And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

10 March

1835
Elizabeth Gaskell,
writer

‘The day after tomorrow Marianne will be six months old. I wish I had begun my little journal sooner, for (though I should have laughed at the idea twelve months ago) there have been many little indications of disposition &c already; which I can not now remember clearly. I will try and describe her mentally. I should call her remarkably good tempered; though at times she gives way to little bursts of passion or perhaps impatience would be the right name. She is also very firm in her own little way occasionally; what I suppose is obstinacy really, [though] that is so hard a word to apply to one so dear. But in general she is so good that I feel as if could hardly be sufficiently thankful, that the materials put into my hands are so excellent, and beautiful. [. . .]

Then as to her ‘bodily’ qualifications, she has two teeth cut with very little trouble; but I believe the worst are to come. She is very strong in her limbs, though because she is so fat, we do not let her use her ancles at all, and I hope she will be rather late in walking that her little legs may be very firm. I shall find it difficult to damp the energies of the servants in this respect, but I intend that she shall teach herself to walk, & receive no assistance from hands &c She lies down on the floor a good deal, and kicks about; a practice I began very early, and which has done her a great deal of good.

My dear little girl

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1863
John Evelyn Denison,
politician

‘We went in a special train from Paddington to Windsor, leaving 10:30, and being an hour on the road. Carriages were ready to take us to the chapel. Lady C posted down in her own carriage, leaving 8:30, reaching St. George’s Chapel at a quarter past eleven; she escaped much cold and draughts by this, and greatly preferred it. I went in my black velvet suit. The Lord Chamberlain said that was the proper dress. He told this to the Lord Chancellor, who, however, would go in his gold gown and his wig. The Lord Chamberlain said: We had no function to perform; we had no part to play in the ceremony, we were invited guests like others. I followed the advice of the Lord Chamberlain; the Lord Chancellor went in his gold gown. The seat allotted to me was the dean’s seat, close by the door. It was a very magnificent sight - rich, gorgeous and imposing. I don’t know how I could say enough about the magnificence of the spectacle. The pageant was admirably got up, and was well performed throughout. Beautiful women were arrayed in the richest attire, in bright colours, blue, purple, red, and covered with diamonds and jewels. Grandmothers looked beautiful: Lady Abercom, Lady Westminster, Lady Shaftesbury. Among the young, Lady Spencer, Lady Castlereagh, Lady Carmarthen, were most bright and brilliant. The Knights of the Garter in their robes looked each of them a fine picture - Lord Russell looked like a hero who could have walked into the castle court and have slain a giant. The Queen sat in her closet on the left hand side of the altar, looking up the chapel and high above it. But she did not affect any concealment. She looked constantly out of the window of her closet and sometimes leaned over, with her body half out of the window, to take a survey down the church. She was dressed in plain black up to the throat, with the blue ribbon over her shoulder, and a sort of plain mob cap.

As each of the royal persons with their attendants walked up the chapel, at a certain point each stopped and made an obeisance to the Queen: the Princess Mary, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess of Prussia, the Princess Alice of Hesse, the Princess Helena, the Princess Christian, etc.: each in turn formed a complete scene. The Princess Alexandra with her bridesmaids made the last and the most beautiful scene. The Princess looked beautiful, and very graceful in her manner and demeanour. When her eyes are cast down she has a wonderful power of flashing a kind of sidelong look.’

A dignified Speaker

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1914
Henry Rider Haggard,
writer

‘Woke up lo find that we were running over bush-clad sourveld with a few ostriches wandering round lonely Boer steadings. While I was dressing the iron lid of the washbasin fell on and crushed the top plate of the false teeth which were recently fitted with so much discomfort. A most annoying incident. Luckily I have the old temporary set with me which the dentist wanted to destroy.

At lunch time we came to a range of mountains called Outniqiua, or some such name, that tower above a little township of about 2 000 inhabitants, called George, which is largely inhabited by retired persons in search of quiet. The situation is fine on a flat plain dominated by tall grassy peaks down which run waterfalls that look like lines of wandering silver. At the beginning of the pass we went through government plantations of gums [eucalypts] of about 10 years of age which are doing splendidly. There are several of these here. Next we passed through some native bush in the kloofs, then came broom, heather and bracken, clothing the broad hill shoulders. From the crest of the pass the view was grand. The flat plain below diversified with plantations surrounding the scattered town of George and in the distance the great sea. All this district might be afforested, the hills with pines and the plains with gums. As the land seems to be worth no more than 10s. an acre it would be an excellent purpose to which to put it. About 4 o’clock we entered the Oudtshoorn valley, a hot and fertile place surrounded by hills, and everywhere saw ostriches feeding on lucerne in their wired camps.

On arrival we were met by the mayor and notables and taken off to see the farm of Mr. John le Roux where, after 34 years or so. I renewed my acquaintance with that ungainly but profitable fowl, the ostrich. By the way, at the station a gentleman whose name I think was Rex came up and asked me if I remembered him - as I did not he produced from his pocket an official order of the Pretoria High Court, written and signed by myself in 1878, appointing him a sworn interpreter. I wonder if he always carries it about with him. I was glad to see that the order was properly drawn and written in a better hand than I can boast nowadays. The signature, however, is identical with that I use at present.’

Sir Haggard’s diaries

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1930
Dawn Powell,
writer

‘Hate novel as if it were a personal foe - it’s so damned hard and moves so slow. I want to write plays that go fast. Can’t conceive of having energy ever to attack a novel again. They’re so damned huge and unwieldy.’

Powell’s diaries auctioned

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1933
Victor Klemperer,
teacher and writer

‘Eight days before the election the clumsy business of the Reichstag fire - cannot imagine that anyone really believes in Communist perpetrators instead of paid Nazi work. Then the wild prohibitions and acts of violence. And on top of that the never-ending propaganda in the street, on the radio etc. On Saturday, the 4th, I heard a part of Hitler’s speech from Koenigsberg. The front of a hotel at the railway station, illuminated, a torchlight procession in front of it, torch-bearers and swastika flag-bearers on the balconies and loudspeakers, I understood only occasional words. But the tone! The unctuous bawling, truly bawling, of a priest. . .

Ever more hopeless. The boycott begins tomorrow. Yellow placards, men on guard. Pressure to pay Christian employees two months salary, to dismiss Jewish ones. No reply to the impressive letter of the Jews to the President of the Reich and to the government.

No one dares make a move. The Dresden student body made a declaration today and the honour of German students forbids them to come into contact with Jews. They are not allowed to enter the Student House. How much Jewish money went towards this Student House only a few years ago!

In Munich Jewish University teachers have already been prevented from setting foot in the University. The proclamation and injunction of the boycott committee decrees ‘Religion is immaterial’, only race matters. If, in the case of the owners of a business, the husband is Jewish, the wife Christian or the other way round, then the business counts as Jewish.’

Klemperer collecting life

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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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