And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

26 February

1834
Edmund Franklin Ely,
missionary and teacher

‘Was much amused, this evening, in the wigiwam, to hear a Child 3 Yrs old, sing several of Our Indian Hymns - in tunes whh the Children have learned from me. This family left here last fall & went down the river. The Child has learned them of its Br. & Sister.’

Not counting hedge hogs

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1839
Fanny Kemble,
actor

‘My dearest E, I write to you to-day in great depression and distress. I have had a most painful conversation with Mr –, who has declined receiving any of the people’s petitions through me. Whether he is wearied with the number of these prayers and supplications, which he would escape but for me, as they probably would not venture to come so incessantly to him, and I, of course, feel bound to bring every one confided to me to him, or whether he has been annoyed at the number of pitiful and horrible stories of misery and oppression under the former rule of Mr K –, which have come to my knowledge since I have been here, and the grief and indignation caused, but which can not, by any means, always be done away with, though their expression may be silenced by his angry exclamations of ‘Why do you listen to such stuff?’ or ‘Why do you believe such trash? don’t you know the niggers are all d–d liars?’ etc, I do not know; but he desired me this morning to bring him no more complaints or requests of any sort, as the people had hitherto had no such advocate, and had done very well without, and I was only kept in an incessant state of excitement with all the falsehoods they ‘found they could make me believe.’ How well they have done without my advocacy, the conditions which I see with my own eyes, even more than their pitiful petitions, demonstrate; it is indeed true that the sufferings of those who come to me for redress, and, still more, the injustice done to the great majority who can not, have filled my heart with bitterness and indignation that have overflowed my lips, till, I suppose, is weary of hearing what he has never heard before, the voice of passionate expostulation and importunate pleading against wrongs that he will not even acknowledge, and for creatures whose common humanity with his own I half think he does not believe; but I must return to the North, for my condition would be almost worse than theirs condemned to hear and see so much wretchedness, not only without the means of alleviating it, but without permission even to represent it for alleviation: this is no place for me, since I was not born among slaves, and can not bear to live among them.’

Remembering Fanny Kemble

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1885
Rudyard Kipling,
writer

‘Eye all right. W said it wasn’t and so lost my work for the day - served him right. Went to hospital [?] cocaine and was impressed. To Cinderella in the evening and was impresseder.’

Something of myself

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1900
A C Benson,
teacher and writer

‘Monday: hateful day of fierce, arid, consuming work, done, not for the improvement of the boys - indeed, apart from them - but to satisfy my critical colleagues. I go from school to school, with pupils and piles of exercises crammed in. I walked up to Windsor: some gleams of sun. Came down: saw Ainger and Cornish setting off for a walk, a thing they have done at 3:45 on Monday for thirty-five years - if only people would do something different! Ainger walks solidly, religiously, gravely. The boys all coming out of school, by the cannon - one talking to Bowlby with his hat off; they were doing this twenty-six years ago when I was a boy; and here I have been practically ever since, fast bound. I beat against the wires. What an odd poor thing life is - and yet should I be happier free? And that is the poorest thing of all, that the cage, the burrow, the haunt grows so dear. Watched a robin sing in my garden - hard-worked to keep himself fed; I suppose he was born, lived all his life and will die in this privet-hedge. Why should not I be content to do the same? And then it comes over me in a flash that I am nearly forty, and yet don’t feel as if the serious business of life had begun, or as if I had really settled down to a profession - as if that was to come.’

A C Benson’s inner life

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1909
Dorothy Shakespear,
artist

‘He (Ezra) has passed by the way where most men have only dreamed of passing. He has done with a Soul, that might be saved or damned - He has learned to live beside his body. I see him as a double person - just held together by the flesh.

His spirit walks beside him, outside him, on the left-hand side - He has conquered the needs of the flesh - He can starve; nay, is willing, to starve that his spirit may bring forth the ‘highest of arts’ - poetry. He has no care for hunger & thirst, for cold; of an ordinary man’s evils he takes no notice - “It is worth starving for” he said one day. He has attained to peace in this world, it seems to me. To be working for the great art, to be living in, and for, Truth in her Greatness - He has fond the Centre - Truth.’

Are you a genius?

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1941
Virginia Woolf,
writer

‘The fat woman had a louche large white muffin face. T’other was slightly grilled. [. . .] Brighton a love-corner for slugs. The powdered the pampered the mildly improper.’

Brighton in diaries

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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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