And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

8 February

Joanna Mary Boyce

‘Finished watercolour drawing of Stolzenfels Castle, old Welsh fiddler. Went with Wells to Hancocks studio. Saw there in plaster a splendid figure of Dante’s ‘Beatrice’ by him.’

The best head in the rooms


John Ruskin,
writer and art critic

‘Began description of valley of Chamouni and finished my rocks at Glen Finlas [in the Ashmolean Museum]. Went up with Sophy to Mr Griffiths and saw a wonderful Turner, of a Diligence deep in snow by moonlight and firelight [probably The Dover Mail]. . .’

John Ruskin’s birthdays


John Ruskin,
writer and art critic

‘How utterly sad these last birthdays have been, in 67 and 68. I am not much better today, but in better element of work. Wild wind and dark morning. I proceed to botanize.’

John Ruskin’s birthdays


John Ruskin,
writer and art critic

‘The sun does not rise by ten minutes, her to that time, we so westing, and the days last already till full six, with long twilights.

Yesterday glorious walk in snow to the tarn in hollow - Goat’s water - and not in the least touched with fatigue by a mile’s row and six mile’s walk up sixteen hundred feet; and write this and my Greek notes at 7 in the morning, sans spectacles. [. . .] I must try to make my daily life more perfect as I grow old.’

John Ruskin’s birthdays


Henry J. Heinz,

‘John and I had a few words because he misses the first train in the morning.’

Caught in the mustard mill


Pierre Gilliard,

‘The soldiers’ committee has to-day decided to replace Pankratof by a Bolshevik commissary from Moscow. Things are going from bad to worse. It appears that there is no longer a state of war between Soviet Russia and Germany, Austria, and Bulgaria. The army is to be disbanded, but Lenin and Trotsky have not yet signed the peace.’

State of mental anguish


Robert Musil,

‘Art has to have an immediate effect! This is one of the most dangerous prejudices. Yet it remains a goal that one constantly tries to achieve. After all, it wouldn’t be difficult to analyze what is required of something to have an immediate effect. The most difficult thing about this is somewhat like a meeting. The immediate impression that some people give is that of peace, sublimity, etc., and this is what is demanded of art. People want to be won over from the very first word, etc. This is not completely unjustified but leads to neglect of books that are demonic, Titanic, (unpleasant) and so forth.’

A man with qualities


Joseph Goebbels,

‘Rosenberg wrote me a letter stating that he intends to oppose the idea of a fight against the religious denominations. That’s really too funny for words! Now, when we are in a tight pinch, everybody poses as a champion who fights against the very things that he himself started. I suppose the final result will be that those of us who have for years opposed the folly of our pronouncements on the religious question and similar things will be regarded as the real originators of the difficulties resulting from this folly!’

The Nuremberg ten


Galeazzo Ciano,

‘I hand over my office at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Then I go to the Palazzo Venezia to see the Duce and take leave of him. He tells me “Now you must consider that you are going to have a period of rest. Then your turn will come again. Your future is in my hands, and therefore you need not worry!” He thanks me for what I have done and quickly enumerates my most important services. “If they had given us three years’ time we might have been able to wage war under different conditions or perhaps it would not have been at all necessary to wage it.” He then asked me if I had all my documents in order. “Yes,” I answered. “I have them all in order, and remember, when hard times come - because it is now certain that hard times will come - I can document all the treacheries perpetrated against us by the Germans, one after another, from the preparation of the conflict to the war on Russia, communicated to us when their troops had already crossed the border. If you need them I shall provide the details, or, better still, I shall, within the space of 24 hours, prepare that speech which I have had in my mind for three years, because I shall burst if I do not deliver it.” He listened to me in silence and almost agreed with me. Today he was concerned about the situation because the retreat on the Eastern Front continues to be almost a rout. He has invited me to see him frequently, “even every day.” Our leave-taking was cordial, for which I am very glad, because I like Mussolini, like him very much, and what I shall miss the most will be my contact with him.’

I like Mussolini, very much


Guy Liddell,
intelligence officer

‘[Fuchs] has told us that his Russian contact in London is known by the name of ALEXANDER. We believe him to be Alexander KRAMER. He also said that he was told, if he wished for a further meeting, to throw a magazine into a garden in Kew with an indication of the rendezvous on page 10. [. . .] If a meeting was to take place there would be a chalk mark on a local lamp post. This is interesting as it is the same technique given by . . . to SHAG. Lastly, FUCHS made it fairly clear that he does not intend to go back on his confession.’

He shines in the dark


André Laurendeau,

‘A lot has gone on recently that I don’t have time to go into, but I will go into one incident having to do with the Department of External Affairs.

Occasionally, ever since the beginning of the inquiry, French-Canadian civil servants have proved to be very uncooperative. It’s quite understandable: in order for them to pursue a career in the civil service as it now exists, they have had to accept it for the most part, even though it was hard on them and they did their best to see it progress to some extent.

Everything I’ve just said applies, I believe, to Marcel Cadieux, Assistant Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. We learned that the officials of this department wanted to submit a crucial paper; Mr. Cadieux intervened, and there would no longer be a paper. He didn’t like our using André Patry to investigate various aspects related to Canada abroad. He made his position clear to us through a letter signed by his minister, Mr. Martin, after which we met him. He was accompanied by one of his departmental chiefs who was taking notes. His official attitude came down to this: the Commission was not asked to investigate Canada’s foreign policy - which was patently obvious, no more than it was asked to investigate the running of trains by CNR, or the way the Armed Forces ensure Canada’s defence. However, we have to sniff around quite a bit to fulfil our mandate. And that’s what we answered, unwaveringly. Another letter from Mr. Cadieux summarized the meeting leaving out essential details, but Mr. Dunton courteously set the record straight in a subsequent letter. It was even said that Mr. Cadieux was quietly campaigning against our way of doing things with his colleagues, the deputy ministers. It remains to be seen if this is in fact true and what consequences it might have.’

What might have been


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And so made significant . . .
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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

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.