And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

25 September

1760
Jeffrey Amherst,
soldier

‘Our Battery continued firing with good Success. Col Williamson began to fear his ammunition would fall short, as he has such a quantity on board the Onondaga. I therefore consulted with Lt Sinclair & the Seamen the best method of getting it out by night which was fixed on. In the Afternoon Mons Pouchot put a stop to our Preparations by Beating a Parley and sending me a Letter which I immediately answered & sent him terms of Capitulation by Capt Prescott for him to sign & send back to me, which he did. I ordered Lt Col Massey with three Companys of Grenadiers to take Possession of the Fort [Fort Levis on Isle Royale], the Garrison being Prisoners of War. I did not permit an Indian to go in. The Garrison that remained consisted of 291 including Officers. 12 men were killed with a Lt of Artillery & 35 were wounded.

Their Artillery consisted of twelve 12-Prs, two 8-Prs, thirteen 4-Prs, four 1 Pr & four Brass 6 Prs, besides several Guns with Trunions broke off, small Arms, and a great quantity of Powder & ball & provisions.’

Canada for the British

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1869
William Henry Jackson,
photographer

‘Decided to spend the day photographing, Saddled pony and started for the mountain taking camera and plate changing box with a dozen plates and during the forenoon made eight exposures, all on rock subjects. In passing the plate box from one to another in coming down over the rocks it slipped out of hand and in falling was damaged so that it would not work. This put an end of picture making for the time being and we all went back to camp and spent the afternoon fishing. Just before sunset, however, I repaired the plate holder and exposed the remaining plates on fish subjects.’

Set up the box

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1913
Heinrich Schenker,
composer

‘A day of madness: just when I am supposed to go see Mama, the piano tuner appears, Mr. Wolfram gets in my way, the Court Library must be visited as well as the historical exhibition. In the Court Library there are only very few Beethoven autographs to be found, and there I also learn from officials that the Artaria collection went to the Berlin library because the consent to purchase it, in accordance with typical Austrian behavior, arrived believe it or not four hours too late!!! In the historical exhibition, we see quite wonderful pieces of the Rainer papyrus collection, valuable individual documents of Xenophon, and so on.

In the afternoon, at Hertzka ’s. A run-of-the-mill idiot! He again speaks loudly only of his sacrifices and only quietly of my accommodation - speaks loudly about the [costs of] advertising [my work] but is happy to ignore my counter-reckoning - inquires about Weisse as if he wished to publish his work, but immediately curtails his devotion by pretending to await a later opus - inquires again about my works, would like to have some of them, would gladly like to see the Little Library; and since I constantly let him feel that he is, however, too miserly for such business, he replies by saying that he would be prepared, as proof of his not being miserly, to put down 50 Kronen for any well-intended gesture!! And national treasures find their way into hands such as these! I kept him in the dark with regard to Peters, and he is, for the time being, also satisfied with that!! ’

Diaries of a musical theorist

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1915
Hugo Ball,
artist

‘The philosophy with which the generals try to justify their actions is a coarse version of Machiavelli. The peculiar words of the language of government (and unfortunately not only of the language of government) go back to a stale Renaissance ideal: the “right of the stronger,” the “necessity that knows no law,” the “place in the sun,” and other similar terms. Machiavellianism, however, has ruined itself. The Machiavellians are being called by their true name; the articles of the law are being remembered and used against them. Machiavellian wars in old Europe no longer succeed.

There is, in spite of everything, a folk morality. Frederick II’s saying “When princes want war, they begin one and call in a diligent lawyer who proves that it is right and just” is being rejected. How might a man feel, how must he live, when he feels he belongs, and when he seems disastrously willing to apply all kinds of adventure, all con- fusion of problems and offenses to his own unique constitution? How could a person assert himself if he is someone whose fantastic Ego seems to be created only to receive and suffer the scandal, the opposition, the rebellion of all these released forces? If language really makes us kings of our nation, then without doubt it is we, the poets and thinkers, who are to blame for this blood bath and who have to atone for it.’

A wish or a curse

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1917
Nicholas II,
emperor

‘It was nice weather, 14 degrees above frost in the shade. During our walk the Commissar, his foul assistant commissar. Ensign Nikolsky, and three sentries searched our house looking for wine. Not finding any, they came out in half an hour and left. After tea we began to move our things which had arrived from Tsarskoe Selo.’

Hope remains above all

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1947
Arthur Crew Inman,
poet and recluse

‘Could I quite surrender to the idea that some historical and psychological value attaches itself to my efforts and believe accordingly that they were absolutely vain and trifling, I could at least be more at peace with myself, consider each entry a pleasurable venture in idle scribbling only. But I can’t, and for the simple reason that, when I come across a record such as this, I’m enraptured by it. The New York Times Book Section of week before last carries a front-page review of the journals of André Gide. I must read them. “My mind is becoming voluptuously impious and pagan. I must stress this tendency.” Did famous persons march across my pages, their merit might be differently weighed. Well, they don’t. Only nonillustrious persons of no consequence artistically or historically. Myself, I detest reading about the famous in memoirs and journals. Is that sour grapes?’

Consuming concentration

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1975
Michael Palin,
comedian and writer

‘I spent the lunch hour in a recording studio doing three voice-overs for Sanderson Wallpaper. I really did it because I wanted to keep my hand in and a voice-over, however dull or badly written it may be, at least requires a bit of application and a little bit of performing. It’s good practice. By the same token I’ve accepted an offer to appear as the guest on two editions of Just a Minute, a Radio 4 quiz game, next week.

Down to Regents Park for a Python meeting.

Eric was very positive and I could scarcely believe that it was the same Eric who had berated us all for turning Python into a money-obsessed, capitalist waste of time in this same room in February last year. Eric’s moods should really be ignored, but it’s impossible because he nearly always has a big effect on any meeting. Today it was nice, kind, helpful, constructive Eric.

John had just returned from three days in Biarritz. He was the same as ever, unable to resist a vindictive dig at T Gilliam (on the usual lines of us ‘carrying the animator’ for three years). This didn’t find much support amongst the gathering and squashed TG more than John intended.

Terry J had had a lunch with Michael White, who felt it would be suicidal for us not to make another film this year. Anne said that most ‘advice’ tended this way.’

Cleese, also in a bikini

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1999
Alastair Campbell,
journalist and political aide

‘I went into the office first thing, then up to see TB. He was now sure. Cherie was pregnant. They worked out it happened at Balmoral. A royal baby!. He said he felt a mix of pleasure and horror. Thank God I’m a Christian, he said. It allows me to assume there must be a reason. We discussed it on the train. At the moment, TB, CB, Fiona and I were the only people who knew, and I was winding them up as to how much money we could make by tipping off the press.’

Call me Cherie

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Notes and Cautions
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.

For any other use of these diary extracts other than browsing please refer to the original sources.

Any author, publisher or other copyright holder who takes the view that I am unacceptably breaching their copyright please let me know. I have tried to remain sensitive to copyright rules (using far fewer quotes, for example, when a book, by an author still alive, remains in print and popular), but it is not practical for me to seek authorisation for every quote and article, since I maintain these websites without any funding or advertis-ing. I take the view that publicity for the source books is a quid pro quo for my use of the extracts, but I am more than happy to remove the extracts if asked.

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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

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, usually several every week. The blog has been publishing for over five years, and is the secondary source for the diary extracts in this online anthology.