And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

18 April

1497
Vasco da Gama,
explorer

‘On Wednesday, after dinner, when the king came up close to the ships in a zavra, the captain-major at once entered one of his boats, which had been well furnished, and many friendly words were exchanged when they lay side by side. The king having invited the captain-major to come to his house to rest, after which he (the king) would visit him on board his ship, the captain-major said that he was not permitted by his master to go on land, and if he were to do so a bad report would be given of him. The king wanted to know what would be said of himself by his people if he were to visit the ships, and what account could he render them? He then asked for the name of our king, which was written down for him, and said that on our return he would send an ambassador with us, or a letter.

When both had said all they desired, the captain-major sent for the Moors whom he had taken prisoner, and surrendered them all. This gave much satisfaction to the king, who said that he valued this act more highly than if he had been presented with a town. And the king, much pleased, made the circuit of our ships, the bombards of which fired a salute. About three hours were spent in this way. When the king went away he left in the ship one of his sons and a sharif, and took two of us away with him, to whom he desired to show his palace. He, moreover, told the captain that as he would not go ashore he would himself return on the following day to the beach, and would order his horsemen to go through some exercises.

The king wore a robe (royal cloak) of damask trimmed with green satin, and a rich touca. He was seated on two cushioned chairs of bronze, beneath a round sunshade of crimson satin attached to a pole. An old man, who attended him as page, carried a short sword in a silver sheath. There were many players on anafils, and two trumpets of ivory, richly carved, and of the size of a man, which were blown from a hole in the side, and made sweet harmony with the anafils.’

Cloves, cumin, ginger

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1678
John Evelyn,
writer

‘I went to see new Bedlam Hospital, magnificently built, and most sweetly placed in Moorfields, since the dreadful fire in London.’

A most excellent person

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1706
John Flamsteed,
astronomer

‘Mr. Hudson here told me, if I would go up, Sir I. Newton would go to the Prince’s treasurer with me; urged me much: I went on the 19th mane: Sir Isaac was very grave: told me that, the Prince having subscribed a great sum to the Emperor’s loan, the whole money could not be received: that he had taken up monies for Mr. Churchill: would say nothing, when I asked if he had taken up also to pay me for my calculators; but that he must give bond to Mr. Churchill: I told him he had my catalogue and papers in his hands: he answered slightingly, that the catalogue was imperfect, which he knew when he received it sealed up, and was contented with it: I desired my MSS back, to correct the faults of the press: he told me we must go on slowly at first, quicker after, that in a few weeks he would return my MSS: Dr. Grey is at Oxford; suppose will not return till after term time: he must be paid for the needless collations, and they cannot be finished till his return: all this insincere practice I must bear, so long as God thinks fit: may his goodness deliver me speedily.’

The first Astronomer Royal

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1719
Thomas Hearne,
antiquary

‘A present has been made me of a book called The Antiquities of Barkshire, by Elias Ashmole, esq. London, printed for E. Curll, in Fleet-street, 1719. 8vo in three volumes. It was given me by my good friend Thomas Rawlinson, esq. As soon as I opened it, and looked into it, I was amazed at the abominable impudence, ignorance, and carelessness of the publisher, and I can hardly ascribe all this to any one else than to that villain Curll. Mr. Ashmole is made to have written abundance of things since his death. All is ascribed to him, and yet a very great part of what is mentioned happened since he died. For, as many of the persons died after him, so the inscriptions mentioned in this book were made and fixed since his death also. Besides, what is taken from Mr. Ashmole is most fraudulently done. The epitaphs are falsely printed, and his words and sense most horribly perverted. What Mr. Ashmole did was done very carefully, as appears from the original in the museum, where also are his exact draughts of the most considerable monuments, of which there is no notice in this strange rhapsody. I call it a rhapsody, because there is no method nor judgement observed in it, nor one dram of true learning. Some things are taken from my edition of Leland, but falsely printed, and I cannot but complain of the injury done me.’

Remarks and collections

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1861
John Milton Hay,
politician

‘The White House is turned into barracks. Jim Lane marshalled his Kansas warriors to-day at Willard’s and placed them at the disposal of Maj. Hunter, who turned them tonight into the East Room. It is a splendid company - worthy of such an armory. Besides the western Jayhawkers it comprises some of the best materiel of the East. Senator Pomeroy and old Anthony Bleecker stood shoulder to shoulder in the ranks. Jim Lane walked proudly up and down the ranks with a new sword that the Major had given him. The Major has made me his aid, and I labored under some uncertainty as to whether I should speak to privates or not. [. . .]

All day the notes of preparation have been heard at the public buildings and the Armories. Everybody seems to be expecting a Son or brother or “young man” in the coming regiments.

To-night Edward brought me a card from Mrs. Ann S. Stephens expressing a wish to see the President on matters concerning his personal safety. As the Ancient was in bed, I volunteered to receive the harrowing communication. Edward took me to the little room adjoining the hall and I waited. Mrs. Stephens, who is neither young nor yet fair to any miraculous extent came in leading a lady, who was a little of both whom she introduced as Mrs. Col. Lander. I was delighted at this chance interview with the Medea, the Julia the Mona Lisa of my stage-struck days. After many hesitating and bashful trials, Mrs. Lander told the impulse that brought them. Some young Virginian long-haired swaggering chivalrous of course and indiscreet friend had come into town in great anxiety for a new saddle, and meeting her had said that he and half a dozen others including a daredevil guerilla from Richmond named Ficklin would do a thing within forty-eight hours that would ring through the world. Connecting this central fact with a multiplicity of attendant details she concluded that the President was either to be assassinated or captured. She ended by renewing her protestations of earnest solicitude mingled with fears of the impropriety of the step. Lander has made her very womanly since he married her. Imagine Jean M. Davenport a blushing hesitating wife!

They went away and I went to the bedside of the Chief couché. I told him the yarn; he quietly grinned.

Going to my room, I met the Captain. He was a little boozy and very eloquent. He dilated on the troubles of the time and bewailed the existence of a garrison in the White House, “to give éclat to Jim Lane.”

Hill Lamon came in about midnight saying that Cash. Clay was drilling a splendid company at Willard’s Hall and that the town was in a general tempest of enthusiastic excitement. which not being very new, I went to sleep.’

The witty, dapper Mr. Hay

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1882
Emma Darwin,
wife of biologist

‘Ditto [i.e. of previous day’s entry]
Fatal attack at 12’

Darwin and his diaries

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In general, these diary extracts are quoted as given in the published (book or online) source referred to in the reference articles. Each extract may be all, a large part of, or a small part of the complete entry for that day. I have tried to indicate where text has been removed from within a quote by the use of trailing dots in square bracket.

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