And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

12 July

1699
Richard Newdigate,
landowner

‘Very hot. Rose pretty early. Agreed with Captain Radzee for his Yacht and with Thos. Harly and Wm. Cook for their Hoy (which is called the Success of Cowes) to carry our horses and Coach. Returned to Dinner and spent the rest of the day with our Company.’

But I spied crabs

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1777
Nicholas Cresswell,
tradesman and farmer

‘I think I have taken my farewell of New York, tho’ I promised to pay one visit more, but never intend to perform. Cannot bear the abominable hypocrite. I wish to be at Sea but hear nothing of our sailing this week. I wish to be at home and yet dread the thought of returning to my native Country a Beggar. The word sounds disagreeable in my ears, but yet it is more pleasing and creditable than the epithet of Rascal and Villain, even if a large and opulent fortune was annexed to them, though one of the latter sort is in general better received, than an indigent honest man. I am poor as Job, but not quite so patient. Will hope for better days. If I am at present plagued with poverty, my conscience does not accuse me of any extravagance or neglect of sufficient magnitude to bring me into such indigent circumstances. However, I have credit, Health, Friends and good Spirits, which is some consolation in the midst of all my distresses. Better days may come.’

Whores and rogues

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1823
Anne Lister,
landowner and traveller

‘Could not sleep last night. Dozing, hot & disturbed . . . a violent longing for a female companion came over me. Never remember feeling it so painfully before . . . It was absolute pain to me.’

A violent longing

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1840
Letitia Hargrave,
wife of colonist

‘All the ducks and geese are allowed to walk about deck on Sunday. Miserable objects, their bills white and whole appearance wasted. When they got out they picked their feathers and ducked down on the deck thinking themselves in the water. Mr Bolton likened the procession to Bells Sunday School - I shall note down a week’s bill of fare as we have a diet for every day. Breakfast ham and egg potatoes, tea and coffee biscuit and treacle which we always have morning and evening. Dinner. Fowl soup boiled hens, roast ducks, salt pork, plum pudding, always mashed potatoes, cheese wine almonds raisins and figs. Crossing the American line.’

York Factory lady

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1882
Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff,
politician

‘While the municipal address was being read to me this morning at Chittore, a huge elephant, belonging to the Zemindar of Kalastri, a great temporal chief, charged a smaller elephant belonging to the Mohunt or High Priest of Tripaty, thus dis-establishing the church much more rapidly, alas! than we did in Ireland. The stampede of the crowd was a sight to behold. The natives took to the trees like squirrels.’

Good-natured books

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1889
Alice James,
sister to writer

‘It’s amusing to see how, even upon my microscopic field, minute events are perpetually taking place illustrative of the broadest facts of human nature. Yesterday Nurse and I had a good laugh, but I must allow that decidedly she ‘had’ me. I was thinking of something that interested me very much, and my mind was suddenly flooded by one of those luminous waves that swept out of consciousness all but the living sense and overpower one with joy in the rich, throbbing complexity of life, when suddenly I looked up at Nurse, who was dressing me, and saw her primitive, rudimentary expression (so common here), as of no inherited quarrel with her destiny of putting petticoats over my head; the poverty and deadness of it contrasted to the tide of speculation that was coursing thro’ my brain made me exclaim, ‘Oh! Nurse, don’t you wish you were inside of me?’ Her look of dismay, and vehement disclaimer - ‘Inside of you, Miss, when you have just had a sick head-ache for five days!’ - gave a greater blow to my vanity than that much-battered article has ever received. The headache had gone off in the night and I had clean forgotten it when the little wretch confronted me with it, at this sublime moment, when I was feeling within me the potency of Bismarck, and left me powerless before the immutable law that, however great we may seem to our own consciousness, no human being would exchange his for ours, and before the fact that my glorious role was to stand for sick-headache to mankind! What a grotesque being I am, to be sure, lying in this room, with the resistance of a thistle-down, having illusory moments of throbbing with the pulse of the race, the mystery to be solved at the next breath, and the fountain of all happiness within me - the sense of vitality, in short, simply proportionate to the excess of weakness. To sit by and watch these absurdities is amusing in its way, and reminds me of how I used to listen to my ‘company manners’ in the days when I had ‘em, and how ridiculous they sounded.

Ah! Those strange people that have the courage to be unhappy! Are they unhappy, by the way?’

Geyser of emotions

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1899
Louis Agassiz Fuertes,
ornithologist and artist

‘Fisher and I (many others) went ashore on the mainland at Port Clarence Bay, Alaska, and went up the stream where the ship was watering. First bird seen was a pipit (A. Pensilv. ) and soon after saw the yellow wagtail which we had found in Siberia. It turned out to be common, several specimens were obtained. Alice’s thrush was common, + obtained for the first time on the trip. Cole got a Mealy? red poll, and I found a nest with 5 eggs - both redpolls seemed common enough. About the finest sensation we had was a successful hunt after golden plover. I got 3 + F. two, all in more or less perfect summer plumage. The birds have the most beautiful calls + song. They sit at quite a distance from each other in the wet mossy hill meadows and call and answer back + forth. The calls can all be imitated by a full clear whistle, so that the birds answer quite eagerly - whip whee + a shorter note of the same notes, lower, are the common calls, but the song is a rich full warble, of a cadence - repeated - somewhat suggesting a blue-bird song done in R.B. Grosbeak quality.

Dr. F. + I, while separated by quite a distance, saw at the same time a long tailed Jaeger, sitting on a moss tuft way off on a distant hill; and unbeknownst to it and to us, he became the apex of a triangle , where F. + I were doomed to meet. Our sneak became interesting as we neared each other, + became aware of our position. The bird however, relieved us of our responsibility, + let us both out in a sportsmanlike manner by catching sight of me first, and rising with a scream which I took for alarm at first, but when he repeated it came squealing straight at me, I saw that it was defiance, and there was nothing to do but wait for him to get the right distance and shoot in self-defence. When I had come up to the beautiful bird, + was kneeling over it, Fisher’s voice came up the rise -- “let me take the other,” + I looked up to see the mate rising as he approach, at rt [angles] to the course of the first one. Nearer he came, + I itched as he passed over me at nearly 40 ft. I could see him eye me, + his squealing cries were so near that their quality seemed surprising -- very like big hawk’s cries. His long tail feathers oscillated + spread slightly at the tips with each wing stroke. He went right by me, straight on towards Dr. F. + when he got just right -- bang -- and with wings set in a V he came smoothly down into the grass, and we sat together in the mossy hillside and held the first long-tailed jaegers that either of us had ever seen to shoot at. The feet were black, like black rubber, and the rest of the legs light bird blue and the bill black with a “milky flesh color” interior.’

Puffins, pipits and plovers

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1942
Hermione Llewellyn,
secretary and noblewoman

‘While we were talking several people joined us and soon an argument began as to whether we can hold the Germans in Egypt and what will happen if we don’t. There was talk of evacuation which I still find rather a sore subject. ‘Lord Byron said women and cows should never run,’ I said. A little man who was standing nearby turned round - he had a red, rather belligerent face: ‘And what use would you be?’ he asked. Robin came to my rescue: She would fight with the rest of us,’ he said. ‘Can you shoot? the stranger asked me. I shook my head - I was beginning to feel foolish. Red Face glared: ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I like that bit about Lord Byron. I’ll teach you to shoot. Be at the police station on the Jaffa Road at six tomorrow.’ He stumped off before I could ask his name.’

Reinforcements received

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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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