Diaries

1/1/1903

Thurs 1. [1 January 1903] H [Hugo]'s boy Muni came in with an air of having found the exactly right congratulations and said "Christmas!" We started off at 9 for the Durbar and got there at 10.30. The road already packed with people. The road was watered both for going and coming so that we had practically no dust. A most amusing party. We walked round and I met General Fagan's daughter who introduced me to one who knew Burma and I photographed the Shan chiefs, gorgeous in 3 tiered gold armour with gold pagodas with wings on their heads. They posed for me and one fumbled in his armour and produced a card - the Keng Tang Sawbwa. Talked to Mr Landon and Mr Chirol and Oliver in his jacket and looked at Rajas. The boy Dewas, the elder line[?] had a rope of pearls, 5 or 6 strings deep slung round his shoulder, Patiala the most gorgeous pearls - there must have been millions worth of jewels. Old Bundi was dressed in the forever fashionable costume of very full white skirts. The emeralds, uncut and of enormous size lay on their chests like green lakes or hung from pearl tassels from their turbans or strung with pearls round their necks. Saw Kitchener arrive and then the Veterans - a crowd of old men, white and native together. The whole horseshoe stood up and shouted and the bands played See the conquering hero. At the end came the Gurkhas some 20 of them in bottle green, old men, some halt with wounds, some bent double with years, and last an old blind man leaning on a stick who as he passed turned his blind eyes towards us and saluted with a trembling hand the unseen shouting thousands of the race to which he had stood true. Next the Highland band, most tremendous swagger, then the Connaughts, much cheered. Then the Viceroy's bodyguard of native cavalry, red and gold with blue and gold turbans, then the Cadet Corps in pale blue and gold and then the Viceroy with Pertab Singh riding beside him. The air trembled with the big salutes and the cracking of rifles down the lines of soldiers. Then rode round the heralds in magnificent embroidered clothes and read the King's Proclamation after which the King was cheered and then, outside, the troops cheered, but faintly. Arthur told us they simply refused to cheer Lord C and just before the aides de camp had ridden down the lines and said all the men must cheer and moved the Yorkshires and another regiment up to do it, but the men stood silent. Then Lord C made a very good speech, but too long. He said that 1/5th [one fifth] of the population of the globe was represented and ended with a fine peroration "I trust, I trust in the integrity of my country". After that I flew away to photograph the Gurkha veterans and at 3.30 we were off and home at 5, very hungry in spite of our sandwiches. Col. Gascoyne and Mr Strachey came to call and Arthur and Oliver to dinner, after which we played Bridge. They left at 11. At the Durbar we sat between the Playfairs and the Daveys. A kind little Highlander allowed me to sit down and photograph. I also met Mr Cookson. The Highlanders were acting as ushers. But the men in the arena below had a hard time. They stood at the salute in the front of the Dais all the time. The Connaughts were loudly cheered as they left, the Curzons scarcely at all. She looked lovely in pale blue and a wisteria hat. The Duke had an escort of the 9th Lancers whose leave Lord C. stopped the other day on account of the mysterious death of a P........ Coolie - they say there was no evidence ag. the regiment and further that when they were asked after they came back from Africa to whom a VC shd be given, they unanimously elected the bheestie. A rumour spread that the Duke had specially asked for this escort, but I afterwards heard on good authority that this was untrue (Mr Brocklebank, who has a son in the 9th). There were only 3 cavalry regiments in Delhi and the 9th had to do escort for someone. Anyway they were cheered and their presence caused great excitement. Arthur told us that Lord C., chiefly because of this incident, was so desperately unpopular that when the general cheer came after the proclamation it was known that the soldiers would say not a word. Just before the psychological moment, aides galloped round and ordered the officers to make the men cheer; also the Yorkshires and another were brought forward to made a good noise, but all the men stood absolutely silent and only the native regiments and the officials cheered. The army hatred of Lord C. seems to be partly unjust for Major Dunlop Smith told me that one reason of it was that Lord C. had tried to introduce electric punkahs instead of coolie punkahs in the men's messes and that this had been violently opposed because the Sergeants made a handsome income out of the coolies' pay which passed through their hands. Major D.S. said "I know the worst of his Bad manners and bad language you get from him - I've suffered from him, but you also get the necessary thing done without months of correspondence and miles of red tape. Also the frontier people are fire and flames for him - Mr Cox at Muscat [Masqat], Mr Hughes Buller at Quetta - they know they can go ahead without fear of being repudiated. And they say the Quetta railway ought to be through to Nushki[?] in 2 years. [Written at top of second page of entry:] It was the R.. of Kutch who drove in by the state entry and had to be ejected. The Nizam has precedence over both Govs. General, but he always went behind Lord Northcote out of politeness

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