And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

18 December

Marie-Henri Beyle (Stendhal),

‘My faith, it it’s coquetry, I’m caught, if you can call it being caught to experience keen pleasure.

There were fifteen or twenty people present, they were about to start some games; she was beside the fireplace, two women kept me from approaching her. She came over to me with that decision given by a keen desire to which one yields, in order to come over to me she took four or five steps, and stopped to speak to me in the middle of the salon. I’m not very sure what she said to me, I didn’t pay much attention to it; in this salon I was like a prince who is vain and who finds himself among people to whom his ribbons, his orders and all his dignitaries are invisible. I happened to be near the sofa to the right of the door, I was playing with the children to give myself countenance. She suddenly came over, seated herself beside me and said: “Mama told me to ask you if it’s true that the louis is going to be demonetized the first of January etc. . .” (not altogether said in those terms).

I replied, and at once the conversation turned to what interested us. Her face, on which the expression of feeling is extremely rare, had such a look of loving me, and her eyes regarded me with so much happiness that I restrained myself just as I was about to take her hand. We happened to change places a moment later, and, while seated, she spoke to three ladies who were standing up, I at her side. A man was mentioned, and she asked, “Is he young? Is he amiable? Does he look intelligent?” with the liveliest and warmest expression of happy love. She congratulated herself on her choice and took pleasure in praising, in his presence, the lover to whom hasn’t yet confessed her love, and, as she talked, in urging him to be aggressive. Her face was animated and full of passion. Her soul seemed to be stirred. If, during the past year, she’d had a quarter of this expression in one of our languishing tete-a-tete, it would at once have become delightful. I looked at her fondly, and her soul being stirred, she must have read in mine.

Surely it was the fredetto that was beginning to take effect. Every time she told me that she’d be home she added a phrase begging me to come to see her.

In all the time I’ve known her, this was the day when I saw the most ardent expression of love in her. Things had reached a point where all would have been over at once if we’d been alone.’

Pinch their thighs


Charles Cavendish Fulke Greville,
civil servant

‘I came to town, went to Brighton yesterday se’nnight for a Council.

I was lodged in the Pavilion and dined with the King. The gaudy splendour of the place amused me for a little and then bored me. The dinner was cold and the evening dull beyond all dulness. They say the King is anxious that form and ceremony should be banished, and if so it only proves how impossible it is that form and ceremony should not always inhabit a palace. The rooms are not furnished for society, and, in fact, society cannot flourish without ease; and who can feel at ease who is under the eternal constraint which etiquette and respect impose?

The King was in good looks and good spirits, and after dinner cut his jokes with all the coarse merriment which is his characteristic. Lord Wellesley did not seem to like it, but of course he bowed and smiled like the rest. I saw nothing very particular in the King’s manner to Lady Conyngham. He sat by her on the couch almost the whole evening, playing at patience, and he took her in to dinner; but Madame de Lieven and Lady Cowper were there, and he seemed equally civil to all of them. I was curious to see the Pavilion and the life they lead there, and I now only hope I may never go there again, for the novelty is past, and I should be exposed to the whole weight of the bore of it without the stimulus of curiosity.’

The King’s bathing habits


John Adams,

‘How great is my Loss, in neglecting to keep a regular journal, through the last Spring, Summer, and Fall. In the Course of my Business, as a Surveyor of High-Ways, as one of the Committee, for dividing, planning, and selling the North-Commons, in the Course of my two great journeys to Pounalborough and Marthas Vineyard, and in several smaller journeys to Plymouth, Taunton and Boston, I had many fine Opportunities and Materials for Speculation. The Year 1765 has been the most remarkable Year of my Life. That enormous Engine, fabricated by the british Parliament, for battering down all the Rights and Liberties of America, I mean the Stamp Act, has raised and spread, thro the whole Continent, a Spirit that will be recorded to our Honour, with all future Generations. In every Colony, from Georgia to New Hampshire inclusively, the Stamp Distributors and Inspectors have been compelled, by the unconquerable Rage of the People, to renounce their offices. Such and so universal has been the Resentment of the People, that every Man who has dared to speak in favour of the Stamps, or to soften the detestation in which they are held, how great soever his Abilities and Virtues had been esteemed before, or whatever his fortune, Connections and Influence had been, has been seen to sink into universal Contempt and Ignominy.’

A spirit to our honour


William Crookes,

‘Cloudy and rainy. We had service on the main deck. Mr. Howlett preached, the text being from Amos viii. v. 9: “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day.” The sermon was a very excellent one. In the afternoon walked up to the observatory, and saw how the sappers were getting on with the foundations and instruments. Several of the principal men of the town came to dinner this evening, so we put on full dress and furbished up our French. The speeches were very amusing, and the way in which the Frenchmen mixed their liquors, taking sherry, hock, champagne, moselle, bitter ale, curaçoa, coffee, brandy, and then bitter ale again, was a wonderful sight. The dinner party did not break up till very late.’

Victorian eclipse diary


Ethel Turner,

‘Went to Cope and King and saw our barrister Mr G. W. Reid -— the brief is an immense one, about twenty huge closely written sheets. He asked us a good many questions. Then shopping, I bought a song, my first, Only a Year Ago by Claribel. Afternoon we went house hunting to Glebe. Mother and Mr Cope are still rowing about moving. He is awfully selfish about it.’

Seven Little Australians


Gertrude Bell,
writer and archaeologist

‘Fine, cold, snow on the hills. We took 2 hrs 20 min. to get off. Left at 8.35 and had an hour’s bad struggle through the muddy zera’ the camels falling down at intervals. When we were S. of the Roman camp our rafiq joined us, Hamad al Lafi of the Ghiyath. The latter seem to be gom with everyone except the Sayyad and the Jumlan who are fellah tribes of Damascus. But, being with us he does not fear to meet the B. Hassan with whom he is gom. We want one of them as a rafiq. He goes with us for a mej. a day. The big chiefs of the Hasenneh are Sa’ad and Muhammad ibn Milhem who receive ma’ash from the Govt. The B. Hassan are a new group; they were once part of the Ghiyath. We got into the volcanic country at 11.30 and marched over broken ground straight onto a tell called el ‘Abd which we reached at 2.30 and found a muddy rain pool where we filled our girbehs. Grass growing between the stones and on the patches of low ground which are free of stones. A man of the Jumlan Sayyad rode out to see who we were; they are camped to the S. of us under the hog’s back which was my first bearing, 102° from ‘Adra. Got into camp at 4 in a low patch with the Saigal tells immediately in front of us. Beautiful sunset glow. We saw one of the Dumairis at his husbandry. He sowed first and ploughed afterwards. The Jumlani Sayyadi was much surprised to see me, but I offered no explanations. Excellent mushrooms-fitr. We saw a good deal of naitu today but there are no shajar tonight.’

The Arabian Diaries


David Lindsay,

‘The ambulance train was very late today. We stood waiting on the bleak and exposed railway platform over an hour. A very long train drew slowly through and from the faces mass ed at each window we quickly saw that it was a big force of drafts for the line. As they passed through the station we were greeted with shouts of welcome, snatches of song and cries of ‘are we

downhearted? - followed by the odious chorus of ‘No’. We watched the procession with sad reflections of those who are no longer gay in approaching the criss of war. Some minutes later the troop train backed on to the platform next to where we were expecting the ambulance. The carriage windows were still crowded as before with noisy travellers. Gradually the shouting and chaffing subsided. Those who had the front view slowly realised who were the occupants of the platform - why so many men had arms in slings and heads bound up why others had both feet swathed in white cotton boots, why so many RAMC men were standing there, why there was a long row of tenanted stretchers. All this they gradually realised. The men further back inside the carriages came to understand it too and almost suddenly this whole trainload of new soldiers, 1,200 of them or more, was startled into silence, complete, tense and respectful. For the first time these men were in presence of the real thing.’

Congealed personalities


Alfred A Cunningham,

‘Got up frozen stiff. The weather fairly clear. Persuaded a French pilot of a biplane fighting Spad to take me over the lines. We went up like an elevator and talk about speed! Wk were over the lines in no time and I was all eyes. The archies bursting near us worried me some and made it hard to look all the time for boches. I saw something to one side that looked like a fountain of red ink. Found it was the machine gun tracer bullets from the ground. After a few minutes we sighted a boche 2 seater just below us. We made for him. It was the finest excitement I ever had. I got my machine gun ready. Before we got to him he dived and headed for home. On 1 of our rolls I let loose a couple of strings of 6 at him but it was too far for good shooting. After following him a ways over the lines we turned to look for another. None were out so we came home. Finest trip I ever had. If the boche had not turned quite so soon, I think I might have got him. Watched pilots doing stunts in afternoon. At about 8 p.m. we were huddled around a small fire in the hut when we heard 3 boche machines fly over very low. Two of them did not locate our place and went on. We went outside and saw the other 1 flying around trying to locate the hangars so we made for the machine gun pit. He finally flew down the line and let go a couple of bombs, as he came over we opened on him but the gun jammed and no one could fix it in the dark. He made 3 trips and let go 2 bombs each trip. Then he left us. We found he had dropped them all in the woods and no machines were hurt. We went back and tried to sleep but every time a big gun would go off I thought it was another raid. I am writing this Wednesday night with my hands blue from cold. There is certainly no lack of excitement around here.’ [Front of the 4th French army]

Baggage and Boche


Lorenzo Greene,
teacher and writer

‘While shaving this morning, Poe brought me two copies of The Negro Wage Earner, my book, which Woodson has practically appropriated for his own. The cover is beautiful, jade green, with the authors’ names in gold. The jacket, however, is a vile bungling of incongruities. In the background is a factory; in the foreground a Negro wearing a collar and a tie and arrayed in a business suit. Woodson’s idea, no doubt, and perfectly correct because it is his.

Now for the most infamous of assumptions and fabrications; so wholly has Woodson taken to himself the credit for the book, that all he waives responsibility for is the collecting of the information - and not even all of that. All the correcting, supplementing, and reduction of the data to literary form are, he states, his. This is an infamous lie. I myself not only collected the data, but also put it in virtually the exact form, with the exception of a few expurgations, in which the book now stands. When I left on the bookselling campaign, the page proof read: Lorenzo J. Greene, The Negro Wage Earner. Whatever corrections were made, moreover, were carried out by me under his supervision. And as for his supplementary data, there is not an idea of Woodson’s in the entire book, save the inconsequential statement that some Negro farmers worked for white planters during weekdays and labored on their own farms on Sunday and holidays in order to make ends meet. This practice was to show one means of the increase in Negro farms during the transition period, from tenant farmer to farm owner.

When I left in July, the book was ready for its final printing. All corrections had been made on the page proof. To think that he would offer such a monstrous misrepresentation to the world is amazing. But as I remarked in a letter to him in September, little more can be expected from a person devoid of a sense of honor. Woodson never held a high place in my estimation, but now my regard for him in every respect, save scholarship, has sunk to its nadir.

As to the book, it contains some mighty errors, chiefly because Woodson did not know its contents. In his fine art of expurgating, he has made a laughing stock of himself. Where I stated that 90-95 percent of the Negro steel laborers in Pittsburgh were unskilled in 1917, Woodson cut out the remainder of the paragraph, left the above dangling in midair, then two or three pages later the statement is made and proved by Census figures that about one-third of all Negro laborers in factories were doing work “requiring greater or less skill’’. Then, too, his monumental ignorance of how space was to be allocated in respect to the different topics is evident when he stated in the catalogue announcement that, since most Negroes worked in domestic service and on farms, more space would be devoted to these occupations. That is just what I did not do, for I purposely devoted more space to the other occupations.’

The father of black history


Willy Cohn,

‘I don’t think I have yet noted that Curt Proskauer returned home from Buchenwald. His health seems to have been badly affected by it. I called him yesterday.

I went to see Czollak to greet him after his return from Buchenwald. He was in bed because of a nail-bed infection; other than that, thank G’d, he did not look too bad. He is very impractical about his emigration plans. I will help him to the extent I can. Urbach, in Jerusalem, is treating him and Daniel very decently. We have to help each other through these times!’

This won’t break us


Alan Clark,

‘Sitting in Albany kitchcn - still in dressing-gown al 11.05; and the delightful, and unusual pleasure of the two clocks striking simultaneously ‘across’ each other. Very Edwardian, or early twenties. I am hugely calmer and more contented - although of course anxiety in new form will always flow into the vacuum created by the extinction of a real one, and I am apprehensive. The trial has not gone badly and the judge seemed sympathetic, although Prescott was odious at every stage. If I lose, of course, I will be open season. But my real consolation, fresh boost, is Spalton. Stuttery, amiable and bespectacled (naturally) oculist. He tested me, I told him all my symptoms [here AC draws on the page the edge of a spot]. He was unphased. Said the optic nerve ok etc. And I really haven’t had a headache of any kind since ...! Defocusing, and periodic lights and ‘flooders’ of no consequence. This is such a relief; I clap my hands in prayer of thanks a lot of the time and when I wake up at night.

Just in time. As I need to think long and hard about the next three months. The real damage and threat to Parliament. The cogent conspiracy between Blair and Hague. We are actually going along with what Blair is doing.’

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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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