Despite turbulent times Pepys’ social life in the early months of the diary sets a pattern that will become familiar. He has dinner and supper with friends, attends a party at the home of Navy surgeon James Pearse, which is a little too wild for Pepys and his wife, Elizabeth (24 January). He also hosts his own party for family and some friends at Mountagu’s lodgings in Whitehall Palace (26 January).
Our diarist also visits pubs, often more than once a day, to drink, eat, trade news and occasionally make music with all sorts of men — including fellow clerks, soldiers, sailors, tradesmen and old school chums. Pepys reports the news in coded letters back to Mountagu in Hinchingbrooke, until Mountagu’s return to London.
In early 1660 General George Monck marches to London (arriving 3 February) and, with his army of 7,000 paid soldiers, holds the whip hand as the most powerful man in the country. He isn’t all-powerful, however, and so he maneuvers politically among puritans in the Rump and in the Army on the one hand, and popular sentiment against the Rump and for restoring the monarchy on the other.
Monck eventually demands (11 February) that the moderate, “secluded” Presbyterian members of Parliament be allowed to take their seats. As a result, celebrations immediately explode that night across London and in the countryside, with bonfires and roasting rumps. The no-longer-secluded parliamentarians include Pepys’s patron, Edward Mountagu, and Mountagu’s father-in-law, John Crew. Mountagu is chosen for a seat on the Council of State (essentially, the Cabinet), and, shortly after he returns to London at the end of February, is given joint command of the Navy. New elections are planned.
As Pepys watches events unfold, his private life is filled with work for the household and business affairs of Mountagu and work for George Downing in the Exchequer Office, where Pepys is a part-time clerk. When Downing suggests that Pepys might be happier in another job, Pepys worries about being dismissed, but that doesn’t happen, and Downing suddenly departs for Holland.
From 24-28 February, Pepys takes a trip to Cambridge University to help his brother, John, settle in. He comes home to find London celebrating a day of thanksgiving at the return of Parliament, and hopes running high that the monarchy will soon be restored.
Mountagu regains his old position of General at Sea, and Pepys agrees to accompany him to sea as his secretary. Pepys spends most of March preparing for the journey; this includes making his will and providing for his wife in case he should not return.
Mountagu and Pepys begin their journey on 23 March, sailing down the Thames and into the English Channel. Mountagu keeps Pepys occupied preparing commissions for members of the fleet, with a strategy of moving Anabaptists out of positions of power. When not working, Pepys fills the time with political gossip, religious debates, music and the occasional game of ninepins.
Mountagu and the fleet spend the month awaiting orders to cross the English Channel but Parliament is still undecided whether to invite Charles to England. In the meantime the ships sail between English ports and make brief voyages into the Channel. As Mountagu’s secretary in preference to Creed, Pepys is at the centre of events and he records constant visits from politicians and the other ships’ captains as well as his writing letters for Mountagu to London.
On one excursion on 8 April, he borrows a telescope to look at the “pretty handsome” women on board two ships sailing to the East Indies and the next day sees France, and Calais, for the first time in his life.
The political tide seems to be flowing in favour of restoration of the monarchy, and the escape from the Tower of London of the leading Parliamentarian, General Lambert, appears to be only a small setback, and indeed Mountagu (and Pepys) hear of Lambert’s recapture on the 24th.
On 29 April Pepys receives news of the Declaration of Breda, which is read to Parliament on 2 May. The next day Pepys reads the declaration to a hastily assembled council of war, who vote unanimously to accept it (though Pepys suspects some of them do so reluctantly.) Mountagu confides that, unknown to Monck, he has been corresponding with the king and the Duke of York for some time.
Parliament officially proclaims Charles II king on 8 May. Mountagu is ordered to sail to Holland to bring Charles home.
The entries from 14-20 May are taken up with Pepys’ impressions of the Netherlands. On 17 May, after a few false alarms, Pepys meets the king for the first time, describing him briefly as ‘a sober man.’ He is forced to rethink his opinion, though, when Charles comes on board ship on 23 May.
The ship lands at Dover on 25 May. Pepys doesn’t describe the king’s reaction on returning to his kingdom; he’s distracted by the prospect of gaining professional favours from the Duke of York, and by the fact that the king’s dog has ‘dirted’ the boat. On 27 May Mountagu is made a Knight of the Garter.
The party return to London on 9 June, although Pepys does not come back to his own house till 22 June.
Back home, Pepys is occupied with ‘extremely much people and business.’ He is shortly promised the position of Clerk of the Acts, despite opposition from Lady Monck.
Pepys frets that his promised position is threatened by Thomas Barlow, the previous jobholder. But Barlow is easily bought off with an annuity, and on 17 July Pepys’ position is secured. With the new job comes a new house in Seething Lane.
Mountagu takes his seat in the House of Lords on 26 July.
The first part of the month is taken up with illness — first Mrs Pepys, then Pepys himself. By August 12, however, Pepys has recovered enough to be ‘exceeding free in dallying’ with Betty Lane, the linen-draper. This is the first definite record in the diary of Pepys’ many infidelities.
Most of this period sees Pepys using his newly-earned wealth to decorate and furnish his house, and keeping up with London gossip. The routine is broken in mid-October with the vividly described hanging, drawing and quartering of Thomas Harrison, John Carew and eight others for their part in the execution of Charles I. ‘Thus,’ Pepys observes, ‘it was my chance to see the King beheaded at White Hall, and to see the first blood shed in revenge for the blood of the King at Charing Cross.’
On 30 October, Pepys sees The Tamer Tamed, John Fletcher’s sequel to Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.
Much of November is taken up with Navy business, although Pepys does manage to see a couple more plays, including one at “the finest play-house, I believe, that ever was in England” on 20 November. On the 22nd the Pepys go to see the Queen (mother of Charles II) and the Princesses, having missed their arrival in the country on 2 November.
Sam and Sir George Carteret draw up a proposal, to be presented to Parliament, to pay off the fleet expenses in two installments - half of it now and the other half in four months. On 4 December that same Parliament decides that the bodies of Oliver Cromwell and his fellow conspirators are to be taken from their graves and publicly dishonoured. On the 16th a plot against the King is foiled, and some forty people are arrested. In the meantime Sam has had the interior of his house repainted, and the overseeing of the workmen takes several days. On 24 December the Princess Royal dies from smallpox.