And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

27 October

William Laud,

‘Tuesday, Simon and Jude’s eve, I went into my upper study, to see some manuscripts, which I was sending to Oxford. In that study hung my picture, taken by the life. And coming in, I found it fallen down upon the face, and lying on the floor. The string being broken, by which it was hanged against the wall. I am almost every day threatened with my ruin in Parliament. God grant this be no omen.’

My picture fallen


Marianne Fortescue,

‘Gloucester. We left Kidderminster early this morn’g. It was very foggy but grew very fine before we got to Worcester. We were very much entertain’d walking about & looking at the china manufacture which is amazingly curious. We saw all the different processes & were much delighted with it - and the town is a very nice one. We saw some of the most beautifull china I ever beheld, one dinner sett came to 900 gs. We went into the Town Hall which is a great old building with pictures of kings & queens. We pass’d three hours in seeing all that & eating breakfast. We left that at half past one & drove to Tukesbury in a very short time. It seem’d a large town but made no delay there and only changed horses & came on here. There is an exceeding curious looking old church which we perceived out of the bed room window. We are to sleep here & have dined, we had stew’d lampreys, stakes & chops, the first mention’d dish has made me very sick.’

The Fortescues go to Bath


John Everett Millais,

‘Dry day. Rose later than the others, and had breakfast by myself. Painted on the wall, but not so well; felt uncomfortable all day. . .’

At work on Ophelia


George Whitwell Parsons,
lawyer and banker

‘Snow this morning. Windy and extremely cold and disagreeable. Wendt, Heyne and I started this AM for Tombstone and Ray went with us over the mountains to where a wagon was which H & W had, driving the burro before him loaded down with samples from different mines. Very disagreeable ride till we harnessed and drove out of the cold mountains into the sunshine on the Mesa beyond. I led Haynes horse and read of one of the Strallus’ long European letters given me this morning by Capt Hanson who arrived at last, much the worse for his 3 weeks absence. It seems almost as though the Capt was gone in. I hope he has not yet lost his grip.

At Charleston we dined by invitation of H and reached Tombstone about 5 o’clock. Much excitement in town and people apprehensive and scary. A bad time yesterday when Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp with Doc Holliday had a street fight with the two McLowerys and Bill Clanton and Ike, all but the latter being killed and W and M Earp wounded [in fact it was Virgil wounded not Wyatt]. Desperate men and desperate encounter.

Bad blood has been brewing some time and I was not suprised at the outbreak. It is only a wonder it has not happened before. A raid is feared upon the town by the Cowboys and measures have been taken to protect life and property. The ‘Stranglers’ were out in force and showed sand. My cowboy appearance and attire was not in keeping with the exited mind. Loud talking or talking in groups was tho’t out of place. Had to laugh at some of the nervousness. It has been a bad scare and the worst is not yet over some think.’

Gunfight at OK Corral


Hubert Parry,

‘I played in the match First Six v. house in which we, the house, got well smacked in the most disgraceful way by the most abominable cheating mostly. All the six but Sturges, Thompson and Hamilton got in a most preposterous rage, and swore and shinned and Ady ma. sulked and played the football well, but the fool better, and made an ass of himself altogether.’

Finished my first song


Florence Farmborough,

‘I was still dressing when the father returned. Outside in the street a little group of mourners stood; two were carrying an empty coffin; another was holding a discoloured banner. There was no priest. They took the boy’s body, which we had wrapped in a sheet, and laid it in the coffin. The father came hastily toward me, bowed low and kissed my hand. I do not know whether he saw the tears in my eyes. As they moved away, they began to sing a dirge-like chant.

In the evening, we were told that all the Red Cross Otryads of the Zemski Soyuz would be disbanded, with three exceptions: the 1st, 5th and 10th. So we, the 10th, would, thank God, remain!’

Guilty of murder


Reader Bullard,

‘The three maids report that all their clothes are falling to pieces and have put in an enormous list of things they want - at least enormous for this place where material is so short. There is not a yard of any material to be had.

Soermus, the Soviet violinist who visits England and combines his concerts with propaganda, is in some difficulty with his passport. Under the latest regulations, when a Soviet citizen returns from abroad his passport is taken from him, and if he wants to go abroad again he must apply for a new passport, and before it is granted he has to pass first a chistka, or purge, to find out exactly where the applicant has been and what he has done, and then an examination by a trio of communists. Mrs Soermus says her husband lives with his head in a musical cloud and notices nothing.

Woodhead has returned from another visit to the paper-mill. Two OGPU men who travelled part of the way with him had chickens and all sorts of things in their luggage. ‘The new bourgeoisie!’ one of them said to Woodhead. The mill, which ought to have begun operating two years ago, began in September and is making five tons of paper a day instead of forty-five tons. Woodhead attended an eight-hour meeting of about thirty men, only two of whom were engineers, the others were ‘Red’ directors, workmen etc. Woodhead refused to take any part in the discussion, which he described as worthless. To engage in the discussion would have been to admit that all these untrained people had a right to give an opinion on highly technical questions.’

Inside Stalin’s Russia


Evelyn Shuckburgh,

‘We learned from No. 10 this morning that Mr Eden was the Prime Minister’s appointment for Foreign Secretary and, although the King’s approval had not yet been obtained, I got in touch with his secretary, Mrs Maltby, at 4 Chesterfield Street and offered my services. He at once invited me to join Sir William Strang and Jim Bowker at lunch with him. He also said that he would like to come into the Foreign Office after the Council (postponed till 3 p.m.) and hoped Mr Morrison would agree to this. We did not wake the latter up until 12.15 but he of course agreed, and it was arranged that he would come and see the new Secretary of State on Monday.

When Strang, Bowker and I arrived at 4 Chesterfield Street, we found Eden having a heated telephone conversation about whether or not he was to be described as Deputy Prime Minister in the forthcoming announcement of the new Government. We thought he was talking to Winston. He was protesting strongly that he had been promised this title, that Attlee had had it during the war and Morrison in the recent Government and he did not see why he should not have it, and that it would give him the authority he needed over his colleagues. He did not seem to be getting very far and eventually said he was thoroughly unsatisfied with the situation. There was a pause and Winston came to the ’phone. At once he agreed and there was a great deal of ‘thank you, dear’. Eden then told us that it had been Norman Brook (Secretary to the Cabinet) and the King’s Private 

Secretary (Lascelles) who had been arguing against the appointment. They had alleged that it was an infringement of the King’s prerogative that a man should be named Deputy Prime Minister; the King was free to choose whoever he liked to succeed a PM. William Strang told Eden he thought he was perfectly justified in insisting.’

Disconsolate on the pavement

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

Harold Macmillan,

‘. . . Attlee went to the King as soon as we topped 313 members of the new House! This seems rather strange. How relieved he must be. So Churchill must have kissed hands at about 6pm last night to form his third administration . . .

The process of Cabinet making, always difficult, seems to have begun. According to the 6 o’clock news the following ministers have been appointed. P.M. First Lord and Minister of Defence - Churchill; Foreign Secretary and Leader of Commons - Eden; Ld President - (with control of Food and Agriculture) - Woolton; Ld Privy Seal and Leader of Lords - Salisbury; Home Secretary - Maxwell Fyfe; Minister of Labour - Sir W Monckton; Dominions Secretary - Ld Ismay; Chancellor of the Exchequer - O Lyttelton. These ministers were sworn in tonight.

This seems an extraordinarily maladroit move - I should say the combined effort of Bracken and Beaverbrook. It is just folly for Churchill to become Minister of Defence. It almost justifies the Daily Mirror! He should have been Prime Minister only, thus showing that he is as interested in economic and social affairs, as in military matters. This is a major blunder and may have most serious results. It might even endanger the ministry, because I think a difficult by-election after this gaffe cd easily be lost. It is also surprising that Eden shd demand to lead the House as well as take the Foreign Office. It is obvious that this cannot be an effective management. There was a hint by the ‘Parliamentary commentator’ that a deputy leader may be appointed. Lyttelton’s appointment is odd, and will (I fear) be a disappointment to him. He had worked hard to fit himself for economic and trade affairs. Fyfe’s appointment is a good one. He will be a better Home Secretary than Minister of Labour. His speeches and writings thoroughly frightened the unions, and in spite of Churchill’s denials during the campaign, made them alarmed and caused them to rally their forces. He will be a good Home Secretary. It seems he is also to be Minister for Wales. This means, I suppose, that Clem Davies has refused to come in. I have heard nothing, as I have stayed in Sussex all day resting. Monckton’s appointment is unexpected, but good. He has a more subtle and a more flexible mind than Fyfe. He shd do very well. Ld Ismay’s appointment as Minister of Defence was generally expected and was explicable. His appointment as Dominions Secretary is unexpected and inexplicable. [. . .]’

We are in, easily


Iris Murdoch,

‘The instinct to keep a diary: to preserve certain moments for ever.’

On Magpies, on!


Alastair Campbell,
journalist and political aide

‘CHOGM [Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, in Edinburgh] finished on time, TB telling us how brilliantly he had chaired it. TB was regaling us with a few stories from the receptions. One of the African leaders pinching Cherie’s bum and asking her who she was, then him jumping a mile when she said she was Tony’s wife. Mandela being difficult on a couple of issues and TB saying to him ‘You are so revered you can come out with any old nonsense and nobody is allowed to say it’s nonsense,’ Mandela laughing.’

Call me Cherie


Tomaž Humar,

‘I spend the entire day inside the ice hole to acclimatize more - I do not want to take any risk of edema. The wind is really strong reaching speeds greater than 100 km/h.’

Inside the ice hole


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And so made significant . . .
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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.

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The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.