Samuel Pepys jots it all down

Samuel Pepys's ``Diary'' ran only from 1660 to 1669, but when his private shorthand was transcribed almost two centuries later it was enough to make his name synonymous with the diarist's not-for-publication art. Here, in passages from 1662, Pepys writes as husband, churchgoer, and playgoer.

September 27th. My wife's chamber put into a good readiness against her coming, which she did at night; for Will did, by my leave, go to meet her upon the road, and at night did bring me word she was come to my brother's, by my order. So I went thither to her. Being come, I found her, and her maid, and her dog very well, and herself grown a little fatter than she was. . . .

28th. (Lord's day.) To the French Church at the Savoy, and there they have the Common Prayer Book read in French, and, which I never saw before, the minister do preach with his hat off, I suppose in further conformity with our Church.

29th. (Michaelmas day.) 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. Home, where I find Mr. Deane, of Woolwich, hath sent me the modell he had promised me; but it so far exceeds my expectation, that I am sorry almost he should make such a present to no greater a person, but I am exceedingly glad of it, and shall study to do him a courtesy for it.

30th. To the Duke's play-house, where we saw ``The Duchess of Malfy'' well performed, but Betterton and Ianthe [Mrs. Betterton] to admiration. . . . As for the office, my late industry hath been such as I am become as high in reputation as any man there, and good hold I have of Mr. Coventry and Sir G. Carteret, which I am resolved, and it is necessary for me, to maintain, by all fair means. Things are all quiet. The late outing of the Presbyterian clergy, by their not renouncing the Covenant as the Act of Parliament commands, is the greatest piece of state now in discourse. But, for ought I see, they are gone out very peaceably, and the people not so much concerned therein as was expected.

October 2d. At night, hearing that there was a play at the Cockpit, and my Lord Sandwich, who come to town last night, at it, I do go thither, and by very great fortune did follow four or five gentlemen who were carried to a little private door in a wall, and so crept through a narrow place, and come into one of the boxes next the King's, but so as I could not see the King or Queen, but many of the fine ladies, who yet are not really so handsome generally as I used to take them to be, but that they are finely dressed. Then we saw ``The Cardinall,'' a tragedy I had never seen before, nor is there any great matter in it. The company that come in with me into the box were all Frenchmen, that could speak no English; but, Lord! what sport they made to ask a pretty lady that they got among them, that understood both French and English, to make her tell them what the actors said.

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