ANTON HUGH SYREE, M.R.C.S., L.S.A. 1893 ORIGINAL ARCHIVE OF TWO  JOURNALS DETAILING LIFE AND DUTIES ABOARD A CABLE LAYING SHIP PLYING THE MEDITERRANEAN
C.S. ELECTRA et al 1893 Good
On offer is an interesting pair of 1893 and 1895 manuscript journals handwritten by Anton Hugh Syree, Syree (1859-1924), M.R.C.S., L.S.A., surgeon on two cable laying ships (the `Electra` and another unnamed), describing his activities while plying the Mediterranean from home base in England then from Portugal, Gibraltar, Malta, Bona, Greece, Alexandria and more. The diaries consist of short, businesslike entries, describing Syree's duties (not onerous), the ship's activities (repairing and testing cable), leisure activities (shooting in Egypt, bicycling, sightseeing, cricket, poker), socialising and corresponding (Lady King-Hall is an acquaintance), his health (often 'very seedy'), the weather. Historians and researchers will find insight to the difficulties and duties of the ship as it deals constantly with the weather conditions, repairs to the ship and a basic lethargy in the operation at no fault to the ship and its crew. The first diary has Syree's ownership inscription on the front cover: 'A. H. Syree | Lisbon | January 1st. 1892 [sic]'. At the beginning of 1893 Syree's unnamed ship is anchored off Cascais, Portugal; the ship will travel to Syra, Tenedos, Alexandria, Zante, Messina and Malta. Entry for 6 January: 'Find day - fresh - At 10 a.m. went out 3 miles in Gib[ralta]r. Bay to repair the Gib. Lisbon cable - finished at 8 p:m: About 8 p:m: our little Monkey died - thro' taking some Carbolic Acid it seems - foul play suspected.' 20 January: 'Wretched day - raining - blowing - very dull - Lack invited me to "High Tea" and then "The Theatre" (amateur - military) - so rough couldn't get away from the Ship - Gifford made himself obnoxious - I was much upset - very seedy all day.' The diary resumes on 5 October 1893: 'Received letter from Pater enclosing letter fr. London Office, asking if I will accept post as Surgeon on "The Electra" - Their letter was dated Decr. 3rd. - Will my pay begin from then - or fr. day of my acceptance -'. At this point Syree is in Cannock, Staffordshire (in the English Midlands). He packs and travels to Chartham in Kent. 17 October 1893: 'Went to the Ship and was signed on "The Articles" - lunched aboard. Had Supper at Scott's in the evening.' On 22 October the ship leaves Falmouth for Gibraltar; arriving in Malta on 2 November, and Alexandria four days later. In Zante at the end of the month. Entry for 2 December typical: '4225 + 390 = 4615 m | Anchored in Bay (Terra Nuova) about 8 a.m - Electrical staff went off at once testing - very isolated place - only the Cable House and Station anywhere near. Payton & I went shooting in morning - got nothing -'. Working off Greece at end of year. The Electra is at Malta at the beginning of 1895, as the year progresses it continues to do its work around the mediterranean. On 28 April 1895 Syree writes: 'The Anniversary of my Wedding Day. 9 years ago, on a Wednesday - I little thought what was in store for me - mine was a very short innings of happiness.' Description of pleasant 'extended' stays: in Patras in May (including one entry in French, regarding a 'promenade avec M. Corus'), Malta in June and in Gibraltar - where he has a long walks with 'darling' Edie Spratt, whom he buys 'a gold Curb bracelet, with Padlock' - in July. On 18 July he writes: 'feeling very miserable at leaving Gib - or rather the people who are there - I have had a very happy time at Gib, and now have to pay for that, in being miserable at leaving'. Back in London at the end of July he writes: 'Edie will receive my letter today. I wonder what she will think and what she will say.' Edie's answer, 4 August 1895, is 'Yes, if we can fight the good fight together', and the entries for the rest of the month contain further positive comments about their relationship. In the last entry, 30 August 1895, Syree writes 'to Dr. Cormack about partnership at Bournemouth'. Loosely inserted in the first volume are Autograph Letters Signed from Edward W. Simmons, Frederick H. Saunders and W. F. Webster, all dated 7 May 1897, regarding a medical practice advertised by Syree in the Lancet. Also an Autograph Letter Signed from 'Alice' of East Mosely, 12 May 1897, of a personal nature. Also two receipts by Syree, written out on a Memorandum slip of the Eastern Telegraph Company, Limited, C.S. "Electra." The books proper: 1 January to 20 February 1893; 5 October to 31 December 1893; 1 January to 30 August 1895. 4to, 87 pp, including 3 pp of accounts. In two diaries: the first ('Letts's Rough Diary, with a week on a page, for 1893') with 23 pp (including 2 pp of 'Expenditures'; the second ('T. J. & J. Smith's Large Quarto Manuscript Diary for 1895') with 64 pp, including a page of accounts. All texts clear, complete, and legible. The books have rubbing and some general ageing and light soiling but internally sound on lightly-aged paper, in worn and discoloured covers. Overall G.