And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

17 September


‘[On 17th of September], a conference was held with the aforesaid Lord de Gaucourt, who acted as captain, and with the more powerful leaders, whether it were the determination of the inhabitants, still remembering the penalties of Deuteronomy, to surrender the town, without suffering farther rigour of death or war. But the King, seeing his terms despised, and that they could not be overcome by the distress occasioned by a mild mode of attack, determined to proceed with more rigour against a people whose obstinacy, neither alluring kindness, nor destructive severity could soften.

Towards night, therefore, he caused proclamation by trumpet to be made in the midst of the squadrons, that all the mariners, as well as others who were on the stations assigned them by their captains, should be prepared on the morrow to storm and mount the walls, which had been rendered by the shot of our guns more convenient and safe for the purpose, and much more unfit for the enemy to make resistance, or even to protect themselves from destruction. Towards night he began to assail them more than usual with stones, that he might prevent them from sleeping, and thereby render them on the morrow more easy to conquer. But God himself, propitious and merciful to his people, sparing the effusion of blood which probably would have been shed in storming the walls, turned away from us the sword, and struck terror into our enemies, who were probably broken-hearted on account of the loss of the said bulwark, and hearing they were so suddenly to be assaulted and stormed; and also at the penalties of the law of Deuteronomy, if a fortified town be recovered from them while making resistance; and perplexed and harassed by the stones, and almost despairing of being rescued by the French, which they had expected long beyond the promised time. On that night they entered into a treaty with the King, that if he would deign to defer the assault, and would refrain from harassing and oppressing them with stones, they would surrender to him the town, and themselves, and their property, if the French King, or the Dauphin, his first-born, being informed, should not raise the siege and deliver them by force of arms, within the first hour after noon on the Sunday following.’

The King went from his castle


Hester Thrale,
writer and philanthropist

‘Queeney’s Birthday. She is now eleven Years old, God preserve & continue her Life till mine is spent: on this day we weighed Anchor in a very neat Sloop - Capt Baxter, Commander, an old School-fellow of Mr Thrale’s. The Weather was lovely - the Ship all our own, the Sea smooth & all our Society well but Queeney, whose Sickness oppressed her beyond Conception. Sam and Molly too were cruel sick, but Queeney worst of all or I thought her so.

I was vastly surprized when I landed at Calais to see the Soldiers with Whiskers and the Women mostly so ugly and deform’d. They however seemed desirous to hide their frightfulness, for all wore long Clokes of Camlet that came down to their Heels. The Inn at this Place kept by Dessein is the most magnificent I ever saw - the Mount at Marlborough is nothing to it. We had an excellent Dinner which a Capuchin Fryar enlivened by his Company. When it was over we were entertained with a Sight of his Convent, Cells, Chapel & Refectory; the Library was locked, & I was not sorry, for Mr Johnson would never have come out of it. The Fryer was a handsome Man, had been a Soldier & ended his Pilgrimage a Monk; he had travelled Europe & seen Asia, and was as pleasing a Fellow as could be met with. Johnson said he was as complete a Character as could be found in Romance. The book open in his Cell that he had been reading was the History of England & he had a Fiddle for his Amusement. We saw a Ship such as might serve for a Model of a Man of War hung up in the Chapel of the Convent. I asked the meaning & the Fryer told me it was a Ship some honest Man had made, & grown more fond of than it is fit to be of any earthly Thing - so he had piously given it away to the Capuchin Chapel. Johnson observed that I ought to give them Queeney.’

Hester Thrale in France


Benjamin Haydon,

‘Walked into a delicious meadow, and sat down on an old stump behind some hay ricks, my back turned on the Edgware road. It was a beautiful seclusion; just after passing the Turnpike near West End Lane, you turn down a lane which leads to the Harrow road; about a dozen yards on the left is a style, & close to the style hay ricks & a fallen stump. Here I sat and read Xenophon’s treatise on riding & Cavalry exercise, in a French translation, which decidedly proves the Greeks did not shoe their Horses, as he gives instructions how to get the hoof so firm that it shall resist injury successfully.’

Thirst after grandeur


Charles Darwin,

‘The Beagle was moved into St Stephens harbor. We found there an American Whaler & we previously had seen two at Hoods Island. - The Bay swarmed with animals; Fish, Shark & Turtles were popping their heads up in all parts. Fishing lines were soon put overboard & great numbers of fine fish 2 & even 3 ft long were caught. This sport makes all hands very merry; loud laughter & the heavy flapping of the fish are heard on every side. - After dinner a party went on shore to try to catch Tortoises, but were unsuccessful. - These islands appear paradises for the whole family of Reptiles. Besides three kinds of Turtles, the Tortoise is so abundant; that [a] single Ship’s company here caught from 500–800 in a short time. - The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2–3 ft) most disgusting, clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. - Somebody calls them ‘imps of darkness’. - They assuredly well become the land they inhabit. - When on shore I proceeded to botanize & obtained 10 different flowers; but such insignificant, ugly little flowers, as would better become an Arctic, than a Tropical country. - The birds are Strangers to Man & think him as innocent as their countrymen the huge Tortoises. Little birds within 3 & four feet, quietly hopped about the Bushes & were not frightened by stones being thrown at them. Mr King killed one with his hat & I pushed off a branch with the end of my gun a large Hawk.’

Darwin and his diaries


Wilford Woodruff,

‘In Maine, I walked part of the way home with Father. I talked of taking Rhoda Foss home with me. Father said it would be well if I was a mind to it. I am quite at a stand, don’t know what Phebe will say about it. I returned to Sister Foss and spent the night. I conversed with her during the evening and blessed her. She is strong in faith and desires to go to Nauvoo and intends soon to come and make a visit and stay as long as she pleases. Shosh is not very well contented down east; had rather come to the west. There is quite a western fever in a number of our friends in Maine.’

Oh how weak is man


Edward Pease,

‘A very busy scene at the horticultural Show. I did not feel free to attend, as some of the nobility were expected, and I anticipated the exhibition of some unwise crouching to aristocracy, entirely at variance with the simplicity of Christ. All that I anticipated of mutual insincere flattery, so common among the great, and an uproar and various cheering was exhibited - the presence of my dear fellow professors does not entirely accord with my views of the narrow way.’

Father of the Railways


Lady Minto,

‘After luncheon I paid a round of visits, said good-bye to Mrs. Clerke, sat some time with the Buchner family, visited Longe’s recently married wife, and then went on to see Mr. Parson’s garden. Unluckily a terrific storm came on which prevented my going beyond his green house. His flowers are celebrated and provide table decoration for the whole of Simla. Had tea with the Harnam Singhs. Lady Harnam is an exceptionally nice woman and very clever. All their sons have been brought up in England and one of them is married to an English woman. This son left India so young that, when he returned after leaving College, he could not understand a word of his own language; he alludes to the English and himself as “we”, and to natives as “they ”. Went on to see Mrs. Spence and sat with her till nearly dinner time. Went with the Erskines and Showers to the first performance of the Mikado, which was extremely good. Captain Hewett made a most excellent Chinaman, and Nelly Dane as one of the three little maids from school looked extremely pretty. It was terribly long and we did not get to bed till 1-30.’

Lady Minto’s Indian diary


Maurice Hankey,
civil servant

‘Hurst (F.O. Legal Adviser) called to induce me to take over Lord Crewe’s new Trade Co-ordinating Ctee. as part of C.I.D. Very heavy day writing paper on arrangements for winter campaign [at Dardanelles] and stirring up people at Adty. and W.O. on all sorts of details.’

Dreadful meetings


Mary Thorp,

‘Our servant Charles went yesterday to Enghien to get some “precious potatoes;” only had to pay his brother-in-law 1 fr a kilo, lucky man! He says that tram is crammed with potato smugglers, about 30 tons are brought in by it every night, the Germans soldiers who are supposed to search the people let them down very easily & often say “what do we care about potatoes, we know we are doomed to be killed.” On the tram last night, 2 G soldiers, trying to desert, dressed as civilians, were caught. Round about Enghien many desert. Recently, two offered someone 200 frs each for an old suit of clothes, no matter how ragged, to get away in, but the bribed man did not accept - the penalties in such cases are immense, & many people object to the chance of being shot.

I hope & pray the rumours of peace may be realised - people are suffering too much . . .’

In want of a winter coat


Romain Rolland,

‘Visited Hermann Hesse in his charming house in Montagnola on the ridge of the Golden Hill above the vineyards and chestnut trees. He had us picked up in a friend’s car. He awaits us with his wife and sister in front of his house. The misfortunes of our time have not marked his face which appears much fresher, calmer, and younger than the last time I saw him (two years ago on the eve of his remarriage). He complains only about his eyes which cause him some concern. Indiscreetly I perceive more anxiety on his wife’s face. She is a brunette with intelligent and attractive features. As far as the sister is concerned, she is a kind, stocky old lady who doesn’t speak, but who listens with an assenting smile. Hesse alludes only briefly at the beginning of our conversation to the afflictions caused by the events in Germany and the passage of emigrants in the Tessin. But throughout the balance of the conversation, Hesse reveals that he is quite detached and ill-informed (he avoids the reality of events that threaten to destroy his fragile mental equilibrium). He readily satisfies himself with the idea that the true German culture will remain safeguarded from the torrent. And he loves to cite the example of a friend, a musicologist who at this very moment is preoccupied with his research in folklore.

Also, in his innermost being Hesse feels utter contempt for Fuhrers - especially Hitler, whom he considers mediocre, but well attuned to the mediocre German sensitivity and therefore chosen by those who manage the whole business. But Hesse declares he is completely detached from his fatherland (which, he adds, he wouldn’t have said, nor felt, during the war of 1914). However, he didn’t have to suffer personally. No measures have been take against him in this respect: he continues to publish in Germany. The letters he receives from his young readers are quite similar to those he received in previous years. Undoubtedly because his public, like him, flees into art and dreams from the pressures of reality. For a year and a half Hesse has been working, but without haste, on a utopian work whose form he is in no hurry to find. [. . .]

His beautiful house and his supporter have shielded him from the need to act - even with his pen. I don’t think that this is good for him. His most substantial artistic activity is his work as aquarellist. He delights in colours. And every day he adds one sheet after another to his collection of landscapes. Last spring Hesse saw Thomas Mann who seems the most contemplative and worthiest among all the great German Emigres. This man who comes perhaps farthest - (for he was basically a great German bourgeois, most attached to the city and the fatherland, and I was harsh toward him in 1914-1915) - will probably have the courage to go furthest along the path of abandoning his former prejudices and convictions. But he will do so only after long and private struggles with his conscience and meditation. When he is strengthened in his convictions, it’s likely that his daily life will conform to them, whatever risks it may involve.’

Love of humanity


Ferdinand Marcos,

‘We escaped the loneliness of the palace for this old Antillan house now known as Ang Maharlika, the State Guest House several blocks from the palace. It has been restored beautifully by Imelda and is a symbol of Philippine culture in the last century. Almost all our antique valuables have been transferred here.

The departure of our children has made the palace a ghostly unbearable place.’

Purpose into my life


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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.