And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

16 December

1686
John Evelyn,
writer

“I carried the Countess of Sunderland to see the rarities of one Mr Charlton in the Middle Temple, who showed us such a collection as I had never seen in all my travels abroad either of private gentlemen, or princes. It consisted of miniatures, drawings, shells, insects, medals, natural things, animals (of which divers, I think 100, were kept in glasses of spirits of wine), minerals, precious stones, vessels, curiosities in amber, crystal, agate, etc.; all being very perfect and rare of their kind, especially his books of birds, fish, flowers, and shells, drawn and miniatured to the life. He told us that one book stood him in £300; it was painted by that excellent workman, whom the late Gaston, Duke of Orleans, employed. This gentleman’s whole collection, gathered by himself, traveling over most parts of Europe, is estimated at £8,ooo. He appeared to be a modest and obliging person.’ [This collection was later bought by Sir Hans Sloane and formed part of the British Museum.]

A most excellent person

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1937
Minnie Vautrin,
missionary

‘Tonight I asked George Fitch [a Chinese-born American missionary head of the YMCA in Nanking] how the day went, and what progress they had made toward restoring peace in the city. His reply was ‘It was hell today. The blackest day of my life.’ Certainly it was that for me too.

Last night was quiet, and our three foreign men were undisturbed, but the day was anything but peaceful. [. . .]

There probably is no crime that has not been committed in this city today. Thirty girls were taken from Language School last night, and today I have heard scores of heartbreaking stories of girls who were taken from their homes last night - one of the girls was but 12 years old. Food, bedding and money have been taken from people - Mr Li had $55 taken from him. I suspect every house in the city has been opened, again and yet again, and robbed. Tonight a truck passed, in which there were 8 or 10 girls, and as it passed they called out ‘Giu ming’ ‘Giu ming’ - save our lives. The occasional shots that we hear out on the hills, or on the street, make us realize the sad fate of some man - very probably not a soldier. [. . .]

Mr John Rabe told the Japanese commander that he could help them get lights, water and telephones service but he would do nothing until order was restored in the city. Nanking is but a pitiful broken shell tonight - the streets are deserted and all houses in darkness and fear.’

In darkness and fear

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1965
Noel Coward,
writer and performer

‘Sixty-six years ago today I was propelled from the womb. There were no electric trains, and motor cars were exciting curiosities. There was not even the thought of an aeroplane in the winter skies, and horse-buses clopped through the London streets. There were no buses in Teddington.’

A glittering occasion

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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.