Thursday, March 28, 2013

A swarme of bees

Adam Winthrop, a lawyer and prosperous Suffolk landowner, died all of 390 years ago today. He is remembered partly because he kept a diary, and partly because his immediate descendants were leading figures in the development of colonies in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Winthrop was born in 1548 in London but he spent some of his youth in Suffolk, where his father, also Adam (see picture), a master clothmaker, had purchased a manor at Groton. He studied at Magdalene, Cambridge, where he met John Still, and later married Alice Still. He trained for the law at the Inns of Court. In 1575, Winthrop was appointed steward of the college’s Kentish manors.

Alice died young, and Winthrop married Anne Browne, son of Henry Browne, a former clergyman of Groton. He acted as a minor landowner in his own right and as estate manager for his brother John, who had inherited Groton Manor, and performed legal services for local landowners. In 1592, he was appointed auditor of Trinity College and travelled regularly to Cambridge.

Over time, Winthrop acquired a theological library which he shared with clerical friends. He continued to correspond with John Still who became the Bishop of Bath and Wells. Winthrop died on 28 March 1623 at Groton. His son by Anne Browne, John, became a historically important figure - one of the founders of New England and the first Governor of Massachusetts - and Adam’s grandson, another John, was one of the founders of the Connecticut Colony. A little further information can be found from the DeLoria-Hurst family tree website, from Rootsweb, or the Miller-Anderson Histories.

Winthrop kept a diary which, because his son, John Winthrop, achieved such a high position in early American society, has proved of some historical importance. Indeed, extracts were published (by Tickner and Fields, Boston, 1864) in Life and Letters of John Winthrop by Robert C. Winthrop - which is freely available at Internet Archive - and in the so-called Winthrop Papers. Millersville University has used the diary to replicate Winthrop’s library. Further information about Winthrop’s diary can also be found in Francis Bremer’s book, John Winthrop - America’s Forgotten Founding Father, much of which can be read at Googlebooks.

Here is an extract from the opening pages of the published diary (in the Appendix of Life and Letters of John Winthrop).

‘Special matters & observations noted in the yere of our Lords God 1595: by me A. W.

This yere Corne was very scarce vntil haruest, notwithstanding yet there was muche wheate & rye brought into Inglande from by yonde the Seas, whereby the price of corne was abated.

Also al other kinde of vitaile was in the begynnynge of this yere sould at great prices.

On Whitsonday I had a great swarme of bees, and on Munday in Witsonweeke ther did come a swarme of bees flyeng ouer Castleynes heathe into Carters grounde. [There were many superstitions about bees in Suffolk County; and, among others, that bad luck was portended by a stray swarm of bees settling on one’s premises, unclaimed by their owner.]

The same day & tyme Mr. Gatcheroode, Mr. Walton, Mr. Th. Waldgraue, Mr. Clopton & my selfe were ther present about the bounding of the heathe.

On Thursday the 3. of July, Mr. Brampton Gurdon had a soonne borne to him: who was baptized on Sunday the 13 of July and named John. Sr Wm Waldegraue and old Mr. John Gurdon were godfathers: and the Lady Moore & olde Mris. Gurdon were godmoothers.

This yeare at ye Sommer assises, viz: 22 Julij 1595, diuers Justices of the Peace were put out of ye Comission by the Q. comandement [. . .]

This yere the viiith Day of July my brother Roger Alibaster, & my sister his wife wth their iij sones, George, John & Thomas, & Sara their daughter, tooke their iourny from Hadleigh to goe into Irelande.

The same day it Thundred, hailed & Rayned very sore.

Willm Alibaster their eldest soonne departed from my house towards Cambrige the ixth of July, malcontent.

This yere harvest began not wth vs vn till the xijth of August & contynued vntill the _ of September.

The 27 of August Mr. Hanam fell sicke & recouerd the iiijth of Sept. The same day my brother killed a brocke [badger] wth his hounds. [. . .]

The 3, 4 & 5 daies of October Sr Wm Waldegraue mustred all souldiors viz. 400, vppon a hill nere Sudbury.

The 8 day of October my wyfe rydde to her father at Pritlewell in Essex & returned the xxth.

The xth day of October Adam Seely retourned home, & the same day I Recd a lre from my L. of Bathe. [Dr John Still]

In the moneth of Octobre, Ano 1595, Sr Thomas Heneage died, Vir bonus & pius, & on the same day & monethe Philip, late Erle of Arundell died in the Tower of London.

The XXXth day of Octobre Richard Bronde of Boxford sherman [cloth worker] Departed out of this life, ano etatis 59.

The 7 of November the Erle of Hertford was comitted to the Tower.

The xiiijth of Decembre I receyved a lre from my brother Alibaster written from Tenby in Wales concernynge his ill successe in his Irisshe iourny.

The _ Day of January the butcher of Netherden woodde was cruelly murdered viz. his hed was cutt of & his body devided into iiij qrtrs & wrapt in a sheet & layd vpon his owne horse, as he came from Bury markett; & so brought home to his wyfe, who vppo the sight therof pntly died. [. . .]

The last of Aprill Sr J. Puckringe, L. keper of the great seale died of the deadde palsey.

The xth of May Grymolde of Nedginge did hange himselfe in his Barne.

The xvijth of May Adam Seely went privilie from my house & caried awaye xv he did steale from Richard Edwardes, pro quo facto dignus est capistro.

The xxviijth of May Mr. Pie of Colchester died suddenly.

The xjth of June Sr Wm Waldegraue trayned his whole band of footemen & horsemen on Babar heathe.

The 16 of June my brother Winthrop departed from my house towards Ireland, & my brother Alibaster went wth him.’

Friday, March 22, 2013

A laptop dancer

Happy 50th birthday Deborah Bull. One of Britain’s brightest arts talents, she started out as a dancer, achieving some fame, though progressed to be creative director at the Royal Opera House, and more generally an ambassador for dance. For a year she kept a diary - written for publication - during an extensive tour with The Royal Ballet. Pondering on her future, she writes in one entry about how, being too old for laptop dancing, she’s become a laptop dancer.

Deborah Bull was born in Derby on 22 March 1963, and brought up in Skegness, Kent. She learned dance locally from the age of seven, but on the recommendation of a teacher went to study at the Royal Ballet School. In 1980 she won the prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition. The following year she joined the Royal Ballet; and in 1992 she was appointed principal dancer.

In 1996, Bull took part in a debate about arts funding at the Oxford Union, and her performance as an eloquent and persuasive speaker was much praised. Thereafter, her dancing career was complemented by a more public life, as a speaker, writer and broadcaster. In 2002, she retired from the Royal Ballet, moving directly to become creative director for the Royal Opera House’s contemporary ballet division (ROH2). After much success in that role, she was appointed creative director of the Royal Opera House in 2008.

Bull left that position in 2012 to join King’s College London as executive director, King’s Cultural Institute. In this role, she says, she ‘provides leadership across the College to expand and enrich its cultural activites, partnership and collaborations’. Since 1998, when she was appointed to the Arts Council England board (serving until 2005), she has contributed widely to arts or arts-related organisations (including governor of the BBC, board member for South Bank Centre and Random Dance). Further biographical information is available from Wikipedia and The Guardian.

In 1998, Bull published her first book with Dorling Kindersley - The Vitality Plan - which was released in eight languages. Later the same year, Methuen published Dancing Away - A Covent Garden Diary - a personal journal kept by Bull during a world tour with the Royal Ballet (taking place while the Royal Opera House was being restructured). There is no introduction in the book, just a short epilogue at the end, which starts: ‘It’s just over a year since I started this diary, and what a year it has been. I have used up another passport, stamped with an itinerary which will have travel agents salivating at the thought of the commissions it earned. Touring in all its forms seems to have taken over my life; Royal Ballet tours, book tours, speaking tours, Rolls-Royce tours and always, in the background, Torje’s absence, on tour with the Rolling Stones. I can’t remember staying in one place for more than a few days.’

BBC Radio Four commissioned Bull to read extracts from the diary, and The Spectator reviewed it as ‘arguably the most amusing and fascinating dance book ever published’. Here are two extracts.

25 May 1997, Costa Mesa, California
‘Yesterday I set a new land speed record as the Bluebird in Sleeping Beauty. I do sometimes wonder what conductors are thinking of when they play around so much with the tempo. I don’t mind a bit of variety - spice of life and all that - but there comes a point when the choreography and the tempo can’t be reconciled, and the dancer, always at the mercy of the beat, is forced to compromise. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) this conductor wasn’t one of ours.

Today I also broke new ground when I was applauded in the middle of a 45-second solo. The American audiences are much more vociferous about their feelings, and today they let it be known that they liked my pas de chats on to pointe in the ‘Violente’ solo. It cheered me up no end as I wasn’t particularly looking forward to switching solos. I feel much more at home in my normal variation, ‘Coulante’, but then I have been doing it for about twelve years.’

23 March 1998
‘Another year older. I have just filled in a survey on the tube and noticed that I have moved one box further in the great pigeon hole of life. I can no longer tick the 25-34 age group. I’ve moved into the 35-44 bracket. Blimey. How did that happen? Last time I looked I was 21.

I have also realised with a jolt that table dancing is out of the question as an alternative career. Today I bought The Stage, whose arts news has been bang on this year, in an effort to find word about the implications for us of Gordon Brown’s budget. No luck, so I flicked through the employment pages instead. All the adverts seeking dancers (mostly for cruise liners and clubs) stipulate that applicants must be under the age of 35. I’ve missed my chance. I guess I’m more of a laptop dancer than a lap dancer, so it’s no great hardship. I suppose there’s always a career for me as a touch typist.

I’m on my way home from a meeting with Sir Richard Eyre; the name becomes flesh at last. He’s a strikingly good-looking man with such an air of weariness that I wanted to gather him up and take him home for a hot dinner. I was suprised to have been asked to contribute to the ongoing debate over the Opera House’s future which will form the basis of his report. But apparently various people had assured him that he really must hear what I had to say on the matter.’

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Poppies everwhere

Joseph Warren Stilwell, one of the US’s famous Second World War generals, was born 130 years ago today. He kept diaries for most his adult life, and although they have never, apparently, been published in print, the Hoover Institution has made them freely available on its website. They are dense, informally written in a quick staccato style, full of character and rich in detail of his busy army life.

Stilwell was born on 19 March 1883 in Palatka, Florida. His father, a doctor, brought him up with a disciplined regime, but he rebelled and became an unruly student. Eventually, he was entered in the US Military Academy at West Point, and, after graduating, returned to teach there. He married Winifred Smith in 1910 and they had five children. Having served in the Philippines, he worked with the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I, as an intelligence officer, and was later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He also earned the nickname ‘Vinegar Joe’ for being a harsh critique of his subordinates.

After the war, Stillwell studied the Chinese language, and served in Tientsin in the 1920s and Peking in the 1930s. Just prior to World War II, he was initially selected to plan and command the Allied invasion of North Africa, but instead was assigned to Chiang Kai-Shek to command Chinese armies in Burma. He arrived in time to see the collapse of the Allied defence, and the Japanese cut Burma off from all land and sea supply routes to China, so he personally led his staff to Assam, India, on foot.

Through the Second World War, Stillwell served as commanding general of all US forces in China, Burma and India. He was appointed commander of the US 10th Army in the Pacific in August 1945 and received the surrender of more than 100,000 Japanese troops in the Ryuku Islands; and then was Commanding General of the Sixth US Army near San Franciso until his death in 1946. Biographies of Stillwell can be found at Wikipedia and the Military Hall of Honor.

Stillwell kept a diary for all his adult life. After his death, the manuscripts were deposited, along with the rest of his papers, at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Stillwell’s World War II diaries were the first to made available online on the Hoover Institution website, and subsequently the rest of the diaries - 1900-1939, 1945-1946 - were also made freely available. The Stillwell family retains the copyright, and the online versions are security coded to disallow text copying. However, I’m sure the family won’t mind me reproducing one entry from his service in France in 1919 during World War I which gives an excellent flavour of his informal and staccato - but nevertheless highly engaging - style.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bertie in the Middle East

‘The anniversary of my Parents Wedding Day, what a sad day for poor Mama! We started at 10 A.M. sight seeing.’ This is Bertie, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII writing in a diary during the first few days of a trip to the Middle East. The journey had been organised by his mother, Queen Victoria, who had never much liked her son, and partly blamed him for her husband Albert’s death. The diary has just been made available online - with images of the handwritten pages and a transcribed text - as part of an exhibition of mid-19th century photographs taken by Francis Bedford on the tour. Although biographers have had access to other of Bertie’s diaries, they are said to be scrappy and laconic, and none - as far as I know - have ever been published.

Albert Edward (always known to his family as Bertie) was born in 1841 in London, the eldest son of Victoria and her prince consort, Albert. Apart from various other titles, he was created Prince of Wales when one month old. From around the age of seven he was subjected to a strict educational programme devised by Prince Albert. He attended both Oxford and Cambridge universities, and in 1860 undertook the first tour of North America by an heir to the British throne. The following year he was serving with the army in Ireland, where he had a liaison with an actress that caused a major scandal. Prince Albert visited his son to admonish him, and died two weeks later. Queen Victoria held her son partly responsible for the death of his father. She withdrew almost completely from public life, and thereafter denied Bertie any control over affairs of state, court and the royal family. Soon after Albert’s death, Bertie was sent on an extensive tour of the Middle East.

In 1863, Bertie married Alexandra, eldest daughter of Denmark’s Prince Christian (later king), and they had five children that survived to adulthood. They established themselves at Marlborough House in London and Sandringham House in Norfolk, and entertained on a lavish scale. Bertie, indeed, played a free-and-easy part in London life, and travelled abroad often. He had many affairs, some causing scandals, and was a familiar figure in the worlds of racing, sailing and gambling. When Victoria died in 1901, Edward succeeded to the throne as Edward VII, and he set about trying to restore some splendour to the monarchy, starting with an elaborate coronation in 1902

Edward VII - nicknamed ‘Uncle of Europe’ - was related to most other Continental royal families, a circumstance that led him to travel abroad often to help Britain’s foreign policy. He was the first British monarch to visit Russia. At home, he supported the government’s major military reforms, and he founded the Order of Merit to reward those who distinguished themselves in science, art or literature. In the last year of his life, King Edward was involved in a constitutional crisis brought about by the refusal of the Conservative majority in the Lords to pass the Liberal budget of 1909. He died in May 1910, before the situation could be resolved, and was succeeded by his son who became George V. There is no shortage of biographical information online, from the British Monarchy website, Wikipedia, the BBC, or from biography reviews at The Guardian or The New York Times.

Bertie was certainly a diarist, if only an occasional one. None of his journals have been published, but several biographers quote from, or mention, them. In describing his sources in The Importance of Being Edward - King in Waiting 1841-1901 (John Murray, 2000), Stanley Weintraub says: ‘King Edward’s diary survives at Windsor and is quoted by biographers and editors; however it is scrappy and usually laconic.’ Now, though, The Royal Collection Trust, established in 1993 by the Queen and chaired by Prince Charles, has made one of Bertie’s diaries, of a trip to the Middle East, freely available online. The online publication - which was given little publicity of its own - is part of a bigger event, an exhibition of early photographs from the Middle East: Cairo to Constantinople.

According to the organisers: ‘This exhibition documents the Prince of Wales’ journey through the work of Francis Bedford, the first photographer to travel on a royal tour. It explores the cultural and political significance Victorian Britain attached to the region, which was then as complex and contested as it remains today. The tour took the Prince to Egypt, Palestine and the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. He met rulers, politicians and other notable figures, and travelled in a manner unassociated with royalty - by horse and camping out in tents. On the royal party’s return to England, Francis Bedford’s work was displayed in what was described as “the most important photographic exhibition that has hitherto been placed before the public”.’

The following extracts are taken directly from the online exhibition.

10 February 1862
‘The anniversary of my Parents Wedding Day, what a sad day for poor Mama! We started at 10 A.M. sight seeing. We went first to the Palace which is a handsome building. The “Shönheits Gallerie” is well worth seeing, & the portraits are well painted, the pictures of Lady Ellenborough & Lady Milbanke (wh. are amongst them) are very good. The Ballroom is very handsome & so is the “Shlachten Saal.” The Queen was kind enough to receive me in her boudoir, wh. was very prettily arranged. She seems a very nice person, & must have been very pretty; I also made the acquaintance of her two sons, who seem nice, unaffected lads. We saw the two Theatres wh. adjoin the Palace, & a very pretty “Winter garten” with foreign plants & birds in it. From the Palace we visited the studios of Kaulbach, Pilaty [sic], Shraudolph [sic], Anschütz & Schwind. The two first are the two most celebrated painters. Kaulbach, showed us a beautiful fresco of the “Reformation” wh. he is painting & also a completed fresco of the “Battle of Salamis” wh. I admired immensely. Piloty, who painted the celebrated picture of Nero at the burning of Rome, which I saw last year at the Exhibition of pictures at Cologne, had not much in his studio, but the few things he had, we admired very much. We divided our day by lunching at 1.50. & Count Perponcher, who is now Prussian Minister at Munich, came to luncheon. After having eaten our fill, we proceeded in carriages to see the “Bavaria,” which is a monster female figure in bronze, cast out of the French guns wh. were taken in 1814 & 15. We went up inside the figure, & 7 of us could sit in the head, & 2 in the nose & eyes. From thence we visited the studio of Adam who paints animals, & very well too, we looked into Schwantaler’s [sic] studio were [sic] there were some good statues, but he was not at home. We then saw the Basilica, a very beautiful Church in Bysantine [sic] architecture, with a good deal of gold inside; it was built by King Louis of Bavaria (who has now abdicated) before going home we saw some excellent photographs, at a photographers called Albert. Mr. Bonar dined with us - & after dinner Louis, Keppel, Meade & I took a short walk. There was a very pretty ball going on at our Hotel, & Louis & I peeped into the room fr. a staircase, it seemed very gay & the ladies were well dressed & were decidedly pretty.’

21 May 1862
‘In the forenoon I wrote letters to England, wh. occupied all my time till luncheon. At 3 o’clock we rode to the Arsenal, with Sir H. Bulwer. The Capidan Pasha received us, & we had pipes & coffee. We then went into a Caique belonging to the Sultan wh. he has put at my disposal & we visited another part of the Arsenal, wh. is small but seems tolerably complete. We then took leave of the Capidan Pasha, got into our Caique & rode [sic] down the Golden Horn into the Bosphorus & went on board to see the Turkish ship that had met us at the Dardanelles. We remained a short time on board & then went ashore, not far off fr. the Sultan’s Palace, got on our horses again & rode back to the Embassy thro’ part of the town. In the evening [. . the] Sultan’s band played during dinner & very well.’

27 May 1862
‘At about 10.30. E. Leiningen Moore & I went to the Photographic Studio of M. Abdullah & were photographed (very successfully) “en carte de visite.” Abdullah, did took another photograph at the Embassy of a group of Sir H. & Lady Bulwer & all his staff, & myself & my suite. [. . .] At 4.30. we left the Embassy after having taken leave of Lady Bulwer. We then rode down to the landing place near Tophané Mosque, & were rowed about in our caiques passed past Seraglio Point; at a little after 6 we went on board the “Osborne” & took leave there of Sir H. Bulwer & all the Attachés &c. At 6.30. we wished Constantinople adieu, & steamed slowly down the Bosphorus leaving the beautiful town gradually in the distance, after having spent there a most agreeable week.’

9 June 1862
‘At Sea – A lovely day. A[t] 7. A.M. we had a bathe from the ship, in spite of one of the sailors telllin telling us that a shark of 10 feet long had been seen. In the middle of the day, we went through the “Passage de L’Ours” past the Island of Caprera, & saw Garibaldi’s house in the distance, & then passed thro’ the Straits of Bonnifacio.’

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Doomed to beggary

‘Could you see and hear what I have seen and heard during this Rural Ride, you would no longer say, that the House “works well.” Mrs. Canning and your children are dear to you; but, Sir, not more dear than are to them the wives and children of, perhaps, two hundred thousand men, who, by the Acts of this same House, see those wives and children doomed to beggary.’ This is William Cobbett, an early 19th century campaigning journalist, born 250 years ago today, whose diary offers some of the best early travel pieces about England - Rural Rides - as well as criticisms of government policy towards farmers and the need for parliamentary reform.

Cobbett was born in Farnham, Surrey, on 9 March 1763, the son of a tavern keeper. He was educated at home, and worked as a farm labourer until 1783 when he moved to London. There he took a position as a clerk for a year, before joining the army and seeing service in the British colony of New Brunswick. But, after making accusations of theft against some officers, he left the army, escaping to France, first, and then the United States, where he published pro-British pamphlets under the pseudonym of Peter Porcupine. Before leaving England, though, in early 1792, he had married Anne Reid, an English woman first met in New Brunswick.

Cobbett returned to Britain in 1800, where he applied himself to journalism. At first, he started a magazine called The Porcupine but then, having sold his interest in that, he launched Political Register, which was often critical of the government. In 1809, for example, he attacked the use of German troops to put down a mutiny in Ely, and subsequently was tried and convicted for sedition and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in Newgate Prison. When released he continued his popular campaigns, and, by reducing the price of Political Register, turned it into the main newspaper for the working class. In 1817, on rumours that he might be arrested again for sedition, Cobbett fled to the US. There he wrote a text on English grammar and, with the help of a friend in London, continued to publish Political Register. By the time he returned to England, in late 1819, he had lost all influence, and was poor, but still he remained politically active.

In 1821, Cobbett began a tour of Britain on horseback, which led to a series of articles in Political Register, later published as Rural Rides. His single greatest concern at this time was the distressed state of English farming, and the only solution, he argued, was for a radical reform of parliament, including universal manhood suffrage. He wrote in Political Register that his purpose in riding through England was to hear ‘what gentlemen, farmers, tradesmen, journeymen, labourers, women, girls, boys, and all have to say; reasoning with some, laughing with others, and observing all that passes’. In 1830, he was tried and acquitted of sedition. In 1832, he was elected to Parliament for Oldham, focusing his energies on attacking corruption in government and the 1834 Poor Law. He died in 1835. Further information is available from Wikipedia, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, or Peter Landry’s website.

Rural Rides, which is considered Cobbett’s most enduring work, is essentially a collection of diary entries written on journeys across England between 1821 and 1832. The 1853 version of Rural Rides, published by A. Cobbett, is available at Internet Archive, as are reprints published a century later with an introduction by the historian Asa Briggs. The much-issued two volume 1885 edition by Reeves and Turner is also available at Internet Archive. The Vision of Britain Through Time website has put chunks of Cobbett’s text into chapters with maps of the areas covered.

10 January 1822
‘Lewes is in a valley of the South Downs, this town is at eight miles distance, to the south-south-west or thereabouts. There is a great extent of rich meadows above and below Lewes. The town itself is a model of solidity and neatness. The buildings all substantial to the very outskirts; the pavements good and complete; the shops nice and clean; the people well-dressed; and, though last not least, the girls remarkably pretty, as, indeed, they are in most parts of Sussex; round faces, features small, little hands and wrists, plump arms, and bright eyes. The Sussex men, too, are remarkable for their good looks. A Mr. Baxter, a stationer at Lewes, showed me a farmer’s account book, which is a very complete thing of the kind. The inns are good at Lewes, the people civil and not servile, and the charges really (considering the taxes) far below what one could reasonably expect.

From Lewes to Brighton the road winds along between the hills of the South Downs, which, in this mild weather, are mostly beautifully green even at this season, with flocks of sheep feeding on them. Brighton itself lies in a valley cut across at one end by the sea, and its extension, or wen, has swelled up the sides of the hills and has run some distance up the valley. The first thing you see in approaching Brighton from Lewes, is a splendid horse-barrack on one side of the road, and a heap of low, shabby, nasty houses, irregularly built, on the other side. This is always the case where there is a barrack. How soon a reformed parliament would make both disappear!

Brighton is a very pleasant place. For a wen [a large overcrowded city] remarkably so. The Kremlin, the very name of which has so long been a subject of laughter all over the country, lies in the gorge of the valley, and amongst the old houses of the town. The grounds, which cannot, I think, exceed a couple or three acres, are surrounded by a wall neither lofty nor good-looking. Above this rise some trees, bad in sorts, stunted in growth, and dirty with smoke. As to the “palace” as the Brighton newspapers call it, the apartments appear to be all upon the ground floor; and, when you see the thing from a distance, you think you see a parcel of cradle-spits, of various dimensions, sticking up out of the mouths of so many enormous squat decanters. Take a square box, the sides of which are three feet and a half, and the height a foot and a half. Take a large Norfolk-turnip, cut off the green of the leaves, leave the stalks nine inches long, tie these round with a string three inches from the top, and put the turnip on the middle of the top of the box. Then take four turnips of half the size, treat them in the same way, and put them on the corners of the box. Then take a considerable number of bulbs of the crown-imperial, the narcissus, the hyacinth, the tulip, the crocus, and others; let the leaves of each have sprouted to about an inch, more or less according to the size of the bulb; put all these, pretty promiscuously, but pretty thickly, on the top of the box. Then stand off and look at your architecture. There! That’s “a Kremlin!” Only you must cut some church-looking windows in the sides of the box. As to what you ought to put into the box, that is a subject far above my cut.

Brighton is naturally a place of resort for expectants, and a shifty ugly-looking swarm is, of course, assembled here. Some of the fellows, who had endeavoured to disturb our harmony at the dinner at Lewes, were parading, amongst this swarm, on the cliff. You may always know them by their lank jaws, the stiffeners round their necks, their hidden or no shirts, their stays, their false shoulders, hips and haunches, their half-whiskers, and by their skins, colour of veal kidney-suet, warmed a little, and then powdered with dirty dust. These vermin excepted, the people at Brighton make a very fine figure. The trades-people are very nice in all their concerns. The houses are excellent, built chiefly with a blue or purple brick; and bow-windows appear to be the general taste. I can easily believe this to be a very healthy place: the open downs on the one side and the open sea on the other. No inlet, cove, or river; and, of course, no swamps. I have spent this evening very pleasantly in a company of reformers, who, though plain tradesmen and mechanics, know I am quite satisfied more about the questions that agitate the country than any equal number of lords.’

25 November 1822 [Some months earlier George Canning had been made Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons in the government led by Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool.]
‘In looking back into Hampshire, I see with pleasure the farmers bestirring themselves to get a County Meeting called. There were, I was told, nearly five hundred names to a Requisition, and those all of land-owners or occupiers. Precisely what they mean to petition for I do not know; but (and now I address myself to you, Mr. Canning,) if they do not petition for a reform of the Parliament, they will do worse than nothing. You, Sir, have often told us, that the HOUSE, however got together, “works well.” Now, as I said in 1817, just before I went to America to get out of the reach of our friend, the Old Doctor, and to use my long arm; as I said then, in a Letter addressed to Lord Grosvenor, so I say now, show me the inexpediency of reform, and I will hold my tongue. Show us, prove to us, that the House “works well,” and I, for my part, give the matter up. It is not the construction or the motions of a machine that I ever look at: all I look after is the effect. When, indeed, I find that the effect is deficient or evil, I look to the construction. And, as I now see, and have for many years seen, evil effect, I seek a remedy in an alteration in the machine. There is now nobody; no, not a single man, out of the regions of Whitehall, who will pretend, that the country can, without the risk of some great and terrible convulsion, go on, even for twelve months longer, unless there be a great change of some sort in the mode of managing the public affairs.

Could you see and hear what I have seen and heard during this Rural Ride, you would no longer say, that the House “works well.” Mrs. Canning and your children are dear to you; but, Sir, not more dear than are to them the wives and children of, perhaps, two hundred thousand men, who, by the Acts of this same House, see those wives and children doomed to beggary, and to beggary, too, never thought of, never regarded as more likely than a blowing up of the earth or a falling of the sun. It was reserved for this “working well” House to make the fire-sides of farmers scenes of gloom. These fire-sides, in which I have always so delighted, I now approach with pain. I was, not long ago sitting round the fire with as worthy and as industrious a man as all England contains. There was his son, about 19 years of age; two daughters from 15 to 18; and a little boy sitting on the father’s knee. I knew, but not from him, that there was a mortgage on his farm. I was anxious to induce him to sell without delay. With this view I, in an hypothetical and round-about way, approached his case and at last, I came to final consequences. The deep and deeper gloom on a countenance, once so cheerful, told me what was passing in his breast, when turning away my looks in order to seem not to perceive the effect of my words, I saw the eyes of his wife full of tears. She had made the application; and there were her children before her! And, am I to be banished for life if I express what I felt upon this occasion! And, does this House, then, “work well?” How many men, of the most industrious, the most upright, the most exemplary, upon the face of the earth, have been, by this one Act of this House, driven to despair, ending in madness or self-murder, or both! Nay, how many scores! And, yet, are we to be banished for life, if we endeavour to show, that this House does not “work well?” However, banish or banish not, these facts are notorious: the House made all the Loam which constitute the debt: the House contracted for the Dead Weight: the House put a stop to gold-payments in 1797: the Home unanimously passed Peel’s Bill. Here are all the causes of the ruin, the misery, the anguish, the despair, and the madness and self-murders. Here they are all. They have all been acts of this House; and yet, we are to be banished if we say, in words suitable to the subject, that this House does not “work well!” ’