Friday, 28 August 2009

Lhassa Tibet Sunday August 28th 1904.

My dear Delia,

I think I have more news to give you this time. On the 29th we had the Lhassa Race Meeting and we all had great fun and excitement. In the race I entered my young pony Flying Fox for - the Lottery he was made favourite and sold for R84/- - I took half of this as I thought he had a good chance to win the prize of over 350/-. But unfortunately he got off badly at the Start and did not win - coming in fifth out of 12 entries. However yesterday he came in 2nd in the Lhassa Handicap - so I did not lose much after all. If the race had been twenty yards longer he would have been first as I caught up with the leader rapidly at the end.

I unfortunately was not present at the race yesterday as I had twisted my knee again the day before and had to lie up - but this morning my knee is better again. This is the first time I have really hurt my knee since leaving Silingore so I can't complain.

The day before yesterday Thursday 4, all the medical officers with the PMO went to inspect the Lhassa School of Medicine but we found the Institution a great fraud - it is really a monastery and the Head of the College had not the faintest idea of either Medicine or Surgery nor had any of the other Lamas. I think their's must be faith cure only - apparently they never "cut" and their drugs are all herbs of the most primitive kind, They didn't even know the position of the various organs of the body - they pointed to the right side of a man and said being a man his heart was on the right side, They also said the liver made the lips? and the spleen, if diseased, caused the eyes to become dull. They had no surgical instruments to show - no medicines - and could not even show us any patients and yet this is the only Medical Hall in Tibet,. So you can see we have discovered another fraud in Tibet. In fact Lhassa is the City of Frauds in my opinion.

We were to have finished up the races with a concert last night but at about 8pm such a storm came up that it was impossible to have it. It came down in Torrents and the thunder reverberating amongst the high hills around here, sounded very grand. Last night I received the English mail - your letter written just before you left for Plymouth and one from Grandmama with your note to it saying you had arrived safely. I should have much liked to have accompanied Tim on the steamer - it must have been dull going alone. It should have been the very thing I should have enjoyed. Do you remember our appetites directly you and I got on the SS Oliver and how we had to gsd our meals - and what a huge breakfast and dinner we used to eat, by waiting to have lunch. Yes!

I was very pleased to see that Bertie was a Captain. Two Captains in the family - now we are moving. I have collected about £10 worth of Lhassa Curios, principally jewellery. I hope you will like them. These are the best that I have collected up to now, comprising rings, necklaces ear-rings chatelaines - and cup holders besides Turquoise stones, most of these things are silver set with Turquoise. Everything of value here is very Expensive and some of the officers are spending hundreds of rupees on really worthless things - but as they have come from Lhassa they consider they all are of value.

You seem to have plenty of friends around you at No 26 - I hope you are looking out for some nice girls for me to take on the river or to the Exhibitions when I return. I think we leave here on the 16th of September - already several officers have left to make arrangements for our journey down. Goodbye dear Delia, much love, hoping you have enjoyed your holiday.

Your Affectionate Brother Cecil.

PS: Many congratulations on the "Capt'ing", sorry can't drink your health except in tea, This has just come in.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Lhassa Tibet, 10-08-1904

My dear Bertie

We have arrived at our journey's end but I am afraid that I cannot tell you much of the City of Lhassa. We are camped about one mile from the City and so far we have only been allowed to go as far as the City gate. However from the hill overlooking the city we have been able to have a very fair sight of the place, the most prominent feature of which is the Palace of the Dalai Lama which is certainly a magnificent structure.

The ordinary people are quite friendly and come out of Lhassa every morning and form a bazaar outside our camp where most of the articles we are however suitable only for the Sepoy's food. This afternoon I shall go right in to Lhassa as the General is going to make a call on some of the Tibetan Hobnobs and I am going with the Escort.

We nearly had another engagement on Monday - the Tibetans refused to bring in supplies so we went out with a large force to a monastery called Debune where the 7000 fighting monks live and demanded grain. They refused to supply it so we gave them one hour to think it over. And began to make our disposition for an engagement. Just as time was up we saw a Crowd of Lamas filing out of the monastery with loads on their backs so we let them off for the once - but they are very truculent crowd and if they don't bring in enough - we shall have a go at them later. Instead of being well of now for supplies we are worse than ever we were and yet we are giving R4/- per pound for all grain brought in - which is about double prices. The Tibetans are fools - if they don't bring us grain they will have it taken away for nothing and lose all their money.

I received your letter safely telling me of Tayhams visit to the brothers at Ruoakee to say goodbye. We expect him here any day now. I received a nice letter from Tim thanking me for offering to subscribe towards the house rent but that he won't have it for more than a year as he thinks after that time things should look more flourishing. We are having warm but rainy weather so we are fairly comfortable here. Thanks for sending all of the cigarettes we will expect a parcel post shortly - the First for some weeks.

I am very fit - hope you are the same.

Much Love


Cecil Mainprise.

Lhassa Tibet 16-081904

My dear Delia

I received your nice long letter also letters from Amy and Daisy Bull, by the Mounted Infanty two days ago. I was delighted to hear that you were going away for a change to Florence Wilkinson and afterwards I hope you will manage to get down to No 19 which you are sure to enjoy. When you go to the market on Saturday mornings, think of me and how often I remember it. I don't remember answering Tim's letter which he kindly wrote to me thanking Bertie and me for offering to subscribe towards the house rent of 26 Gladstone Road. Please thank him from me for this letter and say that I am only too delighted to give a hand in anyway and that the offer is not quite unselfish as on my return I am looking forward to spending some of my time at No 26 which I could not do if you gave up t he house so you must look on my Contribution as what I should have to spend at a hotel if Tim was not good enough to allow me to live with you. I really think we shall be leaving here about the 15th September and I ought to be home for Christmas. Great Scott! If I am what a "bust-up" I shall have.

I went in to Lhassa last week with the escort that accompanied Colonel Younghusband who was visiting the Amban (Chinese). There is very little to describe, the place it is quite as dirty as I expected. The inhabitants look the same as those at Phari or any other Tibetan city- there were apparently no aristocratic Tibetans to be seen anywhere and except for the Palace of the Dalai Lama, no sights to be seen. I believe we are to go shortly to the Arsenal at Lhassa which made the guns used against us and blow it up, but there are no definite orders out yet. They say the Tibetans have agreed to 6 Articles out of the 9 Articles forming the Treaty so we are getting along gradually. I wrote to Bertie by the last Mounted Infantry Mail and I expect he has sent the letter on to you. We are having a lazy time of it here - sometimes fishing, sometimes reading or "loafiing". We are all training ponies for the Lhassa race meeting to be held here shortly. I have entered my pony for a couple of races so now I turn out at 7.30 am every day to give him a gallop. So Arthur has returned to Aden - poor fellow it is no fun going back to duty after a spell at home. I know how I felt it. I was delighted to receive a dividend from the Anglo French Exploration Company for £5.10 for the half year so evidently they are improving.

Goodbye dear Delia.

I am very well hope you are the same.

Your Affectionate Brother, Cecil Mainprise

Love to Daisy Bull!!

6 miles for Lhassa, 02-08-1904

My dear Delia,

A post goes back tomorrow at 6 am. We crossed the river safely and after three days marching arrived here this afternoon. We arrive at Lhassa tomorrow morning.

This afternoon nearly all the Lhassa Council with the exception of the Dalai Lama came in to have an interview with Colonel Younghusband -both Tibetan and Chinese and the array of costumes and head-dresses was very funny! I don't think there will be any more opposition. I received your letter safely two days ago thanking me for my birthday present and also Tim's - please acknowledge. Am very fit - good night - had a long march today from 7.30 to 4pm.

Yours affectionately,


Bramakputea, Botra River Tibet 28-07-1904

My dear Delia,

Here we are within three marches of Lhassa. We arrived here three days ago and since then have been busy getting the troops across the river. We have not crossed yet but I have just learnt this afternoon from Colonel Waddell that I am to cross with my hospital tomorrow at 9am. We cross in two large barges captured from the Tibetans which are hauled across by ropes, dragged by our men on the other side of the river. The river is not more than 300 yards across but the current is very swift and strong. We were all much upset by the drowning of Major Bretherton, Chief Supply and Transport Officer, and the General's right hand man. He was a great friend of mine and always gave me anything extra I required for the Hospital. He was up here - Siliguer - some weeks before the Expedition started, arranging Commissariat for the Troops. That he of all men should die so untimely.

I am writing outside my Tent facing the river. Along the sandy road in front of me, troops of laden mules are passing to the ferry - these mules and "kits" are to cross the river this afternoon. It is like being encamped on the front of some watering place as there are about two miles of sand and hillocks which we occupy. The Battery crossed the river on the second day - so I for the last two days have been messing by myself. Luckily I have my reserve stores to fall back upon - you remember me ordering these from Calcutta the last time I was at Chumbi. The Commissariat here have run out of everything - you cannot even get a tin of butter or a pot of jam - no salt or sugar even. I expect that we shall all have crossed in another two days and then we shall start on our final three days march.

We are all very excited about seeing Lhassa but hope we shall not stop there for very long. If we could get back by October I ought to be off home by the first Transport - I think there is quite a fair chance of this. If I don't get leave at once I shall swear!! The Tibetans three months privilege leave I rather fear is only available in India. We have had better weather the last two day, nice and sunny though last night we had a sandstorm for a short time which rather blew our tents about. I hear a mail comes in this afternoon and hope there will be some letters for me. Whether it is an English one I cannot say. I received your last letter at asdgfasd . My diary which I have regularly kept up to say - but I think it was about 8 days ago (July 21st). I think I must have written to you after this but one gets so mixed up with the dates and days of the week.

I was glad to hear that you were all well at No 32. I sent off three parcels of "loot" of sorts so from Gyantsee which I hope will arrive in due course. I think you had better give most of it away to friends with my compliments - it is only valuable as coming from Tibet. That carved book cover is valuable and if cleaned and regilded should prove a handsome ornament. The scrolls want repairing as I had to remove the lower wooden shaft to make them lighter to go by post, All these were taken out of Monasteries - principally at Gyantsee - as also the Silk which I don't think is much good. I have recently got a few nicer things which I am carrying with me but will send off at the first opportunities. You mustn't scoff at the loot - there is nothing really valuable in Tibet. There is a strict order against looting now so I doubt whether we shall be able to get much more from Lhassa - however the Sepoys manage to pick up things and it is these that we buy from them - often at an absurd price, much more than they are worth.

I was delighted to get Amy's letter as well as yours. She is enjoying her stay with you immensely. Strange to say I was thinking of Plymouth the other day. I imagined myself starting off on Saturday for the market - and a glorious trip in my imagination. I was spending money like a Duke, buying peas, asparagus, flowers, white puddings, what ho! But when I do enjoy this trip once more how I shall miss dear Mother. You are right, one always especially associates Plymouth with our Dear Mother. Well dear Delia goodbye and love to yourself and the youngsters.

Remember me nicely to Tim

Your Affectionate Brother