And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

26 April

1821
Mary Browne,
young woman

‘We went to see the panorama of Naples: it was a beautiful view, there were a number of vessels in the bay; after one had looked long at them, one could fancy they were moving: in one of the boats there were some ladies sitting under a crimson canopy; in another some fruit; in one place there were some men fishing for mullet in a kind of round net, with fishes jumping through it; there was a man swimming with a basket in one hand, and several other figures; the ships were painted very gay colours, the water and the sky were as clear as crystal, and the whole so natural that one could hardly persuade oneself that it was not reality. The next panorama we saw was the battle of Waterloo: it was not near so pretty as Naples, it seemed all confusion; the farmhouse, however, was very natural, also some of the black horses. We next went to the panorama of Lausanne: the Lake of Geneva was very like Keswick Lake, but the lower end not so pretty; the mountains did not look very high. There were a great number of trees; some of them had on kind of covers, which looked like tombstones; the white railings and the shadows of the trees were remarkably natural; there were several figures, the prettiest was a little child learning to walk.

We went to St. Paul’s, and just walked through it. I thought it very fine, but spoiled by the blackness. I had no idea of the height till I observed some people in the gallery, who looked no bigger than flies; the pillars were very thick. In our way to St. Paul’s we passed by Perry’s glass-shop; in the window there was a curtain of glass drops, with two tassels; it had a very pretty effect, and when the sun shone it appeared all colours, but when we entered the shop it was quite beautiful, there were such numbers of large glass lamps hanging from the ceiling, and chandeliers, etc., in all parts. We saw the jugs belonging to a dessert-set for a Spanish nobleman, which was to cost twelve hundred pounds. Also a picture of a lamp which the King had had made there: it was gilt dragons with lotuses in their mouths; in these the lamps were placed so as to be quite hid. I should think it would be more curious than pretty. We passed by Green Park, and saw Lord William Gordon’s house, which has a very nice garden. We drove through Hyde Park; the trees were very pretty, and the leaves far out; we passed very near the Serpentine. It was excessively hot weather.’

The French lack of delicacy

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1834
Edmund Franklin Ely,
missionary and teacher

‘This afternoon, an Indian came to the House (who had previously given to Mr [William] Davenport’s man, the result of his hunt -) who had taken a credit last fall, - & instead of paying his credit, wanted to trade the amo of his Pack. Mr D. told him he must pay his credit - the Indian refused. [the Indian] raised himself up his knife in his hand. Mr D. caught a lance, which was at hand, & told the Ind. to be peacable, or consequences might follow. The Ind. was intimidated, & put by his knife, after waiting an hour or more, & seeing that Mr D. was not to be moved, the Ind. settled his business & - went off. It is a common thing - for some Stubborn Ind to endeavor to intimidate the traders [by] drawing their knives, & the only way is, for the trader to show them, that he is not afraid of him. . . let an Indian see that you are perfectly calm & determined, & he will quail before you.’

Not counting hedge hogs

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1842
William Whewell,
theologian and academic

‘Went to London to visit my wife’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Marshall, 41 Upper Grosvenor Street. I took with me to London the Draft of the College Statutes as revised by the Seniority, at the various preceding sittings. I reported to the Home Secretary, Sir J. Graham, that this revision was in progress, explained to him the general principles on which it had proceeded, and pointed out the few instances in which the privileges of the Crown were concerned, viz. (1.) Visitatorial power, (2.) Power of giving leave of absence, (3.) Power of appointing ten paupers. He informed me that he should lay the draft before the Attorney and Solicitor-General, and at a subsequent interview agreed to do so, while it was still unconfirmed by the Seniors. I also saw the Solicitor-General and the Attorney-General, who agreed to consider the unconfirmed draft; and I explained to them that the College did not expect or wish that they should suggest anything except what concerned the prerogatives of the Crown or the course of Law. For the purpose of consideration, I had two transcripts of the revised Statutes made, for which I paid 11l. 6s. I left one of these and a printed copy of the Statutes with Sir James Graham.’

Master of Trinity College

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1915
Aubrey Herbert,
diplomat

‘At 5 o’clock yesterday our artillery began to land. It’s a very rough country; the Mediterranean macchia everywhere, and steep, winding valleys. We slept on a ledge a few feet above the beech . . . Firing went on all night. In the morning it was very cold, and we were all soaked. The Navy, it appeared, had landed us in the wrong place. This made the Army extremely angry, though as things turned out it was the one bright spot. Had we landed anywhere else, we should have been wiped out.’

Herbert goes to war

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1943
George Adamson,
conservationist

‘I realised today that Joy has doubts about our marriage being a success. My God - is she another Juliette? No, it can’t be, she is in a very nervous state over the divorce and it is understandable.’

A life of Joy and lions

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1945
Elizabeth Smart,
writer

‘It is unbearable loving George. I always knew he (wouldn’t) couldn’t come and yet I always expect him and sit in that insane fever of anticipation no matter how I keep telling myself his coming is out of the question. What can I possibly do? I really can’t bear it. It gets worse, not better. He won’t let me leave him, yet he won’t stay with me. he won’t settle my difficulties, and yet he won’t let me try and settle them for myself. I love him desperately, but he continually ruins my hopes that we are going to lead a happy married life together. I always believe that this time it will really happen and there is never anything but the same disappointments and frustrations. He never comes when he says he will. He always stays away two or three times as long as he says he will. He always vanishes and lets me sit waiting for him in my best clothes, relishing the hour to come. O God George, can’t you see that I can’t bear this life of continual frustration and solitude? Suddenly one day I will crack, snap, break in two and BE GONE.’

O God George, can’t you see

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1972
Alfred Kazin,
literary critic

‘Met Isaac Bashevis Singer in the Braniff waiting room at Laguardia. [. . .] He makes an impression on all around him even when they are not exactly sure who or what he is. His bags (which he insisted on carrying at all times) were crammed with mss. in large manila envelopes. He writes on loose pages torn out of school exercise books, and said, among other wonderful things, that the Jews hypnotize the outsiders & then get hated when they themselves desert “their” cause (i.e., first Christianity & then Marxism). He brightened up (without the help of any strong meat or drink whatsoever) at dinner, became positively pixieish at times. The essential solitude of the man, a kind of genial indifference to the world while happily tasting its money, prizes, etc. (his only recreation is travel) was very noticeable. It no longer matters where he is; he does not believe in anything outside his creative mind & fancies.’

The literary profession

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1980
Alan Clark
, politician

‘But goodness, she is so beautiful; made up to the nines of course, for the television programme, but still quite bewitching, as Eva Peron must have been. I could not take my eyes off her and after a bit she, quite properly, would not look me in the face and I detached myself from the group with the excuse that I was going up to heckle Michael Foot who was doing the winding-up for Labour.’ [In the cafeteria in the House of Commons, after Thatcher had been interviewed by Robin Day for Panorama.]

Thatcher gives a cuddle

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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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