And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

7 November

1861
John Milton Hay,
politician

‘I talked tonight with the President about opening of the cotton trade by our sea-side excursionists. I represented the interest felt by Northern spinners who want it still blockaded. He doubted their statement that they had a large supply on hand whose price would be reduced by opening the trade and seemed to think that we equally with France and England would gain by it. He said it was an object to show the world we were fair in this matter favouring outsiders as much as ourselves. That it was by no means sure that they would bring their cotton to the port after we opened it. But it would be well to show Europe that it was secession that distressed them and not we. That the chief difficulty was in discovering how far the planters who bring us their cotton can be trusted with the money they receive for it.

I went in strong for the opening of the ports, I don’t know why, using all the arguments I could think of, and rather gained the idea that he also slanted in that direction.’

The witty, dapper Mr. Hay

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1910
Sophia Tolstoy,
wife of writer

‘At 6 o’clock in the morning Lev Nikol. died. I was allowed in only as he drew his last breath. They wouldn’t let me take leave of my husband. Cruel people.’

He was my diary

**************************************************************************************

1954
Noel Coward,
writer and performer

‘On Monday I appeared at the Royal Command Performance at the Palladium. It was a glittering occasion, crammed with stars, all shaking aspens. The moment I arrived in the dressing-room and found Bob Hope tight-lipped, Jack Buchanan quivering and Norman Wisdom sweating, I realized that the audience was vile, as it usually is on such regal nights. In the entr’acte Cole and Charles came round from the front and said it was the worst they had ever encountered and that I was to be prepared for a fate worse than death. This was exactly what I needed and so I bounded on to the stage like a bullet from a gun, sang ‘Uncle Harry’, ‘Mad Dogs” and ‘Bad Times’ very, very fast indeed and got the whole house cheering! I was on and off in nine and a half minutes. The next day the papers announced, with unexpected generosity, that I was the hit of the show. This was actually true but it wouldn’t have been if I had stayed on two minutes longer. Bob Hope had them where he wanted them, and then went on and on and lost them entirely. [. . .] After the show we lined up and were presented to the Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Margaret. The Queen looked luminously lovely and was wearing the largest sapphires I have ever seen. She was very charming, everyone was very charming, and that was that.’

A glittering occasion

**************************************************************************************

1956
David Ben-Gurion,
politician

‘An act of the Devil - I fell sick and was bedridden following the Government approval of my plan, a day before actions in Sinai began. I had an attack of high fever and weakness and even yesterday, Prof. S[hlomo]. Zondak forbade me to go up to Jerusalem to the Knesset. But I could no longer take his advice, since the Knesset had been put off from Monday till today. At eleven o’clock this morning I gave my report of the military actions of the biggest campaign in the history of our people - the campaign to conquer the Sinai Peninsula (including the Gaza Strip). (I could not give an account of the political background of the military operation.)

In bed in Tel-Aviv, I was in constant touch with military head-quarters on the one hand, and with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, on the other. I wasn’t sure whether Eden would keep his part of the arrangement. And though he was twelve hours late - in turning [with the ultimatum] to Egypt as well as in the start of the bombings. I was anxious with fright that Tel-Aviv and the other airports might be bombed - the partners did keep most of their commitments. On two occasions Eisenhower poured out his anger at us - twice before the start of the operation (during mobilization) and twice following our commencing the operation. But by the time we managed to explain to him the reasons for our actions he was informed that the English and the French were also taking action, and in his broadcast to the nation that night - October 31 - he was more moderate towards us.

In the beginning the entire affair seemed like a dream, then a fable and in the end like a night of wonders.

The dispatch with which [Nikolai] Bulganin honored me - if his name hadn’t been signed on it I could have thought it had been written by Hitler. There’s not much difference between these hangmen. It worries me because Soviet arms arc flowing into Syria and we must presume that the arms arc accompanied by ‘Volunteers’.’

We must not budge

**************************************************************************************

1964
John Fowles,
writer

‘The Magus. First complete draft finished.’

Nature of the diarist

**************************************************************************************

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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.