Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Finished my first song

‘Founder’s Day. Practised the organ after 10. In the middle of my practice St. Mark’s choir appeared to practise the hymn and chants for this morning; and consequently, to my disgust, turned me out. Wrote music all after 6. Finished my first song, “Fair is my love.” ’ This is the British composer and musical historian Hubert Parry writing in his diary when still an Eton schoolboy aged but 16. Parry, born 170 years ago today, kept a diary throughout his life, but the only published extracts are a selection that appeared in the Eton College magazine, and a few that have been quoted by biographers.

Parry was born on 27 February 1848 in Bournemouth on the south coast of England, but his mother died of consumption 12 days later. He grew up with two siblings (Clinton and Lucy) at the country estate, Highnam Court, Gloucestershire, purchased by his father, Thomas, with inherited money. Thomas subsequently remarried and had six more children. Hubert’s musical ability was first encouraged at preparatory schools, and then, after he had started at Eton, by George Elvey, organist at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. While still at Eton he passed the Oxford Bachelor of Music examination, and was the youngest person ever to have done so. He read law and modern history at Exeter College, Oxford, so as to comply with his father’s wishes of entering a commercial career.

In 1870, Parry took up a position at Lloyds as an underwriter, though continued his musical studies (specifically with the pianist Edward Dannreuther) and composing along side the day job. In 1872, he married Elizabeth Maude Herbert, and they had two daughters. From 1875, he began contributing articles for George Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (the first volume of which was published in 1879). Parry gave up commercial work in 1877, and his first major musical works - including a piano concerto and Scenes from Prometheus Unbound - appeared in 1880. Within a few years, he became well established as a composer (with, for example, his ode Blest Pair of Sirens and choral works and oratorios Judith and Job) and was increasingly seen as a musical scholar, influential in the revival of English music.

Parry was appointed festival conductor for the University of Oxford in 1883, and he joined the staff of the Royal College of Music, London, becoming its director in 1894. During his term as head, the college’s pupils included Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, and Frank Bridge. Following the death of Parry’s stepmother in 1896, he succeeded to the family estate at Highnam. He was knighted in 1898 and created a baronet in 1903. From 1900 to 1908, he professor of music at Oxford, after which time he produced some of his best known works, such as Symphonic Fantasia 1912 and the Songs of Farewell. His best known piece is Jerusalem, a setting of William Blake’s poem And did those feet in ancient time, composed in 1916. He died of Spanish flu in 1918, and was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral. A little further information is available at Wikipedia, Classical Net, or Naxos, but there doesn’t appear to be any website, official or otherwise, dedicated to Parry and/or his work.

Parry started keeping a diary in his mid-teens, while still at Eton, and appears to have continued the habit throughout his life. A selection of his Eton diaries were published in the 1940s in three different editions of the Eton magazine, Etoniana, all of which can be read online thanks to the Eton College website (issues 103, 104, 105). Although the diaries have never been edited or published in their own right, they have been used extensively by biographers. Jeremy Dibble, professor of musicology at Durham University, includes many extracts from Parry’s diaries in his biography - C. Hubert H. Parry: His Life and Music, as does Michael Allis in Parry’s Creative Process (but currently neither of these can be previewed at Googlebooks). However King Arthur in Music, edited by Richard Barber, includes a chapter on Parry by Dibble, is viewable at Googlebooks and does also quote many diary extracts.

The following extracts - 
dated 1864-1865 - from Parry’s diary have been taken from Etoniana, and the rest - dated 1873-1892 - are extracted from the narrative of Dibble’s biography C. Hubert H. Parry: His Life and Music. The very first quotation (1851), however, is one found at the opening of Dibble’s book and is a poignant quote from the diary of Thomas Parry, Hubert’s father, written on Hubert’s third birthday.

27 February 1851
‘The next morning I went by Railroad to Bournemouth, which I reached at about half past five. This is my little Hubert’s Birthday - this day three years ago he was born in this place. This is a sweet place. There is a wild nature about the surrounding heathy plains studded here and there with dark groves of pinasters, which is quite different to anything I know in England. The high cliffs commanding an immensely wide seaview and not bare and barren. As the evening grew dusky I wandered out upon the open heath above the house where I last looked upon the beloved form of my incomparable Isabel. It was a beautiful evening, warm as June and bright with stars. Long and deep were the prayers I made on that wide open heath for my three children and myself. I called all to my recollection since that too happy day, just at this period of the year in 1839, (12 years ago) when I first made the acquaintance with my loved and now lost wife. How miserably ungrateful man’s blindness and infirmities make him! - me in particular.’

10 July 1864
‘In chapel in the afternoon, we had Mendelssohn’s “My God, my God,” which is peculiar, and very mournful. I couldn’t hear much because Mitchell quite spoilt it by playing loud, and I was quite close to the organ. I went to St. George’s afterwards. They had Luther’s hymn and Nares in F. I never heard Luther’s hymn so done before, it was quite tremendous, and if they hadn’t rather drowned the voices, it would have been magnificent.’

25 July 1864
‘I wrote out a part of a new air of mine which (I can’t conceive why) everybody here seems to have taken a fancy to.’

22 September 1864
‘I travelled up to London in pleasant company and had a smoke by the way, and got to Windsor without accident at about 5.30. I proceeded to order my piano and some music paper, etc., and now here I am sitting in my old room again; at the beginning of another half, having seen old friends, and old faces.’

27 October 1864
‘I played in the match First Six v. house in which we, the house, got well smacked in the most disgraceful way by the most abominable cheating mostly. All the six but Sturges, Thompson and Hamilton got in a most preposterous rage, and swore and shinned and Ady ma. sulked and played the football well, but the fool better, and made an ass of himself altogether.’

7 November 1864
‘After 4 I tried to get an hour for composing, but first a piano began opposite, and then a fellow came to clean my windows, and so I was also cleaned out of ideas for music, and all hopes of writing any to-day.’

8 November 1864
‘While I was sitting at dinner George suddenly told me that “Mr. Parry” was waiting to see me in my room. I went up and to my surprise and delight found Clin. [his brother] there, quietly smoking. We went to Balston who sent us to my tutor and I got leave till 7.30. We took a walk round the Playing Fields (after going to Brown’s and having an oyster patty apiece). . . . We then went to the Organ Room, and I showed Clin the organ. We then adjourned to the “Christopher” of ancient reputation, and indulged in cigars and brandy and water. We then got over the wall, alias paling, at the back of the aforesaid building and proceeded to kick about. We then went “up ” Windsor and got sme ox-tail soup, and then at the Castle settled down to whiskey punch. He and I afterwards parted near Windsor Bridge. . . I came down to Eton and finished my verses before 8.45.’

6 December 1864
‘Founder’s Day. Practised the organ after 10. In the middle of my practice St. Mark’s choir appeared to practise the hymn and chants for this morning; and consequently, to my disgust, turned me out. Wrote music all after 6. Finished my first song, “Fair is my love.” ’

11 February 1865
‘We had a most extraordinary exhibition in the music line in Chapel this afternoon I ever heard) in my life. First in the Psalms old Mitchell began wandering about on the keys, as if he had lost his place, and played1 thei chant wrong all the way through. Then when the Magnificat began it seemed as if he was gone quite mad. He began to play seemingly just whatever came into his head. The choir began to sing snatches of the Magnificat at intervals, trying to make out what he was doing; this went on in the most hopeful manner for full three minutes, till one of the choirmen (Adams) went and stopped him, and made him play a chant. The whole chapel was convulsed, it was useless to try and prevent it.’

11 November 1873
‘He [Edward Dannreuther] is a decided Radical in music, and goes in for the most advanced style and the most liberal interpretation of the old style. He teaches the pianoforte in a thoroughly radical way and dispenses with all the old dogmas of playing with the intention of obtaining the finest effect by any means. He goes to work thoroughly and has set me to work at Tausig’s hideous mechanical exercises, and one sonata to work at at a time. If the former don’t drive me mad or kill me, I should think he will do me a wonderful lot of good.’

December 1873
‘She [Lady Herbert] makes enough fuss about religion and goes to church enough to do for a dozen people . . . For my part I think a man more likely to have a really high moral standard and to be less tainted with the meaner vices of the age if he doesn’t go to church or make a fuss about his religion. However, the said High Church enthusiasts are saturated with religious sentimentalism and the theory that nothing is worth doing though even so heroic or unselfish an action if it is not done “through Jesus Christ” (whatever that may mean) that they are impregnable to the most commonplace arguments.

December 1873
‘A few days before I left London I sent Possie [his father] a statement (as short as I could make it) of my opinions, and history of them; explaining how I had come by them and reminding him that it was not of wilfulness or carelessness as he himself might know if he would. My reason for doing so was that he had often hinted to me his intention of leaving Highnam to me because Clin [his brother] had ‘thrown overboard his religion etc.’ So I told him that I had done the same, as gently as I could, in order that he might not do Clin an injustice through a false impression of me.’

13 January 1876
I wrote to her Ladyship the same day. And never was her singular character more clearly displayed. Instead of being pleased at Maudie’s being safe, she was miserable on receiving the news. Mary said she turned quite pale and then burst into tears. She wrote to me and said she was horribly mortified at not having been present. Not because she loves Maudie or to sympathize with her, but because she loves the excitement of it, and delights in retailing the horrors with unlimited exaggeration to everyone she meets . . . Mary said that when my letter arrived she read it out (ostensibly) to them at breakfast. . . She was furious with me and with Dr Black for not sending for her immediately, though Maudie had told her long ago that it would kill her to have her in the room during her confinement . . . The many other exasperating things which she did would fill volumes if they were set down. And through them all alike runs a vein of blind egotism. I never saw so clearly before how every action she does, even her great charities and her profuse generosity, is prompted by the lowest vanity and egotism. She seems to me utterly without heart or sympathy, or truthfulness and honesty. A creature whom only the customs of society, which she worships as her real God, keeps from any conceivable enormity.’

6 September 1881
‘She is the most extreme anti-Wagnerite I have yet come across. Every touch of him she feels with equal aversion; she is contemptuous both of his poetry, charm and music. We played the Brahms variations on the Schumann theme in E flat and when we got to the last one she said ‘I can’t bear this; it’s like Wagner’. ‘There, that ninth, it’s Lohengrin. I have got to detest the very sound of a ninth from him.’ After she said ‘It is impossible for anyone to like Brahms and Wagner.’ I demurred. She answered ‘Well Amateurs of course are different, but no professed musician can possibly accept the two. No man can serve two masters. They are so utterly opposed in harmonic principles, it’s not possible.’

8 June 1886
‘Hueffer’s libretto is unsurpassably bad. Structures all obviously borrowed from Tannhauser, Tristan or Flying Dutchman and invariably spoilt. The development of the plot depends on grimaces and unintelligible actions and drags fearfully and comes to no climaxes anywhere. There is no action in the first and 2nd acts, the latter of which simply comes to a stop when the curtain comes down . . . By the end of the performance, half the stalls were empty. There is some fine and effective scoring and some fine music here and there, but the general impression to me was hollow and rather meretricious . . . It seemed a complete failure, but as the book is Hueffer’s, the press will doubtless push it through and make the public think they ought to like it.’

13 August 1892
‘I went all over it again and revived the memories of that delightful time when Maude and I were there alone, many years ago. A time I like to look back to almost more than any in my life. It was so peaceful and happily contented. It’s funny though how I had forgotten the house and the lie of some of the rooms. But the garden - every inch of it - was perfectly familiar.’

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Who died the last week

‘The lady of George Bowes, esq., one of the knights of the shire for the county of Durham, was brought to bed of a daughter at his house in London. She was the only daughter of Thomas Gilbert, a merchant in London, and this was her first child after a marriage of six or seven years.’ This is the very first entry - written 270 years ago today - in the diary of one Thomas Gyll, a Durham lawyer. Very little is known of him, other that that contained in the rather impersonal diary - little more than a record of births, deaths and marriages kept for 30 years - published by the Surtees Society in Six North Country Diaries.

Gyll was born in 1700, the only son of Thomas Gyll who owned a patrimonial estate at Barton in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He was educated at Richmond School, and at Trinity Hall Cambridge, before entering Lincoln’s Inn and being called to the bar in 1725. He was appointed solicitor-general of the County Palatine of Durham in 1733, and recorder of the city of Durham in the year 1769. Other than work, he had a strong interest in history, archaeology and the fine arts. He never unmarried, and died in 1780. 

Gyll was buried in Barton, where there can be found the following inscription: ‘Near this wall is interred Thomas Gyll, esq., equally esteemed for his knowledge of the Common and Canon Law, and for his integrity in the practice of both. At the Bar, an advocate in the former, on the Bench a judge in the latter. Nor was he less distinguished for his accuracy in the history and antiquities of his country. By a steady discharge of the duties of his station, both in public and private life, and by a constant and devout attendance on the public worship, he was an example worthy of imitation. He died in his 80th year, 1780. To the memory of his truly valuable character, Leonard Hartley, his nephew and heir, placed this tablet.’

Gyll kept a diary for 30 years, from 1748 to 1778, though it is scarcely more than a brief and intermittent list of events, often enough these are the record of a death with a detail or two about the deceased. In 1910, the Surtees Society (dedicated to the publication of manuscripts illustrative of the history of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria) published Six North Country Diaries including all of Gyll’s extant diaries (several years are missing). J. C. Hodgson, in his preface, introduces Gyll as ‘a sagacious lawyer, whose pithy and analytical comments on Durham people and events are always decided’. Six North Country Diaries is freely available at Internet Archive, and Gyll’s diary can be found starting on page 169. Here are several extracts, including the first few and the last three.

24 February 1748
‘The lady of George Bowes, esq., one of the knights of the shire for the county of Durham, was brought to bed of a daughter at his house in London. She was the only daughter of Thomas Gilbert, a merchant in London, and this was her first child after a marriage of six or seven years.’

23 March 1748
‘The wife of Robert Spearman of Oldacres, near Sedgefield, esq., who died the last week at his house in Old Elvet, having lingered of a palsy, was this day buried with great funeral pomp in Bow church in Durham.

And the same day old Henry Pratt, the bell-ringer, was buried at St. Mary’s, South Bailey, aged near 90. He had formerly been coachman to Dean Comber.’

9 May 1748
‘Sir Ralph Milbank of Halnaby in Yorkshire, baronet, died at London in the 60th year of his age, and was some short time after buried with much funeral pomp in the family vault of Croft church. He left six sons by Ann, his wife, daughter of Edward Delaval of Dissington in Northumberland, esq.; and one daughter, Bridget, by his first wife, Elizabeth, sister to Robert, earl of Holderness, whose daughter was first married to Sir Butler Wentworth, baronet, and secondly to John Murray, esq., of the Isle of Man.’

28 January 1758
‘My friend, David Hilton, was struck with a fit of the palsy: after proper evacuations had a good night, but grew worse the next day and afterwards grew better.’

10 February 1758
‘My old friend, Thomas Garrard, esq., Common Serjeant of the city of London, died at his house in Hatton Garden. I have been much oblidged to him.’

16 March 1758
‘Died Dr. Thomas Sharp, prebendary of Durham and was buried in the Abbey on the 23rd. (Will dated 1 March, 1758, proved at York in April following.)’

11 April 1758
‘Rev. Thomas Drake, rector of Bow church, married to Jenny Clark. Sed prius dictum dedisse fertur.’

12 October 1757
‘Died at Barford in Yorkshire, Mr. John Croft, one of the greatest breeders of horses in the north, as was his father, John Croft, who had been a servant, in the Darcy family at Sedbury and afterwards farmed at Croft under Sir William Chaytor. His wife was an admirer of the diversion of cock-fighting and would bet her money freely.’

7 April 1778
‘Died at Croft, Francis Milbank, rector, after a lingering illness, a son of the first Sir Ralph Milbank; vinous, amator, sic fama volat; unmarried.’

2 August 1778
‘My sister, Hartley, died about 11 in the forenoon after a long confinement in bed, with as little struggle as possible, in the 82nd year of her age, and was buried privately as she desired, and was accordingly interred at Middleton.’

20 October 1778
‘Died at Durham, where he came for the benefit of the air, the Rev. Mr. Robinson, rector of Seaham. He married Alice, one of the daughters of Robert Hartley, formerly of Hartford, in the parish of Gilling, gent.’

The Diary Junction

Friday, February 23, 2018

Election of a president

‘May the blessing of God rest upon the event of this day! - the second Wednesday in February, when the election of a President of the United States for the term of four years, from the 4th of March next, was consummated. . . the House of Representatives immediately proceeded to the vote by ballot from the three highest candidates, when John Quincy Adams received the votes of thirteen, Andrew Jackson of seven, and William H. Crawford of four States. The election was thus completed, very unexpectedly, by a single ballot.’ This is John Quincy Adams - who died 170 years ago today - writing in his diary on the day he won the ballot to become the sixth president of the United States. His father, of course, another John Adams, had been the first ever US vice-president and then the second president - see A spirit to our honour.

Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1767, and while still young served as secretary to his father, then a diplomat, in Europe. He studied at Leiden University and Harvard, and trained as a lawyer. In 1789, his father became the US’s first vice-president (under George Washington), and 12 years later the country’s second president. At only 26 years of age, young Adams was appointed minister to the Netherlands, and then promoted to the Berlin legation. In 1797, he married Louisa Johnson and they had four children, though one died in infancy, and two died as young adults. In 1802, he was elected to the Senate. Six years later, President Madison appointed him Minister to Russia, a position he held until 1814, after which he served as an envoy to the UK for two years. Under President Monroe, Adams served as secretary of state, arranging with England for the joint occupation of Oregon, obtaining from Spain the cession of the Floridas, and helping formulate the Monroe Doctrine.

Adams was elected president in 1825. He sought to modernise the country, launching a programme to build highways and canals, to establish a national university, and to finance scientific expeditions. But he lost his 1928 bid for re-election to Andrew Jackson. Adams returned to Massachusetts planning to retire from politics, but in 1830 he ran for, and won, a seat in the House of Representatives (becoming the first of very few presidents who have sat in Congress). He was re-elected regularly (even though he changed from being a Republican to a Whig) and served on various committees. Indeed, he died - 
23 February 1848 - from a stroke suffered in the House. For further information see Wikipedia, The White House, The Miller Centre, Encyclopaedia Britannica, or Biography.com.

Adams kept a diary from the age of 12 throughout his life, amassing some 15,000 closely-written manuscript pages. The text of those pages was first edited by his son, Charles Francis Adams, and published in 12 volumes between 1874 and 1877 by J. B. Lippincott, as Memoirs of John Quincy. All volumes are freely available at Internet Archive. Charles Adams explains, in his preface, what ‘fair and honest’ rules he followed in selecting entries to be published: ‘1st. To eliminate the details of common life and events of no interest to the public. 2d. To reduce the moral and religious speculations, in which the work abounds, so far as to escape repetition of sentiments once declared. 3d. Not to suppress strictures upon contemporaries, but to give them only when they are upon public men acting in the same sphere with the writer. In point of fact, there are very few others. 4th. To suppress nothing of his own habits of self-examination, even when they might be thought most to tell against himself. 5th. To abstain altogether from modification of the sentiments or the very words, and substitution of what might seem better ones, in every case but that of obvious error in writing.’

Three-quarters of a century later, in 1951, Charles Scribner’s Sons issued an abridged one-volume version, edited by Allan Nevins, with the title The Diary of John Quincy Adams 1794-1845. This, too, is freely available at Internet Archive. Much more recently (2107), Library of America (LoA) has issued a fresh two-volume selected edition of the diaries (1779-1821, 1821-1848) as edited by David Waldstreicher. LoA calls Adams’ diary ‘one of the most extraordinary works in American literature’, and says ‘it is both an unrivaled record of historical events and personalities from the nation’s founding to the antebellum era and a masterpiece of American self-portraiture, tracing the spiritual, literary, and scientific interests of an exceptionally lively mind.’ It also presents selections for the first time that are based on ‘the original manuscript diaries, restoring personal and revealing passages suppressed in earlier editions’.

The following extracts are all taken from Nevin’s 1951 edition.

3 June 1794
‘Boston. When I returned to my lodgings at the close of the evening, upon opening a letter from my father, which I had just before taken from the postoffice I found that it contained information that Edmund Randolph, Secretary of State of the United States, had, on the morning of the day when the letter was dated, called on the writer, and told him that the President of the United States had determined to nominate me to go to the Hague as Resident Minister from the United States. This intelligence was very unexpected, and indeed surprising. I had laid down as a principle, that I never would solicit for any public office whatever, and from this determination no necessity has hitherto compelled me to swerve.’

9 December 1795
‘After the Levee was over I was introduced into the private closet of the King by Lord Grenville, and, presenting my credential Letter, said, “Sir, to testify to your Majesty the sincerity of the United States of America in their negotiations, their President has directed me to take the necessary measures connected with the ratifications of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation concluded between your Majesty and the United States. He has authorized me to deliver to your Majesty this letter, and I ask your Majesty’s permission to add, on their part, the assurance of the sincerity of their intentions.” He then said, “To give you my answer, Sir, I am very happy to have the assurances of their sincerity, for without that, you know, there would be no such thing as dealings among men.” He afterwards asked to which of the States I belonged, and on my answering, Massachusetts, he turned to Lord Grenville and said, “All the Adamses belong to Massachusetts?” To which Lord Grenville answered, they did. He enquired whether my father was now Governor of Massachuetts. I answered, “No, Sir; he is Vice President of the United States.” “Ay,” said he, “and he cannot hold both offices at the same time?” “No, Sir.” He asked where my father is now. “At Philadelphia, Sir, I presume, the Congress being now in session.” “When do they meet?” “The first week in December, Sir.” “ And where did you come from last?” “From Holland, Sir.” “You have been employed there?” “Yes, Sir, about a year.” “Have you been employed before, and anywhere else?” “ No, Sir.”

I then withdrew. Mr. Cottrell invited me to go and witness the ceremony of an address presented by the Bishop and Clergy of London, which was received upon the throne.’

8 March 1814
‘Dr. Galloway was here this morning, and prescribed for me a vial of Sacred Elixir. I am very unwell, and have strong symptoms of the jaundice; a lassitude which has almost, but not yet quite, suspended all my industry; a listlessness which, without extinguishing the love of life, affects the mind with the sentiment that life is nothing worth; an oppression at the heart, which, without being positive pain, is more distressing than pain itself. I still adhere, however, to my usual occupations. I feel nothing like the tediousness of time, suffer nothing like ennui. Time is too short for me, rather than too long. If the day were of forty-eight hours instead of twenty-four, I could employ them all, so I had but eyes and hands to read and write.’

4 February 1815
‘Paris. At a quarter-past four in the morning I took my departure from Gournay-sur-Aronde, and reached Pont Sainte Mayence, the second stage, just after daylight. On the starting from this stage, I found a bridge over the river Oise, which had been blown up last winter, and which they are now rebuilding. This was the first and only trace of injury to the country from the late war that I perceived on the road. The bridge is already sufficiently restored for foot-passengers, but not for carriages. I crossed it myself, and waited on the south side of it for my carriage, which went over in a ferry-boat, about two hundred yards below. I met on the Paris side of the bridge a miller, who told me that the bridge had been blown up to stop the Cossacks.’

10 July 1818
‘Had an interview at the office with Hyde de Neuville, the French Minister - all upon our affairs with Spain. He says that Spain will cede the Floridas to the United States, and let the lands go for the indemnities due to our citizens, and he urged that we should take the Sabine for the western boundary, which I told him was impossible. He urged this subject very strenuously for more than an hour. As to Onis’s note of invective against General Jackson, which I told him as a good friend to Onis he should advise him to take back, he said I need not answer it for a month or two, perhaps not at all, if in the meantime we could come to an arrangement of the other differences.’

17 July 1818
‘Cabinet meeting at the President’s - the discussion continued upon the answer to be given to Onis, and the restoration of Florida to Spain. The weakness and palsy of my right hand make it impossible for me to report this discussion, in which I continue to oppose the unanimous opinions of the President, the Secretary of the Treasury Crawford, the Secretary of War Calhoun, and the Attorney-General Wirt. I have thought that the whole conduct of General Jackson was justifiable under his orders, although he certainly had none to take any Spanish fort. My principle is that everything he did was defensive; that as such it was neither war against Spain nor violation of the Constitution.’

9 February 1821
‘May the blessing of God rest upon the event of this day! - the second Wednesday in February, when the election of a President of the United States for the term of four years, from the 4th of March next, was consummated. Of the votes in the electoral colleges, there were ninety-nine for Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee; eighty-four for John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts; forty-one for William Harris Crawford, of Georgia; and thirty-seven for Henry Clay, of Kentucky: in all, two hundred and sixty-one. This result having been announced, on opening and counting the votes in joint meeting of the two Houses, the House of Representatives immediately proceeded to the vote by ballot from the three highest candidates, when John Quincy Adams received the votes of thirteen, Andrew Jackson of seven, and William H. Crawford of four States. The election was thus completed, very unexpectedly, by a single ballot. Alexander H. Everett gave me the first notice, both of the issue of the votes of the electoral colleges as announced in the joint meeting, and of the final vote as declared. Wyer followed him a few minutes afterwards. Mr. Bolton and Mr. Thomas, the Naval Architect, succeeded; and B. W. Crowninshield, calling, on his return from the House to his lodgings, at my house, confirmed the report.

Congratulations from several of the officers of the Department of State ensued - from D. Brent, G. Ironside, W. Slade, and Joseas W. King. Those of my wife, children, and family were cordial and affecting, and I received an affectionate note from Mr. Rufus King, of New York, written in the Senate-chamber after the event. . .

After dinner, the Russian Minister, Baron Tuyll called to congratulate me upon the issue of the election. I attended, with Mrs. Adams, the drawing-room at the President’s. It was crowded to overflowing. General Jackson was there, and we shook hands. He was altogether placid and courteous. I received numerous friendly salutations. D. Webster asked me when I could receive the committee of the House to announce to me my election. I appointed to-morrow noon, at my own house.’

5 December 1837
‘The House at noon was called to order. . . Van Buren’s message gave me a fit of melancholy for the future fortunes of the republic. Cunning and duplicity pervade every line of it. The sacrifice of the rights or Northern freedom to slavery and the South, and the purchase of the West by the plunder of the public lands, is the combined system which it discloses. It is the system of Jackson’s message of December, 1832, covered with a new coat of varnish.’

17 April 1840
‘A dark-colored mulatto man, named Joseph Cartwright, a preacher of a colored Methodist church, came this morning with a subscription book to raise $450 to purchase the freedom of his three grandchildren - two girls and one boy, all under three or four years of age. He told me that he had been upwards of twenty years in purchasing his own freedom and that of his three sons; that after this, Henry Johnson, late a member of the House of Representatives from Louisiana, had bought his son’s wife and her three children, with many other slaves, to carry them away to Louisiana; that after the purchase he had been prevailed upon to consent to leave them here for a short time in the charge of a man to whom he had ostensibly sold them, but with the consent that this Joseph Cartwright should purchase them for $1,025. He had actually purchased and paid for the mother, and was now endeavoring to raise $450 for the three children. There were in the subscription book certificates of two white Methodist ministers, Hamilton and Cookman, to the respectability of this man - a preacher of the gospel I What a horrible exemplification of slavery!’

5 April 1841
‘The corpse of the late President Harrison was laid out, in a plain coffin covered with black velvet, on a table in the middle of the entrance hall at the President’s house. At two p.m., I went, with my wife and Mrs. Smith, and took a last look at the face of the patriot warrior, taken away thus providentially from the evil to come.’

6 April 1841
‘The Vice-President, John Tyler of Virginia, arrived here at five o’clock this morning, and took lodgings at Brown’s Hotel. At noon, the heads of departments waited upon him. He requested them all to continue in their offices, and took the official oath of President of the United States, which was administered to him by William Cranch, Chief Justice of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia. The Judge certifies that although Mr. Tyler deems himself qualified to perform the duties and exercise the powers and office of President, on the death of President Harrison, without any other oath than that which he had taken as Vice-President, yet as doubts might arise, and for greater caution, he had taken and subscribed the present oath.’

The Diary Junction

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cotton Mather, You Dog

‘Towards three a Clock in the Night, as it grew towards Morning of this Day, some unknown Hands, threw a fired Granado into the Chamber where my Kinsman lay . . . the Fuse was violently shaken out upon the Floor, without firing the Granado. When the Granado was taken up, there was found a Paper so tied with String about the Fuse, that it might out-Live the breaking of the Shell, which had these words in it; Cotton Mather, You Dog, Dam you: I’ll inoculate you with this, with a Pox to you.’ This is taken from the diary of the Puritan minister Cotton Mather who died 290 years ago today. He was a prolific and influential writer - his diary details exhaustive daily devotions as well as fearful instruction of his children - who was both a believer in old customs (such as witchcraft) and the application of scientific knowledge (for example, inoculation against diseases such as smallpox).

Mather was born in Boston in 1663 into a prominent family of Puritan ministers. He entered Harvard aged only 12, having sufficient knowledge already of Latin and Greek, and received his M.A.(from the hands of his father, who was president of the college) aged 18. He was formally ordained in 1685, becoming a colleague of his father at North Church, Boston. There he served as pastor in his father’s absences and after his father’s death in 1723. He was a prolific writer, and was well known for his books, such as Magnalia Christi Americana (1702) a miscellany of materials on the ecclesiastical history of New England. Mather became a highly influential religious leader, and he set Puritan standards for several generations to come. He was a friend of some of the judges charged with hearing the Salem witch trials. Moreover, he was an ambassador for the colony’s interests at the courts of James II and William III when its original charter was being renegotiated. He also had some influence in science, having conducted experiments with plant hybridisation and supported smallpox inoculation, and was elected a member of the Royal Society in London. He married thrice and fathered at least 15 children, although only two survived him. He died on 13 February 1728. Further information can be found at Wikipedia, The Mather Project or Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Mather kept a diary all his adult life, but only parts of it survived through to the 20th century when it was published, for the first time, by the Massachusetts Historical Society (in two volumes) with a preface by Worthington Chauncey Ford. Both volumes are freely available at Internet Archive: one (1681-1708) and two (1709 - 1724). According to Ford, Mather’s diary is of value as ‘the record of a man of peculiar attainments, as a bibliography of a very prolific compiler and publisher, and, most of all as an important contribution to the history of the Congregational Church in Massachusetts.’ In his preface, Ford provides some details on the diary itself.

‘So far as it has been preserved, this Diary is now printed for the first time. It is far from complete, and the record for some of the most important years of the diarist’s life has been lost or destroyed. It is an account edited by himself, and comprises therefore only what he wished to have preserved for the benefit of his children. Such care also precludes the idea that Mather was not preparing a calendar of events and a record of feelings for posterity, and therefore for publication. Enough of the Diary, perhaps more than enough, remains to develop and illustrate his career, and to enable the reader to measure the man in his intentions and in his actions. While describing these he has prepared, not consciously, the material for a better comprehension of the position of church affairs in Massachusetts during his ministrations.’

The bulk of the diary is taken up by a record of the writer’s devotions and religious affairs, but in between these it does also contain many personal and social details as well. Here are several extracts, mostly from the first volume, but with the last two taken from the second volume.

11 October 1696
‘A Great Storm seem’d breeding in the Weather; but being in Distress about my Journey, I wholly left it with my Lord Jesus Christ. So I undertook my Journey to Salem, and the storm strangely held off, till my Return, which was above a week after.’

12 February 1697
‘Friday. Being this Day thirty four Years old, I sett apart this Day, for a Thanksgiving, to bee offered unto God, in my Retirements; from a sense of the great Obligations unto Thankfulness which my Life, hath now, for thirty four Years together, been filled withal.

In the former Part of the Day, tho’ I mett with much Interruption, by Company that visited mee, I did several Things, to express my Praises unto God in my Lord Jesus Christ.

I paraphrased, improved and applied, the whole Hundred and Third Psalms, on my Knees before the Lord.

I deliberately read over a Catalogue of the Divine Dispensations towards mee from the Beginning; particularly Blessing of God, on each Article.

I distinctly perused, what I have recorded, in the Year past; with grateful Reflections on each Paragraph.

And I sang such Things as were suitable.’

7 November 1697
‘Lords-Day. I took my little Daughter, Katy, into my Study; and there I told my Child, that I am to dy shortly, and shee must, when I am Dead, Remember every Thing, that I said unto her.

I sett before her, the sinful and woful Condition of her Nature, and I charg’d her, to pray in secret Places, every Day, without ceasing, that God for the Sake of Jesus Christ would give her a New Heart, and pardon Her Sins, and make her a Servant of His.

I gave her to understand, that when I am taken from her, shee must look to meet with more humbling Afflictions than shee does, now shee has a careful and a tender Father to provide for her; but, if shee would pray constantly, God in the Lord Jesus Christ, would bee a Father to her, and make all Afflictions work together for her Good.

I signified unto her, That the People of God, would much observe how shee carried herself, and that I had written a Book, about, Ungodly Children, in the Conclusion whereof I say, that this Book will bee a terrible Witness against my own Children, if any of them should not bee Godly.

At length, with many Tears, both on my Part, and hers, I told my Child, that God had from Heaven assured mee, and the good Angels of God had satisfied mee, that shee shall bee brought Home unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and bee one of His forever. I bid her use this, as an Encouragement unto her Supplications unto the Lord, for His Grace. But I therewithal told her, that if shee did not now, in her Childhood seek the Lord, and give herself up unto Him, some dreadful Afflictions must befal her, that so her Father’s Faith, may come at its Accomplishments.

I thereupon made the Child kneel down by mee; and I poured out my Cries unto the Lord, that Hee would lay His Hands upon her, and bless her and save her, and make her a Temple of His Glory. It will bee so; It will be so!

I write this, the more particularly, that the Child may hereafter have the Benefit of reading it.’

3 May 1698
This Day, my little Daughter Hannah, was taken very dangerously sick of a Feavour, with Convulsions, to such a Degree, that there was little Hope of her Life. My Lecture, with other Fatigues, coming this Week upon mee, I could not Fast and Pray y as I would have done. Yett I pray’d, and cry’d unto Heaven, for the Child, and openly and publickly, as well as privately, made this an Opportunity, to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, by the cheerful Resignation thereof unto Him. Now, behold, the Event! Resigned Enjoyments, will bee still enjoy’d. While I was Joyfully, and yett mournfully giving up the Infant unto the Lord, the Lord raised my Heart at last, unto something of a particular Faith, for its being restored unto mee. And, unto my Amazement, it came to pass accordingly.

Moreover, having written, with exceeding Pains, an Idea and History, of the Reformation, especially in the English Nation, and of the Obstructions which it has mett withal, all still asserted with Passages quoted from the Writings of conformable Divines in the Church of England; whereto, I have added, some Conjectures, of a Reformation and Revolution at hand, exceeding that in the former Century: I now sent the Manuscript, (Anonymous) by the Hand of my Brother-in-Law, to a Bookseller in London; and, if it bee published, I have a secret Hope, that it will much affect the Affayrs of the Church, in the Changes that are approaching. In this Treatise, because I distinguish the Friends of the Reformation, by the Name of Eleutherians, (while I call its Foes, Idumaeans,) for the Causes there assigned, I therefore entitled the Book, Eleutheria. Lord! Accept and prosper this my poor Endeavour to serve Thee!’

30 October 1702
‘Yesterday, I first saw my Church-History, since the Publication of it. A Gentleman arrived here, from New Castle in England, that had bought it there. Wherefore, I sett apart this Day, for solemn THANKSGIVING unto God, for His watchful and gracious Providence over that Work, and for the Harvest of so many Prayers, and Cares, and Tears, and Resignations, as I had employ’d upon it.

My religious Friend, Mr. Bromfield, who had been singularly helpful to the Publication of that great Book, (of twenty shillings price, at London,) came to me at the Close of the Day, to join with me, in some of my Praises to God.

On this Day, my little Daughter Nibby, began to fall sick of the Small-pox. The dreadful Disease, which is raging in the Neighbourhood, is now gott into my poor Family. God prepare me, God prepare me, for what is coming upon me!

The Child, was favourably visited, in comparison of what many are.

It becomes impossible for me to record much in these Memorials; the vast Numbers of the Sick among my Neighbours and the Duties which I owe to the sick in my own Family, engrossing my Time exceedingly.

It being impossible for me, to visit the many Scores of sick Families in my Neighbourhood, and yett it being my desire to visit them as far as tis possible, I composed a Sheet which I entituled, Wholesome Words, or, A Visit of Advice to Families visited with Sickness. I putt myself to the small Expence of printing it; and then dividing my Flock into three Parts, I singled out three honest Men, unto whom I committed the care of lodging a Sheet in every Family, as fast as they should hear of any falling sick in it. The Lord makes this my poor Essay, exceeding acceptable and serviceable.

The Month of November coming on, I had on my Mind, a strong Impression, to look out some agreeable Paragraph of Scripture, to be handled in my public Ministry, while the two dreadful and mortal Sicknesses, of the Small Pox, and the Scarlet Feavour, should be raging among us. After earnest Supplications to the Lord, for His Direction, I used an Action, which I would not encourage, ever to be used in any divinatory Way. I thought, I would observe, whether the first Place that occurr’d at my opening of my Bible, would prove suitable or no; or such as might carry any Intimation of angelical Direction in it. Unto my Amazement, it proved, the History of our Lords curing the sick Son of the Nobleman, in the fourth Chapter of John. I saw, that the whole Bible afforded not a more agreeable or profitable Paragraph. So, I began a course of Sermons upon it.’

14 November 1721
‘What an Occasion, what an Incentive, to have PIETY, more than ever quicken’d and shining in my Family, have I this morning been entertained withal!

My Kinsman, the Minister of Roxbury, being Entertained at my House, that he might there undergo the Small-Pox Inoculated, and so Return to the Service of his Flock, which have the Contagion begun among them;

Towards three a Clock in the Night, as it grew towards Morning of this Day, some unknown Hands, threw a fired Granado into the Chamber where my Kinsman lay, and which uses to be my Lodging-Room. The Weight of the Iron Ball alone, had it fallen upon his Head, would have been enough to have done Part of the Business designed. But the Granado was charged, the upper part with dried Powder, the lower Part with a Mixture of Oil of Turpentine and Powder and what else I know not, in such a Manner, that upon its going off, it must have splitt, and have probably killed the Persons in the Room, and certainly fired the Chamber, and speedily laid the House in Ashes. But, this Night there stood by me the Angel of the GOD, whose I am and whom I serve; and the merciful Providence of GOD my SAVIOUR, so ordered it, that the Granado passing thro’ the Window, had by the Iron in the Middle of the Casement, such a Turn given to it, that in falling on the Floor, the fired Wild-fire in the Fuse was violently shaken out upon the Floor, without firing the Granado. When the Granado was taken up, there was found a Paper so tied with String about the Fuse, that it might out-Live the breaking of the Shell, which had these words in it; Cotton Mather, You Dog, Dam you: I’ll inoculate you with this, with a Pox to you.’

12 December 1721
‘My Son Increase, by a violent and passionate Resentment of an Indignity, which a wicked Fellow offered unto me, has exposed himself to much Danger, and me also to no little Trouble. I must employ this Occasion as much to his Advantage, especially in regard of Piety, as I can.

God graciously gives a good Issue to it.’

The Diary Junction

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Neptune’s Civil War

Gideon Welles, Secretary to the Navy during the Civil War under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, died 130 years ago today. His detailed and interesting cabinet diaries have been edited three times, and remain an important primary source of information about the war, and especially about Abraham Lincoln who gave Welles the nickname Father Neptune.

Welles was born in 1802 in Glastonbury, Connecticut, the son of a shipping merchant. He was schooled at the Episcopal Academy, Cheshire, and at the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy at Norwich, Vermont. He started out as a lawyer, but soon turned to journalism becoming a founder and editor of the Hartford Times in 1826. He participated in the Connecticut House of Representatives as a Democrat from 1827 to 1835, and was then appointed State Controller of Public Accounts. That same year he married Mary Jane Hale, and they went on to have six children - three of whom died young. The following year President Andrew Jackson made him Connecticut’s postmaster (a position he retained until 1941); and from 1846 to 1849 he was President James Polk’s appointed chief of provisions and clothing for the navy.

Welles fell out with the Democrat Party over its stance on slavery, and helped found the northern-based Republican Party in 1856, and then launching the Hartford Evening Press to promote it. When Abraham Lincoln took office as President in 1861, Welles was given the cabinet post of Secretary of the Navy. He inherited a run-down and demoralised naval department with less than half its vessels serviceable. Moreover, on the outbreak of the civil war, more than 200 officers defected to the South. Nevertheless, Welles’ quiet and strong leadership led to a rapid modernisation and expansion of the service - and to Lincoln giving him the nickname Father Neptune. In particular, Welles oversaw the creation of ironclad ships, the use of improved steam technology, and the effective blockades of Confederate ports. He was also responsible for the enlistment of African-American naval officers who had escaped slavery.

Although not always agreeing with each other, Welles and Lincoln were close, as were their wives; Welles was with Lincoln after he was shot. He remained Secretary of the Navy through Andrew Jackson’s Presidency, and, after the war, administered a scaling down of the navy. He supported Johnson through his impeachment trial, and left office with Johnson in March 1869 (when Ulysses S. Grant took over as President). Welles then returned to Connecticut, writing several books - including a biography, Lincoln and Seward - before his death on 11 February 1878. Further information is readily available online at Wikipedia, Connecticut History, Mr Lincoln’s White House, or the Civil War Trust.

Welles kept a diary all his life, however it is only the diaries he kept while Secretary of the Navy (1861 to 1869) that have been published - three times. The first time was in 1911, a three volume edition edited by his son Edgar: Diary of Gideon Welles Secretary of the Navy under Lincoln and Johnson (Houghton Mifflin). Edgar’s preface reads as follows. ‘When in Washington, it was his habit in the evening, after the family had retired, to devote his time to writing in the diary. His public duties at that period gave him no time to devote to the miscellaneous writings to which he had been accustomed. But in the diary are expressed his views on public men and measures, not only of the day but also those gathered throughout his public life. It was a relaxation to him to write; in fact, being thoroughly accustomed to it, it was a pleasure.

The question of the publication of this diary has caused me much serious reflection. It is an unreserved expression of what was from day to day in the mind of the writer. He probably thought that it would be useful as a record of the events of the time. Certainly he did not think it would be wholly unheeded. But his expressions were not shaped by the consideration that it would be given to the world or would not be; the decision of that question he left to me. Accordingly, I have taken the advice of those in whom I know my father would have the most implicit confidence, submitting the material for consideration and review. Without exception, I believe, the decision has been that duty requires of me the publication, and the truth of history demands that under no circumstances must I fail to make this record public.’ All three volumes can be read online at Internet Archive (one, two and three).

The diaries were edited again in 1960 by Howard K. Beale (Norton), and most recently in 2014 (in an ‘original manuscript edition’) by William E. Gienapp and Erica L. Gienapp (University of Illinois Press) - though this latter confines itself to the Lincoln Presidency (see Googlebooks). A review of the modern edition by John Beeler can be read in the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (summer 2016). Beeler gives a good summary of the history of the diary manuscript and why this third edition is likely to be definitive. Here’s part of that summary:

‘The diary entries, made with remarkable diligence until Gideon Welles left office at the end of Johnson’s presidency, were recorded in fifteen leather-bound manuscript volumes now in the Library of Congress. During the remaining nine years of his life, however, Welles “tinkered,” to use the Gienapps’ term, with many of the original entries, “polishing the prose to make it read more smoothly and rewriting sentences to reflect his changing opinions about people and events”(xviii). Edgar Welles, in turn, not only used the revised version as the basis for a typescript but also added his own revisions, spelling “corrections,” and punctuation, as well as excising or amending - sanitizing might be a more apt descriptor - some passages. Moreover, his edition, based on that typescript, contains material of uncertain provenance, neither from the original diary nor from his father’s revisions. In sum, not all of the three-volume 1911 Houghton Mifflin edition was drawn from the diary entries; those portions that were had already been revised by Gideon Welles and then his son; and some of the original text did not appear at all.’

Beemer concludes: ‘The new edition will be the first choice for most researchers or readers interested in Welles’s account of Lincoln’s administration. Aside from its user-friendliness, it is handsomely produced, sumptuously annotated, well indexed, and, value-priced at forty-five dollars.’

Here, though, are several extracts from the first and second volumes of the original edition.

30 September 1862
‘Little of importance at the Cabinet-meeting. The President laid before us the address of the loyal Governors who lately met at Altoona. Its publication has been delayed in expectation that Governor Bradford of Maryland would sign it, but nothing has been heard from him. His wife was here yesterday to get a pass to visit her son, who is a Rebel officer and cannot come to her. She therefore desires to go to him. Seward kindly procured the document for her. I am for exercising the gentle virtues when it can consistently and properly be done, but favor no social visitations like this. Let the Rebel perish away from the parents whom he has abandoned by deserting his country and fighting against his government.

The President informed us of his interview with Key, one of Halleck’s staff, who said it was not the game of the army to capture the Rebels at Antietam, for that would give the North advantage and end slavery; it was the policy of the army officers to exhaust both sides and then enforce a compromise which would save slavery.’

17 April 1865
‘On Monday, the 17th, I was actively engaged in bringing forward business which had been interrupted and suspended, issuing orders, and in arranging for the funeral solemnities of President Lincoln. Secretary Seward and his son continue in a low condition, and Mr. Fred Seward’s life is precarious.’

10 July 1865
‘A rainy day. We were to have had an excursion to the Pawnee, the flag-ship of Admiral Dahlgren, but the weather has prevented.

I read to the President two letters from Senator Sumner of the 4th and 5th of July, on the subject of negro suffrage in the Rebel States. Sumner is for imposing this upon those States regardless of all constitutional limitations and restriction. It is evident he is organizing and drilling for that purpose, and intends to make war upon the Administration policy and the Administration itself. The President is not unaware of the scheming that is on foot, but I know not if he comprehends to its full extent this movement, which is intended to control him and his Administration.

Seward sent to see me. Had dispatches from the Spanish government that the Stonewall should be given up. Is to send me copies, but the yellow fever is prevalent in Havana and it would be well to leave the Stonewall there until fall.’

17 July 1865
‘Last Tuesday, when on board the Pawnee with the President and Cabinet, Stanton took me aside and desired to know if the Navy could not spare a gunboat to convey some prisoners to Tortugas. I told him a vessel could be detailed for that purpose if necessary, but I inquired why he did not send them by one of his own transports. He then told me he wanted to send the persons connected with the assassination of President Lincoln to Tortugas, instead of a Northern prison, that he had mentioned the subject to the President, and it was best to get them into a part of the country where old Nelson or any other judge would not try to make difficulty by habeas corpus. Said he would make further inquiries and see me, but wished strict secrecy. On Friday he said he should want a boat and I told him we had none here, but the Florida might be sent to Hampton Roads, and he could send his men and prisoners thither on one of the army boats in the Potomac. I accordingly sent orders for the Florida. Yesterday General Townsend called on me twice on the subject, and informed me in the evening that General Hancock would leave in a boat at midnight to meet the Florida. I suggested that General H. had better wait; we had no information yet that the Florida had arrived, and she would be announced to us by telegraph as soon as she did arrive. To-day I learn the prisoners and a guard went down last night, and I accordingly sent orders by telegraph, by request of Secretary of War, to receive and convey the guard and prisoners to Tortugas.’

4 August 1866
‘The Philadelphia movement is gaining strength, but at the same time encountering tremendous and violent opposition from the Radicals. I trust and think it will be successful, but the convention will be composed of various elements, some of them antagonistic heretofore, and the error is in not having distinctive principles on which these prevailing opposing elements can centre. The time has arrived when our countrymen must sacrifice personal and mere organized party hostility for the general welfare. Either the Radicals or the Government are to be overthrown. The two are in conflict.

I have confidence that all will come out right, for I rely on an overruling Providence and the good sense and intelligence of the people. Hatred, deadly animosity towards the whole South, a determination to deny them their Constitutional rights, and to oppress and govern them, not allow them to govern themselves, are the features of Radicalism. It is an unsavory, intolerant, and persecuting spirit, disgraceful to the country and age. Defeat in the elections will temper and subdue its ferocity, while success at the polls will kindle it to flames, which will consume every sentiment of tolerance, justice, and Constitutional freedom.’

12 December 1866
‘Negro suffrage in the District is the Radical hobby of the moment and is the great object of some of the leaders throughout the Union. At the last session the Senate did not act upon the bill for fear of the popular verdict at the fall elections. Having dodged the issue then, they now come here under Sumner’s lead and say that the people have declared for it.

There is not a Senator who votes for this bill who does not know that it is an abuse and wrong. Most of the negroes of this District are wholly unfit to be electors. With some exceptions they are ignorant, vicious, and degraded, without patriotic or intelligent ideas or moral instincts. There are among them worthy, intelligent, industrious men, capable of voting understandingly and who would not discredit the trust, but they are exceptional cases. As a community they are too debased and ignorant. Yet fanatics and demagogues will crowd a bill through Congress to give them suffrage, and probably by a vote which the veto could not overcome. Nevertheless, I am confident the President will do his duty in that regard. It is pitiable to see how little sense of right, real independence, and what limited comprehension are possessed by our legislators. They are the tame victims and participators of villainous conspirators.’

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Killed and scalped

‘The whole company of rangers went out this morning to scour the country towards Bay Verde: they returned in the afternoon, and brought with them a sleigh which our unhappy sufferers had taken out with them, and on it were laid the bodies of four of our men, and one ranger, who were killed and scalped.’ This is from the diary of a Captain John Knox, an Irish born soldier in the British army, who died 230 years ago today. He may have well have been completely forgotten had it not been for the diary he kept (and later self-published) while on service in North America during the so-called Seven Years War. Some 150 years later, the little-known diary had fallen into obscurity, but it was re-published by the recently-formed Champlain Society, and is now considered one of the most important first hand sources for the period.

Knox was born in Sligo, though very little is known about his early life - not even the year of his birth. He joined the British army, and served in the War of the Austrian Succession, and distinguished himself at the Battle of Lauffeld in 1747. He was promoted to an ensigncy in the 43rd Regiment of Foot by the Duke of Cumberland. In 1751, he married a relatively well off Irish woman, Jane Carre; and, in 1754, he purchased a lieutenancy in the 43rd. Three years later, he left Ireland with the regiment for Halifax, Nova Scotia. However, the regiment then spent two years stationed at Fort Cumberland, playing no part in either the planned Louisbourg Expedition or Jeffery Amherst’s subsequent and successful siege of Louisberg. Knox’s regiment did, though, engage in the Battle of Quebec in the winter of 1759-1760 under General James Murray; and it was also with Murray at the fall of Montreal in 1760.

By the following winter, Knox is thought to have been back in England. He was appointed captain of a newly formed independent company of soldiers, but this was soon amalgamated into the 99th Foot, which, following the the Treaty of Paris in 1763, was itself disbanded. Knox, by then living in Gloucester, was placed on half pay. His attempts to obtain military preferment came to naught, and he remained on half pay until 1775 when he was appointed to command one of three independent companies of invalids stationed at Berwick-upon-Tweed. He died on 8 February 1778. A little further information can be found at Wikipedia or The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

Knox is remembered today only because he kept a diary during his North American service. On returning to England, he went to the trouble of editing it and having it printed in two volumes: An Historical Journal Of The Campaigns in North-America, For The Years 1757, 1758, 1759 and 1760. The volumes, published in 1769, were sold in two London shops: W. Johnston in Ludgate Street and J. Dodsley in Pall-Mall. They were subtitled, The Most Remarkable Occurrences of that Period particularly The Two Sieges of Quebec etc. etc. Orders of the Admirals and General Officers; Description of the Countries where the Author has served, with their forts and Garrisons their climates, soil, produce; and A Regular Diary of the Weather. Both volumes (one and two) are freely available online at Internet Archive (although the text was printed using the old-fashioned form of s). Nearly 150 years later Knox’s diary was reprinted
 (1914-1916), in a three volume version, by The Champlain Society (formed a decade earlier to advance knowledge of Canadian history through the publication of scholarly books). The three volumes were edited by Arthur G. Doughty, with the third volume being a series of appendices, i.e. other diaries, letters, historical summaries. Volumes one, two and three are all freely available at Internet Archive.

Today Knox’s diary is highly rated. The Dictionary of Canadian Biography says:’Though notably uncritical, it is an important source for the history of the Seven Years War in North America.’ Doughty goes further. He says, in his introduction, that Knox’s narrative ‘is regarded as the most valuable record of those eventful times’. And Doughty goes on to provide a more thorough assessment of the diary. ‘Knox’s English, it must be admitted, is often slipshod, but his style, though sober, is terse and not dull. If some of the incidents appear now of comparatively little interest, it must be remembered that Knox wrote for his contemporaries, and chiefly, we may believe, for those who had taken part in the events with which he was dealing. For these even the minor details which he records would have value as supplementing their own recollections and impressions. The Journal keeps the reader wonderfully in touch with the general course of events and with the principal actors in the drama. [. . .] He seems to have been a genuine soldier at heart, and, in spite of the painful scenes which he describes, he gives us a favourable idea of the military profession. We are made to feel that war is not, as some would have it, mere murder, but that in practice it binds even more than it severs, that its friendships are more lasting than its enmities. In point of accuracy the Journal must, on the whole, be commended. Errors of fact are to be found here and there, but they are few and not of great moment. Honesty seems to greet us from the face of the narrative.’

The following extracts are taken from the first of the three volumes.

21 September 1757
‘Last night we were alarmed in our camp, by two shots fired on the swamps to the left of our ground; the guards and pickets turned out, and we stood to our arms until it was clear day-light in the morning; this was occasioned by some of our rangers, who took the advantage of a moon-light night to lie in waiting for wild ducks, which, with most other kinds of wild fowl, are in great plenty here, though not to be got at without risk; the weather to-day is clear, and comfortably warm. The reinforcements of Highlanders, mentioned before to have arrived lately at Halifax, consisted of two new-raised regiments; an unlucky accident lately happened to one of their private men, of which the following are the particulars; a soldier of another regiment, who was a centinel detached from an advanced guard, seeing a man coming out of the wood, with his hair hanging loose, and wrapped up in a dark-coloured plaid, he challenged him repeatedly, and receiving no answer (the weather being hazy) he fired at him and killed him; the guard being alarmed, the Serjeant ran out to know the cause, and the unhappy centinel, strongly prepossessed that it was an Indian, with a blanket about him, who came skulking to take a prisoner, or a scalp, cried out, I have killed an Indian, I have killed an Indian, there he lies, etc. but, upon being undeceived by the Serjeant, who went to take a view of the dead man, and being told he was one of our own men, and a Highlander, he was so oppressed with grief and fright, that he fell ill, and was despaired of for some days. In consequence of this accident, most of these young soldiers, being raw and unexperienced, and very few of them conversant in, or able to talk English (which was particularly his case who was killed) these regiments were ordered to do no more duty for some time; at length some of the inhabitants having crossed over to Dartmouth to cut fire-wood, they were attacked by a party of the enemy, and several were killed and scalped: whereupon a large detachment of these Highlanders were immediately sent to take post, and remain there; which will effectually secure the town on that quarter, and inable the settlers to provide fuel during the approaching winter, without any farther apprehensions. Changeable weather for several days past, though mostly fair.’

22 September 1757
‘Two men of the 28th regiment deserted this morning, and took their course towards Baye Verde, where meeting with some of the enemy (savages as we are informed) one of them made his escape, and returned to the fort; in consideration whereof, and his good character, he was pardoned. A violent rain came on this afternoon, which obliged us to quit our work.’

4 August 1758
‘The heat of the dog-days in this country is excessive, with close, suffocating airs; this evening we had the most violent thunder and lightning that ever I saw and heard; even the inhabitants express much surprise at it; and the flashes had the greatest variety of awful beauties, and choice of colours, that the most lively imagination can conceive; this was succeeded by five hours constant, heavy rain, with remarkable large drops.’

21 January 1759
‘The whole company of rangers went out this morning to scour the country towards Bay Verde: they returned in the afternoon, and brought with them a sleigh which our unhappy sufferers had taken out with them, and on it were laid the bodies of four of our men, and one ranger, who were killed and scalped; the rest are still missing: at the place where these unfortunate people were way-laid, there was a regular ambush, and designed probably against the rangers, who have been out, for some weeks, cutting and cording wood for the garrison, and seldom missed a day, except the weather was uncommonly severe, which was the case yesterday; and their not going was providential, for they are generally too remiss upon service, and so little did they suspect any danger, that the half of them went out without arms, and they who carried any were not loaded. The victims were fired at from the right side of the road, being shot through the right breast; all were wounded in the same place, except one who had not a gun-shot wound about him, but was killed by a hatchet or tomahock a-cross the neck, under the hinder part of his scull; never was greater or more wanton barbarity perpetrated, as appears by these poor creatures, who, it is evident, have been all scalped alive; for their hands, respectively, were clasped together under their polls, and their limbs were horridly distorted, truly expressive of the agonies in which they died: in this manner they froze, not unlike figures, or statues, which are variously displayed on pedestals in the gardens of the curious. The ranger was stripped naked, as he came into the world; the soldiers were not, except two, who had their new cloathing on them; these (that is the coats only) were taken: I am told this is a distinction always made between regulars and others; the head of the man who escaped the fire; was flayed before he received his coup mortel, which is evident from this circumstance, that, after the intire cap was taken off, the hinder part of the scull was wantonly broken into small pieces; the ranger’s body was all marked with a stick, and some blood in hieroglyphic characters, which shewed that great deliberation was used in this barbarous dirty work. The bloodhounds came on snow-shoes, or rackets, the country being now so deep with snow, as to render it impossible to march without them; they returned towards Gaspereau, and we imagine they came from Mirrimichie, there being no settlement of them (as we suppose) nearer to us on that side of the country.

Our men were buried this afternoon, and, as we could not break or stretch their limbs, the sleigh was covered intirely with boards, and a large pit was made in the snow, to the depth of several feet, where they are to remain for some time; for the earth is so impenetrably bound up with frost, that it is impracticable to break ground, even with pickaxes or crow-irons; their funeral was very decent, and all the Officers attended them to the burying-place. Our men appear greatly irritated at the inhuman lot of their friends, and express the greatest concern lest we should not permit them to make reprisals, whenever a favourable opportunity may offer. In these northern countries, any people that happen to die after the winter sets-in are only left under the snow until the beginning of summer, for spring I cannot call it, there being no such season in this part of the world. With respect to fresh provisions of any kind, it is also customary to kill them about the middle of November, and leave them in an airy out-house, or other place where the frost will soon affect them; so that there is nothing more common than to eat beef, mutton, or poultry, in March or April, that were dead five months before: hares and fowl, as soon as killed, are hung up in their skins and feathers, and without being drawn, until they are wanted; at which time, by steeping them (or any butcher’s meat) for a time in cold water, and not merely immerging, as some writers and travellers aver, they become pliable, and fit for any purpose that the cook may require.’

10 July 1759
‘Being on a working-party this morning at our batteries, I had a most agreeable prospect of the city of Quebec, for the first time; it is a very fair object for our artillery, particularly the lower town, whose buildings are closer, and more compact than the upper. Some time after we were settled at work, a soldier of the 48th regiment, who had an intention to desert, went to an adjoining wood, where an Officer and a number of men were detached to make fascines; he told the Officer he was sent to desire that he and his party would return to the redoubt where we were employed, and in their absence he took an old canoe that he found on the shore, and crossed the river in our view; a boat put off from the enemy, and took him safe to land. Our batteries are in great forwardness; the two first are to mount six guns and five mortars, and will, in a few days, be in readiness to open. About six o’clock the garrison began to cannonade and bombard us, and continued their fire, almost without intermission, until one o’clock in the afternoon, at which time the working-parties were relieved. Our soldiers told me they numbered one hundred and twenty-two shot and twenty-seven shells, yet we had not a man killed or wounded. Before we reached our camp, we had a violent thunder-storm attended with hail and rain, which laid our incampment under water: the hail-stones were uncommonly large; on this occasion the men were served with rum, pursuant to the General’s regulations.

Dalling’s light infantry are ordered on duty this night at the batteries, and the redoubt adjoining to them. The enemy have brought down a mortar or two to the left of their intrenchments, from which they discharged several shells at our ships, though without any effect.’

The Diary Junction

Sunday, February 4, 2018

An ambassador’s war diary

‘Sir John Pilter came to see me. He is the head of the British Colony here. He is very disturbed on the subject of the permits for English people. He is just one of those men who are most tiresome to deal with although there is something to be said on his side. He claims all the rights of a British Citizen and yet when it comes to anything that he does not like he wants to be treated as a Frenchman. They all seem to think that a war is not on and as far as going backwards and forwards into the Army Zone is concerned they ought to be allowed to go as they like. At the same time there are grievances which I hope to get right.’ This is the 17th Earl of Derby - who died 70 years ago today - writing in a diary he kept while saving as the UK’s ambassador in the final months of the Great War. Before being packed off to Paris, he was Britain’s secretary of state for war and a staunch support of Douglas Haig, but he was at odds with the prime minister, Lloyd George, who mistrusted Haig (see previous article).

Edward George Villiers Stanley, later Earl of Derby, was born in London in 1865 into a distinguished aristocratic family of politicians: his father, Frederick Stanley, was the sixth Governor General of Canada, and his grandfather, Edward Smith-Stanley, was UK prime minister three times in the 1850s and 1860s. Edward was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire, before starting out on an army career, first with the 3rd Battalion, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) and then as a subaltern with the Grenadier Guards (1885-1895) which included an introduction to court, and public duties as aide-de-camp to his father in Canada. In 1889, he married Lady Alice Maude Olivia Montagu (who bore him three children); in 1893, on his father’s succession to the earldom, he became known as Lord Stanley.

Stanley entered Parliament for West Houghton (Lancashire) in 1892, and served as a Lord of the Treasury (1895-1900). On the outbreak of the South African War in 1899, he became chief press censor in Cape Town and was private secretary to Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief, who twice mentioned him in dispatches. On returning to Britain, he was appointed Financial Secretary to the War Office (1901-1903) and Postmaster General (a cabinet position) from 1903 to 1906 (when he lost his seat at the general election). In 1908, on the death of his father, he succeeded to the peerage (17th Earl of Derby), inheriting much land and the family estate at Knowsley, as well as a place in the House of Lords. He was always very active in Liverpool politics, becoming the city’s lord mayor in 1911, and, 
among other senior positions, presiding over its chamber of commerce for decades.

On the outbreak of war, Stanley played a major role in recruiting soldiers for Kitchener’s New Army, and he himself organised five battalions of the King’s (Liverpool) regiment, training them in the grounds at Knowsley. In 1916, prime minister Herbert Asquith brought him back to government as  Under-Secretary of State for War, but months later he was promoted to Secretary of State for War by the new prime minister David Lloyd George. As such, he became a strong supporter of Douglas Haig (in opposition to Lloyd George who mistrusted Haig, see previous Diary Review article - Haig’s ‘unique’ WWI diaries). From April 1918 to 1920, Stanley served as Ambassador to France (having finally been edged out of government by Lloyd George), but was again Secretary of State for War under prime ministers Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin from 1922 to 1924. On withdrawing from national politics, he continued to weigh heavily in regional affairs, distributing his patronage lavishly, and becoming a popular figure in Lancashire. He was also a very committed horse breeder and racer, his stable won many top events over the years - not least the Epsom Derby three times, a race named after the 12th Earl of Derby. He died on 4 February 1948. Further information can be found at Wikipedia, The Peerage, or the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log-in required).

Lord Derby was no author, and published no books in his lifetime, though he was an artful letter writer. For a brief period, while in Paris, he kept a diary. On a weekly basis, he would dispatch his diary entries home to be locked away (although, after a while, he sent copies to some friends, notably Arthur Balfour). These texts remained unpublished for more than 50 years, and it was only on the initiative of  Edward Stanley, 19th Earl of Derby, that the history academic David Dutton was given access to the diaries at Knowsley library. Dutton’s edited version of the diaries was published by Liverpool University Press in 2001 as Paris 1918: The War Diary of the British Ambassador, the 17th Earl of Derby (although oddly the title is abbreviated on the front cover). Some pages of this can be read online at Googlebooks.

According to the publisher: ‘The diary of the 17th Earl of Derby, once thought to have been lost, provides a detailed and important account of the last months of the First World War as seen through the eyes of the British Ambassador in Paris. Derby was in many ways an unlikely choice as ambassador. He was not a diplomat and could not, on his arrival, speak French. His appointment owed much to Lloyd George’s determination to remove him from his previous post as Secretary of State for War. But, after a somewhat uncertain start, he proved to be a very successful ambassador upon whom successive Foreign Secretaries, Arthur Balfour and Lord Curzon, relied heavily for their appreciation of the situation on the other side of the Channel. Derby took up his appointment at a crucial period of the war when military victory still seemed some way off. He became an assiduous collector of information which he dictated into his diary on a daily basis. Derby’s embassy became renowned for its lavish hospitality. But this was far from being self-indulgence, for he firmly believed that entertaining was the best way to win the confidence of his French associates and therefore to obtain information that would be of use in London. Derby’s diary provides important insights into the state of the war, the often strained relationship between Britain and France and the intrigues of French domestic politics.’

Here are a few extracts from Paris 1918: The War Diary of the British Ambassador.

5 June 1918
‘Usual meeting of the Board at 12 o’c. Nothing much to discuss except the question as to what would happen if we had to leave Paris. Difficult subject to deal with as we do not know where we should go to and we cannot ask for fear of giving rise to rumours. We put the whole thing in the hands of General Thornton who has promised to make all arrangements to get people away. I am endeavouring to get the members of the Missions who have their wives out here to send them home but it is a little difficult to do without giving rise to a suspicion.

After luncheon Furse came in. Afternoon. Nothing of importance and in the evening we three with Lady Rodney dined at the Ambassadeur.’

12 June 1918
‘Sir John Pilter came to see me. He is the head of the British Colony here. He is very disturbed on the subject of the permits for English people. He is just one of those men who are most tiresome to deal with although there is something to be said on his side. He claims all the rights of a British Citizen and yet when it comes to anything that he does not like he wants to be treated as a Frenchman. They all seem to think that a war is not on and as far as going backwards and forwards into the Army Zone is concerned they ought to be allowed to go as they like. At the same time there are grievances which I hope to get right.

Usual meeting of Missions at 12 o’c.

Left in the afternoon at 2.45 for G.H.Q. with Oliver. Took us just 5 hours, good going considering that we had 3 punctures on the way. Nobody staying at G.H.Q. Winston and Marlborough having been got rid of with difficulty in the morning. Winston cannot have much to do in his office as he has now been away for 10 days and as far as I can see joyriding. He asked for a House to be taken for him in the Army Zone. When this was done he was very angry about it because naturally he has been told he must pay for it himself. He has no official standing out here whatsoever.

Bacon dined in the evening. He is now the American Officer on Haig’s staff, a most charming fellow who was Ambassador here about 5 years ago and very popular. Haig had been to see an American Brigade and told me they were some of the most splendid men he had ever seen and very well drilled. They were National Guard Troops and therefore correspond to our old Militia. They find the Americans pick up the work very quick and are able to go into the line much sooner than was anticipated which is a good thing.

Heard how poor Lumsden, V.C. had been killed. It appears it was entirely his own fault. He was warned that there was a sniper about yet would not go down the communication trench and was shot dead. He is a great loss although like so many other gallant fellows they lose half their value when they get a Brigade and therefore get out of contact with the actual fighting line.’

17 June 1918
‘Routine work. Saw Mrs. Henshaw, Canadian Red Cross lady who is doing good work in helping to evacuate French people from the shelled areas. She comes from Victoria B.C. and knows Annie and Victor well.

Luncheon. Pichon and wife. Dumesnil and wife, both very nice people. He is the Minister for Aviation. Paul Reinach, the Greek Minister, also nice, and Grahame. Very amusing discussion after. Poor Reinach of course likes to hear himself do all the talking and tries to do it but met more than a match in Madame Pichon who is [a] most amusing old thing and chaffed him unmercifully. Really a very pleasant luncheon.

After luncheon saw Horodyski who is I think a sort of secret agent with the Poles. I thought him one of the most villainous fellows I had ever come across. Could not look you straight in the face and I should be very much surprised if he is straight. He is the nephew of the General of the Jesuits and for that reason I think is backed up by Eric Drummond who is a Catholic. Personally I cannot help thinking this Catholic clique will get us into trouble because all that is done goes straight to the Pope and we all know he is in direct contact with the Austrians.

Charlie and I went to tea at the Tiraux Pigeons with Mme de Montescieu. Lot of nice people there but these sort of teas are abominable institutions. I believe they are extremely popular here but I mean to avoid them for the future. Charlie and I dine alone together. News from Italy seems quite good.’