And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

15 May

Charles Abbot,
lawyer and politician

‘House of Commons. Motion for an address and monument to Mr Perceval [assassinated Prime Minister] in Westminster Abbey carried by 199 to 26.’

An agony of tears


Henry Greville,
courtier and diplomat

‘The translation of Napoleon’s remains makes a great stir. Many people laugh at it, and think it a great piece of humbug - which no doubt it is - but it is a sort of humbug which goes down here exceedingly well. I am still confined to my couch, but people are very kind to me, [. . .]

The murder of Lord William Russell is still enveloped in mystery; and although there is evidence to connect the Swiss valet with the robbery, there is none to prove him guilty of the murder. Charles writes me word he had seen the prisoner in Tothill Fields prison; that he has a bad countenance, but was calm and even dejected, civil and respectful in his manner. Everything would tend to condemn him morally, but much doubt is entertained whether, legally, there be sufficient evidence to convict him.

The Duke of Wellington made an admirable speech the other night on a motion of Lord Stanhope on the Chinese question. It was well delivered, and, evincing an entire knowledge of the subject, and a total absence of all party feeling, he entered into a warm defence of Captain Elliott, showing that when an officer was, as he considered, unjustly attacked in the discharge of his duty, he never could allow any consideration of party warfare to prevent his upholding him against all detractors.

The Tories are very angry with the Duke, as their only object is to embarrass the Government, no matter at what hazard or cost.’

I went with the Queen


Wilford Woodruff,

‘True information has just reached us that the noted Governor Boggs of Missouri who by his orders expelled ten thousand Latter-day Saints, has just been assassinated in his own house and fallen in his own blood. Three balls were shot through his head, two through his brains and one through his mouth, tongue and throat. Thus this ungodly wretch has fallen in the midst of his iniquity and the vengeance of God has overtaken him at last, and he has met his just deserts though by an unknown hand. This information is proclaimed through all the papers and by dispatched messengers and hand bills through the land. Thus Boggs hath died as a fool dieth and gone to his place to receive the reward of his works.’

Oh how weak is man


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,

‘I am plagued to death with letters from all sorts of people, of course about their own affairs. No hesitation, no reserve, no consideration or delicacy. What people!’

Gabrielle, Celestine or Evangeline?


Rutherford B Hayes,

‘Judge Matthews and I have agreed to go into the service for the war, if possible into the same regiment. I spoke my feelings to him, which he said were his also, viz., that this was a just and necessary war and that it demanded the whole power of the country; that I would prefer to go into it if I knew I was to die or be killed in the course of it, than to live through and after it without taking any part in it.’

They cheered lustily


George Kemp,

‘I dismantled the Marconi transmitting apparatus on Flat Holme, leaving it at Penarth, and then arranged for a steamer to Brean Down on Monday.’

Signalling with Marconi


Alfred Edgar Coppard,

‘When the late mr Reason was killed in Australia a big subscription was made by the men in order to buy something which could be placed in the new factory as a memorial of him [.] About £25 was collected & it was foolishly resolved to buy a drinking fountain to be placed in the courtyard. When at length the fountain appeared there was great disappointment it was so small, ludicrously small. At noon when the men came out for dinner they found some sacriligious wag had tied a notice to the paltry thing, “No bathing allowed here”!’

Prize money for books


Tony Benn,

‘State Opening of Parliament. [ . . .] Mrs Thatcher made a most impassioned speech, from notes, except for one passage about Rhodesia which had been typed up no doubt on the insistence of the FO - the most rumbustious, rampaging, right-wing speech that I’ve heard from the government Front Bench in the whole of my life. Afterwards I saw Ted Heath and told him, “I’ve never heard a speech like that in all my years in Parliament.” He said, “Neither have I.” [. . .]

I said I had some sympathy with Thatcher - with her dislike of the wishy-washy centre of British politics. He gave me such a frosty look that I daresay I had touched a raw nerve.’

Thatcher gives a cuddle


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And so made significant . . .
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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

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