And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

4 June

1679
John Evelyn,
writer

‘I dined with Mr Pepys in the Tower, he having been committed by the House of Commons for misdemeanours in the Admiralty when he was secretary; I believe he was unjustly charged.’

A most excellent person

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1751
David Garrick,
actor and producer

‘So Hot I did not stir out all ye morning, Saw Devisse from London, din’d with Sir John Lambert & went to ye Comedie Italienne with Mr Mildmay belonging to the Embassy - there was nothing sure Ever so despicable & contemptible as Arlequin Scanderbeque. We did not, nor could not stay it out.’

Hiss’d off ye English Stage

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1813
Vere Hunt,
landlord and politician

‘Very fine day, and being the King’s birthday, the town was in bustle and hurry from morning till night. In the early part of the day a Review in the Phoenix Park, where all ranks and classes were crowded together to see poor soldiers sweating and stinking, and great Militia officers, from the mighty Colonel to the puny Ensigns, exhibiting their bravery and military acquirements. City Buckeens on hired horses and with borrowed boots and spurs; young misses slipping away from their mammas to meet their lovers; old maids taking snuff, and talking and thinking of old times; pickpockets waiting for a lob, and old bawds and whores for a cull; handkerchiefs in constant employ, wiping dust, sweat and dander from the face and head; coaches, landaus, gigs, curricles and jaunting cars in constant jostle and confusion in the backstreet to avoid paying money and the shops open to try to get some; mail coaches making a grand procession through the principal streets.

A Levee at the Castle, attended as usual by pimps, parasites, hangers-on, aidecamps, state-officers, expectant clergymen, hungry lawyers, spies, informers, and the various descriptions of characters that constitute the herd of which the motley petty degraded and pretended Court of this poor fallen country is made up. Alas, poor Ireland.

I spent the day lounging about, seeing what was to be seen, and, in proud feelings of superior independence, looked down with utter contempt of the weakness of an administration, imbecile, evasive, and mouldering into contempt; and every loss of public opinion and respect ever must attend the paltry pretended administration of this despicable and degraded country.

After dinner take a rambling circuit over Westmoreland Street and up Anglesea Street. Lounge into booksellers’ shops, then to Crow Street to see, according to ancient custom, all the blackguard boys collected to insult and pelt with small stones, gravel, periwinkles, etc. the ladies who go to the Play on this night. Boxes being free for the ladies, consequently it may be supposed what degree of respect is due to that class of the tender sex who avail themselves of enjoying a theatrical treat.’

Vere Hunt in a crashing machine

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1863
John Evelyn Denison,
politician

‘Mr. Tollemache wishing to make a personal explanation as to some observations of Mr. Gladstone’s about the Committee on the Holyhead packet - Then rose Colonel Douglas Pennant - Mr. Gladstone explained - Then rose Mr. H. Herbert - I had to interfere. Mr. Herbert moved that the House do adjourn. Then Mr. Hennessey spoke, all attacking Mr. Gladstone - I had again to interfere. Then Lord Robert Cecil tried to get a stronger expression from me about Mr. Gladstone’s words, but without success. The whole thing was verging on great irregularity, reference to past debates, etc. Still a personal explanation could hardly be permitted, and so the thing grew in dimensions, always growing more irregular as it went on.

The House was in a touchy, irritable state; the slightest step on my part might have raised a storm. It was a flare up all in a moment. But such is always the case with the sharpest hurricanes. The barometer gives no notice.’

A dignified Speaker

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1864
John L. Ransom,
soldier

‘Have not been dry for many days. Raining continually. Some men took occasion, while out after wood, to overpower the guard and take to the pines. Not yet been brought back. Very small rations of poor molasses, corn bread and bug soup.’

See maggots squirming

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1935
William Soutar,
poet

‘TO MY DIARY (on a dull day)
Since verse has power to give a grace
Even to the commonplace
I shall, within a rhyme, declare
The cupboard of my mind is bare
Not only of an underdone
Cutlet of thought; the very bone
Of prosy platitude is gone.
And since for you, my hungry hound,
No meaty morsel can be found;
And since I would not have you own
A master who could proffer none,
I bleed myself to be your drink:
Is not the blood of poets - ink?’

My hungry hound

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1964
Waguih Ghali,
writer

‘Am at the office. Lovely sunny day. Woke up in an excellent mood. Sang in the car going to work. Perhaps even relieved that that Liselotte thing is finished with. Had a nice walk in the sun to the bank. Bought Simone de Beauvoir’s Le deuxième sexe - in English, unfortunately. But something to read in lieu of depression and thinking. “Thoughts are a disease of the flesh,” said Thomas Hardy.

Will go swimming at noon. Let me live today for today and damn everything else. I’ve got enough to eat, haven’t I? A flat? A car. What do I want? A woman? I’ll go get one from a dancing hall this weekend. Fuck her and throw her. It is the only language they understand. They love that. They’ll love you for it. Leave my bloody anaemic sentimentality and sickliness - Let me be fresh, for Christ’s sake. Am in a good mood today.’

Death in my heart

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1968
Dang Thuy Tram,
doctor

‘Rain falls without respite. Rain deepens my sadness, its chill making me yearn for the warmth of a family reunion. If only I had wings to fly back to our beautiful house on Lo Duc Street, to eat with Dad, Mom, and my siblings, one simple meal with watercress and one night’s sleep under the old cotton blanket. Last night I dreamed that Peace was established, I came back and saw everybody. Oh, the dream of Peace and Independence has burned in the hearts of thirty million people for so long. For Peace and Independence, we have sacrificed everything. So many people have volunteered to sacrifice their whole lives for two words: Independence and Liberty. I, too, have sacrificed my life for that grandiose fulfillment.’

The crimes of war

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1968
Richard Proenneke,
mechanic and naturalist

‘A good day to start the roof skeleton.

Another critic cruised past in the lake this morning, a real chip expert and wilderness engineer, Mr. Beaver. He probably got a little jealous of all the chips he saw, and to show what he thought of the whole deal, upended and spanked his tail on the surface before he disappeared.

Shortly afterward a pair of harlequin ducks came by for a look. The drake is handsome with those white splashes against gray and rusty patches of cinnamon.

My curiosity got the better of me and I had to glass the sheep in the high pasture. It was a sight to watch the moulting ewes grazing as the lambs frolicked about, jumping from a small rock and bounding over the greenery, bumping heads. It was a happy interruption to my work.

I find I can handle the twenty-footers easily enough by just lifting one end at a time. With the corners of the cabin not yet squared off, there are some long ends sticking out on which to rest logs as I muscle them up to eave level and beyond. I also have two logs leaning on end within the cabin, and by adjusting their tilt I can use them to position a log once it is up there. The ladder comes in handy, too.

The two eave logs were notched and fastened down according to plan. I cut the openings for the big window, the two smaller ones, and the opening for the door. 1 placed the first gable log on each end, and it was time to call it a day.

The roof skeleton should get the rest of its bones tomorrow.’

Sourdough sandwich, caribou ribs

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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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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

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