What Samuel Pepys and George Orwell wrote in their diariesby Ian Irvine / December 26, 2016 / Leave a comment
26th December, 1662
Samuel Pepys writes in his diary:
“Up, my wife to the making of Christmas pies all day, and I abroad to several places. To the Wardrobe. Hither come Mr Battersby; and we falling into discourse of a new book of drollery in verse, called Hudibras, I would needs go and find it out, and met with it at the Temple, cost me 2s 6d. But when I came to read it, it is so silly an abuse of the Presbyter Knight going to the wars, that I was ashamed of it; and by and by meeting at Mr Townsend’s at dinner, I sold it to him for 18d.”
26th December, 1938
George Orwell writes from Marrakech:
“Funnily enough we’ve been having the cold snap even here and on Xmas eve there was a heavy frost—don’t know whether that is usual here, but judging by the vegetation I don’t think it can be. I had the queer and rather pleasant experience of seeing the oranges and lemons on the trees frosted all over, which apparently didn’t damage them.
“The Atlas Mountains have been covered with snow even on the lower slopes for some time past. The Romans thought they were the end of the world, and they certainly look as if they might be. It’s generally fine and bright in the daytime, but we have fires all the time. The only fuel is olive wood, because there simply isn’t a wild tree for miles and miles. This is one of those countries which are very nearly desert and which just exactly support a small population of men and beasts who eat every eatable thing and burn every burnable thing on the surface, so that if there were one more person there’d be a famine. And to think that in Roman times North Africa was full of magnificent forests full of lions and elephants.
“The French hardly celebrate Xmas, only the New Year. The Arabs probably celebrate the New Year, but it may not be the same as ours. They are pretty strict Mahomedans, except that owing to poverty they are not overscrupulous about what they eat. We simply haven’t celebrated Xmas yet, but shall when we get a pudding that is coming from England. Eileen was ill on Xmas day and I actually forgot till the evening what day…