And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

24 March

1603
John Manningham,
lawyer

‘This morning about three at clocke hir Majestie departed this lyfe, mildly like a lambe, easily like a ripe apple from the tree, [. . .] Dr Parry told me that he was present, and sent his prayers before hir soule; and I doubt not but shee is amongst the royall saints in Heaven in eternall joyes.’

Shakespeare’s name William

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1840
Barclay Fox,
businessman

‘Walked with Mill and Sterling after dinner. Mill sketched simply and beautifully the opposite habit of mind of himself & Carlyle; he being a generalizer, Carlyle an individualizer. His own turn was abstraction, Carlyle’s realization; the former is characteristic of the moral philosopher, the latter of the poet. He had only once or twice actually realized scenes of which he read and from that experience could easily understand the fancied inspiration of poets. For historic events to come home to him with the reality of actual presence would be more than his nerves could bear. When he first saw the great Truth 12 years since, that the earnestness of a writer is the only thing about him worth attempting to imitate, and the inevitable inconsistency of a copied style makes it more than vain, it seemed to him like a Revelation. There is sincerity of depth of assent in his emphatic Yes which is very peculiar. He is the most candid, genuine and clear-reasoning man I ever met with.’

The day came at last

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1847
George Brinton McClellan,
soldier

‘On duty with Captain Saunders again - could get no directions so I had the two partly cut embrasures marked with sand bags and dirt, and set a party at work to cover the magazine with earth as soon as it was finished. During this day the traverses were finished, the platforms laid, the magazine entirely finished, and a large number of sand bags filled for the revetments of the embrasures. The “Naval Battery” opened today, their fire was fine music for us, but they did not keep it up very long. The crash of the eight inch shells as they broke their way through the houses and burst in them was very pretty. The “Greasers” had had it all in their own way - but we were gradually opening on them now. Remained out all night to take charge of two embrasures. The Alabama Volunteers, who formed the working party, did not come until it was rather late - we set them at work to cut down and level the top of parapet - thickening it opposite the third and fourth guns. Then laid out the embrasures and put seven men in each. Foster had charge of two, Coppée of two, and I of two. Mine were the only ones finished at daylight - the Volunteers gave out and could hardly be induced to work at all.’

McClellan’s war in Mexico

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1860
William Marjouram,
soldier

‘This evening, about 5 o’clock, a message came from New Plymouth stating that the rebels were collected at Omata, a village about four miles distant. In less than half an hour the whole of the artillery, with two 24-pounders, one 12-pounder howitzer, and about two hundred men of the 65th Regiment, were on their way to New Plymouth. After a heavy and dangerous march along the beach, we came to the Bell Blockhouse, built with heavy logs of wood, and manned by settlers. The appearance of the neighbourhood was very gloomy, and as surrounding houses were all closed and deserted, the sad tale of apprehension was sufficiently told. On passing this lonely house we gave its noble defenders three hearty cheers, which were as heartily returned. Proceeding on our way, we arrived in town about ten o’clock, greatly to the relief of hundreds of terrified women and children.’

Frightfully tomahawked

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1909
William Butler Yeats,
writer

‘March 24th. Synge is dead. In the early morning he said to the nurse “It is no use fighting death any longer” and he turned over and died.’

The poet’s labour

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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, usually several every week. The blog has been publishing for over five years, and is the secondary source for the diary extracts in this online anthology.