Friday, April 13, 2018

They are real diaries

‘Sometimes lacking in charity; often trivial; occasionally lewd; cloyingly sentimental, repetitious, whingeing and imperfectly formed. For some readers the entries may seem to be all of these things. But they are real diaries.’ This is from an introduction by the maverick politician and historian Alan Clark to his own diaries. Born 90 years ago today, he became well known for his love of cars and women, for his right-wing politics, for his friendship with Margaret Thatcher, and for the outrageous part he played in the Matrix-Churchill affair. But, it’s for his diaries that he’s best remembered. They certainly are real diaries, colourful, entertaining, spicy, unguarded, and full of extraordinary arrogance - providing an unrivalled insight into the man himself.

Clark was born in London on 13 April 1928, the eldest son of the art historian Kenneth Clark (from whom he would later inherit Saltwood Castle in Kent). After a series of preparatory schools, he was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied history, partly under Hugh Trevor-Roper, but only just passed his degree, with a third-class honours. He was called to the bar in 1955, but did not practice law. He preferred to research military history with a view to publishing books, while living the life of a rich young man, particularly interested in cars. For a couple of years he belonged to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. In 1958 he married Jane Beuttler, aged 16 at the time. They had two sons; and despite his chronic womanising she remained with him throughout his life.

Although Clark published two novels, it was his first book on history - The Donkeys - that brought him public success. Other histories followed, though in time his ultra right-wing politics showed in his writing, through, for example, his appreciation of Nazi Germany’s efficiency. After failing to win several nominations as a Conservative candidate, he succeeded in 1972, and became the Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton in 1974. He was considered something of a maverick in Parliament, openly plotting against the prime minister, Edward Heath, yet an amusing and witty dining companion. To the surprise of others in the Conservative Party, he was given a junior ministerial position by Margaret Thatcher (who 
seemed to take an indulgent view of his many indiscretions - see also Thatcher gives a cuddle). He went on to serve in various other posts during her governments, ultimately rising to minister of state in the Ministry of Defence. He was heavily implicated in a political/legal controversy concerning the fraudulent sales of arms to Iraq by the engineering firm, Matrix-Churchill.

Following Thatcher’s fall, Clark left politics in 1992. A year later, he published the first volume of his now-famous and infamously indiscrete diaries. In 1997, encouraged by the success of his diaries, he returned to parliament as MP for Kensington and Chelsea, but was soon ill, dying from a brain tumour in 1999. Further information can be found at Wikipedia, and various obituaries online: The Guardian, The Independent, but see also Dominic Lawson’s character assassination in The Independent (‘He was sleazy, vindictive, greedy, callous and cruel’). Some pages of Ion Trewin’s official biography - Alan Clark - can be read online at Amazon or Googlebooks.

From his mid-30s and throughout his life, Clark kept a regular and private diary. A first collection of extracts were published 
simply as Diaries by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 1993. Many reprints followed until the edition was reissued in 2001 as Diaries: In Power 1983-1992. This first volume has been recognised as providing the most detailed and colourful account of the downfall of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But, equally, according to the publisher, it is famed for Clark’s ‘witty and acerbic pen’ and for being ‘the most outspoken and revealing account of British political life ever written’. Two further volumes were published posthumously, also by Weidenfeld & Nicolson - Diaries: Into Politics (2000), and The Last Diaries: In and Out of the Wilderness (2002). Although Clark himself had begun work on the former, his wife Jane took the decision to publish the latter, as edited by Trewin, and it also contains several pages of Jane’s diary from the last week’s of Clark’s life. All three volumes, in more recent editions, can be previewed at Googlebooks (1972-1982, 1983-1992, 1993-1999)

Clark’s own preface to the first volume of diaries is worth quoting:

‘Diaries are so intensely personal - to publish them is a baring, if not a flaunting, of the ego. And for the author also to write a preface could be thought excessive.

Let me explain. These are not ‘Memoirs’. They are not written to throw light on events in the past, or retrospectively to justify the actions of the author. They are exactly as they were recorded on the day; sometimes even the hour, or the minute, of a particular episode or sensation.

I wrote, in longhand, in a variety of locations; principally at Saltwood, or in my room at the House of Commons, or at my desk in the Department(s). Also in trains, embassies, hotels abroad, at the Cabinet table in Number 10 and at international conferences. When I had completed an entry I closed the notebook and seldom turned to that page again.

During the whole of this period, nearly eight years, I was a Minister in three successive Tory administrations. Politics - Party, Governmental and Constituency - dominated my life and energies. But on re-reading the entries I am struck by how small a proportion - less than half - is actually devoted to the various themes that dominated political life over the period. [. . .]

Expurgation, from considerations of taste or cruelty, I have tried to keep to a minimum. My friends know me, and know that I love them, and that my private explosions of irritation or bad temper are of no import. And as for taste, it, too, is subjective. There are passages that will offend some, just as there are excerpts that I myself found embarrassing to read when I returned to them. Much of course has been excised. But of what remains nothing has been altered since the day it was written. Is this conceit - or laziness? A bit of both, I suppose. But I found that when I attempted to alter, or moderate, or explain, the structure and rhythm of the whole entry would be disturbed.

There remain certain passages that vex me considerably. Mainly they refer to friends and colleagues with whom I have worked - or who have worked for me with loyalty and dedication: for example, Dave, my competent driver for many years; Rose, my sweet diary secretary at DTI who coped with ‘harassment’ with dignity and decorum; Bruce Anderson, one of my closest confidants; Tom King, Secretary of State above me in two departments, whom I still regard with affection in spite of the way in which we treated each other in the heat of our political careers. And there are many others to whom references coloured by the irritation of the moment are ill-suited.

There are also passages that, to some readers, will be unintelligible. Family joke-words, Eton slang, arcane references to events in the past, crude expletives, all these are present but I have done my best to illuminate the unfamiliar in a glossary that covers events, locations, individuals and so forth.

Sometimes lacking in charity; often trivial; occasionally lewd; cloyingly sentimental, repetitious, whingeing and imperfectly formed. For some readers the entries may seem to be all of these things.

But they are real diaries.’

Here are several extracts from 
Diaries and The Last Diaries.

23 December 1983
‘Evening of the first day of the Christmas hols.

I don’t seem to have done anything except get rid of a lot of cash filling all the cars with petrol. And cash is so scarce over Christmas. Again and again one goes down to the bank to draw, always the last cheque until the New Year.

At tea time I wanted pliers. I could not find pliers. Nowhere in this whole fucking place, with its seventeen outhouses, garages, sheds, eighteen vehicles. After stealing tool kits from every car I’ve sold on over the last twenty-five years - could I find pliers?

I was screaming frail. I ransacked the china room, where I kept my most precious things. My new red vintage tool locker was empty, except for a lot of useless stuff for an Austin Heavy Twenty. Why? I am surrounded by unreliables.

I’ve done practically no shopping. How could I? When? Yet tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

As for the Dept, I never want to go through its doors again. Total shit-heap, bored blue. Strained and befuddled by all the paper work. Fuck them.

Fortunately, I’m dining with Ian on Wednesday next. I hope he gives me a boost.’

10 April 1984
‘I was in vile mood this morning, even on arrival. I had done a lot of washing-up, drying, wiping, etc., at Albany, and I always find this enervating. I do it so badly and so slowly. For someone as great and gifted as me it is the most uneconomic possible use of time.

Then, triumphantly ‘marked up’, a page of Mediascan was pushed under my nose. Impending sackings (!!). Named were Arthur Cockfield, David Mitchell, Bob Dunn, John Butcher and myself. Flushed and shocked I became.

Either way it’s a bore
(a) that anyone should believe that I am a candidate
(b) it becomes self-feeding (journalists draw from each other)
(c) a plant from Ingham and Downing St

As long ago as 6 February I wrote in my Day Diary, on the space for 23 April (when we come back from the Easter break) ‘Am I free today?’ But now that I am actually faced with the prospect of being dropped as - allegedly - no good, I don’t like it. All the gabblers are of course immune. As always, AS ALWAYS, Heseltine and that podgy life-insurance-risk Kenneth Clarke are approvingly tipped. Apparently (this is what makes me think there is a bit of Ingham in it) the changes will not take place at Easter, but during the Whitsun break. Or (much worse) in September, after a summer of travail and misery.

I am going on Question Time in a couple of days. Might gallop.’

4 November 1990
‘The papers are all very bad. Tory Party falling apart, the death blow, that kind of thing. Something in it, I fear, unless we can get a grip on events. The only person who can restore order in the parliamentary ranks is Tristan. He can do it short-term (like many intelligent people T. can only see things very long or very short) but that’s enough. Get us past November.

After breakfast I telephoned Chequers.
‘The Prime Minister is speechwriting.’
‘Who with?’
‘Charles Powell.’
‘When will she be free?’
‘There might be a minute before lunch.’
‘When’s that?’
‘One o’clock sharp.’
I was being kept at bay. Unusual. The Number 10 switchboard girls are always helpful. With Chequers I’ve had this problem before.
‘Oh well, please pass her my name, in case she wants to take a call then.’

It was a lovely crisp day of late autumn. I had said I’d join Jane in the garden. Now I was going to be stuck indoors waitng for a call. But I had barely got to the doorway to give her a shout when the phone started ringing.
‘Alan . . .’
I tried to cheer her up: ‘There’s an awful lot of wind about’. ‘Hold tight and it’ll all blow away’. ‘Geoffrey was past it by now, anyway.’
I said, with suitable preface, that I would never seek to tell her who she should employ or why; but that if she could find something for ’Tim’ to do . . .
‘Tim who?’ (thinking, I suppose, that I wanted her to bring someone called Tim into the Cabinet. Blast, blast. Too oblique Never works with her.)
‘Renton. You really ought to make Tristan your Chief Whip.’
A very long silence. I almost said ‘hullo’, but didn’t.
‘Oh but he’s enjoying his present job so much . . .’

I don’t think she realises what a jam she’s in. It’s the Bunker syndrome. Everyone round you is clicking their heels. The saluting sentries have highly polished boots and beautifully creased uniforms But out there at the Front it’s all disintegrating. The soldiers are starving in tatters and makeshift bandages. Whole units are mutinous and in flight.’

10 March 1991
‘God, is it already 10th March? A quarter of the year gone by, and I have done nothing, not answered a single letter, paid a bill - still less ‘played’ with cars or other hobbies. I must break out of the cycle, but I can only really effectively do so by giving ‘notice’ in the next three weeks. The sheer administrative complication that this entails compounds it. This morning, woken up from a deep muck-sweat slumber by Jane at 2.30 a m. I lay awake for about 1 1/2 hours, thought among other things - I really would just as soon pack it in now, just not go back to London at all. She rightly pointed out I must see through Options, the tank etc - leave my mark. Then again, I suppose, the Cabinet changes at Easter - if there is to be no General Election - but even Secretary of State would almost have to ask - because of how it might have been.

Finances are now in a total mess - Coats at 160+. Vast new outgoings of Mains in prospect, lead roof, moat leaking. I fear it will have to be the Degas because we will save the CGT by doing it through Andrew. Might yet scrape by as stock markets are recovering. But how do I see my future? Get the diary into shape as soon as you can, then really become a recluse, naturalist, pinpoint feats. Loch Shiel to Loch Eriboll. A kind of upmarket Albert (if he was called Albert) Wainwright. With a hint, perhaps, of Poucher (and a touch of class, as Jane said, with Robin Fedden).

But right at the moment, I am in really bad shape - shaking, inability to concentrate. The knowledge of this makes me medically apprehensive.’
 
7 October 1992
‘On the way over here I parked the car, got out in the moonlight, and walked along the Downs to a 5-bar gate. I spoke to God. I apologised for having avoided Him for so long. The muddle of guilt and lust over ‘x’ had blighted our contact for over a year. Now I had to make penance - first for hurting sweet Jane over ‘x’, and for still harbouring sinful, muddled thoughts there; second for having discarded the special advantages He had given me, to get me into Plymouth Sutton so late and so old, without consulting Him or taking his permission. Now the moment had come, at last, when I could do something. But how could He give me another chance? If He did, of course, our relationship would be impregnable. But could He? Everything is possible of course. But nothing works out so easily.’

The Diary Junction

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Seven Little Australians

‘Night started a new story that I shall call Seven Little Australians. I don’t think I’ll let it go in the Illustrated, if I can do without it there, I’ll see if I can get it published in book form.’ This is from a diary kept by Ethel Turner, a much-loved Australian writer of children’s books who died 60 years ago today. She did, in fact, publish the Seven Little Australians in book form, and it went on to become so popular it has never been out of print, and to become a classic of Australian literature.

Ethel Mary Burwell was born in Doncaster, northern England, in 1873. Her father, a commercial traveller, died when she was two and her sister Lillian eight, but her mother, Sarah, soon married Henry Turner, a widow with six children. They had one child, Rose, before Henry died. In 1879, Sarah emigrated to Australia with her own three children, and married for a third time, and gave birth to a son Rex. Ethel, who took her first step-father’s name, Turner, went to the newly-opened Sydney High School, being one of its first pupils. While still in her late teens, she launched, with Lillian, a journal for young people called Parthenon; and she wrote children’s columns for various periodicals. Parthenon lasted for several years, earning the Turners some income, until the printers were sued for libel.

In 1891, the family moved to a large house, Inglewood, in the countryside north of Sydney (though it now stands in an affluent suburb). By this time, Turner had become a highly popular author, penning, for example, Seven Little Australians (1894) which was made into a film and a TV drama, and which is now considered a classic of children’s literature. Indeed, Wikipedia notes that in 1994 it was the only book by an Australian author to have been continuously in print for 100 years. In 1896, Ethel married a lawyer, Herbert Curlewis. They built their own house, Avenal, at nearby Middle Harbour, and had two children.

During the First World War, Ethel organised ambulance and first aid courses, campaigned for conscription and worked for various patriotic causes. She wrote more than 40 books, mostly novels, and received various literary awards. She gave time and money to charities, was a generous friend to less affluent writers, and remains, today, a much loved national author. She died on 8 April 1958. Further information is available from Wikipedia and the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Her son, Adrian Curlewis became a barrister, served as a captain in the WW2, and was later a judge, being knighted in the 1960s.

Turner kept a diary for most of her life, certainly from 1889 to 1952 (if there were earlier diaries, they’ve been lost). These were first compiled by Philippa Poole (Turner’s granddaughter) and published by Ure Smith in Sydney in 1979 as The Diaries of Ethel Turner. In a foreword, Adrian Curlewis explains his decision to allow publication of his mother’s diaries.

‘The decision to publish my mother’s diaries was made after great deliberation and discussion with my family, as they were not written with any idea that they might some day be open to general viewing. During the last twenty years since my mother’s death I have received hundreds of letters asking me for information about her early life - some came from aspiring authors and biographers, some from university students, and others interested in her life’s work. In answering these requests I found myself searching through papers, articles, verses, voluminous correspondence and repeatedly turning to her diaries for the information that they needed.

All these things finally decided me. I felt that words from my mother’s own hand, written at the time when she was young, could best describe life prior to and at the turn of the century. My daughter, by infinitely patient and time-consuming research extending over a long period has by explanatory notes to the diaries, answered nearly all the questions that were asked. She has rediscovered many photographs, articles and manuscripts that for years have remained hidden and forgotten. These give an illuminating insight into the character of Ethel Turner. Our family hope that this book may, in some small way, add to our Australian history.’

Poole, in her introduction says: ‘Reading [the diary] we accompany her through many stages - her entry into the Sydney literary and social scene, a long and turbulent engagement period, her marriage and domesticity, motherhood, an overseas trip, war years and through to the loss of her beloved daughter Jean in 1930. With this tragedy her heart was broken. The thread that binds this story together is her true love of writing and the great gift that she had of expressing her thoughts.’

A second edition of the diary was brought out by Collins in 1987 (from which the following extracts have been taken), and there have been several more editions since - pages of a 2011 ebook can be sampled at Googlebooks.

3 April 1889
‘Practised 1 hour, sang 20 minutes. Cleared out boxes and drawers, cartloads of rubbish and old letters, etc. Addressed Parthenon wrappers and then in afternoon went to town - Lil bought a new dress, I am penniless. At night tried to write a poem and failed, so instead read and idled.’

6 April 1889
‘Went to Newington Sports, took cab to the grounds. The Sports were very poor. I walked with Mr Curlew a little and after with Mr Curnow. We left Annie, then Lil and I hurried off and caught the 5 o’clock train to Picton to stay with the Daintreys.’

25 July 1889
‘Made the drawing room pretty, wrote Aunt Elgitha; corrected proofs, etc. In afternoon Nina Church came up to see us - she is growing really lovely but she is frightfully conceited and drawls dreadfully. Went to dancing lessons, had 2nd and 3rd figures of the Minuet and the Quadrille, Polka and Lancers. Did Parthenon work till 12 o’clock. Kate left, I am so sorry. I never liked a servant so well.’

9 August 1889
‘This morning I made myself a black lace hat. Idled in afternoon. At night went to Articled Clerks dance and wore my white liberty again, this time with crimson flowers and snowdrops. M. Backhouse asked me for a dance and then did not account for it. I shall never notice him again. He was a bit intoxicated last night I think, it is a pity, he might be such a very nice boy. I’m awfully sorry for him.’

14 August 1889
‘We all went to Bondi for a picnic. It was a lovely day bin Lil and I had so much writing to do we really ought not to have gone. A second letter came from Mr McKinney requesting us to apologise and pay costs one guinea. Of course we refused to do either so I suppose they will lake proceedings.’

27 September 1889
‘Went with solicitor to the Supreme Court, it was all so strange; we had the paper registered. Then Lil and I went to see Mr William Cope and he said the same as he always does. I don’t like him much
now. Then Lil, Mother and I went shopping to David Jones. Bought Rex two suits, etc. a lovely little drawing-room chair, new door mats, stair cloth, liberty silk, etc. etc. At night I corrected proofs and did Parthenon work. Lottie our new servant came, she is a bright English girl.’

4 October 1889
‘Lil and I did some shopping at Farmers, I bought a brown parasol for myself and a red one for Rosie. Then we went to lavender Bay and I had a bathe and Lil watched me but did not get in. I read this afternoon and sent the rest of the Parthenons. Played a practical joke on Mr Cope by sending him a letter containing a formal proposal for ‘my own hand’.’

29 October 1889
‘Got a letter from Press Association asking me to call. I went and the editor Mr Astley was very nice - he said he liked my style of writing and offered me the position of fashion writer and warehouse noter (about £60 a year). I refused for I should not like to go to the places taking notes. He told me to write him a specimen leader - Women’s College Bill.’

4 December 1889
‘Lil and I went to Bronte for a bathe. I think I shall take some lessons, I can't swim well and can’t dive properly. In afternoon did some cooking. Mother went to a meeting to Naval Home Bazaar and had a long talk with Indy Scott, who she says is very nice and unaffected.’

18 December 1889
‘Went to Cope and King and saw our barrister Mr G. W. Reid -— the brief is an immense one, about twenty huge closely written sheets. He asked us a good many questions. Then shopping, I bought a song, my first, Only a Year Ago by Claribel. Afternoon we went house hunting to Glebe. Mother and Mr Cope are still rowing about moving. He is awfully selfish about it.’

27 January 1893
‘Night started a new story that I shall call Seven Little Australians. I don’t think I’ll let it go in the Illustrated, if I can do without it there, I’ll see if I can get it published in book form.’

17 February 1893
‘Went to town by the 8 am, straight out to Dr Quaife, he examined my ear again and then sent me to his brother who is a specialist. I put in rather a rough time, it is a very unpleasant kind of operation and the worst is I have to go again a few times. Night wrote to H., a very personal letter and told him he was terribly careless about his appearance.’

5 April 1893
‘There is the dearest old lady here, she is 86 and her husband was Colonel Otterly of the Royal Engineers. She has lived the most wonderful life, was brought up in St James Palace where her father was a favourite courtier in George IV’s time, went to India, was attacked by pirates, shot a tiger, and did wonderful things in India. I sat in her room all the evening and she told me hundreds of stories. I am really fond of the girls, they are very nice - I think they reciprocate it too. They quarrel for the last kiss from me at night, who is to sit next to me, etc. etc.’

25 December 1893
‘H. went down by the 10 am. had an unChristmassy Christmas, nothing to mark it but goose, pudding and almonds. In afternoon read Some Emotions and A Moral. Night Lil, Rose, Rex and I went to church.’

1 January 1894
‘A day of one thousand hours. Mother and I lay limp and unlovely in our berths till after 4, we simply hadn’t strength to crawl out. Then I had some ice and a biscuit and went on deck to watch the Tasmanian coast scenery - simply grand, only we were past Nature. Mr Taylor was there to meet us at Hobart - never were two feeble creatures so fervently thankful. He took us to the Coffee Palace for the night and we had coffee bread and butter and enjoyed it mightily. For 58 hours I’ve had nothing but one small biscuit and a drink of beef tea. Mother ate things but I couldn’t.’

7 November 1929
‘To Jean taking her an armful of almond blossom sent by Mrs Phillip, the pretty bed jacket I have been embroidering, and also a letter from Dorothea Mackellar sent from England. She was wheeled out onto the balcony in the sun for a time. Not a good day though as she was in pain from strain of coughing. Then back to her flat and spent a couple of hours fixing things up.’

Friday, April 6, 2018

Carefully in oils

‘I have painted the portrait of a Duke in oils. I have made a very fine and careful portrait in oils of the Treasurer Lorenz Sterk; it was worth 25 fl. I presented it to him and in return he gave me 20 fl. and Susanna 1 fl. trinkgeld. Likewise painted the portrait of Jobst my host very finely and carefully in oils. He has now given me his for his. And his wife have I done again and made her portrait in oils.’ This is from a one-off diary kept by the great German artist Albrecht Dürer - who died all of 460 years ago today - while travelling to the Netherlands to meet Charles V, the new ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. The diary, first published in English in the late 19th century, has been likened to a ledger in which he ‘noted his expenses down to the last farthing’. More interestingly, perhaps, he also noted down income from the sale and barter of his own art works.

Dürer was born in 1471 into large family in Nuremburg. His father was a goldsmith, but his godfather, Anton Koberger, was a printer and publisher, eventually becoming the most successful publisher in Germany, owning 24 printing presses. His most famous publication was the Nuremberg Chronicle, published in 1493 in German and Latin editions, containing 1,800 woodcut illustrations, some of which young Albrecht might have worked on. He learned the basics of goldsmithing and drawing from his father, and showed such a precocious talent in drawing that he was apprenticed to the printmaker Michael Wolgemut from the age of 15.

From 1489, Dürer spent five years travelling around Germany, Switzerland and Italy, a journeyman, working and meeting other artists. In 1494, he married Agnes Frey, the daughter of a wealthy jeweller and musical instrument maker, and, settled in Nuremberg (although he visited Italy again in 1505-1507). He opened his own workshop to produce high quality prints, and was eventually elected a member of the Nuremberg Greater Council. He produced his famous Apocalypse series of woodcuts in 1498. During the next two decades, he produced further series such as Life of the VirginGreat Passion and Little Passion. From around 1512, Emperor Maximilian I, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, became his most important patron, and, later, the source of a pension.

In 1520-21, after Maxmillian’s death, Dürer travelled with his wife to the Netherlands to see Macmillan’s successor, Charles V, petitioning him to continue with the pension. In the latter years of his life, Dürer developed ideas of art theory and mathematics, published several books, Treatise of Measurement for example, and produced some monumental works such as the Four Apostles. He died on 6 April 1528. Further information can be found at the Albrecht Dürer website,
Wikipedia, NNDB, MacTutor, and Encyclopaedia Britannica.

For about one year, while travelling, for the last time in his life, to the Netherlands, Dürer kept a diary. This was first published in an English translation as part of the Literary Remains of Albrecht Dürer by William Martin Conway (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1889). The book - which is freely available at Internet Archive - has 30 chapters, 300 pages, with the diary taking up one chapter and around 30 pages.

The diary chapter starts with this introduction: ‘On the 12th of July 1520 a party of travellers, consisting of Albrecht Dürer, his wife, and her maid-servant, started away from Nürnberg along the Erlangen road. The maid’s name was Susanna and it was probably she who three years later married her master’s former apprentice, Georg Penz the socialist. Dürer carried two little books with him, the contents of both of which have descended to us either in whole or in part. In one of these books he jotted down items of expenditure and occasional miscellaneous records and impressions. The original volume has been lost, but an old copy of it remains in the Bamberg Library. The other was a sketch-book, and many of its leaves may still be seen in the public and private art-collections of Europe. The memorandum book, with its curious mixture of diary and accounts, is one of the most interesting volumes of the kind that have been preserved. It has interested many generations of students and is destined to interest many more. The following is a translation of it.’

And the chapter ends with this postscript: ‘It must be admitted that Dürer was not a man of very contented disposition. But for the ill-health it brought him his Netherlands journey had been most successful. It was doubtless enjoyable. He accomplished the main object for which he set out. His Pension was confirmed by the new Emperor. He added greatly to his fame. He saw the world. He was received everywhere with honour. The town-council of Antwerp, like that of Venice years before, tried to retain him permanently with them. They offered him a salary of 300 Philipsgulden a year with a house and freedom from taxation. But the love of home was strong in him and so he returned to spend his last years in the city of his birth. Henceforward he lived out an honoured, if somewhat premature, old age amongst his own people. His earthly journeys were at an end. There remained for him only the short passage to the tomb where his bones still rest, outside the gates of Nürnberg.’

Nearly 100 years later, in 1971, a handsome edition of the diary was published by Lund Humphries in the UK and the New York Graphic Society in the US: Albrecht Dürer: Diary of his Journey to the Netherlands 1520-1521 Accompanied by the silverpoint sketchbook and paintings and drawings made during his journey. In an introduction, J-A Goris and G Marlier provide the following description and commentary:

‘The Diary which Dürer compiled during the twelve months of his absence from Nuremberg is neither a simple narrative of his impressions on the journey nor a detailed description of the sights he witnessed. It is, in effect, a very precise ledger in which the artist noted his expenses down to the last farthing: his travelling expenses, the cost of board and lodging, the various purchases he made, the money he lost at gambling or spent at the cabarets and spas. And with the same care he recorded everything that could properly be considered as gains, that is to say the sums derived from the sale of his own paintings, drawings and engravings, in that order of importance as far as his receipts are concerned. Sometimes the artist would barter his works, exchanging a set of his engravings for some objet d’art or other object. Dürer also kept a detailed account of the various gifts he made or received. [. . .]

Besides the purely financial data, Dürer could not avoid making a number of observations on what he had seen in the Netherlands. Thus, he describes at some length the great procession he witnessed in Antwerp; or again, the treasures brought from Mexico that he saw exhibited at the Palace in Brussels. Further on, he relates in somewhat pompous fashion the serious risks he took in Zeeland; and shortly before his return he suddenly interrupts his book-keeping to improvise a pathetic lament on the tragedy of Luther and Christianity. The Diary of his journey also tells us in a very direct way much about Durer’s character.’

And here are several extracts, as found in the 1889 edition of Literary Remains of Albrecht Dürer.

12-15 July 1520
’On Thursday after Kilian’s, I, Albrecht Dürer, at my own charges and costs, took myself and my wife (and maid Susanna) away to the Netherlands. And the same day, after passing through Erlangen, we put up for the night at Baiersdorf and spent there 3 pounds less 6 pfennigs.

Next day, Friday, we came to Forchheim and there I paid 22 pf. for the convoy.

Thence I journeyed to Bamberg where I presented the Bishop (Georg III. Schenk von Limburg) with a Madonna painting, a Life of our Lady, an Apocalypse, and a florin’s worth of engravings. He invited me as his guest, gave me a Toll-pass and three letters of introduction and paid my bill at the Inn, where I had spent about a florin.

I paid 6 florins in gold to the boatman who took me from Bamberg to Frankfurt.

Master Lukas Benedict and Hans the painter sent me wine.

4 pf. for bread and 13 pf. as leaving gifts.

Then I travelled from Bamberg to Eltman and I showed my pass and they let me go toll-free. Thence we passed by Zeil. I spent in the meantime 21 pf. Next I came to Hassfurt and presented my pass and they let me go toll-free.

I paid 1 fl. into the Bishop of Bamberg’s Chancery.

Next I came to Theres to the (Benedictine) monastery, and I showed my pass and they also let me go on. Then we journeyed to Unter-Euerheim where I stayed the night and spent 1 pf.

From thence we travelled to Mainberg and I presented my pass and they let me go toll-free.

We came next to Schweinfurt, where Doctor (Jorg) Rebart invited me, and he gave us wine in the boat. They let me also pass toll-free. A roast fowl 10 pf.; 18 pf. in the kitchen and for the child.

Then we travelled to Volkach and I showed my pass and journeyed on, and we came to Schwarzach and there we stopped the night and I spent 22 pf.’

19 August 1520
‘On the Sunday after our dear Lady’s Assumption I saw the great 19 Aug. Procession from the Church of our Lady at Antwerp, when the whole town of every craft and rank was assembled, each dressed in his best according to his rank. And all ranks and guilds had their signs, by which they might be known. In the intervals great costly pole-candles were borne, and their long old Frankish trumpets of silver. There were also in the German fashion many pipers and drummers. All the instruments were loudly and noisily blown and beaten.

I saw the Procession pass along the street, the people being arranged in rows, each man some distance from his neighbour, but the rows close one behind another. There were the Goldsmiths, the Painters, the Masons, the Broderers, the Sculptors, the Joiners, the Carpenters, the Sailors, the Fishermen, the Butchers, the Leatherers, the Clothmakers, the Bakers, the Tailors, the Cordwainers -indeed workmen of all kinds, and many craftsmen and dealers who work for their livelihood. Likewise the shopkeepers and merchants and their assistants of all kinds were there. After these came the shooters with guns, bows, and crossbows and the horsemen and foot-soldiers also. Then followed the watch of the Lords Magistrates. Then came a fine troop all in red, nobly and splendidly clad. Before them however went all the religious Orders and the members of some Foundations very devoutly, all in their different robes.

A very large company of widows also took part in this procession. They support themselves with their own hands and observe a special rule. They were all dressed from head to foot in white linen garments, made expressly for the occasion, very sorrowful to see. Among them I saw some very stately persons. Last of all came the Chapter of our Lady’s Church with all their clergy, scholars, and treasurers. Twenty persons bore the image of the Virgin Mary with the Lord Jesus, adorned in the costliest manner, to the honour of the Lord God.

In this Procession very many delightful things were shown, most splendidly got up. Waggons were drawn along with masques upon ships and other structures. Behind them came the company of the Prophets in their order and scenes from the New Testament, such as the Annunciation, the Three Holy Kings riding on great camels and on other rare beasts, very well arranged; also how our Lady fled to Egypt - very devout - and many other things, which for shortness I omit. At the end came a great Dragon which St Margaret and her maidens led by a girdle; she was especially beautiful, behind her came St George with his squire, a very goodly knight in armour. In this host also rode boys and maidens most finely and splendidly dressed in the costumes of many lands, representing various Saints. From beginning to end the Procession lasted more than two hours before it was gone past our house. And so many things were there that I could never write them all in a book, so I let it well alone.’

23 October 1520
‘On the 23rd day of October, King Karl was crowned at Aachen. There I saw all manner of lordly splendour, more magnificent than anything that those who live in our parts have seen - all, as it has been described. I gave Mathes 2 fl. worth of art-wares, and I gave Stephan (Etienne Luillier), one of Lady Margaret’s chamberlains, 3 prints. I bought a cedarwood rosary for 1 fl. 10 white pf. I gave 1 st. to little Hans in the stable, and 1 st. to the child in the house. I lost 2½ st. at play; spent 2 st.; paid the barber 2 st. I have again changed 1 fl. I gave away 7 white pf. in the house at leaving and travelled from Aachen to Jfibers and thence to —. I paid 4 st. for two eyeglasses; played away 2 st. in an embossed silver king (ein Silbem gestempften König). I bought 2 ox-horns for 8 white pf.’

12 May 1521
‘On Sunday after our Lord’s Ascension-day Master Dietrich, the Antwerp glasspainter, invited me and asked many others to meet me; and amongst them especially Alexander the goldsmith, a rich, stately man, and we had a costly feast and they did me great honour. I made the portrait in charcoal of Master Marx, the goldsmith who lives at Bruges. I bought a broad cap for 36 st. I paid Paul Geiger 1 fl. to take my little box to Nürnberg and 4 st. for the letter. I took the portrait of Ambrosius Hochstetter in charcoal and dined with him. I have also eaten with Tomasin at least six times. I bought some wooden dishes and platters for 3 st. I paid the apothecary 12 st. I gave away two copies of the Life of our Lady - the one to the foreign surgeon, the other to Marx’s house-servant. I also paid the Doctor 8 st. I paid 4 st. for cleaning an old cap, lost 4 st. at play. I paid 2 fl. for a new cap, and have exchanged the first cap, because it was clumsy, and added 6 st. more for another.

I have painted the portrait of a Duke in oils. I have made a very fine and careful portrait in oils of the Treasurer Lorenz Sterk; it was worth 25 fl. I presented it to him and in return he gave me 20 fl. and Susanna 1 fl. trinkgeld. Likewise painted the portrait of Jobst my host very finely and carefully in oils. He has now given me his for his. And his wife have I done again and made her portrait in oils.’

The Diary Junction

Monday, April 2, 2018

Splinters fell on me

‘Went to Mohill Poor House. Was shot at in the Main Street of Mohill by James Murphy from the door of his house in that town about half past one in the afternoon. The ball struck the house near me, the splinters fell on me. James Murphy was arrested and committed.’ William Sydney Clements, the Third Earl of Leitrim, one of the most hated landlords in Ireland at the time, was assassinated 140 years ago to the day. His diaries, of which only brief extracts have been published in an anthology, testify to both his callous behaviour towards tenants and threats to his life.

Clements was born in Dublin in 1805, and educated at Sandhurst. He was commissioned an ensign in 1824, served in Portugal in 1826-1827; and, in 1831, he was appointed a captain in the 43rd Light Infantry. On the death of his elder brother in 1839, he became Viscount Clements and a Member of Parliament for County Leitrim. Then, on his father’s death in 1854, Clements succeeded to the title Third Earl of Leitrim. He retired from the British Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and spent the rest of his life looking after his estates - 90,000 acres in the counties of Donegal, Galway, Leitrim and Kildare - and living at Lough Rynn Castle, Leitrim. However, in time, he became an overbearing landlord evicting tenants at will, and was much hated. He fought strongly against Gladstone’s Irish Land Act of 1870; and, after a row with the Earl of Carlisle, he was deposed from his position as a justice of the peace. After surviving various assassination attempts, he was murdered along with his clerk and driver on 2 April 1878 - his murderers were never caught. A full account of the murder can be read at the Lough Rynn website. Further biographical information is available at the same website or at Wikipedia.

On his death, Clements left all his property, including a set of diaries, to a cousin (not to his siblings, or indeed to his nephew who was the heir to his title). The diaries were handed down through the generations and a few pages of extracts appeared in Diaries of Ireland - An Anthology 1590-1987 by Melosina Lenox-Conyngham (Lilliput Press, Dublin 1998). The author cites the following source: ‘From a transcription by Marcus Clements, owned by Charles Clements.’ Some pages of the anthology can be read at Amazon. Here are several extracts from Clements’ diaries (as found in the anthology).

18 April 1857
‘Went to Dublin and to Killadoon. I was shot at passing through Tooman. Two copper caps snapped. The gun or pistol missed fire. I went into the house of the widow Burbage and her son Mch’l Burbage appeared to be the person who had done the act.’

21 January 1858
‘[Tenant rights meeting in Milford] Engaged all the Public Houses. Police came in - about sixty. People came in two mobs of about two hundred strong each. The meeting held on the hill above the town - not on the estate.’

17 July 1858
‘Evicted Widow McRann of Eskerkilen and obtained possession from the sheriff.’

13 September 1860
‘Received a challenge from James Murphy by post. Sent to Mr Wm Jones [Murphy’s landlord?] who called on me. I gave him the letter I had received from James Murphy and called on him to protect me.’

15 September 1860
‘Went to Mohill Poor House. Was shot at in the Main Street of Mohill by James Murphy from the door of his house in that town about half past one in the afternoon. The ball struck the house near me, the splinters fell on me. James Murphy was arrested and committed.’

8 October 1860
‘Received an address from the town and neighbourhood of Mohill to congratulate me on my escape from assassination.’

4 December 1860
‘Leave Lough Rynn at 7.30 a.m. Arrived Manorhamilton at 1 p.m. Received rents. At night a tar barrel was burned and a band played through the town to greet my arrival.’

6 March 1861
‘Inquired into the cutting off of the tail of Thompson’s cow in Farnaught. Found that there was every reason to believe that the tail was cut by young Malachy Fanning and his brother Charles. Thos Cunnion of Farnaught and Edward Corr of Farnaught were with Malachy Fanning in his father’s house. The father Fanning was absent. Ordered that Fanning pay Thompson £1.’

12 May 1863
‘Went to Doaghbeg with Wilson [his bailiff], gave notice to Michael Martin No 10, Pollet and Pat’k Kelly No 8 that I would evict them; also to Wm McAteer, Doagh Beg, I would evict him and to Dennis Boyce of Ballinacrick that I would remove him for harbouring McGinley who was evicted.’

’17 January 1870
A robbery took place this night - two shirts, two pocket handkerchiefs taken out of the Bleach Green at Killadoon - some lemons taken from the Green House & some of the Gardener’s tools.’

20 January 1870
Went to the garden and examined the footmarks of the man who had been there on Monday night. I took a model of them and compared with Rutherford’s and remarked his mode of walking which left no doubt of his being the man.’

26 March 1871
‘Leave Derry bv the 6.20 train - changed carriage at Omagh and was unable to find a privy fit to be used. At another station, I think Ballybay, they were going to remove me from the carriage but the Station Master civilly allowed the carriage to proceed. Dundalk - the carriage was again changed. The privy at Enniskillen was also unfit for use.’

The Diary Junction

Friday, March 30, 2018

Diary briefs

Richard Pryor’s diaries to be published - Vulture

Miles Franklin’s secret diary - The Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Liberal

William Steinway’s diary online - Smithsonian, Wall Street Journal

RAF chaplain’s WWII diary - Imperial War Museum, The Telegraph

US army medic’s diary - The Washington Post

Rothenstein in the Art World - The Guardian

Poland’s Anne Frank - Mail Online

Harrowing WWI diary up for auction - Mail Online

Rumors of a Hope Hicks diary - Business Insider, The Week

Tamil writer’s diaries digitalised - The Hindu

Jan Morris’s diaries to be published - Bookseller

Excerpts from Yasser Arafat’s diaries - Haaretz, Tablet, Times of Israel

Secret diaries in Aussie murder case - news.com.au, Mail Online

Civil war POW diary online - William & Mary

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Kathleen Scott as diarist

Kathleen Scott, Baroness Kennet, was born 130 years ago today. She lived an extraordinary life, a friend of Auguste Rodin, Isidora Duncan, George Bernard Shaw, Herbert Asquith - to name but a few. She was also a highly regarded sculptor, perhaps the most significant British woman sculptor before Barbara Hepworth. She was married to Captain Robert Scott, he who died during his second Antarctic expedition, and subsequently to politician Hilton Young. For 35 years she kept private diaries - colourful, interesting and informative - which have only recently been opened to the public. It’s time for these to be edited and published.

Kathleen Bruce was born on 27 March 1878 in Lindrick, Nottinghamshire, the youngest of eleven children in a clergyman’s family. She was orphaned at the age of 8, and was brought up in Edinburgh by her great-uncle, an historian. She attended boarding schools in England, and went on to study at Slade School of Fine Art in London. Seeking a higher level of instruction in sculpture she moved to Paris in 1902 to enrol at the Académie Colarossi. She remained in Paris until 1906, living a Bohemian life, befriended by Auguste Rodin and Isadora Duncan among many other now-famous names. Back in London, she was embraced by the city’s literary and artistic society, George Bernard Shaw, for example, and Max Beerbohm. Before long she had met Captain Robert Falcon Scott (see Race to the South Pole) whom she marred in 1908. They had one son, Peter, who became an ornithologist and conservationist - see Scott’s wild goose chase.

The marriage was to prove all too brief as Robert Scott died in 1912 during his ill-fated second expedition to the Antarctic. Following his death, Kathleen did much to glorify her husband’s legacy, not least with a bronze statue of him completed in 1915 (now in Waterloo Place, London). During the war she took on various roles: helping set up an ambulance service in northern France, acting as a private secretary in the Ministry of Pensions, and creating models to help with facial reconstruction for the wounded. She remained oddly opposed to women’s suffrage, but Mark Stocker, author of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry about her, says this side of her was ‘founded partly on Victorian conservatism and partly on dislike of special pleading’.

In 1922, Scott married the politician Edward Hilton Young, and they had one son. She continued to sculpt, mostly busts and statuettes of eminent male contemporaries or idealistic youths. Four of her models were prime ministers, and she had many other famous friends besides. The diarist James Lees-Milne observed that there ‘seemed to be no public figure with whom she was not on intimate terms’. Stocker comments: ‘The products of such friendships are vigorously modelled busts and statuettes which provide a valuable visual record of contemporary celebrities’. In 1935, Young was raised to the Peerage as Baron Kennet, though Baroness Kennet continued to work professionally under the name of Scott.

According to Stocker: ‘By the end of Kathleen’s life her output had slowed, and she appeared increasingly stylistically reactionary. Her unrelenting hostility towards the sculpture of Jacob Epstein, Frank Dobson, and Henry Moore compounded this view and helps to explain why her work has been accorded less art historical recognition than it deserves. While the comparison would not have appealed to either of them, Kathleen Scott was the most significant and prolific British woman sculptor before Barbara Hepworth.’ She died in 1947. Apart from the ODNB (log-in required) which has by far the most comprehensive bio online, some further information is available at Wikipedia, with almost nothing more elsewhere.

Kathleen Kennet kept diaries for much of her adult life. She used a few extracts for her own autobiography written in 1932. This was published posthumously by John Murray in 1949 as Self-Portrait of an Artist. This has long been out of print, but more recently, in 1995, Macmillan published A Great Task of Happiness: The Life of Kathleen Scott, by Kennet’s granddaughter, Louisa Young, which relies on many extracts from her grandmother’s diaries. In the introduction, Young explains: ‘She started them for Con when he went South; they were to be a record for him of their son and of her day-to-day activities. After she learnt that Con was not coming back she kept them up. No one knew she did.’

Young also enthuses over the content of the diaries: ‘Her handwriting races along, illegible unless you really practise reading it, recording adventures, anecdotes and observations, interspersed with photographs and little sketches, from 1910 to 1946. They cover politics and exploration, art and sex, literature and travel. Mexican trains and plastic surgery, love and death, folly and creativity, child-birth and flying, iguanas and vicars and eating chicken sandwiches out of her coronet at the coronation of King George VI. They notably lack self-absorption, self-pity and self-indulgence.’

Two years ago, in April 2016, University of Cambridge announced that Kennet’s diaries would, from then on, be available to researchers in its library. This followed a deal with the government through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme, under which £400,000 of inheritance tax was offset against the transfer of a large number of Kennet papers, including Kathleen’s diaries, into the public domain. At the time, the university put out a press release, rather dismissively referring to her in the headline as ‘Captain Scott’s widow’. The press release stated: ‘Of particular importance are the papers and letters relating to [Kathleen’s] first husband Captain Robert Falcon Scott. Together with her diaries covering the period of Scott’s last Antarctic expedition, the material is of the utmost interest for our understanding of the legendary explorer. The papers also reflect the fascinating careers, interests and connections of Lord and Lady Kennet and are of importance for the study of British military and political history, as well as of literary and cultural attitudes and concerns during the first half of the 20th century.’

Hopefully, Kathleen Kennet’s colourful and fascinating diaries might now receive some serious attention, and be edited for publication. She is little remembered today as a sculptor, and her importance as a diarist has never even be considered; but, her less-than-progressive positions on social issues should be no barrier to attention from biography specialists. The following extracts from Kennet’s diaries are taken from A Great Task of Happiness. Some pages of the book can also be read online at Amazon and Googlebooks.

19 January 1911
‘At the end of lunch he told me quite casually that that morning he had come upon a 2nd dynasty tomb, about 3600, probably the earliest ever found. He said he had left the sarcophagus untouched as he thought I might like to help him uncover it. I was of course most awfully excited. Together we descended a shaft, rather a climb, and there was the sarcophagus, a large wooden box, much eaten by white ants. We had to prop up the sides with sods before he dared lift off the lid. We found three mummies inside, greatly decayed and indeed little left but bones. They had been buried in a contracted position. One set of bones was to be sent to a professor at the museum at Manchester. He numbered each set of bones. I helped him. As I was lifting out one of the heads he said “I suppose you know how to prevent the teeth falling out of the lower jaw?” As though I’d been at it all my life! It was a great burial place and there were many tombs of varying dates up till comparatively recent times. We hoped to find jewels or papyrus in our tomb, but there were neither. Mr Bruce sat at the top of the hole, smoking and regarding us as harmless lunatics. I did enjoy myself.’

20 September 1911
‘Rather a horrid day today. I woke up having had a bad dream about you, and then Peter came very close to me and said emphatically “Daddy won’t come back”, as though in answer to my silly thoughts. By the time you read this you will probably be comfortably lounging in an armchair on a P&O near Colombo or somethaing and will say contentedly “silly little maid” and you’ll be quite right.’

19 February 1913
‘Got my wireless. I was sitting on deck after breakfast not feeling very well [she had her period]. The captain came and said he wanted to speak to me in his room. It didn’t occur to me in the slightest what he wanted but I went. Poor old chap’s hands were trembling when he said “I’ve got some news for you but I don’t see how I can tell you.” I said “The Expedition?” and he said “Yes”. “Well,” I said, “Let’s have it” and he showed me the message which ran “Captain Scott and six others perished in blizzard after reaching S Pole Jan. 18th.” I remember I said without the least truth “Oh well, never mind, I expected that - thanks very much - I’ll go and think about it” and I went downstairs.’

28 December 1915
‘I came back from Vickers to find the PM had been twice. He wrote later saying he had tramped the streets waiting for me, as he was “in great need of me”. I did wish I hadn’t been out. However he came again the next evening. There is great dissension in the cabinet about conscription [Asquith was trying to introduce conscription for single men because not enough of them had volunteered for him to be able to to keep his promise not to make married men join up] and today McKenna [Reginald, Chancellor of the Exchequer], Runciman [President of the Board of Trade], Grey [Foreign Secretary] and John Simon [Home Secretary] have all resigned. He showed me the letters - Grey’s stupid and selfish, I thought - 2 sheets saying that as close friends of his were leaving, he must too; that his eyes are bad, and he had thought of resigning before. A childish effusion, but saying that he had not conspired with his friend Runciman. Simon’s letter was a very dear nice letter, brokenhearted at having to abandon the PM but convinced that forcing anyone is wrong. Runciman and McKenna were excited and not very nice; McK saying we couldn’t afford the enlarging army and Runciman saying he couldn’t spare the men from industry - as the PM pointed out this is not the moment to discuss either issue. The compulsion of unmarried men does not fix the size of the army, not [sic] does it prevent the staying of those requisite for trade. The PM was very very sad, he said he had come to me for two things, 1) wisdom 2) sympathy. I told him I could dispense the second but not the first, however I was awfully touched and flattered. He said I was one of the only discreet women he’d ever met, and told me I helped him enormously. That night he wrote me a little letter saying I made “all the difference”. Poor darling how he hates these tussles.’

20 September 1916
‘. . . The war has sucked up so much of what was most loveable and full of promise, [Asquith wrote to Kathleen] that I have always been haunted by a fear that a toll would be exacted from me also. But when I saw him last - exactly a fortnight ago today - he was so radiantly strong and confident that I came away from France with an easier mind . . . Whatever pride I had in the past, and whatever hope I had for the future - by much the largest part of both was invested in him. And now all that is gone. It will take me a few days more to try to get back my bearings . . .’

29 September 1917
‘We had a dinner party, oh such a funny dinner party! There were Stephen McKenna, Gilbert Cannan, Sidney Russell Cooke, Geoffrey Dearmer and me. In the middle a very bad air raid started. A strange girl came in who was going to dance later. The parlour maid came in hysterical and collapsed on the drawing room sofa. The cook panted behind, and Wink [Peter’s nanny] arrived with her hair down. We fetched Pete down in his pyjamas - we were a mottled party. First we watched from the balcony then we shut shutters, lit lights and Sidney turned on the pianola. Gilbert never uttered a word. Stephen sat and made magic - ‘evil magic’, he said. Sidney and I sustained animated conversation, to which Pete contributed a good deal of sound information about aerial matters. More people came as the night went on, and we danced until three am.’

3 September 1926
‘Very sadly left the Lacket leaving behind me my two little sons. As they both stood by the little gate in the sun to see me off I had to work very hard not to weep at the sheer beauty of them with their sun-bleached hair and their russet skin, my big one and my little one, each looking healthier than the other . . . It’s so insane but I never leave either of them without thinking ‘There, I shall probably never see them again’. These feelings are disgustingly morbid.

15 February 1928
‘Asquith died early this morning. It’s odd I’ve had two weeks to prepare, I knew on Feb 1 that he wouldn’t live, and yet now he’s actually dead I feel all upheaved. He certainly was for some years a very large thing in my life. Probably it was more the excitement of discretion that was so thrilling, more than his actual love. It was a marvellous acrobatic stunt knowing everything that the Prime Minister knew during the War and yet not only not talking, but not letting anyone know I knew. Even Violet who I saw constantly I know had no notion that I was seeing him almost daily for several years. I can’t write to anybody to say I’m sorry. Indeed I’m not, I have wanted him to die for ten years. It’s rather a bore I can’t write to him. To him of 12 years ago.’

26 March 1930
‘I think the way you pay for even falling in love with someone other than your mate is that it lessens and weakens the pleasure you take in your mate, and therefore maybe my natural self protection of my hedonism would prevent [my] succumbing to the ephemeral attractions of beautiful young creatures who encircle one with flattery and cajolery.’

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Lieber’s Life and Letters

‘Yesterday and the day before, serious riots against the negroes. This evening they assembled to defend themselves. I went to see them. They were an uncommonly fine set of people, well formed and well dressed. There were white men there ready to assist them; the soldiers out. The mayor told them to be quiet, but if they were nevertheless attacked, to fight like good fellows. . .’ This is from the diary of Francis Lieber, born in Prussia 220 years ago today. He emigrated to Boston, and, in time, lay the foundations for academic political science in America, and its application to public life. Despite spending many years in the South, he was strongly opposed to slavery; he was also an ardent supporter of the Unionists, and during the Civil War was consulted frequently on legal issues.

Franz (later Francis) Lieber was born into a large family on 18 March 1798 in Berlin, then the capital of Prussia. In 1815, he interrupted his studies to volunteer for the Prussian army. He fought in the battles of Ligny and Waterloo, but was seriously wounded in the assault on Namur, and nearly died. After the war, he resumed his studies in Berlin. But he was an active member of the liberal student movement, which opposed the monarchy, which led to him being imprisoned and then barred from studying at a Prussian university. Instead, he crossed the border to Saxe-Weimar and enrolled at the University of Jena, where he obtained a degree in 1820. He moved to Dresden to take up further studies, but was drawn to fight, briefly, in the Greek War of Independence. He then spent one year in Rome tutoring the son of the Prussian ambassador, historian Barthold Georg Niebuhr, and writing about his experiences in Greece.

On the promise of a pardon, Lieber returned to Germany, yet he was soon imprisoned again. Subsequently, in 1825, he travelled to England, where he remained for two years, tutoring and writing for German periodicals. But, failing to secure an academic position, he crossed the Atlantic, armed with letters of introduction from Niebuhr, and settled in Boston where, initially, he ran a pioneering gymnasium and swimming school. In 1829, he married Matilda Oppenheimer (one of his former pupils in London, and the daughter of a German-born businessman). They had three boys.

By this time, Lieber had taken on the huge task of editing the 13-volume Encyclopaedia Americana, published between 1829 and 1833. For a while, he acted as a research assistant for Alexis de Tocqueville who was on a French mission to investigate the US penal system (see also Perfect order that prevails); and he published various pamphlets and essays, as well as translations from French and German. In 1835, he finally secured an academic position when South Carolina College offered him a new chair in history and political economy. He remained there for over 20 years, producing some of his best known works: Manual of Political Ethics (1838-1839), Legal and Political Hermeneutics (1839) and Civil Liberty and Self-Government (1853). Having been pardoned by Frederick William IV of Prussia, he undertook two journeys back to Europe, including Berlin, in the 1840s.

In the mid-1850s, Lieber fought to be chosen to replace the outgoing president of South Carolina College, even though his personal views (opposing slavery and anti-secession) were unpopular in the South. His bid was unsuccessful, so he resigned and moved to New York City. There he soon secured an appointment as professor of history and political science at Columbia College, where, among other things, he lectured on constitutional law. In the run-up to the Civil War, he founded the Loyal Publication Society which issued tracts for the Unionist cause. During the war, he was frequently consulted by the War Department in Washington DC on legal issues, and he authored important legal works such as Guerilla Parties, Considered with Reference to the Law and Usages of War and Instructions for the Government of the Armies of the United States in the Field.

After the war, Lieber continued writing on political issues, urging, fro example, free trade and civil liberties. He served in the War Department, helping organise captured Confederate archives, and from mid-1869, he acted as a diplomatic negotiator between the US and Mexico. The Civil War had been personally tragic for Lieber as two of his sons fought for the Unionists, and one, who was killed, for the Confederates. Lieber himself died in 1872. Steven Alan Samson provides this assessment of the man in the journal Humanitas (Volume IX, No. 2, 1996) as found on the National Humanities Institute website: ‘Unaccountably neglected for over a century, Francis Lieber, one of the first university-trained German scholars to migrate to America, served as a bridge between the intellectual and political cultures of Germany, England, and America. While cultivating an astonishing range of activities and interests, Lieber helped lay the foundation of academic political science in America and promoted its practical application to public affairs. His theory of institutional liberty, which attributes the rise of civil liberty to the development of an increasingly integrated complex of self-governing institutions, may be his most original contribution to the political science literature.’ Further information is also available online at Wikipedia, History of Economic Thought, Library of Congress, or The New York Times.

Ten years after his death, in 1882, the publisher James R. Osgood brought out The Life and Letters of Francis Lieber as edited by Thomas Sergeant Perry. The book is, essentially, a compilation of extracts from Lieber’s diaries (intermittently kept between 1816 and 1857) and letters, with a connecting narrative by Perry. This can be freely read online at Internet Archive or Googlebooks. Here’s a selection of extracts from Lieber’s diaries as reproduced by Perry.

18 September 1822
‘Went with Niebuhr and his family to Albano, to the palace of the Consalvi. Beautiful sunset and view of the sea. Marcus already says: “Il tuo caro Mare, il tuo Mare.” Pleasant reception at the palace. From my window a view of the town, Monte Sevello, the plain, and the sea. I thought, during these two weeks in Albano, I could forget everything connected with my experience in Greece, and breathe freely for a short time; and now comes the “Diario di Roma,” confirming the rumor that R. is in Argos.’

20 September 1822
‘With Niebuhr, Amalie, and Marcus to the Rotunda. The church door is ornamented with a beautiful frieze. Niebuhr thinks the old walls we saw were part of a bath built for the Germans in the time of Domitian.

Niebuhr says nothing can be accomplished for the welfare of Italy until the priesthood is suppressed. This could be done gradually by allowing the monks to leave the cloisters with a pension. If a whole cloister should disperse, a certain sum should be divided among the monks in proportion to the income of the cloister. The princes, for instance the Chigi and their descendants, might be taxed for this purpose.’

22 September 1822
‘Went early in the morning on horseback to Ariccia, Genzano, and Velletri. This is the capital of the ancient Volscians, and is beautifully situated on a hill. By way of Giullianello to Cora - cyclopean walls, Temple of Castor and Pollux. Bought Niebuhr a knife which had only been used at sacrifices in time of peace.’

14 June 1823
‘A delightful interview with the great artist Cornelius, whom I found surrounded by his pupils and full of hope for the growth of art in Germany. His wife is a charming woman, so full of her recollections of Rome that we naturally found much to talk about, and it was a great enjoyment to me. Cornelius is finishing his Olympus, and means to begin upon his Neptune. He says the work of Giulio Romano at Mantua is full of original Ideas, equal for originality to Raphael in the Farnesina.’

28 June 1926
‘With Rouquette to the British Museum; meagre, with the exception of the Elgin marbles. What a delight to see these! . . .’

7 July 1826
‘Went to see the Tunnel, a most remarkable work, worthy of the old Romans. . . Mr. Greaves offers me a situation near Plymouth. He is secretary of an infant-school society. We shall see. “No history. We don’t care about history.” I meet everywhere with great kindness; tickets to the Dulwich Gallery are given to me, also to Lord Stafford’s collection, which is not open to the general public.’

15 September 1826
‘With Mr. Greaves to the Refuge of the Destitute, where he wishes me to give instruction in gymnastic exercises gratis. This is a good idea, and I am willing to do it.’

19 October 1826
‘A note inclosing £10, and the words in a disguised handwriting, “Won in a wager by an absent friend,” is sent to me by two-penny post. I cannot find out from whom it comes.’

3 October 1829
‘Arrived in Boston. Many visitors to welcome us. We unpack the large chest from Hamburg. Ce sont les plaisirs de mariage.’

6 December1829
‘Preparing my lecture for the Boston Society of Useful Knowledge.’

14 February 1830
‘I write down my plan for a geographical, statistical, and ethnographical periodical. Letter from Carey. He says he has already printed four thousand copies of the first volume of the “Americana.” ’

30 September 1830
‘Ashton, my famous barber-philosopher, said to-day: “Whenever I go to a sick person I get half a dollar. From poor people I never take anything, never; but then I don’t go to them.” We see a great deal of De Beaumont and De Tocqueville.’

11 October 1830
‘Was introduced to the President. He has a noble, expressive countenance; invites me to dinner on Thursday. . .’

19 October 1830
‘The meeting [in New York, about founding the University of the City of New York] was satisfactory. When I came into the room with Doctor Wainwright I was received with the words that they had heard I was to speak on German Universities, and all were anxious that the meeting should be opened by my exposition; so I read my remarks and thanks were voted to me, and the whole matter was referred to the committee of arrangement for farther consideration. Then I spoke freely in reply to some questions, and I felt how bold I was with my poor English. I dine to-day at Mr. Gallatin’s; you know whom I mean, the former minister to London. I feel quite clerical among all the reverend black-coats.

20 January 1832
‘Birth of a little daughter. I send the second part of my article “Napoleon” to Joseph Bonaparte
 [elder brother of Napoleon]. . .’

14 May 1832
‘Letter from Joseph Bonaparte. He says that the article on Napoleon in the Americana is the freest from all prejudice and most truthful of all he had ever read on the subject.’

4 August 1832
‘Swam in the swimming-school with Mr. Audubon, the ornithologist, who has just returned from Florida, where he shot birds and painted for his large work. He discovered many new birds, and is now going to the Bay of Fundy, whence an English revenue cutter will take him to Labrador. On these expeditions he lives like a savage, shooting and fishing, and immediately painting whatever new bird he meets with. This must necessarily produce a valuable work. Doctor Spurzheim is staying at our boarding-house in Boston; he has many very correct ideas. . .’

4 October 1834
‘I have suffered much in these days. I cannot yet write without a bleeding heart. Sent yesterday my “Letters” to Murray in London, with my conditions, and the “United States Gazette” containing my biography.’

14 August 1835
‘Yesterday and the day before, serious riots against the negroes. This evening they assembled to defend themselves. I went to see them. They were an uncommonly fine set of people, well formed and well dressed. There were white men there ready to assist them; the soldiers out. The mayor told them to be quiet, but if they were nevertheless attacked, to fight like good fellows. . .’

14 October 1835
‘It is painful to write in a journal alter hopes have been blighted, of which the preceding pages show so many traces, and when we are living in a particularly dull period; but I must take courage, and who knows how, some time or other, these very pages may become interesting to us. My work goes very slowly through the press. . .’

20 July 1855
‘Again in Philadelphia. Made the acquaintance of Allibone, writer of the “Critical Dictionary of English Literature.” He has an excellent library for it. He rises early, writes until ten o’clock, from ten to one is at his counting-house, and writes again until late in the evening. He is a merchant, and does a large business. How curious and interesting. He spoke to me always as one of his “teachers;” has studied my “Political Ethics,” and my “Pardoning Paper” attracted him much. He was present at the convention where it was first read. . .’

18 May 1857
‘Unanimously elected Professor of History and Political Science in Columbia College. Immense number of letters of congratulation and papers; North and South speak highly of the appointment. House-hunting all the time.’

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pictures and vaudeville

‘Went to Loew’s theatre to-day and it’s allright. They had moving pictures and vaudeville. Gosh the acrobats were swelling fat with muscles and they bounded around like monkeys.’ This is from the adolescent diary of Reginald Marsh, an American social realist painter, born 120 years ago today. Although he started his career as an illustrator and cartoonist (the diary is full of cute drawings), he went on to become famous for his depictions of New York life, not least vaudeville scenes.

Reginald Marsh was born on 14 March 1989 in Paris. His father, a muralist, and his mother, a miniaturist painter, were both well-off Americans. They returned to the US, to Nutley, New Jersey, when Reginald was two years old. He attended Lawrenceville School, and he graduated from Yale University in 1920. On moving to New York in search of free lance illustration work, he was employed to sketch performers for the New York Daily News. He also began taken classes at the Art Students League of New York, where the Ashcan painter John Sloan was one of his teachers (see also Make the draperies move). In 1923, Marsh married fellow student Betty Burroughs (who went on to become a sculptor).

Marsh was one of the first cartoonists taken on by The New Yorker which launched in 1925, and he remained a contributor for nearly 20 years. Also in 1925, he travelled to Paris and was much inspired by the Old Masters and Renaissance painting principles. From the early 1930s, he became well known for his paintings of New York - especially of vaudeville shows, the burlesque stage, street life in the Bowery district, and Coney Island scenes - which often displayed a sense of gritty social realism, somewhat at odds with his affluent background. Among his most important paintings are Why Not Use the “L”? (1930), Tattoo and Haircut (1932), and Twenty-cent Movie (1936). In 1935, he decorated in fresco the Post Office Building in Washington, D. C., and the Custom House in New York City. Around this time, he divorced Burroughs and married Felicia Meyer, a landscape painter.

During the 1940s, Marsh became a teacher at the Art Students League of New York (one of his students being Roy Lichtenstein), and he began drawing for magazines such as Esquire and Life. He was awarded the Gold Medal for Graphic Arts by the American Academy and the National Institute for Arts and Letters. He died, shortly after, in 1954, struck down by a heart attack. There seem to be no published biographies of Marsh, and there is not a wealth of information about him online either - but Wikipedia has a substantial article, and there are short entries at the Smithsonian American Art Museum website, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopedia.com

Marsh kept a variety of notebooks and diaries throughout his life, although most of these are sketch books or appointment diaries, not personal journals. A comprehensive listing of his diaries can be found in the finding aid compiled by Jennifer Meehan for the Archives of American Art (the largest collection of primary resources documenting the history of the visual arts in the US, housed in the Smithsonian Institute). The finding aid says this about the diaries:

Marsh’s adolescent diaries date from 1912 to 1913 and from 1916. The 1912 diary is the most complete, with daily entries for the entire year. The 1913 and 1916 diaries are composed of almost daily entries for the months of January and February, but are blank for the remaining months of each year. Adolescent diaries primarily record Marsh’s daily outdoor activities (such as skating, sledding, and coasting in the winter, and playing tennis and swimming in the summer) with friends including Lloyd Goodrich, the day’s weather, his studies, illnesses, and outings to the theater (to see movies and vaudeville shows). Diaries also allude to his artistic activities, such as painting and drawing a weekly cartoon for The Nutley Bulletin, and include some illustrations and sketches.

Marsh’s art work diaries date from 1929 to 1933. Each diary consists of an “index” of the art work referred to therein, including title, date, and page numbers for relevant entries, and dated entries, comprising notes about the particular art work on which he worked that day. His notes typically include information about dimensions, methods and techniques used, time worked, what was drawn, and/or what prints were made. These diaries document the work he carried out, as well as the way in which he worked, on his paintings and prints during this time period. Similar notes for the time period from 1935 to 1944 can be found in the art notebooks.

Marsh’s engagement diaries, dating from 1935 to 1954, and desk calendars, dating from 1931 to 1934, seem to have been used to keep track of and record his daily events and activities. Rather than typical diary entries, these comprise daily, weekly, and/or monthly calendars with brief notes on the events and activities of any given day, including meetings, classes, appointments, dinners, outings, and trips. In general, engagement diaries provide a sense of the range of artistic activities in which Marsh was involved, his interactions and associations with other artists, and the time he spent involved in teaching and other art-related endeavors. Of particular note, the “Little Red Book” diary from 1937 records Marsh’s work on the mural for the New York Customs House; the one from 1938 records his work on drawings for the book, Sister Carrie; and the one from 1943 records his trip to Brazil as an artist correspondent, which included a broken arm and time spent in hospital.


In 2006, Archives of American Art scanned the bulk of Marsh’s paper, including eight diary-like books, for the years 1912, 1913, 1916, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1933, and images of all these are available online. But, as described in the finding aid, it is only the 1912 book that comes close to being a full journal, albeit an adolescent one, and one with many little sketches that already show a precocious talent. The 1912 journal has been fully digitised recently, and is now available online as a pdf. Here are a few extracts.

8 January 1912
‘At 2.30 in the afternoon I went back to school for a physical examination. I am 4 ft 9 1/2 inches high and weigh 82 1/2 lbs. It began to snow and it kept up all the afternoon maybe all night. I bought a hockey stick for 25¢ over at Ciccone’s and I burned my name on it. I got out my sled and hitched on the grocery and had a delivery ride for about 2 hours around town.’

10 January 1912
‘At 2:30 I skated down along the rode to Kingsland’s pond. It was slick as glass and as smooth as glass. I can skate better each time I go. After while quite a big bunch came after a while. The big fellows skated classy all going along hitching on to each other. Prattie came. He can’t skate because he has only skated a few times in his life. My subjects in school are Latin I Algebra I
English I Ancient History I.’

11 January  1912
‘Went coasting up in Nutley Park. All covered with ice. Jut and I went down on my sled. We went about 30 miles an hour. Later Merril Wright and I went over on Nutley Avenune. Starting up at the top the hill and going as far as the Passaic River, a distance of about of a mile. We coasted down there twice and it was great The Passaic r. is all frozen over. I guess it is skatable. After a while Don Blankhorn with his pop gun went up to Wright’s and played pool. Ice is all over the sidewalks and roads. Slippery as the dickens.’

20 January 1912
‘Some swift coasting now in Nutley Park. In the morning I coasted some but not much. In the afternoon Jut and I went over to the resevoir, about a mile from here to skate. It was swell. The weather was warm and the ice was perfect. I can skate better now. Jut bought a hockey stick and we skated up and down the pond played a little hockey and got sore and and sore backs. We skated all the way across the golf course.’

21 January 1912
‘I did’nt go to Sunday School this morning but in the afternoon Jut and I went skating over at the resevoir. It was slick and a big crowd was there skating and looking on. 5 Germans were there skating fancy in circles. A bunch of fellows would “snap the whip” in a long line hanging on to each other. Some boobs about 20 of them took hold of hands and skated along and snapped the whip. I skate better every time I go.’

23 February 1912
‘Jack Wilson came down because he had played hookey from school. We went down to the rain pond which had lowered five inches. It was covered with thin ice. Jack took a sled and coasted on it and went plunging into a hole and cut his hands badly then he ran out. On one part of the pond we walked on with safety when it got weak and awful pompey. Jack went in a lot of places up to his knees in water.’

11 March 1912
‘Back to school and out again. Went on my wheel up to Goodrich’s and was up in Will’s room with Will, Lloyd, and Winton when Jut sneaks me out without notice. We rode down back of the shooting club and got a bunch of pussy willows. We brought them home and then watched the kids playing marbles. I played Jerry and beat him a couple with Jut’s heavy steel ball bearing shooter I used.’

2 April 1912
‘Rainy day. I got a haircut. Nothing doing all the afternoon.’

5 April 1912
‘GOOD FRIDAY I went to New York this morning and bought two Norfolk suits at Rogers Peet. I bought a hat at Mcreery and a five store hunt. I reached home at 2.30 and changed my clothes. It was really hot. I met Jack Wilson and we went down at the brook. I caught a snake and bought 1/2 dozen hot cross buns. We went down to the brook and two little kids jumped in the quick mud. A few kids came around and meanwhile the little kids were jumping in the mud until it had reached their knees.’

26 June 1912
‘I forgot what I did today. There’s a bunch of great strawberries in the field which I partially ate. Lloyd’s painting his skiff lead color.’

29 July 1912
‘Bill came down and helped me a door blue. It rained a little and we went swimming off the float. It cleared up in the afternoon and so I went for a sail with four of the Goodrich’s in the “Aspenet” a sailboat not large. I don’t mean the hole family because there are only 7 without the relatives or ancestors. The Goodrich’s I went with ranged from about 17 to 23 years of age - all girls except Will who sailed the boat. We sailed out in the ocean 3 or 4 miles, got a soaking and when we came back we got stuck letting down the anchor.’

30 July 1912
‘I worked painting nearly all the morning painting things. Afterwards Bill & I went for a swim off the float and we took a swim around. Nothing special doing in the afternoon. Saw a fellow get hit with a rotten egg so he fell in the water and washed it off being in swimming.’

31 July 1912
‘I took an early morning plunge and worked nearly all of the morning. Bill came down and we took a swim off the float and afterwards watched the other kids go off. In the afternoon he and I went to the Commons and watched a ball game between the Little Comptons and the Y.M.C.A.C’s. Little Compton beat 4-3. Afterwards there were athletics out in front of the Methodist Church which was having a fair. There were about 30 kids from the Y.M.C.A.C camp in west port. They had 100 yd dash, high and broad jumping, shot put, potato races etc. Gosh whenever one of the country jakes wanted to make tell when to stop he would holler “Whoa, whoa” as if he were a horse. I guess it was so because they are used to driving them.’

20 August 1912
‘Had an exciting game of croquet. Ralph, Phillip Arnold & I stood Jack and Lloyd and we won. Gee it was great. Afterwards we all went swimming off the float.’

23 August 1912
‘Played part of a round of golf with Winton and did worse and better. Jack won the cup in the Junior tournament. I made a monkey out of a peach stone.

24 August 1912
‘Swim at Warren’s this morning and it was so rough that we couldn’t go off the rocks. I nearly climbed to the top of the water tower down by the pond while Lloyd & Bill were fishing. At 5:30 there was a driving match on the golf course to see who could drive the farthest. I saw it. Bill goes hunting for woodchucks and water birds. I went with him this morning.’

11 September 1912
‘Saw our new house building which we are going to move in soon. I went to the N.R.H.S. for the first day this morning. It is a fine big school and I took French I, Latin II (Caesar), plane geometry and English II. Thunder storm in afternoon.’

22 October 1912
‘Went to Loew’s theatre to-day and it’s allright. They had moving pictures and vaudeville. Gosh the acrobats were swelling fat with muscles and they bounded around like monkeys. They handled each other and themselves as if they only weighed 2 pounds each. 5¢ admission to the peanut gallery and 25¢ a box.’