Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2016, Volume 37

Extracts from The Young Idea

by Mary Isbellby Teresa Navarroby Katelyn Sahagian

Editorial Introduction

Extracts from The Young Idea


"Newspapers are not generally regarded on board men-of-war with a friendly eye.” So explains A. D. McArthur in his preface to the 1867 lithograph edition of The Young Idea: A Naval Journal edited on board H.M.S. Chesapeake in 1857, 1858, & 1859. McArthur edited The Young Idea, an illustrated weekly paper, while serving as a clerk aboard the Chesapeake (flagship of the East Indies and China Station); his preface goes on to explain that officers viewed shipboard periodicals as vehicles of insubordination. Along with the insight it provides into contributors’ impressions of the foreign ports they visit (including Calcutta, Trincomalee, Aden, and Singapore), The Young Idea offers a detailed account of day-to-day life aboard a British warship. It includes, for example, an editorial remembrance of a sailor killed by a falling piece of rigging and a “letter to the editor” complaining that five gentlemen awakened the inhabitants of “forecastle street” by singing “Annie Laurie” at the top of their lungs. It is tempting, when reading these articles, letters, and riddles, to imagine that we’re joining these sailors aboard a warship in the service of the British Empire. This insight into daily life aboard a naval vessel was very likely one of McArthur’s goals in presenting a formerly private newspaper to the public, but it is important to note that he has curated the particular slice of life that he wants to make public. This digital edition is designed to reveal the complexity of The Young Idea. It will surely prove useful to scholars interested in nineteenth-century naval history, literature, and culture, but it should first be understood as an artifact in its own right.
After calling attention to the fact that shipboard newspapers are not popular with officers, McArthur explains in his preface that he is practiced in the art of self-censorship. He writes, “when I took the editorial pen, it was my fixed determination to exclude all such emanations [that might undermine discipline].” He clarifies that the paper “met with much opposition at first,” but eventually became “a great favorite with all.” What McArthur does not disclose in his preface is that beyond his refusal to include material that might anger superior officers aboard the Chesapeake, he also does not include in his lithograph edition all the material that appeared in the manuscript that circulated aboard the Chesapeake. This insight into McArthur’s editorial process is possible because we have two witnesses to The Young Idea. Though the manuscript pages that circulated aboard the ship are not extant, we have McArthur’s 1867 lithograph edition and extracts from The Young Idea that the ship’s chaplain, J. W. L. Bampfield, transcribed into his diary. Beyond offering a second witness to the manuscript pages, Bampfield’s extracts also provide a partial marked list of the paper’s contributors because he included the author’s initials after almost every contribution he transcribed.

Figure 1: Title page for McArthur's 1867 edition

Author's personal collection

Figure 2: First page of Bampfield's extracts

Bamfield, J. W. L. MSS. Journal kept by the ship's chaplain, the Rev. J. W. L. Bamfield. National Maritime Museum, NWT 3.

This edition includes notes pointing to significant variation between McArthur’s lithograph edition (the base text for this edition) and Bampfield’s handwritten extracts from the manuscript pages. I have concluded that while lithography could have been used to create a facsimile edition (that is, an edition that reproduces as closely as possible the pages exactly as they appeared in the original manuscript newspaper), McArthur’s lithograph edition is not a facsimile. Though he does not announce it as explicitly as Bampfield does with his title, McArthur did pull extracts from the manuscript newspaper and then re-created the appearance of a handwritten paper with those extracts.
The editors of a similarly produced edition of the Illustrated Arctic News (London: Ackermann, 1852) are much more explicit than McArthur about their practice; they apologize in their preface for omitting “a few articles,” fearing the bad taste of the arctic public might lead a more general readership to “object on the score of raciness” (Osborne n.p.). There were likely many shipboard newspapers that we’ll never learn about because the editors were not permitted to publish. As Vanessa Histon Roberts explains in “Publishing and Printing on board Ships,”X
Roberts, Vanessa Histon. "“Publishing and Printing on board ships.” The Mariner’s Mirror. 74 (1988): 329-34.
Clements Markham edited a journal during the Franklin expedition entitled Minavilins, which was suppressed.
What prompted McArthur to prepare an edition for the public? He explains in the preface to his 1867 edition that he “yielded to the solicitation of friends” to give The Young Idea “afresh to the world.” McArthur’s preface also indicates that the lithographed edition was funded through a subscription supported by Harry Edmund Edgell, the commanding officer of the Chesapeake (and the entire squadron) for the majority of the cruise chronicled in The Young Idea. The Chesapeake was sold for parts in 1867, so it seems likely that Admiral Edgell (named as a primary supporter of the lithograph edition in McArthur’s preface) and other officers who served aboard the Chesapeake would be motivated to contribute to a subscription that would fund a beautiful lithograph edition commemorating their time aboard the vessel.
Hyperlinked annotations throughout this edition support my contention that McArthur had a heavily edited version of The Young Idea published in 1867, but the clearest evidence is the fact that McArthur includes an article that he wrote about the arrival of letters from home as the first contribution to the ninth issue of his lithograph edition, though it appears as the first entry of the eighth issue in Bampfield’s extracts. McArthur is the author of the article, so the best explanation for Bampfield including it in his extracts before the date that it appears in McArthur's edition of The Young Idea is that McArthur selected, rearranged, and edited individual contributions for the lithograph edition. Readers of this digital edition can click on the title of each contribution (or, where there is no title, on the first sentence) to learn how Bampfield’s extracts differ from the base text. Readers will also find hyperlinked lines within particular contributions where significant divergences from Bampfield’s extracts occur (the most notable section of divergence in this edition occurs in the article entitled “Up the Hooghly”).
Of course, this edition for Scholarly Editing necessarily provides only a section of McArthur’s full fifty-eight-issue lithograph edition. This edition extracts issues 7 (January 23, 1858) through 13 (March 6, 1858), which were written and circulated during the ship's time harbored off the coast of Calcutta. I have also included McArthur’s preface to the lithograph edition because it provides a detailed introduction to this unique example of a handwritten newspaper. Issues 7–13 document day-to-day life aboard a naval vessel (receiving letters from home, disturbances aboard the ship, cricket matches between the crew of the Chesapeake and other British vessels, etc.), but they stand alone in the sense that they provide a cohesive narrative of sailors' experiences in Calcutta in the wake of what was then referred to as the Indian MutinyX
In Rule of Darkness (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988), Patrick Brantlinger explains that “among both British and Indian historians, debate still focuses on whether the uprising was only an army “mutiny,” or a “civil rebellion” as well, or, as Indian nationalists have held it to be, “the first Indian war of independence” (200-201). I follow Brantlinger and refer to the conflict as “the Mutiny.”
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The seventh issue begins with the editor's reflections on the disappointing announcement that the crew of the Chesapeake would not fight to put down the Mutiny (other sailors had seen direct combat and the sailors aboard the Chesapeake knew about these famous naval brigades that fought on land). This issue also includes a detailed contribution on first impressions of Calcutta. The eighth issue begins with an editorial, "Try Again," reflecting on the failure of the first attempt to lay an Atlantic telegraph cable and the crack discovered in Big Ben ("his metal was too thin, his tongue was too thick"), reminding us that when in port these sailors followed with great attention the events back home in England. The tenth issue is probably the richest. Extracts from a narrative of the siege at Lucknow appear alongside reports of a regatta in which the Chesapeake competed and a fascinating review of the Chesapeake sailor amateurs' debut performance at the Calcutta Lyric Theatre, a theatrical performance mounted to benefit the widows and orphans of those killed during the Mutiny. The sailors were criticized harshly by the drama critic for an English-language newspaper printed in Calcutta (The Hurkaru), and officers aboard the Chesapeake responded to this affront with an article in The Young Idea and a letter to the editor of The Englishman, a rival newspaper to The Hurkaru. The twelfth issue begins with an editorial speculating on where the ship will travel next (reports at that time were that the Chesapeake would convey Lady Canning to Madras), and a detailed account of the wedding of the granddaughter of Rajah Behadoor, with careful attention given to narrating the unfamiliar marriage ceremony. The thirteenth issue reflects back on the experiences in Calcutta, and one contributor revisits the brutal review of the sailors' theatrical performance, including the prologue delivered on that occasion. 
McArthur’s preface makes clear that he published in an effort to chronicle the existence of a handwritten newspaper aboard a naval vessel. This digital edition shares that goal, and in so doing contributes to scholarly conversations about handwritten newspapers, a growing field of scholarly inquiryX
For more on the topic, see: Heiko Droste, “Degrees of Publicity: Handwritten Newspapers in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” LIR.journal 1, no. 1 (2012): 67–83; Kirsti Salmi-Niklander, "Monologic, Dialogic, Collective: Modes of Writing in Hand-written Newspapers," in White Field, Black Seeds: Nordic Literacy Practices in the Long Nineteenth Century., ed. Anna Kuismin and M. J. Driscoll, 76-88 (Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2013); and Michael Ray Smith, Quentin Schultze, and Roy Alden Atwood, A Free Press in Freehand. (Grand Rapids: Edenridge Press, 2011).
. While researchers have devoted some attention to shipboard publishing and printingX
Vanessa Histon Roberts, “Publishing and Printing on board Ships,” Mariner’s Mirror 74 (1988): 329-34; G.F. Barwick, “Books Printed at Sea,” The Library 2 no. 2 (1899): 163-66; David H. Stam and Deirdre C. Stam, “Bending Time: The Function of Periodicals in Nineteenth-Century Polar Naval Expeditions,” Victorian Periodicals Review 41 no. 4 (2008): 301-322; Hester Blum and Jason R. Rudy, “First Person Nautical: Poetry and Play at Sea,” J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 1, no. 1 (2013): 189–194.
, the only scholarship that mentions The Young IdeaX
Howard Leathlean, “Paul Jerrard: Publisher of ‘Special Presents,’” The Book Collector. 40 no. 2 (1991): 169-96.
concerns Paul Jerrard, the publisher of the 1867 edition. This critical edition uses the 1867 lithograph edition as its base text. All material in this edition has been double keyed, meaning two people have transcribed the source material and the transcriptions have been collated to locate and correct errors in transcription. Superscript letters have not been presented as superscript: whether written as 19th or 19th, this edition displays 19th. Column breaks and the running header (visible in page images) have been transcribed and encoded, but do not appear in the edition. Double hyphens appear frequently in the source texts to indicate that a word has been continued onto a new line, but these double hyphens have not been transcribed. Annotations have been provided to help readers learn about people, places, and ships mentioned in the text. As described above, annotations have also been included to present information gleaned from the analysis of variation between McArthur's lithograph edition and Bampfield's extracts. Where possible, these notes combine information from Bampfield's marked list of contributors with data from the muster books for the Chesapeake to provide insight into the authorship of individual contributions. Readers can view these notes by clicking on the title of each contribution (or, if there is no title, the first line of the contribution).