Thursday 23 May 1661

This day I went to my Lord, and about many other things at Whitehall, and there made even my accounts with Mr. Shepley at my Lord’s, and then with him and Mr. Moore and John Bowles to the Rhenish wine house, and there came Jonas Moore, the mathematician, to us, and there he did by discourse make us fully believe that England and France were once the same continent, by very good arguments, and spoke very many things, not so much to prove the Scripture false as that the time therein is not well computed nor understood. From thence home by water, and there shifted myself into my black silk suit (the first day I have put it on this year), and so to my Lord Mayor’s by coach, with a great deal of honourable company, and great entertainment.

At table I had very good discourse with Mr. Ashmole, wherein he did assure me that frogs and many insects do often fall from the sky, ready formed.

Dr. Bates’s singularity in not rising up nor drinking the King’s nor other healths at the table was very much observed.

From thence we all took coach, and to our office, and there sat till it was late.

And so I home and to bed by day-light. This day was kept a holy-day through the town; and it pleased me to see the little boys walk up and down in procession with their broom-staffs in their hands, as I had myself long ago gone.1

  1. Pepys here refers to the perambulation of parishes on Holy Thursday, still observed. This ceremony was sometimes enlivened by whipping the boys, for the better impressing on their minds the remembrance of the day, and the boundaries of the parish, instead of beating houses or stones. But this would not have harmonized well with the excellent Hooker’s practice on this day, when he “always dropped some loving and facetious observations, to be remembered against the next year, especially by the boys and young people.” Amongst Dorsetshire customs, it seems that, in perambulating a manor or parish, a boy is tossed into a stream, if that be the boundary; if a hedge, a sapling from it is applied for the purpose of flagellation. — B.

38 Annotations

vicente   Link to this

"...wherein he did assure me that frogs and many insects do often fall from the sky, ready formed..." most likely cause, small tornadoes [whirlwinds] sucking up the water from small ponds with all the debris, and dumping it some houndreds yards away.

dirk   Link to this

"and spoke very many things, not so much to prove the Scripture false as that the time therein is not well computed nor understood" et al.

It's because of this relatively new way of thinking that we call this "Early Modern Time" - not Middle Ages any more, where ideas like these could have made you end up at the stake... Cfr. also the discussion about Britain and France once forming one continent (correct of course!).

Dr Bates' not drinking the King's health in company may not be very clever on his part - it's "very much observed" by the others.

vicente   Link to this

Once the clergy had lost the power to keep all Ideas and information from reaching beyond the selected few. Changes took place. Now in this era Padorara's box has been opened and 6 billion people have access to 6 billion other different ideas. The possible permutations of collisions is inmeasurable. Here in this Diary we get a smideon of the noticable thoughts, yet the mundane day routines do skip us, especially washing, eating ones cauliflower and did he make his own ink or was it bought from on of the hawkers? So many questions so many unknowns.

dirk   Link to this

"this day was kept a holy-day through the town..."

Ascension Day, 39th day after Easter.

dirk   Link to this

raining frogs...

"There are lists of dozens of examples of weird rain, all over the world, including alabaster, ants, ashes, beef, beetle larvae, berries, bitumen, blood, butter, charcoal, china fragments, cinders, coal, cobwebs, coins, crabs, crayfish, eels, fish, flesh, flowers, frogs, gelatinous matter, grain, ham sandwiches, hay, iron balls, jelly fish, limestone, lizards, mud, mussels, oyster shells, periwinkles, quartz, resin, salt, sand, sandalwood, seeds, silk, snails, snakes, spawn, spiders, stones, turtles,..."


Contrary to what is sometimes claimed, the Bible doesn't mention a *rain* of frogs. In Exodus 8:3 (the plagues of Egypt) the frogs come out of their natural environment: "And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly".

Hic Retearius   Link to this


The ham sandwiches sound ok, Dirk, and they are on topic. Can you get them on (w)rye?

Pedro.   Link to this

Jonas Moore... did by discourse make us fully believe that England and France were once the same continent, by very good arguments.

Jonas must have been a very interesting fellow to meet. Maybe his work in the 1650's, helping to drain the fens of Norfolk, set him thinking of England and France being once on the same continent. Stretching the imagination a little, if he also thought, along with Abraham Ortelius in 1596, that Americas were “torn away from Europe and Africa by earthquakes and floods”; they could be discussing something that was not proven until the theory of Plate Tectonics, some 300 years later in 1960's.

A. Hamilton   Link to this

A rain of ham sandwiches

reminds me of a charming children's book with a title, as I recall, of "Cloudy with a chance of meatballs."

David A. Smith   Link to this

"I had very good discourse with Mr. Ashmole"
And one day, in 1677, Mr Ashmole will bequeath his Tradescant collection of rarities, including "Tradescant's Ark," to Oxford, which will build a new museum to house them, and name it ... Ashmolean.
And just under 150 years later, another Englishman named Smithson made a similar bequest:

Leo Starrenburg   Link to this

I would have enjoyed talking with Jonas Moore. His views on these matters must have been strange to say the least, but his practical and money-making idea's probably compensated for them.

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"raining frogs" how about cats and dogs?

Jim   Link to this

Someone has recently mentioned Neal Stephenson's novel Quicksilver which has our Sam as a character (along with members of the Royal Society such as we meet in today's posting) -- having just finished it two days ago, I was delighted to see Sam Pepys' multiple appearances in the novel, especially to see him play such a crucial role near the book's ending. And, speaking of appearances by Sam Pepys in recent novels, I'd like to point out Philip Kerr's mystery novel Dark Matter, which casts Isaac Newton into sort of a Sherlock Holmes role and which feature's Sam as a supporting character.

Pauline   Link to this

Neal Stephenson's novel Quicksilver
Jim, I’m halfway through it and recognized Ashmole and Moore as just the type Sam will be hanging out with in the coming years at The Royal Society. Their theories and experiments are great reading. Wonder what we think and believe today that will strike people hundreds of years from now as equally of interest or amazement.

Please put the Philip Kerr novel in the Further Reading section of Background information for us—thanks.

dirk   Link to this

"shifted myself into my black silk suit (the first day I have put it on this year)"

History of a silk suit...

Sunday 1 July 1660:
"This morning came home my fine Camlett cloak, with gold buttons, and a silk suit, which cost me much money, and I pray God to make me able to pay for it."

Tuesday 10 July 1660:
"This day I put on first my new silk suit, the first that ever I wore in my life."

Emilio   Link to this

Beating the bounds

The practice Wheatley footnotes was done for the express purpose of teaching young boys the boundaries of their local parish. Tomalin makes it sound not quite so brutal, but that may well have depended on the particular parish. She describes Sam's childhood memories:

"he recalled . . . street activities such as 'beating the bounds,' when the children of the parish went in procession, carrying broomsticks and shepherded by the constable and churchwarden, had water poured over them from the windows of their neighbours and were playfully beaten before being rewarded with bread and cheese and a drink--the whole ancient ritual intended to fix the limits of their own parish in their memories."

Perhaps she is talking about a mention in the diary from 1668, which is quoted here, along with a disapproving note from the 1863 Cork Examiner: .

Some even follow a milder version of the practice today (scroll down to the May 3 entry): .

Jim   Link to this

Pauline -- I took your advice and added an entry to the Further Reading section giving more information regarding Kerr's novel. While I was at it, I also added an entry touting Harry Turtledove's marvelous science fiction short story "And So To Bed" -- written as an entry in Sam's diary.

vicente   Link to this

another reference of beating the bounds
A tithe-rent charge is still paid by the owner of Marks Hall to the Rector of Stondon, and until early in the 19th century the parishioners of Stondon included Marks Hall in their annual beating of the parish bounds.

From: British History Online
Source: The Hundred of Ongar. A History of the County of Essex: Volume IV, W. R. Powell (Editor) (1956).
Date: 25/05/2004
Copyright 2003 University of London & History of Parliament Trust

Australian Susan   Link to this

In the 1960s the Parish of St Stephen's in the centre of Bristol used to beat its bounds. What they did was walk around the Parish boundaries on Ascension Day and mark prominent boundaries by the Church Wardens banging the curate into them. Much hilarity by all (I think they ended up with a charity lunch). I remember this as one of the boundaries of the Parish was the Bank of England (where my father worked).

Michael T.   Link to this

"The practice Wheatley footnotes was done for the express purpose of teaching young boys the boundaries of their local parish."

Why was it so important for youngsters to learn these boundaries?

vicente   Link to this

Boundry marking, other than time old animal ritual. It appears to let it be known "Who" controlled , Who payed the tythes etc. I would think it be good to Especially Know where the Common lands were so that your cow or goose did not end up in the wrong cooking pot without compensation. Even to-day the Common Foot path has to be watched before it disappears into Local Lairds inventory { ? He that is living it up in the Seychells?}

Australian Susan   Link to this

Parish Boundaries
The Parish was the unit of local government. Parishes were responsible for most of what went on in their patch, so it was important to know where the lines of responsibility lay. Churchwardens administered poor relief to those living within the boundaries for example. During the plague to come, it was church wardens who stayed at their posts (at great risk) to adminster the plague orders and record the deaths in the parish registers. There was also the income-raising through tithes: churchwardens neded to know which properties to tithe on. With reference to my previous posting about beating the bounds: I emailed St Stephen's church office in Bristol, and got a prompt response. Alas, they no longer beat their bounds, but the secretary told me it is still done in many parts of England. Churchwardens *still* have powers of arrest within churchyards in England!

language hat   Link to this

Parish Boundaries
I know that in prerevolutionary Paris, jurisdiction depended on exactly what boundaries enclosed the person or act in question; if you crossed the street you might fall within the purview of an entirely different set of rules and officials (parish, convent, college, &c). Important to know where you were at all times!

Ian   Link to this

"...that England and France were once the same continent..." He's right. And wasn't the theory of continental drift credited to Charles Lyell in the early nineteenth century?

Pedro.   Link to this

"theory of continental drift"

Generally attributed to Alfred Wegener in 1912 see..

Sjoerd   Link to this

I hate to bring you the bad news, but England and the rest of Europe were and still are part of the same continent : if we were drifting we were drifting together !

vicente   Link to this

Alas the German zee is still there, acting like a window in a bank, incase there is some virus in the air, keeps in /out [or is it out/in], sometimes, maybe, Electric light still on a different wave length. We are joined by our differences ,vivre la differance.

Pedro.   Link to this

"England and the rest of Europe"

Thanks Sjoerd for pointing out the "schoolboy" error!
Thursday 10th is Euro elections and there are still a lot of "Little Englander" candidates who would say "we aint never bin part of Europe!"
So maybe we will be drifing apart.

Grahamt   Link to this

Sur le Continent:
Geographically the archipelago of the British Isles is part of the continent of Europe, but it is common shorthand in France as well as Britain to refer to the major land mass as "The Continent" as a separate entity from the many islands around it. (what else would you call it?) So Britain is part of Europe but not joined to the "the Continent"
By the way, the separation wasn't caused by drift, but by rising water levels, after the ice age, flooded a river valley (of the combined Thames and Seine, I think)

Sjoerd   Link to this

I was pleased to see in this BBC animation ( ) that the British Isles are proudly coloured different from the drab green of the "continent". According to the BBC at least the british isles seem to have drifted here from somewhere around the South Americas. As someone pointed out to me: europe is not a continent either but part of Asia.
I salute the dear Pepys fans, wherever they are drifting !

Pedro.   Link to this

BBC animation

Fascinated by Sjoerd's site above, and Britain proudly drifting from the Southern Hemisphere without the rest of Europe, led me to this site..

Apparently we were all together 200 million years ago in the supercontinent of Pangea. This site show the path of Britain since then and before. And most of the rest of Europe seems to have been mostly under water.

Glyn   Link to this

I remember buying a map of Europe when I was in Dublin, which at first glance seemed completely normal, until you realised that there was no land between Ireland and France.

Anyway, is anyone going to take some burden off Phil and do this:

The "Story So Far" page is stuck about 8(8!) months ago, which will be discouraging to new readers who want to get up to speed about the story. (And no, I am definitely not volunteering myself, but there must be other people willing to do it?)

Grahamt   Link to this

UK readers probably don't need reminding of the famous Times Headline:
"Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off"

vicente   Link to this

Britain turns into a tornado hotspot with 100 twisters a year
By Charles Arthur, Technology Editor 11 June 2004

Pedro.   Link to this

British Isles: A Natural History.

For anyone interested in the subject the BBC has a set of programmes describing Britain's journey across the globe for more than 300 million years see...

Pat Stewart Cavalier   Link to this

What about Scotland and Ireland in the continental drift ? Not to mention the Isle of Man.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"Dr. Bates’s singularity in not rising up nor drinking the King’s nor other healths at the table was very much observed."
Bates was "one of the most eminent of the Puritan divines" and by his coreligionists in New England "The practice of drinking toasts was outlawed in 1639, because of its supposedly pagan origin and because, once a man has begun to drink a toast, he is on the road to perdition; 'drunkenness, uncleanness, and other sins quickly follow.'"

Gerald Berg   Link to this

Parish boundaries. Not that different today with gangland boundaries throughout the world. The punishment today for overstepping your border could be somewhat more severe however. Tithes are of an entirely different order also.

Chris Squire UK   Link to this

'Doggerland was a former landmass in the southern North Sea that connected Great Britain to mainland Europe during and after the last Ice Age until about 6,500 or 6,200 BCE until it was gradually flooded by rising sea levels. Geological surveys have suggested that it stretched from Britain's east coast to the Netherlands and the western coasts of Germany and Denmark . .

A search for images produces a host of maps showing its varying extent at different epochs.
Fortean Times is a British monthly magazine devoted to the anomalous phenomena popularised by Charles Fort . . its tagline is "The World of Strange Phenomena".

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