Category Archives: Diaries

Memoirs of Henry Keppel -1809

Memoirs of Henry Keppel -1809

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, GCB, OM (14 June 1809 – 17 January 1904) was a British admiral and son of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. “A man might achieve great legislative results, do great deeds, and be a most useful member of society, but unless he possessed the gift of personality he would be to the general public as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”  Henry Keppel undoubtedly possessed that gift.

Below is the first installment of a selection of his memoirs, others will follow over the coming weeks,

There was life in the ‘small thing’

There was life in the ‘small thing’Harry Keppel, in the description of his sailor’s life, tells how he was born at Earl’s Court, Kensington, on June 14, [1809], so frail a child that he was deposited in his father’s footpan, to be interred in a garden at the back of the house, not being thought of sufficient importance to be entitled to a grave in consecrated ground; and yet, so wonderful are the contradictions and vagaries of Nature, that this frail atom of humanity, saved by the fond care of his nurse, lived to the age of ninety-four.  Descended from the Arnold Joost Van Keppel who accompanied the Prince of Orange to this country in [1688], and was created Earl of Albemarle, Harry unquestionably inherited his ancestor’s ‘sweet and obliging temper and winning manners.’  Burke said,   ‘The Keppels have two countries one of descent and one of birth.  Their interests and glory are the same.’

It is needless to say that Harry was born a pure Whig; and as his elder brother’s sponsor was Charles James Fox, so his was Henry Lord Holland, on whose statue in the park of Holland House is inscribed this quatrain:

Nephew of Fox and friend of Grey,
Be mine no higher fame
If those who deign to watch me say
I’ve sullied neither name.

His elder brother, Lord Albemarle, in his ‘Fifty Years of My Life,’ tells us how as a boy fresh from Westminster he obtained a commission as ensign in the 14th Foot, and was just in time to take part in the battle of Waterloo.

Harry has often told me how vivid was his recollection of hearing the news of that battle in his Norfolk home, and of his firm belief that his brother had personally vanquished the Great Napoleon Bonaparte in single combat.  This idea was not at all dissipated by the hero-worship which surrounded that brother on his return to Quidenham.

Out hunting one day, his fond father turned to a Norfolk farmer, and said with pride: ‘What do you think of my son’s horsemanship?’

‘He du ride just like a fule,’ replied the farmer in his Norfolk dialect.

Keppel’s schooldays were the schooldays of thousands of other high-spirited boys; and he remained a high-spirited boy to the end, an example of the truth and best meaning of the saying: ‘Whom the gods love die young.’

‘Granny’ a little child once asked, ‘are you old or young?’ ‘My dear’ was the answer,  ‘I have been young a great many years.’

And in his old age Harry Keppel was still young.

Coke of Norfolk, as he was habitually called, was a Whig of the old Charles Fox school, whose political sympathy with the Keppels drew the two families into close intimacy; and at an early age, when a large party was assembled at Holkham, Mr. Coke took Harry into his study and told him to sit in a particular chair; which he did, not without some apprehension of what was to follow.  He was soon relieved on being told by Mr. Coke that he had been sitting on the chair on which Nelson had once sat.  How little either then thought that the boy would follow in that great man’s footsteps!

Excerpt from Sir Henry Keppel – Admiral of the Fleet – by Sir Algernon Edward West – 1905


Further Reading and External Links

Henry Keppel on Wikipedia


The Impressions of a Careless Traveler – 1903

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Excerpt from the New Outlook Magazine – Saturday 14th February 1903 – The Impressions of a Careless Traveler – regarding  a trip to the Crimea aboard the ship Prinzessin organised through The Cook Company – Thomas Cook as we know them today.

The Impressions of a Careless Traveler – 1903

The next morning the problem how we were to get on board our steamer presented itself.  The wind, rattling the shutters and blowing open the French windows of our room, gave us no hope of a quiet sea, and I was not surprised to see the yacht moving up and down – in more ways than one – a half-mile or more from the shore.  I succeeded by signs in getting from the landlord of the lodging house a glass of tea and some bread and butter for the ladies, and then started out to reconnoiter. 

At seven o’clock I was at the chief hotel, but no one knew what was to be done, and every new passenger I met had a new rumor to repeat or a new plan to propose.  We must ride back to Sevastopol; the horses were exhausted and the drivers would not take us; we must wait here until the sea goes down; we are going to be taken to the steamer in launches, etc., etc.  At length it began to be reported, though still no official notice was given, that there was a Russian local steamer inside the breakwater, that we were all to go on board of her, that she was to take us back to Sevastopol, and that we were to embark on the Prinzessin in the harbor there.  This arrangement was in fact made, I believe by the captain of our steamer through the intermediary of the first officer.  We had nothing to pay on the steamer, except for luncheon if we chose to take it. 

So far as I know, not till all the arrangements were consummated and most of the passengers had gotten word and were on board, or preparing to go on board, did the agents of the Cook Company appear again.  Whether they kept out of sight because they did not know what to do, or because they wanted to avoid for Cook all responsibility for the predicament in which we were placed, I do not know. 

Generalisations from a single experience or a brief series of experiences are not very safe; but the results of our experiences on this trip confirmed Mr.–‘s advice to me; before I left New York he said: “Buy your circular tickets of Cook; occasionally you can use him to advantage in especial carriage trips-but avoid the personally conducted tour.”   In fact, we paid a good price at Sevastopol in order to have all care taken off, and when the crisis came it all tumbled back on us again; we paid for a third day’s excursion-to the garden of the Czar-which we never had, and had not only to pay our bills at Yalta, to which I do not especially object, but had to shift for ourselves under circumstances of no little perplexity, while our personal conductors disappeared from the scene, not to appear again until all the trouble and perplexity were passed. 

To our surprise, the Russian steamer, though primarily for freight, had very comfortable provision for passengers, and we, with unexpected steadiness, steamed back over the water which we had looked down upon the day before, our “yacht” accompanying us all the way.  Although we lost our promised view of the palaces and the splendours they contain, we gained a new view of the marvellous cliffs along which we had driven.  We are now at home again on the Prinzessin.  Our time on the yacht is growing short, and we begin to wonder whether after the exchange to land traveling we shall be as comfortable.  But there is a pleasant thought in the idea of longer time in our stopping places and larger space for manipulating our luggage to compensate for the luxuries we shall leave. 


Excerpt from the New Outlook Magazine – Saturday 14th February 1903 – The Impressions of a Careless Traveler.  Coming soon – read the response to this article from Thomas Cook & Son.

Martin Luther writes to Henry VIII

The Life and Letters of Martin Luther

by Reserved Smith PH.D. 1911

Martin Luthers Letter to Henry VIII – September 1, 1525

September 1 he dispatched the following missive:

Wittenberg, September 1, 1525.

Grace and peace in Christ, our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.  Indeed, Most Serene and Illustrious King, I ought greatly to fear to address your Majesty in a letter, as I am fully aware that your Majesty is deeply offended at my pamphlet, which I published foolishly and precipitately, not of my own motion but at the hest of certain men who are not your Majesty’s friends.  But daily seeing your royal clemency, I take hope and courage; I will not believe that a mortal can cherish immortal hatred.  I have learned from credible authority that the book published over your Majesty’s name was not written by your Majesty, but by crafty men of guile who abused your name, especially by that monster detested of God and man, that pest of your kingdom, Cardinal Wolsey.  They did not see the danger of humiliating their king.  I am ashamed to raise my eyes to your Majesty because I allowed myself to be moved by this despicable work of malignant intriguers, especially as I am the offscouring of the world, a mere worm who ought only to live in contemptuous neglect.

What impels me to write, abject as I am, is that your Majesty has begun to favor the Evangelic cause and to feel disgust at the abandoned men who oppose us.  This news was a true gospel ie: tidings of great joy to my heart;  If your Serene Majesty wishes me to recant publicly and write in honor of your Majesty, will you graciously signify your wish to me and I will gladly do so….

Your Majesty’s most devoted,
MARTIN LUTHER, with his own hand.

Henry VIII

This letter naturally did no good.  Indeed, though Luther was certainly sincere in his desire to conciliate, he never displayed greater lack of tact than in dispraising the King’s book and favorite minister.  After a long delay, Henry replied in a fiercer work than before, printing Luther’s missive with mocking comments, and taunting him with having caused the Peasants’ Revolt and with living in wantonness with a nun.

The King sent his epistle, which reached the proportions of a small book, to Duke George, and it was promptly published in Germany at his instigation under the title, ‘Luther’s Offer to Recant in a letter to the King of England.’

Diary of a Freshman

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The Diary of a Freshman
by Charles Macomb Flandrau – 1901

Diary of a Freshman – On Saturday afternoons and Sundays we bicycled a great deal when the roads began to get into shape. The whole table would start off and explore the park system, and once we made a historical tour of Lexington and Concord, which Berri wrote up for the Lampoon. I think Berri will make the Lampoon next year if he keeps on. His way of going about it is killing. He writes things, and then comes into my room with a solemn, anxious face, and says “Do you think this is funny? Glance through it carelessly and tell me just how it strikes you. I think it’s perfectly side-splitting myself, I do really; but it mightn’t strike anybody else that way.” Then there was Riverside, where the Charles all but loses itself between steep, cool, shady banks, under trees that peer over the edges all through the long, drowsy summer, or flows brimming across a meadow where a man ploughs a rich black border and talks to his horses and sings. It takes just the amount of effort you like to make, to follow in a canoe the course of this lazy stream. Riverside is another place to which you like to take all the essentials for study except the power of will.

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