Longer articles on broader topics.

Review: 'The Plot Against Pepys' by James Long and Ben Long

[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.]

'The Plot Against Pepys' coverThis 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.

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Carteret and the King

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:

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Inventory of the tailor shop

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.

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Twas the night before New Years!

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!

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Between a Son and His Father: Sam's Letter to John Sr regarding Brampton

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.

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A Walk with Ferrers

February 8, 1663:

“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.

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Annotators of Sam

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.

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