And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

19 October

1714
Mary Clavering Cowper,
courtier

‘We went to my Lord Mayor’s Show, four of us in the Duchess of Shrewsbury’s Coach, and two with the Prince’s Lords in one of the King’s Coaches. We stood at a Quaker’s, over against Bow Church. I thought I should have lost the Use of my Ears with the continual Noise of Huzzas, Music, and Drums; and when we got to the Hall the Crowd was inconceivably great. My poor Lady Humphreys made a sad Figure in her black Velvet, and did make a most violent Bawling to her Page to hold up her Train before the Princess being loath to lose the Privilege of her Mayoralty. But the greatest Jest was that the King and the Princess both had been told that my Lord Mayor had borrowed her for that Day only; so I had much ado to convince them of the Contrary, though he by Marriage is a Sort of Relation of my Lord’s first Wife. At last they did agree that if he had borrowed a Wife, it would have been another Sort of One than she was.

This Day was the Prince’s Birthday. I never saw the Court so splendidly fine. The Evening concluded with a Ball, which the Prince and Princess began. She danced in Slippers [i.e. low-heeled shoes which were not the fashion at the time] very well, and the Prince better than Anybody.’

All sorts of colours

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1856
Wilford Woodruff,
priest

‘President Young said I have got a letter from Elder Hyde. He officiated as clerk in Drummonds Court and wrote things there day after day against God, our religion and the people for a few dimes. He ought to be cut off from the Quorum of the Twelve and the Church. He is no more fit to stand at the head of the Quorum of the Twelve than a dog. His soul is entirely occupied with a few dimes and it is much more in his eyes than God, Heaven, and Eternal Life. He is a stink in my nostrils.’

Oh how weak is man

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1943
James Meade,
economist

‘Spent the morning partly at the Embassy writing notes for our report to ministers on the result of our commercial policy talks, but mainly in sorting papers, arranging money matters, signing declarations about income tax etc. in preparation for our departure. Lunch with Bernstein of the US Treasury, with whom I discussed the prospects of the monetary plans from the point of view of American Congress and public opinion. Bernstein said that they would have the Federal Reserve Board with them and seemed hopeful that they might persuade some of the American bankers that a scheme was essential. Nevertheless he was clearly very impressed by the political opposition which they would have to be prepared to face. I asked him whether he was satisfied with the progress made in the Anglo-American discussions on this subject. He said that he was very satisfied, and that they had never considered that getting agreement with the British would prove any very real obstacle. But he added that he was sorry that tempers had not always been good during the talks. He is still evidently smarting somewhat from Keynes’s ill manners. But he added sweetly that he thought we should not have considered their ideas so sinister as we did, if only they had had a real opportunity to explain the workings of their ideas. (Visions of Bernstein preparing another hundred questions and answers on the Stabilisation Fund!) Went back to the Embassy in the afternoon to work on my notes for our report to ministers on commercial policy. Took Di and Joan Carmichael to supper at the Washington hotel and to the cinema to see Fred Astaire dancing, which is certainly a very pleasing sight.’

UK-US talks on commercial union

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1956
David Ben-Gurion,
politician

‘At eleven, Gilbert, who has just returned from France, came to see me . . . I outlined to him my plan for the Middle East and he agrees with it. In his opinion his government will endeavour to influence Britain to accept my plan, for without England the plan cannot be. In general the plan is: oust Nasser, partition Jordan - [with the] eastern [part] to Iraq - so that it will make peace with Israel thereby enabling the refugees to settle there with the aid of American money. The borders of Lebanon will be reduced and it will become a Christian state. I am not quite clear in regard to what will be done with Syria. Gilbert thinks that [Adib al] Shishakli is the man [to take into consideration] since America trusts him.’

We must not budge

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1968
Thomas Merton,
priest

‘The situation of the tourist becomes ludicrous and impossible in a place like Calcutta. How does one take pictures of these streets with the faces, the eyes, of such people, and the cows roaming among them on the sidewalks and buzzards by the score circling over the main streets in the “best” section? Yet the people are beautiful. But the routine of the beggars is heart-rending. The little girl who suddenly appeared at the window of my taxi, the utterly lovely smile with which she stretched out her hand, and then the extinguishing of the light when she drew it back empty. I had no Indian money yet. She fell away from the taxi as if she were sinking in water and drowning, and I wanted to die. I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Yet when you give money to one, a dozen half kill themselves running after your cab. This morning one little kid hung on to the door and ran whining beside the cab in traffic while the driver turned around and made gestures as if to beat him away. [. . .] Calcutta is shocking because it is all of a sudden a totally different kind of madness, the reverse of that other madness, the mad rationality of affluence and overpopulation. America seems to make sense, and is hung up in its madness, now really exploding. Calcutta has the lucidity of despair, of absolute confusion, of vitality helpless to cope with itself. Yet undefeatable, expanding without and beyond reason but with nowhere to go. [. . .]

A sign in Calcutta: “Are you worried? Refresh yourself with cigars.” ’

Befriending the Dalai Lama

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1969
Mohammed Ayub Khan,
soldier and politician

‘Heard sad news this morning. Poor Nawab of Mamdot had died of heart failure. He was an old diabetic case. He was one of those who was in the vanguard of the struggle for Pakistan and suffered and sacrificed so much for the cause. May God bless his soul. I have sent a message of condolence to his wife and also asked Qasim to represent me at the funeral.

The Turkish ambassador came to deliver a reply from President Sunay and Premier Demirel to my message of congratulations on their recent electoral success. He said please let us know if there is anything we can do, we have a great regard for you and we do not change easily.

Wahiduzzaman is supposed to have told someone that Mujibur Rahmans plans are that on coming to power, he will make East Pakistan secede and declare independence, then negotiate non-aggression pact with India backed by USA and the Soviet Union. At the start, India will soon dominate East Pakistan if not physically occupy it. There are two dominant reasons. She wants East Pakistan’s jute and also the use of her waterways and the railway system for through communication to Nepal and Assam where, apart from requirement of vast trade, she needs these facilities for maintenance of the enormous army India keeps on that front. As to the expectations of American guarantees, it is nothing short of living in a fool’s paradise.’

Diaries of a Pakistan leader

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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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