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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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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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.