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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

And make sure to visit The Arnold Bennett Society for expert information and comment on all aspects of the life and work of AB.

Friday, 31 August 2012

A theosophist at work

August 30th., Dublin

Yesterday I went to see George Russell (AE) in the morning at Plunkett House - 3rd floor, editorial offices of The Homestead.

The Irish Homestead was the weekly publication of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (IAOS). It was founded in 1895 by Horace Plunkett. The aim of the paper was to push the objectives of the IAOS, setting up dairy co-operative societies and co-operative banks, and introducing co-operation among Irish farmers by proving the benefits obtainable through more economical and efficient management. The newspaper was originally edited by Thomas Finlay, S.J., then by T. P. Gill and H. F. Norman. This publication was the first to publish James Joyce with his short story "The Sisters" in 1904. It ceased publication in 1918, but was afterwards revived in October 1921. In 1923 it was amalgamated with the Irish Statesman, and in this format it continued, under the editorship of George William Russell, until 1930.

Susan Mitchell there as sub-editor.

Susan Langstaff Mitchell (1866 – 1926) was an Irish writer and poet, known for her satirical verse. 
She was born in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, one of eight children of Michael Thomas Mitchell. Her father was manager of the Provincial Bank there. He died when she was six years old and she was sent to Dublin to be educated, while her mother, Kate (née Cullen, a prominent family from Manorhamilton), moved to Sligo. She lived in Dublin with two comfortably-off aunts. In 1900 she travelled to London for treatment of a hearing problem and stayed with John B. Yeats and his family. After her return to Dublin she worked as a journalist and became assistant editor of the Irish Homestead, under George Russell. She contributed essays, reviews and drama notes and became acquainted with William Butler Yeats, Padraic Colum, George Moore and others. She lived with her sister Jane (Jeanny), an actress, and mother in Rathgar. Her mother dictated her memoirs to her, which were later published. She published her first book of poems in 1908. In 1926 she became sub-editor of the Irish Statesman, again under George Russell.
Age cannot reach me where the veils of God have shut me in,
For me the myriad births of stars and suns do but begin,
And here how fragrantly there blows to me the holy breath,
Sweet from the flowers and stars and the hearts of men, from life and death.
We are not old, O heart, we are not old, the breath that blows
The soul aflame is still a wandering wind that comes and goes;
And the stirred heart with sudden raptured life a moment glows.
A moment here – a bulrush’s brown head in a gray rain,
A moment there – a child drowned and a heart quickened with pain;
The name of Death, the blue deep heaven, the scent of the salt sea,
The spicy grass, the honey robbed from the wild bee.
Awhile we walk the world on its wide roads and narrow ways,
And they pass by, the countless shadowy groups of nights and days;
We know them not, O happy heart, for you and I
Watch where within a slow dawn lightens up another sky.
- Susan Mitchell (1866-1926)

Russell very untidy. Longish beard. Gleaming glasses. He said he could not stand the dullness of the walls. So he had given 4 afternoons to painting the whole of them with figures and landscapes.

George William Russell
 In the death this week of George William Russell, "AE," as he was known in the literary world, Ireland lost a great national mind and the world has lost one of its most prolific pens.
    George William Russell was the son of a middle-class Irish family of County Armagh, and received only a public school education.  His quality as a writer were the inherent imagination of his race, the unplumbed depths of the mystic, the unbounded mind of the dreamer and an intense national pride.  Something of the power of those qualities when combined as "AE" combined them can be seen from the long life that has attended his works.  His fist book of poems, "Homeward: Songs by the Way," published in 1894, has never really disappeared from circulation.
    It was Ireland more than the Irish that Russell really loved.  It was Ireland he painted - another highly developed natural talent, which he used as a "recreation" when words grew heavy and tedious to work with.  And it was Ireland he sought to unify in a great national scheme of cooperative societies.  For many years between two careers as an editor, "AE" buried his hatred for travel and toured Ireland, educating the farmers and the county folk along the lines of cooperatives effort, forming in various communities cooperative grocery stores, cooperative dairies and markets, and similar enterprises.
    Among his outstanding literary adventures, there were terms of office as editor of the Irish Homestead, an agricultural journal;  the Theosophist, which he wrote to a great extent all by himself under various, pen-names. Frequently, when money was scarce, he would use pseudonyms to engage himself in a vigorous argument for the benefit and enlightenment of unknowing readers.  His last editorial chair was with the Irish Statesman after its merger with the Irish Homestead, and for seven years until 1930 he managed to keep it alive despite an intensely high intellectual outlook.
    As was the case with many of his characteristics, his wit was typically Irish, and he possessed a stinging tongue through which he invariably voiced his criticism of his friends, without, it can be said, losing any of them.  A classical example still much quoted was This comment to George Moore, the Irish novelist, during a tea-hour discussion, of a new Moore novel. "You," "AE" told Moore, "are like a porcupine rubbing yourself against the bare legs a child, unconscious of what you do."
    For "AE", in spite of the fact that he knew of the musical, qualities of his deep voice, and was intensely proud of it, one of the greatest ordeals was to read his own poetry.  He disliked America because of having to read his poetry when he got there, more than because he had to travel to reach it.  But it was through reading his poems that a great mass of his follower came to know him and to appreciate more fully what "AE" meant them to appreciate in all his praises of his one great love, his Ireland.     - The Toronto Globe, July 19, 1935.

Russell said he had said to Yeats that Moore's "Hail and Farewell" was the finest biography Yeats would ever have.

Hail And Farewell! by George Moore is a three volume memoir of Moore’s time in Dublin in the decade prior to the outbreak of the Great War and the Irish Revolution. His observations on the great and the good of Irish society whom he encountered upset many of his friends. Moore was an anti-clerical, agnostic, modernist bohemian excluding him from the mainstream of Irish political, religious and literary thinking. However he played a part with his friend Edward Martyn in the Irish Literary Revival. Ireland was then dominated by a stand off between two conservative forces; the declining Unionist Protestant Anglo-Irish elite and the rising nationalist Irish Catholic middle class. Moore was simultaneously out of step with both British imperialist and Irish Catholic nationalist moral pieties and hypocrisies he cared little for. The work is a revealing insight into Irish life before it was turned upside down by sweeping social and political change. Moore said of the work that ‘ Dublin is now divided into two sets; one half is afraid it will be in the book, and the other is afraid that it won't.’ Moore Hall, Co. Mayo hosted figures such as Lady Gregory and W. B. Yeats.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Cupid and Commonsense

Friday, August 30th., still in France

Before tea yesterday I finished the play, and called it "Cupid and Commonsense". It seems to me to be one of the best things I have ever done; quite as good as most of my novels.


The title is merely ad captandum.

In rhetoric an argument ad captandum, "for capturing" the gullibility of the naïve among the listeners or readers, is an unsound, specious argument designed to appeal to the emotions rather than to the mind. It is used to describe "claptrap or meretricious attempts to catch popular favor or appplause." The longer form of the term is ad captandum vulgus (Latin, "to ensnare the vulgar" or "to captivate the masses"); the shorter and longer versions of the phrase are synonymous. The word "vulgus" in Latin was a contemptuous reference, implying a rabble or a mob. The ad captandum approach is commonly seen in political speech, advertising, and popular entertainment. The classic example of something ad captandum vulgus was the "bread and circuses" by which the Roman emperors maintained the support of the people of Rome.

For a few years early in the century I was the very model of a successful playwright. From 1908 to 1913 I had five plays on the London stage. I began my dramatic career as a theatre critic, and in this capacity attended nearly every first night from 1895 to 1900. I count several West End theatrical managers and leading actors among my friends and have talked at great length with them. I have found it hard to resist the siren call of the theatre (in truth I have not tried too hard!), but why is it so fatally fascinating? I think that, unlike a novel, a play gains a life of its own once the author has surrendered it for production. The whole enterprise is immense, immersive and magnificent. Most importantly, success or failure are so terribly public and dramatic critics hold the writer's happiness in their hands. Those of you who have read my novel "The Regent", the continuing adventures of Denry Machin, (not one of my best, but passable) will recall his dramatic experiences:

Denry was shocked as well as chilled. And for this reason: for weeks past all the newspapers, in their dramatic gossip, had contained highly sympathetic references to his enterprise. According to the paragraphs he was a wondrous man, and the theatre was a wondrous house, the best of all possible theatres ... and the prospects of the intellectual-poetic drama in London so favourable as to amount to a certainty of success. In those columns of dramatic gossip there was no flaw in the theatrical world ... and even authors were benefactors of society, and therefore they were treated with the deference, the gentleness, the heartfelt sympathy which benefactors of society merit and ought to receive. And yet, the critic's final words on the actual production were: "The reception was quite favourable"!!!

"Cupid and Commonsense" was dramatised in the summer of 1907 from 'Anna of the Five Towns' in response to the request from the Stage Society for a play.

The Incorporated Stage Society, commonly known as the Stage Society, was an English theatre society with limited membership which mounted private Sunday performances of new and experimental plays, mainly at the Royal Court Theatre (whose Vedrenne-Barker management is said to have originated in the Society's work) but also at other London West End venues. Founded in 1899 "to regenerate the Drama", it followed the Independent Theatre Society in this activity. Its plays particularly included the first performances of plays that had been banned for public performance by the Lord Chamberlain. George Bernard Shaw, Harley Granville Barker, St. John Hankin, Gilbert Murray and Clifford Bax were all involved with the company. Its council decided in 1930 that the rise of other groups like the Gate Theatre meant the Society's work was complete and, though a 1930 proposal for its dissolution was defeated, it fell into abeyance on the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Its aims were continued post-war by the English Stage Company, the resident company at the Royal Court Theatre.

"Cupid and Commonsense" was produced on 26 and 27 January at the Shaftesbury Theatre, where, according to the Staffordshire Sentinel, it was 'cordially received'. I was especially pleased with E.F.Spence's review in the Westminster Gazette.

"Our Stage and Its Critics" by Edward Fordham Spence can be read online at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/13408

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Out and about in London

Sunday, August 29th., London

I was determined to write another impression, and did so, though it took me some time to get a subject. I walked down to Albert Bridge to get it, and I got it, and came back and wrote it.

I seemed to spend a great deal of time reading Wells's "William Clissold" of which I nearly finished the first vol. I also nearly finished Stendhal's "Lamiel".

At about 5.15 Dorothy and I went out for a city excursion. We drove to St. Paul's cathedral first, of which the front was in the usual Sunday mess; a fearful litter of paper, and kids feeding the birds , and hawkers: all extremely untidy, slatternly, etc. Even offensive. The inside was as it was the last time but I saw the dreadful Watts's pictures.

A portrait painter and sculptor, George Frederick Watts was born in London, the son of a piano maker. Initially, he wanted to become a sculptor, and at the age of 10 was apprenticed to William Behnes. However, in 1835, at the age of 18, he went to the RA Schools, where he remained for only a short period, and thereafter was mainly self-taught. After he first exhibited The Wounded Heron at the Royal Academy, painting became his main preoccupation. In 1850 Watts visited the home of Valentine Prinsep's parents in Holland park, supposedly for a three-day visit, but instead he stayed for thirty years. The Prinseps seem to have borne the situation cheerfully, and it no doubt gave them a certain cachet in the Bohemian circles in which they moved, which included such writers and painters as Thackeray, Dickens, Rossetti and Burne-Jones. Fortunately, Watts was a man of frugal habits. Although he had been depressed and unhappy when he had moved in with the Prinseps, Watts blossomed in this strange household, where notable writers and painters were treated with reverence. He finally left the Prinseps' home in 1875 and moved to the Isle of Wight. In 1864 Watts married the actress Ellen Terry, who was only 16, although the marriage was short-lived.
Watts was a modest, hard-working artist who twice refused a baronetcy and other honours, including an offer to become president of the Royal Academy, although he did accept the Order of Merit. The critic G.K. Chesterton said of Watts: ".. more than any other modern man, and much more than politicians who thundered on platforms or financiers who captured continents, [Watts] has sought in the midst of his quiet and hidden life to mirror his age... In the whole range of Watts' symbolic art, there is scarcely a single example of the ordinary and arbitrary current symbol.... A primeval vagueness and archaism hangs over the all the canvases and cartoons, like frescoes from some prehistoric temple. There is nothing there but the eternal things, day and fire and the sea, and motherhood and the dead."Another contemporary admirer, Hugh MacMillan, wrote that Watts "surrounds his ideal forms with a misty or cloudy atmosphere for the purpose of showing that they are visionary or ideal.... His colours, like the colour of the veils of the ancient tabernacle, like the hues of the jewelled walls of the New Jerusalem, are invested with a parabolic significance.... To the commonest hues he gives a tone beyond their ordinary power... Watts is essentially the seer. He thinks in pictures that come before the inward eye spontaneously and assume a definite form almost without any effort of consciousness."Watts' declared aims were clear: to paint pictures that appealed 'to the intellect and refined emotions rather than the senses':
"I paint ideas, not things. I paint primarily because I have something to say, and since the gift of eloquent language has been denied to me, I use painting; my intention is not so much to paint pictures which shall please the eye, as to suggest great thoughts which shall speak to the imagination and to the heart and arouse all that is best and noblest in humanity."Since the revival of interest in Victorian painting, Watts may be regaining the recognition and respect he enjoyed in the 19th century. However, in terms of public recognition he is not as well-known as contemporaries like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones.
George Frederick Watts, self-portrait
Also "The Light of the World".
Holman-Hunt - The Light of the World

The Light of the World (1853–54) is an allegorical painting by William Holman Hunt representing the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me". According to Hunt: "I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by Divine command, and not simply as a good Subject." The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing "the obstinately shut mind". Hunt, 50 years after painting it, felt he had to explain the symbolism. The original, painted at night in a makeshift hut at Worcester Park Farm in Surrey, is now in a side room off the large chapel at Keble College, Oxford. Toward the end of his life, Hunt painted a life-size version, which was hung in St Paul's Cathedral, London, after a world tour where the picture drew large crowds. Due to Hunt's increasing infirmity, he was assisted in the completion of this version by English painter Edward Robert Hughes. This painting inspired much popular devotion in the late Victorian period and inspired several musical works, including Sir Arthur Sullivan's 1873 oratorioThe Light of the World.

It is all pretty dreadful, and I suppose it will remain so for years - until the repairs are at last finished. Something ought to be done about the front space on Sunday afternoons. Then we walked on to Southwark Bridge and on to London Bridge (both very empty) and had a good look at Adelaide House (by London Bridge); this is a rather remarkable office building, done under strong American influence. It is very interesting.

Adelaide House is a Grade II listed office building on King William Street, at London Bridge, in the City of London. When it was completed in 1925 it was the tallest office block in London at 43 m (141 ft). The building was named in honour of King William IV's wife Adelaide, who, in 1831, had performed the opening ceremony of the adjacent London Bridge. Adelaide House was the first building in the City to employ the steel frame technique, later widely adopted for skyscrapers around the world, and also the first office block in Great Britain to have central ventilation and telephone and electric connections on every floor. It was designed in a discreet Art Deco style by Tait & Partners, with some Egyptian influences, popular at the time after the recent discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb. There used to be a golf course on the roof. The building has been a Grade II listed building since 1972.
Adelaide House

We also saw a number of alleys and lanes. Then from London Bridge approach we took a bus to the Bank,  and at the Bank another bus to Sloane Square.
We then dressed and went to the Savoy Cafe for dinner.

Savoy Hotel, Strand entrance 1911
Hadn't been there since last December. Saw Golding Bright and wife. The latter started immediately to talk of the baby and thence jumped to her own baby (killed in the war I think). "He'd have been thirty today if he'd lived". She was absorbed in babies. She's 65 and thinks always of her son.

Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright (1859 — 1945), better known by her pen name George Egerton, (pronounced Edg'er-ton) was a "New Woman" writer and feminist. Widely considered to be one of the most important of the "New Woman" writers of the nineteenth century fin de siecle, she was a friend of George Bernard Shaw, Ellen Terry and J. M. Barrie. She divorced Egerton Clairmonte in 1901 and married the dramatic agent Reginald Golding Bright, fifteen years her junior. Her only child, her son George Clairmonte (born 1895), was killed in World War I. She died in London in 1945, aged 85. Bright was from a theatrical family; his brother Addison Bright was J.M. Barrie's agent; in 1901 Bright married George Egerton (Mary Chavelita), playwright; he died in 1941.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Lady Jumpers

Dublin, August 27th.

Horse Show.

Since it was first held in 1864 the Horse Show has become a Dublin institution. A celebration of Ireland's affinity with the horse, from the best show horses to the best international show jumpers. It is one of Ireland's largest events, a highlight of the summer, each year welcoming tens of thousands of people from Ireland and all over the world.

Lady jumpers who jumped better than the men. Irish faces of nearly all the girls in the Grand Stand. A certain chic. Motor-car enclosure full of cars all higgledy-piggledy. God Save the King when H.E. (French) came and left, and very feeble cheering of the same.

Field Marshal John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, KP, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCMG, ADC, PC (28 September 1852 – 22 May 1925), known as The Viscount French between 1916 and 1922, was a British and Anglo-Irish officer. He distinguished himself commanding the Cavalry Division during the Second Boer War, became Chief of the Imperial General Staff in 1912 but resigned over the Curragh Mutiny, and then served as the first Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force for the first two years of World War I before becoming Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1918.
Earl French, Lord Lieutenant

In May 1918, French was appointed British Viceroy, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Supreme Commander of the British Army in Ireland. As Lord Lieutenant he raised the status of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), approved the raising of the Black and Tans and sought the introduction of martial law. His objective was the destruction of Sinn Féin. French was not popular with nationalist interest groups in Ireland and on 19 December 1919 an assassination attempt was made on him. That day an Irish Republican Army unit which consisted of 11 volunteers, including Seán Treacy, Seamus Robinson, Seán Hogan, Paddy Daly (Leader), Joe Leonard, Martin Savage, and Dan Breen sought to ambush French as he returned from his country residence in Frenchpark, County Roscommon.  The volunteers' intelligence operative had informed the unit that French would be travelling in the second car of an armed convoy which would bring him from Ashtown railway station to the Vice-Regal Lodge in Phoenix Park, Dublin. The plan was for Martin Savage, Tom Kehoe, and Dan Breen to push a hay-cart halfway across the road blocking the path of French's car. Their plan was almost foiled, as an RIC officer disturbed them. One of IRA men lobbed a grenade at him, which did not go off but knocked him unconscious. The RIC officer was then dragged from the road. When the convoy appeared minutes later, the IRA unit attacked the second car. However French had actually been in the first car which had already passed. In the ensuing crossfire Dan Breen was shot in the leg, and seconds later Savage fell mortally wounded after being hit by a bullet in the neck, while French safely continued his journey. French resigned as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on 30 April 1921 and was replaced by Lord Edmund Talbot, a Catholic who was perceived as likely to be more acceptable to the Irish people.

The women won the jumping competitions easily. It seems a few of them go round and round Ireland, jumping; but this is the first time they have been allowed to jump at Dublin Show.

  • No lady was allowed to ride in any jumping competition until 1919.
  • A novelty class for women was introduced in 1919. In 1920 women were able to compete freely.
  • Women were permitted to compete in the international competitions from 1954 (an international rule).
  • In times past the Ladies Hunter Classes for ladies riding side-saddle in traditional costume (veil and habit) were judged on the Thursday of the Show. As a result Thursday became Ladies' Day.

RDS 1919


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Bicycling in France

Monday August 26th., in France

We bicycled yesterday through Montigny, Grez, Villiers-sous-Grez, Larchant and Nemours.

 In the area of Fontainbleau, Ile-de-France, south of Paris.

And I exhausted myself in pushing Marguerite about ten miles altogether against a head wind. We had tea at Villiers, just a straggling village without any attraction except that of its own life. During our meal the drone of a steam thresher was heard rising and falling continually.

Tea in the street; they brought out and pitched for us a table, also vast thick basins, which we got changed for small coffee cups. But we could not prevent the fat neat clean landlady from serving the milk in a two quart jug which would have filled about a million coffee cups. We sat in the wind on yellow iron chairs, and we had bread and perhaps a pound of butter, and a plate of sweet biscuits which drew scores of flies. Over the houses we could see the very high weather cock of the church.
St Etienne, Villiers-sous-Grez
Everything was beaten by wind and sunshine. From the inside of the little inn came hoarse argumentative voices. Curious to see in this extremely unsophisticated village a Parisian cocotte of the lower ranks. She was apparently staying at the inn. With her dog, and her dyed hair (too well arranged), and her short skirt, and her matinee (at 4.30 pm), and her hard eyes, she could not keep from exhibiting herself in the road. The instinct of 'exposition' was too strong in her to be resisted. She found fifty excuses for popping into the house and out again.
Then we road through woods five kilometres to Larchant. You know that the cathedral at Larchant is a show-place because the post cards are two sous each.

Although partly ruined, the church St., Machurin still presents an imposing aspect. The church started to rise in second half of the 12th century, a little after Notre-Dame of Paris and, in 1176, the choir and the transept were to be mainly completed since one transferred the "reliquary" from Saint.-Mathurin. It is probable that the same architects and the same " tailors of images " worked in Notre-Dame and Saint-Mathurin. In the second quarter of the 13th century, work of the church was already rather advanced (construction of the nave), when one made the decision to add a tower to the primitive plan, intended to be used of porch and bell-tower. This tower, high, 50 meters is distinguished in the neighbourhoods and it is by it that the church of Larchant enjoys with far from a precisely deserved reputation. Later, at the end of 13th and the 14th century, one built each side of the chorus, a vault, with north, and a sacristy and a treasure in the south. The vault, dedicated to the Virgin, is a true jewel of ogival architecture. But few religious buildings had to undergo the insults of the men and the devastations of the natural disasters, like the church of Larchant. In 1827, the ruined tower was sold to a manufacturer like stone quarry. But the market was cancelled because of the difficulty of work: in spite of its state of decay, the church still resisted the pickaxes of the demolition contracters. In 1843, the church Saint- Mathurin was classified "Historic monument".
Ruins of cathedral church at Larchant

Then the eight kilometres of straight but atrocious road to Nemours, whence, having deposited our wives at the station, Marriott and I road home at 12.5 miles per hour.

Frederick Marriott,  R.E., R.B.C, A.R.C.A. was born on 20th October 1860 at Stoke-on-Trent, England, brother of the artist Frank Pickford Marriott. He received his early training in the school of Art, Coalbrookdale, and at the age of 14 went to work as a pottery painter in a factory. In 1879 he gained a National Scholarship at the R.C.A. where he studied for three years.
Marriott then worked as a designer and illustrator to Marcus Wood and Company. He later became Chief Designer with Eyre and Spottiswood, and remained for four and a half years. He practised repoussé work, wood carving, enamelling and modelling, and produced some fine panels in modelled gesso with mother-of-pearl inlay.Marriott exhibited at the R.A., R.E., in the provinces and at the Paris Salon. He was Design Master at Blackheath Art School, Headmaster of the Onslow College Art School, Chelsea, and Headmaster, Goldsmith's Institute, 1895-1925. He was a member of the Arts and Crafts Society, also the Art Workers' Guild, and was elected A.R.E. 1909, R.E. 1924. Made continental tours working on town scenes with the emphasis on architecture, and also visited and painted in Australia about 1910.
He was an associate of Brangwyn, Clausen, Drury and East.  Marriott Lived in London and died on October 2nd, 1941.

Me at Les Sablons by F Marriott

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Contemplating defeat

Tuesday, August 25th., at Thorpe-le-Soken

Yesterday's rumours. Mathews (who came with wife and daughter to play tennis) said that a friend of his had a friend who with others had been sent out to Belgium, a fortnight before the declaration of war, with British guns for the Liege forts and to instruct the Belgians in the use of the said guns.
Map of the forts at Liege
This friend's friend had not returned. The theory held by the friend was that the Germans were taken by surprise by the range of the Liege guns. This reminds me that though we had constant news that the Liege forts were holding out, we have only had indirect news that they have fallen.

In the Battle of Liège the Liège fortifications fulfilled their role, stopping the German army long enough to allow the Belgian and French armies to mobilize. The battle revealed shortcomings in the performance of the forts and in the Belgian strategy. The forts themselves suffered from inherent weakness of construction through poor understanding of concrete technology, as well as overall inadequate protection for the garrison and ammunition stores from heavy-caliber artillery bombardment. Unbreathable air from bombardment, the fort's own gun gases and from human waste compelled the surrender of most of the positions. However, the days-long delay caused by the fortress ring allowed the Belgian, and more importantly, the French armies to complete their mobilizations. Had the Germans captured Liège as they had hoped, by a bold stroke, the German army could have been in Paris before France could organize its defence at the First Battle of the Marne.

Clemenceau is right in demanding full news of defeats.

Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) was French prime minister twice, in 1906-09 and from November 1917-20. Nicknamed "The Tiger", Clemenceau's staunch republicanism brought him into early conflict with Napoleon III's government.  Although trained as a doctor he travelled to the U.S. where he remained for several years as a teacher and journalist, returning to France in 1869.
In 1902 Clemenceau was elected senator, and in 1906 became minister of the interior and then premier.  During his first tenure as prime minister he forged closer ties with Britain and settled the Moroccan crisis.
In 1909 Clemenceau's government fell and in the following years Clemenceau vigorously attacked Germany and argued for greater military preparedness in the event of war.
Clemenceau became premier in November 1917, and remained in the post until 1920.  Having become prime minister for the second time he formed a coalition cabinet, serving as minister of war himself. Clemenceau worked to revive French morale in the country at large, and persuaded the Allies to agree to a unified military command; he energetically pursued the war until its conclusion in November 1918. At the Paris Peace Conference Clemenceau insisted upon the complete humiliation of Germany, requiring German disarmament and severe reparations; France also won back Alsace-Lorraine. In the presidential elections of January 1920 Clemenceau was defeated, ironically after facing charges that he was too lenient in his treatment of Germany at the Treaty.
Following his retirement from politics Clemenceau wrote his autobiography, In the Evening of my Thought (1929).  He predicted a renewed war with Germany by 1940.  He died on 24 November 1929 in Paris.

Psychological consequence of fall of Namur.

As at Liege, the city of Namur had been fortified between 1888 and 1892 under the direction of military engineer Brialmont with the construction of a ring of forts around the city It was believed that the forts, accompanied by the deployment of infantry, would protect the Sambre and Meuse Rivers against German invasion. In theory the capture of Namur ought to have been easier than at Liege: the garrison was low on morale, ammunition and, most critically, manpower. At its best Namur was garrisoned with approximately 37,000 men, against which was arrayed at least 107,000 German troops. The Germans decided to repeat their earlier success at Liege by bombarding the forts with heavy artillery, including the powerful Big Bertha gun (a 420mm siege howitzer) Two days after von Bulow had launched his assault, Namur was close to collapse on 23 August. The decision was taken to evacuate Namur that day, with German forces entering the city in the evening The last of the forts fell soon afterwards.

We were all discussing last night what we in this house ought to do if the Germans came. The general result was: nothing!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Spotting spies

Sunday August 23rd., at Thorpe-le-Soken

A tale yesterday that eighty men had been engaged all day in searching for a spy who had not been found (in this neighbourhood that is)!

 Spying in WW1 - Defence of the Realm

German spies that were caught in the UK during World War One (1914-8)
were dealt with under various sections of the Defence of the Realm 
legislation. It was for acts committed under this law,
that the leaders of the Irish Easter Uprising were courts-martialled.
Roger Casement, who was tried and executed in 1916, was tried 
under the High Treason Act.
The condemned spies were shot by firing squad either in the 
old miniature rifle range in The Tower of London or The Tower's ditch. 
The rifle range was demolished for office space in 1969, and later 
converted into car-parking space. All the executed spies were 
buried in East London Cemetery, in Plaistow, London.
The following table list the people executed by firing squad 
at the Tower of London during World War One.

Name Trial Type Executed
Karl Lody Courts-Martial 6 November 1914
C.F. Muller Old Bailey 23 June 1915
W.J. Roos courts-martial 30 July 1915
H.P.M. Janseen courts-martial 30 July 1915
E.W. Melin courts-martial 10 September 1915
A.A. Roggin courts-martial 17 September 1915
F. Buschman courts-martial 19 September 1915
G.T. Breeckow Old Bailey 26 October 1915
I.G. Ries courts-martial 27 October 1915
A. Meyer courts-martial 2 December 1915
L.H. Zender courts-martial 11 April 1916
Sullivan said that he had an enormous belief in the British Expeditionary Force, and that he thought it would "cause consternation"!

The British Expeditionary Force or BEF was the force sent to the Western Front during World War I. Planning for a British Expeditionary Force began with the Haldane reforms of the British Army carried out by the Secretary of State for War Richard Haldane following the Second Boer War (1899–1902).[1]
The term "British Expeditionary Force" is often used to refer only to the forces present in France prior to the end of the First Battle of Ypres on 22 November 1914. By the end of 1914—after the battles of Mons, the Le Cateau, the Aisne and Ypres—the old regular British army had been wiped out, although it managed to help stop the German advance.[2] An alternative endpoint of the BEF was 26 December 1914, when it was divided into the First and Second Armies (a third, fourth and fifth being created later in the war). B.E.F. remained the official name of the British Army in France and Flanders throughout WW1.
German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm, who was famously dismissive of the BEF, reportedly issued an order on 19 August 1914 to "exterminate...the treacherous English and walk over General French's contemptible little army". Hence, in later years, the survivors of the regular army dubbed themselves "The Old Contemptibles". No evidence of any such order being issued by the Kaiser has ever been found. It was likely a British propaganda invention, albeit one often repeated as fact.

Nevertheless, Sullivan was sure that the Germans would get to Paris, and he bet me a present worth £5 that they would.

Herbert ('Bertie') Thomas Sullivan (13 May 1868 – 26 November 1928) was the nephew, heir and biographer of the British composer Arthur Sullivan. After his uncle's death, Sullivan became active in charitable work. He was co-author of a biography of Arthur Sullivan, well regarded in its day, but later discredited because of its glossing over of the composer's gambling and philandering.

Herbert Sullivan (on the right) with his uncle

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Welcomed at The Grange

Sunday, August 22nd.

At 4.35 we hired a car and went to take tea at the Lewises, The Grange, Rottingdean.

The Grange, Rottingdean
The Grange is a Georgian house, originally built as a vicarage. It was later extended by the Rev Dr Thomas Redman Hooker, much loved vicar from 1792 - 1838. It is possible that an underground tunnel ran from here to the beach for Dr Hooker's sideline as a smugglers' "lookout" man! More respectably, he established a well-known school for boys that attracted the sons of many wealthy and distinguished families. His effigy and plaque are on the wall in nearby St Margaret's Church. A nationally more famous resident was Sir William Nicholson RA who produced a number of downland and coastal oil paintings of this area where he lived between 1909 - 1914. He called himself "the painter of the Downs".

About 10 or 12 people there. Sir George Lewis had ridden two hours on the Downs, had bathed, and had played tennis.

Typical South Downs scenery

Both Sir G.and Lady Lewis curiously and naively house-proud and garden-proud.
The garden is fine, with various lawns and good trees and fruit. Lewis explained how he had bought a hill on the Downs in order to preserve a view unspoilt. He has 71 acres of his own.

                                                  The Grange Garden

It was whilst the Grange was owned by the artist William Nicholson and the lawyer Sir George Lewis at the beginning of the 2oth century, that the garden was transformed from simple rolling lawns and trees to its present distinct character. The designer was Sir Edwin Lutyens who, with the help of Gertrude Jekyll created the four gardens: the formal front garden, the north walkway, the flagged courtyard and the walled wide-bedded top garden. In 2006 the Rottingdean Preservation Society embarked on restoring the Lutyens' garden to its former glory. a volunteer gardening group was formed and set about the arduous task of clearing the ivy from the trees and walls and the shrubs and brambles from the courtyard, finally revealing Lutyens' distinctive slate slabs, niches and alcoves, miraculously undamaged.



Sir G. is very agreeable as an oriental is agreeable. Lady Lewis also was most agreeable: she kissed Dorothy like anything at parting, yet had scarcely known her before. They were extremely hospitable. I had quite a chat with Sir G. and Lady, in the former's little room where he works - for he always works. They were most insistent on me arranging for German translation of my books.

Sir George Lewis died in mysterious circumstances in Switzerland on August 8th 1927 - accident or suicide?


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Rumours of war

Friday, August 21st

Davray wrote me the other day from Paris stating without any hint of scepticism (1) that the menu of the dinner which the Kaiser was to eat in Paris on August 12th had been prepared in advance. And (2) that in the cellars of the Hotel du Rhin a garlanded bust of the emperor had been found ready to expose in the Place Vendome when the Kaiser should pass through.

Hotel du Rhin in the Place Vendome

Great spectacular depressing fact of the surrender of Brussels to the Germans this morning. But by the afternoon I had got quite used to it, and was convinced that it was part of the Allies preconceived plan and that all was well. But before getting this reassuring conviction I had gone upstairs and written 1200 words in 2 hours!

Kaiser Wilhelm (as popularly portrayed)

Henry Davray sometimes Henry-David Davray, born Durand, born in 1872 and died in London in 1944. Henry Davray was at the beginning of the last century, a prominent popularizer of literature from across the Channel, by translating and discovering the works of Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, Frank Harris, HG Wells, Joseph Conrad and George Meredith . He translated the famous HG Wells novel The War of the Worlds.
He created several journals, the best known being the Anglo-French Review. After the First World War , its action in favor of the spread of English prose helped it to become the most famous French literary circles in Britain, where he settled in 1940 after being made ​​a Commander of the British Order Empire by King George VI . In 1946, the urn containing his ashes was interred in the cemetery of Bricquebec in the family vault
"His name may be honored like a good servant of Western culture,"  
Pierre Leberruyer

Monday, 20 August 2012

A Gaucho in London

Monday August 20th.

I wrote pieces of an article. Lunch at home. I felt drowsy after it, and so went to the romantic Express Dairy in King's Road and had some china tea. Came back in a shower, and by 4.30 had finished my article. We dined at home and then, Dorothy having a sudden desire to see a film, we went and saw Douglas Fairbanks's "The Gaucho". Vast house, quite full - a wonderful sight. Goodish film on its pseudo-romantic plane. Fairbanks really admirable. On the whole tolerable!

Length:1 Hour 36 Minutes
Cast:F. Richard Jones, Douglas Fairbanks, Eve Southern, Lupe Velez

Douglas Fairbanks' The Gaucho is a curiosity: a traditional Fairbanks actioner with decidedly unsavory, unpleasant and uncharacteristic overtones. For the first time in his career, Fairbanks plays what would have been a villainous role in anyone else's film: An outlaw leader who exploits religion for his own nefarious purposes. As the unofficial leader of Miracle City, Fairbanks laughs aloud as the faithful flock to the shrine of the Madonna: he knows that, once they've left, he can claim the pitiful alms they've left behind. Eventually, however, Fairbanks experiences a religious conversion, thanks in part to the love of a good woman and in great part to a deus-ex-machina appearance by the Madonna Herself (portrayed, unbilled, by Fairbanks' wife Mary Pickford). A subplot involving leprosy and suicide adds to the overall discomforting tone of the film. Despite its lapses in taste, The Gaucho amassed a fortune for Fairbanks, who in 1928 could do no wrong at the box office. Lupe Velez makes her first major film appearance as a lusty mountain girl. Hal Erickson