And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

2 April

Augusta, duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

‘The moon shines cold and bright in a cloudless sky. The mild breath of Spring has given way to cold biting east winds. It seems as if nature has allied itself with humanity to destroy all thoughts of happiness. There are nothing but storms in the atmosphere and amongst men. Poor Germany, what will thy fate yet be, given over to the caprices of a despot, who recognises no law but his own will, who sets no limit to his own lust for power, and to whom all means are justifiable to gratify this passion.

Soon to be under the yoke of an arrogant, grasping people, what future can my poor devastated country expect, she who once in olden days, defied the Roman Eagle! When the short shameful war broke out, I foresaw a dark future, but now that war has ended so disastrously my heart is filled with a nameless dread. Slowly and heavily the storm is creeping over Saxony. I wonder where I shall finish these entries and in what place I shall lay my weary head to rest, after life’s storms have passed over me?’

Amply rewarded

Francis Edward Witts,

‘We walked to Over Bridge to view the site of the new bridge over the Severn, building under the direction of Mr. Telford, by the County. The work is in progress; many labourers, excavators, etc. were employed. On one side the masonry of an abutment is in a forward state, on the other they are driving the piles. There were collected great heaps of fine stone ready squared in large blocks, of different sorts, for the foundation and superstructure. A steam engine was erecting, and several cranes were in operation, lifting masses of stone from the barges in which they were conveyed.’

Upper Slaughter’s squire


John A. Dahlgren,
naval commander

‘I went down to Mt. Vernon with the President, some members of his family, and others. I advised the President not to land, and remained in the boat with him. General McClellan went down yesterday. Troops still going. Must be nearly 100,000 men at Old Point.’

The ‘father’ of US naval ordnance


Maud Berridge,

‘As the ship is steadier and the weather fine, there are preparations going on for theatricals to come tomorrow evening. Bombastes Furioso has been rehearsed for a week or two by four of the gentlemen. All morning I have been at work on a muslin cap for ‘Dastafenia’, making some braids of flax to represent hair and flowing curls. With the aid of a little rouge, my cotton dressing gown, an apron, mittens etc Mr Parkin was a very good ‘get up’.

It is wonderful the resources one has to fly to on board ship for fancy dress. The king’s crown was tin, decorated with little figures, a crimson shirt, white ducks, sea boots turned over with brown paper, and a ladies fur-lined cloak turned inside out made quite a regal-looking personage. The Prime Minister had a wig with a queue, knee breeches, low shoes with large pasteboard buckles. The coat trimmed with ruffles at neck and waist, also an imitation gold lace made out of rope, the effect of which was admirable. I made a bouquet of artificial flowers for a man to give a lady after the singing of ‘For ever and for ever’, which we had a strong suspicion was a burlesque on the young lady who practices [sic] so assiduously. We all enjoyed the play, which went off without a hitch, and was only too short. Lat 17º 35’ Long 29º 45’ Distance 199.’

Rushing through the water


Thomas Cobden-Sanderson,

‘I went on to St James’s to see the Graham pictures on view at Christie’s. Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Millais and F. Walker - prodigious performances. They, and the works of Millais and Holman Hunt on view in Bond Street, constitute a body of art which quite startles by its greatness.’

Innumerable ripples; countless diamonds


Raja Varma,

‘Last night the Nizam entertained Lord Curzon at dinner at the Chow Mahal Palace. We had also gone there. The streets from the Residency to the palace were splendidly illuminated. The palace itself presented a scene of unrivalled splendour. When the dinner was over there was a fine display of fire-works, after which the party dispersed, big drops of rain from a passing cloud having commenced to fell to the inconvenience of those present.’

Painting with brothee


Robert Musil,

‘Today I’m beginning a diary; I do not usually keep one but I feel a distinct need to do so now. After four years of diffusion it will give me the opportunity to find that line of spiritual development again that I consider to be properly mine. . . I shall try to carry forward into it “banners from a battle that has never been fought.” Thoughts from that time of great upheaval are to be re-examined, sorted through and developed. One or other of my scattered notes is to be taken up in this process but only when it captures my attention again.’

A man with qualities


Reginald Marsh,

‘Rainy day. I got a haircut. Nothing doing all the afternoon.’

Pictures and vaudeville


Gottlob Frege,

‘Already before the war, the view that the economic condition of the poor employees could and had to be improved at the expense of the employers infected a wide circle of the German people, far beyond the boundaries of Social Democracy, like a contagious disease, and this infection of the German people continues up to the present. Until it recedes, one cannot hope for a real recovery of the German people. Only by improving the economic condition of the whole nation can the economic condition of the poor social stratum be permanently improved. How can that happen? The debts and other obligations of the Reich are, if at all possible, not to be increased. Against this, a Reich treasure is to be accumulated.20 This project must be held to tenaciously.’

Reprehensible social views


John Fowles,

‘We got married today; a grey day, a grey day, but mist-grey; and the mist cleared when we went off; E in a pale yellowy-green suit, olive shoes, an egg-custard-yellow hat. We met the Kemps, whom we haven’t seen for months, but they do not change; if we saw them after a thousand years it would be like a week - we met them at Belsize Park, had a drink. I felt nervous; didn’t want to be seen, as no one at the college knows. I’m going back tomorrow; and couldn’t stand the odd looks such unromantic behaviour would bring me. But no one saw us; we slipped in. A sort of boardroom with canvas and steel tube pile-chairs; a large gilt basket of faded flowers; two men, one rather bored and beery, the other suave. The silly little ritual, so short, so empty. Outside a tired little garden, and the chimney of the hospital furnace gently smoking in the pale blue sky. I paid the 11/3, we slipped out, up the road to the nearest pub. Then home to our nice new flat, and a nice good lunch, and Asti Spumante, and the sun in the room, and a feeling that it is good to be married, because it was fundamentally unnecessary - marriage won’t alter our relationship which is outside anthropology; because none the less we are now what the others think, or expect, or hope, we are - legal; and as a sort of symbol, a crowned, sealed look-we-have-come- throughness.

The Kemps gave us a pepper-mill; and a friend of E’s, a Canadian architect, brash, glossy, like a sober American car, bought a nice Persian vase.

So we’re married.’

Nature of the diarist


John Reith,
businessman and politician

‘The Dean of Westminster wrote asking me to come to a service on the 19th to signalize the start of the Number Two television BBC. I wouldn’t on any account go to that, nor to anything associated with the BBC.’

Reith on Hitler, Churchill


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And so made significant . . .
is the world’s greatest online anthology of diary extracts. It is presented in the same way as popular books like The Assassin’s Cloak and The Faber Book of Diaries, i.e. by calendar day, but contains more, and many longer, extracts than is possible in published books. Moreover, for each quoted extract there’s a link to a Diary Review article with some or all of the following: further extracts, biographical information, contexts, a portrait, and links to online sources/etexts. Furthermore, new extracts are added on a regular basis.

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Notes and Cautions
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.

For any other use of these diary extracts other than browsing please refer to the original sources.

Any author, publisher or other copyright holder who takes the view that I am unacceptably breaching their copyright please let me know. I have tried to remain sensitive to copyright rules (using far fewer quotes, for example, when a book, by an author still alive, remains in print and popular), but it is not practical for me to seek authorisation for every quote and article, since I maintain these websites without any funding or advertis-ing. I take the view that publicity for the source books is a quid pro quo for my use of the extracts, but I am more than happy to remove the extracts if asked.

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The Diary Junction is one of those wonderful privately maintained public resources for which the Internet is justly celebrated: a database of information about celebrated and obscure diaries[over 500] from all historical periods, with referrals to the dates the diaries cover, where the originals are held and bibliographic information on published versions.’ Laura Miller, Salon

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.