And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

30 December

Gilles de Gouberville,

‘[Pinchon] to take the Indian leather to make the soles of my boots, mules and slippers. . . . Sunday, jour des Rois, before I went to mass, servants arrived from Lagarde at Valognes, bringing me my boots, mules and slippers made from the leather I had given them. For red leather for the tops of my boots and for cork for the mules and slippers and for the making: 28 sols and 5 sols that I gave them for wine.’

I distrust the miller


Ralph Josselin,
priest and farmer

‘Spent some time in prayer at Mr Cresseners, the Lord good to mee yr in; about yt time at London, Dr Pullein’s busines was put to that issue, that if ye Earl of Oxford would stand by his present- acon of Dr Pullein, he might come into his living; the Lords name bee praised for this kindnes, the issue is in thy hand, oh Father.’

A boisterous yeare


John Thomlinson,

‘B Haddon sent me some apples, an orange, and a bottle of gooseberry wine to be drunk at Christopher’s. Uncle said he would be afraid to marry me into that family (i.e., Colingwood’s), I should gett into such a nest of drinkers at this time, etc.’

In search of a rich wife


Mirza Abul Hassan Khan,

‘After dinner we went to the Opera, which is a grand theatre like nothing I have seen before; it has seven magnificent tiers, all decorated in gold and azure, and hung with brocade curtains and paintings. [This was the King’s Theatre in Haymarket, the largest theatre in England at the time. It burnt down in 1867, and was replaced with another, which was demolished a few decades later to be replaced by Her Majesty’s Theatre, built in 1897, which is still extant.]

Dancers and sweet-voiced singers appeared one after the other to entertain us, acting and dancing likes Greeks and Russians and Turks. Their music and songs banished sorrow from the hearts of the audience. It is amazing that although 5,000 people may gather in the theatre, they do not make a loud noise - when they enjoy a song they clap their hands together; if they think the singing bad, they say ‘hiss’.’

I was utterly amazed!


George Brinton McClellan,

‘Started soon after daybreak minus the infantry who were not ready. Joined advanced guard, where Selby raised a grand scare about some Indians who were lying in ambush at a ravine called “los tres palos” in order to attack us. When we reached the ravine the guard halted and I rode on to examine it and look for the Indians - I found a bad ravine but no Indians.

On this same day the Major commanding the rear guard (Waterhouse, of the Tennessee Cavalry) was told by a wagonmaster that the advanced guard was in action with the Mexicans. The men, in the rear guard, immediately imagined that they could distinguish the sound of cannon and musketry. The cavalry threw off their saddle bags and set off at a gallop - the infantry jerked off their knapsacks and put out - Major and all deserted their posts on the bare report of a wagonmaster that the advance was engaged. A beautiful commentary this on the “citizen soldiery.” Had we really been attacked by 500 resolute men we must inevitably have been defeated, although our column consisted of 1700 - for the road was narrow - some men would have rushed one way, some another - all would have been confusion and all, from the General down to the dirtiest rascal of the filthy crew, would have been scared out of their wits (if they ever had any).

Our 100 infantry dodged off before we had done much work, and our own men did everything. We reached Encinal about 4 P. M. after a march of about 17 miles, and almost incessant labor at repairs. It was on this day that General Patterson sent back Brigadier General Pillow to tell Second Lieutenant Smith to cut down a tree around which it was impossible to go!!’

McClellan’s war in Mexico


Lady Aberdeen,

‘Photograph of all our party taken this morning on garden steps - first in furs & then in blanket coats by Topley. Luncheon at 12 then off with children to Assault at Arms given by Governor-General’s Foot-Guards at Opera House. This regiment a militia regiment which excites Capt. Kindersley’s ire inasmuch as it has adopted a uniform v. nearly resembling the Coldstream Guards. One man, Sergeant-Major Morgans, an old soldier from home did wonderful sword feats cutting a piece of lead two inches thick right through with one blow - cutting a stick hung on two loops of paper, suspended on two razors without cutting the paper & so on - a good deal of fencing & sword & bayonet encounters which greatly amused children.’

God save the Queen


William Burroughs,

‘Reading New Yorker, July 31, 1995, account of “firestorms” in Hamburg occasioned by Allied bombing. (They don’t need an Atom bomb.) Then Dresden, to break German morale. The result was history’s second major firestorm. Like I say, top people in USA and England were such shits as you can’t believe.

What is left in these minds? Very little of value to me or anyone I can relate to. “All my relations,” as the Indians say. Like the drug anti’s in Malaysia say: “dealers are not human to him.’ And he - Mohathir Mohamed, Prime Minister - is not human to me. I curse him with my whole heart. There is nothing in him I feel for, or with.

Same goes for the firestorm impresarios.

So as this inglorious chapter in the USA draws to a dreary close with Clinton squeaking like the rat he turned out to be, that [in] Arizona and California together courts [are] quasi-legalizing marijuana for medical or any other purpose. . .

You must mark it to its place. It is an ILLEGAL drug and by illegal, beyond question.’

Beat writer‘s last months


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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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