Tuesday 29 May 1660

The King’s birthday.

Busy all the morning writing letters to London, among the rest one to Mr. Chetwind to give me an account of the fees due to the Herald for the Order of the Garter, which my Lord desires to know.

After dinner got all ready and sent away Mr. Cook to London with a letter and token to my wife.

After that abroad to shore with my Lord (which he offered me of himself, saying that I had a great deal of work to do this month, which was very true).

On shore we took horses, my Lord and Mr. Edward, Mr. Hetly and I, and three or four servants, and had a great deal of pleasure in riding. Among other things my Lord showed me a house that cost a great deal of money, and is built in so barren and inconvenient a place that my Lord calls it the fool’s house.

At last we came upon a very high cliff by the sea-side, and rode under it, we having laid great wagers, I and D. Mathews, that it was not so high as Paul’s; my Lord and Mr. Hetly, that it was. But we riding under it, my Lord made a pretty good measure of it with two sticks, and found it to be not above thirty-five yards high, and Paul’s is reckoned to be about ninety. From thence toward the barge again, and in our way found the people at Deal going to make a bonfire for joy of the day, it being the King’s birthday, and had some guns which they did fire at my Lord’s coming by. For which I did give twenty shillings among them to drink.

While we were on the top of the cliffe, we saw and heard our guns in the fleet go off for the same joy. And it being a pretty fair day we could see above twenty miles into France.

Being returned on board, my Lord called for Mr. Sheply’s book of Paul’s, by which we were confirmed in our wager. After that to supper and then to musique, and so to bed.

The pain that I have got last night by cold is not yet gone, but troubles me at the time of ….

This day, it is thought, the King do enter the city of London.1

56 Annotations

Grahamt  •  Link

"my Lord made a pretty good measure of it with two sticks":
Presumably using the method of similar triangles (geometry) rather than trigonometry, unless he had a set of trig tables in his pocket.
This level of mathematical knowledge (from a politician!) seems amazing in our age when estimating the height of a cliff would generally involve a GPS receiver and several multi million pound/dollar satellites!

Paul Brewster  •  Link

but troubles me at the time of pissing
per L&M; As a curiosity Wheatley's editor(?) here uses 4 dots to form the elipsis not 3 as elsewhere.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Making calculations of this sort was a favourite diversion of Mountagu's
per L&M footnote
"Dugdale give the height of the tower as 260 ft ... Evelyn used it as a measure of the height of a precipice in the Alps ... The spire, taken down in 1561, had been an additional 274 ft."

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Mr. Sheply's book of Paul's
L&M notes that this was probably Dugdale’s History St Paul’s Cathedral (1658). This is also the source of the dimensions that L&M report in their footnote.

Glyn  •  Link

Paul: old-fashioned editors once used ... in the middle of sentences and .... (as here) to show the end of a sentence, i.e. ellipsis (...) plus a full stop/period (.)

To measure heights you obviously have to be below the object, so they must surely have been riding along the seashore between the cliffs and the sea, which is a nice image. My estimate is that the cliff would have been about the height of a 10-storey building (35 yards = 105 feet). I agree that geometry (similar triangles) was probably the method used - perhaps still taught to boy scouts to measure the height of trees, but I've forgotten how to do it.

gerry  •  Link

You can get a rough estimate of height, certainly good enough for their puposes using good old Pythagoras.
I don't think I've ever heared a hill's height given in yards before.

Susanna  •  Link

Divers Maidens, etc.

These maids with their "white waistcoats and crimson petticoats" were probably a part of the celebration that met the King at Blackheath, which included "country swains, in a morris-dance with the old music and pipe." Charles II, like his grandfather, James I, who had gotten a similar welcome to London in 1603, was apparently much amused. (Ronald Hutton, The Rise and Fall of Merry England, pp. 223-224)

Mary  •  Link

The king's birthday

ref. the comments about delay in the annotations to 27th May, what more propitious day for the king to enter the city of London than his own birthday? This was surely part of the stage-management of the whole event.

As for hills being measured in yards, people were measured that way too; hence the famous 'Wanted' notices for Charles when he was on the run in England after his father's execution, describing him as 'a man over two yards high.'

helena murphy  •  Link

A sound grounding in mathematics was essential for navigation, therefore, Montague's knowledge is not at all surprising. Mathematics as a subject was then often neglected in schools, and many with seafaring ambitions had themselves taught by private tutors.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"the King do enter the city of London."
Echoing Mary's point, our age thinks it invented the media event, but clearly we are now seeing the unrolling of a complicated pavane designed to make the King's re-entry a triumphal coronation. The Restoration is to be won politically, not militarily, and to that end the King must appear regal, and pious, and sober, and beloved. So his entourage builds the suspense and lets the joyful words go before him.

And Sam is still besotted with his station, and his company, and with being able to hold his own and then some (winning the bet). Remember, he's only 26, and when Charles I was beheaded, he was a boy.

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

St Paul's, London
I just realized that the S.P. is referring here, not to the Sir Christopher Wren dome we are so familiar with, but to the tower of old St Paul's Cathedral, which will be destroyed in the fire in a very few years (oops, spoiler! :-) ).

PHE  •  Link

3 dots, 4 dots?
I think I'm relieved Sam never had the opportunity to travel by train.

PHE  •  Link

Although I consider myself a scientist, I have never in my 38 years come across someone, or considered myself, using "two sticks" to measure the height of a cliff or any other high feature (though I never did join the scouts). Looking back 300 years from our age of scientific advancement, I find it breathtaking to see such ingenuity used in such a simple everyday situation. This is an excellent example of how Pepys forces us to reassess our view of our own posistion in historical and human progress.

oliverm  •  Link

"...my Lord made a pretty good measure of it [the height of the cliff] with two sticks..."

anyone out there have an idea of how this was done? i don't imagine they were carrying trig tables around with them in their backpacks!

Grahamt  •  Link

OK, Here's how you calculate the height of a cliff using two sticks:
You can't use Pythagorus unless you know two of the sides of a triangle: not easy if you are at the bottom of a cliff.
Take the longer stick, (length a) push into sand some way from bottom of cliff. Take shorter stick, (length b) walk backwards with bottom of stick dragging on sand, sighting along top of stick until top of both sticks align with top of cliff. Measure distance between sticks (x) and between short stick and cliff (y).
Height of cliff is (y(a-b)/x) + a. In English, difference in length of sticks times distance from cliff, divided by distance between sticks, plus length of short stick. If one stick is one yard, the other two yards and you pace out the distances on the ground, in yards, then you naturally get the cliff height in yards.
Montague wasn't a sailor (he had to learn the names of ship parts like SP using models) so it is likely he knew this technque before he became a General at sea.
You can also do it with one stick, but you get a sandy nose and wet knees!

Ed LeZottte  •  Link

Refresh my memory -- are we talking "The Musgrave Ritual" here?

Grahamt  •  Link

An Example:
Stick a = 2 yards (one arm span)
stick b = one yard (nose to fingertips, half a span)
stick a is stuck in sand, stick b is moved back and tops all align at 2 yards (paces) from stick a.
Pacing out, b is 68 paces from bottom of cliff. Height of cliff is thus (68 x (2 - 1)/2) + 1 = (68/2) + 1 = 34 + 1 = 35 yards.

Nix  •  Link

"The Musgrave Ritual" --

From re-reading it, the method sounds similar but not identical.

The crux of the story, however, is very fitting for this venue (I won't be a spoiler, but anyone who is curious can read it yourself).


David Bell  •  Link

If you could get far enough back, you could get a rough measure with one stick.

Your outstretched arm holding the stick is one measure. You hold the stick so that it has the same effective length, align your fist with the base of the cliff and move back until the upper end of the stick aligns with the top.

The distance to the foot of the cliff is then the height.

Using a second stick as the horizontal arm would let you set up a different ratio than a simple 1:1 and so you wouldn't need so much room at the base of the cliff.

It may be that Montagu has picked up this sort of measurement, however he actually did it, as a soldier. It's the sort of thing gunners and engineers need to know how to do.

It's useful knowing how long a scaling ladder needs to be.

Grahamt  •  Link

I was hoping somebody would bring up measuring shadows, as in "The Musgrave Ritual" :-)
There is a very good reason this wouldn't work with the cliffs of Dover: They are south-facing and in May the sun rises in the south-east, is in the south at midday and sets in the south west, so the cliffs never cast a shadow on the beach. Sherlock Holmes is not as smart as Montague.

vincent  •  Link

"Rule of Thumb" or "eye balling " Me olde serge did tell me: Make a fist, cock ye thumb up, guestimate the height of sumert likes a man, he be say 6ft(12 1/2 in), it being same size as the nail, then he be 120 yds(144 paces) away, if he be from the top of nail to the first line then he be 60 yds away: and he if be the size of the thumb you fire:
To calibrate ones nail, you use an 'apeney (halfpenny = 1'') nail (chewed) =1/2 penny (1/2inch) thumb:from nose to cocked thumb be 30"(1 pace) . Of course this was before the days of slide rules etc. May be some one from the Chelsea remembers the correct rule: sumert like that?

Dave  •  Link

I wander if the Morris Dance called 'the 29th of May' from the village of Headington is named after this event?

Glyn  •  Link

What a fascinating idea, that that particular Morris Dance was named after Charles' birthday, and perhaps danced in front of him. I hope it's true.

"For which I did give twenty shillings among them to drink."

So suddenly, Samuel Pepys is giving a lot of money away to drunken strangers who he will never meet again. He'd better not let his wife find out: for comparison, 20 shillings would pay their maid's wages for four whole months.

Nix  •  Link

The 29th of May --

As we learn in the June 1 entry, Parliament made this a holiday, so it seems likely that the dance is named for the King's birthday, or for Restoration Day or whatever it might have been called. Presumably the observance will cease 1688.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: 20 shillings to drink

Glyn, I can't say for sure, but I'd wager that the money Sam gives away is probably not his own. Maybe Montagu is so pleased by the firing of guns by the townspeople that he asked Pepys to "give them a little something for their trouble" out of the money they'd brought ashore (which Sam may have been holding) to cover any expenses while there...?

Naomi  •  Link

The 29th of May is known as Oak Apple Day in honour of the restoration of Charles II. Details are given at http://englishculture.allinfoabout.com/features... , although this page incorrectly refers to the day as being Charles' coronation day rather than the date of his restoration. I knew it as Oak Apple Day when I was growing up in Wiltshire in the 1950s.

Nix  •  Link

Thanks for the link, Naomi:

"The wearing of a sprig of oak on the anniversary of Charles' crowning showed that a person was loyal to the restored king. Those who refused to wear an oak-sprig were often set upon, and children would challenge others to show their sprig or have their bottoms pinched. Consequently, this day became known as Pinch-Bum-Day. In parts of England where oak-apples are known as shick-shacks, the day is also known as Shick-Shack Day."

Pinch-Bum Day. Beautiful.

Pauline  •  Link

The King is 30 years old this day.

vincent  •  Link

re hash "my Lord made a pretty good measure of it with two sticks":
page 156: a method to take the height of any building that is aproachable by two sticks or rulers joined to gether
Seamans Grammar

Stephen Middleton  •  Link

GrahamT At the end of May the sun rises closer to NORTH-east not South-east and sets near NORTH-west not South-west. Around mid-winter day the sun would rise near the South-east and set near the South-west. At all times of year the sun is in the South when it reaches its highest point.

GrahamT  •  Link

As the sun is over the Tropic of Cancer in midsummer (and close to it at the end of May) and the Tropic of Capricorn in midwinter, both of which are considerably far south of the most southern part of Britain, it can never appear in the northern sky, whatever time of day.
Between the Tropics the sun can appear in either the northern or southern skies, but nowhere else. Britain is NOT Tropical!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

House waits on the King at Whitehall. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?co...

The Lords went to wait upon the King, at Whitehall.

And the Earl of Manchester was appointed to speak what his Lordship held fit, to express their Lordships great Joy for His Majesty's safe Return to His Throne.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The King attended [by the Commons] http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?co...
Mr. Speaker's Speech.

The King's Majesty having, by Letter to this House, signified his Pleasure, to be at Whitehall this Day; and the Lord Herbert having communicated his Majesty's Intentions, to give a Meeting to this House there; the House did, after their Adjournment, walk on Foot from Westminster to Whitehall; divers Gentlemen going before Mr. Speaker; and after them, the Clerk, and Clerk Assistant of this House; and next, before Mr. Speaker, the Serjeant at Arms attending this House, bearing his Mace (being all uncovered) the Members of this House following Mr. Speaker Three in a Rank: And, being come to Whitehall, they went up into the Banquetting House, and there attended his Majesty's coming to Whitehall; which being about Seven of the Clock, his Majesty, about half an Hour after, came into the Banquetting House, and there placed himself in his Chair of State: Whereupon Mr. Speaker, being before retired to the lower Part of the Room, and the Way being clear to the Chair of State, did, after his humble Obeisance, walk up towards his Majesty; Two Members of the House going, one on one Hand, and another on the other Hand of him, and divers other Members following him, the Serjeant going immediately before him, with the Mace turned downwards; and, in his Way, made two other Obeisances to his Majesty; and, coming up to his Majesty, he did address himself to his Majesty, in the Name of this House, by an eloquent Oration, to which his Majesty gave a gracious Answer; which being performed, the Members of this House, then attending, kissed his Majesty's Hand: And, after that, his Majesty retired out of the Banquetting House; and Mr. Speaker, and the rest, thereupon departed.

Bill  •  Link

The "two stick" method is not that difficult. You want to form a right (angled) isosceles triangle between a person on the ground (or at least their eye), the base of the cliff and the top of the cliff. Then the height of the cliff will be the same as the distance to the base of the cliff. (Assuming the cliff is perpendicular to the ground)

So the tricky part is to stand where you look up at a 45 degree angle to the top of the cliff. To ensure this you build a small isosceles triangle using two sticks of equal length set at a right angle. (You don't really need a stick for the third side.) Then you use this small triangle, sorta like a sextant, to find a spot where you see the top of the cliff at a 45 degree angle. Then pace off the distance to the base of the cliff. Voila!

It won't be particularly accurate, but close enough for this wager.

Bill  •  Link


│___b_______ eye (45° angle from eye to top of cliff using "2 stick" device.)
of cliff

length a = length b
(Perhaps adding a yard and 3/4 for the height of the eye.)

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Graham T
The Sun can never appear OVERHEAD further north than the tropic of Cancer, But it certainly rises in the North-East in Summer, and sets in the North-West, due to the tilt of the Earth's axis - exactly as Stephen Middleton said. If this were not the case, you wouldn't have the midnight sun inside the Arctic Circle.

Incidentally, the full moon rises/sets in summer, exactly where the sun rises/sets in winter, and vice-versa, 180° from the sunset/rise, and GMT +12 from the time rise/set time in the opposite season.

Dick Wilson  •  Link

Helena Murphy's comment is cogent. I could be mistaken, but: while our boy Sam is very well educated, most men of his social position and education, in that day and age, did not know the multiplication table above, say, five times five.

Al Doman  •  Link

@ Dick Wilson: re: 5x5:

My British parents once told me one strength of the old English currency was the ability to easily divide up a pound (240p) into a number of shares:


I would have thought that would give some incentive for anyone who handled money, to know at least a few multiplication products above 5x5.

MarkS  •  Link

@Dick Wilson
I doubt whether that was true, because routine calculations with currency required a good knowledge of arithmetic. Any tradesman had to be able to do arithmetic, and every gentleman who didn't want to be cheated left, right and centre needed to be able to do arithmetic for everyday expenses.

Some quick examples off the top of my head:

1. You and your 3 friends drink 5 bottles of wine at an inn, 3 bottles at 1s 4d and 2 bottles at 2s 8d. How much do you owe the innkeeper? And how much is that split 3 ways?

2. A carpenter says he will make you a small, plain table for half a crown but he wants a third in advance to buy the wood. How much should you pay him in advance?

3. A new maid is hired at 3s 9d per week, but she is fired after 17 days. How much do you owe her in wages?

4. If you borrowed £20 at 8% interest per year how much interest would you owe after 3 months?

5. If eight farm workers are paid 4d per day for 7 weeks work, how much do you owe each of them, and what's the total?

Not mention ducats, Scotch pounds, and assorted currency conversions for old or unusual coins.

Just about everyone, gentleman or not, needed a good knowledge of arithmetic simply to be able to get by in society.

(I'll post the answers here tomorrow - no calculators allowed!)

MarkS  •  Link

Oops... question 1 should have said "You and your 2 friends" - for simplicity.

MarkS  •  Link

@Al Doman

Very true. And the advantage of a guinea is that it's divisible by 7 (number of days in a week), and also by 14, 21, 28.

7x36, 14x18, 21x12, 28x9

Adam  •  Link

Nothing hard about estimating the height. Walk a N arm's lengths away from the cliff. Turn around and hold two sticks in front at same arms length in fist. Move one stick up and one down in fist so the tips touch the base and top of cliff. Approximate height of cliff is N times the length from tip to tip. Obviously the result is approximate but probably good enough for a bet.

Bill  •  Link

Walk N arm's lengths away from the cliff?

Bill  •  Link

How do you measure the length of the sticks?

Gerald Berg  •  Link

What I have trouble with is someone mistaking something that is just under 3X's the height of the other. 35 yards versus 90 yards. Mass of cliff confuses some but by that much? Excellent bet Sam!

Measuring stick length? Measure length by body (arm length or stride) then half it in the other through breakage.

Lisa  •  Link

See July 1661 entry for information about Pepys' knowledge of multiplication tables (or lack thereof).

Bill  •  Link

How to take the Height of any upright Building that is approachable, by two Sticks or Rulers joined together Square-wise.

Let some Structure be standing upright upon plain Ground whose height you require. Go unto some convenient Court, Yard, Garden, or other piece of level Ground adjoining to the building to be measured, then take your Square in both your hands, holding it perpendicular, which you may do, by having a Thread and Plummet, as hung upon a pin near the top of the Square, then keeping it in this posture, go backwards or forwards (as occasion requires) till your Eye can see the other end of your Square, and the Top of the Building, all in one Right Line, which when you do, make a stand; Then measure the height of your eye from the Ground, with a string, and set that length upon the ground from the place of your standing. Then measure the distance, for that shall be equal to the height of the building.

---Pleasure with profit: consisting of recreations of divers kinds. W. Leybourn, 1694. [edited slightly since I can't reproduce his diagram.] (This is essentially the method I outlined above.)

Bill  •  Link

(Here's another book with the same solution.)

How to measure a height with two strawes or two small stickes. Take two strawes or two stickes which are one as long as another, and place them right Angles one to the other ...
---Mathematicall Recreations. J. Leurechon, 1653.

Lisa  •  Link

@Al Doman. Thank you. I was mislead by the Project Gutenberg eText Editor's Bookmarks in the Second Preface which states at several different places that Pepys first attempted to learn the multiplication table in 1661. Had I searched further I would have found two further references to multiplication tables, one to July 1662 and another to December 1662. Only the July 4 1662 reference is from the text itself. Ebooks are very handy but not the most reliable for research. Next time I think I'll check this site's encyclopedia first!

MarkS  •  Link

Answers to the currency calculation questions - and methods of working them out without a calculator.

1. 3 bottles at 1s 4d is 4 shillings. 2 bottles at 2s 8d is 5s 4d. Total 9s 4d, so just over 3s each. Call it 3s 2d each to make it simple and the innkeeper gets 2d extra.

2. Half a crown is 30 pence, so 10d - easy.

3. Call it 2½ weeks for simplicity. Seven and six for two weeks, plus 1 shilling ten pence ha'penny for half a week. That makes 9 shillings four pence ha'penny. But she actually worked half a day less than that, and she earns a bit more than sixpence a day, so subtract thruppence, and it's just over 9 shillings. Call it 9s 2d.

4. Twenty pounds is 400 shillings. 1% of that is 4 shillings, 8% is 32 shillings. In a quarter of a year the interest is 8 shillings.

5. 4d per day is 28d per week, i.e. 2s 4d. For 7 weeks that's 14s 28d or 16s 4d each. That's 3s 8d less than a pound. So for eight labourers it's 8 pounds less 24s 64d, or £1/9/4. So £7 less 9s 4d, is £6 10s 8d total.

Diana  •  Link

"After dinner got all ready and sent away Mr. Cook to London with a letter and token to my wife."

Do you guys have any idea what with "token" is meant? Was it money?

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