Epistolary Selves: Letters and Letter-Writers, 1600–1945 [1 ed.] 9781840142105

This volume of ten essays discusses the pivotal role that letters have played in social, economic and political history

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Epistolary Selves: Letters and Letter-Writers, 1600–1945 [1 ed.]
 9781840142105

Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
Acknowledgements
Notes on contributors
1 Introduction: letters, writers and the historian
Part I: The letter collection
2 'Paper visits': the post-Restoration letter as seen through the Verney family archive
3 The immigrant letter between positivism and populism: American historians' uses of personal correspondence
Part II: Letters, the family and public life
4 Formative ventures: eighteenth-century commercial letters and the articulation of experience
5 The sentimental ambassador: the letters of George Bogle from Bengal, Bhutan and Tibet, 1770-1781
6 Letters, social networks and the embedded economy in Sweden: some remarks on the Swedish bourgeoisie, 1800-1850
Part III: Women and the letter form
7 A woman writing a letter
8 The power to die: Emily Dickinson's letters of consolation
9 'You let a weeping woman call you home?' Private correspondences during the First World War in Austria and Germany
10 'Letters are everything these days': mothers and letters in the Second World War
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

EPISTOLARY SELVES: LETTERS AND LETTER-WRITERS, 1600-1945

Warwick Studies in the Humanities

Warwick Studies in the European Humanities, edited from the Humanities Research Centre, University of Warwick, will publish monographs and collections of essays across the whole range of humanities subjects including classics, history, philosophy, modern languages, literary and cultural studies, theatre, film and the visual arts. There will be a special emphasis on interdisciplinary topics and the series will include books which discuss the relationship between Europe and the rest of the world. General Editor Peter Mack (University of Warwick) Editorial Board Rosemary Ashton (University College London) Colin Lucas (BaHiol College, Oxford) Michael Mallett (University of Warwick) ]. R. Mulryne (University of Warwick) Carolyn Steedman (University of Warwick) David Thomas (University of Warwick) ]. B. Trapp (The Warburg Institute) Ginette Vincendeau (University of Warwick) Glynne Wickham (University of Bristol)

Epistolary Selves: letters and letter-writers,

1600-1945

Edited by Rebecca Earle

First published 1999 by Ashgate Publishing Published 2016 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

Copyright © 1999 The editor and contributors The editor and contributors have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the authors of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication data Epistolary selves: letters and letter-writers, 1600-1945. - (Warwick studies in the humanities; no. 4) 1. Letters - History and criticism I. Earle, Rebecca 809.6 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data Library of Congress Catalog Card Number is pre-assigned as 99-62629

Transferred to Digital Printing in 2011

ISBN 9781840142105 (hbk)

Contents List of illustrations Acknowledgements Notes on contributors 1 Introduction: letters, writers and the historian Rebecca Earle

VB Vlll

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1

Part I: The letter collection 2 'Paper visits': the post-Restoration letter as seen through the Verney family archive Susan Whyman

15

3 The immigrant letter between positivism and populism: American historians' uses of personal correspondence David Gerber

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Part II: Letters, the family and public life 4 Formative ventures: eighteenth-century commercial letters and the articulation of experience Toby L. Ditz

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5 The sentimental ambassador: the letters of George Bogle from Bengal, Bhutan and Tibet, 1770-1781 Kate Teltscher

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6 Letters, social networks and the embedded economy in Sweden: some remarks on the Swedish bourgeoisie, 1800-1850 Ylva Hasselberg

95

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Part III: Women and the letter form 7 A woman writing a letter Carolyn Steedman

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8 The power to die: Emily Dickinson's letters of consolation Daria Donnelly 134 9 'You let a weeping woman call you home?' Private correspondences during the First World War in Austria and Germany Christa Hammerle

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10 'Letters are everything these days': mothers and letters in the Second World War Jenny Hartley 183 Bibliography Index

196 225

List of illustrations Figure 1. Plan of the reception chamber of the Deb Raja of Bhutan. Detail of a letter from George Bogle to Anne Bogle, 1774. India Office Library and Records, London, MSS EUR E226177 (c). 88 Figure 2. 'The Third Panchen Lama receives George Bogle at Tashilhunpo'. Oil painting by Tilly Kettle, c. 1775. The Royal Collection, OM870. 91 Figure 3. Photograph of a Buddhist rosary. Bogle Collection, Mitchell Library, Glasgow. 92 Figure 4. Jan Vermeer, 'A Lady Writing a Letter, With Her Maid', c. 1670. National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. 117 The illustrations are reproduced with the kind permission of the India Office Library and Records, her Majesty the Queen, the Mitchell Library, and the National Gallery of Ireland, respectively.

Acknowledgements This book has its ongms in a two-day conference held at the University of Warwick in March 1996. The 'Letter in History' was most generously funded by the Royal Mail and the University of Warwick Humanities Research Centre. The conference was attended by a number of the contributors to this volume, as well as by many other participants. Ken Worpole delivered the conference's opening address. Bridget Bennett (University of Warwick) spoke on the subscriptionletters that circulated after the death of the journalist Harold Frederic in 1898. Judy Barrett LitoH (Bryan College, USA) and David Smith (University of Maine, USA) presented a paper based on their extensive study of American letters from the Second World War. Dorothy Sheridan described her work at the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex, and Clare Brant (Kings College, University of London) discussed eighteenth-century interpretations of Mary Queen of Scots's Casket Letters. The consistently interesting conference papers and the lively participation of the audience combined to make an extremely successful conference. Without the participation of all those who contributed to the 'Letter in History' conference, this book would not have been possible. The 'Letter in History' conference was one manifestation of the Warwick Project on the Social History of the Letter. The Warwick Project, of which this volume forms a part, is headed by Carolyn Steedman of the Centre for Social History at the University of Warwick. I am immensely grateful to her for inviting me to edit this collection. Rebecca Earle University of Warwick

Notes on contributors Toby L. Ditz received her Ph.D. in 1982 from Columbia University and is now a Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of Property and Kinship: Inheritance in Early Connecticut, 1750-1820, a social history of family property relations and market development. She is currently at work on a book provisionally entitled, Shipwrecked: Manly Identity and the Culture of Risk Among Philadelphia's Eighteenth-Century Merchants, a cultural history of market experience and concepts of the gendered self among late provincial commercial elites. Daria Donnelly received her doctorate from Brandeis University and is an independent scholar. She is completing a study of nineteenth-century memorial poetry in America, and is co-editing an anthology of twentieth-century prose. Rebecca Earle is a lecturer in the History Department at the University of Warwick, where she also received her doctorate. Her research concerns the social and political history of colonial Spanish America. She is the author of Spain and the Independence of Colombia (1999). David A. Gerber is Professor of History at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His field of interest is American social history. The focus of his research and writing has been immigration, ethnicity, and social pluralism, and also, in recent years, the history of people with disabilities. He is the author of The Making of An American Pluralism: Buffalo, New York, 1825-1860 (1989). The chapter appearing in this volume is a section of his manuscript-in-progress, Authors of Their Own Lives: The Personal Correspondence of British Immigrants in Nineteenth Century America. Christa Hammerle is a lecturer at the History Department at the University of Vienna. She is co-editor of L'Homme. Zeitschrift fur Feministische Geschichtswissenschaft and L'Homme Schriften. Reihe zur Feministischen Geschichtswissenschaft. Her research concerns women's and gender history (particularly of the First World War and of the military in the nineteenth century), family/social history, and self-sources of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her publications include Kindheit im Ersten Weltkrieg (1993) and the edited volume Plurality and Individuality. Autobiographical Culture in Europe (1995).

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Jenny Hartley has a PhD in Victorian Literature from the University of Essex. She is a part-time Principal Lecturer in the English Department at Roehampton Institute, London, where she teaches courses on women's writing and the literature of war. She is the editor of Hearts Undefeated (1994), an anthology of non-fictional women's writing from the Second World War, and the author of Millions Like Us (1997), a study of British women's fiction of the Second World War. Ylva Hasselberg received her PhD from Uppsala University in 1998. She is the author of Den Sociala Ekonomin. Familjen Clasen och Furudals Bruk, 1804-1856. She is currently researching the impact of industrialisation on attitudes to and the use of personal networks in Sweden. Carolyn Steedman is Professor in the Centre for Social History at the University of Warwick. Her most recent book was Strange Dislocations. Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1780-1930 (1995). She is currently working on eighteenth-century service, servants and servitude, and their role in the making of modern identity. Kate Teltscher is a Lecturer in the Department of English at Roehampton Institute, London. She undertook her doctoral research at the University of Oxford. She is the author of India Inscribed: European and British Writing on India 1600-1800 (1995) and is currently working on an edition of the letters and journal of George Bogle. Susan E. Whyman received her PhD degree from Princeton University in 1993 where she worked with Lawrence Stone after a career in publishing and archival work. Her forthcoming book, Sociability and Power in Late-Stuart England: The Cultural Worlds of the Verneys of Claydon House, 1660-1720, will be published by Oxford University Press. She is currently working on a larger project about English letter writing.

1 Introduction: letters, writers and the historian Rebecca Earle Buisinesse, love, accidents, secret dipleasure, family intrigues, generally make up the body of letters. (Mary Evelyn to the Reverend Ralph Bohun, 21 May 1668)'

Letter wntmg is a very ancient practice. Rudyard Kipling's suggestion that writing itself was invented for the purpose of sending letters is perhaps not as facetious as Kipling intended. 2 Nearly four millennia before Kipling composed his Just So Stories, Sumerian storytellers were affirming that the world's first written text was a letter. 3 The mythical antiquity of the letter form is regularly reconfirmed by archaeological discoveries. Extensive diplomatic correspondence dating from the second millennium Be has been uncovered in Syria. These earliest letters were closely linl In 1653, Sir Ralph returned to England and spent the rest of his life rebuilding the family estate. He sought moderation in politics and religion and abhorred 'court compliment'. Yet Sir Ralph knew the importance of sociability. 'Tis a happiness to keep a fair correspondence with all your neighbours'," he wrote, and longed for harmony within his own family. Like the Pastons, Sir Ralph 'set more by his writings and evidences than he did by any of his moveable goods'. 14 It was he who started the tradition of preserving family letters for he 'regard[ ed I every scrap of written paper as sacred'.'5 Sir Ralph's criteria for preservation were broad, and rather than destroy a document, he cut holes over confidential items. His domination over the letters expressed his belief in the patriarchal family as the centre of society and a microcosm of the state. Sir Ralph's own writings were short, reserved, and avoided flattery." Restraint also marked the letters of his second son John (1640-1717). John inherited Sir Ralph's estate and baronetcy in 1696 after the death of his elder brother Mun and Mun's two grown sons. John had served twelve years in Aleppo as a Levant Company trader, followed by twenty-two years as a London overseas merchant. But in the fluid environment of the 1690s, he transformed himself into a country squire. By 1703, he had become a Viscount and in 1710, he entered Parliament as a Tory.'8 John'S life was shaped by writing and reading and he spent hours upon his

I.

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letters. Cousin Pen Stewkeley noted this trait, chiding 'you do not love to sit without a book or a pen in your hand'.19 John's careful penmanship and balanced page layout reflected an obsession with order. Sir Ralph had taught him to docket letters, but John took new steps to regulate the collection. He reread letters, identified unnamed people, and updated the lives of those cited in the margins. 20 At the same time, he compiled a directory of English baronets. 21 A passion for order, writing, and genealogy thus converged in his letters. Like John Quincy Adams's son who forsook 'the vile family habit of preserving letters', John's son Ralph showed little interest in letter writing. 22 Not so, however, the large, extended family of kin, in-laws, and friends, who loved to write letters. Nephew Ralph Palmer was a good example for 'when ... writing', he admitted, 'my pen is never weary,.n Dependants wrote respectfully to the family head. Yet they expressed themselves openly, reflecting a growing autonomy in social relations. The Verneys's correspondents were a diverse throng in terms of age, rank, religion, and occupation. The family wrote to and received letters from nobility, gentry, professionals, merchants, bankers, artisans, shopkeepers, farmers, and servants. When they are indexed by computer, the letters unveil a dynamic blueprint of the Verneys's social and political networks. 24 Women and the middling-sort wrote a great many items, while Londoners dominated the correspondence, revealing the growing importance of the capital. Because of the letters' range and number, they have been called 'truly representative of their age'. They indicate that a received standard English, similar to that of Restoration plays, was spoken by people of quality. Unlike literary works, the letters show varied degrees of familiar unstudied diction. 25 Clearly, the archive tells a valuable story about the past. We see that family history is a slow, developing narrative created as each letter is added to the archive. 26 More chapters are appended to the story over time, as mail is opened and answered. The letters reveal generational continuities, along with changing values and hidden passions that are lost in quantitative records. Because the documents are organised around the family head, one gets multi-dimensional views of topics. The reader gradually grasps the rhythms of daily life. Attitudes to politics, children, illness, fate, and death reveal the evolution of ideas and behaviour. The Verney letters also show personalities and relationships through spacing, address, style, and penmanship.27 Characters are uncovered further by decoding unspoken anxieties and interests. Thus, Aunt Adams's constant references to her friends' maids revealed her own fears of losing her servants. She often bought food for John Verney, because she loved to eat. In contrast, Aunt Gardiner sent information, which betrayed her passion for gossip. These examples of decoding show that individuals constructed their own characters. 'Should you doubt that you exist, you have only to write a letter', noted Joyce Carol Oates. 'A personality will immediately define itself in the act of writing'." Yet scholars have questioned Oates's assumption of 'truth telling' and stressed the constructed character of personal accounts. 2' The Verney archive confirms that letter writing

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was a self-conscious art and allows us to observe the social code underpinning letter-writing conventions. In order to uncover these norms, let us enter the Verneys's muniment room and observe epistolary form and practice. Other family collections, including the Wentworth, Hatton, Leeds and Godolphin, Egmont, Blenheim, Coke, Portland, LeN eve, and Trumbull Papers, have been systematically examined for the following criteria: paper, handwriting, spelling, outside address and title, stamps, docketing practices, franks, inside spacing and layout, margins, salutation, forms of address, closure and signature, use of a language of courtesy, and references to letter writing. Quotations from these documents that are strikingly similar to the Verneys's may be found in the notes. 30 Normally, paper was coarse with untrimmed edges. Handwriting was bold and clear. Writers left one side blank, apparently for social effect, but they turned the page sideways and crammed farewells into the margin." The family head or secretary made file copies or saved drafts studded with corrections. Then the paper was folded, sealed and addressed. Finally, each copy was docketed according to date, name, and topic. 32 The Verneys and other families wrote three types of personal letters: informal to intimates, sociable to friends and acquaintances, and contrived or artificial for patronage purposes. 33 Writers were trained to use formulaic cliches in all sorts of letters, including requests for money and thank-you notes. 34 They normally sent friends 'humble services', wished them 'joy' at births, and encouraged them to be ready for their maker at death. 3' Even familiar letters had a planned format. In 1685, Lady Mary Stanhope was instructed to reread letters, list headings to answer, and preselect compliments." The Verneys were generally more informal, but even daily reports from son to father had a conventional structure. After an inquiry about health, John confirmed receipt of the last letter, repeated its directions, and reported tasks completed. Next, he wrote about financial and legal matters, gossip and social events, domestic and foreign politics. 37 The Verneys were informed about these topics at a sophisticated leveL]' Letters were short and to the point, for the family wrote as worldly practitioners, not intellectuals or theologians. Only men used Latin quotations, but London women were often more informed about politics and society. Health, money, and favours were mentioned most often; next came worries about safety, travel, politics, and relationships; then joys were shared about births, deaths, and marriages. Not surprisingly, letter writing was constantly discussed." Yet sometimes it was unsafe to write. In 1686, Sir Ralph's nephew John Stewkeley warned him: 'Tis dangerous writing news ... but ... you shall certainly have all I may safely write'. Often it was suggested 'your name not be set to your letter'. The Verneys disciplined their pens and decoded hidden meanings. Yet some things were easier to write than say. Aunt Gardiner hated to beg for money in person and would 'rather let my pen ask it'.40 The proper way to write a letter was prescribed through education. In France, John had learned politeness by constructing letters to reflect the recipient'S age, gender, and rank. As an aid, Mun owned Le Secretaire a la Mode and de la Cour.

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Both boys were forced to write regularly to family members, who sternly evaluated their progress. 4! When John returned to England, Sir Ralph trained him to write two returns for everyone received. John's Levant travels taught him the value of family letters, for he received none for two and a half years due to problems with the mai1. 4l Upon John's return, a schedule was enforced which taught discipline. 43 Sir Ralph's 'constant letter day' was Tuesday, although he often wrote to John daily, even when they both were in London. John's writing day was Monday to meet Sir Ralph's carrier's schedule. 44 As with visits and gifts, reciprocity was required. Letter writing was not a casual affair, for the receiver paid the postage and failure to respond was a breach of conduct. Hence, John's nephew was upset when he found himself 'a letter in your debt'. If one did forget to answer, apologies were sent. In extreme cases, one might request that letters be returned. Obviously, when letter writing forced observance of norms, it strengthened dynastic and social controls.45 Yet letters played a multitude of roles, some of which also liberated the individua1. All epistolary functions were shaped by the demands of politc socirty, along with dynastic and individual needs. Because teaching polite manners was a major purpose of letters, the Verneys's social context must be considered. The family lived in an age that was concerned with the human being as a social anima1. 4• Processes of social exchange like letters, visits, and favours were viewed as a fundamental basis of society.47 The harmony produced by these reciprocal interactions nurtured a stable order. 4' The elite also acknowledged an intimate link between outward manners and status. Lineage became less important as a determinant of rank, while shared behaviour, including letter writing, increasingly afforded entry into elite society.49 Polite conduct was most clearly observed in the art of conversation, which was intimately tied to letters. By 1715, The Gentleman's Library found conversation 'a point of such importance, that upon it depends the whole course of young gentlemen's lives and manners'.50 Letter-writing manuals had always described letters as 'conversation between absent friends'.5! Although writing was not the same as conversation, the Verneys accepted the analogy. Thus, John believed that 'writing is talking at a distance',52 and Aunt Gardiner wrote to him because: 'I love to converse with you ... 'S) Others compared letters to social calls, where conversation was bound to formal rules. Ralph Palmer called his letters 'paper visits', while John was begged to 'visit [Elizabeth Baker] with letters' .." But epistolary conversation was not just comforting. It disclosed one's breeding and status. The ability to speak politely through letters was a critical proof of gentility at a time when cultural competition with France led to a concern with refinement. In practice, letters served as a badge of membership in elite society. 'The writing of letters has so much to do in all the occurrences of human life', declared John Locke, 'that no gentleman can avoid showing himself in this kind of writing ... His pen ... always lays him open to a severer examination of his breeding, sense, and abilities than oral discourses' ..15 Locke's restriction of this principle to males was no accident, for although

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Verney women wrote many letters, earlier generations lacked training. After not writing on an important occasion, Elizabeth Adams admitted: 'I being sinc abell of my ill riting and speling is the real cose of my long silence .. .'56 Plagued by phonetic spelling and disconnected sentences, women of Sir Ralph's day referred to their efforts as 'imperfect', 'impertinent', or 'not worth paying for'.57 However, the letters of the next generation of women and servants stand in elegant contrast. In 1694, John'S daughter Margaret wrote to Sir Ralph with easy grace to show 'how diligent I have been at my business'.58 And in 1699, John's black servant from Guinea wrote an elegant courtesy letter. Its only rival was a similar epistle from John's country cook. 5' Everyone's letters were scrutinised for signs of proper manners"o Even Aunt Gardiner, the oracle of politeness, had to readdress a letter because she knew Sir Richard Temple 'likes to be writ with both his titles'. It was even more important to properly honour the receiver. 'I have no business to discuss', John wrote Aunt Adams, 'but I send this as in good manners and duty bound to ... tender you my humble services'." When Cousin Jack Nicholas forgot to wish John joy of a son, he was said to 'forget all manners and good nature'''' Polite correspondence not only taught manners, it stabilised family relations. The letter is often cited in connection with the novel, which developed themes of family and friendship. Yet its role in linking real fragmented families has hardly been noticed. Nor has there been an awareness of its connection to gentry sociability and residence patterns. The eighteenth-century family has been characterised as more close-knit than its predecessors;3 but the fact that its members were frequently apart has been overlooked. Because the Verneys spent up to nine months in London, kin were in constant motion. Husbands, wives, children, and lovers were torn from each other by the peripatetic nature of city and country life. Sir John Busby and his lady were 'like buckets in a well; as one goes up the other goes down between town and country'. Furthermore, many a mother like Mary Lovett was forced to leave a new-born babe:' Verney women were particularly affected, spending more time in town, but retaining countryhouse duties. Moreover, after the Restoration, the Verneys no longer married neighbours, but had wider family horizons. Thus, John'S children lived in farflung country houses from Essex to Ireland. 65 After the Civil War, the patriarchal family also experienced economic fragility and internal divisions. Letters helped the family head to maintain cohesion. Aunt Adams called her letters 'paper messengers', for they linked her to others." And for John's third wife Elizabeth, letters made 'a new life ... When I think of you', she wrote, 'I go to my letters',,7 John's daughter Margaret yearned for the post, and thought no charge too great to bear for 'the happiness of your company'." Letters also were an accepted method of maintaining social networks. Because people's chances in life were dependent upon connections, an alliance with the Verneys was of critical importance. The right to correspond was a public display of this link, while the form of address and frequency of letters revealed one's relative place in the Verneys's networks:' Permission to write regularly was an honour, which was only given to intimates. Thus, after John inherited, cousin

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Kitty Stewkeley asked him to 'give me leave to enquire after your health' /0 Cousin Nancy Nicholas was one of John's luckier correspondents_ She wrote to John every week, even when she had no news and was always told about family events. When Nancy died, her daughter sent John a note in hopes that 'you will not wholly lay aside your correspondence with our family'. She did inherit her mother's powerful privilege, as if it were a legacy. In contrast, Aunt Adams felt her status had declined, when she was not told about a new child.7I Letters also eased anxiety about death, illness, and poverty. The Verneys were a stoic group and often repressed emotion. But even Sir Ralph and John used the post to alleviate fears. Letters brought news of safe journeys72 and relief about sickness. When her mother was too ill to write, Cary Stewkeley endured 'a thousand frights and fears', while nephew Palmer wrote John: 'All your healths are so valuable ... we can scarce bear silence with Christian patience'.73 Aunt Gardiner thought letters eased everyone's problems. 'Tis the comfort of this life', she wrote, 'to hear of those we love'.?' If letters comforted the receiver, they provided a vehicle of self-expression for the author. Thus, letters also had liberating effects. Writing has been described as a psychological process, which brings self-exploration and the means to relate oneself to society/5 Many factors encouraged the Verneys to use letters in this way, including the Protestant focus on individual redemption and selfexamination.?· Writing gave the Verneys occasions to develop narrative skills, while its pauses, unlike speech, offered time for self-reflection. In the Verneys's patriarchal world, collective needs were paramount, leaving few private spaces for individual release. This made the relatively free outlets provided by letters even more crucial to the Verneys. This was especially true for women, who had fewer alternative forms of self-expression than their male counterparts. Letter writing has been seen by some as a particularly feminine form of selfexpression: a life-line for cloistered women, who were isolated from public life.?? In fact, Verney men and women used letters for a wide range of purposes, not just cathartic release. As an activity, letter writing was prized by both sexes, and was not considered an inferior form of leisure. It is true that women could write letters at odd moments in between domestic duties. And if writing books was considered unseemly for a woman, letter writing was acceptable. 78 However, the Verney archive shows that letters were not a female compensation for boredom. Although Verney women used letters as a form of self-expression, they did so from a position of strength. Patricia Spacks has shown how letters enabled women to make sense of their lives. In her view, writing was a positive outlet, implying choice, responsibility, and autonomy. Moreover, as women wrote to other women, they created 'a mutually understood subtle transformation of male orthodoxies'. Consequently, letters became an acceptable method for acting politically, socially, and psychologically outside the family.?' As Spacks maintained, Verney women used letters to exercise powers of observation, express ideas, and attain personal goals. Although financially dependent females had to couch missives in deferential terms, they regarded free articulation as a natural right. Housekeeper Elizabeth Lilly lectured Sir Ralph

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and John about their duties to fulfil country customs. 80 Aunt Gardiner, on the other hand, loved to gossip and her political information was the best that John could get. Moreover, in matters of social protocol, women often tutored the family head. Like the supposedly harmless visit, the innocent letter was a place where women carved out niches of power. 81 At different times they used letters to obtain freedom, authority, and psychological release. Sir Ralph's poor, but worldly-wise, London aunts begged for money and gave political advice in the same letter. 82 Often, they co-ordinated their letters, pleading causes for one another. At other times they plotted against rival kin, like the best Whigs and Tories of their day. Both men and women obtained cathartic release in epistolary outbursts of friendship. Like the Greeks and Romans, the Verneys thought of letters as bonds between close companions. 83 A letter from John's daughter-in-law Catherine was 'esteem[ed] ... as a very great instance of ... friendship', while another friend to whom John wrote was in 'no way sensible how I merited so great an honour'.8o Some epistolary friendships were expressed in passionate terms. Kitty Stewkeley told cousin Pen: 'Every moment [I] surpass myself by loving you a thousand times more than I did'. Usually the Verneys were more restrained, but both sexes openly asserted affection. 85 Yet because letters were so highly prized, they also created tensions. Constant apologies and self-disparagement, though formulaic, revealed anxieties about writing. 8' One problem was that letters were so very often lost. Restoration England was still marked by unsafe roads and vehicles, highway crime, and tampering with the post. 87 Nosy gentry families like the Shuckboroughs were known to 'open all letters that comes to their hands'.88 These factors led to a feeling of helplessness. To prevent loss, the Temples of Stowe and the Verneys sent duplicates of important letters via carriers, coach, and the post. Luckily, the Verneys's carrier took letters for free, although this was illegal. 89 Not surprisingly, fears of lost mail emerge in every archive!O In 1697, 'the northern post boy was tied to a tree ... his letters opened and ... exchequer bills taken out'. Twice, John's annuity to his uncle Tom was lost. Tom was surely guilty of understatement about his missing money: 'In this deplorable age', he noted, 'letters may sometimes halt by the way'!' On the other hand, receiving too many letters was also a problem, since postage was paid by the recipient. Like the Verneys, Scroop Egerton, Fourth Earl of Bridgewater and Buckinghamshire's Lord Lieutenant, kept accounts of every penny spent on stamps!2 The cost of letters was not insignificant: the Verneys paid 5s. for 500 sheets of paper which they bought in reams, while a bottle of ink ranged from 1.5s. to 3s,,3 More important, postage expenses mounted as scribbling increased. Until 1711, one page cost 2d. up to eighty miles outside of London, and Sir Ralph constantly complained about charges!' When John entered Parliament in 1710, his free franking privileges reduced costS!5 Prior to that time, he wrote to friends only once a week!' Luckily, the Verneys were masters at manipulating franks and received them from many friends. Since franks could be used only for legislative purposes, one

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had to know their owners' locations. Thus, in 1699, Cousin Nancy Nicholas feared to use Lord Russell's franks, noting: 'Tis not proper when the Parliament men are in London to frank papers out of the country'. When Parliament ended or friends died, writing often ebbed. 97 Eighteenth-century postal innovations enhanced service98 and led to an increase in use. 99 This trend was part of a nation-wide growth of communications in response to commercial and financial pressures. The easing of laws limiting religion and speech led to a booming publishing industry, which in turn prompted postal reforms. There was also a great hunger for information. Indeed, it is hard for twentieth-century readers to understand how acutely news was craved. Nancy Nicholas in the country was aware of her need. 'Us mortals are in the state (not of innocence), of ignorance', she admitted, 'if London did not afford us some news'. Letters not only satisfied curiosity, they stimulated self-growth. John's daughter Mary confirmed this fact as she thanked him for his letter: 'Our persons are confined to a narrow compass, so are our understandings, for we hear nor see any new thing. A line from your Lordship is our greatest entertainment'. 100 As letters linked the Verneys to the wider community, they again had a liberating effect. In practice, letter writing was both a controlling device and a process offering individual freedom. The tension between the two is most apparent in letters written to meet patronage needs. Normally, the Verneys's personal letters used informal language and style. Sir Ralph voiced his hatred of 'Ietter[s] of ceremony' and desired those written 'without compliment in a more friendly strain .. .' Sir Ralph's brother Tom asc~ibed the Verney hatred of 'hypocritical ways' to his 'father's great care'. Clearly, the Verneys wished to construct their own civilised identity. As Mun observed, they longed to cease sending 'young gentlemen ... into France to learn manners ... They come back fool as ever, imitating the French mode with so much affectation ... that in derision we Englishmen are justly styled apes of the French,.'ol By the 1700s, these views complemented Britain's growing military and commercial ascendancy over France. They reflected a wish for a 'natural way of speaking"02 evident in eighteenth-century, English letter-writing manuals. ,03 Mun's comments also revealed a fear that French politeness might corrupt English masculinity, cloud gender boundaries, and lead to foppish effeminacy or emasculation. Thus, an earlier desire for French refinement was replaced by an assertion of British manliness. 'o, Still, in order to meet social and political needs, John had to write fawning letters requesting favours from noblemen, Tory politicians, and influential patrons. lOS He received similar requests from his own clients, especially after entering Parliament. Thus, John was asked to request a ship captain's aid because 'he loves to have letters from great persons' .106 Others begged John for jobs, church livings, or the Queen's touch against illness. Frances Luttrell thought that John'S letters to him showed a ma,gnanimous 'esteem for the little man'.107 Luttrell was a respected gentleman, whose deference in no way lowered his status . .It merely showed that he knew how to write a proper letter to someone whose interest he desired.

24

Epistolary Selves

John's fawning patronage letters on his own behalf began as a response to Whigffory politics. Upon first standing for office, he wrote scores of circular letters asking for votes from freeholders. He penned them 'without compliment', for, he admitted, 'I'm not good at that'. But after losing three elections, John revised his letter-writing style. Highly-edited drafts show labourious efforts to reformulate speech and do his 'devoirs'. 'I don't love to send letters', he admitted, 'that may be thought rugged' .108 By 1700, John had acquired a language of courtesy, through which he flattered influential people. In a letter to Tory Lord Henry Bertie, he admitted he was unknown to their family head, Lord Abingdon. But, he declared, 'by post I'll kiss his hands with a letter', for because the Berties knew Sir Ralph, they might befriend his son. John used similar tropes that evoked body gesture and polite manners to William Cheyne, Second Viscount Newhaven. Cheyne was the leader of the Buckinghamshire Tories who chose John to stand for Parliament in 1710. 109 'As long as I live I shall record your favour in my heart', John declared to William Bromley, Secretary of State. Bromley, who was a relation by marriage, might aid the career of John's son. 110 In short, whenever John needed help, he repressed his normal pride and used the tropes of patronage. Yet even the Verneys's courtesy letters were not as servile as continental models.'11 They resembled samples in the best-selling manuals of John's old tutor, Claudius Mauger, who came to London in 1676. Having taught sons of English gentlemen in France, he knew his market well, and his practical models met British tastes.'12 Like Mauger, the Verneys used polite forms of speech, but avoided French etiquette regarding spacing and address.'" The Verneys refused to place inflated titles in huge letters at the top of the page. Nor did they insert five inch spaces or put cringing signatures at the bottom of the paper.'14 Finally, only a small portion of their letters used fawning language. The Verneys never wrote slavishly to intimates. Moreover, males increasingly rebelled against social constraints that were considered overly refined. John told his wife Elizabeth not to bother sending services: 'Its only a matter of form', he noted, 'and serves only to fill up letters'. By 1713, his son-in-law Sir Thomas Cave foreswore reciprocity: 'I don't desire our correspondence should be so formal', Thomas wrote, 'as letter by letter' .'15 Even with outsiders, there were limits to John'S servility. Hence, he Jet a prized tenant go rather than send ' ... under my hand ... a fawning letter, that I thought it too mean for me to purchase his stay upon such terms'.'" These comments displayed his manly honour and his refusal to resort to affectation. Furthermore, the Verneys were acutely aware of the tension between nature and artifice, truth and compliment. Sir Ralph's close friend Dr Denton vowed he wrote 'not to flatter', for his praise was 'no compliment ... but really true'.'17 Trusted Nancy Nicholas also swore that she wrote 'without compliment or lying'.'" It was vital to differentiate between the two at a time when patronage underpinned social practices. As the Verneys wrote different kinds of letters they made this distinction and constructed their own balance between candour and ceremony. Clearly, the Verneys used letter writing to meet their personal, dynastic, and

The post-Restoration-letter

25

patronage needs_ Moreover, because letters pervaded every aspect of life, they influenced the family's corporate personality. By writing, rereading, and saving records, each generation took part in the construction of a cumulative family identity. Their letters functioned both as truth and myth. They were the Verneys's history, biography, and memoirs, to be drawn upon over time in order to strengthen survivors. In 1866, an unopened letter from Mun to John written two hundred years earlier was found. 'It seemed almost like a breach of confidence to open it', noted Lady Verney, but the family gathered to read it, 'that it might be done under the shelter of the family conscience'.119 Long after their genesis, the letters kept functioning as a legacy,'20 shaping, not just reflecting, a family ethos. The fact that Verneys still live in Claydon House and that letter collection continues is significant. We see that the way the Verneys used writing and the attitudes they held about written records affected their family history.'21 The importance that the Verneys attached to letters bears a lesson for historians. Through letters, we can see how individuals coped in a society based upon lineage, custom, and manners. We can uncover a family's social code, and note whether they accepted or evaded its norms. Through letters, we can watch the rise of a discourse of politeness and note how gentility was instilled. We can see how people brought stability to their lives by constructing networks, maintaining friendships, and communicating with absent loved-ones. Through letters, we can watch how people dealt with anxiety, illness, and isolation. We can see how they found means of self-expression, personal development, and even power, in a patriarchal environment. Through letters, we can see how people obtained the patronage that determined one's place in life. The development of the letter went hand in hand with the promotion of social values, as well as individual identities. Literary scholars have long used epistolary collections and criticism to describe the eighteenth-century intellectual world. Now historians can use letters to create cultural studies that embrace social and political themes. Far from being a marginal genre, letters can show continuities and change that usually lie hidden from view. Like the Verneys, we too can use 'paper messengers' to proclaim our vision of the past. Notes 1.

Miriam Slater (1984), Family Life in the Seventeenth Century: The Verneys of Claydon House, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, p. 2. Microfilm copies of the personal letters may be found at the British Library, Buckinghamshire Record Office, and the Princeton University Library. Titles of Sir Ralph Verney, Baronet; John Verney, Viscount Fermanagh; and Sir Thomas Cave, Second Baronet, are omitted in the endnotes. Spelling has been modernised and dates assume that the year starts on 1 January. References to the Verney Letters ending in VL refer to microfilmed documents in the Princeton University Library. Citations include the microfilm reel number, the sequential number of the document on that reel, names of correspondents, and the date of the document. References to original documents at Claydon House are preceded by CH and the catalogue number.

26

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

Epistolary Selves I wish to thank Sir Ralph Verney for permission to use his family papers. John Broad, Hugh Hanley, and Susan Ranson gave valuable assistance concerning the documents. For help with this paper, I thank Jeanne and Lawrence Stone, Sonia Anderson, John Bidwell, Clare Brant, Betsy Brown, John Catanzariti, Natalie Davis, Mary George, Anthony Grafton, Frances Harris, Jonathan Lambe, Peter Lake, John Murrin, Richard Olney, and April Shelford. For the same intergenerational training and collecting, see Lyman Henry Butterfield (ed.) (1963), The Adams Family Correspondence, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, vol. 1, pp. xix-xxxvii; and Lyman Henry Butterfield (ed.) (1961), The Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, vol. 1, pp. xiii-xxii, especially p. xii, where he notes that the 'habit of making and keeping written records became as persistent a family trait among the Adamses as the distinctive conformation of their skulls'. This debate is discussed by Janet Gurkin Altman (1982), Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form, Ohio State University Press, Columbus; Bruce Redford (1986), The Converse of the Pen: Acts of Intimacy in the Eighteenth-Century Familiar Letter, University of Chicago Press, Chicago; Samuel Johnson (1926), Lives of the English Poets, vol. 2, Oxford University Press, Oxford; and Samuel Johnson (1826), The Rambler, no. 158, 31 August 1751, Jones and Co., London, pp. 262-264. Howard Anderson and Irvin Ehrenpreis, 'The Familiar Letter in the Eighteenth Century: Some Generalizations', in Howard Anderson, Philip Daghlian, and Irvin Ehrenpreis (eds) (1966), The Familiar Letter in the Eighteenth Century, University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, pp. 269-271; ].c. Bailey (1899), Studies in Some Famous Letters, Thomas Burleigh, London, p. 1; Robert Adams Day (1966), Told in Letters: Epistolary Fiction Before Richardson, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, pp. 25, 49, 65-68; Dena Goodman (1994), The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 136-182; Kathryn Shevelow (1989), Women and Print Culture: The Construction of Femininity in the Early Periodical, Routledge, London and New York, p. 38; and Ian Watt (1957), The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding, University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 176. Edme Boursauet (1721), Letters from a Lady of Quality to a Chevalier, translated from the French by Mrs Eliza Haywood, London; Mary Delariviere Manley (1711), Court Intrigues, in a Collection of Original Letters from the Island of the New Atlantic, &c., London; Del Chevalier (1693), Five Love Letters from a Nun to a Cavalier: Done out of French into English by Roger L'Estrange, London; Charles Gildon (1706), The Post-Boy Robb'd of his Mail: or the Pacquet Broke Open, Second Edition, London; Aphra Behn (1684), Love-Letters Between a Noble-man and his Sister, London; Margaret Cavendish (1664), CCXI Sociable Letters, written by the Thrice Noble, Illustrious, and Excellent Princess, the Lady Marchioness of Newcastle, London; and Janet Gurkin Altman (1989), 'Political Ideology in the Letter Manual (France, England and New England)" Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, vol. 18, p. 106. For two basic bibliographies see Ruth Perry (1980), Women, Letters, and the Novel, AMS Press, New York, pp. 191-199; and Day (1966), pp. 237-270. Perry (1980), p. 15, estimates that between 100 and 200 epistolary works appeared in the early eighteenth-century, while Day (1966), p. 77, assumes that most editions consisted of about 2,000 copies. Vincent Voiture (1701), Familiar and Courtly Letters to Persons of Honour and Quality by Monsieur Voiture, A Member of the Royal Academy at Paris, vol. 1, London; Mark Motley (1994), 'Educating the English Gentleman Abroad: The Verney Family in Seventeenth-Century France and Holland', Journal of Education, vol. 23, p. 251; Verney Booklists [1697-16981. 48-104, John Verney/Ralph Verney, 6 December 1694, VL; and British Library

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9.

10.

11.

12.

13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

21.

22.

27

(henceforth BL), Burney Newspaper Collection, Reel #103A, The Athenian Gazette or Causistical Mercury, 17 March-30 March 1690, first volume and supplements, London, 1691. Giles Constable (1976), Letters and Letter-Collections, Editions Breplos, Turnhout, pp. 40-41; Perry (1980), p. 65; and George Steiner (1978), 'The Distribution of Discourse' in On Difficulty and Other Essays, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, p. 73. David Cressy (1980), Literacy and the Social Order: Reading and Writing in Tudor and Stuart England, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 129, 176; Shevolow (1989), p. 30; and Germaine Greer et al. (1988), Kissing the Rod: An Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Women's Verse, Virago Press, London, pp. 1-31. 38-6, Edmund Verney/Ralph Verney, 20 August 1683, VL; 47-133, Ralph VerneY2/Ralph Verney, 19 October 1693, VL; 48-520, John VerneylRalph Verney, 11 September 1695, VL; 48-544, Betty VerneylRalph Verney, 14 October 1695, VL; 56-169, Betty Lovett/John Verney,S May 1717, VL; 51-358, Joseph Churchill/John Verney, 21 December 1700, VL; 50-523, Thomas Phelps/John Verney, 19 October 1698, VL; 54-52, William Mason/Elizabeth Baker Verney, 16 April 1709, VL; and 30-14, Joseph Churchill/Ralph Verney, 6 February 1677, VL. Kathleen Lambley (1920), The Teaching and Cultivation of the French Language in England during Tudor and Stuart Times, Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp. 301-313, 341-343; and Motley (1994), p. 247. Sources about the family include: EP. and M.M. Verney (eds) (1970), Memoirs of the Verney Family, 4 vols, Tabard Press, London; M.M. Verney (ed.) (1930), The Verney Letters of the Eighteenth Century from the MSS. at Claydon House, 2 vols, Ernest Benn, London; John Broad (1973), 'Sir Ralph Verney and his Estates, 1630-1696', unpublished DPhil thesis, Oxford University; and John Broad (1979), 'Gentry Finances and the Civil War: The Case of the Buckinghamshire Verneys', Economic History Review, Second Series, vol. 32, pp. 183-200. 35-25, John Verney/Ralph Verney, 14 March 1680, VL; and 29-20, Ralph Verney/Edmund Verney, 17 February 1676, VL. Henry Stanley Bennet (1968), The Pastons and Their England, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 125. . Bodleian Library (henceforth Bodl) MS Top Bucks c. 1, fa. 94, 'Lady Verney's Account of the Portraits at Claydon House', Macmillan Magazine, September 1866, insert, 352; and M.M. Verney (1970), vol. 1, p. xiv. For example, the amounts for upper servants' annuities were cut aut of several deeds, some of which were cancelled. CH 1/214-218, Deeds, 1673-1698. I thank Susan Ranson for this reference. 21-1, Ralph Verney/[Nan Hobart, 1666?], VL. 52-231, William Cheyne/John Verney, 14 June 1703, VL; CH 14/2, Letters Patent, Grant to John Verney, 16 June 1703; and Basil Henning (1983), The Hause of Commons, 1660-1690, vol. III, Secker and Warburg, London, p. 634. 51-397, Penelope Viccars/John Verney, 19 February 1701, VL. For two examples of editing and marginalia, see 38-11, Edmund Verney/Ralph Verney, 31 August 1683, VL; and 39-30, John Verney, [Jan, 1685?], VL. In the Le Neve Papers, BL Add. MS 71573, Peter Le Neve adds comments about his letters and his replies. Like John Verney, he clearly reread letters. CH 14/19-49, 68, 69, Genealogical Papers of John Verney; CH 15/6 Faults in the Book of Mr. Verney's Descents of Baronets, Comments of Mr Le Neve, 24 September 1694; and 55-337, William Viccars/John Verney, 17 June 1714, VL. Although the Verney letters make this point, no copy has been found. I wish to thank Mr Robert Yorke, Archivist of the College of Arms, London. Quoted in Butterfield (ed.) (1963), vol. 1, pp. xxvi-xxvii, John Quincy Adams 2/Charles Francis Adams, 5 February 1867.

28

Epistolary Selves

23.

55-590, Ralph Palmer 2IRaiph Verney 2, 23 September 1715, VL. Similarly, in BL Add. MS 72515, Trumbull Papers, Anne Bynns told Sir William Temple on 17 August [1687], 'I can't forbear by every opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of writing to you'. The author has constructed a computerised database of over 10,000 records to enable searches of the letters by personal name, date, place, subject headings, and other variables. This permits control over the data and allows underlying patterns to emerge into view. Henry Wyld (1936), A History of Modern Colloquial English, Third Edition, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 2-3, 162-165. A similar process is noticed in Muriel St Clare Byrne (ed.) (1983), The Lisle Letters: An Abridgement, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. xxv. Likewise, Thomas Jefferson thought that 'the letters of a person, especially one whose business has been chiefly transacted by letters, form the only full and genuine journal of his life'. See Thomas Jefferson to Robert Walsh,S April 1823, quoted in Julian P. Boyd (ed.) (1950), The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 1, Princeton University Press, Princeton, p. xi. Jonathan Swift claimed that the recipient's character could be exposed by subtle changes in authorial expression. (See Jonathan Swift (1700), introduction to Letters written by Sir W. Temple, Baronet and other Ministers of State, both at Home and Abroad, 1665-72, vol. I, Tonson and Churchill, London). 51-545, Elizabeth Adams/John Verney, 22 August 1700, VL; 51-72, Cary Gardiner/John Verney, 27 September 1699, VL; and Joyce Carol Oates (1991), 'Tennessee in the Stoned Age', Times Literary Supplement, no. 4594,19 April 1991, p.8. Clare Brant (1988), 'Eighteenth-Century Letters: Aspects of the Genre, with Reference to the Epistolary Novel and the Familiar Letters of Personal Correspondence', unpublished DPhil thesis, Oxford University; and Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann (1987), The Social Construction of Reality, Penguin, Harmondswonh. I thank Dr Frances Harris of the British Library for her help in providing references. Exceptions to the rule of writing on only one side of the page and of using no margins are found in BL Add. MS 22226, Wentworth Papers. See also BL Add. MS 29572, Hatton Papers, for examples of no margins. On the other hand, BL Add. MS 72517, Trumbull Papers, includes many examples of writing sideways in the margins as the Verneys did. EP. and M.M. Verney (eds) (1970),vol. I, pp. xii-xiii; Bodl MS Top Bucks c.l, fo. 94, insert, 340-356. Sir William Trumbull docketed his letters in the same manner as Sir Ralph. See BL Add. MS 72515, Trumbull Papers, John Bridges/Sir William Temple, 11 May 1695. In BL Add. MS 69936, Coke Papers, docketing is brief but consistent with the names of writer and recipient, the date and a short topical summary. In contrast, BL Add. MS 28051, Leeds and Osborne Papers, shows irregular docketing practice. It also discusses 'transcribing by a slow amanuensis' in fa. 142, William Lloyd, Bishop of St Asaph to the Earl of Danby, 13 October 1682. BL Add. MS 72516, fos. 13-14, Charles Cottrell to Lady Elizabeth Trumbull, 22 January [1686?] discusses pros and cons of writing letters oneself, while the Duke of Bedford noted that the Duchess of Marlborough III BL Add. MS 61449, fo. 64, 13 May 1725, spared 'yrself the trouble of writing with yr own hand .. .' Letter books such as BL Add. MS 47025, Egmont Papers, enabled owners to make elaborate collections with indexes and annotations. R. Reiberg, 'James Boswell's Personal Correspondence' in Anderson, Daghlian and Ehrenpreis (eds) (1966), p. 245. Barbara H. Smith (1978), On the Margins of Discourse: The Relation of Literature to Language, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, pp. 61-62.

24.

25. 26. 27.

28.

29.

30. 31.

32.

33. 34.

The post-Restoration letter 35. 36.

37. 38.

39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46.

47. 48.

29

47-102, Ralph Palmer/John Verney, 7 October 1693, VL; 52-300, Isabelle Stewekely/John Verney, 6 November 1703, VL; and 52-486, William Butterfield/John Verney, 19 June 1704, VL. W.S. Lewis (ed.) (1934), Philip Stanhope, Second Earl of Chesterfield, Some Short Observations for the Lady Mary Stanhope Concerning the Writing of Ordinary Letters, Farmington. Some of Lady Mary's letters may be found in BL Add. MS 69938, Coke Papers. Her spelling is good and her handwriting is small, well-formed, but cramped onto small 4x6 paper without margins. See fo. 40 to her husband Thomas Coke, 14 January 1700 for crossed out words. BL Add. MS 69939, fo. 43, to her husband Thomas on 13 January [1701l2?] shows grace and ease. BL Add. MS 69938, fo. 200, 18 November [1701] is a letter from her father, the second Earl of Chesterfield, expressing his concern about his son's letter-writing habits. 46-34, John Verney/Ralph Verney, 21 July 1692, VL. Although gossip was a source of news, it was noted as such. 46-177, Ralph Verney/Cary Gardiner, 30 October 1692, VL. See also Patricia Meyer Spacks (1983), 'Borderlands: Letters and Gossip', The Georgia Review, vol. 37 pp. 791-813; and Patricia Meyer Spacks (1985), Gossip, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Elizabeth Hamilton (1965), The Mordaunts: An Eighteenth-Century Family, William Heinemann, London; and Butterfield (1963), pp. xxiii-xxiv. These themes are prominent in every collection examined. 41-19, John StewkeleylRalph Verney, 6 October 1686, VL; 32-47, Captain T. StaffordlRalph Verney, 2 December 1678, VL; and 46-518, Cary GardinerlRalph Verney, 7 June 1693, VL. Motley (1994), pp. 251-252. 16-15, John Verney/Ralph Verney, 20 July 1659, VL; and 21-5, John Verney/Ralph Verney, 10 June 1667, VL. Stephen Penton's (1688) The Gentleman Instructed, London, p. 59, noted: 'Letters to and fro are some kind of guard upon a youth ... an honest use of filling idle time'. 48-630, Cary Gardiner/Ralph Verney, 31 December 1695, VL; 46-115, Ralph Verney/John Verney, 10 September 1692, VL; and 36-26, Ralph Verney/John Verney, 5 December 1681, VL. Goodman (1994) pp. 139-40; 54-135, Ralph Palmer 2/RalphVerney 2, 13 October 1709, VL; and Jack Goody (1986), The Logic of Writing and the Organization of Society, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 20. The Restoration dramas underline this point, as do The Spectator, Tatler and other early eighteenth-century periodicals. See Joseph Addison and Richard Steele (1710/11), The Spectator, vol. 1, No.9, 10 March, 1711, London, p. 34, for a particular example and Donald Bond (ed.) (1965), The Spectator, vol. I, Clarendon Press, Oxford, introduction; R. Bond (1971), The Tatler: The Making of a Literary Journal, Harvard University Press, Cambridge; Arthur Raleigh Humphreys (1959), Steele, Addison, and Their Essays, Longmans Green, London; and E. and L. Bloom (1971), Joseph Addison's Sociable Animal, Brown University, Providence. See also Maurice Agulhon (1968), Penitents et Francs-ma(:ons de I'Ancienne Provence, Paris. Daniel Gordon (1994), Citizens Without Sovereignty; Equality and Sociability in French Thought 1670-1789, Princeton University Press, Princeton, p. 6, pp. 33-42. A. Bryson (1984), 'Concepts of Civility in England, 1560-1685', unpublished DPhil thesis, Oxford University; F. Childs (1984), 'Prescriptions for Manners in English Courtesy Literature and Their Social Implications, 1690-1760', unpublished DPhil thesis, Oxford University; M. Ketcham (1985), Transparent Designs: Reading, Performance, and Form in the Spectator's Papers, University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia, pp. 1-2; and Nicholas Phillipson (1993), 'Politics and Politeness in _ the Reigns of Anne and the Early Hanoverians', in J.G.A. Pocock (ed.), The Varieties of British Political Thought, 1500-1800, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp.211-245.

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Epistolary Selves

For birth and manners see W. Darrell (1709), The Gentleman Instructed in the Conduct of a Virtuous and Happy Life, Fourth Edition, London, pp. 13-14; [W. Ramesey) (1676), The Gentleman's Companion or a Character of True Nobility and Gentility, London, p. 1, p. 6;]. Dare (1673), Counsellor Manners, His Last Legacy to His Son, London; P. Coss (1995), 'The Formation of the English Gentry', Past and Present, vol. 147, pp. 38-64; John Mason (1971), Gentlefolk in the Making, Octagon, New York; and P.]. Corfield (1996), 'The Rivals: Landed and Other Gentlemen', in N. Harte and R. Quinault, Land and Society in Britain 1700-1914, Manchester University Press, Manchester. For the classical roots of English social behaviour see Cicero (1974), De Officiis, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis; M. Rostvig (1971), The Happy Man: Studies in the Metamorphoses of a Classical Ideal, vol. II, Humanities Press, New York; and Lawrence Klein (1994), Shaftesbury and the Culture of Politeness, Cambridge University Press, New York. For the roots of court society and Renaissance humanists see Desiderius Erasmus (1540) (trans. R. Whittington), De Civilitate Marum Puerilium, London; Baldassare Castiglione (1901) (trans. L. Opdycke), The Book of the Courtier, Scribner's Sons, New York; Norbert Elias (1978), The Civilizing Process: The History of Manners, Urizen Books, New York; Marvin Becker (1988), Civility and Society in Western Europe, 1300-1600, Indiana University Press, Bloomington; and M. James (1978), 'English Politics and the Concept of Honour, 1485-1642', Past and Present, supplement no. 3. 50. The Gentleman's Library, Containing Rules for Conduct in All Parts of Life (1715), London, p. 77; Obadiah Walker (1687), Of Education, Especially of Young Gentlemen, Fifth Edition, Oxford, p. 258; The Art of Complaisance, or the Means to Oblige in Conversation (1673), London; Giovanni della Casa (1703), Galatea, of Manners: Or Instruction to a Young Gentleman How to Behave Himself in Conversation, London; Abel Boyer (1702), The English Theophrastus: Or the Manners of the Age, London; and The Lady's Preceptor (1743), London, p. 49. 51. Angel Day, [1625], referred to 'the familiar and mutual talk of one absent friend to another' in The English Secretorie, London, p. 8. Hannah Wolley (1675) spoke of 'writing to a friend at a distance' in The Gentlewoman's Companion, London, p. 218. Erasmus talked of 'conversation between two absent friends, in his Collected Works, Jesse Kelley Sowards (ed.) (1985), vol. 25, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, p. 258. See also Antoine de Courtin (1671), The Rules of Civility, London, p. 136; and Philomusus (1705), The Academy of Complements, London, p. 101; Constable (1976), p. 13. 52. 49-256, John Verneyrrhomas Verney, 16 February 1697, VL. 53. 51-408, Cary Gardiner/John Verney, 4 March 1701, VL. See also 52-5, John Verney/Elizabeth Baker Verney, 8 July 1702, VL; In BL Add. MS 22226, fa. 33, Wentworth Papers, Anne, Lady Strafford wrote to her husband Thomas, Third Earl of Strafford, 27 November 1711: 'talking to you in this way is more pleasing to me than all the conversation in the world besides'. Dorothy Osborne noted 'the received opinion that people ought to write as they speak' in Dorothy Osborne (1987), Letters to Sir William Temple, Penguin, London and Harmondsworth, p. 197, letter #61, Dorothy Osborne/Sir William Temple, 12 March 1654. For a different view see Janet Gurkin Altman (1993), 'Postscript', in Alan T. McKenzie (ed.), Sent as a Gift: Eight Correspondences from the Eighteenth Century, University of Georgia Press, Athens, p. 214; and Anderson, Daghlian and Ehrenpreis (eds) (1966), p. 274. 54. Cavendish (1664), preface; 53-694, Ralph Palmer 2/John Verney, 30 December 1708, VL; 56-209, Francis Luttrell/John Verney, 7 May 1717, VL. 55. John Locke (1812), The Works of John Locke, vol. IX, Law and Gilbert, London, p. 180; William Henry Irving (1955), The Providence of Wit in the English Letter Writers, Duke University Press, Durham, p. 15. 49.

The post-Restoration letter 56.

31

49-407, Elizabeth Adams/John Verney, 24 October 1696, VL. Original spelling has been reproduced. 57. 50-440, Isabelle Stewkeley/John Verney, 12 July 1698, VL; 50-654, Elizabeth Adams/John Verney, 19 June 1699, VL; 51-229, Elizabeth Adams/John Verney, 2 April 1700, VL. For differences between older and younger generations of women compare those of Anne, Lady Strafford throughout BL Add. MS 22226 with fo. 159 from her mother Lady Rawston, 6 May 1712, and fos. 80 and 299 from her motherin-law Isabella, Lady Wentworth, 29 January 1712 and 19 February 1712. The letters in BL Add. MS 61453, fos. 15-24b, Blenheim Papers, from Elizabeth Annesley, widow of Arthur, First Earl of Anglesea in 1692, have the same poor layout and spelling as those of Sir Ralph's sisters. In BL Add. MS 28052, fo. 1, Leeds and Osborne Papers, Elizabeth Byne writes to Sir William Godolphin on 20 September 1663 about her daughter who 'begs your pardon for not answering your letter she being so ill a scribe'. John Verney's third wife, Elizabeth Baker, calls herself 'an indifferent scribe' in 49-242, Elizabeth Baker Verney/John Verney, 22 August 1696, VL. 58. 48-18, Margaret Cave/Ralph Verney, 23 October 1694, VL. The Trumbull children showed similar skills and forms of address: BL Add. 72515, Trumbull Papers, Brooke Bridges to Sir William Temple, 29 January [1687?J. Similar letters may also be found in the Huntington Library's (henceforth HL) collection of the Temples of Stowe. See HL Stowe MS STT 1911, Arthur Temple/James Mellifont, [7 October, c.1695J. 59: 50-637, Peregrine Tyam/John Verney, May 1699, VL; Bodl MS Top Bucks c.l, fo. 94; and 51-12, Edward Norgrave/Elizabeth Baker Verney, 22 July 1699, VL. 60. Thus in 52-265,Cary Gardiner/John Verney, 21 September 1703, VL, John gave instructions for addressing him as a Viscount. See also William Fulwood (1593), The Enimie of Idlenesse, London, pp. 12-13; and Jonathan Goldberg (1990), Writing Matter: From the Hands of the English Renaissance, Stanford University Press, Stanford, pp. 252-253. 61. 49-107, Cary Gardiner/Ralph Verney, 14 April 1696, VL; 53-141, John Verney/Elizabeth Adams, 1 January 1706, VL. See also BL Add. MS 22226, fo. 335, Anne, Countess of Strafford to her mother, Lady Rawsron, 16 September 1713: 'I have no news to send ... but that my Lord and I ... joyn in duty ro your Ladyship'. 62. 54-212, Elizabeth Adams/John Verney, 6 February 1710, VL; and 33-9, Ralph Verney/John Verney, 12 July 1679, VL. 63. Lawrence Stone (1979), The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England, Harper and Row, London. 64. 31-23, John Verney/Edmund Verney, [1687?], VL; 52-628, Mary Lovett/John Verney, 18 November 1704, VL; and 52-629, John Verney/Mary Lovett, 6 December 1704, VL. 65. The same physical separation between generations was noted by the Adams family. See Butterfield (ed.) (1963), vol. 1, pp. xxii-xxiii. 66. 52-411, Elizabeth Adams/John Verney, 15 February 1704, VL. 67. 50-494, Elizabeth Baker Verney/John Verney, 4 September 1698, VL. See also BL Add. MS 29572, fo. 46, Hatton Papers, C. Hatron ro Christopher, First Viscount Hatton, [n.d.}, 'I can as well hang myself, as let a post go without a letter and when I begin I can never give over as long as my paper will hold out, but persecute you with long letters which I know well to be a trouble to you, but 1 have no ease, no longer then 1 am writing or reading yours'. 68. 52-389, Margaret Cave/John Verney, 1 February 1703, VL. In BL Add. MS 22226, fo. 9, Anne, Lady Strafford ro Thomas, Third Earl of Strafford, 25 Ocrober 1711, Anne was 'made happy by hearing from my dear life ... which next to the enjoyment of your dear company is the greatest satisfaction I can have'. 69. Becker (1988), p. xviii; and Naomi Tadmor (1992), 'Dimensions of Inequality

32

70. 71. 72. 73.

74. 75. 76. 77.

78. 79. 80. 81.

Epistolary Selves among Siblings in Eighteenth-Century English Novels', Continuity and Change, vol. 7, pp. 303-333. For networks see S. Berkowitz (1982), An Introduction to Structural Analysis: The Network Approach, Butterworth and Co., Toronto; J. Mitchell (ed.) (1969), Social Networks in Urban Situations, Manchester University Press, Manchester; and C. Wetherell (1989), 'Network Analysis Comes of Age', Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 19, pp. 645-651. Less quantitative sociologists have helpful insights including E. Bott (1957), Family and Social Network, Tavistock Publications, London; and J. Boissevain (1974), Friends of My Friends, Basil Blackwell, Oxford. 53-61, Katherine Stewkeley/John Verney, 27 October 1705, VL. 47-39, Nancy Nicholas/John Verney, 29 August 1693, VL; 51-247, Jenny Abdy/John Verney, 30 April 1700, VL; and 53-91, Elizabeth Adams/John Verney, 6 December 1705, VL. Andrew Burstein (1994), 'Jefferson and the Familiar Letter', Journal of the Early Republic, vol. 14, p. 198; 55-109, Thomas Cave/John Verney, May 1713, VL. 48-627, Cary Stewkeley/Ralph Verney, 29 December 1695, VL; and 55-32, Ralph Palmer 2IRalph Verney 2,1 January 1713, VL. See also BL Add. MS 22226, fo. 347, Anne, Lady Strafford to her mother, Lady Rawston, 8 October 1713: 'Nobody but I that endure it can tell the concern I am now in for your ladyship's illness'. 51-301, Cary Gardiner/John Verney, 26 September 1700, VL; Richard Brown (1989), Knowledge is Power: The Diffusion of Information in Early America, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, pp. 45-46. Carolyn Steedman (1992), Past Tenses: Essays on Writing, Autobiography, and History, Rivers Oram Press, London, p. 11; and Spacks (1983), pp. 791-813. Watt (1957), pp. 74-76, p. 177; and Perry (1980), p. ix. Elizabeth Goldsmith (ed.) (1989), Writing the Female Voice: Essays on Epistolary Literature, Northeastern University Press, Boston, p. xii; Perry (1980), pp. 68-70; Patricia Meyer Spacks (1995), Boredom: The LIterary History of a State of Mind, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 83-109; and Mary Favret (1993), Romantic Correspondence: Women, Politics, and the Fiction of Letters, University of Chicago Press, Cambridge, p. 10. For other helpful sources about women's writing see Nancy Armstrong (1987), Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford; Claire Brant and Diane Purkiss (1992) (eds), Women, Texts, and Histories 1575-1760, Routledge, London and New York; Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar (1979), The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven; Linda Kauffman (1986), Discourses of Desire: Gender, Genre, and Epistolary Fictions, ·Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York and London; C. Lowenthal (1994), Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Eighteenth-Century Familiar Letter, University of Georgia, Athens; Melissa Mowry (1993), '(Re)productive Histories: Epistolary Fiction and the Origin of the Epistolary Novel', unpublished PhD thesis, University of Delaware; Jane Spencer (1986), The Rise of the Woman Novelist, Basil Blackwell, Oxford and New York; Domna Stanton (1984) (ed.), The Female Autograph, Literary Forum, New York; and Janet Todd (1987) (ed.), A Dictionary of British and American Women Writers 1600-1800, Roman and Littlefield, London. Virginia Woolf (1935), The Common Reader, Second Series, Hogarth Press, London, p. 60; and Osborne (1987), pp. 31-32. Spacks (1995) p. 92; Steiner (1978), p. 73. 49-382, Elizabeth Lilly/Ralph Verney, 23 February 1695, VL; and 49-275, Elizabeth Lilly/John Verney, 29 September 1696, VL. 51-361, Cary Gardiner/John Verney, 25 December 1700, VL. The work of Natalie Davis has been helpful concerning this point.

The post-Restoration letter 82. 83.

33

51-631, Cary Gardiner/John Verney, 16 December 1701, VL. John White (1986), Light from Ancient Writers, Fortress Press, Philadelphia; Stanley Stowers (1986), Letter Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity, Westminster Press, Philadelphia; Giles Constable (1976), pp. 13-16; and Janet Todd (1980), Women's Friendship in Literature, Columbia University Press, New York 84. 55-341, A. IstedlCatherine Verney, 22 June 1714, VL; and 53-290, Frances Lovett/John Verney, 2 November 1706, VL. 85. 32-155, Katherine StewkeleylPeneiope Stewkeley, 1 October 1678, VL. Anne Dormer to Lady Elizabeth Trumbull writes in the same fashion in BL Add. MS 72516, Trumbull Papers, 4 February n.d.: 'Could you possibly know with how much tenderness I think of you; How passionately I love you'. See also the letters of Ralph Palmer Jr to Ralph Verney Jr. 86. Clare Brant (1988), emphasises the tensions produced by letters, p. 14, p. 212, and generally. For an extreme case of tension see BL Add. MS 70500, fo. 74, 24 March 1674, Vere/Cavendish Papers, Countess of Ogle to Elizabeth, Duchess of Albemarle, recalling 'one of the unkindest, undutyfullest letters that ever was writ to a mother'. 87. Joan Parkes (1925), Travel in England in the Seventeenth-Century, Oxford University Press, London; John Crofts (1967), Packhorse, Wagon and Post, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London; and Pat Rogers (1974), The Augustan Vision, Methuen and Co., London. 88. 36-29, John Verney/Ralph Verney, 12 December 1681, VL. Thomas, Third Earl of Strafford, sent his letter to Mrs Arundell in his mother's packet so 'you may be sure it will not be opened', and advised her to answer without her name and to use a code for the Queen. BL Add. MS 22228, fos 7-8, Wentworth Papers, 25 May 1714. Letters first went to London before local distribution. See Howard Robinson (1948), The British Post Office: A History, Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp. 64-67. 89. 47-66, Ralph Verney/John Verney, 19 September 1683, VL; 48-513, Ralph Verney/John Verney, 15 September 1695, VL; HL Stowe MS STT 324, William Chapman/Sir Richard Temple, 13 July 1684; and 39-51, Ralph Verney/John Verney, 19 March 1685, VL. 90. For example, BL Add. MS 72516, Trumbull Papers, Charles Cottrell to Sir William Temple, 22 July 1690: 'It is a great trouble unto me that so many of your letters do miscarry'. See also Hamilton (1965), p. 10. 91. 50-181, Nancy Nicholas/John Verney, 14 October 1697, VL; 50-182, Thomas Verney/John Verney, 16 October 1697, VL; 53-268, John Verney/John Deere, 10 October 1706, VL; and 50-630, Thomas Verney/John Verney, 28 April 1699, VL. 92. 51-47, Nancy Nicholas/John Verney, 31 August 1699, VL; and HL Ellesmere MS EL 8639, Bridgewater Accounts, Week ending 29 August, 1690. 93. CH 4/6/4 London Accounts of John Verney: 6 August 1687, for a bottle of ink, Is. 6d; 20 September 1683/4, for a quire of paper, Is; for a ream of cut paper 5s; for a ream of cut ordinary paper, 3s. 4d; for a ream of Genoa Paper 2s. 6d. A penny bought 8+ sheets and a shilling bought 100 sheets of paper. Greer et al. (1988), p. 6. I thank John Broad for references to these documents. E.]. Labarre (1952), Dictionary and Encyclopaedia of Paper and Paper-Making, Second Edition, Swets and Zeitlinger, Amsterdam: p. 215. I thank John Bidwell for references to paper. 94. 46-550, Ralph Verney/John Verney, 25 June 1693, VL; Robinson (1948), p. 31, p. 49; Brian Austen (1978), English Provincial Posts 1633-1840, Phillimore and Co., London, p. 5, p. 32; and The Post Office: An Historical Summary (1911), HSMO, London, p. 6. In 1716, John refused to give 3s. 9d. for letters to be sent on to his grandson'S friends. See 55-579, John Verney/CLovett, 23 August 1716, VL. 95. 54-333, John Verney/Ralph Verney 2, 30 November 1710, VL; and BL Add. MS 69936, fo. 74, Coke Papers, Charles Fitzwilliam/John Coke, 14 May [dated 1686, but BL note suggests 1689], is an example of a franked letter as is another unsigned, uncatalogued letter written 24 October 1700 in BL Add. MS 70276, Portland

34

96. 97. 98.

99.

100. 101. 102. 103.

104.

105.

Epistolary Selves Papers, addressed to Robert Harley. See also George Brumell (1936), A Short Account of the Franking System in the Post Office, 1652-1840, Bournemouth Guardian Ltd, Bournemouth; Robinson (1948), pp. 40, 44, 50. 51-87, Nancy Nicholas/John Verney, 10 October 1699, VL. 50-626, Nancy Nicholas/John Verney, 20 April 1699, VL; and 50-441, Elizabeth Adams/John Verney, 12 July 1698, VL. For postal history see: T.H. Elliott (1964), State Papers Domestic Concerning the Post Office in the Reign of Charles II, Special Series #20, Postal Historical Society; J.e. Hemmeon (1912), The History of the British Post Office, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass; and George Kay (1951), Royal Mail, Rockliff Publishing Co., London. Robinson (1948), pp. 80-85. In 1688 receipts were about £90,000. In 1700 there was a net profit of £148,000, which rose to over £156,000 by 1703/4. By 1697/8, over 792,000 letters and packages were sent, with 77,530 going into the country. By 1703/4 the number of letters had risen to over 951,000, with 95,694 sent to the country. See also Perry (1980), p. 65. 48-281, Nancy Nicholas/John Verney, 4 June 1695, VL; and 56-96, Mary Lovett/John Verney, 25 August 1716, VL. 21-1, Ralph Verney/[Nan Hobart, 1666?], VL; 51-402, Thomas Verney/John Verney, 8 February 1701, VL; and 34-3, Edmund Verney/Ralph Verney, Uanuary 1680?], VL. Perry (1980), p. 75; and Thomas Sprat (1667, 1958), History of the Royal Society, Jackson Cope and Harold W. Jones (eds), reproduced by Washington University Studies, St Louis, p. 113. For two basic bibliographies of English letter-writing manuals see Katherine Hornbeak (1934), 'The Complete Letter-Writer in English, 1568-1800', Smith College Studies in Modern Languages, vol. 15, pp. 128-145; Jean Robertson (1942), The Art of Letter Writing: An Essay on the Handbooks published in England during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Hodder and Stoughton, London, pp. 67-80. For later informal English manuals see T. Goodman, Esq. (1707), The Experienced Secretary, London; John Constable (1738), The Conversation of Gentlemen Considered, London; The Complete Letter Writer Containing Familiar Letters (1768), Edinburgh; John Hill (1696), The Young Secretary's Guide, London; The Lady's Preceptor (1743), London; and Samuel Richardson (1928), Familiar Letters on Important OccaSIOns, George Routledge and Sons, London. Earlier English manuals examined include Nicholas Breton (1660), A Poste with a Packet of Madde Letters; Henry Care (1671), The Female Secretary, London; John Cotgrave (1671) London, Wit's Interpreter, the English Parnassus ... , London; Day (1625); Fulwood (1593); and G. Markham (1613), Hobson's Horse Load of Letters ... , London. For trends in English letters see Brimley Johnson (1927), English Letter Writers, Gerald Howe, London; M. Hansche (1902), The Formative Period of English Familiar Letter-Writers .. .', unpublished PhD thesis, University of Pennsylvania; Howard Williams (1886), EnglIsh Letters and Letter-Writers of the Eighteenth Century, G. Bell, London; and G. Saintsbury (1922), A Letter Book, G. Bell, London. M. Cohen (1996), Fashioning Masculinity: National Identity and Language in the Eighteenth Century, Routledge, London and New York, pp. 9-10, pp. 46-53; M. Kimmel (1987), 'The Contemporary "Crisis" of Masculinity in Historical Perspective', in H. Brod (ed.), The Making of Masculinzties: The New Men's Studies, Allen and Unwin, Boston, pp. 121-153; and Philip Carter (1995), 'Mollies, Fops and Men of Feeling: Aspects of Male Effeminacy and Masculinity in Britain, c. 1700-1780', unpublished DPhil thesis, Oxford University, 54-528, Browne Willis/John Verney, 15 January 1713, [misfiled], VL; Sharon Kettering (1986), Patrons, Brokers, and Clients in Seventeenth-Century France,

The post-Restoration letter

106.

107.

108. 109.

110.

Ill.

112.

113. 114.

35

Oxford University Press, New York; and Sharon Kettering (1988), 'The Historical Development of Political Clientelism', Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 13, pp.419-447. In the Portland Papers, BL Add. MS 70276, many letters to Robert Harley are requests for favours. For other examples see BL Add. MS 22228, fos. 13-14, Frances Arundellffhomas, Third Earl of Strafford, February 1712. In the Trumbull papers, letters often are referred to as 'favours', for example BL Add. MS 72515, Charles BridgeS/Sir William Temple, 10 September [n.d.]. 54-442, Thomas Rand/John Verney Uune 1711], VL; 54-485, Browne Willis/John Verney, 15 January 1713, VL; 54-372, Edward Henry Lee, First Earl of Litchfield/John Verney, 15 December 1710, VL; 52-305, Mary Saunders/John Verney, 12 November 1703, VL; and 56-209, Francis LuttrelUJohn Verney, 7 May 1717, VL. 49-334, John Verneyffhomas Tyrrell, 26 December 1696, VL; 51-86, John VerneylEdward Henry Lee, First Earl of Litchfield, 8 October 1699, VL; and 52-716, John Verneyllsabelle Stewkeley, 4 March 1705, VL. 51-590, John VerneylHonourable Henry Bertie, 2 December 1700, VL; and 51-45, John VerneyIWilliam Cheyne, Second Viscount Newhaven, 23 August 1699, VL. 'Kiss your hands' is a common phrase used often as in BL Add. MS 46956A, fa. 85, Egmont Papers, Sir Philip Perceval Second Baronet (1656-1680) to Sir Robert Southwell, 2 April 1679: 'This is to kiss your hands and to let you know that last night I came to ... [Bristol),. 55-186, John VerneyIWilliam Bromley, 14 September 1713, VL. In the Le Neve Papers, BL Add. MS 71573, fa. 66, Oliver Le Neve wrote to the Duke of Norfolk on 30 October 1690 for help to avoid being sheriff: 'My most honoured Lord' (followed by a space), I have no harbour in this storm but your Grace's breast, where I should be the happiest of men to find safe anchorage ... Your Grace's most humble, most devoted and obedient servant'. Another example is BL Add. MS 29572, fa. 244, C. Hatton to Christopher, First Viscount Hatton, 28 October 1682. Examples of conduct manuals which contained letter-writing instructions are de Courtin (1671); and Jean de la Serre (1640), Academy of Complements, London; Philomusus (1705). For a comprehensive list see Gertrude Noyes· (1937), Bibliography of Courtesy and· Conduct Books in Seventeenth Century England, New Haven. See also Altman (1988), pp. 105-22; and Sister Mary Humiliata (1950), 'Standards of Taste Advocated for Feminine Letter Writing, 1640-1797', Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 13, pp. 262-268. Claudius Mauger (1671), Mauger's Letters Written Upon Several Subjects, London; and French and English Letters Upon all Subjects, Mean and Sublime (1676), Second Edition, London; Grammaire Anglaise (1699), London; French Grammar with Additions, [169?]; Claudius Mauger and P. Festeau (1696), New Double Grammar, French-English and English-French, Bruxelles; and Charles Bouton (1922), Les Grammaires Francaises de Claude Mauger a l'Usage Anglais, Klincksieck, Paris. See also BL Add. MS 22221, fos 9, 97,150-1 from Lord Ailesbury, 19 November 1711, Lord Bathurst, 1 November 1712, Lady Frances Bathurst, 5 June 1707, for similar examples among elite writers. Other collections show similar characteristics. There is a common respect for spacing after the salutation and before closure, which ranges with rank (up to 3 inches at top and bottom is common). Formulaic salutations and closures often reinforce relative places in the social structure. Care is taken regarding penmanship, page layout, and composition but courtesy language is rarely used in familiar letters and there is little servility. Some letters to the Duchess of Marlborough in BL Add. MSS 61449-50, 61468,61471 have up to a 3-inch margin below salutation and before signature. This appears to be the practice of many writers when writing courtesy letters to 'great persons', but, even here, there is little similarity to French letters.

36

Epistolary Selves

115. 34-71, John VerneylRalph Verney, 20 May 1680, VL; 52-272, John Verney/Mary Lloyd, 25 April 1704, VL; and 55-227, Thomas Cave/John Verney, 28 November 1713, VL. 116. 43-9, John Verney/Ralph Verney, 4 September 1688, VL. 117. 38-75, Dr William DentonlRalph Verney, 18 October 1683, VL; and H. Morley (ed.) (1891), The Spectator, #103, 28 June 1711, London, pp. 372-374. For a similar comment in the Wentworth Papers see BL Add. MS 22221, fo. 150-151, Lady Frances BathurstlThomas, Third Earl of Strafford, 8 June 1707: '1 am afraid your Lordship will think it a compliment to tell you the pleasure I receive by the honour of your letters. 118. 49-211, Nancy Nicholas/Ralph Verney, 28 July 1696, VL. 119. Bodl MS Top Bucks c. 1, fo. 94, insert, p. 353. 120. David Patterson (1988), A Phoenix in Fetters: Studies in Nineteenth Century and Early Twentieth Century Hebrew Fiction, Roman and Littlefield, Totowa, p. 24. 121. Richard Brodhead (1993), Cultures of Letters: Scenes of Reading and Writing in Nineteenth-Century America, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London; and Henri-Jean Martin, (1994) (trans. L.G. Cochrane), The History and Power of Writing, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

3 The immigrant letter between positivism and populism: American historians' uses of personal correspondence David Gerber

To justify leaving home, to establish migration chains and teach those about to join them about the experience of emigration, to ask for or to provide economic resources, to attain intimacy, and to maintain emotional bonds, immigrants before the era of instant electronic communications were compelled to write letters to family and friends in their homelands, even though their literacy skills were often quite rudimentary.' The result is a vast, unique archive of the writings of obscure and ordinary people of dozens of different ethnocultural backgrounds that is especially rich for the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the routinisation of transoceanic shipping facilitated the exchange of mail between Europe and North America. To be sure, not all immigrants participated in this international exchange of personal letters. Illiterates, those who had severed family ties, those with completed families, children, and women (who, even when literate, were often spoken for in correspondence by husbands, fathers, or brothers) are all under-represented among letter-writers. That is certainly not the only difficulty the letter poses. In many instances it is difficult to learn anything beyond basic biographical facts about either the letter-writers or those to whom they wrote. Only occasionally, moreover, do we have access to the letters that were sent to our letter-writers, so we are tuned in to a one-way conversation. Nor can we really account, with any degree of system, for why some individuals' letters survive, while doubtless a larger number, written by untold others, have not. Thus, whether we approach it on the level of the individual collection or the entire universe of immigrant personal correspondence, the question of representativeness remains especially problematic. Nor can we systematically test most letters for accuracy, let alone authenticity. Some letters, we know, were crafted by their authors or by subsequent editors to appear to be personal documents, when they actually were composed for use as propaganda, for or against emigration, in newspapers and pamphlets. 2 And if all this were not

38

Epistolary Selves

complication enough, most letters are rarely built upon one theme and go off in a number of different directions. It is difficult to know how to conceptualise documents with such internal diversity. Perhaps these difficulties inherent in the immigrant letter help to account for its static position as a source in historical analysis, though this chapter argues that the problem is deeper than such situational factors. Historians' difficulties with the immigrant letter lie more with our lack of a systematic approach to dealing with personal correspondence, which is also a part of our problem comprehending both the self-understandings and modes of self-expression of ordinary individuals. Social historians, among whom I include myself, have been much more skilled in understanding large, categorical social groups, and seem to assume that if we can know such groups, somehow we can know the individual people within them. The group and the larger social structure help to set boundaries within which individual selves exist; they do not completely define the individual. It is in this space that individuality emerges, with its perplexing variations on the general themes present in culture and society. We are less prone to know the ways of understanding this tentative space. It is this understanding that would most help us to interpret immigrant personal correspondence.' Currently immigrant letters are used mostly to provide colour and drama in historical narratives and to provide documentation for societal and group generalisations derived from other primary texts, social science theory, or the manipulation of aggregate data taken from published, often official, sources." In recent decades, beginning with Charlotte Erickson's path-breaking Invisible Immigrants (1972), we have also witnessed the publication of a number of excellent edited collections of immigrant letters. 5 The collection is certainly not a new form for publication of the immigrant letter. In fact, the collection format has dominated the historian's approach to these sources in this century. Recent collections, however, provide expert general socio-economic historical contextualisation. But like the collections of the more distant past they do not systematically analyse letters as a singular sort of text, for what they might reveal about the individual letter-writers' consciousness and self-awareness and all the societal and cultural influences upon which both are contingent. Rather, the point of such collections has always been to let the letter-writers speak for themselves (seldom with an acknowledgement of how problematic that goal is), while providing some background information that allows us less to know the voice of the writer than to place the writer in the general social framework of time and place. Indeed, the centrality of the collection format for the development of immigrant letters, which seems unmatched in the case of any other primary source, deserves analysis of its own, and will be addressed later in this essay. The current marginality of the immigrant letter stands in sharp contrast to the strong claims made for its analytical utility earlier in this century. Then the immigrant letter was proposed as a document, indeed the document, that could provide the basis for the proposed reconstruction of both the sociological and historical disciplines. In The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918-1920), the sociologists William I. Thomas and his collaborator Florian Znaniecki

The immigrant letter

39

utilised letters to and from immigrants in America at the analytical centre of a work that was intended to move American sociology decisively away from its roots in speculative philosophy and ethnocentric social welfare and policy studies toward theorising rooted in empirical research. 6 Voted by social scientists in 1938 the most influential recent work in American sociology, The Polish Peasant is now recognised as providing the foundations for almost all the central nonbehaviourist, phenomenological trends in the discipline - for example, life history, symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, and personality theory.7 Other works, which are less well-known, also employed the immigrant letter as the basis for a new American history. As early as the 1920s, such immigration historians as George Stephenson, Marcus Lee Hansen, and Theodore Blegen were proposing that the immigrant letter be used to create a more inclusive and democratic American history that might replace or broaden the traditional political master narrative of American history, with its elite, Anglo-Saxon, and male perspective. B From Norway, where he had gone to collect immigrant letters (Stephenson and Hansen made similar excursions), Theodore Blegen announced in 1928 the intention to create, as he said, an American history conceived from 'the bottom Up'.9 With its egalitarian, pluralist aims, this work was overwhelmed by the tide of conservative, consensus history of the post-war period, but the letter-based narrative these historians proposed did become a project of the New Social History. . Failure or success, neither the populist nor the positivist orientation was successful in creating a tradition of systematic inquiry that could lead historians to realise the full potential of immigrant personal correspondence as a source. It is my aim here to examine the virtual stillbirth of the letter in these two quite different intellectual traditions. I want to do so in the belief that some of the misapprehensions of the past continue to guide us, but even more because I believe that this type of critique will help us to narrow the boundaries in which we can comprehend the nature, and hence the potential uses, of the vast numbers of immigrant letters as a source in historical analysis. The contemporary social historian who reads The Polish Peasant in Europe and America is immediately impressed by the extraordinary richness of the firstperson materials collected, excerpted, and discussed by Thomas and Znaniecki. These include not only a full-length immigrant autobiography, but a number of letter-series, written over a significant length of time to and from Poland, that allow us a degree of familiarity with the letter-writers that we cannot attain from isolated, individual letters. I have come to share, however, the view of this massive study found among several generations of sociologists: the richness of these materials is never adequately mined. Indeed a vast, puzzling gap seems to exist between the interesting, casual insights on individual letter-series and the highly schematised renderings of their significance in the concluding 'Methodological Note', which the authors conceived as the work's outstanding contribution to sociology.IO Thomas and Znaniecki had warned their readers that, its title aside, The Polish Peasant was not a study of the Polish emigration

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Epistolary Selves

and diaspora, but instead 'an exemplification of a standpoint and method'.l1 The study was intended to provide pathways for the disciplinary development of sociology, as it embarked on systematic analysis of America's emergent urbanindustrial social order. To understand The Polish Peasant's goals, contributions and failures it is necessary to begin with an analysis of the competing and conflicting claims that worked on Thomas, the senior researcher, as he planned and executed the study. In the process, we may understand how, in its passion for positivist social science, The Polish Peasant came to be an imperfect guide in developing the immigrant letter as a source. Thomas had no particular scholarly interest in Polish immigrants. Though he learned to speak Polish and apparently enjoyed taking solitary walks through Chicago'S vast working-class Polish neighbourhoods, he regarded their residents as much with repulsion as attraction. The decision to study the Poles involved a considerable degree of coincidence. Thomas had access to a grant of $50,000 from the Helen Culver Fund for Race Psychology, which he headed, to analyse the resettlement difficulties of the recent immigrants, a subject which would allow him to test ideas he had been formulating for some years.12 The Polish peasantry seemed a perfect test-case - and not simply because there were so many Poles in Chicago. Thomas, and no less Znaniecki, a genteel Polish academic, saw it as backward. (He and Znaniecki compared the Polish peasantry's cultural level to that of 'the savage', in seeking to explain what they took to be the ritualised, static nature of peasant social interactions.) The Poles' experience of modern social change was likely to be jarring, raw, and immediate, and hence to place analytical issues in a particularly sharp focus.'3 The disciplinary questions Thomas brought to the study were on the cutting edge of sociological discourse in the early years of the century. To move the discipline away from the Western philosophical assumption of a universal human nature, from value-based social work, and from mechanistic biologically based schema, such as instinct theory, toward positivism, a new intellectual framework was needed for sociological investigation. Gradually conceived during his years at the University of Chicago, his response proceeded from a rejection of both social determinism that denied individual agency, and conceptions of social change that posited ceaseless, inchoate, norm less movement. Thomas's interest in understanding the experience of modern social change from the perspective of the individual led him to advance the centrality of social psychology. In the concept bf attitude, he sought to establish the mechanism of consciousness by which individuals subjectively oriented themselves to objects, processes, institutions, and people. The attitude guided the individual in social interaction by defining, on the individual's terms, the situation being experienced. How was the researcher to find and examine attitude? Thomas rejected quantifiable survey research as likely to reify attitudes. He instead offered the dynamic, fluid possibilities to be found in individual case-studies based on life histories and other writings and testimonies by individuals. These, he believed, must be treated not as repositories of fact, but as interpretable texts. He also looked to folkloric materials from oral tradition, which gave insight into cultural influences on the individual.'4

The immigrant letter

41

Thomas was also developing a schema for analysing the moral and organisational consequences of modern social change. Here he posited the movement from: (1) an orderly state, characterised by effective mechanisms of social regulation (or, to use his term, 'social control') of the individual such as tradition, communality, and above all family solidarity; to (2) a disordered and demoralised state, characterised by individualism and rational calculation that arose as a consequence of one's involvement in capitalist market relations; and finally to (3) a reorganised state, characterised by new communal and institutional forms that serve to remoralise and regulate the individual. These ideas clearly were relevant to Thomas's anxieties about the emergent society of urban-industrial America, with its disorienting social change and its restive working class. Thomas shared with Progressive intellectuals fears about the social and political consequences of the breakdown, as they perceived it, of noncoercive social controls, located within civil society, which the accelerating pace of social development was thought to have produced. He was interested in the possibilities that existed for the assimilation, as individuals, of the immigrant proletariat, on which he and others believed the stability of American society and the coherence of American culture ultimately would depend. IS Thomas and Znaniecki's conception of the problem of the Polish peasant grew directly out of this schematic representation of modern social change. While they recognised that Poland itself was slowly experiencing modernisation, it was immigration to the more dynamic, urban-industrial United States that prompted the rapid breakdown of the mechanisms of social control in the peasantry.16 At the individual level, the proof could be found in the attitudes revealed in the letters to and from immigrants, which at once gave evidence of a desire to maintain family solidarity (and to sustain familistic relations with non-family members) and of all the powerful threats that increasingly imperilled that solidarity. The authors were impressed by the volume of mail to and from the diaspora generated by the Poles and also by the length of the letters they wrote. On the technical level alone, writing and reading were not easy for the peasant, and both also involved, the authors believed, 'a rather painful effort of reflection and sacrifice of time'. The explanation for these extraordinary exercises of literacy was the desire 'to manifest the persistence of familial solidarity in spite of separation'. The peasant letter was essentially a social document, encoded within which, in form and language as well as content, the authors professed to find the rituals of family solidarity. Yet the letters also revealed strains in the fabric of family life, frequently over money, property, the choice of marriage partners, and separation itself; and these were taken as evidence of the breakdown of social controls located within the family, the ultimate consequences of which were deviance, demoralisation and disorganisation. '7 There has never been consensus among students of the work that the letters and other excerpted first-person materials actually may be read chiefly and consistently to document the central points about social change and social control.'" The problem exists at three levels. The first is that the materials seem constantly to strain against the narrow conceptual boundaries of the

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interpretation, largely because the letters reveal considerable diversity of theme among the writers. To suggest that all of the concerns addressed in the letters property, work, education, raising children, relationships with relatives, loneliness - may be neatly packaged as declining solidarity and increasing disorganisation is both reductionist and a misreading of family dynamics. It was to argue, in effect, that all difficulties and conflicts within the Polish immigrant family were fundamentally the product of a specific socio-historical epoch rather than a part of normal family functioning. The narrowness of the range within which the letters were interpreted was, second, a consequence of the authors' positivist goals, which ultimately involved establishing general laws of social change and individual social behaviour. The schematic of modern social development and individual responses to change was essentially a hypothetical formulation of one such law. To wrest laws (in contrast to a less rigorous notion of patterns) from the variety, confusion, contradiction, and unpredictability of social life requires advancing propositions so general that they lose the capacity to explain anything significant about human phenomena. It is, in fact, to confuse human history with natural history, a confusion that may account for the third level of difficulty - the impoverished historical and anthropological contextualisation of the work's interpretation of the immigrant letters and other first-person material. The Polish peasantry, especially in the American diaspora, is conceived in ways that work to render it without history, culture, and community. This, in turn, has the effect of undermining our ability to understand the Poles on their own terms. The result is that the author's formal disciplinary logic becomes the only standard we have for understanding the letter-writers. Though the Polish context is developed at length, the American is vastly underanalysed and comes to represent, one-dimensionally, an archetype of liberal, capitalist modernity - an urban-industrial world, characterised by, in Stow Person's summary of the formulations of Chicago urban sociology, 'specialised, fragmented, rationalistic, and impersonal relations'." As Eli Zaretsky and others have noted, such a vision leaves no place for the alternative perspectives on the sources of meaning and belonging, such as religion, ethnic community and class organisation, that have been so intensively explored in the various fields of the New Social History. The authors certainly recognised the significance of ethnicity (in their view, as a defensive and transitory group, not individual, reaction to disorganisation), but devoted little effort to analysing the role of the immigrant community in establishing an identity and a culture of daily life that might provide a viable existential patterning of life for individuals. Trade unionism and less formal evidence of class consciousness play no role in the work.'o Thus, abstracted from any context but an archetype of gesellschaft, the immigrants emerge atomised, culture less, and normless. They do not so much shape a narrative for their lives, along with their family, kin and friends, out of their culture and experience, as face, as Dorothy Ross observes, an unending series of individual situations, which must be responded to according to their own inexorable logic. In spite of Thomas's insistence on individual agency, the Poles appear inert. They react, or in the case of the women are seen as sometimes

The immigrant letter

43

proactive in pushing for the revitalisation of familial solidarity. But the immigrants do not create, and are generally helpless to see the forces that are overwhelming them. Evidence of other frameworks defining their situation for them is dismissed as, in effect, incorrect or self-deceptive before the facts of an objective world." Ethnocentrism certainly asserted its influence on the authors: viewing the Polish peasantry as primitive, as both authors did, was not likely to lead to conceiving of it as anything other than the object of social processes. As we have noted, The Polish Peasant would have enormous influence upon the development of qualitative research in sociology. But its legacy for the interpretation of immigrant letters is ambiguous. Having demonstrated, if simply by publishing edited versions of them, the enormous richness of immigrant selfexpression, it did directly inspire some historians' interest in developing these sources. Oscar Handlin used immigrant letters, among other first-person sources, to advance a similar social disorganisation argument in The Uprooted, surely one of the century's most significant works of American history.22 Charlotte Erickson's 1972 work sought, within the collection format, to revive the rigorous analytical evaluation of levers. Though advancing a very different interpretative schema, based on analysis of the socio-economic bases of emigration in various occupational streams, to achieve it, her collection begins with praise for the high standard of scholarship of The Polish PeasantP But Thomas and Znaniecki were unable to realise the potential of the materials they worked with, because they lacked a way of conceptual ising the range of problems their sources, especially the letters, presented, and because they attempted to impose one key to interpretation upon texts that demand multiple frames. From his own positivist perspective, Thomas became disappointed with the results of his encounter with first-person sources, and came to believe that such texts were useless for sociological research unless they could be rendered in quantifiable form.24 Thomas emerges, therefore, as an inspiration for content analysis - a method for determining the pattern of general themes in texts - which has been used in the historical analysis of first-person writing (but very seldom of the immigrant letter)." If we can agree on the categories operationalising it, content analysis is certainly useful for establishing regularities of theme and modes of expression. Once having brought us that far, however, the more difficult work of explaining those patterns remains. While the publication of The Polish Peasant in 1918 doubtless had an influence on those immigration historians of the 1920s who discovered the utility of the immigrant letter, other sources of inspiration, including personal experience, were probably more powerful. Blegen, Stephenson, and Hansen were the children of Swedish, Danish and Norwegian immigrants. 2• They entered the American historical profession to find it overwhelmingly Anglo-American in identity and culture. They encountered an American historiography that, with the exception of the broad suggestions found in the work of Frederick Jackson Turner (the mentor of both Hansen and Stephenson), left little opening for the study of the immigrant world our of which each of them had come. 27 That world, however,

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possessed its own historical consciousness, which prior to the 1920s had been institutionalised mostly in local lodges and churches. But the 1920s and 1930s saw an intensification and professionalisation of this activity at the national level in a number of different initiatives. 28 These Scandinavian-American historians certainly did not have a monopoly on the historiographical impulses revolving around the immigrant letter, but they did create a powerful language, capturing a pluralistic and democratic sensibility, to justify their interest. We find this language, asserting itself here and there with varying intensity throughout the remainder of the century, in the writings of a number of social and literary historians - Alan Conway, H. Arnold Barton, Lloyd Husvedt, William Mulder, Adolph E. Schroeder and Carla Schulz-Geisberg, and Solveig Zempel, for example. 2' For all their analytical rigour, the most impressive of the recent collections of American letters of the past two decades, those of Erickson and of Walter Kamphoefner, Wolfgang Helbich and Ulrike Sommer also appropriate some of this language to justify their interest. 3D It is a populist language, rich in emotional and ideological resonances in American experience, that defends the claim of ordinary people to dignity and inclusion, a claim that the New Social History, and more recently multiculturalism, have endowed with unprecedented disciplinary legitimacy. In fact, this claim has been so legitimised by the New Social History that it has lost its original character as dissent. One now sees the populist language that was a vehicle for its assertion less and less in historical work, because the study of ordinary people no longer requires an emotional or ideological defence. J ' Blegen, Stephenson, and Hansen brought two competing sets of goals to their careers, and the immigrant letter was at the centre of both of them. First, the letter was part of a disciplinary project. They wished to place immigration history on a solid scholarly footing, so that studies of the immigrant were no longer tied either to the same sort of biased social welfare ethnography and policy studies that Thomas and other sociologists rejected, or to the ethnic's own compensatory, defensive fileopietistic history, with its nostalgia, resentments, and, as Blegen said caustically, 'alleged glories'." Each of these three historians saw the immigrant letter as the perfect source facilitating this shift, for it could be argued that, far from being merely a quaint artefact, it had helped to change the fundamental course of history. The immigrant letter, especially the published letter, was said to have been a great spur to mass emigration, which certainly transformed both Europe and America and linked their histories inseparably." The creation of an intellectually defensible immigration history was part of a broader goal: to transform the master narrative of American history, by moving it away from what Blegen called the 'inverted provincialism' of political-constitutional history, with its regional, class, gender, and ethnic biases. '4 This goal took its inspiration ultimately from the democratic aspirations of Frederick Jackson Turner's work, but its interpretative purposes lacked precision, as had Turner's. At times Blegen (and Hansen, less aggressively) seemed to call for a new national synthesis, rooted, not in political, but in social history, which Blegen would also call 'folkcultural history'. This was to be history done from 'the bottom-up', the history

The immigrant letter

45

of ordinary men and, as Blegen insisted, long before Second Wave feminism and the New Social History, women. At other times, however, Blegen suggested that his goal was not a new national history ('the big picture'), but instead a series of 'small pictures' that might better illuminate the large one for lay readers, because the people populating these sketches were quite ordinary people. But he begged the question of how these pictures were to fit together. 35 As the politically charged language of 'inverted provincialism' suggests, disciplinary goals mixed with a populist sensibility that occasionally asserted itself in a type of expression that was partisan, not in a narrow sectarian or electoral sense, but rather an ideological one. The second set of goals was asserting this diffuse, ideological populism, and establishing the claims of those whom Alan Conway called 'the forgotten men and women', who were left out of history, not simply to inclusion, but to the dignity of being given a voice and being taken seriously on their own terms. 3• For some writers, this has been a matter of asserting the claims of individuals and of individuality, and has been accompanied by a critique of historical scholarship and modern society in general for the massification of the individua).37 The deflation of the significance of the individual might seem especially problematic in the case of immigration history to the extent that even mass migration ultimately must logically be conceived, as Blegen and Hansen each insisted, as the product of an individual decision." Other writers may share this view, but seem less interested in the individual as such and are instead caught up in the romance of 'the people' or of 'everyman' and occasionally, too, 'everywoman.' They conceive of the immigrant letter as a specific instance of general emotions and a common psychology.39 Whichever claim is asserted, the collection format, which has thrived under the influence of populist sensibility and discourse, has proven the perfect medium for giving voice to the people, in all their diversity of self-expression and experience. Indeed, with no other documentary source has the collection format proven as frequently employed, which is perhaps as much testimony to these powerful populist motivations as to the sheer difficulty of creating a methodology for systematic investigation of personal correspondence. At times, in advancing this goal of recognition, it seemed as if populist discourse, despite the claims to rigorous, objective standards of its initiators, would succeed in reintroducing fileopietism through the backdoor. Even so scholarly an historian as Hansen could be moved at the inception of an important essay, written for presentation in 1935 at the University of London, to say of the mass migrations from Europe of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, 'If an epic is the tale of a heroic soul struggling valiantly against hostile forces, then fifty million epics were lived between those years'.") But this sensibility did not require conceiving of the immigrant in heroic terms. (Certainly Hansen would not preoccupy himself with the task in his own writings.) George Stephenson provided a more representative argument, which also embodies views that Hansen himself would express. Writing in 1929, Stephenson contended that immigration history already possessed enough particularised monographs and statistical data bases. What was now required was an imaginative scholar, able to 'sound the depths of

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Epistolary Selves

the human soul', and on the bases of the immigrants' own wntmgs create 'a masterpiece of historical synthesis.' But he cautioned that those depths yielded great complexity, as one discovered in them 'the noblest as well as the basest motives that play on the human heart'.41 From an analytical perspective, however, this complexity was a source of strength. It was not merely that one found plausible, three-dimensional human beings in the immigrant letter. Instead, as historians from Stephenson to Kamphoefner, Helbich and Sommer have contended, the simplicity and guilelessness that made what was bad as well as good, in both people and in the conditions in which they lived, appear right on the surface of the text are evidence of a purity of feeling, and indeed perhaps of insight, that a more educated and sophisticated commentator may not have possessed:2 Such naivety, moreover, produces sympathy in the reader and in doing so works to enhance one of the benefits to the researcher and to the lay reader advanced by many of the populist inclined advocates of the letter as a source: the letter does not allow us to distance ourselves in the way that more impersonal materials do, but forces us emotionally to live in the writer's moment and on his or her terms. This experience, it is claimed, also has benefit for the historical discipline in genera!.·3 For Lloyd Husvedt, writing in 1984, the immigrant letter represents a healthy antidote for the pervasive structuralism that denies 'the human dimension'. 'Historical writing must by necessity', he contended: be objective, concern itself with statistics, and find a fundamental frame of reference, be it political, economic, or social. Hence much history is written with an emotional remoteness that fails to capture the deeply human aspects of some of the sources cited in the footnotes ... Diaries, journals, and letters are the human fires that smoulder underneath the footnotes. 44

In such a critique we hear echoes not only of Stephenson's dissent about the direction of immigration studies six decades earlier, but also of the contemporary indictment of professional scholarship for its inaccessibility to the general reader and its lack of engagement with the concerns of that reader's immediate, existential world.4I Such strong, far-reaching advocacy has not excluded recognition of the limits of the usefulness of the immigrant letter. Perhaps because until recent decades resistance was anticipated from within the historical profession to the claims of social history, the populist orientation has always discussed openly and at some length the general problems (authenticity, accuracy and representativeness) that we find in the immigrant letter. These have been recognised as not unlike the difficulties we must variously confront with all of the materials we use, and they have been dealt with, expertly in the case of the Erickson, and Kamphoefner, Helbich, and Sommer collections, through acknowledgement, care in evaluation, consistent editing, and elaborate general contextualisation.·· But these are not the difficulties that loom largest in populist discourse. Nor are they, in consequence, the difficulties that allow us to identify the problems and contradictions in the populist stance that may help us to move beyond it in the systematic development of the immigrant letter.

The immigrant letter

47

The assertion of the claim to dignity and inclusion has not necessarily brought with it the belief that everything about ordinary people is of value to the historian. One might assert the claims of ordinary people, and also be embarrassed by their commonness and their difficulties in expressing themselves. The letter is especially problematic from this perspective, because it was composed by people who often wrote poorly (by the standards of their time, not to mention our own), and because it routinely contains a great amount of mundane personal information regarding health, deaths, births, prices, wages, etc., as well as personal inquiries and formulaic expressions of endearment, blessing, congratulations, sympathy, and condolence. In consequence, a persistent tension in the defence of the immigrant letter has been the effort, on the one hand, to establish its value to the literary canon, as a sort of writing, and on the other hand, to come up with counter-canonical arguments about the necessity of seeing it on its own terms. To those like Erickson, who claims dismissively that of the hundreds of letters in her collection some showed wit and most told good stories, but 'few ... may be said to have literary merit', the Mormon literary historian William Mulder had formulated a response, in which we see these unresolved strains. 47 Mulder at first identified the immigrant letter as 'a literature of the unlettered ... the simple utterance of plain people'. 'If not literature itself', he continued, however, with an anxious nod to the authority of the literary canon, 'it represents the beginnings of literature, the stuff out of which the My Antonias are eventually made'.4' Social historians have been equally perplexed by the status of the letter in the light of the canons of historical scholarship. The letter could be historical and yet paradoxically not part of history. If by history one meant the grand narrative of political-constitutional history, then the commonplaces recorded in immigrant letters seemed outright trivial. Writing in 1975 in the preface to his collection of Swedish letters, Arnold Barton acknowledged that 'most immigrant letters have in fact little of interest to relate. They are often filled with cliches, concerned with mundane matters and local news from the old home parish. Many consist largely of religious platitudes, hearsay information, accounts culled from the newspapers, comments on the weather, reports on wages and the prices of commodities, news of family members, and greeting to long lists of relatives and friends at home'.49 While Blegen was insisting that the canon must be transformed to accommodate just such mundane details of daily life, other historians were justifying the use of the immigrant letter by contending that it did indeed shed light on history, i.e., the objective narrative of the real past. The problem was usually resolved by establishing its link to mass migration, but up to the period of the growing authority of the New Social History, there was still a tentativeness about the letter as history. Thus, in 1969, E. R. R. Green, the historian of Ulster Protestant immigration to North America, could spend pages describing convincingly what the immigrant letter may reveal to us about the ordinary individual's experience of emigration, but in his conclusion nonetheless draw back from accepting this as history. The immigrant letter, Green stated, was a source for 'social analysis' mostly, but sometimes had value to history when it contained information about politics or the Civil War.1O

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Such views now seem archaic - and transparently wrongheaded. Most historians today accept daily life and ordinary people as at or very near the centre of historical investigation. We find uses in our efforts to study family, friendship, love, travel, popular religion, or consumer habits and aspirations for the detail that in the past was dismissed as trivial. Moreover, that mostly unschooled artisans, farmers and peasants could get all of this sort of detail into a letter in a form and language that was comprehensible to their readers, and simultaneously often served such crucial larger functions as providing instructions about emigration itself, was no small accomplishment. Indeed it sheds another light on the presumed lack of literary value in the immigrant letter. Commenting on Erickson's statement that her collection's immigrant letters have no literary merit, the historian of Irish-Australian letters David Fitzpatrick argues convincingly that the letter's effectiveness is best judged on utilitarian, not aesthetic, grounds. 'Within their own established forms', he contends, 'many achieve "merit" in the sense of communicating facts, thoughts, or desires in a controlled manner'. 51 As Fitzpatrick himself demonstrates, however, in his own massive collection and sensitive analysis of Irish-Australian letters, immigrant letters sometimes give compelling evidence of depths of feelings and self-consciousness of mental states and emotions in a poetic language that may well be appreciated on just such aesthetic grounds. In such letters, often composed by unschooled and sometimes barely literate people, one feels the force of an extraordinary creativity that strains against its technical deficiencies. At times, too, we find intruding unexpectedly, even in crudely written letters, the language of preaching, the Bible, or political oratory. Such 'intrusions' suggest not only the complex influences at work on these writers' imaginations, but also the difficulties of claims that seek to locate pure and authentic, unmediated experience and emotion in these materials. 52 Yet these doubts have had profound impact on the way the immigrant letter has been presented and analysed. The result has been heavy editing of language, frequent and in some cases substantial deletions of content, and, in consequence, underanalysis and a relatively skeletal presentation. Some historians have reacted by showing a preference for letters written for publication that were either composed by relatively proficient writers or were heavily edited by those who printed them. In the 'Preface' to his collection of Welsh letters Conway explained that not only did published letters have a wider influence in influencing decisions to emigrate, but they have 'the added advantage of being free from much of the personal enquiries, condolences, salutations, and endearments which the editors very judiciously cut out and which form a prominent part of manuscript letters.' But Conway did not stop there, even with published letters, further deleting 'material which has no bearing on the United States, such as theological arguments, reminiscences about the old days in Wales, and flowery passages of those who seem unable to refrain from demonstrating their bardic potentialities'. Conway has not been alone in picking and choosing relevancies. 53 As Fitzpatrick has observed moreover, most collections frequently begin by noting, not what they include, but instead the sorts of systematic deletions the editors have chosen

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49

to make. 54 Erickson omits 'references to letters, health, and messages from other immigrants and to other persons, once the network of friends and acquaintances of the immigrant has been established in early letters', and cuts down ~most accounts of ocean voyages, most lists of American prices and some other rather shallow descriptions'.5S Barton deletes 'hearsay information, impersonal descriptions of places or events, and purely family matters'.56 And what is true for content is most certainly true for form, language and grammar. Nearly all collections also begin with explanations of the substantial changes required to make letters readable, whether written originally by English or non-English speakers, including paragraphisation, punctuation, capitalisation, deletions of redundancies, etc. 57 In evaluating this editorial work, it is necessary at the outset to note that presenting letters for publication and analysing them systematically around questions, for example, of content, style, and individual psychology are two different enterprises. Editors of anthologies have practical difficulties balancing off the space within which publishers will allow them to work and preserving the integrity of the materials with which they are working. What seems clearly to be trivial is an easy target for deletion by a responsible editor. Surely, too, it is responsible to make letters comprehensible to the reader, so language and form need to be changed. Translation compounds such editorial challenges. Though a homogenised, de-individualised 'representative' voice that belongs to no one in particular does come to overwhelm some collections, most editors are quite conscious of the burden they carry in changing historical documents. The point, however, is that the more we consider the language, form and content of the immigrant letter a problem that we must correct, rather than an opportunity to extend and to deepen our understanding, the further we drift away from being able to use it to know the creativity, mental worlds and experiences of the letter-writers. To the extent that collections have been the dominant medium for advancing the letter throughout this century, in contrast to the analytical mode of Thomas and Znaniecki, editors' choices ultimately have been the dominant means by which we have come to understand the immigrant letter. Those choices have been mostly to preserve the feel of the past and invite us to share the immediate experience of the writer, without confronting the psychological or cognitive difficulties in the way of accepting that invitation, or to explore the single issue, mostly conceived in socio-economic terms, of why people emigrated. One has only to compare Thomas and Znaniecki's effort to make sense of 'personal enquiries, condolences, salutations, and endearments' with the method of most editors: Thomas and Znaniecki, it is true, did delete much of that material for publication. Far from dismissing it as trivial, however, the predictable appearance of such sentiments was integral, in their minds, to the conception of the central purpose (the maintenance of family solidarity) of the immigrant letter. They saw expression of these sentiments, along with inquiries about the health and welfare of, and religious blessings invoked upon, particular named individuals, as 'bows', symbolic gestures of respect and bonding. They went further to link the formulaic language of these verbal rituals to their social

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function, securing family solidarity. 58 One may dismiss their particular interpretation as too limited or simply as incorrect. But the goal of going beyond the reprinting of the immigrant letter and of targeted, limited issues to explore its inner reaches does seem worthwhile. Ample subjects for investigation, in fact, may be found in the lists of deletions. Beyond that, however, lies a larger challenge: the development of a model of self that integrates the agency of individuals in advancing the project of personal transformation; a methodology for analysing the ordinary language and forms of the personal letter; and an understanding of the life-world and existential challenges of immigrants that will enable us to make sense of their writings. Notes A version of this essay was published in the Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 16 (1997), pp. 3-34. I gratefully acknowledge the permission to reprint parts of the text that appeared in that journal. I would also like to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Elliott Barkan, Liana Viardi, Frank Munger and Virginia Yans for their assistance in helping me to clarify my argument and to correct awkward formulations. 1.

2.

3.

4.

Immigrants wrote other types of personal letters, too, principally to other immigrants and Americans in the US. Whether because of the vagaries of the processes of saving and collection, or because fewer such letters were written, few of them have survived. More importantly, these letters lack the essential element of the homeland tie, especially with parents, which often generated sustained communication over many years. In this essay, my interest is in the classic 'America Letter' written to family and friends in the homeland. The range of immigrant correspondence and correspondence pertaining to international migration is briefly discussed in H. Arnold Barton (1982), 'Neglected Types of Correspondence as Sources for Swedish-American History', Swedish-American Historical Quarterly, vol. 33:2, pp. 76-78. On the psychological and material functions of personal correspondence for the ordinary letter-writing immigrant in the historical past, see, Eric Richards (1974), 'A Voice from Below: Benjamin Boyce in South Australia, 1839-1846', Labour History (Australia), vol. 27, p. 65; Charlotte Erickson (1972), Invisible Immigrants: The Adaptation of English and Scottish Immigrants in Nineteenth Century Amerzca, University of Miami Press, Coral Gables, pp. 5-7; H. Arnold Barton (1979b), 'Two Versions of The Immigrant Experience', Swedish Pioneer Historical Quarterly, vol. 30:3, pp. 159-161; and Niels Peter Stilling (1992), 'The Significance of The Private Letter in Immigration History', The Bridge, vol. 15:1, pp. 35-50. Samuel L. Baily and Franco Ramella (1988) (eds), One Family, Two Worlds: An Italian Family's Correspondence across The Atlantic, 1901-1922, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, p. 3; Solveig Zempel (1991) (ed.), In Their Own Words: Letters from Norwegian Immigrants, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp. x-xiv; H. Arnold Barton (1993), 'As They Tell It Themselves: The Testimony of Immigrant Letters', in Nordics in America, Odd S. Lovell (ed.), Norwegian-American Historical Association, Northfield, pp. 138-139; and Stilling (1992), p. 38. Anthony Giddens (1984), The Constitution of Society: Outline of The Theory of Structuration, University of California Press, Berkeley; Pierre Bourdieu (1977), Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; and Pauline Marie Rosenau (1992), Post-Modernism and the Social Sciences: Insights, Inroads, and Intrusions, Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp. 82-91. Two outstanding recent examples are Kerby Miller (1985), Emigrants and Exiles:

The immigrant letter

5.

6.

7.

8.

9. 10.

11. 12. 13. 14.

51

Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America, Oxford University Press, New York; and Stephen Fender (1992), Sea Changes: British Emigration and American Literature, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Erickson (1972); Baily and Ramella (1988); Zempel (1991); Walter D. Kamphoefner, Wolfgang Helbich, and Ulrike Sommer (eds) (1991), News from the Land of Freedom: German Immigrants Write Home, Cornell University Press, Ithaca; Leo Schelbert and Hedwig Rapport (eds) (1977), Alles ist Ganz Anders: Auswandererschicksale in Briefen aus Zwei Jahrhunderten, Walter-Verlag, Freiburg: H. Arnold Barton (ed.) (1975), Letters from The Promised Land: Swedes in America, 1840-1914, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis; Adolf E. Schroeder and Carla Schulz-Geisberg (eds) (1988), Hold Dear, As Always: Jette, A German Immigrant Life in Letters, University of Missouri Press, Columbia. William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki (1918-20), The Polish Peasant in Europe and America,S vols. (vols. I and II: University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1918; vols. III, IV and V: Badger Press, Boston, 1920). Statements of the work's decisive general contribution may be found in Dorothy Ross (1991), The Origins of American Social Science, Cambridge University Press, New York, p. 367; Lester R. Kurtz (1984), Evaluating Chicago Sociology: A Guide to the Literature with an Annotated Bibliography, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 12, 84; and Norbert Wiley (1986), 'Early American Sociology and the Polish Peasant', Sociological Theory, vol. 4, pp. 20-34. Eli Zaretsky (ed.) (1984), 'Editor's Introduction', The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, p. 3; Ross (1991), p. 435. See also Herbert Blumer (1939), Critiques of Research in The Social Sciences, vol. 1: An Appraisal of Thomas and Znaniecki's 'The Polish Peasant in Europe and America', Social Science Research Council, New York, for the proceedings of the conference called by the Social Science Research Council to appraise the work after the vote was taken. Marcus Lee Hansen (1927), 'The History of American Immigration as a Field for Research', American Historical Review, vol. 32, pp. 500-518; George Stephenson (ed.) (1921), 'Typical "America Letters''', Swedish Historical Society Yearbook, vol. 7, p. 52; George Stephenson (1926), 'The Background of the Beginnings of Swedish Immigration', American Historical Review, vol. 31, pp. 708-731; George Stephenson (1929), 'When America Was the Land of Canaan', Minnesota History, vol. 10, pp. 237-260; Theodore Blegen (1931), 'Early America Letters', in Norwegian Migration to America, 1825-1860, Theodore Blegen (ed.), Norwegian-American Historical Association, Northfield, Minnesota, pp. 196-213, and Theodore Blegen (1928), 'The "America Letters"', Avhandlinger utgitt av Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi i Oslo, vol. II. Historisk-Filosofisk Klasse, no. 5, pp.1-25. Blegen (1928); and Theodore Blegen (1955), Land of Their Choice: The Immigrants Write Home, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, p. vi. Blumer (1939); Kurtz (1984), pp. 85-87; Robert E.L. Faris (1970), Chicago Sociology 1920-1932, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 18; and Wiley (1986), pp. 35-36. This was largely the point of the Blumer critique, which was written for, and served as the central point of discussion at, the 1938 conference convened by the Social Science Research Council to discuss The Polish Peasant. Thomas and Znaniecki, quoted in Faris (1970), p. 17. Ross (1991), pp. 351, 356; Faris (1970), pp. 13-18; and Wiley (1986), pp. 22-23, 29-30. Thomas and Znaniecki (1918), vol. I, p. 307; Wiley (1986), p. 35; Ross (1991), p. 352; and Helena Znaniecki Lopeta (1976), Polish Americans: Status Competition in an Ethnic Community, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, p. 7l. Thomas and Znaniecki (1918), vol. I, pp. 13,42-45,62, vol. II, pp. 1832-1834; Ross (1991), pp. 347-353; Wiley (1986), pp. 29-31; Faris (1970), pp. 13-19; Kurtz

52

15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

21. 22.

23. 24.

25.

26.

27.

Epistolary Selves (1984), pp. 31-34; and Donald Fleming (1967), 'Attitude: History of a Concept', Perspectives in American History, vol. 1, pp. 287-365. Thomas and Znaniecki (1918), vol. I, pp. 31-95, vol. II, pp. 1469, 1476; Stow Persons (1987), Ethnic Studies at Chicago, 1905-1945, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, pp. 46-49; Kurtz (1984), pp. 58-59; and Ross (1991), pp. 35-47. Thomas and Znaniecki (1918), vol. I, pp. 303-307, vol. II, pp. 1134-1170, 1202-1203,1483-1503,1647-1653,1703-1707,1748-1752. Thomas and Znaniecki (1918), vol. I, pp. 303-307. (Quotation from p. 303.) Ross (1991), pp. 355-367; Blumer (1939); and Faris (1970), p. 18. Persons (1987), p. 36. Thomas and Znaniecki (1918), vol. II, pp. 1511-1644, 1649-1650, 1650-1651, 1776-1778,1825-1827; Zaretsky (1984), pp. 6,21; Ross (1991), pp. 355-356. A recent work analysing the Chicago Polish immigrant populations that Thomas and Znaniecki studied, which systematically contests the relevance of the disorganisation model, is Dominic Pacyga (1991), Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago: Workers on the South Side, 1880-1920, Ohio State University Press, Columbus. Ross (1991), pp. 355-356,435; Zaretsky (1984), pp. 20-22, 44, 46-47. David J. Rothman (1982), 'The Uprooted: Thirty Years Later', Reviews in American History, vol. 10, pp. 311-319; Zaretsky (1984), pp. 31-33. Also see Oscar Handlin (1951), The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People, Little, Brown and Co., Boston. Erickson (1972), pp. 2, 7-8. 'Comment by W.I. Thomas', in Blumer (1939), pp. 82-87. See also Evan A. Thomas (1978), 'Herbert Blumer's Critique of The Polish Peasant: A Post-Mortem on the Life History Approach in Sociology', Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences, vol. 14, pp. 124-131; and Stephen O. Murray, 'W.l. Thomas, Behaviourist Ethnologist', Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, vol. 24, pp. 381-391. The 'Bochum Project', which resulted in the publication of Kamphoefner, Helbich and Sommer (1991), has served as the inspiration for some work by Wolfgang Helbich that utilises a modified version of content analysis, in which the incidence of certain broad themes in immigrant letters is the basis for generating arithmetical calculations that document assimilation and cultural values. See Wolfgang Helbich (1985), 'Letters from America: Documents of the Adjustment Process of German Immigrants in the United States,' Anglistik und Englischunterricht, vol. 26:2, pp. 201-215; and Wolfgang Helbich (1987), 'The Letters they Sent Home: the Subjective Perspective of German Immigrants in the Nineteenth Century,' Yearbook of German-American Studies, vol. 22, pp. 1-20. O. Fritiof Ander (1964), 'Four Historians of Immigration', in In the Trek of the Immigrants: Essays Presented to Carl WIttke, o. Fritiof Ander (ed.), Augustana College Library, Rock Island, pp. 17-32; Moses Rischin (1979), 'Marcus Lee Hansen: America's First Transethnic Historian,' in Uprooted Americans: Essays to Honor Oscar Handlin, Richard Bushman (ed.), Little, Brown and Co., Boston, pp. 319-347. Marcus Lee Hansen's father was Danish and his mother was Norwegian. Frederick Jackson Turner (1920), The Frontier In American History, Henry Holt and Co., New York, pp. 277-278, 280, 320-321; Edward Saveth (1948), American H,storians and the European Immigrants, Russell and Russell, New York, pp, 122-137; Ander (1964), p. 20 passim; Blegen (1955), pp. ix-x, 61; Marcus Lee Hansen (1940a), The Atlantic Migration, 1607-1860, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass, pp. 13-17, 63-65, 165-166; Marcus Lee Hansen (1940b), 'Immigration and Expansion,' in The Immigrants in American History, Arthur M. Schlesinger (ed.), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp. 66-69; and Thomas Archdeacon (1990), 'Immigrant Assimilation and Hansen's Hypothesis,' in American Immigrants and their Generations: Studies and Commentaries on the Hansen Thesis after Fifty Years, Peter Kivisto and Dag Blanck (eds), University of Illinois Press, Urbana, pp. 46-47.

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53

28. For example, the Norwegian-American Historical Association was founded in 1925, the year of the Norse-American Centennial. In 1926, with the three hundredth anniversary of New Sweden but twelve years away, the American Swedish Historical Foundation was founded and plans were launched to create a Swedish American historical museum. Four years later, the Augustana Historical Society, affiliated with the Lutheran Church, was formed to encourage research on Swedish Americans. (See April Schultz (1991), "'The Pride of Race Had Been Touched": The 1925 NorseAmerican Immigration Centennial and Ethnic Identity', Journal of American History, vol. 77, pp. 1265-1295; Lloyd Husvedt (1971), 'The NAHA and Its Antecedents', Americana Norvegica, vol. 3, Harald S. Naess and Sigmund Skard (eds), pp. 294-306; H. Arnold Barton, 'Marcus Lee Hansen and Swedish Americans', in Kivisto and Blanck (1990), pp. 113-125; Theodore Blegen (1955), p. vi; and H. Arnold Barton (1995), 'Where Have the Scandinavian-Americanists Been?', Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 15, pp. 46-47.) 29. Barton (1975), pp. 4, 6; Barton (1993), p. 143; Alan Conway (ed.) (1961), The Welsh in America: Letters from the Immigrants, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, p. 13; Husvedt (1984), 'Immigrant Letters and Diaries', in The Prairie Frontier, Sandra Looney, Arthur R. Huseboe, and Geoffrey Hunt (eds), Nordland Heritage Foundation, Sioux Falls, pp. 38-51; William Mulder (1954), 'Through Immigrant Eyes: Utah History at the Grass Roots', Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 22, pp. 41-55; Schroeder and Schulz-Geisberg (1988), p. 16; and Zempel (1991), pp. xii-xiv passim. 30. Erickson (1972), p. 1; Kamphoefner, Helbich, and Sommer (1991), pp. viii, 30. 31. I agree with Michael Kazin's assertion that American populism is most accurately conceived, not as a political movement, programme or ideology, but instead as an 'impulse' or sensibility that has fashioned a language to express support for the claims of ordinary folk against powerful elites and interests. As such, populism may be found at all points of the political spectrum. It should be clear, therefore, that I am not making any claims about the political, ideological or electoral preferences of any of the historians I here describe as 'populist'. See Michael Kazin (1995), The Populist Persuasion: An American History, Basic Books, New York. 32. See note 7; and Theodore Blegen (1947), Grass Roots History, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, p. 14. 33. Blegen (1955), pp. v-vii, 3; Conway (1961), pp. v, 4; Husvedt (1984), pp. 38-39; Erickson (1972), p. 3; Hansen (1940a), pp. 81-82, 151-154, 156-158 passim; Arnold Schier (1958), Ireland and the Irish Emigration, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp. 40,134,149-151; Ingrid Semmingsen (1961), 'Emigration and the Image of America in Europe', in Immigration and American History: Essays in Honor of Theodore C. Blegen, Henry Steele Commager (ed.), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp. 26-37,47-48; and Merle E. Curti and Kendall Birr (1950), 'The Immigrant and the American Image in Europe, 1860-1914', Mississippi Valley Historical Review, vol. 37, 212-214, 216-218. The point is occasionally made in contemporary historical writing, too. See Stilling (1992), p. 35. 34. Blegen (1947), pp. 9-13. 35. Blegen (1947), pp. 18-20,65-67,144; Blegen (1955), pp. ix-x; and Hansen (1940b), 'Migrations Old and New', pp. 12-13. On the ambiguity of Turner's historiographical legacy, including his views on American immigration history, see Richard Hofstadter (1968), The Progressive Historians: Turner, Beard, and Parrington, Random House, New York, pp. 118-164. 36. Conway (1961), p. vii. 37. Blegen (1955), p. 7; Mulder (1954), p. 52; and Zempel (1991), p. x. 38. Hansen (1940a), pp. 6, 11; Hansen (1940b), 'Migrations Old and New' and 'The Odyssey of the Emigrants', pp. 3-29, 30-52; Blegen (1955), pp. 7, 61, and, for a recent iteration, Stilling (1992), p. 36.

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39. Conway (1961), pp. vii, 7,13; Schroeder and Schulz-Geisberg (1988), p. 16. Blegen used both languages of reference, speaking of the claims of the individual and of the masses. See, for example, Blegen (1947), pp. 18-20. 40. Hansen (1940b), 'Migrations Old and New', p. 4. 41. Stephenson (1929), p. 237; and Hansen (1940b), 'Migrations Old and New', p. 4. 42. Stephenson (1929) p. 245; and Kamphoefner, Helbich, and Sommer (1991), p. 30. 43. Blegen (1955); Mulder (1954), pp. 45-52; and Zempel (1991), p. xii. 44. Husvedt (1984), pp. 38, 51. See also, Barton (1993), pp. 143, 144-145 (see note 2); and Rudolph Jensen, 'The Story Told in Denmark Leners: Correspondence from the Old County', in Lowell (1993), p. 199. 45. Blegen (1947), pp. 7-14, and Blegen (1955), p. xii; Stephenson (1929), p. 237. These contemporary critiques, however, come from a number of intellectual and ideological directions. See, for example, Gertrude Himmelfarb (1987), The New History and the Old: Critical Essays and Reappraisals, Harvard University Press, Cambridge; Bryan D. Palmer (1990), Descent into Discourse: The Reification of Language and the Writing of Social History, Temple University Press, Philadelphia; Casey Blake and Christopher Phelps (1994), 'History as Social Criticism: Conversations with Christopher Lasch', Journal of American History, vol. 80, pp. 1310-1332. 46. Erickson (1972), pp. 1-10, 13-78,229-262, 393-407 (passim for the introductions to individual letter series); and Kamphoefner, Helbich, and Sommer (1991), pp. vii-ix, 1-50, 51-61, 287-298, 523-531, 605-708 (passim for the introductions and afterward remarks about individual letter-series). 47. Erickson (1972), p. 1. 48. Mulder (1954), pp. 45-46. 49. Barton (1975) pp. 4-5. In his multigenerational history of his family Barton himself makes effective use of just such seemingly trivial matters, which routinely arise in personal correspondence. They serve as the basis for some astute judgements about personal relationships and individual motivations. See H. Arnold Barton (1979a) The Search for Ancestors: A Swedish-American Family Saga, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, pp. 105-109. 50. Edward R.R. Green (1969), 'Ulster Emigrant Letters', in Essays in Scotch-Irish History, Edward R.R. Green (ed.), Humanities Press, New York, pp. 93-99, 101. 51. David Fitzpatrick (1989), 'Oceans of Consolation: Letters and Irish Immigration to Australia', in Visible Sources for the History of Australian Immigration, Eric Richards, Richard Reid and David Fitzpatrick (eds), Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, p. 52. Two examples of unusual praise for the ways of self-expression found in immigrant letters are Arnold Schier (1958), pp. 23-24; and Marsha Penti-Vidutis, The America Letter: Immigrant Accounts of Life Overseas', Finnish Americana, vol. 1:1, pp. 37-38. Neither author, however, goes beyond brief comments to more extensive analysis. 52. David Fitzpatrick (1994), Oceans of Consolation: Personal Accounts of Irish Migration to Australia, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 19-22. (The poetic tirle of Fitzpatrick's work is taken directly from one such evocative letter published in the volume.) On the problems of expeT/ence and authenticity, see, for example, Joan W. Scott (1991), The Evidence of Experience', Critical Enquiry, vol. 17, pp. 773-797; and Orm 0verland (1996), 'Learning to Read Immigrant Letters: Reflections toward a Textual Theory', in Norwegian-American Essays, 0yuind Gulliksen, David C. Mauk, and Dina Tolfsby (eds), Norwegian-American Historical Association and the Norwegian Emigrant Museum, Oslo, pp. 207-225. 53. Conway (1961), pp. V-VI. 54. Fitzpatrick (1994), pp. 48-49. 55. Erickson (1972), p. 9. 56. Barton (1975), p. 5.

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57. Nowhere have the multiple challenges posed by language been taken up more responsibly and systematically than in Kamphoefner, Helbich, and Sommer (1991). In addition to offering a relatively detailed discussion of general editorial policy regarding translation, usage, grammar, and orthography, every individual letter-series begins with a short, but skilful, analytical discussion of these matters as they pertain to the individual letter-writer. These discussions frequently comment on Englishlanguage and American cultural influences on the letter-writer, and thus offer a significant comment on individual acculturation and ethnicisation. The collection format, however, does not provide the opportunity for the editors to analyse these issues on a general level. In contrast, most editors deal very briefly (a paragraph or two) and matter-of-factly with translation issues, presenting an explanation of the tone they sought to achieve. 58. Thomas and Znaniecki (1918), vol. I, pp. 303-307.

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Part II Letters, the family and public life

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4 Formative ventures: eighteenthcentury commercial letters and the articulation of experience Toby L. Ditz

These reflections on eighteenth-century correspondence as a form of historical evidence have taken shape as part of a larger inquiry that revisits mercantile culture in early America. That inquiry highlights the subjective experience of commerce on the part of men who were themselves market makers, examining commercial culture and identity formation in a specific market milieu: eighteenth-century Philadelphia. My approach is influenced by scholarship loosely affiliated under the rubric 'new cultural studies' and, in particular, new historicist studies of early modern Europe. The cumulative effect of this work is to suggest that a crisis of representation accompanied market development: the experience of market life and its dislocations involved a difficult transformation of ways of imagining the self.' A major motif of my larger study is that the merchants who operated at the fringes of the British Atlantic empire experienced just such a crisis. Their copious correspondence and other writing displays a virtual obsession with identity and reputation. It became clear as the study took shape that the correspondence through which merchants conducted much of their business was a key cultural site for the construction of representations of self and its relations with others. Rather than a mere evidentiary record to be plumbed for purposes extrinsic to it, the correspondence became a subject in its own right, a key part of the narrative of male subjectivity and the formation of market culture. As historical figures, the merchant correspondents also came into their own, not only as quintessential men of affairs, but as writers. This chapter focuses on three interrelated aspects of mercantile letters: the letters as a site for the articulation of experience, the various print genres which have bearing on the form and style of mercantile correspondence, and, finally, the letters as a quasi-public form of communication. Some of my observations hold good for other kinds of eighteenth-century correspondence, but it is important to note the larger inquiry centres on Philadelphia's largest wholesale merchants and on their families and associates. All traded in the Caribbean or overseas in the

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British Isles and southern Europe on a more or less full time basis - often over a period of decades. Most were among the wealthiest of Philadelphia's merchants and could count themselves members of Philadelphia's larger urban elite, affiliated as they were by kinship and a common style of life with a larger network of men composed also of lawyers and gentlemen farmers, and holders of high provincial and municipal political office. Thus, their correspondence registers not only their ongoing efforts to define an occupational identity, but also the dynamics of elite identity formation as wel!.' By the same token, Philadelphia's population of wholesalers was heterogeneous. It is true that mercantile wealth became more concentrated as measured both by the capital resources of mercantile firms and the net worth of individual merchants: larger firms and their partners came to dominate the scene in the later eighteenth century. But the wholesale trade remained accessible at the bottom to former shopkeepers and artisans partly because of the wide variety of markets served by Philadelphia, the absence of monopolies, and comparatively low capital entry requirements for those engaged in smaller ventures. Thus, with respect to patterns of residence, expenditures on household furnishings, and other aspects of style of life, many traders could not be readily distinguished from Philadelphia's most prosperous artisans and shopkeepers. 3 This heterogeneity meant that the merchants examined here regularly mingled in the course of their daily business activities with other traders who were at ease in the social and cultural world of mechanics and shopkeepers. That world reappears, as it were, incorporated into elite merchants' writing, particularly in their articulation of an emerging discourse of occupational identity. That articulation owed much to the moralising vocabulary and anti-aristocratic rhetoric of England's and Anglo-America's vast and variegated middling sort for whom 'frugality and industry' was so redolent a practical ethical guide. Simultaneously, however, the wealthy merchants' overseas business connections, and their elite familial and political affiliations, oriented them towards cosmopolitan mores and manners. One consequence was that the writing of any individual merchant might well oscillate between, or combine, styles of expression in ways that produced a curious bricolage effect. His social circle, and even his family, was also apt to harbour both its plain-style enthusiasts and arch advocates of politesse and refinement.' Philadelphia's eighteenth-century merchants, like other provincial merchants operating at the fringes of the expanding British Atlantic empire, also faced the risks associated with the creation and expansion of new markets without a welldeveloped infrastructure to fall back on. There were, for example, no commercial banks in the British mainland colonies to supply short-term credit to businesses and, apart from the credit supplied by English firms seeking colonial importers, the ebb and flow of credit upon which the merchants' business depended derived primarily from personal ties and recommendations."' Such perso~al credit networks were both fundamental to trade in the eighteenth century and very precarious: one person's failure or delay of payment jeopardised the assets of kinfolk, trans-Atlantic correspondents and their creditors and sureties. Or again,

Commercial letters

61

elements of what would only later become a fully coherent law of limited liability were beginning to emerge in the eighteenth century, but family property was still at risk. Although arbitration and certain bankruptcy procedures, if invoked in a timely way, could prevent the seizure of personal assets, a miscalculation could lead to massive incursions on family property to payoff business creditors. 6 The very unpredictability of markets and the lack of institutional guarantees meant that the intensive cultivation of personal ties was an absolute requirement of doing business. Merchants relied heavily on their kinsmen and women and on friends, both in the colonies and in England, not only for capital and credit, but for the recruiting of customers, partners, and apprentices. Of direct relevance here, mercantile correspondence circulated information and instructions among men who were highly dependent upon one another's money, services, and good opinion for the successful conduct of their businesses.'

Mercantile letters and the articulation of experience There are a great many benefits, even in the case of such prosaic sources as mercantile correspondence, to taking seriously as a protocol of research and interpretation the perspective that holds that written sources may be treated and, indeed, ought to be treated - as texts rather than documents. Like other written traces of the past, merchants' letters do not simply record or describe their surrounding economic and social reality (though they may well purport to do so); they 'inscribe' and 'rework' it.' But the methodological correlates of treating written data as texts are most often applied to formal literary genres, such as treatises, plays, and novels, and, more generally, to writings intended for publication. Although there are risks associated with down playing distinctions between so-called writerly and less writerly texts; and between published and unpublished writing, they are, in my view, risks worth taking. The techniques of reading that we conventionally apply to the former yield considerable fruit when applied to the less self-consciously artful archival sources often used by historians. Many historians have, nonetheless, objected that when the techniques of literary criticism are applied to their evidence, the result is an overly aestheticised view of context and experience. In light of this objection, it should be emphasised that the new historicist tendency to break down sharp distinctions between text and context is a two-fold impulse. Although it does suggest that contexts are textlike, in that their salience and meaning are established through language, it also emphasises, even more, that texts are constituted by social and cultural processes of production and reception, by dialogue and contest. 10 In this regard, mercantile letters are an especially interesting site for applying the new historicist insight that all writing ought to be treated as a discursive practice. These letters invite us to examine what many other texts choose to disguise: the matrix of social relations within which the writing takes place. First, as a form of ongoing, written dialogue, letters generally solicit our notice of the

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interaction between writers and readers. Second, mercantile letters, in particular, call our attention to the insertion of writers and readers within particular social milieus. This is partly because many of the letters had immediate pragmatic goals; the writers' figurative and narrative imagery, and their self-representations, were associated with appeals to others for practical assistance - for example, to transport and sell cargoes, to obtain loans or to extend the time for their repayment. As a consequence, such letters usually contain a narrative of relevant event, a construction of relevant situation. Even when their persuasive purpose was less immediate, the representations of self and situation appearing in the letters occur not as systematic abstractions or within a fictive scenario but in and around the logic of daily life. By treating the letters as a form of discursive practice, I do not mean to suggest that the writers' narrative and figurative strategies are reducible to exogenous interests. The letters were not the spontaneous emanations of individuals guided solely by pre-existing intentions, much less faithful mirrors of the social contexts that were the occasions for their production. When merchants articulated intentions and defined situations, they did so within the matrix of possibilities and constraints posed by the genre and narrative conventions, symbolic repertoires, discourses, and vocabularies that they mobilised and reworked in their letters. The self-representations worked out with the help of existing cultural resources helped to define mercantile desire and interest. Rather, I wish to emphasise that the merchants' persuasive and concrete aims were partly what made the correspondence so culturally productive with respect to conceptions of the self. Under the pressure of circumstance, then, merchants could be ingenious, rather than formulaic writers. In this sense, their letters were artful, and it would be wrong to suppose that there is a necessary opposition between artful writing and writing designed to convey information or achieve practical ends. The pragmatic and negotiated context does mean, though, that the letters typically focus on particulars: the concrete episode, the list, and the contingent purpose. In this way the letters move us very close to the category, experience: precisely that moment when people make use of culturally available genres, discourses, and vocabularies in order to make sense of recent actions and situations and to chart a future course. At the same time, the letters register the ongoing devising of a plausible self, one the writer and others could live with. In calling attention to experience I am making two related points. First, I understand experience to mean the situating of self in relation to event and surround. As such, experience is the site of a subjectivity in constant revision. To follow in part Teresa De Lauretis's definition, 'experience' is the 'process' by which 'one places oneself or is placed in social reality and perceives and comprehends as subjective' the world of social relations. The mercantile letters were one means through which this 'process' took place for their eighteenthcentury writers. Through their letters, as merchants wrote about their milieu, context became subjectively meaningful: it became experience." Second, as the foregoing implies, to assert a close connection between the letters and experience, is also to hold the view that mercantile experience was discursively constructcd. '1

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In this regard, it is worth reiterating that the letters did not simply report experience, they constituted it; they articulated or created the experience of selfin-markets. Although letter writing was not, of course, the sole arena for such constitutive processes, it was one of special importance for long distance merchants whose livelihoods depended on writing and who, as we shall see, defined practical virtue around good writing. The letters are also, as the foregoing implies, a 'world-making' genre; the definitions of self, other, and situation that they contain are acts of power, attempts to stabilise the flux of market relations in advantageous ways.13 When correspondents engaged in the harmonious, or, almost as often, contentious, exchange of representations of self, market, and market-related activities, they were creating and disseminating meanings and modes of understanding that would orient their future conduct and that of others. They were producing the cognitive and normative codes that would contribute to the routinisation and institutionalisation of market practices. But, again, unlike more formal writing, say, treatises on political economy or legal codes, letters highlight the immediate context of these emergent meanings and, thus, their negotiated, provisional and contested qualities. They trace the micro-politics of norm production." One example stemming from routine economic activities may serve to illustrate. It concerns commission charges. Contemporary eighteenth-century commentators and twentieth-century historians of mercantile practice alike have tended to treat commission rates for buying and selling goods within trading areas as stable or standardised, amounting to external guidelines akin to a tax table or a table of interest charges established by legislative fiat." But such a view is not supported by a processual reading of the mercantile letters themselves. For instance, William Smith, a factor at St Kitts, charged a commission of 15 per cent for selling one Philadelphia merchant's goods at the end of the 1760s, at a time when trade between Philadelphia and the West Indies was becoming less profitable (especially relative to opportunities in Europe). When the merchant, Thomas Clifford, complained, Smith responds, 'I observe you think ten per cent commission sufficient to transact business in this island', 'and that your trade will not admit of more. The latter 1 believe is true, but the former is not by any means adequate to the trouble and expense of selling and collecting in this or any of the English islands' .'6 When Clifford hinted that he might stop sending cargoes to St Kitts, Smith responds, in effect, take it or leave it, we cannot work for less here. In short, the rate was negotiable and variable, sensitive to market demand, and thus subject to continuous negotiation. What might prove misleading on some readings, however, is that Smith and other merchants found it necessary or useful to justify their charges by themselves invoking an external standard. Smith himself claims that others had been levying a similar rate for the past few years, using language that verges on turning market practice into mercantile custom. He insists that if Clifford had bothered to 'inquire of our neighbours in this place', he would have found that the rate 'was a few years past fifteen percent for sales and returns'.'7 Here, the aggregated outcome of past negotiations and practices has become - or will become, if Smith

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can make his claim stick - an independent, comparatively fixed standard by which fees may be calibrated. Thus, Smith makes an assertion about past practice that is at once empirical and normative. To the extent that his assertion about collective practices is persuasive, those past practices become a moral standard, justifying a merchant's fees. Although Smith did not explicitly invoke custom, other merchants did. To take a final instance, John Reynell responds to the complaint from his correspondent, Richard Deeble, that his commission for overseeing the building of a ship is too high by insisting several times that it accords with 'the Custom of the Place'. His commission, he claims, 'is the common Custom and practice of the place'. Reynell also ridicules Deeble's complaint, suggesting that his rates are beyond reach of legitimate protest: 'I Declare I could not have thought there had been that Person living who would have Objected at my ... Commission'. But Reynell protests too much, suggesting uneasiness about the persuasiveness of the argument from custom. Indeed, he buttresses his case with another concerning his routine business practice: 'I have always ... made it a rule with me in trade never to Charge more than other people for doing Business but rather less'. Then, as if anticipating that Deeble might not find this declaration convincing, Reynell also adds hard-headed reasoning about opportunity costs. He thus notes that his commission needed to be high enough to compensate for what he might have earned had he independently invested the money he had advanced for expenses entailed in the construction of the ship. 18 Still, in the end, Reynell, who was still unpaid a year later, finds it expedient to back pedal. Although he insists that his fellow merchants would vindicate his position were he and Deeble to air their 'dispute' publicly at arbitration proceedings, Reynell cuts his charges in half, writing that he 'Choosers] to abate the half of it'." One hardly knows whether to emphasise Reynell's capitulation despite the overt certitude with which he couched his original argument from custom, or to underscore that he has salvaged the argument by the face-saving suggestion that he has magnanimously chosen to depart from custom for the sake of peace with a valued colleague. Still, when he opted not to convene an arbitration panel or go to the regular courts, Reynell passed up the opportunity to convert his practice into a legally sanctioned norm. We ignore the micro-politics of the negotiations that undergirded the formation of such contingent standards at our peril. To treat the letters as a straightforward documentary record, in this case to use them simply to establish that the rate was in fact ten or fifteen per cent in a given decade is not unreasonable, but it does miss half the action taking place in the letters. Moreover, one runs the risk of recapitulating rather than analysing the logic and rhetoric of the merchant who sought to justify his views by invoking an already fixed, obligatory standard. As Michael Shapiro puts it, the historian needs to interpret rather than repeat the strategies by which people convert the products of their 'treaty making' activities into reified 'natural objects' and aspects of 'fixed modes of authority' .20 In this case, mercantile correspondence was a dynamic site where ongoing negotiations and arguments produced and altered a

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remarkably labile 'custom'; it should not be treated as the inert record of an already standard rate or norm. Letters, genres, and print Eighteenth-century merchants wrote in an era aptly known as the 'Age of Letters'. Correspondence was the central form not only for communicating information, but also for self-expression and display as well as experimentation in the quickly emerging new fictional prose form, the novel. Moreover, there were few hard-and-fast distinctions in published writing among, for example, manuals offering model letters to a wide readership for use on a 'variety of occasions', popular entertainments in the form of fictional correspondence posing as found letters - a genre that was a direct precursor of the novel, and the epistolary novel itself. Differentiation occurred slowly and with much reciprocal influence. 21 And these mutually informing genres were available to merchants. The libraries of Philadelphia merchants contained, for example, copies of the best-selling Clarissa and the Turkish Spy - respectively, an epistolary novel and fictional travelogue in the form of letters - along with the letter-writing manuals and conduct books addressed to general audiences and how-to manuals aimed specifically at merchants and their clerks. So did the Library Company of Philadelphia. 22 For the moment, let us single out, among other genres most relevant to mercantile writing, the letter-writing manual. Most assimilated modes of classification dating from the Renaissance. As a consequence they used categories to sort letters that cross-cut distinctions between commercial correspondence and family or personal letters. Consider John Hill's Young Secretary's Guide, a representative and heavily imitated 'sober' letter-writing manual in print throughout the eighteenth century. In Hill's elaborate (although derivative) scheme of classification, almost all of his eighteen categories of letter explicitly mix business and family concerns.23 For example, when Hill glosses one of his major categories, the 'letter of advice', he explicitly mentions the mercantile variant, which was designed, he writes, to give 'an Account of the Prices of goods, Customs and Exchanges'.24 But he also observes that the letters 'of an indulgent Parent to his Children, as to the good Government of their Lives, and well Managing of their Affairs, etc.', fell into this category as did letters from masters to servants more generally. Such letters were united not by the widely disparate nature of the advice provided, but by the positions of trust that obligated the writers to give the recipients 'notice' of information conducing to the 'well-managing of their Affairs'. 25 By the same token, when advice manuals aimed specifically at merchants or their apprentices and clerks did contain sections on correspondence, they drew eclectically and often verbatim from the model letter books addressed to a general readership. Partly as a consequence of the repeated republication of these model letters, some categories of the mercantile letter - the recommendation letter, the letter of complaint and excuse - attained a certain uniformity in

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practice. The point is less, however, that the contents of merchants' letters were sometimes formulaic, but rather that the systems of classification which they incorporated ordered categories of experience in ways that were not specific to the mercantile community. These categories of experience, furthermore, embedded the economic within the larger realm of social experience. The commercial letter, then, was not a fully distinctive form, belonging to a discrete series of correspondence or obeying its own genre conventions. In so far as it designates separate archival holdings, the distinction between 'commercial' and 'personal' or 'family' letters is an artefact of a later era's principles of organisation rather than of eighteenth-century categories and principles of demarcation. Even the physical location of letters is a tell-tale sign. Although members of mercantile partnerships kept separate letter books recording copies of outgoing correspondence pertaining to the business affairs of the partnership, solo merchants usually did not: their letter books (and folios of incoming correspondence) characteristically included what we would regard as commercial and personal letters. The eighteenth-century distinction had less to do, in this case, with demarcating a realm of business from a personal and private or familial domain, than with distinguishing individual and familial undertakings from those of contractually-based collectivities. Moreover, it is important to stress that individual letters, whether written under the imprimatur of partnerships or by solo venturers, were apt to mix business affairs with what can be considered family matters, as one might expect of an age in which trade was fundamentally structured by kinship and in which the household was an important, if not the only, site for business-related transactions. It is true that the writers of advice manuals aimed at traders explicitly promoted the development of occupationally specific forms of writing. For example, John Mair, the author of a mid-eighteenth century handbook on bookkeeping which circulated widely on both sides of the Atlantic, asserts, perhaps a little defensively, that 'a plain and simple style', regarded as mandatory by all advisors to traders, was perfectly compatible with the use of terms of art specific to me"rchants. He writes, 'for as every artist has a set of words, and ways of speaking, which they have a liberty and a right to use, as being peculiar to the art they profess; so merchants have theirs, and they speak and write like themselves, by using them'.'· Of particular relevance to letters, when a merchant traded on behalf of others the duty to provide accurate and timely 'information' on purchases and sales, the creditworthiness of potential buyers, and other matters becomes, in Mair's text, a rigid requirement to produce a 'letter of advice' at appropriate intervals. In a detailed manual on bookkeeping, then, the 'letter of advice' was on the verge of becoming a formal technical document peculiar to the mercantile community and with legal implications under commercial law - at least in the case of the factor or broker." And merchants did indeed attempt, not always successfully, to hold their correspondents to norms of timely 'advice'. It is important to stress though that the broader, more eclectic usage was still dominant. Indeed, when providing his readers with model letters, even Mair

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recycled examples from the older, all-purpose letter-writing manuals. And merchants' letters themselves, whether written by factors, partners or others, tended to retain, when conveying 'advice' about business matters, forms of composition similar to letters containing information about other matters. They varied no less or more in their degree of formality and compression than other correspondence, and displayed no consistent practice with respect to order of presentation. 28 What is true of the letter of advice holds doubly good for letters evaluating the conduct and character of fellow traders. The letter of recommendation, in some cases, verged upon what would later become a credit report or rating. Thus, when writing to English dry goods houses that were seeking trustworthy colonial importers, Henry Drinker and Abel James, partners in what would become one of Philadelphia's most prominent pre-revolutionary era shipping firms, gave their assessments of their fellow traders an air of systematisation by creating lists and using numbers: 'No. 105 J----C-----B is an indistrious young man and supposed to be with money'; of the next likely prospect, they write, 'we esteem [him] ... an honest man', etc. 29 But most merchants had not yet distilled their assessments of other traders into the spare lineaments of Drinker and James' lists. Their descriptions of other men were narratives not yet shorn of particular happenings or enlivening shifts of proportional emphasis. Thus, one partner writes to another in the 1760s, referring to third parties: Newton who examined his books says he reckons ... he's in for four or five thousand [pounds] worse than nothing: Cawthorn Its immagined is in much the same way. I have heard he has stopped paymt. Its certain he owes large Sums to the Custo' House where he was lately refused a Dispatch for a few chests of Citron, besides eight thousand to the Maynes and incredible sums for such a Stripling to the Portuguese who trusted him with their wine. This passage little resembles a list. It transposes into the letter the rhythms of conversation, and, unlike Drinker and James' letters, or the later Dun and Bradstreet ratings, it makes no attempt to disguise, via techniques of codification, either the oral origins or the highly subjective nature of the collective judgements about men's reputations ('Its immagined'; he has 'heard' that the prodigal Cawthorn is worse than bankrupt) now further propagated and legitimated through writing. This correspondent even adopts the conventions of a morality tale: the 'stripling' who had overreached himself was, according to the writer, destined to come to a bad end. 3u To return, for the moment, to occupationally specific imperatives about writing, what might be called a classic literature on commerce and personality has made it abundantly clear that such imperatives closely structured mercantile subjectivity. As the history of bookkeeping in the Weberian mode, in particular, has shown us, the injunction to keep and to display accurate records distilled broader ethical demands that had both occupationally specific and religious dimensions. As I have noted elsewhere, sloppy books suggested moral laxness -

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a kind of ethical slovenliness - as well as technical incompetence, while hesitations about their display hinted at fraudulent concealment. 31 Indeed, the willingness to display books was enshrined in bankruptcy law as a key indicator of honesty, the pivot upon which its laboriously created distinction between the honest, but unfortunate bankrupt and his 'knavish' counterpart hinged.32 This occupational ethic of honesty and precision in writing reinforced a broader character ideal which associated virtue with a fully candid or transparent character. It also encouraged a posture of self-scrutiny. The systematic doublechecking necessary to produce accurate books involved, after all, the self-auditing of routine daily activities: it demanded the arithmetic summation and review of the minutiae of one's daily conduct. In so far as merchants were expected to show their books to interested parties, this ethic also encouraged a particular form of self-scrutiny: one that anticipated the view that others might take of one's conduct. The good merchant was a man perpetually on the alert, prepared to be called literally and metaphorically to account before his suppliers, buyers, and creditors at a moment's notice. 33 For all their insistence on candour, though, merchants and their advisors articulated the ethical injunction to write honestly and clearly in such a way as to introduce complications of a typically theatrical sort. (By theatricality, I refer to what David Marshall and John Agnew have called a 'cultural paradigm' or metaphorical framework for organising understandings of the self. What eighteenth-century writers making use of it had in common was a model of a divided self, a self apportioned between an elusive inner character and an outer, performative persona. 34 ) Reconsider from this perspective Mair's passage on terms of art. According to Mair, a merchant achieves a certain harmonising of self when choosing the right style and words, particularly those which constituted the language of a distinctive group identity: merchants 'speak and write like themselves' when using specialised argot. At the same time, the achievement of harmony presupposes a split self; it is the learned alignment, the 'making like', of inner self and outer persona. Mair elsewhere writes in this regard of personation and self-impersonation, concepts which captured for eighteenth-century writers the doubling effect of a cultivated second nature that elaborated inner character for social purposes. 3 \ Merchants, whether readers of Mair or not, were prone to a theatrical view of the self in part because all were in the business of 'personating' or representing themselves for the scrutiny of others, not only in the distilled and arcane notations of their account books, but in the more accessible legend of their letters. More generally, the posture of self-monitoring encouraged by the occupationally specific ethics of accounting and other commercial writing reinforced, and cannot really be disentangled from, the merchants' unrelenting concern with the management of impressions. This concern was intensified by the fact that the circulation of judgements about competence and character was not limited to the medium of conversation among a relatively well-defined group of men who knew one another, but included, as the report of the 'stripling's' misadventures in Madeira might suggest, the less easily controlled written

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communications of a far-flung network of correspondents. In short, although merchants equated practical virtue with can dour, their sensitivity to the context of mutual dependency and collective judgement promoted the sense that candour or transparency of character was perilous, its achievement a dauntingly arduous ethical demand. Even as the codifiers who were attempting to attract the attention of traders adumbrated an occupationally specific technical genre of letter, merchants, particularly those writing after the mid-eighteenth century, had an appreciation for the familiar style. The emergence of the familiar letter as a genre in the eighteenth century was in good part the offspring of the culture of sensibility. Students of the familiar letter suggest that its central characteristic was a set of 'changed conventions for expressing feeling', which placed a premium on 'personal emotive response'. 36 The familiar letter also emphasised the making and sharing of fine discrimin·ations, especially with respect to perceptions and judgements about feeling and character (one's own as well as those of others). Modelled on idealised conceptions of unmonitored, freely flowing conversations among friends, the emerging protocols of the familiar letter demanded candour and self-revelation, the central signs of which were 'ease' and 'immediacy' of voice. 37 Indeed, this is one reason that the published letters of famous personages which were so popular in the eighteenth century always appeared under the conceit that they were never intended to be read by any but their named recipient. It also accounts for the widespread use of the epistolary form among the early novelists. These devices create the illusion of a privacy that permits the play of unobserved communication, establishing the textual equivalent of a fourth wall between third party readers and those engaged in dialogue without self-conscious reference to an observing audience. 38 As with the 'terms of art' promoted by Mair, these conventions embodied a certain modulation of theatrical conceptions of the self. Eighteenth-century writers equated the familiar style with sincerity - with, once again, a morally desirable alignment of inner self and second nature. But 'ease' and 'immediacy' of 'voice', and the capacity to make and articulate fine discriminations, was a style, as many eighteenth-century authors, particularly those associated most closely with the promotion of refinement, clearly understood. 3' It was a trained capacity and a mark of gentility. Moreover, the injunction to cultivate ease and singularity of voice promoted a self-conscious awareness that, in Patricia Spacks's words, the 'feeling self could ... become a product' - a product, what is more, that would be exposed to the discriminating eye of others.'o To the extent that merchants drew upon them, the emerging conventions of the familiar letter appeared to reinforce an occupationally specific preoccupation with the dangers of self-revelation. In particular, the familiar letter's emphasis on the exchange of confidences highlighted a tendency among merchants to treat the sharing and guarding of secrets as a signifier of friendship and alliance against a potentially dangerous social and commercial world populated by what they called 'scoffing Neighbours' and unscrupulous 'strangers'. Insisting on candour

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in principle, and apt to accuse others of duplicity, merchants could associate their own writing, not without felt contradiction, with a valued, protective secrecy'" With the help of the conventions of familiarity, then, merchants used pledges of mutual confidence to identify a realm of trust relations which they attempted to exempt from the hazards and requirements of social display and reputationbuilding. Yet, as the essay's closing example will indicate, such attempts at demarcation were hesitant and only partially successful; the domain of male intimacy and its associated freedoms achieved only a precarious legitimacy in the eighteenth century. The context of communication: merchants and the public Even as they borrowed from the etiquette of privileged exchanges between trusted confidantes, mercantile letters had a distinctly social and public dimension. Prior to the Revolution, they were a key element in a larger system of communication in colonial port cities. As mercantile correspondence disseminated information about men, markets, and imperial policy among men working at a distance from one another, it complemented, and extended to virtually global proportions, the reach of the face-to-face conversations that took place in coffee houses, taverns, wharves, and commercial exchanges: fittingly, for example, merchants' letters destined for every part of the Empire were sometimes datelined and written at 'The Old London Coffeehouse', a favoured gathering place for Philadelphia's merchants. Simultaneously, the material contained in mercantile letters was reincorporated into those oral conversations. Often they functioned literally as an extension of coffeehouse talk as their recipients read them aloud or pinned excerpts on bulletin boards. And, as the historian Richard Brown points out, even when they were not designated by their writers as circular letters containing vital information about 'public' matters, 'their contents rapidly entered and shaped the face-to-face intercourse of the trading community', in part precisely because as 'nominally private exchanges between respected acquaintances they possessed a higher degree of credibility than newspapers',,2 At the same time, the contents of these letters could become direct, even verbatim sources for reports and debates about imperial affairs appearing in newspapers and pamphlets. In short, merchants' correspondence was a quasi-public form of writing, bridging private communication and published news, the familiar and the anonymous, the local and the distant. The quasi-public dimension of this correspondence, it should be stressed, is one reason for claiming that merchants' views had larger cultural effects. Merchants' views were by no means hegemonic, and on some occasions, they were fiercely opposed. But as articulated in letters, they entered an emerging public domain where they were recirculated in other media, and also evaluated and worked over by a broad spectrum of Philadelphians, including the city's shopkeepers, artisans, and mariners who were also claiming access to the taverns,

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presses, and assocIations characteristic of the nascent public sphere. 4J One example occurring at a politically explosive moment will illustrate the sense in which merchants' letters were a transfer point between oral and written modes of communication, and between unpublished and published writing. It indicates, as well, the way that merchants themselves tried to draw boundaries between confidential and public matters. In the spring of 1774, Benjamin Booth, a conservative New York merchant and pamphleteer, entangled his long-time correspondents, the Philadelphia merchants Henry Drinker and Abel James, in a newspaper war with Philadelphia radical, Charles Thomson. In the midst of a debate about the proper response to Parliament's punishment of Boston in the aftermath of the Boston tea party, the immediate issue was whether Thomson misrepresented the breadth of Philadelphia's sentiment for militant action in an effort to persuade the New York Committee of Correspondence - of which Booth was a member - to commit to a projected trade boycott. In a published attack accusing Thomson of falsely posturing as the 'peoples' representative', Booth closely paraphrases 'information' supplied to him 'in confidence' in the nearly daily letters he received from Drinker and James. 44 As the term 'confidence' suggests, these letters were structured by the canons of writing associated with the familiar style, even as they dwelt on public entanglements and even as they supplied fodder for published newspaper polemics. Thomson, in turn, accuses Booth in print of 'incendiary' and treacherous words and demands that Booth reveal his sources. Replying by unpublished letter, Booth refuses to do so in the name of honouring 'confidences'.4.1 Simultaneously, he anticipates that Thomson may think it proper 'to lay a foundation for a newspaper controversy' by taking 'publick notice of [Booth's] letter'. Thus, Booth assumes that the contents of letters such as his may well find their way into print. Yoking good republican - even country party - rhetoric to conservative purposes, Booth also declares that Thomson will find him a formidable adversary. 'Consider me', he writes, 'as a free born Englishman; one who will ... spill the last drop of his blood in defending liberty, property, and the freedom of uttering [my] sentiments from the usurpation of tyrants within as well as from tyrants without'.46 Thus, Booth associates his part in the newspaper war· with the martial valour inhering in the bloodier contest between liberty and tyranny for which it substitutes. 47 Drinker, writing for himself and on his partner's behalf, endorses this construction by declaring Booth's letter and a subsequent published exchange as 'Spirited and Manly'''s Well he might. As providers of the information used by Booth, Drinker and James stand accused of treacherous words, at least indirectly. As the unnamed 'authors' of the 'intelligence' Booth has received, they have a stake in Booth's successful demonstration of his alliance with liberty and truth. They also collaborate in Booth's construction of the 'publick' newspaper debate as a metaphorical war by continuing to supply Booth with the 'hints' and 'intelligence' that he will use as 'weapons' 'to assist' 'in gaining victory' over an 'antagonist' whom they predict they will eventually 'beat out of the field'.49

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All in all, the episode highlights the easy - if, in this politically loaded context, dangerous for the authors - transition between published and unpublished writing. Furthermore, this writing still refers explicitly to the oral mechanisms of communication and reputation building with which it is so closely intertwined. Thus, Booth (in a typically theatrical construction) writes that his last publication 'met with' such applause, that people who 'hardly nodded when we met have these two or three days past been ready to take me in their arms'. We can almost see him joining in the rituals of the promenade and coffeehouse - and by metaphorical extension, theatre box - totting up greetings and snubs. For his part, Drinker evaluates Booth's writing via reference to the concrete spaces of urban communication most frequented by merchants. Commenting of Booth's writing that both its 'manner and matter will do thee Credit among the sensible and judicious', he also observes that talk at the 'Coffee House' and 'Insurance Office' has stigmatised Booth's adversary, Thomson, as standing 'with all ranks' in the 'light' 'of a person no man can take to his bosom', 'dangerous and designing'. Thus, Drinker's writing incorporates the face-to-face situations in which merchants typically underwent the scrutiny not only of their peers, but 'all ranks'.50 As it happens, Drinker (and, presumably James) misjudged the political sentiment of their fellow Philadelphians. By mid-June, radicals had forced a reorganisation of Philadelphia's Committee of Correspondence, broadening its class membership and radicalising its policies, and when the newly convened Continental Congress made plans for a renewed boycott in the fall of 1774, its new Secretary would be none other than Charles Thomson. Of course, the bulk of mercantile correspondence did not concern such politically fraught matters. In this regard, it is worth stressing that throughout the spring and summer of 1774, Booth and his correspondents, Drinker and James, continued to write about more ordinary commercial affairs, swapping 'intelligence' about prices, anticipated cargoes, and the like. This mix or interpolation of the political into the commercial was typical of the writing of other politically involved merchants. But whether occupied with Imperial crises or more mundane matters, mercantile writing played a significant part in the forms of communication and collective association that Habermas and others have linked to the redefinition and broadening of public life in the eighteenth century. That portions of the mercantile letters could reappear with little revision in newspapers and pamphlets - the print genres that have been identified especially closely with the emergence of a 'public sphere' - is symptomatic. Dignified and transmuted by print, such writing was becoming dislodged from its original context as personal communication. Even as it retained the letter form, such writing was becoming instead a publication addressed to an indefinitely large and anonymous readership. As Michael Warner has argued, such acts of publication and address played a pivotal role in conceptualising and instituting a more inclusive definition of the public and in remapping the relation between public and private domains of experience.51 Politically speaking, there was, to be sure, something ironic about the participation of Philadelphia's 'reluctant revolutionaries' in the print media and

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other institutions associated with a nascent public sphere. 52 As Drinker's woeful misjudgement of the opinion of 'all ranks' suggests, most merchants of his ilk still clung to a view of politics which assumed that differences in social degree or rank, even as among Englishmen, ought fundamentally to count when it came to governance and political voice. They still conceived, albeit mistakenly, of Philadelphia as a city that could be ruled by gentlemen - by men of the 'better sort' capable of achieving consensus on their own terms with free men of middling rank and humble station. Yet merchants helped to build the institutions that encouraged others to articulate a view of public participation and political competence which undermined their own pretensions to paramount authority. But perhaps 'irony', with its suggestion of contradiction, is the wrong term. If, in the conjoined production by 'all ranks' of new forms of associational life and print culture we can see the emergence of a public sphere, it was one in which the borders between public and private communication, and between public and private selves were still drawn in ways oblique to our own. Notes 1.

2.

3.

4.

Most notably Jean-Christophe Agnew (1986), Worlds Apart: The Market and the Theater in Anglo-American Thought, 1550-1750, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; and Peter Stallybrass and Allon White (1986), The Politics and Poetics of Transgression, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 27-79. For Philadelphia, this account relies heavily on Thomas Doerflinger (1986), A Vigorous Spirit of Enterprise: Merchants and Economic Development in Revolutionary Philadelphia, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, pp. 14-16,20-32,133-144; and Harry D. Berg (1983), 'The Organisation of Business in Colonial Philadelphia', Pennsylvania History, vol. 10, pp. 157-177. See also Gary Nash (1986), The Urban Crucible: The Northern Seaports and the Origins of the American Revolution, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp. 72-74, 100-106, 119-123,127-128, 161-167, 178-180, 235-239,243-248,256-260, 265-271; and Frederick B. Tolles (1948), Counting House and Meeting House: The Quaker Merchants of Colonial Philadelphia, 1682-1763, Norton, New York, pp. 88-89, 92-93, 99, 120-122. On English traders see, Lenore Davidoff and Catherine Hall (1987), Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 200-205; Margaret Hunt (1996), Middling Culture in Eighteenth-Century England, University of California Press, Berkeley; and David Hancock (1995), Citizens of the World: London Merchants and the Integration of the British Atlantic Community, 1735-1785, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Doerflinger (1986), pp. 14-16, 20-40, 126-134, 51. Also see Nash (1986), pp. 120-121,256-259; Tolles (1948), pp. 109-114, 131-134; Gordon Wood (1992), The Radicalism of the American Revolution, Knopf, New York, pp. 11 0-120. Religious persuasion clearly mattered as well. Anglicans harboured more than their share of the unabashedly urbane, and Quakers, fewer. But cultural style interacted with religious practice and belief to produce significant differences in what Philip Greven calls religious 'temperament' within denominations and sects. See Philip Greven (1977), The Protestant Temperament: Patterns of Child-Rearing, Religious Experience, and the Self in Early America, Meridian-New American Library, New York. On 'wet Quakers' see Tolles (1948), pp. 118, 123-132, 139-142.

74 5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

Epistolary Selves Specialised moneylenders and land banks existed in the late colonial period and were supplemental sources of commercial loans. See John J. McCusker and Russell R. Menard (1985), The Economy of British America, 1607-1789, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill; and Edward Countryman (1992), The Uses of Capital in Revolutionary America', William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, vol. 49, Jan., pp. 18-22. See Doerflinger (1986), pp. 138-144; and Berg (1983), pp. 157-177. Also see Countryman (1992), pp. 3-10, 13, 22-28; Marc Egnal (1975), 'The Changing Structure of Philadelphia's Trade with the British West Indies, 1750-1775', Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 99, pp. 156-179; McCusker and Menard (1985), pp. 78-88, 189-200, 277-290, 334-341; and Jacob Price (1980), Capital and Credit in the British Overseas Trade: The View from the Chesapeake, 1700-1776, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp. 96, 121-123, 127-129. On mercantile networks see, for example, Doerflinger (1986), pp. 61-62; and Tolles (1948), pp. 88-89, 92-93, 99, 120-122. Also see Bernard Bailyn (1955), The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century, Harper-Torchbooks, New York; Peter Dobkin Hall (1978), 'Marital Selection and Business in Massachusetts Merchant Families,' 1700-1800', in The American Family in Social-Historical Perspective, Second Edition, Michael Gordon (ed.), St. Martin's, New York, pp. 101-114; and Naomi Lamoreaux (1986), 'Banks, Kinship, and Economic Development: The New England Case', Journal of Economic History vol. 46, pp. 647-671. Also see Dorothy Crozier (1965), 'Kinship and Occupational Succession', Sociological ReVIew, New Series, vol. 13, pp. 15-43; Davidoff and Hall (1987), pp. 214-222; and Hunt (1996). The vocabulary of 'inscribing' and 'reworking' context or reality is LaCapra's. Dominick LaCapra (1985), History and Criticism, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 17-21, 125-127. Also see John E. Toews (1987), 'Intellectual History after the Linguistic Turn', American Historical Review, vol. 92, pp. 884-887. On this distinction, see LaCapra (1985), pp. 64-66, 73-75,131-132. For a criticism ofthis distinction, see Michael]. Shapiro (1984), 'Literary Production as a Politicizing Practice', in Language and Politics, Michael J. Shapiro (ed.), New York University Press, New York, pp. 231-232, 239. Gabrielle Spiegel, among others, suggests that the new historicist emphasis on language tends toward an 'aestheticized' understanding of cultural context. Yet there are some affinities between their approach and Spiegel's focus on what she elegantly calls the 'social logic of the text'. Compare Gabrielle Spiegel (1990), 'History, Historicism, and the Social Logic of the Text in the Middle Ages', Speculum, vol. 65, pp. 59-86, and Gabrielle Spiegel (1992), 'History and Post-Modernism IV', Past and Present, no. 135, pp. 199n14, 201; with, for example, Louis Montrose (1989), 'Professing the Renaissance: The Poetics and Politics of Culture', in The New HistoriCIsm, H. Aram Veeser (ed.), Routledge, New York, pp. 15, 17,20,23,26-27. For a useful overview, see Saul Cornell (1993), 'History in a Post-Modern Age', William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, vol. 50, pp. 329-341. Teresa De Lauretis, (1984), 'Semiotics and Experience', in Alice Doesn't: Feminism Semiotics Cinema, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, p. 159. Also see Montrose (1989), especially pp. 16, 16n33, who similarly relies on De Lauretis in his account of ideology and experience. Also see Toews (1987), pp. 885, 89]-892. For a compelling (and controversial) elahoration of the position that experience is discursively constructed, see Joan Scott (1991), 'The Evidence of Experience', Critical InqUiry, vol. 17, pp. 773-797. Also see Kathleen Canning (]994), 'Feminist History after the LingUIstic Turn: Hisroricizing Discourse and Experience', Signs, vol. 19, pp. 368-404. For thIS point, sec Shapiro (]984), pp. 217, 227-228.

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14. The letters under consideration here are, at least in the first instance, addressed to specific readers who not only have the opportunity, but are specifically invited by the letter form, to respond in affirmation, dispute, or elaboration of the first writer's representations of self, other, and situation. Speech act theory has much of interest to say about such interactions. See for example, Pocock's essay, 'Verbalizing a Political Act', whose insights on the politics of language and the power inhering in the verbalising act could, with only slight translation, apply to the analysis of writing in letters. j.G.A. Pocock (1984), 'Verbalizing a Political Act', in Language and Politics, Michael Shapiro (ed.), New York University Press, New York, pp. 26-43. 15. Thus, john Mair asserts that as of the year he published the revised version of his widely distributed text on bookkeeping, the commission rate charged for the buying and selling of goods in Great Britain 'runs at two and a half percent,' while in 'Aleppo, Smyrna, and other parts of Turkey, it is commonly 3 percent', and 'in jamaica, Barbados, Virginia, and most of the plantations, it is often 8, and sometimes 10 percent'. Harry Berg tells us that in eighteenth-century Philadelphia commission charges on buying and selling were 'in every case' 'reckoned at five percent', a rate 'about twice that of Great Britain's and 'about the same as those in the West Indies'. But, of course, Mair's passage is punctuated with 'commonly', 'often', and 'sometimes', indicating that the rates are not as fixed or predictable as he would have them seem. Similarly, the two 'about's in Berg's passage covertly question the degree of standardization in the rates Berg reports on. John Mair (1978 [1793]), Bookkeeping Moderniz'd, or Merchant-Accounts by Double Entry, according to the Italian Form, Sixth Edition, Edinburgh, reprinted by Arno Press, New York, p. 388; and Berg (1983), pp. 166, 166n119. 16. William Smith to Thomas Clifford, 4 November 1770, St Kitts, Clifford Correspondence, cited in Egnal (1975), p. 166. 17. Smith to Clifford, 18 Nov. 1770, St Kitts, Clifford Correspondence, cited in Egnal (1975), p. 166. It is interesting to note that Marc Egnal cites one other letter to show that Smith 'was indeed correct that commissions at St. Kitts had been 15 percent' for some time, and declares it the 'standard' charge. Egnal (1975), p. 166, 166n19. 18. John Reynell to Richard Deeble, 10 September 1735, Philadelphia, Reynell Letterbook, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia [henceforth HSP]. Also see Barclay and Son to Samuel Powell, 13 June 1747 and 19 August 1747, London, Powell Papers, HSP. 19. Reynell to Deeble, 11 June 1736, Philadelphia, Reynell Letterbook, HSP. 20. Shapiro (1984), pp. 225-226. 21. Richardson and Defoe, for example, developed their fictional voice partly through their innovative versions of the conduct book, the letter-writing manual, and the handbook for traders. 22. Robert Adams Day (1966), Told in Letters: Epistolary Fiction Before Richardson, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, pp. 48-68, 84-104; Katherine Gee Hornbeak (1933-1934), 'The Complete Letter-Writer in English, 1568-1800', Smith College Studies in Modern Languages, vol. 15, pp. 1-122; Jean Robertson (1942), The Art of Letter Writing: An Essay on the Handbooks Published in England During the Sixteenth and the Seventeenth Centuries, Hodder and Stoughton, London; and Keith Stewart (1982), 'Toward Defining an Aesthetic for the Familiar Letter in Eighteenth-Century England', Prose Studies, vol. 5, pp. 179-192. On Philadelphia, see Jay Fliegelman (1982), Prodigals and Pilgrims: The American Revolution Against Patriarchal Authority, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 37-69, 83, 89; H.M. Jones (1934), 'The Importation of French Books in Philadelphia, 1750-1800', Modern Philology, vol. 28, pp. 157-177; Tolles (1948), pp. 161-204; and Edwin Wulf (1954), 'The First Books and Printed Catalogues of the Library Company of Philadelphia', Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 78, pp. 45-70.

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23. John Hill (1697), The Young Secretary's Guide: or, a Speedy Help to Learning, Eighth Edition, London, p. 73. Hill's manual went through twenty-seven London editions between 1687, the date of its first publication, and 1764. It and its close competitor, Thomas Goodman (1699), The Experienc'd Secretary or Citizen and Countryman's Companion, First Edition, London, spawned many eighteenth-century American editions with the same titles and influenced manuals printed in the colonies under other titles. At least three-fifths of the letters in two eighteenth-century editions of a manual printed in Philadelphia entitled simply The Secretary's Guide exactly duplicated Hill's models. See Hornbeak (1933-1934), pp. 77, 84-86, 91-93,95-99. 24. See, for example, 'Letter of Advice from a Factor to a Merchant', Hill (1697), pp. 35-36. 25. Hill (1697), pp. 4-5. 26. Mair (1978), p. 6. Mair's handbook went through over twenty eighteenth-century editions. On the use of Mair's handbook in the provinces, see McCusker and Menard (1985), pp. 345-346; and M.E Bywater and B.S. Yamey (1982), Historic Accounting Literature: a Companion Guide, Scolar Press, London, pp. 64-67, who call Mair's, a 'standard work'. Also see Daniel Defoe (1987 [1726]), The Complete English Tradesman, Alan Sutton, Gloucester, pp. 162-167, who makes the same point about mercantile language, although suggesting simultaneously that such language made it possible to 'coast' the truth. 27. Distinctions between the transactions of factors and their principals and those of independent traders acting in a variety of capacities as agents for one another were not firm in practice. A wide variety of 'trust' relations carried with them a general obligation to provide reliable information. Mair (1978), pp. 50, 389. On the factor's duty to convey information, see Berg (1983), pp. 162-164; and Doerflinger (1986), pp.98-99. 28. For an early example of a letter of advice, see: 'The Chief business of this [letter] is to Continue the best Information I can Give about the Corn Business wch hath a Good Prospect both for Spain & Portugall for next winter, the latest Advices thence saying that the weather was bad so tha' the Crop on the Ground was likely to fail and the prices keep up .. .' Thomas Hyam to Samuel Powell, London, 30 April 1731, Powell Papers, HSP. 29. As cited in Doerflinger (1986), p. 53. 30. See, for example, Henry Hill to Richard Hill, 18 Jan. 1762, Madeira, Smith Family Pa pers, HSP. 31. Toby L. Ditz (forthcoming, 1999), 'Secret Selves, Credible Personas: The Problema tics of Trust and Public Display in the Writing of Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia Merchants', in Possible Pasts: Becoming Colonial in Early America, Robert Blair St George (ed.), Cornell University Press, Ithaca. 32. Doerflinger (1986), pp. 142-146; Julian Hoppit (1987), Risk and Failure In Englzsh Business, 1700-1800, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; and William Blackstone (1979 I] 766)), Commentaries on the Laws of England, A Facsimile of the First EditIOn of 1765-69, vol. 2, introduction by A.W. Brian Simpson, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 477-479. 33. Mair (1978), pp. 66-67, 389. For mutual inspection of books and papers, see, for example, John Reynell to Jane Farson,S May] 775, 10 July] 775, Philadelphia, Reynell Letterbook; Jane Farson to John Reynell, 14 May 1775, 10 October 1775, 6 April 1776, 11 May 1777, Wilmington, Coates-Reynell CoIl., all in HSP; and Ditz (forthcoming, 1999). 34. Agnew (1986), pp. 9-12; and David Marshall (1986), The Figure of Theater: Shaftesbury, Defoe, Adam Smith, and George Eftot, Columbia University Press, New York, pp. 4-6. Also see Toby L. Ditz (1':194), 'Shipwrecked; or, Masculinity Imperiled: Mercantile Representations of Failure and the Gendered Self in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia', Journal of American History, vol. 81, pp. 54-57.

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35. Mair (1978), pp. 16,66-67, 389. 36. Patricia Spacks (1985), Gossip, Knopf, New York, p. 69. 37. G.]. Barker-Benfield (1993), The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in EighteenthCentury Britain, University of Chicago Press, Chicago; Stewart (1982), pp. 186, 189. On refinement and the importance of finely tuned discriminations, especially in writing, see Richard Bushman (1993), The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities, Vintage, New York, pp. 52-57, 89-99. 38. Of course, as soon as they inaugurated it, these publications violated the slippery boundary between public and private communication by allowing the reader to spy undetected, as it were, on the putatively intimate musings and revelations of friends. Stephanie Jed (1989), Chaste Thinking: The Rape of Lucretia and the Birth of Humanism, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, p. 85; Michael Fried (1980), Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and the Beholder in the Age of Diderot, University of California Press, Berkeley; and Spacks (1985), pp. 65-91. 39. See for example, The Fourth Earl of Chesterfield (1901 [1779]), The Letters of The Earl of Chesterfield to His Son, with an introduction by Charles Strachey, 2 vols, Methuen, vol. I. pp. 108,278-281. 40. Spacks (1985), pp. 69, 69-85; Stewart (1982), especially pp. 184-189. For theatricality and the complications of sincerity in the revolutionary era, see Jay F1iegelman (1993), Declaring Independence: Jefferson, Natural Language, and the Culture of Performance, Stanford University Press, Stanford. 41. Goodman, The Experienc'd Secretary, p. 38. Also see Hill (1697), 'Letter of Trust', p. 86; and Ditz (forthcoming, 1999). 42. Richard D. Brown (1989), Knowledge is Power: The Diffusion of Information in Early America, 1700-1865, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 115. On the connection between printed material and commerce, see also Michael Warner (1990), The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp. 17-18. 43. On sometimes antagonistic, cross-class participation in public life in Philadelphia, see Susan G. Davis (1988), Parades and Power: Street Theater in Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia, University of California Press, Berkeley, esp. pp. 1--48; Ric Northrup (1989), 'Decomposition and Reconstitution: A Theoretical and Historical Study of Philadelphia Artisans, 1785-1820', PhD Diss., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, especially, pp. 12, 50-56, 95, 98, 122-148, 165-206, 272; and Peter Thompson (1989), "'The Friendly Glass": Drink and Gentility in Colonial Philadelphia', Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 113, October, pp. 550-573. 44. Benjamin Booth to Charles Thomson, 8 June 1774, New York, as Enclosure (copy) in Booth to James and Drinker, 8 June 1774, New York; Booth to Thomson, 17 June 1774, New York, as Enclosure (copy) to James and Drinker, 13 July 1774, New York; James and Drinker to Booth, 21 June 1774, Philadelphia, all in Henry S. Drinker Papers, HSP. 45. James and Drinker expressed considerable anxiety on this score, noting that as they had 'steadily avoided all controversy of a public nature', 'we would by no means risk our Names being bro' in to question'. They begged Booth to be 'cautious and circumspect' in this regard. James and Drinker to Benjamin Booth, 9 June 1774, Philadelphia, Drinker Papers, HSP. 46. Benjamin Booth to Charles Thomson, June 8, New York, as Enclosure (copy) in Booth to James and Drinker, June 8, 1774, New York, Drinker Papers, HSP. 47. Booth to Thomson, 8 June 1774, New York, Drinker Papers, HSP. He positions himself as the defender of truth as well as liberty, and yokes that defense to specifically masculine virtue by feminizing truth: 'my intention was purely to expose the naked truth, and I hope you would not insinuate that She is an enemy to the common cause'. On the trope of 'truth' as a naked female body, see Marina Warner (1985), Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form, Athenaeum, New York, pp.294-296,303-310,314-320,324-325.

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48. Drinker and James to Booth and Pigou, 29 October 1773, Philadelphia, Drinker Papers, HSP. 49. Booth to James and Drinker, 16 June 1774 and 28 July 1774, New York; James and Drinker to Booth, 7 July 1774, Philadelphia, Drinker Papers, HSP. 50. James and Drinker to Booth, 21 June 1774,7 July 1774, Philadelphia; Booth to James and Drinker, 4 July 1774, New York, Drinker Papers, HSP. 51. Warner (1990), esp. pp. 1-33, 34-43, 63-72. I invoke Warner with the significant reservation that the relation of speech and unpublished writing to published writing in the eighteenth century was not one of opposition, but, as this essay suggests, of intimate connection and mutual transformation. An easy circulation of forms and justificatory appeals between media of communication, not a dualistic opposition, was characteristic of the emerging public sphere. (The uptake of the epistolary form in a wide variety of print genres is perhaps paradigmatic of this easy circulation.) On this point, see Fliegelman (1993). For Habermasian approaches, which soften the association of print culture and the public sphere with abstraction and impersonality and take a more processual view of putatively oral culture, see Daniel Gordon, David Bell, and Sara Maza, (1992), 'The Public Sphere in the Eighteenth Century', French Historical Studies, vol. 17, pp. 882-950; and Dena Goodman (1992), 'Public Sphere and Private Life: Toward a Synthesis of Current Historiographical Approaches to the Old Regime', History & Theory, vol. 31, pp. 1-28. Also see Roger Chartier (ed.) (1989a), The Culture of Print: Power and the Uses of Print in Early Modern Europe, Polity Press, Cambridge; and Roger Chartier (1995), Forms and Meanings: Texts, Performances, and Audiences from Codex to Computer, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. 52. The phrase 'reluctant revolutionaries' is from Doerflinger (1986).

5 The sentimental ambassador: the letters of George Bogle from Bengal, Bhutan and Tibet, 1 770-1781 Kate Teltscher

At some time in June 1774, somewhere on the road between Bengal and Bhutan, George Bogle, a young Scottish servant of the East India Company, began a letter to his friend John Stewart in Calcutta: You must not mind my Da'tes. As the Folks in this Country are ignorant of the Julian Calender, and the new stile I am obliged to keep a Reckoning like Robinson Crusoe or Sterns Captive and if I make a Mistake it is impossible to rectify it now. I have some doubts about my Epochs, but there is to be an Eclipse which will bring me up.' As the first British envoy to Bhutan and Tibet, Bogle was - quite literally - in uncharted territory. His sense of cultural isolation is signalled here by his inability to adhere to letter-writing convention: he neither dates his letter nor supplies a precise location. Without access to the European calendar, Bogle has recourse to a tally stick - a device suggested by two literary figures: Crusoe on his island and the prisoner in Sterne's Sentimental Journey. Defoe and Sterne supply Bogle with two of his epistolary identities. For Bogle fashions entirely different, even incompatible, personae for himself in his letters. In his official correspondence, reporting on his trade negotiations, Bogle shares some of the concerns of the pragmatic colonial merchant Crusoe; but when he writes to his family, especially his sisters, he is a sentimental traveller. This discrepancy is particularly apparent when he is about to leave Tibet. Bogle informs the Governor General that the Bhutanese are keen to purchase articles of trade from Calcutta, especially firearms. 2 A few months later, however, writing to his sister Elizabeth (Bess), he represents his life in the hills as a 'fairy dream', spent 'without Business'. He signs off: Farewell ye honest and simple People. May ye long enjoy that Happiness which is denied to more polished Nations; and while they are engaged in the endless pursuits of avarice and ambition, defended by your barren mountains, may ye continue to live in Peace and Contentment, and know no wants but those of nature.' With this Rousseauesque benediction, Bogle completely elides his own role as trade negotiator.

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In this chapter I want to examine the version of East India affairs that Bogle offers for home consumption. How does Bogle represent his own activities, and how does he sustain family relations through correspondence? What literary models does he employ? What are the silences, the inconsistencies? We need to be aware that there are, inevitably, gaps in the archive. The Bogle papers preserved at the India Office Library, the British Library and the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, consist of journals, notebooks, letter books, private letters, official correspondence and legal documents. The Glasgow collection comprises the Bogle family papers; largely letters from George Bogle, with a few from his father and male relatives, and a clutch from his friend William Richardson, then secretary to the ambassador at St Petersburg. This collection had been 'judiciously sorted and arranged' by a family friend, before being consulted by Clements Markham who, in 1876, brought out an edition of Bogle's journal of his mission to Bhutan and Tibet. The papers may have been culled at this stage to conceal the existence of Bogle's two illegitimate daughters, argues Hugh Richardson in a study of the Bogle family genealogy. These two girls, whose mother was probably Tibetan, were sent to be raised at the family home at Daldowie, after Bogle's death at the early age of thirty-four. Scarcely any trace of them or their mother remains in the correspondence: George Bogle was only twenty-eight when he was appointed first British envoy to Bhutan and Tibet, just four years after his arrival in India in 1770. The aim of the mission was to conclude a trade treaty between Bengal and Tibet to open up the route through Bhutan. For some years it had been East India Company policy to explore the possibilities of trans-Himalayan trade. Tibet was seen as a way into China that would avoid the restrictions placed on the Company at Canton. Such concerns became more pressing following the financial losses sustained by the Company during the terrible Bengal famine of 1769-1770. It was the Bhutanese invasion of Cooch Behar, a small state bordering on Bengal, which provided the Governor General, Warren Hastings, with the occasion to expand British influence in the area. The Raja of Cooch Behar appealed to Calcutta for military aid which was provided on condition that the Company gain sovereignty of the state. After the British defeat of Bhutanese forces in 1773, Hastings responded positively to peace overtures made by Lobsang Palden Yeshe, the Third Panchen Lama of Tibet (known by the British as the Teshu Lama), a man of great talent and initiative, who had risen to a position of political influence in Tibet and the neighbouring states during the minority of the Eighth Dalai Lama. It was in response to the Panchen Lama's peace initiative that Bogle was appointed ambassador to Bhutan and Tibet. Bogle's letters home provide an exceptional account of British life in Calcutta of the 1770s, and offer a fascinating record of the first mission to Bhutan and Tibet. While his observations on Bengali life are heavily influenced by contemporary notions of Indian culture and character, Bogle is a much more sympathetic observer of the Bhutanese and Tibetans. He is perhaps best known for the account of his friendship with the Third Panchen Lama of Tibet, apparently a relationship of mutual respect and affection which developed during

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Bogle's five-month stay. But among the greatest attractions of his letters home, particularly those to his sisters, are their stylistic inventiveness and playful intimacy. Punctuated by pet names and filled with nostalgic invocations of childhood, they serve to create a private family space. But this domestic space must also accommodate unfamiliar cultures. In what guise is the Orient admitted to the home? By asking such questions, by tracing Bogle's multiple epistolary identities, we may hope to catch the process of textual, social and colonial selffashioning at work. The youngest child of a prominent Glasgow tobacco merchant, George had four sisters and two brothers. Hi,s mother died when he was thirteen, and the following year he briefly attended Edinburgh University to study logic, before transferring to a private academy at Enfield to continue his education to the age of eighteen. Six months' travel in France was followed by four years' work as a clerk in the London counting house of his brother Robert's import firm of Bogle and Scott. From there, through the influence of friends, he gained an appointment as writer in the East India Company. Bogle arrived in Calcutta at the height of the devastating Bengal famine. In September 1770 he wrote to his brother Robert (Robin) of famine victims dying in the streets, a shocking and pathetic sight. In Bogle's account the Calcutta government supply as much grain as possible, thus absolving the East India Company of any responsibility for the suffering. By the following year, how,ever, Bogle attributes the escalation in the price of rice to the stockpiling activities of individuals. s These charges recur in an anonymous account of the famine published in the British press the same year which accuses Company servants of profiteering and criminal negligence: of withholding rice from the market and forcibly buying grain at fixed prices.' Indeed, the famine would become one of the central issues in attacks on the Company in subsequent years. While Bogle may have censored, ignored or simply not been aware of the allegations against the Company in September 1770, it is clear that the famine itself was not considered a suitable topic for his female correspondents. Writing to his sister Martha (Mrs Brown) at precisely the same time as the letter to Robert, Bogle omits any mention of it. He chooses rather to describe the ease and indulgence of the life of young Company servants in Calcutta, complete with an account of their riotous behaviour at meal times: 'after Supper it is usual to pelt one another with Bread, and even to throw Shoulders of Mutton and Dishes of Meat at one another - this last however is confined to the cold Season, and is one of the Winter Amusements; which I suppose will be exhibited in about two months hence - How I tremble for my fine Triquete waistcoat'.7 Bogle's touch remains light and the tone gently ironic throughout. There is no hint that such conspicuous wastage might be considered inappropriate, not to say grotesque, in the circumstances. Bogle invariably avoids 'weighty' issues in his letters to his sisters; politics, commerce, his own career -'all are excluded. Such fluctuations of manner and matter are of course common to letter collections, as Patricia Meyer Spacks has noted. Spacks observes that when we read through a body of correspondence, as

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we see 'the writer's tone and material shift from one correspondent to another, see sometimes virtually different selves emerging in different epistolary relationships, we may feel caught in a world of undependable narrators'. For the self revealed in letters 'is specifically a writing self that gains its very identity from its dialectic with other selves'. 8 Those other selves, the correspondents, of course occupy varying positions in relation to the writer according to, among other things, their gender and class or family status. We also need to ask what particular considerations might be brought to bear on a servant of the East India Company writing home in the 1770s. The decade saw the first public expression of uneasiness over the conduct of Company servants in Bengal, with charges of extortion and profiteering levelled at Company servants who returned home hugely enriched (the so-called 'nabobs') and a parliamentary enquiry into the financial activities of the former Commander-in-Chief, Robert Clive. For the first time then, the character of the colonial official was subject to public scrutiny. Bogle inevitably fashions his epistolary identities in the light of such interrogation. So in November 1772, Bogle writes to reassure his father of the probity of his own and the Company's current conduct in response to 'the writings they publish in England of the lawless Behaviour of the Company's Servants'! As in all the letters to his ageing father, Bogle adopts a dutiful tone of filial obedience and sobriety. His father's shakily written replies are full of pious injunctions, warnings about the all-seeing eye of Providence and shrewd advice on career progress. Bogle's letters to his brother Robert, by contrast, are considerably less measured, positively thrilling at the idea of easy money. Writing in 1770, two years before the parliamentary enquiry, Bogle observes that he cannot help regretting, the Gilded Days that are past and gone, when a man was almost certain of a Fortune by Trade ... It was good fishing in muddy waters - And afterwards when everything was settled and these Provinces were to all Intents and Purposes our own, and the People inti rely under our Government, and Protection, they have been squeezed and oppressed, in spite of every Order from home or every Regulation that was made here, and Individuals have carried home Princely Fortunes. 0 my dear Robin how amazed you would be to learn the way in which Money has been made in this Country - and how different Peoples Characters are here from what they are III England. 'o

Bogle at once confides and tantalises; the scandals come without names or details. But then, as he explains to Robert a week later, he is not entirely at his ease writing letters sent by the Company packet, for he has been told that they are sometimes opened and read; if he wishes to write in confidence, he will send letters by a private hand, and he recommends his brother to do the same. On this occasion he writes two versions of the same letter, a self-censored one for the packet, and an uncensored one to be carried by a passenger on the same ship. In the letter sent privately, he tells Robert of the continuing evasion of orders from London, and of the abuses practised by Company servants who accept 'Presents' or fix the price of rice in the provinces under their control. 11

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Bogle the correspondent, then, operates under various external and internal constraints: the fear of interception, the need to assert his integrity as a Company servant, and the desire to frame his accounts according to his correspondents' interests and status. There is also the consideration of the letter as literary performance or intellectual display. A letter's audience may be wider than the named recipient. Bogle's father writes that he has perused the letters sent by George to his sisters on the outward voyage, and commends his son's powers of invention, as he never repeats himself. For Bogle senior, epistolary skill stands as a measure of mental agility and as a pleasing indication of future career prospects (George promises to be 'a great Comfort' to his father in his old age)." Indeed his father's words are strangely prophetic, for Bogle's talent as a writer would later win him the favour of Hastings, the Governor-General. In praising the variety of Bogle's letters, his father selects one of the qualities by which, according to Keith Stewart, the eighteenth-century familiar letter was generally judged. The two other stylistic criteria were 'ease', that is a natural style implying sincerity, and 'vivacity', the capacity to arouse attention and imagination. 13 While such categories are difficult to apply retrospectively, it seems to me that Bogle's letters home, particularly those to his sisters, fulfil them admirably. Engaging and playful, the letters to his married sister Martha in London, to Mary, Elizabeth and Anne at the family home in Daldowie, address a range of topics: the condition of Indian women, social life in Calcutta, childhood reminiscences, methods of butter-making, Tibetan ghosts. There is a stylistic inventiveness and freedom in these letters, rarely encountered in those to male correspondents. Bogle is at his most Sterne-like in a letter written to Anne in October 1771 which spirals into an orientalist parody. Bogle begins by asking what has become of an admirer of Anne's, a Mr A--t, but breaks off as if such information were a state secret: 'I was in great Hopes - but no more of that lest this Letter should be taken by Pirates, and fall into the Hands of Strange Folks'. The vulnerability of the letter in its epic journey across the ocean appears to suggest the figure of the romance heroine, for it is this role which Bogle assigns next to Anne. Determined to visit her brother in India, Anne attempts to cross the Arabian desert. She is captured, sold as a slave, and married to Haran Alrasheid (the Caliph of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments) or his son Albarassin:

o what a Charming Story will your Life be - The Riches and Jewells you will be mistress of Hundreds of Slaves to attend you, all the Delicacies of Nature - all the Perfumes of Persia, all the Spices of Arabia lavished at your feet. Passing the Day in Cool and Shady Bowers, with Melodious Birds and Cascades of Rose Water, listening to the Tales of a Daughter of Circassia - In the Evening a Collation of the most exquisite fruits and Wines, where the charming Albarassin repairs, and after presenting you with costly Offerings, and many Compliments upon the Charms of your Person, entreats you to relate the Adventures of your Life - What a Conflict there is between Truth and Pride - If I tell him that my Father was a Merchant that I have three Brothers Merchants, and Traders, in how mean a light shall I be considered by this warlike Son of the Desert, - I will say that my father was a Chief in the Court of the King, and

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Epistolary Selves commanded the left Wing of his Army, on that fatal Day when he lost his life in Battle, and you your Liberty - here have some Tears Ready - that the cruel Invaders carried you Prisoner, and sold you to the Merchants of the Caravan &c &c - But what are they doing at Daldowie all this time - There indeed is sad lamentation - Ah says my Father I always told her what would happen but you young Lasses will take no advice, speaking to Mary & Bess, & Nancy Bogle, - 0 (says Mary) Pappa Dont say that for you know we were always against her going - Poor Annie says Bess with a Deep Sigh - Upon my word says Nancy she seems to have fallen on her feet, and I wish everyone could get as good a Match, I dare say he will treat her vastly well - Then my father laments your being married to a Mahometan - Moll & Bess - that you will never see your freinds again & that they will never see you, and Nancy at last persuades my father to try to ransom you."

Bogle decks his story with all the stock orienta list furniture: jewels, slaves, perfumes and bowers. Weaving his tale around his sister, Bogle involves her directly in the narrative. The Annie character is prompted with stage directions ('here have some Tears Ready') and made to collude with the orientalist fantasy when she lies about her origins to impress the charming prince. When we remember that this letter began with a query about Anne's admirer, known only as Mr A--t, it seems that Bogle has recourse to the orientalist medium to speak to his sister about female desire. But the seductive Eastern fantasy evaporates when the scene shifts to the Bogle family home. Here the dialogue takes a realist turn, with Father always knowing best, the sisters justifying themselves, and cousin Nancy envying Annie's good fortune. Bogle concludes by suggesting that perhaps it would be best after all if Anne were chaperoned in her travels by his reliable elderly munchi, or Persian teacher. Then, after a narrow break on the page, Bogle returns to a conventional letter-writing mode, expressing his delight at receiving news of the good health of family and friends. The inserted tale is a charming digression, a knowing literary game. The Arabian Nights' Entertainments version of the Orient which Bogle sends to Daldowie would have been a familiar one; the English version of Galland's collection was highly influential in eighteenthcentury Britain, although generally regarded as suitable reading only for women and children.l.< But as we shall see, Bogle often evokes childhood memories or employs a feminised discourse to characterise his experience of the East. And in a sense, Scheherazade is a fitting figure for Bogle the letter-writer, for the narrative or flow of correspondence is coterminous with life itself; as Janet Altman has noted, 'It1o write is to live when the letter is literally the only sign of life'. i6 This association of letters with the life-force is particularly appropriate in the case of India, where the mortality rate for Europeans was notoriously high. Much of the charm of the letter derives from its apparent inconsequentiality. It recreates a sense of family intimacy and exclusivity with the story-telling scene. The desire to re-assert familial relationships dominates many of Bogle's letters. He is engaged in what Altman has called the 'impossible task of making his reader present'." As many critics have observed, one of the stylistic techniques employed by letter-writers to give the impression of presence and immediacy is to mimic the informality of oral speech." In his letters to his sisters, Bogle attempts

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to conduct written conversations. This is not just a matter of approximating his own spoken voice, but also of writing his sisters' parts. In a letter of 23 September 1770, Bogle advises Anne (whom he calls by the pet name of Chuffes) to follow his own letter-writing practice: I write whenever I have spare Hour on my Hands & send my Letters when I can. I wish you wou'd follow the same Plan in writing to me and not waite till you hear from London that the Lord Something Indiaman is to sail soon & then you finish your Epistle, with a 'realy I intended to have wrote you a longer Letter but, as my Brother tells my father that there is a Ship to sail next week I have time for no more' - Indeed Chuffes it is an excuse I will not admit of - but I expect that when ever anything strikes you in the Noddle that you wish to let me know - you will down with it once upon Paper, no trusting to Memory or Apoligy for a bad Pen - send me out your Quills and I will make them for you, and you know the making of Pens is the thing I pique myself upon, as being my Forte. 0 George George will you never give over these outlandish Words? Indeed my Dear Chuffes they are quite homely ones in comparison of those I am now learning - and the next time you see me, pray don't be surprised if I grace my Conversation with Persian or Moors Words, which will certainly have a Charming Effect." In framing his request fo~ longer letters, Bogle (the youngest member of the family) teasingly assumes a position of fraternal dominance: issuing instructions and parading his linguistic sophistication. Indeed it appears that Anne inhabits a world where the composition and transmission of letters are controlled by male relatives. When Bogle writes of his brother's message to his father about ships' departures, he touches on a major preoccupation of colonial correspondence: the workings of the mail. The voyage of the 'Lord Something Indiaman' would last around six months, but could be delayed by contrary winds for weeks, if not months. A ship would leave Calcutta for Britain every month or six weeks during the sailing season from September to April.20 The receipt and transmission of mail was therefore seasonal, with the whole cycle (that is, the time required to receive an answer to a letter) taking at least sixteen months. 21 These problems were compounded for Bogle on his mission, when Bhutanese messengers had to carry letters across the great Himalayan range, impassable during the winter months. 22 The difficulties of conveyance caused Bogle to send copies of some of the mission letters to his family only on his return to CaJcutta.2J Little wonder then that scenes of letter composition and receipt occur frequently in the collection. The arrival of letters from home often provides the occasion for the expression of sentiment and family feeling. Writing from Tashicho Dzong, the capital of Bhutan in August 1774, Bogle tells his sister Elizabeth that he has received a packet of her letters, dated April, June and September of the preceding year. He has read her letters 'over and over again', he will not say how often, but he has 'just given them another Reading'.24 This tribute to the value of his sister's letters is followed by a reflection on the pain of separation. The Bogies, like so many Glasgow families, were involved in colonial trading enterprises across the globe: Bogle's middle brother John was a merchant in Virginia and, after the collapse of the London firm, his eldest brother Robert

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managed a sugar plantation in Grenada. Distance, for Bogle, sharpens the faculty of feeling: 'The Country People who live among ,their Freinds and Relations are strangers to the Pangs of Parting, and to the Sollicitude of Aosence. But they know not the Knell of Joy which your Letters give me, and the Tear which now starts from my Eye is worth an age of their vegetable Affection'.25 Sensibility is here defined in terms of class status. As the tears mingle with delight, Bogle enjoys an exquisite rush of emotion denied to the agricultural labouring classes. Bogle the Company servant shares in that capacity for feeling associated with merchant heroes since the sentimental drama of Steele and Lillo. Pleasure and pain are compounded in the experience of the letter which, as Altman has argued, is an emblem both of separation and connection. 26 The letter also acts for Bogle as a memorial to times past; he goes on to tell Elizabeth that he wishes he could have spent longer with his brother Robert at Daldowie: But Alas, our Destinies have wove for us a different Web. We are scattered over the Face of the Earth, and are united only by Hope and a tender Remembrance. Let us cherish these as the only Pledge that is left us; and while you are passing chearful Evenings at Daldowie; while Robin with his Negroes (and happy are they that are under him) is planting his Sugar Canes and while I am climbing these rugged Mountains, there is a secret Virtue like a Magnet which attracts us together and chears or solaces us in every situation. 27

In this sentimental discourse, destiny stands for empire and slaves are happy (although the parenthesis inevitably implies the possibility of ill-treatment). The brothers cherish memories of the home where Bess resides in cheerful domesticity - reading this very letter. Correspondence and sentiment here unite to ease the grief of separation and sustain the benign work of colonialism. In the letter to Elizabeth, Bogle characteristically omits to explain precisely what he is doing climbing 'these rugged Mountains'. Writing to Anne at around the same time, Bogle represents himself as a hapless wanderer: . But where are you got to, say you, with your Valleys and your Boots [Bhutanese]? It is a hard Question; but I think with my Father's Assistance, Molly's Knowledge in Geography which she learned at Miss Anderson's, and her namesakes maps which used to lye in the Cradle that once had Gold Fringes, you may be able to conjure within about forty or fifty miles whereabouts I am and that is as near as I can find out myself. For it has been by such Turnings and Windings, Ups and Downs, that I have got here that I protest I am as much at a loss as if I had been playing Blind Man's Buff."

The precision with which Bogle locates the maps at home presents a striking contrast to the vagueness of his current situation. In this letter Bogle seems more concerned to reaffirm childhood co-ordinates than geographical ones. Bogle turns his mission into a game and represents himself as blindfolded and helpless. With this gesture of self-infantilisation, he apparently renounces any claim to authority or control. In his letters to his sisters, Bogle typically distances himself from his actual project of commercial reconnaissance and diplomatic negotiation, for despite his assertions to the contrary, every stage of the journey is observed

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and annotated in detail. Indeed before his departure, Bogle had been specifically instructed by Hastings to keep a diary, inserting whatever passes before your Observation which shall be characteristic of the People, the country, the climate, or the road, their Manners, Customs, Buildings, Cookery, &c., or interesting to the Trade of this Country, Carrying with you a pencil and Pocket-book for the purpose of minuting short Notes of every Fact or Remark as it occurs, and putting them in order at your Leisure while they are fresh in your Memory.2' From the start then, the mission was also a textual enterprise. Bogle was to chart the unknown territory beyond the northern borders of Bengal and the resulting journal was part of his official report. The party which made up the mission comprised of Bogle, a Company surgeon named Alexander Hamilton, the Lama's agent Purangir Gosain, and a retinue of servants. But in his letters to his father and male friends, Bogle tends to write himself into the role of lone explorer; generally employing the first person singular, invoking such figures as Robinson Crusoe (as we saw earlier), and claiming to be the first Company servant ever to enter the region. 30 For his sisters, however, he exchanges the heroic for a mock-heroic voice. When the embassy arrived at Tashicho Dzong, Bogle was officially received by the Deb Raja of Bhutan. Bogle sends an illustrated account of this occasion to Anne, as an 'Opportunity of exercizing ... [her] risible Faculties': But it is time I should make you acquainted with the Company and let you know where you are. In order to get a clear Idea of the Deb Rajah's Presence Chamber you have only to look at the very elegant plan of it annexed. He was dressed in his Sacerdotal Habit, a scarlet collour gilded Mitre on his Head, and an Umbrella with Fringes twirling over him. He is a pleasant looking old Man with a smirking Countenance. On each side of his Officers and Ministers to the Number of a dozen were seated upon Cushions close to the Wall, and the Rest of the Company stood in the area or among the Pillars. The Pannells of the Room and also the Ceiling were covered with Chineze sewed Landscapes and different Colloured Sattins, the Pulpit was gilded, and many Silver and gilt Vases about it and the Floor all around was laid with Carpets. At the opposite End of the Apartment and behind where I sat, several large Chineze Images were placed in a kind of Nich or Alcove with Lamps of Butter burning before them, and ornamented with Elephants' Teeth, little Silver Temples, China ware, Silks, Ribbons and other Gew Gaws. Among these I must not forget a solitary Print of Lady Waldgrave, whom I had afterwards the good Fortune to be the Means of rescuing out of the Hands of these Idols. For it happening to strike some of the Courtiers, whither the Upholsterer, the Chamberlain or a Page, I cannot pretend to say; that Lady Waldgrave would make a pretty Companion to a Looking Glass I had given the Rajah, she was hung up on one of the Pillars next the throne, and the Mirror on the other, and as I would wish to give you the best and latest Accounts, you may depend upon it that things continue still in that posture." With a Sterne-like flourish, Bogle inserts a diagram into the text (Figure 1). The plan - a form better suited to illustrate a military engagement than a state

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Figure 1. Plan of the reception chamber of the Deb Raja of Bhutan inserted in a letter of George Bogle to his sister Anne Bogle, 1774.

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reception - is itself a kind of parody with entries such as 'Looking Glass', 'Lady Waldgrave', 'Idols' and 'Me'. Bogle's account of his knight errantry (rearranging the furniture) has something of the bathos of mock-epic, and the exotic 'Gew Gaws' on the altar recall Belinda's cluttered dressing table in Pope's The Rape of the Lock. Bogle's adoption of the mock-heroic manner, where style and matter collide to comic effect, is perhaps a response to the moment of cultural collision: the sight of a Buddhist shrine adorned with a print of Lady Waldegrave, Duchess of Gloucester. This scene has interesting affinities with the nineteenth-century colonial 'myth of origin' identified by Homi Bhabha as 'the scenario, played out in the wild and wordless wastes of colonial India, Africa, the Caribbean, of the sudden, fortuitous discovery of the English book'.32 For Bhabha, this is a moment which at once reinforces and interrogates colonial authority; for while the book's unexpected presence testifies to the universal power of the English text, the book itself appears in a strangely distorted or dislocated form. We may detect something of this unsettling displacement in Bogle's account, light-hearted though it is. For here cultural appropriation is figured as abduction or sexual violation (Lady Waldegrave in the hands of the idols) and at the end, Bogle is at pains to stress that decorum has been restored. But the dominant tone of the letter is that of gentle ridicule, both of the state ceremonial of the court and Bogle's own masculine dignity. He goes on to tell his sister about the formal presentation of a robe: a water Tabby Gown, like what Aunt Katty used to wear, with well-plated Haunches was put on me: a red Sattin Handkerchief was tied round me for a Girdle ... Thus attired I paid twO or three Visits to some of the Officers in the Palace, and walked home like Mordecai, in great State to my Lodgings - 0 that you had been but there to have seen me - I believe I would have sent my Robes by you to Jenny Gilchrist, but being without this opportunity, I have converted them into a Night Gown, in which I have the Honour to write you."

The investiture in Bhutanese robes represents a potentially disturbing moment of alienation; an anxiety which emerges here through a series of images which confuse gender roles. Cultural cross-dressing turns into transvestite performance with Bogle in his shot-silk gown playing Aunt Katty and Jenny Gilchrist, his old nurse. Between these two Glaswegian women appears Mordecai the Jew, gorgeously attired in royal apparel, a sign of favour from the King of Persia and Media. At once domestic and oriental, ancient and modern, feminine and masculine, Bogle turns himself into a pantomime figure. The fast-shifting analogies distract the reader from the political significance of the scene as a display of amity between Bhutan and the East India Company. And as he signs off, Bogle asserts his original cultural and gender identity by demoting the royal robes to a nightgown, worn at the time of writing. The description of dress is characteristic of Bogle's letters to female correspondents. He enthuses about the warmth and practicality of loose Tibetan clothing, detailing his outfit: a satin gown lined with Siberian fox fur, a cap faced

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with sable and Russian red leather boots.J4 Clothes would have fallen into his correspondents' sphere of conventional feminine concerns, but in these letters Bogle also explores the importance of dress as a sign of identity; to Martha, for instance, he writes a semi-serious disquisition on the influence of dress on national character. 35 The focus on clothing is suggestive too of the role of Bogle the letter-writer, donning different guises to suit different correspondents, engaged in that epistolary performance which Cynthia Lowenthal has called the 'theatrical costuming of the self in various languages and styles'.3. Indeed, Bogle makes this connection between dress and epistolary style himself when he writes of his delight in his sister Anne's ill-structured letters: 'Her Ideas look best in negligee' .37 Bogle's sartorial relish recalls Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's elaborate account of her Turkish habit in the Turkish Embassy Letters. 38 In fact Bogle cites Wortley Montagu when he compares his own intimate acquaintance with the Panchen Lama to her adventures (referring no doubt to her entrance into the harem and Turkish baths); describing both of them as 'enjoying advantages, which no European Traveller before ... ever possessed'.l. The parallel at once feminises Bogle and makes claims for the literary status of his letters. The 'advantages' that Wortley Montagu enjoyed, conferred by her gender and class, allowed her to move with relative ease in aristocratic Turkish circles, and caused her to dismiss earlier travellers' versions of the Levant as fictitious.'o She was particularly impressed by the refinement of harem manners, recounting in detail her social calls on Turkish ladies and the gracious entertainment she received. Bogle entered into relationships of even greater intimacy with members of the ruling classes of Tibet. His protracted negotiations at the Bhutanese court finally resulted in a invitation from the Panchen Lama to travel on to Tibet. During his five months' residence at the Panchen Lama's palaces, Bogle conversed extensively with the Lama, played chess with members of his retinue, went on a hunting expedition with his nephews, attended Buddhist festivals, and even composed a history of Europe at the Lama's request. Like Wortley Montagu, Bogle discounts earlier travel accounts as inauthentic and celebrates friendship across the cultural divide. Throughout his correspondence, in both his official and familiar letters, the Lama is described in the most glowing of terms: attentive, obliging, affable, charitable, humane.'J For his sister Elizabeth, these qualities are manifested in the Lama's solicitude to provide acceptable food for Bogle's breakfast." Such domestic concerns and such testimony of affection serve once again to relocate Bogle's mission in the personal rather than the political sphere. Yet it could be said that the friendship with the Panchen Lama was indeed Bogle's major diplomatic achievement. This alliance was commemorated in a painting of around 1775 by the Calcutta artist Tilly Kettle which represents the Panchen Lama's reception of Bogle (Figure 2). Bogle is depicted standing on the left (perhaps wearing the robe presented by the Deb Raja) while the seated Lama accepts a ceremonial white scarf. Michael Aris has pointed out that while some of the details of the scene are authentically Bhutanese or Tibetan, there are a number of inaccuracies: no-one would have smoked or worn hats in the Lama's

.......

\D

Figure 2. The Third Panchen Lama receives George Bogle at Tashilhunpo. Oil painting by Tilly Kettle, c. 1775.

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presence. 43 The painting is now in the Royal Collection and is thought to have been presented by Hastings to George III; a striking testimony to the political significance attributed to the alliance between Bogle and the Panchen Lama (and charming record of Bogle's penchant for cultural cross-dressing). As far as trade was concerned, Bogle's mission was less successful. The route through Bhutan remained closed to East India Company servants; British goods could enter Bhutan only through the agency of non-European traders. Bogle attributed this restriction to the intervention of the Chinese residents, or am bans, stationed at Lhasa, who monitored the direction of Tibetan policy. In the Panchen Lama, Bogle saw a possible future mediator between the Company and the Emperor of China. After Bogle's return to Bengal, relations between the British and the Lama were cemented by the gift of a plot of land in Calcutta for the establishment of a monastic house. Five years later, the Lama visited Peking, and was to arrange a passport for Bogle to join him to conduct negotiations with the Chinese authorities. But these plans came to nothing: the Lama succumbed to smallpox at Peking and died there in 1780, and Bogle himself died in Calcutta the following year. Among the Bogle family papers in Glasgow survives an emblem of this intended alliance in the form of a photograph of a Buddhist rosary, probably sent

Figure 3. Photograph of a Buddhist rosary. The presence of the main central strand of beads is unusual and may suggest that the rosary was first dismantled and then reconstructed.

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by Bogle to his sister Martha (Figure 3). An accompanying letter explains that the beads were given to Bogle by the Lama who received them from the Emperor of China. This gesture of political and personal amity, is then replayed in the family setting. Bogle requests that his sister tie one strand of the beads around the neck of her favourite child, and distribute the rest among the children of Bogle's relatives and friends. 44 He comments: 'You will say this is a whimsical Direction - but I dont know the use of these Beads but to wear about Childrens Necks, or as a Token of my Remembrance and a Relique picked up on my present Pilgrimage - in this light you will please to consider it - and then the Emperor's Cornellians will acquire an imperial Value'.4s Here, Bogle reaches the culmination of his career as sentimental pilgrim. The Emperor's rosary, originally a sign of political favour, achieves imperial status only as a sentimental souvenir, restrung and distributed among the Bogle family and friends (although the photograph, which shows the rosary either intact or reconstructed, suggests that the Bogies may not have followed this direction). Drained of its political significance, the exotic is to be dismantled and reassembled in domesticated form. This act of sentimental appropriation is a characteristic technique of Bogle's correspondence, and perhaps more widely of colonial letter writing in general. The rosary also furnishes a suitable concluding image, for Bogle conceived of colonial correspondence itself as a chain to link to the mother country, a guarantee of national identity, and a kind of aide-memoire for the affections. Writing to his sister Anne, he demands news from home, for 'the memory of our early Friends and Acquaintances is the Chain that attaches us to our native Country, and we cannot forego the one without dissolving the other'.4. Notes I am indebted to Michael Aris, Hugh Richardson and Hamish Whyte for their help with my research on Bogle. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

India Office Library and Records [IOLR), MSS Eur E226/77(c). To John Stewart, June 1774. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/77(c). To Hastings, 16 October 1774. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/25. To Bess,S March 1775. H.E. Richardson (1982), 'George Bogle and his Children', The Scottish Genealogist, vol. 29, p. 80. Mitchell Library [ML), Bogle Collection. Letter book 1770-71, ff. 148-9. To Robert Bogle Senior, Calcutta, 10 April 1771. Gentleman's Magazine (1771), XLI, pp. 402-404; London Magazine (1771), pp. 469-471; Annual Register (1771), 'Appendix to the Chronicle', pp. 205-208. ML, Bogle Collection. To Matty, Calcutta, 7 September 1770. Patricia Meyer Spacks (1988), 'Forgotten Genres', Modern Language Studies, vol. 18, pp. 51, 56. ML, Bogle Collection. To George Bogle, 13 November 1772. ML, Bogle Collection. To Robin, Calcutta, 20 December 1770. ML, Bogle Collection. To Robin, Calcutta, 26 December 1770. ML, Bogle Collection. To George Bogle, Daldowdie, 11 December 1770. Keith Stewart (1982), 'Towards Defining an Aesthetic for the Familiar Letter In Eighteenth-Century England', Prose Studies, vol. 5, pp. 186-187.

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14. ML, Bogle Collection, To Annie, Calcutta, 31 October 1771. 15. Robert L. Mack (1995), Arabian Nights' Entertainments, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. xvi-xviii. 16. Janet Gurkin Altman (1982), Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form, Ohio State University Press, Columbus, p. 149. 17. Altman (1982), p. 135. 18. See, for example, Altman (1982), p. 136; Charles A. Porter (1986), 'Forward', Yale French Studies, vol. 71, p. 4; Cynthia Lowenthal (1994), Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Eighteenth-Century Letter, University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia, pp. 29-30. 19. ML, Bogle Collection, To Annie, Calcutta, 23 September 1770. 20. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/77(a). To Annie, Calcutta, 25 August 1770. 21. K.N. Chaudhuri (1978), The Trading World of Asia and the English East India Company, 1600-1760, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 74. 22. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/23. To Hastings, 27 April 1775; IOLR MSS Eur E226/80. To Bess, Tashilhunpo, 30 December 1774. 23. ML, Bogle collection, To the family at Daldowdie, Calcutta, 30 March 1776. 24. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/78. To Miss B. Bogle. 25. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/78. To Miss B. Bogle. 26. Altman (1982), p. 15. 27. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/78. To Miss B. Bogle. 28. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/78. To Miss A. Bogle. 29. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/6. Private Commissions to Mr Bogle. 30. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/77(c). To John Stewart, June 1774; To George Bogle, June 1774. 31. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/77(c). 32. Homi K. Bhabha. (1994), The Location of Culture, Routledge, London, p. 102. 33. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/77(c). 34. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/80, To Mrs Brown, 3 November 1774; To unspecified female correspondent, 27 November 1774. 35. IOLR, MSS Eur E226!77(k). To Mrs Brown, Tashilhunpo, 8 March 1775. 36. Lowenthal (1994), p. 21. 37. ML, Bogle collection, To Bess, Calcutta, 31 August 1771. 38. Mary Wortley Montagu (1992), Letters, David Campbell Publishers, pp. 114-115. 39. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/80. To Robin, Tashilhunpo, 8 January 1775. 40. Wortley Montagu (1992), p. 146. 41. See, for instance, IOLR, MSS Eur E226/77(h). To Hastings, Desheripgay, 5 December 1774; IOLR, MSS Eur E226/77(i). To George Bogle, Tashilhunpo, 8 January 1775. 42. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/80. To Bess, Tashilhunpo, 30 December 1774. 43. Michael Aris (1982), Views of Medieval Bhutan: the Diary and Drawings of Samuel Davis, 1783, Serendia, London, pp. 18-19. 44. Clements Markham includes a wood engraving and detailed description of the rosary in the introduction to his edition of Bogle's journal. See Clements R. Markham (1876), Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to TIbet and of the Journey of Thomas Mannmg to Lhasa, Triibner and Co., London, pp. cxliil-cxlv. 45. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/80. To Mrs Brown, Desheripgay, 3 November 1774. 46. IOLR, MSS Eur E226/78. To Miss A. Bogle.

6 Letters, social networks and the embedded economy in Sweden: some remarks on the Swedish bourgeoisie, 1800-1850 Ylva Hasselberg I forgot to tell you in my last letter that Muncktell would like to buy your fox· skins and present them to his wife for Christmas. (Maria Gahn to I.G. Clason, 11 November 1813) Mrs Gahn in Stockholm has written to Mrs Muncktell and told her that Christina K. has become engaged to ].E. Clason, I knew it already from Maria, who has received a letter from Christina, but it was not to be told. The news is joyful to us all. (Lotta Theel to I.G. Clason, 1813) I forgot to answer your last letter concerning the drawing of the wind-machine. I cannot remember having received such a drawing from you, except for the one of Jacob's English water-bellows ... (Henrica Gahn to I.G. Clason, 7 June 1821)

These quotations are taken from letters, and they concern letters. Although only brief passages extracted from a few of the more than ten thousand letters sent to one man during his lifetime, it is possible to discern several types of information in them. They are typical of the letters sent to this particular man, in that they focus on communication - and often written communication - as a very basic constituent of life, and in that they contain information about and discussion of a wide range of topics. What can we learn from these letters? I believe that we can learn many things, some of which are relevant not only to the medium of letter writing, but to a general understanding of the community which produced them. In order to structure the knowledge attained through the study of letters, I shall begin with a general description of the social and economic milieu in which they originated. I will then discuss on a more theoretical level the conclusions that could be drawn concerning the rationality of which these letters were a part. I will try to

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demonstrate how letters, their form and contents as well as the culture of letter writing, affected and were shaped by this rationality.

The Clason letters The addressee of the letters quoted above was the Swedish ironmaster Isaac Gustaf Clason, the owner of Furudal ironworks in the province of Dalecarlia in Sweden. The Furudal ironworks has one feature which makes it very suitable for a study of letters and letter writing: it is situated practically in the middle of nowhere. Ironworks, because of the dependence on ore, charcoal and water power, were often situated in areas where the supply of these raw materials and this form of energy was plentiful, or at least where it was not severely limited. In addition, it was the policy of the Swedish state to prohibit the establishment of ironworks in areas where the raw materials were needed for the production of pig iron. Because of these circumstances many Swedish ironworks were located at quite a distance from urban milieux.' Although it is not primarily the geography of the ironworks or the natural resources which interest us, these factors were of consequence. I refer to the fact that there was no bourgeois or middle-class community. The location's lack of business colleges or suitable families with whom to establish marital or other social alliances necessitated an intense written communication. Any matter which in an urban milieu, or in a more densely populated country area, it would have been possible to discuss in the local inn or coffee house, or during a daily visit in the neighbourhood, here had to be conveyed in a letter. Thus, ironically, the drawbacks of the organisation of communication has left us with a unique opportunity t9 study communication in its social environment. A simple quantitative survey of the letters received by I.G. Clason between 1810 and 1831, which is the period for which the sources are most satisfactory, -reveals the reception of approximately 640 letters a year. Taking into account that the sources are not complete for the first three years after 1810, and that certain very private letters - such as the engagement letters - have been excluded from this collection, the actual figure was most probably higher. Who were the authors of these letters? Authors belonged to different social groups, different occupational groups and, of course, to different sexes. I will not try to compare the letters by class affiliation. Instead I will concentrate on the letter-writing culture of the middle class, as a totality. This means that letters written by indebted peasant women, forgemen and clerks, and the like, will not enter into the discussion. What then, was the content of these letters? As can be seen from the quotations above, letters treated a wide range of subjects, one -letter often covering several topics. The letters received by I.G. Clason thus often contain information on the health and general situation of the author, family matters, 'gossip', prices and information regarding wares for sale, questions about technical matters, as well as requests for assistance in financial matters. Not every

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letter is of this broad character, but most letters contain a mix of topics that a present-day reader would see as belonging to two separate spheres: the private/social sphere and the public/economic sphere. The diversified character of letters must be seen in the light of the type of economy in which the individuals in question acted. In order to explain this statement I must dwell for a moment on the nature of the ironworks economy. The ironworks economy and the social sphere The management of a proto-industry, in a setting which was rural and preindustrial, demanded very diverse undertakings. The end product, which was bar iron and small amounts of manufactured iron, demanded involvement in a wide range of economic activities. Ironmasters owned farmland and administered the leasing out of it, or else bought grain in order to supply the needs of the smiths and other workers. Ironmasters had to be engaged in forestry, and they had to secure a supply of pig iron, either through direct purchase, or through the acquisition of a blast furnace. Managing a blast furnace would then imply an active interest in the mining business. Along with the demands, which were specific to this particular organisation of production, there were also the normal economic activities of the pre-industrial land-owning household. Cattle were kept, various plants were grown and textiles were produced within the household organisation. This of course ·also implied a fairly complex organisation of labour, both within the house itself, the domain of the mistress, and outside. Evidently, this type of diversified and rural economy is comparable with, and in fact quite similar to, the structure of a pre-industrial manor. It is important to understand that the economic and social structures pertaining to the Swedish ironworks economy are not entirely similar to the English equivalent. The ironmasters were also landowners, and belonged to the upper echelons of the Swedish bourgeoisie, along with substantial merchants, civil servants, and lawyers. The early nineteenth-century Swedish bourgeoisie was solidly incorporated into a society that in essence was still more feudal than capitalist. 2 What does the nature of the ironworks economy have to do with the importance of letter writing? The thesis presented here, which might seem so reasonable as to be almost self-evident, is that the crucial link between the two is information. The diversification of the economy created an exceptional need for information. In order to manage the business one had to be very well informed concerning a wide range of activities. It is important to note here that there was really no organised, general exchange of information in the form of newspapers, etc. Instead one relied on one's social contacts. In order to buy corn at a reasonable price, it was necessary to use every possible source of information concerning the development of the corn trade, both locally and nationally. In order to introduce technical innovations it was necessary to acquire information about them. In order to guard one's interests against other local ironworks

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owners, it was necessary to have information channels, so that one could quickly maintain or establish one's right, for example, to a new ore deposit. 3 The importance of information is thus an explanation for the heaps of letters that were exchanged. One could stop there, satisfied with the conclusion that letters were of great economic importance, and that the reason so many letters were exchanged was the diversification of the economy. That would, however, be about as interesting a conclusion as the statement that 'letters were relatively more important before the invention of the telephone', and equally analytic. It is, I think, possible to go further and acquire a deeper knowledge concerning the significance of letters. To begin with, the conclusion that letter writing was a part of the ironworks economy leaves many questions. How should one look at the fact that economic matters were mixed with non-economic matters in the letters? I think it also important to reflect on the fact that communication with other individuals was of such substantial importance for one's economic survival. What did that mean for the relations between the individuals who exchanged those letters? These questions require further analysis of letters, from another angk. It has already been stated that information on various economic matters was conveyed through letters. However, when one studies these letters over a period of time, another element in the letters appears worthy of reflection: the extraordinarily rich social life to which the letters bear witness. Even though the Clasons could not participate in all of these social events, as a consequence of their peripheral situation, letters still reveal a very active social life, especially on the part of friends and relatives. The centre of this social life was the city of Falun, situated some sixty kilometres south of Furudal. Here several relatives lived, including the father of the first Mrs Clason, who was also the uncle of the second Mrs Clason. (The two Mrs Cia sons were cousins.) Many of the social acquaintances and business relations of the Clasons also lived in Falun and its surroundings. The burghers of Falun were known for their very active social life. In a fortnight barely a single evening was spent in the quiet of the home, without guests. There were, of course, more active periods as well as periods which were calmer. As a rule, the burghers took turns in arranging receptions and balls, most of which would include some sort of meal, although often quite a simple one, and all of which would include dancing. The social life of Clasons and other middle-class families centred not only on balls and receptions, but also on extensive travelling. If one studies the patterns of movement of these people, it becomes evident that they were habitual travellers. I do not here refer to the educational trips of the young bourgeois, or other long distance travels, although such travelling might of course also be interesting to study. What I refer to is the travelling within the region: to fairs, to friends and relatives, to other ironworks owners. Th'is form of communication in fact was typical of the upper echelons of the middle class in the area studied. It is not suprising then to discover that the dividing line between the established bourgeoisie and the poorer strata of the middle class most often coincides with the ownership of a carriage.'

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Travelling or visiting was of course undertaken for several reasons. The reason was sometimes the need to buy some specific item or the attraction exerted by some technical innovation. To a surprisingly high extent, the motive for these short distance travels was social, in one way or another. These travels were undertaken with the purpose of visiting and upholding communication with certain other individuals. This could either be the direct purpose, or in other cases the social contact was a vehicle for achieving another goal. The task of socialising was so important that it often overshadowed other activities, such as the supervision of iron production. 5

Economic rationality and the existence of the public and the private What conclusion should be drawn from the existence of an active social life? Is the correct interpretation that a nineteenth-century businessman took a greater interest in learning the newest dances than in minding the iron business? In my opinion the assumption which is inherent in such a conclusion, namely the conflict between social and economic life, reveals more about the underlying assumptions of the scholar than about nineteenth-century businessmen. Such an assumption makes an indirect statement concerning our interpretation of the nature of economy and economic action. We thereby state our support for the idea that economy and economic action exists and has always existed in a sphere which is separate from our social life. This assumption, I would claim, is not correct. What I would like to argue here is that economic action and participation in social activities for the individuals and families in question were intertwined, and connected by a specific kind of rationality: the rationality of the social network. It is thus not possible to under~tand the priorities of a nineteenth-century bourgeois if one is not aware of the existence of the economy of social relations. Without this understanding, one would be tempted to start questioning the rationality of this pre-industrial capitalist. Our businessman is not exactly in line with Weber's 'spirit of capitalism,'· spending as he does more time on his social relations than on his company. Accepting the idea of the spirit of capitalism is then a short distance from accepting theories of the feudalisation of the bourgeoisie, and other similar hypotheses. In fact, a substantial part of the historical research on the bourgeoisie is directly or indirectly dependent on the thesis of the spirit of capitalism, and the goal of rational ising the businessman or bourgeois. 7 The thesis of the spirit of capitalism is however not relevant for the understanding of the early nineteenth-century Swedish bourgeoisie. This becomes evident when one links social relations to economic activities, and realises that they belonged to the same sphere. The crucial insight, I think, is that socialising was a necessary part of economic life, and that no distinction was made by the authors of these letters between a private sphere, to which family and friends belonged, and an economic sphere, to which the company or other economic

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undertakings belonged. Here we must return to the letters. The very broad character of the letters, which I have previously mentioned, is thus the result of this 'embedded' economy. The authors of the letters were likely to have multidimensional relationships with Clason. There is really no way of separating the letter-writers, so as to form categories, which then could be labelled: 'family', 'business partner', 'neighbour' and so forth. A large number of authors fit into more than one of these categories, and the contents of their letters demonstrate this multi-dimensionality. To speak of 'business letters' or 'family letters' would in this case mean turning a blind eye to the historical situation. This leads us to another important conclusion. The letters studied thus provide ample support not only for questioning the spirit of capitalism, but also for questioning the existence of the public and the private sphere. The emergence of this dichotomy, according to which Victorian middle-class life is said to have been constructed, is one of the most dominant ideas in current research.· The relevance of structuring history with the help of this dichotomy has already been questioned by historians focusing on women's history! The Clason letters gives us further reason to call into question the existence of the public and private sphere. This leads us back to the second question posed above, which is the embedded economy's impact on relations. to What did it mean to the relationship between two individuals, or more often two families, that economic success was to such a large extent dependent on such relationships? The answer to that question may be found in the rationality of the social network. This rationality is very clearly expressed in the letters that I have studied. The rationality of the social network The sociologist William Powell has delineated three forms for social interaction, Hierarchy, Market and Network. The differences between the three are, I think, obvious, and will not be discussed at any greater length. Powell's argument is as follows; a network relation is a relation which is non-hierarchical, interdependent and informal. This is in contrast to both hierarchical relations, which are hierarchical, dependent, and formal; and to market relations, which are nonhierarchical, independent and informal. Network relations are thus informal and mutual relations between people who are in a wider sense social equals." The relations that are expressed in the Clason letters can thus in my opinion often be characterised as network relations. This leads us to what the network is and how it functioned. What, more specifically, is the nature of a network relation in this context? Different scholars have used the concept of the network in various manners, so it is perhaps necessary for me to clarify my use of this term. To begin with, I, in accordance with Powell, find the functions of networks a more relevant object of research than their morphology. What interests me is how a network functions, and how these functions interact with continuity and change in society. I also see the functions as the basis for determining what a network really is. In

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this field, the study of letters is a source of invaluable knowledge. The form and contents of letters give us ample evidence of the functions, rules and practices of the network rationality in a particular historical context. I also believe that the practice of writing letters, the letter-writing culture itself, was highly influenced by its position in the rationality of the network. 12 This I will try to demonstrate. The first function of the network is one to which I have already referred: the exchange of various utilities. Above I have discussed the importance of the transference of information for economic success. Information was, however, not the only utility that was exchanged within the network. One also exchanged goods, either as presents, voluntarily given but in reality strictly regulated - here the conclusions of Marcel Mauss in The Gift are obviously relevant and interesting - or in a more businesslike manner.1J A third category, which is less precise, but not less important, is the exchange of services. It becomes quite evident when studying the letters of I.G. Clason that social relations were used as resources, which were activated whenever there was need for help. Such a need could arise in a number of situations. Assistance was called upon for example when one was prevented by practical conditions from defending oneself in court, or when a proxy was needed. Financial assistance was of course also often needed. Banks and insurance companies being institutions which were only just coming into existence, this function was quite important. When the international iron trade was in decline after 1810, Clason was saved from bankruptcy by a brother-in-law, who vouched for him. Such cases were not at all unusual. The substantial economic favours were naturally often exchanged within a limited circle of relatives. Still, there are many exceptions to this rule. One notable example is the fact that an old school friend of Clason, Isaac Lindbom, who had failed completely as an ironworks owner, was later given financial assistance by Clason, who actually paid for his studies at Uppsala University. I. Social relations themselves, or in the words of Pierre Bourdieu, social capital, was perhaps the most important benefit to be exchanged. Thus it was necessary to have good contacts in order to acquire good contacts. One would use one's friends in order to get in contact with a person. Established relations, a very good friend or a relative, would thus often guarantee one's reliability and respectability, that is, that one would be expected to behave according to the norms of the network, and could be trusted. The initiation of a new relationship would be greatly facilitated if there were a mutual friend. ls From the objects of exchange we proceed to the mechanism itself. What is important to note here is that it was really a question of exchange, of reciprocity. One favour was exchanged for another; a present was meant to be reciprocated. The formulations of letters often make this very clear; frequently it is really a matter of do ut des. An author, especially if the contact between the author and the addressee was sporadic, often started a letter by reminding the addressee of mutual assistance in the past, or in some other way re-establishing the intimate and binding relationship, before asking for a service of some kind. Another important thing to note is that there were no objections concerning the exchange of seemingly very different objects. Thus, a barrel of salted herring could be

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offered without hesitation as a reciprocation for a valuable piece of information on how to construct a distillery, or for the services - and loyalty - of a civil servant. Besides exchange, the network had two other main functions, of which one was reproduction, and the other was exclusion. Reproduction, which can either be defined as a function or as the final goal of activities within the network, took place on two levels. What was meant to be reproduced was thus on the one hand the individual households in question, and on the other hand, the network itself. The reproduction of the individual households is perhaps a self-evident target. How this was accomplished has been touched upon above. Reproducing the network was, however, just as important. There were a number of ways of consciously as well as unconsciously reproducing the network. The functions, rules and codes of the network were constantly reproduced through recurrent use, and, as will be discussed below, through the exclusion of offenders. One very concrete way of reproducing the network was the socialisation of the younger generation. Not only were children brought up to understand the importance of social relations, as well as consciously given plenty of opportunities to form contacts with their relatives and other grown-ups, they were introduced at an early age to the practices of the network, that is, letter writing and socialising.'· Exclusion was a natural consequence of the fact that the network was a mediator of utilities and services, to which was attached a certain value, often in concrete economic terms. These benefits were exclusive, in the sense that they could not be shared by all. The best price on corn could not be negotiated by anyone or everyone - in which case, logically speaking, it would not be the best price any longer. This meant that some individuals were excluded from the benefits of the network. Exclusion took place for one reason: failure to act according to the codes and rules of the network. However, there were really two separate groups of individuals or families who were excluded. The first category consisted of individuals who simply did not have access to the codes and rules of the network, and the second group consisted of those who had access, but for some reason failed to act according to those rules. The first category consisted of people who came from an entirely different social class than I.G. Clason. A person from the lower classes thus had little chance of benefiting from a relation of this kind, for the simple reason that he or she did not have the cultural capital necessary on which to base such a relation. It is perhaps natural to ask why I stress cultural capital. Surely, lack of economic assets must have been just as important in that it meant the lack of objects to exchange. This is of course true, but the lack of cultural and social capital was, I believe, more crucial. Individuals lacking this were unable to provide the various types of mutual assistance which did not necessarily involve great expenses, but which were none the less vital to remaining within the network. The second category of excluded families or individuals included the notorious breakers of informal rules and codes for behaviour. A person who repeatedly violated the rules and codes of the network, would sooner or later acquire a reputation for heing dishonest and unreliable. He or she would

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thereby risk his or her social relations. Such behaviour was very risky, and thus very unusual. Having related the main functions of the network, it is time to proceed to the specific culture of letter writing which it produced, and which also substantially contributed to the reproduction of the network. There were mainly two arenas, or two practices, in which the network ties were produced and reproduced: one was the intense social life, and the other was the letter culture. The habit of writing letters To begin with, I would like to stress that the culture of letter writing was indeed a specific culture, with its own specific rules and rituals. Letters were exchanged not only very frequently, but with a regularity which may seem almost ridiculous. On post days, both men and women of the middle class spent the best part of the day writing letters. Here it becomes obvious that letters were not only used to communicate a certain message, but that they also had an important role in upholding a set of relations. Thus, one would write a letter, for example, to one's father-in-law, regardless of whether there was really a specific subject one would like to discuss. Writing a letter would confirm the relation between the author and the addressee. This was especially important on certain occasions. Occasions such as holidays, weddings, funerals, triggered a flood of letters, containing condolences, congratulations, and so forth, which constituted a ritualised reproduction of the relationship between two individuals or two families. The culture of letter writing also had other features which may appear somewhat strange to a present-day reader. One feature that is explicable in relation to the network is the lack of privacy of letters and letter writing. Spontaneously, I think most of us today regard private letters as something indeed very private. The notion that somebody would read one's letters is about as appealing as the notion that .somebody would read one's diary. However, the privacy of private letters was not at all self-evident for the early nineteenthcentury Swedish middle class. Letters often show signs of being the result of more than one individual's talent, and they were treated more or less as newspapers. It was common to read a letter aloud; in fact, if the author did not wish this to take place, he or she started the letter by indicating that the content was delicate or private. It was also a common practice to pass a letter on, if there was something in it which one wanted to be read by others. This was done rather nonchalantly, and as a rule without asking for the permission of the author.'7 There were thus specific practices of the culture of letter writing, referring to how and when to write letters, and how to regard the letters as such. These practices were accompanied by certain rules concerning the form and content of letters. Letters being such an important medium of communication, the mastery of these codes was fundamental in many ways. One very crucial piece of knowledge was how to begin a letter. There were various ways of addressing the

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recipient, and various phrases which communicated different levels of intimacy, the status of the author in relation to the addressee, and so forth. Since these codes were so elaborate, they also functioned as a mechanism of exclusion. In the first few lines of a letter, the potential ignorance of the author concerning these codes would be mercilessly revealed. Intruders, that is individuals who as a consequence of their upbringing had not acquired the correct manners, could thus be classified as non-members of the social network. IS It was however not only necessary to be able to begin a letter in a correct way; letters as a rule were permeated by signals and information to the addressee concerning the author. This information was concealed in the words and phrases used, in the way of referring to the subjects discussed, and in the choice of topics. A scholar cannot, I believe, capture all the nuances of this complex system of signals. Some of the basic rules for writing a letter can be discerned by describing the content and disposition of an ideal letter of the middle-class individuals I have studied. As mentioned, the beginning of a letter was crucial. Here, it was important to communicate that one mastered the cultural codes of the network. It was also important to show the addressee a measure of respect, without resorting to making oneself unnecessarily humble. If the addressee was a good friend, writing a letter was a matter of routine. If this was not the case, one would often try to facilitate the initial contact by referring to a mutual friend. Letters of introduction, which were motivated by the will to facilitate a new contact, were also quite common.'" Having thus begun the letter - hopefully in the proper way - one would proceed by inquiring about the health and general conditions of the addressee and his or her family. It was thought proper to show interest in these matters, and of course, there was often a genuine interest. After this inquiry, one would go on to give the corresponding facts about one's own health and situation. Only after thus expressing and affirming the social bonds, which would often include floods of best wishes and one or two pious hopes for the future, would one progress to more pragmatic topics. If this was a matter of asking for a service, there were certain ways of doing this. One would most often start by offering one's own services in some way, then, in a subordinate clause, ask the favour. With an established relationship one reminded the addressee of past services. With a fresh contact one sometimes made very concrete promises of material rewards. If the letter instead contained an answer to a stated request, or contained information of value for the addressee, the same ceremonious procedure would be followed. One would then, whenever applicable, be careful to present oneself as a good and loyal friend, on whose help it was possible to rely.2u The end of a letter required just as much effort as the beginning. There was an accepted set of phrases which were used to once again stress one's continuing relationship with the addressee. The most central adjective when describing oneself, a word of which the inherent meaning was so crucial that it was part of how one would sign a letter, was 'redeIig', meaning sincere and loyal." Perhaps the most important way of expressing the significance of minding one's social

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capital was the regards that were always included. Through sending one's regards to all the relatives of the addressee, arid a few other individuals that the addressee had social relations with, one would create or reproduce a relation with those people too, as well as demonstrating to the addressee the social capital which one possessed. This was so important that it was done regardless of whether a relation actually existed with the other friends and family of the addressee. If there was no such relation, one would send one's 'unacquainted' regards. One would also, on the other hand, include the regards of the writer's family and friends for the addressee. 22 Conclusion Finally, to summarise: • Letters and the letter culture are closely linked to a specific historic context, and shed light on this context. • In this particular period and social class - the bourgeoisie of early nineteenthcentury Sweden - no distinction was made between the economic sphere and the social sphere. Letters confirm this hypothesis very strongly. The Clason letters can thus also be used to further develop a critique of various ideas of economic rationality, as well as the supposed dichotomy between the public and the private. • Letters instead, in their contents as well as in their form, speak to us about an alternative rationality: the rationality of the social network. • The main functions of the social network rationality were exchange, reproduction and exclusion. • The letter culture can be tied to the social network rationality, and must be seen both as a consequence of this rationality, and as an active ingredient in producing and reproducing the social network - both concrete social relations and the set of rules which upheld them. Notes 1.

2.

3. 4.

For the basic facts of ironmaking in Sweden, see Goren Ryden and Maria Agren (eds) (1993), Ironmakmg in Sweden and RUSSia. A Survey of the SocIal Organisation of Iron ProductIOn before 1900, Opuscula Historica Upsaliensia no. 12, Uppsala. Concerning the Swedish bourgeoisie and its societal role, see for example Goran Therborn (1989), Borgarklass och Byrakratl i Sverzge. Anteckningar om en Solskenshistorza, Arkiv Forlag, Lund; Tom Soderberg (1948), Bergsman och Brukspatroner I Svenskt Samhallslzv, Hugo Gebers F6rlag, Stockholm; Jan Glete (199J), 'Agarkoncentrationen och den Politiska Demokratin', in Makten over Foretagen, Rolf Eidem and Rolf Skog (eds), Carlsson, Stockholm. Ylva Hasselberg (1998), Den Sociala Ekonomin. Famil;en Clason och Furudals bruk 1804-1856, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Histonca Upsaliensia 189. The source of this conclusion is a study of probate inventories, KLHA XIII F, KLHA

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XXII, Falu Radhusratts Arkiv, vol. FI 28, FI 39, FI 41, FI 42, FI 46 & FI 47, Uppsala Landsarkiv, Uppsala. 5. Hasselberg (1998). 6. See Max Weber (1971), The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Unwin, London. Regarding the debate on Weber's original thesis, the literature is so overwhelming that it seems almost impossible to list the most important works in the field. If we focus on the 'spirit of capitalism' instead on the Protestant ethic it is however important to point out that many scholars leave the existence of the spirit of capitalism unquestioned, focusing totally on the question of whether the 'Protestant ethic' can be said to be the cause of the 'spirit of capitalism'. There is thus not a substantial modern literature that discusses the spirit of capitalism in itself. There was however an intense debate about the nature of industrialism, its causes and consequences, in Weber's own lifetime, in relation to which the 'spirit of capitalism' should be understood. See Werner Sombarr (1967), The Quintessence of Capitalism, Howard Fertig, New York; and Ferdinand Toennis (1925), 'Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, Theorem der Kulturphilosphie', Kant Studien, vol. 30. 7. Examples of this dependence on the idea of the rational bourgeois are not hard to find. The essence of being a bourgeois seems in fact to coincide rather clearly with the idea of the 'spirit of capitalism'. Examples of more or less successful discussions of the bourgeois values and of the bourgeois mind can be found in Richard Tilly (1993), 'Moral Standards and Business Behaviour in Nineteenth-Century Germany and Britain', in Bourgeois Society in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Jiirgen Kocka and Allen Mitchell (eds), Berg, Oxford; Lawrence Stone (1984), An Open Elite? England 1540-1880, Clarendon Press, Oxford; Christina Florin and Ulla Johansson (1993), 'Dar de Harliga Lagrarna Gro '" ': Kultur, Klass och Kon i det Svenska Laroverket 1850-1914, Tiden, Stockholm; and Martin Aberg (1991), 'En Fraga om Klass? Borgarklass och Industriellt Foretagande i Goteborg 1850-1914', Avhandlmgar fdin Historiska Institution en i Goteborg, vol. 3. The debate on the feudalization of the bourgeoisie starred with Marrin Weiner's study of the English industrial decline. See Martin Weiner (1981), English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850-1981, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Weiner's thesis was soon contested. See W.D. Rubinstem (1993), Capitalism, Culture and Decline in Britam, 1750-1990, Routledge, London; and B. Collins and Keith Robbins (1990), British Culture and Economic Decline, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. 8. Perhaps the most original work in the field is Jiirgen Habermas's classic study: Jiirgen Habermas (1991), The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Enquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, MIT Press, Cambridge. The 'public/private' dichotomy has become very dominant in family history - especially in the history of middle-class families - in the last two decades. See for example Mary Ryan (1981), Cradle of the Middle Class: the Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; Colleen McDannell (1986), The Chrzstian Home in Victorian America, 1840-1900, Indiana University Press, Bloomington; and Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall (1987), Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the Englzsh Mzddle Class 1750-1850, Hutchison, London. 9. Amanda Vickery (1993), 'Golden Age to Separate Spheres? A Review of the Categories and Chronology of English Women's History', The HistoTlcal Journal, vol. 36. 10. The term embeddedness is inspired by Karl Polanyi; see Karl Polanyi (1944), The Great Transformation, Henry Holt, New York. 11. William W. Powell (1991), 'Neither Market nor Hierarchy: Network Forms of Organisation', in Markets, Hierarchies and Networks. The Co-ordination of Social Life, Graeme Thompson, Jennifer Frances, Rosalind LevaCic, and Jeremy Mitchell (eds), Sage Publications, London. 12. A more thorough critique of the network concept, along with a discussion of the

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13. 14. 15.

16. 17.

18.

19. 20.

21.

22.

107

network definition applied here, can be found in Ylva Hasselberg, Leos Miiller and Niklas Stenhis (1997) History from a Network Perspective. Three Examples from Swedish Early Modern and Modern History, Centre for Research in Transportation and Society, Working Paper no. l. See Marcel Mauss (1970), The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London. Hasselberg (1998). Hasselberg (1998). There are several works of Pierre Bourdieu that are relevant for the concept of 'capital', in its different forms. See for example Pierre Bourdieu (1986), Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Routledge, London; and Pierre Bourdieu (1989), La Noblesse d'Etat, Minuit, Paris. A thorough analysis of Bourdieu's use of the concept of 'capital' can be found in Donald Broady (1990), Sociologi och Epistemologi. Om Pierre Bourdieus Forfattarskap och den Historiska Epistemologin, HLS Forlag, Stockholm. Hasselberg (1998). See also Anna-Maria Astrom (1993), 'Sockeboarne: Herrgardskultur i Savolax 1790-1850', Skrifter Utgivna av Svenska Litteratursallskapet i Finland, vol. 585. This has had an interesting consequence for the Furudalsarkiv, the archive of the Clason letters. Many letters are thus catalogued in the archive which were originally addressed not to Clason, but to other individuals in the social network. Many letters also have notes on them added by the original addressee. Here it is especially interesting to compare letters by the gender, age and class affiliation of the authors. Letters from peasants and other lower-class individuals are generally phrased in a way as to express the humbleness of the author. Letters from children likewise. Letters from women are more subservient than letters from men, even letters from women of the middle class. In the social network of Clason, much attention was paid to the ability of using the correct language and appropriate phrases in a letter. It was important to take into account and correctly assess the position of the addressee on the social scale, as well as the degree of intimacy of the relationship. Too much intimacy could be insulting, as well as too little. See for example letter from J.R. Steenman to I.G. Clason, 9 March 1813; D. Heijkenskiold to I.G. Clason, 10 October 1822; N. Callerholm to I.G. Clason, 29 June 1824, Furudalsarkivet. The exchange of services is a topic which appears in the letters of almost every author. See for example letters from LA. Lindbom to I.e. Clason, passim; J.H. Didron to I.G. Clason, passim; J.H. Gahn to LG. Clason, passim; M. Gahn to LG. Clason, passim; and A. Arfwedson to LG. Clason, passim; all in Furudalsarkivet. Authors signing their letters 'redlige viinnen' - meaning 'honest friend' - are, for example, A. Arfwedson in A. Arfwedson to LG. Clason, passim; and ].H. Didron in J.H. Didron to LG. Clason, passim. See also LA. Lindbom to LG. Clason, passim; LG. Clason III to Carl Ostberg, passim; ].]. Wasell to LG. Clason, passim; and LG. Sehmann to I.G. Clason, passim. I have translated a few quotations which demonstrate how regards were expressed: 'I and my wife both send our best regards to your wife, and my wife also sends her regards to you' (J. Gahn to LG. Clason, 25 March 1821); 'A thousand regards from us all to you, my sister, the little ones, Lindbom, the Gagnerus family, the vicars, your ladies and the gentlemen in the office, that is: toute la compagnie' (J.H. Gahn to I.G. Clason, no date); 'Yesterday I visited the countess Oxenstierna, born Vadenstierna. She placed upon me to send her most sincere regards to Henrica, of whom her opinion is very high, and who nurtures feelings of friendship for Henrica. My best and most sincere regards to Mrs Gahn and dear Henrica. Uhr told me to send his best regards' (A. Arfwedson to LG. Clason, 1 May 1821), all in Furudalsarkivet.

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Part III Women and the letter form

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7 A woman writing a letter Carolyn Steedman What can I say? What can I write with Marguerite perched in a corner by my side? (Mary Wollstonecraft to William Godwin, November 1796)'

Accounts of the origin of writing are part of Europe's oldest cultural history. Writing, like speech, has demanded explanation; but explanations of spoken language do not encode the deep ambivalence of all our originary accounts of writing, taken here to include myths, allegories, and conjectural histories. Myths of writing, whilst expressing doubts about their topic, also always dealt with writing as a psychological process - an activity that brings about cognitive and affective change in the individual acquiring it - and as a social practice, that has the power to alter relationships within given social structures. The myth of writing originating in the Ancient World does precisely these two things. But to rehearse the Greek account of the origin of writing, and to do this first of all, is not really to begin at the beginning, but rather at some place near the end, and to tell another kind of story altogether, a specifically nineteenth-century European myth of origin. This myth of origin refers back to the Classical world, and to the Ancient Greeks in particular, as the fountain head of European culture, and of social and political institutions. It understands Western peoples to be 'true' descendants of the Ancient Greeks. The idea of writing is a building block of this belief partly because the writing system in which these speculations and beliefs are recorded derives from the Greek: these words, here, now, on this page, are printed in an alphabetic script that represents the sound-system of the English language. The extraordinary insight that not ideas, not syllables, but sounds can be represented in script is a cognitive leap of world magnitude that is attributed to the Greeks. (To write this is to leave aside the question of whether that is true or not; whether or not the Greeks simply modified earlier writing systems; whether or not all they did was just create a system for representing vowels.') It is important, by way of introduction, to have the myth in its pristine form. This telling is not just about the myth, but also about Plato's ambivalent, puzzling use of it, and the problems this has caused philosophers and other commentators down the ages. It is the philosopher's use of a story in the middle of his dialogue Phaedrus that causes the problems. Towards the end of those

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discussions that we understand as a founding moment of Western logocentric, rational thought, Plato has recourse to a mere fable, a kind of fairy-story, in the myth of an alien, possibly less-advanced people, in order to make his point.) This excursion into the by-ways of an exotic mythology sits very uneasily with the rest of the Phaedrus, especially as Plato makes it quite clear in his other Dialogues that he considers myths to be inferior kinds of cultural production. Indeed, the transition from mythos to logos was and still is seen as a supreme transitional moment of Greek thought and culture (along with the 'invention' of the alphabetic principle). Nevertheless, Plato used the kind of fable that he usually dismissed as only useful for teaching simple lessons to uncultivated minds. Once upon a time, a visitor, a god named Thoth (or Theuth), came to the Egyptian king, Thamus. Thoth was believed to have invented all the arts and sciences: geometry, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, music, drawing - and writing. Writing is emphasised in the story: without it humanity would have run the risk of forgetting Thoth's teachings and losing the benefits of his inventions. Thoth offered the gift of writing to King Thamus, but the King, after much weighing up of advantages and disadvantages, declined the offer. He decided that people are better off without writing, and gave his reasons (with which Plato seems to be in complete agreement): writing is dangerous because it substitutes mere marks, mere inscriptions - lifeless, dead arbitrary things - for the warm, authentic, living presence of spoken language. It may be that with writing an archive can be built up, a repository of thoughts and productions that would indeed far exceed the capacity of any living memory; but were that to happen, then people's real powers of memory would decline, for there would be no need for remembering anything at all. The gift would have even graver cultural and political consequences. The King told the god that were his invention to be adopted, students would be able to read widely without the benefit of a teacher's instruction. In other words, the effect of writing would be to break those ties of generation and deference (paternal sanction on one side, filial duty and obligation on the other) that serve to transmit authentic truth from one generation to the next. Only by respecting the teacher's authority can the pupil arrive at his own genuine wisdom. Plato distinguished two kinds of memory: good memory and dangerous memory. To good memory he gave the word anamnesIs. Anamnesis involves an act of unforgetting, a recalling of spiritual truths that our souls have forgotten in their fallen state, here, in this world where we are condemned to live in bodies, prison-houses of the senses. But even in this state, these truths can be brought to mind through good and wise teaching. Bad memory is the kind that substitutes mere devices for genuine wisdom, mere devices like writing for living memory. A King like Thamus had no need of writing for he was earthly representative of the supreme god Ammon, and like Ammon, when 'he speaks, he dictates, and his words suffice'. The gift of writing was refused, and Thoth made his way home, beyond the stars.' Jacques Derrida's Of Grammatology (1974) gives a most thorough account of the idea that is embodied in this myth, that 'The Letter killeth, but the Spirit

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giveth life'.s He finds statements like this across an extraordinary range of world religions, past and present; and for the modern world he traces a similar treatment of writing in the major philosophers of the Western tradition, from Kant and Hegel to Husser\. 6 Derrida locates Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the tradition of condemning writing. The two texts of Rousseau in which he has most to say about writing are his Confessions (written in the 1760s but not published until 1782) and his Essay on the Origin of Language, finally published in 1781. The Essay was structured around material that he extracted from the Discourse on Inequality during its composition in 1755. 7 For Rousseau, writing was (Derrida's term) a dangerous supplement: it was an artificial addition to the natural resources of speech, and it always threatened to corrupt natural human understanding. This perception of writing was inextricably bound up with the kind of cultural history that Rousseau wrote. All his conjectural history posited a former state of natural existence, where communities lived in face-to-face contact.' In this kind of imagined organic community there was speech, and there was presence: a kind of now-ness, in which people could make their needs and desires known to each other in a kind of timeless present tense. The fallen world of the 1750s provided only a degenerate form of existence, in which people lived in vast, impersonal sets of social relations, partly brought about by writing, which distances them from each other and imposes an impersonal, alienated way of life. Moreover, writing was the instrument of social control: those who possessed it were priests and lawgivers; by use of the written word they divided society! The anthropologist Jack Goody has surveyed myths of writing belonging to several non-European societies, and says much the same thing as Rousseau did, about understandings of the social effect of writing that the myths express: In oral societies ... God, or some other category of spiritual being, teaches man what he did not know. For originally he was a poor bare footed animal who knew nothing. But when writing appears, God shows the way by means of the book or tablet ... Once writing was introduced the voice of God was supplemented by His hand; scriptural authority is the authority of the written (scripted) word, not the oral one.'O

In Rousseau's exegesis, writing was also on the side of decadence: it is that aspect of culture that denotes artificial, polished, empty, superficial civilisation. And writing limits us: Writing, which would seem to crystallise language, is precisely what alters it. It changes not the words but the spirit, substituting exactitude for expressiveness. Feelings are expressed in speaking, ideas in writing. In writing one is forced to use all the words according to their conventional meaning. Bur in speaking, one varies rhe meanings by varying one's tone of voice, determining them as one pleases. Being less constrained to c1ariry, one can be more forceful ... ir is nor possible for a language rhat is written to retain its vitaliry as long as one that is only spoken."

Rousseau thought that without writing we might yet achieve a state of communal grace, untouched by the evil of inequality and division by rank and status. And yet ... Rousseau was a writer, a prolific, prolix writer, who reflected long

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and often on his enthralment to that solitary, self-engrossed, self-obsessed profession. Derrida is particularly interesting on these paradoxes in Rousseau's own writing but they cannot delay us here. 12 From our perspective, Derrida's contribution is important for drawing attention to an extremely long Western tradition of ambivalence towards the question of writing, and also for providing us with an account of one of the currents of thought that runs into twentiethcentury post-Saussurean linguistics, and the even more general exclusion of writing from the realm of modern linguistics. Goody has suggested that in a reaction against 'their nineteenth-century predecessors, most linguists in this century have given their virtually exclusive attention to oral language and have tended to treat the written as a purely derivative phenomenon'.13 Florian Coulmas discusses the same disregard for writing, remarking that 'the exclusion of writing from the realm of modern linguistics was one of the fallacies accompanying the establishment of the structuralist paradigm'.14 It is indeed notable how little attention has been paid to L. S. Vygotsky's profound linguistic insight of the 1920s, that writing is second-order symbolism, which gradually becomes direct symbolism. This means that written language consists of a system of signs that designate the sounds and words of spoken language, which, in turn, are signs for real entities and relations. Gradually this intermediate link, spoken language disappears, and written language is converted into a system of signs that directly symbolise the entities and relations between them. II

Vygotsky's work was not made available in the West until the 1960s, but the absence of writing from linguistic inquiry should be attributed to a wider intellectual history, as Goody and Coulmas suggest, rather than to the translation history of his work. 16 Whilst we possess fine linguistic case-studies of the development of writing systems in non-European societies, conducted under the Vygotskian assumption that writing constitutes a language system in its own right, it is striking that at the end of the twentieth century we still do not possess a full linguistics of writing. 17 This is a diffidence in the face of writing as odd as the one that Plato explored and employed in the Phaedrus. What Derrida sought to explain in Of Grammatology was, first of all, Plato's puzzling recourse to myth, and what he sought to demonstrate was the coherence of this recourse. The sudden eruption of myth in the middle of rational dialogue was not, according to Derrida, an anomaly, nor a product of Plato's youthful inexperience or his doddering old age (depending on when you think the Dialogues took place), nor the compulsion of a traveller who might actually once have visited Egypt to tell one of its fables. Rather, claims Derrida, the myth is there as a kind of marker of the contradiction that Plato was caught in (that Rousseau was caught in too): even as he seeks to denounce writing, even as he seeks to affirm the authority of spoken, present truth, he is inescapably condemned to writing, just as we are all now condemned to writing. However, it all very well to comb the mythologies and the histories for ambivalent and contradictory accounts of writing and its impact, and all very

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well to assert that the primacy of speech over writing is still current in Western thinking on the language question. These things are true; but they do not exclude another set of observations, about the elevation of writing over speech, particularly in European educational systems. As Roy Harris points out, when we consider the social history of education and educational thought over the last two millennia, we find the elevation of the written over the spoken. One of his examples is Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (b. AD 35) tutor of oratory and rhetoric to the highest ranking of the Roman nobility. Several volumes on education show him taking for granted the idea that writing is the basis for education, even though the ultimate objective is the skill of oratory. Quintilianus presented a view of language in which literacy was no longer just a useful but unessential extension of speech; rather, in his view, a writing system provides the learner with the primary tools for gaining an understanding and analysis of the spoken word. Speech is now to be understood in terms of writing, rather than writing understood in terms of speech.18 Harris says that it would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of this transition for linguistic thought. He points out that we are still working within the same set of assumptions that Quintilianus worked with, that is, an atomistic conception of speech structure: we understand spoken words to be complexes built up out of smaller, indivisible phonetic units (units of sound), through a series of intermediate units called syllables, which are usually then built up into words. Then we come to understand sentences as simple sequences of words, and so on. Harris suggests that the atomistic vision of language was the supreme transition for Western linguistic thought; but it is a vision that has affected many more people than linguists. Since children first started to be schooled, the written version of any language system has been presented to them as the model they must attain; the words as they are spelled in conventional orthography that which they must learn. At the same time, ever since the written language has been presented to children as the medium of instruction and the object of study they have simultaneously been presented with the idea that there is something wrong with writing. For the English language in its relation to a history of education, there is the example of the strange exegesis on writing with which William Blake introduces his Songs of Innocence (1789). The moment that the Piper, who is piping a song of merry cheer in response to the child's request ('Pipe a song about a Lamb/So I piped with merry cheer') writes down the words of his Song in the fourth stanza, the spontaneity disappears, and the words of the song appear as written words on the page, they seem to have something wrong with them: the harsh words 'plucked', 'made' and 'stain'd', all lead us to the word 'wrote', and make the connection between them plain. As the Piper writes, the child disappears. This seems an ambiguous note on which to introduce a volume of verse for children, to say the least; the writing and making of books was a problem for Blake, and has been for a great many more conventional educators than he. " Writing - the idea of writing - has played a complex role in accounts of Western identity and cultural development. This chapter is concerned with the

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emergence of new theories and new mythologies of writing, letter wrltmg in particular, over the last twenty years, the places where these mythologies have emerged, what they might mean, and what the historian is to do with them all. It is also, and perhaps most centrally, about a woman writing a letter, sometime in the long eighteenth century. This eighteenth-century woman writes her letter in the modern spaces of literary and cultural theory, where she is taken to be emblematic of all those who shaped the letter, by way of epistolary fiction, into the novel.'o She has recently been sighted busily writing between the lines of the eighteenth century's own political and cultural theory, correcting for example, by the product of her pen, ]iirgen Habermas's ungendered account of the emergence of an authentic public sphere." What she writes (not what is in the letter, so much as the idea of the letter and its form) is the focus of modern twentieth-century theorists who are concerned with developments in print capitalism from about 1680 to 1750, and with the making of what has recently come to be called 'the modern body subject', on this great 'cusp between manuscript and print cultures'." Then again, she is a fictional woman of the eighteenth century, often authored by a man, writing hundreds and hundreds of letters: an Heloise, a Pamela, a Clarissa, a new Eloise. We know that she writes in these realms of the imagination because of a voracious public hunger for the woman's voice." The man uses the extraordinary technological innovation offered by writing systems: a means of speaking in the voice of another (licence to do this being usually only given to children at play, stage performers and the insane). In the very late seventeenth century the woman writing a letter was observed in extraordinary detail by a number of painters. Vermeer's interior domestic calm is the best known setting for this 'scene of writing', where the silence is so palpable and so enclosing that the woman does not know that the painter has drawn aside a curtain to reveal her intense preoccupation with the words she writes. The painter does not surprise her; does not, in earlier meanings of the word 'surprise', find someone unaware of, or unprepared for being found; the painter indeed, is concerned that she should not know that he is there. Who, or what, does surprise the woman writing a letter, and us, watching her, is what must wait on an answer for a little while. Historians know her too, but in a different guise, in their consideration of the relationship of writing to a history of privacy in the West. 24 Cultural and literary historians know about her absence from the thesis of ]iirgen Habermas, who discusses the production and uses of written language in the development of a public sphere - an 'authentic public sphere' - in which private people emerge from the private space of the family and civil society, in which work is done and markets operate, to come together in sociability and in order to articulate their dIfference from the state and institutions of government. The medium of discussion in this authentic public sphere was often the newspaper, the journal, the pamphlet and the book. Elizabeth Cook is among the many literary scholars who, within this broad framework, have asked questions about the woman writing a letter, asked what it meant to write 'from the crossroad of public and private, manuscript and print,

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Figure 4. Jan Vermeer, 'A Lady Writing a Letter, With Her Maid', c. 1670. at this particular historical moment'." The 'swarm of print forms' of the early eighteenth century, the 'undifferentiated matrix' from which our familiar modern divisions into fact and faction, news and novels, true and false, emerged, show the letter to have been 'an emblem of the private' whilst it retained its actual historical function as a form of public communication and exchange.'· In the

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expository narrative that adjusts the theory of market individualism to incorporate newer accounts of 'post-patriarchal subjectivity', the epistolary novel is understood to regulate privacy in the same way as contract regulates the relationships of citizens in the public world. 27 (When the letter-narrative exposes the private body to the public, it is of course, a woman's body that has been exposed.) And finally, there is the work of (mainly, but not exclusively) feminist literary historians and critics who have seen the development of an interiorised, private self that is articulated around female characters in the emerging novel, and in the practice of women writing - novels, autobiographies, diaries, letters. All of these theorists place the development of privacy within a two hundred year span, from about 1600 to 1800, but they concentrate in particular on the mid- and late eighteenth century. But this survey leaves out what is the oldest and most clearly established theory of writing in relationship to new forms of individuality and privacy in the West. It has long been a commonplace of histories of the early modern period in Europe, that post-Reformation Protestantism encouraged the practice of writing among its adherents; that the idea of the daily entry in a journal, in which you reckoned up the day's doings as a kind of presentation to your God, was an operation that had some affinity to double-entry book-keeping, which developed in the same period. Ordering the events of your everyday life into chronological sequence, placing those events on the page, going back over them, as writing lets you do, will allow you to see the profit-and-Ioss account of your soul. Moreover, the cumulative account that the journal is, will perhaps enable you to discern God's purpose at work in your life. You will be able to read the retrospective story of your life hermeneutically, that is, you will be able to interpret it, according to the hermeneutic principles of Biblical criticism, and come to see its meaning as far more important than its story.2~ There is an old and substantial literature on these developments in postReformation Europe; it is taken for granted in most of the works that writing, even more than reading, encouraged temporary social isolation;29 that it encouraged the practice of self-scrutiny and thus played a major role in the emergence of the modern self and that the Protestant churches and sects encouraged the practice of spiritual self-examination in women as well as in men. 30 These aspects of writing for spiritual purposes cannot be divided from secular developments, from all the uses of writing in early modern Europe have also been considered by historians: listing, inventory-taking, records of purchase and sale of goods (writing develops in urban contexts in particular, as a way of recording ownership) ... and letter writing." But letter writing can be put under the heading of personal literary expression in the way that other secular developments cannot. In this way it should probably be aligned with autobiography and diarywriting, as long as we do not forget that the letter also served functional purposes as well. We are clearer now than we were when the historiography of Protestantism, writing and individualism was put in place, that the letter was 'the dominant form of writing in the eighteenth century'," that letter writing is and was not a solitary act of communication, and cannot be entirely phatic, for letter writing demands that one think in terms of another person, and that letters

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'follow one another, imply one another, [follow] a circular rhythm based on chronological continuity'.ll All letter writing is part of a grand 'communication circulaire' .14 The letter then is a particularly interesting form of written language, that spans the functional and the expressive functions of writing in early modern times, and historians of literacy seem to agree that letter writing was the primary means of personal literary expression, more employed than the journal or the autobiography. Letters were also popular reading material in the eighteenth century. Collections of letters (fictional, real, fictional-presented-as-real) were best-sellers of this period: travellers' tales, letters of intrigue, love letters, letters of the famous, piled up in the booksellers alongside that other significant genre of the period: the book of model letters. 1s There were instructive collections of model letters, that had great stylists of the classical world as their reference point; and there were collections for the semi- or uncertainly-literate, showing them samples of how to write a letter seeking employment, how to beg a loan off a person of quality, how to claim maintenance from the man who had fathered your bastard child. The edges of verisimilitude and of fancy were much blurred (or as Lennard Davis would have it, all these products circulated in the undifferentiated matrix of print). Samuel Richardson's Pamela sprang in this way, from his draft of Familiar Letters on Important Occasions, and his invention of a letter written by a young girl asking her father what she should do about her master's attempts on her virtue. 16 Pamela is the epitome of a much larger literary history, of the making of the modern novel out of epistolary fiction, and the letter form. The contemporary fascination with letter writing was seen as an interesting social phenomenon, and was much commented on in the period. Joseph Addison as editor of the Spectator, pondered on the letters that flooded into the journal, 'The Variety of the Subjects, Stiles, Sentiments and Informations which are transmitted to me'.17 The epistemological status of the woman writing a letter is complex. She and her letter are matters for historical inquiry because of the force and pressure of theories, structures of explanation, and mythologies that have emerged across a number of academic fields. As a figure, she has come to offer a new originary narrative: she accounts for the emergence of modern subjects and modern social structures; of gender relations, and perhaps even of the concept of gender itself; of literary, cultural and feminist theory. The Woman Writing a Letter, displayed in a Scene of Writing - this is the proposition - has become a myth of origin in her own right. Commenting on the variety of modern theory that has purloined the letter, Nicola Watson remarks that 'today the letter seems able to represent an almost promiscuous range of radical potentialities'. In Revolution and the Form of the British Novel, 1790-1825 she subdues the promiscuity by the soothing domestic device of listing (the most ancient form of written language):l' the possibility of 'bodily' writing for both the French theorists of I'ecriture feminine and American feminists, the replacement of the privileged voice by the seductive

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slippage of writing for Jacques Derrida and his followers, the ultimate writerly text that invites interminably unstable interpretation for novelists ... the proof of the itinerary of subjectivity for Jacques Lacan."

She goes on to remark that 'this flurry of interest ... relies upon an erotics'. The erotics of letter writing does indeed preoccupy modern literary and cultural theorists. 'Like the female desire for which they stand, letters in the novels of the post-revolutionary years are always liable to go astray, to engage in duplicity and deception, or to circulate out of control', observes Watson. 40 Elizabeth Cook's recent and elegant entry of this female body of letter writing into the public spaces of political theory and political history in early eighteenthcentury England and France, is a repetition of Terry Eagleton's much older observations on Richardson's Clarissa. Speaking of the letter, Eagleton says: nothing could be at once more intimate and more alienable ... the letter is that part of the body which is detachable: torn from the very depths of the subject, it can equally be torn from her physical possession, opened by meddling fingers ... hijacked as trophy or stashed away as spoils.

Lying on the same 'troubled frontier between private and public worlds' as do Cook's epistolary fictions: the letter comes to signify nothing quite so much as female sexuality itself, that folded, secret place which is always open to violent intrusion ... There is always within the letter's decorously covered body that crevice or fissured place where the stirrings of desire can be felt."

As modern scholars repeat the connections between letters and women's bodies, we learn more about the long critical tradition within which they write. They evoke and often retell the story of those epistolary narratives that an English audience was likely to have known by the time Pamela and Clarissa were penned. Les Lettres Portugaises, was first published in 1669, translated into English in 1678, and attributed to Gabriel de Labergne de Guillerages (the ironies of this attribution to a minor man of letters are deliciously explored in these discussions). The His to ire des Amours et Infortunes d'Abelard et d'Eloise, first published in 1695, translated into English in 1713, under the title Abelard and Heloise, was a reworking of Latin versions that had been in circulation from the thirteenth century onwards. Women, letters, writing and sex had been indeed, linked since classical antiquity." In the first of these seventeenth-century epistolary narratives, Les Lettres Portugaises, five letters from a Portuguese nun to a cavalier - her heartless and designing lover - show the waverings of a woman's heart, in love with a man to whom she says: 'Yours was a deliberate design to fool me; your business was to make a conquest, not a friend; and to triumph over my heart, without ever engaging or hazarding your own'." In the second, Heloise is another nun, passionately in love, crying 'Veiled as I am, behold, in what disorder you have plunged me! How difficult it is to fight for duty against inclination'''' These accounts of seduction, betrayal and abandonment, were written from

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the woman's point of view. In the new history of women writing that we now possess, it is the astonishing popularity of these narratives, the desire for the woman's voice that are seen as tap root of the novel. It was her voice that was wanted, heard and consumed. No matter if it were a man who actually wrote these fictional letters: what matters is that a woman subject is represented writing autobiographically; what matters is that a woman articulates a moral dilemma that is exclusively female; what matters is that as she writes (and in this argument it does not matter whether she is fictional or real) she acquires a particular kind of authority, based on her gender, to give voice to this feminine experience. In a great many hybrid texts of the early eighteenth century a woman is seen to have been granted the cultural authority to represent herself.'s This long and knowing critical traditional, in which bodies and letters circulate, to be inscribed again and again, is connected to another, somewhat low-key, assumption of literary history: that somehow letter writing is just natural to women, that they always have been better at it than men, and that it was 'a sanctioned female activity',,6 These assertions are grounded in a social history of female subjection that has been revised in recent years. But Ruth Perry's remarks in Women, Letters and the Novel (1980) regarding letters as an important means of communication with the world, at a time when 'women led rather cloistered lives' and when letters were 'the perfect vehicle for women's highly developed art of pleasing', are a source for Frank Kermode's musings, in his Introduction to The Oxford Book of Letters, on the 'conclusion rather hard to escape ... that a great many of the most accomplished letter writers have been women'. He continues: Perhaps the eloquence of familiarity comes more naturally to them than it does to men; or perhaps they have, historically, had less occasion to write merely performative letters ... so that they can afford to be more interested in themselves than in the achievement of any practical purpose unrelated to the pleasure of writing, and the pleasure of giving pleasure. 47 As well as the secret crevices of her person, it is clear that the readers of fictional and real women's letters have also wanted the unforced, the natural, the artless. The feminist cultural theorist Jane Gallop reads a new erotics of the woman's body and her letter, in her article 'Annie Leclerc Writing a Letter, with Vermeer,' which was published in the journal October, in 1985." Gallop's argument is difficult to summarise, not because it is a particularly difficult argument, but because it depends so much on visual references to the three paintings she discusses. Two of them were reproduced and widely circulated as book-covers in the 1980s. On the front of Elizabeth Abel's Writing and Sexual Difference is a painting by Mary Cassatt, of a woman in a flowered dress sitting against a floral wallpaper, licking an envelope to seal it." The cover of Terry Eagleton'S Literary Theory, shows Vermeer's 'Maid Holding Out a Letter to Her Mistress'. The main topic of discussion however, is Annie Leclerc's 'La Lettre d'amour', which is part meditation on Vermeer's 'Lady Writing a Letter, With Her Maid', (Fig. 4) and part love letter, written to another woman. Leclerc's 'La Lettre d'amour' was published in La venue al'ecriture in 1977.

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All of this is very complicated, and not very important, except in as far as it gets us to Jane Gallop's meditation on Annie Leclerc's meditation on the Vermeer painting, in which the Lady writes, the Maid looks out of the window, and both figures are framed by the precise edges and lines of window, drapery, furniture, and by the actual frame of a painting (of which they are quite oblivious) that dominates the wall behind them, depicting the finding of Moses in the bulrushes. Gallop reads Leclerc's reading of the painting. She describes how Leclerc expresses both her identification with the bourgeoise writing the letter, and simultaneously, her erotic desire for the maid, whom she strongly identifies with her lover - the woman she has just spent the night with, and to whom she is even at this moment writing 'La Lettre d'amour'. Gallop's own desire, moved down the scale of erotic investment from Leclerc's, which is read out of another writer's desire for a figure in a painting produced three hundred years ago, is for what she calls the maid's 'plenitude', her 'completeness'. It is a yearning for the figure that stands quietly by, looking out of the window, her arms folded, waiting for her mistress to finish writing. And her yearning makes the allegorical nature of this scene plainer than it was before: divided by rank and status, by the great division of the world that is named by servitude, by writing and not-writing, they do not look at each other any more than they look at us. Gallop in fact has problems with Leclerc's feelings, finds 'liberal guilt' a more appropriate response to the servant than erotic attachment, and uses Leclerc's love letter to urge us not to forget, to think about 'the women of another class whose labour we rely on so that we can write: the women who clean our houses, care for our children, type our manuscripts; cleaning women and secretaries, for example'. She uses Leclerc's meditation in order to ask 'the necessarily double and no less urgent question of feminism: not merely who am I? But who is the other woman?' We are doomed to read this reading (to read indeed, through all these writers until we arrive at the letter on the table of Vermeer's painting, or even at - this is a detail unclear in the reproductions from which Leclerc and Gallop have worked - the scrumpled and discarded letter that the Lady tossed to the floor in front of her table, in some time outside the time of the painting). We can read through the long association between the practice of writing and the erotic, and note that what Jane Gallop had at her command in the mid-1980s was a body of feminist theory that allowed her to specify the sexuality of writing in female terms. Annie Leclerc is a proponent of l'ecriture feminine, which understands a different relationship in men and women to the act of writing, men tending to see signs as stable and whole, as corporeally external things, whilst women have a more bodily, inward relationship to script." In a historical view, the circulation of the 'new French feminisms' and of !'ecriture feminine in particular during the 1970s and 1980s has a remarkably similar effect to that of Anglo-American 'gynocriticism', the exemplary text of which was probably Sandra Gilbert's and Susan Gubar's Madwoman in the Attic of 1979, which - at least as far as the nineteenth century is concerned - posits an essential difference between men and women in the act of writing. 12 Gilbert and

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Gubar famously asked whether the pen was a penis. 53 However, in reading Leclerc, Jane Gallop is reminded of that central text of l'ecriture feminine, Luce Irigary's 'Ce sexe qui n'en est pas un', and its description of female sexuality as two lips caressing each other. 54 The woman writing a letter is the figure with the power to turn allegory into myth; we can see this happen before our very eyes. It happens not in the painting, where the Lady continues to write and the Maid looks out of the window, but rather in the multilayered readings that have been described. Here is the originary place of much modern literary, cultural and feminist theory, as the woman in the frame moves her pen across the page and inscribes a particular relationship between sexuality and textuality, and a new role for the woman who writes, in modern histories of self and subjectivity. As the allegorical figures move, take on narrative meaning, and become a myth of origin, it is not surprising to find something buried - not in the secret parts of the Lady's person - but in a footnote. 55 Gallop's 'urgent question of feminism' - 'Who is the other woman?' - is in fact not hers at all, but Gayatri Spivak's, which Spivak formulated in 1981, when discussing 'French Feminism in an International Frame'.56 Spivak's whole career is one of questions. To be more exact, she has asked two important ones, the second of which, posed in 1988, has been a considerable force in moving Western feminism, and literary feminism in particular, into the territory of post-colonial theory.57 The answer to the question about the subaltern's (the subaltern woman's) silence, about whether she can speak or not, is still an open one, though Edward Said has said very clearly, in his recent assessment of Orienta/ism, that he (perhaps - it is not clear - she) can, at least politically, 'as the history of liberation movements in the twentieth century eloquently attests' ..'" In Spivak's argument of 1988, where Europe is shown to make itself the very subject of history through the ongoing relationship between the colonial project and global capitalism, the only way in which the colonised woman can speak is through her body. Indeed, it may be the case that Spivak intended to ask if such a woman can ever mean (rather than speak) in a world system where there is no means of perceiving, or interpreting her actions. Whatever the significance of the question, it has had vast effect, in the most intense white feminist critical endeavour, to locate and to know the woman on the other side of the border, of race and imperialism. 59 Spivak's earlier question, from 1981 - the one whose attribution is buried in Gallop's footnote - has had far less attention paid it, possibly because 'French Feminism' included the most excoriating attack on earlier (mainly French) feminist endeavours to 'know' Third World women under the patronising philanthropic principle of 'what can we do for them?'60 The virulent attack on Julia Kristeva's Des Chinoises (1977) the text of which is displayed by Spivak as the very emblem of this approach, ends mildly enough, however, with the suggestion that 'a deliberate application of the doctrines of French High "Feminism" to a different situation of political specificity might misfire'. Spivak further suggests that applying feminism in known and local contexts, that is in

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European and North American ones, is a more proper way for white Western feminists to proceed - though she is in fact only talking about the planning of university courses in women's studies. If we stay with women who exist within the same world, or the same structure as we do, then 'we can work by the practical assumption that there is no serious communication barrier between us and them'. 'No anguish over uncharted continents, no superstitious dread of making false starts, no questions to which answers may not at least be entertained.'6! Indeed, the figures in Spivak's text for whom she hopes that academic feminism might in some way be made meaningful, are not merely women, but very poor, illiterate, working-class Indian women, who inhabited the same social and political space as she did (at least when a young girl). It was on this small space of a relationship (of class, caste and gender) in Spivak's argument that Gallop seized on, to ask her own questions about cleaning women and secretaries, about 'the difference between women ... the rift[s] in [Western] feminist plenitude'. 62 But, in a wider theoretical context it must be observed that European and North American academic feminism has preferred to work with the exotic other rather than with the domestic and mundane other, and that feminist literary criticism has performed its most recent and technically dazzling feats in relationship to black women and their writing. Over the last ten years, it has paid decreasing attention to questions of class and femininity, to the presence of the Maid in Vermeer's painting, to the woman of another class that Leclerc desires. In Gallop'S discussion the maidservant is representative of female wholeness and plenitude; it is the bourgeoise with the pen in her hand who is torn away from wholeness and completeness. 'The woman writing is displaced, decentred'; her right arm is displaced from her body, unlike the quietly folded arms of the Maid. 'Unlike the maid's erotic self-sufficiency', transliterates Gallop, 'the mistress's arms are "divorced", ... by the very act of writing'. The erotics of ambivalence here are to do with a desire for the working woman's illiteracy; she is perhaps desired because she is illiterate. 6J Both Leclerc and Gallop do assume that the maidservant is illiterate. Perhaps Samuel Richardson is a better guide to these questions, and to the paradox of an intense eighteenth-century concentration on the woman writer and the social statistics of literacy. He explored the paradox in his epistolary novel Pamela, by making his central character not only a woman who was a writer, who took pleasure and pride in writing, who wrote at length and who wrote well, and whose writing had real effects on people in her world and outside it; not only that, but made her also a lower-class girl, and a servant who wrote wei!."' In assessing the literacy skills of the dead and gone, all that can be used as a standard measure is the ability of a man or a woman to sign his or her name. Using that measure, it is generally agreed that in the seventeenth century in England, about 11 per cent of women, 15 per cent of labourers, and about 21 per cent of husbandmen could sign, usually parish registers on the occasion of marriage. Moving up the social scale, about 56 per cent of tradesmen and craftsmen and 65 per cent of yeomen can be assumed to have been literate. The

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series of returns made to Parliament in 1642, meant to be signed by all adult males, have been extensively used by historians of seventeenth-century literacy, and they show that across the country, from parish to parish, 70 per cent of men could not sign their own names. The figure can of course be reversed, in order to say instead that in the most backward and illiterate and unschooled parish in England, one fifth, or 20 per cent of men could sign their names, could read and could read to other people who were illiterate. An even more optimistic calculation suggests that there might have been a 30 per cent literacy rate across the country.65 Since the pioneering work done on literacy in the 1970s, historians have found new questions to ask about literacy, new sources in which to pursue the writing abilities of the dead and gone, and new social categories to consider in relationship to those skills. This more recent work tends to confirm the optimistic view. 66 So, perhaps, at the end of the seventeenth century, and in the first half of the eighteenth century there was a literacy rate of 30 per cent. We must add to this figure an unknown number of literate women: that a woman could not write did not mean that she could not read, for writing was usually omitted from the curriculum for girls of the labouring and middling classes. For the pattern of schooling, for what poor children were actually taught in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, we have to rely on two sources: on autobiographical writing, and on what the educationalists of the time say was happening. In the country places, most poor children began formal schooling at seven or eight. Some children started as early as the age of six. What they were taught at this initial stage was reading. Margaret Spufford suggests that a bright child could acquire the skill of reading in a few months; it probably took unexceptional children a little longer, perhaps a year. But we should reckon, she says, that those children who had the opportunity of going to school learned to read (well enough to read the Bible and a range of popular literature) by the age of eight. 67 The teaching of writing began at the age of eight. If a child was destined for a grammar school, then the teaching of writing was combined with the learning of Latin. Children who got this far seemed to acquire the skill of writing in about six months. But in poor families, the need for a child to be put to work usually occurred at this age as well - at seven or eight - at this crucial movement from reading teaching to writing teaching. Later in life, a man would not have been able to sign his name if he had not been taught to write; but that is not to say that he had not been taught to read, possibly he had. Equally, a woman who could not sign her name might well be a fluent reader. But in her case, it was not the need to go to work that stopped her from learning to write; rather, girls were simply not taught this skill. 'Our sister' recalled a man from a day-labourer's family from Lancashire in the 1670s, 'was early taught to read, to knit, to spin, and also to needlework'.68 She, and many others. However, we simply cannot find out how many girls and women of the classes below the bourgeoisie and the gentry learned to read at this time. For the moment, there is no way of putting these two bodies of disparate information together: the facts of literacy, and the cultural obsession with the

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writing woman, and the woman depicted in the scene of writing, though the paradox has the obvious answer in Vermeer's painting which is that of course, the bourgeois woman can write; the working-class woman, her maid, cannot, and must spend eternity gazing out of the window; that the paradox is not a paradox at all, simply a question of the distribution of literacy skills by social class. Nevertheless, we should probably follow Richardson for the English case, and keep in mind the possibility that young women who spent time as servants were more likely to acquire the skill of writing than may of their peers. Literacy was certainly a skill sought out in some male domestic servants; perhaps it was in women toO.69 From a handful of isolated cases, it is possible to speculate as well, that contact with the idea of reading and writing, particularly when there were children being instructed in a household, promoted literacy in female servants. 70 Some employers overtly instructed their young female servants; the guidebooks for the employing classes, those dozens of 'Presents for servants' and 'Household Hints' certainly advised it.71 In all of this patiently and slowly erected critical erotics of the letter (which as the scene Gallop shows us, can also be an erotics of class and subordination) we forget the writing man: we forget Lovelace, 'On one knee, kneeling with the other, I write!' We do not ignore him because of the irreducible comedy of the man, his 'feet benumbed with midnight wanderings through the heaviest dews that ever fell ... wig and ... linen dripping with the hoar frost dissolving on them', for as Eagleton points out, the contemporary readers of Clarissa saw nothing funny here. We ignore him perhaps, as a means of forgetting the anxiety and ambivalence he embodies, for as Eagleton also points out, more than any of his figures (more even than Pamela's eternal scrattling with her pen). Lovelace is Richardson's extraordinary attempt to express presence in writing, to heal the rupture that Rousseau was so distressed by, between warm, living immediacy and its cold, dead representation in writing. Lovelace was Richardson's 'ideology of writing', his 'faith that writing and reality may be one', that the representation of reality in writing may somehow be simultaneous with its occurrence.72 The figure who is our myth of writing, in our originary moment of theory does indeed unclasp her hands to hold her pen; she is, as Gallop so poignantly recognises, undone. But the woman writing a letter keeps the space open for our critical and historical fantasies: that the letter might be the same thing as the woman's body, and that it may be purloined. We take refuge from the acute anxiety that writing would seem to provoke in us (the myths of writing always tell us this), in a woman's body, even in the bits and pieces that can be torn away from it. Unfortunately, the scene of writing also suggests that the woman writing a letter would be a better refuge if she were more like her maid is assumed to be: utterly sufficient in her illiteracy. The problem for historians is partly the way in which the woman writing a letter has come into being, an allegory of writing used in myth-making, as an account of modern subjectivity, modern gender identity, modern political structures of public and private. It is not so much that her origins are in a history that we do not recognise and did not write (it was after all, social historians who

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once told a story of women's subjection and then replaced it with a more nuanced and complex account of women's negotiation of ownership, possession and personhood - of things and self - in the eighteenth century). The Lady writes her letter within the realms of representation, critical and feminist theory, and of fiction, which have used historical material in their construction. Exasperated at the waste of time sometimes involved in exploring the theoretical constructs that seem to press themselves so urgently upon history, historians sometimes dare to ask fundamental questions - an example not irrelevant here, such as the question posed by Michael Schudson: 'Was There Ever a Public Sphere?' - and deliver a resounding and triumphant No! by way of answer.73 That is not the problem here. We believe in the woman writing a letter, for we know that women wrote; but if the lady were to write her letter in the historical realm, she could never be a writer in general, nor even a woman writer. Above all (as indeed, Leclerc and Gallop point out) she is a bourgeoise writing a letter. Our problem is the Maid. If the Lady were to raise her eyes and look, a certain understanding would take possession of her, a sudden, shocking knowledge: that we are not looking at her at all, but rather, at the figure looking out of the window. For we believe that it is our task to allow her words, though we have no means to do that, using the theoretical assumptions that must now - for a while - frame our inquiries. But we have our hopes - a disciplinary fantasy; the fantasy of social history - that the servant can write, and that we will allow her to tell her own story, one day. We have the evidence of one actually-existing eighteenth-century woman who, unlike Vermeer's Lady and her twentieth-century daughters, found it rather difficult to write in the presence of her servant. 'What can I say?' wrote Mary Wollstonecraft to Godwin (undated, but probably November 1796). 'What can I write with Marguerite perched in a corner by my side? I know not .. .' Marguerite was the maid whom Wollstonecraft took into service in Le Havre in April 1795, and who accompanied her and the baby Fanny through Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and then who, sometime in the weeks after Wollstonecraft's death in September 1797, slipped out of the Godwin letters, and back into the unrecorded world from which she came. 74 Marguerite does not look out of the window. She perches (on the edge of a sofa, the arm of a chair?) birdlike, waiting (perhaps) to take the letter to the mail coach (Godwin - if this dating is correct - was on holiday in Warwick at the time). Marguerite sits in the presence of her mistress, seems to know what is going on in Wollstonecraft's life and heart. Her presence - or at the very least, her impatience - is inhibiting on the writer because she is there, as a servant, and perhaps also because of what she knows. They are in a relationship, of class and gender, of service and subordination, which it is possible to disinter, to some limited extent. Because of course, though Marguerite may have slipped out of the Godwin letters, the world from which she came, and to which she possibly returned, was far from unrecorded. Anyone leaving France in 1795 needed a passport. Her name will be recorded in at least two registers of the state.

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Marguerite will be quite easy to find. We can at least make the maid turn from the window, and look. Notes 1.

2.

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

16.

17.

18. 19.

Ralph M. Wardle (ed.) (1966), Godwin and Mary. Letters of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, University of Kansas Press, Lawrence. Florian Coulmas (1989), The Writing Systems of the World, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 158-178; Eric Havelock (1982), The Literate Revolution in Greece and Its Cultural Consequences, Princeton University Press, Princeton; Eric Havelock (1986), 'Orality, Literacy and Star Wars', Written Communication, vols 3-4, pp. 411-420; and Roy Harris (1989), 'How Does Writing Restructure Thought?' Language and Communication, vol. 9:2/3, pp. 99-106. Plato (1973), Phaedrus and Letters VII and VIII, translated by Walter Hamilton, Penguin, Harmondsworth, pp. 95-103. Jacques Derrida (1967, 1974), Of Grammatology, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, p. 313. II Corinthians iii. Derrida (1974), passim, but particularly pp. 30-37, 101-140, 302-313. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1966), On the Origin of Language. Two Essays. Jean· Jacques Rousseau and Johann Gottfried Herder, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 1-74. Robert Wokler (1995), 'Anthropology and Conjectural History in the Enlightenment', in Christopher Fox, Roy Porter and Robert Wokler (eds), Inventing Human Science. Eighteenth-century Domains, University of California Press, Berkeley, pp. 31-52. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1984), A Discourse on Inequality, Penguin, Harmondsworth, pp. 118-137; Rousseau (1966), pp. 72-74. Jack Goody (1987), The Interface Between the Written and the Oral, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 16l. Rousseau (1966), pp. 21-22. For a modern linguist'S statement of this point, see Coulmas (1989), pp. 12-13'But see Derrida (1974), pp. 152-164. Goody (1987), p. 26l. Coulmas (1989), p. 267. L.S. Vygotsky (1978), Mind in Society. The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, p. 106. Myshlenie i rech was published in translation as Thought and Language in 1962. A revised and newly edited translation appeared as L.S. Vygotsky (1986), Thought and Language, MIT Press, Cambridge. Vygorsky's account of written language was available from the early 1960s. See the 1986 edition of Thought and Language, pp. 179-184. See Sylvia Scribner and Michael Cole (1993), The Psychology of Literacy (1981), Harvard University Press, Cambridge; Goody (1987), pp. 191-257; Mohamed Nyei (1980-1981), 'A Three Script Literacy Among the Vai', Liberian Studies Journal, vol. 9:1, pp. 13-21. I have taken my brief account from Roy Harris's and Talbot Taylor'S (1989) longer one, in Landmarks in Linguistic Thought. The Western Tradition from Socrates to Saussure, Routledge, London, pp. 59-74. See Heather Glen (1983), Vision and Disenchantment. Blake's 'Songs' and Wordsworth's 'Lyrical Ballads', Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 66, on this point. There is a very long and mainly unwritten history of language and education in England here, briefly indicated by Chris Baldick's comments at the end

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20.

21.

22.

23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28.

129

of The Social Mission of English Criticism, where he assesses the Leavisite project of English in education grounded in the vision of an 'organic society' as 'an implicit approval of mass illiteracy'. Chris Baldick (1987), The Social Mission of English Criticism, 1848-1932, Clarendon Press, Oxford, p. 207. For the forty-year revision (or failure to revise) Ian Watt's (1957) thesis in The Rise of the Novel, see Robert Adams Day (1996), Told in Letters. Epistolary Fiction before Richardson, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor; J. Paul Hunter (1990), Before Novels, The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-century Fiction, Norton, New York; Lennard Davis (1983), Factual Fictions. The Origins of the English Novel, Columbia University Press, New York; Michael McKeon (1987), The Origin of the English Novel, 1600-1740, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. See Elizabeth Cook (1996), Epistolary Bodies, Gender and Genre in the Eighteenth Century Republic of Letters, Stanford University Press, Stanford, pp. 20-211 for a discussion of this point. Jiirgen Habermas (1989), The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (1962), MIT Press, Cambridge; Dena Goodman (1994), The Republic of Letters. A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 12-15, and passim; Cook (1996), pp. 8-13, and passim; Freidrich Kittler (1990), Discourse Networks 180011900, Stanford University Press, Stanford. See also Lawrence Klein (1993),'Gender, Conversation, and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-century England', in Textuality and Sexuality. Reading Theories and Practices, Judith Still and Michael Worton (eds), Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp. 100-115. For Todorov's distinction between the story in the letters and the story of the letters (and how the one becomes the other in much eighteenth-century fiction) see Tzvetan Todorov (1967), Litterature et signification, Larousse, Paris; and Cook (1996), p. 12. See Goodman (1994), p. 7 for the transmutation of manuscript into print culture. See also Roger Chartier (1989a) (ed.), The Culture of Print: Power and the Uses of Print in Early Modern Europe, Polity, Cambridge, pp. 1-10. Elizabeth Goldsmith (1989), Writing the Female Voice. Essays on Epistolary Fiction, Pinter, London. . Roger Chartier (ed.) (1989b), A History of Private Life. Vol. III. Passions of the Renaissance, Harvard University Press, Cambridge. Cook (1996), p. 5. Davis (1983), for the 'undifferentiated matrix'. See Cook (1996), p. 6. Cook (1996), p. 16. For a historiography of Protestant selfhoods in relation to writing, and the 19805 insertion of women's writing into it, see Miriam J. Benknovitz (1976), 'Some Observations on Women's Concept of Self in the Eighteenth Century', in Woman in the Eighteenth Century and Other Essays, Paul Fritz (ed.), Hakkert, Toronto; Paul Delaney (1969), British Autobiography in the Seventeenth Century, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London; Dean Ebner (1971), Autobiography in Seventeenth-Century England: Theology and the Self, Mouton, The Hague; Elspeth Graham et al. (1989), Her Own Life. Autobiographical Writings by Seventeenth-Century Englishwomen, Routledge, London; William Haller (1958), The Rise of Puritanism, Harper, New York; Margaret P. Hannay (ed.) (1985), Silent But for the Word, Tudor Women as Patrons, Translators, and Writers of Religious Works, Kent State University Press, Ohio; Carmen Luke (1989), Pedagogy, Printing and Protestantism, The Discourse on Childhood, State University of New York Press, Albany; Felicity Nussbaum (1989), The Autobiographical Sub;ect, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore; Cynthia S. Pomerleau (1980), 'The Emergence of Women's Autobiography in England' in Women's Autobiography. Essays in Criticism, Estelle C. Jelinek (ed.), Indiana University Press, Bloomington; and Owen Watkins (1972), The Puritan Experience, Studies in Spiritual Autobiography, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.

130

29.

30. 31.

32. 33. 34. 35.

36.

37. 38.

39. 40. 41. 42.

Epistolary Selves See also Franco Moretti (1987), The Way of the World, The Bildungsroman in European Culture, Verso, London, pp. 24-28, for hints about double-entry bookkeeping and narrative. Max Weber's account of the making of the self through reading and writing is often forgotten in these modern rehearsals of the theme: Max Weber (1904-1905,1930), The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Allen and Unwin, London. See Linda Peterson (1986), Victorian Autobiography, The Tradition of Selfinterpretation, Yale University Press, New Haven for hermeneutic autobiography. Jack Goody's and Ian Watt's classic account of 'the consequences of literacy' is grounded in this historiography. Jack Goody and Ian Watt (1963), The Consequences of Literacy', in Jack Goody (ed.), Literacy in Traditional Societies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 27-68. You can read aloud - reading in seventeenth-century England was probably far more of a social activity than a private activity; but you can write aloud to a much lesser degree. But servants used as secretaries should make us revise these earlier assumptions about the effects of writing. See Goody and Watt (1963) for their classic statement. Nussbaum (1989). Walter J. Ong (1986),'Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought', in The Written Word, Literacy in Transition, Gerd Baumann (ed.), Clarendon Press, Oxford, p. 34; Peter Burke (1987), 'The Uses of Literacy in Early Modern Italy', in The Social History of Language, Peter Burke and Roy Porter, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 21-42; David Cressy (1993), 'Literacy in Context', in Consumption and the World of Goods, John Brewer and Roy Porter, Routledge, London, pp. 305-319; and Henri-Jean Martin (1994), The History and the Power of Writing (1988), University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 283-293. Goodman (1994), p. 137. Goodman (1994), p. 140. Alain Pages (1983), 'La Communication circulaire', in Ecrire, Publier, Lire. Les Correspondences, Jean-Louis Bonnet and Mireille Bossis (eds), Nantes. Janet Gurkin Altman (1989), 'Political Ideology and the Letter Manual (France, England, New England)', Studies in Eighteenth-century Culture, vol. 18, pp. 105-122; and Katherine Hornbeak (1934), 'The Complete Letter-writer in English, 1586-1800', Smith College Studies in Modern Languages, vol. 15 (3-4), pp. 1-50. Samuel Richardson to Johannes Stinstra, 2 June 1753, in Wilhelm C. Slattery (ed.) (1969), The Richardson-Stinstra Correspondence, Southern Illinois University Press, London and Amsterdam, p. 28; and Samuel Richardson (1741, 1928), Familiar Letters on Important Occasions, Routledge, London. The Spectator, no. 619 (12 December 1714). For the list, see Jack Goody (1977), The Domestication of the Savage Mind, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 52-111. See Walter Ong (1982), Orality and Literacy. The Technologizing of the Word, Methuen, London, pp. 98-101. See Goody (1987), pp. 211-214 and Part 4, passim. Nicola Watson (1994), Revolution and the Form of the British Novel, 1790-1825, Intercepted Letters, Interrupted Seductions, Clarendon Press, Oxford, p. 21. Nicola Watson (1994), pp. 10-17. Terry Eagleton (1982), The Rape of Clarissa. Writing, Sexuality and Class Struggle in Samuel Richardson, Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 54-55. Peggy Kamuff (1980), 'Writing Like a Woman' in Women and Language in Literature and Society, Sally McConnell-Ginet et al. (eds), Praeger, New York; Nancy K. Miller (1981), "'I"s in Drag. The Sex of Recollection', The Eighteenth Century, Theory and Interpretation, vol. 22:1 pp. 47-57; Linda S. Kauffman (1986), Discourses of Desire. Gender, Genre and Epistolary Fiction, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 30-61; and Cook (1994), p. 187.

A woman writing a letter 43. 44.

45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52.

53. 54.

55. 56. 57. 58. 59.

60. 61.

131

Gabriel de Labergne de Guillerages (1962), Lettres Portugaises, Valentins, et autres oeuvres, Edition Garnier Freres, pp. 34-69. F. N. du Bois (1695, trans. 1713), Histoire des Amours et Infortunes d'Abelard et d'Eloise; Betty Radice (trans.) (1974), The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, Penguin, Harmondsworth. See Kauffman (1986), pp. 63-89, 84-89 for 'The Literary History of the Letters'. Kathryn Shevelow (1989), Women and Print Culture, Routledge, London, p. 53. See also Nancy Armstrong (1987), Desire and Domestic Fiction. A Political History of the Novel, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 59-95. Julia Epstein (1988), 'Evelina's Deceptions. The Letter and the Spirit', in Fanny Burney's Evelina, Harold Bloom (ed.), Chelsea House, New York, pp. 111-129, 112-113. Frank Kermode and Anita Kermode (1995), The Oxford Book of Letters, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. xxi-xxii. Jane Gallop (1985), 'Annie Leclerc Writing a Letter, with Vermeer', October, vol. 33, pp. 103-118. Mary Cassatt (1890), 'The Letter', Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This painting provides the cover illustration for Frank and Anita Kermode's 1995 edition of The Oxford Book of Letters. Annie Leclerc (1977), 'La Venue a l'ecriture', in La Venue a l'ecriture, Helene Cixious, Madeleine Gagnon, and Annie Leclerc, Union Generale d'Editions, Paris. Toril Moi (ed.) (1987), French Feminist Thought, A Reader; Basil Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 73-79; and Rita Felski (1989), Beyond Feminist Aesthetics, Feminist Literature and Social Change, Heinemann, London, pp. 33-50. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar (1979), The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven, pp. 1-44; Gayle Greene and Coppelia Kahn (1985), Making a Difference, Feminist Literary Criticism, Routledge, London; Toril Moi (1985), Sexualffextual Politics, Feminist Literary Theory, Methuen, London, pp. 50-69, pp. 102-149; and Elaine Showalter (1986), 'Towards a Feminist Poetics', in The New Feminist Criticism, Essays on Women, Literature and Theory, Elaine Showalter (ed.), Virago, London, pp. 125-143. Gilbert and Gubar (1979), p. 3. Luce Irigary (1977), 'Ce sexe qui n'en est pas un', in Ce sexe qui n'en est pas un, Minuit, Paris, translated by Claudia Reeder as 'This Sex Which Is Not One' in Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtrivon (eds) (1980), New French Feminisms, University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, pp. 99-106. For the literary erotics of buried things, see Mary Jacobus (1979), 'The Buried Letter: Feminism and Romanticism in Villette', in Women Writing and Writing about Women, Mary Jacobus (ed.), Croom Helm, London, pp. 42-60. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1981), 'French Feminisms in an International Frame', Yale French Studies, vol. 62, pp. 154-184. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1988), 'Can the Subaltern Speak?', in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Cary Nelson and Leonard Grossberg (eds), Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 271-313. Edward Said (1978, 1995), Orienta/ism, 'Afterword', Penguin, Harmondswoth, p. 335. Elizabeth Abel (1993), 'Black Writing, White Reading: Race and the Politics of Feminist Interpretation', Critical Inquiry, vol. 19, pp. 470-498; Margaret Homans (1994), 'Women of Color: Writers and Feminist Theory', New Literary History, vol. 25:1, pp. 73-94; and Deborah E. McDowell (1995), The Changing Same, Black Women's Literature. Criticism and Theory, Indiana University Press, Bloomington. Spivak (1981), p. 155. Spivak (1981), pp. 164-165.

132 62. 63. 64.

Epistolary Selves

Gallop (1985), p. 110, p. 114. Gallop (1985). Florian Stuber (1989), 'Teaching Pamela', in Samuel Richardson. Tercentenary Essays, Margaret Doody and Peter Sabor (eds), Cambridge University Press, pp. 8-22. 65. Margaret Spufford (1979), Small Books and Pleasant Histories. Popular Fiction and Its Readership in Seventeenth-century England, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 19-44. For David Cressy's pessimistic account of female literacy, see David Cressy (1977), 'Illiteracy in England, 1530-1730', Historical Journal, vol. 20, pp. 1-23; and David Cressy (1980), Literacy and the Social Order, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 66. Caroline Bowden (1993), 'Women as Intermediaries: An Example of the Use of Literacy in Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries', History of Education, vol. 22:3, pp. 215-223; Pauline Croft (1995), 'Libels, Popular Literacy and Public Opinion in Early Modern England', Historical Research, vol. 68, pp. 266-285; W.B. Stephens (1990), 'Literacy in England, Scotland and Wales, 1500-1900', History of Education Quarterly, vol. 30, pp. 545-571; Denis Stuart (1991), 'Witnesses and Appraisers in Estimates of Literacy in Yoxall, 1590-1700', Local Historian, vol. 21:1 pp. 16-19; R.A. Houston (1982a), 'The Development of Literacy: Northern England, 1640-1750', Economic History Review, vol. 35:2, pp. 199-216; R.A. Houston (1982b), 'Illiteracy in the Diocese of Durham, 1663-1689 and 1750-1762: the Evidence of Marriage Bonds', Northern History, vol. 18, pp. 239-251; Peter Earle (1989), 'The Female Labour Market in the Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries', Economic History Review, vol. 43:3, pp. 328-353; and Gavin Kendall (1991), 'Reading the Child Reading, Literacy and the Formation of Citizens in England, 1650-1750', History of Education Review, vol. 20:2, pp. 79-87. 67. Margaret Spufford (1979), 'First Steps in Literacy. The Reading and Writing Experiences of the Humblest Seventeenth-century Spiritual Autobiographers', Social History, vol. 4:3 October, pp. 125-150; and Ian Michael (1987), The Teaching of English from the Sixteenth-century to 1870, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 200-21 I. 68. Margaret Spufford (1981), p. 35, quoting J.D. Marshall (ed.) (1967), The Autobiography of William Stout of Lancaster, 1665-1752, Manchester University Press for the Chetham Society, Manchester. 69. For the question of 'literate and literary servants' see Bridget Hill (1990), Servants, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 225-250. 70. Or maybe this was only possible in extravagantly literate households like that of the Moulton Barretts, where a mother's fanatical encouragement to her children's literary production seems to have produced an atmosphere in which even the housemaids were at it. See a letter signed 'Ann to Mrs Ogle' [n.d. but probably 1809 or 1810], annotated 'Birthday letter from maid to governess', in the Moulton Barrett family papers, Berg Collection, New York Public Library, Browning, EB 65B2426. 'Now it is your birthday I wrote to you I love you ... My dear Mrs Ogle you are as fine as a Peacock with its beautiful feathers on but your house-maid Ann is not half so fine She has only got an old apron and a gown on and a brush and Broom sweeping and dusting about I should think there is a great difference Is there not my dear Mrs Ogle you go and visit your relations as you are grand ... I have no relations I am like a beggar girl Only I don't beg about as beggar girls do but can assure you My dear Mrs Ogle that I must finish this letter your very affectionate servant housemaid Ann To My dearest Mrs Ogle on her birthday'. As I observed in 1982, the Moulton Barrett family collection in the New York Public Library contains a large amount of material showing the serious game of literary education that Mary Moulton Barrett set all her children. They were

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71.

n.

73. 74.

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encouraged to communicate with her and each other by letter, the house had a family post-box, and they were expected to compose odes in honour of family birthdays and to construct books. See ALS to Mary Graham Clarke Moulton Barrett (n.d.), signed Elizabeth and Henrietta: 'To our kind/mama an answer/to the nursery/My dearest and kind Mama/As I know you will not refuse/request that is reasonable I venturelto address you remember that we have/a great many things to do tomorrow/to alter my poetry and get flowers andlwrite my verbs and so has Hen solPray dear Mama do excuse us our/haste tomorrow and believe us you affect. Children Elizth. & Henrietta'. Elizabeth Moulton Barrett also received a great deal of encouragement to write from her paternal grandmother. See Carolyn Steedman (1982), The Tidy House, Virago Press, London, pp. 228-229. [Anon.] (1800), Hints to Masters and Mistresses, respecting Female Servants, Darnton and Harvey, London, pp. 12-13; [Anon.] (1800), Domestic Management, Or the Art of Conducting a Family with Instructions to Servants in General. Addressed to Young Housekeepers, H.D. Symonds, London, p. 10. Eagleton, (1982), p. 40. Michael Schudson (1993), 'Was There Ever a Public Sphere? If So, When? Reflections on the American Case', in Habermas and the Public Sphere, Craig Calhoun (ed.) MIT Press, Cambridge, pp. 143-163. Mary Wollstonecraft (1976), Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark (1798), University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln; Claire Tomalin (1977), The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, Penguin, Harmondsworth, pp. 47-48; and Ralph M. Wardle (ed.) (1979), The Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 285, 297, 298, 300, 305, 362, 370.

8 The power to die: Emily Dickinson's letters of consolation Daria Donnelly

More than any other poet in the language, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) strained and defied the generic distinctions between letter and lyric. Thomas Johnson, the editor who saved her work from the distortions of earlier editors, divided her opus into a three-volume Poems and a three-volume Letters.' These standard editions have come under scrutiny in recent years because of new attention to Dickinson's fascicles (handmade books of fair copy poems); new emphasis on her rejection of typography in favour of the possibilities of script and collage; and - of greatest interest here - because of a growing sense that the letters and poems are not separate endeavours. As a reading of the standard edition of Letters reveals, Dickinson's poems appear in letters at least 580 times (some of these are repeated uses), and in several ways: as enclosures on separate leaves; as the entire epistolary message framed only by a salutation and a signature; as part of the main body of the letter often (but not always) heralded by a profession of the inadequacy of prose such as, 'because I could not say it-I fixed it in the Verse' (L 251). Because only twelve of her poems appeared in print during her lifetime, letters are the dominant medium in which Dickinson circulated her poems. 2 But it is vital to note that the very distinction between letter and poem breaks down in Johnson: a cross-check between volumes of Letters and Poems reveals that the majority of what are called the late poems are epistolary statements. In an era when enclosing poems in letters was a conventional practice, Dickinson's interpolations of poems into letters are extensive and unconventional. The poems do not usually serve to clarify the epistolary situation. For the most part, she did not compose poems occasionally, and when she did, she was apt to place the poem again in an entirely new and emotionally different context. Conversely, the diction and syntax of her letters are as difficult as the poems. Dickinson blurred the boundaries between poetry and epistle in startling ways, moving in and out of lyric expression as many as five times in a single letter. In addition to those poetic interventions noted in Johnson by indentation, sentences of letters are frequently written in the hymn meter that is her poetic signature.

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In his controversial 1993 book, New Poems of Emily Dickinson, William Shurr claimed to have discovered some five hundred new Dickinson poems by abstracting these verse lines out of the letters. Although he did a service to readers of Dickinson by drawing attention to the phenomenon of epistolary verse, he seems to have assumed that these verses are art and the letter simply a means of getting information to another person: it is questionable whether the letters - written to specific individuals concerned with the minutiae of everyday life - are really suitable context for these poems. They seem to transcend such limiting contexts. It is only when they are isolated and presented as free-standing poems that we can focus on them as the works of art they are.' This statement is deaf to Dickinson's own claims that a letter is the most momentous encounter that can occur between persons. Dickinson ritualised the composition and reception of letters in ways that might strike us as extreme and even strange. After the age of thirty, Dickinson conducted virtually all human contact (including that with visitors to her home) through letters. Dickinson's claims for letters, her epistolary practice, and her increasingly majestic tone and strenuous diction - in one letter she wrote 'Excuse me for the Voice, this moment Immortal' (L 1040) - indicate that letters bore far more weight for her than has been granted. By defining letters as merely quotidian and limiting, Shurr ignores those encounters between letter and lyric that might help us understand Dickinson's work. From Ovid's Heroides forward, and especially in the modern period that Dickinson helped inaugurate, letters have been both a potent lyric fiction (e.g., Ezra Pound, 'The River-Merchant's Wife: a Letter'; Jon Stallworthy, 'Letter to a Friend'; Mark Strand, 'Letter') and rich subject of consideration (e.g., W.H. Auden, 'Letter'; Hart Crane, 'My Grandmother's Love Letters'). The poet Paul Celan described the poem as 'a letter in a bottle': 'in this way, too, poems are en route: they are headed toward. Toward what? Toward something open, inhabitable, an approachable you, perhaps an approachable reality.'" There is a sharp difference between the epistolary situation where the addressee can be named, has an identity that affects the language of the writer, and can talk back, and the poetic one in which the poem offers itself to an innominate addressee in an unspecifiable space-time. The tendency of poetry to apostrophise (to talk to people and things that cannot talk back: '0 Rose thou art sick'; 'My dear, dear Sister!'; 'Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill'), so ably charted by Jonathan Culler, is one feature of lyric poetry that underscores this difference. His stress on the embarrassment of apostrophe, particularly the Romantic apostrophe, allows us to imagine that the modern poet reaches for the letter mainly to reduce the strangeness - the solitude - of lyric address.·' Another major difference between letter and lyric, closely bound to that difference of addressee, is the distinct temporalities of the two genre. In her book Epistolarity, Janet Altman identifies the temporal polyvalence of epistolary discourse as distinguishing it from other discourses. The writer understands that a letter inherently dwells in the multiple temporalities of composition, movement

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through space-time, reception, reading, response, rereading; finally, the potency and meaning of the letter are subject to the vagaries of temporally-based shifts in affection and attention. 6 The lyric poem, by contrast, moves from a beginning to an end and cannot revise or unsay itself. Simultaneously, throughout the history of poetry, poems have made strong claims to defeat time: as Allen Grossman has said, 'the function of poetry as keeping alive, across the abysses of death and the difference between persons, the human image'.7 I will argue that Dickinson imagined that the uneasy juxtaposition of lyric and epistolary time in what are called her 'letters' might liberate the lyric from its terminal structure and isolating endurance and the letter from its narrow focus and specified temporality. Specifically, I will focus on her consolatory letters and argue that Dickinson deliberately subjected the lyric to a named relationship and to a moment in time as part of the woman poet's rejection of the immortality tapas of lyric poetry. In Dickinson's time, writing consolatory letters was part of a middle-class woman's duties: Dickinson takes up this task with almost parodic fidelity and with an immense sense of rage and sorrow. The consolatory letterpoem is one more means by which Dickinson refuses the claim that lyric poetry heals the ruptures of death and works through grief. With her letter-poems (like her choice for hymn meter over iambic pentameter) Dickinson resists the institutional consolations offered by the English lyric tradition and by Calvinist belief. This does not mean that Dickinson abandoned the possibility of human consolation. On the contrary, I will suggest that Dickinson blurs the distinction between letter and poem in order to discover an alternative means of mutual human acknowledgement. As she wrote in two 1885 letters (a statement Johnson transcribed into the Poems): 'A Letter is a joy of Earth-lIt is denied the Gods-' (P 1639, L 960 and 963). She was painfully aware, however, that her epistolary poetic practice resists existing institutions with greater success than it offers an alternate means of communion. Emily Dickinson was not a writer of elegiac verse." Death is a major preoccupation, but her poems do not attempt to come to terms with dying, nor do they work through grief. Yet Dickinson is deeply and complexly engaged in making a consolatory art. She was a committed practitioner of consolatory letter writing, an ancient form that was revived and revised by the Victorian mourning culture. 9 Dickinson wrote letter after letter to friends, neighbours and even strangers, offering solace that is unconventional in a number of ways: her letters are insistent in tone, generous in their adoption of the outlook of the person to whom they are addressed, sometimes hermetic, often impossibly self-dramatising. Dickinson was an extravagant epistolary mourner: she clings to grief, crowds out mourners who are closer to the dead by ties of marriage or kinship, and is explicit in her cruelty and her violations of the privacy of grief. Even as she reminded mourners of the consolation of their religion, she also made it clear that her own wild mourning stemmed from not sharing their faith. The gap between the courteous fact of her letters and their difficult style and moods accounts for strong disagreement among literary critics about their motive and meaning. The sheer number of letters she authored and her hyperbolic

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representation of her own mourning (sobbing, bedridden, immobilised) are reckoned as evidence of the extreme desolations of scepticism, or of her desire to parody sentimentalism and the strait-jacketing of women's power.'o David Porter believes that the letters stem from a desire to protect those she loved from the bewilderment caused by unbelief: 'Dickinson's conscientious production of consolation quite beyond the conventions actively pursued in her time came, it seems, directly from this abiding personal anarchy ... She paraded a conventional faith for all who needed it, for she knew personally what anarchy could descend when a coherent faith disappeared'." Camille Paglia, by contrast, finds her consolation letters, like her poetry, vampirish and sadistic: 'they are a Late Romantic prose-poem, a stunning chronicle of necrophilia and voyeurism' .'2 While Paglia rightly attends to the weird and sometimes aggressive tone in Dickinson's letters that Porter represses, I find his assessment of her relationship to mourners more accurate. The strange violence of what Dickinson called 'consolation upside down' (L 69) is an exaggeration of the social imperative to break the solipsism of grief. Engaged in an ongoing struggle with the theodicy of Calvinism, Dickinson felt an urgent need to design a consolatory art which did not denigrate life in favour of Eternity. Rather than regard the letters as a benign if eccentric outcome of a poetics of unbelief, or as ancillary to a decadent poetic practice, I would like to consider them in two ways: as attempts to authentically console from the standpoint of scepticism, which is to say, to console without anticipating an end to mourning, and, secondly, as alternative understandings of the elegy. Dickinson was acutely attuned to the desolating effect death had on the vitality of epistolary language as well as relationships. Once a person died, his or her letters became fragile artefacts which could be read again and again, but could not be revised or modified by additional correspondence. Dickinson notes this fact and the absurdity of her resistance to it in a consolation letter to a bereaved spouse in which she crashes her hyperbolic grief on the simple facts of a pencil: 'I took her notes-today- ... I held them to my lips-I put them in my breast-to see if I could warm them-and then the tears fell so-I feared that they would blot them out-as they were but in pencil-and so 1 laid them back' (L 243). At the same time, Dickinson makes a striking claim for the immortality of letters (a claim which scans as verse): 'A Letter always feels to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend' (L 330), which is repeated with slight but significant variation in a letter mourning her mother written thirteen years later, 'A Letter always seemed to me like Immortality, for is it not the Mind alone, without corporeal friend?' (L 788, my emphasis). At the very least this sentence draws attention to the letter as a reliable bearer of human presence. Given the power of letters to bring the other and the self to mind, Dickinson's attention to both the composition and reception of letters is intense. For Dickinson letters were as lively and dialogic as speech is to us: in fact, were more so because under the conditions of solitude and epistolary temporality, the writer (or writers) could develop an ongoing and referential language precisely

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for that relationship. The monologic insistence readers of Dickinson's letters have long noted, in my view, is related to her powerful desire for the dialogic. Explicitly and implicitly, Dickinson asked her correspondents for an equal intensity of writerly presence. As the language poet Susan Howe has said of Dickinson's letters, 'one-sided discourse abolishes one-sidedness'.13 Dickinson continually glossed her own writing, and seemed to have a phenomenal memory for it. On her deathbed she recollected the phrasing of a letter written twenty-six years before to the same correspondent. 14 The pithy final letter to her literary mentor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 'Deity-does He live now? My friend-does he breathe?' (L 1045), is a stunning and full echo of her first to him, 'Are you too deeply occupied to say if my Verse is alive? ... Should you think it breathed-and had you the leisure to tell me I should feel quick gratitude' (L 260). This allusion - and frankly, at that moment of suffering, ability to allude - suggests a poise and comic grace in the face of death that may have come from a lifetime of writing. J5 As I noted above, by her early thirties, Dickinson was conducting virtually all human exchange (with the exception of her household) in written language. 16 For our purposes, it does not matter whether Dickinson withdrew from speech and corporeal contact because of a psychological deficit or because she did not wish to subjugate her language to the moderating and often self-censoring dynamics of conversation; rather, what is of interest is that she took her own epistolary lifestyle as an object of thought. Out of her experience as a letter-writer, Dickinson designed a poetry which is not depleted by the death of the author or any reader. Many have argued that death is the great source of Dickinson's poetry, but I do not think it is so in the usual way. Her poetry is not a straightforward sublimation of, or compensation for death; rather, because she experienced death as the ultimate threat to the dialogic nature of correspondence, she constructed a voice not ossified by death, but one which demands that her readers wrestle the meaning out of a difficult and seductive language. Sharon Cameron has argued that the shattered syntax of the poems constitutes a resistance to linear time, and it may be that this resistance drew power from the liberating (that is because nonlinear) temporality of epistolarity in contrast to that of speech. J7 Speech follows the natural temporality in which we dwell, always going forward. A letter recollects moments in time and renders them artefacts of time, sent through and subject to ongoing time, read and always available to be read within ongoing time, answered with the discreet times of composing, reading, responding in mind as well as all that has passed in and between those events, and sent through time to be considered in a new moment of time and so on and so on. In other ways too, Dickinson's experience as a letter-writer seems to influence the way in which she crafts her poems: like letters, the poems pose questions, speak of intimate things in a vocabulary which assumes intimacy. The striking presence of codes in her correspondence (e.g. the repetition of white in her letters to Samuel Bowles), and of the compression which a lifelong correspondence permits might partly account for the famously compressed and cryptic and holophrastic poetics.

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The idea that Dickinson would ground her poetic practice in the experience of letter writing seems odd given her awareness of the fragility of correspondence in the face of death, and given the strong presumption that lyric poetry secures language (and perhaps human presence) against the ravages of death. But Dickinson was uncomfortable with the immortality topos, which, when present in her poems, is modified by the sense that the poet is illicitly benefiting from death. In poem 448, for example, the poet (interestingly gendered male) 'distils' and 'arrested' the mutable flower into an 'Attar,' a transformation (called in poem 675, 'the gift of Screws') that strangely 'entitles' others to 'ceaseless Poverty'. Though Dickinson is willing to forgive the poet because, 'Of Portionso unconscious-rrhe Robbing--could not harm', he is as much a Burglar as God (P 49). In poem 754, 'My Life had stood-a Loaded Gun', Dickinson suggests that poets cannot 'name all the birds without a gun', as Emerson had claimed in 'Forbearance', at least not if they wish to write poetry that is socially recognisable. In 'My Life had stood-a Loaded Gun', the female steps out of the corner into the light of day only when the Owner/MasterIHe takes her and she vocalises the Master tradition: 'And now We hunt the Doe-lAnd every time I speak for Him-rrhe Mountains straight reply'. It does not strain the poem to imagine that this male principle of visibility includes the elegiac tradition, which is so clearly implicated in her statement that her newly found power is limited to 'the power to kill,lWithout-the power to die'. Between the dark corner and the light of a blasting shotgun, Dickinson charted a third way based on her social death and her letter-writing life. Her epistolary practice reflects a desire to secure a space for human presence that does not depend on what she called in one letter 'an Exchange of Territory or World' (L 280). This effort involves not only a continual consideration of the inadequacy of a Christian heaven, but also the designing of a poetry which escapes the normal exchanges of presence for meaning in the elegy. It is in the consolation letters that these efforts are most visible and under greatest pressure. Although Dickinson refuses to credit poetry with an unambiguous immortalising function, the way in which she places poetry into letters suggests that poetry does something beyond what letters can. She inserts poetry when her epistolary prose breaks down, as the lines preceding the introduction of verse into letters dramatise: 'I can't explain it, Mr. Bowles' (L 219); 'Because 1 could not say it-I fixed it in the Verse' (L 251); 'I have no Saxon, now' (L 265); 'I had hoped to express more' (L 307); 'I send a message by a Mouth that cannot speak' (L 995).'" These heralds of poems to come have much in common with Dickinson's representation of the bewilderment of grief: 'I cannot write any more, dears. Though it is many nights, my mind never comes home. Thank you for the love, though 1 could not notice it' (to Louise and Frances Norcross after the death of her father, L 414); and this to Mrs Holland after the death of Austin and Sue Dickinson's son Gilbert (L 873): 'What was it 1 used to call you? 1 hardly recollect, all seems so different'. On at least one occasion there is an explicit announcement of poetry standing in when grief blocks prose: 'The Paper wanders

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so I cannot write my name on it, so I give you Father's Portrait instead'. (She writes this to Samuel Bowles after the death of her father, L 420.) This statement is followed by the poem 'As Summer into Autumn slips' (P 1346) and her signature. The poem rejuvenates her ability to write her name, to announce her ongoing existence to her correspondent. 19 Dickinson, then, conceived of poems as literally proceeding from the disablements grief wrought on the personal language of correspondence. Yet poems do not compensate for the inadequacies of prose, but rather insert their own troubled temporality into the mix as Poem 636 'The Way I read a Letter'sthis' makes clear: The Way I read a Letter's-this'Tis first-I lock the DoorAnd push it with my fingers-nextFor transport it be sureAnd then I go the furthest off To counteract a knockThen draw my little Letter forth And slowly pick the lockThen-glancing narrow, at the WallAnd narrow at the floor For firm Conviction of a Mouse Not exorcised beforePeruse how infinite I am To no one that You-knowAnd sigh for lack of Heaven-but not The Heaven God bestow-

The first three stanzas represent the mystical and occult pleasure of reading correspondence. The second line of the fourth stanza presents the crisis: the speaker cannot transfer the acknowledgement she has received in epistolary contact to the lyric 'You'.'O The '1' (personal and lyric) knows and is intimate with both the 'You' and the correspondent, but since they dwell in different temporalities, they do not have access to each other. This realisation precipitates the desire for a heaven in which both named and unnamed can be joined. Dickinson's poetry-laden letters accommodate both temporalities in a dream of human presence not requiring the sanction of God or Poetry. In her reminiscences of her aunt, Martha Bianchi is struck by Dickinson's failure to distinguish between trivial and significant letters, and remembers how she created a scene of reading where she could enjoy the momentousness of being addressed: Her love of being alone up in her room was associated with her feeling for a key, which signified freedom from interruption and the social prevention that beset her downstairs. She would stand looking down, one hand raised, thumb and forefinger closed on an imaginary key, and say, with a quick turn of her wrist, 'It's just a turn-

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and freedom Matty!' She read her letters here, never opening one until she was alone not even so much as a note from a neighbor." Dickinson's view that each letter or note holds the pror.lise of a genuine acknowledgement resonates with Emerson's expressed anticipation in his essay 'Experience', in the wake of the desolating loss of his son, that truth and consolation might present themselves in random encounters, rather than philosophies and faiths or pseudo-sciences like phrenology. Emerson, with characteristic self-reliance, refuses finally to construct meaning or call off the search for it: I saw a gracious gentleman [a devotee of phrenology] who adapts his conversation to the form of the head of the man he talks with! I had fancied that the value of life lay in its inscrutable possibilities; in fact that I never know, in addressing myself to a new individual, what may befall me. I carry the keys of my castle in my hand, ready to throw them at the feet of my lord whenever and in what disguise soever he shall appear. I know he is in the neighborhood, hidden among vagabonds. Shall I preclude my future, by taking a high seat, and kindly adapting my conversation to the shape of heads?" Emerson sheds light on Dickinson's idiosyncratic style as it asserts individual being and, even under the immense strain of grief, remains uncompromisingly difficult. Even while, with great social delicacy, Dickinson reproduces the faith of the mourners to solace them, she insists on her language as a means of bringing their own to mind. By refusing a conventional presentation of the conventional consolations she offers, Dickinson upholds the sharp and painful fact of individuality and solitude. This dynamic is amply demonstrated in her letter to Thomas Higginson written five months after the death of his seven week old daughter, Louisa (L 653, 1880): Dear friend, I was touchingly reminded of your little Louisa this Morning by an Indian woman with gay Baskets and a dazzling Baby, at the Kitchen Door-Her little Boy 'once died', she said, Death to her dispelling him-I asked her what the Baby liked, and she said 'to step'. The Prairie before the Door was gay with Flowers of Hay, and I led her in-She argued with the Birds-she leaned on Clover Walls and they fell, and dropped herWith jargon sweeter than a Bell, she grappled Buttercups-and they sank together, the Buttercups the heaviest-What sweetest use of Days! 'Twas noting some such Scene made Vaughn humbly say 'My Days that are at best but dim and hoary'I think it was VaughnIt reminded me too of 'Little Annie' of whom you feared to make the mistake in saying 'Shoulder Arms' to the 'Colored Regiment'-but which was the Child of Fiction, the Child of Fiction or of Fact, and is 'Come unto me' for Father or Child, when the Child precedes? Higginson, Dickinson's most maligned correspondent, was a Unitarian minister, radical abolitionist, leader of a Black regiment in the Civil War, writer, and

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literary critic. In this letter, Dickinson reminds him of his cherished avocations and passionate beliefs. In a cryptic and compressed diction, Dickinson tells Higginson about a young Indian girl whom she had invited to frolic in her garden, presumably while the girl's mother, part of a party of Indians then camping in Amherst, offered to sell her a basket. The Indian girl is obviously meant to remind him of his daughter, and the Indian mother, who had lost a son, stands in both for the mourning Higginson and for Dickinson, in her queer and accurate language. The hyperbole of this letter is delicious: the Amherst garden becomes a prairie, and buttercups things for a child to lean upon. Dickinson delights in the pleasure the child takes and in the mother's language, both as that language reflects her freedom from mourning for her boy ('Her little Boy "once died", she said, Death to her dispelling him.'), and as it overturns Dickinson's expectation that she would ask for something material for the baby girl ('I asked her what the Baby liked, and she said "to step'''). The letter is dense with allusions: to scripture; to other consolation letters she had written to Higginson; to Higginson'S book, Army Life in a Black Regiment. Each of these allusions disrupts the easy alliances between father (small f) and Father (as in God) that the sentimental mourning culture tried to forge. 23 The interpolated line from 'They Are All Gone into the World of Light!' by Henry Vaughan is of most interest here. Consonant with Dickinson's culturally normative though hyperbolised view that a consolation letter should 'begin that bleeding beginning that every mourner knows' (L 670), the Louisa letter aims to sharpen Higginson's grief; but its barb is softened by the interpolated poetic line. In uttering the lyric 'my' ('My days that are'), Dickinson stands with Higginson, and experiences the bereavement of childlessness. 24 She also transforms Vaughan's world-weariness into a wish to be a child again. This is Vaughan: They are all gone into the world of light! And I alone sit lingering here; ... I see them walking in an air of glory, Whose light doth trample on my days; My days, which are at best but dull and hoary Mere glimmering and decays.

Dickinson's allusion drains the crabby self-pity out of his poem: 'they sank together, the Buttercups the heaviest-What sweetest use of Days! 'Twas noting some such Scene made Vaughn humbly say "My Days that are at best but dim and hoary".' Even while Dickinson makes the road to Christian consolation less smooth, she liberates poetry from its insistent self-insistence in the face of death. Vaughan'S speaker is one form of the lyric'!' who survives death by attending foremost to his own feelings of bereavement. In Dickinson's use, there is a genuine sense of awe about the scene before her, and an opening up of the lyric 'my' ('My days that are at bes!') so that more than one person can be reflected there. She is there and Higginson can be too, equally, and equally sorrowing, though over different matters. Every time I read this letter I am struck by the restraint and delicacy of the allusion and the quick retreat: 'I think it was

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Vaughn'. It is clearly hard for Dickinson to allow Higginson his sorrow without trumping (or trumpeting) it. Letter 653 is not an easy consolation, neither in its sentiments nor in its style. The bewildering effects of grief are written into the very diction: 'I think it was'; 'But which was the child.' Higginson once confessed to Dickinson that her epistolary compression and intensity made him anxious: 'Sometimes I take out your letters & verses, dear friend, and when I feel their strange power, it is not strange that I find it hard to write & that long months pass' (L 330a). Higginson perfectly understands that Dickinson expects to find a power of mind and art in his letters equal to what he finds in hers.25 Her strong singular voice invites Higginson to show himself in language. To fend off such a challenge, he offers to meet her and talk. Dickinson, of course, preferred letters but agreed to meet him in order to keep the correspondence going. So it is not that the Voice, the Dickinson Voice, is compressed and difficult in order to elude the other. Nor is the business of writing letters to observe social niceties. Dickinson's declaration of self, encoded in her style, hoped for other such declarations and the acknowledgement that could ensue when two correspondents knew and professed themselves in letters. Dickinson had a strong sense of the plurality of worlds which kept her writing to persons so different from herself (he an abolitionist, she a cautious Whig; he a public actor, she a private woman; he a minister, she a sceptic; he a poetaster, she a poet), but she had an even stronger sense of the singularity of each human life. She once chided Mrs Holland for sending a letter addressed to both her and her sister Lavinia: 'A mutual plum is not a plum. I was too respectful to take the pulp and do not like the stone. Send no union letters. The soul must go by Death alone, so, it must by life, if it is a soul. If a committee-no matter' (L 321). Dickinson's ongoing quarrel with Calvinism, and what Shira Wolosky has called her 'struggle against God, whom she defies, but also toward him and with herself'26 involves a judgement that the Christian remedy for suffering is not efficacious, perhaps because it does not alter for each case. The intensity of Dickinson's grief as she shows it in a letter mourning the death of a young contemporary in 1842, her friend Lucy Dwight in 1862, her father in 1874, and her mother in 1882 is unchanging, and this is very striking given the strongly Christian milieu in which she lived. The relationship of her earlier to her later work falls into neither the model of maturation and acceptance argued by her biographer Cynthia Wolff nor that of exhaustion suggested by Thomas JohnsonY She never ceased her assault on Heaven, nor did she make peace with loss. In fact Dickinson, at the end of her life, seems increasingly sure that poetry and the work of letters were at least as powerful as those consolations offered by religious faith. Her last letters of mourning are tremendously bold, so dense with allusions as to be almost illegible articulations of ecstasy. In writing to Higginson about Helen Hunt jackson's death just a few months before her own, Dickinson continues to find Heaven, to put it mildly, an insufficient compensation for death: 'I think she would rather have stayed with us, but perhaps she will learn the

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Customs of Heaven, as the Prisoner of Chillon of Captivity'. In the same letter, she makes her strongest claims for poetry as a form of honour-'Thank you for "The Sonnet"-I have lain it at her loved feet,' and as a blessing of being in the wake of the eclipse of God, 'Audacity of Bliss, said Jacob to the Angel "1 will not let thee go except I bless thee"-Pugilist and Poet, Jacob was correct' (L 1042). In the last three years of her life, the distinction between poetry and letters entirely collapsed, so that what I call consolation letters might also be termed elegies, directing themselves not at the immortality of the poet or language but rather at simple momentousness of reciprocal acknowledgement. The most famous of these is Letter 868, written October 1883 following the death of her nephew, Gilbert Dickinson. 28 The second son of Emily's brother Austin and Susan Gilbert Dickinson, he was favoured by his aunt and was the hope for the endurance of the family name (his brother Ned was sickly and rightly thought unlikely to have children). When the eight-year-old contracted a sudden fever, Emily Dickinson, apparently for the first time in fifteen years, left her home to venture next door as he lay dying. Her relationship to Sue was complicated by its passion, and by her brother's infidelity.29 The scene of death overwhelmed her, she returned home, became ill and was eventually diagnosed with nervous prostration. Within days of the death, she penned what is widely regarded as her most beautiful letter: Dear SueThe Vision of Immortal Life has been fulfilledHow simply at the last the Fathom comes! The Passenger and not the Sea, we find surprIses usGilbert rejoiced in SecretsHis Life was panting with them-With what menace of Light he cried 'Don't tell, Aunt Emily'! Now my ascended Playmate must instruct me. Show us, prattling Preceptor, but the way to thee! He knew no niggard moment-His Life was full of Boon-The Playthings of the Dervish were not so wild as hisNo crescent was this Creature-He traveled from the FullSuch soar, but never setI see him in the Star, and meet his sweet velocity in everything that flies-His Life was like the Bugle, which winds itself away, his Elegy an echo-his Requiem ecstasyDawn and Meridian in one. Wherefore would he wait, wronged only of Night, which he left for usWithout a speculation, our little Ajax spans the wholePass to thy Rendezvous of Light, Pangless except for usWho slowly ford the Mystery Which thou hast leaped across! Emily.

The letter contains all the traditional elements of the elegy: lamentation, praise,

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and the articulation of a compensation that will allow for an end to mourning. It presents conventional sentimental views of the dead as a guide and of early death as an indication that the boy was too good for this world. 30 Yet the epistolary frame utterly transforms the elegy: it mourns privately for a private figure, makes no universal claim, and serves a specifiable relationship. It is not meant to be overheard. The letter has hallmarks of the Dickinson style: prose and poetry are interwoven, and not simply where indicated by lineation. Most of the letter is written in meter. The strikingly different units of thought can be broken into discreet stanzas. There is even internal and external rhyme. Dickinson's style parallels that advocated by religious thinker Horace Bushnell, the Connecticut Congregationalist who was nearly expelled from his pulpit in 1850 for his reflections on language in his book God in Christ. Bushnell attempted to move Calvinist Congregationalism out of its defensive response to enlightenment rationalism by building up a theory of metaphor that would combat both biblical literalism and empiricism. Religion, he argued, 'has a natural and profound alliance with poetry' in that both are irreducible and are damaged by rational explication. 31 Bushnell argued that the most accurate way to approach the core truth of religion was to juxtapose a variety of 'dictions': It will ... be necessary, on this account, to multiply words or figures, and thus to

present the subject on opposite sides or many sides. Thus, as form battles form, and one form neutralizes another, all the insufficiencies of words are filled out, the contrarieties liquidated, and the mind settles into a full and just apprehension of the pure spiritual truth. Accordingly we never come so near to a truly well rounded view of any truth, as when it is offered paradoxically; that is, under contradictions; that is, under two or more dictions, which taken as dictions are contrary to one another."

Here might be an explanation of why Dickinson mixes poetry and letter. Certainly Bushnell's reflections give us insight into how the multiple dictions of this letter: oracular, prosaic, metaphoric, comic and hyperbolic, work together to bring to mind the sweetness of the boy and the enormity of the loss. The letter-poem is unusual among Dickinson's consolations for several reasons. She allows herself, for the first and only time, to be named by and in relation to the dead: 'Don't tell, Aunt Emily!'. Although she typically exempts herself from solace and dramatises her bewilderment, here she offers the consoling evidence of Gilbert's presence: 'I see him in the Star, and meet his sweet velocity in everything that flies'. She finds a compensation in her reiteration of the word 'light'. The odd 'of' in the line 'Rendezvous of Light', where 'with' is expected, suggests that immortal life is the mutual recognition of two lights rather than the caprice of election; the Light of Heaven meets the 'menace of light' that is Gilbert's rapturous playfulness. The negation of light in the rhymed 'Night' accumulates: in reference to the Dawn-Meridian clause preceding it, night means old age, and, to the clause following it ('which he left for us'), signifies not only age but the desolating bereavement both of Gilbert's light and the consoling Light of Heaven. His elegy is 'an echo', one which consigns Sue and Emily to

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never-ending night and Gilbert to Heaven, an exchange that consoles but provides no end to mourning. In contrast to those elegies in which the mourner is able to pass through grief and move on (e.g. 'Lycidas', 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd'), the best Sue and Emily can do is slog toward him. The letter, in some sense, is a setting for the small poem which ends it: 'Light' echoes 'light', 'except for us' echoes 'he left for us', the river implied by 'ford' and 'leaped across' is a strange repetition of the 'Sea'. These echoes make the multiple reflections of the letter retroactively cohere. Interestingly, Dickinson uses the same four lines in a letter written to Higginson a year later on the occasion of sending him the biography of George Eliot (L 972): Dear friendIt is long since I asked and received your consent to accept the Book, should it be, and the ratification at last comes, a pleasure I feared to hopeBiography first convinces of the fleeing of the BiographiedPass to thy Rendezvous of Light Pangless except for usWho slowly ford the Mystery Which thou hast leaped across! Your Scholar-

The poem is very strange in this context, one of a number of private iterations of lines and poems in letters. When Dickinson commands Gilbert to pass, all the language prior to that moment, especially his parallel command, 'Don't tell', has helped to make her apostrophe an appropriate and natural one, if an interesting usurpation of Sue's maternal role. George Eliot had been dead for five years when Dickinson addressed her and poor Higginson must have wondered what she meant. I find the reuse weird and subversive, as if Dickinson is saying, in defiance of the cultural attention lavished on dead artists, if it's good enough for Gilbert, then it's good enough for you, George. By abstracting the poem from the context of the letter in which it serves as the end of an elegy, Dickinson turns it into a gnomic utterance with little elegiac feeling. One might also consider the reuse a lingering aftershock, where a formulation of grief cannot be put aside even when inappropriate, or as an annihilation of the power of her earlier consolatory letter. This unsettling of feeling by resetting or restating a poem also occurs when the public is made private, as, for example, when Dickinson rewrites Higginson's long-published Civil War elegy 'Decoration' as a four-line poem which she places into a letter written to him on the third anniversary of her father's death: Lay this Laurel on the One Too intrinsic for Renown Laurel-vail your deathless treeHim you chasten, that is He! (P 1393)

Of the transformation, Higginson later remarked, 'it is the condensed essence of that lmy poem1 & so far finer'.3' But Dickinson bled away the explicit context of war in favour of a personal tribute to her father. Dickinson was engaged in

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privatising the elegy, a move which Celeste Schenck has characterised as typical of women's elegies. 34 But Dickinson goes further than any of the female poets whom Schenck reads by refusing to write free-standing elegies, even in the privacy of her room. Such renunciation is in keeping with Dickinson's judgement that all compensations for death, poetic and religious, are inadequate to the enormity of loss. By bringing poetry into letters, Dickinson imagines a poetry with 'the power to die' and also imagines letters as the proper setting for the lavish attention a poet brings toward being. Notes 1.

All references to poems noted by (P) are found in Thomas H. Johnson (ed.) (1951), The Poems of Emily Dickinson, three volumes, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge. All references to letters (L) are found in Thomas H. Johnson, and Theodora Ward (eds) (1958), The Letters of Emily Dickinson, three volumes, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge. 2. Dickinson began to place her poems into letters in 1851, for five years exclusively to her brother Austin, and to Susan Gilbert, her friend and eventual sister·in-law. The number of people to whom Dickinson sent her poems expanded and the rate she placed her poems in letters accelerated so that almost all poems written in the last ten years of her life are in letters. When Dickinson wrote to professional writers and publishers, among them Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Helen Hunt Jackson and Thomas Niles, she enclosed poems on separate leaves. In some of those letters, she cues her reader that these poems might be of interest, but in the main they are unexplained. Their presence hints a desire for print publication. Dickinson often addressed poems to Sue with no other frame than a greeting and signature; the minimal frame evinces an epistolary relationship of sufficient intensity and frequency to require only the slightest courtesies of exchange. Sue's corporeal proximity, her interest in Dickinson's poems and her advisory capacity are all taken for granted. The third and most common way Dickinson placed her poems was in the body of a letter. Virtually all of the poems in epistolary consolations are situated this way. The poem is thematically linked to the prose subject of the letter. The poem can be considered occasional only in the sense that it is appropriate to the occasion, since it sometimes exists prior to the occasion and frequently is reused in another letter unrelated to mourning. Of the several ways in which Dickinson conceived of a reading public for her poetry, enclosure in the epistolary context was clearly the dominant way. Her relationship to print publication was ambivalent; the dozen poems published anonymously in her lifetime were a result of correspondence with relatives, family or childhood friends who happened to be figures in the publishing world: Samuel Bowles, Josiah Holland, Helen Hunt Jackson, Gordon and Emily Fowler Ford, and Charles Sweetser. See Cynthia Griffin Wolff (1986), Emily Dickinson, Alfred Knopf, New York, pp. 245, 259. Karen Dandurand (1984), 'New Dickinson Civil War Publications', American Literature, vol. 56, pp. 17-27. Dandurand points out that in two instances poems first published by correspondents were reprinted by journals with which Dickinson had no affiliation. Dickinson did not follow Jackson's advice to actively seek publication. 3. William Shurr (1993), New Poems of Emily Dickinson, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, p. 10. This book has provoked controversy among Dickinson scholars not only because Shurr assumes, against the tide of current Dickinson

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scholarship, that the letters are 'limiting contexts' but also because he assumes that any epigrammatic epistolary statement that scans as a fourteener is a poem. These objections are revisited by Martha Nell Smith and Ellen Louise Hart (1994), Emily Dickinson International Society Newsletter, May/June issue. Martha Nell Smith (1992), Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson, University of Texas Press, Austin, looks at the many verse epistles written to Sue (which may include the Master letters) and argues that they are a poetry workshop and expressions of love. Smith suggests that poetry and letters were not distinct in Dickinson's mind, and it is folly for editors to make the distinction. But as my discussion of the letters and P 636 suggests, Dickinson certainly knew that poetry and letters had distinct phenomenologies. Smith's main focus is not verse-in-letters but she has interesting asides on it, especially at p. 110 where she reproduces Gary Lee Stonum's assertion that by putting poems in letters Dickinson is expressing her ambivalence about the 'poet as master' and making them more reader friendly. I, by contrast, find them strange and stranger within their epistolary contexts and primarily interesting as phenomenal rather than meaning-bearing objects. See Gary Lee Stonum (1990), The Dickinson Sublime, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, p. 149-187. Lewis Turco (1993), Emily Dickinson, Woman of Letters, State University of New York Press creates new poems from epistolary verse lines; the essays which accompany his centos consider letters from a biographical perspective or as parallel to the poetry in their construction of images. More apposite to my thinking is Christanne Miller's argument that the insistent feel of the poems comes from their replication of epistolarity: Christanne Miller (1986), 'A Letter is a Joy of Earth: Dickinson's Communication with the World" Legacy, vol. 3, pp. 29-39. 4. Paul Celan, (1986), 'Speech on the Occasion of Receiving the Literature Prize of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen', Collected Prose, translated by Rosmarie Waldrop, Sheep Meadow Press, New York, p. 35. 5. Jonathan Culler (1981), 'Apostrophe', The Pursuit of Signs, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 135-154. 6. Janet Gurkin Altman (1982), Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form, Ohio State University Press, Columbus, pp. 117-l42. 7. Allan Grossman (1992), The Sighted Singer, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, p. 6. 8. Even her 'commemorative poems' in memory of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (P 312, 363, 593) manifest none of the usual generic marks of elegy. For reflections on woman poets in relation to the elegiac tradition see Celeste M. Schenck (1986), 'Feminism and Deconstruction: Reconstructing the Elegy', Tulsa Studies in Women's LIterature, vol. 5, pp. 13-27: 'refusal of consolation ... is perhaps the female elegist's most characteristic subversion of the masculine elegiac' (p. 24). As usual, Dickinson seems more extreme, refusing even the form and rewriting it into letters. 9. In contrast to the public and even oratorical qualities of ancient consolation letters, epistolary consolation in the nineteenth century was private and largely the purview of women. I allude to the ancient practice to dispel a certain prejudice against the weightiness of Dickinson's work. Barton Levi St Armand discusses the Victorian practice of epistolary consolation in Barton Levi St Armand (1984), Emily DIckinson and Her Culture, Cambridge University Press, pp. 39-77. Norman Autton, (1967), 'The Art of Consolation', Pastoral Care for the Bereaved, SPCK, London, provides a history of the consolatory letter from its origins in Crantor through Cicero, Plutarch, Seneca, St Basil, St Jerome. 10. The former view is articulated by David Porter (1981), Dickinson: The Modern Idiom, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, p. 176, and the latter by Gertrude Hughes (1986), 'Subverting the Cult of Domesticity: Emily Dickinson's Critique of Women's Work', Legacy, vol. 3, p. 18. 11. Porter (1981), p. 176.

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12. Camille Paglia (1990), Sexual Personae, Yale University Press, New Haven, p. (i65. 13. Susan Howe (1986), 'Women and Their Effect in the Distance', Ironwood, vol. 28, p. 8~ . 14. Letter 260 and 1045 to Thomas Wentworth Higginson. 15. That Dickinson is also an acute reader of letters is amply demonstrated by her response (L 330) to Higginson's anxiety (L 330a). She repeats words he has used, diminishes 'the Voice' and begins to compromise about meeting him. 16. For the four years prior to Dickinson's death, Mabel Loomis Todd was a regular visitor to the Homestead, played piano for Dickinson, and exchanged notes with her. Todd first saw Dickinson's face in the coffin. 17. Sharon Cameron (1979), Lyric Time: Dickinson and the Limits of Genre, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, pp. 1-25, 196. See also Shira Wolosky (1984), Emily Dickinson: A Voice of War, Yale University Press, New Haven, pp. 1-31. 18. A variation of these introductions occurs when Dickinson figures poems as other art forms: 'Let Emily sing for you because she cannot pray' (L 278); 'The Paper wanders so I cannot write my name on it, so I give you Father's portrait instead' (L 420); 'I send you a Portrait of the Parish, and the first Sugar-Don't bite the Parish, by mistake, though you may be tempted' (L 493); 'I cannot make an Indian Pipe but please accept a Hummingbird' (L 770); 'A Tone from the old Bells, perhaps might wake the Children' (L 934). 19. Dickinson played with her signature name: Emily; Emilie; and E. Dickinson which she adopted for a time after the death of her father, Edward. She may have been claiming his name or holding off the reality of his death. In the letter to Bowles she signs herself Emily. . 20. In his reading of the poem, Christopher Benfey evades the thorny problem of the lyric 'You': 'The intimacy of reading a letter admits only two people, sender and receiver. The last two lines rehearse that shift in emphasis that I argue is characteristic of Dickinson: a shift from salvation through God to salvation through other people'. Although I agree with the gist of his conclusion, I do not thipk that the Heaven constituted by two is the Heaven for which Dickinson sighs. She wants the 'You' to be as intensely related to the writer/reader as they are to one another. Christopher Benfey (1984), Emily Dickinson and the Problem of Others, University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, p. 49. 21. Martha Dickinson Bianchi (1932), Emily Dickinson Face to Face, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, p. 66. Dickinson's practice of reading correspondence would have been regarded as peculiar given that correspondence was read aloud in middle-class parlours. Austin's letters home 'were read in this way and her father declared them to be as good as Shakespeare. According to the accounts written by the young people around her, Dickinson seems to have been a public writer and a private reader of letters. This suggests that she understood her poetic insertions into letters as the message to a single audience who is representative for all possible audiences. In her reminiscence of Emily Dickinson, Clara Newman (Turner) reports the way in which Dickinson consulted her, and playfully addressed her as her 'world', her innominate audience: My own personal acquaintance with Emily Dickinson began when I was a young school girl, and many were the interests I took to her at our trysting-place, on the top stair of the flight leading down to a side hall. It was almost dark but opened into many retreats for my fawn-like friend. On a few never-to-be-forgotten occasions she read to me there a verse or two before enclosing in some friendly letter asking me to tell her what it meant to me and calling me her little World. I think I can never feel more proud than when she honored me by thinking I understood her.

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22. 23.

24.

25.

26. 27.

28.

29.

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(Clara Newman Turner, 'My personal acquaintance with Emily Dickinson', in The Life Of Emily Dickinson, Richard B. Sewall (1974), Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York, p.l:271.) In her brief reading of the poem The Way I read a Letter's-this,' Christa nne Miller is also struck by the significance of each and every letter: 'The poem's opening indefinite article - "a Letter" - indicates that all letters require this attention and produce a similar ecstasy, or perhaps even that love letters are the prototype for all letters' (p. 30). Ralph Waldo Emerson (183), Essays and Lectures, Literary Classics of the United States Library of America, New York, p. 475. See Ann Douglas (1975), 'Heaven Our Home: Consolation Literature in the Northern United States, 1830-1880,' in Death in America, David Stannard (ed.), University of Pennsylvania Press, [Philadelphia], pp. 49-68. See also Ann Douglas (1977), 'Domestication of Death' The Feminization of American Culture, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Hughes (1986) argues that Dickinson's poetry of death refuses not only the consolations of the Calvinist providential Father-God but also the extension of domestic life into heaven by the anti-Calvinist sentimental spiritualism which Douglas describes, on the grounds that both uphold the authority of patriarchy (p. 24). Dickinson frequently changed words when alluding to poems. In her version of Vaughan'S They Are All Gone into the World of Light!', 'which' becomes 'that', 'dull and hoary' becomes 'dim and hoary'. I tend to think that these 'mistakes' are deliberate attempts to improve the poems. From experience he knows the effect of his language, as when she responds to his first letter about her poems, 'Your kindness claimed earlier gratitude-but I was ill-and write today from my pillow. Thank you for the surgery-it was not so painful as I supposed' (L 261). But when he overpraises in the next, she catches him out: 'Perhaps the Balm, seemed better, because you bled me, first' (L 265). Wolosky (1984), p. xiv. Wolff (1986), pp. 517-519: 'The girl who demanded so stridently to see Heaven so that she might glimpse the face of the Godhead has at length matured into a woman who values "The Birds she lost" above all other things: now Dickinson demands to see Heaven only for the humans who now live there' (p. 517). Wolff's equation of the sentimental gospel of consolation with maturity is very strange. In addition, Dickinson's very late invocation of Jacob, 'Pugilist and Poet', contradicts the cessation of desire to seize heaven which Wolff argues. See also Johnson and Ward (19~8), vol. 3, pp. 654, 808. Johnson suggests that with the death of Gilbert in 1883 'went a certain inner light'. She 'groped' for words with which to write poems but produced 'fragments'. He concedes that there were still some 'noble utterances in the letters'. This presumes that she still conceived of letter writing as distinct from poetry. Gilbert's name contained both Susan's patronymic (Gilbert) and Austin's (Dickinson). See the obituary written by Sue for the Amherst Record: 'Hopes are always buried with children but not often do we lose in the death of so young a boy so much actual fruition' in Sewall (1974), pp. 124-125n. The death permanently disabled the adult members of the Dickinson households. Sewall cites Vinnie's letter indicating the near fatal blow Gilbert's death proved to be for his father: 'Of course you knew little Gilbert has disappeared & Emily & I have had hard work to keep Austin from following him' (p.I:146). On Dickinson's collapse see L 873. Sue went into a prolonged period of mourning and was unkindly dubbed 'the great big black mogul' by Austin and his lover, Mabel Loomis Todd. See Sewall (1974), p.I:205. Sewall argues that this death was the most difficult one Emily Dickinson faced. For importance of Gilbert to the family line see Wolff (1986), p. 504. Smith (1992) gives the most sustained attention to Dickinson's relationship with Sue. Wolff (1986), p. 429, points out that Sue was closest to Dickinson in her scepticism, and she charts the transformation of Sue's energies from religious devotion to hosting prominent literary and political people.

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30. St Armand (1984), p. 79, stresses the Victorian understanding of the dead as a guide. 31. Charles Feidelson (1953), Symbolism and American Literature, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 155. 32. Quoted in Feidelson (1953), p. 156. See also David L. Smith (ed.) (1984), Horace Bushnell; Selected Writings on Language, Religion, and American Culture, AAR Studies in Religion 3, Scholar Press, Chico, CA, for biographical data, analysis of Bushnell's language theory and selections from God in Christ. 33. For the story of this transformation see Johnson (1951), vol. 3, pp. 960-962. See also L 503. 34. Schenck (1986), p. 15.

9 'You let a weeping woman call you home?' Private correspondences during the First World War in Austria and Germany Christa

Hammerle:~

Prologue: only fragments' More than a hundred letters, most several pages long, written primarily in oldfashioned Kurrent-script and folded in yellowed envelopes with changing addresses and field post numbers, postmarks and censorship stamps; and among them nearly as many picture postcards and pre-printed army mail correspondence cards: all of them written and mailed, read and answered in the course of the First World War by a pair of young lovers who were later to marry - these represent but a part of Christl Lang and Leopold Wolf's total correspondence at the time. Individual letters are missing, as are all of the letters written by the pair during whole phases of the war. As a consequence, the perspective of one correspondent is often reduced to its reflection in the perception of the other, and so the 'tension between one's view of oneself and the view of the other' is intensified.' Fiction and reality merge. However, there are facts of which we are certain: Christl Lang and Leopold Wolf, the authors of this correspondence, both came from middle-class Viennese homes and had met at the beginning of 1914. When war broke out the following summer, Leopold Wolf was conscripted in the rank of a cadet, quickly advancing to second lieutenant and then first lieutenant in a mortar division of the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian artillery which was stationed in Belgium and later in Poland on the eastern front of the war. In the spring of 1916 he was sent to the southern front between Italy and AustriaHungary and was also in Hungary for a short time. Thus, with the exception of a few home leaves, he was for four years obliged to keep up and to deepen his relationship with Christl by means of correspondence to and from the front. Nevertheless the couple celebrated their engagement in 1915 and were married in April 1917. A daughter was born in the spring of 1918. Christl lived

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alternately in Vienna and in the countryside, while Leopold remained in action until the end of the war. Their correspondence from this time represents only one form of epistolary dialogue between the sexes during the First World War.3 Many others could be mentioned, most of which have received little attention and have not yet been the subject of study: the wartime correspondences of mothers and sons: fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters/ the letters and postcards exchanged between unmarried soldiers and the young girls of a village" or urban district, and the millions of letters and cards between soldiers on the front or in military hospitals and schoolgirls and women who were not related to them on the 'home front', which arose through war relief efforts. 7 They all contributed to an unprecedented upswing in the volume of postal communication, a much-touted and popular topic in the first days of the war. Nevertheless, such documents were rarely preserved, and even then, often only as fragments of a considerably larger mutual correspondence. The great significance such correspondence once had for people separated from each other by the power of the stateS during the First World War stands in marked contrast to the marginal status it possesses in the current discourse of history' as well as in collective memory. This applies doubly for women and girls, since documents that bear witness to individual female experience are much less likely to leave 'the private sphere in which they come into existence'.'o When this does occur, they are more likely to sink into oblivion. This is surprising for several reasons. Billions of letters and cards First of all reference should be made to the quantitative aspect of the phenomenon. The German Empire alone recruited 13.2 million men from July 1914 to November 1918, the Hapsburg monarchy another 8.3 million. On the side of the Allied powers there were approximately 15 million Russians, 8 million French and 5.7 million British soldiers, and after May 1915, about 5.5 million Italian men were recruited, with an additional 2 million American soldiers participating after April 1917." For all of these, as well as for millions and millions of their relatives and friends, letters, cards and packages were for long periods of time practically the only means of direct contact. Under these restricted circumstances, they tried make sense of the new geography of the front and of home, to exchange their experiences of war, and to express feelings of love and longing, fear and concern for the well-being of the other, regardless of whether they had engaged in such private correspondence before the outbreak of the war. In the crisis of war letters became a part of everyday life. Estimates of the volume of mail conveyed to and from the front indicate that the war-related exchange of letters not only became immensely popular, but also developed into what could be described as a mass cultural phenomenon that affected all classes of society. Research on the German Empire has revealed that the army postal service during the war forwarded approximately 28.7 billion

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items of 'post of all kinds' between the front, bases and home, the greater part of which were letters, correspondence cards, telegrams and packages sent from home to the front. These amounted to roughly 9.9 million items of post daily, as opposed to approximately 6.8 million coming from the other direction. 12 Nine million items of post 13 were forwarded every day by the army postal service of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which had been newly reorganised one year before the outbreak of the war" and which served the thirteen nationalities of an empire whose soldiers were stationed not only in Russia, Rumania, the Balkans and Italy, but also on the German western front, the Suez Canal, Palestine, the Dardanelles and the Far East.15 This amount includes vast quantities of military postcards printed by the authorities, of which 655,696,314 and 171,622,200 were said to have been issued in Austria and Hungary respectively in the course of the war.16 Because of the scarcity of literature available on the topic,17 it is not possible to provide a more detailed and comprehensive account of the movement of post to all the military post offices of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy as a whole. The military postal system included approximately five hundred field post offices and two hundred base post offices administered by twelve army post director's offices, and four base post and telegraph director's offices. It was headed by one office of the General Director of the military postal service and altogether employed approximately 2,800 military postal service workers." However, the total volume of post was so great that the military administration tried repeatedly to place restrictions on it. In Austria-Hungary there were repeated calls for the abolition of free postage for all letters to and from the front (for letters weighing up to one hundred grams), as had been the practice since the campaign against Denmark in 1864 and generally at times of war since 1884.19 This suggestion, however, was not implemented. 'o The need for a smoothly functioning military postal system was apparent; the authorities were continually faced with a daily flood of letters and packages, even when it became difficult to ensure their speedy delivery due to troop movements or battles. In particular, vehement criticism was levelled at the many postal bans imposed for strategic reasons or whenever the military postal system was overburdened, for it was at such times that people most feared the death of their loved ones on the front. A compromise solution was found to the innumerable complaints about the military postal service: a special army postcard on green paper was issued. The following text was pre-printed on the back of each card in all of the languages of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy: '1 am fine and in good health'. Soldiers were not permitted to add any other words to this message, but the card could be forwarded during a postal ban, providing relatives at least with a sign of life from their loved ones." Censorship and the strategic value of letters The enormous significance of the army postal service as a reflection of the physical condition and state of mind of a society at war can by no means be

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expressed only in terms of its quantifiable characteristics. There was a further, qualitative dimension, which Helmut Graf von Moltke, Prussian chief of staff during the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars of 1866 and 1870-1871, is said to have acknowledged with the words 'War cannot be waged without an army postal service', even though at that time he knew nothing of the mass industrialised war of the twentieth century. Extensive use was made of the strategic value of the military postal service for the conduct of war during the Great War of 1914-1918. Letters became a kind of 'weapon', and both direct and indirect attempts were made to control and influence the flood of postal communication so that it could serve this function. Thus there arose a tense and conflict-ridden situation, as private correspondence was subjected to continual and unprecedented public attempts at standardisation, supervision and tutelage. 23 Postal censorship was practised for the duration of the war. It existed within the broader framework of the official censorship system, which, in the words of the Austrian historian Gustav Spann, was 'surely the most repulsive institution of state-cun mind-control', as it pried 'into private matters'.24 In particular, soldiers were forbidden to mention exact place names and troop designations, which were to be replaced by the appropriate field post or base post number,2.1 and correspondents were enjoined to refrain from making any remarks critical of the military or the war in general. All letters by members of the armed forces had to be handed in unopened and were transmitted to the military censorship office of the unit to be checked - or at least spot checked - and to receive a censorship stamp, without which no post was permitted to be forwarded to the home. 2• 'Censored - suitable for conveyance', read the stamp commonly used in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. There was also the risk of censorship at home. While private domestic correspondence was checked only in certain areas," special censorship commissions were responsible for all foreign correspondence. After October 1916, these commissions were centralised through the establishment of three main censorship offices located in Vienna, Budapest and Feldkirch. In addition, there were two central offices that dealt with the entire correspondence of prisoners of war. Each of these institutions employed approximately one thousand people, who were assigned to different subject and language groups and who checked one to three million postal items every month. On the basis of this work it was possible to evaluate the critical issue of the population's loyalty to the multiracial Austro-Hungarian state. Starting in the autumn of 1916, comprehensive monthly reports on 'public sentiment' were put together." Private letters were thus used directly to support the war. There was another, more indirect, use of mail which began immediately after the outbreak of the war. At that time in both Germany and Austria it became unusually common and popular to publish letters and postcards written to and from the front, a practice promoted by various media. Along with censorship, this phenomenon represents the second way in which private correspondence was strongly influenced during the war, for this discourse determined the direction the content of wartime correspondence was meant to - and often did - take, thus

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instrumentalising it for political and propagandistic purposes. 29 This particularly applies to the men serving in the military. Numerous anthologies with titles like 'The Austro-Hungarian War in Letters from the Front' or 'Soldiers' Letters from the World War' compiled voices that were lauded as authentic and which were sustained by patriotism and fighting spirit. 3D There was hardly a daily newspaper that did not feature at least one page with letters 'From Our Military Post bag' or 'From Enemy Territory,'3! claiming to bear witness to the 'soul of the front'.32 The extent of this practice even resulted in official restrictions being placed on the commercialisation of army post. 33 On the other hand, government or military institutions themselves gathered and documented these testimonies in a more or less systematic manner, partly with the long-term perspective of a future historical account of the war. 3' Similarly, many schools, women's associations and official war relief initiatives printed in their reports thank-you letters or cards often containing patriotic accounts of the war - from soldiers whom they had helped. 35 In this way they contributed to the enormous popularity of wartime correspondence, as did those family members of soldiers killed in action who chose to abandon the intimate domain of private correspondence in favour of the public arena provided by the press in publishing the letters and cards left behind by their sons or brothers.36 This widespread public display of contemporary war correspondence made particular reference to an artificially standardised male 'war experience' propagated by the media. The image of the female counterpart was taken for granted, it seems, at least during the early days of the war. It combined the somewhat less common notion of exemplary female correspondence in wartime 37 with an official discourse, which - at least at the beginning of the war - evoked the bourgeois female ideal of the nineteenth century.3' The paradigm of the 'Frau im Kriege' ('woman in wartime'))' conveyed by daily newspapers and magazines, in the public appeals and publications of many women's associations, and through illustrations, poems, and war-novels particularly emphasised the allegedly 'natural' roles and responsibilities of women, their 'social motherhood'.'o This was especially apparent in the image of the war nurse" and in the popular female practice of producing, donating and sending so-called 'Liebesgaben' (charitable gifts) for the soldiers." At the same time, women on the 'home front' were expected to replace enlisted men by - temporarily - taking over their jobs and responsibilities, leading to contradictory expectations of gender roles. Public esteem for women may have increased, as did the number of new rights and areas of activity which women claimed for themselves in the course of the war. Nevertheless, the front and the soldiers on the front always retained 'absolute economic, social and cultural priority':) This was also evident in the recommendations women were given for letters written to their men on the front. Women were urged to send 'nothing but Sunday letters' or 'strong, cheerful letters' so as not to undermine the fighting spirit or the staying power of their men. In this respect women were even considered responsible for the course of the war." The moral pressure intensified with the protests about poor food supplies and as a result of the fact that enemy propaganda would make use of the

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'}ammerbriefe', or 'lamenting letters', of wives found in the possession of their dead or captured husbands. 45 In response to what was regarded as the dangerous dissemination of such letters, the German Empire issued special large-format information brochures which read: 'No more lamenting letters!', as they were unworthy of a 'true German woman'.46 The Austrian censor increasingly returned 'complaining letters' from women, complete with instructions on the danger of such letters,47 which led one of the many women affected to remark that in the future she would 'write only patriotic' letters. 48 But did she actually do this? Was the fear of censorship (which was not necessarily always effective) really stronger than the need - intensified by the separation brought about by the war - to exchange truly personal letters? How did men and women act under the auspices of a public opinion permeated and distorted by war propaganda? How did they cope in their letters with the antagonistic tension between their own private needs and the expectations of their nation at war? For answers to these questions I shall return to my initial example of wartime correspondence. I will also link an analysis of this example with the more or less fragmentary remains of other war correspondcm:cs from German-speaking countries, in order to examine the interconnectedness of class and gender in the First World War. There are hardly any historical studies of this question. An almost completely unexplored territory stretches between the literary-historical feminist research of correspondence on the one hand 49 and new historical studies of war and the military on the other. There are very few studies of letters written by women from German-speaking countries during the Second World War.50 The innovative social-historical contributions to an individualoriented history of war based on wartime correspondence, which increasingly defines itself as 'military history from below', has tended to focus on reconstructing the male experience and interpretation of war. 51 In so doing, this approach perpetuates the hegemony of male-oriented correspondence 'from the front' which was celebrated during the First World War and afterwards in popular memory.52 This is all the more unfortunate as the essential significance of wartime correspondence becomes clear only when one is able to appreciate equally and simultaneously the roles of both sides in the dialogue of the sexes. When it is viewed in the proper context of the history of gender, men's and women's wartime correspondence reveals their mutual dependence and the interconnectedness of differing modes of perception and experience. The great variety of male and female voices in these wartime postal exchanges also becomes evident. Thus the analysis yields insight into the ambivalent nature of private letters, as well as the extent of their abuse, which, particularly in the First World War, was highly gendered, to lasting effect. 'The days pass and no letters ever come' The inextricable interconnectedness of men's and women's wartime letters becomes particularly clear when we look more closely at one of their preferred

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topics: the conditions affecting correspondence in war. These ranged across the many different problems connected with the forwarding of post, from postal bans to the loss of mobile army post offices in the turmoil of war, which resulted in many letters and cards getting lost or not arriving for days or even weeks. Furthermore, rapid changes of position, imprisonment, or death caused the loss of many letters, particularly those from home. These are all reasons for the gaps and interruptions in the dialogic structure of the letters and cards that have been preserved, which make analysis more difficult. 53 This difficulty is a lasting reminder of the communication-hindering conditions to which private correspondence was subject during the war. Often, the communication that was interrupted was itself only partial; nothing more than a fragile thread that commonly broke. As Leopold Wolf noted toward the end of February 1916 after suddenly receiving marching orders to an unknown destination, 'Just when the post was working so nicely I had to break the thread once more'. The accompanying feeling of insecurity is a prominent topic in the letters and cards. It is expressed in oft-repeated complaints about the unreliability of the military postal system and in strong words of criticism. 'It is outrageous, what's going on here again', wrote Leopold Wolf at the beginning of 1916 from Galicia, where his unit was stationed under the command of the German Empire. In such cases the military post was often forwarded via Germany. Christl Lang called on the head of the post office responsible in Vienna to register a complaint in person. All the same she expressed her doubts, as she had many times before, that the field post number Leopold had written was correct: 'My dearest Poldy! This is a most exasperating situation that you have to do without my letters for so long; maybe you didn't give me the right addresses? I wrote to you very regularly and I can hardly wait for you to answer my letters.' In another passage written in December 1916 she sought relief in humour: 'It should be called the Snail Mail, not the Military Mail!' Above all, the many delays and interruptions of the postal service resulted in a feeling of insecurity that went much deeper and often led to conflict. Had the other partner really written a letter; did he or she truly write regularly every day, or perhaps only casually, in passing? Questions and doubts of this kind could not simply be explained away with the knowledge of the problems in forwarding mail, which one could somehow get used to in the course of the war. Complaints of this kind become more laconic and brief in the correspondence between Leopold and Christl, while the discussion of the existential importance of writing for their relationship continues throughout the entire correspondence. Excuses for not having written for a while and exhortations that the other write as often as possible alternate with continual requests and complaints when one of the correspondents even so much as suspects that the other is writing less frequently. The roles in this conflict alternated depending on the changing conditions in the lives of the pair, at home and on the front. And so at the beginning of 1915 Leopold, who was stationed at a base in Cracow, often responded to reproaches of this kind in a humorous, even cynical manner by mentioning his brother Hanns, who was stationed in the area and who did not, unlike himself, leave

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letters unread 'in his pocket for at least two weeks, and then for another six weeks in the cupboard'. On the other hand, Leopold pointed out that in her letters Christl implied he only wrote 'once when the moon was full and once at new moon. What's true is that I'm getting calluses on my fingers from writing so much.' A short time later his unit was withdrawn to an unknown destination in the direction of the Russian front. The war came closer and Leopold had less opportunity to write. Apparently there was also a postal ban in effect, but Christl and his mother none the less managed to convey their reproaches. His response was predictably harsh. He referred to the both of them as 'peace folks' and 'stayat-homes', who at best had only 'nebulous notions of war'. To this he added, 'You can well imagine, Christl, how unpleasant it is for me after three months' correspondence about nothing else but writing and not writing to have to add these further remarks on the subject'. By the beginning of 1916 the tide had turned, and Leopold's appeal from the eastern front sounded urgent. 'Write to me! Write to me!! Write to me!', are the words on one of his postcards. A few days later he vented his doubts and mistrust: 'Yesterday I received one paltry card ... The prerequisite for getting anything is always that you write something.' For the loved ones at home, the lack of post had a much more horrible dimension than that of a missing 'token of love'. Was the man still alive, or was he wounded, ill or captured? For them, every letter, every card was literally a 'sign of life,.s4 This significance increased at times of military offensives or in the course of larger battles. Censorship meant that the loved ones could only learn about these from newspapers, from secretly delivered letters or in coded messages in letters or postcards. Whether or not, or to what extent, the soldier in question had taken part in particular battles could often only be guessed. The new geography of the war not only required people to know more than ever before about where places were located, but it also linked many of the place names reported daily in the press with feelings of fear and uncertainty. This was also the case with Christl Lang. 'We've been reading about a new advance in the Sugona Valley for some time, and were you there, too?' she wrote in May 1916, and again in December 1916: You tell me to read about it in the newspaper, but there isn't much about it in there. While the offensive was still going on, you could often read about the southern flank on the Karst Plateau, but now the news is always 'situation unchanged', 'nothing new'. That's all. I was sure that you were there at the southern flank at the time. But I think that since you were down there you've made quite a bit of progress, is it true? My guess is that you are now near Sistiana, Grignano, approximately.

Leopold Wolf often responded to Christl's worries in a distanced, ironic manner. He told her he spent his time at the base, which was true most of the time, or he played down the war, something to which I shall return later. He was quite successful with this tactic, even though Christl's fear for his safety did return in some of her later letters. This was the case during the first weeks of 1918 as she awaited the birth of their child and yearned for Leopold to come home or at least for a message from him to arrive by way of his manservant Franz, who was due

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to come to Vienna: 'Dearest Poldi! Once again I can't understand why the post hasn't come. You've been promising me a long letter since the tenth of this month, because you have so much to tell me about, and I haven't received a thing. And there is no sign of Franz. I am so very worried again, I have never felt so anxious before.' The reference to Franz, the officer's manservant, who probably accompanied and served Leopold Wolf for the entire duration of the war, leads us for the first time to the issue of class differences in this war. They significantly affected living conditions and chances for survival both at home and at the front, as numerous statistical studies of the inequality of death in war have shown. 55 Depending on the position of the man in the armed forces, the significance of a letter as a 'sign of life' was more or less dramatic. Christl could usually assume that her partner was not in grave danger, as he apparently was seldom directly involved in battle. Thus it was her privilege to be able to write to him as follows: 'So you finally made it to the offensive. Hopefully, you will only experience the more pleasant aspects of it', although in that summer of 1918 Leopold Wolf had returned from home leave to an army district in South Tyrol which in the course of the last Austro-Hungarian offensive was the scene of heavy fighting. In the last month of the war he referred to himself as a 'base wallah', which he contrasted to the 'rabble on the front' - thus using the class-conscious soldier's jargon to refer ironically to the often criticised rift within the ideological construct of the front community, which indeed was divided along the lines of the death risk. It was particularly for the loved ones of the 'rabble on the front', which included millions of common soldiers, that postal delays or postal bans before military offensives were especially traumatic. They meant days of fearful uncertainty about a soldier's death or survival which could hardly be alleviated - despite the green army postcards with their pre-printed text, which themselves were to signal involvement in battle. This is apparent in the correspondence of a German working-class family from Bremen. Robert Pohland, who served as a pioneer in 1916, first in Belgium, and then in France, explicitly refers to the horror that a postal ban caused his family: 'What will you be thinking? You won't be able to shake off the fear. Because I've heard that this time the postal ban is going to last ten days. That means ten long anxious days and nights."· The married couple Anna and Robert Pohland communicated often about the frequency and intensity of their correspondence, a topic that in this case was often brought up by the man. During the trench warfare near Ypres and Verdun, which he characterised as 'hell', where everything was 'dug up, undermined, shot apart' and 'the continual thundering of the canons' and the 'howling of the shells' could be heard, where one soldier after another died a horrible death in battle," Robert Pohland apparently needed the loving and reassuring letters of his wife more than ever. For her part, she was continually overworked and exhausted. A working-class woman dependent on the meagre support from the government and the charity provided by middle-class women's aid societies, she had to bring up five children. 58 The dramatic food shortages affecting the Central Powers from 1916 hit the working class and the lower middle class hard. It became necessary

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to queue to get the rations of food, clothing, shoes or heating fuel every day: 'I hope you're not angry with me for not having written every day. There is so much to think about and to do just to be able to get the necessities'.59 Even though Robert was well aware of this situation and accepted it as an excuse for the often short letters his wife wrote to him, he did express his 'disappointment' in July 1916, three months before his death on the battlefield: I don't know if you understand me, what I mean by this. But think about the kind of letters I often wrote to you and then how you responded to them. I often tried to console myself with the idea that everything you wanted to say was in the salutation, but my heart would not believe it. When you have time, read again some of the letters I wrote weeks ago with feeling, for I have put some things in there that can't be expressed in mere words - how often have I longed for something like that from you! But, unfortunately, in vain ... Perhaps I'm just a dreamer when I think that a married couple should always be like newlyweds. 60 Here in the private, personal letter we see a tendency towards a possible reversal of the poles in the dialogue of the sexes, which runs counter to any simple 'connotation of female nature and the characteristics of the genre'." In this example of a wartime correspondence it is the man who, deeply shaken by his experience of the horrors of war on the western front, complains of a lack of intimacy in the letters of his wife and hopes for an expression of 'feeling' beyond 'mere words'. And it is the man who writes long letters while his wife can hardly find the time and the quiet in the face of the daily economic struggle for existence to answer his letters at length. This situation is not documented in the correspondence between Christl and Leopold Wolf, despite the variability of the roles they assume in their discussions about writing. This is primarily a result of their privileged financial situation, which made it possible for Christl even in 1918, the last year of the war, to write to her husband quite often and regularly, despite having to care for an infant. She might comment upon small delays with a reference to her everyday duties, just as Leopold Wolf had done in many of his letters. Yet, as we shall see, it was not the writing habits of the two that caused the deep-seated rift between the pair in this final year of the war. But this could very well have been the case had there not been a balance in the correspondence for longer periods of time. Particularly in 1918, which has gone down in German and Austrian history as the 'hunger year', a war-related reversal of the traditional expectations for private post seems to have occurred, revealing some of the potential for conflict brought about by the 'disorder' of the gender roles, as the historian Margit Sturm has demonstrated. Since the letters and cards that the future Austrian Federal President Adolf Scharf and his wife Hilda exchanged during the First World War have been almost completely preserved, Sturm was able to determine the gender-specific distribution of the frequency of their letter writing. On the one hand there are a total of 448 letters and 601 postcards written by the man, while on the other, the woman wrote 'only' 346 letters and 139 cards - a fact which points to the great significance of postcards as a 'sign of life' from the front.'! Yet this function was of less importance for

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Adolf Scharf, who was stationed for most of his active duty at the front at Isonzo, which became well known for twelve especially bloody battles that occurred there. Although like Leopold Wolf he was an officer as he had volunteered for military service, Scharf came from a much more modest background. 63 The fact that his partner Hilda Hammer - they married in 1916 - did not write as regularly as he would have liked often led him to complain. 'As far as I can tell, of everyone I know I receive the fewest letters from my wife and loved one.''' Here once again it is the man who repeatedly asks for more attention from his wife, who herself was increasingly overburdened on the 'home front'. A postal employee, she had returned to work soon after the birth of their child in the spring of 1917. In this connection Scharf referred to his moral right as partner and husband, as well as to the emotional significance of post from home in the daily lives of those stationed at the front. When that did not work, he attempted to threaten her with not writing, which he did for the first time in December 1916 shortly after making the comments cited above. 'You will have noticed that I haven't written to you for several days. I have no other means of convincing you and teaching you a lesson than through punishment. It is hard for me not to write to you every day - but you have to change in this respect. '65 The conflict escalated, however, and was part of a longer crisis in the relationship. This example vividly illustrates something which historians of women's history have often noted: towards the end of the war, men's and women's worlds differed widely,,6 Adolf and Hilda Scharf discussed the crisis in the light of the growing independence of women under wartime conditions. The couple were able to settle their differences in the summer of 1918, when Adolf Scharf was home on leave and discovered 'with a shudder the food supply situation in Vienna'''? Even on a Sunday it kept Hilda Scharf 'from sitting and finishing a letter, because I have to make sure that I get my milk'.'" 'Please show the letter to our loved ones at home, too' Except for the passages that touched on the relationship of a couple, which today we would tend to think of as very private, soldiers' letters were often not intended solely for the addressee. Letters to and from the front served to connect the lives of many people of varying degrees of intimacy, and, like censorship, often exceeded the bounds of a relationship of two people. The circle of people addressed in the letters is extended to the family, and even beyond that, to a larger public in which the woman becomes the 'mouthpiece' of her absent husband." Naturally this also had implications for the contents of a letter, particularly with regard to the degree of intimacy. In the correspondence between Christl Lang and Leopold Wolf the intermediary function of the woman becomes particularly evident during the first years of the war. That was also the time when their friendship had developed into a love relation and the status of being engaged opened up their two families. Although they had just met, they soon intended to marry. This decision would

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bind together not only two individuals, but also two families, and therefore affected them all. In this situation it seems that Christl actively promoted the double-dialogue character of Leopold's letters. 'Dear Oily! On Thursday morning I got your letter, which I brought straight to your parents that afternoon. They had been longing for a message from you and were overjoyed that it had finally come', she wrote a short time after New Year's Day 1915. She subsequently tells of a visit from Leopold's mother, during which she showed Christl a letter from Hanns, her second son in the service. She expressed the desire to receive a letter from Leopold that was personally addressed to her, a request which Christl, who was directly corresponding with Hanns, enthusiastically supported. Yet Leopold continued to proceed along a double-track, as evidenced by the phrases often repeated at the end of a letter. 'Please let Mother and Father know about the contents of this letter and send them my warmest regards!' or: 'Please show the letter to our loved ones at home, too'. Conversely, he also shared letters from home with his brother Hanns, and perhaps with his uncle as well, whom he often met in the field.7° Moreover, he would integrate himself further into life back home by repeating greetings such as the following: 'Kisses on the hand, kind regards and best wishes to your family and mine.' 'Kind regards to the Beyers, the Miillers, the Markls etc., don't forget to give everyone my heartfelt compliments!' The network of friends and relatives referred to in the many letters and cards was extensive, even during the separation of war time, but all the more so when the way was being prepared for marriage, when family connections had still to be made and intensified. In practice, this meant that, while writing, correspondents often dwelt extensively on other implied or explicitly named persons. In Christl's letters this manifested itself in the increasing importance she placed upon accounts of various family occurrences and bits of news. She reported to Leopold with increasing frequency about 'family matters', which implied both his and her family, thus documenting the fact that she was growing into her role as his fiancee. Leopold was also meant to participate in this process, which, it was hoped, would motivate him to return more quickly. As Christl wrote in February 1917: Poldi, I haven't had a talk with your mother like the one we had on Monday for a long time, actually I hadn't ever. We talked about all kinds of things, especially about you and about getting married. [Your] Mother also told me that she thinks it's a very good idea, we should do it as soon as possible. [Your] Father has a few objections, but [your] Mother said it doesn't matter, there's no point. So, now it all just depends on you, Poldi, come home soon.

Naturally the network of such alliances could be made looser or tighter as desired. In the correspondence between Leopold and Christl Wolf it is sometimes possible to recognise contrary tendencies, where both attempted to limit the very family participation which they themselves had initiated. This especially occurred when feelings of despair were expressed, when individual letters were particularly introspective in tone, or when letters were intended to help overcome a crisis of

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confidence in the relationship. In such cases, as in March 1915, a letter would read as follows: 'I beg you, Darling, this letter is only for you to read, and then burn it. It is for you a/one, promise me that?' Or Leopold explicitly expressed his wish to prevent his parents from knowing about the 'bad mood' he describes at length in a letter of January 1916, and he himself, like many other soldiers at war, censored his own account of his experience of the war. 'Don't tell them that I am in a bad mood, by the way I shouldn't even be telling it to you - but who else can I tell it to? I'd like nothing better than to go off and be by myself for a while.' Leopold had given this letter to a comrade to deliver secretly while on home leave - 'because of the censor', who might have intervened since in this letter he also informed Christl about an impending transfer of his battery in the direction of the front. The censorship authorities were never able to put an end to this common evasIOn. The other tendency to exclude the family circle from Leopold and Christl's wartime correspondence developed gradually and tacitly. It did not succeed until the couple had themselves established their own nuclear family. Until that time the letters to and from Leopold Wolf had played an important role in family communication. They served to integrate the fiances into each other's family, which may very well have been a common function of wartime correspondence in general. At her husband's request, Hilda Scharf also read his letters to her mother-in-law. Of this she wrote, 'That was a wonderful idea of yours, without any effort, just with your letters I've completely won her over.' She also gave some of Adolf's letters - without his knowledge - to his brother, 'I think your brother is getting to know you through your letters better than was possible when you worked together'." For Christl and Leopold Wolf, on the other hand, it seems that by 1918 at the latest they had become reserved about sharing their letters with others. This occurred because, by this time, the limits to intimacy had become clear. Christl in particular remarked on this often, as in February 1918: When I saw [your] Mother yesterday we had a little talk, and although I did not learn much, I did find out a little about her thoughts on me. There is a great deal of disappointment on both sides, and since our views are so completely different that we could never agree, it would be best If each of us just tries in her own way to be happy.

'Here we are leading a very regular life' A conflict of this kind, resulting as much from the discrepancy between mutual expectations and attitudes as from the redistribution of the material resources of two families, was a 'normal' enough occurrence in the process of preparing for a bourgeois marriage. We can assume that similar constellations would also have developed had there been no war. For there is no suggestion in the entire correspondence between Leopold and Christl that the war played any part in the gradual aggravation of family differences that occurred after 1916, when, following a home leave, Leopold already sensed 'how relations are between -

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shall we say - the Langs and the Wolfs'. But what is normality in wartime? Is it even possible to speak of normality, of everyday life, of the return of the familiar daily routine, at a time of crisis for an entire society during an all-out war that brought death, hunger and suffering to millions of people? Research has addressed such questions not only in studies of everyday life during a war that lasted for more than four years. 72 Analyses of soldiers' letters from the First World War have shown that to a considerable extent the authors of these letters tended to orient themselves towards the normality of the pre-war period. The home they had left behind remained 'the horizon of all their hopes and wishes'.73 For Christl and Leopold this is true only up to a point, since their relationship knew no such normality. Their wartime correspondence documents the dynamic process of the development of a 'normal' relationship, represented in the change of the salutation from 'Dear Miss Christl!' in Leopold's first letter from the front to 'My beloved little wife!' during the last period of the war. The fact that it was possible for this to occur despite the unfavourable circumstances of the war is nevertheless a direct consequence of the great significance placed upon the 'discourse of private life' and the persistent references to 'normal' everyday life in these letters. 74 Let us consider, first, the narrative strategies the two employed again and again to create and maintain a sense of normality, and second, the extent to which the situation of the war disturbed these attempts. In his correspondence Leopold Wolf left out the reality of the war almost completely, and in so doing, omitted all that we now know about the battles of materiel of the First World War. The violence, horror, and death were virtually never mentioned, and he described the effects of the war primarily as individual obstacles to his happiness with Christl. 'Every home leave is better, every goodbye is harder, and the old war trade more unpleasant than ever' (January 1916). 'Oh little wife, the crazy word "longing" crowds its way into my head again. It's twice as hard to bear now, with the war weighing heavily on me with all its constraints and lack of freedom' (January 1918). Not only in this respect did Leopold Wolf behave in a manner similar to that of the Austrian officer Adolf Scharf." Both also adhered to 'conversational dictums' that are considered typical of the genre of the letter from the front. 7 • On the basis of a large sample of soldiers' letters from the nineteenth and twentieth century, Isa Schikorsky distinguishes five common 'emotive speech act strategies' that soldiers employed in their letters to temper the war or the events on the front: saying nothing about it, playing it down, poeticising and phraseologising it, which was more common in correspondence with women, and image-building, which men most often practised when corresponding with other men. n Although the objection can be raised that Schikorsky's typology fails to consider sufficiently either class differences in the military or the true diversity and ambivalence of soldiers' interpretations of their experiences," some of the tendencies she distinguishes are strikingly apparent in the letters of Leopold Wolf. Even though he does sometimes refer directly to the war, at the same time he reduces it and generalises about his experiences, which represents a way of saying nothing about it. His tendency to play things down and to gloss over matters is

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also clearly recognisable in a letter of January 1916: 'So you see, my good Christl, that we are not all that warlike and in any case we have once again seen that the Russian is a noble opponent. We go leisurely to our observation posts, disappearing into a familiar hole, we drive our vehicles behind the troop line and no one shoots.' By the same token we can also find the turning point of a story told in set phrases, or well-worn expressions used to make statements about his personal condition. 'Otherwise we are still quite well, today we shot for the second time. How many months has it been since I've seen a Russian! That's war for yoU.'79 Leopold Wolf's discursive silence about his experiences of war is particularly evident in a parallel narrative strategy. For passages like the ones cited above are not very common in his letters from the front. He tells Christl much more extensively about his everyday routine, that is, about daily life on the base. Pages and pages are written in a code that resembles the language of home; familiar phrases, proverbs or sayings are used to evoke a state of normality, even a 'very regular life', as he expressed it in a letter during February 1916. The main topics are food and sleep, living quarters and the daily routine, leisure time spent in the casino or in a cafe, the mutual visits of the officers, and work or 'the business' a term which Leopold Wolf uses to refer to the actual duties he carried out in the war, thus identifying them only through their connection with the pre-war period. Phases of intensive hard work repairing and servicing the mortars or the vehicle park he was responsible for, of which he often speaks with reference to the idea of doing one's duty, alternate with phases of boredom, during which he directs his attention all the more to the above-mentioned elements of daily life. And even such accounts often end with a set phrase: 'To top it all off, we have of course subscribed to newspapers: the Wiener Taghlatt, the Berliner Taghlatt, the Osterreichische Morgenzeitung. In the next few days we'll even have a cinema here - what more could the heart desire!' During the first months of 1916 when these passages were written, there are particularly many instances of Leopold Wolf's attempt to banish the reality of war from his letters and surround himself with the familiar. His reports to his fiancee culminate in long accounts of efforts sustained by 'creative joy and thoroughness': with the help of a large number of carpenters, joiners, locksmiths and journeymen he was building 'the most beautiful home' out of one of the 'most wretched hovels' in the village of Plotycza near Zlocz6w, 'the last base location' before the actual front region at the border of Galicia. Intended to serve as a home for several officers, it was to have electric light, and 'as the apartments of our palace', two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, an anteroom, and even a 'pantry and cloakroom'. The trained architect Leopold Wolf supervised the renovation work and drafted the plans - as he had done before the war in his father's building firm. At the same time, his view of this phase of his military service points to the future he dreamt of having in peacetime with Christl, the 'little girl with flared skirts': ' ... and especially to have a good rest after a day's work in a home that has really been made one's own'. These came to an abrupt end shortly afterwards, as his doubts about the possibility of such an idyllic

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vision in war were confirmed: 'Dearest Tini! What I and no one else in these days had dared dream could happen is now undeniable fact: We have received our marching orders! ... As I always say: Just when we've made ourselves nice and cosy, when we've finished setting things up, ... you can bet your life it's time to go.' At least the suddenly destroyed hope of a 'quiet' war was not followed by endless calamity, and soon afterwards Leopold Wolf was able to write to his partner from the southern front and report once again of an everyday wartime routine that does not seem to have been particularly full of danger. His officer's perspective contrasts with that of the farmer's son Erich Donath in the few wartime letters he wrote to his mother, or in comparison to the worker Robert Pohland from Bremen. Both soldiers reported on the trench warfare of the western and eastern front, about the impossibility of leading 'normal' life, of hours spent standing in water, dirt and mud, of lack of sleep, and of bitter cold and sickness.'o Robert Pohland vividly describes the destructive power of modern weapons, and on several occasions he expressly refers to the danger and his fear of being killed in that 'inferno' - like the many other soldiers who were sent in 'immense multitudes' as 'cannon fodder' or 'doomed men' to the foremost front.'1 The purposeful optimism he expresses'2 - 'It doesn't happen to everyone. Maybe I'll get through unharmed"·' - not only did not come true, but was also dispelled, as evidenced in many other passages in his letters, with extensive descriptions of the reality of war. In this way Pohland himself contrasts his war experiences with every kind of normality, which his letters reduce to descriptions of nature, discussions of his strikingly wide-ranging reading and his wistful memories of his family or of the radical worker's party of Bremen, as much looking back to the time before the war as ahead to a better, socialist prospect for the future. A double narrative strategy such as this is certainly rooted in class-dependent military rank and the nature of the individual's duties in the war. Yet beyond this, the manner in which Leopold Wolf consistently manages, despite various irritations, to 'evoke a feeling of everyday life' in his letters from the front depends on his relationship with Christl." This evocation represents one way two lovers could draw closer to each other. It seems that this was his way of making a dialogue between them easier for her, since the contents of his letters remained . on familiar ground. In this way Christl could better participate in the unfamiliar war experiences of a distant partner whom she did not even know very well, even though keeping up the fiction on her side also required a certain rigidity of communication through the use of set phrases. 'So your quarters have to be "posh", do they, a real "Polish palace". When will the inaugural festivities be held?' 'Have you already returned from your "visiting tour"?' In contrast to Anna and Rabert Pbhland, wha had already been married for a long time and whose relationship was nevertheless shaken by the war-enforced separation, Christl Lang and Leopold Wolf were just beginning to get to know each other when the war broke out. It was thus all the more imperative for them to write about normality and everyday life ta establish and support the stability of their

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relationship. As opposed to Anna Pohland, Christl Lang used her partner's descriptions of nature to depict war as a journey," as in May 1916: 'Oh, my dear, I keep on reading your letter in which you write so beautifully about the mountains, I can see everything so clearly in my mind's eye ... I hope that someday, fate willing, we will be able to admire the beauty of them together, what do you say, Poldi?' Apart from such visions of a better future, the main topic addressed in many of Christl's letters is daily life, which appears almost untouched by the war. In the first years of the war her letters document above all her daily routine and family matters, parties, evenings at the theatre and other forms of entertainment, and can be clearly interpreted as a continuous effort, despite all the adversity of the war, to direct her relationship with Leopold towards a 'normal' marriage, one both financially secure and appropriate to her class. As mentioned above, she was supported in this effort both by the mother of her fiance as well as by her own prosperous parents, who were the proprietors of a well-known hat and clothing store. At first they had all agreed that the couple would not marry until after the war. This prompted Christl's remark about the future: '[Your] Mother was here on Monday and Tuesday and brought me a belated Christmas present, a silver sugar bowl, another lovely item for my trousseau, now see to it that the war comes to an end and we can get married, because otherwise the things will be out of date'. (February 1916.) But the war did not come to an end, and so during a home leave at the beginning of 1917 the couple evidently decided to marry soon. This leave appears in subsequent letters only in the form of the metaphor of the 'short beautiful dream'. Christl began to look for a flat for the two of them and to make preparations for the wedding, which seemed to be threatened: 'It is high time, otherwise we won't be able to get anything else for our nest ... One needs all kinds of things that are simply not available. I'm just happy I have already got my linens'. Nevertheless a few days later she was able to give her fiance an extensive account of her search with her mother for suitable furniture and of the 'dark toned' dining room she wanted: 'You know, I can just imagine how lovely it would look'. Further in the same letter of March 1917 she wrote: 'Then we went shopping for dishes for everyday use, a faience service, and a very impressive coffee service, very modern with hexagonal cups and pots, and then some various other items for the kitchen which wouldn't interest you. I don't even know where I'm going to put it all!' All of these efforts actually did enable them to set up a well-equipped household of their own at a time about which we unfortunately do not know much more, as letters and cards from this period are missing. Letters written towards the end of 1917 indicate that the couple married on 28 April 1917 and moved into an apartment of their own. The 'room of his Lordship' was also furnished, but Leopold Wolf was stationed in South Tyrol once again, and Christl was expecting a baby. The narratives of daily life in her letters frequently pertain to her new roles as mother (to-be), wife and housewife. Moreover, she continually took into consideration the views of her absent husband when

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making decisions. And so she conferred with him by letter, for example, when she had to decide upon holiday accommodation in the countryside for the time after the birth of the baby. Likewise she informed him at the end of February 1918 of the dismissal of her maidservant, invariably referred to disparagingly as 'the old woman': '1 am quite sure than you would not have eaten a bite prepared by a woman like that. Her biggest shortcoming was her indescribable uncleanness and sloppiness, and what also bothered me very much was that she was so curious'. These accounts clearly demonstrate the privileged position of Christl Wolf. While a large part of the Viennese population was already suffering from hunger and cold, since the scarce food supplies and consumer goods could only be obtained for stamps, from relatives in the country or, for a high price, on the black market,86 she was able to set up a 'home', to make preparations for the birth of a child, hire a maidservant, spend the summer in the country, and dedicate herself to the care of her infant, whose development she described at length in letters to her husband. More and more, however, the war influenced even this comfortable and traditional life. Christl Wolf reacted to this change with two contradictory narrative strategies. On the one hand she condemned the war-related changes to the class and gender system in derogatory terms; on the other hand she strongly criticised the political situation, and even expressed solidarity with 'the people'. The tendency to hark back to 'the good old days' was not only expressed in prejudiced descriptions of the increase in crime or in the number of Jewish war refugees from the east who were now staying in Vienna, but also in the criticism of women of the lower classes. Such women would take any chance they could get to profit from the war-related changes in the labour market, Christl maintained. She expressed this view in April 1916 with regard to the female tram conductors in Vienna and anticipated that they would be forced out of the labour market after the end of the war: I am also needed very much in the shop, because there are a lot of troubles there since the silly geese all want to become a tramway conductor and abandon the profession they were trained for. Those are our Viennese women, but then the Polish women come onto the scene and take the good jobs away from them and profit from the situation more than the ones who work on the tram and who are going to be pretty stranded after the war anyway.

In ] 918, urban maidservants became the well-worn topic of her letters, and once again her tone was extremely critical. Christl Wolf complains that a 'decent maid' was hard to come by and that even the 'stupidest country bumpkin' demanded more pay than a 'perfect cook' used to get. She had dismissed the new maid as quickly as she had the first, since the new maid apparently preferred spending time 'on the street rather than in the house', at a time when protest had been building up and could lead to 'hunger riots' at any moment." She writes the following in a letter at the end of April 1918: 'Every day she complains about the war kitchen in a way that I find repulsive. What I think is that whenever she goes to get food the other girls get her stirred up. She often tells me about how they all complain together about cooking and their mistresses'.

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'What I'd really like to do is to smash the windows at the Nutrition Office' The fact that Christl Wolf sent her servant girl to a nearby communal war kitchen every day to get cooked meals for the two of them points to the second tendency in her letters toward the end of the war, namely towards solidarity with 'the people'. This trend developed as she was affected by the dramatic food shortages of the Central Powers, which made this measure necessary, and runs counter to the prejudiced emphasis on class differences mentioned above. In this respect, some of Christl's experiences and attitudes correspond to those of many other women of the time who were deeply critical of the war and its socio-economic consequences, which they expressed in the so-called 'lamenting letters' of their private correspondence. A framework for such experiences presented itself for Christl for the first time in 1916, as she recorded her observations of an infrequently described situation outside of her own experience. In March 1916 she wrote that if Leopold Wolf were to come to Vienna as a stranger he would be able 'to observe some very remarkable things': Various foodstuffs, such as sugar, coffee, milk, bread, flour, among others, can be obtained only upon order. This means that hundreds of people queue up two abreast in front of the shop in question and are permitted to enter two at a time by the police on duty, and as you can imagine, many hours pass before everyone gets a turn and the last ones usually go home empty-handed. This goes on all day long, and there are frequently turbulent quarrels which are not without their comical aspects, sad as the situation itself actually is.

Hardly a month later, Christl Lang identified with the social protests of the women whom she none the less still feared in 1918, as was shown above. 'Here in Vienna the people are very impatient, but rightly so. Today there were supposed to have been terrible riots at the Rudolfsheimer Market and in the Tenth District. A great number of women even marched to parliament to kick up a racket there. If only it did any good. They are even after our Mayor.' In 1918 the critical tone in Christl Wolf's letters became frequent and unmistakable. This was two years after the working-class woman Anna Pohland in Bremen had vehemently criticised the ruling political elite."' Christl's attempt to maintain a semblance of normality, which had probably reached a climax with her marriage in 1917, was matched by an equally evident suspicion which she formulated as early as 1916 'that one was being more or less deceived ... just like our enemies'. 'One never hears the truth.' This process had been triggered by the shortages that Christl Wolf had now begun to notice as well as by her experiences with the 'sloppy management' of the war liquidation, as the payment of the financial support she was entitled to as an officer's wife was continually delayed despite several attempts at intervention and assurances from the authorities. And so the whole 'tale of woe' - 'literally a struggle for existence' - became a leitmotif of Christl Wolf's correspondence. In her letters to her husband, who was now the one who frequently sent to her packages of food, cloth and the like, she would

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denounce the political situation, the wartime economy and with it the government, the military and its representatives in a very open, accusing manner. Despite the risk of censorship, she wrote, for example, in January 1918: Now I see that as far as the government is concerned we could all starve to death ... I am really very angry at this whole soldiers' economy. The important thing now would be for us to get food from the Ukraine to appease the angry people in Vienna and everywhere else for the time being, because essentially it's the stomach of a hungry person that calls for a general strike and a walkout. You haven't been able to get any meat in Vienna for a fortnight, except surreptitiously, of course; you can roast an ox if you've got the money to pay for it. Sure, you can get anything you want these days, except for justice and honesty. In April 1918, after their daughter had already been born, one letter seems to suggest that Christl inwardly wished to take part in the protests against the 'muddle' and the 'lousy' conditions at home, which the government responded to only with promises of 'golden mountains'. With regard to the forms of protest she imagined, the officer's wife was inspired by women of 'the street', who actually did protest: 'In Vienna this week there hasn't been any flour, only maize and oat-grain, it's an outrage. What I'd really like to do is to smash the windows at the Nutrition Office, and bop the minister one on the head while I'm at it, the idiot.' This is one direction taken by women's 'lamenting letters' of the time. It developed sooner or later, depending on the social and economic situation of the woman, and it expressed the greater knowledge of politics a woman had gained as a result of the war. This interest had already been fomented by the outbreak of the war, when the news reported by the daily newspapers and the extra editions was the talk of the town and brought about a general politicisation, in which particularly women, but also many school girls and boys, participated."' As a result many women quickly assumed a new and active role in their wartime letters, as' they not only reported the contents of the daily newspapers and the political debates on the home front and in their and their husbands' political parties, but also discussed them critically.90 Moreover, although their partners were on active duty on the front, the men often knew very little of the course of the war and of the situation at home and thus were dependent on letters in this respect, particularly when they did not receive any newspapers and a postal ban was in effect. 'We don't get any news of the war!' were the words even of the officer Leopold Wolf, while a woman might write something that would not have been considered appropriate a short time before: 'How about a bit of politics?'91 Thus the longer the war lasted the more it led to changes, even to a reversal in the dialogue of the genders about politics. This is also suggested in Christl Wolf's correspondence when she writes extensively about newspaper reports or rumours about the development of the war and about peace negotiations. Once again it becomes apparent even in the case of this woman, who in many respects lived in conformity with traditional gender roles, that interpretations which maintain that women's letters must be seen in relation to the 'narrow radius of action of

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the family' and which assume that in contrast to men, women write letters 'instead of travelling, doing business, making politics or writing great literature', are not entirely true. 92 This point becomes more striking if we consider another, largely neglected, side of women's 'lamenting letters' of the First World War. Although it is also related to the family, it signifies a massive, and ultimately political, form of action and intervention on the part of women comparable to their participation in 'hunger riots', strikes, and demonstrations against the war.

'That you let yourself, as you put it, be "called back home by a weeping woman'" There is something that unites the women presented here despite their differences. Frequently they simply did not accept that the fatherland had sent their men to war and tried in their letters to influence the situation accordingly. They would cite the example of other men who for alleged health or family reasons had been granted a leave or who were not even recruited for service on the front, and sent their husbands information or reported rumours about what one would have to do to get transferred back home. The range of strategies they suggested included applying for a leave to get married, to attend the birth of a child, to help with the harvest, or saying that one's wife was gravely ill, or bribing the sergeant. 93 When such suggestions proved fruitless, many women intervened themselves, whether through written requests and urgent telegrams," or through personal calls on military officials and authorities who had the reputation of allowing corruption and patronage to have a hand in deciding who would be released from military service. 95 All of this was openly discussed and negotiated in the wartime letters of women, and many passages of this kind can be read as the expression of a bitter struggle against the state, the military and the internalised standards of the soldiers, which was surely one reason why the 'lamenting letters' of women were regarding as so dangerous in the official discourse of the time. The example of Leopold and Christl Wolf corresponds to the pattern of women's letters attempting to undermine men's sense of duty, even when the many attempts of this kind proved ultimately futile. There was an increase in letters of this kind from approximately November 1916 on, when Christl expressed her great concern for the well being of her fiance, who despite a bad case of pleurisy the previous summer was not taking the time to care for his health. In this connection she quoted a doctor by whom she was befriended: 'He said it was crazy of you to go out at all, and regarding the fact that you've been out there since the beginning of the war and that you got ill in the summer, he said that you could have requested a leave of several months or a less strenuous assignment back home. But I'm afraid this sermon will go in one ear and out the other, won't it, or have you changed?' One month later she addressed 'a serious word' to him, which she hoped would not 'fall on deaf ears': 'I beseech you, drop everything and just get away from there. So many others have unlawfully

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managed to find a cosy spot for themselves. By virtue of what you have done since the beginning of the war you are all the more entitled to do so. At least see to it that you get a leave now.' This fundamental discursive pattern of requesting and pleading, or as Christl calls it, 'lamenting' and 'belly-aching' on the one hand, and the presentation of an array of various arguments on the other hand, subsequently established itself, reaching a dramatic climax in 1918. At this time her efforts to 'free' Leopold for 'less strenuous duty on the home front', which he himself had actively contributed to by submitting an application and making several attempts in 1917, became a 'battle' between the sexes. This battle bears witness to the alienation which had occurred between the two in the course of the exaggerated heterogenisation of the worlds they lived in and the experiences they underwent - a quite common characteristic of gender relations especially during this last period of the war. In the case of the Wolfs the conflict was intensified after legal proceedings were instituted against Leopold at Christmas 1917 because he had allegedly not carried out his duties as the automobile officer of the brigade. Deeply wounded in his pride as a 'conscientious officer, who still thinks and acts like a true Austrian', he subsequently expressed in a letter of January 1918 explicit criticism of the war as well as of how one 'treats a person who has spent the best years of his life in the war. One is tempted to forget that one is a good soldier, and to call out along with the workers of Vienna: "Enough! I'm on your side!" It is really incredible that today, after four years of war, that there can still be people to whom the existence and the position of an officer means nothing'. Yet, the bitterness he expressed in this way had no such effects, it seems; Leopold Wolf remained bound up with the consciousness of his class, even in the last months of the war. In this respect he differed from his wife, whose class orientation became fractured in several respects. He reacted to the slow-paced inquiry against him by increased adjustment and consciousness of duty until the end of the war. His last remaining letters from the front contain no indication of an antagonistic tendency. On the contrary: the 'discourse of private life' remained predominant, and Leopold cemented even more the officer's perspective of the alleged 'normality' of the war on the base, which manifested itself in an abundance of stories about the plentiful supplies of food and other consumer goods in contrast to home, as well as in references to his work load and to recurring boredom. This led Christl, who as a new mother was involved in family work more than ever, to make the following acerbic comments at the end of April 1918: I tell you the days are just not long enough, can you give me a couple of hours that you in your boredom wish would pass. Thank you very much for your last letter, which unfortunately has led me to conclude that you are a regular lazy· bones, not one who is good for letter-writing, but another kind. Does one learn this commendable pastime in the war?

Despite or as a result of such critical undertones, which I interpret as the reaction to the fact that the separate spheres of men and of women had drifted apart more

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or less completely during the last year of the war, Christl Wolf greatly intensified her efforts to have Leopold recalled from the front. Although this was promised to her, also by him, again and again, it never happened, neither before the birth of their daughter, when she waited for him desperately, nor during the time afterwards, when Leopold could at least come home more often for a few days of 'home leave'. During the first months of 1918 Christl's letters record a considerable range of attempts of this kind, bearing witness to the perpetual mobile of her mood swinging between hope and despair, acceptance and rebellion. And so she wrote at the beginning of February 1918, for example: 'It is not at all nice of you that you still haven't told me when you will be coming, I believed that you would rush headlong back to Vienna, and in the meantime I have noticed nothing of the kind. Can't you give those gentlemen a shove so that they work a bit faster, with all their scribbling in files, for that's all it is.' In addition to the extensive 'advice' she gave her husband, Christl listed all the possible reasons, including 'extreme impairment' of his financial existence as well as of his nerves since the beginning of the war on the application for a transfer back home. In the ensuing time Christl hoped at least for the possibility that the father-to-be would be granted leave. To this end she referred once again to the authority of a doctor, 'would also state anonymously' that Leopold 'in such a case as that which we now expect' should 'immediately be granted leave ... Do you know, even when you weren't entitled to leave'. A few days later there followed an intensively imploring letter: I beg you, dear Poldi, for the sake of my health, do whatever you can to get away from there, say it's because of urgent family matters, or because your wife is sick, etc., lie through your teeth, just come ... You have to be very forceful and can't give in ... How wonderful it would have been had you come yesterday as you intended and now I am more inconsolable than ever. My God, when will this misery ever come to an end?

Apart from such appeals and concrete strategies, Christl Wolf made other attempts to bring her husband home to her in complete safety. She was very well aware of the power of patronage, the possibilities of which she substantiated through repeated references to officers whom she knew had been transferred to Vienna from the front as a result of patronage. For this reason she also intervened actively by requesting the involvement of her uncle who was employed in the Ministry of War. When he all too quickly seemed to be about to 'throw in the towel most obediently', she decided to call on the official in charge right before the birth of the child: 'Do you know I had already decided to go to the War Ministry to H.? You're surprised at your bold little wife ... But I know that quite a few other women also go in there'.96 Christl Wolf could only be prevented from taking this last step by the fact that her uncle was faster. He told her that 'he coincidentally had the opportunity to talk to H. and to inform him of the matter. H. sends his most humble regards and tells me that I should not make any further efforts, he knows exactly what the situation is, he knows all of your wishes and promises to do whatever is in his power'. . But all of these attempts ultimately failed. Leopold Wolf was able to attend the

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birth of the child at the very last moment on leave from the front, but as we already know he was not transferred to military duty in Vienna before the end of the war, probably because he himself ceased to pursue it intensively, as his identity as a high-ranking officer accustomed to command had already been questioned. Apparently he reacted to the 'lamenting letters' and the efforts of his wife, which collided with his ethical values as a soldier, in accordance with official precepts which held that men who tried for whatever reasons and in whatever way to withdraw from the war were 'dodgers'. A telling remark of Christl's of February 1918 indicates that he had internalised such a male image, despite the impending and long-apparent defeat of the Central Powers: 'You don't need to be ashamed, dear Poldi, that you let yourself, as you put it, be "called back home by a weeping woman". I only want the best for you, and not because I think I'm a know-it-all, like you perhaps otherwise think women are, don't you?' As a result of the war, female identity had become more contradictory, something which I have tried to sketch through the example of a privileged officer's wife. By the end of the First World War Christl Wolf had become more critical, independent and probably more self-confident, and nevertheless preserved all her hopes for the prospect of a 'fulfilling' marriage in accordance with traditional expectations. Yet to what extent the war had shaken this conventional, dichotomous form of gender relations, which was evidenced in the drastic rise in divorce after the war,97 is illustrated by a letter that Christl Wolf wrote in May 1918, at a time when she finally had to abandon all hope of her husband being transferred: What I had suspected and long feared has now become fact ... I have no words to express such a disappointment. What good would they do? Whether I complain or whether I lament, it won't change anything. I spend all day thinking about why it had to be this way and not different. All our fond hopes are destroyed for God knows how long, and this terrible loneliness, I suffer from it so. As much as I try to pull myself together for the sake of our little girl, it takes a great deal of effort. Sometimes I am so wretched that all I want to do is hide ... Even your letters, which have become so infrequent recently, can't lift my spirits. Of course you are not doing much better, but you have your work to keep you busy ... , and so your thoughts are more occupied than mine, for I wait here futilely day after day, and I have set up everything for you and whenever I do a chore I think that's for Poldi, or you would like that, and whenever I look at my child I think if only you could see her that way. This is a time that is lost forever.

Epilogue A short time later this war was also 'lost' for the Central Powers, having taken the lives of almost ten million people. Particularly in Germany and in the new republic of German-Austria, partial responsibility for the military defeat was assigned to the women. The myth quickly spread of the 'stab in the back' which

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the home front was said to have inflicted upon the soldiers on the front who allegedly fought 'steadfastly' until the very end. 98 It was not only maintained that 'the woman' in the war economy had not 'done the work that she could have done', but the 'lamenting letters' of women continued to be denounced. They had allegedly undermined the morale of the men, thus creating in their minds the contrasting images of 'the sacrificing, poorly-paid warrior on the front and the well-paid, comfortable person at home'.99 The vehemence of these accusations shows what a disturbing effect the warrelated destabilisation of gender roles still had in the political culture of the postwar period, and there was no lack of efforts, which were successful until the era of National Socialism, to restrict women to their traditional roles and fields of activity once again.'oo At the same time, of all the millions and millions of female wartime letters, it is the single image of women's 'lamenting letters' that has survived within the hegemonic memory, perhaps because in the practice of writing, women, as we have seen, by no means adhered to the officially propagated 'exemplary' style of letter composition during the war. They often acted in a manner diametrically opposed to it, and the functions of the letters and postcards were as multi-facetted as the enormous range of individual female experiences in the war. 'O' It is this very complexity, and with it the historical complexity of gender roles and identities despite all of the continual attempts at standardise them, which emerges most strongly from a close reading of wartime correspondence. "Translated by Amy Krois-Lindner Notes 1. 2. 3.

4.

5.

The author would like to thank Rebecca Earle and Nicholas Stargardt for their assistance in revising this chapter. Anita Runge and Lieselotte Steinbriigge (1991), 'Einleitung', in Die Frau im Dialog. Studien zur Theorie und Geschlchte des Briefes, Anita Runge and Lieselotte Steinbriigge (eds), j.B. Metzler, Stuttgart, pp. 9-10. Today the correspondence - which I am able to cite because the only daughter of Christl and Leopold Wolf did not have the heart to destroy these remains of her parents' estate, although no one else in the family was interested in them - is part of a collection of documents from women's estates archived at the Department of History at the University of Vienna. I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to Christine Katai. See the chance find that Frank Schuhmann made in a building that was to be demolished, which included letters exchanged between Erich Donath and his mother Anna Falkenhain during the First World War: Frank Schuhmann (ed.) (1989), 'Zieh dlCh warm an!' Soldatenpost und Helmatbriefe aus zwei Weltkriegen, Chronik einer Famllie, Verlag Neues Leben, Berlm. On the mother-son relationship in the context of the sacrifice-metaphor of the First World War, see Regina Schulte (1996), 'Kiithe Kollwitz's Sacrifice', History Workshop Journal, no. 41. On brother-sister relationships in Great Britain during the First World War, which women regarded as very important, see Angela Woollacott (1993), 'Sisters and

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8. 9.

10. 11.

12.

13.

14.

177

Brothers in Arms: Family, Class, and Gendering in World War I Britain', in Gendering War Talk, Miriam Cooke and Angela Woollacott (eds), Princeton University Press, Princeton. See Schuhmann (1989), pp. 14-43. See Christa Hammerle (1997), "'Habt Dank, Ihr Wiener Magdelein ... ". Soldaten und weibliche Liebesgaben im Ersten Weltkrieg', L'Homme. Zeitschrift fur Feministische Geschichtswissenschaft, vol. 8:1; and Christa Hammerle (1992), "'Wir strickten und nahten Wasche fiir Soldaten." Von der Militarisierung des Handarbeitens im Ersten Weltkrieg', L'Homme. Zeitschrift (iir Feministische Geschichtswissenschaft, vol. 3:l. For a published example, see Jo Mihaly, ' ... da gibt's ein wiedersehn!' Kriegstagebuch eines Madchens 1914-1918, Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag, Munich, pp. 126-27, 139-40, 205-06. Wartime correspondence also occurred between women and unknown soldiers in Britain: see Woollacott (1993), p. 138. See Peter Knoch (1989), 'Kriegsalltag', in Kriegsalltag. Die Rekonstruktion des Kriegsa/ltags als Aufgabe der historischen Forschung und der Friedenserzicl?ung, Peter Knoch (ed.), J.B. Metzler, Stuttgart, p. 227. See Peter Knoch (1986), 'Feldpost - eine unentdeckte historische Quellengattung', Geschichtsdidaktik, vol. 11:2; and Fritz Fellner (1989), 'Der Krieg in Tagebiichern und Briefen. Uberlegungen zu einer wenig geniitzten Quellenart', in Osterreich und der Grope Krieg 1914-1918. Die andere Seite der Geschichte, Klaus Amann and Hubert Lengauer (eds), Verlag Christian Brandstatter, Vienna. Benigna von Krusjenstern (1997), 'Einleitung', in Selbstzeugnisse aus dem Dreipigjahrigen Krieg. Ein beschreibendes Verzeichnis, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin, p. 11. See Franr;:oise Thebaud (1997), 'Der Erste Weltkrieg. Triumph der Geschlechtertrennung', in Geschichte der Frauen. 20. Jahrhundert, Georges Duby, Michelle Perrot, and Franr;:oise Thebaud (eds), Frankfurt, pp. 41-42, 57; and Walter Kleindl (1989), Der Erste Weltkrieg. Daten - Zahlen - Fakten, Osterreichischer Bundesverlag, Vienna, p. 28, who estimates the total number of US troops at as many as 4,355 million. Leaving aside the soldiers of smaller nations involved in the war, Kleindl arrives at total numbers of approximately 23.6 million for the Central Powers, and roughly 42.3 million soldiers for the Allied Powers. This amounted to approximately four billion letters in the first year of the war alone. See Bernd Ulrich (1989b), 'Feldpostbriefe im Ersten Weltkrieg - Bedeutung und Zensur', in Kriegsalltag. Die Rekonstruktion des Kriegsalltags als Aufgabe der historischen Forschung und der Friedenserziehung, Peter Knoch (ed.), J.B. Metzler, Stuttgart, p. 43; and Manfred Hetding and Michael Jeismann (1993), 'Der Weltkrieg als Epos. Philipp Witkops "Kriegsbriefe gefallener Studenten"', in 'Keiner (uhlt sich hier mehr als Mensch ... ' Erlebnis und Wirkung des Ersten Weltkrieges, Gerhard Hirschfeld, Gerd Krumeich and Irina Renz (eds), Klartext-Verlag, Essen, p. 183. In comparison, 90 million letters and postcards were forwarded during the FrancoPrussian War of 1870/71. See Bernd J. Warneken (1985), Populare Autobiographik. Empirische Studien zu einer Quellengattung der Alltagsgeschichtsforschung, Tiibinger Vereinigung fiir Volkskunde e.Y., Tiibingen, p. 13. This most likely applies to the period with the greatest volume. See Frederic Patka (1989), 'Auch das war die Feldpost. Episoden aus dem diensdichen Alltag der k.u.k. Feldpost 1914-1918', in Studien und Dokumente zur osterreichisch-ungarischen Feldpost im Ersten Weltkrieg, edited and published by Joachim Gatterer and Walter Lukan, Vienna, p. 74. See also Alfred Clement (1964), Handbuch der Feld- und Militarpost II. 1914-1918. Die k.u.k. Feldpost wiihrend des Ersten Weltkrieges, published by the author, Graz, p. 333. See the service regulation E-47 entitled 'K.u.k. Feldpost' (1913), Normalverordnungsblatt fur das k.u.k. Heer, 18. Stuck, k.k. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Vienna.

178 15. 16.

Epistolary Selves

Clement (1964), p. 333. Paul Hoger (1989), 'Das Post- und Telegrafenwesen im Weltkrieg', in Studien und Dokumente zur osterreichisch-ungarischen Feldpost im Ersten Weltkrieg, edited and published by Joachim Gatterer and Walter Lukan, Vienna, p. 43. In Austria there was an even larger issue of special war postcards by private industry. 17. Clement (1964), p. 33. A desideratum for more research on the history of wartime correspondence is also expressed in Joachim Gatterer and Walter Lukan (eds) (1989), Studien und Dokumente zur osterreichisch-ungarischen Feldpost im Ersten Weltkrieg, published by Joachim Gatterer and Walter Lukan, Vienna, p. 5. 18. See Clement (1964), p. 334. 19. Clement (1964), pp. 106-107 (service regulation for the k.u.k. Feldpost from 1884); K.u.k. Feldpost (1913), p. 32. 20. Hoger (1989), p. 43. 21. Hoger (1989), p. 49. 22. Quoted Hoger (1989), p. 40. Grafvon Moltke died in the year 1891. 23. This by no means implies that the history of the private letter is free of many violations of the secrecy of correspondence and of formal rules or constraints. In the nineteenth century, for example, girls at boarding schools had to hand in their letters to home unsealed. See Rebecca Rogers (1995), 'Schools, Discipline and Community: Diary-writing and Schoolgirl Culture in Late Nineteenth-Century France', Women's History Review, vol. 4:4, p. 531. On the influence and circulation of so-called letterwriter's guides in the German-speaking countries, which were intended to guarantee 'exemplary' letters, see Martin Grimberg and Thomas Holscher (1989), '''Als ob man spriiche". Die private Korrespondenz', in Siegfried Grosse, Martin Grimberg, Thomas Holscher and Jorg Karweick, 'Denn das Schreiben gehort nicht zu meiner tiiglichen Beschiiftigung'. Der Alltag 'kleiner Leute' in Bittschriften, Briefen und Berichten aus dem 19. Jahrhundert. Ein Lesebuch, Verlag ].H.W, Dietz Nachf., Bonn, pp. 89-91. There were also special letter-writer's guides for soldiers. See Isa Schikorsky (1992), 'Kommunikation iiber das Unbeschreibbare. Beobachtungen wm Sprachstil von Kriegsbriefen', Wirkendes Wort. Deutsche Sprache und Literatur ill Forschung und Lehre, vol. 42:1, p. 298. 24. See Gustav Spann (] 985), 'Vom Leben im Kriege: die Erkundung der Lebensverhiiltnisse der Bevolkerung bsterreich-Ungarns im Ersten Weltkrieg durch die Briefzensur', in Unterdruckung und Emanzipation. Festschrift fur Erika Weinzierl zum 60. Geburtstag, Rudolf G. Ardelt, Wolfgang J.A. Huber and Anton Staudinger (eds), Geyer-Edition, Vienna, p. 149. For the poor performance of the military postal system in the German Empire, see Ulrich (1989b), especially pp. 49-56. 25. In the German Empire there was no division into field post numbers, but rather the army postal address corresponded to troop formations. This resulted in long and complicated addresses that were surely as confusing as the one which Minna Falkenhain forwarded to her husband stationed in Russia as the new military post address of their son: 'Infantryman Erich Donath, 25'h Reserve Army Corps, 49'h Reserve Division, 21" Reserve Infantry Batallion, 2"" Company, 4'h Inspectorate in the East'. See Schuhmann (] 989), p. 32. 26. See Gustav Spann (1972), 'Zensur in bsterreich wiihrend des l. Weltkrieges', unpublished PhD thesis, University of Vienna, pp. 115, 122; Hoger (1989), p. 53. 27. In Austria this was done only in industrial areas and particularly in the vicinity of the army, which included at first only the northern front, but then later the South Tyrol as well up to the Brenner Pass, Carinthia, Krain, Southern Styria, Coastland, Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia. See Spann (1972), pp. 113-15. 28. Spann (1985), p. 149. 29. See especially Bernd Ulrich (1989a), 'Die Perspektive "von unten" und ihre Instrumentalisierung am Beispiel des Ersten Weltkrieges', Krieg und LiteraturiWar and LIterature, vol. ] :2, pp. 47-64.

WW1 private correspondence 30.

31.

32. 33.

34.

35.

36. 37. 38.

39. 40.

41. 42. 43.

179

Max Winter (ed.) (1915), DeT osteTTeichisch-ungaTische Krieg in Feldpostbriefen, 2 vols, Georg Winter, MunichlBerlin. On the popularity of such anthologies, and for further titles, see Ulrich (1989b), p. 40; Bernd Ulrich (1997) Die Augenzeugen. Deutsche Feldpostbriefe in Kriegs- und Nachkriegszeit 1914-1933, Klartext-Verlag, Essen, pp. 108-128,314-320. The first title comes from the Austrian daily newspaper with the highest circulation, the Il/ustrierte Kronen-Zeitung, which published 'Soldiers' Greetings from the Front' in several issues starting in January 1915. The second title is quoted after Ulrich (1989a), p. 50; Ulrich (1997), p. 108. See also the anthology of the Social Democrat editor Max Winter (1915), which in particular collects letters from the front that appeared previously in various newspapers, from the InnsbruckeT Nachrichten and the 'Arbeiterzeitung' to the Neue FTeie PTesse. Ulrich (1997), p. 304. See for Bavaria: Christine Brocks, Benjamin Ziemann (1994), "'Vom Soldatenleben hatten wir gerade genug." Der Erste Weltkrieg in der Feldpost von Soldaten', in Die letzten Tage der Menschheit. Bilder des Ersten Weltkriegs, Ars Nicolai GmbH &Co, Berlin, p. 120. See Bernd Ulrich (1996), "'Militargeschichte von Unten". Anmerkungen zu ihren Urspriingen, Quellen und Perspektiven im 20. Jahrhundert', Geschichte und Gesellschaft vol. 22:4, pp. 483-485, which notes that the idea came from a suggestion made by the Commander in Chief of the Austro-Hungarian Army; and Ulrich (1997), pp. 150-156. See for example Josefine Edle v. Krepl (1915), 'Soldatendank', in Almanach des Kriegs;ahres 1914115 der patriotischen Frauen Dsterreichs, Verlag Julius Briill, Vienna, pp. 79-81; Kalteschutz 1914-1915 (1915 or 1916), edited and published by Hilfsaktion des Kriegsfiirsorgeamtes 'Kalteschutz', Vienna, pp. 22-26; Jakob Loewenberg (1916), Kriegstagebuch einer Miidchenschule, Egon Fleischel & Co, Berlin, pp. 47-81; as well as numerous annual reports of individual girls' schools from the time of the First World War. See Ulrich (1997), pp. 112-116, and as an example from Austria: Zum Andenken an Robert R. v. Winterhalder. Seine KriegskoTrespondenz und seine Dichtungen (1916), edited and published by his father, Vienna. See for example Leonore Niessen-Deiters (1915), Kriegsbriefe einer Frau, A. Marcus and E. Webers Verlag, Bonn. For a summary of recent results of European women's and gender history, see Thebaud (1997), p. 38; see also the thesis put forth by George L. Mosse (1993), Gefallen fur das Vater/and. Nationa/es He/dentum und namenloses SteTben, KlettCotta, Stuttgart, p. 79; and Jo Vellacott (1987), 'Feminist Consciousness and the First World War', History Workshop, no. 23, pp. 81-101, 88. See Ute Daniel (1989), Arbeiterfrauen in der Kriegsgesellschaft. Beruf, Familie und Politik im Ersten Weltkrieg, Vandenhoeck & Rupprecht, G6ttingen, pp. 25-26. See for example Angelika Tramitz (1989), 'Vom Umgang mit Heiden. Kriegs(vor)schrifren und Benimmregeln fur deutsche Frauen im Ersten Weltkrieg', in Kriegsalltag. Die Rekonstruktion des Kriegsalltags als Aufgabe deT historischen Forschung und der FTiedenserziehung, Peter Knoch (ed.), J.B. Metzler, Stuttgart. For Germany see Regina Schulte (1994), 'Die Schwester des kranken Kriegers. Krankenpflege im Ersten Weltkrieg als Forschungsproblem', in BIOS. Zeitschrift fur Blographieforschung und Oral History, vol. 7:1. On the popularity and the organisation of the 'Liebesgaben'-system, which was a phenomenon mainly of the first half of the war, see Hammerle (1992); and Hammerle (1997). Thebaud (1997), p. 57. See also the concept of the double helix in Margaret R. Higonett and Patrice L.-R. Higonett (1987), The Double Helix', in Behind the Lines. Gender and the Two World Wars, Margaret R. Higonctt, Jane Jenson, Sonya

180

44.

45. 46. 47. 48. 49.

50.

51.

52. 53. 54. 55.

56. 57. 58. 59.

Epistolary Selves Michel and Margaret Collins Weitz (eds), Yale University Press, New Haven/London, pp. 34-36. Malita v. Runstedt (1916), Der SchiUzengraben der deutschen Frau, Stendal, p. 6; Hermann Priebe (1916), Kriegerfrauen! Helft euren Miinnern gewinnen! Sieben ernste Bitten an die Frauen und Miitter unserer tapferen Feldgrauen, Berlin, p. 6. Both are quoted in Ulrich (1997), pp. 163, 166. Ulrich (1997), pp. 167-168. On the significance of the 'lamenting letters' of German women see also Daniel (1989), pp. 149-150. Ulrich (1989b), p. 61. See Spann (1985), p. 153. Margit Sturm (1992), 'Lebenszeichen und Liebesbeweise aus dem Ersten Weltkrieg. Zur Bedeutung von Feldpost und Briefschreiben am Beispiel der Korrespondenz eines jungen Paares', unpublished Diploma thesis, University of Vienna, p. 37. See Runge and Steinbriigge (1991); for England and North America see Elizabeth C. Goldsmith (ed.) (1989), Writing the Female Voice. Essays on Epistolary Literature, Northeastern University Press, Boston; and Mary A. Favret (1993), Romantic Correspondence. Women, Politics and the Fiction of Letters, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. These works focus on the eighteenth century, which is seen as a period of supreme epistolary achievement by women. See several articles in Detlef Vogel and Wolfram Wette (eds) (1995), Andere Helme - Andere Menschen? Heimaterfahrung und Frontal/tag im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Ein internationaler Vergleich, Klartext-Verlag, Essen; and more recently, Margit SchulzUlm (1997), 'Die Liebe und der Krieg. Kriegserfahrung und weiblicher Lebenszusammenhang am Beispiel von privaten Feldpostbriefen aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg', unpublished Diploma thesis, University of Vienna. See the works already cited above, as well as Klaus Latzel (1989), 'Die Zumutungen des Krieges und der Liebe - zwei Annaherungen an Feldpostbriefe', in Kriegsalltag. Die Rekonstruktion des Kriegsal/tags a/s Aufgabe der historischen Forschung und der Friedellserziehung, Peter Knoch (ed.), J.B. Metzler, Stuttgart, pp. 204-221; Aribert Reimann, 'Die heile Welt im Stahlgewitter: Deutsche und englische Feldpost aus dem Ersten Weltkrieg', in Kriegserfahrungen. Studien zur Sozia/- und Mentalitiitsgeschichte des Ersten We/tkriegs, Gerhard Hirschfeld, Gerd Krumeich, Dieter Langewiesche and Hans-Peter Ullmann (eds), Klartext-Verlag, Essen; Barbel Kuhn (1993), '''Die Freude am Krieg fehlte mir jemals". Das Kriegserlebnis des Walter Brosin in seinen Feldpostbriefen 1914-1918', in 'Als der Krieg iiber uns gekommen war ... ' Die Saarregion und der Erste Weltkrieg, edited and published by Stadtverband Saarbriicken, Regionalgeschichtliches Museum, Saarbriicken. See Ulrich (1997); and Mosse (1993). See Schikorsky (1992), p. 300. In this connection she notes the impossibility of 'a regular pattern of action and reaction'. See Sturm (1992), especially p. 114. See for example Wilhelm Winkler (1919), Berufsstatistik der Kriegstoten der ost.ung. Monarchie, L.W. Seidel & Sohn, VIenna; Reinhard Sieder, 'Behind the lines: Working-Class Family Life in Wartime Vienna', in The Upheaval of War. Family, Work and Welfare in Europe, 1914-1918, Richard Wall and Jay Winter (eds), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, p. 110, mentions that 60 per cent of all Viennese soldiers killed in action were working class. Doris Kachulle (ed.) (1982), Die Pohlands im Krieg. Briefe einer Arbeiterfamilie aus dem 1. Weltkrieg, Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne, pp. 181-82. See Kachulle (1982), p. 159, 165, 196. See the extensive remarks on the German Empire in Daniel (1989), pp. 169-171. See Kachulle (1982), p. 186. In 1916 Anna Pohland, along with many other women from Bremen, took a very active part in protests against this situation.

WW1 private correspondence 60.

181

Kachulle, (1982) p. 150. Robert Pohland was killed in France in October 1916. His wife Anna Pohland died in 1919. 61. Runge and Steinbrugge (1991), p. 8. For criticism of the idea that the private letter is a genuinely female genre, see Goldsmith (1989), p. x. 62. Sturm (1992), p. 39. 63. Adolf Scharf was unexpectedly promoted to lieutenant at the beginning of the year 1917. As a student from a poor family he had no financial resources and was dependent on Hilda for financial support. 64. Sturm (1992), p. 143, 65. Sturm (1992) 66. See Thebaud (1997), pp. 81-91. 67. Sturm (1992), p. 152, from Scharf's memoirs. 68. Sturm (1992), 146. 69. See Schuhmann (1989), pp. 21, 28, 41-42. Schuhmann here cites several examples that show how well the letters and postcards from a soldier to a young girl were known to the people of the village, to relatives, and particularly to his own mother. 70. In the course of my research I could not determine whether soldiers allowed unrelated comrades-in-arms to read their letters from home. The cramped conditions in the trenches, the soldiers' sense of themselves as a collective, who were usually all present when post was delivered, and the importance soldiers ascribed to post from home (a point emphasised again and again in their own accounts) leads me to conclude that they probably read aloud to each other from their letters. 71. Sturm (1992), pp. 114-115. 72. See for exemple Knoch (1989); Christa Hammerle (ed.) (1993), Kindheit im Ersten Weltkrieg, Bohlau-Verlag, Vienna, Graz, Cologne. 73. Reimann (1997), p. 143; see also Schikorsky (1992), p. 301; and Kuhn (1993), p. 99. 74. Reimann (1997), p. 141. 75. See Sturm (1992), pp. 86-87. 76. Schikorsky (1992), p. 301. 77. Schikorsky (1992), pp. 300-311. 78. This is especially evident in that she smoothly integrates the letters of Anna and Robert Pohland into her discussion, although these include many very concrete references to the horrors of war. 79. Schikorsky (1992), p. 307. On the frequent use of cliches and set phrases in soldiers' letters, see also Reimann (1997), pp. 133-134. 80. See Schuhmann (1989), pp. 32-33, pp. 35-36; and Kachulle (1982), pp. 201-206. By 1916, if not before, hunger could be described as another typical trench experience. For two war memoirs that describe such experiences in detail, see (for Germany) Dominik Richert (1989), 'Beste Gelegenheit zum Sterben'. Meine Erlebnisse im Kriege 1914-1918, Angelika Tramitz and Bernd Ulrich (eds), Knesebeck and Schuler, Munich; and (for Austria) Alois bller (after 1919), Kriegserlebnisse eines Vierzehners, Katholischer PreRverein, Rohrbach. 81. See Kachulle (1982), pp. 91-92, 149, 159, 164-65, 191, and especially. pp. 189, 196. 82. Schikorsky (1992), p. 308. 83. Kachulle (1982), p. 93. 84. Schikorsky (1992), p. 300. 85. See Konrad Kostlin (1989), 'Erzahlen vom Krieg - Krieg als Reise', BIOS. Zeitschrift fur Biographieforschung und Oral History, vol. 2:2. 86. See among others Sigrid Augeneder (1987), Arbeiterinnen im Ersten Weltkrieg. Lebens· und Arbeitsbedingungen proletarischer Frauen in Qsterreich, EuropaVerlag, Vienna, pp. 128-135; and Sieder (1988), pp. 110-115. 87. Spontaneous protests of this kind at markets and against institutions of the wartime economy were usually carried out by women and youths. For examples from several

182

88. 89.

90. 91.

92. 93.

94. 95. 96.

97. 98.

99. 100.

101.

Epistolary Selves regions in Austria, see Berthold Unfried (1990), 'Arbeiterprotest und Arbeiterbewegung in Osterreich wahrend des Ersten Weltkrieges', unpublished PhD thesis, University of Vienna, pp. 72-80. See Kachulle (1982), pp. 105, 120, 130-131, 137-138, 182-183. See Spann (1985), p. 159; Christa Hammerle (1995), "'The Self which should be Unselfish": Aspects of Self-Testimonies from the First World War', in Christa Hammerle (ed.), Plurality and Individuality. Autobiographical Cultures in Europe, Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna, pp. 106-112. Many vivid examples of this can be found in the correspondence of Anna and Robert Pohland and Adolf and Hilda Scharf: see Kachulle (1982); and Sturm (1992). Thus begins one of many accounts of the political situation which the Hamburg merchant's wife Hanna Boldt wrote in her wartime correspondence of 1914. See Edith Hagener (1986), 'Es lief sich so sicher an Deinem Arm'. Briefe einer Soldatenfrau 1914, Beltz, Weinheim, Basel, p. 171. See Runge and Steinbriigge (1991), p. 9. See the continually recurring passages in the correspondence between Minna Falkenhain and her husband Karl, quoted in Schuhmann (1989), pp. 26, 71, 75, 79, 107; Kachulle (1982), pp. 46,59-60,62,199,201. The topic also found its way into literature. See Arnold Zweig (first edition 1931, 1995), Junge Frau von 1914 (the second volume in the cycle 'Der GroBe Krieg des weiBen Mannes'), Berlin. See also Sturm (1992), p. 147. See Spann (1985), p. 161. The exceptional situation described by Adolf Scharf gives an indication of how common this practice was. At the height of his sense of alienation from his wife Hilda in the summer of 1918, he complains: 'I never asked you to go to the ministry and cry for me there; others have done it and other women have got away with it'. See Sturm (1992), p. 147. Thebaud (1997), p. 55. On the myth of the 'stab in the back', see, for example, Bernhard Denscher, Gold gab ich fur Eisen. Osterreichische Kriegsplakate 1914-1918, Jugend & Volk, Vienna/Munich, p. 7; and Richard Bessel (1993), '''Die Heimkehr des Soldaten": Das Bild der Frontsoldaten in der Offentlichkeit der Weimarer Republik', in 'Keiner fuhlt sich hier mehr als Mensch ... ' Erlebnis und Wirkung des Ersten Weltkriegs, Gerhard Hirschfeld, Gerd Krumeich, and Trina Renz (eds), Klartext-Verlag, Essen, pp. 221-223. On the myth of the male experience of war after 1918 see also Mosse (1993), Chapters 8ff. Max Bauer (1921), Der grope Krieg in Feld und Heimat. Erinnerungen und Betrachtungen von Oberst Bauer, Osiander'sche Buchhandlung, Tiibingen, pp. ]53-155; for Austria see also Hoger (1989), p. 44. See, for Germany, Susanne Rouette (1993), Sozialpolitik als Geschlechterpolitik: die Regulierung der Frauenarbeit nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg, Campus-Verlag, FrankfurtlNew York. For an analysis of the objectively and subjectively limited warrelated changes in gender relations see also Thebaud (1997), pp. 85-91; Mosse (1993), p. 79. Thebaud (1997), p. 61.

10 'Letters are everything these days':1 mothers and letters in the Second World War Jenny Hartley

During a war letters assume a heightened significance, and the Second World War can be seen as the last golden age of letter writing. More letters were probably written, posted, lost and received during the war than at any time before or since. 2 The population as a whole, and women in particular, were exhorted to write letters as part of their patriotic duty; at the same time writing letters could help to keep the war at bay. Intimate and personal letters are sometimes construed as artless and transparent acts of self-expression, but we can detect in the letters written to and from mothers in the war a range of characteristics that align the letter-writer with the novelist. Letters by mothers can be read as masterpieces of simulated conversation and character creation, fictions of spontaneity; letters to mothers can reveal the problems of finding an appropriate personal language in wartime. For friends and family split up by evacuation, war work and military service, letters were often the only form of communication possible. Leave was difficult to co-ordinate among friends and family (a major preoccupation in wartime letters). Travel for personal reasons was discouraged ('Is Your Journey Really Necessary?') and even telephone calls presented problems. They were very expensive compared to raday's rates, often logistically awkward, and publicly advised against. The Post Office headed its Press Announcement for May 1943: 'Please Telephone Less', and explained, 'Social chatter over the telephone networks may hold up vitally important war talks'. The Phono-Bug, a close and unattractive relation of the Squander-bug, was invented to curb telephone abuse. The slogan on hoardings was 'Don't Telegraph, Write'. The rendez-vous on paper was the only sort of rendez-vous that was actively encouraged, despite the shortages of paper, pens and pencils. The need for a good postal service was recognised early in the war, in the interest of what the Director General of the Post Office called 'good morale'. 'It came to be realised,' he wrote, 'that fresh and frequent news from home was necessary for the soldier's comfort'. This was partly a lesson learnt from the First

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Epistolary Selves

World War.3 The Army Generals agreed, and Field Marshall Montgomery ordered mail deliveries to begin in France on D-Day itself, the first day of the Normandy landings in June 1944. Some Army postmen reached France by parachute and glider before the first beach landings: Sending quantities of bulky mail overseas to troops serving in North Africa and the Far East, especially with the Suez Canal closed, was a major problem, and the Post Office rose to the occasion with two new inventions: the airgraph and the air letter. Airgraphs, called V-mail in America, came first; they were an early version of the fax. The letter was written on a special form and taken to a Post Office, where it was photographed on to a film strip. A strip of 1700 letters despatched in a small metal container weighed five and a half ounces altogether, instead of what would have been fifty pounds on paper. At the other end the letter was reproduced on a small form, about three inches by four inches, possible to read if written clearly. The Queen sent the first airgraph to inaugurate the service in August 1941, 'on behalf,' she wrote, 'of all the women at home', acknowledging that it was women who would make the most use of this new technology.5 Despite their lack of privacy, about 350 million airgraphs were sent before they were superseded by airletters, which were welcomed because they could be sealed by the writer. The Imperial War Museum in London has a large holding of Second World War letters and receives collections at the rate of about ten a week; however, what it has is only a small fraction of what there was. We can begin to appreciate the phenomenon of the letter in wartime by seeing how other media adopted it as a form. In 1941, for example, a Ministry of Information film designed to show American audiences everyday life in Britain was structured as a letter written by an English mother (played by the very English Celia Johnson) to her children evacuated to America; it was called simply 'A Letter from Home'. Radio also exploited the letter format. The popular British singer, Vera Lynn, headed a programme whose title, 'Sincerely Yours', suggested a letter and whose billing in the Radio Times read, 'To the men of the Forces: a letter in words and music from Vera Lynn'. In her autobiography Lynn describes visiting hospitals, so that she could broadcast messages from wives with newborn babies. This was popular not just with the lucky few she mentioned, 'it was also good,' she later wrote, 'and reassuring for those who didn't get chosen, because they'd know that the contact was there ... it had the effect of reducing distances between people'.' Books and magazine articles also pretended to be letters. The humorous writer Joyce Dennys published a series of articles about rural life in wartime 'in the form of letters addressed to someone who had gone into the Army, and I called them "Please Forward" ... I had letters about the pieces from soldiers all over the world, who used to say that it reminded them of their own small towns in England'.7 In 1938 Virginia Woolf couched her polemical essay Three Guineas in the form of a reply to a correspondent's question: 'How in your opinion are we to prevent war?' Woolf chose the letter as the 'warm' genre of the woman writer, with her strong individual presence, 'the face on the other side of the page', reaching out to forge a close relationship with the reader.' As Vera Lynn, Joyce Dennys and Virginia Woolf recognised, the power of the

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letter in wartime lay not only in its construction of bridges between those apart, but also in its ability to speak the individual voice. The letter guarantees and authenticates - Or seems to - sincerity and intimacy. In wartime the status of the individual is fragile and vulnerable: sent among strangers, regimented, uniformed and facing danger and perhaps death. In these circumstances the 'warm' genre is particularly welcome. The collections in the Imperial War Museum show expectations of men as letter-writers during the war to have been low. A woman involved in demanding war work and living away from home in a hostel, ended a long letter to her soldier brother-in-law in 1944: 'Don't bother to reply to this epistle'.9 Daughters learned to expect little from fathers: a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl evacuated to the country wrote to her mother in 1941, 'I have written to Dad, but he hasn't written to me, I suppose he doesn't get much time, so I won't bother him'.10 Even for a POW son some fathers did not rise to direct communication. Fergus Anckorn, who was held prisoner by the Japanese, heard from his father through his mother; 'Dad says', she wrote to his dictation, signing off for him, 'Well old chap, must end this now. Look after yourself and keep smiling'.l1 The epistolary brevity of the military male was given practical acknowledgement in the Royal Mail's development of illustrated airletters designed for troops stationed overseas. Soldiers with little to say could write a short message and leave a large picture of their tropical setting to do the rest. 12 It was women who seem to have seen the point of letters and seized their possibilities with marked zest. The pen-friend custom testified to the letter's patriotic work for the war effort. Many women had pen friends all over the world, often men in the forces whom they had never met. Vee Robinson worked in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, where many women 'received mail on Mail days owing to the ever growing circle of pen friend letters we wrote'.'l Margaret Harries, a landgirl billeted in a Welsh hostel, had 'pen pals all over the Globe. I was corresponding to the Falklands, North and South Africa'." Sometimes this correspondence flourished into romance, but the function of the contact was initially one of support. Women also established support networks between strangers, writing to pass on messages they had heard on German radio from POWs in Germany." In their personal letters women seem to have grasped and exploited the potential of letters more readily than men. Jock Lewes, one of the founder members of the SAS, apologised for writing 'at length' to Mirren Barford but explained to her, '1 am one of the few remaining people who like letter writing and practise it, however ineptly, as an art'. Later he recognised the disadvantages in his approach compared to hers: 'God, what a pompous fool I am! You implore me to relax and here 1 am aping the stilted languages of centuries ago ... You have never lost your ability to put yourself on paper'.'· Putting yourself on paper; or as a mother commented in a letter to her son, 'Well, my dear, I just ramble on as if I am talking to yoU'.17 With this fictional conversation women created an intimate yet relaxed world, a valuable space for the reader and writer in wartime. I have chosen to focus on mothers' letters not only because they exemplify

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clearly the kind of work which wartime letters did but also because, of all the letters which were written and sent during the war, mothers' letters have suffered disproportionately. They have had the worst rates of survival, for obvious reasons. Letters coming from the front or from those away from home can be and usually are carefully preserved by their recipients, especially if they are letters going home. The letters that go out from home to those away are more vulnerable to being lost, jettisoned by those on the move, whether it be on a battlefront or to a new billet. Letters from sweethearts and wives were more carefully tended than those from mothers, in the way, by analogy, that we look after books more carefully than newspapers. Like newspapers, mothers' letters were valued but not necessarily preserved. A mother with a son or daughter working or serving away from home often found herself at the centre of a family's network of correspondence. 18 Sometimes she functioned simply as a conduit, passing on news of family members from one to another. She might also send food and clean washing. 19 For millions of women, writing was a form of mothering at a distance, and they wrote to their children more than once a week. Many young adults, especially women, who were- away from home for the first time - perhaps in one of the services or doing war work in a factory - felt disoriented and lonely, and they begged their mothers for as many letters as possible. Joan Kirby, a nineteen-year-old Wren, wrote to her parents from her training ship in 1943: 'Jan gets about five letters a day!! You've absolutely no idea what letters mean here. To see everyone rush for them at "stand easy" would make you gape!! So write often."o Another Wren, Stephanie Batstone, wrote to her mother that she was 'dying for letters ... I have now had nothing for two days and if you can think of anybody who would write do ask them to, I don't mind replying'.'1 Jenny Nicholson was in the WAAFs where, she said, 'We would queue eagerly for hours for the slenderest chance of a postcard from the outside world.' Jenny Nicholson stipulated what her mother should write: 'The best letters were long homely ones telling us every microscopic bit of local gossip' and it was to meet demands such as these that mothers fashioned their letters." Their longdistance mothering role was to bring not just a person to the one away but a place - home - with its concomitant sense of security and identity to the reader. While the child reads the letter he or she is at home, and the long letter is best because it makes the sensation of feeling at home last longer. Others have spoken of the world-making power of the letter; the variant we have in mothers' letters is the home-making power of the letter. In their letters mothers reproduced the kind of dailiness we find in women's fiction. The creation of the everyday, the 'study of provincial life', to borrow Middlemarch's subtitle, is a project which the letter-writing mother shares with the writer of domestic fiction. Those absent wished to read about their own version of Jane Austen's three or four families in a country village. Wartime letterwriting manuals such as Charles Warrell's ninepenny booklet 'I'll Teach you Better Letter Writing. Give Life To Your Letters - The Warrell Way' encouraged women letter-writers to keep their readers 'in the home circle' through the

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accumulation of domestic detail. What might seem unimportant kitchen trivia is thus transformed into realism with a moral rationale. Seasoned writers numbered their letters, so that the reader would be able to follow the order of composition. The letter is not to be read as an isolated expression, it derives its meaning from its place and part in the sequence, and the reader must go down the right narrative path. Mothers' letters produce parallel lives for those away from home, a continuous documentation of their real selves, as it were, existing elsewhere. Letters are the vehicles that bring what is missing to those away. In the midst of destruction and institutional anonymity they build home, individuality and affection, replenishing the self being sapped by war. Hours of labour went into this work of letter writing, as we can appreciate from some of the collections which survive. Mothers were the marathon writers, corresponding at length and over time.23 Theirs was the long-haul approach, sustaining the family by remote control, weaving family members back into the texture of their domestic and affective lives. Mothers such as Nancy Buchanan and Nella Last wrote at great length, 'four pads going at once,' wrote Nella Last in her Mass Observation diary, 'always writing, always trying to interest or amuse my boys'.24 These lengthy annals can be seen as the real people's novels of the war: optimistic, longrunning hope operas. Hope sometimes in the face of not much to go on. Fergus Anckorn, for example, was posted missing for eighteen months before his parents heard that he was in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp. During that time his mother wrote to him every week, sending her letters off into the void, letters which she never knew if Fergus received (some he did a year or two later, some never arrived). In her book Epistoiarity, Approaches to a Form, Janet Gurkin Altman describes the letter as a bridge between two distant points, and observes that the writer can emphasise either the distance or the bridge. 25 Mothers such as Mrs Anckorn invariably emphasise the bridge, even and perhaps especially when it may not be a bridge at all. Mrs Anckorn kept her one-way conversation going for two years, a monologue pretending to be a dialogue. Occasionally her flow falters, when she knows that he is a POW but has not heard from him: 'Words are such silly things, aren't they, to give any idea of one's thoughts,' but she takes care to follow the misgiving with something positive: 'everyone seems to think you'll land on your feet somehow, wherever you are and in whatever circumstances. Well, God grant your luck may still hold good'.26 It did, and Fergus got home. If mothers were the domestic realists of the war, they also had to practise the novelist's arts of editing and selecting. Letters might offer space for creativity and enable the writing self to gain in confidence, but they had to be carefully angled and controlled with the reader in mind. Mothers could not forget for long the function of their letters as surrogate maternal comfott. Jenny Nicholson's mother wrote letters 'with lots of kisses at the end in different-coloured chalk', earning Nicholson's tart comment, 'Mother forgets we are full grown'.27 But perhaps Mrs Nicholson knew well what might comfort and amuse her daughter, who kept up her demands for more letters, which she always expected to be cheerful. This was not the place for maternal introspection; suppression and reticence govern what can be said. The

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spontaneity is a fiction; self-censorship is imperative. 28 Grief is a potentially dangerous emotion in wartime, inviting unpatriotic thoughts. Nancy Buchanan wrote to her son Peter about his brother who had been killed in North Africa: 'It hurts dreadfully. Still as you say, war is bloody - and the only thing to do is to get on with the job'.29 Advice to letter writers in women's magazines concurred in dissuading their readers, whether mothers, wives or daughters, from openness and self-expression in their letters. Daphne du Maurier prescribed strict self-censorship: 'Whatever she does, and must feel in her heart, of strain and anxiety, no sign of it should appear in any of her letters ... There must be no weakness in these letters of ours, no poor and pitiful hinting at despair. We must be strong, and confident, and full of faith'.3D In the interests of public morale, women were asked to invent pious and noble fictions of themselves on paper, and reticence became a patriotic duty. The mother with a young child whose father was absent had pressing reasons to develop the novelist's art of character creation. In her letters she had to recreate the child for the father - a child who had no other existence for its father but in words. The busy mother became skilled at what the novelist Samuel Richardson called 'writing to the moment', describing what was going on in front of her as she wrote. The nursery bulletin usually shared at the end of the day the minutiae of a child eating cherries or teasing a cat or banging out the V for Victory rhythm on its high chair - had to be recorded for the absent father. Reading these letters, and only by reading them, a soldier or sailor could be temporarily a father. After a year away from home David Hopkinson wrote to his wife about their baby son: 'You write of Thomas with the full power to make him come alive for me. I suppose he is your creation like a novelist's favourite character whom he is always talking about. For you Tommy is a creation both in the word and the flesh. For me the flesh has become the word, and not the word the flesh'." For Hopkinson and other absent fathers the child was only a child of words. 'Hugo makes no sense some days,' complained Hugh Williams, separated from his young son and referring to him as a difficult text. 32 Mothers sent letters, and they also received them. Their youngest correspondents were of course their evacuated children, children suddenly cut off from their mothers and thrown on the alien resource of letters. 33 Hilda Hollingsworth described the first letter she sent as a ten-year-old, the classic formalletter copied from the blackboard: Dear Mum (and Dad), Thank you for your lovely letter (and pocket money) which (I) (we)(was)(were) very pleased to receive. It is very nice living here in the countryside. (Miss) (Mrs) - is a very kind lady and (I am)(we are) very happy ... "

Hilda's mother wrote back to her three daughters, also to a formula: My dear daughters, Thank you for your lovely letters. Be good girls and here is sixpence each. 1 will be coming to see you soon. My respects to the lady. 1 remain your everloving Mother.

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Hollingsworth commented: 'She'd always finish it with a row of kisses, and although it was lovely to receive and to share, after a while I began to think that all mothers were being collected up on certain days to go somewhere and copy their letters off somebody's blackboard'.35 Like many town children, Hilda was shunted round the country; she ended up in Wales, forced to work as a skivvy, and beaten with a leather belt. But her letters still had to follow various rules. 'Cheerfulness was the main ingredient', surveillance while she was writing them was constant, and writing materials were hard to find. Eventually the child scavenged some empty cigarette packets from salvage sacks and wrote messages on their blank insides: 'Dear Mum, please come and get us, the letters aren't true, please come soon, Hilda'. When her mother arrived to fetch her children home, she came with the hurtful revelation that the painful cries for help had been passed round the factory: "'We 'ad a good laugh an' all - Christ, the things kids gets up to, says Peg"'.36 Letters from adult children invariably expressed appreciation for their mothers' letters. This correspondence clearly meant much to both sides. Even when fathers were at home too, children might address their letters only to their mothers, apparently leaving their fathers out. This practice may have stemmed from the convention that letters should be addressed to only one person. But it also suggests that the child particularly wished to communicate with his or her mother. Sometimes the child wanted to console. After Arthur Buchanan was killed fighting in North Africa in March 1943, his brother Peter wrote almost constantly to their mother - so much so that in July 1943 Nancy Buchanan commented: 'Most unusual, no letter from Peter for two days'; - and this from a man on active service in North Africa. Peter's sister Mary wrote to him appreciatively in June: 'You are wonderful at writing such a multitude of letters to Mother, she just loves getting them so do keep it up Peter - don't bother about answering mine as I can always read your letters home; it means such a lot to Mother and she deserves it'. Nancy herself wrote to Peter at the end of May: 'You are a splendid letter writer and it's helping very much to fill the gap Arthur left'.37 Letters to fill the gap Arthur left: letters had much work to do during the war, and sons like Peter Buchanan understood thilt. Daughters too. Joan Kirby wrote to her parents after her brother was killed in an RAF training accident in 1943, with an awareness of the functions of letters for writers as well as readers: 'Don't for goodness sake either of you, think that you have to write me cheery letters even if you're feeling about as low as a well, because although I like to think of you all being as bright as you can ... I know just how you're feeling about everything ... your letters won't upset me if they're written when you're depressed. The more you let it out of your system the better you are for it'." Even at nineteen Joan Kirby understands about writing as therapy, and makes this generous offer to receive her parents' grief. These are letters of consolation; most letters to mothers from children on active service are descriptive and narrative, and exhibit a range of epistolary strategy, function and exigency. The language in which young men were accustomed to write (or to abstain from writing) letters home would not readily

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accommodate their radically new experiences; these new experiences in their turn came accompanied by and clad in their own discourses. The language available to a man engaged in new forms of combat dictates some strange collocations, as we can see in the letters from two RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain in June 1940. Group Captain John McComb described a dog-fight over Dunkirk: I hadn't been there a second before a Messerschmidt 110 on my tail started pumping shells at me. I did a roll out of that - getting too hot and in an effort to nip round on its tail I spun down 10,000 feet to 2,000 feet. I went up again to 5,000 feet and saw that there were only 4 Heinkels left so I may have got it, but the AA fire was so heavy that I don't think I could have made it again without getting hit, so I beat it home. Hell of a fight ... Christ I was frightened at times, some of our machines looked like sieves. We'll get another bang at the bastards soon I hope ... Young Macfie, aged 19, chased one straight into the harbour and when the bits came up gave it a burst too ... It's damned frightening but hellish good fun (afterwards)."

Another young pilot, Leslie Carter, gave his mother a full account of baling out: At 17,000 I decide to get out and grabbing the tail on one of its frequent swings, held on until I am standing on the edge of the cockpit and then let go and jumped backwards, ... have not a single cut or bruise thank the Lord and the parachute packer, whom I have just been round to thank in the normal way. Cheerio. Love to all at home.'o

McComb and Carter describe their near-deaths to their mothers in mixedmessage letters which begin 'My dear Mum' and splice the logbook details of a debriefing session together with the casual nonchalance and swagger of the mess, in a need to take the parent into the new terrain. Their letters speak the power of the controlling myth of the moment, an RAF strait-jacket simultaneously glamorous and lethal. The search for an appropriate language in which to write of war to a mother back home preoccupied Lieutenant George Morrison in a very long letter which he sent to his mother from North Africa in September 1942 (he was with the Eighth Army)." The appreciation of how much letters mean to both his mother and himself is Morrison's starting point: 'I feel in my bones that you are pining for a decent long one, just as much as 1 was before 1 got your 1,2 and 3 - so the least 1 can do in the way of a Xmas present is this!' His letter concludes some pages later with an understanding of what has been achieved: 'I can spread my feelings a bit better in a letter' (i.e. better than in an airletter). Morrison's well-written and absorbing letter abounds in vivid description and detail, filling out the present and evoking the past, but what gives it particular interest is its self-consciousness, its dramatisation of Morrison's conflicted position as a soldier letter-writer. Morrison is a man with a gift for writing, and a need to write, but also with a distrust of writing, since it undermines his concept of the man of action. His request for another pen (his has been smashed) is accompanied by explanation and rationalisation: 'There is no possible hope of getting one here, as the ration trucks that come up have to be filled to the doors with bully and beans and things - no one bothers about sending up effeminacies

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like pens and ink, which to my mind are just as important to the soldier's happiness in the desert.' Morrison's prose swings between knowing that his fellow men of action consider pen and ink 'effeminacies' and his own acknowledgement of their value. In the very act of writing his long letter to 'spread' his 'feelings' he senses the potential danger of this process: spreading the feelings can lead the writer into sentiment, a minefield for the man at war. His need to assure his mother of the importance of her love has to overcome some soldierly flinching: 'Brushing aside all sentimentality, which I abhor, or think I do, if it wasn't for the thought that you were at home, waiting for me to come back, praying for me perhaps, and certainly thinking of me, then I would be undone no more, no less.' The hesitation of 'sentimentality which I abhor, or think I do' betrays the difficult and complex burden of the soldier as man of feeling, a burden which the act of letter writing has prompted into articulation. For Morrison, as for others, letter writing becomes a moment of self-creation and self-awareness, and Morrison builds on this to reflect on the letter itself: I am determined that this shall be a very prince of letters - a sine qua non - a masterpiece - in other words, something which you may hand round from hand to hand, and say in a hushed and reverential voice - 'This, this my friends is from my boy at the Front' - at the Front·I repeat, - one of the country's heroes, who sweats that we may live, who goes to the bathroom in a bully beef tin and buries it, that we may use our Shanks Patent Flush. The contradictory yet controlled impulses of the writer - a self-deprecation which seeks to deflate the rhetoric of gallant heroes and brave mamas, a desire to convey some of the more unpleasant aspects of the desert war but only in euphemistic form, and an assurance that he has accepted the possibility of his own death - make this letter, as Morrison himself says, 'a masterpiece'. His handling of a range of moods and tones throughout its considerable length enables him to accomplish much emotional work, to 'spread' his 'feelings' as he says at the end, to reassure both his mother and himself of his emotional as well as his physical well-being. He was killed in the month after he wrote this letter at the battle of EI Alamein. Daughters also found themselves in the front line as they worked as nurses, air raid wardens and ambulance drivers; and they also wrote long letters back to their mothers. Some of these letters reveal a different impulse in the writer, a need to make the parent endure at second-hand some of the terrible scenes the child has just witnessed. Nancy Bosanquet, an ambulance driver in the blitz, begins her letter blandly enough: 'My dear Mummie, I have been having a pretty busy time lately so I will tell you all about it now while I have time' .42 The letter then switches genre, transforming into a minutely detailed document of graphically described horror and mutilation: 'The screaming child's face was black and bloody on one side - & her pillow soaked in blood, & the man next door to her had a bloody lint across his eyes,' and so on at great length. Bosanquet's pages of unremitting violence seem to be prompted by a need to punish the mother for failing to protect her child from these horrors of war.

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Saddest of all the letters sent to mothers were, of course, the ones to be read in the event of a son's or daughter's death. These 'last letters' became a public genre, the most famous exemplum of which was by Flying Officer Vivian Rosewarne: 3 Rosewarne's mother was persuaded to publish the letter shortly after his death, in The Times and later in a booklet. 'It was a most noble, moving letter,' wrote the novelist Dorothy Whipple in her diary after hearing it read out in church one Sunday, 'an example to us all in how to die':' Rosewarne had not intended his letter for publication, but this was not an inappropriate fate for it, since Rosewarne uses his letter to fit both himself and his mother into a framework which is wider than the private and personal. He wants to position both of them in terms of a national history and a religious perspective: this will give his death meaning. He refers to the lessons of the Bible and Christianity, and the consolation of having 'lived and died an Englishman'. In comparison with other letters written to mothers, Rosewarne's appears rhetorical, addressed not so much to his mother as to an idea of her. Its measured flourishes give her and her grief a public shape and discourse. Eric Rawlings' last letter to his parents was also reprinted, this time in his parish magazine. Like Rosewarne, Rawlings wants to identify himself straightforwardly with firm yet vague goals: 'I'm fighting so that in future people will have the chance to live as happily as we all did together before the war without interference."7 Last letters such as these, written to console grieving parents, were understandably treasured, at a time when other letters of consolation were not always welcome:' In June 1940 Virginia Woolf noted in her diary: "'Please, no letters" I read this twice in The Times Deaths column from parents of dead officers'." This is the reticence of wartime, reminding us that letters can console and cheer, but they can also be a liability. Writing letters in wartime added considerably to the burden of men and women's days and nights, already overfull with war work, fire-watching and queuing for food. But the gains were not just for the readers; in the process of writing the letter, the writer constructed for him or herself (and in this chapter I have been more concerned with herself) a continuous character and identity. Writing just after the end of the war in 1945, Elizabeth Bowen pointed out how the war sapped people's sense of identity. 'Self-expression in small ways stopped', according to Bowen, and this had a deleterious effect on one's sense of self: 'You used to know what you were like from the things you liked, and chose. Now' there was not what you liked, and you did not choose.''' Bowen claimed that writing was one way of restoring the sense of self. Although she does not refer to letter-writers (whose private work was largely invisible in the public domain until after the war), Bowen's commentary lends itself well to this extension. In a quite specific application of her words, we can watch a writer creating herself as she describes herself to her reader in the act of writing. 'I'm sat on the stairs outside the bathroom waiting patiently for a bath,' wrote Ivy Bratley to her brother-inlaw. 'I believe there are four in front of me so I thought I could write to you and Colin."· 'Hello Honey', wrote Dot Grafton to her fiance in 1945, 'Here I am again - still sitting in front of the fire drying my hair'.50 The calming and

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reassuring tableau of composition draws attention to the writer as self-creator, and reminds us that the word 'composition' has more than one meaning. The wartime letter's primary function was to act as a bridge in its work as 'a life support system'; its secondary function was to define and shore up the vulnerable identity of the wartime writer. 52 Notes A version of this chapter appears in Jenny Hartley (1997), Millions Like Us: British Women's Fiction of the Second World War, Virago Press, London. 1.

2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

Nancy Buchanan, letter dated 31 May 1943, Papers of Captain P.A. Buchanan, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum, London. Between March 1944 and March 1945 the one-way traffic of letters despatched overseas from Britain reached 374 million. See Post Office Commercial Accounts 1944-1945, Post Office Archive, London. Sir Thomas Gardiner, 'An Account of the Post Office During the Second World War', Post Office Archive, Post 56/63. See the Obituary of Brigadier James Drew, The Times, 3 January 1990. Post Office Archive, Post 56/28. For details about the airgraph, see Ian Hay (1946), The Post Office Went to War, HMSO, London, pp. 44-45, and Howard Robinson (1964), Carrying British Mail Overseas, George Allen and Unwin, London. The BBC Board of Governors was less keen; their minutes read: "'Sincerely Yours" deplored but popularity noted'. See Vera Lynn (1975), Vocal Refrain, W.H. Allen, London, p. 98. Joyce Dennys, quoted in Jonathan Croall (1988), Don't You Know There's a War On?, Hutchison, London, pp. 179-180. Virginia Woolf (1986), Three Guineas, The Hogarth Press, London, pp. 5, 4l. Ivy Bratley, letter dated September 1994, Papers of Walter Bratley, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. Joan Chantrelle, letter dated August 1941, Papers of Joan Chantrelle, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. Letter dated 26 March 1943, Papers of Fergus Anckorn, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. The only letters addressed to Private Frank Shillam and returned after his death are from women (his mother and sisters), despite the fact that he also wrote to his father, brother and male friends. See Papers of Frank Shillam, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. For examples of the high standards of artwork on these airletter cards, see Papers of Walter Bratley, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. Vee Robinson (1991), On Target, Verity Press, Wakefield, p. 170. Papers of Margaret Harries (nee Rushton), Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. See also Papers of Mrs. P.M.J. Dance, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. See the letters of thanks to Mrs Stevens, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. Mirren Barford and John Lewes (1995), Joy Street. A Wartime Romance in Letters, 1940-1942, Little, Brown, London, pp. 5,202. Letter from Mrs Phyllis Higgins, dated 4 March 1945, Papers of Mrs P.M. Higgins, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. This division of labour often persists in that the task of sending out the family Christmas cards falls to the mother. A recent straw poll among my students indicated that this was the case in many families.

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19. See, for example, the Bratley family correspondence, Papers of Walter Bratley, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. See also Papers of Frank Shillam, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. 20. Letter dated 30 June 1943, Papers of Miss J.M. Kirby, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. 21. Letter dated June 1943, Papers of Stephanie Batstone, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. 22. Jenny Nicholson (1944), Kiss the Girls Goodbye, Hutchinson, London, p.14. 23. While anthologies such as Eva Figes (1993), Women's Letters in Wartime, Pandora Press, London, give an excellent idea of the content of mothers' letters (she includes some by Nancy Buchanan), it is only by seeing collections as a whole that one can appreciate the volume of what was written. 24. Diary entry dated 25 August 1942, Nella Last (1981), Nella Last's War: A Mother's Diary, 1939-1945, Richard Broad and Suzie Fleming (eds), Falling Wall Press, Bristol, p.214. 25. Janet Gurkin Altman (1982), Episto!arity, Approaches to a Form, Ohio State University Press, Columbus, p. 13. 26. Letter dated 9 March 1943, Papers of Fergus Anckorn, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. 27. Nicholson (1944), p. 56. 28. Formal and official censorship was a reality of war. It was imposed on all overseas mail, and on inland mail to and from ports and other sensitive areas. See the Stephenson Report on Reorganisation of Censorship, 1940, Post Office Archive, Post 56/63. Even letters confining themselves to the safe areas of Britain betray a constant awareness of the censor. Coded language, a phenomenon of both love and war, was in vogue. Joan Wyndham wrote to her lover on his call-up: 'You'll write to me, won't you? Don't forget our code. Anything that has "quire" before ir means the opposite. i.e. "our officer is quite a nice chap" means "fucking awful bastard''', Joan Wyndham (1985), Love Lessons. A Wartime Diary, Heinemann, London, p. 152. 29. Lerrer dated 17 May 1943, Papers of Captain P.A. Buchanan, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. 30. Daphne du Maurier, 'Letrer Writing in Wartime', Good Housekeeping, Seprember 1940, reprinted in Brian Braithwaite, Noelle Walsh and Glyn Davies, (eds) (1987), The Home Front, The Best of Good Housekeeping, 1939-1945, Ebury Press, London, p. 21. 3t. Letter dared 1942, Ronald Blythe (ed.) (1991), Private Words: Letters and Diaries from the Second World War, Viking Press, London, p. 26. 32. Letter dared 5 February 1945, Hugh and Margaret Williams (1995), Always and Always: The Wartime Letters of Hugh and Margaret Williams, John Murray, London, p.216. 33. 'Children turn into letters' was the sad phrase coined by parents on mainland Europe who had sent their children out of danger, often never to be seen again. See Marion Kaplan, 'Jewish Women in Nazi Germany', in Between Sorrow and Strength. Women Refugees of the Nazi Period, Sibelle Quack (ed.) (1995), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 24. 34. Hilda Hollingsworth (1992), They Tied a Label on My Coat, Virago Press, London, p.13. 35. Hollingsworth (1992), p. 14. 36. Hollingsworth (1992), pp. 202-203, 251, 278. 37. Letters dated 11 June 1943 and 31 May 1943, Papers of Captain P.A. Buchanan, Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. 38. Letter dated 20 August 1943, Papers of Miss J. Kirby (now Joan Hatfield), Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum. 39. Group Captain John McComb, lerrer dated 3 June 1940, reprinted in Annette Tapen

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40. 41. 42. 43.

44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52.

195

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Index Abelard and Heloise, 1, 120 Abels, Elizabeth, 121 Adams, Elizabeth, 17,20-1 Adams, John Quincy, 17 Addison, Joseph, 119 affectation, 5,24 Africa, 184-5, 188-90 Agnew, John, 68 airgrams and airletters, 184-5, 190 Altman, Janet Gurkin, 84,86, 135, 187 America Letters, see immigrants American Revolution, 70 Amherst, 142 Ammon, 112 Anckorn, Fergus, 185, 187 Arabian Nights' Entertainments, 83, 84 Aris, Michael, 90 Army Life in a Black Regiment, 142 artisans, 60, 70, 124, 166; letters of, 17, 48 Auden, W.H., 135 Austen, jane, 6, 186 Austria, 8-9, 152-5, 157, 161 Austro-Hungarian Empire, 152, 154-6, 160 autobiography, 2,118-19 Gli Avanzi delle Poste, 5

Blenheim Papers, 18 Bogle, George, 3, 79-93 passim Bogle Family, Elizabeth, 79, 83-6, 90; Robert, 81, 82, 85-6; Anne, 83-6, 90, 93; Mary, 83-4; Nancy, 83; john, 85 Bohun, Ralph, 1 bookkeeping, 66-8, 118 Booth, Benjamin, 71-2 Bordieu, Pierre, 101 Bosanquet, Nancy, 191 bourgeoisie, Swedish, 4,96-7,99, 105-6; bourgeois women, 122, 124, 126-7, 156 Bowen, Elizabeth, 192 Bowles, Samuel, 183, 140 Bremen, 160,167,170 British Library, 80 Brodie, Janet Farrell, 9 Bromley, William, 24 Brown, Martha, 81, 83, 90, 93 Brown, Richard, 4, 70 Buchanan Family, Nancy, 187-9; Arthur, 188-9, Mary, 189; Peter, 188-9 Buckinghamshire, 15-16,22,24 Buda pest, 155 Busby, john, 20 Bushnell, Horace, 145

Baker, Elizabeth, 19,20, 24 banks and bankers, 17, 60,101; bankruptcy, 68, 101 Barford, Mirren, 185 Barton, H. Arnold, 44, 47, 49 Batstone, Stephanie, 186 Belgium, 152, 160 Bengal, 79, 80, 82, 87, 92 Bertie, Henry, 25 Bhabha, Homi, 89 Bhutan, 3, 79, 80, 85, 89, 92 Bianchi, Martha Dickinson, 140, 149 Bible, 125, 192 births, reported in letters, 18,20-1,47 Blake, William, 115 Blegen, Theodore, 39, 43-5

Calcutta, 79, 80-1, 83, 85, 92 Calvinism, 136-7, 143, 145 Cameron, Sharon, 138 Capitalism, 97, 99, 100, 106 Care, Thomas, 24 Caribbean, 59, 63, 86 carriages, 98 Carter, Leslie, 190 Cassatt, Mary, 121 Celan, Paul, 135 censorship, of letters, 4, 82, 152, 154-5, 157,171; self-censorship, 164, 188 Cheyne, William, 24 Chicago, 40 China, 80, 92 Des Chinoises, 123

226

Epistolary Selves

Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady, 2, 65, 120, 126 Clarissa, 116 Clasen, Isaac Gustaf, 95, 96,100-102 Clasen Family, 95-105 passim class, 86, 122, 124, 127; reflected in letters, 18-20,23, 153, 169, 170, 173; during the First World War, 157-76 passim; mentioned, 1,9,42, 72, 90, 96, 102 Claydon House, 16, 25 Clifford, Thomas, 63 Clive, Robert, 82 coffee-houses, 70, 72, 96 Coke Papers, 18 colonialism, 3, 86, 89,93, 123 commerce, see merchants Committees of Correspondence, 71-2 conduct books, 65-6 Confessions, 113 content analysis, 43 Conway, Alan, 44-5, 48 Cooch, Behar, 80 Cook, Elizabeth, 116-17, 120 corruption, 81-2,171-2 Coulmas, Florian, 114 Court Intrigues, 6 Cracow, 158 Crane, Hart, 135 credit and prices, 60-1, 66-8, 96-7, 102 Crevecoeur, Michael Guillaume Jean de, 8 crime, 4, 22, 169 Crusoe, Robinson, 79, 87 Culler, Jonathan, 135 Dalai Lama, 80 Daldowie, 80, 83-4, 86 Dalecarlia Province, 96 dancing, 98-9 Davis, Lennard, 119 Day, Robert Adams, 16 De Laurentis, Teresa, 62 death, discussed in letters: 17,21,47; in Dickinson's poetry, 136-47 passim Deb Raja, 87, 90 Deeble, Richard, 64 deference, 17, 104, 112 Defoe, Daniel, 79 Denmark, 43,127, 154 Dennys, Joyce, 184 Derrida, Jacques, 112-14, 120 diaries, 2, 46, 103, 118-19, 187 Dickinson, Emily, 7-8, 134-47 Dickinson Family, Austin, 139, 144;

Gilbert, 139, 144-6; Susan Gilbert, 139, 144, 146; Lavinia, 143; Ned, 144 Discourse on Inequality, 113 Ditz, Toby L., 2 Donath, Erich, 167 Donnelly, Daria, 7-8 Drinker, Henry, 67, 71-3 Dunkirk, 190 Dwight, Lucy, 143 Eagleton, Terry, 120-1, 126 East India Company, 79-82, 89, 92 l'ecriture feminine, 122-3 editors, 4, 48-9, 134 education, 115, 125 Egmont Papers, 18 Egypt, 1, 112, 114 El Alamein, 191 Eliot, George, 146 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 139, 141 emigration, 37, 44, 47 England, 3, 15-25 passim, 82, 183-93 passim, literacy levels in, 124-6 Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form, 135, 187 epistolary verse, 2, 134-48 passim Erasmus, Desiderius, 9 Erickson, Charlotte, 38, 43-4, 46-9 Essay on the Origins of Language, 113 essays, 8, 15 Essex, 20 Evelyn, Mrs. John, 1 Falun, 98 Familiar Letters on Important Occasions, 119 famine, see food shortages farmers, 17, 48, 60 fascicles, 134 fathers, 83, 188-9 Feldkirch, 155 feminism, 45, 119-24 Fitzpatrick, David, 48 food shortages, Calcutta famine, 80-1, during First World War, 156, 160-2, 169-71; during Second World War, 192 France, travel to or from, 16, 18,81,127, during wartime, 23, 153, 160, 184 Frau im Kriege, 156 French Revolution, 4 friendship, 69, 104 Furudal ironworks, 96, 98

Index Gahn, Henrica, 95, 107 Gahn, Maria, 95 Galicia, 158, 166 Galland, Antoine, 84 Gallop, jane, 121-4, 126-7 Gardiner, Cary, 17-22 gender roles, 8-9; reflected in wartime letters, 157, 160-2, 171-6 passim, 185, 189, 190; 'oficial', 156-7; altered by First World War, 161-2, 173-6; destabilised by letter-writing, 190-1 genealogy, 17 The Gentleman's Library, 19 George III, 92 Gerber, David, 3-4, 9 German-Austrian Republic, 175 Germany, 153-61 passim, 175, 185 The Gift, 101 Gilbert, Sandra, 122 Gilchrist, jenny, 89 Glasgow, 81, 85, 92 God in Christ, 145 Godwin, William, 111, 127 Goodman, Dena, 7, 8 Goody, Jack, 113-14 gossip, in letters, 3-4,17-18,22,47,49, 96, 186; of merchants, 68-9, 72; wartime rumours, 171, 172 Graf von Moltke, Helmut, 155 Grafton, Dot, 192 Green, E.R.R., 47 Grossman, Alan, 136 Guber, Susan, 122-3 Guillerages, Gabriel de Labergne de, 120 Guinea, 20 Habermas, Jurgen, 72, 116 Hamilton, Alexander, 87 Hammer, Hilda, see Scharf, Hilda Hammerle, Christa, 4, 8-9 Handlin, Oscar, 43 handwriting, see penmanship Hansen, Marcus Lee, 39, 43-5 Hapsburgh Monarchy, 153 Haran Albarassin, 83 Haran Alrasheid, 83 Harries, Margaret, 185 Harris, Roy, 115 Hartley, Jenny, 9 Harvey, Edward, 6-7 Hasselberg, Ylva, 4, 8 Hastings, Warren, 80, 83, 87, 92 Hatton Family Papers, 18

227

Havre, Le, 127 health, discussed in letters, 18,47,49,96, 104 Helbich, Wolfgang, 44, 46 Heloise, 116 Heroides, 1, 135 Higginson, Louisa, 141, 142 Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 138, 141-3, 146 Hill, john, 65 Hill, Rowland, 8 Histoire des Amours et lnfortunes d'Abelard et d'Eloise, 120 Holland, Elizabeth, 139, 143 Hollingsworth, Hilda, 188-9 Hopkinson, David and Thomas, 188 household, economy of, 97, 102 Howe, Susan, 138 Hungary, 152, 154 Husserl, Edmund, 113 Husvedt, Lloyd, 44, 46 identity, 60, 68, 90, 175; epistolary, 2-3, 79, 81-2, 192-3; clothing as a sign of, 90 illness, 17,21,23,92,172 immigrants, letters of, 3, 37-50 passim immigration, 3, 37-50 passim Imperial War Museum, 9, 184-5 India Office Library, 80 India, 79-93 passim, 124 ink, 22,191 intimacy, 70, 162, 164, 185 introspection, through letter-writing, 2, 6, 15,21, 118 Invisible Immigrants, 38 Irigary, Luce, 123 ironworks, 4, 96-9, 101 Isonzo,162 Italy, 152-4 Jackson, Helen Hunt, 143 James, Abel, 67, 71-2 Jammerbriefe, 157, 170-2, 175-6 Japan, 185, 187 Johnson, Celia, 184 Johnson, Thomas, 134, 136, 143 Kamphoefner, Walter, 44, 46 Kant; Immanuel, 113 Kermode, Frank, 121 Kettle, Tilly, 90-2 Kipling, Rudyard, 1 Kirby, Joan, 186, 189

228

Epistolary Selves

Kristeva, Julia, 123 Lacan, Jacques, 120 Laclos, Choderlos de, 7 Lang, Christl, 152, 158-75 Last, Nella, 187 Latin, 18, 125 lawyers, 60, 97 Leclerc, Annie, 121-3, 127 Leeds and Godolphin Papers, 18 LeN eve Papers, 18 letter collections, 38, 43, 45-6, 49, 81, 119 letter desks, 7 letters, diplomatic, 1, 7; as a genre, 1-2, 8, 21,69, 192; as social documents, 1-2, 41,43,105; 'self-fashioning' in, 2-3, 9, 59,62,63,65,79,81-2, 191-3; travel, 3, 8, 79-93 passim, 119; interpretative methodologies, 3, 37-50 passim, 61-3, 95-105 passim; simultaneously public and private, 3-4, 66-7,70,97-8,103,117; lost and stolen, 4-5, 22; publication of,S, 48, 69,72,119,155-6, 192; as conversations,S, 9, 19, 69, 84-5, 185; easy and familiar style, 5-6, 69, 83, 121; 'authenticity' of, 5-6, 37,46, 156, 183,185; erotics of, 6-7, 119-26 passim; read communally, 7, 83, 103, 162-3, 181; of consolation, 7-8, 136-45 passim, 189, 192; about other letters, 10,24,49, 85-6, 95, 157-62, 185-91 passim; stylistic conventions of, 18,20,24,35,47,65-8, 103-5, 107, 165; as a means of social control, 19, 23; maintain social relations, 20, 103; sustain family relations, 20, 25, 80, 84, 86,93,183,186-7; love, 22,119; as propaganda, 37, 155-6; send greetings, 47, 49, 104-5, 163; as literature, 47-8, 183, 187; reveal taste, 69,86; as 'signs of life', 84, 154, 159, 160, 161; Dickinson's views about, 135-7, 140, 143; narrative strategies of, 165-8 Letters from an American Farmer, 8 letter-writing, as a cultural practice, 2-3, 15; 'feminisation' of, 6-7; as a communal activity, 7, 103, 116, 118-19; conventions of, 8, 18-21, 101, 103-5,187-90; technology of, 10, 184; and identity, 17-18,21; obstacles to, 41, 160-2; culture in Sweden, 96, 101, 103-5

letter-writing manuals, 2, 16, 19,23,24, 65,119 Les Lettres Portugaises, 2, 120 Levant, 1, 16, 19,90 Levant Company, 16 Lewes, Jock, 185 Lhasa, 92 Les Liaisons Dangereuses, 2, 7 libraries, 65 Liebesgaben, 156 Lillo, George, 86 Lilly, Eliza beth, 21 Lindbom, Isaac, 101 linguistics, 114-15 literacy, in England, 16, 124-7; of immigrants, 37, 41, 48; illiteracy, 122, 124 Literary Theory, 121 Lobsang Palden Yeshe, 80. See also Panchen Lama. Locke, John, 19 London, 15, 17, 19, 82-3, 85,184 Lovelace, 126 Lovett, Mary, 20 Lowenthal, Cynthia, 90 Luttrell, Frances, 23 Lynn, Vera, 184 MacArther, Elizabeth, 2 Madwoman in the Attic, 122 magazines, 116, 119, 121, 156, 184, 188, 192; October, 121; Radio Times, 184 Mair, John, 66-9 Manley, Mary Delariviere, 5-6 . manners, 60, 87, 90; polite manners in letters, 15, 18-23,25 Markham, Clements, 80 marriages, discussed in letters, 18,41,95, 163 Marshall, David, 68 masculinity, 23, 71, 89-90; in wartime letters, 157, 175, 190-1 Mass Observation, 187 Mauger, Claudius, 16, 24 Maurier, Daphne de, 188 Mauss, Marcel, 101 McComb, John, 190 merchants, 16-17,79-86 passim, 97; in Philadelphia, 59-73 passim; letters of, 2-3, 59-73 passim Middlemarch,186 Mitchell Library, 80 money, discussed in letters, 18, 22, 41, 47, 49, 96. See also credit and prices

Index Montagu, Mary Wortley, 2, 90 Montgomery, Bernard Law, 184 morale in wartime, undermined by letters, 157, 175-6; improved by letters, 156, 183 Morrison, George, 190-1 mothers, letters of, 183-9 passim mourning, 136, 141-2, 145 Mulder, William, 44, 47 My Antonia, 47 nabobs, 82 New Poems by Emily Dickinson, 135 New Social History, 39,42,44-5,47 newspapers, 4, 70-1, 97; publish letters, 15-16,37, 72, 156; Athenian Mercury, 16; The Spectator, 119; during First World War, 159, 166, 171; Berliner Tagblatt, 166; Osterreichische Morgenzeitung, 166; Wiener Tagblatt, 166; The Times, 192; mentioned, 103, 116, 186 Nicholas, Jack, 20 Nicholas, Nancy, 21, 23, 24 Nicholson, Jenny, 186-7 Norcross, Francis and Louise, 139 Northanger Abbey, 6 Norway, 39,43, 127 La Nouvelle HelOise, 2 novels, history of, 7, 47,116,119; epistolary, 2, 5, 7, 15, 65, 69, 116, 118-19; mentioned, 61, 65,156 Oates, Joyce Carol, 17 Of Grammatology, 112, 114 Orientalism, 123 Ovid, 1, 135 Oxford Book of Letters, 121 Pachen Lama, 80, 90, 92, 93. See also Lobsang Palden Yeshe. Paglia, Camille, 13 7 Palmer, Ralph, 17, 19,21 Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, 2, 15, 119, 120,124 Pamela, 6, 116, 126 paper, 18,22,183 Parliament, in England, 22-4, 71, 125; in Austria, 170 Paston Family, 16 peasants, 96; letters of, 38-43 passim, 107; Polish, 38-43 passim pencils, 183 penmanship, 17-18, 35

229

pens, 85, 123-4, 183, 190 Perry, Ruth, 6, 8, 121 Person, Stow, 42 Petrarch,4 Phaedrus, 111-12, 114 Philadelphia, 2, 59-73 passim Plato, 111-12, 114 Pohland, Anna, 160-1, 167-8, 170 Pohland, Robert, 160-1, 167 Poland, 38-43 passim, 152, 158 Polish Peasant in Europe and America, 38-43 politicisation, revealed in letters, 169-72 Pontpensier, Mme de, 4 Pope Alexander,S, 89 Populism, 39, 44-6 Porter, David, 137 Portland Papers, 18 Positivism, 39, 40, 43 Post Boy Rob'd of his Mail,S postage, 8, 19,154; stamps; 18,22 postal addresses, 10, 152, 155, 158, 178 postal bans, 154, 158-60, 171 postal systems, 8-10, 37, 85; development of, 4-5, 23; volume of mail transported by, 10, 153-4, 183; during the First World War, 155-6, 158; Royal Mail, 183-5 postcards, 152-5, 159, 161, 176, 186 Pound, Ezra, 135 Powell, William, 100 prisoners of war, 185, 187 privacy and private life, 3-4, 7, 99, 100, 116, p8 Protestantism, 2,7,21,47,106,118. See also Calvinism Public Sphere, 71, 116, 127 Purangir Gosain, 87 Quintilianus, Marcus Fabius, 115 radio, 185 Rape of the Lock, 89 Rawlings, Eric, 192 reading, 7, 10,1.30; women reading, 6, 125; Dickinson's practices of, 140-1 refinement, 60 religion, 42, 44, 47, 136, 192. See also Calvinism and Protestantism Republicanism, 71 Revolution and the Form of the British Novel,119 Reynell, John, 64 Richardson, Hugh, 80

230

Epistolary Selves

Richardson, Samuel, 2, 15, 119, 120, 124, 126, 188 Richardson, William, 80 riots, 169-72 Robinson, Vee, 185 Rosewarne, Vivian, 192 Ross, Dorothy, 42 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 113-14, 126 Royal Mail, see postal systems Russia, 153-4 Said, Edward, 123 sailors, 70 St. Jerome, 9 St. Petersburg, 80 Scharf, Adolf, 161-2, 164-5 Scharf, Hilda, 161-2, 164 Scheherazade, 84 Schenck, Celeste, 147 Schikorsky, Isa, 165 Schroeder, Adolph, 44 Schudson, Michael, 127 Schulz-Geisberg, Carla, 44 Scotland, 3, 79-93 passim Le Secretaire a fa Mode and de la Cour, 18 sensibility,S, 69, 86 sentiment, 3, 79, 93 Sentimental Journey, 79 sentimentality, 137, 142, 145, 191 servants, letters to and from, 17, 20, 65, 132; in Vermeer's painting, 122-7; literacy of, 124-7, 130; during First World War, 159, 160, 169, 170; mentioned, 4, 5, 87 Sevigne, Mme de, 1 Shapiro, Michael, 64 shopkeepers, 60, 70 Shuckborough Family, 22 Shurr, William, 135 slaves, 20, 86 Smith, William, 63-4 sociability, 16, 98-9, 116 social capital, 101-2 social control, 19,23,41,113 social networks, 99-105, 163 sociology, 38-44 passim, 100 Sommer, Ulrike, 44, 46 Songs of Innocence, 115 Spacks, Patricia Meyer, 21, 69, 81-2 Spann, Gustav, 155 spelling, 18, 49 Spivak, Gayatri, 123-4 Spufford, Margaret, 125

Stall worthy, Jon, 135 Stand, Mark, 135 Stanhope, Mary, 18 stamps, see postage Steedman, Carolyn, 2, 7 Steele, Richard, 86 Stephenson, George, 39, 43-6 Sterne, Laurence, 11, 79, 83, 97 Stewart, John, 79 Stewart, Keith, 83 Stewkeley Family, Pen, 17; John, 18; Cary, 21; Kitty, 21-2 Stockholm, 95 Sturm, Margrit, 161 Suez Canal, 154, 184 Sumaria,1 Sweden,4,43,47,95-105,127 Tadmor, Naomi, 6 Tashicho Dzong, 85, 87 taverns, 70, 96 telegrams, 10, 154, 172 Teltscher, Kate, 3 Temple Family, 22; Richard, 20 Teshu Lama, see Pachen Lama Thamos,l12 theatre, 17 theatricality, 68-9, 90 Theel, Lotta, 95 Theuth, see Thoth Thomas, William I., 38-44, 49 Thomson, Charles, 71-2 Thoth,l12 Three Guineas, 184 Tibet, 3, 79, 80, 90 Tories, 22-4 Tourvel, Mme de, 7 translations, of letters, 49 Trumbull Papers, 18 Turkey, 90 Turkish Embassy Letters, 90 Turkish Spy, 65 Turner, Frederick Jackson, 43-4 Tyrol, South, 160, 168 Ukraine, 171 Ulster, 47 United States of America, 3, 37-50 passim, 85, 153 The Uprooted, 43 Valmont, Vicomte de, 7 Vaughan, Henry, 142-3 La Venue a I'ecriture, 121

Index Verdun, 160 Vermeer, Jan, 117, 121-2, 126-7 Verney Family, letters of, 15-25; Edmund, 16; Edmund ('Mun'), 16, 18,23,25; John, 8, 16-25; Margaret, 20; Ralph, 16-24 Verney Archive, 3, 15-17 Vienna, 8-9, 152-62 passim, 169-75 passim visits, 19,20,22,96, 98-9, 107, 163, 166 Voiture, Vincent, 16 Vygotsky, L.S., 114 Wales, 48, 185, 189 War, American Civil War, 5, 47, 141; English Civil War, 16,20, AustroPrussian War of 1866, 155; FrancoPruss ian War of 1870-1, 155 First World War, letters from, 2, 8-9, 152-76 passim; women's politicisation during, 170-2; women blamed for Central Powers' defeat in, 175-6; working-class women during, 160-70 passim. See also gender roles. Second World War, letters from, 8-9, 183-93 Warner, Michael, 72 Warrell, Charles, 186 Warwick,127

231

Watson, Nicola, 119-20 Weber, Max, 99 Wentworth Family Papers, 18 Whipple, Dorothy, 192 Whyman, Susan, 2, 5, 8 Williams, Hugh and Hugo, 188 Wolf, Christl, see Lang, Christl Wolf, Hanns, 158, 163 Wolf, Leopold, 152-3, 158-75 passim Wolff, Cynthia, 143 Wollstonecraft, Mary, 111, 127 Wolosky, Shira, 143 women, 45, 90, 96, 118, 156; writing letters, 6-9, 20-2,116-27 passim; 152-76 passim, 183-93 passim; writing (in general), 9, 37, 125; peasant, 42-3; in India, 83, 124; Women, Letters and the Novel, 121 Woolf, Virginia, 184, 192 writing, 6, 192; mythic origins of, 111-13; histories of, 114-16, sexualisation of, 120-3 Writing and Sexual Difference, 121 Young Secretary's Guide, 65 Ypres, 160

Zaretsky, Eli, 42 Zempel, Solveig, 44 Zloczow, 166 Znaniecki, Florian, 38-41, 43, 49