And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

2 February

Guillaume Cotin,

‘Jordanus told me that Fabrizio Mordente is here in Paris, sixty years old, the god of geometers, and in that field he surpasses everyone who has gone before and everyone today, even though he knows no Latin; Jordanus will have his works printed in Latin.’

The slander of inquisitors


John Manningham,

‘At our feast wee had a play called “Twelue Night, or What you Will,” much like the Commedy of Errores, or Menechmi in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni. A good practise in it to make the Steward beleeve his Lady widdowe was in love with him, by counterfeyting a letter as from his Lady in generall termes, telling him what shee liked best in him, and prescribing his gesture in smiling, his apparaile, &c., and then when he came to practise making him beleeue they tooke him to be mad.’

Shakespeare’s name William


William Whiteway,

‘This day king Charles was crowned at Westminster, with great solemnity. The Queen refused to be Crowned by any Protestant Bishop, without dispensation from the Pope. There were now Created 8 Earles and 80 knights of the Bath. The solemnity of the kings riding through London in State is put of to the 1st May next coming.’

The towne took on fire


Woodes Rogers,

‘On February 1st, 1709, we came before that island, having had a good observation the day before, and found our latitude to be 34 degrees 10 minutes south. In the afternoon, we hoisted out our pinnace; and Captain Dover, with the boat’s crew, went in her to go ashore, though we could not be less that four leagues off. As soon as the pinnace was gone, I went on board the Duchess, who admired our boat attempting going ashore at that distance from land. It was against my inclination: but, to oblige Captain Dover, I let her go: As soon as it was dark, we saw a light ashore. Our boat was then about a league off the island, and bore away for the ship as soon as she saw the lights: We put our lights aboard for the boat, though some were of opinion, the lights we saw were our boat’s lights: But, as night came on, it appeared too large for that: We fired our quarter-deck gun, and several muskets, showing lights in our mizen and fore-shrouds, that our boat might find us whilst we were in the lee of the island: About two in the morning our boat came on board, having been two hours on board the Duchess, that took them up astern of us; we were glad they got well off, because it began to blow. We were all convinces the light was on the shore, and designed to make our ships ready to engage, believing them to be French ships at anchor, and we must either fight them, or want water. All this stir and apprehension arose, as we afterwards found, from one poor naked man, who passed in our imagination, at present, for a Spanish garrison, a body of Frenchmen, or a crew of pirates. While we were under these apprehensions, we stood on the backside of the island, in order to fall in with the southerly wind, till we were past the island; and then we came back to it again, and ran close aboard the land that begins to make the north-east side.

We still continued to reason upon this matter; and it is in a manner incredible, what strange notions many of our people entertained from the sight of the fire upon the island. It served, however, to show people’s tempers and spirits; and we were able to give a tolerable guess how our men would behave, in case there really were any enemies upon the island. The flaws came heavy off the shore, and we were forced to reef our topsails when we opened the middle bay, where we expected to have found our enemy; but saw all clear, & no ships, nor in the other bay next the north-east end. These two bays are all that ships ride in, which recruit on this island; but the middle bay is by much the best. We guessed there had been ships there, but that they were gone on sight of us. We sent our yawl ashore about noon, with Captain Dover, Mr. Fry, and six men, all armed: Mean while we and the Duchess kept turning to get in, and such heavy flaws came off the land, that we were forced to let go our top sail sheet, keeping all hands to stand by our sails, for fear of the winds carrying them away: But when the flaws were gone, we had little or no wind. These flaws proceeded from the land; which is very high in the middle of the island. Our boat did not return; we sent our pinnace with the men armed, to see what was the occasion of the yawl’s stay; for we were afraid, that the Spaniards had a garrison there, and might have seized them. We put out a signal for our boat, and the Duchess showed a French ensign. Immediately our pinnace returned from the shore, and brought abundance of cry-fish, with a man clothed in goats skins, who looked wilder than the first owners of them. He had been on the island four years and four months, being left there by Captain Stradling in the Cinque-ports, his name was Alexander Selkirk, a Scotchman, who had been master of the Cinque-ports, a ship that came here last with Captain Dampier, who told me, that this was the best man in her. I immediately agreed with him to be a mate on board our ship: It was he that made the fire last night when he saw our ships, which he judged to be English. During his stay here he saw several ships pass by, but only two came in to anchors: As he went to view them; he found them to be Spaniards, and retired from them, upon which they shot at him: Had they been French, he would have submitted; but choose to risque his dying alone on the island, rather than fall into the hands of Spaniards in these parts; because he apprehended they would murder him, or make a slave of him in the mines; for he feared they would spare no stranger that might be capable of discovering the South Seas.

The Spaniards had landed, before he knew what they were; and they came so near him, that he had much ado to escape; for they not only shot at him, but pursued him to the woods, where he climbed to the top of a tree, at the foot of which they made water, and killed several goats just by, but went off again without discovering him. He told us that he was born at Largo, in the county of Fife, in Scotland, and was bred a sailor from his youth. The reason of his being left here was difference between him and his captain; which together with the ship’s being leaky, made him willing rather to stay here, than go along with him at first; but when he was at last willing to go, the captain would not receive him. He had been at the island before, to wood and water, when two of the ship’s company were left upon it for six mouths, till the Ship returned, being chased thence by two French South-sea ships. He had with him his cloaths and bedding, with a firelock, some powder, bullets and tobacco, a hatchet, a knife, a kettle, a bible, some practical pieces, and his mathematical instruments and books. He diverted and provided for himself as well as he could; but for the first eight months, had much ado to bear up against melancholy, and the terror of being left alone in such a desolate place. He built two huts with pimento trees, covered them with long grass, & lined them with the skins of goats, which be killed with his gun as he wanted, so long as his powder lasted, which was but a pound; and that being almost spent, he got fire by rubbing two sticks of pimento-wood together upon his knee. In the lesser hut, at some distance from the other, he dressed his victuals; and in the larger he slept; and employed himself in reading, singing psalms, and praying; so that he said. He was a better Christian, while in this solitude, than ever he was before, or than, he was afraid, he would ever be again.

At first he never ate anything till hunger constrained him, partly for grief, and partly for want of bread and salt: Nor did he go to bed, till he could watch no longer; the pimento-wood, which burnt very clear, served him both for fire and candle, and refreshed him with its fragrant smell. He might have had fish enough, but would not eat them for want of salt, because they occasioned a looseness, except crayfish which are as large as our lobsters, and very good: These he sometimes boiled, and at other times broiled, as he did his goat’s flesh, of, which he made very good broth, for they are not so rank as ours: he kept an account of 500 that he killed while there, and caught as many more, which he marked on the ear, and let go. When, his powder failed, he took them by speed of feet; for his way of living, continual exercise of walking and running cleared him of all gross humours; so that he ran with wonderful swiftness through the woods, and up the rocks and hills, as we perceived when we employed him to catch goats for us; We had a bull dog, which we lent with several of our nimblest runners, to help him in catching goats; but he distanced and tired both the dog and the men, caught the goats, and brought them to us on his back.

He told us, that his agility in pursuing a goat had once like to have cost him his life; he pursued it with so much eagerness, that he catched hold of it on the brink of a precipiece, of which he was not aware, the bushes hiding it from him; so, that he fell with the goat down the precipiece; a great height, and was to stunned and bruised with the fall, that he narrowly escaped with his life; and, when he came to his senses, found the goat dead under him: He lay there about twenty-four hours, and was scarce able to crawl to his hut, which was about a mile distant, or to stir abroad again in ten days.

He came at last to relish his meat well enough without salt or bread; and, in the season had plenty of good turreps, which had been sewed there by Captain Dampier’s men, and have now overspread some acres of ground. He had enough of good cabbage from the cabbage-trees, and seasoned his meat with the fruit of the pimento trees, which is the same as Jamaica pepper, and smells deliciously: He found also a black pepper, called Ma’azeta, which was very good to expel wind, and against gripping in the guts.

He soon wore out all his shoes and clothes by running in the woods; and at last, being forced to shift without them, his feet became so hard, that he ran everywhere without difficulty; and it was some time before he could wear shoes after we found him; for not being used to any so long, his feet swelled when he came first to wear them again.

After he had conquered his melancholy, he diverted himself sometimes with cutting his name in the trees, and the time of his being left, and continuance there. He was at first much pestered with cats and rats, that bred in great numbers, from some of each species which had got ashore from ships that put in there to wood and water: The rats gnawed his feet and cloathes whilst asleep, which obliged him to cherish the cats with his goats flesh, by which many of them became so tame, that they would lie about him in hundreds, and soon delivered him from the rats: He likewise tamed some kids; and, to divert himself would, now and then, sing and dance with them, and his cats: So that by the favour of Providence, and vigour of his youth, being now but thirty years old, he came, at last, to conquer all the inconveniencies of his solitude, and to be very easy.

When his cloathes were worn out, he made himself a coat and a cap of goat-skins, which he stiched together with little thongs of the same, that he cut with his knife, He had no other needle but a nail; and, when his knife was worn to the back, he made others, as well as he could, of some iron hoops that were left ashore, which he beat thin, and ground upon stones. Having some linnen cloth by him, he sewed him some shirts with a nail, and stiched them with the worsted of his old stockings, which he pulled out on purpose. He had his last shirt on, when we found him in the island.

At his first coming on board us, he had so much forgot his language, for want of use, that we could scarce understand him: for he seemed to speak his words by halve. We offered him a dram: but he would not touch it; having drank nothing but water since his being there; And it was sometime before he could relish our victuals. He could give us an account of no other product of the island, than what we have mentioned, except some black plums, which are very good, but hard to come at, the trees, which bear them, growing on high mountains and rocks. Pimento-trees are plenty here, and we saw some of sixty feet high and about two yards thick; and cotton-trees higher, and near four fathoms round in the stock. The climate is so good that the trees and grass are verdant all the year round. The winter lasts no longer than June and July, and is not then severe, there being only a small frost, and a little hail: but sometimes great rains. The heat of the summer is equally moderate; and there is not much thunder, or tempestuous weather of any sort. He saw no venomous or savage creature on the island, nor any sort of beasts but goats, the first of which had been put ashore here, on purpose for a breed, by Juan Fernandez, a Spaniard, who settled there with some families, till the continent of Chili began to submit to the Spaniards; which, being more profitable; tempted them to quit this island, capable however, of maintaining a good number of people, and being made so strong, that they could hot be easily dislodged from thence.’

We saw a light ashore


William Daunt,

‘Bought a horse . . . from Curly Crowley for £18. He told me he could have got £2 more from a sporting gentleman in our neighbourhood. “You would have got his promise,” said I, “but you know he is not the best pay.” “Och, I wouldn’t care for that,” returned Crowley, “for he couldn’t keep me out of the money beyond the next quarter sessions, and the cost of the process would be only five shillings.” There was something very ‘Irish’ in this notion of selling a horse on the security of a lawsuit with the purchaser. . .’

The Irish Difficulty


Lucy Cavendish,

‘The meeting was in the Keighley Mechanics’ Institute, at 8. The fine big hall was crammed in every corner. F. spoke with rather less effect than at Halifax, confining himself almost entirely to finance, but the people listened famously well, and I enjoyed the sight of their keen, shrewd faces. At first there were symptoms of opposition, from Tory, extreme Radical, and Republican (! ! !) sections, but all this seemed to dwindle away. My proudest time was during the questions, in which my old Fred does certainly excel. He is thoroughly up upon all the subjects and one could see growing respect and confidence in the faces below. Jolly old Mr. Wilson followed suit with unbounded good-will and pluck, but not quite with all the knowledge of the various matters one could wish; occasionally taking wild Radical flights, occasionally coming out rather old Tory than otherwise; but always with straightforwardness and bonhomie. What with F.’s profound earnestness and his humorous hitting, they are a good deal like Tragedy and Comedy. The meeting ended with splendid enthusiasm, and was all but unanimous, barely 6 hands being held up against us.’

Lord and Lady Cavendish



‘Spent Sunday afternoon until evening at Freud’s. This time much more personal conversation, during which he told me of his life, and I promised to bring photographs next time. Most personal of all perhaps was his charming account of the “narcissistic cat.” While Freud maintained his office on the ground floor, the cat had climbed in through the open window. He did not care much for cats or dogs or animals generally, and in the beginning the cat aroused mixed feelings in him, especially when it climbed down from the sofa on which it had made itself comfortable and began to inspect in passing the antique objects which he had placed for the time being on the floor. He was afraid that by chasing it away he might cause it to move recklessly in the midst of these precious treasures of his. But when the cat proceeded to make known its archaeological satisfaction by purring and with its lithe grace did not cause the slightest damage, Freud’s heart melted and he ordered milk for it. From then on the cat claimed its rights daily to take a place on the sofa, inspect the antiques, and get its bowl of milk. However, despite Freud’s increasing affection and admiration, the cat paid him not a bit of attention and coldly turned its green eyes with their slanting pupils toward him as toward any other object. When for an instant he wanted more of the cat than its egoistic-narcissistic purring, he had to put his foot down from his comfortable chaise and court its attention with the ingenious enticement of his shoe-toe. Finally, after this unequal relationship had lasted a long time without change, one day he found the cat feverish and gasping on the sofa. And although it was most painstakingly treated with hot fomentations and other remedies, it succumbed to pneumonia, leaving naught of itself behind but a symbolic picture of all the peaceful and playful charm of true egoism.

Freud also talked about why I had become so deeply involved in psychoanalysis. To begin with, it was nothing but the kind of neutral objective interest that one feels when embarking on new researches. Then the opportunity came in all its liveliness and personal urgency to stand in the presence of a new science, again and again to be at a beginning and thus related to the problems of the science in an increasingly intimate way. What settled the matter for me, however, was the third and most personal reason that psychoanalysis bestowed a gift on me personally, its radiant enrichment of my own life that came from slowly groping the way to the roots by which it is embedded in the totality. When Freud said laughingly “I really think you look on analysis as a sort of Christmas present,” I could only agree, since for me it was not a question of resolving conflicts between the depth and the surface. And quite possibly neither joy nor anguish are ever so vividly impressed on us as when they proceed from the unconscious to the level of experience; just as bliss once enjoyed can be horribly transformed into pain in the course of the night, so too it is likely that the memory of hours of crucifixion may be transformed to a life beyond, a resurrection glistening with the stars. In the homeland of our emotional life it is true that heaven and hell - in other respects only fictions - are preserved for us in the unconscious as our eternal reality.’

A sort of Christmas present


Pierre Gilliard,

‘23° R. below zero. Prince Dolgorouky and I watered the snow mountain. We carried thirty buckets of water. It was so cold that the water froze on the way from the kitchen tap to the mountain. Our buckets and the snow mountain “steamed.” To-morrow the children can begin tobogganing.’

State of mental anguish


Zorina Gray,

‘First dress rehearsal. Went quite well - I personally was very dissatisfied - didn't act as well as I have - danced dreadfully badly - and anyhow it was so peculiar in the bedroom scene - had to kiss Jack Whiting, which I found so embarrassing - have no idea after all how to kiss on the stage.’

My knees felt like macaroni


Samuel Beckett,

‘[Willi Grohmann s]ays it is more interesting to stay than to go, even if it were possible to go. They can’t control thoughts. Length of regime impossible to estimate, depends mostly on economic outshot. If it breaks down it is fitting for him and his kind to be on the spot, to go under or become active again. Already a fraternity of intellectuals, where freedom to grumble is less than the labourer’s, because the labourer’s grumble is not dangerous.

[. . .]

‘I am always depressed and left with [a] sense of worthlessness at the beautifully applied energy of these people [his German friends], the exactness of documentation, completeness of equipment ... and authenticity of vocation. In comparison I am utterly alone (no group even of my own kind) and without purpose alone and pathologically indolent and limp and opinionless and consternated. The little trouble I give myself, this absurd diary with its lists of pictures, serves no purpose, is only the act of an obsessional neurotic. Counting pennies would do as well. An ‘open-mindedness’ that is mindlessness, the sphincter of the mind limply for ever open, the mind past the power of closing itself to everything but its own content, or rather its own treatment of a content.

I have never thought for myself. I have switched off the incipient thought in terror for so long that I couldn’t think now for half-a-minute if my life (!) depended on it.’

This absurd diary


James Tiptree, Jr.,

‘The distasteful proof of my sexuality is bound up with masochistic fantasies of helplessness [. . .] depressed me profoundly. I am not a man, I am not the do-er, the penetrator. And Tiptree was “magical” manhood, his pen my prick. I had through him all the power and prestige of masculinity, I was - though an aging intellectual - of those who own the world. How I loathe being a woman. Wanting to be done to. [. . .]

Tiptree’s “death” has made me face - what I never really went into with Bob [Harper] - my self-hate as a woman. And my view of the world as structured by raw power. [. . .] I want power. I want to be listened to. [. . .] And I’ll never have it. I’m stuck with this perverse, second-rate body; my life.’

Julie Phillips goes on to say: ‘What she needed, she kept thinking was “to change in some way inside myself.” She decided she should try lesbian sex. [. . .] She wrote in her journal, “I want to make love to young women, to make them come, and happy. Maybe then masturbate myself. Sex as activity. It could work. I shall start to mix it with women’s groups, looking to actualize this. I really believe I shall. I think I could make my aged self palatable enough. It was all straight-arrow.” But she didn’t do it.’

Sci-fi writer’s double life


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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.

Not a Brave New World is an extraordinary fictional memoir, a trilogy in three wives, spanning the whole of the 21st century: one man’s - Kip Fenn’s - frank account, sometimes acutely painful and sometimes surprisingly joyful, of his three partners, and his career in international diplomacy working to tackle the rich-poor divide.

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Kip Fenn is a success: his career has taken off within a major UN agency trying to spread wealth from the rich to the poor. But all is not well with the world - the golden age of oil and chips is now over, and unsustainable development is leading to social turmoil, and to world war. Kip has found love and a new family, but he can find no way to stop his older children self-destruct; nor does he realise his partner’s deceit.

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Third time lucky - Kip Fenn finds true love. His UN career though is ending with a whimper. Another terrible war is cut short by the devastating Grey Years, and while nations rebuild many individuals turn Notek. In restless retirement, Kip’s lifelong passion for vintage photos sees him launching a new arts institution. But who is the mysterious visitor by his bedside, and how will she affect his planned deathday?


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

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