And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

28 September

Jacob Bee,

‘. . . Sofly, sone to Richard Sofly, was borne, being Thursday: and Elizabeth Dobinson was her midwife and the first that ever she [had] laid.’

Very fiery comets


Roger Boyle,
soldier and politician

‘So to dinner, and after dinner by coach to White Hall, thinking to have met at a Committee of Tangier, but nobody being there but my Lord Rutherford, he would needs carry me and another Scotch Lord to a play, and so we saw, coming late, part of The Generall, my Lord Orrery’s (Broghill) second play; but, Lord! to see how no more either in words, sense, or design, it is to his Harry the 5th is not imaginable, and so poorly acted, though in finer clothes, is strange. And here I must confess breach of a vowe in appearance, but I not desiring it, but against my will, and my oathe being to go neither at my own charge nor at another’s, as I had done by becoming liable to give them another, as I am to Sir W Pen and Mr Creed; but here I neither know which of them paid for me, nor, if I did, am I obliged ever to return the like, or did it by desire or with any willingness. So that with a safe conscience I do think my oathe is not broke and judge God Almighty will not think it other wise.’

Height and raptures


Augusta, duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

‘A false rumour last night that a French Cavalry Brigade was approaching, caused great distress in the town and deprived us of sleep. It was “much ado about nothing.” But I wonder if these disturbers of the peace may not some day unexpectedly descend on us?’

Amply rewarded


Harman Blennerhassett,
lawyer and aristocrat

‘I had, this morning, a long double letter from my adored wife. Its red seal was as welcome to my eyes as the evening star to the mariner after the agitation of a storm. For I had, last week, suffered no small anxiety from the want of a letter. But the seal, notwithstanding its color, and every curve and turn of the letters in the superscription, had long passed under jealous inspection, to undergo every scrutiny from which I could augur the import of the intelligence within, before I would venture to break it open. But I was assured by the seal there was no mortality, at least on the 25th ult., as by the postmark. I trust, then, the heartfelt offerings of thanksgiving I tried to breathe forth to Heaven were borne to Almighty God, before I consulted the contents of the letter. There I soon saw how industriously my beloved continued to practice the only fraud her pure soul is capable of conceiving - that of endeavoring to hide from me all she feels for me, and has suffered for our dear boys. Her complaint in her chest is mentioned in a way to alarm me, through, the vail of disguise she has attempted to throw over it. But the weekly reports she will not fail to see of the criminal proceedings here, will, I trust, lighten much of the anxiety she labors under, which, I know, so much aggravates the affection in her breast. I next find my boys have, both of them, had fevers; and my dear Harman, who has suffered most, was perhaps at the height of his disease, about the period when I last dreame’d I had lost him. [. . .]

The Court does not sit to-day, on account of Burr’s illness. I find he is much worse than yesterday. He says he will take my medicine to-night, and has rejected bleeding, proposed to him by McClung, in which I fully agreed with him that he should not part with his blood, even at a Joe a drop. I called upon De Pestre, this morning, at Mr. Chevalier’s, where Mr. C. kindly pressed me to dine en famille, which I declined, through a desire to write at home and attend a private quartette-party at the Harmonic Society’s room this evening. The invitation of Chevalier was given in the most friendly manner, with a reprobation of the restriction imposed on the hospitable dispositions of the families of this town by the effects of a system of espionage, which is kept up by Government and its agents to a degree that has generally prevented those attentions we should otherwise receive. This must be the case, as I have not received a visit from any family-man, much less an invitation, since my release from imprisonment, though Mr. Pickett, who lives in the first style here, informed my landlord, Walton, the other day, he means to invite me to his house. So that etiquette seems also to be totally disregarded; and, no doubt, here, as in other countries, a want of better breeding is received by strangers as a proof of inhospitality not merited.’

Breaking with Burr


James Robert Hope-Scott,

‘Monday morning. St. Sebald’s bells going at 7 o’clock. Asked Hausknecht, wlio said there was a service, including sermon, every morning in the week at one or other of the Lutheran churches. Scantily attended, he said, otherwise on Sunday mornings.

Note. No Jews may live in Nürnberg. Fürth their residence.

A funeral procession passed the window (Protestant I conclude). Women with baskets of flowers preceded the corpse, which was carried under a pall of black, with a large white cross. Carriages followed. We were told that flowers were used for all ages, but the colours vary for old and young; the former, if very old, quite white; the latter, if in youth, having more bright colours than in middle age. ‘Spargere flores ’ is their purpose, as the relations take and strew them in the grave.’

Comparing church services


John Reith,
businessman and politician

‘The first issue of the Radio Times appeared and was sold out.’

Reith on Hitler, Churchill


Charles Ritchie,

‘We are now on the very edge of war. Already my feelings have changed since I last wrote. Perhaps I am already beginning to suffer from war blindness. I feel more and more part of my generation and my country and less an individual.

The war offers us no ideal worth dying for - we make no sacrifice for a noble cause. We fight with no faith in the future. It is too late to pretend (though we shall pretend) that we are defending the sanctity of international obligations or the freedom of individuals. We are fighting because we cannot go on any longer paying blackmail to a gangster. Whoever wins, we who belong to what we call “twentieth century civilization” are beaten before we start. We have had our chance since 1918 to make a more reasonable and safer world. Now we have to go and take our punishment for having missed that chance. We have willed the ends but we have not willed the means to attain those ends. That must be our epitaph.

Here in America it is “business as usual.” Tonight I have been listening to the radio for hours. It reflects the stream of normal American existence, the advertising, the baseball games, the swing music, but every few moments this stream is interrupted by a press bulletin from Europe. More mobilizations. Hitler may march before morning. These warnings from another world give Americans shivers down their spine, make them draw the curtains closer and huddle around their own fireside thanking God that they are safe from the storm outside.’

V happy with E


Wilhelm Reich,

‘One illusion numbers among the prerequisites of all achievement: the lofty feeling of succeeding someday. I am aware, however, that it lies in the nature of all development to turn against itself.

This is a law of nature; it belongs to the knowledge of functional biophysics! According to this, when sex economy spreads, as Marxism, psychoanalysis, and Christianity did, it will be a living corpse. It is not human malice but rather biological degeneration which causes the destruction. Unarmored plasma repeatedly attempts to raise itself to the stature of cosmic functioning by making discoveries, striving “ahead.” It’s as powerless as a drop of water on a sea of fire. We don’t even know what “consciousness” is. Thus we always sink back into lifelessness after our mighty efforts.

Only one thing could suspend this law: a gigantic discovery transcending the cosmic, natural law, like the disclosure of how consciousness perceives itself. In other words, a discovery which would put the natural law at mankind’s disposal. This will begin with the discovery of the function of self-perception in living plasma. Until then there is no solace.’

The existence of orgonicity


Northrop Frye,

‘Three lectures and busting with shit: went home early this afternoon. Then to Havelock’s for a debating society executive meeting. Eric has taken quite a shine to me evidently & he certainly does work hard at debates. They varied between political and local-scandal subjects, suggesting “should formal parties be suspended?” I said it would be more interesting to say “should formal dresses be suspended?” They came to no conclusions but are planning a group of inter-year debates.’

Buggering around aimlessly


Michael Palin,
comedian and writer

‘No Jabberwocking for me today, but my last day off, apart from Sundays, until late October. Letters, visit Anne Henshaw. She has her head down in the labyrinthine affairs of Python as usual. She reports that the sooner we start writing the Python film the better for some in the group - she says Graham especially seems to be at a loose end and drinking more, with several of his projects, TV series and his film of Bernard McKenna’s script, having collapsed.

Shopping in the King’s Road - have to give brief run-down on Python plans in almost every shop - the assistants all seem to recognise me and want to talk.

To BBC to meet Don Henderson - T Hughes’ selection for the RSM in ‘Across the Andes’. I’m in trepidation for this is a major role and I don’t even know the guy.

Fears allayed - he looks good - with a rather fierce, red face and a good sense of humour. He’s easy company and seems to understand the role well. Still no Dora - as Michele Dotrice turned down the role (the first artist to turn down a Ripping Yarns role this time around!).

Out to dinner in the evening with Robin S-H and Barbara. By a strange stroke of coincidence a Peruvian is present. I tell him about ‘Across the Andes by Frog’ - and to my amazement he tells me that the biggest frogs in the world live in Lake Titicaca, Peru, and that the frog is a common motif in old Peruvian carvings!’

Cleese, also in a bikini


Anthony Barne,

‘It rained heavily again in the night giving Kesselring a chance to recover himself. It means our tanks will be bogged down where they stand for several days I fear. I may even find them where I left them when I escape from here.

Jack White appears in the afternoon. He has worms and feels it is a good chance to be cured. It is gratifying to know I’m missing nothing but this vile weather.

Perhaps jaundice is getting me down but I truly believe we are unlikely to get the war finished this autumn and if that is so then it may well drag into next summer. What a dreary prospect. I must review my plans for the future.’

Pen & Sword diaries


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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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