Wednesday 10 April 1661

In the morning to see the Dockhouses. First, Mr. Pett’s, the builder, and there was very kindly received, and among other things he did offer my Lady Batten a parrot, the best I ever saw, that knew Mingo so soon as it saw him, having been bred formerly in the house with them; but for talking and singing I never heard the like. My Lady did accept of it.

Then to see Commissioner Pett’s house, he and his family being absent, and here I wondered how my Lady Batten walked up and down with envious looks to see how neat and rich everything is (and indeed both the house and garden is most handsome), saying that she would get it, for it belonged formerly to the Surveyor of the Navy.

Then on board the Prince, now in the dock, and indeed it has one and no more rich cabins for carved work, but no gold in her.

After that back home, and there eat a little dinner. Then to Rochester, and there saw the Cathedrall, which is now fitting for use, and the organ then a-tuning. Then away thence, observing the great doors of the church, which, they say, was covered with the skins of the Danes,1 and also had much mirth at a tomb, on which was “Come sweet Jesu,” and I read “Come sweet Mall,” &c., at which Captain Pett and I had good laughter.

So to the Salutacion tavern, where Mr. Alcock and many of the town came and entertained us with wine and oysters and other things, and hither come Sir John Minnes to us, who is come to-day to see “the Henery,” in which he intends to ride as Vice-Admiral in the narrow seas all this summer. Here much mirth, but I was a little troubled to stay too long, because of going to Hempson’s, which afterwards we did, and found it in all things a most pretty house, and rarely furnished, only it had a most ill access on all sides to it, which is a greatest fault that I think can be in a house.

Here we had, for my sake, two fiddles, the one a base viall, on which he that played, played well some lyra lessons, but both together made the worst musique that ever I heard.

We had a fine collacion, but I took little pleasure in that, for the illness of the musique and for the intentness of my mind upon Mrs. Rebecca Allen.

After we had done eating, the ladies went to dance, and among the men we had, I was forced to dance too; and did make an ugly shift. Mrs. R. Allen danced very well, and seems the best humoured woman that ever I saw. About 9 o’clock Sir William and my Lady went home, and we continued dancing an hour or two, and so broke up very pleasant and merry, and so walked home, I leading Mrs. Rebecca, who seemed, I know not why, in that and other things, to be desirous of my favours and would in all things show me respects.

Going home, she would needs have me sing, and I did pretty well and was highly esteemed by them.

So to Captain Allen’s (where we were last night, and heard him play on the harpsicon, and I find him to be a perfect good musician), and there, having no mind to leave Mrs. Rebecca, what with talk and singing (her father and I), Mrs. Turner and I staid there till 2 o’clock in the morning and was most exceeding merry, and I had the opportunity of kissing Mrs. Rebecca very often.

Among other things Captain Pett was saying that he thought that he had got his wife with child since I came thither. Which I took hold of and was merrily asking him what he would take to have it said for my honour that it was of my getting? He merrily answered that he would if I would promise to be godfather to it if it did come within the time just, and I said that I would. So that I must remember to compute it when the time comes.

  1. Traditions similar to that at Rochester, here alluded to, are to be found in other places in England. Sir Harry Englefield, in a communication made to the Society of Antiquaries, July 2nd, 1789, called attention to the curious popular tale preserved in the village of Hadstock, Essex, that the door of the church had been covered with the skin of a Danish pirate, who had plundered the church. At Worcester, likewise, it was asserted that the north doors of the cathedral had been covered with the skin of a person who had sacrilegiously robbed the high altar. The date of these doors appears to be the latter part of the fourteenth century, the north porch having been built about 1385. Dart, in his “History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter’s, Westminster,” 1723 (vol. i., book ii., p. 64), relates a like tradition then preserved in reference to a door, one of three which closed off a chamber from the south transept — namely, a certain building once known as the Chapel of Henry VIII., and used as a “Revestry.” This chamber, he states, “is inclosed with three doors, the inner cancellated, the middle, which is very thick, lined with skins like parchment, and driven full of nails. These skins, they by tradition tell us, were some skins of the Danes, tann’d and given here as a memorial of our delivery from them.” Portions of this supposed human skin were examined under the microscope by the late Mr. John Quekett of the Hunterian Museum, who ascertained, beyond question, that in each of the cases the skin was human. From a communication by the late Mr. Albert Way, F.S.A., to the late Lord Braybrooke.

22 Annotations

daniel   Link to this

what a delight to read!

this is obviously classic Pepys: good company, fine surroundings of interest, good music(or sometimes less good), good drink, all in Sam's inimitable way of expressing what he sees.

dirk   Link to this

mirth...pleasant and merry...kissing Mrs. Rebecca very often...Captain Pett's wife with child "of Sam's getting"

It looks as if Sam is really letting go today. Sumptuous reading at its best.

vincent   Link to this

"Still no lingua latina"

Mary   Link to this

... since I came thither...

L&M point out that this refers to Sam's earlier visit to Chatham, on 16th January 1661.

J A Gioia   Link to this

and I read "Come sweet Mall," &c., at which Captain Pett and I had good laughter

oed: ‘Moll, also 6-7 Mall… 2) A prostitute…”

one gathers sam read ‘mall’ for ‘jesu’ since the stone was effaced over time; ‘u’ probably rendered to ‘ll’.

Judy   Link to this

If I were not enjoying Sam Pepys Diary, it would sound very much like something from Henry Fielding. It was a very good read just the same.

Sjoerd Spoelstra   Link to this

The nailing of a foreigners' skin to Church doors seems to be a practice that was more widely practiced... or maybe just fantasized about, see this url http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings/di...

And of course one could only approve of such a scheme as an early crime prevention measure.

Pauline   Link to this

John Thomas Quekett of the entry's footnote:
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/quekett/JTQ.html

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

great doors of the church, which, they say, was covered with the skins of the Danes

Gives a whole new meaning to Danskin. Caveat raptor.

Emilio   Link to this

"the Cathedrall, which is now fitting for use"

'Fitting' here is a progressive rather than an adjective, as the cathedral is obviously still being made fit, probably for Easter celebrations? Sam tends to use 'fitting' in this way, as he said the same of the new Lord Mayor's house a few months ago.

Here's an L&M footnote on the state of Rochester Cathedral after the Commonwealth:

"Cathedrals suffered serious spoliation in the revolutin, if not used for worship. At Rochester the altar-rails had been removed, and parts of the buildings and precincts used as an inn and a saw-pit. . . . [T]he organ had been preserved during the Interregnum in a Greenwich tavern. It appears that this was one of the first organs to be made playable after the Restoration."

As with the equestrian statue of Charles I a smith buried in his back garden, people had to do so many creative things to preserve the glorious symbols of the past.

Rich Merne   Link to this

"time just",
Appears to occur in contemporary expressions in relation to the proper term of pregnancy. Connotations of, sic. 'unjust time', at a time when "bastardy" was a serious matter.

Cf. Ben Jonson, "On my first son",
"Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day."

ie. The fate (or what the fates decreed) for the child on the day of his birth. This is from memory, hope my quote's correct....Help! Hic Retearius.

Rich Merne   Link to this

'time just; just time';
Ben Jonson's first son died on his seventh birthday, lending poignancy to Ben Senior's verse;....double entendre.

Sjoerd Spoelstra   Link to this

Lady Batten, the parrot & the Moor

After reading about the parrot and Mingo (who is going to be Lighthouse-keeper in Harwich harbour... would you believe it ?) I came across this picture by contemporary Dutch painter Berchem:

http://cgfa.sunsite.dk/b/p-berchem1.htm

Glyn   Link to this

Thanks for this. What a superb picture! Is that Pepys on the right making music to a woman? But how on earth did you find this? Maybe we should ask Phil for an art gallery of related paintings and drawings.

2Grumpy   Link to this

"a parrot, the best I ever saw, that knew Mingo so soon as it saw him, having been bred formerly in the house with them; but for talking and singing I never heard the like."

Sam, here is one that eat a few pages of the OED!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3430481.stm

Terry Foreman   Link to this

A Moor Presenting a Parrot to a Lady by Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/...

Terry Foreman   Link to this

The Danes' Skin, An unusual Ornament for Essex Church doors

The legend of the Danes skin is an old one, and applies to several churches and cathedrals in the South East. The first time we see it is in Pepys Diary

"Then to Rochester, and there saw the Cathedrall, which is now fitting for use, and the organ then a-tuning. Then away thence, observing the great doors of the church, which, they say, was covered with the skins of the Danes. 1 and also had much mirth at a tomb, on which was “Come sweet Jesu,” and I read “Come sweet Mall,” &c., at which Captain Pett and I had good laughter. "

Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 10 April 1661 http://www.foxearth.org.uk/DanesSkin.html

Bill   Link to this

"1. Traditions similar to that at Rochester, here alluded to,"

This footnote, reprinted in many editions of Pepys' diary, first appeared in an 1848 edition of the diary with "notes by Richard Lord Braybrooke."

Nate Lockwood   Link to this

"in which he intends to ride as Vice-Admiral in the narrow seas all this summer."

What are the narrow seas, the English Channel?

Gillian Bagwell   Link to this

Admiral of the narrow seas - don't know about the official definition, but the term was used jocularly to refer to "one who vomits into lap of person next to him from drunkenness" (a sea term). Another couple of my favorite slang terms from the period: Shooting the cat or catting: vomiting from drunkenness. Surveyor of the highways: one who is reeling drunk.

Bill   Link to this

I really, really wish that Pepys had Gillian's meaning in mind but Shakespeare would disagree:

WARWICK
What counsel, lords? Edward from Belgia,
With hasty Germans and blunt Hollanders,
Hath pass'd in safety through the narrow seas,
And with his troops doth march amain to London;
And many giddy people flock to him.
---Henry VI, part 3

Chris Squire UK   Link to this

OED has:

‘narrow seas, n. 1. Chiefly with the (also in sing.). The seas separating Great Britain from Ireland and from continental Europe. Esp. in early use (in sing.) applied to the English Channel; subsequently spec. (until the introduction of the legal concept of international waters) both the English Channel and the southern North Sea, over which the English monarch claimed sovereignty . .
a1450–1500 (▸1436) Libel Eng. Policy (1926) 7 (MED), No man may denye..That we bee maysteres of the narowe see.
. . 1595 Shakespeare Henry VI, Pt. 3 i. i. 240 Sterne Fawconbridge Commands the narrow seas.
. . 1807 Edinb. Rev. Oct. 17 Great Britain has the sovereignty of what are called the narrow seas.
. . 1995 Jrnl. Mil. Hist. 59 620 Submarines would prevent hostile navies from undertaking any serious operations in the narrow seas around Britain.’

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