Item 2 - Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

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EDDN/A/2/2

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Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

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  • 6 Sept. 1912 (Creation)

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2 folded sheets

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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

—————

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.

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