And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

24 July

Benjamin Franklin,

‘This morning we weighed anchor, and coming to the Downs, we set our pilot ashore at Deal, and passed through. And now, whilst I write this, sitting upon the quarterdeck, I have methinks one of the pleasantest scenes in the world before me. Tis a fine, clear day, and we are going away before the wind with an easy, pleasant gale. We have near fifteen sail of ships in sight, and I may say in company. On the left hand appears the coast of France at a distance, and on the right is the town and castle of Dover, with the green hills and chalky cliffs of England, to which we must now bid farewell. Albion, farewell!’

Founding Father Franklin


Horace Walpole,
historian and writer

‘Lady Holland died of an internal cancer after many months of dreadful sufferings. For some weeks she had taken 500 and 60 drops of laudanum every day.’

The thread of my observations


Gideon Mantell,
doctor and scientist

‘To the Devil’s Dyke - arrived there at seven - the most glorious sight imaginable - the sun breaking through a mass of clouds poured streams of living light on the landscape - the distant downs, by Steyning and to the far west were crested with mist, and the reflection of the sun’s rays, gave them a magical effect which is seen on the snow-clad Alps. This gorgeous scene continued about ten minutes and then all was wrapped in gloom. Broke the spring of my carriage - obliged to walk home.’

Gideon Mantell - geologist


Brigham Young,

‘This day 10 years ago the Pioneers entered Salt Lake valley after a pilgrimage and Search of nearly two years to find a place where the people of God might rest from persecutions for a short time. How cheering were the prospects on that day. They had at last reached a place 800 Miles from where a Settlement could approach them. The country was so barren that none would covet it. 500 of our best men had marched 3000 miles to conquer a title for it. And on every Side were Scores of miles of mountains, which must be past ere our Settlement could be appro[a]ched. Here we have dwelt in peace and prosperity. The Lord has blessed the earth for our sakes. And the ‘Desert’ has ‘truly blossomed as the rose.’

All was hilarity and mirth the morn[in]g guns had been fired 3 rounds in honore of the first presidency - three times three groans were uttered for the Mysouri - the guards & my son John W.[’]s company had been paraded, three ‘rounds’ for the hope of Isreal. The bands were playing and every one at peace, when the news came that A O Smoot, Judson L Stoddard, O P Rockwell William Garr & Judge Elias Smith would be in camp in a few minutes. They came, and were welcomed by the band, & 3 deaf[e]ning cheers.

They were ushered into the Lewt General’s (occupied by my family) Marquee. found that Bros Smoot & Stoddard were from fort Leavenworth 20 days. They informed [me] that a new Governor and entire set of officers had been appointed, 2500 troops with 15 months provision. Sup[p]osed That General [William S.] Harney would commany - to support the officials in their position. I said if General Harney came here, I Should then know the intention of [the] gover[n]ment; And it was carried unanimously that if Harney crossed the South Pass the buz[z]ards Should pick his bones. The feeling of Mobocracy is rife in the ‘States’ the constant cry is kill the Mormons. Let them try it. The Utah mail contract had been taken from us - on the pretext of the unsettled state of things in this territory.

The news helped the people to enjoy themselves. Dancing and mirth continued until a late hour.’

Mobocracy is rife


Simon Newcomb,

‘Men paddled all last night; arrived at Cedar Lake House between 2 and 3 a.m. Ran down to the portage, arriving there early in the forenoon. Had portage finished by about 10 o’clock. Arrived at the mouth of the Saskatchewan before 2 p.m.’

Crossed a singular slough


William Cory,
poet and teacher

‘I wrote two sheets full of outlines of a discourse on youth and its rising above the world. I wrote with hardly an erasure, and finished what looks complete, in time for Church.

We were not out of Church till 12.30, when my listeners met. I began my talk easily by speaking to R. Lewis about his essay on music which he is to write - its effects - its use in training - rhythm - form - how to the performers it is finite, regular, formal; how to non-musicians who have imagination it suggests the infinite, awakens longings that we cannot satisfy; how this desire for what is unattainable blends with all our pleasure, which is not the ‘pleasure’ spoken of by the old pagan philosophers; that our pleasure, as soon as we become men, is indissolubly blended with regret, remembrance, regard; that early manhood is a sort of autumn; that we repine, reproach ourselves, often with injustice, &c., &c.

One notion followed another, and I was helped by what I had written, but not bound by it.

Among other things I told the lads that manhood will bring them Ephphatha, that they will some day ‘dare to seem as good and generous as they are.’ A strange sermon: but they listened, and answered me when I questioned them of their own experience; and my friend, in the evening, gladly took my MS. to keep for his brother to read; so perhaps I had as much success as the dignitary with his pulpit.’

A peculiar pleasure


Queen Mary

‘Lovely day. Sat out. At 2 we went to see the start for the Marathon Race from the East Terrace - there were 56 [sic] runners. Later we all drove to Virginia Water for tea and went on the lake. Mr Waddington arrived. We heard first that an Italian had won but he was disqualified owing to his having been helped in - an American won.’

Princess Mary’s marathon


Victor Trump,

‘Wet wicket. Fourth Test. Won toss, made 299. Self 104, RAD 50. 1st W 135. England 5 for 70. Tate 1st test. Fire G Peak and Coy.’ [This was the day Trumper made his record-breaking 100 before lunch!]

Ran about all day


Josephus Daniels,
politician and businessman

‘Went to Naval Hospital just before operation on Admiral Earle. He is the salt of the earth.

Talked to Capt. Bryan of Charleston. Negro women had registered to work in clothing factory & no white women could be appointed. Arranged to have segregation & 2 buildings, one for each race. Necessary as could not do work necessary.

Talked to Benson & Mayo about seeking co-operation in naval warfare with England and France. Mayo thought he ought to go & I later talked to the President who rather thought it wise. Sims had written to the President who gave me the letter unsealed to read and tell him whether anything new. No propositions from England for conference to determine upon joint program - we are asked to send & send, but not a conference where we have equal voice

Cabinet. Shall we recommend increased salaries? No. Redfield said he had experts (24) who would resign & they could not live on $2,400. Wilson said they could live very well, but might not be able to keep up with the Joneses.

Berry - Palmer - Both boats The President did not like it’

Secretary to the Navy


Hamlin Garland,

[Los Angeles] ‘It is not pleasant to feel oneself growing toward futility but such is the lot of most men of seventy or more. The question arises in me, “What shall I do to fill out my days?” I saw this sadness come to Howells and Burroughs. They both kept on writing when the public no longer desired their books. There are books that I might write but I feel no urge to set about their composition. My eyes will not sustain the strain. I cannot take on a history or biography for the reason that too much reading and travel would be involved. I can only set down what is in my mind.’

A son of the middle border


Bertolt Brecht,

‘there are concepts which are difficult to defend because they spread such boredom whenever they arise, like DÉCADENCE. there is naturally such a thing as the literature of the decline of a class, in it the class loses its serene certainty, its calm self-confidence, it conceals its difficulties, it gets bogged down in detail, it becomes parasitically culinary, etc. but the very works which identify its decline as a decline can scarcely be classed as decadent. but that is how the declining class views them, on the other hand the FEAST OF TRIMALCHIO exhibits all sorts of signs of formal decadence. and if ELECTIVE AFFINITIES is not decadent, WERTHER is.’

The concept of decadence


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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.