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Pepys and pages from his shorthand diary
Pepys was an English naval administrator and MP. The private diary he kept from 1660 to 1669 was assumed to be written in code, but discovered to be in 'Shelton's shorthand' and transcribed in 1819. It records some of the most momentous events in the England of his age - the Restoration of King Charles after the republic, the Great Fire of London and the Plague - along with the lively personal detail which has made it a best seller ever since.
January 1. Blessed be God, at the end of last year I was in very good health, without any sense of my old pain, but upon taking of cold. I lived in Axe Yard, having my wife and servant, Jane, and no other in family than us three.
The condition of the State was thus: the Rump [Parliament], after being disturbed by my Lord Lambert, was lately returned to sit again. The officers of the army all forced to yield. Lawson still lies in the river, and Monk is with his army in Scotland. The New Common Council of the City do speak very high; and had sent to Monk their sword-bearer, to acquaint him with their desires for a free and full parliament, which is at present the desires, and the hopes, and the expectations of all. My own private condition very handsome, and esteemed rich, but indeed very poor; besides my goods of my house, and my office, which at present is somewhat certain.
March 9. To my lord at his lodging, and came to Westminster with him in the coach; and I telling him that I was willing and ready to go with him to sea, he agreed that I should. I hear that it is resolved privately that a treaty be offered with the king.
March 26. This day it is two years since it pleased God that I was cut of the stone at Mrs. Turner's in Salisbury Court. And did resolve while I live to keep it a festival, as I did the last year at my house, and for ever to have Mrs. Turner and her company with me.
May 1. To-day I hear they were very merry at Deal, setting up the king's flag upon one of their maypoles, and drinking his health upon their knees in the streets, and firing the guns, which the soldiers of the castle threatened, but durst not oppose.
May 2. Welcome news of the parliament's votes yesterday, which will be remembered for the happiest May-day that hath been many a year to England. The king's letter was read in the house, wherein he submits himself and all things to them. The house, upon reading the letter, ordered £50,000 to be forthwith provided to send to his majesty for his present supply. The City of London have put out a declaration, wherein they do disclaim their owning any other government but that of a king, lords, and commons.
May 3. This morning my lord showed me the king's declaration to be communicated to the fleet. I went up to the quarter-deck with my lord and the commanders, and there read the papers; which done, the seamen did all of them cry out, "God bless King Charles!" with the greatest joy imaginable. After dinner to the rest of the ships quite through the fleet.
May 11. This morning we began to pull down all the state's arms in the fleet, having first sent to Dover for painters to come and set up the king's. After dinner we set sail from the Downs, but dropped anchor again over against Dover Castle.
May 12. My lord gave order for weighing anchor, which we did, and sailed all day.
May 14. In the morning the Hague was clearly to be seen by us. The weather bad; we were sadly washed when we come near the shore, it being very hard to land there.
May 23. Come infinity of people on board from the king to go along with him. The king, with the two dukes and Queen of Bohemia, Princess Royal, and Prince of Orange, come on board, where I, in their coming in, kissed the king's, queen's, and princess's hands, having done the other before. Infinite shooting of the runs, and that in a disorder on purpose, which was better than if it had been otherwise. We weighed anchor, and with a fresh gale and most happy weather we set sail for England.
May 24. Up, and made myself as fine as I could, with the stockings on and wide canons that I bought at Hague. Extraordinary press of noble company, and great mirth all day.
May 25. By the morning we were come close to the land, and everybody made ready to get on shore. I spoke to the Duke of York about business, who called me Pepys by name, and upon my desire did promise me his future favour. The king went in my lord's barge with the two dukes, and was received by General Monk with all love and respect at his entrance upon the land of Dover. The shouting and joy expressed by all is past imagination.
October 13. I went out to Charing Cross to see Major-Generall Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered - which was done there - he looking as cheerfully as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down and his head and his heart shown to the people, at which there was great shouts of joy.
October 20. This morning one came to me to advise with me where to make me a window into my cellar in lieu of one that Sir W Batten had stopped up; and going down my cellar to look, I put my foot into a great heap of turds, by which I find that Mr Turner's house of office is full and comes into my cellar, which doth trouble me; but I will have it helped. '
December 30. At the end of the last and the beginning of this year, I do live in one of the houses belonging to the Navy Office, as one of the principal officers; my family being myself, my wife, Jane, Will Hewer, and Wayneman, my girl's brother. Myself in constant good health, and in a most handsome and thriving condition. Blessed be God for it. The king settled, and loved of all.
May 4. Mr Holliard came to me and let me blood, about 16 ounces, I being exceedingly full of blood, and very good. I begun to be sick; but lying upon my back, I was presently well again and did give him 5s for his pains; and so we parted.
April 4. We had a fricassee of rabbits and chicken, a leg of mutton boiled, three carps in a dish, a great dish of a side of lamb, a dish of roasted pigeons, a dish of four lobsters, three tarts, a most rare lamprey pie, - a dish of anchovies - good wine of several sorts; and all things mighty noble and to my great content.
January 20. To the Swan at noon, for a bit of meat and dined. So took coach and to my Lady Sandwich's, and so to my bookseller's, and there took home Hooke's book of microscopy, a most excellent piece, and of which I am very proud. So home, and by and by again abroad with my wife about several businesses.
July 15. Up, and after all business done, though late, I to Deptford, but before I went out of the office saw there young Bagwell's wife returned, but could not stay to speak to her, though I had a great mind to it, and also another great lady, as to fine clothes, did attend there to have a ticket signed; which I did do, taking her through the garden to my office, where I signed it and had a salute of her. Mr. Carteret and I to the ferry-place at Greenwich. But, Lord! what silly discourse we had by the way as to love-matters, he being the most awkerd man I ever met with in my life as to that business.
July 31. I ended this month with the greatest joy that I ever did any in my life, because I have spent the greatest part of it with abundance of joy, and honour, and pleasant journeys, and brave entertainments, and without cost of money. We end this month after the greatest glut of content that ever I had, only under some difficulty because of the plague, which grows mightily upon us, the last week being about 1,700 or 1,800 of the plague. My Lord Sandwich at sea with a fleet of about one hundred sail, to the northward, expecting De Ruyter, or the Dutch East India fleet.
August 8. To my office a little, and then to the Duke of Albemarle's about some business. The streets empty all the way now, even in London, which is a sad sight. To Westminster Hall, where talking, hearing very sad stories. So home through the City again, wishing I may have taken no ill in going; but I will go, I think, no more thither. The news of De Ruyter's coming home is certain, and told to the great disadvantage of our fleet; but it cannot be helped.
August 10. To the office, where we sat all morning; in great trouble to see the bill this week rise so high, to above 4,000 in all, and of them above 3,000 of the plague. Home to draw over anew my will, which I had bound myself by oath to dispatch by to-morrow night; the town growing so unhealthy that a man cannot depend upon living two days.
August 12. The people die so that now it seems they are fain to carry the dead to be buried by daylight, the nights not sufficing to do it in. And my lord mayor commands people to be within at nine at night, that the sick may have liberty to go abroad for air. There is one also dead out of one of our ships at Deptford, which troubles us mightily. I am told, too, that a wife of one of the grooms at court is dead at Salisbury, so that the king and queen are speedily to be all gone to Milton. So God preserve us!
August 16. To the Exchange, where I have not been in a great while. But, Lord! how sad a sight it is to see the streets empty of people, and very few upon the 'Change. Jealous of every door that one sees shut up lest it should be the plague; and about two shops in three, if not more, generally shut up.
August 22. I walked to Greenwich, in my way seeing a coffin with a dead body therein, dead of the plague, which was carried out last night, and the parish have not appointed anybody to bury it; but only set a watch there all day and night, that nobody should go thither or come thence, this disease making us more cruel to one another than we are to dogs.
August 25. This day I am told that Dr. Burnett, my physician, is this morning dead of the plague, which is strange, his man dying so long ago, and his house this month open again. Now himself dead. Poor, unfortunate man!
August 30. I went forth and walked towards Moorfields to see (God forgive my presumption!) whether I could see any dead corpse going to the grave. But, Lord! how everybody looks, and discourse in the street is of death and nothing else, and few people going up and down, that the town is like a place distressed and forsaken.
September 3 (Lord's Day). Up; and put on my coloured silk suit very fine, and my new periwig, bought a good while since, but durst not wear, because the plague was in Westminster when I bought it; and it is a wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done as to periwigs, for nobody will dare to buy any hair, for fear of the infection, that it has been cut off the heads of people dead of the plague. My Lord Brouncker, Sir J. Minnes, and I up to the vestry at the desire of the justices of the peace, in order to the doing something for the keeping of the plague from growing; but, Lord! to consider the madness of the people of the town, who will, because they are forbid, come in crowds along with the dead corpses to see them buried.
September 6. To London, to pack up more things; and there I saw fires burning in the streets, as it is through the whole city, by the lord mayor's order.
September 14. To the Duke of Albemarle, where I find a letter from my Lord Sandwich, of the fleet's meeting with about eighteen more of the Dutch fleet, and his taking of most of them; and the messenger says they had taken three after the letter was sealed, which being twenty-one, and those took the other day, is forty-five sail, some of which are good, and others rich ships. Having taken a copy of my lord's letter, I away toward the 'Change, the plague being all thereabouts. Here my news was highly welcome, and I did wonder to see the 'Change so full-I believe two hundred people. And, Lord! to see how I did endeavour to talk with as few as I could, there being now no shutting up of houses infected, that to be sure we do converse and meet with people that have the plague upon them. I spent some thought on the occurrences of this day, giving matter for as much content on one hand and melancholy on another, as any day in all my life. For the first, the finding of my money and plate all safe at London; the hearing of this good news after so great a despair of my lord's doing anything this year; and the decrease of 500 and more, which is the first decrease we have yet had in the sickness since it begun. Then, on the other side, my finding that though the bill in general is abated, yet in the City within the walls it is increased; my meeting dead corpses, carried close to me at noonday in Fenchurch Street.
One of my own watermen, that carried me daily, fell sick as soon as he had landed me on Friday last, when I had been all night upon the water, and is now dead of the plague. And, lastly, that both my servants, W. Hewer and Tom Edwards, have lost their fathers of the plague this week, do put me into great apprehension of melancholy, and with good reason.
November 15. The plague, blessed be God! is decreased 400, making the whole this week but 1,300 and odd, for which the Lord be praised!
December 25 (Christmas Day). To church in the morning, and there saw a wedding in the church, which I have not seen many a day, and the young people so merry with one another, and strange to see what delight we married people have to see these poor fools decoyed into our condition, every man and woman gazing and smiling at them.
December 31. Thus ends this year, to my great joy, in this manner. I have raised my estate from £1,300 in this year to £4,400. I have got myself greater interest, I think, by my diligence, and my employments increased by that of treasurer for Tangier and surveyor of the victuals. It is true we have gone through great melancholy because of the plague, and I put to great charges by it, by keeping my family long at Woolwich, and myself and my clerks at Greenwich, and a maid at London; but I hope the king will give us some satisfaction for that. But now the plague is abated almost to nothing, and I intending to get to London as fast as I can. To our great joy the town fills apace, and shops begin to be open again.
September 2. Some of our maids sitting up late last night to get things ready against our feast to-day, Jane called us up about three in the morning to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose, and slipped on my nightgown, and went to her window, and thought it to be on the back side of Mark Lane at the farthest, and so went to bed again. About seven rose again to dress myself, and there looked out at the window, and saw the fire not so much as it was, and further off. By-and-by Jane comes and tells me that above 300 houses have been burned down, and that it is now burning down all Fish Street, by London Bridge. So I made myself ready, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon one of the high places; and there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side of the bridge. So down with my heart full of trouble to the lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the king's baker's house in Pudding Lane.
So I down to the waterside, and there got a boat, and through bridge, and there saw a lamentable fire. Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river, or bringing them into lighters that lay off; poor people staying in their houses till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats or clambering from one pair of stairs by the waterside to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loth to leave their houses, but hovered about the windows and balconies till they burned their wings and fell down. Having staid, and in an hour's time seen the fire rage every way, and nobody, to my sight, endeavouring to quench it, I to White Hall, and there up to the king's closet in the chapel, where people come about me, and I did give them an account which dismayed them all, and word was carried in to the king.
So I was called for, and did tell the king and Duke of York what I saw, and that unless his majesty did command houses to be pulled down, nothing could stop the fire. They seemed much troubled, and the king commanded me to go to my lord mayor from him and command him to spare no houses, but to pull down before the fire every way. Meeting with Captain Cocke, I in his coach, which he lent me, to Paul's, and there walked along Watling Street, as well as I could, every creature coming away loaded with goods to save, and here and there sick people carried away in beds. At last met my lord mayor in Canning Street, like a man spent. To the king's message, he cried, like a fainting woman, "Lord! what can I do? I am spent; people will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses; but the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it. " So I walked home, seeing people almost all distracted, and no manner of means used to quench the fire. The houses, too, so very thick thereabouts, and full of matter for burning, as pitch and tar in Thames Street, and warehouses of oil and wines and brandy.
Soon as I dined, I away, and walked through the City, the streets full of people, and horses and carts loaden with goods. To Paul's Wharf, where I took boat, and saw the fire was now got further, both below and above bridge, and no likelihood of stopping it. Met with the king and Duke of York in their barge. Their order was only to pull down houses apace; but little was or could be done, the fire coming so fast. Having seen as much as I could, I away to White Hall by appointment, and there walked to St. James's Park, and there met my wife, and Creed and Wood and his wife, and walked to my boat; and upon the water again, and to the fire, still increasing, and the wind great. So near the fire as we could for smoke, and all over the Thames you were almost burned with a shower of fire-drops.
When you could endure no more upon the water, we to a little ale-house on the Bankside, and there stayed till it was dark almost, and saw the fire grow; and as it grew darker, appeared more and more, and in corners and upon steeples, and between churches and houses, as far as we could see up the hill of the City, in a most horrid, malicious, bloody flame, not like the fine flame of an ordinary fire. We stayed till, it being darkish, we saw the fire as only one entire arch of fire from this to the other side of the bridge, and in a bow up the hill for an arch of above a mile long; it made me weep to see it. The churches, houses, and all on fire and flaming at once; and a horrid noise the flames made, and the cracking of houses at their ruin. So home with a sad heart.
March 27. I did go to the Swan; and there sent for Jervas my old periwig-maker and he did bring me a periwig; but it was full of nits, so as I was troubled to see it (it being his old fault) and did send him to make it clean.
April 26. To White Hall, and there saw the Duke of Albemarle, who is not well, and do grow crazy. Then I took a turn with Mr. Evelyn, with whom I walked two hours; talking of the badness of the government, where nothing but wickedness, and wicked men and women command the king; that it is not in his nature to gainsay anything that relates to his pleasures; that much of it arises from the sickliness of our ministers of state, who cannot be about him as the idle companions are, and therefore he gives way to the young rogues; and then from the negligence of the clergy, that a bishop shall never be seen about him, as the King of France hath always; that the king would fain have some of the same gang to be lord treasurer, which would be yet worse.
And Mr. Evelyn tells me of several of the menial servants of the court lacking bread, that have not received a farthing wages since the king's coming in. He tells me that now the Countess Castlemaine do carry all before her. He did tell me of the ridiculous humour of our king and knights of the Garter the other day, who, whereas heretofore their robes were only to be worn during their ceremonies, these, as proud of their coats, did wear them all day till night, and then rode in the park with them on. Nay, he tells me he did see my Lord Oxford and Duke of Monmouth in a hackney coach with two footmen in the park, with their robes on, which is a most scandalous thing, so as all gravity may be said to be lost among us.
August 18. Being weary, turned into St Dunstan's church, where I hear an able sermon of the minister of the place. And stood by a pretty, modest maid, whom I did labour to take by the hand and the body; but she would not, but got further and further from me, and at last I could perceive her to take pins out of her pocket to prick me if I should touch her again ...
October 25. After supper, to have my head combed by Deb, which occasioned the greatest sorrow to me that ever I knew in this world; for my wife, coming up suddenly, did find me embracing the girl with my hand under her skirts; and indeed, I was with my hand in her cunny. I was at a wonderful loss upon it, and the girl also; and I endeavoured to put it off, but my wife was struck mute and grew angry, and as her voice came to her, grew quite out of order. But after her much crying and reproaching me with inconstancy and preferring a sorry girl before her, I did give her no provocations but did promise all fair usage to her, and love.
November 30. My wife after dinner went the first time abroad in her coach, calling on Roger Pepys, and visiting Mrs. Creed and my cousin Turner. Thus endeth this month with very good content, but most expenseful to my purse on things of pleasure, having furnished my wife's closet and the best chamber, and a coach and horses that ever I knew in the world; and I am put into the greatest condition of outward state that ever I was in, or hoped ever to be. But my eyes are come to that condition that I am not able to work. God do His will in it!
December 2. Abroad with my wife, the first time that ever I rode in my own coach, which do make my heart rejoice and praise God. So she and I to the king's playhouse, and there saw "The Usurper," a pretty good play. Then we to White Hall; where my wife stayed while I up to the duchess, to speak with the Duke of York; and here saw all the ladies, and heard the silly discourse of the king with his people about him.
December 21. To the Duke's playhouse, and saw "Macbeth." The king and court there, and we sat just under them and my Lady Castlemaine. And my wife, by my troth, appeared, I think, as pretty as any of them; I never thought so much before, and so did Talbot and W. Hewer. The king and Duke of York minded me, and smiled upon me; but it vexed me to see Moll Davis in the box over the king and my Lady Castlemaine, look down upon the king, and he up to her. And so did my Lady Castlemaine once; but when she saw Moll Davis she looked like fire, which troubled me.
May 31. Up very betimes, and continued all the morning examining my accounts, in order to the fitting myself to go abroad beyond sea, which the ill-condition of my eyes and my neglect hath kept me behindhand in. Had another meeting with the Duke of York at White Hall on yesterday's work, and made a good advance; and so being called by my wife, we to the park, Mary Batelier and a Dutch gentleman, a friend of hers, being with us. Thence to "The World's End," a drinking house by the park; and there merry, and so home late.
And thus ends all that I doubt I shall ever be able to do with my own eyes in the keeping of my journal, having done now so long as to undo my eyes almost every time that I take a pen in my hand; and therefore resolve, from this time forward to have it kept by my people in longhand, and must be contented to set down no more than is fit for them and all the world to know. And so I betake myself to that course, which is almost as much as to see myself go into my grave; for which, and all the discomforts that will accompany my being blind, the good God prepare me!
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