Thursday 2 February 1664/65

Then up and to my office, where till noon and then to the ‘Change, and at the Coffee-house with Gifford, Hubland, the Master of the ship, and I read over and approved a charter-party for carrying goods for Tangier, wherein I hope to get some money. Thence home, my head akeing for want of rest and too much business. So to the office. At night comes, Povy, and he and I to Mrs. Bland’s to discourse about my serving her to helpe her to a good passage for Tangier. Here I heard her kinswoman sing 3 or 4 very fine songs and in good manner, and then home and to supper. My cook mayd Jane and her mistresse parted, and she went away this day. I vexed to myself, but was resolved to have no more trouble, and so after supper to my office and then to bed.

20 Annotations

dirk   Link to this

2 Februray is Candlemass.

The "Book of Days" has this to say about Candlemass:

"From a very early, indeed unknown date in the Christian history, the 2nd of February has been held as the festival of the Purification of the Virgin, and it is still a holiday of the Church of England. [...] The popular name Candlemass is derived from the ceremony which the Church of Rome dictates to be observed on this day; namely, a blessing of candles by the clergy, and a distribution of them amongst the people, by whom they are afterwards carried lighted in solemn procession. The more important observances were of course given up in England at the Reformation; but it was still, about the close of the eighteenth century, customary in some places to light up churches with candles on this day. [...] Considering the importance attached to Candlemass day for so many ages, it is scarcely surprising that there is a universal superstition throughout Christendom, that good weather on this day indicates a long continuance of winter and a bad crop, and that its being foul is, on the contrary, a good omen. Sir Thomas Browne, in his "Vulgar Errors", quotes a Latin distich expressive of this idea: 'Si sol splendescat Maria purificante, Major erit glacies post festum quam fuit ante;' [...]"
http://www.library.wisc.edu/etext/BookofDays/02...

Looking at historical time series, the winter Dec.1664-Feb.1664/5 was with its seasonal average of 2.0 °C (35.6 °F) notably cooler than the previous (4.7 °C - 40.5 °F) and the next winter (3.7 °C - 38.7°F). So the Candlemass superstition would lead us to expect a good and fertile summer... The month of January 1664/5 ranks #47 (from cold to warmer) over a total of 350 January observations from 1659 to 2008 - therefore definitely a cold(er) winter!
Source: Hadley Centre Central England Temperature (HadCET) dataset
http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcet/ssn_HadCET_m...
http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcet/mly_cet_mean...

dirk   Link to this

John Evelyn's diary today:

"I saw a masq perform'd at Court by six gentlemen and six ladys, surprizing his Ma[jes]ty, it being Candlemas-day."

jeannine   Link to this

it being Candlemas-day...

and how it is celebrated today!

http://www6.comcast.net/news/articles/odd/2008/...

Australian Susan   Link to this

In some Anglican churches, it is still the custom to use the Sunday nearest to Candlemass Day to bless the candles which will be used on the altar, by acolytes, for baptisms etc. throughout the year on that day.

This day is another example of the Christian Church taking over and Christianising a Pagan holiday - Imbolc - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imbolc and http://www.religioustolerance.org/wicimbolc.htm

Sam had been brought up in a reformed household and candlemass would have played no part in this nor in the church services he attended. Maybe if he had lived in the country, there would have been remnants of pagan fire festival ceremonies for him to witness and remember, but candlemass does not seem to have been part of his culture.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Have just found another more detailed essay on Imbolc

http://www.wicca.com/celtic/akasha/imbolclore.htm

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Wonder why Mrs. Bland wanted to go to Tangier. From what we've heard about the place, it sounds about as inviting as a present-day trip to Baghdad.

Thanks to Dirk and Australian Susan for the fascinating explanations and links re Candlemas Day. I had no idea Groundhog Day had such venerable antecedents.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

I believe the main attraction is her husband, John Bland, who went to Tangier last October "after failing to obtain the contract for supplying it with victuals. There he became Mayor in 1668 and 1670." He is also a parishioner at St. Olave's and his best friend is Thomas Povey. http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/5181/

alanB   Link to this

By Candlemas Eve (February 1), very late by modern standards, all Christmas greenery had to be down in houses, or there would be a death in the family before the following Christmas. This belief was particularly strong in the Clee Hills. Sometimes when holly and ivy came down they were replaced by Candlemas Bells - snowdrops.

Wright and Lones noted that 'A Shropshire custom was the 'purification' of the house, on or about Candlemas day, by placing within it a bunch of snowdrops of Christ's flowers; this was called ' the white purification'. According to a traditional couplet,

The snowdrops in purest white array
First rears her head on Candlemas Day,

yet increasingly mild winters have produced ' the fair maids of February' in January. Broad beans were traditionally planted on Candlemas Day, and cattle on farms given ivy to eat'.

from The Folklore of Shropshire by Roy Palmer.Logaston Press 2004

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Wasn't Sam very impressed a while back with Mrs. Bland's skills as a merchant? Sounds like an interesting couple, too bad they didn't keep a journal.

Carl in Boston   Link to this

The snowdrops in purest white array
First rears her head on Candlemas Day,
Yes, yes......yes. There will always be an England to look up to.
Happy Candlemass to all, and for us Americans,
GO PATRIOTS in today's Superbowl.
Quick: touch topic. Sam , Sam, ,, I can't get back to the topic.
Mercyyyyyy !

JWB   Link to this

Hark to the voice of God's greatest rodent http://www.hoghaven.com/sounds/ghs1c.wav

For more wav files & hagiology goto http://www.hoghaven.com/

CGS   Link to this

The state of the Peeps family and Samuells position within. The proverbial couch.
"...My cook mayd Jane and her mistresse parted, and she went away this day...."
Her mistresse NOT 'me' wife.

Poor Samuell, so alone in his little closet and his blind sweet dreams in the fields of encounter.

Pedro   Link to this

“Wasn’t Sam very impressed a while back with Mrs. Bland’s skills as a merchant?”

“fain to admire the knowledge and experience of Mrs. Bland, who I think as good a merchant as her husband.”

http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1664/09/08/#ann...

Pedro   Link to this

“He (Bland) is also a parishioner at St. Olave’s and his best friend is Thomas Povey.”

Yes, from the background, and after the finish of the Diary, Bland refers to Povey in his will (1680) as his ‘choycest friend’ . Yet Povey took legal action against the widow and executors in 1691.

Being such a stupid fellow, who helped him bring a case against Mrs Bland?

Margaret   Link to this

Paul mentions that Candlemas Day has morphed into Groundhog Day--but readers outside North America may have no idea what that is. It's almost exactly the same belief that Dirk mentions: that sunny weather on Feb. 2 means a long cold winter still to come, while cloudy weather means we can look forward to an early spring.

The modern-day spin on this is that the groundhog (a rodent, also known as a woodchuck or marmot, that hibernates underground) comes out on Feb. 2, and if it sees its shadow (ie it's a sunny day) it goes back to its burrow for six more weeks of sleep.

It's likely this custom came from German immigrants, who told the same tale about the hedgehog. With no hedghogs in North America, another animal was substituted.

Pedro   Link to this

“Wonder why Mrs. Bland wanted to go to Tangier.”

Paul it highlights the difference between the life of the merchants and that of the ordinary soldier. The land around Tangier was extremely fertile, and water supplies were good from wells within the town. Chomley remarked that the climate was “very temperate and less obnoxious than Spain or Portugal.” For someone like the Blands, who were already established in Mediterranean trade, Tangier provided an ideal base.

Chomley had also said, concerning the difficulty in recruiting for Tangier, that Tangier was considered “no better than an ill prison.” The merchants could be isolated from the sickness affecting the troops, and would not suffer malnutrition due to the diet of salt meat and ships biscuits, or become in debt due to arrears in pay of up to a year. The hospital was regarded as the worst place to send the sick, as more came out in coffins as were cured. The expense of care was deducted from the sick man’s pay.

The officers were able to lead a reasonably full and active social life, similar to that they would have enjoyed in England. Whitehall Fort was the main social centre “a place where the ladies, the officers, and the better source of people do refresh and divert themselves with wine, fruits and a very pretty bowling base.”

(Info from The Army of Charles II by Childs)

Cactus Wren   Link to this

I didn't know the woodchuck was the same animal as the groundhog. (How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?)

Has Sam previously mentioned hearing women sing in company? All his own gatherings for song seem to be entirely of male voices.

Nix   Link to this

"I read over and approved a charter-party" --

Charter-Party. A contract by which a ship, or some principal part thereof, is let to a merchant for the conveyance of goods on a determined voyage to one or more places.

Black's Law Dictionary 298 (rev. 4th ed. 1968)

cgs   Link to this

The evolution of woman's place in society was evolving,and still is. There had been a few that had led the the way, but they could only do so thru having strong personality and being able to use the law to their own advantage, Q Elizabeth I for example others let the male take control [Q Mary, Q Anne], but to have courage to rely on their own values, was rare.
The name of the game is to remove all challenges to the male ego any way which way.
As for Music the female voice be pitch too high for the likes of the Tenor, man can get high having his influence being relegated.
One the weaknesses of the human kind, be that no one be as good as I and my kind.
This makes a strong contrast of the earlier periods and this 21 C.

Mary   Link to this

the singing kinswoman.

It will not be many years hence (1689) that Purcell's 'Dido and Aeneas" will get it's first performance delivered by the members of a girls' school. Given Sam's complimentary remarks, it's clear that the Blands' kinswoman is herself an accomplished singer. However, as noted above, although this is the first time that he has told of a woman singing in mixed company, it would appear that she sang solo, rather than in consort with any of the men present.

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