Monday 31 December 1660

At the office all the morning and after that home, and not staying to dine I went out, and in Paul’s Church-yard I bought the play of “Henry the Fourth,” and so went to the new Theatre (only calling at Mr. Crew’s and eat a bit with the people there at dinner) and saw it acted; but my expectation being too great, it did not please me, as otherwise I believe it would; and my having a book, I believe did spoil it a little.

That being done I went to my Lord’s, where I found him private at cards with my Lord Lauderdale and some persons of honour. So Mr. Shepley and I over to Harper’s, and there drank a pot or two, and so parted. My boy taking a cat home with him from my Lord’s, which Sarah had given him for my wife, we being much troubled with mice.

At Whitehall inquiring for a coach, there was a Frenchman with one eye that was going my way, so he and I hired the coach between us and he set me down in Fenchurch Street. Strange how the fellow, without asking, did tell me all what he was, and how he had ran away from his father and come into England to serve the King, and now going back again.

Home and to bed.

46 Annotations

First Reading

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Probably Henry IV, Part I

L&M say Killigrew's company staged Part I, according to one source. There were nine editions of the play published since Shakespeare wrote it in 1598 and 1639.

Just today, a friend of mine arranged to stay with me when he visits New York to see a current performance of the play (combination of Parts 1 & 2, as it's usually presented nowadays) at Lincoln Center. Some things change, some remain the same. Apparently, chimes at midnight are part of one of the plays -- appropriate for the last day of the year.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

A description of Henry IV, parts 1 and 2
from Playbill (28 November):

"The work focuses on the familial, royal and political conflicts surrounding Henry Bolingbroke, the king, who usurped the crown from Richard II (all detailed in Shakespeare's Richard II). Prince Hal, the king's son, is a callow youth who hangs out with a group of jolly reprobates led by Falstaff, a corpulent, cowardly, but quick-witted and endearing lush. All the while, however, Hal privately vows to himself that he will one day mend his ways and assume the throne.

"Meanwhile, that throne is beset upon from all sides. The woebegone Henry IV, trying to defuse the hot-blooded Henry Percy—son of the Earl of Northumberland, and known as Hotspur—instead inspires a rebellion led by Hotspur and including his father the Earl; his uncle, the vain and ambitious Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester; as well as the Welsh warrior Owen Glendower and the Scottish Earl of Douglas. The ensuing conflict calls Hal to his senses and an unwilling Falstaff to arms. Hal and his father reconcile, and the conflict eventually leads to a battle to the death between Hal and Hotspur. At the same time, Hal must resolve the battle for his affections, choosing between his real father and the surrogate one he has found in Falstaff. ..."…

David Quidnunc  •  Link


In the first annotation above, I meant to say:

"There were nine editions of the play published between 1598 and 1639."

Pepys will see the play again in 1661, 1667 and 1668, according to the L&M Index.

daniel  •  Link

what a delight it is to read something like this! Sam's description of the one-eyed frenchman shows a remarkable power of observation better than many of today's writers. twice as entertaining as it intends to entertain no one

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"but my expectation being too great, it did not please me, as otherwise I believe it would; and my having a book, I believe did spoil it a little."

Ah, how often are we prisoners of our expectations! Sam learns a valuable lesson ... better to just sit back, suspend disbelief (and expectations) and enjoy the show.

David, I can see both Kline (who's a fantastic actor ... he did the best Hamlet I've ever seen) and Hawke in those roles ... yeah, EH is a bit more of a surprise, but he's done quite a bit of stage work, so I would bet he's up for this role.

Finally, as this first year of Sam's life with us draws to a close, I'd like to thank Phil -- you RAWK, dude -- and all of you amazing annotators for much enlightenment and enjoyment throughout 2003. I'm really looking forward to the next nine years ... lots of exciting stuff ahead.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, everyone!

Pauline  •  Link

Todd, my message comes from the old year
Out here on the further edge of things it is four hours 'til we enter Year 2P.

But Sam just bought the playbook! How can this spoil the performance he goes to immediately thereafter? Anyone know if he ever mentions Shakespeare by name?

Yes! Phil "RAWKS"! Health and happiness to all you fellow Pepysters for the coming nine years -- and beyond.

Scarabaeus pilularius  •  Link

Please anot: "Rawk": I just hope that my be-knobbled stick will keep me watching and that I don't need a physick !
'tuther wise have great and prosperous novus annus one and all.

vincent  •  Link

31: I gave God thankes for his many signal mercies to my selfe Church & Nation this wonderfulle Yeare:

John Evelyn [diarist]seems to have recognise this day as years end.

vincent  •  Link

"new year": this be strange too: dec 30 /31 1660
towards the morning of 31. I found a lamb in my field our first this year, Toms sheep lambed. Jan: 4th. from Josselyn of Essex: It appears that jan 1st is new year by some but not by the Officialdom.

Mary  •  Link

When does the new year start?

According to L&M's introduction to Vol. I of the diary, although the year ran from March 25th (Lady Day) to March 24th for all legal purposes (and would continue to do so until 1752) the general custom was to accept January 1st as the beginning of the year. This is reflected in the way that Pepys notes the dates between January 1st and March 25th, e.g. January 1659/60, with the figures 59 and 60 displayed to resemble a vulgar fraction, one above the other.

The L&M edition has chosen to show this split-year form only at the beginning of the entries for the month of January.

Mary  •  Link

The one-eyed Frenchman.

We think of Sam as a pretty gregarious fellow, but it's amusing to note that he displays the same instinct for reserve that we, modern Englishmen, are accused of displaying when it comes to being buttonholed by a complete stranger and treated to unexpectedly intimate personal revelations.

For the Frenchman, the agreement to share a coach constituted some form of introduction; for Sam it clearly didn't.

helen  •  Link

When does the new year start?

Here's how Sam started the diary exactly one year ago: "Blessed be God, at the end of the last year I was in very good health ..."

I've just been a lurker all year, but this site means a lot to me. Thanks to Phil and to all the annotators. This truly is the Web at its best -- a Net of interconnected information surrounding and supporting the splendid original.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

When does the New Year start?
I am trying to follow the diary using a one-volume version named "Everybody's Pepys", edited by O.F.Morshead, and based on the Wheatley edition. The entry for Dec. 31 mentions the play, but makes no reference to either the cat or the one-eyed Frenchman. The last paragraph of the entry begins:"At the end of the last and the beginning of this year..."(a brief summary of his domestic arrangements follows). The last sentence reads:"I take myself now to be worth 300 pounds clear in money, and all my goods and all manner of debts paid, which are none at all".
It seems that Sam, so far as his personal affairs are concerned, takes this to be year's end.

Mary  •  Link

Pepys summary of his year end/start situation.

The passage that Kevin mentions appears in the L&M edition as a foreword to the diary for 1661. No doubt Phil will 'publish' it together with the entry for January 1st.

Thanks to everyone (most especially to Phil) who has made this such a terrific site over the past 12 months. We've all learnt a great deal and made many new friends whilst enjoying it. Best wishes to everyone for another happy year of daily fixes of Pepys and his world.

David A.Smith  •  Link

"Strange how the fellow, without asking, did tell me all what he was"
Isn't that a perfect unwitting description of Sam's relation to us, even across a 343-year gap: without asking, he tells us all that he was?
From where I sit, it is now 2004. Happy New Year to all of us, most especially to Phil Gyford, for:
* Genius in establishing the site (a definitive retro-blog, a truly new innovation in Web culture).
* Fidelity in posting it every day (rain, shine, or ISP crashes).
* Grace in creating the annotation climate (as Helen said, the Web at its best).
So with Mary, and on behalf of all us Pepys-o-philes worldwide, I raise an electronic champagne glass to toast:
Here's to you, Phil -- Happy New Year.

vincent  •  Link

I thought the slash 59/60 was a retrofit for the "johnny come latelys"
who would be upset with new year starting under IRS rules {take yer pick: Inland Revenue S or Internal revenuers S} april 5th/15th after
it rains in Portugal.

helena murphy  •  Link

I daresay had it been a one eyed French woman come to London to serve the king the "reserved Pepys "would have found it by far more thrilling!Happy New Year to Phil Gyford and all the other readers and annotators of the site.

Emilio  •  Link

Here's a neat link with information about Killigrew's company - seemingly the drama behind the stage was at least as good as the performances themselves.…

The page is part of a site that provides an astonishing amount of info about Restoration drama - the companies, theatres, critics, and playwrights.

diphi  •  Link

Let me add my toast to Phil and all the Friends of Pepys. I've been reading daily since the beginning, and the joy of the diary itself is only matched by the pleasure of the annotations. I feel like I know you all, and I look forward to the next nine years with you. The best of new years to you all, and especially to Phil!

Hip Hip...

A. De Araujo  •  Link

I have been reading it daily since day 1,after I read a review of Tomalin's book in the New York Times ;in it the reviewer quoted some naughty writings in a mix of spanish and latin and french;so I am still waiting for them;I have even accessed the site by satelite in the boondocks of Brazil.
To all of the readers a very Happy New Year and to Phil a special thank you

Alan Bedford  •  Link

Thanks, Emilio, for the link to background info on the politics and economics of Restoration theatre.

... and to Phil and the rest of you Annotators, who make this site deserving of the Guardian's recent award.

Bradford  •  Link

Ah, who of the merry band that started reading the site a year ago tomorrow (or catching up a few days later) could have guessed how far our acquaintance with Mr. Pepys would lead us? To all those, and the many who have swelled the ranks of enthusiasts since, may it please GOD to send us another such twelvemonth in 2004/1660-61!

Nigel Pond  •  Link

One-eyed Frenchman...

The equivalent of our "nutter on the bus"?

Grahamt  •  Link

...with one eye that was going my way...
The comma can't have been too popular in Sam's time: If one eye is going his way, where was the other going?

Glyn  •  Link

Who was Sarah, and are cats really any good at keeping the mice population down - or is that just an urban myth? It might catch a few but surely it couldn't get them all?

Bradford  •  Link

What game soul will volunteer to research late-17th century English mousetraps?

vincent  •  Link

And are cats really any good at keeping the mice pop. down or
She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous
Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.
Of smale houndes hadde she that she fedde
With rosted flessh, or milk and wastel-breed.
But soore wepte she if oon of hem were deed.
The Canterbury Tales

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Sir Thomas Wyatt, in the previous century, wrote an Epistolary Satire based on the story of the town mouse and the country mouse, translated from a work by Petrarch, but the nearest thing to a mouse trap in it was a cat! You can read the whole thing on

vincent  •  Link

Chaucer did record mouse trap? Now the the patent may have been latter recorded signed and sealed .. Many times the patent writer is not the originator of the idea. As in W.C. [water closet] and many other ideas. But for prosterity it is the man with the lucid latinise/legal words duely filed with the proper legal houses of Seal. [publish or perish]
As for the Cat, it might catch 'em but it had to be taught to kill its catch by another cat. One cat that prowld our yard, like to leave the victim as a peace offering or a thank you for a nice lick of milk that it had filtch.

Laura K  •  Link

cats, mice, henry iv and happy new year

In reverse order.

Being unable to access the site, I missed all the Happy New Years and good wishes, but I certainly want to add mine to the bunch. Here's to many more years reading and commenting together!

A cat will indeed solve your mouse problems, first by direct assault, later by deterrent. It's no myth.

And the Henry IV now playing in New York, featuring Kevin Kline and Ethan Hawke, among others, is superb. If you haven't seen Ethan Hawke in a film adaptation of Hamlet, do rent it. It's very powerful. Hawke is among the younger generation of actors doing well with Shakespeare, along with Liev Schriber.

dirk  •  Link

Chaucer's mousetrap

Vincent is right: Chaucer mentions a mousetrap (obviously a deadly mechanical device of some sort) in the prologue to the Canterbury Tales - the part about the Prioress:

143 She was so charitable and so pitous
144 She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous
145 Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.

143 She was so charitable and piteous
144 That she would weep if she but saw a mouse
145 Caught in a trap, though it were dead or bled.

Pedro  •  Link

The return of the Kinsale.

On th 11th Sam says...

"This last tide the Kingsale was also run aboard and lost her mainmast, by another ship, which makes us think it ominous to the Guiny voyage, to have two of her ships spoilt before they go out."…

On this day the repairs have been completed and the Kinsale joins Holmes at Portsmouth for his first West African adventure.

Second Reading

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

David Quidnunc 1 Jan 2004:

Henry IV, part 2 | Act 3, Scene 2:

Ha, cousin Silence, that thou hadst seen that that
this knight and I have seen! Ha, Sir John, said I well?

We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.

That we have, that we have, that we have; in faith,
Sir John, we have: our watch-word was 'Hem boys!'
Come, let's to dinner; come, let's to dinner:
Jesus, the days that we have seen! Come, come.

Exeunt FALSTAFF and Justices . .…

Third Reading

Croakers Apprentice  •  Link

“My having a book I believe did spoil it a little” - is this the first recorded instance in history of someone regretting having read a ‘spoiler’?

Richard Bachmann  •  Link

As the year ends, let me add my voice to the chorus and express thanks to Mr Gyford, and of course to Sam, for the pleasure each day’s entry has brought.
And as well, my thanks to the intelligence and wit of the annotators, past and present (a special nod to S.D. Sarah).
Happy New Year.

Carmichael  •  Link

Interesting question, Croaker!…

"The earliest known use of the noun spoiler is in the mid 1500s.
OED's earliest evidence for spoiler is from 1535, in Biblia: the Bible."

And the rest of the explanation is behind a paywall. So old, but not sure if used in the same sense.

JB  •  Link

It has just slid past midnight here on the US East Coast, and I would like to echo David A. Smith from 20 years ago (20 years!!):

"Happy New Year to all of us, most especially to Phil Gyford, for:
* Genius in establishing the site (a definitive retro-blog, a truly new innovation in Web culture).
* Fidelity in posting it every day (rain, shine, or ISP crashes).
* Grace in creating the annotation climate (as Helen said, the Web at its best).
So with Mary, and on behalf of all us Pepys-o-philes worldwide, I raise an electronic champagne glass to toast:
Here's to you, Phil -- Happy New Year.”

Happy New Year to all, and thanks again, Phil!

Awanthi Vardaraj  •  Link

A very happy new year to everyone, as it is well and truly the 1st in India.

With regards to mice and cats, cats do keep mice away, even if they are not particularly good at hunting. Mice can smell them and stay away from them.

Flaneurben  •  Link


OED traces ‘spoiler’ in this sense only to 1971 (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “spoiler (n.), additional sense,” December 2023,….)

The 1535 Coverdale Bible quote is in the sense of a despoiler: “One who pillages, plunders, or robs”

I can’t see that there’s a sense for the verb ‘spoil’ that is specifically linked to disclosing a plot twist or the like; I’ll leave it to messrs Carmichael and Croaker to make the submission to the OED editors.

RLB  •  Link

As I have no cat (and have only ever been infested by a single mouse), all I can do is join the chorus and wish everybody a good new year, and Phil in particular!

James Morgan  •  Link

So back to Croaker's question: is there a previous case of someone saying that reading the play beforehand spoiled the play for them? It seems to require a literate public and the publishing of plays in text form. Though perhaps a play made from a commonly known story or legend could be said to be spoiled by pre-knowledge of the story. But it also requires a viewer consciously comparing his or her reaction to two versions of a story, thus a critic.
Per the OED, the word critic dates back to 1587 and they provide several examples of it's use in the late 16th century, so at least in England Pepys comparison of two versions could be common, and one of the OED citations is referring to an Ancient Roman critic. So perhaps the rumination that your enjoyment is spoiled by pre-knowledge of the story is ancient.
By the way, thanks to Carmichael's mention of the OED and the paywall, I discovered that I could use my Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh identification and password to gain access to it. So see if your local public library does the same.

MartinVT  •  Link

"and my having a book, I believe did spoil it a little."

But he just bought the book the same day. He doesn't say that he read it sometime previously. He's sitting there with the book open in his lap, following along, and that's what spoils it for him. I don't believe this means "spoilers" in our sense of knowing in advance how it all turns out; I think he means to say that following along in the book didn't enhance his experience of the book.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Pepys doesn't mention it, but it's POSSIBLE he knew an earlier version of Auld Lang Syne:

Our version was written by Robert Burns in 1788. However, Burns acknowledged his poem was based upon much older folk verses.

The phrase 'auld lang syne' or 'old long syne' probably dates back even further: one of the earliest versions that remains somewhat familiar was written by Robert Ayton, a Scottish poet, born in c.1570.

Historian Kenneth Elliot has also discovered source material for the tune that would have accompanied Ayton's lyrics:

Old Long Syne
First Part.
Should old Acquaintance be forgot,
And never thought upon,
The Flames of Love extinguished,
And freely past and gone?
Is thy kind Heart now grown so cold
In that Loving Breast of thine,
That thou canst never once reflect
On Old-long-syne?
Where are thy Protestations,
Thy Vows and Oaths, my Dear,
Thou made to me, and I to thee,
In Register yet clear?
Is Faith and Truth so violate
To the Immortal Gods Divine,
That thou canst never once reflect
On Old-long-syne?
Is’t Cupid’s Fears, or frosty Cares,
That makes thy Sp’rits decay?
Or is’t some Object of more Worth,
That’s stoll’n thy Heart away?
Or some Desert, makes thee neglect
Him, so much once was thine,
That thou canst never once reflect
On Old-long-syne?
Is’t Worldly Cares so desperate,
That makes thee to despair?
Is’t that makes thee exasperate,
And makes thee to forbear?
If thou of that were free as I,
Thou surely should be Mine:
If this were true, we should renew
Kind Old-long-syne.
But since that nothing can prevail,
And all Hope is in vain,
From these rejected Eyes of mine
Still Showers of Tears shall rain:
And though thou hast me now forgot,
Yet I’ll continue Thine,
And ne’er forget for to reflect
On Old-long-syne.
If e’er I have a House, my Dear,
That truly is call’d mine,
And can afford but Country Cheer,
Or ought that’s good therein;
Tho’ thou were Rebel to the King,
And beat with Wind and Rain,
Assure thy self of Welcome Love,
For Old-long-syne.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Second Part.
My Soul is ravish’d with Delight
When you I think upon;
All Griefs and Sorrows take the Flight,
And hastily are gone;
The fair Resemblance of your Face
So fills this Breast of mine,
No Fate nor Force can it displace,
For Old-long-syne.
Since Thoughts of you doth banish Grief,
When I’m from you removed;
And if in them I find Relief,
When with sad Cares I’m moved,
How doth your Presence me affect
With Ecstacies Divine,
Especially when I reflect
On Old-long-syne.
Since thou has rob’d me of my Heart
By those resistless Powers,
Which Madam Nature doth impart
To those fair Eyes of yours;
With Honour it doth not consist
To hold a Slave in Pyne,
Pray let your Rigour then desist,
For Old-long-syne.
’Tis not my Freedom I do crave
By deprecating Pains;
Sure Liberty he would not have
Who glories in his Chains:
But this I wish, the Gods would move
That Noble Soul of thine
To Pity, since thou cannot love
For Old-long-syne.

To see the music, go to…

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.