And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

11 June

1510
Luca Landucci,
tradesman

‘A thunderbolt fell at San Donnino, killing a father and son, and two other children of his were frightened out of their wits and had fallen ill.

At this time a girl was found drowned in a well, and it was never discovered who she was, no one seeming to know her; and there seemed no one in all the country round who had lost anyone.’

Earthquakes in Florence

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1825
Thomas Robert Malthus,
economist

‘Town - marks of the wealth and splendour of the middle ages. Cathedrale de St Bavo rich in marble. Pulpit by Delvaux. Statue of Bishop Trieste by Quesnoy. Chch. St Michael. Crucifixion by Vandyke - a very fine picture, but dirty, and not distinct. -another copy in Academy in better order, but not reckoned so good. Van Kraeger. Boxon sculptor - single portrait of himself.

Nunnery. Town Hall Gothic side superb.

Sabots, women without stockings. Blue Carters frocks. Cotton cloaks.’

The cost of men and food

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1831
Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
poet

‘Sam told me that Hope End is advertised in the Sun newspaper, to be sold in August - no name, but a full description. He & Bro heard it yesterday from Henry Trant!. I begged him to tell nobody, & to let me tell Bummy [Arabella Graham-Clarke, Elizabeth’s aunt]. Ran down stairs & found Bummy in the drawing room by herself. Told her. She shed tears - we both shed tears! When will tears cease to be shed? She seems to fear the worst: but mentioned that Papa had written to Sam, who, he says, is able to assist him. If he is able, he is willing - if he is still Sam! So there may still be hope in that quarter. There is fear in every other. In every other? Can I not still look unto the hill from whence cometh my hope? That hope is a hope of spiritual blessing; but I have found & known it to be one of temporal comfort also! Walked out with Bummy & Arabel, on the bank on the other side of the water. Strangers may soon walk there, with other feelings than mine. Read as I have often done lately, not for the pleasure of thinking: but for the comfort of not thinking. Papa in better spirits. How often I thought of Mr Boyd today! He is the only person in this neighbourhood, whom it will affect my happiness to leave. . .’

Elizabeth at Hope End

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1852
Henry D. Thoreau,
philosopher and scientist

‘I hear the bobolink, though he does not sing so much as he did, and the lark and my seringo, as I go down the railroad causeway. The cricket sings. The red clover does not yet cover the fields. The whiteweed is more obvious. It commonly happens that a flower is considered more beautiful that is not followed by fruit. It must culminate in the flower. The cistus is a delicate flower in sandy woods now, with a slight, innocent spring fragrance, - one of those, like the pink, which you cannot bring home in good condition. June-grass is ripe. The red-eye sings now in the woods, perhaps more than any other bird. (In the shanty field.) The mountains are misty and blue. It has been quite windy for ten days, and cold a part of the time. The maple-leaved viburnum at Laurel Glen; the round-leaved cornel, and the mountain laurel, all budded. The yellow diervilla (D. trifida) ready to blossom there. The low blueberry leaves and flowers (Vaccinium vacillans of Gray) have a sweet scent. Froth on the pigeon-plain pines. A robin sings (3.30 P. M.) and wood thrush amid the pines; flies hum, and mosquitoes; and the earth feels under the feet as if it were going to be dry. The air in this pitch pine wood is filled with the hum of gnats, flies, and mosquitoes. High blackberries a day or two since. The bullfrogs in Walden (some of them at least) are a light-colored greenish brown. The huckleberry-bird is heard. I perceived that untraceable odor by the shore of Walden near railroad, where there are grape-vines, and yet the vines do not smell, and I have perceived it for two or three weeks. The vines appear but just in flower. Bittersweet, woody nightshade (Solarium Dulcamara). It has a singular strong odor. Everywhere the leaves of goldenrods from the old roots; also, in some places, epilobium. The veery reminds me of the wood thrush in its note, as well as form and color. You must attend to the birds in the spring.

As I climbed the Cliffs, when I jarred the foliage, I perceived an exquisite perfume which I could not trace to its source. Ah, those fugacious universal fragrances of the meadows and woods! Odors rightly mingled!

The snapdragon, a slight blue flower, in dry places. Interesting. The oak balls lie about under the black oaks. The shrub oaks on the plain are so covered with foliage that, when I looked down on it from the Cliff, I am impressed as if I looked down on a forest of oaks. The oven-bird and the thrasher sing. The last has a sort of chuckle. The crickets began to sing in warm dry places.

Another little veronica (?) on the Cliffs, just going out of bloom, V. arvensis (?), with crenately cut leaves and hairy. The first was the smooth. The pines are budded. I do not see the female flower yet. There is froth at the base of the new shoots even at the top of the highest pines. Yarrow, with a strong tansy scent. Lupines, their pods and seeds. First the profusion of color, spikes of flowers rising above and prevailing over the leaves; then the variety in different clumps, rose (?)-purple, blue, and white; then the handsome palmate leaf, made to hold dew. Gray says from lupus (wolf) because they “were thought to devour the fertility of the soil.” This is scurrilous. Under Fair Haven. First grew the Viola pedata here, then lupines, mixed with the delicate snapdragon. This soil must abound with the blue principle. Is that the tephrosia, so forward? The fruit of the Cerasus pumila is puffed up like How’s plums. The Aralia nudicaulis already shows small green berries. The lupine has no pleasant fragrance. The cistus a slight enlargement of the cinquefoil, the June (?) cinquefoil, what the summer can do.

It was probably the Thalictrum Cornuti, meadow-rue, which I saw at the Corner Spring, though it has no white stamens. The red (Indian (?) red) huckleberry and the white and red blueberry blossoms (the Gaylussacia resinosa, black huckleberry, and Vaecinium vacillans) are very handsome and interesting now and would attract more attention if the prospect of their fruit did not make us overlook them. Moon-seed is a good name for a plant. I should know it.

The Jones elm is fifteen and three twelfths feet circumference at five or six feet from ground, or at the smallest place; much more at twelve or fourteen feet from ground, - larger, then, than C. Davis’s elm at the smallest place.

The pyrolas now ready to blossom. Shin-leaf is a good name for one. Scleranthus annuus, common knawel, in the paths; inconspicuous and moss-like. Utricularia vulgaris, common bladderwort, a dirty-conditioned flower, like a sluttish woman with a gaudy yellow bonnet. Is the grape out ? Solomon’s-seal, two-leaved, with a third. Sanicula Marylandica, black snake-root, without color at first, glows [?] like a buttercup, leaf and stem. Those spotted maple leaves, - what mean their bright colors? Yellow with a greenish centre and a crimson border on the green leaves, as if the Great Chemist had dropped some strong acid by chance from a phial designed for autumnal use! Very handsome. Decay and disease are often beautiful, like the pearly tear of the shellfish and the hectic glow of consumption.

The ivy or Rhus Toxicodendron (radicans when climbing trees), budded to blossom, looks like an aralia.’

Cows in the river

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1860
Simon Newcomb,
scientist

‘Talked with Mr. Inkster of Ft. Garry ... was informed by him that canoes were sometimes delayed on the lake whole days by storms.’

Crossed a singular slough

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1937
Sigmund Freud,
doctor

‘Anna’s accident’

Anna with Gestapo

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1944
Ingeborg Bachmann,
writer

‘Liesl’s falllen in love with an Englishman, he’s immensely lean and tall and he’s called Bob. She says he’s very rich and went to Oxford. She talks of nothing else but him. Yesterday she said her only wish was to get away from here and go to England. I think she hopes he’ll marry her. But marriage between the English and Austrian women is forbidden by the military government. She said the wretched conditions here are never going to end and she’s been through too much, she can’t take any more and she wants to have a life at last. I can well understand her but then I get annoyed with her because she thinks I ought to marry an Englishman too and get away from here. Of course I want to get away but so that I can go to university and I’ve no desire to get married at all, not even to an Englishman for a few tins of food and silk stockings. Most of the English who are here are very nice and, I believe, decent. But I’m much too young, Arthur and Bill are very nice and we often talk a lot together and laugh a lot. We often play games like ‘Drop the Handkerchief’ and ‘Statues’ in the garden. Arthur’s always giving little Heinerle chocolate and a few days ago he suddenly went to Mummy, who’s still bedridden, and put some tea and biscuits on the quilt for her. She calls him Carrot-top because he has such red hair and she likes him best. I think he’s in love with Liesl as well. Bill too, but even more, and Arthur’s terribly jealous of Bob. Bob is quite unapproachable, we once spoke a couple of words but never again, not even when I thanked him for letting Liesl have the car to bring her mother back from hospital.’

Bachmann’s diary fragment

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1949
Kenneth Williams,
actor and writer

‘Went to the Bank and arranged to have my account transferred to Newquay. Deposited £7 - which means that £3.10.0 a week saved, since I started on full salary, which is not so good. Must do better than this.

Richard came to my room and read this! - funny he’s the only one I’ve ever allowed to read my private and so personal! diary. But s’pose that apart from S., he’s the only one I can really trust, who will never abuse my confidence.

Met some queers in the New, and got sent up by two young matelots - rotten! awful!’

Carry on carping

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1985
Viktor Petrovich Savinykh,
scientist

‘We turned on the lights at the first post and how it made a difference in living conditions. And in the evening we even warmed up some canned goods and bread and dined on a hot meal. A Holiday! Today we spent almost the entire day in the station and by evening we were quite frozen. Volodya’s feet were warmed up by the heaters which had warmed up by dinnertime. We did not look at the Earth. Again a complete overhaul, but much more complicated. The lifeless station is slowly coming back to life.

Yes, we tried a hot meal for the first time already a week after our launch.

Finally, the quietness of our “carriage” stopped being so oppressive. The first live sound we heard was the noise of the drive for the solar batteries. I stood (or more accurately, hung) opposite the 10th viewport, looking at the 4th plane. The reduction gear began to make a noise, the plane deployed and life began.

The clocks and the “Globus” began ticking and the ventilators started making a sucking noise. Without them it was recommended to us that there not be two people in the work compartment at the same time. We could exhale around ourselves such a cloud of C02 that it would then be impossible to breathe. But, in fact, it is not possible to sit in separate compartments all the time. In order not to make the ground nervous we said we were separated but, in actual fact, of course, we were working together, dispersing the clouds around ourselves, each using his own primitive method.

Our subsequent life also took shape. Exposed panels on the walls and ceiling, a huge number of hoses and cables strung out along the entire length of the station, an endless search for the needed connectors, their attachment and detachment in order to check the instruments and equipment.’

Holiday on our Earth

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1992
Christopher McCandless,
hiker

‘Remove heart and other lung. Two front legs and head. Get rest to stream. Haul near cave. Try to protect with smoker.’

Beautiful blueberries

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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 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.