And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

3 February

Joseph Wolff,

‘Luigi Assemani desired to argue with me again about faith in the Pope, the Virgin Mary, and the saints. But as he is very young, I thought it not fair to argue with him; I told him, therefore, that I advised him to read the Word of God diligently, which tells us, that God shall add the plagues written in that book unto the man who should add to it; and that he should read that word of God with prayer, and then he would perceive the reason of my disbelief in the Pope.’

Read the Word of God


Thomas Raikes,

‘The Queen opened the Parliament in person, attended by the King of Prussia, who sat on her right hand. The Speech, of course, only deals in general allusions to the future measures. The Address was moved by Lord March, eldest son of the Duke of Richmond, which shows that the agricultural interests are not angry. The Duke of Beaufort is come to town, and has received his Garter.’

A mania for gossip


John A. Dahlgren,
naval commander

‘The public is disquieted with apprehension of British intervention. How stands the game? It is one year since five of the Cotton States seceded from us. The Northern States have an army of 600,000 men in the field. The Navy has been expanded so as to command the Southern seaboard. We hold a point on the coast of North Carolina, one in South Carolina, and one in Florida. In a word, we are just prepared to move, and only wait on the weather. The first weather that freezes the road hard, ought to be the signal. Will it be?

The opportunity for decision seems brief, from two causes, - one financial, the other political. A debt of not less than five hundred millions has been incurred for this preparation, without the first step to provide for it; so the public credit has been used to its full extent, and we are threatened with want of funds.

The other difficulty is from abroad. England cautiously but surely progresses towards intervention. . . Mason and Slidell are demanded by an ultimatum, and now we have threats of more direct interference, for which purpose she does not relax in preparation for war. . . It is now evident that the pivot of affairs lay in the period beginning at the time when the attack of Sumter was decided, and the abandonment of Norfolk. The loss of Norfolk was almost fatal; could that have been held, the fate of Virginia might have been otherwise.

The Department had one month to send there a suitable Commandant and officers, which was not done. So the latter deserted and the former was helpless.

How much has it cost, only to ward off the consequences of this mistake! . . .’

The ‘father’ of US naval ordnance


George Henschel,

‘Brahms arrived yesterday. I am glad my hoarseness is gradually disappearing, for the thought of singing, at the concert day after tomorrow, those high notes in his “Triumphal Hymn” for Double Chorus and Baritone Solo, rather troubled me. I asked him if eventually he would object to my altering some of the highest notes into more convenient ones on account of my cold, and he said: “Not in the least. As far as I am concerned, a thinking, sensible singer may, without hesitation, change a note which for some reason or other is for the time being out of his compass, into one which he can reach with comfort, provided always the declamation remains correct and the accentuation does not suffer.’

In a hammock with Brahms


Francis Turner Palgrave,
civil servant and poet

‘A very pleasant visit to Browning. He was very affectionate and open, and told much of his earlier days. I was sorry to hear that he had lately been clearing his papers, and had burnt letters which, while his parents lived, he had written to them by way of minute daily journal from Russia, Italy, and England.’

Professor of poetry


Lady Aberdeen,

‘Some doubt has been expressed as to whether our historical fancy dress Ball should proceed because of the mourning. But as it is fixed for a month after Prince Henry’s death, as its being put off would not only entail loss not only on the tradesmen but on the guests who have gone to a good deal of trouble in ordering their dresses, & as postponement to after Lent would be very precarious seeing the state of political affairs, we think there can be no doubt about its going on. It is to be on the 17th, the last possible day before Lent, & now people are fairly interested in it. At the outset, the project had a good deal of cold water dashed at it - there was not time - people would not dress - people had not the money & so on. Then when we arranged with Montreal costumiers to provide dresses for gentlemen from $5 to $10, wigs & shoes extra & to give designs for costumes for ladies free, leaving them to have them made up, there came the political crisis. The costumiers came & took rooms at Ottawa & sat there & waited, but no one came - everybody was at the House.

Dr Bourinot, the clerk of the House of Commons (and a great authority on constitutional history), has been my mainstay. He suggested all the personages we might represent and their characteristics & has entered into the whole affair with enthusiasm. To tell the honest truth, we started this idea of having a Ball representing the outstanding periods of Canadian history, with the hope that it might lead to the young people reading up a bit & that it might divert Ottawa gossip at least into past times, away from all the painful & humiliating episodes of the present political situation & the everlasting discussion of hockey & winter sports varied with Ottawa society scandal. It was a sort of forlorn hope, but actually it appears to be succeeding - the last fortnight has made a great difference & now you hear everyone anxious to trace out the lineage & deeds of General this & Admiral that & of Madame la Marquise or the others. We had a meeting of the ladies who have undertaken to organise dances representing the various periods last Saturday & ascertained their views on various points. I enclose a copy of what we have put in the papers on this point.’

God save the Queen


Lady Minto,

The Drummonds left at 8 a. m. Roily and I started in the motor at 11 o’clock for Barrackpore; the others came by launch. The Amir arrived at 1 o’clock and remained till 6 o’clock; he enjoyed himself so enormously. I was so exhausted after looking after him for all those hours that I went straight to bed, having had a terrible week of fatigue with the Fete. The Adams, Clem, Violet Crawley, and Lena Ashburton all came to help us to entertain the Amir, but what he really enjoyed was playing croquet with Eileen; he had never seen the game before, and enjoyed it so much that to my horror he suggested returning the next day to have another lesson. Sir Henry McMahon came to our assistance and put difficulties in the way. There was a good deal of chaff about a policeman who was engaged to guide him from Hastings House to the Lieutenant-Governor’s, a distance of a 100 yards; but the man lost his head and took him round and round and contrived to keep him 3/4 of an hour en route. The Amir said he was quite glad of this, as it had given him such amusement. I told him that he had visited so many places in Calcutta that he must know the city so much better than I did, that he could certainly be my guide. He answered with a bow - “If I was your guide, I should only guide you to Hastings House” (where he is lodging). After luncheon he said he had a few presents he wished to give us, and under the banyan tree were four separate piles of goods for myself and the three girls. He took the greatest delight in giving us each individual thing. The girls waited while he made me my presentations - first a lovely diamond and ruby bird of paradise, then some Astrakhan skins and other furs, and innumerable stuffs all made in Afghanistan, a shawl he insisted on pinning round me, and lastly two beautiful Persian rugs. Each girl had exactly the same in smaller numbers: Eileen a lovely ruby and diamond ribband ornament, Ruby five small diamond stars, and Violet one larger one, unfortunately all set in gold. Rolly was given the presents on a previous occasion. Gigantic carpets, furs, stuffs - and some Indian silver; also a silver cigarette-case with Venus in coloured enamel! a most startling apparition, but these will have to go to the Toshakahna. The Amir and I drove round the garden in the small pony-carriage. He is very fat and broad, and I had almost to sit on the spash board to avoid being squeezed flat by his portly figure. The shrubs are looking beautiful and are now in full bloom. Bill Lascelles has returned from Singapore; be was nearly boiled alive, and is most thankful to have got back again. It was an expedition he is glad to have experienced but is heartily thankful it is over.’

Lady Minto’s Indian diary


Lady Minto,

‘Remained at Barrackpore till the evening, planning garden improvements. Our big dinner party was postponed on account of the court mourning. Returned to Calcutta.’

Lady Minto’s Indian diary


Zorina Gray,

‘It was very exciting this afternoon - the public was present and liked it a lot. They died of laughter over Olive Blackney, who is such a marvelous comedienne. All my scenes went very well until the change from the striptease girl into the ballet costume, but Zenobia went without a hitch, which gives me a lot of confidence. Wiman and Henson were so sweet to me - one can’t imagine it - Henson: “I am so happy to have worked with you - and always keep your head as small as it is now.” Received long, long letter from Louis Shurr with big prospects for Hollywood.’

My knees felt like macaroni


Anne Frank,
young woman

‘I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway. I’ll just let matters take their course and concentrate on studying and hope that everything will be all right in the end.’

This cruelty too shall end


Giovannino Guareschi,

‘They fill a pot with water, measure out the meat and the powdered extracts, close the airtight lid, light the gas and then, when a certain valve emits a whistling sound, the soup is ready.

Their way of making war is very much the same. Into the pot they cast human flesh, explosive powders, and extracts from manuals of military science, then they put on the lid of uncompromising discipline and wait for a whistle to tell them that it’s all over.

Only the whistle doesn’t blow, and the pot explodes into a thousand pieces.’

A thousand pieces


Edward Reilly Stettinius Jr.,

‘I attended a dinner which the president gave for Mr. Churchill and Marshal Stalin at Livadia Palace [Yalta]. During the greater part of the dinner the conversation was general and personal in character. But during the last half hour the subject of the responsibilities and rights of the big powers as against those of the small powers came up. Marshal Stalin stressed in his remarks his feeling that the three Great Powers which had borne the burden of the war should be the ones to preserve the peace. He said it was ridiculous to think that a country like Albania should or could have an equal voice with the United Kingdom, the United States, or the USSR. It was they who had won the war. He said he was prepared to join with the United States and Great Britain to protect the small powers but that he could never agree to having any action of any of Great Powers submitted to the judgment of the small powers. The president and prime minister said that they agreed that the Great Powers would necessarily bear the major responsibility for the peace but that it was essential that they exercise their power with moderation and with respect for the rights of the smaller nations.

After Marshal Stalin and the president had left, I talked with the prime minister and Mr. Eden briefly on the voting question. The prime minister reiterated that he had been inclined to the Russian view on voting procedure because he felt everything depended on maintaining the unity of the three Great Powers. Without that the world would be doomed to inevitable catastrophe and anything that preserved that unity would have his vote. Mr. Eden took vigorous exception to the prime minister’s statement on voting procedure and said he believed the United States formula was the minimum essential to attract the support of the small nations to the organization, nor did he feel that the British people themselves would accept a ruling of unqualified unanimity.’

At dinner with Stalin


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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.