Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pictures and vaudeville

‘Went to Loew’s theatre to-day and it’s allright. They had moving pictures and vaudeville. Gosh the acrobats were swelling fat with muscles and they bounded around like monkeys.’ This is from the adolescent diary of Reginald Marsh, an American social realist painter, born 120 years ago today. Although he started his career as an illustrator and cartoonist (the diary is full of cute drawings), he went on to become famous for his depictions of New York life, not least vaudeville scenes.

Reginald Marsh was born on 14 March 1989 in Paris. His father, a muralist, and his mother, a miniaturist painter, were both well-off Americans. They returned to the US, to Nutley, New Jersey, when Reginald was two years old. He attended Lawrenceville School, and he graduated from Yale University in 1920. On moving to New York in search of free lance illustration work, he was employed to sketch performers for the New York Daily News. He also began taken classes at the Art Students League of New York, where the Ashcan painter John Sloan was one of his teachers (see also Make the draperies move). In 1923, Marsh married fellow student Betty Burroughs (who went on to become a sculptor).

Marsh was one of the first cartoonists taken on by The New Yorker which launched in 1925, and he remained a contributor for nearly 20 years. Also in 1925, he travelled to Paris and was much inspired by the Old Masters and Renaissance painting principles. From the early 1930s, he became well known for his paintings of New York - especially of vaudeville shows, the burlesque stage, street life in the Bowery district, and Coney Island scenes - which often displayed a sense of gritty social realism, somewhat at odds with his affluent background. Among his most important paintings are Why Not Use the “L”? (1930), Tattoo and Haircut (1932), and Twenty-cent Movie (1936). In 1935, he decorated in fresco the Post Office Building in Washington, D. C., and the Custom House in New York City. Around this time, he divorced Burroughs and married Felicia Meyer, a landscape painter.

During the 1940s, Marsh became a teacher at the Art Students League of New York (one of his students being Roy Lichtenstein), and he began drawing for magazines such as Esquire and Life. He was awarded the Gold Medal for Graphic Arts by the American Academy and the National Institute for Arts and Letters. He died, shortly after, in 1954, struck down by a heart attack. There seem to be no published biographies of Marsh, and there is not a wealth of information about him online either - but Wikipedia has a substantial article, and there are short entries at the Smithsonian American Art Museum website, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and

Marsh kept a variety of notebooks and diaries throughout his life, although most of these are sketch books or appointment diaries, not personal journals. A comprehensive listing of his diaries can be found in the finding aid compiled by Jennifer Meehan for the Archives of American Art (the largest collection of primary resources documenting the history of the visual arts in the US, housed in the Smithsonian Institute). The finding aid says this about the diaries:

Marsh’s adolescent diaries date from 1912 to 1913 and from 1916. The 1912 diary is the most complete, with daily entries for the entire year. The 1913 and 1916 diaries are composed of almost daily entries for the months of January and February, but are blank for the remaining months of each year. Adolescent diaries primarily record Marsh’s daily outdoor activities (such as skating, sledding, and coasting in the winter, and playing tennis and swimming in the summer) with friends including Lloyd Goodrich, the day’s weather, his studies, illnesses, and outings to the theater (to see movies and vaudeville shows). Diaries also allude to his artistic activities, such as painting and drawing a weekly cartoon for The Nutley Bulletin, and include some illustrations and sketches.

Marsh’s art work diaries date from 1929 to 1933. Each diary consists of an “index” of the art work referred to therein, including title, date, and page numbers for relevant entries, and dated entries, comprising notes about the particular art work on which he worked that day. His notes typically include information about dimensions, methods and techniques used, time worked, what was drawn, and/or what prints were made. These diaries document the work he carried out, as well as the way in which he worked, on his paintings and prints during this time period. Similar notes for the time period from 1935 to 1944 can be found in the art notebooks.

Marsh’s engagement diaries, dating from 1935 to 1954, and desk calendars, dating from 1931 to 1934, seem to have been used to keep track of and record his daily events and activities. Rather than typical diary entries, these comprise daily, weekly, and/or monthly calendars with brief notes on the events and activities of any given day, including meetings, classes, appointments, dinners, outings, and trips. In general, engagement diaries provide a sense of the range of artistic activities in which Marsh was involved, his interactions and associations with other artists, and the time he spent involved in teaching and other art-related endeavors. Of particular note, the “Little Red Book” diary from 1937 records Marsh’s work on the mural for the New York Customs House; the one from 1938 records his work on drawings for the book, Sister Carrie; and the one from 1943 records his trip to Brazil as an artist correspondent, which included a broken arm and time spent in hospital.

In 2006, Archives of American Art scanned the bulk of Marsh’s paper, including eight diary-like books, for the years 1912, 1913, 1916, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1933, and images of all these are available online. But, as described in the finding aid, it is only the 1912 book that comes close to being a full journal, albeit an adolescent one, and one with many little sketches that already show a precocious talent. The 1912 journal has been fully digitised recently, and is now available online as a pdf. Here are a few extracts.

8 January 1912
‘At 2.30 in the afternoon I went back to school for a physical examination. I am 4 ft 9 1/2 inches high and weigh 82 1/2 lbs. It began to snow and it kept up all the afternoon maybe all night. I bought a hockey stick for 25¢ over at Ciccone’s and I burned my name on it. I got out my sled and hitched on the grocery and had a delivery ride for about 2 hours around town.’

10 January 1912
‘At 2:30 I skated down along the rode to Kingsland’s pond. It was slick as glass and as smooth as glass. I can skate better each time I go. After while quite a big bunch came after a while. The big fellows skated classy all going along hitching on to each other. Prattie came. He can’t skate because he has only skated a few times in his life. My subjects in school are Latin I Algebra I
English I Ancient History I.’

11 January  1912
‘Went coasting up in Nutley Park. All covered with ice. Jut and I went down on my sled. We went about 30 miles an hour. Later Merril Wright and I went over on Nutley Avenune. Starting up at the top the hill and going as far as the Passaic River, a distance of about of a mile. We coasted down there twice and it was great The Passaic r. is all frozen over. I guess it is skatable. After a while Don Blankhorn with his pop gun went up to Wright’s and played pool. Ice is all over the sidewalks and roads. Slippery as the dickens.’

20 January 1912
‘Some swift coasting now in Nutley Park. In the morning I coasted some but not much. In the afternoon Jut and I went over to the resevoir, about a mile from here to skate. It was swell. The weather was warm and the ice was perfect. I can skate better now. Jut bought a hockey stick and we skated up and down the pond played a little hockey and got sore and and sore backs. We skated all the way across the golf course.’

21 January 1912
‘I did’nt go to Sunday School this morning but in the afternoon Jut and I went skating over at the resevoir. It was slick and a big crowd was there skating and looking on. 5 Germans were there skating fancy in circles. A bunch of fellows would “snap the whip” in a long line hanging on to each other. Some boobs about 20 of them took hold of hands and skated along and snapped the whip. I skate better every time I go.’

23 February 1912
‘Jack Wilson came down because he had played hookey from school. We went down to the rain pond which had lowered five inches. It was covered with thin ice. Jack took a sled and coasted on it and went plunging into a hole and cut his hands badly then he ran out. On one part of the pond we walked on with safety when it got weak and awful pompey. Jack went in a lot of places up to his knees in water.’

11 March 1912
‘Back to school and out again. Went on my wheel up to Goodrich’s and was up in Will’s room with Will, Lloyd, and Winton when Jut sneaks me out without notice. We rode down back of the shooting club and got a bunch of pussy willows. We brought them home and then watched the kids playing marbles. I played Jerry and beat him a couple with Jut’s heavy steel ball bearing shooter I used.’

2 April 1912
‘Rainy day. I got a haircut. Nothing doing all the afternoon.’

5 April 1912
‘GOOD FRIDAY I went to New York this morning and bought two Norfolk suits at Rogers Peet. I bought a hat at Mcreery and a five store hunt. I reached home at 2.30 and changed my clothes. It was really hot. I met Jack Wilson and we went down at the brook. I caught a snake and bought 1/2 dozen hot cross buns. We went down to the brook and two little kids jumped in the quick mud. A few kids came around and meanwhile the little kids were jumping in the mud until it had reached their knees.’

26 June 1912
‘I forgot what I did today. There’s a bunch of great strawberries in the field which I partially ate. Lloyd’s painting his skiff lead color.’

29 July 1912
‘Bill came down and helped me a door blue. It rained a little and we went swimming off the float. It cleared up in the afternoon and so I went for a sail with four of the Goodrich’s in the “Aspenet” a sailboat not large. I don’t mean the hole family because there are only 7 without the relatives or ancestors. The Goodrich’s I went with ranged from about 17 to 23 years of age - all girls except Will who sailed the boat. We sailed out in the ocean 3 or 4 miles, got a soaking and when we came back we got stuck letting down the anchor.’

30 July 1912
‘I worked painting nearly all the morning painting things. Afterwards Bill & I went for a swim off the float and we took a swim around. Nothing special doing in the afternoon. Saw a fellow get hit with a rotten egg so he fell in the water and washed it off being in swimming.’

31 July 1912
‘I took an early morning plunge and worked nearly all of the morning. Bill came down and we took a swim off the float and afterwards watched the other kids go off. In the afternoon he and I went to the Commons and watched a ball game between the Little Comptons and the Y.M.C.A.C’s. Little Compton beat 4-3. Afterwards there were athletics out in front of the Methodist Church which was having a fair. There were about 30 kids from the Y.M.C.A.C camp in west port. They had 100 yd dash, high and broad jumping, shot put, potato races etc. Gosh whenever one of the country jakes wanted to make tell when to stop he would holler “Whoa, whoa” as if he were a horse. I guess it was so because they are used to driving them.’

20 August 1912
‘Had an exciting game of croquet. Ralph, Phillip Arnold & I stood Jack and Lloyd and we won. Gee it was great. Afterwards we all went swimming off the float.’

23 August 1912
‘Played part of a round of golf with Winton and did worse and better. Jack won the cup in the Junior tournament. I made a monkey out of a peach stone.

24 August 1912
‘Swim at Warren’s this morning and it was so rough that we couldn’t go off the rocks. I nearly climbed to the top of the water tower down by the pond while Lloyd & Bill were fishing. At 5:30 there was a driving match on the golf course to see who could drive the farthest. I saw it. Bill goes hunting for woodchucks and water birds. I went with him this morning.’

11 September 1912
‘Saw our new house building which we are going to move in soon. I went to the N.R.H.S. for the first day this morning. It is a fine big school and I took French I, Latin II (Caesar), plane geometry and English II. Thunder storm in afternoon.’

22 October 1912
‘Went to Loew’s theatre to-day and it’s allright. They had moving pictures and vaudeville. Gosh the acrobats were swelling fat with muscles and they bounded around like monkeys. They handled each other and themselves as if they only weighed 2 pounds each. 5¢ admission to the peanut gallery and 25¢ a box.’

Saturday, March 10, 2018

La Pérouse at Easter Island

In 1785, the French naval captain, Jean-François de Galaup de La Pérouse, was charged by King Louis XVI to undertake a scientific voyage around the world. After more than two and a half years at sea, the expedition set off from Australia, exactly 230 years ago today, to visit several Pacific islands, soon to be homeward bound - but the vessels and crew were never seen again. However, prior to departing, La Pérouse, who was a conscientious journal keeper, had dispatched his journals and letters with a British vessel returning to Europe. His papers eventually found their way back to Paris, where they were soon published in the original French, and then translated into English.

Jean François de Galaup was born in 1741 in Albi, in southern France, (though his father later added ‘
de La Pérouse’ to their name after some land he owned). He was educated at the local Jesuit college, and then entered the naval college in Brest. He fought in the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). For a while, he was stationed at Isle of France (now Mauritius) where he met his future wife, Eleonore Broudou. Around 1780, he was promoted to commodore; he gained naval successes off the Canadian coast at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, in 1781, and Hudson’s Bay in 1782.

La Pérouse was chosen by Louis XVI and by the Secretary of State of the Navy, the Marquis de Castries, to lead a major scientific and geographic exploration around the world. With two frigates La Boussole and L’Astrolabe he left Brest in August 1785. His journey took him to Brazil, Chile, the Sandwich Islands, Alaska, California, Macao, the Philippines, Korea, Japan, and Siberia. Thereafter, the expedition sailed to the southern Pacific. Some of the crew were killed on the Samoa Islands, but the expedition made it to Botany Bay in Australia. Setting sail once more for New Caledonia and other Pacific islands on 10 March 1788, La Pérouse and all his crew were never heard of again. It seems, from evidence collected later, that they were killed on one of the Santa Cruz islands.

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography has this assessment of the man: ‘La Pérouse is representative of the most accomplished of the 18th-century sailors. An excellent navigator, a brilliant combatant, a humane leader with a mind open to all the sciences of his time, he was always able to combine to advantage prudence and audacity, experience and theory. As resourceful as he was indefatigable, as amiable as he was firm, he had a talent for making everyone like him.’ Further information is also available from Wikipedia, Spartacus or Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Throughout his voyage, starting in 1785, La Pérouse kept a journal. Fortuitously, while in Australia, he dispatched his journals, charts and letters in a British naval vessel heading back to Europe, and they were eventually brought to Paris. They were edited by M. L. A. Milet-Mureau in three volumes and published in 1797 in their original French language. This was translated into English the following year for publication as Voyage Round the World in the years 1785, 1786, 1787 and 1788 (and is freely available at Internet Archive). Much more recently, John Dunmore, a New Zealand-born historian and writer, has sought out the original papers, for a new two-volume edition published in 1994 by The Hakluyt Society as The Journal of Jean-François De Galaup de la Pérouse (reprinted by Routledge in 2011 - and on sale for £115!)

Dunmore records, in his preface, how he had some difficulty in tracking down La Pérouse’s manuscripts, but he also discusses why he persevered: ‘An expedition of such importance deserved recognition in the form of an annotated edition. James Cook had received the painstaking and devoted attention of J. C. Beaglehole, Bougainville’s journal was about to appear in a fine commemorative edition, Surville’s and J. R. Forster’s journals would soon follow: La Perouse could hardly be ignored. There was, of course, Milet-Mureau’s official publication of 1797, but there was no way to compare it with La Pérouse’s own writings. Even if Milet-Mureau had not taken the kind of liberties with the content and style that Hawkesworth had taken with Cook’s original journal, there was a dearth of acceptable footnotes. Milet-Mureau was neither a naval man nor a geographer; he was an army officer who had accepted the task of getting the manuscript ready for publication after several others, more qualified than him, had turned it down. He did his best, and the result was a credit to him, but his own style and indeed his own conclusions and preconceptions were everywhere apparent.’

And here is the beginning of La Pérouse’s own preface (as translated by Dunmore) in which he explains why he decided to keep a diary himself rather than delegate the task: ‘I could have entrusted the writing of my journal to a man of letters. It would have been in a purer style and sprinkled with reflections which would never have occurred to me; but that would have meant presenting oneself behind a mask, and one’s natural features, whatever they might be, seemed preferable. I have on several occasions regretted, on reading accounts of Captain Cook’s last two voyages, that he had borrowed another man’s pen for his first narrative. His descriptions of the customs, practices and art of various peoples left nothing to be desired, and the details of his navigation have always provided me with the enlightenment which I was seeking in order to guide my own: such advantages no editor can retain, and often the word which he sacrifices in order to create a more harmonious sentence is the one which a navigator would have preferred to all the rest.

Anyhow one cannot be attracted by such works without, at times, wishing to be in the traveller’s shoes, but at each line one meets only his shadow; and the actor who takes his place, although no doubt more elegant and more stylish, is an imperfect substitute. His various chapters were not written as the voyage proceeded; the outline of his navigation is evenly presented, although inevitably, being so vast and covering both hemispheres, it had undergone a thousand changes. His reflections lack the variations that arise out of the slightest events. In the end the man of letters shoulders aside the voyager, so to speak, and should he have his own preconceptions he will select from the journal only those facts which are likely to justify them. It was to avoid this danger that I refused all outside assistance.’

Here is one long extract from La Pérouse’s journal, early on in the expedition when he first sights Easter Island (taken from Dunmore’s edition, but for comparison see volume I of Milet-Mureau’s edition, page 527).

8-9 April 1786
‘On 8 April at 2 p.m. I saw Easter Island bearing from me W. 5d S. distant 12 leagues. The sea was very rough, the winds N. They had not been steady for four days, shifting from N. to S. by W. I do not believe that the proximity of a small island was the cause of these changes, and it is likely that the trade winds are not constant at this time of year in 27d. The headland in view was the E. point. I was on the exact spot where Captain Davis had come upon an sandy island and twelve leagues further on a land lying W. which Captain Cook and Mr Dalrimple believed was Easter Island rediscovered in 1722 by Roggewin, but these two sailors, although very well informed, did not sufficiently analyse what Waffer reported: he says (page 300 of the Rouen edition) that Captain Davis, leaving from the Galapagos with the intention of returning to Europe by way of Cape Horn and of putting in only at Juan Fernandez, felt a terrible blow in 12d of southern latitude and thought he had struck a rock; he had constantly kept to a southerly route and believed himself to be 120 leagues from the American continent; he later learnt that there had been an earthquake in Lima at the same moment. Having overcome his fear, he kept on S. to S.1/4S.E. and S.E. until he reached 27d 20’ and reports that at 2 a.m. a sound like a sea breaking on the shore was heard from ahead of the vessel; he hove to until morning and saw a small sandy island with no rocks around it; he came up to within a quarter mile of it and saw further off, 12 leagues to the W., a large land which was taken for a group of islands on account of breaks along it. Davis did not survey it and continued on his way to Juan Fernandez, but Waffer states that this small sandy island is 500 Ls from Copiago and 600 from the Galapagos. It has not been sufficiently pointed out that this result is impossible: if Davis, being in 12d of southern latitude and 150 Ls from the American coast, sailed S.S.E. as Waffer states, and obviously this buccaneer sailed with the E. winds which are very frequent in those waters, and taking into account his intention to going to Juan Fernandez island, there can be no doubt, as the Abbe Pingré has already indicated, that Dampierre’s calculations were wrong and that Davis Land, instead of being 500 Ls from Copiago, is only 200 leagues. It is therefore likely that Davis’s two islands are those of San Ambrosio and San Felix, a little further N. than Copiago; but the buccaneers’ pilots were not fussy and worked out their latitudes roughly to the nearest 30 or 40’. I would have spared my readers this little geography lesson if I had not had to oppose the views of two men deservedly famous; I must say however that Captain Cook was still unsure and says that if he had had time he would have solved the problem by sailing E. of Easter Island. As I covered 300 Ls along this parallel and saw no sandy island I think that no doubt should now remain and the question seems to me to be finally settled.

I sailed along the coast of Easter Island at a distance of 3 leagues during the night of 8 to 9 April. The sky was clear and in less than 3 hours the winds had veered from N. to S.E. At daybreak I made for Cook’s Bay - that is the one where one is best sheltered from the N. to S. by E. winds. It is only open to the W. winds and I had hopes that they would not blow for several days. At 11 a.m. I was only a league from this anchorage; the Astrolabe had already dropped anchor. I anchored quite close to that frigate, but the undertow was so strong that our anchors did not hold and we were forced to raise them and tack a couple of times to regain the anchorage.

This setback in no way lessened the natives’ enthusiasm. They swam behind us up a league offshore, and climbed aboard with a cheerfulness and a feeling of security which gave me the most favourable opinion of their character. A more suspicious people might have feared, when we set sail, to see itself torn from its relatives and carried away far from home, but the thought of such perfidy did not even seem to occur to them. They went about in our midst, naked and with no weapons, a mere string around the waist with a bunch of herbs to hide their natural parts.

Mr Hodgés, the painter who had accompanied Captain Cook on his second voyage, has very inadequately [sic] reproduced their features. Generally speaking they are pleasing, but they vary a great deal, and do not have, like those of Malays, Chinese or Chileans, a character of its own. I made them various gifts. They preferred pieces of printed cloth, half an ell in size, to nails, knives or beads, but they greatly prized the hats of which we had too few to give to more than a very few. At 8 p.m. I took my leave of my new guests, making them understand by signs that I would be going ashore at dawn. They returned to their canoes, dancing, and jumped into the sea when within two musket shots from the shore over which the sea was breaking strongly; they had taken the precaution of making small parcels with my gifts, and each one had placed his on his head to protect it from the water.’

The Diary Junction

Friday, March 9, 2018

Wedekind’s erotic life

‘[Katya]’s wearing a brand new silk dress from the Louvre that’s too short for her and hence fastened up with a hundred pins. The opening is even sewn askew. I demolish the entire contraption and dump her into bed. In spite of the good supper with champagne, I can’t manage more than a couple of tributes: her confounded practice of refusing to take off her underclothes may be to blame for that.’ This is from the diaries of Frank Wedekind, a German playwright, a libertarian and forerunner of the Expressionism movement, who died a century ago today. Not well known in the English-speaking world, a few of his plays have been translated and published recently, and his Diary of an Erotic Life was published in 1990.

Benjamin Franklin (Frank) Wedekind was born in 1864 in Hannover to a Swiss actress mother and a German father twice her age. He grew up in his father’s Swiss castle, one of six children. He started work at 19, having dropped out of university, first as a journalist, then as a press agent, and then as a private secretary travelling extensively in France and England. By the mid-1890s, he had become an actor of sorts, giving public readings, in Switzerland, of Ibsen plays. A year or two later, he became political editor of Simplicissimus, a German satirical magazine. There followed a period in which he joined a touring company, producing and acting plays (also often Ibsen) through northern Germany, before he took on a similar role for the state theatre company in Munich at the Schauspielhaus.

By the 1890s, Wedekind, settled in Munich, was also writing his own material. First came Frühlings Erwachen in 1891 with such strong sexual content it was banned in Germany. (A hundred or so years later it was successful adapted into a Broadway rock musical, Spring Awakening.) The so-called Lulu plays would become his best known works: Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box, 1904). Most of his plays continued to challenge the prevailing bourgeois attitudes, particularly towards sex, sometimes causing scandal. Indeed, at one point earlier in his life he had served a short term in prison as a result of a lèse-majesté prosecution against Simplicissimus (Kaiser Wilhelm II had objected to an article by Wedekind). Apart from plays, Wedekind also composed (and performed) many Brettl-Lieder (cabaret songs).

Wedekind’s private life, 
associating with bohemian artists and political activists, was notoriously as libertarian as his writing. He enjoyed numerous relationships, and often visited prostitutes. He had an affair with the Austrian writer, Frida Uhl, who bore him a child in 1897 (she was already mother to one child by the playwright Auguste Strindberg). And he had another illegitimate child with his housemaid Hildegard Zellner. But, in 1906, he married an Austrian actress Tilly Newes, half his age, with whom he had two children. Their relationship was reportedly faithful though tempestuous. Wedekind died relatively young, from post-surgery complications, on 9 March 1918. Although much forgotten in the English-speaking world during the 20th century, he is back in print, perhaps because of the success of Spring Awakening. See Bloomsbury Publishing for translated plays currently available. For further biographical information see Wikipedia,, Spartacus, and Samuel A. Eliot’s introduction to his translation of four Wedekind’s plays - Tragedies of Sex (freely available at Internet Archive).

Eliot gives this assessment of Wedekind’s influence: ‘Though he died in March, 1918, he had incorporated in many a play before then both the sensational content and the free, direct, spasmodic form which German literature, especially German drama, was to show in the post-War turmoil and distress. Georg Kaiser and the other Expressionists so prized to-day can make no secret of their debt to him, and the wild rush they represent and play to - to contemplate man’s lowest impulses, the roots of will and feeling, the instincts, not the ideals that actuate confused and drifting peoples, and having studied them in crude, disordered life to set them down in baldest, swiftest speech, in rank but penetrating truth - this rush that is observed in all the Continental countries but most among the Germans did there alone possess a guide and prophet in the dead author, analyzer, wry and bitter thinker, Wedekind.’

Wedekind kept a diary at different times in his life, and surviving manuscripts were put together and edited by Gerhard Hay, and published in German for the first time in 1986. This work was translated into English by W. E. Quill and published by Basil Blackwell Ltd in 1990 as Diary of an Erotic Life. For the most part, Quill says in his preface, the original German publication includes ‘practically everything that survives in the way of Wedekind’s diaries and personal notebooks’. Some of these texts, he explains, had been published but many had not, and were only released by Wedekind’s daughter Frau Kadidja Wedekind-Biel in 1986. ‘The surviving diaries - whether in print or in manuscript - are discontinuous and at times fragmentary, but they do have a kind of fortuitous continuity as a series of mirrors reflecting the phases of the author’s development from the juvenile erotic skirmishes and fantasies of Lenzburg, through his years in Berlin and Munich, where he seems to have hovered diffidently on the brink of sexual adventure, to his time in Paris, where he celebrated his sexual coming of age.’

More from Quill’s preface: ‘Wedekind’s Diaries may perhaps best be left to speak for themselves: they are a plain record of a life largely devoted to social intercourse. It is indeed remarkable how unliterary they are as compared with the diaries of most professional writers. Wedekind very rarely writes about his current literary preoccupations in any detail. As he himself points out, the diaries had a kind of clinical function as a record of his responses to everyday experiences. They were intended to be a self-portrait, and this they certainly are to an almost embarrassing degree, portraying their author, piles, gumboils, false teeth and all. Given the emotive nature of many of the incidents described, they are remarkably dispassionate and objective. [. . .] Apart from recording Wedekind’s emotional and intellectual responses, the diaries seem to have served another purpose: the careful recording of social environment and behaviour, particularly evident in the graphic descriptions of cafe society in Munich, Berlin and Paris.’

I have not been able to track down any samples or extracts of Diary of an Erotic Life online, and the starting price for second hand copies is quite high, in the region of £50 - see Abebooks. One review - with quotes - can be found at The New York Times (the reviewer believes ‘the diary is full of detailedly, intimately, multifariously welcoming passages, far better than anything in Henry Miller or Frank Harris’). Here, though, are a few extracts from the 1990 print edition.

17 February 1887
‘I go to see Wilhelmine between two and three. Her sister is at home. When she goes off to her Women’s Guild at last, we are both glad to watch from the window as she departs. There are folk you prefer to see from behind rather than from in front, who cause you pain when you see them from the front, and pleasure when you see them from the back. I explain to Wilhelmine that this is the basis of Greek love. She cannot understand how a mind like mine which aspired towards the ultimate extreme could even reflect on such a serious matter. Then we talk about top-hats. If I ever want to cool her ardour, then I need only come to her wearing a top-hat. We would get married in an artist’s slouch hat, and divorced in a top-hat. As we part she begs me, if I have the smallest spark of feeling for her, to write her a poem by tomorrow. We intended to go to Aarau, and I should read it to her in the railway carriage. Gretchen comes for her piano lesson. Wilhelmine pushes me into the next room without a word and strangles me, so that I turn red and blue, then she returns with the maternal composure of a Madonna to the music-room, while I slink out of the house on tiptoe.

After supper I hunt through all my poems but can’t find anything suitable. I lie down full-length on the divan, but don’t manage to concentrate my thoughts on her. I fall asleep.’

3 May 1892
‘Sign my power of attorney at the Swiss Consulate, where Dr Stumm stamps me as a Swiss. Write to Mama. Dine with Katja and Weinhöppel, and discuss the Ballet Roquanedin at the Eden Theatre with him. Until two in the Pont Neuf, where we drink Baron Habermann’s health in Americain. Then I take the pair of them to an all-night cafe in the Halles, where Katja gets totally drunk. She refuses to take my arm, and I leave her to Weinhoppel, who trots out triumphantly with her into the Rue Montmartre. I keep out of sight and follow them about a hundred paces to the rear. Weinhoppel at last asks a passer-by, who directs him in the opposite direction. So they contrive to make their way over the Pont Neuf, which is just beginning to emerge in the first light of dawn, and get into the Boulevard St Germain, where they once more lose the track. They set out towards the Bastille. On the Boulevard St Michel they ask their way again and turn back the way they came. As they pass me, Katja asks me for her key. At the Eglise St Germain-des-Prés they lose their bearings once more and wait for me. I cross to the opposite pavement, they pursue me. I take refuge in a urinal and make them wait ages for me. Katja leans against a tree and starts crying. Finally they start walking round and round the urinal, come to the conclusion that I’m no longer inside, and set off again in search of the Rue Bonaparte. After wandering round for ages they return to my urinal, where I stick my umbrella out under the screen. They’ve finally found the right way. I once again follow them at a distance of a hundred yards, until Katja disappears in the entrance to the Hotel St Georges. Weinhoppel then comes up to my room. I go to bed about six.’

22 May 1892
‘I wait for Katja in a cafe. We take a cab to St Cloud, sit down in front of the restaurant, and drink until it’s time to go back. We dine together at Marguerite’s and then drive back to my room at one o’clock, where I invite her to get into bed. She’s wearing a brand new silk dress from the Louvre that’s too short for her and hence fastened up with a hundred pins. The opening is even sewn askew. I demolish the entire contraption and dump her into bed. In spite of the good supper with champagne, I can’t manage more than a couple of tributes: her confounded practice of refusing to take off her underclothes may be to blame for that. I don’t care in the least for her caresses. Her lips are flabby and she slobbers all over my face. I keep on pouring cognac into her, and the powerful aroma comes back at me. Elle me veut tailler une . . . , mais elle me mord les testicles que je crie par douleur. At the same time she keeps on making such clumsy attempts to address me in the familiar form that I simply can’t bring myself to reply in the same terms. Between four and five, in broad daylight, I take her home, and go to bed about seven.’

17 July 1892
‘I get up at nine o’clock and have just got dressed when there’s a knock. I draw the curtains in front of the alcove and ask Herr Weintraub to come in. He asks for 45 francs for copying the manuscript and spends an hour telling me how badly off he is. We read Hebrew together, and I serve him a schnaps. After he’s gone, I get back into bed with Rachel. We get up about four and go to lunch. She would simply love to go bathing with me in Chernetre, but I’m too lazy. We part after coffee.’

27 July 1892
‘Fetch Rachel from the Café d’Harcourt. She gets completely undressed in my room, apart from her vest, a diaphanous pink petticoat and her black stockings. In this outfit, with her hair let down and holding her black fan, she wallows around on my sofa between my guitar, my various fat lexicons and a couple of shapeless hessian cushions. She takes up one delicious pose after another, at the same time sucking down to the last drop a lemon which happened to be lying on the table. The lemon inspires her - and me as well - with lascivious ideas. After we’ve got into bed she sucks me off, which I can’t stand for long, as I find it drives me to utter distraction. The next morning she tells me she had dreamt about her mother all night. She had desperately wanted to suck her mother’s cunt. At first her mother wouldn’t let her, but then she had consented, and it had been so sweet, so sweet.’

25 January 1894
‘I go to the National Gallery and am furiously annoyed by the glass over all the pictures. After lunch I get on the Underground at Charing Cross and travel to the Tower, look round the museum, the most boring and tasteless I have ever seen, travel under the Thames via London Bridge and come back home through the underworld, dine at seven o’clock and take the omnibus to the London Pavilion. Apart from a couple of authentic English children, I find nothing new and very little that’s congenial. I spend some time in a bar amid a pack of frightful whores, and go to bed at twelve o’clock.’

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

I distrust the miller

‘I was at the mill and had 2 measures of wheat ground in my presence to see the result, because I distrust the miller.’ This is from the rich and colourful diary of Gilles de Gouberville, a squire in 16th century northern France who died 430 years ago today. He would have been long forgotten but for his diary which lay undiscovered for more than three centuries. Since its first publication in the 1870s, de Gouberville’s journal has been much studied by historians of old (pre-revolutionary) France. There have been no translations into English, but Katherine Fedden, an American novelist and translator, used it as the basis for her Manor Life in Old France.

Gilles Picot was born in 1521, the eldest son in a large family. His father was squire of Gouberville and Le Mesnil-au-Val, estates in the Cotentin (or Cherbourg) Peninsula of Normandy. Gilles took over administration of the estates in 1542, and, when his father died two years later, he became the squire. He never married, but he headed a household of more than a dozen, including servants, which was run domestically by his sister Guillemette, one of his father’s five illegitimate children. He died on 7 March 1578.

There is little further general information about Gilles de Gouberville - see Wikipedia or the website established by Le Comité Gilles de Gouberville - but there is a wealth of detail about his daily life for 13 years (1549-1562) thanks to surviving diary manuscripts. Journals for 1553-1562 were found by Abbé Tollemer in 1867, and published in the early 1870s as Journal Manuscrit d’un Sire de Gouberville et du Mesnil-au-Var, and then more simply as Le Journal du Sire de Gouberville - these editions (in French) can be read freely online at Gallica or at Internet Archive (bizarrely in two parts separated mid-sentence - see part one, two). A few years later, further journals were found and published as Journal de Gilles de Gouberville pour les années 1549, 1550, 1551, 1552. This is also available to read at Internet Archive. The journal has its own Wikimanche file (in French) with an excellent bibliography.

Although there has never been any English translation of de Gouberville’s journals, much about them, along with some quotes, can be found at the excellent World of Gilles de Gouberville website put together by Le Comité Gilles de Gouberville (which is also preparing a revised edition of the journal to publish online). It says: ‘The interest of his daily recordings lies in the meticulous description of his day-to-day life. His Journal allows us to study various aspects of the old regime (pre-revolutionary France) such as working in the fields, village sociability or the rural mentality in the Cotentin of the 16th century. Ever since it was first published at the end of the 19th century, Gille de Gouberville’s Journal has constantly been studied by historians who consider this “book of reason” as the most complete of its kind.’

An abundant selection of extracts from the journal translated into English can be found in Katherine Fedden’s Manor Life in Old France (Columbia University Press, 1933 - available at Internet Archive). Indeed, Fedden, an American novelist who went to live in France, has sub-titled her book From the Journal of the Sire de Gouberville for the Years 1549-1562. In her introduction she gives a brief description of the journal: ‘It belongs in the category of what are known in France as livres de raison; daybook best expresses it in English. It is something more than a journal, more than a book of accounts, a combination of the two; a family register in which the head of the house carefully noted the investment of his substance, the dates and details of all bargains and contracts, the facts of births, marriages and deaths, as well as the trivial events of the daily round. Such a family register is a complete evocation of a past day. Here are reflected the joys and sorrows of a household; here, too, is a faithful record of the material side of life.’

Fedden divides up her social history into topics - such as friend and neighbours, money and food, sport and recreation, wine and cider, hunting, sowing and reaping, etc. - and liberally sprinkles her text with translations of journal extracts, most of them usefully dated. However, the extracts are all snipped to suit the purpose of her chapter, and so it is not possible - at least without reference to the French original - to get a feel for the flow of content in the diary or the diarist’s daily routines across a week or month for example. Here, though, are several extracts as found in Fedden’s book (re-arranged into chronological order).

14 January 1552
‘Tonight, about eleven o’clock, I sent Francois Doisnard to my cousin de Brillevast and to Captain du Téil, with letters asking them to come to our aid for the choule [ball game] at Saint-Mor, tomorrow. I asked them to send me an answer before mass in the morning.’

15 January 1552
‘Saint Mor’s Day - Before I was up, Quinéville Groult and Ozouville, soldiers from the fort at Omonville, arrived here coming from Valognes. We breakfasted all together, then went to Saint-Mor, they, Cantepye, Symonnet, Moisson, Lajoye, Gaultier Birette and several others. We arrived there while they were saying mass, which said, Maitre Robert Potet threw the ball and the game went on till an hour before sunset and led us as far as Bretteville, where Gratian Cabart got it and won. In my party were my cousin de Raffoville, my cousin de Brillevast, Maître Guillaume Vasrel, de Reville, Captain Téil, Nicolas Gohel, Bouffart d’Orglandes and several others; and among our adversaries, Leparc, Arteney, Guillaume Cabart and their band as well as a few from Cherbourg. On our way back Cantepye stopped to supper with Jacques Cabart, because he had been into the sea after the ball and was very wet and changed his clothes at Rouxel’s at Bretteville. Passing by Cosmes du Bosc’s - Symonnet, Le Leurron, Moisson, Lajoye who led my horse, Nicolas Drouet, Jehan Groult, Lorimier and others - we stopped and had 4 pots of very good cider, 4 sols. It was dark when we got here.’

25 January 1553
‘Before I got up, Thomas Drouet came to invite me to his wife’s relevallies. I did not go, as I was expecting several people to dinner. After supper, Cantepye, Symonnet and Jehan Drouet, went there to porter le momon and stayed till midnight and Maître François was so drunk that he was covered with mud when he returned. Francois Drouet and Jehan Drouet put him to bed. Gaultier Birette had supper there and came back very gay. Jehan Groult remained, as he had drunk so much that he could neither speak nor walk. I went the next day to Drouet’s, as Jehan Groult was still there.’

14 April 1553
‘Symonnet and Morisseau went shooting and got a hare. It was dark when they returned and they said that they had heard Helquin the Huntsman in the old wood.’

19 July 1553
‘After holding court, I went to the Cordeliers, Cantepye with me, to get some pinks to make the Eau de Damas. Maistre Jehan Poulain gave me some calamus aromaticus (yellow iris) and Florentine iris (white iris) to add to the water.’

16 January 1554
‘Sent Lajoye to Tocqueville to fetch Martin Birette to choose millstones for my mill at Mesnil.’

24 September 1554
‘As some of my people were returning from La Boussaye, they found a young deer dead in the bushes. They had lost their way and were off the road. It had been killed yesterday by a crossbow. It was a four-year-old.’

16 November 1554
‘I was at the mill and had 2 measures of wheat ground in my presence to see the result, because I distrust the miller.’

9 December 1554
‘The boys here going in the evening to the Vallee du Grand Jardin had a greyhound with them, which took a young boar. When it was brought in and dried, I weighed it - a little more than 30 pounds.’

1 July 1555
‘Today, began to make the rose water and the pommade.’

4 October 1555
‘Symonnet took to the tax receiver a quarter of venison of a boar, which the boys took with the greyhounds in the big garden where it came to eat the apples.’

11 February 1556
’Symonnet went to the house of my godson de Raffoville and brought me the news that he is back from sea, where he has been for a month, and that he has taken prizes valued at 200,000 ducats and that he will be here to see me tomorrow.’

22 August 1558
‘As I was with my mowers, Chandeleur’s wife passed, coming here. She told me of the sorrow and trouble she had had over the body of her husband; she spent the night beside him where he fell, because the neighbors did not dare help her through fear of Le Parmentier and his son.’

11 December 1559
‘Sent 5 measures of barley and 2 of wheat to the mill and was at the mill until all the grain was ground.’

28 December 1560
‘Arnould went to Valognes to fetch the skins to make the boots for Symonnet and me. He brought back with him a young man named Nicollas from Lagarde, the shoemaker, to cut out the boots from the skins.

29 December 1560
‘Pinchon to Valognes to take the boots, the mules and the slippers that Lagarde’s man cut out yesterday.’

30 December 1560
‘[Pinchon] to take the Indian leather to make the soles of my boots, mules and slippers. . . . Sunday, jour des Rois, before I went to mass, servants arrived from Lagarde at Valognes, bringing me my boots, mules and slippers made from the leather I had given them. For red leather for the tops of my boots and for cork for the mules and slippers and for the making: 28 sols and 5 sols that I gave them for wine.’

10 July 1561
‘I bought from Grandin, lace for my shirts, and soap. . . .

10 August 1561
‘After lunch at Coutances, I counted what I had spent. I bought a comb, 2 sols; a pair of gloves, 12 sols. . .’

The Diary Junction

Monday, March 5, 2018

Dining at the Pavilion

Today marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Creevey, an English lawyer and politician who hobnobbed frequently with the Prince of Wales (before he became Prince Regent and then King George IV) in his Brighton Pavilion. He was an avid letter writer and diary keeper; although much of his diary was lost soon after his death, the parts that survived were published along with his letters as The Creevey Papers. Most of the following article is taken from my book Brighton in Diaries (History Press, 2011).

Creevey was born in Liverpool on 5 March 1768. His father died soon after the birth and his mother married again. He studied at Queens’ College, Cambridge, and then trained as a lawyer, but rose rapidly in the exclusive society of the Whig Party. In 1802, he married Eleanor Ord, a relation of Charles Grey, the future Prime Minister, and a rich widow with five children. The same year, he became a Whig MP in the House of Commons, and within a few years had been appointed Secretary to the Board of Control.

When, in 1811, the Prince of Wales became Prince Regent, the Whigs, including Creevey, were expecting him to favour them with government positions, but were much disappointed when he chose to retain the Tories appointed by his father. Creevey, who had been an enthusiastic visitor to the Prince’s table in Brighton, then ceased to be an intimate of the Royal. Increasingly, also, Creevey found himself at odds with the Whig leadership. When he stood as an MP for his home city Liverpool in 1812, he lost the election. To make matters worse, he was found guilty in a libel case, and consequently suffered heavy legal debts when trying to appeal.

The Creeveys moved to Brussels for five years, between 1814 and 1819, where Creevey came to know Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, and to be the first civilian to interview him after the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. It was Creevey who recorded the Duke’s famous quote about the battle - ‘It has been a damned nice thing - the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life’.

In 1818, Creevey’s wife Eleanor died, and soon after he finally returned to England with his stepdaughters. He served in Parliament again, as MP for Appleby in the first half of the 1820s, but became less interested in political affairs, and more concerned with society and gossip. Prime Minister Grey, though, made him Treasurer of the Ordnance in 1830, and then Lord Melbourne made him treasurer of Greenwich Hospital in 1834. He died in 1838, having had no children of his own, and having lived the last decades of his life a relatively poor man. Further information is available online at Wikipedia, History of Parliament, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log-in required)

Charles Cavendish Greville, one of the best 19th century diarists (see The King’s bathing habits), wrote of him thus in 1829: ‘Old Creevey is rather an extraordinary character. [. . .] He possesses nothing but his clothes; no property of any sort; he leads a vagrant life, visiting a number of people who are delighted to have him, and sometimes roving about to various places, as fancy happens to direct, and staying till he has spent what money he has in his pocket. He has no servant, no home, no creditors; he buys everything as he wants it at the place he is at; he has no ties upon him, and has his time entirely at his own disposal and that of his friends. He is certainly a living proof that a man may be perfectly happy and exceedingly poor, or rather without riches, for he suffers none of the privations of poverty and enjoys many of the advantages of wealth. I think he is the only man I know in society who possesses nothing.’

Creevey is mostly remembered today for his letters and to a lesser extent his diary both of which provide a colourful and accurate source of information about politicians and royalty of the day. They were collected and edited by Sir Herbert Maxwell and published (two volumes) in 1903 by John Murray as The Creevey Papers - A Selection from the Correspondence & Diaries of the Late Thomas Creevey, MP. Both volume I and volume II are freely available at Internet Archive. Creevey had ‘an acute eye for absurdity’, says the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and is very good at describing the surface of events and places. However, it adds, he is incurious about the underlying processes shaping them; and it is a cartoonist’s talent, he has, sharp, but not deep or lasting.

Unfortunately, most of Creevey’s extensive diary was lost, possibly destroyed by his friends wanting to suppress the contents. Greville, again, explains how after Creevey’s death, some thought the publication of the journal and letters would be ‘painful and embarrassing to many people now alive, and make very inconvenient and premature revelations upon private and confidential matters’. Thus, though there are some diary entries in The Creevey Papers, the bulk of the book is made up of Creevey’s letters and Maxwell’s biographical commentary.

Here are a few of those diary entries, all taken from 1811 when Creevey was to be found often at the Pavilion in Brighton, still friends with the newly-empowered Prince Regent.

30 October 1811
‘Brighton. The Prince Regent came here last night with the Duke of Cumberland and Lord Yarmouth. Everybody has been writing their names at the Pavilion this morning, but I don’t hear of anybody dining there to-day. . . I presume we shall be asked there, altho’ I went to town on purpose to vote against his appointment of his brother the Duke of York to the Commandership-in-Chief of the Army.’

31 October 1811
‘We have got an invitation from the Regent for to-night and are going. I learn from Sir Philip Francis, who dined there yesterday, the Prince was very gay. . . There were twenty at dinner - no politicks - but still Francis says he thinks, from the language of the equerries and understrappers, that the campaign in Portugal and Lord Wellington begin to be out of fashion with the Regent. I think so too, from a conversation I had with one of the Gyps to-day - [Sit William] Congreve, author of the rocketts, and who is going, they say, to have a Rockett Corps. He affects to sneer rather at Wellington’s military talents. The said Congreve was at the same school with me at Hackney, and afterwards at Cambridge with me; after that, a brother lawyer with me at Gray’s Inn. Then he became an editor of a newspaper . . . written in favour of Lord Sidmouth’s administration, till he had a libel in his paper against Admiral Berkeley, for which he was prosecuted and fined £1,000. Then he took to inventing rocketts for the more effectual destruction of mankind, for which he became patronised by the Prince of Wales, and here he is - a perfect Field Marshall in appearance. About 12 years ago he wrote to me to enquire the character of a mistress who had lived with me some time before, which said mistress he took upon my recommendation, and she lives with him now, and was, when I knew her, cleverer than all the equerries and their Master put together.’

1 November 1811
‘We were at the Pavilion last night - Mrs Creevey’s three daughters and myself - and had a very pleasant evening. We found there Lord and Lady Charlemont, Marchioness of Downshire and old Lady Sefton. About half-past nine, which might be a quarter of an hour after we arrived, the Prince came out of the dining-room. He was in his best humour, bowed and spoke to all of us, and looked uncommonly well, tho’ very fat. He was in his full Field Marshal’s uniform. He remained quite as cheerful and full of fun to the last - half-past twelve - asked after Mrs Creevey’s health, and nodded and spoke when he passed us. The Duke of Cumberland was in the regimentals of his own Hussars, looked really hideous, everybody trying to be rude to him - not standing when he came near them. The officers of the Prince’s regiment had all dined with him, and looked very ornamental monkeys in their red breeches with gold fringe and yellow boots. The Prince’s band played as usual all the time in the dining-room till 12, when the pages and footmen brought about iced champagne punch, lemonade and sandwiches. I found more distinctly than before, from conversation with the Gyps, that Wellington and Portugal are going down.

The Prince looked much happier and more unembarrassed by care than I have seen him since this time six years. This time five years ago, when he was first in love with Lady Hertford, I have seen the tears run down his cheeks at dinner, and he has been dumb for hours, but now that he has the weight of the empire upon him, he is quite alive.  . . I had a very good conversation with Lord Charlemont about Ireland, and liked him much. He thinks the Prince has already nearly ruined himself in Irish estimation by his conduct to the Catholics.’

2 November 1811
‘We were again at the Pavilion last night. . . The Regent sat in the Musick Room almost all the time between Viotti, the famous violin player, and Lady Jane Houston, and he went on for hours beating his thighs the proper time for the band, and singing out aloud, and looking about for accompaniment from Viotti and Lady Jane. It was curious sight to see a Regent thus employed, but he seemed in high good humour.’

3 November 1811
‘I have heard of no one observation the Regent has made yet out of the commonest slip-slop, till to-day Baron Montalembert told me this morning that, when he dined there on Friday with the staff of this district, the Prince said he had been looking over the returns of the Army in Portugal that morning, and that there were of British 16,500 sick in Hospitals in Lisbon, and 4,500 sick in the field - in all, 21,000. It might be indiscreet in the Prince to make this statement from official papers, but he must have been struck with it, and I hope rightly, so as to make him think of peace.’

5 November 1811
‘We were at the Prince’s both last night and the night before (Sunday). . . The Regent was again all night in the Musick Room, and not content with presiding over the Band, but actually singing, and very loud too. Last night we were reduced to a smaller party than ever, and Mrs Creevey was well enough to go with me and her daughters for the first time. Nothing could be kinder than the Prince’s manner to her. When he first saw her upon coming into the drawing-room, he went up and took hold of both her hands, shook them heartily, made her sit down directly, asked her all about her health, and expressed his pleasure at seeing her look so much better than he expected. Upon her saying she was glad to see him looking so well, he said gravely he was getting old and blind. When she said she was glad on account of his health that he kept his rooms cooler than he used to do, he said he was quite altered in that respect - that he used to be always chilly, and was now never so - that he never had a fire even in his bedroom, and slept with one blanket and sheet only.’

6 November 1811
‘We were again at the Pavilion last night . . . the party being still smaller than ever, and the Prince, according to his custom, being entirely occupied with his musick.’

9 November 1811
‘Yesterday was the last day of the Prince’s stay at this place, and, contrary to my expectation, I was invited to dinner. We did not sit down till half-past seven, tho’ I went a little past six. [. . .] We were about sixteen altogether. The Prince was very merry and seemed very well. He began to me with saying very loud that he had sent for Mrs Creevey’s physic to London. . . At dinner I sat opposite to him, next to Ossulston, and we were the only persons there at all marked by opposition to his appointment of his brother the Duke of York, or to the Government generally, since he has been Regent. [. . .] We did not drink a great deal, and were in the drawing-room by half-past nine or a little after; no more state, I think, than formerly - ten men out of livery of one kind or other, and four or five footmen. At night everybody was there and the whole closed about one, and so ended the Regent’s visit to Brighton.

The editor of The Creevey Papers, Sir Herbert Maxwell, concludes this section of diary entries with a short comment: ‘And so, it may be added, ended Creevey’s intimacy with the Regent. Henceforward he acted in constant opposition to his future monarch’s schemes.’

The Diary Junction

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Finished my first song

‘Founder’s Day. Practised the organ after 10. In the middle of my practice St. Mark’s choir appeared to practise the hymn and chants for this morning; and consequently, to my disgust, turned me out. Wrote music all after 6. Finished my first song, “Fair is my love.” ’ This is the British composer and musical historian Hubert Parry writing in his diary when still an Eton schoolboy aged but 16. Parry, born 170 years ago today, kept a diary throughout his life, but the only published extracts are a selection that appeared in the Eton College magazine, and a few that have been quoted by biographers.

Parry was born on 27 February 1848 in Bournemouth on the south coast of England, but his mother died of consumption 12 days later. He grew up with two siblings (Clinton and Lucy) at the country estate, Highnam Court, Gloucestershire, purchased by his father, Thomas, with inherited money. Thomas subsequently remarried and had six more children. Hubert’s musical ability was first encouraged at preparatory schools, and then, after he had started at Eton, by George Elvey, organist at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. While still at Eton he passed the Oxford Bachelor of Music examination, and was the youngest person ever to have done so. He read law and modern history at Exeter College, Oxford, so as to comply with his father’s wishes of entering a commercial career.

In 1870, Parry took up a position at Lloyds as an underwriter, though continued his musical studies (specifically with the pianist Edward Dannreuther) and composing along side the day job. In 1872, he married Elizabeth Maude Herbert, and they had two daughters. From 1875, he began contributing articles for George Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (the first volume of which was published in 1879). Parry gave up commercial work in 1877, and his first major musical works - including a piano concerto and Scenes from Prometheus Unbound - appeared in 1880. Within a few years, he became well established as a composer (with, for example, his ode Blest Pair of Sirens and choral works and oratorios Judith and Job) and was increasingly seen as a musical scholar, influential in the revival of English music.

Parry was appointed festival conductor for the University of Oxford in 1883, and he joined the staff of the Royal College of Music, London, becoming its director in 1894. During his term as head, the college’s pupils included Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, and Frank Bridge. Following the death of Parry’s stepmother in 1896, he succeeded to the family estate at Highnam. He was knighted in 1898 and created a baronet in 1903. From 1900 to 1908, he professor of music at Oxford, after which time he produced some of his best known works, such as Symphonic Fantasia 1912 and the Songs of Farewell. His best known piece is Jerusalem, a setting of William Blake’s poem And did those feet in ancient time, composed in 1916. He died of Spanish flu in 1918, and was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral. A little further information is available at Wikipedia, Classical Net, or Naxos, but there doesn’t appear to be any website, official or otherwise, dedicated to Parry and/or his work.

Parry started keeping a diary in his mid-teens, while still at Eton, and appears to have continued the habit throughout his life. A selection of his Eton diaries were published in the 1940s in three different editions of the Eton magazine, Etoniana, all of which can be read online thanks to the Eton College website (issues 103, 104, 105). Although the diaries have never been edited or published in their own right, they have been used extensively by biographers. Jeremy Dibble, professor of musicology at Durham University, includes many extracts from Parry’s diaries in his biography - C. Hubert H. Parry: His Life and Music, as does Michael Allis in Parry’s Creative Process (but currently neither of these can be previewed at Googlebooks). However King Arthur in Music, edited by Richard Barber, includes a chapter on Parry by Dibble, is viewable at Googlebooks and does also quote many diary extracts.

The following extracts - 
dated 1864-1865 - from Parry’s diary have been taken from Etoniana, and the rest - dated 1873-1892 - are extracted from the narrative of Dibble’s biography C. Hubert H. Parry: His Life and Music. The very first quotation (1851), however, is one found at the opening of Dibble’s book and is a poignant quote from the diary of Thomas Parry, Hubert’s father, written on Hubert’s third birthday.

27 February 1851
‘The next morning I went by Railroad to Bournemouth, which I reached at about half past five. This is my little Hubert’s Birthday - this day three years ago he was born in this place. This is a sweet place. There is a wild nature about the surrounding heathy plains studded here and there with dark groves of pinasters, which is quite different to anything I know in England. The high cliffs commanding an immensely wide seaview and not bare and barren. As the evening grew dusky I wandered out upon the open heath above the house where I last looked upon the beloved form of my incomparable Isabel. It was a beautiful evening, warm as June and bright with stars. Long and deep were the prayers I made on that wide open heath for my three children and myself. I called all to my recollection since that too happy day, just at this period of the year in 1839, (12 years ago) when I first made the acquaintance with my loved and now lost wife. How miserably ungrateful man’s blindness and infirmities make him! - me in particular.’

10 July 1864
‘In chapel in the afternoon, we had Mendelssohn’s “My God, my God,” which is peculiar, and very mournful. I couldn’t hear much because Mitchell quite spoilt it by playing loud, and I was quite close to the organ. I went to St. George’s afterwards. They had Luther’s hymn and Nares in F. I never heard Luther’s hymn so done before, it was quite tremendous, and if they hadn’t rather drowned the voices, it would have been magnificent.’

25 July 1864
‘I wrote out a part of a new air of mine which (I can’t conceive why) everybody here seems to have taken a fancy to.’

22 September 1864
‘I travelled up to London in pleasant company and had a smoke by the way, and got to Windsor without accident at about 5.30. I proceeded to order my piano and some music paper, etc., and now here I am sitting in my old room again; at the beginning of another half, having seen old friends, and old faces.’

27 October 1864
‘I played in the match First Six v. house in which we, the house, got well smacked in the most disgraceful way by the most abominable cheating mostly. All the six but Sturges, Thompson and Hamilton got in a most preposterous rage, and swore and shinned and Ady ma. sulked and played the football well, but the fool better, and made an ass of himself altogether.’

7 November 1864
‘After 4 I tried to get an hour for composing, but first a piano began opposite, and then a fellow came to clean my windows, and so I was also cleaned out of ideas for music, and all hopes of writing any to-day.’

8 November 1864
‘While I was sitting at dinner George suddenly told me that “Mr. Parry” was waiting to see me in my room. I went up and to my surprise and delight found Clin. [his brother] there, quietly smoking. We went to Balston who sent us to my tutor and I got leave till 7.30. We took a walk round the Playing Fields (after going to Brown’s and having an oyster patty apiece). . . . We then went to the Organ Room, and I showed Clin the organ. We then adjourned to the “Christopher” of ancient reputation, and indulged in cigars and brandy and water. We then got over the wall, alias paling, at the back of the aforesaid building and proceeded to kick about. We then went “up ” Windsor and got sme ox-tail soup, and then at the Castle settled down to whiskey punch. He and I afterwards parted near Windsor Bridge. . . I came down to Eton and finished my verses before 8.45.’

6 December 1864
‘Founder’s Day. Practised the organ after 10. In the middle of my practice St. Mark’s choir appeared to practise the hymn and chants for this morning; and consequently, to my disgust, turned me out. Wrote music all after 6. Finished my first song, “Fair is my love.” ’

11 February 1865
‘We had a most extraordinary exhibition in the music line in Chapel this afternoon I ever heard) in my life. First in the Psalms old Mitchell began wandering about on the keys, as if he had lost his place, and played1 thei chant wrong all the way through. Then when the Magnificat began it seemed as if he was gone quite mad. He began to play seemingly just whatever came into his head. The choir began to sing snatches of the Magnificat at intervals, trying to make out what he was doing; this went on in the most hopeful manner for full three minutes, till one of the choirmen (Adams) went and stopped him, and made him play a chant. The whole chapel was convulsed, it was useless to try and prevent it.’

11 November 1873
‘He [Edward Dannreuther] is a decided Radical in music, and goes in for the most advanced style and the most liberal interpretation of the old style. He teaches the pianoforte in a thoroughly radical way and dispenses with all the old dogmas of playing with the intention of obtaining the finest effect by any means. He goes to work thoroughly and has set me to work at Tausig’s hideous mechanical exercises, and one sonata to work at at a time. If the former don’t drive me mad or kill me, I should think he will do me a wonderful lot of good.’

December 1873
‘She [Lady Herbert] makes enough fuss about religion and goes to church enough to do for a dozen people . . . For my part I think a man more likely to have a really high moral standard and to be less tainted with the meaner vices of the age if he doesn’t go to church or make a fuss about his religion. However, the said High Church enthusiasts are saturated with religious sentimentalism and the theory that nothing is worth doing though even so heroic or unselfish an action if it is not done “through Jesus Christ” (whatever that may mean) that they are impregnable to the most commonplace arguments.

December 1873
‘A few days before I left London I sent Possie [his father] a statement (as short as I could make it) of my opinions, and history of them; explaining how I had come by them and reminding him that it was not of wilfulness or carelessness as he himself might know if he would. My reason for doing so was that he had often hinted to me his intention of leaving Highnam to me because Clin [his brother] had ‘thrown overboard his religion etc.’ So I told him that I had done the same, as gently as I could, in order that he might not do Clin an injustice through a false impression of me.’

13 January 1876
I wrote to her Ladyship the same day. And never was her singular character more clearly displayed. Instead of being pleased at Maudie’s being safe, she was miserable on receiving the news. Mary said she turned quite pale and then burst into tears. She wrote to me and said she was horribly mortified at not having been present. Not because she loves Maudie or to sympathize with her, but because she loves the excitement of it, and delights in retailing the horrors with unlimited exaggeration to everyone she meets . . . Mary said that when my letter arrived she read it out (ostensibly) to them at breakfast. . . She was furious with me and with Dr Black for not sending for her immediately, though Maudie had told her long ago that it would kill her to have her in the room during her confinement . . . The many other exasperating things which she did would fill volumes if they were set down. And through them all alike runs a vein of blind egotism. I never saw so clearly before how every action she does, even her great charities and her profuse generosity, is prompted by the lowest vanity and egotism. She seems to me utterly without heart or sympathy, or truthfulness and honesty. A creature whom only the customs of society, which she worships as her real God, keeps from any conceivable enormity.’

6 September 1881
‘She is the most extreme anti-Wagnerite I have yet come across. Every touch of him she feels with equal aversion; she is contemptuous both of his poetry, charm and music. We played the Brahms variations on the Schumann theme in E flat and when we got to the last one she said ‘I can’t bear this; it’s like Wagner’. ‘There, that ninth, it’s Lohengrin. I have got to detest the very sound of a ninth from him.’ After she said ‘It is impossible for anyone to like Brahms and Wagner.’ I demurred. She answered ‘Well Amateurs of course are different, but no professed musician can possibly accept the two. No man can serve two masters. They are so utterly opposed in harmonic principles, it’s not possible.’

8 June 1886
‘Hueffer’s libretto is unsurpassably bad. Structures all obviously borrowed from Tannhauser, Tristan or Flying Dutchman and invariably spoilt. The development of the plot depends on grimaces and unintelligible actions and drags fearfully and comes to no climaxes anywhere. There is no action in the first and 2nd acts, the latter of which simply comes to a stop when the curtain comes down . . . By the end of the performance, half the stalls were empty. There is some fine and effective scoring and some fine music here and there, but the general impression to me was hollow and rather meretricious . . . It seemed a complete failure, but as the book is Hueffer’s, the press will doubtless push it through and make the public think they ought to like it.’

13 August 1892
‘I went all over it again and revived the memories of that delightful time when Maude and I were there alone, many years ago. A time I like to look back to almost more than any in my life. It was so peaceful and happily contented. It’s funny though how I had forgotten the house and the lie of some of the rooms. But the garden - every inch of it - was perfectly familiar.’

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Who died the last week

‘The lady of George Bowes, esq., one of the knights of the shire for the county of Durham, was brought to bed of a daughter at his house in London. She was the only daughter of Thomas Gilbert, a merchant in London, and this was her first child after a marriage of six or seven years.’ This is the very first entry - written 270 years ago today - in the diary of one Thomas Gyll, a Durham lawyer. Very little is known of him, other that that contained in the rather impersonal diary - little more than a record of births, deaths and marriages kept for 30 years - published by the Surtees Society in Six North Country Diaries.

Gyll was born in 1700, the only son of Thomas Gyll who owned a patrimonial estate at Barton in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He was educated at Richmond School, and at Trinity Hall Cambridge, before entering Lincoln’s Inn and being called to the bar in 1725. He was appointed solicitor-general of the County Palatine of Durham in 1733, and recorder of the city of Durham in the year 1769. Other than work, he had a strong interest in history, archaeology and the fine arts. He never unmarried, and died in 1780. 

Gyll was buried in Barton, where there can be found the following inscription: ‘Near this wall is interred Thomas Gyll, esq., equally esteemed for his knowledge of the Common and Canon Law, and for his integrity in the practice of both. At the Bar, an advocate in the former, on the Bench a judge in the latter. Nor was he less distinguished for his accuracy in the history and antiquities of his country. By a steady discharge of the duties of his station, both in public and private life, and by a constant and devout attendance on the public worship, he was an example worthy of imitation. He died in his 80th year, 1780. To the memory of his truly valuable character, Leonard Hartley, his nephew and heir, placed this tablet.’

Gyll kept a diary for 30 years, from 1748 to 1778, though it is scarcely more than a brief and intermittent list of events, often enough these are the record of a death with a detail or two about the deceased. In 1910, the Surtees Society (dedicated to the publication of manuscripts illustrative of the history of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria) published Six North Country Diaries including all of Gyll’s extant diaries (several years are missing). J. C. Hodgson, in his preface, introduces Gyll as ‘a sagacious lawyer, whose pithy and analytical comments on Durham people and events are always decided’. Six North Country Diaries is freely available at Internet Archive, and Gyll’s diary can be found starting on page 169. Here are several extracts, including the first few and the last three.

24 February 1748
‘The lady of George Bowes, esq., one of the knights of the shire for the county of Durham, was brought to bed of a daughter at his house in London. She was the only daughter of Thomas Gilbert, a merchant in London, and this was her first child after a marriage of six or seven years.’

23 March 1748
‘The wife of Robert Spearman of Oldacres, near Sedgefield, esq., who died the last week at his house in Old Elvet, having lingered of a palsy, was this day buried with great funeral pomp in Bow church in Durham.

And the same day old Henry Pratt, the bell-ringer, was buried at St. Mary’s, South Bailey, aged near 90. He had formerly been coachman to Dean Comber.’

9 May 1748
‘Sir Ralph Milbank of Halnaby in Yorkshire, baronet, died at London in the 60th year of his age, and was some short time after buried with much funeral pomp in the family vault of Croft church. He left six sons by Ann, his wife, daughter of Edward Delaval of Dissington in Northumberland, esq.; and one daughter, Bridget, by his first wife, Elizabeth, sister to Robert, earl of Holderness, whose daughter was first married to Sir Butler Wentworth, baronet, and secondly to John Murray, esq., of the Isle of Man.’

28 January 1758
‘My friend, David Hilton, was struck with a fit of the palsy: after proper evacuations had a good night, but grew worse the next day and afterwards grew better.’

10 February 1758
‘My old friend, Thomas Garrard, esq., Common Serjeant of the city of London, died at his house in Hatton Garden. I have been much oblidged to him.’

16 March 1758
‘Died Dr. Thomas Sharp, prebendary of Durham and was buried in the Abbey on the 23rd. (Will dated 1 March, 1758, proved at York in April following.)’

11 April 1758
‘Rev. Thomas Drake, rector of Bow church, married to Jenny Clark. Sed prius dictum dedisse fertur.’

12 October 1757
‘Died at Barford in Yorkshire, Mr. John Croft, one of the greatest breeders of horses in the north, as was his father, John Croft, who had been a servant, in the Darcy family at Sedbury and afterwards farmed at Croft under Sir William Chaytor. His wife was an admirer of the diversion of cock-fighting and would bet her money freely.’

7 April 1778
‘Died at Croft, Francis Milbank, rector, after a lingering illness, a son of the first Sir Ralph Milbank; vinous, amator, sic fama volat; unmarried.’

2 August 1778
‘My sister, Hartley, died about 11 in the forenoon after a long confinement in bed, with as little struggle as possible, in the 82nd year of her age, and was buried privately as she desired, and was accordingly interred at Middleton.’

20 October 1778
‘Died at Durham, where he came for the benefit of the air, the Rev. Mr. Robinson, rector of Seaham. He married Alice, one of the daughters of Robert Hartley, formerly of Hartford, in the parish of Gilling, gent.’

The Diary Junction

Friday, February 23, 2018

Election of a president

‘May the blessing of God rest upon the event of this day! - the second Wednesday in February, when the election of a President of the United States for the term of four years, from the 4th of March next, was consummated. . . the House of Representatives immediately proceeded to the vote by ballot from the three highest candidates, when John Quincy Adams received the votes of thirteen, Andrew Jackson of seven, and William H. Crawford of four States. The election was thus completed, very unexpectedly, by a single ballot.’ This is John Quincy Adams - who died 170 years ago today - writing in his diary on the day he won the ballot to become the sixth president of the United States. His father, of course, another John Adams, had been the first ever US vice-president and then the second president - see A spirit to our honour.

Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1767, and while still young served as secretary to his father, then a diplomat, in Europe. He studied at Leiden University and Harvard, and trained as a lawyer. In 1789, his father became the US’s first vice-president (under George Washington), and 12 years later the country’s second president. At only 26 years of age, young Adams was appointed minister to the Netherlands, and then promoted to the Berlin legation. In 1797, he married Louisa Johnson and they had four children, though one died in infancy, and two died as young adults. In 1802, he was elected to the Senate. Six years later, President Madison appointed him Minister to Russia, a position he held until 1814, after which he served as an envoy to the UK for two years. Under President Monroe, Adams served as secretary of state, arranging with England for the joint occupation of Oregon, obtaining from Spain the cession of the Floridas, and helping formulate the Monroe Doctrine.

Adams was elected president in 1825. He sought to modernise the country, launching a programme to build highways and canals, to establish a national university, and to finance scientific expeditions. But he lost his 1928 bid for re-election to Andrew Jackson. Adams returned to Massachusetts planning to retire from politics, but in 1830 he ran for, and won, a seat in the House of Representatives (becoming the first of very few presidents who have sat in Congress). He was re-elected regularly (even though he changed from being a Republican to a Whig) and served on various committees. Indeed, he died - 
23 February 1848 - from a stroke suffered in the House. For further information see Wikipedia, The White House, The Miller Centre, Encyclopaedia Britannica, or

Adams kept a diary from the age of 12 throughout his life, amassing some 15,000 closely-written manuscript pages. The text of those pages was first edited by his son, Charles Francis Adams, and published in 12 volumes between 1874 and 1877 by J. B. Lippincott, as Memoirs of John Quincy. All volumes are freely available at Internet Archive. Charles Adams explains, in his preface, what ‘fair and honest’ rules he followed in selecting entries to be published: ‘1st. To eliminate the details of common life and events of no interest to the public. 2d. To reduce the moral and religious speculations, in which the work abounds, so far as to escape repetition of sentiments once declared. 3d. Not to suppress strictures upon contemporaries, but to give them only when they are upon public men acting in the same sphere with the writer. In point of fact, there are very few others. 4th. To suppress nothing of his own habits of self-examination, even when they might be thought most to tell against himself. 5th. To abstain altogether from modification of the sentiments or the very words, and substitution of what might seem better ones, in every case but that of obvious error in writing.’

Three-quarters of a century later, in 1951, Charles Scribner’s Sons issued an abridged one-volume version, edited by Allan Nevins, with the title The Diary of John Quincy Adams 1794-1845. This, too, is freely available at Internet Archive. Much more recently (2107), Library of America (LoA) has issued a fresh two-volume selected edition of the diaries (1779-1821, 1821-1848) as edited by David Waldstreicher. LoA calls Adams’ diary ‘one of the most extraordinary works in American literature’, and says ‘it is both an unrivaled record of historical events and personalities from the nation’s founding to the antebellum era and a masterpiece of American self-portraiture, tracing the spiritual, literary, and scientific interests of an exceptionally lively mind.’ It also presents selections for the first time that are based on ‘the original manuscript diaries, restoring personal and revealing passages suppressed in earlier editions’.

The following extracts are all taken from Nevin’s 1951 edition.

3 June 1794
‘Boston. When I returned to my lodgings at the close of the evening, upon opening a letter from my father, which I had just before taken from the postoffice I found that it contained information that Edmund Randolph, Secretary of State of the United States, had, on the morning of the day when the letter was dated, called on the writer, and told him that the President of the United States had determined to nominate me to go to the Hague as Resident Minister from the United States. This intelligence was very unexpected, and indeed surprising. I had laid down as a principle, that I never would solicit for any public office whatever, and from this determination no necessity has hitherto compelled me to swerve.’

9 December 1795
‘After the Levee was over I was introduced into the private closet of the King by Lord Grenville, and, presenting my credential Letter, said, “Sir, to testify to your Majesty the sincerity of the United States of America in their negotiations, their President has directed me to take the necessary measures connected with the ratifications of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation concluded between your Majesty and the United States. He has authorized me to deliver to your Majesty this letter, and I ask your Majesty’s permission to add, on their part, the assurance of the sincerity of their intentions.” He then said, “To give you my answer, Sir, I am very happy to have the assurances of their sincerity, for without that, you know, there would be no such thing as dealings among men.” He afterwards asked to which of the States I belonged, and on my answering, Massachusetts, he turned to Lord Grenville and said, “All the Adamses belong to Massachusetts?” To which Lord Grenville answered, they did. He enquired whether my father was now Governor of Massachuetts. I answered, “No, Sir; he is Vice President of the United States.” “Ay,” said he, “and he cannot hold both offices at the same time?” “No, Sir.” He asked where my father is now. “At Philadelphia, Sir, I presume, the Congress being now in session.” “When do they meet?” “The first week in December, Sir.” “ And where did you come from last?” “From Holland, Sir.” “You have been employed there?” “Yes, Sir, about a year.” “Have you been employed before, and anywhere else?” “ No, Sir.”

I then withdrew. Mr. Cottrell invited me to go and witness the ceremony of an address presented by the Bishop and Clergy of London, which was received upon the throne.’

8 March 1814
‘Dr. Galloway was here this morning, and prescribed for me a vial of Sacred Elixir. I am very unwell, and have strong symptoms of the jaundice; a lassitude which has almost, but not yet quite, suspended all my industry; a listlessness which, without extinguishing the love of life, affects the mind with the sentiment that life is nothing worth; an oppression at the heart, which, without being positive pain, is more distressing than pain itself. I still adhere, however, to my usual occupations. I feel nothing like the tediousness of time, suffer nothing like ennui. Time is too short for me, rather than too long. If the day were of forty-eight hours instead of twenty-four, I could employ them all, so I had but eyes and hands to read and write.’

4 February 1815
‘Paris. At a quarter-past four in the morning I took my departure from Gournay-sur-Aronde, and reached Pont Sainte Mayence, the second stage, just after daylight. On the starting from this stage, I found a bridge over the river Oise, which had been blown up last winter, and which they are now rebuilding. This was the first and only trace of injury to the country from the late war that I perceived on the road. The bridge is already sufficiently restored for foot-passengers, but not for carriages. I crossed it myself, and waited on the south side of it for my carriage, which went over in a ferry-boat, about two hundred yards below. I met on the Paris side of the bridge a miller, who told me that the bridge had been blown up to stop the Cossacks.’

10 July 1818
‘Had an interview at the office with Hyde de Neuville, the French Minister - all upon our affairs with Spain. He says that Spain will cede the Floridas to the United States, and let the lands go for the indemnities due to our citizens, and he urged that we should take the Sabine for the western boundary, which I told him was impossible. He urged this subject very strenuously for more than an hour. As to Onis’s note of invective against General Jackson, which I told him as a good friend to Onis he should advise him to take back, he said I need not answer it for a month or two, perhaps not at all, if in the meantime we could come to an arrangement of the other differences.’

17 July 1818
‘Cabinet meeting at the President’s - the discussion continued upon the answer to be given to Onis, and the restoration of Florida to Spain. The weakness and palsy of my right hand make it impossible for me to report this discussion, in which I continue to oppose the unanimous opinions of the President, the Secretary of the Treasury Crawford, the Secretary of War Calhoun, and the Attorney-General Wirt. I have thought that the whole conduct of General Jackson was justifiable under his orders, although he certainly had none to take any Spanish fort. My principle is that everything he did was defensive; that as such it was neither war against Spain nor violation of the Constitution.’

9 February 1821
‘May the blessing of God rest upon the event of this day! - the second Wednesday in February, when the election of a President of the United States for the term of four years, from the 4th of March next, was consummated. Of the votes in the electoral colleges, there were ninety-nine for Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee; eighty-four for John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts; forty-one for William Harris Crawford, of Georgia; and thirty-seven for Henry Clay, of Kentucky: in all, two hundred and sixty-one. This result having been announced, on opening and counting the votes in joint meeting of the two Houses, the House of Representatives immediately proceeded to the vote by ballot from the three highest candidates, when John Quincy Adams received the votes of thirteen, Andrew Jackson of seven, and William H. Crawford of four States. The election was thus completed, very unexpectedly, by a single ballot. Alexander H. Everett gave me the first notice, both of the issue of the votes of the electoral colleges as announced in the joint meeting, and of the final vote as declared. Wyer followed him a few minutes afterwards. Mr. Bolton and Mr. Thomas, the Naval Architect, succeeded; and B. W. Crowninshield, calling, on his return from the House to his lodgings, at my house, confirmed the report.

Congratulations from several of the officers of the Department of State ensued - from D. Brent, G. Ironside, W. Slade, and Joseas W. King. Those of my wife, children, and family were cordial and affecting, and I received an affectionate note from Mr. Rufus King, of New York, written in the Senate-chamber after the event. . .

After dinner, the Russian Minister, Baron Tuyll called to congratulate me upon the issue of the election. I attended, with Mrs. Adams, the drawing-room at the President’s. It was crowded to overflowing. General Jackson was there, and we shook hands. He was altogether placid and courteous. I received numerous friendly salutations. D. Webster asked me when I could receive the committee of the House to announce to me my election. I appointed to-morrow noon, at my own house.’

5 December 1837
‘The House at noon was called to order. . . Van Buren’s message gave me a fit of melancholy for the future fortunes of the republic. Cunning and duplicity pervade every line of it. The sacrifice of the rights or Northern freedom to slavery and the South, and the purchase of the West by the plunder of the public lands, is the combined system which it discloses. It is the system of Jackson’s message of December, 1832, covered with a new coat of varnish.’

17 April 1840
‘A dark-colored mulatto man, named Joseph Cartwright, a preacher of a colored Methodist church, came this morning with a subscription book to raise $450 to purchase the freedom of his three grandchildren - two girls and one boy, all under three or four years of age. He told me that he had been upwards of twenty years in purchasing his own freedom and that of his three sons; that after this, Henry Johnson, late a member of the House of Representatives from Louisiana, had bought his son’s wife and her three children, with many other slaves, to carry them away to Louisiana; that after the purchase he had been prevailed upon to consent to leave them here for a short time in the charge of a man to whom he had ostensibly sold them, but with the consent that this Joseph Cartwright should purchase them for $1,025. He had actually purchased and paid for the mother, and was now endeavoring to raise $450 for the three children. There were in the subscription book certificates of two white Methodist ministers, Hamilton and Cookman, to the respectability of this man - a preacher of the gospel I What a horrible exemplification of slavery!’

5 April 1841
‘The corpse of the late President Harrison was laid out, in a plain coffin covered with black velvet, on a table in the middle of the entrance hall at the President’s house. At two p.m., I went, with my wife and Mrs. Smith, and took a last look at the face of the patriot warrior, taken away thus providentially from the evil to come.’

6 April 1841
‘The Vice-President, John Tyler of Virginia, arrived here at five o’clock this morning, and took lodgings at Brown’s Hotel. At noon, the heads of departments waited upon him. He requested them all to continue in their offices, and took the official oath of President of the United States, which was administered to him by William Cranch, Chief Justice of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia. The Judge certifies that although Mr. Tyler deems himself qualified to perform the duties and exercise the powers and office of President, on the death of President Harrison, without any other oath than that which he had taken as Vice-President, yet as doubts might arise, and for greater caution, he had taken and subscribed the present oath.’

The Diary Junction