Whymper's London Diary, January-June 1855

The Apprenticeship of a Mountaineer: Edward Whymper's London Diary, 1855-1859. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 2008.

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Edward Whymper, 'Whymper's London Diary, January-June 1855', in The Apprenticeship of a Mountaineer: Edward Whymper's London Diary, 1855-1859, (London, 2008) pp. 1-17. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-record-soc/vol43/pp1-17 [accessed 24 May 2024].

Edward Whymper. "Whymper's London Diary, January-June 1855", in The Apprenticeship of a Mountaineer: Edward Whymper's London Diary, 1855-1859, (London, 2008) 1-17. British History Online, accessed May 24, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-record-soc/vol43/pp1-17.

Whymper, Edward. "Whymper's London Diary, January-June 1855", The Apprenticeship of a Mountaineer: Edward Whymper's London Diary, 1855-1859, (London, 2008). 1-17. British History Online. Web. 24 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-record-soc/vol43/pp1-17.

Edward Whymper's London diary 1855 – 1859

1855 – Book 1st. Commencing Jan 1st 1855 and ending Nov 30, 1855

[NOTE: First two pages missing]

27. Began 'Toast rack'. Cold day. In the evening went to Mr Swinfens at Kennington. No news whatever.

28. Sunday. Went in morning to Maze Pond, to hear Rev. J. Aldis, and in the evening staid at home on account of my cough. Cold and dry. No news.

29. Went on with 'Toast rack' and began 'Steel,' cut up some wood and went to Mr Darby at Carpenter Smith's Wharf. Cold day. No news. Mr Swinfens is engaged to work again. A good many away in the shop ill. We have a good deal of business, although it is said Dalziel the engraver discharged 7 hands the other day.

30. Finished 'Steel' cut up wood and drew 'Fag' over again and cut out overlays. Snowing and hailing almost all day. No news. Cough not much better if at all.

31. Finished 'Fag' and cut up wood and whited a large quantity of wood for Gosse the naturalist. Mamma and Papa gone to a party at Collingwood Smiths, the artists. A rare occurrence for them. Fred to Mr Eastty's, I staid at home on account of my cough and eyes, see 23rd of this month. Had very heavy falls of snow all the day. The wind very high.

1 February. Whited a quantity of wood. Drew 'Signature' and began 'Volute.' Very cold, but not snowing. No news. It is said that the French have now 1000000 men in the Crimea and that ours have dwindled away down to 12 or 14000.

2. Went on with 'Volute' and altered 'Steel' and 'Saltspoon.' Papa went to Peckham today, to Mr Leigh's to ask him to preach at Maze Pond some time in March, which he complied with. Mama went to the Ragged School to a treat given to the girls. Today the MINISTERS RESIGNED in consequence chiefly of a motion made by Mr Roebuck in the House of Commons to inquire into the conduct of the war, and the ministers, not wanting an inquiry, resigned. However, there will be one. The Queen sent for Lord Derby, but he refused to try and form a cabinet because Mr Gladstone and Lord Palmerston would not take office under him. The popular voice is for Lord Palmerston, but he has very little favour in the Queen's eyes. A cold day and snowing. Guns firing all day long. No reason known. (I suppose they must have been practising somewhere).

3. Went on with 'Volute.' A half holiday. Staid at home. It rained in the night and then froze, which made the roads in consequence like glass. Thawing in the afternoon, altogether a most awful mess. My cough almost gone.

4. Sunday. Went morning and evening to hear Mr Aldis at Maze Pond. Thawing, raining and a thick fog. A most filthy day for walking. Cough going away and Fred getting one. The Russians make frequent sorties from Sebastopol.

5. Finished 'Volute' and began 'Saltspoon.' A filthy day for walking. Castle our apprentice came back today after having been away nearly 3 months from rheumatism. Took the Societies books home in the afternoon. No news. The Queen after sending for everyone but the right person, at last sent for Lord Palmerston, and it is understood that he has undertaken to form a cabinet.

6. Finished 'Saltspoon' and altered a clock of Mr Gibson's drawing. A drizzly day. No news. Lord Palmerston has consented to form a cabinet. My mother's pea soup affair at the 'Ragged School' came off tonight, but I have not heard the result yet. (fn. 1)

7. Drew 'Saltspoon' over again, and went on with soup plate and traced some cuneiform characters belonging to the British Museum. No news. Cold and dry. No ministry formed yet. My father went to Mr Gilbert's.

8. Traced some more hieroglyphics. Snowed last night and all today. It lays very thick on the ground. A ministry formed with Lord Palmerston for Prime Minister, Lord Panmure Minister of War. With the exception of these, the ministers are the same. My mother is trying to get a blind boy into the school in St George's Fields and went her rounds today canvassing for votes for him. She was pretty successful and very sanguine. (fn. 2) Plenty of our business doing engraving, advertising for hands.

9. Went on with 'Soup plate' and went to Mr Gibson's. Cold day. No news. My mother going about for her blind boy. Our servants when they went down stairs early this morning mistook the snow sweeper (Hopkins) for a thief and came running upstairs tumbling over one another, frightened out of their wits.

10. Finished 'Soup plate.' Thawing and freezing. The thermometer 27° in rooms. No news. Thieves got into No 8 tonight and went in some gardens but were frightened away. The first number of the new illustrated paper (started in opposition to the Illustrated News) came out today. It was pretty good but not good enough to compete successfully with the other.

11. Went to Maze Pond twice, hearing Mr Aldis both times. Very cold, the snow however being beaten down, makes very good ground to walk on. My father has written to Lord Shaftesbury about the blind boy, but he has not seen fit to return any answer. Mrs Moore, who kept the house of business for us, went yesterday with her husband, on route for Australia.

12. Drew 'Spear' and 'Steel' over again. Cold day. No news. Bentley the publisher has failed for a large amount it is said, but he will still continue his business. The book meeting is going to take place next Wednesday week and we are to have a juvenile party after it (the next day) if all is well. We returned to the old way of working, 9 hours a day and being paid on Saturday, the other way not being found to answer well

13. Began soup tureen and began a piece of bacon. Very cold and snowing slightly. No news. Lord Russell is going out as plenipotentiary at Vienna for something (I don't know what). Bentley owes his paper maker between 8 and 9000£. My mother gave away the pea soup at the Ragged School again tonight. It seemed to answer very well. It was distributed to upwards of 100 boys and girls.

14. Went to Mr Read's. He was not fortunate in getting into the Old Water Colour Society, but he says he will try again. Very cold. No news. Some professor of astronomy has prophesied either today or tomorrow there will be the heaviest fall of snow that there has been for 60 years. The Thames is partially frozen and a great quantity of ice floating in it. The price of coals reaching up very high. I drew today 'Rectangle,' a diagram, and cut up a great deal of wood and began 'Plough.'

15. Cut up a lot of wood, went on with 'Plough' and went to Christian Know. Soc. Very cold. No news. The river is frozen over at Richmond and thousands of people skating and sliding on it. It was predicted by different persons that there would either be a great thaw or a good fall of snow on this day, but there was neither of them, so they were disappointed. My father, mother and Fred went to the photographic exhibition this evening.

16. Finished 'Plough' and drew 'shallow' and cut up a rare lot of wood, which though it may be good exercise is not good practice. Today my mother went to Peckham to Miss Leigh's and my father to Blackheath to Mr Gilbert's. Mr Watson of the Deaf and Dumb School has turned out a great number of introductions in the vocabulary, which occasioned a disturbance with my father. Admiral Saunders Dunderhead (fn. 3) is appointed to the command of the Baltic fleet, Seymour 2nd in command. No news, except our army in the Crimea (if it may be called so) is in a little better condition. Very cold, the wind blowing very hard. It changed today.

17. Began 'Type,' cut up a lot of wood and went to the bank. Never having been there before, I nearly lost myself there. No news except that they seem to be nearer a general assault than they were before in the Crimea. Freezing hard, the Thames quite chocked up with ice. Last night an enormous fire took place near Blackfriars Bridge, which burnt down a flour mill, a timber yard, a lime wharf, a bottle warehouse, Sir J Rennie's house with his valuable models, and another enormous factory (I don't know of what), besides a number of private houses. The fire continued burning all night and today. Mr Braidwood the superintendent of the brigade, had a son in law crushed in the ruins, a great pile of timber. It is said that several other lives were lost.

18. Went to Maze Pond twice. Mr Aldis preached in the morning, and a student in the evening. Very cold but not snowing.

19. Drew 'Spear' again and finished 'Type.' No news. The fire is estimated to have done 150000 £'s worth of damage. Very cold. The river is so much frozen over that some people skated on the ice below London Bridge.

20. Touched up 'Type', went to London road, the Blind School and the Blackfriars Road and cut up and whited a lot of wood. Very cold. Sky clear and no indications of snow or rain. Tomorrow the Book Society meet at our house, the second time since my father has joined it. It is rumoured the Emperor of the French intends visiting the camp in the Crimea.

21. Began 'Wreath' and went to Butterworth's, Clowes', Fariner's, the Plumber's etc. Tonight we entertained the Book Society. It was a pretty full meeting and we had a very pleasant party. Tomorrow our juvenile party comes off. No news. Very cold. The sky appears as if we should have a great deal of snow.

22. Went on with Wreath and went several errands. No news. A little snow. Thawing towards the evening. The ice on the river is doing immense damage to the shipping. Some of the ships have been torn from their moorings and are drifting backwards and forwards with the tide. To-night our juvenile party came off. We had a good many games, some music, chemical experiments, etc.

23. Finished Wreath. Gladstone the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr S. Herbert the Secretary of War, and Sir J. Graham 1st Lord of the Admiralty have resigned their places. Snowing a little all day and very cold. I have a bad headache, shivering sensations, etc. Yesterday some bread riots took place in Whitechapel and the mob did a considerable deal of damage to the workhouse.

24. Began 'Writing' and cut up wood etc. The cold weather broke up today. The sun at 12 o'clock was pretty warm and it continued thawing all the rest of the day, making the streets in a great mess. Mr J. Hume the financist died lately. No news. Tonight my nose bled considerably, a thing which it has not done for 6 or 7 years.

25. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond twice. Mr Aldis preached both times. The streets are in an awful mess as it has been raining in the night. No news. My headache going away slowly, it gives considerable trouble.

26. Finished 'Writing' and began a Vase. No news. Not so mild as yesterday. No successors appointed to the resigned ministers.

27. Went on with the 'Vase' and went out to different places. No news. All day dull, wet and the roads very dirty. A good deal of business being done at our shop. We had a ticket for a concert at the Blind School sent us today; they are said to be very good.

28. Went on with 'Vase', went to Mr Read's, and cut up some wood. Mild day and roads in an awful state. Nearly all the ice disappeared off the river and the ships consequently released. The price of coals is falling. There has been an attack of the Russians at Eupatoria, no certain intelligence has as yet come of it. My mother distributed soup again at the Ragged tonight to 100 boys.

1. Went on with the Vase, traced something for my father and cut out some overlays. No news. Rainy and mild. In the evening we had Mr Aldis and Mr Spurgeon visited my uncle (fn. 4). We keep on sending letters off for votes for our blind boy.

2. Finished the Vase. No news. A little rain and more mild. I went in the afternoon to Mr Bernal's collection in Eaton Square. I saw some fine armour, a great number of curious old watches and other things, old pictures and a very great quantity of curious and rare old china and glass. A great number of people there. Catalogues sold at 8d each. It is said Mr Bernal ruined himself by making this collection, which is valued at 70,000£s. The Government was solicited to buy it but refused and it is now going to be sold by auction.

3. Drew Shoestring and cut up some wood. In the afternoon I went to Mr Gilbert's at Blackheath. He was not at home having gone to a dinner at the Mansion House. Yesterday in all probability the most important event took place that has happened in my lifetime. I mean the death of the Emperor Nicholas I of Russia. Yesterday afternoon a telegraphic despatch was received of the dangerous illness of the Czar, almost immediately another, with an account of his having taken his last leave of his family and then another with the news of his death. In the House of Lords it was announced last night by Lord Palmerston. He is said to have died of an apoplectic fit. The evening editions of today's papers say that the younger and more tyrannical of the emperor's sons has assumed the crown, at the desire of the more numerous party in Russia. The whole thing is disbelieved by many persons on account of the numerous lies that have been received before, but this account certainly seems to wear an aspect of truth, and is believed by the majority of the people. Now is the time for the ministers to press the siege of Sebastopol, for being without orders the generals must necessarily be uncertain as to what they are to do, and of course there will be division of opinion among them. If they take it (of which at this time there is a great chance) and the milder prince ascends the throne, we shall be able to dictate much better terms to him, but if we do not and the fierce one ascends, the army in the Crimea will be in a worse condition than ever. The weather is mild and showery. No other particular news except that Lord Lucan is on his way home and Sir G. Brown is recovered.

4. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond both morning and evening, and heard Mr Aldis both times. Pretty mild all day and sunshiny. Mr Leigh is going to preach at Maze Pond next Sunday. Mr Aldis I believe is going to Dublin to preach for some benevolent society.

5. Began a part of the Elgin Marbles and cut up some wood. A beautiful day. No news. I made my first deposit today in the savings bank.

6. Went on with Elgin marbles. Went to Clowes and Bradbury and Evans and cut up some wood. A fine day. It is reported that the Grand Duke Michael of Russia has been poisoned, but it is not believed, and there is news that the King of Denmark is dangerously ill.

7. Went on with 'Elgin marbles', cut up wood, went out some errands and began drawing some toys made by the Russian prisoners at Lewes. (fn. 5) A fine day but colder. It is expected that Parliament will be dissolved, because the Emperor of the French does not like the enquiry of Mr Roebuck's committee on the conduct of the war.

8. Went on with the 'toys', cut up some wood. Went to Mr Soper's the artist's. A fine day but cold. No news excepting that Menschikoff is recalled from Sebastopol and Gortschakoff put in his place. The china at Mr Bernal's sale is realising fabulous prices, two small vases alone fetching 1850£s and one other 1300£s.

9. Finished toys and went some errands. A very cold day. The inclement weather returned again, snow falling in the afternoon. It is said that there has been an earthquake at Bursa in Asia Minor, in which 2000 people were killed. My father bought some nice large maps at an auction today, rather cheap, as also some Saturday magazines.

10. Redrew a good part of Elgin marbles. Very cold, snowing pretty fast in the morning. No particular news. The railway is getting on in the Crimea pretty well; 1½ miles being finished. Tomorrow Mr Leigh preaches at Maze Pond. The manifesto of the new Emperor of Russia is very warlike. He declares his policy to be that of Catherine and Nicholas, consequently that of aggression.

11. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond twice, morning and evening. Heard Mr Leigh preach both times. Had Mr Beddome to tea. Cold day, snowing in the morning and evening. No news.

12. Drew 'Toast rack' over again, and did various jobs. A drizzly day with some good hard showers. No news. The pictures in Mr Bernal's sale are fetching good prices, the first day's sale realized as much or more than they thought the whole would realize. The death of the Emperor of Russia is said to have been caused by the violent excitement produced by the King of Sardinia joining the allies. It brought on a severe fit of passion which lasted several days. He was going to confiscate all the property of the Sardinians resident in Russia and numberless other mad things.

13. Finished Toast rack. Fine day, tolerably warm. No news. My mother went out canvassing Peckham and Camberwell way with rather bad success.

14. Began drawing 'Wash stand', cut up some wood and went out some errands. Fine day. No news from the Crimea. The expedition of the Emperor of the French appears to have been given up for some reason. The Vienna conference commences today.

15. Was out walking almost all day. In the morning went to Mr Prior's and Mr Reid's and in the afternoon to Mr Dare and canvassing for the blind boy, and had rather bad success. It is said that a large part of the town of Sebastopol is in flames and that they are making rapid progress for the bombardment. My father went to his conversazione tonight with Miss Hepburn.

16. Went on with 'wash stand' and cut out overlays. Rained a good deal in the night, but was fine all day. No news. The Baltic fleet is being rapidly assembled and there is talk also of the formation of a channel fleet.

17. Went on with 'Wash stand' and cut up a great deal of wood and whited it, and cut out some overlays. Rainy day. Our water pipes thawed today and burst in several places. No news excepting the French have had some combats with the Russians before Sebastopol, but nothing of importance is done.

18. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond twice, morning and evening. Heard Mr Aldis both times. A showery day. No news. It is reported that the Turks are beaten in a battle at Eupatoria. Next Wednesday is the day appointed for fasting. There will be a service at our chapel in the morning.

19. Monday. Went on with 'Wash stand' and cut up and whited a lot more wood. I have done very little drawing lately owing to walks and cutting up wood. Dull day. The Russians have sunk 3 more ships at the entrance of the harbour at Sebastopol, because our batteries now command the ships and set them on fire and they prefer sinking them to having them burnt.

20. Went to Mr Gibson's, cut up wood and began sampler. All the afternoon went out canvassing for the blind boy, but with very bad success and gained a fearful headache. Fine day. No news. A report of the French defeated in a battle before Sebastopol. Tomorrow is the day appointed for fasting and prayer, consequently our shop is shut up.

21. Being the day for fasting (which I did not) and prayer, our place was not open. Went to chapel in the morning. Fine day, but strong wind and very cold. No news. The Lord Chancellor had a narrow escape from being smashed yesterday, a large stone sheet they were hauling up for the houses where he was, smashing the roof in etc.

22. Went on with the 'Sampler' and cut up some wood. Drizzly day, rather cold. The 1st of the 4 points is formally ratified by all the powers at Vienna. No news from the Crimea. A bridge at Bristol has been carried away by a barge striking one of the piers, several lives lost.

23. Finished 'Sampler', went to Butterworth and Feath's [Heath] and the Society for Promoting C. Knowledge and cut up and whitened some wood. Dull, cold day. No news excepting large convoys of provisions and ammunition have entered Sebastopol without our army being able to prevent them. The canvassing for votes for our blind boy progresses pretty favourably I think.

24. Finished Wash stand and cut up some wood. Dull day. No news. Part of the new Baltic fleet has departed, but the remainder will not be ready in less than 2 months. Tomorrow is quarter day. We have now been 3 years in this house.

25. Sunday. Quarter day. Went to Maze Pond twice, morning and evening; heard Mr Aldis both times. Mr Leigh preached at Regent Street chapel. Dull day. Dry and cold. Mr Green has got us a few votes more for our blind boy, so that now I think we may reckon we have ¾ the needed number.

26. Monday. Cut up some wood. Drew the formation of the wall of some place or other, and began a Grecian coin. Fine day. No news whatever.

27. Went on with coin. Went out the whole morning canvassing for blind boy. Dull day, raining in evening. The whole of the editions of the Paris papers have received orders from the Emperor to say nothing henceforward about the war, not even so much as the removal of one regiment from one part of France to another. A telegraphic despatch was received today announcing that the Russians attacked the whole line of the British, but were repulsed with great loss; they also have opened their batteries again.

28. Finished the Grecian coin. A very dull, drizzly day. No news of any kind. My mother got some more money today for the blind boy, and Fred is going out tomorrow canvassing for him.

29. Finished Vegetable dish and cut up some overlays. Fine day. My mother went to Peckham. It is said the Russians are assembling a great force near Eupatoria, being determined to take it from the Turks.

30. Drew 'wristband' and altered 'wash stand.' Fine day. Hailing occasionally. No news.

31. Began redrawing wash stand! In the afternoon went canvassing for the blind boy, pretty good success. Fine day. No news whatever. Tomorrow is my brother Alfred's birthday (the 1st of April).

1. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond twice, morning and evening. Heard Mr Aldis both times. Today is Alfred's birthday. He is 12 years old, and the 3rd in the family. A fine day. No news.

2. Drew 'Scraper' and went to Mr Smithers in the afternoon. Fine day. No news. My father dined and supped with Mr Green today. It is pretty generally understood that the Emperor of the French will visit this country about the middle of this month.

3. Altered 'Scraper' and began 'Screwdriver.' Showery day. No news. Father went to dinner today at Mr. Hepburn's. The paper that started in opposition to the Illustrated News has at length died after a short life of 10 weeks.

4. Finished 'Screwdriver' and went to the deaf and dumb asylum. Fine day. No news. Mr Read came to tea today. I have been subject to bad headaches lately, which are not at all agreeable, may they go quickly.

5. Went on with Wash stand and went to Butterworth's. Tomorrow being Good Friday (truly so to us) we have a holiday. Fine day. No news. Preparations are being made to receive the Emperor of the French. My uncle John comes up to London tomorrow, being one of his very few holidays.

6. Good Friday!! *bun day for ever!!! Went in the train to Wandsworth and walked on to Putney Common and back. Uncle John did not come. This is the finest day we have, very hot indeed. The particulars of the attack of the French on Sebastopol arrived today whence it appears that they suffered severely and we lost a good many officers

7. Went out canvassing for blind boy; bad success. The first proxy came to our house today; one of mine. Began a Grecian coin in afternoon. No news. The Emperor of the French will stay upwards of a fortnight in London. Fine day, not so hot as yesterday. Committee of inquiry into the mismanagement of the war progresses but slowly; we hear now but little about it. The ministers are doing all they can to hush it up.

8. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond twice, morning and evening. Heard Mr Aldis both times. No news. Dry day, windy and very dusty. Uncle John came up today to see us, and returned this evening to Watford.

9. Easter Monday. Stamped the numbers on the vocabularies and cut up some wood. Went to Mr Ellis' and went on with 'coin.' No news. Fine day. Dry and dusty. We received 10 or 12 today. The proxies are now coming in thickly for our blind boy. The Baltic fleet left Spithead for the Downs last week, where it will wait for orders.

10. Went to Kensington, Mr Read's and went on with the coin. Very dusty day. No news. A rumour today that the allies had attacked Sebastopol. Up to today we have had 490 votes sent us for the blind boy.

11. Helped my father to finish his pictures in order to send them in to his gallery today. He sent 7 one of which he sold a few days before to Mr. Hepburn. I finished drawing the coin and drew 'Segment' Fine day. Raining in the evening. No news. The Emperor notified to the Corporation of London, that he would visit the city, which visit I understand will cost them about 9000£s. They can well afford it.

12. Began an electric light lamp and went in the afternoon to Mr Weir's at Peckham. A fine day. No news. The day that is fixed for the coming of the Emperor of the French is I believe Monday next. A number of English ships of war have gone to escort him over to England.

13. Finished the lamp and went out canvassing for the blind boy, the last time I hope. We have now 640 votes. Drizzly day. No news. The Russians it is said lost 2000 men in their last sortie and the French 600 by it.

14. Began the Winter Palace of the Emperor of Russia. Fine day. Next Monday is my mother's birthday. No news.

15. Sunday. Went twice to Maze Pond, morning and evening. Heard Mr Aldis both times. A beautiful day, very hot. No news. The Emperor and Empress of the French come up tomorrow by the South-eastern railway, I believe from Dover. Tomorrow is my mother's birthday. Blind boy progresses, we have now 746 votes.

16. Went on with 'winter palace' and went to Mr MacKewan's and Mr Dare's. A splendid day, very hot, the best day we have had this year, by far. No news. The Emperor and Empress of the French came up to London today from Dover by South-eastern railway to the Bricklayers Arms station. He then proceeded along the New Kent, to Westminster roads, over the bridge to Paddington, from which he went to Windsor Castle. The roads were crammed with people who went to see him, the houses were decked out with flags and the whole line through which he passed presented quite a novel appearance. He was escorted by the Life Guards and came in in an open carriage, in which were himself, Eugenie and Prince Albert. They all looked extremely well and bowed very graciously to the people. It is said that a number of French refugees who came over in '51, were imprisoned during the time he was here, in order to prevent any attempt on his life. Splendid illuminations along the principal streets in London, in the evening.

17. Went on with 'Winter Palace', cut up some wood, cleaned some pictures, went errands etc. Another beautiful day, clearer than yesterday, not quite so hot. No news. The Emperor had a hunt today at Windsor. The blind boy has now 894 votes.

18. Went on with 'Winter Palace' and cut up wood etc. Fine day. Lord John Russell is on his way home from Vienna. It is now generally believed that Austria will (as it has often done before) play us false, and desert us instead of helping us. Important news is expected from Sebastopol, as something is supposed to be done. The Emperor did not go to the hunt yesterday. I do not know what he does today, but tomorrow he visits the city. All business is consequently suspended after 9 o'clock. The police seem apprehensive of an assassination of him, so a very sharp look out is kept by the detectives.

19. Drew 'Seal'. The Emperor went today to the city, where he received deputations, etc. In the evening he went to the Opera. He went in a closed carriage along with the Queen and Prince Albert and drove very fast (it is said because he was afraid of a stray shot finding its way near him). Enormous mobs were out in the evening to see him, and a number of accidents took place, arms broken, etc. A beautiful day. No news.

20. Finished 'wash stand', altered 'soup plate' and cut up wood; a very fine day. The Emperor went with the Queen today to the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. None but season ticket holders were admitted to the buildings while he was there, but he appeared to the people in the gardens, on the balcony with the Empress and bowed etc. It is said the sight was exceedingly grand as upwards of 20,000 people, well dressed, were assembled to see him. The fountains (some of them) were got by Sir J Paxton into play for the first time, but one of the pipes burst and spoilt the effect of some. The Empress was charmed with the Alhambra court. I saw them today for the first time, they looked remarkably jaded and knocked up, as I have not the least doubt they were. Today my father saw how his pictures were hung at the gallery, they were pretty well.

21. Began 'Tureen' and altered seal. The Emperor goes away today by the same route he came. I am not sorry nor do I believe is any one, for they made such a bustle and confusion. This was the private view today at my father's gallery; he sold 3. The blind boy has now 1016 votes. A fine day. The deficiency of the supplies in relation to the expenditure last year was 23 millions. There is going to be a loan of 16 mils. No fresh news.

22. Sunday. Went to chapel twice morning and evening. Mr Aldis preached in the morning and I don't know who in the evening. Fine day, with a sharp east wind. No news.

23. Went on with Tureen and cut up wood. Went out in afternoon to Watson's, Smithers' and Weir's at Peckham. Fine day. The long expected bombardment of Sebastopol has recommenced and continued for 2 days and nights continuously. There are 500 guns and mortars now in action against the town, each supplied with 600 rounds of shot. The Russians by their own accounts lost 850 men in the 2 days.

24. My father's birthday. He is 42 years old. Finished tureen and cut up wood. Fine day. A report today that the allies had destroyed the Mamelon tower at Sebastopol. There is going to be an extra amount of income tax this year, and the duty on tea, sugar and coffee is going to be raised.

25. Cut up wood, touched up 'Tureen,' went to H Weir Esq, and began 'Wall flower.' Cloudy day looks like rain. No news. The blind boy now has about 1250 votes.

26. Went on with 'Wall flower' and brightened 'Winter palace.' No news. Fine day. Henry's birthday. The Blind boy has now 1321 votes. Went to Mr MacKewan's in the morning.

27. Finished 'Wall flower,' touched up 'Vegetable dish' and 'Toast rack' and cut up some wood. No news. The electric telegraph now goes the whole of the way from London to the Crimea. (fn. 6) Dull day, rather. My birthday. I am fifteen years old. Made a resolution to get up earlier in the mornings, that being one of the best ways to success.

28. Cut up a great deal of wood, stamped the 'vocabs' and began 'Tureen' over again. No news. Dull day, rained a little. The Lord Mayor has been made a baronet on account of receiving the Emperor so well in the city. (fn. 7)

29. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond twice, morning and evening. Heard Mr Aldis both times. Fine day. No news. Today Mrs Wheeler came from Peckham to see us. Miss and Mr Leigh, Mrs Sowerby etc are all going to Devonshire next Tuesday, for one month.

30. Went on with Tureen, did a tracing, and went Mr Weir's at Peckham. No news. Today the Emperor of the French was shot at on the streets of Paris by an Italian. The shot missed and the man was taken. Dull day, raining a little.

1. May. Mr Leigh's birthday. Finished drawing Tureen and went some errands. No news. Showery day. Blind boy has now 1493 votes. The election takes place this day week.

2. Drew 'Sickle,' cut up wood and began 'Sieve.' No news. Fine day. The blind boy goes on capitally; he has now 1626 votes.

3. Finished 'sieve,' cut up wood and began Skein. Fine day. No news. Business beginning to look rather dull; my father and uncle consequently calling out, talking about turning off hands etc. I hope it very speedily gets better. A fire has taken place I think, tonight the sky looked very red. Blind boy 1650 votes.

4. Cut up wood, redrew 'skein' and rubbed it out. Began 'shower bath'. No news. A new illustrated paper is I believe to be started by Vizetelly, price 2d. Fine day. Blind boy upwards of 1860 votes.

5. Cut up wood, went to Mr Watson's and the Blind School and finished 'Shower bath.' One of the floating batteries for the Baltic fleet has been blown up by accident. It is now said the Emperor of the French will not go up to the Crimea. My father sold 40£s worth more pictures today, which cheered him up a little. Blind boy upwards of 2260 votes.

6. Sunday. Went to chapel twice, morning and evening. Heard Mr Aldis both times. No news. A fine day, despite all wishing for rain having had none for some weeks. One of our floating batteries intended for the Baltic was last Thursday accidentally set on fire at Millwall and was totally destroyed.

7. Tomorrow the election of blind boys and girls will take place at the London Tavern. We have 2403 votes to take in. The man who shot at the Emperor of the French is condemned to death, but it is expected the Emperor will pardon him. No news. Fine day. A fire took place tonight at Kennington, at a public house.

8. Today is the day of the election of pupils for the Blind School at the London Tavern. I was about all day. It was rather dull at the Tavern, not many people there. At the close of the poll we stood second on the list, having 3822 votes, the highest having 5588, and the one below us 2500. No news today. A very fine day.

9. Drew Skein again and began 'sink'. No news. Raining in the evening fairly sharply. It will do a deal of good. It is much needed. Tonight there was a fire in Vauxhall Walk. My father has sold some more sketches. Tonight a person came to know if he would teach painting.

10. Finished 'Sink'. No news. Fine day. The Crystal Palace have now nearly got all the fountains ready, so that they will be able to be used very soon. Another gentleman came tonight to look at my father's sketches. He is coming again to see them by daylight. There is a rather remarkable history going about regarding a young man, son of a rich merchant, who wished to become a painter, but his family were against it. He however prevailed on them to allow him to paint one large picture, which was to be exhibited and if it was considered successful, he was to go on, but if not, he was to bid farewell to painting. He did it and sent it to the Academy, it was admitted, the Queen saw it at the private view and bought it. Of course this success has made him.

11. Altered 'Sink', drew a 'gas jet,' cut up wood and began a 'siphon.' No news. A slight storm in the afternoon, plenty of rain and hail, with thunder and lightning. Business getting better.

12. Finished 'Syphon' and went to Mr Murray's. Fine day. The Russians have made 2 sorties to try and raise the siege, but have been unsuccessful.

13. Sunday. Went to chapel twice, morning and evening. Heard Mr I don't know who both times. No news. A very wet day.

14. Touched up 'Syphon,' cut up wood, went to Mr Dare's and began Spheroid. No news. Dull day. 2 boilers blew up this afternoon, in the Borough Road at the Atlas iron works, damaging and I think killing some men. The beams were splintered and lying in all directions, along with cogged wheel and broken machinery.

15. Finished Spheroid and drew Stalk. No news. Fine day. It was not an explosion at the Atlas works, but the weight of the shells for the government, was too great for the strength of the building, which was made for carpenters, and accordingly it fell in damaging but not killing 20 persons. (fn. 8)

16. Altered Sink, cut up wood and began redrawing Syphon. No news. Pianori, the man who shot at the Emperor, was executed yesterday, having been proved guilty and also was proved an escaped convict from the galleys. Dull day. My father went to the Book Society meeting tonight at Mr Galland's at Clapham.

17. Finished Siphon, cut up wood and began wicket. No news. Showery day. The French exhibition opened yesterday, but is not half finished I believe.

18. Cut up wood and finished wicket. No news. Dull day. An increase in our family took place, in the person of a young brother. (fn. 9) In the park at the back of the Horse Guards today, the Queen distributed the Crimean medals to the soldiers, great numbers of spectators, seats being erected all round the platform where the ceremony took place.

19. Drew 'Stick' and began 'Switch.' Fine day. Nothing is being done at Sebastopol, a most miserable state of things. General Canrobert has resigned his office of Commander in Chief of the French army, on a plea of ill health, but it is generally believed that he is not equal to the situation, although he is a good soldier, he is not a good commander. General Pelissier succeeds to him.

20. Sunday. Went to chapel twice, morning and evening. Heard Mr Aldis both times. No news. A very fine day.

21. Finished 'Switch,' altered 'Stick' and cut up wood. No news. Fine day. An emigrant ship, the John, was wrecked on the coast of Cornwall last Tuesday, through the obstinate perverseness of the captain, who when told they were approaching land, said contemptuously, pooh, pooh. Almost immediately the ship struck, 196 passengers drowned and none of the crew. The captain is arrested for manslaughter.

22. Began 'Twine,' cut up paper and cut out overlays. I went to Mr Weir's at Peckham. No news. Dull day. Tomorrow is the Derby day at Epsom

23. Whited 12 large mahogany blocks and went on with 'Twine.' No news. Today is the Derby day. Splendid fine day, plenty of people went to the race. The Wild Darell won it. Our new baby boy is fat and flourishing.

24. Finished 'Twine,' went to Mr Clay's and began 'Wafers.' No news. A fine day.

25. Drew 'Shuttlecock,' cut up wood and went on with 'wafers.' No news. The Baltic fleet is expected to do something soon!!! How often has that been said. A beautiful day. Fearfully hot. The Oaks day at Epsom today.

26. Touched up 'shuttlecock,' went to Mr Gibson's, altered Shaving brush and went to the new Society of Painters in Water colours. They have a capital exhibition; it is well supported by Bennett, Haghe, MacKewan, Corbould, Robins etc. The papers speak of something trifling having been done at Sebastopol, but the Russian accounts say nothing at them. Another hot day.

27. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond chapel twice, morning and evening, heard Mr Aldis both times. No news. Fine day, rain in the evening.

28. Drew shrub. This morning news arrived that we had taken Kertsch (wonderful), which is a little place in the Crimea. But as I afterwards discovered we took it because they abandoned it and blew it up. A fine day, rather windy.

29. Went to Sparrow's and Gibson's and began 'Star.' We took upwards of 30 ships at Kertsch and some stores, it being one of the principal granaries for Sebastopol. A fine day.

30. Finished 'star' and went to Mr Prior's. My father went to Messrs Foster's and Gibson's. No news. A very showery day. I am reading Napoleon at St Helena, from the notes of Sir. H. Lowe. (fn. 10) With what liars he was surrounded to be sure, what a situation for a man to be placed in.

31. Altered 'Star,' cut up wood, finished 'Wafers' and went out errands. No news. A very wet day. Mr Gilbert has designed for papers a large drawing of the cabinet ministers (Aberdeen's) when they received the declaration of war from the Queen. This was to have been photographed, but the publishers not considering that the likenesses were sufficiently good (although most were easily recognised) have applied to the ministers separately to be photographed in the position Mr Gilbert determined, and all have been done excepting Lord Palmerston. My father is going to try and get him to sit for them through a gentleman's (Mr Beddome's) father whom we know, who is Lord Palmerston's physician and is intimate. If he does, this print will be among the most interesting that has ever been done, from its historical interest, truthful portraits, the room in which they sat has also been carefully copied, and the size photograph which is very large.

June 1st. Altered 'Wafers,' cut up wood, went out, began 'Worsted,' and stamped the vocabs. We caused the Russians to destroy at Kertsch 4 war steamers, and they have only one left now in the Sea of Azov. A dull day. Very unlike what June weather usually is.

2. Went on with 'Worsted,' cut out overlays and went to Fred Gilbert's. Fine day. Next Saturday, a new illustrated paper, called the Illustrated Times, will appear, price 2d weekly. They have an artist at Sebastopol, and profess to give a great deal for the money. Ingram of the 'News' says that it is impossible it can pay, whatever circulation it may attain; we shall see.

3. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond twice, morning and evening and heard Mr Aldis both times. No news. Very fine day.

4. Finished 'Worsted' and began Sucker, went to Gibson's etc, some further successes have been obtained in the Sea of Azov, a small town taken (which is the 3rd or fourth) and a very large quantity of grain. Altogether they have taken 240 ships. On Saturday the fountains played for the first time at the Crystal Palace, they succeeded admirably I am told. There was also a grand flower show there, which surpassed everything that has been seen before at Kew or Chiswick. My father has obtained (through the source before mentioned) the permission of Lord Palmerston to sit for his portrait.

5. Drew an 'Idol.' Fine day. No news. Extremely dull day.

6. Finished 'Sucker,' cut up wood, and went to Mr Murray's. No news. This has been the hottest day this year. The thermometer 80 degrees in the shade.

7. Began 'Work bench' and went to Mr Gibson's. They have taken 10 more small forts in the Black Sea, but the most important thing they have taken is upwards of 17000 tons of coal, which were laid up for their war steamers, which they were unable to destroy. Why did they not do this earlier and of what use it would have been to the army. A fine day. My father went down today to Mr Gilbert's estate, along with him; his house he is building on it is furnishing now and will soon be ready.

8. Went on with 'work bench' and went to Mr Gibson's and Mr Weir's at Peckham. It was in the Times today, that the bombardment of Sebastopol recommenced last Wednesday. Fine day. The Baltic fleet is near Cronstadt.

9. Finished 'Work bench.' A report is current today that Anapa is taken, but it is not believed. No news for certain. Also a report the Mamelon tower at Sebastopol is taken; a very fine day. The 'Illustrated Times' came out today, price 2d. Some very good stuff in it. It is well worth the money.

10. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond twice, morning and evening. Fine day. My father goes to Reigate tomorrow, to meet Mr McKewan and another gentleman. The report about the taking of the Mamelon Gallery seems believed and it is said another one called the 'White Tower' is taken.

11. Monday. Went to Mr Smither's and began 'wash stand.' The allies have taken at Sebastopol 400 prisoners and 64 pieces of cannon. My father went sketching to Reigate today. It was very fine.

12. Went on with 'wash stand' and went out, cut up wood and cut out overlays. No news. Elizabeth's birthday. Showery.

13. Went on with 'Wash stand,' went to Mr Ellis'. No news. Wet day.

14. Finished 'Wash stand' and cut up wood and began 'Water lily.' Showery day. It has been rumoured lately that Anapa (the last Russian fort on the Circassian coast) was taken by the Europeans, but today it was confirmed.

15. Went on with 'Water lily' and went to Mr Ellis', cut up wood etc. A very wet day. No news. Our going to the Isle of Wight this summer has been positively denied and going to Sevenoaks is, from different circumstances, almost impossible. (For which I am not sorry.)

16. Drew 'Skewer,' cut up wood, went on with 'Water lily' etc. No news. The assault of Sebastopol is anxiously expected. Very showery today. My mother went out today, the first time since her illness. Business rather slack.

17. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond House morning and evening. Heard Mr Aldis preach both times. The Russians have again been showing their ignorance of the laws of humanity by firing (at Hango in the Baltic) on a detachment of British sailors who were landing three prisoners under a flag of truce. They were attacked by 300 soldiers and fired on, notwithstanding the flag, and 23 out of 26 were killed.

18. Monday. Finished 'Water lily,' cut up wood etc. No news. Showery day.

19. Redrew 'Water lily,' altered 'Wash stand' and cut up wood. No news. Very fine day. This weather is about as unlike what June weather normally is, as can possibly be.

20. Drew some letters, touched up 'water lily,' went to Clowes and began Trimming. No news. Very fine. The fountains play all this week, shilling days and all, this being the first time they have done so. My father at the book meeting at Mr Brown's.

21. Went on with 'Trimming,' went to London Bridge station twice, to see him off and home again (to Dorking). No news. Some of the infernal machines which the Russians laid last year around Cronstadt in order to blow our ships up, have exploded, but have done no more damage than to tear the sheathing of the bottoms of the vessels.

22. Finished 'Trimming,' went to Rivington's and had a holiday. A London bank has failed (Strahan, Paul and Co) which has made moneyed men rather dull. They have debts to the amount of £750,000 and next to nothing to pay it with. How they have managed it, nobody knows, for the last partner brought in to the business 180,000£. They have made away with securities that were placed with them to keep (that is, stole them) and one clergyman has lost by this means, 22,000£. A couple of policemen in plain clothes went down to Sir J. Paul's residence at Reigate (where he lives in great state) to arrest him, late on Wednesday night, so late that they did not catch the train for that night. The next morning (Thursday) they went with him to station and arrived there just as the train was starting. Sir J Paul stepped into a railway carriage as the train was moving off. The officers attempted to follow him, but were stopped by the porter. They said to him "We are officers, resist us at your peril;" he answered them, "I am only obeying my orders, which are that no person shall get into a carriage when it is in motion," then shut the door to. The train went off without them. They immediately telegraphed up to London to stop him, and [by] the next train they proceeded up to London and arrived 10 minutes after him, and enquired whether he was stopped. The superintendent said that he did not know him, therefore he had not stopped him; so he got off, whether by accident or design, is not known; he however gave himself up in the course of the day. The trial is put off till next Wednesday.

Today the ministers received bad news which they publicly announced that 'they had no pleasure in telling'. It is reported that the Allies had assaulted Sebastopol but had been repulsed with a loss of 4,000 Englishmen and 3,000 French. It is, however, believed that they have known this some time but have kept it secret.

23. Began 'Vallence,' went errands etc. No news. Fine day, but appearance of much rain. The first shot has been fired (very lately) from Cronstadt at the British cruisers. We shall probably go in the country the latter end of next month.

24. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond twice, morning and evening. Heard Mr Aldis both times. No news. Uncle John came up to London today on account of bad health, and he and my brother Fred went to hear Rev Spurgeon, the preacher who had made so much noise lately.

25. Finished 'Vallence,' went to Mr MacKewan's etc. Fitting myself out lately in the painting way, intending to try to begin soon. No news. I heard today that the loss in the last affair at Sebastopol that we had, had been much exaggerated and that no more hundreds than was said thousands, have been killed.

26. Began redrawing 'Vallence.' No news. My father went to Sevenoaks today to try to get lodgings for us, but was (as I had predicted) unsuccessful, and I believe going there is finally abandoned!! A very fine day.

27. Finished 'Vallence' and went out etc. No news. Fine day. Wrote to Southend about lodgings. Lord Robert Grosvenor last week mentioned in the House of Lords that the aristocracy were setting the commoners a better example than they had before in such matters as driving in the parks on Sunday; which speech drew forth some handbills recommending an assembly in Hyde Park to see the aforesaid good example. A number of low fellows accordingly met and saluted the nobility with cries of 'don't employ y'r servants on Sunday', etc etc and they actually went so far as to compel the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort and several other noblemen and ladies to get out and walk, the police not interfering. This is a free country indeed when such things as these are allowed, and quickly passed over without much notice being taken of them.

28. Began 'Zodiac,' went to Mr Watson's etc. No news. Mr. Bennett will I believe sleep here tonight and my father and he and McKewan go out sketching tomorrow. A very hot day.

29. Went on with 'Zodiac' and went to London Bridge to see my father off to Betchworth Park. No news. 2 new papers started today, one daily and the other a 2d pictorial weekly, in opposition to the 'Illustrated Times.' Very hot.

30. Finished 'Zodiac' and went to Mr B. Foster's. A very fine day. It was reported yesterday that Lord Raglan had been superseded, but the Ministers in the Lords in the evening denied that, but said he had temporally resigned on account of bad health; General Simpson taking the command. This evening it is generally believed that Lord Raglan is dead, and Sir G. Brown is very ill; the cholera has again broken out in the army before Sebastopol. This evening there was a fire at a tailors in the Westminster Road which afterwards extended to an oilman's, and caught the gunpowder in the shop, blew it up.


  • 1. The Ragged School, on Newport Street, near Black Prince Road, was built by Henry Beaufoy and opened in 1851. Both Whymper's mother and father were on the committees (of which there was one for each sex). Originally with a classical portico and two wings, only the south wing still stands.
  • 2. The School for the Indigent Blind was founded in 1799, moved to St George's Circus in 1811 and was enlarged in 1838. Funded by subscription, an annual guinea gave each subscriber one vote for each vacancy, hence Whymper's canvassing. The school took boys and girls, who had to be at least 12 years old, and were instructed in handicrafts, reading and writing, and sometimes, music. Elections were held twice a year, in May and November.
  • 3. Sir Richard Dundas (see Appendix 1).
  • 4. Ebenezer Whymper (see Apendix 1).
  • 5. Some 350 prisoners had been taken at Bomarsund on the Aland Islands in the Baltic, in August 1854. They were mostly Finns and local islanders.
  • 6. The telegraph link from Varna in Bulgaria to the British base at Balaklava was completed on 25 April.
  • 7. Sir Francis Moon, Bt (see Appendix 1).
  • 8. The Atlas iron works was making shells to be used in the Crimea.
  • 9. William Nathaniel Whymper (see Appendix 1).
  • 10. William Forsyth, History of the Captivity of Napoleon at St. Helena, from the letters and journals of the late Lieut.-Gen. Sir H. Lowe. (London: J. Murray, 1853).