Tuesday 6 September 1664

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon home to dinner, then to my office and there waited, thinking to have had Bagwell’s wife come to me about business, that I might have talked with her, but she came not. So I to White Hall by coach with Mr. Andrews, and there I got his contract for the victualling of Tangier signed and sealed by us there, so that all the business is well over, and I hope to have made a good business of it and to receive 100l. by it the next weeke, for which God be praised! Thence to W. Joyce’s and Anthony’s, to invite them to dinner to meet my aunt James at my house, and the rather because they are all to go down to my father the next weeke, and so I would be a little kind to them before they go. So home, having called upon Doll, our pretty ‘Change woman, for a pair of gloves trimmed with yellow ribbon, to [match the] petticoate my wife bought yesterday, which cost me 20s.; but she is so pretty, that, God forgive me! I could not think it too much — which is a strange slavery that I stand in to beauty, that I value nothing near it. So going home, and my coach stopping in Newgate Market over against a poulterer’s shop, I took occasion to buy a rabbit, but it proved a deadly old one when I came to eat it, as I did do after an hour being at my office, and after supper again there till past 11 at night. So home,, and to bed. This day Mr. Coventry did tell us how the Duke did receive the Dutch Embassador the other day; by telling him that, whereas they think us in jest, he believes that the Prince (Rupert) which goes in this fleete to Guinny will soon tell them that we are in earnest, and that he himself will do the like here, in the head of the fleete here at home, and that for the meschants, which he told the Duke there were in England, which did hope to do themselves good by the King’s being at warr, says he, the English have ever united all this private difference to attend foraigne, and that Cromwell, notwithstanding the meschants in his time, which were the Cavaliers, did never find them interrupt him in his foraigne businesses, and that he did not doubt but to live to see the Dutch as fearfull of provoking the English, under the government of a King, as he remembers them to have been under that of a Coquin. I writ all this story to my Lord Sandwich tonight into the Downes, it being very good and true, word for word from Mr. Coventry to- day.

24 Annotations

Clement  •  Link

"...which is a strange slavery that I stand in to beauty, that I value nothing near it."

Pithy, candid, succinct. Look no further for a major motivation in Sam's actions.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Or countless other men (and women) throughout history...

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

I can figure out what Pepys means by "meschants" by the context, but does anyone have a good translation/explanation for the word?

(And yes, Pride goeth before a fall...)

cape henry  •  Link

...meschants... With meschants alluding to emblems, I take this sentence to mean that the English have always brought politics to a halt at the shore and been united in their pursuit of foreign affairs, and that it was as true under Cromwell, in spite of the Cavaliers and their contrary spirit [emblem], as it was under a king. The last bit of the sentence seems to refer back to Cromwell as a Coquin or mischief maker.

Cum Grano Salis  •  Link

Meschants = merchants I dothe think?

Cum Grano Salis  •  Link

I be bad and wicked should have used my eyes first:
meschant, a. and n. 1. Bad, wicked, base. Obs.
?c1450 tr. Bk. Knight of La Tour Landry 126 It is a myschaunt thinge for any gentill woman

2. Miserable, wretched, unfortunate. Obs.

B. n. A wretch, a villain; an evildoer.
1664 S. PEPYS Diary 6 Sept. (1971) V. 264 Cromwell, notwithstanding the Meschants in his time (which were the Cavaliers)..he did [etc.].

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Not listed in the OED. My Cassell's French Dictionary defines it as 'knave, rascal, rogue, scamp.'

Bradford  •  Link

A: How would the rabbit have been prepared so that it seemed acceptable at the poulterer's only to prove "deadly old" when it comes time to dine?
B: Are you sure you really want the details?

djc  •  Link


cf french méchant - malicious
and mercanti - profiteer

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"At noon home to dinner, then to my office and there waited, thinking to have had Bagwell's wife come to me about business, that I might have talked with her, but she came not."

William still wearing her down, no doubt...

"Yes, he is a pompous, bullying, lecherous, bug-eyed little... But darling, he's our ticket to Easy Street."

"But, William..."

"Is it so hard? Just to visit him at his office to ask him to intercede a little in my behalf? Sweetheart, for our future's sake."

"But, William...Every self-respecting woman in London knows to steer clear of him. Why just the other day Elizabeth Pierce was saying how she fakes pregnancies just to keep him away from her."

"A few minutes' words with him... A little chatting him up and a few smiles at the right moments. What could happen? Besides my rapid advancement, I mean."


"Now, sweetheart. Would I trade my wife for a promotion and a few pieces of silver? Remember to smile into his eyes. And praise that silly pile of contracts books he has, he's sure to work them into any conversation. And coo loudly over that stone of his? The one from his cut a few years back. What?"

"He keeps his stone?"

"Just make cows' eyes at it and tell him how brave he must have been. He'll eat it up. And wear the brown with the leather straps. Innocent but just that touch of..."


Cum Grano Salis  •  Link

"... I took occasion to buy a rabbit, but it proved a deadly old one when I came to eat it, as I did do after an hour being at my office, and after supper again there till past 11 at night..."
Rarebit, neigh, more like it be Hare, as in in Jack rabbit as it should be hung and jugged and given no quarter for a week.

Terry F  •  Link

"the meschants"

L&M cite a diplomatic dispatch from the Hague as implicating certain Puritan fanatics who were said this summer to have promised the Dutch "to raise a fifth column of 20,000 in England should war break out", so, evildoers indeed.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

How would the rabbit have been prepared ...

The weather is warm still; from personal experience, if game has been hung and the cavity has not been cleaned thoroughly and completely almost immediately upon kill the carcass can be internally fetid within 24-48 hours without any instantly obvious external sign. When the temperatures is near, or just below, freezing I hang (cleaned and skinned) venison for 15 days before butchering without a problem.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Deadly old" indeed... Probably a Dutch plot. Wonder how Sam dodged death or a very long night.

"Hmmn... Something about this hare seems... Here, Hewer, try some of this and tell me if it seems right to you."


"Hewer, getting a lot of job offers involving healthy 'side fees' these days? Well then...Bon appetit."

Cactus Wren  •  Link

Maybe by "deadly old" Sam only means it was a bit mature and tough eating?

jeannine  •  Link

Preparation of Rabbit

The proper way to feed a rabbit is to first let the animal have a view of the selection so that he can decide what he wants to eat, as so


After the rabbit has made his/her food selection it's preferable to feed by hand, but if time allows their meal should be prepared in a colorful yet serene manner to not only attract their sense of smell but also to ensure a pleasant, relaxing surrounding


Of course, there are those that prefer a sweet treat after a meal, but those should be limited to special occasions!


And, then, as the rabbit is comfortably resting, you can prepare the following meal for your guests, which they will be delighted to enjoy


Disclaimer-No rabbits were harmed in the presentation of this annotation (nor should they ever be!)

language hat  •  Link


This is interesting; as Paul says, it's not in the OED, though they have a much earlier cokin 'Rogue, rascal' (c1330 Arth. & Merl. 6381 "Quath Arthour, thou hethen Cokin, Wende to the deuel Apolin!") and coquinery 'Roguery, knavery' (c1430 Pilgr. Lyf Manhode III. xxii. 147 "This hand heere is cleped coquinerie") and a Scots koken used only once (1500-20 DUNBAR Poems lxiii. 48 "Thrimlaris and thriftaris as thay war woid; Kokenis, and kennis na man of gude"). I wonder whether they simply didn't notice it here, or whether they take it as one of Pepys' occasional insertions of French words into his text?

JWB  •  Link

I assume the Duke's reception of the Dutch Embassador was all in French, the piquant "meschants" & "coquin" onyons in the lamb sauce reheated.

Bradford  •  Link

It's that arresting adjective "deadly" which throws one off. "First case your hare," and clearly the poulterer (taking a break from fowl?) had to do something (underscore) to make it readily edible at the office. Now (despite Jeannine's efforts to bring out the lettuce-eaters in us all) it can be told, the takeaway convenience food of the late-17th century Londoner: Rabbit on a Stick.

Mary  •  Link


This sounds to me very much like the colloquial ModE "dead" when used as an intensifier: dead pretty, dead clever, dead stupid, dead useless etc.

Cum Grano Salis  •  Link

deadly: OED it be interesting but Samuell uses the word fourteen times?
deadly old one :
is deadly ill :
a fine house, but deadly:
dishes were so deadly foule :
deadly inconvenient for telling,:
deadly cunning fellow:
is a deadly high man in the Parliament business:
I was deadly mad :
other deadly blows :
so deadly full of jealousy :
a deadly folly :

she has a deadly hate,:
deadly number of pardons:
but a deadly drinker he is, and grown exceeding fat.

and thus has two entrees:
8. a. Excessive, 'terrible', 'awful'. colloq.

1660 PEPYS Diary 1 Nov., A deadly drinker he is, and grown exceedingly fat.
1660 Ibid. 7 Dec., So to the Privy Seale where I signed a deadly number of pardons.
so Mary it be colloquial middle English too.

deadly a [OE. déadlíc, f. déad DEAD: see -LY1. Cf. OHG. tôtlich, MD. doodlick.]

Paul Dyson  •  Link


Still used, though perhaps rather dated now:

in deadly earnest
deadly serious
deadly dull

and more literally:
deadly/deathly pale

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Or, as paterfamilias Frank Gilbreth said, quoted in _Cheaper by the Dozen_:
Two maggots were fighting in dead Ernest.

Terry F  •  Link

Phineas Ellwood, and Benjamin Harrison, to Sandwich

Written from: Sandwich
Date: 6 September 1664

Shelfmark: MS. Carte 75, fol(s). 214-215
Document type: Original. Addressed to Lord Sandwich, on board 'the London', in the Downs.

Explain their views as to the estimated cost of the proposed Improvement of Sandwich Harbours, and answer certain objections to former Estimates. Mention the ultimate advantage to the Nation at large of the project, when carried out, especially in the probable event of War with Holland. Enter, at length, into the details of Plans prepared and of the Taxation by which it is proposed to defray the charges. Captain Ellwood adds, by way of P.S., that in the autumn of 1639 the Spaniards remained in the Downs more than five weeks (the English ships being wind-bound).

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