And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

20 April

1499
Cesare Borgia,
priest and politician

‘On Saturday, the 20th of April, 1499, the Pope received a letter from France advising him that the marriage contract had been concluded by the former Cardinal Cesare Borgia and the Lord d’Albret in the name of his daughter, by which, as was reported, and as it was in fact set down in the contract, the Pope was to give a dowry of 200,000 ducats, and the marriage was not to be performed until his Holiness had nominated the brother of the bride a cardinal.’

An orgy in the Vatican

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1814
Mary Berry,
writer

‘I went this evening to see Lady H. Leveson, to arrange our going to her sister’s empty house to see the entry of the King of France [Louis XVIII had taken over as de facto ruler of France on 11 April after Napoleon’s defeat]. The streets and the park were, before twelve o’clock, filled with people and carriages; the latter were not allowed to enter the park. At five o’clock we saw seven carriages of the Prince Regent’s pass, drawn by six horses, in dress livery, preceded by several hundreds of gentlemen on horseback, and accompanied and followed by a detachment of Light Horse and the Blues; but that was all we saw, because from Park Street the distance was too great to see well into the carriages, and, if we could have seen so far, the people on foot, and the crowd on the rails and walls of the park, would have prevented our doing so. The people took off their hats and saluted the carriages as they passed with much goodwill, but without the least enthusiasm.’

My only anxiety

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1853
Peter Hawker,
soldier and hunter

‘Another remarkable circumstance - and a lucky one for me, who could eat nothing more nourishing than fish - the trout in our river, which were not even eatable when broiled till near July, have come in many months before their time, and ate better than I have known them to be for these last twenty years. One of my fishery tenants, Mr. Macleod, in the first week of March, had killed, in a severe winter’s day, 15 brace with a fly, and he kindly sent me a few as red and as good as salmon. This phenomenon is accounted for by the continued rains flooding all the low lands, and washing down constant winter food for the fish, which, notwithstanding the severe winter that afterwards cut up everything in March and April, never lost their high condition.’

A life spent hunting

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1858
Barbara Bodichon,
artist

‘A cold, pelting rain and as dreary a day as ever I saw. At half past eight we set out to walk to the N. Pennsylvania Rail Station to go to City Lane to see Lucretia Mott. At the Station we saw a ‘Rockaway’ standing in the pelting rain, a fat little horse and well-to-do-looking old ‘friend.’ We had no doubt been expected in spite of the detestable weather and this was Friend Mott, no doubt come for us. Yes. So in we got and drove through what must be a very pretty park which encloses the villas of Friend Thomas Mott and some of his relations. Arrived at a pleasant-looking country house, we are received at the door by one of the four daughters of the house and led into a pretty, bright-looking room, and Lucretia Mott greets us as cordially as if we were really ‘Friend Barbara’ and ‘Friend Bodichon.’ She looks just like a picture. I never saw such a dress, like a pearl. I fell in love with her immediately. She looks ‘full of grace’ in every sense of the word. I do not wonder her preaching has stirred so many souls, her aspect is eloquent, her smile full of good things. She seems to be full of vigour and looks in perfect health, though I believe she is seventy years old. She asked me about Lord Byron, Friend Elizabeth Reid and Julia Smith spoke of them, all three with great regard, especially Friend Elizabeth Reid. She put her hands on my shoulders and said how happy it made her to see that the young women of England were thinking about their rights and trying to do something for justice and freedom. She asked me about Eliza Ton and Bessie Parkes and Mrs. J. Shill especially and I told her as well as I could the number of women and the principle powers on the side of Women’s Rights in England. When she was in England (1840?), she says, the idea was scouted and no women she met in England dared to advocate the rights of women. She seemed absolutely to chuckle with glee to hear that we hold all that she and ‘the Friends’ advocate and only wait to claim the suffrage because it would be useless to try for it now. Massachusetts must make that move - and will, I believe - before many years are passed. So at least the women think.

It is a pleasure to see thouroughgoing reformers who are not poor - it is so rare to see rich people really given to reform ideas. When I see a rich woman like Lucretia Mott advocating a cause which is yet in the rotten-egg stage (I mean its advocates are apt to have rotten eggs and dirtier words thrown at them), I think there is some hope of the rich getting through the eye of the needle into heaven.

Lucretia Mott asked me many questions about the South and slavery, and I told her what I have told you of the wonderful eloquence of the black preachers, of the sales at N. Orleans, the general well-being of the coloured population (compared to white) in Louisiana, of the secret schools, and of the widespread knowledge among the slaves of the efforts made to emancipate.

Lucretia Mott showed me a mass of Woman’s Right literature and I made my pick for the benefit of B.R.P. and M.H., and she showed me her books of notes for lectures with extracts and little quotations so nicely put together, and as we looked them over she gave me little accounts of the occasions on which they were used. She says all the Women’s Rights conventions have been quiet, orderly and dignified and that the rumours of their vulgarity are absolutely unfounded. This Mr. Mott confirmed and said they were more orderly than conventions held by men.

Of course we had a nice dinner and no wine but delicious tea. Bessie remembers Miss Pugh. She was there and her sister, and I was charmed with them. Fanny Priestly is coming to stay with them.

I was very happy that they had remarked one of my drawings - the ‘sunset over corn and willow land’ which was exhibited here in the English Ex: and now gone to Boston.

Please let Mrs. Reid know that I have seen her friends and how pleasant it was to me to feel a link between such good people.

My Doctor was delighted with the whole family as much as I was, and we drove away with good Friend Mott in the rockaway to the station in a most satisfied state of mind and soaking rain. Mrs. Howitt’s niece Miss Harrison is going to marry into this society and I think she could not do better; Lucretia Mott is a heart. I wish we had in England ten thousand good as she.

Tomorrow we go to an anti-slavery meeting with Mrs. Mott and you shall hear what else we do. But I shall post this when we are in town.’Campaigning for women’s rights

Campaigning for women’s rights

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1904
Isaac Albéniz,
composer

‘The ideal formula in art ought to be ‘variety within logic’.’

Albéniz and Liszt (or not)

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1912
Clifford Crease,
mechanic

‘Steaming towards wreck passed by several Icebergs. Arrived at spot where ship went down at seven fifteen and lay too all night till day - light. A large Iceberg about four miles from ship suppose to be the one Titanic struck lots of wreckage floating about, four bodies passed by through the night, and picked up later on.’

Recovering Titanic bodies

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1912
Frederick Hamilton,
engineer

‘Strong south-westily breeze, beam swell and lumpy sea. French liner “Rochambeau” near us last night, reported icebergs, and the “Royal Edward” reported one thirty miles east of the “Titanic”s” position. The “Rhine” passed us this afternoon, and reported having seen icebergs, wreckage and bodies, at 5.50.p.m. The “Bremen” passed near us, she reported having seen, one hour and a half before, bodies etc. This means about twenty five miles to the east. 7.p.m. A large iceberg, faintly discernible to our north, we are now very near the area were lie the ruins of so many human hopes and prayers. The Embalmer becomes more and more cheerful as we approach the scene of his future professional activities, to-morrow will be a good day for him. The temperature of the sea at noon today was 57N, by 4.p.m. it was 32N.’

Recovering Titanic bodies

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1918
Michael Macdonagh,
journalist

‘To-day I was brought into contact with the most important of women’s War activities next to the munition-workers - the girls of the Land Army. They had a recruiting procession in London and a meeting in Hyde Park. Before the War there were not more than 90,000 women employed on the land; there are now 260,000. [. . .] The stretch of grass in Hyde Park where the meeting was held was like a farmyard there were so many pens with lambs, pigs, ducks and hens.’

The drama of London in WWI

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