Friday 31 August 1666

To bed at 2 or 3 in the morning and up again at 6 to go by appointment to my Lord Bellasses, but he out of town, which vexed me. So back and got Mr. Poynter to enter into my book while I read from my last night’s notes the letter, and that being done to writing it fair. At noon home to dinner, and then the boy and I to the office, and there he read while I writ it fair, which done I sent it to Sir W. Coventry to peruse and send to the fleete by the first opportunity; and so pretty betimes to bed. Much pleased to-day with thoughts of gilding the backs of all my books alike in my new presses.

27 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"got Mr. Poynter to enter into my book while I read from my last night's notes the letter; and that being done, to writing it fair." (L&M transcription)

How Pepys and those with secretarial help in his time and thereafter corresponded.

"my book" = Letterbook
A bound volume containing retained copies of outgoing correspondence, copied by hand, by carbon copy, or by other means. More rarely, a bound volume containing incoming letters received by an individual.…

Bradford  •  Link

"Much pleased to-day with thoughts of gilding the backs of all my books alike in my new presses." That'll make finding the one you want fun.

Alec  •  Link

>> Much pleased to-day with thoughts of gilding the backs of all my books alike in my new presses.

Reminds me of a scene in Tibor Fischer's Under the Frog. As Warsaw Pact tanks were rolling into Budapest, a junior British diplomat was polishing his shoes.

Such a pleasant way to pass the time before the coming conflagration.

jeannine  •  Link

"That’ll make finding the one you want fun."

Bradford, I am hopeless at locating my books and always 'sort of' know where they are, or should be, but still have trouble finding them. I would think that having them all bound alike would make it even harder!

This also reminds me of a rather interesting "decorating" idea that I recently saw in a magazine. There was a wall of floor to ceiling book shelves with the books arranged against the wall by their color. It was really like a big fun piece of art. Sort of like this but much prettier in the picture I saw…

alta fossa  •  Link

'twould be nice know if the ladd be reading the comic strips of the day or a little Vigil or a lyttle Curculio like "Stultio stulto fuisti, qui tabellis crederes"
'stupid stupid, to trust what is written'
by Plautus #551

"...then the boy and I to the office, and there he read while I writ it fair..."

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

gilding the backs of all my books alike

We know Sam reads his books, but this does sound like an early example of the decorating approach of buying and installing books by the yard.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

"Much pleased to-day with thoughts of gilding the backs of all my books alike in my new presses."

SP later carried his need uniformity further, having small turned stands or plinths made for the shorter volumes to make the height of the tops uniform; these survive at Magdalene but I have not been able to find quickly a photo of them on the web in stitu .

Ruben  •  Link

"alta fossa"
To make things clear, may I say that "salty hand writes on water that is to be found in a trench"?

Mary  •  Link

the bindings, the presses, the gilding ....

Sam is not just shelving his books elegantly because he loves them, he is following the gentlemanly pursuit of building his private library.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... gilding the backs of all my books alike ..."

SP was far from the first to indulge a taste for uniformity in the appearance of his books; for example the well known series of Paris bindings on texts in 12 mo., executed for Pietro Duodo, Venetian ambassador to Henri IV of France, 1594-97. Theology, philosphy, law and history were in red morocco, medicine and botany in lemon and literature in olive.…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...Lord Bellasses, but he out of town, which vexed me."

"What do you mean, my Lord sold all his property and took all his goods out of London and warned you to go as well?"

"The clock be ticking, he said, sir."

Hmmn...Ah, well.



"I take it you have heard strange rumors circulating about the City?"

"Indeed a few, Sir Will..."

"Pepys...We have reason to believe that London is in danger. And that we have...Approximately

...48 hours."

(Well, hell it's the 17th century...They need a little more time.)

"Excuse me, Pepys...My watch had stopped...Make that 46 hours."

"Indeed, sir." Would like to get back to see the new presses...Those lovely new-gilded books must be beautiful.


"Oh, yes, Sir Will...46 hours you say."

"Yes...Normally we'd hand this over to the military but what with the plague and so many of them being ready to kill us for pressing them...We feel we must turn to you, once again, to save England from threat."

"I understand, Sir Will." Bess nods. "I take it this does mean Samuel's little financial transgressions will once again...?"

"Pure as the driven snow...If you succeed...Else of course I leave him to twist slowly in the wind over the roaring fire of a full Parliamentary inquiry."


Where to begin?...Bess ponders as Balty beside her plays with sword. Once again called to duty by sister Bess.

Where else...

"Well, niece...Heh, ha..." Uncle Wight eyes the two facing him. "While my contacts in the City might occasionally encounter representatives of shall we say, heh, hah...other powers...I could not for my life, name such men..."

"How about women? Frenchwomen, perchance?"

"Heh, heh, hah...You know me and my tastes well, niece."

"Not that well." Bess quickly informs Balty.


Pedro  •  Link

Fossa Alta.....Asterix.....a symbol used in text as a pointer to an annotation.

Tinca Tinca…the doctor fish

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Pleasant thoughts of gilding books ...

How different Sam's thoughts will be when the sun sets tomorrow! This morning's sunrise was the last that old London would ever see.

Alec  •  Link

Yes, Rex. The sense of impending doom is like watching Final Destination films!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

That other den of iniquity…Where at least Evil is enjoyed…Immensely…

Louis happily regarding map of London, papal envoy at his throne side…

“Ah, by next week, it shall all be named for me…Louis Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Louishall, Le Roi Soleil Exchange, Rue Louis, Rue Louis I, Rue Louis II, Rue Louis le Grand…It all shall be…What?” Louis eyes solemn-looking aide.

Holiness may have something to say about that…the envoy, smiling brightly, does not say…

“Sire…I regret to say…We cannot invade in the next week…The Hollanders are not feeling that the time is right. They will not support us navily. The troops are ill…There’s fear of the plague in England.”

Lean back, narrow look… “Monsieur, you are dimming the luster of your king’s glory. Have we not the support of His Holiness and the Church?”

“Our full support…Majesty…” the envoy nods…

“Verbal and technical support and a few agents, your Majesty…Not exactly what we need for a full-scale invasion, Sire.”

“The dratted Dutch…”

“They fear you more than the English, sire…”

“Really…” beam restored. “As they well should…” rapid dimming of beam… “But…Really? The invasion a no-go? You know we can't delay...Damned thing can only be targetted at the proper time.”

“We are destroying the capital, sire…The army, the navy, the general population will be intact…”

“Almost seems unworthwhile…” Louis, morosely… “Just a mere test of our power…” brightens, le roi soleil once more… “But it will be spectacular…And it will mean Charlie will be even more desperate for funds…”

“Crawling, Sire…Crawling…” the aide nods…The envoy nodding in support.

“Still might force him to name half the new City after me in repayment…” Louis grins, rising from throne. Aides hoping up, scrambling to tend to his royal person.

“Then we shall proceed, Sire?”

“Indeed…Activate the glorious image of Our Power…In the image of the Sun himself…The Solar Mirror…” grand exit, sweeping along…Papal envoy, agents in train…

“Yes, Sire…” the aide calls…Waving to his own minions…

Hmmn…I seem to be experiencing a sense of forward- déjà-vu, regarding this project…the aide notes to self.

As if many times in the future supervillains will attempt to use giant solar mirrors to destroy or rule the world…

Ah, well…We were the first…

“Send word to Mont Blanc…Begin calibration, monsieurs!”


CGS  •  Link

la plume be mightier than the epee;
“Send word to Mont Blanc

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Later that day at the court of Le Roi Soleil, an aide advances...
Sire, we have just received word from Mt. Blanc. They say that as we are at the depth of what they call the Maunder Minimum the solar mirror lacks the power required. So I have dispatched an agent to the king's baker in Pudding Lane and he has promised to strike a match. Perhaps that will do.

Alec  •  Link

Come on, the suspense is killing us!

CGS  •  Link

"'tis rit IN water, i.e. words last as long it takes to dissolve, water being best cleanser. Ask Herod.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Uncle Wight, London faces destruction...How can you protect these people?"

"Eh...The plague wiped out far more this year than any French/Papal superweapon targeted on London ever possibly..."


"Heh, ha, heh...A mere whimsy, niece..."

French, eh?...Balty, rather pleased...Wait...


"Superweapon?...French?..." Bess stares.

"Balty?! Didn't Father go to Paris this month? He wasn't working on anything you know of?"

"Nothing dangerous, sister. Come to think of it he was happy about some private backer wanting to develop his mirror signaling telegraph."

Heh, ha...Oh...Uncle Wight tries innocent look.
"So...Still won't talk, eh, St. Michel?" Louis, now in private study with minions and papal envoy faces Alexander St. Michel, inventor par too excellent this time, tied to large table... "I want the names of those in England who know of our superweapon!"

"My signalling device...To be used for peaceful communication, you fiend, Louis!"

"Dog...Well you sure as hell will never be Sieur de St. Michel in my lifetime. Come, Cardinal...Let me demonstrate the power of our new weapon in minature..." Louis waves the group in.

"You will note the map of London on which our traitorous citizen is presently lying is drawn to scale but slightly altered to fit the table...My apologies. You may begin!"

A beam of focused, burning light strikes at the end of the table, quickly starting to move up toward the struggling Alex...

"This is sunlight, St. Michel..." Louis beams. "All my life I have basked in it, worshipped its divine beauty, its unreal lightness...I welcome any project that brings me closer to its source, the true source of all power, all life..." Waves to guards who pull curtains... "My very symbol, the sun god himself!!"

Uh...Sire...The papal envoy eyes him...

"Classical allusion, solely of course..."

So why do we have 300 statues ready with Louis' head on Apollo's body, ready to be displayed in every church in France?...One aide puzzles.

"And here's our target point...A little street, soon to become famous...Pudding Lane..." Louis points.

"So Louis, you were expecting me to talk?" St. Michel speaking up, startles the group.

"What? Oh, no, St. Michel...I expect you to die! Along with London!!"

Say?...What...Louis stares around at the dark room, beam abruptly cut off...Window to the study blackened suddenly.

"Light! Light!"

"Passing peasant deflected the beam, sire. Sorry about the mess on your Majesty's window..."

"St. Michel's bonds were cut by the deflected beam, he's escaped!" guard cries.

"No invasion, botched demonstration...This day is not going well!" Louis fumes.


Australian Susan  •  Link

Books and colours

As a librarian, how often have I heard: "well, I'm not sure of the title, but it's got a pink cover..." The look of a book is very potent!

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link


Chase of the Dutch Fleet.

The life, journals and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, &c. Volume I, pp 113ff.…

JayW  •  Link

"...then the boy and I to the office, and there he read while I writ it fair..." Alta fossa 10 years ago asked what the boy read. He would have been reading the transcribed letter out loud from the letter book or the fair copy made with Mr Poynter’s help, and Pepys would have been carefully writing it down word for word as the final letter to be sent to Sir William Coventry, in his best handwriting. No carbon paper then!

The Greenwich Patriot  •  Link

And if you want to see another library by a contemporary bibliophile, visit Dr Thomas Plume's Library in Maldon, Essex. He was Vicar of St Alfege Greenwich from 1658 to 1704, and his sermons were enjoyed by Pepys and Evelyn. He had his library built on a derelict church in Maldon (from 1698) and after his death in 1704 the books (more than 8,00 books and pamphlets) were taken, packed in barrels, from Greenwich and Rochester and placed on the shelves in the order they came out of the barrels. And remain in that order. Although a little later than Pepys's presses, the library gives a good idea of the books available at the time.

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