Essay # 1
To keep a diary regularly day by day in a capital training in methodical habits. Many, having made up their minds to keep a diary, begin writing with great zeal and fluency for a few days, as long as they are carried on by the novelty of the idea; but after a time they get tired of their self-imposed task, and their industry begins to flag. When this happens, the diary gradually becomes scantier and more irregular, until at last weeks and months are allowed to pass without any entry being made.
The best way to avoid this “lame and impotent conclusion,” is to fix a definite time every day for writing the diary, and not to allow oneself to be diverted to anything else at the appointed time. It is also good to restrain our inclination to write at great length at the commencement of the diary, so that we may be less likely to take a distaste to the work, and maybe the better able to keep our resolution of making regular entries every day. In this way, we shall give due importance in our chronicle to the successive events of our life, and find our diary a source of pleasure and of profit.
When we are writing letters, we often find our ideas fail us, and are unable to think of anything to write about. In such a strait as this, a reference to our diary, if it has well been kept, is sure to suggest something that is likely to interest our friends, and we are saved from the necessity of sending off a meager letter not worth the price of its postage-stamp.
A diary is also of great use to a student, as it enables him to take periodical retrospects of his work. Macaulay in his diary kept a record of the books he read. if we follow the same excellent practice, it will help us every now and then to look back arid determined whether we have been wasting our time or not.
A diary should also make us more accurate than we could otherwise be. It is surprising what imprecise statements men make sometimes about their own past experiences. A great safeguard against such inaccuracy is to have an account of what we actually saw and did, clearly recorded in black and white.
In all these ways the keeping of a diary may be found to be profitable employment of one’s leisure. It is also .likely to be a source of pleasure in future years when by its help we recall minding some half-forgotten episode of the past, and in imagination live over again the happy days that are gone. The diaries of eminent men, besides giving pleasure to their authors, are full of interest to the world generally. The lately published journal of Walter Scott enables us more thoroughly to understand and admire the character of the greatest of novelists. The diary of Pepys is not only delightful reading for an idle hour but also is of great value to the historian from the flood of light it throws upon the days of Charles II.
Essay # 2
- Diaries kept with different objects.
- Intimate diaries were often written in cipher.
- Advantages of keeping a diary.
A diary, or a journal, is a record that a man keeps of his daily doings. Both the words come from the Latin word (dies) for a day; the one coming into English direct from the Latin. the other indirectly through the French word (jour) for the day.
Different kinds of diaries are kept with different objects. For instance, a businessman will keep a daily record of the orders he gives or receives, of the business correspondence he conducts, and of anything that may be useful to his work. Public men often keep diaries with a view to collecting material for the writing of their autobiographies, or books on the political events and social changes that come about during their lifetime. A scientist or an explorer will keep a journal in which he notes down every day his experiments and discoveries, or his adventures in his travels. The diaries of some thoughtful people are more the records of their thoughts and impressions and reading, than the mere daily events of their lives.
As a rule, a diary is a more or less private document. We cannot put down freely and truthfully all we think and do and desire and see if we know that other people will read it. Hence diaries of an intimate nature are often written in cipher-that is, in a secret language that no one can read without the key. The famous diary of Sir Samuel Pepys, who lived in the reign of Charles II, is written in cipher and was evidently never intended to be read by anyone but himself.
Is it a good thing to keep a diary? The answer is both Yes and No. Of course, there are obvious advantages. We cannot remember accurately after many years the events of our lives, the impression which things have made upon our minds, the people we have known, the books we have read; and it is useful and interesting to refresh our memory of the past by looking up the notes we have kept in our journal. Keeping a diary, also, helps us know ourselves, for by means of it we can compare our feelings and thoughts with those of former years, and note mental and moral development
But there are drawbacks, also. We cannot get away from the thought that someday someone may read our diaries. So we find it difficult to be quite honest and truthful in what we write down about ourselves. With half an eye on some future reader, we omit discreditable things, exaggerate all good deeds and thoughts, and make out a fine case for ourselves. Hence keeping a diary may lead to mental dishonesty and conceit.