And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

2 January

1724
Jonathan Edwards
, theologian

‘These things established, - That time gained in things of lesser importance, is as much gained in things of greater; that a minute gained in times of confusion, conversation, or in a journey, is as good as minute gained in my study, at my most retired times; and so, in general, that a minute gained at one time is as good as at another.’

Sinking so exceedingly

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1766
John Bartram,
scientist

‘White frost on the boat; thermometer 35. Set out to view the cove, which was surrounded with extensive marshes on the south-side, on the east and west with marshes, several hundred yards wide, then a narrow cypress-swamp joined to the common pine-land; we came again into the river 80 yards broad, which ran at first a south course, then bended east for several miles: We saw very extensive marshes on each side (with several short cypress-trees and maple-hammocks interspersed) until we came to a pond on the south, soon after which we landed and climbed up a tree, from which we had a prospect of the lake lying N. W. with an extensive marsh between: We observed many short willows, but the woody swamps are chiefly black and white ash, with red maple next the river, and generally a cypress-swamp interposed between the pine-lands and swamps of ash; we rowed several courses in sight of extensive marshes and swamps, 2. 3 or 4 miles wide more or less; the river was pretty high, 2 foot above the driest times, by reason of the great rains, yet it barely covered the swamps even in pretty low places, but indeed there is little difference in their height for scores of miles, unless near the palmetto and pine-lands: We landed on a shelly bluff of 2 or three acres of sour orange-trees full of fruit; then rowing along the cypress-trees, which grew here next the river, a deep swamp interposed between the cypress and pine-lands; we came to Clement’s Bluff, where we encamped on a shelly bank 12 foot perpendicular; the lower part next the water was an indurated shelly rock, the bluff is 300 yards long and one broad, more or less, beyond which it gradually declines back to a fine savannah, then to the pine lands, palmetto and shrubby oaks; this is on the west-side of the river, as is the orange-grove; thermometer 48. P. M.’

The father of American botany

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1772
Count de Benyovszky,
soldier and explorer

‘On the 2d, I sold my vessel to a Portugueze merchant, for the sum of four thousand five hundred piastres, ready money, and as much on credit: the Governor reserved to himself the whole of the stores.’

The king of Madagascar

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1833
William Macready,
actor

‘My performance this evening of Macbeth afforded me a striking evidence of the necessity there is for thinking over my characters previous to playing, and establishing, by practice if necessary, the particular modes of each scene and important passage. I acted with much energy, but could not (as I sometimes can, when holding the audience in wrapt attention) listen to my own voice, and feel the truth of its tones. It was crude, and uncertain, though spirited and earnest; but much thought is yet required to give an even energy and finished style to all the great scenes of the play, except perhaps the last, which is among the best things I am capable of. Knowles is ravished with his own acting, and the supposed support it has met with. I wish I was with mine.’

Acted Macbeth very unequally

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1941
Charles Graves,
writer

‘Walked to the office, though it was bitterly cold, by way of the Embankment. The Temple has certainly caught it again, and there was a continuous sound of broken glass being swept from the pavement and knocked-down windows. [. . .] Lunched at the Press Club, where I was told that the crater near Piccadilly Circus has caused nine people to fall and break some limb during the past three nights. It is high time that Marylebone and Westminster improved their system of lighting where the road is blocked and bomb craters have been formed.’

A hell of a night

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1942
General Basilio Valdes,
doctor and politician

‘After luncheon the President, Mrs. Quezon and their children were seated in the hospital tunnel [Malinta Tunnel, Corregidor], between laterals 11 & 9 where we were lodged. Two bombs fell on the hill on top of the tunnel, one of them near the main entrance. The whole mountain shook. Suddenly a terrific explosion was heard. A bomb had fallen 20 yards from the kitchen exit of the hospital tunnel. The lights were extinguished as a bomb had hit a generator. As the noise of the explosion was heard, simultaneously with the extinguishing of the lights, someone ordered aloud “everybody lie on the floor”. I did not do it as I thought it was absurd and ridiculous. I went to lateral 11 to get my flashlight from my bed and when I entered it I found the High Commissioner, Mrs. Sayre and his assistants lying on the cement floor. Someone turned on a flashlight. I saw the President, holding Mrs. Quezon moving towards his bed. There they sat. I took my flashlight and rushed back to the main hospital tunnel to see if someone else was been hurt. No one - Thank God! I sat down and waited.’

Aurora Quezon’s bomb fuse

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1943
George Adamson,
conservationist

‘Went along the river bank with Joy and called a croc. She radiated sex and I only just managed to keep a hold on myself.’

A life of Joy and lions

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1985
John Lowe, miner

‘Back to the grind with the alarm set for 4.15am. We must be bloody crackers. Seven of us turned up for the first picket and we were disappointed to find only one policeman on duty, the idle swines.’

How bloody corrupt

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1997
Ken Wilber,
religious author

‘Worked all morning, research and reading, while watching the sunlight play through the falling snow. The sun in not yellow today, it is white, like the snow, so I am surrounded by white on white, alone on alone. Sheer Emptiness, soft clear light, is what it all looks like, shimmering to itself in melancholy murmurs. I am released into that Emptiness, and all is radiant on this clear light day.’

On sheer emptiness

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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.