14 The Mall
Many thanks for the cable. This is great news. I wish Jean and yourself all happiness and the young man himself all happiness and long life too. A cable in reply seemed quite inadequate so I thought I’d just write air-mail as it leaves today. Dad and Jean (Alford) will be delighted that they now have a grandson and nephew. I shall look forward to the first snapshot of the infant. I hope Jean is making a normal and speedy recovery and that the infant is doing well and thriving. Tess, I’m sure, will join in my good wishes. No doubt she has already written you.
I have just returned from a 500 mile tour, one of the usual rounds – Allahabad – Benares - Fyzabad –Lucknow. At Benares I visited Sornath an excavated city built by the Emperor Asoka (Indian first known great ruler) about 300BC. There are very few relics as old as this in India and it is quite extensive and full of interesting sculpture.
The political situation is fascinating me just now. The Congress, as you know, have accepted office. The months of negotiating and arguing and finally the Viceroys gesture, have made it very difficult for any wretched Governor to differ from his Ministers to the point of interference, so the future is full of interest. The Congress Government met today in Lucknow for its opening session. The Cabinet marched to the Secretariat and there saluted the Congress flag. They are mostly distinguished lawyers and cultured men, but are accepting small salaries, and dressing, and travelling in the lowest class in trams like the pleasant village people – so as gradually to expose the expense of the civil service etc., who are really their servants and draw fat salaries. The first thing they will do of course is to release all political prisoners, return all press “good behaviour reports” and suspend all legal proceedings against agricultural tenants for arrears of rent. But I am chuckling at a stroke of genius which is said to be Gandhi’s. The Congress policy throughout India will include: Prohibition” – a start has already been made by the Madras Government. They thus have to “dry out” the British Imperialist. They say first the frit- sahibs in Calcutta and Bombay, then the Army and finally the ICS will go home, when they find they can’t get their whisky!
I have one other item of news – which may however come to nothing. I’ve had a letter from the high hat tin gods in Simla asking if I wish my name considered as colleague and ultimate successor to the Professor of Ophthalmology in Calcutta University “for which an FRCS is a qualification”. That is the great “if”, though Simla must know I don’t have an FRCS, so why ask me? There’s a way they have in the army, that if you are offered a good civil job like this and say no, you are not offered another! So I’ve said yes, and what about leave to study for an FRCS? I’ve heard nothing further. The job is reserved for a Britisher, and I happen to be the only one of the younger men with eye experience – but there is this cursed fetish of the general surgical higher diploma. It is too bad, isn’t it. But before joining the IMS, I was never in a position to support myself for a year’s study, so I don’t really blame myself. In any case 2 out of 3 fail in an FRCS. It is one of the best jobs in the IMS and the present Professor Col. Kirwan is said to be making ₤7,000 to ₤10,000 a year, so it’s quite maddening.
Well, time will tell.
With all good wishes to Jean, your son, and yourself