Inglis the Perfidious
Readers of Anatomy of a lie and of Decoding False History will be familiar with the extensive duplicity of Brian Inglis’ 1973 biography of Casement in which selective framing and omission, altered documents, false attributions and other chicanery govern his treatment of the notorious diaries. Those readers will by now have understood that his intellectual dishonesty was necessary in order to convince everyone that the diaries are the work of Casement. They will also have understood by now that Inglis knew very well they were forgeries. Readers will recall how Inglis ignored the very long handwritten journal which Casement wrote while in the Putumayo in 1910 now known as The Amazon Journal. The original is held in NLI. Soon after publication of Inglis’ book he was challenged to explain why he had ignored this authentic document of 140,000 words in favour of the disputed shorter Dollard diary of 1910. His response was simple, ingenious and utterly false. He wrote that the handwritten journal now in NLI is not the 1910 original but is a cleaned up copy made by Casement in 1913. This falsehood is exposed in part on pages 55-56 of Anatomy of a lie but one crucial aspect has only recently come to light.
The history of the journal is as follows; the document was written by Casement day by day during his three-month investigation in the Putumayo region and brought back to England on his return. Thereafter it was kept with his other possessions until late 1912. At that time a parliamentary select committee was set up under the chairmanship of Charles Roberts MP with the remit to further report to parliament on British responsibility for the abuses in the Putumayo. In December 1912 Casement wrote to Roberts offering his journal to the committee as evidence.
‘I have dug up my diary of my days on the Putumayo – a very voluminous record indeed … the diary is a pretty complete record … written down red hot … it is extensive and much of it written with pencil … a faithful transcript of my own mind at the time …’
Casement left England on 31st December 1912 for a rest holiday in the Canaries and brought the journal with him. On 24th January 1913, Roberts sent a telegram to Casement via the consulate in Tenerife asking for the journal to be sent promptly. On 27th January Casement sent the journal to Roberts who acknowledged receipt on 1st February.
‘Your telegram reached me at Orotava … I came over here at once …. and now send you the diary. I had it with me, but have not read it for two and a half years! There is much … would expose me to ridicule were it read by unkind eyes – its only value is that it is honest … I was greatly overworked … I am sometimes very hard on individuals … I wrote then with resentment strong in me … I felt very fierce and furious against the men who had connived at concealing the crimes. But there – you have the diary, such as it is …’
The journal remained in Roberts’ care until July 1913 when it was returned to Casement in London. Most probably it was then stored in his luggage at Allison’s in London until late 1914 or early 1915 when the luggage was seized by the CID. The journal along with other property was handed over to Gavan Duffy after the execution in 1916 and later was donated to NLI either by Casement’s cousin Gertrude Parry or by Duffy himself.
Casement described his journal to Roberts as follows; ‘It is often almost unintelligible altho’ I can read it all …. I advise you strongly to have it typed … it will take an expert to read it and decipher it … was written with (obviously) never a thought of being shown to others but for myself alone …’
This description corresponds to the document held today in NLI. It is partly written in pencil and some pages are almost illegible. Its tone is often angry and intemperate, highly personal and emotional. There can be no doubt as to it being the original ‘real time’ record of 1910.
In his 1974 Coronet paperback edition, Inglis wrote in an annex as follows; The other was a copy of his Putumayo diary, which he made for the use of the Select Committee investigating the affair. As he told the Chairman, he was sending the copy because ‘naturally there is in it (the original diary) something I should not wish anyone else to see.’ However, Casement did not write this quoted sentence to Charles Roberts. Inglis inserted the words in parenthesis and attributed those words to Casement to support his claim which he knew to be false. Categorical proof of this is found in the original letter of 27 January 1913 written by Casement to Roberts. ‘Naturally there is in it something I should not wish anyone to see – but then it is as it stands.’ This is the sentence seen by Inglis in the Casement-Roberts Correspondence held in Rhodes House. Inglis altered the original by deleting the last seven words and a dash, adding three words in parenthesis and added the word ‘else’. Inglis then made a surprisingly clumsy mistake in alleging that Casement told Roberts that he had altered this copy to conceal something in the original. In short, he ‘confessed’ to Roberts that the document was not 100% genuine. It was a risk Inglis felt he had to take. Thus by falsifying his report of a genuine document, Inglis created yet another innuendo which has deceived countless thousands of readers worldwide for half a century. Inglis was indeed a master of the devious art of deception.
The author is indebted to The Amazon Journal edited by Angus Mitchell, Lilliput Books 1997, and in particular to original research by Dr. Mitchell on pages 36-39. Readers are referred to chapter 2 of Anatomy of a lie and to the Introduction in Decoding False History.
© Paul R. Hyde. 2023.