Sailing the British Empire : The Voyages of The Clarence, 1858-73


From Andrew Hassam's No Privacy for Writing, passengers wrote diaries with the purpose of sending them home to family or friends, but they became sentimental keepsakes of the voyage. The diary became the traveler's closest companion, sometimes the only one with which the author could be truly honest. Sometimes the author wrote his or her diary with the intention of producing more than a just a collection of letters or events on a boat. It needed to be a narrative. The diary had to have a beginning and an end and hopefully interesting events in between. The length and publicity of diaries separated them from ordinary letters. In some instances, the diaries were published as books and some newspapers included excerpts from the stories. In any case, the diaries were meant to provide a lasting memento of a journey that represented starting a new life. As we see in the following accounts, most diaries that can be examined were written by men. The working class (whose diaries were often more conversational and resentful of authority) is also underrepresented. This is due to the fact that in previous years historical archives only preserved diaries that they thought contained important historical context or figures. Few have survived the trials of history, but renewed efforts are working to preserve those that linger. 

Follow the voyages of the Clarence as it makes two round-trips from Gravesend, England to Melbourne, Australia. Begin with the diary of John Marfell and advance with Log M-5; they present the same journey in two very different illustrations. Continue the narrative with the diary of Robert Gow, whose diary corresponds with the second half of Log M-5. Complete your findings with the Log M6, as you will be surprised with some exciting, violent affairs on the final leg from Melbourne to Gravesend.

Hassam, Andrew. "Introduction." Introduction. No Privacy for Writing: Shipboard Diaries, 1852-1879. Carlton South, Vic.: Melbourne UP, 1995. Xiii-xv. Print.

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