[ Sir George Birdwood, Anglo-Indian naturalist. ] 14 Autograph Letters Signed (12 of them 'George Birdwood') to H. B. Wheatley and Sir Henry Trueman Wood of the Royal Society of Arts, with reference to Sir William Lee-Warner and Sir Thomas Holdich.
The 14 letters total 72pp. The collection is in good condition, lightly aged. Most items docketed and with the Society's stamp. The correspondence relates to Society business, from a strongly Anglo-Indian viewpoint. Letters of 26 May and 2 June 1913 are each 12pp. Long, and concern the relative merits of Indian colonial official Sir William Lee-Warner (1846-1914) and the geographer Sir Thomas Holdich (1843-1929), to be chairman of the Society. In the first he tells Wood that he had previously 'begged' his assistant Menzies to let him know 'that if it was the turn of an Anglo-Indian to be chairman of the Society that Anglo-Indian was Sir W. Lee Warner. Yesterday to my <?> I heard that Sir Thos. Holdich was talked of. Now no one admires Sir T. more than I do. […] But he is not of the type of Anglo-Indian to be made our chairman – […] That Chairman must be of the ruling class of English Indian officials. - A Civilian or a military man, not only of ability & distinction but who has served in the highest administrative offices – civil & political – […] Such men, for instance as Sir Bartle Frere Sir Alfred Lyall Sir Stewart Bayley & Sir W. Lee-Warner Of all these – none has more impressed Indian imagination as Sir W. L-W - &B none been better known here – except Sir Bartle Frere'. He criticises Holdich for his lack of experience, giving his opinion that 'he wd be as great a failure for the Soc: as Sir Charles Lamb – who was a ghastly failure – the sickening taste of which it has taken 2 years of Lord Sanderson to clear out of my mouth.' He continues in like tone: 'If anybody is to suffer through the fiasco let it be Sir Thomas & not the Society – so far as its Indian interests are concerned. It is a case of Pallas – the Untender Hearted – to exert herself in our hearts.' On 2 June 1913 he writes to Wood again at length on the matter, claiming to have always opposed overweighting the Council with Anglo-Indians. I think 3 – Sir S. Bayley, Sir W. L-W. & I, are quite enough: & chiefly because all of us are of one mind in realising that you are the corner stone, & real head stone also, of the Society, & that its whole success depends on supporting you through thick & thin. With you & Menzies after you – in the office as Secretary – is all my pleasure in the Society for the present - & hope for the future.' Later in 1913 he writes concerning a letter he has published in the Society's journal, 'on the iniquity of England robbing India of £90,000 a year paid India by China – without compensating India a single “dam” (not “damn”)'.