And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

15 September

1717
John Thomlinson,
priest

‘Two men endeavoured to ravish a woman. Uncle took notice of it in his sermon, it had no less punishment assigned by our law than death, this startled the audience.’

In search of a rich wife

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1813
Francis Rawdon-Hastings,
politician

‘Went, as soon as it was light, to the fort, in order to inspect the works and to enable myself to judge of the system of exterior fortification proposed for the black town. The drawings had been shown to me the day before by Major-General Trapaud, the chief engineer. Fort St. George is a very respectable fortress, such as ought to sustain a long siege could a regular army sit down before it. Everything was in excellent condition. The water in the tanks, of which there is six months’ supply for 10,000 men, is remarkably transparent and sweet, though it is said to have been in the tanks above thirty years. This resource is necessary, lest an enemy should discover and cut off the pipes by which water is brought to the Port from a considerable distance.

At eleven I received the visit of the Nawab, who came in great state, and dressed out with a profusion of jewels. I met him at the door, and, on his stepping from his carriage, embraced him, according to the etiquette, four times, giving three embraces to each of the three sons and the nephew whom he introduced to me. I led him upstairs, our arms being over each other’s shoulders, while I gave my left arm to the eldest son.’

Meeting lionesses

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1852
Nassau William Senior,
lawyer and economist

‘The Muckross Hotel is ill-situated. The woods of Mr. Herbert’s beautiful place, Muckross Abbey, cut off the view of the lakes. [. . .] We dined with Mr. Herbert. I spoke of the waste state of the greater part of the land between Tarbert and Killarney.

“It is much worse than waste,” said Mr. Herbert. “All that man has done there is mischief. Much of the land which you saw yesterday is good land. Ragweed, indeed, does not flourish on any other. But in order to make it worth cultivating, the first thing to be done is to level the innumerable mounds with which the misdirected industry of its occupiers has intersected it; and the next is to relieve it from the exhaustion to which the alternation of oats and potatoes, and the permanence of weeds, unaccompanied by manure, have reduced it.”

We talked of the squalid appearance of Killarney its ragged half-starved population, and ruinous houses. I said that it reminded me of Fondi or Itri, or the other desolate dilapidated towns between Gaeta and Rome. He thought that I did injustice to Fondi. Wretched as it is, it seemed to him less wretched than Killarney.

“To what,” I said, “do you attribute the peculiar misery of Killarney?”

“I do not think,” answered Mr. Herbert, “that it is peculiarly miserable for an agricultural town in the South of Ireland without trade or manufactures. The deserted houses are the results of death or emigration. The half-starved and quarter-clothed loungers about the streets are attracted thither from the neighbouring country by the hope of casual employment from visitors. What may be called the middle classes - that is, those above the labourers and cottiers - spent the greater part of their little capital during the famine, the successive potato failures have diminished what remained, and the low prices of agricultural produce prevent their recovering their losses.

I will give you a proof of the poverty of this neighbourhood. Kerry and Clare are both bare of wood: the people at Listowel are forced to go fifteen miles off - to Tarbert, or to Tralee - to get even handles for their flails. I was able, therefore, before the famine to sell the thinnings of my woods for rather more than 1,000l a year. Now they do not pay for the cutting.” ’

Senior’s conversations

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1930
Joseph Goebbels,
politician

‘I am shaking with excitement. The first election results. Fantastic. Jubilation everywhere, an incredible success. It’s stunning. The bourgeois parties have been smashed. So far we have 103 seats. That’s a tenfold increase. I would never have expected it. The mood of enthusiasm reminds me of 1914, when war broke out. Things will get pretty hot in the months ahead. The Communists did well, but we are the second-largest party.’

We can conquer the world

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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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