Thursday, June 28, 2018

Nobody to dig the graves

‘On the 19th of May, died Erich Hansen Li, who, throughout the voyage, had been very industrious and willing, and had neither offended anyone nor deserved any punishment. He had dug many graves for others, but now there was nobody that could dig his, and his body had to remain unburied.’ This is from the astonishingly tragic diary of Jens Munk, a Norwegian-Danish explorer who died 390 years ago today. His expedition to find the Northwest Passage ended in disaster: with his vessels ice-bound, almost all his crew succumbed to cold, hunger or scurvy. Munk’s diary records every death day-by-day over a period of months.

Monck (or Munk) was born in 1579 and grew up on his father’s estate at Arendal, southeast Norway. After his father’s downfall, he left with his mother to live in Aalborg, Denmark, but aged on 12 he embarked on a life at sea. He was sailing with a Dutch convoy, when it was attacked by pirates off the coast of Brazil. Munk survived, and then spent six years in Bahia working for a Portuguese magnate. In 1599, he managed to return to Denmark where he found a position as a ship’s clerk, eventually becoming a successful seafaring tradesman himself. In the 1610s, he was commissioned on various exploratory and military missions by the Danish-Norwegian king, Christian IV. On one of these, in 1615, he captured Jan Mendoses - a notorious privateer - off the northern coast of Russia. In 1618, the king appointed him commander of the first Danish expedition to East India with five vessels and nearly a 1,000 men, but the command was taken away from him weeks before sailing, probably because of a conflict with the Lord Chancellor. Around this time, Munk also suffered the loss of a large amount of money due to a failed whaling expedition

In 1619, Munk set out, with two royal vessels and 65 men, on an ambitious expedition to find the Northwest Passage. In September, he found the entrance to Hudson Bay becoming the first European to explore the bay’s western reaches. But the expedition then spent a disastrous winter near the mouth of what is now known as the Churchill River, a place Munk named Nova Dania (New Denmark). Everyone except Munk and two crewmen died from cold, hunger and scurvy; but, remarkably, with the onset of summer, the three men managed to return home sailing one of the vessels. Punk was imprisoned at Bergen for a short while but released on order of the king, and returned to Copenhagen. He continued to serve the king in various capacities, though a planned second expedition in search of the Northwest Passage never materialised. In 1625, the king promoted him to admiral in charge of a fleet on the Weser during the Thirty Years War. He died on 26 June 1928. Further information is available at Wikipedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia, the Northern Lights Route, and in the book Exploring Polar Frontiers.

Munk kept a diary of his voyage to Hudson’s Bay in 1619-1620. He published this in 1624 under the title Navigatio Septentrionalis, illustrated with a map of Greenland/Hudson’s Bay, and two woodcuts. It was first translated into English and published in 1650 as An account of a most dangerous voyage perform’d by the famous Capt. John Monck, in the years 1619, and 1620. This is freely available online at Googlebooks (though the printed text uses the old-fashioned long s). However, the diary is also available in a modern script in the second volume of Hakluyt Society’s Danish Arctic Expeditions 1605-1620 published in 1897 - see Internet Archive. This also contains extensive notes and a long introduction by C. C. A. Gosch (and is the source of the following extracts).

12 July 1619
‘On the 12th of July, I sent my lieutenant with some of the crew on shore at Munckenes [named by Munk], in order to fetch water and to ascertain what was to be found there, because it seemed a likely place for finding harbours and for obtaining water. In the evening, they returned with water, and reported that there were harbours but no anchorage; nor could we lie there in safety from ice. We were, therefore, obliged to choose the better of two bad alternatives, because nowhere in the channel could we see open water. Half a mile from Munckenes, I caused the lead to be thrown, and reached the bottom at 150 fathoms. On the same day, I shot two or three birds with a gun; but, at the last discharge, the same gun burst into pieces, and took the brim clean off the front of my hat.’

13 July 1619
‘On the 13th of July, towards evening, we were in the greatest distress and danger, and did not know what counsel to follow, because we could not advance any further by tacking, the ice pressing us hard on all sides. Being, then, in such a perilous situation, all the officers considered it most advisable to take in all the sails and fasten the sloop Lamprenen to the ship Enhiörningen; which, accordingly, was done. We then commended all into the hand of God; and, trusting to God’s merciful assistance, we drifted along and into the ice again. This incident of the attack of the ice and the distress of the ships in the ice are shown on the plate accompanying this treatise.

While we thus drifted forwards and backwards in the ice, in great danger of our lives, the ice displaced a large knee in the ship, which was situated under the peg of the head of the ship, and fastened with six large iron bolts; wherefore I set all my carpenters to work to set that knee straight again. But it was too big for them, so that they could do nothing with it in that place. I therefore had the ship swung round and turned, so that the side to which the knee had come into a crooked position drifted against the ice, and then ordered the rudder to be worked so as to turn against the ice in order that the knee in a measure might right itself again, which also was effected as perfectly as if 20 carpenters had been engaged in refitting it. Afterwards, the carpenters adjusted the bolts which had become bent.’

12 September 1619
‘In the morning early, a large white bear came down to the water near the ship, which stood and ate some Beluga flesh, off a fish so named which I had caught the day before. I shot the bear, and the men all desired the flesh for food, which I also allowed. I ordered the cook just to boil it slightly, and then to keep it in vinegar for a night, and I myself had two or three pieces of this bear-flesh roasted for the cabin. It was of good taste and did not disagree with us.’

21 January 1620
On the 21st January, it was fine clear weather and sunshine; and, on that date, thirteen of us were down with sickness. Then, as I had often done before, I asked the surgeon, M. Casper Caspersen aforesaid, who was also lying mortally ill, whether he knew of any good remedy that might be found in his chest and which might serve for the recovery or comfort of the crew, as well as of himself, requesting him to inform me of it. To this he answered that he had already used as many remedies as he had with him to the best of his ability and as seemed to him advisable, and that, if God would not help, he could not employ any further remedy at all that would be useful for recovery.’

1 March 1620
‘On the 1st of March, died Jens Borringholm and Hans Skudenes; and, the sickness having now prevailed so far that nearly all of the crew lay sick, we had great difficulty in getting the dead buried.’

4 March 1620
‘On the 4th of March, the weather was mild, and we caught five ptarmigan in the open country, which were very welcome to us. I ordered broth to be made of them, and had that distributed amongst the sick; but, of the meat, they could eat nothing, because of their mouths being badly affected inside with scurvy.’

8 March 1620
‘On the 8th of March, died Oluf Boye, who had been ill nearly nine weeks, and his body was at once buried.’

9 March 1620
‘On the 9th of March, died Anders, the cooper, who had lain sick since Christmas, and his body was at once buried.’

11 March 1620
‘On the 11th of March, the sun entered Aries; it was then the Spring Equinox, night and day being equally long. In those quarters, the sun rose in the East-South-East, and set in the West-North-West at 7 o’clock in the evening; but it was not really more than six o’clock on account of the variation. On the same day, the weather was fine and mild, and I had all the snow thrown off the deck of the ship and had it nicely cleaned. At that time, I had but few to choose between that could do any work.’

11 May 1620
On the 11th of May, it was very cold, so that we all remained quietly in our berths that day; because, in our extreme weakness, we could not stand any cold, our limbs being paralyzed and, as it were, crushed by the cold.’

12 May 1620
‘On the 12th of May, died Jens Jörgensen, carpenter, and Suend Marstrand; and God knows what misery we suffered before we got their bodies buried. These were the last that were buried in the ground.’

16 May 1620
‘On the 16th of May, it was very cold indeed. Then died the skipper, Jens Hendrichsen; and his body had to remain unburied.’

19 May 1620
‘On the 19th of May, died Erich Hansen Li, who, throughout the voyage, had been very industrious and willing, and had neither offended anyone nor deserved any punishment. He had dug many graves for others, but now there was nobody that could dig his, and his body had to remain unburied.’

20 May 1620
‘On the 20th of May, the weather was fine and mild and the wind southerly. It was a great grief to us that, whilst God gave such an abundance of various kinds of birds, none of us was strong enough to go into the country and shoot some of them.’

17 July 1620
‘On the 17th of July, towards evening, I met much ice, and I stood off and on in front of the ice; but, in the course of the night, the weather being calm and misty, we stuck firm on the ice. I then let go the boat of Enhiörningen, which I had taken in tow for the purpose of having it for use if I should come near to land anywhere.’

The Diary Junction

Friday, June 22, 2018

Carrying their gas masks

‘We saw a sign of the times tonight: I had some shopping to do and my husband ran me down in the car. We came back by a lane that has always been used by courting couples since I can remember. They were there in plenty - all carrying their gas masks!’ This is Nella Last, famously, an ordinary housewife who, thanks to a call by Mass Observation at the start of the Second World War, became a diarist. She died 50 years ago today, and it was not until a dozen years later that her diaries were published for the first time. They were much praised, and they were recognised as an important social record. More recently, volumes of her post-war diaries have been published, partly thanks to publicity provided by a popular film adaptation of the war diaries.

Nellie (Nella) Lord was born in 1889, daughter of a railway audit clerk. She suffered a serious injury when young which left her unable to walk properly for half her childhood. Her education, she described later as ‘patchy’. She married William Last, a shopfitter and joiner, in 1911. They lived in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, and had two sons. In the early 1930s, she was active in local party politics, helping to canvas for the Conservative Party during the 1931 general election. During WW2, she worked for the Women’s Voluntary Service and the Red Cross. Her eldest son, Arthur, was a tax inspector and therefore exempted from conscription, but her youngest son, Cliff, joined the army. Later Cliff emigrated to Australia where he became a noted sculptor. Nella died on 22 June 1968. A little further information is available from Wikipedia, the BBC, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

In 1939, after suffering from depression, Nella Last joined Mass Observation, an organisation set up two years earlier to document attitudes and practices in every day life. In particular, she responded to a call by the organisation, in August that year, for members of the public to record and send in a day-to-day account of their lives in the form of a diary. This, and then with the war too, she had a new lease of life, and began writing up to 1,500 words a day for Mass Observation. Indeed, she eventually submitted over two million words during the war, and went on submitting diary material for 20 more years after. Her Mass Observation diary is considered to be one of the fullest and frankest of such diaries, exceptional not only for the length and regularity with which she wrote but also for the interest and quality of the writing.

The diary was first edited by Richard Broad and Suzie Fleming, and published in 1981 by Falling Wall Press as Nella Last’s War: A Mother’s Diary 1939-1943. It was republished in 2006 as Nella Last’s War: The Second World War Diaries of Housewife 49 by Profile Books. The publisher says of the work: ‘This was the period in which she turned 50, saw her children leave home, and reviewed her life and her marriage - which she eventually compares to slavery. Her growing confidence as a result of her war work makes this a moving (though often comic) testimony, which, covering sex, death and fear of invasion, provides a new, unglamorised, female perspective on the war years.’

Also in 2006, the British television company ITV broadcast a film based on the diaries - Housewife, 49 - starring Victoria Wood. This brought the war diaries to a much wider audience, and, subsequently, Profile books published further volumes of Last’s post-war diaries: Nella Last’s Peace: The Post-War Diaries of Housewife 49 (2008 - see also Googlebooks); Nella Last in the 1950s (2010 - see also Googlebooks), and the The Diaries of Nella Last: Writing in War & Peace (2012 - see also Googlebooks), all edited by Patricia Malcolmson and Robert Malcolmson.

The following extracts are taken from the 2006 Profile edition of Nella Last’s War.

4 September 1939
‘Today has been an effort to get round, for my head is so bad. A cap of pain has settled down firmly and defies aspirin. I managed to tidy up and wash some oddments and then, as the neatness did not matter, made two cot blankets out of tailor’s pieces. I’ve nearly finished a knitted one. I have a plan to make good, warm cot blankets out of old socks cut open and trimmed. It breaks my heart to think about the little babies and the tiny children being evacuated - and the feelings of their poor mothers. I’ve got lots of plans made to spare time so as to work with the W.V.S. - including having my hair cut short at the back. I cannot bear the pins in now, and unless curls are curls they are just horrid. My husband laughs at me for what he terms ‘raving’, but he was glad to hear of a plan I made last crisis and have since polished up. It’s to keep hens on half the lawn. The other half of the lawn will grow potatoes, and cabbage will grow under the apple trees and among the currant bushes. I’ll try and buy this year’s pullets and only get six, but when spring comes I’ll get two sittings and have about twenty extra hens in the summer to kill. I know a little about keeping hens and I’ll read up. My husband just said, ‘Go ahead.’ ’

5 September 1939
‘I went to the W.V.S. Centre today and was amazed at the huge crowd. We have moved into a big room in the middle of town now, but big as it is, every table was crowded uncomfortably with eager workers. Afterwards, huge stacks of wool to be knitted into bedcovers, and dozens of books of tailor’s patterns to be machined together, were taken. They average about seventy-seven yards of machining to join each piece with a double row of stitching and a double-stitched hem. I’m on my third big one and have made about a dozen cot quilts. As my husband says, it would have been quicker to walk the distance than machine it. I’m lucky, for my machine is electric and so does not tire me. Everyone seemed to be so kind - no clever remarks made aside.

Tonight I had my first glimpse of a blackout, and the strangeness appalled me. A tag I’ve heard somewhere, ‘The City of Dreadful Night’, came into my mind and I wondered however the bus and lorry drivers would manage. I don’t think there is much need for the wireless to advise people to stay indoors - I’d need a dog to lead me.’

11 September 1939
‘The announcement in the paper, following one on the wireless, that the Government were preparing for a three-year war seems to have been a shock to a lot of people. One woman I know - a big-made woman of about fifty-six who took on an air-raid warden job - has had a nervous breakdown. Her niece said she had always had a fear of the dark and, now she knew she would have to take her turn in the dark all winter, she has cracked up. Other friends look aged, and I have a cold feeling down inside when I think of my Cliff off on Friday. I will dedicate every part of my time when I’m not looking after my husband to the W.V.S. I’ll work and beg things and keep cheerful - outwardly at least. Now when I plan and work harder, I find my brain sharper and I don’t forget things. I’m following my doctor’s advice and have not lost any more weight. I can sleep at least four hours a night and, although always tired, have not been so exhausted.

We saw a sign of the times tonight: I had some shopping to do and my husband ran me down in the car. We came back by a lane that has always been used by courting couples since I can remember. They were there in plenty - all carrying their gas masks!’

23 September 1939
‘Such a lovely day, and when we went to Spark Bridge I could hardly realise the year was so far advanced, for all is so lovely and green. We called at Greenodd to see Cousin Mary and her two evacuees - they have settled down wonderfully. A chance remark of one of them made me think. Their mother, who with the baby is living a little distance away, called to take them nutting, and as Mary was getting them ready she made some remarks about ‘when we get home again’. A startled look came over the younger boy (about seven) and his eyes filled as he said rather pitifully, ‘Aren’t we going to stay here always?’ I saw the look on the mother’s face, and my heart ached as I thought how I would have felt if my family had been scattered.’

1 October 1939
‘Feel better for my lazy restful day and must take more rest. Now that I’m going down to the W.V.S. Centre on Mondays as well as Thursdays and Tuesday afternoons. I’ll plan my days out carefully. Easily prepared lunches, cooked the night before - so that I can make a nice lunch and lay the table for tea and be away in one and a half hours.’

5 February 1940
‘I don’t get much done these days, for I am beginning to feel I want to go to sleep if I sit down to sew; and then again, when the alarm-clock goes off at five minutes before every hour, and I’ve to make baby’s wee eggcup of Nestlé’s and give it to her, a quarter of an hour at the very least goes out of every hour - day and night. She made a mewing sound today. It was hardly a cry and her tiny fingers curled round my finger with surprising strength when I put my finger in her doll-like palm. Sol is in deepest disgrace - very deep. I put cod-liver oil swabs I’d used in a paper bag in the garage, and meant to put the bag in a sack with all the oiled wool together. It was on the potatoes barrel and must have got knocked off, and my silly little old dog has eaten them! I’ve given him castor oil and am hoping he is all right tomorrow.’

10 March 1940
‘We took Cliff to the station at 7.45 and found a huge crowd waiting. There must have been at least 200 soldiers, airmen and sailors going off leave, and a lot had come to see them off. We heard by conversation that one group were on draft leave, and there was one young fellow, who looked about twenty-four, parting from his wife of twenty-two to twenty-four. She was such a pretty, frail-looking girl, who would be having her baby soon, and my heart ached as I saw her poor little brave face with its fixed grin as she waved goodbye. Stations to me are always rather sad-making, but tonight, with the mist wreathing and steaming under the roof and the blue lights half-obscured by smoke and mist, I thought it was the most hopeless, deadening place on earth. To see the people in the carriage with the blue light robbing them of colour was an added horror. I felt so tired and cold - a queer inner coldness - that I came to bed to write my letters.’

The Diary Junction

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Diaries of a musical theorist

‘D-minor Quartet of Schoenberg, by [the] Rosé [Quartet]. A single, long-drawn-out atrocity! If there were such a thing as criminals in the realm of art, one would have to count this composer among their ranks, as one born such or perhaps merely turned criminal.’ This strident judgement of the Austrian atonal composer Arnold Schoenberg can be found in the diaries of another Austrian composer, Heinrich Schenker. Though not remembered for his compositions, Schenker, born 150 years ago today, is considered one of the 20th century’s leading theorists and analysts of tonal musical.

Schenker was born in Wiśniowczyk, Austrian Galicia (present-day Ukraine) on 19 June 1868 into a Jewish doctor ’s family. He attended German school in Lemberg (now Lviv), studying piano from an early age. He enrolled in the Law Faculty of the University of Vienna in 1884, and studied concurrently at the Vienna Conservatory of Music. He received his Doctor of Law in 1890, decided to remain in Vienna, and chose to devote himself entirely to music, giving piano lessons, working as a music critic, as well as accompanying others on stage, conducting and publishing small-scale compositions.

But Schenker also began to analyse and theorise about music, and it is for this that he is best remembered. For Universal Edition, newly founded in Vienna in 1901, he edited keyboard works by C. P. E. Bach (1903) and later J. S. Bach ’s Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue (1910). These editions, it is said, marked the beginning of a life-long involvement with composers autograph manuscripts, copies, and early printed sources, the contents of which he sought to transmit without editorial intervention, save for footnoted commentary. His most important theory, expounded in Das Meisterwerk in der Musik (The Masterpiece in Music), was, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, that great musical compositions grow from a single idea and that their contrasting themes represent only a different aspect of this one basic thought . His work greatly influenced other 20th-century theoreticians.

Around 1903, Schenker met Jeanette Kornfeld (born Schiff), the wife of a friend, and over several years a relationship developed between the two. By 1910, she had left her husband to be with Schenker and to help him with his work. It was not until 1919, though, that she was able to divorce her husband, and marry Schenker. By then, Schenker had been diagnosed with diabetes, a condition which would affect his day-to-day life, and ultimately cause his death in 1935.

Schenker Documents Online has this assessment of his legacy: ‘Already in January 1930, the rise of the National Socialists in Germany had cast its shadow on Schenker ’s life, putting beyond reach a prospective official appointment in Berlin. Soon after his death, his students, his living legacy, most of whom were Jewish, were scattered: many emigrated to the USA and elsewhere, others remained and were deported (as was his own wife) to the camps. The Schenker Institute established in Vienna a few months after his death was closed down in 1938, as had been a similar institute in Hamburg in 1934. Copies of his publications at UE were confiscated by the Gestapo, and he himself was characterized grotesquely [. . .] The dissemination of his ideas was to come not from Europe but from the USA, through his students [. . .]. The influence of Schenker ’s theories blossomed there in the 1950s and 1960s, and gradually extended back to Europe and to other parts of the world during the later 20th century. Further information is also available at Wikipedia and at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Schenker kept a diary for most of his life, as well as engaging in regular correspondence with a large number of friends and colleagues. Most of this literary material remained unpublished through the 20th century, and it was only with the Schenker Documents Online project, starting in 2003, that much of it became freely available to the public. The project counted on over 20 contributing scholars from both sides of the Atlantic, as well as a dozen research faculty and staff (consultants, programmers, and web designers, most affiliated with the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London), and considerable financial support from British and Austrian funders, including the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Austrian Science Fund. 

Today, the interactive digital archive includes Schenker ’s diaries, from 1896 to 1935, lesson books, and a large volume of two-way correspondence, all presented both in transcription and in parallel English translation. A review in the Journal of the American Musicological Society sums up its value: ‘[The] diverse contents record economic hardships, significant political events, quarrels with publishers, intense musical debates, student successes, simple pleasures (a cigar after lunch, an evening radio broadcast), and even dreams (some amusing, others poignant). Public and private, life and work - all are commingled. As in Schenker’s late theory, insight emerges only through the interrelationship of many coexisting levels. ’

The following extracts have all been taken from Schenker Documents Online.

5 February 1907
‘D-minor Quartet of Schoenberg, by [the] Rosé [Quartet]. A single, long-drawn-out atrocity! If there were such a thing as criminals in the realm of art, one would have to count this composer among their ranks, as one born such or perhaps merely turned criminal. Without feeling for key, motive, measure, on its own terms just utterly threadbare, without a trace of technique, and nevertheless at the same time constantly the hugest non-existent, the total sham . . . ’

16 February 1907
‘Exceptionally, at Privy Counselor Redlich’s place, played with companions’ quartet. Unbearable atmosphere; good looks made for bad playing. ’

2 May 1907
‘In the morning, a walk in the Botanic Garden.

Egypt at the Panorama. Reading: ”On Cultivated Plants” by Prof. Giesenhagen (Teubner) has a lovely, profound and liberating effect! ’

14 May 1907
‘My electoral “duty ” fulfilled for the first time, compelled to cast my vote for a socialist. ’

22 May 1907
‘Very gloomy fog, right down to the ground.

Open letter to Mahler signed in a deliberate frame of mind; situation not without humor. ’

2 December 1912
‘My mother found completely at ease, despite having suffered my vehemence. (She had, yet again, inferior evidence of anguish from Mozio).

A joint visit to the Urania suggested by Floriz initially declined. ’

25 September 1913
‘A day of madness: just when I am supposed to go see Mama, the piano tuner appears, Mr. Wolfram gets in my way, the Court Library must be visited as well as the historical exhibition. In the Court Library there are only very few Beethoven autographs to be found, and there I also learn from officials that the Artaria collection went to the Berlin library because the consent to purchase it, in accordance with typical Austrian behavior, arrived believe it or not four hours too late!!! In the historical exhibition, we see quite wonderful pieces of the Rainer papyrus collection, valuable individual documents of Xenophon, and so on.

In the afternoon, at Hertzka ’s. A run-of-the-mill idiot! He again speaks loudly only of his sacrifices and only quietly of my accommodation - speaks loudly about the [costs of] advertising [my work] but is happy to ignore my counter-reckoning - inquires about Weisse as if he wished to publish his work, but immediately curtails his devotion by pretending to await a later opus - inquires again about my works, would like to have some of them, would gladly like to see the Little Library; and since I constantly let him feel that he is, however, too miserly for such business, he replies by saying that he would be prepared, as proof of his not being miserly, to put down 50 Kronen for any well-intended gesture!! And national treasures find their way into hands such as these! I kept him in the dark with regard to Peters, and he is, for the time being, also satisfied with that!! ’

30 November 1913.
‘Express letter from Floriz, in which he expresses his delight that the matter has once again been put right. He already sees the matter as finished, from a simple inclination towards comfort and laxity; he wants to see it as finished so that he - even if prematurely - can proceed towards enjoyment and avoid any effort that might possibly be required if order is to be achieved! In one sense the letter was, however, gratifying, since a small distancing from the sister could be detected, which carried a lot of weight. I hasten to reply to his letter immediately, and finally explain to him that I was almost at the point of resenting him for identifying with his sister even when she perpetrates a serious wrong against someone else! I hope that Floriz will now keep his word and think that his sister ought to behave in a more civilized way!!

Excursion to Hetzendorf; an exceedingly violent gale rages through the downright springlike, sunlit world; a gale that almost has the power to force our imagination out into space, from where we could perceive the whirling of the earth upon its axis. We felt as if we were experiencing the gale not beneath our feet on firm ground but beyond the atmosphere, as observers of the mighty celestial orbit. The sun drew out sap, just as in the springtime; many bushes succumbed to the lure of its rays and sprouted buds, which sparkled joyfully in the sunlight, without realizing how near they were to freezing to death.

The competency of a man. I ask the conductor on the streetcar, who is only temporarily covering our line, whether he is knowledgeable about the distant lines? He replies: Yes, we are obliged to know the entire network, otherwise our job would indeed be very easy. The tone in which he spoke these words would, even from the mouth of a Moltke or a Napoleon, have made a poor impression!

Typically Viennese: a steam laundry adheres to neither its collection nor its delivery times, and does not even respond to an urgent postcard! ’

5 February 1925
‘At Dr. Baumgarten’s: I show him the last statement of account; he writes a letter to UE threatening legal action. We give Mozio 120 dollars. I cannot refrain from mentioning that I could have made Tonwille myself for 32 million, to my own benefit and to the benefit of the world - he plays deaf! Lie-Liechen cannot refrain from reminding him about Frieda - he plays deaf! He offers to intervene with the Philharmonischer Verlag - through Elbemühl; I take his boasting word right out of his mouth, saying: I dismissed this publishing house. Lie-Liechen writes the fair copy of the Largo. ’

22 April 1933
‘The installment from Mozio. Day of Music-Making at the Palais Kinsky. Bamberger incomparable in Mozart ’s Divertimento; in making this judgment, I encounter opposition from people [in the audience]: “Really?” ’

16 February 1934
‘From Sophie (letter): concerning her husband’s health. From UE, account: 82.04 shillings; 47 copies of Brahms, and one volume - Theory of Harmony!! - Via a telephone call to Deutsch, Mrs. van Hoboken gets in touch! Lie-Liechen invites her for afternoon snack tomorrow. I play two movements from suites by Handel to the members of my seminar. After teatime, at Fritz ’s. From Oppel (postcard): he provides the [relevant] issue of Die Zukunft. ’

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Teedon and the poet Cowper

Samuel Teedon, an unremarkable school teacher at Olney, just southeast of Northampton, England, was buried 220 years ago today. He would certainly not be remembered today but for a diary he kept. The diary is not special either, yet it was edited and published a century or so after Teedon’s death because he had been a friend of the poet William Cowper, also once a resident of Olney, who is  mentioned several times in the diary.

Samuel was born in 1736, the son of William and Mary Teedon, in Bedford. He was educated for the church, and was able to read religious texts in Greek and Latin, and some French. It is possible he worked as a tradesman before, in 1775, arriving in Olney, where he took a position as school teacher. His household included three others: a cousin, Elizabeth Killingworth, who he called ‘Mammy’; her son Eusebius or ‘Worthy’ who helped him at the school and worked as a bookbinder; and Polly Taylor, another cousin, or, possibly, his natural daughter. Teedon died in 1798, and was buried in Olney churchyard on 9 June. A little further information can be found on the website of the Olney & District Historical Society.

Most of any information that is available comes from Teedon’s diary, as edited by Thomas Wright (also author of The Life of William Cowper) and published in 1902 by At the Sign of the Unicorn. The Diary of Samuel Teedon (freely available to read online at Internet Archive ) covers only two and a half years (from late 1791 to early 1794) but it is thought there may well have been other diaries, now lost. The extant diary, in fact, was lost for many years, but was rediscovered in 1890, and subsequently donated to the Cowper Museum at Olney in 1900. A number of letters exchanged between Teedon and Cowper have also survived, and it is these, rather than the diary, that provide more detailed information on the relationship between the two, as outlined in Wright’s introduction to the published diary:

‘Teedon, a not uncommon product of the Evangelical movement, had got it into his head that he was especially favoured by Providence, and, extraordinary to say, Teedon’s belief, by and by, came to be shared by Cowper, with the result that, by degrees, the refined and gifted poet got to regard the vain and eccentric schoolmaster as a kind of Delphic oracle. Cowper had seen visions, dreamed dreams, and heard voices. Teedon in like manner received, as he took them to be, revelations from God. But there was this difference; Cowper believed himself a man whom God abhorred; Teedon regarded himself as Heaven’s special favourite. Consequently, whenever in doubt, Cowper had recourse to Teedon. That Teedon was sincere in his convictions we have no reason to doubt. He endeavoured to use his influence for the poet’s good, urging him to keep continually occupied, encouraging him to be frequent in prayer, and assuring him that God in His own time would remove the terrible burden.’

Here are several extracts from Teedon’s diary.

19 October 1791
‘Mr Bean came about 10 of the clock to school to offer in Mr. Thornton’s name the Schoolmastership to the Colony of Sierra Leon[e]. I told him I would consider of it. This I informed my cousins of, & because I did not immediately reject it, a most terrible scene followed. He came again to school & read the letters of Mr Thronton & Mr. Newton writ to introduce him to accept the chaplainship. This was at 4 of the clock. I gave him a positive denial on the score of the climate, yet this did not allay the ferment occasioned. I went to Mr. Sutcliff’s meet.’

17 January 1792
‘I went down to Mr. Hillyard’s meet[in]g. I re[a]d a Note in a very kind manner [from Cowper] inform[in]g me Mrs. Unwin mended every day something, and yesterday walked in the orchard for the first time. I went to Hull’s & was desired to come to-morrow.’

10 November 1793
‘I went to Church in the morn but was taken very ill there just as the sermon was ended. Very ill at home but thro’ mercy compleatly cured by Drinking freely of Brandy. Did not go out on that Acc[oun]t all the day follow[in]g.’

21 December 1793
‘Broke up School to-day, set the Church boys the Collect for Christmas day & to write the Ep[istle] & Gos[pel]. I went to Mrs. Andrews & told her I gave nothing to the Sub[scription] for the Soldiers in Germany &c, & drank some Gin & water. The meet[in]g boys I set part of the 9 Chap of Isa.’

27 January 1794
‘I went to school, it proving a deep snow which came very suddenly. I had but 2 came which I dismissed, & in the afternoon I had but 6. Worthy so ill with his Cough we were all alarmed. I went down to Clark’s bought an handkerchief 2s 6d for Mammy & 4 Ells of cloth for myself 14d per Ell.’

The Diary Junction

Quarrelling with Fyodor

‘I was thankful when this miserable day came to an end, for I detest quarrelling. Fyodor never waked me to give me my good-night kiss, and that is a bad sign. But perhaps it was better so; we should only have started quarrelling again.’ This is Anna Snitkina, the very young second wife of the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, confiding in a diary which she considered as ‘the friend’ to whom she could ‘entrust my hopes, my thoughts, and all my fears’. Anna died a century ago today, but in her later years transcribed some of her diary (written only for a few years, and in shorthand) into Russian; and she also prepared a manuscript of reminiscences about her husband.

Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina was born in 1846 in St Petersburg. On leaving school she trained to be a stenographer. She was engaged by 
Dostoevsky to work on a novel, The Gamblers. By this time, Dostoevsky, in his mid-40s, had completed several novels, including Crime and Punishment. He had also spent four years in a prison camp for subversive writings, travelled much in Europe, developed a gambling addiction, and been married (to Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva, who died in 1864). Within months of meeting Anna, and despite a 25 year age gap, the two were married, in February 1867. Dostoevsky’s gambling debts were such that Anna had to sell her jewellery before the couple could embark on an extended honeymoon in Europe. They remained abroad, in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, for four years, during which time Dostoevsky wrote The Idiot and began work on Demons, and Anna gave birth to two children, though the first died aged three months.

Anna proved to be a steadying influence on her husband, sharing his poverty, enduring his gambling sprees, nursing him through illnesses (he suffered from epilepsy), and helping to manage his finances. On returning to Russia in 1871, the family’s money problems were ongoing, but Anna gave birth to a third child. In 1873, however, they successfully formed their own publishing company, and published Dostoevsky’s Demons. On the back of this success, Dostoevsky launched a periodical, A Writer’s Diary. In 1875, a fourth child was born to the couple in the mineral spa town of Staraya Russa, where they sometimes went for Dostoevsky’s health, and where they eventually bought a house. It was here that Dostoevsky wrote most of his last and most feted book, The Brothers Karamazov. He died in 1881. Thereafter, Anna worked on the archive of literary material and photographs left behind by her husband; and she designed a room in the Historical Museum in Moscow dedicated to him. She also attended to her hobby of stamp-collecting. She died on 9 June 1918. There is a little further information (though not much) about Anna at Wikipedia (as well as within Dostoevsky’s own entry), Russkiy Mir, and

During the first year or two of her marriage, Anna kept a detailed diary in shorthand, filling at least seven notebooks. She only began transcribing this into Russian in the 1890s as an aid to writing her memoirs, and, in fact, only transcribed a small part of the diary, notably six months in 1867. Most of the notebooks no longer seem to be extant, and were possibly destroyed by Anna herself. However, the 1867 diary was published for the first time in Russian in 1923; and Anna’s memoir followed in 1925. The memoir (with extracts from the diary) appeared first in English (Routledge, 1926) and the diary itself appeared two years later. Published as The Diary of Dostoyevsky’s Wife it was edited by René Fülöp-Miller & Dr. Fr. Eckstein, and translated from the German edition by Madge Pemberton (Victor Gollancz, 1928). The memoir - Dostoevsky Portrayed by his Wife - is still in print - see Googlebooks for a preview.

Fülöp-Miller, in his preface, gives Anna’s own explanation
 (as found in the memoir) for why she decided to keep a diary: ‘For the first eighteen months of our married life I kept my diary exclusively in the form of shorthand notes, with occasional gaps of small importance during the time of my illness. I kept this journal for a variety of reasons; for one thing I feared lest, in the rush of new impressions, many small incidents would fade entirely out of my memory; the writing of it, moreover, was an excellent way for me to keep up my shorthand, and help to perfect it into the bargain. But my principal reason was of quite a different nature; my husband was to me such an interesting and wholly enigmatical being, that it seemed to me as though I should find it easier to understand him if I noted down his every thought and expression. Added to which, there was no single soul abroad to whom I could confide either my doubts or my observations, and I came to regard my diary as the friend to whom I could entrust my hopes, my thoughts, and all my fears.’

The following (rather banal) extracts are taken from the 1928 edition of the diary.

2 May 1867
‘I got up at nine, and remembered I must send my letter to Mama, to whom I write every week, and that I simply must ask them about sending money. I enclosed a little note in this letter for Masha, to whom so far I have not written much. Fyodor woke up while I was finishing the letter; and I told him I was going to the post, and went out quickly. I really was back in a few moments, but Fyodor said he would have to keep a fast hold of me, as I was “slippery as a piece of silk.” After tea Fyodor declared he must go to the chemist’s to get some medicine. I was seized with a dreadful fit of jealousy, and thought he was going to meet some other woman. I sat by the window, leaning out as far as I could till I nearly fell out, looking through a pair of field glasses at the way lie went and mum come hack by. Already my heart was filled with all the torment of a deserted wife; my eyes, staring in front of me, were full of tears, and still no Fyodor came. At last I saw my darling strolling along another way home, all unconscious. I went to him at once, and told him what I had been through. (It would have been interesting to know the precise object of my jealousy, for it really could only have been old Ida, or even Frau Zimmermann!) The walk had tired him so much that he sat down and went fast to sleep, after asking me to wake him in half an hour. Suddenly the idiotic thought came into my head that he was dead; full of fear I crept up to him, and saw as I looked at him that he was as alive as could be. I waked him up at a quarter to six; he dressed, and we went through a rather sharp shower out to the Terrace to eat. But there we were to meet with a strange happening, that made it impossible for us to go there for meals in future. Four of the waiters were sitting in the room and playing cards as we went in, and in the room next to it where were only two other customers besides ourselves, only the “Diplomat” was on duty. A Saxon officer came in, and the “Diplomat” flew to serve him. Fyodor knocked, but the “Diplomat” took no notice. Fyodor knocked again, and then the “Diplomat” came up, but made no attempt to listen to us, excused himself, and went back again to the officer. We meant to eat only a la carte, and ordered some soup; the waiter scarcely heard us out, and then brought it to us. Long after we had finished it, he never came near us again, but continued to attend to the officer. Once again Fyodor knocked, and then the waiter spoke very rudely, saying he heard and would be with us presently, and that there was no need to keep on knocking. Then he brought some wine. Fyodor ordered a veal cutlet and two portions of roast fowl. After a while up came the waiter, bringing one portion only of roast chicken. We asked what he meant by it and he declared we had ordered one chicken only. Fyodor put him right and the man went away again saying he would soon bring all we wanted. Fyodor got into a terrible rage. He was all for going away immediately, saying he would not be treated like that by servants, but I took their part as best as I could, as I so wanted to go on dining. Fyodor declared he could wish himself alone. The waiter came back bringing with him one veal cutlet. Obviously he had made this mistake on purpose. Fyodor then completely lost his temper. He asked for the bill which the waiter said came to twenty-two silver groschcn. Fyodor paid him a thaler and wouldn’t take the change up from the table. We left the place, furious. I was really not so furious as Fyodor as to me it had a comic side, our not eating there. I implored him to calm himself, but he wouldn’t, and began to scold. So I told him if he insisted going on like that I would rather go home. Then he began to shout at me and I got so cross I began to go home, but on the way I thought how lonely it would be sitting there all alone, and went to the post instead, to see if there were any letters. But there was nothing, so I bought some cigarettes and went home. Ida told me Fyodor had been back already, walking up and down and then going out again. That made me feel dreadfully upset, for I couldn’t imagine where he had got to. Then I looked out of the window and saw him coming along. I was ever so glad and received him as if nothing had happened. He was pale and agitated, and obviously depressed by our quarrel. He told me how he had hurried after me at once, and not finding me at home thought I must have gone on to the Terrace, to show my independence by eating there. We dressed then and went out in the pouring rain. But where to go we knew not for one can hardly get lunch at eight in the evening. We passed the Hotel Victoria on our way, so we went in. Everything there was very nice and well ordered; newspapers and writing material lying on the tables. We asked for the menu and chose three dishes, and this little meal came to two thalers, ten silver groschen. Certainly everything was beautifully done, but the price is fearfully high. Actually twelve silver groschen for one chop - who ever heard of such a price! We also had ices, and I must say we had never seen such beautiful pink ices as those they brought us, and not really so very dear, either. At nine o’clock, when we had finished our meal we went on our way home again; but to-day was to be a day of disagreements. I had opened my umbrella; but as I do not know how to handle it so beautifully as do these immaculate Germans, I got it all tangled up with some worthy German gentleman. Fyodor started positively yelling at me and for very rage I started to tremble all over. We had to go to the locksmith to get our trunk, but the shop had been closed long ago and all our knocking was in vain. We started quarrelling again once we were at home, drinking tea - oh, what a miserable day! I wanted to talk quite calmly to Fyodor about his journey the next day; but he misunderstood me and started shouting again; that was too much for me; I started shouting myself, and then went into the bedroom. Repentance followed, moaning over my misery, doubts as to whether we were suited to one another, and so on and so forth. How foolish are all these heart storms and all this unhappiness over something that is not really even there! I was thankful when this miserable day came to an end, for I detest quarrelling. Fyodor never waked me to give me my good-night kiss, and that is a bad sign. But perhaps it was better so; we should only have started quarrelling again. Fyodor is going away, not to-morrow, but the day after.’

29 July 1867
‘Early this morning, the weather was perfectly lovely, but towards ten it clouded over and rain began to fall. More boredom, and I simply do not know what to do with myself. I suppose I should go along to the Reading Room, but I don’t like turning up there in my shabby gloves. So I stayed in again all day, and was most dreadfully at a loose end. For sheer lack of occupation I started translating a French book. It would be a good thing to get used to it, and then I should be able to translate something good. The weather was as dismal as my state of mind, and I could hardly wait for our dinner to be brought in, which was better to-day. Afterwards, Fyodor lay down for an hour’s sleep, and I read. When he got up again we went to the post and then on to the Reading Room, where we found a great many people, including ladies. But for some reason or other there was a heavy smell of cabbage, and at the reading table there was no room. We sat down by the window. The man in charge handed Fyodor some Russian papers at once, and we started reading; when it got dark we moved to the table, on which a lamp was burning. An Englishman was wandering around, also wanting to read, but he couldn’t find a proper place, and created quite a disturbance in the room that is usually so silent. It annoyed me very much. I read the “Moscow News” and the “Northern Bee.” At last the fidgety Englishman changed his place, and I was duly glad of it. A Russian lady, fairly elderly, sat herself down next to us and demanded Russian papers. She was probably beautiful in her day, but now is so no more. Like all the Russian women here, she was dressed in Russian fashion, and very badly at that. Then came in a charming girl, whom I, had I been a man, should have fallen in love with. A dear little nose, blue eyes, sable eye-brows, but unfortunately her face so made up that, for all she could not have been more than three and twenty, she appeared quite wrinkled. Finally we went home; on the way, I went into a baker’s shop and bought “Lenten Buns,” which I did not much care for at first, but afterwards continued to eat the whole evening. I was fearfully cold, and shivering all over my body, so that I almost began to think I was sickening for nettle rash. After drinking some tea I lay down on Fyodor’s bed and went to sleep, while he worked and wrote. He told me to-day he was going to start dictating his article to me to-morrow. I am delighted about it as that means I shall have something to do and time will not hang so heavy on my hands. I lay there for a couple of hours, then went to bed, and to sleep again. Fyodor was very sweet when he came to bed later, and said a multitude of nice things.’

The Diary Junction

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Diary briefs

Diary of the Kennedy’s nanny - Daily Mail, Today

Nancy Mitford’s 1968 Paris diary - The Spectator

Hidden pages in Frank’s diary - Anne Frank museum, The New York Times

The Epic Voyages of Maud Berridge - BloomsburyThe Sydney Morning Herald

The Romanovs Under House Arrest - Holy Trinity Publications, Royal Russia News

The War Outside My Window - Casemate publishers, The Telegraph

The Voice of a Heroin Addict - KCBDAmazon

Hangman Pierrepoint’s diary of death - Sumner’s Place Auctions, Daily Express

Mafeking soldier’s diary - Antiquarian AuctionsDaily Express

Alan Rickman’s diaries to be sold - Neil Pearson Rare Books, Daily Mirror

Diary of NZ farmer - MTG Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand Herald

Diary written on castle floorboards - BBC, Daily Mirror

Walter Draycott’s war chronicle - North Vancouver Museums

Fujimoto family diaries - University of California, UCR Today

WW2 Vatican museum diaries - Vatican News

Albert Einstein’s travel diaries -

Diaries of Soviet war children - RT News

George Formby archive found - BBC

Friday, June 1, 2018

What might have been

André Laurendeau, a French Canadian writer and politician, died 60 years ago today. He is most well remembered for spending the last five years of his life as chairman of the ambitious Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, set up in 1963, designed to try and find solutions to the escalating crisis between French and English speaking peoples. The stress and workload of the position, and an increasing despondency at the Commission’s achievements, may have contributed to his early death. He left behind a diary, published in 1991, which, according to Patricia Smart’s introduction, traces his ‘intellectual and personal evolution against the background of the major political events of the years he was involved in the Commission’. But, ultimately, she wonders whether the diary can only serve ‘as a lament for what might have been’. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia ‘the unsolved consequences of biculturalism is still a key question in Canadian unity’.

Laurendeau was born in 1912 in Montreal, into a well-connected Quebec family, his father was an ardent nationalist. André was given a classical education at Collège Sainte-Marie and studied literature and history at the Université de Montréal. In 1933, he and several friends formed a youth separatist movement, advocating a homeland for French Canadians. In June 1935, he married Ghislaine Perrault, and the two of them soon travelled to France, where Laurendeau studied philosophy and social sciences at the Sorbonne. There he eschewed his focus on nationalism, and became more preoccupied with the Americanisation of French-Canadian culture (as opposed to the threat posed by English Canada). Upon returning home, he served as director of the L’Action nationale from 1937 to 1943 which previously had been managed by his father.

Laurendeau came to prominence during the Second World War years as leader of the anti-conscription Bloc populaire, under whose banner he sat in the Quebec Legislative Assembly from 1944 to 1947. Thereafter, he was a member of the editorial board of Le Devoir (and its editor from 1958); he also returned to being a director of L’Action nationale. He is credited with turning Le Devoir into an effective forum for criticism of Maurice Duplessis’s second government (1944-1959).

Laurendeau became a leading spokesman for a wave of neo-nationalism in Quebec, a policy which was adopted by the Québec Liberal Party of Jean Lesage. However, fearing the consequences of a rising tide of separatism, he called for the Québec and Ottawa governments to look into the crisis. Prime Minister Lester Pearson responded in 1963 by creating the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism with Laurendeau and Davidson Dunton as co-chairmen. Laurendeau worked zealously for five years, and although the commission did produce various reports and recommendations, many of which were taken up by the incoming Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, it never published a final volume. Laurendeau died on 1 June 1968, the strain of Commission work being cited as partly responsible for his early death. Further information can be found at Wikipedia and The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Laurendeau kept a diary of his time as co-chairman of the Commission. This was later published, first in French, and then in an English translation as The Diary of André Laurendeau (James Lorimer & Company, Toronto, 1991). Some pages can be freely read online at Googlebooks. The Canadian writer Patricia Smart provides an informative and explanatory introduction. She starts by explaining that the B&B Commission, as it was known, ‘was arguably the most important - also the most lengthy, the most expensive and the most controversial - commission of enquiry in Canada’s history.’

She continues: ‘Were it simply an account of the inner workings of such an important government body, André Laurendeau’s diary would be a valuable document. What makes it far more than that is the image it traces of Laurendeau’s intellectual and personal evolution against the background of the major political events of the years he was involved in the Commission. Begun in January 1964, four months after he had accepted the chairmanship of the Commission, the diary gives a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the way the Commission was put in place, including Laurendeau’s own initial hesitation to accept the position of Co-Chairman and his decision, after consulting with a number of Quebec political figures - Jean Marchand, Rene Levesque, Claude Ryan and others - that he must follow the logic of his commitment to Quebec and Canada to its conclusion. From the beginning, Laurendeau insisted to Prime Minister Pearson that if the inquiry was to be effective it must include culture as well as language, that it must be based on the principle of the equality of Canada’s “two founding peoples,” and that it must have the authorization to include recommendations for constitutional reform.’

And, finally, Smart concludes (in 1991): ‘For today’s readers, André Laurendeau’s pilgrimage in search of a means to allow this country to realize its potential may seems quixotic, or - more frighteningly - no longer worth the effort; and in that case his diary will remain as a lament for what might have been. [However . . .] Even as I write these lines, changes are taking place that may oblige Canadians to come to terms at last with the reality Laurendeau devoted the last years of his life to finding a solution for. With both major political parties in Quebec now committed to a radical restructuring of federalism, the province is speaking from a position of strength that twenty-five years ago Laurendeau had come to suspect was the necessary prerequisite to real dialogue with English Canada.’

It is worth nothing that much more recently Smart has published a book - Writing Herself into Being (McGill-Queen’s Press, 2017) - which includes a discussion of the lifelong diary kept by Laurendeau’s wife, Ghislaine Perrault. Pages of this can also be found online at Googlebooks. Here, though, are several extracts from Laurendeau’s diary.

12 April 1964
‘Woke up this morning in Halifax in a thick fog, amid the screaming of sirens. We arrived here last night on our way to Sydney.

I note some impressions I’ve had over the last few days. Essentially the Maritimer is a Canadian dissatisfied with Canada, who remembers the period before Confederation as a period of prosperity, and who feels a constant need for interventions, at least on the financial level - which means grants from Ottawa. It is not only a political attitude: it’s a profound part of his psychology. He considers himself mistreated almost as much as the Quebecois does, but since he feels weaker economically, and less different from a cultural point of view, his criticisms always lead to more requests for money rather than a demand for greater autonomy.’

2 May 1964
‘On Saturday, April 25, at about 5:00 p.m., return to an impossible life: I leave Montreal first for Toronto, then for Vancouver. During the stopover in Toronto, I learn from the Toronto Star that a commissioner fell asleep at the regional meeting the previous day in Edmonton, and that another spent his time smoking cigarettes in front of a no-smoking sign; a woman in the audience even commented that he must not speak English . . . A disagreeable impression, since all this appears on page 1 of Canada’s largest daily paper. I sit with Neil, Mr. Stinson and Frank Scott on the plane. It’s about 6:30; a red sun is on the point of disappearing over the horizon when the plane takes off. As we’re climbing quite quickly into the sky, the sun all of a sudden seems to be rising. And then we observe an amazing spectacle: a twilight that lasts for four and a half hours. During the first hour, we distinctly see Georgian Bay, then Lake Superior, and finally the desolate view of Northern Ontario. Then a screen of clouds settles in below us, and all we can see is this extraordinary end of a day, so slow that you feel you are out of time. It is only when we’re approaching Vancouver that night falls.

Dr. Walden meets us at the airport, and it’s a good thing: for the second time my suitcase has been lost, and I have to borrow a pair of pyjamas, buy a toothbrush and shave with someone else’s razor.

The stay in Vancouver starts out rather painfully. It’s not yet ten o’clock by Vancouver time and Dunton, who arrived the same day from Edmonton, isn’t yet back from dinner. Marchand, Gagnon, Lacoste and Boisvert are travelling by train. The others gradually drift into our suite, and I learn in bits and pieces that the Edmonton incident was decidedly disgraceful, and that it could have led to unpleasant consequences. Two of the commissioners had had too much to drink at dinner; one snored through the session, despite the nudges of Jean Marchand, who was sitting beside him, and the other made some imprudent comments (specifically on the need for a new newspaper in Edmonton). The staff were disappointed and humiliated by this public behaviour. The next day I learned that Jean Marchand royally chewed out one of the commissioners, who failed to understand his veiled allusions. All this seems far away now, but at the time we were all thinking of what would have happened if a newspaper had photographed our indiscreet sleeping friend. When Dunton arrived he seemed nervous and even aggressive, which is not his usual style. . .

The Commission met at 5:00 p.m. (the next day) for a briefing from Dr. Walden, who has done excellent work and recruited some remarkable collaborators. We ate on the run because at 8:00 there was a press conference in the presence of about twenty high-school students and the discussion leaders for the next day’s session. It wasn’t a very good blend: it meant we had a gathering in which the journalists felt a bit lost; and we had to exclude them from the meeting once the interviews were over . . . Once they were gone - and one of them surreptitiously tried to stay - it became a lot more interesting. Neil Morrison said a few words, and immediately the young people started to come forth with questions and opinions. I have only a vague recollection of what they said; I think it dealt mainly with language questions: Is it possible to learn French in Vancouver? Why this pre-eminence being given to French? How “good” is the French spoken by French Canadians? etc. Their ignorance of Quebec is no greater than that of other groups. And yet Dunton caught them out with a clever question: “How many of you know that Quebec has a rural majority?” All the hands were raised, and we burst out laughing. Dunton made the correction: 65% of the province is now urban, to which we could have added that there hasn’t been a rural majority since 1921. These young people are a good forty years behind the times; but it’s true that we took a long time ourselves to notice this transformation. This meeting, which lasted over an hour, was truly refreshing, and one had the feeling it could have gone on for hours. But to be really fruitful it would have had to contain a presentation on Quebec - which brings us back to our insoluble problem: for it’s a presentation we can’t make ourselves and that we can’t officially ask anyone else to make.

Finally, a fairly technical discussion with the group leaders, then coffee. A young businessman said to me: “Do you know why I’m here this evening? Like most people, I was fairly indifferent to this problem. About a month ago, I heard a speech by a young Liberal MP, a man with an attractive personality, very French Canadian. When he spoke in French, I said to myself: I don’t understand a thing he’s saying, no more than if he were speaking Russian; and yet he’s using the language spoken by a third of the Canadian people. My ignorance seemed to me abnormal.” Unfortunately, one swallow doesn’t a springtime make . . .

On Monday the 28th, the evening regional meeting was held in a shopping centre, almost in the suburbs. We expected a fiasco, but more than 400 people came. All the commissioners and group leaders were crowded onto a little stage, blinded by floodlights, but just the same it was a very lively meeting. It started out with a series of negative comments on Quebec, one after the other, very disagreeable to listen to; the theme was that of a “retarded people,” and retarded through its own fault. And then a young man I had met earlier in the day got up and said: “Keep on insulting French Canadians like this, and you’ll create thousands more new separatists in Quebec.” That was the turning point: others pointed out the large number of errors and prejudice in what had just been expressed, tried to set the record straight, etc. Neil was very nervous, and irritated by the comments he was constantly getting from the commissioners sitting near him. Once the meeting ended, he lost his temper: “This is the last meeting that I chair.” There was no point in trying to talk to him at that moment.

We went back and chatted in our suite, and later Jean-Louis, Mrs. Laing and I went out to eat in an Italian restaurant.’

9 September 1964
‘. . . I went to Ottawa Tuesday evening, August 25, and got in touch with the Commission the next day. It was mostly a matter of setting up the meeting for the following week. The calendar set up in July has been followed to a certain extent: all those concerned - with the exception of Dunton and Morrison, away on holidays - sent in their drafts on the agreed dates. Personnel did, too. As for phase two, that is, comments on the texts that are in, the deadlines weren’t met with the same rigour. The projected overview has been done, to some extent, by a staff member, Mr. Hawkins. In addition, Mr. Dunton, when he came back from his holidays, wrote a plan for the entire report, which was sent to me in Saint-Ga- briel at the end of mine. It’s truly a wonderful text, with a simple and convincing tone, that brings together a considerable number of facts and impressions. Its shortcoming is probably the fact that it doesn’t bring out the crisis aspect enough, a crisis which most of the commissioners sense keenly in Canada at the present time, and which Léon Dion had proposed we use as the report’s central theme . . .’

8 February 1965
‘A lot has gone on recently that I don’t have time to go into, but I will go into one incident having to do with the Department of External Affairs.

Occasionally, ever since the beginning of the inquiry, French-Canadian civil servants have proved to be very uncooperative. It’s quite understandable: in order for them to pursue a career in the civil service as it now exists, they have had to accept it for the most part, even though it was hard on them and they did their best to see it progress to some extent.

Everything I’ve just said applies, I believe, to Marcel Cadieux, Assistant Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. We learned that the officials of this department wanted to submit a crucial paper; Mr. Cadieux intervened, and there would no longer be a paper. He didn’t like our using André Patry to investigate various aspects related to Canada abroad. He made his position clear to us through a letter signed by his minister, Mr. Martin, after which we met him. He was accompanied by one of his departmental chiefs who was taking notes. His official attitude came down to this: the Commission was not asked to investigate Canada’s foreign policy - which was patently obvious, no more than it was asked to investigate the running of trains by CNR, or the way the Armed Forces ensure Canada’s defence. However, we have to sniff around quite a bit to fulfil our mandate. And that’s what we answered, unwaveringly. Another letter from Mr. Cadieux summarized the meeting leaving out essential details, but Mr. Dunton courteously set the record straight in a subsequent letter. It was even said that Mr. Cadieux was quietly campaigning against our way of doing things with his colleagues, the deputy ministers. It remains to be seen if this is in fact true and what consequences it might have.’