Geology Reference
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to his parents and to his friend Bob, as well as a diary that he
kept for most of 1911. All the letters to his parents are rather for-
mally, but nonetheless charmingly, addressed to 'My Dear
Mother and Father' and end 'With love from your affectionate
son, Arthur' . They provide us with a fascinating insight into atti-
tudes of the times and the mind of a young man travelling
abroad for the first time in the early part of the last century; a
century in which so much changed so rapidly. The six months
Holmes spent in Mozambique formed the foundation stone of
his life-long research interests. In particular, his ideas of devel-
oping a geological time scale evolved during this trip, and so
much of this part of the story is told in Holmes' own words.
At ten in the evening on Monday 20th March, 1911, they set
sail for Mozambique aboard the General , a ship of the German
East Africa Line which was on her maiden voyage.
Till about 7 p.m. we spent in seeing around Naples which
is as different a town from anything English as could be imag-
ined. The streets and roads are all paved on the same level
with huge slabs of lava. Only the main streets are at all wide,
the rest being so narrow that you could touch each wall stand-
ing in the middle. There are a few trams but mostly curiously
shaped carts pulled by oxen with huge horns. All over there
is a strong smell of garlic. Indeed all the cities we've been in
seem to have a characteristic smell. Paris was like a bread
We left Naples on a small steamer which carried us across
the bay to the great shining palace which was to be our home
for three weeks: as we were going off there were dozens of
beggars exposing all their infirmities - really most repulsive -
in the hope of getting a few coppers. Having got on board, I
found myself with Wray in the loveliest little bedroom imagin-
able. The ship can only be described as a first class hotel.
There is a beautifully furnished drawing room with a grand
piano. Dining room, smoking room, writing room and several
others; library, map room etc are all magnificently fit up. There
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