Thursday, November 15, 2018

The first biospeleologist

Emil Racoviţă, one of the most distinguished of Romanian scientists, was born 150 years ago today. Though he lived in France for much of his life, it was in the Romanian city of Cluj that he opened the world’s first Institute of Speleology, his own speciality being the study of fauna found in caves. Early on in his career, he took part in a famous Belgian expedition to Antartica, and kept a diary of the expedition. Later, he kept diaries of some of his caving explorations - one of which can be found online at the National History Museum of Romania.

Racoviţă was born on 15 November 1868 into a well-off, cultured family near Iaşi in Romania. During his school years, he became passionate about the natural sciences though, to please his family, he studied law in Paris. After completing his law studies in 1889, he studied the natural sciences to degree level in 1891, and then undertook postgraduate studies, focusing on marine biology, achieving a PhD in 1896. Thereafter, he was selected to join an international research expedition to Antarctica, aboard the ship Belgica, under the aegis of Belgium’s Royal Society of Geography. Racoviță is considered the first researcher to collect botanical and zoological samples from areas beyond the Antarctic Circle. From Rio de Janeiro, he managed to sail ahead of the Belgica to spend three weeks in Punta Arenas studying the Amerindian population, fauna and flora, and exploring caves. Later on, the Belgica ran into considerable difficulties with ice, and two member of the team died; nevertheless the expedition, which returned to Europe in 1899, was considered a success.

Over the next year or two, Racoviţă lectured on the results of the voyage, in Paris and Brussels and in Romania. He settled in Banyuls-sur-Mer, on the Mediterranean coast near the border with Spain, as deputy director of the Arago laboratory. He was also co-editor of the journal Archives de zoologie expérimentale et générale. In 1904, during an expedition to study Cuevas del Drach, a cave system on the isle of Majorca with a large underground lake, Racoviţă discovered a new species of cave crustaceans. Thereafter, he decided to devote his studies primarily to, what he called, biospéologie - i.e. biospeleology, the study of organisms that live in caves. He went on to study many hundreds of caves across Europe, often with his young French assistant Hélène Boucard, who he married in 1907. That same year, he founded the journal, Biospeologica.

After the First World War, Racoviţă finally heeded calls from the Romanian government for him to return home. He was appointed professor of biology at the university in Cluj, and soon opened an Institute of Speleology, the first of its kind in the world. He remained its director until his death. He continued to take part in cave expeditions, particularly in the Carpathian mountains. From 1926 to 1929 he served as president of the Romanian academy. In 1940, when Cluj was given to Hungary under the so-called Vienna Award, Racoviţă and his institute took refuge in Timisoara, only returning to Cluj after four scientifically barren years. He died in November 1947, two days after his 79th birthday. A little further biographical information is available online, at Wikipedia (though a Google translation of the French Wikipedia page is more informative than the English one), Show Caves, Geni, and an archived Romanian Speleology page. There is also a good deal of information about the Belgica expedition in the journal Polar Research.

Racoviţă kept a diary, in French, during his Antarctic expedition. Some sources suggest this was published in 1899m but I can’t find any trace of it. However, it was published in 1998 by Fondation culturelle roumaine in Bucharest as part of Belgica (1897-1899): Emile Racovitza: le naturaliste de l’expédition antarctique Belgica: lettres, journal antarctique, conférences. Moreover, the National History Museum of Romania has, on its Capodopere 2019 website, some information about, and photographs of, a manuscript diary kept by Racoviţă in 1901-1902. It contains about 50 pages, of which 36 are filled with annotations and scientific observations concerning caves in Spain.

Comings and goings

Margaret Mead, one of the US’s most widely known 20th century anthropologists, died 30 years ago today. Her studies of traditional cultures in the Pacific and Southeast Asia led her, early on, to develop the idea that civilised nations might have something to learn from more traditional societies, and, more specifically, that a society’s culture played a significant role in the psychosexual development of its young people. She was a firm believer in detailed observation of traditional social life, a way of study which led her, on one occasion, to include a diary as part of an academic paper. As a child, also, she is known to have started many a journal, though none lasted very long.

Mead was born in 1901 in Philadelphia, the first of five children, but raised in nearby Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Her father was a professor of finance, at the University of Pennsylvania, and her mother was a sociologist. The family moved often, so Mead’s early education was provided by her grandmother; but from 1912 to 1926 the family lived at Longland, now also known as the Margaret Mead Farmstead. She studied anthropology at Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts college in Manhattan, receiving her degree in 1923. She transferred to Columba University for her postgraduate studies, travelling to Samoa in 1925 for fieldwork, and received her PhD in 1929. From 1926, though, she was employed by American Museum of Natural History, New York City, as assistant curator. Thereafter, her work often took her back to Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

In 1928, Mead published the first of more than 20 books - Coming of Age in Samoa - which details the sexual life of teenagers in Samoan society, providing a stark contrast to those in the United States. From her observations, she theorised that culture has a leading influence on psychosexual development, and she challenged educators to consider that the ‘civilized’ world might have something to learn from the ‘primitive’. Encyclopaedia Britannica says the book is a perennial best seller, and ‘a characteristic example of her reliance on observation rather than statistics for data’. However, EB also says that it clearly indicates her belief in cultural determinism, ‘a position that caused some later 20th-century anthropologists to question both the accuracy of her observations and the soundness of her conclusions’. Other books followed including, Growing Up in New Guinea, Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies.

In 1942, Mead was promoted, at the American Museum of Natural History, to associate curator, becoming curator of ethnology in 1964 and curator emeritus in 1969. She was married three times, lastly, from 1936, to the British anthropologist Gregory Bateson, with whom she had a daughter, Mary, who also went on to become an anthropologist. In 1942, she published, with her husband, Balinese Character: A Photographic Analysis. However, the couple separated in 1947, and were divorced in 1950. She also had long-term relationships with women, notably Ruth Benedict and, for the last decades of her life, Rhoda Metraux, both of whom were also anthropologists.

Over the years, Mead became something a celebrity, and was notable for her political stances on, among other things, women’s rights, child rearing, population control, sexual morality, and world hunger. She continued publishing: Anthropology: A Human Science (1964), and Culture and Commitment (1970) for example. In 1972, she published Blackberry Winter, an autobiography of her early years. The following year, she was elected to the presidency of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She died on 15 November 1978, and a year later later was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US’s highest civilian honour. Further information is available also from Wikipedia, The Philosophers’ Mail, The Institute for Intercultural Studies, or the Encyclopedia of World Biography.

The Library of Congress has an online exhibition entitled Margaret Mead: Human Nature and the Power of Culture. There are several references to diaries kept by Mead but also by her mother. On learning the she was pregnant, Mead’s mother began keeping a diary of her state of mind and daily experiences, believing these factors would affect her baby’s development. She continued the note-taking after Margaret’s birth, eventually filling thirteen notebooks with observations on minute details of Margaret’s behavior and development. The site provides an image of one page, titled Characteristics at 6 Years. The LoC website also notes that Mead, herself, started several journals as a child but did not keep any of them consistently. It provides images of pages from two such journals: one with a record of her sister’s language development, and the other of a first page in a new journal started when she was nine:

11 July 1911
‘My name is Margaret Meade. I am spending the summer on the island of Nantucket, Mass. It is boiling weather here. I went in bathing this morning, early, and I did not feel one bit cooler for it eather. Yesterday, Alace Chapmion and me decided that each of us shood write a diary, and Alace came over and showed me a book she had goten for the diary, and I have goten the same kind. I got up at six o’clock in the morning, and got dressed, then I came down and played with my little sister whose name is Elizabeth . . .’

Elsewhere, there is evidence that, as an adult, Mead kept a diary on field trips as well as personal diaries. For example, Mary Bowman-Kruhm says in her book Margaret Mead: A Biography that as an adult Mead returned to ‘making diary entries and in fact was a copious and methodical notetaker for the rest of her life.’ Also, in at least one of her academic papers (the one mentioned below) she quotes briefly from what she calls her ‘personal diary’. Furthermore, the Library of Congress, which holds her archive - Margaret Mead papers and South Pacific Ethnographic Archives, 1838-1996 - says that her field expeditions to American Samoa, Bali, and Papua New Guinea ‘are well documented by correspondence, diaries and notebooks, notes, catalogs, indexes, and other items’.

However, with one exception, none of her diaries have been published. The exception is, essentially, a scientific record of one of her anthropological projects between January and August 1932: The mountain Arapesh - IV. Diary of Events in Alitoa (Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, Volume 40). The diary is part of a much longer paper, in which Mead’s observations are minutely analysed, and discussed. The paper can be freely downloaded from the museum’s website. Here is one extract from the diary part.

12 February 1932
‘The day was full of comings and goings. It began early in the morning with a temper tantrum of Amus’ because her father had refused to take her with him to work. Both her mother and her mother’s co-wife Alaijo were away. He finally took both the little girls with him to work sago.

Early in the morning Taumulimen washed; she and Alis set off for their bush hamlet. Since she had responded to the castor oil, there had been no more talk of her having been sorcerized, although Alis had talked a good deal about his own sorcery state, and tried to get various kinds of medicine from me.

Kule now planned that all of them should return to their bush hamlet to hunt for Balidu’s feast. He sent Soatsalamo and Mausi and the baby ahead. He, Ilautoa, and Naguel stayed, it was said, to get firewood and follow the next day. Then Kule got the idea of turning his ground house around so that the smoke of cooking would not blow into the faces of the visitors seated on Balidu’s plaza. This ground house would be needed during the feast days. He pulled it down and set up the framework again during the day.

Ombomb went to work sago early in the morning, but came back before noon and
shouted for Miduain to come up and get some yams for her family. She came up. Sinaba’i and his wife and child came soon after. Duboma-gau had joined our shoot boys at dawn.

Two young men from Boinam, the sons of Balidu’s gift friend in Boinam, appeared. After shouts, Badui came up from the garden to receive them. Maigi and Badui’s young wife who cooked for the visitors accompanied him.

Early in the morning Ombomb had seen Wabe, who at Bischu’s request had joined him in going to the Plains with the Waginara man on a sorcery investigation. It was publicly said that Wabe and Bischu had gone to the Plains to look for dogs to mark. They were planning to go by Bonaheitum, to Biligil and Kairiru, and return by Dunigi, sleeping there the next night with Ombomb’s affinal relatives (February 13) where they would be met by Ombomb and his wife who would return with them.

Ulaba’i’s brother-in-law from Numidipiheim came to see him. Whasimai, the Numidipiheim wife, stayed about all day. Ibanyos went to get pepper leaves for the visitor.’

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Reprehensible social views

‘One can acknowledge that there are Jews of the highest respectability, and yet regard it as a misfortune that there are so many Jews in Germany, and that they have complete equality of political rights with citizens of Aryan descent.’ This is the great German mathematician and philosopher, Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege, born 170 years ago today, writing in a diary he kept for a month in the last year of his life. Although his academic work was largely ignored during his life time, it became better known in the 20th century, and his ideas and books are now considered to have made a seminal contribution to the development of the philosophy of language and mathematics and of modern logic. However, according to its translator, the diary fragment, which was not published until the 1990s, showed him to have ‘reprehensible social views’.

Frege was born on 8 November 1848 in Wismar, Mecklenburg-Schwerin. His father founded a girls’ high school, and when he died his mother took it over. 
Friedrich profited from a good schooling himself, and went on to study maths and physics, mentored by the mathematician Ernst Carl Abbe, at the University of Jena, matriculating in 1869. He moved to continue his postgraduate studies at the University of Göttingen, receiving a PhD in 1873 for a thesis on the geometrical representations of imaginary forms in a plane. Thereafter he returned to the University of Jena as a lecturer, and Abbe helped him progress to a post as associate professor. He was appointed a full professor in 1896.

Frege lectured in all branches of mathematics and also on his own logical system, though many of his publications were philosophical in character - On Sense and Reference, for example, and The Thought. He is credited by many as the father of ‘analytic philosophy’; his work on logic and language underpinned the rise of the so-called ‘linguistic turn’ in philosophy. Some of his books - such as Begriffsschrift and Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik - are today considered seminal texts. He married Margarete Lieseberg in 1887, and the couple adopted one son.

In 1907, Frege was awarded the prestigious title of Hofrat; and during the early 1910s he was visited several times by Ludwig Wittgenstein. However, his work was largely ignored during his lifetime, and only became more widely known when given attention by the British  philosopher Bertrand Russell and the Italian mathematician Giuseppe Peano. In 1918, Frege retired to Bad Kleinen in the north of Germany (near Wismar), and he died in 1925. For further information see Wikipedia, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Encyclopaedia Britannica and

In 1973, the British philosopher Michael Dummett published Frege: Philosophy of Language which was soon accepted as a definitive work on Frege’s philosophy. Dummett’s preface drew attention to a diary that Frege had kept in the last year of his life, and which proved something of a shocking find. (In fact, the original diary no longer exists, and it is a transcript, prepared by Frege’s son in the late 1930s, that can be found in the Frege Archives at the Institut fur mathematische Logik und Grundlagenforschung at Munster University.)

‘There is some irony for me,’ Drummet says, ‘in the fact that the man about whose philosophical views I have devoted, over years, a great deal of time to thinking, was, at least at the end of his life, a virulent racist, specifically an anti-semite. This fact is revealed by a fragment of a diary which survives among Frege’s Nachlass [collection of manuscripts, notes, correspondence], but which was not published with the rest by Professor Hans Hermes in Freges nachgelassene Schriften. The diary shows Frege to have been a man of extreme right-wing opinions, bitterly opposed to the parliamentary system, democrats, liberals, Catholics, the French and, above all, Jews, who he thought ought to be deprived of political rights and, preferably, expelled from Germany. When I first read that diary, many years ago, I was deeply shocked, because I had revered Frege as an absolutely rational man, if, perhaps, not a very likeable one. I regret that the editors of Frege’s Nachlass chose to suppress that particular item. From it I learned something about human beings which I should be sorry not to know; perhaps something about Europe also.’

It would be another 20 years, in 1996, before the diary was translated into English by Richard L. Mendelsohn and published in Inquiry (Volume 36 of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy) as, Diary: Written by Professor Dr Gottlob Frege in the Time from 10 March to 9 April 1924. This is available to read online at the Taylor & Francis website for a fee, or, currently, it can be read for free at the Yumpu website. A discussion of Frege and his diary can also be found in When Reason Goes on Holiday: Philosophers in Politics by Neven Sesardic - see Googlebooks.

According to Mendelssohn’s preface in Inquiry, the views expressed by Frege in the diary were shared by many in his day: ‘What the diary shows more clearly than ever is how much Frege was a creature of his time, and how much more closely than we had previously been able to discern he was involved in and influenced by the philosophical activities of his time. There is, I know, a rather sharp difference between an individual’s philosophical views and his political views, and this is especially true when the philosophical views are so far removed from anything practical, as is the case with Frege.  The reprehensible social views expressed in the diary shake neither the truth nor the inventiveness of his philosophical achievements. But they do make it more difficult to read his texts with the same ease and sympathy - and admiration. I find myself deeply confused and troubled by the diary, and compelled to work to disseminate it as widely as possible.’

Here are several extracts from Mendelsohn’s translation of the Frege diary fragment.

24 March 1924
‘From our earliest education onwards we are so accustomed to using the word ‘number’ and the number-words that we do not consider our use to require justification. To the mathematicians it appears beneath their dignity to concern themselves with such childish matters. But we find the most diverse and contradictory statements about number and numbers among them. Indeed, after prolonged occupation with these questions, we come to suspect that our way of using language is misleading, that number-words are not proper names of objects at all and words like ‘number’, ‘square number’, and the rest are not concept-words; and that consequently a sentence like ‘Four is a square number’ simply does not express that an object is subsumed under a concept, and so just cannot be regarded like the sentence ‘Sirius is a fixed star’. But how then is it to be regarded?’

2 April 1924
‘Already before the war, the view that the economic condition of the poor employees could and had to be improved at the expense of the employers infected a wide circle of the German people, far beyond the boundaries of Social Democracy, like a contagious disease, and this infection of the German people continues up to the present. Until it recedes, one cannot hope for a real recovery of the German people. Only by improving the economic condition of the whole nation can the economic condition of the poor social stratum be permanently improved. How can that happen? The debts and other obligations of the Reich are, if at all possible, not to be increased. Against this, a Reich treasure is to be accumulated.20 This project must be held to tenaciously.’

22 April 192443
‘When I was a child, my native town Wismar had a position in Mecklenburg similar to that which later Lübeck, Hamburg, and Bremen had in the Reich. That is to say, it enjoyed great internal independence. There was a law at that time that Jews were permitted to stay overnight in Wismar only in the time of certain annual fairs. Then, they would first be rung in by the bell and then rung out. I suppose that this decree was old. The old inhabitants of Wismar must have had experiences with the Jews that had led them to this legislation.

It must have been very much the Jewish way of doing business together with the Jewish national character that is tied closely to this way of doing business. One had also probably seen that little was achieved through laws which forbade such business practices. So it came that I could not have bad experiences with Jews. This was changed only in 1866 with the establishment of the North German Confederation. There came universal suffrage, also for Jews. There came the freedom of movement, also for Jews, presents from France. We make it so easy for the French to bless us with gifts. If one had only turned to noble and patriotic Germans, and instead of persecuting them in the time of the reaction, used their help in producing decrees and institutions arising from the German spirit and heart! The French had treated us nastily enough indeed before 1813, and nevertheless we have this blind admiration for all things French. We reckoned the French so far in front of us that we believed we could hardly catch up with them with seven-league boots. Was there yet perhaps also a seed in us from which something German could have been developed? I have only in the last years really learned to comprehend antisemitism. If one wants to make laws against the Jews, one must be able to specify a distinguishing mark [Kennzeichen] by which one can recognize a Jew for certain. I have always seen this as a problem.’

30 April 1924
‘One can acknowledge that there are Jews of the highest respectability, and yet regard it as a misfortune that there are so many Jews in Germany, and that they have complete equality of political rights with citizens of Aryan descent; but how little is achieved by the wish that the Jews in Germany should lose their political rights or better yet vanish from Germany. If one wanted laws passed to remedy these evils, the first question to be answered would be: How can one distinguish Jews from non-Jews for certain? That may have been relatively easy sixty years ago. Now, it appears to me to be quite difficult. Perhaps one must be satisfied with fighting the ways of thinking [Gesinnung] which show up in the activities of the Jews and are so harmful, and to punish exactly these activities with the loss of civil rights and to make the achievement of civil rights more difficult.’

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The journals of James Cook

James Cook, one of the great heroes of the exploration age, was born 390 years ago today. He captained three famous expeditions to the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia, thus radically changing western perceptions of world geography; but he was killed during the third voyage. His expedition journals were used extensively by himself and others for published accounts of the journeys, however it was not until the 19th century that the journals themselves were given any serious attention, and it was only in the mid-20th century that they were published in full.

Cook was born at Marton, Yorkshire, on 7 November 1728, the son of a labourer and his wife. He grew up on a farm, and was apprenticed to a shopkeeper before moving to Whitby to become apprenticed to a coal shipping company. For several years, he worked on vessels plying the English coast, between the Tyne and London, but in his spare time he studied hard, navigation and other maritime skills. With his apprenticeship completed, Cook served on trading ships in the Baltic Sea, and was promoted to mate. In 1755, he joined the British Navy. His first posting was with HMS Eagle, as able seaman and master’s mate. Two years later, he passed his master’s examinations, and joined the frigate HMS Solebay as master under Captain Robert Craig. In 1762, he married Elizabeth Batts, and they had six children though three died as infants, and the other three died before having children of their own.

During the Seven Years’ War, Cook served in North America as master aboard the fourth-rate Navy vessel HMS Pembroke. There, he gained a reputation for the quality of his surveying, producing the first large-scale maps of the Newfoundland coast. In 1768, Cook was promoted to lieutenant, and given charge of a scientific voyage to the Pacific Ocean to observe the transit of Venus across the sun. His expedition  - on board HMS Endeavour - sailed to Tahiti, to complete the observations, but were not as successful as had been hoped. However, he had also been charged with trying to find a southern continent. After sailing round and mapping New Zealand, he reached the southeastern coast of, what would be called, Australia, on 19 April 1770. Within days he had made the first direct observation of indigenous Australians. Thereafter, the expedition sailed up the east coast, and Cook claimed it all as British territory.

During a second journey, in HMS Resolution (with a companion ship, HMS Adventure), Cook, now with the rank Commander, sailed farther south than any other European, searching for a speculative southern continent. In fact, he circled what would be called Antarctica without sighting it. Before returning to England, he surveyed, mapped, and took possession for Britain of South Georgia, and he discovered and named Clerke Rocks and the South Sandwich Islands. In 1775, he was promoted to captain, and given an honorary retirement. 

The following year, however, Cook departed on a third voyage, again in HMS Resolution (but accompanied by HMS Discovery), aimed at locating a Northwest Passage around the American continent. During this journey, he became the first European to begin formal contact with the Hawaiian Islands, he sailed along the northwest coast of North America, he landed on Vancouver Island, and he sailed through the Bering strait. However, after being blocked by ice, he returned to the Pacific and Hawaii in particular. There, in February 1779, arguments broke out between the crew and the islanders, one of which led to an islander murdering Cook. Further biographical information is readily available online from Wikipedia, Royal Museums Greenwich, the Australian Dictionary of Biography, or the Captain Cook Society.

Soon after the completion of the first expedition, John Hawkesworth brought out A New Voyage Round the World in the Years 1768, 1799, 1770 and 1771 - Performed by Captain James Cook, In the Ship Endeavour - Drawn up from his own journal and from the papers of Joseph Banks. This became the de facto popular account of the famous voyage, though Cook’s own journal and voice was subsumed in Hawkesworth’s narrative - available at Internet Archive

It was not until 1893, that a first version of Cook’s journal was published, as edited by Captain W. J. L. Wharton: Captain Cook’s Journal made in H.M. Bark “Endeavour: 1768-71 - A Literal Transcription of the Original MSS. This can be freely read at Internet ArchiveProject Gutenberg Australia or the University of Adelaide ebooks site. More recently, an online edition of the journal - The Journals of James Cook’s First Pacific Voyage, 1768-1771 - has been made available at South Seas (a website hosted by the National Library of Australia) along with other accounts of the same expedition. A few journal entries can also be found at the Captain Cook Society website.

Cook, in fact, was not happy with the published narrative of his first voyage, and was determined, after his second voyage, to prevent the kind of editorial license that Hawkesworth had enjoyed with the journal of his first expedition. He persuaded the Admiralty (for whom the reports were formally written) to let himself take full editorial control of publishing the expedition account. This led to him publishing, in 1777, of A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World
 - Performed in His Majesty’s ships the Resolution and Adventure, in the years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775 (available at Internet Archive: volume 1, volume 2).

However, Cook warned the reader as follows: ‘I shall therefore conclude this introductory discourse with desiring the reader to excuse the inaccuracies of style, which doubtless he will frequently meet with in the following narrative; and that, when such occur, he will recollect that it is the production of a man, who has not had the advantage of much school education, but who has been constantly at sea from his youth; and though, with the assistance of a few good friends, he has passed through all the stations belonging to a seaman, from an apprentice boy in the coal trade, to a post-captain in the royal navy, he has had no opportunity of cultivating letters. After this account of myself, the public must not expect from me the elegance of a fine writer, or the plausibility of a professed book-maker; but will, I hope, consider me as a plain man, zealously exerting himself in the service of his country, and determined to give the best account he is able of his proceedings.’

Cook’s third and ill-fated expedition resulted in publication of A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean (in four volumes), authored by James Cook (who before his death had spent much time onboard preparing an account of the expedition for publication) and James King (who took over command of the last expedition after Cook’s successor Charles Clerke also died). Soon after, Lieutenant John Rickman edited Cook’s own journal for publication as Journal of Captain Cook’s last voyage to the Pacific Ocean - see Internet Archive.

It was not until the middle of the 20th century, though, that the full extent of Cook’s expedition diaries were published. The project was undertaken by John Caste Beaglehole for the Hakluyt Society. The journal of the first expedition was published in 1955, the second in 1961 and the third in 1967, running to four large volumes totalling over 3,000 pages - now in print again thanks to Routledge (Boydell and Brewer). In 1999, Philip Edwards selected and edited Beaglehole’s editions for a one volume compendium published by Penguin. This can be previewed at Googlebooks.

Edwards calls the Beaglehole editions ‘one of the finest achievements of twentieth-century scholarship’. And here is more from his introduction.

‘What Beaglehole was able to present over the years of his labours, and what this abridged version preserves, is a majestic story of epic proportions of three expeditions to the Pacific Ocean in converted Whitby colliers, ranging from the Antarctic Circle to the Arctic Sea, which negotiated and charted for the first time ever the entire coast of New Zealand and the eastern coast of Australia brought into view innumerable islands not previously known in the west, and provided far and away the fullest and most intimate account of the life of the inhabitants of Tahiti, the Tonga islands, New Zealand and elsewhere, besides bringing back to Europe an unrivalled access of knowledge in natural history - a sphere in which Cook saw himself as no expert.

The story in these pages is Cook’s story, written in his own hand, stamped with the clumsiness of the ‘plain man’ he called himself, but radiating in every line the ambition, determination, control, courage, seamanship, knowledge and skill which enabled him to carry through an unrivalled series of explorations in dangerous waters. It is Cook’s story, the story of these voyages as he wanted them to be known. He recorded what he chose to record, and he recorded it as he saw it. There are very many examples of Cook’s careful revision of his accounts of awkward moments - the best-known being his reworking of the account of the fatal shooting of ‘two or three’ Maoris in Poverty Bay at the time of first contact (9 October 1769). It is important to emphasize this seemingly obvious point in an edition which does not have the space to fill in gaps and provide contrasting viewpoints from other observers. Beaglehole’s full edition provides this corrective view to some extent, though it has to be said that Beaglehole’s loyalty to his hero was so intense that he hardly ever saw Cook as biased or unfair or just wrong. Later generations are less reverential, and it does no harm to Cook’s great qualities and achievements to recognize that he was human enough to be concerned with his image. If he ever doubted the wisdom of his judgements and decisions it does not appear from his journals.’

Finally, here are several extracts from Wharton’s edition of Cook’s journal of the first expedition.

9 November 1769
‘Variable light breezes and Clear weather. As soon as it was daylight the Natives began to bring off Mackrell, and more than we well know what to do with; notwithstanding I order’d all they brought to be purchased in order to encourage them in this kind of Traffick. At 8, Mr. Green and I went on shore with our Instruments to observe the Transit of Mercury, which came on at 7 hours 20 minutes 58 seconds Apparent time, and was observed by Mr. Green only. [Mr. Green satirically remarks in his Log, “Unfortunately for the seamen, their look-out was on the wrong side of the sun.” This probably refers to Mr. Hicks, who was also observing. It rather seems, however, as if Cook, on this occasion, was caught napping by an earlier appearance of the planet than was expected.] I, at this time, was taking the Sun’s Altitude in order to Ascertain the time. The Egress was observed as follows:-
By Mr. Green: Internal Contact at 12 hours 8 minutes 58 seconds Afternoon. External Contact at 12 hours 9 minutes 55 seconds Afternoon.
By myself: Internal Contact at 12 hours 8 minutes 45 seconds Afternoon. External Contact at 12 hours 9 minutes 43 seconds Afternoon.
Latitude observed at noon 36 degrees 48 minutes 28 seconds, the mean of this and Yesterday’s observation gives 36 degrees 48 minutes 5 1/2 seconds South; the Latitude of the Place of Observation, and the Variation of the Compass was at this time found to be 11 degrees 9 minutes East.

While we were making these observations 5 Canoes came alongside the Ship, 2 Large and 3 Small ones, in one were 47 People, but in the other not so many. They were wholy strangers to us, and to all appearance they came with a Hostile intention, being compleatly Arm’d with Pikes, Darts, Stones, etc.; however, they made no attempt, and this was very probable owing to their being inform’d by some other Canoes (who at this time were alongside selling fish) what sort of people they had to Deal with. When they first came alongside they begun to sell our people some of their Arms, and one Man offer’d to Sale a Haahow, that is a Square Piece of Cloth such as they wear. Lieutenant Gore, who at this time was Commanding Officer, sent into the Canoe a piece of Cloth which the Man had agreed to Take in Exchange for his, but as soon as he had got Mr. Gore’s Cloth in his Possession he would not part with his own, but put off the Canoe from alongside, and then shook their Paddles at the People in the Ship. Upon this, Mr. Gore fir’d a Musquet at them, and, from what I can learn, kill’d the Man who took the Cloth; after this they soon went away. I have here inserted the account of this Affair just as I had it from Mr. Gore, but I must own it did not meet with my approbation, because I thought the Punishment a little too severe for the Crime, and we had now been long Enough acquainted with these People to know how to Chastise Trifling faults like this without taking away their Lives.’

13 January 1770
‘Winds Variable. P.M., Cloudy weather. At 7 o’Clock sounded and had 42 fathoms water, being distant from the Shore between 2 and 3 Leagues and the Peaked Mountain as near as I could judge bore East. After it was Dark saw a fire upon the Shore, a sure sign that the Country is inhabited. In the night had some Thunder, Lightning, and Rain; at 5 a.m. saw for a few Minutes the Top of the Peaked Mountain above the Clouds bearing North-East. It is of a prodidgious height and its Top is cover’d with Everlasting Snow; it lies in the Latitude of 39 degrees 16 minutes South, and in the Longitude of 185 degrees 15 minutes West. I have named it Mount Egmont in honour of the Earl of Egmont. [The Earl of Egmont was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1763 to 1766. Mount Egmont is a magnificent conical mountain, surrounded on three sides by the sea, from which it rises to a height of 8300 feet.] This mountain seems to have a pretty large base and to rise with a Gradual Ascent to the Peak, and what makes it more Conspicuous is its being situated near the Sea and in the Midst of a flat Country which afforded a very good Aspect, being Cloathed with Woods and Verdure. The shore under the foot of this Mountain forms a large Cape which I have named Cape Egmont; it lies South-South-West 1/2 West, 27 Leagues from Albetross Point. On the North-East side of the Cape lay 2 Small Islands near to a very remarkable Point of the Main that riseth to a good height in the very form of a Sugar Loaf. To the Southward of the Cape the Land tends away South-East by East and East-South-East, and seems to be every where a bold shore. At Noon had variable light Airs and Clear weather. Latitude observ’d 39 degrees 32 minutes South. Cape Egmont bore about North-East, and we were about 4 Leagues from the Shore in that direction; in this situation had 40 fathoms Water.’

1 June 1770
‘At 1/2 an hour After Noon, upon the Boat we had ahead sounding making the Signal for Shoal Water, we hauld our wind to the North-East, having at that time 7 fathoms; the Next cast 5, and then 3, upon which we let go an Anchor, and brought the Ship up. The North-West point of Thirsty Sound, or Pier Head, bore South-East, distance 6 Leagues, being Midway between the Islands which lies off the East point of the Western inlet and 3 Small Islands directly without them, [the shoal is now known as Lake Shoal - the three Islands are the Bedwell Islands] it being now the first of the flood which we found to set North-West by West 1/2 West. After having sounded about the Shoal, on which we found not quite 3 fathoms, but without it deep water, we got under Sail, and hauld round the 3 Islands just mentioned, and came to an Anchor under the Lee of them in 15 fathoms, having at this time dark, hazey, rainy weather, which continued until 7 o’Clock a.m., at which time we got again under sail, and stood to the North-West with a fresh breeze at South-South-East and fair weather, having the Main land in Sight and a Number of Islands all round us, some of which lay out at Sea as far as we could See. The Western Inlet before mentioned, known in the Chart by the Name of Broad Sound, we had now all open. It is at least 9 or 10 Leagues wide at the Entrance, with several Islands laying in and before, and I believe Shoals also, for we had very irregular Soundings, from 10 to 5 and 4 fathoms. At Noon we were by Observation in the Latitude of 21 degrees 29 minutes South, and Longitude made from Cape Townshend 59 degrees West. A point of Land, which forms the North-West Entrance into Broad Sound, bore from us at this Time West, distance 3 Leagues; this Cape I have named Cape Palmerston [Henry Viscount Palmerston was a Lord of the Admiralty, 1766 to 1778] (Latitude 21 degrees 27 minutes South, Longitude 210 degrees 57 minutes West). Between this Cape and Cape Townshend lies the Bay of Inlets, so named from the Number of Inlets, Creeks, etc., in it. [The name Bay of Inlets has disappeared from the charts. Cook applied it to the whole mass of bays in this locality, covering over 60 miles. A look at a modern chart causes amazement that Cook managed to keep his ship off the ground, as the whole sea in his track is strewed with dangers.]’

The Diary Junction

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Diary briefs

Audrey Hepburn’s secret past - Goodknight Books, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail

Renia Spiegel’s holocaust diary - Smithsonian

Diaries of Boko Haram survivors - Voice of America

Diary of revolutionary hero rediscovered - Time, Associated Press

Alastair Campbell Diaries: Volume 7 - Biteback Publishing

Brett Kavanaugh’s 1982 diary - The Intelligencer

The diary of Lazarus Morgenthau - Leo Baeck Institute, The New York Times

Victorian couple’s epic honeymoon - The Daily Express, The Daily Mail

Revelation of C17th sailor’s diary - National Maritime Museum, The Guardian

Monday, October 29, 2018

In search of El Dorado

Walter Raleigh, one of the most colourful characters in British history and a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, died 400 years ago today - executed, reluctantly, for treason under the orders of King James I. He twice led expeditions to South America in search of the legendary El Dorado. Immediately on returning from the first, he published a book about his adventures; but a diary he kept during the second had to wait more than 250 years to be published.

Raleigh was born around the year 1554, the youngest of five sons, near Budleigh Salterton in Devon, to parents who had both been married previously. The family was strongly Protestant, and was sometimes in trouble during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary. Not much is known about his early life, though he left for France in 1569 to serve with the Huguenots in the so-called French Wars of Religion against the Catholics; and subsequently he studied briefly at Oriel College, Oxford, before finishing his education at the Inns of Court. In 1575, he was registered at the Middle Temple, though he later wrote that he had never studied law. By 1578, Raleigh was sailing to America, later sponsoring two expeditions to set up a colony there, though both failed.

Between 1579 and 1583, Raleigh served with the English army in Ireland fighting against Catholic rebels. His outspoken criticism of the way English policy was being implemented in Ireland brought him to the attention of Queen Elizabeth, and by 1582 he had become one her favourites. She rewarded him with vast lands in the province of Munster, including the coastal walled towns of Youghal and Lismore. Over the next two decades or so, he set up home in the area, managing the estates but with limited success in persuading English tenants to settle. Elizabeth also helped him to a tenancy in London, as well as commercial privileges (ranging from licenses for wine and the export of broadcloth to being warden of Cornish tin mines). He was knighted in 1585; and, in 1587, he was appointed captain of the Queen’s Guard.

In 1592, the queen discovered that Raleigh had secretly married one of her maids-of-honour, Elizabeth Throckmorton. Out of spite, she imprisoned the couple in the Tower of London, though they only spent a few months there. They resided mostly on Raleigh’s estate in Sherborne, and in time had two children (an earlier child had died in infancy). It was not long before Elizabeth consented to Raleigh leading an expedition to South America, beyond the mouth of the Orinoco river in Guiana (now Venezuela), in search of a fabled land rich in gold, El Dorado. Until Elizabeth’s death in 1603, Raleigh continued to serve a key role in her forces, battling the Spanish, and as a member of parliament for Dorset, then Cornwall. He was governor of the Channel Island of Jersey for three years. In 1602, he sold his lands in Ireland to Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork (see also Robert Boyle’s workdiaries).

Within months of the Catholic James I taking the throne, Raleigh was charged with treason and sentenced to death, though James commuted the sentence to imprisonment, again, in the Tower. This time he remained there until 1616, writing many treatises as well as the first volume of his Historie of the World. The following year, James granted him permission for a second expedition to Venezuela in search of El Dorado. However, some of the men under his command violated the terms of a peace treaty with Spain, so that, on his return, King James was left with no option but to reinstate Raleigh’s death sentence. He was beheaded on 29 October 1618. Further biographical information is available at Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica or Spartacus.

On his return from the first voyage in search of El Dorado, Raleigh published The Discoverie of the large, rich and bewtiful Empyre of Guiana (1596), which somewhat embellished the extent of his findings, and thus contributed to the growing El Dorado legend. The work has been much reprinted over the years: for example by the Hakluyt Society in 1848 and by the University of Oklahoma Press in 1996 (an edition transcribed and annoyed by Neil L. Whitehead). Clearly, Raleigh was in no position to author another book after his second voyage to Guiana. However, he did keep a journal during the expedition (possibly with the intention of enlarging it for publication later) - just seven sheets of paper, starting on 19 August 1616 and finishing on 13 February 1617. This was archived, along with other papers, and, for a long time, remained only in manuscript form (today it is archived with the Cotton Manuscripts at the British Library).

The diary manuscript was mentioned in the first volume (of eight) of The Works of Sir Walter Raleigh (1829, Oxford, at the University Press). The volume contains two biographies of Raleigh. One of these is by William Oldys, who, in considering Raleigh’s writings on Guiana, advises that the diary is ‘unfinished and full of chasms, seeming to contain only notes and observations for his own memory’. It was eventually published, along with Raleigh’s account of his first voyage, in 1887 by Cassel & Company, as The Discovery of Guiana and The Journal of the Second Voyage thereto. This can be read freely at Internet Archive (the source of the following extracts).

17-31 December 1616
‘The 17th we came to anchor at Puncto Gallo, where we stayed, taking water, fish, and some Armadillos, refreshing our men with palmetto, Guiavas, piniorellas, and other fruit of the country, till the last of December. In sailing by the south coast of Trinidad I saw in one day, to wit, the 16th of December, 15 rainbows and 2 wind gales, and one of the rainbows brought both ends together at the stern of the ship, making a perfect circle, which I never saw before, nor any man in my ship had seen the like.’

31 December 1616
‘The last of December we weighed anchor and turned up north-east towards Conquerabo, otherwise called the port of Spain, being New Year’s eve, and we came to anchor at Terra de Bri, short of the Spanish port some 10 leagues. This Terra de Bri is a piece of land of some 2 leagues long and a league broad, all of stone pitch or bitumen, which riseth out of the ground in little springs or fountains, and so running a little way, it hardeneth in the air and covereth all the plain; there are also many springs of water, and in and among them fresh-water fish. Here rode at anchor, and trimmed our boats; we had here some fish, and many of the country pheasants somewhat bigger than ours, and many of the hens exceeding fat and delicate meat.’

19 January 1617
‘The 19th of January we sent up Sir J. Feme’s ship to the Spanish port, to try if they would trade for tobacco and other things; but when her boat was near the shore, while they on the land were in parley with Captain Giles, who had charge of the boat, the Spaniards gave them a volley of some 20 muskets at 40 paces distant, and yet hurt never a man. As our boat put off, they called our men thieves and traitors, with all manner of opprobrious speeches.’

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Swedish emigrant

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Andrew Peterson, a Swedish farmer who, as a young man, emigrated to North America, and successfully developed a claim in Minnesota, farming arable and livestock, but especially apple orchards. He is remembered today, among the 15,000 or so Swedes who also emigrated in a first wave to the US, not only because he kept a diary - kept  for 40 years - but because a 20th century Swedish author used the diaries extensively as source material for a series of popular novels, later made into successful films.

Anders Petterson was born in Vastra, southern Sweden, on 20 October 1818, into a family of farmers. He went to work as a farm hand on other farms, but returned to take over the family business when his father died in 1846. However, a few years later, in 1850, he, his sister and others from the locality set off together to emigrate to North America. They embarked from Gothenburg in May, and, after a gruelling voyage, disembarked at Boston in July. Four weeks later, they settled in the Burlington district, Iowa, to where other Swedes had immigrated.

In 1854, Andrew Peterson (as he now called himself) joined a new Baptist congregation, and the following year he moved with a group of the congregation to Carver County, Minnesota - not then part of the United States. He settled on a claim near Clearwater Lake - later known as Lake Waconia. In 1858, Peterson married Elsa Engeman Anderson, and they had nine children. They successfully developed their farm with livestock and crops; over time Peterson became well known for the quality of his apple orchards. He died in 1898. More information is available from the Andrew Peterson website or Mnopedia.

Peterson kept a daily record of his life - barely more than a sentence or two each day - for over 40 years, starting at the time of his journey by sea from Sweden. His children donated the diaries to the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), where they were discovered in the late 1940s by the renowned Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg. He mined the diaries extensively for The Emigrants - a popular series of four novels published 1949-1959 - about a Swedish family moving to Minnesota in the 1800s. Two acclaimed films were also made from the books, starring the actors Max von Sydow and Liv Ullman.

Earlier this year, it was announaced that all the diaries would be translated, digitised and made available online by this autumn - see The Carver Country Historical Society and the local newspaper Star Tribune. At the time of writing this project had not come to fruition, however, here are a few extracts found online: 1856-1858 extracts from an article by Carlton C. Qualey available on the MNHS website; and the rest from a page on the Andrew Peterson website.

21 May 1850
‘Almost calm wind, but the Brigg was roling much off the waves. Less seasickness after passing Skagerack. We saw a little of Far Sund point Norway - that was the last we got to see of our old Scandinavia.’

2 July 1850
‘Early in the morning we saw Bostons lighthouses with fire, but it was far away out from land on islands. These are to show sailships when it is dark. Later came a steamboat and asked our Captain if we needed pulling assistance to the harbour, but we had a good wind, so he did not need help. Shortly after, came the pilot in his fancy boat, and he was as Captain into the harbour. Shortly after the Pilot arrived came the Quarantine - Doctor on board to see if if all were in good health, which we were. In the afternoon we went in to the dock and went upp to see the big city of Boston.’

18 June 1855
‘Bought the claim from Germans for 25 Dollar. Payed Fisser’s son 5 Dollars for his help. Per Daniel went to St Paul.’

19 June 1855
‘Hoed and planted potatoes on my claim. I had Alexander and Jonas - Peter and John to help me.’

20 June 1855
‘I went for the second time to Alexander and John to help them with the logshanty. [. . .] I was cutting gras (for hay) and did a rake. In the afternoon we had a meeting with holy communion, and decided to make a united Parish.’

February 1855
‘13th slaughtered the Swines among other things 14th morning cut up the Swines, afternoon worked in the shop.’

11 March 1856
‘Gut rails all day. Have now 2,000 rails.’

20 May 1856
‘Last night we fished. Got the boat full. Got home at noon. Then I planted potatoes and grubbed the place for my cornfield.’

23 May 1856
‘We church folks planted corn for Nilsson.’

28 November 1856
‘Borrowed Jonas Broberg’s oxen to haul logs for the fence on the other side of the maples. Alfred was here with his oxen and hauled logs. He owed me 2 1/2 days work. One day I counted off for the oxen and the half-day I counted off for the sinkers he made for the seine and the mending of the net. In the evening Nilsson and I made up our account for the last period of boarding and the 6 1/2 days of work I had done and the boards I had given that should count off when I built his cow shed because of the board I had when I built mine.’

1 April 1857
‘In the morning I went over to Johannes and we made up our accounts both old and new. We are now square except that Johannes still owes me $3.00 for corn.”

15 September 1858
‘In the morning I was over at Johannes and chopped corn-stalks. At noon John went with me home and started plowing for the wheat. In the evening at 5 o’clock Elsa and my expectations became a reality, a marriage.’

August 1862
‘20th we were frightened of the Indians so we moved out to the island in klearwater lake, and so we lay there till the 21st at night when we went home.’

March 1898
‘28th in the morning frank went to waconia with a full cart of wheat, at night the boys transported manure. The snow is now good for sleighing I am not well, I am in Bed.’

29 March 1898
‘The boys transported manure - I was in Bed - we had bright weather but not mild weather.’

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The name of Gagarin

‘So ended this anxious, joyful, victorious day. Humankind will never forget the day of April 12, 1961, and the name of Gagarin will forever fit into history and will be one of the most famous.’ This is from the diary of Nikolai Petrovich Kamanin, a Soviet aviator who rose through the country’s ranks eventually to be chosen to run its nascent space programme, which then successfully put the first human being - Yuri Gagarin - into space. Kamanin - born 110 years ago today - kept diaries throughout his service for the Soviet space programme. These were only published for the first time after his death, but they are now freely available online.

Nikolai Petrovich Kamanin was born on 18 October 1908 (though, possibly, 1909 - see Wikipedia) in Melenki, Vladimir Oblast, some 200km east of Moscow. His father, who had joined the Bolsheviks, died when Nikolai was only 11. He joined the Soviet army in 1927 and then transferred to the air force. After training, in 1929, he joined the Lenin Air Regiment. In 1934, using biplanes, he rescued many survivors after a steamship had been crushed by Arctic ice in the Chuckchi Sea. Along with other rescuers, he was made a Hero of the Soviet Union, a newly created honour. During the Second World War, he served in many roles, in Asia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe, and was regularly promoted, finally commanding the 5th Attack Air Corps, and concluding with the rank of lieutenant general.

Kamanin continued to command the air corps until 1947, based first in Tiraspol and then in Arad (Romania). After a short while as deputy chief of the USSR Civil Air Fleet, he served as chairman of the DOSAB Central Committee, and from 1951 to 1955 as deputy chairman of the DOSAAF Central Committee for Aviation. From 1956 to 1958 he was in charge of the 73rd Air Army of the Turkestan Military District. In 1958, he was promoted again to deputy chief of the Air Force General Staff for combat training. In 1960, he was commissioned to organise the selection and training of astronauts for space flights, and was directly involved in planning and organising the first manned space flight by Yuri Gagarin. In 1966 he was appointed Assistant Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force for Space, and the following year he was made colonel general. He was sidelined from 1969, after several disastrous years for the Soviet space programme (including Gagarin’s death during a routine fight), and he was discharged from the armed services in 1971. He died in 1982.

From the start of his appointment to the nascent Soviet programme, in 1960, right through until his retirement, Kamanin kept detailed diaries. Though under lock and key until the break-up of the Soviet Union, they were published in 1995. According to Wikipedia, they explain the development of the Soviet manned programme and related internal politics, and how there were four sides to Kaminin’s work: Coordination of design bureaus developing the life support systems for manned spaceflight; Tracking, search and recovery of landed craft; Management of cosmonaut training squads; and Other space launches. The published book is freely available online, at a Russian website, Militera, and individual pages can be translated into English via Google translate. Many thanks to Mark Wade, who runs the Astronautix website, for this information. Wade’s own article on Kaminin’s diaries includes very useful English summaries (by date) of much of the diary’s contents (although he says he mostly omitted any personal content, or entries about non-space related activities).

Here is Wade’s assessment of the diaries: ‘Despite some failings, Kamanin’s diaries are the only accounts we have for many key events and the only contemporary account of the inside workings of the Soviet space programme. They convey marvelously the human vitality of the space race on the Soviet side. The periods spent out on the steppes in Kazakhstan for launches have all the atmosphere of a male-bonding camping trip. They work hard, all hours, but also party hard and spend Sundays on hunting or fishing expeditions. The stories are reminiscent of American accounts of the hard work and sheer pleasure of pioneering space from similar hardship posts - from the swamps of Cape Canaveral to the deserts of New Mexico.’

The foreword to the diaries (as translated by Google) includes this: ‘ “The Space Diaries of General Kamanin” is a historical document that most reliably reflects the development of the national cosmonautics and the complex interrelation of events in the first decade of manned space flights. But documents of this kind are not only of historical value, they are very important from a practical point of view, because without a clear idea of ​​the past it is impossible to comprehend the present, and without an understanding of the present one cannot make predictions for the future.’ And here is Google Translate’s version of one entry - the day Yuri Gagarin was the first human to travel in space.

12 April 1961
‘At 4:50 local time, I, Karpov and Nikitin, stood up as if on cue. At 5:30 we will raise the Jura and Herman. The night went very well, fell asleep about 22 hours. A little starts to dawn, the traffic increases on the road. We arrived from the tenth site, Karpov went to raise the youth.

At 6:00 a meeting of the commission. It was surprisingly simple and short. All the reports boiled down to one phrase: “There are no comments, everything is ready, no questions, you can start.” After the meeting, I signed a flight mission, went to the MIC and looked at how a medical examination and putting on spacesuits was going. Everything went right on schedule. At 8 o’clock I, together with the lead engineer of the ship, took the elevator to the top of the rocket and checked the cipher (145) of the logical lock. The logical lock worked fine. At 8:20 Marshal Moskalenko arrived at the start. We agreed with him about the procedure for landing Gagarin in the ship. The bus with the astronauts should arrive at the launch site at 8:50. All cosmonauts and [?] remain at the bus, before the Gagarin elevator, Korolyov, Rudnev, I and Moskalenko must see off.

It was possible to keep the planned order with difficulty. Coming out of the bus, Yura and his comrades were a little impatient and started hugging and kissing. Instead of wishing a happy journey, some would say goodbye and even cry - they had to force the cosmonaut out of the embraces of the [?] almost by force. At the elevator, I firmly shook Yury’s hand and said: “See you in the Kuybyshev area in a few hours.”

After 10 minutes the suit and connection were checked. At KP, I, Popovic and Korolev kept in touch with the board. For all the preparation for the start there was only one small hitch when closing the N1 hatch. The hatch was closed, but due to the lack of contact, it had to be re-opened and fixed a minor malfunction. All the radio was recorded on tape. Audibility was excellent, Gagarin’s answers are short, clear and clear. The cosmonaut’s well-being, judging by his reports, by his voice and telemetry, was good. A few seconds before the start on the message of the Queen - “Start”, Yura replied: “Let’s go!”

The start was great. Overloads on the launch site did not have a noticeable effect on the astronaut’s voice. The radio connection was good. The astronaut felt fine. At the 150th second of the flight, after resetting the fairing, Jura reported: “Light, see the Earth, clouds, visibility is excellent.” After a few seconds, he reported on the separation of the first stage of the carrier. In 13 minutes after the launch, we already knew that the world’s first manned flight in near-earth orbit began. At the moment of the transition from the start to Kolpashevo there were several unpleasant seconds: the astronaut did not hear us, and we did not hear him. I do not know how I looked at that moment, but Korolev, who was standing next to me, was very worried: when he took the microphone, his hands trembled, his voice broke, his face was twisted and changed beyond recognition. All breathed a sigh of relief when Kolpashevo and Moscow reported on the restoration of communication with the astronaut and the launch of the spacecraft into orbit.

20 minutes after the start, I went with a group of comrades to the airfield. The An-12 took off and headed for Stalingrad (the estimated landing point for this orbit was 110 kilometers south of Stalingrad). Already in the air, we heard the TASS report about the safe landing of an astronaut in the Saratov region, and a few minutes later we were informed by the Air Force’s command post: “Everything is in order, Major Gagarin flies to Kuibyshev.” After this joyful message, everyone (there were ten of us in the plane) began to kiss, dance, and Vasily Vasilyevich Parin took out the cherished bottle of brandy. I advised to drink it when meeting with Yura ...

At the factory airfield in Kuibyshev, we were met by Colonel Chechiyants from the Air Force General Staff and reported on the situation: “Gagarin landed safely 23 kilometers from Saratov and a few minutes later he called Moscow. Later, already from Engels, together with Agaltsov they spoke on “HF” with Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Vershinin and other leaders. ” By this time, a significant crowd had already gathered at the airfield. We arrived: the secretary of the Kuibyshev Regional Party Committee, the chairman of the regional executive committee, the district air force commander and other leaders. The arrival of the authorities strengthened the influx of workers at the airport from the factory. I had to order the commander of the IL-14, on which Gagarin and Agaltsov flew, to taxi to the farthest station. We did not have time to drive up to the aircraft in cars, as here a large crowd formed. The plane’s door opened, and Yura was the first to descend - he was wearing a winter flight helmet and a blue spacesuit. I was worried and worried about all the nine hours that had passed since it landed in a spacecraft prior to this meeting at the Kuibyshev airfield, as if it were my own son. We hugged and kissed. Cameras clicked from all sides, the crowd of people was growing. There was a danger of a big crush, and Yura, although he was smiling, looked very overworked. It was necessary to stop hugging and kissing. I asked Agaltsov and Yura to get into the car and immediately go to the regional committee dacha. Three hours later, Rudnev, Korolev, Keldysh, and other members of the commission flew in from Tura-Tama.

The cottage of the regional committee was located on the high bank of the Volga, from the balcony of the third floor there was a beautiful view of the river. At ten o’clock in the evening everyone gathered at the table. Present were six cosmonauts, members of the State Commission, and heads of the region. Rudnev, Gagarin, Korolev, Murysev, Mrykin made toasts, but drank very little - it was felt that everyone was very tired. At eleven o’clock we went to the bedrooms. So ended this anxious, joyful, victorious day. Humankind will never forget the day of April 12, 1961, and the name of Gagarin will forever fit into history and will be one of the most famous.’

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A pope's unworldly diaries

Exactly 40 years ago today, the Polish archbishop Karol Józef Wojtyła became Pope John Paul II, the first non Italian pope in more than four centuries. His was a globetrotting papacy - he preached the Catholic religion in many parts of the world never visited by a pope before, often to huge crowds. After his death, two spiritual diaries came to light, and these have recently been published in English. Although they might offer the initiated insight into his inner religious life, there is nothing in them to shed light on his worldly existence.

Karol Józef Wojtyła was born in the Polish town of Wadowice in 1920, the youngest of three children. His mother died when he was eight. He went to a local school in which there was a significant Jewish presence. Aged 18, he moved with his father to Krakow where he enrolled in the university to study languages, for which he had a natural talent. He volunteered as a librarian, and enjoyed sports and the theatre. He served two months military training but, famously, would not hold or fire a weapon. During the war, he worked for a restaurant, a quarry, and a chemical factory, determined not to be sent to Germany. In early 1944, he was in a traffic accident, and spent two weeks in hospital, during which time he decided to become a priest. He hid in the house of an archbishop for the rest of the war. He was ordained as a priest in November 1946, and then moved to Rome for doctoral studies at the Pontifical University.

Wojtyła returned to Poland in 1948, serving in various parishes, teaching at university level, writing for the Catholic press, and even taking students on leisure expeditions (even though priests were not allowed to accompany groups of students during the Stalinist era). In 1958, he was created a bishop, the youngest in Poland. He took part in the Second Vatican Council, making important contributions, and participated in assemblies of Synod of Bishops. In 1964, Pope Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Kraków, and three years later he was further promoted to the Sacred College of Cardinals. When Pope Paul VI died in 1978, the subsequent papal conclave elected Pope John Paul I, however he died a month later; a second conclave met in October. A split vote between two strong candidates led to a compromise in favour of Wojtyła, who won on the eighth ballot on the third day (16 October) - taking the name John Paul II in tribute to his predecessor. Thus he became the first non Italian pope in over 400 years.

John Paul II liked to travel, and to use his many languages. He made over 100 trips to over 100 countries, always attracting large crowds. Early on in his papacy, his visit to Poland, where he  encouraged opposition to Communism - soon after the Solidarity movement was launched. He was the first pope to visit many countries, including the UK and Cuba, and the first to pray in an Islamic mosque. He did much to foster relations with the Jewish world, and he set up the annual World Youth Day
 celebration - during its tenth anniversary he offered mass to a crowd of over four million people in Manila, Philippines. In 1981, he was badly wounded in an assassination attempt. A year later, a second attempt led to him using a bullet-proof trailer known as the ‘popemobile’. He died in April 2005. Subsequently he was made venerable, then beatified and canonised - creating him a saint, with his saint day celebrated on the anniversary of his papal inauguration. Online biographical resources include Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Vatican, the BBC, John Paul II National Shrine,, and Catholic Online.

From his early years as a priest until two years before his death, Wojtyła intermittently kept a spiritual diary. This was first published in Poland in 2014, and was quickly translated into other languages, but only into English in 2017. The English edition - translated by Joanna Rzepa - was published by William Collins as Pope St John Paul II - Karol Wojtyła: In God’s Hands, The spiritual diaries 1962-2003. ‘Not since the publication of Journal of a Soul, the spiritual autobiography of Pope John XXIII, have we had such privileged access into the spirituality of a pope,’ says George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff, in his introduction. (For more on Pope John XXIII’s diaries see A pope’s view of Mussolini.)

In a preface (first published in the Polish edition), the then Archbishop of Krakow, Stanisław Dziwisz, explains that John Paul II left instructions for his two notebooks to be burned. However, Dziwisz adds, he did not ‘dare’ do so: ‘I did not burn John Paul’s notes because they are a key to understanding his spirituality, that is, what is innermost in a person: his relationship to God, to other men and to himself. They reveal, so to speak, another side of the person whom we knew as the Bishop of Kraków and Rome, the Peter of our times, the Shepherd of the universal Church. [. . .] They allow us to get a glimpse of the intimate, personal relationship of faith with God the Creator, the Giver of life, the Master and Teacher. At the same time, they present the sources of his spirituality - his inner strength and his determined will to serve Christ until the last breath of life.’

Almost all the entries in the two notebooks were written 
by Wojtyła during retreats (as listed in the book). Here are several extracts, which, unfortunately, for the non-spiritual among us, give little insight into the man’s worldly thoughts or existence.

8 July 1962
‘The following key inner topics have been put together and discussed with the father:
1. death
2. power
3. creativity
4. people.’

2 September 1962
‘The recollection of these topics and novum [novelty] (as if a common denominator was found for all the experiences and reflections): I am very much in Gods hands - the content of this ‘Totus Tuus’ [‘Entirely Yours’] opened, so to speak, in a new place. When any concern ‘of mine’ becomes in this way Mary’s, it can be undertaken, even if it involves an element of risk (though one must not overdo it: in human terms, i.e. on the human side, the issue needs to be dealt with thoroughly). At a certain point, however, one needs to abandon human calculations and somehow grasp the Godly dimensions of every difficult issue. A peculiar iunctim [junction] of issue 4 with issue 2 begins to emerge here.

I discussed all this with the father too.’

18 August 1965
‘Morning prayers [illegible]; (Rosary); Lauds; Holy Mass; thanksgiving; Matins; Prime; Act of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Meditation: Referring back to the retreat of 1963,1 wish to expand on the topic of ‘justification’. I find this topic academically (theologically) appealing and at the same time internally, personally important. The topic develops into a reflection on theological virtues, i.e. divine virtues.

Faith. The catechisms definition: ‘to accept as true all that God has revealed to us and that holy Church proposes for our belief’ can be interpreted and even experienced in different ways. The intellectualist (ideological) interpretation is different from the personalist (charitological) interpretation. It is not only about the sum of truths (propositions) which the mind accepts through the authority of ‘God who reveals them’ - and more directly: Christ, the Church (cf. motiva credibilitatis [compare motives of credibility]). It is about the specific supernatural relationship of man - a person - with the personal God (Trinitas SS [the Holy Trinity]). The nearer foundation of this relationship is the mind (reason). The proper subject matter of this human faculty is truth. Faith is a readiness, indeed, it is an act of reason which is ready to accept God’s truth as its own truth. Communicatio in veritate cum Deo [Communion with God in truth]. It is probably the highest act - one of the highest acts - in a relationship of a person to a person. This readiness to communicate in truth becomes, in a particular way, renewed through revelation, and in general with its help (in its extension lies theology). Faith consists in the acceptance of revelation, but it is possible thanks to the readiness of the mind mentioned above, which revelation takes for granted and simultaneously makes fully possible.

The Way of the Cross: main theme ‘viator - comprehensor’ (‘wayfarer - comprehensor’]; The Little Hours; Reading the schemas; Vespers for Wednesday

Adoration: it somehow provides me with topics for the afternoon meditation

Meditation on practical issues: dialogue, the Church of dialogue, others separately Matins; Spiritual reading; Compline’

24 February 1985
‘6.00 p.m.: Vespers; Veni Creator [Come, Creator (Spirit)]

Talk. Meditation (1): We form a retreat community. In the centre: Christ. The Holy Spirit, who speaks ‘inside us’.

We are at the core of the Church: in Rome - and in the world. The Church prepares for Passover.

Lent - is a calling!

Topic: The symbol of faith.

In unity with the Mother of the Church from Lourdes: St Bernadette’s words: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a poor sinner.

Eucharistic Adoration; Rosary (III); Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Blessed Virgin Mary, St Joseph; Compline; Reading’

25 February 1985

Meditation: ‘I am in the midst of them’.

Holy Mass; Thanksgiving; Daily prayers; Act of Consecration to Virgin Mary; Prayer to the Holy Spirit; Litany of the Polish Nation; Lauds

Talk. Meditation (2):

(Credo [Creed]) Only God can properly speak of God: many times and in various ways. . . God spoke ..., in the last days He has spoken by a Son.’

Symbolus Apostolorum [The Apostles’ Creed]: the Trinitarian structure - symbolus baptismalis [the baptismal creed].

(The ecumenical meeting near Trent:)’

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Galvanised by debate

The life of the Irish writer and activist Rosamond Jacob, born 130 years ago today, ‘was galvanised at all times by political and feminist debate’, according to her biographer Leeann Lane. However, she was never a lead player, as it were, more of a stage extra. Indeed, she may well have vanished in the historical memory but for the fact that she kept a diary, faithfully, throughout her life, filling over 170 notebooks. She recorded not only her own politically-motivated activities but details of most of the main controversies and movements in Irish politics and culture during the first half of the 20th century. So much so, in fact, that the diaries - which remain unpublished - have been called ‘one of the most valuable and intriguing sources for historians of twentieth-century Ireland’.

Jacob was born on 13 October 1888 in Waterford, Ireland. Her parents had been part of the Quaker community but were more interested in nationalist and humanitarian ideas than religious ones. She had an older brother, Tom, and a first born sister, though she died aged 5. Rosamond attended various schools though, because she was a sickly child, she was also home taught at times. She grew up in a domestic atmosphere of constant social and political discussion and argument, to the point where, Lane says, ‘debate became Jacob’s default means of engaging with her peers, a trait that was to remain with her throughout her life and which was to cause her to be considered awkward and querulous even by many of those who knew her well’. She left school at 16, though continued to educate herself on Irish history and Irish language through membership of the Gaelic league.

Jacob was a follower of many of the key political and cultural campaigns of early twentieth-century Ireland including the turn of the century language revival, Sinn Fein, from 1905 and the organisations of the revolutionary period including Cumann na mBan. There seem to be few details about her life readily available online, though it is known that she re-engaged to some extent with the Quaker community in Waterford, and in 1912 was secretary to the Friends Literary Society Committee. Her and her family’s involvement in the nationalist and suffrage movements meant she was acquainted with many leading figures in both movements. In 1919, she moved to Dublin where she managed to get a first novel published - Callaghan (under a pseudonym); two or three other novels would follow much later in her life. She also embarked on a long-term affair with fellow republican Frank Ryan.

Jacob opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and was especially involved in left-wing and republican organisations in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1931 she travelled to Russia as a delegate of the Irish Friends of Soviet Russia; and she was involved in the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom. In the 1930s, she played a leading role in the political campaign to secure Ryan’s freedom from Nationalist Spain, and subsequently worked to defend his reputation after news of his death in Nazi Germany became known. From 1950, she shared a house with her friend Lucy Kingston. She died in 1960. Some further information can be gleaned from Wikipedia or the Waterford County Museum website. Queen’s University, Belfast, has information on Jacob’s relationship with Ryan.

Jacob was a committed diarist, and kept a diary her whole life long from 1897 to 1960. The Rosamond Jacobs collection at the National Library of Ireland holds 170 of her ordinary notebooks (as well as a few others). The University of Limerick’s Inventing and Reinventing the Irish Woman website has a useful introduction to the diaries, written by Dr Clara Cullen of University College Dublin, as well as a few extracts (indeed, the extracts below are taken from this document).

The diaries also feature heavily in a substantial biography of Jacob - Rosamond Jacob: Third Person Singular 
(University College Dublin Press, 2010) - by Dr Leeann Lane, head of Irish Studies at Dublin City University. Some pages from the introduction can be read freely at Amazon. In the introduction, Lane describes Jacob as always a follower never a leader, and goes along with the idea that her diaries are important enough to be preserved but not important enough to be duplicated and publicly disseminated (i. e. published). Nevertheless, Lane explains there is great merit in studying her life, and thus in re-exploring the diaries. She says: 

‘The ease with which the diary has been divorced from its writer and allowed to stand apart as a text providing colour and context for work on the revolutionary period and the years of internecine strife and bitterness after 1922 has much to do with Jacob’s lack of the apparent exceptionality which merits biographical or critical study. Unlike most subjects of Irish biography Jacob was not a prominent figure in Irish history, rather she was a fringe activist. Her fictional writings, although interesting to an historian, have limited aesthetic value. Jacob was in many cases a crowd member rather than a leader in the campaigns in which she participated - the turn of the century language revival, the suffrage campaign, the campaigns of the revolutionary period. She adopted an anti-Treaty stance in the 1920s moving towards a fringe involvement in the activities of socialist republicanism in the early 1930s while continuing to vote Fianna Fail. Her commitment to feminist concerns was life long but at no point did she take or was capable of a leadership role. However, it was Jacob’s failure to carve out a strong place in history as an activist which makes her interesting as a subject for biography. Her ‘ordinariness’ offers an alternative lens on the biographical project. By failing to marry, by her inability to find meaningful paid work, by her countless refusals from publishers, by the limited sales of what work was published, Jacob offers a key into lives more ordinary within the urban middle classes of her time, and suggests a new perspective on female lives. Jacob’s life, galvanised at all times by political and feminist debate, offers a means of exploring how the central issues which shaped Irish politics and society in the first half of the twentieth century were experienced and digested by those outside the leadership cadre. The history of the independence struggle and its aftermath is as much the history of men and women such as Jacob as it is of de Valera and Frank Ryan.’

In a review of Lane’s book, The English Historical Review (Issue 525, 1 April 2012) says Jacob’s diaries ‘constitute one of the most valuable and intriguing sources for historians of twentieth-century Ireland as they offer insights into key political and cultural shifts and movements. They are also a wonderful read.’ In another review, however, The Irish Times, finds the diaries too full of self pity: ‘The woman in the book can seem tiresome, whereas she is fondly remembered by her many friends.’

29 June 1922
‘Plenty of firing, big guns and all. The republicans had the pub at the corner of Aungier St, and there was firing there on and off for the next two days. They used to fire at lorries, and the FS troops took Jacobs. And some other place near, and fired at them until they finally left the place on Sunday evening.

I was busy at the At Home at Mrs Despards.’

30 June 1922
‘I went to Suffolk St to ask if there was anything I could do. D. Macardle was there. She told me there was a Red Cross place over in Gloucester St, so I went there, where the republicans were in the hotels with the windows full of sandbags, and found a Trade Union place called Tara hall, full of girls making bandages. They showed me how, and I worked there till dinner time. Two wounded civilians were brought in to be attended to in the next room; one was a man who seemed to think he was pretty bad and required a lot of shirts. There was a lot of firing in the streets and a tremendous explosion once that broke the glass in one window. Some of the girls were the C. Na mB. type that loved the whole thing in a horrible way.

After dinner I knocked against Mme. McB. [Maud Gonne McBride] in the street and found she was trying to get some women together to go to both sides’ leaders and talk sense to them - so I brought her to the IIL committee at 122A and she raked us all (except Mrs Richardson) over to the Mansion House to see what the Lord Mayor was doing. He said the Four Courts surrender had altered things and there was no knowing more till the next day nor wouldn’t be much fighting till the next day, and we had better come back in the morning. So we went home and Madame started to search the hospitals for Sean. She was only just home from Paris (where she had gone on a mission for the provisional government) that morning.’

1 July 1922
‘We met at the Mansion Hs. in the morning [. . .]. The mayor and the archbishop were going to the republican leaders then, to represent their share in the general damage and cruelty and see what conditions they wd agree to a truce.

Then, the more or less F.S. women, [. . .] went to interview the government, and came back reporting as follows - They spoke of the sufferings of the people and need for peace and got the usual sort of answers from Griffith, Collins and Cosgrave. Cosgrave seemed anxious for the Dail to meet and said it cd be summoned for Tuesday but Griffith nudged him to make him shut up. Miss B. and Mme. McB. asked wd they let the R.s evacuate without giving up arms - Griffith said no, they must give up their arms. Mme McBride said that they certainly would not do, and that it wd be better to let them go with their arms than to shell the city. They were firm on this (tho Collins said he didn’t know why the R.s didn’t go home with their arms now, as there seemed nothing to stop them) and Griffith said the lives of all the ministers were in the greatest danger.
The deputation (W.W. and A.F. anyhow) seemed rather favourably impressed by the 3. The mayor and the archbishop went to the government later, and were told much the same, only they seemed more resolute against calling the Dail then. It didn’t seem much use sending a deputation to the R.s, but Miss Bennett said it wd be very unfair not to - shd at least show them there were some R. women who wanted peace, and not put all the burden of guilt on the government [. . .]. We were taken in a motor ambulance to the back of the Hammam hotel, and let into a kind of back, outhouse place full of men and petrol tins and bicycles and step ladders and boxes and general impedimenta. Doctors and nurses and soldier and messengers went in and out all the time. The men were mostly not in uniform, they all had big revolvers in leather cases and military belts. Some looked dead tired, and all of course were untidy and unshaved, but all seemed in good humour. Most were young, but not all. After waiting a while, Oscar Traynor, then commanding in Dublin, was fetched to us, and Hanna and Miss B. tackled him. He was in a sort of semi-military dark suit, with a revolver in a belt, and the Sacred Heart badge in his button-hole. He is quite young, tall and slim, with the same type of long refined thoughtful refined face as De Valera, though much better looking.

He represented their position as purely defensive, said they were not the aggressors. “we’re digging ourselves in here, and if they attack us we’ll defend ourselves”. He said they wd be willing to evacuate but not to surrender arms of course, and I think he said they had made the offer to the other side (whom he spoke of as “these people”). Asked wd they suspend hostilities if the Dail met early this week, he said that was for O’Connor and Mellowes to say, but probably they wd if the other side wd observe the truce. Informed of what Collins had said (that they were fools not to melt away with their arms now) he said they could put no faith in what anything Collins said. His attitude of utter disbelief in the faith of “these people” was depressing, being so exactly what the other side would say about them. Mrs J. and I took no share in the talk. I went for the interest of the thing and had nothing to say of my own; and he looked so tired and worn that I didn’t want to lengthen the conversation anyhow. His eyes looked dead sleepy, he could hardly keep them open. He was very nice in his manner - quiet and civil and friendly. He spoke as if they meant to do nothing aggressive, and not as if the affair was any sort of fun to him. We were all favourably struck with him, and impressed with his talk just as the other deputation were with Collins, Griffith and Cosgrave.’

12 July 1922
‘Went to peace meeting at the Round Room - great crowds of women, but none of them apparently keen on peace. [. . .] Miss O’Connor and I went out to try and quieten a couple of shouting F.S. women in the hall, who had, God knows how, got the idea that all the platform were republican. Mrs D. was very good, about the folly and uselessness of war . . . Some fool in the hall wanted to put the cause of peace under the protection of the queen of heaven, and made them all start singing a hymn to her, which Miss Bennett received awfully well, but the end was a confused scene of uproar all the same.’