And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

15 August

1626
William Whiteway,
politician

‘The sickenes began to breake out in Blandford, very dangerously, and within 10 daies after at Bridport, and spread into many parishes thereabouts. At Blandford there died in all some 20 person. In Bridport 70. It was suspected also againe to be in Weymouth.’

The towne took on fire

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1682
Jacob Bee,
tradesman

‘A blazing stare appeared.’

Very fiery comets

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1794
William Bagshaw Stevens,
teacher

‘Before breakfast met Fanny in the Grove. She had found great Comfort, she said, in having talked with me on the Subject. I was the only Person that ever inspired her with a desire of communicating her grief. O that I had the power of pouring balm into your wounded affections. What would I not do? But my Heart was not without an ‘emballed heaviness.’ I thanked her for the ingenuous tale and tender confession of her unfortunate Passion. It was worthy of her. As to myself, if I could do nothing to soothe her Grief, she might be certain I would not abuse her Confidence. I would listen to her for ever and mingle tears with hers. She had one comfort, at least, that Her sorrows were not now shut up in her own breast. Yes, in me she confided. To a younger Person she could not with propriety have unbosomed herself, but she was sometimes amazed at the impulse she had long felt to communicate her Distress of Mind to me. I spoke feelingly. She felt the force of my feelings. ‘You allow me to consider you as my Friend. You may safely place Confidence in me. Fanny, you may have occasion to pity me but shall never blush for me. It shall be the peculiar satisfaction of my Life, my Pride and my Glory to compell You in despite of yourself to esteem me.’ [. . .]

After breakfast again walked with Fanny. Her Heart, she said, was a great deal lightened. It was her duty to struggle with her grief. She wished I could be with her, wished I knew more of her Father, spoke enthusiastically of Him. When You are no longer with us in your Walks You will often think of us, We shall think and talk of You, and we shall know that you think of us, and this will be a great Comfort.’

A disappointed man

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1806
Augusta, duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

‘At last the terrible blow has fallen which wrecks the German Constitution! Francis II has laid down the German Imperial Crown. In spite of the flaws of the old regime it surely is better than what we are going to be given in its stead. The ancient national oak, with its mouldering trunk and weather-beaten branches in which Wotan’s eagle has for 1000 years had its eyrie, cannot be expected to stem the present tide of events.’

Amply rewarded

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1919
Alex Sabine,
writer

‘A lady friend of mine got three weeks in jail for making her own soap, an article monopolized, but not supplied, by the Soviets and much missed by the people who under the old regime had become accustomed to buying it in the open market in any quantity and at a low price.’

Jailed for making soap

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1938
Bertolt Brecht,
writer

‘FEAR AND MISERY OF THE THIRD REICH has NOW gone to press. lukács has already welcomed the spy as if i were a sinner returned to the bosom of the salvation army. here at last is something taken straight from life! he overlooks the montage of 27 scenes, and the fact that it is actually only a table of gests, the gest of keeping your mouth shut, the gest of looking about you, the gest of sudden fear etc. the pattern of gests in a dictatorship. now epic theatre can show that both ‘intérieurs’ and almost naturalistic elements are within its range, that they do not make the crucial difference. the actor will be well advised to study the STREET SCENE before playing one of the short scenes. the aforesaid gests are not to be performed in such a way that the audience wants to stop the scene, empathy is to be sedulously controlled, otherwise the whole thing is a dead loss. the montage, a process that has been so thoroughly condemned, arose here out of letters from dudow who needed something for his little proletarian theatre-group in paris. so the proletarian theatre in exile is keeping the theatre alive. while in moscow maxim vallentin, the one-time director of a berlin agitprop group, has gone over to bourgeois theatre and announced that in art an appeal has to be made to the emotions, which can only mean reason has to be switched off.’

The concept of decadence

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1944
Abel J Herzberg,
lawyer

‘The prisoners have erected the tent camp. Our men have carried straw. And last night and this morning a transport of women and children moved into these ten to twelve tents. Who are they? All this takes place right next to our camp section. We can see them. And nonetheless nobody knows anything - we are isolated from one another that strictly. All sorts of rumours are circulating, and most of them boil down to: fugitives from Poland and East Prussia. So we know at least one thing for certain: it is a sign of dissolution. And further: we are not going to get out of here anymore. We have to wait for the chaos. Will we one day have to swap places with these women and be housed in the tents? Those who love indulging in gloomy prophecies believe that. But it strengthens our power of resistance.’

Civilisation no longer exists

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Notes and Cautions
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.

For any other use of these diary extracts other than browsing please refer to the original sources.

Any author, publisher or other copyright holder who takes the view that I am unacceptably breaching their copyright please let me know. I have tried to remain sensitive to copyright rules (using far fewer quotes, for example, when a book, by an author still alive, remains in print and popular), but it is not practical for me to seek authorisation for every quote and article, since I maintain these websites without any funding or advertis-ing. I take the view that publicity for the source books is a quid pro quo for my use of the extracts, but I am more than happy to remove the extracts if asked.

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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

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, usually several every week. The blog has been publishing for over five years, and is the secondary source for the diary extracts in this online anthology.