"The Concise Pepys Diary" by Samuel Pepys (1669)
"Blessed be God, at the end of the 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."
7th. Blessed be ?, at the beginning of this month I am in good health, without any sense of my old ADD, though troubled I am by work. I live in Taitung, Taiwan, having my wife, our two daughters, and five cats, with no other family than us... nine.
"3rd. Mr. Coventry told us how the Fanatiques and Presbyters, that did intend to rise about this time, did choose this day as the most auspicious to them in their endeavors against monarchy: it being fatal twice to the King, and the day of Oliver's death. But, blessed be God! all is likely to be quiet, I hope. Dr. Fairbrother tells me, what I heard confirmed since, that it was fully resolved by the King's new Council that an indulgence should be granted..."
9th. Mr. Pepys does tell us how the King doth scheme against the Parliament, and the Parliament doth scheme against the King. And when not scheming the King does busy himself with his mistresses, as Mr. Pepys does busy himself with the intrigues of court and the amassing of wealth. It's all very repetitive, really, and many has been the time I've fallen asleep over this book.
"17th. Povey tells me how my Lord Barkeley will say openly, that he hath sought more set fields than any man in England hath done."
15th. Almost halfway through this book. Interesting; his comments upon Shakespeare. It seems that the Bard and Mr. Pepys were contemporaries, and Mr. Pepys was not overly fond of Shakespeare's plays. It makes me wonder what parts of our own culture will be exalted by future ages. Will our love for Steven Spielberg and Dan Brown be justified by our descendants, or will they instead choose other elements of our culture to admire - aspects of it that we ourselves fail to notice?
"3rd. This day, I hear, hath been a conference between the two Houses about the Bill for examining Accounts, wherein the House of Lords their proceedings in petitioning the King for doing it by Commission, are in great heat voted by the Commons, after the conference, unparliamentary."
20th. Got very drunk the other night. But not Samuel Pepys. He never gets drunk. Or at least he never writes about it. He is the Protestant work ethic personified. And what ethic do I personify? How is the age in which I live embodied in my person?
"29th. At night comes Mr. Turner to see us; and there, among other talk, she tells me that Mr. William Pen, who is lately come over from Ireland, is a Quaker again, or some very melancholy thing; that he cares for no company, nor comes into any; which is a pleasant thing, after his being abroad so long, and his father such a hypocritical rogue, and at this time an Atheist."
25th. I think I would like this Mr. Pepys, but he worries too much about other people. He has a great desire to be liked, and so he is entirely too circumspect in his behavior. But perhaps he can be excused this failing. Perhaps it is only the effect of the time he lived in, when men great and small could be laid low at the whim of a King.
"I all the afternoon drawing up a foul draught of my petition to the Duke of York about my eyes, for leave to spend three or four months out of the office, drawing it so as to give occasion to a voyage abroad; which I did to my pretty good liking. And then with my wife to Hyde Park, where a good deal of company and good weather."
28th. Spent part of the afternoon writing this post about Samuel Pepys and his diary. A long book, and most repetitious, but it was at times gratifying to find this very normal, very decent man living so long before me, in an age very different from my own.