Persons, Places

Schwobe’ …

On my desk lies a small book titled Kleine Schriften zur deutschen Literatur im 17. Jahrhundert, Amsterdam 1977 (Beihefte zum Daphnis 1; also Daphnis vol. 6, nr. 4, 1977) by the great Leonard FORSTER (1913-1997) (obituary), one of the eminent scholars of German and Renaissance studies of the 20th century. Strangely there is no Wikipedia article about him, nor German nor English.
One of FORSTER’s main subjects of research was Georg Rudolph WECKHERLIN (1584-1653) (Ger., Eng.), poet and statesman.
WECKHERLIN was a Suebian, born in Stuttgart. He was a kinsman of the English court, from 1626 until shortly before his death he held important positions in the English administration, mainly as secretary of the state secretary – I am not familiar with the names of the ranks:  It is what we today would call the department of foreign affairs. Minister or secretaries came and went, WECKHERLIN stayed, for 25 years. He reached the rank of a Latin Secretary, his successor was another poet, John MILTON (1608-1674) (Ger., Eng.).
WECKHERLIN’s father was an official at the court of Wuerttemberg (Ger., Eng.), and his son was meant to follow him. From 1606 onwards we find young Rudolph in the entourage of Suebian diplomats on travels through Europe, in France, England and Italy. On one of these travels he met Elisabeth, the daughter of the Town clerk of Dover (Ger., Eng. ) (“Doof, Dover, Calais”), his later wife. He is abroad until 1615 an shortly after his return to Stuttgart he shows up as poet. He makes poems on persons of interest and influence, helps to organize the festivities for the baptismal of Prince Friedrich von Wurttemberg (Ger., Eng.) etc. – what the humanist has to do at court. He receives a fixed position as secretarius and court historiographer, and again serves in diplomatic affaires. He shows a remarkable talent for foreign languages.
After the outbreak of the Thirty-Years-War Rudolph goes to England, he will stay there from 1619 until his death 1653. He seems to have quit the Wuerttembergian and to have joined the kurfürstlich pfälzischen service – that is Heidelberg, the Palatinate (Ger., Eng.). 1627 he is in English service for the first time.
He is 43 years old, a skilful and experienced diplomat with special knowledge in the area of  “German”, especially palatine politics. The main aim of English foreign politics in this time is to restore the rule of the unfortunate Winterkönig Friedrich V. (Ger., Eng.), married to a sister of the English king, Elisabeth Stuart (Ger., Eng.). In the beginning of the war a front of the Protestant powers had been formed, but this alliance has been destroyed by the Emperor and the Spaniards, England seemed to be the last hope for the Protestant case.
Around 1622, when Wurttemberg took an exit out of the Protestant Union (Ger., Eng.) WECKHERLIN joined the palatinate services; after 1626 – the year count Peter Ernst von  Mansfeld (Ger., Eng.) died and the palatinate power only existed on paper and in emigration – he turnes towards England; he shows idealistic loyalty towards Protestantism, not too common in the 17th century.
Rudolph had lived for eight years in Dover and Canterbury, but now he goes to London. He is confirmed in his office and will keep it until 1641, when the civil war (Ger., Eng.) starts.
In this crucial situation WECKHERLIN decides against his upcoming, against his höfische Erziehung and his whole way of living (Er ist ein Hofmann!) in favour of the Parliament. But first he tries to find an exit and turns towards the European Protestant powers, like Sweden, Kurland, Wuerttemberg, offering his services as consul or representative – he is not accepted. So in 1643 he takes the side of the Parliament (Ger., Eng.) and in February 1644 becomes secretary of the Committee of Both Kingdoms (Eng.). Shortly after the execution of the king (Ger., Eng.; 1649, the French did it 144 years later, 1793) he asks for his demission of office. He is shortly reactivated when MILTON takes over.
From his marriage with Elizabeth RAWORTH origin a son and a daughter. His son follows the king into exile and only returns to England after his father’s death, he has no children. The daughter marries a William TRUMBULL (?) in 1638, her first son of the same name also becomes a diplomat and plays an important role in the literary life of the early 18th century. In the Hausarchiv of these descendants a lot of papers, letters and other source materials of the German-English poet and statesman WECKHERLIN were found – by FORSTER in the 1940s ! Strangely enough I find no mention of this, nor in FORSTER’s obituary, nor in the very short articles about WECKHERLIN.
FORSTER btw was a colleague of George Smiley, whom he met in Tuebingen and Koenigsberg in the 1930s, when they both were teaching at German universities; they seemingly met later in the war (maybe in hut 6 or 8, but it’s not confirmed).


Thing I Found

Spring. So I did what had to be done. And started a clearing operation in my bedroom. Books tend to build up in rings around my bed, they encircle me … I found the christmas edition of the village bulletin. Something strange printed on the cover. It’s one of these cut-it-out-glue-it-together-things.

Of course I cut.

Of course I glued.

The result may be open to discussion.  Finally a half-profile:


Smiley, George

The Brits are known for a – let’s call it carefree? – handling of top secret intellligence and in the eighties of last century a bad joke went, that reading the dailies and riding some notorious trains would be all the Russian resident had to do. So its no wonder that in times of youtube a clip of an internal meeting of the board was leaked showing, among others, rare footage of George Smiley.
In the seventies Smiley acted for the brief period of two years as chief of the British intelligence service, Saul Enderby was his successor. Despite the fact that Smiley used as camouflage the screen-name “Alec Guinness” and even appeared in some lesser known films throughout the twentieth century, his background and origines are something of a mystery, there is even not a confirmed date of birth given.
D.J. Moore Cornwell, himself a retired agent, was used as official biographer of Smiley, and in a recent interview he stated that he has lost track of his old chief a bit and imagines him living somewhere very retired keeping bees. Obviously this remark is a reference to Mr. Holmes who spent his later years beekeeping**, its more likely that George Smiley simply is dead. Cornwell’s books, of some literary value, should be seen as what they are meant to be, desinformation at its best.
Generally the dates produced by the official biographer and other sources are inconsistent. A concise biography is not to reach, a useful overview given in the German “biographical scetches” by R. Kost*.
Officially Smiley joined the circus 1928, but this is not very likely – Smiley has German roots, he admits at one point that he knows Hamburg from childhood days, he’s fluent in German. After graduating from Oxford (Blackwell’s?) he went to Germany as lector at a Southern small university (Tuebingen? Heidelberg?), maybe he did a kind of precontacting for the circus, but he officially joined only in the late 1930s. His scientific field was the German Baroque, 17th century’s literature especially, and he is saied to have been working on a biography of an obscure writer (Opitz? Kornmann?). He left Germany in the beginning of 1939 and the following years saw him travelling a lot through Europe. No easy task and his ability to camouflage, to vanish, was perfectioned. Four years in wartime are long and 1943 he came back home, bringing with him a nervous tick he struggled to control. As natural German speaker with all his knowledge he would have been an inestimable collaborator at Masterman‘s Double Cross system, but there is no proof for this.
Through the war he must have been to Ireland, because  in the seventies, when the situation really came out of hand he had as a kind of bodyguard an Irish-Scot known only as “Old K”, a trigger happy fellow of Smiley’s people who later worked for the Americans. Their relation seemingly dated back to 1944, but no details emerged.
Smiley is described as a small, corpulent (or plainly fat) man, his face dominated by large glasses. His wife, Lady Ann Sercomb, turned the vile remark of one of her relatives, who described Smiley at their wedding day as a “bullfrog”, into a loving nickname, calling him “her frog”. He asked her for her hand in marriage shortly after the end of the war, astoundingly she agreed. He started an academic career and 1947 she was away with a sportsman (footballer?). He joined the circus again. There was no divorce, sometimes George felt the need to bath in self-pity, but when she asked him to come by, sort things out or simply be there, he came and sorted and was. Smiley’s loyality was seemingly indestructable, and after all he loved her. She once told him that he was a talented lover and his foot massages were to die for.
Through the fifties and sixties he worked for the circus, a lot of travelling involved, slowly rising through the ranks. Sometimes he was regarded as being out of business, but he now and then turned up there for a tea – only since Enderby’s rule and the end of the “Karla-affaire” he was not seen anymore. The last “official” photograph was taken when he travelled to Jerusalem (1982?).

The footage shows an internal meeting under Enderby circa 1980, “Karla” is the code name for Smiley’s Russian opponent. Nothing “happens”, they only read papers. Sorry for the low sound.



A rare picture of young George, approximately eight years old, according to Kost found in the files of the circus, date and location unknown.
A picture allegedly showing Smiley during the war, date and location unknown.

A picture of “Karla”, unknown origin, no further details given.

* Kost, Rudi: Über George Smiley. Biographische Skizzen, Stuttgart 1985
** Homes, Sherlock: Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen, London et al. 1902