[British Army officer in Ireland following the Great Famine.] Diary of Captain H. M. Vaughan, 90th Light Infantry, while stationed at Ballincollig Barracks, including accounts of riots in Cork by 5000 'Paupers' and during the 1852 General Election.

Author: 
Captain Herbert Millingchamp Vaughan (c.1828-1855), Welsh British Army officer in the 90th Light Infantry; Ballincollig Royal Gunpowder Mills, County Cork; Great Exhibition, London 1851
Publication details: 
Ballincollig, County Cork, Ireland; Llangoedmore, Wales; London; Between May 1851 and September 1852.
£1,200.00
SKU: 22212

An interesting and vivid account of a British army officer's service in Ireland in the period immediately following the Great Famine. The author is stationed at the barracks in Ballincollig, built to protect the Royal Gunpowder Mills (at the time one of the largest in the British Isles). High points include a long account of a riot at Cork during the General Election of 1852; and descriptions of a riot by 5000 'Paupers' around the 'Cork Union' and the first Irish industrial exhibition, also at Cork in 1852. There is also an account of a visit to the Great Exhibition and other attractions in London while on leave in 1851. Within four years of writing the diary Vaughan would be dead: his memorial in Llangoedmore church describes him as 'Captain in HM 90th (Perthshire) Light Infantry' and 'eldest son of Colonel Herbert Vaughan (late commanding the same regiment) of Llangoedmore Place Co. Cardigan and of Sarah his wife'. According to the memorial Vaughan 'fell bravely at the head of his company in the British attack on the Redan before Sevastopol on the 8th September 1855 and died of his wounds on the 12th of the same month'. 242pp, 12mo. First and last pages of text on insides of free endpapers. In contemporary black halfbinding with calf spine and cloth boards. Patterned endpapers in green and red, simulating a textile weave, and marbled edges. In good condition, lightly aged, tight in lightly-worn binding. Seven leaves have been torn out, and a further three have had passages cut out of them, leaving one of the leaves no more than a slip. (Occasional words and phrases in Greek script may denote sexual activity in 'town'.) Author's inscription at front: 'Herbert M. Vaughan | Lieut. 90th. Light Infantry' Start of volume dated from 'Ballincolig. [sic] May 1st. 1851.' At foot of final page: 'End of Vol 3d | Septr. 18th. 1852. Dublin'. (The date is that of his arrival at his new station. At the front of the volume is a list of his eight moves, from Chester Depot in 1847, to Sherness, Chatham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester, Cork, Ballincollig, and Dublin in 1852.) In addition to Vaughan's military duties (attending with his men in Cork at the General Election of 1852, marching 'the Roman Catholics to Chapel', acting as 'Garrison Orderly Officer', drilling and on parade, sitting on courts martial, 'Ball Practice' and 'Sword Exercise', overseeing the delivery of ammunition), he describes an easy and pleasant life: he visits the first Irish Industrial Exhibition at Cork in 1852, dines, reads, writes letters, goes for rides and walks (he has a feeling for nature), allows a man (James Baird?) to perform an experiment in 'Electro-Biology' (hypnosis) on twenty of his men, attends a brass band concert by the celebrated Distin family, rows around 'The Brilliant' ('the largest yacht in the navy'), goes to 'a party on board the “Rodney”', attends a 'Garrison against the 60th Rifles' cricket match, watches a steeplechase 'between Ross & Wade', goes on leave to London (where he visits the Great Exhibition, goes to 'the Regents park Zoological Gardens' and sees Buckstone at the Haymarket), goes hunting and shooting both in Ballincollig and at home in Wales, has picnics, bathes with others, reads ('Sorrow of Werther', 'Nick [sic] Nickleby' and Bulwer Lytton's 'The Caxtons', which he considers 'one of the best books of the sort I ever read'), buys domestic items from 'A Jew', reads the papers, plays quoits and billiards. Two years after the terrible tragedy of the Famine, Vaughan notes the contrast between 'miserable Ireland' and 'the highly cultivated country' of England, and gives two vivid indications of the social tensions within the country. The first is the following description of a riot in Cork on the day of the General Election, July 1852: 'Up at 5 o'Ck; Genl. Parade; marched out of B[arrac]ks. at 6 ¼ & went down to Elizabeth Fort; the Genl. Was with us; The Police Officers stationed there were very civil & gave us all breakfast &c. I rode to Bks. to see about the Men's breakfast & about an hour after my return we were called out & marched about the Town to protect the Voters for Chatterton [i.e. Col. James Chatterton]; the intimidation was very great & they really voted at the risk of their lives, several would have been murdered had it not been for us; we went into one Polling where they were violent beyond anything & mobbed the General, however he rode through them with his Staff & we fixed bayonets; it was just the same in other parts of the town, the Mob. were violent to a degree, stones & sticks were hurled at the Military & Police & execrations & threats; lots of windows were broken & houses gutted: the Magistrates were for the most part utterly useless: the riot act was read & the Magistrate who was reading it had his face cut open with a Stone, while reading & the Dragoons had to charge through the Streets & clear the way several times; we then escorted one of the Magistrates (Captn White) who had been nearly murdered by the Mob, to his house on the hill, & we were followed by a tremendous mob yelling & shrieking & throwing volleys of stones at us, which hit the Cavalry helmets & horses & our Men's shakos & broke the windows, but still we did nothing; a Guard was left at Captn. White's house & we proceeded to Bks. where we arrived about 8 having been out since 5 o'Ck A.M. we also got partly wet through: sent down other parties at night & Rattrey was detached with a sub-division by order of the Mayor who was beastly drunk & who took him & left him in a narrow street where he got well pelted & had to fix bayonets & charge to get out: the Mayor having left him, altogether the proceedings of the Magistrates were disgraceful – Gloomy day with heavy showers of rain'. Another indication of the fraught nature of Irish society is given by the following account of what happened one Sunday in May 1852: 'Went to Church with the Men, went out a long walk in the afternoon with Close; we walked about the lanes & fields towards Monkestown. Country was beautiful, birds singing &c. We strolled about Blackrock, in returning we saw a great crowd round the “Cork Union” & on enquiry we found that the Paupers (of whom there were 5000 odd) were in a state of meeting & had licked the Master; a number of Police were in attendance & the Military had been sent for, we met the latter coming through the town 100 Infantry & a troop of Dragoons. The General also went down there. Parnell & 50 men were left & remained till 1 o'Clock in the morning.' The first entry in the diary reads: 'Thursday Heavy showers during the morning & the weather cold. The 7th. Hussars were inspected by the General, the Govr., Ross & Meredith came over to see them. I went out for an hour or so to have a look & a most beautiful sight it is; the dress is so very handsome & the extra jacket hanging over the shoulder & the Shabrack look splendid; and then to see them charge as hard as ever they could go, was magnificent; there were several carriages on the Ground & afterwards the ladies had lunch in the Mess room. Dined in my room.' Two days later he orders 'a set of Curtains & one or two other things' from 'A Jew'. Later in the month he attends a concert in Cork by the Distin family: 'the Distins were to perform & our Band & the 40th also played; I was very much pleased with the Distins: there are four of them & they play on different sorts of saxehorns & the sounds they bring out are beautiful so clear & soft, they also sing'. Again in May he rides to Bandon and finds 'Denison on Parade', enjoys the scenery ('Lord Bandon having given Denison leave to walk through his gardens whenever he chose'), commenting 'I never enjoyed myself more'. In the same month he sits on a court martial 'on two men of the 7th; one was tried for shooting himself & the other for throwing a bucket of water at a Serjeant; the latter man during the proceedings of the Ct. Martial hurled his Cap at one of the witnesses & missing him hit Bowles on the forehead & hurt him a good deal, there being a piece of old iron concealed inside the Cap.' Later in the month he is asked to dinner by 'Caulfield of the 57th', where he discovers that Caulfield is an amateur engraver: 'he showed me his etchings & most beautifully done they were, both copies & originals, he also etched views & took likenesses exceedingly well. We sat up smoking & talking till 1 ½ oClock; he had the most extraordinary dog I ever saw, it was rather an inferior looking Scotch terrier of the name of Bayonet'. He describes the dog's 'extraordinary' tricks. He describes how on the queen's birthday 'the 7th L Artillery went into Cork & I was ordered to fire “Feu de joie” here, so at 12 ½ the remainder of the 7th and Artillery & the whole of the 90th. Detachment paraded & fired a “feu de joie” in the Barracks & we then formed up & gave three cheers.' In June he agrees to go for a picnic, but forgets the location, so asks 'a Car-man where the Pic-nics in that neighbourhood generally took place, at last I agreed to be driven to a place called Rock Ferry about 4 miles from Queenstown, […] Smith & Meredith went with me for the sake of a drive […] I came near & came upon a number of people all of a sudden & much to my gratification, I found they belonged to the Pic-nic, they had just finished dinner, the Gover. Eld & Mrs Eld, Crealock Vaughton Persse & Rattray were there & a great number of people were there, among whom were The Tobins, Col. Beresford Mrs & Miss Miss Oldenshaws, Miss Cheney &c; a piper sat under a tree playing & they were dancing “Sir Roger De Coverley”'. In July he drives down to Enniscairn, 'where there were some Temperance Meetings going on met several processions returning with flags bands &c'. In the same month he allows his men to be hypnotized: 'A Man who performed experiments in Electro-Biology [the Scottish surgeon James Braid (1796-1860)?] came out here & we went into the Cavalry Mess room & were performed upon together with several of the Cavalry fellows, but he did not succeed upon any of us & he complained that there was too much noise, so we adjourned to one of my Barrack-rooms & got together 20 soldiers to be experimented on & he succeeded completely with several he picked out two who were most under his will & performed all sorts of things with them shut their eyes & would not allow them to be opened, prevented them getting up from their sets & when up they could not sit down again, he made them so drunk by giving them water to drink & making them think it was whiskey, that they staggered & fell down; he made them lame & fixed their arms in the air & made them forget their own names, in fact he did anything he liked with them, there could be no collusion as he had never seen these men before, there were several Officers present & we all became converts at once'. In September he travels to England on leave. In London he lodges at Jermyn Street, goes to the Haymarket Theatre, where he sees 'Buckstone in one or two farces': he is 'amused, though one gets tired even of him'. A few days later he takes 'a Hansom to the Regents park Zoological Gardens: saw the young Elephant, the Hippopotamus, the Ouran Outan & “Goulds Humming Birds” did not get a very good view of the Hippopotamus as he was laying asleep the whole time, the collection of Humming is most lovely; there are about 20 or 30 different sorts all arranged together in separate glass cases, about 20 or 30 of each kind in a case, & it is impossible to conceive the splendid colours & elegance of them'. While promenading in the Opera Colonnade he feels 'a crack on the back & turning round saw Grylls, we had great greetings. He introduced me to Chancellor of the Artillery'. On the same trip he visits the Great Exhibition and is 'delighted with it, I think I liked the Sculpture best; Kiss's Amazons, the Greek Slave & the Archangel Michael standing over Satan subdued, were splendid, the Koh-i-nor was a humbug. The stuffed animals & birds in the [?] department were most curious. The Russian Malachite doors were splendid & there were also chairs, tables sofas &c, all in Malachite, the Queen of Spain's jewellery was magnificent & beautifully set. It is impossible to say what one likes best amongst so many beautiful things – I walked about the Park for an hour afterwards & was disappointed in not seeing any pretty faces, returned in a “buss” [sic], walked about Piccadilly & then returned & had dinner read afterwards & then went out & went to the Adelphi Theatre at half-price, great humbug it was too, had a Cup of Coffee & a cigar at the “Cafe de l'Europe”, walked about & retired about 2 o'Cl. Lovely day.' Further London attractions ('Somnambula' at the 'Pantheon', a 'Hottentot boy' at 'Cummin's Exhibition' [i.e. 'Cummings' South African Exhibition']) are described during the remainder of the visit. Back at Ballincollig in October 1851, his pleasant existence continues as before. The following two months (November and December) he is 'Home' in Wales, where he describes at length and with relish his extensive hunting and shooting, and one Sunday hears 'an infamous sermon of three quarters of an hour from G. Thomas' at Cardigan Church. He is in Bandon and Cork in January 1852, and gives a long account of a hunt by 'a whole lot of us', 'with Johnson's hounds, which met at Old-Court'. In April he 'galloped up to the Race Course to see the Match between Ross & Wade, it was a very good one, but Wade got a deuced bad fall, he however won, for though Rosss came in long before him he dropped the weights he carried.' He is in Cork in June 1852, where he visits the first Irish industrial exhibition. On one day he watches from the harbour as the Lord Lieutenant's steamer sails in (he is on his way to open the exhibition): 'all the ships were gaily ornamented & the fleet looked very jolly; the Prince Regent & the Ajax fire a Royal Salute'; later in the day he attends the exhibition ball: 'there were a number of Uniforms of every description, a sort of “Dais” at one end of the room was occupied by the Lord Lieutenant & his party; it was far too crowded for dancing there being about 1600 people present, left about 5 oCk'. On a following day he goes 'down to the Exhibition with Peddie it being the Promenade day; the 40th & 9th Band were playing there, the Exhibtinon & the outside were crowded with people'. Loosely inserted is a leaf with memos of three promotions in 1852, including Vaughan's.