And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

24 March

John Manningham,

‘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


Barclay Fox,

‘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


George Brinton McClellan,

‘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

William Marjouram,

‘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


William Butler Yeats,

‘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


Mary Fuller,

‘Took some “Dolly” stuff on lower Broadway and dont say “Some crowd!” A million can collect in a minute down there when the camera is produced. It takes some manoevering to steal the scenes. We lunched at the Old Chop House, which is reminiscent of the Cheshire Cheese in London. I wonder if my signature and accompanying drawing is still in the visitors’ book at the Cheese. Dear old Cheese, the service is so bad there - and the ventilation.’

What happened to Mary


Marie Belloc Lowndes,

‘The Arnold Bennetts dined with me to meet Sir George Riddell and Pamela McKenna. Bennett told me of the vast sums he was making: a hundred pounds for a 1,500 word article in the new Sunday paper. He gets two hundred pounds from American papers for each article he writes of the same length and £3,500 for serial rights of a novel. He has fixed up three serials for £10,000 with an American paper. He gave a funny account of the Editor of Munsey’s going to see Sir Gilbert Parker. Sir Gilbert received him with hauteur, whereupon the American said: “What you’ve first got to do is to come off your perch - and listen to what we want. I can only do business on those lines.” The great man gave in and got off his perch.’

A plot mind is curiously rare


Otto Braun, soldier

‘Along the Vosges to Colmar. Beautiful sunny journey. The ancient culture of these parts permeates every village in a most pleasing manner. On a hill to the left towers the gigantic ruin Drei Ahren. In Colmar the streets, squares, yards and a delightful town hall make very charming pictures. Everything grows naturally, but is trimmed and cultivated with wisdom and understanding. One could compare the work of these Gothic architects of cities with that of a sensitive gardener. The deepest impression as regards art was made on me by the interior of St. Martin, an extraordinarily harmonious structure, in which the effect of light has been treated with the utmost skill. Suddenly the communiqué - Peronne taken, the Somme crossed. Everything else vanished. What is to be our fate?’

So much inner power


Gottlob Frege,

‘From our earliest education onwards we are so accustomed to using the word ‘number’ and the number-words that we do not consider our use to require justification. To the mathematicians it appears beneath their dignity to concern themselves with such childish matters. But we find the most diverse and contradictory statements about number and numbers among them. Indeed, after prolonged occupation with these questions, we come to suspect that our way of using language is misleading, that number-words are not proper names of objects at all and words like ‘number’, ‘square number’, and the rest are not concept-words; and that consequently a sentence like ‘Four is a square number’ simply does not express that an object is subsumed under a concept, and so just cannot be regarded like the sentence ‘Sirius is a fixed star’. But how then is it to be regarded?’

Reprehensible social views


Aaron Copland,

‘I have a cold. Damn! Lunch given for us at the Embassy by the Counsellor Minister, Mr. Freers. Present Khrenikoff, Kabalevsky, Shostie (with 2 wives). It transpired that Leeds [Music Corp.) pays publication rights for Soviet music and them nothing (so reports Khrennikov). They looked hopeless at the prospect of paying American publishers’ fees for performance. This spoils my idea of a depot for Amer[ican] music in Moscow, tho’ they claim the Union will collect a library of foreign music on their own. I stayed home in the evening and nursed my cold.’

Copland watches Shostie


Arseny Tarkovsky,

Someone asked my father, ‘What do you think of Pasternak?’ He said, ‘I have always felt as I might of a woman - adoration one moment, hatred the next, now admiration, now contempt.’

Tarkovsky father and son


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And so made significant . . .
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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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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.