And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

30 March

1663
Henry Newcome,
priest

‘I rose after 8. Was basely imposed upon by Sathan I beleive in some suggestions to mee in my sleepe ye last night. After secret dutys wee went wth ye children to Nicholas Leigh in Salford. Wn wee returned wee went to dutys and after to ye library I went & read a little about lots. Mr Illingw: was wth mee a little before dinner. After I looked up papers in ye cockloft. My Cozen Davenport & his wife &c were here most of the afternoone. Wee should have met at bowles at 4 but it misst. I dispatched after am: my papers. My wive’s distemper & cozen’s toothach might awaken mee to some seriousnes ye night.’

The nonconformist Newcome

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1684
John Evelyn,
writer

‘Easter day. The Bishop of Rochester preached before the King; [. . .] I had received the sacrament at Whitehall early with the Lords and Household, the Bishop of London officiating. Then went to St. Martin’s, where Dr. Tenison preached (recovered from the small-pox); then went again to Whitehall as above. In the afternoon, went to St. Martin’s again.’

Modesty, prudence, piety

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1786
John Adams,
politician

‘Presented Mr. Hamilton to the Queen at the Drawing Room. Dined at Mr. Paradices. Count Warranzow [Woronzow] and his Gentleman and Chaplain, M. Sodorini the Venetian Minister, Mr. Jefferson, Dr. Bancroft, Coll. Smith [William Stephens Smith] and my Family. Went at Nine O Clock to the French Ambassadors Ball, where were two or three hundred People, chiefly Ladies. Here I met the Marquis of Landsdown and the Earl of Harcourt. These two Noblemen ventured to enter into Conversation with me. So did Sir George Young [Yonge]. But there is an Aukward Timidity, in General. This People cannot look me in the Face: there is conscious Guilt and Shame in their Countenances, when they look at me. They feel that they have behaved ill, and that I am sensible of it.’

A spirit to our honour

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1841
Edward Pease,
businessman

‘A day of great bustle and unsettlement from the opening of the Great North of England Railway. Twenty years ago these projects, or rather that from this coal district, was of much interest to my mind and its completion in 1825 may be said to have given birth to all others in this world. For the cause of humanity, at least, I believe them to be useful and being in the permission of infinite Wisdom hope they may not be wrong, but I desire to acknowledge with thankfulness that my mind is broken off or weaned from all new schemes.’

Father of the Railways

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1862
George Sand,
writer

‘On the fourth floor, No. 2, Rue Racine. [. . .] We could see a grey shadow against the pale light. It was a woman, who did not attempt to rise, but who remained impassive to our bow and our words. This seated shadow, looking so drowsy, was Madame Sand, and the man who opened the door was the engraver Manceau. Madame Sand is like an automatic machine. She talks in a monotonous, mechanical voice which she neither raises nor lowers, and which is never animated. In her whole attitude there is a sort of gravity and placidness, something of the half-asleep air of a person ruminating. She has very slow gestures, the gestures of a somnambulist. With a mechanical movement she strikes a wax match, which gives a flicker, and lights the cigar she is holding between her lips.

Madame Sand was extremely pleasant; she praised us a great deal, but with a childishness of ideas, a platitude of expression and a mournful good-naturedness that was as chilling as the bare wall of a room. Manceau endeavoured to enliven the dialogue. We talked of her theatre at Nohant, where they act for her and for her maid until four in the morning. . . . We then talked of her prodigious faculty for work. She told us that there was nothing meritorious in that, as she had always worked so easily. She writes every night from one o’clock until four in the morning, and she writes again for about two hours during the day. Manceau explains everything, rather like an exhibitor of phenomena. “It is all the same to her,” he told us, “if she is disturbed. Suppose you turn on a tap at your house, and some one comes in the room. You simply turn the tap off. It is like that with Madame Sand.” ’

Sand’s Journal Intime

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1964
John Reith,
businessman and politician

‘I feel immensely sad (and more than that) at the eclipse, or rather complete overthrow and destruction, of all my work in the BBC. It was my being prepared to lead, and to withstand modern laxities and vulgarities and immorality and irreligion and all. No-one was ever in such a position as I; I did what my father and mother would have wished - to universal amazement. All gone. Feeling most melancholy.’

Reith on Hitler, Churchill

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1989
Derek Jarman,
director and artist

‘March 30 is my parent’s wedding anniversary, neither of whom were particularly interested in gardening. Though in our family film it might seem otherwise: my mother picking the roses, and dad pushing a large wheelbarrow jauntily along blooming herbaceous borders.

On this day nearly 50 years ago my parents posed for their wedding photo under a daffodil bell hanging in the lych gate of Holy Trinity, Northwood. The photo, with my father in his RAF uniform and my mother holding a bouquet of carnations, her veil caught in the March breeze - captured the imagination of the press. It appeared in national papers - hope at a time of encroaching darkness.

Dungeness has luminous skies: its moods can change like quicksilver. A small cloud here has the effect of a thunderstorm in the city; the days have a drama I could never conjure up on an opera stage.’

Tired of the cinema

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Notes and Cautions
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 Junction is one of those wonderful privately maintained public resources for which the Internet is justly celebrated: a database of information about celebrated and obscure diaries[over 500] from all historical periods, with referrals to the dates the diaries cover, where the originals are held and bibliographic information on published versions.’ Laura Miller, Salon

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, usually several every week. The blog has been publishing for over five years, and is the secondary source for the diary extracts in this online anthology.