And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

27 June

Edward John Eyre,
explorer and administrator

‘In crossing the southern extremity of these large plains, we came suddenly upon a small party of natives engaged in digging yams of which the plains were full; they were so intent upon their occupation that we were close to them before they were aware of our presence; when they saw us they appeared to be surprised and alarmed, and endeavoured to steal off as rapidly as they could without fairly taking to their heels, for they were evidently either unwilling or afraid to run; finding that we did not molest them they halted, and informed us by signs that we should soon come to water, in the direction we were going. This I knew to be true, and about three o’clock we were in front of a water-course, I had on a former journey named the “Rocky river,” from the ragged character of its bed where we struck it.

We had been travelling for some distance upon a high level open country, and now came to a sudden gorge of several hundred feet below us, through which the Rocky river wound its course. It was a most singular and wild looking place, and was not inaptly named by the men, the “Devil’s Glen;” looking down from the table land we were upon, the valley beneath appeared occupied by a hundred little hills of steep ascent and rounded summits, whilst through their pretty glens, flowed the winding stream, shaded by many a tree and shrub - the whole forming a most interesting and picturesque scene.

The bed of the watercourse was over an earthy slate, and the water had a sweetish taste. Like most of the Australian rivers, it consisted only of ponds connected by a running stream, and even that ceased to flow a little beyond where we struck it, being lost in the deep sandy channel which it then assumed, and which exhibited in many places traces of very high floods. Below our camp the banks were 50 to 60 feet high, and the width from 60 to 100 yards, its course lay through plains to the south-west, over which patches of scrub were scattered at intervals, and the land in its vicinity was of an inferior description, with much prickly grass growing upon it.

Upwards, the Rocky river, after emerging from the gorges in which we found it, descended through very extensive plains from the north-north-east; there was plenty of water in its bed, and abundance of grass over the plains, so that in its upper parts it offers fine and extensive runs for either cattle or sheep, and will, I have no doubt, ere many years be past, be fully occupied for pastoral purposes.’

Along the Rocky river


Simon Newcomb,

‘Sent Kippling out in the morning to offer £3 10s each for canoe-men. In the afternoon, he returned stating that the middlemen wanted £4 10s each, and the bowman £5 10s. We shall probably have to engage four middlemen & a bow[ma]n at these rates.’

Crossed a singular slough


Cosima Liszt Wagner,

‘Still rain; but R is working - that is my sunshine! When, visiting him while he is at work, I tell him that, he says; ‘And do you know what makes me feel so irresponsible toward everything? The fact that I have you; none of our evil experiences touches the nerve of things; so I, too, can be single-minded. If I had had you with me in Paris, I should not have let myself in for all those things. The only trouble is, we came together late, I want to enjoy it for a long time yet.’ - Uncharitable feelings over my father’s behaviour. - R has composed Hagen’s aria [Hagen - a character in Götterdämmerung]. He says, ‘While doing it I was thinking of you asleep; I was uncertain whether to let himself express himself in silence or not; then I remembered how you talk in your dreams, and I saw I could let Hagen voice his emotions, which is much better.’ . .’

Music was sounding


Cosima Liszt Wagner,

‘R reads in the newspaper that there have been uprisings among the workers in Vienna, and again it is the misguided poor people who have been punished and persecuted. ‘The demagogues, the ringleaders, should be trodden underfoot like vermin,’ says R, very indignant that the misguided people are once again the victims. - Visit from the conductor Herbeck. Proposals for Vienna, inquiry whether R would perhaps do Die Walküre there, before Bayreuth - all of it nonsense. - Family lunch, the faces of musicians are discussed, and R says the handsomest was Méhul’s. On my remarking that these French musicians (Grétry, Méhul, etc.) were very gifted: ‘Oh the French are significant, no question of that, what they lack is an ideal, something which, when it comes to the point, doesn’t concern itself at all with form - like Bach for instance, who simply ignored the laws of euphony, which meant everything to the Italians, in favor of independence for his voices.’ - R has done some work, despite the interruption of Herr H. Walk with the children after the rain, renewed pleasure in the park: ‘If one could conjure it up with a wish, one couldn’t make it any lovelier.’ In the evening took up our old Gibbon again and continued with him, remarking as we did so that the English are much better and more original interpreters of Latin ways, their classical form and their settled outlook, than the French.’

Music was sounding


Cosima Liszt Wagner,

‘Quite a lot of things all at once; furnishing of the hall, which is to be consecrated today; visit from the machinist Brandt, arrival of the singer Scaria (Hagen) and visit from Frau Löper, back from Karlsbad. Herr Scaria sings somem of Hagen’s music straightaway, but since he knows nothing of the text, R reads it to him. Curious the dealings with these implements! -’

Music was sounding


Tommy Lascelles,
civil servant and courtier

‘The Coronation; up at cock-crow and escorted Maud to our seats in Montagu House. I marvelled that people should have given themselves so much trouble for so singularly unimpressive a ceremony. Dined v. happily at Brooks’s with Edward; and then on through crowded streets to Downing Street, where we picked up the Prime Minister, his entire family, D. [Lister], Kath, Venetia Stanely etc. Escorted by a policeman and a detective who spoke seven languages and never opened his mouth in one of them, we plunged into Pall Mall and wondered for hours looking at the illuminations and trying to extract humour from an annoyingly sober and ordered crowd. At Trafalgar Square the PM when home to bed, and we could join more freely in the sports of the people. I had hoped someone would have recognised him and started a demonstration but except for one man who exclaimed, ‘There’s Asquith - I should like to go and break his head,’ he excited no feeling. It was fun singing Gourdouli all down the Strand, and I nearly got run in for putting a paper cap on a policeman’s helmet, and was only saved by the intervention of our escort. Poor man, he was heartily ashamed of us.’

Sports of the people


Florence Farmborough,

‘I was told that well over 200 men had passed through our Unit today; I was also told something that almost took my breath away: that some 3,000 men are to come to us during the next few days to be fed, as the Zemski Soyuz has arranged that enormous supplies of food should be stored in the town under our unit’s supervision. This will entail a vast amount of extra work for our Letuchka; luckily, however, the regiments concerned have agreed to send us extra help.

I sat in the operating-room, awaiting further newcomers. I think that I must have slept, for when I opened my eyes, my watch was pointing to midnight, and all around was very quiet. At 6 a.m. more wounded arrived. One of them had a most unusual wound; a bullet had entered his body at the shoulder-blade, gone down his right side and lodged in his thigh. After an early breakfast, we resumed our work. I extracted a bullet from the upper left arm of a young soldier; it was not a difficult extraction, for the tail-end of the bullet was visible, but even after the wound was cleansed and bandaged, he continued to weep and moan: “Sestritsa, bolit! bolit! [Little Sister, it hurts!].” I was washing the face of another young soldier, a face covered with grime, dust and dried blood. “Sestritsa,” my patient said, with an attempt at a smile. “Leave it dirty! I shall not go visiting any more.” At first I thought that he was joking and some light-hearted repartee was on the tip of my tongue; then I saw the ugly gash on his head and I understood what he meant.

One of the stomach patients had deteriorated greatly in the last few hours. The craving for water was on him; it was all that a Brother and I could do to prevent him from throwing himself off his straw mattress. In his delirium he cried out that he and his comrades were drinking from a great river, and that he was drinking, drinking, always drinking.

In the tent which housed the sick, the patients were less restless. One soldier refused to drink because the water given to him had been boiled; he vowed that boiled water always gave him colic. A young Tatar assured me that if only I would allow him to sit up and smoke, in two days’ time he would be up and about again; but as things were, he said that it was Plokhoye delo! Ochen plokhoye delo! [Bad business! Very bad business!].’

Guilty of murder


Mahadev Desai,
political aide

‘Today’s spinning tired me out. Either the slivers are not good enough for 50s or perhaps I have not still attained the requisite skill. My speed is low, and the thread breaks off and on, so that I take nearly 5 hours to spin 840 yards, not to talk of the physical fatigue it entails. This is no good. I said to Bapu I was down and out. Bapu suggested that I must now spin only one-half of what I spun before. Narandas writes that Keshu spins equally fine yarn at the rate of 350 rounds an hour. How far behind him I am! Yoga means skill in action, says the Gita (II, 50) but I am as far from such skill as ever. I have been carding for a long time but I am unable to produce fine slivers, and if I spin fine yarn, my speed amounts to zero.’

Gandhi and the cat


Norman Heatley,

‘George and I collected about 40 litres of P solution, and filtered it. In the afternoon tried the dustbin still I had designed, and it worked perfectly, although the cooling condenser was not quite efficient enough.’

Purifying penicillin


Federico Fellini,

‘A wooden root falls from the sky. “It’s the wooden harp!” someone tells me with a tone of devotion and exultation as if a miracle had taken place. “Play it!” Dressed like a monk/mendicant, I (but was it me?) draw incredibly sweet sounds from the rough piece of wood. They make people cry. Even I am moved to tears. This last part of the dream was followed by me commenting on the dream itself, as if it were a film created for television by a young director. My comments were very positive.’

Fellini’s dreaming


Alan Bennett,
playwright and actor

‘Chichester. Talking to Maggie Smith about the number of grey heads in the audience for Talking Heads, I compare them with a field of dandelion clocks. She says that she’s read or been told that the Warwickshire folk name for these was ‘chimney-sweeps’ so that Shakespeare’s “Golden lads and girls must,/ As chimney-sweepers, come to dust” is thus explained. I had always taken chimney-sweepers to be a straightforward antithesis, poor and dirty boys and girls the opposite of clean and bronzed ones. This, of course, doesn’t bear close examination, though what probably planted it in my mind was a nightmare I used regularly to have as a child in which a chimney-sweep or coalman rampaged through our spotless house. I look up chimney-sweeps in Geoffrey Grigson’s The Englishman’s Flora (shamefully out of print) and find that, the flowers being black and dusty, chimney-sweep and chimney-sweeper are Warwickshire slang for the plantain, particularly the ribwort, and that these were used to bind up sheaves of hay; children, whether golden or otherwise, used to play a game not unlike conkers with the flowers on their long stems, in the course of which, presumably, the flowers disintegrated, or came to dust.’

A place for my asides


Pikle - The Diary Review - The Diary Junction - Contact

And so made significant . . .
and its companion websites -
The Diary Review
and The Diary Junction - are maintained privately without any funding or advertising. Please consider supporting their author/editor by purchasing one or more of his books: the memoir, Why Ever Did I Want to Write, and the Not a Brave New World trilogy.
Thank you.

Why Ever Did I Want to Write is a patchwork of themed stories about one man’s early life, embracing highs and lows but driven by a desire to make the most of being alive, to experience, to feel, and above all to understand. Reminiscent of Karl Knausgaard’s A Death in the Family and Theodore Zeldin’s An Intimate History of Humanity, this memoir, often based on diaries, sees Lyons reflecting on a repressed childhood, exploring the world through years of travelling, and searching for meaning and excitement in the arts and love affairs – an archetype of the counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s.

Not a Brave New World is an extraordinary fictional memoir, a trilogy in three wives, spanning the whole of the 21st century: one man’s - Kip Fenn’s - frank account, sometimes acutely painful and sometimes surprisingly joyful, of his three partners, and his career in international diplomacy working to tackle the rich-poor divide.

GILLIAN - Book 1 - Amazon (US/UK)
Kip Fenn’s first love is in a coma. His father suddenly isn’t his father. After formative trips to Brussels and Brazil, Kip wins a civil service job. Unfortunately, a media baron discovers his sexual weakness and is blackmailing him for government secrets. If only Kip could find solace in his wife’s arms or joy in his children.

DIANA - Book 2 - Amazon (US/UK)
Kip Fenn is a success: his career has taken off within a major UN agency trying to spread wealth from the rich to the poor. But all is not well with the world - the golden age of oil and chips is now over, and unsustainable development is leading to social turmoil, and to world war. Kip has found love and a new family, but he can find no way to stop his older children self-destruct; nor does he realise his partner’s deceit.

LIZETTE - Book 3 - Amazon (US/UK)
Third time lucky - Kip Fenn finds true love. His UN career though is ending with a whimper. Another terrible war is cut short by the devastating Grey Years, and while nations rebuild many individuals turn Notek. In restless retirement, Kip’s lifelong passion for vintage photos sees him launching a new arts institution. But who is the mysterious visitor by his bedside, and how will she affect his planned deathday?


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.

in diary days



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.

SITE DEVISED by Paul K Lyons

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.