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