Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Dust all day like a fog

‘Bus at 8 on stomachs empty save for peanuts. Good seats and smuggled luggage. Bloody driver. Second bus constantly en panne. A Chinese attached to it savagely beaten up by Jap with starting handle. Lovely mountain passes. Hunting boxes in firs. A little snow. New untouched road. One concrete bridge made. No work going on elsewhere. Soup at Lungwha, where there is a good yamen, bright colours, much mistletoe. Dust all day like a fog.’ This is from an early travel diary kept by Peter Fleming, born 110 years ago today, on one of his several trips to Asia, and China in particular. Although his travel and historical books were best sellers in the mid-20th century, he is not well remembered today, unlike his famous brother Ian.

Fleming was born on the last day of May in 1907, one of four brothers. His father was a barrister and Member of Parliament, but he was killed in action in 1917. Peter was schooled at Eton, and often spent weekends with his grandparents at Nettlebed, Oxfordshire. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford, where he became president of the drama society and editor of Isis. He graduated in 1929 with a first-class degree in English. After a short period with the family firm in New York, and an expedition to Guatemala, he returned to London where, in 1931, he became assistant literary editor for The Spectator. Soon after, though he was given leave to attend an Institute of Pacific Relations conference, involving travel across Russia and China. In 1932, he joined a hair-brained expedition to Brazil, supposedly in search of a missing explorer, and persuaded The Times to take him on as an unpaid special correspondent. The journey led to his first book - Brazilian Adventure (1933) - which was well received in the UK and the US.

Two further journeys to Asia followed. After the first - during which he achieved an interview with Chaing Kai-shek (see also Chiang Kai-shek’s diaries) - he published One’s Company (1934). The second journey undertaken on foot and ponies with a Swiss traveller Ella Maillart and which took seven months, led to his 1936 book News from Tartary. In 1935, Fleming married Celia Johnson - an actress who would later become famous for her role in Brief Encounter (1945). They had three children. In 1936, he joined the staff of The Times, and subsequently travelled, with Johnson, to report on the Sino-Japanese War. During the Second World War, he served with the Grenadier Guards, but was seconded to intelligence duties, in Norway, Egypt, Greece and Burma.

After the war, Fleming settled at Merrimoles, a house he had built near his grandparents’ old home at Nettlebed, and in the middle of a large estate inherited from an uncle. There he continued to write for The Times and he contributed a column for The Spectator signed under the pseudnym Strix. Several historical books followed, as did his involvement with the running of Reading University. After the death of his brother, Ian, in 1964, he joined the board of Glidrose, which was managing the literary rights of the James Bond novels. Peter Fleming died in 1971. Further information is available from Wikipedia, University of Reading, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log-in required) or the British Resistance Archive.

Peter Fleming appears to have been an intermittent diarist. Duff Hart-Davis refers often to Fleming’s diary in the biography of his godfather (see Googlebooks); and the University of Reading lists a number of diary manuscripts in its Fleming archive. However, the only diary extracts that Fleming himself prepared for print were in 1952, when his friend Rupert Hart-Davis (Duff’s father), a publisher, brought out A Forgotten Journey. This was reprinted in 2009, by Tauris Parke, as To Peking: A Forgotten Journey from Moscow to Manchuria (available to preview at Googlebooks). Here are several extracts taken from the 1952 edition.

6 September 1934
‘At 10 o’clock we set out for a kolhoz [collective farm]. It was a biggish village lying in flat but slightly rolling country. The white Ukrainian houses with thatched roofs and tiny unopenable windows looked very pleasant in the sunshine. We were soon taken in charge by the local party secretary, a tough, insular young man, the power in that place. We tasted their honey and prodded their pigs and Mogs drove one of their buggies. The farm produces mostly vegetables. 20% of its produce is sold at a nominal price to the Government, the rest in the open market. Fertiliser supplied by the Government had had a good effect. There was a small land tax. The most interesting thing was the degree of kulakism allowed now. Everyone had his own garden or allotment and was allowed to keep pigs or cows, though no one as it happened had more than two or three of either; potatoes were 3 kopeks per kg. to the Government, 50 in the open market; 70% of the workers were women. We saw rather polite children eating bortsch in the crêche, and the cooperative store, which sold almost nothing except vodka, matches, and very shoddy clothes. Almost all the houses had the radio. In the one we went into the walls were prettily painted; Kaganovitch [then, and up to the time of going to press, a member of the Politburo] shared the wall with an ikon. Everything reasonably clean. We lunched in their eating-place off bortsch, black bread, potatoes, tomatoes, and melons.

When we got back George and I went over some flats with an architect, who said that the work done to his designs was about 30% unsatisfactory. Architects have a pretty free hand here. The flats all seemed to me good: light and spacious and cheap. In the first there was a man, a pre-war Bolshevik, who had done 13 years’ solitary confinement but conspicuously possessed a sense of humour. He had his shackles hanging up in his bedroom. Then there was one belonging to an architect with some rather amusing pictures done by the tenant; it was refreshing to find evidence of some sort of taste somewhere. He had Robinson Crusoe on his bookshelf. I heard some children exclaiming at it in a shop yesterday; it is in brisk demand here. Then there was another poorer flat, but still quite adequate.

After that we went to the races, which turned out to be trotting races. They were fairly well attended and there was some primitive system of betting. But not much enthusiasm. The jockeys were fantastic mid-Victorian figures, and had great difficulty in preventing the scratch horses from galloping, which they are allowed to do for only four strides. The jockeys are professionals, but the horses amateurs from the farms, which race against each other.

We were to have flown to Rostov tomorrow, but the wind is considered too high. So we must catch a train at 3 a.m.

It didn’t of course turn up till 4, and proved to be without the advertised dining car. We boarded it stupid with fatigue, after wandering about the streets for a long time. They were empty save for a certain number of indefinite night-watchmen sitting on chairs in front of doors. There was also an old man who suddenly stooped, picked up a fragment of newspaper from the gutter, and put it on a window sill. I thought he was going to roll a cigarette, but he produced instead a little bird from his pocket and wrapped it up in the paper. It had hit the telegraph wires and cut its head. He was very sorry for it, but I don’t know what good the newspaper was. The head waiter at the hotel was a romantic figure, an effective ex-prospector, ex-East Side waiter, ex-stage dancer in U.S.A. The depression had driven him back to Russia. Got to sleep about 5 in the morning.’

7 September 1934
‘Started at 10 for a big agricultural implement factory. Here work appeared to be proceeding rather spasmodically, under conditions which are very enlightened on paper. The things that interested me most were that 43% of the workers are women; that each shock brigade, controlled by its own brigadier, pillories bad workers by name with bad caricatures on its notice-board - another echo of the Moscow Park stuff; that every worker’s rest period of an hour is preceded by 5 minutes compulsory P.T.; that Shock Workers have a silly little banner on their bit of machinery. Chiefly, in fact, the Montessorian atmosphere. In the club library questions and answers were posted on the notice-board. One was, “Where can I study man’s struggle for existence?” The answer was “Fill up a form and in the meantime read these books.” Another was “Why no books by Jules Verne, Mayne Reid, and Fenimore Cooper?” The answer was that Verne was all to the good, but Cooper and Reid misrepresented American exploitation of the indigenes and were chauvinistic and imperialistic. We saw also workers’ flats and a closed shop, where white bread was selling for 60 kopeks instead of 10 roubles and meat for 3 roubles instead of 9. Had the usual dilatory lunch, then George went to interview a judge while Mogs and I sat in a public garden and read and talked.

Then we all went on the Don in a motor boat with the director of Intourist, an insufferable young American-educated candidate for the Communist party. This is holding a purge tomorrow, and he is therefore aggressively orthodox. He also seems unhappy here. We bathed in shallow black mud, very nice though I spiked my foot on a fish bone and lost a cuff link. The sky was lovely coming back. I had a glass of sour wine with Boris, who told me he got 60 roubles an hour for coaching actors who had to play the part of foreigners - e.g. Cooper in Tempo. There is a lot of money to be made in the theatre, and it seems to hold a pretty high position in cultural life.

After dinner we went to a cinema, probably the worst I have ever seen. It began with a black blurred picture of salvage work in the Black Sea, devoid of interest or comprehensibility. Then there was a fearful comedy, sooty and prehistoric. We walked out.’

1 December 1934
‘Wasted the morning waiting for Tumanov the detective, who had promised to take us round the opium dens. Met Yankovsky from N. Korea, who had some wonderful hunting photographs and was nice. Also the Vremya journalist, who seemed perplexed about Roerich having been run out. Also the Red railway worker, who said he was going to stay in Harbin but that 80% of the others were going back: a very vague man. The nice desk man, having applied for a rise on 40 dollars, is going after 9 years to turn porter in the hopes of earning more. The Italian consul turned up, a charming droll with an eyeglass and an inexhaustible fund of anecdotes. We bought some presents for Debedeev’s family and had an enormous lunch with Bryner and his kind wife, talking till dusk about Kolchak, whose betrayal Bryner’s brother, then in British uniform as a liaison officer, knew all about; and about Roerich and about Kaspe. Then K. saw the doctor and was forced to go to bed, and I wrote some letters and gave them to Lady Muriel Paget, who was going through on the express and seemed very nice and effective. She had one amusing rumour about Mme. Chiang. A local journalist turned up, a truculent and gloomy man, possibly drunk. He blamed Chambon over the Kaspe business.’

19 December 1934
‘Bus at 8 on stomachs empty save for peanuts. Good seats and smuggled luggage. Bloody driver. Second bus constantly en panne. A Chinese attached to it savagely beaten up by Jap with starting handle. Lovely mountain passes. Hunting boxes in firs. A little snow. New untouched road. One concrete bridge made. No work going on elsewhere. Soup at Lungwha, where there is a good yamen, bright colours, much mistletoe. Dust all day like a fog. Took streets too fast. Carts on ice. Camels. Suddenly came on Chengteh. First the club-shaped rock, then Tashi Lumpo (now fronted with Manchukuo barracks), then palace pagoda. Gave names and ages to Military Mission man, then walked through busier fuller [than on my last visit in 1933] streets to Conard, who was delightful and lodged us in luxury. The sad Lewisohn also there, leaving tomorrow. In clover, but police on our trail.’

16 December 1934
‘Good Chinese breakfast with Chow. First meal since light lunch yesterday. Drove to bus station (one pagoda, one big Jap restaurant). Via Mission. Saw Mrs. B_, drawn mouth, sandy, bad with Chow. Bus starts late. Slow, uneven journey, delayed by breakdowns of truck. Mountains and donkeys. Sweet cakes at one halt. Peanuts and Manchus at another. One man has a little owl in a cage. Boy holds new-born calf by its tail. All stare. Soldiers in bus friendly. Fat Jap hits Chinese for no great cause. Lovely blue at twilight. Pass long bulbous caravan of donkeys, mules, and ponies carrying cotton. Alternately sleepy and exalted. Thick with dust.’

Monday, May 29, 2017

JFK‘s diary strikes gold

‘These Leftists are filled with bitterness, and I am not sure how deeply the tradition of tolerance in England is ingrained in these bitter and discontented spirits.’ ‘For too long a time now England has been divided into the two nations [. . .] the rich and the poor. The Labor Party will stay in for a long time if the conservative wing of that party [. . .] remain in office. But if the radical group like Laski [professor of economics and chairman of the Labour Party], Shinwell and Cripps become the dominating influence [. . .] there will be a reaction and the Conservatives will come once again to power.’ This is none other than John F. Kennedy - born a century ago today - writing in a diary he kept for a few months while working as a reporter in Europe in the aftermath of the WWII. It is the only diary ever kept by the famous US president, and recently sold at auction in Boston for over $700,000, three times its pre-auction estimate.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on 29 May 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts, into a large prominent Irish Catholic family with strong links to the political and banking worlds. After a privileged education interrupted by frequent illnesses, he graduated from Harvard University in 1940. In particular, his thesis on why Britain was so unprepared to fight Germany - researched during a visit to the UK where his father was US ambassador - was particularly well received. Indeed, he decided to publish it as a book, Why England Slept, which sold more than 80,000 copies. He joined the US Navy, and during the war commanded small torpedo boats in the Pacific, earning a medal for non-combat heroism.

After the war, Kennedy worked briefly as a journalist before deciding to enter politics. On the back of his war record and family money, he won a Boston working class seat for the Democrats in the House of Representatives (1947-1952). Then, in 1953, he challenged a Republican incumbent for his seat in the Senate, and narrowly won (despite the Republicans gaining control in both houses). He did this partly thanks to family money, and a highly methodical and efficient campaign, but also through the force of his personality, considered dignified, intelligent an uncondescending. That same year, he married Jacqueline Bouvier, and they would have three children. While recuperating from surgery, he wrote a another book, Profiles in Courage, which won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for biography.

In the 1960 general election, Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by a very narrow margin, and in 1961 he became the country’s 35th president, the second youngest in American history, and the first Catholic. His short term as president was characterised by the launch of the Peace Corps, a civil rights bill, and Cold War crises, particularly with Cuba. In one of the most infamous events of modern history, he was assassinated on 21 November 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald (see JFK’s assassin in Moscow). Further biographical information on JFK is readily available across the internet: see Wikipedia,, The White House, JFK Presidential Library and Museum, and American National Biography Online.

For a few months during 1945, when in San Francisco for the first UN conference and then on tour in post-war Europe for Hearst newspapers, Kennedy kept a diary - the only one he ever wrote - on loose leaf pages held together in a Trussel binder. Later, he gave it to one of his research assistants, Deirdre Henderson. However, it was not until 1995 that Henderson edited the diary and allowed it to be published (by Regnery Publishing) as Prelude to Leadership: The European Diary of John F. Kennedy. The book - which is available to preview online at Googlebooks - contains a lengthy introduction by Hugh Sidey (a long-serving Washington bureau chief for Time magazine), and a short preface by Henderson herself in which she excuses the long delay in publication as being ‘a matter of personal circumstances’.  

Earlier this year, however, in the run-up the Kennedy’s centenary, Henderson put the original diary up for sale through RR Auction. The US auction house produced a glossy 76-page brochure promoting the diary (itself only 61 pages!), including many extracts, historical photographs and contexts, and images of the (mostly typed) original pages. This brochure is freely available online at RR Auction (as are images of the entire diary). The forthcoming sale garnered worldwide publicity - see, for example, Fox News, The Independent, the BBC, or - almost as though the diary’s contents were being revealed for the first time. The pre-auction estimate price of $200,000 was tripled on the day of the sale, 26 May, with the lot selling to Joseph Alsop (a JFK collector) for an astonishing $718,750. The diary’s new owner is the nephew of Joseph Alsop V and the son of Stewart Alsop, two brothers who were influential columnists during the Kennedy presidency. (See Fox News or the Daily Mail for further details.)

In its pre-auction publicity, RR Auction stated: ‘It is rare that a manuscript of such importance comes to the attention of the auction world. Discovered in a call from its long-time owner, Kennedy’s research assistant Deirdre Henderson, it is of great significance as the only diary JFK ever wrote. We here at RR Auction have become one of the preeminent auction houses for Kennedy documents and are proud to bring this little-known diary to the attention of our collectors in the United States and throughout the world. After the end of the war in 1945, Ambassador Kennedy arranged for his son to work for the Hearst newspapers. This allowed the young veteran to attend the opening session of the United Nations in San Francisco in May and then travel abroad to cover post-war Europe. JFK followed Prime Minister Churchill throughout England during his reelection campaign. He traveled to Ireland, then to the Potsdam Conference in Germany with Navy Secretary James Forrestal. This diary is not a travel log. It is his personal observations of what he saw and perceptions of what would happen in the post-war world. Our name. RR Auction, stands for “Rare” and “Remarkable.” The 1945 diary of John F. Kennedy is rare because there is nothing comparable. Remarkable for the hidden story shown, his insightful views and predictions of the world around him at an early age - sixteen years later America’s 35th President.’

Here are several extracts from JFK’s diary (literally worth far more than than the weight in gold of the paper they are written on!).

21 June 1945
‘Tonight it looks like Labor and a good thing it will be for the cause of free enterprise. The problems are so large that it is right that Labor, which has been nipping at the heels of private enterprise in England for the last twenty-five years, should be faced with the responsibility of making good on its promises.

D_ maintains that free enterprise is the losing cause. Capitalism is on the way out - although many Englishmen feel that this is not applicable to England with its great democratic tradition and dislike of interference with the individual.

I should think that they might be right in prosperous times, but when times go bad, as they must inevitably, it will be then that controls will be clamped on - and then the only question will be the extent to which they are tightened.
Socialism is inefficient; I will never believe differently, but you can feed people in a socialistic state, and that may be what will insure its eventual success.

Mr. Roosevelt has contributed greatly to the end of Capitalism in our own country, although he would probably argue the point at some length. He has done this, not through the laws which he sponsored or were passed during his Presidency, but rather through the emphasis he put on rights rather than responsibilities - through promises like, for example, his glib and completely impossible campaign promise of 1944 of 60,000,000 jobs.

He must have known that it was an impossibility to ever implement this promise, and it will hang as a sword over the head of a Capitalistic system - a system that will be discredited by its inability to make that promise good.’

29 June 1945
‘Kathleen and I went down this afternoon to Eastbourne in southern England to Compton Place. Eastbourne is a small village and Compton Place is in the center of it, though for its quietness it might be in the middle of a large forest.

Its owner, the Duke of Devonshire, is an eighteenth-century story book Duke in his beliefs - if not in his appearance. He believes in the Divine Right of Dukes, and in fairness, he is fully conscious of his obligations - most of which consist of furnishing the people of England with a statesman of mediocre ability but outstanding integrity.

Datid Ormsby-Gore maintains that in providing the latter service the Aristocracy, especially the country squires, really earn their sometimes extremely comfortable keep.

The Duke was a good friend of Neville Chamberlain. He went on several fishing trips with him, but he said that he could never understand Chamberlain’s idea of confiscating part of his land providing some “compensation” was made by the State. “But,” said the Duke, “what compensation can there be by handing over my property to a middle-class official who can’t administer it half as well.” And there you have the social philosophy of Edward, tenth Duke of Devonshire.

He had a number of interesting stories. One was about Lady Violet Bonham-Carter, daughter of Herbert Asquith, former Prime Minister. Lady Violet had a great habit of bringing her face gradually closer and closer to the subject of her conversation until finally only several inches separated her from the recipient of her remarks. Duff-Cooper, Ambassador to France, finally became so infuriated with this habit that, at a dinner party, he suddenly picked up a potato with his fork and dashed it into her mouth saying, “Excuse me, I thought it was mine.”

He was interesting on the subject of Nepal - an independent country from which the famous Ghurka warriors come. Great Britain was unable to conquer this principality so since the nineteenth-century conquest they have lived in peace with the Maharaja in close alliance.

The Ghurka soldier - crack troops - are mercenaries, who, being Moslems and therefore unable to cross the sea, have to go through an elaborate purification process before being allowed to enter their country after their tour of duty is complete. Part of this purification process consists of bathing in cow urine and eating some cow manure.

As far as India on the whole, the Duke (Undersecretary of State for Colonies) sees little hope for the future - due to the terrific hostility of the Moslems and the Hindu’s on the one hand and the completely mystic and debasing position of the 30 million “Untouchables” on the other. It is a poor foundation on which to build a democracy. 
He admits, however, that England would also suffer if she were cut off completely from India, but the commercial lies are steadily becoming weakened by the growth of Indian heavy industry and the influx of the goods of other countries.

In the Levant, France had been consistently warned. It was France’s traditional policy of domination of this part of the middle East which was carried out at a time when French prestige and power was too weak to successfully carry it through.

Although the Duke is an anachronism with hardly the adaptability necessary to meet the changing tides of present day, he does have great integrity and lives simply with simple pleasures. He has a high sense of noblesse oblige, and it comes sincerely for him. He believes that Labor will win an overwhelming victory. He is the only Conservative that I have heard state this view. His wife, grand-daughter of Lord Salisbury, Prime Minister of England, is a woman of intense personal charm and complete selflessness.’

30 June 1945
‘General Eisenhower has taken a great hold on the hearts of all the British people ... At the fall of Tunis in Africa back in 1943, a parade was held of all the forces that had brought the African campaign to a successful conclusion. As the crack Eighth Army filed past, the Desert Rats, the Highland Division, the South Africans - all experienced and excellent troops - Eisenhower, as the supreme Commanding Officer, took the salute. He was heard to say after the Eighth had marched past, “To think that I, a boy from Abilene, Kansas, am the Commander of troops like those!” He never lost that humble way and therefore easily won the hearts of those with whom he worked. [. . .]

Churchill in his book ‘World Crisis’ brings out the same point - the terrific slaughter of the field officers of the British Army - two or three times higher than the Germans. They were always on the defensive in the dark days of ’15, ’16, and ’17, and they paid most heavily. The British lost one million of a population of forty million; the French, one million five hundred thousand of a population of thirty-eight million; and the Germans, one million five hundred thousand of a population of seventy million. This tremendous slaughter had its effect on British policy in the 30s when Chamberlain and Baldwin could not bring themselves to subject the young men of Britain to the same horrible slaughter again.’

1 July 1945
‘I had dinner with William Douglas-Home, former Captain in the British army, third son of Earl of Home, cashiered and sentenced to a year in jail for refusal to fire on __ at LeHavre. He is quite confident that his day will come after his disgrace has passed, and he quotes Lord Beaverbrook to the effect that some day he will be Prime Minister to England. Like Disraeli he is extremely confident. He feels that by insisting on the doctrine of “Unconditional Surrender” instead of allowing Germany and Russia both to remain of equal strength, we made it possible for Russia to obtain that very dominance that we fought Germany to prevent her having. He feels that we had a great opportunity for a balance of power policy.

For my own part, I think that only time can tell whether he was right, but I doubt that William Home will ever meet much success because people distrust those who go against convention. And furthermore, prowess in war is still deeply respected. The day of the conscientious objector is not yet at hand.’

2 July 1945
‘The great danger in movements to the Left is that the protagonists of the movement are so wrapped up with the end that the means becomes secondary and things like opposition have to be dispensed with as they obstruct the common good. When one sees the iron hand with which the Trade Unions are governed, the whips cracked, the obligatory fee of the Trade Union’s Political representatives in Parliament, you wonder about the liberalism of the Left. They must be most careful. To maintain Dictatorships of the Left or Right are equally abhorrent no matter what their doctrine or how great their efficiency.’

3 July 1945
‘I attended a political rally this evening at which Professor Harold Laski, Chairman of the Executive Council of the Labor Party and erstwhile Professor at the London School of Economics, spoke ... Odd this strain that runs through these radicals of the Left. It is that spirit which builds dictatorships as has been shown in Russia. I wonder whether dictatorship of the Left could ever get control in England, a country with such great democratic tradition.

These Leftists are filled with bitterness, and I am not sure how deeply the tradition of tolerance in England is ingrained in these bitter and discontented spirits. I think that unquestionably, from my talk with Laski, that he and others like him smart not so much from the economic inequality’ but from the social.’

27 July 1945
‘The overwhelming victory of the Left was a surprise to everyone. It is important in assaying this election to decide how much of the victory was due to a ‘time for a change’ vote which would have voted against any government in power, whether Right or Left, and how much was due to real Socialistic strength.

My own opinion is that it was about 40 per cent due to dissatisfaction with conditions over which the government had no great control but from which they must bear responsibility - 20 per cent due to a belief in Socialism as the only solution to the multifarious problems England must face - and the remaining 40 per cent due to a class feeling - i.e.; that it was time ‘the working man’ had a chance.

For too long a time now England has been divided into the two nations as Disraeli called them - the rich and the poor. The Labor Party will stay in for a long time if the conservative wing of that party men like Attlee and Bevin remain in office.

But if the radical group like Laski, Shinwell and Cripps become the dominating influence in the party, there will be a reaction and the Conservatives will come once again to power. In my own opinion Attlee will remain in office for the next year and a half, but if there is much dissatisfaction, which there may be, he will go; and as a sop to the radical Left wing, Morrison or Bevin will take over. Labor is laboring under the great disadvantage of having made promises to numerous groups whose aims are completely incompatible. The Conservatives may pick up some of these votes, at least those of the middle class when conditions make it impossible for Labor to implement many of its promises.’

Thursday, May 25, 2017

To smell the roses

‘It’s a book about enjoying, not dreading retirement. And yes, it’s about stopping - stopping, at long last, to smell the roses. We’ve done just that.’ This is the much-honoured educator and priest Theodore M. Hesburgh introducing the diary of his travels, with Ned Joyce, round the world. Ted, as he was known, was president the University of Notre Dame for 35 years, and Ned was his vice-president for the same period - a period during which Notre Dame became one of the top universities in the United States.

Hesburgh was born in Syracuse, New York  on 25 May 1917. After finishing high school, he entered the Holy Cross seminary on the University of Notre Dame campus, in the very north of Indiana state. He was sent to Rome to study for advanced degrees in philosophy and theology, but with the start of the Second World War he returned to the United States where he was ordained at Notre Dame in 1943. He studied for his doctorate in sacred theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington D. C.. Subsequently, he was sent back to Notre Dame to teach naval officers under wartime training, and to serve as chaplain to returning veterans.

In 1948, Hesburgh became head of the department of theology at Notre Dame; and the following year he was named as executive vice-president. From 1952, he was the university’s president, serving for 35 years in that capacity (with vice-president Ned Joyce, also a priest, serving the same long term) and having the most profound and long-lasting positive impact on the university’s growth and status. For example, he liberalised the rules of student life, promoted academic freedom, helped make Notre Dame one of the top universities in the country, doubling its enrolment and greatly increasing its funds. He was also responsible for overseeing the admittance of women students, and for transferring its governance from the Holy Cross to a mixed lay and religious board.

But Hesburgh played a much wider role in public affairs, holding more than a dozen appointments to bodies such as the National Science Foundation, the Civil Rights Commission, the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, and the Overseas Development Council. He was a key figure in the student movement against the Vietnam war, and for 15 years served as the permanent Vatican representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.  In 1964, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest honour, by President Lyndon Johnson. After retirement from Notre Dame, he continued to serve on public bodies, and received many public honours - indeed he holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for largest number of honorary degrees, having been awarded 150 (all are listed in his Wikipedia entry!). He died in 2015. Further biographical information is available online thanks to Notre Dame (which is holding a mass today to celebrate Hesburgh’s centenary), The New York Times,, Encyclopædia Britannica and The Catholic World Report.

In their first year of retirement, 1987-1988, Hesburgh and Ned Joyce went on various excursions to all parts of the world, including South America, Asia and Antartica. Hesburgh kept a detailed diary of their journeys, which was then published by Doubleday in 1992 as Travels with Ted & Ned. Ted opens his introduction to the diary as follows: ‘This is obviously a book about travel and two seventy-year-old Holy Cross priests who did the traveling. It was the way we chose to begin our retirement after working together for thirty-five years as president and executive vice president of the University of Notre Dame. Our friends call us Ted and Ned.’ And he concludes it with this: ‘This book, therefore, isn’t just about travel, as much fun as travel can be. Fundamentally it’s a book about totally changing one’s ordinary, lifelong way of living without coming apart at the seams. It’s a book about enjoying, not dreading retirement. And yes, it’s about stopping - stopping, at long last, to smell the roses. We’ve done just that.’ A few pages can be previewed at Amazon.

As travel diaries go, it’s not the most scintillating of reads, rather mundane in fact (and Coca-Cola heavy!), as the following extracts reveal.

12 November 1987
‘Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We had a wake-up call at 5:30 this morning for those who wanted to see the Rio harbor from afar. I got up for it, but it was too foggy and I took one look and went back to bed. We landed here about 7:30 and were finally off the ship at nine o’clock. Gustavo de Sá, a fine young fellow who’s Coca-Cola’s public relations man in Rio, smoothed our way through customs and delivered us to the Othon Hotel on Copacabana beach. Our rooms, one atop the other on the eighth and ninth floors, have a magnificent panoramic view - Corcovado, the mountain with the famous statue of Christ the Savior on its top, plus the whole bay and the beach.

Our main activity today was nailing down all the reservations we’re going to need between now and December 6, the day we return to the United States. It was no easy task, even though we knew, generally, where we wanted to be and when. Because of a strike, all the computers at the airport were down. Fortunately, the travel department at Coca-Cola came through for us - as they have done several times before.

Once we had the nitty gritty travel details out of the way, I went out to buy a topaz for my ever-faithful secretary, Helen Hosinski, who will have to type all of these notes. Again, thanks to Coca-Cola, I not only found a fine stone at a third of the price it would cost in the states, but at a 25 percent discount as well. As you probably know, Brazil leads the world in the production of semiprecious gemstones.

Rio looks a lot better than it did when I was here several years ago with the Chase Manhattan Bank board. Yet the country is in terrible financial shape and the most familiar gripe is about the economy. Somehow, though, most people on the street appear to be happy. It probably has something to do with the customary upbeat attitude of the people who live in Rio. They call themselves Cariocas, which means people who put happiness and good times ahead of work and worry.

We were warned repeatedly not to walk alone on the beach or to take along anything of value that could be easily snatched. The explanation was that there is so much poverty here that those who are accustomed to living by their wits are using them a little too broadly these days.

Tonight we had dinner at the home of Roberto Marinho, often described as the most important person in Brazil. He’s the editor of O Globo, one of the two main newspapers in the country. In addition, he owns about sixty radio and television stations and, more important, has donated airtime to the teaching of reading and writing to illiterates. Roberto is also a member of our International Advisory Council for the Kellogg Institute of International Studies at Notre Dame. I met him for the first time a few years ago when he and I received honorary degrees from the University of Brasilia.

Our young Coca-Cola friend, Gustavo, and his girlfriend, Cristiana, who works in Marinho Enterprises, were also invited to Roberto’s house for dinner. The other invitees were Father Laercio Dias de Moura, a Jesuit who is rector of the Catholic University here, and Walter Poyares and his wife, Maria Lucia. He is a professor of communications and a top adviser to Roberto.

The Marinho home is almost impossible to describe. First of all, it’s high on a hill with a wonderful view of the statue of Christ the Savior. At night the view is even more spectacular, because the statue is lighted. The house is set in the middle of a primitive jungle forest with a stream running through it. Inside, the walls are hung with one of the best art collections in Brazil.

Roberto is in his eighties, but looks much younger. When we arrived, he said “Tonight we speak French.” His younger wife, Ruth, prepared a very tasty dinner to go along with the conversation, which included a discussion of our Kellogg Institute at Notre Dame. During the course of the conversation I tried to persuade Roberto to come to our next meeting. By the way, Ned and I dressed up in black tonight, the first time we’ve done this in the last six weeks.’

16 November 1987
‘Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Shortly after 5:30 A.M. we celebrated our last Mass in Rio. We arrived at the airport around seven and after an hour’s delay were in Brasilia by 9:30. As usual, we were met by someone from Coca-Cola, a driver named Jonas, who spoke only Portuguese, but understood my Spanish perfectly. I told him that this was Ned’s first visit to Brasilia, and I think Jonas tried extra hard to make sure that Ned saw everything.

First we went up in the TV tower in the middle of town so that Ned could get a look at the whole government setup, which runs on north-south and east-west axes. Once we had grasped the layout, we did a quick drive-by tour of all the main buildings. These included the cathedral, the Senate, the House of Deputies, all sixteen ministries, the Supreme Court, the Presidential Palace, and, later on, the president’s residence.

The city has grown a great deal since I was last here. It now has about 1.2 million inhabitants. That makes it much smaller than either Rio or Sao Paulo, but it must be remembered that Brazilia [sic] was carved out of the jungle from scratch. When I was here the first time more than twenty years ago, it was just a barren plain and everything was full of red dust. Today, there are lawns and flowers and greenery everywhere. Because the city was planned, it has much better buildings, housing, roads, and general organization than either Rio or Sao Paulo. The buildings were designed by Oscar Niemeyer, perhaps the most famous architect in Brazil.

For lunch we had currasco [sic], a first experience for Ned. This typical Brazilian dish is a combination of pork, lamb, chicken, beef, and sausages, all barbecued. It’s served with rice and farina, a coarse flour concoction, and, of course, cold beer. I remembered the restaurant from my last visit. It had a reputation then for the best currasco [sic] in town, and it was apparent to both of us that the quality had not diminished. Ned was hooked immediately.

After lunch, we made quick stops at the Coca-Cola office, the university, where we spent a few minutes with the rector, Dr. Cristovan, and the American Embassy, where we stayed just long enough to find out from the Marine guard that Notre Dame had beaten Alabama last Saturday. Then it was on to the airport for our flight to Sao Paulo, where we will stay just long enough to have a chat with Chris Lund, a Notre Dame alumnus from the States.

Chris and his daughter Carmen, a Notre Dame student, met us at the Sao Paulo airport and took us to the family home on the outskirts of town. We had a long talk, mainly about the scholarship that he is setting up for Latin American students, especially those here in Brazil. After that, it was off to bed in the guesthouse.’

17 November 1987
‘Sao Paulo, Brazil. This was our final day in Brazil. We were up at 6:30 A.M. for Mass with the family and household staff. After a continental breakfast, we dropped Chris off at the Brazilian Chamber of Commerce office, where he is president for Sao Paulo, the largest council in Brazil. Then it was on to the airport. The horrendous traffic doubled our travel time compared with the day before. Once there, we found a Miami paper and learned that we really clobbered Alabama last Saturday. This news was especially welcomed by Ned, who looked after Notre Dame athletics for all those thirty-five years he was executive vice president, and for whom the lean years of the early 1980s were still a fresh memory.

Our flight to Santiago, Chile, took about four hours in a 737. At the airport, waiting to welcome us, were our good friends Father George Canepa, a Chilean Holy Cross priest, and Father Charlie Delaney, a classmate of Ned’s. Ned stayed with Charlie, who is in charge of seminarian formation here, and I moved in with George. When I arrived at the Casa Santa Maria, my billet for the stay here, I called Helen back at the office to catch up with the news. I also asked her to arrange for overcoats for Ned and me in New York, where we’ll be arriving in about three weeks with nothing but summer clothes.

Tonight, Ned and I had dinner with Alejandro Foxley and his wife, Giselle, at their home. Father Ernie Bartell, director of the Kellogg Institute, also joined us, so there was a lot of shop talk, as might be imagined. Mostly, we discussed the new Hesburgh International Building at Notre Dame, which will house our Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies as well as the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. Both these institutes are doing very important work, and in the years ahead I will be devoting a great deal of time to them, as chairman of their International Advisory Boards.’

22 January 1988
‘En Route to Acapulco. This morning we woke up to as calm a sea as we have seen so far. The Pacific is living up to its name. A whole school of dolphins was cavorting off the port side as a number of ships, mainly tankers, passed by en route to Panama. Off the starboard side, we see long rows of mountains on the coastline, as well as a number of islands out at sea. It’s a beautiful sunny day, with the temperature in the high 80s. I finished Sayonara before turning in last night, and now I’m beginning Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind and continuing with Burghardt’s Preaching. While I was up on the sports deck reading this morning, I ran into Herb Kaplow. We had a two-hour bull session out in the sun. He and I have known each other for a long time, going back to the late 1950s and the 1960s when I was on the Civil Rights Commission.’

13 February 1988
‘En Route to Milford Sound. We awoke to another slightly overcast day, about 75 to 80 degrees on deck, but getting warmer. The sea is calm. There is only a slight 5-knot wind coming in from the east. We are cruising down the west coast of South Island, having come almost 500 miles since leaving Wellington last night. We’re moving along at 28.5 knots.

This morning we passed Mount Cook. At about 12,000 feet, it is the highest point in New Zealand. As we made our way down the coast toward Milford Sound, the coastline was about twenty miles off our port side, very mountainous, like the coast of Chile, with some snowcapped peaks as well.

Rudyard Kipling called Milford Sound the eighth wonder of the world. It was formed many millions of years ago when the sea flooded a giant glacial valley. It’s really a fjord that is dominated by a miter peak over a mile high. Pembroke Peak is even a bit higher. From these two peaks, precipitous rock walls plunge deeply into the water. The water is 180 feet deep at the entrance to the sound and 1,680 feet deep at its head.

Fog descended down off the peaks, along with rain, as we approached the head of the sound. Nevertheless, we were able to make out the Milford Sound Hotel and most of the outstanding sights along the way. The scenery was quite spectacular, much like the Norwegian fjords. When we reached the middle of the fjord, we turned around and retraced our route. At 45 degrees south, Milford Sound is the farthest south we will sail on our journey across the world, although we’ll come close to this latitude as we round the bottom of Australia near Melbourne.

Two pastoral consultations took about an hour and a half today. With this many people and particularly the age group, which seems to average around sixty-five, one encounters a wide variety of problems - but opportunities too. Ned and I generally wear a cross on our coat collars, as military chaplains do, so people will know what we’re about, even if they have no need for our services. Cardinal Suahard of Paris expressed it very well, I think, when he spoke of the effect one can have merely by being visible. He called it “the apostolate of one’s presence.” Or as my old Holy Cross friend Charley Sheedy used to say, “Just being there helps.” ’

17 March 1988
‘Singapore is the world’s busiest harbor. Over 30,000 ships call here each year, with one leaving every ten minutes. Singapore was literally nothing until the visionary Sir Stamford Raffles arrived here in 1819 and got the ruling sultan to allow the British East India Company to establish a trading post at the mouth of the Singapore River. A few years later, the British had control of the whole island.

Singapore enjoys the second-highest standard of living in the Orient after Japan. Of the total population of 2.5 million, 77 percent are Chinese, 16 percent Malay, and 5 percent Indian. About 1 percent are Eurasians. The main languages here are Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil (spoken in southern India and parts of Sri Lanka).

Our tour today began with a ride through downtown streets full of high rises and luxury hotels. Because of the scarcity of land, 85 percent of the population here lives in high-rise apartments. Over 60 percent of the population is under the age of twenty. The average family here has about two children. As one goes over the long causeway, one can look to the right (eastward) to the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. To the left (westward) is the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca.

Our first stop was the old palace of the Sultan of Johore (presently king of Malaysia). It makes the White House look like an outhouse. We then visited the mosque, always a major landmark in any Muslim country. Here the Muslims make up about 55 percent of the total population. We visited a rubber plantation, where we saw the rubber flowing from the trees. Then we went to a rubber factory to see how they form the latex into big white blocks of rubber. From there we moved on to visit plantations where they grow cacao, coffee, bananas, and palms for palm oil.

After lunch at a Holiday Inn in Johore Bahru, we stopped at a memorial to those who were killed in World War II, then went back to the ship for Mass. I had Liam O’Murchu, alias Bill Murphy, give a homily in honor of St. Patrick. Bill is the only authentic Irishman on board, so I thought he should do the talking. I’m only half Irish, and Ned is in Katmandu. Anyway, Bill gave a great homily.’

28 March 1988
‘En Route to Tianjin. We woke up this morning to what was probably the worst weather we’ve experienced. The sea was full of whitecaps, the wind was strong, and the rain was pelting down as we passed offshore of Shanghai. To make matters worse, there was fog in all directions, so we couldn’t see anything.

Played bridge for an hour and a half this afternoon, and for a change Ernie and I beat Ned and Faye. I can’t claim it as a great victory, though, because in over 4,000 points scored on both sides, we won by only 30.

The captain invited us to dinner in his private dining room tonight. We had been invited once before, but couldn’t go. This time we did, and it was very nice. As a memento of the occasion, each of us received a necktie with the Cunard logo. This captain understands and practices public relations as well as anyone I’ve ever met. He’ll be a hard act to follow. (Unfortunately, he died of cancer within a year.)

All work and no play

Happy 60th birthday Alastair Campbell - one of the UK’s very best of modern political diarists. Looking back over his published diaries - now five volumes worth covering the years 1994-2005 - there’s definitely been more work than play on the 25th of May. Time for a party maybe!

The Diary Review has published two previous articles with extracts from Campbell’s diaries: A good press secretary and Call me Cherie. Here’s another collection of extracts, all dated 25 May, but mostly those in which Campbell actually mentions his birthday - more than half of his entries for 25 May (during the two decade period) do not refer to his birthday at all. All five volumes of Campell’s full diaries (the most recent was published by Biteback last October) can be previewed at Googlebooks: 1994-1997, 1997-1999, 1999-2001, 2001-2003, 2003-2005.

25 May 1994
‘I did the Today programme with Austin Mitchell (Labour MP). He said Cook hated Gordon which was a bit over the top. Took the kids to school. I wrote my column at home with the main piece on Mo but later changed it after Margaret Beckett announced there would be a deputy leadership contest at the same time as the leadership contest. Interesting move, necessary I suppose for her to be able to run for the leadership, and it meant JP could go for both without being seen to cause a lot of trouble. Gordon's office, doubtless at Sue Nye's prompting, rang me later to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me down the phone. Went to Luigi’s for lunch, then to the lobby, hanging around picking up reaction on Beckett’s move. Interesting how many people said both that TB was obvious as next leader, but also that they didn’t know enough about what he really stood for. Took Mum to the House Magazine party in the Speaker's state rooms and introduced her to lots of people, Kim [Howells], Peter Bottomley [Conservative MP], Charles Clarke, Betty [Boothroyd, Speaker] herself who was really nice and warm. Peter M came round later. He felt Beckett would be more of a danger to the new leader than Prescott.’

25 May 1997
‘It was my birthday, and I got really nice letters from both Mum and Dad, with a cheque, saying how proud they were at what I’d done in helping win the election. I really must get up to see them soon. I’d been anxious throughout the campaign about Dad, and would never forgive myself if he suddenly died and I had not been up there enough. It was a fairly quiet day, though the Thatcher meeting went even bigger than I thought it would, leading the bulletins most of the day. I got a lovely call from Jim Callaghan, saying he would like to help and we fixed for him to do The World This Weekend, saying it was very sensible of TB to see her. TB called, worried I had stuck the Thatcher story in the paper, which I hadn’t. I was pretty sure Peter had put the Clinton/Cabinet story to Grice and once he realised the Sunday Telegraph had the Thatcher story, he gave that to Andy Grice as well. He was talking to the press far too much and was getting on my nerves again. TB was still thinking away re the European agenda and worrying about how we would get a deal in Amsterdam that would be a clear-cut success. He was at Chequers having a couple of quiet days before we headed for Paris.’

25 May 1998
‘It was a fairly quiet day. I put together a briefing re the Japanese emperor’s visit. I said TB wanted him given a warm welcome, that we had to look to the future not the past, added to all the stuff re economic ties etc. Nishimura called me to say the emperor and the Japanese government would be very happy with it. It would almost certainly mean a good kicking from the tabs, especially maybe the Mirror who would be on the lookout for revenge re the Clinton article. TB was fine with it though and felt we had to push a positive line through the whole trip. I went to see Ellie in hospital then took the kids to the fair in Hampstead. The story in NI was focusing too much on decommissioning.’

25 May 2000
‘[. . . ] We went out for dinner with the Goulds and Tessa [Jowell] and David [Mills, her husband] for my birthday. Ian Hutchison [Baroness Helena Kennedy’s husband] came in while we were there. I tore into him because of Helena’s latest blast at us. She was more and more oppositionalist and it had definitely been a mistake to give her a [House of Lords] platform. There are too many people who owe their platform to the Labour Party and just use it to undermine us the whole time. GB was leading the news on Laura Spence.’

25 May 2002
‘Birthday. Forty-five today. The herald for a weekend of gloom. Feeling really down again. Best thing was that Rory was running in the South of England qualifiers, so he and I went out to Watford. Fiona had bought me a pedometer and I ran for over an hour to get it working. The Roy Keane/Mick McCarthy drama was for some reason really draining me too, even though I knew neither of them well. I felt a real sense of empathy with Keane, felt he was driven but also haunted by demons, depression, violence, an inability to share all the same emotions as everyone seemed to have around the big moments. TB, coincidentally, said he had had friends over for dinner, one of whom asked what I was like. TB said he is the Roy Keane in the operation, driven, doesn’t suffer fools, expects everyone to match his own standards, flawed but brilliant.’

25 May 2003
‘Big pieces in the Sundays on Fiona to quit. TB called and said we had to put a lid on this. He said it was becoming dreadful for Cherie because the coverage was making her look crazy. I said it was bad for all of us. He said we had to make clear it was nonsense. I said there was no way we could deny Fiona was leaving, because she is. He was now very irritated by the whole thing, and when he was irritated with this kind of issue, he could become very irritating. It was as if this was all terrible for him when in fact they had created this madness by allowing her in so close. I gave the press office a line that Fiona had not left and that it was absurd to see this as some kind of power struggle with Carole, the usual flimflam. The problem was a number of journalists now already knew she was leaving. Philip was in the States and Georgia [Gould] needed a lift to the QPR vs Cardiff play-off finals at the Millennium Stadium, so I went down with her and Calum. She was a bit upset when they [QPR] lost, and we could see [Cardiff supporter] Neil [Kinnock] going crazy in the directors’ box. The Israeli Cabinet endorsed the road map, which dominated the news. TB said he found that even at weekends now, he was working pretty much all the time, and it never stopped.’

25 May 2004
‘47th birthday, and I was hoping that my resting pulse rate would be the same as, or lower than my age. I missed it by one - 48, which was still pretty bloody good. I spent most of the morning working on a speech for Qatar, and fixing to see Ian Botham at the Test Match in Leeds.’

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Father of modern taxonomy

Today marks the 310th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus, known as the father of modern taxonomy. He showed an aptitude for, and a great interest in, botany from an early age, and though he qualified as a physician, he is remembered most for his work on creating a modern system for the classification and naming of organisms. During his first expedition, when still only 25, to the north of Sweden to study the flora, fauna and natives of Lapland, he kept a detail journal - though there is little evidence that he kept a diary at other times in his life.

Linnaeus was born on 23 May 1707 in Råshult around 100km northwest of Malmo in southern Sweden. His father was a priest and an amateur botanist, (and he was the first in the family to take a surname, choosing Linnaeus, the Latin name for linden tree). Having been tutored at home until the age of 10, Carl was sent to school in Växjö, but is said to have preferred wandering the countryside looking for plants than to be in class. He studied classics and theology at Växjö Katedralskola from 1724, but Johan Rothman, a doctor and teacher, encouraged him towards botany. In 1727, he enrolled to study medicine in Lund university, Skåne, where Professor Kilian Stobæus, a natural scientist, helped him with tutoring and also gave him a place to lodge. After only a year, though, he was encouraged to continue his studies at Uppsala university.

Once in Uppsala, Linnaeus was taken in by another benefactor, Olof Celsius, a professor of theology who also happened to have one of the finest botanical libraries in the countries. The following year, 1729, Linnaeus wrote a thesis on plant sexual reproduction. This led Olof Rudbeck the Younger, professor of medicine, to invite him to lecture at the university, even though he was only a second year student, and to tutor his own children. In 1732, Linnaeus won a grant from the Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala to visit Lapland (searching for new plants, animals and information on the native Sami people) - Rudbeck had visited Lapland more than 40 years earlier, but all his notes and findings had been lost in a fire. Linnaeus’s expedition lasted six months, and led to him describing more than 100 previously unidentified plants - as detailed later in his book Flora Lapponica (1737).

In 1735, Linnaeus went to the Netherlands, where he finished, in a very short space of time, his medical degree at the University of Harderwijk before enrolling at the University of Leiden. That same year, he published the first edition of his new classification of living things, Systema Naturae; and in 1736, he travelled to England visiting many eminent scientists. He returned to Sweden in 1738, where he practiced medicine (specialising in the treatment of syphilis) and lectured in Stockholm. In 1739, he married Sara Elisabeth Moræa, and they would have seven children. In 1741, Linnaeus was awarded a professorship at Uppsala, and in time would restore and expand the botanical garden, arranging the plants according to his own classification system.

Linnaeus continued to revise and extend his Systema Naturae into a multi volume work. He inspired a generation of students, his ‘apostles’, who took part in expeditions all across the world - Daniel Solander, for example, was the naturalist on Captain James Cook’s first round-the-world voyage. Linnaeus himself took on three further expeditions in Sweden. He continued to published highly significant works, Flora Suecica and Fauna Suecica in 1745); Philosophia Botanica (in 1751) with a complete survey of his taxonomy system as well as information on how to keep a travel journal; and Species Plantarum (in 1753), a huge work describing over 1,300 species. In 1750, he was appointed rector of Uppsala university.

In 1758, Linnaeus bought the manor estate of Hammarby, outside Uppsala, where he built a small museum. The same year also saw the tenth edition of Systema Naturae. In 1761, he was ennobled and took the name Carl von Linné. He continued teaching and writing, and even practising medicine, as physician to the Swedish royal family. His latter years, though, were marked by ill health. He died in 1778. When his son, Carl the Younger, also died, five years later with no heirs, Linnaeus’s library, manuscripts and collections were all sold to the English natural historian Sir James Edward Smith, who founded the Linnean Society in London. Further information on Linnaeus can be found at Wikipedia or the websites of The Linnean Society, The Linnaean Correspondence, Uppsala University and the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

Given that Linnaeus published his own instruction on how others should keep travel journals (in Philosophia Botanica), it seems likely he kept such journals on all his expeditions. However, as far as I can tell from online research, only two of these have ever been published in English. The most significant is the diary of his youthful expedition to Lapland,
 as edited by James Edward Smith and published in two volumes in 1811 as Lachesis Lapponica; or, A tour in Lapland, now first published from the original manuscript journal of the celebrated Linnaeus. The work is freely available to read online at Internet Archive (vol. 1 and vol 2.). Much more recently (2007), GotlandsBoken has published Linnaeus in Gotland: from the Diary at Linnean Society, London, to present-day Gotland by Marita Jonsson.

Somewhat confusingly, ‘Linnaeus’s diary’ is often quoted by other writers, but more often than not they are referring not to a diary per se but to a text, written by Linnaeus himself (probably in 1762), cataloguing the events of his life. This was published in 1805 (by J Mawman) in Richard Pulteney’s book: A General View of the Writings of Linnaeus. The Second Edition With Corrections, Considerable Additions and Memoirs of the Authur - To which is Annexed the Diary of Linnaeus Written by Himself and Now Translated Into English, from the Swedish Manuscript in the Possession of the Editor. In his preface, Pulteney gives a provenance for the so-called diary, and quotes from a letter by Linnaeus’s son, who says the text was dictated, ‘with all the ingenuous simplicity of Linné, and in some places interlined and corrected by himself. It is certainly the only Life of him wholly composed by himself, and of course the most interesting and worthy to be published of all the other papers.’ The book (including the ‘diary’) can be read online at Internet Archive and Googlebooks.

Here, though, are several extracts from the real diary Linnaeus kept while on expedition through Lapland, taken from Lachesis Lapponica.

13 May 1732
‘Here the Yew (Taxusbaccata) grows wild. The inhabitants call it Id or Idegran.

The forest abounded with the Yellow Anemone (Anemone ranunculoides), which many people consider as differing from that genus. One would suppose they had never seen an Anemone at all. Here also grew Hepatica (Anemone Hepatica) and Wood Sorrel (Oxalis Acetosella). Their blossoms were all closed. Who has endowed plants with intelligence, to shut themselves up at the approach of rain? Even when the weather changes in a moment from sunshine to rain, though before expanded, they immediately close. Here for the first time this season I heard the Cuckoo, a welcome harbinger of summer.

Having often been told of the cataract of Elf-Carleby, I thought it worth while to go a little out of my way to see it; especially as I could hear it from the road, and saw the vapour of its foam, rising like the smoke of a chimney. On arriving at the spot, I perceived the river to be divided into three channels by a huge rock, placed by the hand of Nature in the middle of its course. The water, in the nearest of these channels, falls from a height of twelve or fifteen ells, so that its white foam and spray are thrown as high as two ells into the air, and the whole at a distance appears like a continual smoke. On this branch of the cascade stands a saw-mill. The man employed in it had a pallid countenance, but he did not complain of his situation so much as I should have expected.

It is impossible to examine the nature of the inaccessible black rock over which the water precipitates itself.

Below this cataract is a salmon fishery. A square net, made of wicker work, placed at the height of an ell above the water, is so constructed that the salmon when once caught cannot afterwards escape.

Oak trees grow on the summits of the surrounding rocks. At first it seems inconceivable how they should obtain nourishment; but the vapours are collected by the hills above, and trickle down in streams to their roots.

In the valleys among these hills I picked up shells remarkable for the acuteness of their spiral points. Here also grew a rare Moss of a sulphur-green colour.

From hence I hastened to the town of Elf-Carleby, which is divided into two parts by the large river, whose source is at Lexan in Dalecarlia. The largest portion of the town stands on the southern side, and contains numerous shops, occupied only during the fairs occasionally kept at this place.

I crossed the river by a ferry, where it is about two gun-shots wide. The ferryman never fails to ask every traveller for his passport, or license to travel. At first sight this man reminded me of Rudbeck’s Charon, whom he very much resembled, except that he was not so aged. We passed the small island described by that author as having been separated from the main land in the reign of king John III. It is now at a considerable distance from the shore, the force of the current rendering the intermediate channel, as Rudbeck observes, every year wider. The base of the island is a rock. Only one tree was now to be seen upon it.

The northern bank of the river is nearly perpendicular. I wondered to see it so neat and even, which may probably be owing to a mixture of clay in the sand; or perhaps it may have been smoothed by art. Horizontal lines marked the yearly progress of the water. The sun shone upon us this morning, but was soon followed by rain. 
Elf-Carleby is two miles and a half further. On its north side are several sepulchral mounds.

Here for the first time I beheld, what at least I had never before met with in our northern regions, the Pulsatilla apii folio (Anemone vernalis), the leaves of which, furnished with long footstalks, had two pair of leaflets besides the terminal one, everyone of them cut halfway into four, six or eight segments. The calyx, if I may be allowed so to call it, was placed about the middle of the stalk, and was cut into numerous very narrow divisions, smooth within, very hairy without. Petals six, oblong; the outermost excessively hairy and purplish; the innermost more purple and less hairy; all of them white on the inside, with purple veins. Stamens numerous and very short. Pistils cohering in a cylindrical form, longer than the stamens, and about half as long as the petals.

We had variable weather, with alternate rain and sunshine.

A mile from Elf-Carleby are iron works called Härnäs. The ore is partly brought from Danemora in Roslagen, partly from Engsiö in Sudermannia. These works were burnt down by the Russians, but have since been repaired.

Here runs the river which divides the provinces of Upland and Gestrickland. The soil hereabouts is for the most part clayey. In the forests it is composed of sand (Arena mobilis and A. Glarea). The post-houses or inns are dreadfully bad. Very few hills or lakes are to be met with in Upland. When I had passed the limits of these provinces, I observed a few oak trees only in the district of Medelpad.

The forests became more and more hilly and stony, and abounded with the different species of Winter-green (Pyrolae).

All along the road the stones were in general of a white and dark-coloured granite.

I noticed great abundance of the Rose Willow (Salix Helix), which had lost all its leaves of the preceding season, except such as composed rosaceous excrescences at the summits of its branches, and which looked like the calyx of the Carthamus (Safflower), only their colour was gone.

Near Gefle stands a Runic monumental stone, rather more legible than usual, and on that account more taken care of.

I noticed a kind of stage to dry corn and pease on, formed of perpendicular posts with transverse beams. It was eight ells in height. Such are used throughout the northern provinces, as Helsingland, Medelpad, Angermanland, and Westbothland.’

15 June 1732
‘This day afforded me nothing much worthy of notice. The sea in many places came very near the road, lashing the stony crags with its formidable waves. In some parts it gradually separated small islands here and there from the main land, and in others manured the sandy beach with mud. The weather was fine.

In one marshy spot grew what is probably a variety of the Cranberry (Vaccinium Oxycoccus), differing only in having extremely narrow leaves, with smaller flowers and fruit than usual. The common kind was intermixed with it, but the difference of size was constant. The Pinguicula grew among them, sometimes with round, sometimes with more oblong leaves.

The Bilberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus) presented itself most commonly with red flowers, more rarely with flesh-coloured ones. Myrica Gale, which I had not before met with in Westbothnia, grew sparingly in the marshes.

In the evening, a little before the sun went down, I was assailed by such multitudes of gnats as surpass all imagination. They seemed to occupy the whole atmosphere, especially when I travelled through low or damp meadows. They filled my mouth, nose and eyes, for they took no pains to get out of my way. Luckily they did not attack me with their bites or stings, though they almost choked me. When I grasped at the cloud before me, my hands were filled with myriads of these insects, all crushed to pieces with a touch, and by far too minute for description. The inhabitants call them Knort, or Knott, (Culex reptans, by mistake called C. pulicaris in Fl. Lapp. ed. 2. 382.)

Just at sunset I reached the town of Old Pithoea, having previously crossed a broad river in a ferry boat. Near this spot stood a gibbet, with a couple of wheels, on which lay the bodies of two Finlanders without heads. These men had been executed for highway robbery and murder. They were accompanied by the quartered body of a Laplander, who had murdered one of his relations.

Immediately on entering the town I procured a lodging, but had not been long in bed before I perceived a glare of light on the wall of my chamber. I was alarmed with the idea of fire; but, on looking out of the window, saw the sun rising, perfectly red, which I did not expect would take place so soon. The cock crowed, the birds began to sing, and sleep was banished from my eyelids.’

17 July 1732
‘In the morning we arrived at the abode of Mr. Kock, the under bailiff, where I could not but admire the fairness of the bodies of these dark-faced people, which rivalled that of any lady whatever.

Here I saw some Leming Rats, called in Lapland Lummick. The body of these animals is grey; face and shoulders black; the loins blackish; tail, as well as ears, very short. They feed on grass and reindeer-moss (Lichen rangiferinus), and are not eatable. They live, for the most part, in the alps; but in some years thousands of them come down into the woodland countries, passing right over lakes, bogs, and marshes, by which great numbers perish. They are by no means timid, but look out, from their holes, at passengers, like a dog. They bring forth five or six at a birth. Their burrows are about half a quarter (of an ell ?) deep.

Here I found the little Gentian, or Centaury, with a hyacinthine flower in five notched segments (Gentiana nivalis).’

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Fortescues go to Bath

‘This has been a terrible wet day. Doctr Fraser was here, Fortescue has got a cough which he (Fraser) says will prevent his beginning the waters as soon as he otherways woud. We dined hearty & thank God are except him all well. No lodgings yet fix’d on so we are to pass this night here.’ This is Marianne Fortescue, born all of a quarter of a millenium ago today, writing in her diary about a tour from Ireland to Bath so that her husband, Matthew, could take the waters in the hope of a cure for gout. Although the Fortescue family had a long history in County Louth, and although the estate house built by Matthew, Stephenstown House still exists as a picturesque ruin, there is very little information available online about Marianne. Indeed, most of what we know about Marianne and Matthew comes from Marianne’s diary.

Marianne (Mary Anne) Fortescue, born on 17 May 1767, was the daughter of John McClintock, of County Louth, Ireland, MP for Enniskillen and Belturbet. On New Year’s Day 1787, she married Matthew Fortescue, a descendant of Faithfull Fortescue who had acquired lands after his Ireland adventures in the 17th century. The Fortescues had a house in Dublin and were there when the rebellion of 1798 broke out. Matthew also had built Stephenstown House in Louth in 1785 (which remained in the Fortescue family until the 1970s, though it fell into ruin in the 1980s - see Abandoned Ireland for photos). They had four children, according to the Fortescue Family Genealogy website. Marianne died in 1849.

The only reason Marianne is remembered today is because of a diary that she kept for some periods of her life. According to History of Knockbridge by Padraig O’Neill (1994) (extracts can be found at the Fortescue Family Genealogy website): ‘[In the diaries,] she gives details of life in Stephenstown, the rounds of parties and the visitors who were constantly coming and going. In that year she also gives an account of a journey she made with her husband to Bath because he suffered from gout. At that time it was a long coach journey to Dublin where they stayed until the weather and conditions at sea facilitated passage to England. She describes her journey through England - the wonderful bridges, tremendous hills, acqueducts and the Welsh ale. She also mentions seeing the coal-pits and a visit to Worcester where she described the china manufacture. She describes the treatment her husband received at the spa. The journey home from Bath to Stephenstown took three full days. She was in Dublin when the rising of 1798 took place and gives an account of the losses on both sides which were very exaggerated. She says that the North has remained calm and she returned to Stephenstown. There are many references to Lisrenny and Corbollis and dancing in Dundalk until four in the morning. In 1798 she states that the gentlemen at the county meeting in Louth were all unanimous against the Union. She gives a graphic description of a tragedy at sea when Captain Morton's vessel was wrecked at Haggardstown and all on board perished.’

Only two periods of her diary seem to be extant: 1797-1800 and 1816-1818. Very brief extracts can be found in Diaries of Ireland edited by Melosina Lenox-Conynghim (The Lilliput Press, 1998) - see Amazon for a preview. However, the diaries, as edited by Noel Ross, have also been published in full in the Journal of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society (available online at JSTOR, preview available, log-in required): Vol. 24 No. 2 (1998), Vol. 24 No. 3 (1999), Vol. 24 No. 4 (2000), Vol. 25 No. 2 (2002). Ross claims in his introduction that the diaries are important ‘as a local social document’. Here are several extracts concerning the Fortescues journey to Bath.

21 October 1797
‘We breakfasted & dined at the same hotel & at six o’clock in the eve’g all set out in a coach to go to Pier Head to Mr S. Page as we heard the Leister packet was to sail at twelve o’clock. We drank tea & supp’d with him. The children lay on a bed there from eight o’clock untill they were waked to go on board, which we all did at about half past twelve. It was a very dark, rainy, windy night. I was not the least bit frighten’d & remain’d quite free from sickness untill about five o’clock on Sunday morn’g the 22d. I was quite delighted between eight & nine at the sight of Holy Head. We had a very rough passage, every thing in the ship falling about & the waves dashing over us every moment. When we came to anchor we all got into the boat to get up to Jacksons House; it was raining very heavy on us, but we did not think much of that, as I was so delighted to get on shore We all breakfasted there and were very much delay’d after as we did not get off from that untill two o’clock.’

22 October 1797
‘Bangor. Here we arrived at eight o’clock in the eve’g. got very safely over the ferry & eat our dinner & all are well. We intend sleeping here.’

23 October 1797
‘Conway. A fine day. We breakfasted this morn’g at Bangor, the harpur was playing all the time. I liked it vastly & think the place very pretty. In comeing here we came over two dreadful! hills. Penmont Muir & Penmont Ross, the road was very rough. I walk’d up the first mention’d hill as I thought it quite tremendous. We came a short journey this day, only 17½ miles. There is a very beautiful old castle here which we walk’d out to see. Fortescue felt fatigued so we dined early, and will soon go to rest for this night.’

24 October 1797
‘Llangollen. A fine day. We breakfasted at eight o’clock this morn’g at Conway and arrived here at past six this eve’g. We came about forty six miles, about Llanwrst is wonderfully beautifull & hilly. We only pass’d thro’ it & had a superb view along the road for about six or seven miles, then it was excessive ugly to Kernioge. Between that & Corwen there was some parts beautifull and a most wonderfull high bridge & a tremendous hill. From Corwen to this place was truly beautifull, the road ran mostly along the banks of the Dee, and some places look’d quite dangerous as the bank was nearly perpendicular and above 200 feet above the river. Here we are to sleep & have dined. I like the Welsh ale. It threatens to rain this night heavy.’

25 October 1797
‘Shrewsbury. We left Llangollen at half past eight this morn’g & a very wet one it was. We got to Oswestry to breakfast at eleven. Between Llangollen and Oswestry there is a fine place of Mr Middletons Chirk Castle ’tis called & a very nice town just near it call’d Chirk. We pass’d two acqueducts & great canal works & had a view of the River Dee about half way, ’twas altogether excessively pretty. We left Oswestry a little past twelve & arrived here before four o’clock. We pass’d a beautifull rock at Nescliff, there were only a few cabins near it. We have only travell’d thirty miles this day. Fortescue complains of being a little tired. We have dined & are to sleep here.’

26 October 1797
‘Kidderminster. We left Shrewsbury at a quarter past eight, Fortescue not very well. The road from it to Cole brook dale is quite beautifull. It was so foggy a morning that we could not see much of Shrewsbury. It soon clear’d up & was very fine. There is a new iron bridge only about one month finish’d within a mile of Cole brook dale. It is amazelingly light looking, only one arch, it is pannell’d. The old one is very curious & handsome. Altogether ’tis a delightfull place. A vast quantity of wood along the road at one side & at t’other a river. We breakfasted at C.B. dale & left it a little after eleven. There is a tremendous hill just after passing the bridge & on top of it there are great iron works & coal pits. The next place we came to was Bridge North, it is a large town & an old castle leaning quite crooked, it suffer’d by Oliver Cromwell. We left that at two and arrived here at half past four. It is a very good looking town and a carpet manufacture carried on in imitation of Turkey. Here we dined & are to sleep. The bells have been ringing all the eve’g.’

27 October 1797
‘Gloucester. We left Kidderminster early this morn’g. It was very foggy but grew very fine before we got to Worcester. We were very much entertain’d walking about & looking at the china manufacture which is amazingly curious. We saw all the different processes & were much delighted with it - and the town is a very nice one. We saw some of the most beautifull china I ever beheld, one dinner sett came to 900 gs. We went into the Town Hall which is a great old building with pictures of kings & queens. We pass’d three hours in seeing all that & eating breakfast. We left that at half past one & drove to Tukesbury in a very short time. It seem’d a large town but made no delay there and only changed horses & came on here. There is an exceeding curious looking old church which we perceived out of the bed room window. We are to sleep here & have dined, we had stew’d lampreys, stakes & chops, the first mention’d dish has made me very sick.’

28 October 1797
‘Bath. We left Glocester this (very charming) morn’g a little after eight. We breakfasted at Rodboro’ at ten, it is a delightfull place, the country quite beautifull. There is a great manufacture carried on there of cloth & casimere, it look’d gay as possible & every soul seem’d busy. Nailsworth a place just near it is also delightfull. We left that before eleven and drove to Petty France which seem’d a poor little ugly place. The Duke of Beauforts Demesne just joins it, what we coud see of that over the wall appear’d handsome & grand plantations. We got chaises there and arrived here at half past three, we have eat our dinner at the White Lyon in Market Place. Fortescue consulted little Spry, he advised him to see Doctr Fraser. We intend sleeping here.’

29 October 1797
‘This has been a terrible wet day. Doctr Fraser was here, Fortescue has got a cough which he (Fraser) says will prevent his beginning the waters as soon as he otherways woud. We dined hearty & thank God are except him all well. No lodgings yet fix’d on so we are to pass this night here.’

6 November 1797
‘Fortescue has had no sympton this day of gout, however he seems a little better. He sat up till nine, but has not eat any meat these three or four days past. Matt seems still a little feverish. Anna & I are pretty well. We quit our lodgings in Argyle Buildings at about two o’clock this day & came to No. 7 Milsom Street & are very comfortably fix’d. Fanny dined with us: this day has been very fine. Fortescue went at one to the Pump Room in a chair & took a glass of water.’

9 November 1797
‘Fortescue is this day infinitely better, he got up early, so did I and walk’d to the Pump Room. There were not many there tho’ an uncommon fine day. He drank a glass of water & we were home at half past nine to breakfast. He has eat much heartier & I am in great hopes he is now in a fair way of recovering. He dined at home. J.F. & I dined at Mrs Fosters, there were just eight of us at dinner & about thirty came to cards in the eve’g. Jack came home to Fortescue before nine. I did not untill ten o’clock.’

10 November 1797
‘This has been a delightfull day. Fortescue is amazing well, he went before breakfast for his glass of water, eat his breakfast hearty after. Fanny call’d on me to walk. We all set out together, he & Jack went to market. Fanny & I to divert ourselves. We walk’d for a long time & went thro’ the Abbey Church which I liked very much. We dined before four. Fanny stay’d with us.’

13 November 1797
‘Nothing new this day. Fortescue certainly has got the gout in his foot, he has been in a good deal of pain. He went before breakfast to the Pumps in a chair & again at one o’clock. It has been a fine sunny day. it did not however tempt me out. The children & I are pretty well. I finish’d the Man of Destiny.’

16 November 1797
‘Fortescue vastly better this day but not quite free from gout, however no headache. It has rain’d & is a dirty day. I work’d & read all the morning & finish’d a long letter to my mother. & also finish’d Bridon’s Tour & was much entertain’d.’

25 December 1797
‘This has been a fine day but a great fog in the morning. I went to the Abbey Church & came home directly after. Fortescue has felt this day as if he had got cold, my head is not quite well yet. I got a letter from Eliza.’

30 December 1797
‘Another very Fine day. I have been idleing about all this day also, my cold still bad so did not stir this eve’g. Fortescue & the children are very well.’

The Diary Junction