Preface to the Original Edition

In submitting the following pages to the public, I feel that it is incumbent upon me to explain, by what circumstances the materials from which the work has been compiled were placed at my disposal. The original diary, comprehending six volumes, closely written in short-hand by Mr Pepys himself, belonged to the valuable collection of books and prints, bequeathed by him to Magdalene College, Cambridge, and had remained there unexamined, till the appointment of my brother, the present Master, under whose auspices the manuscript was deciphered by Mr John Smith, with a view to its publication.

My ‘‘brother’’s time, however, being too much engrossed by more important duties to admit of his editing the work, the task of preparing it for the press was undertaken by me at his request.

The Diary commences January 1st, 1659/60, and after being regularly kept for ten years, it is brought to a sudden conclusion, owing to the weak state of Mr Pepys’s eyes, which precluded him from continuing or resuming the occupation. As he was in the habit of recording the most trifling occurrences of his life, it became absolutely necessary to curtail the manuscript materially, and in many instances to condense the matter, but the greatest care has been taken to preserve the original meaning, without making a single addition, excepting where, from the short-hand being defective, some alteration appeared absolutely necessary. It may be objected by those who are not aware how little is known from authentic sources of the history of the stage about the period of the Restoration, that the notices of theatrical performances occur too frequently, but as many of the incidents recorded, connected with this subject, are not to be met with elsewhere, I thought myself justified in retaining them, at the risk of fatiguing those readers who have no taste for the concerns of the drama. The general details may also, in some instances, even in their abridged form, be considered as too minute, nor is it an easy task, in an undertaking of this sort, to please everybody’s taste my principal study in making the selection, however, has been to omit nothing of public interest, and to introduce at the same time a great variety of other topics, less important, perhaps, but tending in some degree to illustrate the manners and habits of the age.

In justice to Mr Pepys’s literary reputation, the reader is forewarned that he is not to expect to find in the diary accuracy of style or finished composition. He should rather consider the work as a collection of reminiscences hastily thrown together at the end of each succeeding day, for the exclusive perusal of the Author.

The Journal contains the most unquestionable evidences of veracity, and, as the writer made no scruple of committing his most secret thoughts to paper, encouraged no doubt by the confidence which he derived from the use of short-hand, perhaps there never was a publication more implicitly to be relied upon for the authenticity of its statements and the exactness with which every fact is detailed Upon this point, I can venture to speak with the less hesitation, having in preparing the sheets for the press, had occasion to compare many parts of the Diary with different accounts of the same transactions recorded elsewhere, and in no instance could I detect any material error or wilful misrepresentation.

The notes at the bottom of the pages were introduced to elucidate obscure passages, and I have been tempted occasionally to insert short biographical sketches of the principal persons who are named, accompanied by such references as will enable the curious reader to inform himself more fully respecting them. In some instances, I experienced considerable difficulty in identifying the individuals, but I trust that the notices will be found, on the whole, sufficiently correct to answer the object intended.

When the concluding sheets of the Diary were nearly worked off, I was apprised by my friend, Dr Bandinel, that a great mass of original papers formerly belonging to Mr Pepys had been deposited in the Bodleian Library, among Dr Rawlinson’s collections, and I immediately proceeded to Oxford to examine them As I found as many as seventy volumes of different descriptions, put together without any arrangement, and in no one instance furnished with an Index, it was impossible, in the short time allowed, to examine the contents very minutely, I was enabled, however, with the assistance of Mr William Upcott, of the London Institution, who kindly volunteered his services on the occasion, to select a great number of letters, which will be found in the correspondence comprised in the fifth volume of the Memoirs1 We could not obtain any conclusive evidence as to the manner in which these papers came into Dr Rawlinson’s

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