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Samuel Pepys
Greek statesman and Athenian general
(c. 495-429 BC)



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And so to bed.
-- Diary, January 4, 1660, and on many other dates

I went out to Charing Cross, to see Major-general Harrison hanged, drawn and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition.
-- Diary, October 13, 1660

A good honest and painfull sermon.
-- Diary, March 17, 1661
(Note: "Painful" here means "painstakingly written".)

If ever I was foxed it was now.
-- Diary, April 23, 1661

Methought it lessened my esteem of a king, that he should not be able to command the rain.
-- Diary, July 19, 1662

I see it is impossible for the King to have things done as cheap as other men.
-- Diary, July 21, 1662

Then to the King's Theatre, where we saw Midsummer's Night's Dream, which I had never seen before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life.
-- Diary, September 29, 1662

But Lord! to see the absurd nature of Englishmen, that cannot forbear laughing and jeering at every thing that looks strange.
-- Diary, November 27, 1662

My wife, who, poor wretch, is troubled by her lonely life.
-- Diary, December 19, 1662

Most of their discourse was about hunting, in a dialect I understand very little.
-- Diary, November 22, 1663

While we were talking came by severeal poor creatures carried, by constables, for being at a conventicle... I would to God they would either conform, or be more wise, and not be catched!
-- Diary, August 7, 1664

Pretty witty Nell.
-- Speaking of Nell Gwyn, in: Diary, April 3, 1665

This day, much against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and "Lord have mercy upon us" writ there; which was a sad sight to me, being the first of the kind that, to my remembrance, I ever saw. It put me into an ill conception of myself and my smell, so that I was forced to buy some roll-tobacco to smell to and chaw, which took away the apprehension.
-- Writing of the Great Plague, in: Diary, June 7, 1665

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 haire for fear of the infection -- that it had been cut off the heads of people dead of the plague.
-- Writing of the Great Plague, in: Diary, September 3, 1665

I saw a dead corpse in a coffin lie in the close unburied -- and a watch is constantly kept there, night and day, to keep the people in -- the plague making us cruel as dogs to one another.
-- Writing of the Great Plague, in: Diary, September 4, 1665

Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.
-- Diary, 9 November 1665

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 one with 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.
-- Diary, December 25, 1665

In the height of it [the Great Plague]... bold people there were to go to another's burials. And in spite to well people, would breathe in the faces... of well people going by.
-- Diary, February 12, 1666

Musique and women I cannot but give way to, whatever my business is.
-- Diary, March 9, 1666

The truth is, I do indulge myself a little the more in pleasure, knowing that this is the proper age of my life to do it; and out of my observation that most men that do thrive in the world, do forget to take pleasure during the time that they are getting their estate, but reserve that till they have got one, and then it is too late for them to enjoy it with any pleasure.
-- Diary, March 10, 1666

We to a little ale-house on the Bankside, over against the Three Cranes, 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. Barbary and her husband away before us. We stayed till, it being darkish, we saw the fire as only one entire arch of fire from this to the other side the bridge, and in a bow up the hill for an arch of above a mile long: it made me weep to see it. (...)

Poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats or clambering from one pair of stair by the water to another. (...)

A most horrid malicious bloody flame. It made me weep to see it.

Hardly one lighter or boat in three had the goods of a house in, but there was a pair of virginalls in it.
-- Writing of the Great Fire of London, in: Diary, September 2, 1666

Did satisfy myself mighty fair in the truth of the saying that the world do not grow old at all, but is in as good condition in all respects as ever it was.
-- Diary, February 3, 1667

Up, and at my chamber all the morning and the office doing business, and also reading a little of L'escholle des filles, which is a mighty lewd book, but yet not amiss for a sober man once to read over to inform himself in the villainy of the world.
-- Diary, February 9, 1668

But it is pretty to see what money will do.
-- Diary, March 21, 1668

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!
-- Diary, May 31, 1668 (closing lines of the Diary)


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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