And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

26 July

1672
Elizabeth Freke,
landowner

‘Being Thursday, I were again remarried by me deer father by Doctter Uttram att St Margaretts Church in Westminster by a licence att least four years in Mr Freks pocttett and in a grievous tempestuous, stormy day for wind as the above for raigne. I were given by me deer father, Ralph Frek, Esqr, and the eldest of his four daughters and the last married, being contracted to him by promise for five years before, butt unwilling to give my sisters any president of my misfortunes prognosticated to mee by the two tempestuous and dreadful days I were married on and which I looked on as fatal emblems to me. Eliza. Freke.’

Elizabeth Freke’s misfortunes

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1757
Robert Lester,
diplomat

‘At 10 this Morning we came to the Place, where the House, beforementioned, is built for the King’s reception; the King’s Barge lay close to it, and numbers of other Boats all about it, there being four foot Water, all round it; occasioned by the swelling of the River since it was built; at Noon Antonio came, and told me that the King wanted me, I dressed myself and went with him to the said House, or Island but found the King was gone into His Barge, on which the Prince of Persaim let him know I was come, his answer was I must follow him to Lunzee, a Place much farther up the River, and the King went away immediately. But now the Promise made to Antonio on the 20th instant (as I expected) won’t do, he now tells me that Mr. Brooke, former Chief of the Negrais, promised the Prince, of Persaim, thirty Viss of Silver, and himself twenty; if the King’s Chop was fixed to our Treaty; and that I must give them from under my Hand, in the Name of The Company, that those Sums must be paid, otherwise no Chop should be affixed to our Treaty; I told them, The Company was at a great expence, and must be at a much greater, before they could bring the Negrais, and Persaim, to any Perfection, and this was a very large Sum.

Now, I am certain that nothing can be done without the Interest of the above Men; this Affair has subsisted a long time, and is of the utmost Consequence; there has been many Embassies before, on this head, and attended with a great Expence to The Company, and if I don’t finish now, there must be another Embassy (with a Present) on the same Account, I therefore concluded, within myself, to make them an Offer, and put the finishing stroke to this long Affair, which I did of Twenty Viss, which was not accepted, and on their going into their Boats I made them an Offer of Twenty-five, which was likewise refused; so we parted: the remainder part of this Day we have been following the King, but did not come up with him at Night.’

An audience with Alaungpaya

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1797
Elizabeth Fremantle,
wife of sailor

‘Fremantle had a very good night’s rest he has no fever at all, his wound was dressed at twelve oclock and Fleming says it looks very well. It is a wonder how nothing but the flesh was hurt as two musquet balls went through the arm, about 15 of our men are wounded and two dead we are lucky as the other Frigates lost about 20 men a piece and some of the line of battle ships a hundred. The Admiral is coming on very well, he wrote me a line with his left hand.’

Nelson’s diary, and left hand

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1823
Thomas Moore,
poet and singer

‘Sailed in the Ivanhoe; took to my berth and peppermint lozenges, but felt deadly sick all the way. Came in a chaise (Casey and I), from Howth, and broke down when near Dublin; got into a jaunting-car, and arrived at Casey’s, where I dined. Never shall forget the welcomeness of his good mutton broth, to which was added some very old port, and an excellent bottle of claret. Went afterwards in a hackney-coach to Abbey Street. Found my dearest father and mother watching for me at the window; my mother not looking so well as when I last saw her, but my father (though, of course, enfeebled by his great age) in excellent health and spirits. Sweet little Nell, too, quite well.’

Doomed to sing

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1902
Victor Trump,
sportsman

‘Won by three runs. Australia 86, England 120. MacL 35, Theatre Knowles . . . glorious time.’

Ran about all day

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1920
Earl Mountbatten of Burma,
sailor and viceroy

‘After dinner the State Organizer came aft with a telegram asking if a boy scout might present H.R.H. with a native bear before lunch on the next day. A vote was taken in the after saloon as to whether this gift should be accepted or refused. No one voted for it to be taken right home to England, but everyone except the Admiral voted that it should be accepted for a time, even if only for a day or two, to see what it was like. The Admiral made a very stirring speech denouncing the acceptance of the gift on the grounds that the beast would perish owing to the change of climate, and that the Renown did not want it on board. He was, however, counted out and the bear accepted pro tem.’

Mountbatten - young and lighthearted

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1932
Anthony Eden,
politician

‘He will not fight for his own policy. He expects the Cabinet to find his policy for him. That they will never do. They want to be told. The only result of present procedure is F.O. pushed into the background, which is not good either. . . . Poor Simon is no fighter. Nothing will make him one.’

The 1st Earl of Avon

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1956
Hugh Gaitskell,
politician

‘During the past fortnight or so the King of Iraq has been here and there have been various functions: one at Buckingham Palace, another at the Iraq Embassy and a third this evening at No. 10 Downing Street. The King, who is a boy of 21, brought with him the Crown Prince, his uncle, and also Nuri es-Said, the old statesman, now aged 67, who has been Prime Minister of Iraq on and off for the last 30 years. [. . .]

But the most dramatic moment was tonight at the dinner at No. 10. At about 10:45, I was sitting next to the King talking to him in one of the apartments, with the Lord Chancellor sitting near. We had been talking for some time about this and that, when Eden came up and said, “I want you to know - and I think the Opposition should know as well - what Nasser has done tonight. He has made a speech announcing that he is going ahead with the Aswan Dam, that they cannot get any foreign money, but that, nevertheless, they are going ahead, and, in order to finance it, they are taking over the Suez Canal Company, and will collect dues which the Company receives from ships using the Canal”. I asked if he had taken action in support of this. Eden said that he understood that the Egyptian police had taken over the offices and the building of the Company already. A little later, Eden corrected what he had said and added that Nasser apparently also indicated that he was going to increase the dues very substantially in order to raise the money for the Dam. I asked him what he was going to do. He said he was getting hold of the American Ambassador immediately. He thought perhaps they ought to take it to the Security Council, and we then had a few moments conversation about the consequences, Selwyn Lloyd the Foreign Secretary standing near.

I said “Supposing Nasser doesn’t take any notice?” whereupon Selwyn Lloyd said, “Well, I suppose in that case the old-fashioned ultimatum will be necessary”. I said that I thought they ought to act quickly, whatever they did, and that as far as Great Britain was concerned, public opinion would almost certainly be behind them. But I also added that they must get America into line. This should not be difficult, since, after all, the Americans had themselves precipitated this by their decision to withdraw all financial assistance for the Aswan Dam. There was some discussion about what the Russians might do. Evidently, said Eden, they had not provided the money, but, he said, they may, of course, back them up on this. I said that I was not so sure especially if they have to pay the higher dues themselves on their own ships. Moreover, they wanted to be with the big boys now, and it might not suit their policy to support Egypt. In a half-joking way, I said, since the King and Crown Prince were both standing there, “What do you think about it?” The Crown Prince rather wittily replied, after a bit, “We had better send for our Prime Minister too - that’s the constitutional position”. Whereupon there was general laughter.’

What Nasser has done tonight

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2001
Jeffrey Archer,
politician and writer

‘5.03am. I’ve slept for seven hours. When I wake, I begin to think about my first week in prison. The longest week of my life. For the first time, I consider the future and what it holds for me. . . Will I be able to visit old haunts - the National Theatre, Lord’s, Le Caprice, the Tate Gallery, the UGC Cinema in Fulham Road - or even walk down the street without people’s only thought being ‘There’s the man who went to jail for perjury’? I can’t explain to every one of them that I didn’t get a fair trial. It’s so unlike me to be introspective or pessimistic, but when you’re locked up in a cell seven paces by four for hour upon hour every day, you begin to wonder if anyone out there even knows you’re alive.’

Happy birthday, Jeffrey

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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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