And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

27 August

Conrad Weiser,
farmer and Indian negotiator

‘Sett off again in the morning early; Rainy Wheather. We dined in a Seneka Town, where an old Seneka Woman Reigns with great Authority; we dined at her House, & they all used us very well; at this & the last-mentioned Delaware Town they received us by firing a great many Guns; especially at this last Place. We saluted the Town by firing off 4 pair of pistols; arrived that Evening at Logs Town, & Saluted the Town as before; the Indians returned about One hundred Guns; Great Joy appeared in their Countenances. From the Place where we took Water, i.e. from the old Shawones Town, commonly called Chartier’s Town, to this Place is about 60 Miles by Water & but 35 or 40 by Land.

The Indian Council met this Evening to shake Hands with me & to shew their Satisfaction at my safe arrival; I desired of them to send a Couple of Canoes to fetch down the Goods from Chartier’s old Town, where we had been oblig’d to leave them on account of our Horses being all tyred. I gave them a String of Wampum to enforce my Request.’

Weiser goes to Ohio


Francisco de Paula Santander,

‘To my answer that I was no longer one, because my country was an independent state and called Colombia, they asked me several questions about our army, the way of fighting war, and, particularly about Bolívar; I sought to be moderate about the political conduct of our Liberator and praised his military conduct; the officer answered that irrespective of what I had said there were important men in Colombia who were opposed to the political conduct of Bolívar, which to him seemed doubtful whether or not they were without ambition. My answer was reduced to saying that in effect he had personal enemies and enemies of his political principles, and that time would say with justice which was right. The officer named Sucre as being opposed to Bolívar and, not remembering my name, said these precise words: “There is another general who was president of Colombia when Bolívar was in Peru who they say demonstrated great talent and many services, and who positioned himself completely against the ideas of Bolívar, as he supported the laws of his country.” This praise made me flush, but I did not reveal myself. However, my servant, in a stop to change horses shortly afterwards, revealed who I was, and the officer paid me many flattering compliments.’

My unjust condemnation


John Churton Collins,
writer and literary critic

‘Much better; then came a reaction for the worse. I am now in the extreme of misery and depression.’

I thought I was out of the woods


John MacGavock Grider,

‘Many things have happened. I hear that Bobby got shot down up at Dunkirk and is no more. Tommy Herbert has been shot in the rear with a phosphorus bullet. Leach has been shot thru the shoulder and isn’t expected to pull thru. Explosive bullet. Read is dead and so is Molly Shaw.

Alex Mathews is dead. He was walking across the airdrome after a movie show over at 48 and a Hun bomber saw the light when the door was opened and dropped a two hundred and twelve pound bomb on him. They dropped about thirty bombs on the airdrome and killed about forty of 48’s men and set fire to the hangars. They broke all the bottles in our bar. Cal and Nigger and I were further ahead and threw ourselves into a ditch. Nothing hit us but we sure were uncomfortable. The night flying Camels brought down one of the Huns, it had five engines and a crew of six men. It came down in flames and lit up the whole place. Barksdale got shot down in an S. E. and landed in German territory but set fire to his plane and got in a shell hole and covered himself up with dirt. The next morning the British attacked and took that sector. Barksdale said the Scotsman who pulled him out couldn’t speak English any better than the Germans and he thought he was a prisoner at first.

One of our noblest he-men, a regular fire-eater to hear him tell it, has turned yellow at the front. He was quite an athlete and always admitted he was very hot stuff. He was ordered up on a bomb raid and refused to go. The British sent him back to American Headquarters with the recommendation that he be court-martialed for cowardice. He would have been too, if his brother hadn’t have been high up on the A. E. F. staff. He pulled some bluff about the machines being unsafe and they finally sent him home as an instructor and promoted him. He may strut around back home but I’ll bet he never can look a real man in the eye again.

Springs had a wheel shot off in the air last week. Ralston came back and took up a wheel to show him and everybody ran about the airdrome firing Very pistols and holding up wheels for him to see. He understood and sideslipped down all right without killing himself. He said he saw a Dolphin pilot kill himself several weeks ago landing with a wheel gone. The Dolphin pilot didn’t know it was off and the plane turned over on him.

Bonnalie was never considered much of a pilot. He was an aeroplane designer before he enlisted and knew a lot of theory but he took a long time to learn to fly and no one thought he would ever be much good. He put on one of the best shows on record and has been decorated with the D. S. O. His citation appeared in The Gazette. [. . .]

17 and 148 have been having a hard time. 17 has lost Campbell, Hamilton, Glenn, Spidlc, Grade, Case, Shearman, Shoemaker, Roberts, Bittinger, Jackson, Todd, Wise, Thomas, Frost, Wicks, Tillinghast and a couple of others. Hamilton and Tipton were the two best Camel pilots we had. And they have about six others in the hospital too. Wicks and Shoemaker collided in a fight.

148 has lost Curtis, Forster, Sicbald, Frobisher, Mandell, Kenyon and Jenkinson; and Dorsey and Wiley and Zistell are in the hospital. Jenkinson, Forster and Siebald went down in flames. Frobisher was shot thru the stomach and died later.

Of course that’s not a bad showing when you consider that they have shot down a lot of Huns and done a lot of ground straffing and have been flying Camels which were all the British could spare them. The British have washed out the Camels and are refitting their own squadrons with Snipes. A Camel can’t fight a Fokker and the British know it.

But we’ve lost a lot of good men. It’s only a question of time until we all get it. I’m all shot to pieces. I only hope I can stick it. I don’t want to quit. My nerves are all gone and I can’t stop. I’ve lived beyond my time already.

It’s not the fear of death that’s done it. I’m still not afraid to die. It’s this eternal flinching from it that’s doing it and has made a coward out of me. Few men live to know what real fear is. It’s something that grows on you, day by day, that eats into your constitution and undermines your sanity. I have never been serious about anything in my life and now I know that I’ll never be otherwise again. But my seriousness will be a burlesque for no one will recognize it. Here I am, twenty-four years old, I look forty and I feel ninety. I’ve lost all interest in life beyond the next patrol. No one Hun will ever get me and I’ll never fall into a trap, but sooner or later I’ll be forced to fight against odds that are too long or perhaps a stray shot from the ground will be lucky and I will have gone in vain. Or my motor will cut out when we are trench straffing or a wing will pull off in a dive. Oh, for a parachute! The Huns are using them now. I haven’t a chance, I know, and it’s this eternal waiting around that’s killing me. I’ve even lost my taste for licker. It doesn’t seem to do me any good now. I guess I’m stale. Last week I actually got frightened in the air and lost my head. Then I found ten Huns and took them all on and I got one of them down out of control. I got my nerve back by that time and came back home and slept like a baby for the first time in two months. What a blessing sleep is! I know now why men go out and take such long chances and pull off such wild stunts. No discipline in the world could make them do what they do of their own accord. I know now what a brave man is. I know now how men laugh at death and welcome it. I know now why Ball went over and sat above a Hun airdrome and dared them to come up and fight with him. It takes a brave man to even experience real fear. A coward couldn’t last long enough at the job to get to that stage. What price salvation now?’

Many things have happened


Alex Babine,

‘Not wishing to patronize the dirty Soviet barber-shops and out of respect for the typhus raging all around, I have been clipping my hair myself with a 000 clip. It takes over two hours, and two mirrors, to do the work right. Two years ago I would not have thought the trick possible.’

Jailed for making soap


Anthony Eden,

‘[Chamberlain] told me there was a chance I might go to F.O. That he had spoken strongly to Reading [the new Foreign Secretary] and that S.B. had agreed to his doing so. He hoped something would result but S.B. had given away so much to the Liberals it was impossible to say. He - S.B. - apparently greeted my name with more enthusiasm than any other. The F.O. in a national govt, with the S of S in the Upper House is higher than I hoped for and I do not expect that I shall get it.’

The 1st Earl of Avon


Iris Murdoch,

‘[Water Eaton Manor] A peaceful day. We left Northleach with mingled relief & imprecations, after the men had been well rooked by a charming but villainous robber of a Youth Hostel warden. And, as a grand finale, Joyce had her purse stolen. O Northleach, Northleach we shall pass this way but once! We went to Water Eaton via Shipton-under-Wychwood, & left our big props & the trailers behind there. Water Eaton is a fine Elizabethan manor belonging to Prof. Carr Saunders, the London university population expert. We weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms by the professor & his lady. Not exactly. But we found Frances was there with her two harps - so that compensated for a slight aloofness on the part of the family & a noticeable scarcity of basic nourishment. We wandered the gardens, lay on the grass, & Tom talked vaguely of rehearsing this & that. My opinion of everyone in the company is going up by leaps & bounds with 2 exceptions. Tom & Jack. Tom really is maddening. He refuses to make up his mind, and when he does make it up, he won’t tell anyone. He was well served this afternoon, for as a result of his not divulging what ballads we were going to rehearse, half the company went off in a punt & left him fuming. Actually it was mean of them too to wander off without a word, & I ticked Joyce & Moira off about it when they came back. Frances played her harp in the family chapel & I came & sang softly to it, & happily we passed the day. At 6 we gave a show to the Carr Saunders & aristocratic & arty friends. It was beautiful to do Tam Lin out of doors in such a superb setting, & it went well. Tom wrecked Donna Lombarda by too early an entrance, but on the whole all was delightful.

After the show Hugh & I wandered down to the Cherwell which flows thro’ meadows below the house, & sat & watched the moon rise. A group of white swans sailed silently past. It was a most magical evening. Hugh lay down beside me with his head touching my side, & I sat and looked across the river. Then gradually we gave expression to what had been tacit between us for several days. There is something incredibly tender & gentle about Hugh, for his all terrific strength & bluffness.

I went back late to the house to find Moira & Joan had been waiting for me. They then took Joyce & me in the car to the people we were to stay with in Yarnton. Both Joyce & myself, by some unlucky change had lost our cases, & were in great distress. However, we survived the night. We were staying with a hearty old couple, good working class stock, but unintelligent. The star of people who are nice to you when you come canvassing, bu who will not buy a copy of the ‘Daily Worker’ as they ‘already get the Herald, thank you very much.’

On Magpies, on!


Edmund Ironside,

‘Down to Chartwell for lunch yesterday. . . Winston was full of Georges, whom he had seen over in France. I found that he had become very French in his outlook and had a wonderful opinion of the whole thing he saw. He had General Spears with him. The burden of his song was that we must have a great Army in France, that we couldn’t depend upon the French to do our effort for us. That we must get twenty Divisions by Christmas. I told him that we had no such plans in being. He showed me how the French were going to attack Italy and how they held the high ground round the Mont Cenis and looked down upon the Italians below them. I told him that the French had told him far more than they had told our General Staff, that I had been unable, as C.-in-C. designate, to get any clear plan out of things. Winston said that we were trying to get as much control in the conduct of affairs as if we had an Army of one and a half millions. This we couldn’t have. . . I rang up Macleod and he had been to the War Office where they said that news was difficult to get through, but as far as could be ascertained no big movement of the Germans had taken place. They expected them to begin tomorrow.’

A new phase of history


Patricia Highsmith,

‘Perversion interests me most and is really my guiding darkness . . . I love to write of cruel deeds. Murder fascinates me . . . Physical cruelty appeals to me mostly. It is visual & dramatic. Mental cruelty is a torture, even for me, to think of. I have known too much of it myself.’

My guiding darkness


Ernst Carl Reinhold Brüche, scientist

‘These people remind me somehow of playing children, giant children, who thanks to their great strength have occasion to play with the Germans. It is cat playing with mouse. Does the cat realize at all that it is hurting the mouse when it allows the mouse, half dead as it is, to run a little more for its dear life so that it can catch it again? Why this disinterestedness by a nation that has taken upon itself the responsibility along with the power? Is this a game or cold calculation by the leadership? We want to work and rebuild. Why don’t they allow it? Why aren’t the trains running yet? Why is the post unusable and the telephone line broken? The Americans have been here for four months, four months of “peace” - and we are still waiting for peace. We are living off capital. Raw materials and supplies are everywhere lacking.’

The death of German physics


Paul Bowles,

‘Bertolucci now thinks I should appear in certain scenes of the film. I don’t understand exactly why, and therefore suspect this to be a whim which he’ll possibly be thinking better of sooner or later.’

The Sheltering Sky


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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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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.