Hawley is a writer. His books are
highly eclectic. He has written about 16th-century East Asian history,
19th-century Korean-American relations, Olympic sprinting and land
speed racing and a circus elephant named Topsy who was electrocuted in
1903. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.
GEORGE FOULK'S TRAVEL DIARY AND LETTERS
|by SAMUEL HAWLEY
George Foulk's 1884 Korea travel diary presented some difficult
problems - so much so that for a time I thought that it would not be
possible to shape it into a book. The first hurdle was learning to read
his handwriting. Unlike his letters home, which were written with care
so his parents could read them, Foulk dashed off his travel diary
entries because they were only for his own reference. Through
perserverance, however, everything becomes clearer, and in time I was
able to decipher his scribbles.
The next hurdle was more
problematic. As I put together a transcription of the diary I realized
that it was not publishable as Foulk wrote it. While portions were
written in readable prose - likely the portions he wrote in the
evenings, when he had access to a table and time to reflect - much else
was jotted down hastily, often in point-form, as he was going along.
there was another problem: the diary as Foulk wrote it is in places
highly disjointed. For example, he would record passing through a town
and jot down his initial impressions of the place; then, a day or two
later, he would return in his diary to the town to record further
observations and thoughts. He also kept additional notes and
lists in the back of the diary.
These considerations led me to
conclude that Foulk's diary could not be published as written and that
I would have to do significant editing to shape it into a readable
book. This entailed expanding point-form notes into full sentences
where needed, deleting certain non-narrative asides such as compass
sightings, and rearranging portions of the text to make a linear,
I feel that Foulk would have approved of these changes. He had in fact intended to write a
book himself on Korea, using in part his travel diary notes, for he
was very aware and indeed proud of the significance of his journey.
Being appointed charge d'affaries unfortunately left him no time.
To convey some idea of the editorial process, here is the opening page
of Foulk's actual travel diary from 1884:
What I did first was to make an exact transciption, even to the hyphens
Foulk typically used instead of periods:
home Nov. 1 – 8.58 am – bright and clear – arrived at Pap-chon-kori at
Kwanak S. 8° W. Tong Jiki bluff S 17° E. Are just behind a procession
Tanchon Possa – two pounders &c. L. 10.05 about 1/6 m[ile]
NNW of n.
bank Tongjiki ferry – Kwanak S. 13–15 W. Sand stretch is about two
Namsan bears N 10° -- 22° E. Arrived Tonjiki north bank 10.33. Sobungo
E. 21 ferry boats. And across Tongjiki ferry 10.40 – went right on –
beyond Kwanak – S 18°W. Followed west side of valley about 1 mile wide
towards Kwanak – little east of peak – valley narrowed – at 11.09
end of Shhūng băng tōl – a stoney place – 50 houses – counted
Here saw Pusa’s [procession?]. Two had men in red shirts and blue bead
all sorts of other strings – cow bells at waist and blue covered sticks
– then Pusa, two Kumsu and some servants – then 2 bronze coated fellows
tiny hats with big peacock feather on horses and on other with other
foot. Shūng băng tol is 20 ri from Seoul,
10 from Kwachon. Stream flows down valley – rocky valley – upland
Nam san N. 0ºE. – this is at practical end of valley.
I then edited the transcription into readable prose:
Left home at 8:58 a.m. Bright and clear.
Arrived at Pa-chon-kori at 9:58.
We are just behind a procession of the Tanchon Pusa, two pounders,
at 10:05. We are about one-sixth of a mile north-northwest of the north
Tongjiki ferry. The sand stretch is about two miles wide.
Arrived at Tongjiki north bank at 10:33.
Across Tongjiki ferry at 10:40.
We went right on, following the west side of the valley, going towards
11:09 we arrived at the far end of Shung bang tol, a stoney place of
fifty houses. Here saw the Pusa’s procession. He had men in red shirts
bead strings and all sorts of other strings, cow bells at the waist and
covered sticks on the back. Then came the Pusa, two Kunsu and some
then two bronze coated fellows with tiny hats with big peacock
on horses, with other runners on foot. Shung bang tol is twenty ri from
ten from Kwachon.
A stream flows down a rocky valley planted in upland products. This is
at the practical
end of the valley.
Foulk's letters to his parents was far easier. They stand on their own
as well-written prose and needed very little editorial input from me.
Here is a sample of one of his original letters, dated June 6, 1887:
Here is the same letter as
June 6, 1887
Your letter of April 27th reached me on the
3rd instant. I cannot
understand why you should not have received letters from me for so long
I certainly have written quite regularly, particularly since Rockhill
me of the charge of the legation. Your letter cheered me considerably.
particularly glad to read that Uncle George was getting well so rapidly.
It will be some time yet before the mail
closes and I will not write for
the present anything of my political affairs. Of this I think I’ve
quite closely up to the present time. For the past week I have been
well. Why it is so I cannot imagine, but....
of the main editorial decisions I made for the book can be seen in the
heading: I wrote the date out in full for all the letters and
standardized the spelling of "Seoul" to replace Foulk's various