And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

28 March

Vere Hunt,
landlord and politician

‘The County [Limerick] met at one over the Exchange. I proposed that it be recommended to landlords to give a temporary abatement to poor tenants on account of the fall of grain, and to pay tythes for those under £10 a year rent. It was negatived. A memorial was sent to the Lord Lieutenant signed by thirty-six Justices to proclaim the entire county as in a state of insurrection. Dined at Harry Fosbery’s and got drunk.’

Vere Hunt in a crashing machine


Harriet Arbuthnot,

‘Went into the country for the Easter holidays. We went to the Duke of Dorset’s at Drayton in Northamptonshire, which is three miles from our own farm. While we were there a farmer in the neighbourhood offered Mr. A. £1.00 for a calf three months old, which he refused & for which I thought him very foolish. This rather shews that the agricultural interest is not at so low an ebb as is thought by some, when a common farmer could afford to offer such a price on such a mere speculation.’

Rid of such monsters


William Marjouram,

‘Late last night, the bodies of two English boys were found at Omata, both fearfully mutilated. Surely the Lord will avenge the blood of the defenceless and unarmed on the heads of these savage butchers! The Rev. Mr Brown with two or three English families, being still at Omata, and great doubts being entertained of their safety, a strong body of troops, under command of Colonel Murray, had been ordered to proceed by different routes for the purpose of removing them from so dangerous a neighbourhood. They had scarcely arrived before they were attacked by the rebels, who had taken up their position in a gully thickly studded with trees. Soon a smart fire commenced on both sides, and our rockets did much execution. The action continued until after dark, about which time Captain Cracroft with a portion of the Niger’s crew rushed to the pa and seized the enemy’s colours. Unfortunately, at this critical moment, an order arrived for the troops to return at once. I need hardly add that it was most reluctantly obeyed. We arrived in town about midnight, our loss being two killed and about fourteen wounded. We ascertained that the natives had lost by this affray ten chiefs and ninety killed or wounded.’

Frightfully tomahawked


John Dearman Birchall,

‘I hear that the Hopkinsons have sold Edgeworth to a Kentish gentleman for £40,000.’

The tricycle diaries


Friedrich von Holstein,
civil servant

‘[…] The trouble about politics is that you can never be certain when your policy has been correct. Perhaps our policy after 1866 was in fact mistaken. The Federal Diet had greater means of checking revolutionary movements and tendencies to disaffection in individual states than the modern Reich with its Federal Council and its Reichstag. […]’

The Gray Eminence


Thomas Cobden-Sanderson,

‘On Wednesday last I went to the British Museum to see a collection of drawings arranged by Sidney Colvin, and later I went to Hammersmith to see Morris. I found Mrs Morris very happy, for he was very much better. He was having his supper - oysters etc. When he finished, I went into his room, and found him sitting in a chair by the fire with a large silk handkerchief spread over his knees. He looked - despite his supper! - a little empty, his clothes hanging somewhat loosely upon him. But he was cheery and hopeful, and fell to talking about the new book (The Glittering Plain) now in the course of printing at the Morris Press. It promises to be a very beautiful book.’ [The Glittering Plain, a novel by Morris, is considered to be one of the first in a genre now called fantasy.]

Innumerable ripples; countless diamonds


Mary Thorp,

‘Saw a poor English woman to-day who can’t do without her tea - she pays it 3 frs 75 the 100 grammes, so 37 frs 50 the kilo, but only a hundred grammes at a time. Another English family who can’t!! go to the Alimentation pays the same for a franc’s worth of tea at a time & 9 frs the kilo for sugar, when they can get any (smuggled) from shops! My bottles of tea strained off when we have taken ours, have great success; it means better quality & great saving to those poor women. All the people of the American legation are leaving, in a few days, for Le Havre via Switzerland. Weather still so cold & no coal to be had anywhere.’

In want of a winter coat


Ivan Chistyakov,

‘Day greets me with a ray of sunlight on the wall, shining through a crack. I experience a moment of sheer joy, like that sunbeam, then BAM immediately crushes it and our life here falls into even starker contrast. A life of never knowing and . . . can’t come up with a name for it because everything here is just dreadful.

1 Squad have lost it, which is no surprise. They’re stuck out in the forest with none of the amenities human beings need to live, e.g., food for the soul or the mind. They’re out of touch with civilization and have food only for their stomachs, so they end up behaving like animals. Even wolves gather and play together. But us? It is forbidden for two commanders of the same educational level to serve together. What sort of policy is that? They shift you from one place to another saying you were getting too close. We have screwball superiors who couldn’t understand human psychology even if they were allowed to and just demoralize you. I’ll stick it out till autumn, and at the end of September, that’s it! Freedom or jail! I now have one idea for getting discharged - a report or speech at a meeting. I have seven months to think something up. I do want to see the Far East Region in the summer, then I’ll have savoured all the seasons.

Bystrykin, a platoon commander, has TB but doesn’t want to leave. Why? Because for him this life is perfect and he gets fed. For me, it would be hip, hip, hurray!

Golodnyak has arrived. Why have the top brass moved him here? Is it clemency or does he scare them? I got talking to a doctor in the canteen and learned an interesting fact. One of our doctors qualified as a bookkeeper but is said to ‘know about diseases’. How amusing.’

The general emptiness


Anthony Powell,

‘To London, mainly for another Prime Minister’s dinner party [. . .] At dinner, to my great surprise, I was put on Mrs Thatcher’s right, with Vidia Naipaul on her left; on my other side was John Vincent. At one time or another I had read a lot of reviews by Vincent, some of them no great shakes, so far as I remembered, others pretty good. He has a notably prognathous jaw, perfectly civil manner. We did not have much talk, as I was fully occupied keeping my end up with the Prime Minister, while Vincent probably thought he had to make some sort of showing with his fellow don, Tony Quentin, on his other side.

I continue to find Mrs Thatcher very attractive physically. Her overhanging eyelids, hooded eyes, are the only suggestion of mystery (a characteristic I like in women, while totally accepting Wilde’s view of them as Sphinxes without a secret). Her general appearance seems to justify Mitterrand’s alleged comment that she has the eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe; the latter a film star I never, in fact, though particularly attractive. Mrs Thatcher has a fair skin, hair-do of incredible perfection, rather dumpy figure, the last seeming to add a sense of down-to-earthiness that is appropriate and not unattractive in its way. She was wearing a black dress, the collar rolled up behind her neck, some sort of gold pattern on it. On her right hand was a large Victorian ring, dark red, in an elaborate gold setting. She only likes talking of public affairs, which I never find easy to discuss in a serious manner. In fact I felt myself taken back to age of nineteen, sitting next to a beautiful girl, myself quite unable to think of anything to say. Mrs T. is reputed to have no humour. I suspect she recognizes a joke more than she is credited with, if probably jokes of a limited kind, and confined to those who know her well. [. . .]

The talk at this Downing Street dinner, as before, was introduced at a certain stage by Hugh Thomas. It ranged over East Germany, to the condition of Young People in this country, topics on which I am not outstandingly hot. Mrs T. did, however, please me by saying that everything from which we are now suffering is all discussed in the plainest terms in Dostoevsky’s The Possessed (as I prefer, The Devils); a fact I have been preaching for decades. I wonder when, how, she got round to this. Did she read the novel, see its contemporary relevance herself, or was that pointed out to her by someone? I fear probably the latter.’

Speaking of The Possessed


Theodore M. Hesburgh,
priest and administrator

‘En Route to Tianjin. We woke up this morning to what was probably the worst weather we’ve experienced. The sea was full of whitecaps, the wind was strong, and the rain was pelting down as we passed offshore of Shanghai. To make matters worse, there was fog in all directions, so we couldn’t see anything.

Played bridge for an hour and a half this afternoon, and for a change Ernie and I beat Ned and Faye. I can’t claim it as a great victory, though, because in over 4,000 points scored on both sides, we won by only 30.

The captain invited us to dinner in his private dining room tonight. We had been invited once before, but couldn’t go. This time we did, and it was very nice. As a memento of the occasion, each of us received a necktie with the Cunard logo. This captain understands and practices public relations as well as anyone I’ve ever met. He’ll be a hard act to follow. (Unfortunately, he died of cancer within a year.)

To smell the roses


Corin Redgrave,

‘We took part in a rally in Trafalgar Square.

I read Robert Fisk.

We stood together on the platform - Kika read the diary of Zena el Khalil.

It was an honour to take part in such a dire, dreadful situation. It was important to feel that we could contribute, even in a small way.

We met Harvey and Jodie which was delightful. And Arden was there, dear Arden.’

Our Time of Day


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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.