Friday, June 28, 2019

Two nebulae in Leo

‘I ‘swept’ last night two hours, by three periods. It was a grand night - not a breath of air, not a fringe of a cloud, all clear, all beautiful. I really enjoy that kind of work, but my back soon becomes tired, long before the cold chills me. I saw two nebulae in Leo with which I was not familiar, and that repaid me for the time.’ This is from the diary of Maria Mitchell, an early American astronomer, who died 130 years ago day. She earned worldwide fame by discovering a comet, and later became the first female professional astronomer in the US.

Mitchell was born in Nantucket, an island of the coast of Massachusetts, in 1818 into a large Quaker family (10 children). Her father was a teacher with a strong interest in maths and astronomy. For a while, he had his own school, where Maria studied and helped out, but when it closed she attended a local minister’s school for young ladies, and helped out there too. When Maria opened her own school - aged only 16 - she allowed non-white children to attend. In 1836, though, she went to work as the first librarian for the newly launched Nantucket Atheneum - a position she held for 20 years.

On the night of 1 October 1847, Mitchell discovered Comet 1847 VI (modern designation C/1847 T1) which later became known as Miss Mitchell’s Comet. Under her father’s name she published a notice of her find in Silliman’s Journal the following January, and subsequently submitted her calculation of the comet’s orbit, ensuring her claim as the original discoverer. She won a prestigious gold medal from Denmark for the discovery. This brought her fame, but also helped establish the importance of American astronomy, previously looked down on by the Europeans. She became the first woman elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1848 and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1850. She also contributed to the U.S. Nautical Almanac Office, calculating tables of positions of Venus.

On leaving the Atheneum in 1856, Mitchell travelled in the United States and in Europe. She was appointed professor of astronomy at the newly established Vassar College in 1865 where she had access to a twelve-inch telescope, the third largest in the US. She defied social conventions by allowing her female students out at night for class work and celestial observations, and she brought noted feminists to speak on political issues. She taught at the college until her retirement in 1888. She had never married; and she died on 28 June 1889. Further information is available from the Maria Mitchell Association, Wikipedia, or the National Women’s History Museum.

Mitchell kept a diary for much of her life, although the only extant manuscripts date from September 1854. After her death, her youngest sister, Phebe Mitchell Kendall, used them extensively for her biographical work: Maria Mitchell - Life, Letters and Journals (Lee and Shepherd, 1896). This is freely available online at Internet Archive; and an appreciation of her journals can be found at Brainpickings. More recently, Henry Albers has published a similar biography - entitled Maria Mitchell: A Life in Journals and Letters (College Avenue Press, 2001) - with many quotations from the diaries. Some pages of this can be read at Amazon. According to Albers, the Maria Mitchell Association holds about 70 of Mitchell’s notebooks (containing letters, diaries, speeches and classroom lectures as well as visiting cards, articles on astronomy, et.). He also notes that Phebe used several quotations from diaries kept by her sister that are no longer extant, i.e. those prior to September 1854.

The following extracts are all taken from the 1896 biography of Mitchell by her sister.

19 February 1853
‘I am just learning to notice the different colors of the stars, and already begin to have a new enjoyment. Betelgeuse is strikingly red, while Rigel is yellow. There is something of the same pleasure in noticing the hues that there is in looking at a collection of precious stones, or at a flower-garden in autumn. Blue stars I do not yet see, and but little lilac except through the telescope.’

11 May 1853
‘I could not help thinking of Esther [a much-loved cousin who had recently died] a few evenings since when I was observing. A meteor flashed upon me suddenly, very bright, very short-lived; it seemed to me that it was sent for me especially, for it greeted me almost the first instant I looked up, and was gone in a second, - it was as fleeting and as beautiful as the smile upon Esther’s face the last time I saw her. I thought when I talked with her about death that, though she could not come to me visibly, she might be able to influence my feelings; but it cannot be, for my faith has been weaker than ever since she died, and my fears have been greater.’

2 March 1854
‘I ‘swept’ last night two hours, by three periods. It was a grand night - not a breath of air, not a fringe of a cloud, all clear, all beautiful. I really enjoy that kind of work, but my back soon becomes tired, long before the cold chills me. I saw two nebulae in Leo with which I was not familiar, and that repaid me for the time. I am always the better for open-air breathing, and was certainly meant for the wandering life of the Indian.’

22 September 1854
‘On the evening of the 18th while ‘sweeping’ there came into the field the two nebulae in Ursa Major which I have known for many a year, but which to my surprise now appeared to be three. The upper one (as seen in an inverted telescope) appeared double headed like one near the Dolphin, but much more decided than that. The space between the two heads being plainly discernible and subtending a very decided angle. The bright part of the object was clearly the old nebulae but what was the appendage? Had the nebula suddenly changed, was it a comet, or was it only a very fine night?
Father decided at once for the comet, I hesitated with my usual cowardice and forbade his giving it a notice in the paper.

I watched it from 8.30 to 11.30 almost without cessation and was quite sure at 11.30 that its position with regard to the neighboring stars had changed. I counted its distance from the known nebula several times but the whole affair was difficult, for there were flying clouds and sometimes both nebula and comet were too indistinct to be definitely seen.

The 19th was cloudy and the 20th the same with the variety of wearisome breaks, through which I could see the nebula but not the comet.

On the 21st came a circular and behold Mr. van Arsdale had seen it on the 13th but had not been sure of it until the 15th on account of the clouds. I was too well pleased with having really made the discovery to care because I was not first.

Let the Dutchman have the reward of his sturdier frame and steadier nerves.

Especially could I be a Christian because the 13th was cloudy and more especially because I dreaded the responsibility of making the computations nolens nolens [willy-nilly] which I must have done to be able to call it mine. . .

I made observations for three hours last night, and am almost ill to-day from fatigue; still I have worked all day, trying to reduce the places, and mean to work hard again to-night.’

25 September 1854
‘I began to recompute for the comet, with observations of Cambridge and Washington, to-day. I have had a fit of despondency in consequence of being obliged to renounce my own observations as too rough for use. The best that can be said of my life so far is that it has been industrious, and the best that can be said of me is that I have not pretended to what I was not.’

24 November 1854
‘Yesterday James Freeman Clarke, the biographer of Margaret Fuller [a journalist and editor associated American transcendentalism, and an advocate of women’s rights], came into the Atheneum. It was plain that he came to see me and not the institution. . . He rushed into talk at once, mostly on people, and asked me about my astronomical labors. As it was a kind of flattery, I repaid it in kind by asking him about Margaret Fuller. He said she did not strike any one as a person of intellect or as a student, for all her faculties were kept so much abreast that none had prominence. I wanted to ask if she was a lovable person, but I did not think he would be an unbiassed judge, she was so much attached to him.’

16 December 1855
‘All along this year I have felt that it was a hard year - the hardest of my life. And I have kept enumerating to myself my many trials; to-day it suddenly occurred to me that my blessings were much more numerous. If mother’s illness was a sore affliction, her recovery is a great blessing; and even the illness itself has its bright side, for we have joyed in showing her how much we prize her continued life. If I have lost some friends by death, I have not lost all. If I have worked harder than I felt that I could bear, how much better is that than not to have as much work as I wanted to do. I have earned more money than in any preceding year; I have studied less, but have observed more, than I did last year. I have saved more money than ever before, hoping for Europe in 1856.’

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Plant hunting in America

‘Nothing, as far as the eye could perceive, but mountains such as I was on, and many higher, some rugged beyond any description, striking the mind with horror blended with a sense of the wondrous works of the Almighty. The aerial tints of the snow, the heavenly azure of the solid glaciers, the rainbow-like hues of their thin broken fragments, the huge mossy icicles hanging from the perpendicular rocks with the snow sliding from the steep southern rocks with amazing velocity, producing a crash and grumbling like the shock of an earthquake, the echo of which resounding in the valley for several minutes.’ This is from a diary kept by the much admired Scottish botanist, David Douglas, born 220 years ago today. In a short life - he died in his mid-30s - he discovered hundreds of plant species in North America, and introduced many of them to Britain. His name has also been given to an important evergreen conifer - Douglas fir - as well as to scores of scientific names of plant and animal species.

Douglas was born in Scone, very near Perth, Scotland, on 25 June 1799, the second son of a stonemason. He attended a local school, and was then apprenticed, aged 11, to the gardener at Scone Palace, the seat of the Earl of Mansfield. After seven years in this position, he went to study at a college in Perth. In 1817 he moved to work in the gardens of Sir Robert Preston, at Valleyfield in Fife, where he was given access to an extensive botany library. Three years later Douglas took up a post in the Botanical Gardens of the University of Glasgow. Here, his potential was recognised by the Professor of Botany, Sir William Hooker, and the two mounted a number of botanical expeditions into the Highlands together.

In 1823, Douglas was recommended by Hooker to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) for an expedition to America to collect plants. He spent the latter half of that year in Philadelphia. The RHS were pleased enough with his notes and seeds to send him back, with sponsorship by Hudson’s Bay Company, this time to the Pacific northwest. He arrived in Fort Vancouver in April 1825, and travelled inland to Hudson Bay, which he reached in 1827.

In 1830, Douglas returned for a third trip, to explore California and the Fraser River region, stopping in Hawaii on the way. He returned to Hawaii in December 1833, intending to remain there only a few months, but he was still there in July when he met his death, being gored in a trap by a wild bull. He was only 35. Douglas is credited with discovering many new animal and plant species, not least the Douglas fir which bears his name. 
He introduced several hundred plants to Great Britain and hence to Europe; and eighty species of plants and animals have douglasii in their scientific names. Further biographical information can be found at Wikipedia, Discovering Lewis & Clark, the Oregon Encyclopaedia, or The Douglas Archives.

In 1914, the RHS finally published, what it called, Journal kept by David Douglas during his travels in North America 1823-1827 together with a particular description of thirty-three species of American oaks and eighteen species of pinus. The book, freely available at Internet Archive, is a medley of journals, letters, memoir material, and scientific lists of species with descriptions. There are diaries from each of the three different trips Douglas made to America, but it is the journal of his second trip that takes up the bulk of the book (more than 200 pages of 350 in total).

Here is how the RHS secretary, W. Wilks, explains, in a preface, why it took so long to publish Douglas’s diaries:

‘Many causes have contributed to the delay which has taken place in the publication of the Diaries of David Douglas’s journeys on behalf of the Royal Horticultural Society :—
1. The handwriting is nowhere easy to read, and in places is most difficult, occasionally almost if not quite impossible.
2. In the course of nearly one hundred years the ink has faded and become in places very hard to decipher.
3. After the Diary of his journey in North Western America had been prepared for the press and set up in type, a second manuscript was discovered which was at first sight taken to be a duplicate, but which on closer examination was found to contain a great deal of additional information. It had therefore to be compared word for word with the Diary and the additions inserted in their proper places.
4. All the botanical names mentioned have been very carefully looked up by Mr. H. R. Hutchinson and the name given to the plant in Index Kewensis or by other later authority is quoted at the bottom of the page with a reference to the author responsible for it.
5. Last, but by no means least, the work was entrusted to the Secretary of the Society and to Mr. Hutchinson, the Librarian, each of whom had already more work in hand than he could conveniently compass, and only occasional spare time could be given to a work which had already waited nearly one hundred years for publication before it was committed to their charge.’

The following extracts are all from the first journal, except for the last which is from the second.

3 June 1823
‘LONDON: left Charing Cross by coach for Liverpool. Morning very pleasant; had rained through the night, country very fine for seventeen miles from the metropolis; found during time of changing horses Conferva egerops (Ball) confer. Beautiful fields at Woburn Abbey tastefully laid out and divided by hedgerows in which are planted Horse-chestnuts (Aesculus Hippocastanum) at regular distances, ail in full flower; had a very imposing appearance. Menyanthes nymphoides, for the first time I ever saw it in its natural state. Northampton at 2.30 o’clock p.m., rested 25 minutes; reached Lancaster quarter to 10 p.m., took supper, started again half past 10, rain during the night; very cold. Arrived at Liverpool 4 o’clock afternoon. After calling on Messrs. Monal & Woodward and learning that the Ann Maria of New York was to sail the following morning, in which a passage had been taken for me, I arranged my business as to my departure and made for Botanic Garden. Mr. Shepherd received me in the most handsome manner; showed me all his treasures (of which not a few were from North America).’ 

6 June 1823
‘On board at 9 o’clock A.M. in tow of two power steam-boats, which left 15 miles down the channel; we made but little progress, wind being rather contrary.’

2 August 1823
‘The ship this morning was all in an uproar, in consequence of a horse, which one of the passengers had, being looked on as dying; it cost him £200 in England, and after troubled passage the poor man lost his horse. At 12 o’clock saw light at Sandy Hook.’

3 August 1823
‘Four o’clock A.M. saw more of the New World. Every face seemed to feel glad, and at 7 A.M. took a pilot on board; at 10 passed the floating light lately erected, the Captain of which came on board of the Ann Maria; 4 o’clock passed the Nourain waspe, and the other forts on the right and left; half-past 4 cast anchor and considered ourselves at land; 5 o’clock boarded by the Health Officer, who signified that fourteen days of quarantine was requisite in consequence of small-pox; at 6 o’clock went on shore on Staten; returned to the vessel at 7.’

11 August 1823
‘Early this morning I went to the vegetable market, the Fulton. It had a beautiful appearance, beet of superior variety and fine carrots, raised in this country; I observed a very great deficiency of cauliflower, indeed they were miserably poor; onions were fine, mostly red; the immense supply of melons and cucumbers - the latter of which, however, were not so fine as may be expected and appeared for the most part to be the same as the short prickly ones cultivated in England - the melons were fine. An abundant supply of early apples, pears, peaches - the two former were fine, but the peaches looked rather bad, being ripened immaturely and the trees being sickly; immense varieties of squashes or gourds, plums, early damsons, a great supply of pineapples from the West Indies, and cocoanuts. I observed a fine head of Musa sapientum which weighed 40 lb. At 8 o’clock this morning we set off for Flushing and visited the establishment of Mr. Prince. I found him a man of but moderate liberality; he has some good specimens of Magnolia, of Berberis Aquifolium, a few European plants, common shrubs and herb plants. Indeed on the whole I must confess to be somewhat disappointed, for his extensive catalogue and some talk had heightened my idea of it; but most of his ground is covered over with weeds. I was much pleased with the beautiful villas on the banks of the Sound; saw people employed in preparing their operations for diving to the Hussar, a British frigate taken during the late war.’

1 January 1824
‘On the morning of the New Year, I had the gratification of seeing the rocky shores of Cornwall and with a continued steady wind came to an anchorage off Dover on Saturday morning.’


1 May 1826
‘This morning our fire that was kindled on the snow had sunk into a hole 6 feet deep, making a natural kitchen. Minimum heat 2°, maximum 44°, on the highest part of the big hill. Started at daybreak, finding the snow deeper and the trees gradually diminish towards the summit; laborious to ascend. Went frequently off the path in consequence of not seeing the marks on the trees, being covered with the snow. Reached the top at ten, three miles, where we made a short stay to rest. Course north-east. Descended in the same direction and came on the river which we left two days before. Passed in the valley two small level spots clear of wood and one low point of wood of small trees, Pinus nigra and P. Banksiana, where we camped at midday, being unable to proceed further from the deep soft snow. Progress seven miles. Mr. E. killed on the height of land a most beautiful male partridge, a curious species; small; neck and breast jet black; back of a lighter hue; belly and under the tail grey, mottled with pure white; beak black; above the eye bright scarlet, which it raises on each side of the head, screening the few feathers on the crown; resembles a small well-crested domesticated fowl; leaves of Pinus nigra in the crop. This is the sort of bird mentioned to me by Mr. McLeod as inhabiting the higher parts of Peace and Smoky Rivers. This, however, is not so large as described. Perhaps there may be two varieties. Said also to be found in Western Caledonia. This being the first I have seen, could not resist the temptation of preserving it, although mutilated in the legs and in any circumstances little chance of being able to carry it, let alone being in a good state. The flesh of the partridge remarkably tender when new killed, like game that has been killed several days; instead of being white, of a darkish cast. After breakfast at one o’clock, being as I conceive on the highest part of the route, I became desirous of ascending one of the peaks, and accordingly I set out alone on snowshoes to that on the left hand or west side, being to all appearance the highest. The labour of ascending the lower part, which is covered with pines, is great beyond description, sinking on many occasions to the middle. Half-way up vegetation ceases entirely, not so much as a vestige of moss or lichen on the stones. Here I found it less laborious as I walked on the hard crust. One-third from the summit it becomes a mountain of pure ice, sealed far over by Nature’s hand as a momentous work of Nature’s God. The height from its base may be about 5500 feet: timber, 2750 feet; a few mosses and lichen, 500 more; 1000 feet of perpetual snow; the remainder, towards the top 1250, as I have said, glacier with a thin covering of snow on it. The ascent took me five hours; descending only one and a quarter. Places where the descent was gradual, I tied my shoes together, making them carry me in turn as a sledge. Sometimes I came down at one spell 500 to 700 feet in the space of one minute and a half. I remained twenty minutes, my thermometer standing at 18°; night closing fast in on me, and no means of fire, I was reluctantly forced to descend. The sensation I felt is beyond what I can give utterance to. Nothing, as far as the eye could perceive, but mountains such as I was on, and many higher, some rugged beyond any description, striking the mind with horror blended with a sense of the wondrous works of the Almighty. The aerial tints of the snow, the heavenly azure of the solid glaciers, the rainbow-like hues of their thin broken fragments, the huge mossy icicles hanging from the perpendicular rocks with the snow sliding from the steep southern rocks with amazing velocity, producing a crash and grumbling like the shock of an earthquake, the echo of which resounding in the valley for several minutes. On the rocks of the wood were Menziesia caerulea; Andromeda hypnoides; Lycopodium alpinum; L. sp. unknown to me; dead stems of Gentiana nivalis; Epilobium sp., small; Salix herbacea; Empetrum nigrum, fruit in a good state of preservation underneath the snow; Juncus triglumis; J. biglumis, with a few Musci, Jungermanniae and lichens.’

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Society in Salem

‘We now have seriously the Cold of Winter. The Therm, at Zero. Politics become more sour as the severity of winter increases.’ This is the Reverend William Bentley, born 260 years ago today, writing in the diary he kept for most of his life. He served as a church minister in Salem, Massachusetts, and was much involved in the local community. His diary is a gossipy, informative read, covering a wide range of news acquired from his own observations/conversations as well as from the newspapers - indeed his diary is considered an ‘invaluable compendium’ of social and political observations.

Bentley was born in Boston on 22 June 1759, son of a ship’s carpenter, though as a child he lived with his well-off grandfather, a miller. He studied at academic schools, learning Greek and Latin, before entering Harvard College aged 14 where he studied oriental languages. He graduated in 1777, and started to teach at Boston while continuing his studies. He also tutored at Harvard itself, and preached at local churches. In 1783, he began to serve as a minister of East Church in Salem, a position he retained for the rest of his life. From 1794, he contributed a weekly news summary for William Carleton’s Salem Gazette, and he continued doing so until 1817. He also contributed regularly to the Essex Register and the Essex Gazette. He learned many languages, was said to be fluent in seven, and amassed a private library of over 4,000 volumes. In 1805, while planning the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson invited Bentley to be its first president, however the offer was declined.

Bentley travelled extensively, maintained active memberships in a fire club, a military unit and a Masonic Lodge. He also helped organise and support a number of music societies and was founder of the East India Marine Society. Indeed, his personal inventory of artefacts and curiosities later became the foundation for the society’s museum collection. Among his many friends, he counted James Winthrop, a fellow Harvard alumnus. Bentley never married but boarded for more than 20 years with Hannah Crowninshield. He tutored her niece as well as others. He received an honorary Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Harvard in 1819, and died later that same year. Further information is available at Wikipedia, Salemweb, Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography, and Harvard Library.

Bentley was an avid diarist - indeed he is even listed in some places as a diarist and a minister. He kept his diary from 1785 until his death. SNAC (Social Networks and Archival Context) says it ‘is an invaluable compendium of gossip, shipping news, vital statistics, social and political observations, and petty miscellany, in the period of Salem’s prominence as a major commercial center.’ The Diary of William Bentley D.D. was first published - as far as I can tell - between 1905 and 1911 in four volumes (1785-1792, 1793-1802, 1803-1810, 1811-1819) by the Essex Institute (in Salem). All four volumes can be freely accessed at Internet Archive. Here are several extracts from volumes one, three and four.

1 March 1790
‘Drafted a Petition in favor of Capt Ashton, &c. to Selectmen of Salem, remonstrating against the State of the New Road, leading to Essex Bridge.’

2 March 1790
‘The Federal District Court for the first time opened this day in Salem. The Hon: John Lowell, Judge.[. . .] The Judge addressed the Jury in an excellent manner, & Revd Hopkins prayed.’

3 March 1790
‘The Jury sat all last night upon a Seizure & could not agree, & were dismissed this morning. Mr Phippen buried two children in one procession, the first instance within my own knowledge. Both carried in Chaises. Another Jury was collected from the Town who decided upon the short entry, & whether the entries at the State Offices were valid for the Continental Office after the Constitution of the States took place, but before the appointment of officers, & decided both points at once without hesitation. Such are our Juries, & this is the specimen given to us at the first Court, in which Mr. Parsons of Newbury seems to have an unbounded influence.’

4 March 1790
‘A Chimney belonging to Capt J. Gardiner took fire, it being a very windy day, & it burnt with great fury. It has communication with one of your Open Stoves called Philadelphian. This shows the need of these Franklin Stoves, in which by lamina over & under which the smoke passing into the Chimney, the soot is detained in the Stove, & can be cleansed from the lamina upon which it lodges. The Ventilator on the side makes the passage easy for the smoak.’

5 March 1790
‘General Catalogue of Social Library in Salem, as taken from L. Books [appearing in the original is here omitted.]. This Catalogue is taken almost literally from the Catalogue shewn me in the Library by Master Noyes (& tho’ it is very badly arranged), being short, it may be read over in a few minutes. The Library has been collected for some time. There have been no additions to it since the War, deserving of notice. In the War a Library including Phil. Transactions, &c. was taken, going to Canada, which has laid the foundation of a distinct Philosophical Library & this is the object of present attention.’

16 December 1807
‘A man named Benjamin Brown, attempting to pass from a boat on the flat to the shore, fell into one of the mud holes dug for the wharves & perished last evening. He was heard but assistance could not be afforded him seasonably. Mr. Chandler who keeps the school near the Branch for proprietors, was at B. B. this evening. This is the fourth year. The first Master Rogers, then Tappan. Tappan has a school at the other end of the town among his particular friends. A new School is projected. A Master’s School for Misses in the fine arts. This is also to be a School for Subscribers like the three Schools in this town under Knap, Tappan & Chandler. I do not know how far it has progressed.’

17 December 1807
‘Mr. B. Brown was interred this evening. As soon as the body was found it was conveyed to the Charity House as the body of a stranger. But his Brethren of the sea refused the Charity & with their usual generosity insisted upon his regular interment at their own expense. They went to the full extent of the funeral charges & no refusal, tho’ repeated, would allow me to dispense with my silk gloves under any pretences. I accepted & gave them to the family of the Sexton. The Seamen were present in remarkable good order & 153 of them accompanied the procession & afterwards returned with it to the house in which their deceased friend lived. I never saw a more happily conducted act of friendship & sympathy.’

5 January 1808
‘We now have seriously the Cold of Winter. The Therm, at Zero. Politics become more sour as the severity of winter increases. Why the Embargo? say all. Some reply, because of France. Some of England. Some hope it will make the administration unpopular. Others wish to complain but they dare not give the opposition so much pleasure. Where interest prevails & patriotism is little known, we can hope nothing from the latter without some present hopes of the former. Prosperity has been at the helm & has corrupted us. Integrity cannot command, without hazard, that obedience will be refused. Failures are expected & the Nat[ional] Int[elligencer] tells us that the daring speculations of individuals deserve to be exposed & prevented. The embargo is general. The attempt to exempt the Fisheries, tho’ supported by all the members from Massachusetts, was unavailing.’

11 February 1808
‘Another melancholy occurrence in English street. A Mrs. Buchanan, alias Getchel, alias Lane, was in the afternoon setting before the fire with a child in her arms, in a fit of intoxication. The child fell from her arms into the fire & before aid was obtained the child was past recovery. The woman has always been thought below the ordinary character of her sex & her habits were known from the difficulty of rousing her. It is an aggravated evil as her numerous & deserving relatives feel more than the insensible fool who has brought disgrace & shame. As this is the second burning to death this season & the first season in which any such thing has happened it is more interesting to notice it. In the former case no suspicion attached itself to the event.’

7 September 1810
‘The Census of Salem is now before the world & the increase has been rapid indeed. So that their own blood which has flowed in our veins has not been unfavourable to increase, activity, powerful attraction. The Negroes have not increased, the worst part of our population, as Men without trades, tyes, & tribute must be. I impute the decrease to the number of sober citizens, & not without property, who finish the life of a seamen in the little offices of labourers & who have character, property, & ability enough to deserve attention.’

22 May 1815
‘A sad alarm at the Post Office. Long suspicions have ended in discovery that the late Robbery of the Mail was done in the Office. One of the Lads has been detected. Everything is done to conceal the matter & the boy is admitted to bonds. Had circumstances been different we should have found the treatment different. The public mind will soon require a change in this office. Lookers out may be found. Some of our Prisoners have returned from England & report between 5 & 6 thousand. Above two thousand of these are to be found among the Impressed men, when the wretches who talk much of integrity have reported to the State a less number than has been found in Salem, only one town upon a coast of several hundred miles. The vilest policy could not venture upon greater insults to the understanding of men.’

29 May 1816
‘I went this morning to see the Elephant now on a visit to this town. I went in the morning when I might examine him without any of the tricks he has been taught to play. I saw nothing pleasing in the form or wonderful in his endowments. His surprising volume will be contemplated with astonishment. His place in Creation is yet to be assigned. Mr. Dane told me he had seen an Ox of 3 th. pounds who was a much nobler animal to survey but that enormous volume did not give but half the weight of this Animal tho it gave 3/4. of its height & not much short of its length. The Elephant is 13 feet round the body. What must our mammoth be?’

12 June 1816
‘Saw on the neck for the first time Rock Splitting at the great Rocks near the Causeway, neck side. First, an entrance was made by a long handled pick much like that used upon mill stones, squared to a point. Then the holes were made by a flat chisel tapering to a point. Then the wedges, four inches long, were put in between pieces of iron hoop & drove home bv a large iron maul. At both splittings the wedges were driven only twice & caused a fracture of more than two feet square in the hard black rock of the neck. The person at work said the Danvers rocks were not so hard, & did not make that ringing under the chisel which he called like pot metal. In few seasons have we heard more hitter complaints against cold weather than since June has come in, tho the winter & the whole season, if I may judge from the woodpile, has been as moderate as 1 have ever known. We shall soon hear complaints of heat.’

13 June 1816
‘Our fishermen have had good fares upon the Banks but think as something is always wanting, that they should have done better had they been permitted to fish nearer the shores. Five fishing vessels with 40 hands including men & boys returned to Province town, point of Cape Cod, with 1000 quintals each. Marblehead begins to revive & having a staple will out step us in Salem if we do not move quicker, says the people of Salem.’

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Like wolves and hyaenas

’A fortnight ago a party of Bau men pillaged many of the plantations of Verata, & killed several persons: and this week they went in greater numbers, - ravaged part of the territories of the king of Verata, burned two settlements, killed 260 human beings, and brought away many prisoners. For two days they have been tearing and devouring one another like wolves and hyaenas.’ This is the Scottish missionary David Cargill, born 210 years ago today, writing in his diary about life on the island of Fiji in the 1830s.

Cargill was born on 20 June 1809 in Brechin, Forfarshire, Scotland, the second son of a banker. He graduated from King’s College, Aberdeen in 1830. Whilst studying he had joined the Aberdeen Methodist Circuit, and in 1831 he was admitted to the church as a preacher. The following year
 he got married, to Margaret Smith, and he also received his first missionary appointment for the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, to Tonga, in the South Pacific. Soon after the couple sailed for Australia, and eventually, to Tonga. They worked together there, with another missionary for three years, helping Christian development. The Cargills then moved with their young family and other missionaries to the Fiji Islands, where Christian influence had yet to take hold. David Cargill is credited alongside his co-worker, William Cross, with establishing the first Wesleyan Church in Fiji.

As a trained linguist, Cargill wrote the first grammar and dictionary for a Fijian language and he also supervised the translation of parts of the Bible into Fijian. Margaret died in 1840, and grief stricken, he returned to Britain with his four daughters. He remarried on 27 November 1841, to Augusta Bicknell, and shortly afterwards they all sailed for Hobart, Tasmania. Although his children became seriously ill with measles during the voyage, they all survived. Moreover, Margaret gave birth to a son on board. They spent several months in Tasmania, before heading for Tonga, where Cargill took over the superintendancy of the Vava’u Wesleyan mission. Unfortunately, he was struck down by dengue fever, which led to severe exhaustion and depression. He died of an overdose of laudanum in April 1843. There is a little further information about him available at Mundus. There is also a memoir written by Cargill’s wife, Margaret, and edited by her husband (first published in 1841 as Memoirs of Mrs Margaret Cargill). A modern edition of this can be previewed at Amazon.

However, it was not until the 1970s that Cargill’s diaries were edited (by Albert J. Schulz) and published by the Australian National University as The Diaries and Correspondence of David Cargill, 1832-1843. This work can be freely read online at the university website or at Docbox. H. E. Maude in his preface says this: ‘Some missionaries [. . .] appear to have been compulsive diarists, and many were required by the rules of the societies which sent them into the field to submit reports which could be published in whole or part for the delectation of their supporters back home, who somewhat naturally liked to feel that they were getting their money’s worth. In any case, whatever their motivation, they wrote too much for immediate use and there is still a wealth of data of value to anthropologists and historians to be found in their manuscript journals and letters, and particularly in those of the earlier missionaries, who lived among the Pacific Islanders at a time when local cultures were still functioning virtually unchanged. The diaries and correspondence of David
Cargill have long been recognised as among the most valuable of this still unpublished material, since Cargill was not only the first university educated Methodist to be assigned to the islands but also, with William Cross, the first European missionary to live in Fiji.’

And here is a sample of entries from the published diaries.

27 March 1833
‘It is probable that we shall have to remain 3 or 4 months in Sydney. Mrs Cargill is much weakened by the voyage. There have been many hinderances in the way of improvement in Sydney, so that religion seems to be at a low ebb. There is however the appearance of a little cloud in the heavens. The congregations though small are very attentive to the word. O Lord, I beseech Thee, send now prosperity. I feel determined through divine grace to be entirely devoted to the work in which I am engaged. May the Lord qualify me for usefulness.

It is not likely that we shall meet with anyone in this place qualified to teach us the Tonga language. Mr Orton has furnished us with a few translations: they will perhaps assist me in [     ] myself master of a small vocabulary; till I shall [have] better facilities for acquiring the language.

During the voyage we made but little progress in the acquisition of Greek. Mr Whiteley, I think, advanced as far as the end of the first conjugation. What he has acquired, he seems to understand. Mr Tucker could translate the first 12 verses of the 1st ch. of John.’

20 June 1833
‘This day I have lived twenty-four years. My life has been hitherto a life of many mercies. I feel condemned for my ingratitude, & the small progress I have made in divine things. I have indeed been a cumberer of the ground. O Lord, revive thy work in my heart! Enable me to make an unreserved dedication of the members of my body & the faculties of my soul to thy service.

Most of the inhabitants of this Colony are sunk very low in the mire of iniquity. And even the piety of professing Christians is very superficial. The profligacy of the wicked, & the lukewarmness of professors, call loudly for divine vengeance. There are but few encouragements for the labourer in this part of the vineyard. To use the expression of the venerable & respected Mr McAllum, preaching to the Majority of the inhabitants, is like ‘plowing among rocks.’ But although the society do not appear to consider one another to provoke one another to love and good works, it is nevertheless to be expected that some of the seeds of grace are sown in good ground. There are a few who possess a leaven of piety & love. But their ardour is so damped by the prevailing lukewarmness, that they are entirely thrown into the background. May the happy day soon dawn when the inhabitants of this Colony shall have been raised from their moral degradation!

I am engaged in attending to Mr Orton’s appointments during his absence: And have frequently to preach 5 or 6 times in Sydney during the week. The Lord has been pleased so far to honour me as to make my services useful in the conviction & conversion of two or three persons who it is hoped, will be living stones in the temple of God. My time is chiefly occupied in preparing for the pulpit, & visiting the people, so that I have had but little time to improve my stock of general knowledge . . .’

4 September 1833
‘Rode about 26 miles through ‘the bush’ in company with Mr. Orton to visit the people residing in the vicinity of Botany Bay. Some of them are in a deplorable and wretched condition; We fell in with a small village on the beach, inhabited by fishermen, who not only neglect and violate the Christian Sabbath by pursuing their usual employment, but seem destitute of even the form of godliness, & we have reason to suspect, are living in concubinage with aboriginal women. One of the women, however, expressed a desire to learn to read: & there was an air of cleanliness about the huts wh. ill accorded with their heathenish depravity. Does not the condition of such pitiable beings prove, that man without the Gospel is foolish, & is prone to say, ‘There is no God?’ Returned home about 1/2 past 5 P.M. and @ 7 - preached in Macquarie St. Chapel from - ‘behold I stand @ the door and knock’ &c.’

20 October 1833
‘Mrs. C. exhibited symptoms of inflammation wh. induced Dr. Bland to draw a considerable quantity of blood from her; The disagreeable symptoms were removed, & she experienced great relief. Baby is doing well.’

17 November 1833
‘This morning our lovely infant was baptized in Marquarie St Ch. by the Revd W. Simpson. May the Lord spare her life and grant her grace to be a comfort & blessing to us. She is named Jane Smith out of respect to her grandmother.’

12 February 1834
‘This afternoon attended divine service in the chapel. After Bro. T’s address to the congregation, we witnessed an interesting sight in the marriage of four couples: including the King & Queen of a small island about 40 miles from Vavau. Native teachers have been sent to instruct them. With the divine blessing on their labours, the people about 60 in number have led resolved to abandon idolatry & embrace Christianity. The King & some of his subjects have come to Vavau to be married & baptized. The rest of the people of the island are expected when the wind is favourable to the sailing of the canoes. And thus one island after another is deserting the ranks of idolatry, & Satan’s empire is becoming less extensive & powerful. O that the day may soon dawn when not only every island in this vast ocean shall have been christianized, but when the friends of religion shall triumphantly sing -
Jesus the Conqueror reigns,
In glorious strength array’d;
His Kingdom over all maintains
And bids the earth be glad.’

29 August 1836
‘This day I finished my translation of the three epistles of John into the Tonguese language: May the Lord make them a blessing to all who may read or hear them.’

20 July 1838
‘About 2 O.C. this morning our fifth child - a stout girl - was born. We have had none but natives to assist us at this critical juncture, but the Lord has been better to us than all our fears. Our native female servant has been very attentive and kind on this occasion. Mrs C is much better. . . than we could have expected her to be. May she and I have grace to dedicate ourselves afresh to the service of God.’

23 July 1838
This forenoon our people under the direction of Uiliami Lajike began to build a new chapel. We held divine service at the erecting of the posts which are to support the building. The scene was very interesting and I trust profitable to the souls of many. A large congregation was present, and many tears of joy were shed. The Feejeeans and the Tonguese seem to be desirous of outstripping one another in this labour of love. All have engaged in the undertaking with great alacrity and goodwill. Several heathens have volunteered their services in rearing this Christian temple. Lua - the quondam persecutor of the Christians - has very kindly presented us with several large skeins of cynet [plaited straw or similar], and has tendered his assistance in the preparation of the various materials for the house of prayer. Soroangkali - the king’s brother has presented the Chief of the Christian party with a large roll of cynet. The chapel when finished will probably hold between 500 & 600 persons. May it be the birthplace of many immortal souls.’

8 August 1839
‘The Capn took the vessel to Koro to buy yams. Koro is an island about forty miles from Somosomo. The inhabitants have had but little intercourse with foreigners, and are in a very barbarous state. A few weeks ago the male inhabitants of one town were treacherously decoyed by the inhabitants of another into a yam plantation, and all put to death. The women and children are enslaved. As we approached that part of the island where the Capn expected to find a harbour, the vessel was nearly on a reef. In five seconds more she would probably have struck, but she instantly obeyed the helm; and thus to all appearance we were saved from a watery grave. The Capn steered to another part of the island, and there dropped anchor.’

1 November 1839
‘This morning a little after break of day, I was surprised to hear the sound of voices talking very loudly, near the front fence of the Mission premises, and going out to ascertain the cause of their noise found a human head in our garden. This was the head of the old man whose body had been abused on the beach. The arm of the body had been broken by a bullet, wh. passed through the bone near the shoulder, & the upper part of the skull had been knocked off with a club. The head had been thrown into our garden during the night, with the intention no doubt of annoying us and shocking our feelings. The victims of war were brought from Verata, & were killed by the Bau people. 260 human beings were killed & brought away by victors to be roasted and eaten. Many women & children were taken alive to be kept for slaves. About 30 living children were hoisted up to the mast head as flags of triumph. The motions of the canoes when sailing soon killed the helpless creatures, & silenced their piercing cries. Other children were taken alive to Bau that the boys might learn the art of Fijian warfare by firing arrows @ them and beating them with clubs.

As far as I can learn, the war originated with the Bau people. Some time ago they killed three Verata men as sacrifices during the building of a temple. The Verata men revenged the injury by killing five Bau men. And thus the war commenced. A fortnight ago a party of Bau men pillaged many of the plantations of Verata, & killed several persons: and this week they went in greater numbers, - ravaged part of the territories of the king of Verata, burned two settlements, killed 260 human beings, and brought away many prisoners. For two days they have been tearing and devouring one another like wolves and hyaenas. O that a door of usefulness were opened in these parts of Feejee, that we might publish the glad tidings of the advent of the Prince of Peace. In the meanwhile, they will not listen to our report. But they are in the hands of God. . .’

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Many little matters

Today marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of David Elisha Davy, an antiquarian who spent the most part of his life travelling around the English county of Suffolk in order to collect detailed information on the county’s history. Although he never wrote that history, the collection of his manuscripts in the British Library today constitute a unique resource of materials for modern Suffolk historians. More than a century after his death, a pocket diary he kept while on his travels was found in a second hand bookshop. In it, Davy wrote about how his little book should be a ‘Companion in my Excursions’ so that ‘many little matters will then be preserved’.

Davy was born on 16 June 1769 the son of a farmer in Suffolk. His uncle, Eleazar Davy of Yoxford, sheriff of the county in 1770, who had no children of his own, paid for his education. He was schooled at Bungay grammar, and then at Yoxford under Samuel Forster. He matriculated from Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1785, graduated in 1790, and was ordained deacon in 1792. Although he worked for a while as a curate, he abandoned the church; in 1803, on the death of his uncle, he took over his estates, based at Yoxford, borrowing money to hold onto the debt-laden properties. He served as a local magistrate and as deputy lieutenant.

However, around 1805, Davy took up what would become his life’s work, gathering an immense collection of antiquarian and genealogical details for a history of Suffolk. Together with his friend Henry Jermyn, he painstakingly toured the country, taking notes and issuing questionnaires. Mounting debts led him to place his estate in the hands of a bank, thereafter he decamped from Yoxford to a friend’s house at Ufford, near Woodbridge. When Jermyn died in 1820, Davy took up with the Revd John Wareyn Darby as companion.

Although Davy published a few historical works anonymously, he never actually published a history of Suffolk. Nevertheless, it is the large collection (131 manuscript volumes) of information he amassed that remains his abiding legacy. He died in 1851, not having married; almost all of his manuscripts (and much correspondence) were soon to find their way to the British Museum (along with those written by Jermyn which had been given to the museum in 1830). There is not much further information about Davy online, other than at Wikipedia and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log-in required).

Davy also left behind a diary. This was found in 1979 by John Blatchly, headmaster of Ipswich School and a noted Suffolk historian, in a secondhand bookshop. He published an article on the diary in the Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Arcaeology and History in 1981 (which can be read online). The following year the diary was published, as edited by Blatchly for the Suffolk Records Society, with the title A Journal of Excursions Through the County of Suffolk, 1823–1844 (The Boydell Press). In his introduction, Blatchly explains more about the diary:

‘My discovery of Davy’s Journal on a North Norfolk bookseller’s shelves in October 1979 was, I like to think, providential. Its beginning coincides with that of its author’s exile from his inherited estate and home, The Grove, Yoxford. He had not kept a diary during the years of his travels with Henry Jermyn of Sibton, and the preface written in 1823 tells of a conscious decision that this little book should be ‘Companion in my Excursions’ so that ‘many little matters will then be preserved’ which would not otherwise find a place in his Collections. And so it accompanied him for more than 4,000 miles. Davy was not one to allow a personal preference or opinion to intruded into his formal work but the Journal is quite different; private feelings are not excluded and we are permitted more than a glimpse of a man who, after his resignation from public office, lived very privately. In reading the Journal we are far from feeling that we are trespassing, but we do gain a revealing insight into his methods of work and travel, his family and friendship, and the reception he enjoyed from acquaintances. We learn much, too, about the temperament and madders of this gentleman antiquary whose work should and may still earn him greater fame than hitherto; his reticence only is to blame for any neglect hitherto.’

And here is a sample of the kind of daily entries Davy made into his pocket diary.

29 March 1823
‘Barlee sent me in his gig to Pakefield Church, 6 Miles. I there took some additional Notes both in the church, & churchyard, copying the Verses in the latter, & rubbing off the two brasses still remaining in the former. I had not time to examine the Registers; but compleated the church notes for this Parish.’

8 April 1823
‘Went from Wrentham by the Mail Coach to Kirkley, where I took full church notes, not forgetting to examine the church chest, which I found the key of. Did not meet with the Registers, & had not time to enquire after them.

Went again into Pakefield Church to compleat rubbing off the brass of J. Bowff, which I had before left incompleat: So that I shall not have occasion to visit this church again.

Walked back to Wrentham. 7 Miles.’

10 April 1823
‘Walked from Wrentham to Brampton Church 4 Miles. Went into the church, took some few notes, before omitted, & from the head stones in the churchyard:

Returned by Uggeshall 1 1/2 Mile, to look again at the inscription on the Steeple, & to see whether I had copied it correctly. To Wrentham 3 Miles.’

17 April 1823
‘Went from Wrentham by the Mail Coach to Kirkley, 6 Miles; walked from thence by Mutford Bridge to Oulton Church, 3 Miles; Took full notes there, both inside & out, & rubbed off the three brasses in the Chancel, in completing which I was near 5 hours employed. Had not time to enquire after the Registers & Terrier. In my way through the Village of Oulton, I observed on a low building on the left hand side of the way a shield of Arms cut in stone, but they seem to have been lately coloured over with black & white, & I took no account of them. These must be examined & enquired into, when I go after the Registers & Terrier. They probably belong to some School or

Walked back to Wrentham, 8 Miles.’

18 April 1823
‘Went in Barlee’s gig with my sister to Southwold, & took the opportunity of being there, to copy the Inscriptions on the Head stones in the churchyard. I had intended to go into the church to take some further notes there, & to rub off again the brass there, that which I now have, been very imperfect, but I had not time.’

17 May 1823
‘Having occasion to see Mr. Robinson, I walked to his new House on the Heath, which he has lately built in a most singular situation. It stands in Dunwich, on the bare heath, about a quarter of a Mile from the Sea, & on so bad a Soil & so bleak a spot, that none of the trees, of which he had planted many, have hitherto grown. From thence I went to Dunwich, & took a few notes, all that were necessary, of the remains of All Sts. Church there. Distance there & back 8 Miles.’

22 September 1827
‘At the Parsonage at Hoxne. Walked to Syleham Church, to get the brasses there, & to pick up any other small matters I might have left at my former visit, & what might have been placed there since.

From Syleham Church walked to Brockdish Church, to see whether there was any thing in the churchyard which might be useful. I did not go into the church. From Brockdish, I walked on to Thorp Abbot’s; went into the church there, but found not a single memorial within, nor anything in my way without the church. Returned to Hoxne by the Water Mill.’

24 September 1827
‘Doughty drove me to Wingfield Church, where I found a great treat; & having the whole morning to myself, I employed it in the church, from I obtained full notes.

I afterwards walked to the Castle, which I had not seen years for more than 30 years; but had only time to reconnoitre the outsid

The Incumbent of Wingfield resides at Hoxne & has the Registers with him there. I was therefore obliged to postpone the examination of them.’

25 September 1827
‘Went, with Doughty to Denham, where I got some few further notes from the church there. I afterwards borrowed my friend’s gig, & went to Horham & Redlingfield Churches, to reexamine & pick up what I could there. I was rather surprized to find all the by roads in that neighbourhood so good.’

14 July 1831
‘I went by the Mail this morning to Little Glemham, having agreed to meet Darby there to proceed with him on to Iken & Snape. Arriving at Glemham before 7 o’clock, I had a good opportunity of visiting the church, which I had not seen for more than 20 years: besides I was very anxious to get impressions of the 3 brasses, in the Dormitory, upon the Glemhams. These I obtained, together with such other notes as I found, beyond my former ones. I was more than 2 hours in doing all this, & had then to wait half an hour for my companion, who at last arrived, when we proceeded on thro’ Blaxhall, where we stopped opposite to the Ship Public house there to look at a coat of arms carved on Oak, & fixed to the front of a cottage: these were formerly in Sudborn Hall; it was bought by the present owner abt. 30 years ago at an auction in the parish; & contains the arms & quarterings of Sr. Michael Stanhope Knt. a former owner of the Hall. We found the road from hence to Iken very heavy & bad, & were obliged to walk a good part of the way, & when we got to Iken, had some distance to go to obtain the key of the church, for which we were ill repaid, for the church contains not a single inscription, or monumental memorial of any kind: we found a few inscriptions in the churchyard: the building stands in a singular situation; on an elevated bank by the side of the river, far away from any house, & in the most inconvenient position for the population, which fortunately is but small.’

7 July 1833
‘Being resident for a few days at Aldeburgh, I of course paid a visit to the church, where I found several new monuments &c. as well within as without. In the churchyard I found considerable gleanings: the names on the head stones I had not before taken.’

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Prayed & wept & hope

’But I heard that Robert was missing for several days before the surrender & might be killed or wounded &c. I felt so shocked - as I dwelt upon the idea of my only & faithful love meeting such a fate & never returning to me - whilst others will come back to their loved ones. I couldn’t endure the thought. Prayed & wept & hope all may yet be well with us, for I can’t believe all this.’ This is Emmala Reed, born 180 years ago today, confiding, to her diary, hopes concerning her childhood sweetheart. The diary, published only recently, is considered of historic importance because of the insight it gives into the early postwar life of a Southern woman.

Emmala was born in Anderson, South Carolina, on 11 Jun 1839. Her father, Jacob Pinckney Reed, had been elected to the South Carolina state legislature, and he was soon to launch a local newspaper. However, he was an ambitious man, and studied to become a lawyer, later serving as a judge. One of his most significant contributions was to found the Johnson Female Seminary, and it was from here that Emmala graduated aged 16. Hers was a comfortable, social life - fancy carriages, music, parties. When the Civil War came, the town of Anderson strongly supported the Confederate cause; despite the tragedy of those years, the Reeds came through them relatively unscathed.

Having been disappointed by her childhood sweetheart, Robert, on his return from the war, Emmala married George William Miller, a teacher, in 1867 and they had seven children. The couple moved to a farm in Rock Mills Township, a few miles from Anderson. The Millers and the entire Reed clan prospered as they grew more cotton than ever before, or founded and financed railroads, cotton mills, banks, mercantiles, and drug stores. Emmala died in 1893. There is very little further information about her readily available online. She is remembered today mostly because of a diary she kept for two years. This was edited by Robert T. Oliver and published in 2004 by the University of South Carolina Press as A Faithful Heart - The Journals of Emma Read, 1865 and 1866. Some parts of this can be previewed freely online at Amazon and Googlebooks. The book comes with a long preface, many detailed footnotes and a host of appendices.

In his preface, Oliver provides further information about his source manuscripts:

‘Emmala Reed’s three journals chronicle her life in Anderson from the age of twenty-five through twenty-seven. The journal written in 1865 covered March 27 through June 26, 1865 and portrayed life in Anderson, South Carolina, as the Civil War ended. With paper and money both in short supply, Emmala was forced to write across an old school workbook in a crosshatch style. As she said, “having filled up every blank book that I could with my silly journalizing I will have to resort to crossing some of the old ones - for I feel that I can scarcely live without giving some such expression to my feelings.” Emmala’s penmanship, best characterized as a minuscule scrawl made worse by the necessity of crosshatching, added considerable difficulty to the transcription process.
Many Southern women abruptly stopped writing in their journals and diaries when the war ended, but Emmala wrote on, a part of her nightly routine and she rarely wavered. Determined to maintain a constant record of her life, Emmala wrote for personal pleasure and inadvertently left behind an excellent portrayal of postwar life in Anderson. [. . .]

The journals of Emmala Reed are significant because she presents a much more detailed account of the crisis of change in the early years of Reconstruction than those of many of her fellow chroniclers who stopped writing at the wars end. And though Anderson was a small town in the northwestern hills of upstate South Carolina, a steady procession of historically noteworthy people and events are described in her journals and add importance to the contents. Emmala relied on the largesse of a resourceful and loving father to provide for her and her siblings and to give her the leisure to keep these most interesting journals.

Indeed, these journals possess a faint scent of magnolia: the indignation of rejection by a suitor, the triumph of love, and a wide assortment of potential romantic fictionalizations. Yet their true significance lies in the scope of information gained through her descriptions of people, events, food, and literature as Emmala gave life and depth to her words. Such works as this have always been valuable resources for the social historian, and the journals of Emmala Thompson Reed are no exception. They provide the reader with a wealth of information about everyday life in a small town and an opportunity to gain insight into the early postwar life of a Southern woman whose whole world had been circumscribed by a series of historical changes beyond her control.’

Here are several extracts from Emmala’s diary, as found in Oliver’s book, complete with spelling inconsistencies (although I have omitted the many footnotes and word underlinings).

29 March 1865
‘A dreamy day - misty - peach trees & gardens glowing with beautiful bloom - sunny &c, but Wm. Walters came in & disturbed my equanimity. Wanted me to go in the country with him to Mrs. Skelton’s. I felt it would be funny to go alone with him. Too dull &c not decided yet. Aunt Anna here - had letters & gone home. My many excuses rather provoked Mr. Walters I guess for he didn’t return to me. I couldn’t decide whether to go or not. I was much worried but releived when he had gone. Not vexed I hope, yet he was kind in calling for me & I may have no other opportunity of going there. But my want of decision is a great trial to me and a serious fault leads me into many unforeseen difficulties & I can’t have more, it seems, or discretion. Busy all evg.’

31 March 1865
‘Delightful day. Made a soldiers shirt in the morning, at noon was suprized by the coming of Fannie Smith to pay me a long promised visit. Dressed in deep elegant mourning, her tall, beautiful form, so queenlike. Such fine dark eyes & brownish golden hair & very fair and graceful ways and gentle voice. So smart, no wonder she has been so beloved by noble Harry, who is gone forever. She has lamented & loved him truly I think.

Says she can never love so again, but she is beginning to get over it, with her gay nature rather subdued but often excited to mirth and sarcasm often too, but she is much changed for the better from the wicked, scornful girl she has been. She will yet be blest and happy I hope. Is much petted by all the Millers. Comes now to see her friends, she is a warm friend of mine too. Hope it may remain so.

We sat charring &c all evg. Mrs. Carter and Miss Gibbes called on us. Nice ladies; the last told us her peculiar fancy for pet snakes, little green grass snakes which she twines in her hair, so strange! Fannie & I walked round to Hattie Brissey’s - nice girl, but cool to me. I think they had a children’s party there - a houseful.

At night Theodore came to see his lovely niece & I. They seemed quite congenial & fond of each other, but Eleanor carried on too much nonsense with him. [H]e talked to me very pleasantly, enjoyed my songs as usual.’

23 April 1865
‘A cold, clear day - but too windy for frost we hope. I didn’t feel well, half frozen all day as we could get no fires. Went late to S.S. Heard children & sung, but was thinking sadly of our momentous conditions now & of Robere - his fate. Mr. Murray gave us a very good sermon on “Search the Scriptures.”

Reading &c all evg - Lula Broyles came up here from Belton where she has been sick - a tall, fair, amiable, smart, lovely girl - I am much attracted to her. We were all so excited about the news - reported that Abe Lincoln was killed & Seward wounded by assassins in Washington & Andy Johnson to be inaugurated Pres, of U.S. and a general cessation of hostilities & terms of peace &c. How much is true & how it will all end, who can tell! But these are momentous - stirring times & we have reached a crisis. God deliver & help us!

But I heard that Robert was missing for several days before the surrender & might be killed or wounded &c. I felt so shocked - as I dwelt upon the idea of my only & faithful love meeting such a fate & never returning to me - whilst others will come back to their loved ones. I couldn’t endure the thought. Prayed & wept & hope all may yet be well with us, for I can’t believe all this. Read over his last dear letters - both unsatisfied, yet so much to explain - surely this is not all - ‘though it may be best! I have ever feared that some such fate would be his - yet still hope for the best!

Hear that Dr. Jimmie Brown & Bob __ were captured at Richmond. What will become of the last? Many other rumours. Negro choir singing here tonight. I had no heart to sing. Long for R. Eleanor seemed to be made happy by a letter & gift from Ben & hopes soon to see him - ‘though flirting now with Dick Tupper - a nice little red headed youth. Andrew Moreland back here - sent out my letters, but will they ever be rec’d. George & Milton Brown have come back - didn’t get on to the army nor letters to P & R I guess, but may I hear from them soon.’

29 April 1865
‘A variable pleasant day of smiles & tears - busy at home. Becky Webb & Eleanor ready with baskets of lunch to go to a picnic, but all parties backed out - boys & girls couldn’t agree. We ate lunch at home.

Mrs. Pinkind here - we sang duetts, then to our surpize a soldier friend entered - Cousin Tom Carter. One of the captured army of Va., yet wouldn’t surrender - escaped & hopeful still & brave. Had a hard time wandering about there. He looked right handsome - delicate form - wavy black hair, bright eyes & rosy face. Good & moral & so lively & blunt. Had a cold & could scarcely talk, but he & I sat chatting all day of the times &c. He said Tom & Jim Hamilton & one Charlie Jones of Abb. were all anxious to learn if I was single - wanted to visit me &c. In evg he walked down to Grandpa’s - where they will be glad to see him. He reminded me of Alfred today - his voice & ways. Fear he may go the same way - with consumption - hope not.

Guests comes from Pendleton on the cars too. Helen Smith & Fannie Adams - dined here & sat some time talking Fan is fine looking - smart & stiff - talks much. I sang for them some. She went to see the Wilkinsons - spoke of their brother Joe coming home soon - having my likeness. She would send him to see me &c.

Helen stayed with Eleanor - ‘though nobody was much pleased, only cares to collect beaux around her. Gus Van Wyck came along. Keys McCulley with them in aft. Called this morn & at night again. A good looking merry chap! Frazier Wilson & Nick Whaley - two Charleston gents, called on them too, so they are highly entertained tonight whilst I was deploring my false or constrained lover - so near - so far! He & C went to their brother Ed’s today - have so many kin to see. I can’t see much of him, wonder if he is not thinking of me &c and what will be the result! All here wondering why he comes not - they will tell him tales of me I guess.

In the soft - hazy - dewy moonlight - the fragrant flowers & myriad roses - dripping with pearly drops - I sat in the piazza - knitting & dreaming so sadly. For every step I thought was his and my heart would bound, but sink back more depressed - as I found he would not come! And always before when he came from trips he called on me the second day or night &c and now when most interested - he comes not & I get no message even and what does he think &c feel? Direct us for the best oh God! He is weary & worn - no clothes - has to stay home with all the collected family. He would cause too much excitement were he to seek me already. He fears all of us down here & some of my letters - or tales he hears may offend. Still he will surely came ere long - or I can’t stand it [. . .].’

Saturday, June 8, 2019

At war with every difficulty

‘I am, I believe, thirty-five years old this month, just nine years at the bar, near five years in Parliament, about four years King’s Counsel. To-morrow, being Friday, Trinity Term sits. I therefore resolve to enter upon my profession, as upon a five years’ campaign, at war with every difficulty, and determined to conquer them.’ This is John Scott, soon to be 1st Earl of Clonmell, a successful Irish politician born 280 years ago today. He was a man whose success seemed to be fed by ambition, arrogance and avarice. He kept a diary, a few extracts of which were published in a history of Ireland before its union with Great Britain.

Scott was born on 8 June 1739 in Scottsborough, County Tipperary. He studied at Kilkenny College where, it is said, he protected Hugh Carleton, later Lord Viscount Carleton, from bullies. Subsequently, Carleton’s father financed Scott’s education along with his own son’s, first at Trinity College, Dublin, and then at the Middle Temple. (Later, when his friend went bankrupt, Scott settled £300 a year on him.). He was called to the Irish bar in 1765, and his legal skills soon attracted the attention of the lord chancellor, Lord Lifford, who recommended him for office. In 1768, he married the widow Mrs Catherine Anna Maria Roe, and they had one son. He got wed again, in 1779, to Margaret Lawless, eventual heiress of Patrick Lawless, a Dublin banker, and they had one daughter.

In 1769, Scott became MP for Mullingar (until 1783). He rose rapidly in the Irish administration: in 1772 he was Counsel to the Board of Revenue, in 1774 he was appointed Solicitor-General for Ireland; and from 1774 to 1782 he was Attorney-General as well as a Privy Councillor. Not a great speaker, he was consider arrogant, and aggressive in argument. His character and his bronzed skin tone earned him the nicknamed ‘Copper-faced Jack’. Although dismissed as Attorney-General in 1782, he was soon back in favour being appointed Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. He was elected Member of Parliament for Portarlington in 1783. He was created 1st Baron Earlsfort of Lisson-Earl, then, in 1789, 1st Viscount Clonmell, and in 1793 1st Earl of Clonmell. By the 1790s, Scott was a very wealthy man, but he was also drinking and eating so heavily that he became grossly overweight.

Rosemary Richey, in History Ireland, provides this cautionary tale of Scott’s last years. ‘It is said that the root of his demise originated in 1789, when John Magee, proprietor of the Dublin Evening Post, was accused of libelling Scott’s friend Francis Higgins. In revenge, Scott attempted to ruin Magee by fining him £7,800. Unable to pay, Magee was sent to prison. In March 1790 the case was brought before parliament, which found in Magee’s favour, and an act was passed to prevent such large fines in the future. Scott became a figure of public ridicule, and Magee rented a field opposite his demesne and advertised each month that he was going to hold a pig hunt. Hundreds and thousands of people assembled and ruined Scott’s property. The distress of this ordeal appears to have broken his health.’ He died in May 1798.

Sir Jonah Barrington, most notable for his amusing and popular memoirs of life in late 18th-century Ireland, and who lived next door to Scott in Dublin, described him as follows: ‘Courageous, vulgar, humorous, artificial, he knew the world well, and he profited by that knowledge: he cultivated the powerful, he bullied the timid, he fought the brave, he flattered the vain, he duped the credulous, and he amused the convivial. Half-liked, half-reprobated, he was too high to be despised, and too low to be respected. His language was coarse, and his principles arbitrary; but his passions were his slaves, and his cunning was his instrument. He recollected favours received in his obscurity and had gratitude to requite the obligation; but his avarice and his ostentation contended for the ascendancy; the strife was perpetual; and their victories alternate.’ Further information is available online at Wikipedia, Myles Dungan’s blog, Ireland in History, and Library Ireland.

Scott left behind a diary, parts of which found their way into William John Fitzpatrick’s 1867 book Ireland Before the Union with revelations from the unpublished diary of Lord Clonmell (freely available online at Internet Archive). In his first chapter, Fitzpatrick gives some information about the diary:

‘We now approach a most important historic document, the private diary of Lord Clonmell. That this singular record should have been spared from the flames seems strange, when we know the fate of the bulk of his papers. Mr. Henry Grattan, in the Life of his father, describes, on the authority of Lord Clonmell’s nephew, Dean Scott, a curious scene in the old Chief’s bedchamber, on the first alarm of death’s warning knock at his door.

Lord Clonmell had, as the excerpts we are about to give from his Diary prove, a contempt for ecclesiastics, and especially for bishops, whom he tells us were all hypocrites; his first desire, therefore, on the approach of death, was not spiritual aid, but the destruction of all inconvenient papers. These, no doubt, included the correspondence which marked the successive gradations of his uprise, and which, if published, would have compromised many persons, himself, no doubt, not excepted. How the diary should have been spared is not the least curious feature of the transaction. It is no credit to his memory, on the whole; but in the following passages we have selected those most indicative of his shrewdness, and of those good resolutions with which, as Guevara tells us, a certain region is paved. [. . .]

Lord Clonmell survived but a few weeks after the last entry in his Diary. He died as he lived - unreformed. It was lucky that he did not live to witness the Rebellion, as his death occurred on the eve of its outburst - namely, May the 23rd, 1798.’

And here are several extracts from Scott’s diary as found in Fitzpatrick’s book.

2 June 1774
‘I am, I believe, thirty-five years old this month, just nine years at the bar, near five years in Parliament, about four years King’s Counsel. To-morrow, being Friday, Trinity Term sits. I therefore resolve to enter upon my profession, as upon a five years’ campaign, at war with every difficulty, and determined to conquer them. I have given up wine. I will strive to contract my sleep to four, or, at most, six hours in twenty-four; give up every pursuit but Parliamentary and legal ones. If I continue a bachelor until I am forty years old, and can realize two thousand pounds per annum, I will give up business as a lawyer, or confine it merely to the duty of any office which I may fill. I will exert my industry to the utmost in law and constitutional learning for these five years, so far as temperance, diligence, perseverance, and watchfulness can operate, and then hey for a holyday.’

23 June 1784
‘Five years married this day - forty-five years old. Five years reading, at twelve hours a day, would establish my reputation on the Bench, and make the rest of my life easy. Cromwell would have done it, and did a thousand times more.’

25 October 1789
‘The king; accession to the thirtieth year of his reign.

If I live for ten years, and continue in the King’s Bench, I may become very considerable in property and public esteem by an uniform rigid discipline and prudent exertion. I must become a man of superlative diligence, of abstemious temperance, a more dignified and guarded actor, of avaricious economy in my time, of perpetual application to the law, to the business of the King’s Bench, and to Parliament.’

14 September 1790
‘I have had a picture painted by Stewart, and lost a fourth front tooth - it is time I should learn to keep my mouth shut, and learn gravity and discretion of speech, which I hitherto never yet practised; temperance, and eyes ever watchful, would be of use.’

4 November 1790
‘King William’s birth-day. Saturday is the first sitting of term. This day Lord Fitzgibbon exhibited the most superb carriage that ever appeared in Ireland; he seems to have got the summit of his vanity, chancellor, minister, and mummer.’

16 July 1793
‘Died Lord Mountgarrett, as wicked a malignant selfish monster, as I ever knew; a victim to his brutal appetites and thirst for blood; a lesson to vice and a caution to be civil to all, obliging to many, to serve few, and offend none, as the safest, wisest, pleasantest mode of going through life.’

Extracts of Scott’s diary have also been published in Diaries of Ireland edited by Melosina Lenox-Conyngham (Lilliput Press, 1998)

At work on Ophelia

‘Finished flowers after breakfast, after which went out to bottom of garden and commenced brick wall. Received letter from James Michael - complimentary, as containing a prediction that I shall be the greatest painter England ever produced. Felt languid all day. Finished work about five and went out to see Charley. Walked on afterwards to meet Hunt, and waited for him.’ This is from a one-off and very short diary kept by the great pre-Raphaelite painter, John Everett Millais, while working on Ophelia, one of the most important art works of the mid-nineteenth century. Today marks the 190th anniversary of his birth.

Millais was born 
in Southampton on 8 June 1829 into a prominent family based on Jersey in the Channel Islands. Though most of his early childhood was spent on Jersey, he also lived in Dinan, northern France, for a while. An artistic talent, nurtured by his mother, led to him being sent to Sass’s Art School, in London, and then, still only aged 11, to the Royal Academy Schools (their youngest ever student). While there, he met William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti with whom he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the first avant-garde group in the history of British art. His first Pre-Raphaelite painting, Isabella, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1849.

In 1850, Millais exhibited Christ in the House of his Parents, but this was met with strong criticism, not least from Charles Dickens who warned his readers that the painting depicted ‘the lowest depths of what is mean, odious, repulsive, and revolting’. However, by 1952, Millais’ reputation had been restored with paintings such as Ophelia. Subsequently, in 1853, he was elected as an associate of the Royal Academy. That same year Millais fell in love with Euphemia (Effie) Gray, the wife of his friend and supporter, art critic John Ruskin. When Ruskin’s marriage was annulled, Millais married Gray, in 1855. The newly-weds set up home in Perth, Scotland, and stayed six years before returning to London in 1861. They had eight children in all.

In the 1860s, Millais abandoned his earlier meticulous techniques, instead developing a more fluent style, often painting directly onto the canvas with impressionistic freedom. His subjects became more traditional, with many a society portrait, and, from the 1870s, he showed an increasing interest in the old masters such as Joshua Reynolds and Diego Velazquez. This change was condemned by many, including Ruskin and William Morris, who accused him of selling out, to achieve popularity and wealth. Millais was also successful as a book illustrator, notably for the works of Anthony Trollope and the poems of Tennyson. In 1885, Queen Victoria created him a baronet, making him the first artist to be honoured with a hereditary title. In 1896 he was elected president of the Royal Academy; however, he died six months later. Further information is available at Wikipedia, Royal Academy, National Museums Liverpool, The Victorian Web or Spartacus Educational.

Millais was not a diarist. However, for a short period in late 1851, 
he did keep a diary while staying in a cottage near Kingston. This was in order that he might paint a scene on the river Ewell (now the Hogsmill which goes on to flow into the Thames) for his painting, Ophelia. His friend Hunt stayed with him, while his brother William and another friend, Charlie Collins, stayed nearby. Millais’ son John Guille Millais included extracts from this diary in his 1899 publication The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais published in two volumes by Methuen (freely available online at Internet Archive).

According to John Guille Millais, it was ‘a jolly bachelor party’ that assembled near the Ewell, all determined to work in earnest. From ten in the morning till dark the artists saw little of each other, but in the evenings gathered to talk deeply on ‘art, drink strong tea, and discuss and criticise each other’s pictures’. ‘Fortunately,’ he goes on to write, ‘a record of these interesting days is preserved to us in Millais’ letters to Mr. and Mrs. Combe, and his diary - the only one he ever kept - which was written at this time, and retained by my uncle William, who has kindly placed it at my disposal.’

The published diary extracts, which start in mid-October and continue through until 5 December (the day before he returned to London), take up no more than 20 pages of the two volume life-and-letters biography. Here are several of those extracts, including the first.

16 October 1851
‘I am advised by Coventry Patmore (a poet friend) to keep a diary. Commence one forthwith. Today, worked on my picture [‘The Huguenot’]; painted nasturtiums; saw a stoat run into a hole in the garden wall; went up to it and endeavoured to lure the little beast out by mimicking a rat’s or mouse’s squeak - not particular which. Succeeded, to my astonishment. He came half out of the hole and looked in my face, within easy reach.

Lavinia (little daughter of landlady) I allowed to sit behind me on the box border and watch me paint, on promise of keeping excessively quiet; she complained that her seat struck very cold. In the adjoining orchard, boy and family knocking down apples; youngest sister but one screaming. Mother remarked, “I wish you were in Heaven, my child; you are always crying”; and a little voice behind me chimed in, “Heaven! where God lives?” and (turning to me) “You can’t see God.” Eldest sister, Fanny, came and looked on too. Told me her mother says, about a quarter to six, “There’s Long-limbs (J. E. M.) whistling for his dinner; be quick and get it ready.” Played with children en masse in the parlour before their bedtime. Hunt just come in. . . . Sat up till past twelve and discovered first-rate story for my present picture.’

20 October 1851
‘Finished flowers after breakfast, after which went out to bottom of garden and commenced brick wall. Received letter from James Michael - complimentary, as containing a prediction that I shall be the greatest painter England ever produced. Felt languid all day. Finished work about five and went out to see Charley. Walked on afterwards to meet Hunt, and waited for him. In opening the gate entering the farm, met the two girls. Spoke further with one on the matter of sitting.’

23 October 1851
‘Our landlady’s marriage anniversary. Was asked by her some days back for the loan of our apartments to celebrate the event. “If we were not too high they would be glad to see us.” ’

Painted on the wall; the day very dull. A few trees shedding leaves behind me, spiders determinedly spinning webs between my nose and chin. . . . Joined the farmers and their wives. Two of them spoke about cattle and the new reaping-machine, complaining, between times, about the state of affairs. Supped with them; derived some knowledge of carving a chicken from watching one do so. Went to bed rather late, and read In Memoriam, which produced a refining melancholy. Landlady pleased with painting on cupboard.’

24 October 1851
‘Another day, exactly similar to the previous. Felt disinclined to work. Walked with Hunt to his place, returned home about eleven, and commenced work myself, but did very little. Read Tennyson and Patmore. The spot very damp. Walked to see Charlie about four, and part of the way to meet Hunt, feeling very depressed. After dinner had a good nap, after which read Coleridge - some horrible sonnets. In his Life they speak ironically of ‘Christabel,’ and highly of rubbish, calling it Pantomime.

25 October 1851
‘Much like the preceding day. All went to Town after dinner; called at Rossetti’s and saw Madox Brown’s picture‘ Pretty Baa-lambs,’ which is very beautiful. Rossetti low-spirited; sat with him.’

26 October 1851
‘Walked out with Hunt. Called upon Woolner and upon Mrs. Collins to get her to come and dine with us; unwell, so unsuccessful. Felt very cross and disputable. Charlie called in the evening; took tea, and then all three off to the country seat.’

27 October 1851
‘Dry day. Rose later than the others, and had breakfast by myself. Painted on the wall, but not so well; felt uncomfortable all day. . .’

28 October 1851
‘My man, Young, brought me a rat after breakfast. Began painting it swimming, when the governor made his appearance, bringing money, and sat with me whilst at work. After four hours rat looked exactly like a drowned kitten. Felt discontented. Walked with parent out to see Collins painting on the hill, and on, afterwards, to Young’s house. He had just shot another rat and brought it up to the house. Again painted upon the head, and much improved. . . My father and myself walked on to see Hunt, whose picture looks sweet beyond mention.’

4 November 1851
‘Frightfully cold morning; snowing. Determined to build up some kind of protection against the weather wherein to paint. After breakfast superintended in person the construction of my hut - made of four hurdles, like a sentry-box, covered outside with straw. Felt a ‘Robinson Crusoe’ inside it, and delightfully sheltered from the wind, though rather inconvenienced at first by the straw, dust, and husks flying about my picture. Landlady came down to see me, and brought some hot wine. Hunt painting obstinate sheep within call. . . This evening walked out in the orchard (beautiful moonlight night, but fearfully cold) with a lantern for Hunt to see effect before finishing background, which he intends doing by moonlight.’

17 November 1851
‘Small stray cat found by one of the men, starved and almost frozen to death. Saw Mrs. Barnes nursing it and a consumptive chicken; feeding the cat with milk. Painted at the ivy. Evening same as usual.’

19 November 1851
‘Fearfully cold. Landscape trees upon my window-panes. After breakfast chopped wood, and after that painted ivy. . . See symptoms of a speedy finish to my background. After lunch pelted down some remaining apples in the orchard. Read Tennyson and the Thirty-nine Articles. Discoursed on religion.’

22 November 1851
‘All four began work early. William left at five, promising to come again on Monday. . . After dinner Hunt and Collins left for London, the former about some inquiries respecting an appointment to draw for Layard, the Nineveh discoverer. After they were gone, I wrote a very long letter to Mrs. Combe.’

24 November 1851
‘Painted on brick wall. Mr. Taylor and his son (an old acquaintance of mine at Ewell), in the army, and six feet, came to see me. Both he and his father got double barrels; pheasant in son’s pocket. They saw my pictures, expressed pleasure, and in leaving presented me with cock bird. Lempri√®res came. The parents and Miss thought my pictures beautiful. I walked with them to the gate at the bottom of the park, and there met Emma and Mrs. B_ out of breath. They had driven after the captain, also to see my landscape. Offered to show them again, but the father would not permit the trouble. Parted, promising to spend Christmas with them. Tried to resume painting. All then took usual walk. Hunt, during day, had a letter containing offer for his picture of ‘Proteus.’ He wrote accepting it. . .’

30 November 1851
‘All rose early to get in time for train at Ewell, to spend the day at Waddon. Were too late, so walked into Epsom, expecting there to meet a train. Found nothing before past one. Walked towards the downs, and to church at eleven, where heard very good sermon. Collins so pious in actions that he was watched by kind-looking man opposite. Very wealthy congregation. . . Walked afterwards to Mrs. Hodgkinson’s, but found she was too unwell to sit with us, so dined with her husband; capital dinner. Sat with Mrs. H_ in her bedroom, leaving them smoking downstairs, and took leave about half-past nine, Mr. Hodgkinson walking with us to station.’