And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

20 October

1626
François de Bassompierre,
diplomat

‘Tuesday, 20. Viscount Hamelton (Wenbleton) and Goring came to dine with me. After dinner I was heard at the council, and on my return the Venetian ambassador came to visit me.’

Bassompierre in London

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1681
John Reresby,
politician

‘His Majesty went to see a new ship launched at Deptford, in his barge. I waited upon him to the water side, where he seeing me called me into the barge. He that was named to be captain gave the King a great dinner, where his Majesty commanded all the gentlemen to sit down at the same table. He was very serious that day, and seemed more concerned than the greatest business did usually make him.’

The most barbarous murder

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1695
Abraham de la Pryme,
antiquary

‘This [day] examining and talking with several of my oldest parishoners of this town about what was memorable relating thereto, they tell me that this Roman way, of which I have already made mention, is commonly call’d amongst them the High Street way.

This country has been exceeding woody to what it is now, above half of the woods being cut down and sold about forty years ago. Here was formerly very great roberys committed in them, this being the most dangerous place in the whole country, so that people durst scarce travel in companys. In this wood towards Thorholm more, is a low sunken place call’d Gipwell*, which was formerly a mighty deep hole, so thick beset with trees, that it was impossible to see the sun. Here it was that the rogues kept their rendisvouz and carryd all those thither that they rob’d, oftentimes murdering them and casting them therein. Within these twenty years stood a mighty great hollow tree, in which, when it was cut close up by the roots, was found a pair of pot-hooks.

There stood a mighty great famous tree likewise by this way side, which was cut down about thirteen years ago. It was nine yards about, had twenty load of wood in it besides it’s body, and spread at least twenty-five yards each way when it was standing.

There is a good law at Worlebee, a town some few miles off, which every tennant, according to the quantity of land that he takes, is bound to plant yearly so many trees thereon; but, tho’ this law is yet in force amongst them, yet it is a great pitty that it is not so much regarded as formerly.

*There is no such place as Gipwell now. There is a deep black bog on two sides of Thornhohne, and it must, I think, have been some part of this that was formerly a pond or pool; and if they put their victims in, I have no doubt they would soon sink into the bog, and never be heard of again.’

Antiquities and highywaymen

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1871
Francis Turner Palgrave,
civil servant and poet

‘We came to Lyme, and Cis and I went carefully over our little intended purchase, Little Park. It is a pretty little old place, with its many little rooms and pretty garden and lovely views. May it be a true haunt of peace to us and our dear ones! . . . Returned home to a warm welcome from our dear, dear lively little ones.’

Professor of poetry

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1939
Stephen Spender,
poet

‘It must now be three weeks since my weekend at the Woolfs. They live in a very pleasant house at Rodmell near Lewes. [. . .] I arrived in time for tea. After tea, we went out on to the lawn and played a game of bowls. [. . .] Virginia and I walked about the garden talking about writing, which she said she wanted to discuss with other writers. She was pleased that I kept a journal because she said she found it was the only thing she could do, too. She thought that every day an occasion arises in which one sees things in an entirely new and different way, that these moments of transformation are one’s grasp of reality. This is the experience she tries to catch hold of in her journal.’

The ghost of a reader

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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.