Thursday 1 November 1660

This morning Sir W. Pen and I were mounted early, and had very merry discourse all the way, he being very good company.

We came to Sir W. Batten’s, where he lives like a prince, and we were made very welcome. Among other things he showed us my Lady’s closet, where was great store of rarities; as also a chair, which he calls King Harry’s chair, where he that sits down is catched with two irons, that come round about him, which makes good sport. Here dined with us two or three more country gentle men; among the rest Mr. Christmas, my old school-fellow, with whom I had much talk. He did remember that I was a great Roundhead when I was a boy, and I was much afraid that he would have remembered the words that I said the day the King was beheaded (that, were I to preach upon him, my text should be “The memory of the wicked shall rot”); but I found afterwards that he did go away from school before that time.1

He did make us good sport in imitating Mr. Case, Ash, and Nye, the ministers, which he did very well, but a deadly drinker he is, and grown exceeding fat. From his house to an ale-house near the church, where we sat and drank and were merry, and so we mounted for London again, Sir W. Batten with us. We called at Bow and drank there, and took leave of Mr. Johnson of Blackwall, who dined with us and rode with us thus far.

So home by moonlight, it being about 9 o’clock before we got home.

  1. Pepys might well be anxious on this point, for in October of this year Phineas Pett, assistant master shipwright at Chatham, was dismissed from his post for having when a Child spoken disrespectfully of the King. See ante, August 23rd.

21 Annotations

Paul Miller   Link to this

"I was much afraid that he would have remembered the words that I said the day the King was beheaded (that, were I to preach upon him, my text should be 'The memory of the wicked shall rot');”

In this we see just how secure Pepys felt in putting anything and everything in his diary. With this in view we can expect reading his diary to be a peering into the mind of a seventeenth century man.

vincent   Link to this

"...Sir W. Pen and I were mounted early, and had very merry discourse all the way, he being very good company..." remember Pen is only 39 YoA.

"...but a deadly drinker he[Mr Christmas] is, and grown exceeding fat...." Warning Sam!!!{ a nice pun in the making !!!}
"...where we sat and drank and were merry..."

Jenny Doughty   Link to this

Does anybody know where Sir William Batten lived? I can't seem to turn it up on Google. I know he became MP for Rochester in 1661, but it seems a long ride all the way to Rochester and back in one day if Batten's house was there, and there are other references in the diary which seem to indicate that Batten's house was closer by Pepys' than that.

vincent   Link to this

parish of walthalstow see
http://www.pro.gov.uk/pathways/blackhistory/wor...

J A Gioia   Link to this

to an ale-house near the church, where we sat and drank and were merry

to rochester or not, this liquid 'business trip' on horseback has aspects of the merrier parts of the canturbury tales.

and agreed, here 'my lady's' seems to be sam's way of saying 'his wife's'.

George   Link to this

We came to Sir W. Batten's, where he lives like a prince, and we were made very welcome. Among other things he showed us my Lady's closet.
Sir William’s wife would have been “Lady Batten” and Walthamstow is North East London on the North Circular. Out in the country in Sam’s day but now part of the urban scrawl.

Mary   Link to this

and here's another closet

See annotations for 28th October.

vincent   Link to this

"...We called at Bow and drank there, and took leave ..." 'ear ye 'ear yeh 'ho were borne in the sound of Bow Bells.

Jenny Doughty   Link to this

Thanks Vincent - Walthamstow makes sense in terms of the length of the journey in Pepys' day.

Pauline   Link to this

"...a chair, which he calls King Harry's chair, where he that sits down is catched with two irons, that come round about him, which makes good sport.”

How fascinating this it! But what is it? Would King Harry at this time mean Henry VIII? Or which Henry? And the two irons come round him? What is the joke/yoke in this? And try to imagine the mechanics of this chair!

Dear fellow Pepysters, what are we to make of this?

dirk   Link to this

the infamous chair

Amazing as it may sound, chairs like that existed - I don't know who made them though, or were you could get them.

In the late 1500's such a chair was used in Antwerp (Low Countries, now Belgium) to commit an atrocious murder: the unsuspecting victim was invited for dinner, caught in just such a chair, and subsequently cruelly tortured to death by his host, who afterwards buried the corpse in the cellar!

The murderer was found out though and put to death by roasting him on a low fire while locked in that very same chair. Those were cruel times...

dirk   Link to this

the infamous chair - continued

There are some indications that the chair I mentioned may have come from somewhere in northern Italy. But I'm not sure of this.

Mary   Link to this

Similar chairs still exist.

In the 1970s in a local medical practice in West Africa, our family doctor had a 'modern' version of the same; he used it when he was obliged to give emergency dental treatment (there were no dentists closer than 300 miles away) and didn't want the patient's arms flailing about whilst he tried to deal with the offending tooth. A happy prospect.

dirk   Link to this

the chair thing again

I looked into the chair thing some more, and found the following additional bits of info on the Antwerp chair:

1. What actually happened was that out of each armrest came an iron clamp. The two clamps locked around the waist of the unfortunate victim, rendering him helpless. (If he had been holding his arms at the level of the armrest or higher, he would have his arms free from the clamps, but it appears that the mechanical system actually blocked the clamps in position, so that even with his arms free the victim could not release himself.)

2. Under torture the murderer confessed to having constructed the chair himself (?) - but he was from northern Italy and had only a short time before returned from there - and had been preparing for this murder for some time (there was a long standing fued between him and his victim).

3. The whole affair took place in 1551 (new style, i.e. 1550 in contemporary reckoning) "7 days before tuesday of Easter week". The execution was on that tuesday of Easter week - so justice was not only cruel, but also quick!

Emilio   Link to this

At Charles's execution

Here's a link to an account of that day, from the tone certainly written by a royalist.

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/charlesI.htm

The words attributed to Charles -- "I tell you (and I pray God it be not laid to your charge) that I am the martyr of the people . . ." -- make a sharp contrast to Pepys's response at the time. After a decade of drama and chaos, thank heavens that politics have become less divided once again.

Bill   Link to this

"He did make us good sport in imitating Mr. Case, Ash, and Nye, the ministers"

Thomas Case, one of the Assembly of Divines, and some time rector of St Giles's-in-the-Fields. Ob. 1682, aged 84. Simeon Ash, one of the leading Presbyterian ministers. Philip Nye, who had been minister of Kimbolton, and rector of Acton, Middlesex, retired after his nonconformity, and died in 1672.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill   Link to this

"He did make us good sport in imitating Mr. Case, Ash, and Nye, the ministers"

There is an encyclopedia entry for Thomas Case:
http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/786/

Dick Wilson   Link to this

I'm missing something here. What was the purpose of this visit? Did Pepys & Pen have business with Batten, or he with them, that could not wait until all met at the office? Or did Batten just invite the two to come have drinks with some of his country buddies?

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Dick Wilson, yesterday Pepys had noted "Home, and there I had news that Sir W. Pen[n] is resolved to ride to Sir W. Batten’s country house to-morrow, and would have me go with him," http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/10/31/

Dick Wilson   Link to this

Yes Terry, and he cut up an old pair of boots to reinforce his riding boots (or pants; the entry is ambiguous) . Yet it still appears that this was purely a social call. Our boy Sam is a social animal, but it is one thing to nip round to the local for a pint or two (or six or eight) and it is something else to get on a horse and ride out, drink, and ride home at nine o'clock at night. I am glad they made a convivial stop on the way home. The trip might have made somebody thirsty. Sounds like a fun day.

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