The Diarists: This week in history


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The Independent Culture

27 April 1915

Lady Cynthia Asquith: "So very sorry to hear that Rupert Brooke has died in the Dardanelles of poisoning or sunstroke. I have only met him once or twice, never got to know him, but always looked forward to doing so some day, and it does stab one to think of his beautiful young poet's face with the cornfield head. I'm told he was absolutely convinced he would be killed in this war and he wrote lovely poems bidding farewell to things he loved."

1 May 1871

Mary Clarke Mohl an Englishwoman living in Paris during the Commune, the insurrection of the city against the French government: "Their conception of a commune is insane. They want to make a state of it. For instance, they appropriate to the town of Paris all the great establishments of the state, and declare that they will buy from France the Louvre and its galleries, the Jardin des Plantes, the Bibliothèques… They claim all the legislative powers of a sovereign state, and want to change the distribution and property of capital and work. And this is what gives them their most sincere adherents – workmen who have been addled by insane discussions about the rights of capital and work."

2 May 1945

Joan Wyndham serving in the WAAF: "Hitler is dead! Berlin has surrendered to the Russians. As soon as we came off watch we all piled into cars and set out for the nearest pub… When we had drunk so many toasts that we could hardly stand, someone took over the piano and we sang until closing time… The ride home was a nightmare – we went tearing through the night, whooping and singing, with screeching brakes and screaming horns, and when we reached the RAF Mess we found it practically ablaze. Some types had got hold of "Fido", the stuff they use to clear fog, and had it lit all over the bars. They were dancing round it, wearing huge negro masks from the Christmas pantomime and waving broomsticks – a fantastic sight!"