Thursday 12 May 1664

Up by 4 o’clock and by water to Woolwich, where did some business and walked to Greenwich, good discourse with Mr. Deane best part of the way; there met by appointment Commissioner Pett, and with him to Deptford, where did also some business, and so home to my office, and at noon Mrs. Hunt and her cozens child and mayd came and dined with me. My wife sick … . in bed. I was troubled with it, but, however, could not help it, but attended them till after dinner, and then to the office and there sat all the afternoon, and by a letter to me this afternoon from Mr. Coventry I saw the first appearance of a warr with Holland. So home; and betimes to bed because of rising to-morrow.

28 Annotations

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...by a letter to me this afternoon from Mr. Coventry I saw the first appearance of a warr with Holland..."

First appearance? A formal declaration by King and Parliament? Or a report admitting to Holmes' actions in Guinea?

***

Perhaps it's not those that are troubling Bess, Sam...

Terry F   Link to this

"My wife sick of those in bed." (L&M) -- and her husband sick of those who had come at noon and dined with and chatted with and shmoozed with, with --..., well, with him, -- he-who-has-other-priorities-thanks-goodbye (early avatar of the White Rabbit).

djc   Link to this

L&M note Coventry's letter urging naval preparations (PRO Adm.106/8 f. 449) War was not declared until March 1665.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/
ADM Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies
Division within ADM Records of the Navy Board and the Board of Admiralty
ADM 106 Navy Board: Records
Subseries within ADM 106 IN-LETTERS
Subsubseries within ADM 106 From the Admiralty
Scope and content
From the admiralty
Covering dates 1663 May - 1664 May

Michael Robinson   Link to this

the first appearance of a warr with Holland.

The trains are leaving the stations ...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Interesting, how does one officially open a war at this time? Declaration by the King and/or Parliament? I'd thought that was done. Attack? Holmes seems to have handled that well. Bellicose proclaimation of world domination? Gotta award that one to the self-proclaimed "Masters of the South Seas" in the Hague.

We seem still to be in the mobilization stage...In this era a pretty slow process. But, as they told the poor, bewildered Czar Nicky fearfully hesitating to sign the decrees, "Mobilization means war".

Mary   Link to this

My wife sick of those...

Given Elizabeth's indisposition today, Uncle Wight could hardly have chosen a worse day than yesterday to make his outrageous proposal ... it's dollars to doughnuts that she suffers from some degree of PMT and will have found his advances even less amusing than might have been the case at other times of the month.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

I'm still amazed she hasn't thrown Sam out the window given Uncle Wight has not yet been given at least a good slap upside of the head... Apart from my suggestion she's engaged in a lay-bed strike... "You have guests? Well, go and cook your own dinner for them!"...my best guess is that she and Sam have actually been primed for Wight's doltishness for a while now. They'd hoped for better but knew what his real intent was likely to be and so it's more disappointment than shock.

Allowing one to wonder how far down the road to pimpville Sam would've gone with Lord Sandwich had milord approached him...

(spoiler, slight)

And then there's poor Mrs. Bagwell, whose husband is doubtless more desperate than Sam...

Bradford   Link to this

Put me right if mistaken, but since at this time the whole mechanism of Those was but poorly understood, what did even the best medical minds think They were?

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Bradford, part of the answer is that we're still not fully sure why women menstruate, see the article by John Travis from Science News, 1997 http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/pdfs/data/1997....

Robert Gertz   Link to this

This interesting abstract from M. Stolberg's article "A woman down to her bones. The anatomy of sexual difference in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries." in the journal "Isis" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?c... suggests 16th and early 17th century physician were at least aware of the need to view women's health distinctly from the male's. Though of course, sadly they also manipulated this into a means of proclaiming evidence of female inferiority.

Although menses-inducing drugs were known, the humoral theory still insisted that menstruation was a "necessary purgative to cleanse women of excess humors" http://anatomyofgender.northwestern.edu/guenthe...

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

From March 11:"mind and head a little troubled"

Perhaps Sam meant that he's disappointed that Elizabeth turned the old man down so firmly?

In his ambiguous reaction to the news of Uncle Wight's proposition this remains a troubling possibility. Convention aside, the advantages Jeannine identified yesterday for Elizabeth in Uncle Wight's pitch also apply in some measure to Sam, who would gain a wealthy child -- or children, perhaps a boy.

It seems to me possible that Sam might pity Elizabeth's longing for a child and suspect that his operation for the stone made him barren. There is also his concern that there will be no one to carry forward the Pepys name. As for jealousy, he may well think that elderly Uncle Wight could never compete with Sam for Elizabeth's affection.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

If the annotation under Uncle Wight's name is correct, not all that elderly.

***

"Maes...My niece has refused me. Me, the Godfather of fishmongering..."

"Oh, that's unfortunate, Mr. Wight." bowing, hat-in-hand. "The lady is most foolish."

"Most. Maes...No one refuses William Wight."

"A confident spirit oftens wins the English lady, I hear." Maes, nodding.

"Iuduco..." Solemn look...

"Oh..." Maes, nervous look. "No, Willy...No. You don't wanta do that." wave of hand.

"It must be...My niece requires persuasion. I feel were she deprived of a certain...Support. She might possibly be a bit more...Amenable. You do remember how well that worked with that delightfully virtuous young maid in Lisbon?"

"You don't mean...Willy? The Lisbon way? Your own nephew?"

"The Lisbon way..."

"But Willy...Mr. Wight? Last time that took two days...And he's a high official. Oh, no Willy...No."

"The Lisbon way, Maes. Unless you would care to give up my protection?" Stern look...

"All wight, er right, all right...I'll contact that Mr. Creed."

Patricia   Link to this

Maybe Sam's not more upset about Uncle Wight simply because he IS his uncle. Keep it in the family, you know. It reminded me of the passage in the OT (2 Kings 13:20) when Amnon by trickery managed to violate his half-sister Tamar and her full brother Absalom comforted her by saying, in effect, "don't take it to heart, he's your brother." So much better to be raped by one's brother than a rank stranger! In the finale, however, Absalom took his own revenge after 2 years had passed. Given Sam's love of lucre, would he rather take the cash?

Robert Gertz   Link to this

I was thinking more on "Absalom, Absalom" the Faulkner novel...And the ironic, grim fate of Thomas Sutpen in his efforts to father an heir.

Bergie   Link to this

Elizabeth seems to be disabled with "those" more often than the average frequency. Has anyone checked the dates? Are they as much as four weeks apart?

language hat   Link to this

"It seems to me possible that Sam might pity Elizabeth's longing for a child"

We have no evidence that she "longed" for a child. As I said in yesterday's annotations, "want" simply means "lack."

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

We have no evidence that she "longed" for a child.

I think inferentially we do. Uncle Wight seems to have thought she wanted a child enough to accept his advances.

Ann   Link to this

I agree with Andrew Hamilton: We can infer Elizabeth wanted a child, as, in those days, bearing an heir was about the only thing a woman could do to be considered a "success." That was her job.

language hat   Link to this

It is certainly plausible she wanted a child, but as I said, we have no actual evidence. Uncle Wight, like most men in his circumstance, would say anything he thought likely to produce a favorable reaction, and I doubt his insight into the particular psychology of his female target was any more acute than that of most men in his circumstance. He clearly did not get the response he anticipated, which does not speak well for his acuity of understanding.

And bear in mind that Elizabeth was no stereotypical "little woman"; I can easily conceive (er, so to speak) that she saw the burden placed on other women by childbirth (beginning with the serious possibility of death in childbed and continuing to the certainty of a greatly burdened existence), realized that whatever other husbands might be like hers was not going to reject her for lack of production, and might actually have been relieved to continue in a childless state for as long as God might in His inscrutable wisdom ordain.

language hat   Link to this

It is certainly plausible she wanted a child, but as I said, we have no actual evidence. Uncle Wight, like most men in his circumstance, would say anything he thought likely to produce a favorable reaction, and I doubt his insight into the particular psychology of his female target was any more acute than that of most men in his circumstance. He clearly did not get the response he anticipated, which does not speak well for his acuity of understanding.

And bear in mind that Elizabeth was no stereotypical "little woman"; I can easily conceive (er, so to speak) that she saw the burden placed on other women by childbirth (beginning with the serious possibility of death in childbed and continuing to the certainty of a greatly burdened existence), realized that whatever other husbands might be like hers was not going to reject her for lack of production, and might actually have been relieved to continue in a childless state for as long as God might in His inscrutable wisdom ordain.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

We do have some evidence of Bess' longing, though it may reflect more her fear of failure to please, failure as a 17th century married woman. The diary opens with Sam commenting on her hopeful feeling that she is pregnant. I believe there are several similar occasions, though at least one is later.

On the other hand I'm not sure I could believe Sam's hesitation to act forcefully with dear ole lecherous Unc likely stems from sympathy for Bess' baby fever.

Meanwhile Unc at least does have some proof of virility...From 13 Sept., 1660...
"...within this month my Aunt Wight was brought to bed of two girls..."

Robert Gertz   Link to this

And cousin Dr. Tom Pepys' somewhat more genteel approach...From 11 November 1660...

"...went to my father's where I found my wife, and there we supped, and Dr. Thomas Pepys, who my wife told me after I was come home, that he had told my brother Thomas that he loved my wife so well that if she had a child he would never marry, but leave all that he had to my child..."
***

While the going rate at court...17 October 1662...

"Sir Charles Barkeley is made Privy Purse; a most vicious person, and one whom Mr. Pierce, the surgeon, to-day (at which I laugh to myself), did tell me that he offered his wife 300l. per annum to be his mistress"

Aren't we are a little more...Impressed...with Uncle now? (Though I see by a post during the Pierce affair that my wild guess of $200,000 modern equivalent was far too high.)

Australian Susan   Link to this

Death in childbed

1 in 3 women died in childbirth at this time and it didn't alter until well into the 19th century.

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

Many thanks to LH for sparking this lively discussion. His appreciation of Elizabeth is persuasive, especially given Australian Susan's observation. I concede my inference may be off, or at least not at all the full picture. Quite evidently she didn't crave a child above all else.

language hat   Link to this

You're welcome -- if there's one thing I enjoy, it's lively discussions!

I don't mean to suggest she *didn't* want a child -- I would guess she had mixed feelings on the subject, and if she thought herself pregnant would feel the joyful expectation common to women in that situation (if, of course, they're married and in a reasonably secure position) -- just that we have no reason to think she had any special longing for one (of the sort that these days leads people to adopt or try fertility treatments).

Cactus Wren   Link to this

Liza Picard, _Restoration London_:

"Girls began to menstruate (menarche) between fifteen and seventeen. Adolescent anaemia ('green sickness') had to wait unti they married, when the regular injections of semen to which they would then be entitled would cure them. Unfortunately the 1660s were a peak period for young men to leave England for the colonies; as many as 25 percent of women never married.

"It was important that menstruation should be regular, otherwise the humours would get out of balance. Men could sweat to expel impurities, but since women's humours were cold and watery, they could not sweat, so they menstruated instead. If menstruation stopped, for any reason except pregnancy, the body would become a putrifying sink of humours, and the blocked-up blood would go tot he head and cause melancholy. (It is interesting to note that one of the methods of treating this unnerving state of affairs was by a pessary soaked in the appropriate medicament. One more step and they would have had tampons. Perhaps some brave, unrecorded women did.) A menstruating woman was wise to stay at home, otherwise she ran the risk of turning wine sour and sugar black, and making pickled meat go rancid."

Dave   Link to this

Thanks Cactus Wren. My wife said I should go on a diet, I dont think I'll be eating tonight.

Cactus Wren   Link to this

Sorry, Dave. That's exactly how I feel reading the graphic details of Sam's various colonic distresses.

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