And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

13 March

1602
John Manningham,
lawyer

‘Vpon a tyme when Burbidge played Richard III, there was a citizen grone soe farr in liking with him, that before shee went from the play shee appointed him to come that night vnto hir by the name of Richard the Third. Shakespeare ouerhearing their conclusion went before, was intertained and at his game ere Burbidge came. Then message being brought that Richard the Third was at the dore, Shakespeare caused returne to be made that William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third. Shakespeare’s name William.’

Shakespeare’s name William

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1815
Neil Campell,
soldier

‘About one in the morning a person with a lanthorn entered my room very silently, and told me that the prefect requested to see me immediately. In order to avoid all noise and observation, he led me by a back way, and through a stable, into the house. I found the Count in a state of extreme dismay, and occupied with his secretary. I sincerely participated in his feelings on hearing from him the intelligence he had just received from Aix and Valence, viz., that Napoleon had entered Grenoble upon the 7th at 8 p.m., and that General Marchand, with the staff and most of the officers, had retired. It may be inferred from this that the rest and the private soldiers have betrayed their duty.

This state of affairs is so serious, that I determined to go off immediately to Nice, in order to convey the earliest intimation of these melancholy circumstances to Lord William Bentinck at Genoa. I shall also report to him my observation as to the bad disposition of the troops at Antibes, and the little reliance that can be placed upon the regular army, so that he may prepare for the worst.

No actual disposition has been made by the Piedmontese for the passage of the long bridge over the Var, which separates them from Antibes.

Set off from Draguignan at 3 A.M., and arrived at Nice at 5 P.M. At 10 P.M. went on board of H.M.S. ‘Partridge’ at Villa Franca, but it blew so hard that she could not with safety attempt to beat out.

Lord Sunderland has arrived from Marseilles. There it is universally believed that the English had favoured Napoleon’s return, and the people are furious against us. the same idea also prevails everywhere in the South of France and in Piedmont. A newspaper of Turin, just arrived at Nice, states positively this to be the case!’

Of Napoleon, and a turtle

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1881
King Kalakaua,
sovereign

‘The Prince received us in the front entrance of the Building and conducted us to a side room on the left or East Room on the second story. On a small table was placed a floral cushing of white jassimin flowers and the word ALOHA inscribed in the center in large letters made of the Red Cherry blossom. When this rare and precious token of friendship met my eyes, a thrill of gratefulness penetrated my whole frame and only restrained the emotion by the faint exclamation how beautiful.

Within the door, H. I. H. Princess Higashifushiminomiya advanced to welcome us and led me to a sofa near the fire, bade me to sit, she seating herself on my left. Trays of warm tea and cordials were placed before us and through the medium of the interpretation of Mrs. Uyeno the conversation alluding to the inclemency of the weather and other topics, she arose to allow Princess Fushiminomiya and Princess Kitashirakawa to be presented. When Luncheon was announced she arose and offering myself lead her to the table. . . . I sat on Princess left and Prince Fushiminomiya opposite.

When the Roast were brought in His Imperial Highness Prince Higashi arose and proposed my health in a most cordial manner. In arising to reply I was so choked with emotion that I hardly could speak, but in a broken sentence thanked him for his kindness.’

The king of Hawaii in Japan

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1889
George Bernard Shaw,
playwright

‘Read a paper on ‘Shelley’s Politics’ to the Shelley Society, at University College. . . worked all afternoon at the Shelley lecture. There were only half a dozen people there.’

GBS dines out

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2003
Robin Cook,
politician

‘I am not out of the house before Jack Straw calls me to urge me not to resign. Jack and I go back a long way and were the two junior members of Peter Shore’s Treasury team in the early eighties. I got the impression that he clearly wants me to stay out of concern for me as a friend.

The case he put to me was rather legalistic. He went over how resolution 1441 gives us all the legal authority we require to launch war. I responded that my problem was the political and diplomatic absurdity of a unilateral war even if it were legal.

I saw Tony before Cabinet. I found him half-amused, half-furious with IDS. He had given IDS a briefing in Privy Councillor terms, and, to his dismay, IDS had walked straight out of the door and disclosed to camera that the Prime Minister thought a second resolution now ‘very unlikely’. Since the fiction that Tony still hopes to get a second resolution is central to his strategy for keeping the Labour Party in check, it is not welcome news that IDS has told the world that not even Tony believes this.

I began by joking: “I’m getting so many regular checks from colleagues that I’m beginning to think I’m on suicide watch. I wouldn’t be entirely surprise if someone came along and took away my belt and shoelaces to keep me out of harm’s way.” He laughed and said - and I think he meant it - “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

I was frank with him that my mind was made up, and that I would not mislead him into thinking that he could persuade me to change it. However, I was equally clear that I was not running any other agenda, or lending myself to an attack on his leadership. “You have been the most successful Labour leader in my lifetime. I want you to go on being leader and to on being successful.”

At this point his body language visibly softened as his muscles relaxed and he leaned back into his sofa. After that he was open, almost philosophical. All he said confirmed my impression that he is mystified as to quite how he got into such a hole and baffled as to whether there is any way out other than persisting in the strategy that has created his present difficulties.

He told me that he was going to call a special Cabinet meeting when the process in the UN was complete, and I promised that I would make no public move while he was still working for a result in the UN.

After me he was seeing Clare [Short], which had the effect of delaying Cabinet for fifteen minutes. [. . .]

When I got back to the office there was a message from the Foreign Office to say that Jack would be very grateful if I could represent the government at the funeral on Saturday of Zoran Djindjic, the Prime Minister of Serbia, who was assassinated yesterday. I readily agreed as I had worked with Zoran for years. We cooperated closely when I was Foreign Secretary and he was in opposition. It is a terrible irony that throughout those years he managed to avoid being assassinated by Milosevic, only to be killed now that he has brought Milosevic to the bar of justice. There is also something of an irony in that my last official engagement representing the government will be attending a funeral.’

Point of departure

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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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