And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

3 April

1843
Richard Henry Dana Jr.,
lawyer

‘Spent the forenoon in court hearing Choate and Dexter in United States v. Le Crow, indicted for withholding provisions from his crew. Choate made a good argument, but flowery, overstrained and extravagant. Dexter was admirable. That man always seeks to come down upon his case. He seems to be a gentleman practising law, and not a mere lawyer. Calm, courteous, liberal and high-minded man.

A very troublesome case of professional difficulty has been harassing me for a week or two. A captain and mate of a merchant vessel were complained of for causing the death of the steward, a poor negro. The facts, as testified to by the men at the preliminary examination, were these: That the master and mate flogged the steward badly about four P. M. for insolence, etc. That the steward then went about his business for an hour or two. That he was again, about eight P. M., flogged, kicked and beaten badly by the master alone, so badly as would have caused the death of many men, as the crew believed. That after this last beating the captain ordered the mate to assist in taking the steward into the cabin. The mate did so. They lifted him in, he groaning like a dying man. After this the crew saw no more. There were no passengers, and no one in the cabin but the master and officers. The second mate was in his state-room, and swore that he knew nothing of the matter. The next morning, when the cook went to call the steward, he found him dead. The cook told the master and officers, and they went to his berth, and there found a glass stopple. They then went to the medicine chest, and the laudanum bottle was missing. They then said that the steward poisoned himself. The crew doubted this story.

The preliminary examination took place, and the master and mate were bound over to appear before the Grand Jury. In the interval the mate came to me and told me that he wished to ask my advice and to retain me as his counsel. He said he had a distinct defence from his captain, and must have separate advice and defence. He then told me confidentially, as his counsel, the whole story. When he had assisted the master in taking the steward into the cabin, they set him in a chair and found him dead. The captain then said, “Then I am in difficulty. You must assist me.” They then took the steward, laid him in his berth, the captain got the laudanum bottle from the medicine chest, poured out the laudanum, and placed the empty bottle and stopple by the side of the berth, and then they went to bed.

This was the case. All the facts testified to by the crew sustained its probability. It was stated solemnly, and was somewhat unfavorable to the communicator of it. Here then was, as I could not doubt, a case of manslaughter, if not of murder. Yet my knowledge of the facts came to me in the sacred character of a professional communication. I could not use them against my client. The law, as well as my own sense of justice and of the reason grounded in the policy of the profession, would forbid my divulging it. Unless a man can be safe in making a communication to his counsel, there would be an end of defences against every charge. I had received it, too, from a man who had a right and was able to keep his own secret under the implied, if not express, promise of secrecy. On the other hand, unless some use was made of the mate’s testimony, the master would go unpunished. I did all in my power to persuade the mate to go to the prosecuting officer and divulge the story, and promised him my assistance, and assured him that he would be safe; but he would not become state’s evidence, and he said it would ruin him with his employers, who were connected with the master, and being a foreigner he had nowhere else to look for support.

In this state I had to stand by and see the case changed from a charge of homicide to one of mere assault and battery for want of sufficient evidence. I did, several times, in conversation, express a strong opinion to a prosecuting officer, grounded on the evidence in court alone, however, that an indictment for manslaughter would be sustained against the master. But he would not risk it.

The trial comes on this week. I am to defend the mate; and that I can do with a clear conscience, for I believe him innocent even of an unjustifiable assault; but to stand by in silence and see a guilty man escape, when the weapon to convict him is in my own hand, is hard indeed. I have struggled against a desire to divulge, in some secret manner, the truth and the means of getting at it to the prosecuting officer. But I feel it would be wrong. I am merely unfortunate in possessing this painful knowledge.’

The slurs of vessel owners

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1860
William Marjouram,
soldier

‘Today I mounted guard for the first time in New Zealand. I had charge of the main guard, and at night a drunken prisoner was committed to my care. He was so riotous that I was compelled to bind him hand and foot.’

Frightfully tomahawked

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1893
Archduke Franz Ferdinand

‘The sky was very cloudy and a rainsquall was pouring down in heavy drops, drumming against the deck but quickly evaporate in the heat. Church service was therefore held in the battery.

Still during the morning appeared the Sayer islands, Salang island off the Panga peninsula, in the afternoon the Brothers islands became visible. All these small islands seem to be of volcanic origin, viewed through a spyglass, and thickly covered with tropical vegetation.

During the day we observed tide rips or stream currents that are very common in the Strait of Malacca; these are wave movements that are caused by counter-currents that move in stripes across the otherwise quiet sea and make the steering much more difficult as they cause the ship to drift from its course. I might compare these currents to a quickly flowing watercourse in a sea that flings out foaming, dancing waves at the surface.

An outstanding number of flying fishes, large schools of dolphins as well as fish similar to tuna were mingling. The latter ones pursued, jumping out of the water, smaller fish while these in turn were followed by large birds similar to common dabs that I could not determine more precisely.

The evening was tepid and mild, so that I whiled away an hour on the bridge before I went to sleep, fanned by the the cool evening air, lost in the view of the southern starry sky which I consider by the way inferior in diversity, beauty and splendor of the zodiacs to the northern sky.’

The Archduke’s travels

**************************************************************************************

1944
Wilhelm Reich,
doctor

‘A new member of society: Ernst Peter Robert Reich, my son. Bom at 1 a.m. after great pain. His facial expression is “earnest” and “pensive.” I hope he remains that way. Eva and the nurses claim that he’s very much like me. He immediately began nursing with quiet eagerness. No difficulties at all. In utero he experienced many a wave of his parents’ orgastic pleasure.

Numerous interrelated facts have given rise to my conviction that sexual lifelessness in a mother is harmful to the child in her womb. Conversely, I feel that experiencing the pleasure of the mother’s body is natural and promotes a child's development.’

The existence of orgonity

**************************************************************************************

1945
Joseph Goebbels,
politician

‘At the daily briefing conferences the Luftwaffe comes in for the sharpest criticism from the Führer. Day after day Göring has to listen without being in the position to demur at all. Colonel-General Stumpff, for instance, refused to subordinate himself to Kesselring for the new operations planned in the West. The Führer called him sharply to order saying that the relative positions of Kesselring and Stumpff were similar to those of him and Schaub. In the West, of course, it is now and for the immediate future a continuous process of muddling through. We are in the most critical and dangerous phase of this war and one sometimes has the impression that the German people, fighting at the height of the war crisis, has broken out in a sweat impossible for the non-expert to distinguish as the precursor of death or recovery.’

We can conquer the world

**************************************************************************************

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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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The Diary Junction is one of those wonderful privately maintained public resources for which the Internet is justly celebrated: a database of information about celebrated and obscure diaries[over 500] from all historical periods, with referrals to the dates the diaries cover, where the originals are held and bibliographic information on published versions.’ Laura Miller, Salon

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