And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

19 July

Gilles de Gouberville,

‘After holding court, I went to the Cordeliers, Cantepye with me, to get some pinks to make the Eau de Damas. Maistre Jehan Poulain gave me some calamus aromaticus (yellow iris) and Florentine iris (white iris) to add to the water.’

I distrust the miller


John Evelyn,

‘. . . in the morning Dr. Tenison preached the first sermon, taking his text from Psalm xxvi. 8. “Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.” In concluding, he gave that this should be made a parish-church so soon as the Parliament sat, and was to be dedicated to the Holy Trinity, in honour of the three undivided Persons in the Deity; and he minded them to attend to that faith of the Church, now especially that Arianism, Socinianism, and Atheism began to spread amongst us. In the afternoon, Mr. Stringfellow preached on Luke vii. 5, “The centurion who had built a synagogue.” He proceeded to the due praise of persons of such public spirit, and thence to such a character of pious benefactors in the person of the generous centurion, as was comprehensive of all the virtues of an accomplished Christian, in a style so full, eloquent and moving, that I never heard a sermon more apposite to the occasion. He modestly insinuated the obligation they had to that person who should be the author and promoter of such public works for the benefit of mankind, especially to the advantage of religion, such as building and endowing churches, hospitals, libraries, schools, procuring the best editions of useful books, by which he handsomely intimated who it was that had been so exemplary for his benefaction to that place. Indeed, that excellent person. Dr. Tenison, had also erected and furnished a public library [in St. Martin’s]; and set up two or three free-schools at his own charges. Besides this, he was of an exemplary holy life, took great pains in constantly preaching, and incessantly employing himself to promote the service of God both in public and private. I never knew a man of a more universal and generous spirit, with so much modesty, prudence, and piety.’

Modesty, prudence, piety


John Flamsteed,

‘At London: waited on Sir I. Newton about printing 100 or 150 more copies: represented that I thought it needless, contrary to our agreement, &c.: he seemed to assent, and that we should go on, on the old foot: I suggested that it was probable Mr. Churchill had caused more to be printed than he ought, by 200: that if any besides myself had copies to sell, I should not make anything of mine: he agreed that nobody but I ought to have any copy to sell; and that, as I desired, the plates should be put into my hands, that I might cause them to be engraved and drawn off: promised to pay me £100, and I to send J. Hudson to him, to inform him about the Prince’s treasurer: promised to wait on him next week.’

The first Astronomer Royal


Elizabeth Simcoe,
artist and wife of colonial governor

‘The Governor went to-day to see Carleton Island, nearly opposite the shore from Kingston, where there were extensive fortifications, now dismantled. The island was afterwards discovered to be within American territory. Returned at six with wild raspberries, which were exceedingly fine. Carleton Island abounds with them and strawberries and plums, while the air is esteemed so healthy that the people go there to get rid of the ague, a complaint which is very prevalent in this province. The flowering raspberry grows wild here, and bears a very insipid, flat fruit. Mr Fisher, of the Engineers, is here on his way to Quebec from Niagara. He showed us some beautiful sketches he has taken of the Falls of Niagara.’

Travels in Upper Canada


Thomas Hardy,

‘In future I am not going to praise things because the accumulated remarks of ages say they are great and good, if those accumulated remarks are not based on observation. And I am not going to condemn things because a pile of accepted views raked together from tradition, and acquired by instillation, say antecedently that they are bad.’

White phantoms, cloven tongues


Josephus Daniels,
politician and businessman

‘W l Saunders - lunched - the unsinkable boat. He had a plan which he thinks would let a boat float even if torpedoed. It would reduce cargo carrying space 20-30 per cent

Attended funeral of Bo Sweeney – Cremated. He had been with me in oil fight and he & Lane were not on good terms. He refused to sign certain papers without written instructions

Dined with Winterhalter-Mayo, Usher and others_W5_said he was dined by V.P.of China, & champagne flowed. When W entertained him, he said “it is against navy regulations.” The Chinese VP said “that is very interesting to me - I would like to put it in effect in our navy.”

Usher told of Russians in N.Y. Navy Yard. After revolution, enlisted men did not salute officers & they became so lazy Usher said they let their ships get dirty & he had to tell them they must salute while they remained under American control.

Went to see Senator James & talked about the Penrose resolution. He still following his partisanship

Long conference will Tillman & Swanson Will write letter to Tillman about the conference statement of attack of the boats given out by me on July 3rd

Ordered 20 new destroyers’

Secretary to the Navy


Alan Campbell Don,

‘I celebrated at the Parish Church. A wet and windy morning. Muriel and I lunched alone with C.C. who was much put out by the vagaries of the weather in view of the fact that he was expecting a private visit from their Majesties. I rang up the Equerry in Waiting after lunch to enquire whether the King and Queen were coming - he knew nothing of the matter nor could he discover anyone in the Royal Household who did - no orders had been given and their Majesties were still engaged at luncheon. Had the Queen forgotten all about it?

Then to the relief of His Grace came a message at 2.40 that all was well - the Royal party would leave Buckingham Palace at 3.15. I warned Woodward, the porter, to be ready - Dowding, the butler, and the two footman threw open the front doors. I donned my frock coat and Muriel a hat. C.C. paced the corridor gazing at the clouds. At 3.15 it started to rain - C.C. in the depths, bemoaning his ill fortune - the long-anticipated inspection of the garden would be out of the question. What was he to do? Inspect the Crypt or what? Every door was unlocked in anticipation of a circular tour of the house. 3.25 came - it still rained in torrents. Had they started? “O dear me, oh dear me - how pitiable” was all that escaped the archiépiscopal lips. 3.28 the bell rang - the Royal car rounded the corner of the yard - C.C. hastened to the bottom of the stairs as fast as his poor stiff muscles would allow. The Queen emerged, followed by the King and Princess Mary. Muriel and I stood at attention at the top of the stairs - C.C. presented us to his Royal visitors and then led them into the Drawing Room. At that moment the rain stopped miraculously and the sun began to shine. Laus Deo - the day was saved!

So out they went through the Archbishop’s study, the King talking at the top of his voice - ‘What a small room,’ he shouted as he caught sight of the enormous study. Muriel and I listened in the passage upstairs to the royal banter and then watched the inspection of the garden from the window of the Bishops’ Smoking Room. The sun shone merrily and the Archbishop’s spirits rose - Budden the gardener was summoned from his lurking place behind the bushes and was introduced all round. An animated conversation ensued - Princess Mary took notes - the King gesticulated - the Queen asked questions. Budden was in his glory, spied upon by envious eyes from the Palace windows. C.C. finally led the party to the steps up to the Vestry and entered the House. A tour of the Chapel, Crypt and Library followed - the Visitors Book was signed - the royal car drew up at the front door and at 4.45 they moved off, passing en route Muriel holding ‘Nigel’ aloft and A.C. Don waving his top hat.

We joined C.C. at tea and congratulated him upon the delightful entertainment he had provided for us. It was great fun - and Their Majesties quite evidently enjoyed themselves too.

When, I wonder, did the King and Queen of England last pay a private visit to His Grace of Canterbury? C.C. is indeed in high favour.’

The day was saved!


William Lyon Mackenzie King,
prime minister

‘Last night was a very unfortunate night. I went soundly to sleep almost at once, but wakened because of conditions in the room, too cold, etc. Got nurse to arrange things. Took usual morphine injection about one. Found the room very cold around five past five. The nurse had left the window open, and the temperature had changed. I called to her many times. Put on the light, etc. and finally had to go to her room to come to straighten things in my room. She was saying over and over again that she was sorry. As far as I could see, she was enjoying a meal on her bed, when I looked into the room, she also said she had been writing. It was very disappointing as it was from that time that I found my breathing heavy, and had a broken night’s sleep instead of one of the best I should have had. John brought tea at seven, but again my sleep was broken until ten. I could not get properly rested. At one stage he came to change my gowns [. . .] I had a new drug this morning [. . .] Got through a little dictation with Lafleur both before and after luncheon. I really should have gone into the sun at three, but was very tired, and feeling weary, went to bed instead. Evidently this was wise as I slept very soundly until quarter to seven - almost three hours. [. . .] I regret having missed the out-of-doors for a walk through the day. When it came to getting up for dinner, found myself alone to give me clothing part of which had been taken away. Lafleur came to the rescure. I got what was needed and later signed letters. Then, went downstairs for dinner, at quarter to eight, dictating diary to date. Very very sorry to have kept Lafleur all that time.’

A real companion and friend


Riccardo Cassin,

‘It’s decided that today we'll set out for no less than the summit. Canali and I are tied together. From the spur we pass slightly leftward to the mouth of a couloir [gorge] filled with snow and ice where we are able to climb more swiftly. It is no longer snowing, but strong winds attack us from the west without respite and make every forward step a torture. Icicles bristle from the rocks on either side and cut our faces. By 10 p.m. we have finally reached the base of the rocks that stand between ourselves and the summit.

We are exhausted and numb from the cold. The temperature is down to 30-40 below zero.

Our crampons [spiked boot-attachments] and boots are frozen together into a single mass, and for the first time Canali complains that his feet are cold.

It is Zucchi now who takes the lead; he struggles desperately and nothing can stand in his way. The summit cannot be far away now. Canali does the best he can to reactivate the circulation in his feet which he knows are little by little freezing up.

The summit is close and an unconquerable will takes hold of us and aids us tremendously in our progress. Finally at 11 p.m. and almost in darkness we reach the mighty summit. Filled with emotion, we throw our arms about each other. The icy wind prevents us from opening our mouths to speak, even for a moment; but in our eyes is written anything that our lips might speak.

But we cannot wait, we must descend again directly. Alippi, I, Canali, Perego, Airoldi and Zucchi, in this order, take leave of the summit after spending barely 15 minutes atop it.

Canali is not well. I ask him what’s wrong and he fails to answer. He begins to vomit, although he has had nothing to eat for 17 hours.

Once off the rocks immediately beneath the summit, we descend the steep couloir, all roped together.

Suddenly I hear sounds of scuffling behind me. I turn about and see Canali falling down the couloir. In an instant I plunge my ice ax into the hard snow, whip the rope once quickly around it and rapidly bring Canali to a halt. I begin to wonder whether he can proceed much further. For safety’s sake I change our order on the rope. I remain last with Canali close to me so as to keep a better eye on him. Several times during the descent of this very steep couloir, I must take pains to prevent him from slipping.

We reach the base of the couloir and begin the traverse to Camp 3. I try to give Canali a couple of vitamin tablets but he refuses them and continues to complain of the terrible cold in his feet.

The wind continues to harangue us without respite and the snow begins to fall again. But we keep on descending as the storm becomes more and more violent.’

Nothing but snow and icy wind


Kenneth Williams,
actor and writer

‘Sitting in their lounge, in the quiet of the evening. I felt I would love to have a place of my own where there was such peace. I suppose one never really does get it in London. I should think I’ve heard more noise and drilling these last few years than ever before in my life. O! for those old days of quiet when new building was rare, and road mending was once in a blue moon!’

Carry on carping


Jacques Piccard,

‘The assault occurred at 6:09, at 252 meters down. As a matter of fact, it was really an attack; short, precise. The swordfish was about five or six feet long. Another one was waiting for him at the limit of our visibility. The combatant rushed forward and apparently tried to hit our porthole, missing it by a few inches. Then he circled around for several minutes close to the boat. Content that his domination of this portion of his realm was not threatened, he joined his friend and left, never to be seen again.’

The deeper you delve


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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.

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.