And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

30 November

1812
Benjamin Haydon,
artist

‘Went to the House of Lords to hear the Prince open Parliament in State. It was a very grand affair - the beautiful women - educated, refined, graceful, with their bending plumes & sparkling eyes - the Nobility, the Chancellor - I could not help reflecting how long it was before society arrived at such a pitch of peace & quietness, that order & regulation such as I witnessed existed. What tumult, what blood, what contention, what suffering, what error, before experience has ascertained what was to be selected, or what rejected.’

Thirst after grandeur

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1851
John Everett Millais,
artist

‘All rose early to get in time for train at Ewell, to spend the day at Waddon. Were too late, so walked into Epsom, expecting there to meet a train. Found nothing before past one. Walked towards the downs, and to church at eleven, where heard very good sermon. Collins so pious in actions that he was watched by kind-looking man opposite. Very wealthy congregation. . . Walked afterwards to Mrs. Hodgkinson’s, but found she was too unwell to sit with us, so dined with her husband; capital dinner. Sat with Mrs. H_ in her bedroom, leaving them smoking downstairs, and took leave about half-past nine, Mr. Hodgkinson walking with us to station.’

At work on Ophelia

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1913
Heinrich Schenker,
composer

‘Express letter from Floriz, in which he expresses his delight that the matter has once again been put right. He already sees the matter as finished, from a simple inclination towards comfort and laxity; he wants to see it as finished so that he - even if prematurely - can proceed towards enjoyment and avoid any effort that might possibly be required if order is to be achieved! In one sense the letter was, however, gratifying, since a small distancing from the sister could be detected, which carried a lot of weight. I hasten to reply to his letter immediately, and finally explain to him that I was almost at the point of resenting him for identifying with his sister even when she perpetrates a serious wrong against someone else! I hope that Floriz will now keep his word and think that his sister ought to behave in a more civilized way!!

Excursion to Hetzendorf; an exceedingly violent gale rages through the downright springlike, sunlit world; a gale that almost has the power to force our imagination out into space, from where we could perceive the whirling of the earth upon its axis. We felt as if we were experiencing the gale not beneath our feet on firm ground but beyond the atmosphere, as observers of the mighty celestial orbit. The sun drew out sap, just as in the springtime; many bushes succumbed to the lure of its rays and sprouted buds, which sparkled joyfully in the sunlight, without realizing how near they were to freezing to death.

The competency of a man. I ask the conductor on the streetcar, who is only temporarily covering our line, whether he is knowledgeable about the distant lines? He replies: Yes, we are obliged to know the entire network, otherwise our job would indeed be very easy. The tone in which he spoke these words would, even from the mouth of a Moltke or a Napoleon, have made a poor impression!

Typically Viennese: a steam laundry adheres to neither its collection nor its delivery times, and does not even respond to an urgent postcard! ’

Diaries of a musical theorist

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1924
Edward Weston,
photographer

‘Technically dissatisfied with what should have been my best photograph of “los pajaritos”, I spent another several hours attempting to duplicate it: impossible to place even inanimate objects exactly as seen before. I still think my failure the best seen negative though the actual difference is ever so slight.’

Lost behind my camera

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1925
Eric Gill,
sculptor and designer

‘Bath after supper and dancing (nude). R & M fucked one another, after, M. holding me the while.’

Very beautiful things

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1943
Joseph Goebbels,
politician

‘I discussed a number of personnel questions with Bormann. He, too, is worried about German foreign policy. Ribbentrop is too rigid to be able to spin his web in this difficult war situation. But I don’t believe the Fuehrer is ready to part company with his Foreign Minister. Yet Ribbentrop would not be able to negotiate either with London or with Moscow were such an eventuality to arise. Both sides consider him too heavily compromised.’

The Nuremberg ten

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1945
Hana Pravda,
actor

‘My dearest. My beloved. Ask God to forgive me. Pray for my soul - the soul I am losing. I don’t want to live with a shattered soul. Please help me to die.’ [Last entry in the diary]

Writing for you, Sasha

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1976
Hasan di Tiro,
politician

‘In the morning of November 30, 1976. we leave the camp of Panton Weng for Tiro, taking Southwestern direction. The order of the march is as follow: first the Pawang party (the guides), then the advanced security guards, then my party, then the rear guards. We march single file. Even then it is difficult to avoid entanglement with forest shrubs and occasional rattan traps. Cutting of any trees, even a leaf is strictly forbidden as that can leave traces for the enemy to follow. We march in silence. This is the first long march through the forest that we have taken since my retum. Even the Pawangs are a bit hesitant in leading the way after they had not been in this part of the forests for so many years. One does not go here for pleasure. It turned out that it takes us four days of exhausting march to arrive to our new place in the mountains of Tiro. For me it was my first taste of what is more to come. It is to be the trial of body and soul.

During the march like that we are forced to sleep on the ground. We would stop marching at about 5 PM in order to be able to use the remaining day light hours to prepare for the night since fire is not to be used at night, for security reason. The men have to clear the ground over which a plastic tissue would be laid to prevent any seepage of water from below. Then a blanket would be laid down over the plastic tissue. If there is no rain, nothing further need to be done for one night stay. If there is rain then a make-shift roof must be contrived. Those who are in charge of cooking are the ones who have to work hardest, especially on rainy days when it is hardest to light the fire. But it is astonishing to see that my men, being mountain people, most of them, know exactly what trees they can light up without having to pick up the dry ones. So they have no problem starting the fire even in the rain. They know how to start the fire with a freshly cut green trees! I have read Dutch military reports during their war against us that when they came to the mountains to engage our guerillas, they had to go hungry for days in the rainy seasons because they did not know how to start the fire without using dry firewoods!

The hardest thing to do during the march when you have to climb high mountains is the carrying of rice and other food supply. You can never carry enough food sufficient for a long time. You have to break the journey for a new supply along the way. Usually our men see to it that everyone help each other and do their equal shares for hard works.

It took us four days to reach Tiro. On the third day we thought we had gotten lost and had arrived in Geumpang instead! In fact we did not get lost but everyone simply had no familiarity with the terrains anymore, even the Pawangs. It was a mistake because we did not take Pawang Baka with us whose territory this is. That every one agreed.

During this trip I had my first unforgettable hardship. It was when we were descending a very steep hill with the path all covered by slippery mud of such depth that it sometime reached up to my knees that I had to take my boots off, only to discover that the mud was infested with rattan thorns, two inches long on the average and the sharpness of which surpassed those of the roses. I had my bare feet plunged into several of these thorns. I thought the enemy must have planted them there. That was when I recalled with great nostalgia my many pleasant walks on Fifth Avenue. I really said to myself What am I doing here? It was at 2 AM and raining and we are all soaking wet, and exhausted. During these descends, Geutjhik Uma had to hold on my shoulders blades from behind in order to prevent me from falling forward down hill. ’

Life as a guerilla warrior

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1993
Alan Clark,
politician

[Saltwood] ‘I went over after tea to shut the drive gates of Garden House, and on the way back I looked at the dark outline of the Mains, the Santé wall. My open prison. I am not ready to stand back yet. But I am nervous of using up time - even when, e.g., ‘polishing’ the Buick - because I dread that suddenly, I may ‘go’.’

These are real diaries

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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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