Whymper's London Diary, January-June 1858

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 1858', in The Apprenticeship of a Mountaineer: Edward Whymper's London Diary, 1855-1859, (London, 2008) pp. 124-141. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-record-soc/vol43/pp124-141 [accessed 29 May 2024].

Edward Whymper. "Whymper's London Diary, January-June 1858", in The Apprenticeship of a Mountaineer: Edward Whymper's London Diary, 1855-1859, (London, 2008) 124-141. British History Online, accessed May 29, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-record-soc/vol43/pp124-141.

Whymper, Edward. "Whymper's London Diary, January-June 1858", The Apprenticeship of a Mountaineer: Edward Whymper's London Diary, 1855-1859, (London, 2008). 124-141. British History Online. Web. 29 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-record-soc/vol43/pp124-141.

Whymper's London Diary, January-June 1858

Diary. BOOK 5.

Jan. 1st 1858 to Dec 4th 1858 inclusive.

Jan. 1. 1858. Cut up wood, put figures in block, on with Peterboro' Cathedral, etc. Fine. This last year has certainly been for us, an unparalleled one for fine weather. It is most opportune, for if we had had a bad season, with the heavy taxes arising from the late Crimean and Persian, and the present Indian and Chinese wars and to crown all, the commercial crisis arising from American speculation, all at once, there must inevitably have been the greatest distress among all classes in all parts of the country. Let us try to be proportionably grateful.

2. Went to Rowney's, cut up wood, on with Peterboro' Cathedral etc. Weather still remarkably fine.

3. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Clarke preached both times. He has improved much, both in matter and manner, since he has come amongst us. Fine, but rather cold.

4. Went on with Peterboro' Cathedral, out errands etc. Fine but cold. In this morning's Times I see that it has been snowing at Paris, so that we shall probably have it very soon also. Prostitution is carried on in some parts of London to a shameful extent, and the parishes in which those parts are situate are getting alarmed and scandalized at their proceedings. Meetings have been held and government is to be memorialized on the subject, and solicited to try and legalize their prosecution. Dr Guthrie of Edinburgh has written a book almost entirely on that subject and the Times has taken it up, so that we may expect to have the abominable profligacy now so much abounding openly in the streets at least diminished, if not eradicated.

5. Went on with Peterboro Cathedral, cut up wood etc. The railway shares are getting up very high, that is to say to what they have been lately. They must fall again, so look out ye speculators. Very, very cold.

6. Went on with Peterboro Cathedral, cut up wood etc. There has been another attempt to launch the Leviathan, which resulted in moving one end 8 feet and the other 3 feet.

7. Cut up wood, named Herodotus blocks, on with Peterboro Cathedral. Death, the destroyer, has been making his ravages among the great ones of the earth. This morning's Times contained the sad intelligence that the brave Havelock is no more. Alas, at the time when the whole nation felt that he was a hero indeed he was lying dead. Honour be to the brave. He was one of 'nature's gentlemen' truly religious, fearless and honourable, not being afraid to say what he thought and felt and therefore preached the gospel to his regiment. The effect was visible in time, for it was found that no regiment was like his, and so well known was this, that it extorted the expression from a Governor General, that he wished General Havelock would conduct the whole army. Field Marshall Radetsky (age 92) and Madame Rachel the French actress (age 37) are also announced to be dead.

8. Went on with Peterborough Cathedral etc etc. The weather has now almost returned to its former salubrity. It suits me better than the cold weather, at least that is to say when I am at work. I hope this year may be as good as the last, but I have my fears about prematurity.

9. Went on with Peterboro' Cathedral, out errands etc. Fine and quite warm again. Mr MacKewan came in evening.

10. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Cowdy of Leighton preached both times. We have had him before, but I liked him today much better than before.

11. Went on with Peterboro Cathedral, both morning, noon and night.

12. Finished Peterboro' Cathedral, made list of newspapers etc. The Leviathan has (for it) been moved very considerably in the last few days. Yesterday it was moved 20 feet, and I have heard that today its progress has been very considerable. Cold again.

13. Touched up Peterboro, cut up 12 pieces of wood, drew a gas meter etc. The Leviathan is expected to be afloat today so yesterday afternoon it had only 15 feet more to go. In evening I went to Mr Sandall's and father to the 'Graphic' Artists Club, held at London University, Gower St.

14. Touched up Peterboro Cathedral. This block I have been engaged on for a long time past, not so much as a specimen of my talent for effect, but for minuteness and correctness of detail. I may say without vanity that in the former of these two last, I have succeeded, and have probably put as much work in, as there has ever been put in a block of the same size before. Mr John Gilbert looked at it yesterday and did me the honour to say that it was as good as that kind of drawing could possibly be, and although that is an excess of compliment, yet I cannot but feel flattered by so great praise, from so great a master of his art. The drawing was merely done as a specimen, but on its being shown by my father to Mr J. Murray (the publisher) today, he ordered him to engrave it, as he said he could make use of it. I hope this may be a means of bringing my name before the public as a correct architectural draughtsman, which if I once get, I will do my best to keep. Drew large diagrams on paper etc, went errands.

15. Was occupied all day writing a prospectus to each of the principal country newspaper proprietors, about a plan which my father has had under consideration for a long time, and which I think I have mentioned before, viz, supplying provincial papers with casts of engravings. We are preparing a cut of the marriage of Princess Royal, and hence my writing the circulars.

My drawing of Peterboro was shown today to Weale the publisher, and at the office of the 'Building News' they said they liked it, but no good has yet come of it.

The Leviathan yesterday went 13 feet at one end, and three at the other; it will now be left until the 30th when the spring tides are expected to float it. Yesterday at ½ past 9 in the evening, the Emperor Napoleon was attempted to be assassinated by some grenades being thrown into his carriage as he was proceeding to the Opera. He was not hurt but several people were wounded. All such attempts, besides being barbarous, are impolitic, as they invariably fail in the end sought, if the act itself succeeds. If the Emperor had been killed, he would in all probability be canonized as a saint, the acts of 'December' being forgotten. No, turn him out by a legitimate revolution if you will, heap infamy on the savage murderer if you will, execrate his memory if you will, but do not assassinate him.

16. Wrote and despatched more circulars, cut up wood, began La Fontaine St Sulpice. It appears from further telegrams (I fall in with custom but protest against it) that the attempt against the Emperor's life was of the most savage character. Upwards of 60 persons, have been seriously hurt by the explosions, several of whom are not expected to live. The authors of this infamous deed were principally Italians 27 of whom have been arrested. The projectiles they used were hand grenades between 3 and 4 inches diameter, three of which only exploded, though many more were thrown. (fn. 1)

17. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Cowdy preached both times. I like him very much and cannot but hope that he will settle amongst us. I think he will fill the chapel, for he seems a very hardworking, determined man in the cause of his Master. He is moreover a civilized man, which is more than all preachers are.

18. Went on with Fontaine St Sulpice, touched up F -- Gaillon etc etc. Fine, but cold.

19. Wrote circulars, on with Fontaine St Sulpice etc. The Duke of Devonshire is just dead, as is also the Archdeacon Venables.

20. Went on with Fontaine St Sulpice, began our large block for the Provincial papers of the marriage of the Princess in the Chapel. I do the architecture only. Went to Gibsons etc. Very fine.

21. Finished St Sulpice, went to Gibson's, Prior and F Gilbert's, cut up wood etc. Fine but very windy and very cold. Today there was a grand review at Woolwich in the presence of the King of the Belgians, Prince of Prussia etc etc. This evening the second grand performance took place at her Majesty's Theatre; the wind blew nearly all the illuminations out.

22. Touched up St Sulpice, wrote a number of circulars, cut up wood, out errands, read tale books etc. Fine but still very cold.

23. Began the Renaissance court of the Louvre, cut up wood, made some additions to our block of the marriage of the Princess Royal, went to Regents Park hunting after Hinds Observatory, which I did not find till dark owing to no one being able to tell me, also to Wolf's etc.

24. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard of Huntingdon preached both times, who I could not fix my attention on at all, though I am told they were very good sermons.

25. Went on with Louvre etc etc. Today the Princess Royal was married and tonight there were and are a great number of illuminations up in the streets with a greater number of gabies gaping at them, so I am told. Cold.

26. Went on with Louvre, named French blocks, went errands etc. It appears that there was quite a scene in the central and most interesting part of the marriage ceremony yesterday. The Princess threw herself back into the arms of her mother who it is said was very much affected, hugged and kissed, etc., etc. Oh, humbug, bosh and foolery.

27. Went on with Louvre, out errands etc etc. Very cold, and as a consequence thereof chilblains trouble me on my feet, which is almost as bad as if they were on my hands, for when they begin to itch I cannot work or do anything else.

28. Went on with Louvre, out errands, cut up wood etc. Very cold. Signor Lablaches' death at Naples, is announced by telegraph.

29. Went on with Louvre, cut up wood etc. Slightly rainy with promise of much more.

30. Went on with Louvre, cleared up my father's rooms etc. He today made me a present of some sketches of his own and W.C. Smith's, which it strikes me, I can make something worth having out of. Wet. Today was to be the final floating day of the Leviathan, it is said that yesterday she displayed unmistakable symptoms of liveliness.

31. Sunday. Went in morning and evening to Maze Pond. Mr Best of Ramsgate preached both times. Dull and dirty.

1. February. Finished Louvre, cut up wood, went out errands, began an American Railway car etc. The Leviathan was at last launched on Sunday and towed down to Deptford where she still is. This evening my father went to meeting of the N. Water C. Soc. He has been elected a member of the hanging committee. This evening I and my sister went to hear the well known Christy's Minstrels who amused us very satisfactorily for two hours. Cold.

2. Went on with American car etc etc. Last night by the appearance of the sky I predicted a heavy fall of snow, and this morning it began at 11 o'clock and has continued falling until now. Today the Princess Royal left London for Berlin. She passed through the city, over London Bridge to the Bricklayer's Arms railway station. Although but a very short notice was given, the City authorities prepared the streets in a suitable manner. Very cold.

3. Finished American Railway Car, went to Messrs Corderoys etc, drew diagrams on paper. A thorough thaw, which has made almost all the snow disappear. Warm.

4. Drew diagrams on paper, went out errands etc. Wet. My father in evening went to a meeting of Artists Conversazione.

5. Finished diagrams on paper, went to Mr Weale's, Wolf's and Tenniels etc. Fine day.

6. Began an American locomotive, went to Camden Station etc etc. Fine. Some months ago (I don't know if I mentioned it at the time) there were 10 pictures, all of the highest class, valued at 10,000£s stolen from Charlton Park, the seat of the Earl of Suffolk. They were taken out of the frames, rolled up and carried off in the coolest manner imaginable by a man who was known to have arrived at Swindon Station (15 miles distant) the previous evening and who was seen the same morning going off with 2 parcels, no doubt containing the pictures. After that however he was lost sight of, until a few days ago. He has confessed his guilt and most fortunately the whole of the pictures have been recovered. The thief had been several years previously butler to the Earl and lately had been a messenger in the War Office.

7. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Dr Angus preached in the former and a student in the latter. (fn. 2) Rather cold. On Friday night there was a little passage of words between Mr Roebuck and Lord Palmerston, very amusing, but what would have been thought unparliamentary a few years ago.

8. Went on with American locomotive, cut up wood etc etc. Cold.

9. Went on with American locomotive etc. Fine and cold. In evening I went to a lecture at Exeter Hall on 'Progress,' exemplified particularly in George Stephenson, by Edward Corderoy. It was a good subject for one, but it also became a difficult one, from having been so well worked lately. Mr Corderoy nevertheless treated it very well, although I scarcely heard anything that was new to me. (fn. 3)

10. Finished American locomotive, and went to Mr Corderoy's and the Camden locomotive works, having had an order obligingly forwarded to us by Mr J McConnell the general loco superintendent. I received a considerable amount of attention from Mr Henderson and others on the works who showed me all I wanted. I sketched one of those magnificent monuments to the name of Stephenson, I mean one of the most modern of our express locomotives, and as Mr Henderson said it was one of the finest machines in the world. Amongst the latest improvements in them are the steam brake and india rubber springs, both of which are capital inventions or applications of knowledge.

11. Began one of MacConnell's locomotives, went to Camden again and to Mr Watkins. Freezing. We have taken Canton, but I do not know that we are the better for having done so, at present.

12. Went on with MacConnell's locomotive, cut up wood etc. Rainy. This evening there was another disturbance with that pest of ours, my father's sister, Mrs Bradlaugh. The cause of it need not be narrated here, suffice it to say that I think this time we shall be rid of her. I lay the decline of our business principally to her coming to Canterbury Place, for I believe that she has had more influence than any other single cause.

13. Went on with McConnell's locomotive, cut up wood etc. The British Institution exhibition is just opened. It is said to be a much better one than usual. A large picture of the new Palace of Westminster by Mr Dawson is attracting considerable notice, as is also Mr Gilbert's picture; they are both 420£ in price.

14. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard of Huntingdon preached both times. Very rainy.

15. Went to William (Railway Carriage builders), Goswell St and to Mr Corderoy's. Finished McConnell's locomotive, drew title to missionary map etc. The state of the London barracks is attracting public attention. Some of them are so filthy that when the sergeant calls the men in the morning the windows have to be opened 5 minutes before he can put his head in the room, so horrible is the stench. This and other causes produce much greater mortality among the men than should be.

16. Went to Truscott's and to Goswell St, also to Waterloo Station to sketch railway carriages. Raining slightly. Our old friend Mr Watts (of the firm Doulton and Watts for 41 years) died last Tuesday, aged 73, and was buried today in Norwood Cemetery. His liberality was exceedingly great, many of the poor of Lambeth will lament his death from that cause alone. There was a rather numerous attendance of friends at the funeral, but not a single relative, for the good reason, that he has none living.

17. Went to Waterloo Station, cut up wood, drew railway carriage etc.

18. Went to Cords etc, cut up wood, finished 1st and 2nd class carriages etc. My mother went this evening to the Blue Coat School to see one of their Easter suppers, at which they go through a considerable amount of mummery and bosh.

19. Drew 3 diagrams for article 'Optics' in Encyclopaedia Britannica, cut up lot of wood etc. Freezing again.

20. Drew 2 diagrams, cut up wood, went out errands etc. Very cold. Business rather improving; I am very busy. Last night the ministers were defeated by a majority of 19. The occasion of it was Lord Palmerston's 'conspiracy to murder bill,' which he moved to be read the first or second time (I don't know which), but Mr M. Gibson moved in opposition an amendment to the bill, which was carried after some sharp work by a majority of 19 in a house of 450 members. It seems hard, but also, unavoidable, Lord Palmerston must resign.

21. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr. Millard preached both times. I am afraid that he will stick to us, if we do not to him. He is an exceedingly pleasant man in company, literary, and has a taste for art, which will make him acceptable at our house, but these are not, I think, the proper qualifications for a minister. Freezing.

22. Drew 2 optics and began 2 others, cut up a lot of wood, out errands etc. Freezing still, winter seems reluctant to leave us. In this morning's 'Times' it was confidently stated that Lord Palmerston had resigned, but although that step seems unavoidable, it has not yet been officially announced, and it was also stated that that deadly old Tory Lord Derby had been entrusted with the formation of the new ministry.

At a church meeting this evening at our chapel, the people seemed almost unanimously in favour of Mr Millard, so that I suppose nolens volens I shall be compelled to hear him.

23. Drew 2 diagrams for Optics, cut up wood, went errands etc, put in figure and improved block of Prior's. The announcement in the Times yesterday, although premature was perfectly correct. Lord Palmerston last night announced his resignation, adding that Lord Derby had been entrusted with the formation of the new cabinet; whether he will succeed remains to be seen. The House are meanwhile adjourned until Friday next.

24. Went to Truscott's, Corderoy's, John Watkin's, Dalton's, to get a glass lamp, in King William Street, to Fosters in Pall Mall to see the collection of pictures belonging to the late Mr Leggatt, and to the Architectural and Architectural Photographic Societies (fn. 4) exhibitions in Suffolk St. The latter society numbers me among its members, and I purchased at the gallery a number of photographs which I hope to turn to good practical purposes.

25. Cut up lot of wood, went out errands, on with Delhi etc. Today we had Mr Watson (Nisbet) and Gilbert here to dinner. The object was, I believe, to get Gilbert to illustrate and Nisbet to publish a new edition of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, the designs for which we would of course engrave. Mr Bennett also came in in the evening. Very windy and cold.

26. Finished Delhi, cut up wood, began more optics diagrams. My father and mother went to a dinner at Mr Green's. In today's papers is the official announcement of the formation of Lord Derby's administration, and the names of the members of it.

27. Cut up wood, finished 7 diagrams for Optics etc. In afternoon I went to the first annual meeting of the members of the Architectural Photographic Association. It now numbers upwards of 950 members, out of which only 17 were present at the meeting. Professor Cockerell RA took the chair and the proceedings were of an exceedingly uninteresting nature. Very cold, but dry and fine.

28. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Sheridan Knowles (late actor) preached both times. I do not like dramatic preaching; I would rather hear a quiet sermon, but others seem to like it and the consequence was that the chapel was, contrary to custom, very full. (fn. 5) Fine, but likelihood of rain. Last night there was a partial eclipse of the moon visible, which took place at the time predicted to a minute.

1. March. Went various errands, cut up wood, drew Optics 4 diagrams, etc. Very cold and snowing. The British Bank Directors trial is at last concluded, and they are sentenced, much too leniently I think, but it is a good and pleasant thing to see justice at last dealt out to villains. The manager of this horrid swindle (Stapleton) has been fined only 1 shilling, but that of course is a disgrace, and the directors he directed to be imprisoned for spaces from 3 to 12 months in the Queen's Prison. 4 of the wretches who attempted to take the life of the French Emperor have been found guilty of the crime, Rudio, Pieri and Orsini are to be guillotined and Gomez to be perpetually imprisoned. They I think richly deserve their fate.

2. Went errands, to Christian Knowledge Society etc, cut up wood, drew 2 diagrams. Freezing still, though not snowing.

3. Went to Murray, Mudie's and Christian Knowledge Society to return Paris blocks, cut up lot of wood, drew optical diagrams etc. Young Mr Glennie came in evening and took supper with us.

4. Went errands, cut up a lot of wood, drew optical diagrams etc. My father went in evening to a meeting of his conversazione at Willis' Rooms. The heavy snow which was falling almost all yesterday, is now fast disappearing and I hope we may see no more of it this winter. The North Western and Great Northern Railways are mad again. They now take one, by their fast trains, to Manchester and back third class for 5s or to Peterboro and back for 3s second class, allowing 7 days at the places. I shall if possible take an early opportunity this time of using them.

5. Went errands, cut up wood for Miller, drew 2 optical diagrams etc. Rainy, the snow disappearing fast.

6. Cut up lot of wood, drew an optical diagram etc. We had D. McKewan to tea. He is about setting out for Smyrna. His purpose in going is to paint some pictures for the contractor of the Smyrna railway who is going to present them to the Sultan to carry favour. A very nice job it is for McKewan and a good paying one too. Snowing again.

7. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Evans late of Manchester preached both times. During the evening service someone or some persons got into the chapel vestry window through a window and eased the place of a watch that was lying about. Nothing else is missed at present, but it is suspected that the thieves were after the communion service, which is a very handsome one of solid silver. Very windy.

8. Went to Miller's at Camden Town, drew optical diagrams etc. My father has just concluded an agreement with Mr Watson (Nisbet) to engrave an edition of Pilgrim's Progress, which is of course to be the edition of editions, illustrated by J. Gilbert. We are also at present engaged in illustrating a work of Rev. Mr Ellis on Madagascar, for which we have some most interesting photographic portraits of the Crown Prince and Princess etc etc. These and several other things which we expect will happily make us busy for 6 months, and restore us to something like our former status among engravers. Snowing at intervals throughout the day.

9. Went to Anelay's at Blackheath, cut up a lot of wood, drew optical diagrams etc.

10. Cut up a lot of wood, named blocks, finished Optical diagrams etc. Still snowing at times although it does not lay upon the ground. There has been another insane attempt at revolution in France by about 40 persons at Chalons; after parading the town, making a considerable disturbance and telling a considerable number of lies in saying that the Republic had been proclaimed at Paris etc, they were all taken and will no doubt be severely punished. These attempts, conspiracies etc though of small importance in themselves, show the temper of the French people, and the small cloud which seems so insignificant now, will probably brew into a gust tempest which will destroy the present government, with the murderer at the head of it.

11. Went to Scott's at Peckham, cut up a great deal of wood for Gilbert's Pilgrims Progress, arranged optical diagrams, began more pear wood diagrams etc. Fine, but still freezing.

12. Went to Truscott's and St Mark's College, Chelsea, cut up wood, looking over optical diagrams, went on with large pear wood diagrams etc. Fine and cold.

13. Went on with pear wood diagrams, cut up wood, screwed up a block, looked over optical diagrams etc. Warmer but very wet.

14. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Students preached both times, and very good sermons. Very wet. Tomorrow D.V. and weather permitting I go to Peterboro' for the first time.

15. Got up at ½ past 4 and went to Peterboro. I went principally to get a sketch of the spiracles on the tower of the great west front, and I succeeded. My minor object in going, was to see the annular eclipse of the sun, Peterboro being almost on the central line. I was in the cathedral at the time of the sun's greatest obscuration, or when the annular ring was perfect, but I saw quite as much of the eclipse as I wanted. The darkness however at the worst (astronomers would say best) part was not great, I have frequently seen it darker before a thunderstorm. Peterboro cathedral I consider splendid, I only regret I could not stay and sketch it thoroughly. The west front is very grand (but it did not make the same impression on me that it would if I had not drawn it most carefully from a photograph tolerably lately) and the central tower as well as the north one I admire very much, but the interior of the choir struck me as being remarkably splendid, the carvings in wood are most magnificent. There is some glorious old Norman stuff in the building and the greater part seems to me to be pure, which is not often seen. I must try to revisit it this year if possible but there are many parts of it which I feel confident I might put to use in picture times. The ride down was not so interesting although there are a good many pretty parts on the line.

In this morning's 'Times' there was a most capital article on the French spy system (or rather the spy system of Louis Napoleon) which is now so abominable. France is on the eve of a revolution. On Saturday last Orsini and Pieiri were executed and though it was but just it will not in the least add to the popularity of the 'unconvicted felon' whose life they attempted to take.

There has been a great row at Dublin on the occasion of the new Lord-Lieutenant making his entry into that city, between the students of the university and the police and soldiers, which promises to attract considerable attention. It appears that the students with the usual Irish love of fun (doubtful fun nevertheless) had before the procession passed, pelted everyone within their reach, indiscriminately, with oranges etc, including the police. Everyone for a long time put up with it with good humour, until all at once a Colonel Browne (who has hitherto been a favourite at Dublin) gave the soldiers orders to charge on the students, which they did along with the police. The dragoons used their sabres pretty freely, cutting and slashing about in all directions, and the police were not less sparing with their staves. Many of the students were severely hurt, some dangerously.

16. Looked over and planed optical diagrams etc. Very fine. From all accounts, my view of the eclipse yesterday was as good as anyone's, so that I ought to esteem myself very fortunate.

17. Looked over and planed optical diagrams, out errands, cut up wood, on with large pear wood diagrams etc. Rather rainy, but weather nevertheless looking remarkably fine. We had young Glennie and Mr. Mole the artist to supper this evening.

18. Went to Nisbet's, to get a sea gule, to St Mark's College, and to Mr Garbett's, drew pear diagrams, looked over and arranged optical diagrams.

19. Walked to Blackheath (Anelay's) and back, cut up wood, looked over and arranged optical diagrams, on with pear wood diagrams etc. Fine.

20. Went errands, got off Optical diagrams, cut up wood and on with pear wood diagrams. Fine.

21. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Richards preached both times. My uncle John came this afternoon and returns to Watford tomorrow morning. Very fine.

22. Went errands, on with pear wood diagrams etc. Fine.

23. On with pear wood diagrams etc. In evening went to Mr Sandall's. An accident occurred yesterday morning to the early express from Birmingham on the North Western. Several carriages were smashed though no lives were lost.

24. Cut up wood, went to Well's and Vokin's, on with pear wood diagrams etc. In evening I went to the Lambeth Ragged Schools, built by H. Beaufoy, Esq., to witness the presentation of a testimonial to W. H. Miller for his great exertions in promoting the happiness and welfare of the lower classes, especially in his late endeavours to provide a novel and cheap entertainment for the poor, to counteract the bad influences of the penny theatres, etc. Lord Shaftesbury took the chair, and presented the testimonial, which consisted of 100 sovereigns, a handsome time-piece and an emblazoned testimonial on vellum. Mr Miller returned thanks in rather an egotistical speech, and afterwards gave a portion of his entertainment entitled 'A Journey from the North Pole to the Equator'. The proceedings were conducted in a 'Lambeth' style, which I must confess I expected. Very fine.

25. Went to Mr Murray's, cut up 11 pieces of wood, finished pear wood diagrams, began some plans of Italian palaces (which have come most opportunely) etc. Rather cold.

26. Went to Mr Browne's, cut up wood, drew plans etc. Fine. Tomorrow (D.V.) I intend to go to St Albans.

27. Went to St Albans, by the way of Watford. The exterior of the Abbey certainly disappointed me, as it is neither picturesque nor architectural (with the exception of one charming window which I sketched) but the interior was far above my expectations. I sketched the choir and stood doing it 5 hours, which considering I had walked to Euston Square (3 miles) and from Watford (7½), besides having to walk the same back again, was not bad. The screens and some other architectural ornaments of the abbey are splendid; the interior on the whole delighted me, as did the courtesy of the Rector, who gave me a ticket to sketch in it. I must visit it again some other time as there is much that will I am sure be very useful to me in it.

28. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. The well-known Andrew Fuller's grandson preached both times. Though young, he is a very good, spirited (though not noisy), thoughtful preacher, and I have little doubt when matured will be a very useful one. Showery, exceedingly beautiful weather.

29. Went to Miller's, Waterlow's, Cords etc, drew plans, began a sketch on paper of principal doorway of St Mark's, Venice. My brother Fred was disappointed today, to find that out of 5 pictures which he had sent to Suffolk Street, only 1 had been hung, and that one, badly. Such are the chances of an artist's life, and such the disappointments. I should not wonder if I meet with a cross in some of my plans by and by. Very fine.

30. Went to Scott's (Peckham) cut up wood, went on with sketch of St Mark's, began a pear wood diagram. Rainy. On Sunday last there was a fire in Bloomsbury, in which 14 persons were burnt and one jumped out of a window and smashed himself. There was yesterday (I think) a large conflagration in Manchester.

31. Finished sketch of St Mark's, went on with pear wood diagram etc. Rainy.

1 April. Touched up sketch of St Mark's, on with pear wood diagram, etc etc. Mr Gilbert came and stayed to dinner. In evening my mother and father went to a meeting of the Artists and Amateur Conversazione at Willis Rooms. My Uncle John came up from Watford this evening and goes with me to Hastings tomorrow (weather permitting). Rainy.

2. Good Friday. Ugh! Away with your vacillating, uncertain, changeable people who take a long time fixing a thing and equally long unfixing it. Of this description of article is my Uncle John. Rather showery.

3. Finished pear wood diagrams, went numerous errands, cut up wood, began plan no. 10 etc. Rainy. Today I was told by a schoolfellow of mine, who is now articled to a lawyer, that in their office there are some writs ready to be served on the Eastern Steam Navigation Company, who own the Leviathan. (fn. 6) They have raised all their capital, and as the company is not 'limited,' someone will have to pay dearly for their shares. My Uncle Ebenezer, who is always hoping to make clever specs (and not near so often succeeding), has just bought a few 20£ shares in the concern, for 5£ each and thinks that he has got a good bargain, but he may find it a horrid bad one.

Mr Burt (S.P.C.K.) came to dinner.

4. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Robinson preached both times. My father went with him to Mr Hepburn's to dinner and tea. Fine.

5. Finished plan no. 10, began no. 11, cut up wood etc, helped my father to prepare his pictures (14 in number) for his Societies Exhibition, etc. Rainy. Last week the South Western Railways station at Salisbury was burnt down; they have been exceedingly careless or unfortunate in losses by fire. Mr Millard has accepted the offer made to him to come as pastor to Maze Pond, and will commence in the middle of May. I hope he may turn out to be a better article than our late dear departed - Mr Malcolm. (fn. 7)

6. Went errands, cut up wood, finished plan no.11 and began no.6; helped my father with his pictures etc. My father got his pictures sent in this evening, 3 of the 14 are already sold. Fires are numerous in London lately, there were 2 on the south side of the Thames on Sunday night, and 2 on the north side last night. Dull. Mr Read called in in the evening.

7. Touched up Peterboro Cathedral and Palace at Lucknow, cut up wood, finished plan no.6 and began large plan of Vatican. Very wet. My brother Fred and Will Farnfield went tonight to a concert at the Surrey Music Hall in aid of the Female Orphan Asylum.

8. Went on with large plan of Vatican etc. My Father went to New Water Colour Gallery for the first days hanging of the pictures. Very wet.

9. Went on with Vatican, out errands etc. Dull. My father at the gallery again.

10. Went to New W. Colour Society, on with Vatican, got out 19 pieces of wood etc. The disgraceful competitions between the London and N. Western Ry on the one hand and the Great Northern and Manchester, Sheffield and Lincoln on the other, have this day by agreement been ended; it was high time they did; I know if I were a shareholder I would let the direction know it.

11. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Rev. Mr. Davies, the secretary of the Tract Society, preached both times. (fn. 8) We had him home to dinner, and although I have the strongest hatred and disgust of the Tract Society's way of doing business, yet Mr Davies left a very favourable impression on my mind. He seems a very able man and is a pretty powerful preacher. Very fine.

12. Finished Vatican, began Mappin's diagrams etc.

13. Went to Murray's, Colnaghi's, Illustrated News and Illustrated Times offices, also to Camden Town, cut up wood, on with Mappin's blocks etc. (fn. 9) Very fine. Today my father finished hanging the New Water Colour Gallery and although there are only about 310 pictures, he is pretty well tired of it.

14. Marked wood, drew Mappin's blocks etc. Fine.

15. Went to Society, Vizetelly's etc, cut up wood, on with Mappin's blocks etc. Today was touching day at my father's gallery. What is rather remarkable, almost all the artists seem satisfied with their hanging. Very warm and fine.

16. Went to Scott's (Peckham) on with Mappin's blocks, out errands etc. My father went to dinner at Mr Green's. Today the Queen sent notice to the gallery that she would visit it at 4 o'clock. She is seldom a buyer at exhibitions, excepting the Academy. There was a short and sharp thunderstorm this evening, which we were prepared for by the excessive heat of the last two days. Heavy rain. Today is my mother's birthday, she is 39. She went today to Richmond and Ham.

17. Finished Mappin's blocks etc. Today was the private view of the New Water Colour Gallery. Although the exhibition is but an average one, yet the sales have been good. My father sent 15 pictures in, 3 of which were sold previously and 5 more have been sold today, so that he has done pretty well. The Queen went yesterday with the Prince Consort and 3 of the children, besides 6 or 7 others.

All this week has been taken up with the trial of Dr. S. Bernard, who was charged with conspiracy to murder the Emperor Napoleon and with actually murdering several people outside the Opera house at Paris. The Crown prosecuted, and Mr Edwin James most ably led the defence. The speech of Mr. E.J. produced so great an impression, that the spectators cheered, and the Attorney General fearful of the result replied to it, in a very warm and unnecessary speech. He hoped the jury would not be led away by Mr E.J.'s speech and got so very spiteful about it, that even partial Lord Campbell, was obliged to pull him up and tell him that the jury would be directed to give their verdict on the evidence and not on the speech. The jury took a considerable time in coming to verdict, which when arrived at was - not guilty. This, considering all things, was a correct one, because it was obviously absurd to charge a man with the murder of people who he had never heard of, and had no intention of hurting, but as the charges against him were coupled together, they were it appears obliged to find him guilty of both or else of neither. The verdict has given great satisfaction here, and will no doubt give the reverse to many in France. The judges on the trial were evidently much disconcerted, for they did not even pass the customary vote of thanks to the jury, for their long attendance, but precipitately left the court.

18. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Davies preached both times. Very fine, with beautiful skies.

19. Began a view of Benares etc, went errands. My Father had today in the 'Times' an exceedingly laudatory notice of his Bass Rock – The Home of the Sea Fowl. He was also praised in the 'Standard.'

In evening I went to Photographic Societies exhibition at the Kensington Museum. It does not I think exhibit any marked improvement over that of last year, although there are many photographs in it both large in size and charming in detail.

20. Finished Benares, cut up wood, and began what is to be a very elaborate view of St Mark's church, Venice, from a photograph. In evening I went to Peckham.

21. Went on with St Mark's, touched up etc proofs of plans of Rome etc. In evening I went to a meeting of the Hampstead Conversazione at which there were a very large number of David Cox's paintings and sketches brought together showing the great variety and brilliant nature of this fine old fellow's drawings. Fine.

22. Went on with St Mark's, drew in 9 plugs, cut up wood etc. Fine. My Uncle Woods came up from Swaffham today. In evening I went to a meeting of the Lambeth Ragged Schools.

23. Went on with St Mark's, drew a physiological diagram etc. In evening I went to Mr Sandall's. Yesterday morning the celebrated clipper ship 'James Baines' was almost totally destroyed by fire at Liverpool.

24. Went to Mappin's to sketch tea and coffee pots etc. In afternoon I went to Richmond and walked by river side to Kingston, returning from thence to Richmond by the road through Ham, calling on the Warner's. Very fine. The notices of my father's pictures in this year's exhibition by the newspapers and journals have been on the whole exceedingly flattering. The Times spoke very well of him, the Athenaeum, Illustrated News, Builder and Standard have all done the same and we have in no case heard of an adverse criticism. Today is my father's birthday; he is 45.

25. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Sheridan Knowles preached both times. I do not like his styles but the matter of this evening's sermon I liked very much. Very wet.

26. Cut up wood, went to Barton's (Oxford St.) and sketched there, drew a tea pot etc. Fine. Hurrah! I have got a nice commission. It is to go to the north of England to sketch for a new illustrated edition of Smiles' life of George Stephenson. My father proposed it some months ago to Mr Murray who spoke of it to Smiles and ergo – I go. Today is my brother Henry's birthday.

27. Went errands, on with Mappin's tea and coffee pots etc. Dull. This evening there was a very large conflagration in St Katherine's Docks, to which (as is my usual custom when possible) I went.

28. Went to Fleet Street, Stanfords and to Mr Smiles twice at London Bridge, to arrange for my journey to the north; on with Mappins tea pots etc. This time next week, I shall I suppose be in Newcastle or Darlington. Fine.

29. Went on with Mappin's blocks, went to Smiles' at Blackheath etc. Mr Smiles is a most gentlemanly and polite man; besides being well up in his own profession, he is well informed on artistic matters. He has given me every information in his power that I needed for my journey and has promised to obtain 'passes' on the lines I shall have to pass over, which I shall wait for. Very rainy.

30. Went to and had interview with Mr Murray, cut up wood, on with Mappin's tea pots, began Burton's bedsteads etc.

1. May. Went to Gibson's etc, cut up wood, drew one of Burton's bedsteads etc. Very rainy.

2. Sunday. Went to Boro' Road in morning, Mr Harcourt preached, and to Maze Pond in evening, Mr Green preached. Very wet. Tomorrow if fine (which is extremely improbable) I go to Liverpool, commencing my journey for Smiles' life of Stephenson.

3. Went to Mr Smiles at London Bridge Station and got my passes for my journey, 6 in number, but it is postponed until Wednesday morning, when I hope the weather will be favourable; cut up wood, drew coffee pot, began the Basilica of St Paul at Rome etc. Today the exhibition of the Royal Academy opened its doors to the public. It is said to be a very good one.

4. Went numerous errands, cut up wood, finished Basilica of St Paul at Rome etc. Showery. My departure is fixed for the second time tomorrow morning, which I hope will be fine.

5. [Left blank. No entry until May 18] (fn. 10)

18. Left Leicester at ½ past 1 this morning, so as to get up to London to breakfast, which I did with plenty of time to spare. Finished up some of my sketches, waited on Mr Dixon CE in one of the Railway Committee Rooms of the House of Commons etc.

19. Went to Mr Brown's at Paddington, finished up some of my sketches, wrote letters etc.

20. Finished up sketches etc. I have been fortunate enough to please my father with my sketches, and today Mr. J. Gilbert looked at some of them, and praised them, though I think it is doubtful if he is sincere in what he says. Tomorrow I see my principal, Mr Smiles; if I please him I care but little for anyone else. Fine.

21. Finished up sketches etc, waited with them on Mr Smiles. He appeared to be pleased with them, anyhow I think he was satisfied, which is a great blessing. (fn. 11)

22. Touched up sketches finally and called on Mr Murray with them. He did not criticize them, but on the contrary praised a few of them, which is a great thing for him to do.

23. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard preached both times. He is now regularly installed in his place. May he remain there long and do much good.

24. Marked out and cut up 20 pieces of wood, drew a Davy's safety lamp etc. Very wet, being Whit Monday.

25. Drew G Stephenson's safety lamp, half lap joint etc, put up blind. Rainy. My father bought yesterday a very beautiful drawing by Cook, member New Water Colour Society, (which was exhibited at last year's exhibition) at a sale at 'Fosters,' for the very small sum of 15£. Its actual value is probably nearly 3 times that amount. The title is Bocastle harbour, pilot boat going out.

26. Cut up 8 pieces of wood etc, drew Stephenson's signature, outlined lime works etc. A porter (yesterday I think) was completely cut up on the North Kent line at Blackheath station, by a train which stole upon him without him perceiving it. Very showery.

27. Drew Frances Henderson's signature, began High Street house Wylam, etc. I am in luck (in the matter of the life of Stephenson), for in addition to having pleased my father and satisfied Mr Smiles, I have – to say the least – satisfied Mr Murray also. It is a great thing when one has 3 employers for one job to satisfy them all. Rainy.

28. Went on with High Street House, began the High pit, Killingworth etc. In evening went to cricket at the Archbishop's grounds.

29. Went on with High Street House, cut up wood, went to Mr Harvey's at Richmond etc. In afternoon went to Oval to try to discover a cricket club that I can get into, but was unsuccessful. Try, but again. Very fine.

30. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard preached both times. The weather has all at once, set in intensely hot, which is very trying.

31. Finished High St House, went on with Lime works at Ambergate etc. Very, very hot, but we are almost roasted wherever we are, and whatever we do. My Aunt Woods came on a visit from Swaffham via Tring. In evening went to Archbishop's to cricket.

1. June. Cut wood, finished Lime works, on with High pit at Killingworth etc. Very hot. The 'Times' was yesterday excluded from France, for exercising too great liberty of speech.

2. Went on with High pit at Killingworth, out errands etc. It is hot, hotter, hottest today, of all the days this week. The heat is tremendous, considering the sudden manner in which it has come upon us.

3. Finished High pit, began Sankey Viaduct, near Warrington. Fine etc. I have resolved that my face shall not be seen on the Oval or any other cricket ground this year at least. It is far too expensive in time and money for me at present. May God aid me in keeping it.

4. Went on with Sankey Viaduct, out errands etc. In evening I visited for the first time Mr Albert Smith's entertainment of Mont Blanc, etc., which closes this season finally, previous to Mr Smith going to China for a new entertainment. People often go to these sort of things with exorbitant expectations raised by previous descriptions which have been told them; I however found myself quite satisfied and more.

5. Went to uncle's, on with Sankey viaduct etc. This morning there was a very sharp thunderstorm, which has not however had much effect in clearing the air. My father went yesterday to Guildford, etc, sketching, and fell in with a brother of Millais on the same errand. Millais is a queer fish. His brother said that he had been painting an apple blossom 3 years. Art (in this case at least) is long and life short.

6. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard preached both times. Beautiful day.

7. Finished Sankey Viaduct, touched up High St House, cut up lot of wood, went to Scott's, H Weir's, Anelay's and Mr Smiles'. The latter is a very agreeable and pleasant man, and I have another journey in prospect from him, to illustrate the life of Watt. Fine.

8. Cut up wood, traced the 'Rocket,' began a Whimsey etc. What fools men do make of themselves. Why here is H. K. Smithers, a member of the Southwark Book Society, supped frequently here, the secretary of the Commercial Dock Company, has been found guilty and committed for trial for stealing 250£, the property of the Company. How he has come to do it is a mystery to us, but I suppose wonder will never cease. He has a large family and a wife, all of whom will no doubt have to pay the penalty of their father's guilt. Thundery.

9. Went to Mr Smiles at London Bridge, to Scott's etc, cut up wood, finished Whimsey. Very hot.

10. Went to reading room of Brit. Museum, to Willis and Southerans, traced monastery of St George, cut up wood, began Jumma masjid at Delhi, began a coat of arms for Mr Murray etc. (fn. 12) Very fine and very hot. My father and mother are gone to Mr J. Brown's to spend the evening.

11. Went out errands, cut up wood, began House at Willington Quay, on with Jumma masjid at Delhi. Very hot. Smithers' defalcations are said to be between 7 and 12,000£. There can be no doubt now but that he is an accomplished swindler and nothing else, and it is mortifying to us, as well as many others, to find ourselves so taken in by a man we believed honest.

12. Went to Mr Garbett's, cut up wood, on with jumma masjid etc. In evening we had D. MacKewan, who has not long since returned from Smyrna and is consequently full of the tales of his travels.

13. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard preached both times. Very fine. It appears from what MacKewan said last night, that he has been let in pretty extensively by that rascal Smithers, who it also appears behaved with the greatest effrontery when he was arrested.

14. Finished jumma masjid, out errands, on with House at Willington Quay etc. Very hot.

15. Went to Scott's, Anelay's and Smiles, cut up wood, touched up blocks of Harvey's, on with House at Willington Quay. Very hot.

16. Went various errands, cut up lot of wood, touched up Harvey's Bull Bridge, on with House at Willington Quay etc. Very hot. My father has gone to Shere near Guildford sketching. I am very glad to say that our business is much brightening up, not I think that we much deserve it, for we do not get the work done nearly so quickly as I think we should.

17. Went errands, sketched factory, cut up wood, drew factory, on with Willington Quay. Our late acquaintance Smithers has got transported for 6 years, which is not so much as he deserves I think.

18. Cut up wood, on with House at Willington Quay etc. Very fine. We had the rare pleasure of having Mrs Sowerby and Miss Leigh today to dinner. The late very hot weather made the Thames stink exceeding great, insomuch that if it had lasted a few days longer, we should doubtless have had some act of Parliament passed for pumping it and for settling the great drainage question, but unfortunately yesterday the temperature fell 10°. It had previously been 93° in the shade, or hotter than it had been for 43 years.

19. On with House at Willington Quay, and out various errands etc. In afternoon I went to New Water Colour Society's exhibition which I did not like, and evening to the Photographic Society's ditto at which there were many interesting and useful subjects. I bought a few which I shall I hope turn to good account

20. Sunday. Went in morning and evening to Maze Pond. Mr Millard preached both times. Very rainy although hot.

21. Went errands, redrew partly factory block, redrew almost entirely Harvey's Summit Tunnel etc. Fine. An accident occurred on the South Western Railway yesterday to the excursion train returning from Portsmouth in Bishopstoke Station at about 8 o'clock. The 3 last carriages o/f the train ran off the lines as they were crossing some points killing 1 man and wounding dangerously a great number of others.

22. Went errands, finished redrawing Harvey's tunnel, finished factory, finished House at Willington Quay etc. This morning my brother Alfred arrived from Edinburgh. He will stay with us about a fortnight.

23. Improved Anelay's chat moss, went to Smiles etc etc. Very fine.

24. Waited on Mr Robert Stephenson, C.E., M.P., etc. etc., and was treated very civilly by him. I showed him his father's portrait which he thought very good and some others of the illustrations we are doing for Mr Smiles, all of which he liked. Went to Robertson's, began West Moor pit etc. In evening I went for second time to Christy's Minstrels (who are as amusing as ever) with my brother Alfred.

25. Drew Sparrow's signature, cut up wood, went errands, went on with West Moor pit etc. Went in evening to cricket at Archbishop grounds and to the photographic institution in Leicester Square.

26. Went on with West Moor pit, packed parcels, out errands etc. In afternoon went to Kingston and had a row on the river.

27. Sunday. Went to Maze Pond in morning and evening. Mr Millard preached both times. The river Thames is stinking frightfully at present and is alarming almost everyone in consequence. I hope the hot weather will continue, and we shall at least have it tried to be remedied.

28. Marked out and cut up lot of wood, went errands, drew tea pots etc. Fine.

29. Finished the tea pots, cut up wood etc. Had Mr and Mrs Millard to tea and supper. Pleasant people. Tomorrow I go to Blisworth, Kilsby Tunnel, Rugby, Coventry, Kenilworth and Warwick, mostly for the first time.

30. Went to Blisworth, Crick, Kenilworth and Leamington, but was not able to go to Warwick, owing to my being taken ill from remaining about 12 hours without any food. Fine.


  • 1. This attempt on Louis Napoleon's life was apparently carried out by people based in Britain, prompting strong French protests, which led to Palmerston's bill, making conspiracy to commit murder outside British jurisdiction a felony instead of a misdemeanour (see 20 February 1858).
  • 2. A Mr Walker preached in the evening (MPAB).
  • 3. Corderoy's lecture was published by the Young Men's Christian Association.
  • 4. Architectural Photographic Association.
  • 5. Years later, Edward's older brother Frederick, a devotee of the theatre, remembered the occasion. 'How well does he recall the breathless interest and curiosity of the congregation ... at one juncture, Knowles stopped short, and said, slowly and solemnly, "Read your Bibles, - and William Shakespeare." It was a daring act in that somewhat rigid and frigid congregation.' J. Panton Ham, The pulpit and the stage: four lectures, with illustrative notes by Fred Whymper (London: C.H. Clarke, 1878), 98-99.
  • 6. Possibly this was Thomas Roffey, who became Whymper's solicitor (see Appendix 1).
  • 7. James Millard was formerly welcomed to Maze Pond by William Beddome, the senior deacon, John Eastty and others on 2 June. (Baptist Magazine 1858, 445.)
  • 8. This was George Henry Davis, who also preached the following week (see Appendix 1).
  • 9. Colnaghi's was a fine art publishing firm in Pall Mall. The Mappin Brothers were a cutlery business in King William Street.
  • 10. 'The illustrations to this volume are from sketches made on the spot by Mr. Edward Whymper.' Samuel Smiles, The story of the life of George Stephenson, railway engineer (London: J. Murray, 1859), vi. One can therefore assume that Whymper visited the Sankey Viaduct on the Liverpool to Manchester line, Stephenson's birthplace at Wylam (on the Tyne), various pits around Newcastle, railway and industrial workings at Clay Cross and Ambergate, near Derby, and Trinity Church in Chesterfield.
  • 11. 'Young Whymper has done his part of the work exceedingly well.' Samuel Smiles to John Murray, 6 July 1858, NLS, John Murray Archive, Acc. 12604/0295.
  • 12. Sotheran and Willis were publishers located in Little Tower Street.