“A WORK OF STANDARD IMPORTANCE IN ENGLISH LITERATURE”
PEPYS, Samuel. Memoirs of Samuel Pepys… Comprising His Diary From 1659 to 1669, Deciphered… And a Selection from His Private Correspondence. Edited by Richard, Lord Braybrooke. London: Henry Colburn, 1825. Two volumes. Quarto, mid-20th century three-quarter black morocco gilt, raised bands, top edges gilt. $5500.
First edition of Samuel Pepys’ influential and entertaining diary, with engraved frontispiece portrait of Pepys and 13 other engraved plates, handsomely bound, from the libraries of the London Institution and “Pepys & Company” playwright Jerry D. Melton.
"The writer made no scruple of committing his most secret thoughts to paper. It is a human document, illustrating the manners and habits of the age" (Rosenbach 33:281). Secretary to the Admiralty during the reigns of Charles II and James II, Pepys began keeping a diary at age 27. He ended it nine years later for fear of losing his eyesight, but not before he had filled six volumes with closely written shorthand. This diary languished in the Magdalene College library until the Reverend John Smith deciphered its text between 1819-22. It was published in 1825. "To read Pepys is to be transported immediately into his world. His diary is not so much a record of events as a recreation of them. Not all the passages are as picturesque as the famous set pieces in which he describes Charles II's coronation or the Great Fire of London, but there is not an entry which does not in some degree display the same power of summoning back to life the events it relates… Throughout the diary Pepys writes mainly as an observer of people. It is this that makes him the most human and accessible of diarists, and that gives the Diary its special quality as a historical record" (Robert Latham). "The best book of its kind in the English language… Pepys is marvelously entertaining: the times and the man peep out in a thousand odd circumstances and amusing expressions… The ablest picture of the age in which the writer lived, and a work of standard importance in English Literature" (Allibone, 1557). With 13 engraved plates, including frontispiece portrait of Pepys and a folding plan of the Dutch fleet. Volume I with half title. Grolier 100, 150. Lowndes, 1828. Catalogue of the Library of the London Institution, 291 (this copy). Inkstamps (including to plates) of the London Institution, "the largest and wealthiest 'popular' scientific establishment in London" in the first half of the 19th century (J.N. Hays). Bookplates of Jerry D. Melton, award-winning director of the Hollywood High School theater department and author of the play Pepys & Company. Binder's ticket at rear of Volume II.
Scattered light foxing, occasional offsetting and soiling. Volume I with occasional closed tears, most repaired; inner paper hinges split, bindings sound. Volume II with occasional marginal closed tears, some repaired. Light rubbing and minor abrasions to bindings. An extremely good copy.