Friday 24 February 1659/60

I rose very early, and taking horse at Scotland Yard, at Mr. Garthwayt’s stable, I rode to Mr. Pierces, who rose, and in a quarter of an hour, leaving his wife in bed (with whom Mr. Lucy methought was very free as she lay in bed), we both mounted, and so set forth about seven of the clock, the day and the way very foul. About Ware we overtook Mr. Blayton, brother-in-law to Dick Vines, who went thenceforwards with us, and at Puckeridge we baited, where we had a loin of mutton fried, and were very merry, but the way exceeding bad from Ware thither. Then up again and as far as Foulmer, within six miles of Cambridge, my mare being almost tired: here we lay at the Chequer, playing at cards till supper, which was a breast of veal roasted. I lay with Mr. Pierce,… [continued tomorrow P.G.]

77 Annotations

First Reading

language hat  •  Link

"at Puckeridge we baited":
bait (OED; note citation of this passage):

Of travellers: To stop at an inn, orig. to feed the horses, but later also to rest and refresh themselves; hence, to make a brief stay or sojourn.

1375 Barbour Bruce xiii. 599 A litill quhile thai baitit thar. 1475 Caxton Jason 37 b, They cam for to bayte in the logging wher her frende Jason had logged. 1577 Holinshed Chron. II. 16/2 The caue or den wherein saint Paule is said to haue baited or sojorned. 1659-60 Pepys Diary 24 Feb., At Puckeridge we baited, where we had a loin of mutton fried. 1777 Sheridan Trip Scarb. i. ii, To bait here a few days longer, to recover the fatigue of his journey. 1874 Motley Barneveld I. iv. 179 They set forth on their journey…stopping in the middle of the day to bait.

M. Stolzenbach  •  Link


What Pepys is not.

One dish of carrots has been mentioned so far, through all this parade of loins of mutton and veal and whatnot.

Jan Grantham  •  Link

So far I have imagined Sam sitting down each evening just before bed to write his journal entry. This is the first I've noticed that he includes the next mornings activities on this day. Maybe he left the book at home and filled it out when he returned?

Keith Wright  •  Link

In the Introduction to "The Shorter Pepys" (1985), Robert Latham describes the notebook in which Pepys began the diary, and says, "On loose sheets, or possibly in a separate book (he later refers to a 'by-book'), he began to make the notes and drafts which often preceded the composition of the diary itself. (But it is clear that he sometimes made his entry in the diary without first composing a complete draft or even any draft at all.). . . [H]e continued to compose it in much the same way, making entries every day or every few days, while his memory of events was still clear and their impact still fresh. Although he had plenty of opportunity to alter his entries if he had chosen to, he refrained, not even filling the rare blank where at the moment of composition he had been unable to recall a name."
Pepys made notes about two journeys in 1668 which were never written up, the loose sheets merely inserted in that year's book. (xxxiv and xxxviii)

francesca  •  Link

" leaving his wife in bed (with whom Mr. Lucy methought was very free as she lay in bed),"... I assume Mr. Lucy is really Mrs Pierce; I did look in People but only a Mrs Pierce is mentioned (under her husband's name), and no first name. So, is she skimpily clad; maybe no one really knows since we dont know what Pepys considers being 'free': and what is Pepys doing in their bedroom anyways?

Christopher Taylor  •  Link


Does anyone have any idea how widespread or reliable were clocks in this era? Today, we see, S wakes early. Does he have an alarm clock? Is it portable? What does he do on the road to Cambridge?

Thanks in advance.

j.simmons  •  Link

It was not uncommon for women "en neglige" to receive, in their beds during the morning, male and female friends. The first gossip of the day. This might also occur while she was finishing her toilette, or dressing. Obviously an upper class pastime that precluded work of any sort.

Pauline  •  Link

Not uncommon, but....
Our man Pepys who lives in that time and culture when it is not uncommon methinks himself that Mr. Lucy is behaving uncommonly. Who is Mr. Lucy?

j.s.  •  Link

If Mr. Lucy is a Mr. and not a Miss, then he is being gallant at Mrs. Pierces' levee. It might have been a new experience for our Sam, the behavior of another "set" in an unusual setting. He is just starting out in this brave new world, facinated and taken aback at the same time.

sharon  •  Link

Mr. Lucy has been mentioned on Feb. 9 and Jan. 24. The earlier occasion was very jolly and our Mr. Pepys apparently did not wholly approve of Mr. Lucy or his purported wife. Minor stuff, but entertaining....
Let me suggest that, valuable as the (still developing) background pages are and will be, we also make use of the very nice Search feature that Phil has provided. Even in the few short weeks of the diary and the even shorter period of of the Search feature, my (shortest of all) memory has been jogged more than once.

Grahamt  •  Link

The use of the word "bait" for a meal taken while working/travelling was current among coal miners from the north east of England certainly in the 1980's, and probably still.

dkarang  •  Link

The Elusive Mr. Lucy
The way I read this is : Peppys goes to Pierces' house, wakes him up and they leave together. Mrs. Pierce is still in bed, wether he meets her or not. I get the impresion he finds this improper, reminding him of the Lucy affair by association.

Scott P. Smith  •  Link

I have read that today we spend just a very small fraction of our time acquiring food whereas in the past a much greater percentage of ones time was spent acquiring food. It is interested to me that Sam discusses food almost every day whereas I have rarely discussed food in my blog, with the exception of beer. I brew beer from time to time, and that makes it into my blog.

Dave Alexander  •  Link

The 'Foulmer' referred to is now known as Fowlmere, and the village is actually about 10 miles South of Cambridge, not the six Samuel thinks it is.

Glyn  •  Link

No particular hurry
The distance from London to Cambridge is less than 60 miles (90 km) but it takes Pepys the whole day. Is he travelling rather slowly or would that be right for a man on horseback? The weather was bad but the road was good (it must have been the old Roman road of Ermine Street)so if it wasn't an urgent trip why bother to leave at 7am - he could have waited a few hours and still got there before nightfall.

If he reached Ware at mid-day that must be well over halfway on the journey. I've only been through Ware a couple of times but I do remember it as having a very wide High Street which was built to accommodate all the stage coaches that passed through it. Shakespeare fans may recall a reference to "the great bed of Ware" which was built for a hotel here - it's now in the V&A Museum.

mary  •  Link

The road to Cambridge

Has Glyn ever tried long-distance horse-riding?

Pepys tells us that both the day and the road are foul, so that slows everything. The normal, walking gait of a horse is not hugely faster than that of the average man (3 mph) and no horse can be expected to trot or canter on foul roads for any length of time and certainly not for the length of this journey.

Pepys makes no mention of any change of horse en route, but does comment on his animal's great fatigue at the end of the day. I think that he (and the mare) did pretty well to get as far as they did in the day.

gerry  •  Link

I'm not sure if this should be in background,perhaps Phil can decide,but there is a great deal of information about the Speaker and a partial list at…

Keith Wright  •  Link

"Very jolly" indeed, Sharon, was the behavior of Mr. Lucy and his alleged bride on January 24th---others may recall that this is the couple pulling ribbons off each other, occasioning much speculation among the annotators. A brief paragraph on "Weddings" in the Diary Companion (p. 472) says "The untying or ribbons and garters was a survival of the older custom of undressing the bridegroom." (Well!) Other such gambits are described, concluding "These games were sometimes played at wedding anniversaries, or at parties as sheer romps." Mr. Lucy takes his fun where he finds it.

Phil  •  Link

Gerry, if it's about a person or thing or place that might come up at other points in the diary then it's a good candidate for going in Background Info.

If there is already a Background Info page for that person or thing then it would almost certainly be useful there. There is a page for the position of Speaker.

ardeth hines  •  Link

as a person who used to trail ride as a hobby, let me say that 40 miles of mountain trail would pretty well do in a rested horse and a sturdy rider. 60 miles on some sort of road is possible, but it would be quite tough. A rider spares his horse, and moves at no better than a walking pace in such a case; is there any reason to assume that our lad had good horses? at this point isn't he rather less than rich? And as to the early start: with little information about roads, baiting points, etc., starting early is the prudent course. . . .

Mary  •  Link

Question for Phil

Might it be helpful to have a background section for travel? For example, on roads.

Even the major roads between towns and cities, such as the road to Cambridge, were scarcely roads such as we know. No hard-top, but a well-trodden surface that could turn to a morass of mud in wet seasons, with horses and coaches becoming completely bogged down. In frosty weather one might find an iron-hard track of ruts and then, in summer, clouds of dust would be sent up from the dry and powdered surface.

Phil  •  Link

Sounds a good idea Mary, thanks.

For future reference though, please send such requests to me via email, as (a) I might miss it here and (b) it doesn't make for very interesting or relevant reading when someone looks at this page in a few days/months/years time.

Annotations should enrich the worth of the page they're posted to for future readers :)

David Quidnunc  •  Link

This day's entry is actually part of a single, two-day entry in the diary, according to the Latham & Matthews edition. The last sentence of this entry is simply followed by the next sentence, which relates what else happened on the morning of the 25th.

L&M actually have the date "25" in double angle brackets, which is L&M's method of telling the reader that Pepys wrote it in the margin of the diary (for an explanation see page cl in Vol. 1). Maybe Sam was rushing and forgot to mark it off into a second entry, or decided to make it a two-day entry and then changed his mind. In any event, it's a pretty irregular occurence in the diary of Mr. Regular.

L&M also add a little additional information to the last sentence of today's (half) entry. Compare this with the last sentence above (maybe the added information will appear at the top of tomorrow's installment):

". . . and we two came to Cambrige by 8 a-clock in the morning, to the Faulcon in the Petty Cury." [spelling as in L&M]

L&M have a note saying that the establishment on the south side of Petty Cury, "on the site now partly marked by Falcon Yard," was a large and reputedly the best of Cambridge's inns.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

A couple of notes from vague memories:

Mary says that Pepys made no mention of any change of horses.

"Riding post" meant changing horses at post-stations so as to have fresh ones and be able to make more haste ("post-haste"). As far as I see here, Pepys must make his whole journey with Mr. Garthwayte's mare and return the animal in some kind of reasonable condition.

When he says he "lay with Mr. Pierce" he very likely means just that. Shared beds were common in accommodations of the time.

Supposedly, "26 butchers and their wives" once spent a night in the Great Bed of Ware, which measured roughly 10 ft by 11 ft. I think they'd be crowded.

Derek  •  Link

Mr Lucy is clearly a ladies man and a bit of a hell-raiser. The January 24th entry seems to refer to a mock wedding between Mr Lucy and Mrs Carrick which offered a pretext for some suggestive behaviour which Sam and his wife found overstepped the mark. Today's entry suggests quite clearly to me that Mr Lucy is in Mrs Pierce's bedchamber at a very early hour and again attracting Sam's opprobrium. But who is he and how come he's there so soon after Mr Pierce's rising? Do Latham & Matthews have more light to cast?

Grahamt  •  Link

The Naughty Mr Lucy
Pepys only seems to meet Lucy when he is at the Pierces'. So Lucy is either a lodger or a close friend of Mr & Mrs Pierce. Sam thinks Mr Lucy is being over-familiar with Mrs Pierce ("very free") as she lay in bed, and gives the impression of being taken aback. After all, both Lucy and Mrs Pierce are married and her husband is still present but about to leave on a long journey. Is Mr Lucy someone you would leave alone with your wife, having read Sam's comments of Jan 24th?

Grahamt  •  Link

Ah, great minds think alike Derek! We both posted about the same time.

margaret  •  Link

For what it's worth, I heard "bait" frequently in my youth in the Ozarks. The meaning I inferred was enough food for a serving or a meal. It was used in the phrases, "enough for a bait," or "Give me a bait," meaning a decent amount for one person to make a meal on.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

The Portable Pepys

1) Pepys was getting out of smoky, smelly London and into the countryside. He probably noticed the fresher air, although I wonder if Westminster was quite as bad as London. Apparently a miasma of foul air often hung over London and even the surrounding area. The contrast between the smoky air inside an inn and the outside air was probably particularly striking. Would it have smelled of burning wood and not coal in the inns? None of this is important enough to Pepys to note in the diary.

2) The weather is bad, but Pepys doesn't say whether it was snowy or rainy or windy or particularly cold, which would give us a better idea of what kind of discomfort he felt. My guess is that if wind or cold really stood out, he would have mentioned it.

3) If this was an old Roman road he was traveling, would it have been less muddy? Relatively wide? I assume it would have been straighter and perhaps going up and down hills rather than around them. Can anyone tell us what these old Roman roads would have been like in the 17th century? And is this area at all hilly? Are there major rivers to cross?

4) We get no description of the scenery, which would have been much different from the built-up London/Westminster area he was used to. Pepys did get out to the park on nice days, and I assume the road from Westminster to London wasn't entirely built up, but this still would have been a big change in scenery. I know New Yorkers who get out into the suburbs on a (nonwinter) weekend often comment on how refreshing it is to see all the flora. Of course, this is the drab time of the year; and Pepys is jotting things down a day later and is probably rushed. I think it's fair to say he really just isn't interested in scenery, but we'll see what he comments on during the rest of this trip.

What Pepys seems most interested in -- even on a day as different as this -- is the company: The people he met with, ate with, played cards with, was "merry" with. And food rivals the itinerary as the second-most important subject. It's a movable feast.

5) Part of this journey was in the dark. At about what time is sunset and sunrise around London at this time of year? Despite the 10-day difference because of the calendar change, it couldn't have been much lighter for Pepys.

6) "I lay with Mr. Pierce" -- as likely as not, they were bedmates, a common practice.

Mary  •  Link

Sunrise, sunset

On Feb. 22nd 2003 the London sunrise was at 07.02h and sunset at 17.28h. Factor in the calendar change and the foul weather and I think we can be fairly sure that Pepys was setting out in the dark.

Andrea  •  Link

Travelling on horseback

I always wanted to know this and I am hoping that the 'fans of riding' can help out.

I can see that riding on horseback for 60 miles must be quite a lot, but would you go and visit a friend for the day who lives 20 miles away? how long would that take?

Is it normal that Pepys is not taking a coach?

Pauline  •  Link

By horse must be faster
Sam's brother John left yesterday, most likely by coach with all his books and stuff. Looks like Sam can leave a day later and be there in time to settle his brother in. Not easy to take "personal days" off when the future of the country (and your career) is unfolding in the halls and the streets and the taverns?

Judy  •  Link

Bait. When I lived in the Herefordshire/Gloucestershire area it was not unusual for bulders 10am (or there abouts) break to be refered to as 'time for bait' or they 'stopped for a bit of bait'. It would seem that the word is still in use and with the same meaning

michael f vincent  •  Link

baited: do we not use the word with fish ?; bait the line in order to catch a tiddler;
For those of you who have never seen english weather, google "fowlmere" or

see pictures of foulmer in winter
first goto "about fowlmere " then "fowlmere in winter"
glad i live california

as for horse travel he left at 7am arrived at Puckeridge about 12; the route is along the old A10 now a 1170 then b1368 is my best guess from multi

language hat  •  Link

"he really just isn’t interested in scenery”:
It’s my impression that nobody in the 17th century was interested in scenery; isn’t that one of the defining features of early romanticism, the sudden fascination with hills and dales and the “picturesque”? I think in earlier times scenery was just something you got through as quickly as possible, hoping to avoid bugs and bandits.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

RE: scenery

Good point, LH. I'm not a city dweller, and I can't answer this from personal experience, but does the satisfaction that city dwellers say they feel with the change of scenery from city to country seem like it could be entirely a culturally constructed thing?

I think there are all sorts of basic satisfactions out there that people feel at all times in history, but cultures have a way of making some seem important enough to recognize, think about and comment on -- and some not. I would expect those universal satisfactions to break through in a diary like Pepys's, even if only as a hint.

Pepys does enjoy his pleasures, and I think he mentioned the weather being particularly nice one day. I read somewhere that he sometimes commented on paintings he saw as "pretty" but that's about as far as he would go in describing his reaction. It wouldn't surprise me to see some similar comment on the countryside he passes through -- even if his reaction is that the countryside is dreary.

What's interesting is not so much that there's no aesthetic reaction, but that there's no recognition at all that he's in different surroundings with different things to see and experience. He might mention that the roads are better or worse than he'd seen before, or that there are more or fewer travelers on them. Was the bed comfortable at the inn? Did the saddle leave him sore? Did he seek out a particular tavern to stop at? Some recognition in some way that, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas City any more." Something. Anything.

His account reads like he's in a particularly northerly neighborhood of London. If the city actually extended right up to Cambridge, his account wouldn't read any differently. It's surprising to see someone who enjoys such a wide variety of things in life limiting his attention so much on this trip.

Here are some reasons for this: He's made the journey a number of times before, and there's nothing surprising about it at all. His attention and pleasure is largely centered on conversation, cards and food (we're missing music and not much else here). Winter in the country is particularly dull for a city boy.

This trip isn't over, and there are other trips. We'll see what his reactions are later.

Grahamt  •  Link

London in 1660 was compact, with countryside within walking distance of Axe yard. It could be that Pepys doesn't comment on the countryside because it is so familiar to him. He makes frequent trips to Hinchingbroke and studied at Cambridge so is presumably familiar with the route. As we know "familiarity breeds contempt".
As for the weather: "February fill-dyke" was what my grandparents called it. The wettest time of the year, not the gentle showers of April, but cold biting rain, often sleet, that stings your eyes, makes your head and face ache and soaks you to the bone. Foul weather indeed.

Laura K  •  Link


As a city dweller (and a happy one), I don't believe the relief felt when moving from city to country is a modern cultural construct. It seems too visceral and palable to me. I'm sure I've read such emotions expressed, say, in Dickens, and related perfectly to the character's feelings.

While it's true that familiarity can breed contempt, it's also true that there are certain sights and feelings one never grows tired of or inured to.
Urban conditions being what they were in Pepys' time, I'd be surprised if Sam didn't feel any of that.

My point is that I don't think we should assume that because Pepys doesn't mention something, he didn't experience it or doesn't care about it. Not every thought and feeling is going to make it into the diary - especially if, as some have suggested, he's writing these entries several days after the fact, based on memory.

We can explicate much based on what's here, but I don't think we should make too many assumptions based on what's *not* here.

Patrick G  •  Link

"His account reads like he’s in a particularly northerly neighborhood of London. If the city actually extended right up to Cambridge, his account wouldn’t read any differently. It’s surprising to see someone who enjoys such a wide variety of things in life limiting his attention so much on this trip.”

I’ve often called my own university-town Chicagoland’s farthest suburb (100-some miles to the south) because many of the students were from Chicago suburbs.

The scenery whizzed by in a car is a change from Chicago’s suburbs in that its very rural (cornfields, farm houses, abandoned barns, and small towns that barely qualify as hamlets) but the novelty fades quickly…lots of cornfields and farm houses end up being very boring.

SP has a shorter distance to cover, but the rural scenery doesn’t change as rapidly. He’s probably done this trip several times before. So is it surprising that he doesn’t see fit to commit the scenic highlights, or lack thereof, to his diary ?

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

Language Hat wrote

It’s my impression that nobody in the 17th century was interested in scenery; isn’t that one of the defining features of early romanticism, the sudden fascination with hills and dales and the “picturesque”?

The “picturesque,” yes - the wild, mountainous, rugged and so forth. But an appreciation for the country air, flowers, birds, good weather etc. is typical of earlier times as well, I’d say - see Chaucer, or some of the “Carmina Burana.”

It’s a February Fill-Dyke day here, as I write (annotating the previous day and wondering if anyone will read it).

chris leadbeater  •  Link

Good descriptions of the English countryside can be found in 'The natural history of Selborne' by Gilbert White [1720-1793, I know it is 100 years later but the pace of change was slow!!! The link below is to project Guttenberg where SP stuff can be found as well. If you havn't read Gilbert White, you are missing a treat but it is arcadia NOT high politics

nick sweeney  •  Link

To get a sense of the route that Pepys took: he headed out of London on the 'Old North Road', which was built on the Roman road called Ermine Street for the stretch up to Royston, and is now known as the A10:…

Puckeridge, where Pepys 'baited', was obviously an important point on the road for travellers, because it's halfway between London and Cambridge. In fact, it features as a starting point for two of Ogilby's maps in his 'Britannia', the first recognisible road atlas, which was published in 1675. Ogilby notes to travellers that the roads to Cambridge are often subject to flooding in winter, which may account for Pepys' slow progress.…


The A10 now bypasses the village, which means that its historical role as a waypoint, probably extending back to Roman times, is now barely remembered.

language hat  •  Link

From an online discussion of romanticism (… ):

"Basic to the romantic movement was the concern with nature and natural surroundings. Delight in unspoiled scenery and in the (presumably) innocent life of rural dwellers is perhaps first recognizable as a literary theme in such a work as "The Seasons" (1726-1730), by Scottish poet James Thomson. The work is commonly cited as a formative influence on later English romantic poetry and on the nature tradition represented in English literature, most notably by Wordsworth. Often combined with this feeling for rural life is a generalized romantic melancholy, a sense that change is imminent and that a way of life is being threatened."

I would warn everyone against assuming that because they feel something strongly it cannot be a modern cultural construct. Many things that are so strongly ingrained in us we take them for granted are much more recent than we may think. People in the 17th century thought and felt very differently than us about many things.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

It's true that attitudes change,
but it's also true that some emotions and ideas are so universal that they aren't affected by historical period.

As a rule of thumb, I'd guess that basic emotions and feelings ("Sunsets are pretty!" "I HATE spinach!") tend to be universal (that is, they occur again and again with little, if any, regard for what historic period we're looking at), while more complex ideas ("Racism is awful!" "People outside our tribe are nonhumans." "the noble savage" "beautiful nature, untouched by man" "Ska is da bomb!" ) are subject to a kind of "fashion."

What I was hoping to find in Pepys diary wasn't so much a complex appreciation of nature (especially not in foul, wintery weather) as some kind of recorded reaction to the fact that he's in a different environment.

John Evelyn's diary is almost always less useful than Pepys, but he beats Pepys for travel writing. In the summer of 1654, Evelyn and his wife, Mary, toured the English countryside, and his diary entries read like the jottings on the back of modern postcards. (Yes, it's unfair to compare a summer tourist with a winter trip -- but compare Pepys on 27 Feb with the Evelyn quote I put up on the Saffron Walden place page. Both men savor the place; Evelyn's appreciation is better recorded.)

Evelyn does appreciate the beauty of his surroundings, but, just as Language Hat says, it's not quite the same appreciation of nature that we get starting in the next century. And yet it can come pretty close (he loved to get up on tall prospects and see the countryside -- that's close to Romanticism; and you can practically feel the ache he felt on this trip when he comments on the puritan destruction of beautiful objects in cathedrals):

[1 Aug] "We set out towards Worcester, by the way (thick planted with Cider-fruit) we deviate to the holy Wells trickling out of a Vally, thro a steepe declivity toward the foote of greate-Maubern hills [ . . . ] Ascending a greate height above them, to the Trench dividing England from South Wales we had the Prospect of all Hereford shire, Radnor, Brecknock, Monmouth, Worcester, Glocester, Shropshire, Warwick, Derby-shire, & many more: We could discern Tewxbery, Kings-rode towards Bristol &c so as I esteeme it one of the goodliest Vista's in England."

[3 Aug] "We pass'd next thro Warwick, & saw the Castle, which is built on an eminent rock, which gives prospect into a most goodly greene: a Woody & plentifully Watred Country; the river running so delightfully under it, that it may passe for one of the most surprizing seates one should meete with . . ."

Appreciation of natural beauty -- at a basic level -- is one of those universal emotions.

Django Cat  •  Link

Looking out of the window at the February English countryside as I write this (albeit 100 or so miles further North), I certainly wouldn't want to get on a horse and spend 13 hours riding 60 miles across it. To be fair the countryside in England in February is pretty depressing; I imagine Pepys would pass a lot of damp and smelly farmyards with ragged people mucking out and talking about turnips. There also isn't anything especially wonderful on the route through Essex and Cambridgeshire he took anyway - it's pretty dull landscape today and would have been in Sam's day. This is all a far call from Evelyn standing heroically on the Malverns breathing fresh country air and taking in the noble prospect. (Evelyn must have had exceptionally good eyesight to see Derbyshire from there, but no matter). Another point is that with animals herded into the city, and fields for grazing in urban areas, there would have been less of a distinctiion in Pepys day between town and country than there is today. I should imagine our lad pulled his hat down against the weather and got through the tideous and tiring journey to Cambridge without giving much thought as to the scenery. This is, partly, a business trip after all, and business is what Sam is interested in.

George Peabody  •  Link

If "appreciation of natural beauty is one of those universal emotions", why do we have to struggle so hard to keep vandals - in all ages - from destroying it for personal gratification or economic profit? Also keep in mind that Evelyn is a patrician owner of landed estates, a designer of gardens, and a partisan of trees and forests: his outlook may not be typical of his times

Laura K  •  Link

cultural context vs universal emotions

What Language Hat says is very true - just because we feel something strongly doesn't mean it's not a cultural construct. Similarly, there are certainly emotions that are universal - that becomes obvious when we read great literature from another era.

I personally wouldn't suggest that appreciation for nature is a universal emotion. (And why people destroy things for profit is another question entirely. Greed is a powerful motivator.)

I would, however, suggest that moving from a congested urban environment to an open, green environment would be a distinct and noticeable change to anyone, from any time. Perhaps how that person perceived the change would be as much down to the individual as his or her culture, I think. But there's no way a perceptive man like Pepys didn't notice the change.

I just think we shouldn't assume that because Pepys didn't write about something, he therefore didn't care about it. It seems to me a statement like "17th Century people didn't care about scenery" (to paraphrase) is too broad to be accurately applied to a person's reactions as they move through their day.

Mary  •  Link

Country vs. Town

Surely the principal difference between town and country that affects Sam on this journey is the state of the road. In town he can ride on a prepared surface; cross-country in foul weather he has to pay a great deal of attention to the path that his horse takes between ruts, puddles (possibly deep)and other likely obstacles. Unless his mount is unusually intelligent, he cannot simply sit on its back and expect it to find a trouble-free route along the highway for itself. The more tired the horse grows, the more attention the rider needs to pay.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Pepys' shortcomings as a writer...

In comparison to the older and better educated Evelyn, Sam's not much good at physical descriptions, either of natural settings or of buildings--viz his vs. Evelyn's accounts of their respective tours of Saffron Walden (Feb. 27 diary and annotations).

Sam's value is his overriding interest in other people and in his quotidian meanderings, which consistently reveal a quasi-Hogarthian narrational pastiche of life on the teeming streets and in the smoky taverns of the City, all the while chronicling the minutiae of diet, dress, commerce, household banalities and social habits.

Pauline  •  Link

Cultural Constructs and Our Strong Feelings
Yet, when it comes to the spiritual, the religious, it seems like we are at the same place with Sam and those around him. This has somehow remained immutable over these many decades. A basic question/concern that hasn't changed as much as our relationship to what we "see."

Laura K  •  Link

Pauline writes:

"Yet, when it comes to the spiritual, the religious, it seems like we are at the same place with Sam and those around him. This has somehow remained immutable over these many decades."

This is a huge assumption. It doesn't hold true for me or many other people. Sam's religious life is as foreign to me as the restoration of the monarchy.

bored  •  Link

Allowing for the calendar being different from the modern one, sunrise in London on the 4th. March (modern calendar) is 6.40am, and sunset 5.45pm. I often wake up early, and can tell you that it gets light enough to see at least half-an-hour earlier than the sunrise, or before. London is at about 51 degrees I think: twilights and dawns last a lot longer than they are further south. So Pepys perhaps left home when it was light enough to see, even light enough to read.

In Pepys time people may have seen the countryside with all the joy that we now see a Business Park (I am being ironic).

Regarding David Quidnunc remark that some emotions are basic and others not: I do not think there is any objective dividing line between the two, and that he is therefore making a personal and hence cultural choice as to what is or is not a basic emotion.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Re: "Universal emotions"

What I mean by that term is not that every single person everywhere actually does feel it, but each of us CAN feel it no matter what historical period or culture we belong to. Therefore, to answer George Peabody's post ("If appreciation..." 27 Feb 1:15pm), appreciation of natural beauty can be a universal emotion coexisting with vandalism.

At some level, I think we all believe that universal emotions exist -- that any normal human can feel fear or satisfaction or dissatisfaction of some kind. Bored says ("allowing for..." 1 Mar 3:48pm) that the idea that some emotions are basic and others aren't is a "personal and hence cultural choice as to what is or is not a basic emotion." If Bored is completely correct on that, it doesn't change anything for our purposes. With regard to love of natural beauty for instance, the Evelyn quotes prove that people in Pepys's society experienced that emotion -- so, since at least 1654 it works just the same way as a universal emotion.

What matters here is whether or not we can feel some of he same things as Pepys and vice versa. That's important because it gives us a tool for understanding him, and it's even more important because it gives us a tool for understanding ourselves better by reflecting on Pepys. "Universal emotion" is a term used in literary criticism (Google has more than 850 citations for it, by the way). Laura K is absolutely right ("Cultural context..." 27 Feb 1:47pm) to link it to great literature -- in fact, without universal emotions, any classics would just be ponderous historical documents and outdated literature.

Pauline ("Cultural constructs..." 28 Feb 3:34pm) links universal emotions to spiritual states, pointing out that Pepys's spiritual life sounds like ours. Laura K (the post immediately following) objects, saying many people have much different spiritual lives. Well, you're both right -- isn't that the way spiritual life works? Many of us go through similar spiritual states and not everybody goes through all of them. How could it be otherwise? You can still find Augustine's "Confessions" and C.S. Lewis's "Surprised by Joy" in bookstores and libraries because they have felt at least some of what we feel and can teach us something about it.

Pauline  •  Link

"...many people have much different spiritual lives..."
I wasn't clear enough to not be misread. I was thinking Sam and what we are seeing of his spiritual life AND what we are reading and annotating about the different spiritual lives around him. "Universal emotion," I needed the term, thanks.

michael f vincent  •  Link

cultural context vs universal emotions..I think we are the some total of all our experiences modifying our genetic makeup. One finds it very hard to understand that when two people read or see the same items they get different results; The eternal argument of blood versus nuture will be ongoing for some time. The 17th century was the awakening years ..kings perogatives, Roundheads,Rump, levellers, shakers et al. the slave trade,Taxes, Merchants, escaping to start the Americas. Should we trade or take it. Make it Legal and what was right or profitable, SP is wonderful way to see thru ones mans eyes the world of change.
travel: old england vs new england
I have done both England on foot and bike in muddy english weather very dreeery, New England after a snow fall fantastic?

michael f vincent  •  Link

Weather Essex nw- September v Febuary. Harvest time, plenty of scrumpy ; v
damp cold chill eats ones bones;
Who? could enjoy the view, drizzle or mist most of the time (spring is not in the air yet, the hares not a racing)against harvest time when every body is ready to go dancing .
Evelyn sees a different country side from poor SP on a mission.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Basic or universal emotions
I hope this isn't getting too far afield from Pepys, but Paul Ekman's research provides compelling evidence that there are in fact basic or universal emotions, and facial expressions that accompany them, in all human cultures. You can read a couple of his papers summarizing his work at…
The facial expressions paper includes interesting photos to document the claims.

Bored  •  Link

I woke up at 5.54am today the 4th. March, about the same in the modern calendar as the 24th. February in Pepys time, and it was already light enough to avoid bumping into things with the cutains opened. I guess it would have been just light enough to get dressed and move around without a light for at least 10 or 20 minutes earlier to a dark-adjusted eye. It became light enough to read at 6.12am. However dawn today was not until 6.40am according to this…

So Pepys would have left home in light, but not in sunshine.

I think its very dangerous if someone imagines that their individual emotional responce to something is a universal emotional responce that all people, or all 'good' people, have - this has been associated with the far-right in history and more recently.

Bored  •  Link

.....this site… says that morning Nautical Twilight starts at 5h29m today in southern outer London, so it should have become light enough to avoid bumping into things a few minutes later. People from the south who are not familiar with long northern twilights may want to read this… (although strangely it say winter begins on 21st. December, when almost everyone in England would regard this date as being the middle of winter, and today's date being during spring).

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Re: travelling modes & times; From T.B. Macaulay's "State of England in 1685":…

...Public carriages had recently been much improved. During the years which immediately followed the Restoration, a diligence ran between London and Oxford in two days.

The passengers slept at Beaconsfield. At length, in the spring of 1669, a great and daring innovation was attempted. It was announced that a vehicle, described as the Flying Coach, would perform the whole journey between sunrise and sunset. This spirited undertaking was solemnly considered and sanctioned by the Heads of the University, and appears to have excited the same sort of interest which is excited in our own time by the opening of a new railway.

The Vicechancellor, by a notice affixed in all public places, prescribed the hour and place of departure. The success of the experiment was complete. At six in the morning the carriage began to move from before the ancient front of All Souls College; and at seven in the evening the adventurous gentlemen who had run the first risk were safely deposited at their inn in London.

The emulation of the sister University was moved; and soon a diligence was set up which in one day carried passengers from Cambridge to the capital.

At the close of the reign of Charles the Second flying carriages ran thrice a week from London to the chief towns. But no stage coach, indeed no stage waggon, appears to have proceeded further north than York, or further west than Exeter.

The ordinary day's journey of a flying coach was about fifty miles in the summer; but in winter, when the ways were bad and the nights long, little more than thirty. The Chester coach, the York coach, and the Exeter coach generally reached London in four days during the fine season, but at Christmas not till the sixth day.

The passengers, six in number, were all seated in the carriage. For accidents were so frequent that it would have been most perilous to mount the roof. The ordinary fare was about twopence halfpenny a mile in summer, and somewhat more in winter.

This mode of travelling, which by Englishmen of the present day would be regarded as insufferably slow, seemed to our ancestors wonderfully and indeed alarmingly rapid. In a work published a few months before the death of Charles the Second, the flying coaches are extolled as far superior to any similar vehicles ever known in the world....

...In spite of the attractions of the flying coaches, it was still usual for men who enjoyed health and vigour, and who were not encumbered by much baggage, to perform long journeys on horseback. If the traveller wished to move expeditiously he rode post. Fresh saddle horses and guides were to be procured at convenient distances along all the great lines of road.

The charge was threepence a mile for each horse, and fourpence a stage for the guide. In this manner, when the ways were good, it was possible to travel, for a considerable time, as rapidly as by any conveyance known in England, till vehicles were propelled by steam. There were as yet no post chaises; nor could those who rode in their own coaches ordinarily procure a change of horses.

The King, however, and the great officers of state were able to command relays. Thus Charles commonly went in one day from Whitehall to New-market, a distance of about fifty-five miles through a level country; and this was thought by his subjects a proof of great activity.

Evelyn performed the same journey in company with the Lord Treasurer Clifford. The coach was drawn by six horses, which were changed at Bishop Stortford and again at Chesterford. The travellers reached Newmarket at night. Such a mode of conveyance seems to have been considered as a rare luxury confined to princes and ministers.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Macaulay on 17th century social alienation owing to the fearsome and chaotic state of the roads, due to parochial taxation policies:

The chief cause which made the fusion of the different elements of society so imperfect was the extreme difficulty which our ancestors found in passing from place to place. Of all inventions, the alphabet and the printing press alone excepted, those inventions which abridge distance have done most for the civilisation of our species. Every improvement of the means of locomotion benefits mankind morally and intellectually as well as materially, and not only facilitates the interchange of the various productions of nature and art, but tends to remove national and provincial antipathies, and to bind together all the branches of the great human family. In the seventeenth century the inhabitants of London were, for almost every practical purpose, farther from Reading than they now are from Edinburgh, and farther from Edinburgh than they now are from Vienna....

...It was by the highways that both travellers and goods generally passed from place to place; and those highways appear to have been far worse than might have been expected from the degree of wealth and civilisation which the nation had even then attained. On the best lines of communication the ruts were deep, the descents precipitous, and the way often such as it was hardly possible to distinguish, in the dusk, from the unenclosed heath and fen which lay on both sides.

Ralph Thorseby, the antiquary, was in danger of losing his way on the great North road, between Barnby Moor and Tuxford, and actually lost his way between Doncaster and York. Pepys and his wife, travelling in their own coach, lost their way between Newbury and Reading. In the course of the same tour they lost their way near Salisbury, and were in danger of having to pass the night on the plain.

It was only in fine weather that the whole breadth of the road was available for wheeled vehicles. Often the mud lay deep on the right and the left; and only a narrow track of firm ground rose above the quagmire. At such times obstructions and quarrels were frequent, and the path was sometimes blocked up during a long time by carriers, neither of whom would break the way. It happened, almost every day, that coaches stuck fast, until a team of cattle could be procured from some neighbouring farm, to tug them out of the slough. But in bad seasons the traveller had to encounter inconveniences still more serious.

Thoresby, who was in the habit of travelling between Leeds and the capital, has recorded, in his Diary, such a series of perils and disasters as might suffice for a journey to the Frozen Ocean or to the Desert of Sahara. On one occasion he learned that the floods were out between Ware and London, that passengers had to swim for their lives, and that a higgler had perished in the attempt to cross. In consequence of these tidings he turned out of the high road, and was conducted across some meadows, where it was necessary for him to ride to the saddle skirts in water. In the course of another journey ....' ventured to proceed only because fourteen members of the House of Commons, who were going up in a body to Parliament with guides and numerous attendants, took him into their company....

...In some parts of Kent and Sussex, none but the strongest horses could, in winter, get through the bog, in which, at every step, they sank deep.

The markets were often inaccessible during several months. It is said that the fruits of the earth were sometimes suffered to rot in one place, while in another place, distant only a few miles, the supply fell far short of the demand. The wheeled carriages were, in this district, generally pulled by oxen....

One chief cause of the badness of the roads seems to have been the defective state of the law. Every parish was bound to repair the highways which passed through it. The peasantry were forced to give their gratuitous labour six days in the year. If this was not sufficient, hired labour was employed, and the expense was met by a parochial rate.

That a route connecting two great towns, which have a large and thriving trade with each other, should be maintained at the cost of the rural population scattered between them is obviously unjust; and this injustice was peculiarly glaring in the case of the great North road, which traversed very poor and thinly inhabited districts, and joined very rich and populous districts.

Indeed it was not in the power of the parishes of Huntingdonshire to mend a high-way worn by the constant traffic between the West Riding of Yorkshire and London.

Soon after the Restoration this grievance attracted the notice of Parliament; and an act, the first of our many turnpike acts, was passed imposing a small toll on travellers and goods, for the purpose of keeping some parts of this important line of communication in good repair. This innovation, however, excited many murmurs; and the other great avenues to the capital were long left under the old system.

mark philip jones  •  Link

I recently spoke to someone about the "Chequer" at "Foulmer". As I grew up there, and often played in the pub as a child, he suggested I add to your excellent website.

The Chequers was, and remains a privately-owned Inn in Fowlmere, a village about four miles from Royston, and eight from Cambridge, wedged between the A10 and A505.

The village gets its name from the wetlands that used to surround it. A small percentage of these remain, conserved by the RSPB at the nearby bird reserve.

The Chequers stands on the High Street. Until quite recently, it was one of four pubs, although two have since closed. It's a wonderful building, and well worth visiting. I think it's originally Elizabethan, although it was substantially rebuilt in the late 1600s.

The main bar today looks much as it would have then. It certainly isn't hard to imagine the scene encountered by Mr. Pepys.

Entering through the front door, ahead of you is the bar, above which remains a Priest's Hole: this is (naturally) unnoticeable unless opened, revealing a very tight corner in which outlawed Catholic priests were concealed during Cromwell's Commonwealth.

To your right is a fantastic fireplace. Fowlmere in February 1659 would have been pretty bleak; I can't imagine the card game would have happened anywhere but in front of this hearth.

The Inn is now a very good restaurant (you can probably even order veal from the menu!). Quite a large building,with the ground floor divided into four dining areas, modern additions to the interior include a minstrel-gallery, and a conservatory.

The latter is amusingly named the Jeffrey Archer Room. Lord Archer, a resident of Grantchester, Cambridge (when he's not 'banged up', that is), used to dine at the Chequers a lot. However, most Fowlmerians are keener to stress the Pepys conncection, these days!

The pub also displays its links to the American airforce, who stationed at the airfield at the top of Fowlmere's one and only hill, during WWII.

As I said earlier, it's a lovely building. I went to school with the current landlord's son, Ashley, during the 1980s, so I am priviledged to know it well. I certainly remember us playing with a spinning top in front of the fire; and watching Stars Wars on video, upstairs (in the same rooms where Pepys and Pierce lay...?)

The village can also be quite interesting to the visitor. As well as the airbase links (at the top of Manor Farm Hill), the village also boasts a Medieval Moat in the woods at the centre of the (cunningly-named) Round Moat housing estate; as well as a secret tunnel, linking the Manor House to two of the cottages opposite. This too dates from the days of Catholic persecution.

For authentic atmosphere, February is obviously the time to visit, although, summer is more practical - there isn't a great deal to do or see in the village on a rainy day. Oh, except to sit by the barside fire, and quaff endless ales...

For true rustic charm, try and catch Fowlmere's annual "Fun Day": witness the delights of beer-barrel racing, and the sight of farmers getting staggeringly drunk in the superb Queen's Head.

Hm, writing all this makes me a little homesick! I'd better stop.

Hope that I haven't rambled on for too long, and that this is of a little interest to you. Any related enquiries, please don't hesitate to contact me at

Pedro.  •  Link

"as far as Foulmer"

Foulmer, (also Foulmire) and present day Foulmere.

Go to Foulmere site, and tourist info, and it gives an interesting story of the nearby Royston Cave.

And the Chequers Inn still there:
However the latched door opens onto an interior that is Elizabethan.
The diarist Samuel Pepys stopped here in 1660. ’My mare being almost tired we lay at the Chequer playing cards till supper’, he wrote…

Ceinwyn5  •  Link

Puckeridge is still here, and the pub where Pepys stayed, now the Crown and Falcon still exists, until 15 years ago you could stay in the Pepys bedroom.

We are currently the marker point between the A120 (Harwich road) and the A10 (the great Cambridge Road) this is a very important junction, and we are still very much remembered. Although the village is by-passed it's shape as a coaching stop is practically unchanged, and it is easy to see any of the old roads which have fallen into disuse.

During Roman times, there was a fort at the top of the village, (Skeleton Green) where a number of Roman remains have been found, and the name of the village refers to the devil like inhabitants of the 'ridge' which runs along the village, during this period.

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

"a Priest's Hole ... in which outlawed Catholic priests were concealed during Cromwell's Commonwealth."

In fact, most Priest's holes were constructed before the Commonwealth. The laws against priests were first passed under Elizabeth I, and most rigorously enforced under James I & VI after the Gunpowder Plot.…

Tripleransom  •  Link

Pepys is using bait here in the sense of pause or stop as in "we waited with bated breath". We're more used to seeing the spelling "bate" (or abate) , rather than "bait" which means "lure" to most of us, when used in this sense.

However, Pepy's spelling still survives in foxhunting language "I paused to bait my hounds" (let them rest a minute).

John York  •  Link

@ Tripleransom
Baited is being used here in the sense of stopping for food
Oxford English Dictionary II 7 "Of Travellers : To stop at an inn, orig to feed the horses, but later also to rest and refresh themselves"
This useage is still current in the rural parts of Yorkshire in the sense of the food taken in the morning break. I think it is the food element that is important here, the derivation is from bite.

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

Quite a discussion 20 years ago for a short diary entry, regarding the question of whether the appreciation of the beauty of nature and rural landscapes is a culturally constructed dating from a later point in time, and not prevalent in Sam's day.

For a historically and geographically sweeping treatise on this question (phrased as: "When we see landscape, do we see nature or culture?"), I commend Simon Schama's 1995 book, Landscape and Memory.

LKvM  •  Link

Regarding Bored's discussion of visibility at the time of Sam's early departure, he says that at that hour it was already light, but Sam was not "in sunshine." Bored uses the term "morning Nautical Twilight" for this interim condition.
In German it is the Morgendämmerung, or "morning twilight," and although I've been sailing for sixty years, I never knew until now that there was a British English equivalent, "morning Nautical Twilight," for this important period of the day for sailors.
In the States we just call it "first light," and when cruising that's when we get going.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

People did appreciate a lovely view -- look where the nobility built their houses. And then they groomed the view by planting trees, dropping the driveway into hahas, etc.

And the people above who expected Pepys to appreciate the February farmlands, clearly they have never riden a horse in the country in pouring rain. It is a cold, miserable experience, even when wearing 20th century rainwear, and all you're looking at is the way ahead, guessing how deep the next puddle might be, and looking to see if there is a dryer way around it.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

MEANWHILE, at Court -- I think they were at Breda at this time:

"When on 24 February Lady Willoughby de Broke told [Charles' adviser and later Earl of Clarendon, Edward] Hyde that Ashley Cooper was 'his Majesty's fast friend', Hyde replied tartly that this was the first he had heard of it."
-- Antonia Fraser, "Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration," 1979, pp 170

Robert Boyle; a biography
By Masson, Flora, Publication date 1914…

Early in 1660, Gen. George Monck in England and Sir Charles Coote and Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill in Ireland were in communication with Charles Stuart. Broghill's letter to Charles was carried to Breda by Francis "Frank" Boyle [later Viscount Shannon, as he married Elizabeth "Black Betty" Killigrew and brought up one of Charles' many illigitimate daughters]: it is said to have been in Charles II's hands before Monck's emissary had done his work.

Broghill's proposal was that Charles II should first land in Ireland.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

No, I think Flora Masson is wrong; I prefer to believe the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. They are in Brussels:

At Monck's suggestion Charles II left Brussels for Dutch territory, freeing himself from the importunities of the Spanish and the French concerning his future policy towards Dunkirk and Portugal. On 4 April 1660 Charles II arrived at Breda …

In Ireland the Restoration had proceeded largely independently of, and even a little before, that in England. Having secured power at the end of 1659, a group of Cromwellian army officers, Sir Theophilus Jones, Sir Charles Coote, and Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill, had opened negotiations with Charles II well before Monck had done, and in February 1660 called together a convention in Dublin. It declared for Charles II, who was proclaimed on 14 May.…

Jeremy Buck  •  Link

Readers may like to know that, 20 years after Mark Philip Jones' comment, the Chequers at Fowlmere is still open for business--unlike many other English pubs and inns which have closed. I don't see roast veal on their current menu, but they do offer traditional dishes such as roast beef, steak pie and fish & chips...! But they don't offer overnight accommodation...

StanB  •  Link

I find it intriging that both MartinVT and Jeremy Buck comment on the Annotators from 20 years ago commentating on Sam from over 350 years ago
Phil you have created a monster
I think forward 100 years and imagine some commenting on me, commenting on, well you get the picture

Ensign Tom  •  Link

"I rode to Mr. Pierces, who rose, and ... leaving his wife in bed (with whom Mr. Lucy methought was very free as she lay in bed) ..."

I wonder if Pepys was familiar with the term, "The pot calling the kettle black." According to Wikipedia, the phrase was first known in English from a 1620 translation of "Don Quixote" by a certain Thomas Shelton. There was also a subsequent variation that went, "The pot calls the pan burnt-arse," which I kind of prefer for its earthiness of expression.

Ashley Smith  •  Link

By far my favourite days annotations so far.
It's taken me two 'end of work days' to read it all.
Just a tiny point about the 'view' that Sam doesn't seem to comment on. Apart from the other valid reasons, I'm wondering if the view at that time was mainly of trees, woods and forest.
At one time much of the UK would have been covered in forest, limiting many views, especially on flatter ground. Apart from villages and towns, the view might have just been very similar.
Fields and hedgerows that we know now would have been rarer back then, surely?
Does anyone know what was the field/forest ratio was back then? The population was only just over 5 million. A lot less mouths to feed and therefore land used for agriculture.

Ensign Tom  •  Link

I don’t think we should make too much of the fact that Pepys doesn’t give a description of the countryside he’s riding through on this trip out of London. The main thing to remember about Sam is that from an early age he had an urge to write, as Claire Tomalin points out in her biography of the diarist when she refers to the romance novel he started at the age of twenty but later destroyed. The same youth who had witnessed the public execution of Charles I in 1649 was now, at the Restoration, a young man on the fringe of historic events. I think Pepys realized that keeping a contemporary record of his observations would be invaluable to himself—perhaps he imagined devoting his later years to a Life & Times autobiography—as well as to posterity. He might not be producing a literary masterpiece, but keeping a diary, even in shorthand, at least scratched his itch to write.

Sometimes I detect a certain subversive note in Pepys’ diary, a desire to take the mickey out of the assorted lords and gentry to whom he was now in service. The Great Men around him would no doubt write their own self-glorifying accounts of the end of the Commonwealth and the Return of the King, but who else but the tailor’s son would bother to record what the Duke of York looked like in his nightshirt, or what King Charles had for breakfast on the morning of his return to England, or that one of the King’s spaniels pooped in the bottom of the boat while the royal party was being rowed ashore that May morning of 1660.

So I think that in Pepys’ mind, there was no need to record the scenery of his trip; it would always be there for him to see. But details as to who accompanied him on the trip, where they stopped, what they ate, and what the weather was like, these ephemeral facts were important to write down as a way of capturing the moments on the page before they were lost to memory and to history.

I can’t find the quote right now, but I recall that the other great Samuel, Samuel Johnson, once said to James Boswell that it was important for historians to describe, not only the accomplishments of historical figures, but also their appearance, personal habits, and idiosyncrasies of character so as to bring them fully alive for readers. I’m pretty sure Samuel Pepys would have agreed.

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