2.18 London to Port Sudan

June 24, 2012

For my formerly British readers, a bit more about London of 1913: the aristocratic missionary families and the slums of Whitehall.

November 19,1913 – December 31, 1913

In the hagiography C. T. Studd  Athlete and Pioneer, Studd’s son-in-law Norman Grubb describes Studd’s renunciation of his family inheritance as part of Studd’s missionary belief in radical reliance on divine providence.  Gauging by Hayes’ experience with Studd’s extended family in London, the renounced fortune must have been sizable:  Hayes marveled at the servility of British servants while at tea with Studd’s mother – “quite a lovely and gracious old lady” – at Hyde Park Gardens;  served as  “exhibit A” for  “a congregation of the froth and bubble of this great city” at Ashley Gardens in Westminster, and  stayed three days with Martin J. Sutton, 63 year-old husband to C.T. Studd’s 26 year-old daughter Grace at Wargrave Manor overlooking Henley-on-Thames.  Sutton graciously picked up Hayes’ hotel tab at the Wilton as well; in return, Hayes allowed Sutton to introduce him as the hyphenated Hayes-Perkins to the reverend Webb-Peploe – “but I think I’ll drop mine when I leave London.”

Hanmer William Webb-Peploe

When swimming in the cream of British Aristocracy threatened to overwhelm Hayes’ egalitarian sensibilities, first he tried chatting with the liveried staff.  Rebuffed by the butler, he went walking on the streets of London.  On his first walk he met a pair of “bunco men.”  A “presentable young man” introduced himself to Hayes as, Patrick Murphy, an Australian Sheep farmer.  Shortly, a “heavily walking man of great stature” dropped a package on passing by.  As the large man ignored their shouts, Hayes had to run him down to return the packet which turned out to contain 3,000 pounds in 5 pound notes.  From here Hayes’ account continues like the internet fraud popular a few years ago:  the large man’s brother, Dinny, “had emigrated to Ameriky and struck oil, died and left him $3,000,000 with the proviso that 50,000 pounds be given to charity, the recipient to say mass for the Brother Dinny’s soul.  Protestant prayers would be all right too, but the recipient had to put up 500 pounds to show sincerity.  If Hayes didn’t know from the start he was being scammed, a glance at Patrick Murphy’s hands made it clear to him:  “They were as smooth and soft as a woman’s, one who never soils her lovely palms” – decidedly not the hands of a sheep farmer.  Eventually Hayes offered to put up 10 pounds if he could go along to an audience with the pope.  The two film-flam men gave him up as “a dead one” and a few days later Hayes read in the morning papers that the pair had been arrested.

On his next walk, Hayes donned his “second best suit, not fit for the Wilton or elsewhere on the West End,” and slipped out for a tour of the London slums around Whitechapel.

Westworth Street. Whitechapel of London
From a Photograph by F. Frith and Co.

“The streets are narrow and twisted, covered with grime of centuries and filled with playing children of the slums.  It is as different as day from night, the contrast of Grace Sutton serving at one end of the table and her aged Nestor at the other, waited on by stiff backed servants in livery.  Here are 3,000,000 people never a week from want.  There are children with stunted, misshapen bodies and with faces like those of a hunted animal.”  Hayes continues for a couple of pages:  fallen women, ragged clothing, bloated barmaids, food of poorest quality, and always some wherewithal for “the cup that cheers and lies.”  Perhaps Hayes unintentionally critiques the mission work of his aristocratic hosts who travel halfway round the world to Africa with Whitehall within walking distance; he doesn’t write that critique directly, but on returning to the Wilton, then to some evangelistic services in the Wimbledon suburb, he does go this far:   “There, amid the enthusiasm of the better fed and better clothed sisters and brothers of the submerged where I had been, we listened to their peans (sic) of praise and songs of joy, forgetting the dingy East end and all its pathos.”

After outfitting at the Army & Navy stores in Victoria street, a flurry of dinners, that photography course, and a final meeting with Martin Sutton who, “is much at sea concerning his father-in-law’s [Grace’s father, C. T. Studd, ten years younger than Sutton] doings in Africa, and asks me to write him, telling what is actually happening there,”  Hayes finally got away from London on December 11 by taxi to Frenchurch St. Station, then by train to Tilbury, and onto there British India liner Golconda.

SS Golconda

Of course Hayes travels second class.  The Golconda carries only eight other passengers: “All men, so it looks like a good trip.”  The Lascar crew of 155 gather on the afterdeck wearing white jibbehs bowing, kneeling and standing in prayer every afternoon.  The crew looks foolish to the passengers, the passengers look destined for hell to the crew.  “What is one man’s meat is another man’s poison, all over the world.”

On a smooth sea through the Strait of Gibralter, Hayes “tried to get a snapshot of Tarifa as we passed, but it was too far away.”  A howling gale sweeping a raw drizzle down off the Alps welcomed the Golconda to Marseilles where news came of the sudden death of Martin J. Sutton.  Hayes had had a “certain premonition of ill tidings coming into port,” that he retrospectively attributes to the death of Sutton who had shown kindness to him in London.

Chateau d’if

Hayes’ tour of Marseilles included the Rue Cannibiere (sic) “dating from the time of Rome and Greece in their greatness… a show street if there ever was one,” and the Chateau D’if “where the prisoner of Chillon-no, some old-time captive was put on cold storage, and it was the right place for him; for how cold this place is, with the mistral sweeping down off the Alpes Maritimes!”

Leaving Marseilles, past Corsica, and Sardinia, Hayes falls in with fellow American passenger, Charley Fanton, who says he’s fifty but looks seventy, sailing toward Aden, “where he will set up an electric plant for the city.”  Fanton spent twenty years in Russia “acquiring nihilist ideals,” and has just come from oil company wars in Mexico where he fought for Standard Oil.  Before that he worked on the Madiera-Marmore Railway construction in Brazil where kidnapped Germans marooned there died like flies in the winter.  Of course, to Hayes, Fanton, a kindred spirit, “is a likable chap, a good buddy for a trip like this one.”  At Naples, Hayes and Fanton bypassed the dockside sirens and the glass houses with naked dancing girls in search of “real knowledge of Italian city life.”  Mostly they learned inhabitants of Naples ignore the ash regularly settling on the town from the volcano at Vesuvius “going their several ways as people do all over the world.”

Arriving in Port Said on Christmas Eve 1913, “All the crowd are jolly tonight.  With usual regard for the birth of Christ everybody is celebrating with wine and song.”  Earlier in the day, Hayes had delivered gifts to some friends from Los Angeles working at a girl’s school, “training them in European culture and learning,” in Port Said.  Because they knew Hayes was “a Nasrani infidel,” the girls dined unveiled, their “dark eyes shaded by extra long eyelashes” watching his every bite.  If eating unveiled before ‘an infidel’ seems confused, the following explanation of the girl’s future reads as hopelessly ill-informed, nevertheless Hayes writes:  “The Americans told me they would soon enter harems, for all these girls are daughters of sheiks and emirs, or prominent business men of the Egyptian cities who have parental feeling for their children and wish to give them some instruction in the ways of the dominant Unbelievers who rule Port Said.”

Dining with 200 young women on Christmas Eve beat “the usual booze comedy” pulled aboard the Golconda steaming down the Suez Canal the next day hands down.

Port Sudan

On the last day of 1913, Hayes debouched from the Golconda once again stepping onto African soil at Port Sudan among “ragged pilgrims… swarthy Greek merchants… inky black Sudanese and suntanned Indian traders.”  After the typical shakedown at customs, in another week he’ll be steaming south up the Nile!

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2.17 San Diego to London

June 17, 2012

Kayann, Does the hip in the Velasquez painting remind you of Edward Weston?  Can that have been intentional?  Maybe that’s just what hips do.  His one appreciation of culture in London high society.

I’ve included two maps this week.  The first shows his travels in the last half of 1912 and all of 1913 – about eighteen months.

This second map gets him from San Diego to London by way of Canada and across the Atlantic.  Click the title if the maps do not appear.

October 8, 1913 – November 17, 1913

“This Place [San Diego] is the place I have been looking for all my life.  For some reason the boss seems to like me, and the place is permanent.  It will take something good to get me away from here. I am almost forgetting about Africa even.”

Standard Oil Fire, 26th and Schley, San Diego CA 1913

Marred only by the Standard Oil fire that Hayes says burned 250,000 gallons of gasoline and another 1,500,000 gallons of other oil on October 5, 1913, San Diego is a sleepy little town with soft, balmy air off the Pacific Ocean tempering the heat of the sun.  Sharing a room with Fred Sidler, Hayes cooks meals in a small kitchenette, sleeps well in the cool evening air, and watches a rising sun darken the blue of the sea caressed by the cool morning breeze.

And yet: “Somehow I have a premonition of disaster.  I don’t see what could happen in a place like San Diego, but there is a haunting, sub-conscious warning of evil to come that thrills me like an electric shock.  I wake in the night wondering; I am almost afraid.”

October 20, 1913, the day after writing the preceding paragraph, Hayes received a wire from London asking him to report to the board of the Heart of Africa Mission.  If the interview in London goes well, the board will send him to the Belgian Congo.  “Will I go? Of course.  Perhaps this telepathic warning I have had tells me to stay away.  But it is Africa, and to Africa I will go regardless of warnings and all else.”

Three weeks after arriving in “the place I have been looking for all my life,” Hayes departed San Diego for Los Angeles, arrived in time for breakfast with George Studd, delivered and evening address to “a small crowd … at the big mission hall in Los Angeles,”  and left for Chicago at 9:00 AM on the morning of October 28th carrying gifts for George’s brothers: C.T. Africa and and J.K. in London.

Arizona is desolate; Chicago “is so cosmopolitan I feel a stranger in my own country;” Montreal is so cold with no heat in the hotel Hayes must sit all day in the moving pictures to keep warm.  “It costs five cents all morning, five more until bedtime, with a bit of entertainment between naps.”

Ausonia (1), Cunard line

On November 1st, Hayes sailed out of Montreal aboard the Ausonia, a cargo boat that carried passengers in “knockdown berths.”  Such boats are always full of immigrants on the westward trip, but the Ausonia sails east only half full of a few Russians retiring home to their slums with an “ample competence” earned in Canada and many “British who have failed in the new country.”  As the river widened at Lac St. Pierre the Ausonia stuck in the low water, “then we hauled off and we are on our way again, a howling blizzard behind us.  The men who broke the way into the wilderness of the St. Lawrence were made of sterner stuff than I am.”  Hard to imagine anyone made of sterner stuff than Hayes, but he says “I am getting all the hardships I want as a passenger on the Ausonia.”

Chateau Frontenac, Quebec

At Quebec, only a few passengers aboard the Ausonia “braved the howling gale to look at the city from the deck. The Chateau Frontenac looms high above its neighbor buildings from its vantage point on the bluffs.”  Labrador “is an icy desolation”;  Newfoundland “almost as cheerless as Labrador.”  Waves jumping the forecastle froze “the anchors, forward rigging and rails all [into] a sheet of ice.”  Passing out the Strait of Belle Isle Hayes saw a green and blue iceberg so large it had hills and valleys:  “150 feet in height, covering two or three square miles in extent.”  Leaving the shelter of Canada, the Ausonia’s crew secures the deck in preparation for heavy weather(!)

November 7 1913:  For three straight days a blinding gale rolled the ship on high irregular swells with seasick passengers huddled together for warmth “and on every hand could be heard wails of fear lest the ship be lost.”

But on the 9th, the sun broke forth, the passengers forgot their woes and some even broke out a gambling table in the cabin directly beneath the sign reading “Gabling Forbidden.”  Hayes’ berth mate lost $100 using a surefire winning scheme but Hayes eschewed the table worrying more about the larger gamble of his return to Africa:  “I usually get the bad place, and wonder if this will be an exception.  I hope to accept the result, whatever it may be, with equanimity.”

The Ausonia docked at Plymouth where passengers transferred to trains arriving in London on November 12th.  To economize, Hayes took a room in Edgeware Road, “a slightly dingy part of town.”  But was transferred to the Wilton “not far from the House of Parliament and from Buckingham Palace,” after meeting with James Ingram and Martin J. Sutton, “who are heads of the mission that proposes to anticipate Islam in Africa.”

Priscilla (Stewart) Studd

From the Wilton, Hayes launched straight into the whirl of England’s aristocracy.  First he met with “Mrs. C.T. Studd” and her four daughters (two unmarried) at their home near Crystal Palace.  Hayes writes: “We had the usual pink tea fight, and later came another at the Wingfields at Ashley Gardens in Westminster.”  (I wonder if a reader familiar with the phrase “pink tea fight” might send a definition.)  Feeling very much at sea “among these grandees,” Hayes allows his name to be hyphenated:  “I am now Mr. Hayes-Perkins.  This adds infinitely more tone than to be just common Hayes Perkins, as I used to be.”  At these fêtesHayes can manage English men, but the “primped and bedizened dowagers who stare at one through double barreled lorgnettes give me the creeps” – though “they do have some handsome daughters.”

Venus, Diego Velázquez

The following day Hayes escaped to the Natural History Museum at South Kensington.  “This is more in my line, for I love animals, and saw many, including rare ones now extinct.”  For some culture, he revisited Mme. Tussaud’s wax museum (no longer the wonderland it was for Hayes the 21 year old boy, but “it is still good”) and the National Art Gallery where Velasquez’ Venus slashed by suffragette Mary Richardson alone caught his attention:  the rest “might have been beer chromes as priceless art in my eyes.”

Hayes will be in London high society for another month.  The “handsome daughters” make the time bearable and he attends to at least one practical matter as tantalizing to me, his first cousin thrice removed, as any recorded in his diary:  “This afternoon I was at the Army & Navy Stores taking a course of instruction in photography, for the board wants some pictures of inner Africa.”

Anyone have an idea where those pictures taken for the mission board might have ended up?  I’d like to see them too.