And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

7 October

1688
John Evelyn,
writer

‘Dr. Tenison preached at St. Martin’s, on 2 Tim. iii. 16, showing the Scriptures to be our only rule of faith, and its perfection above all traditions. After which, near 1,000 devout persons partook of the Communion. This sermon was chiefly occasioned by a Jesuit, who in the Masshouse on the Sunday before had disparaged the Scripture and railed at our translation, which some present contradicting, they pulled him out of the pulpit, and treated him very coarsely, insomuch that it was like to create a great disturbance in the City.’

Modesty, prudence, piety

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1726
Benjamin Franklin,
politician

‘Last night, about nine o’clock sprung up a fine gale at northeast, which run us in our course at the rate of seven miles an hour all night. We were in hopes of seeing land this morning, but cannot. The water, which we thought was changed, is now as blue as the sky; so that, unless at that time we were running over some unknown shoal, our eyes strangely deceived us. All the reckonings have been out these several days; though the captain says it is his opinion we are yet a hundred leagues from land; for my part I know not what to think of it; we have run all this day at a great rate, and now night is come on we have no soundings. Sure the American continent is not all sunk under water since we left it.’

Founding Father Franklin

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1758
Thomas Turner,
tradesman

‘Oh, how happy must that man be whose more than happy lot it is to whom an agreeable company for life doth fall, - one in whom he sees and enjoys all that this world can give; to whom he can open the inmost recesses of his soul, and receive mutual and pleasing comfort to sooth those anxious and tumultuous thoughts that must arise in the breast of any man in trade! On the contrary, - and I can speak from woful experience - how miserable must they be, where there is nothing else but matrimonial discord and domestic disquietude! How does these thoughts wrack my tumultuous breast, and chill the purple current in my veins! Oh, how are these delusive hopes and prospects of happiness before marriage turned into briers and thorns! But, as happiness is debarred me in this affair, I sincerely wish it to all those that shall ever tye the Gordian knot. Oh woman, ungrateful woman! - thou that wast the last and most compleatest of the creation, and designed by Almighty GOD for a comfort and companion to mankind, to smooth and make even the rough and uneven paths of life, art often, oh too, too often, the very bane and destroyer of our felicity! Thou not only takest away our happy ness, but givest us, in lieu thereof, trouble and vexation of spirit.’

Of briars, thorns and an angel

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1935
Henry (Chips) Channon,
politician

‘Diana Cooper rang early; she had been to the Fort last evening to dine with the Prince of Wales, who was, she said, ‘pretty and engaging’. Mrs Simpson was glittering, and dripped in new jewels and clothes.

I went to Claridges to have tea with the Nicholas’ of Greece who are here for the royal confinement. The Duchess of Kent was there in brown dress and much bejewelled, and rather large but not so large as Honor. Her curls were faultlessly done at the back. She was sweetness itself, but she has not become in the least bit English. We had many pregnancy jokes, and she asked tenderly for Honor, and said it would be ‘so amusing’ if her baby was born first, or on the same day as ours. This unlikely coincidence now seems possible. Hers is due on 16 October, and ours was on 24 September. I adore this family, and loved them when they were down on their luck; now their star is rising, especially since the Kent wedding (these damned, inefficient and all too numerous servants never fill my ink-stand). At one point the Grand-Duchess sent her daughter into the next room to fetch her spectacles and the Duchess went meekly. She has been well brought-up in an old-fashioned affectionate way.

I feel confident that my son will be born before morning.’

Scandal and Chips

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1938
Bertolt Brecht,
writer

‘the fall of Czechoslovakia is remarkable for the way it happened. eg people continue to speak about that country as if it were still the same, and for that reason some of its actions are surprising. people have understood that it has to hand over something to germany, but now it is handing over more, in fact everything as far as everybody is concerned. including the jews and refugees. people forget that this defeat has brought different class forces to the helm, so the state has become a different person in law, one can no longer speak of czechoslovakia. and how did this come about? ‘england’ could not enter into a war which its russian ally would have won. the russian ally could not enter into a war which the russian generals would have won. france could not enter into a war which the popular front would have won. and none of them, naturally, could lose a war.’

The concept of decadence

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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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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

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