Item 1 - Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

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EDDN/A/2/1

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Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

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  • 3 Sept. 1912 (Creation)

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2 folded sheets

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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

—————

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.

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