Saturday 14 May 1664

Up, full of pain, I believe by cold got yesterday. So to the office, where we sat, and after office home to dinner, being in extraordinary pain. After dinner my pain increasing I was forced to go to bed, and by and by my pain rose to be as great for an hour or two as ever I remember it was in any fit of the stone, both in the lower part of my belly and in my back also. No wind could I break. I took a glyster, but it brought away but a little, and my height of pain followed it. At last after two hours lying thus in most extraordinary anguish, crying and roaring, I know not what, whether it was my great sweating that may do it, but upon getting by chance, among my other tumblings, upon my knees, in bed, my pain began to grow less and less, till in an hour after I was in very little pain, but could break no wind, nor make any water, and so continued, and slept well all night.

21 Annotations

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Poor Sam...Not only agony but the dreadful fear that his desperate gamble on the stone cut may have been for nothing.

Terry F  •  Link

"No wind could I break."

The ability to break wind seems to be an important sign of health to Pepys, so oft does he note its lack as a symptom of illness. Did he fart regularly? Did everyone? How might that have colored the social intercourse? When you went to the doctor with a tad colic, would he have asked for a sample?

The domestic sounds of the 17th century come again into play: here some preserved sounds of withdrawing-room decay:
Mark Twin's "1601" comes to mind again (mine, & it must be limited):

Terry F  •  Link

Cp. today's "Sicke"* day with last 7 October 1663 and notes

"They wrought in the morning, and I did keep my bed, and my pain continued on me mightily that I kept within all day in great pain, and could break no wind nor have any stool after my physic had done working. So in the evening I took coach and to Mr. Holliard's, but he was not at home, and so home again, and whether the coach did me good or no I know not ... So to bed and lay in good ease all night, and ... pretty well to the morning."

*L&M have this in the margin, as Pepys writ. He keeps track, rubricating thus (it's a red-level day).

Jesse  •  Link

"my great sweating"

I'd have originally thought the sweating would've been due to an infection (causing his pain). However, I've learned, alas, that pain alone can do it. More than once, I've woken up in the middle of the night w/a very, very painful muscle cramp in the inner thigh that's very difficult to stretch out. Needless to say after a few minutes, that seem like "hours [of] anguish [and] ... tumblings" I'm completely soaked.

Andy Keeler  •  Link

Interestingly (or not) Sam seems to have stumbled by accident on what the medical profession these days often advise IBS or colic suffers to do , for relieving painful bloating from trapped wind ...Get on the knees, with the torso bent forwards, and rock gently. Sometimes referred to as the "praying postion". Apparently it is supposed to be very effecatious!

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Maybe R. Gertz is right

cape henry  •  Link

"How might that have colored the social intercourse?" [TF] I don't think any of us can appreciate the palette of odors that colored the pre-plumbing, pre-bathing era in Europe.

Patricia  •  Link

The hand & knees posture is one of the positions of labour, as well.

Xjy  •  Link

Just talked to a friend who had a gallstone attack last week. Unbearable pain followed (on passing of stone) by immediate euphoric relief. For me the comparison with labour and childbirth was immediate and obvious. (Mutatis mutandis :-) )

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Spoilers...Fly, my lords, fly there is no tarrying here...

We do know Sam's autopsy revealed more stones.

I wonder (spoiler ahoy)...

Tomalin suggests Sam's move toward vastly increased extramarital activity a little later seemed linked to the great reproof letter to Sandwich, as if all Sam's morality drained out of him with that effort. One might guess, however, that this new reminder of his mortality might have been the trigger. Somewhere, subconsciously urging him to take his pleasures whilst health and life allowed...

JWB  •  Link

What's that I smell?

Reading Larkin's "Where We Lived" came across account of E. Parry, "mast agent" for the Royal Navy surveying New England white pines at the out break of the Revolution. He was taken prisoner and sent inland to Sturbridge, Mass. to be kept in the house of a Capt. Parker. Parry, in his diary, complains of the smells in the American household, thus we can assume that they had been suppressed in the English middle class by this time. These odors include:unwashed bodies, animal manure on boots, wood smoke, tobacco, souring milk,ripening cheese, dried apples and and Indigo dye pot filled with "chamber lye"-the alkaline concentrate of chamber pots used as solvent.

Bradford  •  Link

It rather sounds like a) an intestinal blockage (which sent a friend of mine to hospital even nowadays; all the more likely in Sam's time, before the Invention of Fibre)---or b) a kidney stone (as opposed to the bladder [underlined] stone which he was cut for). (It might have had its inception in the kidney, but the bladder is where it stuck.) And as we all have testified many times, no matter where it's located, once one has (so to speak) sweated it out, relief is so immediate as to appear magical, or miraculous.

David Vaeth  •  Link

In regard to all the comments that some found Sam's reaction to Uncle Wight's "offer" to be rather muted -- isn't it really strange that there's been no subsequent mention of it?

cumsalisgrano  •  Link

Samuells Pain supercedes all other problems "it really strange that there's been no subsequent mention of it?"

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: the extraordinary pain

FWIW, I second Bradford's guess of a kidney stone. I've never had one (praise Goddess), but know enough people who have had them to recognize the symptoms. And, as Robert points out, Sam's autopsy revealed that he was riddled with the things, both in his kidneys and bladders, when he died.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"my pain began to grow less and less"
Typical renal colic: excruciating pain followed by almost sudden relief.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...after office home to dinner, being in extraordinary pain..."

a missing fragment...

"...following the severe beating Uncle's thugs gave me. They having expressed to me my Uncle's resentment of my wife's lack of amenability..."

"...following the angry kick my wife gave me, her resentment of my lack of action toward my uncle's behavior having grown apace..."

Well, at least an excuse to give Bess for not confronting Uncle.

Interesting he sees no possible indication of God's wrath over his poor defense of Bess' honor.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sam puts things right...

"Uncle." At sight of a surprisingly jovial Sam...The visiting Wight (for business after all is business and Iuduco is getting anxious again) finds himself instinctively on guard. The more so on receiving Bess' beaming, cheery greeting.

"Nephew. Dearest niece. Nephew, I find I must speak with you once more about..."

Airy wave of hand from Sam... "Uncle, the matter will be settled to your and Mr. Maes' satisfaction, I assure you. But I have great news to import to you. You, Uncle, have been awarded a most signal honor...An honor in which I must admit I had...Ummn...Some hand..."


"We're so pleased for you, Uncle." Bess, beaming ever more...


"Yes. You see, Uncle, I took the liberty of speaking to our Mr. Coventry and His Grace the Duke about your vast experience in nautical matters..."

"What? Nephew, I've never been..."

"...And what with the urgent need for experienced commanders at sea. I have the proud duty of informing you, William Wight, that to the honor of our joint family, have been appointed a commander in the King's Navy. In our lead fleet, to see battle as soon as possible..."


"...Battle, uncle." Bess nods happily...

"You report to Portsmouth...At once...These gentlemen will escort you. You know Mr. Creed and Mr. Howe?" Sam waves in Creed and Howe. Both nodding gravely to Wight.

"Good hunting, uncle..." Bess waves as a dumbfounded Wight is half-dragged, half-led to the waiting coach.

Joyce Barry  •  Link

Can anyone please suggest a good book/article reference for the general (not Court) morality of the Pepys era?

Log in to post an annotation.

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