Thursday 19 June 1662

Up by five o’clock, and while my man Will was getting himself ready to come up to me I took and played upon my lute a little. So to dress myself, and to my office to prepare things against we meet this morning. We sat long to-day, and had a great private business before us about contracting with Sir W. Rider, Mr. Cutler, and Captain Cocke, for 500 ton of hemp, which we went through, and I am to draw up the conditions. Home to dinner, where I found Mr. Moore, and he and I cast up our accounts together and evened them, and then with the last chest of crusados to Alderman Backwell’s, by the same token his lady going to take coach stood in the shop, and having a gilded glassfull of perfumed comfits given her by Don Duarte de Silva, the Portugall merchant, that is come over with the Queen, I did offer at a taste, and so she poured some out into my hand, and, though good, yet pleased me the better coming from a pretty lady. So home and at the office preparing papers and things, and indeed my head has not been so full of business a great while, and with so much pleasure, for I begin to see the pleasure it gives. God give me health. So to bed.

19 Annotations

dirk   Link to this

John Evelyn's diary today:

"I went to Albury in Surrey, to visite Mr. Henry Howard [since Duke of Norfolk], soone after he had procured the Dukedome to be restored &c: This Gent: had now compounded a debt of neere 200000 pounds, contracted by his Grandfath[e]r: I was much obliged to that greate virtuoso and to this young Gent: so as I staied a fortnight with him."

Bradford   Link to this

Have just been reading soprano Renee Fleming's engrossing account of her career, "The Inner Voice"; and when she's preparing to sing, say, Mozart roles, she needs a dresser to get into the complex outfits of the time---so it really is no surprise that the Pepyses might need the same sort of assist, "strange though it is to me," as Sam might say.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Dressing
I was watching Dangerous Liaisons last night - the opening sequence shows the two main characters, male and female, both requiring 6 people each to dress them. Although this is later than our period (set in the 1770s)complications of smart society dress were much the same and even comparatively ordinary dress needed assistance. For a female - no-one can lace their own corsets!

daniel   Link to this

"a gilded glassfull of perfumed comfits"

anyone have a clearer idea than I what this would be?

dirk   Link to this

What are comfits?

"Comfit, an archaic English word for an item of confectionery consisting of a seed, or nut coated in several layers of sugar...In England these small, hard sugar sweets were often made with caraway seeds, known for sweetening the breath (hence kissing confits). Up to a dozen coats of syrup were needed before the seeds were satisfactorily encrusted. Comfits were eaten as sweets, and also used in other sweet dishes; for example seed cake was made with caraway comfits rather than loose caraway seeds as in the 19th century. Confectioners as early as the 17th century recognized by varying the proportions of sugar in the syrup they could change the final texture, making pearled comfits or crisp and ragged comfits. The word comfit remained in use in English up until the 20th century: Alice, of Alice in Wonderland, has a box of comfits in her pocket."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 208)

"Comfit making demanded both leisure and special equipment; a ladle, a slice, a basin to heat the sugar suspended from cords over another bowl containing hot coals, and yet another basin in which the seeds, fruits or spices were treated. Molten sugar was ladled over them, and after each application they had to be dried and cooled. Several coats of sugar were needed. [...]"
---Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson [Academy Chicago:Chicago] 1991(p. 312)

Source:
http://www.foodtimeline.org/christmasfood.html#...

Cumgranissalis   Link to this

Dah! de infamous MM's, no melting in the palm of ones hand.

Pauline   Link to this

"...I did offer at a taste..."
What a phrase! Beats the impolite asking or begging, doesn't it? But given the lady is "pretty" and Sam's interest lies more there, I imagine quite a flirty kind of offer to divest her of a few comfits; and she quite pleased with the bargain.

Xjy   Link to this

"...indeed my head has not been so full of business a great while, and with so much pleasure, for I begin to see the pleasure it gives."
Consciousness dawns. He's been doing it and loving it, but now the truth is revealed to him as an epiphany. Happy the man who gets a kick out of his work.
So now he moves finally from a young man with potential, a privileged dabbler with good connections, to a seasoned professional and a master of his trade. We've seen intimations of this in his attitude to his father, and now it's stronger at work, too. A bit like getting a place that's "yours" in the national side.

Tom Burns   Link to this

Hemp in the Royal Navy

Hemp was used in the royal navy principally for cordage and sails, and even for construction of the dreaded cat-o-nine-tails. In later times (the 1800s) dependence on foreign sources of hemp became an issue in England, much as dependence on foreign oil is in many countries today.

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"comfit"
should not be confused with confit: meat
usually duck that has been cooked and preserved in its own fat.

David A. Smith   Link to this

"yet pleased me the better coming from a pretty lady"
A sweet, and a free chance to gaze upon (ogle) and banter with a pretty lady, and an implied flirtatious compliment. No wonder he liked it!

pjk   Link to this

Comfits
In the 1950's and 60's you could still buy 'Liquorice Comfits'. Sweets about the size and shape of elongated medicine capsules. They had a small piece of liquorice at the centre and a sugar coating.

Peg   Link to this

Comfits

Still more at
http://www.historicfood.com/Comfits.htm

And there's a shop in England - Colchester? - that sells sugared caraway seeds in tiny flowered tins.

language hat   Link to this

"should not be confused with confit"

Very true, but they're identical in origin; the OED gives the following etymology of "comfit":

OF. confit, confite:--L. confectum, confecta, n. uses of confectus, -a, -um, pa. pple. of conficere to prepare, make ready (f. com- together + facere to make), whence F. confire to preserve, pickle

Australian Susan   Link to this

"poured some into my hand"
You can just see Sam giving his eager puppy look, positively tail-wagging, holding out his hand. The lady was careful not to have hand to hand contact, wasn't she, but I bet there was plenty of eye contact. This gives you a glimpse of the luxury trade developing in the Restoration period - artisans had time to make pretty trifles like gold painted glass containers for sweets which had been painstakingly produced and there was a large enough group of leisured persons to purchase such articles.

Araucaria   Link to this

Dirk quoted "In England these small, hard sugar sweets were often made with caraway seeds, known for sweetening the breath (hence kissing confits)."

University-level organic chemistry students, when studying the properties of stereoisomers, are usually given the example of spearmint and caraway. Their essential molecules are identical (carvone, C_10 H_14 O), but in left-handed and right-handed versions.

See the third section on this page:
http://www.cem.msu.edu/~reusch/VirtualText/ster...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Alderman Blackwell's lady...The eager-to-ingratiate foreign merchant...Our Sam begging a little taste from milady's fair hand. Neat scene, Sam.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Wonder how Bess appreciates hearing Sam on his lute at 5:30 am?

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"a great private business before us about contracting with Sir W. Rider, Mr. Cutler, and Captain Cocke, for 500 ton of hemp, which we went through, and I am to draw up the conditions."

L&M note this contract later seems to have been troublesome: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/06/23/
and http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/06/24/

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