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The Assassin's Cloak
« on: 2010-11-23 02:39:38 »
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[Blunderov] Absorbed as I am in my own life and times, it sometimes provides a much needed perspective to read of the tribulations and triumphs of other people in other places in time and space.

The Assassin's Cloak

First published in Great Britain in 2000
by Canongate Books, I4 High Street, Edinburgh Em ITE.
This revised paperback edition published simultaneously in
Great Britain and the United States of/lmerica in 2002.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Introduction and selection © Irene and Alan Taylor; 2000
For details of copyright permissions, see pages 673-6
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record of this book is available
0n request from the British Library
ISBN 1 84195 172 2

"A diary is an assassins cloak which
we wear when we stab a comrade
in the back with a pen."

This stunningly readable book includes 170 contributors and is the most wide-ranging and comprehensive ever compiled. Over ten years in the making, it pays tribute to a fascinating
genre that is at once the most intimate and public of all literary forms.

The scope of The Assassins Cloak is peerless and international, and ranges over the centuries with several diary excerpts for every day of the year. It begins with Samuel Pepys, the Shakespeare of all diarists. Along the way we meet cads and charmers, sailors and psychopaths, rock stars and prima ballerinas, gossips, drunks, snobs, lechers and lovers.

There is humour and tragedy, history and the humdrum, often recorded on the same day or
in the same entry. The diarists are likewise diverse, including Leo Tolstoy, Sylvia Plath, Alan Bennett, Simone de Beauvoir, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Victor Klemperer, Anne Frank, John Steinbeck, Evelyn Waugh, Brian Eno and Queen Victoria.

Imprinted on the minds of the editors were the of ‘Chips’ Channon, one of the 20th century’s greatest diarists. "What is more dull than a discreet diary?" he asked, before supplying his own answer: "One might as well have a discreet soul".

23 November

1850 [New York]
Fearful calamity at a public school in Ninth Ward Thursday a&ernoon, a false
alarm of fire, a panic, a stampede downstairs of 1,800 children, and nearly
fifty killed on the spot and many more wounded — a massacre of the inno-
cents. The stair banisters gave way, and the children fell into the square well
round which the stairs wound, where the heap of killed and wounded lay
for hours before help could reach them. The doors opened inwards. The
bodies were piled up to the top of the doors; they did not dare to burst them
open and had to cut them slowly away with knives.
George Templeton Strong

Restless night, dreaming of my mother, as insane; in prison, restraining her
raving when I came near; I listened at the side of a long wall, she becom-
ing loud and wild when she did not see me, speaking of tearing the flesh
off her arm; then slowly putting her head out of the window, catching
sight of me, and lowering her voice, and speaking rationally as I came to

This terrible dream, the consequence of much sad thought restrained,
together with overeating at dinner - probably overdrinking also.
John Ruskin

After tea went to the Red drawing-room, where so-called ‘animated pictures’
were shown off, including the groups taken in September at Balmoral. It is
a very wonderful process, representing people, their movements and actions,
as if they were alive.
Queen Victoria

Forms of fans.You write a book — it’s your book. Someone reads it and is
enthusiastic — it’s his book. He tells you what’s good about it. He isn’t trying
to flatter you; he’s bragging. He’s telling you that he knows what’s good and
he hints that a stupid oaf like you humbled into writing it by accident and
don’t know what you’ve got.
Dawn Powell

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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #1 on: 2010-11-24 01:39:13 »
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24 November

I do think the mighty stir made about scribbling and scribes, by themselves
and others —- a sign of effeminacy degeneracy, and weakness. Who would
write, who had any thing better to do?
Lord Byron

One rarely hears a radio talk or reads an article on Scottish literature nowa-
days without meeting the Calvinistic bogey. Why has our art been so meagre
for 100s of years — ergo, because of Calvinism: and that’s that. But surely we
are over-easily contented with this solution which is but half-a-solution. Must
we not go on and admit that there is something very congenial to Calvinism
in the Scottish psyche - even our land and climate have something in common
with the stern creed of Geneva. One does not turn round and blame a cramp-
ing creed in itself but the men who submit to it. If for far too long Scotland
has accepted Calvinism - there can be no doubt but that at one time, and
for a lengthy period, Calvinism was acceptable.
William Soutar

I keep wondering what I am to do. I should like to retire and live much
more simply There is so much that I want t0 write, but I don’t think that
I’1l ever do it if I am in a job. Alternatively I would like some new job if it
were distinguished enough, but it doesn’t look as if I should ever have one.
And I have been such a ghastly mediocrity compared to what I wanted to
be and could have been.
Lord Reith

I93'7 [Nanking]
It’s touching how Dr Rosen worries about me. Of all the Germans who
have stayed behind, I am his biggest problem child. He is quite rightly afraid
that I’ll remain here and not want to flee with him and the other Germans
and English., etc. on board. the Hulk. He personally handed me a pass that
was issued by Prideaux-Brune, the English consul, and that permits me to
board the Hulk, which is to be tugged upstream shortly. He has also arranged
to pass the house of ex-minister Chang Chun on to me, just in case - no
matter whether I can use it or not. In short - he does everything he possi-
bly can! We had a long conversation yesterday afternoon, that is to say, he
told me about his life. His grandfather was a friend of Beethoven’s. He showed
me a letter Beethoven wrote his grandfather. His family has been in diplo-
matic service for almost a hundred years. His father was once foreign minis-
ter, but he will probably stay a legation secretary all his life - a jewish
grandmother in his family has ruined his career. A tragic fate!
John Rabe

1963 [Philadelphia]
The most horrible and incredible catastrophe. On Friday President Kennedy
was shot dead in Dallas,Texas, by a young man of twenty-four called Oswald
apparently Oswald himself was shot this morning while he was being trans-
ferred from one prison to another. The whole country is in a state of deep
shock. Mrs Kennedy who was with the President in the car when he died,
has behaved throughout with dignity grace and magnificent self—control. I
watched her today on television accompanying the Presidents body from the
White House to the Capitol and was moved to tears. The shooting of the
suspected murderer by an exhibitionist night-club proprietor is too idiotic
to be believed. That the Dallas police should have allowed it to happen is so
stupid that the brain reels. Now it will never be satisfactorily proved whether
Oswald shot the President or not, and there will be a jungle of rumours. . .
I am now faced with the task of writing a new number — comedy -
for ]o[se] Ferrer because ‘Long Live the King’ had, of course, to be cut
immediately as it deals exclusively with assassination. This is a dreadful job. I
am genuinely upset over the President’s death and the whole atmosphere is
quivering. Hardly conducive to writing frivolous lyrics and music. However,
I must go on trying. We are giving a performance tonight as there is to be
a day of mourning tomorrow and nothing will be open. It is impossible to
evade the general feeling of shock. It seems so desolately wasteful that a virile
man in the prime of his life, to whom the whole world was looking for lead-
ership and who, incidentally, was doing a gallant job of it, should be wiped
out of life by the action of a zany delinquent with Communist tendencies.
I feel that I am living through too much history and that my own life is
becoming more and more hectic. However, I feel all right so far. Now I have
to take charge, write the bloody song, rehearse the company and get on with
the job.
Noél Coward
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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #2 on: 2010-11-25 02:34:45 »
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25 November

1762 [London]
I went to Love’s and drank tea. I had now been some time in town without
female sport. I determined to have nothing to do with whores, as my health
was of great consequence to me. I went to a girl with whom I had an intrigue
at Edinburgh, but my affection cooling, I had left her. I knew she was come
up. I waited on her and tried to obtain my former favours, but in vain. She
would by no means listen. I was really unhappy for want of women. I thought
it hard to be in such a place without them. I picked up a girl in the Strand;
went into a court with intention to enjoy her in armour. But she had none.
I toyed with her. She wondered at my size, and said if I ever took a girl’s
maidenhead, I would make her squeak. I gave her a shilling, and had command
enough of myself to go without touching her. I afterwards trembled at the
danger I had escaped. I resolved to wait cheerfully till I got some safe girl
or was liked by some woman of fashion.
James Boswell

That terrible Dumas, who never leaves his prey came to hunt me out at
midnight with an empty note—book in his hand. God only knows what he
intends to do with all the details that I have been fool enough to give him!
I quite like him, but we are not of the same clay and we are not striving
towards the same goal. His public is not mine; one of us must be crazy He
left the first numbers of his journal with me, they are delightful reading.
Eugene Delacroix

What a blessing I can write in this little book without fearing that anyone
will ever read and ridicule the nonsense and half-sense I scribble. That has
been the attraction of a ‘diary—book’ to me — one can talk one’s little think—
ings out to a highly appreciative audience, dumb but not deaf And sometimes
this is a necessary safety-valve to save one from that most painful operation,
watching one’s most cherished chicks hatched by unwearied perseverance
coolly trodden underfoot. Now my honest desire is to appear commonplace
and sensible, so that none of my dear kind family will think it necessary to
remark to themselves or to me that I am otherwise than ordinary; to be on
the right side of ordinary is the perfection of prudence in a young woman,
and will save her from much heartburning and mortification of spirit.
Beatrice Webb

1940 [Berlin]
I have at last got to the bottom of these “mercy killings". It’s an evil tale.
The Gestapo, with the knowledge and approval of the German govern-
ment, is systematically putting to death the mentally deficient population of
the Reich. How many have been executed probably only Himmler and a
handful of Nazi chieftains know. A conservative and trustworthy German tells
me he estimates the number at a hundred thousand. I think that figure is too
high. But certain it is that the figure runs into the thousands and is going
up every day.
William L. Shirer

My experience of Neapolitan gastronomy was expanded by an invitation to
a dinner, the main feature of which was a spaghetti-eating competition. Such
contests have been a normal feature of social life, latterly revived and raised
almost to the level of a cult as a result of the reappearance on the black
market of the necessary raw materials.

Present: men of gravity and substance, including an ex-Vice-Questore, a
director of the Banco di Roma, and several leading lawyers - but no women.
The portions of spaghetti were weighed out on a pair of scales before trans-
fer to each plate. The method of attack was the classic one, said to have been
introduced by Fernando IV, and demonstrated by him for the benefit of an
ecstatic audience in his box at the Naples Opera. The forkful of spaghetti is
lifted high into the air, and allowed to dangle and then drop into the open
mouth, the head being held well back. I noticed that the most likely-looking
contestants did not attempt to chew the spaghetti, but appeared to hold it
in the throat which, when crammed, they emptied with a violent convul-
sion of the Adam’s apple — sometimes going red in the face as they did so.
Winner: a 65-year-old doctor who consumed four heaped platefuls weigh-
ing 1.4 kilograms, and was acclaimed by hand-clapping and cheers.These he
cheerfully acknowledged and then left the room to vomit.
Norman Lewis

I have nightmares about us Americans, weighed down as we are by ‘things’
and by excessive eating. I read yesterday that Americans eat fifty times the
meat the British do, for instance. Overeating makes people lazy in a diifer--
ent way from the apathy induced by too little nourishment, but I feel sure
that it takes the edge off perception. Many of us are literally weighed down.
Who can imagine hunger who has never experienced it, even for one day?
May Sarton

Princess Margaret and Colin Tennant arrived, HRH in beaming mood,
slimmer and wearing quite a weight of make—up, her thin hair heavily back-
combed. She addresses rather than speaks to you, but she revels in tough
conversation and anecdotes. She is, as we all know tiresome, spoilt, idle and
irritating. She had just come back from Australia, which she hated, and, worse,
it rained. Colin said that it would surely be her last visit. The traffic lights
were not even cancelled any more and there was no escort for her, and no
crowds either. Imagine the effect of that, he said, on someone who had known
and expected all of those things. She smokes non-stop .... That evening she
really looked rather marvellous in floor-length dark turquoise velvet with a
string of diamonds close to her neck. How those royals must meditate on
the vanishing magic. Colin Tennant said what did one expect of HRH? She
had been deliberately brought up as the younger sister, not to be competi-
tion, taught only to dance and sing and that was that. She had been the first
one to break out of the charmed circle and now it all seems against her. She
has no direction, no overriding interest. All she now likes is la jeunesse dorée
and Young Men.
Roy Strong
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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #3 on: 2010-11-26 07:19:23 »
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26 November

The court met late and sate till one. Detained from that hour till four o’clock
being engaged in the perplexd affairs of Mr James Stewart of Brugh. This
young gentleman is heir to a property of better than &1000 a year in Orkney.
His mother married very young and was wife, mother and widow in the
course of the first year. Being unfortunately under the direction of a care-
less perhaps an unfaithful agent she was unlucky enough to embarass her
own affairs by money transactions with this person. I was asked to accept the
situation of one of his curators and trust to clear out his affairs and hers -
at least I will not fail for want of application. I have lent her &300 on a
second (and therefore doubtful) security over her house in Newington bought
for &1000 and on which &600 is already secured. I have no connection with
the family except that of compassion and [may] not be rewarded even by
thanks when the young man comes of age. I have known my father often
so treated by those whom he had labourd to serve. But if we do not run
some hazard in our attempts to do good where is the merit of them? So I
will bring through my Orkney Laird if I can.
Sir Wallter Scott

How odious are closet sweeps and chapped rough hands and hairs on the
dressing table and powder on the edges of the drawers and clothes that slide
off hangers and dirty handkerchiets — and combs.

I hate making a bed from the beginning up: that horrible cold bare look
when you have just fastened in the first crisp clean sheet.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I943 [Cairo]
The story goes that Randolph Churchill woke his father yesterday morning
Saying, ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder where you are.’ Anyhow
the Prime Minister suddenly demanded to know why some of our soldiers
were not wearing the Desert Star Medal. Churchill had taken trouble over
this medal: the yellow on it is for sand, the blue for sea, and so on. Few have
yet been issued - hence the dilemma. Now all the ribbon in existence has
been made up and any desert soldier who sees Churchill will wear it but
will have to return it at the gate on departure for others to wear.

Jimmy Gault, now English aide to General Eisenhower, invited me to dine
last night at the Mohammed Ali Club to meet the General and his staff
Being the only outside guest I was placed at dinner next to the General.
There were about sixteen people there - all Americans except for Jimmy
Kay Somersby, the General’s very nice English secretary [and mistress] who
sat on his right, and myself. A superb dinner was served. For the first two
courses the General sat with his back turned to me and only spoke to his
Secretary and I began to run out of conversation _with a shy young American
on my left. Opposite me was Elliot Roosevelt who kept putting his arms
round the WAC sitting next to him and trying to kiss her with his mouth
full of food. (Elliot is the image of his mother!) When the sweet was served
and the General had to turn a little in my direction I asked him, if he knew
Bonner Fellers, the American Attaché we all liked who was here during some
of the Desert war. Eisenhower replied tersely: “Any friend of Bonner Fellers
is no friend of mine" and smartly turned his back on me again to talk to
Kay Soon after dinner I thanked Jimmy, shook hands with everybody and

Early this morning Jimmy Gault telephoned me to say General Eisenhower
thought he’d been rude to me last night and would be pleased if I would
dine with him tonight. I asked Jimmy to thank the General for his invita-
tion and say I was sorry I have a previous engagement. An awful lie: I have
no date tonight.
Countess of Ranfurly

A perk of the place [House of Commons] is a free medical check—up. The
doctor (thirty-something, a touch insipid, a specialist in ‘occupational medi-
cine’) comes in two or three times a week and is available in a small, airless
makeshift surgery located off the Cromwell Lobby. He did all the usual tests
and I was given the usual verdict. ‘A little more exercise probably wouldn’t
do any harm. Most people put on a stone or so when they come here.You
haven’t done too badly. Moderation in all things'. My cholesterol is at the
upper edge of the range. Why did I lie about my alcohol consumption? I
said half a bottle of wine a day and it must be two-thirds. (I assume every-
one lies and when you say half a bottle he puts down two-thirds.)
Gyles Brandreth
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« Reply #4 on: 2010-11-27 03:14:19 »
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27 November

No, I’ve let myself go so much that it’s impossible. Estate management is a
boorish occupation. Today Rezun told lies; I flew into a rage and, following
the loathsome custom, said: ‘Flog him.’ I waited for him to come and see me.
I sent someone to stop the flogging, but he didn’t get there in time. I’ll ask
his pardon. I’ll never reprimand anyone again before 2 o’clock in the after—
noon. I asked his pardon and gave him three roubles, but I suffered agonies.
~Leo Tolstoy

Sad, wandering, lonely absent. Worn-out with wanting what I haven’t got
(before it was money I wanted: now it’s love: always either one or the other,
generally both), what a relief it would be to have something to rest on. But
nothing is firm, there is nothing to prevent one falling. The only unfailing
relief is sleep, the humiliating abdication of one’s consciousness. (Regarded
in that sense, sleep becomes a minor form of suicide).

Must now try to begin to work really hard and to forget everything else
for a while.

Saw Jean-Pierre again last night and am going to meet him again during
the coming week.
~David Gascoyne

Lunched at the Golden Egg. Oh, the horror — the cold stuffiness, claustro-
phobic place of tables, garish lights and mass produced food in steel dishes.
And the egg-shaped menu!

But perhaps one could get something out of it [for a novel]. The setting
for a breaking-off or some terrible news or an unwanted declaration of love.
~Barbara Pym
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« Reply #5 on: 2010-11-28 02:22:25 »
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28 November

Liszt said to me to-day that God alone deserves to be loved. It may be true,
but when one has loved a man it is very diiiicult to love God. It is so differ-
ent. Liszt said also that the only keen sympathy he had ever felt was for M.
Lamennais, and he added that earthly love would never get possession of him.
He is very lucky the good little Christian! . .

I saw Henri [Heine] this morning. He told me that we love with the head
and senses and that the heart counts for very little in love. I saw Mme. Allart
at two o’clock. She told me that we must use strategem with men and pretend
to be angry in order to get them back. Of them all, Sainte—Beuve alone
refrained from hurting me with foolish words. I asked him the meaning of
love and he answered, ‘It means tears; if you weep, you love.’
Yes, dear friend, I love. In vain do I summon anger to my aid. I love, I
shall die of it, unless God works a miracle to save me. Perhaps he will give
me back my ambition to write or my devotion to religion. I ought to go
seek out Sister Martha.

I cannot work. Oh, loneliness, loneliness! I can neither write nor pray
Sainte-Beuve says I need distraction. With whom? What do all these people
amount to? When they have talked for an hour about things I don’t care
about, they disappear. They are merely shadows that come and go. I remain
alone, alone forever. I want to kill myself. And who has the right to prevent
~George Sand

I wrote a letter to M. [Arthur Munby, an upper-class poet whom she later
married but who never publicly acknowledged their relationship] and all the
day & evening I felt more wretched - I wish’d most sincerely that my time
was nearly at an end by God’s will, for my life seem’d a burden, instead of
a joy as it ought to be. I went in the evening to Mrs Smith’s to see the letter
M. had wrote to Ellen [her sister].
~Hannah Cullwick

I967 [at Privy Council, Buckingham Palace]
The queen was entertaining a film star and the racing driver, Graham Hill,
to lunch . . . she kept us waiting ten minutes so we stood in the long ante-
hall chatting to Sir Peter Agnew secretary of the Council. Dick [Crossman]
is on uproariously good terms with him. Said I, ‘No stools today Dick always
disgraces us by falling over them. These Winchester men have no breeding'.
‘That’s nothingf said Peter Agnew And then proceeded to tell us of the time
five members of the previous Tory Government had had to be sworn in.
Everything was a shambles: ‘The worst swearing-in I have ever seen'. The five
came streaming in and every one of them flopped on to one knee on the
floor! He indicated that they should move nearer the Queen on to the stools
and to his astonishment everyone moved towards the stools on his knees! “It
was an incredible sight.’When it came to kissing hands one unfortunate Privy
Councillor lunged at the stool in front of the Queen, missed it and knelt
there with one leg cocked in the air. He was only saved from toppling right
over by clutching the Queen’s hand. She looked like thunder. When it was
all over, Sir Peter was summoned to see the Queen. ‘Here it goes, I thought.
Now I’m for it.’ But it was about something else. When he apologized to
her she giggled. “Was’t it funnyl’ ‘I thought you looked very displeased,
ma’am.’ ‘If I hadn’t looked like that I should have burst out laughing was
her reply.
~Barbara Castle
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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #6 on: 2010-11-29 02:39:11 »
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29 November

1834 [On tour, in Louth]
Walked with Mr Robertson to the post office and to the theatre, which
answers also the double purpose of a Sessions House; it is not the worst
I have seen. Went to the theatre - dressed. in magistrates’ room - “quite
convenient’.When ready to go on the stage Mr Robertson appeared with
a face full of. dismay; he began to apologise, and I guessed the remainder.
‘Bad house?’ ‘Bad? Sir, there’s no one!’ ‘What? nobody at all?’ ‘Not a soul,
sir - except the Warden’s party in the boxes} "What the d-l! not one
person in the pit or gallery? ‘Oh yes, there are one or two' ‘Are there
five?’ ‘Oh, yes, five' ‘Then go on; we have no right to give ourselves airs,
if the public do not choose to come and see us; go on at once!’ Mr
Robertson was astonished at what he thought my philosophy, being accus-
tomed, as he said, to be ‘blown up’ by his Stars when the houses were bad.
I never acted Virginius better in all my life - good taste and earnestness.
Smyth, who was contemporary with me at Rugby and has a living in this
neighbourhood, came in and sat with me, and saw the play, with which
he was greatly pleased.
~Charles Macready

Honor [his wife] is full of energy and glowing health; her accouchement
has done wonders for her looks and well-being. She is an angel of good-
ness, gentleness and grace: I love her more every day. Our baby boy now
smiles and weighs nearly 11 lbs and Honor is content to sit holding him
for hours on end while he gurgles. And for me it is an extraordinarily satisfying
emotion to meet a white pram in the Park which contains one’s own son.
~ ‘Chips’ Channon

Mr. Churchill was making a speech tonight. In secret, John, Herbert and I
heard it. I think the purpose of his speech was to keep the English from
getting too elated over the victories lately He spoke very seriously and again,
did not promise anything. He said 1943 would be a stern, terrible year. Felt
rather depressed as I listened, but thinking it over, not so much. Mr Churchill
never raises false hopes. And he knows his people, how they must always be
‘kept up to it.’
~Nan Le Ruez

Lunched with Coco Chanel.  Not  a good word spoken about anyone but
very funny.
~Noél Coward

Stale air, bad diet. I have barely got the energy even to do yoga.
~Alan Clark
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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #7 on: 2010-11-30 10:58:54 »
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30 November

With a sinking heart and trembling knees got out of the train [at
Wolverhampton], amidst great cheering, bands playing, troops presenting arms,
etc .... All along the three or four miles we drove, the town was beautifully
decorated, with flags, wreaths of flowers, and endless kind inscriptions. There
were also many arches. It seemed so strange being amongst so many yet
V feeling so alone, without my beloved husband! Everything so like former
great functions, and yet so unlike! I felt much moved, and nearly broke down
when I saw the dear name and the following inscription — ‘I-Ionour to the
memory of Albert the Good] ‘the good Prince] ‘I—Iis works follow him,’ and
so many quotations from Tennyson. There were barriers all along, so that
there was no overcrowding, and many Volunteers with bands were stationed
at different points.

The Mayor was completely taken by surprise when I knighted him, and
seemed quite bewildered, and hardly to understand it when Lord Derby told
him. There was some slight delay in the uncovering of the statue but it [the
covering sheet] fell well and slowly, amidst shouts and the playing of the dear
old Coburg march by the band. How I could bear up, I hardly know but I
remained firm throughout.At the conclusion of the ceremony I walked round
the statue followed by the children. I had seen it before at Thornycroits
studio, and it is upon the whole good . . .

We drove back through quite another, and the poorest, part of the town,
which took half an hour. There was not a house that had not got its little
decoration; and though we passed through some of the most wretched-
looking slums, where the people were all in tatters, and many very Irish-
looking, they were most loyal and demonstrative. There was not one unkind
look or dissatisfied expression; everyone, without exception, being kind and
friendly. Great as the enthusiasm used always to be wherever dearest Albert
and I appeared, there was something peculiar and touching in the joy and
even emotion with which the people greeted their poor widowed Queen!
~ Queen Victoria

Some sensational American scientist has produced some theory that by
conjunction of planets or something the world will end or at any rate become
extinct on the 17th December. We can hardly hope that this is true but the
weather seems rather hysterical if that is any sign.
~ Evelyn Waugh

I’m hearing more and more jokes about President Roosevelt. Here’s one of
them: A man dies and his soul goes to the Pearly Gates. St Peter asks what
he did when alive on earth.The man says he was a psychiatrist. St Peter cries:
‘Come in! Come in! You’re just the man we need. God thinks he’s Franklin
D. Roosevelt!’
~ Edward Robb Ellis

And now India! We breakfasted in bed yesterday morning. Then a mooch
into Karachi where we bought ourselves nylon toothbrushes, Pears soap
(Australian made), and Pond’s cold cream.

Driving back in the station wagon from Karangi Creek last night where
we did an RAF show — outdoors, about 500 men - exceptionally good audi-
ence - the sergeant (too thin) revealed his past to us. He was on the halls
with a dressmaking act. It seems he created exclusive models then and there
on three living models - a blonde, a brunette and a redhead. He married the
redhead.They came on in brassieres and panties and he draped them. He did
three numbers, all to music. First there was a black and white picture. One
of the girls as an usherette held a tray with accessories, flowers, jewels, gloves,
shoes and then the sergeant, in tails, draped. No. 2 was a wedding creation.

No. 3 a patriotic number. The orchestra played soft music while he draped
the first girl in a US flag and when he stepped back to reveal the completed
costume the music burst into ‘Stars and Stripes’. Same procedure with a red
flag and the Soviet National Anthem and then, on the central model he’d
swish around with a Union jack, whip out a trident, shield and helmet and
Lo! Britannia and the finale. He boasted quite simply that he’d stolen the
idea of the act from America. He’d seen it done at the 'World’s Fair' in Chicago.
Dress designing is his forte. Up in Rawalpindi where he is stationed they
have their slack periods between ENSA parties and he does ‘exclusive designs’
as ‘Michael’ in the dress shop of a lady friend. He likes to study his subject
and always attends fittings. He’s done a gown for a major-generals wife and
is now about to go into the groove over a wedding. ‘Solid silver larmy he
says. ‘The bride has a mahvlus figure'.
~ Joyce Grenfell
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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #8 on: 2010-11-30 14:40:12 »
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Quote from: Blunderov on 2010-11-30 10:58:54   

30 November

<snip> and though we passed through some of the most wretched-
looking slums, where the people were all in tatters, and many very Irish-
they were most loyal and demonstrative. There was not one unkind
look or dissatisfied expression; everyone, without exception, being kind and
friendly. Great as the enthusiasm used always to be wherever dearest Albert
and I appeared, there was something peculiar and touching in the joy and
even emotion with which the people greeted their poor widowed Queen!
~ Queen Victoria

Very Irish looking ..... ... ya got to love it !


PS: Great posts [BL] !!! Thx Fritz
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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #9 on: 2010-12-01 04:12:09 »
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[Blunderov] @Fritz. Glad you're enjoying them. Thanks for adding value
(This thread needs moar words.)

1 December
This morning, observing some things to be laid up not as they should be by
the girl, I took a broom and basted her till she cried extremely which made
me vexed, but before I went out I left her appeased.
~Samuel Pepys

On Tuesday I wanted to have a silver-hilted sword, but upon examining my
pockets as I walked up the Strand, I found that I had left most of my guineas
at home and had not enough to pay for it with me. I determined to make
a trial of the civility of my fellow-creatures, and what effect my external
appearance and address would have. I accordingly went to the shop of Mr
Jefferys, sword-cutter to his Majesty, looked at a number of his swords, and
at last picked out a very handsome one at five guineas. ‘Mr Jefferys,’ said I,
‘I have not money here to pay for it. Will you trust me?’ “Upon my word,
Sir,’ said he, ‘you must excuse me. It is a thing we never do to a stranger' I
bowed genteelly and said, ‘Indeed, Sir, I believe it is not right' However, I
stood and looked at him, and he looked at me. ‘Come, Sir,’ cried he, ‘I will
trust you.’ ‘Sir,’ said I, “if you had not trusted me, I should not have bought
it from you.’ He asked my name and place of abode, which I told him. I
then chose a belt, put the sword on, told him I would call and pay it tomor-
row; and walked off. I called this day and paid him. ‘Mr Jefferys,’ said I, ‘there
is your money.You paid me a very great compliment. I am much obliged to
you. But pray don’t do such a thing again. It is dangerous' ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘we
know our men. I would have trusted you with the value of a hundred pounds.'
This I think was a good adventure and much to my honour.
~James Boswell

A fine sunny and frosty morning. Mary [Hutchinson, later wife of William
Wordsworth] and I walked to Rydale for letters, William was not well and
staid at home reading after having lain long in bed.We found a Letter from
Coleridge, a short one - he was pretty well. We were overtaken by two
soldiers on our return - one of them being very drunk and we wished them
to pass us, but they had too much liquor in them to go very fast so we
contrived to pass them - they were very merry and very civil. They fought
with the mountains with their sticks . . .They never saw such a wild country
though one of them was a Scotchman. They were honest looking fellows.
The Corporal said he was frightened to see the Road before them. We met
Wm at Sara’s gate. He went back intending to go round the lake but having
attempted to cross the water and not succeeding he came back.The Simpsons
Mr and Miss drank tea with us - Wm was very poorly and out of spirits.
They stayed supper.
~Dorothy Wordsworth

Nimiec has an anecdote, unsavoury if illustrative, which should find a place
in the appendix to Harington’s Metarmorphoses; he arrived at a fishing village
in Merlera on one of his fishing jaunts, and was housed in a small cottage
with an earth lavatory primitive and so full of flies that he drew the atten-
tion of his host to its condition. His host said briskly, ‘Flies? Of course there
are flies. If you could do as we all do and wait until just before the midday
meal you would not find a fly in the lavatory They all come round to the
~Lawrence Durrell

I am sure that the only good diaries are those written by a writer who is
constantly coming upon important people in the great world; and by a writer
who stays at home, goes nowhere, sees few people and sticks to the common
round. Such a writer has time to ruminate and observe his surroundings. He
alone can paint a picture of his complete life, little though it may be. Such
a person is Francis Kilvert.
~Jarnes Levy-Milner

This week saw the removal of Mrs Thatcher from Number 10, and appar-
ently, as she left the building, people detected a tear in her eye. But she turned
up in the House the following day, sitting in the seat Geoffrey Howe had
occupied when he had made his resignation speech, and she listened to John
Major. According to the opinion poll, Labour is slipping and the Tories are
rising, and I think the media have at last found a candidate they can openly
and uncritically support.
~Tony Benn

1990 [Muscat]
Last night another huge dinner, given by the distinguished Doctor Omar. In
contrast to the previous evening the pleasures of the flesh were much in
evidence. Lashings of alcohol - the claret was all ’85 and there were some
wonderful white Burgundies. Sinuous and scented lovelies shimmered about.
At the end of the meal a belly dancer performed. On and on she went
with graceful, but ever more suggestive rhythms. Her stamina was unbeliev-
able and never once did she repeat herself From time to time she ‘fixed’
particular guests in their places, a special treat.

There was a French Admiral sitting next to me, his face expressionless. I
said, it helps one to understand how women can experience ten or eleven
orgasms in one night. Myself, three render me complétement, totalement épuisé.
Ruefully he agreed.
~Alan Clark
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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #10 on: 2010-12-02 04:19:27 »
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2 December

When I came home, I found that my wife had been reading this journal and
though I had used Greek letters, had understood my visits to ------.
She spoke to me of it with so much reason and spirit that, as I candidly
owned my folly, so I was impressed with proper feelings; and, without more
argument than that it was disagreeable to so excellent a spouse, resolved firmly
to keep clear.

And when I reflected calmly I thought it lucky that my journal had been
read, as it gave an opportunity to check in the beginning what might have
produced much mischief I wondered at my temporary dissipation of thought
when I saw the effects of my conduct. I valued and loved my wife with
renewed fervour.
~James Boswell

After the Company was all gone and we thought everything were agree-
able and happy in my house, we were of a sudden alarmed by a great Noise
in the kitchen, and on my immediately going out there found my Servant
Man Will: Coleman beating about the Maids in a terrible manner and
appeared quite frantic and mad. I seized him by the Collar and as soon as
he was loose, he ran out into the Yard and jumped into the Pond there in
a moment but he was soon taken up by Ben, which frightened us so much
that we were obliged to sit up all night.We got him to bed however about
1 o’clock and after some time he was somewhat quiet — but it frightened
us so much and Nancy and self did not go to bed till 6 in the morning.
Ben and jack did not go to bed at all. The reason of his being so, was on
Lizzy’s Account, as he wants to marry her and she will not, and he is very
jealous. Am afraid however that it proceeds from a family complaint, his
Father having been crazy some time. It is therefore now high time for him
to leave me which I shall endeavour to do the first opportunity. It made
me very ill almost instantly and made my niece very unhappy as well as ill
~Rev.James Woodforde

1958 .
Charlie Pannell told me today his delightful story of his visit to Anglesey to
speak for Cledwyn Hughes.Throughout his speech he was much struck by
an old man who sat there impressively with his head on his stick. Charlie
said he couldn’t keep his eyes off him, and after the meeting asked Cledwyn
who he was. Cledwyn said he was an old, old man well over ninety who
had been a friend of Lloyd George.
‘Go and talk to him,’ said Cledwyn. ‘He’d be delighted'.
Charlie moved to the back of the hall and sat down beside the old man.
“Sir,’ he said, for he couldn’t address him in any other way, ‘I understand
you knew Lloyd George.’
The old man raised his head slowly and spoke. “Lloyd George' he said,
“had a prick like a donkey'.
Charlie was taken aback. ‘Ah, well' he said. “He was a man of many parts'.
‘I know he was,’ said the old man. ‘And he’ll be remembered more for
that part than any other'. He gave a deep chuckle.
~ Tony Benn

In Nottingham for a talk to undergraduates on politics. We stayed with
one Owen, the excellent university chaplain. I said it seemed to me that
undergraduates, though now legally adults at eighteen, are even less mature
than they used to be. Owen said this was indeed so. Ruth thought the
university more of a youth club than a seat of learning. Though half the
students live in, they mostly go home at weekends to be with their girl-
~ Cecil King
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3 December

Great news stirring in that volcanic Paris. The President has dissolved the
Assembly and appealed to the people and the army; he establishes universal
suffrage, and has arrested his political opponents. How will it end? Shall we
have a Cromwell junior, or will blood flow there again like water? One learns
to give thanks for being born in England.
~Caroline Fox

We went for a House run to Nearer Steep Down today. No one could find
the way We stopped a hundred yards too soon; a great white sea mist hung
all over the downs and was wet on our bare chests; it seemed to heave and
creep up the edges of the slopes. And Mr Einstein has discovered a new
theory of the universe!
~Evelyn Waugh

The squirrel-faced lift-woman was talking away volubly last night about the
English — ‘The greatest race on earth,’ she said. ‘Never has been anything like
us — never will be. Look the way we bore the brunt of the war yet we never
talk about ourselves — no swank - we just get on with the job.’

The Americans in London are a well-behaved tolerant army of occupa-
tion. They are so polite that one almost hears their thoughts and they are
thinking, ‘These poor, quaint people. They have guts but - backward, reac-
tionary’ And the English with their kindly street directions thinking behind
shut faces, ‘These people have not got what it takes - no breeding - an in-
ferior race but, damn them, they have the money and the power. We can
only dominate them by character, our national asset from which we can
always cut and come again'.

The two races and the two arms mingle in street and pub without ever
touching except for the collaborating little factory girls who chew gum, wear
their hair a la Lana Turner and queue up for movies hand-in-hand with their
protectors. The American men are so different with the women. They fondle
them in the street, always a hand splaying over breast or buttock. Loose-limbed
they amble at the girl-friend’s side whispering in her ear, pinching her behind,
their two mouths rhythmically moving in unison - so different fiom the wooden
Englishman walking side by side with his girl not seeming to see her except
for covert glances and the occasional clumsy touch of his hand on hers.
~Charles Ritchie

4 December

In the Stock Exchange today: ‘There,’ said Conrad, who is pleased to point
out celebrities to me, ‘is Mr Fleischmann. He is known as Louis XIV - Louis
because it is his name; XIV because he is never asked out to dinner except
when they would be thirteen without him.’ It is his partner, by the way the
melancholy Messel, who has never been known to smile except once when
he had the luck to see a child run over by a motor-bus in Threadneedle Street.
~Sir Alan ‘Tommy’ Lascelles

One word of slight snub in the [Times] Lit. Sup. today makes me determine,
first, to alter the whole of The Waves; second, to put my back up against the
public - one word of slight snub.
~Virginia Woolf

I felt the day not a failure because at night perhaps I kept Jon [her small son]
from one fear; he said he didn’t want me to turn the light out, that he didn’t
like the dark. I thought in that second of my long fight against fear of the
dark, as a child, and tried to think of something nice to say to him. ‘Don’t
you like the dark, jon? It’s like a big blanket over you - like the blanket of
leaves and grass over the Bowers in the garden we saw this afternoon, so the
Bowers can sleep all covered up in the dark'.

Jon smiled, relenting: “I like the dark'. And after I’d gone out and turned
off the light and shut the door, I heard him calling out to me, ‘I like the
darkl’ I called back, ‘Yes, darlingl’
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The papers are full of the adventures of King Edward VIII who is madly in
love with a charming American and wants to marry her. The clergy; severe and
cold, have expressed their displeasure. They allege that coronation is a sacra-
ment, that a king’s wife must be a queen, and that because Mrs Simpson has
been divorced she can’t possibly fulfil the conditions. Give way or abdicate.
The King does not want to give way; the Duke of York is getting ready to
take his place. What a beautiful love story! The people of England are quite
crestfallen. They seem to be very fond of their king, who on his side has lent
himself to the job’s innumerable demands with great good will and much style.
~Liane de Pougy

Watch the newsreel with the Fuhrer, who is very pleased with it. The shots
of London burning make a particularly profound impression on him. He also
takes careful note of the pessimistic opinions from the USA.

Nevertheless, he does not expect the immediate collapse of England and
probably rightly The ruling class there has now lost so much that it is bring-
ing up its last reserves. By which he means not so much the City of London
as the Jews, who if we win will be hurled out of Europe, and Churchill,
Eden, etc., who see their personal existences as dependent on the outcome
of the war. Perhaps they will end up on the scaffold. We can expect little
resistance to them from the masses at the moment. The English proletariat
lives under such wretched conditions that a few extra privations will not
cause it much discomfort. There will be no revolution, anyway because the
opportunity is lacking. England will thus survive through this winter , . .The
Fiihrer does not intend to mount any air-raids at Christmas. Churchill, in his
madness, will do so, and then the English will be treated to revenge raids
that will make their eyes pop.
~Josef Goebbels

Thinking over what I have written."What a pack of lies intimate journals are,
particularly if one tries too hard to be truthful.
~Charles Ritchie

1982 [New York]
One change that has come over public manners was evident at the Falklands
homecomings. Combatants (the only airman captured by the Argentinians,
for instance), asked what is the first thing they are going to do when they
get home, grin cheekily One says, ‘Well, what do you think?’ and doubtless
others actually do say ‘I’m going to fuck someone silly’ Once upon a time
they would have said, at any rate, ‘Have a nice cup of tea.’
~Alan Bennett
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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #12 on: 2010-12-05 14:47:49 »
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5  December

Up, it being a snow and hard frost, and being up I did call up Sarah, who
do go away to-day or to-morrow I paid her her wages, and gave her 10s.
myself, and my wife 5s. to give her. For my part I think never servant and
mistress parted upon such foolish terms in the world as they do, only for an
opinion in my wife that she is ill-natured, in all other things being a good
servant. The wench cried, and I was ready to cry too, but to keep peace I
am content she should go. ’
~Samuel Pepys

‘Besides, it’s very simple,’ said that excellent lady at that excellent luncheon
yesterday . . .‘Besides, it’s very simple: if I didn’t have servants I couldn’t knit
any more for the poor.’
~André Gide

I944 [Bombay]
We were taken to a flat owned by a very pretty Indian author, style Ivor
Novello, and a sibilant friend whose name, appropriately sounded like Rodent.
There we found a collection of pansies that fair shook us.

Soldiers, sailors and one airman.Waving hair, gestures of the ‘my dear’ sort
and soft, gentle, wholly peculiar eyes and voices. Into this set-up arrived three
black-haired popsies of extraordinary curve and chocolate-box looks. Just
what they were doing there I cannot tell. We sat on a large bed in a big
room, with a number of books and some fretwork Victorian furniture and
time went sluggishly by Bruce and I exchanged news and views and raised
our eyebrows; Viola was pinned in conversation by an elderly art critic.
Liveliness was not the keynote of the evening and at 1.30 we slipped away
and drove home through the balmy moonlight.
~Joyce Grenfall

Fundamentally, the pleasure of kissing is no more than that of eating. If there
were embargoes on eating, as there are on kissing, a whole ideology would
come into existence, a passion for eating, with standards of chivalry. This
ecstasy they talk about - the vision, the dreams evoked by a kiss - is no more
than the pleasure of biting into a medlar or a grape fresh from the vine. One
can do without it.
~Cesare Pavese
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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #13 on: 2010-12-06 01:44:59 »
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6 December

This journal is a relief When I am tired - as I generally am - out comes
this, and down goes every thing. But I can’t read it over; - and God knows
what contradictions it may contain. If` I am sincere with myself (but I fear
one lies more to one’s self than to any one else), every page should confute,
refute, and utterly abjure its predecessor.
~Lord Byron

I In the evening we reached the island. of San Pedro, where we found the
Beagle at anchor. In doubling the point, two of the officers landed to take a
round of angles with the theodolite. A fox (Canis fulvipes) of a kind said to
be peculiar to the island and very rare in it, and which is a new species, was
sitting on the rocks. He was so intently absorbed in watching the work of
the officers that I was able, by quietly walking up behind, to knock him on
the head with my geological hammer. This fox, more curious or more scien-
tific, but less wise, than the generality of his brethren, is now mounted in the
museum of the Zoological Society.
~Charles Darwin

I857 [on a Mississippi steamer]
I had no time to tell of my long conversation. with the Honourable Wilham
Haskell, one of the representatives of Kentucky and his daughter. He was a
fine fellow tall and strong like all these Kentuckians, but so strangely ignorant
of the commonestt things. He asked me the hours of the House of Commons
sittings. I said from seven or eight o’clock a.m. to twelve or one a.m. He
turned round and said to his daughter Juliet, ‘You know when the lady says
seven, that is not the same as seven with us; it is a great deal earlier in the
day because the sun sets earlier by some hours,’ and I could not make him
understand it was the same as seven with them! Miss Juliet was a specimen
of a Southern lady. She could not travel alone; she was pale and looked dissi-
pated. She had been brought up in the Great Convent at Washington where
fashionable Southerns go for education and where they are worked so hard
that (she said) all had complexions like hers afer a year of school. I never
heard of a worse system of education in my life, and, according to her account,
the girls were as bad as the system - intriguing, lying creatures - Miss Juliet
told stories of the way in which lovers were got into the convent in disguise,
and this before three young men in the coach who very much admired her
conversation. She was a horrid animal. She told me her mother was married
at thirteen and her sister at fifteen and says it is the custom in the Slave States.
So Mrs P said; she herself was married at fifteen and her husband’s first wife
was fifteen. Miss Juliet could not walk a mile, says few South state American
women can; so say all the ladies here in the boat. Slavery makes all labour
dishonourable and walking gets to be thought a labour, an exertion.
~Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon

Button-punching from channel to channel last night I finally alighted on
BBC2 sometime after nine o`clock.We thought we were seeing things. And
indeed we were. We were confronted by a row of bare bums, bent over and
chattering and singing through their anuses. O horribilis! O horribilis! Most
horribilis! ‘How do they do that?’ With Latex buttocks and human lips I
suppose. Come back, Mary Whitehouse. All is forgiven.
~Alec Guinness
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Re:The Assassin's Cloak
« Reply #14 on: 2010-12-07 14:40:04 »
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7 December

Awoke and up an hour before being called; but dawdled three hours in dress-
ing. When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation), — sleep, eating,
and swilling — buttoning and unbuttoning —— how much remains of down-
right existence? The summer of a dormouse.
~Lord Byron

Going into a shop to buy some photographs the shopman, who was also a
photographer, brought out by the way of temptation various portraits of nude
& semi-nude women, which he himself had taken. I enquired what manner
of women they were, who were willing to have pictures of their naked bodies
taken, and sold to strangers at 2/- each: of course they are virtually prosti-
tutes? “Not at all, Sir!’ cries the worthy photographer, indignant: ‘this one’
(holding up a stark naked figure) ‘is herself an artist, and was a governess. No,
No — they wouldn’t do anything of that: a girl has no need to go on the
streets when she can earn five or six pounds a week, by this sort of thing &
sitting to the Academy!’ Nearly &300 a year to be earned by simply sitting
in a chair without any clothes on: no wonder such a trade is preferred to
the hard and self—accusing life of a prostitute! Nevertheless, one would say
on the whole that these delicate gradations of female modesty are somewhat
inexplicable to the coarser masculine mind . . .
~D Arthur E Munby

Now we are — without a King? With a Queen? What? The Simpson affair
is on the surface. It was on Wednesday 2 December that the Bishop [of
Bradford] commented on the King’s lack of religion. On Thursday all the
papers, The Times and Daily Telegraph very discreetly mentioned some
domestic difiiculties; others Mrs Simpson. All London was gay and garrulous
- not exactly gay, but excited. We can’t have a woman Simpson for Queen,
that was the sense of it. She’s no more royal that you or me, was what the
grocer’s young woman said. But today we have developed a strong sense of
human sympathy: we are saying hang it all —— the age of Victoria is over. Let
him marry whom he likes. Harold [Nicolson] is glum as an undertaker, as
are the other nobs. They say Royalty is in Peril. The Empire is divided. In
fact never has there been such a crisis. Spain, Germany Russia — all are
elbowed out. Parties are forming. The different interests are queuing up
behind [Stanley] Baldwin or Churchill. [Oswald] Mosley is taking advantage
of the crisis for his ends. In fact we are all talking nineteen to the dozen;
and it looks as if this one little insignificant man had moved a pebble which
dislodges an avalanche. Things — empires, hierarchies, moralities - will never
be the same again.
~Virginia Woolf
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