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Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

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Passa Quatro
1912 Oct 13

My very dear Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The photographs {5} are some of Davidson’s

With very dear love, ever
your affectionate son
Stanley.

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

—————

Numbered ‘8’ at the head in pencil.

{1} 7th.

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

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

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

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

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

Savoy-Hotel, Hauptbahnhof, Hamburg
5 Aug. 1913 {1}

My very dear Mother

Dyson and I travelled here together by the night train from Bonn, and arrived here about 7∙30 this (Tuesday) morning. The two conferences overlap by one day, so we miss the last day of the Bonn meetings. I have been enjoying the affair immensely, and had no idea it would be such a jolly and lively time. There were about 100 astronomers there, many with wives, etc; and I got to know most of them. Schwarzschild was staying at our hotel & we saw a good deal of him. The meetings were mainly devoted to business (not papers), and as there was very little to do we had not too much work—in fact it was rather an excuse for a picnic; but one learns a lot by seeing and talking to the different people. The weather has been glorious and very hot every day except Saturday (which was overcast but fine). We had two municipal banquets, viz at Bonn & Cologne—both very enjoyable. At Cologne a most splendid band played during the meal one of the best I have heard; and the Gürzenich, where the meal was, is a beautiful old hall with Gothic roof. Whilst at Cologne we had a good look round the Cathedral and saw the treasure chamber with the skulls of the three Magi. On Sunday we left Bonn before 9 a.m. by electric tram, and had a ten mile walk through the woods of the Siebengebirge ending up at the Drachenfels castle, and returned in a launch by the river. About 30 of us went (the rest going a motor trip) practically all the English Astronomers went the walk, only one American, Schwa[r]zschild, Hertzsprung[,] Jules Baillaud and a number of miscellaneous nationalities. Two ladies Miss Hills & Mrs Hertzsprung (late Miss Kapteyn) went with us. As we had all day we did not have to hurry much; the views were very fine. We had a good deal of amusement—including a race. “Schwarzschild & five mad Englishmen” (the latter including Dyson & myself) got photographed at one of those places where they give you them finished in five minutes, posed in a motor-car and with a wooden donkey—it makes an amusing group. One afternoon Sampson Stratton Hubrecht & I went on {2} the river to Strandbad, a bathing place and had a very enjoyable bathe—it was a very hot afternoon. We have also bathed two or three times in a covered place at Bonn. There was a very nicely arranged garden party at the Observatory at Bonn (Küstner’s place) on Friday.

I got to know two Russian astronomers Backlund & Belopolski who are most delightful men—Backlund in particular is very good company[.] He reminds one a bit of Atkinson, but he is quite a first-rate astronomer. He has often been to England but somehow I have always missed him. The meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft here will be larger, less select and probably more serious; I do not think it will be quite so lively, but there are a number of excursions & entertainments planned.12 The Goldener Stern at Bonn was an excellent Hotel[;] this one here is not so good; but they were very slow over serving meals everywhere in Bonn; lunch although, {3} only 3 courses, always took about 2 hours to serve.

With very dear love from
your affectionate son
Stanley.

The cigars here are excellent & very cheap.

—————

The letter has been docketed ‘Bonn 1913 | Hamburg’.

{1} The first two figures of the year are printed.

{2} This is probably the intended word, though, perhaps as the result of an alteration, what is written resembles ‘top’.

{3} The comma ought to precede the word.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

“The Portugal”
Sunday, April 13

My very dear Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love from
your affectionate son
Stanley

—————

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

{1} João Gregório Duarte Ferreira.

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

Transcript

Observatory, Cambridge
21 May 1936

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————

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

{1} Struck through by mistake.

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