The Diarists: This week in history


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The Independent Culture

31 August 1782

John Byng soldier, civil servant and diarist: "I begin to be heartily tired of this place [Weymouth] for it is all sameness and dullness; a gentleman left it some days since, saying he would not stay in any place, where there were neither wenching, drinking, or gaming; and neither of the three are practised here, as so many of the young men and officers are employ'd in camps or on foreign service. Col York dined with us at our scrambling meal; we sat long, poring over the American War, in which Col York serv'd till captur'd with Lord Cornwall; as also on the fatal loss of the Royal George… a calamity that affects every bosom, and shocks the most obdurate heart."

6 September 1658

Anthony Wood antiquarian in Oxford: "Mr Richard Cromwell [the eldest son of Oliver, who had just died] was proclaimed Protector at Oxford at the usual places where kings have been proclaimed. While he was proclaiming before St Mary's church door, the mayor, recorder, town clerk etc, accompanied by Colonel Unton Croke and his troopers, were pelted with carrot and turnip tops by young scholars and others who stood at a distance."

2 September 1870

Edmond de Goncourt critic and writer, in Paris during the Franco-Prussian War: "Coming out of the Louvre, I met Philip de Chennevières-Pointel, who told me that he was leaving for Brest tomorrow, to escort the third trainful of pictures from the Louvre, which are being taken out of their frames, rolled up and sent to Brest to save them from the Prussians. He described to me the melancholy, humiliating spectacle of this packing operation, with [the art collector] Marie Frédéric de Reiset crying like a baby over Raphael's La Belle Jardinière lying at the bottom of her crate, as if over a loved one about to be nailed in her coffin."