And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

20 March

Jeffrey Amherst,

‘We saw three sail and one we took for a french Privateer which we chased. The weather was so calm we could not get up to her; we tryed an Eighteen Pounder to throw it as far as they could but it did not go above half way to her and in the evening I believe the Privateer got out her oars, for she got allmost out of sight and we gave over the chase. In the night it began to blow very hard and the 21st it blew hard and was very heavy. In the morning as we were going Eleven Nots an hour a ship was seen to Windward laying by within half a mile of us, & was taken at first for an English frigate. Capt. Rodney ordered the Mainsail to be hauled up immediately and ship to be cleared, and knew the ship to be a french one; directlv we began to fire he hoisted English colours, and on continuing to fire at him as he did not lower his sail his English ensign was blown away and he hoisted French. The Dublin fired five and twenty or thirty shots, and the frenchman three and some musketry and then struck. The first Lieut., Mr. Worth, went on board her and sent the captain who told us he came from L’Isle de Bourbon, had been four weeks on his Voyage and was laying by for fair weather to run into Brest which he said was twenty leagues from him, that he had seven hundred Thousand Pounds weight of Coffee, Part for the India Company and part for Monsr. LeBorde, Merchant at Bayonne, and some thousand Pounds of Logwood 40,000 P weight; his Vessel LeMonmartel of about 400 Tons and 73 men, officers included. All the men except the sick were brought on board just before night and 30 men sent with Lt. Worth into the Prize.’

Canada for the British


Neil Campell,

‘Left Genoa. During the night robbed of my watch and between fifty and sixty guineas by brigands near Novi.’

Of Napoleon, and a turtle


Samuel Wilberforce,

‘To Windsor Castle. The Confirmation of Princess Royal interesting she devout, composed, earnest; youngest sister much affected the Queen and Prince also. The Queen spoke most kindly to me after: all very kind. On to London large Confirmation at St. James’s felt constrained, and very unlike my own. Then to London House. Met Dr. Todd, who spoke hopefully of Bishop. Saw him, very low, very affecting state, spoke of himself as dying. I certain to succeed him, and no one to whom he could more happily entrust his Diocese, &c. About himself, his keen sight of past sins; no hope but simply in Christ’s sacrifice for him. A great struggle between conscience and faith. Pray for me. A most affecting sight in one so good. How awful to all the vision of sin in the light of God’s countenance.’

Descended from a bishop


Charles Piazzi Smyth,

‘By cab to the Observatory. Saw S[ignor] Cacciatore and S. Tacchini. Spoke to former chiefly on meteorology, and to the latter on spectroscopy. Former to copy out for me the Met[eorological] journal for the first two weeks of March as descriptive of storm on SS Kedar [experienced on the voyage]. Touching the blue sun, he says that that came from dust in the atmosphere, for dust fell that day on the roof of the Observatory and was gathered up: he gave us a specimen. S. Tacchini similarly gave me a specimen from Genoa, collected similarly in 1870.

On speaking of spectrum of zodiacal light. Signor T. has not observed it himself but speaks as though all Italian astronomers were sure the aurora, zodiacal light and solar corona gave one and the same spectrum line, and he gave me two papers and a mss page to prove the same [by Secchi and other Italian astronomers].’

Accompanied by ghost


Raja Varma,

‘We paid a visit to the Meeralum Tank about 5 or 6 miles from here [ChaddrighautJ. I made a sketch of the lake and hills surrounding it with the sun setting. The drive was hot and dusty.’

Painting with brother


William Booth,
priest and evangelist

‘Arriving at Amsterdam, the mail brought confirmation of my agreement of yesterday to postpone my South African visit to September, and to begin my Motor Tour at Dundee, and finish at the Crystal Palace. In all these things the maxim is ever present to my mind, ‘Man proposes, but God disposes.’ Closed the night at the desk, which is becoming more and more a difficult task from the failure of my eyes.’

I got the truth out


Mary Fuller,

‘___phoned today and thanked me for the gifts. Last week was her birthday. As I wasn’t working in the morning of that particular day, I looked over my mail, and then rushed for the train. Went down to her rooms, took some spring flowers and arranged them in a vase on the table, put a new silk waist on the dresser with a note and prepared a nice birthday surprise. Then I came uptown and left the things to be discovered by her when she came home in the evening. I like doing things that will please other people.’

What happened to Mary


Carl Rogers,

‘This has been one of the most beautiful days that we have had since we left home. The trip from Kobe down to the end of the Island has been simply one grand panorama of changing scenes; rice paddies, mountains, hills, fishing villages, great broad rivers, and the beautiful inland sea.

There were many interesting things in the morning; the train was taking us rapidly into warmer country and it looked more and more like summer. For the first time we saw rice growing in the fields, and the men and more often the women out in the water up to their ankles, weeding the rows. The rice is a very slender wiry looking plant when it is small, and a darker green even than the winter wheat.

During the afternoon we rode for a long time within sight of the inland sea. The little thatched huts of the fishing villages were most interesting. They were the same general type as the farmers houses, one storied, with thin wooden walls, and a very neatly thatched roof, but they were not as prosperous looking as the farmhouses. In many places there were ponderous stone or earth dikes to keep the sea from rushing in on the little rice fields. The fishermen in many places have placed weirs, crude little bamboo traps, across the mouth of the rivers that empty into the sea, and catch the fish as they go up the river to spawn.

The scenery along the coast is the best I have seen anywhere since I have started. The mountains and jagged rocks formed a “stern and rockbound coast,” and the rocky islands off the coast were about as fine as anything of that sort I have ever seen. In some places there were rocky reefs where the breakers were breaking and casting great clouds of spray into the air, for the wind was very strong.

The craft were as interesting as the sea itself. There were many of the large, clumsy fisherman’s dories being sculled along by means of the large orr at the stern; there were little native coasting boats, with patched old sails; and now and then we would see a larger freighter steaming along.

We got to Sheminoseki right on time (all Japanese trains seem to be right on time) and got our baggage transferred to the boat. We were all prepared for a rough night, for we knew how strong the wind was, but we were a little surprised to find that the passenger steamer that had set out for Fusan in the morning had had to give up and come back, because it was too rough to cross. However the officers of the boat thought we could make it all right, and they were going to make another try, anyway, so we steamed out of the long harbor. There was surely some gale blowing, but it didnt bother most of us. Austin, Mildred, Jean, and myself even went so far as to have some bread and jam and tea before we went to bed. I slept like a log, though every now and then when I woke up, the boat seemed to be doing its best to stand on its head. It didnt roll so badly, but it pitched and bucked as badly as I have ever wished to try it.’

Alongside Carl Rogers


Harry Kessler,
diplomat and writer

‘At one o’clock to Rathenau in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Our conversation began with a detailed catalogue of complaints on his part about the onerousness of his duties and the difficulties with which he has to contend. Nobody, in his view, can cope with this appointment for more than six months. It is a cranking up the Ministry’s entire machinery, and that is superhuman labour. For eight years German foreign policy has lain fallow. Now it has to be reactivated, every day a fresh iron has to be put into the fire, a helping hand has to be given to every part of the Ministry. To enable him to do that, he should see everything. If he omits anything, then that sector slips out of his grasp. He cannot in fact see everything, and so he will perhaps have to divide things up in such a way as more or less to delegate certain sectors to department heads while he himself exercises active control over these minor fields only every few weeks. Even then the burden will remain almost insuperable.

On top of this come the affronts which he must constantly pass over in silence, the answers to the Entente communications, the visits he has to receive and make, the Cabinet meetings and the Reichstag sessions, and the paradox which requires that German foreign policy shall now not merely be

sensible but accord with the popular mood. All that is an impossible strain to carry indefinitely. Worst of all, though, is his own countrymen’s vindictive hostility. In addition to threatening letters he receives every day, there are police reports which cannot be ignored. As he said this, he drew a Browning from his pocket. His most cordial relations are with the British, followed by the French, Italians, Japanese, and so on; his worst, with the Germans.

We discussed my trip to Paris. He is of the opinion that the phrase ‘désarmement morale’ presents at this stage the greatest possible danger to us, now that physical disarmament has been effectively implemented, because it can serve the French with an excuse for maintaining their military control.

Finally the talk turned to Genoa. I said that I propose to go there and that I am informing him of this because I do not want to act without his knowledge or against his wishes. He replied that he is very willing for me to go, but it should remain a private matter between us. I am to tell no one that he has encouraged the idea, else far too many others will seek his blessing also.

I am going, I commented, because I believe I shall be able to make myself useful to him and our common objectives and interests. He agreed that my innumerable connections in France, Britain and Italy may render my presence valuable and, if occasion arises, he will be pleased to avail himself of my services. He is very glad that I am going.

My own impression is that he is not as gratified as all that. Perhaps he fears that I shall produce too pacifist an effect and thereby inconvenience the efforts of his own people. The military undoubtedly exercise some influence on his trains of thought. Before I left, he added that we cannot promise the French ‘désarmement morale’ when our entire youth is moving in precisely the opposite direction towards the worst, most obdurately reactionary, outlook. Were we to offer the prospect of such a disarmament, then they would be justified in subsequently accusing us of dishonesty.

Dined with the Einsteins. A quiet, attractive apartment in Berlin West (Haberlandstrasse). Rather too much food in a grand style to which this really lovable, almost still childlike couple lent an air of naivety. Guests included the immensely rich Koppel, the Mendelssohns, Warburg, Bernhard Dernburg (as shabbily dressed as ever), and so on. An emanation of goodness and simplicity on the part of host and hostess saved even such a typical Berlin dinner-party from being conventional and transfigured it with an almost patriarchal and fairy-tale quality.

I had not seen Einstein and his wife since their major excursion abroad. They admitted quite unaffectedly that their reception in the United States and Britain were veritable triumphs. Einstein gave a slightly ironic, sceptical twist to their description by claiming that he cannot make out why people are so interested in his theories. His wife told me how he kept on saying to her that he felt like a cheat, a confidence trickster who was failing to give them whatever they hoped for.

He wanted to know precisely, and made me repeat several times, what message Painlevé gave me for him and what he said about his Paris trip. He is starting on this in the next few days and will stay there a week. He expects university circles here to take it amiss, but they are a terrible lot and he feels quite sick when he thinks of them. In Paris he hopes to be able to do something towards resumption of relations between German and French scholars. He brushed aside his differences with Painlevé as a detail, appearing to attach no importance to them. In autumn he intends to comply with invitations to visit China and Japan, giving lectures at Peking and Tokyo. He must see the Far East, he has confided to his wife, while the big drum is still being banged on his account; that much he insists on obtaining from the hullabaloo.

He and his wife kept me back when the other guests left. We sat in a comer and chatted. When I confessed to sensing the significance of his theories more than I can properly grasp them, Einstein smiled. They are really quite easy, he retorted, and he would explain them to me in a few words which would immediately render them intelligible. I must imagine a glass ball with a light at its summit resting on a table. Flat (two-dimensional) rings or ‘beetles’ move about the surface of the ball. So far a perfectly straightforward notion. The surface of the ball, regarded two-dimensionally, is a limitless but finite surface. Consequently the beetles move (two-dimensionally) over a limitless but finite surface. Now I must consider the shadows thrown by the beetles on the table, due to the light in the ball. The surface covered by these shadows on the table and its extension in all directions is also, like the surface of the ball, limitless but finite. That is, the number of conic shadows or conic sections caused by the theoretically extended table never exceeds the number of beetles on the ball; and, since this number is finite, so the number of shadows is necessarily finite. Here we have the concept of limitless but finite surface.

Now I must substitute three-dimensional concentric glass balls for the two-dimensional beetle shadows. By going through the same imaginative process as before, I shall attain the image of limitless yet finite space (a three-dimensional quality). But, he added, the significance of his theory lies by no means in these thought processes and concepts. That is derived from the connection between matter, space, and time, proving that none of these exists by itself, but that each is always conditioned by the other two.

It is the inextricable connection between matter, space, and time that is new in the theory of relativity. What he does not understand is why people have become so excited about it. When Copernicus dethroned the earth from its position as the focal point of creation, the excitement was understandable because a revolution in all man’s ideas really did occur. But what change does his own theory produce in humanity’s view of things? It is a theory which harmonizes with every reasonable outlook or philosophy and does not interfere with anybody being an idealist or materialist, pragmatist or whatever else he likes.’

Dined with the Einsteins


Bruce Lockhart,

‘This is the beginning of a critical week, as I must raise at least £750 in order to meet my debts.’

Secret agent in Moscow


Richard Burton,

‘The last six months have been a nightmare. I created one half and Elizabeth the other. We grated on each other to the point of separation. I had thought of going to live lone in some remote shack in a rainy place and E had thought of going to stay with Howard in Hawaii. It is of course quite impossible. We are bound together. Hoop-steeled. Whither thou goest. He said hopefully.’

I bought her a jet plane


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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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