Saturday 18 May 1661

Towards Westminster, from the Towre, by water, and was fain to stand upon one of the piers about the bridge,1 before the men could drag their boat through the lock, and which they could not do till another was called to help them. Being through bridge I found the Thames full of boats and gallys, and upon inquiry found that there was a wager to be run this morning. So spying of Payne in a gully, I went into him, and there staid, thinking to have gone to Chelsy with them. But upon, the start, the wager boats fell foul one of another, till at last one of them gives over, pretending foul play, and so the other row away alone, and all our sport lost. So, I went ashore, at Westminster; and to the Hall I went, where it was very pleasant to see the Hall in the condition it is now with the judges on the benches at the further end of it, which I had not seen all this term till now. Thence with Mr. Spicer, Creed and some others to drink. And so away homewards by water with Mr. Creed, whom I left in London going about business and I home, where I staid all the afternoon in the garden reading “Faber Fortunae” with great pleasure. So home to bed.

  1. The dangers of shooting the bridge were so great that a popular proverb has it—London Bridge was made for wise men to go over and fools to go under.

32 Annotations

Australian Susan   Link to this

"Faber fortunae"
Was this the book by Francis Bacon?

Paul Miller   Link to this

"Faber fortunae"
This is Bacon that Pepys is reading and he seems to still be reading it in 1666. I only know of an essay of Bacon’s that would fit this title, doesn’t make sense unless he is reading it over and over.

dirk   Link to this

"doesn't make sense unless he is reading it over and over”

He is!
**Slight spoiler**, but on 10 August 1666 Sam’s diary will read:

“with more and more pleasure, I every time reading over my Lord Bacon’s “Faber Fortunae”

vicente   Link to this

Bacon is well worthy of reading time & time again. One reading our Sam should take to heart." wives are young men's mistresses , companions for middle age , and old men's nurses." another, S/B " money is like muck not good unless it be spread. ....." but one from this essay should hit his fancy "chiefly the mould of man's fortune is in his own hands."

vicente   Link to this

P.S a link of bacon here http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/mike_d...

Mary   Link to this

The Faber Fortunae

is quite distinct from the essay 'Of Fortune.' The collection of the more general essays has numerous nuggets of advice for the rising or ambitious man. 'All rising to great place is by a winding stair' is one that still holds good in many cases.

Pedro.   Link to this

London Bridge was made for wise men to go over and fools to go under.

We have mentioned London Bridge on other occasions, but for the proverb by John Ray, and a brief history see;

http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/1859map/london_...

Mary   Link to this

Racing on the Thames.

L&M note that boat races on the Thames were rare occurrences, in part, at least, because of the amount of general traffic on the river.

Wim van der Meij   Link to this

Boats and gallys.
The difference between a boat and a gally might be that the latter was the boat that was used by the captains of ships to be rowed ashore etc.
They both were open boats propelled by oars and with perhaps a small sail.
Does anybody know more about this?

Xjy   Link to this

Watermen and races on the Thames
This is in the family :-) In our garage we had the backboard of a skiff that had won the Doggett's Coat and Badge race. My great-grandfather was in the crew. My mother grew up in Bermondsey, a cough and a spit from the river. Obviously such races were popular but still improvised and chaotic affairs in Pepys's day.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has this to say about the race:
"Doggett's Coat and Badge -- one of the world's oldest continuing rowing races, held annually in England along the River Thames from London Bridge to Chelsea, a distance of 4 miles 5 furlongs (7.4 km). The race is a sculling contest between skiffs originally used to ferry passengers across the river. The boats are manned by watermen who have recently completed their apprenticeship. The contest was instituted in 1715 by Thomas Doggett, an English comic actor, to commemorate the accession of George I in 1714. Doggett provided for a cash prize and "an Orange coloured Livery with a Badge representing Liberty" to be awarded to the winner. Although the colour of the uniform has changed from orange to red and the cash prize is no longer awarded, Doggett’s decree continues to be fulfilled.”

Australian Susan   Link to this

Re Francis Bacon.
I had thought that there was a book, rather than an essay, with this title - but this comes from my memory and I cannot check it out anywhere online despite using all my librarian's tricks of the trade! All I can get are references to the essays (and a letter to the Earl of Essex with a Latin quotation in it)So Mary, please enlighten us with provenance of the book rather than the essay!

Xjy   Link to this

Watermen and races on the Thames
Hm. I just noticed I'm not too well up in family lore :-) I'm not sure if the race was between individual boatsmen, one per skiff, or crews. The Enc Brit makes it sound like single combat, my impression has always been that it was a crew thing. Anyone know for sure?

J A Gioia   Link to this

But upon, the start, the wager boats fell foul one of another... and all our sport lost.

small wonder the sporting crowd would soon turn to thoroughbred racing.

question: does 'punter' come from the era when wagering was mostly on boat races?

Mary   Link to this

Faber Fortunae: book or essay?

(per L&M footnote)
Faber Fortunae sive Doctrina de ambitu vitae: one of the pieces collected in Bacon's Sermones Fideles, published in Leyden in 1641,1644 and 1649.

It seems that the Faber Fortunae was one essay/sermon published with a collection of others.

According to L&M Pepys often slipped the volume into his pocket to read in the open air and when he did so, it was always the Faber Fortunae that he read.

JWB   Link to this

"Of Fortune"
An essay (De Fortuna) in Bacon's "Sermones Fideles" in which the first paragraph contains Appius Claudius Caecus quote:"Faber est suae quisque fortunae" - Every man is the maker of his own fortune. It's a short piece, not enough in length or content to spend whole afternoon on. Perhaps pleasant May day distracting, or he's losing his Latin, or he's referring, not to the work cited, but to some obscure work on Alchemy, who knows.

dirk   Link to this

"Boats and galleys"

Galley: (Naut.) A vessel propelled by oars, whether having masts and sails or not; as:
(a) A large vessel for war and national purposes; -- common in the Middle Ages, and down to the 17th century.
(b) A name given by analogy to the Greek, Roman, and other ancient vessels propelled by oars.
(c) A light, open boat used on the Thames by customhouse officers, press gangs, and also for pleasure.
(d) One of the small boats carried by a man-of-war.

(Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary)

The main difference between a "galley" (larger) and a "rowing boat" (smaller) seems to be a matter of size - and of personal appreciation.

dirk   Link to this

"Faber fortunae"

Maybe Sam's interest in this essay is due also partly to Bacon's Latin. Sam enjoys Cicero's language, as we know!

Glyn   Link to this

"I Don't Want To Go To Chelsy"

"And Watching The River Flow"

So Sam went by boat to the bridge; got off but didn't go up onto the top of the bridge but instead stayed at water-level and climbed onto the protective base of one of the bridge's columns, and squeezed his way through to the other side. Meanwhile it took at least three men to drag the boat through the archway - was it because it was against the flow of water?.

If so, the tide was against them - it was going downriver while they were going upriver which would have made the race much harder for them and for the spectators on their own boats. I find this a little hard to believe because it was quite a long route. Every September nowadays we have The Great River Race on the Thames which involves every imaginable of sail-powered or oar-powered craft over a course of 25 miles (40 km), and the organisers always make sure they competitors are going with the tide, not against it.

dirk   Link to this

the tide

Re - Glyn: Maybe going against the tide was part of the wager - just guessing. I think your first suggestion that the tide was against them is supported by the fact that the men need extra help to get the boat through.

Australian Susan   Link to this

"fell foul of one another"
Perhaps they crashed into each other because they were combatting the tide - after all, these were experienced boatmen, not likely to come to grief unless either the circumstances were exceptional (against the tide) or they were *trying* to foul each other???!

Mary   Link to this

Ebb or flow tide.

You could, of course, argue that the tide was flowing in the opposite direction. Then the extra man might have been needed to control, rather than assist, the passage of the boat through the narrow waterway beneath the bridge. Similarly the oarsmen taking part in the wager-race could have had more difficulty controlling their own boats if the tide were flowing very strongly upriver. If the boats were steered purely by the efforts of the oarsmen rather than by a rudder, then they would have needed to row very hard to impose their own course on the natural flow of the water. Does anyone know of a site that might tell whether mid-May 1661 was a time of spring tides?

Jackie   Link to this

If two boats were trying to race each other through a narrowish passage (i.e. under the bridge) in a fast-flowing stream, the Bernoulli Effect would have made a collision highly likely. Ships mmoving past each other in a narrow channel often have to allow for ths.

Pedro.   Link to this

Boat Race 2004, Controversy!

In 2004, the outstanding individual, in the worst sense of the term, was Oxford's Chris Kennelly, who fell off his seat following a controversial clash between the crews. Kennelly got back on his seat and tried to carry on but found that it still would not move and he had to get off again to fix the problem.... "But to have it decided on a foul when we were clearly moving leaves you with so many questions."

One commentator described the crews has having fell foul of each other!

Nigel Pond   Link to this

Watermen and races on the Thames

Doggett's Coat and Badge is a race between professional Thames Watermen. It is a sculling race -- one man with two oars as opposed to a "crew" race.

dirk   Link to this

Spring tide?

On the morning of 14 May it had been full moon (06:01 GMT). Typically spring tide would have been on 16 May or thereabout - so yes, probably the tide was still rough on the 18th.

Source:
http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/phase/pha...

dirk   Link to this

Spring tide - cont'd

It was on that very same 16 May that Sam went "by water" to see the Committee of Lords in his precious velvet coat... But then again, maybe he had the tide on his side that time. Still, a precarious business passing under the bridge with spring tide!

dirk   Link to this

Springtide - correction

It's that calendar thing again! I forgot to convert Gregorian to British.

The actual dates would have been:

Full moon 14 May Gregorian =
4 May Julian
springtide 5 May

New moon 28 May Gregorian =
18 May Julian
springtide 19 May

So yes - definitely - the tide would have rough!!! Certainly if a moderate to strong east wind were blowing up the river mouth (but that we don't know).

Terry Foreman   Link to this

House of Commons -- Solemn League and Covenant. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?co...

Ordered, by and Commons, in Parliament assembled, That the Instrument or Writing, called, The Solemn League and Covenant, a Copy whereof is hereunto annexed, be burned by the Hand of the Common Hangman; and that all other Copies be taken down out of all Churches and publick Places in England and Wales, and the Town of Berwicke upon Tweede, where the same are set up.

Resolved, upon the Question, That the Lords Concurrence be desired to this Order: And that the Lord Falkland do carry up the same to the Lords for their Concurrence.

Resolved also, upon the Question, That the Committee appointed to make search for the traiterous Writing, called, The Instrument of Government, do peruse the Journals of this House, and see a true Copy of the Instrument or Writing, called, The Solemn League and Covenant, be written, and annexed to the Order, which is to be carried up to the Lords.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

The Solemn League and Covenant, agreed to in 1643 during the First English Civil War, was in effect a treaty between the English Parliament and Scotland for the preservation of the reformed religion in Scotland, the reformation of religion in England and Ireland "according to the word of God and the example of the best reformed churches", and the extirpation of popery and prelacy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solemn_League_and...

Bill   Link to this

"with the judges on the benches at the further end of it"

The Courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas were at the upper end of the hall so lately as 1810.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Log in to post an annotation.

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