The Diary of Samuel Pepys

The Diary of Samuel Pepys
‘There never was a man nearer being an artist who yet was not one.” –Robert Louis Stevenson

The Diary of Samuel Pepys is a without comparison in the vast compendium of historical nonfiction. According to Pepys Librarian at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Robert Latham, “His
Diary is one of the principal sources for many aspects of the history of its period.”
Found nearly 150 years after they were written, they laid bound in six leather volumes amidst the
3000 books Pepys left to the College. In 1825, Lord Braybrooke was the first to publish a
selection from the original short-hand notes. Other decoded copies were made over the next 100
years. This was because Pepys was a secretive man, and his passages were concealed in other
languages in trilingual fashion: Spanish, French and English. Pepys also penned detailed entries
written in tachygraphic shorthand. It seems clear that the diary was never meant for publication.
This cipher-text is usually done to hide extra-marital affairs for which he had many and probably
was his major reason for keeping the diary. Pepys cries “Peccavi” (Latin: I have sinned) over
and over again throughout the diary as if to inflict penance on himself.
Lawrence Stone contends that the diary was a “means both of confession of sin and of checking
upon [his] moral balance-sheet…brought up under Puritan direction…[he was] haunted
thereafter by a lingering sense of guilt about [the] exuberant enjoyment of all the pleasures of
life, especially those of the flesh.”
Pepys was born in London on February 23, 1623, and his life spanned the period of the
Restoration from start to finish. In 1649, he attended the execution of Charles I. Later, with the
sponsorship of one of his father’s cousins, Sir Edward Montagu (who would later be made the 1st
Earl of Sandwich), he attended Cambridge. He ultimately graduated from Magdalene College
with his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1654.
In 1660, Pepys began writing...