The Life Of Samuel Pepys Essay Research

The Life Of Samuel Pepys Essay, Research Paper

III. The Life of Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys was born in London on February 23, 1633. At the age of 22, he married to Elizabeth St. Michael, 15. After graduating at University of Cambridge, he worked as a secretary for a relative, Admiral Edward Montagu, the first Earl of Sandwich. He appointed him in 1660 as a clerk in the navy office. Pepys became rich, except not by salary, but by bribes that he and his friends took, but he was an honest man, so the money never persuaded him. In 1665, he became the surveyor of victualing office of the Navy. It was said that he didn t even know his times tables yet he was the most efficient and

effective employee that they had ever had.

Soon after, he had asked for a leave of absence because his eyesight was failing. He then moved to France and Holland with his wife, but after he returned in November of 1669, she died of a fever. As a result he sought consolidation in unremitting his work. During 1673, Charles II made Pepys the secretary of the Admiralty, the Duke of York then being the Lord of Admiralty. In 1676, he became the Governor of Christ s Hospital and Master of the Trinity House and in 1677 he developed into be the Master of Cloth workers Company, a compliment to his tailor father. Pepys sat in Parliament for Harwich in 1679. He had enemies within the Parliament and in the same year they involved him in

an unjustifiable accusation of secret Roman Catholicism and Popish conspiracy, for which he had to spend a few months in the Tower.

He again became the secretary of Admiralty in 1684 and was then known as the right hand of the Navy, and also in 1685 became a Member of Parliament for Harwick for a second time. The revolution in 1688, which ousted James and brought in William III and Mary II, ended Pepys career. He was accused of sending Navy information to the French and was imprisoned in Gatehouse, Westminster, as an enemy of the state, but by now was called the Nestor of the Navy. Pepys was under technical arrest until 1690 and was of course relieved of his office. Charles and James owed him 28,000, of which he never received.

Samuel Pepys died on May 26, 1703 in London. From 1660 to 1669 Pepys kept a diary, but was forced to stop from his failing eyesight. It was deciphered and published in 1825. The diary revealed Pepys thoughts and daily activities, love of music and theatre, his domestic felicity as well as his casual amours.

IV. The Diary of Pepys

The Diary is written in a mixture of shorthand, Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, and German, and in just plain cipher. No two entries are alike. No doubt the objective facts that make up so much of the Diary are the main attractions of many of his readers: the barrel of oysters bought from the old woman in Gracious Street, the half-crown he gave to Mrs. Knipp s maid . . . (Sutherland 268-69) It contains poetry of little things; he arranges happenings of the day so that they seem significant. His interests were fairly

evenly divided between the contemplation of the world outside himself and an awareness of his own reactions to it. For here, for the only time in history, is a whole man, not as he would like to be or as he would like the world to think him, but as he is. Vanity, scandal, weakness – the vows to give up over-drinking and theatre-going, his philandering eyes, his quarrels and temper, . . . his love of music and religious fervor, his intimate life at home

with his wife and servants, journeys around London – they are all here. (Kunitz & Haycraft 403) It is a catalogue of those pedestrian virtues that the average puritanical man fancies that he has. The Diary is a constant reminder that there is a grace abounding to the chief of sinners, and it tells what England was in the mid seventeenth century. His diary has been so much quoted and misquoted, parodied and burlesqued isolated phrases have become such common tags – and so to bed, and my wife, poor wretch.

The Diary offers a man s behavior and character. On May 13, 1665, he goes to get his watch back from his watchmaker after hours. But Lord, to see how much of my old folly and childishness hangs upon me still, that I cannot forbear carrying my watch in my hand in the coach all this afternoon, and seeing what o clock it is one hundred times, and am apt to think with myself how could I be so long without one . . . Pepys had a lively curiosity and range of interests strengthening from trivial to philosophical. One feature of the Diary is the realization of the way in which his betters lived and sense of

being let into the secrets of a world for which his social background had given him little preparation. Pepys had an enthusiasm in theatre, so the Diary affords in many glimpses of plays and actors of the time. He also brought zest to play and church going, when he described a great deal of food, such as eel pie, swan, lobsters, and chines of beef. It was amazing because of the monumental size of the feast, not just the recording of the relish. Violence and death are unsurprising commonplaces of Pepys pages. In one place he wrote that of children born to relations of his within a single month of 1660, all five died. In years after the Restoration, we can see him ridding himself of Puritan inhibitions. January 1, 1660 through May 31 1669 is like reading a story of growing achievement as the young civil servant mastered his career.


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