And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

8 June

King Edward VI

‘The lordes of the counsel sat at Gildhaul in London, where in the presence of a thousand peple they declared to the maire and bretherne their slouthfulnes in suffering unreasonable prices of thinges, and to craftesmen their wilfulnes etc, telling them that if apon this admonition they did not amende, I was holly determined to call in their liberties as confiscat, and to appoint officers that shold loke to them.’

Edward VI, the Boy King


Adam Eyre,
soldier and landowner

‘This morne my wife began, after her old manner, to braule and revile mee for wishing her only to wear such apparrell as was decent and comly, and accused mee for treading on her sore foote, with curses and othes; which to my knowledge I touched not; nevertheless she continued in that extacy til noone; and at diner I told her I purposed never to com in bed with her til shee tooke more notice of what I formerly had sayd to her, which I pray God give mee grace to observe; that the folly of myne owne corrupt nature deceive mee not to myne own damnacion. After diner I went to Bulhouse where I had bidden an Ale for Antho. Crosland, and got him 29s. 6d. I spent myselfe 1s. 5d., and lent Raph Wordsworth of Waterhall Dalton’s ‘Justice of Peace’ [a law book]. I received a note from Jos. Eyre to be at Castleton on Thursday next at the cort. I signed a note for payment for 2 waynes by the towne.’

Wicked worldly thoughts


George Croghan,
tradesman and Indian negotiator

‘At Day Break we were attacked by a Party of Indians consisting of Eighty Warriors of the Kacapers and Musquatimes who Killed two of my men & three Indians wounded myselfe and all the rest of my party Except two White Men and one Indian then made myselfe and all the White men Prisoners plundering us of every Thing we had. A Deputy of the Shawnesse who was Shot thro the Thigh having concealed himself in the Woods for a few Minuets after he was Wounded not then Knowing but they were Southern Indians who are always at war with the Northward Indians: after discovering what Nation they were he came up to them and made a very bold speech telling them that the Whole Northward Indians would join in taking Revenge for the Insult and murder of their People this alarmed these Indians very much they began excusing themselves saying their Fathers the French had spirited them up telling them the Inglish were coming with a body of Southern Indians to take their Country from them and inslave them. that it was this that induced them to commit this Outrage after having divided the plunder they left great Part of the heaviest Effects Behind not being able to carry them they sett of with us to their Village at Cautonan in a great Hurry being in dread of a Pursuit from a large Party of Indians they suspected were coming after me; Our Course was thro a thick Woody Country crossing a great many Swamps Morasses and Beaver Ponds. we traveled this Day about 42 Miles.’

Pioneering in Pennsylvania


James Madison DeWolf,

‘Remain in camp on Powder River Genl Terry & 2 Co Cav start for Boat at mouth of river fair’

DeWolf’s last stand


Hubert Parry,

‘Hueffer’s libretto is unsurpassably bad. Structures all obviously borrowed from Tannhauser, Tristan or Flying Dutchman and invariably spoilt. The development of the plot depends on grimaces and unintelligible actions and drags fearfully and comes to no climaxes anywhere. There is no action in the first and 2nd acts, the latter of which simply comes to a stop when the curtain comes down . . . By the end of the performance, half the stalls were empty. There is some fine and effective scoring and some fine music here and there, but the general impression to me was hollow and rather meretricious . . . It seemed a complete failure, but as the book is Hueffer’s, the press will doubtless push it through and make the public think they ought to like it.’

Finished my first song


Isabelle Eberhardt,

‘Over there in Africa, above the great blue gulf of unforgettable Annaba, the graveyard on the hill is asleep under the blazing sky of a summer day’s sunset. The white marble tombs and those made of glazed and multicoloured tiles must look like bright flowers among the tall, black cypresses, creepers and geraniums the colour of blood or pale flesh, and fig trees from the Barbary Coast. . .

At that same moment, I was sitting in the low grass of another graveyard. As I sat facing the two grey tombs set among the spring weeds, I thought of that other grave, the White Spirit’s resting place . . . And in the midst of all that indestructible nature, my thoughts turned once again to the mystery of the end of people’s lives.

Birds sang their innocent, peaceful song above the untold amount of human dust accumulated there . .

So far, this diary can be summed up as follows: an endless record of the unfathomable sadness there is at the bottom of my life, it consists of increasingly vague allusions, not to people I have met or to facts that I have observed, but to the invariably melancholy effect these facts and people have upon me.

How useless and funereal are these notes of mine, and how despairingly monotonous, without even the slightest hint of lightness or of hope. The only consolation they contain is their increasing Islamic resignation.

At long last I do find that my soul is beginning to show signs of indifference to pedestrian things and people, which means that my strength is on the increase. I find it contemptible and unworthy of myself that for so long I have put so much store by pitiful things and by futile, meaningless encounters. At long last, the realisation that I am utterly incapable of joining any coterie whatsoever, and of feeling at ease with people whose only reason for being together is no mere happenstance but rather the fact that they share their lives.

For the time being at least I know what I want: I would like it if Archivir understood the things I said and wrote to him. I would like him to smile at me as only he can, to hear him tell me in that tone of voice of his, the way he did the day I came so close to baring my soul: “Go Mahmoud, and do great, magnificent deeds . . . Be a hero . . .”

It is true that of all the men I have come across, this one, whose beloved picture I have in front of me, is the most bewitching of all, and that his charm is of the most elevated and noble sort: he speaks to the spirit rather than to the senses, he exalts whatever is sublime and stifles the base and lowly. No one has ever had such a truly beneficial effect upon my soul. No one has ever understood and bolstered those blessed manifestations that, since the White Spirit’s death, have slowly but surely begun to take root in my heart: faith, repentance, the desire for moral perfection, the longing for a reputation based on noble merit, a sensuality that makes a mockery of my suffering and abnegation, a thirst for great and magnificent deeds. I judge and love him for what I have seen of him so far.

Time will tell whether I have been perceptive, whether I have seen him as he really is, or whether I have made another mistake. I will not swear to anything, but nothing has so far given me reason for suspicion, even though I have become terribly, incurably wary. If he is but another dissembler and a sham . . . that will be the end of it once and for all, for if what I hold to be pure turns out to have a hidden blemish, if what looks to me like true beauty masks the usual horror, if the light I take to be a beneficial star showing me the way or a beacon in life’s black maze is but a trick meant to lead wayfarers astray - if so, what can I expect after that? Yet, once again, nothing, absolutely nothing has so far suggested there might be anything to such unthinkable conjecture ... if he is the way I think he is, he may well put me through terrible but magnificent paces . . . he may well turn out to be responsible for sending me off to die, but spare me the worst of fates, namely disillusionment.’

The magnificent Sahara


Isabelle Eberhardt,

‘Life goes on, monotonous as ever, yet there is the hint of some future direction in the midst of all this dreadful emotional turmoil. I am going through another slow period of gestation, which can be quite painful at times. I am beginning to understand the character of the two people, Barrucand and Mme ben Aben, who have helped us here, both of them good people and very tactful. Barrucand, a dilettante in matters of thought and in particular of sensations, and a moral nihilist, is, however, a man who is very positive, and knows how to live. Mme ben Aben is the second woman I have known after my mother who is good to the core, and enamoured with ideals. Yet in real life, how ignorant the two women are! Even I, as someone intimately convinced that I do not know how to live, even I know more than they do.

Augustin is now gone from my life. As far as I am concerned the brother I used to love so much is dead. That shadow of him in Marseilles who is married to ‘Jenny the work-horse’ does not exist for me, and I very rarely think of him.

Now that the torrid heat of summer has suddenly come again, now that Algiers lies in a glaring daze once more by day, the notion that I am back in Africa is slowly sinking in. Soon I will feel completely at home, especially if my plan to go to Bou Saada comes off. . . Oh, that journey! It will mean a brief return, not to the magnificent Sahara itself, but to a place nearby that has all the palm trees and sunshine one could want!’

The magnificent Sahara


Carl Rogers,

‘Well, our wind didnt develop into a typhoon after all, tho it was fairly rough. It was a great sight to watch the little fishing junks trying to get to shore from way out five or ten miles where they had been fishing. They would sink almost out of sight in the trough of the waves, and then be lifted way up on the crest, with the dripping prow just balanced in empty space, and then they would plunge nose down into the next wave, raising a cloud of spray that would hide the whole boat for a second or two. I sure admire the nerve of their skippers.

This morning we arrived at Amoy. We wound around several fine islands into the harbor of Amoy, which is itself located on an island. As the ship was only going to stop three hours, we had very little time to see things. We went off onto Kulangsu, the island where most foreigners live, and saw some of the mission schools, and had a long talk with Mr. Elliott, the Y secretary there, but we didnt get over to the city itself, partly because our time was so short, and partly because the plague was a little worse there than in most of the cities we have been in, and Ken was a little scared to risk it, tho there was no real danger, I think. We pulled out of the harbor shortly after noon, and got under way for Foochow.’

Alongside Carl Rogers


Aleš Hrdlička,

‘Alaska. Leaving Juneau. Has been raining here every day but one. They count rainfall here not in inches any more, but in feet. It is misting now, depriving of view of most of the coast. Wherever there is a glimpse of this it is seen to be mountainous, wooded below, snowy and icy higher up, inhospitable, forbidding.’

Hrdlička’s Alaska diary


Edward Abbey,

‘Bude. Do I occasionally long for death? Not very deeply - I’m much too interested in the investigation of the human situation, in trying to discover the root-cause of my own and others’ misery. After all. I'll die anyway, probably - no need for impatience. The final gift of life, at least, never fails us.

Again I am grateful that I have abandoned - no, it would be more accurate to say “never acquired” - Christianity, with its appalling and horrible promise of immortality which makes Heaven and Hell indistinguishable, and life a vale of dread. It’s not immortality I crave, no; never - what I want is understanding. Gladly, joyfully would I sacrifice all eternity for one bright flash of terrible and godly omniscience.

This traditional Western bawling after immortality - what is the meaning of it? Why the insane desire to perpetuate through and beyond all time the identity of the person and the personal consciousness? The Orientals know better - they have the spirit merge with the world, not buzz over it forever like a bored and boring fly.

I can hear the sea: the roaring surf, the waves, the wind.’

As big as the West


David Ben-Gurion,

‘M. Shapira came at nine [to my home in Tel-Aviv]. I told him that we’d lost a day, and in these times one day should not be taken lightly. I don’t know if the war is over already, it’s possible there will be complications. We must reinforce the army’s victory by settling the Old City as quickly as possible, both in the deserted areas of the Jewish Quarter and in abandoned Arab houses [in other Quarters]. If the Arabs return, we’ll provide them with homes in the New City [of Jerusalem]. Shapira agrees.

I wanted to discuss this with Moshe Dayan as Defense Minister too, but was told that he’s in Jerusalem. Because I wanted to go inside the Old City, I traveled to Jerusalem. Ezer Weizman and Mordechai Hod came with me. All the way to Jerusalem and in the New City soldiers cheered us. We entered the Old City and headed straight for the Wailing Wall. I noticed that since the Old City has been closed to us [from 1948], buildings were erected next to the Wall. I was surprised that an order hasn’t been given to knock these constructions down. I walked over to the Wall and saw a sign in Arabic and English “el Burak,” as if to announce here is where Muhammad met the angel Elkim. I said that first of all this sign should be removed without damaging the Wall’s stones. One of the soldiers immediately got a stick and began erasing the sign. I couldn’t find Moshe because he’d gone to Hebron, and would return to Tel-Aviv.

I returned to Tel-Aviv; Moshe is still not here. I wanted to see Begin and discuss settling the Old City, I was told he’s in Jerusalem, and might return this evening.

I went to a meeting of Rafi. A large crowd had gathered. Shimon suggested returning to the Labor Party, so that we can oust the Prime Minister. I expressed my doubts that our return to Labor would create a change of government. I don’t know if the war is over, but in the political arena we’re liable to lose what our army has gained for the nation. [. . .]

I invited [Moshe] Shapira and Begin to come and see me. I told them that it’s not certain if the war will be over tomorrow. At any rate, the international struggle will begin immediately over four issues: the Old City, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Sinai. On Jerusalem we must not budge. We have to quickly establish a large Jewish settlement there. The same with Hebron. The West Bank must not be returned to Hussein, but its annexation to Israel would mean the addition of one million Arabs, this would present a terrible danger. There’s also a refugee problem in the Gaza Strip. Begin proposed transferring the refugees from Gaza to El- Arish and leaving them there. It’s doubtful if they’d go willingly. He’s also in favor of incorporating all of the West Bank into Israel. I stressed the political struggle awaiting us.’

We must not budge


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And so made significant . . .
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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 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.