And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

29 December

1695
Abraham de la Pryme,
antiquary

‘Yesterday, James Middleton came over from Hatfield. He tells me a very merry thing that happen’d at Wroot, in the Isle, lately. Mr Parrel there had a great lusty man-servant, but, as appears by the sequell of the discourse, not of very much witt. About two months ago, there comes a maggot into his head to turn padder upon the highway; so he acquaints his master with his resolution. “Master,” says he, “I have been two years in your service, and what I get is inconsiderable, and will scarce suffice my expenses; and I work very hard. I fancy,” says he, “that I could find out a better way to live, and by which I should have more ease and more money.” “Ey,” says his master, “pray what is that?” “It is,” says he, “by turning padder.” “Alass! John,” says he, “that will not do; take my word,” says he, “you’ll find that a harder service than mine.” “Well, but I’ll try,” says the man.

And so, next morning, away he went, with a good clubb in his hand; and, being got in the London road, somewhere about Newark or Grantham, there overtook him on the road a genteel man on horseback. John letts him come up to him, and taking his advantage, he catches hold of his bridle, and bidds him stand and deliver. Upon which he of horseback, being a highwayman himself, he began to laugh that a thief should pretend to rob a thief. “But,” says he, “barken, thou padder, I’m one of thy trade; but surely, thou’rt either a fool or one that was never at the trade before.” “No sir,” says John, “I never was at this trade in my life before.” “I thought so,” says the highway-man; “therefore, take my advice, and mind what I say to you. When you have a mind to robb a man, never take hold of his bridle and bid him stand, but, the first thing you do, knock him down, and, if he talk to you, hit him another stroke, and say, ‘Sirrah! you rogue, do you prate?’ And then,” says the highwayman, “you have him at your will,” etc.

Thus they walk’d on for about a mile, the highwayman teaching the other his art; and as they were going a by way to a certain town, they comes to a badd lane. Says the padder to the other on horsback “Sir, I am better acquainted with this country than perhaps you are, this lane is very badd, and you’ll indanger [of] lying fast, therefore you may go through this yate, and along the field side, and so miss all the ill way.”

So he took his advice, and going that way the padder went the other way, and coming to the place where the highwayman should ride through a gapp into the lane again, this rogue, this padder, stands under the hedge, and as soon as ever he sees the highwayman near him, he lends him such a knock over the head that he brought him down immediately. Upon which he began to say, “Sarrah, you rogue, is this your gratitude for the good advice that I gave you?” “Ah! you villain, do you prate?” And with that gave him another knock.

And so, having him wholy at his mercy, he takes almost fifty pound from him and gets upon his horse, and away he rides home to his master at Wroot, by another way, as fast as he could go, and being got home he goes to his master and tell’s him, saying “Tash! master, I find this a very hard trade that I have been about, as you sayd it would prove, and I am resolved to go no more, but be contented with what I have gott. I have got a good horse here, and fifty pound in my pocket, from a highwayman, and I have consider’d that I cannot be prosecuted for it, therefore I’ll live at ease,” etc.’

Antiquities and highywaymen

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1832
William Gladstone,
prime minister

‘On this day I have completed my twenty-third year [. . .] The exertions of the year have been smaller than those of the last, but in some respects the diminution has been unavoidable. In future I hope circumstances will bind me down to work with a rigour which my natural sluggishness will find it impossible to elude. I wish that I could hope my frame of mind had been in any degree removed from earth and brought nearer heaven, that the habit of my mind had been imbued with something of that spirit which is not of this world. I have now familiarise myself with maxims sanctioning and encouraging a degree of intercourse with society, perhaps attended with much risk. [. . .] Nor do I now think myself warranted in withdrawing from the practices of my fellow men except when they really involve an encouragement of sin, in which case I do certainly rank races and theatres.’

An account book of time

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1846
George Brinton McClellan,
soldier

‘Finished the necessary repairs about 12 noon. We partook of some kid and claret with Colonel Thomas. While there General Patterson arrived and crossed the stream, encamping on the other side. Waded over the stream to see the Generals - were ordered to move on in advance next morning with two companies of horse and 100 infantry.’

McClellan’s war in Mexico

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1875
Douglas Hyde,
president

‘Seamas died yesterday. A man so decent and generous, alas, so true and honest, alas, so friendly, alas, never will I see again. He was sick about a week and today he is gone. Poor Seamas, I learned Irish from you. A man so good with the Irish, never will there be another like you. I can see no one at all from now on whom I would love as well as you. May seven angels be with you and may your blessed soul be in heaven now.’

Ireland’s first president

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1958
Susan Sontag,
writer

‘St. Germain des Prés. Not the same as Greenwich Village, exactly. For one thing, expatriates (Americans, Italians, English, South Americans, Germans) in Paris have a different role + self-feeling than provincials (e.g. kids from Chicago, the West Coast, the South) who come to New York. No rupture of national identification, and mal-identification. Same language. One can always go home. And, anyway, the majority of Villagers are New Yorkers - internal, even municipal, expatriates.

The cafe routine. After work, or trying to write or paint, you come to a cafe looking for people you know. Preferably with someone, or at least with a definite rendez-vous. . . One should go to several cafes - average: four - in an evening.

Also, in New York (Greenwich Village) there’s the shared comedy of being Jewish. That’s missing, too, from this bohemia. Not so heimlich. In Greenwich Village, the Italians - the proletarian background against which deracinated Jews + provincials stage their intellectual and sexual virtuosity - are picturesque but pretty harmless. Here, turbulent marauding Arabs.’

Four cafes a night

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