Clarence Bicknell: Italy and by steamer up the Nile River, 1889-1890
Excerpts from Clarence's diary, no.5
Wed 11 December 1889, 3 pm
Calm and sunny. Cricket matches going on furiously, but every few minutes the string balls, made by the sailors, go into the sea and someone or other is fined 6d. Our ship will be off Alex. at 4am and at 7 we shall get into harbour. All today we are in open sea: the very gulls have deserted us.
At night the moon rose of a fiery orange colour; and the sea became like a lake. There was a great deal of singing on board, but with the exception of a very good but quite constrained tenor voice, the English exhibition was of the lowest nigger type, and all the going Britishers soon took to howling and bawling in the most rowdy way, disgusting us and making us feel ashamed of our countrymen. The the captain ordered up all the sailors and they stood in a circle on the main deck and sang but very badly raucous songs and choruses, the inevitable Santa Lucia and Ai Caroli! among them. I had much talk with my charming and cultured Italian friend whose name is Com. Carlo Restagni, Dollore in Cellere, secretary to the minister for instruction and Commandato al Ministero degli Affari Estere. It seems that the Italian authorities in Egypt did not want him back, but there has been something wrong going on and Signor Crispi said “go out at once” – no-one expected his approval, so he could pounce down upon them unexpectedly, before they could hide their misdeeds. Signor Restagni has promised me a letter to one of her dependants in Athens and if he is in Cairo on our return will be glad to see me.
We went to bed by 11. At 4 am our ship was off Alexandria and had to anchor for the night.
Notes from the editor...
The image is a pen and ink drawing from the diary which is transcribed here. The date on the drawing is the date of the diary entry I've given here. This must be the deck where the cricket match took place. The last words of the printed text above are those at the top of the image, in Clarence's hand-writing. Luckily I find it quite easy to read, so I can transcribe onto the computer without too much strain.
Cricket! Well, he was an Englishman by origin! But then when it comes to the singing, Clarence is ashamed of his countrymen fgor their howling and bawling. He much prefered the company of his "charming and cultured Italian friend". This indicates that he thinks of himself as Italian by adoption.
More daily... well that's the intention.