ELGIN Privately Printed copy of Lady Elizabeth Bruce’s Dairy 1894-98


The Diary of Lady Elizabeth Bruce 1894 -1898. Edited from the manuscript diary by H Babington Smith 1971. Published by the Editor [Eton Wick]. Three volumes octavo [6.5 x 8.5ins]. With additional material.

 Vol I 1894. Title page, contents list, specimen of hand written diary, 3 full page sketch maps [INDIA, SIMLA & JUTOG, NEIGHBOURHOOD OF SIMLA], List of the Viceroy’s Staff & of V.I.P.s, 208pp.

Vol II 1895 & 1896. Title page, contents list, list of illustrations [19 in text including maps of the 1895 & 1896 Autumn Tours of the Viceroy], list of A.D.Cs not listed in vol I and list of V.I.P.s, 235pp.

Vol III 1897 & 1898. Title page, contents list, 2pp list of illustrations [35 in text including map of the Burma Autumn Tour of the Viceroy], list of V.I.P.s

The first two volumes are printed copies of Babington Smith’s typewritten original and the third volume is a later facsimile copy version and the pages are trimmed to a slightly smaller size. Each volume is bound in unlettered cloth, respectively in green, grey, and red.

INDEX and Table of References to H.B.S. 16pp original typescript, sewn into simple card cover with typed title label.

ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE DIARY No 6 of an edition of 8. Title page with tipped in photograph of E.M.B., 1p introduction [Highgate 1985]. 32 photographs of various shapes and sizes numbered and tipped to 14 card pages, an amusing photograph tipped in showing an 1894 envelope addressed to the Viceroy as Lord Elgin, Esq, King of British India, Calcutta?  fold out page of notes to the photographs. Sewn into simple card covers with printed title label. The illustrations are very helpful including several of the Elgin family and a group of oval portraits of the staff who played such an important in Lady Elizabeth’s life in India.

Vol I has a type written apologia pro libello meo pasted inside the coer and a loosely inserted presentation letter from the editor, dated 20th August 1971, Windsor signed Harry  and addressed to My dear Lucy [Lady Lucy, sister of Elizabeth and married to the 2nd Baron Pentland]. A second letter indicates that he had distributed 30 of the 60 copies printed, mainly to members of the family.

The preface explains that the editor [the second son of Sir Henry & Lady Elizabeth Babington Smith] has edited this work from his mother’s manuscript diary and had a few copies printed for members of the family. Lady Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine [Viceroy of India 1894 – 1899] and travelled with him and her two younger sisters to India when she was 17. Her keen eye for detail makes these diaries especially interesting and, unlike some more circumspect or less detailed biographers of the time, individuals are referred to by name or position throughout. The editor provides useful lists of the ADCs and the VIPs they met on route. There is a certain Victorian formality retained: the author refers to her father as EK [Elgin & Kincadine] before he reaches Indian and H.E. [His Excellency] after arrival. Only one Viceroy could exist at any time. There are however strands of the romance that ws to lead to Lady Elizabeth’s marriage to her father’s Private Secretary in 1898.

The second of the Autumn Tours adds interesting touches to the programme offered above. For instance, as the party was about to leave Gwalior we learn that the Maharaja paid HE a private visit on the morning of Nov 3rd returning after lunch to be photographed beside him. Yet again, in the evening, he came their Their Excellencies to the station and to say goodbye ‘as a friend’. ‘As the train was starting, he ran at full speed after it, to give Her E what she had especially asked as a remembrance of Gwalior, one of the blue tiles from the fort. “I shall be very sorry when you all go”, he said. He is the first native I have seen whom I can feel quite fond of; and it will be nice if;  as he proposes, he does come to Simla some day….’ No wonder so many of those glorious blue and yellow tiles are missing if the Maharaja was often so generous with his heritage.

This group of books came to us in a large archive from the family of MacDonald of Sandside who were related by marriage to the Elgin family through Capt the Hon Bernard Bruce, RN, a brother of the 10th Earl.

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