And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

12 May

1739
George Whitefield,
priest

‘Agreed to Day for myself, and eleven more, to go on Board the Elizabeth, Captain Allen, to Pennsylvania; where I design, God willing, to preach the Gospel in my way to Georgia, and buy Provisions for the Orphan-house. Lord, send thy Angel before me to prepare the Way.’

Preaching with power

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1834
Alexander Hamilton Stephens,
lawyer and politician

‘My desires do not stop short of the highest places of distinction. Yet how can I effect my purpose? Poor and without friends, time passing with rapid flight and I effecting nothing.’

Deprived of my liberty

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1839
Victor Hugo,
writer

‘At three o’clock I return to my study.

My little daughter, in a state of excitement, opens my door and says, “Papa, do you know what is going on? There is fighting at the Pont Saint-Michel.”

I do not believe a word of it. Fresh details. A cook in our house and a neighbouring wine-shop keeper have seen the occurrence. I ask the cook to come up. It is true; while passing along the Quai des Orfèvres he saw a throng of young men firing musket-shots at the Prefecture of Police. A bullet struck the parapet near him. From there the assailants ran to the Place du Châtelet and to the Hôtel de Ville, still firing. They set out from the Morgue, which the good fellow calls the Morne.

Poor young fools! In less than twenty-four hours a large number of those who set out from there will have returned there.

Firing is heard. The houses are in turmoil. Doors and casements open and shut violently. The women-servants chat and laugh at the windows. It is said that the insurrection has spread to the Porte Saint-Martin. I go out and follow the line of the boulevards. The weather is fine; there are crowds of promenaders in their Sunday dress. Drums beat to arms.

At the beginning of the Hue du Pont-aux-Choux are some groups of people looking in the direction of the Rue de l’Oseille. There are a great crowd and a great uproar close to an old fountain which can be seen from the boulevard, and which forms the angle of an open space in the old Rue du Temple. [. . .]

Upon the Boulevard du Temple the cafés are closing. The Cirque Olympique is also closing. The Gaîté holds out, and will give a performance.

The crowd of promenaders becomes greater at each step. Many women and children. Three drummers of the National Guard - old soldiers, with solemn mien - pass by, beating to arms. The fountain of the Château d’Eau suddenly throws up its grand holiday streams. At the back, in the low-lying street, the great railings and doorway of the Town Hall of the 5th Arrondissement are closed one inside the other. I notice in the door little loop-holes for muskets.

Nothing at the Porte Saint-Martin, but a large crowd peacefully moving about across regiments of infantry and cavalry stationed between the two gate-ways. The Porte Saint-Martin Theatre closes its box-office. The bills are being taken down, on which I see the words Marie Tudor. The omnibuses are running.

Throughout this journey I have not heard any firing, but the crowd and vehicles make a great noise.

I return to the Marais. In the old Rue du Temple the women, in a state of excitement, gossip at the doorways. Here are the details. The riot spread throughout the neighbourhood. Towards three o’clock two or three hundred young men, poorly armed, suddenly broke into the Town Hall of the 7th Arrondissement, disarmed the guard, and took the muskets. Thence they ran to the Hôtel de Ville and performed the same freak. As they entered the guard-room they gaily embraced the officer. When they had the Hôtel de Ville, what was to be done with it? They went away and left it. If they had France, would they be less embarrassed with it than they were with the Hôtel de Ville? There are among them many boys, fourteen or fifteen years old. Some do not know how to load their muskets; others cannot carry them. One of those who fired in the Rue de Paradis fell upon his hind-quarters after the shot. Two drummers killed at the head of their columns, are placed in the Royal Printing Establishment, of which the principal doorway is shut. At this moment barricades are being made in the Rue des Quatre Fils, at the corner of all the little Rues de Bretagne, de Poitou, de Touraine, and there are groups of persons listening. A grenadier of the National Guard passes by in uniform, his musket upon his back, looking about him with an uneasy look. It is seven o’clock; from my balcony in the Place Royale platoon-firing is heard.

8 pm: I follow the boulevards as far as the Madeleine. They are covered with troops. National Guards march at the head of all the patrols. The Sunday promenaders intermingle with all this infantry, all this cavalry. At intervals a cordon of soldiers quietly empty the crowd from one side of the boulevard to the other. There is a performance at the Vaudeville.’

Insurrection in Paris

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1862
Edward Lear,
poet and artist

‘My 50th birthday. Rose at 4.20: - off by 5.15.

Long winding paths through olive groves: then dips & struggles with quite wild places, stuffed with all sorts of underwood, the old olives growing tangly all about. Frogs there were also, & rushes. A man passing, & asked the way to Sparterò - said - [Why do you want to go to my village?] I shall not tell you.” - Small miserable collection of huts are Nicori, Palaiocori, & Βαστάτινα, & I see no fun in going back by them: so having drawn the Northern distance above the last village but one - Dragolenà, & great groups of vast olives higher up - we arrived at Σπαρτηρῖο, 20 little houses scattered here & there; [goats], & rayther wretched: - the people only half polite. Nevertheless there is superb scenery all about the place. We took a boy to guide us to Ἅ. Προκόπιος - (the best place to pass the rest of the day in,) - ever winding paths, thro’ thickets, a few scared cattle. A church (in a wilderness,) & thus by 10 - or 10.30 - reached the groves of the Holy Προκόπιος. Lunched & drew in the wide grove till 1: nothing but a very elaborate study of this wood - even if that, - could convey an idea of this beautiful place: - the quiet, warmth, & semishade are delightful. The Elements - trees, clouds, &c. - silence - [All of nature that is] - seem to have far more part with me or I with them, than mankind. After death perhaps I shall be a tree - a cloud - a cabbage - or silence in the next world: but most possibly an ass. In these Προκόπιαν holy glades are but 3 very manifold colors, - the warm pale green of the floor - with long shades: - the gray uniform freckly shimmer of the roof: & the dark brown gray of the supporting pillar trunx. At 1, or 1.30 - into the Monastery, & drew till 3 - awfully tortured by fleas, & obliged to stand in the sun all the time. As soon as I got to the sea I bathed - killing 11 fleas first. At 6. Reached the Casa [Curì]: paid Dimitri 2 dollars [. . .] - 7.30 dinner - [very much too much], & I was horribly bored by a flea!

Bed by 10.15.

Kindly good folk.’

Awfully tortured by fleas

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1865
Alexander Hamilton Stephens,
lawyer and politician

‘This is one of the most eventful days of my life. Never before was I deprived of my liberty or under arrest. Reached Atlanta about eight-thirty. Quite unwell. Carried to General Upton’s headquarters. The first person I saw that I knew was Felix, a coloured man who was a servant to Mr Toombs and myself when we lived together in Washington City. He was very glad to see me and I gave him a hearty handshake. He was our cook in Washington, and a good cook he was. General Upton had gone to Macon but was expected back that night. Captain Gilpin, of his staff, received me and assigned me a room. Anthony made me a fire; Captain Gilpin ordered breakfast and Felix soon had it ready: fried ham and coffee. Walked about the city under guard. The desolation and havoc of war here are soul-rending. Several persons called to see me, Gip Grier [his cousin] the first; my heart almost burst when I saw him, but I suppressed all show of emotion. [. . .] Captain Saint called and said he would send the surgeon of his regiment to prescribe for my hoarseness. The surgeon came, and his remedies did me good. Major Cooper called and gave me a bottle of whisky.

I started from home with about $590 in gold which had been laid up for a long time for such a contingency. I got Gip Grier to exchange $20 of it for greenbacks and small silver. I had first asked Captain Gilpin if this would be allowed and he made no objection. Gip offered me $100 additional in gold if I wished it. I declined it. Duncan offered any amount I might want. I told him I hoped I had enough. All this was in the presence of the officers. General Foster, in his note, offered any funds I might need. I informed him in my answer that I had plenty for present use and hoped I should need no more.’

Deprived of my liberty

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1953
Hermann Buhl,
mountaineer

‘Wonderful path through pine woods, completely, wildly romantic, reminds me of Karwendel. First view of Nanga. Fairy-tale meadows, really fantastically beautiful. Temporary camp in a moraine hollow at the edge of the woods.

At 12 o’clock the dispatching of the coolies begins. Wild chaos, wild shouting. A large tent and two normal tents are pitched. Approximate height 3700 meters. Scenery fantastic, just like home.’

Scenery fantastic - like home

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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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