And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

31 October

John Evelyn,

‘I am this day arrived to the 85th year of my age. Lord teach me so to number my days to come, that I may apply them to wisdom!’

A most excellent person


Thomas Creevey,
lawyer and politician

‘We have got an invitation from the Regent for to-night and are going. I learn from Sir Philip Francis, who dined there yesterday, the Prince was very gay. . . There were twenty at dinner - no politicks - but still Francis says he thinks, from the language of the equerries and understrappers, that the campaign in Portugal and Lord Wellington begin to be out of fashion with the Regent. I think so too, from a conversation I had with one of the Gyps to-day - [Sit William] Congreve, author of the rocketts, and who is going, they say, to have a Rockett Corps. He affects to sneer rather at Wellington’s military talents. The said Congreve was at the same school with me at Hackney, and afterwards at Cambridge with me; after that, a brother lawyer with me at Gray’s Inn. Then he became an editor of a newspaper . . . written in favour of Lord Sidmouth’s administration, till he had a libel in his paper against Admiral Berkeley, for which he was prosecuted and fined £1,000. Then he took to inventing rocketts for the more effectual destruction of mankind, for which he became patronised by the Prince of Wales, and here he is - a perfect Field Marshall in appearance. About 12 years ago he wrote to me to enquire the character of a mistress who had lived with me some time before, which said mistress he took upon my recommendation, and she lives with him now, and was, when I knew her, cleverer than all the equerries and their Master put together.’

Dining at the Pavilion


John Nash,

‘Cowes - Estimated the value of Lady Lucy Foley’s House in London & wrote to her on the subject - dined at Mr Oglanders - took Mr Hewett & Mrs Smith & brought them home at night

Dined at Lyons


Thomas Babington Macaulay,
politician and historian

‘One of the most remarkable days of my life. A day of interest and enjoyment. We were not required to be on board of the steamer again till six in the evening. Soon after seven in the morning I was in the streets of Genoa. Never had I been more struck and delighted. The Strada Balbi, the Strada Nuovissima, above all the Strada Nuovà quite enchanted me. Nothing mean or small to break the charm. One huge massy towering palace after another - forming an assemblage in which the finest houses of London would have seemed contemptible. What would Northumberland House, Lansdowne House, or Norfolk House have been there? Change Northumberland House from brick to variegated marble, and raise it to twice its present height and it might perhaps pass muster as a second-rate palace in Genoa. The vestibules beautiful - the flights of marble steps and the colonnades within far superior to anything in London or Paris. True it is that none of these magnificent piles is a strikingly good architectural composition. But the general effect is majestic beyond description. . .

I went over the Royal Palace - both that I might see the interior of one of these superior mansions, and that I might see the famous Paul Veronese. The house is very noble - magnificent flights of steps of the finest marble - long suites of gilded rooms - galleries adorned with a profusion of glasses - and many good pictures and tolerable sculptures. Of the pictures the Paul Veronese of Mary Magdalene anointing the feet of Christ is by far the most celebrated. . . The softness of Mary’s hands is much admired but there is no use in lying to one’s own self and I must say that I want taste to see the transcendant merit of the picture. The expression of the two principal countenances is quite insipid. Mary might be washing her hands and Christ might be sitting to be measured for shoes. There is no love or adoration on her side, nor has he the air of a superior being accepting graciously a sacrifice offered by sincere reverence and affection. The dog under the table is, I think, as well painted and seems as much interested in what is going on as any other character in the piece. . .

The terrace of the palace commands an incomparable view of the city, the port, the shipping and the Mediterranean. The sun was bright and the sea blue so that I saw this fine sight with every advantage.’

Such an idle man


Henri-Frédéric Amiel,

‘Walked for half an hour in the garden. A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn. The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered about the distant mountains, a melancholy nature. The leaves were falling on all sides like the last illusions of youth under the tears of irremediable grief. A brood of chattering birds were chasing each other through the shubberies. and playing games among the branches, like a knot of hiding schoolboys. The ground strewn with leaves, brown, yellow, and reddish; the trees half-stripped, some more, some less, and decked in ragged splendors of dark-red, scarlet, and yellow; the reddening shrubs and plantations; a few flowers still lingering behind, roses, nasturtiums, dahlias, shedding their petals round them; the bare fields, the thinned hedges; and the fir, the only green thing left, vigorous and stoical, like eternal youth braving decay; all these innumerable and marvelous symbols which forms colors, plants, and living beings, the earth and the sky, yield at all times to the eye which has learned to look for them, charmed and enthralled me. I wielded a poetic wand, and had but to touch a phenomenon to make it render up to me its moral significance. Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail. True poetry is truer than science, because it is synthetic, and seizes at once what the combination of all the sciences is able at most to attain as a final result. The soul of nature is divined by the poet; the man of science, only serves to accumulate materials for its demonstration.’

The most beautiful poem


Jane Carlyle,
wife of philosopher

‘Rain, rain, rain! “Oh Lord, this is too ridiculous”! (as the Annandale Farmer exclaimed, starting to his feet, when it began pouring, in the midst of his prayer for a dry hay-time.) I have no hay to be got in, or anything else to be got in that I know of; but I have a plentiful crop of thorns to be got out, and that too requires good weather. . . The evening devoted to mending; Mr C’s trousers among other things! “Being an only child” I never “wished” to sew mens trousers - no never!’

I walked, walked, walked


George Whitwell Parsons,
lawyer and banker

‘Met Wyat Earp in hotel who took me in to see Virgil this evening, he’s getting along well. Morgan too. Looks bad for them all thus far.’

Gunfight at OK Corral


Sophia Tolstoy,
wife of writer

‘I haven’t eaten or drunk anything for four days, I ache all over, my heart is bad. Why? What is happening? Nothing to write about - nothing but groans and tears. Berkenheim came with some stupid doctor called Rastorguev, and a young lady fresh from medical school. These outsiders make it much more difficult, but the children don’t want to take responsibility. What for? My life? I want to leave the dreadful agony of this life . . . I can see no hope, even if L. N. does at some point return. Things will never be as they were, after all he has made me suffer. We can never be straightforward with each other again, we can never love each other, we shall always fear each other. And I fear for his health and strength too.’

He was my diary


Giovannino Guareschi,

‘Many of the captured Russian coats which the Germans have distributed to us have a patch on the chest or back, a little, round patch covering the hole where a bullet went in and a soul went out. My coat has such a patch, just over the heart. It is made of stout cloth and carefully sewn, yet a breath of cold air penetrates the patch, even when there is no wind and a warm sun. And my heart aches, when it is pierced by this icy needle.’

A thousand pieces


Hasan di Tiro,

‘After about three hours march in the dark, we make a short rest in the village of Langgien, South of the town of Teupin Raya. Although tired, I have a sensational feeling being able to walk again on my own land, the land of my birth, after 25 years unable to set my foot on it, because the Javanese occupiers of my country would not allow me to return. I can never consent to asking foreigners permission for me to come back to my own land. After a rest of one-half hour, we proceed again toward the South, the mountain region. We begin climbing hills and descending them. Because there was rain during the day, the paths are very slippery. I fall flat on my back several times. By the time of day break we still have not reach our destination. After twice crossing the Pante Radja river, we finally reach our destination, the forest of Panton Weng, at about 7 A. M. This is a traditional guerilla hide-out, both during the war against the Dutch and during the last resistance against the Javanese Indonesians. The terrain is so hilly and covered with incredibly thick forests. One cannot see through within 15 meters, and there are many small brooks criss-crossing the forests. Everyone is so exhausted and in need to lie down. But there is no place to lie down unless one makes a clearing on the forest floor first. So the men begin to cut some trees to clear the ground just enough to lay a mat for me to lie down. In no time I fall asleep. For the first time on my own homeland in twenty-five years.

While I was asleep the men cut the trees to make clearance to establish our first camp. They picked up a place adjacent to a clear spring where they established two houses, one long, for themselves, and adjacent to it a special one. smaller, for my residence . For the roofs and walls they used black or green heavy and thick plastic tissues which come very handy, in the old time our fathers had to work several days just to make roofs for their guerilla camps out of cut grass. In two days we have functional houses in the midst of the forests complete with running water! We named this Camp Panton Weng. So I begin my new life as a guerilla warrior - picking up a long family tradition! ’

Life as a guerilla warrior


Jimmy Boyle,
prisoner and sculptor

‘The last day! How can I possibly trust it to be? Every morning for the past 15 years I’ve wakened to these surroundings. This morning is no different except for the underlying feeling of excitement.

I am gaining first-hand experience of the process of freedom. Inside I am aware that many things are going on. There is a part that wants to be joyous about it all but another seemingly stronger part stopping this as something may go wrong at the last minute. This is a sort of ‘defence mechanism’ that has taken me through less joyful experiences. If I were to go over the top with good feeling and it went wrong then I would be devastated. Recovery would be very difficult. What could go wrong now? I have experienced enough to know that prison authorities are capable of anything. I distrust them considerably. [. . .]

I am aware that there is massive media interest in my release. So, immediately I’ll be on stage. For the first time I’ll be free to speak to them. These past years they have followed my life and I haven’t been able to say anything. The gag will be off.’

This violent typewriter


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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.