And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

10 December

Andrew Ellicott,

‘Left the shore at sunrise. About nine o’clock in the morning discovered a Kentucky boat fast upon a log, and upon examination found that it was deserted, and suspected that the crew were on shore in distress, which we soon found to be the case. The crew consisted of several men, women, and children, who left the boat two days before in a small canoe when they found their strength insufficient to get her off. They were without any shelter, to defend them from the inclemency of the weather, and it was then snowing very fast. We spent two hours in getting the boat off, and taking it to the shore, where we received the thanks of the unfortunate crew, and left them to pursue their journey.

Having a desire to determine the geographical position of the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and the large store boat not being calculated for expedition, I left her with directions to follow with all possible despatch, and pushed on myself for the mouth of the river. Stopped at sun down, to give our men time to cook some victuals: set off at eight o’clock in the evening, and proceeded down the river against a strong head wind till almost midnight, when it became so violent that we had to put to shore. Snow great part of the day. Thermometer rose from 21° to 28°. Water in the river 33°.’

Fat alligators in Florida


Phebe Orvis,

‘Snow of considerable depth. returned to Newhaven. heard Mr. Hopkins preach from Ezekiel Thirty-third. Eleventh . . . Turn ye, Turn ye, why will ye die O house of Israel. saw Miss Sylphina Hanchet at Mrs. Phelps. insisted upon my visiting her at Mrs. Spragues, East Street. Miss Maria W[ilcox]. insisted on my spending the night with her. I did. my old tooth threatened to jump out of my head.’

An extraordinary ordinary woman


Henry J. Heinz,

‘Zero through the day. We all remained home. It is very inconvenient to attend church when living in the country.’

Caught in the mustard mill


George Gissing,

‘4:15 am. Have been up all night. A furious gale blowing. E in long miserable pain; the doctor has just given her chloroform, and says that the blackguard business draws to an end.

5:15. Went to the study door, and heard the cry of the child. Nurse, speedily coming down, tells me it is a boy. Wind howling savagely. So, the poor girl’s misery is over, and she has what she earnestly desired.’

An anguish of suffering


Lady Aberdeen,

‘First-rate lecture this afternoon in connection with Montreal Women’s Club by Dr James Cameron on the deformities & ill health caused by improper postures adopted by children in sitting & standing. Drawing room to-night - about 300 to 400 people - very pretty ceremony & all well carried out - held in Art Association Rooms lent us for purpose. Veils & feathers worn as a rule. This is the first time there has been a Drawing Room held here for many years & it has caused much discussion.’

God save the Queen


Robert Charles Benchley,
writer and actor

‘Had a peach of a rough-house up in John’s room trying to put Fat on one bed.’

I hope not a ‘what it was’


Blanche Dugdale,

‘Went with Melchetts to House of Lords tea-room, also crowded. Speculations about where he will live and about money. Henry says Duchy of Cornwall revenues mortgaged for many years for her jewels. But above all, the difficulties about the divorce decree. He must be allowed to marry her!

As Henry said, we all make muddles of our lives, but none can make so great a muddle as that poor miserable creature!’

Baffy on Edward’s abdication


Joseph Goebbels,

‘Yesterday: A glorious day in Berlin. We are two hours late. Very heavy air raid on London. Some 600,000 kilograms. Entire districts of the city engulfed in flames. Only one aircraft lost. A really fine show. London is playing things down, but the American reports are strong and vivid. Nice to hear. The previous day they were talking about a decline in our offensive capability.’

We can conquer the world


Giovannino Guareschi,

‘Some men spend the day covering sheets of paper with plans and sketches. They rebuild the house, shift the furniture and debate the wisdom of carving a fireplace out of the living room. This is homesickness, pure and simple; it expresses a man’s need to cast out a safety line linking him to the vital center of his life.

Some men throw themselves into lectures, and into historical, political, philosophical, artistic and literary discussions; they argue about Proust, Croce, Marx, Cézanne and Leopardi. This is the instinct of self-preservation; it reflects the necessity of injecting oxygen into the Lager’s dank, stuffy air.

There are men that wander from hut to hut, from bunk to bunk, asking for opinions on the war, how long it will last and what will come after. This may reveal a certain weakness of character, but it is due in large part to boredom and inanition. Other men do nothing but think and talk about food. And this is sheer madness. Of course we are hungry. Hunger hovers over us at every hour of the day and peoples our dreams at night. We accept it in a spirit of resignation, as an inevitable and incurable ill.

But such men are on the way to going mad. Food is the only subject of their conversation. They plan breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and midnight suppers. They describe and invent sandwiches, draw up menus for sensational banquets to be held after their return home. They collect the names of good restaurants and local delicacies and compile gastronomic guidebooks, or else they write down and annotate recipes for the most complicated dishes.

The futile chatter about things to eat and the futile thought concentrated on eating only spur the appetite. In these men’s heated imaginations are bottomless pits, with stomachs the dimensions of their desires. This form of madness is fraught with anxiety. Its practitioners acquire protruding bones; their faces are yellow from the fear of being hungry rather than from actual hunger.’

A thousand pieces


Soe Hok Gie,

‘Earlier today when I was looking after my monkey, I met a man (not a beggar) in the middle of eating mango skins. It appears that he was starving. This is just one of the signs that are beginning to appear in the capital. I gave him 2.50 rupiah. It was all I had at the time. (15 rupiah in reserve.)

Yes, two kilometres away from this fellow eating peelings, ‘His Excellency’ is probably laughing again, feasting with his beautiful wives. And when I see incidents like this fellow eating peelings, I feel proud that our generation has been given the task of overcoming the older generation that has created such a mess. Our generation has to be the judge of the old corruptors - men like Iskak, Djodi, Dahjar and Ibnu Sutowo. We will become the generation that will make Indonesia prosper.

Those in power now grew up during the era of the former Netherlands Indies. They were the stubborn fighters for independence. Look at Sukarno, Hatta, Sjahrir, Ali and the like. But now they have betrayed what they fought for. Sukarno has betrayed Independence. Yamin has falsified - or at least romanticised - Indonesian history. Hatta rarely dares to speak the truth. And as time passes our people are suffering more and more.

‘I’m on your side, all you unfortunate ones.’ Indonesia is sinking, sinking, and if the challenges of history remain unanswered, it will be destroyed. ‘My unfortunate country.’ The prices of goods are rising, everything is becoming increasingly difficult. Gangs terrorise. The army terrorises. Terror is everywhere.

Who are responsible for all this? They are, the older generation - Sukarno, Ali, Iskak, Lie Kiat Teng, Ong Eng Die - all of them leaders who should be shot at Lapangan Banteng.

We can still only hope for truth. And the radio still screams out, spreading lies. Truth only exists in the heavens. The world is false, false.’

Politics is filthy mud


Arthur C. Clarke,

‘Stanley calls after screening H. G. Wells’ Things to Come, and says he’ll never see another movie I recommend.’

Dreamed I was a robot


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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.