And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

9 September

Henry Hudson,
sailor and explorer

‘The ninth, faire weather. In the morning, two great Canoes came aboord full of men; the one with their Bowes and Arrowes, and the other in shew of buying of knives to betray us; but we perceived their intent. Wee tooke two of them to have kept them, and put red Coates on them, and would not suffer the other to come neere us. So they went on Land, and two other came aboord in a Canoe; we tooke the one and let the other goe; but hee which wee had taken, got up and leapt over-boord. Then wee weighed and went off into the channell of the River, and Anchored there all night.’

A very good harbour


Ralph Josselin,
priest and farmer

‘After hopes of a dry Sturbridge faire it rained very much, so that the wayes were exceeding heavy and dirtie, Mr H. had some hopes to make 500l. of his hops; the last yeare he made 790l.’

A boisterous yeare


Christopher Marshall,

‘A number of the troops, it’s said, from the country, went out of town yesterday. Those gentlemen, delegates, mentioned to go out on the Seventh, to converse with Lord and General Howe, did not go till this morning. It was General Sullivan that went thenabouts, from this City.’

Hogsheads and puncheons


Ezra Stiles,

‘Anniversary Commencement at Yale College: when I conferred the academic Degrees upon 41 Bachelors and 42 Masters. I presented the Diplomas in the Chapel, it being a private Commencement. The 41 Bachelors were Alumni nostri besides one Harv. Of the 42 Masters 4 were from Harvd & Dartmo ad eundems. Mr. Benedict presented me with 30 Doll. Contin. Bill - the highest gratuity besides was 13, some ten, some 4 Dollars. I threw up my fee & referred myself to the Liberality of the Graduates for this Commencement, only this to be no precedent in future. Of the 84 I gave away a dozen degrees besides my sons: and 71 had Diplomas - about 15 absent. Gurley one of the Students which lately went home sick, died a few days since.’

Great grief and distress


Benjamin Haydon,

‘I walked to see Wilkie yesterday to Hampstead; as I returned about four o’clock the Sun was on the decline - and all the valley as I looked from Primrose Hill wore the appearance of happiness & Peace. Ladies glittering in white, with their aerial drapery floating to the gentle breeze, children playing in the middle of the fields, and all the meadows were dotted with cows, grazing with their long shadows streamed across the grass engoldened by the setting Sun. Here was a mower intent on his pursuit, with his white shirt and brown arms illumined in brilliancy; there another, resting one hand on his Scythe, and with the other wetting it with tinkling music - some people were lying, others standing - all animate & inanimate nature seemed to enjoy and contribute to this delicious scene, while behind stood the capital of the World, with its hundred spires - and St Paul’s in the midst towering in the silent air with splendid magnificence.’

Thirst after grandeur


John Kirk Townsend,

‘The character of the country has changed considerably since we left Walla-walla. The river has become gradually more narrow, until it is now but about two hundred yards in width, and completely hemmed in by enormous rocks on both sides. Many of these extend for considerable distances into the stream in perpendicular columns, and the water dashes and breaks against them until all around is foam. The current is here very swift, probably six or seven miles to the hour; and the Indian canoes in passing down, seem literally to fly along its surface. The road to-day has been rugged to the very last degree. We have passed over continuous masses of sharp rock for hours together, sometimes picking our way along the very edge of the river, several hundred feet above it; again, gaining the back land, by passing through any casual chasm or opening in the rocks, where we were compelled to dismount, and lead our horses.

This evening, we are surrounded by a large company of Chinook Indians, of both sexes, whose temporary wig-wams are on the bank of the river. Many of the squaws have young children sewed up in the usual Indian fashion, wrapped in a skin, and tied firmly to a board, so that nothing but the head of the little individual is seen.

These Indians are very peaceable and friendly. They have no weapons except bows, and these are used more for amusement and exercise, than as a means of procuring them sustenance, their sole dependence being fish and beaver, with perhaps a few hares and grouse, which are taken in traps. We traded with these people for a few fish and beaver skins, and some roots, and before we retired for the night, arranged the men in a circle, and gave them a smoke in token of our friendship.’

Snake chief doesn’t like horse


Gertrude Vanderbilt,

‘Such rubbish as I have been writing! Such sentimental bosh. To-night for a little I want to think serious by about the future. If I live the chances are there will be some one who will love me only for myself. Of course I will have a good many opportunities of marrying in the next few years. A big heiress! And all that sort of think. I hope it will not effect me. I hope it will not change me for the worse but rather improve me. If I should marry people will say: “Oh for her money”. I don’t care what people say, if it is not true, but suppose it is true? What then? This will be terribly unhappy. The chances are ten to one, I would be married for my money, therefore why marry? How can you discuss it so in cold blood. Suppose you fall in love. What then? I will not fall in love except with the right man. But the right man, who is he? A rich man, a very rich man. But the rich man will he love me? Ten to one - no. What then? Why even if he were rich he would marry you to be richer. No, no, there are true, honest, good men who would not care about the money. But they would not care about me either. You will come to nothing this way, you will not get deeper and deeper. Leave it all to God, he knows what is right & best and good for you. Trust in him and all will be well. Amen.’

Our spirits were overflowing


Alfred Dreyfus,

‘The Commandant of the Islands came yesterday evening. He told me that the recent measure which had been taken, in reference to putting me in irons, was not a punishment, but ‘a measure of precaution,’ for the prison administration had no complaint to make againt me.

Putting in irons a measure of precaution! When I am already guarded like a wild beast, night and day, by a warder armed with rifle and revolver! No; the truth should be told: that it is a measure of hatred and torture, ordered from Paris by those who, not being able to strike a family, strike an innocent man, because neither he nor his family will or should bow their heads, and thus submit to the most frightful judicial error which has ever been made. Who is it that thus constitutes himself my executioner and the executioner of my dear ones? I know not.

One easily divines that the local administration (except the chief-warder, who has been specially sent from Paris) feels a horror of such arbitrary and inhuman measures, but is compelled to apply them to me. It has no choice but to carry out the orders which are imposed on it.

No; the responsibility for them is of higher source; it rests entirely with the author or authors of these inhuman orders.

In any case, no matter what the sufferings, the physical and moral tortures they may inflict on me, my duty and that of my family remains always the same.

As I keep thinking of all this, I no longer fear to become even angry; I have an immense pity for those who thus torture human beings! What remorse they are preparing for themselves, when everything shall come to light; for history unmasks all secrets.

I am overwhelmed with sadness; my heart is so torn, my brain is so shattered, that I can scarcely collect my thoughts; it is indeed the acme of suffering, and still I have this crushing enigma to face.’

History unmasks all secrets


Korney Chukovsky.

‘Had a visit from Repin today. He is very polite. His beard is grayish and - you’d never know it from his portraits - grows straight into his mustache. He is unassuming. No sooner did he arrive than he climbed up on the couch and took down Vrubel’s portrait of Bryusov. “Good show. That’s Bryusov, all right.” Somov’s portrait of Ivanov. “Good show. That’s Ivanov, all right.” He called Bakst’s portrait of Bely “painstaking.” His comments on the engravings of Byron’s portraits: “banal” and “clichéd.” He approved of Lyubimov’s caricature of me. Then he took a seat and we talked about Rossetti (he is too academic) and Leonid Andreev (“Red Laughter” represents the insanity of war today; the governor is a combination of Tolstoy, Gogol, and Andreev). < . . . > When I showed him his Alexei Tolstoy, he said, “That was after his death. It influenced me. Some rotter touched it up. It’s terrible!” Then we went downstairs for tea, pears, and plums. < . . . > He had left his coat upstairs and ran up to get it so as not to be thought an old man. I saw him out to the gate and watched him depart, a hunched old man in a cape. [. . . ]’

Light, motley, whimsical


Irving Wallace,

‘Left Keno at 12:30. [. . .] Left folks at the state line. Both Ma and Pa cried terribly. Our car, Petasus, went well, except for part of the top tearing off.’

The game of literary cryonics


Marielle Bennett,

‘The whole of [our] street was cordoned off [after a bomb in the night] and people from outlying districts came and peered over the ropes at us as though we were exhibits. We ourselves had to either tell the police when we left home that we should be returning in a few minutes, or else we had to produce our identity cards. We had huge squads of demolition workers to pull down the remains of the house [no 54], and the occupants who seemed to have either been away at the time or to have escaped with slight injuries stood outside and collected all the things that were still “collectable”, clothes were tied up in bundles and taken off. Of course nothing was much good from 54, but the house next door 56 was not quite so badly damaged. A baby and its parents usually live in that house but luckily had spent the night on the opposite side of the street and had not been injured. Some children had cuts and I saw several people walking round with cuts and bandages. I went up the street to post a letter and the demolition men must have taken a dislike to me in my trousers and one called out “Pleased with yourself aren’t you?” Which rather upset me, as altho’ I am terribly pleased to have escaped so narrowly, I am awfully sorry for the other people. Still perhaps I do look pleased with self. I hope not!’

The cost of stockings


André Laurendeau,

‘. . . I went to Ottawa Tuesday evening, August 25, and got in touch with the Commission the next day. It was mostly a matter of setting up the meeting for the following week. The calendar set up in July has been followed to a certain extent: all those concerned - with the exception of Dunton and Morrison, away on holidays - sent in their drafts on the agreed dates. Personnel did, too. As for phase two, that is, comments on the texts that are in, the deadlines weren’t met with the same rigour. The projected overview has been done, to some extent, by a staff member, Mr. Hawkins. In addition, Mr. Dunton, when he came back from his holidays, wrote a plan for the entire report, which was sent to me in Saint-Ga- briel at the end of mine. It’s truly a wonderful text, with a simple and convincing tone, that brings together a considerable number of facts and impressions. Its shortcoming is probably the fact that it doesn’t bring out the crisis aspect enough, a crisis which most of the commissioners sense keenly in Canada at the present time, and which Léon Dion had proposed we use as the report’s central theme . . .’

What might have been


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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.