And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

2 June

1676
John Evelyn,
writer

‘I went with my Lord Chamberlain to see a garden, at Enfield town; thence, to Mr Secretary Coventry’s lodge in the Chase. It is a very pretty place, the house commodious, the gardens handsome, and our entertainment very free, there being none but my Lord and myself. That which I most wondered at was, that, in the compass of twenty-five miles, yet within fourteen of London, there is not a house, barn, church, or building, besides three lodges. To this Lodge are three great ponds, and some few inclosures, the rest a solitary desert, yet stored with no less than 3,000 deer. These are pretty retreats for gentlemen, especially for those who are studious and lovers of privacy.

We returned in the evening by Hampstead; to see Lord Wotton’s house and garden (Bellsize House), built with vast expense by Mr O’Neale, an Irish gentleman who married Lord Wotton’s mother, Lady Stanhope. The furniture is very particular for Indian cabinets, porcelain, and other solid and noble movables. The gallery very fine, the gardens very large, but ill kept, yet woody and chargeable The soil a cold weeping clay, not answering the expense.’

A most excellent person

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1774
John Scott,
politician

‘I am, I believe, thirty-five years old this month, just nine years at the bar, near five years in Parliament, about four years King’s Counsel. To-morrow, being Friday, Trinity Term sits. I therefore resolve to enter upon my profession, as upon a five years’ campaign, at war with every difficulty, and determined to conquer them. I have given up wine. I will strive to contract my sleep to four, or, at most, six hours in twenty-four; give up every pursuit but Parliamentary and legal ones. If I continue a bachelor until I am forty years old, and can realize two thousand pounds per annum, I will give up business as a lawyer, or confine it merely to the duty of any office which I may fill. I will exert my industry to the utmost in law and constitutional learning for these five years, so far as temperance, diligence, perseverance, and watchfulness can operate, and then hey for a holyday.’

At war with every difficulty

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1816
Benjamin Haydon,
artist

‘I rode yesterday to Hampton Court round by Kingston & dined at Richmond. The day is delicious, the hedges smelling of may blossom, the trees green, the leaves full & out, the Thames shining with a silvery glitter, & a lovely girl who loves you, [in] the dining room of the Star & Garter at Richmond, sitting after dinner on your knee, with her heavenly bosom palpitating against your own, her arm round your neck playing with your hair, while you are sufficiently heated to be passionately alive to the ecstasy without having lost your senses from its excesses - Claret on the table and the delicious scene of Nature in Richmond Park beneath your open window, moaty, sunny, out of which rises the wandering voice of the cuckoo, while the sun, who throws a silent splendour over all, sinks into the lower vaults & the whole sky is beginning to assume the tinged lustre of an afternoon.’

Thirst after grandeur

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1853
John Ruskin,
writer and artist

‘Sunday. Walking home from Dr. Cumming’s through Holborn and Oxford Street, note shops open: nearly all tobacco and cigar shops: tobacco pipe shops: small confectioners selling ginger beer - large confectioners modestly, and in sly corners of shutters; taverns of all kinds and eating houses.’

John Ruskin’s birthdays

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1882
Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff,
politician

‘Our new daughter, born 16th March, was to-day christened Iseult Frederica by Bishop Gell. Her godmothers are Mrs. Greg, the companion of so many of our journeys, associated, too, with our visit to Brittany, the meeting-place of the Iseults, and Lady Malmesbury, the youngest daughter of my old friend John Hamilton. Her godfather is Sir Frederick Roberts.’

Good-natured books

**************************************************************************************

1918
Bruce Lockhart,
diplomat

‘Arrived in Petrograd. Lovely day. Stayed at Petrograd. Rang up Cromie. . . Feeling in Petrograd quite different from Moscow. Altogether quieter and further removed from the struggle. Anti-Bolshevism very strong and hardly concealed. At the cabaret jokes were made at Bolshevik expense which would not be tolerated in Moscow.

Famine pretty severe and grave discontent among the workmen and sailors. Counter-revolution here possible any day.’

Secret agent in Moscow

**************************************************************************************

1943
Donald Friend,
artist

‘You know, sometimes I rather doubt if people reading all this will credit truth to my record. But I assure you it is as true as anyone could expect. After all, one can never do more than translate the facts through the medium of one’s own personal perceptions. Thus many of the stresses may be false or exaggerated. I see things absurdly, because I am absurdly incapable of the state of mind that can seriously indulge in the very activities that I record. Somehow they appear to me as funny, sometimes monstrous, symptoms of wrong-mindedness. They are like the laughable antics of droll animals; diverting to those watchers outside the cage, but really solemn affairs to the denizens within.’

Friend’s diaries found

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1948
Kenneth Williams,
actor and writer

‘Feeling awful. Will probably die tonight at about eleven.’

Carry on carping

**************************************************************************************

1964
Seán Ó Ríordáin,
writer

‘I saw a fat, ugly, middle-aged woman the other night. She is long married. Where is the snow that was so bright last year? I remember when she was a vision, when I thought I was in love with her. There was no beauty or contentment in the world then but what could he found in her. Now I wouldn’t care if she didn’t exist. She is a fat, ugly, old woman. Other, younger women, now hold the sway that she once held. This is an old story - the departure of youth and beauty. But it is even worse when they don’t depart but still remain, and we continue to crave them. People matter not a whit. They come and they go. But youth and beauty are eternal, and however old we may be they remain our constant goal. It was always people between twenty and twenty-five that Marcus Aurelius saw on the Appian Way. That is enough to break one’s heart.’

I know my own death

**************************************************************************************

1972
Ferdinand Marcos,
politician

‘Imelda is suffering from pain and from a deep sense of loss and sorrow for the abortion about which I have told her. She feels inadequate and has been crying her eyes out.

I have shed no tears for my unborn child, but I have vowed that I shall cure this sick society that has brought about the anguish of my wife, which caused the abortion. For the media has been vicious - it has condemned for a crime not charged, foisted gossip as truth and disregarded the rights of fair and impartial trial.

And this sick man who has committed perjury, libel and bribery has done me at least one favor. He has opened my eyes to this illness of our society that may yet destroy it. And my duty and mission is now to cure that illness.’

Purpose into my life

**************************************************************************************

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Notes and Cautions
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.

For any other use of these diary extracts other than browsing please refer to the original sources.

Any author, publisher or other copyright holder who takes the view that I am unacceptably breaching their copyright please let me know. I have tried to remain sensitive to copyright rules (using far fewer quotes, for example, when a book, by an author still alive, remains in print and popular), but it is not practical for me to seek authorisation for every quote and article, since I maintain these websites without any funding or advertis-ing. I take the view that publicity for the source books is a quid pro quo for my use of the extracts, but I am more than happy to remove the extracts if asked.

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The Diary Junction is one of those wonderful privately maintained public resources for which the Internet is justly celebrated: a database of information about celebrated and obscure diaries[over 500] from all historical periods, with referrals to the dates the diaries cover, where the originals are held and bibliographic information on published versions.’ Laura Miller, Salon

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.