Saturday, August 11, 2018

Vere Hunt in a crashing machine

‘Set out at two o’clock for Tipperary . . . Soon after I had the misfortune to find myself in a crashing machine, for, crash went the front spring of the crazy depository in which I was journeying, and, having extricated myself by a judicious leap-out from the ill-fated vehicle, I perambulated ankle-deep to the aforesaid Bruff, when, then and there arriving, I found the parlour of the Inn occupied by Cork butchers and discontented farmers.’ This is the entertaining Vere Hunt - soldier, politician, gambler and enlightened landlord - writing in his diary about market day at Bruff, in the county of Limerick, Ireland. He died two centuries ago today, leaving behind a series of diaries only a few extracts of which have ever been published.

Hunt, born in 1761,
 at Curragh Chase in County Limerick, was the oldest son of Vere Hunt and his second wife Anne Browne. He had one brother, John Fitzmaurice, and a sister, Jane. He inherited his father’s estate, and, in 1784, married Eleanor daughter of Lord Glenworth, the Protestant bishop of Limerick. He was elevated to a baronetcy the same year, and also became High Sheriff of County Limerick. He showed loyal support to the King and raised and commanded three regiments of foot during the French Revolutionary Wars. On returning to Ireland he was made MP for the Borough of Askeaton in 1797, but the Borough was disenfranchised at the Union, and he left politics in 1800.

Hunt was the founder of a village called New Birmingham in Tipperary, which he had built to service a coal mine he owned at Glengoole. He is remembered as a progressive landlord, often seeking ways to improve the lot of his tenants. However, he was not a great entrepreneur. He purchased Lundy Island, for example, believing it would save him from paying British taxes. After installing an Irish colony there, the place soon became a liability, and it was many years before the family was able to dispose of it. He appears to have had a tendency to gambling, which led him to spend some in a debtor’s jail in London. He was also known to have a strong liking for the theatre and literature. Vere’s only son Aubrey was educated at Harrow with Lord Byron and Robert Peel, and went on to have five sons and three daughters. He was grandfather to the poet and critic Aubrey Thomas de Vere and to the politician and social commentator Sir Stephen de Vere, 4th Baronet. He died on 11 August 1818. A little further information can be found at Wikipedia, the Limerick City website, and the Glengoole website.

Hunt left behind some diaries, most of which 
(1796-1809) are held by Limerick City Library - a full description of them can be found around page 40 in this large Word file on the Hunt and De Vere family holdings. Although the diaries have never been published in book form, the Dublin Magazine published some extracts in 1943, and then Melosina Lenox-Conyngham included a significant batch of those extracts in her Diaries of Ireland - An Anthology 1590-1987 (Lilliput Press, Dublin 1998). Some pages can be read online at Amazon, but a pdf of all the pages on Hunt can be read online at the Limerick City website. The following extracts are all taken from Lenox-Conyngham’s book.

28 March 1798
‘The County [Limerick] met at one over the Exchange. I proposed that it be recommended to landlords to give a temporary abatement to poor tenants on account of the fall of grain, and to pay tythes for those under £10 a year rent. It was negatived. A memorial was sent to the Lord Lieutenant signed by thirty-six Justices to proclaim the entire county as in a state of insurrection. Dined at Harry Fosbery’s and got drunk.’

9 April 1798
‘My dear wife & darling Aubrey went to Limerick on their way to Dublin & probably England to avoid the dangers of this unhappy distracted county ... A guard mounted. Then came back to dinner, lonesome! I cd not eat a bit.’

17 April 1798
‘Heard that my Uncle Harry’s son, Phineas, was the head of the United Irishmen about Cappah, but that he gave himself up to General Sir James Duff and made a full discovery.’

19 May 1798, Dublin
‘Dined at Tom Quin’s. At nine an express came for the Surgeon-General, who dined with us, to go off to dress Lord Edward Fitzgerald’s wounds, who had just been taken by Major Sirr and Justices Swan and Ryan.’

23 May 1798, Dublin
‘The town in great confusion and a rising expected every hour ... Went to the Castle, saw Lord Edward Fitzgerald’s uniform ... Lord Rossmore showed me an impression of the Great Seal found on Lord Edward ... People taken up every instant and flogged by military law to get confessions ... Determined to send my family off without delay, called with a hackney coach for Lady Hunt, Aubrey and Jenny Bindon, and set out for the Prince of Wales Packet. She could not sail, the wind being foul, and we all slept on board. Heard from Captain Hill of the Lady Fitzgibbon that Frank Arthur, Dr Hargrove, Doctor Ross (all from Limerick) and others were apprehended, and from my Uncle William Hunt that his son Billy was taken up.’

17 January 1800, Dublin
‘Got into the harbour at daylight and after landing, proceeded to Dublin on foot and put up at Quin’s Hotel in Crow Street. In the evening to the House of Commons and most warmly welcomed by Lord Castlereagh. Called on Lord Glentworth and consulted him on my expectations from Government. Strongly advised by him not to take any bargain, as those who acted steadily and honourably to the Government would be more liberally treated than if they made a contract.’

3 April 1811, Curragh Chase
‘This morning at four o’clock departed this life, John Leahy, who lived for seventy or eighty years with my father and me, and who lived as a pensioner with me for the last twenty years. His honesty and fidelity were great, and I sincerely lament the departure of so old, tried and valuable a domestic. Ordered a coffin to be made for him of the old elm-tree, coeval with himself, or rather antecedent to him, which was blown down last winter. Kill a lamb and dine on a forequarter of it, fish etc. Dr Lee the parish priest of Adare with me. After dinner, he and I go up to Leahy’s house, where I give directions for his wake, funeral etc. Lee sleeps here.’

17 May 1813, Dublin
‘Look in at Gilbert and Hodges, see some books bespoke by Aubrey, and see for the first time the celebrated Archibald Hamilton Rowan, who walked in attended by two monstrous and beautiful Danish dogs.’

4 June 1813, Dublin
‘Very fine day, and being the King’s birthday, the town was in bustle and hurry from morning till night. In the early part of the day a Review in the Phoenix Park, where all ranks and classes were crowded together to see poor soldiers sweating and stinking, and great Militia officers, from the mighty Colonel to the puny Ensigns, exhibiting their bravery and military acquirements. City Buckeens on hired horses and with borrowed boots and spurs; young misses slipping away from their mammas to meet their lovers; old maids taking snuff, and talking and thinking of old times; pickpockets waiting for a lob, and old bawds and whores for a cull; handkerchiefs in constant employ, wiping dust, sweat and dander from the face and head; coaches, landaus, gigs, curricles and jaunting cars in constant jostle and confusion in the backstreet to avoid paying money and the shops open to try to get some; mail coaches making a grand procession through the principal streets.

A Levee at the Castle, attended as usual by pimps, parasites, hangers-on, aidecamps, state-officers, expectant clergymen, hungry lawyers, spies, informers, and the various descriptions of characters that constitute the herd of which the motley petty degraded and pretended Court of this poor fallen country is made up. Alas, poor Ireland.

I spent the day lounging about, seeing what was to be seen, and, in proud feelings of superior independence, looked down with utter contempt of the weakness of an administration, imbecile, evasive, and mouldering into contempt; and every loss of public opinion and respect ever must attend the paltry pretended administration of this despicable and degraded country.

After dinner take a rambling circuit over Westmoreland Street and up Anglesea Street. Lounge into booksellers’ shops, then to Crow Street to see, according to ancient custom, all the blackguard boys collected to insult and pelt with small stones, gravel, periwinkles, etc. the ladies who go to the Play on this night. Boxes being free for the ladies, consequently it may be supposed what degree of respect is due to that class of the tender sex who avail themselves of enjoying a theatrical treat.’

3 November 1813, Dublin
‘Omitted in my journal yesterday that I saw the new Lord Lieutenant, Lord Whitworth, for the first time, it being his weekly day of giving audience, and of keeping up the mockery of state in this fallen and degraded sham-court.

He drove in from the park with his wife, the Duchess of Dorset, and one aide de camp, in a plain coach and four postilions in buff cloth, plain jackets, and two out-riders. The castle seemed deserted, few, I believe, seeking audience; and except the mere hangers-on, secretaries and clerks, two or three Generals and Judges, I presume, from appearance, His Excellency was not much annoyed by visitors.’

18 October 1814, Bruff
‘Arrived in Bruff at half past one. Fair day there and meet many friends in Bennett’s Inn, all in desponding strains, lamenting the decreased value of fat cattle, the best fat cows bringing this day but twelve guineas each. Milch cows high from £18 to £20, pigs tolerably high, sheep low. Set out at two o’clock for Tipperary and meet near Kilballyowen a very fine threshing machine for Decourcy O’Grady. Soon after I had the misfortune to find myself in a crashing machine, for, crash went the front spring of the crazy depository in which I was journeying, and, having extricated myself by a judicious leap-out from the ill-fated vehicle, I perambulated ankle-deep to the aforesaid Bruff, when, then and there arriving, I found the parlour of the Inn occupied by Cork butchers and discontented farmers to whose society I would have unfortunately been consigned for the day but for the hospitality of John Bennett who invited me to his house, where I fared capitally both in board and bed. I was highly pleased at seeing there in a very small square pond opposite his hall door, duck, mallard, cooter and various other wild fowl in great abundance and perfect tameness, and I was particularly amused by the eccentricities of Standy Bennett who, in his way, is both clever and entertaining ... he is about to publish a book of poems, which of course I will be among the first to have. In bed at eleven and sleep like a top.’

The Diary Junction

Monday, August 6, 2018

Einstein’s wonderful day

‘One of the finest days of my life. Radiant skies. Toledo like a fairy tale. An enthusiastic old man, who had supposedly written something of import about (Goy) El Greco, guides us. [. . .] Small garden with vistas near synagogue. Magnificent painting by El Greco in small church (burial of a nobleman) is among the profoundest images I have ever seen. Wonderful day.’ This is from the private travel diary of one the world’s most famous scientists, Albert Einstein. Although not accustomed to keeping a diary, he started doing so, in his 40s, when travelling. Of six extant diaries, two have been published - and are freely available online as part of The Digital Einstein Papers. However, Princeton University Press has just published a more comprehensive edition of the diary Einstein kept on a tour to the Far East, Palestine and Spain. Never intended for publication, the diary reveals Einstein unguardedly expressing joy, as in the above extract, but also a degree of racism that has been much discussed by reviewers of the new book.

Einstein was born in 1879 in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire (now in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg). Within a few months, the family had moved to Munich where his father and uncle founded a company manufacturing electrical equipment. Though Jewish by birth, he attended a Catholic school for several years before enrolling in the secondary school, Luitpold Gymnasium. When his father was forced to sell his business, the family moved to Italy, and Einstein continued his education in Switzerland, where he trained as a maths and physics teacher. In 1901, he became a Swiss citizen, and, unable to get a teaching job, joined the Swiss Patent Office. He married Mileva Marić, a fellow student, in 1903 and they had two sons. (However, in 1987, it was discovered that Marić had also given birth earlier to Einstein’s illegitimate daughter but that the baby had either died or been given up for adoption.)

In 1905, Einstein completed his doctor’s degree; he also published several groundbreaking papers, not least one on special relativity including what would become the famous equation E=mc2. International recognition followed swiftly, with an associate professorship at the University of Zurich, and a full professorship at the Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague. In 1914, he was appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin (a post he retained until 1932). After several years of separation, he divorced Marić, and married his cousin Elsa Löwenthal. (For an insight into their life together see Harry Kessler’s diaries - Dined with the Einsteins.) In 1922, Einstein was awarded, after some delay, the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics ‘for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect’.

From the 1920s, Einstein was working towards a unified field theory which, apart from gravitation, was also to include electrodynamics. Although he never succeeded in this grand task, he continued to provide lasting contributions to statistical mechanics, special relativity, quantum mechanics, physical cosmology among other branches of maths and physics. He received many honorary doctorate degrees in science, medicine and philosophy from European and American universities, as well as fellowships or memberships of leading scientific academies. He travelled widely, meeting other scientists, and giving lectures. Sailing back to Europe from a trip to the US in 1933, he learned of new German laws barring Jews from holding academic positions, and decided he could not return to Berlin. Other countries, particularly Britain, sought to give him residency. However, he chose to take up American citizenship, and a position at the newly-founded Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, to which he remained affiliated for the rest of his life.

Einstein was an active Zionist. He helped establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which opened in 1925, and was among its first governors. Much later, in 1952, he was invited to take up the ceremonial post of President of Israel, though he turned this down. He was also an outspoken advocate for the idea of a world government, and he was a pacifist. However, on the eve of World War II, he famously sent a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him to Germany’s potential to develop an atomic bomb and urging the US to begin research into similar techniques. Later, he campaigned to warn of the danger of nuclear arms. Wikipedia says he published more than 300 scientific papers and more than 150 non-scientific works in his lifetime. He died in 1955. Further information is also available at Princeton University Press, the Nobel Prize website,, Encyclopaedia Britannica. There are also many biographies available at Internet Archive and Googlebooks.

There is no evidence that Einstein was a diarist by habit but, in the 1920s, he started to keep diaries when travelling. There are six diaries extant from five trips, the first written during his 1922-1923 journey to the Far East, Palestine and Spain, a second written in South America in 1925, and the other four written during three consecutive winter trips to the USA between late 1930 and early 1933. The first two of the six have been published in volumes 13 and 14 respectively of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, produced by the Einstein Papers Project, and published by Princeton University Press.

The Einstein Papers Project was established in 1986 by Princeton University Press and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem ‘to assemble, preserve, translate, and publish papers selected from the literary estate of Albert Einstein’ (based in Pasadena, California, at the California Institute of Technology). The volumes are published in the original German, but also in English translation. The Collected Works series has only reached the mid-1920s, and so, presumably, it will be some years before the USA diaries are published. All the hardback volumes are also being made freely available online through The Digital Einstein Papers, hosted by Princeton University Press. Thus, both the first two diaries can be found online, buried deep within the volumes (Far East, Palestine and Spain, and South America).

Although the first travel diary has already been published in print and online, Princeton University Press has now published a far more comprehensive edition - The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein: The Far East, Palestine & Spain 1922-1923, as edited by Ze’ev Rosenkranz, senior editor and assistant director of the Einstein Papers Project. According to the publisher: ‘Quirky, succinct, and at times irreverent the entries record Einstein’s musings on science, philosophy, art, and politics, as well as his immediate impressions and broader thoughts on such events as his inaugural lecture at the future site of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a garden party hosted by the Japanese Empress, an audience with the King of Spain, and meetings with other prominent colleagues and statesmen.’

The handsomely-produced book (which can be previewed at Googlebooks) includes photographic images of every page of Einstein’s diary, extensive notes and references, and a long informative introduction by Rosenkranz. He explains, for example, how this diary and other papers were saved from the Germans: on hearing that Einstein could not return to Berlin in January 1933, his son-in-law removed the diary and other papers from Einstein’s office for safe-keeping in the French embassy, and for subsequent transfer by diplomatic pouch to Paris. He discusses why Einstein might have started to keep travel diaries at this point in time, and he argues that the diaries were never written with a view to publication (but, probably, for family members). He also analyses - and tries to explain - several entries in the diary in which Einstein expresses racist opinions. These particular entries, offering an unexpectedly darker side to Einstein's personality, have been widely reported in the press (see the BBC and the Mail Online - but also The New York Times).

Here are several extracts from the diary, courtesy of Princeton University Press. (NB: for simplicity, the annotations that appear in the original have been omitted.)

21 November 1922
‘Chrysanthemum festival at the imperial palace garden. Great difficulty in procuring a fitting frock coat along with top hat. The former from unknown donor via Mr. Barwald, who brought it personally; the latter from Mr. Yamamoto; far too small, so I had to carry it around in my hand the whole afternoon. We were with the foreign diplomats, who were arranged in a semicircle. Picked up and accompanied by the German embassy. Jap[anese] empress stepped around the inside of the semicircle and spoke a few words with husbands and wives from the embassies, with me a few kind words in French. Then refreshments in the garden at tables, where I was introduced to infinitely many people. Garden marvelous, artificial hills, water, picturesque autumn foliage. Chrysanthemums in booths properly lined up like soldiers. The hanging chrysanthemums are the most beautiful. In the evening, cozy evening at the Berliners’ charming japanese home. He, an intelligent political economist, she, a gracious, intelligent woman, true native of Berlin. Lazing about under such conditions is more tiring than working, but the Inagakis help us with touching solicitude.’

29 November 1922
‘While in shirtsleeves received a card from pastor Steinichen announcing his visit to keep me informed about Frau Schulze’s case. Changed and got dressed quickly, partly in his presence. Then the English physician Gordon-Munroe, who was attending Frau Schulze. Verified that wife’s psychosis is due to husband’s maltreatment (employee at the German Embassy). 10:30, tea ceremony in a fine Japanese home. Exactly prescribed ceremony for a meal to celebrate friendship. Glimpse into the contemplative cultural life of the Japanese. The man has written four thick volumes on the ceremony, which he proudly showed us. Then, reception by 10,000 students at Waseda University, founded by Okuma (?) in the spirit of democracy, with addresses. Lunch at hotel. Then lecture. Viewing of the institute. Interesting communication about electric-arc line-shift. At 6:30 reception by pedagogical societies. During farewells, greeting by female seminar participants outside. Sweet, cheerful scene of throngs in semi-darkness. Too much love and spoiling for one mortal. Arrival home dead tired.’

6 March 1923
‘Excursion to Toledo concealed through many lies. One of the finest days of my life. Radiant skies. Toledo like a fairy tale. An enthusiastic old man, who had supposedly written something of import about (Goy) El Greco, guides us. Streets and market place, views onto the city, the Tagus with stone bridges, stone-covered hills, charming plain, cathedral, synagogue, sunset on the homeward trip with glowing colors. Small garden with vistas near synagogue. Magnificent painting by El Greco in small church (burial of a nobleman) is among the profoundest images I have ever seen. Wonderful day.’

The three extracts immediately above are excerpted from THE TRAVEL DIARIES OF ALBERT EINSTEIN: The Far East, Palestine, & Spain 1922-1923 ed. by Ze’ev Rosenkranz. Editorial apparatus and diary translation copyright © 2018 by Princeton University Press. Travel diary, additional texts, and endpaper images copyright © 2018 by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Father of the railways

‘Twenty years ago these projects, or rather that from this coal district, was of much interest to my mind and its completion in 1825 may be said to have given birth to all others in this world.’ So reflected Edward Pease, who died 160 years ago today, in his diary about the start of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Pease is sometimes dubbed ‘The Father of the Railways’ because of the crucial entrepreneurial role he played in launching that first public railway. Although his extant diaries do not start until 1838, long after that particularly historic event, they are nevertheless interesting and informative. They are also freely available online.

Pease was born in Darlington, Yorkshire, in 1767, and was educated at a Quaker school in Leeds. By 14, he was already working with his father, a wool merchant; eventually, though, he became a successful merchant in his own right. Around the age of 50, he turned his attention to the idea of a horse-draw railway line to link the coal mines in County Durham with the port at Stockton-on-Tees, in northeast England. In 1821, he won approval for the plan from the British Parliament. He then met with the engineer George Stephenson (often also called ‘The Father of the Railways’) and Nicholas Wood, a colliery manager. It was agreed that the project should be a ‘railway’, i.e. protruding rails, laid on sleepers, for wagon wheels to wrap around (rather than a groove in the ground, tramway-style, for carriage wheels to slot into). And, it was at this meeting that Stephenson convinced Pease to use a steam-powered engine rather than horses. A new Act of Parliament was then required to accommodate the changes.

The Stockton and Darlington Railway opened on 27 September 1825. Here is what Joseph Tatlow, author of Fifty Years of Railway Life in England, Scotland and Ireland (available at Internet Archive), says about it. ‘The day brought an immense concourse of people to Darlington, all bent on seeing the novel spectacle of a train of carriages and wagons filled with passengers and goods, drawn along a railway by a steam engine. At eight o’clock in the morning the train started with its load - 22 vehicles - hauled by Stephenson’s ‘Locomotion’, driven by Stephenson himself. Such was its velocity that in some parts of the journey the speed was frequently 12 miles an hour. The number of passengers reached 450, and the goods and merchandise amounted to 90 tons - a great accomplishment, and George Stephenson and Edward Pease were proud men that day.’

Pease himself, however, did not attend the great event, since his son, Isaac, had died the day before. He and his wife Rachel Whitwell had had three other sons, two of whom became MPs. Pease himself, though, carried on doing good works in his retirement, supporting the anti-slavery movement, for example, and Elizabeth Fry’s prison reform campaign. He died on 31 July 1858. Further information is available form Wikipedia, Spartacus, Darlington Borough Council.

Pease seems to have kept a diary for much of his later life, although the only extant volumes date from 1838, when he was already in his 70s (earlier ones having been destroyed), and continue through to his 92nd year. It was to be half a century, though, before they were edited by his great grandfather, Sir Albert Pease, and published by Headley Brothers (1907) as The Diaries of Edward Pease, the Father of the English Railways. The book is freely available online at Internet Archive. Apart from the diaries, the volume contains detailed biographical sketches and lots of appendices with titles such as ‘A Quaker Wedding’, ‘Edward Pease’s Fruit Trees’, ‘A Labourer’s Letter on the Start of the First Railway’, and ‘Growth of the Port of Middlesborough’.

‘The journals,’ says Albert Pease in his Introductory Note, ‘are full of entries dealing with his spiritual state and self-examination. This manner of writings seems to have been the common practice in this and the preceding periods of Quakerism. [. . .] There are, however, in these diaries, touches of genuine human nature and allusions to matters of local or national interests that, I think, justify me in giving as much as appears in the following extracts. Without giving those entries which deal with the inmost working of his soul and with his most private feelings, it would impossible for those of his descendants who read these pages to get so true an impression of his character and of his life as I desire to give them.’

Here are several extracts.

30 March 1841
‘A day of great bustle and unsettlement from the opening of the Great North of England Railway. Twenty years ago these projects, or rather that from this coal district, was of much interest to my mind and its completion in 1825 may be said to have given birth to all others in this world. For the cause of humanity, at least, I believe them to be useful and being in the permission of infinite Wisdom hope they may not be wrong, but I desire to acknowledge with thankfulness that my mind is broken off or weaned from all new schemes.’

31 July 1841
‘Went to Southampton and had a welcome reception from my cousins, Rolles Driver and Sarah. Had to regret in this family a departure from simplicity in speech, furniture and attire. Whilst much of sincerity of desire may dwell in the bosoms of those who possess and do these things my belief is that the spirit of truth as lived in and obeyed, would do away with all connected with this part of the pride of life and so refine the spirit that its enjoyment would be, etc.’

24 September 1841
‘My dear daughter Sophia and her two girls, my dear Joseph and Emma with their four daughters and five sons, also dear Henry dined with me. When I looked round my table and beheld so many of my descendants so healthy and so happy my heart was filled with gratitude. The prayer of my spirit is that all these dear children may be preserved in simplicity, that they so walk in those principles and maintain those testimonies of the truth, that they experience the comfort and safety there is in them and the glorious hope which faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to the revelation of his Spirit can give.’

15 November 1844
‘The Stockton and Darlington Railway are now opening some iron foundry works at Middlesbrough, and several Friends are about to be employed as managers and workmen so that the erection of a Meeting-house is spoken of, . . . Except the Lord, build, keep and watch the city, vain is all human effort.’

3 November 1845
‘Mournful account of the dreadful speculation that exists in Railway Shares. A young Friend (about twenty-three) of Bristol married about eight months ago, had so involved himself that in a fit of despair he leaves his bride and in a note tells her she shall never see him more, etc. . .

This day completes the forty-ninth year since my happy union with my long lost Love.’

17 September 1847
‘A very busy scene at the horticultural Show. I did not feel free to attend, as some of the nobility were expected, and I anticipated the exhibition of some unwise crouching to aristocracy, entirely at variance with the simplicity of Christ. All that I anticipated of mutual insincere flattery, so common among the great, and an uproar and various cheering was exhibited - the presence of my dear fellow professors does not entirely accord with my views of the narrow way.’

23 October 1857
‘I leave the record of this to me eventful and rather trying day until it is closed.

Noon. Called upon by twenty, mostly my fellow [townsmen ?] to present me with an address commending my early exertions respecting Railways and Engineering, also my Sons. While to be useful in our day and live in their esteem is to be gratified, yet the Address presented is quite too full and above all our services.’

This article is a revised version of one first published 10 years ago on 31 July 2008.

The Diary Junction

Thursday, July 26, 2018

I got another one down

Edward Corringham ‘Mick’ Mannock, a top British fighter pilot in the First World War (the most remarkable fighter ace of all time according to some), died in combat a century ago today. He was much honoured during his short flying career, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. He remains a popular war hero figure, such that the centenary of his death is being marked in Dublin (he was half Irish and a fervent nationalist) and in Brighton, the place of his birth. He left behind a diary of his last year which colourfully and enthusiastically describes his many battle exploits.

Mannock was born at Preston Barracks in Brighton in 1887 to an Irish mother and English father serving in the British Army. He had a rather unsettled childhood, with a spell in India, when he was rather sickly and lost vision in one eye. When the family finally settled in Canterbury, his father abandoned his wife and children. Mannock attended a local school, where he enjoyed sports; he also liked playing the violin. On leaving school, he joined the National Telephone Company, and moved to Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, in 1911 to work with the company’s engineering division. He came to be a local activist in socialist politics, a great admirer of Keir Hardie, and the Secretary of the Wellingborough Independent Labour Party in 1912. He was also a fervent supporter of Irish nationalism.

In 1914, Mannock travelled to Turkey where he picked up work as a labour supervisor with the English Telephone Company. However, with the outbreak of the war, he was interned in Turkish prisons until the Red Cross managed to get him released. He only just survived a tortuous journey home by way of the Middle East. He joined the Royal Engineers, then the Royal Army Medical Corps, and finally, in 1916, the Royal Flying Corps, being assigned to No. 40 Squadron. He proved to be a highly skilled fighter pilot, commanding first No 74  Squadron and then No 85 Squadron, achieving a near record number of aerial victories (61). However, he was killed in a dogfight too close to the ground on 26 July 1918. By then, he had been honoured with the Military Cross twice, and the Distinguished Service Order three times. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. There is a surprising amount of information about Mannock available online, at Wikipedia, VC Online, History Net, The Telegraph, or the BBC for example.

At least a couple of events are taking place to mark the centenary of Mannock’s death - a memorial service in Dublin (see Cork News), and the placing of a plaque in Brighton, just down the road from where I am writing this (see Brighton & Hove Council, Brighton Argus). From March 1917, when Mannock was first posted to France, he kept a diary. This was lost for nearly half a century until unearthed by Mannock’s biographer, Frederick Oughton (Ace With One Eye: the life and combats of Major Edward Mannock, 1963). Oughton went on to edit the diary, which was published in 1966 by Nevill Spearman as The Personal Diary of Major Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock.

Oughton’s biographical sketch begins as follows: ‘[Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock, the most remarkable, and in some ways the most ignored fighter ace of all time, was not a literary man. He was rough-cultured and self-nurtured in the way that a piece of rock which has been chamfered by the weather is cultured. He had inner strength and a sensitivity which several times came into conflict to destroy him. He was a rebel and, as the leading combat pilot during his short life, he knew fear.’ Here are several extracts from the diary.

3 April 1917
‘Rose at 8. The eternal coffee and omelettes. Really the hens must be on war work. Tried to find the office again and subsequently managed to do so. Instructions to proceed to aerodrome. Met Lemon, Dunlop and Kimball on the way. Was catechised and placed in the School - on Bristols Scouts. Censored.’

20 April 1917
‘Too tired or lazy for the last five days to keep up the diary. Went over the lines again on the 16th but nothing exciting except a few ‘Archie’ greetings. 17th, 18th were rotten days and nothing doing in the way of flying. Went to Aire on 17th and 19th to see Dunlop. There’s a hope that he’ll pull through. Went to St Omer on the 18th for a break. Met Hooper and several others of the old school.

On the 19th did some gun practice and in one dive from two thousand my right bottom plane broke and fell clean away. Managed to right the machine after desperate efforts with the ‘joy stick’ and landed slowly and safely about half a mile away from aerodrome. Such a thing has never happened before where the pilot has not been killed or injured by the fall.

Another ‘rag’ in the mess on the night of the 19th. Boxed with de Burgh. Crocked my knee and arm. Old McKechnie’s farewell night as he’s proceeding home tomorrow morning. Great doings. Returned to bed at 2 a.m. and to be called at 5.30. Went to St Omer by side car at 6 p.m. to fetch a new machine, feeling like a wet rag. Mouth felt like the bottom of a parrot cage. However, felt better after the drive, and brought the old ‘bus’ back O.K. in eight minutes. Some travelling. Had four letters today, from Bright, Paddy, Jessie and Cambridge, so I look forward to a busy evening. I hear from Buddy M that Jim Ranson is somewhere near, in the 58 Division. Must look him up.

Over the lines today on Parry’s bus. Engine cut out three times. Wind up. Now I can understand what a tremendous strain to the nervous system active service flying is. However cool a man may be there must always be more or less of a tension on the nerves under such trying conditions. When it is considered that seven out of ten forced landings are practically ‘write offs’, and 50 per cent are cases where the pilot is injured, one can quite understand the strain of the whole business.

Tip I’ve picked up: If forced to land in Hunland, strike well inside the lines. Don’t land near the trenches but well back. The trench dwellers are not noted for their chivalry.’

16 June 1917
‘Yesterday had to see the Doctor again about my eye. Had some more cocaine and he extracted another piece of steel from the membrane. No flying for me again today. Captain Keen got a Hun last night in flames over Vitry. Awfully hot weather. Went to Lilies with the padre today. Brought plenty of tobacco back and strawberries and cherries for the mess. Nothing doing in the air line today at all.

Expect my leave in about three weeks’ time. Roll on! I think I’ve got prickly heat rash breaking out on my face - never handsome at the best of times! Don’t sleep very well o’night. My sins probably!

Captain Napier came back today although he’s still not quite fit.’

5 September 1917
‘The end of a fairly hard day. Went over to Petit Vimy and Thelus in a side-car this morning in an endeavour to pick up some relics of the last victim, downed yesterday afternoon in flames. Regret that nothing remained of the machine. I met this unfortunate DFW at about ten thousand feet over Avion coming south-west, and I was travelling south-east. I couldn’t recognize the black crosses readily (he was about three hundred yards away and about five hundred feet above me) so I turned my tail towards him and went in the same direction, thinking that if he were British, he wouldn’t take any notice of me, and if a Hun, I felt sure he would put his nose down and have a shot (thinking I hadn’t seen him). The ruse worked beautifully. His nose went down (pointing at me) and I immediately whipped round, dived and ‘zoomed’ up behind him, before you could say ‘Knife’. He tried to turn, but he was much too slow for the Nieuport. I got in about fifty rounds in short bursts whilst on the turn, and he went down in flames, pieces of wing and tail, etc. dropping away from the wreck. It was a horrible sight and made me feel sick. He fell down in our own lines, and I followed to the ground, although I didn’t land. The boys gave me a great ovation.

The same morning I got another one down east of Lens, confirmed by the A.A. people. Captain Keen had previously engaged it, but broke of [sic] combat in order to renew ammunition drum. I got quite close up and let him have a full drum, and he went nose down east. Owing to the haze, I couldn’t see him crash.

Prior to that - at 9.40 a.m. I had a beautiful running fight with another two-seater at seventeen thousand feet from Bruay to east of Lens. This one got away notwithstanding the fact that I fired.’

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Death of the Romanovs

One hundred years ago today the Russian imperial Romanov family and its attendants, all under house arrest at Ekaterinburg 1,000 km east of Moscow, were were shot, bayoneted and clubbed to death, as ordered by the new ruling Bolshevik party, headed by Vladimir Lenin. Among the murdered were Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsaritsa Alexandra and their five children. Both the Tsar and the Tsarina kept diaries - see Hope remains above all for extracts from the Tsar’s (dull) diaries - but to mark this anniversary I have chosen the very last (and also very dull) diary entries penned by the Tsaritsa - Alexandra Feodorovna - as found in The Last Diary of Tsaritsa Alexandra.

Alix Viktoria Helene Luise Beatrix was born in 1872, the sixth child (of seven) born to Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine (part of the German Empire), and his first wife Princess Alice of the UK, the second daughter of Queen Victoria and Albert. Her early life is said to have been carefree and happy, but when six years old she, and other members of the family, fell ill with diphtheria. Her mother and one sister died leaving Alix reserved and withdrawn. She and her siblings grew close to their British cousins, spending holidays with Queen Victoria. The British queen intended Alix to marry her grandson Prince Albert Victor, who was second in line to the British throne, but Alix had fallen in love, years earlier, with Grand Duke Nicholas, heir to the throne of Russia. Despite many obstacles, the two eventually married in 1894, and, on
 being accepted into the Russian Orthodox Church, Alix took the name Alexandra Feodorovna, and she became the Russian Tsaritsa and Empress.

There is a substantial literature on the Tsar and Tsarina, and much information online, not least at the extensive Alexander Palace Time Machine. See Hope remains above all for further biography links. Wikipedia has an extensive entry on the murder of the Romanov family. It explains how the Bolsheviks revealed the death of Nicholas II but kept secret the other murders, and how it was only in 1979 that the bodies were discovered. It would be another 10 years, in the glasnost period, before the full details of that night - 16-17 July 1918 - were revealed to the West.

After Alexandra’s death, hundreds of letters she wrote to her husband were found at Ekaterinburg. These have been much employed by historians to help explain the unfolding of events prior to the  Russian Revolution. But, like her husband, Alexandra also seems to have kept diaries all her life. With the demise of the Soviet state, several of these, long hidden in the Moscow archives, came to light, including for the years 1887-1892, 1894 and 1916-1918. They are mostly written in English, though her native language was German (and she spoke fluent Russian). Only one of these, however, has been published in English (others have been translated into Russian and/or Dutch - see a discussion at the Alexander Palace Forum ), notably The Last Diary of Tsaritsa Alexandra, as edited by Vladimir A. Zozlov and Vladimir M. Khrustalëv (Yale University Press 1997).

According to Yale University Press: ‘The 1918 Diary takes us into [the Tsarista’s] private world, revealing the care she lavished on her children during this period of revolutionary turmoil, how she felt toward her husband, Tsar Nicholas, and what she imagined about the profound struggle - between past and present, old and new worlds, the sacred and the profane - then occurring over the destiny of Russia. The diary reveals that even in her most intimate reflections, she remained the representative of a great system of belief that had prevailed for hundreds of years in Russia and that she and Nicholas hoped to perpetuate. We see in painful detail the tragic daily confrontation between this system of belief and the reality of the modern world that had, in every sense, broken free of her and Nicholas’s control.’

Robert K. Massie, a US historian and biographer, provides an informative introduction to the Last Diary: ‘Its cryptic, unemotional style stands in sharp contrast to the tumultuous style of her letters. Here she is creating, for herself alone, a simple record of the highlights of each day: the weather and temperature; family illnesses and health; meals; periods and subjects of study; visitors (welcome and unwelcome); books read; games played. Her religious faith is evident. On the diary’s first page, she displays her effort to master the numerical system of Old Church Slavonic (different from everyday Russian, which uses Arabic numerals). Through the diary, she records saint’s days, feast days, and other religious holidays. Every religious service held by the family in Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg is set down. Usually, her feelings about an event break through only in a highly abbreviated form. Nevertheless, despite its style and brevity, the diary is filled with poignancy and drama. Alexandra does not know what is going to happen; the modern reader does. Fleshed out by our knowledge from other sources, this diary gives a clear picture of these grim weeks and tells us much about the character of this much-criticized, reclusive, and melancholy woman.’

The book also contains a short essay by Jonathan Brent (then editorial director at Yale University Press) on the diary itself in which he explains its rather pedantic form, its preoccupation with numbers and the use of coded language. He writes: ‘Alexandra’s diary brings the inexorable, predetermined succession of days, anniversaries, hours, and minutes - numbers following one another seemingly without end - into relation with the daily, unpredictable contingencies of the weather, her children’s temperatures, and the chaotic events of the Revolution. We see the empress presiding over a world within a world, which is given simple form in her daily observations.’ And, a little further on he says: ‘Although Alexandra’s incessant jottings of time, place, weather, holidays, and anniversaries may seem, at first glance, of little or no importance, they are, upon reflection, what give this little book unique significance as a text. The diary records not only the empress’s own day-by-day descent into the maelstrom of revolution and the modern world, but principally her symbolic accommodation of the new and her resistance to the destruction of a traditional order of thought, action, and belief.’

Here are the last seven entries in the Tsarista’s last diary (though I have left out the temperature and time notes that accompany each entry in the published work).

10 July 1918
‘Sunny morning.

Went out in the afternoon with the others, ideal weather; very strong back & leg ache fr. kidneys probably.

2 day the others have no meat & live upon Kharitonov’s Tobolsk remaining meagre provisions.

Took a bath.

bezique. They still find excuses not to bring Vladimir Nikolaevich’

11 July 1918
‘The Ox Command, insisted to see us all at 10, but kept us waiting 20 m. as was breakfasting &c eating cheese

wont permit us to have any more any cream. Workmen turned up outside & began putting up iron railings before our only open window. Always fright of our climbing out no doubt or getting into contact with the sentry. Strong pains continue. Greyish weather.

Brought me for 6 days, but so little only suffices for putting in the soup.

The Bull very rude to Kharitonov.

Remained in bed all day. Lunched only, as they brought the meat so late. Anastasia read to me whilst the others went out. Lovely weather.’

12 July 1918
‘Bright sunshine - in the afternoon then were severel showers 6c short thunderstorms.

The others went out twice, Maria remained with me, I spent the day on my bed & got into it again at 9:30. Lovely evening. Every day one of the girls reads to me Spir. Readings, i.e. Complete Yearly Cycle of Brief Homilies for Each Day of the Year (Grig. Diachenko).

Constantly hear artillery passing, infantry & twice cavalry during the course of this week. Also troops marching with music - twice it seems to have been the Austrian prisoners who are marching against the Chechs (also our former prisoners) who are with the troops coming through Siberia & not far fr. here now. Wounded daily arrive to the town.’

13 July 1918
‘Beautiful morning. I spent the day as yesterday lying on the bed, as back aches when move about.

Others went out twice. Anastasia remained with me in the afternoon. One says Nagorny & Sednyov have been sent out of this government, instead of giving them back to us.

At 6:30 Baby had his first bath since Tobolsk. He managed to get in & out alone, climbs also alone in & out of bed, but can only stand on one foot as yet. 9:45 I went to bed again.

Rained in the night.

Heard three revolver shots in the night.

14 July 1918
‘Beautiful summers morning. Scarcely slept because of back & legs. Had the joy of an obednitsa - the young Priest for the 2nd time.

The others walked - Olga with me. Spend the day on the bed again Tatiana stayed with me in the afternoon.

Spir. Readings, Book of the Prophet Hosea, ch. 4-14, Pr. Joel 1- the end.

tea - tatted all day & laid patiences. Played a little bezique in the eveing, they put my long straw couch in the big room so it was less tiring for me.

Took a bath & went to bed.’

15 July 1918
‘Greyish morning. Later sunshine. Lunched on the couch in the big room, as women came to clean the floors, then lay on my bed again & read with Maria J. Sirach 26-31. They went out twice as usual. In the morning Tatiana read to me Spir. Readings. Still no Vladimir Nikolaevich - at 6:30 Baby had his second bath - Bezique. Went to bed 10:15.

of warmth at 10:30 evening.

Heard the report of an artillery shot in the night & several revolver shots.’

16 July 1918
‘Grey morning, later lovely sunshine. Baby has a slight cold. All went out 1/2 hour in the morning, Olga & I arranged our medicines. Tatiana read Spir. Readings. They went out. Tatiana stayed with me Sc we read: Bk. of the Pr. Amos and Pr. Obadiah. Tatted. Every moring the Command, comes to our rooms, at last after a week brought eggs again for Baby.


Suddenly Lyonka Sednyov was fetched to go & see his Uncle & flew off - wonder whether its true & we shall see the boy back again!

Played bezique with Nicholas.

to bed. 15 degrees.’

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A dishcloth round my soul

‘I look through my diary notes from work on A Dream Play [Strindberg], not very encouraging reading. I was in bad shape, uneasy, dejected, tired, my right hip hurting and aching continually, and mornings were troublesome. My stomach was sabotaging me with cramps and attacks of diarrhoea. Tedium hung like a damp dishcloth round my soul.’ This is from the diary of Ingmar Bergman, Sweden’s greatest film director born a century ago today. Although he left behind ‘extensive diaries’, only a very few have ever been edited or published in Swedish, and none have appeared in English, except for a handful of extracts in Bergman’s autobiography.

Bergman was born on 14 July 2018 in Uppsala, Sweden, into a devout Lutheran household, though he himself later said he lost his faith at the age of eight. And, at the age of nine, he acquired a magic lantern, a possession which inspired an early fascination with theatre. As a teenager, he was sent one summer to Germany where he attended a Nazi rally, seeing Adolf Hitler. In 1937, he started at Stockholm university, studying art and literature, spending most of his time on theatre, and going to see films. Though he never completed his studies, he began to write scripts, and, in 1942, directed his own play, Caspar’s Death, which led to him being offered film script work for Svensk Filmindustri. The following year, he married Else Fisher, with whom he had one child, though they were divorced two years later. Bergman would marry four more times, and have at least eight more children.

In 1944, Svensk Filmindustri released Hets (Frenzy) directed by Alf Sjöberg, then Sweden’s leading film director, with an original screenplay written by Bergman. It was an international success, and led to Bergman being offered the chance to write and direct a film of his own, Kris (Crisis) released in 1946. During the next ten years or so he wrote and directed more than a dozen films, including Fängelse (Prison) and Sommaren med Monika (Summer with Monika). He achieved international success with Sommarnattens leende (Smiles of a Summer Night) in 1955 which was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Soon after, he directed Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal), also nominated for the Palme d’Or, and Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries) which won numerous awards. Many other films followed, some of which he made on the island of Fårö, where he spent much time.

In early 1976, Bergman was arrested by the Swedish authorities for tax invasion. Although the subsequent investigation collapsed and the charges were dropped, Bergman suffered a breakdown, closing his Fårö studio, suspending projects and removing himself to Germany. By the late 1970s, he was returning on visits to Sweden,  resuming his role as a director at Royal Dramatic Theatre, directing for Swedish television, and, in 1982, directing his last film, Fanny and Alexander (which won four Oscars, including best foreign film). Only in 1984, though, did he return permanently to live in Sweden. Retired from film directing, he continued to write scripts for film and television and to direct plays (such as A Dream Play). He died in 2007. Further information is available at Wikipedia, the Swedish Film Database, IMDB, New York Times obituary, and Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Jan Holmberg writing for the Swedish Film Database gives this assessment of Bergman. ‘Basically the same theme with variations permeates all of Bergman’s works: a universe peopled by dysfunctional families, humiliated but vampiric artists and an absent God symbolized by the characters’ overall inability to communicate. His style is austere and unobtrusive, except for his uncompromising close-ups, denuding the human face as at once enticing and mysterious. Bergman’s importance to the art of film cannot be overestimated. His insistence on doing most of his works in his native Swedish, so minor a language, and their nonetheless resounding around the world is unprecedented. He is without a doubt Sweden’s foremost twentieth century artist; perhaps the foremost ever.’

Most of Bergman’s literary output consisted of screenplays for his own films and those of other, but he also wrote plays, short stories, novels, essays, and two autobiographical works (Magic Lantern published in English by Hamish Hamilton in 1988, and Images: My Life in Film published by Arcade Publishing in 1994). According to the Ingmar Bergman Foundation website, his literary remains also include ‘extensive diaries and letters’ the vast majority of which remain unedited and unpublished. As far as I can tell, the only substantial extracts from Bergman’s diaries that have been published came in 2004, with Tre dagböcker (Three diaries), a compilation of the diaries of Ingmar Bergman, his wife Ingrid and their daughter Maria von Rosen covering just the years 1994 and 1995 (starting with Ingrid’s cancer diagnosis). Publication, by the Swedish company Norstedts, received publicity in the English media because of the revelation by Ingmar Bergman that he had had a secret daughter with a Swedish countess in the 1950s - see the BBC or Fox News for example.

Tre dagböcker has not been translated into English, but further details can be found at the Ingmar Bergman Foundation website, which also provides this translated quote from the foreword: ‘A few words on the editing of the diaries. They were written in the moment, and were never intended to be read by anyone author than their authors. Hardly anything has been changed or corrected. Almost everything has been presented exactly as it was written. Nor have we abridged the sections that contain a plodding monotony. They stand in contrast to the upsetting drama that has affected us.
Some may wonder why we have chosen to make such rough and unpolished documents public. The answer is that it has been a part of the grieving process. We have not attempted to hide or excuse our own shortcomings or our helplessness. This is no literary work, but a document. Not a book, but a testimony.’

Otherwise the only published trace of Bergman’s diaries I can find in English are in The Magic Lantern (as translated by Joan Tate) - this can be freely read online at Internet Archive. It was republished in 2007 by University of Chicago Press which described the book thus: ‘More grand mosaic than linear account, Bergman’s vignettes trace his life from a rural Swedish childhood through his work in theater to Hollywood’s golden age, and a tumultuous romantic history that includes five wives and more than a few mistresses. Throughout, Bergman recounts his life in a series of deeply personal flashbacks that document some of the most important moments in twentieth-century filmmaking as well as the private obsessions of the man behind them. Ambitious in scope yet sensitively wrought, The Magic Lantern is a window to the mind of one of our era’s great geniuses.’

Here are the only mentions by Bergman in The Magic Lantern of his diaries/note books (the page numbers refer to the pdf form at Internet Archive, not the published book).

Page 23
‘I look through my diary notes from work on A Dream Play [Strindberg play], not very encouraging reading. I was in bad shape, uneasy, dejected, tired, my right hip hurting and aching continually, and mornings were troublesome. My stomach was sabotaging me with cramps and attacks of diarrhoea. Tedium hung like a damp dishcloth round my soul.’

Page 24
‘On Friday 14 March we had the First run-through [of A Dream Play], letting it all go through without interruptions or re-runs. In my diary I wrote: “Frustrating run-through. Sitting there glaring. Totally outside. Totally unmoved. Well, time enough.” (The premiere had been planned for 17 April, seventy-nine years to the day-after the world premiere.)’

Page 46
‘For a month or so, we had been visited by two quiet, courteous gentlemen from the Tax Authority, who had been given a space in our temporarily empty office and were busy going through our accounts. They had also expressed a wish to be allowed to examine my Swiss firm, Personafilm, so we immediately sent for all the books and placed them at the gentlemen’s disposal.

No one had the time to bother about these quiet individuals in the empty room. According to my diary notes, I see that a voluminous memorandum from the Tax Authority landed with us on Thursday 22 January. I did not read it but sent it on to my lawyer.’

Page 47
‘In my notes on 22 January, I seem to be less worried about the memorandum from the Tax Authority than about a painful eczema that had broken out on the third finger of my left hand.

Ingrid and I had been married for five years. We lived in a newly built apartment house at Karlaplan 10 where Strindberg’s House had once stood.

We led a quiet bourgeois life, meeting friends, going to concerts and the theatre, seeing a number of films and working with gusto.

This is a brief background to what happened on 30 January and subsequently. There are no notes in my diary for the months that follow. I returned to writing them, intermittently, about a year later. So what follows will be what I remember in momentary images, sharply in focus, but blurred at the edges. . .’

Page 107
‘The summer was hot. Neither my wife, Ka’bi, nor I felt like hunting for a holiday house, so we stayed in Djursholm, paralyzed by the heavy thundery heat and our own despondency. I noted in my intermittent diary: “Life has precisely the value one puts on it,” undoubtedly a banal way of putting things but, to me, such insight was so breathlessly new I could not implement it.’

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Nanda’s views on planning

Gulzarilal Nanda, a Punjabi politician twice interim prime minister of India, was born 120 years ago today. As a young follower of Gandhi, he was imprisoned a couple of times for non-violent protest, but later he served the new independent nation’s government in various roles for more than 20 years. There is very little information about him readily available in English, but a biography (available to preview at Googlebooks) was published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, and this refers to, and quotes from, diaries he kept.

Nanda was born into a Hindu family on 4 July 1898 in Sialkot, Punjab, then a Province of British India but now part of Pakistan. He studied in Lahore, during which time he married Lakshmi. They would have three children. He also studied at Amritsar, Agra and Allahabad, taking up a social studies research post at Allahabad before being appointed Professor of Economics at National College in Bombay in 1921. He joined the Non-Cooperation Movement that same year, and the following year become Secretary of the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association (for which he worked until 1946). He was imprisoned for Satyagraha (a form of Gandhian non-violent resistance) in 1932 (and again between 1942 to 1944). In 1937, he was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly, subsequently serving in various capacities. He is credited with launching the Indian National Trade Union Congress, and, later, he became its President. In 1947, he went to Geneva, Switzerland as a government delegate to the International Labor Conference.

In 1950, Nanda was made vice-chairman of the Indian Planning Commission, and the following year he was appointed Planning Minister in the Indian Government. After being elected to the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) in 1952, he was reappointed as Minister for Planning, Irrigation, and Power. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha through several general elections up to and including one in 1971, though for different constituencies, serving in several ministerial positions (Union Minister for Labour and Employment during 1962-1963, and Minister for Home Affairs during 1963-1966). Most significantly, he was Prime Minister on two occasions, each time for 13 days, the first after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, and the second after the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in 1997. He died in 1998, aged 99. There is a little further biographical information available online in English, at Wikipedia, PM India, or History of India for example. However, there is also a biography of Nanda by the journalist Promilla Kalhan which is available to view at Googlebooks: Gulzarilal Nanda: A Life in the Service of the People. This was first published in 1997 by Allied Publishers for the Indian Association of Social Science Institutions.

Nanda was a diarist, although there is very little information about his diaries readily available online. Certainly, there is no sign they have been edited or published. However, Kalhan does mention them several times in her biography, and she quotes from them occasionally. Here are several relevant extracts from her narrative (those which include quotations from Nanda’s diary).

Pages 30-31
‘Nanda’s views on planning are spelt out in short notes he jotted down in his diary during the 1950s in his inimitable style - short, crisp and indicative. The following are some of the extracts from his diary on the subject of the Five-Year Plans:

“Planning: The people of the country have taken to planning, from the start - accepted it... At the top there were doubts, differences. Now the acceptance of planning is almost unanimous in the country.

The importance of industrialization has always been accepted. Gandhiji’s emphasis on cottage industries... Cottage industry, however, will not suffice. He said - produce cloth in the country and dispense with foreign machines etc. for producing cloth. But whatever foreign machinery cannot be dispensed with must be produced in the country e.g. for Railways etc. Even for development of cottage industries at a higher level the help of steel, electricity, irrigation is needed.

There are however differences still regarding the kind and degree of planning. Those are related more or less to some basic differences in the objective of planning or the relative emphasis inter se - or a kind of economic and social set up we are working for.

Two chief aims of planning:
(i) Best utilization of resources, i.e. no under-utilization and no waste.
(ii) The utmost realization of the objectives i.e. programme should be on lines calculable to activities and objectives in the optimum manner.” ’

Page 34
‘Moreover, as he pointed out in jottings in his diary, a shift from the private to the public sector was not without its dangers. If allowed to function unchecked, the bureaucracy could end up by ushering in state capitalism which would be difficult to dislodge. It could result in a kind of dictatorship, like that of Hitler or Stalin. It would lead to centralised power rather than democratic socialism. New habits of work through co-operatives had first to be formed. The aims of the working class could not be achieved by strikes and a slow down but by assuming greater responsibility and producing better results. Employment for everyone with a suitable level of income was an important step towards ushering in socialism.

Jawaharlal Nehru had said that he could not expect to see socialism established in his lifetime. But Nanda did not see why this should not be possible during the course of a few years, given the right outlook, promulgating the right institutions and leadership. He wrote in his diary: “Success of public enterprises is not simply a matter of internal efficiency, but adjustment to an environment so that a public enterprise can function effectively in conformity to social objectives of making the best use of all resources, human and material”. He had in mind employment and cottage industries among other needs. “In all this effort”, Nanda added “corruption is a serious hindrance to the development of a socialist pattern. The Prime Minister (Nehru) had described the problem in terms of food, clothing, shelter, education, medical aid and equal opportunity. When there is scope for corruption, there cannot be equal opportunity.” He said that “Some attention has to be paid to the well-being of women, landless labourers and tribals among others - and equality of opportunity to all children. The ideology underlying a socialistic pattern is not an exclusive concern of any one Party. It is the concern of the whole nation. Loyalty to the community is important to promote its abiding progress. Loyalty to one’s immediate personal interests comes later. Democratic socialism is a way of expressing it. Gandhian socialism is more expressive. Sarvodaya has a great deal to do with it. But it is better not to call it Sarvodaya. Its implications are far wider and deeper.” ’

Page 41
‘Prohibition found a place in the Second Five-Year Plan. In an entry in his diary dated January 1956 Nanda had this to say :“Prohibition: We have to make it successful. To whatever extent we go forward it must be attained effectively. We are told that only a very small percentage drink in India. That should be an added reason for carrying out prohibition because it should be easier to make it successful. When large numbers drink there is no strong public opinion against it. But if ninety per cent do not, it is a reservoir of public opinion which if utilized properly is a guarantee of success of prohibition.” ’

Page 90
’Nanda was in the habit of keeping a diary, to be exact, not one diary but notes on various subjects and therefore a number of diaries.’

Page 173
‘The last page of the diary, his most recent jotting consists of one word, repeated several times. The word is: Gayatri [famous Hindu mantra addressed to Savitr, the sun god].’

As notes in his earlier diaries reveal, Nanda was interested in Kurukshetra, starting colleges, possibly even a University devoting itself to the teaching of Indian culture and research. This not only became a reality but today the Kurukshetra University has become a full-fledged institution teaching other subjects as well.

Nanda’s diary indicates that he has been deeply concerned with the future governance of various institutions and welfare work started in Kurukshetra by him. He mentions the names of various people, including Sadhus he knew there, who might take over the responsibility. Nanda also bought some land in Kurukshetra with money he borrowed from one of his two sons, to set up some welfare projects. That he has been responsible for the upliftment of Kurukshetra is recognised by everyone.’

Blatant self-seekers

’I am very fond of John. He was a very capable PM, making the economy the best ever. However, the modern Tory Party is top-heavy with shallow minds and blatant self-seekers. They expect quick results and have little guts or loyalty. They short-change the leader when the going’s rough.’ This is from the colourful diaries of Woodrow Wyatt, born a century ago today. Early on, he was elected as a Labour MP, but later became more influential as a Thatcher-supporting journalist. His diaries, published posthumously, are said to have ‘provoked widespread outrage’.

Wyatt was born on 4 July 1918 in Kingston upon Thames, near London, the second son of a headteacher. He was educated in Eastbourne and at Worcester College, Oxford. He joined the army and served in the Second World War, rising to the rank of major. In 1945, he was elected to Parliament for Birmingham Aston, and remained an MP until 1955, serving as a junior minister in Clement Atlee’s final administration. Subsequently, he worked as a reporter for the BBC, before returning to Parliament in 1959 as member for Bosworth, Leicestershire, which he represented until 1970.

After leaving politics, Wyatt was appointed chairman of the Horserace Totaliser Board in 1976 (a position he retained until the year of his death). He continued his journalistic writing, most notably for the News of the World with a column called The Voice of Reason. He became an admirer and confidante of the Tory leader Margaret Thatcher. In 1987 he was appointed a life peer with the title Baron Wyatt of Weeford. He was considered one of the most outrageous and outspoken political figures of his age. He married four times, his third and fourth wives giving him a son and daughter respectively. He died in 1997. Three years later, his daughter, journalist Petronella Wyatt, published a book entitled Father, Dear Father: Life with Woodrow Wyatt (which can be previewed at Googlebooks). Further biographical information can also be found at Wikipedia, as well as from obituaries at The Independent, The New York Times and the BBC.

From the mid-1980s until the year of his death, Wyatt regularly tape-recorded diary entries which were then typed up by his secretary. These were
 edited by Sarah Curtis and published by Macmillan between 1998 and 2000 in three volumes. They are now all out of print (see Amazon), but second hand copies can be picked up cheaply. According to Curtis, Wyatt kept a diary in the hope that his memoirs would eventually provide for his wife (the fourth) when she was a widow, though he was also ‘conscious of making a contribution to history.’ She quotes him saying: ‘The manuscript is not merely intended as a source of income for my estate when I am dead. It is becoming more and more in my mind to be the only memorial I can ever leave.’ Curtis adds that the process of dictating events ‘became a lifeline to him, a form of therapy, a means to confide his true reactions beyond the badinage of ordinary social exchanges.’

According to Anthony Howard, writing in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log-in required): ‘[Wyatt’s] reputation was not enhanced by the posthumous publication from 1998 of three volumes of his Journals. These covered merely his life on the periphery of politics from 1985 but - through their wounding references to supposed friends and their brazen breaches of even royal confidences - provoked widespread outrage.’

A review of the first volume of journals can be found at the London Review of Books. Peter Clarke says: ‘What redeems these journals is that they have some good stories to tell and that Wyatt remained a good enough journalist to know how to tell them. Vain, snobbish, materialistic, greedy, reactionary and opinionated he may often appear, but at least he does not cover up his own lapses, foibles and frailties.’

But a review (entitled Lechery and treachery) of the third volume by Vanessa Thorpe, found on The Guardian website, makes an unfavourable comparison with Alan Clark’s diaries: ‘All private diarists are entitled to be inconsistent egotists, but when you decide to go into print you have a duty at least to entertain and there are three problems with Wyatt's attempts to do this. First, because he was a journalist, unlike Alan Clark, all his best stories were delivered up to the public at the time. Second, Wyatt is not prepared to be revealing enough about the areas of his life which were truly odd. Third, his writing lacks Clark’s imaginative phrasing.’

Here are several extracts from the third volume.

28 June 1992
‘My letter to the Mail on Sunday was printed, edited somewhat but not so badly that it was worth taking it [the matter] to the Press Complaints Commission.

Actually, of course, the truth is she [Princess Diana] is slightly barmy and whinging, making a bloody nuisance of herself and behaving incredibly badly, enthusing people to attack her husband through the Morton book. But I don’t want to be represented as saying that.

Another swim and another enormous breakfast, then off betimes to get to the Paul Getty cricket match.

The ground is amazing. I said to Paul, “It’s as though some deus ex machina had swooped out of the sky and scooped up great mounds of earth from the valley and put this cricket ground down among the hills.” He said, “That is roughly what did happen.”

Today in the Sunday Telegraph appears the great piece by Graham Turner with a photograph of us having lunch in the garden at Cavendish Avenue. He left out the 1961 date and he also didn’t mention the Pavilion Blanc, but I suppose it wasn’t too bad.

In the same Sunday Telegraph was a long interview of Petronella’s with Mrs Thatcher about the record she had been making of the Gettysburg speech, hoping to make money from it for her foundation. I didn’t think it was a very kind article. It talked about her voice being high pitched and I thought it was snide in some respects, in the way that Barbara Amiel says she mustn’t be - she will damage her own career because people won’t be willing to talk to her.

When we got back I talked to Margaret. She said she probably would make a maiden speech about Maastricht on Thursday when there is a debate in the Lords.

She is over-doing it a bit and I can’t restrain her. I said, “Your maiden speech is supposed to be non-controversial.” She said, “But I shall only be following precedent. Macmillan in his maiden speech attacked me.” ’

29 June 1992
‘Petronella had two tickets for the first night of Spread a Little Happiness: a Celebration by Vivian Ellis. It was an enormously happy affair, without rape or violence or any grizzly message or people traumatically disordered, disabled mentally or physically. In short it was romantic. I clapped so hard I nearly broke my thumb.’

30 June 1992
‘Margaret was introduced into the Lords today. The house was absolutely packed. I have never seen it so full. I managed to find a seat on the Opposition side, high up, because it all has to be rearranged when the introduction ceremony is on. Then pretty Baroness Hollis (Labour) came in to squeeze in beside me. She said, “Do you mind?” l said, “I never mind sitting next to a pretty girl.”

When Margaret came in, it was like a lioness entering into what she must realize is something of a cage. She was very dignified, fairly pretty but not quite as pretty as usual. When the ceremony finally finished and she shook hands with the Lord Chancellor on the way out, a very substantial “Hear, hear,” went up twice all round the chamber from all sides. They are looking forward to the fireworks.

She then came back without her robes, wearing a very attractive black dress and a beautiful diamond brooch, large, and sat where all the Tory Prime Ministers sit on the bench nearest the lobby, just apart from the normal Ministers’ front bench. She listened with great interest, particularly to Lord Stoddart asking why we couldn’t have a referendum on Maastricht. At one moment I looked across at her from where I was sitting on the crossbenches and she saw me and I blew her a kiss and she smiled very sweetly.

In the lobby outside was Denis Thatcher and his family, all very enthusiastic, saying what a great honour it was, which was piffle because it isn’t an honour at all for her to go into the Lords like any other life baroness. It was very mean of Number 10 not to arrange for her to become a life countess.’

29 January 1995
‘Talked at length to Margaret. She was full of complaints. She said John Major was previously madly pro Europe when he was in her Cabinet. Now he is reversing himself. He doesn’t believe in anything.

When I said I was convinced he would win she said, “I hope he does.” That she said in a sincere tone.

I asked her does she ever speak to him on the telephone to which she replied in a testy voice, “I won’t speak to him on the telephone because there are always leaks if I do. And I would only have a row with him in any case.”

After about half an hour or so we stopped talking. She did say her old, “God bless you for ringing, God bless.” She retains affection for me, that is clear, as I do for her and always will. Indeed, it’s more than affection, it’s a love I have for her.’

16 July 1997
‘John Major came to dinner. The dear wronged and injured man, free of the strains he was put under, was cheerful. He will give up Huntingdon to let Chris Patten in. “He’s my best friend.”

John said he wanted Patten to be Prime Minister and he would resign at the appropriate moment, possibly going to the Lords: he might not even do that.

I said I thought William Hague was pretty ghastly. John said he would get Chris Patten back in the House to challenge him. This is allowed under the rules where there can be a leadership change once a year, unless they alter the rules beforehand which I don’t believe Hague would dare to do. John said he voted for Kenneth Clarke for the leadership as the best man to rattle Blair on the economy, though he thought Ken a real bastard.

John thought they [Labour] would get two terms. It would be too difficult to disperse such a huge majority after only one parliament. I said, “It is quite extraordinary how all their ideas are yours and from the Tory Party.”

I suppose it is possible that Patten could be acceptable as a sort of centre candidate. He’d certainly be better than Hague. John said, “I don't want this dreadful, overdone, right-wing stuff all the time. I want someone to lead from the centre where it’s best to be, in the centre or slightly right.”

I remain convinced that Portillo has the best chance now that he has calmed down, but he must be warned to have no connection with David Hart. Rifkind was a fool to have him as his political adviser when he was a senior minister.

I am very fond of John. He was a very capable PM, making the economy the best ever. However, the modern Tory Party is top-heavy with shallow minds and blatant self-seekers. They expect quick results and have little guts or loyalty. They short-change the leader when the going’s rough.

It was lucky we didn’t have a cowardly crew like that when we stood alone against Hitler. They’re nothing like the old Tory MP squires who put first their duty to the country.’

The Diary Junction

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Nobody to dig the graves

‘On the 19th of May, died Erich Hansen Li, who, throughout the voyage, had been very industrious and willing, and had neither offended anyone nor deserved any punishment. He had dug many graves for others, but now there was nobody that could dig his, and his body had to remain unburied.’ This is from the astonishingly tragic diary of Jens Munk, a Norwegian-Danish explorer who died 390 years ago today. His expedition to find the Northwest Passage ended in disaster: with his vessels ice-bound, almost all his crew succumbed to cold, hunger or scurvy. Munk’s diary records every death day-by-day over a period of months.

Monck (or Munk) was born in 1579 and grew up on his father’s estate at Arendal, southeast Norway. After his father’s downfall, he left with his mother to live in Aalborg, Denmark, but aged on 12 he embarked on a life at sea. He was sailing with a Dutch convoy, when it was attacked by pirates off the coast of Brazil. Munk survived, and then spent six years in Bahia working for a Portuguese magnate. In 1599, he managed to return to Denmark where he found a position as a ship’s clerk, eventually becoming a successful seafaring tradesman himself. In the 1610s, he was commissioned on various exploratory and military missions by the Danish-Norwegian king, Christian IV. On one of these, in 1615, he captured Jan Mendoses - a notorious privateer - off the northern coast of Russia. In 1618, the king appointed him commander of the first Danish expedition to East India with five vessels and nearly a 1,000 men, but the command was taken away from him weeks before sailing, probably because of a conflict with the Lord Chancellor. Around this time, Munk also suffered the loss of a large amount of money due to a failed whaling expedition

In 1619, Munk set out, with two royal vessels and 65 men, on an ambitious expedition to find the Northwest Passage. In September, he found the entrance to Hudson Bay becoming the first European to explore the bay’s western reaches. But the expedition then spent a disastrous winter near the mouth of what is now known as the Churchill River, a place Munk named Nova Dania (New Denmark). Everyone except Munk and two crewmen died from cold, hunger and scurvy; but, remarkably, with the onset of summer, the three men managed to return home sailing one of the vessels. Punk was imprisoned at Bergen for a short while but released on order of the king, and returned to Copenhagen. He continued to serve the king in various capacities, though a planned second expedition in search of the Northwest Passage never materialised. In 1625, the king promoted him to admiral in charge of a fleet on the Weser during the Thirty Years War. He died on 26 June 1928. Further information is available at Wikipedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia, the Northern Lights Route, and in the book Exploring Polar Frontiers.

Munk kept a diary of his voyage to Hudson’s Bay in 1619-1620. He published this in 1624 under the title Navigatio Septentrionalis, illustrated with a map of Greenland/Hudson’s Bay, and two woodcuts. It was first translated into English and published in 1650 as An account of a most dangerous voyage perform’d by the famous Capt. John Monck, in the years 1619, and 1620. This is freely available online at Googlebooks (though the printed text uses the old-fashioned long s). However, the diary is also available in a modern script in the second volume of Hakluyt Society’s Danish Arctic Expeditions 1605-1620 published in 1897 - see Internet Archive. This also contains extensive notes and a long introduction by C. C. A. Gosch (and is the source of the following extracts).

12 July 1619
‘On the 12th of July, I sent my lieutenant with some of the crew on shore at Munckenes [named by Munk], in order to fetch water and to ascertain what was to be found there, because it seemed a likely place for finding harbours and for obtaining water. In the evening, they returned with water, and reported that there were harbours but no anchorage; nor could we lie there in safety from ice. We were, therefore, obliged to choose the better of two bad alternatives, because nowhere in the channel could we see open water. Half a mile from Munckenes, I caused the lead to be thrown, and reached the bottom at 150 fathoms. On the same day, I shot two or three birds with a gun; but, at the last discharge, the same gun burst into pieces, and took the brim clean off the front of my hat.’

13 July 1619
‘On the 13th of July, towards evening, we were in the greatest distress and danger, and did not know what counsel to follow, because we could not advance any further by tacking, the ice pressing us hard on all sides. Being, then, in such a perilous situation, all the officers considered it most advisable to take in all the sails and fasten the sloop Lamprenen to the ship Enhiörningen; which, accordingly, was done. We then commended all into the hand of God; and, trusting to God’s merciful assistance, we drifted along and into the ice again. This incident of the attack of the ice and the distress of the ships in the ice are shown on the plate accompanying this treatise.

While we thus drifted forwards and backwards in the ice, in great danger of our lives, the ice displaced a large knee in the ship, which was situated under the peg of the head of the ship, and fastened with six large iron bolts; wherefore I set all my carpenters to work to set that knee straight again. But it was too big for them, so that they could do nothing with it in that place. I therefore had the ship swung round and turned, so that the side to which the knee had come into a crooked position drifted against the ice, and then ordered the rudder to be worked so as to turn against the ice in order that the knee in a measure might right itself again, which also was effected as perfectly as if 20 carpenters had been engaged in refitting it. Afterwards, the carpenters adjusted the bolts which had become bent.’

12 September 1619
‘In the morning early, a large white bear came down to the water near the ship, which stood and ate some Beluga flesh, off a fish so named which I had caught the day before. I shot the bear, and the men all desired the flesh for food, which I also allowed. I ordered the cook just to boil it slightly, and then to keep it in vinegar for a night, and I myself had two or three pieces of this bear-flesh roasted for the cabin. It was of good taste and did not disagree with us.’

21 January 1620
On the 21st January, it was fine clear weather and sunshine; and, on that date, thirteen of us were down with sickness. Then, as I had often done before, I asked the surgeon, M. Casper Caspersen aforesaid, who was also lying mortally ill, whether he knew of any good remedy that might be found in his chest and which might serve for the recovery or comfort of the crew, as well as of himself, requesting him to inform me of it. To this he answered that he had already used as many remedies as he had with him to the best of his ability and as seemed to him advisable, and that, if God would not help, he could not employ any further remedy at all that would be useful for recovery.’

1 March 1620
‘On the 1st of March, died Jens Borringholm and Hans Skudenes; and, the sickness having now prevailed so far that nearly all of the crew lay sick, we had great difficulty in getting the dead buried.’

4 March 1620
‘On the 4th of March, the weather was mild, and we caught five ptarmigan in the open country, which were very welcome to us. I ordered broth to be made of them, and had that distributed amongst the sick; but, of the meat, they could eat nothing, because of their mouths being badly affected inside with scurvy.’

8 March 1620
‘On the 8th of March, died Oluf Boye, who had been ill nearly nine weeks, and his body was at once buried.’

9 March 1620
‘On the 9th of March, died Anders, the cooper, who had lain sick since Christmas, and his body was at once buried.’

11 March 1620
‘On the 11th of March, the sun entered Aries; it was then the Spring Equinox, night and day being equally long. In those quarters, the sun rose in the East-South-East, and set in the West-North-West at 7 o’clock in the evening; but it was not really more than six o’clock on account of the variation. On the same day, the weather was fine and mild, and I had all the snow thrown off the deck of the ship and had it nicely cleaned. At that time, I had but few to choose between that could do any work.’

11 May 1620
On the 11th of May, it was very cold, so that we all remained quietly in our berths that day; because, in our extreme weakness, we could not stand any cold, our limbs being paralyzed and, as it were, crushed by the cold.’

12 May 1620
‘On the 12th of May, died Jens Jörgensen, carpenter, and Suend Marstrand; and God knows what misery we suffered before we got their bodies buried. These were the last that were buried in the ground.’

16 May 1620
‘On the 16th of May, it was very cold indeed. Then died the skipper, Jens Hendrichsen; and his body had to remain unburied.’

19 May 1620
‘On the 19th of May, died Erich Hansen Li, who, throughout the voyage, had been very industrious and willing, and had neither offended anyone nor deserved any punishment. He had dug many graves for others, but now there was nobody that could dig his, and his body had to remain unburied.’

20 May 1620
‘On the 20th of May, the weather was fine and mild and the wind southerly. It was a great grief to us that, whilst God gave such an abundance of various kinds of birds, none of us was strong enough to go into the country and shoot some of them.’

17 July 1620
‘On the 17th of July, towards evening, I met much ice, and I stood off and on in front of the ice; but, in the course of the night, the weather being calm and misty, we stuck firm on the ice. I then let go the boat of Enhiörningen, which I had taken in tow for the purpose of having it for use if I should come near to land anywhere.’

The Diary Junction