The swan used for the Clarke crest and moto Photo of 1857 letter envelope bearing a note from the postmaster.

Letter from R. J. Clarke, August 1857

About letter 32

The 32nd letter from Richard John Clarke to his mother, Anne Clarke, was written whilst he was inside the Fort at Agra, in India. He was then 24 years old. The envelope is 130 millimetres wide and is the only one to have survived to the present. Its battered condition and the annotation it carries may have caused Anne Clarke some unease regarding the safety of her son.

I have added punctuation, capitalization and paragraphs; these being mostly absent from the original (page 1, page 2). Illegible, missing or inferred text is shown thus.

Letter 32

Agra Fort

My dear Mother -
Received your letter of 19th June, & am glad to have letters from you so often. I am happy to say the Post between here & Bombay is not interrupted at present. Letters are brought on camels & have to come round by Jeypore instead of the regular route, so we don't get them till some time after the regular time. The Post to the Hills is stopped at present so I have not received any letters from W.W.C. (William Welham Clarke) lately & cannot send your letters on to him. They send letters from there but as we have received no letters from the Hill Stations I fear that they are all lost. We are still shut up in this Fort & shall be most likely for another month until European troops come up the country as they do very slowly having to fight their way as they come along.

The troops nearest here are between Cawnpore & Lucknow under General Havelock, where they have had several engagements, in one of which they killed 1500 of the mutineers without loosing a single man. They were armed with the Enfield rifle which perhaps accounted for it. I suppose they have this time sent out a good many armaments from England, as European troops will most likely for the future form the greater part of the army. Delhi is not taken yet & there is no object that I see to be gained by doing so at the present as the troops are not strong enough to take it and prevent at the same time all the mutineers from escaping - which they will do by waiting for more troops.

At present the country is quite in the hands of the mutineers. The King of Delhi has his appointed agents collecting revenue within ____ily of this and the shopkeepers in the Bazars will not take our coins at the same rate as the old country coins. Consequently, in paying men, we have to give more copper coins for a rupee than formerly & only in works going on in the Fort. This makes a difference to government of Rs 60 per day. There has been a good deal of work going on and a good deal of plunder about in the area but there is not so much now. However, I have had very good health. All this never was met so much before. People are not so much crowded now.

I have managed to get a room to myself within the last day or two in a turret at the top of the Palace. The only drawback is having to come up 3 stories to get to it. Furniture, crockery etc. sell frightfully dear. I saw an old metal teapot sold at an auction the other day for Rs 13. It is extraordinary to find what a little one can do with when forced to it. I was about a month without a chair & I have not got so far as a table yet. Any crockery is very limited but I don't feel any inconvenience now. I don't intend to carry about many trays in future.

No one has any idea what a row all this is like without being in it for about a week. After the ____ etc. coming into the Fort there were no servants in the Fort at all and no meat or anything brought in from the Bazars, so there was nothing but Commissariat Rations of so much Flour, Pulse, Ghi, Sugar etc. and, of course, you had to get your Indent countersigned some few dozen times before getting any thing. Ladies had to cook for themselves - a thing I fancy which does not happen more than once in their lives in India. I did not attempt it, but lived on biscuits & Commissariat bread, which is not bad fare, until I get my servants in.

There have been a few cases of Cholera and a good deal of diarrhea in the Fort. Otherwise we are very healthy. I hope you continue in good health -

Yours affectly

R Jn Clarke