And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

6 August

Adam Eyre,
soldier and landowner

‘This morning wee went to the wayre in the Wayre field, and Christofer Marsden came, and would have made a rescusse for working in our owne ground; and sayd ye stream was the king’s, and hee had as much right in it as I; and gave mee other ill language; wherupon, as soone as hee was gone, I went and cutt the boughes which grew on this syde his fence. Then came his wife and gave somewhat better words, yett tarte enough. Then at noone I went home, and received for 2 loads of meal out of the new arke 1l. 18s. 10d.; and Thomas Marsden having pinned a peice of wood in the wayre, came and made mee standing for my meare in the old stable. Then I went up to them again, and sent 1s worth of ale; and at night payd to Jo. Goddard for this week’s work 5s; his sonne 3s; and Tho. Marsden 6d.

This night my wife had a painful night of her foote, which troubled mee so that sleepe went from mee. Wherupon sundry wicked worldly thoughts came in my head, and, namely, a question whether I should live with my wife or noe, if shee continued so wicked as shee is; wherupon I ris and prayd to God to direct mee a right. And, after I read good counsell of Lawrence concerning the assistance of Angells, and the Devil, and our owne wills provoking to him. I prayed God again to direct mee, and so slept til morne quietly, praysed by God.’

Wicked worldly thoughts


Robert Lester,

‘I this Day had a Meeting with Antonio, and settled the Treaty with him, in the following manner, viz. That we are to have two hundred Bamboos square, (each Bamboo containing seven Cubits) at Persaim, and the King’s Promise of more Ground, after our settling at that Place. That we are to present to the King annually, for the Grant of the Island Negrais, and Spot of ground at Persaim, one Piece of Ordnance to carry a twelve Pound Shot, with two hundred Viss of good Gunpowder, as an acknowledgment, &c. &c. as specified [by] Article the 6th, in the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance. After this we exchanged Treaties, he presented me the Treaty with the King of Ava, Pegu, &c,’s Chop fixed thereto, and done in the above King’s Presence, I presented him with the other, to which Lieut. Thomas Newton, Chief of Negrais, had signed his Name, and fixed the Arms of The Honourable Company.’

An audience with Alaungpaya


Benjamin Haydon,

‘What a delightful sight it is, after a shower of rain, to see the dear Women tripping along and tucking their drapery round their lovely hips, now & then giving one a glimpse of a lovely ankle & part of a full leg.’

Thirst after grandeur


Gideon Mantell,
doctor and fossil hunter

‘To the Zoological Gardens in Regent’s Park in the afternoon. The “Reptile House” recently erected, contains many highly interesting specimens. The Rattle Snakes are thriving: a healthy looking Cyclara - Beautiful Lacertae and Hylaeviridae. The bower birds of Australia have begun a bower - but a very shabby one.’

Gideon Mantell - geologist


George Bernard Shaw,

‘Worked so hard at the article on Shelley for The Albermarle in the train that I felt quite sick during the last 15 minutes of the journey.’

GBS dines out


Robert Laird Borden,

‘Motored back to London with Laura. Aitken and Bonar Law who smoked all the way. Worked at correspondence all afternoon. Called on Lloyd George byappointment. Had interesting conversation. He talked like a strong Imperialist. Thinks Great Britain will never accept protection. Believes Canada can get a preference in transportation but has no very clear ideas as to mode.’

Russian cavalry and jams


James Lees-Milne,
historian and writer

‘My birthday. I am thirty-five. The horror of it! Except for my incipient baldness, fortunately on the crown of my head and on account of my height not always noticeable, I do not think I have changed much. My figure is the same as it was fifteen years ago.’

Lees-Milne’s centenary


Arthur Schlesinger,

‘I must confess that the report yesterday of Marilyn Monroe’s death quite shocked and saddened (but did not surprise) me. I will never forget meeting her at the Arthur Krim party following the JFK birthday rally at Madison Square Garden in May. I cannot recall whether I wrote anything down at the time, but the image of this exquisite, beguiling and desperate girl will always stay with me. I do not think I have seen anyone so beautiful; I was enchanted by her manner and her wit, at once so masked, so ingenuous and so penetrating. But one felt a terrible unreality about her - as if talking to someone under water. Bobby and I engaged in mock competition for her; she was most agreeable to him and pleasant to me, but one never felt her to be wholly engaged. Indeed, she seemed most solicitous of her ex-father-in-law, Arthur Miller’s father, a baffled and taciturn man whom she introduced to the group and on whom she constantly cast a maternal eye. The only moment I felt I touched her was when I mentioned that I was a friend of Joe Rauh. This produced a warm and spontaneous burst of affection - but then she receded into her own glittering mist.

Late yesterday afternoon I went out to the Rauhs’ for a swim. Both Joe and Olie were saddened by the news. Olie talked about Marilyn as a guest, her fear of facing people, and the complicated stratagems she went through when she finally, for example, had to confront a press conference. After keeping the group waiting for two hours and a half, she examined herself in the mirror, saw the outline of her panties through her summer dress, removed them, put on white gloves, saying to Olie, “You don’t know these people; if they saw my hands, they would write that my nails were not polished enough,” and walked in agony downstairs. Later the CBS man said to Olie, “I have never seen anyone so nervous at an interview in my life.” ’

Nixon - ‘the greatest shit’


Arthur C. Clarke,

‘Stanley suggests that we make the computer female and call her Athena.’

Dreamed I was a robot


James Lees-Milne,
historian and writer

‘Today I became a pensioner. If I wished to get a job I couldn’t. Henceforth I receive a pension from the state.’

Lees-Milne’s centenary


Paul K. Lyons,

‘DREAM: I got the idea to interview the Queen and request her cooperation for a desert island discs programme. Much to my amazement she accepts. At first the full import of my achievement didn’t filter through but soon I realised that there were crowds of people interested (including many taxi drivers). I could see myself conducting the interview as if on TV. We were in a large room and seated quite far apart. The Queen was old and decrepit, and needed the advice and help of a small group of assistants behind her. She only came out with two or three records (one by Grieg) and when I asked her why she had chosen them she chastised me. The programme was about her discs not why she was choosing them.’

The Queen and I


James Lees-Milne,
historian and writer

‘I am eighty. Have been so since 1:30 this morning. A beautiful day dawns, misty sunlight. [. . .] On front page of literary section [of The Daily Telegraph] an article about me by sweet Hugh Massingberd, which gives me enormous pleasure. Too eulogistic, but most welcome.’

Lees-Milne’s centenary


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And so made significant . . .
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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

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.