Getting hotter, but I have not begun summer clothes or khaki, though I expect to do so tomorrow. I have got pains, as I often do on board ship ; shoulders, loins, and legs, liver, and rheumatism I suppose; it will be all right probably to-morrow. Mind you let me know comments on 'Pot-Pourri' No. 2, especially any unfavourable ones. I like to hear the other side. I have written a heap of letters to different people; they are taken back to London and posted, which accounts for the penny stamp doing. I see the penny stamp is to return to its original red after this year - a good thing too. It will be a long time before you hear from me again, and then it will only be a tiresome ship letter with no news. I shall wire from the Cape any important news. The name of place, say 'Kimberley,' would mean I have been ordered to Kimberley, the purpose I will try to put in after. Thus 'police,' ' defence' - to prepare defences; 'Irregulars,' to recruit and drill an irregular force. Those who wish to land to-morrow at Las Palmas have been directed to send in their names to-day, but nothing has as yet been said about uniform. Good-bye, dear mother, let me know all you do.
Your affectionate son,
Monday, October 16, 1899 :' Braemar Castle.'
Dear Mother, - I find no mail goes home till three or four days after our arrival at Capetown, but still I will begin this letter early and jot down things as we go along. When we arrived at Las Palmas we found one of the Artillery ships beginning with a Z was in there, though she left Liverpool about a week before us. F - W (E.A.) who was with me at S. C. and who married a Liddell, came with another officer alongside of us in a boat.I gave him a shout, and he told us they had had no news since the 2nd, and had come for newspapers; he dashed on board and collected a few, and thenoff again, like a shot, which was accounted for by the fact of their ship being on the point of starting ; in fact, she was off before they left our ship.We heard that seven horses had died of pneumonia, that they could not get enough water at Canaries, and were going to put in at St. Vincent, in the Cape Verde Islands.I hope they will twist somebody's tail over that business; it is time that the idea that anyone can swindle the Government in time of war should be exploded. It was a bitter blow to us to hear that there was no news at Las Palmas; however, before leaving, we got an answer to a wire which the gunners had sent home to Intelligence Department asking for 3 l. worth of information - it was to the effect that Boers had sent an ultimatum, and that mobilisation had been ordered; the gunners had gone before it arrived,but we were very grateful to them.We have not had much incident. A man died on Saturday night of pneumonia and was buried on Sunday morning.I have never seen a funeral at sea before. We have got eight trained nurses on board, very nice women indeed; they only heard the man was ill onSaturday.OntheSuperintendent applying to give assistance, she wasmet witha flat refusalfromthe Principal Medical Officer.She insisted on seeing the man, and saw he was very ill; but they still refused to allow her to nurse him, and he was left to the tender mercies of the hospital orderlies.I must say that the army doctors make me boil with rage; they undoubtedly killed a man of the Scots Guards this year, by keeping him with pneumonia in a tent with a daily range of temperature of about forty degrees, and in this case on board ship, if they had put their miserable jealousies on one side and called in the help of a good nurse, I have little doubt the poor man's life would have been saved, or at any rate his death would have been made pleasanter. Another Crimean repetition ! I have no doubt they would have squashed Florence Nightingale if they could. We had a good view of Cape Verde while passing. I have seen it before, but I don't like it any better, and have no intention of purchasing a villa there. I have forgotten to say that I had intended to go on shore at Las Palmas with S - (see below), but on seeing the place all glare, sand, and dust, we decided that we should be better on board. Those who did go on shore seem only to have exchanged a very good luncheon for a very bad one, and to have spent about a sovereign to achieve the result. It seems to me, as far as I know of them, that we have never had an expedition with such good commanders or such an efficient Staff. Things ought to go smoothly and well when the army corps gets out, provided the contractors have done their work as regards transports and provisions. The sending out of Army Service Corps and Army Ordnance Corps to make preparations is verysound and wise, though rumoursaysthatLordL -was much opposed to it. I view with a certain amount of apprehensionthepresent conditionof affairs.If the Indian troops have arrived, Sir G. W - ought to be able to hold his ground in Natal, especially as they have withdrawn with great wisdom from the dangerous Newcastle district. I am not sure that they would not have been wiser to withdraw still further (I hear this has not been done on account of the coalfields near Glencoe). They have no superiority in artillery. This is, I think, a pity, but I suppose it can't be helped. With regard to the scattered forces round the Northern and Western boundaries of the Republic, I look upon them as displaying a strategy of so mean an order as to point to political interference, There is no doubt that whenever politicians interfere with military disposition they court and invite disaster. Probably in this case, people clamoured for protection, saying that they expected to have their throats cut; of course this is not likely to occur, as, however barbarous the Boer may be, he could hardly kill defenceless people; the real reason of their clamour is that they want their property protected. I should encourage them to remove the property by denying them protection and by giving compensation to a moderate extent for property damaged that could not be removed, such as mine machinery. My forces I should concentrate sufficiently far from the frontier as to render an attack in overwhelming force improbable. I fully expect to hear that the different detachments at Tuli, Bulawayo, Mafeking, Kimberley, &c, have been mopped up: if they are not, the Boers have only themselves to blame; we have played their game as much as the Khalifa did Kitchener's at Omdurman. I also expect a pretty general Dutch rising in the Colony, which also would have been less likely to happen if our total available forces had been concentrated somewhere near the line