Sunday, August 20, 2023

A boisterous yeare

Ralph Josselin - an Essex vicar, teacher and farmer - died 340 years ago this month. Though not particularly familiar as a historical name, he is remembered as an important early diarist. Indeed, his diary, with its many details of rural life in the 17th century, inspired a major research project to document the history of the village where he lived, Earls Colne, all the documents for which have been made available online. The originator of this project, Alan Macfarlane, is also the modern editor of Josselin’s diary, and he suggests Josselin might in time be seen to stand beside other great English diarists.

Josselin was born in 1617 at Roxwell in Essex, the first son and third child of a farmer. His early education was at Bishop’s Stortford, and, by his own account, he wanted to be a clergyman from an early age. He studied at Jesus College, Cambridge, receiving his BA in 1636–1637. His father died around the same time, and Josselin spent the next few years supporting himself in teaching teacher and curate posts. In 1641 he became vicar of the parish of Earls Colne, Essex, where he stayed for the rest of his life, embracing many different roles, not least teacher and farmer. Josselin died in August 1683, and was buried at Earls Colne on 30 August. Further information is available from Wikipedia and English Historical Fiction Authors.

Most of what we know today about Josselin comes from his diary, first edited by E. Hockliffe and published in 1908 by the Camden Society for the Royal Historical Society. According to Hockliffe’s preface in that edition, less than half the original diary was included since many entries were of ‘no interest whatever - endless thanks to God for his goodness - ‘to mee and mine,’ prayers, notes about the weather or his sermons, innumerable references to his constant ‘rheums’  and ‘poses,’ trivial details of every day life, records of visits to his friends etc. etc.’ The aim was ‘to extract so much personal detail as is required to give a picture of the actual life of the author, and to include everything that possesses any historical interest.’ The author’s spelling was ‘carefully preserved’. In the earlier years, Josselin made entries frequently, often daily, but from about 1665 onwards there was usually only one entry a week.

Hockliffe concludes his preface: ‘A kindly if somewhat self-seeking figure [Josselin] lives again in the pages of this diary, and when his story ceases abruptiy on July 27, 1683, with a broken entry, we feel with real sorrow that we have parted from a friend.’

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log-in required), the Camden Society’s scholarly edition omitted almost three-quarters of the original; the Josselin that emerged from it was ‘very much the public man, whose comments on the great religious and political issues of his day were what most merited attention’. ‘He was a moderate parliamentarian,’ the ODNB continues, ‘active in electioneering and petitioning and worried by the emergence of more radical groups like the Levellers, and served for a brief spell as a chaplain in the parliamentarian army and assisted locally with the implementation of measures for the reform of the church and augmentation of livings; he suffered plundering by royalist troops for his active organization of the defence of the village in 1648 at the siege of Colchester. Although unhappy at the king’s execution, he retained his support for what he called the ‘honest party’ even after the Restoration. Josselin’s well-informed comments on political events both in England and on the continent (on which he made an annual end-of-year report in his diary) reflect the social depth to political knowledge in mid-seventeenth-century England.’

Renewed examination of the manuscript diary in the 1960s led to a much fuller edition in 1976: The diary of Ralph Josselin, 1616-1683 edited by Alan Macfarlane and published by Oxford University Press. The picture that emerges from this modern edition allows the reader, the ODNB says, ‘to see Josselin properly in context, to sympathize with much that seems familiar in his life, and to puzzle over much that is foreign and strange.’ In particular, it shows him falling in love and marrying a wife, various emotions towards his children, chronic concerns about his finances (though a generous bequest from a wealthy parishioner helped establish him as a farmer in the mid-1640s) and his health, and an interest in public affairs, the weather, etc.

Of Macfarlane’s edition, the ODNB concludes: ‘By the time of [Josselin’s] death he had secured a comfortable material existence. But even to the end, his diary, maintained until the month before his death, reveals a man trying to fulfil his parochial duties, continually concerned with his children’s lives, receptive to political news (particularly of the fate of godly dissenters), and still, amid entries increasingly caught up with documenting his failing health, continuing to note, ‘God good to me’.’

Macfarlane, himself, in his introduction appears a bit mixed up in his opinion of the diary. He waxes lyrical: ‘Among many other topics to which he turns our attention are the following: accidents, food, geographical mobility, gifts, gossip, imagery, insanity, the poor, pregnancy, servants, wages. Anyone interested in the seventeenth-century thought and society is likely to find information of interest. An ordinary subject index cannot do justice to such a rich and complex document.’ And he adds, rather meaninglessly, ‘The Diary is, above all, unique as a total document.’

‘With all its redundancy and repetition,’ Macfarlane comments, the diary can ‘still be read straight through with great enjoyment’. But then he points out that ‘idiosyncrasies of grammar and style may, at first, provide difficulties,’ and that to reap ‘rich rewards’ the reader will have to ‘persevere and enter Josselin’s world, so strange and yet familiar’. Moreover, Macfarlane says that Josselin ‘does not emerge as lovable, or even endearing - his conscientious and suffering figure simply stands before us, to wonder at, pity and for all its frailty, respect.’

Finally, Macfarlane concludes, ‘posterity will judge [Josselin’s] right to stand besides Pepys, Heywood, Woodford, Kilvert - the great English Diarists of all time.’ Though, personally, I don’t think much of Macfarlane’s list of ‘great English Diarists’, Pepys apart of course. Much of Macfarlane’s modern edition is available to read online at Googlebooks. It is also available in a slightly awkward format - one web page for each day - on an extensive website concerning the parish of Earls Colne.

The 1908 edition of Josselin’s diary by Hockliffe is fully and freely available at Internet Archive, and it is from this that the following extracts have been taken. (These are almost all the diary excerpts for 1657 to be found in the 1908 edition, and take up little more than a couple of pages. By contrast, the modern edition requires more than a dozen pages to include all Josselin’s actual entries for that same year.) Josselin’s forecast that 1657 is likely to be a boisterous year, in the first of the extracts below, appears to have been proved true by his round-up of world events in the last of the extracts.

25 March 1657
‘When I come to view my estate this yeare, I find my expenses far deeper then divers yeares formerly, and my receipts more then ever, God bee blessed. Last year my estate was about 670l. I find I have about 590l. and I have pd for land to Mr Butcher 150l. and to Mr Weale 85l. which is in whole 235l. so yt I have had a great increase this yeare of 145l. or yr abouts, with the life & health of my family, no trouble in my estate; the Lords love in Christ is my life and joy. I have received in to my hand Mrs Maries land on which I am out 108l. 9s. This yeare 1657 is like to bee a boisterous yeare in the world.’

28 March 1657
‘Talke now of a king, the Lord bee our king and lawgiver.’

17 April 1657
‘Divers men bustle to make Xt king; truly Cromwell will carry it from him at present, but surely yt is a time when Xt shall reigne more then inwardly.’

19 April 1657
‘Heard this weeke the men that are to make Christ King were plotting agst the Protector, and that he seized on divers of them.’

7 May 1657
‘Heard as if Blake desired landmen to attempt the Canaries.’

15 May 1657
‘At night M. Hubbard of London with mee to teach two boys at 3l. per annum if they come.’

23 May 1657
‘John Eldred a scholler yt brought mee in 40s. yearly went from mee; the Lord will provide.’

17 July 1657
‘Protector proclaimed at Halsted by ye Sheriffs.

30 August 1657
‘This day I publisht the act about the Sabbath, the Lord doe good by it.’ [An act to punish ale-house keepers for profaning the Sabbath by permitting swearing, drunkenness, gaming etc. in their houses.]

9 September 1657
‘After hopes of a dry Sturbridge faire it rained very much, so that the wayes were exceeding heavy and dirtie, Mr H. had some hopes to make 500l. of his hops; the last yeare he made 790l.’

30 September 1657
‘A publiq fast in regard of the general visitacon by sicknes, wch was a feavor & ague very mortal in some places.’

8 October 1657
‘Being up, & riving logs, Mr Elliston came & told mee Dr Wright was most certainly dead, I had no warning of his sicknes, I was troubled that such a providence found mee not better imployed, and disposed, but I blesse God though I am like to loose 60l. per annum, yet yt is not much trouble.’

3-4 November 1657
‘Mr Cressener acquainted mee that my Lord of Oxfords Chaplain was come to town and he thought about the schoole. Mr R. H. made some proffers in it, and I desired to observe God therein, but my owne inclinations rather tend to lay it wholly by, desirous God would open some helpe to mee in carrying on the worke of the ministry.’

9 November 1657
‘Dr Pullein sent mee an offer to procure mee the schoole, if I would helpe him to his living; I had no desire thereto.’

17 November 1657
‘Mrs Marg: Harlakenden having laid out 120l. at London, about wedding clothes, her father being exceeding angry, I appeased him, so that though he chid her by letter for her vanitie, yett he paid the scores.’

25 November 1657
‘Rd my copies of my two fift parts of ye farme on Colne Green from my Cosin Josselin; yt purchase cost mee about 310l; God blesse it to mee & mine.’

27 November 1657
‘Dr Pullein was with mee, shewed mee his grant from my Lord; he lost the living, for which I am sorry, and I the schoole; Gods will be done; I doe not find any trouble on my spirit in it; he desired mee to teach the schoole till spring for halfe the proffits; I consented; Lord I blesse thee for that kindnes and mercy.’

3 December 1657
‘Spent some time in prayer at Mr Cresseners, the Lord good to mee yr in; about yt time at London, Dr Pullein’s busines was put to that issue, that if ye Earl of Oxford would stand by his present- acon of Dr Pullein, he might come into his living; the Lords name bee praised for this kindnes, the issue is in thy hand, oh Father.’

5 December 1657
‘Riding over to the Earl of Oxfords to Bently hall, and speaking with Dr Pullein, a full issue was put to that treaty about the schoole; I not having it, in wch disposall of God I desire to bee satisfied, and sitt down contentedly, knowing that he will order and direct every thing for good to mee; I was very sicke at night and vomited, which I judged a mercy to mee.’

8 December 1657
‘Talke as if some uprore in ye kingdom, the militia horse suddenly called togither and the army foot called of again towards the sea.’

12 December 1657
‘Saw a booke esp: of Welsh prophecies, which asserts that Cromwell is the great Conqueror that shall conquer Turke and Pope. I have many yeares on scripture grounds and revolutions judged him or his govermt and successors, but esp. my heart fixt on him, to bee most great; but sad will bee things to Sts and him; this booke of prophecies giveth mee no satisfaction, but perhaps may sett men a gadding to greaten him.’

15 December 1657
‘Mrs Margaret Harlakenden married to Mr John Eldred; her father kept the wedding three dayes, with much bounty; it was an action mixed with pietie and mirth; die. 18, the company departed the priory. God gave an emint answer of prayer to him & mee in providing her so good an housband beyond expectation; Mr Bridegroom gave mee 1l. & Mr H. 1l. God in mercy requite their love and bounty.’

27 December 1657
‘If it bee worth writing this tels yt raisins of ye sun were sold at 12, 14, 16, 18d. per pound.’

8 January 1657/1658
‘Received an order to bee an Assistant in Ejecting of Ministers & Jan. 8. schoolemrs for insufficiency; had the offer of two schollers, which I undertake to teach; the Lord helpe mee in all my callings.’

25 January 1657/1658
‘This day was the last of my 41 yeare, in which God hath been with mee and blessed mee, and though Dr Wrights death cutt mee short in the schoole, yett I find my heart quiett, rowling it selfe on God, and no way questioning his providence to take care of mee. God hath given mee three children instead of 3 more which I had buried, and thus my dreame of 3 shoots in my parlor cutt down and growing up againe is made good.

Abroad in the world matters are likely to bee sad, yet I find not the apostacy to increase; this yeare the Emp. of Germany died, and no other yet chosen in his stead; his son the K. of Hungary assisted Poland, wherby the Swedes are driven into Prussia. The P. of Transilvania forced to retreate home, and was deposed for his attempt to please ye Turke. Brandenburg made peace with the Pole and left Swede. The Moscovite was in a manner quiet this summer, yet the Swede brusht him a little in Livonia. Denmarke invaded the Swede in Bremeland, to his losse in Juitland; the Hollander proclaimed warre agst Portugal & tooke pt of the Brasile fleete. The English assisted France agst Spaine & gott footing in Flanders, the Venetians beate ye Turke, but in the winter he regained some Iles as Tenedos; the Turke hath issue male. The Q. of Spain delivered of a sonne, ye King 53 yeares old and no son til now; the affaires in Italy & Catalonia not very boisterous. The Spaniards invaded Portugal by land & tooke some places; thus warre breaks out, but no eminent matter was done in the world; the English Protector setled by Parliamt and a house of Lords in title erected January 20th.’

This article is a slightly revised version of one first published on 20 August 2013.

Friday, August 11, 2023

An absurd thing to do

‘This evening I observed a procession of several hundred people carrying paper lanterns; and, when I asked the reason, I was told that it was in response to a rumor that the geisha houses which had burned the other day would be rebuilt. These people have been worshipping at the Shrine to the War Dead for the last two or three days to offer prayers that such an order not be issued. What an absurd thing to do!’ This is Kido Takayoshi, a Japanese statesman and samurai considered one of the three great nobles who led the so-called Meiji Restoration.  Born 190 years ago today, he kept detailed diaries during the last decade of his life. These were first published in their original Japanese in the 1930s, and, some 50 years later, in English.

Katsura Kogorō was born into an influential warrior family in Chōshū, Nagato province, Japan, on 11 August 1833. He was educated at Meirinkan, a Han school, though later he defied his father in order to be educated at Shōka Sonjuku, the academy of Yoshida Shōin, an intellectual who believed in the necessity of modernising Japan. There he adopted the philosophy of Imperial loyalism in line with a group of Chōshū leaders. He advanced quickly becoming one of Chōshū’s leading officials. Though ousted by the Tokugawa shogun in 1865, the radical Chōshū leaders seized back command. Now as head of the Chōshū, he began to negotiate with radical samurai from Satsuma. By the late 1860s, he had married Ikumatsu and had had her adopted into the samurai family of Okabe Tomitarō. He changed his name to Kido Takayoshi.

Kido, along with Ōkubo Toshimichi and Saigō Takamori of Satsuma, became known as one of the three giants of the Restoration. Together they headed the coup d’état that eventually toppled the shogun and restored the emperor to power. Kido became one of the most powerful men in the new administration. He was one of those responsible for transferring the imperial capital from Kyōto to Edo (renamed Tokyo) and for persuading the heads of the large han to renounce possession of their domains, which were returned to the emperor. He also helped devise a scheme to redivide the country into prefectures to be governed by officials appointed by the central administration.

In 1871, Kido accompanied other high government figures on a visit to Europe and America, returning just in time to block a plan to invade Korea. However, on failing to stop the administration mounting an expedition against Taiwan in 1874, he resigned. But when Japan’s forces were recalled, he returned to office and began to work for the establishment of a Western-style constitution. However, ill health - said to have been caused by mental disease and physical exhaustion - let him to take a less active role  in government; and, in 1877, he died. Further information is available from Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica

For the last 10 years of his life Kido kept a detailed diary. This was first edited by Tsumaki Chūta and published in three volumes in 1932-1933 by Nihon Shiseki Kyōkai. In the mid-1980s, the diaries were translated into English by Sidney Devere Brown and Akiko Hirota and published by the University of Tokyo Press. These volumes can all be freely read online at Internet Archive. According to the translator’s foreword: ‘The first volume deals with the centralization of political authority and the abolition of feudalism, 1868-1871. The second volume centers on Kido’s travel to the United States and Europe as the second-ranking member of the Iwakura mission and its aftermath, 1871-1874. The third volume describes Kido’s mounting concern over the plight of groups affected adversely by the government’s modernization policies, 1874-1877. He was the rare oligarch who exhibited social concern at the impoverishment of the former samurai and the peasantry.’

According to the same translator’s introduction, two major traditions shaped Kido’s diary:

‘One was Chinese. Inspired by Confucian teachings, which came to Japan as part of the Chinese enlightenment, Fujiwara statesmen of the eighth and ninth centuries kept political diaries to record and criticize their own performance in office. The second tradition was purely Japanese. Court ladies like Murasaki Shikibu and Sei Shōnagon who lived at the turn of the eleventh century utilized their literary diaries to set down their personal responses to beauty in nature and much else in an aesthetic vein. Lyrical poetry in the thirty-one-syllable tanka form often graced such art diaries.

Diaries of the nineteenth century, when Kido lived, united the older political and literary traditions. The practice of keeping a diary became widespread at that time, possibly because it fitted the requirements of the well-disciplined society of Tokugawa Japan. A samurai noted in his diary whether or not he had served his lord to the full on a given day. A person who wanted to account for his time set down in his diary what he had done with it. Diary-keeping itself required self-discipline. Filial piety was also served through a diary: one explored in his diary how well he had discharged his obligations to his parents. 

Kido in his diary, which represented a union of the Chinese political and the Japanese literary traditions, projected an image of the loyal official and the filial son, or the son who had belatedly sought to make up for the trouble he caused his parents when they lived. His diary, like those of the Fujiwara ministers a millennium earlier, had a substantial political content. He summarized political discussions in the councils of the Meiji government - what he had said in opposition to the Taiwan expedition of 1874, for example. Likewise, his diary, in the style of the Heian court ladies (or, in his mind, after the manner of Rai Sanyo, the loyalist historian), carried the texts of dozens of his own poems. Some reflected the Taoist ideal of a retreat to nature to escape the cares of office: “Seated on a light saddle, I meet the rain at dawn. . . . What care I for wealth or fame?” Others bespoke his pride in the success of the Meiji government.’

Here are several examples from volume one of the Kido diaries as translated into English.

10 May 1868
‘Today was the death anniversary of my family’s founding ancestor, so I worshipped his spirit. At 8 a.m. I went to Lord Iwakura’s inn, and there met Mitsuoka Hachirō. We inquired into Lord Iwakura’s intentions, then decided on procedures for carrying into effect the administrative reform after the Emperor’s return to Kyoto. We also discussed at length the Imperial ceremony to summon the spirit of Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the shrine in his honor.

At night I went to the Shinkyūrō, and had a few drinks with Ryūtō and Fujii Shichirōemon. There I met the geisha whom old Asada loved. Around 11 p.m. we moved over to the Sakaitatsurō.’

4 July 1868
‘This morning I had an appointment to review drill by the rifle units here; but it was postponed on account of rain. In the afternoon the Englishman Aston came, and we had a long talk. He was aboard an English warship during the Shimonoscki war in 1864, the Year of the Tiger; and he stayed in Shimonoscki throughout the affair. We are, therefore, old acquaintances. One time when our soldiers stationed in Shimonoscki were wounded in the fighting on the Kyushu front, they received medical treatment from an English doctor, all the arrangements made by Aston.

This evening I had an appointment with a man from Ōmura. A certain Ichinose of that domain called for me, and accompanied me to the Geiyōtei. Several men of his domain were already on hand. We had sakè and food served in high style, talked over the present state of things together, and all became intoxicated. After 7 we returned to my inn where we were attended by eight or nine geisha.’

18 July 1868
‘At dawn we reached Kobe, and I landed to pay a visit to Hobai, who outlined news of the Kyoto area for me. The tiling which I regret most is that Himtji and Matsuyama were pardoned for the high crime of treason against the Emperor on payment of an indemnity. This is one thing which will not help to build the foundations of Imperial rule. The reason that the bodies of thousands of soldiers lie bleaching across a thousand ri is that those men devoted themselves to fulfil the moral obligation which a subject bears toward the Emperor. Hundreds of thousands of yen will not buy back the life of a single man; yet the leaders of those domains were pardoned for the highest crime a subject can commit by the payment of a fine. I am at a loss for words. The Imperial benevolence may be used, of course, to commute the most severe form of death penalty, or to keep the family alive for the sake of the ancestors. But now that things have come to such a pass, what will Aizu and Shōnai do? The failure of the Imperial house to enhance its authority derives directly from such acts of leniency. The unbroken line of the Imperial family is coeval with Heaven and Earth; respect for the Imperial household of our Divine Land is without parallel in the world. Yet such a grave crime as treason is punished with a mere fine, after the manner of Western law. How I deplore this incredible decision! Under the circumstances I am in no hurry to enter Kyoto.’

18 August 1868
‘We hoisted anchor after 6. Between 9 and 11 we sailed offUraga to Miyata. It was in this area that more than ten years ago the Chōshū guard encampment was established. I was stationed here for more than a year; and my campmates included Kuribara Seikō and other friends, half of whom are new deceased. In these times I never cease to think back on days gone by, and my tears flow without end. At twilight we reached the port of Shimoda.’

26 September 1868
‘Cloudy. I was at home all day, ill in bed. In the afternoon Shunkō came to talk; and we discussed times past as we have done for several days, especially matters relating to the suspicions about me at home. Since the beginning of the year we have encountered problems over both domestic and foreign affairs; and we have been unable to achieve our purposes. But when I think of the inconstancy of my friends, I am deeply grieved. I sometimes console myself a bit by the thought that bearing this misfortune is part of the hard lot of being a man. Hearing Shunkō’s inmost thoughts dispelled my doubts a bit. Indeed, privately I was delighted for the sake of the country.

A confidential message arrived from Deputy Chancellor Iwakura in regard to the disclosure of the conspiracy of Prince Innomiya. We have been investigating this carefully in recent days; and, discovering the Prince’s secret messenger was being sent to the East, we arranged to arrest him en route. I suppose that the mission has been accomplished.

Unsen arrived in Kyoto today. Baiei and Shōhin came at night; and Seiho, Unsen, and I did a joint project of calligraphy and inkpainting.’

2 August 1870
‘Fair. Today I had an appointment for a meeting at Ōkuma’s villa at Mukō-Ryōgoku; and, as Gotō was scheduled for the same meeting, we took a boat there together after 11. Ōki and Yamaguchi were already on hand; and Tanaka Kuninosuke, Nomura Motosuke, and Tanaka Rcntarō arrived later. We left at lamplighting time, Nomura and I going to the Ikkoku Bridge, and then home by bamboo palanquin from the Okamuraya. The time by then was 9 o’clock.

This evening I observed a procession of several hundred people carrying paper lanterns; and, when I asked the reason, I was told that it was in response to a rumor that the geisha houses which had burned the other day would be rebuilt. These people have been worshipping at the Shrine to the War Dead for the last two or three days to offer prayers that such an order not be issued. What an absurd thing to do!’

Monday, August 7, 2023

A life spent hunting

Today marks the 170th anniversary of the death of Colonel Peter Hawker. A military man by profession, his main love was hunting, and, somewhat remarkably, he left behind a diary in which he recorded - from his teens to his old age - daily kills totalling nearly 18,000 birds. In his own lifetime, he published - anonymously - diary extracts about his military service in Portugal, under Wellington, during the Peninsular War.

Hawker was born in London in 1786, and was educated at Eton. Like his father and other forefathers, he entered military service, through the purchase of a commission in the 1st (Royal) Dragoons, switching after a couple of years to the 14th Light Dragoons, making captain when still only 17. He saw active service in the Peninsular War, but was obliged to retire after being wounded at Talavera, southwest of Madrid, and became a lieutenant-colonel in the North Hampshire militia.

Hawker was married twice, the first time in 1811 to Julia Barttelot by whom he had two sons and two daughters (although the elder son died in infancy). He was married for the second time in 1844 to Helen Susan the widow of Captain John Symonds. His family home was at Longparish, Hampshire, but he also had a cottage at Keyhaven on the Hampshire coast. He was a very keen sportsman, to say the least, and wrote the very popular, and much re-published, Instructions to Young Sportsmen. He also devised technical innovations for certain sporting guns, and, thanks to a great passion for music, invented hand moulds for the piano. He died on 7 August 1853. Further information can be found at Wikipedia and the New Forest Explorer website.

For most of his life, and starting young, Hawker kept a diary. From this, he selected extracts and published them anonymously in 1810 as Journal of a Regimental Officer during the Recent Campaign in Portugal and Spain under Lord Viscount Wellington (i.e. during the Peninsular War). This book is introduced by two short paragraphs called an ‘Advertisement’ which state: ‘The contents of the following pages (never intended for the public eye) were hastily noted down amidst the scenes attempted to be delineated; and the author’s sufferings from a wound have precluded him the possibility of afterwards correcting them. This candid statement will, it is hoped, plead for inaccuracies and frivolous incidents; and those persons who are most able to criticise will no doubt have the liberality to consider the disadvantages under which this narrative makes its appearance.’

After Hawker’s death, his family is said to have destroyed large parts of the diary, nevertheless extracts, particularly focusing on his sporting activities, were published, some forty years later, in two volumes: The Diary of Colonel Peter Hawker (Longmans, Green and Co., 1893). These (volumes one and two), and Journal of a Regimental Officer, are available online at Internet Archive.

The second volume of the diaries published in 1893 concludes with a list of the game Hawker recorded as having shot: from 1802-1853, he claimed 17,753 kills in all; over 7,000 partridges, 575 pheasants, 1329 ox-birds, 2,211 wigeon, 1,327 Brent geese, 2,116 snipes, as well as many other birds. Four types are distinguished by his having shot only one each in his life: stock-dove, Eider duck, avocet, hoopoe.

Here are a number of extracts, the first few (1802-1804) from the beginning of volume one; several in 1829 from the end of volume one; and several more from the end of volume two. They show an extraordinary preoccupation with hunting - from his teens to his deathbed.

27 June 1802
‘Arrived at Longparish House.’

September 1802
‘Altogether killed 200 head of game this month.

Instances of uncertainty in killing jack snipes: The first thirteen shots I had at these birds this year I killed without missing one; have since fired eight shots at one jack and missed them all.’

26 January 1803
‘Sketch of a bad day’s sport: Being in want of a couple of wild fowl, I went out with my man this morning about ten o’clock. The moment we arrived at the river 5 ducks and 1 wigeon flew up; we marked the former down, and just as we arrived near the place it began to snow very hard, which obliged us to secure our gunlocks with the skirts of our coats. No sooner had we done this than a mallard rose within three yards of me. I uncovered my gun and made all possible haste, and contrived to shoot before it had gone twenty yards, but missed it, which I imputed to the sight of my gun being hid by the snow. My man fired and brought it down, but we never could find it; and another mallard coming by me, I fired and struck him, insomuch that before he had flown a gunshot, he dropped apparently dead, but we were again equally unfortunate notwithstanding our dogs were with us. While we were loading, the 3 remaining ducks came by, a fair shot. Having reloaded, we went in search of them, but could not succeed. On our road home, coming through the meadow, the wigeon rose in the same place as before. I shot at it, and wounded it very much; we marked it down and sprung it again; it could hardly fly, from its wounds. Unluckily, my gun missed fire, and my man was unprepared, thinking it had fallen dead. We marked it into a hedge; before we had reached the place we spied a hawk that had followed it; from the same place the hawk was, the wigeon flew out of the hedge close under my feet. I fired at it, but, owing to agitation, had not taken a proper aim; however, a chance shot brought it to the ground; my dogs ran at it; it flew up again, but could not rise to any height, but continued to clear the hedges, and we never could find it again. To add to our misfortunes, we both tumbled into deep water.’

4 June 1803
‘Left Longparish House to join the 14th Light Dragoons on the march at Hythe.’

1 September 1803.
‘Folkestone. 4 partridges and 1 landrail. I went with Major Talbot and his brother: we were out from half-past four in the morning till eight at night, and walked above five hours before we saw the first brace of birds. Major Talbot killed a brace, and his brother 1 bird; a brace of birds and 1 rabbit were shot between us by means of firing at the same instant.’

18 February 1804
‘Left Folkestone to be quartered at Dover, till further orders.’

6 March 1804
‘Left Dover for Romney.’

3 May 1804
‘Romney. Went out in the evening, saw several very large shoals of curlews, but could not get near them; just as it grew dusk I laid myself down flat on the sands: every flock assembled into one prodigious large flight, and pitched within ten yards of me. I put them up with the expectation of killing not less than twenty, and my gun missed fire.’

14 June 1804
‘Romney. Shot an avoset (swimming). This is a bird rarely to be met with but on the Kentish coast. The above is its name in natural history; it is here known by the name of cobbler’s awl, owing to the form of the beak, which turns up at the end like the awl.’

1 September 1804
‘Romney. In a bad country we had never been in before Major Pigot and I bagged nine brace and a half of birds, exclusive of several we lost. We sprung one covey too small to fire at; Major Pigot picked out the old hen and I the cock, and bagged them both. There were sportsmen in almost every field. In the course of the day, my old dog Dick caught 8 hedgehogs.’

23 November 1804
‘Marched from Romney to be quartered at Guildford.’

2 December 1804
‘Left Guildford to stay a week at home at Longparish House.’

21 April 1829
‘After having been more or less unwell ever since I came to town, and several days confined to my bed and the sofa, I this day completed several repairs and improvements to the locks and breechings of my large gun, and got all safe away from the hornet’s nest which Joe Manton’s manufactory was in while he was in gaol, and this billet beset by ‘Philistines.’ His men worked under and for me, and had to keep an incessant eye lest anything should happen on the premises. No other workmen in London could have done such a job well to my fancy.’

28 April 1829
‘Longparish. I caught 24 brace of trout in a few hours, though the cold weather still continued.’

8 June 1829
‘London. The best Philharmonic ever known, and a duet between Sontag and Malibran considered the best piece of singing ever heard in this country.’

7 July 1829
‘Longparish. Took two hours’ fishing this evening, and killed 25 large trout.’

9 July 1829
‘Made a droll trial of a new-stocked duck gun, which was well done by my carpenter Keil. I knocked down, in seven shots, 6 bats and 1 moth. A duck at dusk flight may therefore know what to expect.’

10 July 1829
‘Fished and killed 20 very large trout indeed, and I then left off, not wanting any more fish to-day.’

20 April 1853
‘I may venture to say that I am getting on (though of course very, very slowly) towards the chance of recovery, for which prospect I have to thank Sir B. Brodie and an All-wise Providence.

Another remarkable circumstance - and a lucky one for me, who could eat nothing more nourishing than fish - the trout in our river, which were not even eatable when broiled till near July, have come in many months before their time, and ate better than I have known them to be for these last twenty years. One of my fishery tenants, Mr. Macleod, in the first week of March, had killed, in a severe winter’s day, 15 brace with a fly, and he kindly sent me a few as red and as good as salmon. This phenomenon is accounted for by the continued rains flooding all the low lands, and washing down constant winter food for the fish, which, notwithstanding the severe winter that afterwards cut up everything in March and April, never lost their high condition.’

23 April 1853
‘1 have been taken out for the last few days, for short drives in the carriage; but I am now a figure of skin and bone.’

24 April 1853
‘Another circumstance to record - Captain Duff and his friend came to my river to fish, and, in spite of the adverse weather, had a few days’ good sport; and, that is a miracle, every trout was better in season (though in April) than, for these twenty years, I have seen them - even than in June and July, the only time they have hitherto been fit to eat. They were quite red, firm, and full of curd - in short, delicious. Thus my lamentable illness has ‘cut me out of’ the best angling season on record, as well as the use of my new ignition punt gun at Keyhaven, in the finest hard weather we have had there since 1838.’

4 May 1853
‘Winter again; bitter cold gale of wind east by north. As I made but slow progress in the low and water-meadow situation of Longparish, I had made up my mind to forego all the comforts of the mansion for the more healthy air of my dear little cottage on the coast, and therefore I left Longparish for Keyhaven this day, after having passed twenty-five days and nights at the former place, without strength or appetite. We arrived at Keyhaven Cottage about six in the evening, after my very long absence from the 26th of October, 1852, up to this 4th of May, 1853. My good people were all delighted to see me, which they had made up their minds they should never do any more.’

5 May 1853
‘Keyhaven. Stephen Shuttler has done me justice in every possible way in my long absence, and kept everything in the very best order, in spite of awful floods; and then a north-pole winter in spring. N.B. Found the air here far pleasanter than at the other places. Thanks to God for all blessings up to this Holy Thursday — or Ascension Day — for 1853.’

7 May 1853
‘A total change of weather to south by west, and a pouring fall of rain all day; in the afternoon the cock flew round again to the north-east with the most furious increase of cold rain, and a heavy fall of snow - lamentable weather for my poor eyes and limbs. Instead of having a fair chance to breathe the good air here, I’ve been, ever since I entered the cottage, a close prisoner; could not even step into the garden.’

12 May 1853
‘Anniversary of my Douro affair, forty-four years ago. Cold and piercing north-easter, which is comparative luxury to the deadly poison of a white frost, insomuch that I suffered far less to-day, and my eyes got better.’

13-14 May 1853
‘Bitter white frosts again. But two hours’ fine weather on the 14th, when I got the sea air for the first time by being rowed down to Hurst and back. I came home refreshed, but much exhausted; and, on landing, who should be here but old Buckle, just arrived from Scotland. I was, however, not man enough to enjoy his ‘yarn’ as of old.’

18 May 1853
‘A beautiful day. Crossed to Yarmouth, and got driven to Freshwater for the fine sea air, but too weak to walk along the cliffs. Lots of ‘gents’ popping at rock birds and rifling the cormorants, and rookeries being stormed inland. All to tantalise me, like the gents having good sport angling the other day in view of my windows at Longparish, and I too ill to go out.’

26 May 1853
‘I sailed to Yarmouth, and got Butler’s excellent phaeton to the high lighthouse, and returned by Groves’s Hotel; but was so weak I could not enjoy my old paradise, Alum Bay, as before. The lighthouse is now kept by a Mr. Henderson, vice Coleraine, and the dangerous occupation of taking the eggs of rock birds is performed by a man named Lane, of the village below, called Weston, whose brother was lately killed in this awful pursuit.’

29 May 1853
‘Sunday. Being too weak to walk, I went in a donkey chaise to morning church at Milford (where, as well as at Longparish, Mrs. Hawker had me prayed for when expected not to recover), to return thanks to God for my escape from death in my long and dangerous illness, through which I had not been in church since the early part of last January, and never expected to be in church again, except on my way to the grave.’

July 1853
‘Longparish. From the 1st I have been so dreadfully ill that I could do nothing. My nights have been as awful as before.’

7 July 1853
‘The thunder and lightning all night caused such oppressive heat that no one could rest in bed. My sufferings could scarcely be conceived.’

8-14 July 1853
‘Too ill to get about save by quiet easy drives in the carriage, and to crawl out to look at all the grand repairs outside the house, which are now done. Attended by Dr. Hempsted twice a day, as my sufferings are alarming. We have had incessant wet weather ever since I returned to Longparish, and consequently the heavy water-meadow fogs oppressed me even more than those of London, from which I had retreated on the score of health. To-day, the 14th, Dr. Hempsted went from me to his other patient, the Earl of Portsmouth, for whom he had no hope, and who died this day at one o’clock. Peace to his soul!’

This article is a slightly revised version of one first published on 7 August 2013.