7 - 8 April 2004
GRANT, James Augustus (1827-1892). Autograph letter signed to 'Sir Roderick' [Murchison], Simla, 18 October 1866, on ivory paper, 5½ pages, 8vo (later endorsement on last page, a few small spots, duststains in folds and at edges, tiny splits to edges, 3rd leaf fraying in margins and integral blank removed).
A commentary on the injustice of the distribution of honours, in which he has received the Companionship of the Bath and Baker a knighthood, while it is 'a shame to Govern[men]t that the family of Spekes sh[oul]d be so wholly ignored. He it is whose name should first appear in the Gazette'. Grant contends that now that there are 'few or no sceptics about the source of the Nile' the Speke family should receive a baronetcy and, since both he and Baker owe every reward and honour they have received to Speke, 'to see his name forgotten and to read my name following Baker's is you must allow somewhat humiliating after our memorable expedition. It is neither a delicate nor natural position in which to have placed Speke & myself.' The second part of the letter gives an account of life at Simla including the probable appointment of a new governor of Bombay, the Grants' attendance at a 'great croquet party' given by the Viceroy, and arrangements for a 'grand Durbar' at Agra.
Proposals that Speke should be honoured had been considered in his lifetime: he had himself written to the Royal Geographical Society in March 1864 requesting that his name should be put forward, but he was not sufficiently popular with the Council. His brother wrote to John Blackwood two weeks after his death to say that there had been an indication that a recommendation had been made that he should have a knighthood, presumably because the Council decided that he had been over-harshly treated. Grant had received the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1864 for his part in the expeditions led by Speke in 1861 and 1862-63 and continued to defend his reputation with complete loyalty. On his death, a suggestion that his name should be added to Speke's on the memorial in Kensington Gardens was discouraged by his widow, and Grant's role in the Nile expedition continued to be perceived as secondary (Alexander Maitland. Speke (1971), p.228).
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