Tuesday 4 February 1661/62

To Westminster Hall, where it was full term. Here all the morning, and at noon to my Lord Crew’s, where one Mr. Templer (an ingenious man and a person of honour he seems to be) dined; and, discoursing of the nature of serpents, he told us some that in the waste places of Lancashire do grow to a great bigness, and that do feed upon larks, which they take thus: They observe when the lark is soared to the highest, and do crawl till they come to be just underneath them; and there they place themselves with their mouths uppermost, and there, as is conceived, they do eject poyson up to the bird; for the bird do suddenly come down again in its course of a circle, and falls directly into the mouth of the serpent; which is very strange. He is a great traveller; and, speaking of the tarantula, he says that all the harvest long (about which times they are most busy) there are fidlers go up and down the fields every where, in expectation of being hired by those that are stung. Thence to the office, where late, and so to my chamber and then to bed, my mind a little troubled how to put things in order to my advantage in the office in readiness to the Duke’s orders lately sent to us, and of which we are to treat at the office to-morrow morning. This afternoon, going into the office, one met me and did serve a subpoena upon me for one Field, whom we did commit to prison the other day for some ill words he did give the office. The like he had for others, but we shall scour him for it.

17 Annotations

Pedro.   Link to this

"there are fidlers go up and down the fields everywhere, in expectation of being hired by those that are stung."

Tarantula, causes tarantism (an epidemic dancing mania) and the fiddlers are hired by those that are stung? At first sight I thought Sam was having his leg pulled, but old Tempter was indeed a much-travelled fellow. And those serpents in Lancashire?

Vincent Bell   Link to this

Tarantism an imaginary convenient 'disease' used during the pre-1660 puritan period to excuse / allow dancing in the fields to the sound of fiddlers it seems, see..

vicenzo   Link to this

For the Lancashire lass, it be the Love bug? along with "daddy it be a frog last night" as said to pops when he sees the prince.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Back down to earth today and either getting on with work or worrying about it for Sam, but he cannot resist a good story and relates them for us. I had not heard of the spitting serpents of Lancashire. There are spitting snakes, but they are not bird catchers:bird eaters either take babies from nests or wait in trees to ambush snakes (see http://reptilis.net/serpentes/senses.html for a description of the latter). I think this is another example of the "rational" explanation for seemingly inexplicable behaviour of birds, others being barnacle geese being born from barnacles and swallows hibernating at the bottom of streams, both of which were current nature "facts" in Sam's time.

JWB   Link to this

"...we shall scour him for it."
I can think of a good use to which Mr. Field could make of three pyes.

vicenzo   Link to this

ne'er a mention, ne'er a word about these words . So there are events that he doth deem not worthy of an entry."...whom we did commit to prison the other day for some ill words he did give the office..."

daniel   Link to this


Ah, yes, the oft quoted connection betweeen spider bites and dancing to a fiddler till you drop (or recover). I have heard several descriptions of this feat from various Neapolitans but Sam's is certainly one of my favorites.

vicenzo   Link to this

Snakes: English natives and never in Eire: smooth snake, Grass snake, Adder [or be viper][wild woods and it be poisonous too]
then there be the symbolism of thess slitherry reptiles "...They say every woman dreams of snakes at least once in her life... " there by serpents in Lancashire?

vicenzo   Link to this

legend of St. Leonard
"In the south of England there lived a holy hermit named St, Leonard whose hut was surrounded by a glade of noble Beech trees. The saint loved the trees, but by day he could not sit under their shady branches because of the vipers which swarmed about the roots, and by night the songs of many nightingales disturbed his rest. So he prayed that both the serpents and the birds might be taken away, and from that day no viper has stung and no nightingale has warbled in the Hampshire forests."

vicenzo   Link to this

see H of L page:"...my mind a little troubled how to put things in order to my advantage in the office in readiness to the Duke's orders lately sent to us, and of which we are to treat at the office to-morrow morning …” admiralty jurisdiction Bill is in progress at Lords meeting hall
The house of Lords is discussing the jurisdiction of the Admiralty on Thursday in the Princes lodging
No wonder Sam be a little upset ne’er be on the wrong side of wronged prince. Did he put a guy in the pokey without the rite papers?

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Can anyone with OED access tell us exactly what this word meant to Sam?

Mary   Link to this


OED quotes this sentence to illustrate the figurative use of the verb.

To beat or scourge; hence to punish or treat severely

Xjy   Link to this

Worth mentioning
Vince says "ne'er a mention, ne'er a word about these words . So there are events that he doth deem not worthy of an entry."...whom we did commit to prison the other day for some ill words he did give the office..."
So, too trivial to mention must be things like people spraying the authorities (Sam’s office) with vitriol, and the response of the authorities to this (throw ‘em in the slammer).
Sometimes we get a glimpse of the social setup that allows Sam his “musique” and oysters and parading before the ladies in church…

Robert Gertz   Link to this

One must admire Ed Field's style...Very twenty-first century. I would guess he chose to slap Sam with the subpoena as the non-titled and most vulnerable member of the office.

The words? Maybe just "Gentlemen, your books wouldn't bear close observation and we're tired of paying kickbacks. I shall go to the Parliament about this." Or perhaps a noting that poor seamen are being cheated of their miserable pay via the ticket scam while the Navy Office parties with obscene pies...

vicenzo   Link to this

corn shortage MP's take action:
Scarcity of Corn, &c.
Ordered, by the Commons assembled in Parliament, That, in respect of the great Dearth of Corn, and Sickness of the People, his Majesty be humbly moved to remit the Rigour of the Law for the strict Observation of this Lent ensuing: And that his Majesty be humbly acquainted, That this House hath received Information, that there is Plenty of Corn in Ireland, and that great Quantities thereof are bought up for Foreign Parts: And humbly, therefore, to beseech his Majesty to give special Order to his Justices and Council of Ireland, to take such an effectual Course, that no sort of Grain may be transported out of Ireland, but upon good Security, to bring and vend the same in England.
And the Members of this House, who are of his Majesty's Privy Council, and Sir Richard Ford, are desired to attend his Majesty with this Order.

From: British History Online
Source: House of Commons Journal Volume 8: 4 February 1662. Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8, (1802).
URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?com...
Date: 07/03/2005

Terry F   Link to this

L&M note: "This was the beginning of a series of disputes lasting until the end of 1663. Edward Field of Wapping had accused the Board of failing to act on the embezzlement of [three pieces of] timber [marked with the King's broad arrow, worth £15] by one [William] Turpin [labourer, of Wapping]. 'Spleen' or 'hopes...of reward', as Pepys wrote, might well inspire such allegations (*Further Corr.*, p. 4), and Turpin was in fact later acquitted in the Admiralty Court [ http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/03/17/ ]. Field, now committed for slander, successfully sued for wrongful arrest on the technical ground that the Board had no authority as magistrates within the city. The diary tells the rest of the story....

Terry F   Link to this

L&M note cont'd: "In October 1662 [Field] brought an action against Pepys and was awarded £30 damages; in November 1663 he sued the whole Board and obtained £20 damages plus costs, after demanding an out-of-court settlement of £250. Meanwhile, on an order of the Duke of York, Batten brought an action in the Exchequer on the original charge of slander and on 3 June 1663 was awarded £10 damages. This, inter alia, led to the act of 1664, giving the Board powers of magistracy within the city: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/03/22/
None of the papers concernin Field have survived among Pepys collections"

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