The Diarists: This week in history


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The Independent Culture

25 August 1821

Henry Edward Fox, diarist and future foreign ambassador: "When the news of Napoleon's death came, before the King had been informed of it by his ministers, Sir E Nagle, anxious to communicate the welcome tidings, said to him, "Sir, your bitterest enemy is dead."

"Is she, by God!' said the tender husband." [George IV had thought he meant his estranged wife, Princess Caroline of Brunswick.]

27 August 1939

Evelyn Waugh, novelist, aged 35: "My inclinations are all to join the army as a private soldier. I have to consider thirty years of novel-writing ahead of me. Nothing would be more likely than work in a government office to finish me as a writer; nothing more likely to stimulate me than a complete change of habit. There is a symbolic difference between fighting as a soldier and serving as a civilian, even if the civilian is more valuable."

27 August 1979

Roy Jenkins, Labour MP: "Bess Church gave me the shattering news of Lord Mountbatten's assassination by the IRA in Ireland. I had last seen him at the Euro Gala at Drury Lane in May, after fifteen years quite close official association with him, not only over the prison inquiry in 1966 but also over various aviation matters before that; and indeed there has been a certain continuing relationship with him in Brussels [Jenkins was President of the EU]…

"From his point of view it is not too bad as he had begun to give the impression of not knowing what to do with the rest of his life and might even have welcomed a dramatic death, although not one with these side-effects. He was a remarkable man on the whole, not a great intellect but with exceptional drive and power to pull or push people along with him. He was also good at grandeur without pompousness. We watched this evening a television tribute which was very well done by Ludo Kennedy."