And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

5 June

William Whiteway,

‘This day at 11 a clocke at night, god took unto his mercy, my eldest daughter Mary, being fower yeares old within 6 or 7 diaes.’

The towne took on fire


Hermann Ludwig von Löwenstern,

‘We sailed with a fresh wind toward Texel to show the Dutch that, even though the sailors in England were revolting, the sea was nevertheless not empty of English ships.’

At sea with Von Löwenstern


Henry Crabb Robinson,

‘At Covent Garden. For the first time in my life I saw Mrs. Siddons without any pleasure. It was in the part of the Lady in “Comus.” She was dressed most unbecomingly, and had a low gipsy hat with feathers hanging down the side. She looked old, and I had almost said ugly. Her fine features were lost in the distance. Even her declamation did not please me. She spoke in too tragic a tone for the situation and character.’

Her genius triumphed


Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake,

‘Throat very fairly bad, and very ‘cheval’ as M. would say. Apropos it’s her birthday....

Just before prayers I was in the cupboard and someone shut the door nearly on me. I threw it open again and half upset the great slate. We had been rather uproarious all afternoon as M’s sisters had been here and said holidays did begin on 18th. When I came out of the cupboard I managed to tread on M’s toes, and Mlle packed me off to bed. I said ‘All right,’ shook hands with her, kissed S. and went off. Mlle wasn’t very angry nor I very sorry and so we were all very comfable. Seized on K. for a kiss as she came up and she seemed forbidden to speak to me. However we had a nice hug and she wasn’t very horrified.’

Pioneering women’s education


Mark Kellogg,

‘Broke camp usual time Marched mostly a South Course 10.4 miles, struck Stanleys return 72 trail again descended into Bad Lands crossed Cabine Creek at 11 AM, Marched 20.2 miles & camped, grass fair, water ditto, no wood, used dried sagebrush for cooking. Worse road have had & worst country. Chief products sagebrush, cactus & rattlesnakes. Antelope very plenty. No Indian signs today. Been ahead with Reynolds. Killed 2 Black tailed deer & 2 Antelope. Tonights camp on open plains. Hd Qrs on hill top, handsome and convenient camp, but for lack of wood. 2 mules died last night. Saw 1st Buf. signs today, tracks fresh, since snow.’

Days before Custer’s Last Stand


Alfred Domett,
prime minister and poet

‘Being at the Zoological Gardens, I looked in at the Lecture Room. Huxley was lecturing. A dark-complexioned man, with deepset eyes, prominent forehead and turned-up nose, thick rather coarse hair slightly streaked with grey, parted on one side, and brushed back from his forehead in the middle; lower part of the cheeks a little flabby making a sort of fold overarching the mouth; lips loose and mouth working; fidgety, rather excitable in manner, passing the back of his hand across his nose nervously, but as if from habit, not in the least from diffidence. He spoke in a low conversational tone; taking a snake from a box, handling and describing it; explaining some of the motions of its head and body by pawing with his hand in the air.’

Browning’s friend Domett


Mary Henrietta Kingsley,

‘Off on Mové at 9.30. Passengers, Mr. Hudson, Mr. Woods, Mr. Huyghens, Père Steinitz, and I. There are black deck-passengers galore; Ï do not know their honourable names, but they are evidently very much married men, for there is quite a gorgeously coloured little crowd of ladies to see them off. They salute me as I pass down the pier, and start inquiries. I say hastily to them: “Farewell, I’m off up river,” for I notice Mr. Fildes bearing down on me, and I don’t want him to drop in on the subject of society interest. I expect it is settled now, or pretty nearly. There is a considerable amount of mild uproar among the black contingent, and the Mové firmly clears off before half the good advice and good wishes for the black husbands are aboard. She is a fine little vessel; far finer than I expected. The accommodation I am getting is excellent. A long, narrow cabin, with one bunk in it and pretty nearly everything one can wish for, and a copying press thrown in. Food is excellent, society charming, captain and engineer quite acquisitions. The saloon is square and roomy for the size of the vessel, and most things, from row-locks to teapots, are kept under the seats in good nautical style. We call at the guard-ship to pass our papers, and then steam ahead out of the Gaboon estuary to the south, round Pongara Point, keeping close into the land. About forty feet from shore there is a good free channel for vessels with a light draught which if you do not take, you have to make a big sweep seaward to avoid a reef. Between four and five miles below Pongara, we pass Point Gombi, which is fitted with a lighthouse, a lively and conspicuous structure by day as well as night. It is perched on a knoll, close to the extremity of the long arm of low, sandy ground, and is painted black and white, in horizontal bands, which, in conjunction with its general figure, give it a pagoda-like appearance.

Alongside it are a white-painted, red-roofed house for the light-house keeper, and a store for its oil. The light is either a flashing or a revolving or a stationary one, when it is alight. One must be accurate about these things, and my knowledge regarding it is from information received, and amounts to the above. I cannot throw in any personal experience, because I have never passed it at night-time, and seen from Glass it seems just steady. Most lighthouses on this Coast give up fancy tricks, like flashing or revolving, pretty soon after they are established. Seventy-five percent, of them are not alight half the time at all. “It’s the climate.” Gombi, however, you may depend on for being alight at night, and I have no hesitation in saying you can see it, when it is visible, seventeen miles out to sea, and that the knoll on which the lighthouse stands is a grass-covered sand cliff, about forty or fifty feet above sea-level. As we pass round Gombi point, the weather becomes distinctly rough, particularly at lunch-time. The Mové minds it less than her passengers, and stamps steadily along past the wooded shore, behind which shows a distant range of blue hills. Silence falls upon the black passengers, who assume recumbent positions on the deck, and suffer. All the things from under the saloon seats come out and dance together, and play puss-in-the-corner, after the fashion of loose gear when there is any sea on.

As the night comes down, the scene becomes more and more picturesque. The moonlit sea, shimmering and breaking on the darkened shore, the black forest and the hills silhouetted against the star-powdered purple sky, and, at my feet, the engine-room stoke-hole, lit with the rose-coloured glow from its furnace, showing by the great wood fire the two nearly naked Krumen stokers, shining like polished bronze in their perspiration, as they throw in on to the fire the billets of redwood that look like freshly-cut chunks of flesh. The white engineer hovers round the mouth of the pit, shouting down directions and ever and anon plunging down the little iron ladder to carry them out himself. At intervals he stands on the rail with his head craned round the edge of the sun deck to listen to the captain, who is up on the little deck above, for there is no telegraph to the engines, and our gallant commanders voice is not strong. While the white engineer is roosting on the rail, the black engineer comes partially up the ladder and gazes hard at me; so I give him a wad of tobacco, and he plainly regards me as inspired, for of course that was what he wanted. Remember that whenever you see a man, black or white, filled with a nameless longing, it is tobacco he requires. Grim despair accompanied by a gusty temper indicates something wrong with his pipe, in which case offer him a straightened-out hairpin. The black engineer having got his tobacco, goes below to the stokehole again and smokes a short clay as black and as strong as himself. The captain affects an immense churchwarden. How he gets through life, waving it about as he does, without smashing it ever two minutes, I cannot make out.

At last we anchor for the night just inside Nazareth Bay, for Nazareth Bay wants daylight to deal with, being rich in low islands and sand shoals. We crossed the Equator this afternoon.’

We crossed the equator


Nicholas II,

‘Today dear Anastasia turned 16 years old. I took a walk with all the children until 12 o’clock. We all went to prayer services. During the day we chopped down some big fir trees at the crossing of the three roads along the Arsenal. There was a colossal fire, the sun was reddish, and in the air was the smell of burning, probably from peat burning somewhere. We went sailing for a little while. During the evening we walked until 8 o’clock. I started the 3rd volume of Le comte de Monte Christo.’

Hope remains above all


Edward Stanley,

‘Usual meeting of the Board at 12 o’c. Nothing much to discuss except the question as to what would happen if we had to leave Paris. Difficult subject to deal with as we do not know where we should go to and we cannot ask for fear of giving rise to rumours. We put the whole thing in the hands of General Thornton who has promised to make all arrangements to get people away. I am endeavouring to get the members of the Missions who have their wives out here to send them home but it is a little difficult to do without giving rise to a suspicion.

After luncheon Furse came in. Afternoon. Nothing of importance and in the evening we three with Lady Rodney dined at the Ambassadeur.’

An ambassador’s war diary


Noel Coward,
writer and performer

‘London has changed, even in eighteen months; the traffic is appalling and all elegance has fled from the West End. Coventry Street, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Shaftesbury Avenue have acquired a curious ‘welfare state’ squalor which reminds me of Moscow.’

A glittering occasion


Fred Bason,

‘Yesterday at Brighton I gave my one hundredth talk to a Rotary Club. (The first talk to Rotarians I gave was in 1941 in Camberwell. My 99th was at Chertsey a week ago.) I was keen to keep this engagement although I felt very ill and Liz had to go with me in case I got some blackouts and fell down. For five years Id tried to get a Brighton talk, but each time something prevented me. I was not going to let myself down again, so I went to Brighton. You see, diary, when I started talking at Rotary clubs a speaker with much experience of these places told me that the three toughest, hardest audiences to hold in the Rotary World were at Wakefield, Leeds and Brighton, although I forgot to ask him why. As the years have passed I managed to hold Leeds and Wakefield and I intended to see how Brighton* would accept my exclusive brand of Cockney humour.

I need not have worried. They were quite alright and gave me a fair hearing and in 25 minutes talk I was able to get nine laughs out of them, so they were not so tough. Alas, I was only able to sell two of my books there although there were more than ninety men there and I did offer them for sale at far below cost price! Maybe most of them are still unable to read? I just wouldnt know. However, I sold a copy to The President of the club and to the Speakers secretary and they both promised to lend them around, so it was not quite a waste of time and genuine effort.

I recalled to Brighton Rotary how I got my first Rotarian talk. It was in 1941 and I’d made a name on the radio. There came one day to my home a big fat tough man. Would I talk at his Rotary Club? I didnt know what Rotary was, the word meant nothing to me. He explained and then I said that I would be willing to talk for ten minutes free. He said that would not do; it would have to be 25 minutes. And still he offered me no fee. He said he was not in the position to pay a fee so I wasnt very willing. It was war time and life was short.

Then he said that he noticed that I had two very bad teeth. He would take those two teeth out free and PAIN-less if I would talk 25 minutes. He was a dentist and would take me back to his surgery in his car immediately after the talk and in a jiffy they’d be out. He looked so strong and capable that I agreed.

Well, I gave the talk and then I went back to his place near Camberwell Green and that man gave me Bloody Hell. Never, never have I been hurt so much. He quite unnerved me for four days, and my gums were badly torn and still bleeding four days later, and took weeks to heal. When I got home I was white and shaking and bloody. I looked as if Id been in a massacre. Lizzie looked at me and then said ‘My God, Freddy, what did them there Rotarians do to you? They must be proper so and so’s to treat you like that, and you going there FREE just to make them laugh.
* Brighton is becoming so respectable that the pigeons now fly upside down.’

The Loud Bassoon


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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.

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, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.