And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

1 June

Henry Newcome,

‘I rose about 8. Went to looke for a horse, & after some time was glad to accept Mr Page’s, tho a trotter. I went to ye feild for him, & ye warden walked wth mee to ye Broadhulme, wre I took horse & got to Dunham iust at dinner. Mr Weston & his wife dined there, & wee were wth ym in ye bouleinge greene all ye afternoone. I was forced to stay all night, tho’ I obtained freely of my Ld his lre to ye Lady Byron for Mr Taylor of Rochdale.

I was troubled yet I used too free a word to expresse my dislike tow: Dr Br: in wt he delivered, sayinge in iest he was a rascall. Yt word repeated not wth my accent might seeme very strange for mee to utter.

Ye horse I rode of was very fright, yet ye Ld preserved mee from fallinge.’

The nonconformist Newcome


James Cook,

‘At 1/2 an hour After Noon, upon the Boat we had ahead sounding making the Signal for Shoal Water, we hauld our wind to the North-East, having at that time 7 fathoms; the Next cast 5, and then 3, upon which we let go an Anchor, and brought the Ship up. The North-West point of Thirsty Sound, or Pier Head, bore South-East, distance 6 Leagues, being Midway between the Islands which lies off the East point of the Western inlet and 3 Small Islands directly without them, [the shoal is now known as Lake Shoal - the three Islands are the Bedwell Islands] it being now the first of the flood which we found to set North-West by West 1/2 West. After having sounded about the Shoal, on which we found not quite 3 fathoms, but without it deep water, we got under Sail, and hauld round the 3 Islands just mentioned, and came to an Anchor under the Lee of them in 15 fathoms, having at this time dark, hazey, rainy weather, which continued until 7 o’Clock a.m., at which time we got again under sail, and stood to the North-West with a fresh breeze at South-South-East and fair weather, having the Main land in Sight and a Number of Islands all round us, some of which lay out at Sea as far as we could See. The Western Inlet before mentioned, known in the Chart by the Name of Broad Sound, we had now all open. It is at least 9 or 10 Leagues wide at the Entrance, with several Islands laying in and before, and I believe Shoals also, for we had very irregular Soundings, from 10 to 5 and 4 fathoms. At Noon we were by Observation in the Latitude of 21 degrees 29 minutes South, and Longitude made from Cape Townshend 59 degrees West. A point of Land, which forms the North-West Entrance into Broad Sound, bore from us at this Time West, distance 3 Leagues; this Cape I have named Cape Palmerston [Henry Viscount Palmerston was a Lord of the Admiralty, 1766 to 1778] (Latitude 21 degrees 27 minutes South, Longitude 210 degrees 57 minutes West). Between this Cape and Cape Townshend lies the Bay of Inlets, so named from the Number of Inlets, Creeks, etc., in it. [The name Bay of Inlets has disappeared from the charts. Cook applied it to the whole mass of bays in this locality, covering over 60 miles. A look at a modern chart causes amazement that Cook managed to keep his ship off the ground, as the whole sea in his track is strewed with dangers.]’

The journals of James Cook


Ezra Stiles,

‘At IX A.M. I preached at the Courthouse in Greenwich on Mat. v. 20 without Notes, as desired. The Quakers general Meeting broke up yesterday and few were gone home. I had about 200 Hearers. After Lecture I rode 7 miles and dined at Mr. Nath Greens1 at the Iron Works in Coventry.’

Great grief and distress


Mary Browne,
young woman

‘There were a great many people in the gardens, and the variety of colours resembled a bed of tulips. Some of the people were very oddly dressed. One woman had on a most extraordinary cap composed of pink satin and very pretty lace; she had a gold chain round her neck, a white gown, and pink cotton apron. (Her cap was not at all common.) The French are very fond of colours, and put them on with very bad taste. We saw some people with perhaps a pink handkerchief, a blue sash, a coarse cotton gown, a yellow bonnet, and green shoes. We saw one lady in church with a yellow bonnet spotted with every colour; and another lady with one side of her bonnet one colour, and the other another colour. The ladies are in general very plain. We were told that a lady having tried to persuade an English gentleman that the French ladies were pretty, he took her to one of the great waterworks, where she could see ten thousand people, and told her that he would give her a gown worth five hundred francs if she could find three handsome women. The lady tried, but was obliged to acknowledge that she could not. The French women have not good figures: the old women are very fat, and the others are as flat as two boards. [. . .]

The French children are old-fashioned, dull, grave, and ugly: like little old women in their appearance. The babies are wrapt up in swaddling-clothes like mummies, and they wear queer little cotton hats. The nurses carry them very carefully hanging on their arms; they say that nursing them, or tossing them about, makes them mad. Some of the children have long hair hanging down their backs and little hats stuck on the tops of their heads and little ridicules in their hands.’

The French lack of delicacy


Thomas Mitchell,
administrator and explorer

‘The country to the eastward seemed so dry and scrubby, that I could not hope in returning to join Mr. Stapylton’s party or reach the Murray, by any shorter route, than that of our present track; and I, therefore, postponed any further survey back towards the junction of the Darling and Murray, until I should be returning this way. We accordingly proceeded upwards, and were followed by the natives. They were late in coming near us however, which Piper and his gin accounted for as follows: As soon as it was known to them, the day before, that we were gone to the junction, the strong men of the tribe went by a shorter route; but they were thrown out and disappointed by our stopping short of that “promising” point. There, they had passed the night, and having been busy looking for our track in the morning, the earth’s surface being to them a book they always read, they were late in following our party.

Kangaroos were more numerous and larger here, than at any other part we had yet visited. This day one coming before me I fired at it with my rifle; and a man beside me, after asking my permission, fired also. The animal, nevertheless, ran amongst the party behind, some of whom hastily, and without permission, discharged their carabines also. At this four horses took fright, and ran back at full speed along our track. Several of the men, who went after these horses, fell in with two large bodies of natives coming along this track, and one or two men had nearly fallen into their hands twice. “Tantragee” (McLellan), when running at full speed, pursued by bands of savages, escaped, only by the opportune appearance of others of our men, who had caught the horses and happened to come up. The natives then closed on our carts, and accompanied them in single files on each side; but as they appeared to have got rid of all their spears, I saw no danger in allowing them to join us in that manner. Chancing to look back at them, however, when riding some way ahead, the close contact of such numbers induced me to halt and call loudly, cautioning the men, upon which I observed an old man and several others suddenly turn and run; and, on my going to the carts, the natives fell back, those in their rear setting off at full speed.

Soon after, I perceived the whole tribe running away, as if a plan had been suddenly frustrated. Piper and his gin who had been watching them attentively, now came up, and explained to me these movements. It appeared, that the natives entertained the idea, that our clothes were impervious to spears, and had therefore determined on a trial of strength by suddenly overpowering us, for which purpose they had “planted” (i. e. hidden) their spears and all encumbrances, and had told off for each of us, six or eight of their number, whose attack was to be sudden and simultaneous. A favourable moment had not occurred before they awoke my suspicions; and thus their motives for sudden retreat were to be understood. That party consisted of strong men, neither women nor boys being among them; and although we had little to fear from such an attack, having arms in our hands, the scheme was very audacious, and amounted to a proof, that these savages no sooner get rid of their apprehensions, than they think of aggression. I had, on several occasions, noticed and frustrated dispositions apparently intended for sudden attacks, for the natives seemed always inclined to await favourable opportunities, and were doubtless aware of the advantage of suddenness of attack to the assailants. Nothing seemed to excite the surprise of these natives, neither horses nor bullocks, although they had never before seen such animals, nor white men, carts, weapons, dress, or anything else we had. All were quite new to them, and equally strange, yet they looked at the cattle, as if they had been always amongst them, and they seemed to understand at once, the use of everything.

We continued our journey, and soon found all the usual features of the Darling; the hills of soft red sand near the river, covered with the same kind of shrubs seen so much higher up. The graves had no longer any resemblance to those on the Murrumbidgee and Murray, but were precisely similar to the places of interment we had seen on the Darling, being mounds surrounded by, and covered with, dead branches and pieces of wood. On these lay, the same singular casts of the head in white plaster, which we had before seen only at Fort Bourke. It is, indeed, curious to observe the different modes of burying, adopted by the natives on different rivers. For instance, on the Bogan, they bury in graves covered like our own, and surrounded with curved walks and ornamented ground. On the Lachlan, under lofty mounds of earth, seats being made around them. On the Murrumbidgee and Murray, the graves are covered with well thatched huts, containing dried grass for bedding, and enclosed by a parterre of a particular shape, like the inside of a whale-boat. On the Darling, as above stated, the graves are in mounds, covered with dead branches and limbs of trees, and are surrounded by a ditch, which here we found encircled by a fence of dead limbs and branches. [. . .]

The natives were heard by Piper several times during the day’s journey, in the woods beyond the river, as if moving along the right bank, in a route parallel with ours; but they did not appear near our camp, although their smoke was seen at a distance.’

Encountering the natives


Mark Kellogg,

‘Reveille at 3 A.M., looked out found 2 inches on ground & snowing hard. Has snowed nearly all day. Have not moved. 7 P.M. snowing harder than ever wind blowing fr N.W. growing colder. Stock feeling the storm

Very dull in camp, some card playing, no incident wood plenty, & fires kept burning all around, but few Sibley stoves, at HD Qrs & 3 or 4 officers tent. Yesterday 8 miles W.L. Mo. camp. Saw a coal strata on fire, looked like whole side mountain on fire vein about 4 ft thick. Lignite cropping out all along.’

Days before Custer’s Last Stand


John Dearman Birchall,

‘Emily had her first At Home, 4-7. Great success. 80 people came. Afterwards we went to the (aesthetic) Opera Patience; the love-sick maidens most charming, jokes amusing, airs lively. The children have measles.’

The tricycle diaries


Otto Braun,

‘It is not the ascetic, to my mind, who is furthest from becoming a profligate and a voluptuary, but the man to whom this sort of behaviour does not even occur, and who can, therefore, indulge in pleasures, even to excess, without the slightest fear of becoming a profligate.’

So much inner power


Patrick Blackett,

‘Dawn was welcomed as an end to waiting. I had the morning watch and left my turret to go on to the bridge. The weather was thick and beastly. We were with the rest of the Grand Fleet and were steaming up and down, in order to try and keep the huns from returning to port. The battle cruiser suddenly appeared and then went off again. There were five, not six of them, the Indomitable and Inflexible having joined up. The German fleet had been reported S.W. of us. Until 2 a.m. we were in touch with them and small actions were going on. But after that we lost touch owing to the thick weather. We could only see about three miles. The battle cruisers reported sighting a Zep. It was probably this that enabled them to escape.

We sighted nothing but a mine, which passed fairly close to us. About noon we turned round and made for Scapa, rather disappointed to have not finished the show off, but I must say longing to get into a defended harbour and sleep. For it had been a great strain, twenty-four hours at actions stations, and part of it, when we were under a very heavy fire without being able to reply, had been terrible.

I learnt at intervals of incidents in the fight which I had not seen: the blowing up of the three British battle cruisers after a very few salvoes, the terrible strafing the 1st armoured cruiser squadron got, ending in the Defence and Black Prince blowing up and sinking, and the Warrior blowing up aft and being taken in tow by the Engadine, but sinking eventually.

Several destroyer attacks were made and a lot of light cruiser and destroyer actions occurred between the lines. We sank one German destroyer by 6 inch fire - I think the one that torpedoed the Marlborough. A submarine was sighted close to the ship but disappeared on being fired at. The Revenge claims to have sunk one by ramming. As to the enemy losses it is very difficult to decide anything as we could see so little. But one ‘Kaiser’ class certainly blew up amidships and a battle cruiser or two very badly strafed indeed. One curious three funnelled ship was sunk, but what she was we do not know.

We had great hopes of good results from the night’s actions, for we had seen one light cruiser given hell by ours and left a glowing mass.

We had several fires on board but they had been very quickly put out. The worst hit was forward. A shell, or rather two came in on the starboard glacis. They both burst on or near the mess deck. One, the forward of the two, wrecked the boys’ mess deck and medical store, splinters smashing the starboard hydraulic pump and the telemotor in the lower conning tower. It was this hit which killed Mr. Blythe. The other shell hit the cordite in the forward end of the battery and then burst in the Forward Medical Distributing station causing many casualties. The irony of it lay in the fact that the sick bay, from where everyone had been removed, as it was unprotected, was entirely untouched. The cordite fire in the battery caused many serious burns and only escaped flashing down to the magazine by a miracle; a fragment did actually penetrate there, Lieut. Porter did very well in the battery, putting the fire out and rescuing the men. He got badly burnt.

We steamed back to Scapa with the Grand Fleet, the weather getting nasty as we went.

The Valiant, being uninjured, left us for Rosyth. The Warspite, who had boon damaged in the engine room hauled out of the line and then went back to Rosyth. The Marlborough managed to get back to Immingham.

We arrived at Scapa about 12.30 a.m. on June 2nd and at once started to oil and get out empty cordite cases. The C. in C. and numerous other flag officers came on board to examine the damage and we heard we were to dock in Plymouth at once and had been allowed a month to repair and refit it.

At last we get a night in, we are still terribly tired.’

Laid out on the deck


Anaïs Nin,

‘Today He [Rank] was not shy. He dragged me toward the divan and we kissed savagely, drunkenly. He looked almost beside himself, and I could not understand my own abandon. I had not imagined a sensual accord.’

Nothing but the eyes


Jean Cocteau,
artist and director

‘Am writing these last lines of this diary in a country house, where I am hiding from bells of all kinds. Door bells, phone bells, and the Rouge est mis.

Decided to quit as soon as the film was finished. And it was yesterday that I showed it for the first time to the studio technicians at Joinville. Its announcement, written on a blackboard, caused quite a stir at Saint-Maurice. They had filled up quite a theatre with benches and chairs. Lacombe had even postponed his shooting so that his unit and artists could attend.

At 6:30 Marlene Dietrich was seated beside me. I tried to get up to say a few words, but the accumulation of all those minutes which had led to this one moment quite paralysed me and I was almost incapable of speech. I sat watching the film, holding Marlene’s hand, crushing it without noticing what I was doing. The film unwound and sparkled like a far-off star - something apart and insensible to me. For it had killed me. It now rejected me and lived its own life. And the only thing I could see in it were the memories of the suffering which were attached to every foot. I couldn’t believe that others would even be able to follow its story. I felt they too would become involved in these activities of my imagination.

But the reception of this audience of technicians was quite unforgettable. And that was my reward. Whatever happens, I shall never get such a touching reception as I did from this little village whose industry is the canning of dreams.’ [This is the last entry in the published diary.]

Beauty and the Beast


Paul K. Lyons,

‘All around is the Queen’s Jubilee. It means nothing to me, nothing at all. I’ve no problem with people finding an excuse to celebrate, but I see no reason to do so myself. The Prom at the Palace is probably under way by now - poor old Queenie she must be wondering what she’s done to deserve having her lawn and shrubs subjected to the tramplings and pickings and litterings of 12,000 commoners. It will only get worse on Monday, when the prom turns into a party, and the tramplers, pickers and litterers, all too genteel tonight, will be youthful and wild.’

The Queen and I


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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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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.