And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

10 June

John Evelyn,

‘We went, after dinner, to see the formal and formidable camp on Blackheath, raised to invade Holland; or, as others suspected for another design. Thence, to the Italian glass-house at Greenwich, where glass was blown of finer metal than that of Murano, at Venice.’

A most excellent person


Thomas Robert Malthus,

‘To Ghent by the Grand Barque. Passage 5½ francs each, dinner included, wine excluded. Vin de Bordeaux ordinaire 3 f. Claret at 4 f. not better. - rather approaching to the wine at 1½ f.’

For a great part of the way the banks were so high that the country was not visible - wood on each side - chiefly poplar of different kinds, and beech - Latter part of way banks lower - neat houses - good deal of rye the main food of the common people. Labour 14 sous, 28 French Sous. White bread 3½ pounds for 4 Sous or pence.’

The cost of men and food


Phebe Orvis,

‘Pleasant. Mr. Converse[’s] son died of the measles today, yet we go on to sin[.]’

An extraordinary ordinary woman


Wilhelm Bleek,

‘On Tuesday 10th June I set off to climb the u Mpofu mountain north-east of the station. I tried to sketch the outline of the mountain, but as I am not skilled I was only moderately successful. I am enclosing the rough sketch, as it may give an idea of the formation of the mountain. [The sketch was sent to Dr Petermann; there is no copy in the Ms.]

The course which I had chosen was to ascend the u Mpofu on the southern side, as I considered that slope of the mountain as the most gentle. The range runs horizontally, dividing the i Noemane from the streams on the other side. Before I reached the summit, I came across a kraal which was just being built. It was a double kraal with narrow doorways facing one another. Nothing but the outer frame, and a hut in each of them, had been completed. Only two men and a few boys were present. One of the men was a strange sight, as the bone of his nose had the appearance of being cloven in twain. Right in the middle was an ugly ulcer. The Zulus say he looks like a hyena (a Mpisi). I wanted the other man to come with me up the mountain to tell me the names of the mountains and rivers in the neighbourhood, but he declined, being too busy building huts. From then on the path was no longer straight, but wound around the western side of the mountain, so that I reached the summit from the north. On top of the mountain there were quite a few kaffer gardens. The view was only fair; generally the view is only clear immediately after the rain. Riding down the eastern slope of the mountain, I arrived at a kraal, or rather three kraals grouped together, called u Ndabepambile, and their u Mnumzana (master of the kraal), u Mcaguza. The doors were so low and narrow that my horse could only squeeze through in a bent position. How cattle, especially those with big horns, can get through remains a mystery to me. I had the same dinner as the previous day. While I was there, the man whom I had wanted to take as a guide appeared suddenly in full splendour, he had dressed himself smartly and had followed me, but had missed me on the mountain. Though he was of no use to me now, I was touched by his eagerness. On my way back, I climbed the summit again and descended the steep southern slope towards the huts in construction, and then home the same way. I sketched the outline of the u Mandawe mountain from a spot above the spring of the i Noemane. This little river runs towards the north-east and then winds northwards round the slopes of the Mpafu.’

Father of African philology


Barbara Bodichon,

‘Wendell Phillips came in the evening. He was enchanting. He told me that the W. R. Movement had made immense progress since 1850. He knows twenty women at least who can gain their living by lecturing in Lyceums. He says Lyceums in debt very often get women to come and lecture on W.R. even when they do not agree with her, because they know she will attract a paying audience. Gentlemen who were dead set against the W.R. now advocate it. A Governor of Ohio was obliged to apologize to the ladies of Ohio and recant because he refused to hear female delegates to some Society, etc. etc.

Wendell Phillips himself says when Lyceums come to him he says, “Yes, I will lecture for you: 50 dollars for Literature or Abolition, or WR for nothing.” ’

Campaigning for women’s rights


John Dearman Birchall,

‘Had long conversations with partners. Mr Webb in particular who gave us a most interesting description of his American experiences. No improvement at the Mill. Average this year 86 pieces a week, 2230 pieces value £18,900. Trade getting much flatter. Today we had separate interviews with Cheetham. He first privately told me of his sorrows, father dead, sister insane, brother wretched, uncle unkind, wife ill at Scarborough - fears for her brain. I suggested Oswald spend half his days at the Mill till the end of the year, as a support to Cheetham to make more sympathy between the departments. Webb, Campbell and Oswald agreed to do away with cheviots and confine themselves to certain specified makes - at present with all their patterns they are getting few orders.’

The tricycle diaries


Aleš Hrdlička,

‘Alaska. Arrive at Cordova, a former native and Russian settlement of some importance, now a pretty little town when the sun shines, protected by islands. Will stay here large part of the day and so go to see about Indians, old sites, burials, and specimens. The local forester takes me out along a lake some miles into the rugged volcanic back country, where there are still plenty of bear and mountain goat. After that Dr. Chase drives me to an old Russian and Indian cemetery nearer the town. There are numerous graves here, mostly Indians, but also few whites and even a Chinaman. Russian crosses still common. Hear of skulls and bones on a “mummy” island in Prince William Sound, but no chance now to visit.

See quite a few living natives in the outskirts of the town, but most appear mixed. Two adult men evidently fullbloods - Indian type of the short-headed form.

The ship makes three more stops before Seward, the main one at Valdez. These permit to see some fish canneries. They employ Japanese, Philippine, and Chinese labor, and I find it is quite a task to distinguish these one from the other, and to tell some of them from the coast Indians. The Chinaman can be singled out most often, though not always, the Japanese less so, while the Filipino in many cases cannot be told from the Indian even by an expert. A striking lesson in relationships.’

Hrdlička’s Alaska diary


Iris Origo,

‘The third anniversary of Italy’s entry into the war. No celebrations. A rumour had spread that there were to be air-raids all over Italy, and all day many mothers have kept their children at home. Nothing, however, occurred until six pm, when a few enemy planes flew over the town - and a few more during the night. The air-raid warnings in the hospital (even though nothing happens) are rather uncomfortable, owing to one’s enforced immobility and the jumpiness of some of the patients.’

La Foce is liberated


Philip Mechanicus,

‘Around the camp, just behind the barbed wire, there is a majestic field of purple lupins in full bloom. It is a refreshing sight to the eyes of thousands of battered men, women and children who walk the barren streets between the lifeless barracks; a glimpse of nature for those who peer out the fogged windows of the filthy laundry sheds.

Between the lupines, there are guard towers every hundred meters or so, where military police with grim-looking helmets on their coarse heads and armed with frightful carbines keep watch, ready to shoot anyone who tries to escape. Along the barbed wire, more military police, also with their carbines slung over their shoulders, are patrolling the fences. The lupines are also under strict surveillance: anyone who is not allowed out of the camp to work should not think of picking one of the pretty lupines. Nevertheless, the camp is teeming with lupines. There are bouquets on the rough wood tables in the resident barracks, they are in old tin cans on the windowsills. They add a little color, beauty and fragrance to the dirty beds that are crammed together, to the stench of unwashed clothes and sweaty bodies. Toward evening, when the young men and women return to the camp from the heathland, dusty and sweaty, marching apace, aware of their vigor and unquenchable thirst for life, they carry bunches of lupines, which they picked as a reward for their hard day’s work.’

A field of purple lupins


Paul K. Lyons,

‘[Lima] I am laid up with hepatitis. To start at the beginning I had odd days on the Galapagos Islands when I felt completely wiped out for some reason. When I got back to Ecuador I took a long ride through the night to the mountain city where I had left some possessions. On the way I felt very tired, terrible sometimes. I was with friends who had had hepatitis but they weren’t sure about my symptoms. I decided to head for Lima in the night - two nights and a day of bussing constantly. I would normally have stopped at many places and probably hitchhiked and taken a week to get here, but I felt the need to be in a big city. When I got there, I went first to the British Embassy to get my letters. They told me of a hospital which was expensive but clean. It was a long way away, and once there I had to wait a long time. But a doctor confirmed I had hepatitis. He said I must stay in bed for at least two weeks. No walking, no alcohol, no chocolate, little grease, lots and lots of rest.

It was terribly depressing to walk out of that hospital in a completely strange city, having been told that I must not walk but must stay in bed for weeks or else it will get worse. What to do, where to go, I had no idea. I am not sure if my insurance will pay for the accommodation and food while I am laid up, but I have assumed so and am staying at a hotel three times more expensive than my norm. It has a little cafe where I can eat most of my meals, so I won’t have to walk too far.

So it is Thursday 10 June. I sit in the little cafe on the first morning of my self-imposed rest. Ironically, I feel very well, but I am pissed off beyond all measure. It would help if I a friend who could get me odd bits and pieces from the shops. My books are all read. I’m told hepatitis sometimes lasts for months, but, because I feel good, I am hoping that a week of rest will be sufficient. Even a week without reading material will drive me crazy.

I do know a young guy who lives in Lima. I met him for a few days in Panama. I will ring him today. Also I’m expecting other friends to be travelling through Lima soon. I just hope I can contact them. Any way there is no need to worry, I’m looking after myself and resting against my nature. And I have faith that it is only a mild attack - and in 10 days I’ll be fitter than a lion.

I did get to the Galapagos Islands which was something else. As I may have mentioned it is very expensive for foreigners to go there: the aeroplane ticket is more than twice as expensive than it is for Ecuadorians. There is also a cruise, but the cheapest is $250. I spent a restless night or two deciding that it was not worth it for that price; and then I decided to hassle around looking for a cheap way to get there. I went to the worst and largest city in Ecuador, Guayaquil, and investigated various possibilities: the navy, the air force, different cruises, cargo boats. Dejected and beaten I tried one last thing. I went to loads of different travel agent until I found one that didn’t seem to know about the tourist law. Keeping very cool and doing things very carefully I managed to get an Ecuadorian return air ticket for $65 as opposed to a tourist ticket for $145. Both going and returning I had frightening moments as my ticket was checked (thinking the mismatch between the ticket and my obvious appearance as a tourist would get me into trouble), but it was fine.

It’s expensive on the islands too. To get the best deal one has to hire a boat, to cruise round the island, and fill it with eight people. It is a very touristy scene, but nothing can be done about it. I spent one week in the main settlement (it’s full of characters from all over the world) waiting for people to fill a boat, and the other week travelling around the islands. They are all tips of volcanoes, sticking out of the sea, some old, and some new just 100 years old (a mass of cracked black lava). There is a lot of beautiful emptiness, but of course the main attraction is the wildlife that is not so wild.

Sitting in the little port of the main village I saw the following: a pelican or two sitting on a post fishing, a heron (a giant blue one) doing nothing, lots of 2-3ft long marine iguanas crawling around the rocks, thousands of little lizards, mocking birds that will land on you, lots of beautiful fish in the clear water, and a seal. Around the islands, I saw: thousands of sea lions and seals all without fear of humans (one can swim with them), penguins, fearless land iguanas up to 4ft long (landing on their island these enormous lizards come trundling down to meet you), hawks and doves that come within two feet of you, and flamingoes. On the boat trip we ate only fresh meat killed the same day: goat, tuna, durado (white fish), lobster and crab. And, of course there are the giant tortoises - enormous things. They are threatened by the introduced animals like the rat and goat, and are therefore being cared for and protected by the research stations where one can see them at all stages of their life.

Heh, I’m 24, how about that. I’ve never been 24 before. We had a little celebration in the Galapagos. The Islands had run out of beer so we got drunk on rum.’

Rum in the Galapagos


Viktor Petrovich Savinykh,

‘Today is the first time I have managed to write a few words. Inside the station it is cold, the viewports have frost on them, like windows in wintertime in the country. There is frost on the metal parts, near the hull. We sleep in the living quarters compartment of the ship in sleeping bags, it is not cold there. We work in warm overalls and down hats borrowed from home. Our feet freeze in our flight boots and so do our hands if we don’t have any gloves on. Within the station it is quiet and dark. We work in the light and at night we use lamps. Our health is good. Hope has emerged.’

Holiday on our Earth


Christopher McCandless,

‘Butchering extremely difficult. Fly and mosquito hordes. Remove intestines, liver, kidneys, one lung, steaks. Get hindquarters and leg to stream.’

Beautiful blueberries


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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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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.