And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

29 March

William Laud,

‘Sunday, Two papers were found in the Dean of Paul’s yard before his house. The one was to this effect concerning myself: Laud, look to thyself; be assured thy life is sought. As thou art the fountain of all wickedness, repent thee of thy monstrous sins, before thou be taken out of the world &c. And assure thyself, neither God nor the world can endure such a vile counsellor to live, or such a whisperer; or to this effect. The other was as bad as this, against the Lord Treasurer. Mr. Dean delivered both papers to the King that night. Lord, I am a grievous sinner; but I beseech Thee, deliver my soul from them that hate me without a cause.’

My picture fallen


Benjamin Haydon,

‘Keats is gone too! [A few weeks earlier, Haydon had written of the death of John Scott, editor of the London Magazine, after a duel.] He died at Rome, Feby. 23rd, aged 25. Poor Keats - a genius more purely poetical never existed. [. . .]

The death of his brother [in December 1818] wounded him deeply, and it appeared to me from that hour he began seriously to droop. He wrote at this time his beautiful ode to the nightingale. ‘Where Youth grows pale & spectre thin & dies!’ - alluded to his poor Brother.

As we were walking along the Kilburn meadows, he repeated this beautiful ode, with a tremulous undertone, that was extremely affecting! I was attached to Keats, & he had great enthusiasm for me. I was angry because he would not bend his great powers to some definite object, & always told him so. Latterly he grew angry because I shook my head at his irregularity, and told him he was destroying himself.

The last time I saw him was at Hampstead, lying in a white bed with a book, hectic, weak, & on his back, irritable at his feebleness, and wounded at the way he had been used; he seemed to be going out of the world with a contempt for this and no hopes of the other.’

Thirst after grandeur


David Elisha Davy,

‘Barlee sent me in his gig to Pakefield Church, 6 Miles. I there took some additional Notes both in the church, & churchyard, copying the Verses in the latter, & rubbing off the two brasses still remaining in the former. I had not time to examine the Registers; but compleated the church notes for this Parish.’

Many little matters


William Daunt,

‘In the midst of sharp privations of various kinds, I this day rode to Clonakilty to borrow money at the bank to pay the tithes to the Protestant minister. I have sometimes dined on Indian meal porridge and sheep’s milk, sometimes on a pennyworth of rice, and gone supperless to bed. Of this I do not complain, for it is caused by a visitation of Providence. But of the Established Church I do complain, for it is the visitation of England, not of Providence. . .’

The Irish Difficulty


Emmala Reed,

‘A dreamy day - misty - peach trees & gardens glowing with beautiful bloom - sunny &c, but Wm. Walters came in & disturbed my equanimity. Wanted me to go in the country with him to Mrs. Skelton’s. I felt it would be funny to go alone with him. Too dull &c not decided yet. Aunt Anna here - had letters & gone home. My many excuses rather provoked Mr. Walters I guess for he didn’t return to me. I couldn’t decide whether to go or not. I was much worried but releived when he had gone. Not vexed I hope, yet he was kind in calling for me & I may have no other opportunity of going there. But my want of decision is a great trial to me and a serious fault leads me into many unforeseen difficulties & I can’t have more, it seems, or discretion. Busy all evg.’

Prayed & wept & hope


Andrew Peterson,

‘The boys transported manure - I was in Bed - we had bright weather but not mild weather.’

The Swedish emigrant


Alexis Babine,

‘Straggling, worn out, shabbily clad soldiers are beginning to line the road, trudging wearily along, with half empty knapsacks on their backs, homeward bound.’

Jailed for making soap


Carl Rogers,

‘Last night we had dinner, we being the men of the American delegation, with Jack Childs and five Chinese, leaders in YM work. We had an interesting discussion about the Chinese Student Movement, but the most interesting part of the discussion for me was to see the way in which the Chinese worked. Two of them, Dr. Lew and Mr. Koo, were, I think, the keenest men there. All the Chinese were fully the equals of the Americans. There surely is no doubt in my mind that the Y is following the right policy in turning over the leadership of the work to the Chinese Just as fast as that is possible.

We had a Chinese dinner, with about twenty courses. They eat in even a more informal way than the Japanese, putting the bowl of food in the center of the table, and going after it with their long chopsticks. We had more queer stuff than I ever hope to see again. We had preserved eggs, which had been burled for years in the dirt. They were alright, though I failed to get very enthusiastic over them. We had fish eggs, and fish, and rice and chicken, and bamboo sprouts, and various kinds of sweet dishes, and tea, and finally ended up with a lotus seed pudding. It was some feast. I dont think that I liked it quite as well as the Japanese guenabi dinners that we had. The food all seems to have a rather insipid taste, without much spice of any kind.

The only thing that I didnt like was that it kept us until midnight - at least the feast and discussions did, and as the next day was the opening of the work of the General Committee, I thought that was too bad.’

Alongside Carl Rogers


Richard E. Byrd,

‘. . . Last night, when I finished writing, I noticed a dark patch spreading over the floor from under the stove. A bad leak had opened up in the fuel line. Worried about the fire risk, I shut off the stove and searched all through my gear for a spare line. I couldn’t find one, which annoyed me; but I finally succeeded in stopping the leak with adhesive tape borrowed from the medical chest. Result: I was up until 4 o’clock this morning, most of the time damned cold, what with the fire out and the temperature at 58° below zero. The cold metal stripped the flesh from three fingers of one hand.

(Later) This being the twenty-second anniversary of the death of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, I have been reading again his immortal diary. He died on this same Barrier, at approximately the same latitude as that of Advance Base. I admire him as I admire few other men; better than most, perhaps, I can appreciate what he went through . . .’

Flying over the Poles


Galeazzo Ciano,

‘A report presented by Melchiori, who has spent a month in Germany, has had a profound influence on the Duce. I do not know the value of this individual’s observations. He is a shining example of amorality, greedy ambition, ineptitude, and ignorance, who does not know a single word of German and spends his time in the anterooms of the consulates and the embassy begging for secondhand information, which he then cooks up in a rather vulgar style. The trouble is that Mussolini takes him seriously. Few documents have struck him lately as much as the Melchiori report, in which even though he reaches the conventional conclusion of “an unavoidable German victory” he also points out the difficult living conditions of the German people. This report has not substantially modified the decisions of the Duce, but for the first time he admits that Germany is not resting on a bed of roses, and that the failure of the offensive or a long-drawn-out war would mean defeat, and hence the collapse of the German regime. “I do not understand,” he said, “why Hitler does not realize this. I myself can feel that Fascism is wearing out - a wear and tear which is not deep, but is nevertheless noticeable, and he does not feel it in Germany, where the crisis has already assumed rather alarming proportions.” ’

I like Mussolini, very much


Hugh Dalton,

‘On top of the world! First news of naval battle in Eastern Mediterranean. In this phase the war goes fast our way. It may reverse a bit later, but never mind that.’ 

Uproar in Parliament


Wim Wenders,

‘Sixty-fourth day of shoot. The last day. My shoot ends on the day all the newspapers are carrying photographs of Michelangelo with Jack Nicholson. They’re all full of reports of Oscar night, and I buy all the newspapers I can lay my hands on, especially the Italian ones. [. . .]

My first thanks are due to Robby and Donata. As the evening goes on, with all of us eating at a buffet in a hall off the studio, it gradually sinks in that this adventure is over for the moment. There’s still the editing and the post-production to come, but they can’t be as risky or as onerous as the shooting.

Someone turns up the music, and we dance ourselves off our feet.

I fall into bed exhausted. I dream that Jeanne Moreau wants to come out of the painting too, but for some reason I can’t do it for her. I know I’ll be dreaming of the filming for weeks to come; I always do when I’ve finished a shoot. And they’re always dreams where something impossible has to be done, too. I’ve never been on a shoot where I haven’t been plagued by these nightmares afterwards.’

Shooting with Antonioni


Michel Barnier,

‘Ambassador Tim Barrow, Permanent Representative of the UK to the European Union, hand-delivers the long-awaited letter to Donald Tusk. Nine months after the referendum, Theresa May has today given notice of her country’s wish to leave the European Union, triggering the two-year period under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union during which we must find an agreement for the UK’s orderly withdrawal and set out the framework for our future relationship. Negotiations can now begin.’

Negotiations can now begin


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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.