And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

12 December

John Rous,

‘At night as is thought, some West-country packman that had sold all in Norfolk, returned by Thetford, and went towards Barton milles late; but the next morning three horses with pack saddles and two packes were found short of Elden a mile. These horses and packes are seised by the lord of Elden. Some thinke a man is murthered and robbed: some thinke that it a servant that is ridden away on the fourth horse with the mony. The packes were fish, either bought or trucked at Norwich or Yermouth.’

Newes from Cambridge


Cotton Mather,

‘My Son Increase, by a violent and passionate Resentment of an Indignity, which a wicked Fellow offered unto me, has exposed himself to much Danger, and me also to no little Trouble. I must employ this Occasion as much to his Advantage, especially in regard of Piety, as I can.

God graciously gives a good Issue to it.’

Cotton Mather, You Dog


George Washington,

‘Morning Cloudy - Wind at No. Et. & Mer. 33. A large circle round the Moon last Night. About 1 oclock it began to snow - soon after to Hail and then turned to a settled cold Rain. Mer. 28 at Night.’

Washington’s domestic felicity


Gideon Welles,

‘Negro suffrage in the District is the Radical hobby of the moment and is the great object of some of the leaders throughout the Union. At the last session the Senate did not act upon the bill for fear of the popular verdict at the fall elections. Having dodged the issue then, they now come here under Sumner’s lead and say that the people have declared for it.

There is not a Senator who votes for this bill who does not know that it is an abuse and wrong. Most of the negroes of this District are wholly unfit to be electors. With some exceptions they are ignorant, vicious, and degraded, without patriotic or intelligent ideas or moral instincts. There are among them worthy, intelligent, industrious men, capable of voting understandingly and who would not discredit the trust, but they are exceptional cases. As a community they are too debased and ignorant. Yet fanatics and demagogues will crowd a bill through Congress to give them suffrage, and probably by a vote which the veto could not overcome. Nevertheless, I am confident the President will do his duty in that regard. It is pitiable to see how little sense of right, real independence, and what limited comprehension are possessed by our legislators. They are the tame victims and participators of villainous conspirators.’

Neptune’s Civil War


Alice James,
sister of writer

‘I wonder, whether, if I had had any education I should have been more, or less, of a fool than I am. It would have deprived me surely of those exquisite moments of mental flatulence which every now and then inflate the cerebral vacuum with a delicious sense of latent possibilities - of stretching oneself to cosmic limits, and who would ever give up the reality of dreams for relative knowledge?’

Geyser of emotions


Peter Scott,
artist and conservationist

‘What a day of days! Tom and I were up at 5. [. . .] We motored to Sinoie, meeting a torrential rain storm, so that the turning down from the main road was a raging milky river. The middle of the road was still mostly above water but the ditches on either side were rising. [. . .]

At 7:15 the flight began. The geese came in great masses about 1.5 to 2km to the north of the road and went down in two principal places, one just over the hill and the other just below a communal tractor and farm machinery station on the hill beyond. The geese made a dark patch on the green of the sprouting wheat in the middle of the field of perhaps 500 acres. Could Whitefronts sit so thick? Such sounds as we could hear gave no conclusive indication of the species though we felt that some at least must be Red-breasted Geese, Branta ruficollis. The weather seemed to be improving with the light. By the end of the flight we thought that between 6 and 7 thousand geese had settled in about three places. None was less than half a mile from us. To give the weather time to improve we moved, when the flight was over, down into the village of Sinoie. We bought a water bottle to supply the little squeegee which cleaned our car windows - the most essential feature for goose-watching and goose-finding in these parts.

Then we returned to the geese. [. . .] There was nothing for it but a long muddy walk. [. . .] So, as we walked up the hill, we bore right through the standing maize stalks, into dead ground. Heavy rain was approaching, and we sat on some stooks for a while to let it pass. Then we plodded on through the maize. We came upon the fresh tracks of a wild boar which had run out of the maize ahead of us. Presently we swung left towards the ridge and towards the geese, and came almost at once to the edge of a sand quarry. We jumped into it and walked across. It offered shelter from the now continuous rain under its upwind overhanging cliff. We moved to the edge overlooking the geese, and it was from this point that our most valuable observations were made. Already there were Whitefronts within 100 yards of us in the maize stubble. These were constantly being joined by Redbreasts. [. . .] Then came the business of assessing their numbers [. . .] the same total was reached 3 times over. It was between 3,800 and 4,000 Red-breasted Geese. [. . .] The total experience of all this was so absorbingly exciting that we scarcely noticed the continuous rain[. . .] we had been with the Redbreasts since dawn - a magical morning, especially when I recall my pre-war Redbreast hunts to Hungary, Romania, Iraq and Persia in the 1930s. [. . .]

It was in every way a superbly eventful day.’

Scott’s wild goose chase


Andreas Ramos,
businessman and writer

‘Everything was out of control. Police on horses watched. There was nothing they could do. The crowd had swollen. People were blowing long alpine horns which made a huge noise. There were fireworks, kites, flags and flags and flags, dogs, children. The wall was finally breaking. The cranes lifted slabs aside. East and West German police had traded caps. To get a better view, hundreds of people were climbing onto a shop on the West German side. We scampered up a nine foot wall. People helped each other; some lifted, others pulled. All along the building, people poured up the wall. At the Berlin Wall itself, which is 3 meters high, people had climbed up and were sitting astride. The final slab was moved away. A stream of East Germans began to pour through. People applauded and slapped their backs.’

The fall of the Wall


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