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Green, George Pritzler

Journal of George P. Green, from January 1900 to July 17th, of the proceedings of H.M.S. Empress of India.

Physical Description:
1 v. (90 pages) : ill. ; 33 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
In Process DA88.G74 J68 1900+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
H.M.S. Empress of India arrived at Malta to begin her Mediterranean service in August 1897. In August and September 1898, she was part of the International Squadron blockading Crete during the Greco-Turkish uprising there. In December 1900, she recommissioned at Malta for further Mediterranean service, which ended when she was relieved by battleship H.M.S. Implacable in September 1901. The Mediterranean Fleet was one of the most prestigious commands in the navy for the majority of its history, historically defending the vital sea link between the United Kingdom and the majority of the British Empire in the Eastern Hemisphere. Malta, a part of the British Empire since 1814, was used as a shipping waystation and headquarters for the Mediterranean Fleet until the mid-1930s.
Bound in contemporary three-quarter suede and marbled boards, leather label.
Journal of a George Pritzler Green, midshipman, serving in the Mediterranean Fleet. The journal opens on January 1, 1900 with a theatrical performance of "Robin Hood." Anchored at Malta, he writes: "Tonight at the Canteen, we gave our first performance of 'Robin Hood & His Merry Men,' a burlesque in 3 acts by Comr. R.H. Raeon." Listing the cast, Green appears to have played the part of Maid Marion; charming hand-colored illustrations of Robin and Marion accompany these entries. Performed to benefit the War Fund, "Robin Hood" was a smash success which ran for over a week. The rest of Green's journal is just as entertaining and informative. Most of the next year is spent sailing about the Mediterranean playing tennis and field hockey against other ships' teams, attending dances, and venturing on frequent picnics. Green did not spend his whole Mediterranean cruise aboard the Empress. The crew rotated fairly frequently, and Green often grumbles about the slovenliness of their new quarters and writes of cleaning the new ship nearly every time. In the course of a year he sails on the Empress of India, H.M.S. Revenge, H.M.S. Victorious, H.M.S. Caesar, and back to the Empress of India for a return to England.
He draws a small map of the route each ship takes, providing a clear picture of his time spent at sea. In addition to his maps, he also illustrates his journal with various flags and bits of the local scenery, including the Rock of Gibraltar and two cartoonish mountains at Napoli. There is also a charming small sketch of the author on a donkey, whilst in San Ramo on a "donkey picnic." The accompanying description reads: "In the afternoon four or five of us went for a donkey picnic with Lord Clinton, who had kindly invited us to make up his number. We rode up the steep ascents & got quite frozen up on the heights. Getting back about 5.30, we had tea & games at the Savoy Hotel where they were staying." The entry for May 10, 1900, finds Green quite excited about the yearly naval sports, which seem to have been a sort of mini-Olympics for the navy. He writes: "The day was very hot, but the running was good & all competitors were as keen as ever. One record was made viz. The Quarter Mile, in 53 2/5 secs; the previous time being 56 1/5. I was running in the hurdle race & came in 3rd in the finals. Tea was going all the afternoon & the elite of Malta were congregated in large masses. The obstacle race caused much amusement, especially the hanging barrels." Small sketches in this entry show stick figures climbing ropes and diving through hanging barrels.
In between all the festivities, however, Green is training to be an officer and navy man, practicing various naval exercises and drills. Daily entries often include such items as coaling, cleaning and painting the ship, various military drills, hands making and mending clothes, and weekly devotions every Sunday. In June, annual examinations begin. These are on various subjects and skills, ranging from French to trigonometry and navigation. The journal is set up with a two page spread for the month's nautical notations, followed by regular ruled sheets for comments. In the monthly sections, Green has dutifully recorded each day's wind and weather information, as well as the general location of the ship and general remarks about that day's events. It is in the monthly section that he attaches the maps of the ships' routes. One very long and slightly frenzied entry records an encounter in mid-September with a steamer in distress: "We were in the Doro Channel at the time & a nasty sea was running. The steamer kept making distress signals so we...offered to take the crew off but they thought they could get on allright with their sails, their shaft being broken. We kept by them all night & about 12.15P.M. they suddenly disappeared under the land. At 5.30 the next morning we sighted to masts of the poor vessel above water in a small rocky bay in Andros Is. We at once sent the cutters with blankets & brandy, etc. & brought off one man. There were two men on the rigging of the wreck and the remainder were ashore." The remainder of the Mediterranean entries are less adventurous, but there are several nice illustrations of naval details, such as a technical drawing of a bilge keel, which is designed to reduce pitch and roll of the ship, and another technical drawing of mines set underwater, complete with depths and distances.
At the end of 1900, Green sails back to England, taking leave for the month of January and then joining up with the Channel Squadron in February. The entries in this section are filled with more work and less play, mainly detailing the daily activities of the crew. There is a nice watercolor of the H.M.S. Hannibal, on which Green sailed for all of February and some of March. The last few entries, in July of 1901, indicate that Green went to Agincourt for his final officer's examinations, and on July 17, he passed. He writes: "Passed! And what a flap. Got a 3 & wanted more being greedy. And then that night! Oh well the effects remained for days after. But now having assumed such a superior rank I can write no more in the book of the low. Farewell and good luck G.P. old chap for the future." A small cartoon man in officer's clothing takes up the final bit of the page, presumably a self portrait.
Subject Terms:
Empress of India (Ship)
Great Britain. Royal Navy -- Sea life -- History -- 19th century.
Great Britain. Royal Navy -- Ships.
Green, George Pritzler.
Seafaring life.
Ships' logs.
Manuscript maps.
Ink drawings.

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