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Coded Diaries etc.,

I had been reading about nicknames coined by Swinburne for some of his contemporaries - Fuxton Boreman for Buxton Forman and Soddington Symonds for John Addington Symonds when this piece arrived about a diary of that period with sexual code. Of course Pepys used a mixed language code and Anne Lister (1791–1840) the wealthy Yorkshire landowner, mountaineer and traveller kept coded diaries which chronicled the details of her daily life, including her lesbian relationships. RH who obviously  possesses a good size archive of ephemera and manuscript material sent in this. He is our third contributor and we could use many more who want to share their collections with a waiting world.

Pepys used a code when describing sexual activity and I think and Boswell did too. The sexologist Krafft-Ebing went Latinate when describing what he felt was a sexual perversion. And now we know that in his sex diaries Maynard Keynes used the letters C. A. W. to denote particular sexual activities—though the editor of the diaries cannot, even with the help of Oxford don, Professor Diarmid Macculloch, arrive at any sound conclusions as to what they denoted. All this suggests that many more of the unpublished diaries that the industrious J. S. Batts listed in his superb British Manuscript Diaries (1976), may also have contained codes to denote sexual activity.

I say this because I think I have discovered a monogram, which in the context of bedtime, denote sex in a diary I own, the yet unpublished ‘Travel Journal of Sir George Arney’, which dates from 1834. Arney, an English lawyer from Salisbury, who emigrated to New Zealand to become its second Chief Justice in 1858, spent several month touring Germany, Bohemia and Austria aged 24 —mopping up German literature, praising the music of Beethoven and being rude about the bribery system and continental inns.

Arney was a passionate fellow, with a roving eye for a pretty face,and was liable to erupt into a violent outburst when recording the conduct of the bad mannered and the plain ignorant, whether English tourists or foreign upstarts. Accompanying him was his new wife Harriett, with whom he was totally besotted. In fact, a more uxorious husband can hardly be imagined. Often, while recording everyday sight-seeing, Harriett’s name is shortened to an elaborate monogram, but the same monogram is also used when Arney wishes to note sex with his wife. On one particular occasion, as we see here (next to the monogram) he is more explicit ---‘I put it in‘. [RH]

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