Description

    "If there is in all the world a book which can be called unique with strict propriety, this is it." - Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Samuel Pepys. Memoirs of Samuel Pepys. Comprising His Diary from 1659 to 1669, Deciphered by the Rev. John Smith A.B. of St. John's College, Cambridge, from the Original Short-Hand Ms. in the Pepysian Library, and a Selection from His Private Correspondence. Edited by Richard, Lord Braybrooke. London: Henry Colburn, 1825. First edition. Approximately 11.5 x 8.75 inches. Two quarto volumes. [2], xlii, 498, [2], xlix, [3]; [2], 348, vii, [1], 311, [1] pages. Engraved frontispiece in each volume, and eleven engraved plates (one folding), and embellished with two engraved illustrations in the text. Contemporary full calf, covers double-ruled in gilt. Rebacked in modern brown morocco, spines ruled, burgundy gilt morocco lettering labels. Bound without half-titles, some wear to binding, plates offsetting to text and with some foxing. Overall, a very attractive and clean set.

    Written in shorthand between 1660 and 1669, it was eventually deciphered in 1825 by the Reverend John Smith who said of his work: "The original Diary is written in Short-hand, & extends to upwards of 3,000 pages...I deciphered the whole, & transcribed it in nearly 10,000 Quarto pages. When I commenced it, I did not know a single character of Short-hand, wh. varies much in places when Pepys wished to be unusually secret, & it occupied me in incessant labour for three years..." (Drinkwater, J. Pepys His Life & Character, pp. 207-8). These large volumes are considered the craft of the excellent typographers, the Bentleys. The frontispiece portrait in Volume I is after the painting by Kneller and was engraved by T. Bragg, and a smaller portrait used as a head-piece to the Life is signed R.W. Sculp. "It is the very private nature of the Diary which provides its piquancy: here was no writing for a public, no sensationalism, no needless embellishment. It is in such passages as the description of the Great Fire that Pepys reveals his shrewd powers of observation, his matter-of-factness and, in a strange way, an almost modern journalistic technique" (Blackwell's of Oxford Catalogue). Grolier, 100 English 75, Sterling 674.


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    Auction Dates
    February, 2012
    8th Wednesday
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