1904-1905

(This is a fragment of a work-in-progress: a day-by-day reconstruction of communication developments in 1904-1905 taken from contemporary sources. A pdf version is available here.)

Fragment – January 1904

January 1904

Looking for the beginning of time: our time, the time that contains the changes we use for communication and charm. Much later this Friday (1.I.1904) is chosen as an arbitrary first day of a modern period: day zero, followed by a curation of the subsequent days. Hard-, soft- and human-ware endures from the long stretch before and moves into the days after that beginning. Echoes rasp and rattle down the newly communicated era.

The Hierarchical File System Plus (HFS+) stores date and time as a 32-bit integer containing the number of seconds since January 1, 1904 at 00:00:00 (midnight) UTC (GMT), not local time like HFS. The maximum representable date is February 6, 2040 at 06:28:15 UTC (GMT).

The beginning of digital time: each second followed by another.

***

Time for football on the next day (2.I.1904), but this is a time before there was nil, and Canning-town had a hyphen. News printed in The Times is differentiated between short telegraphic reports and longer ruminations. Sport gets one line: just the basics, even for a needle match.

Millwall beat West Ham United, at Canning-town, by one goal to none.

No time for the fury and fervour, a binary score, move on to new ground. This is the last football derby at the Memorial Grounds in Canning Town, a match in the Southern Football League, the twenty-second between the two rival teams. West Ham soon moves to the Boleyn Ground in Upton Park, where they stay until moving back near Canning Town in 2015 to the stadium built for the 2012 Olympics.

***

It’s Sunday in the southern hemisphere (3.I.1904), and the S.M.S. Condor leaves Pohnpei, due to arrive in Chuuk two days later. This German battle cruiser, previously stationed in German East Africa and South Africa, cruises to and fro between various outposts of the German protectorate in the South Pacific. It carries mail – military and civil communication combined in one package – and has its own cancellation stamp: Kais. Deutsche Marineschiffpost No 60.

In 1904 and 1905 it takes a route to Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, Guam, Saipan, Pohnpei, Herbertshöhe, Friedrich-Wilhelmshafen, Apia, Suva, Jaluit, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Guam, Yap, Palau, Hermit Islands, Herbertshöhe/Admiralty Islands, Friedrich-Wilhelmshafen, Stephansort, Finschhafen, Herbertshöhe, Buka, Bougainville, Sydney, Apia, Honolulu, Apia, Suva, Jaluit, and back to Pohnpei. It spends some time in German Samoa where it helps to suppress the Oloa movement.

The need to determine a timetable, a regularisation of transport and communication schedules, is amended by weather conditions, tidal movements and political necessity.

***

The start of a new week in Washington (4.I.1904) sees William Howard Taft nominated by President Theodore Roosevelt as United States Secretary of War. He had been ruler of the Philippines from 1900 to 1904 under The Second Philippine Commission: the “Taft Commission”. In 1908 Taft will succeed Roosevelt and become the 27th President of the United States.

I nominate William H. Taft, of Ohio, to be Secretary of War, to take effect February 4, 1904, vice Elihu Root, resigned.

One month’s notice, dated, given origin, purpose: authority vested in a name and office.

***

In West Africa a notice (5.I.1904) designates Old Calabar as a Port of Registry for British Shipping. As Duke Town it had been used by ships from Bristol and Liverpool as a centre for the British trade in Igbo slaves.

Privy Council Office, January 5, 1904.

MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT, 1894.

Notice is hereby given that, after the expiration of forty days from the date hereof, it is proposed to submit to His Majesty in Council, in pursuance of the 88th section of the abovementioned Act, the draft of an Order in Council declaring Old Calabar, in the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, a Port of Registry for British Shipping. And notice is hereby further given that, in accordance with the provisions of the Rules Publication Act, 1893, copies of the proposed draft Order in Council can be obtained by any public body, within forty days of the date of this notice, at the Privy Council Office, Whitehall.

In 1916 nearby Port Harcourt gets a better railway connection and Old Calabar’s importance wanes. It is now known as Akwa Akpa.

Registering responsibility far from home provides a nuance in the vested interests of owners and associates. Trade is moved off-shore. Accountabilities are tropicalized, bound in more exotic succulents.

***

Men, women, children are going places; expanded communication on water and on land brings increases in death and injury. Detail is a staple of the news business, and potential for controversy about cause and responsibility may keep a story alive. Midweek (6.I.1904) in the Midwest and it’s worth checking for the names of well-known men on the list of the dead, but the others, women and children, are of little account.

TWENTY ARE DEAD
Wreck on the Rock Island Increases In Horror.

FORTY PEOPLE BADLY HURT.
Passenger Train Going at a Rapid Rate Crashes Head On Into a Freight–
Wounded and Dead Taken to Topeka.

TOPEKA, Kan., Jan 6. — Twenty passengers aboard Rock Island westbound train No. 3, for California from Chicago, were killed five miles west of Topeka, near Willard, early this morning in a head-end collision of the passenger and a heavy Stock train. Thirty passengers were injured badly enough to require medical attendance, and six of these may have fatal injuries.

ORDERS MISUNDERSTOOD.
A misunderstanding of orders was the cause of the disaster, J. C. Nagle, the passenger conductor, says his train had the right of way and should have passed the stock train on a siding at Maple Hill, six miles from the scene of the wreck. On the other hand, it is said that the trains should have passed at Willard. Ten of the dead have been identified. The others are women and children.

Many a misunderstanding ends in death and injury and news will later shift to focus on those perceived as weaker.

***

Thursday’s photograph (7.I.1904) shows Jack London on board the S.S. Siberia, bound for the Russo-Japanese War in the pay of Hearst newspapers. Jack turns 28 during the voyage and arrives in Tokyo on 25th January. With him (working for Collier’s Weekly) are writer Frederick Palmer and photographers James H. Hare and Robert L. Dunn, and Captain Lionel James commissioned by the London Times. Willard Straight of Reuters is on board too, and a British journalist Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett. Some eleven years later, when Ashmead-Bartlett tries to alert the British establishment of the disaster unfolding in Gallipoli, he is supported by a young Australian journalist, Keith Murdoch (later Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch and father of Rupert). Dynasties of newspapermen thread together through the decades.

The S.S.Siberia is owned by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and can carry 300 first class passengers. Capable of a speed of 20 knots, she was built by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., launched October 19, 1901; maiden voyage March 11, 1903; scrapped 1934. Hull: length 552′; beam 63′; 11,284 tons. Power: quadruple expansion engines by builder, with cylinders of 35″, 50″, 70″, and 100″ diameter, stroke 66″, 6 double-ended and 2 single-ended boilers; steam pressure 180 lbs.; bunker capacity 2,976 tons.

Engineers keep records of executed plans, and details of their successes. Others report on the messier humanities and tell of fear, failure and fiasco.

***

Since 1880, Science magazine developed an authority it is not shy of flaunting. When science-minded people predict new epochs of invention and innovation, others are already considering how this changes power, politics and the possibilities of profit.

The newspapers of December 18 contained the announcement that Wilbur Wright had flown a distance of three miles with an aeroplane propelled by a 16-horse power, four-cylinder, gasoline motor, the whole weighing more than 700 pounds. To the average newspaper reader this meant no more than similar statements previously made in newspapers that men had flown in New York, or St. Louis, or San Francisco. But to the student of aeronautics, and particularly to those who had followed the careful scientific experiments with aeroplanes which were being made by Orville and Wilbur Wright, it meant an epoch in the progress of invention and achievement, perhaps as great as that when Stevenson first drove a locomotive along a railroad.

Science (8.I.1904) can see that change is in the air.

The Marconi International Marine Communication Company,Limited, at 18, Finch Lane, London, E.C., issues Circular No. 57 (9.I.1904) announces that ships in distress should now send CQD as a Morse message ( – · – · – – · – – · ·).
It has been brought to our notice that the call “C.Q.” (All Stations), while being satisfactory for general purposes, does not sufficiently express the urgency required in a signal of distress.
Therefore, on and after the 1st February, 1904, the call to be given by ships in distress or in any way requiring assistance shall be “C.Q.D.”
This signal must on no account be used except by order of the Captain of the ship in distress, or other vessels or stations retransmitting the signal on account of the ship in distress.
All stations must recognise the urgency of this call and make every effort to establish satisfactory communication with the least possible delay.
Any misuse of the call will result in the instant dismissal of the person improperly employing it.
It is a wise preparation for emergencies to come: unique fists will tip-tap and trace alarms and acclamations on a multitude of keys, bugs and paddles.

***

After church parade on Sunday (10.I.1904) forces of Sayyīd Muhammad `Abd Allāh al-Hasan (Sayyid to Somalis and The Mad Mullah to the British) are defeated at Jidballi by troops gathered by General Charles Egerton at Bacaadweeyn (Badweyn) on the previous day. The British and their allies from Hobyo pursue Hassan during the remainder of January and February. The Dervishes are demonised. More than a thousand are killed in the battle: British losses are slight but are reported as significant.

A later dispatch from Gen. Egerton says that one officer, Cpt. the Hon. Thomas Lister, is missing. Capt. Lister is Lord Ribblesdale’s son and heir.

Thomas Lister, who served with the Tenth Hussars, is later confirmed to have died of shot and spear wounds. His younger brother Charles Alfred Lister will die on 28th August 1915 from wounds received at Gallipoli. With both sons no longer alive to succeed, the barony becomes extinct on the death of their father in October 1925.

Sixteen years later, in January and February 1920, this war is won from the air, after RAF bombers based at Berbera attack Medistie, Jideli and the Dervish capital of Taleh. The raid by twelve Airco DH.9A aircraft is authorised by Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State of War. At the Cairo Conference in March 1921, Churchill, now Colonial Secretary, supports the military decision to put all British forces in Iraq under control of the RAF. Air power will dog Churchill in future decades and Iraq into the next century. From horseback to bomb rack, political and religious leaders create havoc, north, south, east and west of the Horn of Africa.

***

On the other side of Africa, letters dated on this Monday (11.I.1904) are received by the authorities in German South-West Africa. They are said to be written by Samuel Maharero and form the justification for war. They cause panic. Okahandja District Chief, Lieutenant Ralf Zürn, lays foundations for massacres to come.

Later in 1904, von Trotha’s Vernichtungsbefehl seals the Herero’s fate.
Ouami Omuhona omunene ongenerala jo vadeutschi. Metumuembo indi kovaherero ene mbumuri ovaherero kamutjiri mo vandeotji muavaka nu muazepa nu muazepa ozondja nezovavapa mua konda omatui no majuru nu nambano muato umumandu nu Kamunokurua Ami mutja kuene ko vaherero kuene kovahona ngua kambura omuhona umue na eta masninu ovi pona 50 vindano nutjinene ingui ngua eta vimiuhona Samuel Maharero mapeva ovi pondo omasere jevari nomi rongo 50 ene vaherero nambano ehi etheje orovandoitji nu tjimuhmo kuvanga okutjita otji otji naihi ami meverura kizjatjinene nondjembo onene omundu mehi ro vandoitji matu no ndjembo hino ku kambura ovakazendu no vavere korukuao meve rambere kovahona vao poo meve zepa nondjembo. Ono mambo vandje komuhoko uovaherero. Omuhona omunene ongenerala jomukesere.
Trotha.
I am the great General of the Germans. I am sending a word to you Hereros, you who are Hereros are no longer under the Germans. You have stolen, killed and owe white people. You have cut ears and noses, but now out of cowardice say you will not fight. I am saying to you Herero, you who are great, anyone who catches and brings a chief will be paid 50 pounds, especially chief Samuel Maharero shall get 250 pounds. You Hereros must now leave this land it belongs to the Germans. If you do not do this I shall remove you with the big gun. A person in German land shall be killed by the gun. I shall not catch women and the sick but I will chase men after their chiefs or I will kill them with the gun. These are my words to the Herero nation.
The Great General of the Kaiser
Trotha.
Correspondence becomes justification; authenticity; timing; leaks; all weave a tapestry of deceit that leads to warfare and cruelty. Each new medium offers enticing possibilities for duplicity and death.

***

Chasing records rather than men, on Tuesday (12.I.1904) Henry Ford drives at 91.37 mph on the frozen surface of Michigan’s Lake St. Clair in one or other of the only two Ford 999 racers ever made. In these days some speed records don’t last long. Less than a month later, on January 26th, Fred Marriott goes 127.66mph in a steam-powered Stanley Steamer Rocket.

The new century speaks and sings to the language of speed as borders and barriers are passed. The communicators love the spur to competition that sells papers, spreads broadcasted images and focuses on rare rather than regular achievement.

***

Gunshots ring out on Wednesday (13.I.1904): The Dallas County Clerk records bare details of the death of 21 year old Maggie Porter.

No. 641
Name: Maggie PORTER
Race: Colored
Nativity: American
Sex: Female
Age: 21
Residence: 353 Worth St., Dallas
Place of Death: Dallas
Date of Death: 13 Jan 1904; 8 p. m.
Alien or Citizen: Citizen
Cause of Death: Gunshot
Name/Residence of Physician/Coroner: W. M. Edwards, J. P., Prect. #1, Dallas Co. acting coroner, Dallas

No mention of who shot Maggie Porter on the day the new clock passes 1 million seconds.

***

In Australia another legal system is sorting out the bodies on the bench not corpses in the morgue.
Correcting a published announcement with a personal letter (14.I.1904) is easier from the Judges Chambers in Hobart. R. Inglis Clark writes to the Attorney General.

I observe in today’s Gazette a notice signed by you that “on the recommendation of their Honours the Judges” the Governor had been pleased to appoint John Warren Dodds Esquire to the position of Judges’ Associate.
I desire to advise you that I have not made any such recommendation in the matter.
Some believe all that is published; others can correct errors, and are in regular correspondence. Both credibility and prestige are entailed in each communication.

***

Letters play a part in both established and non-established power. Lenin’s sisters Anna and Maria, his brother Dmitry and the Dmitry’s wife were arrested on the night of January 1 1904 in connection with a case against the Central Committee and the Kiev Committee of the Party. Two weeks later (15.I.1904), Lenin’s wife replies to Lenin’s mother, M. A. Ulyanova, at Laboratornaya, 12, Apt. 4, Kiev

Dear Maria Alexandrovna,

Your letter came as a great shock to us—and it is so sad. I can only hope they will soon be released. We have heard that there have been wholesale house searches and arrests in Kiev. During such raids many people are caught in the dragnet. Judging by the fact that they have arrested all of them, the case will be a trivial one. I don’t know what conditions in the Kiev lockups are like now – they used to be bearable. Have they allowed you to see anyone? I have asked an acquaintance of mine to visit you. Since you moved to Kiev so recently, I am afraid you have not got any acquaintances there, the city is a big one and you are strange to it. It’s a great pity that I have lost the address of a friend of Anyuta’s and cannot write to her. I shall await your letter anxiously. Perhaps it will bring pleasanter news.

We are not living too well in Geneva; Mother is often poorly. We feel unsettled somehow and the work goes badly.

Can you send books and things to the people in prison? Have you had any letters from them? Does Mark Timofeyevich intend taking a holiday and visiting you? Mother is sorry she is not in Russia with you. Wishing you health and strength.

Yours,
Nadya

***

It’s important to send books and things, but not all revolutionaries may be so lucky. Rosa Luxemburg is sentenced to prison (16.I.1904) by the Amtsgericht in Zwickau for Majestätsbeleidigung.

“Wer den Kaiser, seinen Landesherrn oder während seines Aufenthalts in einem Bundesstaate dessen Landesherrn beleidigt, wird mit Gefängnis nicht unter zwei Monaten oder mit Festungshaft von zwei Monaten bis zu fünf Jahren bestraft.
Neben der Gefängnisstrafe kann auf Verlust der bekleideteten öffentlichen Ämter (sowie der aus öffentlichen Wahlen hervorgegangenen Rechte) erkannt werden.”
For Rosa it’s a beginning: a lesson that dissing the Kaiser, the King or the Tsar isn’t a good idea if you want to stay out of trouble. Varying protections against insult or defamation, according to rank, remedies and retribution are not a reflection of the maliciousness or harm of what is said or written, but are part of the power over the message reinforced by law, power or custom.

***
Back in Moscow (17.I.1904) the world premiere of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard directed by Konstantin Stanislavski is performed at the Moscow Art Theatre. The stage is empty; there is the noise of carriages going away, and the steady sound of chopping.
FIERS. It’s locked. They’ve gone away. [Sits on a sofa] They’ve forgotten about me. . . . Never mind, I’ll sit here. . . . And Leonid Andreyevitch will have gone in a light overcoat instead of putting on his fur coat. . . . [Sighs anxiously] I didn’t see. . . . Oh, these young people! [Mumbles something that cannot be understood] Life’s gone on as if I’d never lived. [Lying down] I’ll lie down. . . . You’ve no strength left in you, nothing left at all. . . Oh, you . . . bungler!
Фирс (подходит к двери, трогает за ручку). Заперто. Уехали… (Садится на диван.)Про меня забыли… Ничего… я тут посижу… А Леонид Андреич, небось, шубы не надел, в пальто поехал… (Озабоченно вздыхает.) Я-то не поглядел… Молодо-зелено! (Бормочет что-то, чего понять нельзя.) Жизнь-то прошла, словно и не жил… (Ложится.) Я полежу… Силушки-то у тебя нету, ничего не осталось, ничего… Эх ты… недотёпа!.. (Лежит неподвижно.)
He lies without moving. The distant sound is heard, as if from the sky, of a breaking string, dying away sadly. Silence follows it, and only the sound is heard, some way away in the orchard, of the axe falling on the trees.
A confirmation, an affirmation of the change the audience expects.

Across Europe another common thread belies folkloric friendliness, even the welcome of Céad Míle Fáilte. Father John Creagh, Redemptionist priest, had given his first anti-semitic sermon in Limerick one week earlier, but today’s sermon (18.I.1904) gets wider attention and the text is published in local papers the next day.
Let the members of the Confraternity investigate Jewish dealings for themselves, and then if they find what I have said is true, then I appeal to you not to prove false to Ireland, false to your country, and false to your religion, by continuing to deal with the Jews. If the Jews are allowed to go on as they have been doing in a short time we will be their absolute slaves, and slavery to them is worse than slavery to which Cromwell condemned the poor Irish who were shipped to the Barbadoes.
There is a boycott of Jewish business, fear of violence like that already suffered in Lithuania. Jews leave Limerick, many settling in Cork. The big ideas are tried in small and distant places, encourage some to hone antagonism, form a tableau of intolerance.

***

The Yale Daily News (19.I.1904) gives students a core educational message: form communicates content. The rag is clear: better presentation is the key to better grades, get what you want from the typewritten form.

The News Guarantees a 10% Higher Stand on all Essays

TYPEWRITING COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS

As a Public Benefactor the News announces the services of an Experienced Stenographer
Office Hours 9.30 a m 4.30 p m

***

Technologies interpret and imply value: new and neat. Away from the ivy-covered halls, in many a metropolis, ways to transmit and package offer opportunity and cause concern. Mechanical changes prompt the Wall Street Journal (20.I.1904) to talk of saddle-stitching for the first time. The Westminster Gazette marvels at the rapidity with which the words spoken by Mr. Chamberlain in the Guildhall were electrophoned to Langham-place. In Brussels the music masters of Orphéon and Grande Harmonie see gains in tightening the intellectual property laws in Brussels.
MM. Gaignaux et Lagasse, respectivement président de la Société royale l’Orphéon et vice-président de la Grande Harmonie, â Bruxelles, au nom de la Fédération des sociétés de l’agglomération bruxelloise, émettent le vœu de voir réviser la loi sur le droit d’auteur dans un sens plus équitable et de manière à mettre un terme aux abus qui se produisent.
By the time two world wars come and go, Grande Harmonie becomes mostly a fencing club. Arguments of plagiarism and piracy may yet be settled with thrusting and slashing blades.

***

On another Thursday (21.I.1904), a little more than a year before the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden, King Oscar II establishes Den Norske Løve (Order of the Norwegian Lion). He awards it to himself, Crown Prince Gustav of Sweden and Norway, Prince Carl of Sweden and Norway, Prince Eugen of Sweden and Norway, Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden and Norway, Prince Vilhelm of Sweden and Norway, and Prince Erikk of Sweden and Norway. Later in 1904 it is also awarded to Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and Hungary, King Christian IX of Denmark, and President Émile Loubet of France. Gongs and gewgaws are for a small group: keeping it (mostly) in the family.
No Norwegian Knights are appointed before the dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway, and King Haakon VII appoints no new knights. On 11th March 1952 the order is repealed, probably.

King Haakon VII repealed the Order of the Norwegian Lion in a Court resolution on 11 March 1952. The order’s statutes were included in the Norwegian government yearbook until 1951, and the absence of the statutes in subsequent editions of the yearbook was the only indication that the order had ceased to exist.

At the other end of Europe, two Civil Agents arrive in Macedonia to work on the reorganization plan. The Austro-Hungarian Civil Agent, Heinrich Muller Roghoj, had earlier been assigned to Bosnia and speaks Turkish, Serbo-Croatian, Bulgarian, and Russian. The Russian Civil Agent is N. Demerik who had earlier been the consul to Beirut and Monastir. At first, Demerik and Muller are restricted to Salonika and cannot intervene “on the field”. They are under the command of an Italian general, Emilio Degiorgis, who is himself under the command of Sultan Abdul Hamid.

***

Things are more orderly in the French Empire, where as part of the securing title on property in Madagascar, there is publication (22.I.1904) of Réquisition No. 2061 T.

Suivant réquisition du 22 janvier 1904, à la requête de M. le Gouverneur General de Madagascar et Dépendances à Tananarive, bureaux du Secrétariat General, poursuites et diligence de M. Loussert, chef du service des domaines, à Tananarive, où il fait élection de domicile, en ses bureaux, avenue La Bourdonnais, le soussigné A. Lota, receveur des domaines, agissant au nom de l’Etat français, domicilié à Tamatave, en ses bureaux, rue de la Batterie, a demandé l’immatriculation, en qualité de propriétaire, d’une propriété à laquelle il a déclaré vouloir donner le nom de : Antsampanimahazo IV, consistant en un terrain sur lequel se trouvent une maison principale et dépendances, situé à Maroantsetra-ville.
Cette propriété, occupant une superficie de deux ares soixante-dix-sept centiares environ, est limitée :
Au Nord, par la grande avenue;
A l’Est, par la concession No. 21 à M. Aubin ;
Au Sud, par la propriété dite : Brixtou, réquisition No. 861 T;
A l‘Ouest, par un terrain concédé à la nommée Ramanana.
Le requérant déclare qu’à sa connaissance il n’existe, sur la dite propriété, aucune charge ni aucun droit réel immobilier actuel ou éventuel, autres que ceux résultant d’un titre d’occupation provisoire, à titre onéreux, délivré à la nommée Nenindraivo, le 6 février 1901 ; l’Etat est propriétaire de la dite propriété en vertu de l’article 91 du Code malgache et des articles 539 et 713 du Code civil, les constructions ont été faites par la concessionnaire.
Le Sous-Conservateur de la propriétaire foncière à Tamatave,
A. Lota
Amidst the administrative and legally necessary detail, the name Antsampanimahazo IV is chosen or given to the property. A careless action or one with personal or customary meaning; either way it signifies ownership and transferability.

***

At the edges of Empire and at the centres, order, luxury and imagination mesh and grate with each official stack of words. A special cable to The New York Times from Berlin (23.I.1904) links luxury and literary work.

German Officers’ Luxury, Kaiser Trying to Curtail It – Also Limits Officers’ Literary Activity

Emperor William is making efforts to curtail the luxury of army officers. In a recent address he said that Prussian soldiers had done their best work when they were hungry.

His Majesty has also issued a Cabinet order limiting the literary work of active and retired officers. He declares that he does not wish officers to play with pen and ink.

The communication of power in speech and published edict is not to be diluted by scribbling subalterns and major’s memoirs.

***

Both in and away from their own Kingdom and Empire eccentric Englishmen thrive, here fêted by Le Petit Journal (24.I.1904). They have guts, get back to work, and show the puma what for.

Drame sanglant dans une ménagerie
La Goulue et son mari aux prises avec un puma

Vous connaissez, sans doute, l’histoire de cet Anglais flegmatique et narquois, mais amateur d’émotions violantes, qui, durant des jours, des mois des années même, suivit un dompteur de ville en ville, avec l’espoir de le voir dévorer par ses bêtes. Ce farouche insulaire eût, à coup sûr, éprouvé une fausse joie l’autre soir s’il se fût trouvé à la ménagerie tenue par l’ancienne danseuse réaliste La Goulue et son mari, le dompteur Joseph Droxler, dit José. José, il y a quelques jours, vit la mort de près: un puma furieux s’était jeté sur lui, le renversant et lui labourant de ses griffes le visage, les cuisses et les bras. Mais, en digne épouse et en courageuse belluaire, la vaillante Goulue veillait. Sans hésiter, elle pénétra dans la cage et parvint à détourner sur elle la rage du fauve. Les employés de la ménagerie eurent ainsi le temps d’arriver et, l’un d’eux, armé du revolver que lui passa un agent de service, abattit la bête, tandis que la foule se retirait sans panique, douloureusement impressionnée par cette scène sanglante. Le dompteur José, sérieusement blessé à la gorge et au bras, devra subir un repos forcé d’un mois; mais la Goulue, quoique atteinte au poignet par la griffe du fauve, a repris dès le lendemain le cour de ses périlleux exercices. Son mari, qui, nous l’espérons, sera vite rétabli de ses blessures, doit la vie à sa vaillante compagne.

The weapon is passed to an animal keeper, who is perhaps braver or a better shot.

***

In his Copenhagen diary (25.I.1904), His Excellency, another Englishman abroad, wonders about his less than sanguine nature. Chats and diaries give a domestic turn to global possibilities.

Long visit from Islovsky – who again deplored Anglo-Japanese Alliance – and attitude of English Press. He said that a Free Press was a clumsy weapon but a controlled Press a clumsier weapon still. He also deplored this business just coming on now – when Anglo-Russian relations had been on the point of a real improvement. Now what with the Jap imbroglio – Thibetan business etc. relations were certainly not good – and that was a very bad look out for the spring – when the Macedonian question might and probably would break out again. That was where good relations between England and Russia would be useful. (Was that the reason for their approaching us so sweetly last year?) I asked him why they should be upset by our move in Thibet: and he said hesitatingly – ‘Well it may force us to take measures there for which the time is not quite ripe.’

Inter alia he said that he had always been in favour – and had worked to that end – of giving Japan an entirely free hand in Korea.

Scandinavian Neutrality – Martens’ Article in the Revue de deux Mondes not inspired by Russian F.O. Lamsdorff had written and told him so. Must read up this question. Islovsky sanguine about peace – but I am not.

While Edward Goschen scribbles in Denmark, Ålesund up the Norway coast suffers a great fire. The German Kaiser is moved to send immediate relief and significant funds towards the rebuilding. An Art Nouveau town emerges on the Norway coast; between 1904 and 1907 600 new houses were built, 300 of them in Art Nouveau style. About 50 Norwegian architects were involved, half of them under 35 year old.

In the town park Wilhelm has a memorial to this rising from ashes, a theme for the future of the empires; all empires.

***

A public notice (26.I.1904) that the safety of the public requires speed limits and decisive action by borough councils, prompts a slowdown in Blackpool

MOTOR CAR ACT, 1903.
Borough of Blackpool.
WHEREAS by sub-section (1) of section 9 (1) of the Motor Car Act, 1903, it is enacted that within any limits or place referred to in regulations made by the Local Government Board with a view to the safety of the public, on the application of the local authority of the area in which the limits or place are situate, a person shall not drive a motor car at a speed exceeding ten miles per hour:
Notice is hereby given that the Council of the borough of Blackpool have made application to the Local Government Board for a regulation to be made in pursuance of the said sub-section putting the above-mentioned provisions of that subsection in force in the whole of the borough of Blackpool.
Notice is hereby further given that objections to the making of any such regulation may be sent in writing to the Local Government Board at their office at Whitehall, London, on or before the thirteenth day of February, 1904.
A copy of any such objection should be sent at the same time by the objector to the Council of the said borough, addressed to the Town Clerk, Blackpool.
Dated this twenty-third day of January, 1904.
John Lithily, Assistant Secretary, Local Government Board.
The “whole of the borough of Blackpool” circumscribes an area where the limits are established, written notice is given in designated publications, signs erected, enforcement tools developed and order maintained.

***

Unlike the tightly worded notices of bumptious boroughs, books are here to shake us, Kafka writes to Oskar Pollack (27.I.1904). Reading others is more affecting than writing and self-satisfaction.

Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book does not shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.”
Just as happy if they had no books at all, those banished to the woods may cut down the forest. Frozen seas eventually need no axes but turn to slush and suicide. In the wastes to be created, many will be banished, felled, defeated by icy cold.

***

Perhaps it’s all the same for both the heartless and the passionate. Shortly after signing his contract with Victor Records (28.I.1904) Enrico Caruso’s first recording for the company is Questa o quella per me pari sono from Verdi’s Rigoletto.

Questa o quella per me pari sono
a quant’ altre d’ intorno mi vedo,
del mio core l’impero non cedo
meglio ad una che ad altre belta.

La costoro avvenenza è qual dono
di che il fato ne infiora la vita
s’ oggi questa mi torna gradita
forse un’ altra doman lo sarà.

La costanza tiranna delcore
detestiamo qual morbo crudele,
sol chi vuole si serbi fedele;
Non v’è amor se non v’è libertà.

De’ i mariti il geloso furore,
degli amanti le smanie derido,
anco d’ Argo i cent’occhi disfido
se mi punge una qualche beltà.

***

No value to constancy. No love without freedom. Love songs send messages throughout the current era. Different passions may be aroused as editors at the Amador Ledger (29.I.1904) urge citizens to action, get them planning the road trips of the future.

GOOD ROADS
To the rural inhabitant, especially, and the urbanite generally, the foregoing headline is of more than passing interest. While it is not especially intended to mean that this is the proper cognomen of the thoroughfares with which our county is blessed, it is simply a hint as to what might be. While we, of the county, are possibly doing all in our power to bring about such a desirable state of affairs, without the assistance of outside aid, there now appears a chance for the national government to not only become interested in the improvement of Amador county’s, or even California’s roads, but those of the entire commonwealth. At least it will have the opportunity to become interested, and no little responsibility as to whether it does or not rests with the people themselves. The federal government takes care of its rivers and harbors, protects its manufactures, helps to build cities, but has never come to consider the interest of the man who supplies all these enterprises with the actual necessities of life — the farmer — to the extent of improving his facilities for marketing his produce. However, at this session of congress Messrs. Brownlow of Tennessee, and Gallinger of New Hampshire, have introduced in the house and senate respectively, a bill which has for its object the alleviation of the bad road difficulty. The text of the bill provides that, along with the others, congress appropriate for the use of road improvements the sum of $24,000,000, available in instalments of $8,000,000 a year for the years 1904-5-6; that the amount be apportioned to each. state according to population, provided that no state receive less than a minimum of $250,000, and that in order for any state, for county in same, to receive its share of this money, a like amount be raised for the purpose, where it is to be used. In New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania the state legislatures have provided a law for state aid for roads on something of the same principle as the foregoing, and the results have been far-reaching and beneficial, and there is no doubt such a move on the part of the national government would not only prove a blessing, but is a matter of justice and humanity to those who contribute more to the prosperity and stability of the nation than – any other class – the tillers of the soil. If you are interested in this matter write your congressman to vote and work for the passage of the bill.

Write to your congressman about the roads, but keep an eye on the skies, and even consider looking down from above.

***

Over two decades Eduard Spelterini showed the view from above with photographs taken from balloons. The pseudonymous photographer took pictures from balloons in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Russia, Bulgaria, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa. A new dimension is added to the landscape. He appeared at more 600 events across the world from Stockholm to Cape Town: two decades of talks in four languages and projections of photographs from the air. A caption (30.I.1904) gives the photograph leave to speak its own language.

El-Ashraf Mosque, Cairo, from an altitude of around 800 metres. 30 January 1904

The mosque was built in the fifteenth century with funds the sultan had obtained from the nationalisation of the spice trade. At the time of the photograph trade through Egypt via the Suez Canal is outside of Egyptian control.

***

January 1904: a month of contrast and connection looked back on soon after by C. P. Cavafy. He writes of recreating moments; hearing last words and hearing first; trees, streets, houses, light and much more that is erased and lost.

Off to a new month.