And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

10 August

Robert Hooke,

‘Received a note from Tillotson to Direct masons at Paules, the Bishop of Londons kindnesse. Directed Lamb about universall map. Calld at Lever Pits to fetch back a bad globe. at Gerrards, Goldsmith at Holburn bridge, Bloomsberry, Sir Ch. Wrens, to Paules. at Childs with Sir Ch. Wren, told him my designes of mapps, my equation of springs. took of Pit book of Education 2sh., borrowd Sansoms 43 mapps. Haak here. Grace bound Bocconi and Oughtred. Began introduction to Atlas from Lamb 4 sheets of the North Col. hemisphere. ill and melancholy.’

Boglice round the neck


William Tayler,

‘It’s Brighton Races today. Have been on the race course all the afternoon. I never felt the heat so much before in my life. There were whores and rogues in abundance and gambleing tables plenty and everything elce that is jeneraly at races. The town is very full on account of it.’

A wretched bad writer


Richard Wagner,

‘Late yesterday evening during the wearisome ascent, I was gazing - dog-tired - longingly upwards to discern at last the goal of our march, when, above the edge of the mountain, I caught sight of the first brightly twinkling star. Not bothering much about the direction, I took it for the evening star, and hailed it loudly - ‘Cosima’. That gave me heart. It was quite wonderful. The star got ever brighter - quite alone, no other star. It was completely dark by the time I go up there far ahead of all the men, with a big bunch of keys to open the lodge. Luckily I got the last one to fit, tried to find my way about in the dark, found the King’s sleeping place, and stretched out bathed in sweat, dog-tired. The men arrived. God, before Franz [manservant] produced a light! There was marvellous confusion. Now alone with Franz. Completely in the wilds. No water to be found. Where is there a spring? We hadn’t asked. Much groping about mountain and forest. In vain. Laborious changing of clothes - ah, what a muddle. Finally, bread, wine, sausage. But no water. So mineral water - brought for the cure - had to be unpacked. Arrival of good mood.’ [Wagner went to stay in King Ludwig’s mountain hut on Hochkopf and was ill almost constantly.]

How storms rage ever


John Dearman Birchall,

‘Constant rain. The county near here is dreadfully flooded and accounts are bad from all parts of the country. Potato disease prevails; foot and mouth amongst cattle. The seven milk cows have had it here, and now the sheep have it in their feet, swollen, mattering and maggoty, with the most disgusting stench. The quantity of keep in the park, and the dreadful wet season seem the natural causes. The sheep are sore, without wool and often bleeding in their breasts from lying in wet grass. It is thought they had better continue in the park in the hope of recovery which I suggest might be accelerated by nursing in a dry barn or what not.’

The tricycle diaries


Emmeline Wells,

‘The upper porch is nearly finished, the men cut off lots of branches while I was away and made me feel dreadful, I never intended anything of the sort, Mell & Em. went down to Mary Ann’s, Lizzie Heisel went to Lile’s today - I am not feeling well and am so low-spirited tomorrow is my husband’s trial towards evening Mrs. Nancy Dixon came here and said she was destitute of a home, I told her to stay until I could see what could be done for her in our Society; how dreadful to be left in one’s old age dependent upon strangers, and broken down in health, God help me that I may never be left thus friendless; I feel as if I could not turn any one away and especially a mother, my heart aches for the mothers, Mr. Wilson came and spent the evening also Richard [J.] Taylor;’

Heart aches for the mothers


Arthur Conan Doyle,

‘Up at 8 AM to see the land bearing WSW on the Starboard bow. Half a gale blowing and the old Hope steaming away into a head sea like Billy. The green grass on shore looks very cool and refreshing to me after nearly 6 months never seeing it, but the houses look revolting. I hate the vulgar hum of men and would like to be back at the floes again.

Passed the skerry light, and came down to Lerwick but did not get into the harbour as we are in a hurry to catch the tide at Peterhead, so there goes all my letters, papers and everything else. A girl was seen at the lighthouse waving a handkerchief and all hands were called to look at her. The first woman we have seen for half a year.’

Arctic Sea adventure


Jean-Martin Charcot,

‘Soon we reach the 1st Moroccan doorway, a square house, which sits atop a high hill. Two Moors of the Emperor who are to accompany us emerge; one carries a gun, the other a bag. These 2 do not join in with our group. Sometimes they approach, then at other times they disappear - only to reappear a little afterwards at a turn in the way . . . they are definitely strange; as well they have a rather unhealthy look about them with their caped robes that seem to be soaked with sweat.

We have been walking perhaps 2 hours when suddenly the plain widens out. In the middle we see a castle in ruins covered with ivy - not far off, some stones are piled up in a way that marks off an oval shape of earth. It is a tomb. There are many others. On a few of the tombs, red rags hang from sticks planted in the ground, rags now faded which must have formerly had a beautiful red color. They mark the tomb of a chieftain, more or less canonized and elevated to the level of a saint. It was here that the battle against the Moroccans took place which led to the march on Tetuan. More than 20 years ago, all that. The name Prim returns to mind. We walk on and keep on walking. From time to time I look at my watch. We’re going to get to the Moor’s place soon, no doubt! By this time hunger and thirst have set in. But where is this the devil of a house of the Moor? We don’t see it. Here are a few trees and rocks. We have lost sight of the sea. Anxiously, we walk on for nearly an hour; devil of a house gone astray. We begin to berate the Moors of the Emperor who led us down this wrong path. At last, there it is, a hut scarcely above the ground, hidden among the underbrush and tall cactus. [. . .]

I get up and rejoin the group drinking water, who are sharing a watermelon. On the mound where they are sitting, there is no more space. One of the Moors of the King noticed; he goes up to my son and, tapping him gently on the shoulder, says to him, in Spanish, “Your father is not seated.” My son gets up and I sit down in his place. An example of Arab manners that is in sum very edifying and which demonstrates that, even if we are among the people of Barbary, we are not with barbarians.’

The father of neurology


Henry Arnold,

‘[Argentia, Newfoundland] Tried to copy Freeman’s British program for a fighting air strength of 10,000, [planes including] 4.000 H. B. [heavy bombers]; the thing scares me, it is so big and I know that they cannot meet it. British prod. [production of] H. B. [heavy bombers] 500 a month, US prod. H. B. 500 a month. We can’t do it as easily as that: 2,000 pilots a month. Where will they come from? Wishful thinking.

Time for boat to Prince of Wales, waited 30 minutes. US Destroyer came alongside. President came aboard, band playing Star Spangled Banner, sailors all paraded on afterdeck. Each Chief of Staff with his opposite: Pound. Stark; Dill. Marshall; Freeman, Arnold; Roosevelt, Churchill sitting out in front, in center of hollow square. Church services very impressive.

After church, conference with Freeman. His program is now clear: Britain has built it around our entire production; 100% of all planes produced in US go to Britain; US Army, Navy, Dutch, Chinese, get none; Britain gets all. [US] O P M [Office of Production Management] figures have at last confused almost everyone; believe it wrong to send them out so indiscriminately. Freeman told of misapplication of figures and deliveries and very much disappointed. Told him I could not change policies, all I could do was to make recommendations re change of policies.

Lunch call came while talking. Officers, US Navy, British Navy, Air Forces, Armies, all assembled in Ward Room, sherry; President and Prime Minister went in to lunch and the rest of us. Table seating attached. Prince of Wales withdrew from action with Bismarck. Had Bismarck followed with attack perhaps Prince of Wales, being more or less out of action, would not have come off so light. However, Bismarck missed that bus. After lunch. PM toasted President: President toasted King [George VI]. Good lunch: caviar, vodka, mock turtle soup, grouse, champagne, potatoes, peas, rolls, ice cream with cherry sauce, port, coffee, brandy. PM and President both spoke for a few minutes. President withdrew.

Destroyer told by Admiral Pound we would have a meeting of Chiefs of Staff. Waiting with Freeman then Stark and Marshall went aboard destroyer with President. Destroyer pulled away amid cheers from British sailors. No staff meeting until 9:00 a.m. Monday. Stopped and chatted with the PM awhile. Captain of ship told me that my boat was ready. Said goodbye to PM. Much to my surprise saw marines, band and sailors lined up at gangplank. They gave me a send-off as a Chief of Staff, I did my best to receive it as one. Back to Tuscaloosa with Burns, 4:50 P.M.

This has been a most interesting day. The church service out on deck in Placentia Bay with British warships. Canadian corvettes and destroyers and US warships was most inspiring. I can’t make up mind as yet whether most of us are window dressing for the main actors or whether we are playing minor roles in the show. Freeman will not talk training nor has he as yet been willing to take up civilian aid in the Near East. Looked over [British] Chiefs of Staff memo re the strategic situation. It is a sound paper in some respects from my point of view but needs study, much study before we accept it.

Back to Augusta at 5:50: Marshall, Dill. Freeman, Arnold, Burns. Watson in with President: PM Churchill joined later. Talked over production of tanks, big bombers, increase of production, Liberia airfields, Dakar, Azores, Cape Verdes, Canaries, Azores. Still talking priorities and their all-around effect when 7:00 came up and we had to get out.

Fog and high rain as we took off in barge and went aboard the Prince of Wales; that is the weather I had heard was normal in Newfoundland. We have been very fortunate so far. Sat around for a while in the Admiral’s cabin waiting for the dinner guests of General Dill: Dill, Marshall, Freeman, Welles, Cadogan, Burns, Hollis, Bundy, Leach and Arnold.

Leach, captain of Prince of Wales: it was in Scapa Flow with men from yards still in turrets when it received word to take off in pursuit of Bismarck. Captain was away fishing; he returned posthaste and arrived before steam was fully up to pressure. Ship must have been hit badly as Captain said the carnage, wounded and dead on bridge was so bad that he withdrew from action. He was only man not wounded or killed. They had a hard time intercepting the Bismarck, their courses approached at 90°, but due to snow and sleet missed. Then he changed course and paralleled Bismarck until they made contact. Home to Tuscaloosa in rain at 11:00 p.m.’

A five star general


Northrop Frye,

‘Bitched the day, celebrating because Ned [Pratt] liked the Blake. Show at night. Thurber’s “Male Animal.” Not bad: but Henry James was a bad dramatist and a master of Thurber’s. The main theme, a hot-headed undergraduate editor turning a piece of ordinary teaching routine into a crusade, is sound. The episodic clowning with his wife was a bit weak. But the Chairman of Trustees was too crude: one never gets them like that. They always turn up quoting Holy Scripture and John Stuart Mill on Liberty. A novel about a similar situation with the weakling’s endlessly rationalizing would be all right. The other show was a bad English thriller based on fake ‘psychology’: Flora Robson writing poison-pen letters because she was a spinster & her maternal impulse was frustrated. [. . .]

Mary [Winspear] said the last person to have real intellectual guts was Bernard Shaw. I said writers were becoming a stereotype, a Brahmin caste, and I trotted out my anatomy theory. If I ever get around to writing a novel called Liberal, the motto for which will be Isaiah 32:8, I want a sentimental weather-cocky Craggish hero with an anatomic Jack counterpoint and a fantastic Regillus one. When my ideas are major, why is my execution so miserably stupid: is it just lack of practice? My opening scene with Kennedy is all right if he reinforces the liberalism. But it’s so bloody Quixotic to think in terms of Dostoievsky and produce something on the level of Cosmopolitan or Maclean’s. I‘m getting fed up with it and all my wool-gathering dreary accidia.’

Buggering around aimlessly


Archie Edmiston Roy,
astronomer and teacher

‘On Saturday, Mother, when we were walking along the Bottom Avenue, asked me whether I would not like to enter business, and certainly I feel myself that I have a business mind, although I am simultaneously so romantic in temperament. Mother’s idea was that, as the possessor of a shop or two, I would be my own employer and, if I felt at any time, not entirely fit, I could take a rest from work. It appears to me that there are several flaws in Mother’s argument but at the same time, the prospect of building up a successful business has its appeal.

My mother, of course, has no idea as yet, of my own plans and it with these ambitions before me that I have been debating the usefulness of taking her advice. I have come to the conclusion after some thought, that the course of returning to the university, and studying maths, physics, chemistry and astronomy, is the more certain way of furthering my astronautical career. If I entered business, I might in that way, run the lower risk of breaking down in health again, but I cannot see how it helps my plans. I might find spare time enough to make astronautics my hobby, but the idea has no appeal. Astronautics is my life, and returning to my studies being the best way of serving that science, I shall go back to the University.’

Astronautics is my life


Hideki Tōjō,
prime minister

‘The Japanese government has accepted the notion that Japan is the loser and it appears to be going to accept unconditional surrender. . . Such a position frustrates the officers and soldiers of the imperial armed forces. Without fully employing its abilities even at the final moment, the imperial nation is surrendering to the enemies’ propaganda . . . I never imagined such torpor in the nation's leaders and its people.’

Tōjō’s resistance to surrender


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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.

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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.