Friday, 18 September 2009

Tsabonang , Tibet 38 miles from Lhassa September 26th 1904

My dear Delia,

Just a line, We are really on the march back, Though the very night before we started on Thursday a special messenger arrived with a message from Government wanting us to remain up for a few more weeks n order to alter the treaty in some way or other. We have just finished our third days march and though it has rained the last two evenings during the march, it has been fine. I was pleased to receive by the mail last night, a letter from you August 26th which had been mislaid somewhere and had not come up with the other English letters. We are all looking forward to receiving a few parcels tomorrow as we have received none since leaving Gyantsee on July 17 and for the last week I have not even had a Bazaar Cigarette to smoke even.

Much love. Am very fit.

Your affectionate brother Cecil.

Lhassa Tibet September 16th 1904

My dear Delia,

It is now practically decided that we leave here now on the 23rd and that we ought to be at Siliguor by November 10th. This allows for two halts by the way - one for a week at Gyantsee and one for a few days at Chumbi. We are going on much the same way here. Yesterday we had the usual Thursday afternoon Gymkhana which passed the afternoon nicely and we have also finished up a Football Tournament to keep the troops fit and healthy. We used to have route marching occasionally but the boots of the men are so worn out and there are no more available so these had to be given up.

We are all rather badly for clothes although I think mine will do fairly well until I get back now. My underlinen is the worse for the native troops and followers they have more to get some Tibetan blankets and clothes of sorts but they would be too rough for us. I received a good english mail last time, two letters from Bertie, one from you Daisy Amy and Mrs Young of . I was glad to have you all well at home and that you had much enjoyed your trip to Plymouth.

It is getting colder every day up her and we are all hoping that we shall not find it very cold on our return journey. We have had heaps of congratulatory letters from the king Viceroy and Commander in Chief on our successful arrival in Lhassa and I am keeping them copied out in my diary as a good advertisement when I am out of a job. Well no more various news, Much love to all your affectionate brother Cecile.

PS I hear that Tibetans curios at Christie's are fetching large prices, The Tibetan scroll like the one I have sent to you fetched £20 so you had better see what you can get for any of them.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Lhassa, Tibet September 8th 1904

My dear Delia

Since my last letter to you I have seen a good deal of Lhassa . We are now allowed to make up parties to go in to the city to shop. We had a great morning a few days ago. We found a bazaar or marketplace situated in a road which runs practically in a circle though the City. The best shops below to the Chinese or the Cashmere people but there are lots of stalls in the ordinary asdfsd exactly like the East End - on which are displayed all kinds of rubbish, old iron-ware, bead necklaces or vegetables, skin and leatherware. By entering the shops however and rooting out boxes and drawers we managed to find a few things to purchase. Anything of value however the people ask the most exorbitant prices for.

The inhabitants as a rule were very quiet and inoffensive but here and there are met with a truculent salesman who would hardly answer your question as to prices at all and appeared absolutely indifferent as to whether we bought anything or not.

Yesterday was a great day - the day for the signing of the treaty at the Potala or Dalai Lama's palace. The Hall in which the ceremony was to take place, being a small one - only a few Officers from every unit up here could be allowed to attend. I and my two assistant surgeons on the score of the length of time with the Force were luckily allowed to be present for everything. The road and entrance to the Potala were lined with Troops through which the General Mission Staff and those allowed to witness the ceremony passed. On arriving at the top of the Potala (no mean ascent) we passed through a passage lighted only by wicks floating in Oil, in to the Audience Chamber where were assembled all the chief Tibetans, Chinese, Bhuttanese Nepalese notabilities. The first thing that struck one was the huge throne of the absent Dalai Lama - covered up with curtains.

After refreshments of tea, dried fruits cakes, etc had been passed round - a speech was made by Captain O'Connor, interpreter, stating for what reason we had come here and what was now to take place. Being in the Tibetan "lingo", at least, this is what we believed him to be saying. The Treaty document was then opened and glanced at curiously by all present and then Colonel Younghusband said he wished those authorised to do so to sign. Then there was a great bustle and fuss as the secretaries of the different notabilities produced various gaudy colonial boxes in which their seals and paints were kept and all began a "mix up" of paints. When they were ready, O'Connor the Mission Secretary with a pencil showed each one where exactly to place his mark. The attitudes and demeanour of the various powers during this process was very funny to note. Some came up at once and made their mark, while others notably the Regent who had been put up in the place of the absent Dalai Lama - would not come up at all. In fact he looked the unhappiest man there - and didn't seem to be liking it one little bit. After the "Council of Four", the Heads of all the Chief Monasteries in Tibet had signed, Colonel Younghusband advanced and signed and sealed and then the Chinese Amban - Nepalese, Bhutanese residents signed. In fact I believe everyone who was important in Lhassa has signed the blooming document to make it all square. At all events they were signing for about 3 hours during which I took a stroll around the room.

In the side of it was cut off by huge iron rails or rather doors looking through which one saw hundreds of images and Buddhas - on a kind of altar place. Some of these idols were beautifully made and carved. On the other side of the room was a fine frescoed wall, the room itself was the usual pillared room with a gallery running round the sides like all the monasteries. After the signing of the document, more refreshments and cigarettes were handed round, and then Colonel Younghusband made his speech sentence by sentence in English - which was interpreted by O'Connor to the Tibetans and by another interpreter to the Chinese Amban and his entourage!! The sum of which was that we had been found by them very bad enemies but that if they kept the treaty they would find us as good friends. One of the Council of Four then made his speech which was shortly that they were very pleased that the treaty had been signed and now it was all over. And here the proceedings terminated and we went home at a hard gallop as it was about 6pm. Today all prisoners have been released and each has been given R5/-.

Your last home letters told of your comfortable journey and visit to Plymouth. With Grandma also wrote and said what pleasure your visit was giving her. I am glad you had the outing will do you all good, Still nothing definite about our return. I wrote a long letter to Grandma by the last post which I hope she will send on to you. I am keeping fit, my knee is alright again now, with much love your affectionate brother Cecil.


My dear Delia

Every week one of the Battery Officers gets copies or cuttings from the English papers about the doings of the Force and I see the Daily Mail and the Globe give the best account of our work - so I hope you will get them at all events the Daily Mail which Candler represents. I received your long letter last night, also Tim's telling me about the Anglo French Exploration Co - please thank him for this and say I am sorry I forgot to mention about his former letter which I did receive safely. I am not really nervous about my investing but it was because I received a Circular about the Anglo French Co which made me think it must concern the shares that I held, otherwise why had they sent me the prospectus . I am glad that Sheila (My Granny) had such a happy birthday. I am sorry I forgot about it but it is hard to remember in time to reach you on the proper date. I think there is no doubt that we shall start on Friday next, the 23rd. I have written Bertie a long letter that I hope he will forward on to you although I see from your letter yesterday he often forgets to enclose them. No more - don't forget about the papers.

Your affectionate brother


PS I am enclosing a cheque for £2 please keep for yourself and have a little bust on it, The other please put in the plate for me at Church as a small thanksgiving for all God's many mercies to me and for my safe arrival here and I hope safe return. If you know any deserving person give it to her instead if you like - it will be the same thing.

PPS: I have sent you home - note at the top of the letter. I am bringing much better things. Am enclosing telegrams so please keep for me.

Lhassa, Tibet 01-09-1904

My Dear Bertie,

Not very much news to chronicle. There is still some doubt as to whether we shall get down on the 14th-16th. The only excitement here has been the Lhassa Sky Meeting which finished up with three days racing. My pony came in yesterday first in the 12-1 class and was second in the Lhassa Handicap on the second day so we did pretty well. He was made favourite in the Lotteries -50/- & 32/- & 42/- which meant for the whole ticket 100/- 64/- &84/- - the lottery being about 300/- so I didn't win much on the whole.

We now have a Rifle Meeting on - a few days ago Mr Claude White, Political Officer - took a group of the General Staff Officers of the Lhassa Column - so I hope to be able to get a copy eventually. Mr White has a very fine camera and I think is taking pictures for the Government of India.

No parcels have been received since we left Gyantsee - so I have not received your cigarettes yet - we are all reduced to coarse Tibetan tobacco leaf - which some of the pipe smokers have managed to so smoke a little - and some very bad 'Pedro' cigarettes which one can buy in the Bazaar - but are mostly mouldy from being years in Lhassa. Everything in Lhassa is old, even to the eggs which are mostly "good in parts" - generally we have them fried as the opening process takes place in the kitchen - I one morning said I would have my eggs boiled. They appeared but after opening five and finding every one bad, I gave up the process.

We have had lots of rain here in fact every night. Everything is quiet except we had an attack by a Lama on two Sikh fellows in the Bazaar the other morning. One fellow was badly slashed over the head with a sword - the other - Kelly - carried only slightly in the head. Next day we publicly hung the Lama and left him hanging for 24 hours as a warning to others.

I have collected a lot of curios of sorts, about £15 pounds worth which will do for presents when I get home. Some of my friends have written to ask me to spend money on curios for them but I cannot really manage it as I can't transport them down, and another thing is - all curios of any value are at once snapped up and are very difficult to obtain as we are not allowed to enter Lhassa except as escort to the General or Younghusband, which have only once formed. All the Medical Officers visited the Lhassa Medical Hall and found it a great fraud. None of the "professors" had the least idea of Medicine or Surgery.

Hoping you are fit

Yours affectionately

Cecil Wilmot Mainprise.