Samuel Pepys: Techno Geek; Blogger

One the most prominent Restoration bloggers is Samuel Pepys, who can be described as a techno-geek.


In his blog missive for Monday 11 February 1661 he recounts witnessing the “many pretty pleasures in persectives” (cf. microscopes) at the premises of young Mr. Reeve – optical instrument maker to the King. So taken was he, that he immediately bought one for the modest sum of 5 shillings.

Like so many new toys, this appears to have gone into a drawer to gather dust. Soon, however, he was using the fashionable term for persectives – that is microscopes (and telescopes) – making furture trips to the young Mr. Reeves to sate his desire to “discover a louse or sand or mites most perfectly and largely“.

On Monday 25 July 1664, an urge came over him to return to the young Mr. Reeves, as it had come “just now in my head to buy a microscope”. The young Mr. Reeves was not within, so Sammy descended into a gloom “I walked all round that end of the town among the loathsome people and houses, but, God be thanked! had no desire to visit any of them”.

The next day, he returned to the young Mr. Reeves and choose a microscope which he would have. Microscopes remained on his mind, and about a fortnight later, on Lord’s Day – after a laying long during his he caressed and talked to his wife – he was conversing with John Spong, his musical friend and suspected traitor. Mr. Spong builds his own microscopes, and recounted to Sammy that he had discovered “that the wings of a moth is made just as the feathers of the wing of a bird, and that most plainly and certainly”.

This appears to have galvinized Sammy into splashing out, and that he did on Saturday 13 August 1664 when the young Mr. Reeve made a personal delivery of a microscope, for which Sammy paid the princely sum of 5 pounds 6 shillings. This was assured to be the latest model, and shit-hot. Sammy also purchased a scotoscope, the function of which he was greatly unsure.

Sammy then rushed out to buy the first published work in English on microscopy, Henry Power’s Experimental philosophy, in three books : containing new experiments microscopical, mercurial, magnetical : with some deductions, and probable hypotheses, raised from them, in avouchment and illustration of the now famous atomical hypothesis.

With the microscope-craze sweeping the country, new publications inevitably appear: notably Robert Hooke’s Micrographia: or, some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses. On Monday 2 January 1666, after spending a good while sporting with a serving wench at Swan Inn, Sammy visited his bookseller, Joshua Kirkton, and espied a copy in binding; which he impulsively ordered.

Robert Hooke's Microscope

I would be interested to know if Sammy pursues his interest in microscopy. Mr. Hooke’s observations, especially those of a compartments within the tissue of cork (I believe they are termed “cells”), and knowledge of such matters of natural philosophy interest me greatly.

Sammy’s latest blog missive is for Wednesday 27 June 1666. I have had a strange premonition that, on Lord’s Day 2 September 1666, he will write:

Bit of plague down at Cheapside, strange scent of burning from Pudding Lane. Next day, I will present myself at the blasted microscope seller. Now to bed.


Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: