Travel Letters: Cambridge Mission, Delhi (1883)

DEAR JOHNNY, — A happy New Year to you and H ___ and both the babies. I received a beautiful letter from you in Bombay, which deserves a better answer than I am afraid it will get from me before dinner is ready. It was full of the spirit of home work, and of all those pleasant things to which I shall be glad enough to get back by and by, pleasant as it is meanwhile to be wandering in these queer places.

Do you see where I am writing ? On the voyage from Aden to Bombay I met a young Church of England missionary, with whom I had a good deal of talk, and who asked me, when I came to Delhi, to put up with him. So here we are. Three young fellows, all graduates of Cambridge, scholars and gentlemen, live here together, and give themselves to missionary work. They have some first-rate schools, and are just starting a high-class college. They preach in the bazaars, and have their mission stations out in the country, where they constantly go. I have grown to respect them thoroughly. Serious, devoted, self-sacrificing fellows they are, rather high churchmen, but thoughtful and scholarly, and with all the best broad church books upon their shelves. They are jolly, pleasant companions as possible, and yesterday I saw a cricket match between their school and the Government school here, in which one of these parsons played a first-rate bat. Under their guidance I have seen very thoroughly this wonderful old city, the great seat of the Mogul Empire, excessively rich in the best Mohammedan architecture.

How I wish you would ask me something about the Aryans, Davidians, about Brahmins, or Buddhists, or Parsecs, or Mussulmans, or Jains. I could tell you all about them, but perhaps you do not care so much as one gets to care here, where the snarly old history becomes a little bit untangled, and you get immensely interested in the past of this enormous people. One goes about picking up all sorts of bits and piecing them together. To-day it is a Cambridge missionary. Yesterday it was a traveling Calcutta Brahmin. Last week it was a Parsee merchant, with whom I got a scrap of talk, and all the time there are wonderful sights, — Buddhist caves, Jain temples, woods full of monkeys and peacocks, rides on elephants, visits to the English governors, and, first of all, three or four charming days at the Bombay bungalow of Charles Lowell.

I wish you were here, and we could talk it all over, and tomorrow night start together for Amritsir and Lahore. But you are not, and I am afraid you do not feel very much interest in the Punjaub and the Sikhs just at present. You will whenever you come here. Meanwhile you must be getting your sermon ready for the second Sunday after Epiphany. I am sure that it will be a good one and wish that I could hear it. And by the time you get this, Lent will be close upon you, and all those hard questions about Confirmation and Lent service will be crowding you. God bless you, Johnny. Love to all.