And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

23 January

Cesare Borgia,
priest and politician

‘On Wednesday, the 23rd of January, 1503, the report was circulated in Rome that Cesare had brought under his rule recently Chiusi and Pienza as well as the places of Sarteano, Castle della Pieve and Santo Quirico, where only two old men and nine old women were found. The men of the Duke hung them up by the arms and lighted fires beneath their soles, in order to force them through this torture to confess where property had been hidden. But they could or would not confess and perished under the torture. The villainous band tore the roofs from the houses, the beams, windows, doors, chests and barrels, from which they had let the wine run out, and set fire to everything. They took with them whatever they could plunder in the places they passed through, as well as in Aquapendente, Monte- fiascone, Viterbo, and everywhere else.’

An orgy in the Vatican


William Dowsing,

’14. DUNSTALL, JAN. the 23rd. We brake down 60 superstitious Pictures; and broke in pieces the Rails; and gave order to pull down the Steps.’

Breaking superstitious pictures


John Newton,
sailor and priest

‘Much like yesterday. Our great trial still continues. Writing at leisure times. Mr Cooper of Loxley came in the evening.’

The extraordinary Mr Newton


Nicholas Cresswell,
tradesman and farmer

‘Curiosity and company induced me to spend the evening at a place of no great credit. The various scenes I saw may be of great service to me sometime or other.’

Whores and rogues


Gerard Manley Hopkins,


Sunset of rosy juices


Natsume Soseki,

‘Flags are hoisted at half-mast. All the town is in mourning. I, a foreign subject, also wear a black-necktie to show my respectful sympathy. “The new century has opened rather inauspiciously,” said the shopman off whom I bought a pair of black gloves this morning.’ [Queen Victoria had died the previous day]

A giant of Japanese literature


Bronisław Malinowski,

‘I am “covering the ground” of my territory more and more concretely. Without doubt, if I could stay here for several more months - or years - I would get to know these people far better. But for a superficial short stay I have done as much as can be done. I am quite satisfied with what I have done under the poor circumstances. The arsenic works perfectly. Tonight I made an experiment. I took 10 grains of quinine and toward morning I felt quite terrible. Apparently quinine is not good and doesn’t help me at all - could it have a bad effect on the red blood corpuscles? I wonder whether arsenic is a specific against malaria? If so, what is its value in Alpine countries?

Yesterday I walked to the village at 7. Photos of the lugumi - from behind the boathouse. I discovered this was the proper place for taking photos of Mailu (village). Then I went back, took Omaga and went to Keneni’s - Pikana joined us. I ignored him, turned my back to him. He began to talk of his own accord - and he was exceptionally good. We talked about gardens, about “Bittarbeit” [voluntary exchange of garden work] etc. . . After breakfast I took a pile of tobacco and went to the village and photographed the lugumi, then . . . went to buy stuff. Usually I overpay tremendously, I think, but I bargain till I am ready to drop. After lunch lay down and read Mexico. Two fellows brought me oba’ua - little axes made of shells. I went to the village around 4, bought two bamboo sticks with feathers; then I sat by the sea with Keneni and his family. Dini, Kavaki’s brother, came. Keneni [their uncle] and Dini went home with me and gave me descriptions of the specimens. After supper, terrible thirst - drank some soda water - then, very tired - changed plates; I walked down to the sea; the stars were shining and there was a crescent moon in the west. I sat withdrawn, not thinking much, but without homesickness; felt a dull pleasure in soullessly letting myself dissolve in the landscape. I fell asleep with difficulty, dreaming about the possibilities of research in New Guinea.’

Dreaming of New Guinea


Northrop Frye,

‘Overtired after a strenuous week: will I never learn not to accept invitations outside Toronto? A very dull day: out to hear Sclater at Old St. Andrews talk about the gap (curtain he called it) between youth & age. He’s a frivolous person & seemed to assume that after 1913 the world lost a point of stability it had up to that time. Life goes in a parabola, thus: [. . .] & on the descending curve you’re apt to be fascinated by the point opposite you on the up curve. I think there may be even a physiological basis to this, indicated by the way young childhood crowds into the minds of the very aged. I didn‘t actually hear much of the sermon. The Wilsons came in for supper & Margaret [Newton] returned from Washington. Says the Truman inaugural wasn’t, like most American parades, exuberant & good-humored, but a grim military march-past for the benefit of the Soviet Ambassador. If I were a leading Russian Communist I’d say: we now have Russia, one-sixth of the world. We have East Europe & the West is in our pocket we could occupy it in two weeks anyway. The revolt of Asia is the great political fact in the contemporary world, & we’re in a position to exploit that: the Americans can only prop up beaten & discredited governments. The revolt of Africa hasn’t yet come, but is certainly coming. The only power able to oppose our conquest of the world is the U.S.A. There’s no use fighting her: she’s too strong: she has the atom bomb & an economic system that works best under wartime conditions. With the three continents in our grip, we can sit tight & let her blow up & burst with her economy which demands continuous centrifugal expansion & which we I think. Why should they start a war? Margaret’s on the Reserve Army list & has been told to report to H.Q. It doesn’t look like war yet, to me, but that may be just a “wistful vista.” The Americans could start a war to forestall their blowup; but the Russians could start one too to forestall the blowing up of the contradictions in the argument I’ve just outlined.’

Buggering around aimlessly


Chögyam Trungpa,

‘No one knew how we could get to India proper, for there was a waiting list for the few airplanes flying to and fro. However, we no longer felt anxious: We were free at last and were able to wander about the town at will. I was struck by the fact that people here were much gayer and more cheerful than in the Communist-controlled Tibetan towns. As we were having our midday meal, a messenger came to tell us to go down to the airport, as there was every possibility that we would get a lift that same evening. A tractor arrived with a trailer behind it, into which we all bundled. The winding road led through a valley and we came to the gate of the airport. It was built in decorative Tibetan style, surmounted by the ashoka emblem. We disembarked and waited. No one knew of any airplanes likely to arrive that day. The evening drew in and it was quite dark. A jeep came to take me to see the local district administrator; he gave me a bag of rice and a few vegetables and apologized that supplies were so scanty and the accommodation so limited. However, he was sure that the plane would come the next day. He asked me to leave my blessing in the place, that things should go well. I thanked him and presented him with a white scarf. We spent that night in the hut.’

Trungpa’s escape from Tibet


Michael Palin,
actor and writer

‘Today, upstairs in Terry’s work-room, I told him of Jimmy’s attitude. TJ looked hurt - but there was a good, healthy fighting spirit there too. TJ feels that Tomkinson may well have been originally my project, but it worked as a team project and Terry is now very angry that the BBC want to break the team by institutionalising a hierarchy into our working relationship - i.e. The Michael Palin Show.

We talked ourselves round in circles. I couldn’t honestly say that I was prepared for TJ to take an entirely equal part in the acting, because this would involve me in a tussle with Jimmy over something I didn’t feel was in my own best interests. We break off for lunch with Jill Foster at Salami’s in Fulham Road.

It certainly seems that 1976 is all-change year. After almost ten years together, Terry and I are exploring and altering our relationship and Jill Foster and Fraser and Dunlop are doing the same. In short, Jill is leaving. She felt stifled at F & D, so now she wants to set up on her own.

We think we’ll stay with Jill, despite the various problems that have cropped up over our Python activities. She’s a good agent for us in many ways - a good talker, not renowned as vicious or hard in the business, but always seems to deliver an efficient, worthy, if not startling, deal.

After lunch we drive down to Terry’s, talking again about the series. A peripatetic day, in fact, both literally and metaphorically. We decide to meet Jimmy together, but he can’t make it until Monday. So I leave about 5.00 - with Terry still reeling slightly under a blow, which he hadn’t after all expected. It’s a rotten situation and rotten to see someone you like and whose friendship is so valuable being given a hard time. But it’s all got to be said and to be gone through.’

The Jones/Palin relationship


Peter Clark,

‘I try unsuccessfully to get some guidance from the Embassy. I decide myself to keep the teaching centre closed today. We arrange to put a notice of condolence in the paper and to send a cable to the President. Yesterday there were manifestations of grief: fake orchestrated and genuine. Today there are further demonstrations that border on the contrived. Shops and schools remain closed. I think in years to come Syrians will look on Basil al-Assad as the herald of a golden age that never dawned. His early death will be an alibi for frustration or disappointment.’

Damascus diaries


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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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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.