Although the Diary of Samuel Pepys has been in the hands of the public for nearly seventy years, it has not hitherto appeared in its entirety. In the original edition of 1825 scarcely half of the manuscript was printed. Lord Braybrooke added some passages as the various editions were published, but in the preface to his last edition he wrote: “there appeared indeed no necessity to amplify or in any way to alter the text of the Diary beyond the correction of a few verbal errors and corrupt passages hitherto overlooked.”
The public knew nothing as to what was left unprinted, and there was therefore a general feeling of gratification when it was announced some eighteen years ago that a new edition was to be published by the Rev. Mynors Bright, with the addition of new matter equal to a third of the whole. It was understood that at last the Diary was to appear in its entirety, but there was a passage in Mr. Bright’s preface which suggested a doubt respecting the necessary completeness. He wrote: “It would have been tedious to the reader if I had copied from the Diary the account of his daily work at the office.”
As a matter of fact, Mr. Bright left roughly speaking about one-fifth of the whole Diary still unprinted, although he transcribed the whole, and bequeathed his transcript to Magdalene College.
It has now been decided that the whole of the Diary shall be made public, with the exception of a few passages which cannot possibly be printed. It may be thought by some that these omissions are due to an unnecessary squeamishness, but it is not really so, and readers are therefore asked to have faith in the judgment of the editor. Where any passages have been omitted marks of omission are added, so that in all cases readers will know where anything has been left out.
Lord Braybrooke made the remark in his “Life of Pepys,” that “the cipher employed by him greatly resembles that known by the name of ‘Rich’s system.’” When Mr. Bright came to decipher the MS., he discovered that the shorthand system used by Pepys was an earlier one than Rich’s, viz., that of Thomas Shelton, who made his system public in 1620.
In his various editions Lord Braybrooke gave a large number of valuable notes, in the collection and arrangement of which he was assisted by the late Mr. John Holmes of the British Museum, and the late Mr. James Yeowell, sometime sub-editor of “Notes and Queries.” Where these notes are left unaltered in the present edition the letter “B.” has been affixed to them, but in many instances the notes have been altered and added to from later information, and in these cases no mark is affixed. A large number of additional notes are now supplied, but still much has had to be left unexplained. Many persons are mentioned in the Diary who were little known in the outer world, and in some instances it has been impossible to identify them. In other cases, however, it has been possible to throw light upon these persons by reference to different portions of the Diary itself. I would here ask the kind assistance of any reader who is able to illustrate passages that have been left unnoted. I have received much assistance from the various books in which the Diary is quoted. Every writer on the period covered by the Diary has been pleased to illustrate his subject by quotations from Pepys, and from these books it has often been possible to find information which helps to explain difficult passages in the Diary.
Much illustrative matter of value was obtained by Lord Braybrooke from the “Diurnall” of Thomas Rugge, which is preserved in the British Museum (Add. MSS. 10,116, 10,117). The following is the description of this interesting work as given by Lord Braybrooke
Est natura hominum novitatis avida. — Plinius.
“This MS. belonged, in 1693, to Thomas Grey, second Earl of Stamford. It has his autograph at the commencement, and on the sides are his arms (four quarterings) in gold. In 1819, it was sold by auction in London, as part of the collection of Thomas Lloyd, Esq. (No. 1465), and was then bought by Thomas Thorpe, bookseller. Whilst Mr. Lloyd was the possessor, the MS. was lent to Dr. Lingard, whose note of thanks to Mr. Lloyd is preserved in the volume. From Thorpe it appears to have passed to Mr. Heber, at the sale of whose MSS. in Feb. 1836, by Mr. Evans, of Pall Mall, it was purchased by the British Museum for £8 8s.
“Thomas Rugge was descended from an ancient Norfolk family, and two of his ancestors are described as Aldermen of Norwich. His death has been ascertained to have occurred about 1672; and in the Diary for the preceding year he complains that on account of his declining health, his entries will be but few. Nothing has been traced of his personal circumstances beyond the fact of his having lived for fourteen years in Covent Garden, then a fashionable locality.”
Another work I have found of the greatest value is the late Mr. J. E. Doyle’s “Official Baronage of England” (1886), which contains a mass of valuable information not easily to be obtained elsewhere. By reference to its pages I have been enabled to correct several erroneous dates in previous notes caused by a very natural confusion of years in the case of the months of January, February, and March, before it was finally fixed that the year should commence in January instead of March. More confusion has probably been introduced into history from this than from any other cause of a like nature. The reference to two years, as in the case of, say, Jan. 5, 1661–62, may appear clumsy, but it is the only safe plan of notation. If one year only is mentioned, the reader is never sure whether or not the correction has been made. It is a matter for sincere regret that the popular support was withheld from Mr. Doyle’s important undertaking, so that the author’s intention of publishing further volumes, containing the Baronies not dealt with in those already published, was frustrated.
My labours have been much lightened by the kind help which I have received from those interested in the subject. Lovers of Pepys are numerous, and I have found those I have applied to ever willing to give me such information as they possess. It is a singular pleasure, therefore, to have an opportunity of expressing publicly my thanks to these gentlemen, and among them I would especially mention Messrs. Fennell, Danby P. Fry, J. Eliot Hodgkin, Henry Jackson, J. K. Laughton, Julian Marshall, John Biddulph Martin, J. E. Matthew, Philip Norman, Richard B. Prosser, and Hugh Callendar, Fellow of Trinity College, who verified some of the passages in the manuscript. To the Master and Fellows of Magdalene College, also, I am especially indebted for allowing me to consult the treasures of the Pepysian Library, and more particularly my thanks are due to Mr. Arthur G. Peskett, the Librarian.
H. B. W.
BRAMPTON, OPPIDANS ROAD, LONDON, N.W.
Memoirs of Samuel Pepys, Esq., F.R.S., Secretary to the Admiralty in the reigns of Charles II. and James II., comprising his Diary from 1659 to 1669, deciphered by the Rev. John Smith, A.B., of St. John’s College, Cambridge, from the original Shorthand MS. in the Pepysian Library, and a Selection from his Private Correspondence. Edited by Richard, Lord Braybrooke. In two volumes. London, Henry Colburn . . . 1825. 4vo.
Memoirs of Samuel Pepys, Esq., F.R.S. . . . Second edition. In five volumes. London, Henry Colburn. . . . 1828. 8vo.
Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys, F.R.S., Secretary to the Admiralty in the reigns of Charles II. and James II.; with a Life and Notes by Richard, Lord Braybrooke; the third edition, considerably enlarged. London, Henry Colburn. . . . 1848–49. 5 vols. sm. 8vo.
Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys, F.R.S. . . . The fourth edition, revised and corrected. In four volumes. London, published for Henry Colburn by his successors, Hurst and Blackett . . . 1854. 8vo.
The copyright of Lord Braybrooke’s edition was purchased by the late Mr. Henry G. Bohn, who added the book to his Historical Library.
Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys, Esq., F.R.S., from his MS. Cypber in the Pepysian Library, with a Life and Notes by Richard, Lord Braybrooke. Deciphered, with additional notes, by the Rev. Mynors Bright, M.A. . . . London, Bickers and Son, 1875–79. 6 vols. 8vo.
Nos. 1, 2 and 3 being out of copyright have been reprinted by various publishers.
No. 5 is out of print.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59