Capt. Arthur David LINKLATER

Introduction to the JOURNALS of Arthur David LINKLATER

Written while serving his apprenticeship aboard BRITISH PRINCESS from 10.xii.1895 to 13.iii.1900

Arthu The author of these journals, Captain Arthur David LINKLATER, Master Mariner, was my grandfather. He was born on the 8th September 1879. His Journal starts on Tuesday 10th December 1895 when he was not quite 16½ years old and sent to sea as an apprentice aboard British Princess. His Journal ends when he came ashore again at Leith on Tuesday 13th March 1900. I have few personal memories of him as he died before I was seven, but I have quite a lot of information about his life which I have assembled in the BIOGRAPHY section.

Signature Firstly, his name. He was always known to me as ‘Dum’. I never heard him called or referred to as Arthur by anybody. The typescript of his Jornal contains three of his ‘signatures’. The first, after the entry for 20 September 1898, is “A.D.L.”; the second and third are “Links”; after the entries for 3 March 1899 and after the very last entry, 8 March 1900. My father always referred to him as “Dum”, whereas my mother tended to refer to him as “Captain Links”. The few letters I have that were written to him by old deep-water mates mostly address him as “Links”. In formal communication he obviously used his proper name but all the letters of his written to my parents that are in my possession, whether typed or handwritten, are signed “Dum”. What, if anything, Dum meant I have no idea. It was one of the few relevant questions I got around to asking my father, but he did not know either. One possibility is that it may have had its origins in India, where Dum worked for many years and where he met and married my grandmother - who, incidentally, was always called Granny Links. The learning of new tricks by old dogs being notoriously tricky, I continue to think of my grandfather not as Captain Arthur David Linklater but as Dum and will refer to him thus. And it's quicker to type.

I first read the Journal in a typed transcript twenty-five or more years after Dum's death. Wanting to form a mental image of the person who had written it I asked my father if Dum spoke with a Scots accent. After conferring with my mother my parents concurred that he did not, but spoke the ‘King's’ English even though Dum was born and bred in Leith where he attended school - when in the mood. For more details on that and his upbringing and life see the BIOGRAPHY. There are a number of ‘dialect’ words in the Journal, and quite a lot of the spelling is suggestive of Scots inflection, although this could reflect phonetic renditions of the pronunciation he heard around him by other Scottish ship-mates as much as the way he himself pronounced his words.

The spelling in general has proved a major stumbling block to my transcription of the Journals into HTML. All I had at the outset was the same typescript that I had initially read. Typed by whom I do not know. Many of Dum's surviving letters in my possession are also typed, but typed on a different machine from that used to type the Journal. However, there is an incomplete typescript using the same machine that Dum used to type letters to my father. From the 1930s on he made a number of attempts to secure regular work. To improve his prospects he produced a C.V. consisting of typed transcriptions of a number of character references as well as his own potted biography. Several of the original references have pencilled notes to “include this” and “leave this out” which, unless notes to himself, suggests instructions to a typist. Who that was I don't know but it is certainly possible that it was the same person who produced the complete typescript of the Journal which I am reasonably certain was produced under Dum's supervision. Included with the complete typescript Journal are two hand written pages entitled ‘Blanks’ which give page and date references in the typescript to some three dozen occasions on which individual words are left as blanks because they are indecipherable in the autograph. However, ‘Blanks’ is not in my grandfather's handwriting nor that of my father, mother or anyone known to me. Such ‘blanks’ in the typescript appear in the HTML version as [- ? -]. I have included the whole of the ‘Blanks’ sheet as an appendix to the Journal.

Journal blanks There are many errors and inconsistencies in the spelling in the typescript. Before I had sight of the original autograph I thought that the errors had crept in during typing, which would have been more than excusable given the difficulty in reading the autograph. I was therefore inclined to correct and amend such perceived errors of transcription. Since getting possession of the autograph I can only confess astonishment at how faithful the typescript appears to be to the original. While Dum's writing is not the easiest, it is not for the most part indecipherable. The example on the right includes ‘blanks’ in the entries for Tuesday 28th Thursday 30th. Here is a TRANSCRIPTION of parts of those pages including the two entries containing ‘blanks’ as well as exemplifying Dum's eccentric spelling. Left unanswered is why there are any ‘blanks’, assuming Dum had oversight of the original typed transcript - unless Dum found his writing as hard to read as I do. But as I have a similar difficulty with my own handwriting, this may be a family failing!

The typed transcript of the Journal is full of such ‘errors’ which appear mainly to be faithful transcriptions of the autograph as in the example of “ect” in the entries [see image and transcript above] for Tuesday 28th [“...lights ect”], Wed 29th [“...string ect”], Sun 2nd [“...peaches ect”] - a sin that is more often committed than omitted! Everyone I asked urged retention of the original spelling, so I have decided to transcribe the ‘original’ typesecript exactly, without any correction to either spelling or punctuation. The hand writing in the autograph I find too difficult to be certain over niceties of spelling. Anything in [square brackets] in the Journal text is an interpolation of mine.

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© 2018 Duncan Linklater