Friday 4 December 1663

Up pretty betimes, that is about 7 o’clock, it being now dark then, and so got me ready, with my clothes, breeches and warm stockings, and by water with Henry Russell, cold and wet and windy to Woolwich, to a hempe ship there, and staid looking upon it and giving direction as to the getting it ashore, and so back again very cold, and at home without going on shore anywhere about 12 o’clock, being fearful of taking cold, and so dined at home and shifted myself, and so all the afternoon at my office till night, and then home to keep my poor wife company, and so to supper and to bed.

21 Annotations

Terry F  •  Link

Pepys still has no boy at home

"Up...and so got me ready, with my clothes, breeches and warm stockings...[at dinner-time] at home and shifted myself" - remarking on the dressing and changing clothes, perhaps because he's understandably so preoccupied with the cold and dark, as it impinges on what he can accomplish this day.

Bradford  •  Link

How different "betimes" is now, from 4AM in the summer!---but then, no Fast Time/Daylight Savings back then to upset the circadian clock.

Hey, thirty-somethings amongst this readership: are any of you quite the hypochondriac our man is about catching cold? (I tried to think back to my own case, but apparently that information is now in deep storage.) Of course, he wouldn't have aspirin, Nyquil, or Australian red to help treat one.

Glyn  •  Link

"and shifted myself"

Presumably this definition applies: "8. Change one's clothing. Oxford Dictionary". It was a cold, wet day, and I imagine his clothes' materials would soak up the rain more than our waterproof ones do.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Hyponchondria in the young

My 25-y-o son sometimes seems to be in a permanent state of hypochondria and we recently had a 27-y-o staying with us who got worried about the spots on his back, which I had to inspect. (I blame Bill Bryson for making visitors to this great brown land nervous.) So the 20 something generation do seem to be more worried about their health and in the same state of perpetually checking up on how things are going like Sam does (but with much less cause!)

cumgranosalis  •  Link

Colds : Nanny did keep on telling me " you will catch a death of cold and that be the end of you ", then out came the mixtures of this and that. It be draughts [not of medicine or sketch]under the doors, the rain soaking one to the skin et al ....

Robert Gertz  •  Link

To be fair to Sam he must see quite a few healthy fellows catch some bug, try to laugh it off, and be buried two days later...Not to mention losing several siblings close to him in age during his childhood. Even apart from his years of suffering before the stone cut his fear of illness is very well founded.


Which will make his casual courage during the Plague...And it is courage to carry on as he will...All the more remarkable.

Terry F  •  Link

I suppressed an impulse to describe the attitude of many of us regarding (statistically) most diseases and infections (that we treat with off the shelf remedies, and get over relatively quickly, not to mention those for which we have received innoculations) - namely, that it is cavalier - and then the 17c connotation of the word occurred to me.

Pedro  •  Link

"and at home without going on shore anywhere about 12 o'clock, being fearful of taking cold,"

Back at the office old Penn laughs as he lifts a tankard of rum to his weather-beaten lips, "Good health Pepys, forgot to take your medicine I see!"

In 1655, Vice-Admiral William Penn captured Jamaica and began use of the rum ration

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Admiral Sir Will has had his share of illness and I believe (sorry if spoiling no time to search) he's been criticized (or will be?) for his absences. But I don't doubt he and Batten enjoy teasing their landlubber Clerk of the Acts about his health concerns.

"Pon my soul...Sir Will, I do believe we have a draft this morning." Penn notes to Batten, sidelong look.

"Indeed, Sir Will, 'tis an icy wind raging. Pepys? Have you noted this awful draft? We must needs take care."

Hewer eyes the sweating clerks in the warm office.

Here we go again...

"Indeed, Sir Will. Hewer? My cloak."

"Aye, fetch Mr. Pepys' cloak, Will. And shall we build up this niggling fire, Pepys?"

Several clerks eye the raging flames...

"Indeed, indeed. More wood, Hewer!"

"Ah, but such induces sweat." Penn, solemnly. "Not advisable unless we are tightly wrapped up...Sure to lead to ague. I recommend we lower the fire and wrap up."

"Yes, yes. Hewer, forget the wood, lower the fire!"

My word, 'tis smoky in here, Sir John entering, blinks...

"Ah, a good smoke. Cure for what ails you." Batten breathes in. "Deep breaths, Pepys!"

"Mmmn...I have heard it induces imbalance in the humours...Chills and ague to follow." Penn shakes head.

"Mayhaps you're right Sir Will." Batten nods. "I suggest we open all doors and windows and air ourselves out."

'Tis very smoky, Sir John thinks, eyes smarting.

"I..." cough... "Agree, Sir Will. Hewer!" Pepys calls.

"Yes, douse the fire and open all, but more clothing...We mustn't catch our death." Penn grinning at Sir Will before resuming solemn look.


Oh, Lord...Will sighs.

"Well, Sir Will...We should be off to Deptford. Take care, Pepys. Remember to bundle up." Penn and Batten head off, chuckling...

Indeed smoky...And rather cold now, Sir John notes, shivering.

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

Health Worries
Apart from everything else, I think Pepys is terrified of a recurrence of the stone. Once was enough! He often blames getting chilled for a return of his "old trouble."

cumgranosalis  •  Link

Robert nice piece, but if ye had enjoyed the pleasure of an English coal fire in the dead of winter, you would have had the clerks in their mittens and old woolies trying to take the pain out of their chapped chilblained fingers. If ye have never had the pleasure then should read tracts how the USAF [WWII] chaps complained bitterly of the pot bellied stove that was supplied to keep their Nissan huts warm {?}. The heat from the fire place to backside would fail miserably if thee be more than a score of inches.
Those nice pre Georgian rooms with ceilings 15/18ft , the rafters enjoyed the benefits. The Heat went up the flu, the red glow looks nice on a painting but did 'nutin' for the sniffles, except to invite thee to a good sniffer of brandy.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...if ye had enjoyed the pleasure of an English coal fire in the dead of winter, you would have had the clerks in their mittens and old woolies trying to take the pain out of their chapped chilblained fingers..." Indeed, my dad often experienced such pleasures in post-war Occupied Germany as have I in dear old New England and even north Georgia but gotta save that scene for "a Pepysian Christmas Carol..."

"Cromwell was dead...To begin with. You must believe that Cromwell was dead and his head exhumed and on a pike or there can be nothing wonderful in the story I am about to relate."

Bradford  •  Link

You can't just stop there!

Terry F  •  Link

Pepys, business and childlessness

John Graunt has several hypotheses about the lower fertility rate of Londoners vs those in the country, i.a. CHAP. VII.8. "the minds of men in London are more thoughtfull and full of business then in the Country, where their work is corporal Labour, and Exercizes. All which promote Breedings, whereas Anxieties of the minde hinder it."

Today -just as Graunt said - away on business while he could be, Mr. Pepys seems to have spent a long evening with his wife, but he was protecting himself against a further chill, i.e., against illness, and we know 'twas in the mornings that he attempted Breeding with the Mrs.

Pedro  •  Link

"a Pepysian Christmas Carol"

Is that the Carol, Sir, whose coming is foretold?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"Is that the Carol, Sir, whose coming is foretold?"

Or, knowing Pepys, maybe it's the Carole!

Alright, I'll get me coat...

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

But seriously, folks...

It occured to me, reading this entry, that we read very little about the parceling out of duties at the office. For example, today Pepys travels to wet and windy Woolwich, to examine a hempe ship ... Why him? Why not one of the other officers? Did Sam volunteer for the task or simply take it upon himself? Did someone else assign it to him, and if so, who? Coventry? The Duke?

The prioritization and assignment of tasks, and the heirarchy involved in that, doesn't seem very clear to me. Perhaps these are the kinds of details that the officers work out when Sam writes about how they "sat all the morning," etc.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Good question on the assigning of tasks. I'd guess Sam takes on everything he can so as to have as much of the office's business in hand but that much does get assigned at the morning sittings.


"Did Pepys know Cromwell was dead? Of course, how could he otherwise. His fate, his whole fortune, once tied to Cromwell's Commonwealth had changed completely with the Lord Protector's timely demise. The would-be Roundhead, dabbler in republician thought and principles had sunk deep beneath the waves not long after Cromwell's passing... Though the great Oliver's memory was not entirely lost to Pepys, how could it be when he saw the poor fellow's rotting head each day? I mention the macrabre fact of the Protector's display only so there should be no doubt that the great man was indeed dead.

But seeing Oliver's noble, profaned head each day brought no noble thoughts or hopes of his younger days to Pepys, it was merely a head on a pike to him.

Oh, but a tight-fisted, controlling hand at the Naval Office was Sam! A grasping, scraping, clutching, but remarkably efficient and brilliantly innovative old sinner, he!

Australian Susan  •  Link

Who was Henry Russell? One of the office clerks?

I was imagining the captain of the hemp ship having a snooze in his cabin feeling safe from inspection because of the foul weather and being roused by one on watch: "Cap'n! Cap'n! wake up! It's the fussy little b****r from the London! Even this weather ain't stopped him!"

"Oh, s***! Now I'll have to find the real bill of loading...."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"I was imagining the captain of the hemp ship having a snooze in his cabin feeling safe from inspection because of the foul weather and being roused by one on watch: "Cap'n! Cap'n! wake up! It's the fussy little b****r from the London! Even this weather ain't stopped him!"

"Oh, s***! Now I'll have to find the real bill of loading...."

Beware Sam, that's how Edward O'Brien got into trouble in the original "DOA".

"Well, Hollier? Is it my old costive trouble? Do I need more physick?"

"Pepys, old fellow...I'm afraid there's nothing I can do. But we must contact the authorities."


"You've been murdered."

Not that's there any lack of suspects...Hollier thinks.

Sam sharing the same thought...But who?

Cut to shot of fuming Bess... "Fifty-five pounds for him, twelve for me. Tears my letter without heeding it, burns my packet of his love letters."

Commissioner Pett... "Tell me how to run our family shipyard will the little..."

Admiral Sir William Penn... "Please...I'd just drown the little..."

Lord Sandwich... "That pompous, self-righteous, self-appointed moralizing little... What if Bess told him I made advances? What if he tells Jemina about Chelsea Betsy?"

Cap't Allen... Well he did have a fun but plain dinner there. "Turn up his snoot at me dear wife's cookery, will he? The little..."

Will Hewer..."I'd have done it long ago..."

Sir William Batten... "With the greatest of pleasure...Except that I'd actually have to work at the office."

Sir John Minnes... "Same here."

John Creed... "Not till all my accounts are passed, please. Though I'd certainly be grateful for the potential career advancement."

William Howe... "Same here."

Assorted shifty pursers and officers at Deptford... "We've been trying... 'Tis not so easy to hit such a fast-moving little..."

The Hemp Ship's captain...

"That's IT!" Sam notes, collapsing in agony.

"Fetch Mrs. Pepys." Hollier sighs. "And record the death as...DOA."

"Sir?" Hollier's clerk eyes him.

On second thought...Might be best to dump the body in the street. Wouldn't do to let people think he died in my office.

Log in to post an annotation.

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