[The author Andrew Godsell recently got in touch having written Legends of British History and he offered the book’s biographical sketch of Pepys for publication here. It covers his whole life (and beyond) so there are “spoilers” towards the end if you don’t know what’s coming. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this overview of Sam’s life. You can buy Legends of British History at Amazon.co.uk. P.G.]
In the year 1664 we celebrated the mid-point of Sam’s Diary, perhaps with a mixture of happiness for all of the time shared together and a touch of sadness too, as we know that in a few years the Diary will end.
[Disclaimer: The publishers sent me a free copy of the book, which I passed on to Jeannine to review; we were under no obligation to say something good about it! Phil.]
This magnificent piece of work by Long and Long explores the outlandish charges of treason brought against Sam during the Popish Plots, and then brilliantly unfolds the mysteries, men and motives fabricating those accusations. This true story is based on a vast collection of facts, letters and notes from widely diverse and seemingly unrelated sources, which have been analyzed and synthesized to reveal an amazingly intricate network of lies, fraud, forgeries, espionage, swindles, etc. directed to bring about the downfall of Sam as a step towards destroying the Duke of York. The narrative style moves through the complex intrigues in a fashion that is highly readable and thoroughly engaging.
Sam’s diary affords us the wonderful opportunity to see his world and view the individuals surrounding him through his eyes. The men and women that he writes of have been uniquely recorded and preserved for prosperity. Years before Sam kept his diary, on a small island that lies between England and France, another diarist, the Jersey born, Jean Chevalier, kept a diary of his own. In the book, Jean Chevalier and His Times1 the author Arthur Charles Saunders tells us that Chevalier was the “Pepys” of the island, and that “self”, which is so significant in Sam’s diary, is very minor in this diary. Quite like Sam, Chevalier was very interested in “his fellow men and, as incident followed incident during those eight troublous years 1643 - 1651” (Saunders, p. 13.) he recorded the details:
The following letter of acknowledgement and inventory of the items in the tailor shop are from Helen Truesdell Heath’s “The Letters of Samuel Pepys and His Family Circle” (See at Amazon UK, US). In this inventory are the details of the items which Tom acknowledges have been ‘lent’ to him by his father for his accommodation. All information and quotations set forth herein come from Heath’s above referenced book.
Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem “Twas the night before Christmas” in 1822. I “borrowed” some delightful lines from that poem and added a few Pepysian style lines in thanks to all of our friends for writing about 1663! May our New Year bring blessings to all of you and may 1664 be a wonderful year for Sam and Elizabeth!
One of our frustrations is that it is hard for us to see Elizabeth’s side of the story, so any learned interpretations should be welcome, and taken as a guide so that we can attempt to make our own judgment, right or wrong.
The following letter and summary of Brampton rents are from Helen Truesdell Heath’s The Letters of Samuel Pepys and His Family Circle. In this letter and the estate summary, Sam has set forth a proposed plan for his father’s consideration regarding the settlement of the Brampton estate. All information and quotations set forth herein come from Heath’s above referenced book.
“and Captn. Ferrers telling me, among other Court passages…”
On one level Sam’s walk today with Captain Ferrers may simply seem to gloss over tidbits of Court gossip, yet two of these stories reflect re-occurring themes that will continue throughout the reign of Charles II and therefore be presented in Sam’s diary: 1) The mock marriage takes place amidst the unwieldy world where sex, money, power and politics overlap; 2) The Titling of Monmouth casts a shadow over the question of succession and increases an aura of unrest in a not so stable nation.
This essay provides some background information on each story, summarizing the resources cited below and by the nature of the subject matter will contain historical as opposed to daily entry spoilers.
Presented are a bewildered Sam’s lighthearted observations of his diary
and the accompanying annotations of 1662. This presentation combines a
mixture of editorial accuracy, tongue in cheek interpretation and an
ample use of artistic/poetic license. Those parties actually named by
Sam are tied (albeit loosely in some instances) to actual diary entries
or the more general thematic areas where they shared their commentary.
Despite the gap of 340 years, a walk through London today can give you a very real sense of the scale and nature of Samuel Pepys’s world in a way that can genuinely bring his diaries to life. His daily world stretched from Westminster Hall in the south west to the Tower in the east. When he didn’t travel by water, he would walk a regular route up King St (now Whitehall), turning right at Charing Cross, following the Strand and Fleet, past St Paul’s Cathedral and on his way past London Bridge on his right to Seething Lane. While few buildings from his time remain, many of the landmarks (particularly churches) and most of the streets remain in name, if not in timber and stone. By walking in the footsteps of Samuel Pepys, a clear footprint of his world can be discerned.
…and in the Banqueting-house saw the King create my Lord Chancellor and several others, Earls, and Mr. Crew and several others, Barons: the first being led up by Heralds and five old Earls to the King, and there the patent is read, and the King puts on his vest, and sword, and coronet, and gives him the patent. And then he kisseth the King’s hand, and rises and stands covered before the king. And the same for the Barons, only he is led up but by three of the old Barons, and are girt with swords before they go to the King. 20th April 16611