Capt. Arthur David LINKLATER


Written while serving his apprenticeship aboard BRITISH PRINCESS from 10.xii.1895 to 13.iii.1900


The original Journal is written in a motley collection of small notebooks and loose pages, the largest being 5” x 8”. The first entry was made on the 10th of December 1895 and the Journals end with an entry for 13th March 1900. Many consecutive days have an entry but there are significant gaps. Presumably some gaps, notably those during sea passages, will have been either because nothing happened or through lapses on Dum's part. However, gaps in the ashore entries have other possible reasons. For example, according to Captain Scott, Master of the British Princess on which Dum was serving at the time; My apprenrtice and latterly able seaman Mr A. D. Linklater committed a breach of discipline on the 27th July 1898 for which he was logged and fined in court in Melbourne. Dum makes no mention of any “breach of discipline” and indeed, according to the Journal, while the entry for he 28th July has no position, two days later on 30th July 1898 British Princess was at 31° 43' S 24° 41' W preparing to round Cape Horn for Australia and still some 450 miles off the coast of Brazil. One explanation among the family for these lacunae was that some of them dealt with brothels and opium dens and were deemed 'unsuitable' by Dum's wife and burned. I don't know whether this is true, but I have found no sign of missing pages. Nor have I suppressed anything. Where there are gaps in the chronology of the HTML version they exist also in the typescript.

If there was an intended audience for the journal it was Dum's family, to whom he refers directly on several occasions as in this entry from Christmas Day 1896; I could not help often comparing my lot with all you ones at home. I wished you all a very happy Christmas. If not written for those back home then clearly that's where his thoughts often were. In view of some of the intemperate remarks about other crew members and officers it seems unlikely that the journal was intended to be anything other than private.

There is an intriguing reference to “photos”. [31 Aug 1898] Under topsails again. Sea coming on the quarter now, decks under water. Hailing, raining and snowing, to say nothing of blowing a gale. Very cold! A tremendous sea came over the boats and filled our half-deck half full. My bunk is ringing, and all the photos that were hanging there are spoiled. Of course this is winter down here, and this weather is to be expected, but all the same it is curios weather for August. Several times last night the men wished the second mate to come on deck and fight. Alas! It is only a wonder that whatever fate befell the photos did not befall the Journal. The loss of the photos is hardly atoned by inclusion of his sketches. These are reproduced here from those in the typescript. While over-qualifying him for the Turner Prize, they are hardly “decus et tutamen”. No less a man than Frederick A Pottle wrote in his Preface to another great Journal, ‘Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides’; The dozen or more diagrams and sketches which appear in the manuscript are of little value from any point of view - antiquarian, topographical, or artistic - and for that reason have generally been omitted. I feel my grandfather's artistic talents were a match for Boswell's, but my editorial scalpel is less keen than Pottle's so Dum's efforts are included.

The last page in the typescript Journal, which appears to have been typed on the same machine as the rest, is a sort of ‘envoy’ and written in “November 1937” when Dum was the same age as I am now - 58 and counting. I include it with the Journal as the Preface. Again I am uncertain that it was actually typed by Dum. For example, there are two spellings for the River Hooghly - and neither of them like this! Admittedly there seems to be no standard Anglicized spelling (certainly not ‘then’) but in the space of one side of A4 surely one spelling would suffice?

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© 2018 Duncan Linklater