, Indian Guaranteed Railways.] Two Autograph Accounts by Sheena Tennant of a tour with Maitland across India in a private railway car, encountering Bhupal Singh of Udaipur and Pratab Singh of Idar.

Sheena Tennant (1883-1974), niece of Margot Asquith [William James Maitland (1847-1919), Deputy Government Director, Indian Guaranteed Railways; Sir Pratab Singh of Idar; Sir Bhupal Singh of Udaipur]
Publication details: 
India [including Calcutta, Darjeeling, Benares, Lucknow, Cawnpore, Agra, Jaipur, Lahore, Peshawar, Delhi, Bombay]. Two volume account: 29 November 1912 to 27 January 1913. One volume account (in 1913 Asprey's Diary): 1 January to 1 March 1913.
SKU: 16316

Sheena Lilian Grant Tennant (hereafter ST) came from a privileged Scottish family, being the youngest of the six children (five daughters and a son) of wealthy industrialist James Tennant of Fairlieburne, Fairlie, Argyllshire, a nephew of Sir Charles Tennant of the Glen (father of Margot Asquith, wife of British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, who was hence James Tennant's cousin). Beginning as a partner in the Glasgow chemical manufacturers Charles Tennant & Co., James Tennant became director of companies including United Alkali Co, North Eastern Electric Supply Co, and Eastern Paper Mills Co. ST was educated at Cheltenham Ladies' College, studied music composition in Paris under Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979), published eight piano pieces (including songs by W. E. Henley and W. B. Yeats) between 1908 and 1929, worked during the war and until her marriage as assistant to Major William Byam (1882-1963), Royal Army Medical Corps, at the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Euston, and in Hampstead. On 31 July 1919 she married Herbert Moorhouse Kendall (1881-1941) of the P & O, previously of the 3rd Duke of Cornwall's Light Infrantry. Like Tennant, Maitland was a Scot. He served in his post from 1892 to 1912, and the tour described in these volumes would appear to be a valedictory one. (For more on Maitland see his entry in Who Was Who.) The present collection of three volumes, in Sheena Tennant's autograph, comprises two separate - and overlapping - accounts of her Indian journey, both incomplete. With its descriptions of Maharajahs and their palaces, balls, polo matches, a durbar, and sightseeing on elephants and in bullock tongas, ST's text paints a vivid picture of the world of privilege and luxury inhabited by the English and Indian ruling classes on the eve of the First World War. The first of the two accounts, in two 12mo red cloth notebooks, covers the period from the start of the journey on 29 November 1912 to 27 January 1913, when the second volume breaks off abruptly mid-sentence. The description of the rest of the journey (1 to 28 February 1913) is lacking from this account. The second account, in an Asprey's Diary for 1913, covers the dates 1 January to 1 March 1913. The entries for 1 to 27 January 1913 in this account do not duplicate, but rather compliment and augment, the entries for those dates in the two-volume account; and the entries from 28 January to 28 February 1912, describe the conclusion of the tour. The three volumes are in good condition, on lightly-aged paper. Useful information regarding the tour is provided by a printed itinerary (1p., 8vo) by 'C. M. PEARCE, | General Traffic Manager', present in one of the volumes. It is headed 'East Indian Railway, | Programme of Tour of Mr. W. J. Maitland, C.I.E.', and is dated from Calcutta, 26 December 1912. It is in the form of a table (date; stations; train; time; remarks), and lists the party's stops at the following stations between 30 December 1912 and 24 February 1913: Sealdah; Darjeeling; Sealdah; Howrah (No. 5 Platform); Benares; Lucknow; Cawnpore (Sleep in Carriage); Agra (Ditto); Gwalior (Ditto); Agra (Tourist Car when released should be sent to Bhatinda); Jaipur; Udaipur; Ajmer; Jodhpur; Bikaner; Bhatinda (Change to Broad-gauge carriage); Lahore; Peshawar; Rawalpindi; Amritsar; Delhi; Bombay. Beneath the table is the following text: 'Tourist Car No. 2377 will be placed at the disposal of Mr. Maitland and Party. The carriage will have the usual supply of crockery and cooking utensils and will be in charge of a Chaprassee. | Mr. Maitland will hold passes for his tour. | At Agra Fort where the party goes on to the narrow gauge, the Tourist Car will be released and is to be sent to Bhatinda viâ Tundla and Delhi to wait Mr. Maitland's arrival. | The programme will be adhered to as far as possible, but should it be desirable to make any charge, the staff must promptly comply with Mr. Maitland's instructions.' ONE (two-volume account): Totalling 142pp., 12mo. In two red-cloth notebooks: vol.1 (29 November to 27 December 1912): 68pp., 12mo; vol.2 (27 December 1912 continued to 27 January 1913): 74pp., 12mo. Tipped-in onto the front free endpaper of the first volume is the printed itinerary quoted above. The second volume contains eight photographic prints (six views and and two pictures of racehorses and their riders). Also laid down in the two volumes are a total of 30 illustrations of views from the tour, mostly on postcards. The first volume also contains a printed invitation to 'Miss Tennant' from 'The Governor and Lady Carmichael', to a ball at Government House, Calcutta, on 23 December 1912. The first entry (29 November 1912) begins: 'Mr Maitland, Marjorie & I left London at 11.30 this morning by the P. & O. special & were seen off by Charlie, Ernest, Evelyn, Payne Gallwey & Molly Thomely - The faithful Gibson (the Maitland's butler) came to Tilbury to see us comfortably established on board the Maloja. We found we had been apportioned very palatial cabins - two of the very best on the ship'. A description of the luxurious three-weeks' voyage out follows: Gibraltar (where they find that 'Admiral Neville had written to the dockyard Admiral - Brock [Sir Osmond Brock (1869-1945)] - about us & we had hardly finished breakfast when his coxswain appeared on board to say the barge was waiting to take us ashore'); Marseilles; Port Said; the Suez canal; Aden - arriving in Bombay 20 December 1912. The following day the party pass 'a very disturbed night', as 'they started straight away moving the mails just over our heads [...] We had to collect twenty four pieces of luggage which we eventually succeeded in doing with the help of a large Parsee gentleman (wearing what looked like an inverted tin canister on his head) [...] Eventually the luggage was put into a bullock cart - & we got into a motor & drove to the Taj Mahal hotel'. On arrival they feel 'dismay' that none of their servants speak English. The party soon visit the Malabar Hill, where ST finds everything 'so new & utterly different to anything I have seen before. The colourfulness of everything delights me - We passed a group of ten or so women - all in brilliant scarlets oranges & yellows - a most satisfying blaze of colour - & the coloured turbans of some of the men surmounting their bronze faces are most effective'. After a visit to the Parsee Towers of Silence they walk over to 'the yacht club close by to tea with Mr Kendall [her future husband] who lives there'. Kendall accompanies the party to the station, where they have 'a large & palatial carriage - two big saloons & two bathrooms & a little sitting room & places for the servants'. Walking along the platform with Kendall, she sees Maitland 'getting into difficulties over his want of Hindustani. Subrati our bearer was walking by a coolie with a box on his head taking it to our train & Mr Maitland was protesting that it wasn't belonging to our luggage at all while Subrati insisted with calm dignity that it was'. (She is much taken with Subrati, whom she describes as a 'dignified bearded gentleman in his white suit & turban'.) On the way to Calcutta they travel through 'rather dry & arid looking' country, 'very little grass - & rather dried up looking trees - an occasional shallow looking river - Now & again a settlement of low ramshackle looking huts with natives squatting beside them & donkeys, goats & cattle near.' At Calcutta they drive to the Grand Hotel, where they dress for the Ball at Government House: 'It was a very gay scene, every kind of uniform, court dress, some native princes & ladies in native dress - & the big white rooms looked brilliant with colour.' In the ball room they find a 'very magnificent young prince in a wonderful pink silk coat & blazing diamonds [...] His sister was in European dress & had enormous pearls'. They are introduced to Governor Carmichael by the Military Secretary Major Champain, who also finds them partners to dance with 'a good deal', arriving home after midnight. The following day they go for lunch at 'Peliti's restaurant & then on to the races'. She describes the a race meeting ('a beautiful place' and 'less noisy than an English course'), including a race for the 'Viceroy's cup', followed by a dance at the Golightly Club a very select affair to which Major Champain had asked us'. On Christmas Day the party accept a breakfast invitation by 'the Stracheys [...] They called for us in their motor at about 8.15 & we went out to Tollygunge. It is a Club just outside Calcutta & has a golf course etc. [...] We had breakfast in a sort of verandah place - a Mr Dickinson & Mrs Trevelyan were there besides the Stracheys & ourselves & we had a very cheery breakfast.' They also visited a rifle range and then 'left & motored home a different & longer way quite in the country almost wild & through quaint little native villages'. Back at the Hotel they change again and go for lunch 'at the Bengal Club with Mr Smallwood', then go to 'watch the polo (Patiala v. Tigers) a splendid game'. On Boxing Day Sheena and Marjorie go shopping, then go for lunch with 'Mr Lance - the secretary of the Turf Club', and spend 'a very entertaining afternoon watching the races'. The following day Maitland goes to Government House, 'to call on Mr Gourlay the secretary & incidentally saw & had quite a long conversation with the Governor'. In the afternoon they go to the zoo, and to a dance at the Saturday Club. A good example of the subject matter and tone of the diary is given by the entry for 29 December, which describes how the party travel down the river in Mr Smallwood's 'little white launch. We had cushions & rugs piled on the deck & sprawled there very comfortably looking at all the interesting sights of the river - first, all manner of strang craft & later as we got more into the country temples with long flights of stone steps down to the water & gardens'. After lunch they reach Chandernagore, where they visit the Hindu Chowdhury family, friends of Mr Smallwood: 'A young member of the family met us & we drove off in two gharries to the house of Chowdhury. There appear to be an ancient widow lady, her four sons, their wives & children & their children's wives & husbands & children - & they all live together - a regular colony. The four sons all speak good English & are very nice, intelligent looking men. Marjorie & I were taken off to call on the ladies - our menfolk not being permitted of course - & went across a courtyard to another part of the large straggling building. It was really rather an ordeal as the room seemed to be full of women - old & young - all dressed in their best in honour of our visit - & we were introduced & shook hands with each one - Two were very shy & drew their white draperies right across their faces [from] which they thrust out a thin brown hand. The old great grandmother sat stiffly in a corner on a chair, scantily attired in a sheet - apparently it's not correct for a Hindu widow to wear more than that [...] One of them glided forward with a silver box in which were pieces of betel nut neatly wrapped up in green leaves. We each took one but did not proceed to chew it on the spot, not having yet acquired the art.' They return to the men for 'quite an elaborate meal', during which she swallows 'part of a cup of appallingly strong tea & toyed with a curious mixture of rice & sugar [...] One of them sang us an Indian song in a droning, nasal voice accompanying himself on a kind of harmonium placed on the floor'. The party then 'squashed into a closed gharry - except Mr Smallwood who sat on the roof - & started off on a mad career to the pier', where they take a boat to 'about two miles below Howzah bridge'. A few days later they dine on board the steamer crossing the Ganges, and visit 'the tea growing part' on the way to Darjeeling ('The people are of an entirely different type flat faced yellow brown mongolians in curious costumes, some with enormously long pigtails'). They view the Himalayas 'with Kinchinjunga towering up over 28000ft', and shortly afterwards are told 'that some of the natives were coming up to the hotel - devil dancers, if we cared to see them. So we went down to the front of the hotel & witnessed the most quaint performance. The dancing consisted mostly of wild pirouetting - extraordinarily rapid to the accompaniment of a kind of tom-tom & cymbals & weird cries & singing. Then a very small figure with a large & hideous mask appeared flourishing a fly whisk - & danced about - & suddenly with a great rattling of bells two enormous green & red dragons rushed upon the scene'. Back in Darjeeling for the new year they watch more polo and visit a 'chummery' where 'five or six or so young men [...] live together & do themselves remarkably well', before travelling to Benares (4 January 1913), where they stay at the Maharajah's 'Guest House'. They go sight-seeing, visiting the old bazaar and the temples, and travelling in 'the Maharajah's barge', before travelling to Lucknow, where they visit the Residency and the 'Mambara [sic] mosque'. In Cawnpore the sessions judge Austin Kendall collects them and drives them off to lunch with him, before visiting the site of the Cawnpore Massacre and the tanneries, being 'careful to steep our handkerchiefs in eau de cologne [...] as the smell is perfectly awful'. On 11 January they reach Agra, where they visit the Fort, including the Moti Masjid and Jama Masjid, and Akbar's tomb in Sikandra. On 13 January they travel to Fatehpur Sikri, and thence to the Taj Mahal. On arriving at Gwalior the following day they are met by 'Mr Jardine the Resident' and 'Colonel Filose - the Maharajah's A.D.C.', who take them to the Guest House, 'a large & palatial building - very white & many towered & balconied. There are other people staying here - Lord Sandwich & his niece, Mrs Scott Gatty & an American lady - a Mr Kennedy & his wife'. The guests 'witness a Durbar which took place at 4 o'c the occasion being I believe the beginning of the Solar year. It was a most wonderful sight - The folding doors of the room just behind the Maharajah's place in the audience chamber were thrown open & we sat there just behind him - so had a splendid view right down the big gold & white room. Most of the people were in their places waiting for him by the time we arrived. The floor was spread with white cloth & they were sitting on the floor on red & yellow mats four rows deep in long lines down the room [...] At last the Maharajah came in escorted by various other brilliant gentlemen & sat upon the crimson & gold cushion which was just in front of us. Then the long procession began each man coming up in turn - placing his little pot at the Maharajah's feet - salaaming three times & then retiring backwards. The whole time, a collection of musical instruments - tom toms & curious stringed instruments played weird &, to my ears, somewhat untuneful music at the end of the hall - accompanied sometimes by singing in high nasal voices. Among those come to pay their duty to the Maharajah were two or three Europeans - they also sat on the floor in their frock coats with their top hats on their heads - apparently it wasn't etiquette to be bareheaded - also with their flower pot before them [...] At the end two or three special presentations were made - one man having a medal pinned on his breast by the Maharajah - & another receiving a parchment roll [...]'. After the ceremony 'Mr Jardine motored us to the Club & to see the new Residency - his future home, which he hopes will be ready by the end of the year'. On 15 January they go to the Gwalior Gate, 'where Colonel Filose met us - & a large & magnificently caparisoned elephant was waiting to take us up to the fort - The elephant having lowered its uge form to the ground we scrambled up onto its back by means of a little ladder & then started up the steep ascent. I don't recommend this means of locomotion to anyone who is a bad sailor - as it heaves one about in the most appalling manner'. They visit the sights and have an audience with the Maharajah, who, after 'receiving some troops', looks 'a very different being in his khaki uniform to the gorgeous Eastern potentate of the day before'. They see twelve of the Maharajah's twenty-four elephants, and visit the Mausoleum of the Maharajahs, before leaving for Jaipur by rail: 'We had to leave our palatial touring car at Agra for another one as we go onto the narrow gauge in Rajputan'. In Jaipur they sightsee and travel to the palace 'in one brown & gold state coach'. On the way to Amer Fort they exchange their 'vehicle for two bullock tongas at the walls of the city', before visiting the Mansingh Palace and prison. Next they travel to Udaipur, 'quite different from any place we have yet been to in India - hills all round & several lakes - a very pleasant change to see so much water in this dried up country'. They stay at a guest house with 'Count Königsmark & a Captain & Mrs Day', and are invited to a tennis party by the wife of the Resident Colonel Kay: 'we had the usual bevy of native servants to field balls for us - four chuprassies in red coats & white trousers & eight delightful little boys in white clothes with sky blue turbans & sashes who were most spry & nimble - quite a number of people were assembled - I imagine almost the entire British contingent of Udaipur'. The manager of the guest house, Ram Charu, acts as their guide to the 'narrow & picturesque' city, where the men 'often carry large scimitars & look like warlike people out of an Arabian Nights book'. They travel up a hill on an elephant to the palace 'where the Maharana & his suite go & take up their abode in the rainy season'. At the Palace they are 'taken to see the young Rajah - the Maharaneh's only son - He is paralysed - poor man - but very nice & intelligent & talks excellent English' - Sir Bhupal Singh (1884-1955), a cutting of whose Times obituary is inserted with the note 'Do you remember the pathetic little man?' At Ajmer they are entertained by the family of the Resident Sir Elliot Colvin (1861-1940). The Residency stands beside 'what ought to be an extensive lake, but owing to the scarcity of rain this last year or two it is now completely dried up & is turned into wheat fields'. They witness a wedding procession and visit Mayo College, 'a big Hindu college for the sons of gentlemen', around which they are given a tour by the principal Charles Willoughby Waddington (1868-1941). 'We were much amused by four boys of from 12 to 16 of enormous bulk who when asked by Mr Maitland if they were going to play cricket said "We are the Fat Boys" & explained that they were out to do extra drill to reduce their avoirdupois! One was a future Rajah. Mr Waddington says they go home for a few weeks & return fatter than ever so it is rather disheartening.' They are shown round Ajmer by Colonel Woolbert before travelling by train to Jodhpur, where they are met by 'a young A.D.C. of the Maharaja Sir Purtab Sing's [Pratab Singh of Idar (1845-1922)] with whom we are staying'. 'We motored to the Palace - at a furious rate - & there were received by His Highness who stamped across the lawn in riding breeches & a preposterous old knitted woollen jersey. His English is very halting & until you get used to it rather difficult to understand as he has a trick of pronouncing all his l's like n's. I had to think for a moment before I knew what 'Nord Nansdown' meant! He & the young A.D.C. (who has been ten years in England & speaks perfect English) breakfasted with us [...]'. They watch the Resident Colonel Wyndham (one of 'only about twenty English in Jodhpur') playing polo, and dine with 'Sir Partab & Dulpart [sic, for 'Dalpat'] Singh (the A.D.C.). The former was in white clothes with a row of orders on his breast & a beautiful bluey-green turban. At the end of dinner there was quite a ceremony. A servant brought some garlands of jasmine & robes & theh Maharajah put them round Marjorie's & my necks - then another servant offered a bowl of some curious & very sweet smelling Eastern scent & he clipped his fingers in it & put it on our handkerchiefs & finally he took a tray of sweetmeats from another servant & offered us those. All this is really a part of the celebrations for the young Maharajah of Jodhpur's birthday (he is a schoolboy at Wellington just now) & the festivities go on for about nine days.' They attend a gymkhana: 'Only natives took part & there were running races tent pegging & goat cutting. In the latter rather startling spectacle two whole goats (dead, bien entendu) were hung from poles at about a distance of 60 yards apart & a man gallopped [sic] at them with a sword & cut them clean in half one after the other'. Next they go to 'a party at the Maharanee's palace - on the other side of the polo ground. It was quite "purdah" - only the small boy we saw this morning being allowed in - & one ancient doorkeeper - beside the ladies. The party was in the garden - enormously high screens being put all round the walls to keep it from the outside world. The dresses of the women were brilliant & magnificent to the last degree - The Maharanees two daughters had wonderful pink satin skirts heavily embroidered in gold & pale colours & beautiful pink & gold gauze veils & masses of jewelry & bracelets & anklets. The whole scene was marvellously brilliant. Two women sat in the middle beating tomtoms & there was some dancing.' The second volume ends in the middle of a description of a dinner party held by the Maharajah. TWO (one-volume account): On the first 60pp. of a 16mo Asprey's Diary for 1913. In good condition, in lightly-worn black leather binding. Written in a terser, more matter-of-fact fashion. The entries for 1 to 27 January 1913 overlap with those for the same dates in the second volume of ONE, which they clarify with additional information. From 28 January the journey continues in the same style as previously, with further sightseeing and entertaining in Bikaner, Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Amritsar, Ambala, Delhi and Bombay, whence they leave on 1 March 1913 on the Morea: 'Goodbye to India the land of sunshine & colour. To compensate for a certain regret at leaving it all behind, there is a present joy in travelling again on the "clean" pleasant sea through the clear fresh air after the dust of train travelling in India!' The diary continues by recording the passage back to London, which is reached on 17 March. A few days later, while shopping in London, she encounters the artist Joan Howson (1885-1964), a fellow-student from her days in Munich, who is 'working at stained glass in London now'. On 29 April she goes to Parsons Green, 'to see Joan at her stained glass place & look at the window she is doing'. The rest of the year is spent in Britain, and mostly on the family's Fairlie estate in Scotland, with ST practising her music and socialising.