Monday, May 25, 2015

Riddell and Lloyd George

George Allardice Riddell, the early 20th century press baron and key adviser to David Lloyd George during the First World War, was born 150 years ago today. He left behind several unremarkable books, but his diaries, by contrast, are interesting and considered by historians to contain rich and entertaining pickings, especially about Lloyd George.

Riddell was born in London, on 25 May 1865, the son of a photographer. He became a clerk in a solicitor’s office, and qualified as a solicitor in 1888. That same year, he married Grace Edith Williams, though they were divorced in 1900, and, thereafter, Riddell refused to acknowledge this first marriage. Soon after the divorce, he married his cousin Annie Molison Allardice.

Having acted as legal consultant to a consortium purchasing the ailing News of the World, he became interested in the media business, and began buying shares in the newspaper. By 1903, he was its managing director; and, in subsequent years, he acquired further publishing businesses, such as George Newnes Ltd and Country Life.

In 1909, Riddell was awarded a knighthood by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. This came about thanks to Riddell’s friendship with Lloyd George (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) and the acknowledgement by Asquith that News of the World support would be valuable to the Liberals. Riddell continued to make himself indispensable to Lloyd George, providing press gossip, holidays, a golfing partner, and carefully shrewd support in his newspaper. He also took on political tasks for his friend: in 1912, he drafted the memorandum that settled the miners’ strike; and, during the First World War, Riddell liaised between government and press. As Prime Minister, Lloyd George sent Riddell to represent the British press at the peace conferences.

Riddell was raised to the peerage as baronet in 1918, but not without a fight. At first, King George V rejected Riddell’s nomination because he had been the guilty party in a divorce action (the divorce having been made public by a rival publisher during a spat with Riddell). But Lloyd George continued to lobby on behalf of Riddell; and letters from other press barons finally won the king round - thus Riddell became the first divorced peer to enter the House of Lords.

After the Paris Peace Conference, a political rift developed between Lloyd George and Riddell, which would last the rest of their lives. Thereafeter, Riddell concentrated on his business interests, charitable activities (for hospitals and the printing industry - he founded the London School of Printing). He died in 1934. There is not much further information readily available online, other than at Wikipedia or the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (which requires a log-in).

Riddell wrote a few unmemorable books, but his diaries - he published three volumes before his death - are considered ‘a valuable guide to the politics of the period generally and to the career of Lloyd George in particular’. Indeed, the ODNB goes on to say that his detailed recording of conversations ‘has provided rich and entertaining pickings for historians’ - though not until recently. Riddell deposited 14 diary manuscripts (and 22 volumes he had typed from the originals) with the British Library under instructions that they were not to be opened until long after his death (50 years).

Thus, in the last years of his life, Riddell published: Lord Riddell's War Diary, 1914-1918 (Ivor Nicholson & Watson, 1933); Intimate Diary of the Peace Conference and after, 1918-1923 (Victor Gollancz, 1933); and More Pages from my Diary (Country Life, 1934). Following derestriction of the diary manuscripts, John M. McEwen edited them anew as The Riddell Diaries 1908-1923 (The Athlone Press, 1986). McEwen says, in his introduction, it was a huge task to compare the published versions with the originals and typescripts.

22 April 1915
‘Long talk with Kitchener, who said that LG’s alleged statement as to the number of troops in France was inaccurate and that what LG had really said was that the number of troops ‘overseas’ amounted to thirty-six divisions. I referred to the speech, in which the words were ‘over there’. K said, ‘Well, if he said that he was wrong, and the speech must be put right in Hansard.’ He asked Brade to see that this done.

K commented upon what he called ‘Newspaper embroidery’ and complained of the criticisms as to the inconsistencies between his statements and those of the PM as to the efficiency of our output of munitions of war. He asked my opinion. I replied that they seemed inconsistent and that this was the general opinion. K said, ‘The Times has been the most virulent critic, I am told, but I never read it.’ He asked me to look up the speeches, which I did subsequently, and wrote to him setting out the two passages. He said that Northcliffe was acting very badly and that it was difficult to know how to deal with him.’

25 December 1918
‘Played golf in the morning with LG and then with him to mid-day Xmas dinner, he carving the turkey in great style. After dinner sat and talked for some time and listened to the pianola. LG slept for three hours. . .

We talked of the elections . . . He said that next week he proposes to take a short holiday to consider the reconstruction of the Government. The difficulty is that there are so few men available. He is very doubtful about a Minister of Labour and a Minister of Agriculture. Addison is to do the Housing. He doubts Lord Lee at the Board of Agriculture. He thinks him too unpopular with the landlords. I said, ‘Of course you will find a place for Sir Robert Horne. He is a clever fellow.’

LG: Yes, I think I shall put him in the Cabinet. He is an able man . . .
R: Winston is a difficulty.
LG: Yes, a great difficulty.
R: How about the Colonies for him?
LG: There will be nothing doing in that department. It would be like condemning a man to be head of a mausoleum. He would just have to see that it was kept clean.
R: I don’t agree. The Colonies will offer many problems. The Office wants bucking up and it would be a splendid thing if the Minister were to make a tour of the Empire.
LG: Yes, I agree about that. The Colonial office might be a good place for Winston.
R: Will Beaverbrook be in the Ministry?
LG: No, I think not. His health is bad. He is clever, but absolutely without scruple of any sort. Not a very desirable sort of politician.
Mrs LG: It is a pity that the PM accepted any assistance from Beaverbrook and Rothermere at the election. I am sure he did not need it. I don’t trust them or like their ways. The PM does best when he goes his own way and keeps clear of all these wire-pullers and people who want nothing but to grind their own axe.’

1 October 1919
‘Strange happenings. For the first time in history the printers in the newspaper offices have objected to print matter of which they disapproved - to wit, attacks on the railway men. This caused consternation amongst proprietors and editors, who held their ground with considerable firmness . . . This movement is more important than it looks, and is capable of quaint developments. One novel feature of the strike is an advertising campaign in which both the Government and the men are stating their case. . .

There can be no doubt that LG was wrong in describing the strike as a Bolshevist movement, as he did in his published message. This has been the key-note of the Government campaign run by Sir William Sutherland and others on the usual party lines of misrepresentation and deception. Use the note that is like to please and convince. Truth and accuracy are immaterial.’

Saturday, May 23, 2015

I was rather incredulous

‘He explained his call to my astonishment that Beadle, Tatum, and I were to be the co-recipients of the Nobel prize in medicine this year. I was rather incredulous: he insisted the AP was quoting the rumors and he was quite sure it would be announced Thursday.’ This is part of Joshua Lederberg’s diary entry on the day he heard he had been awarded the Nobel Prize. Lederberg, who was born 90 years ago today, was an American scientist who pioneered work in bacterial genetics but who also advanced the influence of science and scientists in public policy development.

Lederberg was born 23 May 1925 in Montclair, New Jersey, the oldest of three sons. His father, a rabbi, and mother had emigrated from Palestine the year before. The family moved to Manhattan when Lederberg was still an infant. He attended Stuyvesant High School,  which specialised in science and technology, and went on to Columbia University, where he studied zoology. There he came under the influence of biochemist Francis J. Ryan, who nurtured his passion to ‘bring the power of chemical analysis to the secrets of life’. In 1943, he enrolled in the Navy’s V-12 training program, which combined an accelerated premedical and medical curriculum, and was able to work at the clinical pathology laboratory at St. Albans Naval Hospital, gaining first-hand experience with parasites.

Lederberg returned to Columbia, finished his degree, and began training as a medical student, also continuing research under Ryan. He was soon much inspired by Oswald Avery’s DNA discoveries, and took a leave of absence to work with Edward L. Tatum, at Yale, an expert in bacteriology and the genetics of micro-organisms. At Yale, he made significant discoveries, including a new understanding of how bacteria evolve and acquire new properties, such as antibiotic resistance.

Lederberg then began mapping the E. coli chromosome, to show the exact locations of its genes. With Tatum’s support, he submitted research on genetic recombination in bacteria as his doctoral thesis, receiving a PhD degree from Yale in 1947. A year earlier he married a fellow scientist, Esther M. Zimmer. Instead of returning to finish a medical degree, he accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin. There, he was soon making breakthroughs, discovering, with Norton Zinder, how genetic material could be transferred from one strain of the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium to another using viral material. In 1954, he was promoted to Professor.

Two years later, the Society of Illinois Bacteriologists simultaneously awarded Joshua Lederberg and Esther Lederberg the Pasteur Medal, for ’their outstanding contributions to the fields of microbiology and genetics’. And in 1958, Lederberg, shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with George Wells Beadle and Edward Lawrie Tatum. Lederberg’s prize was cited ‘for his discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organization of the genetic material of bacteria’; and his colleagues were cited for ‘their discovery that genes act by regulating definite chemical events’.

Just days before news of the Nobel Prize, Lederberg  accepted an offer to become the first chairman of the newly-established Department of Genetics at Stanford University’s School of Medicine where he continued to lead research in bacterial genetics. But his interests also widened, relating genetics to the wider context of human health and biology, winning a place for biologists within the burgeoning US space programme. Beyond biological research, he became involved in expanding the role of computers in scientific research, bringing science into matters of public policy, and advising government on such issues. From 1966 to 1971, he wrote a weekly column - Science and Man - for the Washington Post.

in 1966, Lederberg divorced his wife, with whom he had had no children; two years later he married psychiatrist Marguerite Stein Kirsch. They had one daughter. Lederberg became University Professor Emeritus at Rockefeller University in 1990. There, he resumed his own research, continued to advise government and to lecture widely about science issues as they relate to public policies, such as those concerned with bioterrorism and infectious diseases. He died in 2008, Further information is available online from Wikipedia, Nasa, DNA from the beginning, a New York Times obituary, or the National Library of Medicine’s Profiles in science website.

The National Library of Medicine holds an archive of Lederberg’s papers, some of which it has made freely available online. Among these files are images of, and extracts from, Lederberg’s diaries (which range from 1948 to 1963).

20 January 1945
‘I had the evening all to myself, and particularly the excruciating pleasure of reading Avery ’43 on the deoxyribose nucleic acid responsible for type transformation in Pneumococcus. Terrific and unlimited in its implications. Viruses are gene-type compounds, but they cannot grow on synthetic or even dead media, and their capacity for production is limited to reproduction. The TF of Pneumococcus has every characteristic of a mutation. The obvious questions still to be considered are the fraction of serum that is involved in the reaction system; the induction of mutation in the TF by use of x-ray and more controllable methods; the problems of its antigenic specificity and relations to the specific polysaccharide whose manufacture it regulates or initiates. Also the possibility of activity of TF in vitro or in killed systems must be investigated, although the presence of phosphatases and desoxyribonucleases present a difficult problem. I can see real cause for excitement in this stuff though.’

Lederberg wrote a note on the transcript of the following diary entry as follows: ‘I was not keeping a diary at those days but this particular event led me to make notes on it just at the time.’
26 October 1958
‘I was to work at the lab until about 12:30, then pick up Phyllis and Margaret for lunch and then see Phyllis off to her plane: --> Columbus->Denver->SFO->Sydney. At 11:30 + or - there was a call from a Mr. Lindquist of the “Tijding...” newspaper in Stockholm - the New York correspondent. He explained his call to my astonishment that Beadle, Tatum, and I were to be the co-recipients of the Nobel prize in medicine this year. I was rather incredulous: he insisted the AP was quoting the rumors and he was quite sure it would be announced Thursday. It’s no surprise, of course, that Beadle should be honored this way and it is a perceptive courtesy for Tatum but I am still quite astonished (as I was for the NAS last year) to be added on. I just had the impression that this kind of dignification in biology should go to the venerables and veterans and it is a bit of a shock to be classed that way. Of course in physics quite young men, e.g. Willis Lamb have been marked this way too. But I’m worried enough at keeping up a lab career that this kind of stigma has some dreadful connotations: I guess I just don’t believe in memorializing the live and kicking. On the whole I’m a little afraid the fuss and bother more than outweigh the egotistic satisfactions, the cash and the prestige factors that might help in getting my lab going. Perhaps I’m exaggerating the fuss; I was glad enough to be off the cover of Time, however! Anyhow I should have guessed sooner: several clues make some more sense now! - George Klein’s enigmatic correspondence (saying earlier he’d see me this year, then denying he was coming to the U.S.); Leo Goldberg’s request for a photograph; a telephone interview yesterday or Friday by Dag Nystadter reporter; George’s request for a bibliography last spring ( I suppose it did occur to me that George did have something of the sort in his mind then, but hardly this year.) Anyhow the trouble is it is by no means certain and there must be some possibility it is a mistake; I am rather nervously awaiting the AP bulletin to be picked up locally as I’m sure I’ll have no peace after that! I do feel as much as ever that the nonsense ought to be abolished but I don’t have the courage to meet it head on and I’m afraid it would raise even more fuss and perhaps affront Ed and Beadle in a rather nasty way. The best I can do is to be as inconspicuous about it as possible and make some reference to the obsolescence of personal distinction in scientific life.’

Friday, May 22, 2015

Insurrection in Paris

‘Firing is heard. The houses are in turmoil. Doors and casements open and shut violently. The women-servants chat and laugh at the windows. It is said that the insurrection has spread to the Porte Saint-Martin. I go out and follow the line of the boulevards. The weather is fine; there are crowds of promenaders in their Sunday dress. Drums beat to arms.’ This is the French literary giant, Victor Hugo, who died 160 years ago today, writing in his diary about the day a riot exploded on the streets of Paris in 1839.

Victor was the third son of Joseph-Léopold-Sigisbert Hugo, a major and, later, general in Napoleon’s army. As a child, he was constantly on the move as his father travelled with the imperial army, to Elba, for example, Naples or Madrid. His parents became increasingly estranged, his father loyal to successive governments and his mother a staunch royalist. Victor, often brought back to Paris by his mother, absorbed her royalist views. He was able to study for a while at the Pension Cordier and the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, after which he entered the law faculty in Paris.

Hugo’s mother died in 1821, and the following year he published his first book of poems, Odes et poésies diverses, some of which displayed royalist sentiments and won him a pension from Louis XVIII. The new income allowed him to marry his childhood sweetheart, Adèle Foucher, with whom he went on to have five children, although the first died in infancy.

By 1824, Hugo was already associated with a group of Romantics, Cénacle, which was moving against the domination of classical literature. And, as he published further collections of poems, so these seemed to reflect a growing dispassion for his youthful royalist sentiments. He emerged, biographies say, as a true Romantic with his verse dramas Cromwell, in 1927, and Hernani in 1930. Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) brought him much wider fame and influence, and made him rich. Further poems (some glorifying Napoleon) and plays followed. In the early 1830s, he began a liaison with a young actress, Juliette Drouet, who remained his secretary and discreet companion for the rest of his life.

Hugo’s literary achievement was recognised in 1841 by his election to the Académie française, but, after the death of his daughter Léopoldine and her husband by drowning in 1843, his creative energy seemed to fade in favour of political interest (a change that affected other Romantic figures who were becoming more concerned about social issues than beautiful art). He was nominated in 1845 to the upper house of the French parliament (Chamber of Peers) but this was disbanded following the Revolution of 1848 and the creation of the Second Republic.

After Napoleon III’s coup d’état against the Second Republic in 1851, Hugo went into exile, first in Brussels briefly, then in the Channel Islands, Jersey (1852–1855) and Guernsey from 1855. During this period, he finally published, in 1862, Les Misérables, a work which had taken more than a decade to write, but which would go on to become one of the most famous of French novels, and one of the greatest 19th century novels in any language.

Although Napoleon III proclaimed a general amnesty in 1859, and Hugo could have returned to France, he stayed in exile, only returning when Napoleon III was forced from power in 1870. He lived again in Guernsey from 1872 to 1873, before finally returning to France. His last years, with Juliette in Paris, were rather sad, partly because of illness and the loss of two sons. He died on 22 May 1855, and was given a hero’s funeral. Further information is available online at Wikipedia, Famous People, CliffsNotes, Notable Biographies, etc.

Excerpts from Hugo’s diaries were first issued along with other essays and random jottings in two series (1887 and 1900) in the original French under the title Choses vues, and soon translated into English as Things Seen. Further editions followed, including a fresh translation by David Kimber in a 1964 Oxford University Press edition. Some extracts from Things Seen can be found at Victor Hugo Central, but the full text of an English version, by The Colonial Press Co., can also be read at Internet Archive.

Joanna Richardson concludes her introduction to Oxford University Press’s edition as follows: ‘But perhaps Things Seen is best considered as a web into which Hugo has drawn ‘all the gilded and glittering flies’ [a quote from Hugo himself] of contemporary history. It is a far slighter work than the Goncourt Journal [see The Diary Review]; it lacks the Goncourts’ malice and wit, and it cannot for a moment compete with the Journal as a record of the social and intellectual scene. But for all its limitations, and whether or not it opens a window on to infinity, Things Seen remains one of the few examples in French literature of sporadic observations that are literary works in their own right. These random jottings have become a classic.’

The following is most of the text from one chapter in Things Seen, entitled Diary of a Passer-by During the Riot of Twelfth of May.

12 May 1839
‘At three o’clock I return to my study.

My little daughter, in a state of excitement, opens my door and says, “Papa, do you know what is going on? There is fighting at the Pont Saint-Michel.”

I do not believe a word of it. Fresh details. A cook in our house and a neighbouring wine-shop keeper have seen the occurrence. I ask the cook to come up. It is true; while passing along the Quai des Orfèvres he saw a throng of young men firing musket-shots at the Prefecture of Police. A bullet struck the parapet near him. From there the assailants ran to the Place du Châtelet and to the Hôtel de Ville, still firing. They set out from the Morgue, which the good fellow calls the Morne.

Poor young fools! In less than twenty-four hours a large number of those who set out from there will have returned there.

Firing is heard. The houses are in turmoil. Doors and casements open and shut violently. The women-servants chat and laugh at the windows. It is said that the insurrection has spread to the Porte Saint-Martin. I go out and follow the line of the boulevards. The weather is fine; there are crowds of promenaders in their Sunday dress. Drums beat to arms.

At the beginning of the Hue du Pont-aux-Choux are some groups of people looking in the direction of the Rue de l’Oseille. There are a great crowd and a great uproar close to an old fountain which can be seen from the boulevard, and which forms the angle of an open space in the old Rue du Temple. [. . .]

Upon the Boulevard du Temple the cafés are closing. The Cirque Olympique is also closing. The Gaîté holds out, and will give a performance.

The crowd of promenaders becomes greater at each step. Many women and children. Three drummers of the National Guard - old soldiers, with solemn mien - pass by, beating to arms. The fountain of the Château d’Eau suddenly throws up its grand holiday streams. At the back, in the low-lying street, the great railings and doorway of the Town Hall of the 5th Arrondissement are closed one inside the other. I notice in the door little loop-holes for muskets.

Nothing at the Porte Saint-Martin, but a large crowd peacefully moving about across regiments of infantry and cavalry stationed between the two gate-ways. The Porte Saint-Martin Theatre closes its box-office. The bills are being taken down, on which I see the words Marie Tudor. The omnibuses are running.

Throughout this journey I have not heard any firing, but the crowd and vehicles make a great noise.

I return to the Marais. In the old Rue du Temple the women, in a state of excitement, gossip at the doorways. Here are the details. The riot spread throughout the neighbourhood. Towards three o’clock two or three hundred young men, poorly armed, suddenly broke into the Town Hall of the 7th Arrondissement, disarmed the guard, and took the muskets. Thence they ran to the Hôtel de Ville and performed the same freak. As they entered the guard-room they gaily embraced the officer. When they had the Hôtel de Ville, what was to be done with it? They went away and left it. If they had France, would they be less embarrassed with it than they were with the Hôtel de Ville? There are among them many boys, fourteen or fifteen years old. Some do not know how to load their muskets; others cannot carry them. One of those who fired in the Rue de Paradis fell upon his hind-quarters after the shot. Two drummers killed at the head of their columns, are placed in the Royal Printing Establishment, of which the principal doorway is shut. At this moment barricades are being made in the Rue des Quatre Fils, at the corner of all the little Rues de Bretagne, de Poitou, de Touraine, and there are groups of persons listening. A grenadier of the National Guard passes by in uniform, his musket upon his back, looking about him with an uneasy look. It is seven o’clock; from my balcony in the Place Royale platoon-firing is heard.’

12 May 1839, 8 pm
‘I follow the boulevards as far as the Madeleine. They are covered with troops. National Guards march at the head of all the patrols. The Sunday promenaders intermingle with all this infantry, all this cavalry. At intervals a cordon of soldiers quietly empty the crowd from one side of the boulevard to the other. There is a performance at the Vaudeville.’

13 May 1839, 1 am
‘The boulevards are deserted. There remain only the regiments, who bivouac at short distances apart. Coming back, I passed through the little streets of the Marais. All is quiet and gloomy. The old Rue du Temple is as black as a furnace. The lanterns there have been smashed.

The Place Royale is a camp. There are four great fires before the Town Hall, round which the soldiers chat and laugh, seated upon their knapsacks. The flames carve a black silhouette of some, and cast a glow upon the faces of the others. The green, fresh leaves of the spring trees rustle merrily above the braziers.

I had a letter to post. I took some precautions in the matter, for everything looks suspicious in the eyes of these worthy National Guards. I recollect that at the period of the riots of April, 1834, I passed by a guard-house of the National Guard with a volume of the works of the Duke de Saint-Simon. I was pointed out as a Saint-Simonian, and narrowly escaped being murdered.

Just as I was going in-doors again, a squadron of hussars, held in reserve all day in the courtyard of the Town Hall, suddenly issued forth and filed past me at a gallop, going in the direction of the Rue Saint-Antoine. As I went upstairs I heard the horses’ foot-falls retreating in the distance.’

13 May 1839, 8 am
‘Several companies of the National Guard have come and joined the Line regiments encamped in the Place Royale.

A number of men in blouses walk about among the National Guard, observed and observing with an anxious look. An omnibus comes out upon the Rue du Pas-de-la-Mule. It is made to go back. Just now my floor-polisher, leaning upon his broom, said, “Whose side shall I be on?” He added a moment afterwards, “What a filthy government this is! I have thirty francs owing to me, and cannot get anything out of the people!”

The drums beat to arms.

I breakfast as I read the papers. M. Duflot arrives. He was yesterday at the Tuileries. It was at the Sunday reception: the king appeared fatigued, the queen was low-spirited. Then he went for a walk about Paris. He saw in the Rue du Grand-Hurleur a man who had been killed - a workman - stretched upon the ground in his Sunday clothing, his forehead pierced by a bullet. It was evening. By his side was a lighted candle. The dead man had rings on his fingers and his watch in his fob-pocket, from which issued a great bunch of trinkets.

Yesterday, at half-past three o’clock, at the first musket-shots, the king sent for Marshal Soult, and said to him, “Marshal, the waters become troubled. Some ministers must be fished up.”

An hour afterwards the marshal came to the king, and said, as he rubbed his hands, in his Southern accent, “This time, Sire, I think we shall manage the business.”

There is, in fact, a ministry this morning in the “Moniteur.” ’

13 May 1839, 12 midday
‘I go out. Firing can be heard in the Rue Saint-Louis. The men in blouses have been turned out of the Place Royale, and now only those persons who live there are allowed to enter the street The rioting is in the Rue Saint-Louis. It is feared that the insurgents will penetrate one by one to the Place Royale, and fire upon the troops from behind the pillars of the arcades.

Two hundred and twelve years, two months and two days ago to-day, Beuvron, Bussy d’Amboise, and Buquet, on the one hand, and Boutteville, Deschapelles, and Laberthe, on the other, fought to the death with swords and daggers, in broad daylight, at this same time and in this same Place Royale. [. . .]

The approaches to the Place Royale are deserted. The firing continues, very sustained, and very close at hand.

In the Rue Saint-Gilles, before the door of the house occupied in 1784 by the famous Countess Lamothe-Valois, of the Diamond Necklace affair, a Municipal Guard bars my passage.

I reach the Rue Saint-Louis by the Rue des Douze-Portes. The Rue Saint-Louis has a singular appearance. At one of the ends can be seen a company of soldiers, who block up the whole street and advance slowly, pointing their muskets. I am hemmed in by people running away in every direction. A young man has just been killed at the corner of the Rue des Douze-Portes.

It is impossible to go any farther. I return in the direction of the boulevard.

At the corner of the Rue du Harlay there is a cordon of National Guards. One of them, who wears the blue ribbon of July, stops me suddenly. “You cannot pass!” And then his voice suddenly became milder: “Really, I do not advise you to go that way, sir.” I raise my eyes; it is my floor-polisher.

I proceed farther.

I arrive in the Rue Saint-Claude. I have only gone forward a few steps when I see all the foot-passengers hurrying. A company of infantry has just appeared at the end of the street, near the church. Two old women, one of whom carries a mattress, utter exclamations of terror. I continue to make my way towards the soldiers, who bar the end of the street. Some young scamps in blouses are bolting in every direction near me. Suddenly the soldiers bring down their muskets and present them. I have only just time to jump behind a street-post, which protects, at all events, my legs. I am fired upon. No one falls in the streets. I make towards the soldiers, waving my hat, that they may not fire again. As I come close up to them they open their ranks for me, I pass, and not a word is exchanged between us.

The Rue Saint-Louis is deserted. It has the appearance which it presents at four o’clock in the morning in summer: shops shut, windows shut, no one about, broad daylight. In the Rue du Roi-Doré the neighbours chat at their doorways. Two horses, unharnessed from some cart, of which a barricade has been made, pass up the Rue Saint-Jean-Saint-François, followed by a bewildered carter. A large body of National Guards and troops of the Line appear to be in ambush at the end of the Rue Saint-Anastase. I make inquiries. About half an hour ago seven or eight young workmen came there, dragging muskets, which they hardly knew how to load. They were youths of fourteen or fifteen years of age. They silently prepared their arms in the midst of the people of the neighbourhood and the passers-by, who looked on as they did so, then they broke into a house where there were only an old woman and a little child. There they sustained a siege of a few moments. The firing in my direction was aimed at some of them who were running away up the Rue Saint-Claude.

All the shops are closed, except the wine-shop where the insurgents drank, and where the National Guard are drinking.’

13 May 1839, 3 pm
‘I have just explored the boulevards. They are covered with people and soldiers. Platoon-firing is heard in the Rue Saint-Martin. Before the windows of Fieschi I saw a lieutenant-general, in full uniform, pass by, surrounded by officers and followed by a squadron of very fine dragoons, sabre in hand. There is a sort of camp at the Chateau d’Eau; the actresses of the Ambigu are on the balcony of their greenroom, looking on. No theatre on the boulevards will give a performance this evening.

All signs of disorder have disappeared in the Rue Saint-Louis. The rioting is concentrated in the great central markets. A National Guard said to me just now, “There are in the barricades over there more than four thousand of them.” I said nothing in reply to the worthy fellow. In moments like this all eyes are overflowing vessels.

[. . .] A man has just been killed in the Rue de la Perle. In the Rue des Trois-Pavillons I see some little girls playing at battledore and shuttlecock. In the Rue de l’Echarpe there is a laundryman in a fright, who says he has seen cannon go by. He counted eight.’

13 May 1839, 8 pm
‘The Marais remains tolerably quiet. I am informed that there are cannon in the Place de la Bastille. I proceed there, but cannot make out anything; the twilight is too deep. Several regiments stand in silent readiness, infantry and cavalry. A crowd assembles at the sight of the wagons from which supplies are distributed to the men. The soldiers make ready to bivouac. The unloading of the wood for the night-fires is heard.’

13 May 1839, 12 midnight
‘Complete battalions go the rounds upon the boulevards. The bivouacs are lighted up in all directions, and throw reflections as of a conflagration on the fronts of the houses. A man dressed as a woman has just passed rapidly by me, with a white hat and a very thick black veil, which completely hides his face. As the church clocks were striking twelve, I distinctly heard, amid the silence of the city, two very long and sustained reports of platoon-firing.

I listen as a long file of carts, making a heavy iron clatter, pass in the direction of the Rue du Temple. Are these cannon?’

14 May 1839, 9 am
‘I return home. I notice from a distance that the great bivouac fire lighted at the corner of the Rue Saint-Louis and the Rue de l’Echarpe has disappeared. As I approach I see a man stooping before the fountain and holding something under the water of the spout. I look. The man looks uneasy. I see that he is extinguishing at the fountain some half-burned logs of wood; then he loads them upon his shoulders and makes off. They are the last brands which the soldiers have left on the pavement on quitting their bivouacs. In fact, there is nothing left now but a few heaps of red ashes. The soldiers have returned to their barracks. The riot is at an end. It will at least have served to give warmth to a poor wretch in winter-time.’

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Young Boswell in London

‘It is very curious to think that I have now been in London several weeks without ever enjoying the delightful sex, although I am surrounded with numbers of free-hearted ladies of all kinds.’ This is a young James Boswell - who died 220 years ago today - having just arrived in the capital city writing rather candidly in his diary. Indeed, he kept diaries for most of his life. Two of his travel diaries - one about Corsica and another, with Samuel Johnson, about the Hebrides - were published in his lifetime, and very much helped develop his literary career, which was to culminate with a biography of Johnson. However, most of Boswell’s diaries - including his so-called London Journal - were considered lost for more than a hundred years, and not published until the second half of the 20th century.

Boswell was born in Edinburgh in 1740 into a strict family, his father, Lord Auchinleck, being a lawyer and eventually a senior judge, and his mother a Calvinist. He studied at Edinburgh and Glasgow universities before escaping to London, where he discovered much about society, women, and himself. When his father arrived to fetch him back, he was suffering with gonorrhoea, the first of many bouts he was to contract in his life.

Having come of age, Boswell returned to London in 1762 determined to secure a commission in the foot guards. There he fell in with Andrew Erskine, an army officer, and George Dempster, a young, wealthy, and newly-elected MP from Scotland. Among many others, he met Oliver Goldsmith and the radical politician John Wilkes. Towards the end of his sojourn in the capital, he became firm friends with Samuel Johnson, 30 years his senior. They would meet and spend significant amounts of time together until the end of Johnson’s life in 1784.

Having given up the idea of an army commission, Boswell moved to Utrecht in 1763 to continue studying law, but then embarked on a Grand Tour around Europe. On his way he became more friendly with Wilkes, exiled in Italy, and he met Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who persuaded him of Corsica’s right to liberty from Genoa. This idea underpinned his first successful book - published in 1768 - that gave an account of his experiences on the island, and of his friendship with the independence leader Pasquale Paoli: An Account of Corsica, The Journal of a Tour to That Island, and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli.

Boswell moved back to Edinburgh, where he completed his law studies, and where he went on to practise as an advocate for the best part of two decades. He married his cousin, Margaret Montgomerie, with whom he had two sons and three daughters who survived into adulthood. He also had at least two extramarital children. A couple of years after inheriting the Auchinleck title on the death of his father in 1782, Boswell moved his family to London. He was called to the English bar from the Inner Temple, but rarely practised, preferring to concentrate on his writing.

For several years after the first book on Corsica, Boswell’s only published writings were essays in a periodical called London Journal, under the title The Hypochondriack. However, a year after Johnson’s death, he edited a diary he had kept of a tour he took with Johnson in the Highlands and Western islands of Scotland. Johnson, himself, had already published an account of that tour - Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland - ten years earlier. Whereas Johnson’s writing was generalised and philosophical, Boswell’s diary - The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides - proved to be more entertaining, both anecdotal and gossipy, as well as rich in observant detail.

The Journal of a Tour was a commercial success, foreshadowing Boswell’s future, and now famous, biography - The Life of Samuel Johnson - first published by Charles Dilly in 1791. Gordon Turnbull’s entry for Boswell in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says The Life ‘remains the most famous biography in any language, one of Western literature’s most germinal achievements: unprecedented in its time in its depth of research and its extensive use of private correspondence and recorded conversation, it sought to dramatize its subject in his authorial greatness and formidable social presence, and at the same time treat him with a profound sympathy and inhabit his inner life.’ (Many editions of this are freely available online at Internet Archive.)

Boswell’s last years are known to have been rather unhappy ones. His wife died in 1789, and though his children loved him dearly, he was unsatisfied with his achievements. He drank excessively and continued to indulge in other vices. Moreover, his eccentricities became increasingly self-indulgent making him a difficult guest. He lived to see a second edition of The Life of Samuel Johnson in 1793, but died on 19 May 1795. Further information is readily available at Wikipedia, NNDB, or Thomas Frandzen’s Boswell website.

Both Boswell’s early published diaries - The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides and An Account of Corsica - can be found online at Internet Archive. It was not until the 20th century that any more diaries came to light. After Boswell’s death, his executors, and then his heirs, considered it prudent to keep his papers secret (because they contained intimate details). They were then kept in the archives at the Auchinleck estate for many years, until they passed from one great grand-daughter to another who, having married Lord Talbot de Malahide, lived at Malahide Castle, north of Dublin. There, in the 1920s, a large stash of Boswell’s private papers was discovered, including diaries. They were bought by the American collector Ralph H. Isham, and are now mostly archived at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The story of how Isham acquired Boswell’s papers and how they were brought to publication is the subject of more than one book.

Boswell’s London Journal, 1762-1763 - the first of many Boswell publications by Yale - was edited by the Boswell scholar, Frederick A. Pottle, and came out in 1950. The publishers (Yale in the US and Heinemann in the UK) did not hold back in their admiration: ‘The Boswell Papers are the largest and most important find of English literary manuscripts ever made;’ and, ‘The incredible fact about Boswell’s London Journal is that it is an entirely new book.’ This is the most famous and popular of Boswell’s published journals. Perhaps because it is the only one that survived expurgation by family members - and is a racy read. Boswell’s comings and goings as a young man (he was only 22) in London are interesting enough, but it is the way he examines his own psyche, and records the dilemmas he finds there, particularly those of a sexual nature, that makes this book so extraordinary for its time. Indeed, this constant self-examination by Boswell of Boswell feels very modern.

Here are several extracts from Boswell’s London Journal.

26 November 1762
‘I was much difficulted about lodgings. A variety I am sure I saw, I dare say fifty. I was amused in this way. At last I fixed in Downing Street, Westminster. I took a lodging up two pair of stairs with the use of a handsome parlour all the forenoon, for which I agreed to pay forty guineas a year [later bargained down to £22], but I took it for a fortnight first, by way of a trial. I also made bargain that I should dine with the family whenever I pleased, at a shilling a time. [. . .] The street was a genteel street, within a few steps of the Parade; near the House of Commons, and very healthful.’

14 December 1762
‘It is very curious to think that I have now been in London several weeks without ever enjoying the delightful sex, although I am surrounded with numbers of free-hearted ladies of all kinds: from the splendid Madam at fifty guineas a night, down to the civil nymph with white-thread stockings who tramps along the Strand and will resign her engaging person to your honour for a pint of wine and a shilling. Manifold are the reasons for this my present wonderful continence. I am upon a plan of economy, and therefore cannot be at the expense of first-rate dames. I have suffered severely from loathsome distemper, and therefore shudder at the thoughts of running any risk of having it again. Besides, the surgeons’ fees in this city come very high. But the greatest reason of all is that fortune, or rather benignant Venus, has smiled upon me and favoured me so far that I have had the most delicious intrigues with women of beauty, sentiment, and spirit, perfectly suited to my romantic genius.’

15 December 1762
‘The enemies of the people of England who would have them considered in the worst light represent them as selfish, beef-eaters, and cruel. In this view I resolved today to be a true-born Old Englishman. I went into the City to Dolly’s Steak-house in Paternoster Row and swallowed my dinner by myself to fulfill [sic] the charge of selfishness; I had a large fat beefsteak to fulfil the charge of beef-eating; and I went at five o’clock to the Royal Cockpit in St James’s Park and saw cock-fighting for about five hours to fulfill [sic] the charge of cruelty.

A beefsteak-house is a most excellent place to dine at. You come in there to a warm, comfortable, large room, where a number of people are sitting at table. You take whatever place you find empty; call for what you like, which you get well and cleverly dressed. You may either chat or not as you like. Nobody minds you, and you pay very reasonably. My dinner (beef, bread and beer and waiter) was only a shilling. The waiters make a great deal of money by these pennies. Indeed, I admire the English for attending to small sums, as many smalls make a great, according to the proverb.

At five I filled my pockets with gingerbread and apples (quite the method), put on my old clothes and laced hat, laid by my watch, purse and pocket-book, and with oaken stick in my hand sallied to the pit. I was too soon there. So I went into a low inn, sat down amongst a parcel of arrant blackguards, and drank some beer. [. . .] I then went to the cockpit, which is a circular room in the middle of which the cocks fight. It is seated round with rows gradually rising. The pit and the seats are all covered with mat. The cocks, nicely cut and dressed and armed with silver heels, are set down and fight with amazing bitterness and resolution. Some of them were quickly dispatched. One pair fought three-quarters of an hour. The uproar and noise of betting is prodigious. A great deal of money made a quick circulation from hand to hand. There was a number of professed gamblers there. An old cunning dog whose face I had seen at Newmarket sat by me a while. I told him I knew nothing of the matter. “Sir,” said he, “you have as good a chance as anybody.” [. . .] I was shocked to see the distraction and anxiety of the betters. I was sorry for the poor cocks. I looked around to see if any of the spectators pitied them when mangled and torn in a most cruel manner, but I could not observe the smallest relenting sign in any countenance. I was therefore not ill pleased to see them endure mental torment. Thus did I complete my true English day, and came home pretty much fatigued and pretty much confounded at the strange turn of this people.’

17 December 1762
‘I mentioned to Sheridan [Thomas Sheridan, actor, and father of Richard Brinsley Sheridan] how difficult it was to be acquainted with people of fashion in London: that they have a reserve and a forbidding shyness to strangers. He accounted for it thus: “The strangers that come here are idle and unemployed; they don’t know what to do, and they are anxious to get acquaintances. Whereas the genteel people, who have lived long in town, have got acquaintances enough; their time is all filled up. And till they find a man particularly worth knowing, they are very backward. But when you once get their friendship, you have them firm to you.” ’

19 January 1763
‘This was a day eagerly expected by [George] Dempster [a young and wealthy, newly-elected MP from Scotland], [Andrew] Erskine [a lieutenant], and I, as it was fixed as the period of our gratifying a whim proposed by me: which was that on the first day of the new tragedy called Elvira’s being acted, we three should walk from the one end of London to the other, dine at Dolly’s, and be in the theatre at night; and as the play would probably be bad, and as Mr David Malloch, the author, who has changed his name to David Mallet, Esq. was an arrant puppy, we determined to exert ourselves in damning it.

I this morning felt the stronger symptoms of the sad distemper, yet I was unwilling to imagine such a thing. However, the severe exercise of today, joined with hearty eating and drinking, I was sure would confirm or remove my suspicions.

We walked up to Hyde Park Corner, from whence we set out at ten. Our spirits were high with the notion of the adventure, and the variety that we met with as we went is amazing. As the Spectator observes, one end of London is like a different country from the other in look and in manners. We eat an excellent breakfast at the Somerset Coffee-house. We turned down Gracechurch Street and went up on the top of London Bridge, from whence we viewed with a pleasing horror the rude and terrible appearance of the river, partly froze up, partly covered with enormous shoals of floating ice which often crashed against each other. [. . .] We went half a mile beyond the turnpike at Whitechapel, which completed our course, and went into a little public house and drank some warm white wine with aromatic spices, pepper and cinnamon. We were pleased with the neat houses upon the road. [. . .] We had some port, and drank damnation to the play and eternal remorse to the author. We then went to the Bedford Coffee-house and had coffee and tea; and just as the doors opened at four o’clock, we sallied into the house, planted ourselves in the middle of the pit, and with oaken cudgels in our hands and shrill-sounding catcalls in our pockets, sat ready prepared, with a generous resentment in our breasts against dullness and impudence, to be the swift ministers of vengeance. [. . .] [The three of them went on to write a highly critical pamphlet about Elvira.]

The evening was passed most cheerfully. When I got home, though, then came sorrow. Too, too plain was Signor Gonorrhoea.’

25 March 1763
‘As I was coming home this night, I felt carnal inclinations raging through my frame. I determined to gratify them. I went to St James’s Park, and, like Sir John Brute [a character from John Vanbrugh’s The Provoked Wife], picked up a whore. For the first time did I engage in armour, which I found but a dull satisfaction. She who submitted to my lusty embraces was a young Shropshire girl, only seventeen, very well-looked, her name Elizabeth Parker. Poor thing, she has a sad time of it!’

3 May 1763
‘I walked up to the Tower in order see Mr Wilkes come out. [Wilkes, a radical journalist and MP, who had been arrested on a general warrant that soon proved inadequate to keep him in prison]. But he was gone. I then thought I should see prisoners of one kind or another, so went to Newgate. I stepped into a sort of court before the cells. They are surely most dismal places. There are three rows of ‘em, four in a row, all above each other. They have double iron windows, and within these, strong iron rails; and in these dark mansions are the unhappy criminals confined. I did not go in, but stood in the court, where were a number of strange blackguard beings with sad countenances, most of them being friends and acquaintances of those under sentence of death. [. . .]

Erskine and I dined at the renowned Donaldon’s, where we were heartily entertained. All this afternoon I felt myself still more melancholy, Newgate being upon my mind like a black cloud.’

4 May 1763
‘My curiosity to see the melancholy spectacle of the executions was so strong that I could not resist it, although I was sensible that I would suffer much from it. In my younger years I had read in the Lives of the Convicts so much about Tyburn that I had a sort of horrid eagerness to be there. [. . .] I got upon a scaffold very near the fatal tree, so that [I] could clearly see all the dismal scene. There was a most prodigious crowd of spectators. I was most terribly shocked, and thrown into a very deep melancholy.’

19 July 1763
‘At eleven I went to St Paul’s Church; walked up to the whispering gallery, which is a most curious thing. I had here the mortification to observe the noble paintings in the ceiling of the Cupola area a good deal damaged by the moisture of winter, I then went up to the roof of the Cupola, and went out upon the leads, and walked around it. I went up to the highest storey of roof. Here I had the immense prospect of London and its environs. London gave me no great idea. I just saw a prodigious group of tiled roofs and narrow lanes opening here and there, for the streets and beauty of the buildings cannot be observed on account of the distance. The Thames and the country around, the beautiful hills of Hampstead and of Highgate looked very fine. And yet I did not feel the same enthusiasm that I have felt some time ago at viewing these rich prospects.’

30 July 1763
‘Mr [Samuel] Johnson and I took a boat and sailed down the silver Thames. I asked him if a knowledge of the Greek and Roman languages was necessary. He said, “By all means; for they who know them have a very great advantage over those who do not. Nay, it is surprising what a difference it makes upon people in the intercourse of life which does not appear to be much connected with it.’

“And yet,” said I “people will go through the world very well and do their business very well without them.”

“Why,” said he, “that may be true where they could not possibly be of any use; for instance, this boy rows us as well without literature as if he could sing the song which Orpheus sung to the Argonauts, who were the first sailors in the world.” He then said to the boy, “What would you give, Sir, to know about the Argonauts?”

“Sir,” he said, “I would give what I have.” The reply pleased Mr Johnson much, and we gave him a double fare.

“Sir,” he said, “a desire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind; and every man who is not debauched would give all that he has to get knowledge.”

We landed at the Old Swan and walked to Billingsgate, where we took oars and moved smoothly along the river. We were entertained with the immense number and variety of ships that were lying at anchor. It was a pleasant day, and when we got clear out into the country, we were charmed with the beautiful fields on each side of the river. [. . .]

When we got to Greenwich, I felt great pleasure in being at the place which Mr Johnson celebrates in his London: a Poem. I had the poem in my pocket, and read the passage on the banks of the Thames, and literally “kissed the consecrated earth.” ’

4 August 1763
‘This is now my last day in London before I set out upon my travels, and makes a very important period in my journal. Let me recollect my life since this journal began. Has it not passed like a dream? Yes, but I have been attaining a knowledge of the world. I came to town to go into the Guards. How different is my scheme now! I am upon a less pleasurable but a more rational and lasting plan. Let me pursue it with steadiness and I may be a man of dignity. My mind is strangely agitated. I am happy to think of going upon my travels and seeing the diversity of foreign parts; and yet my feeble mind shrinks somewhat at the idea of leaving Britain in so very short a time from the moment in which I now make this remark. How strange must I feel myself in foreign parts. My mind too is gloomy and dejected at the thoughts of leaving London, where I am so comfortably situated and where I have enjoyed most happiness. However, I shall be the happier for being abroad, as long as I live. Let me be manly. Let me commit myself to the care of my merciful creator.’

The Diary Junction

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Weeds don’t spoil

‘My [90th] birthday. [. . .] It is unusual, I believe, for persons of this age to retain possession of their faculties, or so much of them as I do. The Germans have an uncomplimentary saying : “Weeds don’t spoil” ’. This is Henry Crabb Robinson, one of the most interesting and entertaining of 19th century diarists, who was born 240 years ago today. He trained as a lawyer, but an inheritance left him wealthy enough to pursue a life of cultured leisure. He was a great theatre-goer, knew a lot of literary types - was on very good terms with Wordsworth, for example, with whom he travelled often - and was one of the first to recognise William’s Blake’s genius.

Robinson was born in Bury St Edmunds on 13 May 1775, the son of a tanner. He attended private schools, and was articled to a lawyer in Colchester when 15, and subsequently to another in London. In 1796, he was left an inheritance which allowed him to travel to the Continent frequently. Between 1800 and 1805 he studied in Germany, meeting, among others, Goethe and Schiller. He operated as a war correspondent for The Times for a short while during the Peninsular War, and, on his return to London, finished his legal training and was called to the bar.

Through an old friend, Catherine, who had married the writer and abolitionist Thomas Clarkson, Robinson was introduced into London literary society; and, in time, his own breakfast parties became famous. After retiring in 1828, he continued to take part in public affairs and to travel often. In 1828 he was one of the founding members of London University; and, in 1837, he revisited Italy on a tour with the poet William Wordsworth. He never married, but lived to an old age, dying in 1867. Further biographical information is available from Wikipedia, The Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies, the UCL Bloomsbury Project, or Peter Landry’s Bluepete website. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has a good short biography (but requires a login).

Robinson left behind a large amount of papers including the following: brief journals covering the period to 1810, a much fuller home diary (begun in 1811, and continued to within five days of his death - 35 volumes), and a collection of 30 tour journals. The papers were edited by Thomas Sadler and published by Macmillan in 1869 in three volumes as Diary, Reminiscences and Correspondence of Henry Crabb Robinson. And it is thanks largely to these volumes that Robsinson is remembered today, for his diaries are full of important detail about the central figures of the English romantic movement, not only Wordsworth, but Coleridge, Charles Lamb, and William Blake. Of the latter, he was an early admirer, writing in his diary: ‘Shall I call Blake artist, genius, mystic or madman? Probably he is all’. Moreover, his diaries are also prized for their information about the London theatre in the first half of the 19th century (see the Society for Theatre Research’s 1966 volume: The London theatre 1811-1866: Selections from the diary of Henry Crabb Robinson.)

All three volumes of Diary, Reminiscences and Correspondence can be read at Internet Archive (Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3). Here are a few extracts.

7 December 1831
‘Brighton. Accompanied [John James] Masquerier [a British painter] to a concert, which afforded me really a great pleasure. I heard Paganini [Niccolò Paganini, an Italian musician and composer]. Having scarcely any sensibility to music, I could not expect great enjoyment from any music, however fine; and, after all, I felt more surprise at the performance than enjoyment. The professional men, I understand, universally think more highly of Paganini than the public do. He is really an object of wonder. His appearance announces something extraordinary. His figure and face amount to caricature. He is a tall slim figure, with limbs which remind one of a spider; his face very thin, his forehead broad, his eyes grey and piercing, with bushy eyebrows; his nose thin and long, his cheeks hollow, and his chin sharp and narrow. His face forms a sort of triangle. His hands the oddest imaginable, fingers of enormous length, and thumbs bending backwards.

It is, perhaps, in a great measure from the length of finger and thumb that his fiddle is also a sort of lute. He came forward and played, from notes, his own compositions. Of the music, as such, I know nothing. The sounds were wonderful. He produced high notes very faint, which resembled the chirruping of birds, and then in an instant, with a startling change, rich and melodious notes, approaching those of the bass viol. It was difficult to believe that this great variety of sounds proceeded from one instrument. The effect was heightened by his extravagant gesticulation and whimsical attitudes. He sometimes played with his fingers, as on a harp, and sometimes struck the cords with his bow, as if it were a drum-stick, sometimes sticking his elbow into his chest, and sometimes flourishing his bow. Oftentimes the sounds were sharp, like those of musical glasses, and only now and then really delicious to my vulgar ear, which is gratified merely by the flute and other melodious instruments, and has little sense of harmony.’

9 June 1833
‘Liverpool. At twelve I got upon an omnibus, and was driven up a steep hill to the place where the steam-carriages start. We travelled in the second class of carriages. There were five carriages linked together, in each of which were placed open seats for the traveller, four and four facing each other; but not all were full; and, besides, there was a close carriage, and also a machine for luggage. The fare was four shillings for the thirty-one miles. Everything went on so rapidly, that I had scarcely the power of observation. The road begins at an excavation through rock, and is to a certain extent insulated from the adjacent country. It is occasionally placed on bridges, and frequently intersected by ordinary roads. Not quite a perfect level is preserved. On setting off there is a slight jolt, arising from the chain catching each carriage, but, once in motion, we proceeded as smoothly as possible. For a minute or two the pace is gentle, and is constantly varying. The machine produces little smoke or steam. First in order is the tall chimney; then the boiler, a barrel-like vessel; then an oblong reservoir of water; then a vehicle for coals; and then comes, of a length infinitely extendible, the train of carriages. If all the seats had been filled, our train would have carried about 150 passengers; but a gentleman assured me at Chester that he went with a thousand persons to Newton fair. There must have been two engines then. I have heard since that two thousand persons and more went to and from the fair that day. But two thousand only, at three shillings each way, would have produced £600! But, after all, the expense is so great, that it is considered uncertain whether the establishment will ultimately remunerate the proprietors. Yet I have heard that it already yields the shareholders a dividend of nine per cent. And Bills have passed for making railroads between London and Birmingham, and Birmingham and Liverpool. What a change will it produce in the intercourse! One conveyance will take between 100 and 200 passengers, and the journey will be made in a forenoon! Of the rapidity of the journey I had better experience on my return; but I may say now, that, stoppages included, it may certainly be made at the rate of twenty miles an hour!

I should have observed before that the most remarkable movements of the journey are those in which trains pass one another. The rapidity is such that there is no recognizing the features of a traveller. On several occasions, the noise of the passing engine was like the whizzing of a rocket. Guards are stationed in the road, holding flags, to give notice to the drivers when to stop. Near Newton, I noticed an inscription recording the memorable death of Huskisson.’

26 December 1836
‘Brighton. This was a remarkable day. So much snow fell, that not a coach either set out for or arrived from London - an incident almost unheard of in this place. Parties were put off and engagements broken without complaint. The Masqueriers, with whom I am staying, expected friends to dinner, but they could not come. Nevertheless, we had here Mr Edmonds, the worthy Scotch schoolmaster, Mr and Mrs Dill, and a Miss Robinson; and, with the assistance of whist, the afternoon went off comfortably enough. Of course, during a part of the day, I was occupied in reading.’

28 December 1836
‘The papers to-day are full of the snow-storm. The ordinary mails were stopped in every part of the country.’

3 May 1850
‘I read early a speech by [Frederick William] Robertson [a charismatic preacher] to the Brighton Working Class Association, in which infidelity of a very dangerous kind had sprung up. His speech shows great practical ability. He managed a difficult subject very ably, but it will not be satisfactory either to the orthodox or the ultra-liberal.

I went to Mr Cookson, who is one of the executors of Mr Wordsworth, and with whom I had an interesting conversation about Wordsworth’s arrangements for the publication of his poems. He has commissioned Dr Christopher Wordsworth to write his Life, a brief Memoir merely illustrative of his poems. And in a paper given to the Doctor, he wrote that his sons, son-in-law, his dear friend Miss Fenwick, Mr Carter, and Mr Robinson, who had travelled with him, “would gladly contribute their aid by communicating any facts within their knowledge.” ’

18 February 1851
‘At Masquerier’s, Brighton. We had calls soon after breakfast. The one to be mentioned was that of [Michael] Faraday, one of the most remarkable men of the day, the very greatest of our discoverers in chemistry, a perfect lecturer in the unaffected simplicity and intelligent clearness of his statement; so that the learned are instructed and the ignorant charmed. His personal character is admirable. When he was young, poor, and altogether unknown, Masquerier was kind to him; and now that he is a great man he does not forget his old friend.’

29 November 1852
‘I went to Robertson’s, and had two hours of interesting chat with him on his position here in the pulpit; also about Lady Byron. He speaks of her as the noblest woman he ever knew.’

17 August 1853
‘Dr King wrote to me, informing me of the death of Robertson, of Brighton. Take him for all in all, the best preacher I ever saw in a pulpit; that is, uniting the greatest number of excellences, originality, piety, freedom of thought, and warmth of love. His style colloquial and very scriptural. He combined light of the intellect with warmth of the affections in a pre-eminent degree.’

13 September 1853
‘Brighton. Dr King called, and in the evening I called by desire on Lady Byron - a call which I enjoyed, and which may have consequences. Recollecting her history, as the widow of the most famous, though not the greatest, poet of England in our day, I felt an interest in going to her; and that interest was greatly heightened when I left her. From all I have heard of her, I consider her one of the best women of the day. Her means and her good will both great. “She lives to do good,” says Dr. King, and I believe this to be true. She wanted my opinion as to the mode of doing justice to Robertson’s memory. She spoke of him as having a better head on matters of business than any one else she ever knew. She said, “I have consulted lawyers on matters of difficulty, but Robertson seemed better able to give me advice. He unravelled everything and explained everything at once as no one else did.” ’

13 May 1865
‘My birthday. To-day I complete my ninetieth year. When people hear of my age, they affect to doubt my veracity, and call me a wonder. It is unusual, I believe, for persons of this age to retain possession of their faculties, or so much of them as I do. The Germans have an uncomplimentary saying : “Weeds don’t spoil.” ’

The Diary Junction

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tears instead of ink

Sir John Oglander, an aristocrat and politician associated with the Isle of White, died all of 430 years ago today. He is as much remembered for his diaries as he is for the relatively minor administrative and political appointments he held, not least because, having started as account books, they became more personal over time. For example on the death of his beloved son, George, he wrote: ‘With my tears instead of ink I write these last lines.’

Oglander was born at Nunwell, on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight, on 12 May 1585. He was schooled at Winchester, and entered Balliol College, Oxford, for three years but left without a degree. Thereafter, he entered the Middle Temple, though was not called to the bar. He married Frances, the youngest daughter of Sir George More of Losely, and sister to the wife of the poet John Donne. They had four sons and three daughters.

After residing for a while in Winchester with his father, Oglander moved to take up residence at the old family home in Nunwell, aiming to live a life, he wrote, of ‘ardent and unbroken devotion to the public service’. Little is known of that life, however, until around 1620 (though he was knighted in 1615 by James I). From 1620 to 1624, he acted as deputy governor of Portsmouth, before selling the position and returning to the Isle of Wight to be deputy governor there instead.

In 1625, Oglander was elected to Parliament as member for Yarmouth. He held other appointments, such as High Sheriff of Hampshire in the late 1630s. With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, Oglander - a true Royalist - found himself imprisoned, firstly for a short time, and then for three years. Later, he helped Charles I while on the Isle of Wight, but, as the king became confined at Carisbrooke Castle so it became dangerous for his friends, such as Oglander, to continue their support for him. Oglander was arrested one more time, in 1651, but was released within weeks. He died in 1655, a man broken by the war, his estate having been diminished and having lost his wife and a son. Further biographical information can be found at Wikipedia, the History of Parliament website, or The Gentry.

For much of his life Oglander kept ‘Bookes of Accoumpts’ in which he wrote down his business affairs. However, over time they became more diary-like with entries of a personal nature. The diaries are considered valuable, particularly with regard to the history of the Isle of the White. Indeed, during Oglander’s lifetime he copied out some parts for use by his friend Sir Richard Worsley, who was then compiling what would be published in 1781 as The History of the Isle of Wight. Later, in 1888, the notebooks were also used by W. H. Long for his book The Oglander Memoirs.

It was not until 1936, however, that Oglander’s diary was published in its own right as A Royalist’s Notebook - The Commonplace Book of Sir John Oglander Kt of Nunwell, transcribed and edited by Francis Bamford (Constable, 1936). Cecil Faber Aspinall-Oglander says in his introduction: ‘The numerous tattered volumes of faded manuscripts from which this book has been compiled have lain for three hundred years in the house where Sir John Oglander wrote them in the days of James I and Charles I, their slumber only disturbed by the reverent fingers of his descendants in search of information. And here indeed their slumber might have continued had it not been for Mr. Bamford asking my wife’s permission to look through the Nunwell papers in search of local colour for a historical novel on which he was then engaged.’

Bamford’s book divides Oglander’s writings into various chapters, viz: His observations 1622-1639; His observations 1642-1652; His neighbours; His rules for husbandry; Some of his recipes; Some of his accounts; His advice to his descendants. Here are a few samples from the first chapter (the language has been modernised by Bamford).

‘The 20th February, 1626, I put into the pond by Whitefield House 200 young carp.’

‘May the 30th, 1627. On Wednesday in the afternoon on Granger, captain of a small man-of-war belonging to Mr. James of Portsmouth, being on the south side of the Island, spied a fleet of Hollanders of 22 sail, whereof Sir Lawrence Reoll was Admiral. He presently took them for Spaniards and came into the Island, sent intelligence to Sir Edward Dennys that he had espied a fleet of Spaniards at sea, the copy of which letter is in my box. Whereupon Sir Edward sent the very letter to Portsmouth, whither when it came, a Wednesday by 4 of the clock, the town rose all in arms and apprehended as much fear as if an enemy had been at the gates. Higham, Master Gunner, hasted away post with this intelligence to my Lord Steward, which came to the Council and my Lord Duke’s knowledge by 2 the same night. He presently commanded down all the colonels to their charges: hither came Brett and Spry by Friday morning. The Duke himself posted to the Downs, vowing he would not stay but would fight them with those ships that were then ready.’

‘King Charles came into our Island the 20th of June 1627, being Wednesday. He came ashore at Ryde, where only myself was to attend him: he was landed by 9 in the morning, sooner than the gentlemen expected. We had notice of it but the night before, yet I took such order of it that my coach was there, and some 40 horses. I waited on him from Ryde to Arreton Down and was his guide. On the Down, he saw Sir Alexander Brett’s regiment train, which was the motive that brought him over. I had the honour to kiss His Majesty’s hand, being presented unto him by the Lord Chamberlain, and at his going away again, which was about 3: all the gentlemen with myself had the like honour. [. . .]

His Majesty neither ate nor drank in our Island. On our complaint unto him, he promised we should have Sandham Castle repaired (which I showed afar off unto him, together with the consequences thereof), a fort of St Helens, munitions for our country, and 10 or 20 ships of his to be still resident in Portsmouth Harbour. So much, and so happy we, if performed.’

‘On the 8th of December, 1631, my shepherd’s wife, Good Greenwood, going to my windmill with a gust coming from thence, she went so near to the vanes of the mill that one of them took her in the head and beat out her brains. She was a very good woman and had been nurse to my son William, and dry nurse to most of my other children.’

‘Here is set down the most sorrowful story that was ever written by the hand of a distressed father. On the 21st of July, 1632, being at Newport [. . .] the Mayor, Sir Richard Dillington and Sir Edward Dennys came unto me and told me of a flying report, brought by a bark off Weymouth lately come from Caen, that my eldest son George, that was then at Caen, was very sick - if not dead.

Let those judge, who have had a hopeful young son aged 22 years, well brought up and learned in all the arts, dutiful, wise, sober, discreet and given to no vice, but tall, handsome, judicious and understanding - yea, far above the capacity of his young years, what a case I was in and how deeply stricken, insomuch as I had much ado to get home.

With my tears instead of ink I write these last lines. O George, my beloved George, is dead and with him most of my terrestrial comforts, although I acknowledge I have good and dutiful sons left. He died of the smallpox at Caen in Normandy, the 11th of July, 1632. Only with my tears and a foul pen was this written.’

The Diary Junction

Friday, May 1, 2015

We can conquer the world

‘Beginning with Lublin, the Jews in the General Government [Poland] are now being evacuated eastward. The procedure is a pretty barbaric one and not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews. On the whole it can be said that about 60 per cent of them will have to be liquidated whereas only about 40 per cent can be used for forced labor.’ This is Joseph Goebbels writing in his diary in 1942, not long after the Nazis had formulated their Final Solution policy. Goebbels committed suicide 70 years ago today, the day after Hitler and his wife (see He loves me so much); but, unlike Hitler, Goebbels went to some lengths to preserve an historical record of his life - 75,000 pages of his diaries.

Goebbels was born in 1897 into a Catholic family at Rheydt, an industrial town in the Ruhr district. From early childhood he suffered a deformation in his right leg and wore a brace and special shoe, which left him with a limp. At the start of World War I he volunteered for military service, but was rejected. He studied at universities in Bonn, Berlin and Heidelberg (where he was awarded a PhD), and then worked as a journalist, and tried to write novels and plays.

Goebbels joined the Nazi party in 1924, and became allied with Gregor Strasser, Nazi organiser in northern Germany. He came to the attention of Hitler, who gave him a private audience in April 1926, and then appointed him a party leader for the region of Berlin. He soon discovered his talent for propaganda, writing tracts such as The Second Revolution and Lenin or Hitler, and launching the Nazi newspaper Der Angriff (The Attack). In 1928, he was elected to the Reichstag (one of only 10 Nazis), and the following year he became the Nazi party propaganda chief. In 1931, he marred Magda Ritschel, and they would have six children. However, Goebbels was an inveterate womaniser, and was known to have had many affairs.

Goebbels played a key role in successive election campaigns, and was instrumental in seeing Hitler elected leader in 1933. Goebbels, himself, was made minister for propaganda and national enlightenment, a position he then held until his death. He worked assiduously to centralise and control all aspects of German and cultural life, not only the press, but the media, the performing arts, literature, etc, purging them of Jews, socialists, homosexuals and liberals. At the same time, he ensured a development of high culture, such as Wagner’s operas, and plenty of light entertainment for the masses. Once war began in September 1939, his influence over domestic policy strengthened, and, increasingly, with Hitler appearing in public less, he became the face and the voice of the Nazi regime. As a dedicated anti-Semite, Goebbels was strongly linked to the Nazi Final Solution policy, and, especially, the deportation of Jews from Berlin.

In the final stages of the war, Hitler, before killing himself, appointed Goebbels Chancellor of Germany, but it was empty gesture, since a day later - on 1 May - Goebbels and his wife killed themselves, having already murdered their six children. Further biographical information on Goebbels can be freely obtained online at Wikipedia, the Jewish Virtual Library, or from the pages of Doctor Goebbels: His Life and Death by Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel available at Googlebooks.

Goebbels began to keep a diary in 1923, shortly before his 27th birthday, while unemployed. Most of his early entries were about a young woman with whom he was having a turbulent relationship (and whom, in fact, had given him the diary). According to biographers, the diary quickly became a kind of therapy for the troubled young man. Apparently, these early diary entries show little interest in politics, and there is no mention of Hitler or the Nazi movement until the following year. i.e. after Goebbels first met Hitler in July 1925.

In 1934, the year after Hitler had become Chancellor and appointed Goebbels a minister, Goebbels published an edited version of his diaries for propaganda purposes: Vom Kaiserhof zur Reichskanzlei. Eine historische Darstellung in Tagebuchblättern (From the Kaiserhof to the Reich Chancellery: A Historical Account from the Pages of a Diary). This was translated into English in 1938 and published by Hurst and Blackett as My Part in Germany’s Fight.

Wikipedia has a full entry on Goebbels’ diaries, and their history. Goebbels filled 20 hand-written volumes until 1941, and then - fully aware of their historical value - had them stored in underground vaults at the Reichsbank in Berlin. Thereafter, he dictated his entries to a stenographer, who typed up corrected versions. In 1944, he ordered all his diaries to be copied for safekeeping, and a special darkroom was created at his apartment for the diaries to be transferred to microfilm, a recent invention. The boxes of glass plates containing the microfilmed diaries were buried at Potsdam; and the original handwritten/ typed diaries were stored in the Reich Chancellery. Goebbels made his last entry on 10 April 1945.

Some of the original diaries survived the aftermath of the war - a complicated story involving ex-President Herbert Hoover and Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent Louis P. Lochner. (For more on this see Andrew Hamilton’s excellent article in Counter-Currents Publishing). These diaries were edited and translated by Lochner and first published in English in 1948 by Doubleday (New York) and Hamish Hamilton (London) in 1948 as The Goebbels Diaries, 1942-1943. Hamilton notes: ‘An instant bestseller upon its release, the book was serialized in newspapers and magazines and became a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. The Hoover faction and Doubleday, however, were forced to surrender most of their profits to the Office of Alien Property and destroy 30,000 copies of the book still in stock. The original sheaf of 7,000 transcribed pages was, however, deposited at the Hoover Library at Stanford, where it remains today.’

Further extracts appeared in print over the years. In 1962, came The Early Goebbels Diaries: the journals of Joseph Goebbels from 1923-1926 (edited by Helmut Heiber, translated by Oliver Watson, published by Praeger, New York; Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London). In 1978, came The Goebbels Diaries: the last days as edited Hugh Trevor-Roper (one of the central characters in the Hitler diary debacle - see Dacre’s non-fake diaries) and translated by Richard Barry (published by Putnam, New York; Secker and Warburg, London).

Controversy surrounded the publication in 1982 of The Goebbels Diaries: 1939–1941, as translated and edited by Fred Taylor (Hamish Hamilton, 1982; Putnam, New York). According to New York Magazine, the diary material was bought ‘from an unidentified German source in a shadowy deal in London’, and, ‘while no one is claiming the book is a forgery its story is one of publishing practices that seem, at the very least, sloppy and misleading to readers.’ The article goes on to explain how the diary pages may well have been doctored in an effort to tailor history from a Russian perspective.

Meanwhile, the 1,600 glass plates of microfilm buried at Potsdam had been discovered by the Soviets and shipped to Moscow, where they sat unopened for decades - until discovered by a German historian, Elke Fröhlich, in 1992. Then, over 15 years (1993-2008), Fröhlich and others edited the entire collection on behalf of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, with the support of the National Archives Service of Russia. They were published in a definitive edition of 29 volumes (each one about 500 pages) by K. G. Saur Verlag as Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, Teil I Aufzeichnungen 1923-1941. It has been estimated that despite the various English editions of the Goebbels diaries, only about 10% of the total, now published in German, has actually appeared in English.

A few extracts in English from Goebbels’ diaries can be found online. Most of the following are taken from PBS’s website The Man Behind Hitler, but a couple (those from 1942) are taken from The Nizkor Project website (which has filtered out only those entries concerned with the fate of the Jews.)

4 July 1924
‘We need a firm hand in Germany. Let’s put an end to all the experiments and empty words, and start getting down to serious work. Throw out the Jews, who refuse to become real Germans. Give them a good beating too. Germany is yearning for an individual, a man - as the earth yearns for rain in the summer.’

17 July 1924
‘I’m so despondent about everything. Everything I try goes totally wrong. There’s no escape from this hole here. I feel drained. So far, I still haven’t found a real purpose in life. Sometimes, I’m afraid to get out of bed in the morning. There’s nothing to get up for.’

13 April 1926
‘. . . I learned that Hitler had phoned. He wanted to welcome us, and in fifteen minutes he was there. Tall, healthy and vigorous. I like him. He puts us to shame with his kindness. We met. We asked questions. He gave brilliant replies. I love him. . . I can accept this firebrand as my leader. I bow to his superiority, I acknowledge his political genius!’

16 June 1926
‘Hitler is still the same dear comrade. You can’t help liking him as a person. And he has a stupendous mind. As a speaker he has constructed a wonderful harmony of gesture, facial expression and spoken word. The born motivator! With him, we can conquer the world. Give him his head, and he will shake the corrupt Republic to its foundations.’

26 October 1928
‘I have no friends and no wife. I seem to be going through a major spiritual crisis. I still have the same old problems with my foot, which gives me incessant pain and discomfort. And then there are the rumours, to the effect that I am homosexual. Agitators are trying to break up our movement, and I’m constantly tied up in minor squabbles. It’s enough to make you weep!’

15 September 1930
‘I am shaking with excitement. The first election results. Fantastic. Jubilation everywhere, an incredible success. It’s stunning. The bourgeois parties have been smashed. So far we have 103 seats. That’s a tenfold increase. I would never have expected it. The mood of enthusiasm reminds me of 1914, when war broke out. Things will get pretty hot in the months ahead. The Communists did well, but we are the second-largest party.’

31 January 1933
‘We’ve made it. We’ve set up shop in Wilhelmstrasse. Hitler is chancellor. It’s like a fairy tale come true! He deserved it. Wonderful euphoria. People were going mad below. . . A new beginning! An explosion of popular energy. Bigger and bigger crowds. I spoke on the radio, to every German station. “We are immensely happy,” I said.’

11 May 1933
‘Worked until late at home. In the evening, I gave a speech outside the opera house, in front of the bonfire while the filthy, trashy books were being burned by the students. I was at the top of my form. Huge crowds. Superb summer weather began today.’

20 June 1936
‘Yesterday: Schwanenwerder. We were waiting for Max Schmeling’s fight with Joe Louis. We were on tenterhooks the whole evening with Schmeling’s wife. We told each other stories, laughed and cheered. . . In round twelve, Schmeling knocked out the Negro. Fantastic, a dramatic, thrilling fight. Schmeling fought for Germany and won. The white man prevailed over the black, and the white man was German. I didn’t get to bed until five.’

23 October 1940
‘Churchill has issued an appeal to the people of France: impudent, offensive and bristling with hypocrisy. A revolting, fat beast. I drafted a speech with a sharp, withering response. If we don’t answer them, the English will continue to draw strength from their illusions.’

10 December 1940
‘Yesterday: A glorious day in Berlin. We are two hours late. Very heavy air raid on London. Some 600,000 kilograms. Entire districts of the city engulfed in flames. Only one aircraft lost. A really fine show. London is playing things down, but the American reports are strong and vivid. Nice to hear. The previous day they were talking about a decline in our offensive capability.’

24 June 1941
‘Sixteen hundred feet of newsreel from the start of our Russian campaign. Some of our new weapons are shown - huge monstrosities that smash to pieces everything in their way. The divine judgement of history is being passed on the Soviet Union.’

27 March 1942
‘Beginning with Lublin, the Jews in the General Government [Poland] are now being evacuated eastward. The procedure is a pretty barbaric one and not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews. On the whole it can be said that about 60 per cent of them will have to be liquidated whereas only about 40 per cent can be used for forced labor. The former Gauleiter of Vienna, who is to carry this measure through, is doing it with considerable circumspection and according to a method that does not attract too much attention. A judgment is being visited upon the Jews that, while barbaric, is fully deserved by them. The prophesy which the Fuehrer made about them for having brought on a new world war is beginning to come true in a most terrible manner. One must not be sentimental in these matters. If we did not fight the Jews, they would destroy us. It’s a life-and-death struggle between the Aryan race and the Jewish bacillus. No other government and no other regime would have the strength for such a global solution of this question. Here, too, the Fuehrer is the undismayed champion of a radical solution necessitated by conditions and therefore inexorable. Fortunately a whole series of possibilities presents itself for us in wartime that would be denied us in peacetime. We shall have to profit by this.

The ghettoes that will be emptied in the cities of the General Government now will be refilled with Jews thrown out of the Reich. This process is to be repeated from time to time. There is nothing funny in it for the Jews, and the fact that Jewry’s representatives in England and America are today organizing and sponsoring the war against Germany must be paid for dearly by its representatives in Europe - and that’s only right.’

13 December 1942
‘The question of Jewish persecution in Europe is being given top news priority by the English and the Americans. . . At bottom, however, I believe both the English and the Americans are happy that we are exterminating the Jewish riff-raff. But the Jews will go on and on and turn the heat on the British-American press. We won’t even discuss this theme publicly, but instead I give orders to start an atrocity campaign against the English on their treatment of Colonials. Efforts are under way to declare Rome an open city, so that it won’t be bombarded. The Pope is studying the question of air raids on Italian cities and seems to be exerting pressure on the English to spare at least certain districts. The declarations issued by the Vatican on this question are extremely clever and cannot but win favor for the Pope, at least in Italy. But the Italians are willing to accept any help offered them in this painful situation. The Italians are extremely lax in the treatment of Jews. They protect the Italian Jews both in Tunis and in occupied France and won’t permit their being drafted for work or compelled to wear the Star of David. This shows once again that Fascism does not really dare to get down to fundamentals, but is very superficial regarding most important problems. The Jewish question is causing us a lot of trouble. Everywhere, even among our allies, the Jews have friends to help them, which is a proof that they are still playing an important role even in the Axis camp. All the more are they shorn of power within Germany itself.’

3 April 1945
‘At the daily briefing conferences the Luftwaffe comes in for the sharpest criticism from the Führer. Day after day Göring has to listen without being in the position to demur at all. Colonel-General Stumpff, for instance, refused to subordinate himself to Kesselring for the new operations planned in the West. The Führer called him sharply to order saying that the relative positions of Kesselring and Stumpff were similar to those of him and Schaub. In the West, of course, it is now and for the immediate future a continuous process of muddling through. We are in the most critical and dangerous phase of this war and one sometimes has the impression that the German people, fighting at the height of the war crisis, has broken out in a sweat impossible for the non-expert to distinguish as the precursor of death or recovery.’

The Diary Junction