And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

6 December

Claver Morris, doctor

‘Thomas Parfit, Charles Taylor, & I went to West-Bradley, to meet Mr. Gardener the Church-warden there, at the Church, whose Timber (the Lead of one side being sometime since taken off to be new wrought,) was found to be utterly decayd, & rotted. We all concluded there must be a Roof entirely new: But did not come to a settled agreement with Thomas Parfit, for how much Money to have it done. We afterwards went down into Baltonsbury North-wood, & measur’d my new made Hedge & Ditch (which were 5350 Chains; & also measur’d that which Astin or Bower were to make against my Enclosure which to mine own expense, & loss of Ground. Having to do with a couple of Rogues, I order’d my Hedgers to Dike & plant with Quick-Sets like the rest, being 6s, 43 Chains. The Water rose so high in the Brook by Cowards that the Horses were driven over it & just like to swim, & I went over the Bridge on Foot, & came through Gardeners Grounds to Mr. James Slade’s in West-Pennard. I had Thomas Parfit, & Charles Taylor after their supping with me to our Musick-Meeting, when Miss Catherine Layng, & a Young Woman who was a Singer in Hereford-shire who had an extraordinary fine Voice, & a very good manner. Sung.’

Cough, spitting, and fever


Andrew Ellicott,

‘Spent at work upon our boats. Squalls of snow all day. Thermometer rose from 21° to 28°.’

Fat alligators in Florida


Francis Lieber,
philosopher and teacher

‘Preparing my lecture for the Boston Society of Useful Knowledge.’

Lieber’s Life and Letters


Anson Jones,

‘Nothing since the days of the Crusades, it seems to me, has been more extravagant and foolish than the idea of Texas carrying on an offensive war with Mexico.’

Texas Republic’s last president


Hubert Parry,

‘Founder’s Day. Practised the organ after 10. In the middle of my practice St. Mark’s choir appeared to practise the hymn and chants for this morning; and consequently, to my disgust, turned me out. Wrote music all after 6. Finished my first song, “Fair is my love.” ’

Finished my first song


John Sarsfield Casey,
civil servant

‘Morning cloudy - raining all day - all hands obliged to remain below which is dark damp like hell - the most disagreeable day I ever spent almost becalmed.’

The Galtee Boy


William Crookes,

‘After breakfast walked on deck. A host of young Oxford men, some nearly boys, pressed into service as observers with polariscope. “What is a polariscope?” Favouritism and jobbery.

Urgent a mere shell a week ago. Sudden orders to fit her out. Everything done since Tuesday last. Interior fittings, curtains, beds, sheets, china, glass, stores, etc., all got in red-hot haste. All spoons and forks newly plated. Not cost Government less than £10,000, half of which might have been saved if more time had been given. Most of men and officers come from Duke of Wellington. Everyone strange to ship except Captain Hamilton. This expense, however, will not appear in Estimates. Red tapeism - parsimony in treatment of observers and lavish expenditure of money in other ways.

Professor Newcomb and Mrs. Newcomb (the only lady on board). Conversation as to American eclipse. Two parties in U.S., the Naval Board and the Observatory. The Naval Board report not printed yet. The Observatory report out first. Dr. Coffin the head of the observers. His name not mentioned in my article in Quarterly Journal of Science by accidental omission.

Swinging ship for compass deviation. A long job, some hours. Queen’s ships do not adjust by permanent magnets as in the Mercantile Marine, but by table of errors and deviations.

Telegrams sent to Echo and Nelly. Also long letter to Nelly, posted and sent by officer who superintended swinging of ship.

Carpenter and Noble sent to other papers.

At last moment last night a telegram arrived from Admiralty (in answer to urgent appeal from Huggins) ordering the ship to take the Oran party on to Oran from Gibraltar. This is good news, for I shall be with the Urgent all the time, and shall not have to leave the ship for a smaller one.

Bread and cheese lunch at 12.30. Too early for appetite. [. . .]’

Victorian eclipse diary


Paul Klee,

‘In the morning, arrived at Cambrai-Annex. Pasted on new stickers to Cantimpré, Cambrai’s other auxiliary station. Apparently our destination. We again have more time than we need and stroll off to town, a pitifully miserable, hungry village. Pleasant market. Plenty of endives. Lunch at the canteen in the station annex. Then back to the city, into a pastry shop with cakes and fruit. A battalion from the Somme marches up with music, an overwhelming sight. Everything yellow with mud. The unmilitary, matter-of-fact appearance, the steel helmets, the equipment. The trotting step. Nothing heroic, just like beasts of burden, like slaves. Against a background of circus music. The drummer outdoes himself. The worn faces convey only a distorted reflection, if any, of the joy of being replaced and sent off to rest.

Had a look at the airplanes below. Waited for a long time and then at last moved on to a little station. Again waited and waited in the waiting room of the main station, among a group of Saxons (brr!). And finally, moved on to another station, to Cantimpré. Here, out in the street at 3 a.m.’

Colour possesses me


Aldo Leopold,

‘Our last day of hunting. All shaved in the hope of improving our shooting a bit. It is cool and cloudy.

Tried the quail above camp on the west bank. Found the canebrake covey and did a little better with them, getting three. Hunted a lot of new country that looked ideal but found no birds. Saw a large flock of doves but couldn’t get near them. Coming back I unexpectedly flushed a big mallard drake out of the head of the buck brush lake. I shot through some saplings at him but failed to connect. This is the first mallard we have seen since leaving the cove camp.

In the afternoon we crossed the river and while we were cutting mistletoe for the girls, Flick put up a beautiful covey out of the tinkleweeds but nobody had a loaded gun. We got two, however, out of a belated rise and later a couple of scatters.

Next hunted some lovely ragweed patches to the south and found a nice covey. Had a hard time finding them again because we overestimated the distance they flew. Finally got them out. Carl put five right over Fritz and me and we scored four clean misses overhead as they pitched down into the cane. Later we retrieved our reputation a bit by killing some singles.

It now began to rain and we regretfully left the whistling birds behind us as we hit for camp.’

The sweetest fish ever eaten


Lorenzo Greene,
teacher and writer

‘This morning I received six sets of books from Woodson’s office. He stated in his covering letter that I had failed to send certain monies for books to the office; that such was our agreement. I became so wrought up that I was of a mind to return at once to Washington, [and] tell Woodson to take the car and “go to hell.” But there was Poe, whom I had persuaded to come along with me. I could not leave him in the lurch; therefore, I said nothing. Together we sent Woodson $35; I remitted $13.98; Poe almost twice as much. Only in case the subscriber paid the entire amount in cash or check to the agent would we handle any funds belonging to the office. Yet his letter stated that Wilkey had sold twice as many books as I. Further that I must change my procedure and not keep the money belonging to the office “as I had done this summer.” He had, in fact, virtually branded me as a thief. God only knows what would have happened had he told me that to my face, for whatever my shortcomings and they are legion - I at least strive to be honest. I would not barter my honor and reputation for a few pennies. I wondered whether Woodson was trying to so anger me that I would give up the work; for, in the closing paragraph, he intimated that if I continued to attack the church, I would have to do so as a freelance. That would be evident to anyone. He probably was “quaking in his boots” because Rev. R. R. Wright, Jr., of Philadelphia replied to a statement I had made concerning the church, which Woodson believed might cause Negro ministers to withdraw their “support” from the Association. I believe John R. Hawkins, who is president of the Association, is behind this. He is also financial secretary of the A.M.E. Church and a political leader. My temper quickly subsided, for I knew that I had forwarded to the office whatever monies were due. [. . .]

As for the church, I did not give a “hang” whether it kept on mulcting the people or not. It could only do so until Negroes opened their eyes and refused to be “milked” any longer.

Now about Woodson himself. He is the most arrogant, scornful, and depressing person I have ever been associated with. He has a virulent temper, but does not like to see the same manifested by another. He is puffed up with his own importance and deprecates that of everyone associated closely with him. He possesses a humor which rankles, instead of warms, a wit which makes me wish to strangle him at times. Then, too, he reminds me of a politician. He has no honor. Like a reptile, he is sly [and] mole-like; he works underground, undermining his victim, until the latter is ready to step upon the hollow earth to his downfall. The case of Dr. [Charles H.] Wesley is still fresh in my memory. His word is like thin ice - easily broken. I refer here to his promises to me concerning the Negro Wage Earner. He will make mistakes and then place the blame on his subordinates. He has absolutely no regard for the feelings of others, but seems to believe that he has a God-given right to vent his spleen upon anyone. He can brook no subordinate position. He must be the ruler; he cannot share power; enemies he makes in profusion, who either abstain from supporting or else hinder the work. He doesn’t seem to care. His whole nature has been warped, bent, [and] blasted, I believe, by an unfortunate love affair. Since that time, he seems to revel in ascertaining the extent to which he can irritate others.

I do not believe he has one true friend in the entire world. He has countless acquaintances, thousands of admirers, but like Bismarck and others, he is not loved. He belongs to that group of mortals who, unloving and unloved, are prized because they possess some unique attribute that the world desires. What a shame! That Woodson is of this temperament renders it impossible for him to inspire younger black scholars to perfect themselves in Negro History with a view toward taking his place when death or infirmity shall cause him to relinquish the helm.’

The father of black history


Tony Benn,

‘There was a very funny item in the Guardian this morning called ‘What Makes Tony Benn Run?’ by Martin Walker. It estimated that on my eighteen pints of tea a day for forty years, I would have drunk 29,000 gallons, used 20,000 KW hours of electricity and a ton and a quarter of tea, etc. It quoted what doctors said, what the Tea Council said; that the Jockey club would argue this was a higher rate of caffeine addiction than was permitted for racehorses.’

The hopes of the Left


Christopher McCandless,

‘Small but dangerous waterfalls litter the canal.’

Beautiful blueberries


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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.