And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

8 August

Samuel Ward,

‘Also my longing after damsens when I made my vow not to eat in the orchard. Oh, that I could so long after Godes graces.’

Longing after damsens


Elizabeth Percy,

‘Abbey of Holyrood House. My morning visitors were . . . We walk’d all over the Palace from some of the Windows you have a view of Arthur Seat an immense Rock, wch Ly Milton told me her Grandfather remembered it all cover’d with wood, but it is now entirely bare. The Apartments are very fine, I think fully equal to Hampton Court in some of them are hung up some pictures (he having no rooms of his own large enough to contain them) of Lord Mortons [James Douglas, Lord Clerk Regiser, and trustee of the British Museum] wch he bought in France of the Battles of Alexr. said to be Copys of the Famous Ones by Le Brun [French painter] himself. The Gallery is 130ft long & furnish’d with ye portraits of all the Kings of Scotland including James ye 6 (the 1st of England). I went also to see Mary Q of Scots Bedchamber (a very small one it is) from whence David Rizzio was drag’d out & stabb’d in the Ante Room, where is some of his Blood which they cannot get wash’d out. When we had view’d the Abbey we went to the Parliament House & saw the Lords of Session sitting. We then saw the Court of Exchequer & by taking ye Ld Chief Baron’s [? chair] empower’d myself to dispose of all the Treasure of Scotland.

Edinburgh is by no means a despicable town. It is extreamly populous its Inhabitants are suppose to exceed 50,000. The Lanes may for ought I know be dirty, but the principal streets are by no means so they are spacious and well paved. It is a Mile from the Abbey to the Castle, but divided by the Nether Bow Port which is a very handsome Gate. The lower part is the Cannon Gate & the upper the High Street. Considering how many Familys perhaps live in a house & that the City is very ill supplied with Water it is surprising to see it so neat as it is. The most extraordinary sight is the height of the Houses. I myself having counted one of thirteen storys high the shops being painted on the outside with whatever the indweller sells. Land about this City letts from 3:10 to 4l per Acre, the figure of 4 which see on many houses denotes a Merchant. It is not by the Laws of the Police permitted to any One to sell anything in Edinburgh before 8 O’Clock in the morning. I went next to the Castle which seem to be impregnable from its situation which is on a high Rock, the view from it is very fine. One see the Dean, the charming Firth of Forth, Leith, Inch Keith, Herriot’s Hospital, a noble regular Gothic Building, The Hills of Fife & those above Stirling.’

Of Edinburgh and Glasgow


William Gladstone,

‘Rose to breakfast, but uneasily. Attempted reading, and read most of Baxter’s narrative. Not too unwell to reflect.’

An account book of time


David Cargill,

‘The Capn took the vessel to Koro to buy yams. Koro is an island about forty miles from Somosomo. The inhabitants have had but little intercourse with foreigners, and are in a very barbarous state. A few weeks ago the male inhabitants of one town were treacherously decoyed by the inhabitants of another into a yam plantation, and all put to death. The women and children are enslaved. As we approached that part of the island where the Capn expected to find a harbour, the vessel was nearly on a reef. In five seconds more she would probably have struck, but she instantly obeyed the helm; and thus to all appearance we were saved from a watery grave. The Capn steered to another part of the island, and there dropped anchor.’

Like wolves and hyaenas


Thomas Babington,

‘We passed my old acquaintance, Dumbarton castle, I remembered my first visit to Dumbarton, and the old minister, who insisted on our eating a bit of cake with him, and said a grace over it which might have been prologue to a dinner of the Fishmongers’ Company, or the Grocers’ Company.’

Such an idle man


Simon Newcomb,

‘Awakened after 5 a.m. by the landing of the boat. Found that we were 2 or 3 miles past Willow Is[land]. Arrived at the mouth of the Red River at 10 a.m. Started up the river at 11 1/4 with side wind. Passed many Ind(ian] lodges. Arrived at Stone Fort, (or Lower Fort Garry) at 7 1/2 p.m.’

Crossed a singular slough


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,

‘A lovely summer day; I wanted to be in many places at once.’

Gabrielle, Celestine or Evangeline?


John William Horsley,

‘A country girl, aged 19, immoral and shameless, though only a month in London. Admits that sheer laziness and dislike to work have brought her on the streets.’

State-created crime


Robert Laird Borden,

‘This morning saw Asquith by appointment. He took me all over official residence. Portrait of every Cabinet Minister. One in office only three days. Discussed visit to Germany. He thinks idle to go there with hope of doing any good. Told him that oar action on naval question depended on Churchill’s statement. He said Churchill was good at such work.’

Russian cavalry and jams


Arthur Graeme West,

‘I now find myself disbelieving utterly in Christianity as a religion, or even in Christ as an actual figure. I seem to have lost in softness and become harder, more ferocious in nature, and in appearances certainly, by virtue of my moustache! So violently do I react against the conventional religion that once bound me - or if it did not bind me, at any rate loomed behind me - that I loathe and scorn all emotionalism and religious feeling. When I was at E_ waiting for a commission to come, I was boarded on two persons, with whom and their friends I had several arguments, I in favour of science and abstract truth, and they in favour of emotion, denying advance of knowledge and running down science itself as a work of the devil. Of course, more often I was simply tolerant of all this sort of thing, e.g. among parsons and my family, but sometimes it burned up very fiercely; as when I found J_ was against me re Christ, and liked to believe he existed, simply because he was a “jolly” character. It seems to me shameful that a man with his power of mind should be regardless of Truth, should hold that the question is one that doesn’t matter; whereas I, of far less able mind, have by my nature’s law to struggle on after Truth with my inferior equipment. He threw cold water on the whole affair and made me for the moment the bitterer. Really, as I see now, the matter is not one of great importance, simply because belief in the efficacy of the figure is the important thing and the reality of the exigence does not longer concern me.’

Shambles in the dug-outs


Richard Crossman,

‘The Sunday papers were full of the story and I had a number of telephone talks with Peter Brown before I caught the night train from Bodmin Road. I got to Paddington at 7.15 this morning to find that the hot water had been turned off and I couldn’t have a bath at Vincent Square.

I had hoped to have a quick meeting under Harold’s leadership in order to fix this idiotic problem of mortgages. It seemed obvious that I should meet George Brown to the extent of asking the building societies not to raise their mortgage rates until the P.I.B. had reported and then making sure the P.I.B. gave us their report by early October. This is exactly what we did in fact finally agree on, but first I had to square my Permanent Secretary, who thought I was giving far too much to George and that I should stand firm on the original statement Callaghan and I had made. I found this terribly negative and when we got into our meeting finally, shortly after twelve, we settled it along the lines I have described.

In the afternoon I saw the building societies and got their agreement that I should make a Statement in the House to that effect next day. After that I had to see George Brown about the Centre for Environmental Studies. I had promised Richard Llewelyn-Davies the headquarters would be in London. George Brown was insisting on Edinburgh. After we had disagreed in quite a friendly way, he asked me to stay behind in his room and told me that he would be out of the D.E.A. within a few days and he was glad because he had been doing that job far too long. Then he went on to say how much he appreciated my behaviour on the day before the devaluation Cabinet. I had been honest with him, unlike some other people he could mention. ‘Whatever happens,’ he said, ‘don’t do anything without telling me. I gather you want to make it as difficult as possible to introduce Part IV. I don’t agree with you but I am not so far away from your position. Keep in touch with me. I trust you, you trust me, I support Harold and so do you.’ That was George at about four o’clock.’

My room is like a padded cell


Sasha Swire,

‘Up in London, our current Rasputin figure (Cummings) is sending rockets up the arses of anyone in range (spads, ministers, civil servants, the Queen, Dominic Grieve, probably Boris).

Thing is, we all know Cummings is stark raving mad (you just need to look at his blog) but we are hoping that his maverick, radical, lunatic streak is what just might, possibly, get us over the line. I discuss him with Dominic Lawson, who is down holidaying in West Penwith and who is an old friend. He tells me he is a genius, but he is so bloody rude to everyone, particularly politicians, that he is absolutely loathed by the establishment. His father, Nigel Lawson, had complained to Dominic about his abruptness and he was a prominent leaver and Sir John, who met him on several occasions during the Brexit campaign, also says he is utterly ‘appalling’.

Down at the other lunatic asylum/snake pit, Mac the Knife (John McDonnell) pops up to say that if Boris doesn’t go when they tell him to, he’ll put Jezza in a taxi and send him off to the Queen to tell her they will form a government instead. (Just shows how out of touch they are - no one takes taxis these days, they take Ubers or public transport.) Trouble is, McDonnell has just told the SNP they can have another referendum, so the Queen is hardly going to agree to assisting in breaking up the union, and would she really want to hand power over to a bunch of Marxists?’

Blah, blah, blah . . .


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And so made significant . . .
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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.

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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, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.