And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

19 March

Henry Newcome,

‘I rose not till after 8, and went to ye library. Studdyed a little on Ps. cxii 7. After dinner I was with Mr Hayhurst at Mr Illingw: a little while, and as wee came back Mr Jackson was preaching. Mr Hayh: came with me & stayed a while. I went after & walk’t with Mr Birch in ye Ch: Yard. & after supp: studdyed ag: My wife is ill in her head. The Lord help mee.’

The nonconformist Newcome


John Byrom,
poet and landowner

‘That day I was admitted Fellow of the Royal Society by Sir Hans Sloane, and Mr Bobert Ord at the same time. He and I went there together, gave Mr Hanksbee two guineas, and signed bond to pay fifty-two shillings a year.’

Byrom’s universal shorthand


William Bagshaw Stevens,

‘Reached Bakewell by 10 o’Clock. Found that the Books, a mere collection of trash, would not be sold till Wednesday. Viewed Bakewell Church, a curious structure with a Saxon arched doorway, and an octagon Steeple. The Church contains some of the Richest Monuments in the Kingdom with a very singular large Saxon Font adorned with the Images of Saints in relief.’

A disappointed man


John Byrom,
poet and landowner

‘That day I was admitted Fellow of the Royal Society by Sir Hans Sloane, and Mr Bobert Ord at the same time. He and I went there together, gave Mr Hanksbee two guineas, and signed bond to pay fifty-two shillings a year.’

Byrom’s universal shorthand


Neil Campbell,

‘H.M.S. ‘Partridge’ left Genoa for Leghorn and Sicily.’

Of Napoleon, and a turtle


Edward Belcher,

‘The breeze has failed and the temperature again fallen to -40°. We have not been visited by the old noises termed “bolt-breaking” for some time, but last night the outer ice evinced great uneasiness, and reports of heavy and repeated cracks were heard during the whole night. From the report of those sent to examine the outer ice, I gather that the exterior ice already exhibits large rents, and the fissures generally seem to indicate a probability of off-shore leads whenever the ice is relieved from off-shore pressure. To those accustomed to view these matters it will of course be apparent; but to the uninitiated it may be necessary to explain, that this dislocated state of the off-lying pack affords us better grounds for release than if we had been frozen up in smooth continuous floe of equal thickness, as the pack invariably falls asunder at the first thaw, and may either float off or be compressed into smaller space, and thus afford space for motion, the great desideratum in these cases; on the other hand, when the floe is continuous and of equal thickness, it is only disrupted by forces which would entail destruction on our insignificant vessels.

My own conviction is, that no opinion as to ultimate release can be formed on this side of Beechey Island, and then not before July or probably until the 22nd of August, notwithstanding the unprecedented open water found here on the 14th of the latter month in 1852, and that, as it appears by reports of not many hours later, was closed almost to boats.

Last year Commander Pullen, on his first journey to Cape Becher, on the 10th of April, found the ice very treacherous with many pools of water; but then we experienced many warm days during the months of February and March. But the open water above our present position and that below, or southerly to Beechey Island, are dependent on very different conditions. We know, from actual experience now, that the Polar Sea may be open and in active motion as early as the 18th of May, as noticed on that date from Britannia Cliff, and we also know that the sea was open on the 14th of July, last season, at Northumberland Sound, yet still sealed near Hamilton Island late in August. But to my mind the cause is very clear - as clear as the North Sea and British Channel flood-tides meeting at high water near Dover. North of our present position, the flood-tide sets in from the Polar Sea and brings its warmer oceanic water; southerly, the flood has to pass up Lancaster Sound, then to be deflected up this channel, and makes high water somewhere between this and Beechey Island; hence the inaction in this particular neighbourhood when the sea may be open both above and below, and even if open off-shore, may never release this ship from her present prison. But until every matter requisite for her extraction is fairly prepared, and nothing left but taking advantage of the first lead, I do not quit my post here.’

I do not quit my post here


William J. Hardee,

‘Great review today of Genl Hardee’s whole Corps - Genl Joe Johnston, the Commander in Chief, was present - We were drawn up in two lines - Genl Breckinridge in front - Great many spectators present - among many ladies looking bright and hopeful - The Scene was imposing - It made us feel a pride in our Army and our Generals.’

Manliness of the soldier


Dorothy Shakespear,

‘Ezra! Ezra! beautiful face! I love beautiful things - and I know it more than ever, because when you made yourself ugly by shaving off your joyous hair, I was miserable - I was angry also for I thought I understood the charm of your appearance altogether - Now that you know you have been a fool, I am sure of it again - but the time between us (passed in) touched with despair.’

Are you a genius?


Mary Fuller,

‘Received another letter from the little girl In Boston today. She recalled the Boston trip to my mind. I remember it was on February 16th - we worked all day and all night up to 8 o’clock Tuesday morning on “A Princess of the Desert.” (I dont know what it will look like, having been taken in twenty-four consecutive hours, and how I will look in it after a session like that.) Well, after stopping work at 8 a.m. that Tuesday morning, I went home, bathed, breakfasted, packed my bag, and our party left for Boston on the Knickerbocker Limited to attend the Exhibitors’ Ball that night. We arrived late, dined, dressed and departed in taxis for the ball, which I was to lead with the president of the Exhibitors’ League. Tho I had had no sleep since Sunday night, I was as lively as a cricket, and the applauding crowd intoxicated me. All of the photoplayers were introduced singly on the stage and loudly acclaimed. Supper in an anteroom and flashlight photos for the morning papers, and then I escaped still alive and very much awake. The rest of the week we took scenes in Boston streets for a picture, and I visited all the theaters and supped at the Touraine. Our party left on Saturday, after a very delightful stay.’

What happened to Mary


Alex Babine,

‘I was waiting for my relay horses to rest before taking me to my next school, when an excited traveler suddenly broke into the dirty station room and gleefully announced the new millennium: Nicholas II has abdicated in favor of his brother Michael. A free constitutional rule, perhaps even a republic, is assured. The man’s accent bespoke a Pole. The stationmaster and his peasant help looked at him sourly. One could read in their eyes: “What joy can there be in a tsar’s abdication - except for an infidel like you?” It was now questionable whether I should hurry home by rail and cut short my school inspection program, or disregard the change of rule and carry out my plans as though nothing had happened. I chose the latter course.’

Jailed for making soap


Leopold Tyrmand,

‘I’ve read Jules Roy’s book La Bataille dans les rizières. Roy, a former pilot, a friend of Saint-Exupéry, a right-wing liberal, was sent by Le Figaro to Indochina and Korea to see the wars going on there firsthand. He returned under the impression that the French expeditionary corps in Vietnam were heirs to the crusading knights, children of Godefroy de Bouillon. A beautiful message, but he doesn’t explain why the crusaders, even the French, fought like lions in the Holy Land, whereas their descendants seem most eager to wage war in the Saigon whorehouses. Roy perceives the communist threat and menace correctly, and even writes beautifully about Seoul bombed by the Chinese: “I was crushed by the impression that the Seoul nights would never end, that they foreshadow a great darkness that one evening will fall for good on the world, as if over a cemetery of all hopes ...” But he doesn’t say what the French want and are doing in this regard, how they are confronting, mobilizing, immunizing themselves against the plague, which, after all, is already eating them from the inside. Instead, he himself is already infected with the loathsome French chutzpah, which the French are still selling as spiritual mettle or dash, but behind which stands neither action nor wisdom. Roy writes about the Americans in Korea that they are unfeeling, naive, dull-witted. Yet somehow the Americans won their war, despite their dimness, while the winged superiority of French virtue collapsed utterly.’

From bomber to writer


Mochtar Lubis,

‘They have been held for too long without any trial. This is not good for the soul of Indonesia.’

Mochtar Lubis in prison


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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.