And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

21 November

Ananda Ranga Pillai,

‘A remarkable incident which occurred this evening at 5, was the following. The ex-chief of the peons, actuated by jealousy at the appointment of Muttaiya Pillai in his place, instigated one of his men to commit thefts in the town. This individual had long been engaged in the business, and was at last apprehended, four or five months ago. When he was beaten, and pressed in other ways, he made a clean breast of the whole affair, from the very beginning, and mentioned the names of all the persons who had either seen his acts or heard of them, or who had either concealed the goods stolen by him, or harboured him.

These abettors, who were about fifteen or sixteen in number, were thrown into prison with him. The Council having heard their statements, discharged them all, with the exception of the thief, and five of the abettors, who were found to be seriously implicated. . . The offenders received the following punishments, under an order of Council. The thief was publicly hanged; a punishment which was carried out at 5 in the evening at the centre of the town in the bazaar-road, opposite to the court-house, on a gallows which had been temporarily erected there for the purpose; [. . .]

Of the remaining five criminals, Odavi [. . .] and the goldsmith were each awarded fifty stripes, their ears were cut off, and they were expelled beyond the bounds of Pondichery. The other three [. . .] were ordered to stand in a line and were whipped; each receiving twenty-five lashes. On two or three further charges, the punishment of whipping will again be inflicted on them, and they will then be released.’

18th century India


John Newton,
sailor and priest

‘As it has pleased God already to raise me above dependence, and to give me more than I could have presumed to ask, not only food and raiment, but a great variety of conveniences and comforts, insomuch that I number myself amongst the most happy on earth, I cannot but think it incumbent upon me to bestow a part of my superfluities towards relieving those who are struggling under a want of necessaries. I have not come to a full determination of the quota I intend to set apart for this purpose. I will guard against being too sparing, leaving myself, however, at liberty to suspend or leave it on such an unavoidable emergency as my conscience shall allow, and, on the other hand, looking upon it to be my duty to enlarge it, if Providence sees fit to bless me beyond my present expectations; for I cannot think I have a right to gratify myself in mere indulgences any further than as I shall purchase it by charitable actions and imparting occasionally to those who have need.’

The extraordinary Mr Newton


Roger Casement,

‘Arr. Nazareth at 10 and after some hours there up to Marius Levy’s where shipped 65 cases rubber (101⁄2 tons weight) . . . Back to Nazareth - young Italian, stout but very nice face, huge stern, thighs and immense big one, long, thick, soft, he fingered often and one could see it hanging down 6” or 7” inches long - through very thick trousers too. Left Nazareth at 5 with “Le Journal” from Belém. Up to 5 Oct. giving Italy-Turkey war and strike in Ireland. At union and mouth of Javari at 9.30 and on to Leticia.’

Casement’s black reputation


Tommy Lascelles,
civil servant and courtier

‘ ‘W N P Barbellion’ is dead. This must be a shock to many reviewers, who, when The Journal of a Disappointed Man appeared, with a preface by H G Wells, said, ‘You can’t deceive us. Wells wrote this book himself’. But it seems you can, for a man called Bruce Cummings wrote it, and, as I say, he’s dead, at the age of 30.’

Sports of the people


Albert Einstein,

‘Chrysanthemum festival at the imperial palace garden. Great difficulty in procuring a fitting frock coat along with top hat. The former from unknown donor via Mr. Barwald, who brought it personally; the latter from Mr. Yamamoto; far too small, so I had to carry it around in my hand the whole afternoon. We were with the foreign diplomats, who were arranged in a semicircle. Picked up and accompanied by the German embassy. Jap[anese] empress stepped around the inside of the semicircle and spoke a few words with husbands and wives from the embassies, with me a few kind words in French. Then refreshments in the garden at tables, where I was introduced to infinitely many people. Garden marvelous, artificial hills, water, picturesque autumn foliage. Chrysanthemums in booths properly lined up like soldiers. The hanging chrysanthemums are the most beautiful. In the evening, cozy evening at the Berliners’ charming japanese home. He, an intelligent political economist, she, a gracious, intelligent woman, true native of Berlin. Lazing about under such conditions is more tiring than working, but the Inagakis help us with touching solicitude.’

Einstein’s wonderful day


Edward Weston,

‘To Fronton - Juego de Pelota - with Pepe, Chandler and Tina. “You may find it more thrilling than ‘los toros’,” said Pepe. I did not, though it was exciting, to be sure - a game to make, by contrast, our tennis and baseball appear quite tame. The Latins evolve sports that are spectacular, sensational, dangerous, and always elegant. Every second of the play was scintillating; one fairly gasped as the pelota shot through the air like a bullet while the players executed most miraculous passes, involving dramatically tense and beautiful postures.

Preceding our departure for Fronton, a surprise was afforded us by the arrival of Chariot, Nahui Olin, Federico, Anita and several bottles of wine. They had come to celebrate! And this is why - at the recent exhibit in the Palacio de Mineria, I was awarded first prize for photographs (one hundred and fifty pesos)! Quite unbelievable. I shall await undue enthusiasm until the money is collected. The honor of winning amounts to nothing: we had no real competition. Diego Rivera was on the jury, who else I know not.’

Lost behind my camera


James Evershed Agate,

‘Driving back from lunch to-day had an attack of nerves. At Oxford Circus was on my deathbed, going up Great Portland Street was dead and buried, along Albany Street calculated estate available after insurances raked in, horses sold and debts paid, passing Stanhope Terrace made my will, ascended Primrose Hill and descended to the Everlasting Bonfire simultaneously, and as we turned into England’s Lane was critically considering Jock’s first article as my successor on the S.T.

All this turned out, of course, to be merely what Doctor Rutty, the Irish Quaker, called “an hypochondriack obnubilation from wind and indigestion.” ’

Not careless jottings


Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogorov,

’Finally, on the way home from Dimetrusya I resolved my some rather naive puzzle on what distinguishes characters from positive-definite functions (and why characters are generally positive-definite yesterday I discovered that I had not understood that before!).

Let G = {g} be represented by operators Ug (unitary) in E’. [ . . .] What remains now is to find out what representation is induced by x (g): for instance, is it always a representation in Er2? My definition of a character seems to work for all locally bicompact groups. However, Gelfand mentioned that, generally speaking, there was no analogue of characters as positive-definite functions. [. . . ]’

Tasks to do now


Harold Nicolson,
politician and writer

‘I reach the age of sixty. I talk at Chatham House on ‘Peacemaking, 1919 and 1946’. It goes very well. There are many questions - all sensible. I then return to the Travellers and have a drink with Victor Cunard and Moley Sargent. I come back with Victor, who has taken a house immediately opposite this bloody tenement.

I return across the road, conscious of my sixty years. Until about five years ago I detected no decline at all in physical vigour and felt as young as I did at thirty. In the last five years, however, I am conscious that my physical powers are on the decline. I am getting slightly deaf. Intellectually I observe no decline: I can write with the same facility, which is perhaps a fault. I do not notice that my curiosity, my interests or my powers of enjoyment and amusement have declined at all. What is sad about becoming sixty is that one loses all sense of adventure. It is unlikely now that the impossible will happen. I am very well aware, moreover, that I have not achieved either in the literary or the political world that status which my talents and hard work might seem to justify. In literature, the explanation is simple: although hard-working, I am not intelligent enough to write better than I do. In politics, it has been due partly to lack of push and even of courage, and partly to a combination of unfortunate events (Mosley, National Labour, my being identified with the Ministry of Information at a bad time, and so on). There was a moment in 1938 when it looked as if I had a political future, but that moment passed. I failed to seize it.

Now how much do I mind all this? I have no desire for office or power in any sense. I know quite honestly that if I were offered the Embassy in Paris or Rome, I should hesitate to accept, not only because Viti would hate it, but because I have no wish to be prominent and grand. But of course I am disappointed by my literary ill-success. Nor do I quite relish the idea that my reputation rests not so much upon my political or literary work, as upon my journalistic and broadcasting work. I regret all this quite faintly. I see, on the other hand, a long life behind me, dashed with sunshine and gay with every colour. And to have three people in my life such as Viti and Ben and Nigel is something greater than all material success. For if happiness is in fact the aim of life, then assuredly I have had forty years of happiness, from the day when as a little boy I walked down to the station at Wellington College with a surge of freedom in my heart. Since that hour of liberation I have had a wonderful succession of delights and interests. For which I thank my destiny.’

For one’s great-grandson


Alan Clark,

‘I was greeted with the news that there had been an announcement. “I fight, and I fight to win.” God alive! [. . .]

I passed her outer door and said to Peter that I must have a minute or so. He looked anxious, almost rattled, which he never does normally. [. . .]

I went down the stairs and rejoined the group outside her door. After a bit Peter said, “I can just fit you in now - but only for a split second, mind.”
She looked calm, almost beautiful. “Ah, Alan . . .”
“You’re in a jam.”
“I know that.”
“They’re telling you not to stand, aren’t they?”
“I’m going to stand. I have issued a statement.”
“That’s wonderful. That’s heroic. But the Party will let you down.”
“I am a fighter.”
“Fight, then. Fight right to the end, a third ballot if you need to. But you lose.”
There was quite a little pause.
“It’d be so terrible if Michael won. He would undo everything I have fought for.”
“But what a way to go! Unbeaten in three elections, never rejected by the people. Brought down by nonentities!”
“But Michael . . . as Prime Minister.”
“Who the fuck’s Michael? No one. Nothing. He won’t last six months. I doubt if he’d even win the Election. Your place in history is towering. . . ‘

Outside, people were doing that maddening trick of opening and shutting the door, at shorter and shorter intervals.

“Alan, it’s been so good of you to come in and see me . . .”

Afterwards I felt empty. And cross. I had failed, but I didn’t really know what I wanted, except for her still to be Prime Minister, and it wasn’t going to work out.’

Thatcher gives a cuddle


Paul K. Lyons,

‘A terrible fire has consumed a third of Windsor Castle. It started in the Queen’s private chapel and raged for 10-12 hours. Hundreds of firemen worked to stop it but huge flames poured out of the building for most of yesterday. The media has reported variable facts about the castle such as that it contains the world’s most important private collection of art, that it is the most continuously lived in castle in the world, that with Westminster Abbey it is the most important building in the country.’

The Queen and I


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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.