« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
influence, and the navy to this day is deeply indebted to him for the improvements he introduced into its ad. ministration. He lost his employments at the Revolution, and retired to a life of scholarly leisure, dying in 1703. In 1684 he had become President of the Royal Society, of which he had been one of the earliest members, and long after his retirement the members continued to meet at his house.
Pepys bequeathed his library to Magdalen College, Cambridge, where it is preserved in exactly the same condition as he left it. The immortal Diary was among the books, but attracted no notice until about 1811. It was shortly afterwards deciphered by the Rev. J. Smith, and published in 1825 by Lord Bray brooke, who omitted much of the most racy and characteristic part as below the dignity of history. These omissions were principally supplied in the edition of the Rev. Mynors Bright, 1875; and Mr. Henry Wheatley is now publishing an edition absolutely complete, with the exception of some few passages positively unprintable.
No work of the kind in the world's literature can for a moment be compared to Pepys's Diary; but many circumstances must combine ere the existence of such a book is possible. It is characteristic of Pepys to be at once a very extraordinary and a very ordinary person. In one point of view he is the most perfect representative imaginable of the bourgeois type of humanity, worthy, sensible, indispensable, and at the same time dull, prosaic, and narrow-minded. Yet this solid citizen has a dash of the Gil Blas in him too; aņd his little rogueries and servilities appear the more amusing by contrast with the really estimable and respectable background of his character. These qualities combined make a perfect hero of autobiography ; his ordinary qualities awaken a fellow-feeling for so characteristic a specimen of average humanity, and his deviations from the straight path communicate the piquancy of comedy, sometimes the exuberance of farce. Extraordinary he is too, for assuredly no one ever recorded his thoughts and actions with such absolute sincerity; or if anyone ever did, his thoughts and actions were not worthy of record. Those of Pepys, somehow, always seem worthy of being perpetuated. However trivial they may sometimes be, they are saved by the writer's admirable manner, and the contagious earnestness of his conviction that they are in truth of deep concern. The reader, moreover, is continually exercised by the problem whether his author is really aware of the display he is making of himself. If he is, he is a miracle of courage; if not, his obtuseness is equally extraordinary. The Diary, besides, is no less admirable as a delineation of the macrocosm than of the microcosm. It paints the official and private circles in which the author moved, the course of public affairs, the humours of social life, with no less truth and frankness than it reveals the author himself. It is by far the most valuable document extant for the understanding of the times; better than all the histories and all the comedies. It seems an unequalled piece of irony that the supreme piece of workmanship in its way and the most lucid mirror of its age should be the performance of an ordinary citizen who had not the least idea that he was doing anything remarkable; who expected celebrity, if he expected it at all, from his official tasks and scientific recreations ; who shrouded his work in shorthand lest the world should profit by it; and who would have been dismayed beyond measure if he had foreseen that it would be published after his death. Many chances have conspired for its preservation; it is wonderful that the writer should not have destroyed it; beyond expectation that he should have be
queathed it to Magdalen College; fortunate, to say the least, that it should have been so well preserved there, and have attracted attention at last. We shall never be able to determine whether we have more reason to be thankful that it was carried on so long, and so fortunately preserved, or to lament that it was not continued throughout the periods of the Popish Plot and the Rye House Plot, of Monmouth's rising, and of the Revolution.
The Diary extends from January 1st, 1660, to May 31st, 1669, when Pepys writes, 'And thus ends all that I doubt I shall ever be able to do with my own eyes in the keeping of my journal.' He recovered his sight, at least to a greatextent, but the habit was broken, and never resumed. He had in the interim seen and described the Restoration, the Great Plague, the Great Fire, and the great disaster of 1667, when the Dutch burned the English fleet in the Medway. During this time he had seen continually and been on terms more or less intimate with Charles II., the Duke of York, Monk, Clarendon, Sandwich, Shaftesbury, Sir William Coventry, and a multitude of persons of lower degree of almost every class of society except the Puritans, who are only represented by his worthy predecessor in office, Mr. Blackburne. He has displayed himself to us in almost every possible attitude, attending to accounts, drafting state papers, measuring the timber in the dockyards, giving and taking bribes, defending himself before the House of Commons, alternately a Mercury and a Mentor to his patron, dissipating at the theatre, flirting and something more with actresses and pretty servants, helping to set the Royal Society going, sitting for his portrait, practising music, buying and binding books, a perfect Proteus, yet always the same Pepys, a true type of his age in its peculiar idiosyncrasies, and of human nature in its essential sameness, heroic in no respect, yet admirable in many, and, with many meannesses, by no means despicable, as good an example as can be found of the truth of Goethe's dictum :
Ein guter Mensch in seinem dunkeln Drange
Ist sich des rechten Weges wohl bewusst.' It is impossible to pass over so unique a work as the Diary without extract, yet extracts can only convey the impression of bricks from a building. The following have been selected chiefly with reference to their incomparable quaintness and raciness, the one grace which our literature has forfeited without hope of recovery.
I did carry
July 18, 1660. Thence to my Lord about business, and being in talk in comes one with half a buck from Hinchinbroke, and it smelling a little strong my Lord did give it to me. it to my mother.
July 8, 1661. But, above all, our trouble is to find that his estate appears nothing as we expected, and as all the world believes; nor his papers so well sorted as I would have had them, but all in confusion, that break my brains to understand them. We missed also the surrenders of his copyhold land, without which the land would not come to us, but to the heir-atlaw, so that what with this, and the badness of the drink, and the ill opinion I have of the meat, and the biting of the gnats by night, and my disappointment in getting home this week, and the trouble of sorting all the papers, I am almost out of my wits with trouble, only I appear the more contented, because I would not have my father troubled.
• Feb. 19, 1665. In the evening comes Mr. Andrews, and we sung together, and at supper hearing by accident of my maids their letting in a roguing Scotch woman that haunts the office, to help them to wash and scour in our house, and that very lately, I fell mightily out, and made my wife, to the disturbance of the house and neighbours, to beat our little girl, and then we shut her down into the cellars, and there she lay all night.
* July 12, 1667. Thence after dinner home, and there find my wife in a dogged humour for my not dining at home, and I did give her a pull by the nose and some ill words, which she pro
voked me to by something she spoke, that we fell extraordinarily out, insomuch that, I going to the office to avoid further anger, she followed me in a devilish manner thither, and with much ado I got her into the garden out of hearing, to prevent shame, and so home, and by degrees I find it necessary to calm her, and did, and then to the office, where pretty late, and then to walk with her in the garden, and pretty good friends, and so to bed with my mind quiet.
· Aug. 18, 1667. I walked towards White Hall, but, being weary, turned into St. Dunstan's Church, where I heard an able sermon of the minister of the place; and stood by a pretty, modest maid, whom I did labour to take by the hand; but she would not, but got further and further from me; and at last I could perceive her to take pins out of her pocket to prick me if I should touch her again ; which seeing I did forbear, and was glad I did spy her design. And then I fell to gaze upon another pretty maid in a pew close to me, and she on me; and I did go about to take her by the hand, which she suffered a little and then withdrew. So the sermon ended, and the church broke up,
and my amours also.
• Oct. 4, 1667. To see Sir W. Batten. He is asleep, and so I could not see him; but in an hour after word is brought me that he is so ill that it is believed he cannot live till to-morrow, which troubles me and my wife mightily, partly out of kindness, he being a good neighbour, and partly out of the money he owes me, upon our bargain of the late prize.'
The naïveté of these passages, and of hundreds more like them, remains unequalled in literature. Novelists, as Le Sage in Gil Blas and Thackeray in Barry Lyndon, have striven hard to make their personages paint themselves as they really are, but their art is far excelled by Pepys's nature. If, as Carlyle deems, speech and hearing were principally bestowed upon us that our brother might impart to us truly how it stands with him in that inner man of his,' no man has turned the former of these gifts to better account than Pepys. The same sincerity renders him a truthful mirror of public sentiment; and his very