Showing posts sorted by relevance for query emerson. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query emerson. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, April 27, 2012

The drollest mushroom

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American philosopher, speaker and essayist, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century, died 130 years ago today. Despite his many published collections of essays, and some of poetry, it is his voluminous diaries - full of philosophical musings and thoughts about communing with nature - that are now considered by some to be his most remarkable literary creation.

Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1803, but his father, a Unitarian minister, died when he was only 8. Aged but 14, Emerson entered Harvard University, paying his way partly through a scholarship and partly by tutoring. He went on to study at Harvard Divinity School. In 1829, he married Ellen Tucker, but she died less than two years later. His grief led him to reconsider his religious beliefs.

Thereafter, Emerson moved to Concord, and spent the next few years studying and traveling in Europe. He married Lydia Jackson in 1835, and they would have four children, though the oldest, Waldo, died young. The following year, Emerson published his first book, Nature, which laid out his belief in transcendentalism, whereby individuals have knowledge of themselves, through intuition and imagination, that transcends, or goes beyond, what they can see, taste, touch or feel. The publication of Nature is generally considered to be a key moment in the emergence of transcendentalism which then went on to become a major cultural and philosophical movement.

Emerson became a well-known lecturer not only in the US, but also in Europe (he is said to have given more than 1,500 public lectures); and many of his speeches were published. In 1840 Emerson joined with others in launching The Dial, which, for a few years, was the chief publication of the transcendentalists (and then continued to be published intermittently until the late 1920s). One of the younger early contributors was Henry David Thoreau, another diarist, who lived with Emerson in the early 1840s, and was his most well-known disciple, though he died aged only 44. During the 1850s, Emerson became strongly interested in the anti-slavery movement, and he actively supported war against the South.

By 1867, Emerson’s health was starting to decline, and, in 1872, a fire partly destroyed his Concord house, and signalled the end of his busy lecturing schedule. While the house was being rebuilt, he visited Continental Europe and Egypt with his wife and daughter Ellen. By the end of the 1870s, Emerson’s health, and particularly problems with his memory, led him to stop all public appearances. He died on 27 April 1882. Further information is available from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of PhilosophyEncyclopaedia BritannicaThe Poetry Foundation, or Wikipedia.

Emerson was a very committed diary writer. However, most of what he jotted down in his journals was intellectual and had a philosophical tone; there is little about his daily practical life. Though a collected edition of his works came out earlier, the diaries had to wait until 1909-1914 when they were published in ten volumes by Houghton Mifflin as Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson. They were edited by Emerson’s son, Dr Edward Waldo Emerson, and grandson, Waldo Emerson Forbes, and are freely available at Internet Archive. Between 1960 and 1982, Harvard University Press brought out a definitive edition - The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson - in 16 volumes.

Much more recently Library of America has abridged Emerson’s diaries into two volumes: Selected Journals 1820–1842 and Selected Journals 1841–1877. This, the publisher says, is the most ample and comprehensive nonspecialist edition of Emerson’s great work ever published - ‘one that retains the original order in which he composed his thoughts and preserves the dramatic range of his unique style in long, uninterrupted passages, but without the daunting critical apparatus of the 16-volume scholarly edition.’ It also calls Emerson’s journals, his ‘most remarkable literary creation.’

Quotations from Emerson’s diaries are widely available on the internet, whether at Wikiquote, the Wisdom Portal (‘where every link leads to learning’), or the the Wisdom Portal website. Here, though, are a few extracts from the out-of-copyright 1909-1914 Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

17 February 1838
‘My good Henry Thoreau made this else solitary afternoon sunny with his simplicity and clear perception. How comic is simplicity in this double-dealing, quacking world. Everything that boy says makes merry with society, though nothing can be graver than his meaning. I told him he should write out the history of his college life, as Carlyle has his tutoring. We agreed that the seeing the stars through a telescope would be worth all the astronomical lectures. Then he described Mr Quimby’s electrical lecture here, and the experiment of the shock, and added that “college corporations are very blind to the fact that that twinge in the elbow is worth all the lecturing.”

To-night, I walked under the stars through the snow, and stopped and looked at my far sparklers and heard the voice of the wind, so slight and pure and deep, as if it were the sound of the stars themselves revolving.

How much self-reliance it implies to write a true description of any thing, for example, Wordsworth’s picture of skating; that leaning back on your heels and stopping in mid-career. So simple a fact no common man would have trusted himself to detach as a thought.’

19 September 1838
‘I found in the wood this afternoon the drollest mushroom, tall, stately, pretending, uprearing its vast dome as if to say, “Well I am some thing! Burst, ye beholders! thou luck-beholder! with wonder.” Its dome was a deep yellow ground with fantastic, starlike ornaments richly overwrought; so shabby genteel, so negrofine, the St Peter’s of the beetles and pismires. Such ostentation in petto I never did see. I touched the white column with my stick, it nodded like old Troy, and so eagerly recovered the perpendicular as seemed to plead piteously with me not to burst the fabric of its pride. Shall I confess it? I could almost hear my little Waldo at home begging me, as when I have menaced his little block-house, and the little puff-ball seemed to say, “Don’t, Papa, pull it down!” So, after due admiration of this blister, this cupola of midges, I left the little scaramouch alone in its glory. Good-bye, Vanity, good bye, Nothing! Certainly there is comedy in the Divine Mind when these little vegetable self-conceits front the day as well as Newton or Goethe, with such impressive emptiness.

The greater is the man, the less are books to him. Day by day he lessens the distance between him and his authors, and soon finds very few to whom he can pay so high a compliment as to read them.’

1 January 1839
‘Adjourned the promised lecture on Genius until Wednesday week, on account of my unaccountable vigils now for four or five nights, which destroy all power of concentration by day for me.’

17 October 1840
‘A newspaper in a grave and candid tone censures the Dial as having disappointed the good expectation of our lovers of literature. I read the paragraph with much pleasure; for the moment we come to sense and candor I know the success of the Dial is sure. The Dial is poor and low and all unequal to its promise: but that is not for you to say, O Daily Advertiser! but for me. It is now better after your manner than anything else you have; and you do not yet see that it is, and will soon see and extol it. I see with regret that it is still after your manner, and not after mine, and that it is something which you can praise.’

1 January 1841
‘I begin the year by sending my little book of Essays to the press. What remains to be done to its imperfect chapters I will seek to do justly. I see no reason why we may not write with as much grandeur of spirit as we can serve or suffer. Let the page be filled with the character, not with the skill of the writer.’

18 July 1852
‘Henry Thoreau makes himself characteristically the admirer of the common weeds which have been hoed at by a million farmers all spring and summer and yet have prevailed, and just now come out triumphant over all lands, lanes, pastures, fields, and gardens, such is their pluck and vigor. We have insulted them with low names, too, pig-weed, smart-weed, red-root, lousewort, chickweed. He says that they have fine names, amaranth, ambrosia.’

July 1862
‘I suppose the war does not recommend Slavery to anybody. If it cost ten years of war, and ten to recover the general prosperity, the destruction of Slavery is worth so much. But it does not cost so much time to get well again. How many times France has been a warfield! Every one of her towns has been sacked; the harvest has been a hundred times trampled down by armies. And yet, when you suppose, as after the first Napoleon’s time, that the country must be desolate, a year’s labour, a new harvest, almost the hours of one perfect summer day create prodigious wealth, and repair the damage of ten years of war.

I read with entire complacency that part of the history of art when the new spiritualism set the painters on painting the saints as ugly and inferior men, to hint the indifferency of all circumstance to the divine exuberance, and I remember this with great satisfaction at the photographist s shop.’

24 June 1863
‘In reading Henry Thoreau’s Journal, I am very sensible of the vigor of his constitution. That oaken strength which I noted whenever he walked or worked or surveyed wood lots, the same unhesitating hand with which a field-laborer accosts a piece of work which I should shun as a waste of strength. Henry shows in his literary task. He has muscle, and ventures on and performs feats which I am forced to decline. In reading him, I find the same thought, the same spirit that is in me, but he takes a step beyond, and illustrates by excellent images that which I should have conveyed in a sleepy generality. ‘Tis as if I went into a gymnasium, and saw youths leap, climb, & swing with a force unapproachable, though their feats are only continuations of my initial grapplings and jumps.’

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cows in the river

‘I find many strawberries deep in the grass of the meadow near this Hosmer Spring; then proceed on my way with reddened and fragrant fingers, till it gets washed off at new springs. It is always pleasant to go over the bare brow of Lupine Hill and see the river and meadows thence. It is exceedingly sultry this afternoon, and few men are abroad. The cow’s stand up to their bellies in the river, lashing their sides with their tails from time to time.’ This is the great American philosopher naturalist, Henry D. Thoreau, born two centuries ago today, waxing lyrical in his daily journal. Much of the material in all 47 diaries he left behind were published in 1906 in 14 volumes (freely available online). However, a new and fully annotated edition of all the diary material is being published by Princeton University Press, albeit rather slowly. In the interim, however, images of many of the journal manuscripts have been made available online, along with transcripts.

Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on 12 July 1817. He studied at Harvard but left with an undistinguished record. On returning to Concord, he and his brother John set up a progressive school. It operated for several years until John, having contracted tetanus from a cut, died in 1842. Some years earlier, in 1837, Thoreau had been introduced to the distinguished poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson who had moved to Concord, and he had allowed Thoreau to use his library. It was Emerson who encouraged young Thoreau in his writing, and who introduced him to other local writers and thinkers, many of whom followed Transcendentalism, a philosophy of finding insight through personal intuition rather than religious doctrine. Some of Thoreau’s first writings appeared in the Transcendentalist magazine, The Dial. In 1841, Thoreau moved into the Emerson house, acting as a caretaker and children’s tutor.

In 1845, with permission from Emerson, Thoreau cut down some trees on Emerson’s land, Walden Pond, and built a timber hut. There he lived for more than two years in a simple manner, occasionally working at his family’s pencil factory or as a land surveyor, but generally devoting his time to philosophical and literary interests, in particular a a memoir about a canoe trip he had taken with his brother John (published in 1849 as A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers). Thoreau returned to Emerson’s house for a couple of years, and then lived in his parent’s house, but the period at Walden Pond was to prove a formative experience for him. In 1854, he published Walden; or, Life in the Woods, in which he recommended simple living in natural surroundings, closely in touch with nature. Though a modest success at the time, the book has since become an American classic.

In his later years, Thoreau became far more focused on botany than on Transcendentalism. He also was outspoken against slavery, and helped with a clandestine network that helped escaped slaves make their way to Canada. He died relatively young, in 1862, of tuberculosis. Further biographical information is readily available online at The Thoreau Society, The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (the library of University of California, Santa Barbara), The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Poetry Foundation, or Wikipedia.

It was on Emerson’s advice that Thoreau, soon after meeting the older man, began keeping a journal. (Indeed, Emerson was also a diarist - see The drollest mushroom with diary extracts by Ralph Waldo Emerson on Thoreau). Thereafter, Thoreau’s journal became something of a life’s work. He left behind 47 volumes. According to the Thoreau Edition website: his ‘Journal that began as a conventional record of ideas, grew into a writer’s notebook, and eventually became the principal imaginative work of his career. The source of much of his published writing, the Journal is also a record of both his interior life and his monumental studies of the natural history of his native Concord.’

Substantial parts of Thoreau’s diary were published by Houghton Mifflin in 1906 as part of the 20 volume edition of The Writings of Henry David Thoreau. The journals - which took up volumes 7-20 - were edited by Bradford Torrey. All volumes are freely available online, at Internet Archive: Volume 7 - 1837-1846Volume 8 - 1850-1851Volume 9 - 1851-1852Volume 10 - 1852-1853Volume 11 - 1853Volume 12 - 1853-1854Volume 13 - 1854-1855Volume 14 - 1955-1956Volume 15 - 1956-1957;  Volume 16 - 1857-1858Volume 17 - 1858-1859Volume 18 - 1859Volume 19 - 1859-1860Volume 20 - 1860-1861). They can also be found online at the Thoreau Institute’s Walden Woods Project (which claims to maintain ‘the preeminent collection of works by and about Henry David Thoreau’).

Meanwhile, The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (also known as the Princeton Edition or the Thoreau Edition) is slowly compiling a complete annotated edition of all of Thoreau’s writings including 16 printed volumes of the journals. To date, eight volumes have appeared (covering the manuscripts dated from 1837 to 1854), the first in 1981 and the most recent (volume 8) in 2002. Both the manuscripts themselves and their transcripts for all the remaining years, i.e. 1854 to 1861, have been digitised and put online by the Thoreau Edition in advance of the printed volumes. Further information about the process, and links to the manuscripts and transcripts can be found on the website. Here, though, are several extracts from Thoreau’s diary taken from the original Houghton Mifflin edition (plus a screenshot from the Thoreau Edition of the actual manuscript page for the last diary entry below).

11 January 1852
‘What need to travel? There are no sierras equal to the clouds in the sunset sky. And are not these substantial enough? In a low or level country, perchance, the forms of the clouds supply the place of mountains and precipices to the eye, the grosser atmosphere makes a mountainous country in the sky.

The glory of these afternoons, though the sky may be mostly overcast, is in the ineffably clear blue, or else pale greenish-yellow, patches of sky in the west just before sunset. The whole cope of heaven seen at once is never so elysian. Windows to heaven, the heavenward windows of the earth. The end of the day is truly Hesperian.

R. W. E. showed me yesterday a letter from H. Greenough, the sculptor, on architecture, which he liked very much. Greenough’s idea was to make architectural ornaments have a core of truth, a necessity and hence a beauty. All very well, as I told R. W. E., from Greenough’s point of view, but only a little better than the common dilettantism. I was afraid I should say hard things if I said more.

We sometimes find ourselves living fast, - unprofitably and coarsely even, - as we catch ourselves eating our meals in unaccountable haste. But in one sense we cannot five too leisurely. Let me not live as if time was short. Catch the pace of the seasons; have leisure to attend to every phenomenon of nature, and to entertain every thought that comes to you. Let your life be a leisurely progress through the realms of nature, even in guest-quarters.

This reminds me that the old Northman kings did in fact board round a good part of the time, as schoolmasters sometimes with us.

But as for Greenough, I felt as if it was dilettantism, and he was such a reformer in architecture as Channing in social matters. He began at the cornice. It was only how to put a core of truth within the ornaments, that every sugar-plum might in fact have an almond or carroway seed in it, and not how the inhabitant, the in-dweller, might be true and let the ornaments take care of themselves. He seemed to me to lean over the cornice and timidly whisper this half truth to the rude indwellers, who really knew it more interiorly than he. What of architectural beauty I now see, I know has gradually grown from within outward, out of the character and necessities of the indweller and builder, without even a thought for mere ornament, but an unconscious nobleness and truthfulness of character and life; and whatever additional beauty of this kind is destined to be produced will be preceded and accompanied, aye, created, by a like unconscious beauty of life. One of the most beautiful buildings in this country is a logger’s hut in the woods, and equally beautiful will be the citizen’s suburban box, when the life of the indweller shall be as simple and as agreeable to the imagination, and there is as little straining after effect in the style of his dwelling. Much it concerns a man, forsooth, how a few sticks are slanted under him or over him, what colors are daubed upon his box! One man says, in his despair, “Take up a handful of the earth at your feet, and paint your house that color!” What an abundance of leisure he must have on his hands! An enterprise to improve the style of cottage architecture! Grow your own house, I say. Build it after an Orphean fashion. When R. W. E. and Greenough have got a few blocks finished and advertised, I will look at them. When they have got my ornaments ready I will wear them. What do you take up a handful of dirt for? Why don’t you paint your house with your blood? with your sweat? Thin not the paint with spirits of turpentine. There’s a deal of nonsense abroad.

The question is not where did the traveller go? what places did he see? - it would be difficult to choose between places - but who was the traveller? how did he travel? how genuine an experience did he get? For travelling is, in the main, like as if you stayed at home, and then the question is how do you live and conduct yourself at home? What I mean is that it might be hard to decide whether I would travel to Lake Superior, or Labrador, or Florida. Perhaps none would be worth the while, if I went by the usual mode. But if I travel in a simple, primitive, original manner, standing in a truer relation to men and nature, travel away from the old and commonplace, get some honest experience of life, if only out of my feet and homesickness, then it becomes less important whither I go or how far. I so see the world from a new and more commanding point of view. Perhaps it is easier to live a true and natural life while travelling,  as one can move about less awkwardly than he can stand still.’

11 June 1852
‘I hear the bobolink, though he does not sing so much as he did, and the lark and my seringo, as I go down the railroad causeway. The cricket sings. The red clover does not yet cover the fields. The whiteweed is more obvious. It commonly happens that a flower is considered more beautiful that is not followed by fruit. It must culminate in the flower. The cistus is a delicate flower in sandy woods now, with a slight, innocent spring fragrance, - one of those, like the pink, which you cannot bring home in good condition. June-grass is ripe. The red-eye sings now in the woods, perhaps more than any other bird. (In the shanty field.) The mountains are misty and blue. It has been quite windy for ten days, and cold a part of the time. The maple-leaved viburnum at Laurel Glen; the round-leaved cornel, and the mountain laurel, all budded. The yellow diervilla (D. trifida) ready to blossom there. The low blueberry leaves and flowers (Vaccinium vacillans of Gray) have a sweet scent. Froth on the pigeon-plain pines. A robin sings (3.30 P. M.) and wood thrush amid the pines; flies hum, and mosquitoes; and the earth feels under the feet as if it were going to be dry. The air in this pitch pine wood is filled with the hum of gnats, flies, and mosquitoes. High blackberries a day or two since. The bullfrogs in Walden (some of them at least) are a light-colored greenish brown. The huckleberry-bird is heard. I perceived that untraceable odor by the shore of Walden near railroad, where there are grape-vines, and yet the vines do not smell, and I have perceived it for two or three weeks. The vines appear but just in flower. Bittersweet, woody nightshade (Solarium Dulcamara). It has a singular strong odor. Everywhere the leaves of goldenrods from the old roots; also, in some places, epilobium. The veery reminds me of the wood thrush in its note, as well as form and color. You must attend to the birds in the spring. 

As I climbed the Cliffs, when I jarred the foliage, I perceived an exquisite perfume which I could not trace to its source. Ah, those fugacious universal fragrances of the meadows and woods! Odors rightly mingled! 

The snapdragon, a slight blue flower, in dry places. Interesting. The oak balls lie about under the black oaks. The shrub oaks on the plain are so covered with foliage that, when I looked down on it from the Cliff, I am impressed as if I looked down on a forest of oaks. The oven-bird and the thrasher sing. The last has a sort of chuckle. The crickets began to sing in warm dry places. 

Another little veronica (?) on the Cliffs, just going out of bloom, V. arvensis (?), with crenately cut leaves and hairy. The first was the smooth. The pines are budded. I do not see the female flower yet. There is froth at the base of the new shoots even at the top of the highest pines. Yarrow, with a strong tansy scent. Lupines, their pods and seeds. First the profusion of color, spikes of flowers rising above and prevailing over the leaves; then the variety in different clumps, rose (?)-purple, blue, and white; then the handsome palmate leaf, made to hold dew. Gray says from lupus (wolf) because they “were thought to devour the fertility of the soil.” This is scurrilous. Under Fair Haven. First grew the Viola pedata here, then lupines, mixed with the delicate snapdragon. This soil must abound with the blue principle. Is that the tephrosia, so forward? The fruit of the Cerasus pumila is puffed up like How’s plums. The Aralia nudicaulis already shows small green berries. The lupine has no pleasant fragrance. The cistus a slight enlargement of the cinquefoil, the June (?) cinquefoil, what the summer can do. 

It was probably the Thalictrum Cornuti, meadow-rue, which I saw at the Corner Spring, though it has no white stamens. The red (Indian (?) red) huckleberry and the white and red blueberry blossoms (the Gaylussacia resinosa, black huckleberry, and Vaecinium vacillans) are very handsome and interesting now and would attract more attention if the prospect of their fruit did not make us overlook them. Moon-seed is a good name for a plant. I should know it. 

The Jones elm is fifteen and three twelfths feet circumference at five or six feet from ground, or at the smallest place; much more at twelve or fourteen feet from ground, - larger, then, than C. Davis’s elm at the smallest place. 

The pyrolas now ready to blossom. Shin-leaf is a good name for one. Scleranthus annuus, common knawel, in the paths; inconspicuous and moss-like. Utricularia vulgaris, common bladderwort, a dirty-conditioned flower, like a sluttish woman with a gaudy yellow bonnet. Is the grape out ? Solomon’s-seal, two-leaved, with a third. Sanicula Marylandica, black snake-root, without color at first, glows [?] like a buttercup, leaf and stem. Those spotted maple leaves, - what mean their bright colors? Yellow with a greenish centre and a crimson border on the green leaves, as if the Great Chemist had dropped some strong acid by chance from a phial designed for autumnal use! Very handsome. Decay and disease are often beautiful, like the pearly tear of the shellfish and the hectic glow of consumption. 

The ivy or Rhus Toxicodendron (radicans when climbing trees), budded to blossom, looks like an aralia.’

24 February 1857
‘A fine spring morning. The ground is almost completely bare again. There has been a frost in the night. Now, at 8.30, it is melted and wets my feet like a dew. The water on the meadow this still, bright morning is smooth as in April. I am surprised to hear the strain of a song sparrow from the riverside, and as I cross from the causeway to the hill, thinking of the bluebird, I that instant hear one’s note from deep in the softened air. It is already 40°, and by noon is between 50° and 60°. As the day advances I hear more bluebirds and see their azure flakes settling on the fence-posts. Their short, rich, crispy warble curls through the air. Its grain now lies parallel to the curve of the bluebird’s warble, like boards of the same lot. It seems to be one of those early springs of which we have heard but have never experienced. Perhaps they are fabulous. I have seen the probings of skunks for a week or more. I now see where one has pawed out the worm-dust or other chankings from a hole in base of a walnut and torn open the fungi, etc., there, exploring for grubs or insects. They are very busy these nights.

If I should make the least concession, my friend would spurn me. I am obeying his law as well as my own.

Where is the actual friend you love ? Ask from what hill the rainbow’s arch springs! It adorns and crowns the earth.

Our friends are our kindred, of our species. There are very few of our species on the globe.

Between me and my friend what unfathomable distance! All mankind, like motes and insects, are between us.

If mv friend says in his mind, I will never see you again, I translate it of necessity into ever. That is its definition in Love’s lexicon.

Those whom we can love, we can hate; to others we are indifferent.

P. M. - To Walden. The railroad in the Deep Cut is dry as in spring, almost dusty. The best of the sand foliage is already gone. I walk without a greatcoat. A chickadee with its winter lisp flits over, and I think it is time to hear its phebe note, and that instant it pipes it forth. Walden is still covered with thick ice, though melted a foot from the shore.

The French (in the Jesuit Relations) say fil de l’eau for that part of the current of a river in which any floating thing would be carried, generally about equidistant from the two banks. It is a convenient expression, for which I think we have no equivalent.’

Get my boat out the cellar.’

12 July 1857
‘To Equisetum hyemale.

Those little minnows, a third or half inch long or more, which I catch when bathing, hovering over open sandy spaces, as here at Clamshell, appear to be little shiners. When left dry on my hand, they can toss themselves three or four inches with a spring of their tails, and so often get into the water again. Small as they are, it is rather difficult to catch them, they dodge your hands so fast.

I drink at every cooler spring in my walk these afternoons and love to eye the bottom there, with its pebbly caddis-cases, or its white worms, or perchance a luxurious frog cooling himself next my nose. Sometimes the farmer, foreseeing haying, has been prudent enough to sink a tub in one, which secures a clear deep space. It would be worth the while, methinks, to make a map of the town with all the good springs on it, indicating whether they were cool, perennial, copious, pleasantly located, etc. The farmer is wont to celebrate the virtues of some one on his own farm above all others. Some cool rills in the meadows should be remembered also, for some such in deep, cold, grassy meadows are as cold as springs. I have sometimes drank warm or foul water, not knowing such cold streams were at hand. By many a spring I know where to look for the dipper or glass which some mower has left. When a spring has been allowed to fill up, to be muddied by cattle, or, being exposed to the sun by cutting down the trees and bushes, to dry up, it affects me sadly, like an institution going to decay. Sometimes I see, on one side the tub, - the tub overhung with various wild plants and flowers, its edge almost completely concealed even from the searching eye, - the white sand freshly cast up where the spring is bubbling in. Often I sit patiently by the spring I have cleaned out and deepened with my hands, and see the foul water rapidly dissipated like a curling vapor and giving place to the cool and clear. Sometimes I can look a yard or more into a crevice under a rock, toward the sources of a spring in a hillside, and see it come cool and copious with incessant murmuring down to the light. There are few more refreshing sights in hot weather.

I find many strawberries deep in the grass of the meadow near this Hosmer Spring; then proceed on my way with reddened and fragrant fingers, till it gets washed off at new springs. It is always pleasant to go over the bare brow of Lupine Hill and see the river and meadows thence. It is exceedingly sultry this afternoon, and few men are abroad. The cow’s stand up to their bellies in the river, lashing their sides with their tails from time to time.

A strong and wholesome fragrance now from the vegetation as I go by overgrown paths through the swamp west of Nut Meadow. Equisetum hyemale has been out a good while; is mostly effete, but some open yet. Some have several flower-spikes on the sides near the top, but most one at top, of the last year’s plant. This year’s shoots a foot high, more or less. All the Pyrola secunda I can find is out of bloom. The Chimaphila umbellata flower-buds make a very pretty umbel, of half a dozen small purple balls surmounted by a green calyx. They contrast prettily with the glossy green leaves.
A song sparrow’s nest in a small clump of alder, two feet from ground! Three or four eggs.

I hear the occasional link note from the earliest bobolinks of the season, - a day or two.’

19 August 1860
‘Examine now more at length that smooth, turnip-scented brassica which is a pest in some grain-fields. Formerly in Stow’s land; this year in Warren’s, on the Walden road. To-day I see it in Minot Pratt’s, with the wild radish, which is a paler yellow and a rougher plant. I thought it before the B. campestris, but Persoon puts that under brassicas with siliquis tetraedris, which this is not, but, for aught that appears, it agrees with his B. Napus, closely allied, i. e. wild rape. Elliot speaks of this as introduced here. Vide Patent Office Report for 1853 and “Vegetable Kingdom,” page 179. The B. campestris also is called rape.

Leersia (cut-grass) abundantly out, apparently several days.’

The Diary Junction

Thursday, January 11, 2018

White phantoms, cloven tongues

‘At Bockhampton. My birthday - 44. Alone in the plantation, at 9 o’clock. A weird hour: strange faces and figures formed by dying lights. Holm leaves shine like human eyes, and the sky glimpses between the trunks are like white phantoms and cloven tongues. It is so silent and still that a footstep on the dead leaves could be heard a quarter of a mile off. Squirrels run up the trunks in fear, stamping and crying ‘chut-chut-chut!’ ’ This is rare piece of lyrical descriptive writing from the diary of the English writer Thomas Hardy, who died 90 years ago today. It can be found in his ‘autobiography’ as written/compiled by his second wife Florence - but for the most part the only extracts of his diary that have survived are those with some direct relevance for the ‘autobiography’. Hardy went to great lengths during his lifetime - including destroying his own diaries and those of his first wife - to control how his ‘life’ would be portrayed after his death.

Hardy was born in 1840 near Dorchester, England, and educated locally until he was 18 when was apprenticed to an architect. In 1862, he moved to London where he joined Arthur Blomfield’s practice as an assistant architect, and he was assigned to various church building projects. By the late 1860s, he was writing novels, the first two of which he published anonymously. In 1874, he married Emma Gifford, whom he had met while working in Cornwall. The year before he had published A Pair of Blue Eyes under his own name inspired by his courtship of Emma, which was also serialised, and a year later he published Far from the Madding Crowd which was successful enough to allow him to abandon architecture and take up a literary career.

After living in various places mostly in Dorset, in 1885, Hardy and his wife moved into Max Gate, near Dorchester, a house designed by Hardy and built by his brother. During the subsequent decade, he produced several of his most famous works The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), The Woodlanders (1887), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895). In these novels, Hardy tackled controversial stories of marriage and divorce, and what he saw as the hypocrisy of Victorian attitudes towards women. While many found Tess shocking, there was a public outcry against Jude the Obscure. Subsequently, Hardy retreated from fiction, and returned to his first literary love, poetry, writing and publishing hundred of poems.

By the early years of the 20th century, Hardy was undoubtedly recognised as one of the country’s outstanding authors. In 1910, King George V conferred on him the Order of Merit (Hardy had refused a knighthood), and in 1912 he received the gold medal of the Royal Society of Literature. But that same year, 1912, Emma died. Although he had been estranged from her for some years, he fell back in love with her memory. However, he had also become involved with Florence Dugdale, nearly 40 years younger, who occasionally did research for him in London, and who, herself, had literary ambitions. They married in 1914, but, biographers say, the marriage proved disappointing, and Hardy spent most of every day closeted in his study. He died in 1928. He had wanted to be buried next to Emma in Dorchester, but thanks to a somewhat gruesome compromise between executors Hardy’s heart was removed from the corpse to be buried with Emma, but the rest of it was cremated and interred in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey. Further biographical information is available online at Wikipedia, The Hardy Society, The Poetry Foundation, the Victorian Web or Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Hardy certainly kept a diary at times, but he left behind no diary manuscripts, having chosen to destroy them all - just as he had done with his first wife’s diaries, on discovering how bitterly she had written about him. Claire Tomalin, in her biography of Hardy (The Time-torn Man, Viking, 2006) writes: ‘Sensibly enough, he decided [his wife’s diaries] were largely the product of a mind subject to delusions and refused to allow them to spoil his renewed vision of her as the love of his life.’ However, in the 15 years or so after the death of Emma, and with the help of Florence, Hardy made good use of his own diaries in preparing an autobiography, the first part of which was published soon after his death: The Early Life of Thomas Hardy 1840-1891 (Macmillan, 1928). It was issued as a work ‘by Florence Emily Hardy’ as ‘compiled largely from contemporary notes, letters, diaries, and biographical memoranda, as well as from oral information in conversations extending over many years’. This original version is freely available at Internet Archive, as is the second volume, The Later Years of Thomas Hardy, 1892-1928 (Macmillan, 1930).

In a prefatory note to the first volume, Florence Hardy says she was greatly helped in her task of putting together the biography ‘by the dated observations which [Hardy] made in pocket-books, during the years of his novel-writing, apparently with the idea that if one followed the trade of fiction one must take notes, rather than from natural tendency, for when he ceased fiction and resumed the writing of verses he left off note-taking except to a very limited extent.’ However, there has been much controversy over the authorship of the two-volume ‘Life’, with biographers generally referring to it as an ‘autobiography’, and offering more or less evidence that Hardy wrote almost all of the text, went to great lengths to create the fiction of his wife’s authorship, and to hide the extent of his own penmanship. Biographers, these days, accept that Florence, with the help of a few of Hardy’s friends, did have some impact on the final published texts, more so with the second volume than the first, but mostly with the aim of ensuring he was portrayed as an attractive character.

An excellent analysis of how and why Hardy and his second wife compiled the ‘Life’ can be found in The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy by Thomas Hardy, edited by Michael Millgate (Macmillan, 1984). It is billed as ‘An edition on new principles of the materials previously drawn upon for The Early Life of Thomas Hardy 1840-1891 and The Later Years of Thomas Hardy 1892-1928 published over the name of Florence Emily Hardy’. Millgate’s introduction can be read online at Googlebooks. He writes: ‘Much that Hardy included in the ‘Life’, however, simply cannot be verified. Indubitably his are the many extracts from notebooks and diaries ascribed to specific dates, but since the originals of those notebooks and diaries were destroyed after they had been cannibalised in this way it has become impossible to check the accuracy either of the dates or of the transcriptions themselves - impossible to be confident that the proffered text of a note dated, say, 1885, corresponds at all precisely to what Hardy actually wrote in 1885.’ He adds, ‘it is self-evident that some of the notes must have been reworked’, and offers various examples of why this must be so.

Here, though, is a selection of extracts from Hardy’s diaries as found (and as reworked or not) in the 1928 edition of The Early Life of Thomas Hardy 1840-1891.

5 May 1873
‘ ‘Maniel’ [Immanuel] Riggs found dead. [A shepherd Hardy knew.] A curious man, who used to moisten his lips between every two or three words.’

9 June 1873
‘To London. Went to French Plays. Saw Brasseur, etc.’

15 June 1873
‘Met H. M. Moule at the Golden Cross Hotel. Dined with him at the British Hotel. Moule then left for Ipswich on his duties as Poor Law Inspector.’

16-20 June 1873
‘About London with my brother Henry.’

20 June 1873
‘By evening train to Cambridge. Stayed in College - Queens’ - Went out with H. M. M. after dinner. A magnificent evening: sun over ‘the Backs’.

Next morning went with H. M. M. to King’s Chapel early. M. opened the great West doors to show the interior vista: we got upon the roof, where we could see Ely Cathedral gleaming in the distant sunlight. A never-to-be-forgotten morning. H. M. M. saw me off for London. His last smile.’

23 June 1873
‘Excursions about Bath and Bristol with the ladies.’

28 June 1873
‘To Clifton with Miss Gifford.’

30 June 1873
‘About Bath alone. . . . Bath has a rural complexion on an urban substance. . .’

1 July 1873
‘A day’s trip with Miss G. To Chepstow, the Wye, the Wynd Cliff, which we climbed, and Tintern, where we repeated some of Wordsworth’s lines thereon.

At Tintern, silence is part of the pile. Destroy that, and you take a limb from an organism. . .  A wooded slope visible from every unmullioned window. But compare the age of the building with that of the marble hills from which it was drawn! . . .’

25 February 1883. Sent a short hastily written novel to the Graphic for Summer Number.’ [lt was The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid.]

28 February 1883
‘Walked with Walter Fletcher (County Surveyor) to Corfe Mullen. He says that the scene of the auction of turnpike tolls used to be curious. It was held at an inn, and at one end of the room would be the auctioneer and trustees, at the other a crowd of strange beings, looking as not worth sixpence among them. Yet the biddings for the Poole Trust would sometimes reach £1400. Sometimes the bidders would say, ‘Beg yer pardon, gentlemen, but will you wait to let us step outside a minute or two?’ Perhaps the trustees would say they could not. The men would say, ‘then we’ll step out without your letting us’. On their return only one or two would bid, and the peremptory trustees be nettled.

Passed a lonely old house formerly an inn. The road-contractor now living there showed us into the stable, and drew our attention to the furthest stall. When the place was an inn, he said, it was the haunt of smugglers, and in a quarrel there one night a man was killed in that stall. If an old horse is put there on certain nights, at about two in the morning (when the smuggler died) the horse cries
like a child, and on entering you find him in a lather of sweat.

The huge chestnut tree which stood in front of this melancholy house is dead, but the trunk is left standing. In it are still the hooks to which horses were fastened by the reins while their owners were inside.’

13 March 1883
‘M. writes to me that when a farmer at Puddlehinton who did not want rain found that a neighbouring farmer had sent to the parson to pray for it, and it had come, he went and abused the other farmer, and told him ’twas a very dirty trick of his to catch God A’mighty unawares, and he ought to be ashamed of it.

Our servant Ann brings us a report, which has been verified, that the carpenter who made a coffin for Mr. W. who died the other day, made it too short. A bystander said satirically, ‘Anybody would think you’d made it for yourself, John!’ (the carpenter was a short man). The maker said, ‘Ah - they would!’ and fell dead instantly.’

24 June 1883
‘Sunday. Went in the afternoon to see Mrs. Procter at Albert Hall Mansions. Found Browning present. He told me that Mrs.__, whom he and I had met at Lord Houghton’s, had made £200,000 by publishing pirated works of authors who had made comparatively nothing. Presently Mrs. Sutherland Orr and Mrs. Frank Hill (Daily News) came in. Also two Jewesses - the Misses Lazarus - from America. Browning tried the elder with Hebrew, and she appeared to understand so well that he said he perceived she knew the tongue better than he. When these had gone George Smith [the publisher] called, he and Mrs Procter declared that there was something tender between Mrs. Orr and Browning. ‘Why don’t they settle it!’ said Mrs. P.

In the evening went to the Irving dinner. Sir Frederick Pollock, who took the chair, and made a speech, said that the departure of Irving for America would be a loss that would eclipse the gaiety of nations (!) Irving in his reply said that in the twenty-seven years he had been on the stage he had enacted 650 different characters.’

25 June 1883
‘Dined at the Savile with Gosse. Met W. D. Howells of New York there. He told me a story of Emerson’s loss of memory. At the funeral of Longfellow he had to make a speech. ‘The brightness and beauty of soul’, he began, ‘of him we have lost, has been acknowledged wherever the English language is spoken. I’ve known him these forty years; and no American, whatever may be his opinions, will deny that in—in—in—I can’t remember the gentleman’s name - beat the heart of a true poet.’

Howells said that Mark Twain usually makes a good speech. But once he heard him fail. In his speech he was telling a story of an occasion when he was in some western city, and found that some impostors personating Longfellow, Emerson, and others had been there. Mark began to describe these impostors, and while doing it found that Longfellow, Emerson, etc., were present, listening, and, from a titter or two, found also that his satirical description of the impostors was becoming regarded as an oblique satirical description of the originals. He was overspread by a sudden cold chill, and struggled to a lame ending. He was so convinced that he had given offence that he wrote to Emerson and Longfellow, apologizing. Emerson could not understand the letter, his memory of the incident having failed him, and wrote to Mark asking what it meant. Then Mark had to tell him what he wished he had never uttered; and altogether the fiasco was complete.’

19 July 1883
‘In future I am not going to praise things because the accumulated remarks of ages say they are great and good, if those accumulated remarks are not based on observation. And I am not going to condemn things because a pile of accepted views raked together from tradition, and acquired by instillation, say antecedently that they are bad.’

22 July 1883
‘To Winterbome-Came Church with Gosse, to hear and see the poet Barnes. Stayed for sermon. Barnes, knowing we should be on the watch for a prepared sermon, addressed it entirely to his own flock, almost pointedly excluding us. Afterwards walked to the rectory and looked at his pictures.

Poetry versus reason: e.g., A band plays ‘God save the Queen’, and being musical the uncompromising Republican joins in the harmony: a hymn rolls from a church-window, and the uncompromising No-God-ist or Unconscious God-ist takes up the refrain.

13 August 1883
‘Tolbort [T. W. H. Tolbort -  a friend of Hardy’s from youth who had died recently] lived and studied as if everything in the world were so very much worth while. But what a bright mind has gone out at one-and-forty!’

3 November 1883
‘The Athenaeum says: ‘The glass-stainer maintains his existence at the sacrifice of everything the painter holds dear. In place of the freedom and sweet abandonment which is nature’s own charm and which the painter can achieve, the glass-stainer gives us splendour as luminous as that of the rainbow . . . in patches, and stripes, and bars.’ The above canons are interesting in their conveyance of a half truth. All art is only approximative - not exact, as the reviewer thinks; and hence the methods of all art differ from that of the glass-stainer but in degree.’

17 November 1883
‘Poem. We [human beings] have reached a degree of intelligence which Nature never contemplated when framing her laws, and for which she consequently has provided no adequate satisfactions.’ [This, which he had adumbrated before, was clearly the germ of the poem entitled ‘The Mother Mourns’ and others.]

23 December 1883
‘There is what we used to call ‘The Birds’ Bedroom’ in the plantation at Bockhampton. Some large hollies grow among leafless ash, oak, birch, etc. At this time of year the birds select the hollies for roosting in, and at dusk noises not unlike the creaking of withy-chairs arise, with a busy rustling as of people going to bed in a lodging-house; accompanied by sundry shakings, adjustings, and pattings, as if they were making their beds vigorously before turning in.

Death of old Billy C__ at a great age. He used to talk enthusiastically of Lady Susan O’Brien [the daughter of Lord Ilchester], who excited London by eloping with O’Brien the actor, as so inimitably described in Walpole’s Letters, and who afterwards settled in the Hardys’ parish as own; the third child’s face that of an angel; the fourth that of a cherub. The pretty one smiled on the second, and began to play “In the gloaming”, the little voices singing it. Now they were what Nature made them, before the smear of ‘civilization’ had sullied their existences. [An impression of a somewhat similar scene is given in the poem entitled ‘Music in a Snowy Street’.]

Rural low life may reveal coarseness of considerable leaven; but that libidinousness which makes the scum of cities so noxious is not usually there.’

2 June 1884
‘At Bockhampton. My birthday - 44. Alone in the plantation, at 9 o’clock. A weird hour: strange faces and figures formed by dying lights. Holm leaves shine like human eyes, and the sky glimpses between the trunks are like white phantoms and cloven tongues. It is so silent and still that a footstep on the dead leaves could be heard a quarter of a mile off. Squirrels run up the trunks in fear, stamping and crying ‘chut-chut-chut!’ ’

Saturday, November 18, 2023

What poems people are

‘I felt more powerfully than ever today what poems people are; not the part of them that speaks, but the mysterious, intricate network of thoughts and feelings which remain unexpressed.’ This is from an early diary of Ruth Crawford Seeger, American composer and folk music specialist, who died 70 years ago today. Her diaries, though not published, have underpinned at least two biographies.

Crawford was born in East Liverpool, Ohio, the second child of a Methodist minister. The family moved several times during her childhood, settling in 1912, in Jacksonville, Florida. Her father died of TB, and her mother then opened a boarding house to help make ends meet. Having shown promise in poetry and music from an early age, she started, in 1913, taking piano lessons with Bertha Foster (founder of the local School of Musical Art). Further studies followed with Madame Valborg Collett. After leaving high school in 1918, she began to pursue a career as a concert pianist, sometimes performing at musical events. She also began teaching at Foster’s school and began composing for her pupils. In 1921, she moved to Chicago, and enrolled at the American Conservatory of Music.

In Chicago, Crawford studied piano with Heniot Levy and composition/theory with Adolf Weidig; she also wrote several early works. After receiving her degree in 1924, she enrolled in the master’s degree programme. That year, she took up private piano lessons with Djane Lavoie-Herz, a teacher who introduced her to the ideas of theosophy, the music of Alexander Scriabin, and to a wider world of artists and thinkers. She moved to New York where she studied composition, and where she worked as a piano teacher for the children of poet Carl Sandburg. Through Sandburg, she became interested in American folksongs, contributing arrangements to his 1927 book The American Songbag. In 1929 she began study with Charles Seeger. The two married in 1932 with Ruth assuming responsibility for Charles’ children by a previous marriage, including Pete, soon to become America’s best known folksinger (see They mix it up almost as I do). With Charles, she had two children, Peggy and Mike, both of whom also became renowned folksingers and teachers.

In 1936, the Seegers moved to Washington, D.C. to collect folk songs for the Library of Congress. Ruth acted as transcriber for the book Our Singing Country and, with Charles Seeger, Folk Song USA, both authored by John and Alan Lomax. Subsequently, she published her own pioneering collection, American Folk Songs for Children, in 1948. This and other Crawford Seeger books of the kind came to be regarded as key texts in primary music education. Having composed little since 1934, she returned to serious composition with the Suite for Wind Quintet in 1952. By the time it was complete, she learned she had cancer. She died on 18 November 1953 aged only 52. Further information is available from Wikipedia, Peggy Seeger’s website, The New York Times, Encyclopaedia Britannica, or the Los Angeles Public Library.

Seeger kept a diary from the age of 13 though only portions are extant. Those from her late teens cover daily activities, some philosophical musings and self-analysis. Later entries (1927-1929) ruminate on her first serious love affair, her decision nonetheless to pursue a career in New York, and the beginning of her long friendship with Marion Bauer. Her diaries have not been published as far as I can tell, but at least two biographies mention them often. Ruth Crawford Seeger: memoirs, memories, music by Matilda Gaume (Scarecrow Press, 1986) is freely available at Internet Archive (log-in required). This provides a number of direct quotes from the diaries, and, where not clear in the narrative, their dates are given in the extensive notes at the back of the book. Here are several examples.

6 January 1918
‘What is the soul? When it leaves the body we do not see it. And where is God? Everywhere? But what is he? Why can’t I know all these things? Because thou shouldst then know as much as God. Yes, true. But how -how I want to know it all.’ 

28 October 1927
‘I felt more powerfully than ever today what poems people are; not the part of them that speaks, but the mysterious, intricate network of thoughts and feelings which remain unexpressed.’

16 August 1929
‘Marion Bauer - she has freed me - I am writing again. She asks me to lunch on Tuesday; after lunch she plays some of her preludes . . . One thing I learned from this beautiful afternoon with Marion Bauer was that I had been forgetting that craftsmanship was also art. I have not been composing and have felt tense, partly because I relied on inspiration only. I was not willing to work things out; I felt that inspiration, emotion within, but when it started to come out, my attitude was so negative that the poor thought crept back into darkness from fear. Discipline. We talked on discipline a few nights ago - necessary - ear-training - hearing away from the piano. Lie on your couch and hear and study Bach chorales. Make yourself hear; also improvise, not wildly, but making your self hear the next chord. Courage, Marion Bauer tells me - work. You have a great talent. You must go ahead. I do not mean that you must not marry, but you must not drop your work.’

17 February 1930
‘Only God and my creditors know how poor I am. I wish my creditors were like God. He takes his pay too, but he does it gradually, and you don't realize it until the peanut bag is empty. Then he blows into it and claps it between his two hands, and throws away a bag that isn’t any good any more because it has a hole in it. All the time he is putting peanuts into new bags, and taking them out of old bags, and there is a regular stock exchange of peanuts. But he isn’t the kind of creditor who sends you a bill.’

More recently, Judith Tick in her biography, Ruth Crawford Seeger: A Composer’s Search for American Music, (Oxford University Press, 1997), also available to borrow at Internet Archive, does not include so many complete quotes, but she does weave short excerpts into her narrative, for example, as follows:

Page 22
‘Ruth Crawford found her way to composition through the routine of playing through music for her small pupils. A few notations in her diary outline the steps. On December 18, 1918, Ruth “looked over more music [for teaching] and improvised some.” January 3, 1919: “Have made up another piano piece - the 2nd one,” she wrote, adding, “Love to do it!” She showed her compositions to a Mr. Pierce, who perceived talent and decided to teach her some theory. He gave her what she later belittled as “four dry lessons from Chadwicks harmony book”; but on January 17, she wrote in her diary that she was “crazy about harmony.” Two piano pieces, Whirligig and The Elf Dance, date from this period. The Elf Dance was pronounced “real cunning” by Mrs. Doe, a teacher at the School of Musical Art, and a “cute thing” by Madame Collett.’

Page 57
‘Sandburg, moreover, stood on the shoulders of writers whom she perhaps loved even more: Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. Crawford opened her 1927 diary with a quotation from Walden Pond, underlining Thoreau’s admonition to “probe the universe in a myriad points.” She alluded to Whitman frequently. One diary entry recounts a telling incident at Djane Herz’s studio: “I pick up Leaves of Grass and find a good many of the first verses of Song of Myself underlined. I feel at home.” Whitman’s cosmic metaphysics inspired her. “His constant reiteration of the oneness of himself with all other creatures - a sense of bigness” was an article of faith in her aesthetic theology.’

Page 60
Despite her success, 1926 was a difficult year. One diary entry refers to 1926 as a “nightmare,” with a darker reference to one “bitter, irritable day” in which “more sensitive morbid people become suicides. My wretchedness comes from the returning to my eyes of last year’s pulling, wracking strain, which makes practice and composing hard.” Little else is known about this crisis of nerves and health, or about an operation that Ruth had in the fall of 1925 to alleviate these symptoms. They abated but did not disappear entirely, and could trigger what Crawford described as spells of “depression.” ’

Page 90
‘Clara Crawford slipped into a coma a few days before her death on August 14. In the last diary entry Ruth’s own sense of loss finally tempered her journalistic fever, as she began to grieve. “I find myself often thinking of something I want to tell or ask Mother. Can it be that I shall never be able to talk to her again? It seems incredible. How little I realized how close she was to me, and what a child I still was, and how very much her interest and love and thoughts for my music were woven into my life! I feel stifled to think she will never again be there to hear and sympathize; I look forward through the years, and feel tragically alone. I begin to wonder how I can live. And to think that I had been feeling during the past year or two a desire to live alone, never dreaming how painfully soon Fate would answer my misplaced and erroneous desire. . .  How pitifully small was my realization of my love and need for Mother. . . I sit here by her bedside and though she breathes and I feel comfort just in holding her hand on my knee, yet my heart aches and I feel like one in prison, for I can tell her nothing, and if I could, she could not answer.” ’

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A sensitive and nervous man

Bret Harte, an American writer best remembered for his prose, particularly short stories about the Californian gold rush, and satirical poetry, was born 180 years ago today. He kept a diary for a few short months when a young man, but biographers tend to find the diary of Annie Fields, wife of the editor of The Atlantic Monthly, who described him as a sensitive and nervous man, more useful.

Harte was born on 25 August 1836 in Albany, New York, into a family, originally Jewish immigrants. He seems to have left school at 13, and moved to California a few years later, where he worked in a variety of jobs. Having tried to make a living in the gold mining towns, he became a messenger for the Wells Fargo stagecoach company, guarding treasure boxes, before trying his hand as a teacher first then as a journalist. He reported on the 1860 killing of indigenous people at Tuluwat for San Francisco and New York newspapers. Having condemned the massacre, his own life was threatened, and he moved to San Francisco. One there, it is believed he authored an anonymous letter to the press describing widespread community approval of the massacre.

In 1860, Harte became editor of The Golden Era and set about turning it into a more literary publication; and in 1862 he married Anna Griswold. By this time, he was publishing poetry, romantic short stories about the Californian Gold Rush, as well as satirical prose. Some of his work was taken up by The Atlantic Monthly, edited by James Thomas Fields. In 1868, he became editor of the new literary magazine, Overland Monthly, which, two years later, published his poem Plain Language from Truthful James or, as it was better known, The Heathen Chinee. This narrative poem, satirising anti-Chinese sentiment, was widely republished, bringing Harte considerable fame. In search of furthering his literary career he moved to New York, and then Boston, and became contracted, at a high salary, to The Atlantic Monthly. His popularity did not last long, and by the end of 1872 the contract was over, and selling stories was becoming increasingly difficult.

Life remained tough for Harte until, in 1878, he went alone to Germany to take a position as US consul in Krefeld, and then, in 1880, in Glasgow, UK. Though he wrote to his family (Anna and four children) and continued to support them, he never returned to the US (nor did they visit them him in Europe). In 1885, he moved to London, where he continued to pursue his literary ambitions. He died in 1902. Further information is available from Wikipedia, Poem Hunter, or Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Harte kept a diary for a few months in 1857-1858. Bret Harte (American Book Company, 1941) by Joseph B. Harrison quotes from it but once. Gary Scharnhorst, in Bret Harte: Opening the American Literary West (University of Oklahoma Press, 2000), provides an extract from 31 December 1857: ‘Before I close this Journal containing but a small portion of last years doings let me indulge in a retrospect. I am at the commencement of this year - a teacher at a Salary of $25 per mo - last year at this time I was unemployed. Last year I thought I was in love - this year I think the same tho the object is a different one. ... I have added to my slight stock of experiences and have suffered considerable. Ah! well did the cynical Walpole say life is a comedy to those who think - a tragedy to those who feel. - I both think and feel. My life is a mixture of broad caricature and farce when I think of others, it is a melodrama when I feel for myself. In these 365 days I have again put forth a feeble essay toward fame and perhaps fortune. - I have tried literature albeit in an humble way - successfully - I have written some poetry: passable and some prose (good) which have been published. . . . Therefore I consecrate this year or as much as God may grant for my service - to honest heartfelt sincere labor and devotion to this occupation. - God help me - may I succeed.’

Axel Nissen, in his biography, Bret Harte: Prince and Pauper (University Press of Mississippi, 2000), refers to Harte’s diary more often but notes that he made his last entry on 5 March 1858. Here are two paragraphs of Nissen’s text, largely sourced on Harte’s diary.

‘Each day he would conscientiously record the day’s lessons in his diary, in addition to his own quotidian activities. One day was much like the other: school in the morning Monday through Saturday, a trip to town in the afternoon or a shooting expedition, alone or with one of the boys. During the five months Harte kept the diary, he painstakingly recorded every duck, meadowlark, teal, widgeon, and ring-necked and buttheaded plover he brought down. It was almost an obsession. Rain or shine, sick or well, he tramped out to the marshes with his gun after school, sometimes also in the morning before breakfast. On December 10, for example, he recorded that he shot a duck (“but couldn’t get him”), a teal, and a snipe, and remarked with evident satisfaction: “I am improving in my skill, and of late have made good success [one word illegible] shooting. However I must try to persevere in other things.” His hunting expeditions were an escape from the claustrophobia of living among strangers and gave him time to think. He got himself a dog. Bones, to keep him company. The diary gives us an impression of a sober, serious-minded, industrious, and critical young man - early to bed and early to rise - thoughtful and a mite restless in his country isolation.’

‘But there was also a darker side to his existence. The diary gives ample evidence of depression and even despair. Only a few days after moving in with the Liscombs, he came home from Sunday service “very blue and discontented.” A month later, on Thanksgiving, there was a dancing party in town. Everyone was there; Harte tried to dance, found he couldn’t, and was ‘‘very much annoyed.” He came home “incontinently” in the pouring rain and spent a restless night. Christmas Day was even worse. He helped Maggie prepare the meal, and they had Christmas dinner with the Martins and her in-laws. He was feeling quite melancholy by this point, and attendance at a dance in the evening only made it worse. ‘‘What the d....d am I to do with myself,” he scratched down desperately in his diary, ‘‘the simplest pleasures fail to please me - my melancholy and gloomy foreboding stick to me closer than a brother. I cannot enjoy myself rationally like others but am forced to make a gloomy spectacle of myself to gods and men.” The “thermometer of my spirits,” as he analyzed it that day, had started at 40 degrees temperate in the morning, risen to eighty by 3 P.M., fallen all the way down to zero by 9 P.M., and by 1 A.M., he was still awake and twenty below.’

All Harte’s biographers find useful information in the published diary of the wife of the editor of The Atlantic MonthlyAnnie Fields - Memories of a hostess: A chronicle of eminent friendships, drawn chiefly from the diaries of Mrs. James T. Fields by M. A. DeWolfe Howe (The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1922). Here are several extracts about Harte.

5 September 1871
‘J. went to Boston. I wrote in the pastures and walked all the morning. Coming home, after dinner, came a telegram for me to meet J. and Bret Harte at Beverly station with the pony carriage. I drove hard to catch the train, but arrived in season, glad to take up the two good boys and show them Beverly shore. [. . .] Mr. Harte had much to say of the beautiful flowers of California, roses being in bloom about his own house there every month in the year. He found the cloudless skies and continued drought of California very hard to bear. For the first time in my life I considered how terrible perpetual cloudlessness would be! He thinks there is no beauty in the mountains of California, hard, bare, snowless peaks. Neither are there trees, nor any green grass.

He is delighted with the fragrant lawns of Newport and has, I believe, put into verse a delightful ghost story which he told us. He has taken a house of some antiquity in Newport, connected with which is the story of a lady who formerly lived there and who was very fond of the odor of mignonette. The flower was always growing in her house, and after her death, at two o’clock every night, a strong odor has always been perceived passing through the house as if wafted along by the garments of a woman. One night at the appointed hour, but entirely unconnected in his thought with the story Mr. Harte had long ago heard, he was arrested in his work by a strong perfume of mignonette which appeared to sweep by him. He looked about, thinking his wife might have placed a vase of flowers in the room, but finding nothing he began to follow the odor, which seemed to flit before him. Then he recalled, for the first time, the story he had heard. He opened the door; the odor was in the hall; he opened the room where the lady died, but there was no odor there; until returning, after making a circuit of the house, he found a faint perfume as if she had passed but not stayed there also. At last, somewhat oppressed perhaps by the ghostliness of the place and hour, he went out and stood upon the porch. There his dream vanished. The sweet lawn and tree flowers were emitting an odor, as is common at the hour when dews congeal, more sweet than at any other time of day or night, and the air was redolent of sweets which might easily be construed into mignonette. The story was well told and I shall be glad to see his poem. [. . .]

Mr. Harte is a very sensitive and nervous man. He struggles against himself all the time. He sat on the piazza with J. and talked till a late hour. This morning at breakfast I found him most interesting. He talked of his early and best-loved books. It appears that at the age of nine he was a lover and reader of Montaigne. Certain writers, he says, seem to him to stand out as friends and brothers side by side in literature. Now Horace and Montaigne are so associated in his mind. Mr. Emerson, he thinks, never in the least approaches a comprehension of the character of the man. With an admiration for his great sayings, he has never guessed at the subtle springs from which they come. The pleasant acceding to both sides in politics, and other traits of like nature, gives him affinity with Hawthorne. By the way, he is a true appreciator of Hawthorne. He was moved to much merriment yesterday by remembering a passage in the notes, where he slyly remarks, “Margaret Fuller’s cows hooked the other cows.” Speaking of Dr. Bartol, he said, “What a dear old man he is! A venerable baby, nothing more.” But Harte is most kindly and tender. His wife has been very ill and has given him cause for terrible anxiety. This accounts for much left undone, but he is an oblivious man oftentimes to his surroundings - leaves things behind!!’

12 January 1872
‘Bret Harte was here at breakfast. It is curious to see his feeling with regard to society. For purely literary society, with its affectations and contempts, he has no sympathy. He has at length chosen New York as his residence, and among the Schuylers, Sherwoods, and their friends he appears to find what he enjoys. There is evidently a gene about people and life here, and provincialisms which he found would hurt him. He is very sensitive and keen, with a love and reverence for Dickens almost peculiar in this coldly critical age. Bryant he finds very cold and totally unwilling to lead the conversation, as he should do when they are together, as he justly remarks, he being so much younger - but never a word without cart and horses to fetch it. Bret Harte has a queer absent-minded way of spending his time, letting the hours slip by as if he had not altogether learned their value yet. It is a miracle to us how he lives, for he writes very little. Thus far I suppose he has had money from J. R. O. & Co., but I fancy they have done with giving out money save for a quid pro quo.’

18 September 1875
‘Bret Harte came on the 1⁄2 past 12 train. He came in good health, save a headache which ripened as the day went on; but he was bubbling over with fun, full of the most natural and unexpected sallies. He wished to know if I was acquainted with the Cochin China hen. They had one at Cohasset. They had named him Benventuro (after a certain gay Italian singer of strong self-appreciation who came formerly to America). He said this hen’s state of mind on finding a half-exploded fire-cracker and her depressed condition since its explosion was something extraordinary. His description was so vivid that I still see this hen perambulating about the house, first with pride, second with precipitation, fallen into disgrace among her fellows. He said Cohasset was not the place to live in the summer if one wanted sea-breezes. They all came straight from Chicago!! He fancied the place, thinking it an old fishing village, not unlike Yarmouth. Instead of which they prided themselves upon never having “any of your sea-smells,” and, being five miles from the doctor, could not be considered a cheerful place to live in with sick children. He said he was surprised to find J. T. F. without a sailor’s jacket and collar. The actors among whom he had been living rather overdid the business; their collars were wider, their shirts fuller, and their trousers more bulgy than those of any real sailor he had ever observed, and the manner of hitching up the trousers was entirely peculiar to themselves and to the stage. [. . .]

Harte said in speaking of Longfellow that no one had yet overpraised him. The delicate quality of humor, the exquisite fineness in the choice of words, the breadth and sweetness of his nature were something he could hardly help worshipping. One day after a dinner at Mr. Lowell’s he said, “I think I will not have a carriage to return to town. I will walk down to the Square.” “I will walk with you,” said Longfellow. When they arrived at his gate, he said, he was so beautiful that he could only think of the light and whiteness of the moon, and if he had stayed a moment longer he should have put his arms around him and made a fool of himself then and there. Whereat he said good night abruptly and turned away.

He brought his novel and play with him which are just now finished, for us to read. He has evidently enjoyed the play, and he enjoys the fame and the money they both bring him.

He is a dramatic, lovable creature with his blue silk pocket-handkerchief and red dressing slippers and his quick feelings. I could hate the man who could help loving him - or the woman either.’

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sinking so exceedingly

Jonathan Edwards, considered by some to be the most important of American philosophical theologians, was born 310 years ago today. He was a major figure in the revivalist movement of New England in the 1730s and 1740s - the so-called First Great Awakening - but fell out with his own congregation and went to minister at a Massachusetts mission outpost. Many of his sermons and essays were published, and old editions of his collected works, readily available online, tend to include a diary he kept when still a young man.

Edwards was born on 5 October 1703 in East Windsor, Connecticut, into a large family; and, having been tutored by his father and sisters, entered Yale College aged 13. He worked as a pastor in New York, before returning to Yale as a tutor. He took a position, in 1737, as associate pastor to his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, in Northampton, Massachusetts. The same year he married Sarah Pierpont, and they had 11 children.

After Stoddard’s death, Edwards took over in sole ministerial charge of the large Northampton congregation, and began to criticise the moral ills of New England society, not least in published sermons and essays, such as A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God. He went on to produce many more tracts inspiring and supporting the revivalist movement, not least The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God (1741), Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival (1742), and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (1746).

According to Yale University’s web page on Edwards: ‘Perry Miller, the grand expositor of the New England mind and founder of the Yale edition of the Works of Jonathan Edwards, described Edwards as the first and greatest homegrown American philosopher. If the student penetrates behind the technical language of theology, Miller argued, “he discovers an intelligence which, as much as Emerson’s, Melville’s, or Mark Twain’s, is both an index of American society and a comment upon it.” Although nineteenth-century editors of Edwards “improved” his style out of embarrassment for his unadorned, earthy, and earnest language, today Edwards is recognized as a consummate and sophisticated rhetorician and as a master preacher.’

In 1750, after a long-running dispute with his congregation, Edwards was dismissed by the church in Northampton for trying to impose strict qualifications for admission to the sacraments. According to Yale again: ‘His dismissal is often seen as a turning point in colonial American history because it marked the clear and final rejection of the old “New England Way” constructed by the Puritan settlers of New England. [. . .] Ironically, then, the colonial theologian who best anticipated the intellectual shape of modern America also was its first victim.’

in 1751, Edwards went to the mission post of Stockbridge, on the western border of Massachusetts, where he pastored a small English congregation, and wrote many of his major works, including A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of that Freedom of Will. In late 1757, he was lured back to mainstream society with the presidency of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) - because, according to Princeton, he was considered ‘the most eminent American philosopher-theologian of his time’. He died but a few months later. For further biographical information see Wikipedia, the Jonathan Edwards Center website (Yale University), Christian Classics Ethereal Library, or the Desiring God website.

Edwards has no claim to fame as a diarist, but his collected works do include some pages of a diary kept largely in his youth. A first section is made up of fairly regularly entries from December 1722 to September 1723; and a second section has frequent entries between October 1723 and June 1724, then intermittent entries to June 1725, one single entry in 1726, one in 1734, and finally three in 1735. The diary can be found in The Life of President Edwards by S. E. Dwight published by Carvill in 1830 (and in other general compilations of Edwards’ works) at Internet Archive, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, and Googlebooks.

15 January 1723
‘About two or three o’clock. I have been all this time decaying. It seemed yesterday, the day before, and Saturday, that I should always retain the same resolutions to the same height. But alas! how soon do I decay! O how weak, how infirm, how unable to do any thing of myself! What a poor inconsistent being! What a miserable wretch, without the assistance of the Spirit of God! While I stand, I am ready to think that I stand by my own strength, and upon my own legs; and I am ready to triumph over my spiritual enemies, as if it were I myself that caused them to flee: when alas! I am but a poor infant, upheld by Jesus Christ; who holds me up, and gives me liberty to smile to see my enemies flee, when he drives them before me. And so I laugh, as though I myself did it, when it is only Jesus Christ leads me along, and fights himself against my enemies. And now the Lord has a little left me, how weak do I find myself! O let it teach me to depend less on myself, to be more humble, and to give more of the praise of my ability to Jesus Christ! The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? The occasion of my decaying, is a little melancholy. My spirits are depressed, because I fear that I lost some friendship the last night; and, my spirits being depressed, my resolutions have lost their strength. I differ to-day from yesterday in these things: I do not resolve anything to-day half so strongly. I am not so perpetually thinking of renewing my resolutions as I was then. I am not half so vigorous as I was then; nor am I half so careful to do every thing with vigour. Then, I kept continually acting; but now, I do things slowly, and satisfy myself by thinking of religion in the mean time. I am not so careful to go from one business to another. I felt humiliation about sun-set. What shall I do, in order that I may, with a good grace, fall into christian discourse and conversation? At night. The next time I am in such a lifeless frame, I will force myself to go rapidly from one thing to another, and to do those things with vigour, in which vigour would ever be useful. The things which take off my mind, when bent on religion, are commonly some remarkable change or alteration - journeys, change of place, change of business, change of studies, and change of other circumstances; or something that makes me melancholy; or some sin.’

17 January 1723
‘About three o’clock, overwhelmed with melancholy.’

1 January 1724
‘Not to spend too much time in thinking, even of important and necessary worldly business, and to allow every thing its proportion of thought, according to its urgency and importance.’

2 January 1724
‘These things established, That time gained in things of lesser importance, is as much gained in things of greater; that a minute gained in times of confusion, conversation, or in a journey, is as good as minute gained in my study, at my most retired times; and so, in general, that a minute gained at one time is as good as at another.’

3 January 1724
‘The time and pains laid out in seeking the world, is to be proportioned to the necessity, usefulness, and importance of it, with respect to another world, together with the uncertainty of living, and of retaining; provided, that nothing that our duty enjoins, or that is amiable, be omitted, and nothing sinful or unbecoming be done for the sake of it.’

6 January 1724 [At Yale College]
‘This week has been a very remarkable week with me, with respect to despondencies, fears, perplexities, multitudes of cares, and distraction of mind: it being the week I came hither to New-Haven, in order to entrance upon the office of tutor of the college. I have now abundant reason to be convinced of the troublesomeness and vexation of the world, and that it will never be another kind of world.’

7 January 1724
‘When I am giving the relation of a thing, remember to abstain from altering either in the matter or manner of speaking, so much, as that if every one, afterwards, should alter as much, it would at last come to be properly false.’

2 September 1724
‘By a sparingness in diet, and eating as much as may be what is light and easy of digestion, I shall doubtless be able to think more clearly, and shall gain time; 1. By lengthening out my life; 2. Shall need less time for digestion, after meals; 3. Shall be able to study more closely, without injury to my health; 4. Shall need less time for sleep; 5. Shall more seldom be troubled with the head-ache.’

12 September 1724
‘Crosses of the nature of that which I met with this week, thrust me quite below all comforts in religion. They appear no more than vanity and stubble, especially when I meet with them so unprepared for them. I shall not be fit to encounter them, except I have a far stronger and more permanent faith, hope, and love.’

30 September 1724
‘It has been a prevailing thought with me, to which I have given place in practice, that it is best sometimes to eat or drink, when it will do me no good, because the hurt that it will do me, will not be equal to the trouble of denying myself. But I have determined to suffer that thought to prevail no longer. The hurries of commencement and diversion of the vacancy, has been the occasion of my sinking so exceedingly, as in the last three weeks.’

The Diary Junction

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Diary Review’s fifth birthday

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the launch of The Diary Review. During its five years, the column has included extracts from the diaries of over 450 diarists. The Diary Review and The Diary Junction together can claim to provide the internet’s most extensive and comprehensive online resource for information about, and links to, diary texts. Here listed are all the diarists that have been written about in The Diary Review. Copy any name into the Blogger search box (above) to access the article(s). All the articles are also tagged with keywords (below right) by century, country, and subject matter.

The Diary Review diarists: May 2008 - April 2013 (most recent first)

John Addington Symonds; Henry James; Edwina Currie; Alan Clark; Tony Benn; Idris Davies; William Henry Jackson; Adam Winthrop; Noël Coward; Richard Hurrell Froude; Deborah Bull; Joseph Warren Stilwell; King Edward VII; William Cobbett; John Evelyn Denison; William Macready; Michel de Montaigne; Joseph Goebbels; George Barker; Anais Nin; Thomas Crosfield; Alec Guinness; Amrita Sher-Gil; Gordon of Khartoum; Hugh Gaitskell; Swami Vivekananda; Albert Jacka; Joe Orton; William Bray; Anthony Wood; William Cole; Henry Greville; Louisa Alcott; Dang Thuy Tram; John Rabe; John Manningham; Mary Berry; Edmund Franklin Ely; Sergei Prokofiev; Guy Liddell; Richard Burton; Marina Tsvetaeva; Rutherford B Hayes; John Thomlinson; Elizabeth Simcoe; August Gottlieb Spangenberg; George Croghan; William Booth; Iris Origo; George H Johnston; Dawn Powell; Arthur Hamilton Baynes; Roger Twysden; William Cory; William Grant Stairs; Celia Fiennes; Edmond de Goncourt; August Strindberg; Edward Lear; Charles Abbot; May Sarton; Ralph Waldo Emerson; A C Benson; George Cockburn; George William Frederick Howard; Frederick Hamilton; Clifford Crease; Father Patrick McKenna; Robert Musil; Michael Spicer; Chris Parry; Rick Jolly; Tony Groom; Neil Randall; Peter Green; Samuel Sewall; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory; Mochtar Lubis; Alice James; John Byrom; Lawrence Durrell; Thomas Moore; Beatrice Webb; Alexander Hamilton Stephens; William Charles Macready; Charles Dickens; John Baker; William Swabey; Derek Jarman; Edith Wharton; Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen; William Tayler; Robert Boyle; Roald Amundsen; Henry L Stimson; Victor Andrew Bourasaw; Robert W Brockway; Louis P. Davis; Robert Hailey; Sydney Moseley; Rodney Foster; Xu Zhimo; Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov ; David Livingstone; Christopher Columbus; George Whitwell Parsons; Arthur Schnitzler; Thomas Edison; Nathaniel Dance Holland; Frederic Remington; Lady Mary Coke; Henri-Frédéric Amiel; Engelbert Kaempfer; Henry Melchior Muhlenberg; Walter Scott; Alan Lascelles; Lord Longford; Thomas Isham; Hiram Bingham; Earl of Shaftesbury; Hannah Senesh; Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville; Allan Cunningham; Thomas Asline Ward; Robert Lindsay Mackay; Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Queen Mary; King George V; John Reith; Philip Toynbee; Robert Wyse; Tappan Adney; Brigham Young; Gideon Mantell; Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz; Alfred Domett; Alfred Kazin; Joseph Hunter; George Jackson; Prince Albert; 7th Earl of Shaftesbury; William Dyott; Ford Madox Brown; William Brereton; Adam Eyre ; Aubrey Herbert; Anne Chalmers; Walter Powell; Ron Hubbard; Taras Shevchenko; Xu Xiake; Cecil Harmsworth King; Henry Martyn; Countess of Ranfurly; Anne Morrow Lindbergh; Charles Crowe; Mary Shelley; Hester Thrale; Queen Victoria; Eliza Frances Andrews; Ananda Ranga Pillai; Abraham de la Pryme; Henry Fynes Clinton; Jane Carlyle; Jacob Bee; Paul Bowles; José Lezama Lima; Stendhal; Ludwig van Beethoven; Benjamin Constant; Charlotte Bury; Hugh Prather; Leo Tolstoy; Eric Gill; Ernst Jünger; Thomas Cairns Livingstone; George Bernard Shaw; King Chulalongkorn; Julia Ward Howe; Richard Boyle; Charles Ash Windham; Elizabeth Gaskell; Étienne Jacques Joseph Macdonald; Leonard J Arrington; Takehiko Fukunaga; Porfirio Díaz; William Holman Hunt; John Hutton Bisdee; Mother Teresa; Graham Young; Wilfrid Scawen Blunt; Florence Nightingale; Elizabeth Percy; Luca Landucci; Timothy Burrell; William Lyon Mackenzie King; William Byrd; Marius Petipa; Conrad Weiser; Lester Frank Ward ; Minnie Vautrin; Tsen Shui-Fang; Katherine Mansfied; Peter Pears; Richard Pococke; Axel von Fersen; Gonzalo Torrente Ballester; Li Peng; Robert Schumann; Chantal Akerman; William Windham; Anne Lister; Alan Brooke; Guy Liddell; Hugh Casson; Jules Renard; Alastair Campbell; Fridtjof Nansen; Ricci the sinologist; Matteo Ricci; John Carrington; Gustave Flaubert; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Anne Frank; Virginia Woolf; Marie Louise of Austria; Dorothy Wordsworth; Antera Duke; Edward Hodge; Jeffrey Archer; Vaslav Nijinsky ; John Poindexter ; Cosima Liszt Wagner; Lady Cynthia Asquith; Thomas Clarkson; William Marjouram; Roland Barthes; Franklin Pierce Adams; Murasaki Shikibu; Caroline Herschel; Mikhail Bulgakov; Han Feng; William Griffith; Casanova; Victor Klemperer; Nelson Mandela; Josef Mengele; Ted Koppel; Henriette Desaulles; Ole Bull; Anton Chekhov; Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen; Cecil Beaton; Douglas Hyde; Donald Friend; Barbara Pym; Antonia Fraser; Fanny Burney; Jack Lovelock; Richard Newdigate; Albert Camus; William Gladstone; Thomas Babington Macaulay; Chet Baker; Paul Klee; Henry Edward Fox; Peter Scott; David Hamilton; Chiang Kai-shek; Washington Irving; Fanny Kemble; André Gide; Edwin Hubble; Tomaž Humar; William Howard Russell; Pehr Kalm; Gareth Jones; Anatoly Chernyaev; Leon Trotsky; Bernard Berenson; Benjamin Britten; Jacob Abbott; Otto Rank; Gurdjieff; Itō Hirobumi; George B McClellan; Jack Kerouac; Benjamin Roth; Lee Harvey Oswald; Roger Boyle; Meriwether Lewis; Abel Janszoon Tasman; Alfred Dreyfus; Alfred Deakin; John Narbrough; Gandhi; Arnold Bennett; Jim Carroll; Mahmoud Darwish; George Rose; Maria Nugent; James Fenimore Cooper; Henry Hudson; Kim Dae-jung; Georges Simenon; Henry Peerless; Drew Pearson; Earl Mountbatten of Burma; William Wilberforce; Alfred A Cunningham; Rosa Bonheur; Hana Pravda; Isaac Albéniz; Marie Curie; Dr Alessandro Ricci; John Skinner; General Patrick Gordon; Alexander von Humboldt; Charlotte Grimké; Christian Gottlieb Ferdinand Ritter von Hochstetter; General Hilmi Özkök; George Eliot; Aurora Quezon; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Stafford Cripps; Edward Bates; Alexis de Tocqueville; Elizabeth Lee; John Steinbeck; Harvey Cushing; Robert E Peary; John Rae; Dwight Eisenhower; Thomas Mann; A E Housman; Joseph Liouville; Lady Anne Clifford; Harold Nicolson; Neville Chamberlain; Edward Abbey; John Lennon; Georg Wilhelm Steller; Derk Bodde; Joe DiMaggio; Raoul Wallenberg; Leonard Woolf; Howard Carter; Stephen Spender; Chris Mullin; August Derleth; Olave Baden-Powell; William H. Seward; Charles Darwin; John Ruskin; Felix Mendelssohn; Alexander Selkirk; Ken Wilber; Jacob Roggeveen; Christopher Hibbert; Breckinridge Long; Sir George Rooke; Jeremiah Dixon; David Garrick; Sir John Moore; Abraham Plotkin; Steve Carano; William Keeling; Naomi Mitchison; Susan Sontag; Hanazono; Emily Brontë; Mary Leadbeater; Pope John XXIII; Robert Coverte; George Monck; Johann August Sutter; Sir George Hubert Wilkins; Christopher Isherwood; Charles Everett Ellis; Edmund Harrold; Selma Lagerlöf; Elizabeth George Speare; Georgy Feodosevich Voronoy; Edith Roller; Henry Machyn; Jedediah Hubbell Dorwin; Piseth Pilika; Marie Bashkirtseff; Jacques Piccard; Herculine Barbin; Catherine Deneuve; George Washington; Hélène Berr; Humphrey Lyttelton; Ted Hughes; Sylvia Plath; Charles XIII; Arthur Jephson; Harry Allen; Yves Bertrand; Sean Lester; Douglas Mawson; Thomas Turner; Henry Chips Channon; John Blow; Robert Louis Stevenson; Abel J Herzberg; Elizabeth Fremantle; August Möbius; John Churton Collins; Krste Misirkov; Mika Waltari; Bernard Donoughue; William Bray; Cesare Pavese; John Home; Samuel Pepys; Edward Walter Hamilton; Bernard Leach; Max Brod; Che Guevara; Lorenzo Whiting Blood; Harriet Stewart Judd; Angelina Jolie; Robert Dickinson; John Longe; George H W Bush; Jikaku Daishi; Choe Bu; Arthur Munby; Hanna Cullwick; Mary Blathwayt; Alexander MacCallum Scott; Walt Whitman; Helena Morley; Carolina Maria de Jesus; Alice Dayrell Caldeira Brant; Rachel Corrie; Lady Nijo; Paul Coelho; Sir Henry Slingsby; Edgar Vernon Christian; Dorothy Day; Mary Boykin Chesnut; Lord Hailsham; Nia Wyn; Rutka Laskier; Tom Bradley; Richard Pearson; Barbellion; Pekka-Eric Auvinen; Chester Gillette; James Giordonello; Simon Gray; Harry Telford; Özden Örnek; Anna Politkovskaya; Serge Prokofiev; Rasputin