And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

21 September

1705
Thomas Hearne,
antiquary

‘Last night I was with Mr. Wotton (who writ the Essay on Ancient and Modern Learning) at the tavern, together with Mr. Thwaites, and Mr. Willis. Mr. Wotton is a person of general learning, a great talker and braggadocio, but of little judgement in any one particular science. He told me, he had begun sometime since to translate Graeve’s Rom. Demarius, but had not finished, and could not tell whether he should ever perfect it.

Mr. Wotton told me, Mr. Baker of St. John’s col. Cambridge had writ the history and antiquities of that college; and that he is every ways qualified (being a very industrious and judicious man) to write that hist. and antiq. of that university. He told me also, that he really believed Cambridge to me much later than Oxon.’

Remarks and collections

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1809
George Rose,
civil servant

‘On going to the Office for Trade, Sir Stephen Cotterell told me, there had been in the morning a duel between Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Canning, and that the latter was wounded, not dangerously, in the upper part of the thigh. [. . .]

I then went out to Mr. Canning’s, where I saw Mr. Charles Ellis, who had been his second in the duel, on Mr. Henry Wellesley having declined to go with him, who told me that Lord Yarmouth had brought a letter to Mr. Canning yesterday morning, in which Lord Castlereagh recapitulated all that he had lately learned had passed relative to his removal from the War Department, and resting his ground of complaint principally, and almost exclusively, on the concealment from his Lordship of the whole transaction and everything connected with it till after the expedition to Walcheren was over; concluding with a positive call upon him for the only satisfaction he could receive. In the afternoon, Mr. Ellis went to Lord Yarmouth, and in a conversation of an hour and a half explained all the circumstances that had occurred, to show that the concealment (the only important ground of complaint insisted upon) was not in the remotest degree imputable to Mr. Canning. On a report of which, however, to Lord Castlereagh, the meeting was still insisted upon. Accordingly the parties met this morning. When the parties reached the ground, Mr. Ellis explained a further circumstance, to show that Lord Camden (the near relation of Lord Castlereagh) had undertaken positively to explain to the latter all that was necessary respecting the arrangement connected with the Foreign Department; but it was ineffectual; Lord Yarmouth attending Lord Castlereagh, and Mr. Charles Ellis Mr. Canning. The second of the latter said to the other, that as the principals could not be there to seek each other’s blood, it would be desirable to take the usual distance, to which Lord Yarmouth agreeing, twelve paces were measured; and it was then settled the parties should fire together. On the first fire both escaped. Mr. Ellis then said to Lord Yarmouth he supposed enough had been done, but that it must be as Lord Castlereagh wished, as Mr. Canning came there only to satisfy him. Lord Yarmouth then talked with Lord Castlereagh, and addressing himself to Mr. Ellis said there must be another shot, after which he should leave the ground, as he would not witness any further proceedings. The parties then fired together a second time, and Mr. Canning was wounded in the flesh of the upper part of the thigh, the ball passing through; after which he walked to a cottage near the spot, where Mr. Home, the surgeon, was waiting, having been engaged for that purpose by Mr. Ellis last night - and then went home. . .’

Walcheren fever 2 - the duel

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1840
Edward John Eyre,
explorer and administrator

‘I had been occupied during the greater part of the day in charting, and in the evening was just shouldering my gun to mount guard again, when I was delighted to see Mr. Scott returning with the dray, and the party all safe. They had executed the duty entrusted to them well, and had lost no time in rejoining me; the horses were, however, somewhat fatigued, having come all the way from the range in one day. Being now reinforced, I had no longer occasion to mount guard, and for the first time since the natives had stolen upon me, enjoyed a sound sleep.’

Along the Rocky river

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1943
Joseph Goebbels,
politician

‘I had a very serious clash with Dr. Dietrich and General Jodl about the Salerno news handouts. They both felt badly compromised. They would like, in all the circumstances, to prevent my reporting this questionable matter to the Fuehrer. I can only refrain from doing so, however, if given binding assurances that incidents of this sort won’t be repeated. I have no mind to let my good name be discredited by the journalistic amateurishness of inferior officers.’

The Nuremberg ten

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1999
Chris Mullin,
politician

‘At John Prescott’s office. JP, grim-faced in shirtsleeves, standing near the window. The reason for this morning’s angst is yet more interference by Downing Street in the business of the Department. Speed limits are the subject of today’s intervention.

His black mood is compounded by the fact that he has come to work this morning wearing unmatching shoes. We are permitted a brief giggle at this. Towards the end of the meeting a minion appears with a plastic bag containing an assortment of shoes.

JP has no concept of how to get the best out of people. His idea of conferring is to lie slumped in an armchair and deliver, at breakneck speed, a series of diatribes. Occasionally, he invites brief contributions from one or other of his Ministers, who are arranged around him on easy chairs. Now and then he solicits information from one of the advisers, who sit behind us on upright chairs.

Our main role is to laugh sycophantically at his jokes. This is how it must be at the court of Boris Yeltsin.’

Mullin and leylandii

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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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