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Dick, James Nicholas, 1832–1920

Journals of James Nicholas Dick, British naval surgeon, and James Douglas Dick, naval officer.

Physical Description:
2 volumes ([150], [84] p.) : ill. ; 23 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
DA88.1 .D53 1853
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Archives & Manuscripts
James Nicholas Dick, K.C.B., was assistant surgeon on board the H.M.S. President during the Crimean War, serving on that vessel in the Pacific, seeing action in fights with Russian ships and batteries at Kamchatka, and receiving a commendation for his work in tending the British wounded. Over the years he rose steadily through the ranks, being made "surgeon," "Senior Medical Officer," "Senior Naval Medical Officer" during the Abyssinian War of 1867-1868, and then "Fleet Surgeon." From 1888 to 1898, when he retired, Dick was Director General of the Naval Medical Department. Dick's son, James Douglas Dick, served in the Royal Navy from 1871 until his death in 1917. The then Captain Dick was killed (along with 803 others) by the internal explosion that destroyed the HMS Vanguard at Scapa Flow.
Volume 1 bound in three quarter sheep and marbled boards. Volume 2 bound in full leather.
Manuscript journals of James Nicholas Dick and James Douglas Dick, of the British Royal Navy. The journal of James Nicholas Dick (volume 1) gives a firsthand account of the siege of Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka during the Crimean War, as well as descriptions of Valparaiso, Chile; Callao, Peru; Vancouver Island; and San Francsico. The volume also includes information on British Efforts to monitor William Walker in Nicaragua and to interdict the slave trade off the coast of west Africa. The journal of Dick's son, James Douglas Dick (volume 2), describes his service in the British Navy from 1887 to 1898.
Both journals include original illustrations by the diarists. That of James Nicholas includes 18 small drawings, in pen and ink or watercolor over graphite. These include drawings of fellow officers (some comic), and depictions of ships and harbors. The journal of James Douglas Dick includes 17 drawings in pen and ink, of similar subjects but of slightly cruder quality.
James Nicholas Dick's journal begins in 1853 as the H.M.S. President, a fifty-gun flagship of the British Far East Squadron, stops at ports in South America. During this tour in 1853 and 1854, Dick visits Rio de Janeiro, Valparaiso, Callao, and Lima; for each, Dick provides a long description of the city, its people, and the surrounding country. The President then sails west, and Dick writes at length about stops in the Marquesas and the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii).
The journal includes a long eyewitness account of the British and French siege of the Russian port city of Petropavlovsk in (in September, 1854), the most important naval battle of the Crimean War in the Pacific, in which the allied forces sustained terrible casualties and after which Dick was commended for his actions. The journal also includes Dick's account of his ship's return to Petropavlovsk (in May, 1855), during which the British and French allies sacked the now-abandoned Russian port.
In 1856, Dick's ship was assigned to the coast of Central America to monitor the actions of the notorious filibusterer, William Walker, and in the 1860s he was assigned to a ship that patrolled the west coast of Africa, intercepting slave ships. All of these activities are related in Dick's journal in a literary style.
The later journal was kept by James Douglas Dick, the son of James N. Dick and a midshipman who had a long career in the British navy, eventually rising to officer rank. The journal includes J.D. Dick's descriptions of Gibraltar, Portugal, Tangiers, St. Vincent, Mauritius, Crete, and various ports in the British Isles. The journal opens with J.D. Dick's ship based in Gibraltar, with accounts of his travels around Portugal and northern Africa. Shortly thereafter, his ship engages in mock battle maneuvers around the southern cost of England. Illustrations in the portion of the journal include a drawing of a ship off the coast of Gibraltar. In May 1888, J.D. sailed with his ship, the H.M.S. Boadicea, for Madeira in the eastern Atlantic, and then on to the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean, which he describes and illustrates by a drawing of "Bird Rock." By early June 1888, Dick's ship had sailed southeast back across the Atlantic, visiting Ascension Island, "a peculiar looking place ... much larger than I thought." He describes the island and his stay there, including a cricket match that took place between his ship's crewmembers and other Englishmen. The Boadicea then proceeded east, around the Cape of Good Hope, reaching Mauritius in late July. Dick describes the island, his daily routine there, the military exercises and battle simulations he and the crew engaged in, and includes a nice illustration of the island as seen from a ship offshore. A later five-page portion of J.D. Dick's journal finds him stationed in the eastern Mediterranean in the late summer of 1898, as part of a four-power force removing Turkish occupiers from the island of Crete.
Subject Terms:
Boadicea (Ship)
Central America -- Description and travel.
Crimean War, 1853-1856 -- Naval operations, British.
Crimean War, 1853-1856 -- Personal narratives, British.
Dick, James Douglas, 1871-1917 -- Diaries.
Dick, James Nicholas, 1832-1920 -- Diaries.
Great Britain. Royal Navy -- History.
Great Britain. Royal Navy -- Officers -- Diaries.
Great Britain. Royal Navy -- Surgeons -- Diaries.
Hawaii -- Description and travel.
Ocean travel.
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiĭ, Battle of, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiĭ, Russia, 1854.
President (Ship)
Slave trade -- Atlantic Ocean Region -- History.
South America -- Description and travel.
Walker, William, 1824-1860.
Maritime journals.
Travel literature.
Ink drawings -- 1853-1898.
Watercolors -- 1853-1898.
Dick, James Douglas, 1871-1917.
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