And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

25 November

Abel Janszoon Tasman,
sailor and explorer.

‘In the morning we had a calm; we floated the white flag and pendant from our stern, upon which the officers of the Zeehaan with their steersmen came on board of us; we then convened the Ship’s council and resolved together upon what may in extenso be seen from today’s resolution to which we beg leave to refer. Towards noon the wind turned to the south-east and afterwards to the south-south-east and the south, upon which we made for the shore; at about 5 o’clock in the evening we got near the coast; three miles off shore we sounded in 60 fathom coral bottom; one mile off the coast we had clean, fine, white sand; we found this coast to bear south by east and north by west; it was a level coast, our ship being 42° 30' South Latitude, and average Longitude 163° 50'. We then put off from shore again, the wind turning to the south-south-east with a top-gallant gale. If you came from the west and find your needle to show 4° north-westerly variation you had better look out for land, seeing that the variation is very abruptly decreasing here. If you should happen to be overtaken by rough weather from the westward you had best heave to and not run on. Near the coast here the needle points due north. We took the average of our several longitudes and found this land to be in 163° 50' Longitude.

This land being the first land we have met with in the South Sea and not known to any European nation we have conferred on it the name of Anthoony Van Diemenslandt in honour of the Honourable Governor-General, our illustrious master, who sent us to make this discovery; the islands circumjacent, so far as known to us, we have named after the Honourable Councillors of India, as may be seen from the little chart which has been made of them.’

The discovery of Tasmania


Edward Everett Hale,
priest and writer

‘The President requested “the members of the seminary” to remain after prayers and he then announced that two of the commons waiters had been found insensible, having imprudently slept last night with charcoal in the room. At breakfast some one came from the kitchen to get some of the Davy Club to go down stairs and see the doctors about making oxygen for these men. I went down and they said they wished to try the effect of oxygen. With two or three others I came into the Davy Club room and went to work. I was there most all day, we made as much oxygen as we could, getting the furnace going and using an iron retort. The men were insensible all day.’

I whipped the first boy


Nassau William Senior,
lawyer and economist

‘We started at six this morning for the Pyramids. We left our boat and mounted asses at the dirty town of Geezeh, As the inundation has not sufficiently subsided to enable us to take the direct road, we had to travel along a dike, whose windings made the distance amount to 12 miles instead of 6. On one side of us was a green plain of young crops, on the other side was water, or land, just left by it, and covered with black mud. We saw the process of cultivation: one man was throwing sand upon the mud; another, with a flat piece of wood at the end of a pole, was beating it down into the mud, and so mixing it with the soil: as far as the inundation extends this supplies the place of sowing, ploughing and harrowing.

About a mile from the end of the inundation the dike had given way, and the water was flowing in two or three black-looking streams. Forty or fifty half-naked men collected round us, hoisted us, two to each person, by putting their arms round our legs, carried us over, and, what was more difficult, pushed and pulled over our asses.

After a ride of two hours and a half we reached the sandy slope, about a mile within the desert, leading to the rocky plateau on which the Pyramids stand, that of Cheops, the largest, being nearest to the Nile. We had brought no lights with us, and the Bedouins, who had collected on our arrival, had only about an inch of taper. We were unable, therefore, to enter. Some of the party, each assisted by two Bedouins, scrambled to the top. I was not one of them. The day was hot and hazy, and I was not inclined to take half an hour’s violent exercise in the sun, to be rewarded by a prospect much inferior to that from the terrace of the Citadel.

The Pyramids do not gain by a near approach. Seen from Cairo, or even from the distance of a mile or two, their noble proportions appear; when you are under them, they look like fantastically formed rocky hills.’

Senior’s conversations


Christian Gottlieb Ferdinand Ritter von Hochstetter,

‘At 6 o’clock in the evening a dinner was given in the German Club by a number of Germans in honour of the presence of an Imperial Austrian warship. The great dining-room was very elegant and decorated in keeping with the occasion. Perhaps about 40 persons took their seats. The customary toasts concluded proceedings: - the Queen! - The Emperor of Austria! - the members of the Austrian Imperial family! To which the Commodore responded with a toast to Prince Albert. Then: - to the Commodore and the officers of the Novara - responded to by the Commodore with a very pretty toast - to the Germans in Australia, responded to - German Science! - to which I replied with a toast to the unity, might and greatness of our common Fatherland - in which I endeavoured to stress that in recent years no German state had, by fusing material and national economic interests, contributed so much to German unity as the new regenerated Austria! Dr. Hochstetter spoke a few very moving words in memory of Leichhardt [a Prussian explorer who had disappeared earlier that year while in northern Australia, and whose expedition inspired Patrick White’s novel Voss], whereupon all those present rose in silence from their seats. This was followed by toasts to Alexander von Humboldt, Sir William Denison, etc. The festivities closed at 11 p.m.’

The father of NZ geology


Hugo Ball,

‘Each word is a wish or a curse. One must be careful not to make words once one has acknowledged the power of the living word.

The artist’s secret lies in fear and awe. Our times have turned them into terror and dismay.

People who live rashly and precipitately easily lose control over their impressions and are prey to unconscious emotions and motives. The activity of any art (painting, writing, composing) will do them good, provided that they do not pursue any purpose in their subjects, but follow the course of a free, unfettered imagination. The independent process of fantasy never fails to bring to light again those things that have crossed the threshold of consciousness without analysis. In an age like ours, when people are assaulted daily by the most monstrous things without being able to keep account of their impressions, in such an age aesthetic production becomes a prescribed course. But all living art will be irrational, primitive, and complex; it will speak a secret language and leave behind documents not of edification but of paradox.’

A wish or a curse


Edward Weston,

‘I said to Tina, having noted several interesting items in a downtown bookstore, “Let us go on a book-hunting expedition, I am hungry for a new thrill.” We were successful in acquiring a number of additions to our library, mostly books reproducing the work of contemporary painters. Ferat, Grosz, Dérain, and a volume on African sculpture - what splendid things! - and how fine is Derain!

Now my orders are printed and the stage set for more sittings. It will take many orders to pay the expenses of our return trip.’

Lost behind my camera


Henry L Stimson,

‘Then at 12 o’clock we went to the White House, where we were until nearly half past one. At the meeting were Hull, Knox, Marshall, Stark and myself. There the President [. . .] brought up entirely the relations with the Japanese. He brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked perhaps next Monday, for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was what should we do. The question was how much we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.’

Pearl Harbour diaries


Jack Kerouac,

‘Went to movies in N.Y. with Ma - Stan Kenton, French picture, etc. She wore her best clothes and how I love my mother, my sweet, dear little mother. . . a person like all the other treats I happen to know so accidentally. What thoughts I’ve been having since that binge, from whiskey-sickness which always induces visions. My mother is just “it.” I brood over her with such delight. I think Hal Chase is crazy for mistrusting me . . . I hope Hal comes back to me I love people. I know now how geekish we all feel. I am not worth kissing anybody’s feet, not even that so poseful. Why don’t we all die? Why do we live with such pain of living? Why do I feel pain when I think of Marian, or Lucien, or Burroughs? - a pain that is just “it.” Everything is “it.” It’s got it. We’ll know when . . . When I think of them all, and hateful me in the middle (reason, see, so hateful.) What a big hole in the world! And in that hole, that amputation, there it is . . . why we don’t die. “She will not put motion at rest (that I dislike (or dislove) her) (Marian) until she see you again.” How avid we are! How can I hate anyone as much as I hate myself? - therefore, we all love each other don’t we.

It's not true that you must love yourself to love others, as Ann Brabham said. You must hate yourself with that pain, then you cross the shadow-bridges to the other side of eternity, where their avid faces twitch, pale, gone, gone . . . Above I said “I love people.” What an asinine thing to say. That was self-love. I have no right to be loved, haven’t I? It’s all somewhere around here and it’s the reason why we don't die. For we know superciliousness does not come from a supercilious source . . . and many other things. I’ve lost all my warm consolations. I sit on the hundred fathoms - everybody please love me.’

The rush of what is said


Anthony Powell,

‘I wrote to Mrs Thatcher expressing regret at her resignation, saying that at one of her dinner parties where I met her she had spoken of Dostoevsky’s The Possessed (in Russian The Devils), i.e. those that entered into the swine, which then rushed over the cliff. This seemed a perfect example of what had happened to her, the swine being her betrayers in the Tory Party.’

Speaking of The Possessed


George Bush,

‘The administration in disarray - foreign policy in disarray - cover-up - who knew what when?’

Poindexter, Reagan and Bush


Tim Dixon,
economist and businessman

‘Sunday morning 7am. A new day. Kevin now PM. What a historic night - the largest swing in over 30 years. No ambiguity about that. Howard destroyed by his own ideology. And swings in northern Queensland of up to 14 per cent - absolutely stunning results. . .

And it remains all a bit surreal, a bit unbelievable. But three years of hard yakka, of enormous effort and suspension of everything else in life - three years of that has paid off. . .’

Working with Kevin


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Why Ever Did I Want to Write is a patchwork of themed stories about one man’s early life, embracing highs and lows but driven by a desire to make the most of being alive, to experience, to feel, and above all to understand. Reminiscent of Karl Knausgaard’s A Death in the Family and Theodore Zeldin’s An Intimate History of Humanity, this memoir, often based on diaries, sees Lyons reflecting on a repressed childhood, exploring the world through years of travelling, and searching for meaning and excitement in the arts and love affairs – an archetype of the counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s.

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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.