And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

27 January

Samuel Teedon,

‘I went to school, it proving a deep snow which came very suddenly. I had but 2 came which I dismissed, & in the afternoon I had but 6. Worthy so ill with his Cough we were all alarmed. I went down to Clark’s bought an handkerchief 2s 6d for Mammy & 4 Ells of cloth for myself 14d per Ell.’

Teedon and the poet Cowper


André-Marie Ampère,

‘At length she has arrived from Lyons; her mother did not come into the room at once. Apparently for the sake of looking at some vignettes, I knelt by her side; her mother came in and made me sit down by her.’

Ampère falling in love


Richard Henry Dana Jr.,

‘Dine with Dickens at F. C. Gray’s. [. . .] Like Dickens here very much. The gentlemen are talking their best, but Dickens is perfectly natural and unpretending. He could not have behaved better. He did not say a single thing for display. I should think he had resolved to talk as he would at home, and let his reputation take care of itself. He gave a capital description of Abbotsford [the mansion built by Walter Scott]. It was enough to make you cry. He described the hat Scott wore in his last illness, and the dents and bruises there were in it from his head falling against his chair when he lost the power of his muscles. It was heart-sickening. “And to think of a man’s killing himself for such a miserable place as Abbotsford is,” adds Dickens.

C. P. Curtis asks him if there were any such magistrates in London as Fang in “Oliver Twist.” Dickens says, “One just such, and many more like him,” and tells us that his Fang is a portrait of a magistrate named Tang, who was sitting when the book appeared, and that he was removed by the Home Department in ten weeks after the publication, upon a thorough inquiry. . .’

The slurs of vessel owners


John Addington Symonds,

‘Breakfasted with L. Stanley, and had an amusing party. Met Owen - old Balliol man, returned from Bombay College - Wordsworth, Green, Jackson, Ford, Wright, White, Bethel. Talked about “Essays and Reviews,” and the storm brewing for them; about Jowett’s parentage - Ford knows his mother and sister slightly, they live at Torquay; then of De Quincey, without some allusion to whom I hardly remember any intellectual Oxford breakfast go off; then about historic portraits - Wycliffe’s at Balliol, Chaucer’s from an old illumination, Dante’s in the Arundel Society’s publications. Sat on till 11.15. I went and wrote a long letter to papa about myself.’

A splendid liquid sky


George Bernard Shaw,

‘. . . had tea together at the Aerated Bread Shop at the corner of Parliament Square.’

GBS dines out


Ethel Turner,

‘Night started a new story that I shall call Seven Little Australians. I don’t think I’ll let it go in the Illustrated, if I can do without it there, I’ll see if I can get it published in book form.’

Seven Little Australians


Alma Mahler-Werfel,

‘This morning: practised. This evening: Dr Pollack and Narziss Prasch. Yesterday I played ‘Die Walküre’ until late at night. I like the first act best, particularly the close, ‘Blühe, Wälsungen Blut’. And the passage where Siegfried draws Sieglinde passionately towards him is wonderful - such fire, genuine erotic ardour. Is there anything to equal it?’

My throat is very sore today.

The talented Mrs Mahler


Douglas Haig,

‘After dinner I received a copy of a paper compiled by War Council at Versailles in which certain offensive projects were recommended to the Allied Government. All their proposals are based on theory and hard facts are ignored. I had a long talk with Lawrence on the personnel situation which seems to me likely to be very serious in the autumn owing to lack of men. Auckland Geddes only asks for 100,000 men for the Army. We must therefore look forward to having to reduce 16 to 18 divisions; against this we may put 7 or 8 American Divisions at the most. The French if attacked must reduce some 50 divisions, and at most can put only a dozen American Divisions in their place. Yet with these facts before us, the Versailles War Council writes a volume advising an offensive to annihilate the Turks in Palestine, as well as a great combined Franco-British one on the Western Front.

Repington has certainly stated the true case in his articles in the Morning Post, yet few seem to believe him.

The problem seems to me to be how to bring home to our Prime Minister’s mind the seriousness of our position and to cause him to call up more men while there is yet time to train them.’

Haig’s ‘unique’ WWI diaries


Patrick Leigh Fermor,

‘I left Koutloumousiou early yesterday, and started off downhill, the road winding beside a rushing torrent, breaking over great boulders, and dashing on in a lather of white foam. The peninsula here is entirely forested with evergreens, so that it is difficult to believe it’s only January; among the ilexes and oleanders are many olives, aspens, cypresses and cedar. The higher slopes are almost entirely fir.

Coming round a corner I saw a funny little grey-haired man sitting on the edge of an old stone well, with some big brown paper parcels beside him. He wished me good day in French, and giving me a cigarette, began to tell me all about himself. He was from Kavalla, and had lived on the Holy Mountain for four years, making maps of it, and copying ikons on wood. He showed me a few of these, they were good.

The sea soon came into sight round a bend, and the large monastery of Iviron, the high walls appearing above the trees. These walls are lofty, and have the effect of being much higher than they are long, as they are divided into sort of rectangular bastions, rising sheer to quite a height without a single window, then suddenly branching out into an overhanging balcony, with undulating tiled roofs, and the plaster painted bright colours - red, blue, green, in crude designs.

Several monks were sitting on benches in the big, sunny cobbled courtyard, half asleep, stroking their beards. [. . .]’

Paddy’s broken road


Gotthard Heinrici,

‘This morning bad news: the rollbahn was disrupted and the road to Gzhatsk closed by the enemy northwest of Yukhnov. Both two deadly threats. At the rollbahn the situation has been getting worse during the day. We were successful in reconquering a village in the north. In the evening both roads were still closed. And the enemy was pressing against the rollbahn from the north out of the forest . . . In our rear he landed airborne troops. We did not have anyone, because all our troops are tied up in fighting at the existing front line. The closed roads mean the end of our provisions. Only two days and the army will start starving to death.

Our forces to win back the roads are extremely meagre and motley. We do everything to increase them. But where do we get them? It is enough to drive one to despair. And Field Marshal Kluge reminds us that the Fuehrer demands we hold the position east of Yukhnov under all circumstances. It is by no means to be given up. And yet we are encircled in this very position. There is no other way to put it. It will depend on tomorrow if we can get free at the rollbahn. I fear not.’

What we need . . .


Jack Kerouac,

‘Had a fist-fight with my novel and drew 2500-poor-drops-of-blood out of it, and after the smoke of the battle was over, something probably important occurred to me: - to try writing in quick first drafts of just sheer dialogue and sheer description of the action, without pausing to arrange it all in sentence-form, that is, logical and rhythmical and clear. Not that I believe too strongly in clear and logical writing, but I do believe in the kind of writing that give effortless pleasure to the reader. In the end, I am my own greatest reader. Also, I believe in sane writing, as opposed to the psychotic sloppiness of Joyce. Joyce is a man who only gave up trying to communicate to human beings. I myself do that when I’m drunk-weary and full of misery, therefore I know it’s not so honest as it’s spiteful to blurt out in associations without a true human effort to evoke and give significant intelligence to one’s sayings. It’s a kind of scornful idiocy.’

The rush of what is said


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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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