Wednesday 23 January 1660/61

To the office all the morning. My wife and people at home busy to get things ready for tomorrow’s dinner. At noon, without dinner, went into the City, and there meeting with Greatorex, we went and drank a pot of ale. He told me that he was upon a design to go to Teneriffe to try experiments there. With him to Gresham Colledge (where I never was before), and saw the manner of the house, and found great company of persons of honour there.

Thence to my bookseller’s, and for books, and to Stevens, the silversmith, to make clean some plate against to-morrow, and so home, by the way paying many little debts for wine and pictures, &c., which is my great pleasure.

Home and found all things in a hurry of business, Slater, our messenger, being here as my cook till very late.

I in my chamber all the evening looking over my Osborn’s works and new Emanuel Thesaurus Patriarchae.

So late to bed, having ate nothing to-day but a piece of bread and cheese at the ale-house with Greatorex, and some bread and butter at home.

27 Annotations

Emilio   Link to this

Matters scientific

The group whose meeting Sam attends (the L&M Companion calls them the 'society of virtuosi') will be chartered as the Royal Society in less than two years' time. Sam will become a member, and eventually president long after the diary years. "Since November 1660 it had regularly held meetings on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The 'persons of Honour' present on this occasion (listed in Birch, i. 12-13) included Lord Brouncker, William Petty, Sir Kenelm Digby and John Evelyn. Greatorex attended these early meetings, but does not appear to have been a fellow of the Society after its incorporation." (L&M footnote)

Also from L&M: "The peak of Tenerife (in the Canaries: 12,162 ft) was often reckoned the highest in the world. On 2 January the 'Royal Society' had arranged to enquire about air pressure on the mountain. Nothing seems to be known of any visit by Ralph Greatorex."

Jenny Doughty   Link to this

I've just finished reading Neal Stephenson's novel 'Quicksilver', which features Sam as a character, and also features a great deal about the activities of the Royal Society. Highly recommended reading.

Paul Miller   Link to this

"I in my chamber all the evening looking over my Osborn's works”

"Francis Osborne's chief publication was his "Advice to a Son," in two parts, of which the first was published in 1656, "printed for H. Hath, printer to the university for Thomas Robinson," and the second in 1658. See notes “Osborne”

vincent   Link to this

from :[jan 1661 J Evelyn ]23. To Lond, at our Society, where was divers Exp: on the Terrella sent us by his Majestie.

Ruben   Link to this

The "Terrella" is Latin for "little Earth," the name given by William Gilbert to a magnetized sphere with which he demonstrated to Queen Elizabeth I his theory of the Earth's magnetism. By moving a small compass around the terrella and showing that it always pointed north-south, Gilbert argued that the same thing, on a vastly larger scale, was happening on Earth, and was the only reason why a compass pointed north-south.
See:http://www-istp.gsfc.nasa.gov/Education/wterrell.html

Ruben   Link to this

first see:http://physicsweb.org/article/world/16/11/2
then you understand that it is possible that the embrionic Royal Society was discussing the last edition of Gilbert's book, 5 years before or received from the King whatever remained from the "hardware " of Gilbet's experiment decades before.

Mary   Link to this

Slater ... being here as our cook.

One wonders where Slater acquired his skill as a cook before he was appointed as messenger to the Navy Office? Working in a tavern or an ordinary, perhaps? Sam must have quite some confidence in him if her trusts him to make the preparations for what is sounds like an important dinner.

Sam and Elizabeth staged a large dinner-party in the same week last year; do we know why? It is not the occasion upon which he celebrates his successful operation for the stone.

David A. Smith   Link to this

"paying many little debts ... which is my great pleasure"
One can imagine the spring in his step as Sam, with a flourish, discharges these bills, feeling at a stroke both virtuous and wealthy.

language hat   Link to this

"paying many little debts... which is my great pleasure"
And I would urge those who have been hard on Sam's character to reflect on how easy and common it was in earlier times for "gentlemen" to avoid paying their debts. Good for you, Sam.

JWBlackburn   Link to this

"my great pleasure..."
Sam's early education was as a runner for his father, the tailor.
He delivered to and collected from lawyers at the Inns of Court. Imagine he'd heard every excuse. But then, just not cheating hardly measures up to virtue; and commenting on the pleasure it gives one could be considered vice.

vincent   Link to this

Owing someone money means you at their mercy. He was well taughte when he had to read the Syrus Maxims.
Money should be master[ed!], not served[ a lesson for those who worship the creditoris tabulam ceram?{cartem} .]
Pecuniae imperare oportet, non servire.
{thank goodness for the internet.}

Ruben   Link to this

to Vincent:Pecuniae imperare oportet, non servire.

in October you cited this sentence from Publilius Syrus. But the same sentence find its place in Proverbia Seneca. Both writers very old stuff, but still some people (used to the Guiness book) are interested to know: who was first?
Seneca in my opinion has the copyright, but I am not an expert.
Syrus, I think, lived later.
Still, may be, this aphorism had a popular root and both were citing the Roman Forum crowd.

vincent   Link to this

Ruben : Pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt.
St. Jerome, In Ecclestiasten Commentarius, I
"plague take those who said our wise words before we did"
or
Quicquid bene dictum est ab ullo meum est.
Seneca the younger, Epistule Morales, XVI,7
If it's well said , I said it.
To answer your query, We must find a true scholar.

language hat   Link to this

Publilius Syrus:
His floruit is 1st century BC (while Seneca died in AD 65), so I think we can safely assign him the credit. On the other hand, he was an ex-slave and a writer of mimes, so to blazes with him, let him go knock at Seneca's door for credit -- the butler will toss him out on his ear.

"...having ate nothing to-day but a piece of bread and cheese at the ale- house with Greatorex, and some bread and butter at home..."
Tsk, tsk!

Mike Barnas   Link to this

To Ruben: Please clarify, since my Latin dictionary is not as extensive as I might like. Is "quicquid" a typo for "quidquid," or yet another word for "whatever"?

Ruben   Link to this

I pass the language hat to vincent...

vincent   Link to this

Ta ever so Ruben:'Tis the fun of Latin, a good detailed explaination is to be found at the Library or bookstore in "latin teach yourself " book. [see page 74/76 ].
I did only copy {or better said regurgitate]: The language hat belongs to Language Hat. I only regurgitate Knowing all my thoughts have been in the Ether too long,
I dig and rehash of all the past.They are so much better presenting than I could ever could. "Tis why they are still the classics.
Seneca did lace his work with Quicquid not quidquid.
P.S. The only letters after my nom are AOP and waiting for the Ton [centum].

language hat   Link to this

Is "quicquid" a typo for "quidquid":
No, it's the same word, with the first d assimilated to the following q. I believe it's the natural spoken form, with "quidquid" having the d restored by analogy. But I Am Not a Latinist.

Mike Barnas   Link to this

to: language hat
Thanks, and please note the light bulb over my head. It's a process that I've noticed in every language I've learned so far. I find it amusing that I am so concerned with Latin spelling, while I am by now at ease with Sam's orthography even, or rather especially, in the matter of proper names. (Perhaps it's a feeling or greater comfort with the many varieties of English.) Clearly IMOP Dr. Johnson's Dictionary had yet to have its full effects.

Jenny   Link to this

Mary, I think he meant that Slater was there as late as the cook was, not that he was there in the capacity of a cook.

Nigel Pond   Link to this

Language Hat is correct in his analysis of quicquid. There are many more examples of such assimilation and, similarly, elisions/contractions influenced by the spoken word. Cf in English, "don't", "can't" etc.

Pauline   Link to this

"...being here as my cook till very late."
Does Sam have a cook? I thought only for this party, with the "as my cook" meaning Slater. Something about the "my" and that no other detail is given about who is cooking.

Jackie   Link to this

Nowadays, most of the cooking for a dinner party on this scale would be taking place on the day itself. In Sam's time (a time without modern refrigeration, please note), it seemed to take place before the day.

So - were big dinners like this served as a room temperature salmonella party 24 hours later, or was everything served up reheated the following evening?

I'm getting the feeling that the 17th Century required strong stomachs to survive, from the gritty ale for breakfast, the high meat and the liberal doses of your friendly neighbourhood bacteria to wash everything down.

Mary   Link to this

Too many cooks?

We have no evidence that Sam had a regular cook in the house, nor any other indication, apart from this reference, that he had hired one for this occasion (surely he would have said something about it ... he's told us about having the silver cleaned, after all) so I tend to the view, like Pauline, that Slater and the temporary cook are one and the same.

On the night before the dinner party last year, Sam noted that "my wife was making of her tarts and larding of her pullets till 11 o'clock" and the cook must be seeing to at least some of this. As for the refrigeration question, the 'danger' of non-refrigerated food tends to get exaggerated today. Few 'middling-sort' of households in the UK had a fridge in the kitchen before the mid-fifties, but we weren't constantly laid low by stomach bugs. Throughout my childhood the Christmas turkey was stuffed and dressed on Christmas Eve and then set in a cool pantry overnight to await cooking the following day with never a hint of food-poisoning to either young or old.

vincent   Link to this

SP appears to be very modern. He does not suffer his wifes cooking too often, as it it appears that it is pub in the morning, a nice wet lunch and many times at the big house or bar on the way home[ if all else fails a piece and butter]. If one tabulates the meals mentioned, perception against known facts even with all the gear he has obtained would clear up the issue. The Inns and the pre- cookers still get his patronage.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

Good point, vincent, and one that relates to your annotation for January 26th about the value of money. As I've read the diary, I've noted how often he eats and drinks out, and have been surprised at how casually he mentions it, knowing how conscious he is of money. So, either it was simply an accepted cost of living, or eating and drinking in pubs/taverns/restaurants back then was a helluva lot less expensive than it is today. (And, given the freshness of the cooking and possibly food, maybe safer than eating at home!) Thoughts?

Tonyel   Link to this

Or maybe he had an expense account.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.