And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

12 September

1798
Thomas Green,
lawyer

‘Dipped into Bacon’s Essays; so pregnant with just, original, and striking observations on every topic which is touched, that I cannot select what pleases me most. For reach of thought, variety and extent of view, sheer solid and powerful sense, and admirable sagacity, what works of man can be placed in competition with these wonderful effusions.’

Dipped into Bacon’s essays

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1883
Wilfrid Scawen Blunt,
writer and diplomat

‘Left home by the 10 o’clock train, and spent the day in London. A letter had come from Eddy Hamilton by the morning’s post asking to see me before I went abroad, and I went to Downing Street at one o’clock, Mr Gladstone is away yachting, and Eddy is acting Prime Minister, and a very great man. I had not been to Downing Street since last year - just upon a year ago - when I went to ask for Arabi’s life. Eddy was extremely amiable this time, and asked me what I was going to do in the East. I told him my plans exactly - that I was going first to Egypt, and should call on Baring and, if I found him favourably disposed, should propose to him a restoration of the National Party, but if he would not listen I should go on to Ceylon and India; that I could not do anything in Egypt without Baring’s countenance, for the people would not dare to come to speak to me; but, if Baring would help, I thought I could get the Nationalist leaders elected at the elections - all depended on the action of our officials.

Also as to India - that I had no intention of exciting to rebellion; that I should go first to Lord Ripon, then to Lyall, and afterwards to the provinces; that the subjects I wished principally to study were the financial condition of the country, that is to say, to find out whether our administration was really ruining India, and to ascertain the views of the natives with regard to Home Rule. Of both these plans Eddy seemed to approve, said that Baring would be sure to wish to see me, and listen to all I had to say, and, though he did not commit himself to anything very definite about the rest, did not disapprove. With regard to India, he said he would write to Primrose, Lord Ripon’s private secretary, to show me all attention; so on the whole I am highly satisfied with my visit.

I had some talk with Eddy about Randolph Churchill. He said that my connection with him in Egyptian affairs did me harm, but I don’t believe that, and I look upon Churchill as quite as serious a politician as the rest with whom I have had to deal. On Egypt I think he is sincere, because he has an American wife, and the Americans have always sympathized with freedom there. I believe, too, that he is at a turning point in his character, and means to have done with mere random fighting, and we both agreed that he has a career before him. For my own part I like Churchill. He does not affect any high principles, but he acts squarely.’

Seventy wax matches

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1885
James Hannington,
priest

‘Flies and mosquitos swarmed, and so did Masai. As soon as ever the sun showed, a fresh and powerful band of warriors came at once and demanded hongo. A very covetous and wicked-looking old medicine-man came with them. After some delay we settled their claims, but, before doing so, a fresh band had arrived, and far more insolent; and then a third; and then a fourth; and now the elders began to be even more troublesome than the rest; at length matters reached a pitch, and the women were ordered from camp, and fighting seemed imminent. Jones and I rushed hither and thither, and got matters straight again somehow, but I was nearly torn to pieces by the warriors pulling my hair and beard, examining my boots, toes, etc.; at last, nearly demented, I went to hide myself from them amid the trees. After three ineffectual attempts I at last succeeded, when Jones, who knew where I was, came rushing to call me. The warriors were attacking the loads. I dashed back and found them in a most dangerous mood, and backed by the elders, who were worse than all. By dint of the keenest policy I amused the warriors while Jones gave presents to the elders. Then a fresh and yet more exacting band of warriors arrived, and had to be satisfied. How often I looked at the sun! It stood still in the heavens, nor would go down. I agonised in prayer, and each time trouble seemed to be averted; and, after all, we came out of it far better than could be expected, and really paid very little - not two loads altogether, and bought six goats to boot. About sunset things grew quiet, so I went out and bagged three geese. All the men, elders, Jones, and myself agree that we must try and escape tomorrow.’

The bishop in Buganda

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1900
Natsume Soseki,
writer

‘When waking from a dream, I am far away from my familiar mountains. The vast and limitless ocean surrounds me.’

A giant of Japanese literature

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1916
Robert Lindsay Mackay,
soldier

‘Ordered up to the 11th. Service Battalion Argylls - the one to which I most of all wanted to go. Train due to leave at 2 p.m. Left punctually at 4.30 p.m., which is not bad for a French train. Reached Albert on the Somme Front about 6.30 p.m. on the 13th. - a distance of some 70 - 80 miles in 28 hours - not bad going for a French train either! Albert is where the battle now going on began, so I hope to see something decent. Reported to the Details Orderly Room of the 11th. Bn. who heard next day that we were coming. Went along to a park after tea to see our latest form of frightfulness about which mystery hangs, namely, the tanks. They have not been used against the enemy yet. Heyworth (who joined with me) and I then went along to the Divisional Reinforcement Camp at Mericourt.’

A bath in Albert

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1946
Henry Agard Wallace,
politician

‘At the meeting with the President I went over page by page with him my Madison Square Garden speech to be given on September 12. Again and again he said, “That’s right”; “Yes, that is what I believe.” He didn’t have a single change to suggest. He twice said how deeply he appreciated my courtesy in showing him my speech before I gave it.

The President said that Secretary Byrnes’ speech of September 6 had been cleared with him over the telephone and then it had been sent back to Washington for minor checking. He said also that he thought it must be a pretty good speech because neither the British, the French, nor the Russians liked it.

The President apparently saw no inconsistency between my speech and what Byrnes was doing - if he did he didn’t indicate it in any way. He spoke very hopefully about the future, saying that he thought the situation between the United States and Russia was much more peaceful than the newspapers would have us believe. He said the dark cloud on the horizon was the state of Stalin’s heath; that Stalin was now an old man. He said also it was almost impossible to do business with Molotov . . .’

The 33rd vice president

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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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