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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Sunday, February 20, 2011

S. Pepys, dilettante extraordinaire

An English street

      Samuel Pepys ( peeps) is not just the man with the funny name.  He was a wonderful dilettante.  Though he lived in the 17th Century (1633-1703), we know all about his daily life.  He kept a secret diary from 1660 to 1669 and stopped writing only because he was going blind. He wrote the diary in code and left it by will to Magdalene College, Cambridge, where it is still preserved in the Pepsian Library.  
      The diary is a complete picture of his time and his inner life.  He was in a position to know all that was going on in his world, and he had a great curiosity about people and experiences.  He rose from genteel poverty to become Secretary of the British Navy.  He was said to have served this office and all the ones leading to it with utmost integrity.  In his private life, he was a patron of the arts,  lover of the theater, skilled musician, collector of books and curiosities, and an interested friend to great minds of his day. He loved good food and wine and the companionship of women.
      He married the love of his life when he was 22 and she only 15.  The marriage was childless.  He wrote much about his wife and his marriage in the diaries, their fights, his infidelities, and their social lives.  
       His diary entries are straight forward.  There is no guile or attempt to hide the truth.  Of course, he was writing for himself.  It is a little strange that he wrote for himself and wrote in code, but willed the diaries, six bound volumes, to a college library.  The code was not a difficult one to decipher, but the ordinary person picking it up and his wife would not be able to read it.  
      You could say that Pepys was one of the first English bloggers.  Many books and articles have been written about Pepys.  There is one current blog about Pepys that you may like to examine.  It records much that is in the diaries:

Readers in the Mist, a blog of New Mountain City Library of  New South Wales, Australia


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