 1898, p. 5.

{14} See 6/3. Douglass (sic) had been at the Oxford Mission in Calcutta since 1892. See The Times, 25 July 1949, p. 7.

{15} Henry Whitehead, Principal of Bishop’s College and Superior of the Oxford Mission, Calcutta; afterwards Bishop of Madras. He was brother of the mathematician and philosopher A. N. Whitehead, a Fellow of Trinity.

{16} This visit was made before Lawrence wrote to his aunt on the 12th. See 6/3.

{17} This man has not been identified.

{18} A new gathering (pp. 71–90) begins here, the contents of which were evidently written during Lawrence’s seven-hour wait at Bankipore station during his journey from Sahdol to Mozuffapore, about 26 January. This section contains a number of later annotations in pencil, evidently made in the process of producing an edited report of the eclipse, but the purpose for which this was done is not known.

{19} An attendant or messenger.

{20} The report of the expedition led by Sir William Christie, with a plan of the site, was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, lxiv (17 Nov. 1898–16 Mar. 1899), 1–21, and as an appendix to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol. lviii (1898). See also Christie’s papers in the Cambridge University Library (RGO 7/198).

{21} At Vadsö. See Fate Has Been Kind, pp. 36–7.

{22} ‘telescope … plates’ written above ‘whole without showing the supports or the clock’, struck through.

{23} ‘a sudden withdrawal’ written above ‘the opposite’, struck through.

{24} A new folded sheet (pp. 91–4) begins here. The first two paragraphs were written on 28 January, while Lawrence was at Bankipore waiting for his luggage.

{25} Percy Abbey Booty, a friend of Lawrence’s from Trinity. He had entered the ICS in 1894, and at the time of Lawrence’s tour was Head Assistant Magistrate and Collector at Mangalore.

{26} Lawrence probably arrived at Mazuffapur about 25 January. In a letter to his Uncle Edwin on 5 January Lawrence had written that he would probably return there from the 23rd to the 28th, ‘when the special Mozuffapore week is on’. But it would appear that his stay was not as long as he had intended, perhaps owing to his delay at Bankipore. He left for Benares very early on the morning of the 28th (p. 94).

{27} This suggests that the previous part of the letter was despatched before this one was begun.

{28} The ink changes here.

{29} The ink changes here.

{30} Lawrence drove out to the Kut’b on 11 February. See 6/17.

{31} Lawrence arrived at Bombay some time between 20 February, when he was still in the train from Agra (p. 140), and the 23rd, when he wrote from Bombay to his aunt enclosing the conclusion of this encyclical (6/4). For some of his activities there see 6/21.

† Sic.

Circular letter by F. W. Lawrence

Account of a journey via Nellore, Madras, Calcutta, Mozufferpore, Calcutta, Sahdol, Mozufferpore, Benares, Lucknow, Roorkee (with an excursion to Moradabad), Delhi, Agra, Gwalior, and Bombay.

(A continuation of 5/30c. Headed ‘4th encyclical’. The first section of this letter (pp. 167–70) was written just before leaving Adelaide on 18 May, the second (pp. 171–5 and the first ten words on p. 176) at Blackheath, between 28 and 30 May. The rest was written before leaving for New Zealand on 2 June.)



4th encyclical

A short time is open to me to write & catch the mail here at Adelaide, before starting off to catch the train to Melbourne.

[2 May] I found P. Alden on board the Britannia at Colombo, we went ashore & drove out to Mt Lavinia & back, & after a pleasant day returned to the boat for dinner {1}.

Then passed 10 days with very little of especial interest to note; only a very small number of passengers; so games of quoits, conversation, books & meals were the only thing which relieved the monotony of an expanse of Ocean.

[12 May] At last we reached Albany at day break Thursday 12th, went on shore to breakfast, & climbed up the hill at the back of the town & got a fine view of the harbour. Then back to the boat & off again before lunch {2}. A fair number of extra people had joined us at Albany, many of whom were going on to Sydney a passage of 8 or 9 days(!).

We settled to get off at Adelaide & go on by train which would give us more time. We expected to get in Sunday afternoon {3}; but at 2 AM the Captain who had not been able to see sun or stars for 2 days, did not like to venture further in a very strong wind, with rocks not far away, & a mist hanging all about. So we turned right round, & beat against the wind running back towards Albany at about a knot or two an hour; this till 10 AM then round again, slowly for another 6 hours, & so on through the day; [16 May] about 6 AM Monday we were able to get along, & got in here about 8 PM.

The waves all the time had been very big, & we rolled a great deal; I think it would have been a great deal more, if we had tried to get along, & the wind had been broadside on. We had had the fiddles off and on all the way from Colombo {4}, but on Sunday things nearly jumped out of them. The waves were nearly as fierce as in my journey across to U.S.A in the “Gallia” {5}.

We got away & came up by train to the town & to this hotel.

[17 May] Yesterday I went to call at Government House & was invited to stay to lunch; I found the Buxtons {6} very pleasant, the son whom I know was not there but was expected in a few days.

[18 May] This morning we drove up to the hills & got a grand view; & I went to lunch afterwards with the Bishop {9} to whom also I had a letter from the Master of Trinity {10}.

{9) I am writing to you from “Blackheath”, not the Blackheath of our native land, & yet not the Blackheath of a foreigner, for the Australians are not foreigners, but a Blackheath up in the Blue Mountains—a very beautiful Blackheath; here are Percy & I with a Professor of the Sydney University {12} in a little cottage belonging to him: I have just had a game of chess with the Professor & another with a friend of his {13} who is staying here also, & now while I am writing this they are playing against one another. The last I wrote you was from Adelaide & I gave a hasty exposition of events up to the time of writing; I think I said there was not much to relate about our voyage, & that was about true, but perhaps I might have mentioned the chief engineer who used to sit at our table. He possessed such an abysmal ignorance of any & every subject that he was a great treat. We wanted to know once how long it would take to get from Sydney to Hong Kong; “Well” said he “I daresay about 8 days, you see the boats are very slow & they stop at a large number of ports” We found out afterwards that he had even had a daughter who had lived & died in the Manillas. On another occasion he thought that the population of Scotland was about 30 million. But his great feat was his method of parrying questions; asked whether supposing we got in at daybreak at a port we should get away again before 12, he would say “we aren’t in at daybreak yet” & consider that that absolutely settled the matter.

There was also an old man whom we called the Ancient Mariner, because he had a habit of fixing his gaze upon you stopping you, & narrating a long yarn; only as people said, he stopped more than one of three. Moreover his yarns generally took the form of an argument, in which the only part in the performance you were allowed to play was that of yessing & noing. At times however when it was a tale, he filled in every particular, & the most fastidious enquirer need not have gone away without receiving full information upon the antecedent & surviving relatives of every one of the principal characters. “I wonder whether you ever met a man of the name of Henson” he would say “a very charming young fellow”—you hastily endeavour to quell the approaching narrative by pointing out that unluckily you never had the pleasure—“ah I used to know his father before he was married —————— at last returning to our friend we have the story of his life & death—he left a widow & 3 children, the eldest was a girl who went out to Melbourne & there she married ——— till all surviving members of the family have been exhausted—Ah he was a charming fellow, it is a pity you never met him”.

There was an Australian & her daughter—quite harmless but inclined to exaggeration.

“You will like Melbourne, & I am sure you will admire our women”—said the old lady, once, who by the way was one of the ugliest people I have ever seen—“they are the most beautiful women in the world; & they know how how† to dress, & what’s more they’ve got the money to do it!”

But you must not take her as a typical Australian.

Of the rest, there was an English girl, a married couple from Madras, & a few others, but no one very exciting.

At Albany got on somewhat of a scratch lot, but among them some very decent fellows who told us a good deal about gold mines.

I don’t think there is a† very much to add about the storm; we were landed in a huddle at Adelaide with all our luggage except my bicycle & big trunk & our deck chairs leaving these to be put off at Sydney which they dont seem as how they have been being probably at Melbourne; fortunately I am not in a hurry for them.

After our two days at Adelaide we took the night train on to Melbourne {14}. The meal arrangements seemed funny to me after my experience in India, for when we stopped for dinner, we got out in crowds, instead of the 2 or 3 first class passengers to which I had been accustomed; & closely packed sleeping accomodation† with railway conductor to make up the beds seemed unlike the extensive apartment generally all to oneself in the Indian railways.

Melbourne customs very rigorous, & they made me pay 10/– on a pair of new boots & a pair of new shoes which were in my trunk. Lucky I did not bring bike & large trunk; otherwise I should have become bankrupt.

Menzies Hotel very pleasant & comfortable though not the luxurious palace, we had been told about; not in the same street with any of the American hotels or even with the “Australia Hotel” at Sydney. Perhaps the word “even” in the last sentence should go out, for the Sydney hotel is really extremely fine.

Cook, the traveller’s friend, [was] of great service in every way, {15} & insisted upon our taking then & there tickets home to London, via Hong Kong, Yokohama & go-as-you-please-in-America; really a very great saving of expense; you see there is a competition between this route, the Cape Horn route, & the P & O. We also fixed up definitely our points up to our arrival in America: you see this was necessary in order to let A.J.L. {16} know when to start if she proposes to meet me in California. In order to see the wonders of the Western States it is necessary to arrive there in September; so it became a question whether we should arrive there in that month, or else cut them altogether. Counsel for the latter urged that we might in this way see more of Australasia, & that the other place must inevitably reduce our time in China to a minimum. Counsel for the former urged that 2 months were enough for Australasia, & that the present year was not the time to do much inland travel in China. In the end the latter counsels prevailed especially as Percy in any case would go on to U.S.A. in time to reach home in October. So we leave here on July 2, reach Hong Kong July 22, go and visit Canton, & leave again about July 26; then boat stopping in passing at the Chinese ports, & finally arrive at Kobe; then after 3 weeks in Japan, take O & O boat via Honolulu to Frisco, which we reach September 10. Percy goes nearly straight home, but I expect to stay in the states till nearly the end of the year.

Melbourne has excellent cable cars, & by riding in the “dummy” we were able to see a good deal of the city: the cars are much better than the Chicago ones, a start & stop with very little jerk. The city itself is something between an American and an English town; but like the former has its 12 storey buildings standing in juxtaposition to little bits of cottages.

[20 May] Federation is in the air all round; the first day we arrived, there was a meeting of the delegates invited by the Mayor from surrounding cities of Victoria {15}. We went, & found no one but delegates were admitted, but Percy sent in his card as deputy Mayor of West Ham, & we were allowed in. [21 May] We also went to a public meeting the next day. Altogether it was very interesting to hear what was to be said. You know there is to be a Referendum on the question at the end of this week. The expectation is that Victoria, S. Australia & West Aus[trali]a & also Tasmania will carry it without difficulty, but that N. S. Wales may refuse it (Queensland is not in it at all) principally owing to underrepresentation in the Senate, & to the probable introduction of protective duties. Of course the bill abolishes (in course of time) the intercolonial duties, but Sydney is afraid that her free trade (with the outside world) which has brought her such prosperity will be forced from her.

One day we went to Ballarat to see a gold mine; we spent 10 hours getting there & back & had 4 hours there, but as it was thoroughly wet while we were in the train, & quite fine while we were there, & we saw all we wanted to, we were quite satisfied. In the first place I was thoroughly disabused of any idea I might have had of finding a semi barbarous village; Ballarat is as civilised a town as you would find anywhere, with comfortable hotels, & I am told that this is nearly equally true of any gold mining centre which has been “going” for the greater part of a year.—Of course Ballarat is several years old—. First we were taken over the machinery—great big vast machinery to crush large quantities of rock, to get out a little tiny quantity of the greedy metal. Something had gone wrong with the works, so the mining was not going on there, & we were taken across to another “claim” which was in working order. First we took off all our clothes & donned mining costume; Percy looked exactly like a cutthroat & he tries to make out I was worse because all the buttons were off my shirt; anyhow I don’t think either of us looked the sort of chap you would care to meet in an out of the way place in a dark night. Then we were crammed into a cage & went down. A much more rough & tumble place than a coal mine: quite warm: gold exists in intrusion quartz: quartz in a narrow band: shaft first sunk to the bottom of it & as dug out, debris falls to the ground & men rise to a higher level: two or three big pumps kept continually working to keep free of water.

So back & up & dress & home.

In the train meet some pleasant University dons: learn that my friend Naylor {19} on whom I had called is away from Melbourne for a few days.

One evening to the theatre to see Wilson Bennett† in The Manxman;—the book I read while I was on the Britannia—don’t care much for the dramatisation; & only good acting done by Maud Jeffreys {17}.

[22 x 27 May] Train to Sydney by night. Had found it really cold at Melbourne, & very cold in train; Sydney warm again as at Adelaide. Very energetic, pay a number of calls on day of arrival, start the ball rolling; & can pick up some of threads on return from New Zealand. Practically all Percy’s friends. Robjohns {22} & his family of whom son is at Mansfield House, Dunstan {23}, MacArthur {24}, Sir J Fairfax {25} & others; also Wood his fellow student at Balliol {26}, & Scott his old tutor both professors of the University in Sydney. The latter invites us up to his cottage at Blackheath in the blue mountains which we gladly accept for Sat–Mon. We hire bicycles for the week & find them very handy: but streets of Sydney odd sorts of things. Town is much more like an English town except that it is on a peninsular like N. York & all traffic into the city flows one way. Principal locomotion effected by what are euphemiously described as trams, but would more correctly be called street trains; in addition to these there are large omnibuses, & the streets are narrow. However the annual number of killed & wounded does not seem enough for alterations to be made. Centennial park outside the city is a fine place to cycle in. Sydney harbour the finest in the world is a marvel & very beautiful.

[28 May] Away to Blackheath, & find capital weather, & though 3,500 feet up quite balmy. Delightful cottage: afternoon walk on Saturday, & [29 May] day trip taking lunch with us on Sunday. Impossible to give an idea of the scenery. Up on a plateau, looking down wonderful gorges with precipitous rocks of sandstone. Everywhere the white trunk & dark leaves of the gum tree. Miles look like feet; & ‘a little way off’ a long walk scrambling through the bush. Percy says it is something like the Rockies.

A game of lawn tennis & back to Sydney charmed with the Blue Mountains, & charmed also to have had some “Ekker” {28}.

To the theatre to see the “Squire of Dames” {29} jolly little piece & well acted.

And now we are off to New Zealand. When I was at home I used to imagine that this was either a part of Australia or at any rate only separated from it by a narrow channel. I fancy other people know better than this, but I doubt whether they realise that it takes very nearly as long to get there direct from here as to cross the Atlantic! Nevertheless we are starting away to get there with about the same feeling as if we were crossing the British channel for 10 days in Paris, & all the luggage I am to be allowed to take is two rags & a b—I mean two rugs & a bag, or rather two bags & a rug.

We are going to confine ourselves to the North Island in order not to be too much rushed, & we shall probably stop a few days in Wellington where we have several friends; & spend about a fortnight in New Zealand altogether. They tell us we shall find the climate very much like England.

In the meantime as you won’t get any further letters for a long while, I propose to conclude my 4th encyclical leaving it for my 5th to take us up to the date of our departure for Hong Kong.

As to letters to me, I dont think it will be safe to address to Yokohama (Chartered Bank of India Australia & China) after July 12, & after that date as I shall be homeward bound all letters sent up till Aug 26 or at any rate Aug 23 should reach me on the same date viz on Sept 10 when I arrive at San Francisco (address c/o T. Cook & Son.)

In concluding, a few words about my impression of Australia & Australians as far as I have gone. I think the following expresses the matter

Australia = 1/3 English, 1/3 American, 1/3 ——
Australians = 1/2 ——, 1/4 ——, 1/4 ——

by this I don’t mean that there are Americans living here, but I am trying to give you an idea of what Australia is like by comparing it with U.S.A.

But perhaps I should add that Sydney is much more English than even the above estimate & planted here unawares one might suppose oneself in an English Provincial town.


{1} The Britannia left Colombo on 2 May. See The Argus (Melbourne), 4 May 1898, p. 5.

{2} The Britannia arrived at Albany at 6 a.m. and sailed for Adelaide at noon. See the South Australian Register, 13 May 1898, p. 5, which gives a list of the passengers in the saloon.

{3} On 18 May the South Australian Register reported (p. 3): ‘Anxiety was felt on account of the non-arrival of the R.M.S. Britannia at Largs Bay on Sunday, May 15. The vessel was expected to arrive at 3 p.m. on that day, but did not reach the anchorage until 7 o’clock on Monday evening, May 16. Heavy weather caused the delay.’

{4} A fiddle is ‘a contrivance to prevent things from rolling off the table in bad weather’. See W. H. Smyth, Sailor’s Word-Book (1867).

{5} Cf. Fate Has Been Kind, p. 36.

{6} Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 3rd Bt (1837–1915), Governor of South Australia, 1895–1899, and his wife Lady Victoria (née Noel) (1839–1916).

{7} John Reginald Harmer (1857–1944), Bishop of Adelaide, 1895–1905; a Fellow of Corpus Christi, Cambridge.

{8} H. M. Butler. The ink changes here.

{9} This section was begun some time between 28 and 30 May.

{10} Walter Scott (1855–1925), Professor of Classics at the University of Sydney, 1885–1900. He had been Percy Alden’s tutor at Balliol, 1884–1885, and like Alden and Lawrence was involved in the settlement movement. He was President of the Toynbee Guild, a settlement at Sydney, in 1897.

{11} Probably G. A. Wood.

{12} They arrived at Adelaide late on 16 May and spent two days there, taking a night train to Melbourne, which suggests they probably arrived on 19 May, but Lawrence referred to the 20th as ‘the first day we arrived’ (p. 178); perhaps he meant the first full day.

{13} The ink changes here, which may explain the confused grammar of the sentence.

{14} Annie Jane Lawrence.

{15} This event, which took place on 20 May in the form of a luncheon in the Town Hall, was widely reported. About 200 delegates attended. See, e.g. The Argus, 21 May 1898, p. 11. The Mayor referred to was Malcolm McEacharn, the shipping magnate, who was Mayor of Melbourne from 1897–1900.

{16} H. Darnley Naylor, lecturer in classics at Ormond College, Melbourne University; a contemporary of Lawrence’s at Trinity.

{17} The Wilson Barrett (sic) Company produced The Manxman—Barrett’s own adaptation of Hall Caine’s novel of 1894—at the Princess Theatre from 21 May to 2 June. Maud Jeffries (sic), Barrett’s leading lady, was born in the USA but spent the latter part of her life in New Zealand.

{18} The Rev. H. T. Robjohns was born at Tavistock, but in 1883 he was appointed an agent for the British and Foreign Bible Society in Australia and he and his family emigrated to that country, where he became pastor of the Hunter’s Hill Congregational Church. His son Leonard, who also became a Congregationalist minister, was at Mansfield College from about 1895 but in July 1898 accepted a call to become pastor of the Rose Park Congregational Church at Adelaide. See The Advertiser (Adelaide), 8 July 1898, p. 15, which contains a few biographical notes.

{19} The Rev. E. T. Dunstan was born at Kilkhampton in Cornwall but emigrated to Australia to take charge of the Trinity Congregational Church at Perth. Afterwards (till 1902) he was pastor of the Pitt Street Congregational Church in Sydney.

{20} Not identified.

{21} Sir James Fairfax, proprietor of the Sydney Morning Herald. He was connected with the Pitt Street Congregational Church.

{22} G. A. Wood, Challis Professor of History in the University of Sydney.

{23} Exercise (university slang).

{24} The Squire of Dames, an English version by R. C. Carton of the play L’Ami des femmes by Alexandre Dumas fils, was produced at the Criterion Theatre, Sydney, from 28 May to 3 June, by Charles Cartwright and his company, who were touring Australia. For a review see the Sydney Morning Herald, 30 May, p. 3.

† Sic.

Circular letter by F. W. Lawrence

Account of a journey via Colombo, Albany, Adelaide, Melbourne and Ballarat, Sydney, Blackheath, and Sydney.

(A continuation of 5/30d. The first sentence is ‘A fifth encyclical!’ This letter was begun after 2 June and finished about 3 July.)



A fifth encyclical! From the Antipodes! Ridiculously short stay. Percy also is writing what with doubtful financial accuracy he terms a circular note; &—must I reveal—referring constantly to his Murray. Tell it not!

[2 June.] A boat two days late starting from Sydney. {1} A somewhat scratch lot of passengers. A combined smell of kerosene oil & oranges. A steward who unnecessarily shuts our port hole & rouses us at dawn of day. Alas luxurious P & O what has† thou done for us that we have become so particular? Where is thy lengthy promenade? Where thy spacious saloon, thy sumptuous cuisine? Not here on the Talune of the Union S S Co. And yet are we not well cared for? Do we not feast on “ox palate” “pig’s face” & “sheep’s head”? Does not the company in its magnificence supply us with deck chairs at its own expense. The passengers starting as I have said from scratch, do they not come in well at the finish? Of musical talent there is abundance; & out of 5 nights we occupy 3 with concerts.

A New Zealand senator finding our interest in social questions, furnishes us with many particulars, & gives letters of introduction to many of the high & mighty. Grace is his name & graceful his actions. He writes us a letter to make us honorary members of the club.

[5 June] So we come in sight of the South Island on the fourth day & watch the snow mountains; then at length on the port side a conical cloud,—so it must be surely—; yet never a cloud so still, so stately; this is Egmont the highest, grandest mountain of the North Island.

To bed, to sleep, perchance to dream, two figures of men are seated on the couch, the electric light is on. Voices. Will you come ashore now? T’is midnight. These are our friends come down to welcome us, & we go ashore & sleep in comfort with no ruthless steward.

Our friends, but in the beginning Percy’s: one is young Atkinson son of a late Premier {2}, the other a friend of his, Evans {3} who runs a quasi settlement.

[6 June] On the morrow we arrange to stop at the club during our stay at Wellington; friends offering hospitality but admitting suburban residence inconvenient. Charming plan in New Zealand of putting up visitors as honorary members of club, & enabling them to make use of it as a very superior hotel.

Busy arranging interviews with the great. Percy is tremendous at obtaining information & makes great use of his letters of introduction to learn all about social & political affairs. To some I go with him & while he is with others I go & see the Bishop {4} an old Cambridge man who was proctor while I was there. Percy says the first man I go & see whenever we arrive anywhere is the Bishop! I also bear my (public &) private letter of introduction to the Governor {5}, but alas he is away touring & will not be back. I have been unlucky with Governors.

Shall I write you a discourse upon New Zealand politics & social matters? I have read Oceana {6}, & desist; out here the author is pitied not disliked.

Wellington is a very poor town “an English watering place out of season” though it is the seat of Government. Of course we didn’t say so. Nevertheless Wellingtonians apologised for it in advance; “you must remember it is all reclaimed land.” Magnificent harbour.

[7–9 June] Tuesday Wednesday Thursday all wet; business (in the shape of interviews) got through. Also high tea & argumentativeness, dinner & Maori tales. Fine intelligent people the Maoris seem to be & particularly to have been; in no way looked down upon as inferior by the white race. Best claim among them to title of land “this land belonged to the chief & people of the tribe X & behold now they are here & he strokes the lower part of his tunic”.

[9 June] Thursday a gathering at the settlement, of interested ladies & gentlemen to welcome ourselves & to hear of work in England. {7} I limit Percy—as he is away for his health—to 20 minutes, & add a few words myself. O marvellous day, & marvellous paper in which I am described as “modest & frank”.

[10 June] Friday to golf, & it is fine; glorious view of harbour; jolly to get first class exercise & jolly game: but our play; Oh the insufficiency of human speech!

Back to the town & to “at home” at the Grace’s†. Miss Grace: “I hear you thought I was 19” “Who told you that?” “Never mind” “Well how old do you suppose I am?” “34” “You are worse out than I was”—we are the same age to within a year. Dr Grace has kindly insisted on having us put up for the club at Napier & also at Auckland, & with renewed thanks to him & anticipatory good wishes to Miss G on her approaching nuptials we bid farewell.

A merry evening at the Atkinson’s† with many a tale, & the last day of our stay in Wellington comes to an end. Many have been the friends we have made even in so brief a visit.

On the morrow we are to start our tour—our grand tour of a week—through the island to Auckland, & to commence with a 12½ hour train journey to Napier.

[11 June] So Saturday morning while it is yet dark we rise & breakfast, & reach the railway station in time to catch the 6.50 train; there to bid us adieu is the kindly indefatigable Atkinson.

A 12½ hour journey is usually dull especially when you are only covering a little over 200 miles, but this fact does not admit of mathematical proof. We were very lucky in meeting a cousin of Atkinson’s at about 9 o’c who was travelling all the way to Napier, so we were not at all dull.

Hospitable club at Napier; I forget whether I told you that as Percy is away for his health I have to keep him amused; it is very trying having to play billiards with him in the evenings when there are so many other things we might be doing; under my able tutelage he is rapidly learning to beat his tutor—“till at last the old man ..[”] but by the way he is the older of the two, though my few remaining locks are blanching & falling off.

From Napier we are to coach thro’ the island for several days doing 160 miles in all, & see the sights.

[13 June] So Monday we make another early start, the coach leaving soon after 6.30; a bright frosty morning. Percy & I are the only passengers & have box seats. The total distance is 52 miles for the day, but the greater part of it consists in going up & down hills, getting magnificent views. So though only an hour’s stop for lunch darkness has set in before we arrive at Tarawera Percy & I have been able to get some exercise & keep ourselves warm. {8}

I haven’t much to tell you of Tarawera, because it is merely a small inn right among the hills; & as we had been out in the open all day & were to make another early start next morning, we turned in soon after our evening meal.

[14 June.] Before the coach, a start to get warm; & for 3 or 4 hours our experience of the previous day is repeated, then up on to the plateau, a plain 2000 [feet] above sea level. So to drive across it during the rest of the day with an interval for lunch. Up on the box seat; an endless stretch of dead level, treeless, barren, hideous. Uninterrupted monotony is only broken by the sight of what appears to be the steam from an engine: “that” says our driver “is a blowhole”.

So at last about 5 o’clock to Taupo[.] Time to have a hot bath in the grounds before dinner: for here we are in the hot lake district. Stay in some time playing about, & not unnaturally catch something of a cold. Not much to see at Taupo & [15 June] early next morning drive on to Weiraki {9}.

Geysers: little geysers: big geysers: water geysers: mud geysers: bubbling pools: champagne pools: blue pond: green pond: purple pond. Why here’s pool which actually has cold water! So dinner & to bed to dream of all things imaginable.

[16 June.] Once more to coach over the plain, all day, interminable: then as darkness descends, Rotorua, a railway terminus, & civilisation. A walk, dinner, & pills {10}—of ivory—& so to bed.

[17 June.] A lake, a legend, a spring starting[,] a river, the fires of h—, & so back by coach. Another day is concluded.

[18 June.] A wet day on the way to Auckland; train goes at such a rate we fear it will be bad for the engine; stop at one point because a cow is on the line in front of the train; a few miles later another stop is made because the same cow is in the way again. Nevertheless the enormous distance of 170 miles is covered in only a little more than 12 hours & we drive up to the Northern club {11}.

[19 June.] We have one day to spare in Auckland, which we employ in climbing to the top of Mt Eden from which the view of the whole place is charming—as of course it ought to be—& in crossing over the harbour & duly admiring.

[20 June] The next morning in accordance with Percy’s dictum I go & call on the bishop {12}; & the boat leaves in the afternoon {13}.

O trip of 4 days back to Sydney with what a light heart were you started upon, with what piteous discomfort were you enshrouded from start to finish.

A big list, a big roll. Two deck chairs lengthwise against the edge of the boat. Two prostrate figures. A minimum of good accomodation†. Unpleasantness & leave-untouchedness of diet. Draw a veil.

[24 June.] The day of our arrival in Sydney {14}; a bit more cheerful, walking up and down: what were we discussing think you, on our return from that land of experiment; that land where social problems are dealt with after their manner, that land of the triple 8 [Footnote: ‘8 shillings a day, 8 hours a day, 8 hours for play’], that land where the working men rules†? I will tell you: we were discussing the probability of the boat getting in in time for dinner at the Australia hotel; & it did by a second. So carnal are the minds of men.

Of our time in Sydney on our return I shall not write at length: of our letter of introduction from Sir J. Abbot† the Speaker}, & of how we sat in the House, & listened to a discussion & of how we were afterwards introduced to Reid the Premier: of how we went out to lunch with an elderly lady & met 7 other elderly ladies & 2 men: of our dinner with Mr & Mrs Wise {15} the former of whom will probably be a minister in the next government[:] of all these I will say nothing {16} but will bring you on to [30 June] Thursday morning, to the time of our departure from the capital {17}. We are to spend the day in travelling up to Quirindy, on the way to Brisbane, & there we are to see all over a sheep farm. So man proposes but …: for when we arrive having been fortified in our tedious hotel by the thought of the instruction of the morrow, we learn that owing to the rain, it is impossible to drive along the road, so a sheep farm is not to be one of the sights seen by F.W.L. Instead, our friend takes us up into a mountain & shows us all the k—I mean we ride up & he instructs us as to the country we see around. Also we get a little exercise by chopping wood for the fire.

[1 or 2 July.] {18} So playing pills we catch the 2.40 A.M train & travelling for the rest of the night & all the next day with some friends to amuse us, we arrive at Brisbane from which this the concluding portion of my fifth encyclical is written. Albany, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane; so have we made the circuit of the capitals, & Brisbane is one of the brightest of them all. Of other parts of Australia do we know much? Now we start upon voyages untold till at last we shall reach U.S.A. For the voyages we have laid in great stock of chairs & a table & expect to do an immense amount of reading, who shall say?

One thing I have not mentioned, Sydney harbour of which the inhabitants are justly proud. No words of mine can adequately describe its glory its beauty & its magnificence.


{1} Lawrence and Alden sailed to New Zealand on board the steamship Talune, 2020 tons, of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand. It left Sydney on 2 June and arrived at Wellington on the evening of the 6th. See the Sydney Morning Herald, 3 June, p. 4, where a list of the passengers is given, and 8 June, p. 6. A short article announcing Alden’s imminent arrival was printed in the Wellington Evening Post on 6 June (p. 4).

{2} Sir Harry Atkinson, the former Premier of New Zealand, had five sons, named (in the order of their birth) Harry Dunstan, Edmund Tudor, Alfred Charles, Samuel Arnold, and Harry Temple. An Arthur Richmond Atkinson, best known as a temperance campaigner, was closely associated with W. A. Evans in the Forward Movement (see next note) and spoke at the meeting held for Percy Alden on the 6th.

{3} The Rev. W. A. Evans, a Congregationalist minister, was born in Wales but went to New Zealand for the sake of his health, where he founded the Forward Movement, a philanthropic and educational body, at Wellington in 1893.

{4} Frederic Wallis. He was senior proctor at Cambridge in 1892.

{5} Lord Ranfurly, an alumnus of Trinity.

{6} J. A. Froude, Oceana, or England and Her Colonies (1886).

{7} This meeting, which, as indicated, was styled a ‘welcome’ to Percy Alden, was held at the Forward Movement Hall, Manners Street, at 8 p.m. It was announced the previous day (the 8th) in the (Wellington) Evening Post, which carried both a small notice and an advertisement stating that ‘All Friends of Reform’ were invited (p. 4). On the 10th the same newspaper printed an account of the meeting (p. 1) and a related editorial (p. 4), which alluded to the limit im-posed on the length of Alden’s speech for the sake of his health. The source of the compliment to Lawrence’s speech is unknown; the Evening Post described it as ‘humorous and sympathetic’.

{8} The ink changes here.

{9} This place-name is now usually spelt Wairakei.

{10} i.e. billiards.

{11} A gentleman’s club in Princes Street, founded in 1869.

{12} W. G. Cowie, an alumnus of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

{13} Lawrence and Alden sailed from Auckland aboard the steamship Waihora on the evening of Monday, 20 June. See the Auckland Star, 21 June, p. 4, where some of the passengers are listed.

{14} The boat arrived in the evening of the 24th, ‘in time’, as Lawrence notes, ‘for dinner’. See the Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June, p. 12.

{15} B. R. Wise and his wife Lilian.

{16} It may be added that Alden addressed a meeting of the Toynbee Guild at the School of Arts on 28 June (Sydney Morning Herald, 29 June, p. 9).

{17} Lawrence and Alden left their luggage at Sydney to be put aboard the Omi Maru when it called there. See 5/30f.

{18} It is not clear how much time was spent at Quirindi.

† Sic.

Paper by F. W. Lawrence entitled ‘Evolution’; read before the Cambridge Nonconformist Union at Easter 1892



Before considering what have been the effects of the theory of evolution on religious views, I feel it is necessary to take a brief glance at the facts on which the theory itself rests; & therefore though I feel much hesitation before those many of whom most know much more about the subject than I do, I have been obliged to enter upon a few preliminary remarks upon the theory itself.

When men believed that there had been a special separate creation for every kind of living being, & yet at the same time they saw that individual differences occurred in reproduction, which in the course of many generations were known to bring about distinct variations, they were compelled to draw a sharp line between Species which had been separately created, & Variations which had been derived in the course of reproduction.

Careful study however shows that it is impossible to draw any such hard & fast line anywhere among created beings; for even the sterility of crossed breeds which might appear at first sight to differentiate them, may be shown to exist in so many different degrees that it would be impossible by it to draw a sharp line.

Thus we reach the first difficulty of those who believe in separate creations.

Again the study of comparative anatomy shows us the extreme similarity in bodily structure of animals even of different families, & this resemblance is still more striking when we come to examine the embryos of the different creatures.

These facts and many others which there is not time to enumerate are the main difficulties which would have to be met by one who believed in separate creation of every kind of animal.

And they all apply to man too; for his bodily structure very largely resembles that of the higher apes, & in the earlier stages his embryo is almost identical.

He too possesses rudimentary organs, useless & sometimes injurious to him, which however are useful to other animals.

Some have said however that man should not trust the conviction of his senses when they come in conflict with Revealed Truth; our answer to this is prompt[:] ‘If all this theory were false, then this singular resemblance of all animals in bodily structure, & especially in an embryonic condition, these laws of heredity & variation, these curious rudimentary organs could be nothing else but one vast deception created for the express purpose of deceiving one of the greatest faculties of man, that of reason.

What has evolution to say to these facts?

Looking around us we see the general laws of heredity everywhere coming into play[,] viz that offspring inherit at corresponding periods of life the characteristics of their parents, but at the same time are never absolutely like either each other or their parents.

Granting this, the evolutionist maintains that progress is inevitable and that starting with a low form of life it was absolutely necessary that a state of things very similar to what is at present must have been brought about.

For by the law of ‘The Survival of the Fittest’ or ‘Natural selection’ it is easy to see that any profitable variation would be retained, owing to the better chance that creatures having this variation would have, in the ‘Struggle for existence’. And as there would be many ways in which profitable variations would occur, so, many variations would be retained & in course of time would obliterate the intermediate links of less fortunate forms.

In this way in nature, it might take thousands of generations of individual differences to produce a well-marked variation & tens or hundreds of thousands of generations to produce what may be classed as distinct species.

Much longer periods of time would be necessary for the production of distinct genera & so on, but when we consider what Geology teaches us in respect to the length of time life has been on the earth, we cannot doubt that geological periods have been suffic[i]ent for the divergence from one original stock to be great enough to produce the distinct families & even orders & classes of to-day.

This being so, we see that the resemblance of the anatomy of different creatures & the presence of rudimentary organs was a necessity, & that as the variations are mainly inherited at a corresponding period of life, the embryo must suffer the least change.

There is a vast difference between the reasoning capabilities of man & those of the higher apes, but when we compare the great progress of the brain even in historic periods with the slow alteration in bodily form, we ought not to be surprised that man’s brain differs so greatly, & his bodily form so little from that of the higher apes.

Now if we could pass in review the ages, & tracing the steps of time, see the gradual improvement of our ancestors, is there any special period at which we should be willing first to give them the title of man?

What is to be our definition of a man?

We shall, I think, be not far wrong, if we define man as one who uses a weapon or tool.

The chimpanzee does crack nuts with a stone, but takes the nut to the stone, & not the stone, but takes the nut to the stone, & not the stone to the nut, which makes a considerable degree of difference; monkeys of course learn to imitate man in the use of a weapon, but that is not the same at all.

I think we may be fairly certain that as soon as the animal used a weapon or tool, his brain power & also his hand would begin soon to develop; for he who was cleverest at selecting branches or stones, or best at using them would survive, and not necessarily he that was strongest; and accordingly through natural selection these characteristics would be increased at† time went on.

[There is a space here in the MS.]

This is the theory of evolution which it is not too much to say will be remembered as the greatest thing of this century just as the discoveries of Newton were the greatest things of his century.

What effect has it had upon our views of every thing.

1stly upon our views concerning the lower animals.

With regard to them it seems to me that not enough stress is laid upon what we are necessarily bound to believe concerning them owing to the theory of Evolution. Since man differs from them in no fundamental degree, we are bound to acknowledge that every law which holds good for man, & that every hope which he has, must also to a certain extent, at any rate, be true for the lower animals.

2nd with regard to our views concerning man.

At the beginning of the century & back through the ages the belief was fairly constant, that man was declining, they looked back on the men of the past as superior to themselves, their thoughts turned back to the ‘golden age’; their object was to make their age not so very much inferior to that preceding it; all this is changed now; we still have a few people who are wont to tell us that the world is going to the bad, & who regret the absence of the good old times of yore; but the numbers of people who will listen to them grows daily less & less, & even the pessimist will hardly deny that the world as a whole is progressing.

Most of this change of feeling if not all of it is due to the introduction of the theory of Evolution; for when we acknowledge the theory, it is but natural to suppose that man having progressed so rapidly in the ages of the past, is still progressing to-day; the belief in the superiority of the past was caused mainly by the view (which the theory of Evolution has shown to be erroneous) that man was originally created almost, if not quite, perfect.

This brings us to the subject of the bible.

Before the introduction of the theory of E. the belief was almost general that the bible was literally word for word inspired.

Now as the theory teaches us that creation was very different from what one would naturally gather from the bible account, we must admit at any rate that it is useless to base any ancient historical fact on the teaching of the Old Test. since the bible account may well lead us to believe things quite contrary to what really took place.

But the greatest divergence is perhaps in the theory of the ‘Fall of Man’.

According to the bible account man was created perfect & fell; according to E he has gradually increased in intellectual & moral capabilities till he has reached his present condition.

Which, I say, is the view most likely to lead to courage & perseverance in the highest endeavours to improve the human race, the view that man’s ancestor was an animal & that the race has progressed up to the present state & is progressing still, & every endeavour helps to make that progress more rapid, or the belief that man’s ancestor was almost if not quite perfect, & that partly owing to the original fall & partly owing to steady decline ever since man has reached his present low condition, & that every endeavour to help the human race is merely one to try & regain some of the lost ground, to put off a little longer if it may be the destruction of the sinking ship.

I say steady decline ever since for undoubtedly till the present century this was the belief of the majority; the men in successive stages of the bible were worse & worse, & throughout later history the retrograde movement had been slow but steady & sure.

According to men of the last century & indeed to some left among us to day, the view they held of the redemption in Jesus Christ was linked to that of the ‘fall of man’ in the following manner: –

Man having been created by God perfect, having fallen & sinned was doomed naturally by the infinite justice of God to an eternal damnation, but God in His infinite mercy was willing to accept the sacrifice of His Son, ‘who was tempted but sinned not’ in the place of humanity. Thus then the Vicarious Atonement was necessary for the salvation of man; and the infinite justice of God was reconciled to sinful man by the sacrifice of One who was innocent, & who since the sacrifice was for multitudes of humanity & was retrospective as well as prospective, must have been himself infinite.

Granting the fall of man & that the infinite justice of God would without sacrifice to appease sin be bound to place man in eternal torment, we see that it was necessary for them if they were to believe in any hope for humanity at all, to hold this view of the atonement.

What has the theory of Evolution to say to this? It seems to my mind to have taken away the foundation stone from the whole theory.

For if there was no fall, & if, as we have a right to believe, God made man imperfect in order that he might continue to progress we feel that He would not be infinitely just if condemning to eternal perdition those whom he had originally created imperfect, simply because they were imperfect.

Thus then the necessity for the belief in the Vicarious Atonement is gone.

What are we to have in its place?

Surely the Redemption is the redeeming of mans† character from sin, & the Atonement, the at-one-ment with God which Jesus Christ has taught man by his life & death. It brings man to God, but needs not to bring God to man.

Let us now look at the difference the Theory of E has caused in our views concerning God.

Men said originally that the Theory of E would upset the belief in the power of God.

But let us place side by side the 2 views and see which represents to our feeble gaze the Omnipotence of God in its greatest light. According to the old view about 6000 years ago the astronomical bodies, the earth, men & the animals were created, the latter at least of imperfect minds & even cruel instincts, & all have continued for that period in much the same condition.

According to the modern view life on this planet began ages upon ages ago & has gradually developed through stages of improvement till it has reached the present condition.

Which is the greatest, the creation of everything nearly as it is now, in one short period of time, or the great plan of E, the vast intricacies of which are only shown to be greater the deeper the study of them is carried?

Some indeed in tracing back the vast plan of life have found in it something so infinitely grand, that they have supposed that of itself and by itself it has existed from all eternity.

But is not their attitude that which would be taken up by men who looking upon a masterpiece of machinery in working order & seeing no hand at work, should consider its parts to be so exquisite as to owe their existence to their own inherent perfection, & not to the brain or work of man at all.

The greater the masterpiece the further back must we be prepared to go before we shall find the original hand at work.

For those who can still believe in God the view of His Omnipotence can be but heightened by the Theory of E.

But more than this, we have gained what is much greater still, a higher conception of His infinite love, the great truth for which Jesus Christ lived and died. Instead of a God who needs to be reconciled to sinning humanity by the death of one,† innocent; we have the belief that the death of Christ was & is the cause of bringing man nearer to God.

Instead of an angry God who condemned to eternal torture those who could not hold certain beliefs, or (according to some) even those who had not had an opportunity given them of believing in them, we hold that God grieves over his sinning child, & we return to our belief in the truth of the parable of the prodigal son which represents God as a Father going forth with joy to meet the repentant prodigal.

All this I maintain to be due largely to the indirect effects of the teaching of Evolution.

Lastly we look forward with different hopes for the future, from those of men of previous centuries.

For the race we look forward to a future of steady progress onward & upward.

And for the individual too, we look forward to continued existence of improvement, till every creature which God in His infinite power has created, shall be won over to God by His infinite love, & as ages upon ages pass away shall draw nearer & nearer to the line of infinite perfection, holiness & love.


This paper was read to the Cambridge University Nonconformist Union during Easter term 1892, Lawrence’s second term at Cambridge. His involvement with the Union may owe something to the jurist C. S. Kenny, its president about this time, for Kenny was a friend of Lawrence’s uncle Edwin Lawrence (D. W. Bebbington, ‘Unitarian Members of Parliament in the Nineteenth Century: A Catalogue’, Supplement to the Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society, xxiv, no. 3 (Apr. 2009)). Lawrence addressed the same organisation four years later on ‘The Treatment of Animals’ (see 5/27).

† Sic.

Draft of an article by Lord Pethick-Lawrence entitled ‘India’s Place in the World’

A tribute to Nehru, written for an unidentified volume.

(Carbon copy of a typed original, corrected by hand in pencil. Written some time after the assassination of Gandhi on 30 Jan. 1948.)



by Lord Pethick-Lawrence.

I am happy to be given the opportunity to pay a tribute to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the pages of this volume. During the years that I have been privileged to count him among my friends my admiration for his qualities has steadily grown. But he has told me that where so many have rendered service to his country he dislikes being singled out for special praise. On the personal side I will content myself therefore with the one incontrovertible statement that India has been indeed fortunate to have as her first Prime Minister a man of his noble character, rich and varied experience and exceptional breadth of outlook.

India has secured control of her own destiny at a time when the whole civilisation of the world is being reincarnated. Old customs and old ideas which have held sway almost from the dawn of history are being discarded. The nation-states of Western Europe in which these ideas were recently embodied are fallen from their high estate. New thoughts are filling the minds of men and women. Some of these have already taken shape. Others are in the realm of the subconscious waiting to be born. India has not merely to adapt herself to these kaleidoscopic changes in the pattern of human life, she has also to play an active part in the conception and gestation of the civilisation that is to be. How important this part is will be realised when we descend from the general to the particular.

First, on the purely material plane, the world is being transformed by the new powers of mass production, radio, television, flight, radar and atomic fission. Every one of these is capable of being used to set men and women free from the sordid scramble for animal existence and enable them to develop to its full stature their physical, moral and spiritual being. But alternatively they may be abused so as to bring about the greater enslavement and degradation of the human race. Which shall it be? The voice of India will be an important factor in the decision.

Next come the recent biological discoveries including new means of eradicating disease in men plants and animals. It is even possible that we are on the eve of revolutionary changes in the whole matter of the growth & production of food. India has suffered grievously in the past from malnutrition and preventible ill health. The responsibility now rests upon her own scientists to find out the remedy and upon her statesmen to apply it.

The civilisation now passing away was founded upon inequality. Even upright and religious men and women seemed to see nothing wrong in a structure of society in which some people lived in luxury while others toiled unceasingly and remained in squalor and degradation. But Gandhiji was one of those who saw in this system an affront to human dignity; and he inveighed against it unceasingly by precept and example. At first the doctrine of communism in its pure form seemed to be the answer but in its application it has got entangled in power politics and totalitarian dictatorship. The new civilisation has to be founded upon human equality; and India in memory of her Mahatma and in accord with the generous impulses of her Prime Minister will wish to take a foremost place among the nations who are imbued with the new spirit.

In the realm of internal government India has astonished the world by her achievement. Even those of us who had the greatest faith in her statesmen scarcely dared to hope that she would be able to integrate the whole of her territory in so short a time and with such general approval. The highest praise is due to all those who have contributed to this remarkable result. It augurs well for the future stability of her State and provides a fine example to other nations.
What of the international outlook? Here I am convinced that India has a part of paramount importance to play. She occupies a pivotal place on the map of the world. She looks westward to Europe and the Atlantic Ocean, eastward to China to the Pacific and to the Americas, northward to the lands of the Soviet Union in Asia, South West to the varied races of Africa and South East to the new civilisation of Australia and New Zealand. So situated she cannot exist isolated and detached.

The world needs friendship and co-operation. It needs the mutual interchange of materials and ideas. Above all it needs peace. But peace like liberty requires eternal vigilance for its preservation. It requires the constant avoidance of the pairs of opposites—arrogance and cowardice, aggressiveness and subservience, self-sufficiency and undue dependence, anarchy and regimentation. A free and democratic India in close association with other likeminded free and democratic peoples can be a great bulwark of peace and of constructive fellowship in the community of nations.

Long may Panditji be spared to exercise his wise leadership in guiding the destinies of his country!

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