And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

8 April

1497
Vasco da Gama,
explorer

‘On Palm Sunday the King of Mombaça sent the captain-major a sheep and large quantities of oranges, lemons and sugar-cane, together with a ring, as a pledge of safety, letting him know that in case of his entering the port he would be supplied with all he stood in need of. This present was conveyed to us by two men, almost white, who said they were Christians, which appeared to be the fact. The captain-major sent the king a string of coral-beads as a return present, and let him know that he purposed entering the port on the following day. On the same day the captain-major’s vessel was visited by four Moors of distinction.

Two men were sent by the captain-major to the king, still further to confirm these peaceful assurances. When these landed they were followed by a crowd as far as the gates of the palace. Before reaching the king they passed through four doors, each guarded by a doorkeeper with a drawn cutlass. The king received them hospitably, and ordered that they should be shown over the city. They stopped on their way at the house of two Christian merchants, who showed them a paper (carta), an object of their adoration, on which was a sketch of the Holy Ghost. When they had seen all, the king sent them back with samples of cloves, pepper and corn, with which articles he would allow us to load our ships.’

Cloves, cumin, ginger

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1783
Joseph Martin Kraus,
composer

‘The eighth was the same academy [as the sixth]. All of my earlier comments also apply here. Instead of the previous musical interlude (i.e., the HarmoniemusikJ, I heard Herr (Ludwig) Gehring on the flute. The tuning of his instrument was a half-step sharp, and I didn’t think that the year he was gone from Gottingen had done him as much good as it could have. The piece by [Friedrich] Graf was wonderful, as usual (p. 6r-7r].’

Fire in the music

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1849
Thomas Babington Macaulay,
politician and historian

‘Lichfield. Easter Sunday. After the service was ended we went over the Cathedral. When I stood before the famous children by Chantrey, I could think only of one thing; that, when last I was there, in 1832, my dear sister Margaret was with me and that she was greatly affected. I could not command my tears and was forced to leave our party, and walk about by myself.’

Such an idle man

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1865
Lewis Carroll,
writer

‘University Boat Race (it always is on the day before Palm Sunday, according to the Evening Herald), which Oxford won by 10 lengths. I did not go to it, but gave the day to Macmillan, Tenniel (who is doing the 30th picture), Holman Hunt, whom I found working at a very large picture (life size or nearly so) of Mrs. Fairbairn and children. Thence I went to the MacDonalds, and had a game of croquet with them.’

Dodgson in wonderland

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1899
Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory,
playwright

‘The Jack Yeatses arrived yesterday - He is too good an artist to leave to Devonshire, I want to keep him to Irish things.’

Yeats very charming

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1934
George Kennan,
diplomat

‘I have always thought of literature as a type of history: the portrayal of a given class at a given time, with all its problems, its suffering and its hopes, etc. For that reason, the diplomatic corps has always defied literary approach. From that point of view, it is too insignificant, too accidental, to warrant description.

Perhaps that is all wrong. Perhaps they should be described simply as human beings, not as diplomats (so-called) of the twentieth century. If Chekhov could describe Russian small town folk with an appeal so universal that even the American reader gasps and says: “How perfectly true,” why cannot the Moscow diplomatic folk be written up the same way.’

George Kennan’s diaries

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1942
Thomas Dooley,
soldier

‘Bataan fell!’ [Dooley added this entry in the top margin after recording the event.]

‘A new day which I hope proves to be no worse than yesterday. The II Corps pulled back during the night to a line approximately thru Lumao. All Filipino troops have disintegrated except about one regiment. The I Corps will have to pull back to conform. They (the Nips) continue their bombing of the new areas. These must be some salvation for the Americans on Bataan. Why do the American people at home parade and rejoice in the glory of “all out” war when these poor devils here daily watch the seas and skies for the aid of the US which now appears too late. I have held hope all along for something to happen to get this mess straightened out and, mind you, I still have hope, but the situation is desperate. The reports all day are bad. I took report at 7:00 p.m. which means the end of Bataan. Col. [James V.] Collier called from G-3 Luzon Force and said that Philippine Army troops on right flank of II Corps line had fled and the Japs pouring thru. Proved to be double envelopment as Nips were also coming around II Corps left flank. Col. Irwin (G-3) and Col. Galbraith (G-4) went to Bataan this p.m. with plans for evacuation of certain units to “Rock.” During night Ordnance + Engineers busy destroying ammunition + other such few supplies as need be.

Gen. Wainwright in conference most of day with Chief of Staff Gen. Lewis Beebe (who is quite sound). Gen. Wainwright quite upset. Two days ago Gen. Funk came to “Rock” for Gen. Edward King to say he was going to capitulate. Gen. Wainwright gave two direct orders - one - do not surrender - two - attack with I Corps toward East. Later the second order was modified. Last night when things looked so bad and plans for evacuation of certain units were made and order was given to Gen. (I Corps) to make a frontal attack with his Corps and attack Olongapo. Went to bed about 1:00 p.m. Frank Hewlett, United Press, wanted me to wait up and see the Bataan episode, but I didn’t want to watch it. I feel sick when I think of it and feel that I should be there with them, but I started this war with the General (and before it) and will stay around ’til ordered differently.’

To Bataan and Back

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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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