And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

3 October

Patrick Gordon,

‘I was at Preobraschensk, and saw the crocodile, swordfish, and other curiosities, which his Majesty had brought from England and Holland.’

A soldier of fortune


John Rutty,

‘At the school meeting, spoke to the children in a spiritual capacity; but Satan buffeted afterwards, prompting to pride: but light and truth triumphed. Thou art to rejoice in no gift, but this only, that thy name is, or may be, written in the Lamb’s book of life.’

A vicious feast


Thomas Gray,

‘A heavenly day; rose at seven and walked out under the conduct of my landlord to Borrowdale; the grass was covered with a hoarfrost, which soon melted and exhaled in a thin bluish smoke; crossed the meadows, obliquely catching a diversity of views among the hills over the lake and islands, and changing prospect at every ten paces. Left Cockshut (which we formerly mounted) and Castle-hill, a loftier and more rugged hill behind me, and drew near the foot of Wallacrag, whose bare and rocky brow cut perpendicularly down about four hundred feet (as I guess, though the people called it much more) awfully overlooks the way. Our path here tends to the left, and the ground gently rising and covered with a glade of scattering trees and bushes on the very margin of the water, opens both ways the most delicious view that my eyes ever beheld; opposite are the thick woods of Lord Egremont and Newland-valley, with green and smiling fields embosomed in the dark cliffs; to the left the jaws of Bonrowdale, with that turbulent chaos of mountain behind mountain, rolled in confusion; beneath you, and stretching far away to the right, the shining purity of the lake reflecting rocks, woods, fields, and inverted tops of hills, just ruffled by the breeze, enough to shew it is alive, with the white buildings of Keswick, Crosthwaite Church, and Skiddaw for a back ground at a distance. Behind you the magnificent heights of Walla-crag: here the glass played its part divinely, the place is called Carf-close-reeds; and I chose to set down these barbarous names, that any body may inquire on the place, and easily find the particular station that I mean. This scene continues to Barrowgate; and a little farther, passing a brook called Barrow-beck, we entered Borrowdale: the crags named Lawdoor-banks begin now to impend terribly over your way, and more terribly when you hear that three years since an immense mass of rock tumbled at once from the brow and barred all access to the dale (for this is the only road) till they could work their way through it. Luckily no one was passing at the time of this fall; but down the side of the mountain, and far into the lake, lie dispersed the huge fragments of this ruin in all shapes and in all directions: something farther we turned aside into a coppice, ascending a little in front of Lawdoor water-fall; the height appeared to be about two hundred feet, the quantity of water not great, though (these three days excepted) it had rained daily in the hills for near two months before; but then the stream was nobly broken, leaping from rock to rock, and foaming with fury. On one side a towering crag dial spired up to equal, if not overtop the neighbouring cliffs (this lay all in shade and darkness): on the other hand a rounder broader projecting hill shagged with wood, and illuminated by the sun, which glanced sideways on the upper part of the cataract. The force of the water wearing a deep channel in the ground, hurries away to join the lake. We descended again and passed the stream over a rude bridge. Soon after we came under Gowdar-crag, a hill more formidable to the eye, and to the apprehension, than that of Lawdoor; the rocks at top deep-cloven perpendicularly, by the rains, hanging loose and nodding forwards, seem just starting from their base in shivers. The whole way down and the road on both sides is strewed with piles of the fragments strangely thrown across each other, and of a dreadful bulk: the place reminds me of those passes in the Alps, where the guides tell you to move on with speed, and say nothing, least the agitation of air should loosen the snows above, and bring down a mass that would overwhelm a caravan. I took their counsel here and hastened on in silence.

Non ragioniam di lor, ma guarda, e passa!

The hills here are clothed all up their steep sides with oak, ash, birch, holly, &c. some of it has been cut forty years ago, some within these eight years; yet all is sprung again, green, flourishing, and tall, for its age, in a place where no soil appears but the staring rock, and where a man could scarce stand upright: here we met a civil young farmer overseeing his reapers (for it is now oat harvest) who conducted us to a neat white house in the village of Grange, which is built on a rising ground in the midst of a valley; round it the mountains form an awful amphitheatre, and through it obliquely runs the Derwent clear as glass, and shewing under its bridge every trout that passes. Beside the village rises a round eminence of rock covered entirely with old trees, and over that more proudly towers Castle-crag, invested also with wood on its sides, and bearing on its naked top some traces of a fort said to be Roman. By the side of this hill, which almost blocks up the way, the valley turns to the left, and contracts its dimensions till there is hardly any road but the rocky bed of the river. The wood of the mountains increases, and their summits grow loftier to the eye, and of more fantastic forms; among them appear Eagle’s-cliff, Dove’s-nest, Whitedale-pike, &c. celebrated names in the annals of Keswick. The dale opens about four miles higher till you come to Sea-whaite (where lies the way mounting the hills to the right that leads to the Wadd-mines); all farther access is here barred to prying mortals, only there is a little path winding over the fells, and for some weeks in the year passable to the dalesmen; but the mountains know well that these innocent people will not reveal the mysteries of their ancient kingdom, “the reign of Chaos and Old Night:” only I learned that this dreadful road, dividing again, leads one branch to Ravenglas, and the other to Hawkshead.

For me I, went no farther than the farmer’s (better than four miles from Keswick) at Grange; his mother and he brought us butter that Siserah would have jumped at, though not in a lordly dish, bowls of milk, thin oaten-cakes, and ale; and we had carried a cold tongue thither with us. Our farmer was himself the man, that last year plundered the eagle’s eyrie; all the dale are up in arms on such an occasion, for they lose abundance of lambs yearly, not to mention hares, partridges, grouse, &c. He was let down from the cliff in ropes to the shelf of the rock on which the nest was built, the people above shouting and hollowing to fright the old birds, which flew screaming round, but did not dare to attack him. He brought off the eaglet (for there is rarely more than one) and an addle egg. The nest was roundish, and more than a yard over, made of twigs twisted together. Seldom a year passes but they take the brood or eggs, and sometimes they shoot one, sometimes the other, parent; but the surviver has always found a mate (probably in Ireland) and they breed near the old place. By his description I learn, that this species is the Erne the vulture Albicilla of Linneeus, in his last edition, (but in your’s Falco Albicilla) so consult him and Pennant about it.

We returned leisurely home the way we came; but saw a new landscape; the features indeed were the same in part, but many new ones were disclosed by the mid-day sun, and the tints were entirely changed: take notice this was the best, or perhaps the only day for going up Skiddaw, but I thought it better employed; it was perfectly serene, and hot as midsummer.

In the evening I walked alone down to the lake by the side of Crow-park after sunset, and saw the solemn colouring of night draw on, the last gleam of sunshine fading away on the hill-tops, the deep serene of the waters, and the long shadows of the mountains thrown across them, till they nearly touched the hithermost shore. At a distance were heard the murmurs of many waterfalls, not audible in the day-time; I wished for the moon, but she was dark to me and silent.

Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.’

Touring the Lake District


Augusta, duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

‘I had such pains in my head and palpitations of the heart this morning that I could not help being alarmed about myself, but it passed off, and we were able to lunch in the little Casino at the foot of the old tower, the Ebersdorf family joining us.’

Amply rewarded


Francis Lieber,
philosopher and teacher

‘Arrived in Boston. Many visitors to welcome us. We unpack the large chest from Hamburg. Ce sont les plaisirs de mariage.’

Lieber’s Life and Letters


Edward Hodges Cree,

‘Left Bridport by the old four-horse coach “Forrester”, but in going down the hill into Winterbourn, one of the front wheels came off and we were overturned into the hedge, but no one was hurt, except a few scratches. We had to take a dogcart to Dorchester, getting to London at 9 p.m.’

Pirate hunting expedition


John Benn Walsh,
politician and landowner

‘I went off by the express train at 9 & arrived at Holyhead by 6 [the station at Holyhead had opened two months earlier]. Here I embarked in a fast new steamer, the Scotia. It blew a gale of wind, but we made our passage to Kingstown by eleven & I got to Morrison’s Hotel, Dublin, by twelve. Mr Matthew Gabbett met me at the station & we agreed to set out for Limerick by the 10 o’clock train.’

An infinity of petty squabbles


Helena Modjeska,

‘At ten o’clock in the morning we left for Birmingham, and opened with ‘Heartsease.’ The house was not very full because people were afraid the play was too risqué. They asked if it was the same play where the heroine dresses on the stage, getting up from her bed. We played it, however, three times, every time to better houses.’

Pilgrimage to Stratford


Alex Comfort,

‘At six o’clock on the morning of October the 3rd we passed between Tenerife and Gran Canaria We had entered the South Atlantic by the back door and we came out by the front. The skipper had been nervous of the passage: the civil war in Spain had been in progress for some months, and a battle had been fought at the Canary Islands the previous week. But we had no cause to be apprehensive. To our right lay the irregular shape of Gran Canaria, grey and mist-capped, but beginning to assume a gradual oriole of gold as the sun rose behind it. To port was Tenerife, its peak shrouded in a curtain of cloud, and its scoriaceous slopes sinking into a nebulous transparency of scented foliage. Between the two was the strait, blue and rippling, with islands and towers of mist which passed and repassed on its surface. Nobody ever fought a battle here; we were the discoverers of an archipelago. I sat in pyjamas on the fore-hatch, wondering what group of islands our shiploads of tourists had mistaken for the Hesperides. A long finger of sunlight passed suddenly over the peaks of Gran Canaria, above our masts, and fell upon the curtain of mist. The vapour eddied, divided, and lifted as if it had been rung up. Under it lay the perfect cone of Tenerife, its summit of rose-tinted sugar, its sides falling in ridges and hummocks to grey and olive. The first ray of light a lifted the heavens off Atlas’s shoulders, and there he stood, crested and supreme, while the fiery red orange of the [s]un rose and silhouetted in its disc the cairn surmounting a jagged peak on the farther island. Then the glow faded, and the curtain fell once more. A long column of smoke rose from the far corner of Tenerife, where Santa Cruz lies in its bay.’

The mud of Dakar Bay


Marielle Bennett,

Noticed what little meat one gets nowadays in the 1/6 luncheon at Maison Lyons. Was telephoned by a pacifist friend who invited me to a meeting.

The cost of stockings


John Fowles,

‘To Greece again: at the last moment I packed this diary, unable to cut myself off from such bitter-sweet memories. Here the sun and strange existence is already burning the past away. Never so much difficulty in writing as here; a constant temptation to be idle in lotusland.’

Nature of the diarist


Michael Palin,
actor and writer

‘At 5.15 arrived in taxi at the BBC’s Paris studio - which is not in Paris, of course, but in Lower Regent Street - for recording of Just a Minute. A few people from the queue came up and asked me for an autograph - and there was my face on a display board outside. Inside, the peculiarly non-festive air which the BBC (radio especially) has made its own - everything from the colour of the walls and the design of the furniture to the doorman’s uniform and the coffee-serving hatch seems designed to quell any lightness of spirit you may have.

Then I met Clement Freud. He stared at me with those saucer-shaped, heavy-lidded eyes with an expression of such straightforward distaste that for a moment I thought he had just taken cyanide. The producer, John Lloyd - a ray of light in the darkness that was rapidly closing in on me - hurriedly took my arm and led me aside as if to explain something about Clement F. It was just that he had a ‘thing’ about smoking - and for some inexplicable reason I had just taken one of John L’s cigarettes. Still, this blew over.

A depressingly half-full house filed quietly in and at 5.45 the 

contestants - three regulars, Freud, K Williams, the rather forbiddingly authoritative Peter Jones, myself, not exactly in my element any more - and quiz master Nicholas Parsons were introduced to friendly applause and took our places at our desks. The three regulars have been playing the game together for five years - Williams and Freud for eight - and it shows. They are smooth and polished, they know when to ad-lib, when to bend the rules a little, and when to be cross with each other. I buzzed Clement Freud when he was at full tilt and, when asked why, I apologised and said I was testing my buzzer. That’s the only time I saw him smile in my direction.

The game became easier, but I never mastered the technique of microphone-hogging which they all have perfected.

Before I knew it, two shows and about an hour and a half had passed and it was all over. I signed autographs. Peter Jones was very kind to me and complimentary, Freud I never saw again and Nicholas Parsons was the only one to come round to the pub and drink with us. Us being myself, Douglas Adams (who had recommended me to his friend, the producer) and John Lloyd. They seemed to be quite pleased with me and Peter Jones, as he left, said he would see me again on the show. I gather some guests manage it (Barry Took, Katharine Whitehorn) and some don’t (Barry Cryer, Willy Rushton) and at least I wasn’t considered amongst the don’ts.’

The Jones/Palin relationship


Pikle - The Diary Review - The Diary Junction - Contact

And so made significant . . .
and its companion websites -
The Diary Review
and The Diary Junction - are maintained privately without any funding or advertising. Please consider supporting their author/editor by purchasing one or more of his books: the memoir, Why Ever Did I Want to Write, and the Not a Brave New World trilogy.
Thank you.

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.

Not a Brave New World is an extraordinary fictional memoir, a trilogy in three wives, spanning the whole of the 21st century: one man’s - Kip Fenn’s - frank account, sometimes acutely painful and sometimes surprisingly joyful, of his three partners, and his career in international diplomacy working to tackle the rich-poor divide.

GILLIAN - Book 1 - Amazon (US/UK)
Kip Fenn’s first love is in a coma. His father suddenly isn’t his father. After formative trips to Brussels and Brazil, Kip wins a civil service job. Unfortunately, a media baron discovers his sexual weakness and is blackmailing him for government secrets. If only Kip could find solace in his wife’s arms or joy in his children.

DIANA - Book 2 - Amazon (US/UK)
Kip Fenn is a success: his career has taken off within a major UN agency trying to spread wealth from the rich to the poor. But all is not well with the world - the golden age of oil and chips is now over, and unsustainable development is leading to social turmoil, and to world war. Kip has found love and a new family, but he can find no way to stop his older children self-destruct; nor does he realise his partner’s deceit.

LIZETTE - Book 3 - Amazon (US/UK)
Third time lucky - Kip Fenn finds true love. His UN career though is ending with a whimper. Another terrible war is cut short by the devastating Grey Years, and while nations rebuild many individuals turn Notek. In restless retirement, Kip’s lifelong passion for vintage photos sees him launching a new arts institution. But who is the mysterious visitor by his bedside, and how will she affect his planned deathday?


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.

in diary days



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.

SITE DEVISED by Paul K Lyons

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.