Thursday 15 December 1664

Called up very betimes by Mr. Cholmly, and with him a good while about some of his Tangier accounts; and, discoursing of the condition of Tangier, he did give me the whole account of the differences between Fitzgerald and Norwood, which were very high on both sides, but most imperious and base on Fitzgerald’s, and yet through my Lord FitzHarding’s means, the Duke of York is led rather to blame Norwood and to speake that he should be called home, than be sensible of the other. He is a creature of FitzHarding’s, as a fellow that may be done with what he will, and, himself certainly pretending to be Generall of the King’s armies, when Monk dyeth, desires to have as few great or wise men in employment as he can now, but such as he can put in and keep under, which he do this coxcomb Fitzgerald. It seems, of all mankind there is no man so led by another as the Duke is by Lord Muskerry and this FitzHarding. insomuch, as when the King would have him to be Privy-Purse, the Duke wept, and said, “But, Sir, I must have your promise, if you will have my dear Charles from me, that if ever you have occasion for an army again, I may have him with me; believing him to be the best commander of an army in the world.” But Mr. Cholmly thinks, as all other men I meet with do, that he is a very ordinary fellow. It is strange how the Duke also do love naturally, and affect the Irish above the English. He, of the company he carried with him to sea, took above two-thirds Irish and French. He tells me the King do hate my Lord Chancellor; and that they, that is the King and my Lord FitzHarding, do laugh at him for a dull fellow; and in all this business of the Dutch war do nothing by his advice, hardly consulting him. Only he is a good minister in other respects, and the King cannot be without him; but, above all, being the Duke’s father-in-law, he is kept in; otherwise FitzHarding were able to fling down two of him. This, all the wise and grave lords see, and cannot help it; but yield to it. But he bemoans what the end of it may be, the King being ruled by these men, as he hath been all along since his coming; to the razing all the strong-holds in Scotland, and giving liberty to the Irish in Ireland, whom Cromwell had settled all in one corner; who are now able, and it is feared everyday a massacre again among them. He being gone I abroad to the carrier’s, to see some things sent away to my father against Christmas, and thence to Moorfields, and there up and down to several houses to drink to look for a place ‘pour rencontrer la femme de je sais quoi’ against next Monday, but could meet none. So to the Coffeehouse, where great talke of the Comet seen in several places; and among our men at sea, and by my Lord Sandwich, to whom I intend to write about it to-night. Thence home to dinner, and then to the office, where all the afternoon, and in the evening home to supper, and then to the office late, and so to bed. This night I begun to burn wax candles in my closett at the office, to try the charge, and to see whether the smoke offends like that of tallow candles.

29 Annotations

adamw  •  Link

Does this comet have a name? Maybe not, from this discussion
"the comet of 1664 has an inclination of ~ 159 degrees, so was probably an Oort cloud comet in a very long period orbit"

So we haven't seen it since

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to try the charge"

This seems to mean the discharge from the candle.

cgs  •  Link

"....great talke of the Comet seen in several places;..."

Time of reckoning is about.
Sins of man to be corrected.

cgs  •  Link

Comet of '64, it got many people interested in celestial happenings
In 1705, Edmond Halley applied Newton's method to twenty-four cometary apparitions that had occurred between 1337 and 1698. He noted that three of these, the comets of 1531, 1607, and 1682, had very similar orbital elements, and he was further able to account for the slight differences in their orbits in terms of gravitational perturbation by Jupiter and Saturn. Confident that these three apparitions had been three appearances of the same comet, he predicted that it would appear again in 1758–9.[31] (Earlier, Robert Hooke had identified the comet of 1664 with that of 1618,[32] while Jean-Dominique Cassini had suspected the identity of the comets of 1577, 1665, and 1680.[33] Both were incorrect.) Halley's predicted return date was later refined by a team of three French mathematicians: Alexis Clairaut, Joseph Lalande, and Nicole-Reine Lepaute, who predicted the date of the comet's 1759 perihelion to within one month's accuracy.[34] When the comet returned as predicted, it became known as Comet Halley or Halley's Comet (its official designation is 1P/Halley). Its next appearance will be in 2061.

cgs  •  Link

I Newton involvement
He also noted the appearance of a comet in early December 1664, going on to describe his own observations ‘On fryday before midnight Decembr. 23d 1664’.

The pages that are displayed show Newton’s continued observations of the comet on 24, 27, 28, 29, and 30 December 1664 and between 1 and 23 January 1665. They include a diagram to illustrate the relative position of the comet with reference to the location of the stars, for which Newton based himself on Vincent Wing’s publication (1651) of the catalogue of Tycho Brahe.

cgs  •  Link

The Comet has influenced poor Samuell, as the end be nigh so he be looking for some relief :
He heard the Rev Thom. Vincent and his words on the street.

" look for a place ‘pour rencontrer la femme de je sais quoi’ against next Monday, but could meet none...."

jeannine  •  Link

Sam to Lord Sandwich (from “Further Correspondence of Samuel Pepys” edited by Tanner)

I shall carefully observe your Lordship’s directions touching Tangier, and am happy in so early discovery of my (well intended) mistake, being led to the forwardness your Lordship takes notice of out of respect (it is true) to my duty (in which, nevertheless, I have no ambition of being reckoned an overdo), but with an especial regard to your Lordship’s interest in the honour and improvement of that place, to both which the advancement of the Mole is alone and essential. But I now know your Lordship’s pleasure, and shall act accordingly.

I have newly seen some letters from Holland of a tenor so little akin to the despair we vulgarly expect our high dealings should cast them into, that they upbraid us with foul play in the falling upon their Bourdeaux men without warning, and threaten a revenge, whereof they the less doubt (they say) because in a quarrel wherein we decline the decision of a neutral umpire, The King of France.

The want your Lordship observes of able seamen, wherein we ought principally to excel, and on which we so greatly value ourselves above our neighbours, doth (methinks) too much discover by what ill measures we are contented to calculate our strength, when before one stroke is strook and not half the fleet equipped (which a Dutch war will ask), we are forced to rob the plough, etc., for a third of those men we have already in pay….The Parliament continues still puzzled in the method of raising this money, every man thinking himself obliged to contend at least for the case of his own country; in the mean time the year and our stores as well as credit wasting apace. . . .

. . . Here is great discourse of a comet, and particular observations of its motion and appearances said to have been made on board your Lordship’s ship. God avert its ill bodings (if it have any), and preserve your Lordship!...

cgs  •  Link

thanks Janine for the correspondence

ah! for the ill boding's?

cgs  •  Link

Errata mea culpa s/b Jeannine please forgive

Pedro  •  Link

I Newton involvement.

Adding a little more from the sight quoted by cgs...

Newton’s descriptions of the comet were not always clear, and his initial attempt to track its movements by comparison with those of the moon displayed his ignorance of the limits of contemporary astronomical knowledge. But the excitement of seeing for the first time ‘a Comet whose rays were round her, yet her tayle extended it selfe a little towards [the] east’ was clear. Newton had seen with his own eyes that the Aristotelian distinction between comets with rays and comets with tails could not be sustained. Through his reading of Descartes, Newton was also aware of contemporary ideas that the appearance of the comet’s tail might simply be an optical phenomenon. He had realised the potential of comets as exemplars of celestial motion. Yet, although his observations proved to be reliable, there is little evidence that Newton’s early interest in comets was sustained.

Pedro  •  Link

Sam to Lord Sandwich.

Thanks Jeannine, the tone in this letter seems different from the remark in the Diary…

“So I wrote to my Lord my mistake, and am contented to promise never to pursue it more, which goes against my mind with all my heart.”

Martin  •  Link

Sam loves getting the inside scoop on these court intrigues.

Previously, on 17 October 1662, he had ferreted out this on Fitzharding (Berkeley): "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."

And, is it possible he is burning those candles at both ends?

jeannine  •  Link

"Time of reckoning is about.
Sins of man to be corrected."

CGS, In the movie about Charles II, (US called it "The Last King", UK called it, "Charles II: Power and Passion") there is actually a scene as Charles II (while lecherously eyeing Frances Stewart) is looking through a telescope at the comet. He invited Catherine to look and she does so and then blesses herself and says a little prayer. As I recall there are also foreboding fears that the comet was sign of the end of the world which was being brought on by CII's degenerate lifestyle. I would imagine, in real life that this thinking could easily have been circulating through the rumor mill of the time.

jeannine  •  Link

"there up and down to several houses to drink to look for a place ‘pour rencontrer la femme de je sais quoi’ against next Monday, but could meet none."

Speaking of the 'sins of man"

A smug Sam has been spotted IN HIS BLACK SUIT seeking places for his Monday rendezvous! Ladies, if you see this man, RUN. Men, hold on to your beloved ladies as no woman is safe when Sam is on the prowl (unless, of course, she has horrible greasy hands while serving food, which appears to be the only 'turn off' for our boy)!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Pepys, I'm sorry to say that there's been...Talk..."

"Talk, Mr. Coventry?"

"Yes. It seems a Mrs. Bagwell has been inquiring about the office..."

Smothered chortle from Sir John Minnes, listening from his desk...

"...after a promotion you'd promised her husband..."

"Yes, a competent fellow, young Bagwell..."

" return it seems for certain favors from her..."

"...though it is a tragedy about his insane wife...I gave orders to have her sent away should she come by in her deluded wanderings."

"And a Mrs. Martin was likewise asking about a promotion for her husband..."

"An old friend, sir. Supplies our linen, yes. I did say I would review his situation but made no promises. I assure you, Mr. Coventry...Given my great respect for you and the solemn duty I hold towards this office."

"Please don't grovel, Samuel...I'm not Lord Sandwich. The lady likewise referred to
'favors' tendered. And hinted she feared her child might..."

"Dear God, no...Sir, I assure you."

Really didn't think the little bastard had it in him, Batten hisses to Minnes.

"...And Mr. Gervais came by about his assistant Jane." Cool stare...

Ah, heh...Uh...

She gave him what for...Hayter notes to Hewer.

"Poor girl's been quite upset. Seems she has tried to politely make it clear she's not interested. Pepys..."

"Blackmail, sir...Sheer attempt at pressing me into buying silence for her wicked lies. Scandalous."

"Scandalous indeed, Pepys."

Oh, learned youth. A second Daniel...Minnes hisses to Batten, grinning...

"...but fortunate for the King and his government..."


"His enemies have been having a field day about his lifestyle...Castlemaine, Stewart, etc, etc, etc. And the circle round him...Sir Charles, Arlington, you know. But now..."


Can you spell expendable? Batten to Minnes...

"...we have your little escapades to put a light onto. By the way, Thomas Povey was with me the other day about some questions he had about your Tangier accounts?"


"And don't forget my note about Warren and his masts..." Batten calls.

"Yes. You having no title or connection besides Lord Sandwich's favor, it's actually perfect, Samuel. The public and Parliament like a nice case all tied together. Corruption, bribery...Adultery, fornication... Pepys, you are the best thing to happen to the Stuarts since the Restoration."

"Yes, sir...Thank you, sir."

"Take him away..."

"...For misery my friend
Cherchez la femme..." Batten and Minnes...

andy  •  Link

to look for a place ‘pour rencontrer la femme de je sais quoi’ against next Monday

Bet it's Jane the barber's assistant this time -(Diary 9th december) - there he lapsed into French about her.

Incidentally when he spoke about

"Bagwell’s wife coming to speak with me put new thoughts of folly into me which I am troubled at"

(Diary Dec 7th ) was that "folly" an honest thought of actually giving her old man a job? Or a new folly, called Jane? Or will it be Mrs B again?

JWB  •  Link

"...when Monk dyeth..."

Wikipedia bio reports he died of edema. Monk chewed tobacco. There is a known connection. For an interesting dip, chaw or cut-of-twist on the history of Sotweed see:

"The Social History of Smoking", G. L. Apperson

cgs  •  Link

He died of edema.
Dropsy for us clod 'oppers

MedlinePlus: Edema
Edema means swelling caused by fluid in your body's tissues. It usually occurs in the feet, ankles and legs, but it can involve your entire body. ...


NinaZer0  •  Link

I believe the "try the charge" is actually a way of saying "to see if it works or not", and comes from the army where the artillery would "try a charge" by setting off a quantity of their stored gunpowder to ensure that it was dry and good. I'm trying to find a reference, but coming up short, alas.

Mary  •  Link

wax candles.

I find it scarcely credible that Sam would not have experienced the 'clean' and odourless burning of beeswax candles by this stage in his life, even if economy has meant that tallow candles have been in regular use in his household. Can he be referring to candles made of some other kind of wax?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Good company, sort of...If I remember right the much maligned though actually quite effective Roman emperor Honorius died of dropsy in 423. Wasn't there an American President who died of it as well...?

cgs  •  Link

"...his night I begun to burn wax candles in my closett at the office, to try the charge, and to see whether the smoke offends like that of tallow candles..."

A sign of wealth; there was an office in the Kings Palace

1633 Stow's Surv. Lond.

625 The Company of Wax-Chandlers, having beene a Brotherhood of very ancient standing,..became yet to be incorporated in Anno, 1484
A candle made of wax. c725

attrib. 1663 Cup of Coffee in D'Israeli Cur. Lit. (1866) 296/1 Should any of your grandsires' ghosts appear In your wax-candle circles.

Me!  •  Link

Comet in the year of 1664 was also described on The Annals Of Joseon Dynasty, Hamel's book, and etc.

The Annals Of Joseon Dynasty:

Hamel: He was a Dutch sailor who drifted to Korea Peninsula

According to The Annals Of JoSeon Dynasty,

White comet was observed around Oct 9th, 1664 and from then on appeared nearly every day for 80 days.
It made strong sounds and emitted light. Its width was 30 cm and length 6m.

Description of Comet 1664(written in Korean. Just for coordination):

※ I'm Winnie Windland at ^^

pepfie  •  Link

‘pour rencontrer la femme de je sais quoi’

Je ne sais pas quoi faire de cette phrase. Is he preparing to meet a woman he knows, e.g. a fruit-seller or a barber's assistant, or else of whom he knows something?

Mary  •  Link

Not sure what Sam is trying to say here, but it's noteworthy that an area of Moorfields was notorious for the number of brothels situated there.

However, given his usual pattern of behaviour, it would seem uncharacteristic of him to go in search of a specific prostitute, though he's presumably taking a bit of a risk in case he's seen and recognised in this locality at all.

Perhaps he's looking for a secluded place suitable for a tryst in a more 'innocent' area of Moorfields, part of which had been planted as a sort of park in which to take the air.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Comet of 1664 as omen: Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year

In the first place, a blazing star or comet appeared for several months before the plague, as there did the year after another, a little before the fire. The old women and the phlegmatic hypochondriac part of the other sex, whom I could almost call old women too, remarked (especially afterward, though not till both those judgements were over) that those two comets passed directly over the city, and that so very near the houses that it was plain they imported something peculiar to the city alone; that the comet before the pestilence was of a faint, dull, languid colour, and its motion very heavy, Solemn, and slow; but that the comet before the fire was bright and sparkling, or, as others said, flaming, and its motion swift and furious; and that, accordingly, one foretold a heavy judgement, slow but severe, terrible and frightful, as was the plague; but the other foretold a stroke, sudden, swift, and fiery as the conflagration. Nay, so particular some people were, that as they looked upon that comet preceding the fire, they fancied that they not only saw it pass swiftly and fiercely, and could perceive the motion with their eye, but even they heard it; that it made a rushing, mighty noise, fierce and terrible, though at a distance, and but just perceivable.

I saw both these stars, and, I must confess, had so much of the common notion of such things in my head, that I was apt to look upon them as the forerunners and warnings of God's judgements; and especially when, after the plague had followed the first, I yet saw another of the like kind, I could not but say God had not yet sufficiently scourged the city.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"there is little evidence that Newton’s early interest in comets was sustained."

There is no evidence for this claim and much against it; not merely the correspondence of 1685-86, showing how dealing with comets was a stimulus and a necessary condition of a theory of planetary motion
but also the Principia of 1687, whose Preface includes this central passage:

For the whole difficulty of philosophy seems to be to discover the forces of nature from the phenomena of motions and then to demonstrate the other phenomena from these forces. It is to these ends that the general propositions in books 1 and 2 are directed, while in book 3 our explication of the system of the world illustrates these propositions. For in book 3, by means of propositions demonstrated mathematically in books 1 and 2, we derive from celestial phenomena the gravitational forces by which bodies tend toward the sun and toward the individual planets. Then the motions of the planets, the comets, the moon, and the sea are deduced from these forces by propositions that are also mathematical.

See this very accessible exposition of Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, from which the passage above was excerpted:

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the King being ruled by these men, as he hath been all along since his coming; to the razing all the strong-holds in Scotland, and giving liberty to the Irish in Ireland, whom Cromwell had settled all in one corner; who are now able, and it is feared everyday a massacre again among them."

The Scottish forts erected by Cromwell had been slighted in 1661-2 (following a Council order of 13 July 1661) , so that the English garrisons could be withdrawn. Now 'feared' is a repetition of the rising of 1641. The 'corner' was Connaught. (Per L&M footnote)

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