And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

1 June

1663
Henry Newcome,
priest

‘I rose about 8. Went to looke for a horse, & after some time was glad to accept Mr Page’s, tho a trotter. I went to ye feild for him, & ye warden walked wth mee to ye Broadhulme, wre I took horse & got to Dunham iust at dinner. Mr Weston & his wife dined there, & wee were wth ym in ye bouleinge greene all ye afternoone. I was forced to stay all night, tho’ I obtained freely of my Ld his lre to ye Lady Byron for Mr Taylor of Rochdale.

I was troubled yet I used too free a word to expresse my dislike tow: Dr Br: in wt he delivered, sayinge in iest he was a rascall. Yt word repeated not wth my accent might seeme very strange for mee to utter.

Ye horse I rode of was very fright, yet ye Ld preserved mee from fallinge.’

The nonconformist Newcome

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1821
Mary Browne,
young woman

‘There were a great many people in the gardens, and the variety of colours resembled a bed of tulips. Some of the people were very oddly dressed. One woman had on a most extraordinary cap composed of pink satin and very pretty lace; she had a gold chain round her neck, a white gown, and pink cotton apron. (Her cap was not at all common.) The French are very fond of colours, and put them on with very bad taste. We saw some people with perhaps a pink handkerchief, a blue sash, a coarse cotton gown, a yellow bonnet, and green shoes. We saw one lady in church with a yellow bonnet spotted with every colour; and another lady with one side of her bonnet one colour, and the other another colour. The ladies are in general very plain. We were told that a lady having tried to persuade an English gentleman that the French ladies were pretty, he took her to one of the great waterworks, where she could see ten thousand people, and told her that he would give her a gown worth five hundred francs if she could find three handsome women. The lady tried, but was obliged to acknowledge that she could not. The French women have not good figures: the old women are very fat, and the others are as flat as two boards. [. . .]

The French children are old-fashioned, dull, grave, and ugly: like little old women in their appearance. The babies are wrapt up in swaddling-clothes like mummies, and they wear queer little cotton hats. The nurses carry them very carefully hanging on their arms; they say that nursing them, or tossing them about, makes them mad. Some of the children have long hair hanging down their backs and little hats stuck on the tops of their heads and little ridicules in their hands.’

The French lack of delicacy

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1836
Thomas Mitchell,
administrator and explorer

‘The country to the eastward seemed so dry and scrubby, that I could not hope in returning to join Mr. Stapylton’s party or reach the Murray, by any shorter route, than that of our present track; and I, therefore, postponed any further survey back towards the junction of the Darling and Murray, until I should be returning this way. We accordingly proceeded upwards, and were followed by the natives. They were late in coming near us however, which Piper and his gin accounted for as follows: As soon as it was known to them, the day before, that we were gone to the junction, the strong men of the tribe went by a shorter route; but they were thrown out and disappointed by our stopping short of that “promising” point. There, they had passed the night, and having been busy looking for our track in the morning, the earth’s surface being to them a book they always read, they were late in following our party.

Kangaroos were more numerous and larger here, than at any other part we had yet visited. This day one coming before me I fired at it with my rifle; and a man beside me, after asking my permission, fired also. The animal, nevertheless, ran amongst the party behind, some of whom hastily, and without permission, discharged their carabines also. At this four horses took fright, and ran back at full speed along our track. Several of the men, who went after these horses, fell in with two large bodies of natives coming along this track, and one or two men had nearly fallen into their hands twice. “Tantragee” (McLellan), when running at full speed, pursued by bands of savages, escaped, only by the opportune appearance of others of our men, who had caught the horses and happened to come up. The natives then closed on our carts, and accompanied them in single files on each side; but as they appeared to have got rid of all their spears, I saw no danger in allowing them to join us in that manner. Chancing to look back at them, however, when riding some way ahead, the close contact of such numbers induced me to halt and call loudly, cautioning the men, upon which I observed an old man and several others suddenly turn and run; and, on my going to the carts, the natives fell back, those in their rear setting off at full speed.

Soon after, I perceived the whole tribe running away, as if a plan had been suddenly frustrated. Piper and his gin who had been watching them attentively, now came up, and explained to me these movements. It appeared, that the natives entertained the idea, that our clothes were impervious to spears, and had therefore determined on a trial of strength by suddenly overpowering us, for which purpose they had “planted” (i. e. hidden) their spears and all encumbrances, and had told off for each of us, six or eight of their number, whose attack was to be sudden and simultaneous. A favourable moment had not occurred before they awoke my suspicions; and thus their motives for sudden retreat were to be understood. That party consisted of strong men, neither women nor boys being among them; and although we had little to fear from such an attack, having arms in our hands, the scheme was very audacious, and amounted to a proof, that these savages no sooner get rid of their apprehensions, than they think of aggression. I had, on several occasions, noticed and frustrated dispositions apparently intended for sudden attacks, for the natives seemed always inclined to await favourable opportunities, and were doubtless aware of the advantage of suddenness of attack to the assailants. Nothing seemed to excite the surprise of these natives, neither horses nor bullocks, although they had never before seen such animals, nor white men, carts, weapons, dress, or anything else we had. All were quite new to them, and equally strange, yet they looked at the cattle, as if they had been always amongst them, and they seemed to understand at once, the use of everything.

We continued our journey, and soon found all the usual features of the Darling; the hills of soft red sand near the river, covered with the same kind of shrubs seen so much higher up. The graves had no longer any resemblance to those on the Murrumbidgee and Murray, but were precisely similar to the places of interment we had seen on the Darling, being mounds surrounded by, and covered with, dead branches and pieces of wood. On these lay, the same singular casts of the head in white plaster, which we had before seen only at Fort Bourke. It is, indeed, curious to observe the different modes of burying, adopted by the natives on different rivers. For instance, on the Bogan, they bury in graves covered like our own, and surrounded with curved walks and ornamented ground. On the Lachlan, under lofty mounds of earth, seats being made around them. On the Murrumbidgee and Murray, the graves are covered with well thatched huts, containing dried grass for bedding, and enclosed by a parterre of a particular shape, like the inside of a whale-boat. On the Darling, as above stated, the graves are in mounds, covered with dead branches and limbs of trees, and are surrounded by a ditch, which here we found encircled by a fence of dead limbs and branches. [. . .]

The natives were heard by Piper several times during the day’s journey, in the woods beyond the river, as if moving along the right bank, in a route parallel with ours; but they did not appear near our camp, although their smoke was seen at a distance.’

Encountering the natives

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1881
John Dearman Birchall,
businessman

‘Emily had her first At Home, 4-7. Great success. 80 people came. Afterwards we went to the (aesthetic) Opera Patience; the love-sick maidens most charming, jokes amusing, airs lively. The children have measles.’

The tricycle diaries

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1934
Anaïs Nin,
writer

‘Today He [Rank] was not shy. He dragged me toward the divan and we kissed savagely, drunkenly. He looked almost beside himself, and I could not understand my own abandon. I had not imagined a sensual accord.’

Nothing but the eyes

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1946
Jean Cocteau,
artist and director

‘Am writing these last lines of this diary in a country house, where I am hiding from bells of all kinds. Door bells, phone bells, and the Rouge est mis.

Decided to quit as soon as the film was finished. And it was yesterday that I showed it for the first time to the studio technicians at Joinville. Its announcement, written on a blackboard, caused quite a stir at Saint-Maurice. They had filled up quite a theatre with benches and chairs. Lacombe had even postponed his shooting so that his unit and artists could attend.

At 6:30 Marlene Dietrich was seated beside me. I tried to get up to say a few words, but the accumulation of all those minutes which had led to this one moment quite paralysed me and I was almost incapable of speech. I sat watching the film, holding Marlene’s hand, crushing it without noticing what I was doing. The film unwound and sparkled like a far-off star - something apart and insensible to me. For it had killed me. It now rejected me and lived its own life. And the only thing I could see in it were the memories of the suffering which were attached to every foot. I couldn’t believe that others would even be able to follow its story. I felt they too would become involved in these activities of my imagination.

But the reception of this audience of technicians was quite unforgettable. And that was my reward. Whatever happens, I shall never get such a touching reception as I did from this little village whose industry is the canning of dreams.’ [This is the last entry in the published diary.]

Beauty and the Beast

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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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