Item 5 - Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

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EDDN/A/2/5

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Letter from A. S. Eddington to Sarah Ann Eddington

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  • 11 Sept. 1912 (Produção)

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3 folded sheets

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Hotel dos Estrangeiros, Rio de Janeiro
Thursday | 1912 Sept 19

My very dear Mother

We are still here at Rio de Janeiro; it is a most beautiful place, the weather is fine and pleasant, but progress is very unsatisfactory. The great characteristic of Brazil is “amanhã” (“tomorrow”) and the delays and muddles of the people who are supposed to be helping us are most vexatious.

The Arlanza arrived in Rio soon after dusk on Sunday. In some ways it was a pity to miss the sail up Rio harbour in daylight but the lights were very beautiful. It is a wonderful harbour winding about, with numbers of islands and mountains everywhere. The Sugar-loaf (about 1200 ft) is an extraordinary steep cone. It has far surpassed my expectations.

We remained on board till the next morning, as I had a Marconigram to say that we should be met the next day. At 8 o’clock Dr Moritze† (the director of Rio observatory {1} [)] and Lee (the Englishman deputed to help us) came on board; {2} after arranging about the instruments, they took us off in a government launch. We were photographed by the newspapers on landing, and then whisked off in a motor-car to this Hotel. It is the swagger hotel though not up to much according to English standards. The Government is entertaining us here—very happily for us—money here has roughly 1/5 the value it has in England. I had to pay 2/8d for a cake of soap. Washing a dress-shirt costs 2/9d, an ordinary shirt 1/–. Carriage of our trunks up to the hotel (for three of us) cost 16/–; the tram-fare for say 1½ miles is 5d; a small bottle of ginger beer is 2/–; apples about ¼ each. The only things admitted into Brazil free of duty are human beings and they have to pay a duty of 2£ to get out again.

The currency here seems very funny[.] I am carrying about in my pocket now over 800,000 reis so am nearly a millionaire. 1000 reis = 1/4½ but its purchasing power is about 3d according to our standards. I am told that the salary of an engine-driver on a railway is (in English money) £900 a year.

We called on Sir William Haggard the British Minister {3} on Monday morning and in the afternoon went with him to be presented to the Minister for Foreign Affairs {4}. Sir William is quite a pleasant man, and we are to go lunch with him today.

They are very eager to entertain us well; but have not taken the least trouble to help us with our baggage. Instead of bringing it off in a special lighter as they undertook to do, they let it get all mixed with the other baggage and go to the custom-house[.] I have spent hours hunting round after it, and Lee is no use or help at all. It was all unloaded yesterday and I watched the process; but they only sent with me a man, who could talk no French or English, so it was very difficult doing anything. Now they tell me a case is missing (though I am sure it was all there yesterday) and I have to go—again with a man who talks nothing but Portuguese—to hunt it up. This has meant another day’s delay. {5}

I have decided to go to Passo Quatro; it is quite a good place and not so far away as Christina or Alfenas. Moritze† is to be there too; he is very pleasant[,] talks English (the worst English I ever heard) and is really doing his best for us I think. The chief objection to Passo Quatro is that all the ministers, ambassadors, reporters and tag rag and bobtail will be going there; but I think we shall not really be disturbed by them. I should have gone to Alfenas, if I could have depended on Lee, but the difficulties are too great when one has no real assistance. {5}

We have been made honorary members of the Club Central here, which is very convenient, as we are a good way from the main city at this Hotel.

The trees and gardens about here are very interesting and the palm-tree avenues in particular are beautiful. I do not think there is any chance of our sailing from here until Oct. 23 and I am looking forward to having a week’s sightseeing and so on before leaving.

We have got English news now up to Sept. 2.

Please keep these letters as I have no other record of events.

With very dear love from
your affectionate son
Stanley

Later (evening)

I had just finished this when the Portuguese gentleman came to go with me to the Customs-house but I was very glad to see with him Perrine of the Argentine expedition, who landed yesterday, and whom I have met in England. He was a great help to us. We motored to the Customs-house and there I found my baggage was all there—nothing missing—so the lost case was a false alarm, and saw it loaded on trucks to be taken to the Station—so we are really getting on.

There was just time to get to Sir William Haggard’s in time for lunch. The other guests were the American Ambassador {6}, Birch the Secretary of the British Legation, Lee, Worthington and another man. These with Lady Haggard & her daughter and our three selves made eleven. It was a very pleasant party; the Haggards & the American Ambassador are very genial and nice. The inevitable newspaper photographer turned up and we had to submit.

After leaving them we went on to the Botanical Gardens, and spent an hour or two there; they are just lovely. Very few flowers, but the trees are wonderful—magnificent avenues of palms, and tropical bushes of all sorts. We shall certainly visit them again.

We may get away tomorrow evening; but I expect it is more likely to be Saturday. There is a break of guage† on the railway at Cruxeiro and the baggage has to be changed over on to another waggon there.

Your loving son
Stanley

—————

Numbered ‘5’ at the head in pencil.

{1} Henrique Morize was Director of the Brazilian National Observatory at Rio de Janeiro from 1908 to 1930.

{2} A vertical line has been drawn in pencil in the margin, probably to mark the phrase ‘and Lee … came on board’.

{3} Sir William Haggard, brother of the novelist Rider Haggard, was British Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Brazil from 1906 to 1914.

{4} Lauro Müller, who was Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1912 to 1917.

{5} A vertical line has been drawn in pencil in the margin by this paragraph.

{6} Edwin V. Morgan, US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Brazil from 1912 to 1933.

† Sic.

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