And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

2 October

Edmund Harrold,

‘I obs[erve] that there is a many ways to spend ones time, but ye best and most comfortable way is in reading, praying and working, for ye devills always busie wth ye idle person leading him to lust, drunkenness etc.’

Did wife 2 tymes


Return J. Meigs,

‘In the morning proceeded up the river, and at 10 o’clock arrived at Scohegin Falls, where is a carrying-place of 250 paces, which lies across a small island in the river. Here I waited for my division to come up, and encamped on the west side the river, opposite the island, with Captain Goodrich. It rained in the night. I turned out, and put on my clothes, and lay down again, and slept well till morning. Our course in general, from the mouth of the river to this place, has been from north to northeast.’

Battle of Quebec


Helena Modjeska,

‘Sheffield. In the afternoon we walked a long time in the country. Coming back, we met the procession of the Salvation Army. Their ministers call themselves Generals, and, as I hear, are doing a great deal of good, converting drunkards to soberness and commending pure life among the poor classes.

Singing hymns, beating a drum, and playing tambourines, they march among hostile elements, for they are not liked here. We even witnessed a row; an old woman struck with her soiled broom the officer’s face, and a skirmish ensued. The drum was broken, the banner tom to pieces; even some women who wanted to join the procession received quite serious blows.

The English are demonstrative when they do not belong to the better classes.’

Pilgrimage to Stratford


Maud Berridge,

‘Still the strong wind and we expect to sight the ‘Farallones’ lighthouse this afternoon. It is so exciting rushing through the water, when every hour brings us nearer our destination. 2 pm, two sails in sight, and land reported from aloft, it is the lighthouse! 2.30 the lighthouse is distinctly visible, getting nearer every moment. A range of forbidding-looking rocks with the lighthouse perched on the highest, 350 feet high.

The Pilot cutter sighted about 3.30. The Pilot was watched with the greatest anxiety and curiosity. A square-built, fresh-coloured man with wide-awake hat, goatee beard and square-toed boots, he has not a superfluous word for anyone, while we were brimful of excitement and would like to ask a hundred questions!

Our voyage to ’Frisco is virtually at an end, we are entering the ‘Golden Gate’ after nightfall, a great disappointment, but I must begin a new book with our introduction to California!’

Rushing through the water


Francis Turner Palgrave,
civil servant and poet

[Dorchester] ‘Walked with Frank through twilight to Winterbourne Came: a pretty little thatched house among trees. I was allowed to go up to the great aged poet in the bedroom which - at eighty-four and with now failing bodily strength - he is not likely to quit. Mr. [William] Barnes had invited me when Frank visited him last Christmas, and truly glad was I, and honoured did I feel, to accomplish it. A very finely cut face, expressive blue eyes, a long white beard, hands fine like a girl’s - all was the absolute ideal of a true poet. Few in our time equal him in variety and novelty of motive: in quantity of true sweet inspiration and musical verse. None have surpassed him in exquisite wholeness and unity of execution. He was dressed in red with white fur of some sort, and a darker red cap: Titian or Tintoret had no nobler, no more high born looking sitter among the doges of Venice. His welcome was equally cordial and simple; and, despite his bodily weakness, the soul, bright and energetic, seemed equally ready for death or for life. He talked of his visit to Tennyson; of his own work, saying he had taken Homer, and him only, as his model in aiming at choosing the one proper epithet when describing: also his love for the old pure English. I shall remember this most interesting half-hour all my life, and my dear Frank, I trust, will remember it many years beyond me.’

Professor of poetry


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky,

‘Probably after my death people will be interested to know what my musical passions and prejudices were, especially since I rarely expressed these in conversation.

I shall make a small start now and eventually, when I get to those composers who lived at the same time as me, I will also discuss their personalities.

I’ll start with Beethoven, whom it is customary to praise unconditionally - indeed, one is supposed to cringe before him as before God. And so, what does Beethoven mean to me?

I bow before the greatness of some of his works, but I do not love Beethoven. My attitude towards him reminds me of how I felt as a child with regard to God, Lord of Sabaoth. I felt (and even now my feelings have not changed) a sense of amazement before Him, but at the same time also fear. He created heaven and earth, just as He created me, but still, even though I cringe before Him, there is no love. Christ, on the contrary, awakens precisely and exclusively feelings of love. Yes, He was God, but at the same time a man. He suffered like us. We are sorry for Him, we love in Him His ideal human side. And if Beethoven occupies in my heart a place analogous to God, Lord of Sabaoth, then Mozart I love as a musical Christ. Besides, he lived almost like Christ did. I think there is nothing sacrilegious in such a comparison. Mozart was a being so angelical and child-like in his purity, his music is so full of unattainably divine beauty, that if there is someone whom one can mention with the same breath as Christ, then it is he.

Speaking about Beethoven, I have stumbled across Mozart. It is my profound conviction that Mozart is the highest, the culminating point which beauty has reached in the sphere of music. Nobody has made me cry and thrill with joy, sensing my proximity to something that we call the ideal, in the way that he has.

Beethoven also caused me to shudder. But it was rather out of something akin to fear and painful anguish.’

Tchaikovsky’s poison


Sophia Tolstoy,
wife of writer

‘My sister Tanya has left. A beautiful still bright day. I went out and wandered around the estate. People have planted apple trees, gathered up brushwood, raked the dead leaves and swept them into four piles. We read papers. There were six visitors today - some officers and army doctors and two women. They looked round the drawing room and Lev Nik.’s rooms.’

He was my diary


Karl von Terzaghi,
engineer and geologist

‘I must thank the Creator that I pass the threshold of the 40th year of my life as a mature man who has made his talents unfold and has already realized to a large extent the goals, of which he dreamed in his youth. In this summer I had the feeling of being on top of life. My achievements are beginning to receive the recognition and attention which they deserve. The publications of the total results of my previous research and thinking ensured. And the unnatural relationship with my wife cleared up. On September 14, I arrived in Constantinople. There following two weeks appeared to me like one year as a result of the variety of events. The old love to Olga struggled with the indignation at her behaviour and the indignation succeeded.’

Power of a lion


Arthur C. Clarke,

‘Finished reading Robert Ardrey’s African Genesis. Came across a striking paragraph which might even provide a title for the movie: “Why did not the human line become extinct in the depths of the Pliocene? . . . we know that but for a gift from the stars, but for the accidental collision of ray and gene, intelligence would have perished on some forgotten African field.” True, Ardrey is talking about cosmic-ray mutations, but the phrase “A gift from the stars” is strikingly applicable to our present plot line.’

Dreamed I was a robot


Paul K. Lyons,

‘Tommy has his eyes wide open; his eyeballs roll around and up high as he tries to formulate exactly what he wants to say. George and Bill yawn. A frizzy black student expounds ideas on politics and theatre, and is supported by a hard-nosed, determined kid (from the slums?). They are here to ask for the services of the Demolition Decorators; they have patiently waited their turn on the agenda. I yawn. The Demolition Decorators’ cause for the month. We are to picket shops that sell South African goods. Yes, folks, every small tin of South African pilchards that you buy supports APARTHEID. This is what happened: these people found out their local health food shop was selling South African goods. The shop was informed that it might lose customers in future, but it didn’t listen. So they organised a small picket, and it succeeded almost immediately - all South African goods were removed from the shelves. So, now they want to organise a bigger picket, and they want the DDs to help.’

The Demolition Decorators


Axel Lindén,

‘I got the fence by the cowshed finished and couldn’t help yelling in triumph. Getting it done at last felt fantastic. I hope none of the real farmers heard me. I hope no one heard me. Then again, I hope the ewes heard me. They could do with something to think about. Though they’re doing well enough, just trudging along must get a bit tedious. Imagine if all you had to worry about were your most basic needs. Am I hungry? Thirsty? Am I feeling cold? It’d be enough to drive you crazy. Or leave you feeling completely calm.’

I hope the ewes heard me


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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.