And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

22 May

1685
John Evelyn,
writer

‘Oates [Titus Oates instigated the fictitious Popish plot that led to several executions before being found out], who had but two days before been pilloried at several places and whipped at the cart’s tail from Newgate to Aldgate, was this day placed on a sledge, being not able to go by reason of so late scourging, and dragged from prison to Tyburn, and whipped again all the way, which some thought to be severe and extraordinary; but, if he was guilty of the perjuries, and so of the death of many innocents (as I fear he was), his punishment was but what he deserved. I chanced to pass just as execution was doing on him. A strange revolution!’

A most excellent person

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1752
Ralph Jackson,
landowner

‘In the morning I cleaned my Shoes, after Breakfast I took a walk with Billy & R. Morton upon the Moor and saw soldiers reviewed By General Camdbell, after dinner I drew out the April Vend and carried it to Mr Featherston’s Office. I called at the Post house an at Doctor Hallowell’s Shop where I saw Dicky Cotesworth and he told me his Bror. & Sisters was gone down to Winkhamlee, came home I saw the Man that made Paper cake mix his Paste in the Burnbank, came home and sat in the House till Eleven o’Clock and my Master did not come in, so I retired to bed at ye time.’

Apprentice Hostman and squire

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1814
Neil Campbell,
soldier

‘Napoleon told me that he had taken Malta by a coup de main; that the inhabitants were so intimidated ‘par le nom de ces républicains, mangeurs d’hommes,’ that they all took refuge within the fortifications, with cattle and every living animal in the island. This created so much confusion and dismay, that they were incapable of opposition.

He requested me to write to the consul at Algiers, to secure the respect due to his flag, agreeably to the treaty.’

Of Napoleon, and a turtle

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1949
Andrew Russel (Drew) Pearson,
journalist

‘Jim Forrestal died at 2 am by jumping out of the Naval Hospital window . . .

I think that Forrestal really died because he had no spiritual reserves. He had spent all his life thinking only about himself, trying to fulfill his great ambition to be President of the United States. When that ambition became out of his reach, he had nothing to fall back on. He had no church; he had deserted it. He had no wife. They had both deserted each other. She was in Paris at the time of his death - though it was well-known that he had been seriously ill for weeks. But most important of all, he had no spiritual resources . . .

But James Forrestal’s passion was public approval. It was his lifeblood. He craved it almost as a dope addict craves morphine. Toward the end he would break down and cry pitifully, like a child, when criticized too much. He had worked hard - too much in fact - for his country. He was loyal and patriotic. Few men were more devoted to their country, but he seriously hurt the country that he loved by taking his own life. All his policies now are under closer suspicion than before . . .

Forrestal not only had no spiritual resources, but also he had no calluses. He was unique in this respect. He was acutely sensitive. He had traveled not on the hard political path of the politician, but on the protected, cloistered avenue of the Wall Street bankers. All his life he had been surrounded by public relations men. He did not know what the lash of criticism meant. He did not understand the give-and-take of the political arena. Even in the executive branch of government, he surrounded himself with public relations men, invited newsmen to dinner, lunch, and breakfast, made a fetish of courting their favor. History unfortunately will decree that Forrestal’s great reputation was synthetic. It was built on the most unstable foundation of all - the handouts of paid press agents.

If Forrestal had been true to his friends, if he had made one sacrifice for a friend, if he had even gone to bat for Tom Corcoran who put him in the White House, if he had spent more time with his wife instead of courting his mistress, he would not have been so alone this morning when he went to the diet pantry of the Naval Hospital and jumped to his death.’

Salty and petulant

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1951
Kenneth Williams,
actor and writer

‘Letter from Robert Sheaf, asking me to take part in a Shakespearean tour of villages. Sounds delightful. He saw me in Bordeaux, obviously thinks I’m young and inexperienced and would be delighted to join him and a few intense young men, doing Romeo all over Oxfordshire. Very funny reely. This little chic stays single. Read ‘The City and the Pillar’ by [Gore] Vidal. Wonderful book. Commended by Stanley in his last letter.’

Carry on carping

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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.

For any other use of these diary extracts other than browsing please refer to the original sources.

Any author, publisher or other copyright holder who takes the view that I am unacceptably breaching their copyright please let me know. I have tried to remain sensitive to copyright rules (using far fewer quotes, for example, when a book, by an author still alive, remains in print and popular), but it is not practical for me to seek authorisation for every quote and article, since I maintain these websites without any funding or advertis-ing. I take the view that publicity for the source books is a quid pro quo for my use of the extracts, but I am more than happy to remove the extracts if asked.

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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.