Tuesday, October 30, 2012
The Diary of Samuel Pepys: 53% Complete
First of all, a moment to celebrate. I have officially passed the halfway mark in The Diary of Samuel Pepys. I did not, however, make my goal of reaching that point by the end of the weekend, as by Sunday night I was only up to 48%. But I buckled down on Monday and now stand firmly on the other side of the mark.
In diary news, the plague is upon us. One of the things Pepys's diary is most famous for is it's first-hand account of the great plague of London in the summer and early fall of 1665, and that is where I am reading at right now.
For a vocabulary word, I tried to find a plague-related term but I couldn't find one, so the word of the day is "debauchee" which is related to another noun with which I was already familiar: debauchery. This word simply means "a person given to excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures." (definition directly from the New Oxford American Dictionary)
For today's quote I've actually chosen a few that have to do with the plague that is sweeping through London. The notes in [brackets] are my own for clarification. The first one is actually one of the very first references Pepys makes to the plague in June of 1665. He writes:
"This day, much against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and 'Lord have mercy upon us' writ there; which was a sad sight to me, being the first of the kind that, to my remembrance, I ever saw. It put me into an ill conception of myself and my smell, so that I was forced to buy some roll-tobacco to smell and chaw, which took away the apprehension."
Then later in the summer he writes:
"The sicknesse is got into our parish this week, and is got, indeed, every where; so that I begin to think of setting things in order, which I pray God enable me to put both as to soul and body."
And still later:
"The people die so, that now it seems they are fain [forced] to carry the dead to be buried by day-light, the nights not sufficing to do it in. And my Lord Mayor commands people to be within at nine at night all, as they say, that the sick may have liberty to go abroad [outside] for ayre."
A few days later he fears a run-in himself with these processions to bury the dead and he writes:
"Thence with a lanthorn, in great fear of meeting of dead corpses carried to be buried; but, blessed be God, met none, but did see now and then a linke [a torch] (which is the mark of them) at a distance."
I certainly am grateful we have no such plague here and now.