Monday 25 February 1660/61

Sir Wm. Pen and I to my Lord Sandwich’s by coach in the morning to see him, but he takes physic to-day and so we could not see him. So he went away, and I with Luellin to Mr. Mount’s chamber at the Cockpit, where he did lie of old, and there we drank, and from thence to W. Symons where we found him abroad, but she, like a good lady, within, and there we did eat some nettle porrige, which was made on purpose to-day for some of their coming, and was very good. With her we sat a good while, merry in discourse, and so away, Luellin and I to my Lord’s, and there dined. He told me one of the prettiest stories, how Mr. Blurton, his friend that was with him at my house three or four days ago, did go with him the same day from my house to the Fleet tavern by Guildhall, and there (by some pretence) got the mistress of the house into their company, and by and by Luellin calling him Doctor she thought that he really was so, and did privately discover her disease to him, which was only some ordinary infirmity belonging to women, and he proffering her physic, she desired him to come some day and bring it, which he did.

After dinner by water to the office, and there Sir W. Pen and I met and did business all the afternoon, and then I got him to my house and eat a lobster together, and so to bed.

28 Annotations

Eeyore   Link to this

Nettle porridge!

StewartMcI   Link to this

Tender young nettles have long been an appreciated green vegetable in the Winter when there was less variety available. Probably boiled and then thickened with oats or some other grain to make a gruel or thin porri(d)ge.

A bit like young kale (or kail) which contra Dr. Johnson is mainly fed to cattle in Scotland, but in England is sold by Saintsbury's to the chattering classes.

Emilio   Link to this

"some of their [friends] coming"

L&M fill in what was probably the missing word.

daniel   Link to this

My goodness!

does sam's "prettiest story" really recount what i think it does? ribald maybe but "pretty"?

Emilio   Link to this

"got the mistress of the house . . ."

But wait, there's more. Wheatley cut out a fairly long passage here without marking it--here's the L&M version in full:

". . . and there (by some pretence) got the mistress of the house[, a very pretty woman,] into their company. And by and by, Luellin calling him Doctor, she thought that he really was so, and did privately discover her disease to him--which was only some ordinary infirmity belonging to women. And he proffering her physic--she desired him to come some day and bring it, which he did[; and withal hath the sight of her thing below, and did handle it--and he swears the next time that he will do more.]"

It's thus a bit more innocent than you might have thought; Sam and co. really are like a group of overgrown schoolboys sometimes. It's nice to have the confirmation, though, that that really was Luellin visiting a few days ago.

Don   Link to this

Thanks for adding the text. I read the diary several years ago and distinctly remember there was more to that entry than was given here.

ray   Link to this

What was the condition of gynecological medicine at this time?

vincent   Link to this

the 5th ' boozer' the connection "...Mr. Blurton, his friend that was with him at my house three or four days ago,..."
"...By and by comes little Luellin and friend to see me, and then my coz Stradwick..."
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1661/02/20/

dirk   Link to this

"nettle porridge"

According to
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/n/nettl...
what Sam ate was...

(quote)
Nettle Pudding
To 1 gallon of young Nettle tops, thoroughly washed, add 2 good-sized leeks or onions, 2 heads of broccoli or small cabbage, or Brussels sprouts, and 1/4 lb. of rice. Clean the vegetables well; chop the broccoli and leeks and mix with the Nettles. Place all together in a muslin bag, alternately with the rice, and tie tightly. Boil in salted water, long enough to cook the vegetables, the time varying according to the tenderness or other vise of the greens. Serve with gravy or melted butter. These quantities are sufficient for six persons.

Pepys refers to Nettle pudding in his Diary, February, 1661: 'We did eat some Nettle porridge, which was very good.'
(unquote)

See also Culpeper's herbal for 17th c. discussion of medicinal properties of nettles:
http://www.med.yale.edu/library/historical/culp...

dirk   Link to this

Physic-o-mania

February seems to be physic month. Taken yours lately? (Apparently you can take a day off from work for this elementary self torture!)

Susan   Link to this

A literary reference to nettle porridge
http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/edgewort...

Rich Merne   Link to this

Emilio, Thanks for the infill information, (bothersome that it wasn't shown in the entry). Disgusting and low trick in any case. Heaven knows what the poor woman had but amazingly the guy was prepared to risk full sex(sic). Did they have no appreciation of contagion?? Rich Merne

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"Physics" Winter time, not many fruits and vegetables,that leads to constipation thence desperate measures like nettle porridge and physics!...

Rich Merne   Link to this

Anybody know of any Pepysian reference to the historical character, Moll Cutpurse (Mary Frith) who died about a year prior o the restoration. She lived in Fleet Street.

Judy   Link to this

A gallon of young nettle tops... in February? They must be just breaking the surface - with luck. Is there a botanist/horticulualist who can explain this very early cropping?

Glyn   Link to this

No references in the Pepys diaries.

Although I know that Luellin would, today, be charged with sexual assault and be facing either prison or community service, I reluctantly admire him having the effrontery to get away with this. The woman wasn't a naive young newcomer to the town, but a streetwise landlady of a tough, waterside (or nearly so) tavern: she must have had lots of experience of sailors trying to cheat her. Yet she falls for a stranger with a confident and well-spoken attitude. I imagine she partly conned herself, by thinking that she was getting something for nothing (i.e. medical advice for free). Notice how, he didn't come to her but made her open the conversation, so that she thought it was all her idea.

Nettle porridge - I'm surprised the green shoots are growing already. Normally it would take another month for that to happen - has it been a warm winter?

vincent   Link to this

Remember, early in January the weather was spring like, giving false data to the early spring plants. happens many times.

Susan   Link to this

It was Blurton, not Luellin who was the pretend Dr. Luellin just went along with it, by calling his friend "Doctor" and then told Pepys all about it. Although Blurton boasts of what he has done and states he is going to do more than fondle the poor woman next time - maybe it was just talk.
Might the nettles be dried ones? It does seem very early for fresh nettle tops.

Don   Link to this

"Nettle porridge - I'm surprised the green shoots are growing already.” They are still using the old calendar. Their dates lag about 3 weeks behind our modern calendar, so it was about the beginning of spring back in Pepys time.

mary   Link to this

Reinforcing Vincent and Don's comments.

Although Pepys has referred to wet and cold weather, he has made no mention or any great frost or significant snowfall, so it looks as if the mild winter is continuing through January and February (March for us). Nettle-tops are not out of the question, just very unusual at this time of year. Perhaps it was the timing as much as the recipe that excited Sam's comments on the nettle porridge.

J A Gioia   Link to this

a simple enough mistake

my mother had two uncles, one a surgeon the other a lawyer. story goes, a society lady at a dinner party mistook the attorney for the doctor, was having this pain could he have a look? the lawyer obliged with a few deft and fairly intimate touches said it seemed serious and when he next saw his brother, the surgeon, he would mention it.

through the ages, the lure of free medical advice is irresistable.

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

Sam's comments about the nettle porridge:

As a sufferer from the Stone, Pepys very likely welcomed the chance to consume some nettle porridge for its supposed medicinal value. Culpeper, the 17th century guide to herbs cited above, says the extract of nettle juice or seed, "provoketh Urine, and expelleth the Gravel and Stone in the Reins or Bladder often proved to be effectual in many that have taken it. "

mary   Link to this

Pepys and nettel porridge.

Assuming that Culpepper's advice was generally known, Sam may have become quite a connoisseur of nettle porridge over the years.

Glyn   Link to this

Oh Susannah

Would people please check if this name is really called the Fleet or if this is a spelling error? It may instead be the FLEECE Tavern, which was near the Exchange. See entry under "Places/Taverns/Fleece (Cornhill).

If so, then the Landlady's name is Susannah Hinton, and she has (or will soon have) several children.

mary   Link to this

Fleet/Fleece.

Well spotted. L&M give the name of the tavern as the Fleece, so the landlady is, presumably, Glyn's pretty Susannah Hinton.

Stephenie Crowley   Link to this

Hanky-panky dressed as medical advice continues well into the 20th Century -- see Robert Service poem, "Bessie's Boil" -- she goes to hospital and, sequentially, shows several men dressed in white her embarrassing boil. They send her from one to another; the last man explains he can't give a medical opinion, as they are "only the painters, a-paintin' the walls..."!!

Phil   Link to this

Good call on the Fleet/Fleece error, Glyn and Mary - I've changed the link to link to the Fleece tavern now.

Nate Lockwood   Link to this

I suspect that it lagged far behind other areas and, remember, no germ theory; bleeding was popular as was expertise in the four humors.

IIRC in the mid 19th century Physicians were arguing strongly that bloomers would be very injurious to women's health.

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