Wednesday 18 May 1664

Up and within all the morning, being willing to keep as much as I could within doors, but receiving a very wakening letter from Mr. Coventry about fitting of ships, which speaks something like to be done, I went forth to the office, there to take order in things, and after dinner to White Hall to a Committee of Tangier, but did little. So home again and to Sir W. Pen, who, among other things of haste in this new order for ships, is ordered to be gone presently to Portsmouth to look after the work there. I staid to discourse with him, and so home to supper, where upon a fine couple of pigeons, a good supper; and here I met a pretty cabinet sent me by Mr. Shales, which I give my wife, the first of that sort of goods I ever had yet, and very conveniently it comes for her closett. I staid up late finding out the private boxes, but could not do some of them, and so to bed, afraid that I have been too bold to-day in venturing in the cold. This day I begun to drink butter- milke and whey, and I hope to find great good by it.

29 Annotations

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...but receiving a very wakening letter from Mr. Coventry about fitting of ships, which speaks something like to be done..."

"My dear Pepys. Not an order per se...And not wishing you to endanger your health in the slightest. But to avoid certain discomforts that failing in this matter might lead to..."

Vivid image of Sam being drawn and quartered before an attentive audience in the Tower courtyard...

" is my hope you will be able to see to these matters at your earliest...Earliest...convenience."

Michael Robinson  •  Link

finding out the private boxes, but could not do some of them

Is SP searching the cabinet from Mr. Shales for hidden compartments and finds he can not open some; or could this be an allusion to working on boxes of private correspondence, or other privy papers, from the office?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

" Sir W. Pen, who, among other things of haste in this new order for ships, is ordered to be gone presently to Portsmouth to look after the work there."

Hmmn...No comment from our hero on this obvious indication that Coventry finds Admiral Sir Will P. a useful man to be entrusted with important tasks at this critical stage.


"...where upon a fine couple of pigeons, a good supper..."

And so cheap...Bess nailed em with a fry pan on the doorstep after tossing a few crumbs.


Terry F  •  Link

"a very wakening letter" -- lovely description of Pepys's rousing -- "from Mr. Coventry
about fitting of ships, which speaks something like to be done," -- welcome unwelcome pre-war work-to-be-done words --
"I went forth to the office, there to take order in things" -- and so sallies forth the Naval Office's Action Officer.

Nix  •  Link

"finding out the private boxes, but could not do some of them" --

I read it to refer to secret compartments in the new cabinet.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"This day I begun to drink butter-milke and whey, and I hope to find great good by it"

Oh Sam, if only they knew then what they know now about dairy (rich in calcium) and kidney/bladder stones...

Terry F  •  Link

Perk for the Clerk*

Capt. John Shales, who sent the "pretty cabinet," is Portsmouth victualling agent. I wonder how much it might have cost?

* This, of course, would not have rhymed in the day.

cape henry  •  Link

Nix is likely correct about the cabinet. My grandmother had a large piece of furniture she called a 'wardrobe' which had several hidden compartments. None of them were proof against a 7 year old, however.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Private boxes in the cabinet
Interesting that these elaborate devices came without a user's manual or tech support from the manufacturer. The user was on his/her own to figure them out. Sam should have found himself a 7-year-old.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Kidney/bladder stones
In our time, stones are most commonly crystallized calcium compounds, but they can also form from other sources, including uric acid (as happened in my case). Since uric acid crystals can also cause gout, which was prevalent in Sam's day (probably because of the excessive consumption of red meat by the upper classes, who were the most subject to gout), it's entirely possible that Sam's stones were not calcium based. See

Interestingly, the Wikipedia article says that a calcium-deficient diet can also cause stones, and explains why.

cumsalisgrano  •  Link

Carolos REX Secundus goes home to the Palace with a smile on his Visage, as he has signed off on the following: Bills
Bills passed.
"An Act to prevent the Disturbances of Seamen and others; and to preserve the Stores belonging to His Majesty's Navy Royal."

"An Act for collecting the Duty arising by Hearthmoney by Officers to be appointed by His Majesty."

"An Act to prevent the Delivering up of Merchants Ships."

"An Act for Continuance of a former Act for regulating the Press."

"An Act against deceitful, disorderly, and excessive Gaming."

"An Act to prevent and suppress seditious Conventicles."

To these Public Bills the Clerk of the Parliaments pronounced the Royal Assent in these Words,
"Le Roy le veult."

"An Act for vacating certain Conveyances, made by Sir John Pakington Baronet, to Christopher Henne and others."

"An Act for the Sale of the Manor of Ingoldsby, and divers Lands in Ingoldsby, in the County of Lyncolne, for raising Portions for the Two Daughters and Coheirs of Sir William Armin the Younger, Baronet, deceased."

"An Act for the Sale of certain Lands, for Payment of the Debts of Sir Sackvile Glemham."

"An Act to enable Trustees for Sir William Keyte to sell Lands, for the Payment of Debts."

"An Act for Confirmation of the Enclosure and Improvement of Malverne Chace."

"An Act for settling the Charitable Gift of Abraham Colfe Clerk, for erecting and endowing Two Freeschools, and an Alms-house, at Lewisham, in Kent."

"An Act for naturalizing of Dame Katherine Sayer and others."

"An Act to enable Francis Cottington, or Charles Cottington, to settle and dispose of Lands in Jointure, for any Wife or Wives they shall take in Marriage."

"An Act to enable Charles Cotton Esquire to make Leases of Lands, for Payment of Debts."

"An Act for the making of the Church erected at Falmouth a Parish Church, and no Part of the Parish of Gluvias, or Chapelry of St. Budock."

To which Private Bills the Royal Assent was pronounced severally in these Words.

"Soit fait come il est desiré."

cumsalisgrano  •  Link

Very necessary little secret compartments to keep prying eyes and sticky fingers from thy precious possessions. The Value of said Cabinet be out of the range of the lesser folk, naturally no sweetner for some nice navy contract .

andy  •  Link

I bet he was just wondering if anyone had accidentally left some gold in a secret compartment...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Wonder if Sam hoped to find a few "gift" pounds Shales might have left for him as in the "glove" incident.

Poor Bess wondering when she gets to use "her" new cabinet.

"Bills passed.
'An Act to prevent the Disturbances of Seamen and others; and to preserve the Stores belonging to His Majesty's Navy Royal.'"

Sounds a little ominous before the war has even started. Starving, unpaid seamen looting the naval stores at their bases?


Pedro  •  Link

"An Act against deceitful, disorderly, and excessive Gaming."

Not applicable to Castlemaine of course.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I see Andy beat me to the thought. But two great minds...Aw, heck anyone who knows Sam...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

And what if he does find gold? A scene worthy of "Greed" or "Treasure of the Sierra Madre"?

Sam lolling and sporting in his piles of gold on the marital bed only to suddenly realize he can't break the knot tying him to a strangled Bess ("Look what Capt Shales left us, Sam'l!" "No!! It's mine! All mine!!") as Hewer leads officers into the house to determine the cause of Bess' screams.

Pedro  •  Link

Two-way traffic.

From JWB's background we see that a new wharf had been built in 1663 at Portsmouth for the exclusive use of the Navy and the dockyard. Strange that a cabinet comes one way and Penn goes the other. No doubt Sir William will return with a bigger cabinet with more private boxes.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Secret compartments ...

My wife and I had lived in our house for several years when one day a woman who had grown up in it came knocking at the door on a nostalgic visit. We invited her in. "Have you found the secret compartment yet?" she asked. No, we hadn't. She showed it to us, in the base of one of the built-in bookcases. Alas, there were no IBM stock certificates from the 1950s hidden and left behind by forgetful owners. It was quite empty. Our house had been built in the early 1930s, and secret compartments were still in vogue.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"An Act against deceitful, disorderly, and excessive Gaming."


"Clarendon? Must you interrupt us now?"

"Sire, about the new Gaming Act?"

"Your winnings, Majesty?"

"Ah, yes, thanks... Well, Clarendon? Oh, now...You did read the Act? It distinctly says 'deceitful, disorderly, and excessive'. Now one might say since I always win, our gaming is a...tad deceitful. As to 'disorderly'..."

"Sir Charles' fight with that woman's husband last night woke the Queen, Sire..."

"Nothing to do with gaming on that matter. But I concede the point. Say, steward...How much did I win?"

"2000Ls, Majesty."

"I would hardly call that excessive, Clarendon."

Bradford  •  Link

Martin's little casket/cabinet most intriguing (purchased by Queen Victoria, and connected with the Little Gidding community, and thence with T. S. Eliot); but since everyone expected such hiding places, maybe they should be called "open secret compartments"?

Terry F  •  Link

Martin's find, "The Little Gidding Cabinet," is also a commentary on what has become of the Stuarts. The cabinet was Charles I's, tradition has it, the page says, "left...for safekeeping" with the religious community in Huntingdonshire "which devoted itself to prayer, fasting and almsgiving" -- not the preoccupations of or prized by his son, as RG so nicely dramatizes. (We have a winnah!)

tel  •  Link

"Perk for the Clerk"
Terry, it still doesn't rhyme here in the old country.

cumsalisgrano  •  Link

Martin, thank you, the blow up be wonderful, the detail be so enjoyable, having been exposed to the art of making of cabinets, one had to be truly skilled [I failed that too, along with grammer[sic]], to make book ends with dovetails took so long, walnut be so rich and oak , ah! oak , oh! well, I remember a one chisel costing two weeks salary [boxwood and stainless] tools cost so much thereby making thy work have meaning, rather than to-days adequacy be enough syndrome. At least every one can have a box for thy odds and ends.

Pedro  •  Link

And on the 18th May 2007 news breaks... The "Holy Grail" of wrecks.

An American salvage company claims to have discovered the most valuable treasure wreck ever.

The haul of 500,000 gold and silver coins worth £250m is reported to have been discovered at the bottom of the ocean.
That's the Atlantic Ocean - but where exactly is being kept a closely guarded secret by the American salvage company.
However, Richard Larn, author of the Shipwreck Index, told Sky News the wreck was located around 40 miles off the coast of Land's End.
Containing 300,000 pieces of silver, 300,000 pieces of gold, 100,000 jewels and 36 bronze cannons, Mr Larn described the 17th wreck as the "Holy Grail" of wrecks...
But records show that in 1641 an English ship called the Merchant Royal sank off the Scilly Islands, laden with bullion from Mexico.

Pedro  •  Link

Buttermilk and private places...

She very providently kept cows in St. James's Park, erected a dairy in Whitehall, with dairy-maids, and fell to the old trade of churning butter and making buttermilk...

When the Protectress took possession of the palace of Whitehall, our culinary author tells us that 'She employed a surveyor to make her some little labyrinths and trap-stairs, by which she might, at all times, unseen, pass to and fro, and come unawares upon her servants, and keep them vigilant in their places and honest in the discharge thereof...

Michael Robinson  •  Link

"a pretty cabinet sent me by Mr. Shales, ..."

"have bribes of a piece of sattin and cabinetts ...."
was but one accusation in the 'Quo usque tandem abutere, Battena, patientia nostra? ...'

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