And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

9 December

Gilles de Gouberville,

‘The boys here going in the evening to the Vallee du Grand Jardin had a greyhound with them, which took a young boar. When it was brought in and dried, I weighed it - a little more than 30 pounds.’

I distrust the miller


John Evelyn,

‘I had news that my dear and worthy friend. Dr. Tenison, Bishop of Lincoln, was made Archbishop of Canterbury, for which I thank God and rejoice, he being most worthy of it, for his learning, piety, and prudence.’

Modesty, prudence, piety


David Hamilton,

‘I’ll begin therefore with an uneasiness which her Majesty appeared to have, about the beginning of December 1709. The particular occasion I was not made acquainted with. But the seeing her inwardly affected, gave me an opportunity to Caution her against disquiets, and as her Phisitian, suggest the Ill consequences that might happen at that time from it. Her receiving this advice with so much Goodness, (I may say Thankfullness) convinc’d me how right my conjecture was. But visiting her the 9th. of that Month I was farther confirm’d therein, for entering the Back stairs I found my Lord Godolphin, then Lord High Treasurer, waiting till her Majesty came out of her Closet, and upon my comming in, he came to inquire for the Queens health (the first time of his doing so, and indeed his great gravity, passing with me as a forbidding Countenance, gave me no inclination to Converse with him). I answerd‚ ‘that her Majesty was better of the Gout that it had been more regular than usual, that she took nothing but spirit of Millepedes, and that since the use of it she had taken few medecines than before’; to which he Replyd the oftner the boards are wash’d, the sooner they are impair’d. Upon this Freedom of Conversation I told his Lordship that it was in his Power to prolong his Majestys life, by laying before her as few disquieting things as possible, but if there was an absolute necessity for it, to shun it at least at some certain seasons. Which he with wonderfull good nature, and seeming pleasure undertook, adding, that if I would send him a line to inform him of every such season, he would do his utmost to keep her easy.

After his returning from the Queen, and my going in, I told her Majesty what had pass’d which She received exceeding kindly; thank’d me, and desir’d me to go on, and do according as he had appointed, only not to trouble too often least he should think it came from her.’

The spirit of millipedes


John Quincy Adams,

‘After the Levee was over I was introduced into the private closet of the King by Lord Grenville, and, presenting my credential Letter, said, “Sir, to testify to your Majesty the sincerity of the United States of America in their negotiations, their President has directed me to take the necessary measures connected with the ratifications of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation concluded between your Majesty and the United States. He has authorized me to deliver to your Majesty this letter, and I ask your Majesty’s permission to add, on their part, the assurance of the sincerity of their intentions.” He then said, “To give you my answer, Sir, I am very happy to have the assurances of their sincerity, for without that, you know, there would be no such thing as dealings among men.” He afterwards asked to which of the States I belonged, and on my answering, Massachusetts, he turned to Lord Grenville and said, “All the Adamses belong to Massachusetts?” To which Lord Grenville answered, they did. He enquired whether my father was now Governor of Massachuetts. I answered, “No, Sir; he is Vice President of the United States.” “Ay,” said he, “and he cannot hold both offices at the same time?” “No, Sir.” He asked where my father is now. “At Philadelphia, Sir, I presume, the Congress being now in session.” “When do they meet?” “The first week in December, Sir.” “ And where did you come from last?” “From Holland, Sir.” “You have been employed there?” “Yes, Sir, about a year.” “Have you been employed before, and anywhere else?” “ No, Sir.”

I then withdrew. Mr. Cottrell invited me to go and witness the ceremony of an address presented by the Bishop and Clergy of London, which was received upon the throne.’

Election of a president


Charlotte Campbell,
courtier and writer

‘This day, I found Her Royal Highness sitting for her picture. She received me with her usual graciousness of manner, and desired me to “come and sit,” - her phrase for feeling comfortable and at one’s ease. She informed me that Mr S_, the painter, engaged upon the picture, was only altering the costume of a portrait taken many years back, which she said was by no means doing his talent justice. Certainly the picture was frightful, and I have often regretted that I never saw a tolerable likeness painted of her. Although during the last years of her life she was bloated and disfigured by sorrow, and by the life she led, the Princess was in her early youth a pretty woman; fine light hair - very delicately formed features, and a fine complexion - quick, glancing, penetrating eyes, long cut, and rather sunk in the head, which gave them much expression - and a remarkably delicately formed mouth; but her head was always too large for her body, and her neck too short; and latterly, her whole figure was like a ball, and her countenance became hardened, and an expression of defiance and boldness took possession of it, that was very unpleasant. Nevertheless, when she chose to assume it, she had a very noble air, and I have seen her on more than one occasion, put on a dignified carriage, which became her much more than the affectation of girlishness which she generally preferred.’

Sat the old Duchess


Rose de Freycinet,

‘On account of his poor state of health, the kind Abbé de Quélen was unable to go ashore at Dili. Accordingly, only a few days after our departure he baptised the young Timorese lad whom we had taken aboard. My husband and I are his godparents and, in accordance with the wishes of the Portuguese Governor, we gave him the name of Joseph, to which I have added that of Antonio. Don Jose wanted the boy to have his name, so that, he said, we would remember him. But we shall not forget his kindness towards us any more than the happy events during this stopover.

Although our voyage was easier once we lost sight of Timor Island because of a favourable fresh breeze, it was only after we emerged from the strait that the heat, which had affected us badly ever since our arrival at Kupang, became a little more bearable for those aboard who were in good health. Our sick crewmen are suffering greatly; we fear that the Abbé may have contracted scurvy; he has lost a lot of weight on account of the heat. The Second Lieutenant, M. Labiche, suffers from dysentery; several crewmen have already died from that disease. Such unfortunate circumstances make our journey distressing. Otherwise, it would be so enjoyable as we make our way through the Moluccan Archipelago, where one comes across enchanting islands around every corner. The richness of the soil is demonstrated by the luxurious natural forests which cover these uncultivated lands. And what trees do we find in those forests? They are the very ones which produce precious spices; their scent hangs heavy in the air all around us. Thus, we have sailed past Amboina and closer still to Ceram, two Dutch settlements which are famous for having contributed so much to the wealth of that nation.

I sometimes recall that my mother wrote to me, when I was still in Toulon, that a map of Paris and its surrounding districts was sufficient at first for her to find each of the places where we lived, that thereafter she needed a map of France and, finally, that she would only be able to follow our progress on a world map. Now, a very detailed map of Oceania would be required - if one existed - to know where we were. Even then, every day I am told that Louis corrects geographical positions, erroneously recorded until now, a fact which would not surprise anyone in this part of the world where the Creator has sown islands ‘as he sows dust in our fields’. Since New Holland, we have not come across any land other than islands, and it will be some time yet before we espy another continent.

Just as unfrequented dark streets in large towns favour bandits, so too the numerous straits of these seas are infested with pirates, who usually join forces to attack merchant ships. They put out to sea in long and narrow boats similar to canoes with outriggers, and use small paddles which require a different kind of handling to our oars, in that the paddles do not rest on the side of the canoe. The other day, about 15 of those boats, called corocores, appeared at nightfall heading towards us. Louis thought it wise to go on the defensive in case of an attack, but the pirates no doubt were deterred by the strength of the corvette and went on their way.

A few days after that insignificant event, we again encountered several armed corocores, but these belonged to the Kimalaha [chief] of the island of Gebe. I am not implying that they are not pirates. Louis believes they are when it suits their purpose, and that they were lying in wait for some ships when we saw them. But the chief, old sea wolf that he was, observing that we had the weapons to defend ourselves fiercely, came on board to start negotiations. Not only was he well received, but Louis invited him to lunch, which he accepted without waiting to be asked twice. He became very attached to one of our chairs, which was presented to him at once. In return for this present which pleased him greatly, he thought of nothing better than to remove his own hat and place it on Louis’ head, who appeared to me quite comical wearing that type of straw parasol which is skilfully woven but with the same pointed shape as the lids of our saucepans.

The name of that strange character was Abdalaga-Fourou; he was fluent in Malay, so Louis was able to obtain a lot of information from him. The chiefs of the other corocores came to join him and, like him, stayed for dinner. The Kimalaha, better dressed than the others, was wearing trousers and some kind of open dressing-gown made of white calico, printed with stripes and red flowers. Under his hat, he wore a small red turban with a crown made of fine straw. He was bronzed and his face was lively and cheerful. These men endlessly chew betel and chalk, packed into pretty little boxes made of fine straw in various colours. They exchanged a lot of arrows, paddles and so on . . . for mirrors, knives, clothes and so on . . . When night fell, Abdalaga-Fourou went back to his boat, promising to return the next day. That prince had pressed Louis to go to Gebe and, while he was aboard our ship, in order to communicate more easily with his corocores, he had asked us to take them in tow. But as soon as the wind became fresh, they loosened the moorings and left us in order to return to Gebe. Consequently, Louis does not believe the Kimalaha’s promise that he will meet us at Waigeo, where we have to stop to take observations. To derive some advantage from several days’ inactivity forced upon us by the calm weather, the Commander has sent naturalists to Pisang Island. As soon as they are back and the wind is fresh again, we will set sail.’

Infested with pirates


Horace Plunkett,

‘Carey snored like a blast furnace & kept me awake most of the night. Started at 8 AM for a bitterly cold 3 hour (15 miles!) drive to Lookout Station across the Laramie plains. There got into a warm sleeper for Omaha. En route to Cheyenne saw the new grade of the U.P.R’y which gets round Sherman summit. The wisdom of this was illustrated by our train breaking in two climbing up the hill. At Cheyenne dropped Carey & picked up Windsor.’

House blown up



‘Adler writes me complaining of Stekel’s “disloyalty” - which I think is funny; it could not have been documented with greater speed. But he also complains of mine, and justly. We met and talked for two hours while racing all over town. But really it is perfectly possible to overcome all the differences between Freud and Adler insofar as Adler’s feeling of inferiority already comprises a primal repression experienced as a basic slight, and also insofar as Freud’s “repressed” is founded on psychized material which had already in the past attained consciousness. If we call this material “sexual” we do so by assuming it to be distinguished from “mental”; the two belong together to emphasize their duality. On the other hand, when Adler emphasizes the “ego protest,” he does so only by contrasting it with the murky totality which in a certain sense is sexuality. The mark of sexuality is that it may be viewed from two sides, from both the mental and the physical; it is here where all mental disorders and neuroses meet, as if at the point of intersection which exemplifies the whole. But only Freud has appropriated the word “compromise” for this, and only he has done justice to the double character of the process, even though he has predominantly emphasized the sexual side (especially in the beginning, when hysteria was under consideration). Only he has uncovered the intermediate range of unconscious mental functions, and only thereby has he succeeded in making room for the positive mechanisms of the process; and only this is important. Beyond merely elucidating illness, and led that far by the pathological process, we find our way into the mystery of the normal unconscious state, in which sexuality and the ego maintain their narcissistic union and the true enigma of mankind begins. For Adler there can be no enigma strictly speaking; he secs the ego confronted only by its own game.’

A sort of Christmas present


Earl Silas Tupper,

‘How I crave a new auto now!’

Tupper the tinkerer


Samuel Beckett,

‘in fear and trembling, lest I should break a leg, be attacked by vermin, lose the key, [toiling up] a succession of crazy ladders in the gloom, 365 steps to the gallery (for which I have 2nd key) 70 m. above ground. Tiny platform; 1½ from base of wall to railing. I cower against former, and scarcely dare look at view. Force myself to make the circle round with quick sickening glances at the ground.’ 

This absurd diary


Charles Kikuchi,

‘Berkeley. Holy Christ! San Francisco last night was like nothing I ever saw before and everybody was saying that the Japs are going to get it in the ass. I ran into Jimmy Hong up on Grant Avenue, and he says I’m not allowed to screw Chinese girls anymore. Angelo, too, he says, because he is a Wop. Jimmy was kidding; and he will give me some kind of a badge which says that I am a Chinese as he says some of the Japanese boys from U. C. got beat up. I didn’t hear anything about that. Kenny told me it was true when I got back, and he said that all of the students are going to be restricted to campus. A lot of them want to get the hell out of here and go home, but I don’t know what good that will do. I don’t know what good it will be to stay here.

Kenny has a friend, Shibs, who is full of wild stories. I don’t know where he gets them. He says Bill is spying for the Navy or the FBI. I don’t believe that; but I guess the FBI do have guys on the campus. They have picked up some suspicious Japanese already. I saw Alice and she is worried about Pop, because we live so close to Mare Island and she thinks that Jack should go over and tell the Mayor that Pop was in the U.S. Navy. I think Pop would praise Japan; but he is not going to blow up anything. It may be dangerous for him in the barber shop with all those Mare Island guys coming in. I told Alice to tell Mom to have Pop’s Navy discharge framed and put on the wall next to the barber license and take that Buddha statue the hell out of there. Alice says the Army should put me in charge of patriotism because I am suspicious of my own father. I did not mean it that way; but it is true, I don’t trust the Issei. If just one of them sabotaged something, what hell there would be to pay.

Mrs. Edwards seems very calm about the whole thing, I must say. She told me to study hard and become an officer in the Navy. What a laugh! The Navy would not even let me be a messboy. Jack says it’s going to be bad, and he wants to go East to study medicine; but he can’t walk out on the family like that.’

The Americanization process


Wilhelm Reich,

‘They, the lawyers themselves, do not believe in the existence of the orgone. They did not read the literature. Culver said, when I gave him the letters of the physicians about the orgone: “Now I feel better” - that is, he did not believe a word before that.

It is obvious, quite obvious, that I have become unfit for dealings with average people. I am too far off in my ways of being.’

The existence of orgonity


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Why Ever Did I Want to Write is a patchwork of themed stories about one man’s early life, embracing highs and lows but driven by a desire to make the most of being alive, to experience, to feel, and above all to understand. Reminiscent of Karl Knausgaard’s A Death in the Family and Theodore Zeldin’s An Intimate History of Humanity, this memoir, often based on diaries, sees Lyons reflecting on a repressed childhood, exploring the world through years of travelling, and searching for meaning and excitement in the arts and love affairs – an archetype of the counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s.

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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.