And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

14 January

Gilles de Gouberville,

‘Tonight, about eleven o’clock, I sent Francois Doisnard to my cousin de Brillevast and to Captain du Téil, with letters asking them to come to our aid for the choule [ball game] at Saint-Mor, tomorrow. I asked them to send me an answer before mass in the morning.’

I distrust the miller


Count de Benyovszky,
soldier and explorer

‘On the 14th, we quitted Macao, where the Governor saluted me with twenty-one guns, from the principal fortress; and, after a tedious passage, we arrived at last at the mouth of the Tigu; where we were very civilly received by a Mandarin, though he at first refused to permit us to go on shore: the sight of a purse of piastres, however, abated his severity; which was so much altered by this circumstance, that he offered permission for us to take lodgings in the fort.’

The king of Madagascar


Henry Fynes Clinton,

‘Left Welwyn, and arrived in Dean’s Yard at twelve. House of Commons in the afternoon. Sworn in; my fourth election as a Member of Parliament.’

The writer vs the orator


Philip Hone,
businessman and politician

‘The ship “Wellington,” of 740 tons burden, was launched this day from Bergh’s ship-yards. She is intended for Grinnell, Minturn, & Co.’s London line of packets. The great duke (as the Spaniards used to call him) ought to be highly gratified at this compliment from republican America. How things are changed! A supposed predilection for Old England, charged upon the Federal party thirty years ago, lost them their political ascendency. At that time men were afraid to wear a red watch-ribbon, lest it might be taken for a symbol of Toryism and bring the wearer a broken head; but now the two old women who govern England and America are great cronies, and their subjects better friends than they were before the battle of Concord; and the name of the Prince of Conservatives, the greatest aristocrat in Europe, graces the bows of one of the most noble ships of which America has reason to be proud.’

A jewel beyond price


John Gilbert,

‘Continuing our route down the Mackenzie, at 2 1⁄2 miles crossed a large Flagstone creek running in from the westward, this was the extent of the Drs. reconnoitring: from this we kept the banks of the river, passing many fine reaches of water, the banks very much cut up into deep gullies and ravines, rendering it rather difficult travelling, but our Bullocks have now become so accustomed to this sort of work, they face the crossings without any attempt to throw off their loads as at first. At about three miles from the flagstone creek we came upon a sudden bend of the river to the westward, on the opposite side of which a large creek from the eastward came in; up to this part the rivers course was about NE, it now ran West and NW for about 5 miles, at first very narrow and the bed frequently dry; at the end of a large pool we came upon the rocky shallow bed, from the sides jutted out several thin layers of Coal, nodules of Quartz, Iron stone &c were lying in the bed, but the general formation is sandstone. Here we found three new shells, a Cyclas and a Potamis and a Paludina. From this we came upon a beautiful clear grassy flat, and where we could have camped, but the bed of the river was dry: we moved on about half a mile further and camped at the junction of a small creek, the banks of the river still as steep and as difficult to reach water as before; it being but a small pool we did not succeed in catching any fish. Just before coming to camp, we saw two Native women busily engaged in collecting Mussel from the opposite bank; as soon however as they observed us they ran up the banks in the greatest fright. That we are in a country much inhabited seems clear to us all from the many indications we everywhere meet with, but more particularly from the immense collections of Mussel shells everywhere met with in heaps on the banks; as yet however we have not met with bones of fish and very few of Kangaroo and other animals. The Dr. & Brown set off to explore the river downwards, Charlie accompanied them to lead us a short stage tomorrow. We today made a discovery which is important to us all, particularly those with indifferent teeth, hitherto our dried Beef which has always been so excessively hard and ropey that, notwithstanding the different methods of cooking, always produced a pain in our jaws and gums. Today we beat the meat with a hammer before stewing and found a most agreeable change in consequence, the general flavour of the meat seems improved and the soup richer and the meat not at all stringy.’

A spear through the throat


Sanford Fleming,

‘The weather is unusually mild, it rained almost all day. In the evening a fire broke out in Yonge Street in a wooden house, but owing to the rain and the plentiful supply of water in the ditches, the fire was prevented from going farther.

Adieu to my youth


Arthur Hamilton Baynes,

‘Holy Communion at 5.45, in our little mess-tent. Only a few officers. Then after a cup of tea, church parade at 7. As we are two chaplains, we agreed to take two battalions each, so that all could hear. I had the 60th Rifles and the Scottish Rifles, and the Navals, and a few odds and ends; and Hill had the Rifle Brigade and the Durham Light Infantry. General Buller and some of his staff and General Lyttelton came to my service, and it was a charming spot with a little crescent of rocky hill, so that the men were in tiers above me, and during the sermon they could sit on the rocks. I preached from the second lesson, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead,” and showed them that a chaplain was not simply to console the dying and to bury the dead. After service I took my books and went up the hill. The two big naval guns have been brought up here from Chieveley (the Boers don’t know it yet, but they soon will). It is odd that the most useful guns were only improvised on the spur of the moment. Captain Scott, of the “Terrible,” designed and made the huge carriages to move these ship-guns on, and now they can take them with spans of oxen quite long journeys and up steep hills. They are enormous things, with great long muzzles.

I asked the naval sentry to let me look through their big telescope. I could see the Boers at 8,000 yards, quite plainly - could see which had blue shirt sleeves and which had white - as they worked in the trenches. But only a few were working to-day; a fair number were sitting on the top of Spion Kop, looking at us. But the two guns are just enough below the ridge to be out of sight. Then I went over the ridge and down into the bush, on the other side, where there was more shade. I got a very comfortable seat under a tree. If the Boers had taken a shot at our naval guns I should have been too near to be pleasant; but this was not likely, especially on a Sunday. While I sat and read a partridge came out of the long grass to within three yards of my foot. Back to write and read, and then lunch and some English papers. But nothing for me. I have not had a letter or a paper since I left Maritzburg, last Friday week. It is awful to think what I may be neglecting. At 6 we had a voluntary service as last week. Hill read, and I preached from the first lesson, “I dwell with him that is of a humble and contrite heart” (“Lest we forget”).’

On the look out for Boers


George Adamson,

‘Went out for walk with Joy and she told me that Bally is impotent, pretty tragic. During the night I heard Joy crying. I’d like to help her - Bally seems a very decent fellow, but at the same time he is a bit of an “old woman” and I can quite understand a woman like Joy wanting a man with red blood in his veins.’

A life of Joy and lions


Henry Agard Wallace,

‘. . . Ernst asked what the President was going to do with Jesse Jones? I said, “Why should he do anything with Jesse Jones?” Ernst replied, “Well if he takes care of Jesse in some way, it will reduce the amount of discord.” I said, “Well, it seems to me it would be better for the President to fight on this issue and get licked than to give Jesse something.” In other words, what I was really saying to Ernst was that I would rather not to be confirmed by the Senate than to have Jesse Jones still in government.’

The 33rd vice president


Harold Frederick Shipman,

‘[My wife] and the kids have to go on without me when it is the right time. Got to keep the façade intact for the time being.’

I’m looking at dying


Harold Frederick Shipman,

‘56 today, cards from everyone - very very sad day, not what life is about at all. [ ] not very good, it must be dreadful for her.’

I’m looking at dying


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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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