Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sam Pepys Jr

A few years ago, looking through the bargain box of a now-defunct bookshop in Exmouth Market, I found A Second Diary of the Great Warr, From Jan'y, 1916 to June, 1917; by Sam'l Pepys, Jun'r., sometime of Magdalene College in Cambridge and of His Majesty's Navy Office, Esquire, M.A.; with effigies by John Kettelwell, Newly Engraven at large upon Copper Published in 1917 by the Bodley Head the book is a diary of day-to-day life in London during World War I, written in a pretty good imitation of Pepys' style.

The shop owner didn't to tell me anything about it (that's why he put it in the bargain bin), and for a long time my own efforts didn't turn up much more. A
Google search for the title brought up a few listings from antiquarian booksellers, revealing only that the book was the sequel to A Diary of the Great Warr (duh) and that there was at least one subsequent book in the series. A search for the illustrator likewise brought up a few scattered references.

Finally, enlightenment came in the form of Garry Motter, who read an earlier version of this page and contacted me with the following information:


Like you, my first encounter was with the
Second Diary, but I have since acquired "A Diary of
the Great Warr" and "A Last Diary of the Great Warr,"
being the whole set.

I have also discovered that he is a pseudonym for one
R. M. Freeman. He also wrote "Samuel Pepys, Listener"
in the 1920's, describing his adventures with the
radio. But this one is not so good, and rather clumsy.
It was published by Dutton in 1931, having been
serialized previously by The Radio Times.


A few excerpts from the Second Diary (with supplementary links, mainly from the very useful firstworldwar.com):

May 18, 1916. To the club to committee, where I did bring up the first of my complaints, to wit, the foulness of the windows; and we carried it for a sub-committee to enquire hereon with the steward, namely, myself and two other members; to my great content. Home, and seeing by the way gooseburies being now marked 4d. the lb., I did allow my wife that she now order them for our table; of which I have till to-day eaten only at the club or at others' tables.

July 19, 1916. Up, and an urgent message from Mr. Grainger, our warr works secretary, of his great need of all hands for making splints; and, upon this, seeing news from Genll. Haig of the Germans falling upon our army with the greatest possible force of numbers, I to work with all speed, and had a dozen pr. (the wood-work) done ere I halted for refreshing, thinking of the poor cripples that shall soon need them. So to the club, and ate of a very good veal pasty, to which a pott of ale. The talk is all of the sad condition of our army in Mesopotamia, which is, it seems, now smitten with the cholera morbus. And presently, Major Maggs coming, who was himself of Aylmer's army, but now home of a dysentery, a most grievous report he makes of the whole business from the time of their retreating from Bagdad; how the poor sick and wounded men suffer for lack of chyrurgeons and physick, and other matters, having no beds to lie on, nor boats nor carts to carry them, and, among other things, flyes and scorpions tormenting them to madnesse. ...

Aug. 3, 1916. This forenoon was hanged R. Casement, and at the last moment, it seems, did turn Catholique and has 2 priests to confess and housel him, and were, I hear, a mighty long time about it. His thus turning Catholique is judged a stranger thing in him allmost than his turning German, being Irish, and they do ever make the stoutest Protestants.

Aug. 20 (Lord's Day), 1916. With my wife to the Regent's Park, and to see the menagerie; where I was sorry to find that the great man drill is dead that lived in a hutch by the monkeyarium, and was the ugliest beast that ever was in the world allmost. Speaking of whom with one of their keepers, he laments very grievously our having no longer in London any beast so ugly as he believes the men be in Berlin, by their pictures; allbeit hath hopes of the baboon they put in the man drill's hutch, that he shall grow as ugly as von Tirpitz, if it please God spare him. ...

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