And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

13 November

Pedro de Alvarado,
explorer and soldier

‘Such a thrilling adventure Don Pedro has had today! We accepted the Moctezuma’s invitation to visit the temple this morning, and on our way our procession was suddenly stopped by the appearance of a palanquin a short distance ahead. How frightened the richly liveried servants did appear when I spurred my horse forward to see what infidel they were carrying! Lifting the curtain of the carriages, I was startled to look into the face of the beautiful lady I had seen watching from the temple the day we entered the city. Her dark eyes revealed the fear caused by my abrupt appearance and she drew herself into a corner of her palanquin. What a rude fellow I was to frighten her.

When we arrived at the temple, our page Orteguilla, attracted my attention, drew me aside, and presented me with some exquisite flowers.

“Señor”, he said, “a slave from the princess Nenetzin [?], daughter of the great being, told me to give these roses to Tonatiuh with the red beard. If thou woulds’t care to see a beautiful infidel read the flowers and follow me.”

In the shade of the turret, I found my lovely princess whom I had frightened in the carriage. Cierto! Such a charming lady no other cavalier has been so fortunate to behold! How beautiful she appeared in white with the long scarf concealing half of her radiant face and falling to the mat upon which she was sitting. Masses of dark hair gave her a majestic crown which her sparkling black eyes and mischievous smile brought enchantment to a noble knight’s heart. I kissed the flowers and returned them to her. Through the services of my page, an interpreter, I was convinced of her love for me. She told how she had dreamed of my coming; how she had pictured my white face, my big blue eyes, and my golden locks flowing over my shoulders. I must take that my beard falls in proper ringlets upon my breast. She believes me a god and has given me the name Tonatiuh meaning “child of the son” Ah! Holy mother, she has won Don Pedro’s heart. She is too true and beautiful to be an infidel. I took my chain with iron crucifix, given me by my dear mother, and asked her wear it always for my sake. [. . .] and my beautiful princess is no longer a heathen, but a Christian. From this day forward, Alvarado doth pledge his heart and sword to Princess Nenetzin [?].’

Conquistador in love


Roger Lowe,

‘Jane Wright, Mr. Sorrowcold’s maid, came to towne and we ware very merry togather. I accomodated her with Ale, and so we parted. I was att this time in a very fair way for pleaseing my carnell selfe, for I knew my selfe exceptable with Emm Potter, notwithstanding my love was entire to Mary Naylor in respect of my vow to her, and I was in hopes that her father countenanced me in the thinge.’

In church, at the alehouse


William Godwin,
philosopher and writer

‘Correct. Dyson & Dibbin call; // talk of virtue & disinterest. Dine at Johnson’s, with Paine, Shovet & Wolstencraft; talk of monarchy, Tooke, Johnson, Voltaire, pursuits & religion. Sup at Helcroft’s:’

William Godwin’s diary


Charlotte Grimké,
teacher and anti-slavery campaigner

‘Talked to the children a little while to-day about the noble Toussaint [a leader of the Haitian revolution who died in 1803]. They listened very attentively. It is well that they should know what one of their own color could do for his race. I long to inspire them with courage and ambition (of a noble sort), and high purpose.’

A free black female


Raja Varma,

‘Not having been well for the last three or four days, I opened my bowels this morning with Rubinat Water. In the afternoon I went to Phadkis Studio to make an enlargement of a negative. This done I returned home and went again with Brother to the market to purchase curtains and other things for our studio. On return home we saw Mr Chaturbhuj Khinji waiting for us. His request is that we should make some reduction in our charges.’ interest at 5 percent. The proprietorship of the Press was in my name though it was called after Brother.’

Painting with brother


Lady Minto,

‘My birthday brings a nasty jar with it, reminding me of advancing years, but the mail dispelled depression, as I received such delightful letters of good wishes from all the family. It gave me the pleasure to know what I was being thought of by loved ones far away. We received a cable last night from Mr. Gamier with the good news of Larry’s complete recovery. It was most thoughtful of him sending it, as I should otherwise have fussed on receiving the details of his accident, which was a very severe one. He was cantering across a stubble field with a friend when his horse must have put his foot into a rabbit hole and fallen with such force that the horse broke its neck and Larry was thrown violently to the ground. He was picked up in an unconscious condition and taken to a neighbouring farm-house, where the owners have been most kind and hospitable in allowing him to remain there. Mr. Gamier sent for the most eminent surgeon in the eastern counties, and I am thankful to say that no ill-effects are anticipated. I am so touched by the kind thought that has been evinced on all sides and so grateful to Lord Albermarle and Mr. Gamier for the care they have taken of Larry. I hope we shall find him entirely restored to health on our return.

Played a round of golf with Colonel Victor in tho early morning before the heat of the day. We are agreeably surprised to find the weather exceptionally cool for November. There has been an unprecedented amount of rain here during the autumn, consequently the Park is greener than I have ever seen it, and trees and shrubs look luxuriantly fresh and healthy. Roily and I went for a short ride in the afternoon before the 6 o’clock service, which we all attended. After dinner we sat out quite late enjoying the perfect temperature and the gorgeous moon which lighted up the whole river, and made the scene about as perfect a one as could be imagined.’

Lady Minto’s Indian diary


Robert Charles Benchley,
writer and actor

’12:27 - GAME CALLED. Nurse (a new one) comes in and asks my name. “Benchley.” Well, Miss Erbstadt just telephoned down & said the baby has just arrived and they are both all right. She said she didn’t know whether it was a boy “or what it was.” I hope not a “what it was.” “Both all right” is more to the point.

12:32 - Another nurse says she thinks she said a boy, but not sure. It ought to be fairly easy to ascertain before long.

12:35 - A Boy! and love from the Wife! Yea! Nurse tried to tell me “twins,” but I was a sly dog and didn’t bite.’

I hope not a ‘what it was’


Mary Thorp,

‘I took a kilo of smuggled butter (12 fs) to Lena [Ford] this afternoon, they hadn’t been able to get any for a long time. I lunched next to the Secretary of the Swedish legatiorn, back from Stockholm, through Berlin, ten days ago. On leaving the station at Berlin, he saw women mending the roads, & pulling down sewer pipes. He was 2 days in Berlin, & could not obtain at his (good) hotel, meat, eggs, milk, butter or sugar. He had to live on fish, rice & potatoes. He says everyone in Sweden believes in our victory.’

In want of a winter coat


Harold Temperley,

‘Jews. The upshot of an inquiry into Bolshevik activities seems to show that many of them are Jewish, that some of them are paid by Germany, that Lenin, though not a Jew, is so paid. But there the matter would seem to stop. The clearest case of anti-Entente Jewish interference is the Rumcherod, and Jewish agents in Roumania, who sought to corrupt Roumanian Jews, soldiers and peasants and outrageously interfered with the rights of Jews.

It is probable that the majority of Jews are anti-Entente mainly on Socialistic grounds perhaps, but certainly also because of previous maltreatment. The Jews is Entente countries, other than Russia & Roumania, have decidedly come out in favour of the Entente. Even in Poland the Jews are now anti-German instead of anti-Russian. Zionism will probably put the finishing touch to the process of winning the Jewish majority.

Italy. We certainly took away our guns from Cadorna with a curtness that was discouraging, when he declined to renew the offensive on the Isonzo. His calculations were wrong but so also were ours.’

All change in the Balkans


Robertson Davies,

‘Worked on Saturday Night piece “Pleasures of Love.” In the evening looked over old MSS of novels and plays and reread diary of Love and Libel a year since: still painful, and it might have succeeded; useless to repine.’

Robertson Davies as diarist


Jane Birkin,
actor and singer

‘Dear Munkey,
The silence is so awful I have to write to someone. If I had done something, at least I would have a thing to be ashamed of, but I have nothing because I love someone; I love Serge more than any living thing, I would not lose him or his love for me for anything but sometimes I feel that he could write me off as a ‘bad lot’ and think no more of me. I don’t think he cares about me, except that I am his, but if I was even TEMPTED to be all that is bad, he would never have to think of me again and he would lie to the next girl. He would say, “La petite Birkin is my fabrication; I can make any number of them and better and younger but they’re nothing without me.”

He said last night that I drank only because he let me drink, that I lived only because he let me live. I’m his “poupée” (“doll”) with my “qualités’ as a poupée but completely re-makable with better material than me. All this is maybe just self-protective for my feelings, but I’m sure if I put one foot astray, he would be incapable of taking me back for me. I would have made my “erreur” and that would be an end to it.

My erreur tonight was being one hour late for dinner because I was honest and told him I was having a drink with C and we’d join him at the restaurant. It was 8 o’clock and I turned up at 9.30. He said he would be there at 9, so I was chronometrically half an hour or so late.

The reason was C. I wanted to talk to him. I’m twenty-seven, nearly twenty-eight. I’m afraid I have put him in a mess in spite of myself. I don’t know what he expects of me. I told him I love Serge, that no one can take away that love, it’s important. I care tor C, I like him, I wanted him to be my friend. It’s unimportant except I have a right to have a friend. He’s never tried to make love to me. He’s interested in me as a person. Why I do certain things, why I am embarrassed about certain things, what makes me not a cardboard poster, because that’s what most people associate me with. I wanted Serge to like him, I wanted him to like Serge the way I do - I’ve gone on and on about him. If only I’d kept my big mouth shut. Its almost like Bobby telling cousin Freda about his love life and expecting her to say “Poor Bobby”. I know that. I can’t say that he’s like a girlfriend. But people are doing far worse things, sneaking and not getting caught. Everyone has been unfaithful but I haven’t. So why should I suffer for what I haven’t done? I don’t want to have a sneaky “amant” (“lover”) like the bourgeois people do. I didn’t knock it off with Trintignant. Why? Serge. I didn’t want to spoil my thing with Serge.

Serge is sleeping peacefully and maybe he’s had affairs but is far too clever to tell me about then. And the strange thing is that I now know I wouldn’t mind as much as I thought. I would still love him, maybe hurt, certainly furious, but not to breaking-up point. I love him too much for that. I can’t imagine having a holiday, having a memory, having my life end with anyone but Sergio. So what does the rest matter? I wouldn’t like to look like a fool over the other girl, but if she was a pute or a thing of the moment, would I really die? I don’t think so. I feel happy. I love Serge, I’ve come into my own, I’m standing on my own feet. I had a drink; maybe I wanted a drink. I wanted to talk; I talked. In ten years I’m finished, no one will love me any more, I’ll be old and “moche” (“ugly”). My problems won’t interest anyone, I will no longer be à la mode. I won’t be twenty-seven, I will be thirty-seven and it’s over. I don’t want to get old. I won’t get old. Well, Serge will be looking at girls of seventeen and if I get jealous he will go “Allez-y ma vieille” (“Go ahead, old girl”) and it will be too late, even to have a drink, even to have a friend, and I will realise that life has gone and I’d be bitter of all the things I could’ve done if only I’d known.

But Serge has been twenty-seven, he’s had fun with what he wanted, with who he wanted, in Paris. I’m not asking that, a weekend to screw all Paris. I don’t like screwing. I just want to be wanted and not feel ashamed and old and responsible. And if after six years being with someone you turn up late - and each to his own, and considering everything I have done - and with a child in tow . . . well, I thought Serge loved me more than that, but sometimes he makes me think because of what he says or doesn’t say that six years is nothing, I’m only an episode in his numerous adventures. He’s allowed to be proud of it, to shout about it, and I’m nothing more than Dalida, or Gréco, or Bardot and I’m certainly much less than his precious wife, because he married her.

Any mistake I make, I’m out and he starts again. Really, I thought love was forever and that I, Jane, was more important as a person with all my faults than anyone else in the world, but I’m not. At least that illusion is gone. “Do you love me?” He says, “Of course, otherwise I would have chucked you out.” After six years and all we’ve been through, that’s all I am to him.’

That’s all I am to him


George Bush,

‘I remember Watergate. I remember the way things oozed out. It is important to be level, to be honest, to be direct. We are not saying anything.’

Poindexter, Reagan and Bush


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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.

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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.