And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

14 March

Dorothy Wordsworth,

‘William had slept badly - he got up at nine o’clock, but before he rose he had finished The Beggar Boys, and while we were at breakfast that is (for I had breakfasted) he, with his basin of broth before him untouched, and a little plate of bread and butter he wrote the Poem to a Butterfly! He ate not a morsel, nor put on his stockings, but sate with his shirt neck unbuttoned, and his waistcoat open while he did it. The thought first came upon him as we were talking about the pleasure we both always feel at the sight of a butterfly. I told him that I used to chase them a little, but that I was afraid of brushing the dust off their wings, and did not catch them. He told me how they used to kill all the white ones when he went to school because they were Frenchmen. Mr Simpson came in just as he was finishing the Poem. After he was gone I wrote it down and the other poems, and I read them all over to him. We then called at Mr Oliff’s - Mr O walked with us to within sight of Rydale - the sun shone very pleasantly, yet it was extremely cold. We dined and then Wm went to bed. I lay upon the fur gown before the fire, but I could not sleep - I lay there a long time. It is now halfpast 5 - I am going to write letters - I began to write to Mrs Rawson. William rose without having slept - we sate comfortably by the fire till he began to try to alter The Butterfly, and tired himself - he went to bed tired.’

Daffodils so beautiful


Sidney George Fisher,
lawyer and writer

‘I wish to make now merely a simple record of the facts of this the greatest calamity that has yet befallen me. On Thursday evening, as before mentioned, Henry was so much better that the doctors thought there was no reason whatever why anyone should remain with him all night. As I had been away three nights, I therefore came home. On Friday morning, I found that I had taken cold from my long drive to Frankford the previous day and, the weather being still damp & raw, I feared to increase it by going up morning & evening to Brookwood and, feeling no anxiety about Henry, I remained at home till three o'clock. On my way up I met Harry Ingersoll in Green Lane, who told me that Henry was much worse & had had a bad night. When I reached the house, I was informed that during the night the fits had returned with great violence, that he had been quite out of his mind, had got out of bed, tried to jump out of the window, & could only be controlled by the coachman, the only man in the house. In the morning, he had a few hours sleep, the effect of opiates. George Smith & I sat up with him, Wister & Gerhard there in the evening. He continued to grow worse thro Saturday & Sunday and at 10 minutes past 3 on Monday morning he died.

It seems like a horrible dream. I cannot describe the scenes of those dreadful days & nights, the shocking contortions of his face, the ravings, the stream of words, of articulate sounds which were not words, poured forth in torrents by the hour, with such terrible expression of voice & countenance that it seemed to me a wonderful exhibition of the power of both. A new view of human nature was opened to me, impressive, solemn, fearful, never to be forgotten. Grief at times was overcome by amazement not unmixed with admiration at the spectacle, whose various horrors were governed by an order and harmony of their own, which passed in rapid succession &, when over, left on the mind, like a storm, the impression of sublime power & terrible beauty. George Smith & Stewardson were with him nearly all the time, Wister came twice a day & staid all Sunday night, Gerhard staid two nights. All that skill could do was tried in vain. The disease was meningitis or inflammation of the brain, which caused the convulsions & the astonishing effects of countenance & voice, and his great vital power made the struggle long & severe. At 12 o’clock on Sunday, Wister announced to Leidy that he was sinking. The convulsions, the ravings, the distortions had ceased & he laid panting but quiet. We all assembled around the bed, Leidy, Ellen, Jim, Mrs. Atherton, Mrs. Purviance & myself, and there we all remained until three o’clock on Monday morning, 15 hours, during which he was dying. Leidy had been in constant attendance on him night & day, ever since he was attacked, with rare intervals of sleep, the others were more or less exhausted. Human nature could endure no more. Before he died they were all asleep. Half an hour before he died, the loud hoarse panting subsided into a soft, gentle, regular moan, which grew fainter until at length the last breath was expired and he was gone. We got the ladies & children to their rooms & soon after went to bed ourselves.’

Never to be forgotten


Rutherford B Hayes,

‘We left Columbus soon afternoon, Thursday, March 1, for Washington on a special car; having, in fact, two cars of Colonel Tom Scott, attached to the regular passenger train. In our party were William Henry Smith, ex-Governor Noyes, General Young, General Grosvenor, [and] Colonel H. C. Corbin.

The evening before, we had a reception at the State House given by the people of Columbus. A large crowd followed us to the depot. We were escorted by the college cadets. I made a short speech which was well received. Crowds met us at Newark, Dennison, Steubenville, and other points. The enthusiasm was greater than I have seen in Ohio before. At Marysville(?), near Harrisburg, we were wakened to hear the news that the two houses had counted the last State and that I was declared elected!

We reached Washington about 9:30 A. M. General and Senator Sherman met us at the depot, and we were driven directly to Senator Sherman’s house. After breakfast I called with Senator Sherman on President Grant.

It was arranged that I should in the evening, before the state dinner at the White House, be sworn by the Chief Justice to prevent an interregnum between Sunday noon (the 4th) and the inauguration, Monday. This was the advice of Secretary Fish and the President. I did not altogether approve but acquiesced.

I then drove with Senator Sherman to the Capitol. The colored hack-drivers and others cheered lustily. I went into the Vice-President’s room and many Senators and Representatives were introduced to me. Several Northern men, S. S. Cox and other Democrats, and still more Southern men.

They cheered lustily


Raja Varma,

‘We paid a return visit to Ms Ulit who has got fine old copy of Rembrandt. It cannot be the original as I remember having seen printed copies of the same. It is a very beautiful work. Ulit is a man of taste.’

Painting with brother


William Booth,
priest and evangelist

‘Soldiers’ and ex-Soldiers’ Meeting fine - three-fourths men. A great improvement on anything I have seen in the way of Soldiers’ Meetings in this place. I got the truth out, and thirty-seven of them fell at the Penitent-Form [the bench at which salvation seekers kneel] to seek power to walk in its light.’

I got the truth out


Nicholas II,

‘The bodyguards here were dismissed when their term of service was finished. But nevertheless together with the guard detachment they had to be sent to the city. From Omsk they sent a command for this village. The arrival of this “Red Guard,” as it is now called, or any armed detachment, excites rumors and fear here. It was simply amusing to hear what they say these last few days. The commander of our detachment apparently also was confused, since the last two nights the guards detachment and machine guns were brought in the evening. Hope remains above all in these present times!’

Hope remains above all


Aleksander Rodchenko,

‘There’s a proposal to go to Kramatorka, to photograph the finished workshops of the factory and make ten albums for a report and for showing the government.

I’ve begun packing, I’m even taking the enlarger with me, and I decided to try to keep a diary of the trip. I’m leaving on March 17th. Tomorrow I go to the Trust to arrange the tickets. . . I don’t know what the weather will be like, recently it has been cold, snowing. I also have to fix the Leica tomorrow, to try out the film . . . I want to photograph not just the workshop and factory but make new photographs of everyday life and types, too. . .

I want to make photos such as I’ve never made before, ones that are life itself and the most genuine life, photos that are simple and complex at the same time, that will surprise and amaze . . .

Otherwise there’s nothing to do in photography, then it’s worth working and fighting for photography as art.’

Photos to surprise and amaze


Joseph Goebbels,

‘S.S. Croup Leader Kaltenbrunncr sent me a general report on enemy sabotage activity during the year 1942. It appears that it was rather over-estimated. While it is true that a number of regrettable events occurred, they did not affect the situation seriously. We can be quite satisfied with developments thus far, considering, after all, that we are now in the fourth year of war.’

The Nuremberg ten


Joe Randolph Ackerley,

‘Graylingwell again yesterday. And I was astounded by the improvement which Nancy showed since I last saw her. She walked in, not altogether steadily, but by herself and sat with me, and conversed in a comparatively sensible way. Though still vague in many respects, she was now in possession of much of her mind. She asked for some money, complained about the food, and seemed to expect to be able to come and join me quite soon. Some of her luggage, she said, was missing, and she was concerned about that. She asked after my health, and seemed to take an interest in my replies. Her head was still too heavy for her neck and hung forward rather, but she was altogether, excepting for a cold, a well woman compared with what she had been before. She had even written me a letter, which I had not then got, but have since received - uncertain in writing, and rather rambling in thought, but wonderfully encouraging. She said she was having insulin now every day except weekends. I asked her if she had had electrical treatment too; she said no, not to her knowledge.

Oh dear. What was it that sent her down and out at the Acre? What thought, what anxiety, what revulsion - if any? And when her mind is able soon to embrace once more all the problems of her life, will she come up against that thought, that anxiety again, and fade out once more? At the moment there seems no reason why she should not be with me in a week or two - as Dr Brodie prophesied.’

Ackerley and his women


Pete Seeger,

‘We are taken on a 5-hour drive to one of the beauty spots of the world: Hon Gay Bay. which is filled with several thousand steep rocky islands, averaging 400-600 feet high with fishing junks sailing between them.’

They mix it up almost as I do


Dirk Bogarde,

‘Elizabeth and George arrive to accompany us to airport and home. She will do the housekeeping, George the land which has been neglected for so long. I'll need help. Wheelchair, stick and the rest of the paraphernalia. Forwood valiant and brave; anyway, it’s better than walking at terrible Heathrow. I push him and no Press near because we are flying Air France. So that’s a relief. Flight on time, easy, specified seats (booked in advance . . . why can’t you on ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’, BA?) and land at Nice about four. Fine spring rain, car waiting, arranged by Arnold (my ex stand-in for many years) and we drive home with anxious, and not very good, driver who is terrified of the narrow lanes, sounding horn at every bend.

Marie-Christine [guardian] has meal ready for evening, house spotless, flowers in Long Room. All smells of strong ‘shag’ (her husband rolls his own cigs) but all serene. Bendo slightly hysterical. Settle F. and then discover that I have left his suitcase down at the airport. Typical. I’m so bloody capable. But we are back at home.

For the time being, at least.’

Forwood valiant and brave


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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.