Sunday 5 February 1659/60

(Lord’s day). In the morning before church time Mr. Hawly, who had for this day or two looked something sadly, which methinks did speak something in his breast concerning me, came to me telling me that he was out 24l. which he could not tell what was become of, and that he do remember that he had such a sum in a bag the other day, and could not tell what he did with it, at which I was very sorry but could not help him. In the morning to Mr. Gunning, where a stranger, an old man, preached a good honest sermon upon “What manner of love is this that we should be called the sons of God.” After sermon I could not find my wife, who promised to be at the gate against my coming out, and waited there a great while; then went to my house and finding her gone I returned and called at the Chequers, thinking to dine at the ordinary with Mr. Chetwind and Mr. Thomas, but they not being there I went to my father and found her there, and there I dined. To their church in the afternoon, and in Mrs. Turner’s pew my wife took up a good black hood and kept it. A stranger preached a poor sermon, and so read over the whole book of the story of Tobit. After sermon home with Mrs. Turner, staid with her a little while, then she went into the court to a christening and we to my father’s, where I wrote some notes for my brother John to give to the Mercers’ to-morrow, it being the day of their apposition. After supper home, and before going to bed I staid writing of this day its passages, while a drum came by, beating of a strange manner of beat, now and then a single stroke, which my wife and I wondered at, what the meaning of it should be.

This afternoon at church I saw Dick Cumberland newly come out of the country from his living, but did not speak to him.

58 Annotations

First Reading

Laura Brown  •  Link

The book of Tobit?

I was surprised to hear that this was preached upon in Pepys's church. He's a Protestant, isn't he? The book of Tobit is one of the deuterocanonical books ("Apocrypha" to Protestants), which are recognised by the Catholic Church, but not by any Protestant denominations that I know of.

It has quite a bizarre story, as well. I wonder what the sermon was like.

Laura Brown  •  Link

That does make sense. But in that case, I'm surprised to hear that Tobit was in his Bible. Was it standard practice for the Apocrypha to be included in the KJV at this time? I had the idea that all such "popish" things were suppressed, but I admit to being pretty ignorant on this topic.

David Bell  •  Link

Sam could read Latin.

I don't know if there were any English translations of the Apocrypha available at the time, but it doesn't need to be in English.

Warren Keith Wright  •  Link

The stranger at Mr. Gunning's was preaching on the 1st Epistle of John, 3:1: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."
(The phrase "sons of God" recurs often in the New Testament. In the Old it seems to appear only in early chapters of Genesis and, interestingly enough, in Job: where was Job, asks the Lord, "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" 38:7)
The translators of the King James Version also produced versions of "The Books Called Apocrypha" at the same time; I have a little Oxford UP edition, "According to the Authorized Version" (and printed in the blackest ink you've ever seen). Tobit fills two small densely packed two-column pages, and I concur with Roger M. that Pepys was whiling away the time during the dull sermon with this tale of angelic intervention. I used to do the same thing myself, but used the Revelation.
P.S. I am not a Biblical scholar, just a superannuated English major. Surely others can provide further specs.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Diarist John Evelyn on the a.m. sermon:

"A stranger made an excellent discourse on 1.Joh.3.1. concerning the greate Love of God, to Man."

We get the chapter and verse from Evelyn (typically), but a better picture of what the sermon was like from Pepys: his adjectives are livelier, he describes the preacher and he provides a quote -- good journalism, then and now. One of the themes of Claire Tomalin's biography is that Pepys is a great reporter and has a particular talent for capturing drama. This may show a hint of that talent. I'd trust Evelyn, however, to actually pay more attention to the sermon.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Richard Cumberland

According to Robert Latham's index volume to the Diary (Vol. 10), Cumberland was Pepys's "contemporary at St. Paul's and Magdalene."

Pepys would have known him pretty well at Magdalene -- there were only 30 "in residence" at the college when Pepys was there, according to Claire Tomalin's biography (p. 37). At St. Paul's, all 150 students sat in the same hall, she says (p. 25).

Cumberland was bishop of Peterborough starting in 1691 and died in 1718. (Latham)

"living" -- "in England, a church benefice" (Webster's New World Dictionary). In other words, he got a salary as (officially, at least) the minister of some country parish. I've heard that back then a minister could then farm out the actual ministering to someone else at lower pay, but perhaps the future bishop's situation wasn't quite as corrupt.

Fred Coleman  •  Link

Pepys would have been quite familiar with the books contained in the Apocrypha. The Church of England's Book of Common Prayer [1542](of which he would have been familiar) contained the Articles of Religion "agreed upon by the Archbishops and Bishops of both provinces (Canterbury and York), and the whole clergy in the Convocation holden at London in the year 1562". The Sixth Article ["Of the Sufficiency of the holy Sciptures for salvation"] states in part "... In the name of the holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of which authority was never any doubt in the Church ... and the other Books (as Jerome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners: but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine ..." and then proceeds to list fourteen such books of which the Book of Tobias was one.

Ian Mathers  •  Link

Was it at all odd for the time that Pepys' wife didn't go to the church with him, and was instead supposed to "be at the gate against [his] coming out"?

And also, was it normal that Pepys attended two sermons at two churches each Sunday?

Lastly, what does he mean when he says that "my wife took up a good black hood and kept it"?

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

I believe he means that she found a hood, a common article of clothing at the time, colored black and in "good" condition, in the pew, and having no way to know who had lost it, kept it. (Remember "Little Red Riding Hood"?)

Going to church twice on Sunday was quite common, but in two different parishes, perhaps less so. This was not too many years after the Protestant Reformation and after a great Protestant upheaval in England; many people were quite fond of sermons.

Livings/benefices  •  Link

Not only did livings have fixed value, they were often in "the gift" of, a powerful politician/member of the local gentry, so could be bestowed on a favored candidate, evan family member. Jane Austin's novels are filled with livings and such.
Question: Did the Church of England allow for more than one benefice per clergyman? Cardinal Wolsey of course being laden with them while doing the King's work before the Reformation.

john simmons  •  Link

actually this last was posted by me, and I see where Miss Austen's name has been mispelled to boot...jgs

Wulf Losee  •  Link

"After sermon I could not find my wife..."

In Puritan New England, congregations would arrange church seating by age (the eldest up front), by wealth or social standing, and sometimes by sex (segregating women from men). I do not believe that the latter was by any means universal to all Protestant sects, or to every congregation within a sect. But perhaps the congregation of Rev. Gunning's church had men and women sit separately?


Andrea  •  Link

He was out 24l.

Poor Mr Hawly - after all our discussions yesterday about money, we know that this is a huge amount.

I think a lot of people got paid quarterly, maybe that was his salary for the quarter??? Poor love.

Lola  •  Link

It was the law to include the Apocrypha in the KJV, even though Protestants were opposed to it. We're talking about 49 years after 1611. As the years went by, more and more bibles were published without the Apocrypha.

Tommo  •  Link


Judged by the standards of the day, I'm not sure that it is correct to say that absenteeism would have been viewed as a corrupt practice. In fact the practice was common well into the 19th century - see Trollope's Barchester chronicles as evidence.

It was also fairly common to be granted more than one living.

The actual ministering would have been undertaken by a curate-in-charge, often a local man of little to recomend himself other than a rudimentary education.

Andrea  •  Link

Book of Tobit & Apocrypha

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church states that the King James Bible included the Aprocrypha as a section between the Old and New Testament. But in 1646/7 it was decided that the Apocrypha were not 'to be otherwise approved'.

Emilio  •  Link

Per Lola's "49 years after 1611": What happened in 1611? The date doesn't strike any chords w/ me.

Glyn  •  Link

The King James Bible (also known as the Authorized Version) was first published in 1611.

mary nell ganter  •  Link

And the drumming, what was that?

David Bell  •  Link

Two church services and two sermons?

What would be interesting would be whether people in the large towns and cities, where there was a choice, went to the same church for both.

I wonder if Sam, and others in London, were spreading their religious observances about so as to be able to claim regular attendance at whichever style of religion was to come out on top.

And maybe Sam was also watching who else might be following a particular faction?

Nix  •  Link

Two churches/two sermons --

I think it's more likely he did it just for variety. He was a man who liked entertainment, and there wasn't much to do for entertainment on Sundays. He also liked to get out and socialize -- two churches doubles the chance to see and be seen.

Lukas Bergstrom  •  Link

Speaking of church, do we know whether he believed in God? How widespread was religious skepticism then? (I'm such a blinkered modern...)

Pauline  •  Link

"...telling me that he was out 24l."
I wonder if this wasn't money Mr. Hawly was carrying and paying on behalf of Downing, as his clerk. And I wonder if there was suspicion on Hawly's part that led Sam to think he "looked something sadly, which methinks did speak something in his breast concerning me."

john simmons  •  Link

Think Pauline has hit on one of those vague, gray areas in the diary which are hard for us to explain, especially as it deals with Sam's inner voice and his private thoughts. The obvious conclusion is that Hawly thinks Sam may have taken the money. And Sam just leaves it there...wonder if this is being used by Sam as a memo to himself on an issue that might be raised again?

Lesley  •  Link

It's not clear but I think when Sam perceived that Hawly was upset and preoccupied, Sam thought that he may have done something to offend him. Hawley then revealed his distress was due to having lost a vast sum of money. I don't think there is any real suggestion that he thinks Sam has taken it. Poor Hawly - I bet he took his house apart looking for that bag. Do you think he left it in the pub?

Ann  •  Link

Regarding the "drumming," this entry is very silent on the matter. Could that be a way of announcing news in those days? Methinks those in the know don't want to be plot "spoilers." Perhaps Sam finds out tomorrow that something's happened politically....?

mark  •  Link

I'm pretty sure belief in God was very widespread then, and publicly professed belief was even more universal, Lukas.

At the same time we have to imagine a two-sermon era had more time to fill - not just religiously-motivated. Going to two sermons could be a similar idle pleasure to watching television now.

Eric Walla  •  Link

Hmmm ... Hawly's money missing

... and weren't we just informed a few days back how Sam conducted a personal accounting and seemed to be about 40l. up and wasn't sure how he came by it all? I wonder ...

Truly, if Hawly is out 24l. with no one to fall back on he could be in serious trouble.

Pauline  •  Link

The military used a glossary of drum beats to give orders on the field and in camp. From "our"… link:

"The chief drum beats used by the infantry in the 17th century were call, troop, preparative, march, battaile and retreat; these were later changed to general, reveille, assembly or troop, tattoo, chamade, &c.”

It is interesting that Sam and Elizabeth assumed they would recognize the meaning of any drum beat they were likely to hear.

steve h  •  Link

multiple benefices

This is a big, touchy area. Church of England livings, as were Catholic ones before them, were supported by tithes, and could be the source of much anger from those who paid the taxes, particulalry when the cleric was off in London living it up and leaving the parish to the ministrations of an unlettered curate or bush-priest. There is ample murmuring in satirical ballads against the clergy and their parasitism. A good example is the "Harvest Home" ballad in Purcell's great semi-opera King Arthur (1691) -- which laments "why should a blockhead have one in ten.," that is, a tithe.

In any case, multiple benefices were commonplace. Mr. Gunning himself, according to the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica, after the Restoration, also "received the livings of Cottesmore, Rutlandshire, and Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire" in addition to a position at Oxford. It was a way to make a very comfortable living and often, as in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (1814), a reward to family members who entered the church rather than going into the military, politics, or (God forbid) trade.

In a "humble Petition of the Ministers of the Church of England desiring reformation of certain ceremonies and abuses of the Church" (1603) to James I, comes the following request:
" III. For Church livings and maintenance. That bishops leave their commendams, some holding prebends, some parsonages, some vicarages with their bishoprics: that double-beneficed men be not suffered to hold, some two, some three benefices with cure, and some two, three, or four dignities besides: that impropriations annexed to bishoprics and colleges be demised only to the preachers incumbents, for the old rent: that the impropriations of laymen's fees may be charged with a sixth or seventh part of the worth to the maintenance of the preaching minister. "…

Somehow James never got rid of the practice; too busy burning witches. Does anyon know what happened to C of E benefices during the Cromwell era?

michael f vincent  •  Link

money here and there:

jan 31 ........pot of ale that came to-day to tell over a bag of his that wanted; 7l. in it, which he found over in another bag.
Now this: Half a years wage gone bye bye. It seems lot of money was in the " coin form" carried around in bags.

michael f vincent  •  Link

Tithes: They were finally banned in England in the 1930s I believe,( Does any body know when) although my family were still getting requests (not gentle reminders either) to pay up

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link


In re Steven H's saying that benefices are supported from tithes, I was under the impression, that, while some benefices came from tithes, others were supported by properties donated landed families, which retained the right to nominate the vicar for the benefice. Hence those families in all those Austen and Trollope novels who have those "livings" they can bestow on younger sons, or even sell.

I looked up "benefice" in the ever-useful on-line 1911 Britannica (of which Mr. H's note reminded me) . The 1911 says, "the right of patronage in the case of secular benefices [is] the right, which was originally vested in the donor of the temporalities, to present to the bishop a clerk [i.e. priest]. ... In cases where the bishop himself is patron of the benefice, no presentation or petition is required".…

This seems to speak to that distinction between livings in the gift of the bishop and others of secular patrons.

Can anyone speak to this more authoritatively?

By the way, in reference to multiple benefices, the 1911 says "The system of pluralities carried with it, as a necessary consequence, systematic non-residence on the part of many incumbents,... The evils attendant on this system were found to be so great that the Pluralities Act 1838 was passed to abridge the holding of benefices in plurality" (to at most two benefices).

Finally, in a complete digression, I recently inherited my grandparents 1911 Britannica (yes, *hard* copy). Oh, happy me!

Sorry for such a long (self-indulgent?) note.

john simmons  •  Link

Jon T. Kettredge...don't apologize for indulgence on a sight given over to it in one form or another...then or now...enjoy!

Pauline  •  Link

Sam's Beliefs
Claire Tomalin (Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self) reports of Sam's post-diary life that he was a passionate believer in liberty of conscience. He wrote in his will that he was content to die "in the profession of that faith, and in the practice of such worship, as I find established by the Law of my country, not being able to believe what I myself please, nor to worship God better than by doing as I would be done unto."

Hope this isn't a kind of "spoiler," but it might be an interesting thing to have in mind as we accompany him to church over the next ten years and hear what he has to say about it.

And how clever his will statement is, allowing him to die in good grace no matter which side holds the country when he dies.

steve h  •  Link

Tithes and benefices

Thanks to JonTom for the 1911 Britannica entries. Those tomes, along with the OED are my desert island books (downloads) of preference.

You are right to point out that benefices often had land (glebes) attached to them, making the rector/parson of the parish a landlord collecting rents or leasing farmland. But benefices were even more commonly financed, it seems, with tithes. True, the tithe was under the discretion of a secular gentleman or lord, basically old Catholic church tithes whose control had been taken from monestaries after the Reformation. But the custom was that these "patrons" had to find a qualified cleric to take the tithe, the right of advowson(a great word). Sounds like there were probably opportunity for some kickbacks.

Here's a relevant quote from Blackstone's famous Commentaries on the LAws of England (1753) -- it's an imperfect OCR'd text:

"He who has the right of advowfon is called the patron of the church. For, when lords of manors firft built churches on their own demefnes, and appointed the tithes of thofe manors to be paid to the officiating minifters, which before were given to the clergy in common (from whence, as was formerly mentioned, arofe the divifion of parifhes) the lord, who thus built a church, and endowed it with glebe or land, had of common right a power annexed o nominating fuch minifter as he pleafed (provided he were canonically qualified) to officiate in that church of which he was the founder, endower, maintainer, or, in one word, the patron."…

This classic law book may be a great source for all for the law of the time (which probably hadn't changed much in 90 years). I was happy to find it online.

Mike  •  Link

As far as attending two churches, Sam's life, and business, is relationship oriented. By attending two churches he doubles the number of church relationships he maintains. How many insurance agents today attend church for just that reason?

M. Stolzenbach  •  Link

Another note on Sam's religious beliefs from Claire Tomalin (p. 86):

"neither his Anglicanism nor his wider religious sense can be called enthusiastic on the evidence of the Diary. He takes family prayers on Sunday evenings, but rarely prays by himself, scarcely refers to the Bible, attends church irregularly, works on Sunday when he finds it necessary and never takes communion. God's name comes up in his pages as a tic of usage, routine rather than reverential, except when Pepys is thanking him for his recovered health, when a note of sincere gratitude does sound; but when, in the course of the first year of the Diary, Montagu tells him that he is 'wholly Scepticall' in matters of religion, Pepys expresses his agreement privately with an 'as well as I.' And when he found a thin congregation at the Abbey, he wrote, 'I see religion, be it what it will, is but a humour, and so the esteem of it passeth as other things do.'"

I think Montagu is indicative of the kind of people who were found to be skeptics (per Lukas Bergstrom's question): generally men rather than women, and generally lords of high social class.

On the matter of two churches, aren't we missing the most obvious point - Sam was visiting his family in the evening, so he went along to their nearby church.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

Meanwhile, there's that "apposition" that the Mercers had to undergo.

I don't know who or what the Mercers were, but John Pepys attended St. Paul's School, and my large dictionary says that the Speech Day at St. Paul's is still called an "apposition" - a scholarly debate or formal examination.

Sure enough, I find this by googling:

"To participate in 'Apposition' is every boy's aim (four outstanding pupils speak/make music, etc., to assembled distinguished visitors, governors and parents). "

Page about St. Paul's:…

M. Stolzenbach  •  Link

Ah-ha! reading more on St. Paul's School I see:

"Trustees of the Foundation are the Worshipful Company of Mercers"

So presumably the notes were for John's own appearance (stage fright, anyone?).

Nix  •  Link

Mercers = the guild of textile merchants.

Eric Walla  •  Link

Re: found good black hood

Always pays to reread, I find. As Sam's wife found the hood in Mrs. Turner's pew and then they proceeded to visit Mrs. Turner, it is most probable that they asked if it might be hers. Because the diary entry was written after both events had transpired, if Mrs. Turner did not claim it there would be no reason to note this fact, and no reason to return the hood to the church. Thus he simply remarks that she "kept it."

The defense rests its case.

michael f. vincent  •  Link

Twice on Sundays: networking for some, entertainment for some, checking out the possibilities, to be seen in the latest fashions, for the rest prayers. Maybe too cynical.

Eunice Muir  •  Link


Perhaps the laws requiring people to attend church were less for the saving of their souls than to make sure they paid their tithes, which appear to be a form of taxation to support the clergy. Tithing has gone out in Britain, but seems to have been revived with gusto in the southern United States.

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

Certainly all the churches I have been acquainted with endorse, more or less emphatically, the idea of tithing one's income to support one's church. That is very different, of course, from a compulsory tax on all residents of the parish to support the parish church. It would be unconstitutional in the US (compulsory tithes are exactly the kind of thing the first amendment means when it bans an "established" church).

Second Reading

Autumnbreeze Movies  •  Link

Book of Tobit; it was part of the 'Apocrypha' (from the Greek apokrypha [ajpovkrufo"], meaning 'things that are hidden, secret') refers to two collections of ancient Jewish and Christian writings that have affinities with the various books of the Old Testament and New Testament but were not canonized by Christians as a whole, and although the Old Testament Apocrypha are viewed as canonical by some Christians, the New Testament Apocrypha are not.
The Old Testament Apocrypha is a collection of Jewish books that are included in the Old Testament canons of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians, but not of Protestants. Most of the books were composed in Hebrew before the Christian era, but they never were accepted by the Jews as part of the Hebrew canon. Translated into Greek, they came to be used by Christians at the end of the first century A.D. They were eventually included in Christian copies of the Greek Old Testament and, later, the Latin Vulgate. The Protestant reformers allowed that the books of the Apocrypha were useful for reading. Over time, however, the Apocrypha has fallen into disuse among Protestants.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"In the morning to Mr. Gunning, where a stranger, an old man, preached a good honest sermon upon “What manner of love is this that we should be called the sons of God.”"

A loose recollection of 1 John 3:1: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"After sermon home with Mrs. Turner, staid with her a little while, then she went into the court to a christening "

I.e. to a private house in Salisbury Court. There is no baptism recorded for this day in St Bride's register. Baptism of infants in a private house (already fashionable in the early 17th century) had become widespread during the revolution, the Puritans encouraging it, and the Anglicans finding it preferable to the official public ceremonies. It now continued as a common practice, despite the protests of stricter churchmen. Pepys attended many such ceremonies (see esp.… ) , but unlike Evelyn, never expressed in his diary any disapproval. See Evelyn [the high Anglican] 12th April, 1689, 31st December 1699:… (Per L&M footnote)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Diary of Ralph Josselin (Private Collection)
5.2.1660 (Sunday 5 February 1660)
document 70012270
Feb: 5. God good to us in outward mercies, lord sanctify my heart, and of my seed(.) I find Mrs H : business crowding much into my thoughts lord provide for her help, this day it eats much into my heart troubling me, it is hard to lay by our molesting thoughts, pressed catechising family instruction on my people, lord do you press it on them for they will not else hear, the thaw is considerable but yet the frost continues in the ground, ice and snow also in many places, a very dark time, sun, seldom appearing

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"we to my father’s, where I wrote some notes for my brother John to give to the Mercers’ to-morrow, it being the day of their apposition."

L&M: The Mercers' Company were trustees of St Paul's School, the letters were connected with his application for the exhition granted him at the Apposition Court of the company on 8 February: cf.……

Third Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"This afternoon at church I saw Dick Cumberland newly come out of the country from his living...", i.e. the rectory of Brampton Ash in Northamptonshire. https://…

“his living”

A benefice (/ˈbɛnɪfɪs/) or living is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The Roman Empire used the Latin term beneficium as a benefit to an individual from the Empire for services rendered. Its use was adopted by the Western Church in the Carolingian Era as a benefit bestowed by the crown or church officials.…

LKvM  •  Link

Re tithes as expected Church of England income and Admiral Lord Nelson's daughter Horatia Nelson Ward, Mrs. Philip Ward:
"Philip Ward’s financial resources were quite limited [and] he was obliged . . . to embark on litigation [re] tithes which were an important part of his income. Horatia had an extremely strong and lively personality, and she, rather than her husband, took a major part in [the] legal negotiations [in London]. . . . The complex and lengthy law-suit lasted for 10 years and was only settled in 1842. [She] lost the suit . . . ."

StanB  •  Link

Morning everyone its been a good while since I last posted but I've never been far away lurking, it's good to see some of the regulars still annotating Terry, SDSarah and others. Its been very apocryphal since my last entry a Worldwide Pandemic and War in Europe, anyhow I'm hoping my fellow Pepysians are well
Loving this new format segregating the readings
Did we ever discover what the drumming was all about?

Nick Hedley  •  Link

Re: Livings/benefices. Even bishops were known to hold a number of posts at the same time, although this was frowned on. Slightly later than the diary, John Hinchliffe [1732-1794] was Bishop of Peterborough and Master of Trinity College Cambridge at the same time. After holding both posts for some time, he had to give up his Mastership of Trinity. Such in commendam appointments were later made illegal by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Act 1836. There is a slight connection between Bishop Hinchliffe and the diary in that he married Elizabeth Crewe, who was descended from Sir Ranulph Crewe who was My Lady’s (Jemimah Crewe's) great uncle.

elgin marble  •  Link

My first annotation this, but no stranger am I to the site and grateful to Phil Gyford for having thought it up, set it up and continued to build it up. Bravo Phil!

Back in January 1990, beginning to read Pepys’ diary daily, I soon found myself commenting on it in my own. Since the beginning of the present decade, thirty years on, I’ve been serialising online a selection of the entries I made throughout the 1990s.

This Feb 5 entry of Pepys’ got me thinking then about his allusion to the story of Tobit. Tobit went blind when – unlikely as it seems – hot bird shit fell into his eyes as he was resting outdoors. Pepys interrupted his diary (spoiler for some, sorry) for fear of going blind. As it turned out, he was worrying unnecessarily; it was probably nothing a pair of glasses couldn’t have put right.

Some might see something premonitory, then, in his interest in Tobit (later cured of his blindness). Others might reflect – and this is the point I develop in my diary entry of Feb 5 – that if Pepys hadn’t feared going blind, he might’ve continued writing the diary for a lot longer. But if he had, would we still be reading and appreciating it as much as we do?

Perhaps not; very long diaries, like John Evelyn’s, to give but one example, tend to be less popular than shorter ones like Anne Frank’s, say, or Joe Orton’s. Blindness, for Tobit, fear of it, for Pepys, was an affliction on which – in very different ways – ultimate good fortune was to hinge.

To read how such speculation enters the record of events in my diary of the 1990s:

Ensign Tom  •  Link

"... would we still be reading and appreciating it as much as we do?" Well, I for one would certainly like to have had more Pepys to read and enjoy. I would have liked to have had his inside view of the Exclusion Crisis and the Popish Plot of the early 1670s, more observations of King Charles and the Duke of York as they grappled with the stratagems of their political enemies. And especially, more court and country gossip, more accounts of going to the theatre and around and about town to see and be seen, and more incidental details of daily life in the Restoration Period.

I was lucky enough to pick up a two-volume set of the Wheatley edition of the Diary in good condition at a charity book sale some years ago, and finally started reading it last summer. I'm now--sadly--down to the last 150-odd pages or so and I grieve that Elizabeth has only about a year left to live. I know that when I come to the last entry I'll feel the same pang as I did as a young boy reading of Sherlock Holmes' final encounter with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Holmes eventually returned to deduce another day, but alas, Pepys' Diary will not.

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