And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

30 April

1671
Thomas Isham,
aristocrat

‘Michael Wright . . . while pulling and handling the largest church bell unskilfully, threw it over, which pulled him up to the ceiling and nearly knocked his brains out; I know for certain that his leg is broken . . .’

Son eaten by sow

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1862
John Evelyn Denison,
politician

‘I have been named by the Queen as one of the Commissioners to represent Her Majesty on the occasion of opening the International Exhibition. I wrote to Lord Eversley to ask him how I should go dressed on such an occasion. He answered, in plain black gown and wig. I forwarded this opinion to the Lord Chancellor, who repelled the idea in a very amusing letter, and said he had settled to go in his gold gown; he saw no necessary connection between the gold gown and the gold coach. I have decided against the lumbering gold coach for many reasons: 1) I should probably stick fast in the new granite; 2) I should have to go at a foot’s pace while in company with others who could and would trot; 3) I could not bear to drag all the officers of the House and my servants on foot such a long distance. I am not going to Court to pay my respects to the Queen; I am not going with the House of Commons as a body, and at their head.’

A dignified Speaker

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1841
Karl Varnhagen von Ense,
diplomat and soldier

‘Humboldt has a great many enemies, as well amongst the savans as at court, who are constantly seeking an opportunity to malign him, but the moment he is praised all vituperation ceases for it is all vituperation. It is seldom that anybody is able to maintain it. Some time ago a gentleman said to me, that he did not know what to think of Humboldt, and that he could not come to a conclusion concerning him. I answered: ‘Think always the best of him, believe him always capable of the best action, and you always will be nearest the truth.’ Another said, same day, sneeringly: ‘Humboldt was a great man before he came to Berlin, where he became an ordinary one.’

Humboldt’s genius

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1915
Edith Cavell,
nurse

‘Friday glorious and warm. E: wind. 2 guides left this morning. Charles Vanderlinden with 3 Fx and 2 Be. (1F Cw!). Last two paying 60 frs each. Charles says he will take them if it becomes easier.’

The brave Edith Cavell

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1917
Josephus Daniels,
politician and businessman

‘Admiral Gleaves complained that destroyers were taken from him & given to Sims. Then Mayo plead for him & wished him made a Vice Admiral. Never.

Council of National Defense. Houstons resolution to give President power to fix prices and make prohibition. . . . Denman wished U.S. to build ships instead of England so after the war we would have them. Opposed Schwab’s plan of building for England.

12.40: Went to see President. Talked about sending our ships to England & France & decided to send 36 & try to secure other small craft- Must act now- He did not like Com named by L & W - all of them had fought shipping bill.’

Secretary to the Navy

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1924
Gottlob Frege,
philosopher

‘One can acknowledge that there are Jews of the highest respectability, and yet regard it as a misfortune that there are so many Jews in Germany, and that they have complete equality of political rights with citizens of Aryan descent; but how little is achieved by the wish that the Jews in Germany should lose their political rights or better yet vanish from Germany. If one wanted laws passed to remedy these evils, the first question to be answered would be: How can one distinguish Jews from non-Jews for certain? That may have been relatively easy sixty years ago. Now, it appears to me to be quite difficult. Perhaps one must be satisfied with fighting the ways of thinking [Gesinnung] which show up in the activities of the Jews and are so harmful, and to punish exactly these activities with the loss of civil rights and to make the achievement of civil rights more difficult.’

Reprehensible social views

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1937
Benjamin Britten,
composer

‘I have a rehearsal with Boult of H. F. at BBCC at 11:30 - it goes quite well, tho’ he doesn’t really grasp the work - tho’ he is marvellously painstaking. Sophie of course sings well. Lunch after with her & Arnold jun., & John &; Millicent Francis. Then I meet Poppy Vulliamy & have long talks with her. She goes off to Spain very soon to look after the evacuated children from Madrid & Malaga. I have agreed to adopt one & pay for him for a year. Back here in the aft. & then out to dinner with Peter Piers & Basil Douglas - very nice, but sad as we have to discuss what is best about Peter Burra’s things. BBC. Contemporary concert after cond. by Boult - BBC orch They do my Hunting Fathers very creditably - I am awfully pleased with it too, I’m afraid. Some things don’t satisfy me at the moment - but its my op. 1 alright.’

Benjamin Britten’s centenary

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1942
Charles Kikuchi,
Nurse

‘Berkeley. Today is the day that we are going to get kicked out of Berkeley. It certainly is degrading. I am down here in the control station and I have nothing to do so I am jotting down these notes! The Army Lieutenant over there doesn’t want any of the photographers to take pictures of these miserable people waiting for the Greyhound bus because he thinks that the American public might get a sympathetic attitude towards them.

I’m supposed to see my family at Tanforan as Jack told me to give the same family number. I wonder how it is going to be living with them as I haven’t done this for years and years? I should have gone over to San Francisco and evacuated with them, but I had a last final to take. I understand that we are going to live in the horse stalls. I hope that the Army has the courtesy to remove the manure first.

This morning I went over to the bank to close my account and the bank teller whom I have never seen before solemnly shook my hand and he said, “Goodbye, have a nice time.” I wonder if that isn't the attitude of the American people? They don’t seem to be bitter against us, and I certainly don’t think I am any different from them. That General De Witt certainly gripes my ass because he has been listening to the Associated Farmers too much.

Oh, oh, there goes a “thing” in slacks and she is taking pictures of that old Issei lady with a baby. She says she is the official photographer, but I think she ought to leave these people alone. The Nisei around here don’t seem to be so sad. They look like they are going on a vacation. They are all gathered around the bulletin board to find out the exact date of their departure. “When are you leaving?” they are saying to one another. Some of those old Issei men must have gone on a binge last night because they smell like sake.

Mitch just came over to tell us that I was going on the last bus out of Berkeley with him. Oh, how lucky I am! The Red Cross lady just told me that she would send a truck after my baggage and she wants the phone number. I never had a phone in that dump on Haste Street.

I have a queer sensation and it doesn’t seem real. There are smiling faces all around me and there are long faces and gloomy faces too. All kinds of Japanese and Caucasian faces around this place. Soon they will be neurotic cases. Wang thinks that he has an empty feeling in his stomach and I told him to go get a hamburger upstairs because the Church people are handing out free food. I guess this is a major catastrophe so I guess we deserve some free concessions.

The Church people around here seem so nice and full of consideration saying, “Can we store your things?” “Do you need clothes?” “Sank you,” the Issei smile even now though they are leaving with hearts full of sorrow. But the Nisei around here seem pretty bold and their manners are brazen.

They are demanding service. I guess they are taking advantage of their college educations after all. “The Japs are leaving, hurrah, hurrah!” some little kids are yelling down the street but everybody ignores them. Well, I have to go up to the campus and get the results of my last exam and will barely be able to make it back here in time for the last bus. God, what a prospect to look forward to living among all those Japs!’

The Americanization process

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1946
James Evershed Agate,
writer

‘Cold and cheerless. Nothing to do, and nothing to see except ex-repertory actresses trundling about on bicycles. Diarised and got chilled to the bone sitting on Flamborough Head. To the pictures (twice), after which Harry entertained us with card tricks - which he has not done for twenty years - and it was all very, very Tchehovian.’

Not careless jottings

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1991
Joe DiMaggio,
sportsman

‘. . . was asked for another autograph - just one interruption after another - people must think I have skin like an armored plate. Will get a checkup and find out how I’m holding up.’ [At Kennedy Airport]

DiMaggio’s diary - $33 a word

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