And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

10 June

1673
John Evelyn,
writer

‘We went, after dinner, to see the formal and formidable camp on Blackheath, raised to invade Holland; or, as others suspected for another design. Thence, to the Italian glass-house at Greenwich, where glass was blown of finer metal than that of Murano, at Venice.’

A most excellent person

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1825
Thomas Robert Malthus,
economist

‘To Ghent by the Grand Barque. Passage 5½ francs each, dinner included, wine excluded. Vin de Bordeaux ordinaire 3 f. Claret at 4 f. not better. - rather approaching to the wine at 1½ f.’

For a great part of the way the banks were so high that the country was not visible - wood on each side - chiefly poplar of different kinds, and beech - Latter part of way banks lower - neat houses - good deal of rye the main food of the common people. Labour 14 sous, 28 French Sous. White bread 3½ pounds for 4 Sous or pence.’

The cost of men and food

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1826
Phebe Orvis,
housewife

‘Pleasant. Mr. Converse[’s] son died of the measles today, yet we go on to sin[.]’

An extraordinary ordinary woman

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1856
Wilhelm Bleek,
scientist

‘On Tuesday 10th June I set off to climb the u Mpofu mountain north-east of the station. I tried to sketch the outline of the mountain, but as I am not skilled I was only moderately successful. I am enclosing the rough sketch, as it may give an idea of the formation of the mountain. [The sketch was sent to Dr Petermann; there is no copy in the Ms.]

The course which I had chosen was to ascend the u Mpofu on the southern side, as I considered that slope of the mountain as the most gentle. The range runs horizontally, dividing the i Noemane from the streams on the other side. Before I reached the summit, I came across a kraal which was just being built. It was a double kraal with narrow doorways facing one another. Nothing but the outer frame, and a hut in each of them, had been completed. Only two men and a few boys were present. One of the men was a strange sight, as the bone of his nose had the appearance of being cloven in twain. Right in the middle was an ugly ulcer. The Zulus say he looks like a hyena (a Mpisi). I wanted the other man to come with me up the mountain to tell me the names of the mountains and rivers in the neighbourhood, but he declined, being too busy building huts. From then on the path was no longer straight, but wound around the western side of the mountain, so that I reached the summit from the north. On top of the mountain there were quite a few kaffer gardens. The view was only fair; generally the view is only clear immediately after the rain. Riding down the eastern slope of the mountain, I arrived at a kraal, or rather three kraals grouped together, called u Ndabepambile, and their u Mnumzana (master of the kraal), u Mcaguza. The doors were so low and narrow that my horse could only squeeze through in a bent position. How cattle, especially those with big horns, can get through remains a mystery to me. I had the same dinner as the previous day. While I was there, the man whom I had wanted to take as a guide appeared suddenly in full splendour, he had dressed himself smartly and had followed me, but had missed me on the mountain. Though he was of no use to me now, I was touched by his eagerness. On my way back, I climbed the summit again and descended the steep southern slope towards the huts in construction, and then home the same way. I sketched the outline of the u Mandawe mountain from a spot above the spring of the i Noemane. This little river runs towards the north-east and then winds northwards round the slopes of the Mpafu.’

Father of African philology

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1858
Barbara Bodichon,
artist

‘Wendell Phillips came in the evening. He was enchanting. He told me that the W. R. Movement had made immense progress since 1850. He knows twenty women at least who can gain their living by lecturing in Lyceums. He says Lyceums in debt very often get women to come and lecture on W.R. even when they do not agree with her, because they know she will attract a paying audience. Gentlemen who were dead set against the W.R. now advocate it. A Governor of Ohio was obliged to apologize to the ladies of Ohio and recant because he refused to hear female delegates to some Society, etc. etc.

Wendell Phillips himself says when Lyceums come to him he says, “Yes, I will lecture for you: 50 dollars for Literature or Abolition, or WR for nothing.” ’

Campaigning for women’s rights

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1876
John Dearman Birchall,
businessman

‘Had long conversations with partners. Mr Webb in particular who gave us a most interesting description of his American experiences. No improvement at the Mill. Average this year 86 pieces a week, 2230 pieces value £18,900. Trade getting much flatter. Today we had separate interviews with Cheetham. He first privately told me of his sorrows, father dead, sister insane, brother wretched, uncle unkind, wife ill at Scarborough - fears for her brain. I suggested Oswald spend half his days at the Mill till the end of the year, as a support to Cheetham to make more sympathy between the departments. Webb, Campbell and Oswald agreed to do away with cheviots and confine themselves to certain specified makes - at present with all their patterns they are getting few orders.’

The tricycle diaries

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1943
Iris Origo,
writer

‘The third anniversary of Italy’s entry into the war. No celebrations. A rumour had spread that there were to be air-raids all over Italy, and all day many mothers have kept their children at home. Nothing, however, occurred until six pm, when a few enemy planes flew over the town - and a few more during the night. The air-raid warnings in the hospital (even though nothing happens) are rather uncomfortable, owing to one’s enforced immobility and the jumpiness of some of the patients.’

La Foce is liberated

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1992
Christopher McCandless,
hiker

‘Butchering extremely difficult. Fly and mosquito hordes. Remove intestines, liver, kidneys, one lung, steaks. Get hindquarters and leg to stream.’

Beautiful blueberries

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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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