You might call this A Tale of Two Pepys, both of whom were involved with printing. The famous Samuel Pepys lived in the 1600’s. The other lived around the early 1900’s. The latter may or may not be real. He could well be an editor or writer for The Printing Trade News using the pseudonym, and writing in the style of Samuel Pepys.
What’s amusing is that both Pepys write as much about their own weaknesses as they do about the events of daily life. It’s these foibles that made the original Diary of Samuel Pepys a hit in the 1800’s. The other Pepys was apparently a New York City printer who lived life in the same fast lane as the original Pepys, although he seems a bit grumpier. But then, as I can personally attest, printing in the city can do that to you. I’ll save that for another article!
I leave them to tell the tales. And I didn’t bother to sort them by date since they seem so timeless.
Dec 2, 1666
My head not very well, and my body out of order by last night’s drinking, which is my great folly. To church, and Mr. Mills made a good sermon; so home to dinner. My wife and I all alone to a leg of mutton, the sauce of which being made sweet, I was angry at it, and eat none, but only dined upon the marrow bone that we had beside.
Dec. 16, 1913
Arose late and by city ferry to Manhattan and to office late and in bad temper, what with finding force late and shop untidy. Busy at my scrivening and whatnot, with many visitors who valued neither their time nor mine. In evening to lodge, which was called in special session, and did acquit myself ill. To bed late.
Oct. 5, 1666
Up, and with my father talking awhile, then to the office, and there troubled with a message from Lord Peterborough about money; but I did give as kind answer as I could, though I hate him.
Oct. 25, 1666
…and so I back again home and to the office, where we sat all the morning, but to little purpose but to receive clamours for money.
Oct. 30, 1666
At night home to supper, and singing with my wife, who hath lately begun to learn, and I think will come to do something, though her ear is not good, nor I, I confess, have patience enough to teach her, or hear her sing now and then a note out of tune, and am to blame that I cannot bear with that in her which is fit I should do with her as a learner, and one that I desire much could sing, and so should encourage her. This I was troubled at, for I do find that I do put her out of heart, and make her fearful to sing before me. So after supper to bed.
Sept. 9, 1666
I to church, where our parson made a melancholy but good sermon; and many and most in the church cried, specially the women. The church mighty full; but few of fashion, and most strangers. [They probably took his regular seat.]
Oct. 1, 1666
Thence to White Hall, and there did hear Betty Michell was at this end of the town, and so without breach of vow did stay to endeavor to meet with her and carry her home; but she did not come, so I lost my whole afternoon. But pretty! How I took another pretty woman for her, taking her a clap on the breech, thinking verily it had been her.
Jan 12, 1668
[As you can tell by the previous entry, Pepys was known to have a wondering eye for the women. The result: a jealous and fiery wife.]
This evening I observed my wife mighty dull, and I myself was not mighty fond, because of some hard words she did give me at noon, out of a jealousy at my being abroad this morning, which, God knows, it was upon the business of the Office unexpectedly: but I to bed, not thinking but she would come after me. But waking by and by out of a slumber, which I usually fall into presently after my coming into the bed, I found she did not prepare to come to bed, but got fresh candles, and more wood for her fire, it being mighty cold, too…At last, about one o’clock, she come to my side of the bed, and drew my curtain open, and with the tongs red hot at the ends, made as if she did design to pinch me with them, at which, in dismay, I rose up, and with a few words she laid them down; and did by little and, little, very sillily, let all the discourse fall; and about two, but with much seeming difficulty, come to bed,…and I cannot blame her jealousy, though it do vex me to the heart.
Dec. 17, 1913
To labor late. Saw Mr. Ford, who told me of his preparation for making printer’s inks work easily and well. In the afternoon to the fine new McAlpin Inn, where the Printers’ League was in annual session and where were discussed many matters of interest—but more especially wages paid the workmen. Then to the barber’s who told me the inn was securing many Southern guests, for which he was sorry as he received small fees from them.
Dec. 18, 1913—the day after the Printer’s League party
Up early, but feeling ill from lack of sleep, and especially so that I must go with my good mistress to the shops to buy Xmas gifts, which I like but little. Laboring until 12, then to luncheon at Hahn’s, where the fare is good, but service inattentive and reckoning [the final bill] high.
April 14, 1701
(Letter from Pepys to a Mr. Wanley about his involvement in laying out and binding a book. You could call this the daily binder’s lament.)
I send you also with this the Isidore (a book) you presented me with, and which, since you will not be denied, I thankfully accept, and shall bestow good binding upon it. But that I may do it as it ought to be, there being no number to the pages, or other direction for the bookbinder, in the due placing of the leaves, when loose, (as they will all be when taken in pieces,) I shall pray you to help me in it, numbering them in their due order, in some corner, where the book binder may see them ; observing where any leaf or more may be missing, to note the same, that I may put blank leaves in their room, to be here after filled by some perfect book, as I shall have opportunity for it. And, if you please, let my messenger know when he shall wait on you again for it ; or else send it me yourself by your porter when it is done.
The original Pepys was a bibliophile with more than 3000 books in his collection at his death. We’ll never really know about the rascally New York fellow. Well, my eyes ache, so it’s off to lunch. But I don’t think I’ll get angry at the food.