And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

9 July

1795
William Godwin,
philosopher and writer

‘Breakfast at Buckingham: dine at Watford: tea Fawcet’s, Hedge Grove, sleep: see Wilson, Smith, &c.’

William Godwin’s diary

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1797
André-Marie Ampère,
scientist

‘Julie very ill in the morning. I begged M. Mollet to take my place at the Lyceum. M. Pelotin continued the same treatment, in spite of the new symptom.’

Ampère falling in love

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1840
Elizabeth Smith,
writer

‘Your father says, dear children, that I shall quite frighten you into fancying your mother had been in her youth a monster of wickedness from the severity with which in mature age I have censured the follies and the flippancies of girlhood, for my indiscretions amounted to no more serious crime, bad enough. What can be more odious than a pert flirting girl, often betrayed by her giddiness into little better than a jilt. First of all inconsiderately entangled herself, then without reflecting on her duty to him whose whole object she had become or on her own feelings towards him, or on his character, or on the reasons urged against him; was easily frightened into giving him up, and weakly led to act a heartless part in affecting levity very ill timed and God knows very unlike the reality. The whole tale was melancholy, none acted rightly and each I believe suffered for it. Let it rest with the Dead.’

A Highland diarist in Ireland

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1846
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
writer

‘Idly busy days; days which leave no record in verse; no advance made in my long-neglected yet dearly loved Evangeline. The cares of the world choke the good seed. But these stones must be cleared away.’

Gabrielle, Celestine or Evangeline?

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1860
Lester Frank Ward,
botanist and sociologist

‘I cultivated the corn this morning for the first time this year. I was a little annoyed with the horse’s not keeping to the row.

In the afternoon I gathered and bound sheaves.

When night came I had a fine time playing on the violin while Baxter played the tambourine. My heart was very light regarding the girl whom I loved, and whom I no longer esteem.

But everyone has gone to bed, and I must wash my feet before going myself.’

Young Ward’s passion

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1864
John L. Ransom,
soldier

‘Battese brought me some onions, and if they ain’t good, then no matter; also a sweet potato. One-half the men here would get well if they only had something in the vegetable line to eat, or acids. Scurvy is about the most loathsome disease, and when dropsy takes hold with the scurvy, it is terrible. I have both diseases, but keep them in check, and it only grows worse slowly. My legs are swollen, but the cords are not contracted much, and I can still walk very well. Our mess all keep clean, in fact, are obliged to, or else turned adrift. We want none of the dirty sort in our mess. Sanders and Rowe enforce the rules, which is not much work, as all hands are composed of men who prefer to keep clean. I still do a little washing, but more particularly hair cutting, which is easier work. You should see one of my hair cuts. Nobby! Old prisoners have hair a foot long or more, and my business is to cut it off, which I do without regards to anything except to get it off. I should judge that there are one thousand Rebel soldiers guarding us, and perhaps a few more, with the usual number of officers. A guard told me to-day that the Yanks were “gittin licked,” and they didn’t want us exchanged, just as soon we should die here as not. A Yank. asked him if he knew what exchange meant; said he knew what shootin’ meant, and as he began to swing around his old shooting-iron, we retreated in among the crowd. Heard that there were some new men belonging to my regiment in another part of the prison; have just returned from looking after them, and am all tired out. Instead of belonging to the 9th Michigan Cavalry, they belong to the 9th Michigan Infantry. Had a good visit and quite cheered with their accounts of the war news. Some one stole Battese’s wash board, and he is mad; is looking for it - may bust up the business. Think Hub Dakin will give me a board to make another one. Sanders owns the jack-knife of this mess, and he don’t like to lend it either; borrow it to carve on roots for pipes. Actually take solid comfort “building castles in the air,” a thing I have never been addicted to before. Better than getting blue and worrying myself to death. After all, we may get out of this dodrotted hole. Always an end of some sort to such things.’

See maggots squirming

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1916
Arthur Graeme West,
writer

‘Went sick. Headache, &c. C.S.M. came in about seven and cursed me for still lying in bed, and went up and shouted at one man who had been in bed two days quite poorly. We were told to wake up, stir up; that he had to get up when he was ill. Did we think the doctor would come and see us there? He (C. S.M.) would go to the doctor as long as he could crawl to him. We were men now, not boys, and we must pull ourselves together; we should get up and begin to tidy up the hut. About twenty minutes after he came in and cursed us all again. After brekker the sick paraded, and G_ was badly scolded for having us there late. Then we were told that perhaps we didn’t know that days when we were sick were struck off our training and had to be completed at the end; perhaps if we had known that we should not have gone sick.’

Shambles in the dug-outs

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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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