And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

21 September

Thomas Hearne,

‘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


John Knox,

‘Last night we were alarmed in our camp, by two shots fired on the swamps to the left of our ground; the guards and pickets turned out, and we stood to our arms until it was clear day-light in the morning; this was occasioned by some of our rangers, who took the advantage of a moon-light night to lie in waiting for wild ducks, which, with most other kinds of wild fowl, are in great plenty here, though not to be got at without risk; the weather to-day is clear, and comfortably warm. The reinforcements of Highlanders, mentioned before to have arrived lately at Halifax, consisted of two new-raised regiments; an unlucky accident lately happened to one of their private men, of which the following are the particulars; a soldier of another regiment, who was a centinel detached from an advanced guard, seeing a man coming out of the wood, with his hair hanging loose, and wrapped up in a dark-coloured plaid, he challenged him repeatedly, and receiving no answer (the weather being hazy) he fired at him and killed him; the guard being alarmed, the Serjeant ran out to know the cause, and the unhappy centinel, strongly prepossessed that it was an Indian, with a blanket about him, who came skulking to take a prisoner, or a scalp, cried out, I have killed an Indian, I have killed an Indian, there he lies, etc. but, upon being undeceived by the Serjeant, who went to take a view of the dead man, and being told he was one of our own men, and a Highlander, he was so oppressed with grief and fright, that he fell ill, and was despaired of for some days. In consequence of this accident, most of these young soldiers, being raw and unexperienced, and very few of them conversant in, or able to talk English (which was particularly his case who was killed) these regiments were ordered to do no more duty for some time; at length some of the inhabitants having crossed over to Dartmouth to cut fire-wood, they were attacked by a party of the enemy, and several were killed and scalped: whereupon a large detachment of these Highlanders were immediately sent to take post, and remain there; which will effectually secure the town on that quarter, and inable the settlers to provide fuel during the approaching winter, without any farther apprehensions. Changeable weather for several days past, though mostly fair.’

Killed and scalped


Maria Nugent,
wife of soldier

‘The accounts from Walcheren very bad, and General N. was off early for Deal, &c. We followed, a large party, in the middle of the day, and all dined at Ramsgate . . . My dear N’s mind more at ease, having to-day completed many arrangements, and given out his orders, for the accommodation and comfort of the poor invalids as they arrive, and the Archbishop of Canterbury is coming to consecrate a burying-ground, to receive those, who, alas ! have no chance of recovery, the fever being of so malignant a nature.’

Walcheren Fever


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


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


Frances Stevenson,

‘Last Saturday was the Chancellor’s great speech on the War, at the Queen’s Hall. There is no doubt that it was a tremendous success, but C. was very depressed after it. He said the audience made him sick - they were far too stodgy and “comfortable” - “you had to talk your way through layers of fat”. He thought the meeting had not been a success, but the newspapers on Sunday put his mind at rest - most enthusiastic. They were loud in their praises this morning. Tory papers loudest of all. He laughed at the exuberance of The Times. “These people become almost sickly,” he remarked, “when one happens to fall in with their ideas.” Many people say it is the finest effort of his career. Masterman on Sunday [20 September] pronounced it “the finest speech in the history of England”.

C.’s colleagues in the Cabinet help to reassure him as to success of speech. The Prime Minister said with tears in his eyes that it was “a wonderful speech”. Sir Edward Grey said he wept when he read the peroration. C. is satisfied, but very tired.’

We had great fun


Irving Wallace,

‘Went over to Mexico at night. A new world! Foreign speech, attractive natives, odd food - God! how can I describe it. Went to a 10c a dance joint, ‘The Pullman,’ where we danced with professional harlots!’

The game of literary cryonics


Joseph Goebbels,

‘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


Alfred Jodl,

‘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


Ferdinand Marcos,

‘Delayed by the hurried visit of Joe Aspiras and Meling Barbero who came from the Northern bloc of congressmen and senators who want to know if there is going to be Martial Law in 48 hours as predicted by Ninoy Aquino.

Of course Imelda and I denied it.’

Purpose into my life


Chris Mullin,

‘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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And so made significant . . .
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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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