And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

28 January

Thomas Gyll,

‘My friend, David Hilton, was struck with a fit of the palsy: after proper evacuations had a good night, but grew worse the next day and afterwards grew better.’

Who died the last week


Caroline Powys,

‘This week the town was in a vast bustle at the opening of the Pantheon, and Mr. Cadogan was so obliging to send me his tickets for the first night. As a fine room I think it grand beyond conception, yet I’m not certain Ranelagh struck me not equally on the first sight, and as a diversion ’tis a place I think infinitely inferior, as there being so many rooms, no communication with the galleries, the staircase inconvenient, all rather contribute to lose the company than show them to advantage.’

Such interesting anecdotes


John Fletcher Moore,
civil servant and farmer

‘Yesterday one of my boys succeeded in catching a young emu alive. It is a wonderfully tame, even silly thing - like a young turkey; by the way, the same boy also succeeded in shooting a turkey, which I had to-day at dinner. It was delicious. I intended to have devoted this day to writing letters, as the mail is to be closed to-morrow, but here came Mr. Shaw with complaints about natives and other things, and I had to mount my horse, and I have been out all day. Have been making an experiment in wine. Have made five bottles just to try it. I have nearly written my eyes out in answering 33 questions about natives, to which the Governor has required replies. I think I may send them to you at some time. Baptist Noel would be glad to get the sketches I sent, if you do not wish to make any use of them.’

Early days in west Australia


Johann August Sutter,

‘Marshall arrived in the evening, it was raining very heavy, but he told me he came on important business. After we was alone in a private Room he showed me the first Specimens of Gold, that is he was not certain if it was Gold or not, but he thought it might be; immediately I made the proof and found that it was Gold. I told him even that most of all is 23 Carat Gold; he wished that I should come up with him immediately, but I told him that I have to give first my orders to the people in all my factories and shops.’

Sutter’s Gold Rush


Rudyard Kipling,

‘Scraps on Accidents on Indian Railways, The Dynamitard’s attempts at Westminster and Hume’s vegetarianism. About one column altogether. An easy day as far as the paper was concerned; there being plenty of matter in hand and not much proofwork.’

Something of myself


François Mauriac,

‘My son Claude to keep me pure.’

Burning at the heart


Bruce Lockhart,

‘Came on to Helsingfors as apparently we cannot get across the bridge. Arrived at 11.30 a.m. in Helsingfors to find the town in a state of revolution. No rooms to be had. Met Lednitski and wandered off with him and Hicks to see if he could get us rooms at the Polish priest’s. No catch, and as we were on the other side of town we could not get back to the Consulate for the firing. Most unpleasant. Stayed the night in small pension. Met Grove [Consul] and Fawcett, the Vice-Consul, who really runs the show.’

Secret agent in Moscow


Harvey Cushing,

‘I saw poor Jack McCrae . . . last night - the last time. A bright flame rapidly burning out. He died early this morning . . . Never strong, he gave his all with the Canadian Artillery during the prolonged second battle of Ypres and after at which time he wrote his imperishable verses. Since those frightful days he has never been his old gay and companionable self, but has rather sought solitude. A soldier from top to toe - how he would have hated to die in bed . . .

They will bury him tomorrow. Some of the older members of the McGill Unit who still remain here were scouring the fields this afternoon to try and find some chance winter poppies to put on his grave - to remind him of Flanders, where he would have preferred to lie.’

Ether, a gorilla, and poppies


Patrick Leigh Fermor,

‘I left Iviron after an early lunch yesterday, the track running close along the shore, sometimes over the high rocks, sometimes over the pebbles and sand of the beach, and sometimes winding away inland, a little footpath between the trees. It was really a succession of Devonshire combes, but full of wildly growing evergreens, with now and then a squat stone hermitage standing on a ledge of the mountainside, surrounded by dark cypresses.’

Paddy’s broken road


James Chuder Ede,

‘As I entered the Party Meeting Aneurin Bevan was pleading for ‘large scale abstentions’ in tomorrow’s division. Tinker vehemently opposed this but said there should be a free vote so that no one need sit on the fence of abstention. Muff warned the abstentionists that they should read in the Book of Revelations the fate that threatened Laodicea. Pressed to say what that was he defined it as a process of regurgitation Philips Price said we should give a jolt to the Government but not bring it down. The 1922 Committee had been satisfied about India & the maintenance of private enterprise, therefore we were entitled to feel misgivings. Bellenger wanted a reasoned amendment. Woodbum said abstentionists were trying to break up the Govt. He objected to seeing the Labour Party as an appendage to Henderson-Stewart. No one could be acquitted of lack of foresight. The Chamberlain Govt, was brought down by the abstentionists. Shinwell said it was clear the Party could not vote against the Government. American shipping would not be available until the end of 1943 & would then be inadequate. It should not be assumed that if he was seen talking with Winterton in the corridors that he was intriguing; he was probably discussing fat stock prices. Mainwaring said the discussion had been more mischievous than helpful.

Pethick-Lawrence lucidly summed up. We had to say whether we supported the Govt, or not. The Party had four courses open to it. (1) To oppose the Govt. No one had suggested that. (2) To allow a free vote. That would be a serious decision in an affair of this importance. (3) To have large abstentions. How this was to be arranged no one had explained although Muff had chaffingly suggested the A-M names should abstain & the N-Z names should support the Government. P.-L. suggested this course would render Labour Ministers continuance in the Govt. very precarious. (4) To support the Govt. Tinker insisted on moving for a free vote. 16 voted for this & 53 for supporting the Govt. Silverman asked that those against this should be counted and only 12 held up their hands . . .

When the P.M. left the House he remarked to Sandys, who was sitting beside me, that there was a lot of bitterness & there would be a rough journey . . .’

The Chuder Ede diaries


Cecil Harmsworth King,

‘Lunch with Dennis Hamilton and Hussey at The Times. Both very friendly and it was nearly three o’clock before I got away from Ken Thomson and others. First, Fleet Street. Denis had done his best with The Guardian but they insist on maintaining their independence, in spite of now moving into the red on both papers together. The obvious move is for The Times in London, The Guardian in Manchester and The Scotsman to co-operate with news and other services; but Richard Scott, the chairman of the trustees (and Washington correspondent!) of The Guardian will have none of this. It is thought The Sketch will fold in the next few weeks. It has been making a small contribution to overheads but is doing so no longer. . . Murdoch is threatening to start a new evening paper if the News and the Standard merge. It would be a sort of evening News of the World. The Sunday Telegraph is losing a lot of money, and The Observer in serious financial trouble. The Mirror has lost all its character and has become an imitation Sun. The unions continue as militant, short-sighted and irresponsible as ever. I have been told recently . . . that the Central Branch of the paper workers is politically dominated by a group called the International Socialists . . . [and that] these Socialists get money from China via Ceylon and that this is well known to the Special Branch. The Times has done quite well out of its increase in price to 1s and its losses are now manageable.

The Sunday Times has bought Wilson’s book on his six years in office. He is receiving £260,000 and the book will be out about May. Denis thinks he is going to tell all (why not make sure - for that money?) and he certainly goes to town on George Brown. The Times has bought Rab Butler’s memoirs. According to Denis he was very dependent on his first wife for decision and courage, but had a built-in sense of timing and a feel for politics all his own.’

Cecil Harmsworth King


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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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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, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.