And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

6 March

1716
Mary Clavering Cowper,
courtier

‘At Court. An extraordinary Light in the Sky, described to me since by Dr. Clarke, who saw it from the Beginning. First appeared a black Cloud, from whence Smoke and Light issued forth at once on every Side, and then the Cloud opened, and there was a great Body of pale Fire, that rolled up and down, and sent forth all Sorts of Colours like the Rainbow on every Side; but this did not last above two or three Minutes. After that it was like pale elementary Fire issuing out on all sides of the Horizon, but most especially at the North and North-west, where it fixed last. The Motion of it was extremely swift and rapid, like Clouds in their swiftest Rack. Sometimes it discontinued for a While, at other Times it was but as Streaks of Light in the Sky, but moving always with Swiftness. About one o’Clock this Phenomenon was so strong, that the whole Face of the Heavens was entirely covered with it, moving as swiftly as before, but extremely low. It lasted till past Four, but decreased till it was quite gone. At One the Light was so great that I could, out of my Window, see People walk across Lincoln’s Inn Fields, though there was no Moon. Both Parties turned it on their Enemies. The Whigs said it was God’s Judgement on the horrid Rebellion, and the Tories said that it came for the Whigs taking off the two Lords [see below] that were executed. I could hardly make my Chairmen come Home with me, they were so frightened, and I was forced to let my Glass down, and to preach to them as I went along, to comfort them. I’m sure Anybody that had overheard the Dialogue would have laughed heartily. All the People were drawn out into the Streets, which were so full of people One could hardly pass, and all frighted to Death.’ [This was a display of the Northern Lights, once dubbed Lord Derwentwater’s Lights because the coffin of Lord Derwentwater, a young Jacobite executed for treason, had been brought to London that night.]

All sorts of colours

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1847
Eugène Delacroix,
artist

http://thediaryjunction.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-workings-of-delacroix.html

‘After a good night’s rest I went back to the studio where I recovered my good humour. I am looking at the ‘Hunts’, by Rubens. The one I prefer is the hippopotamus hunt; it is the fiercest. I like its heroic emphasis, I love its unfettered exaggerated forms, I adore them as much as I despise those gushing empty-headed women who swoon over fashionable portraits and M. Verdi’s music.’

The workings of Delacroix

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1943
Joseph Goebbels,
politician

‘I had a very lengthy talk with Seyss-Inquart. He is an enthusiastic supporter of my policies and has great expectations for them in the occupied areas. He reported that our generals sometimes get weak in the knees. But that, after all, has always been the case with the generals! I can see from this talk that the chances for the success of my political directives are everywhere on the increase.’

The Nuremberg ten

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1961
Pope John XXIII

‘Just when I thought my heavenly visits were over, the Madonna comes to me once again. She seems tired of the heartache she must share with me. My heart aches to see him hurting so. The news, again foreboding. In the early 1990s there will be a period of deadly natural disasters. She says paradise will be struck by powerful winds and wails, while killer floods and violent earthquakes will shatter man’s dwellings. By the middle of the decade, regional skirmishes will develop into full-fledged conflicts. As the casualties mount, world-wide famine will strike. The devastation will be like none ever seen, especially throughout Africa where millions will perish.’

A pope’s view of Mussolini

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1996
Alec Guinness,
actor

‘Memories of Brighton crowded in on me as we drove home, from visits as a schoolboy to appearances at the Theatre Royal in later life; from doing the officer training course (for RNVR) at HMS King Alfred at the far edge of Hove (it now looks like some sort of leisure complex) to weekends during the fifties at the Royal Crescent Hotel at the eastern end of Brighton front. [. . .] What I liked most about Brighton as a boy was the little electric railway which ran from near the Palace Pier to Black Rock and had a section of its line, all too short for my money, running out over the sea. When the sea was a bit rough this was a thrill; when it was really rough the cissy little train didn’t function. I must have spent many happy, if lonely, hours to’ing and fro’ing. Not absolutely lonely. I have always found the sea, in whatever mood it was in, good and sufficient company.’

I noticed my feet

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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.