Sunday, September 24, 2017

The thread of my observations

Today marks the tricentenary of the birth of Horace Walpole, the fourth Earl of Orford, and a remarkable man in many ways. He is remembered for reviving interest in Gothic architecture (with his Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham), for an innovative Gothic romance, for a wealth of historically important letters, as well as for his memoirs and journal. Of the latter, he said that it was ‘rather calculated for my own amusement than for posterity’ and that he liked ‘to keep up the thread of my observations’.

Horace was born on 24 September 1717 in London, the fourth son of Sir Robert Walpole who would go on to become Prime Minister in the 1720s and 1730s. He was educated at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, before taking the Grand Tour with his friend Thomas Gray. On returning to England in 1741, he became a Member of Parliament, and remained one for over 25 years. He spent the first half of the 1740s with his father in London or at the family seat at Houghton, Norfolk, where a collection of paintings inspired some of his writing.

In 1747 (his father having died in 1745), Walpole moved to Strawberry Hill, a small house in Twickenham, which he rebuilt over the next 30 years in the style of a Gothic castle. Also at Strawberry Hill, he established a small press which published many of his own works and some of Gray’s poetry. Walpole, who never married, became the 4th Earl of Orford in 1791. Although he produced much writing of varied types, including the Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto, he is most famous for his collection of more than 3,000 letters, written with grace, wit and an acute sense of friendship, which are considered to provide an excellent survey of the history, manners and tastes of the age. He died in 1797. Further biographical information is available from Wikipedia, NNDB, The New World Encyclopedia or The Oxford Dictionary Of National Biography (log-in required). Also Walpole has appeared in at least four previous Diary Review articles: Violent, absurd and mad (about Lady Mary Coke); Cole visits Walpole (about William Cole); My only anxiety (about Mary Berry), and Touring the Lake District (about Thomas Gray).

Among his many legacies, Walpole left behind a variety of memoirs and quasi diaries. There are five notebook/journals written on trips to Paris between 1765 and 1775 that are held at Yale University Library. More important, though, are his political memoirs, published as Memoirs of the Reign of King George the Second (3 vols.), Memoirs of the Reign of King George the Third (4 vols.) and Journal of the Reign of King George the Third, from the year 1771 to 1783 (2 vols.). Although the first two titles are called ‘memoirs’, and the last title is called a ‘journal’ they are all similar in style: a detailed chronological account of the author’s public life, meetings and observations (much of it a record of debates in Parliament) along with an often wry commentary. The so-called ‘journal’ does appear in places more like a diary, with dated entries, but there is also much in the narrative which is undated and reads like memoir. All the volumes of the Memoirs and the Journal are freely available online at Internet Archive.

The following extracts come the first edition of the Journal as edited by John Doran and published in 1859 by Richard Bentley. First, though, here is part of Doran’s introduction to that work.


‘The “Journals”, or, as the writer himself called them, the “Last Journals of Horace Walpole”, now published for the first time, form a continuation of his “Memoirs of the Reign of King George III”, which work terminates with the year 1771. After that year the author continued his manuscript collections under this title of “Journals”. To describe these it is only necessary to quote Walpole’s own words. In the concluding paragraph of March, 1772, he says: “This Journal is rather calculated for my own amusement than for posterity. I like to keep up the thread of my observations: if they prove useful to anybody else I shall be glad; but I am not to answer for their imperfections, as I intend this Journal for no regular work.” From numerous passages in these volumes, it will be apparent that the Journalist wrote, in more or less full detail, after he had collected a series of brief notes; and frequently he added, under entries of an earlier date, details of circumstances in connection with those entries, but the occurrence of which belonged to a later period. [. . .]

Finally, Walpole came to regard his Diary as possessing uses for others rather than providing only amusement for himself. Towards the close of his remarks, dated February 27th, 1782, he says that he has “continued it so long merely to preserve certain passages less known and to aid future historians, not intending the journalist part for any other use.” After speaking modestly of himself, his powers, his opportunities, and the employment he had made of them, he concludes by intimating, with reference to further entries, that “they will be chiefly such as I can warrant the truth of, and are not likely to be found in narratives of men much less conversant with some of the principal actors.”

In such words does Walpole describe the chief object of a Journal, the publication of which he made over to a succeeding century. The title and the epigraphs on the title-page are his own, exactly as he left them, ready for the press. The latter serve as texts for a history, ten years of which included a period of the greatest peril which ever threatened our country. Walpole has detailed the daily intrigues, the defeats and triumphs, the alternate exultation and depression, the glory and the shame, of that critical and eventful epoch.’

9 February 1773
‘9th. Lord Howe presented to the House of Commons a petition from the captains in the navy, on half-pay, for a small addition. Lord Sandwich had been against it for fear of the precedent. Lord North had intended to take no part, and though he did, for the same reasons as Lord Sandwich, had neglected taking any precautions for having it rejected. Accordingly, as the sum required was inconsiderable, as the navy had made interest for it, and the army, liking the example, would not oppose it, but absented themselves, Lord North was beaten by 154 to 45. There were, however, circumstances in this defeat that looked suspicious, and as if there were some treachery in more places than one. The Duke of Grafton’s friends openly acted against Lord North: those of the other part of the Bedford squadron absented themselves, and were known to be envious of the minister’s power: but the most remarkable incident was, that Sir Gilbert Elliot (believed to be more trusted by the King than any man except LordMansfield, and yet who for two years had acted the part of discontent) was the warmest supporter of the petition. They who had most jealousy of the King and his cabal suspected that they meant to insinuate to the navy and army that his Majesty favoured their claim, and that the Minister’s economy alone withstood it.’

18 June 1774
‘On the 18th Lord North opened the Budget, and was, as usual, ministerially admired and spoke with much wit. He went into and denied Colonel Barre’s prosperous state of the finance of France, and then lamented the late pacific King and commended the new economic King, adding that it would be very unwise in us to provoke an economic king - a timidity, however prudent, very unbecoming the dignity of a British Parliament! His lamentation was so dolorous that Burke told him he had thought his Lordship was going to move an address of condolence. T. Townshend and Burke were severe on the apostacy of Cornwall and Meredith, and on an additional pension to the Deputy Paymaster of 500l. a year, when the poor clerks in the office could not obtain a small addition.’

24 July 1774
‘Lady Holland died of an internal cancer after many months of dreadful sufferings. For some weeks she had taken 500 and 60 drops of laudanum every day.’

29 August 1774
‘Died Thomas, the new Lord Lyttelton, who had surprised the world with the badness of his heart, and with the dazzling facility of his eloquence; and who had not had time to show whether his parts were sound and deep, nor whether the reformation he had but partially affected since his father’s death was sincere, or only the momentary effort of very marked ambition. Nothing had given it the colours of shame. The Bishops, whose prostitution he had defended, would no doubt have given him absolution.’

7 November 1774
‘On the 7th died suddenly Thomas Bradshaw, that low but useful tool of Administration. His vanity had carried him to great excesses of profusion, and, being overwhelmed with debts, he shot himself. The King gave his widow so great a pension as 500l. a year, and 300l. a year for the education of the children. The Duke of Athol was drowned in his own pond about the same time.’

22 November 1774
‘22nd, died that extraordinary man, Robert Lord Clive, aged fifty. His fatigues of body and mind had greatly impaired and broken his constitution. He was grown subject to violent disorders in his bowels on any emotion, and they often were attended by convulsion. He was at Bath, but being suddenly sent for to town by Varelst, one of his Indian accomplices, on what emergency was not known, he was seized with violent pains. Dr. Fothergill, his physician, gave him, as he had been wont to do, a dose of laudanum in the evening. It did not remove his anguish, and he demanded more laudanum. Some said Fothergill told him if he took more he would be dead in an hour; others, that more was administered. It is certain that he took more without or with the privity of the physician, and did die within the time mentioned: but he certainly cut his throat. So many recent suicides gave the more weight to the belief of this. He was in his forty-ninth year.’

28 May 1775
‘28th. Arrived a light sloop sent by the Americans from Salem, with an account of their having defeated the King’s troops. General Gage had sent a party to seize a magazine belonging to the provincials at Concord, which was guarded by militia of the province in arms. The regulars, about 1000, attacked the provincials, not half so many, who repulsed them, and the latter retired to Lexington. Gage sent another party under Lord Percy to support the former; he, finding himself likely to be attacked, sent for fresh orders, which were to retreat to Boston. The country came in to support the provincials, who lost about 50 men, and the regulars 150. The advice was immediately dispersed, while the Government remained without any intelligence. Stocks immediately fell. The provincials had behaved with the greatest conduct, coolness, and resolution. One circumstance spoke a thorough determination of resistance: the provincials had sent over affidavits of all that had passed, and a colonel of the militia had sworn in an affidavit that he had given his men order to fire on the King’s troops, if the latter attacked them. It was firmness, indeed, to swear to having been the first to begin what the Parliament had named rebellion. Thus was the civil war begun, and a victory the first fruits of it on the side of the Americans, whom Lord Sandwich had had the folly and rashness to proclaim cowards.’

The Diary Junction

Friday, September 22, 2017

Queen Elizabeth I’s navel

‘She was clad in a dress of black taffeta, bound with gold lace, and like a robe in the Italian fashion with open sleeves and lined with crimson taffeta. She had a petticoat of white damask, girdled, and open in front, as was also her chemise, in such a manner that she often opened this dress and one could see all her belly, and even to her navel.’ This description of Queen Elizabeth I comes from a journal written by André Hurault de Maisse, who died all of 410 years ago today. At the time, Hurault was undertaking a diplomatic mission for King Henry IV who wanted to end France’s war with Spain.

Hurault was born around 1539. He seems to have married twice, first to Renée and then to Catherine Berziau who already had two sons. He became the foremost French diplomat of his time, being ambassador to Venice from 1582. He died on 22 September 1607. See Geni.com and Rooke Books for the very little information about him that can be found freely online and in English.

In 1597, Hurault was appointed by Henry IV of France for a special mission to England. At that time, France and England were allied in war with Spain, but Henry wanted to make peace with Spain, and needed Elizabeth’s consent to do so (under the terms of their agreement). While on that mission, he kept a journal, and it is because of this journal that Hurault is still remembered today. The journal was the prime source of an 1855 French book Elisabeth et Henri IV (1595-1598): Ambassade de Hurault de Maisse en Angleterre; and the journal first appeared in English in 1931 when Nonesuch Press published De Maisse: A Journal of all that was accomplished by Monsieur De Maisse, Ambassador to England from King Henry IV to Queen Elizabeth, as translated by G. B. Harrison and R. A. Jones. In addition to the title, the book’s front cover carries this blurb: ‘This fascinating contemporary picture, the best account there is of Queen Elizabeth, Essex, and others of the men around her at Court, is now published for the first time.’ A review of the book can be found in The Spectator archive.

Most of the entries in Hurault’s journal are long, here is one of them.

15 December 1597
‘I thought that I should have appeared before the Queen. She was on point of giving me audience, having already sent her coaches to fetch me, but taking a look into her mirror said that she appeared too ill and that she was unwilling for anyone to see her in that state; and so countermanded me.

To-day she sent her coaches and one of her own gentlemen servants to conduct me. When I alighted from my coach Monsieur de Mildmay, formerly ambassador in France, came up to me and led me to the Presence Chamber, where the Lord Chamberlain came to seek me as before and conducted me to the Privy Chamber where the Queen was standing by a window. She looked in better health than before. She was clad in a dress of black taffeta, bound with gold lace, and like a robe in the Italian fashion with open sleeves and lined with crimson taffeta. She had a petticoat of white damask, girdled, and open in front, as was also her chemise, in such a manner that she often opened this dress and one could see all her belly, and even to her navel. Her head tire was the same as before. She had bracelets of pearl on her hands, six or seven rows of them. On her head tire she wore a coronet of pearls, of which five or six were marvellously fair. When she raises her head she has a trick of putting both hands on her gown and opening it insomuch that all her belly can be seen. She greeted me with very good cheer and embraced me, and then, having been some three feet from the window, she went and sat down on her chair of state and caused another to be brought to me, taking care to make me cover, which I did. The business that was accomplished is written in my despatch to the King of the 16th of this month. Speaking of Brittany, she said that the King would no longer go there, and that it was made a present to a lady whom she knew not how to name. Afterwards she corrected herself; she said several times: “Gabrielle, that is the name of an angel; but there has never been a female.”

She often called herself foolish and old, saying she was sorry to see me there, and that, after having seen so many wise men and great princes, I should at length come to see a poor woman and a foolish. I was not without an answer, telling her the blessings, virtues and perfections that I had heard of her from stranger Princes, but that was nothing compared with what I saw. With that she was well contented, as she is when anyone commends her for her judgment and prudence, and she is very glad to speak slightingly of her intelligence and sway of mind,so that she may give occasion to commend her. She said that it was but natural that she should have some knowledge of the affairs of the world, being called thereto so young, and having worn that crown these forty years; but she said, and repeated often, that it came from the goodness of God, to which she was more beholding than anyone in the world. Thereupon she related to me the attempts that had been made as much against her life as against her state, holding it marvellous strange that the King of Spain should treat her in a fashion that she would never have believed to proceed from the will of a Prince; yet he had caused fifteen persons to be sent to that end, who had all confessed. Thereupon she related that one of her treasurers of finance had told her that it was the force of love which made the King of Spain behave so, and that it was a dangerous kind of love; she would a thousand times rather be dead than win so much from him, and if she had one of her subjects and Councillors who had attempted or counselled any man to attempt such an act she would have put him to death forthwith; but she was in God’s keeping. When anyone speaks of her beauty she says that she was never beautiful, although she had that reputation thirty years ago. Nevertheless she speaks of her beauty as often as she can. As for her natural form and proportion, she is very beautiful; and by chance approaching a door and wishing to raise the tapestry that hung before it, she said to me laughing that she was as big as a door, meaning that she was tall.

It is certain that she was very greatly displeased that the King was unwilling to come and see her as he had promised, for she greatly desires these favours, and for it to be said that great princes have come to see her. During the siege of Rouen, thinking that the King was to come and see her, she went to Portsmouth with a great train, and she appeared to be vexed and to scoff that the King had not come thither.

The first time that the late Duke of Anjou came to England privately without letting himself be seen, and had only reached Greenwich, there came news of a very great illness that befell the late King, which lasted for a short while. It was then proposed in her Council to detain him on the ground that the passport which had been given to him was only as “Monsieur” and not as the King of France. They had expressly invented this subtilty, but she always resisted it and would none of it. The King, however, being in good health, there was no need of this counsel.

I departed from her audience at night, and she retired half dancing to her chamber, where is her spinet which she is content that everyone should see. The Lord Chamberlain conducted me to the door at the entrance of the Presence Chamber, and then Monsieur Mildmay conducted me to my coach.

Before I went to find her Majesty, Stafford came to entertain me in the Presence Chamber. He ought to be in the Council of State, and it should be noted that the King should entertain him as one well versed in the affairs of France and inclined to her; and one could use him.’

The Diary Junction

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chief atom bomb adviser

‘We had news this morning of another successful atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki. These two heavy blows have fallen in quick succession upon the Japanese and there will be quite a little space before we intend to drop another. During that time I hope something may be done in negotiating a surrender.’ This is from the diary of Henry L. Stimson, born 150 years ago today, who was chief adviser on atomic matters to US Presidents during the Second World War. His extensive and detailed diaries provide a primary resource for historians of the period.  

Stimson was born on 21 September 1867 in New York City, the son of a prominent surgeon. His mother died when he was nine, after which was sent to boarding school, spending summers with his grandmother at her Catskills country house. He was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, then at Yale College, graduating in 1888. He attended Harvard Law School before joining the Wall Street law firm of Root and Clark. In 1893, he married Mabel Wellington White, but they had no children. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and in 1910 he stood, unsuccessfully, for election as governor of New York. However, the following year, President William Howard Taft appointed him Secretary of War. He continued with a reorganisation of the army, begun by Elihu Root, until Taft was succeeded by President Woodrow Wilson.

Stimson served in the regular US Army in France as an artillery officer, reaching the rank of colonel. After the war, he continued military service in the Organized Reserve Corps, rising to the rank of brigadier general. President Calvin Coolidge sent him to Nicaragua to negotiate an end to the civil war there; and he was Governor-General of the Philippines from 1928 to 1929. Under President Herbert Hoover, he served as Secretary of State until 1933. Thereafter, out of office, he was a vocal supporter of strong opposition to Japanese aggression.

With the outbreak of World War II, Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought Republican Stimson, by this time 73 years old, into government as head of the War Department. In this role, he supervised the expansion and training of an expanded US army. He was also chief adviser to Roosevelt and then to President Harry S. Truman on atomic policy. Indeed, he advised Truman to use atomic bombs on Japanese cities of military importance, and later he justified the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on humanitarian grounds, arguing that use of the bomb accelerated the surrender of Japan and thus saved more lives than it cost. He left public service in 1945, and wrote an autobiography - On Active Service in Peace and War - published in 1948. He died in 1950. Further information is available from Wikipedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, a New York Times obituary, Yale University, or History Net.

Stimson kept a diary from 1909 until his last day in public office in 1945. In 1948, he named Yale University Library as the depository for these diaries (as well as for his other papers). The 52 diary volumes - mostly dictated typescripts - arrived at Yale in 1956; each contains an average of about 180 pages. In 1971, the library’s Manuscripts and Archives department, with the permission of the Stimson Literary Trust, undertook to index the diaries and to (micro)film them for publication. According to Herman Kahn, Associate Librarian for Manuscripts and Archives at the time, ‘the Stimson diaries are probably the best known and most intensively studied single source in twentieth century United States history’.

A useful guide to the microfilm edition of the diaries can be found online at the website of the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies. It says: ‘Although the diaries are full of strongly expressed views on people, issues, and events, many statements are veiled or guarded, and revelations of the private man are few and inadvertent. As a political document, however, and as a political testament the diaries stand as a significant personal account of the career of an American statesman of the first rank.’ The diaries have not - as far as I know - ever been published in print form. However, some selected extracts can be found online, with Yale University Library’s authorisation, at Doug Long’s Hiroshima website. Long, himself, provides many notes and contextual remarks in square brackets and italics. Here are two extracts, as provided, and commented on, by Long - the second being from the day of the second atomic bomb, dropped on Nagasaki.

23 July 1945
‘At ten o’clock Secretary Byrnes called me up asking me as to the timing of the S-1 program. I told him the effect of the two cables [from Harrison] and that I would try to get further definite news. I dictated a cable to Harrison asking him to let us know immediately when the time [for the use of the a-bomb on Japan] was fixed.”

‘At ten-fifteen Ambassador [to Moscow W. Averell] Harriman arrived and he and [Assistant Sec. of War John] McCloy, Bundy, and I had a talk over the situation [relations with Russia], Harriman giving us the information of yesterday afternoon’s meetings. He commented on the increasing cheerfulness evidently caused by the news from us [about the atomic bomb], and confirmed the expanding demands being made by the Russians. They are throwing aside all their previous restraint as to being only a Continental power and not interested in any further acquisitions, and are now apparently seeking to branch in all directions.’

‘At eleven o’clock I went down to the ‘Little White House’ to try to see the President or Byrnes. I am finding myself crippled by not knowing what happens in the meetings [between Truman, Churchill, and Stalin] in the late afternoon and evening. This is particularly so now that the program for S-1 is tying in [with] what we are doing in all fields. When I got there I found Byrnes out, and I asked for the President who saw me at once. I told him that it would be much more convenient for me to form my program on the military side if I could drop in early every morning and talk with him or Byrnes of the events of the preceding day. He told me at once to come; that he would be glad to see me every morning and talk over these matters with me. I then told him of matters that came up in the conference with Mr. Harriman this morning which I just referred to, and told him that I had sent for further more definite information as to the time of operation [when the a-bomb would be ready for Japan] from Harrison. He told me that he had the warning message which we prepared on his desk [The Potsdam Proclamation surrender demand for Japan; see the July 2, 1945 Diary Entry in Stimson Diary, Part 6], and had accepted our most recent change in it, and that he proposed to shoot it out as soon as he heard the definite day of the operation [when the a-bomb would be ready for Japan]. We had a brief discussion about Stalin’s recent expansions and he confirmed what I have heard. But he told me that the United States was standing firm and he was apparently relying greatly upon the information as to S-1. He evidently thinks a good deal of the new claims of the Russians are bluff, and told me what he thought the real claims were confined to.’

‘After lunch and a short rest I received Generals Marshall and Arnold, and had in McCloy and Bundy at the conference. The President had told me at a meeting in the morning that he was very anxious to know whether Marshall felt that we needed the Russians in the war or whether we could get along without them, and that was one of the subjects we talked over. [Until now Truman had said getting Russia into the war against Japan was what he came to Potsdam for; see Truman’s July 18, 20, and 22 letters to his wife Bess in The Truman Diary]. Of course Marshall could not answer directly or explicitly. We had desired the Russians to come into the war originally for the sake of holding up in Manchuria the Japanese Manchurian Army [so that Japan could not move them to the Japanese mainland to fight U.S. troops in an invasion]. That now was being accomplished as the Russians have amassed their forces on that border, Marshall said, and were poised, and the Japanese were moving up positions in their Army. But he pointed out that even if we went ahead in the war without the Russians, and compelled the Japanese to surrender to our terms, that would not prevent the Russians from marching into Manchuria anyhow and striking, thus permitting them to get virtually what they wanted in the surrender terms. Marshall told us during our conference that he thought thus far in the military conference they had handled only the British problems and that these are practically all settled now and probably would be tied up and finished tomorrow. He suggested that it might be a good thing, something which would call the Russians to a decision one way or the other, if the President would say to Stalin tomorrow that ‘inasmuch as the British have finished and are going home, I suppose I might as well let the American Chiefs of Staff go away also’ that might bring the Russians to make known what their position was and what they were going to do, and of course that indicated that Marshall felt as I felt sure he would that now with our new weapon we would not need the assistance of the Russians to conquer Japan.’

‘There was further talk about the war in the Pacific in the conference. Apparently they have been finding it very hard to get along with [Commanding General of the U.S. Army Forces in the Pacific Douglas] MacArthur, and Marshall has been spending most of his time in conferences in smoothing down the Navy.’


‘I talked to Marshall about the preparation of S-1 and he gave us a bad picture of the rainy season weather in Japan at this time and said that one thing that might militate against our attack was the low ceiling and heavy clouds, although there were breaks and good days in between.’

‘In the evening I received a telegram from Harrison giving me the exact dates as far as possible when they expected to have S-1 ready, and I answered it with a further question as to further future dates of the possibility of accumulation of supplies.” [Harrison’s telegram informed Stimson that regarding use of the a-bomb on Japan, there was “some chance August 1 to 3, good chance August 4 to 5 and barring unexpected relapse almost certain before August 10.’ (U.S. Dept. of State, “Foreign Relations of the U.S., The Conference of Berlin (Potsdam) 1945”, vol. 2, pg. 1374.)].

9 August 1945
‘When I reached the office this morning I found that the affirmative news for the press conference was so light that Surles thought we had better call the conference off and simply have me make a direct statement on the effect of the success of the atomic bomb on the future size of the Army. It seems as if everybody in the country was getting impatient to get his or her particular soldier out of the Army and to upset the carefully arranged system of points for retirement which we had arranged with the approval of the Army itself. The success of the first atomic bomb and the news of the Russians’ entry into the war which came yesterday [Russia declared war on Japan on Aug. 8] has rather doubled this crusade. Every industry wishes to get its particular quota of men back and nearly all citizens join in demanding somebody to dig coal for the coming winter. The effect on the morale of the Army is very ticklish... I could see in my recent trip to Europe [in July to the Potsdam Conference] what a difficult task at best it will be to keep in existence a contented army of occupation and, if mingled with the inevitable difficulties there is a sense of grievance against the unfairness of the government [in releasing soldiers from the Army], the situation may become bad. Consequently the paper that we drew last night and continued today was a ticklish one. The bomb and the entrance of the Russians into the war will certainly have an effect on hastening the victory. But just how much that effect is on how long and how many men we will have to keep to accomplish that victory, it is impossible yet to determine. There is a great tendency in the press and among other critics to think that the Army leaders have no feeling for these things and are simply determined to keep a big army in existence because they like it, and therefore it is ticklish to run head on into this feeling with direct counter criticism. Therefore we tried to draft a paper which would make the people feel that we appreciated their views as well as ours...’

[A copy of Stimson’s above mentioned statement can be found at Press release on the a-bombing and demobilization].

‘The press conference thus being off at ten o’clock, I went over to the White House to meet the President who had called a hearing on whether or not we should put out a scientists’ statement as to the making of the atomic bomb. It was a very difficult question for the President and he handled it with great courage and skill. We had given him all the support that we could in the care with which the statement was drawn so as not to give away any secret which would really help a rival to build on our foundations. But the subject was so vast and the scientists’ report was so voluminous that it was impossible for a layman like the President or Byrnes or myself to determine this question and we had to rely upon the opinions of our scientific advisers. I had been through with a preliminary meeting last week in which I sounded out the British scientists as well as our own, and today the President listened to Dr. [Vannevar] Bush, Dr. Conant [Manhattan Project advisors], General Groves, and George Harrison, while Byrnes and I also sat in. After he had heard them all, with great promptness and decision he decided to act on the recommendation of the scientists that the statement [the Smyth Report] should be published at once.’

‘After that meeting was over I conferred with Byrnes in an adjoining room. I had asked for this meeting for the purpose of showing him the paper that I had received from Crossman drawn by deForest Van Slyck and the letter and article which I had received from Stanley Washburn. These papers each in their way advocated strongly and intelligently a sympathetic handling of the Japanese in negotiating a surrender [an interesting point from Stimson - to end the war, some degree of negotiation would be necessary]. The difficult thing is to get negotiators together and I urged very strongly on Byrnes that he should make it as easy as possible for the Japanese.’

‘We had news this morning of another successful atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki. These two heavy blows have fallen in quick succession upon the Japanese and there will be quite a little space before we intend to drop another. During that time I hope something may be done in negotiating a surrender. I have done the best I could to promote that in my talks with the President and with Byrnes and I think they are both in full sympathy with the aim.’

‘Tomorrow we [Stimson and his wife] hope to get off for a long rest to Highhold and St. Hubert’s.’ [St. Hubert’s was a club in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state where Stimson sometimes went to relax. But Stimson’s departure would be delayed; just as he was about to leave on Aug. 10, the first Japanese offer to surrender arrived.].

Working with Kevin

Happy 60th birthday Kevin Rudd! I’ve no idea if the ex-prime minister of Australia has ever kept a diary, but for the length of his first term as prime minister his chief speechwriter, Tim Dixon, did. Following Rudd’s retirement from domestic politics, Dixon published extracts of his diary on an Australian news website. They are not flattering: ‘The challenge working with Kevin is that he tends to create this highly pressured environment that brings anxiety and terseness, rather than creating an environment of hard working enthusiastic cooperation. It leaves lots of people feeling unhappy.’

Rudd was born on 21 September 1957 in Nambour, Queensland, and grew up on a dairy farm. His childhood was somewhat traumatic as he suffered from chronic illness and then, aged 11, from the death his father. He went to boarding school for a while, and then Nambour State High School where he excelled, not least at public speaking. Aged 15, he joined the Australian Labour Party. He graduated in Asian studies from the Australian National University, Canberra, and then travelled to Taiwan to continue his studies, becoming proficient in Mandarin. In 1981, he married Thérèse Rein, and they have three children. The same year, he joined the Department of Foreign Affairs, serving as a diplomat, at various embassies (including Beijing).

In 1988, Rudd returned to Queensland, where he became chief of staff for Wayne Goss, state opposition leader and then premier. Rudd went on to serve as director general of the state cabinet office from 1992 to 1995, before moving to the private sector, and working as a senior China consultant for the KPMG. After standing unsuccessfully for the seat of Griffith, Queensland, in the federal House of Representatives in 1986, he stood again successfully two years later. He rose through the Australian Labor Party (ALP) ranks, until, after the 2001 election, he was appointed shadow minister for foreign affairs opposing John Winston Howard’s coalition, and was particularly vocal in calling for Australian troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. In 2006, Rudd was chosen as party leader, and the following year, when the ALP was elected to government, he was sworn in as prime minister.

Rudd’s premiership was characterised by policies on health reform and climate change, but he proved in effective, and his popularity soon waned. In 2010 he resigned allowing Julia Gillard to take over the party leadership and as prime minister. He remained in government as minister for foreign affairs.  Infighting within the party, however, continued, and Rudd emerged as leader again in 2013. Less than three months later, though, the ALP lost a general election, and Rudd stepped down as leader and then from parliament altogether. Since then, he has been active in various international roles. Further information is available from Kevin Rudd’s own website, National Archives of Australia, or Wikipedia,

When Rudd took over as leader of the opposition in 2006, Tim Dixon was already working for the office as a senior economic adviser and speechwriter (previously he’d been an international lawyer). He remained chief speechwriter for Rudd throughout his first term as prime minister. Subsequently, he wrote several economics books and co-founded Purpose Europe (see Linkedin for more information). In 2015, he contributed an article to ABC News with extracts from a diary he’d kept while working for Rudd.

Dixon introduces his diary extracts as follows: ‘In politics today, life is lived minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour. A prime minister’s staff is endlessly in motion, caught in the crises of the day yet also charged with developing policy and strategy for the long term. As chief speechwriter, and before that as economics adviser, it felt like having to write 3,000 words of Hemingway prose every day while strapped to a rollercoaster. These diary selections, often scribbled at the back of a plane or in a hotel room at midnight, provide a human insight into life in Kevin Rudd’s and then Julia Gillard’s prime ministerial office.’ Here are some of the diary extracts he published in the article.

24 December 2006
‘I keep telling people - I do feel a lot more like I’m working for the guy who will be Prime Minister. If sheer determination was all that was required I think he’d get the prize. Kevin has an extraordinary, voracious appetite for information and briefings. I have prepared an enormous amount of briefing material for him in the past few days - everything from the Tasmanian forests issues to Commonwealth/State relations to dental health to industrial relations. . .

But this is the difference in the environment of working with Kevin - a lot more energy, a lot more anxiety. And a lot more work. . .’

24 January 2007
‘The challenge working with Kevin is that he tends to create this highly pressured environment that brings anxiety and terseness, rather than creating an environment of hard working enthusiastic cooperation. It leaves lots of people feeling unhappy. . .’

25 November 2007
‘Sunday morning 7am. A new day. Kevin now PM. What a historic night - the largest swing in over 30 years. No ambiguity about that. Howard destroyed by his own ideology. And swings in northern Queensland of up to 14 per cent - absolutely stunning results. . .

And it remains all a bit surreal, a bit unbelievable. But three years of hard yakka, of enormous effort and suspension of everything else in life - three years of that has paid off. . .’

26 April 2008
‘The budget process is preoccupying much of the office at the moment. Kevin is so preoccupied with day to day media that he doesn’t get into the substance of reading the folders full of information that need to be processed for the Budget process - so decisions are being pushed further and further back. . .

I was thinking yesterday why I was successful in finding the voice of Kim Beazley and even Mark Latham but can’t find Kevin’s voice in writing for him. Part of the answer is that he’s the least authentic - and I’m not sure what he thinks his core is, beyond a general Labor belief in compassion and equity. Many of his instincts are opposed to the Labor Party. . .’

6 February 2009
‘The Government announced a $42 billion economic stimulus package this week, as well as announcing a $22 billion deficit for the current financial year as revenues collapse and spending increases. Kevin sure loves big spending programs - but he’s desperate to avoid a recession, and if he pulls that off he’ll be credited with an extraordinary achievement given the severity of the recession in the rest of the world. We’ll see. [A senior staffer] in his office this week made the insightful observation that Kevin - and his chief of staff Alister - is a crisis personality. He feeds off crisis; he makes his best decisions in a crisis. . .’

24 October 2009
‘Wednesday morning [Kevin] decided to fly that afternoon to Hobart to the National Council meeting of the Shop + Distributive Alliance [sic] (SDA) union, the socially conservative retail workers’ union. . .

It makes sense that Kevin courts them as they are a natural ally against a future challenge. It was funny listening to Kevin talking to Senator Jacinta Collins, the SDA-nominated senator from Victoria, at the end of the trip - the nonsense of “you know, I just think it’s important if we’re going to be a long-term government that we develop long-term relationships.” In other words, if he wants to keep the leadership in the long-term, he needs to build a long-term factional base. . . The remarkable thing is how long it has taken him to understand that. He’s been squandering political capital since day one but at last perhaps is realising he needs to invest in it.’

18 May 2010
‘So Rudd has suffered what is I think the second largest collapse in voter support in polling history. But there’s also a way in which this just reflects his own approach to politics. He sees it as a rational process where you can make the right decisions simply by absorbing more and more information about polling research and policy - there’s no sense of the gut feel or intuition. . . He wants to be on the 50 per cent plus one side of every argument.’

10 June 2010
‘Then David Marr wrote a Quarterly Essay - a major piece on the personality of Kevin Rudd, essentially arguing that he is driven by anger and is very much disliked in Canberra. I think it’s a good piece but it misses the point a little in focusing on Kevin being angry - I think the root is insecurity and anxiety, which translates into anger when he feels he is losing control of things. Anyhow, the consequence of this is that Kevin is weakened and needs to work more closely with colleagues. . .’

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Many things have happened

‘Well, here I am aboard ship and three days out of New York, waiting for a convoy at Halifax. This seems to be a fitting place to start a diary. I am leaving my continent as well as my country and am going forth in search of adventure, which I hope to find in Italy, for that is where we are headed.’ This is the first entry, dating from 100 years ago today, in a diary written by a young aviator on his way to serve with the British in the First World War; one of the last entries starts with the words ‘many things have happened’ and includes a roll call of the dead. The aviator would soon be killed in action, and some years later his diary would be published as War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator. Although the diary’s actual author was identified in later editions as John MacGavock Grider, no explanation was given as to the anomaly of the diary continuing until August 1918, Grider having died in June. However, a new edition of War Birds explains that, in fact, the text is not one person’s diary but a construction created from several aviators’ diaries, letters and the like.

Grider was born in Mississippi County in 1892, and worked on his father’s farm. In 1909, he married Marguerite Samuels, and they had two sons, but divorced in 1916. The following year, he traveled to Chicago to enlist as a cadet in the aviation section of the US Army Signal Corps. The US still had no air service, and so young aviators, like Girder, were sent to serve with the British. Initially stationed in Oxford, he and his friend Elliot White Springs were assigned to No. 85 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, and were soon flying missions over France. Grider had only been in France a month when his plane disappeared. Subsequently, a German pilot confirmed his plane had been shot down on 18 June. For more on Grider see the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture; and for more on Springs see The Shrine of Dreams.

Some years later, in 1926, Springs privately published a limited edition of a book he called War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator (freely available to read at Internet Archive). The book was then serialised in a magazine called Liberty, and became a best seller with further mass produced editions. In these, Springs made reference to his friend Grider as being the author of the diary, and that Grider had wanted his memoirs published. (However, by this time Grider’s family had successfully sued Springs for having used Grider’s dairy.) In the original 1926 publication, Springs provides no introduction or foreword, and the book begins with the diarist’s entry for 20 September 1917 - as reproduced in full below. The last entry is marked as having ‘no date’, but before that one are many entries from August. However, this creates an obvious anomaly since Grider died in June. The anomaly and authorship of War Birds are referenced in several threads on the Aerodrome website, but are also discussed by Mark Hillier in his introduction to a new edition of the diary: War Birds - The Diary of a Great War Pilot (Frontline Books, 2016).

According to Frontline Books: ‘War Birds records in detail the stresses of training and the terror and elation of failure and success during combats with the enemy the First World War. This unique edition of War Birds has been produced from a copy owned by another officer from 85 Squadron, Lieutenant Horace Fulford. In his copy, Fulford made numerous hand-written annotations and stuck in a number of previously unpublished photographs - all of which have been faithfully reproduced.’

In discussing the anomaly of authorship, Hillier states: ‘Of great relevance to this subject is the book entitled Letters from a War Bird: The World War I Correspondence of Elliott White Springs. Edited by David K. Vaughan, this publication not only sets out all of Springs’ letters, notes and extracts from his log book, but analyses the structure of War Birds and how extracts from the letters were incorporated into the text. It reveals that one of Springs’ letters states that War Birds was ‘based largely on my letters, my diary and my combat reports. I also used [Eugene] Barksdale’s diary and supplementary matters given to me by [Robert] Kelly and [Larry] Callahan.’ Also of interest is the fact that Springs is quoted as saying that the diary ‘became the actual history’ of the 210 [total] US Air Service cadets who went over to the UK and served with the RFC or USAS under RFC control, which implies that its purpose was more of a representation of the experiences of all of them rather than a tribute to one.’

Here is the first entry, dating from 100 years ago, in the original diary, as well as the last dated entry.

20 September 1917
‘Aboard R. M. S. Carmania in the harbor of Halifax.

Well, here I am aboard ship and three days out of New York, waiting for a convoy at Halifax. This seems to be a fitting place to start a diary. I am leaving my continent as well as my country and am going forth in search of adventure, which I hope to find in Italy, for that is where we are headed. We are a hundred and fifty aviators in embryo commanded by Major MacDill, who is an officer and a gentleman in fact as well as by Act of Congress. We are traveling first class, thanks to him, tho we are really only privates, and every infantry officer on board hates our guts because we have the same privileges they do. Capt. Swan, an old Philippine soldier, is supply officer.

This morning when we steamed into harbor, which is a wonderful place, we found five or six transports already here. The soldiers on them, all that could, got into the boats and came over to see us. They rowed around and around our boat and cheered and sang. They were from New Zealand and a fine husky bunch they were. One song went: “Onward, conscript soldiers, marching as to war, You would not be conscripts, had you gone before.”

This is a beautiful place. I expect my opinion is largely due to my frame of mind, but it really is pretty. Low jagged hills form the horizon and on the south side of the river as we came up, is solid rock with a little dirt over it in spots but the rock sticking thru everywhere like bones thru a poor horse.

We went thru two submarine nets stretched across the mouth of the harbor. I wish I had words to describe the feeling I had when all the soldiers in the harbor came over to tell us howdy. One New Zealander, I think he was a non-com, stood up in the back of the boat and said, “You fellows don’t look very happy.” And I guess our boys don’t at that - the doughboys, I mean. We’ve got over two thousand of them on board of the 9th Infantry Regiment of the regular army. Anyway, New Zealand beat us cheering with their full throated, “Hip Hurrah Hip Hurrah Hip Hurrah!” But they said they were five weeks out and knew each other pretty well, while our boys aren’t acquainted yet.

I have a stateroom with Lawrence Callahan from Chicago, who roomed with me at Ground School, where we suffered together under Major Kraft and had a lot of fun from time to time in spite of him. We almost got separated at New York as he was going to France with another detachment over at Governor’s Island. I got Elliott Springs, our top sergeant, to get the Major to have him transferred to us. We had a good crowd over at Mineola and I saw him in town and he told me he was in a rotten bunch over there. I was a sergeant as Springs had me promoted because I took a squad out and unloaded a carload of canned tomatoes after two others had fallen down on the job. We got him transferred all right and then he got mad as fury at Springs because he made him peel potatoes for four days for chewing gum in ranks. On the fourth day Cal told Springs how much trouble he had taken to join his outfit and that he hadn’t come prepared to be a perpetual kitchen police. Springs said he was very glad to have him but if he wanted to chew gum in ranks he’d have to peel potatoes the rest of the day every time he did it. Cal said he’d already been assigned to the job for four days. Springs said he knew it but that so far he hadn’t peeled a single potato and he was going to get one day’s work out of him if he had to chain him to the stove to do it. Cal won tho, because Springs was too busy to watch him and he never did finish one pan of spuds.

I’ve got to go to boat drill now. We practice abandoning ship every day.

That’s over. My platoon is assigned to the top deck and Captain La Guardia is in charge of our boat. He is a congressman from New York City and learned to fly last year. He is an Italian so was sent over with us. He managed to bring along two of his Italian ward bosses as cooks. One of them owns a big Italian restaurant and yet here he is as a cook. And he can’t cook!

I probably won’t write much in this thing. I never have done anything constantly except the wrong thing, but I want a few recollections jotted down in case I don’t get killed.

I am going to make two resolutions and stick to them. I am not going to lose my temper any more  - I fight too much. And I am going to be very careful and take care of myself. I am not going to take any unnecessary chances. I want to die well and not be killed in some accident or die of sickness - that would be terrible, a tragic anticlimax. I haven’t lived very well but I am determined to die well. I don’t want to be a hero - too often they are all clay from the feet up, but I want to die as a man should. Thank God, I am going to have the opportunity to die as every brave man should wish to die - fighting - and fighting for my country as well. That would retrieve my wasted years and neglected opportunities.

But if I don't get killed, I want to be able to jog my memory in my declining years so I can say, “Back in 1917 when I was an aviator, I used to - !”

I’ll probably not write any more for a week, or perhaps no more at all.’

27 August 1918
August 27th
Many things have happened. I hear that Bobby got shot down up at Dunkirk and is no more. Tommy Herbert has been shot in the rear with a phosphorus bullet. Leach has been shot thru the shoulder and isn’t expected to pull thru. Explosive bullet. Read is dead and so is Molly Shaw.

Alex Mathews is dead. He was walking across the airdrome after a movie show over at 48 and a Hun bomber saw the light when the door was opened and dropped a two hundred and twelve pound bomb on him. They dropped about thirty bombs on the airdrome and killed about forty of 48’s men and set fire to the hangars. They broke all the bottles in our bar. Cal and Nigger and I were further ahead and threw ourselves into a ditch. Nothing hit us but we sure were uncomfortable. The night flying Camels brought down one of the Huns, it had five engines and a crew of six men. It came down in flames and lit up the whole place. Barksdale got shot down in an S. E. and landed in German territory but set fire to his plane and got in a shell hole and covered himself up with dirt. The next morning the British attacked and took that sector. Barksdale said the Scotsman who pulled him out couldn’t speak English any better than the Germans and he thought he was a prisoner at first.

One of our noblest he-men, a regular fire-eater to hear him tell it, has turned yellow at the front. He was quite an athlete and always admitted he was very hot stuff. He was ordered up on a bomb raid and refused to go. The British sent him back to American Headquarters with the recommendation that he be court-martialed for cowardice. He would have been too, if his brother hadn’t have been high up on the A. E. F. staff. He pulled some bluff about the machines being unsafe and they finally sent him home as an instructor and promoted him. He may strut around back home but I’ll bet he never can look a real man in the eye again.

Springs had a wheel shot off in the air last week. Ralston came back and took up a wheel to show him and everybody ran about the airdrome firing Very pistols and holding up wheels for him to see. He understood and sideslipped down all right without killing himself. He said he saw a Dolphin pilot kill himself several weeks ago landing with a wheel gone. The Dolphin pilot didn’t know it was off and the plane turned over on him.

Bonnalie was never considered much of a pilot. He was an aeroplane designer before he enlisted and knew a lot of theory but he took a long time to learn to fly and no one thought he would ever be much good. He put on one of the best shows on record and has been decorated with the D. S. O. His citation appeared in The Gazette. [. . .]

17 and 148 have been having a hard time. 17 has lost Campbell, Hamilton, Glenn, Spidlc, Grade, Case, Shearman, Shoemaker, Roberts, Bittinger, Jackson, Todd, Wise, Thomas, Frost, Wicks, Tillinghast and a couple of others. Hamilton and Tipton were the two best Camel pilots we had. And they have about six others in the hospital too. Wicks and Shoemaker collided in a fight.

148 has lost Curtis, Forster, Sicbald, Frobisher, Mandell, Kenyon and Jenkinson; and Dorsey and Wiley and Zistell are in the hospital. Jenkinson, Forster and Siebald went down in flames. Frobisher was shot thru the stomach and died later.

Of course that’s not a bad showing when you consider that they have shot down a lot of Huns and done a lot of ground straffing and have been flying Camels which were all the British could spare them. The British have washed out the Camels and are refitting their own squadrons with Snipes. A Camel can’t fight a Fokker and the British know it.

But we’ve lost a lot of good men. It’s only a question of time until we all get it. I’m all shot to pieces. I only hope I can stick it. I don’t want to quit. My nerves are all gone and I can’t stop. I’ve lived beyond my time already.

It’s not the fear of death that’s done it. I’m still not afraid to die. It’s this eternal flinching from it that’s doing it and has made a coward out of me. Few men live to know what real fear is. It’s something that grows on you, day by day, that eats into your constitution and undermines your sanity. I have never been serious about anything in my life and now I know that I’ll never be otherwise again. But my seriousness will be a burlesque for no one will recognize it. Here I am, twenty-four years old, I look forty and I feel ninety. I’ve lost all interest in life beyond the next patrol. No one Hun will ever get me and I’ll never fall into a trap, but sooner or later I’ll be forced to fight against odds that are too long or perhaps a stray shot from the ground will be lucky and I will have gone in vain. Or my motor will cut out when we are trench straffing or a wing will pull off in a dive. Oh, for a parachute! The Huns are using them now. I haven’t a chance, I know, and it’s this eternal waiting around that’s killing me. I’ve even lost my taste for licker. It doesn’t seem to do me any good now. I guess I’m stale. Last week I actually got frightened in the air and lost my head. Then I found ten Huns and took them all on and I got one of them down out of control. I got my nerve back by that time and came back home and slept like a baby for the first time in two months. What a blessing sleep is! I know now why men go out and take such long chances and pull off such wild stunts. No discipline in the world could make them do what they do of their own accord. I know now what a brave man is. I know now how men laugh at death and welcome it. I know now why Ball went over and sat above a Hun airdrome and dared them to come up and fight with him. It takes a brave man to even experience real fear. A coward couldn’t last long enough at the job to get to that stage. What price salvation now?’

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Not careless jottings

James Evershed Agate, born 140 years ago today, was a leading theatre critic in the first half of the 20th century, and one of the most well-known literary figures of his time. He is all but forgotten today but deserves to be better remembered for his witty and discursive diaries, all but one of which were published in his lifetime under the title Ego. In one intriguing entry from 1945, Agate reveals how conscious he was of writing his diary for publication: ‘How far should a writer take his readers into his confidence? Shall I “lose face” if I confess that the Ego books are not the careless jottings of idle half-hours? That I think Ego, talk Ego, dream Ego? That I get up in the middle of the night to make a correction? That before the MS. of any of my Ego’s reaches the publisher it has been through at least a dozen revisions?’

Agate was born at Pendleton, Lancashire, on 9 September 1877, the eldest of six children. His father was a cotton broker with a strong bent towards the theatre, and his mother was an accomplished pianist. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School, and then joined his father’s business, where he worked for 17 years. During his 20s, he was an avid theatre goer, and tried his hand at writing plays. In 1906, he began to contribute a weekly theatre column to his local Manchester newspaper, and within a year he had joined the Manchester Guardian as a junior critic. During the war, he joined the Army Services Corp and was posted to France. His knowledge of French and of horses led him to be appointed hay procurer; and his system of accounting for the business was turned into an official War Office handbook. He later collated articles sent to the Guardian from France into his first book L. of C. (Lines of Communication).

In 1918, while still serving in France, Agate married Sidonie, daughter of a rich landowner, but the relationship was short-lived, and, after their separation, Agate’s relationships were openly homosexual. After the war, he published a second collection of essays, Alarums and Excursions, and many more books followed. In 1921 he moved to The Saturday Review as theatre critic, a position once held by Bernard Shaw (who Agate had long wanted to emulate), and two years later to The Sunday Times, where he remained for the rest of his life (though he combined this role with being drama critic for the British Broadcasting Corporation for a number of years). He also wrote about film and literature for other media, and was a keen follower of various sports. He died in 1947. Further information can be gleaned from Wikipedia, Neglected Books, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log-in required), and an episode of BBC’s radio programme Letter from America.

From 1935 until his death, Agate wrote nine volumes of diaries published with the titles  Ego 1, Ego 2, etc., the last, Ego 9, appearing posthumously - each one subtitled as the Autobiography of James Agate. The first was published by Hamish Hamilton, the second by Victor Gollancz, and the rest by George G. Harrap (including several volumes of condensed extracts entitled A Shorter Ego). The diaries are a breeze to read, full of wit, anecdotes, gossip, sarcasm, as well as literary, theatre and music news (but nothing on politics of social issues). He often includes the text of letters he receives, and records problems with his health or finances, but most often he writes about his own writing/journalistic preoccupations and about his many friends and acquaintances
. Alistair Cooke, in an episode of his famous Letter from America describes Agate as ‘A Supreme Diarist’. Several volumes of Ego can be freely read online (Ego 4, A Shorter Ego - volume 1, Ego 9). The following extracts come from Ego 2 and  A Shorter Ego - volume 3).

15 March 1944
‘Moths won’t eat silk. I made this important discovery on going to my hat-box to fish out my topper for the Royal tea-party. The hat-box is one of those old-fashioned double ones; I found that the brown bowler that I used to wear at the horse shows had been completely eaten away, whereas the topper was intact. Bought a new tie, the first since the war, and paid the shocking price of 37s. 6d. for it. The morning coat, having made fewer than a dozen public appearances, is still very handsome, and altogether I think I was looking fairly smart when I presented myself at the Palace half an hour too early. Brother Harry having telegraphed from York that on no account was I to forget the occasion or be late. Nobody else in the enormous, empty room except a highly distinguished, ambassadorial personage chatting with some kind of Sultan. Presently an official came up to me and said, “Corps Diplomatique?” I replied, in equally succinct French, “Non.” He said, “Are you British?” I said, “Gad, sir !” He said, “The other room, if you please.” So I went into the other room, which was entirely empty. I had time to admire the furniture, which was magnificent; but the pictures seemed to me to be staggeringly unworthy of their setting. They were so conspicuously faded and unremarkable, though I suppose it would take a David or a Delacroix to make anything really effective out of troops being reviewed. Presently some people that I knew came in - Rebecca West, Irene Vanbrugh, Harriet Cohen, Arnold Bax, A. P. Herbert, a couple of my editors - and I recognised in to-day’s party a very gracious gesture to people of my kind, with a sprinkling of the Services. Next I found myself wondering what my feelings would have been if, fifty years ago, I had been granted prevision of this afternoon. What would my kid brother Harry have thought? This led to a moment of something ridiculously like sentiment. And then we formed up in single file, our cards were taken from us and handed from admiral to general, and general to admiral, five or six in all, till they reached the Lord Chamberlain, who read out our names. The King, who was in naval uniform, asked with enormous charm how I did. The Queen, in dove-grey and wearing pearls, smiled as though she remembered me, while the two princesses shook hands very shyly and prettily. While this was going on, a small band discoursed Haydn and Mozart, after which we drank tea out of some very beautiful china.’

21 April 1945
‘How far should a writer take his readers into his confidence? Shall I “lose face” if I confess that the Ego books are not the careless jottings of idle half-hours? That I think Ego, talk Ego, dream Ego? That I get up in the middle of the night to make a correction? That before the MS. of any of my Ego’s reaches the publisher it has been through at least a dozen revisions? That it is only when the galley proofs arrive that the real work begins? I suppose that when I had finished with the galleys of Ego 7 it would have been difficult to find fifty unaltered sentences. The reason for this is that stuff in print reads differently from the same stuff in typescript. Very well, then. The galleys have been returned to the publishers, and one sits back and awaits the page proofs in the vain belief that there is nothing more to do except see that the galley corrections have been properly carried out. Actually I made over two thousand corrections on the page proofs of Ego 7. For the reason that stuff in page reads differently from the same stuff in galley. There is another and more humiliating confession. This is that anything to which I subsequently attach value always turns out to have been an afterthought. [. . .A]ll my best stuff goes into the margin of my page - not even galley - proofs. [. . .] Another trouble is inaccuracy, which is my bête noire. My passion for correctness amounts to a neurosis. Not only do I look up chapter and verse, but I compare editions, telephone to libraries, consult innumerable dictionaries and encyclopaedias, ring up Embassies. And now this morning comes a letter asking how in Ego 6, page 132, I can say that Cora Pearl appeared at the Variétés in Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène when I have already said in Ego 4, page 174, that the theatre was the Bouffes-Parisiens, and the opérette Orphée aux Enfers?!!!!!’

30 April 1946
‘Cold and cheerless. Nothing to do, and nothing to see except ex-repertory actresses trundling about on bicycles. Diarised and got chilled to the bone sitting on Flamborough Head. To the pictures (twice), after which Harry entertained us with card tricks - which he has not done for twenty years - and it was all very, very Tchehovian.’

22 August 1945
‘Lunch with Bertie van Thai at the Savoy, where a really extraordinary coincidence happens. (First let me say that Bertie’s life at the Food Office is one unbroken sea of milk troubles. Either London is drowning in milk and there are no bottles to put it in, or there is an avalanche of bottles and no milk.) Now for the coincidence. At the next table is Kay Hammond with her little boy. Gathering that he is fond of cricket, I beckon him over and tell him how I once bowled out W. G. Grace. Whereupon John Clements leans across and says, “This is unbelievable. In the lounge before lunch I was telling John how at a public dinner my father heard W. G. say that on the sands at Blackpool he had been bowled first ball by a little boy of seven whose name he never knew!” ’

9 October 1935
‘Lunch with Alexander Korda who to my enormous astonishment turns out to be a man of great culture and distinction of mind. We talked about a lot of things including the Goncourts’ novels - which, he says, “are not so good as we thought when we were young men.” He insists that I shall help with his new film of Cyrano de Bergerac, and for the reason that his Hungarian nationality prevents him from detecting the finer shades of English verse. In the end I agree to do what he wants, and I hope my incursion into films will continue as pleasantly as it has begun.

In the evening go to the Reinhardt film of A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which Shakespeare is alleged to make his first appearance on the screen. He doesn’t!’

21 November 1935
‘Driving back from lunch to-day had an attack of nerves. At Oxford Circus was on my deathbed, going up Great Portland Street was dead and buried, along Albany Street calculated estate available after insurances raked in, horses sold and debts paid, passing Stanhope Terrace made my will, ascended Primrose Hill and descended to the Everlasting Bonfire simultaneously, and as we turned into England’s Lane was critically considering Jock’s first article as my successor on the S.T.

All this turned out, of course, to be merely what Doctor Rutty, the Irish Quaker, called “an hypochondriack obnubilation from wind and indigestion.” ’

The Diary Junction

Thursday, September 7, 2017

New Zealand’s first premier

‘My reasons for offering myself are, simply, that there are no persons at all fit, and I believe I may be useful; but the Assembly will doubtless be held at Auckland, a terrible undertaking, about as distant from Canterbury as England from Lisbon - a much severer work than going to America per Steamboat from England.’ This is Henry Sewell, a solicitor born on the Isle of White 210 years ago, explaining in his diary (written as a newsletter for his family) why he had decided to enter politics soon after arriving in New Zealand. Within three or so years, he would be elected the colony’s premier.

Sewell was born on 7 September 1807 in Newport, Isle of White. He was schooled at Hyde Abbey, then a fashionable school in Winchester, and after serving articles to qualify as a solicitor, he joined his father and brother in the family firm around 1826. In 1834, he married Lucinda Marianne Nedham, daughter of a retired general, and they had six children. As a result of a bank failure in 1840, his father lost money and when he died two years later he left the family in debt. The brothers, not wishing to go bankrupt, sold part of the business. When Lucinda died in 1844, Sewell left his children with his sister, and moved to London to seek business. In 1850, Sewell married Elizabeth Kittoe. Thereafter, he became involved in the Canterbury Association, an organisation dedicated to the colonisation of the Canterbury area in New Zealand, and he himself arrived there in 1853.

Sewell opened a solicitor’s office, and soon became involved in local politics, becoming a prominent figure in the first generation of colonial politicians. Initially, he represented Lyttelton on the Canterbury provincial council, then was an elected member of the house of representatives and, at different times, part of the legislative council. Three years after arriving in the colony, he was elected premier (colonial secretary at the time), a position he retained for a only few weeks being unable to hold a majority in the house. As treasurer in the first stable ministry, led by Edward Stafford, he was virtually deputy premier. Later he negotiated for the colony in Australia and England. He also served as attorney-general in three ministries between 1861 and 1865, and, after another break in England, he was briefly minister of justice. On retiring from politics, he returned to England where he died in 1879. Further information is available from Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Wikipedia, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB - log-in required).

Sewell kept a diary for some years, written as a newsletter to family and associates (and copied out by Elizabeth). However, he decreed that its contents should not be published or made public until after his death. The manuscript was held originally by successive bishops of Christchurch and was not passed on to the library of the University of Canterbury until the 1920s. In the 1970s it was painstakingly edited and annotated in two volumes by W. David McIntyre for publication in 1980 by Whitcoulls, Christchurch, as The Journal of Henry Sewell 1853-7. The first volume contains a substantial editor’s preface as well as a very long introduction. According to McIntyre (who also wrote the ODNB biography), Sewell was a pessimistic, lonely, snobbish man, who was never really committed to pioneering life. Nevertheless, his journal ‘provides the fullest private account of persons and places in early Canterbury and the beginnings of self-government in New Zealand’. The full text of the journal can be read online at Early New Zealand Books. Here are few extracts from Sewell’s journal, from his arrival and first months in New Zealand.

2 February 1853
‘About 2 in the morning was awoke by Wakefield. We were in sight of Banks’ Peninsula. Hurried on deck in Pilot Coat and trowsers - found the wind blowing fresh and cold from the S.W. with a considerable Sea. The morning sky cold and squally but with indications of clearing. Before us lay a shadowy outline of land with no distinct features. On our left stretching for a long distance a still more indistinct haze of mountain outlines topped with snow looking bleak and desolate. Presently one after the other passengers tumbled up half dressed and mightily excited. In truth it was impossible to resist the furor. Land after 4 months’ Sea voyage - and safe arrival at one’s destination with the prodigious interest about the future before us are sufficient excuses for mental intoxication. All the Telescopes were brought into use. The morning cleared up. Squalls wore off lighter and lighter leaving about 9 o’Clock a lovely day. The wind dropping gradually and the Sea going down. As we neared the land its features became more distinct and we sailed along the Peninsula at about 3 miles’ distance just as if it were an immense moving Panorama more beautiful than any thing I can remember. No doubt this was partly from the special beauty of the day - partly from the excitement. The South wester dropped away by degrees and left us entirely just off the Peninsula. Then the wind shifted as if on purpose to accommodate us and we worked round into harbour with a gentle North Easterly breeze casting anchor about 6 o’Clock. Boats came off very soon. Young Keele as one of the Custom House Officers with the Tide Waiter. I took him by the arm and walked him up and down the deck greedy for news. ‘Where was Mr Godley’ Gone - had left just before Christmas. All the people were gone off to the diggings. Every thing was stagnant. Godley was supposed to have gone to avoid a crisis - The Association was in the worst possible odour - Public meetings were being held about them particularly with reference to some law processes issued against labourers who had given notes of hand for their passage money. The news of Godley’s departure fell upon me like a Cloud. He had left Capt. Simeon his Successor but this was all I could learn about him. Presently Mr Cookson 5 came on board; had a long talk with Wakefield from whom I heard afterwards better accounts of things. Boat loads of people came on board. Some passengers went on Shore. Mr Raven and I among the rest. I went up to Capt. Simeon’s. Found him extremely kind and hospitable - wanting me to stay - Had no time to learn much from him, but what I did learn was far from encouraging. Got some fresh butter and a loaf of bread and set off to the Ship to regale ourselves with these almost forgotten luxuries - Altogether a day of singular excitement.’

15 April 1853
‘Yesterday prepared to set off to Lyttelton, but the weather was desperately bad. All Wednesday night it blew a hurricane. Yesterday wind and rain, and strong indications of a coming South Easter. So we make up our minds to stay where we are.

The Government gives us an indication of their mind by raising technical objections to our Writ of Injunction. It does not exactly agree with the terms in which the Judgment was delivered in Court. So they ask to have it altered; the object being to take advantage of a small opening to let the Government loose from the Injunction without meeting the case on its merits. What a dodge for a Government! and what a Government! However to be up to them called on the Registrar and with him on the Judge. He will not submit to any such shuffling quibbles, and will not loose the Injunction till the case has been heard and disposed of fully upon the merits. He complains bitterly of the attempt made to overbear him and to destroy his independence. He will not be a political partizan of the Government, so the Governor does all in his power to thwart and annoy him. He is absolutely fixed as to the illegality of the Proclamation. Spoke to Col. McCleverty about Simeon’s salary as Resident Magistrate and the hardship of reducing it for the sake of a merely temporary appointment.’

2 July 1853
‘Rain again. Simeon has resolved upon resigning the Agency forthwith which is a great relief. I shall consider him entitled to a quarter’s Salary in advance. I shall have a good deal to do with him after the formal termination of his office.

A good deal of talk with Raven about matters which become connected with one’s future views - but more of this hereafter.

In the evening comes Capt. Fuller dressed like a dilapidated Shepherd, in truth a great object. He seems to have cast off all care about personal appearance, and is a strange contrast to the neat trim Military gentleman at the Adelphi. He comes evidently to seek refuge and hospitality. Board we give him but lodging we cannot, Raven occupying our only spare room. I don’t like the fashion of people coming at all times, and disturbing your domestic privacy - but Hospitality is a necessary virtue in a Colony. Raven and Fuller talk the whole evening of bullocks and Sheep, breaking up land, potatoes and so forth. Fuller is afflicted still with that huge agricultural Family - the Russleys, who eat up his substance like locusts - still I think on the whole he is getting into the right way to do well for himself, but he is half daft. Queer anecdotes one gets of Colonial ways of living. There is the road to Kaiapoi, a never-failing topic of lamentation. Just after leaving Christchurch you enter the Papanui Swamp through which it is next to impossible to drag any vehicle formed for human use. Raven took his children across it the other day. He in advance carrying the eldest girl. Miss Burbidge the Governess and Johnny following on a Cart horse with a pack saddle. Presently there is a scream - the horse is down and Governess and child are in the midst of the Swamp, but with some exertion are safely mounted again. After clearing the Swamp the road becomes slightly better for a few miles, when you reach the banks of the River. Who in England would take the bed of a River for a Road? but so it is, the bottom is tolerably hard, barring a quicksand here and there which may possibly engulph the travellers. After some miles of this amphibious route they get to the Ferry - a ferry for man but not for horses, so the horses have to swim for it, getting thoroughly wet and of course transferring the acquired moisture to their riders on remounting, - then more quagmires and swamp and so home - fifteen miles up the country. Such is winter travelling in the settled District of the Canterbury plains. N’importe - people get on well enough, and on the whole seem rather to enjoy it than not. They are out of provisions up at Kaiapoi and have no sugar. Vessels cannot go round to the Waimakariri this weather.’

29 July 1853
‘Started with Stoddart for Christchurch. To the Land Office. First settled business with FitzGerald and Brittan; got their signatures to the Conveyances of Church Lands. Then talked to Brittan about my Electioneering plan; he highly approved; recommended me to stand for the Town in preference to the Country which was of course to get rid of me as a Competitor. Then he said his Brother-in-law one Mr Fooks who knew all the constituency should canvass for me at once. So I left, considering that Brittan at least would help me. My reasons for offering myself are, simply, that there are no persons at all fit, and I believe I may be useful; but the Assembly will doubtless be held at Auckland, a terrible undertaking, about as distant from Canterbury as England from Lisbon - a much severer work than going to America per Steamboat from England. Besides this, the work to be done is very responsible, and I have no doubt will be very disagreeable; all fighting with the Governor. Watts Russell is an amiable good kind of gentlemanly dummy, utterly unequal to such work. FitzGerald who will probably be returned for Lyttelton is scatter-brained. Brittan is untrustworthy, even if he is returned which is not likely. To undertake such an office has neither pleasure, honor nor profit in prospect. I could however manage to attend the first important Meeting, which will probably be about November. The Governor leaves the Colony in December. His plan is, doubtless, to pay a parting visit to the different Settlements, to hold a Session of the Assembly at Auckland in November - to smother the Southern Settlements by Auckland influence and if possible to get off with eclat. Doubtless he calculates on the Southern Members not coming up. I returned to Lyttelton Friday evening, Stoddart remaining to canvass for me.’

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Secret agent in Moscow

‘Very depressing telegram from Foreign Office. Sent off long telegram re Trotsky. The other day Pravda published ail the documents against Trotsky and Lenin which they had been able to find, including some of English counter-espionage section! They are sportsmen!’ This is from the diary of Bruce Lockhart, born 130 years ago today, who, at the time, was the young British envoy to the new Bolshevik regime in Russia. Later, he would write an international bestseller about his time as a British secret agent. He lived a colourful life, reflected in his diaries. Soon after his death, these were condemned as highly libellous by the modern historian A.J.P. Taylor, but, nevertheless, were edited for publication in the 1970s.

Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart was born on 2 September 1887 in Anstruther, Fife, the son of a teacher. After attending various schools where his father was headmaster, he was educated at Fettes College in Edinburgh. He was sent to Germany and France to learn foreign languages. Aged 21, he travelled to Malaya with an uncle who had rubber plantations, and was charged with opening a new rubber estate near Pantai. After three years, and a torrid affair with a local princess, he contracted malaria and was sent home. He joined the civil service, and by 1912 had been appointed a vice-consul for the British delegation to Russia in Moscow. In 1913, while in Moscow, he married Jean Bruce Haslewood, and they had a daughter who died at birth and one son; the couple, however, soon became estranged though did not divorce until 1938.

In Moscow, Lockhart was promoted to consul-general, and was in Russia when Nicholas II was overthrown. However, after returning to London, he was sent back to Russia by Prime Minister Lloyd George as the country’s first envoy to the Bolsheviks, but he was also tasked with setting up a spy network. In 1918, after an attempt on the life of Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik leader, he was arrested, imprisoned for plotting against the Bolshevik regime, and feared being sentenced to death. However, after a month he was released in exchange for Maxim Litvinov, the unofficial Bolshevik ambassador in London.

Lockhart continued working for the Foreign Office, with a posting in Prague, until 1922, and then took in a job in banking which involved much travel through Central Europe. Having already started to contribute articles and gossip items to London newspapers, in 1929 he decided to accept a job offered by Lord Beaverbrook on the Standard, a position he kept for nearly ten years. In 1932, he published his first book - Memoirs of a British Agent - which was an international bestseller; several more books followed in the 1930s. He became something of a personality, counting among his friends many well-known political and literary names of the time (Harold Nicolson, Malcolm Muggeridge) as well as high society figures, including royalty (Edward Prince of Wales).

During the Second World War, Lockhart served as director-general of the Political Warfare Executive, coordinating British propaganda against the enemy, but as soon as the war was over he returned to writing, broadcasting and lecturing. He was appointed Knight Commander, Order of St. Michael and St. George (K.C.M.G.) in 1943. In 1948, he remarried (Frances Mary Beck); and he published several more books in the 1950s. He died at a nursing home in Hove in 1970, and is not much remembered today. Some further biographical information can be found at Wikipedia, Spartacus, Spy Culture (where the full text of Memoirs of a British Agent can be read), or The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log-in required).

Lockhart was a committed and compulsive diarist, leaving behind some 200 volumes containing an estimated three million words. These were initially held by the Beaverbrook Library where the Honorary Librarian, A. J. P. Taylor in the mid-1970s, declared they were highly libellous and should be destroyed. They are now housed in the Parliamentary Archive, in the Houses of Parliament library. In 1973, Macmillan published The Diaries of Sir Bruce Lockhart: Volume One 1915-1938 as edited by Kenneth Young. A second volume (1935-1965) did not follow until 1980. A review can be read at The New York Times. The following extracts are taken from the first volume.

11 January 1918
‘At 12 noon met Litvinov, Russia’s new Bolshevik Ambassador, with Rothstein and Leeper at Lyons’ comer shop in the Strand. Litvinov, more sluggish and slower, heavily built with broad forehead did not strike me as a bad fellow. He does not like German goverment [sic] who banished him from Germany. Both men are Jews. Litvinov is married to an Englishwoman.’

28 January 1918
‘Came on to Helsingfors as apparently we cannot get across the bridge. Arrived at 11.30 a.m. in Helsingfors to find the town in a state of revolution. No rooms to be had. Met Lednitski and wandered off with him and Hicks to see if he could get us rooms at the Polish priest’s. No catch, and as we were on the other side of town we could not get back to the Consulate for the firing. Most unpleasant. Stayed the night in small pension. Met Grove [Consul] and Fawcett, the Vice-Consul, who really runs the show.’

30 January 1918
‘Reached Petrograd 7.30 p.m. Streets in a dreadful state, snow had not been swept away for weeks. Everyone looks depressed and unhappy.’

12 February 1918
‘Robins and Bruce lunch. Robins: “Trotsky was poor kind [of] son of a bitch but the greatest Jew since Christ.” ’

21 February 1918
‘Fears of pro-Boche counter-revolution. Events move so rapidly that it is not possible to keep pace with them. Trotsky seems to have re-established his position.’

26 February 1918
‘Saw Trotsky twice today. Loud in his blame of the French and said the Allies had only helped Germany by their intrigues in Russia. American Embassy left for Vologda with Robins. Sent Ransome down with them. Trouble with Petrov about passport. Determined to stay under all circumstances if Bolsheviks can put up any show.’

12 March 1918
‘Very depressing telegram from Foreign Office. Sent off long telegram re Trotsky. The other day Pravda published ail the documents against Trotsky and Lenin which they had been able to find, including some of English counter-espionage section! They are sportsmen!’

13 March 1918
‘Saw Trotsky today and told him about the dangers of Japanese intervention.’

14 March 1918
‘Received long and stupid telegram from Foreign Office. Three numbers are, however, missing. Trotsky appointed president of the Supreme War Council.’

15 March 1918
‘We are to leave for Moscow tomorrow. Petrograd looked very beautiful. Trotsky now made War Minister. Sent off a very hot telegram on Japanese situation. Lenin made great speech at Congress to show why peace was necessary. He said: “One fool can ask more questions than ten wise men can answer.” ’

9 April 1918
‘Telegram from Hicks re Semenov affair. This looks very serious, worked all day sending off telegrams about the situation. Things are moving towards a crisis. Our people at home are so incredibly stupid that they will drift into tragedy, almost without knowing it. We have done our best and it is difficult to see what more we can do. This stupid affair at Vladivostok has spoilt all the advantages which the German landing at Finland could have given us. Everyone here is against it.’

12 April 1918
‘At 3 o’clock last night the Bolsheviks surrounded and attacked simultaneously the twenty-six headquarters of the Anarchists. The latter were taken completely by surprise, were turned out of the houses they occupied and forced to give up their guns, rifles, ammunition and loot. Over five hundred arrested. Saw Djerjinsky, head of Counter-Revolution Committee who gave us a car to go round and see the results of victory.’

19 April 1918
‘Soviet decree about women having the right to divorce a man for a month and the latter not having the right to refuse. Saw Trotsky - fairly satisfactory but hope is not great. In afternoon had long talk with Chichcrin and Karakhan on subject of agreement. Overwhelmed with work. We have no staff, and it is impossible to get through half of what we ought to do.’

15 May 1918
‘Cromie and McAlpinc left. Went with Cromie to see Trotsky about the fleet. Trotsky said war was inevitable. I therefore asked if he would accept Allied intervention. He replied that he had already asked the Allies to make a proposition. I then said that if the Allies would come to an agreement on this point, would he give me half an hour to discuss things. He said: “When the Allies come to an agreement it is not half an hour but a whole day that I will give.” ’

2 June 1918
‘Arrived in Petrograd. Lovely day. Stayed at Petrograd. Rang up Cromie. . . Feeling in Petrograd quite different from Moscow. Altogether quieter and further removed from the struggle. Anti-Bolshevism very strong and hardly concealed. At the cabaret jokes were made at Bolshevik expense which would not be tolerated in Moscow.

Famine pretty severe and grave discontent among the workmen and sailors. Counter-revolution here possible any day.’

6 July 1918
‘Mirbach murdered today by two unknown people who came to the Embassy with false documents. Murder took place at three-thirty. . . We have been moved to a box on the third floor with the Germans opposite. . . Later the theatre was surrounded by troops and no one was allowed to go out. In night and during afternoon rising by Left Social-Revolutionaries. This speedily squashed. Left Social-Revolutionaries fled.’

7 July 1918
‘Radek came to see me. Mirbach’s murderer Blumkin lived in our hotel in room 221. He was a member of the Extraordinary Commission. The Left Social-Revolutionaries during their short revolt arrested Djerjinsky. . . Their resistance was very weak, but for a time they held the telegraph. This was afterwards retaken by Hungarian war prisoners internationalists. Many of the Social-Revolutonaries have been arrested including Alexandrovich, Vice- President of the Extraordinary Commission. He is to be shot immediately. All papers suppressed. No trains to Petrograd or anywhere, no telegrams to abroad. Yaroslavl said to be in the hands of the counter-revolutonaries.’

21 February 1928
‘In the evening dined with Beaverbrook at the Vineyard - very interesting. He offered me a job beginning with £2000 a year as leader-writer for the Standard and Express. He also showed some interest in Continental shares. He is going to Russia and has telegraphed to ask Chicherin if he can take me. Drank some champagne. Late night.’

28 February 1928
‘In the evening went to see Beaverbrook at the vineyard and got an order for Polyphon shares out of him.’

2 March 1928
‘Beaverbrook’s shares have gone up to 270. Saw Sharp of the New Statesman. He very strongly advises me not to join Beaverbrook.

In tight financial hole. Have no money in bank.’

5 March 1928
‘Lunched with Beaverbrook and then came up to London with Jean Norton by car. . .

In evening dined with Hugh Walpole at Arnold Bennett’s house, 75 Cadogan Square. Arnold Bennett very kind about my book. Michael Arlen, T. S. Eliot, the poet and editor of the Criterion, E. Knoblock, also there.

Yesterday and today broke my pledge.’

14 March 1928
‘Went to see Beaverbrook and asked him to give me £10,000 as discretionary client.’

20 March 1928
‘This is the beginning of a critical week, as I must raise at least £750 in order to meet my debts.’

13 July 1929
‘At Hunger Hill for week-end. Hamish, Nancy Mitford. Ba [Cecil] Beaton, and Count Bismarck here. The latter lives in Rome. He is a grandson of the famous Bismarck and hates the Kaiser. The family has obviously never forgiven the latter for ‘dropping the pilot’. Bismarck is a peculiar-looking young man - very aesthetic. He says Fascism is on the decline and is definitely unpopular and that the good relations between the Vatican and Mussolini would not last. Army is definitely anti-Fascist.’

16 July 1929
‘Dined with Fletcher at the St James’s. He gave me a lot of information about our secret service. The head of it now is Admiral Sinclair, a terrific anti-Bolshevik, who has succeeded the old ‘C.’, Mansfield Cumming. The new ‘C.’ is hard up for men for Russia. Incidentally, discovered that Kenworthy has a bad war-record. During the war he was in command of a destroyer in the North Sea and ran into a merchantman. He was the first man to abandon his ship. The gunner, however, and some of the crew succeeded in patching up the leak, and Kenworthy came back. Kenworthy was relieved of his command - but not by court-martial - and was sent to Gibraltar. During war, too, Kenworthy also attended a revolutionary luncheon at which toasts were drunk to the English Republic. Basil Thomson’s man reported this to Admiralty. Beatty and ‘Rosie’ Wemyss were furious and went to L.G. Latter, however, refused to act. Kenworthy has also made a considerable packet of money out of his deals with Russia. Not a good candidate. . . Late to bed. Went on to club afterwards.’

16 June 1937
‘After luncheon went to see Sir Robert Vansittart and told him my plans to leave Fleet Street and also to become a specialist in foreign affairs. He was very nice and said that he would give me all the help he could. He was interesting on the pro-German feeling in Cabinet. He fears that, as usual, we shall talk vaguely of coming to terms with Germany, latter will respond and think they are going to get something. Then will come the bill - bill we cannot pay. And when we do not pay, there will be the same revulsion of feeling in Germany as there was in 1914, when, contrary to their expectations, we came in. Hymn of hate was result.’

10 August 1937
‘Today, too, I sent off my final letters of resignation to Beaverbrook and Wardell. I said much the same thing in each letter: that I should be fifty on September 2, that the strain of the job was becoming too much for me, that I was already the oldest man on the editorial staff, and that as there is only one rule in journalism - that a man must hold his job by his own efficiency - I was merely taking a decision which would be forced on me in a year or two’s time.’

6 September 1937
‘A letter from Miss Foyle asking me to speak at a literary luncheon at which famous correspondents will speak of how they made their best scoops. Refused. There are no ‘famous’ correspondents and most scoops are ‘fakes’.’

The Diary Junction