[ Scoresby Routledge and Easter Island. ] Autograph Letter Signed ('W. Scoresby Routledge') to 'Dick' [ Sir Richard Harington ], a long and informative letter sending news of the German East Asia Squadron's presence and its aftermath.

William Scoresby Routledge (1859-1939), British ethnographer and anthropologist, husband of Katherine Routledge (1866-1935) [ Sir Richard Harington of Ridlington, 12th Baronet; Easter Island ]
Publication details: 
Easter Island. 10 June 1915.
SKU: 19553

The Routledges set sail from Falmouth on their expedition to Easter Island in the purpose-built 90-foot Schooner 'Mana' in March 1913. They arrived a year later, and established base camps in Mataveri and Rano Raraku, and explored Orongo and Anakena. Katherine Routledge conducted extensive interviews with the natives, and the couple set about cataloguing the moai and their Ahus. The present item was written following the 1915 rendezvous of the German East Asia Squadron off Hanga Roa, which resulted in the Routledges covering up their main discoveries to hide them from the Germans, and Scoresby Routledge sailing the Mana to Valparaiso to complain of the violation of Chilean neutrality. The Routledges left the island in August 1915 and Katherine Routledge published her findings in 1919 in The Mystery of Easter Island. Many of the objects that the Routledges collected on their expedition are now in the Pitt Rivers Museum and the British Museum, and Katherine Routledge's papers are held by the Royal Geographical Society. The present letter is 5pp., 4to. In fair condition, on aged and worn paper, with slight discoloration to the last leaf. A spirited and informative letter, the commencement giving an impression of the general tone: 'My dear Dick - | We have had no proper mail for nearly a year now but odd letters have rolled up at odd times by odd means – Amongst such was yours telling me about the war – needless to say we muchly appeciated it – One would have thought that out here we should have escaped wars allarms [sic] but I am hanged if von Spee with his Pa<?> Squadron did not roll up. They told us nothing at first, and afterwards, when we began to Smell Rat, a Series of bloodcurdling yarns: - England a Republic – India in full Revolt – Australia a Republic – Canada united to U.S.A. - German E. Africa lost to Germany &c. If they had kept their eyes skinned when approaching the Falklands as sharply as they did when here they would not have come to such signal grief – We have been uncommonly lucky – Thrice we just escaped – The “Mana” had only sailed a few days from here when the German Squadron arrived. Then I got from here to Chile in a small steamer that the Brit. Govt. had a controlling voice in that was kindly sent “to enquire after our health”. I found Mana held up in Talcahuano – was assured by Consul General Coast all clear – so sailed for Easter Is. The very day we sailed the German Ship of War Dresden appeared off Talcahuano (I.S. CORONEL) and took an English sailing ship & made for Juan Fernandez Is. Where the British found & sank her.' He continues in the same vein, describing the effects of the war at his location, adding 'It seems very wrong for us to be here and all you out there all doing something, but, as things stand, I dont see that I could contribute much.' While travelling to Valparaiso 'to Report the German goings on' he 'went down with bad dysentry and was in the Brit. Hospital. Valparaiso for 1 Mon.' As the letter concludes he turns to Harington and his family: 'I was awfully grieved to hear from you of your eldest boy being so poorly – You must however recollect that the delicate youngster often grows up to be as strong as a horse. I was the delicate child – never sent to school &c – molly codling certainly in my case answered. […] You would not believe if I told you how often I lament the fate that precludes you being my partner on this trip. I cannot imagine anything that you would have enjoyed more. - Bar Engineer & Steward my paid Crew have proved tip top – but oh these “Gentlemen Specialists” - were I to write what they wire my words would set this thin paper in flames! […] During the last 14 months Mana has been 7 times between Talcahuano & the island – the distance in a straing line is a lot over 2,000 miles. That is Fourteen thousand miles. […] When she leaves Talcahuano she has to keep the Sea for 3 mos. At least. It is only occasionally that she ventures to drop the hook in Cork Bay – precious little bay about it!' He ends with a dismissive comment regarding the crew of the boat which will be carrying his letter: 'The <?> educated Chinese are poor specimens of the genus “homo”. Their cerebral cortex seems deficient in the cells required to formulate the idea of truth and uprightness.' Harington (1861-1931) was an enthusiastic mariner. He served in the London Brigade of the Royal Naval Artillery Volunteers from 1880 to 1891, commanded the Artillery Company of the Calcutta Port Defence Volunteers from 1900 to 1909, and volunteered for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on the outbreak of the First World War. From the Harington family papers.