And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

9 September

1609
Henry Hudson,
sailor and explorer

‘The ninth, faire weather. In the morning, two great Canoes came aboord full of men; the one with their Bowes and Arrowes, and the other in shew of buying of knives to betray us; but we perceived their intent. Wee tooke two of them to have kept them, and put red Coates on them, and would not suffer the other to come neere us. So they went on Land, and two other came aboord in a Canoe; we tooke the one and let the other goe; but hee which wee had taken, got up and leapt over-boord. Then wee weighed and went off into the channell of the River, and Anchored there all night.’

A very good harbour

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1657
Ralph Josselin,
priest and farmer

‘After hopes of a dry Sturbridge faire it rained very much, so that the wayes were exceeding heavy and dirtie, Mr H. had some hopes to make 500l. of his hops; the last yeare he made 790l.’

A boisterous yeare

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1810
Benjamin Haydon,
artist

‘I walked to see Wilkie yesterday to Hampstead; as I returned about four o’clock the Sun was on the decline - and all the valley as I looked from Primrose Hill wore the appearance of happiness & Peace. Ladies glittering in white, with their aerial drapery floating to the gentle breeze, children playing in the middle of the fields, and all the meadows were dotted with cows, grazing with their long shadows streamed across the grass engoldened by the setting Sun. Here was a mower intent on his pursuit, with his white shirt and brown arms illumined in brilliancy; there another, resting one hand on his Scythe, and with the other wetting it with tinkling music - some people were lying, others standing - all animate & inanimate nature seemed to enjoy and contribute to this delicious scene, while behind stood the capital of the World, with its hundred spires - and St Paul’s in the midst towering in the silent air with splendid magnificence.’

Thirst after grandeur

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1896
Alfred Dreyfus,
soldier

‘The Commandant of the Islands came yesterday evening. He told me that the recent measure which had been taken, in reference to putting me in irons, was not a punishment, but ‘a measure of precaution,’ for the prison administration had no complaint to make againt me.

Putting in irons a measure of precaution! When I am already guarded like a wild beast, night and day, by a warder armed with rifle and revolver! No; the truth should be told: that it is a measure of hatred and torture, ordered from Paris by those who, not being able to strike a family, strike an innocent man, because neither he nor his family will or should bow their heads, and thus submit to the most frightful judicial error which has ever been made. Who is it that thus constitutes himself my executioner and the executioner of my dear ones? I know not.

One easily divines that the local administration (except the chief-warder, who has been specially sent from Paris) feels a horror of such arbitrary and inhuman measures, but is compelled to apply them to me. It has no choice but to carry out the orders which are imposed on it.

No; the responsibility for them is of higher source; it rests entirely with the author or authors of these inhuman orders.

In any case, no matter what the sufferings, the physical and moral tortures they may inflict on me, my duty and that of my family remains always the same.

As I keep thinking of all this, I no longer fear to become even angry; I have an immense pity for those who thus torture human beings! What remorse they are preparing for themselves, when everything shall come to light; for history unmasks all secrets.

I am overwhelmed with sadness; my heart is so torn, my brain is so shattered, that I can scarcely collect my thoughts; it is indeed the acme of suffering, and still I have this crushing enigma to face.’

History unmasks all secrets

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1940
Marielle Bennett,
actor

‘The whole of [our] street was cordoned off [after a bomb in the night] and people from outlying districts came and peered over the ropes at us as though we were exhibits. We ourselves had to either tell the police when we left home that we should be returning in a few minutes, or else we had to produce our identity cards. We had huge squads of demolition workers to pull down the remains of the house [no 54], and the occupants who seemed to have either been away at the time or to have escaped with slight injuries stood outside and collected all the things that were still “collectable”, clothes were tied up in bundles and taken off. Of course nothing was much good from 54, but the house next door 56 was not quite so badly damaged. A baby and its parents usually live in that house but luckily had spent the night on the opposite side of the street and had not been injured. Some children had cuts and I saw several people walking round with cuts and bandages. I went up the street to post a letter and the demolition men must have taken a dislike to me in my trousers and one called out “Pleased with yourself aren’t you?” Which rather upset me, as altho’ I am terribly pleased to have escaped so narrowly, I am awfully sorry for the other people. Still perhaps I do look pleased with self. I hope not!’

The cost of stockings

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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.

SITE DEVISED by Paul K Lyons

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.