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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Samuel Pepys (1633–1703)

Extracts from the Diary

A Christening

ROSE early, and put six spoons and a porringer of silver in my pocket to give away to-day. To dinner at Sir William Batten’s; and then, after a walk in the fine gardens, we went to Mrs. Browne’s, where Sir W. Pen and I were godfathers, and Mrs. Jordan and Shipman godmothers to her boy. And there, before and after the christening, we were with the woman above in her chamber; but whether we carried ourselves well or ill, I know not; but I was directed by young Mrs. Batten. One passage of a lady that ate wafers with her dog did a little displease me. I did give the midwife 10s. and the nurse 5s. and the maid of the house 2s. But for as much I expected to give the name to the child, but did not (it being called John), I forbore then to give my plate.

On Dress

THIS morning came home my fine Camlett cloak, with gold buttons, and a silk suit, which cost me much money, and I pray God to make me able to pay for it. In the afternoon to the Abbey, where a good sermon by a stranger, but no Common Prayer yet….

To my great sorrow find myself £43 worse than I was the last month, which was then £760, and now it is but £717. But it hath chiefly arisen from my layings-out in clothes for myself and wife; viz., for her about £12 and for myself £55, or thereabouts; having had made for myself a velvet cloak, two new cloth skirts, black, plain both; a new shag gown, trimmed with gold buttons and twist; with a new hat, and silk tops for my legs, and many other things, being resolved henceforward to go like myself. And also two perriwigs, one whereof costs me £3 and the other 40s. I have worn neither yet, but will begin next week, God willing.

A Prize Fight

ABROAD, and stopped at Bear-garden stairs, there to see a prize fought. But the house so full there was no getting in there, so forced to go through an alehouse into the pit, where the bears are baited; and upon a stool did see two men fight, which they did very furiously, a butcher and a waterman. The former had the better all along, till by and by the latter dropped his sword out of his hand, and the butcher, whether not seeing his sword dropped I know not, but did give him a cut over the wrist, so as he was disabled to fight any longer. But, Lord! to see how in a minute the whole stage was full of watermen to revenge the foul play, and the butchers to defend their fellow, though most blamed him; and there they all fell to it, to knocking down and cutting many on each side. It was pleasant to see, but that I stood in the pit, and feared that in the tumult I might get some hurt. At last the battle broke up, and so I away.

On Plays and Music

WITH my wife to the King’s house to see “The Virgin Martyr,” the first time it hath been acted a great while; and it is mighty pleasant; not that the play is worth much, but it is finely acted by Beck Marshall. But that which did please me beyond anything in the whole world, was the wind-music when the angel comes down; which is so sweet that it ravished me, and indeed, in a word, did wrap up my soul so that it made me really sick, just as I have formerly been when in love with my wife; that neither then, nor all the evening going home, and at home, I was able to think of anything, but remained all night transported, so as I could not believe that ever any music hath that real command over the soul of a man as this did upon me; and makes me resolved to practise wind-music, and to make my wife do the like….

Creed and I to the Duke of York’s playhouse; and there coming late, up to the balcony-box, where we did find my Lady Castlemaine and several great ladies; and there we sat with them, and I saw “The Impertinents” once more, now three times, and the three only days it hath been acted. And to see the folly how the house do this day cry up the play more than yesterday! And I for that reason like it, I find, the better, too. By Sir Positive At-all, I understand is meant Sir Robert Howard. My Lady pretty well pleased with it; but here I sat close to her fine woman, Willson, who indeed is very handsome. I asked, and she told me this was the first time her Lady had seen it, I having a mind to say something to her. One thing of familiarity I observed in my Lady Castlemaine: she called to one of her women, another that sat by this, for a little patch off of her face, and put it into her mouth, and wetted it and so clapped it upon her own by the side of her mouth, I suppose she feeling a pimple rising there….

Meeting Dr. Gibbons, he and I to see an organ at the Dean of Westminster’s lodgings at the Abbey, the Bishop of Rochester’s, where he lives like a great prelate, his lodgings being very good; though at present under great disgrace at Court, being put by his Clerk of the Closet’s place. I saw his lady, of whom the Terra Filius of Oxford was once so merry, and two children, whereof one a very pretty little boy, like him, so fat and black. Here I saw the organ; but it is too big for my house, and the fashion do not please me enough, and therefore I will not have it. To the nursery where none of us ever were before; where the house is better and the music better than we looked for, and the acting not much worse, because I expected as bad as could be; and I was not much mistaken, for it was so.


UP betimes, and shaved myself after a week’s growth: but, Lord! how ugly I was yesterday, and how fine to-day!