Samuel Pepys' diary is a fascinating and often earthy record of life in the mid-17th century, from Pepys' point view close to the center of power. It is now available as a 17th Century Blog, a brainwave on the part of Phil Gyford, who has been adding daily entries since 2003. This is a great way to dip into the diary, and there are discussion groups too. Here is the URL: http://www.pepysdiary.com/.
The text comes from the Gutenburg Project, which makes copyright-free literature available (for free) on the Internet - please link to http://promo.net/pg/ .
The portrait at right is in the National Portrait Gallery London (http://npg.org.uk)
Here is an extract from the diary entry for 6th July 1661, complete with a smelly corpse and a will Pepys is keen to see. Is Pepys the source of the phrase "in a pickle"?
Waked this morning with news, brought me by a messenger on purpose, that my uncle Robert is dead, and died yesterday; so I rose sorry in some respect, glad in my expectations in another respect. ..... My uncle’s corps in a coffin standing upon joynt-stools in the chimney in the hall; but it begun to smell, and so I caused it to be set forth in the yard all night, and watched by two men. My aunt I found in bed in a most nasty ugly pickle, made me sick to see it. My father and I lay together tonight, I greedy to see the will, but did not ask to see it till to- morrow. (source www.pepysdiary.com)