Wednesday 18 January 1659/60

To my office and from thence to Will’s, and there Mr. Sheply brought me letters from the carrier and so I went home. After that to Wilkinson’s, where we had a dinner for Mr. Talbot, Adams, Pinkny and his son, but his son did not come. Here we were very merry, and while I was here Mr. Fuller came thither and staid a little, while. After that we all went to my Lord’s, whither came afterwards Mr. Harrison, and by chance seeing Mr. Butler coming by I called him in and so we sat drinking a bottle of wine till night. At which time Mistress Ann1 came with the key of my Lord’s study for some things, and so we all broke up and after I had gone to my house and interpreted my Lord’s letter by his character I came to her again and went with her to her lodging and from thence to Mr. Crew’s, where I advised with him what to do about my Lord’s lodgings and what answer to give to Sir Ant. Cooper and so I came home and to bed.

All the world is at a loss to think what Monk will do: the City saying that he will be for them, and the Parliament saying he will be for them.

19 Annotations

First Reading

M. Stolzenbach  •  Link


David Bell  •  Link

What ciphers did Pepys use?

We have a reference to a letter from Lord Montagu, with the note that ciphers were a popular entertainment, but the combination doesn't quite ring true. With the people he's involved with, would they be using a cipher in a letter for entertainment? I think not.

There's certainly scope for people to be using the puzzle aspect as a mask for more serious uses, though cryptography was quite a serious business, even without the science that developed.

Alternatively, was the reference to a letter written in a shorthand, as were Pepys diaries?

It does suggest there was something special about the letter, however it was written, and also something special about Pepys relationship with Montagu. Who would you trust with a cipher system, in that time and place?

Bored  •  Link

I wonder if Pepys ever mentions seeing any of Shakespeares plays, who died in 1616?

Roger Miller  •  Link

Cryptology: I happened across this survey of of cryptology in the 16th and 17th Centuries:-…

It seems to me to be a bit like those secret drawers that you sometimes find in old pieces of furniture. They could be places to hide things or they could be just displays of ingenuity.

Or possibly both.

Fred Coleman  •  Link

The Diary mentions quite a few of Shakespeare's plays that Pepys attended. A few that come to mind include "Merry Wives of Windsor", "The Tempest", "Henry IV, Part 1", "Othello" and "Midsummer's Night Dream". He could be very critical. Of the latter he wrote, "the most insipid, ridiculous play that I ever saw in my life".

Susanna  •  Link

Pepys' Cipher

Let us hope for his and Montague's sake that they were using a polyalphabetic subsitution cipher, though a simple substitution cipher is more likely for the time period. The former is much more difficult to break.

mary  •  Link

Pepys does mention seeing at least one Shakespeare play. I don't remember which one it was, but he wasn't impressed.

Eric Walla  •  Link

Re: Monk's decision

I keep imagining all "men of means" walking around with preoccupied looks on their faces, doing as little as necessary. Imagine the indecision that reigned in all their minds, the damper it put upon their every action or avowal of allegiance.

It is as if the broader cast is just waiting for the major players to appear on the scene. Will we have a comedy, tragedy or farce?

David Bell  •  Link

Pepys' Cipher

According to David Kahn's "The Codebreakers", there was a statute of 1657 which established a postal service, and provided for the interception of mail. A little further down the page is written, "Nevertheless, most men of affairs were aware of the practice of opening private letters, and the often enciphered their correspondence or entrusted it to private messengers when secrecy was essential."

(This is near the end of chapter 6.)

Perhaps this casts some light on Pepys' earlier efforts to send a letter to Lord Montagu at Hinchenbrooke.

I still wonder if the letter from Montagu was written in a shorthand rather than in any code or cipher.

Or just dreadful handwriting?

Paul Chapin  •  Link

By "all the world" Pepys obviously means "everybody in and around London", using the phrase in the sense of French "tout le monde". You can't do that in contemporary American English - does British English still allow this usage? (apologia - I'm a linguist by trade, and these things catch my attention)

Grahamt  •  Link

We don't say "all the world" to mean everybody in normal speech in British English, but we do use the cliche "the world and his dog" to mean emphatically everyone. Here, "the world" is obviously being used in the same sense as Pepys used it. I guess "Invent a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door" is a similar usage.

Daniel Baker  •  Link

Where was "my Lord's," I wonder? Montagu himself was in Hinchingbrooke at this time, and that's up in Cambridgeshire, so obviously Pepys wasn't going there. How many residences did Montagu have in London/Westminster, anyway?

This is my second attempt reading the diary, and this time I'm trying to follow Pepys's movements better. I've been using Horwood's 1799 map of London, obviously long after Pepys's time, but the oldest one I can find that has enough detail. It's presently available here:…

Mary  •  Link

Mountagu's London addresses.

The L&M Companion is useful here.

From 1653 until the date of his death, Mountagu had an official residence in Whitehall Palace. These lodgings comprised part (all?) of the gatehouse of the King's Gate together with rooms adjacent to it on both sides of the street.

He also had official lodgings at The Wardrobe in the years 1660-1668 and, from 1664 onwards, rented other premises in Lincoln's Inn Fields and Hampstead.

Thus he had residences in both London and Westminster and also a 'country' residence in Hampstead as well as his country seat at Hinchingbrooke.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I had gone to my house and interpreted my Lord’s letter by his character"

Possibly the cipher used by Mountagu in his Baltic voyage of 1659. Pepys retained all his life an interest in ciphers and shorthand. (Per L&M Footnote)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"All the world is at a loss to think what Monk will do: the City saying that he will be for them, and the Parliament saying he will be for them."

Cf. the French ambassador's dispatch (16 January): 'All parties now cast their eyes upon him, and each fancies that he is favourable to it': Guizot, ii.330. Monck was now in Nottinghamshire; his chaplain, Gumble, had been in london from the 12th to the 16th, charged with messages to both parliament and the city. (L&M note)

Third Reading

LKvM  •  Link

Regarding Pepys's playgoing and Shakespeare's plays, Pepys liked "Macbeth" a lot and saw it several times. He also was "mightily pleased" with "Hamlet." In fact, it was Pepys's comments about "Hamlet," often quoted elsewhere, that led me to his diary.

Mountain Man  •  Link

This is my first reading of the earlier part of the diary and I find it interesting that Pepys' comrades and drinking pals at this point are rarely the same ones he hangs out with just a few years later, showing his social and economic rise. He leaves most of these lads behind with the common throng.

Croakers Apprentice  •  Link

On a light note, I think it is fair to say that Sam Pepys is *not* doing dry January...then again, water was potentially lethal and they had no tea!

William Crosby  •  Link

It's also true, that Pepys is often very critical of Shakespearean performances over the diary years. Bearing in mind that Shakespeare's plays were often cut or performed in various versions this is not at all surprising. Likewise, one should be careful in judging Pepys's taste in such things since it is always possible that he saw a less than stellar performance. A further aspect of Pepysian theatre-going is his reporting where he sat bearing in mind that this was the era of the groundlings and elites in the seats.

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