And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

16 March

Richard Boyle,
landowner and politician

‘The assizes began at yoghall.’

The Great Earl of Cork


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


John Evelyn,

‘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


Thomas Gyll,

‘Died Dr. Thomas Sharp, prebendary of Durham and was buried in the Abbey on the 23rd. (Will dated 1 March, 1758, proved at York in April following.)’

Who died the last week


William Bagshaw Stevens,

‘Dined at the Mitre on Turbot and Claret in consequence of a Wager between Sir R. Burdett and Mr Pyott. Sir R. had laid that old Ashly would live to the 17th of this month. The Bet was made on the 17th of last March. Ashly is now in his 92nd Year. . .’

A disappointed man


William Dyott,

‘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


Henry Martyn,

‘Chiefly employed in the Arabic tract, writing letters to Europe, and my Hebrew speculations. The last encroached so much on my time and thoughts, that I lost two nights sleep, and consequently the most of two days, without learning more than I did the first hour. Thus I have always found, that light breaks in, I know not how, but if, stimulated by the discovery, I think of forcing my way forward, I am always disappointed. I can learn no more than what God is pleased to teach me. With pleasure let me acquiesce in the method of my God. Constantly let me be reminded of my helplessness, and my dependence upon him. Walked at night with a Jew of Bussorah, whose name was Ezra, by the sea side. Besides the Hindoos and Mahometans, there were some Persians adoring the setting sun. My companion, though one of the highest order, as I judged from his appearance and complexion, knew next to nothing. He said they expected the restoration to Jerusalem every day.’

My unprofitable life


William Jackson Hooker,

‘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


Dorothy Mackellar,

‘. . . Shopping. Saw nice three-cornered hat, black with a gold quill, and wanted it very much. Evening: Theatre with the girls and Mr Bean. It was great fun and two rats made a diversion in the gallery. I love Oscar Asche - N.B. The marriage customs of the Greeks are: each man has only one wife and this is called Monotony.’

I love a sunburnt country


Soe Hok Gie,

‘If we accept the notion that [Sukarno] is in fact nothing more than a traditional ruler, the problem now is whether we can put the entire future of Indonesia in the hands of a person like this. As far as I’m concerned, clearly not. I also accept Pancasila and Manipol in an honest fashion. However I think these are things that have to be fought for as Indonesia’s ideals. If Pancasila and Manipol are just slogans then it’s a different matter. The problem now is that we must give meaning to these aspirations to achieve the objective of the revolution. Previously Wiratmo had said to Peransi that we are committed to the aims of the revolution but not to the leadership of the revolution. And as members of the younger generation we have to provide it with some content. Wiratmo really tried to do this with his Cultural Manifesto.

When I spoke with Peransi this afternoon, he was also feeling the same way I was. We have grave doubts about whether there is still any point studying, discussing and so on, while the people are starving everywhere. He was gripped by a powerful urge to act, to take an action.

I told him that these problems had also been bothering me several weeks ago. The important thing is to gather together the necessary forces, because if we don’t look after our forces and just continue to study, we will be wiped out by the opposition group. I have already accepted Soedjono’s principles that now we must really marshal our forces. In politics morality doesn’t exist. As far as I’m concerned politics is something that’s utterly dirty, it’s filthy mud. But at a certain moment where we cannot restrain ourselves any further, then we will leap into it. Sometimes the moment arrives, as it did previously in the revolution. And if by some chance this moment comes I’m going to leap into this mud.’

Politics is filthy mud


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


Norman Eric Kirk,

‘Media Consultants have persuaded the Labour Party to help them finance TV training equipment. This morning, for the first and probably the last time in his life, Mr K went for TV training.

He abhors the thought of “an image”; he believes that being himself is enough. But Rex and I have been busy pointing out to him that there was no sign of his “being himself’ in TV interviews.

He admitted there could be some truth in that so reluctantly set off in the morning sunshine for Media Consultants’ office in Tinakori Road. Apparently he wasn’t going to give Brian Edwards and Peter Debreceny too much room for criticism. He wore a new Auckland-made brown suit, a welcome change from the baggy navy or grey suits he usually wears.

He returned at midday saying the exercise was “most useful” and that he could see a big difference between the first and last takes. The interviewer threw everything at him, made some very personal remarks, and “I didn’t flicker an eyelid”. They’d thought he would be upset but he’d explained to them he’d learnt not to react because he couldn’t afford to in the House, otherwise the other side knew when and where to attack.

He was taken aback at their criticism of Hugh Watt and said they wouldn’t even give him credit for the good statement he’d just issued about the surprise merger of Wellington’s two daily newspapers, saying the capital city might have two papers, but now they spoke with the same voice.

He had the feeling that Media Consultants were pushing to get rid of Hugh Watt as deputy leader, and wondered whose views they were reflecting.

Bill Rowling has announced from Palmerston North that he will be standing for Tasman, not the Avon seat. Mr K is disappointed when he reads that, and speculates that Bill may have made that decision so he won’t be available to help with the New Zealand-wide campaign in November. If he isn’t associated with the campaign, and Labour loses, then he won’t share the blame and “can step straight into my shoes”, Mr K conjectures.

Then he says that if he dies before the election I’m to go round his MPs - because they’ll say it was his own fault he worked too hard - and tell them it wasn’t all his fault. After all, they pushed him in to going here, there and everywhere. Everyone wanted him to visit their electorates.

I grin at the thought of accosting Messrs Watt, Freer and Rowling with that message. These thoughts of death probably arise from his trip to Christchurch yesterday, when he saw Dr Mcllroy again. He’s been feeling better but the doctor has said feeling better is dangerous. He still has to get more weight off.

So today he’s feeling lugubrious and tells me he wants to be buried, not cremated. “I don’t mind giving the worms a field day.” I say something brisk, and work goes on.

Tonight he’s flown down to Christchurch again for the annual meeting of the Sydenham branch of the Labour Party.’

Feeling better is dangerous


Tony Benn,

‘A day of such momentous news it is difficult to know how to start [. . .] I went to Cabinet at 11. Harold said, “Before we come to the business, I want to make a statement.” Then he read us an eight-page statement, in which he said that he had irrevocably decided that he was going to resign the premiership and would stay just long enough for the Labour Party to elect a new leader. People were stunned but in a curious way, without emotion. Harold is not a man who arouses affection in most people. [. . .]

I listened and set all the arguments down on paper. The case for standing is winning, or to win next time, to get an alternative policy across, to influence other candidates, to establish a power base. The case against is that people will say you’re frightened that you might be humiliated, attacked by the trade union leadership, massacred by the press. In the end I decided I would stand.’

The hopes of the Left


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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.