And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

26 August

1624
William Laud,
priest

‘Thursday, My horse trod on my foot, and lamed me: which stayed me in the country a week longer than I intended.’

My picture fallen

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1670
Alexander Exquemelin,
buccaneer

‘Captain Morgan sent two hundred men before the body of his army, to discover the way to Panama, and any ambuscades therein: the path being so narrow, that only ten or twelve persons could march abreast, and often not so many. After ten hours’ march they came to a place called Quebrada Obscura: here, all on a sudden, three or four thousand arrows were shot at them, they not perceiving whence they came, or who shot them: though they presumed it was from a high rocky mountain, from one side to the other, whereon was a grot, capable of but one horse or other beast laded. This multitude of arrows much alarmed the pirates, especially because they could not discover whence they were discharged.

At last, seeing no more arrows, they marched a little farther, and entered a wood: here they perceived some Indians to fly as fast as they could, to take the advantage of another post, thence to observe their march; yet there remained one troop of Indians on the place, resolved to fight and defend themselves, which they did with great courage till their captain fell down wounded; who, though he despaired of life, yet his valour being greater than his strength, would ask no quarter, but, endeavouring to raise himself, with undaunted mind laid hold of his azagayo, or javelin, and struck at one of the pirates; but before he could second the blow, he was shot to death. This was also the fate of many of his companions, who, like good soldiers, lost their lives with their captain, for the defence of their country. The pirates endeavoured to take some of the Indians prisoners, but they being swifter than the pirates, every one escaped, leaving eight pirates dead, and ten wounded: yea, had the Indians been more dextrous in military affairs, they might have defended that passage, and not let one man pass.’

The origin of pirate legends

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1672
Elizabeth Freke,
landowner

‘Mr Frek, Agust 26 coming over St James Parke about 12 a clock att night, challenged my lord of Roscomon either to fight him in St James Parke presently or to pay him down a thousand pounds my lord has long owed Mr Freke. Butt the 26 of Agust att three a clock in the morning ten men of the lifeguard came and fetched Mr Freke out of his bed from me and immediatly hurryed him to Whit Hall before Secretary Coventry, I nott knowing what itt was for more then words spoken. This was the begining of my troubles for my disobedience in marrying as I did. Eliz Freke’

Elizabeth Freke’s misfortunes

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1831
Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
poet

‘Read some passages from Shelley’s Revolt of Islam before I was up. He is a great poet; but we acknowledge him to be a great poet as we acknowledge Spenser to be so, & do not love him for it. He resembles Spenser in one thing, & one thing only, that his poetry is too immaterial for our sympathies to enclasp it firmly. It reverses the lot of human plants: its roots are in the air, not earth! But as I read him, I may reverse my opinion. [. . .]

Let me consider circumstances, while I am calm, in a degree. I may have to leave this place where I have walked & talked & dreamt in much joy; & where I have heard most beloved voices which I can no more hear, & clasped beloved hands which I can no more clasp: where I have smiled with the living & wept above the dead & where I have immortal books, & written pleasant thoughts, & known at least one very dear friend [. . .] I will wait for letters, & in the meantime, get on with Isocrates.

Thank God!. Hope End, dear Hope End, is not sold. It was bought in by our antagonists themselves; & may yet go by private contract: but still, thank God for this reprieve. A letter from Papa!

I was in the dining room. Bummy came in to me with overflowing eyes, & an exclamation of “Good news!” The good news were too much for me, prepared as I was for the worst news: and I should have sunk to the floor, if she had not caught me. Thank God for this blessed good news! Many tears were shed, & all for joy, at Hope End today.’

Elizabeth at Hope End

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1908
John Churton Collins,
writer and literary critic

‘I am at Dr Daniel’s, at Oulton Road [Lowestoft], having had for nearly a month one of the worst attacks of depression I ever experienced. It began in London, got worse at Cardiff, and reached its climax at Oxford. The doctor insisted I must leave at once, and it was arranged I should come here, where I have been better, but am still suffering terribly at times. I can trace the cause of the attack to great stress of work and its sudden cessation. This undoubtedly set it up. My agony at times has been intolerable.’

I thought I was out of the woods

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1916
Ernst Jünger,
soldier and writer

‘In front of my hole lies an Englishman who fell there yesterday. He is fat and bloated and has his full pack on and is covered in thousands of steel blue flies.’

Storm of Steel

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1938
Charles Augustus Lindbergh,
aviator

‘Left embassy at 10:30 after usual problem of tipping the servants. More difficult here because of exchange problem and the fact that American Embassy help are mostly Italian. [. . .]

Arrived at aerodrome shortly before 11:00. Many Russians and Americans there to see us off. Impossible to keep them from doing this, although it makes extra work for them and delays us in getting started. Took off Moscow 11:15. [. . .]

We flew first to Tula, then to Orel, then to Kharkov, making our first landing at the latter place. After a half hour’s stop at Kharkov, we flew practically direct to Rostov on Don. Our routes are laid out for us by the Russian officials, and we attempt to follow them exactly. I miss the unrestricted routes of the United States. Immediately after taking off from the Moscow aerodrome, we passed over the aircraft factory I visited several days ago. A few minutes later we passed several training fields. [. . .]

We are having high oil temperatures in this hot weather. Sometimes above 90°C. Everything else is all right, except both voltmeter and ammeter are fluctuating excessively. The English mechanics don’t understand this equipment, even though Phillips & Powis are the agents for our Menasco engine. In consequence it is never properly serviced. The English regulations load you down with logbooks, licenses, and other papers, but one good American mechanic is worth all of them, ten times over, including the Air Ministry inspections. I keep up the logs only enough to get by the regulations. They are no value whatsoever from my standpoint, but if I should crash the plane I am sure the authorities would blame it on some omitted entry or a bit of overload, regardless of the actual cause.

The readiness to blame a dead pilot for an accident is nauseating, but it has been the tendency ever since I can remember. What pilot has not been in positions where he was in danger and where perfect judgment would have advised against going? But when a man is caught in such a position he is judged only by his error and seldom given credit for the times he has extricated himself from worse situations. Worst of all, blame is heaped upon him by other pilots, all of whom have been in parallel situations themselves, but without being caught in them. If one took no chances, one would not fly at all. Safety lies in the judgment of the chances one takes. That judgment, in turn, must rest upon one’s outlook on life. Any coward can sit in his home and criticize a pilot for flying into a mountain in fog. But I would rather, by far, die on a mountainside than in bed. Why should we look for his errors when a brave man dies? Unless we can learn from his experience, there is no need to look for weakness. Rather, we should admire the courage and spirit in his life. What kind of man would live where there is no daring? And is life so dear that we should blame men for dying in adventure? Is there a better way to die?

We had a good opportunity to see the collective farms and coal mines of the Ukraine. The collective farms are unlike anything I have seen elsewhere. They consist of a row of twenty or so houses, strung out along a road, with garden patches of an acre or so behind them, and large fields outside.

Landed Rostov 7:01. There was a group of people to meet us, including the mayor and the head of the local Intourist. Also the head of the flying school we came to see. Colonel Slepnev was there, having flown from Moscow ahead of us. The Russians are doing everything possible for us. I feel embarrassed because it so much. Dislike to cause so much trouble. Colonel Slepnev had only one hour’s sleep last night. We have never seen anything to exceed Russian hospitality. Also, they have been unusually considerate in not crowding our days with too many engagements.’

Our civilization’s survival

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1943
Anthony Eden,
politician

‘G[ermany] and J[apan] had been the great restraints upon R[ussia]. We were committed to destroy both. R. would then be immensely powerful ... it might be that I should still see many years of war, perhaps all my life. I admitted that all this might be true but argued that only possible basis for a policy was to try to get on terms with Russia.’

The 1st Earl of Avon

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1945
Denton Welch,
writer and artist

‘I have been ill now and in bed for over two weeks. That is why I have written nothing. And the new doctor gave me M. & B. tablets which, I suppose, made me feel even worse - black, dead, inhuman as a boulder - telescoped into myself till nothing could come forward. Now I am better, and so the other state seems unbelievable, but it is waiting for me again.’

Black, dead, inhuman

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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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