And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

22 May

John Evelyn,

‘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


Ralph Jackson,

‘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


Neil Campbell,

‘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


Charles Brooke,

‘We proceeded as far as the Si Ludam stream, accompanied by only a few boats. The Dyaks were already suffering severely from sickness; six men in a boat next to mine were groaning with pains of colic, besides others who had been stung by the poisonous fish on the mud. Of course they all requested medicine. Nearly two bottles of brandy and a quantity of laudanum were finished this afternoon. I felt this to be rather early in the day for ailments - almost before we were out of sight of our river.

The next morning we stopped at Kabong, a sandy spit which lies at the mouth of the Kaluka river. Here we found about forty large boats, and many Malays. Watson had just gone on towards Kanowit with another forty boats from Saribus. The Kaluka district had been shamefully governed from time immemorial, and as yet this place has derived few reforms from the superior Government of Sarawak; in fact, to pass reforms while the country is still in the possession of Malay rulers, is to little purpose, as the latter are not capable of benefiting by them. New blood is sadly required in this place before any beneficial change can be wrought, as the population, without being vicious, is weak, and has no reliance upon their own regime, nor any confidence that they could successfully imitate others. The consequence is, that there are continual alarms and false reports. And now the Malays hastened on board with a cock-and-bull story that the Kayans had removed to some impregnable fastnesses. This was told me by an officious old Nakodah, who was desirous of returning to his wives. I sent him to his boat with a flea in his ear, and informed him he should have the honour of leading the attack if his story proved true. There were also many nice quiet fellows among the inhabitants, who talked very sensibly; but all allowed that considerable apprehension was felt for the success of such a distant undertaking, against tribes whom they had been bred up to fear as the most powerful of all populations.’

The Sarawak coast is safe


Frank Wedekind,

‘I wait for Katja in a cafe. We take a cab to St Cloud, sit down in front of the restaurant, and drink until it’s time to go back. We dine together at Marguerite’s and then drive back to my room at one o’clock, where I invite her to get into bed. She’s wearing a brand new silk dress from the Louvre that’s too short for her and hence fastened up with a hundred pins. The opening is even sewn askew. I demolish the entire contraption and dump her into bed. In spite of the good supper with champagne, I can’t manage more than a couple of tributes: her confounded practice of refusing to take off her underclothes may be to blame for that. I don’t care in the least for her caresses. Her lips are flabby and she slobbers all over my face. I keep on pouring cognac into her, and the powerful aroma comes back at me. Elle me veut tailler une . . . , mais elle me mord les testicles que je crie par douleur. At the same time she keeps on making such clumsy attempts to address me in the familiar form that I simply can’t bring myself to reply in the same terms. Between four and five, in broad daylight, I take her home, and go to bed about seven.’

Wedekind’s erotic life


Heinrich Schenker,

‘Very gloomy fog, right down to the ground.

Open letter to Mahler signed in a deliberate frame of mind; situation not without humor. ’

Diaries of a musical theorist


Andrew Russel (Drew) Pearson,

‘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


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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And so made significant . . .
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