And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

22 October

François de Bassompierre,

‘Thursday, 22d. I was in the morning to see the ambassador of Danemark. The duke, with the Earls of Carlile and Holland and Montaigne, came to dine with me; I saw, en passant, the ambassador of the States on business, then I was to the queen’s, and that evening at Madame D’Estranges.’

Bassompierre in London


Jonathan Swift,

‘I dined in the City to-day with Dr. Freind, at one of my printers: I inquired for Leigh, but could not find him: I have forgot what sort of apron you want. I must rout among your letters, a needle in a bottle of hay. I gave Sterne directions, but where to find him Lord knows. I have bespoken the spectacles; got a set of Examiners, and five pamphlets, which I have either written or contributed to, except the best, which is the vindication of the Duke of Marlborough, and is entirely of the author of the Atalantis. I have settled Dingley’s affair with Tooke, who has undertaken it, and understands it. I have bespoken a Miscellany: what would you have me do more? It cost me a shilling coming home; it rains terribly, and did so in the morning. Lord Treasurer has had an ill day, in much pain. He writes and does business in his chamber now he is ill: the man is bewitched: he desires to see me, and I’ll maul him, but he will not value it a rush. I am half weary of them all. I often burst out into these thoughts, and will certainly steal away as soon as I decently can. I have many friends, and many enemies; and the last are more constant in their nature. I have no shuddering at all to think of retiring to my old circumstances, if you can be easy; but I will always live in Ireland as I did the last time; I will not hunt for dinners there, nor converse with more than a very few.’

Live ten times happier


Ezra Stiles,

‘This day I finished reading the Old Testament in the Original Hebrew, which I began to read in Course near three years ago, or Janry 30, 1768. I have all along compared the English & hebrew together, and am able from my own knowledge to say, that the English Translation now in use is an excellent & very just Translation & needs very few corrections. And was it again to be translated I cannot expect it would be better done. I have cursorily examined the late Quaker Translation, which is by no means equal to that in use; which was really made by Tindall: For tho’ his Transl was burnt, yet I have seen one of Tindall’s copies preserved in the Easton Family on Rhode Isld; & have compared the Great Bishops Bible, & find that that & K. James in use, are truly but Revisions of Tyndall. I do not wish to see another English Transl, till the English Dialect of the two last Ages shall have become obsolete & untilligible to posterity. But this will not be till English America is fully settled from the Atlantic to Mississippi, When the English of the present Idiom may be spoken by One hundred Million, all of whom may be able to read the Scriptures in Tyndall’s Translation.

Probably the English will become the vernacular Tongue of more people than anyone Tongue ever was on Earth, except the Chinese, who are above one Quarter of the human Race, being seventy Million fencible Men, implying above Two Hundred & Fifty Million souls.

This day fifteen years ago I was ordained, by my Father, Mr. Torrey, & Mr. Burt. Thro' the Patience of Gd. I am still continued an unworthy Pastor under the great Head of the Church.

I am the third Minister in the second Congregational Chh in Newport Rhd. Isld, which was gathered above 42 years ago or Apr. 11, 1728, when Rev. Jn° Adams was ord. Pastor, to whom Rev. James Searing’ succeeded, to whom I succeeded.’

Great grief and distress


Marianne Fortescue,

‘Bangor. Here we arrived at eight o’clock in the eve’g. got very safely over the ferry & eat our dinner & all are well. We intend sleeping here.’

The Fortescues go to Bath


George Cockburn,
sailor and politician

‘Since General Buonaparte’s arrival at St Helena I have been so occupied that I have seen but little of him. I went with him, however, one day to Longwood, and he seemed tolerably satisfied with it, though with his attendants he has since been complaining a good deal; and having stated to me that he could not bear the crowds which gathered to see him in the town, he has, at his own request been permitted to take up his residence (until Longwood should be completed) at a small house called the Briars, where there is a pretty good garden, and a tolerably large room, detached from the house, of which he has taken possession, and in which and the garden he remains almost all day; but in the evenings I understand he has regularly invited himself to join the family party in the house, where he plays at whist with the ladies of the family for sugar-plums until his usual hour of retiring for the night.’

Napoleon plays whist


Evelyn Waugh,

‘I had my hair cut and met Martin Wilson. He seems to bear no malice for Decline and Fall. From there to the exhibition of Maillols. The sculpture magnificent but the wood engravings not particularly meritorious. Alathea lunched with me at Taglioni’s, very lovely and vague, with an air of just waking up after an uneasy night. Extraordinarily ingenuous with a fluttery eagerness to skate and go to the theatre and see the latest pictures. After luncheon to my tailor’s to try on a check suit.’

Waugh’s appalling diaries


Marie Belloc Lowndes,

‘I have read Curtis Brown’s book Contacts. I was deeply interested in his account of Shaw. Every word he said was true as to Shaw’s odd ways with regard to contracts. Philip Sassoon asked Shaw’s advice about his contract with Heinemann - Shaw wrote him a long amusing letter and also pulled the contract to pieces.

I was, however, surprised to note that Curtis Brown claims to have made the arrangements concerning Mr Asquith’s War book. He may have done this with regard to foreign American rights, etc. He did not do so with regard to the English rights, for I heard at the time from the man concerned, that a representative of the publishers went down to see the Asquiths about something concerning one of Margot’s books.

After they had had their talk, the publisher put down on the table a cheque for two thousand pounds made out to Asquith. Asquith took it up and said, “What’s this?” The man said, “This is a fifth part of what we are willing to pay if you write your War memoirs”. It was well-known that Asquith had said he would never write his Memoirs in any shape or form.

Asquith walked across to the window - a French window leading into a garden at the other end of which stood the large barn where Margot worked. He waited there for an appreciable time, then he turned round and said “I’ll do it”. Taking up the cheque he observed “This bait has caught the fish”.

He had never kept a diary, and it was his custom to destroy all the letters he received. He was, however, a great letter-writer. There were at least ten women to whom he wrote quite often. When faced with the necessity of writing the book, he wrote to all these ladies and asked them to return his letters. They all refused, with the exception of Mrs Harrisson. She at once did what he asked, and that is the explanation of his having left her £2,000. But for her he could never have written the book.

It was with great regret that I read Asquith’s letters to Mrs Harrisson when she decided to publish them. My regret was owing to the fact that they gave an entirely false impression of the writer. Asquith had an enormous following among Nonconformists. They regarded him as a stern man of God, a Cromwell, who by some freak of circumstance had married Margot Tennant of whom they knew very little, and of the little they knew they disapproved. To all these people, the publication of what appeared to be a series of love letters came as a fearful shock. To the people who knew Asquith, the letters meant less than nothing because they were all well aware that all through his life - even before his first wife’s death, he had always had these affectionate friendships with women.

After the Harrisson letters came out, Margot was terribly distressed at the effect they produced. I had a talk with her about it and I entirely agreed with her that there were several women who could have produced letters of exactly the same kind, many of these ladies being well-known women who certainly were not in love with Asquith nor he with them. He always began a letter to any woman who could in any way be described as attractive with ‘darling’ or ‘dearest’. In a way this was strange, because he did not fling about those terms in everyday life.

One woman known to me still has an Italian marriage-chest full of letters from him. She is a highly intelligent woman; the letters to her are really worth printing for he wrote with great freedom on all political and literary subjects.

When Mrs Harrisson lent Asquith the letters for the purpose of his memoirs, after making notes, he began tearing them up. Margot stopped him, exclaiming: “Don’t do that! She probably values your letters very much”. If this story is true, how very much she must have regretted having stopped him in his work of destruction. The person to get all the criticism was the editor Desmond MacCarthy. I do not feel he was to blame, owing to the simple fact that he was so close a friend both of Asquith and of Margot that what amazed and shocked those who did not know them, made no impression on MacCarthy at all.’

A plot mind is curiously rare


Lee Harvey Oswald,

‘Hospital I am in a small room with about 12 others (sick persons.) 2 ordalies and a nurse the room is very drab as well as the breakfast. Only after prolonged (2 hours) observation of the other pat. do I relize I am in the Insanity ward. This relizatinn disqits me. Later in afternoon I am visited by Rimma, she comes in with two doctors, as interr she must ask me medical question; Did you know what you were doing? Ans. yes Did you blackout? No. ect. I than comp. about poor food the doctors laugh app. this is a good sign Later they leave, I am alone with Rimma (amognst the mentaly ill) she encourgest me and scolds me she says she will help me me get trasfered to another section of Hos. (not for insane) where food is good.’

JFK’s assassin in Moscow


Richard Crossman,

‘I was appointed Minister of Housing on Saturday, October 17th, 1964. Now it is only the 22nd but, oh dear, it seems a long, long time. It also seems as though I had really transferred myself completely to this new life as a Cabinet Minister. In a way it’s just the same as I had expected and predicted. The room in which I sit is the same in which I saw Nye Bevan for almost the first time when he was Minister of Health, and already I realize the tremendous effort it requires not to be taken over by the Civil Service. My Minister’s room is like a padded cell, and in certain ways I am like a person who is suddenly certified a lunatic and put safely into this great, vast room, cut off from real life and surrounded by male and female trained nurses and attendants. When I am in a good mood they occasionally allow an ordinary human being to come and visit me; but they make sure that I behave right, and that the other person behaves right; and they know how to handle me. Of course, they don’t behave quite like nurses because the Civil Service is profoundly deferential - ‘Yes, Minister! No, Minister! If you wish it. Minister!’ - and combined with this there is a constant preoccupation to ensure that the Minister does what is correct. The Private Secretary’s job is to make sure that when the Minister comes into Whitehall he doesn’t let the side or himself down and behaves in accordance with the requirements of the institution.’

My room is like a padded cell


Waguih Ghali,

‘As I said, the Diary does depress me. Have worked well the last three days on the novel. It is my salvation. I am slowly entering my cocoon, and when I am in it, I am alright. I’ve discovered an isolated pub, which is becoming my local. One or two beers now and then, all alone, dreading any of my acquaintances finding the pub [. . .] But the novel [unfinished at the time of his death] is my salvation.’

Death in my heart


Paul K. Lyons,

‘The Queen was in hospital Wednesday afternoon (at least she didn’t have to wait many hours in an A&E queue - Cornwall apparently has only one emergency A&E and it declared a ‘critical incident’ because of the queues of ambulances waiting with patients). There appears no cause for alarm as she went home the following morning. But it was not many months ago that her husband was hospitalised for a few days, and then died not long after.’

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.