Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Boreham on Journal Writing: Part Two

Just For Company
Beyond the educational value of keeping chronicles Boreham recognised the solace that they can give, especially in a person's deepest and difficult times. Citing the example of General Gordon during a long vigil at Khartoum, his diary was not only the way he could "shatter the maddening tyranny of his solitude" but it became the lifeline in which he kept his diary "as though his very life depended on it."[1]

Frank Boreham was moved by people who kept their diaries right to the end of their days, especially under trying conditions- "Few things are more touching or more significant than the concern that dying men display, under certain conditions, to keep their journals intact to the last." [2]He was inspired by the way Henry Livingstone penned his scarcely legible last lines in mortal agony, Burke the Australian explorer who determinedly recorded the details of his death in the dusty desert and Captain Scott who wrote until the Antarctic ice froze the strength needed to hold his pen. Not only did such people continue contact with the world they left behind but their diaries enabled them to "say their say to the Ages."[3]

Priceless Archives
While he viewed diaries as a personal savings bank, Boreham recognised the riches they could offer to others. He wrote:

"Among all her priceless archives, the Church has no documents comparable in value with personal outpourings of this intimate kind. She treasures as above all price the Confessions of St. Augustine, the Breviary of St. Teresa, Bunyan's Grace Abounding, Newton's Autobiography and the self-revealing journals of men like David Brainerd and John Woolman."[4]

Frank Boreham testified to the benefit he derived from reading other people's diaries when commending to ministers the habit of reading John Wesley's journal most Saturday nights.[5] The question of whether a diary has the greatest value when it is written for the diarist's eyes alone is pertinent when one considers the Boreham diaries and journals that have been preserved. (To be continued).

Geoff Pound

[1] Ibid., p.42
[2] Ibid., p.43
[3] Ibid., p.43
[4] Ibid., p.43
[5] F.W. Boreham, The Luggage of Life, London: Charles H. Kelly, 1912, p.202