And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

16 November

1812
Charles Crowe,
British soldier

‘Vander and I agreed to reverence the day, and a parade for Divine Service had been ordered. I was to have officiated as Chaplain, but the rain was too heavy to allow any but the sailors working the ship to remain on deck. The Master dined with us. When he left our cabin he foresaw a storm, and gave orders accordingly. Late in the evening the Hatchways were closed, and covered over with tarred purlings and a most awful night ensued. The wind blew great guns, and the sea ran mountains high. Our ship pitched and tossed and reeled most furiously.

Sleep was out of question, especially after midnight, when the table broke from the lashings to the floor, and set at liberty all our trunks stowed beneath, which drove slap bang from side to side as the vessel rolled. Thus Cobbold and myself in the lower berths were alternately in dread of unwelcome intruders. I succeeded in catching hold of and securing my own trunk, and was leaning forward to reach Vander’s when Dr Rice, anxious about his case of instruments, dropped from the berth above, and caught my head between his thighs. At this very juncture, the ship lurched suddenly to narboard, so that the Doctor, being rather short, could but just reach the floor, and by clinging to his own berth, save himself from falling backward.

Thus I remained in a pillory without the possibility of withdrawing my head, to the great amusement of our opposite companions. Pinching and thumping availed me not, for the Doctor could not budge a jot, until the ship righted on its way to falling to starboard, which made the Doctor scramble up to save his legs from the trunks, and thus set me free. All of us now could join the hearty laugh, and joke the Doctor’s nimbleness in saving his shanks. Our glee was however, cut short, for as the ship was rising on a lofty wave and appeared to stand on end, a cross wave struck our stern, made every plank and timber quiver, smashed our dead lights, or storm window shutters, to atoms, and shipped much water.

Cobbold and I had now to change our operations, and were obliged as the vessel rolled to either side, to hold up our bed clothes to prevent the water washing into our berths, and were thus employed until the water by degrees found its way under the cabin door to the ship's waste. All this was bad enough, but in the hold, where men and horses were so closely stowed, the scene was horrible! Three fine horses were suffocated, and falling against those next to them, threw them down, and they by their plunging injured others. When the storm mitigated in the morning, so as to allow the hatchways to be partly opened and fresh air admitted some men fainted.

As soon as practicable the dead horses were drawn out of the hold and thrown overboard. But it was a very difficult undertaking to set the other poor fallen and frightened animals again on their legs, during the continued rolling of the vessel. Other ships also threw their dead horses, the most crowded had, consequently, more casualties. There were very many detachments of Dragoons embarked in the fleet, particularly of the Oxford Blues, who lost a very many of their fine black horses. The sea presented a melancholy scene, covered with floating carcases as far as we could see. Our rigging stood well, but some vessels were greatly shattered, and some two or three were obliged to run before the gale, and returned to Plymouth.

Our convoy scudded about in all directions to collect their scattered charge. We maintained our central position. About 3pm Vander descried a suspicious square rigged ship close in shore hugging the wind under easy sail, for we had crossed the bight of the Bay of Biscay, and could discern the Spanish coast. Our Master pronounced the stranger to be an American Man-of-War. This unwelcome intelligence induced us to go down and muster our men between decks, as well as we could, and make them look to, and prepare their arms and ammunition, in case of an attack during the night.

When we returned on deck our Commodore had the signal flying “Look to the strange sail at Windward.” And away went the Brig of War, our Columbine, dashing and splashing in most gallant style through the lofty billows which seemed all to combine to oppose her progress. We watched her with a lively interest, as long as the daylight lasted, then returned to our cabins, and having made as good a meal as the rolling of the vessel would allow, we laid down, sword in hand, prepared for any alarm. Having however, to make up for lost sleep the night before, we soon forgot our cares and anxieties until the morning.’

Three fine horses

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1886
Robert Earl Henri,
artist

‘I claim the honour of being the revolutioniser of some parts of the Academy. It was me that persuaded W[hipple] to open the Library - was one of the agitators of the sketch class - of the opening to the Antique [class] of the modeling room, and now of the getting of a cast for the modeling room.’

Make the draperies move

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1929
Hamlin Garland,
writer

‘[Hoover] looked ill, weary and worried. [. . .] I contrasted him with Roosevelt who never allowed work or worry to interfere with his resilient joy in a dinner.’

Cowboys and indians

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1938
Seán Lester,
diplomat

‘Following the assassination of a Secretary at the German Embassy in Paris by a frenzied Polish-Jewish youth of 17, whose parents had been maltreated, the Nazis launched a pogrom, burning synagogues and destroying houses and shops and imprisoning thousands of poor wretches. Then a fine of 1,000,000,000 marks as a levy on what is left of Jewish property, compulsory restoration of property destroyed, prior to turning it over to Aryans, expulsion from all retail trades, etc, etc. The world has been aghast - horrified once more by the monster. And one looks to see Chamberlain’s difficulties in a policy of appeasement still further increased.’

Seán Lester and the League

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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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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.