Saturday, February 13, 2016

The cost of men and food

‘Married men are paid by the keep of a cow, a house, potatoe & flax ground, with a certain yearly sum in money. At one period of the war unmarried ploughmen paid by the year received 18£, and 6½ bolls of meal with milk. In 1816 the money wages fell to 9£. At present. 12£.’ This is Thomas Robert Malthus, the British scholar whose writings on political economy and populations studies - notably that population growth will always tend to outrun food supply - caused controversy in his time. He left behind a few travel diaries, which show him always aware of ‘the economic aspect of things’ as well as ‘his persistent interest in the costs and amenities of living in different environments’.

Malthus was born on 13 February 1766 into a large prosperous family living in Westcott, Surrey. He was educated at home, then Warrington Academy, and entered Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1784, eventually being elected a Fellow in 1793. Earlier, though, he had taken orders for the Church of England, and become a curate. His first work - An Essay on the Principle of Population - was published anonymously in 1798, and then revised by him five or six times, during his lifetime, incorporating new information. The work made him famous at the time, and he remains one of the most well remembered of early economists.

Essentially, Malthus argued in his essay that hopes for future human happiness - as expressed by learned men, including his father - must be in vain because food supply, which increases in arithmetic progression, will always be outstripped by population growth, which increases by geometric progression if unchecked. Indeed, population, he argued, will expand to the limit of subsistence, and be held in check by war, famine, ill health.

In 1804, Malthus married Harriet Eckersall, and they had three children. When the East India Company College was founded, in 1805-1806, to train administrators for the Honourable East India Company, he was appointed professor of history and political economy. Although initially situated in Hertford, new buildings including accommodation for the professors and their families were soon after constructed at Haileybury, just outside the city, where Malthus taught and lived for the rest of his life (having helped, in 1817, defend the college against closure).

In 1818, Malthus was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1820, he published his Principles of Political Economy, and soon after was a founding member the Political Economy Club. Later, he was elected one of the 10 royal associates of the Royal Society of Literature, and he cofounded the Statistical Society of London. He died suddenly in late 1834. Further information is available at Wikipedia, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, BBC, Encyclopaedia Britannica, New World Encyclopedia or the Biographical Dictionary of British Economists.

Malthus travelled infrequently: to northern Europe in 1799, through Sweden and Finland to St Petersburg; to France and Switzerland in 1802; to Ireland in 1819; to the Continent in 1825; and to Scotland in 1826. He may have kept diaries on all these trips, who knows, but only those from 1799, 1825 and 1826 appear to have survived - the 1799 diary (four notebooks) only being discovered in 1961. These diaries were transcribed and edited by Patricia James and published in 1966 in Cambridge at the University Press for the Royal Economic Society as The Travel Diaries of Thomas Robert Malthus.

According to the eminent British economist Lionel Robbins, who wrote the foreword, the diaries are not only notable for their occasional entries on population questions (shedding light on differences between the first and second editions of ‘Essay on the Principle of Population’), but because ‘they afford valuable evidence of general temper of the author’s mind in its focus on the economic aspect of things - his patient empiricism, his concern with the mundane details of institutions and customary behaviour, his persistent interest in the costs and amenities of living in different environments.’

Robbins finishes his foreword: ‘Since the discovery of these diaries, I have often thought of the pleasure which they would have given to Maynard Keynes who wrote so eloquently of their author and who valued so highly the ways of living and thinking for which he stood. How he would have relished the piquant details of travel and the agreeable parties at which such serious questions were discussed. It is a fitting thing that they should now be published by the Royal Economic Society whose fortunes he did so much to establish and whose meetings for so many years were made memorable by the liveliness of his wit and fancy.’

Here are several extracts from the three tours: Scandinavia, 1799 (four notebooks), the Continent, 1825, and Scotland, 1826.

13 June 1799
‘Showry. Therm at 2, 59. Saw the King’s library which consists of upwards of 300,000 volumes. It contains many scarce books & valuable manuscripts; but we were too much pressed for time to examine them with any attention. Talked to a man who had published a book on Statistics. According to his calculations, 1 in 40 die in Norway, 1 in 38 in the islands, 1 in 37 in the dutchies. He said that Professor Thaarup had stolen from him.  Call’d upon Monsr. Wad, professor of natural history in the University, a great mineralogist, & saw some curious specimens relating to the formation of coal & amber, a new semimetal & some new crystals & c. & c. We have found all the professors that we have seen extremely polite, & ready to give every kind of information. The King’s library is open every day from 10 till 12, & a professor generally attends.

There are no corn laws in Denmark & no publick store except a small one for the army. The Bank is entirely a government institution but in great credit. The notes are as low as 1 rix dollar. Silver must be paid at the bank when demanded. These notes bear a discount in Holstein. I heard, but do not know whether from good authority or not, that there was a discount on these notes in the islands about 10 yrs ago. The Bank is said now to be very rich in silver, & it is thought probable that in a few years the notes will be destroyed & that there will be only a silver currency.

Every thing is remarkably dear at present in Copenhagen. Beef & mutton 6d., Fresh butter is. Common labour in the environs of the town 2s. - in the country 1s. 4d. There is a very great demand for labour at present, and labourers are scarce. Every thing in the shops is remarkably dear, & books particularly so. Only four years ago labour in the country was 1 danish marc or 8d. a day. This rapid rise in the price of labour has placed the lower classes in a very good state, and it is expected that there will be a very rapid increase of population. In the afternoon went to see the review, which upon the whole went off very well, tho it was unluckily a showry afternoon. The soldiers at a distance appeared to be handsomely drest, but on a nearer view their cloathing was very coarse. The horses small, but handsome, & in good order - all with long tails. Towards the end of the review I got near the King’s tent & saw him quite close. He is treated quite as an idiot. The officers about the court have all orders not to give him any answer. Some of the party observed him talking very fast & making faces at an officer who was one of the sentinels at the tent, who preserved the utmost gravity of countenance & did not answer him a single word. Just before the royal party left the tent the Prince rode up full speed, & his father made him a very low bow. I could not well distinguish the Prince’s countenance, and could only see that he had a thin pale face & a small person. His father has the same kind of face & person, but is reckoned a better looking man.

We observed the French minister with his national cockade. He had an interesting, tho rather fier countenance, and seemed to look on what he saw as a poor farce not worth his attention. When he addressed any person his features relaxed into mildness & he seemed to be perfectly well bred in his manner. The Princess Royal is rather pretty, and is, I understand, a most agreeable & valuable woman. Lady R F spoke in the highest terms of her - She is a daughter of the Prince of Hesse who lives in the palace at Sleswic. We saw the Princess get into her carriage with her daughter, the only remaining child of five, who is now about five yrs old. There was a large party of nobility in the King’s tent, but Ld R F was not there. The King drove off first, accompanied by the Princess Royal & her daughter, in a gilt chariot with six very handsome grey horses.’

28 June 1799
‘We were engaged to dine with Mr Ancher at half past 2, & to go to his brother’s in the evening. In the morning, walked up to the Castle with the daughter of the landlord of our Inn as an interpreter. She speaks french, is a little of a coquette, & is much celebrated in the neighbourhood for the gracefulness of her manners; but she has not much pretension to beauty. On account of her superior accomplishments she is admitted into the first circle at Christiania. Mr A praised her highly & said that she was one of their best actresses. They have private theatricals at Christiania as well as at Frederickshall, & Mr A himself often takes a principal part - sometimes indeed that of author as well as actor. He told us of a tragedy that he had written on the subject of the death of Major Andre, which he performed before the Prince Royal, playing himself the part of the Major. The Prince, he told us, was highly pleased.’

8 June 1825
‘Bruges at 8 o’clock. Hotel nearly full.’

9 June 1825
‘Tower in the Market Place. Church of Notre Dame: Carved Pulpit. Statue of the Virgin by Michaelangelo. Tombs of Charles the Bold & his daughter. St Salvador. Baptism of John by Van Os. Resurrection not yet put up.

Church of Jerusalem not worth going to. Black Manteau’s. Some of the whitened houses do not suit the antient character of the Town.

At the Hotel Fleur de Bled Vin de Bordeaux ordinaire 2.f.’

10 June 1825
‘To Ghent by the Grand Barque. Passage 5½ francs each, dinner included, wine excluded. Vin de Bordeaux ordinaire 3 f. Claret at 4 f. not better. - rather approaching to the wine at 1½ f.’

For a great part of the way the banks were so high that the country was not visible - wood on each side - chiefly poplar of different kinds, and beech - Latter part of way banks lower - neat houses - good deal of rye the main food of the common people. Labour 14 sous, 28 French Sous. White bread 3½ pounds for 4 Sous or pence.’

11 June 1825
‘Town - marks of the wealth and splendour of the middle ages. Cathedrale de St Bavo rich in marble. Pulpit by Delvaux. Statue of Bishop Trieste by Quesnoy. Chch. St Michael. Crucifixion by Vandyke - a very fine picture, but dirty, and not distinct. -another copy in Academy in better order, but not reckoned so good. Van Kraeger. Boxon sculptor - single portrait of himself.

Nunnery. Town Hall Gothic side superb.

Sabots, women without stockings. Blue Carters frocks. Cotton cloaks.’

12 June 1825
‘Feats of swimming from the bridges of the Schelde and the Leys, numerous barges laden with Coals chiefly from Charleroix.

In the afternoon to Brussels by the Diligence - premiere caisse. Pavé the first half of the way between two rows of beeches. Country flat but not unpleasing from the number of trees - chiefly different kinds of poplar, and beech, - no large timber. Much rye in full ear, and good crops, some barley turning yellow, - but little wheat - just coming into ear. good crops flax. From Alost the crops of wheat and rye forwarder, and the finest and fullest I ever saw. - the first half of the way the houses the neatest, - last half thatched cottages, and a waving country much like England. Alost and Assche very white and cheerful. Blue frocks, women without shoes. Hotel Belle Vue. Place Royale. Park - splendid.’

4 July 4 1826
‘Hill by Turnpike before breakfast. Small hill the other way after breakfast. Down to Stoney river and wooden bridge. View of Luss & Ben Lomond. Steam boat. Rowerdennan. Tarbet. Inversnaith. Rob Roy’s cave. Tarbet. Walk on a shoulder of one of the mountains in the evening.

Heard at Luss that the wages of the man who worked in the slate quarries were about 20d. a day. All had been employed, and there had been little or no fall.

In Fifeshire, from Mr Bruce the same account. Wages had risen in 1825, and had not fallen again - no want of agricultural work. In 1811, 12 and 13 the price of labour for single men had been 12s. a week. In 1823, they had fallen to 9s. and in 1825 rose to 10s. at which price they remained, June 30th 1826. For about 3 months of the year the wages are only 9s,; and during the harvest much is done by piece work.

Married men are paid by the keep of a cow, a house, potatoe & flax ground, with a certain yearly sum in money. At one period of the war unmarried ploughmen paid by the year received 18£, and 6½ bolls of meal with milk. In 1816 the money wages fell to 9£. At present. 12£. Altogether what the married men receive is worth more than the earnings of the single man. Their wages in money are about half those of the single man.

The boll of wheat is rather above 4 bushels, of barly six, of oats six.

Farms are now for the most part let in Scotland so as to vary with the price of corn. Sometimes the whole rent varies with the price of corn, and sometimes a part is reserved in Money.’

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A life of Joy and lions

‘Went along the river bank with Joy and called a croc. She radiated sex and I only just managed to keep a hold on myself.’ This is from the diary of the British wildlife conservationist George Adamson - born 110 years ago today - who would soon marry the said Joy. Together, in Kenya, they would rear an orphan lion cub called Elsa, and reintroduce her to the wild - something not done before. Joy penned a book about this experience, called Born Free, partly based on George’s diaries, which became a worldwide hit, and made them both famous.

Adams was born at Etawah, in British India as it was then, on 3 February 1906, but educated at boarding school in England. Aged 18, he went to Kenya, to work on his father’s coffee plantation, but this did not suit him, and he tried various other occupations, gold prospector, goat trader, safari hunter, before joining Kenya’s game department in 1938, where he became the senior game warden of the Northern Frontier District. In 1944, he married Joy, after she had divorced from her second husband, Peter Bally. She had several miscarriages, but the couple never had any children.

Towards the end of the 1940s, Joy began painting the natives of Kenya. During several years of travel, and visiting more than 50 tribes, she produced 700 pictures many now held by Nairobi National Museum. In early 1956, George was sent to track down a man-eating lion that had been terrorising villages. His party startled a lioness in the deep bush, and he was forced to shoot her. He brought her three lion cubs back home with him, two of which were later sent to a zoo. However, he and Joy kept the third one - naming her Elsa.

Elsa remained with the Adamsons for three years before they decided to re-integrate her into the wild, something that had never been attempted before. She survived only a couple of years, dying from tick fever in 1961. However, by then, George had retired as game warden, preferring to focus on working with lions (still in the Meru National Park), and Joy had founded the Elsa Conservation Trust. They were also famous. A year earlier, a young David Attenborough from the BBC had interviewed them, and the book, Born Free, had been published. Born Free, written by Joy partly from diaries kept by George, was a publishing phenomenon, selling millions around the world (not least to friends of my parents, Bill and Sean, who bought it in May 1960 to give to me as a present for my eighth birthday! I still have it.) Two sequels followed, and a very successful film, starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna (husband and wife in real life).

In 1968, one of George’s lions mauled the son of a warden, and George was obliged to leave the Park. The only place where the government would allow him to continue his wildlife rehabilitation programme was in Kora, an isolated and almost uninhabited region of desert 400 km north of Nairobi. There he rented 1,300 sq km and set up operations with his younger brother Terence  and native assistants. Joy had no wish to move to Kora, which only added to long-standing tensions between her and George, and which led to their separation. Joy travelled the world promoting wildlife conservation, showing films and setting up Elsa clubs, but was murdered by an irate employee in 1980. The same year, Terence Adamson was mauled by a lion, and the Kenyan government stopped any further cubs entering George’s rehabilitation programme.

In 1984, Travers and McKenna set up the Born Free Foundation; and in 1986 George published his autobiography My Pride and Joy. Two years later, the Kenyan government reinstated his programme, with three orphan cubs to rehabilitate into the wild. But, in 1989, George and two of his assistants, in Kora, went to the aid of some tourists and were murdered by Somali poachers. Further information about George is available at Wikipedia, PBS, Father of Lions, VayuLila.com, and Destination Magazine.

As Joy acknowledged in her books - Born Free, Living Free and Forever Free - her husband’s records were the source of much of the detail. As far as I know, George’s diaries have never been published in their own right, however, Adrian House used them extensively in his biography: The Great Safari - The Lives of George and Joy Adamson (Harvill, 1993).

In his introduction, House says: ‘The written sources on which this book is based are primarily those left by George and Joy themselves. The most remarkable of these are George’s diaries, kept night after night for more than sixty years [. . .]

When I first read the most intimate passages in the diaries and letters I felt uneasy about using them. However, I then realized George and Joy had deliberately preserved them in the full knowledge that their activities aroused curiosity throughout the world and that they might die at any moment. I have therefore quoted them because they throw critical light on a number of mysteries. [. . .]

It has often been necessary to abridge passages from letters, diaries, reports and books, but to avoid distraction I have not indicated omissions with the customary eclipses.’

Here are several extracts from George’s diaries as reproduced by House in his biography.

1 January 1943
‘While we were walking along Bally was some way behind, Joy suddenly caught me by the hand and said she loved me. I was flabbergasted and felt very embarrassed.’

2 January 1943
‘Went along the river bank with Joy and called a croc. She radiated sex and I only just managed to keep a hold on myself.’

6 January 1943
‘In the evening we had drinks, while I went into the bush Joy filled up my glass with neat brandy. I pretended not to notice and drank it down. When we were going to bed our eyes met. If Bally had not been there we would have slept together.’

12 January 1943
‘Joy asked me whether, if we got married, she would spoil my life - I said she could make it and I believe she could.’

13 January 1943
‘Yesterday at our midday halt, Joy and myself were sitting on the ground next each other skinning a Vulturine guinea fowl. Presently we touched and it was like an electric current through me. It would be a very dirty trick to take advantage of the situation.’

14 January 1943
‘Went out for walk with Joy and she told me that Bally is impotent, pretty tragic. During the night I heard Joy crying. I’d like to help her - Bally seems a very decent fellow, but at the same time he is a bit of an “old woman” and I can quite understand a woman like Joy wanting a man with red blood in his veins.’

15 January 1943
‘The Ballys and Hales started back for Garissa by lorry. Sorry the Bs have gone, they were good company on the safari. She is an exceptionally good walker and does not mind hardship and would make a wonderful companion for a man like myself. As they drove off her eyes literally looked into my soul.’

18 March 1943
‘She wants to get a divorce and to marry me; she has discussed it with Peter and he wants it. I do not know whether I want to marry her; I do not want to behave like a cad, least of all hurt her. I am single, past my youth and I want to have a wife some day - why not risk it? It will be something positive if I make her happy.

Well I “burnt my boats” and now I am in honour bound to marry her. I think it will not be difficult to fall in love with her.’

24 April 1943
‘I do love Joy, in fact I am frantically in love with her. This has been the most wonderful experience of my life. Joy means everything in the world to me and I now long for the time when we are married.’

26 April 1943
‘I realised today that Joy has doubts about our marriage being a success. My God - is she another Juliette? No, it can’t be, she is in a very nervous state over the divorce and it is understandable.’

29 April 1943
‘She still loves Peter and I am terribly afraid that she may go back to him before the divorce is through.’

24 June 1943
‘In the course of the afternoon Joy turned up in a hired lorry. Very upset and wanted to dash off to Nairobi, appearing at the divorce case in court and telling the judge that the whole thing was “collusion” with the idea of getting the proceedings stopped and saving me! She said she had decided she did not want to marry me or anyone again.’

15 February 1957
‘Joy went up the beach with Elsa. About 6.30 pm. I was feeling definitely queer in the head. I imagined Elsa attacking Joy. Suddenly a terrible fear gripped me that I was going mad. I had the sense to call Herbert who was lying on his bed. I told him that I might do anything - anything! Asked him to stay with me and not leave me for a moment - told him to remove all guns, knives, everything with which I could injure myself or another.

I knew I was sinking into darkness, I went through the most terrifying mental anguish, I cried for help, I wanted something to clutch on to like a drowning man. Herbert held my hands which were ice cold and he urged me not to give in. I felt myself going colder and colder - I started to cry out for Joy because I knew that I was going into the limbo of insanity or death. At length I heard Joy come up from the beach. It was like the sound of a faint voice at the end of a mile-long corridor. I urged her to hurry because there was so little time left. She came and at once I felt a great relief as if a great burden had been suddenly lifted from my head.

All the time the cold kept creeping relentlessly up and up, up from my feet, up to my knees, and it grew ever faster and faster until, like the bursting of a dam, it flooded over me and I knew I was dying.

The last feeling I can remember was of immeasurable peace.’

4 July 1958
‘Joy had the foolish idea of trying to drag Elsa by the chain into the car! When it didn’t work, Joy behaved like a lunatic. I went off to shoot meat, got a kongoni. Finally, after much abuse and ill temper from Joy, Elsa came along and without demur jumped into the car.’

Friday, January 29, 2016

Love of humanity

He does not follow a literary impulse; he does not write to please or to delight. He has been compelled to write by his thirst for truth, his need for morality, and his love of humanity. This is a description of Romain Rolland - a major French literary figure born 150 years ago today - on the Nobel Prize website. Though little remembered today in the English-speaking world, he was a principled and outspoken pacifist, engaging with many other intellectuals in the first half of the 20th century. He kept a diary for much of his life, and extracts have been published in various forms, often compiled by theme - WWI, India (he was a great promoter of Gandhi), or a particular person. However, none have found their way into English, except for a few extracts about the German author Herman Hesse.

Rolland was born in Clamecy, central France, on 29 January 1866, but went to study in Paris from age 14. He was admitted to the École Normale Supérieure to study philosophy, but switched to history and became interested in music. After two years in Italy, he published, in 1895, two doctoral theses, one on the origins of modern lyric theatre and the other on the decline of Italian painting in the sixteenth century. Around 1892, he married Clotilde Bréal, although they were divorced by 1901.

Rolland became a teacher in Paris for some years, including at the the newly established music school École des Hautes Études Sociales from 1902 to 1911. In 1903, he was also appointed to the first chair of music history at the Sorbonne. During these years, he was writing and publishing plays, such as Le Triomphe de la raison and Le 14 Juillet - he dreamt of a ‘people’s theatre’, free from the domination of a selfish clique - as well as biographies of Beethoven, Michelangelo, Tolstoy.

Rolland collaborated with Charles Péguy in the journal Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine, through which he published, from 1904 to 1912, his best-known novel, generally considered his masterpiece - Jean-Christophe. It is for Jean-Christophe, largely, that Rolland was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915. According to the Sven Söderman, writing on the Nobel Prize website, ‘this powerful work describes the development of a character in whom we can recognize ourselves. It shows how an artistic temperament, by raising itself step by step, emerges like a genius above the level of humanity; how a powerful nature which has the noblest and most urgent desire for truth, moral health, and artistic purity, with an exuberant love of life, is forced to overcome obstacles that rise up ceaselessly before it; how it attains victory and independence; and how this character and this intelligence are significant enough to concentrate in themselves a complete image of the world.’

Söderman continues: ‘This book does not aim solely at describing the life of the principal hero and his environment. It seeks also to describe the causes of the tragedy of a whole generation; it gives a sweeping picture of the secret labour that goes on in the hidden depths and by which nations, little by little, are enlightened; it covers all the domains of life and art; it contains everything essential that has been discussed or attempted in the intellectual world during the last decades; it achieves a new musical aesthetic; it contains sociological, political and ethnological, biological, literary, and artistic discussions and judgments, often of the highest interest. [. . ] In this work Rolland has not simply followed a literary impulse; he does not write to please or to delight. He has been compelled to write by his thirst for truth, his need for morality, and his love of humanity. [Jean-Christophe . . .] is a combination of thought and poetry, of reality and symbol, of life and dream, which attracts us, excites us, reveals us to ourselves, and possesses a liberating power because it is the expression of a great moral force.’

High praise indeed! By 1914, Rolland had moved to Switzerland to work full-time as a writer - not returning to France until the late 1930s. He was a life-long pacifist, shown through his writings about WWI such as in Au-dessus de la Mêlée. He was a great admirer of Gandhi, and his 1924 book on the Indian leader is said to have contributed to his growing reputation in Europe. In 1928 Rolland collaborated with the Hungarian philosopher Edmund Bordeaux Szekely in founding the International Biogenic Society. In the early 1930s, he married Marie Koudachef, a half-Russian communist who had been his secretary for some years, and who, historians say, was a Stalinist agent charged by Moscow with securing Rolland’s allegiance.

In 1935, Rolland travelled to Moscow on the invitation of Maxim Gorky, and, significantly, gained an audience with Stalin. For years, he went on supporting the leader’s regime against growing evidence of his atrocities, but, as the truth about them became harder to ignore, so Rolland, once again in France, retreated into his work. He became something of a recluse, suffering from ill health and being closely monitored by the Vichy police. He died in late 1944. Further limited information is available in English at Wikipedia and Encyclopædia Britannica, and in French at Association Romain Rolland. Also there are various biographies of Rolland available to preview at Googlebooks: David James Fisher’s Romain Rolland and the Politics of the intellectual Engagement; Stefan Zweig’s Romain Rolland the Man and his Work, and Patrick Wright’s Iron Curtain: From Stage to Cold War.

Throughout his life, Rolland maintained a steady correspondence with many intellectual figures - such as Albert Schweitzer, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Bertrand Russell, and Rabindranath Tagore - much of which was published after his death. He also kept a diary, many extracts from which have also been published posthumously, some in books such as Journal des années de guerre, for example, Inde - Journal 1915-1943, and Journal de Vézelay 1938-1944. A list of other publications with diary extracts can be found in A Critical Bibliography of French Literature at Googlebooks. All of these, though, are in French. The only translated examples of Rolland’s diary material that I can find are in Hermann Hesse & Romain Rolland - Correspondence, diary entries and reflections, 1915 to 1940 translated from the French and German by M. G. Hesse, with an introduction by Pierre Grappin, and published in 1978 by Oswald Wolff, London and Humanities Press, New Jersey.

November 1914
‘An excellent article by the German poet and novelist Hermann Hesse in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung of November 3, entitled “O Freunde, nicht diese Tone!” Since he lives in Switzerland Hesse escapes the German contagion. He addresses himself to writers, artists, and thinkers. He regrets seeing them eagerly participating in the war. In expressing his righteous idea, Hesse probably tends to exaggerate the artist’s duty to remain silent. This harmonizes only too well with the spirit of German docility. If it doesn’t manifest itself in force, it can only conceal its independence within itself. However, I would like to see a thinker from Germany who would resolutely oppose force. Anyway, we have to take men as they are! Hesse is one of the best of his race; and he says many things to which I could subscribe: against writers who arouse hatred; against the humanitarians in peace time who when war breaks out, etc.. Against the war itself, he doesn’t want to say anything. He hopes it will be very violent, so that it will end more quickly. And he recommends the attitude of Goethe “who held himself so marvellously aloof during the great war of independence of his people.” ’

18 February 1915
‘Hermann Hesse publishes in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Abendblatt) an article on a new German review. Die Weissen Blatter of Leipzig, which is reissued after an interruption of several months. Germany’s generation of young poets expresses itself in this journal. Hesse calls attention to their great serenity. One of its contributors, the Alsatian Ernst Stadler, has been killed. A lecturer at the Free University in Brussels, translator and friend of French poets, he was supposed to go to Canada last September to teach. He was thirty years old. Hesse compares the journal’s Europeanism to mine. He doesn’t see in it an isolated exception, but the early flowering of the Europeanism that is latent in the best German youth. Among the most gifted of these young writers, Hesse mentions Werfel, Stemheim, Schickele, Ehrenstein.’

September 1920
‘Hermann Hesse, who has been living for the past two years in Montagnola, above Lugano, comes to dinner (September 26). He is thin, gaunt, clean-shaven, ascetic, severely cut to the bone - like a figure by Hodler. Hesse has gone through an exceptionally severe crisis from which he has emerged - according to him - as a new man. External circumstances have contributed to it - his wife is mentally ill and confined to a hospital; he is reduced to poverty, his children are separated from him and are in schools in northern Switzerland. Hesse lives in complete isolation, and his material existence is reduced to the minimum. Under these circumstances the old principles, implanted in his mind by India and China, which had always attracted him, have developed in an exceptional manner. He maintains he has now attained a state of mind which fully conforms to his Asian ideals and he creates for himself a life that is in harmony with his thinking. He is completely detached from the entire contemporary world, from art, from today’s literature which he regards as a futile game, and especially from politics. He is even detached from almost everything that gives value to life for the modern man: comfort and public esteem. Hesse lives like a wise man from India (even though his ideal is rather the wisdom of China with its cheerful accommodation to life). Hesse claims he is happy. To keep busy and to earn some money, he has taken up painting. He embellishes with sketches the manuscripts of his poems which some collectors buy. Last year he published a work under a pseudonym.’

April 1923
‘Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, whose first part is dedicated to me, is one of the most profound works a European has ever written on (and in the spirit of) Hindu philosophy. When he read it in Lugano,
Kalidas Nag was filled with admiration for Siddhartha. The last fifteen to twenty pages may be added to the treasure of Hindu wisdom. They don’t merely paraphrase it, they complete it. Hesse writes me that none of his other works has been greeted with such absolute silence. His friends haven’t even taken the trouble to thank him for it.’

December 1923
‘A renewed exchange of affectionate letters with Waldemar Bonsels and with Hermann Hesse. My sister and I are going to publish under the Ollendorff imprint some volumes of Hesse’s tales and short stories. Hermann Hesse, who must be close to sixty, is going to marry again. He sends me a beautiful aquarelle which he painted in the Tessin.’

17 September 1933
‘Visited Hermann Hesse in his charming house in Montagnola on the ridge of the Golden Hill above the vineyards and chestnut trees. He had us picked up in a friend’s car. He awaits us with his wife and sister in front of his house. The misfortunes of our time have not marked his face which appears much fresher, calmer, and younger than the last time I saw him (two years ago on the eve of his remarriage). He complains only about his eyes which cause him some concern. Indiscreetly I perceive more anxiety on his wife’s face. She is a brunette with intelligent and attractive features. As far as the sister is concerned, she is a kind, stocky old lady who doesn’t speak, but who listens with an assenting smile. Hesse alludes only briefly at the beginning of our conversation to the afflictions caused by the events in Germany and the passage of emigrants in the Tessin. But throughout the balance of the conversation, Hesse reveals that he is quite detached and ill-informed (he avoids the reality of events that threaten to destroy his fragile mental equilibrium). He readily satisfies himself with the idea that the true German culture will remain safeguarded from the torrent. And he loves to cite the example of a friend, a musicologist who at this very moment is preoccupied with his research in folklore.

Also, in his innermost being Hesse feels utter contempt for Fuhrers - especially Hitler, whom he considers mediocre, but well attuned to the mediocre German sensitivity and therefore chosen by those who manage the whole business. But Hesse declares he is completely detached from his fatherland (which, he adds, he wouldn’t have said, nor felt, during the war of 1914). However, he didn’t have to suffer personally. No measures have been take against him in this respect: he continues to publish in Germany. The letters he receives from his young readers are quite similar to those he received in previous years. Undoubtedly because his public, like him, flees into art and dreams from the pressures of reality. For a year and a half Hesse has been working, but without haste, on a utopian work whose form he is in no hurry to find. [. . .]

His beautiful house and his supporter have shielded him from the need to act - even with his pen. I don’t think that this is good for him. His most substantial artistic activity is his work as aquarellist. He delights in colours. And every day he adds one sheet after another to his collection of landscapes. Last spring Hesse saw Thomas Mann who seems the most contemplative and worthiest among all the great German Emigres. This man who comes perhaps farthest - (for he was basically a great German bourgeois, most attached to the city and the fatherland, and I was harsh toward him in 1914-1915) - will probably have the courage to go furthest along the path of abandoning his former prejudices and convictions. But he will do so only after long and private struggles with his conscience and meditation. When he is strengthened in his convictions, it’s likely that his daily life will conform to them, whatever risks it may involve.’

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Apprentice Hostman and squire

Today marks the 280th anniversary of the birth of Ralph Jackson, a North Yorkshire squire, but who, as a teenager, had been apprenticed as a Hostman. He would not be remembered today but for a personal diary he kept from the age of 13 until just weeks before his death. The diary is rated for its richness of detail concerning a squire’s life in Cleveland, in the second half of the 18th century, but also for facts about a Hostman’s life in the thriving coal trade of Newcastle upon Tyne, and for information about the great explorer James Cook and some of his associates, all known to Jackson.

Jackson, born on 26 January 1736, was one of nine children in a modestly wealthy family of Richmond, North Yorkshire. In his 13th year he was taken to Newcastle upon Tyne to undertake a seven year apprenticeship with a member of the town’s Company of Hostmen. The fraternity, a group of men who acted as hosts to visiting merchants, had received a Royal Charter in 1600, but, by this time, had also acquired exclusive rights to trade coal; and since coal had become more or less the lifeblood of Newcastle, Hostmen enjoyed an elevated social status occupying most positions of authority in the town.

While working as an assistant to his master, the young Jackson was also tutored privately. By his final year as an apprentice, he was already undertaking most of a Hostman’s roles, with the exception of finalising coaling agreements with ships’ captains. On completing his apprenticeship, rather than seeking to become a member of the Company, he returned to Cleveland, in North Yorkshire, to live with his uncle, and help him with his business. When his uncle died, Jackson inherited nearly all his property and business interests. In 1776, he married Mary Lewin. After giving birth to four children, three of whom died in infancy, she also died, in 1781.

Jackson continued to live a relatively uneventful country squire life, becoming a magistrate in 1769, licensing pubs, supervising highway repairs, as well as presiding over criminal proceedings. He died in 1790. He is only remembered today because he kept a regular diary for four decades, full of details about mid-18th century life and society. His brother, George, however, rose to a senior position within the admiralty and became an MP.

There are at least four significant sources of information about Ralph Jackson and his diaries (held by Teeside Archive). Two of these focus on the information his diaries provide about Newcastle upon Tyne and the coal trade; another focuses on Jackson’s contacts with the famous explorer James Cook; and the fourth is linked to the North Yorkshire area in which he lived.

In 2000, the Company of Hostmen of Newcastle upon Tyne published Bound for the Tyne: Extracts from the diary of Ralph Jackson - Apprentice Hostman of Newcastle upon Tyne 1749-1756, as edited by Clifford E. Thornton, ‘to commemorate its quater-centenery 1600-2000 A.D.’ According to Thornton, Jackson’s journal ‘provides an invaluable insight into eighteenth century life in the North-East’. He also adds this comment: ‘Little did Ralph realise when he started his humble diary, that in time it would bring him more fame and attention than he ever received during his life!’

More recently, in 2014, Ashgate has published Peter D. Wright’s book Life on the Tyne - Water Trades on the Lower River Tyne in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, a reappraisal. This is available to preview at Googlebooks and includes a chapter on Jackson and his diary, with many quotes.

The Captain Cook Society hosts a website with a huge amount of information about James Cook, his ships, crews, journeys as well as other ephemera including several extracts from Cook’s journals (see also The Diary Junction). Jackson, it seems, was acquainted with Cook, who also came from Yorkshire, and some of his associates. The website explained, in an introductory blog post, in 1997: ‘During his life Ralph Jackson never achieved anything spectacular, certainly nothing to compare with Cook’s discoveries, however, in the past decade, Ralph has come more and more into prominence in modern Cleveland thanks to the meticulous diary which he kept throughout his life. His hand-made journals, written in his neat copperplate style, provide a unique insight into life in Cleveland in the eighteenth century. The diary describes his personal interests, his business dealings, and his social contacts with people throughout the region. It is these latter entries which reveal many details relevant to James Cook and his associates.’ Several further blog posts followed, all still available on the website, which provide many extracts from the diaries, as well as explanations on Jackson’s links with Cook and his associates.

Finally, the most detailed biographical information about Jackson and the full text of all his diaries can be found on the Great Ayton History Society website - Great Ayton being a village near where Jackson himself lived, and where several of his relations resided. The Society’s introduction to Jackson and the diaries, with portraits of he and his wife, also explains how a group of volunteers transcribed all 600,000 words of the diary, as authentically as possible.


The following extracts are taken from the pamphlet, Bound for the Tyne.

15 October 1750
‘In the forenoon Mr Presswick came up, & I went to the Hill for some potatoes & Horseradish. In the Evening Mr Charlton & the Master that he had built the Ship called the Fame for, sat the Evening. I gave on the Ship for Tamfields Coals, when the were gone we retired to bed betwixt Ten and Eleven.’

11 April 1752
‘In the morning there was a great many Ships sending up, so I went upon the Key and my Master sent me to pay Mr White for putting an advertisement belonging to Sir Ra: Milbank and ask Thompson why he did not put it into his Paper, then I went down to Winkhamlee. In the afternoon I came home, got my dinner and my Mas’ gave me leave to go to the Shd Fd [both ds superscript] with Mrs & Miss Hudspeths to drink Tea at Nellys the Milk wife, came home and play’d at Shittle cock in the Trenity with Billy & Lewis Hick, came home and retired to bed a little after ten.’

22 May 1752
‘In the morning I cleaned my Shoes, after Breakfast I took a walk with Billy & R. Morton upon the Moor and saw soldiers reviewed By General Camdbell, after dinner I drew out the April Vend and carried it to Mr Featherston’s Office. I called at the Post house an at Doctor Hallowell’s Shop where I saw Dicky Cotesworth and he told me his Bror. & Sisters was gone down to Winkhamlee, came home I saw the Man that made Paper cake mix his Paste in the Burnbank, came home and sat in the House till Eleven o’Clock and my Master did not come in, so I retired to bed at ye time.’

28 May 1752
‘In the morning I went upon the Key & saw a fight between 2 or 3 women against one man. Went into my room & got my clean Shirt on and rode down to Winkhamlee upon my Masrs Mair and from thence to Shields & went on board Mr Gallon, the Mary & Jane, to desire he would come up and Clear today, for Friday and Saturday were two Holidays. He came up with me as far as the Waggon way and then I rode down to Winkhamlee. In the evening I went to the Stables with Billy to tell Geo. Wardell’s lad to go down to Shields and then I fetched Billy’s Galloway down for Capn. Clifton to ride on. After I took a walk with Billy and some more to Elsick and got every one 1⁄2 of New Milk.’

1 March 1753
‘In the morning I went to Mary Davison’s and got my Sassifras Tea then I came to our house & got a little milk. After breakfast I went into the Office and wrote some Receipts, ordered the fire Coal deliver’d to sundry people. I took a walk upon the Key & sat in Mr Akenheads shop awhile, after this I went for some fish herbs upon the Sandhill to Mrs Barfields for some Vinegar, I also went into Office and wrote over Mr Cuffley’s Accot., Mr Cuffley & Jno Campion dined at our house. . .’

3 March 1753
‘In the morning I went to Mary’s and got my Tea, then I came in & Copyed over 3 bills into the Books, after I carried them to my Master. He let some ink fall upon one of them and spoiled it so I rode down to Shields upon my Master’s mair, I got Jno Campion to go with me on Board his Bror. where I got the Bill renewed, it was for £30-12s-4d. I came from Shields as I cou’d and got back against dinner time, after dinner I went to old Mr Ackenheads & passed the above Bill to him, I brot. the money to my Master and went down to the Cann hos. till Jno. Paid the Keelmen, then I came away and came into the Office were I did a good deal of my Master’s business . . . I sat up with Billy till my Master came in, after he came in he smoaked a pipe for he was a little in Liquor . . .’

4 December 1756
‘This day my Seventh years Bond expires allowing the Eleven days also for the Alteration of the Stile in 1752 [change in the calendar]. I went with Mr Ord to Mr Winds in Pilgrom Street & bespoke a Supp: for Seven of my Acquaintances against Monday night first. I finish’d copying out my Masters Cash Book into that I keep. I walk’d to Elswick with the two Miss Hudspeths & Miss Meuris where we drank Tea, this is my foye with them.’

21 April 1763
‘London - my Bro. Geo. Jackson went with me to Mr Geo. James’ Limner in Dean Street. I sat to him at my Bro. Wilson’s request for my picture.’

The Diary Junction


Thirst after grandeur

‘What a delightful sight it is, after a shower of rain, to see the dear Women tripping along and tucking their drapery round their lovely hips, now & then giving one a glimpse of a lovely ankle & part of a full leg.’ This is Benjamin Haydon, an English painter born 230 years ago today. He was an artist with a significant talent, but his allegiance to 18th century trends, especially historical subjects, meant he was swimming against the Romantic tide, one which would make household names of William Blake and J. M. W. Turner. Chronic financial difficulties compounded his artistic frustrations, and he rarely managed to live within his means, especially after he had married and had children. His story is a sad one, but his characterful diary - initially published in five volumes - is superb because it not only tells us much about the man, but also gives picturesque insights into London life, whether the art and literary scene, chasing after girls or the trials of a day out with his family.

The following is a chapter on Benjamin Haydon taken from my (as yet) unpublished book London in Diaries (see The Diary Review for more about this).

Benjamin Haydon and his thirst after grandeur

Though thriving in the early 19th century, the London art scene was very much in flux. Painters associated with the Romantic movement - William Blake, John Constable and J. M. W. Turner - were moving away from classicism and its focus on history favoured by, among others, Sir Joshua Reynolds, first president of the Royal Academy, and popular interest was moving with them.

Benjamin Haydon, an ambitious young painter from the west country, arrived into this cauldron of change, his heart set on following in Reynolds’ footsteps, and re-establishing a grandeur of British art through historical painting. He wrote in his autobiography, ‘I thought only of LONDON - Sir Joshua - Drawing - Dissection and High Art.’ Unfortunately, Haydon’s life in London was to be beset with frustrations and difficulties, both artistic and financial, which would eventually lead him to take his own life. Today, his autobiographical writing and especially his diaries have saved him from obscurity, for they demonstrate an immense vitality of feeling and observation. They give brilliant insights into aspects of London, from its literary world - he was friends with the Romantic poets - to the trials of a day out to Gravesend with his family.

Haydon was born in Plymouth [on 26 January] in 1786. His father worked as a bookseller/publisher, and his mother was the daughter of a priest. He was schooled locally, but the relationship with his father, who had very different ideas for his career, was always strained. In 1804, he escaped to London. Initially thinking he would study alone, he soon became drawn into the Royal Academy, in particular through its recently-appointed keeper, Henry Fuseli. Aged 21, Haydon exhibited for the first time. The painting - Joseph and Mary Resting on the Road to Egypt - sold for £105. Two years later, he finished The Assassination of L. S. Dentatus, which sold for twice as much. Although it increased his fame, it also resulted in a lifelong quarrel with the Academy, which, he felt, had failed to hang it with sufficient prominence. An allowance from his father ceased in 1810, leading Haydon to start borrowing money, a habit that dogged him for the rest of his life. During the 1810s, he travelled to Paris and studied for a short while at the Louvre. Works such as Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem and The Raising of Lazarus followed, but so did his first arrest for debt.

In 1821, Haydon married Mary Hyman, a young widow with whom he had fallen in love some years earlier. Mary already had two children, and she bore eight more, although only three of these, including Haydon’s first born Frank, survived beyond childhood. In debt again, he was sent to prison for the first time in 1823 - other incarcerations followed at regular intervals. One of his most well-known paintings, from this time, The Mock Election, shows those in jail imitating an election taking place outside. King George IV gave him £500 for the work.

When not in prison or working on commissions, Haydon began to tour the country lecturing on painting and promoting his idea that important buildings should be decorated with historical representations of glory. In the late 1830s, he published a substantial essay - Painting and the Fine Arts - and soon after began writing his autobiography. This was edited by Tom Taylor in three volumes and published posthumously, in 1853. Today, it is considered one of Haydon’s most important achievements. 

Haydon continued to paint in the 1840s, sometimes very large pictures, like The Maid of Saragossa and The Anti-Slavery Convention, but his style was already long out of fashion, and he was chronically frustrated at the lack of public interest in his work. In May 1846, an exhibition he had organised closed with the loss of a considerable sum; a few days later a friend reneged over a promise of a £1,000 loan; and, on 22 June, he bought a gun and shot himself. The wound failed to kill him and left him conscious, so he resorted to a razor to cut his throat. A note to his wife said: ‘Pardon this last pang, many thou has suffered from me; God bless thee in dear widowhood. I hope Sir Robert Peel will consider I have earned a pension for thee. A thousand kisses. Thy husband & love to the last.’

Haydon began keeping a diary in 1808, and continued the practice throughout his life, the very last entry being on the day of his suicide. This diary was first quoted extensively in the three volume autobiography edited by Taylor, but publication of the complete text had to wait until the 1960s when Harvard University Press published five volumes, carefully edited and annotated by Willard Bissel Pope. In 1960, the Keats-Shelley Journal reviewing the diary called Haydon the only English romantic, not excepting Byron, to parallel ‘the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau’; and said of him that ‘a great writer was lost’ because again and again his sketches were more vivid than his novelistic contemporaries.

A more accessible collection of extracts from Haydon’s diary were edited by John Joliffe and published by Hutchinson in 1990 under the title, Neglected Genius: The Diaries of Benjamin Robert Haydon 1808-1846. ‘His violent self-righteousness,’ Joliffe says, ‘may have frustrated most of his aims, but his sheer vitality and his quite exceptional powers of observation and description make him an irresistible subject.’

The capital of the world
14 May 1809
I began to study in London in lodgings in the Strand, 342, May 20th, 1804, and studied night [and] day, till I brought a weakness in my eyes, which obstructed me for 6 weeks. In January, 1805, I first entered the Academy. March, went into Devonshire, where I obtained bones from a Surgeon of Plymouth and drew nothing else for three months; returned to the Academy in July; met [David] Wilkie [Scottish painter] there first time. Studied incessantly, sitting up many nights, shattered myself so much obliged to leave off. Went into Devonshire for the recovery of health. Began to paint after two years’ application to Anatomy & Drawing, May, 1806. Commenced my first picture, October 1st, and finished it March 31st, 1807. Went into Devonshire for 6 months. Studied heads from Nature. Came to town. My dear Mother died at Salt Hill. January 1st, 1808, commenced by second Picture, Dentatus.

11 July 1810
In passing Piccadilly I observed in some horses galloping the various positions of their limbs - what was the position of the fore legs when the hind legs were in such a position, &c - it is astonishing how truly you get at their motions by thus scrutinizing; I made some sketches, after I arrived home, and they seemed to spring and had all the variety I could possibly wish - and such a look of Nature and activity!

9 September 1810
I walked to see Wilkie yesterday to Hampstead; as I returned about four o’clock the Sun was on the decline - and all the valley as I looked from Primrose Hill wore the appearance of happiness & Peace. Ladies glittering in white, with their aerial drapery floating to the gentle breeze, children playing in the middle of the fields, and all the meadows were dotted with cows, grazing with their long shadows streamed across the grass engoldened by the setting Sun. Here was a mower intent on his pursuit, with his white shirt and brown arms illumined in brilliancy; there another, resting one hand on his Scythe, and with the other wetting it with tinkling music - some people were lying, others standing - all animate & inanimate nature seemed to enjoy and contribute to this delicious scene, while behind stood the capital of the World, with its hundred spires - and St Paul’s in the midst towering in the silent air with splendid magnificence.

A delicious tumble in Greenwich
30 November 1812
Went to the House of Lords to hear the Prince open Parliament in State. It was a very grand affair - the beautiful women - educated, refined, graceful, with their bending plumes & sparkling eyes - the Nobility, the Chancellor - I could not help reflecting how long it was before society arrived at such a pitch of peace & quietness, that order & regulation such as I witnessed existed. What tumult, what blood, what contention, what suffering, what error, before experience has ascertained what was to be selected, or what rejected.

25 April 1813
I felt this morning an almost irresistible inclination to go down to Greenwich and have delicious tumble with the Girls over the hills. I fancied a fine, beamy, primy, fresh, green spring day (as it was), a fine creature in a sweet, fluttering, clean drapery, with health rosing her shining cheeks, & love melting in her sparkling eyes, with a bending form ready to leap into your arms. After a short struggle, I seized my brush, knowing the consequences of yielding to my disposition, & that tho’ it might begin today, it would not end with it.

A critique of Sir Joshua’s exhibition
8 May 1813
Sir Joshua’s exhibition opened. The first impression on my mind was certainly that of flimsiness. They looked faint, notwithstanding the effect was so judiciously arranged. Sir Joshua’s modes of conveying ideas were colour & light and shadow; of form, he knew nothing. The consequence was he hinted to his eye & untrained hand, and with great labour & bungling, modeled out his feelings with a floating richness, an harmonious depth, and a gemmy brilliancy that was perhaps encreased by his perpetual repetitions, and which renders him as great a master of colour as ever lived. Of poetical conception of character as it regards Portrait, he had a singular share. How delightful are his Portraits, their artless simplicity, their unstudied grace, their chaste dignity, their retired sentiment command us, enchant us, subdue us.

The exhibition does great credit to the Directors of the British Gallery. It will have a visible effect on Art; it will raise the character of the English School; it will stop that bigotted, deluded, absurd propensity for Leonardo Da Vincis & insipid Corregios, and as men who shared Sir J’s friendship and been soothed by his manners, it does credit to their hearts as men.

6 August 1815
What a delightful sight it is, after a shower of rain, to see the dear Women tripping along and tucking their drapery round their lovely hips, now & then giving one a glimpse of a lovely ankle & part of a full leg.

Nature in the park; marbles in the museum
2 June 1816
I rode yesterday to Hampton Court round by Kingston & dined at Richmond. The day is delicious, the hedges smelling of may blossom, the trees green, the leaves full & out, the Thames shining with a silvery glitter, & a lovely girl who loves you, [in] the dining room of the Star & Garter at Richmond, sitting after dinner on your knee, with her heavenly bosom palpitating against your own, her arm round your neck playing with your hair, while you are sufficiently heated to be passionately alive to the ecstasy without having lost your senses from its excesses - Claret on the table and the delicious scene of Nature in Richmond Park beneath your open window, moaty, sunny, out of which rises the wandering voice of the cuckoo, while the sun, who throws a silent splendour over all, sinks into the lower vaults & the whole sky is beginning to assume the tinged lustre of an afternoon.

28 May 1817
On Monday last there were one thousand and two people visited the Elgin marbles! a greater number than ever visited the British Museum since it was established. It is quite interesting to listen to the remarks of the people. They make them with the utmost simplicity, with no affectation of taste, but with a homely truth that shews they are sound at the core. We overheard two common looking decent men say to each other, ‘How broken they, a’ant they?’ ‘Yes,’ said the other, ‘but how like life.’

28 June 1817
Dined at Kemble’s farewell dinner [the actor John Philip Kemble had played his last stage role, Corialanus, a few days earlier, his retirement having been hastened, perhaps, by the rise in popularity of Edmund Kean]. A more complete farce was never acted. Many, I daresay, regretted his leaving us, but the affectations of all parties disgusted me. The Drury Lane actors flattering the Covent Garden, the Covent Garden flattered in turn the Drury Lane. Lord Holland flattered Kemble; Kemble flattered Lord Holland. [. . .] Anyone would have thought that the English Stage had taken its origin from Kemble - Garrick was never mentioned - when all that Kemble has done for it has been to improve the costume. Yet Kemble is really & truly the Hero of all ranting; all second rate ability find it much easier to imitate his droning regularity than the furious impulses of Kean, who cannot point out when they come or why, but is an organ for Nature, when she takes it in her head to play on him.

Of Walter Scott and Wordsworth; and Keats in Kilburn meadows
7 March 1821
Sir Walter Scott breakfasted with me with Lamb, & Wilkie, and a delightful morning we had. I never saw any man have such an effect on company as he; he operated on us like champagne & whisky mixed. It is singular how success & want of it operate on two extraordinary men, Wordsworth & Walter Scott. Scott enters a room & sits at table, with the coolness & self possession of conscious fame; Wordsworth with an air of mortified elevation of head, as if fearful he was not estimated as he deserved. Scott is always cool, & amusing; Wordsworth often egotistical and overbearing. [. . .] Scott’s success would have made Wordsworth insufferable, while Wordsworth’s failures would not have rendered Scott a bit less delightful.

29 March 1821
Keats is gone too! [A few weeks earlier, Haydon had written of the death of John Scott, editor of the London Magazine, after a duel.] He died at Rome, Feby. 23rd, aged 25. Poor Keats - a genius more purely poetical never existed. [. . .]

The death of his brother [in December 1818] wounded him deeply, and it appeared to me from that hour he began seriously to droop. He wrote at this time his beautiful ode to the nightingale. ‘Where Youth grows pale & spectre thin & dies!’ - alluded to his poor Brother.

As we were walking along the Kilburn meadows, he repeated this beautiful ode, with a tremulous undertone, that was extremely affecting! I was attached to Keats, & he had great enthusiasm for me. I was angry because he would not bend his great powers to some definite object, & always told him so. Latterly he grew angry because I shook my head at his irregularity, and told him he was destroying himself.

The last time I saw him was at Hampstead, lying in a white bed with a book, hectic, weak, & on his back, irritable at his feebleness, and wounded at the way he had been used; he seemed to be going out of the world with a contempt for this and no hopes of the other.

Gorgeous splendour of ancient chivalry
21 July 1821
What a scene was Westminster Hall on Thursday last! It combined all the gorgeous splendour of ancient chivalry with the intense heroic interest of modern times; every thing that could effect or excite, either in beauty, heroism, grace, elegance, or taste; all that was rich in colour, gorgeous in effect, touching in association, English in character or Asiatic in magnificence, was crowded into this golden & enchanted hall!

I only got my ticket on Wednesday at two, and dearest Mary & I drove about to get all I wanted. Sir George Beaumont lent me ruffles & frill, another a blue velvet coat, a third a sword; I bought buckles, & the rest I had, and we returned to dinner exhausted. [. . .] I dressed, breakfasted, & was at the Hall Door at half past one. Three Ladies were before me. The doors opened about four & I got a front place in the Chamberlain’s box, between the door and Throne, & saw the whole room distinctly. Many of the door keepers were tipsey; quarrels took place. The sun began to light up the old gothic windows, the peers to stroll in, & the company to crowd in, of all descriptions; elegant young men tripping along in silken grace with elegant girls trembling in feathers and diamonds. Some took seats they had not any right to occupy, and were obliged to leave them after sturdy disputes. Others lost their tickets. Every movement, as the time approached for the King’s appearance, was pregnant with interest. The appearance of the Monarch has something the air of a rising sun; there are indications which announce his approach, a whisper of mystery turns all eyes to the throne! Suddenly two or three run; others fall back; some talk, direct, hurry, stand still, or disappear. Then three or four of high rank appear from behind the Throne; and interval is left; the crowds scarce breathe! The room rises with a sort of feathered, silken thunder! Plumes wave, eyes sparkle, glasses are out, mouths smile. The way in which the King bowed was really monarchic! As he looked towards the Peeresses & Foreign Ambassadors, he looked like some gorgeous bird of the East.

After all the ceremonies he arose, the Procession was arranged, the Music played, and the line began to move. All this was exceedingly imposing. After two or three hours’ waiting, the doors opened, and the flower girls entered, strewing flowers. The exquisite poetry of their look, the grace of their actions, their slow movement, their white dresses, were indescribably touching; their light milky colour contrasted with the dark shadow of the archway. The distant trumpets & shouts of the people, the slow march, and at last the appearance of the King under a golden canopy, crowned, and the universal burst of the assembly at seeing him, affected every body.

A crowd of feelings but I cannot write
4 December 1821
I am married! Ah, what a crowd of feelings lie buried in that little word. I cannot write or think for the present. I thank God for at last bringing me to the arms of the only creature that ever made my heart burn really, & I hope he will bless me with health & understanding & means to make her happy & blessed. Dearest, dearest Mary - I cannot write.

17 September 1826
Walked into a delicious meadow, and sat down on an old stump behind some hay ricks, my back turned on the Edgware road. It was a beautiful seclusion; just after passing the Turnpike near West End Lane, you turn down a lane which leads to the Harrow road; about a dozen yards on the left is a style, & close to the style hay ricks & a fallen stump. Here I sat and read Xenophon’s treatise on riding & Cavalry exercise, in a French translation, which decidedly proves the Greeks did not shoe their Horses, as he gives instructions how to get the hoof so firm that it shall resist injury successfully.

London Bridge is opening
1 August 1831
Went to see the King’s procession to open the London Bridge, by particular desire, that is, of Master Frank, Alfred, Frederick, Harry, & Mary Haydon, not forgetting Mrs Mary Haydon the Elder. Well, I went, to the gallery of St Paul’s, and after waiting about 5 hours, a little speck with a flag and another little speck with a flag, and another speck in which I saw ten white specks, and 6 red & yellow specks, came by, & immediately 200,000 specks uttered a shout I could just hear, and some specks waved handkerchiefs, & other specks raised hats, and this, they said, was the King, and directly a little round ball went up in the air and that, they said, was an air balloon, and then they all shouted, and Mrs Mary Haydon the Elder had a pain in her stomach, and Master Frederick wanted to drink, and Miss Mary said she was faint, and Master Frank Haydon said, ‘is this all?’ - and Mr Haydon said he was very hot, and then they went down an infinite number of dark stairs and got into a coach & drove home, & each fell asleep and this was pleasure. Now if Mr Haydon had gone to work with his Xenophon, neither Master or Mrs or Mr Haydon would have had a pain in their bellies and Mr Haydon’s Back-ground would have been done, and his Conscience would have been quiet, & now he has spent 1.18.6 to get a pain in his belly, and has the pain without the money - and this is pleasure.

18 November 1831
This day my dear little child Fanny died, at 1/2 past one in the forenoon, aged 2 years, 8 months, & 12 days being born on March 6th, 1829. Dear Little Soul, she had water in the head, all the consequences of weakness & deranged digestion, and was one of those conceived creatures, born when the Mother has hardly any strength from the effects of a previous confinement. Good God! She never spoke, or was not able to utter syllable, & never walked. Reader, whoever thou are, shrink not from Death with apprehension. Death was the greatest mercy an Almighty could grant.

For this earthly happiness I paid 2.12.6
1 September 1838
Went to Gravesend with my family for a day of relief & pleasure. First we got into an Omnibus & were jolted & suffocated [to] the Bank. Second the Steamer at the Bridge had just gone. Third we had to wait amongst the Porters & Packages 3/4 of an hour for the next. 4th we got on board the sunny side in a cabin, close to the Boiler, & were alternately baked by the sun & broiled by the steam pipe. Fifth we got to Gravesend tired & hungry. 6th we walked to a romantic love lane, which was a garden straight walk with dirty wooden seats, and sundry evidences that people in Gravesend had good digestions & sound peristaltic motion. 7th we ordered Roast Beef for Dinner, and my dear Mary kept her appetite to enjoy a hearty meal, when the Landlord put down lamb she hated  & so did I. 8th we had rum as hot as aqua-fortis, & then old port as weak as children pap. We all got aboard with indigestion. I fell asleep on Deck & got a pain in my head, and we got home tired, grumbling, ill humoured, had tea & crept to bed.

Today I am heated, discontented, & indignant, & it will take 24 hours more to recover in. For this earthly happiness I paid 2.12.6. - enough to feed us for a week! - so much for pleasure.

20 May 1846
Continually attending to Exhibitions is dreadful and if you do not, you get robbed. These things an Artist should have nothing to do with; details of business injure my mind and when I paint I feel as if Nectar was floating in the Interstices of the brain. God be praised, I have painted today.

22 June 1846
God forgive - me - Amen. Finis of B R Haydon ‘Stretch me no longer on this tough World’ - Lear. End.

The Diary Junction

Monday, January 18, 2016

Something of myself

The English writer Rudyard Kipling, who died 80 years ago today, left behind a treasure of much-loved stories and poems, such as The Jungle Book, Kim and If. But, he didn’t leave much autobiographical material - hating the idea of biographers churning over his life - and what diary material has survived is thanks to chance rather than purpose: one diary from 1885, when he was working as a journalist in India, and several notebooks he kept while on motoring tours. In addition, and of much use to biographers, are surviving partial transcripts of the daily diary kept by Kipling’s American wife, Carrie, the originals of which were destroyed by the Kiplings’ daughter Elsie.

Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865. He was named after Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire near where his parents had met and courted. Aged five he was taken, with his younger sister Alice, to live with a couple in Southsea, who boarded children of British nationals serving in India, and they remained there for six years. Alice returned to India, while Rudyard was admitted to the United Services College at Westward Ho!. In 1882, he, too, returned to India - his parents lacking the resources to send him to Oxford, and doubting his academic ability to win a scholarship - where his father, in Lahore by this time, secured him a job as assistant editor of a local newspaper, the Civil and Military Gazette, published six days a week. This suited Kipling, whose need to write (journalism, poetry, short stories), apparently, was unstoppable. In the late 1880s, he moved to Allahabad to work for The Pioneer, though was discharged in 1889 after a dispute. He published a first collection of his poems as Departmental Ditties in 1886, and a first prose collection, Plain Tales from the Hills, in Calcutta in early 1888.

Determined on a literary career, Kipling returned to London, visiting Japan and North America on the way. He published several short stories, and a novel, and also took another tour, this one to South Africa and the antipodes. In early 1892, in London, he married the American Carrie Balestier, and they settled in Vermont where their two daughters (Elsie and Josephine) were born. During the next four years, he wrote several books of short stories (not least The Jungle Book and its sequel), a further novel and much poetry. But, in 1896, the Kiplings left the US - partly because of an increase in perceived anti-British feeling and partly because of a dispute with Carrie’s family - to return to England, where they first lived in Torquay, Devon, then Rottingdean and, finally, in a house called Bateman’s in Burwash, Sussex. A third child, John, was born to the Kiplings in 1897. And from 1898, for a decade, the family travelled every winter to South Africa (where they were given a house by Cecil Rhodes) - except for 1899. That year, the Kiplings sailed to America, so Carrie could see her mother, but the journey across the Atlantic was very hard, and Kipling and Josephine both fell seriously ill. Josephine did not survive.

By this time, Kipling was famous. He continued writing short stories and novels, producing Kim and the Just So Stories soon after the turn of the century, as well as songs and poems (such as If, published in 1910). In 1907, after turning down other honours, including a knighthood, he accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature. With the onset of war, Kipling supported the fight against Germany, and even helped his son, who had eyesight problems, get enlisted. However, John went missing within a few weeks, and his body was never recovered. Devastated, Kipling continued to write after the war, but never returned to the bright colourful children’s stories he had once so delighted in; indeed, his conservative and imperialist views fell out of fashion, and his writing too. He died in London on 18 January 1936. His ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner, next to the graves of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. Further information can be found at Wikipedia, The Kipling Society, the BBC, Encyclopædia Britannica or The Poetry Foundation.

Kipling was apt to destroy many of his personal papers, disliking the idea of biographers churning over his life; his wife, Carrie, and daughter, Elsie Bambridge, took a similar view. Only a few diaries kept by Kipling have survived by chance: one from when he was young in 1885, and a set of notebooks he kept while on motoring holidays later in his life. Carrie, kept a daily diary from 1892 until her husband’s death. Although the originals were destroyed by Bambridge, two biographers, Charles Carrington and Lord Birkenhead, had already made extensive notes and transcribed parts of the diary. These are held by the University of Sussex’s Kipling archive at The Keep, but The Kipling Society also has copies (and has made them available online, with an index), as well as a detailed explanation of how the transcripts came to be made.

Biographers have made good use of the 1885 diary - see Andrew Lycett’s Rudyard Kipling, for example - but the full text can be found in Rudyard Kipling: Something of Myself and Other Autobiographical Writings edited by Thomas Pinney, Cambridge University Press, 1991, available to preview at Googlebooks. (Something of Myself is a rare autobiographical text, started by Kipling in the last months of his life but not properly finished - Carrie edited it for publication.) Here are several extracts of the 1885 diary included in that Pinney edition.

28 January 1885
‘Scraps on Accidents on Indian Railways, The Dynamitard’s attempts at Westminster and Hume’s vegetarianism. About one column altogether. An easy day as far as the paper was concerned; there being plenty of matter in hand and not much proofwork.’

13 February 1885
‘Scrap. Musketry schools. Annotated Prejvalsky’s explorations in Thibet - and rec’d bellew’s Sanitary Report for notes of the week. Typhoid at home went in today: Mem scrap on Rai Kanega Lall and design for town hall must be done tomorrow.’

25 February 1885
‘Sting of yesterday blinded me couldn’t see. Went to hospital Lawrie came over about mid day and looked at it. Attention more occupied by blain of my face. Must come to hospital tomorrow and see how cocaine works. Did not to go office.’

26 February 1885
‘Eye all right. W said it wasn’t and so lost my work for the day - served him right. Went to hospital [?] cocaine and was impressed. To Cinderella in the evening and was impresseder.’

6 April 1885
‘No bank holiday for me. Special of three columns on review. Fine weather at last but I must shut up with a click before long. Too little sleep and too much seen.’

1 May 1885
‘On the road to Kotgur. May day at Mahasu inexpressibly lovely. Lay on the grass and felt health coming back, again. De brath a delightful man. What a blessed luxury is idleness. Eagles and shot at bottles.’

21 August 1885
‘Dinner with Tarleton Young at his chummery. Where met one LeMaistre who is a womans mind small and mean featured. He may be decent enough for aught I know. Usual philander in Gardens. Home to count the risks of my resolution.’

Transcripts of Kipling’s diaries of his motor tours, around 100 pages, are held in the archive at The Keep. The original notebooks were thought lost, at least until found in a dusty drawer at Macmillan (see The Daily Telegraph). An excellent article by Meryl Macdonald Bendle, a first cousin once removed of Kipling, in the June 2003 edition (number 306) of the Kipling Journal, uses the notebooks to describe the history of Kipling’s motoring tours. A generous selection of extracts from the diaries, though, can be found in earlier editions of the Journal, such as in one from March 1985 (number 233).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Founding Father Franklin

Today marks the 310th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin. From humble origins, he not only became a very wealthy businessmen, but also a scientist of distinction, postmaster to American colonies, an international statesman and one of the founding fathers of the United States - in short a giant of 18th century American history. He wrote much and often through his life, but not often in diary form - a brief journal of a journey by ship when he was returning from England for the first time as a young man, and no more than fragments later in his life.

Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 17 January 1706, one of 10 children born to Josiah Franklin with his second wife, Abiah Folger. He attended Boston Latin School briefly, but went to work for his father very young, at age 12 being apprenticed to his brother James, a printer. In 1721, James founded The New-England Courant, an independent newspaper. When told he couldn’t write letters for publication in the paper, Franklin adopted the pseudonym of Mrs. Silence Dogood, a middle-aged widow, whose letters were published. When his brother was jailed for a few weeks, he took over the newspaper and had Mrs. Dogood (quoting Cato’s Letters) proclaim: ‘Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.’

Aged still only 17, he absconded from his apprenticeship, running away to Philadelphia where he worked in printing shops. He caught the attention of the Pennsylvania Governor Sir William Keith who offered to help him set up a new newspaper if he went to London to acquire the necessary printing equipment. But, having made the journey, he soon found Keith had failed to deliver any letters of credit or introductions. He found employment with a printer, and enjoyed much of what London had to offer. Eventually, with the promise of a clerkship from the merchant Thomas Denham, he returned to Philadelphia in 1726. Aged 21, he launched Junto, a discussion group whose members sought ways to help improve their community - the idea was, in part, based on his experience of English coffee houses. One of the group’s early ventures was to set up a subscription library, which, in time, became the Library Company of Philadelphia.

On Denham’s death, Franklin formed a partnership with a friend, in 1728, setting up a new printing house. Within a couple of years, though, he had borrowed money to buy his partner out, and to become sole proprietor. One of the company’s first successes was to win an order to print all of Pennsylvania’s paper currency, a business it would soon secure in other colonies too. The company invested in further profitable ventures, including the Pennsylvania Gazette, published by Franklin from 1729 and generally acknowledged as among the best of the colonial newspapers, and Poor Richard’s Almanack, printed annually from 1732 to 1757. Franklin’s business ventures spread, as he developed franchises and partnerships with other printers in the Carolinas, New York and the British West Indies.

In 1730, Franklin entered into a common-law marriage with Deborah Read. He had known her since she was 15 and he 17, and, before leaving for London, had promised to marry her. However, while in London, she married a man who had then fled the country, leaving her unable to remarry. Franklin brought with him to the union an illegitimate son, and he had a further two children with Deborah, though one of them died in childhood. By the late 1940s, Franklin was a very wealthy man, and decided to retire from any direct involvement in business and to become a Gentleman, occupying himself with various cultural pursuits, not least science experiments. He is credited with a number of innovations in the field of electricity, such as the Franklin stove and the lightning rod, as well as demonstrating that lightning and electricity are identical.

In 1753, Franklin moved directly into public service as deputy postmaster for the Colonies, a position he held for over 20 years. However, from 1757 until 1774, he lived in London (apart from a two year return to Philadelphia in 1762-1764) where he acted as the colonial representative for Pennsylvania in a dispute over lands held by the Penn family. Deborah having remained in America, he and William resided with a widow, Margaret Stevenson, near Charing Cross, and mixed in elevated social circles. Very much a royalist (he managed to get his son William appointed royal governor of New Jersey), he was at pains to bridge the growing divide between Britain and her colonies, and is said to have written over 100 newspaper articles between 1765 and 1775 trying to explain each side to the other.

On his return to America, the War of Independence had already broken out. In 1776, he helped to draft, and was then a signatory to, the Declaration of Independence. William, however, remained loyal to Britain, causing a rift that lasted for the rest of Franklin’s life. Later that year, Franklin and two others were appointed to represent America in France. He negotiated the Franco-American Alliance which provided for military cooperation between the two countries against Britain, and he ensured significant French subsidies to America. In 1783, as American ambassador to France, Franklin signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the American War of Independence. Having been very loved, and very happy in France, he returned, once again, to America in 1785, but received only a lukewarm welcome. He died in 1790.

Encyclopædia Britannica gives this assessment of the man: ‘Franklin was not only the most famous American in the 18th century but also one of the most famous figures in the Western world of the 18th century; indeed, he is one of the most celebrated and influential Americans who has ever lived. Although one is apt to think of Franklin exclusively as an inventor, as an early version of Thomas Edison, which he was, his 18th-century fame came not simply from his many inventions but, more important, from his fundamental contributions to the science of electricity. If there had been a Nobel Prize for Physics in the 18th century, Franklin would have been a contender. Enhancing his fame was the fact that he was an American, a simple man from an obscure background who emerged from the wilds of America to dazzle the entire intellectual world. Most Europeans in the 18th century thought of America as a primitive, undeveloped place full of forests and savages and scarcely capable of producing enlightened thinkers. Yet Franklin’s electrical discoveries in the mid-18th century had surpassed the achievements of the most sophisticated scientists of Europe. Franklin became a living example of the natural untutored genius of the New World that was free from the encumbrances of a decadent and tired Old World - an image that he later parlayed into French support for the American Revolution.’ Further biographical information is readily available at Wikipedia, the BBC, US History, PBS, or Franklin’s own autobiography.

Franklin wrote many texts through his life, not least his autobiography which has been published and republished often. One version, readily available at Internet Archive, is The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - the Unmutilitated and Correct Version Compiled and Edited with Notes by John Bigelow published by G. P. Putnam’s & Sons in 1916. This edition includes one of the rather few Franklin diaries - the Benjamin Franklin Journal of a voyage from England to Philadelphia 1726. The same text can be sourced elsewhere online, at American History, and the Online Library of Liberty (where it can be found in the first of 12 volumes of The Works of Benjamin Franklin).

Here are several extracts from that diary.

22 July 1726
‘Yesterday in the afternoon we left London, and came to an anchor off Gravesend about eleven at night. I lay ashore all night, and this morning took a walk up to the Windmill Hill, from whence I had an agreeable prospect of the country for above twenty miles round, and two or three reaches of the river, with ships and boats sailing both up and down, and Tilbury Fort on the other side, which commands the river and passage to London. This Gravesend is a cursed biting place; the chief dependence of the people being the advantage they make of imposing upon strangers. If you buy anything of them, and give half what they ask, you pay twice as much as the thing is worth. Thank God, we shall leave it tomorrow.’

23 July 1726
‘This day we weighed anchor and fell down with the tide, there being little or no wind. In the afternoon we had a fresh gale, that brought us down to Margate, where we shall lie at anchor this night. Most of the passengers are very sick. Saw several porpoises, &c.’

24 July 1726
‘This morning we weighed anchor, and coming to the Downs, we set our pilot ashore at Deal, and passed through. And now, whilst I write this, sitting upon the quarterdeck, I have methinks one of the pleasantest scenes in the world before me. Tis a fine, clear day, and we are going away before the wind with an easy, pleasant gale. We have near fifteen sail of ships in sight, and I may say in company. On the left hand appears the coast of France at a distance, and on the right is the town and castle of Dover, with the green hills and chalky cliffs of England, to which we must now bid farewell. Albion, farewell!’

27 July 1726
‘This morning, the wind blowing very hard at West, we stood in for the land, in order to make some harbour. About noon we took on board a pilot out of a fishing shallop, who brought the ship into Spithead off Portsmouth. The captain, Mr. Denham, and myself went on shore, and, during the little time we stayed, I made some observations on the place.


Portsmouth has a fine harbour. The entrance is so narrow that you may throw a stone from Fort to Fort; yet it is near ten fathom deep, and bold close to; but within there is room enough for five hundred, or, for aught l know, a thousand sail of ships. The town is strongly fortified, being encompassed with a high wall and a deep and broad ditch, and two gates, that are entered over drawbridges; besides several forts, batteries of large cannon, and other outworks, the names of which I know not, nor had I time to take so strict a view as to be able to describe them. In war time, the town has a garrison of 10,000 men; but at present ’tis only manned by about 100 Invalids. Notwithstanding the English have so many fleets of men-of-war at sea at this time, I counted in this harbour above thirty sail of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Rates, that lay by unrigged, but easily fitted out upon occasion, all their masts and rigging lying marked and numbered in storehouses at hand. The King’s yards and docks employ abundance of men, who, even in peace time, are constantly building and refitting men-of-war for the King’s Service.

Gosport lies opposite to Portsmouth, and is near as big, if not bigger; but, except the fort at the mouth of the harbour, and a small outwork before the main street of the town, it is only defended by a mud wall, which surrounds it, and a trench or dry ditch of about ten feet depth and breadth. Portsmouth is a place of very little trade in peace time; it depending chiefly on fitting out men-of-war. Spithead is the place where the Fleet commonly anchor, and is a very good riding-place. The people of Portsmouth tell strange stories of the severity of one Gibson, who was governor of this place in the Queen’s time, to his soldiers, and show you a miserable dungeon by the town gate, which they call Johnny Gibson’s Hole, where, for trifling misdemeanors, he used to confine his soldiers till they were almost starved to death. It is a common maxim, that, without severe discipline, ’tis impossible to govern the licentious rabble of soldiery. I own, indeed, that if a commander finds he has not those qualities in him that will make him beloved by his people, he ought, by all means, to make use of such methods as will make them fear him, since one or the other (or both) is absolutely necessary; but Alexander and Caesar, those renowned generals, received more faithful service, and performed greater actions, by means of the love their soldiers bore them, than they could possibly have done, if, instead of being beloved and respected, they had been hated and feared by those they commanded.’

4 October 1726
‘Last night we struck a dolphin and this morning we found a flying-fish dead under the windlass. He is about the bigness of a small mackerel, a sharp head, a small mouth, and a tail forked somewhat like a dolphin, but the lowest branch much larger and longer than the other, and tinged with yellow. His back and sided of a darkish blue, his belly white, and his skin very thick. His wings are of a finny substance, about a span long, reaching, when close to his body from an inch below his gills to an inch above his tail. When they fly it is straight forward, (for they cannot readily turn,) a yard or two above the water; and perhaps fifty yards in the furthest before they dip into the water again, for they cannot support themselves in the air any longer than while their wings continue wet. These flying-fish are the common prey of the dolphin, who is their mortal enemy. When he pursues them, they rise and fly; and he keeps close under them till they drop, and then snaps them up immediately. They generally fly in flocks, four or five, or perhaps a dozen together and a dolphin is seldom caught without one or more in his belly. We put this flying-fish upon the hook, in hopes of catching one, but in a few minutes they got it off without hooking themselves; and they will not meddle with any other bait.’

5 October 1726
‘This morning we saw a heron, who had lodged aboard last night. It is a long-legged, long-necked bird, having, as they say, but one gut. They live upon fish, and will swallow a living eel thrice, sometimes, before it will remain in their body. The wind is west again. The ship’s crew was brought to a short allowance of water.’

6 October 1726
‘This morning abundance of grass, rock-weed, &c., passed by us; evident tokens that land is not far off. We hooked a dolphin this morning, made us a good breakfast. A sail passed by us about twelve o’clock, and nobody saw her till she was too far astern to be spoken with. It is very near calm; we saw another sail ahead this afternoon; but, night coming on, we could not speak with her, though we very much desired it; she stood to the northward, and it is possible might have informed us how far we are from land. Our artists on board are much at a loss. We hoisted our jack to her, but she took no notice of it.

7 October 1726
‘Last night, about nine o’clock sprung up a fine gale at northeast, which run us in our course at the rate of seven miles an hour all night. We were in hopes of seeing land this morning, but cannot. The water, which we thought was changed, is now as blue as the sky; so that, unless at that time we were running over some unknown shoal, our eyes strangely deceived us. All the reckonings have been out these several days; though the captain says it is his opinion we are yet a hundred leagues from land; for my part I know not what to think of it; we have run all this day at a great rate, and now night is come on we have no soundings. Sure the American continent is not all sunk under water since we left it.’


8 October 1726
‘The fair wind continues still; we ran all night in our course, sounding every four hours, but can find no ground yet, nor is the water changed by all this day’s run. This afternoon we saw an Irish Lord and a bird which flying looked like a yellow duck. These, they say, are not seen far from the coast. Other signs of lands have we none. Abundance of large porpoises ran by us this afternoon, and we were followed by a shoal of small ones, leaping out of the water as they approached. Towards evening we spied a sail ahead, and spoke with her just before dark. She was bound from New York for Jamaica and left Sandy Hook yesterday about noon, from which they reckon themselves forty-five leagues distant. By this we compute that we are not above thirty leagues from our Capes, and hope to see land to-morrow.’

4 October 1726
‘We have had the wind fair all the morning; at twelve o’clock we sounded, perceiving the water visibly changed, and struck ground at twenty-five fathoms, to our universal joy. After dinner one of our mess went up aloft to look out, and presently pronounced the long wished-for sound, LAND! LAND! In less than an hour we could decry it from the deck, appearing like tufts of trees. I could not discern it so soon as the rest; my eyes were dimmed with the suffusion of two small drops of joy. By three o’clock we were run in within two leagues of the land, and spied a small sail standing along shore. We would gladly have spoken with her, for our captain was unacquainted with the Coast, and knew not what land it was that we saw. We made all the sail we could to speak with her. We made a signal of distress; but all would not do, the ill-natured dog would not come near us. Then we stood off again till morning, not caring to venture too near.’

10 October 1726
‘This morning we stood in again for land; and we that had been here before all agreed that it was Cape Henlopen; about noon we were come very near, and to our great joy saw the pilot-boat come off to us, which was exceeding welcome. He brought on board about a peck of apples with him; they seemed the most delicious I ever tasted in my life; the salt provisions we had been used to gave them a relish. We had extraordinary fair wind all the afternoon, and ran above a hundred miles up the Delaware before ten at night. The country appears very pleasant to the eye, being covered with woods, except here and there a house and plantation. We cast anchor when the tide turned, about two miles below Newcastle, and there lay till the morning tide.’

11 October 1726
‘This morning we weighed anchor with a gentle breeze, and passed by Newcastle, whence they hailed us and bade us welcome. It is extreme find weather. The sun enlivens our stiff limbs with his glorious rays of warmth and brightness. The sky looks gay, with here and there a silver cloud. The fresh breezes from the woods refresh us; the immediate prospect of liberty, after so long and irksome confinement, ravishes us. In short, all things conspire to make this the most joyful day I ever knew. As we passed by Chester, some of the company went on shore, impatient once more to tread on terra firma, and designing for Philadelphia by land. Four of us remained on board, not caring for the fatigue of travel when we knew the voyage had much weakened us. About eight at night, the wind failing us, we cast anchor at Redbank six miles from Philadelphia, and thought we must be obliged to lie on board that night; but, some young Philadelphians happening to be out upon their pleasure in a boat, they came on board, and offered to take us up with them; we accepted of their kind proposal, and about ten o’clock landed at Philadelphia, heartily congratulating each upon our having happily completed so tedious and dangerous a voyage. Thank God!’

Much later in his life Franklin also kept a diary very occasionally, and fragments can be found in, for example, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin (Volume 1 published in 1818). Here are a couple of extracts from that volume.

26 June 1784
‘Mr. Waltersdorff called on me, and acquainted me with a duel that had been fought yesterday morning, between a French officer, and a Swedish gentleman of that king’s suite, in which the latter was killed on the spot, and the other dangerously wounded: that the king does not resent it, as he thinks his subject was in the wrong.

He asked me if I had seen the king of Sweden? I had not yet had that honor. He said his behavior here was not liked: that he took little notice of his own ambassador, who, being acquainted with the usages of this court, was capable of advising him, but was not consulted. That he was always talking of himself, and vainly boasting of his revolution, though it was known to have been the work of M. de Vergennies. That they began to be tired of him here, and wished him gone; but he proposed staying till the 12th July. That he had now laid aside his project of invading Norway, as he found Denmark had made preparations to receive him. That he pretended the Danes had designed to invade Sweden, though it was a known fact that the Danes had made no military preparations, even for deface, till six months after his began. I asked if it was clear that he had had an intention to invade Norway? He said that the marching and disposition of his troops, and the fortifications he had erected, indicated it very plainly. He added, that Sweden was at present greatly distressed for provisions; that many people had actually died of hunger! That it was reported the king came here to borrow money, and to offer to sell Gottenburg to France; a thing not very probable.’

15 July 1704
‘The Duke de Chartres’s balloon went off this morning from St. Cloud, himself and three others in the gallery. It was foggy, and they were soon out of sight. But the machine being disordered, so that the trap or valve could not be opened to let out the expanding air, and fearing that the balloon would burst, they cut a hole in it which ripped larger, and they fell rapidly, but received no harm. They had been a vast height, met with a doud of snow, and a tornado which frightened them.’