Pepys and a contemporary diarist John Evelyn

Friday 16 September 1664

There is no way of summarizing today’s diary entry which is long and varied.  A debtor Sir W Warren gives Pepys L100 (pounds) in a local tavern, the Sun, situated at the rear of the Royal Exchange. Sir Warren was careful to be discrete with his transaction. Pepys takes a carriage home to celebrate and as an extra security precaution. Later on in the entry he writes that “In Russia it was said the poor people get into their owns, being heated, and there lie“.   The mind boggles.


The phone goes, slightly unexpectedly, at 10.30 this morning Sunday. A very Somerset voice says “are you the people that clear rubbish?”. Mindful of the Sabbath I said slightly frostily ” Yes I am but it is also Sunday morning” i.e. why re you calling me on a rest day morning. He was quite UN-phased by this and replied “Oh no I am all right with Sundays. I realised that my subtle sarcasm was lost on him. He said ” do you take away old sheds then?”. I decided for reasons best known to myself “no, sorry I cannot help you”.
If I recall, no one who has made initial contact on a Sunday has ever resulted in a job.


John Evelyn 1620-1706

Pepys was not the only diarist of his day. Credit must go to John Evelyn, born in 1620 in his family home Wotton House,  Surrey, three miles from Dorking. I find his style slightly more poetic and I assume his life style permitted him to write at any time of  day unlike our hard working employed Pepys.  He had the time to produce eight children. He is obviously a God fearing Catholic of style and substance. Many of his copious works lie in the British Library, his diary included. Evelyn’s grave lies in the church of St John in Wotton

From a review “Pepys was earthy and shrewd, while Evelyn was a genteel aesthete, but both were drawn to intellectual pursuits. Brought together by their work to alleviate the plight of sailors caught up in the Dutch wars, they shared an inexhaustible curiosity for life and for the exotic. Willes explores their mutual interests-diary-keeping, science, travel, and a love of books-and their divergent enthusiasms, Pepys for theater and music, Evelyn for horticulture and garden design”.

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