And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

6 February

Ki no Tsurayuki,

[New Year’s Day] ‘Still they remained at the same place. The byakusan had been placed for safe-keeping during the night in the ship’s cabin; but the wind which is usual at this time of year got up and blew it all into the sea. They had nothing left to drink, no potatoes, no seaweed and no rice-cakes; the neighbourhood could supply nothing of this kind, and so their wants could not be satisfied. They could no nothing more than suck the head of a trout. What must the trout have thought of everybody sucking it in turn! That day he could think of nothing but the Capital, and talk of nothing but the straw rope stretched across the Gates of the Imperial Palace, the mullet heads and the holly.’ [These foods etc. are all to do with the then customs of New Year.]

The earliest literary diary


Narcissus Luttrell,

‘Sir John Brownlow presented the petition of the inhabitants of the town of Newark in the county of Nottingham and Sir Edward Hussey presented another from Sir Richard Earl, complaining of the undue election of Sir Francis Mollineux for that borough. They were received, read, and referred to the Committee of Elections and Privileges.

The bill for prohibiting the importation of foreign buttons was reported.

Sir John Darell, Mr. Clarke, and Mr. Harley spoke against it that it would only encourage a monopoly of the trade and make the workmen idle and exact more upon the people, and only put the importers of them to bring them in by stealth.

Sir Robert Cotton, Mr. Colt, and Mr. Pery spoke for the bill that it was to encourage our own manufacture - buttons being entirely so. The wood is our own and so is the horse hair, which is exported hence and returned you home manufactured, whereby you lose the employment of many of your poor and consequently they must lie upon your hands.

However, the bill with the amendments was ordered to be engrossed.

The engrossed bill for the aulnage [the inspection and measurement of woollen cloth] was read the third time and passed, with the title, and Sir Robert Davers to carry it up to the Lords for their concurrence.

Then the House resolved itself immediately into a committee upon the ways and means for raising the supply for Their Majesties; Mr. Attorney to the Chair.

Mr. Neale proposed for raising the remainder of the taxes to lay a duty upon all paper and parchment used for public matters and all such to be made on this sealed paper and parchment.

Sir Thomas Clarges desired before the House went upon considering how to raise any more money, the House would compute what they had already given. The land tax I reckon at £2,200,000, the project bill at £1,000,000, the revenue £1,000,000, the continued impositions besides sugar £500,000, joint stocks £57,000. And for the duties I have offered to you I will present you with a computation thereof, and when that is done I do not think there will be above £200,000 to raise. [. . .]’

Banning foreign buttons

Washington Irving
, writer

‘This morning, Lieuts Murray and Gardner, and Capt Hall, of the ship President, Capt Dent of the Nautilus, and myself, set off to pay another visit to the Ear of Dionysius. We despatched beforehand a midshipman and four sailors with a spar and a couple of halyards. On arriving there, we went to the top of the precipice immediately over the mouth of the cave. Here we fastened ourselves to one of the halyards, and were lowered successively over the edge of the precipice (having previously disposed the spar along the edge of the rock so as to keep the halyard from chafing) into a small hole over the entrance of the Ear, and about fifteen feet from the summit of the precipice. The persons lowered were Murray, Hall, the midshipman, and myself, the others swearing they would not risk their necks to gratify their curiosity.

The cavern narrows as it approaches the top, until it ends in a narrow channel that runs the whole extent, and terminates in this small chamber. A passage from this hole or chamber appears to have been commenced to be cut to run into the interior of the rock, but was never carried more than ten or fifteen feet. We then began to make experiments to prove if sound was communicated from below to this spot in an extraordinary degree. Gardner fired a pistol repeatedly, but it did not appear to make a greater noise than when we were below in the mouth of the cavern. We then tried the conveyance of voices; in this we were more successful. One of the company stationed himself at the interior extremity of the Ear, and applying his mouth close to the wall, spoke to me just above a whisper. I was then stationed with my ear to the wall in the little chamber on high and about two hundred and fifty feet distant, and could hear him very distinctly. We conversed with one another in this manner for some time. We then moved to other parts of the cavern, and I could hear him with equal facility, his voice seeming to be just behind me. When, however, he applied his voice to the opposite side of the cave, it was by no means so distinct. This is easily accounted for, as one side of the channel is broken away at the mouth of the cavern, which injures the conveyance of the sound. After all, I doubt very much whether the cave was ever intended for the purpose ascribed to it. The fact is, that when more than one person speaks at a time, it creates such a confusion of sound between their voices and the echoes, that it is impossible to distinguish what they say. This we tried repeatedly, and found to be invariably the case.’

‘But,’ writes Pierre Irving about these journal entries, ‘the antiquities of Syracuse did not engage the exclusive attention of the traveller. He found a romantic interest in visiting the convents, and endeavoring to get ‘a sly peep’ at the nuns [and the] following extract from his journal shows him seeking amusement in another scene.’

Echoes in the Ear


Mirza Abul Hassan Khan,

I went [. . .] to a glass and mirror manufactory, where we observed stones and other ingredients combined and melted in furnaces to produce clear, jewel-like glass. I enquired about the glass and mirror industry and asked if there were any other, superior, manufacturers of mirrors. The man replied honestly: “English artisans are highly skilled and unrivalled throughout Europe. But the French produce a better-quality mirror because of the different materials they use.” The fairness of the master’s reply pleased me and I ordered two qalians [water pipes] from him. They made two sets for me by hand.

From there we went to a crystal-cutting factory. We looked around and were told the prices of various patterns. English cut-crystal is superior to that of other countries because the English have a greater appreciation of art.

Finally we visited a gunsmith renowned for the manufacture of shotguns and pistols. The perfection of his workmanship is universally recognized - he has no peer in all of Europe.

The artisans of London excel in every craft with the exception of brocade-weaving. But European brocades are rarely used here because their import is prohibited by Royal decree. English leather and metal-work are also of high quality. But prices are high in London. For example: a knife coasts four ‘guineas’. (A ‘guinea’ is the equivalent of one Iranian toman, sometimes more.) Even the drinking water is sold and brings a revenue of 90,000 tomans a year.

I was utterly amazed!


Phebe Orvis,

‘Stormy. began to find myself on the road to Vermont. eight sleighs in company. rode eight miles to Oliverts. prepared breakfast for the whole. in good spirits rode ten miles to Robinson’s, ten miles to Bankers. left Bird and Eastman. rode six miles to Gordon’s, Plattsburg village. crossed on Cumberland head. snowed so we could scarcely perceive the Bushes in the cracks put up at Fletcher’s on the Grand Isle. prepared tea. visited late with the Ladies. they were preparing for Installation tomorrow.’

An extraordinary ordinary woman


Elizabeth Smith,

‘Very fine hunting morning, bright but cold. Had cold luncheon ready in the hall for the hunters, no one called in but the Doctor who made a good dinner and gave Janey and me a Latin lesson, and told us Lady Milltown was not well, complaining of no one ever calling on her, out of spirits. Her Lord complaining that she never dresses till near dinner-time, an idle slovenly habit she learned in France, never stirs out, she that used to be so active, he don’t know on earth what to do with her; so it must be for she has no pursuit. With that beautiful house [Russborough] full of the choicest works of art she has no pleasure in it but to see it now and then dusted, her fine family of children are no resource to her. She is incapable of assisting in their education. No reader, beyond a novel which only wearies the spirits, no worker.

And here let me remind you, dear little girls, of an old saying of dear Grandmama’s that a woman who had not pleasure in her needle was never happy, and very seldom good, it may sound a little forced but it is nevertheless perfectly true. A woman has so many solitary hours. Reading through all would be very far from profitable to her, a scientifick pursuit or a devotion to some particular art would withdraw her attention too much from these numberless little duties upon which the happiness of all around her depends.

Besides this want of occupation poor Lady Milltown has had the misfortune to yield to a vile, irritable, jealous, malicious temper which has alienated every friend, and of what avail to her is all her wit and her talent and her rank of which she is so vain now that she is getting old? The spirits that once carried her through are deserting her and she has nothing to replace them with, no one loves her, not even her children, I can’t excuse her failings though I make every allowance for her entire want of education, her early marriage to a profligate man, her later marriage to an unprincipled one, for she knows the right way, and won’t pursue it.’A Highland diarist in Ireland

A highland diarist in Ireland


George Henschel,

‘Yesterday was the concert. Brahms played his Pianoforte Concerto in D Minor superbly. I especially noted his emphasizing each of those tremendous shakes in the first movement by placing a short rest between the last note of one and the first small note before the next. During those short stops he would lift his hands up high and let them come down on the keys with a force like that of a lion’s paw. It was grand.

Dear old Isegrim conducted and fairly chuckled with joy at every beautiful phrase. The glorious but horribly difficult “Triumphal Hymn” conducted by Brahms, went splendidly. It was a veritable triumph for the composer. The joy and gratification expressed in Brahms’ face at the end, when acknowledging the enthusiastic acclamations of audience, chorus, and orchestra, was evidently caused as much by the consciousness of having written a truly great work, as by its reception and appreciation; a most welcome change from the affected excess of modesty often exhibited on concert platforms.

My throat not being quite well yet, I changed, with Brahms’ approval, the dreaded phrase [line of music ] and sang it like this [line of music] by which Brahms’ intention of emphasizing the word “heavens” was still carried out, the note “c” remaining the highest of the phrase.’

In a hammock with Brahms


Lady Minto,

‘Violet, Francis, and I motored into the slums of the city and witnessed the worship of the Goddess of Wisdom by hundreds of little Hindu children. They sang a sort of chant, and then offered flowers. They have all sorts of strange traditions - if any worshipper of Saraswati does not abstain from using pen and ink on the feast day, they expect to be struck dumb. I believe they all prayed that I might have some share in the wisdom that the goddess freely dispenses; this no doubt will benefit me greatly during remainder of the year. The priest were delighted at my visit, and I departed covered with garlands, and scattering petals of flowers that clung to my garments.’

Lady Minto’s Indian diary


Zorina Gray,

‘Today Saturday. The reviews are fabulous. All kinds of people call to congratulate - my bathtub is an ocean of flowers. Very good performance. A man came from Fox films and wants to make a test.’

My knees felt like macaroni


Arthur Schlesinger,

‘I settled down in an office in the East Wing of the White House and tried to find out what I was supposed to do. I had the impression that JFK was equally baffled, and he had somewhat more weighty matters on his mind. McGeorge Bundy was most helpful in this sterile period, as was Fred Holborn. The others at the White House went about their business.

JFK decided to have a personal representative accompany [George McGovern] the Food For Peace mission and underline his concern about general Latin American problems. Because he had been told of the disaffection of the Latin American intellectual community, the choice fell on me. I guess he decided that this would dramatize as effectively as anything the shift from the Old to the New Frontier. My first reaction to the proposal that I should go was that it sounded like a WPA project. But on consideration it seemed to present opportunities; and in any case I had no real choice but to go (though JFK put it up to me in a manner which would have permitted me to decline).

What Latin America needs above all is revolution - not proletarian or peasant revolution, but middle-class revolution. Mexico, Brazil and Argentina have achieved semi-revolutions. The other countries (how rashly I generalize) remain under the control of the landholding oligarchy. This oligarchy constitutes the chief barrier to the middle-class revolution and, by thwarting the middle-class revolution, may well bring about the proletarian revolution.

The gap between the U.S. and the rest of the hemisphere is widening - i.e., our living standards are rising faster than theirs.’

Nixon - ‘the greatest shit’


Andy Warhol,

‘Went to church. Worked some more on drawings. Went to bed early. The phone didn’t ring all day.’

The Andy Warhol Diaries


Pikle - The Diary Review - The Diary Junction - Contact

And so made significant . . .
and its companion websites -
The Diary Review
and The Diary Junction - are maintained privately without any funding or advertising. Please consider supporting their author/editor by purchasing one or more of his books: the memoir, Why Ever Did I Want to Write, and the Not a Brave New World trilogy.
Thank you.

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.

GILLIAN - Book 1 - Amazon (US/UK)
Kip Fenn’s first love is in a coma. His father suddenly isn’t his father. After formative trips to Brussels and Brazil, Kip wins a civil service job. Unfortunately, a media baron discovers his sexual weakness and is blackmailing him for government secrets. If only Kip could find solace in his wife’s arms or joy in his children.

DIANA - Book 2 - Amazon (US/UK)
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.

LIZETTE - Book 3 - Amazon (US/UK)
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.

in diary days



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.

SITE DEVISED by Paul K Lyons

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.