GEORGE CANNING BACKHOUSE 1842 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARY OF A YOUNG CLERK AT THE FOREIGN DEPARTMENT, WHO TEN YEARS LATER WAS APPOINTED AS HER MAJESTY'S JUDGE IN THE "HAVANA MIXED COMMISSION FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF THE SLAVE TRADE", AND WAS MURDERED WHILE IN SERVICE
London, England 1842 Very Good Manuscript
This super original diary written by 24-year old George Canning Backhouse, gives an excellent insight into a life of a young man from the upper-middle class starting his diplomatic career and living in London during the early Victorian era. His father, John Backhouse (1784-1845), was a noted British politician, who served as a Permanent Under-secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and who retired the same year when the diary was written. One of the first records is a memo regarding his father's papers. In 1838 George Canning graduated from the Christ Church College in Oxford, and started working at the Secretary of State's Office as a clerk at the Foreign Department. The diary contains about 50 entries, some mentioning his work at the office, but mostly documenting his social life consisting of parties, visits, balls, horse rides, skating in High Park and Kensington Gardens, attending cricket games. He was an active theatergoer and his diary contains names of actors and mentions many cultural events - he visits Lyceum and Drury Lane theaters, pantomime in Covent Garden with William Payne, who was known as "the king of pantomime", Van Amburgh's performance with wild animals, he mentions Bouffe, a French actor extremely popular at that time: "Dined with Turner at Windham and went with him to a French play last night - Bouffe wonderful in "Le Gamin de Paris" after which he made farewell adieux in verse". Another favorite activity of his was horse riding: "Rode in the morning to Lymm with Elizabeth, who lost her stirrup and fell off when near home." On February 18th he lost his dog: "Walked with Catty in the Park with Brisk, whom I lost by great carelessness, when near home on our return: looked for Brisk on my way to the Office, but could not find him. Went to the French play, having a stall alongside with Blackburn - Very good". Backhouse refers to significant events, like Prince of Wales christening, and also mentions many names including clerks from the Foreign Department with whom he socializes, and names of notable persons of that time, like Under Secretary Addington, Ashburton, Stopford, Lady Murray. It also contains some of his expenses, including rent. On July 28th George's father with other family members sailed to Europe: "My father and all sailed from Blackwall by the "Rainbow" for Antwerp.", and the archive includes a letter from John Backhouse written in Berne and dated September 20th, and a bill for books on Italy bought from Henry George Bohn, a prominent publisher and rare books dealer from London, with a letter to George asking to settle accounts with Bohn: "Bohn is a man of such perfect respectability that you will get a correct answer if you ask for a statement of my account" The diary: a pocket-size book with leather cover, Peacock's Historical Almanack for 1842. Text is faded at few pages. Otherwise in very good condition. Size: 2.8'x4.1 Letter from Berne, dated September 20, 1942: A leaf folded into an envelope and sealed with a black seal, a copy of a bill for books on Italy with a letter with explanations on the other side.; The letter has tears on creases. Size: 6.3'x8.3' 4 watercolor paintings depicting sailing ships: three of them - 7.1'x3', one - 5'x3.3', all in excellent condition.