And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

10 November

John Perceval,

‘This day Dr. Bearcroft, preacher at the Charterhouse and King’s Chaplain, formerly my son’s tutor, married my daughter to Sir John Rawdon, and gave me a certificate thereof signed on the back of the licence. They were married in my chapel at Charlton.’

The 1st Earl of Egmont


Samuel Teedon,

‘I went to Church in the morn but was taken very ill there just as the sermon was ended. Very ill at home but thro’ mercy compleatly cured by Drinking freely of Brandy. Did not go out on that Acc[oun]t all the day follow[in]g.’

Teedon and the poet Cowper


Marianne Fortescue,

‘This has been a delightfull day. Fortescue is amazing well, he went before breakfast for his glass of water, eat his breakfast hearty after. Fanny call’d on me to walk. We all set out together, he & Jack went to market. Fanny & I to divert ourselves. We walk’d for a long time & went thro’ the Abbey Church which I liked very much. We dined before four. Fanny stay’d with us.’

The Fortescues go to Bath


Harman Blennerhassett,
lawyer and aristocrat

‘Soon after breakfast visited Burr and Pollock. Burr has again opened an audience chamber, which is much occupied. Altho’ I found 2 or 3 friends with him at breakfast; he was called out the moment he had breakfasted, and was absent about 1 3/4 hour; during which interval Mr Pollock gave me his company. [. . .] With respect to Burr, whatever may have been the ground of his present intimacy with Mr P. I can venture to affirm, it has already been abused, on the part of the former, altho’ the latter as yet, is evidently unaware of it. Upon B’s return P. withdrew, and I entered upon the objects of my visit. After informing Burr that Martin was resolved to appear for us at Chilicothe, he seemed all surprise and nothing could be more natural than the collision of such generosity with his own ingratitude. For he had fled fr Balt. without waiting even to thank his friend for the long and various services he had rendered him. [. . .]

This business being thus dispatched I next solicited him on the subject of his finances, on which indeed, he had partly anticipated me, by inquiring “what were my prospects thro’ my friends, the Lewises?” I informed him I had no expectations in that quarter, and shd absolutely starve whilst I was possessed of such splendid hopes in Europe if I was not relieved in the mean time. He regretted much the absence fr. town, of 2 persons with whom he expected to do something; but he had he said, negotiations on foot, the success of which he cd not answer for, but shd know in 2 or 3 days. [. . .]

by the bye, it is remarkable that many persons of penetration and intelligence who have indulged an eager interest in investigating every thing during the last year, relating to Burr, within the reach of their own inquiries, should have permitted that irredeemable passage of Alston’s letter imputing Burr a design to deprive his infant grandson of his patrimony.’

Breaking with Burr


Johannes Rebmann,

‘This morning we discerned the Mountains of Jagga more distinctly than ever; and about ten o'clock I fancied I saw a dazzlingly white cloud. My Guide called the white which I saw merely ‘Baridi,’ cold; it was perfectly clear to me, however, that it could be nothing else but snow.’

The full text of the Rebmann’s 1848-1849 diary - in German - is available on the Johannes-Rebmann Foundation website. The same website also offers a (rather crude) English translation of a longer passage from the diary concerning the first sighting of Dschagga/Jagga. (Curiously, and I have no explanation for this, the passage starts with the date 11 May.)

‘May. 11. At daybrake we left. When we had walked for about half an hour, we saw right from us 2 people who ran away when they saw us. Bana Cheri wanted to shoot with the shotgun. But the Teitas, who thought that the refugees were compatriots, refused him to do that and ran after them, but they couldn’t catch up with them. Northeastern we saw a mountain, about 2 day trips away, that’s called Ongotia and that should belong already to Ukamba land. After another half an hour we arrived in a desert where again more gras grew and where it therefor was harder to walk, particulary as we had not one small foot path. The normal way goes along Daffeta [e.d.: nowadays Taveta, a market place in Kenya at the border to Tanzania], where my guide didn’t want to go because he was in quarrels with the king of that country. This morning we saw the mountains of Dschagga clearer and clearer, until I thought at about 10 am that I see on on the top of one of them a noticeable white clowd. My guide confirmed me first in my opinion - if he wanted to hide the truth from me or if in fact in that moment a white cloud floated around the mountain, I didn’t know. When we had walked a bit more, I noticed again the white and I asked my guide again, if that there really could be a white clowd. While he answered, this would be a clowd, but he wouldn’t know what the white is - he assumed it would be cold - I got obvious and sure that it can’t be anything else than snow, for which the people have no name, because it never falls in this region. All the strange stories about an inaccessible, from bad ghosts inhabited mountain with gold and silver in the inner, that I had heard often with Dr. Krapf at the cost since I had arrived, were now suddenly clear.

Of course, that the unusual cold forced the half naked visitors of the snow mountain to go back, or when they had to continue by order of the despotically Dschagga king until their body wasn’t totally got numb, them really killed, what then out of ignorance was put the blame on the bad ghosts. I tried to explain the circumstances to my people, but they seemed not really want to believe me. When we rested, I read psalm 111 in the english Bible, to which I came in the ordering. The psalm made double the impression on me, at the sight of the wonderful snow mountain so close to the equator, especially verse 6, that particularly and clear said that, what I only faint suspected and felt.

In N.W. we saw again another large mountain from Ukamba land, that was named Kikumbulu.

At noontime some of my people saw again some rhinos. My short face [e.d. bad eyesight] caused huge fuss, because, to see them, I continued walking, while my people let me stand still. Because of my words that I first wanted to see the animals, they shouted more that I should go back. They seemed to be very worried about me, that nothing bad will happen to me.’

A translation into English of the whole diary document by Google Translate can be found here. A further document available on the Foundation’s website is a transcript (in German) of a diary kept by Rebmann’s wife, Emma - see a here for a translation into English by Google Translate. Elsewhere, the introduction to a biography of Rebmann by Steven Paas contains more information about Rebmann’s diary (tagebuch), not least the fact that some parts of the diary have been lost.

The Mountains of Jagga


Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff,

‘Mr. Peacock talked to me to-day at much length about Jeremy Bentham, with whom he had been extremely intimate - dining with him tete a tete once a week for years together. He mentioned, amongst other things, that when experiments were being made with Mr. Bentham’s body after his death, Mr. James Mill had one day come into his (Mr. Peacock’s) room at the India House and told him that there had exuded from Mr. Bentham’s head a kind of oil, which was almost unfreezable, and which he conceived might be used for the oiling of chronometers which were going into high latitudes. “The less you say about that, Mill,” said Peacock, “the better it will be for you; because if the fact once becomes known, just as we see now in the newspapers advertisements to the effect that a fine bear is to be killed for his grease, we shall be having advertisements to the effect that a fine philosopher is to be killed for his oil.” ’

Good-natured books


Maurice Hankey,
civil servant

‘. . . At 11.30 yet another War Ctee. These have been really dreadful [meetings] . . . Yesterday the P.M. was writing answers to Parliamentary questions all the time, with the result that the discussion was never kept to the point. . . Today Ll. G. came up with an undigested and stupid proposal for a “Shipping Dictator” which wasted the whole meeting. Yet the subjects for discussion are absolutely vital, involving no less than our economic power to continue the war next year . . . I have always foreseen that we should be strangled by our armies, and it is actually happening. Supplies short, prices high and no shipping to be got. There are only two solutions - either to reduce the size of the army or to introduce foreign labour, and the Govt, won’t adopt either . . . Thus and thus is the British Empire governed at a critical stage of the war. I have done all I can to get meetings; to crystallize woolly discussions into clear-cut decisions, and to promote concord - but the task is a Herculean one!’

Dreadful meetings


Ivan Chistyakov,

‘This life is nomadic, cold, transient, disordered. We are getting used to just hoping for the best. That wheezing accordion underscores the general emptiness. The cold click of a rifle bolt. Wind outside the window. Dreams and drifting snow. Accordion wailing, feet beating time. There’s heat from the stove, but as soon as it warms up one side, the other gets cold. A fleeting thought: am I really going to have to put up with this for long? Is life just one perpetual shambles? Why? I want to let everything go hang and just float downstream, but I’d probably get banged up myself. Come on, head, think of something and I’ll buy you a cap!

Alas, the days here are filled with longing and anger, sorrow and shame. Your work is slapdash and you just hope for good luck. It’s degrading. Nobody thinks of us as people; they think of us as platoon commanders and that’s it. Periodically someone calls you a representative of the USSR government. I ‘sadly look back at the life I have lived’ [a line from a popular ballad Sleigh Bells], and kick myself yet again. I have to get out of this place! Think of something, wise up!’

The general emptiness


Edward Reilly Stettinius Jr.,

‘I . . . finished up some work in the car on the way to the Union Station to meet the president [Franklin D. Roosevelt] who was coming in at 8:30 from Hyde Park in his special train.

The sky was overcast and it was raining fairly hard when we got there. I went into the train to greet the president. All members of the cabinet were there, together with the heads of many of the agencies.

The car was surrounded by radiomen, MP guards, and a host of Secret Service agents.

After greeting the president, I got back into my car and waited for the procession to begin. . . .

At exactly 9:00 the first car left the station loaded with Secret Service agents in their armoured car. The second car contained the president, and seated with him in the back of the car were Vice-President Elect Harry S. Truman, and Vice-President Henry A. Wallace. The only other occupant of the car, beside the driver, was Johnny Boettiger, the president’s grandson. The next five or six cars contained newsmen, and following them were the greeting committee of cabinet members and so on. We were about the tenth car.

The procession stopped at Columbus Memorial fountain where commissioner John Russell Young extends to the president Washington’s official homecoming welcome. The president responded with a few minute’s talk [sic] on how glad he was to be back, but he didn’t hope to make Washington his permanent home.’


The president entered the room at 2:10 pm, and the entire cabinet rose and clapped. The president was very cheerful and looked well. The president said he was like the old man Dante wrote about, who had gone to Hell four times.

The president said the past campaign had been the dirtiest one in his entire political career.

The president turned to me and said he had been out of touch with foreign relations and was there anything new. I told the president there was much I would have to report to him and hoped to have a private talk promptly; stating to him that we had me with the Latin American ambassadors yesterday and that we had made good progress and I was sure we would get their full support on the world organization. I told the president that we had taken them to the Blair House afterward. The president asked whether we served liquor, and I said, yes, but always after five o’clock. He then said, “You must invite me over some time!” ’

At dinner with Stalin


Anatoly Chernyaev,
historian and political aide

‘The Berlin Wall has collapsed. This entire era in the history of the socialist system is over. . . Today we received messages about the ‘retirement’ of Deng Xiaopeng and [Bulgarian leader Todor] Zhivkov. Only our ‘best friends’ Castro, Ceaucescu, [and] Kim Il Sung are still around - people who hate our guts. But the main thing is the GDR, the Berlin Wall. For it has to do not only with ‘socialism’, but with the shift in the world balance of forces. This is the end of Yalta . . . the Stalinist legacy and ‘the defeat of Hitlerite Germany’. That is what Gorbachev has done. And he has indeed turned out to be a great leader. He has sensed the pace of history and helped history to find a natural channel.’

The fall of the Wall


Richard Holbrooke,

‘Saturday, Sunday, Monday will be all map, [Holbrooke told his diary]. Christopher will come back Monday night and he leaves for Asia Tuesday. He will extend his stay and delay Asia if we’re close. If we’re not, he’ll leave for Asia, and we’ll start to figure out how to get out of here in one piece by the end of the week, announcing interim agreements and suspending this and saying that in a few weeks we will return to the shuttle after we digest. Well, this is all a ploy, I hope. I don’t want to return to the shuttle, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in Dayton, so we’re going to go for broke now. We’re going to be out of here in a week. That’s our plan, and I think it’s a very good one. If these guys want to make peace, they can do it in a week.’

We’re going for broke


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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.