Thursday, June 10, 2021

To feel like a human being

‘I should have gone “up there,” into the mountains, to be with them [the Yugoslav partisans]. Definitely. Of course, there too, over time, you would have noticed some conflicts, some petty disagreements, some minor inconsistencies in some people, a lack of conviction or principles in others ... and it would have been even more painful, more bitter, perhaps. But at least you would feel like a human being . . .’ This is from the concentration camp diary kept by a young Balkan woman, Hanna Lévy-Hass, who survived the war, relocated to Israel, and died 20 years ago today. Though the diary was first published while she was still alive, a more recent posthumous edition contains a substantial foreword by her daughter.

Hanna Lévy was born in 1913 into a large Ladino-speaking Sephardic Jewish family in Sarajevo. She, her mother and one sister moved to Belgrade in the early 1930s, where, thanks to a scholarship, Hanna completed her studies. Another scholarship enabled her to study at the Sorbonne in Paris for a few months. She left Belgrade for a teaching position in Montenegro, ending up in Danilovgrad a small Jewish community. During the war, the area was taken over first by the Italians, and, when Italy surrendered, by the Germans. She intended to flee to the mountains to join the partisans, but friends - scared of retaliation if she did - appealed for her to stay. 

Hanna was eventually captured in 1944 by German occupation forces and spent a half year in a Gestapo jail before being sent to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany, where mass deaths resulted from starvation and disease. Before the British liberated the camp, Hanna had been put on a train with thousands of other Jews destined for Czechoslovakia. At some point in the journey she escaped, but the war was over and she found herself wandering along roads with many other liberated prisoners of different nationalities. She ended up in Dresden, before finally returning to Belgrade.

Hanna had hoped to go back to teaching, but the new Yugoslav government asked her to supervise the French broadcasts of Radio Belgrade. Later, still working for the government, she acted as a French translator. In 1948, she emigrated to Israel. She immediately joined the Israeli Communist Party, a decision which meant she was continually in opposition to the country’s prevailing Zionist ethos, and that she could not work as a teacher. She married Abraham Hass, a Romanian-born Ashkenazi Jew, and they had one daughter, Amira. From the early 1970s, Hanna gave up communism and channelled her energy into feminism. In late 1982, she revisited Europe. She died in Jerusalem on 10 June in 2001. 

There is very little further information about Hanna online, other than that connected with her diary. This was first published in 1982 by Harvester Press as Inside Belsen (translated from the German by Ronald Taylor); and was republished in 2009 by Haymarket Books as Diary of Bergen-Belsen: 1944–1945 with a long introduction by her daughter, Amira. Haymarket calls the work ‘a unique, deeply political survivor’s diary’. Jacqueline Rose, a feminist writer and academic, said this of the work (see the Roam Agency website): ‘A compelling document of historic importance which shows, with remarkable composure, that ethical thought about what it means to be human can be sustained in the most inhuman conditions. Hanna Lévy-Hass teaches us how a politics of compassion and justice can rise out of the camps as the strongest answer to the horrors of the twentieth century.’ Some pages from the modern edition can be read online at Googlebooks or Amazon.

22 August 1944
‘The very limited space and the even more limited possibilities of keeping it clean - it’s enough to push anyone to the brink. Rainy days transform the entire space into a mud pit, which farther increases the overall level of filth as well as the vermin. And it’s all accompanied by interminable squabbles systematically encouraged by the common enemy, the Nazi. It’s only the first month and already, depressed, we can foresee endless misery.

I should have gone “up there,” into the mountains, to be with them [the Yugoslav partisans]. Definitely. Of course, there too, over time, you would have noticed some conflicts, some petty disagreements, some minor inconsistencies in some people, a lack of conviction or principles in others ... and it would have been even more painful, more bitter, perhaps. But at least you would feel like a human being, free to think, to express yourself, to act. And you would be surrounded by human beings, by real men, who say human things to you, men who, today, are the only ones who deserve respect and whose words and deeds matter. Only “up there” could I know my reason for being, my true worth, and what I am truly capable of contributing, or not contributing.

Only there does suffering have meaning. Only there do faults become more obvious and easier to correct. Only there does man learn to know himself and to devote himself. And to the extent that, there too, the verdict would indicate that I am a failure ... It would only be for the better. Everything would be clearer: the only thing left for you now is to drop, like an overripe fruit that decomposes of its own accord. Why not? Such is the world. But I suspect vaguely, yet deep within me, that once “up there,” I would not necessarily have been destined to total ruin.

Maybe it’s precisely this dilemma that landed me here in this wretched camp; it’s been tormenting me for some time. On the other hand, because of it many things within me and in others have been clarified. And today I can state without fear of inaccuracy that I was made - if not absolutely then decisively - to be there with them, rather than here. In a sense, this evolution hasn’t been totally worthless to me: I came out of it hardened in my convictions, having gotten to know the enemy better and having learned more thoroughly what we must fight in the future. The knowledge acquired was worth it.’

23 August 1944
‘That’s not entirely true. I had this knowledge before, complete and alive in my consciousness. And I didn’t have to wait until my thirties to become “more hardened” at the cost of such infamous ordeals ... since so many others were able to resolve this crucial question so much more quickly and positively. That’s what’s hard. That’s what’s behind this dissatisfaction with myself that often, very logically, throws me into despair.

This struggle between two worlds being waged within me and within many others like me - will it last forever, to mortify us throughout our entire existence? Or is there some hope that it will end favorably? It seems as though it’s inevitable, like a natural phenomenon that occurs in people whose lives have unfolded in circumstances I have known, a phenomenon that most likely will not fail to manifest itself in us again in the future, on the threshold of a new life, like it does in the world described by P. Romanov, Gorki, Gladkov [Soviet novelist]. These external signs of private battles and moral suffering that destroy and consume. And struggle - the only way of life capable of putting an end to these unhealthy thoughts in an evolving man ... struggle, nothing but struggle.’

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Mobocracy is rife

Today marks two hundred and twenty years since the birth of the famous Mormon, Brigham Young, who founded Salt Lake City, and who was the first governor of Utah Territory. Sometimes called the American Moses, because of the way he led Mormon pioneers to settle in the arid region, he was also a polygamist who married over 50 times. Although several of Brigham’s journals are known to exist, only one - relating to 1857 - has been published.

Young was born on 1 June 1801 into a Vermont farming family; as a young man he worked as a travelling tradesmen. After converting to Mormonism in the early 1830s, he helped establish a community in Ohio. He was ordained into the church hierarchy; and then, in 1838, he organised an exodus of Latter Day Saints from Missouri to Illinois. The following year, he went to England, where a mission he launched was instrumental in bringing European converts to the church.

When the Mormon leader Joseph Smith was murdered in 1844, Young took command of the church; and, in 1846 faced with mob pressure, he led his followers out of Illinois. It took well over a year before they settled on a site that would become Salt Lake City. In 1849, the Mormons established a provisional state called Deseret with Young as governor; the following year this became Utah.

Although Young was appointed to a second term as governor of Utah in 1854, friction between the Mormons and the federal judiciary led President James Buchanan to replace him in 1857, and an army was sent to establish federal rule in Utah. Young never held office again, but as president of the Mormon church, he effectively ruled the people of Utah until his death in 1877. He married once before converting to Mormonism, but his wife died young; and after his conversion he became a polygamist and had well over 50 partners and as many children. Further biographical information is available from Wikipedia, or Encyclopaedia Britannica.

It appears Young kept journals for much of his life though only the earliest ones were written in his own hand, the others being dictated or kept by his sons or close associates. Almost all are held in the Mormon Church Archives in Salt Lake City. A full listing can be found in Leonard Arrington’s Brigham Young: American Moses published by University of Illinois Press in 1986 (available to read at Googlebooks).

One of the journals, though, is held by the University of Utah, and this was edited by Everett L Cooley, and published in 1980 as The Diary of Brigham Young, 1857, by the Tanner Trust Fund. It was only printed in a limited edition of 1,250 copies, but the text is available on the website of the university’s J Willard Marriott Library.

Cooley, in his introduction, says the diary is ‘rather brief’ and contains very little new material, and lacks anything personal and intimate. Nevertheless, he adds, it does mark the first printing of a complete diary by Young, and provides ‘a good insight’ into his many interests and activities.

Here is an entry from the 1857 diary considered to be of some importance. Cooley’s notes relating to this entry in the published edition suggest that Brigham Young was already in possession of the information - about approaching troops and the cancellation of the mail contract - and that the arrival of the messengers was staged ‘for dramatic effect - to impress upon the assembled Saints that momentous events were in store for them.’

24 July 1857
‘This day 10 years ago the Pioneers entered Salt Lake valley after a pilgrimage and Search of nearly two years to find a place where the people of God might rest from persecutions for a short time. How cheering were the prospects on that day. They had at last reached a place 800 Miles from where a Settlement could approach them. The country was so barren that none would covet it. 500 of our best men had marched 3000 miles to conquer a title for it. And on every Side were Scores of miles of mountains, which must be past ere our Settlement could be appro[a]ched. Here we have dwelt in peace and prosperity. The Lord has blessed the earth for our sakes. And the ‘Desert’ has ‘truly blossomed as the rose.’

All was hilarity and mirth the morn[in]g guns had been fired 3 rounds in honore of the first presidency - three times three groans were uttered for the Mysouri - the guards & my son John W.[’]s company had been paraded, three ‘rounds’ for the hope of Isreal. The bands were playing and every one at peace, when the news came that A O Smoot, Judson L Stoddard, O P Rockwell William Garr & Judge Elias Smith would be in camp in a few minutes. They came, and were welcomed by the band, & 3 deaf[e]ning cheers.

They were ushered into the Lewt General’s (occupied by my family) Marquee. found that Bros Smoot & Stoddard were from fort Leavenworth 20 days. They informed [me] that a new Governor and entire set of officers had been appointed, 2500 troops with 15 months provision. Sup[p]osed That General [William S.] Harney would commany - to support the officials in their position. I said if General Harney came here, I Should then know the intention of [the] gover[n]ment; And it was carried unanimously that if Harney crossed the South Pass the buz[z]ards Should pick his bones. The feeling of Mobocracy is rife in the ‘States’ the constant cry is kill the Mormons. Let them try it. The Utah mail contract had been taken from us - on the pretext of the unsettled state of things in this territory.

The news helped the people to enjoy themselves. Dancing and mirth continued until a late hour.’

This article is a slightly revised version of one first published on I June 2011.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Rum in the Galapagos

Forty five years ago today, I celebrated my birthday - on the Galapagos Islands. I should have a diary entry for that day as well as for all the days in the two months that I’d been travelling in South America, only my journal was in a bag that was stolen some weeks later. This lost diary is, in fact, the only significant break in my adult diaries, otherwise running from 1974 to the present day. Nevertheless, I have a few diary-like letters (sent to family and friends) which go some way to filling in that gap. Here is one covering not only my rum-infused birthday on the Galapagos Islands (28 May 1976), but my being laid low by hepatitis.

10 June 2021
‘[Lima] I am laid up with hepatitis. To start at the beginning I had odd days on the Galapagos Islands when I felt completely wiped out for some reason. When I got back to Ecuador I took a long ride through the night to the mountain city where I had left some possessions. On the way I felt very tired, terrible sometimes. I was with friends who had had hepatitis but they weren’t sure about my symptoms. I decided to head for Lima in the night - two nights and a day of bussing constantly. I would normally have stopped at many places and probably hitchhiked and taken a week to get here, but I felt the need to be in a big city. When I got there, I went first to the British Embassy to get my letters. They told me of a hospital which was expensive but clean. It was a long way away, and once there I had to wait a long time. But a doctor confirmed I had hepatitis. He said I must stay in bed for at least two weeks. No walking, no alcohol, no chocolate, little grease, lots and lots of rest.

It was terribly depressing to walk out of that hospital in a completely strange city, having been told that I must not walk but must stay in bed for weeks or else it will get worse. What to do, where to go, I had no idea. I am not sure if my insurance will pay for the accommodation and food while I am laid up, but I have assumed so and am staying at a hotel three times more expensive than my norm. It has a little cafe where I can eat most of my meals, so I won’t have to walk too far.

So it is Thursday 10 June. I sit in the little cafe on the first morning of my self-imposed rest. Ironically, I feel very well, but I am pissed off beyond all measure. It would help if I a friend who could get me odd bits and pieces from the shops. My books are all read. I’m told hepatitis sometimes lasts for months, but, because I feel good, I am hoping that a week of rest will be sufficient. Even a week without reading material will drive me crazy.

I do know a young guy who lives in Lima. I met him for a few days in Panama. I will ring him today. Also I’m expecting other friends to be travelling through Lima soon. I just hope I can contact them. Any way there is no need to worry, I’m looking after myself and resting against my nature. And I have faith that it is only a mild attack - and in 10 days I’ll be fitter than a lion.

I did get to the Galapagos Islands which was something else. As I may have mentioned it is very expensive for foreigners to go there: the aeroplane ticket is more than twice as expensive than it is for Ecuadorians. There is also a cruise, but the cheapest is $250. I spent a restless night or two deciding that it was not worth it for that price; and then I decided to hassle around looking for a cheap way to get there. I went to the worst and largest city in Ecuador, Guayaquil, and investigated various possibilities: the navy, the air force, different cruises, cargo boats. Dejected and beaten I tried one last thing. I went to loads of different travel agent until I found one that didn’t seem to know about the tourist law. Keeping very cool and doing things very carefully I managed to get an Ecuadorian return air ticket for $65 as opposed to a tourist ticket for $145. Both going and returning I had frightening moments as my ticket was checked (thinking the mismatch between the ticket and my obvious appearance as a tourist would get me into trouble), but it was fine.

It’s expensive on the islands too. To get the best deal one has to hire a boat, to cruise round the island, and fill it with eight people. It is a very touristy scene, but nothing can be done about it. I spent one week in the main settlement (it’s full of characters from all over the world) waiting for people to fill a boat, and the other week travelling around the islands. They are all tips of volcanoes, sticking out of the sea, some old, and some new just 100 years old (a mass of cracked black lava). There is a lot of beautiful emptiness, but of course the main attraction is the wildlife that is not so wild.

Sitting in the little port of the main village I saw the following: a pelican or two sitting on a post fishing, a heron (a giant blue one) doing nothing, lots of 2-3ft long marine iguanas crawling around the rocks, thousands of little lizards, mocking birds that will land on you, lots of beautiful fish in the clear water, and a seal. Around the islands, I saw: thousands of sea lions and seals all without fear of humans (one can swim with them), penguins, fearless land iguanas up to 4ft long (landing on their island these enormous lizards come trundling down to meet you), hawks and doves that come within two feet of you, and flamingoes. On the boat trip we ate only fresh meat killed the same day: goat, tuna, durado (white fish), lobster and crab. And, of course there are the giant tortoises - enormous things. They are threatened by the introduced animals like the rat and goat, and are therefore being cared for and protected by the research stations where one can see them at all stages of their life.

Heh, I’m 24, how about that. I’ve never been 24 before. We had a little celebration in the Galapagos. The Islands had run out of beer so we got drunk on rum.’

Friday, May 21, 2021

A Pole in America

Today marks 180 years since the death of Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, a great Polish patriot and writer. Having been active in politics during years of turbulence while Poland was trying to establish itself as a state, he found himself imprisoned, but then exiled himself to the US for several years. Although a regular diarist, only the diaries of his travels in America have been published in English. These are said to be among ‘the earliest and most important documents in the complex, fascinating and still largely unexplored story of American-Polish cultural relations’.

Niemcewicz was born in 1757/58 into a noble family established for generations near Brest in the Lithuanian part of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was educated at the School for Knights in Warsaw, founded by the King, and the only lay school in Poland, before being taken as an assistant by Prince Czartoryski (who later became one of the leading advocates for the Polish national cause). Niemcewicz travelled widely with the Prince; and in addition to writing poetry and travel books, he undertook translations into Polish from French. In 1788, he became deputy in the lower house of the Polish parliament, and was an active member of the Patriotic Party, known for his speaking ability, that pushed through a new constitution in 1791.

Thereafter, Niemcewicz took part in the insurrection of 1794, but was captured at Maciejowice and imprisoned in St Petersburg for two years. On his release, he went first to England and then to the US, where he married and settled. He moved in high circles during this time, and was even a guest of George Washington. In 1807, he returned to live in Poland. Thereafter, he held no public position, and focused on his literary endeavours - his first popular writing success had come in 1790 with the political comedy The Return of the Deputy. His later publications included translations from the English, Polish songs (his famous Historical Songs), and novels such as John of Tenczyn (1825).

In 1831, Niemcewicz travelled to London where, with Napoleon’s son, he tried, unsuccessfully, to win military support for a Polish insurrection against Russia. He spent the last years of his life in Paris, campaigning for Polish freedom. He died on 21 May 1841. Further information is available from Wikipedia and the Virtual Library of Polish Theatre.

Although it seems there are various published versions of Niemcewicz’s diaries, there is only one that has appeared in English, translated/edited by Metchie J E Budka, and published by The Grassman Publishing Company, New Jersey, in 1965: Under Their Vine and Fig Tree. Travels through America in 1797-1799, 1805, with some further account of life in New Jersey.

‘Niemcewicz’s American diaries are one of the earliest and most important documents in the complex, fascinating and still largely unexplored story of American-Polish cultural relations,’ Wiktor Weintraub begins in his Preface. ‘But [they] are interesting also in their own right, outside the framework of American-Polish relations. If there ever existed a perfect extrovert, Niemcewicz was one. He travelled widely, by eighteenth century standards, had tremendous gusto for life and a keen eye for life’s minutiae. Everything interested him: the prices of foodstuffs, the conditions of prisons, specific fauna and flora of particular regions, good, or not so good, looks of ladies - the reader of the diaries would hardly guess that in this respect he was far from being a disinterested observer only - good, or bad, manners of children, the political climate of the country, the state of the roads. Mostly on the move, always intellectually alert, curious about people, he had a great capacity for absorbing data. Thus, the diaries form an amusing, richly detailed, variegated, if not especially deep, chronicle of the American life by the end of the eighteenth century.’

‘Until recently,’ Weintraub continues, ‘only parts of the text of the diaries were known, and the manuscript was considered to be lost. The Polish edition of the whole preserved text, with its French parts in Polish translation, appeared as late as 1959. The work on the present edition was started independently, at an earlier date. . . [Dr Budka’s] translation, for being careful, manages to recapture the easy grace, the abandon of Niemcewicz’s Polish and French jotting, and, thus, enables the reader to enjoy the diaries as good reading stuff.’

Here is one extract in which Niemcewicz meets the American president.

8 November 1797

I found all the inhabitants of the town busy in preparing the reception and dinner for Mr John Adams, President of the United States. The cool heads, and the methodical manners of these solemn Americans lead them to go about their business of a dinner with the same rules that they use in discussing affairs of State. A committee was appointed to arrange the dinner and a President and a Vice-President to maintain good order at the table and to receive the chief magistrate. Many evenings were spent on arranging this important affair. Finally Mr Adams arrived, but two hours before the appointed time. Nothing was ready. Immediately, the militia, both mounted and on foot, ran about the streets; the authorities put their wigs on askew; the elegants arrived with their shoes half buckled. The cannon fired a half [hour] after Mr Adams was already well warmed at the fire-place. Little by little everyone settled down and took breath. At one o’clock I was presented to Mr Adams. He was sitting, reading a newspaper, facing the fireplace with Mr Malcolm, a young man 20 years old, his private secretary. I saw a dumpy little man dressed wholly in gray, well-powdered hair and a long pigtail. His face appeared to me that of a good and honest man, touched nevertheless with a grain of a malice. He received me civilly, asked me news of Gl Kosciuszko and then Mar. La Fayette. I passed then into a room opposite and I found there the true counterpart of Mr Adams. It was his wife. Small, short and squat, she is accused of a horrible crime. It is said she puts on rouge. What is certain is that if her manner is not the most affable, her mind is well balanced and cultivated. She was accompanied only by a niece and a maidservant.

At two o’clock Cl Neilson, elected President of the whole ceremony, accompanied Gl White and all the citizens entered into the President’s room. Mr Neilson in the name of all the inhabitants read an address conceived in a style filled with expressions of attachment for the Constitution and the leading public officials. Mr Adams read his response, he spoke to some, shook the hand of all, and then he departed. At three o’clock the same ceremony to invite him to go into the dining hall. He made his way there through the ranks of citizens and thirty of the militia in uniform who lined his path. They saluted him by lowering flags. The table was set for 60 people. Rost-beef, turkeys, Pays [pies?], etc, were served in profusion.

In the middle of the dinner Mr Goss, a man 6 feet tall, over 70 years old, tanner by trade and prattler by habit, got up from the other end of the table, came to the side where the President was, displaced Gl White, who was seated beside him, sat down there himself and occupied his attention with the most coarse and silly tales possible. The good President laughed, then considering his enormous height said to him, “You should have been born in the states of the King of Prussia. You would have been the ornament of his guards.” “Would I have been the second in his kingdom, I would not wish to have been born there,” the tanner said to him. “Nor I,” answered the President “would I have been the first.” ’

This article is a slightly revised version of one first published on 21 May 2011.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A Carnap gold mine!

Rudolf Carnap, one of the central figures of 20th century philosophy, was born 130 years ago today. He was the leading exponent of what is called logical positivism or logical empiricism and helped found the idea of a philosophy of science. Born in Germany, he emigrated to the United States in the mid-1930s. Throughout his life he kept shorthand diaries. Recently, many of these have been made freely available online as series of digital images, and some of them have also been transcribed (but only in German). André Carus, an academic philosopher who runs a Carnap blog, has called the diaries ‘a Carnap gold mine!’ None of the diary material, though, has yet appeared in English.

Carnap was born on 18 May 1891 in the small town of Ronsdorf, now part of Wuppertal, an industrial city near the Ruhr area of northwest Germany. His mother was a teacher, and his father owned a ribbon-making factory. He was educated at home before secondary school years, and, in 1908, he moved with his family to Jena, to live with his uncle, Friedrich Wilhelm Dörpfeld, a well-known and highly influential archaeologist. He attended Jena university to study philosophy, physics, and mathematics, and was drawn to Gottlob Frege’s courses in mathematical logic. He was an enthusiastic member of the Youth Movement then sweeping Germany, and became one of its local representatives. Although opposed on moral and political grounds to the war, he felt obliged to serve in the army. After three years he was given permission to study at the University of Berlin (1917-1918) where Albert Einstein was a newly appointed professor. 

Returning to the University of Jena, he wrote a thesis defining an axiomatic theory of space and time but it pleased neither the physics or philosophy departments, so he wrote another on the theory of space in a more orthodox Kantian style. This was published in 1921 as Der Raum (Space). For several years he continued his researches in logic and the foundations of physics and wrote a number of essays on problems of space, time, and causality, as well as a textbook, Abriss der Logistik, on symbolic logic. In 1926, he was invited by Moritz Schlick, the founder of the Vienna Circle to join the faculty of the University of Vienna, where he soon became an influential member. Initial ideas of logical positivism, or logical empiricism emerged from discussions within the Circle, as they sought to develop a scientific world view through bringing the precision of the exact sciences to philosophical inquiry.

Carnap and his associates established close connections with scholars in other countries, among them a group of empiricists in Berlin under Hans Reichenbach. Carnap and Reichenbach founded a periodical, Erkenntnis as a forum for the new ‘scientific philosophy’. In 1928, came Carnap’s first major work Der logische Aufbau der Welt (The Logical Structure of the World). From 1931 to 1935, he was professor of natural philosophy at the German University in Prague, where he developed a more liberal version of empiricism, elaborated in his essay Testability and Meaning.

In 1935, Carnap emigrated to the US (becoming a naturalised citizen in 1941) and took up a post as professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago, where he remained mostly until 1952 (1939-1941 was spent at Harvard University). He wrote books on semantics, modal logic, and on the philosophical foundations of probability and inductive logic. After a stint at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, he joined the UCLA Department of Philosophy in 1954. He worked on scientific knowledge, the analytic–synthetic distinction, and the verification principle. Other writings on thermodynamics, and on the foundations of probability and inductive logic, were published after his death in 1970. He was married twice, having four children by his first marriage to Elizabeth Schöndube, and marrying his second wife, Elizabeth Ina Stöger, in 1933. Further information is available at Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or the Internet Encyclopadia of Philosophy.

Carnap kept diaries for much of his life, in German and using a shorthand. They are held with a large collection of other material (donated by Carnap’s daughter in 1974) in the Carnap Papers at the ULS Archives & Special Collections at the University of Pittsburgh. The diaries cover a long period, from 1911 to 1969. A full list is available online with links to the digital images of many, if not most, of the diaries. According to the inventory, transcripts of the diary images are pending and will be put online soon.

Indeed, work has been under way for sometime to produce a working draft of the diaries up to 1935. Brigitta Arden and Brigitte Parakenings have been transcribing them in collaboration with Christian Damböck’s research project Historical-Critical Edition of Sources from the Nachlass of Rudolf Carnap. The initial result is available as a pdf here, but, as the authors state, the text comes with a warning that it must not be cited - there is no introduction, no editorial report, no index of abbreviations, only sketchy annotations, a fragmentary index etc. 

Here is a short bit about the project from an article (entitled Carnap gold mine!) written by André Carus, a philosopher (Munich Centre for Mathematical Philosophy) who runs a Carnap blog,

‘Thanks to Christian Damböck, who has a multi-year grant for this purpose from the Austrian government, Carnap’s diaries (up to 1935) - long inaccessible, and only recently open to the public - have now all been transcribed from Carnap’s Stolze-Schrey shorthand. [. . .] Carnap’s shorthand is not just a standard off-the-shelf system. It is based on Stolze-Schrey, but he used hundreds of personalized abbreviations of his own, which can only be learned by long experience of trial and error. So learning to read it is hard, and I have to admit that even after a lot of practice, I find it slow going. I’ve had a look at some of these diaries in shorthand, and they are often hard to puzzle out. Even with the occasional gap here and there I’m very impressed at the thoroughness and completeness of the job the transcribers have done.’

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Great Exhibition

Today marks the 170th anniversary of the opening, by Queen Victoria, of the Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park, London, in 1851. It was the first international expo of its type, and was notable, among other things, for being housed in the Crystal Palace. Prince Albert was much involved in planning the exhibition, and the Queen, in her diary entry for the opening day, applauds him highly for the exhibition’s success.

The Great Exhibition, officially called the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, took place in Hyde Park, London, from 1 May to 15 October 1851. Prince Albert was heavily involved with the organisation, as was Henry Cole, a civil servant and inventor best known for introducing Christmas cards.

In the late 1840s, Cole, with Prince Albert’s backing, won a royal charter for the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and organised several exhibitions for celebrating modern industrial technology. Soon, though, he perceived the possibility of opening a future exhibition to international participants. Queen Victoria approved a Royal Commission, under the presidency of Prince Albert, to manage such a project for 1851.

The Crystal Palace, designed by Joseph Paxton drawing on his experience of building greenhouses for the sixth Duke of Devonshire, was constructed to house the exhibition. (It was later moved to Sydenham in south London, an area which became known as Crystal Palace. The building itself, though, was destroyed by fire in 1936.) Some six million people visited the Great Exhibition and it was deemed a huge success, not least financially with the profits being used to found the now-famous Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Here is an extract from Queen Victoria’s diary for the day of the opening, freely available on a website dedicated to her journals. (See also The crown hurt me.)

1 May 1851
‘This day is one of the greatest and most glorious days of our lives, with which, to my pride and joy the name of my dearly beloved Albert is forever associated! It is a day which makes my heart swell with thankfulness ... The Park presented a wonderful spectacle, crowds streaming though it - carriages and troops passing, quite like the Coronation Day, and for me, the same anxiety. The day was bright, and all bustle and excitement. At half past 11, the whole procession in 9 state carriages was set in motion. Vicky and Bertie were in our carriage. Vicky was dressed in lace over white satin, with a small wreath of pink wild roses, in her hair, and looked very nice. Bertie was in full Highland dress. The Green Park and Hyde Park were one mass of densely crowded human beings, in the highest good humour and most enthusiastic. I never saw Hyde Park look as it did, being filled with crowds as far as the eye could reach. A little rain fell, just as we started; but before we neared the Crystal Palace, the sun shone and gleamed upon the gigantic edifice, upon which the flags of every nation were flying.

We drove up Rotten Row and got out of our carriages at the entrance on that side. The glimpse through the iron gates of the Transept, the moving palms and flowers, the myriads of people filling the galleries and seats around, together with the flourish of trumpets, as we entered the building, gave a sensation I shall never forget, and I felt much moved ... In a few seconds we proceeded, Albert leading me having Vicky at his hand, and Bertie holding mine. The sight as we came to the centre where the steps and chair (on which I did not sit) was placed, facing the beautiful crystal fountain was magic and impressive. The tremendous cheering, the joy expressed in every face, the vastness of the building, with all its decorations and exhibits, the sound of the organ (with 200 instruments and 600 voices, which seemed nothing), and my beloved Husband the creator of this great ‘Peace Festival’, uniting the industry and arts of all nations of the earth, all this, was indeed moving, and a day to live forever. God bless my dearest Albert, and my dear Country which has shown itself so great today ... The Nave was full of people, which had not been intended and deafening cheers and waving of handkerchiefs, continued the whole time of our long walk from one end of the building, to the other. Every face was bright, and smiling, and many even had tears in their eyes ... One could of course see nothing, but what was high up in the Nave, and nothing in the Courts. The organs were but little heard, but the Military Band, at one end, had a very fine effect ...

We returned to our place and Albert told Lord Breadalbane to declare the Exhibition opened, which he did in a loud voice saying “Her Majesty commands me to declare the Exhibition opened”, when there was a flourish of trumpets, followed by immense cheering. Everyone was astounded and delighted. The return was equally satisfactory - the crowd most enthusiastic and perfect order kept. We reached the Palace at 20 minutes past 1 and went out on the balcony, being loudly cheered. That we felt happy and thankful, - I need not say - proud of all that had passed and of my beloved one’s success. Dearest Albert’s name is for ever immortalised and the absurd reports of dangers of every kind and sort, set about by a set of people, - the ‘soi-disant’ fashionables and the most violent protectionists - are silenced. It is therefore doubly satisfactory that all should have gone off so well, and without the slightest accident or mishap.’

This article is a slightly revised version of one first published on 1 May 2011.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Heart aches for the mothers

’How dreadful to be left in one’s old age dependent upon strangers, and broken down in health, God help me that I may never be left thus friendless; I feel as if I could not turn any one away and especially a mother, my heart aches for the mothers.’ This is from the extensive diaries of thrice-married Emmeline Wells, a Mormon and women’s rights advocate who died 100 years ago today.

Emmeline Blanche Woodward was born in 1828 in Petersham, Massachusetts, her parents seventh child. Her father died when she was four, and her mother remarried before moving to North New Salem. She was schooled at New Salem Academy. As advised by her mother, she heeded the Latter-day Saint missionaries and, aged 14,, was baptised a member of the Mormon Church. Over the following eight years, she married and migrated to Nauvoo, Illinois, gave birth to and lost an infant son, was abandoned by her young husband, married Newel K. Whitney as a plural wife (in a ceremony performed by Brigham Young), crossed the plains to Utah (then Deseret), gave birth to two daughters, and became a widow! 

Emmeline took up teaching, but in 1852 - still only 24 - became the seventh wife of Daniel H. Wells, a friend of her late husband’s and a prominent citizen who eventually became mayor of Salt Lake City. He established her in a two-story home with a garden, where she had three daughters. According to biographies, she never regretted or doubted her participation in polygamy. When the Utah War broke out in 1857, Emmeline Wells moved south to Provo, where she continued to teach, and in 1859 gave birth to her fourth daughter. By the 1860s, she was involved in church and public service, but it was her skill as a writer that brought her notice, with articles on women’s rights for the magazines Women’s Exponent and Women’s Journal. From the late 1870s, she became to take active role in the national suffrage movement; and for 30 years she represented Utah women in national suffrage associations. In 1899, she traveled to London to speak as a US representative to the International Council of Women. 

In 1912, Emmeline Wells received an honorary degree from Brigham Young University, and she lived to see the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which brought voting rights to women in 1920. She died on 25 April 1921. According to the Utah History Encyclopaedia, she was ‘known for her executive talents, her superb memory, and her indefatigable energy’, and ‘served as liaison between Mormon and non-Mormon women’ helping to ‘dispel much of the hostile criticism of her people’. On her 100th birthday, representative Utah women of all faiths and political persuasions posthumously recognised her achievements by placing a bust of her in the rotunda of the state capitol building, the only woman so honoured. Further information is also available at Wikipedia, Alexander Street and The Church Historian’s Press.

Wells left behind some 47 volumes of diaries spanning the years 1844 to 1920, There is substantial gap in the diary entries between 1846 and 1874 - though it is considered possible diaries from this period have been lost. The diaries today are held at Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. They have recently been edited and made freely available online by the Church Historian’s Press - see Deseret News.

The publisher states: ‘The diaries of Emmeline B. Wells provide a window into the life of one of the most influential Latter-day Saint women in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the diaries she is both historymaker, as she meets with presidents and works with national suffrage leaders, and historian, as she documents noteworthy events, daily interactions with her family and members of her community, and her adversities and faith. The diaries are a record of her perceptions and philosophies, and they are valuable not only to historians but also to those simply curious about this remarkable woman and the time in which she lived.’

Here are several examples, with original (lack of) punctuation but page references and footnote numbers removed.

10 August 1874
‘The upper porch is nearly finished, the men cut off lots of branches while I was away and made me feel dreadful, I never intended anything of the sort, Mell & Em. went down to Mary Ann’s, Lizzie Heisel went to Lile’s today - I am not feeling well and am so low-spirited tomorrow is my husband’s trial towards evening Mrs. Nancy Dixon came here and said she was destitute of a home, I told her to stay until I could see what could be done for her in our Society; how dreadful to be left in one’s old age dependent upon strangers, and broken down in health, God help me that I may never be left thus friendless; I feel as if I could not turn any one away and especially a mother, my heart aches for the mothers, Mr. Wilson came and spent the evening also Richard [J.] Taylor;’

23 August 1874
‘Mary Jo [Ayers Young]’s baby died this morn. we are none of us very well today – in the evening Will was here Mell. went with Lile to the Methodist Church; Mr. Bryant came home with her; Jo. [Joseph W.] Taylor, Rudd, Clawson, Harry [Henry B.] Emery, Rulon, Heber and several other of the young folks were here; enjoyed themselves very much indeed;

Wm. [Dunford] was here drunk both Saturday night and Sunday very much to my annoyance; indeed on Sunday he made me quite sick; when will it all end; I am so worn out with these kind of things;’

3 November 1874
‘This is the day Mr. Hendrie spoke of as one on which he had made an engagement to be at home I was busy writing a note to my husband relative to Mellie’s marriage when aunt Zina came in and Mell was terribly annoyed in consequence and we had something of a scene, however I could not write afterwards and even now when almost a week has elapsed and many stirring incidents have since transpired I feel as if I could scarcely resume my pen May God help me to overcome every weakness and be complete master of myself. having in subjection every impulse and feeling guided and controlled by the Spirit of God, We got a dozen new glasses from the co-op’

11 December 1874
‘This is Onie’s birthday she is five years old, I have been busy preparing my piece for the paper, called on Mrs. Richards’ coming home about four o’clock my friend came to meet me and walked a block with me said he should go to Bingham on Saturday; What can be the cause of the feeling of nearness which is in my heart for him, it is an enigma to me I have tried every way in the world to put this feeling from me; Em. went to the party in the Assembly-Rooms with Junie[;] Lou. went to [Hiram B. and Ellen] Clawson’s and staid all night, Annie and I were very lonely and I was not well my nerves were over-strained; I have been weeping for a day or two more than is usual with me; I pray and struggle against it with all my strength;’

2 May 1875
‘Wrote all day had Belle here, Em. went up to Belle’s and staid all day, in the evening Mr. Hendrie came and staid until late half-past twelve; it seemed refreshing after such an interval of time since he had been in our midst. If he could only realize the necessity of obeying the Gospel how happy we should all be. I cannot describe to any one my feelings in regard to these things.

This Mr Hendry so often referred to was very much in love with my sister Emmie An extremely nice man, educated wealthy good family but not a member of the Church. Mother idolized Emmie and desired her happiness but belief caused difficulties.

29  January  1881
'A very dull day. The Chinamen’s new year. Quite a demonstration of fire-works. “no wash, no iron, no workee.” Sister Pratt and I called on Maggie [Margaret Young] Taylor to invite her to Br. R’s. got the pictures in the locket. Dr. Ferguson is worse. Louisa [King Spencer] had a dinner for her mother and invited all the near relatives. <I was present.> Louie went to Ogden. Sep came down to stay over Sunday. rec’d a letter from Mrs. Brayman of Wisconsin’

13 April 1881
‘This is Emeline’s birthday she is twenty-four I gave her Jean Ingelow’s Poems. I was very weary could scarcely sit up came home and was much distressed. How lonely it is not to have any one to go to in the hour of trouble. Poor little Louie I cannot burden her, she is not well herself and I must not add to her misery’

27 April 1887
‘Today Dot has been very sick indeed, and her mother has had double duty to perform, running from room to room It does seem melancholy to hear the girls Louie in one room and Dot in another groaning with pain, mustard plasters have been used for both and several other remedies but with very little effect, The nurse Mrs. Kelly is not much good, she helps lift and turn Louie and does a little rubbing, but she has no tact what ever for the sick room The Dr. talks every day about aspirating or tapping but I have not consented as yet.’

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Repington’s wander-year

One hundred years ago, an ex-soldier and ex-war correspondent Charles à Court Repington, found himself in Budapest, admiring the Danube and the view from the British High Commission, enjoying the opera (The Evening Star by Meyerbeer) and dining with the Italian military commissioner. The details come from a diary he kept on a ‘wander-year’ round Europe determined to acquaint himself with the new personalities and new ideas which ‘the great war-storm’ had thrown up. Repington is credited with coining the term ‘First World War’.

Charles à Court was born at Heytesbury, Wiltshire in 1858, but did not take on the name Repington until 1903, following the requirement in a will that led to his inheriting the Amington Hall Estate. He was schooled at Eton College and then attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. In 1878, he joined the British Army’s Rifle Brigade as commissioned infantry officer. He married Melloney Catherine Scobel in 1882. They had two daughters who survived infancy, but the marriage foundered on Repington’s frequent infidelities. Later, he had a long-term affair with Mary North, until her divorce; thereafter, they lived together for the latter part of Repington’s life, having one daughter together.

After serving in Afghanistan, Burma and Sudan, he entered the Staff College at Camberley, and subsequently was appointed military attaché in Brussels and The Hague, leading to a promotion as Lieutenant-Colonel. He served as a staff officer during the Second Boer War in South Africa 1899-1901, and was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George during the conflict. On returning to London, he took a position as a military correspondent with the Morning Post (1902-1904), and The Times (1904-1918). His reports as a war correspondent from the scene of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905 were later published as a book entitled The War in the Far East. During the war, he relied on his personal contacts in the British Army and the War Office for his information and for permission to visit the Western Front during the early stages of the conflict in late 1914, at a time when most journalists were prohibited.

One of Repington’s most important early scoops led to the so-called ‘shell scandal’ in May 1915. The British Expeditionary Force Commander-in-Chief, Sir John French, suggested to Repington that a shortage of artillery ammunition was the reason for the failure of the British attack at Neuve Chapelle in March that year. The furore arising from Repington’s report in The Times led to the ultimate removal of French (replaced by Sir Douglas Haig) and the downfall of the last Liberal government. Repington resigned from the newspaper in early 1918 on a point of principle, and rejoined the Morning Post. Shortly afterwards he was charged and found guilty of offences (disclosing secret information in his articles) under the Defence of the Realm Act. He was found guilty, and fined for his actions. He is thought to have been the first person to use the term ‘First World War’ - on 10 September 1918 in a conversation noted in his diary. After the end of the war, Repington joined the staff of The Daily Telegraph. He died in 1925. See Wikipedia,, Spartacus Educational or the Rippington Family website for further information.

In his last years, Repington published two volumes of his war diaries: The First World War 1914-1918 (available to read at Internet Archive). In 1921, he took a year long journey around Europe, and subsequently published his diary of the trip. His short preface explains: ‘When the Peace Treaties, with one exception, were ratified and in full operation, I felt the need of a wander-year in order to acquaint myself with the new personalities and new ideas which the great war-storm had thrown up to the surface of affairs in continental Europe. It was useless to content oneself with archaic notions when all was changed, if one wished to keep abreast with the times, and there was no better way to discover what was happening than to go and see for oneself. [. . .] I offer this diary as a small contribution to the knowledge of people and events in the world of to-day in the hope that it may aid my readers to judge for themselves the proper direction of foreign policy in the future.’

And exactly a century ago, Repington was in Budapest. Here is his diary entry of that day as found in After the War; London-Paris-Rome-Athens-Prague-Vienna-Budapest-Bucharest-Berlin-Sofia-Coblenz-New York-Washington; a Diary (Constable & Co., 1922 - also freely available online at Internet Archive).

15 April 1921
‘The Danube is a nobler river than the Moldau, but Budapest has a strong resemblance to Prague, with its heights and palaces on one bank and the lower part of the town on the other. Went up to our Legation. Hohler has been and still is seriously ill with ’flu and bronchitis. Saw Athelstan-Johnson, the First Secretary, and looked over the Legation - I beg its pardon, the Headquarters of the British High Commission - which has a beautiful view over the river from the heights close to the old cathedral. Very comparable with Sir G. Clerics view from his terrace over Prague, but the Legation here is much smaller. A charming place of an old-world type with arched and vaulted roofs and an inner court. Left a card and note on Count Albert Apponyi who is away. Lunched with A.-J. in his house and we discussed European politics. He thinks that the old nobles party here is losing ground, and that the various countries round hate each other too much to combine. He would approve of the final break-up of Austria, part going to Czechs and Serbs and part to Germany and Hungary. I said that I did not see the continued existence of Czecho-Slovakia on these terms and that Italy would not like Germany on her borders.

He told me that Lord Bertie’s correspondence was lodged at Welbeck in two strong boxes and that it would not be published for fifty years. I asked if it included the private letters written to the F.O. and were they not very Rabelaisian? Yes, he said they were. Bertie had copies of them all, for he was a bureaucrat and had kept everything. I grumbled because we should never see these gems. A.-J. said that they were a most faithful and accurate representation of Bertie’s time in Paris during the war.

Went on to see Brigadier-General Gorton, my old friend of past Intelligence days, now at the head of our Military Mission here. The French press seems to be quite off the rails in belittling the Little Entente and in boosting a Karl Kingdom here and in Austria. I am amazed that they seem quite off the Czechs. The Frenchmen ought to travel a bit and they would see how the land lay. I saw Mr. Barber of our Commercial Branch, Mr. Humphreys being away, and am to come in and gain a little trade wisdom from him tomorrow. Went to the opera with the Gortons at б p.m. A good house and a competent orchestra. “The Evening Star,” by Meyerbeer. I have never heard it before. Very well done. Went on afterwards to dine at about 9.15 with the Gortons and General Bellini, the Italian Military Commissioner, and his wife. I asked the Italian General whether Italy’s natural frontier on the Alps appeared to him worth the passing over of the Tyrol to Germany, as seemed to me likely to happen eventually. He thought it was worth even having Germany on the border for Italy to gain the natural frontier. Doubt whether Sforza will agree with this opinion. Am afraid that our own people at home are too much immersed in their Martha-like worries to understand where all this affair is leading. The abandonment of Austria is the beginning of a great future disturbance which will entail the ruin of the Benès scheme and of Czecho-Slovakia, and the eventual spread of German dominion over not only Austria, but Hungary, which is too hard beset by Roumanians and Jugo-Slavs not to seek refuge in a German, or in fact in any combination which is against the Roumanians.’

Friday, April 9, 2021

Indonesia’s first prime minister

‘However little the common people understand, feel the need for democratic rights and for representative government, there is a potential in this kind of humanism, to make education of the people, and material and spiritual happiness of the people, into the principles and aims of such a government.’ This is from the prison diary of Sutan Sjahrir, the first prime minister of Indonesia, who died 55 years ago today. He was an idealistic intellectual who put his country’s interests before his own. Though he fell out of favour under the Sukarno regime, and ended his life in exile, there has recently been more interest in his life and legacy. 

Sjahrir was born in 1909 in Padangpandjang, Sumatra, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia]. His father was the chief public prosecutor in Medan and advisor to the Sultan of Deli. Sjahrir received a Dutch education in Sumatra and Java and attended the Law Faculty at the University of Leiden. While in the Netherlands, he was a member of a socialist student group and, briefly, secretary of the student group Perhimpoenan Indonesia (Indonesian Association). Before finishing his degree, he returned, in 1931, to the Dutch East Indies where he helped set up the Indonesian National Party (PNI), and also became involved in its newspaper, Daulat Rajat. Both he and his activist friend Mohammad Hatta were imprisoned in the Cipinang Penitentiary Institution by the Dutch in 1934 for nationalist activities, and exiled to Boven Digul region, then to the Banda islands.

During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, Sjahrir chose to withdraw from public life but became involved with the resistance movement. At the height of the chaos and violence during the so-called Bersiap period of the Indonesian revolution just after the war ended, Sjahrir published an epoch-making pamphlet - Our Struggle. This was well received by militant nationalists, and led to President Sukarno appointing him prime minister in late 1945. Sjahrir negotiated the Linggadjati Agreement, under which the Dutch acknowledged Indonesia’s authority in Java and Sumatra; but his conciliatory policies fell out of favour, and in 1947 he was forced out of office. 

Subsequently, Sjahrir became a member of the Indonesian delegation to the United Nations. In 1948, he formed a Socialist party, Partai Sosialis Indonesia (PSI), which opposed the Communist Party, but it failed to win popular support and was banned by Sukarno in 1960 because of its support for a rebellion in Sumatra and its opposition to the president’s policies. In 1962, Sjahrir was arrested on charges of conspiracy. He was held without trial until 1965, when he was allowed to travel to Switzerland for medical treatment following a stroke. However, he died on 9 April 1966 while still in Switzerland. 

According to Wikipedia, in 2009, the Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda commended Sjahrir’s legacy: ‘He was a thinker, a founding father, a humanistic leader and a statesman. He should be a model for the young generation of Indonesians. His thoughts, his ideas and his spirit are still relevant today as we face global challenges in democracy and the economy.’ Further information is also available at Encyclopaedia Britannica and Sol Tas’s Souvenirs of Sjahrir.

In his final years, Sjahrir kept a diary - a prison diary. A few extracts in English can be found in Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia by Rudolf Mrázek (Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 1994), available to preview at Googlebooks or Amazon. The publisher says this work is ‘both a study of an individual and the social conditions that shaped him.’ Mrázek comments briefly on the diary: ‘There was a certain youthfulness about what Sjahrir wrote during his last years - something like a fresh beginning about his texts from prisons and the hospital after 1962, and before he was paralyzed. Sjahrir seemed, also, more than during the 1950s, to take pleasure in reading. He opened his books with eagerness: “I do not know yet what is in this book,” he noted more than once in the prison diary he kept.’

Here are several extracts from Sjahrir’s diary as quoted by Mrázek

6 May 1962 [Madiun prison]
‘Together with this notebook, which I shall use for recording my days, they sent me from the outside two volumes of collected works by Marx and Engels, as 1I had requested; also a book by Ralph Linton on anthropology and a book by Karl Wittfogel on Oriental Despotism.

First, I look at the writing of Marx and Engels. Clearly, the articles in those two volumes are written by a pen which twenty or thirty years ago powerfully influenced my thinking, my feeling, my views and, because of that, the direction my life has taken. It is as if I am meeting again with very dear friends from the past [sahabat-sahabat karib lama], but being aware, at the same time, that the world had changed and my views, too. I know that reading these texts again will cause a great reckoning with an old love [tjinta lama], a new reckoning with the influences in my life which belong to the past, but maybe, also to this very moment. I am sure that much good awaits me as I am about to encounter this again. I have postponed this reading in order to postpone the reckoning, because I felt sure that this would become a very personal [persoonlijk] matter to me.’

September 1962
‘To my wife and equally to myself, it is, indeed, amazing that the State could behave to me in the way I am now experiencing. I never have, and I never will expect recognition, and, least of all honors, from my nation and people. . . But I have also never dreamed that the State, the nation and the people might suspect me of being unfaithful or not faithful enough [tidak atau kurang setia] to my State, nation and people. This is the same, as my wife says, as suspecting me of being unfaithful or not faithful enough to myself, unfaithful or not faithful enough, through my life, to my aspirations and to my consciousness; as if I abandoned the view of life, which I held for the past fifty years, as if, at present, as I am coming closer to my grave, I had no view of life at all.’

October 1962
‘The character of this book is very different from that of Ogburn. Weber is a kind of scholar of the 19th century, a universal man of letters [pudjangga universil] like Goethe, Nietzsche, or others, who lived only to read and write down their extraordinary explanations of the world, that is, men who possessed an unusual capacity to learn and to remember from the time when they were children. In the 20th century one perhaps would not meet men like that, because the specialization in scholarship has advanced so much that it is impossible to follow all the directions. What is impressive is that much of what Max Weber wrote is still true for today, and that it is, thus, the essential and fundamental [pokok dan dasar] truth.

I am very much attracted to this writing. As if it had been written for the time we are now living in, although it was written around 1920. The style is truly appealing, in spite of the fact that it is a translation. I decided to read all the writing by Max Weber in the original. In spite of the fact that the style of his writing is that of classical German, [growing out of] Latin or Greek, with very long sentences, I find it even more interesting than, for instance, the writing of Marx, even more spirited, even more lively.’

26 March 1963
‘I myself learned many big lessons from the general elections, so that later . . . I agreed that we should move back to the Constitution of 1945, in which certainly the position of the Executive is pushed forward and takes on a quality of leadership that rather surpasses that of the day-to-day powers of Parliament, [but] which also gives the Executive enough space and time to work. As is the case with the US Constitution, the [Indonesian] Constitution of 1945 is succinct enough to be perfected later in accordance with further experiences. . . It appears that Feith did not think about this, as his book bears a title “The Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia.” ’

3 June 1963
‘My memories and my thoughts turn and fly home, to my children, whom I wish to be more happy in a future, and better than me. I hope they will grow into edel human beings, which means honest, straight, lovingly disposed to all other human beings, and not proud of rank or distinctions. Certainly I hope that their brains will also be sharp, sharper and better trained than mine, but what I have said above can be best summarized with this most important word edel.’

June 1963
‘If I were to write about this period, the frame would be different, and also the events and the ideas, which I would emphasize, would very much differ from what is emphasized in this book. . . For the time being, in fact, “democracy” for us can not mean a technique of governing, and a citizenlike way of life, but mainly the guarantee against tyranny and despotism. . . This [democracy], actually, can be achieved through enlightened [verlicht] humanistic despotism or humanistic dictatorship. However little the common people understand, feel the need for democratic rights and for representative government, there is a potential in this kind of humanism, to make education of the people, and material and spiritual happiness of the people, into the principles and aims of such a government. So far as such a government truly behaves like a father of the people, like the people’s own flesh and own blood, also the preparedness of the people to exercise its sovereignty [kedaulatan], and to have a government based on democratic techniques, may grow.’

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Days before Custer’s Last Stand

Mark Kellogg, a roving reporter considered the first Associated Press correspondent to die in the line of duty, was born 190 years ago today. He died young, along with General Custer and over 200 US soldiers at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Remarkably, though, a short diary he had been keeping while travelling with Custer survived, and is now considered a primary historical source for details of the days preceding the infamous battle - known by some as Custer’s Last Stand.

Kellogg was born in Brighton, Ontario, Canada, on 31 March 1831. He was one of ten children, and his family moved several times before settling in La Crosse, Wisconsin. There, Kellogg learned to operate a telegraph and worked for both the Northwestern Telegraph Company and the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company. He married Martha Robinson in 1861 and they had two daughters. During the American Civil War, he was assistant editor for the La Crosse Democrat newspaper. After Martha died, in 1867, he left his daughters with an aunt, and began drifting around the Midwest, taking up local newspaper reporting jobs. In the early 1870s, he moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, where he helped editor Clement A. Lounsberry found The Bismarck Tribune.

In 1876, when Lounsberry learned that a military column - including the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment commanded by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer - would soon leave Fort Abraham Lincoln for the Montana Territory, he agreed to accompany Custer and provide news coverage. However, at the last minute his wife fell ill, so Kellogg took his place. Kellogg sent several dispatches back to The Bismarck Tribune before, on 25 June, being killed along with Custer and over 200 soldiers at the (now infamous) Battle of Little Bighorn. When Lounsberry learned of these events, he worked through the night to produce a special edition of the Tribune which would prove to be the first full account of the battle. As a newspaper stringer whose reports on route with Custer were picked up around the country, Kellogg is considered the first Associated Press correspondent to die in the line of duty. Further information is available at Wikipedia, HistoryNet and The Duluth News Tribune.

Some of Kellogg’s diary (37 sheets dated up to 9 June) survived, and are held today by the State Historical Society of North Dakota. They are considered one of the primary historical sources for information on the days preceding the battle. Images of every page can be viewed online at Digital Horizons along with a full transcription (which, however, is not always accurate when compared to the text in the images). Here are several extracts (with one or two minor corrections/edits to the transcription provided online).

26 May 1876
‘Broke camp 5:30 A.M. crossed run on bridge. Marched 4.2 miles to another feeder of Big Heart, put in bridge, thence to another feeder of Big Heart, going into camp at 2:30 P.M. marching 12 4/10 miles. Scouts from Lincoln on road at 3 A.M. with a mail. Weather hot and dry, first day of real heat yet experienced. Good grass, and water, no wood. Marched over considerable cactus growth today & some red gravel beds seen, first indications of approach to Bad Lands. Gen Custer, pioneering at front all day. Lays all the camps, & attends in person to much of detail of march. [. . .] 

Antelope plenty, no signs of other game - No Indian signs for past three days. Mail brought news by telegraph to Gen Terry, of Cabinet changes. Some astonishment expressed because of appointment of Don. Cameron, as Secy of War. Hardly expected in military circles. Past 2 days we have marched between the Stanley trail west of 73. It is an excellent route thus far. Sent. Should properly be called Terrys Trail’

1 June 1876
‘Reveille at 3 A.M., looked out found 2 inches on ground & snowing hard. Has snowed nearly all day. Have not moved. 7 P.M. snowing harder than ever wind blowing fr N.W. growing colder. Stock feeling the storm

Very dull in camp, some card playing, no incident wood plenty, & fires kept burning all around, but few Sibley stoves, at HD Qrs & 3 or 4 officers tent. Yesterday 8 miles W.L. Mo. camp. Saw a coal strata on fire, looked like whole side mountain on fire vein about 4 ft thick. Lignite cropping out all along.’

5 June 1876
‘Broke camp usual time Marched mostly a South Course 10.4 miles, struck Stanleys return 72 trail again descended into Bad Lands crossed Cabine Creek at 11 AM, Marched 20.2 miles & camped, grass fair, water ditto, no wood, used dried sagebrush for cooking. Worse road have had & worst country. Chief products sagebrush, cactus & rattlesnakes. Antelope very plenty. No Indian signs today. Been ahead with Reynolds. Killed 2 Black tailed deer & 2 Antelope. Tonights camp on open plains. Hd Qrs on hill top, handsome and convenient camp, but for lack of wood. 2 mules died last night. Saw 1st Buf. signs today, tracks fresh, since snow.’

6 June 1876
‘Broke camp and under march at 4.30 A.M. Weather clear, cool, breezy. March 10.4 miles to near head O. Fallons Creek crossed and marched 22.3 miles where we crossed fork again and went into camp at 4.45 P.M. having marched miles. Had some difficulty in finding crossing Country along creek flat, very broken, and soil soft. Are making new trail entirely. Marching been generally excellent today. Reynolds guiding discretionanly [sic] Timber heavy all cottonwood, plenty fair water, grazing not good. Sage brush & cactus principal growth today.

First Buffalo Killed today. Two privates Troop H, out hunting yesterday not returning last night, fears they had been captured by hostiles; but they reached column about 10 A.M. all night got lost, & belated in bad land region, which we are yet in. Priv. McWilliams Troop H, accidentally shot himself with a revolver today; ball took effect calf leg ran down tendon, and lodged just under skin top of foot, flesh wound lay him up a month. Marched through Prairie dog village containing 700 or 800 acres. Little fellows surprised & barked top of voices. Saw while with advance today deserted wood hovel, evidently put together without use of axe, Rough, dry logs piled together with broken limbs and stick placed in then mudded. A mere hovel. Some white men wintered there evidences of horse, & well beaten path in front extending some distance each side of structure. Saw 1st wind puff today.’

7 June 1876
‘Under March 4:45 A.M. Weather misty, clouds heavy threatening rain. Marched today 32 miles & camped on Powder River. Cavalry Gen Custer, at 3.30. Gen T. and head of column 5 P.M. & the rear of Col. at 8 P.M. Terribly rough country. Gen C- with Col Weirs troops, used as videttes, scouted ahead & succeeded finding a passable trav route over a country would seem impractical, up, up, down, down, zig zag, twisting turning &c Gen C. rode 50 miles, fresh when arrived. Told Terry last eve, would succeed finding trail & water horse in P. River. 3.0 P.M. today, succeeded at 3.30 P.M. Most attractive scenery yet. Spruce & Cedar on Buttes, marched on “hogs back” highest Buttes in country for mile or two, if teams went either side roll down hundreds feet. Only route could be found in this direction. Saw, what seemed like Ancient ruins. Buffalo seen today, none taken, order no firing. This camp excellent, wood, water, grass plenty. Timber all Cottonwood of smallish or medium size. Every one tired out, & stock completely so. Several mules & few horses played dropped out of teams today. Some breakage to wagons slight damages. Remarkable march. We are 26 miles in direct line from camp on. OFallon Creek last night. Have marched thus far 32.3 miles. Its 20 miles from here to mouth P. River. Fish’

Saturday, March 27, 2021

When you win

’It is an amazing rush of emotion that flows through your whole body when you win. I certainly don’t get that feeling in anything else I do in life. It’s an overwhelming feeling of joy, a physical sensation that is almost sexual.’ Happy birthday David Coulthard - 50 today. At the time of his retirement as a Formula 1 racing driver in 2008, he had competed in the most races and amassed the highest points total of any other British driver. He won his first F1 Grand Prix in 1995, and then two in 1997. The following year, 1998, the media made him favourite to win the championship, and he kept a diary of his efforts to do so. 

Coulthard was born on 27 March 1971 in Twynholm, southwest Scotland, into a family with a racing history: his grandfather had competed in the Monte Carlo Rally, and his father was a Scottish karting champion. He went to school locally, did well at O-Levels, but was increasingly drawn into the racing world. From the age of 11, he was racing karts, and by the age of 18 he was racing cars. He was the first recipient of the McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year award. In 1991, he signed with Paul Stewart Racing to compete in the British Formula 3 series, taking five victories and finishing second in the Championship. Several further jobs followed before, in 1993, he joined Williams Grand Prix Engineering team as their official test driver. After the death of Ayrton Senna in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, Coulthard himself was given the chance to race.

In 1995, Coulthard remained with Williams, winning his maiden Grand Prix in Portugal, but then, for 1996, he switched to McLaren-Mercedes alongside Mika Häkkinen, scoring his first win for McLaren in Melbourne at the start of 1997. In all, he scored 12 of his 13 grand prix wins and 51 of his 62 podium finishes with McLaren, and, after supporting team-mate Häkkinen to the drivers’ championship in 1998 and 1999, he finished runner-up to Michael Schumacher in 2001. In 2005, he moved to the newly formed Red Bull Racing team. By the time he retired from Formula 1, in 2008, he had notched up 535 points, making him then the highest scoring British driver of all time.

Coulthard switched to working for the media, a pundit for the BBC and then Channel Four; but he also returned to racing as an active driver in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters series in 2010-2012, piloting a 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class for Mücke Motorsport. In 2018, he was appointed spokesperson and advisory board member of the forthcoming W Series, a racing championship for women based on Formula 3-homologated Tatuus T-318 chassis. According to his own website, Coulthard ‘now uses his talents in the business arena from starting a number of successful businesses to ambassador roles to guest speaking’. According to Wikipedia, Coulthard was engaged to Karen Minier, a Belgian Formula 1 correspondent for French TV channel TF1, in 2006, and they had a child in 2008. He lives in Monaco, but has homes in London, Belgium and Switzerland; also, he owns several luxury hotels in Britain. Additional further information is available at RaceFans

In 1998, Simon & Schuster published David’s Diary - The quest for the Formula 1 1998 Grand Prix Championship by David Coulthard with Gerald Donaldson. See Goodreads for several reviews. Here are two extracts.

25 April 1998
‘In morning practice I was quickest, by eight tenths of a second over Mika, even though I spent much of the session working with different set-ups to try to reduce the understeer I had been experiencing while turning into the corners.

After the first qualifying runs I was fastest. Then, when we changed the set-up to reduce the understeer so I could attack the corners harder, Mika nipped ahead. For my third run we returned my car to its original settings. Three quarters of the way through the lap I was a couple of tenths slower than Mika’s time, so I threw everything I had into the final sector and finished up on pole by a tenth of a second over Mika.

It was my second pole in succession and very satisfying to get it. There was an element of relief to it because I had made it hard work for myself. Near the end, I knew Mika had improved, and that it was always going to be tight. So it was a good feeling to go out and do what I had to do, and react positively to the pressure of qualifying.’

26 April 1998
‘In the warm-up I was fastest by a considerable margin and felt very content with the car in race trim. The spare car was set up for me this weekend and I even had time to check it out for a few laps. Mika wound up fourth quickest after losing time with boiling brake fluid. I had a similar problem but chose not to come in and have the brakes bled the way he did.

To me, this was an indication that Mika was not as settled in his mind as I was. In a situation like this both drivers are thankful, in a way, that they are suffering with the same problem. It's easier to deal with in your mind when you know fate hasn’t singled you out. But it seemed like a push too hard. There was no need to be on the limit at every corner and as I had not won a race yet it would be foolish to risk making a mistake. I just quietly eased away.

The early laps went by without incident and then on lap 17 I was informed over the radio that Mika was out of the race. I didn’t see his car anywhere on the circuit so I presumed he had retired in the pits, which meant it was unlikely he had an engine failure. A few laps later I was instructed to short shift - shift gears earlier than usual at a lower rpm.

I never questioned why the team wanted me to do this, though ! suspected it had something to do with whatever Mika’s problem had been. I didn’t want to have to worry about it. When your team mate has a mechanical failure you have to be prepared for a similar problem in your car, but there is very little you can do about it other than follow the team’s instructions. You don’t want any unnecessary information. As it turned out Mika had a gearbox problem, but there seemed to be nothing wrong with mine.

Everything continued to go fairly smoothly and on lap 44 peeled off into the pits to make my second stop. I came in slowly to avoid overheating the brakes and the guys put in the fuel and changed the tyres with their usual efficiency. When I regained the circuit I immediately saw in my mirrors a red Ferrari. I then wondered at the wisdom of being so cautious on the entry to the pits, because I wasn’t sure if the Ferrari behind me was being driven by Michael or Eddie Irvine, who had been running second and third.

Since I was quite busy trying to get the most out of my new tyres I didn’t want to ask over the radio which Ferrari was behind me. When you’re concentrating hard a conversation can be distracting and any information you receive may not be immediately absorbed. So I focused on keeping the gap to the Ferrari and when I came around after the first lap my lead had actually increased. At this point I became more relaxed because If I could open up the gap with a full load of fuel and new tyres I was obviously in good shape.

It was Michael in the following Ferrari. He made a pit stop, after which he began to close up on me quite quickly. To counteract this threat Dave Ryan came on the radio and said I should go back to normal shifting. It was funny, because Dave said I needed to do a certain lap time to maintain the gap to Michael, and when I came around again I had actually gone a tenth of a second quicker than instructed. I felt like going on the radio and apologizing.

It was important to let Michael know that he could chase me all he wanted but if he got too close I could still go quicker than him. If you are chasing someone and they start to open up a bigger gap it can be demoralizing and they tend to back off. That’s what Michael did and he settled for second place.

On the final lap I spoke to the team over the radio, saying my usual thing when I am about to win: ‘Here I come!’ All the guys were leaning over the pit wall as I crossed the finish line and I jinked over close and gave them a bit of a victory wiggle.

It is an amazing rush of emotion that flows through your whole body when you win. I certainly don’t get that feeling in anything else I do in life. It’s an overwhelming feeling of joy, a physical sensation that is almost sexual.

This victory was especially satisfying because it was so timely. I had to come here and do exactly what I did. It is important not to allow people a comfort zone. That gives them extra confidence, so I had to take pole and lead from the start. When you’re under such pressure you have to take yourself back to the core of your self belief and motivation. You have to keep reminding yourself that you have what it takes to do the job. When you get proof of that, with a w it can put you on a roll.

In the post-race interviews I made a point of saying that my result was the best response to the earlier criticism, and to the rumours that my future in the team was not secure. It brought me to within three points of Mika in the championship, which meant the team would continue to focus on us both. If Michael had retired, it would have been perfect, but I was still three points ahead of him.

There was no partying or celebrating after the race because I was actually feeling unwell. I had a very sore stomach, probably from something I ate, and had to lie down for a couple of hours in the back of the team motor home. Heidi and I didn’t leave the circuit until late and it was well after midnight when we got home to Monaco. The next day I was involved in a Mercedes ‘A’ Class promotion with Mika and Ron near Nice, and that night we went to Barcelona to begin a week’s testing.’

Friday, March 12, 2021

Hammy is dead

‘As bad a thing happened this morning as ever could happen. Hammy is dead, and we lose a splendid soldier and I a very good friend. [. . .] One bullet hit him in the forehead, and he died almost immediately. He never spoke or opened his eyes.’ This is from the war diary kept by young Billy Congreve, born 130 years ago today. He quickly rose to the rank of brigade-major, was Mentioned in Dispatches, earned a DSO but was then killed in action aged by 25. So bravely had he fought, though, that he was soon awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

William La Touche ‘Billy’ Congreve was born on 12 March 1891 at Burton Hall, Cheshire. He went to Summerfelds School in Oxford and then Eton, before attending a crammer in London and, finally, joining the Royal Military College at Sandhurst in 1909. In 1911, he obtained a commission in the 2nd Light Rifle Brigade and, in the same year, was posted to the 3rd Battalion of the Rifle Brigade in Tipperary where he spent three years. By early 1913 he had been promoted to lieutenant. With the outbreak of the war, his battalion was sent to France where he was appointed to the staff position of Aide de Camp to major-general Hubert Hamilton. In the summer of 1915, he was made a captain.

That autumn, Congreve’s 3rd Division was involved in the huge operation around Hooge which failed badly and resulted in great loss of life. Nevertheless, for his actions, he was awarded the Military Cross. Further promotion followed, to brigade-major to the 76th Brigade, and further honours. In February 1916, he was awarded the Legion of Honour Croix de Chevalier, in May the DSO, and in June he was Mentioned in Despatches. Also in June, he returned to Britain on leave and married his long-time girlfriend Pamela Cynthia Maude before returning to the front line. A few weeks later, in July, he was killed by a sniper. But for his many acts of gallantry he was awarded the highest honour of all, a (posthumous) Victoria Cross. Further information is available at Wikipedia, Nestonpast and VC online.

Congreve kept a detailed diary for much of his war service, though in the months before his death the entries had become rather scanty. It was edited by Terry Norman and first published by William Kimber in 1982 as Armageddon Road: A VC’s Diary, 1914-1916. More recently, in 2014, it was republished by Pen & Sword Military with a foreword by Nigel Cave. Several pages can be previewed at Googlebooks or Amazon.

In his foreword Cave provides this overview: ‘The diary provides a fascinating mixture of material, revealing his close and affectionate family life, his heart felt reaction to the loss of friends, his almost forensic analysis of many of the actions in which he was involved - accompanied, in many cases, by very fine sketch maps, critiques of some of the commanders, battalions and formations, his sense of humour and an insight into a young officer who in rather less than two years served as an ADC to several divisional commanders, was a G Ops staff officer and finally, the job that he prized above all the others, that of a brigade major. He provides a useful commentary from one who was more “in the know” than most other officers, supplemented by close contact with his father who was, in the same time period, General Officer Commanding a brigade.’

Here are several extracts from the first months of the war.

4 September 1914
‘Still waiting. A week ago tomorrow we were shifted from Cambridge to here - Newmarket - as being a better camping place and where we eventually entrain if we ever do.

Much has happened on the Continent; the result being that the Germans are within thirty miles of Paris. We heard from the 1st Battalion that they have had a bad time of it. They were hurried up to the front (near Mons), slept the night in a wet cornfield and, at 6 p.m., were engaged. All morning they were marching, countermarching and fighting and, at 5 p.m., found themselves divided into two halves. One half of the battalion took up a position in a sunken road under heavy shrapnel and machine-gun fire. At 5.30 there was a council of war held by Sam Rickman to all officers and company sergeants. There were three possible things they could do: 1. To surrender; 2. To die where they were; 3. To try and get back.

They naturally decided on the latter course. Leaving everything but rifles and swords, they went across three-quarters of a mile of fire-swept ground, but lost heavily. Sam is believed to have a mortal stomach wound. Coryton, Lane and de Moleyns were also hit - of course none of them knew where the other half of the battalion had got to. So far we have no other news of them and nothing has come out in the newspapers.

Cis, John and Maggie turned up at Cambridge for the weekend and good it was to see them. Cis is off on Red Cross work to Belgium this week. I have kept John and he is living in my bivouac - as happy as the day is long. He comes out with ‘Wumps’ on our field days. Godders takes him on the machine-gun limber, and everyone spoils him.’

13 September 1914
‘We were kept on board till yesterday morning, when we went in and disembarked, a longish job, as the quay was a long way below us. I and others made several journeys into town and laid in vast stores of eatables. Many times was I asked for my silver cap badge as a souvenir. There were a lot of our wounded in the town. I saw Musters of the 60th who was hit in the chest by a shrapnel bullet. Luckily for him, it hit a bone and glanced off. He was in the retreat and never saw a German the whole time. The marching, he said, was awful: twenty-five miles a day and in very hot weather. About 4.30 we started to entrain in pouring rain.

I managed to sleep all right last night, and about 6 a.m. we reached Tours where we had breakfast. I ran up and got some boiling water out of the engine and made some chocolate for Godders and I - jolly good it was. All day we have been rolling along. About 5.30 this evening, we passed Paris.

All the way up we have seen French soldiers in their blue coats and red trousers, and at the halts we had great talks with them. They seem very intelligent fellows and I take it were all reserves of some type. It was amusing to see the scramble for the train when it suddenly started. Luckily it was so cumbersome a show that one could let it go for a hundred yards and still catch it. Everywhere we were given apples and cigarettes by the people. The country was pretty at first and it was hard to believe war even existed, except that one saw sentries everywhere guarding the line. There was a constant demand for souvenirs and a lot of men are now minus their cap badges.’

1 October 1914
‘What might have been a rather serious accident took place yesterday afternoon. The Norwegian minister in Paris got leave from GHQ to come over here and to be shown round. Instead of coming to us to ask his way, he must needs go off on his own, apparently thinking that he could drive his car right up to the trenches. He went up through Brenelle to carry out this plan and set off across the plateau towards the river. He was half-way over when the Germans spotted the car and opened on it with ‘crumps’.

The first shell made the chauffeur pull up! They began to try to turn the car, and that was as far as they got, for ‘crumps’ began to arrive in quantities and they fled to the shelter of some neighbouring haystacks, leaving the car to its fate. They saw the chauffeur get hit as he was getting out of the car; whether he was killed or not they did not know. Eventually and with great good fortune they got back to General Wing’s HQ unhurt, but covered with mud and dust and bits of haystack. The Royal Artillery sent them on down here and the Duke of Marlborough (who is doing King’s Messenger) happening to be with us, took them back in his car.

The minister, a fat middle-aged gentleman, was awfully pleased with himself, but was scared lest it should get into the papers, in which case the Germans would say that Norway had broken her neutrality! We calmed his fears, picked straw and mud out of his hair, and sent him off to GHQ with his two ADC’s and the Duke, after we had given them tea.

I then took a car and two chauffeurs up to see what I could do to their car, expecting to find it smashed to pieces. We waited till dusk and then walked out to it. The car was intact, but the chauffeur dead, and every piece of glass in the car was smashed to atoms - big, strong plate glass. It was a lovely brand-new Panhard limousine, and beyond the glass, a few bits off the paint and a small hole in the petrol tank, there was no great damage which, considering the number of ‘crump’ holes around it, was a marvel. Inside the car was a good mixture of glass and mud which we cleared out and, while the hole in the tank was being mended, I finished off the old boy’s luncheon basket - chicken there was, and great fat pears, also a huge supply of cigarettes and tobacco for the men in the trenches! There were also heaps of matches. Before he left, the ‘minister’ said that I might keep all this ‘pour les braves soldats’, so I did so, and sent the car on to GHQ under the second chauffeur, who shed tears.’

14 October 1914
‘As bad a thing happened this morning as ever could happen. Hammy is dead, and we lose a splendid soldier and I a very good friend. He and Thorpe were out to the north of Vieille Chapelle; he had gone to see personally why our left wing was hung up. They were dismounted and standing on the road when a salvo of shrapnel burst right over them. One bullet hit him in the forehead, and he died almost immediately. He never spoke or opened his eyes. There were several other officers there besides Thorpe, yet nobody else was hit.

We brought his body back here tonight in a motor ambulance. We had to wait till night, as the road was still being shelled. During the day I had a rough coffin made and a grave dug under the walls of the old church here. At 7.15 p.m., when the ambulance arrived, we put him into it just as he was, wrapped in a blanket. I had to take the spurs off his poor feet though, as they would not fit, and then we nailed on the lid. I then put a guard around him with fixed bayonets and left him.

At 8.30 we all assembled. There was a representative from each unit and Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien turned up also. Poor Lindsay, Hammy’s servant, kept breaking down. It was a pitch-dark night and had been raining hard all day, so there was mud everywhere and a cold wet ‘feel’ in the air. The rifle and machine-gun fire was very heavy, and it sounded but a few yards away, so loud was it and so still the night. Stray bullets now and then knocked up against the church and gravestones, but somehow nobody bothered about them.

Just before the chaplain arrived the firing almost ceased, but while the short service was being read it commenced again, louder and nearer than ever, so loud indeed that the chaplain’s voice could hardly be heard.

The scene was the strangest and most beautiful I have ever seen. The poor church battered by shells, the rough wooden coffin with a pewter plate nailed on the lid on which we had stamped his name, a rough cross of flowers made by the men, the small guard with fixed bayonets and the group of twenty or thirty bareheaded officers and men. Above all, the incessant noise, so close, sometimes dying down only to seem to redouble itself a few minutes later. A ghastly sort of light was given by a couple of acetylene lamps from a car. It was soon over, and then each officer and man stood for a moment by the grave, saluted, and went back to his work. 

Sir Horace, in that rather wonderful voice of his, said: ‘Indeed, a true soldier’s grave. God rest his soul.’ Nobody else spoke. I wanted to cry. I stayed and saw the filling in of the grave, and now I must see to putting up a cross.’