And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

27 May

King Edward VI

‘The embassadours, after thei had hunted, sat with me at souper.’

Edward VI, the Boy King


Thomas Raikes,

‘That arch-gambler Crockford is dead, and has left an immense fortune. He was originally a low fishmonger in Fish-street Hill, near the monument, then a leg at Newmarket and keeper of hells in London. He finally set up the club in St. James’s Street opposite to White’s with a hazard bank, by which he won all the disposable money of the men of fashion in London, which was supposed to be near two millions.’

A mania for gossip


King Edward VII

‘At about 10.30. E. Leiningen Moore & I went to the Photographic Studio of M. Abdullah & were photographed (very successfully) “en carte de visite.” Abdullah, did took another photograph at the Embassy of a group of Sir H. & Lady Bulwer & all his staff, & myself & my suite. [. . .] At 4.30. we left the Embassy after having taken leave of Lady Bulwer. We then rode down to the landing place near Tophané Mosque, & were rowed about in our caiques passed past Seraglio Point; at a little after 6 we went on board the “Osborne” & took leave there of Sir H. Bulwer & all the Attachés &c. At 6.30. we wished Constantinople adieu, & steamed slowly down the Bosphorus leaving the beautiful town gradually in the distance, after having spent there a most agreeable week.’

Bertie in the Middle East


John Dearman Birchall,

‘Margaret left us today (the faithful maid). She was much depressed. We gave her £10 and hope her marriage may prove a happy one.’

The tricycle diaries


John Dearman Birchall,

‘Drawing lesson from Mr Watson, perspective mostly but to-day he brought a cast of an ornament for me to do in chalk with view to improving myself in light and shade. Emily has lessons in Spanish. In afternoon I went to Ealing to see a procession of tricyclist clubs, Gloucester and many London ones. We saw examples of the Special Salvo, Otto, Cheylesmore, Meteor, Humber, Devon, Tom Tit and Omnicycle.’

The tricycle diaries


Heinrich Hertz,

‘Constructed a battery of 230 Planté cells and thought about electrodynamic experiments.’

Hertz and his radio waves


Fanny Stevenson,
wife of writer

‘We expect to make Funafuti, the first of the Ellices by daybreak. At nine o'clock, there were no signs of the island. ‘Bad steering,’ growled the Captain. ‘We’ve run past it and now we have to turn around and run back.’ At about 2 we anchored in the lagoon. Two traders came aboard. One was a half-caste from some other island with elephantiasis, very bad, in both legs. The other trader (Restieaux) was described as not thin but very pallid; his face, hands, legs, and feet were without sunburn, smooth, and of a curious transparent mixture like wax. It seemed an over-exertion to raise his large heavy eyes when he spoke to us.

I asked him if he liked the island. ‘Not at all,’ he answered and went on to describe the people; he said he could not keep chickens, ducks or pigs; no one could, for their neighbours, jealous that another should have what they had not, would stone the creatures to death. The same with the planting of fruit trees; the soil was good, and there were a few breadfruits and bananas, but any attempt to grow more is frustrated. The young trees are torn up and even the old ones are occasionally broken and nearly destroyed. . .

. . . After awhile, Louis and I stroll across the island, becoming more and more amazed by what we saw. Everything that one naturally expects to find on a low island is here reversed. To begin with, the fact of the poisonous fish are outside the reef is contrary to what one has reason to expect. The soil is very rich for a low island, with ferns and many shrubs and flowering plants growing. We saw a little taro and quite a large patch, considering, of bananas. There was much marsh and green stagnant pools, and the air was heavy with a hothouse smell. The island seemed unusually wide, but when we pushed through the bushes and trees to find ourselves not on the sea beach, as we had expected, but on the margin of a large lagoon emptied of its waters almost entirely by the low tide.

I found Louis bending over a piece of the outer reef that he had broken off. From the face of both fractures innumerable worms were hanging like a sort of dreadful, thick fringe. The worm looked exactly like slender earth worms more or less bleached, though some were quite earth worm colours.’

Stevenson’s visit to Tuvalu


Isabelle Eberhardt,

‘Geneva. Back to this gloomy diary of mine in this evil city in which I have suffered so much. I have hardly been here a week and once again I feel as morbid and oppressed as I used to in the old days. All I want to do is get out for good.

I went to have a look at our poor house, with the sky low and sunless; the place was boarded up, mute and lost amongst the weeds. I saw the road, white as ever, white like a silvery river, straight as an arrow, heading between those tall, velvet trees for the Jura’s great mountaintops.

I saw the two graves in that faithless cemetery, set in a land of exile, so very far away from that sacred place devoted to eternal repose and everlasting silence . . . I feel that I have now become a total stranger in this land, and tonight I feel an unfathomable and indescribable sadness, and increasingly resigned before my fate . . . What dreams, what enchantments and what raptures does the future still hold in store for me? What dubious satisfactions, and what sorrows?

And when will the clock strike the hour of deliverance at long last, the hour of eternal rest?’

The magnificent Sahara


Victor Trump,

‘Continued innings made 105. Side made 270. Poor score. They did not do so well. Very tired. Stayed in and packed up.’

Ran about all day


Carl Rogers,

‘Here we are still in Hongkong, I in the hotel and Ken in the hospital. He is getting better, but rather slowly, and I expect that we will be in town for at least three days more. He had dysentery on his last trip out here, and this seems to be a mild return of it. It is too bad he had to get sick here. It is one of the most uninteresting towns we have struck, and we also know very few people here, so that it isnt an awfully exciting time I am having. I wish we were up at Canton. Hongkong is about as provincial a city as I have ever seen. In their newspapers nothing but Hongkong news is printed. I dont suppose there has been a total of one column of U.S. news in the five days we have been here. Even the North China news is very scanty. They had chucked off in one inside column what may very possibly prove to be the most important bit of news in China since the Revolution, namely, that Wu Pei Fu, being now of course the master at Peking, is planning to call together the Old Parliament of 1913, is trying to reconcile Sun Yat Sen, and is suggesting Li Yuan Hung for president as a man who can reconcile both parties. If he can put those things thru, it will reunite China under one govt, and perhaps do away with her civil war for some time. Incidentally Dr. C.T. Wang told Ken when we were in Peking that that was what he thought Wu Pei Fu would do if he beat Chang Tso Lin. I expect that C.T. had quite a little to do with formulating that policy, too. You see, the South will not consider uniting with the North unless they recognize the Parliament which was illegally dismissed several years ago, and which fled to Canton to set up the southern govt as the only legally constituted govt in China. So it may be that this proposition of Wu Pei Fu’s, including as it does the recognition of the Old Parliament and the suggestion of a strong moderate like Li Yuan Hung, may really be very Important, I sure hope It works out.

No shipping has been going out of this port until yesterday on account of a typhoon which has been moving northwest from Manila, and also partly on account of the launchmens strike. I guess it is becoming normal again, tho. The Empire State left yesterday, and the Pinetree State will be leaving Wed, so you ought to get lots of mall.

I forgot in my last entry to say anything about the river life here in South China. It is one of the most interesting things I have seen. Thousands of people dont know what it means to spend 24 hours on land. They form a kind of separate caste from the land dwellers, and they live on their boats all the time. It is an inexpensive life, and they earn a little money by ferrying people across the river, and doing a little freight work. I have seen five and six people, a whole family, living on a little covered sampan not more than twenty feet long and six feet wide. How they do it is a mystery. They have a little place in the back for a fire to cook their food, and they sleep on the bare boards, with a wooden block to put under their necks for a pillow. They often have a brood of little chicks in a tiny yard on the boat, and on the larger boats they often have a dog. They dont have to worry about space to keep their property. Their wardrobe consists of the clothes on their back, their cupboard is a place big enough to hold a bowl apiece and an iron bowl for cooking, their washtub, and bath, and dishwashing sink, and toilet, are all found in one place - the river - and that is about all there is to their lives. The bareness of their existence must be beyond comprehension.’

Alongside Carl Rogers


Soe Hok Gie,

‘Marriage for me is identical with sexual relations, so it’s also identical with lust. Human beings are conscious of this, but they are embarrassed and are reluctant to admit this phenomenon. They are embarrassed about being compared with their ‘nephews and nieces’. So for me, marriage has no purpose for what is called love with its ridiculous variations. Marriage is driven by biological instincts... For me love is not marriage. About a year or two ago I was sure that love = lust. However, I doubt the truth of that now. I think that there is something called pure love. But this is defiled by marriage. I have already experienced falling in love with certain individuals, and I’m sure this wasn’t lust.’

Politics is filthy mud


Tony Benn,

‘Harold Wilson’s honours list is still the big news item today. It is unsavoury, disreputable and just told the whole Wilson story in a single episode. That he should pick inadequate, buccaneering, sharp shysters for his honours was disgusting. It has always been a grubby scheme but the Establishment never reveal the grubbiness of their own peerages and honours. Still, we’ve never had anything quite like this in the Labour Party and it has caused an outcry. It will clearly help to get rid of the honours system.’

The hopes of the Left


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And so made significant . . .
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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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