Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
 
Epsom Downs
By Samuel Pepys (1633–1703)
 
14th July 1667 (Lord’s Day).—Up, and my wife, a little before four, and to make us ready; and by and by Mrs. Turner came to us, by agreement, and she and I stayed talking below, while my wife dressed herself, which vexed me that she was so long about it, keeping us till past five o’clock before she was ready. She ready; and, taking some bottles of wine, and beer, and some cold fowl with us into the coach, we took coach and four horses, which I had provided last night, and so away. A very fine day, and so towards Epsom, talking all the way pleasantly, and particularly of the pride and ignorance of Mrs. Lowther, in having of her train carried up. The country very fine, only the way very dusty. To Epsom, by eight o’clock, to the well; where much company, and I drank the water: they did not, but I did drink four pints. And to the town, to the King’s Head; and we hear that my Lord Buckhurst and Nelly are lodged at the next house, and Sir Charles Sedley with them: and keep a merry house. Poor girl! I pity her; but more the loss of her at the King’s house. W. Hewer rode with us, and I left him and the women, and myself walked to church, where few people to what I expected, and none I knew but all the Houblons brothers, and them I did salute, and walk with towards my inn. James did tell me that I was the only happy man of the navy, of whom, he says, during all this freedom the people have taken to speaking treason, he hath not heard one bad word of me, which is a great joy to me; for I hear the same of others, but do know that I have deserved as well as most. We parted to meet anon, and I to my women into a better room, which the people of the house borrowed for us, and there to a good dinner, and were merry, and Pembleton came to us, who happened to be in the house, and there talked and were merry. After dinner, he gone, we all lay down, the day being wonderful hot, to sleep, and each of us took a good nap, and then rose; and here Tom Wilson come to see me, and sat and talked an hour; and I perceive he hath been much acquainted with Dr. Fuller (Tom), and Dr. Pierson, and several of the great cavalier parsons during the late troubles; and I was glad to hear him talk of them, which he did very ingenuously, and very much of Dr. Fuller’s art of memory, which he did tell me several instances of. By and by he parted, and we took coach and to take the air, there being a fine breeze abroad; and I carried them to the well, and there filled some bottles of water to carry home with me; and there I talked with the two women that farm the well at £12 per annum of the lord of the manor. Mr. Evelyn with his lady, and also my Lord George Berkeley’s lady, and their fine daughter, that the King of France liked so well, and did dance so rich in jewels before the king at the ball I was at at our Court, last winter, and also their son, a Knight of the Bath, were at church this morning. Here W. Hewer’s horse broke loose, and we had the sport to see him taken again. Then I carried them to see my cousin Pepys’s house, and ’light, and walked round about it, and they like it, as indeed it deserves very well, and is a pretty place; and then I walked them to the wood hard by, and there got them in the thickets till they had lost themselves, and I could not find the way into any of the walks in the wood, which indeed are very pleasant, if I could have found them. At last got out of the wood again; and I, by leaping down the little bank, coming out of the wood, did sprain my right foot, which brought me great present pain, but presently, with walking, it went away for the present, and so the women and W. Hewer and I walked upon the Downs, where a flock of sheep was; and the most pleasant and innocent sight that ever I saw in my life. We found a shepherd and his little boy reading, far from any houses or sight of people, the Bible to him; so I made the boy read to me, which he did, with the forced tone that children usually do read, that was mighty pretty, and then I did give him something, and went to the father, and talked with him; and I find he had been a servant in my cousin Pepys’s house, and told me what was become of their old servants. He did content himself mightily in my liking his boy’s reading, and did bless God for him, the most like one of the old patriarchs that ever I saw in my life, and it brought those thoughts of the old age of the world in my mind for two or three days after. We took notice of his woollen knit stockings of two colours mixed, and of his shoes shod with iron, both at the toe and heels, and with great nails in the soles of his feet, which was mighty pretty: and taking notice of them, why, says the poor man, the downs, you see, are full of stones, and we are fain to shoe ourselves thus; and these, says he, will make the stones fly till they ring before me. I did give the poor man something, for which he was mighty thankful, and I tried to cast stones with his horn crook. He values his dog mightily, that would turn a sheep any way which he would have him, when he goes to fold them: told me there was about eighteen score sheep in his flock, and that he hath four shillings a week the year round for keeping of them: and Mrs. Turner, in the common fields here, did gather one of the prettiest nosegays that ever I saw in my life. So to our coach, and through Mr. Minnes’s wood, and looked upon Mr. Evelyn’s house; and so over the common, and through Epsom town to our inn, in the way stopping a poor woman with her milk-pail, and in one of my gilt tumblers, did drink our bellyfuls of milk, better than any cream; and so to our inn, and there had a dish of cream, but it was sour, and so had no pleasure in it; and so paid our reckoning, and took coach, it being about seven at night, and passed and saw the people walking with their wives and children to take the air, and we set off for home, the sun by and by going down, and we in the cool of the evening all the way with much pleasure home, talking and pleasing ourselves with the pleasure of this day’s work. Mrs. Turner mightily pleased with my resolution, which, I tell her, is never to keep a country house, but to keep a coach, and with my wife on the Saturday to go sometimes for a day to this place, and then quit to another place; and there is more variety and as little charge, and no trouble, as there is in a country house. Anon it grew dark, and we had the pleasure to see several glow-worms, which was mighty pretty, but my foot begins more and more to pain me, which Mrs. Turner, by keeping her warm hand upon it, did much ease; but so that when we come home, which was just at eleven at night, I was not able to walk from the lane’s end to my house without being helped. So to bed, and there had a cerecloth laid to my foot, but in great pain all night long.  1
 
 
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