And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

14 July

Anthony Wood,

‘M., Mr. (John) Shirley, the Terra filius, of Trinity College, appeared and spoke a speech full of obscenity and prophaneness. Among the rest that he reflected upon, was me and my book: that I made it my employment to peere upon old walls, alters, tombes &c.; that I threated to geld the translator for gelding my booke; that I should say that he had altered my book so much that I did not know whether it was French or Latin; that I perused all privy houses to furnish me with matter to write my book (i.e., meaning from the shitten papers); and when all was done, my book was but fit to returne there againe, etc. But so obscure and dull it was, that few could understand who he meant or what, and therfore had no applause: all looked upon Dr. Wallis, but none upon me who sate within two places (?) of him (one of Peers’ low drunken company). But this was my comfort, that what he had uttered to my great disgrace, the vicechancellor in his concluding speech recruited all againe for upon speaking of the eminent men that have sprung from the University, he said that he would leave it (being too long to recite) to a book that would lately come forth.’

A cold clownish woman


Elizabeth Inchbald,

‘Rose at six to see Yarmouth then went to Bed again _ at nine oclock (the Wind against us) we anchored seven Miles from Yarmouth _ Mr Inchbald went a on shore with the Captain and brought fruit c& I cryd &c& while he was a shore _ after tea we all went on shore and was at a Little Cottage I was very dull there and more so after in the ship c&c. we had no supper _ talked of Ghosts c&c _ a very hot night.’

We came home we had Words


Elizabeth Simcoe,
artist and wife of colonial governor

‘Mr Scadding caught a beautiful green grass snake, which was harmless. After keeping it a day or two he let it go. The way of clearing land in this country is cutting down all the small wood, pile it and set it on fire. The heavier timber is cut through the bark five feet above the ground. This kills the tree, which in time the wind blows down. The stumps decay in the ground in the course of years, but appear very ugly for a long time, though the very large, leafless white trees have a singular and sometimes a picturesque effect among the living trees. The settler first builds a log hut covered with bark, and after two or three years raises a neat house by the side of it. This progress of industry is pleasant to observe.’

Travels in Upper Canada


David Elisha Davy,

‘I went by the Mail this morning to Little Glemham, having agreed to meet Darby there to proceed with him on to Iken & Snape. Arriving at Glemham before 7 o’clock, I had a good opportunity of visiting the church, which I had not seen for more than 20 years: besides I was very anxious to get impressions of the 3 brasses, in the Dormitory, upon the Glemhams. These I obtained, together with such other notes as I found, beyond my former ones. I was more than 2 hours in doing all this, & had then to wait half an hour for my companion, who at last arrived, when we proceeded on thro’ Blaxhall, where we stopped opposite to the Ship Public house there to look at a coat of arms carved on Oak, & fixed to the front of a cottage: these were formerly in Sudborn Hall; it was bought by the present owner abt. 30 years ago at an auction in the parish; & contains the arms & quarterings of Sr. Michael Stanhope Knt. a former owner of the Hall. We found the road from hence to Iken very heavy & bad, & were obliged to walk a good part of the way, & when we got to Iken, had some distance to go to obtain the key of the church, for which we were ill repaid, for the church contains not a single inscription, or monumental memorial of any kind: we found a few inscriptions in the churchyard: the building stands in a singular situation; on an elevated bank by the side of the river, far away from any house, & in the most inconvenient position for the population, which fortunately is but small.’22 September 1827

‘At the Parsonage at Hoxne. Walked to Syleham Church, to get the brasses there, & to pick up any other small matters I might have left at my former visit, & what might have been placed there since.

From Syleham Church walked to Brockdish Church, to see whether there was any thing in the churchyard which might be useful. I did not go into the church. From Brockdish, I walked on to Thorp Abbot’s; went into the church there, but found not a single memorial within, nor anything in my way without the church. Returned to Hoxne by the Water Mill.’

Many little matters


George Templeton Strong,

‘Eleven P.M. Fire bells clanking, as they have clanked at intervals through the evening. Plenty of rumours throughout the day and evening, but nothing very precise or authentic. There have been sundry collisions between the rabble and the authorities, civil and military. Mob fired upon. It generally runs, but on one occasion appears to have rallied, charged the police and militia, and forced them back in disorder. The people are waking up, and by tomorrow there will adequate organization to protect property and life. Many details come in of yesterday’s brutal, cowardly ruffianism and plunder. Shops were cleaned out and a black man hanged in Carmine Street, for no offence but that of Nigritude. Opdyke’s house again attacked this morning by a roaming handful of Irish blackguards. Two or three gentlemen who chanced to be passing saved it from sack by a vigorous charge and dispersed the popular uprising (as the Herald, World, and News call it), with their walking sticks and their fists.

Walked uptown perforce, for no cars and few omnibi were running. They are suppressed by threats of burning railroad and omnibus stables, the drivers being wanted to reinforce the mob. Tiffany’s shop, Ball & Black’s, and a few other Broadway establishments are closed. (Here I am interrupted by a report of a fire near at hand, and a great glare on the houses across the Park. Sally forth, and find the Eighteenth Ward station house, Twenty-second Street, near First Avenue, in full blaze. A splendid blaze it made, but I did not venture below Second Avenue, finding myself in a crowd of Celtic spectators disgorged by the circumjacent tenement houses. They were exulting over the damage to “them bloody police,” and so on. I thought discretion the better part of curiosity. Distance lent enchantment to that view.)

At 823 with Bellows four to six; then home. At eight to Union League Club. Rumor it’s to be attacked tonight. Some say there is to be a great mischief tonight and that the rabble is getting the upper hand. Home at ten and sent for by Dudley Field, Jr., to confer about an expected attack on his house and his father’s, which adjoin each other in this street just below Lexington Avenue. He has a party there with muskets and talks of fearful trouble before morning, but he is always a blower and a very poor devil. Fire bells again again at twelve-fifteen. No light of conflagration is visible. [. . .]

A good deal of yelling to the eastward just now. The Fields and their near neighbour, Colonel Frank Howe, are as likely to be attacked by this traitor-guilded mob as any people I know. If they are, we shall see trouble in this quarter, and Gramercy Park will acquire historical associations. O, how tired I am! But I feel reluctant to go to bed. I believe I dozed off a minute or two. There came something like two reports of artillery, perhaps only falling walls. There go two jolly Celts along the street, singing a genuine Celtic howl, something about “Tim O’Laggerty,” with a refrain of pure Erse. Long live the sovereigns of New York, Brian Boroo redivivus and multiplied. Paddy has left his Egypt - Connaught - and reigns in this promised land of milk and honey and perfect freedom. Hurrah, there goes a strong squad of police marching eastward down this street, followed by a company of infantry with gleaming bayonets. One A.M. Fire bells again, southeastward, “Swinging slow with sullen roar.” Now they are silent, and I shall go to bed, at least for a season.’

Wall Street palpitating


Samuel Wilberforce,

‘Survey my Life. What wonderful advantages - my father’s son, his favourite, and so, companion. My good mother, such surroundings. My love for my blessed one, compassing me with an atmosphere of holiness - my ordination - my married life - my ministerial. Checkendon, its bliss, arid its work opening my heart. Brighstone, Alverstoke, the Archdeaconry, the Deanery, Bishopric, friends. My stripping bare in 1841. My children. Herbert’s death-bed. How has God dealt, and what have I really done - for HIM? Miserere Domine is all my cry.

Cuddesdon Chapel. After meditation on Death, resolve:
(I) to take periodic times for renewing this meditation;
(II) to strive to live more in the sight of Death;
(III) to commend myself more entirely as dying creature into the Hand of the only Lord of Life.’

Descended from a bishop


Beatrice Webb,
economist and social reformer

‘Made arrangements to start the London School in its new abode at Adelphi Terrace in October. Engaged a bright girl as housekeeper and accountant. Advertised for political science lecturer - and yesterday interviewed candidates, nondescript set of university men. All hopeless from our point of view. All imagined that political science consisted of a knowledge of Aristotle and ‘modern’ writers such as de Tocqueville - wanted to put the students through a course of Utopias from More downwards. When Sidney suggested a course of lectures be prepared on the different systems of municipal taxation, when Graham suggested a study of the rival methods of election, from ad hoc to proportional representation, the wretched candidates looked aghast and thought evidently that we were amusing ourselves at their expense . . . Finally we determined to do without our lecturer - to my mind a blessed consummation. It struck me always as a trifle difficult to teach a science which does not yet exist.’

Webbs on the Web


Leo Baekeland,

‘Sunday. Started very early in my laboratory. Obtained the first large sample of Bakalite in a bottle. The subject looks very encouraging. I believe I have an excellent thing. and it would be a great disappointment if my patent application had been preceeded by an earlier invention of somebody else.’

Baekeland makes Bakalite


Alexandra Feodorovna,

‘Beautiful summers morning. Scarcely slept because of back & legs. Had the joy of an obednitsa - the young Priest for the 2nd time.

The others walked - Olga with me. Spend the day on the bed again Tatiana stayed with me in the afternoon.

Spir. Readings, Book of the Prophet Hosea, ch. 4-14, Pr. Joel 1- the end.

tea - tatted all day & laid patiences. Played a little bezique in the eveing, they put my long straw couch in the big room so it was less tiring for me.

Took a bath & went to bed.’

Death of the Romanovs


George Seferis,

‘In Alexandria I met Henri al-Kayem. This time last year he’d sent me his poems published by GLM (in the manner of Jouve); but it was only now that we managed to meet. His house is bright, full of light; books with familiar spines. They offer me iced tea and black Havana cigarettes. His wife is as tiny as he is himself: she’s a Malgache. Great refinement in the movements of her hands. Both of them very soft-spoken, they almost whisper. In their house I felt crass in my movements, like a steam-roller. There’s no peace to spare, to make the most of company like theirs. This time I was sorry for it.’

A bath in fish-glue


Don Kazimir,
sailor and submarine captain

‘At 1025 hours the ‘Ready for Sea’ checkout was completed. It was hoped the BEN FRANKLIN could leave port quietly with little fanfare; however, quite a crowd was on hand. The BEN FRANKLIN got underway at 1043 hours and passed the sea buoy at 1123 hours . . . At 2030 hours, the hatch was secured with the crew aboard. ‘Rig for Dive’ was completed . . . The boat descended smoothly - dribbled shot occasionally to slow descent. Trim good, no propulsion needed. At 2150 hours, we bottomed in 510 meters of water.’

The deeper you delve


Paul K Lyons,

‘This morning I walk for a few hours - it’s very, very busy with numerous street sellers, and a lot of smoke. I pass by several long narrow covered streets selling mostly clothing, shoes and fancy goods, handicrafts, copper, wood - rickety overhangs balanced on bent beams provide the shade. Everywhere, there are old buildings, once beautiful, but now falling down, and much building of modern blocks too. I visit the Umayyad Mosque. This is the most beautiful place I have yet seen. As you enter through the arches of a vast courtyard, there are the most fantastic mosaics of bright colours far above, with enchanting pictures of villages. To one side, there is a vast edifice with two beautiful altars of mother of pearl in wood and very detailed wood carving. People come here for cool and rest and prayer. In the middle is the tomb of the Prophet Yehia (John the Baptist) with a velvet cloth covering. So beautiful. For S£1 I go next to the Al Azm Palace, the 18th century home of The Pasha - one of the ruling class, a typical rich man’s house - here too are many lovely things. The rooms are smallish with the most beautiful wood carvings on doors and ceilings - painted so intricately with dour colours and gold in square patterns. The courtyard is very pretty, with many green plants - but this is usual. There’s a folkloric museum here too.

Later, I sit in a cafe drinking real lemon juice and watching a game of chess - everyone plays chess, backgammon or cards - a lot of water-pipes being smoked - iced water is free for all - shoe cleaners takes people’s shoes and clean them while they play or smoke. Khald is very happy because he has money. We all eat chicken brought to the house. They sleep, but I go out to walk a long way up a very steep hill. I turn and see Damascus - a panorama. Hot and weary I return. Khald goes to the cinema with his girl, while I walk in a pleasant garden in a mosque. I play a little chess with someone who claims to be the fifth best player in Syria. Khald is happy; but sad that I am going.’

Damascus diaries


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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 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.