And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

13 July

1583
William Lambarde,
antiquarian

‘At Cobham Hall my Lord and I licensed Edward Doret of Cobham to keep an alehouse. He was bound, in 20 li., and Thomas Harris and William Waite of Cobham, in 10 li. either of them, as his sureties, with the common condition. The same day we wrote to such of other parishes as occupied lands in Allhallows to contribute after the rate of 2 d. in the pound of their said lands towards the relief of the poor of Allhallows.’

Virtuous William Lambarde

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1699
Richard Newdigate,
landowner

‘Rose at three. Rode to East Cowes, ferryed over; went thro’ West Cowes to Radzee’s, boarded the yacht, saw how my goods were stowed, went on board the Successe, prevented their spoiling the carriage of my Chariot, which they would have knocked to pieces. Stowed her aboard the Yacht, Slinged my three horses on board. Returned to Barton. Gave my Daughter Mary a Breast Jewel (Diamond) worth £40, and my Daughter Nan a Diamond Locket worth £16. Gave little Wm Stephens a half Jacobus, and little Dick Sedley a quarter Carolus. Yesterday gave the servants half Crowns apiece. Breakfasted, and embarked first on the Hoy, to which Captn Radzee had returned the Carriage of the Coach, which I required him to take aboard his Yacht again. But he said he could not. Then I went and fetched my goods from aboard him, and sending back Nan and July, my son Stephens and Mr Scot, who were on board, we set sail in the Hoy and got against South Sea Castle that night. Lay rough. All were sick but Dick and I. Next day were becalmed. Could not lose sight oth’ Island. Lay rough again. About two ith’ morning a North East gale blew fresh and sent us forward.’

‘After two days and nights,’ writes Lady Newdigate-Newdegate, ‘of much discomfort on a stormy sea, the little company of six arrived within reach of Cherbourg on the French coast. The appearance of the ‘hoy’ with its unknown freight caused no little excitement in the inhabitants of the town. Sir Richard, as usual, is found equal to all emergencies, and nothing seems to escape his ‘roving’ and observant eye.’

But I spied crabs

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1822
Anne Lister,
landowner and traveller

‘Two kisses last night, one almost immediately after the other, before we went to sleep . . . Felt better, but was so shockingly low last night I cried bitterly but smothered it so that M- scarcely knew of it. At any rate, she took no notice, wisely enough . . . M- told me of the gentlemanliness & agreeableness of Mr Powis who, it seems, might interest M more than duly had her heart no object but C-, with whom she has had no connection these four months. Not down to breakfast till 11 . . . then, perhaps luckily for us, all in a bustle & M-off at 21. We were off in 1/2 hour.

Got here, the King’s Head, New Hotel, Llangollen, patronised by Lady Eleanor Butler & Miss Ponsonby, in 44 hours . . . Beautiful drive from Chester to Wrexham. It was market day & the town seemed very busy. Beautiful drive, also, from Wrexham here but I was perhaps disappointed with the first couple of miles of the vale of Llangollen The hills naked of wood & the white limestone quarries on our left certainly not picturesque. About 3 miles from Llangollen, when Castle Dinas Bran came in sight, we were satisfiede of the beauties of the valley but the sun was setting on the castle & so dazzled our eyes we could scarce look that way. The inn, kept by Elizabeth Davies, is close to the bridge & washed by the river Dee. We are much taken with our hostess & with the place. Have had an excellent roast leg of mutton, & trout, & very fine port wine, with every possible attention . . . We sat down to dinner at 8-1/2, having previously strolled thro’ the town to Lady Eleanor Butler’s & Miss Ponsonby’s place. There is a public road close to the house, thro’ the grounds, & along this we passed & repassed standing to look at the house, cottage, which is really very pretty. A great many of the people touched their hats to us on passing & we are much struck with their universal civility. A little [girl], seeing us apparently standing to consider our way, shewed us the road to Plas Newys (Lady Eleanor Butler’s & Miss Ponsonby’s), followed & answered our several questions very civilly. A little boy then came & we gave each of them all our halfpence, 2d. each.

After dinner (the people of the house took it at 10), wrote the following note, ‘To the Right Honourable Lady Eleanor Butler & Miss Ponsonby, Plasnewyd. Mrs & Miss Lister take the liberty of presenting their compliments to Lady Eleanor Butler & Miss Ponsonby, & of asking permission to see their grounds at Plas Newyd in the course of tomorrow morning. Miss Lister, at the suggestion of Mr Banks, had intended herself the honour of calling on her ladyship & Miss Ponsonby, & hopes she may be allowed to express her very great regret at hearing of her ladyship’s indisposition. King’s Head Hotel. Saturday evening. 13 July.’

The message returned was that we should see the grounds at 12 tomorrow. This will prevent our going to church, which begins at 11 & will not be over till after 1. The service is principally in Welsh except the lesson & sermon every 2nd Sunday & tomorrow is the English day. Lady Eleanor Butler has been couched. She ventured out too soon & caught cold. Her medical man . . . positively refuses her seeing anyone. Her cousin, Lady Mary Ponsonby, passed thro’ not long ago & did not see her.’

A violent longing

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1942
Hermione Llewellyn,
secretary and noblewoman

‘This evening I went straight from the hospital to the police station on the Jaffa Road. Red Face was waiting for me in a bare Arab room. I asked his name. ‘Call me Abercrombie,’ he said, ‘it’s as good as any other. Now sit down,’ he continued, ‘I shall tell you all I know. I was taught in America by “G” men and I am a bloody fine shot. Make the gun part of your arm. . . He showed me how to hold it easily in my hand, how to cock it and recock it without moving anything but my fingers and wrist. ‘Never pull the trigger,’ he said. ‘Your gun is like an orange in the palm of your hand. You must squeeze that orange.’ . . .

He took me over to the range. It was dark inside and after the stark Palestinian sun I could not see. ‘There are six dummy men in here,’ he said, ‘stay where you are and use your eyes. Kill them.’ He was unsparing. I shot with my right hand, with my left hand, and with both hands. I hated the noise and blinked my eyes. My wrist wobbled; my mind wobbled. He made me go on. Sometimes I shot in the dark. Sometimes he turned on the light. He bawled. I shot. ‘One, two. One, two. Now left. Now right. Now both together. Squeeze that orange. Keep your eyes open.’ Sweating and shy I plugged on, standing close-to and then far from his life-size dummies. After an hour he told me to return at the same time tomorrow.’

Reinforcements received

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1974
Paul K Lyons,
writer

‘After a cold shower, I’m up and out quick. The bus driver tries to rip me off 40L for a ride to Syria, so I hitch - 8km of no mans land signalled by barbed wire. A visa costs me nearly £2 - big rip off. I should have got a transit visa. By 10 I am in Syria. I hitch a ride to Allepo and take a bus to Damascus S£5. There is an English couple on the bus, but I take an immediate dislike to them. We three English are befriended - given cucumbers and nuts and asked our names. One of the passengers, a teacher, speaks English so we talk for a while. Several little girls are always smiling. The journey is long - five hours sitting and standing. At first, all the land is ploughed, but dry-looking with something growing but later it becomes arid and desert-like. I see many soldiers, and tanks shunting backwards and forwards. On the bus, Khald befriends me. We arrive by 6:00. Khald takes me to his flat which he shares with his brother and a friend. In the evening, we stroll slowly around the town, stopping to talk to friends, and always shaking hands when meeting and leaving them. Many boys walk together with arms or hands joined, very strange - everywhere is very lively - a glass of ice with lemon juice - a chapati with egg and mayonnaise and tomato, and another with meat and cucumber. I sleep well on the floor even though I sweat a lot at first.’

Damascus diaries

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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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