And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

18 January

1602
John Manningham,
lawyer

‘I rode with my cosen’s wife to Maidstone; dyned at Gellibrands.

As we were viewinge a scull in his studye, he shewed the seame in the middle over the heade, and said that was the place which the midwife useth shutt in women children before the wit can enter, and that is a reason that women be such fooles ever after.

My cosen shee said that the Gellibrands two wives lived like a couple of whelpes togither, meaninge sporting, but I sayd like a payre of turtles, or a couple of connies, sweetely and lovingly.

Mr. Alane, a minister, was very sicke. Gellibrand gave him a glyster, and lett him bloud the same day, for a feuer; his reason was, that not to have lett him bloud had bin verry dangerous; but to lett bloud is doubtfull, it may doe good as well as harme.

My cosen shee told me, that when shee was first married to hir husband Marche, as shee rode behinde him, shee slipt downe, and he left hir behinde, never lookt back to take hir up; soe shee went soe long a foote that shee tooke it soe unkindly that shee thought neuer to have come againe to him, but to haue sought a service in some vnknowne place; but he tooke hir at last.

Wee were at Mrs Cavils, when she practised some wit upon my cosen. Cosen she called double anemonies double enimies.’

Shakespeare’s name William

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1815
Francis Rawdon-Hastings,
politician

‘Our lionesses were measured last night; one was nine feet four inches from the nose to the tip of the tail; the other two inches less. In such a measurement the tail of the lion furnishes less than that of the tiger to the general amount. Anxious interest, as had been the case on a former occasion, was made with our servants for a bit of the flesh, though it should be of the size of a hazel-nut. Every native in the camp, male or female, who was fortunate enough to get a morsel, dressed it and eat it. They have a thorough conviction that the eating a piece of lion’s flesh strengthens the constitution incalculably, and is a preservative against many particular distempers. This superstition does not apply to tiger’s flesh, though the whiskers and claws of that animal are considered as very potent for bewitching people.’

Meeting lionesses

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1842
Richard Henry Dana Jr.,
lawyer

‘Nothing talked of but Dickens’ arrival. The town is mad. All calling on him. I shan’t go unless sent for. I can’t submit to sink the equality of a gentleman by crowding after a man of note.’

The slurs of vessel owners

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1864
Mary Boykin Chesnut,
wife of political aide

‘Our Congress is so demoralized, so confused, so depressed. They have asked the President, whom they have so hated, so insulted, so crossed and opposed and thwarted in every way, to speak to them, and advise them what to do.’

Chesnut’s Civil War diary

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1881
Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff,
politician

‘The worst day I ever saw in London, or anywhere else, except when I crossed the Cenis in December 1860. My wife, who was coming up to London from High Elms, was happily sent back by the station-master at Orpington, and only regained the house with great difficulty; the carriage being almost stopped in the deep wreaths of snow.’

Good-natured books

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1919
Breckinridge Long,
diplomat

‘Today may be epoch marking in the history of the World. The Peace Conference opened its sessions in Paris with the representatives of the civilized world assembled around the board. It is announced there that the League of Nations will be one of the first - the first - number in the order of business. President Wilson has won the first of his fights, and will no doubt prevail in establishing a League. It is necessary to the successful work of the Congress that the Nations represented should be in accord. How then could they be bound except by a League? Reverting to the Democratic platform of 1916 it is evident the President had in mind early in 1916 the general terms of peace and the evolution of a League of Nations. He has worked skillfully toward that object ever since.’

The League is the solution

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1968
Eric Morecambe,
performer

‘Today I was asked to become President of Kimpton Players. It sounds like a football team, but it’s a group of amateur actors and actresses who do local shows for charity. It should be quite interesting. They are doing an old time music hall show in a few weeks time, so I’ll be getting a party together and going along. Ern and I had a meeting with our writers, Sid Green and Dick Hills, at Roger Hancock’s office. We went to talk over a film idea for this coming summer. After a few drinks, conversation loosened up and Sid and Dick came out with the idea of doing a film about gypsies, where Ern and I are something to do with the council, and we have the job of moving them on, off the land that they are on. Although they had a few good situations within the film I could see Ern was not too happy about it, and I must admit I wasn’t jumping for joy. It’s a good idea, but it’s an idea anyone could do. It’s not pure Morecambe & Wise. Over lunch I happened to mention an offbeat idea I had for a film, which all thought funny. At that point Sid said that if that was the type of film we were thinking in terms of, he was all for it. So it looks as if we may after all be doing a type of film that we are all keen to do. The boys went off to write it up. We meet again next week.’

Hammers inside my head

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Notes and Cautions
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.

For any other use of these diary extracts other than browsing please refer to the original sources.

Any author, publisher or other copyright holder who takes the view that I am unacceptably breaching their copyright please let me know. I have tried to remain sensitive to copyright rules (using far fewer quotes, for example, when a book, by an author still alive, remains in print and popular), but it is not practical for me to seek authorisation for every quote and article, since I maintain these websites without any funding or advertis-ing. I take the view that publicity for the source books is a quid pro quo for my use of the extracts, but I am more than happy to remove the extracts if asked.

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The Diary Junction is one of those wonderful privately maintained public resources for which the Internet is justly celebrated: a database of information about celebrated and obscure diaries[over 500] from all historical periods, with referrals to the dates the diaries cover, where the originals are held and bibliographic information on published versions.’ Laura Miller, Salon

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, usually several every week. The blog has been publishing for over five years, and is the secondary source for the diary extracts in this online anthology.