And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

16 March

1660
Samuel Pepys,
civil servant

‘No sooner out of bed but troubled with abundance of clients, seamen. My landlord Vanly’s man came to me by my direction yesterday, for I was there at his house as I was going to London by water, and I paid him rent for my house for this quarter ending at Lady day, and took an acquittance that he wrote me from his master. Then to Mr. Sheply, to the Rhenish Tavern House, where Mr. Pim, the tailor, was, and gave us a morning draft and a neat’s tongue. Home and with my wife to London, we dined at my father’s, where Joyce Norton and Mr. Armiger dined also. After dinner my wife took leave of them in order to her going to-morrow to Huntsmore. In my way home I went to the Chapel in Chancery Lane to bespeak papers of all sorts and other things belonging to writing against my voyage. So home, where I spent an hour or two about my business in my study. Thence to the Admiralty, and staid a while, so home again, where Will Bowyer came to tell us that he would bear my wife company in the coach to-morrow. Then to Westminster Hall, where I heard how the Parliament had this day dissolved themselves, and did pass very cheerfully through the Hall, and the Speaker without his mace. The whole Hall was joyful thereat, as well as themselves, and now they begin to talk loud of the King. To-night I am told, that yesterday, about five o’clock in the afternoon, one came with a ladder to the Great Exchange, and wiped with a brush the inscription that was upon King Charles, and that there was a great bonfire made in the Exchange, and people called out ‘God bless. King Charles the Second!’ From the Hall I went home to bed, very sad in mind to part with my wife, but God’s will be done.’

Speaker without his mace

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1687
John Evelyn,
writer

‘I saw a trial of those devilish, murdering, mischief doing engines called bombs, shot out of the mortar piece on Blackheath. The distance that they are cast, the destruction they make where they fall, is prodigious.’

A most excellent person

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1796
William Dyott,
soldier

‘Employed in burying the dead, and sending away the wounded by sea to St George’s. I never beheld such a sight as Post Royal Hill, etc. The number of dead bodies and the smell was dreadful. The side of the hill on which the enemy endeavoured to make their retreat was extremely steep and thickly covered with wood, and the only method of discovering the killed was from the smell. It was near a fortnight after the action that many bodies were found. Nine days after the post was taken a mulatto man was discovered in the woods that had been wounded in three places two shots through his thigh. The only thing he had tasted was water, but to the astonishment of everybody he recovered.

The negroes and people of colour can certainly suffer and endure far greater torture than white people. I have seen two or three instances of this kind that astonished me. One in particular at Hooks Bay. Two negroes were taken prisoners the day we got possession of the post, and in order to secure them they were forced into a sort of arched place something like what I have seen under steps made use of to tie up a dog. There was just room for the poor devils to creep in on their hands and knees and to lie down. After they had got in, two soldiers of the 29th regiment put the muzzles of their firelocks to the doorplace and fired at them. I ran to see what the firing was, but before I got to the place they had fired a second round. On reaching the spot I made a negro draw out these miserable victims of enraged brutality. One of them was mangled in a horrid manner. The other was shot through the hip, the body, and one thigh, and notwithstanding all, he was able to sit up and to answer a number of questions that were asked him respecting the enemy. The poor wretch held his hand on the wound in his thigh, as if that only was the place he suffered from. The thigh bone must have been shattered to pieces, as his leg and foot were turned under him. The miserable being was not suffered to continue long in his wretchedness, as one of his own colour came up and blew his brains out sans ceremonie. This account does no credit to the discipline of the army. I own I was most completely ashamed of the whole proceeding, and said all I could to the General of the necessity of making an example to put a stop to these acts of wanton cruelty, being certain that nothing leads to anarchy and confusion in an army so soon as suffering a soldier in any instance to trespass the bounds of strict regularity, or to permit him to be guilty of an act of cruelty or injustice.

Acts of wanton cruelty

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1848
William Jackson Hooker,
scientist

‘We arrived at Benares. The Ganges is here a broad stream, and rises 43 feet during the rains, with a current of eight miles an hour, and, I am informed, carries along one-quarter per cent, of sediment. The fall from hence is 300 feet to the junction of the Ganges and Hooghly, which is one foot to every hundred miles. My observations make the fall from Mirzapore to Benares very much greater.

Benares is the Athens of India. The variety of buildings along the bank is incredible. There are temples of all shapes, in all stages of completeness, and at all angles of inclination; for the banks give way so much that many of these edifices are fearfully out of the perpendicular. It is a most quaint river-frontage; and perhaps, to a long resident in India, it may look magnificent; but I was much disappointed. As an eastern city it is incomparably inferior to Cairo. [. . .]

The general appearance of an oriental town is always more or less ruinous; and here there was nothing to be seen of architecture but crumbling house-tops beyond the banks of the river. The eye is fatigued with pigeons, parrots, pots, plaster, pan-tiles, the ear with prayer-bells and Poojahs; whilst the Peepul and Parkimonia are the only green things to be seen on this side of the bright meadows and green trees which adorn the European residents’ dwellings, some four miles back from the river. The streets are so narrow, that it is difficult to ride a horse through them; and the houses are often six stories high, with galleries crossing above, from house to house. These tall, gaunt edifices sometimes give place to clumps of cottages, and a mass of dusty ruins, the unsavoury retreats of vermin and filth.’

The Hookers of Kew

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1969
Mohammed Ayub Khan,
soldier and politician

‘Yusuf Haroon has been designated as Governor of West Pakistan.

I am doubtful the two amendments we wish to bring before the assembly will go through. Even the moderates will try to outbid the extremists in demands. I have told some Punjabis to get influential Punjabis to make statements that they would not be averse to undoing West Pakistan [one unit] so as to gain the confidence of people of smaller provinces to prevent them depending too much on East Pakistanis. I have also said that two commissions should be set up to determine the financial and administrative consequences of undoing one unit. I am told the Frontier, Balochistan, and even Sindh would not be viable without substantive support from the centre. I would like a similar commission for East Pakistan. My object is to prevent rush actions being taken. Whatever is done must be scientifically considered.’

Diaries of a Pakistan leader

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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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