And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

1 October

Nehemiah Wallington,

‘One the first day of October 1628 at night as I lay in my bead with my wife and my daughter Sarah a candel hanging over my head in a wier candelsteke about one a cloke at night the candel burnt downe and fell through the wiers and fell uppon my head and burnt the haire of my head: wee then being all fast asleepe[.] I feeling my heade burne that it smart I started up and put it out, and did consider of the great goodnes of my God which never slumbers nor sleepes in the presarving mee and mine so wonderfully from fier: For it might a fell uppon my poore child or one my wifes head or beetwene the sheetes or boulster and have burnt mee and mine and all that I have: and many others. But God of wanted goodnes and great mercye delivered us his Name be for ever praised for this and all other his manifould deliverances now and evermore Amen Amen[.]’

My filthy polluted heart


Hester Thrale,
writer and philanthropist

‘We have driven about the Town ever since 11 or 10 o’Clock & I have stolen half an hour for my Journal & general Observations. Nothing can be truer than what Baretti says, that the Extremes of Magnificence & Meanness meet at Paris: Extremes of every sort are likewise perpetually meeting. Yesterday I was shewn a Femme Publique dress’d out in a Theatrical Manner for the Purpose of attracting the Men with a Crucifix on her Bosom; & today I walked among the beautiful statues of Tuilleres, a Place which for Magnificence most resembles the Pictures of Solomon’s Temple, where the Gravel is loose like the Beach at Brighthelmstone, the Water in the Basin Royale cover’d with Duck Weed, & some wooden Netting in the Taste of our low Junketting Houses at Islington dropping to Pieces with Rottenness & Age.’

Hester Thrale in France


Maria Nugent,
wife of soldier

‘My dear N.’s mind is most cruelly harassed, by the idea of the numberless sick, coming almost every moment from Walcheren, and almost the impossibility of making them at all comfortable.’

Walcheren Fever


Augusta, duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

‘I must somehow have caught a chill on my drive back from Ebersdorf, and feel very unwell. I have such pains in my limbs, that I am afraid I must be feverish.’

Amply rewarded


Philip Hone,
businessman and politician

‘Mr. Alexander Duncan, who arrived this morning from Liverpool, is one of the most extraordinary instances of good fortune, so far as money is concerned, that has occurred in this country. In the winter of 1821-22 he was a fellow-passenger of mine on a voyage from Liverpool, in the ship “Amity,” Captain Maxwell. He was then seventeen years of age; a rough, awkward, shaggy-headed Scotch boy, on a voyage to see his relation, the respected John Grieg, of Canandaigua, and to try his fortune in the new “land of cakes.” There were only three of us in the cabin, Mrs. Pritchard, an English lady, being the third. We had a long, stormy passage, and I, of course, became intimate with the young Scotchman; and, unpolished as he was, I took a great liking to him. He was bright, intelligent, and of good principles, and a friendship was formed which continues until the present time.

Young Duncan, after a few weeks with his uncle at Canandaigua, went to Providence, Rhode Island, to finish his education; entered as a sophomore in the college, and improved his time so well, that by the time he graduated he had engaged the affections of a young lady, whom he married, relinquishing one baccalaureate as he assumed another. Mrs. Duncan had two rich uncles, named Butler, immensely rich, and increasing in wealth every day; for they laid up prodigiously and spent nothing, - a method which, they say, accumulates amazingly. One of these worthies died a few years after the niece’s marriage, and made her heiress to all his property. This induced Duncan and his wife to remove to Providence, where they have resided ever since. My fellow-passenger in the “Amity” bids fair to become one of the richest men in tangible productive property in the United States. And the best of all is, that he is a liberal, generous man, who will make a good use of his money; unless, like many others, his immense riches shall make him penurious, as was the case with the person from whom he inherits this mountain of wealth.’

A jewel beyond price


James Hannington,

‘During the past nine months I have travelled 9,292 miles, or thereabouts. I have preached during the same time one hundred and eleven times, and spoken at one hundred and eighty-seven meetings, besides being present at thirty-four others.’

The bishop in Buganda


Billy Congreve,

‘What might have been a rather serious accident took place yesterday afternoon. The Norwegian minister in Paris got leave from GHQ to come over here and to be shown round. Instead of coming to us to ask his way, he must needs go off on his own, apparently thinking that he could drive his car right up to the trenches. He went up through Brenelle to carry out this plan and set off across the plateau towards the river. He was half-way over when the Germans spotted the car and opened on it with ‘crumps’.

The first shell made the chauffeur pull up! They began to try to turn the car, and that was as far as they got, for ‘crumps’ began to arrive in quantities and they fled to the shelter of some neighbouring haystacks, leaving the car to its fate. They saw the chauffeur get hit as he was getting out of the car; whether he was killed or not they did not know. Eventually and with great good fortune they got back to General Wing’s HQ unhurt, but covered with mud and dust and bits of haystack. The Royal Artillery sent them on down here and the Duke of Marlborough (who is doing King’s Messenger) happening to be with us, took them back in his car.

The minister, a fat middle-aged gentleman, was awfully pleased with himself, but was scared lest it should get into the papers, in which case the Germans would say that Norway had broken her neutrality! We calmed his fears, picked straw and mud out of his hair, and sent him off to GHQ with his two ADC’s and the Duke, after we had given them tea.

I then took a car and two chauffeurs up to see what I could do to their car, expecting to find it smashed to pieces. We waited till dusk and then walked out to it. The car was intact, but the chauffeur dead, and every piece of glass in the car was smashed to atoms - big, strong plate glass. It was a lovely brand-new Panhard limousine, and beyond the glass, a few bits off the paint and a small hole in the petrol tank, there was no great damage which, considering the number of ‘crump’ holes around it, was a marvel. Inside the car was a good mixture of glass and mud which we cleared out and, while the hole in the tank was being mended, I finished off the old boy’s luncheon basket - chicken there was, and great fat pears, also a huge supply of cigarettes and tobacco for the men in the trenches! There were also heaps of matches. Before he left, the ‘minister’ said that I might keep all this ‘pour les braves soldats’, so I did so, and sent the car on to GHQ under the second chauffeur, who shed tears.’

Hammy is dead


Sergei Prokofiev,

‘Today is the contractual deadline for the score of Three Oranges, and I finished the last page at exactly two o’clock in the afternoon. “Terribly chic,” as Max Schmidthof would have said. Quite true; it was calculated to a nicety.’

Finishing Three Oranges


George Allardice Riddell,

‘Long talk with Kitchener, who said that LG’s alleged statement as to the number of troops in France was inaccurate and that what LG had really said was that the number of troops ‘overseas’ amounted to thirty-six divisions. I referred to the speech, in which the words were ‘over there’. K said, ‘Well, if he said that he was wrong, and the speech must be put right in Hansard.’ He asked Brade to see that this done.

K commented upon what he called ‘Newspaper embroidery’ and complained of the criticisms as to the inconsistencies between his statements and those of the PM as to the efficiency of our output of munitions of war. He asked my opinion. I replied that they seemed inconsistent and that this was the general opinion. K said, ‘The Times has been the most virulent critic, I am told, but I never read it.’ He asked me to look up the speeches, which I did subsequently, and wrote to him setting out the two passages. He said that Northcliffe was acting very badly and that it was difficult to know how to deal with him.’

Riddell and Lloyd George


Ulrich von Hassell,

‘One of the few certainties today is the overwhelming and tremendous relief of the whole nation, or rather of all nations, that war has been averted, although Germans, or I suppose the great majority of them, have no idea how close they came to war. In Berlin, London, Paris and Rome the four returning matadors were all received by their peoples as ‘peacemakers’ with the same stormy enthusiasm. Hitler’s brutal policies have brought him a great material success while the French have reason to feel ashamed before the Czechs.

The day before yesterday we went from Wittenmoor with Udo Alvensleben to the residence of the old Princess Bismarck. She and Schoenhausen great but almost tragic impression. She thought her father-in-law no longer counted, that in fact his stature was systematically played down. This latter is true, and in view of the spirit of our rulers and the successful Anschluss policy, very logical. I told the Princess from conviction that Bismarck would withstand this storm victoriously. In the beginning she had been impressed by Hitler, but today thinks of him and his methods just about as Popitz does. R. Kassner the philosopher was also present - a gifted man, filled with the deepest bitterness by the cultural devastation wrought by the Third Reich. Even today I do not feel like an ally of the intelligentsia but see it as a false front that all people who can think for themselves are being pressured into this alliance. I share Princess Bismarck’s belief that a system employing such treacherous and brutal methods cannot achieve good ends, but I cannot follow her when she draws the conclusion (as do General Beck and a thousand others) that therefore the regime will soon collapse. There is not yet sufficient reason to think so.

Yesterday afternoon on my way home I stopped with Alvensleben in wonderful Neugattersleben. Werner Alvensleben came too. He is the famous ‘Herr von A’, of 30 June, who has meanwhile been released from prison and banished to a hunting lodge in Pomerania. He is a somewhat mysterious man, more conspirator and adventurer than politician. It is interesting that he was with Hammerstein (the general), who told him that Minister of Finance Schwerin-Krosigk had looked him up (or happened to meet him?) fresh from an audience with Hitler on Wednesday afternoon, 28 September, and reported as follows: Krosigk, with Neurath and Goring, had gone to Hitler to persuade him of the utter impossibility of fighting the war on which he seemed bent. Krosigk emphasized that financially the game was up, and that in any case we could not hold out during a war. Hitler apparently resisted these arguments until Mussolini’s historic telephone call forced him to give in.’

Astounding indifference


Nella Last,

‘Feel better for my lazy restful day and must take more rest. Now that I’m going down to the W.V.S. Centre on Mondays as well as Thursdays and Tuesday afternoons. I’ll plan my days out carefully. Easily prepared lunches, cooked the night before - so that I can make a nice lunch and lay the table for tea and be away in one and a half hours.’

Carrying their gas masks


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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.