And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

24 July

1726
Benjamin Franklin,
politician

‘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

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1864
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

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1908
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

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1902
Victor Trump,
sportsman

‘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

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1938
Bertolt Brecht,
writer

‘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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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, usually several every week. The blog has been publishing for over five years, and is the secondary source for the diary extracts in this online anthology.