Imágenes de páginas

their complaints, -the just and reasonable demands which, from one end of this island to the other, they have repeatedly and respectfully brought forward; and yet we tell them, even in the face of Parliament, that, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, they are the authors of their own destruction!*

A stain already rests upon the reputation of our country, for the past neglect of this large portion of our fellow subjects. We may hope by promptitude to lighten, though we cannot entirely remove it. But it will darken, and become indelible, if another session of Parliament be allowed to pass by, without a strenuous effort to protect their lives and improve their social condition.

Art. VIII. - 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. 3d Edition, considerably enlarged. 5 vols.

London: 1848-9. A VARIETY of circumstances have combined to diffuse a more

general knowledge of these agreeable volumes than can usually be anticipated by the reviewer of a new publication. Though they really contain, in their present complete form, much attractive novelty, yet the substance of their contents has been long before the public. Even the series now before us appeared in a succession of single volumes; each of which naturally revived the consideration so deservedly due to the whole. Nor can we well omit to mention that the admirable parodies of a popular periodical have familiarised every English reader with those peculiarities of style, sentiment, and character which necessarily furnish the distinctive features of such a book as this. Notwithstanding, however, these forestalments of our functions, we are loth to be altogether deprived of so pleasant a subject of disquisition: and we indulge our inclinations the more readily, from the conviction we feel that the volumes in question will supply not only ourselves, but many a successor, with inexhaustible materials for reflection, reference, parallels, and observation.

Who and what Mr. Samuel Pepys was, has been often heretofore related, and will appear, we trust, more particularly as we proceed. Dying in his seventy-second year, on the 26th of May, 1703, he bequeathed to Magdalene College, Cambridge, an

* Debate on Mr. T. Duncombe's motion, July 4. 1849.

extraordinary accumulation of literary treasures. Of these the most conspicuous portion was his private library of books and manuscripts; collected, as tradition says, by no very scrupulous means, and certainly with no inconsiderable expenditure of pains and money. The circumstances of the collection and the bequest were equally curious. There is no reason to believe that Pepys, at least in the early part of his life, had any strong tendency to what is called book-learning.' He was, it is true, of sedentary habits, of a most inquisitive disposition, and gifted besides with many of those tastes or fancies which lead to the acquirement of a good deal of multifarious knowledge. But he certainly was not, in our sense of the word, either a scholar or a student. He neither was nor pretended to be deeply or accurately read in any branch of learning or science. He was an admirable man of business, an excellent accountant, endowed, as is evident, with a prodigious faculty of methodical arrangement, and probably as efficient a public servant, in this respect, as ever lived. But of his literary capacities there remain few records more substantial than the diary now under review. All the duties of his pretensions and station he discharged, on the whole, with great liberality and zeal. If not a learned man, he was a 'patron of liteérature and the fine arts,' and, as his noble editor most truly remarks, the numerous books dedicated to him furnish ample tes

timony of his munificence. He was besides a virtuoso, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a short-hand writer. He was reputed of a good fancy in architecture, in hangings, in jewellery, in costume, and in pictures. He subscribed fifty plates to Willoughby's Historia Piscium, as many pounds to the new buildings of Magdalene College, and a handsome cup to the Clothworkers' Company. He played a pocket flageolet wherever he found an echo, sang catches in public gardens to the admiration of the promenaders, and criticised the performances in the Chapel Royal, with the authority not merely of an amateur, but an artist. He attended at the representation of every new play, and at the exhibition of every new philosophical experiment. He bought all the new mathematical instruments as they were invented, and occupied himself for a reasonable time with each successive novelty. While we are upon the subject of his personal qualifications, we may just record one fact-in exemplification of our own care in perusing his diary. His features have been perpetuated by Sir Godfrey Kneller, in what we must presume to be a striking portrait-though we make bold to say that, unless great allowance is due to the levelling effects of fullbottomed wigs and laced cravats, the individual specimens of the human race must have all resembled each other much more, in

[ocr errors]

those days than at present. Such as he was depicted, however, on canvass, he is now to be seen, in the very front of Lord Braybrooke's first volume; but we are not aware that any person has yet discovered his exact height. We have now, therefore, to state that since, on the 4th of Jan. 1669, he could . just stand under the arm of the tall woman in Holborne,' which said woman appears, by a subsequent entry, to have been “exactly six feet five inches high, Mr. Pepys, in the 37th year of his age, could not greatly have exceeded the stature of five feet three! If any reader should think the fact thus elicited of small importance, we can assure him that it is just such a one as the ingenious author of the Diary would have been most anxious to see recorded.

With all these qualifications, however, Mr. Pepys was certainly not a bookworm. We rarely find him engaged in the same study for three weeks together; and though his cursory remarks upon the publications which he did read, often show considerable acuteness and judgment, yet his selection of books for perusal was not very discriminating, and seems to have savoured a good deal of that taste which is still catered for in the drawing-room of a London club-house. But, fortunately for posterity, he was something of a bibliomaniac: And certainly contrived to form a remarkably good and interesting library; comprising not only many curiosities of early typography, but copious specimens of the fugitive literature of his day. Six large folio volumes, for instance, are filled with broadsides, songs, and ballads of every description, each of which is now almost unique; while the marketable value of the whole has been computed by thousands of pounds sterling. In addition to these treasures is an admirable library of the choicest books, bound after the choicest fashion, of the days of the Stuarts. These volumes were selected with infinite care and deliberation, and the reader of the Diary will frequently meet with a record of the precise time and price at which Mr. Pepys secured particular prizes. Thirty years, at least, before his death we find that he had resolved on no account to fill more than a certain number of

presses;' and accordingly, as he acquired any new or valuable publication fitted for a place on his shelves, he weeded his library of its least dignified or considerable specimens, to

for the new comers. At the beginning of each year, too, with the help of his wife and maid, he was wont to set

them up'afresh; and we are favoured with particular records of the appearance which the presses' made at any one period, compared with the show of the previous year. The 14th of January, 1668, seems to have been devoted to this amusement. VOL. XC. NO. CLXXXII.


make way

[ocr errors]

• To my chamber, having a great many books brought me home “ from my bookbinder, and so I to the new setting of my books

against the next year - which costs me more trouble than I expected, and at it till two o'clock in the morning. Even this, however, did not content him; for on the 2nd of the next month we again find him all the morning setting my books in order in my presses for the following year, -- their

number being • much increased since the last, so as I am fain to lay by several

books to make room for better— being resolved to keep no more than just my presses will contain. After this exercise he adjourns to a very good dinner, of a powdered leg of pork and a loin of lamb roasted:'

This library, thus perfected by thirty years' rectification and refinement, Mr. Pepys at length bequeathed to Magdalene College, Cambridge ; on conditions which included its preservation for ages to come in the selfsame plight in which he had left it. The presses' were to remain unmutilated and undefaced, and were to be kept in an apartment exclusively devoted to themselves. Their contents were neither to be increased nor diminished by a single volume, but were to remain exactly in their original state and form. As he willed, so it has been. In a certain room of what was once called the new building of Magdalene College, and on the exterior wall of which may still be deciphered the inscription BIBLIOTHECA PEPYSIANA, was this collection for many years deposited; until, at a recent period, it was removed to an apartment in the new lodge lately erected for the Master of the College. There it now remains, — the 'presses and their contents being just as they were left, the former in all the glory of black mahogany and glazed doors, — the latter in their original bindings, and, probably enough, in their original order.

But the most precious specimen of this treasury was that with which we are now concerned. Amongst the books in the presses were six large volumes filled with writing in short-hand;. which remained undeciphered, if not unnoticed, for a century and a quarter. At length, some twenty or thirty years ago, they attracted the attention of persons competent to estimate their value, and the cipher was soon after submitted to a gentleman of St. John's College for interpretation. The problem proved not very difficult of solution : the cipher employed being but slightly varied from one commonly in use in those times, and even regularly taught in certain schools, for the purpose of enabling students to write rapidly from dictation. The contents of the mysterious volumes were, accordingly, soon translated into the vulgar tongue; and they were found to be nothing less than a faithful and particular Diary of Mr. Pepys's

life and conversation from the 1st of January, 1660, to the 31st of May, 1669. This Diary, or rather, a large selection from it, was first published by Lord Braybrooke in 1825; and the speedy sale of two large editions proved how accurately its interest had been estimated by its noble editor.

For reasons, however, to be hereafter noticed, it was not then thought proper to publish the journal in full, -its records being subjected to an expurgatorial process, which is now shown to have been conducted with rather excessive severity. When, therefore, a third edition of the Diary was determined upon, it became a question of some interest to decide whether the original scheme should or should not be abandoned, for a more unreserved communication of the author's thoughts. Fortunately for the reading portion of the public, this question was decided in the affirmative; and the result now finally appears in the five volumes specified at the head of this paper.

Trite as the biography has become, the convenience of our readers may, perhaps, be consulted by such a recapitulation of the leading facts of Mr. Pepys's life as will conduce to the ready appreciation of the Diary he left behind him. He was born on the 23rd of February, 1632; but whether at Brampton, in Huntingdonshire, or in London, appears to be now only ascertainable from the internal evidence supplied by his journal. It is plain that he was in very early youth familiarised with the Metropolis and its suburbs; but on the other hand Brampton was the residence of his father, and he was undoubtedly first sent to school at Huntingdon. Subsequently he went to St. Paul's, and received the completion of his education at Cambridge, where he was originally entered at Trinity; but having been attracted, apparently by a scholarship, to Magdalene, he commenced his academical residence at that college in 1651. Concerning his exploits at this seat of learning his biographers have unhappily been able to rescue only a single fact from oblivion, and that, too, not particularly to his honour. In the Registrar's book of Magdalene is recorded the following: Memorandum, Oct. 21, 1653. That Pepys and Hind were

solemnly admonished by myself and Mr. Hill, for having been * scandalously overserred with drink ye night before. This was • done in the presence of all the Fellows then resident, in Mr.

Hill's chamber. John Wood, Registrar.' Whether this admonition produced any permanent effects is, we fear, rather doubtful. We do not, it is true, meet with many confessions of his absolute intoxication, which certainly would not, had it occurred, have been omitted from his records — and he even remarks once that his father did, “ for the first time in his life, discerne that I had been drinking. On the other hand, the

« AnteriorContinuar »