Papers of Admiral Swinburne and his son Algernon Charles Swinburne
Lot 156
FRANKLIN (Sir JOHN)
Sold for £2,280 (US$ 3,901) inc. premium
Lot Details
FRANKLIN (Sir JOHN)
Series of five autograph letters signed ("John Franklin"), written while serving as Captain of HMS Rainbow, stationed in the Gulf of Patras, to Captain Swinburne of HMS Rapid, his second-in-command stationed at Vostizza, during the months succeeding recognition of Greek Independence, discussing in considerable detail negotiations with General Fotomara and others, with references to their Russian allies, dealings with the British Minister Edward Dawkins, disturbances at Patras, etc. ("...The Achilles - Capt Mastouchsker has arrived - We have been conversing for two hours on the subject of Greece generally and of Patras in particular - I perceive he is thoroughly Russian - but more gentlemanly than my former Colleagues and as he has brought a letter from my Admiral and believes his Instructions to compare with mine... I have every disposition to be friendly with him..."); together with an autograph letter to Swinburne by H. Robinson, offering him a gift of currants, a letter signed by Franklin to his lieutenant W.G.B. Estcourt, charged with escorting British merchant vessels, an autograph draft of a letter by Swinburne to Franklin, and a bundle of letters inscribed "Notes from foreigners", Franklin's letters to Swinburne 21 pages, address panels, folio and 4to, Patras, September to October 1832

Footnotes

  • GREECE IN THE MONTHS FOLLOWING INDEPENDENCE, the treaty of Constantinople having been signed on 21 July: a good deal of Franklin's time was taken up with what has been dubbed 'the affair of the currants of Vostizza'. This involved the duty payable by H. Robinson and other largely British exporters based in Vostizza, which was famous for its distinctive and highly aromatic Corinthian currants. Hitherto the duty had been paid to the local garrison under General Fotomara but, following independence, the irregular army under Hadji Pietro and the provisional government wanted their cut as well: for a full account of this affair, although without reference to Captain Swinburne's role in the proceedings, see H.D. Trail's Life of Sir John Franklin RN (1896), pp.188-196.

    Captain Swinburne's son, the poet Algernon Charles, was to be born five years later, and this episode may explain what we believe has hitherto remained a minor biographical enigma, namely why his parents should have nicknamed their child 'Hadji', a name which - for his family and some of his friends at least, such as Burne Jones - stuck in later life. This explanation is given extra plausibility by the fact that, in their dispute with Hadji Pietro, it was Swinburne and Franklin who came out on top, and so could afford to look back on the faintly ludicrous 'affair of the currants of Vostizza' - tiresome though the Hadji might have been - with a measure of amused benevolence, as they might to the behaviour of a child.

    As an undergraduate, Swinburne fils was to contend, unsuccessfully, for a £50 prize offered by the Guardian offered for a poem "on the subject of Sir John Franklin and the later discoveries" (see the letter to his mother of 22 February 1860). The poem, which would have perished had not a copy come to light among his father's papers in the British Museum Library, was published posthumously. However it makes no reference to his father's association with the dead hero; nor does it appear that modern commentators are aware of such a link. For Captain Swinburne's service papers and letters by his son, see below.
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