Samuel Pepys : English Prose Writting

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       Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) is the more lovable of the two, and is probably known more intimately to the world than any other writer. He was born in London, and educated at St Paul's and later at Cambridge. Through the influence of his kinsman, Sir Edward Montagu (later Earl of Sandwich), he became Clerk of the Acts of the Navy in 1660. From then on he prospered steadily, and eventually he became Secretary to the Admiralty and a Member of Parliament.

Pepys' Diary opens on January 1, 1660 and continues until May 31, 1669, when his failing eyesight led him to abandon writing at night. Written in cypher, which was not decoded until 1819, it was intended for no eyes but his own and is the most frank and intimate revelation of a human life which is known to us.
Samuel Pepys

      The panic folowing the Popish Plot (1679) led to an unjustified charge of popery and a period in the Tower, followed by some years of unemployment. From 1684 to 1688 he was again Secretary to the Admiralty, and in these years he carried through an extensive reform of the administration of the Navy. With the arrival of the naw government he lost his post, and he spent the remainder of his life in retirement.

      Pepys' Diary opens on January 1, 1660 and continues until May 31, 1669, when his failing eyesight led him to abandon writing at night. Written in cypher, which was not decoded until 1819, it was intended for no eyes but his own and is the most frank and intimate revelation of a human life which is known to us. It shows an amazing lack of reticence, and abounds in minute details of great personal and historical interest. It reveals Pepys as a man of the world, keenly interested in his material advancement; as a great lover of music and the theatre; above all it shows him as intensely human, with many endearing human qualities and many equally human failings-vanity, ill temper, a fondness for fine clothes, good food, and attractive women - a man constantly vowing to amend his way of life, and as constantly failing to do so.

      It does less than justice to Samuel Pepys, the industrious, clear-sighted enemy of corruption in the civil service, the administrator who rescued the Navy from graft and decrepitude, the honest official and the real patriot. Of this other Pepys something is seen in his Memories relating to the state of the Royal Navy (1690). The Diary has no pretensions to literary style - its greatness and charm lie in the unaffected natural-ness of the writing and its narrative skill. As a historical document it provides a fascinating view of the life of Restoration London and the impact upon it of the Great Plague and Great Fire.

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