Touriſt of Death

One may consider the tourist of death meme modern, but the following eighteenth century book suggests it’s older than we think.

A seemingly innocent travelogue by one Samuel Ireland, insouciantly recording works of art and partaking of other highbrow activities in 1789, oblivious to the the French Revolution happening stage left as noises off.

Here’s the text of the title page in text (when you wrote down street names as hyphenated – it looks strange now, but it was the custom):

A PICTURESQUE TOUR THROUGH HOLLAND, BRABANT, AND PART of FRANCE, MADE IN THE AUTUMN OF 1789, BY SAMUEL IRELAND, AUTHOR OF THE HISTORIES AND PICTURESQUE SCENERY OF THE RIVERS THAMES, MEDWAY, AND AVON, AND GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS OF HOGARTH. THE SECOND EDITION, WITH ADDITIONS; AND AN ENTIRE NEW SET OF COPPER-PLATES IN AQUA-TINTA, FROM DRAWINGS MADE ON THE SPOT. IPSE OCULIS PERLUSTRAVIT. LIV. VOL. I. LONDON: PRINTED FOR T. EGERTON, WHITEHALL; WHITES, FLEET-STREET ; ROBSON, HOOKHAM & CARPENTER, AND FAULDER, BOND-STREET ; LEIGH AND SOTHEBY, YORK-STREET, COVENT-GARDEN ; PAYNE, MEWSGATE ; SEWELL, CORNHILL ; AND G. SAEL, STRAND. 1796.

However, and perhaps disappointingly, Mr Ireland is not, as it turns out, quite so careless of what was going on around him at the time. A part of the preface (to the second edition) begins as follows:

Political discussions were not originally intended to form a part of this work, nor would they have been at all adverted to, but from the very peculiar and interesting circumstances that presented themselves at that moment. Those were of so extraordinary a nature as to command the attention of Europe, and more immediately that of our own country, whose existence in a great measure we have found deeply interested in the events then depending. …

He’s not going to remain silent about what was going on in France at the time. In fact the rest of that part of the preface says he’s left the revolutionary discussions, those that he put in the first edition, unaltered.

His travels started in Holland, and his writings are accompanied by anecdotes. Here’s the first one:

… The late King (George the Second) on his return from one of his excursions to Hanover, being detained some weeks by contrary winds, fixed his residence in one of them in preference to every other accommodation the town afforded. In one of his rambles, meeting a pretty Dutch girl on the quay, he accosted her with a Good morrow ! what have you in your basket, child ? Eyeren, Mynheer ; eggs, Sir. And what is the price, my dear ? A ducat a piece. What ! are eggs so scarce then in Holland ? No, Sir, replied the girl, but Kings are.

Tee, as they say, hee.

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Charlotte

On 1 April, 1813, this small report of royal shenanigans is carried in the Courier and Evening Gazette of London.

Wednesday se’nnight, the Princess Charlotte wrote a letter to the Prince Regent, requesting his gracious permission to pay her personal duty to her Mother, on the melancholy event of the death of the Duchess of Brunswick. In the evening, it is said, she received a verbal message that it would be time enough, and more decorous, to visit her after the obsequies. On Thursday the Princess wrote a second letter, beseeching his Royal Highness to grant her leave to visit her Mother. Having received no second message to the contrary, the Princess on the Friday said that silence gave consent, and she went to Blackheath.

1813, Charlotte writes to her dad, the Prince Regent, for permission to visit her mother on the occasion of her grandmother's death. She doesn't get it. She goes anyway.

Charlotte would be dead, four years later, giving birth to a stillborn. Thus was wrecked the line of succession of Georges I to IV. Had her son survived, Queen Victoria (the daughter of Charlotte’s great uncle Edward) would not have been invented. But he didn’t, so Victoria assumed the position after George IV (Charlotte’s father of course) clogpopped himself – twenty years after Charlotte shuffled off.

This was one dysfunctional family.

Gang

In 1898, Queen Victoria has her photograph taken by Robert Milne at Balmoral. Aged 79 (the photo was taken in June) she sits with three princesses to her right and three princes – and another princess – to her left. Looking all the world like a crime family portrait.

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The Latest Portrait of the Queen: A Royal Group from Balmoral

The caption runs from left to right under the picture (from The Graphic). It names neither Queen – almost indistinguishable from Alfred Hitchcock – nor toddler, and reads

  • Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein
  • The Princess Leiningen
  • Princess Victoria of Wales
  • Princess Henry of Prussia
  • Prince Waldemar of Prussia
  • Prince Maurice of Battenberg

That uncredited (presumably no speaking part) two year old child in white is Prince Sigismund of Prussia, behind his brother Waldemar in the sailor outfit, both to our right of their mother Irene (aka Princess Henry) whose sister Alexandra would be the last Tsarina. Little Sigismund will last the longest and will die in 1978.

The other sitting elder, Marie Amelie of Baden (aka Princess Ernst of Leiningen), would be dead within a year.

The pair of standing Victoriae are both granddaughters of the principal sitter. Victoria Alexandra Olga Mary (of Wales) is the fourth child of Victoria’s son Edward (VII, to be, in another three years). And Helena Victoria – the one on the left of the picture – is the daughter of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, and looks rather too ‘related’ to Irene if you ask me. They both have that Habsburg chin deal going on.

The kid on the extreme right, the quasi-Scot Maurice, is the son of Prince Henry of Battenberg and old Vic’s grandson.

They all kind of owned a hefty chunk of planet, back then.

Hel, Vic & Reen

Brouhaha

There’s a timeline for the Dreyfus case which had started, essentially, four years earlier than the pictures here – drawings and sketches from issues of The Graphic from January and February – show.

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The Esterhazy court-martial in early 1898, designed to clear him, led to Émile Zola’s famous letter in l’Aurore of 14 January 1898, for which the novelist was himself brought to trial a month later. That was fast – they didn’t hang around back then, it seems.

The Trial of M. Zola

The trial of M. Zola and the publisher of the Aurore, on a charge of defamation based on M. Zola’s letter with reference to the Esterhazy Court-Martial, was begun in Paris on Monday. The Advocate-General stated the case for the prosecution, and contended that any attempt to introduce the Dreyfus case would be illegal. Maître Labori, counsel for M. Zola, claimed the right to show the grounds on which his client demanded a revision of the Dreyfus judgement. The Court decided that no evidence should be admitted except on the paragraphs cited in the plaint of the Minister of War. On the list of witnesses being called over, a letter was read from the Minister of Justice declining to authorise the Minister of War to attend. Many of the other military and civil officials who had been summoned to attend also refused to appear on a plea of official secrecy. The Court then adjourned to permit of the framing of applications for the summoning of witnesses.

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No photography in the courtroom. I’ve always thought that a little strange. You can draw – and mercilessly caricature – all you like in a courtroom, but you can’t take a ‘real’ photograph.

Anyway, that’s by the way. Back in 1898 there’s a bit of a ruckus in the Chamber of Deputies:

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The Dreyfus Question in Paris: The Scene in the Chamber of Deputies
Drawn by Tofani

An interpellation by M. Cavaignac on the Dreyfus case gave rise to a scene of violent recrimination in the Chamber of Deputies on Saturday. An angry altercation ensued between M. de Bernis and M.Jaurès (Socialist), and while the latter was speaking M. de Bernis made a rush for the tribune, but was stopped by the Socialists. A series of hand-to-hand encounters took place, and M. de Bernis forced his way to the tribune and struck M. Jaurès. Members, conservative and Socialist, went to the help of their friends, and around the tribune the mélée became general. The contest was not confined to the floor of the Chamber, for the occupants of the visitors’ and reporters’ galleries took sides, and the whole House became a pandemonium. The galleries were closed and soldiers were brought in to keep order in the lobbies

Meanwhile, back in court, by the end of February the trial is already over and Émile Zola is found guilty of libel.

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After the verdict: M. Touny, commissary, informing M. Zola’s friends of the provision made for his safety on leaving the court
Drawn by Malteste

The people in the sketch are, from left to right, Fernand Desmoulins, Georges Clémenceau, Émile Zola, Pasquelle, Octave Mirbeau, and Commisary Touny.

The Spanish Maine?

Telegrams from Havana report that a terrible disaster occurred on Tuesday night to the United States cruiser Maine, lying off Havana. The greater part of the crew were asleep when, at a quarter to ten, a terrific explosion occurred. The explosion set fire to the ship, and in the end the vessel sank. All the boats of the Spanish cruiser Alfonso XII were lowered to render assistance. About 200 sailors are reported to be missing. Many were blown into the sea, and were able to save themselves by swimming until picked up by boats. All the officers escaped.

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The United states Cruiser “Maine”

The Maine is an armoured cruiser of 6,682 tons and 9,000 horsepower, and is one of the finest vessels in the United States Navy, having been built only a few years ago at a cost of over half a million sterling. Her complement is about 400 officers and men.

From The Graphic, 19 Feb 1898, page 219. Soon after this event, we’re into the Spanish American War. “You furnish the pictures, and I’ll furnish the war

Pre War Bibby

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Joseph Bibby

Editor of Bibby’s Annual, from a photograph taken just before leaving home.

(Picture taken at Medrington’s Studio.)

Joseph Bibby was a factory owner with somewhat enlightened (for the time) attitudes who dabbled in journalism. Political and theosophical articles abounded, and his contributors concentrated – for the most part – on art and literature, with many colour photographs.

Here are a few of his Annuals for sale. Many booksellers have this material available, but there doesn’t seem to be any kind of authoritative information on him. No fan site.

Here’s the 1912 Annual’s cover:

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Like many others, he was an admirer of Annie Besant

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But he wasn’t averse to talking about the super-rich.

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John D Rockefeller

Born 1839. Head of the Standard Oil Companies, and probably the richest man in material wealth that ever lived.

Picture taken by Underwood and Underwood. Note the qualified material wealth. Passive-aggressive or what? Just sayin’ (whistle).

Before the first world war, as is typical of attitudes in Britain, Kaiser Bill was an OK guy.

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Kaiser Wilhelm

William II, third German Emperor and ninth King of Prussia, was born in 1859, and ascended to the throne in 1888. At birth he found himself already at the top of the tree; but it is not too much to say that if he had been born in any other walk of life, his marked energy and ability would have brought him conspicuously to the front. He is a hard worker, a sincere and conscientious monarch, and an example to all of devotion to duty and unflinching patriotism.

(Picture taken by W S Stuart, Richmond.)

Paris

The Revolution in Paris, after the Prussians left – having recently become Germans – did not go well for the populace. There’s this picture, from 8th April 1871, on page 312 of volume 3, issue 71 of The Graphic. Although many of its drawings were, I don’t believe this one’s from a photograph. Mainly because the artist has signed it at the bottom right. But secondly (despite its ‘nineteenth century engraving’ Erscheinungsbild) because it looks so modern, like something by the recently dear-departed Jean Giraud. Are they children in the bottom right? And is that an upturned grand piano that they’re hauling away as if they can put it to good use? I will admit to fiddling with the colouring though. The original image is monochromatic, but the gimp‘s untweaked colour correction has produced something rather interesting.

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The Paris Mob – A Barricade in Paris

Later on in the year (issue 80, Saturday 10th June) the insurrection has officially failed, the winners are writing the history and executing the losers (cf previous post). And the graphic reportage (page 532) seems conventional and distant – looking more like the output of a state-appointed official war artist. But I may be cherry-picking for effect, so do beware.

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Street Fighting in the Rue de Rivoli