Presentation by DvZ
Napoleon's Diaries – which is the genuine one? These were dictated by N in final exile on St Helena to four followers (Bertrand, Gourgaut, Las Cases and Montholon) who had accompanied him into exile, then drafts corrected by N. – done as response to articles, reviews &c (e.g. one by Jomini on his conduct of Italian campaign of 1797) appearing about him which he wished to rebut – no access to his papers (back in France) – some access to books owned by officers in garrison. Vol 1 Court of 1st Empire – divorce of Josephine – Vol 2 44 'notes' – Vol 3 military history of Louis XIV's Marshal Turenne. Followers quit St H within 3 years (each publishes claiming his version the genuine one) – why didn't he write his own? – strictness of regime imposed governor Hudson Lowe. Impression that these written as "swatting flies" rather than self-justification – concentration on military matters – (virtually?) none on civil.
Presentation by MO
Edward Gibbon's Memoirs – put together by Holroyd (later Lord Sheffield) from 6 overlapping MSS. Moderately prosperous upbringing – sickly eldest of 7 siblings – only one to survive – small and moon-faced – seminal visit to Stourhead (c.f. Pliny's villa) where buildings and library fired interest in Byzantium (and Arabs, Persians, Tartars, Turks) – Magdalen Oxford aged 16 – inadequacy of narrow classical teaching for person of his bent – "port and prejudice" – conversion to RCism – sent to Lausanne to live with moderate Protestant minister – engagement to Mlle Curchod – on return to England marriage forbidden by father – "I wept like a lover but obeyed like a son" - (Mlle C m. Necker , becomes mother of Mme de Stael) – persuades father to give him Grand Tour rather than rotten borough – in Italy starts 'database' of classical inscriptions – discrepancy between journal of 1764 and seminal paragraph* at start of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (due to Religion and Barbarism?) – former points to Santa Maria d'Aracoeli on site where Sybil forecast to Augustus birth of King of the World (=JC) – vol 1 of DFRE published in 1776 (=Wealth of Nations, US Dec. Of Ind.), then vols 2-3 written in UK and vols 4-6 in Lausanne in house of friend David #, who leaves it to EG on death. His sickness – hydrocele – death after third draining.
* It was at Rome... as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while barefoot friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind.
Discussion on political autobiography,
based on Alan Clarke's Diaries
No PAB by PM until C20 – Balfour – after WSC, all – Thatcher cabinet ministers (practically) all – row over cabinet confidentiality with Richard Crossman's diaries – palaver over 50>30-year rule and personal embargoes. Clarke: arch snob – lust for (i) exclusivity (ii) women – indifferent career until late entry (aetat 45) MP – odious (AC a "S. H. one T." says widow, "but nobody quite like him") – "makes Flashman look like a gentleman" – but diaries v. readable (and good argument for tripling MPs' salaries, so that not just idle rich and political anoraks stand?). Good descriptor of Thatcher years? Other political diaries – Chips Channon, Piers Morgan, Chris Mullen, Giles Brandreth – AC/GB's recipe for successful political diary = 4 'I's: Immediate ("on the day"), Indiscrete ("name names"), Intimate ("mention that we're eating tea cakes"), Indecipherable (whatever did they mean?) – chorus of "Where's the fifth one, 'I' for Ego?"