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Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

1912 Sept 15
R.M.S.P. Arlanza {1}

My very dear Mother

It is now the last day on the steamer, and we are to reach Rio at about 7 o’clock tonight; I do not think we shall land until tomorrow morning.

We did not go on shore either at Pernambuco or Bahia as they are neither of them very healthy places. At Pernambuco there is no real harbour and we anchor someway out at at† sea but Bahia is a magnificent bay. The land is very low all the way between them; and the coast (which we keep in sight) is monotonous, only there is a curious white sand all the way along which makes it look like chalk cliffs.

The most interesting thing is seeing the whales, which are quite numerous. You see them spouting frequently and sometimes catch a glimpse of the whale itself. We left Bahia on Friday, and yesterday (Saturday) the rain came down in torrents; it was the first time we had had anything more than the slightest showers. In the evening the rain stopped, and the wind got up, and we really pitched quite a lot it was quite pleasant for a change. Today is a perfect day again, clear, and with brilliant sunshine. It is quite cool again and I am wearing my usual English clothes.

I know all the Officers now pretty well; the Chief Officer is a very nice man and a great favourite with the passengers.

I had a letter from Rio at Pernambuco which was very satisfactory; Lee {2} has visited all possible sites. I rather think we shall go to Alfenas further inland than Christina but do not know yet. The Brazilian government is going to do us well. I have met several passengers who know the country well. They say we are sure to have fine weather, and the country is a regular health resort, where the inhabitants all live to be centenarians.

Some of the passengers bought little marmoset monkeys at Bahia; they are sweet little things that you could put in your pocket but I was not tempted to go in for one.
I will not add more as there is a fine bit of coast outside that I want to see and then I must get my packing done.

With very dear love from
your affectionate son
Stanley

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Letter-head of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. Numbered ‘4’ at the head in pencil.

{1} ‘R.M.S.P.’ is printed.

{2} ‘the Interpreter’ has been interlined above a caret, in an unidentified hand. The person referred to is T. N. Lee, an Englishman deputed by the Brazilian Government to as-sist the expedition. See The Observatory, xxxv (1912), 410.

† Sic.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

1912 Sept 11
R.M.S.P. Arlanza {1}

My very dear Mother

We are getting near Pernambuco now. The time at sea has passed very rapidly and pleasantly and I shall be very sorry when the voyage is over. The slightly overcast skies which we had about Madeira have given place to continual bright sunshine, but there has been a strong refreshing breeze always. Most of the regular travellers on this route say they have never known it so fresh and cool all the way. The only time I find it really hot is when I come down from the deck at night to the cabin; then for an hour or so it seems very close and I usually read for an hour to get cool again before going to sleep. The dining saloon, decks, & smoking rooms are beautifully cool. Of course I am wearing the thinnest things possible.

We did not land at St Vincent but were surrounded by boats (as at Madeira)[.] These were all occupied by negroes; the little nigger boys were very amusing[;] I tried to photograph them. I saw a shark whilst we were at anchor. We see lots of flying fish, regular shoals of them, skimming from wave to wave. Most of them are very small[,] almost like butterflies. They look very pretty in the sunlight.

I have got to know some of the southern stars now but they are poor compared with the northern ones. The Southern Cross is not visible yet[;] it is the wrong time of the year for it. The Chief Officer took me up on to “Monkey Island” above the Bridge where one gets a good clear view of the sky.

One day is much like another and I hardly keep account of time. We have had Sports, Games, Fancy Dress ball, etc. I went in for several of the Competitions—including spar-boxing (with the pillow), life-belt race, Are you there?, deck quoits, threading the needle (with Lady Grant holding the needle), but did not have much success, except at chess. I got to the Final Round at Chess, and had to play quite a young opponent for the final. We drew one game and he won the replay. They had a specially good dinner to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Independence of Brazil, and some speeches (chiefly in Portuguese)[,] also a dance which did not interest me.

Of course I know a good many people by now. One man that we see a great deal of is Major Caroll (an Irishman)[;] he is a very nice fellow. The Captain comes down to dinner generally; although he is said to be the most popular man in the service I dont care much for him. He seems generally grumbly—a pig-headed old man I think; though I have no doubt as a Captain he is very good indeed. Lady Grant also is a tiresome old lady, with an enormous appetite. The Unwins are quite nice people.

We pass a great number of ships chiefly tramp steamers. The Avon passed us quite close a few days ago and I saw it. We had one little excitement yesterday as a tramp steamer required a Doctor (a man having got an iron splinter in his eye) so we stopped whilst he was brought on board and attended to.

We crossed the Equator about 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon but there were no traditional observances; everyone (at the time[)] was excited about a tug-of-war Married v Single. Atkinson pulled in it as well as Davidson & I. The “married” were ever so much heavier than we were, and pulled us over easily.

It is curious having no letters or English news of any sort. We have not even had the daily Marconigram since leaving Lisbon—have heard nothing whatever. I hope you are getting on well.

We expected to be in the Doldrums the last three days—a region of calm close air with rain—but instead of that we have had delightful fresh weather[;] it is most unusual just here.

With very dear love from
your affectionate son
Stanley

I hope Winnie is having a got {2} time at Lynton[.]

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Letter-head of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. Numbered ‘3’ at the head in pencil.

{1} ‘R.M.S.P.’ is printed.

{2} A slip for ‘good’.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

1912 Sept 6
R.M.S.P. Arlanza {1}

My very dear Mother

There is an unexpected opportunity of sending a letter today, as we are calling at St Vincent to obtain a supply of fresh water; we could not get it at Madeira. After that it is no good writing until we reach Rio.

Last time I wrote was just after leaving Lisbon, since then we have had very pleasant weather, little wind, calm sea, sky rather overcast but with sunshine filtering through, and not unpleasantly warm, although we entered the tropics last night. We had a day at sea on Tuesday and reached Madeira about 11 the next morning. As we approached we passed a great many islands. Madeira is rather mountainous but a layer of clouds about some 3000 feet above the sea just cut their tops off, and remained all day. We were soon surrounded by lots of small boats selling basket chairs & embroidery—the two main products of Madeira—; also small boys wanting to dive for sixpences, some of them climbed to our highest decks and dived from there.

We had about 4 hours at Madeira and most of us did the regular excursion. Atkinson & Davidson did not come; but I went with the Unwins and Lady Grant. First we rode in chariots (there is no other word for them) drawn by a pair of bullocks[.] The streets are all cobbles and the vehicles are on wooden runners like sleighs; the bullocks gallop along finely. Then we went up the mountain Terreira da Lucca in a funicular railway, not quite to the top but 3300 feet up. The town (Funchal) is built in terraces on a steep slope. The abundance of vines laden with grapes was very remarkable, they grow on low pergolas. There were sugar canes[,] bamboos, palms, and beautiful blue hydrangias growing luxuriantly. Towards the top it was all pine forest. Just below the terminus we ran into cloud so lost the view; but as we had a fine view of the bay nearly all the way up, it did not so much matter. We had lunch at the top, and then came the exciting part—we tobogganed down the whole 3300 feet. There is a steep zigzag cobbled path down from the summit passing through the town; we go in a sort of basket toboggan holding 3 passengers, with with† two men running on each side with ropes to guide the toboggan and hold it back where necessary. They go at a great pace, {2} sometimes getting on and riding behind. It was much more exciting and alarming than I expected. We took about half-an-hour to get down. The sharp corners are particular[ly] exciting at first, because they always get up as much speed as possible to go round them (I suppose because swinging round checks the toboggan). After that came another bullock drive through the town to the launch, and so back to the steamer.

Now we have got to the main part of the journey, and shall be a week or more without any chance of landing. They are arranging some sports and I have entered for some of them. Atkinson is in for the tug of war and should be a tower of strength (and weight) for the “married” v “single”.

Captain Pope has been down to dinner twice, and is very pleasant and chatty. We are generally in the dining room half an hour longer than any-one else.

Tomorrow there is to be a celebration of the Anniversary of the Independence of Brazil. A Brazilian committee are arranging it.

I have not got much work done yet.

With very dear love,
ever your affectionate son
Stanley

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Letter-head of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. Numbered ‘2’ at the head in pencil.

{1} ‘R.M.S.P.’ is printed.

{2} Comma added in pencil.

† Sic.

Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

1912 Sept 3. 11.a.m.
R.M.S.P. Arlanza {1}

My very dear Mother,

We are now on our way between Lisbon and Madeira, and are due at the latter about noon tomorrow; after that the long period away from land begins. I did not hear from you at Lisbon, so fear that the mail must have gone before you posted. I hope you got on all right and are having better weather.

We have had glorious weather the whole way so far. Southampton {2} gave us a parting shower and then the sun came out brightly and has never deserted us since. We had a pretty view of the Needles and Isle of Wight and reached Cherbourg about 6 o’clock where we took on a lot of passengers. We sailed again about 10 o’clock. Before breakfast next morning we were passing Ushant and entered the Bay of Biscay. It was quite smooth, though not exactly glassy; very different from last time I crossed it. The day was bright but not hot. The next morning (Sunday) we were across the Bay[,] and passing C. Finisterre and the end of the Pyrenees the coast looked very pretty with the hills (not very high) well wooded and little villages by the shore. It was now very hot but there has always been a fresh wind. We called at Vigo but did not go ashore; however I visited it well with my opera glasses and took some photographs; the town itself is small, primitive, and not very interesting but the Estuary is fine. We go a little way up the river (I dont know its name) and there are some islands at the mouth which make it very pretty. We took on a tremendous crowd of Spanish emigrants here. They are packed close but seem very happy and lively.

I was up early on Monday morning for the sail up the Tagus to Lisbon. The misty morning light made it very delightful. We went ashore after breakfast (Davidson and J. Atkinson {3} did not land) and stayed until 4 o’clock. You hardly realise Lisbon is a capital city; it seems more a sort of market town. It was very interesting looking round[;] we spent most of the time (which passed very quickly) doing the markets and so on. We went round the Cathedral however, which has a fine high dome and saw many interesting things including the mummy of a saint. We lunched off fruit[—]grapes, apricots and figs[,] which were very nice and wonderfully cheap (very nice tasted {4} purple grapes at a penny a pound)[.] We sailed back to the ship in a sailing boat. We spent altogether 2685 reis which sounds ruinous but is about 9/6.

The ship did not sail till about midnight. Today is I think a little cooler and the sea is not so smooth; but our boat is not much disturbed by it. It is a lovely blue sea with brilliant sunshine.

I have a deck-chair up on the observation deck so get plenty of sun and air. I dont read much more than I did in Norway. This boat is just like the Avon {5} so I know my way about well and, as I told you, we have the same captain {6}.

We are at the Captain’s table but he is not coming to meals until we leave Madeira[.] The other occupants are Mr, Mrs & Miss Unwin; Mr. is some man of importance in S. Amer. but we dont know what. Atkinson tells me he (Unwin) is a radical speaker (A. being a Conservative orator). The only other occupant, my neighbour, is Lady Macpherson-Grant {7}. I am afraid she is going to be rather a bore. However we get plenty of fun with Atkinson. Atkinson who is 67 is a wonderful old chap, as hard as nails; he has been everywhere almost and seems to know everybody. He is always bubbling over with mischief. He is a barrister but has given up practising, breeds and runs racehorses, used to play cricket for Yorkshire, has invented a number of mechanical contrivances which have had great success and directs or manages a number of companies. He is a very keen educationalist on the Northampton County Council and was telling me about their scholarships “but . .” he said {8} “we have n’t done like Somerset yet, I always hold up Somerset to them; they got a Senior Wrangler”[.] I had to enlighten him, as he [had] no idea I was a Somerset Scholar {9}.

I had a good long talk with the Chief Officer last night who knew something of Christina. It seems to be a nice place and the climate and weather prospects first rate.

Of course, we eat tremendously, the meals being much like those on the Avon. I have my bath at 7∙30 so get a little exercise before breakfast at 9. Lunch is at 12∙30, tea at 4, and dinner at 7. They have rather more of a gymnasium here than on the Avon; one very good arrangement is an apparatus for rowing, it feels exactly like real rowing.

I shall have to send with this my best wishes for many happy returns of the day; 60 this time isn’t it? I shall have to give a joint birthday and Christmas present when I get back.

Please give my love to Uncle A. Aunt F. and Arthur; I hope you are not in trouble with the floods, but have heard no English news, whatever.

With very dear love to Winnie & yourself from your affectionate son
Stanley

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Letter-head of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company.

{1} ‘R.M.S.P.’ is printed. The Arlanza, a sister-ship of the Titanic, was built in Belfast by Harland & Wolff for the Southampton–River Plate service. She was launched on 23 November 1911 and came into service in April the following year. She was capable of carrying 400 first-class, 230 second-class, and 760 third-class passengers.

{2} The ship left Southampton on Friday, 30 August.

{3} ‘(Assistant)’ has been added below ‘Davidson’ and ‘(Amateur Astron gone with them)’ above Atkinson, all in the same unidentified hand.

{4} A slip for ‘tasting’.

{5} The R.M.S.P. Avon, of 11,073 tons, was built in Belfast by Harland & Wolf in 1907.

{6} Captain Pope.

{7} Either Frances Elizabeth, the widow of Sir George Macpherson-Grant, 3rd Bt, or Mary (d. 1914), the wife of Sir John Macpherson-Grant, 4th Bt.

{8} This word, which is at the end of a line, is followed by superfluous inverted commas.

{9} Eddington won a Somerset County Council Scholarship in 1898. See Douglas, p. 4.

Letter from John W. Graham to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

Meadow Brow, Grasmere.
VIII. ’02

Dear Mrs. Eddington,

My last duty is now one of simple good wishes.

The men up for Physics Hons. were a set much better than in any previous year. Any of the first three would have been top in any other year; & Stanley was well ahead of the others, & obtained over 80 per cent on the whole examination.

He will find a larger sphere and more competition at Cambridge; and I trust we shall hear he is bearing himself well under it.

With best wishes
I remain
Your friend sincerely
John W Graham

Letter from John W. Graham to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

Dalton Hall, Victoria Park, Manchester

2. VII. ’99

Dear Mrs. Eddington,

You will be interested in hearing some details of Stanley’s Preliminary. They are astonishing enough.—I have heard them today from the Chairman of the Board of Studies. In

Mechanics. Full marks
Latin. Top of all
Eng History [ditto]
Mathematics [ditto] & 60 marks above everybody else

leaving Chemistry & Eng. Language as the only subjects in which any one excelled him.

This is a marvellous record; whether he ought to know it I leave to you.

The great thing now is not to overload him; and to keep up his exercise: but I see no danger of going wrong in either respect.

In Physics ii at Easter I find he got 99 per cent. in the College Examination, making 199 out of 200. He has half the prize in Latin, the Prize in Practical Physics as well as theoretical; and the 2nd place in Math iii. A.

He will now, I trust, go in for a good physical athletic holiday. With my hearty congratulations

I remain
Yours sincerely
J. W. Graham

Letter from John W. Graham to Sarah Ann Eddington

Transcript

Grand Hôtel des Bergues, Genève
3. Jan 1898.

Dear Mrs. Eddington,

I sent you just one bit of my ideas abt. Stanley as soon as he left us. The rest must follow now.

His presence has been a great pleasure to us. You have got a boy mixed of most kindly elements, as perhaps Shakspeare might say {1}. His rapidly and clearly working mind has not in the least spoiled his character. I don’t know when I have had to do with so modest and gentlemanly a boy. It is a testimony to day schools and home training, (not, I am afraid, my favourite theory.)

His youth has, of course, been just a little against his making friends, but has not been fatal to it. In Clayton, & in Wood & Brown he has nice associates; but he seems more contented alone than most boys are.

His work is all that I expected, & more: & I feel altogether that he is “a precious youth” committed to my charge. I can realise to some extent what Margaret would feel like if she were left alone to bring up our own little Richard.

I remain
Your friend sincerely
John W. Graham

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The writing-paper is engraved with illustrations of the hotel, etc. The year is wrong, as Eddington did not enter Owen’s College till October 1898 (see his Notebook).

{1} {1} Graham evidently had in mind Antony’s encomium on Brutus at the end of Julius Caesar: ‘His life was gentle, and the elements | So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up | And say to all the world “This was a man!”’

Print of ‘A consultation previous to an aerial voyage from London to Weilburg in Nassau on the 7th day of November 1836’, engraved by J. H. Robinson from the painting by John Hollins

The men depicted in the illustration are, from left to right, Walter Prideaux, John Hollins, William Milbourne James, Robert Hollond, Charles Green, and Thomas Monck Mason.

(No caption. Title and date supplied from British Museum No. 1858,0613.402. )

Print of a rotary balloon designed by John Luntley

A model of this balloon was exhibited by Luntley at the Great Exhibition of 1851 (see the Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue, ii. 435: Class 10, No. 237). This print has no caption, but the copy in the Library of Congress is captioned ‘ROTARY BALLOON. Model exhibited in Class X, No. 137 [sic]. By J. Luntley.’

Letter from Eugène Robertson to the Queen of the French

Transcript

A Sa Majesté la Reine des Français.

Madame,

Un de vos plus fidèles sujets a l’honneur d’adresser à Votre Majesté une respectueuse invitation pour qu’elle daignat honorer de sa présence le double spectacle des course de chevaux libres et de l’ascension d’un Aéronaute avec une flotille de cinq Ballons pourvoisés qui devaient avoir lieu au champ-de-Mars dimanche dernier.

La fête de Versailles où Votre Majesté devait assister, ne m’ayant pas permis d’espérer qu’Elle pût satisfaire à nos vœux, je me suis empressé de remettre mon Ascension au dimanche suivant 5 Juin.

Je viens encore supplier Votre Majesté de vouloir bien m’accorder la précieuse faveur que j’avais sollicité, et de daigner honorer de sa présence la fête du champ-de-Mars, dédiée à la Garde Nationale. Cette faveur serait un sujet de joie bien vive pour la nombreuse population qui sera dumoins† je l’espère, témoin de mon expérience et sutour pour celui qui ose ce dire Madame,

De Votre Majesté,

Le très-humble, très-obéissant et très-fidèle sujet,
Eugène Robertson

Paris, le 1er Juin 1831.
Place des Victoires, No. 5.

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† Sic.

Letter from Charles Green to P. N. Scott.

Transcript

My Dear Sir /

I duly received your kind letter and the paper Containing the parragraph for which I return you many thanks and shall prize it greatly it being so much to the purpose—I have made several enquiries of the Postman who says had it been sent from the Norwich Post office I shd have had it he is sertain I am sorry you have had so much trouble and beg you will not think I wish to impose on good nature by making your granting me one favor the foundation of asking others—I shall use every exertion to get it further noticed if possible and endeavor to get aprint† of Major Money to morrow as I hope to be able to go to town—I sent an article on my projected voyage across the Atlantic wich is recited[?] verbatum with the Editors remarks I have purchased a Copy for you and shall send it the first opportunity

With best regards to Mrs Scott likewise Mr Crowshay† & family

I am Dear Sir | Yours truly & much obliged
Chas Green

Highgate
Jany 27—1840

[Direction:] P. N. Scott Esqr | St Giles Street | Norwich | Pre Paid

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Postmarked as ‘Paid’, 28 January 1840. The spelling and punctuation are occasionally irregular.

† Sic.

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