And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

6 September

Henry Hudson,
sailor and explorer

‘The sixth, in the morning, was faire weather, and our Master sent John Colman, with foure other men in our Boate, over to the North-side to sound the other River, being foure leagues from us. They found by the way shoald [shallow] water, two fathoms; but at the North of the River eighteen, and twentie fathoms, and very good riding for Ships; and a narrow River to the Westward, betweene two Ilands. The Lands, they told us, were as pleasant with Grasse and Flowers and goodly Trees as ever they had seene, and very sweet smells came from them. So they went in two leagues and saw an open Sea, and returned; and as they came backe, they were set upon by two Canoes, the one having twelve, the other fourteene men. The night came on, and it began to rayne, so that their Match went out; and they had one man slaine in the fight, which was an English-man, named John Colman, with an Arrow shot into his throat, and two more hurt. It grew so darke that they could not find the ship that night, but labored to and fro on their Oares. They had so great a streame, that their grapnell would not hold them.’

A very good harbour


Samuel Pepys,
civil servant

‘At Aldgate I took my wife into our coach, and so to Bartholomew fair, and there, it being very dirty, and now night, we saw a poor fellow, whose legs were tied behind his back, dance upon his hands with his arse above his head, and also dance upon his crutches, without any legs upon the ground to help him, which he did with that pain that I was sorry to see it, and did pity him and give him money after he had done. Then we to see a piece of clocke-work made by an Englishman - indeed, very good, wherein all the several states of man’s age, to 100 years old, is shewn very pretty and solemne; and several other things more cheerful.’

In celebration of Pepys


Jeffrey Amherst,

‘I sent a Scouting Party on the west to try to track the three People that the man of Ruggles reported he had seen the Tracks going down the Lake. Wrote Col Montresor to forward some tools &c demanded for Oswego. Capt Gray returned at night; said he had spyed out three boats at the Narrows, just as he was coming back; that he lowered his sail to wait for them but they stoped or, rather, seemed to go over to the Eastern Shore. I suppose a scalping Party, as they appeared just at night. I ordered the Guards on the batteaus to be particularly watchful, our Deserters of which they have two from Gages & one from the Inniskilling (who probably robbed Capt Williams) may have told them they can burn our boats. I ordered two boats with three Pounders, a Canoo of Indians, a whale boat of Rangers, 24 men & a Sub. of light Infantry in two whale boats to go early under the comand of the Capt. of Gages with the daily Guard of 60 men of that Regt; to march a body down the Eastern side of the Lake & come back on the West. If the Enemy land any people & draw up a boat they must find it.’

Canada for the British


Christopher Marshall,

‘This afternoon, the two thieves, who stole Col. White’s cash and trunk, were marched about a mile and a half out of town, in order, it’s said, to be hanged, but upon the Colonel’s lady’s intercession, it’s said, they were pardoned from death, but received two or three hundred lashes each, well laid on their backs and buttocks. A great number of spectators, it’s said, were assembled.’

Hogsheads and puncheons


Gideon Mantell,
doctor and scientist

‘Every day last week at Brighton, visiting Miss Langham. On Friday a public dinner to 4,000 children on the Steine. The King and Queen visited them: a very gratifying sight. Mrs Mantell accompanied me and saw the Royal Family.

Called on a smuggler and dealer in vertu on the East Cliffe. Bought a magnificent Cabinet drawers of Buhl and tortoiseshell; formerly belonged to Napoleon - quite a bijou - cost me £25. 15s; purchased also a beautiful little statue of a child sleeping; said to be the King of Rome. This evening wrote addresses to the King and Queen; resolutions etc. for the town meeting. I am indeed jack-of-all-trades - more fool I, for I get neither profit, credit, nor thanks! still there is pleasure in moving the public mind and guiding it unseen.’

Gideon Mantell - geologist


Frances (Fanny) Seward,
young woman

'Rose rather late. Visited the State Reform School - Interesting and humane much pleased with it, State Agricultural college men deliverd adress to Father. Procession formed, Took in our carriages - it was between two and three miles long. Girls dressed as States, wideawakes etc. Paraded through city - Speaking at a public common, covered stage. Father’s lap - He began speaking stage began to give way - we off all right - he spoke - Gen Nye followed - Company dinner - Torchlight and roman candles evening were gay with the Hosmers such nice people. Mr Howard joined.’

Lincoln and Fanny Seward


Hubert Parry,

‘She is the most extreme anti-Wagnerite I have yet come across. Every touch of him she feels with equal aversion; she is contemptuous both of his poetry, charm and music. We played the Brahms variations on the Schumann theme in E flat and when we got to the last one she said ‘I can’t bear this; it’s like Wagner’. ‘There, that ninth, it’s Lohengrin. I have got to detest the very sound of a ninth from him.’ After she said ‘It is impossible for anyone to like Brahms and Wagner.’ I demurred. She answered ‘Well Amateurs of course are different, but no professed musician can possibly accept the two. No man can serve two masters. They are so utterly opposed in harmonic principles, it’s not possible.’

Finished my first song


Indira Gandhi,
prime minister

‘Papu’s interview at 10:00 A.M.
Meeting of the Students’ Working Committee at 12:30
Meet Gupta about Vanar Sena’s work in different wards.
Katra Vanar Sena’s meeting at Katra Ashram at 6.00 P.M. to 9.00 P.M.
Drill and meeting of Vanar Sena & Bal Sangh at Swaraj Bhawan at 5.00 P.M.’

If I die a violent death


Bruce Lockhart,

‘A letter from Miss Foyle asking me to speak at a literary luncheon at which famous correspondents will speak of how they made their best scoops. Refused. There are no ‘famous’ correspondents and most scoops are ‘fakes’.’

Secret agent in Moscow


Peter Fleming,

‘At 10 o’clock we set out for a kolhoz [collective farm]. It was a biggish village lying in flat but slightly rolling country. The white Ukrainian houses with thatched roofs and tiny unopenable windows looked very pleasant in the sunshine. We were soon taken in charge by the local party secretary, a tough, insular young man, the power in that place. We tasted their honey and prodded their pigs and Mogs drove one of their buggies. The farm produces mostly vegetables. 20% of its produce is sold at a nominal price to the Government, the rest in the open market. Fertiliser supplied by the Government had had a good effect. There was a small land tax. The most interesting thing was the degree of kulakism allowed now. Everyone had his own garden or allotment and was allowed to keep pigs or cows, though no one as it happened had more than two or three of either; potatoes were 3 kopeks per kg. to the Government, 50 in the open market; 70% of the workers were women. We saw rather polite children eating bortsch in the crêche, and the cooperative store, which sold almost nothing except vodka, matches, and very shoddy clothes. Almost all the houses had the radio. In the one we went into the walls were prettily painted; Kaganovitch [then, and up to the time of going to press, a member of the Politburo] shared the wall with an ikon. Everything reasonably clean. We lunched in their eating-place off bortsch, black bread, potatoes, tomatoes, and melons.

When we got back George and I went over some flats with an architect, who said that the work done to his designs was about 30% unsatisfactory. Architects have a pretty free hand here. The flats all seemed to me good: light and spacious and cheap. In the first there was a man, a pre-war Bolshevik, who had done 13 years’ solitary confinement but conspicuously possessed a sense of humour. He had his shackles hanging up in his bedroom. Then there was one belonging to an architect with some rather amusing pictures done by the tenant; it was refreshing to find evidence of some sort of taste somewhere. He had Robinson Crusoe on his bookshelf. I heard some children exclaiming at it in a shop yesterday; it is in brisk demand here. Then there was another poorer flat, but still quite adequate.

After that we went to the races, which turned out to be trotting races. They were fairly well attended and there was some primitive system of betting. But not much enthusiasm. The jockeys were fantastic mid-Victorian figures, and had great difficulty in preventing the scratch horses from galloping, which they are allowed to do for only four strides. The jockeys are professionals, but the horses amateurs from the farms, which race against each other.

We were to have flown to Rostov tomorrow, but the wind is considered too high. So we must catch a train at 3 a.m.


It didn’t of course turn up till 4, and proved to be without the advertised dining car. We boarded it stupid with fatigue, after wandering about the streets for a long time. They were empty save for a certain number of indefinite night-watchmen sitting on chairs in front of doors. There was also an old man who suddenly stooped, picked up a fragment of newspaper from the gutter, and put it on a window sill. I thought he was going to roll a cigarette, but he produced instead a little bird from his pocket and wrapped it up in the paper. It had hit the telegraph wires and cut its head. He was very sorry for it, but I don’t know what good the newspaper was. The head waiter at the hotel was a romantic figure, an effective ex-prospector, ex-East Side waiter, ex-stage dancer in U.S.A. The depression had driven him back to Russia. Got to sleep about 5 in the morning.’

Dust all day like a fog


Miles Franklin,

‘And I am left alone in the desolation of my family graves. Anguish, desolation, nostalgia. It is sad beyond endurance to return to old scenes, but when the scene is empty the arena cold . . .

Each death in my circle, and particularly the going of those who have known or shared my childhood, drenches me with chill terror of the emptiness of this strange isolated land. It is as if I felt the tremors of the first exiles. We took it from the Aborigines. We do not yet possess it spiritually. We destroy, deface, insult, misunderstand it - whack it - but it resists. In the shock of bereavement - the thinning of family support - I see a dark spirit running over the land, a spirit akin to a sardonic smile, with the same mockery that is in the laugh of the kookaburra - that laugh which is loud, robust, hilarious, but aches with a mystery so baffling that it is tragic. That dark smile that runs over the land as if all the nostalgia of oblivion lay there unquenched and unforgiving.

I must not again go alone. The gone-awayness is too sapping. The sunlight caresses the gravestones and the wind sweeping over them intones the very essence of that oblivion from which we came and to which we go.’

Couldn’t you get married now?


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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.