Wednesday 3 February 1668/69

So up, and to the Office till noon, and then home to a little dinner, and thither again till night, mighty busy, to my great content, doing a great deal of business, and so home to supper, and to bed; I finding this day that I may be able to do a great deal of business by dictating, if I do not read myself, or write, without spoiling my eyes, I being very well in my eyes after a great day’s work.

8 Annotations

Mary  •  Link


Ever since Pepys began giving us serious accounts of the state of his vision I had assumed that he had already started to use dictation to get through his days' work. There were various remarks that seemed to indicate this. However,it appears from this entry that he is only now making trial -successfully- of this means of getting the work done. I hope he will find that this initial success is maintained; there is a definite skill to using dictation and not everyone acquires it.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

I wonder if his staff also had Sam's shorthand skills?
Otherwise, dictation would be a very tedious business.

Jesse  •  Link


I can't recall Pepys mentioning anything about acquiring his shorthand skills much less whether or how often they'd be used at work. (Note to Phil: Movable Type Encyclopedia search for shorthand times out - really?) I wonder if shorthand was a standard skill for clerks and office types. At the used bookstore I volunteer at we occasionally get donations of Gregg shorthand manuals.

Speaking of no mention, I'm surprised that nothing about the recent awful weather has been noted.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I wonder if his staff also had Sam’s shorthand skills?"

And the answer is affirmative, at least for Will Hewer:

"It was a great convenience to-night that what I had writ foule in short hand, I could read to W. Hewer, and he take it fair in short hand, so as I can read it to-morrow to Sir W. Coventry, and then come home, and Hewer read it to me while I take it in long-hand to present, which saves me much time."

Apparently this was not uncommon: "So soon as word was brought me that Mr. Coventry was come with the barge to the Towre, I went to him, and found him reading of the Psalms in short hand (which he is now busy about), and had good sport about the long marks that are made there for sentences in divinity, which he is never like to make use of."

A. De Araujo  •  Link

It would be interesting to know if the Diary is going to be less candid than before.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Sam'l? What's the long face for? I said I understood you couldn't help Knepp's smiling at you like a brain-dead doe."

"Oh, it's just the eyes again. I may have to consider even dictating my personal journal. And it'll lose so much of the flavor if I have to have a clerk do it...Being personal."

"Well, I could keep your journal for you. I'm already doing so much reading for you and you say my drawing's very good."


"Why wouldn't you want me to do your...Personal...journal?"

"Let me get back to you on this, dearest."



"Special assignment for you...I'm dictating a new copy of my journal from the beginning in 1660."

"Sir? The whole spicy thing? I think I'll enjoy..."

"It must be done in two days, in shorthand and then give it to Mrs. Pepys and instruct her in shorthand."


"Call it the abridged version, Hewer. Understand?"

"Ah...Yes, sir." Call it the dull version, you mean.

Roy  •  Link

His failing eye sight was a major factor for the dictation, they did not have the vision aids as we have now.

languagehat  •  Link

"It would be interesting to know if the Diary is going to be less candid than before."

He's certainly not dictating the Diary! He's talking about his work.

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