Once again, thanks to Cardinal Wolsey’s Today in History and Phil Gyford’s excellent online version of Samuel Pepys’s diary, the worlds of woodworking and early modern England come together. Hold on to your buckled hats! The grumpy guy you see here is Samuel Pepys, (1633-1703) the famous diarist. He was known for writing about the Great Fire in London, and for writing about his sexpcapades (ewe) in code so his wife could never bust him. If you’re curious (and i don’t blame you—he’s got beautiful Vidal Sassoon [from the 80s!] hair) click here.
Anyway, here is Pepys’ disastrous attempt at DIY:
Wednesday 7 February 1665/66
It being fast day I staid at home all day long to set things to rights in my chamber by taking out all my books, and putting my chamber in the same condition it was before the plague. But in the morning doing of it, and knocking up a nail I did bruise my left thumb so as broke a great deal of my flesh off, that it hung by a little. It was a sight frighted my wife, but I put some balsam of Mrs. Turner’s to it, and though in great pain, yet went on with my business, and did it to my full content, setting every thing in order, in hopes now that the worst of our fears are over as to the plague for the next year. Interrupted I was by two or three occasions this day to my great vexation, having this the only day I have been able to set apart for this work since my coming to town. At night to supper, weary, and to bed, having had the plasterers and joiners also to do some jobbs.
-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor