A large draft has just reached us from India, 11 officers and 319 men. They are partly returned invalids, but mainly 2/4th from Quetta. We shall now be a fairly respectable strength.
Cold weather conditions are almost established now. It is only over 80 deg. for a few hours each day, and between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. I wear a greatcoat. A senior captain having arrived with the draft has taken over “A” Coy. and I remain as second in command. There is singularly little to do at present—about one hour per day.
I wonder if you know any of the officers in this push. There is Chitty of Balliol, a contemporary of Luly’s: and one Elton among the newly-joined, said to be a double first.
They have made me censor of civil telegrams.
I see no prospect of peace for a year yet, and not much of our leaving this country till well after peace. I used to think I wasn’t easily bored: but it is hard to keep a fresh and lively interest in this flattest and emptiest of countries.
P.S. Tuesday.—The mail is in for once before the outward mail goes, and it brings yours of 1.10.15. What you report about Charles Lister is exactly what I should have expected. It is an element in all the best lives that their owners are reckless about throwing them away; but it’s a little consolation to know that he didn’t succeed exactly.
Most of my new letters are rather gloomy about the French offensive. We used gas and we’re held up: and we’re being diddled all round by kings in the Balkans.
Elton, by the way, was up at Balliol, a scholar 1911—and knows you, though whether individually or collectively I know not.
Also one Pirie of Exeter has come with the draft.
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November 4, 1915.
I enclose an extract from a speech which might have been made by you, but was made by—who do you think? Our modern St. David.
I read Oliver’s Ordeal by Battle before I left Agra. Most of my relations sent me a copy. So far only one has sent me A.J.B.’s Theism and Humanism: books are always welcome: but as their ultimate fate is very uncertain, it is wiser to stick to cheap ones.
I think the idea of R—— on an Economy League is too delicious. I should so like to hear the details of their economies.
I hope you have noticed the correspondence in The Times on Wild Birds and Fruit Growers, and that the latter contemplate invoking the aid of the Board of Agriculture in exterminating the former.
The birds here increase as the weather gets colder. Geese, duck and teal are to be seen flighting every day. We shot a pochard on Tuesday and a plover yesterday. Large flocks of night-herons visit the flood-lands and rooks have become common. White wagtails appeared in great numbers a few weeks ago, and sand-grouse are reported in vast numbers further north.