And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

13 May

John Worthington,

‘This day I heard that Mr. Crosley who was of this College died, at London some day this week, on that very day that he should have been married.’

One died of the plague


Carl Linnaeus,

‘Here the Yew (Taxusbaccata) grows wild. The inhabitants call it Id or Idegran.

The forest abounded with the Yellow Anemone (Anemone ranunculoides), which many people consider as differing from that genus. One would suppose they had never seen an Anemone at all. Here also grew Hepatica (Anemone Hepatica) and Wood Sorrel (Oxalis Acetosella). Their blossoms were all closed. Who has endowed plants with intelligence, to shut themselves up at the approach of rain? Even when the weather changes in a moment from sunshine to rain, though before expanded, they immediately close. Here for the first time this season I heard the Cuckoo, a welcome harbinger of summer.

Having often been told of the cataract of Elf-Carleby, I thought it worth while to go a little out of my way to see it; especially as I could hear it from the road, and saw the vapour of its foam, rising like the smoke of a chimney. On arriving at the spot, I perceived the river to be divided into three channels by a huge rock, placed by the hand of Nature in the middle of its course. The water, in the nearest of these channels, falls from a height of twelve or fifteen ells, so that its white foam and spray are thrown as high as two ells into the air, and the whole at a distance appears like a continual smoke. On this branch of the cascade stands a saw-mill. The man employed in it had a pallid countenance, but he did not complain of his situation so much as I should have expected.

It is impossible to examine the nature of the inaccessible black rock over which the water precipitates itself.

Below this cataract is a salmon fishery. A square net, made of wicker work, placed at the height of an ell above the water, is so constructed that the salmon when once caught cannot afterwards escape.

Oak trees grow on the summits of the surrounding rocks. At first it seems inconceivable how they should obtain nourishment; but the vapours are collected by the hills above, and trickle down in streams to their roots.

In the valleys among these hills I picked up shells remarkable for the acuteness of their spiral points. Here also grew a rare Moss of a sulphur-green colour.

From hence I hastened to the town of Elf-Carleby, which is divided into two parts by the large river, whose source is at Lexan in Dalecarlia. The largest portion of the town stands on the southern side, and contains numerous shops, occupied only during the fairs occasionally kept at this place.

I crossed the river by a ferry, where it is about two gun-shots wide. The ferryman never fails to ask every traveller for his passport, or license to travel. At first sight this man reminded me of Rudbeck’s Charon, whom he very much resembled, except that he was not so aged. We passed the small island described by that author as having been separated from the main land in the reign of king John III. It is now at a considerable distance from the shore, the force of the current rendering the intermediate channel, as Rudbeck observes, every year wider. The base of the island is a rock. Only one tree was now to be seen upon it.

The northern bank of the river is nearly perpendicular. I wondered to see it so neat and even, which may probably be owing to a mixture of clay in the sand; or perhaps it may have been smoothed by art. Horizontal lines marked the yearly progress of the water. The sun shone upon us this morning, but was soon followed by rain. Elf-Carleby is two miles and a half further. On its north side are several sepulchral mounds.

Here for the first time I beheld, what at least I had never before met with in our northern regions, the Pulsatilla apii folio (Anemone vernalis), the leaves of which, furnished with long footstalks, had two pair of leaflets besides the terminal one, everyone of them cut halfway into four, six or eight segments. The calyx, if I may be allowed so to call it, was placed about the middle of the stalk, and was cut into numerous very narrow divisions, smooth within, very hairy without. Petals six, oblong; the outermost excessively hairy and purplish; the innermost more purple and less hairy; all of them white on the inside, with purple veins. Stamens numerous and very short. Pistils cohering in a cylindrical form, longer than the stamens, and about half as long as the petals.

We had variable weather, with alternate rain and sunshine.

A mile from Elf-Carleby are iron works called Härnäs. The ore is partly brought from Danemora in Roslagen, partly from Engsiö in Sudermannia. These works were burnt down by the Russians, but have since been repaired.

Here runs the river which divides the provinces of Upland and Gestrickland. The soil hereabouts is for the most part clayey. In the forests it is composed of sand (Arena mobilis and A. Glarea). The post-houses or inns are dreadfully bad. Very few hills or lakes are to be met with in Upland. When I had passed the limits of these provinces, I observed a few oak trees only in the district of Medelpad.’

Father of modern taxonomy


Victor Hugo,

‘The boulevards are deserted. There remain only the regiments, who bivouac at short distances apart. Coming back, I passed through the little streets of the Marais. All is quiet and gloomy. The old Rue du Temple is as black as a furnace. The lanterns there have been smashed.

The Place Royale is a camp. There are four great fires before the Town Hall, round which the soldiers chat and laugh, seated upon their knapsacks. The flames carve a black silhouette of some, and cast a glow upon the faces of the others. The green, fresh leaves of the spring trees rustle merrily above the braziers.

I had a letter to post. I took some precautions in the matter, for everything looks suspicious in the eyes of these worthy National Guards. I recollect that at the period of the riots of April, 1834, I passed by a guard-house of the National Guard with a volume of the works of the Duke de Saint-Simon. I was pointed out as a Saint-Simonian, and narrowly escaped being murdered.

Just as I was going in-doors again, a squadron of hussars, held in reserve all day in the courtyard of the Town Hall, suddenly issued forth and filed past me at a gallop, going in the direction of the Rue Saint-Antoine. As I went upstairs I heard the horses’ foot-falls retreating in the distance.

8 am: Several companies of the National Guard have come and joined the Line regiments encamped in the Place Royale.

A number of men in blouses walk about among the National Guard, observed and observing with an anxious look. An omnibus comes out upon the Rue du Pas-de-la-Mule. It is made to go back. Just now my floor-polisher, leaning upon his broom, said, “Whose side shall I be on?” He added a moment afterwards, “What a filthy government this is! I have thirty francs owing to me, and cannot get anything out of the people!”

The drums beat to arms.

I breakfast as I read the papers. M. Duflot arrives. He was yesterday at the Tuileries. It was at the Sunday reception: the king appeared fatigued, the queen was low-spirited. Then he went for a walk about Paris. He saw in the Rue du Grand-Hurleur a man who had been killed - a workman - stretched upon the ground in his Sunday clothing, his forehead pierced by a bullet. It was evening. By his side was a lighted candle. The dead man had rings on his fingers and his watch in his fob-pocket, from which issued a great bunch of trinkets.

Yesterday, at half-past three o’clock, at the first musket-shots, the king sent for Marshal Soult, and said to him, “Marshal, the waters become troubled. Some ministers must be fished up.”

An hour afterwards the marshal came to the king, and said, as he rubbed his hands, in his Southern accent, “This time, Sire, I think we shall manage the business.”

There is, in fact, a ministry this morning in the “Moniteur.”

12 midday: I go out. Firing can be heard in the Rue Saint-Louis. The men in blouses have been turned out of the Place Royale, and now only those persons who live there are allowed to enter the street The rioting is in the Rue Saint-Louis. It is feared that the insurgents will penetrate one by one to the Place Royale, and fire upon the troops from behind the pillars of the arcades.

Two hundred and twelve years, two months and two days ago to-day, Beuvron, Bussy d’Amboise, and Buquet, on the one hand, and Boutteville, Deschapelles, and Laberthe, on the other, fought to the death with swords and daggers, in broad daylight, at this same time and in this same Place Royale. [. . .]

The approaches to the Place Royale are deserted. The firing continues, very sustained, and very close at hand.

In the Rue Saint-Gilles, before the door of the house occupied in 1784 by the famous Countess Lamothe-Valois, of the Diamond Necklace affair, a Municipal Guard bars my passage.

I reach the Rue Saint-Louis by the Rue des Douze-Portes. The Rue Saint-Louis has a singular appearance. At one of the ends can be seen a company of soldiers, who block up the whole street and advance slowly, pointing their muskets. I am hemmed in by people running away in every direction. A young man has just been killed at the corner of the Rue des Douze-Portes.

It is impossible to go any farther. I return in the direction of the boulevard.

At the corner of the Rue du Harlay there is a cordon of National Guards. One of them, who wears the blue ribbon of July, stops me suddenly. “You cannot pass!” And then his voice suddenly became milder: “Really, I do not advise you to go that way, sir.” I raise my eyes; it is my floor-polisher.

I proceed farther.

I arrive in the Rue Saint-Claude. I have only gone forward a few steps when I see all the foot-passengers hurrying. A company of infantry has just appeared at the end of the street, near the church. Two old women, one of whom carries a mattress, utter exclamations of terror. I continue to make my way towards the soldiers, who bar the end of the street. Some young scamps in blouses are bolting in every direction near me. Suddenly the soldiers bring down their muskets and present them. I have only just time to jump behind a street-post, which protects, at all events, my legs. I am fired upon. No one falls in the streets. I make towards the soldiers, waving my hat, that they may not fire again. As I come close up to them they open their ranks for me, I pass, and not a word is exchanged between us.

The Rue Saint-Louis is deserted. It has the appearance which it presents at four o’clock in the morning in summer: shops shut, windows shut, no one about, broad daylight. In the Rue du Roi-Doré the neighbours chat at their doorways. Two horses, unharnessed from some cart, of which a barricade has been made, pass up the Rue Saint-Jean-Saint-François, followed by a bewildered carter. A large body of National Guards and troops of the Line appear to be in ambush at the end of the Rue Saint-Anastase. I make inquiries. About half an hour ago seven or eight young workmen came there, dragging muskets, which they hardly knew how to load. They were youths of fourteen or fifteen years of age. They silently prepared their arms in the midst of the people of the neighbourhood and the passers-by, who looked on as they did so, then they broke into a house where there were only an old woman and a little child. There they sustained a siege of a few moments. The firing in my direction was aimed at some of them who were running away up the Rue Saint-Claude.

All the shops are closed, except the wine-shop where the insurgents drank, and where the National Guard are drinking.

3 pm: I have just explored the boulevards. They are covered with people and soldiers. Platoon-firing is heard in the Rue Saint-Martin. Before the windows of Fieschi I saw a lieutenant-general, in full uniform, pass by, surrounded by officers and followed by a squadron of very fine dragoons, sabre in hand. There is a sort of camp at the Chateau d’Eau; the actresses of the Ambigu are on the balcony of their greenroom, looking on. No theatre on the boulevards will give a performance this evening.

All signs of disorder have disappeared in the Rue Saint-Louis. The rioting is concentrated in the great central markets. A National Guard said to me just now, “There are in the barricades over there more than four thousand of them.” I said nothing in reply to the worthy fellow. In moments like this all eyes are overflowing vessels.

[. . .] A man has just been killed in the Rue de la Perle. In the Rue des Trois-Pavillons I see some little girls playing at battledore and shuttlecock. In the Rue de l’Echarpe there is a laundryman in a fright, who says he has seen cannon go by. He counted eight.

8 pm: The Marais remains tolerably quiet. I am informed that there are cannon in the Place de la Bastille. I proceed there, but cannot make out anything; the twilight is too deep. Several regiments stand in silent readiness, infantry and cavalry. A crowd assembles at the sight of the wagons from which supplies are distributed to the men. The soldiers make ready to bivouac. The unloading of the wood for the night-fires is heard.

12 midnight: Complete battalions go the rounds upon the boulevards. The bivouacs are lighted up in all directions, and throw reflections as of a conflagration on the fronts of the houses. A man dressed as a woman has just passed rapidly by me, with a white hat and a very thick black veil, which completely hides his face. As the church clocks were striking twelve, I distinctly heard, amid the silence of the city, two very long and sustained reports of platoon-firing.

I listen as a long file of carts, making a heavy iron clatter, pass in the direction of the Rue du Temple. Are these cannon?’

Insurrection in Paris


Henry Crabb Robinson,

‘My birthday. To-day I complete my ninetieth year. When people hear of my age, they affect to doubt my veracity, and call me a wonder. It is unusual, I believe, for persons of this age to retain possession of their faculties, or so much of them as I do. The Germans have an uncomplimentary saying : “Weeds don’t spoil.” ’

Weeds don’t spoil


Alexander Hamilton Stephens,
lawyer and politician

‘General Upton called early. I was so hoarse I could hardly talk. He informed me that he had removed all guards, that I was on my parole. I told him I should not violate it. He was very courteous and agreeable; told me my destination was Washington. [. . .] He gave me choice of route: by Dalton and the lines of railroads northwest and north, or by sea from Savannah. I selected the sea route [. . .]

From my window, just before night, I took a bird’s-eye survey of the ruins of this place. I saw where the Trout House stood, where Douglas spoke in 1860 - I thought of the scenes of that day, and my deep forebodings of all these troubles; and how sorely oppressed I was at heart, not much less so than now, in their full realization with myself among the victims. How strange it seems to me that I should thus suffer, I who did everything in the power of man to prevent them. I could but rest my eye for a time upon the ruins of the Atlanta Hotel, while the mind was crowded with associations brought to life in gazing upon it. There, on the fourth Sept., 1848, I was near losing my life for resenting the charge of being a traitor to the South: and now I am here, a prisoner under charge, I suppose, of being a traitor to the Union. In all, I have done nothing but what I thought was right. The result, be it what it may, I shall endeavour to meet with resignation.’

Deprived of my liberty


John Dearman Birchall,

‘We dined at the Drummonds. They have had a scare about scarlet fever. The under nurse was taken ill on Thursday and yesterday the doctor recognized it as a mild case of scarlet fever so she was sent to the fever hospital. Nobody was there except Lady Elizabeth. Cecil has heard this afternoon that the Government have very bad news from Turkey and that war is imminent. The outbreak at Salonika is likely to be repeated elsewhere and the mussulman blood is rising; with 7 million soldiers in Europe desiring war, as much as a spark could set such inflammable material on fire.’

The tricycle diaries


George Kemp,

‘The great day for Flat Holme signals. 1 started at 7 a.m. and fitted a new copper earth wire in lieu of the iron earth. I sent and received good signals on both systems between 12 and 1.45 p.m. The first half hour of V’s were on a paper strip on the inker, the second, ‘so be it, let it be so’, and the third, ‘it is cold here and the wind is up’. This message was posted to the Kaiser by Professor Slaby.

In the afternoon Mr Marconi came over and tried some adjustments; Mr Taylor came with him and did a little transmitting but, as T sent the best sentences between 12 and 2 p.m. I returned to those adjustments and sent them the following:

How are you? repeated
It is hot repeated
Marconi repeated
Go to bed repeated
Go to Hull repeated
So be it repeated
Tea here is good repeated

Nine similar sentences follow. The tests were resumed the following morning. A motor-driven commutator and a Vrill break were tried, but with no marked improvement on the previous day’s results.’

Signalling with Marconi


Michael Macdonagh,

‘There is a scarcity of bread in parts of the East End of London where German bakers have been rooted out by the process of their shops being pillaged and wrecked. I am told that other premises were attacked by the mobs because of incorrect assumptions as to the nationality of the names over the doors. For instance, a publican named “Strachan” - an old Scottish name - was taken to be a German and had his windows smashed.’

The drama of London in WWI


Arthur Graeme West,

‘Early morning parade occurred with saluting with canes for an hour; various new stunts introduced. Speech by Company Sergeant-Major to the effect that if our kits, caps, and huts were not clean and correct we needn’t think we would go on leave, because we wouldn’t; we would stay and clean them.

Rifle inspection. Several men were had up for moving on parade, among them C_ for scratching his chin. They were brought up before Captain R_, who asked if they had any excuse. They hadn’t, and he told them about discipline, about disciplined troops always beating undisciplined, of how the new officers were all found totally unable to stand still on parade, how if they had been guardsmen they would be made to stand before a clock for an hour, that they had to stand still without moving an eyelash and were cursed for moving their eyes.

The C.O. inspected us in the huts with about ten people oozing after him. Cursed a few men for long hair or hat-band not properly white; no more said. Afterwards C.S.M. had us all on parade, said men were not to be on C. O.’s parade again with dirty boots, that overcoat buttons were to be clean, and all clean in respect of kit and equipment. Then he went on with a long rigmarole about men from Territorial Force units, and some formal filling up of papers. This lasted twenty minutes, during which time he had us at attention or at ease the whole time, never easy. Finally he did nothing with the B.E.F, men at all, and we need really never have been brought out there. The C.O. to-day ordered all the spittoons to be removed from the canteen because of the look they gave to the place; the canteen-man had paid eighteen shillings for them. We learnt about now that the Battalion being full the course would now start in earnest and we might look forward to another four months; we might really have been away all the time.’

Shambles in the dug-outs


Mary Thorp
, governess

’24 years to-day I sailed for N.Y. We are having very hot, sultry weather. Went to La Fougeraie in the little cart, garden & all vegetation simply perfect, what a difference with 3 weeks ago when we were still there, & snow had only ceased three days before. I heard the cannon quite plainly all the time, a continual rumble, & it had been so all night. God grant there may soon be something decisive! . . . Pity for our brave men on land & on sea, near & far, for the latter are terribly out of the “lime-light.” ’

In want of a winter coat


James Courage,

‘I have bought this journal and make my first entry in it in Brighton (Sussex). Am staying at the Old Ship Hotel, having temporarily - and for a very good reason - shut up the flat in Hampstead. I have been here a fortnight tomorrow, staying alone. Solitude by no means as depressing as I had feared, though I miss having somebody to talk to in the evenings. That, 1 suppose, is the penalty of living out of London - at least for a soi-disant intellectual. However, for the moment it can’t be helped; and at least I’ve taken to writing letters again, a habit of which the telephone in London had almost robbed me. If I had enough gumption I’d go out and live for a bit somewhere completely away from towns - somewhere in the Weald of Sussex, for instance. But I haven’t the gumption, so that’s that. I even say to myself, cynically, that there’s nothing to do in the country except farm and/ or fornicate. However that may be, I don’t feel at the moment that I want to do either. So, at Brighton I stay (where, if the opportunity arises, I can at least fornicate urbanly and in good company - to judge by the mien of most of the couples who populate the hotels). My waiter at the hotel here said yesterday (Coronation Day): “It ought to have been Teddy (Windsor) they crowned. Then he could have had Mrs Simpson to-night and told England to go to hell!” Evidently Brighton’s philosophy is on the pagan side. It must be something to do with that amazing Royal Pavilion of George IV’s and Mrs Fitzherbert’s.’

I’d have liked that too


Matamo Ugaki,
naval commander

‘Partly fair. We crossed toward the Shinnan islands and the north of Borneo. At 1830 we entered Balabac Channel. We sailed in a long line of columns. On the first day, two reconnaissance seaplanes cooperated with us in guarding from Singapore. Yesterday we didn’t dispatch any of our own aircraft. Apart from the extent to which it could help us, I was pleased to see they have come to cooperate with us at sea. After passing through the Balabac main channel, we took the northerly course, avoiding shoals. Fleet training wasn’t executed today. The sensitivity of enemy submarines' telephones has become stronger after entering the Sulu Sea.’

Wastebasket of War


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