And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

24 January

William Dowsing,

’15. ALDBOROUGH, JAN. the 24th. We gave order for taking down 20 Cherubims, and 38 Pictures; which their Lecturer Mr. Swayn (a godly man) undertook, and their Captain Mr. Johnson.’

Breaking superstitious pictures


John Evelyn,

‘The frost continues more and more severe, the Thames before London was still planted with booths in formal streets, all sorts of trades and shops furnished, and full of commodities, even to a printing press, where the people and ladies took a fancy to have their names printed, and the day and year set down when printed on the Thames: this humor took so universally, that it was estimated that the printer gained £5 a day, for printing a line only, at sixpence a name, besides what he got by ballads, etc.

Coaches plied from Westminster to the Temple, and from several other stairs to and fro, as in the streets, sleds, sliding with skates, a bull-baiting, horse and coach-races, puppet-plays and interludes, cooks, tippling, and other lewd places, so that it seemed to be a bacchanalian triumph, or carnival on the water, while it was a severe judgment on the land, the trees not only splitting as if the lightning struck, but men and cattle perishing in divers places, and the very seas so locked up with ice, that no vessels could stir out or come in. The fowls, fish, and birds, and all our exotic plants and greens, universally perishing.

Many parks of deer were destroyed, and all sorts of fuel so dear, that there were great contributions to preserve the poor alive. Nor was this severe weather much less intense in most parts of Europe, even as far as Spain and the most southern tracts. London, by reason of the excessive coldness of the air hindering the ascent of the smoke, was so filled with the fuliginous steam of the sea-coal, that hardly could one see across the street, and this filling the lungs with its gross particles, exceedingly obstructed the breast, so as one could scarcely breathe. Here was no water to be had from the pipes and engines, nor could the brewers and divers other tradesmen work, and every moment was full of disastrous accidents.’

A most excellent person


Gaspar de Portolá,

‘The 24th, we proceeded for five hours, [and made the same distance as in] two marches on the previous journey. On this day we arrived at San Diego, giving thanks to God that, notwithstanding the great labors and privations we had undergone, not a single man had perished. Indeed we had accomplished our return march, through the great providence of God, without other human aid except that, when we were in dire need, we killed some mules for our necessary sustenance.

We found at San Diego that the three fathers were there with the entire guard of eight soldiers in leather jackets which had been left; but of the fourteen volunteers, who had remained, eight were dead. The San Carlos was anchored in the same place where we had left her; but, during all this time, neither the San Joseph nor El Principe, had arrived, although it was eight months since the former was to leave Guaymas and seven months since the latter had left this port. For this reason, and because of the lack of provisions, a council was held, and it was resolved that, in order to make it possible to hold this port longer, Don Fernando de Rivera, captain of the presidio [of Loreto], should set out with a strong force so that he might go to [Lower] California and also bring back the herd of cattle which was intended for this mission. The remainder of the expedition was to hold this important port, hoping that God might grant us the comfort of sighting some ship.’

They be permitted to dance


Richard Harding Davis,

‘Last day in London. Margaret Frazer offered me gun from a Captain Jenkins of Nigeria. Instead bought Winchester repeating, hoping, if need it, get one coast. Lunched Savoy - Lynch, Mrs. Lynch, her sister-very beautiful girl. In afternoon Sam Sothern and Margaret came in to say “Good bye.” Dined at Anthony Hope’s-Barrie and Mrs. Barrie and Jim Whigham. Mrs. Barrie looking very well, Barrie not so well. As silent as ever, only talked once during dinner when he told us about the first of his series of cricket matches between authors and artists. Did not have eleven authors, so going along road picked up utter strangers one a soldier in front of embracing two girls. Said he would come if girls came too - all put in brake. Mrs. Barrie said the Llewellen Davis’ were the originals for the Darlings and their children in Peter Pan. They played a strange game of billiards suggested by Barrie who won as no one else knew the rules and they claimed he invented them to suit his case. Sat up until three writing and packing. The dinner was best have had this trip in London.’

Gouty old gentlemen


David Lindsay,

‘The colonel asked me this evening if I should like to be a quartermaster in the RAMC and indicated that if I so desired the matter could be arranged. I told him that I would much prefer to continue in the scientific work of the operating theatre, work which interests me enormously and which for a man of my age seems more suitable than a quartermastership - for the latter is a post which should be reserved for old and experienced soldiers, upon whom it is the greatest compliment to confer commissioned rank, and a reward for long and faithful service in the army. Of course the quartermastership is the only commission in the RAMC which can be given to a man who is not qualified as doctor, so I must remain an NCO so long as I am in the RAMC, unless the WO were to give commissions for administrative work at home, for which there has hitherto been no occasion. I wish however that there were more chances of being useful in the theatre, not that I want more men to be wounded - heaven forbid - but I wish that we occupied a position where wounded men are treated instead of our present station which is more convenient for sick and convalescent men.’

Congealed personalities


Carl Van Vechten,
writer and photographer

‘Lunched at Algonquin with Ralph Van Vechten & Charles Brackett . . . Dinner at 7 with Gertrude Atherton at Madison Square Hotel. She told me the marvelous history of her father & mother, & of her husband George Atherton, who died on a man-o-war &, as a guest, was not buried at sea but was brought home in a keg of rum.’

Lunch at Algonquin


Patrick Leigh Fermor,

‘I left Salonika last night; Patullo and Elphinstone came along with me to the boat, and we bought some bread, and salami and cheese by the harbour gates. I was glad they came, as it was already sunset, and it’s very lonely starting off on these journeys alone. The ship was surprisingly small; very dirty and overloaded with every kind of cargo, all of which was hauled on board in a surprisingly unworkmanlike way. The boat was a shambles inside too, with enormous banks of coal in the passages, and peasants lying in their blankets in despondent groups everywhere. We stood in the passages and smoked, and chatted, waiting for the bells to ring to announce departure, so they could get off; but the boat was nearly two hours late, and they nearly came away with me, which would have been rather serious for Patullo has to join a troopship for Hong Kong in a day or two at Port Said. [. . .]’

Paddy’s broken road


Iris Origo,

‘The German officer turns up: a parachutist, covered with medals of both this war and the last, in which he served as a volunteer at the age of sixteen. He inspects the Castellucio, is unfortunately delighted with it, and a notice, stating that the castle has been requisitioned, is placed on the door. Mercifully, our own house is not required - as yet. In the afternoon we walk up to Pietraporciana - a lonely farm on the hill-top at the top of our property - to see if we could take all the children there, if we are turned out. There would be thirty-six of us.’

La Foce is liberated


Chögyam Trungpa,

‘In the morning an official came and read out a list of our names. He told us that we would be given priority on the next plane. It arrived that morning and, since it was a transport plane, its cargo of building material was first taken off and seats screwed in afterward. There was only room for six of us: myself, my own attendant, Yak Tulku and his attendant, Tsethar, and Yunten; the rest of the party followed in a second plane that same day.

This, our first flight, was a strange new experience, skimming over cloud-covered mountains, seeing far below us the small villages and footpaths leading up to them; only by the moving shadow of the plane on the ground could we gauge how fast we were traveling.

We thought about the teaching of impermanence; this was a complete severance of all that had been Tibet and we were traveling by mechanized transport. As the moments passed, the mountain range was left behind, and the view changed to the misty space of the Indian plains stretching out in front of us.’

Trungpa’s escape from Tibet


Paul K. Lyons,

‘Andrew’s finally decided what to do with the books. He’s selling them to a Jewish dealer for £3,000. This is the same price as his friend Piers offered right at the start, before I interfered and said we should get a Jewish dealer in to look at the Judaica. But Andrew’s happy because the Jewish dealer (Weisse somebody or other, a friend of the Moshe that Andrew and I met a couple of Sundays ago) will take all the books (thus clearing them from the house) and will take them himself, whereas Piers had asked Andrew to bring them up to Suffolk for him. The added benefit of this deal, so Andrew tells me, is that Weisse has not looked at the non-Judaica books, even though he’s included them in his offer of £3,000. Initially, he had offered only £1,700 for the Judaica, but, on being told about the existing bid, he upped his offer to £3,000 for all the books.’

How I saved the Balfour papers!


Tim Dixon,
economist and businessman

‘The challenge working with Kevin is that he tends to create this highly pressured environment that brings anxiety and terseness, rather than creating an environment of hard working enthusiastic cooperation. It leaves lots of people feeling unhappy. . .’

Working with Kevin


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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.

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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.