And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

7 January

1724
Jonathan Edwards,
theologian

‘When I am giving the relation of a thing, remember to abstain from altering either in the matter or manner of speaking, so much, as that if every one, afterwards, should alter as much, it would at last come to be properly false.’

Sinking so exceedingly

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1766
John Bartram,
scientist

‘Clear morning; thermometer 36. Set out from Cabbage-bluff, so called from the great number of palm or cabbage-trees growing there; after some miles rowing round several points of the compass, it being generally good reed-marsh and sonic cypress-swamps, we came to the middle lake, 1, 2, or 3 miles broad, and 8 long; its general course is S. E. at the N. E. end is high ground, producing oak, palm, myrtle, bay, and a fine new evergreen, something like the purple-berried bay, but the leaves grow alternately, and the berries close to the stem, like myrtle; here is a pretty stream of sweet water, small enough to run through the bung-hole of a barrel, and at about 200 yards distance from it runs out a large stream of water, so warm as to support the thermometer at 71 in it, feels warm to a coolish hand, tastes more loathsome than the others beforementioned of the same kind, and may be smelt at some roods distant; hereabout is drove on shore, the most delicate crystalline sand I ever saw, except what is got on an island near our capes, though this is still finer: A few hundred yards from the last 

spring is another much like it in taste, but much larger, and near 30 yards broad, having three heads within 30 yards; the water is very loathsome and warm, but not so hot as one’s blood: This differs from the other in having most of its surface covered with duck-meat; its banks full of shelly stone of the snail-shell kind, and running level with the river; the last had some fall; they are not above 200 yards from the lake. Set out and arrived at a rocky bluff, at the entrance of the head of the river, which was two or more miles wide, but gradually narrowed; this bluff is composed of snail and muscle-shells, indurated into hard rocks, which would break or split for building or burning into lime; but a bluff we landed at in the forenoon was more remarkable; for as the bank was perpendicular, we had a better opportunity of searching deeper; we saw about 3 foot above the water a mass of clustered sea-shells, as periwinkles, cockles, and clams, the very productions of the sea, and to what depth they went is unknown; but this I believe, that they reach all under this whole low country at uncertain depths, and support the superior soil, under which the prodigious sulphureous and saline fountains run, which are continually fed by the slow settling of rain-water.’

The father of American botany

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1848
Sanford Fleming,
engineer

‘Pretty cold this morning but we must get the carriage repaired, which broke down last night about 12 oclock. Managed to get to the polling place about an hour and half before it closed. This is my birthday, it is now 21 years since I came into this world. “Adieu to my youth - ” ’

Adieu to my youth

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1868
Gerard Manley Hopkins,
poet

‘Fine and freezing; snow at night.’

Sunset of rosy juices

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1933
Earl Silas Tupper
, businessman

‘If I can get a little money ahead, I’ll show the world some real inventions. [. . .] I let my imagination play to-day . . . on what I would buy if I had only . . . $10,000 to spend. (Boy! - it was tough getting back to the depression).’

Tupper the tinkerer

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1956
Bill Haley,
musician

‘Started second day on picture at 9.30 am. Everything going well. Saw some re-runs on first scenes. I look terrible I think, but everyone is giving me compliments. Hope we get through this. Quite an experience. Glad to have Cuppy with me.’ [Bill Haley and His Comets were with a large entourage in Hollywood to star in a film named after their greatest hit - Rock Around The Clock.]

The rock and roll life

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2003
Harold Frederick Shipman,
doctor

‘A new year, a visit from [wife]. Still no money off DHSS. . . If this year doesn’t get anywhere I know it is not worth the effort. I have to lock down this overwhelming emotion or else I’d be on a suicide watch or drugs.’

I’m looking at dying

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1968
Eric Morecambe,
performer

‘Waldorf Astoria, New York, It’s thick snow outside. It’s thick hammers inside my head. However it’s show time this morning - got to get down to the Sullivan Theatre for 9.15am. Now to try and be funny at that time in the morning - believe me, there’s no such time. But it’s got to be done. This trip the weather has been really cold - fifteen below. I hope the plane will take off tomorrow. It could have cleared by then. Ern and I do the Sullivan again tonight. We will do the Marvo & Dolores [spoof magic act] bit. All the crew think it’s very funny. I think it will die, but I have been wrong before. We rehearse and hang about the theatre all day. Fred comes round before the show. The show is over, they say it’s gone well. I’m not happy about it nor is the Boy Wonder [Ernie], but they are - so much so, Ed asks us out to dinner with him that night. We go to Danny’s Hideaway on Lexington and have a very informal and most enjoyable evening. Bed around 12am.’

Hammers inside my head

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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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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 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.