Friday, November 28, 2014

Bright in the sun

Matsuo Bashō, the great Japanese master of haiku poetry, died 320 years ago today. In his late 30s, having grown tired of fame, he started on a series of journeys, by foot, through his country. While travelling, he wrote about his experiences in poetical form, and then edited and published his writings. The most famous of his books - which is sometimes referred to as a travel diary or journal - is Oku no Hosomichi, or The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Bashō was born in Ueno, in Iga Province, near Kyoto, in 1644, the son of a low-ranking samurai. He worked for a local lord who, like him, was interested in poetry. By 1664, Bashō’s poems were being published. When his master died, he abandoned his status as a serving warrior and moved to Edo (now Tokyo) where he became recognised as a master of haiku, and attracted many followers. Bashō reacted to his fame, and turned to Zen meditation for solace. He is known to have lived much of his life in a series of huts, and to have made several long journeys on foot. He died on 28 November 1694 according some web sources. For a little further information in English see Wikipedia, National Geographic, or The Poetry Foundation.

While on his travels, Bashō kept a kind of diary, usually in poem form, about his experiences, and then, on returning to Edo, he edited and published these writings. The most famous of these books, sometimes called travel diaries, is Oku no Hosomichi, or The Narrow Road to the Deep North (or Interior), written near the end of his life following his 1689-1691 trip to the northerly interior region known as Oku. More details on this work can be found at Wikipedia, along with some extracts.
 It was translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa and published by Penguin Classics in 1966 as The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (see Googlebooks or Amazon). The Narrow Road to the Deep North can be accessed freely online at this website.

Here is an extract from the introduction, and two extracts from the work itself (the latter being the last in the book).

‘In the imagination of the people at least, the North was largely an unexplored territory, and it represented for Bashō all the mystery there was in the universe. In other words, the Narrow Road to the Deep North was life itself for Bashō, and he travelled through it as anyone would travel through the short span of his life here - seeking a vision of eternity in the things that are, by their own very nature, destined to perish.’

‘On the first day of April, I climbed Mount Nikko to do homage to the holiest of the shrines upon it. This mountain used to be called Nikko. When the high priest Kukai built a temple upon it, however, he changed the name to Nikko, which means the bright beams of the sun. Kukai must have had the power to see a thousand years into the future, for the mountain is now the seat of the most sacred of all shrines, and its benevolent power prevails throughout the land, embracing the entire people, like the bright beams of the sun. To say more about the shrine would be to violate its holiness.
It was with awe
That I beheld
Fresh leaves, green leaves,
Bright in the sun.
[. . .]
After climbing two hundred yards or so from the shrine, I came to a waterfall, which came pouring out of a hollow in the ridge and tumbled down into the dark green pool below in a huge leap of several hundred feet. The rocks of the waterfall were so carved out that we could see it from behind, though hidden ourselves in a craggy cave. Hence its nickname, See-from-behind.
Silent while in a cave
I watched a waterfall
For the first of
The summer observances.’

‘September the sixth, however, I left for the Ise Shrine, though the fatigue of the long journey was still with me, for I wanted to see the dedication of a new shrine there. As I stepped into a boat, I wrote:
As firmly cemented clam-shells
Fall apart in autumn
So I must take to the road again
Farewell, my friends.’

Finally, it is worth noting that for some of the time during his trip through Oku, Bashō was accompanied by his disciple, Kawai Sora, who kept a conventional journal. According to Wikipedia, the presence of the diary had been known about in the past, but was re-discovered and published by Yasusaburo Yamamoto in 1943; and then, in 1978, it was designated an Important Cultural Properties of Japan. Unlike Bashō’s diary, Sora Nikki (Sora Diary) does not include emotional language, but focuses on dates and places, thus providing an essential companion for those studying Bashō life and works.

The Diary Junction

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Went to see P.M. (in bed)

‘Found P.M. had sent a rather silly telegram to Stalin. Cancelled it (or held it up) and rang up A. He agreed and I sent him down some modifications and additions.’ This is Alexander Cadogan - born 130 years ago today and one of the UK’s most outstanding civil servants of the 20th century - writing candidly in his diary about his day-to-day work, advising Prime Minister Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden (A) during the height of the Second World War.

Cadogan was born into an aristocratic family on 25 November 1884. He studied at Eton (under Arthur Benson - see also A C Benson’s inner life) and Balliol College, Oxford; and he began his working life as a civil servant in 1908. In 1912, he married Lady Theodosia Louisa Augusta Acheson, and they had four children. After being posted to Vienna in 1913, he was temporarily in charge of the British embassy when news of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (see also The Archduke’s travels) came in from the consul at Sarajevo. He returned to London a few weeks later, once Britain had declared war on Austria-Hungary.

For 20 years, Cadogan rose up the diplomatic ladder in the Foreign Office, heading a small, but influential, League of Nations section. Between 1933 and 1936, Cadogan was posted to Peking, where he established a good relationship with Chiang Kai-shek (see also Chiang Kai-shek’s diaries). Against his own inclination, he was obliged to enact a British policy towards China that was compromised by its need to stay friendly with Japan, a country that had growing military and political ambitions in China. In 1935, Cadogan’s legation was upgraded to an embassy, and he was promoted to ambassador. However, the following year, the foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, invited him back to London to become deputy under-secretary in the Foreign Office. By 1938 Cadogan had been made permanent under-secretary - the highest ranking civil servant in the Foreign Office.

Cadogan assumed an increasingly important role through the Second World War with both Winston Churchill and Eden relying on his advice and efficient administration. At one point, it was even rumoured he himself might be appointed foreign secretary. After the war, he was appointed the first Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, a position he retained until 1950. Subsequently, he served as chairman of the governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation until 1957. He died in 1968. Cadogan was widely respected for his ability, character, and experience, and he enjoyed much prestige in diplomatic circles, though never became a public figure as such. He was admitted to the Privy Council in 1946, and appointed to the Order of Merit in 1951. Further information is available from Wikipedia, the Cadogan Family Archive, or The Peerage.

Cadogan kept a regular diary from the beginning of 1933 to the last year of his life. It was first edited by David Dilks and published in 1971 by Cassell & Company as The Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan, OM, 1938-1945. The fact that Cadogan had kept a diary was known for a good 20 years prior to this: various authors - not least Winston Churchill - used a few extracts in their own publications. But only one author had seen the full manuscript before then - Sir Llewellyn Woodward who compiled the official history of British foreign policy in the Second World War.

There is every reason, Dilks says in his introduction, to believe that Sir Alec Cadogan’s diary reflects faithfully his official advice, although the language and style are different. It would be easy but most misleading, he continues, to conclude that the diary somehow represents the ‘real man’: ‘It reflects a part of him - the dry wit, quick grip of essentials, intense practicality and lack of illusions - but distorts other features; for whereas a reader of the Diary might imagine Cadogan to have lived in a fever of irritability, most people who saw him at work day by day believed him to personify calm, moderation and common sense.’

The diary was a place, David Dilks explains, where Cadogan could express himself without restraint, ‘a comforting outlet in a life of excessive burden and business’. He was only rarely reflective in the diary, not given to self-examination; and nor did he make any attempt to be literary: ‘a telegraphic style saved precious minutes’. Until 1947, when Cadogan began to type, each entry was handwritten, usually after dinner or when he had finished the evening’s boxes.

13 February 1942
‘German battle-cruisers eluded us and must be home by now. Another blow. Poor Winston must be in a state.’

15 February 1942
‘Winston broadcast at 9. Announced fall of Singapore. His broadcast not very good - rather apologetic and I think Parliament will take it as an attempt to appeal over their heads to the country - to avoid parliamentary criticism.’

28 February 1942
‘Found P.M. had sent a rather silly telegram to Stalin. Cancelled it (or held it up) and rang up A [Anthony Eden, Foreign Secretary]. He agreed and I sent him down some modifications and additions.’

3 March 1942
‘10.45 meeting with A. and others about this wretched message to Stalin. P.M. evidently reacted strongly last night against our alterations. I still say that it’s worse that nothing to send the P.M.’s original draft painting a black picture with a hint of blacker to come. But A. evidently thinks he can’t over-persuade P.M. . . . Department produced yet two more drafts of P.M. message as a result of our meeting this morning. I can do no more - I am confused by drafts: there are now at least five. If the P.M. accepts any it will be the one nearest to his original. Heard later from Ismay that A. had approved both the new drafts! I don’t know what that means, as they were quite different! Fact is P.M. is in a sour mood - ill, I think - and frightens anyone - including A. I quite sympathise with them!’

4 April 1944
‘Several of the more disreputable papers canvass my appointment as S. of S. - deprecating it. I most cordially agree with them! Jim Thomas tells me it’s been going all round the Lobbies, on the grounds that that is what P.M. wants - so that he should have complete control of F.A., I suppose! He may have toyed with the idea, but it’s a bad one.’

10 April 1944
‘Went to ‘Something for the Boys’ at the Coliseum. An American musical show, slick without being tuneful, well-drilled and quite uninteresting. There was one good tune. The rest was jazz, which all sounds alike to me - a pulsating noise, such as one hears when one has run upstairs too fast . . . Shall have an awful fortnight with the P.M. in charge [of the F.O.], complicated by Stettinius [US Under-Secretary of State], but hope to get through.’

17 July 1944
‘Not much doing in the morning. 4.45 talk with A. and others about Turkey. In view of Soviet (and U.S.) attitude, I think we must press them to declare war. But there are many considerations against. 5.30 Cabinet, which is becoming more and more rambling, disorderly and voluble. News not bad, but not v. good. What are we doing in Normandy - with 1,229,000 men and a mass of material (255,000 vehicles! Over a million tons of stores!) Maybe we have plan. There is no inkling of it. Cabinet agreed we must go for the Turks coming into war. I slipped away at 8.10! Cabinet having several other items to take. P.M. is evidently ageing, and the rambling talk is frightful. Whatever little the Cabinet settled would have been settled in 7 mins. under Neville Chamberlain.’

1 December 1944
‘Went to see P.M. (in bed) with Alexander, Lyttelton and Bevin, about Italian prisoners. P.M., who looked a bit ruffled, said ‘Excuse me receiving you like this, but this is the morning after the night before.’! He must have had a hell of a birthday party!’

24 February 1945
‘3.15 walked into Green Park. Spent about 5 mins watching a baseball match. It’s the silliest - and the dullest - game I’ve ever seen. I’d sooner play dominoes with mangold wurzels. Back at the F.O. about 4. Yellow crocuses well out, some purple in flower and a few white. Forsythia just showing yellow. Not too much work. Home at 7.’

The Diary Junction

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I pray increase my estate

Robert Woodford, a Northamptonshire lawyer, died all of 360 years ago today. He would surely have been forgotten had it not been for one of his diaries surviving down the centuries through the family, and then finding its way to an Oxford University archive. In print for the first time in 2012, its publisher makes some grand claims: it provides a ‘unique insight into the puritan psyche and way of life’; and it is ‘a fascinating source for the study of opposition to the Personal Rule of Charles I’.

Robert Woodford was born in 1606 in Northamptonshire, and educated at Brixworth School. He became a provincial lawyer, and married Hannah Haunch in 1635. They had many children, only a few of whom survived childhood. In 1636, he was elected steward of Northampton. He died on 15 November 1654. There is very little further biographical information available online about Woodford, except at Stephen Butt’s Woodforde Family website.

However, Woodford is remembered today because he kept a diary which was passed down through the family for centuries. In 1970, Oliver Heighes Woodforde donated it to New College, Oxford. The diary begins in August 1637 and ends in August 1641, and appears to be the sole survivor of several other, possibly four-year, diaries. It contains 588 pages with approximately 89,000 words. The Diary of Robert Woodford 1637-1641, edited by John Fielding (Camden Fifth Series, Volume 42), was published by Cambridge University Press for The Royal Historical Society in 2012. However, it’s a bit pricey at over £40!

Here is the publisher’s blurb: ‘Woodford’s diary, here published in full for the first time with an introduction, provides a unique insight into the puritan psyche and way of life. Woodford is remarkable for the consistency of his worldview, interpreting all experience through the spectacles of godly predestinarianism. His journal is a fascinating source for the study of opposition to the Personal Rule of Charles I and its importance in the formation of Civil War allegiance, demonstrating that the Popish Plot version of politics, held by parliamentary opposition leaders in the 1620s, had by the 1630s been adopted by provincial people from the lower classes. Woodford went further than some of his contemporaries in taking the view that, even before the outbreak of the Bishops’ Wars, government policies had discredited episcopacy and cast grave doubt on the king's religious soundness. Conversely, he regarded parliament as the seat of virtue and potential saviour of the nation.’

A note inside the diary states: ‘who ever finds this booke (if lost) I pray be sparinge in looking into it, & send it to Robte Woodford at Northampton.’

20 August 1637 [first entry]
‘I prayed alone and I and my deare wife prayed in private this morninge to beseech the Lord for his blessing uppon the sacrament of Baptisme to our poore child this that the inward grace might goe a longe with the outward signe &, and that the Lord would make it an Instrument of some service to him in his Church in time to come and a Comfort to us the parents and surely the Lord hath heard us in m[er]cye we prayed not to be hindred in our sanctifcacon of his Sabath this day & to order Conveniences &. Mr ffisher preached in the morninge, but my hart somewhat heavy Lord p[ar]don my dulnes.’

26 September 1637
‘I would give some present to new Mr Maior but want some money. Lord I pray thee increase my estate in thy due time for the Lords sake Amen.’

10 October 1637
‘my wives breasts sore still with chopping [cracks in skin]. I pray unto the Lord for cure in his time my Clyent Some came to me with this P[ro]vidence’

16 October 1637
‘I was with Mr Bullivant at the George & dranke some wormewood beare, & with Mr Rushworth I was very ill after I had supped oh Lord p[ar]don my fayling & make me very watchfull for the Lords sake Amen.’

7 June 1638
‘The small pox are much in London, but the sicknesse at a very Low ebbe blessed be god though they come hether from many p[ar]tes of the Country that are infected.’

8 June 1638
‘The towne very full of people. Mr Robins fayles to pay me money.’

9 June 1638
‘The Lord doth graciously carry me on through diffcultyes: he is with me in the fire & in the water blessed be his name.’

23 October 1638
‘my deare child is still very sick, but the Lord is able to recover her, I now pr[e]pare for my Journey into the Country to morrow, & prayed for my Comfortable arrival at North[amp]ton & for favor in the eyes of the Maior & Bayleifes there & for presrvacon from the devouringe pestilence’

According to the Woodforde family website: ‘Many members of the Woodforde family have written about their history, from Robert Woodforde in Leicestershire in the 15th Century to the owner of this website in the 21st Century, constituting over five hundred year's of literary work. [. . .] Almost every generation has left diaries. These include Robert Woodforde, the 17th Century puritan of Northamptonshire, his son Dr Samuel Woodforde the Divine and founder of the Royal Society, and of course the Revd James Woodforde [author of Diary of a Country Parson].

The Diary Junction

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Diary briefs

US Civil War diary decoded  - New York State Military Museum, Saratogian News

Joan River’s diaries for book? - Popcrush

Stephen Fry’s diaries for book - Contact Music

Three witnesses - WWII diaries - website, Aiken Standard

Diaries of an officer in the war of Yemen - Ahram online

WWI diaries of Rudolf Binding - The Guardian

First Anzac convoy from Albany - ABC News

Hans Fallada’s prison diary - Polity Press, Amazon

Hans Gál’s prison diary - Toccata Press, Amazon