And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

26 May

King Edward VI

‘The embassadours saw the baiting of the bearis and bullis.’

Edward VI, the Boy King


John Evelyn,

‘This day died Mr Samuel Pepys, a very worthy, industrious and curious person, none in England exceeding him in knowledge of the navy, in which he had passed through all the most considerable offices. Clerk of the Acts and Secretary of the Admiralty, all which he performed with great integrity. When King James II went out of England, he laid down his office, and would serve no more; but withdrawing himself from all public affairs, he lived at Clapham with his partner, Mr Hewer, formerly his clerk, in a very noble house and sweet place, where he enjoyed the fruit of his labors in great prosperity. He was universally beloved, hospitable, generous, learned in many things, skilled in music, a very great cherisher of learned men of whom he had the conversation. His library and collection of other curiosities were of the most considerable, the models of ships especially.’

A most excellent person


David Garrick,
actor and producer

‘I waited upon Lady Sandwich, was very politely receiv’d by her Lady; she is a woman of great vivacity (tho very old) & of great parts; & tho much us’d to ye french and their customs, know all their foibles, & retains ye sentiments of an English woman . . . We went this Evening to ye Opera; a very raw Entertainment to me; ye scenes were well conducted & had a good Effect ye habits seemingly rich, the singers and dancer very numerous; but yet singing abominable to me, & the dancing very indifferent.’

Hiss’d off ye English Stage


John Gilbert,

‘Today we got through the rocky pass tolerably well; one Bullock, a large & very heavy beast, was however very lame from the commencement, and the rocky days work did not at all improve the poor brute; with this exception our whole number of Bullocks travelled exceedingly well the whole day. In the afternoon, the Dr. with Brown started off to reconnoitre the next stage. The Dr. returned in the evening; Brown succeeded in shooting a Bustard & 3 Ducks, which will be a welcome breakfast to us tomorrow. Our Salt is now reduced to half a pound, which is kept for our next killing tomorrow; having not salt, none of us feel at all inclined to take our soup as formerly, but prefer having it grilled; cooked in any way dry we do not feel the loss of salt so much. While out this morning, the Dr. came upon a camp of Natives, who at first handled their spears as if disposed to stop him, but seeing that their threats had no effect, they all rushed off in the most hurried & alarmed manner: on the Dr’s return he was surprised to see they had not returned during his absence, and he helped himself to a drink of their prepared Honey water, and ate some of their potatoe-like roots. At night we had a change of weather; heavy clouds with a strong westerly wind began rising at sunset, and during the night it rained in light showers.’

A spear through the throat


Peter Hawker,
soldier and hunter

‘I sailed to Yarmouth, and got Butler’s excellent phaeton to the high lighthouse, and returned by Groves’s Hotel; but was so weak I could not enjoy my old paradise, Alum Bay, as before. The lighthouse is now kept by a Mr. Henderson, vice Coleraine, and the dangerous occupation of taking the eggs of rock birds is performed by a man named Lane, of the village below, called Weston, whose brother was lately killed in this awful pursuit.’

A life spent hunting


Lewis Carroll,

‘Received from Macmillan a copy (blank all but the first sheet) of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, bound in red cloth as specimen.’

Dodgson in wonderland


Mark Kellogg,

‘Broke camp 5:30 A.M. crossed run on bridge. Marched 4.2 miles to another feeder of Big Heart, put in bridge, thence to another feeder of Big Heart, going into camp at 2:30 P.M. marching 12 4/10 miles. Scouts from Lincoln on road at 3 A.M. with a mail. Weather hot and dry, first day of real heat yet experienced. Good grass, and water, no wood. Marched over considerable cactus growth today & some red gravel beds seen, first indications of approach to Bad Lands. Gen Custer, pioneering at front all day. Lays all the camps, & attends in person to much of detail of march. [. . .]

Antelope plenty, no signs of other game - No Indian signs for past three days. Mail brought news by telegraph to Gen Terry, of Cabinet changes. Some astonishment expressed because of appointment of Don. Cameron, as Secy of War. Hardly expected in military circles. Past 2 days we have marched between the Stanley trail west of 73. It is an excellent route thus far. Sent. Should properly be called Terrys Trail’

Days before Custer’s Last Stand


Victor Trump,

‘Played MCC [Marylebone Cricket Club, based at Lords]. . . ran about all day. Hard ground . . . 41 not out. MCC dinner at night.’

Ran about all day


Aleister Crowley,
writer and priest

‘3.40 a.m. It has been a trying night. I wrote two poems. Leah screamed terribly for over an hour until, twenty minutes ago, I felt it inhuman not to stop it, and so, in the impossibility of getting the doctor’s permission, I gave her about ⅛ grain of heroin under the tongue. She is now calm. I thought heroin better than my only alternative, ether, as he has been giving her laudanum, and ether is irritating to the system, and so contra-indicated in anything like enteritis (P.S. It acted splendidly, with no bad reaction.)

3.45 a.m. I notice that Language itself testifies to the soundness of my ontological theories; for the adjective of Naught is Naughty! Wrote two more poems.

11.00 p.m. Leah is still very ill; and this doctor rather trimmer. I think, without much confidence in himself. A tiring day, though I slept off some arrears.’

18 June 1920 [a few sentences from a much longer entry]

‘10:30 p.m. I accuse myself of not keeping my Diary properly. There ought to be a discoverable relation between my health, my worldly affairs, and the tone of my thoughts. For even Absolute Ego in eruption makes the relation between its modes of illusion a ‘true’, or harmonious one; for all moods are alike to It, despair a theme of pastime equally with exaltation. [. . .]

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law

10:36 p.m. I beginning a new MS book. My Magical Diary has been very voluminous in these last weeks; I seem to find that it is the sole mode of my initiated expression. I don’t write regular essays on a definite subject, or issue regularly planned instructions. This is presumably normal to my tense and exalted state, to the violent Motion proper to the resolution of all symbols. [. . .]

I am drunk with the pride-absinthe that I am great, the greatest man of my century, its best poet, its mightiest mage, its subtlest philosopher, nor any the less for that classed among the very few well eminent mountain-climbing, in chess-play, and in love.

I am aflame with the brandy of the thought that I am the sublimest Mystic in all history, that I am the Word of an Aeon, that I am the Beast, the Man, Six Hundred Sixty and Six, the self-crowned God whom men shall worship and blaspheme for centuries that are yet wound on Time’s spool, yea, I am insane as if with hashish in my Egomania and Folly of Greatness, that is yet Fact steel-hard, gold-glittering, silver-pure; I want to be yet more than this. [. . .]’

Do what thou wilt


Guy Mayfield, priest

‘19 Squadron have shot down ten. The Hornchurch wing has shot down 40 in all off the Belgian coast. Sinclair, Stevie, Peter and one other are missing. Too numb to feel much; all one can do is to pray off and on all day. We are preparing for an invasion, 20 parachutists over Dover last night - killed before they landed. No further news of Peter and the others. They went up before breakfast towards the French coast and met about 30 Ju’s. They fell for the usual German trick, for above them MEs were waiting. It’s said that Peter and Michael Lyne got a German each. We are here all depressed and anxious about these casualties.

9.30 p.m. Rather more hopeful news. Sinclair has landed at Manston. A Sergeant Pilot is in a French hospital. Logical Lyne is wounded and landed on Margate beach. He is at Deal Hospital. (The nurse tried to remove his trousers on the beach in order to dress his wound, but he resisted this.) Peter was last seen baling out over the Channel near the French coast; there is a chance he was picked up. Stevie was last seen flying towards Germany. Ball is wounded in the head.

This has been a black and anxious Sunday: I wish I could pray as I sleep. What night thoughts for the twentieth century! Goodbye to Peter, returned with a smart salute from the cockpit; and last talk at dispersal about seeing Thel and having dinner next week. Tonight you don’t know whether he is alive or not. It sounds so easy to say, “He bailed out over the sea”. But have you ever seen the inside of a Spit? Imagine bailing out of that, with the wind resistance, at 250 mph at the slowest! And then - he is a good swimmer. I go on saying prayers - I do for all my friends, and he is - was - one of the most loyal; but where does the prayer reach him? Whether in the flesh or the spirit I cannot say, to adapt St Paul. This day last week we were sitting here talking about dying and was trying to explain how the Christian faith made it easier, what prayer did, how the good things we love are imperishable. He talked again about it and quoted me to myself, notably on the drive back from Thel when we were suddenly recalled. So he took it all in.’

Bader ‘squirted’ him


Hermione Llewellyn,

‘Jerusalem: We had an official dinner for HRH Duke of Gloucester who is staying with us. He is visiting troops all over the Middle East and next month he is going to India. His itinerary is enough to give anyone a stroke. At dinner there was a discussion about the rubber shortage and, stupidly, I chipped in and said I thought this news was worse for the women than for men. HRH fixed me with an amused look and demanded that I explain exactly what I meant. I said it may become difficult to obtain elastic girdles and that bras are very dependent on elastic, but I dodged mentioning needs further south.’

Reinforcements received


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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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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, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.