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Florence Nightingale Letters

[Letter, Richard Grenville, Duke of Buckingham to Florence Nightingale, July 31, 1877] Buckingham and Chandos, Richard Plantagenet Campbell Temple Nugent Brydges Chandos Grenville, Duke of, 1823-1889 Jul 31, 1877

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 July 31 1877 Dear Miss Nightingale, I have just seen your letter respecting irrigation in the Illustrated News.  The information given you has evidently been in some cases incorrect - for the letter imputes to the delays of the non use for navigation of the Canal from Kurnool - which simply & solely arises from the utterly impecunious state of the Company who as the owners have the sole right of navigating and the power to do it without any permission whatever from Government. - It imputes blame to Government for not continuing the Canal to Nellore for the purpose of navigation but does not state that the engineering difficulties of the scheme are such as to have caused the abandonment of it by the Company and a careful review of the matter by Government has not given it a more favourable aspect - it may not be understood generally that it has to be carried through a chain of rocky hills of very considerable height to descend to the plains of the coast by a pass? which has been found extremely difficult & if the canal can proceed it is very doubtful whether water essential to its use could be obtained - when it reached Nellore, its proposed terminus it was still some 16 miles (as the crow flies) from the Coast canal.  Navigation - which would have required a canal with several locks needing a constant supply of water - for which there is no source except during the rains. The letter further imputes to this Government that with reference even to the Coast Canal, Govt. was indifferent until the famine was upon them & that measures of organisation which should precede work were not taken.  The Coast Canal which had been unfortunately left in abeyance for long was taken up by this Government in the commission of 1876 - with the intention of completing it to the Kistna Canals in 5 years.  As the season advanced it appeared probable that labour might be abundant and plans were pushed forward and all necessary organisation for supervision of extended works prepared so that when the failure of the monsoon indicated the necessity for large works, nothing more was necessary than to move the companies of sappers to the place to erect the sheds for hospitals - storesetc. - at the previously selected Camping places - and an organisation was complete from the superintending engineer to the hospital attendant before a man was employed and so much in advance of the wants that for 3 months the staff was in excess of what the numbers coming to the works required. The expectations were that 30,000 men would come for months (?) numbers did not equal half that figure the work had been successfully carried on - and owing to the careful previous organisation - will probably be a complete waterway by Michaelmas notwithstanding outbreaks of disease amongst the coolies - and damage by the May Cyclones. - With respect to the value of the irrigation, I fully appreciate it, or I would not as a Governor have sanctioned this Government undertaking the risk - in effect indemnifying the ryots against the failure of their crop from either insufficiency of water in the Canal or the unsuitableness of the soil - this had probably more influence than famine pressure in bringing about the sudden change in the view of the ryots. - I am sure you will excuse this long letter but I feel sure you would not wish to leave the Government under blame for doing what they have not done, or for omitting to do things they have done.  I have clerical copies of the notes of gov to be sent which will supply the dates etc. I remain very truly yours Miss Nightingale.   Buckingham (?)


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