And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

3 February

1887
Francis Turner Palgrave,
civil servant and poet

‘A very pleasant visit to Browning. He was very affectionate and open, and told much of his earlier days. I was sorry to hear that he had lately been clearing his papers, and had burnt letters which, while his parents lived, he had written to them by way of minute daily journal from Russia, Italy, and England.’

Professor of poetry

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1896
Lady Aberdeen,
philanthropist

‘Some doubt has been expressed as to whether our historical fancy dress Ball should proceed because of the mourning. But as it is fixed for a month after Prince Henry’s death, as its being put off would not only entail loss not only on the tradesmen but on the guests who have gone to a good deal of trouble in ordering their dresses, & as postponement to after Lent would be very precarious seeing the state of political affairs, we think there can be no doubt about its going on. It is to be on the 17th, the last possible day before Lent, & now people are fairly interested in it. At the outset, the project had a good deal of cold water dashed at it - there was not time - people would not dress - people had not the money & so on. Then when we arranged with Montreal costumiers to provide dresses for gentlemen from $5 to $10, wigs & shoes extra & to give designs for costumes for ladies free, leaving them to have them made up, there came the political crisis. The costumiers came & took rooms at Ottawa & sat there & waited, but no one came - everybody was at the House.

Dr Bourinot, the clerk of the House of Commons (and a great authority on constitutional history), has been my mainstay. He suggested all the personages we might represent and their characteristics & has entered into the whole affair with enthusiasm. To tell the honest truth, we started this idea of having a Ball representing the outstanding periods of Canadian history, with the hope that it might lead to the young people reading up a bit & that it might divert Ottawa gossip at least into past times, away from all the painful & humiliating episodes of the present political situation & the everlasting discussion of hockey & winter sports varied with Ottawa society scandal. It was a sort of forlorn hope, but actually it appears to be succeeding - the last fortnight has made a great difference & now you hear everyone anxious to trace out the lineage & deeds of General this & Admiral that & of Madame la Marquise or the others. We had a meeting of the ladies who have undertaken to organise dances representing the various periods last Saturday & ascertained their views on various points. I enclose a copy of what we have put in the papers on this point.’

God save the Queen

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1907
Lady Minto,
philanthropist

The Drummonds left at 8 a. m. Roily and I started in the motor at 11 o’clock for Barrackpore; the others came by launch. The Amir arrived at 1 o’clock and remained till 6 o’clock; he enjoyed himself so enormously. I was so exhausted after looking after him for all those hours that I went straight to bed, having had a terrible week of fatigue with the Fete. The Adams, Clem, Violet Crawley, and Lena Ashburton all came to help us to entertain the Amir, but what he really enjoyed was playing croquet with Eileen; he had never seen the game before, and enjoyed it so much that to my horror he suggested returning the next day to have another lesson. Sir Henry McMahon came to our assistance and put difficulties in the way. There was a good deal of chaff about a policeman who was engaged to guide him from Hastings House to the Lieutenant-Governor’s, a distance of a 100 yards; but the man lost his head and took him round and round and contrived to keep him 3/4 of an hour en route. The Amir said he was quite glad of this, as it had given him such amusement. I told him that he had visited so many places in Calcutta that he must know the city so much better than I did, that he could certainly be my guide. He answered with a bow - “If I was your guide, I should only guide you to Hastings House” (where he is lodging). After luncheon he said he had a few presents he wished to give us, and under the banyan tree were four separate piles of goods for myself and the three girls. He took the greatest delight in giving us each individual thing. The girls waited while he made me my presentations - first a lovely diamond and ruby bird of paradise, then some Astrakhan skins and other furs, and innumerable stuffs all made in Afghanistan, a shawl he insisted on pinning round me, and lastly two beautiful Persian rugs. Each girl had exactly the same in smaller numbers: Eileen a lovely ruby and diamond ribband ornament, Ruby five small diamond stars, and Violet one larger one, unfortunately all set in gold. Rolly was given the presents on a previous occasion. Gigantic carpets, furs, stuffs - and some Indian silver; also a silver cigarette-case with Venus in coloured enamel! a most startling apparition, but these will have to go to the Toshakahna. The Amir and I drove round the garden in the small pony-carriage. He is very fat and broad, and I had almost to sit on the spash board to avoid being squeezed flat by his portly figure. The shrubs are looking beautiful and are now in full bloom. Bill Lascelles has returned from Singapore; be was nearly boiled alive, and is most thankful to have got back again. It was an expedition he is glad to have experienced but is heartily thankful it is over.’

Lady Minto’s Indian diary

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1908
Lady Minto,
philanthropist

‘Remained at Barrackpore till the evening, planning garden improvements. Our big dinner party was postponed on account of the court mourning. Returned to Calcutta.’

Lady Minto’s Indian diary

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1907
Zorina Gray,
actress

‘It was very exciting this afternoon - the public was present and liked it a lot. They died of laughter over Olive Blackney, who is such a marvelous comedienne. All my scenes went very well until the change from the striptease girl into the ballet costume, but Zenobia went without a hitch, which gives me a lot of confidence. Wiman and Henson were so sweet to me - one can’t imagine it - Henson: “I am so happy to have worked with you - and always keep your head as small as it is now.” Received long, long letter from Louis Shurr with big prospects for Hollywood.’

My knees felt like macaroni

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1944
Anne Frank,
young woman

‘I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway. I’ll just let matters take their course and concentrate on studying and hope that everything will be all right in the end.’

This cruelty too shall end

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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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