And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

12 September

Jens Munk,

‘In the morning early, a large white bear came down to the water near the ship, which stood and ate some Beluga flesh, off a fish so named which I had caught the day before. I shot the bear, and the men all desired the flesh for food, which I also allowed. I ordered the cook just to boil it slightly, and then to keep it in vinegar for a night, and I myself had two or three pieces of this bear-flesh roasted for the cabin. It was of good taste and did not disagree with us.’

Nobody to dig the graves


Thomas Green,

‘Dipped into Bacon’s Essays; so pregnant with just, original, and striking observations on every topic which is touched, that I cannot select what pleases me most. For reach of thought, variety and extent of view, sheer solid and powerful sense, and admirable sagacity, what works of man can be placed in competition with these wonderful effusions.’

Dipped into Bacon’s essays


John Marrett,

‘Busy in sorrow preparing for the funeral.’

Ye largest Funeral


Simon Newcomb,

‘Arrived at Anoka shortly after 11 a.m. From there walked very slowly, and got into stage about 3 1/2 o’clock, about 3 miles above Manomin. Arrived at St. Paul about dark, went to P.O., and got a letter from Capt. Davis, enclosing draft for $89. Capt. D[avis] had written to Mr. Terry expressing apprehension for our safety. Called on Gov[ernor] Ramsay.’

Crossed a singular slough


Wilfrid Scawen Blunt,
writer and diplomat

‘Left home by the 10 o’clock train, and spent the day in London. A letter had come from Eddy Hamilton by the morning’s post asking to see me before I went abroad, and I went to Downing Street at one o’clock, Mr Gladstone is away yachting, and Eddy is acting Prime Minister, and a very great man. I had not been to Downing Street since last year - just upon a year ago - when I went to ask for Arabi’s life. Eddy was extremely amiable this time, and asked me what I was going to do in the East. I told him my plans exactly - that I was going first to Egypt, and should call on Baring and, if I found him favourably disposed, should propose to him a restoration of the National Party, but if he would not listen I should go on to Ceylon and India; that I could not do anything in Egypt without Baring’s countenance, for the people would not dare to come to speak to me; but, if Baring would help, I thought I could get the Nationalist leaders elected at the elections - all depended on the action of our officials.

Also as to India - that I had no intention of exciting to rebellion; that I should go first to Lord Ripon, then to Lyall, and afterwards to the provinces; that the subjects I wished principally to study were the financial condition of the country, that is to say, to find out whether our administration was really ruining India, and to ascertain the views of the natives with regard to Home Rule. Of both these plans Eddy seemed to approve, said that Baring would be sure to wish to see me, and listen to all I had to say, and, though he did not commit himself to anything very definite about the rest, did not disapprove. With regard to India, he said he would write to Primrose, Lord Ripon’s private secretary, to show me all attention; so on the whole I am highly satisfied with my visit.

I had some talk with Eddy about Randolph Churchill. He said that my connection with him in Egyptian affairs did me harm, but I don’t believe that, and I look upon Churchill as quite as serious a politician as the rest with whom I have had to deal. On Egypt I think he is sincere, because he has an American wife, and the Americans have always sympathized with freedom there. I believe, too, that he is at a turning point in his character, and means to have done with mere random fighting, and we both agreed that he has a career before him. For my own part I like Churchill. He does not affect any high principles, but he acts squarely.’

Seventy wax matches


James Hannington,

‘Flies and mosquitos swarmed, and so did Masai. As soon as ever the sun showed, a fresh and powerful band of warriors came at once and demanded hongo. A very covetous and wicked-looking old medicine-man came with them. After some delay we settled their claims, but, before doing so, a fresh band had arrived, and far more insolent; and then a third; and then a fourth; and now the elders began to be even more troublesome than the rest; at length matters reached a pitch, and the women were ordered from camp, and fighting seemed imminent. Jones and I rushed hither and thither, and got matters straight again somehow, but I was nearly torn to pieces by the warriors pulling my hair and beard, examining my boots, toes, etc.; at last, nearly demented, I went to hide myself from them amid the trees. After three ineffectual attempts I at last succeeded, when Jones, who knew where I was, came rushing to call me. The warriors were attacking the loads. I dashed back and found them in a most dangerous mood, and backed by the elders, who were worse than all. By dint of the keenest policy I amused the warriors while Jones gave presents to the elders. Then a fresh and yet more exacting band of warriors arrived, and had to be satisfied. How often I looked at the sun! It stood still in the heavens, nor would go down. I agonised in prayer, and each time trouble seemed to be averted; and, after all, we came out of it far better than could be expected, and really paid very little - not two loads altogether, and bought six goats to boot. About sunset things grew quiet, so I went out and bagged three geese. All the men, elders, Jones, and myself agree that we must try and escape tomorrow.’

The bishop in Buganda


Natsume Soseki,

‘When waking from a dream, I am far away from my familiar mountains. The vast and limitless ocean surrounds me.’

A giant of Japanese literature


Robert Lindsay Mackay,

‘Ordered up to the 11th. Service Battalion Argylls - the one to which I most of all wanted to go. Train due to leave at 2 p.m. Left punctually at 4.30 p.m., which is not bad for a French train. Reached Albert on the Somme Front about 6.30 p.m. on the 13th. - a distance of some 70 - 80 miles in 28 hours - not bad going for a French train either! Albert is where the battle now going on began, so I hope to see something decent. Reported to the Details Orderly Room of the 11th. Bn. who heard next day that we were coming. Went along to a park after tea to see our latest form of frightfulness about which mystery hangs, namely, the tanks. They have not been used against the enemy yet. Heyworth (who joined with me) and I then went along to the Divisional Reinforcement Camp at Mericourt.’

A bath in Albert


Henry Agard Wallace,

‘At the meeting with the President I went over page by page with him my Madison Square Garden speech to be given on September 12. Again and again he said, “That’s right”; “Yes, that is what I believe.” He didn’t have a single change to suggest. He twice said how deeply he appreciated my courtesy in showing him my speech before I gave it.

The President said that Secretary Byrnes’ speech of September 6 had been cleared with him over the telephone and then it had been sent back to Washington for minor checking. He said also that he thought it must be a pretty good speech because neither the British, the French, nor the Russians liked it.

The President apparently saw no inconsistency between my speech and what Byrnes was doing - if he did he didn’t indicate it in any way. He spoke very hopefully about the future, saying that he thought the situation between the United States and Russia was much more peaceful than the newspapers would have us believe. He said the dark cloud on the horizon was the state of Stalin’s heath; that Stalin was now an old man. He said also it was almost impossible to do business with Molotov . . .’

The 33rd vice president


Miles Franklin,

‘Fine day again, didn’t even take Mrs Morgan’s chicks the greens. Went to butcher, so fatigued I find my stuff is full of repetition & disjointed - a rough draft really and I ache so I can’t straighten my shoulders. Wanted to get to bed by 9 but Mrs Fogden came in & wasted 40 minutes, then jean telephoned & now it is 9.30. Too tired to go for bread so took some of that Mrs A threw over for the chooks.’

Couldn’t you get married now?


Arseny Tarkovsky,

‘I haven’t seen my father for ages. The longer I don’t see him the more depressing and alarming it becomes to go to him. It’s patently clear that I have a complex about my parents. I don’t feel adult when I’m with them. And I don’t think they consider me adult either. Our relations are somehow tortured, complicated, unspoken. It’s not straightforward, any of it. I love them dearly, but I’ve never felt at ease with them, or their equal. I think they’re shy of me too, even though they love me. [. . .]

All the same, I must go and see my father before I leave for Japan. It’s a torment for him too, our relationship being as it is. I know that for certain. I just can’t imagine how things would develop if I were the one to break the ice. And it’s so difficult. Perhaps I should write a letter? But a letter won’t decide anything. Afterwards we would meet and both pretend the letter had never happened. It’s a kind of Dostoievskyism, or Dolgorukyism. We all love each other and are shy, afraid of one another. For some reason it’s far easier for me to relate to total strangers . . .

Now I shall go to bed and read Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game. I’ve been tracking it down for ages, and today, at last, it has actually reached me. How scared I am of funerals. Even when my grandmother was being buried it was frightening. Not because she had died, but because I was surrounded by people who were expressing their feelings. I can’t bear seeing people express their feelings, even sincere ones. I find it intolerable when my nearest and dearest give expression to their feelings. I remember my father and I were standing by the church, waiting for the moment when we could take grandmother’s coffin away (the service and burial were in different places) and my father said (it doesn’t matter what it was about), ‘Good is passive. And evil is active.’ [. . .]

I remember when I was still quite small and was visiting my father in Party (!) Street, Uncle Leva (I think it was) appeared. My father was sitting on the sofa wrapped in a blanket, I suppose he was unwell. Uncle Leva stopped in the doorway and said, ‘You know, Arseniy, Maria Danilovna has died.’

My father sat there for a moment, not taking it in, then he half turned away and started to cry. He looked terribly unhappy and alone, sitting on the sofa in a blanket. Maria Danilovna was my paternal grandmother. My father hardly ever saw her. He seemed somehow ill at ease as well. Perhaps it runs in the family, anyhow on my father’s side? Or maybe I’m mistaken about my father and grandmother Maria Danilovna. They may have had a quite different sort of relationship from my mother and me. My mother has sometimes said that Arseniy only ever thought about himself, that he was an egoist. I don’t know whether she’s right or not. She’d have every right to say that I’m an egoist, too. I must be. But I do love my mother, and my father, and Marina, and Senka. Only a stupor comes over me and I can’t utter my feelings. My love is not active, somehow. Probably all I want is to be left in peace, even forgotten. I don’t want to count on their love, nor do I demand anything from them, apart from freedom. But there is no freedom, nor will there be. Then they blame me for Ira, I can feel that. They love her, normally and simply. I’m not jealous, only I don’t want them to torment me and think I’m a saint. I’m not a saint and I’m not an angel.

What I am is an egoist, who is afraid more than anything else in the world of pain suffered by those he loves.

I’m going to go and read Hesse.’

Tarkovsky father and son


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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.