Thursday, May 25, 2017

All work and no play

Happy 60th birthday Alastair Campbell - one of the UK’s very best of modern political diarists. Looking back over his published diaries - now five volumes worth covering the years 1994-2005 - there’s definitely been more work than play on the 25th of May. Time for a party maybe!

The Diary Review has published two previous articles with extracts from Campbell’s diaries: A good press secretary and Call me Cherie. Here’s another collection of extracts, all dated 25 May, but mostly those in which Campbell actually mentions his birthday - more than half of his entries for 25 May (during the two decade period) do not refer to his birthday at all. All five volumes of Campell’s full diaries (the most recent was published by Biteback last October) can be previewed at Googlebooks: 1994-1997, 1997-1999, 1999-2001, 2001-2003, 2003-2005.

25 May 1994
‘I did the Today programme with Austin Mitchell (Labour MP). He said Cook hated Gordon which was a bit over the top. Took the kids to school. I wrote my column at home with the main piece on Mo but later changed it after Margaret Beckett announced there would be a deputy leadership contest at the same time as the leadership contest. Interesting move, necessary I suppose for her to be able to run for the leadership, and it meant JP could go for both without being seen to cause a lot of trouble. Gordon's office, doubtless at Sue Nye's prompting, rang me later to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me down the phone. Went to Luigi’s for lunch, then to the lobby, hanging around picking up reaction on Beckett’s move. Interesting how many people said both that TB was obvious as next leader, but also that they didn’t know enough about what he really stood for. Took Mum to the House Magazine party in the Speaker's state rooms and introduced her to lots of people, Kim [Howells], Peter Bottomley [Conservative MP], Charles Clarke, Betty [Boothroyd, Speaker] herself who was really nice and warm. Peter M came round later. He felt Beckett would be more of a danger to the new leader than Prescott.’

25 May 1997
‘It was my birthday, and I got really nice letters from both Mum and Dad, with a cheque, saying how proud they were at what I’d done in helping win the election. I really must get up to see them soon. I’d been anxious throughout the campaign about Dad, and would never forgive myself if he suddenly died and I had not been up there enough. It was a fairly quiet day, though the Thatcher meeting went even bigger than I thought it would, leading the bulletins most of the day. I got a lovely call from Jim Callaghan, saying he would like to help and we fixed for him to do The World This Weekend, saying it was very sensible of TB to see her. TB called, worried I had stuck the Thatcher story in the paper, which I hadn’t. I was pretty sure Peter had put the Clinton/Cabinet story to Grice and once he realised the Sunday Telegraph had the Thatcher story, he gave that to Andy Grice as well. He was talking to the press far too much and was getting on my nerves again. TB was still thinking away re the European agenda and worrying about how we would get a deal in Amsterdam that would be a clear-cut success. He was at Chequers having a couple of quiet days before we headed for Paris.’

25 May 1998
‘It was a fairly quiet day. I put together a briefing re the Japanese emperor’s visit. I said TB wanted him given a warm welcome, that we had to look to the future not the past, added to all the stuff re economic ties etc. Nishimura called me to say the emperor and the Japanese government would be very happy with it. It would almost certainly mean a good kicking from the tabs, especially maybe the Mirror who would be on the lookout for revenge re the Clinton article. TB was fine with it though and felt we had to push a positive line through the whole trip. I went to see Ellie in hospital then took the kids to the fair in Hampstead. The story in NI was focusing too much on decommissioning.’

25 May 2000
‘[. . . ] We went out for dinner with the Goulds and Tessa [Jowell] and David [Mills, her husband] for my birthday. Ian Hutchison [Baroness Helena Kennedy’s husband] came in while we were there. I tore into him because of Helena’s latest blast at us. She was more and more oppositionalist and it had definitely been a mistake to give her a [House of Lords] platform. There are too many people who owe their platform to the Labour Party and just use it to undermine us the whole time. GB was leading the news on Laura Spence.’

25 May 2002
‘Birthday. Forty-five today. The herald for a weekend of gloom. Feeling really down again. Best thing was that Rory was running in the South of England qualifiers, so he and I went out to Watford. Fiona had bought me a pedometer and I ran for over an hour to get it working. The Roy Keane/Mick McCarthy drama was for some reason really draining me too, even though I knew neither of them well. I felt a real sense of empathy with Keane, felt he was driven but also haunted by demons, depression, violence, an inability to share all the same emotions as everyone seemed to have around the big moments. TB, coincidentally, said he had had friends over for dinner, one of whom asked what I was like. TB said he is the Roy Keane in the operation, driven, doesn’t suffer fools, expects everyone to match his own standards, flawed but brilliant.’

25 May 2003
‘Big pieces in the Sundays on Fiona to quit. TB called and said we had to put a lid on this. He said it was becoming dreadful for Cherie because the coverage was making her look crazy. I said it was bad for all of us. He said we had to make clear it was nonsense. I said there was no way we could deny Fiona was leaving, because she is. He was now very irritated by the whole thing, and when he was irritated with this kind of issue, he could become very irritating. It was as if this was all terrible for him when in fact they had created this madness by allowing her in so close. I gave the press office a line that Fiona had not left and that it was absurd to see this as some kind of power struggle with Carole, the usual flimflam. The problem was a number of journalists now already knew she was leaving. Philip was in the States and Georgia [Gould] needed a lift to the QPR vs Cardiff play-off finals at the Millennium Stadium, so I went down with her and Calum. She was a bit upset when they [QPR] lost, and we could see [Cardiff supporter] Neil [Kinnock] going crazy in the directors’ box. The Israeli Cabinet endorsed the road map, which dominated the news. TB said he found that even at weekends now, he was working pretty much all the time, and it never stopped.’

25 May 2004
‘47th birthday, and I was hoping that my resting pulse rate would be the same as, or lower than my age. I missed it by one - 48, which was still pretty bloody good. I spent most of the morning working on a speech for Qatar, and fixing to see Ian Botham at the Test Match in Leeds.’

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Father of modern taxonomy

Today marks the 310th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus, known as the father of modern taxonomy. He showed an aptitude for, and a great interest in, botany from an early age, and though he qualified as a physician, he is remembered most for his work on creating a modern system for the classification and naming of organisms. During his first expedition, when still only 25, to the north of Sweden to study the flora, fauna and natives of Lapland, he kept a detail journal - though there is little evidence that he kept a diary at other times in his life.

Linnaeus was born on 23 May 1707 in Råshult around 100km northwest of Malmo in southern Sweden. His father was a priest and an amateur botanist, (and he was the first in the family to take a surname, choosing Linnaeus, the Latin name for linden tree). Having been tutored at home until the age of 10, Carl was sent to school in Växjö, but is said to have preferred wandering the countryside looking for plants than to be in class. He studied classics and theology at Växjö Katedralskola from 1724, but Johan Rothman, a doctor and teacher, encouraged him towards botany. In 1727, he enrolled to study medicine in Lund university, Skåne, where Professor Kilian Stobæus, a natural scientist, helped him with tutoring and also gave him a place to lodge. After only a year, though, he was encouraged to continue his studies at Uppsala university.

Once in Uppsala, Linnaeus was taken in by another benefactor, Olof Celsius, a professor of theology who also happened to have one of the finest botanical libraries in the countries. The following year, 1729, Linnaeus wrote a thesis on plant sexual reproduction. This led Olof Rudbeck the Younger, professor of medicine, to invite him to lecture at the university, even though he was only a second year student, and to tutor his own children. In 1732, Linnaeus won a grant from the Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala to visit Lapland (searching for new plants, animals and information on the native Sami people) - Rudbeck had visited Lapland more than 40 years earlier, but all his notes and findings had been lost in a fire. Linnaeus’s expedition lasted six months, and led to him describing more than 100 previously unidentified plants - as detailed later in his book Flora Lapponica (1737).

In 1735, Linnaeus went to the Netherlands, where he finished, in a very short space of time, his medical degree at the University of Harderwijk before enrolling at the University of Leiden. That same year, he published the first edition of his new classification of living things, Systema Naturae; and in 1736, he travelled to England visiting many eminent scientists. He returned to Sweden in 1738, where he practiced medicine (specialising in the treatment of syphilis) and lectured in Stockholm. In 1739, he married Sara Elisabeth Moræa, and they would have seven children. In 1741, Linnaeus was awarded a professorship at Uppsala, and in time would restore and expand the botanical garden, arranging the plants according to his own classification system.

Linnaeus continued to revise and extend his Systema Naturae into a multi volume work. He inspired a generation of students, his ‘apostles’, who took part in expeditions all across the world - Daniel Solander, for example, was the naturalist on Captain James Cook’s first round-the-world voyage. Linnaeus himself took on three further expeditions in Sweden. He continued to published highly significant works, Flora Suecica and Fauna Suecica in 1745); Philosophia Botanica (in 1751) with a complete survey of his taxonomy system as well as information on how to keep a travel journal; and Species Plantarum (in 1753), a huge work describing over 1,300 species. In 1750, he was appointed rector of Uppsala university.

In 1758, Linnaeus bought the manor estate of Hammarby, outside Uppsala, where he built a small museum. The same year also saw the tenth edition of Systema Naturae. In 1761, he was ennobled and took the name Carl von Linné. He continued teaching and writing, and even practising medicine, as physician to the Swedish royal family. His latter years, though, were marked by ill health. He died in 1778. When his son, Carl the Younger, also died, five years later with no heirs, Linnaeus’s library, manuscripts and collections were all sold to the English natural historian Sir James Edward Smith, who founded the Linnean Society in London. Further information on Linnaeus can be found at Wikipedia or the websites of The Linnean Society, The Linnaean Correspondence, Uppsala University and the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

Given that Linnaeus published his own instruction on how others should keep travel journals (in Philosophia Botanica), it seems likely he kept such journals on all his expeditions. However, as far as I can tell from online research, only two of these have ever been published in English. The most significant is the diary of his youthful expedition to Lapland,
 as edited by James Edward Smith and published in two volumes in 1811 as Lachesis Lapponica; or, A tour in Lapland, now first published from the original manuscript journal of the celebrated Linnaeus. The work is freely available to read online at Internet Archive (vol. 1 and vol 2.). Much more recently (2007), GotlandsBoken has published Linnaeus in Gotland: from the Diary at Linnean Society, London, to present-day Gotland by Marita Jonsson.

Somewhat confusingly, ‘Linnaeus’s diary’ is often quoted by other writers, but more often than not they are referring not to a diary per se but to a text, written by Linnaeus himself (probably in 1762), cataloguing the events of his life. This was published in 1805 (by J Mawman) in Richard Pulteney’s book: A General View of the Writings of Linnaeus. The Second Edition With Corrections, Considerable Additions and Memoirs of the Authur - To which is Annexed the Diary of Linnaeus Written by Himself and Now Translated Into English, from the Swedish Manuscript in the Possession of the Editor. In his preface, Pulteney gives a provenance for the so-called diary, and quotes from a letter by Linnaeus’s son, who says the text was dictated, ‘with all the ingenuous simplicity of Linné, and in some places interlined and corrected by himself. It is certainly the only Life of him wholly composed by himself, and of course the most interesting and worthy to be published of all the other papers.’ The book (including the ‘diary’) can be read online at Internet Archive and Googlebooks.

Here, though, are several extracts from the real diary Linnaeus kept while on expedition through Lapland, taken from Lachesis Lapponica.

13 May 1732
‘Here the Yew (Taxusbaccata) grows wild. The inhabitants call it Id or Idegran.

The forest abounded with the Yellow Anemone (Anemone ranunculoides), which many people consider as differing from that genus. One would suppose they had never seen an Anemone at all. Here also grew Hepatica (Anemone Hepatica) and Wood Sorrel (Oxalis Acetosella). Their blossoms were all closed. Who has endowed plants with intelligence, to shut themselves up at the approach of rain? Even when the weather changes in a moment from sunshine to rain, though before expanded, they immediately close. Here for the first time this season I heard the Cuckoo, a welcome harbinger of summer.

Having often been told of the cataract of Elf-Carleby, I thought it worth while to go a little out of my way to see it; especially as I could hear it from the road, and saw the vapour of its foam, rising like the smoke of a chimney. On arriving at the spot, I perceived the river to be divided into three channels by a huge rock, placed by the hand of Nature in the middle of its course. The water, in the nearest of these channels, falls from a height of twelve or fifteen ells, so that its white foam and spray are thrown as high as two ells into the air, and the whole at a distance appears like a continual smoke. On this branch of the cascade stands a saw-mill. The man employed in it had a pallid countenance, but he did not complain of his situation so much as I should have expected.

It is impossible to examine the nature of the inaccessible black rock over which the water precipitates itself.

Below this cataract is a salmon fishery. A square net, made of wicker work, placed at the height of an ell above the water, is so constructed that the salmon when once caught cannot afterwards escape.

Oak trees grow on the summits of the surrounding rocks. At first it seems inconceivable how they should obtain nourishment; but the vapours are collected by the hills above, and trickle down in streams to their roots.

In the valleys among these hills I picked up shells remarkable for the acuteness of their spiral points. Here also grew a rare Moss of a sulphur-green colour.

From hence I hastened to the town of Elf-Carleby, which is divided into two parts by the large river, whose source is at Lexan in Dalecarlia. The largest portion of the town stands on the southern side, and contains numerous shops, occupied only during the fairs occasionally kept at this place.

I crossed the river by a ferry, where it is about two gun-shots wide. The ferryman never fails to ask every traveller for his passport, or license to travel. At first sight this man reminded me of Rudbeck’s Charon, whom he very much resembled, except that he was not so aged. We passed the small island described by that author as having been separated from the main land in the reign of king John III. It is now at a considerable distance from the shore, the force of the current rendering the intermediate channel, as Rudbeck observes, every year wider. The base of the island is a rock. Only one tree was now to be seen upon it.

The northern bank of the river is nearly perpendicular. I wondered to see it so neat and even, which may probably be owing to a mixture of clay in the sand; or perhaps it may have been smoothed by art. Horizontal lines marked the yearly progress of the water. The sun shone upon us this morning, but was soon followed by rain. 
Elf-Carleby is two miles and a half further. On its north side are several sepulchral mounds.

Here for the first time I beheld, what at least I had never before met with in our northern regions, the Pulsatilla apii folio (Anemone vernalis), the leaves of which, furnished with long footstalks, had two pair of leaflets besides the terminal one, everyone of them cut halfway into four, six or eight segments. The calyx, if I may be allowed so to call it, was placed about the middle of the stalk, and was cut into numerous very narrow divisions, smooth within, very hairy without. Petals six, oblong; the outermost excessively hairy and purplish; the innermost more purple and less hairy; all of them white on the inside, with purple veins. Stamens numerous and very short. Pistils cohering in a cylindrical form, longer than the stamens, and about half as long as the petals.

We had variable weather, with alternate rain and sunshine.

A mile from Elf-Carleby are iron works called Härnäs. The ore is partly brought from Danemora in Roslagen, partly from Engsiö in Sudermannia. These works were burnt down by the Russians, but have since been repaired.

Here runs the river which divides the provinces of Upland and Gestrickland. The soil hereabouts is for the most part clayey. In the forests it is composed of sand (Arena mobilis and A. Glarea). The post-houses or inns are dreadfully bad. Very few hills or lakes are to be met with in Upland. When I had passed the limits of these provinces, I observed a few oak trees only in the district of Medelpad.

The forests became more and more hilly and stony, and abounded with the different species of Winter-green (Pyrolae).

All along the road the stones were in general of a white and dark-coloured granite.

I noticed great abundance of the Rose Willow (Salix Helix), which had lost all its leaves of the preceding season, except such as composed rosaceous excrescences at the summits of its branches, and which looked like the calyx of the Carthamus (Safflower), only their colour was gone.

Near Gefle stands a Runic monumental stone, rather more legible than usual, and on that account more taken care of.

I noticed a kind of stage to dry corn and pease on, formed of perpendicular posts with transverse beams. It was eight ells in height. Such are used throughout the northern provinces, as Helsingland, Medelpad, Angermanland, and Westbothland.’

15 June 1732
‘This day afforded me nothing much worthy of notice. The sea in many places came very near the road, lashing the stony crags with its formidable waves. In some parts it gradually separated small islands here and there from the main land, and in others manured the sandy beach with mud. The weather was fine.

In one marshy spot grew what is probably a variety of the Cranberry (Vaccinium Oxycoccus), differing only in having extremely narrow leaves, with smaller flowers and fruit than usual. The common kind was intermixed with it, but the difference of size was constant. The Pinguicula grew among them, sometimes with round, sometimes with more oblong leaves.

The Bilberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus) presented itself most commonly with red flowers, more rarely with flesh-coloured ones. Myrica Gale, which I had not before met with in Westbothnia, grew sparingly in the marshes.

In the evening, a little before the sun went down, I was assailed by such multitudes of gnats as surpass all imagination. They seemed to occupy the whole atmosphere, especially when I travelled through low or damp meadows. They filled my mouth, nose and eyes, for they took no pains to get out of my way. Luckily they did not attack me with their bites or stings, though they almost choked me. When I grasped at the cloud before me, my hands were filled with myriads of these insects, all crushed to pieces with a touch, and by far too minute for description. The inhabitants call them Knort, or Knott, (Culex reptans, by mistake called C. pulicaris in Fl. Lapp. ed. 2. 382.)

Just at sunset I reached the town of Old Pithoea, having previously crossed a broad river in a ferry boat. Near this spot stood a gibbet, with a couple of wheels, on which lay the bodies of two Finlanders without heads. These men had been executed for highway robbery and murder. They were accompanied by the quartered body of a Laplander, who had murdered one of his relations.

Immediately on entering the town I procured a lodging, but had not been long in bed before I perceived a glare of light on the wall of my chamber. I was alarmed with the idea of fire; but, on looking out of the window, saw the sun rising, perfectly red, which I did not expect would take place so soon. The cock crowed, the birds began to sing, and sleep was banished from my eyelids.’

17 July 1732
‘In the morning we arrived at the abode of Mr. Kock, the under bailiff, where I could not but admire the fairness of the bodies of these dark-faced people, which rivalled that of any lady whatever.

Here I saw some Leming Rats, called in Lapland Lummick. The body of these animals is grey; face and shoulders black; the loins blackish; tail, as well as ears, very short. They feed on grass and reindeer-moss (Lichen rangiferinus), and are not eatable. They live, for the most part, in the alps; but in some years thousands of them come down into the woodland countries, passing right over lakes, bogs, and marshes, by which great numbers perish. They are by no means timid, but look out, from their holes, at passengers, like a dog. They bring forth five or six at a birth. Their burrows are about half a quarter (of an ell ?) deep.

Here I found the little Gentian, or Centaury, with a hyacinthine flower in five notched segments (Gentiana nivalis).’

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Fortescues go to Bath

‘This has been a terrible wet day. Doctr Fraser was here, Fortescue has got a cough which he (Fraser) says will prevent his beginning the waters as soon as he otherways woud. We dined hearty & thank God are except him all well. No lodgings yet fix’d on so we are to pass this night here.’ This is Marianne Fortescue, born all of a quarter of a millenium ago today, writing in her diary about a tour from Ireland to Bath so that her husband, Matthew, could take the waters in the hope of a cure for gout. Although the Fortescue family had a long history in County Louth, and although the estate house built by Matthew, Stephenstown House still exists as a picturesque ruin, there is very little information available online about Marianne. Indeed, most of what we know about Marianne and Matthew comes from Marianne’s diary.

Marianne (Mary Anne) Fortescue, born on 17 May 1767, was the daughter of John McClintock, of County Louth, Ireland, MP for Enniskillen and Belturbet. On New Year’s Day 1787, she married Matthew Fortescue, a descendant of Faithfull Fortescue who had acquired lands after his Ireland adventures in the 17th century. The Fortescues had a house in Dublin and were there when the rebellion of 1798 broke out. Matthew also had built Stephenstown House in Louth in 1785 (which remained in the Fortescue family until the 1970s, though it fell into ruin in the 1980s - see Abandoned Ireland for photos). They had four children, according to the Fortescue Family Genealogy website. Marianne died in 1849.

The only reason Marianne is remembered today is because of a diary that she kept for some periods of her life. According to History of Knockbridge by Padraig O’Neill (1994) (extracts can be found at the Fortescue Family Genealogy website): ‘[In the diaries,] she gives details of life in Stephenstown, the rounds of parties and the visitors who were constantly coming and going. In that year she also gives an account of a journey she made with her husband to Bath because he suffered from gout. At that time it was a long coach journey to Dublin where they stayed until the weather and conditions at sea facilitated passage to England. She describes her journey through England - the wonderful bridges, tremendous hills, acqueducts and the Welsh ale. She also mentions seeing the coal-pits and a visit to Worcester where she described the china manufacture. She describes the treatment her husband received at the spa. The journey home from Bath to Stephenstown took three full days. She was in Dublin when the rising of 1798 took place and gives an account of the losses on both sides which were very exaggerated. She says that the North has remained calm and she returned to Stephenstown. There are many references to Lisrenny and Corbollis and dancing in Dundalk until four in the morning. In 1798 she states that the gentlemen at the county meeting in Louth were all unanimous against the Union. She gives a graphic description of a tragedy at sea when Captain Morton's vessel was wrecked at Haggardstown and all on board perished.’

Only two periods of her diary seem to be extant: 1797-1800 and 1816-1818. Very brief extracts can be found in Diaries of Ireland edited by Melosina Lenox-Conynghim (The Lilliput Press, 1998) - see Amazon for a preview. However, the diaries, as edited by Noel Ross, have also been published in full in the Journal of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society (available online at JSTOR, preview available, log-in required): Vol. 24 No. 2 (1998), Vol. 24 No. 3 (1999), Vol. 24 No. 4 (2000), Vol. 25 No. 2 (2002). Ross claims in his introduction that the diaries are important ‘as a local social document’. Here are several extracts concerning the Fortescues journey to Bath.

21 October 1797
‘We breakfasted & dined at the same hotel & at six o’clock in the eve’g all set out in a coach to go to Pier Head to Mr S. Page as we heard the Leister packet was to sail at twelve o’clock. We drank tea & supp’d with him. The children lay on a bed there from eight o’clock untill they were waked to go on board, which we all did at about half past twelve. It was a very dark, rainy, windy night. I was not the least bit frighten’d & remain’d quite free from sickness untill about five o’clock on Sunday morn’g the 22d. I was quite delighted between eight & nine at the sight of Holy Head. We had a very rough passage, every thing in the ship falling about & the waves dashing over us every moment. When we came to anchor we all got into the boat to get up to Jacksons House; it was raining very heavy on us, but we did not think much of that, as I was so delighted to get on shore We all breakfasted there and were very much delay’d after as we did not get off from that untill two o’clock.’

22 October 1797
‘Bangor. Here we arrived at eight o’clock in the eve’g. got very safely over the ferry & eat our dinner & all are well. We intend sleeping here.’

23 October 1797
‘Conway. A fine day. We breakfasted this morn’g at Bangor, the harpur was playing all the time. I liked it vastly & think the place very pretty. In comeing here we came over two dreadful! hills. Penmont Muir & Penmont Ross, the road was very rough. I walk’d up the first mention’d hill as I thought it quite tremendous. We came a short journey this day, only 17½ miles. There is a very beautiful old castle here which we walk’d out to see. Fortescue felt fatigued so we dined early, and will soon go to rest for this night.’

24 October 1797
‘Llangollen. A fine day. We breakfasted at eight o’clock this morn’g at Conway and arrived here at past six this eve’g. We came about forty six miles, about Llanwrst is wonderfully beautifull & hilly. We only pass’d thro’ it & had a superb view along the road for about six or seven miles, then it was excessive ugly to Kernioge. Between that & Corwen there was some parts beautifull and a most wonderfull high bridge & a tremendous hill. From Corwen to this place was truly beautifull, the road ran mostly along the banks of the Dee, and some places look’d quite dangerous as the bank was nearly perpendicular and above 200 feet above the river. Here we are to sleep & have dined. I like the Welsh ale. It threatens to rain this night heavy.’

25 October 1797
‘Shrewsbury. We left Llangollen at half past eight this morn’g & a very wet one it was. We got to Oswestry to breakfast at eleven. Between Llangollen and Oswestry there is a fine place of Mr Middletons Chirk Castle ’tis called & a very nice town just near it call’d Chirk. We pass’d two acqueducts & great canal works & had a view of the River Dee about half way, ’twas altogether excessively pretty. We left Oswestry a little past twelve & arrived here before four o’clock. We pass’d a beautifull rock at Nescliff, there were only a few cabins near it. We have only travell’d thirty miles this day. Fortescue complains of being a little tired. We have dined & are to sleep here.’

26 October 1797
‘Kidderminster. We left Shrewsbury at a quarter past eight, Fortescue not very well. The road from it to Cole brook dale is quite beautifull. It was so foggy a morning that we could not see much of Shrewsbury. It soon clear’d up & was very fine. There is a new iron bridge only about one month finish’d within a mile of Cole brook dale. It is amazelingly light looking, only one arch, it is pannell’d. The old one is very curious & handsome. Altogether ’tis a delightfull place. A vast quantity of wood along the road at one side & at t’other a river. We breakfasted at C.B. dale & left it a little after eleven. There is a tremendous hill just after passing the bridge & on top of it there are great iron works & coal pits. The next place we came to was Bridge North, it is a large town & an old castle leaning quite crooked, it suffer’d by Oliver Cromwell. We left that at two and arrived here at half past four. It is a very good looking town and a carpet manufacture carried on in imitation of Turkey. Here we dined & are to sleep. The bells have been ringing all the eve’g.’

27 October 1797
‘Gloucester. We left Kidderminster early this morn’g. It was very foggy but grew very fine before we got to Worcester. We were very much entertain’d walking about & looking at the china manufacture which is amazingly curious. We saw all the different processes & were much delighted with it - and the town is a very nice one. We saw some of the most beautifull china I ever beheld, one dinner sett came to 900 gs. We went into the Town Hall which is a great old building with pictures of kings & queens. We pass’d three hours in seeing all that & eating breakfast. We left that at half past one & drove to Tukesbury in a very short time. It seem’d a large town but made no delay there and only changed horses & came on here. There is an exceeding curious looking old church which we perceived out of the bed room window. We are to sleep here & have dined, we had stew’d lampreys, stakes & chops, the first mention’d dish has made me very sick.’

28 October 1797
‘Bath. We left Glocester this (very charming) morn’g a little after eight. We breakfasted at Rodboro’ at ten, it is a delightfull place, the country quite beautifull. There is a great manufacture carried on there of cloth & casimere, it look’d gay as possible & every soul seem’d busy. Nailsworth a place just near it is also delightfull. We left that before eleven and drove to Petty France which seem’d a poor little ugly place. The Duke of Beauforts Demesne just joins it, what we coud see of that over the wall appear’d handsome & grand plantations. We got chaises there and arrived here at half past three, we have eat our dinner at the White Lyon in Market Place. Fortescue consulted little Spry, he advised him to see Doctr Fraser. We intend sleeping here.’

29 October 1797
‘This has been a terrible wet day. Doctr Fraser was here, Fortescue has got a cough which he (Fraser) says will prevent his beginning the waters as soon as he otherways woud. We dined hearty & thank God are except him all well. No lodgings yet fix’d on so we are to pass this night here.’

6 November 1797
‘Fortescue has had no sympton this day of gout, however he seems a little better. He sat up till nine, but has not eat any meat these three or four days past. Matt seems still a little feverish. Anna & I are pretty well. We quit our lodgings in Argyle Buildings at about two o’clock this day & came to No. 7 Milsom Street & are very comfortably fix’d. Fanny dined with us: this day has been very fine. Fortescue went at one to the Pump Room in a chair & took a glass of water.’

9 November 1797
‘Fortescue is this day infinitely better, he got up early, so did I and walk’d to the Pump Room. There were not many there tho’ an uncommon fine day. He drank a glass of water & we were home at half past nine to breakfast. He has eat much heartier & I am in great hopes he is now in a fair way of recovering. He dined at home. J.F. & I dined at Mrs Fosters, there were just eight of us at dinner & about thirty came to cards in the eve’g. Jack came home to Fortescue before nine. I did not untill ten o’clock.’

10 November 1797
‘This has been a delightfull day. Fortescue is amazing well, he went before breakfast for his glass of water, eat his breakfast hearty after. Fanny call’d on me to walk. We all set out together, he & Jack went to market. Fanny & I to divert ourselves. We walk’d for a long time & went thro’ the Abbey Church which I liked very much. We dined before four. Fanny stay’d with us.’

13 November 1797
‘Nothing new this day. Fortescue certainly has got the gout in his foot, he has been in a good deal of pain. He went before breakfast to the Pumps in a chair & again at one o’clock. It has been a fine sunny day. it did not however tempt me out. The children & I are pretty well. I finish’d the Man of Destiny.’

16 November 1797
‘Fortescue vastly better this day but not quite free from gout, however no headache. It has rain’d & is a dirty day. I work’d & read all the morning & finish’d a long letter to my mother. & also finish’d Bridon’s Tour & was much entertain’d.’

25 December 1797
‘This has been a fine day but a great fog in the morning. I went to the Abbey Church & came home directly after. Fortescue has felt this day as if he had got cold, my head is not quite well yet. I got a letter from Eliza.’

30 December 1797
‘Another very Fine day. I have been idleing about all this day also, my cold still bad so did not stir this eve’g. Fortescue & the children are very well.’

The Sarawak coast is safe

‘The coast of Sarawak is as safe to the trader as the coast of England, and an unarmed man can traverse the country without let or hindrance.’ This is taken from a foreword, written by James Brooke, the first so-called White Rajah of Sarawak, to the diaries of his nephew Charles Brooke who did much to help tame the territory’s wild natives - while his uncle was still alive, and after, during his near 50 year term as the second Rajah, which ended with his death 100 years ago today.

Charles Johnson was born in Somerset in 1829, educated at Crewkerne grammar school, and joined the navy when only 12 years old. In his early 20s, he left the navy, and travelled to Sarawak, where his uncle James Brooke, was its leader, the first White Rajah of Sarawak. Charles changed his name to Brooke, and joined his uncle’s service, learning the language and employing local people to tame the territory’s wilder elements. In 1864, the UK recognised Sarawak as a separate state, and the following year James named Charles as his successor. In 1868, he was proclaimed the second Rajah; and a year later he married Margaret Alice Lili de Windt in England. They had six children, three of whom survived infancy. Charles Brooke also had an older son with a Malay woman.

Thereafter, Charles Brooke continued his uncle’s policies of suppressing piracy and slavery, while encouraging trade and development. He ruled Sarawak for 50 years, generally with a mild hand, enlarging the territory, building roads and a railway, but resisting rapid modernisation or much immigration. In 1888, Britain agreed to make Sarawak a protectorate; and in the same year, Queen Victoria awarded Brooke a knighthood. When he died, on 17 May 1917, his son, Charles Vyner, became the next and last Rajah before Sarawak was ceded to the UK in 1946. There is not much information about Charles Brooke readily online, but see Wikipedia, The Brooke Trust, The British Empire, or a Daily Mail view of the White Rajahs.

In 1866, the London-based Tinsley Brothers published Charles Brooke’s two volume Ten Years in Sarawak, part memoir and part diary of his time before becoming Rajah. Both parts are freely available to read online at Internet Archive (vol 1, vol 2).

James Brooke, still the Rajah at the time, provided a foreword to the book: ‘I have been requested by the publishers to affix a few prefatory remarks to my nephew’s book upon Sarawak, and having read the sheets as they were passing through the press I willingly do so. Its defects I leave others to discover; I do not coincide in all his opinions, nor do I agree with many of his theories; but the simple and truthful narrative of his adventures as the leader of the wild and numerous Dyak tribes, will interest many readers as it has interested me. He is looked up to in that country as the chief of all the Sea Dyaks, and his intimate knowledge of their language, their customs, their feelings, and their habits far exceeds that of any other person. His task has been successfully accomplished, of trampling out the last efforts of the piratical Malayan chiefs, and their supporters amongst the Dyaks of Saribus, and of the other countries he has described. He first gained over a portion of these Dyaks to the cause of order, and then used them as his instruments in the same cause, to restrain their countrymen. The result has been that the coast of Sarawak is as safe to the trader as the coast of England, and that an unarmed man could traverse the country without let or hindrance. It is a gratification to me to acknowledge my nephew’s devotion to the cause to which my own life has been devoted.’

Brooke introduces chapter 6 in volume 2 as follows: ‘An attack on the Kayan country had been for some time past in contemplation, and was deferred last year in consequence of the season being too far advanced, and the people very badly off for provisions.

In arranging the preliminaries of such an undertaking, to decide whether the attack was to be made or not, I felt the pulse of the people by making inquiries of five or six chiefs only, and in this case did so while at Sakarang. They gave me positive assurances that the Government should organise an attack as soon as possible, as the Kayans every year were becoming more troublesome and dangerous. They remarked, “You see, we are yet young and strong; but there is no saying what we may be next year; and as the Kayans have to be attacked, let us do it at once, and have done with it.”

Mr. Cruickshank, the Resident of Rejang, had frequently sent letters complaining of the depredations and havoc they were committing yearly on our Dyaks and trade. Ransacking the interior of their country was the only effectual method of bringing them to their senses, for they have never yet seen a force more powerful than themselves, and no attacking party, except Dyaks, had heretofore encroached upon the confines of their country. Six weeks was the time allowed for the population to complete their farming, prepare boats, and provision for two months - to furnish axes, arms, and other needfuls, requisite for such an undertaking up river and inland. We were busily employed making cartridges and repairing gear and boats.’

And here are a few diary extracts that follow.

19 May 1863
‘The two heavy guns were fired at sunset, as a preparatory signal for the final start in the morning. I had written letters to Sarawak and England, and for the sixth time made my will, and was now anxious to be off. There were many natives very apprehensive in their minds about the success of the coming attack, and they were extremely fearful of sickness in penetrating so far inland. Abang Aing, prince of caution, care, and prudence, requested me to supply him with a roll of white cloth as grave-clothes, in order to perform the last obsequies to those who should remain behind. I had sent word to Watson to await our arrival at Kabong, and my brother had already proceeded to Kanowit, accompanied by Sergeant Lees, in charge of guns, rockets, muskets, and ammunition, to the amount of several thousand rounds.’

20 May 1863
‘The boat was launched, the two guns again fired off with heaviest of cartridges, and at mid-day we started. My crew were mostly old followers and servants who had been with me for years. Our boat was in very perfect order, well painted, and decorated with flags; for nothing tells so much as pride instilled and esprit de corps encouraged in the minds of the people. My fellows, however, had been dilatory in making a start. The last farewell and good wish given to the wife and family, the lord and master marches from his house with due decorum, stepping carefully to avoid any approach to a trip or fall, as bad consequences would then be predicted. The Mahomedans (Malays) permit no kissing and embracing in public, but their expressions of farewell are much the same as with us. [. . .]

Many go through the form of their forefathers in listening to the sounds of omens; but the ceremony now is very curtailed, compared with what it was a few years ago, when I have known a chief live in a hut for six weeks, partly waiting for the twittering of birds to be in a proper direction, and partly detained by his followers. Besides, the whole way in advancing, their dreams are religiously interpreted and adhered to; but, as in all such matters, interpretations are liable to a double construction. The finale is, that inclination, or often fear, is most powerful. A fearful heart produces a disagreeable dream, or a bad omen in imagined sounds from bird or deer; and this always makes a force return. But they often loiter about so long, that the enemy gains intelligence of their intended attack, and is on the alert. However absurdly these omens lead the human race, they steadily continue to follow and believe in such practices. Faith predominates and hugs huge wonders, and tenaciously lives in the minds of the ignorant. Some of the Dyaks are somewhat shaken in the belief in hereditary omens, and a few follow the Malay custom of using a particular day, which has a strange effect on European imaginations. [ . . .]

The effect of these signs on myself was often very marked; and no Dyak could feel an adverse omen more than myself when away in the jungles, surrounded by these superstitious people. Still I could sympathise with the multitude; and the difficulty lay in the question, whether my influence would be sufficient to counteract such phantoms. It must not be thought that I ever attempted to lead the Dyaks to believe that I was an owner of charms or such absurdities, which could not have lasted beyond a season, and could never be successful for a length of time. My desire was always to extinguish such an idea; but natives persisted in their belief. A Maia’s (orang utan) head was hanging in my room, and this they thought to be my director to successful expeditions.’

21 May 1863
‘We stopped to-day at Lingga, and I visited Banting for a few hours. There was little eagerness displayed by these Dyaks to follow the force. They are a strange and stubborn lot, and the only way to deal with them is to leave them very nearly to their own devices; after they have accused everyone of stupidity and want of forethought, except the right party (themselves), they find themselves much behindhand, and have extra hard work to overtake the force. The Bantings, however, have their redeeming qualities; they are braver than most of the other tribes, and are truehearted, but quarrelsome and troublesome in all expeditions. I believe it principally arises from their looking on themselves as the right-hand men in war proceedings; and as they have always been on friendly terms with the white men, they have escaped being attacked and burnt out.’

22 May 1863
‘We proceeded as far as the Si Ludam stream, accompanied by only a few boats. The Dyaks were already suffering severely from sickness; six men in a boat next to mine were groaning with pains of colic, besides others who had been stung by the poisonous fish on the mud. Of course they all requested medicine. Nearly two bottles of brandy and a quantity of laudanum were finished this afternoon. I felt this to be rather early in the day for ailments - almost before we were out of sight of our river.

The next morning we stopped at Kabong, a sandy spit which lies at the mouth of the Kaluka river. Here we found about forty large boats, and many Malays. Watson had just gone on towards Kanowit with another forty boats from Saribus. The Kaluka district had been shamefully governed from time immemorial, and as yet this place has derived few reforms from the superior Government of Sarawak; in fact, to pass reforms while the country is still in the possession of Malay rulers, is to little purpose, as the latter are not capable of benefiting by them. New blood is sadly required in this place before any beneficial change can be wrought, as the population, without being vicious, is weak, and has no reliance upon their own regime, nor any confidence that they could successfully imitate others. The consequence is, that there are continual alarms and false reports. And now the Malays hastened on board with a cock-and-bull story that the Kayans had removed to some impregnable fastnesses. This was told me by an officious old Nakodah, who was desirous of returning to his wives. I sent him to his boat with a flea in his ear, and informed him he should have the honour of leading the attack if his story proved true. There were also many nice quiet fellows among the inhabitants, who talked very sensibly; but all allowed that considerable apprehension was felt for the success of such a distant undertaking, against tribes whom they had been bred up to fear as the most powerful of all populations.’

24 May 1863
‘We were off at about 730 a.m. with a following of sixty boats, each averaging forty men. It was a fine morning, with only a ripple caused by a fresh land-breeze; but one cannot be otherwise than anxious when pulling along the coast with only three inches of dry planking above water. However, we reached the mouth of Niabur, and there entered a creek leading to the
Rejang river just in time, for the sea-breeze was commencing, and the surf had already shown white on an outstretching point of sand. Some of the larger boats went round by sea, and we all reached the rendezvous together for cooking at mid-day, but found there was little or no drinking-water, as all that remained in this dry season had been mixed with the tubar root for poisoning fish; so we only rested to eat boiled rice, and again pushed on through the creeks. This was puzzling navigation, and people often lose themselves for days in such places. Most of these rivers are about two hundred yards broad, and to all appearance deep, with the Nipa palm and mangrove abounding on the banks. At 3 P.M. we came out in the Rejang river, which is more than a mile in breadth. The tide was in our favour, and we pushed on to Sarikei, where there were some huts of people who had lately taken up their abode here. This place was burnt down, as before mentioned, in 1859, subsequent to the murders of Messrs. Fox and Steele at Kanowit. We had made fifty miles to-day with paddles alone. Sarikei is twenty-six miles from the mouth of Rejang.’

The Diary Junction

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Diaries of a Pakistan leader

‘Invited the members of cabinet and explained why I had resigned. It was quite obvious that the politicians are hell bent on disrupting the country, and besides, economic life was coming to a halt. Workers and even government officials had said goodbye to discipline. In any case, I could not sit on the dissolution of Pakistan by lawful or unlawful means.’ This is Mohammed Ayub Khan, the second president of Pakistan, explaining to his diary why he has decided to step down from office. Ayub Khan, born 110 years ago today, kept a detailed diary in the latter years of his life with the full intention of it being published, but not till long after his death. Since publication, in 2007, Ayub Khan’s diaries have been praised for providing a unique insight into the country’s politics at the time, but they have also been condemned for the way he denigrated his contemporaries.

Ayub Khan was born on 14 May 1907 in Rehana, a village in what was known as the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, province of Pakistan), the first child of the second wife of Mir Dad, a soldier in the British Indian Army. He rode four miles to his first school on a mule, then lived with his grandmother while attending a school in Haripur. He studied at Aligarh Muslim University before being accepted into the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, though he did not complete his degree there. As well as his regional Hindko dialect, he was fluent in fluent in Urdu, English and Pashto. He followed his father into the British Indian Army, rising to the rank of major by 1941.

During the Second World War, Ayub Khan was second-in-command of a regiment in Burma (Myanmar) and in charge of a battalion in India, being promoted to colonel. After the establishment of Pakistan in 1947, he rose quickly in the new country’s army from major general to commander in chief, serving briefly in 1954-1955 as minister of defence. After several years of political chaos, Ayub Khan emerged as the country’s leader in the late 1950s, being elected president in 1960 (he also held the post of minister of defence). He helped restore the economy through agrarian reforms and by promoting industry and encouraging foreign investment. He also introduced a system of local government, and moved the country’s capital from Karachi to the planned city of Islamabad.

His period in office was characterised by worsening relations with India. In response to China’s invasion of northern India in the early 1960s, the US had begun to re-arm India; in response Ayub Khan moved to establish closer ties with China. And, in 1965, Pakistan went to war briefly with India over a boundary dispute in Kashmir. Although that same year, Ayub Khan was re-elected president, the simmering Kashmir dispute and growing turmoil at home, including riots, led him to resign office in 1969. He died a few years later, in 1974. Further information can be found online at Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, or the Pakistani magazine Forum.

For several years, towards the end of his life, Ayub Khan kept a diary. Edited and annotated by Craig Baxter, this was published by Oxford University Press in 2007 as Diaries of Field Marshall Mohammed Ayub Khan 1966-1972. In an ‘Author’s Note’, he explains his reasons for keeping the diary, and why he mandated it not be published for ‘a long time’.

‘Ever since assumption of the responsible office of C-in-C of the Army on 17 January 1951, I, apart from becoming responsible for the defence of the country, also came into contact with the higher functionaries of the government at the policy making level. So, I have had the opportunity of seeing the history of Pakistan in the making and later making it myself in the capacity of President. I was often asked by friends to record my experiences for the benefit of future generations and myself felt the need for it, but somehow I never got round to writing my diary, more through lack of habit than anything else. However, when I came to writing my book Friends not Masters [OUP, 1967], I had to do it through memory. This was a very taxing and tiresome job. So, I forced myself to start writing my diary in case it was decided to write another book or use it as reference material. But one thing is clear: that this material cannot be used for a long time to come as it is bound to contain sensitive material affecting personalities or events having a bearing or relationship with, or influence on, the affairs of Pakistan. In making my comments or observations, I will do so as I honestly felt at the time. But these are liable to be misunderstood and can cause a lot of harm if divulged prematurely. Hence, the need for deferment of publication of this material until such time as it ceases to be part of contemporary history.’

A positive review of the diaries has been left by Dr Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, an associate professor at Peshawar University, on the book’s page at Amazon. He says: ‘Diaries of a person who held top posts in Pakistan are very rare. Aruba Khan’s are the only diaries yet found to have given a first-hand perspective on the important political events of the period and have further advantage of being fulsome and detailed. These diaries also have a more pertinent value than most as these can be read and assessed in conjunction with other works on Ayub Khan - such as by Lawrence Ziring and Altaf Gauhar and with his own autobiography, ‘Friends Not Masters’. In the diaries, Ayub Khan has insights which in themselves shed light on contemporary politics, help to document the relations between the government and the governed, and also provide, for the first time, an insider's viewpoint on the workings of political ruling hierarchy.’

However, a more critical view of the diaries can be found at Pakdef (which describes its main objective as ‘to provide policy-makers, the press and media, students and teachers, journalists and scholars, and the interested public with authoritative information, analysis and commentary on Pakistan’s military and geo-strategic environment’). The discussion is based on an article, written by a retired commodore of the Pakistan Air Force, S. Sajad Haider. He starts as follows: ‘Discerning observers have been deeply perturbed by the expletives used in [Ayub Khan’s diaries] against the late military ruler’s opponents and dissenters. Ayub Khan was far ahead of all other dictators and usurpers when it came to obfuscating the truth and portraying himself as a national hero. This was made possible because the plunderers and blunderers of this beleaguered nation have always left behind a powerful network of scions and beneficiaries who either kept their sins hidden away from the reach of students of history or projected themselves through propaganda sustained by the power of embezzled and stolen wealth. What stands out in some excerpts that I read of the diaries is Ayub Khan’s contempt for and denigration of every single one of his former colleagues who turned hostile to his despotic and dishonest policies and rebelled after perceptive deliberation.’

Here are several extracts from Ayub Khan’s diaries.

26 September 1966
‘The deputy foreign minister of the Soviet Union, Nikolai Pavlovich Firyubin, came to see me in Swat. His objective was to gain support on the stand they are taking on different world problems in the current General Assembly. Problems like disarmament, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, Vietnam, decolonisation, future of Southwest Africa, etc. are involved. Our views are not dissimilar.

I brought up the question of more economic aid, supply of arms and the danger of arming India to such an extent. He took note of these things and promised to convey my views to his government. The general impression one gets is that the Soviets are happy about the manner in which our relations arc developing and so are we. It is in our interest that our relations with the Soviets should gain depth. We can then develop greater leverage with the USA and India.

The Soviets seem to be hesitant in supplying us arms even though Kosygin had repeatedly promised to me. I am sending him a letter of reminder.’

27 September 1966
‘Went to the Kalam Valley at the head of Swat Valley for a day. In fact, there are two main valleys from the village of Kalam with beautiful rivers flowing through them. We motored up these valleys part of the way. The scenery was fantastic. The roads have made all the difference to the life of the people. They can get their products out and get their requirements in so cheaply. All villages are connected by a bus service. They hardly had any winter crop in the past. Now the agriculture department has developed a strain of wheat for them which does well on those heights. All this has remobilised the life of the people. There are schools, dispensaries and rest houses in all places of note.

On the way to Kalam, we found many signs of progress and prosperity. The Wali has done a lot for his people. There is a great influx of tourists, especially in the summer. Small hotels and rest houses are, therefore, springing up everywhere. The trouble with the Wali is that he is not interested in agriculture and horticulture and is not prepared to take advice or learn. If he did, a lot of development could take place increasing the income of the people and the state manifold.

The drive up the valley of Swat is by itself soul satisfying, but the beauty of the side valleys, which are many, is fantastic and breathtaking. There are good shingle roads to practically all of them.’

1 December 1966
‘Ayub Awan and the governor of West Pakistan and the defence minister came to see me to transact business. Bhutto’s acrobatics on politics were brought up by every one of them.

Mr Farooqui and the architect showed me the plan and model of president’s house in Islamabad. It looked very attractive. I told them that the cost should be kept as low as possible.

Gave a reception to the dignitaries of the Colombo Plan. The conference was held in Karachi. About seventy guests attended.

I saw a telegram from the ambassador in New Delhi that Chagla had gone back on his earlier desire to meet our foreign minister in Geneva. He refuses to discuss Kashmir. It just shows what twisters the Hindus are. They have no word of honour.’

2 December 1966
‘Went to Nawabshah for a day shoot in the Pai forest. The bag was 135 partridges. I shot 79. It was a poor shoot. Something has gone wrong. There are not so many birds there now.

Large number of people had come to see me at the airport. An address was read out inviting me to accept presidentship for twenty years. I told them that was wrong. People must exercise their right of choice every five years in accordance with the constitution. Little do they know that I should be very happy if they find someone else to replace me provided he is suitable and does not bring to naught what I have done.’

3 December 1966
‘Mr Pirzada, the foreign minister, saw me on return from Geneva where he had gone to meet our team who are fighting the Rann of Kutch case with India before the tribunal. It is understood that the Indians, finding their case weak, are now trying to gain time and influence the tribunal by other means. They have suggested to the tribunal to visit India for sightseeing and inspection of the Rann. Mr Pirzada was instructed to tell our representative on the tribunal to warn the president of the danger of this. If they listen to the Indians, they will only be exposing themselves to the charge of being bought.

Laid the foundation stone of Tibbi Institute being sponsored by Hakim Saeed. The doctors are very perturbed. They think that quacks are being given unnecessary encouragement. I warned in my address that unless Tibbis modernize their science and allow their research to be subjected to critical analysis, they would not be able to bluff their way through.

Attended a banquet given by the Pakistan British and Commonwealth Medical Council. It also included eminent scientists from several other countries. I had the pleasure of meeting several medical celebrities.’

16 March 1969
‘Yusuf Haroon has been designated as Governor of West Pakistan.

I am doubtful the two amendments we wish to bring before the assembly will go through. Even the moderates will try to outbid the extremists in demands. I have told some Punjabis to get influential Punjabis to make statements that they would not be averse to undoing West Pakistan [one unit] so as to gain the confidence of people of smaller provinces to prevent them depending too much on East Pakistanis. I have also said that two commissions should be set up to determine the financial and administrative consequences of undoing one unit. I am told the Frontier, Balochistan, and even Sindh would not be viable without substantive support from the centre. I would like a similar commission for East Pakistan. My object is to prevent rush actions being taken. Whatever is done must be scientifically considered.’

25 March 1969
‘Recorded my speech to the nation explaining why it was necessary for me to step aside.’

26 March 1969
‘Invited the members of cabinet and explained why I had resigned. It was quite obvious that the politicians are hell bent on disrupting the country, and besides, economic life was coming to a halt. Workers and even government officials had said goodbye to discipline. In any case, I could not sit on the dissolution of Pakistan by lawful or unlawful means. As a result of my resignation the governors, ministers etc. stand dismissed. I told someone jokingly that as a real general election had taken place I can see a leader for two governments in Pakistan will change [...]. I can’t see any politician of national outlook or stature rise for a long time to come. Besides democratic methods are foreign to our people.’

1 April 1969
‘Mr Suleri has written a penetrating article on the root causes of political maladies in Pakistan. I entirely agree with his diagnoses, but I don’t agree that the remedy suggested will draw much attention and bind people together. Islam, as propounded by the theologians, has ceased to be a living philosophy. It does not offer socio-economic satisfaction in an institutionalised form. Besides, the pull of parochialism and Bengali nationalism is so great that any remedy for constitution that does not take these actors into consideration is bound to fail.

I can claim this much credit that I succeeded in keeping the country together for the last ten years and made them do constructive thinking. That is no mean achievement. And if they had gone on like this for another ten years or so the country would have reached the takeoff stage and the people would have entered the scientific and technological spirit of the twentieth century. However, they decided to do otherwise, reject my system and run away from the path of progress and self-control. The result is that even the existence of the country is now in jeopardy. I hope and pray that God saves them from extracting due price for their folly.

Started for Swat where I intend staying with Naseem and Aurangzeb [daughter and son-in-law] some time before my house in Islamabad is ready for occupation. I hope to be able to rest, do some reading and have the opportunity of playing with my grandchildren. In any case Swat is a heavenly place to stay in and especially during the spring when the blossoms are out. Before leaving I met all the members of the household staff, thanked them for the service they have rendered me and assured them that my successor will take care of them. Most of them were in tears. It was inevitable. They had spent ten happy years with me and especially my wife took special care of them.

Reached Saidu Sharif midday, had lunch with the Wali, rested in the afternoon and went out for a walk. The Wali too had a spate of troubles starting with the students leading to defiance by some people whom he had nursed for so long. But it is all quiet now and people are coming to him in hoards owing allegiance. But the writing on the wall is clear. Personal rule is no longer fashionable in these times of individuals and agitations. He will be wise in making necessary changes and shedding power gradually before opposition mounts up.’

19 October 1969
‘Heard sad news this morning. Poor Nawab of Mamdot had died of heart failure. He was an old diabetic case. He was one of those who was in the vanguard of the struggle for Pakistan and suffered and sacrificed so much for the cause. May God bless his soul. I have sent a message of condolence to his wife and also asked Qasim to represent me at the funeral.

The Turkish ambassador came to deliver a reply from President Sunay and Premier Demirel to my message of congratulations on their recent electoral success. He said please let us know if there is anything we can do, we have a great regard for you and we do not change easily.

Wahiduzzaman is supposed to have told someone that Mujibur Rahmans plans are that on coming to power, he will make East Pakistan secede and declare independence, then negotiate non-aggression pact with India backed by USA and the Soviet Union. At the start, India will soon dominate East Pakistan if not physically occupy it. There are two dominant reasons. She wants East Pakistan’s jute and also the use of her waterways and the railway system for through communication to Nepal and Assam where, apart from requirement of vast trade, she needs these facilities for maintenance of the enormous army India keeps on that front. As to the expectations of American guarantees, it is nothing short of living in a fool’s paradise.’

2 December 1969
‘Shaukat Ali, son of Imran Khan, who was a friend of mine, came to see me. I had helped him to go to England to do his bar. He belongs to Dacca and was a close lieutenant of Maulana Bhashani. Now he has given him up and joined the Awami League. Talking about Bhashani, he said the old man is now 84. He had a prostrate gland operation sometime back, the doctors told him that he was good for another 20 years. I said that then God help East Pakistan. I am told that at the time of partition Nehru complained to Sir Sa’adullah of Shillong that Sylhet district was being divided and the major portion being handed over to Pakistan. He will see to its destruction. So there was no cause for worry. Bhashani has been the major disruptive actor in East Pakistan. He is an unprecedented rabble-rouser.

I understand that during the recent editors conference held by Yahya a question was asked why action was not taken against me. He replied that he had found nothing against me but if anybody has any evidence he could go to the court.

I asked my son Akhtar Ayub as to how will it do if Qayyum became the head of the Muslim League. He said that unless I was prepared to take active part in politics, the Muslim League would cease to exist. My supporters, out of consideration for me, will wait for a while, but soon they will seek alliance with others. Some will go to Daultana, others to Qayyum and so on. Most of them on the Frontier will follow Qayyum as he is the only plausible counter to the Red Shirts. Council League, through the influence of Daultana, would join them and there is a link between Mujib, Daultana and Wali Khan. Though by no means ideal, Qayyum is the lesser evil and the only alternative, so I have told him to sound out Qayyum on whether he is prepared to take the lead in the Muslim League.’

3 December 1969
‘Rashidi came to see me this morning. I particularly wanted to see him to give him a bit of my mind on scurrilous articles he had been writing about me. I reminded him of what I had done for him from time to time. I appointed him as an ambassador over the head of foreign office advice to the contrary. They told me that he was a man devoid of any character and utterly lacking in scruples. He was capable of selling the country and this proved right when we heard from several sources that he had been selling our cipher and committing many other irregularities. Later, when he returned to Pakistan, I saw to his maintenance from different sources. In return what do I get, abuse from him. He was ashamed of his conduct and tried to make lame excuses. He said he had taken the courage to call knowing that I will forgive him and so on.

Rashidi told me not to give up the Muslim League. Otherwise the field would be left free for my enemies to take their revenge on me when the assemblies come into being. The answer was to appoint a suitable vice president. He thought that Qayyum would be a liability. Yusuf Haroon, Sardar Bahadur or even Khuhro might do.

About the recent declaration of the president on constitutional matters he said he found an undercurrent of resentment in the Punjab on the break up of one unit. They feel that the cause of Pakistan has been damaged and the process of disintegration started. Whilst they had made so many sacrifices in the national interest they also feel that Bengalis and the smaller provinces are out to do Punjab down. This feeling can assume explosive proportions and there is no leader of any stature in the Punjab to hold it in check.

There is no hope of the constituent assembly succeeding. Rashidi did not see how agreement could be reached on burning issues like the system of voting, division of powers between the provinces and the centre and the second house. He was sure that there will be a breakdown and then what? Politicians will certainly be discredited.

Rashidi said that basically Bhutto is a fascist. He is power hungry and wants to misuse it and victimize people. He did a good deal of that when he was a minister. All this talk of socialism is nonsense. Sindhi Mahaz knows that and will do all in their power to see that he does not get elected from Larkana. He said that Bhutto had no chance in Larkana even if there were more than one seat in the district from the central assembly. I did not agree with that. If Khuhro is untouched in his seat, who else will compete with Bhutto. He said there is a man that is being groomed. Bhutto is asking Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi to vacate his seat for him, which is doubtful. He said the only other way Bhutto can come into power is by becoming a minister by getting around Yahya. Having done that he will turn on Yahya or he will incite young army officers to rise against Yahya. G. M. Syed told all this to Yahya. Yet Yahya sends a personal message to Bhutto when the recent scuffle took place with him in Sadiqabad. This is unheard of. Bhutto is going to make full use of it to build up his image and give credence to believe that the president is in his pocket. He said Bhutto is spending money lavishly. A large number of people are paid upwards of 500 each. Most of the press correspondents are paid. Where is he getting all this money from?

Rashidi, along with G. M. Syed and others, went to General Sher Ali [Pataudi], the minister for information. They complained that in spite of the martial law regulations, anti-lslamic and communist propaganda was being made in the press which is full of communist views. They were going to explain more but Sher Ali cut them short by saying that he has already countered 80 per cent of them, 10 per cent more are on the point of conversion and he is working on the rest. Seeing that the man’s mind was shut and he had his own make believe they decided to take leave and came away as it was no use continuing with the talk.

Some people are asking the president to make his position clear vis-a-vis the assembly. They expect him to act purely as a constitutional president. In other words, endorse what the assembly says and become ineffective.

Asghar Khan has announced today that he has decided to retire from active politics now that his limited mission of removing the corrupt and despotic regime has been achieved and a clear guarantee has been given by the president that elections will be held and democracy restored. He will watch its progress with interest.

This announcement may have been caused due to frustration with the politicians who, having used him during the upsurge, are now giving him no place in party hierarchy or it may be a trick to become neutral and be available for an office to any party that comes into power. It may also be due to realization that he has no hope of getting elected from anywhere. I think he has made soundings in many places without much hope of success. He and Bhutto would, of course, have liked to have seen the presidential system stay in which they saw chances of being selected as a candidate by one party or the other.

When Asghar Khan talks about having achieved limited objectives of mission he, in fact, together with Bhutto has done much more than that. They have between them laid the foundation of destruction of this country by playing on the sentiments of the people and misleading them.’

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Highland diarist in Ireland

‘Christmas day. What a pity - I forgot teetotalism when I mixed the puddings, and not one of the outside men would taste them. Now when those unruly people have such self-command where they think it a sin to yield to temptation, is it not plain that properly educated they would be a fine and a moral race, almost equally plain that those thousand crimes they do commit they have not been taught to consider sins.’ This is from the delightful, but opinionated, diary of Elizabeth Smith, born, in Scotland, 120 years ago today. She moved with her Irish husband to manage and improve his landed estate in County Wicklow, and her diaries are considered literary but also important for what they reveal of Ireland’s social history before and after the potato famine in the mid-19th century.

Elizabeth Grant was born on 7 May 1797 in Edinburgh to Sir Peter Grant, a lawyer and MP, and his wife, Jane. Her childhood was spent mostly at the family estate of Rothiemurchus, Strathspey, and in London, with her education provided by governesses and tutors. In her mid-20s, she was writing, and earning money from, stories for magazines such as Fraser’s and for The Inspector: a Weekly Dramatic Paper. However, her father fell into debt and, in 1827, took his family to India where he had managed to secure himself a position as a judge in Bombay. While in India, in 1829, Elizabeth married the Irishman, Henry Smith. When he inherited a neglected estate, Baltiboys, in County Wicklow, they went to Ireland, to rebuild the house and develop the farms.

Elizabeth raised three children, and actively helped to manage and improve the estate. She also continued to supplement the family income by writing. She died in 1885. Her memoir of years spent in Scotland was edited and abridged by her niece, Lady Strachey, and first published, by John Murray, in 1897 as Memoirs of a Highland Lady. This has been reprinted many times over the years, and is freely available online at Corpus of Scottish Writing (1898 edition) and Internet Archive (1911 edition). There is much less information readily available about her married life and time in Ireland, but see Wikipedia, Am Baile, Highland history and culture, the Rothiemurchus website, or the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log-in required).

From around 1840, Smith kept a diary, which she hoped would provide guidance and instruction for her children. Although she kept the diary until her death, the entries during the 1840s are considered particularly complete and informative. In 1980, the Clarendon Press published The Irish journals of Elizabeth Smith, 1840-1850: a selection, as edited by David Thomson with Moyra McGusty. Then, in 1991, Canongate Classics brought out a more complete edition of the diaries, under the title The Highland Lady in Ireland: Journals 1840-50 edited by Patricia Pelly (a great great granddaughter of the diarist) and Andrew Tod. This edition, however, omits the years from 1843 to 1845 when, in response to the Irish famine, the family moved to Paris. The publisher claims, ‘[Smith’s] sharp observations of all classes of society however, from corrupt landowners to the poor and often dissolute farm-workers, make this book a memorable and important chronicle of her times and a unique contribution to the social history of Ireland.’

According to Andrew Tod’s introduction, the diaries add to ‘the Highland lady’s reputation as an extremely distinguished diarist’, but also significantly help revise the historical picture of Irish landlordism, and give (after the family’s return from France) a day-to-day account of how the eastern part of Ireland coped with the challenges of the potato blight. Some pages of The Highland Lady in Ireland: Journals 1840-50, including the introduction, can be read online at Googlebooks. An excellent review of the diaries by Janet K. TeBrake can also be read at History Ireland.

Here are several extracts from Elizabeth Smith’s diaries.

6 February 1840
‘Very fine hunting morning, bright but cold. Had cold luncheon ready in the hall for the hunters, no one called in but the Doctor who made a good dinner and gave Janey and me a Latin lesson, and told us Lady Milltown was not well, complaining of no one ever calling on her, out of spirits. Her Lord complaining that she never dresses till near dinner-time, an idle slovenly habit she learned in France, never stirs out, she that used to be so active, he don’t know on earth what to do with her; so it must be for she has no pursuit. With that beautiful house [Russborough] full of the choicest works of art she has no pleasure in it but to see it now and then dusted, her fine family of children are no resource to her. She is incapable of assisting in their education. No reader, beyond a novel which only wearies the spirits, no worker.

And here let me remind you, dear little girls, of an old saying of dear Grandmama’s that a woman who had not pleasure in her needle was never happy, and very seldom good, it may sound a little forced but it is nevertheless perfectly true. A woman has so many solitary hours. Reading through all would be very far from profitable to her, a scientifick pursuit or a devotion to some particular art would withdraw her attention too much from these numberless little duties upon which the happiness of all around her depends.

Besides this want of occupation poor Lady Milltown has had the misfortune to yield to a vile, irritable, jealous, malicious temper which has alienated every friend, and of what avail to her is all her wit and her talent and her rank of which she is so vain now that she is getting old? The spirits that once carried her through are deserting her and she has nothing to replace them with, no one loves her, not even her children, I can’t excuse her failings though I make every allowance for her entire want of education, her early marriage to a profligate man, her later marriage to an unprincipled one, for she knows the right way, and won’t pursue it.’

9 July 1840
‘Your father says, dear children, that I shall quite frighten you into fancying your mother had been in her youth a monster of wickedness from the severity with which in mature age I have censured the follies and the flippancies of girlhood, for my indiscretions amounted to no more serious crime, bad enough. What can be more odious than a pert flirting girl, often betrayed by her giddiness into little better than a jilt. First of all inconsiderately entangled herself, then without reflecting on her duty to him whose whole object she had become or on her own feelings towards him, or on his character, or on the reasons urged against him; was easily frightened into giving him up, and weakly led to act a heartless part in affecting levity very ill timed and God knows very unlike the reality. The whole tale was melancholy, none acted rightly and each I believe suffered for it. Let it rest with the Dead.’

24 October 1840
‘The Doctor was quite agitated yesterday in telling us of a most shocking piece of negligence - worse - neglect of positive duty in our Vicar and Curate. A girl thirteen years of age, for whom they are receiving an annuity from the County, allowed to live among papists, unacquainted with the nature of an oath, remembered two years ago to have said some prayers, etc. This shocks him and others because it came before them in a Court of Justice, where her testimony could not be received by the magistrates on account of her ignorance; but I could rake up fifty such cases or such like, where the total inattention of our clergy is every day increasing evils that a generation of better care will not eradicate. And people wonder that the reformed religion does not spread here. I wonder it is tolerated - it seems to fail to produce even in gentlemen an idea of their duty. What effect can it have on the poor. Mr. Moore is greatly more culpable than Mr. Foster - he knows his duty, which the other poor creature really does not - poor Ireland!’

25 December 1840
‘Christmas day. What a pity - I forgot teetotalism when I mixed the puddings, and not one of the outside men would taste them. Now when those unruly people have such self-command where they think it a sin to yield to temptation, is it not plain that properly educated they would be a fine and a moral race, almost equally plain that those thousand crimes they do commit they have not been taught to consider sins.’

1 April 1841
‘Mr. Murray is to be buried to-morrow, there is no idea who will be the new agent, Lord Downshire not being a man of any attachments except to his purse. Tom Murray heard he meant merely to keep a common bailiff here at an inferiour salary. Ogle Moore has written to ask for the house. Will it be given? Will Mrs. Moore like coming in to play parson’s wife in the village so many miles farther from the gaieties of Dublin and nearer to clerical duties.’

The Diary Junction

Thursday, May 4, 2017

See maggots squirming

‘It is now as hot and sultry as it was ever my lot to witness. The cloudy weather and recent rains make everything damp and sticky. Wo don’t any of us sweat though, particularly, as we are pretty well dried up. Laying on the ground so much, has made sores on nearly every one here, and in many cases gangrene sets in, and they are very bad off. Have many sores on my body, but am careful to keep away the poison. To-day saw a man with a bullet hole in his head over an inch deep, and you could look down in it and see maggots squirming around at the bottom.’ This is from the astonishingly graphic diary of John L. Ransom, a Union Army soldier who was imprisoned by the Confederates during the Civil War at Andersonville. Although, initially, Ransom self-published the diary, it has long since been considered a primary source of information about the war and thus been reprinted many times, most recently by Dover Publications.

Ransom was born in Conneaut, Ohio, to Zebina and Mary Ransom, in 1843. While still in his teens, he began working as a printer for the Citizen (a predecessor of the Citizen Patriot), a newspaper based in Jackson, Michigan. In 1862, he joined the 9th Michigan Cavalry, part of the Union Army, becoming a quartermaster sergeant with Company A. However, in 1863, he was captured by the Confederates, and confined at Belle Isle, a Confederate prison on a small island in James River, near Richmond, Virginia. Some three months later, he was taken on a week-long train ride, for incarceration at a new prison in Andersonville, Georgia. Conditions there were appalling, with overcrowding, lack of food, bad water, disease; nearly a third of 45,000 prisoners died.

After around six months, during which time his weight had fallen from a little over 11 stone to six and a half stone, Ransom was transferred to the Marine Hospital at Savannah. There, he recovered, and eventually managed to escape, rejoining his unit in December 1864. After the war, he returned to work for the Citizen, which serialised a diary he had kept during his time in prison. He married twice, once to Eliza Finette Holway, who bore him a daughter, Katherine, and then, after Eliza’s death, he married Frances Wendell. He live in Auburn, New York, for a while, and also Chicago, where he died in 1919. There is very little biographical information about Ransom readily available online, but see MLive, Spartacus or a message board at Ancestry.

The diary kept by Ransom while in Anderson prison and then serialised by his newspaper was first published in its own right (privately, by Ransom himself), in 1881, as Andersonville Diary: Escape and List of the Dead (freely available at Internet Archive). Here is Ransom’s own introduction.

‘The book to which these lines form an introduction is a peculiar one in many respects. It is a story, but it is a true story, and written years ago with little idea that it would ever come into this form. The writer has been induced, only recently, by the advice of friends and by his own feeling that such a production would be appreciated, to present what, at the time it was being made up, was merely a means of occupying a mind which had to contemplate, besides, only the horrors of a situation from which death would have been, and was to thousands, a happy relief.

The original diary in which these writings were made from day to day was destroyed by fire some years after the war, but its contents had been printed in a series of letters to the Jackson, (Mich.) Citizen, and to the editor and publisher of that journal thanks are now extended for the privilege of using his files for the preparation of this work. There has been little change in the entries in the diary, before presenting them here. In such cases the words which suggest themselves at the time are best - they cannot be improved upon by substitution at a later day.

This book is essentially different from any other that has been published concerning the “late war” or any of its incidents. Those who have had any such experience as the author will see its truthfulness at once, and to all other readers it is commended as a statement of actual things by one who experienced them to the fullest. The annexed list of the Andersonville dead is from the rebel official records, is authentic, and will be found valuable in many pension cases and otherwise.’

Since its original publication, Ransom’s diary has become a primary source for US Civil War researchers, and has been reprinted many times, most recently in March 2017 by Dover Publications with the title John Ransom’s Civil War Diary: Notes from Inside Andersonville, the Civil War’s Most Notorious Prison (available to preview at Amazon). The Dover publication is an unabridged copy of Ransom’s original with one exception: it does not contain the 100 odd pages listing (in small print) the tens of thousands of names of those buried at Andersonville. Here are several extracts from the diary.

4 June 1864
‘Have not been dry for many days. Raining continually. Some men took occasion, while out after wood, to overpower the guard and take to the pines. Not yet been brought back. Very small rations of poor molasses, corn bread and bug soup.’

13 June 1864
‘It is now as hot and sultry as it was ever my lot to witness. The cloudy weather and recent rains make everything damp and sticky. Wo don’t any of us sweat though, particularly, as we are pretty well dried up. Laying on the ground so much, has made sores on nearly every one here, and in many cases gangrene sets in, and they are very bad off. Have many sores on my body, but am careful to keep away the poison. To-day saw a man with a bullet hole in his head over an inch deep, and you could look down in it and see maggots squirming around at the bottom. Such things are terrible, but of common occurrence. Andersonville seems to be head-quarters for all the little pests that ever originated - flies by the thousand millions. I have got into one bad scrape, and the one thing now is to get out of it. Can do nothing but take as good care of myself as possible, which I do. Battese works all the time at something. Has scrubbed his hands sore, using sand for soap.’

15 June 1864
‘I am sick; just able to drag around. My teeth are loose, mouth sore, with gums grown down in some places lower than the teeth and bloody, legs swollen up with dropsy, and on the road to the trenches. Where there is so much to write about, I can hardly write anything. It’s the same old story, and must necessarily be repetition. Raiders now do just as they please, kill, plunder and steal in broad daylight, with no one to molest them. Have been trying to organize a police force, but cannot do it. Raiders are the stronger party. Ground covered with maggots. Lice by the fourteen hundred thousand million infest Andersonville. A favorite game among the boys is to play at odd or even, by putting their hand inside some part of their clothing, pull out, what they can conveniently get hold of and say: “Odd or even?” and then count up and see who beats. Think this is an original game here. Never saw it at the North. Some of the men claim to have pet lice, which they have trained. Am gradually growing worse. Nothing but the good care I have taken of myself, has saved me thus far. I hope to last some time yet, and in the mean time, relief may come. My diary about written through. It may end about the same time I do, which would be a fit ending.’

2 July 1864
‘Almost the Glorious Fourth of July. How shall we celebrate? Know of no way except to pound on the bake tin, which I shall do. Have taken to rubbing my limbs, which are gradually becoming more dropsical. Badly swollen. One of my teeth came out a few days ago, and all are loose. Mouth very sore. Battese says: “We get away yet.” Works around and always busy. If any news, he merely listens and don’t say a word. Even he is in poor health, but never mentions it. An acquaintance of his says he owns a good farm in Minnesota. Asked him if he was married - says: “Oh, yes.” Any children? “Oh, yes.” This is as far as we have got his history. Is very different from Indians in general. Some of them here are despisable cowards - worse than the negro. Probably one hundred negroes are here. Not so tough as the whites. Dead line being fixed up by the Rebels. Got down in some places. Bought a piece of soap, first I have seen in many months. Swamp now in frightful condition, from the filth of camp. Vermin and raiders have the best of it. Captain Moseby still leads the villains.’

6 July 1864
‘Boiling hot, camp reeking with filth, and no sanitary privileges; men dying off over a hundred and forty per day. Stockade enlarged, taking in eight or ten more acres, giving us more room and stumps to dig up for wood to cook with. Mike Hoare is in good health; not so Jimmy Devers. Jimmy has now been a prisoner over a year, and poor boy, will probably die soon. Have more mementoes than I can carry, from those who have died, to be given to their friends at home. At least a dozen have given me letters, pictures &c., to take North. Hope I shan’t have to turn them over to some one else.’

9 July 1864
‘Battese brought me some onions, and if they ain’t good, then no matter; also a sweet potato. One-half the men here would get well if they only had something in the vegetable line to eat, or acids. Scurvy is about the most loathsome disease, and when dropsy takes hold with the scurvy, it is terrible. I have both diseases, but keep them in check, and it only grows worse slowly. My legs are swollen, but the cords are not contracted much, and I can still walk very well. Our mess all keep clean, in fact, are obliged to, or else turned adrift. We want none of the dirty sort in our mess. Sanders and Rowe enforce the rules, which is not much work, as all hands are composed of men who prefer to keep clean. I still do a little washing, but more particularly hair cutting, which is easier work. You should see one of my hair cuts. Nobby! Old prisoners have hair a foot long or more, and my business is to cut it off, which I do without regards to anything except to get it off. I should judge that there are one thousand Rebel soldiers guarding us, and perhaps a few more, with the usual number of officers. A guard told me to-day that the Yanks were “gittin licked,” and they didn’t want us exchanged, just as soon we should die here as not. A Yank. asked him if he knew what exchange meant; said he knew what shootin’ meant, and as he began to swing around his old shooting-iron, we retreated in among the crowd. Heard that there were some new men belonging to my regiment in another part of the prison; have just returned from looking after them, and am all tired out. Instead of belonging to the 9th Michigan Cavalry, they belong to the 9th Michigan Infantry. Had a good visit and quite cheered with their accounts of the war news. Some one stole Battese’s wash board, and he is mad; is looking for it - may bust up the business. Think Hub Dakin will give me a board to make another one. Sanders owns the jack-knife of this mess, and he don’t like to lend it either; borrow it to carve on roots for pipes. Actually take solid comfort “building castles in the air,” a thing I have never been addicted to before. Better than getting blue and worrying myself to death. After all, we may get out of this dodrotted hole. Always an end of some sort to such things.’

22 July 1864
‘A petition is gotten up, signed by all Sergeants in the prison, to be sent to Washington, D. C., begging to be released. Captain Wirtz has consented to let three representatives go for that purpose. Rough that it should be necessary for us to beg to be protected by our Government.’