Thursday 7 September 1665

Up by 5 of the clock, mighty full of fear of an ague, but was obliged to go, and so by water, wrapping myself up warm, to the Tower, and there sent for the Weekely Bill, and find 8,252 dead in all, and of them 6,878 of the plague; which is a most dreadfull number, and shows reason to fear that the plague hath got that hold that it will yet continue among us. Thence to Brainford, reading “The Villaine,” a pretty good play, all the way. There a coach of Mr. Povy’s stood ready for me, and he at his house ready to come in, and so we together merrily to Swakely, Sir R. Viner’s. A very pleasant place, bought by him of Sir James Harrington’s lady. He took us up and down with great respect, and showed us all his house and grounds; and it is a place not very moderne in the garden nor house, but the most uniforme in all that ever I saw; and some things to excess. Pretty to see over the screene of the hall (put up by Sir J. Harrington, a Long Parliamentman) the King’s head, and my Lord of Essex on one side, and Fairfax on the other; and upon the other side of the screene, the parson of the parish, and the lord of the manor and his sisters. The window-cases, door-cases, and chimnys of all the house are marble. He showed me a black boy that he had, that died of a consumption, and being dead, he caused him to be dried in an oven, and lies there entire in a box. By and by to dinner, where his lady I find yet handsome, but hath been a very handsome woman; now is old, hath brought him near 100,000l. and now he lives, no man in England in greater plenty, and commands both King and Council with his credit he gives them. Here was a fine lady a merchant’s wife at dinner with us, and who should be here in the quality of a woman but Mrs. Worship’s daughter, Dr. Clerke’s niece, and after dinner Sir Robert led us up to his long gallery, very fine, above stairs (and better, or such, furniture I never did see), and there Mrs. Worship did give us three or four very good songs, and sings very neatly, to my great delight. After all this, and ending the chief business to my content about getting a promise of some money of him, we took leave, being exceedingly well treated here, and a most pleasant journey we had back, Povy and I, and his company most excellent in anything but business, he here giving me an account of as many persons at Court as I had a mind or thought of enquiring after. He tells me by a letter he showed me, that the King is not, nor hath been of late, very well, but quite out of humour; and, as some think, in a consumption, and weary of every thing. He showed me my Lord Arlington’s house that he was born in, in a towne called Harlington: and so carried me through a most pleasant country to Brainford, and there put me into my boat, and good night. So I wrapt myself warm, and by water got to Woolwich about one in the morning, my wife and all in bed.

31 Annotations

Patricia   Link to this

We often comment in these posts that things haven't changed much since Pepys day in many respects, but here is a prime example of something that HAS changed. I have shown people around my house and grounds before, even showed off a few nice collectibles, but I'll wager none of us have ever had a mummified boy on display for the edification of visitors!

Martin   Link to this

Swakeleys House is apparently still private but open to the public once a year; pictured here:
http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/Dell/4...

Michael Robinson   Link to this

Swakeleys -- brief modern history of manor and house

'Ickenham: Manors', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4: Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood with Southall, Hillingdon with Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow with Pinner (1971), pp. 102-104.
URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?co....
Date accessed: 08 September 2008.

JWB   Link to this

Patricia: "I’ll wager none of us ..."
I remember Eugene well, he lay near the church camp my brother & sister attended. RIP.
http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec...

Australian Susan   Link to this

University College, London, used to display the mummified body of Jeremy Bentham.
See http://golondon.about.com/od/londonforfree/p/je...

andy   Link to this

He showed me a black boy that he had, that died of a consumption, and being dead, he caused him to be dried in an oven, and lies there entire in a box

Yes, but it doesn't seem respectful, I wonder if he had a religious committal or something? Frankly it makes me shudder.

Grahamt   Link to this

Brainford:
As has been commented before, this is Brentford.

Pedro   Link to this

And with the Fleet…

Yesterday Sandwich was on the Dogger Bank and made a handsome observation of the sun being latitude 54 deg 36 mins. Merchant ships reported that they had been close to the Dutch fleet who bear 15 leagues off. Today he records that he saw a bill from London ending the 25th August in which 6102 died of the plague and 1000 more of other disease.

(Journal of Edward Montagu edited by Anderson)

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"and being dead, he caused him to be dried in an oven"
And then there was the Hottentot Venus.

Albatross   Link to this

Wow, did today's entry take a surprisingly macabre turn!

From JWB's link, I particularly enjoyed this unintended irony...

"On numerous occasions, people, especially students, stole the body as tactless practical jokes."

Nothing tactless about displaying a man's body as a curiosity for forty years, but to STEAL it? Shocking!

dirk   Link to this

John Evelyn's diary today:

Came home, there perishing now neere ten-thousand poore Creatures weekely: however I went all along the Citty & suburbs from Kent streete to St. James’s, a dismal passage & dangerous, to see so many Cofines exposed in the streetes & the streete thin of people, the shops shut up, & all in mournefull silence, as not knowing whose turn might be next: I went to the D[uke] of Albemarle for a Pest-ship, to waite on our infected men, who were not a few:

Nix   Link to this

Tactless? Bentham requested that they do it!

Australian Susan   Link to this

We need to remember that the 3 displayed bodies in these annotations were all prepared thus for very different reasons. Bentham was just peculiar in wishing to have his body preserved - the case of Eugene was one of funeral directors trying to Do The Right Thing and not bury a nameless corpse, but the example in the diary entry is something much nastier: this treats the black person as subhuman - a curiosity to be studied, not a human being to be treated with dignity. It is reminiscent of the treatment of Aboriginal bones by anthropologists and was echoed, fictionally, in the original Planet of the Apes. And Sam goes along with this: it is just another curiosity, like a collection of shells, but one does wonder how he would react if this were to be proposed for a black person he knew such as Mingo?

Michael Robinson   Link to this

"And Sam goes along with this: it is just another curiosity, ..."

Well this is also an age when the head of Cromwell was displayed in public as a 'warning':-
http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/pharos/collecti...
and the bodies of the regicides disinterred for public hanging:-
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1661/01/28/

GrahamT   Link to this

Re: Dessicated boy:
"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." L. P. Hartley, 1953.

Mary   Link to this

"The past is another country...." is what Hartley wrote.

Australian Susan   Link to this

MR - exactly so! Cromwell and other regicides were either deprived of Christian burial or disturbed from their burial as they were thought unworthy of such because of the heinous crimes they had committed. This mummified West Indian is being treated as unworthy of respectful burial because he was regarded as not quite human. Remember that people sincerely believed in those days that if you were not buried properly and decently with all your parts and left in peace, you would not rise on Judgment Day - this gave rise to the abhorrence people felt for the gibbeted or otherwise displayed corpse, why the ultimate punishment ended in quartering so your parts were all over the place and why there was such a hatred of those wanting bodies for dissection.

Mary   Link to this

Christian burial denied.

We have no evidence that the lad was Christian at all. Was it normal to insist that such servants be baptised? I've so far seen no reference to this.

Nix   Link to this

I don't assume the "black" boy was African. Might have been, but the usage "black" in Samuel's time commonly referred to hair/eyes/complexion (think "black Irish"), not skin color. http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/1428/ My recollection is that Samuel usually uses "Negro" to refer to Africans.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Well, it could have been worse...

"Pepys, more dessicated boy?"

CGS   Link to this

black has a wide range of meanings,
the jury be out:
Negro Dark skin OED
1686 London Gaz. No. 2177/4, A black Negro Man about 30 years of age.
often refered to the Moors

6. = Black man or woman. a. A person of ‘black’ skin; an African Negro, or Australasian Negrito, or other member of a dark-skinned race. In this sense it appears to be a translation of Negro, which was in earlier use.
1625 PURCHAS Pilgrims IX. xiii. §1. 1570 The mouth of the Riuer [Gambra], where dwell the Blackes, called Mandingos. 1679-88 Secr. Serv. Moneys Chas. & Jas. (1851) 58 To Randall Mc Donnell, for a black his sl Matie bought of him, 50l. 1682 BUNYAN Holy War 20 This giant was one of the Blacks or Negroes.

c. A black-haired person. Obs.
c1686 Yng. Mans C. in Roxb. Ball. II. 558 The pleasant Blacks and modest Browns, their loving Husbands please.

d. A mute or hired mourner at a funeral. Obs.
1619 FLETCHER M. Thomas III. i, I do pray ye To give me leave to live a little longer: Ye stand before me like my Blacks.


black, a
1591 [See BLACK MAN 1].

1. A man having a black or very dark skin. (Cf. quot. 1815 for BLACK a. 3a.)
1591 SHAKES. Two Gent. V. ii. 12 Blacke men are Pearles, in beauteous Ladies eyes.

1666-7 [See BLACK BOY 1]. \

1. A boy having a black or very dark skin; spec. (a) = BLACK MAN 1; (b) a Negro manservant (cf. BOY n.1 3).
1635 Relation of Maryland v. 28 The Children live with their Parents; the Boyes untill they come to the full growth of men..then they are put into the number of Bow-men, and are called Black-boyes.

1666-7 PEPYS Diary 27 Jan., Her little black boy came by him. 1

Blackamoor
1. A black-skinned African, an Ethiopian, a Negro; any very dark-skinned person. (Formerly without depreciatory force; now a nickname.)
1547 BOORDE Introd. Knowl. 212, I am a blake More borne in Barbary.

1666 PEPYS Diary (1879) VI. 46 For a cook maid we have used a blackmoore.

Harvey   Link to this

Dessicated black boy on display? ... we're displaying our 21st century prejudices if we assume that there was a lack of respect, or that it was due to race or servant status. We simply don't know why it was done or what it implied about the boy.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Harvey - please see my annotation above: to leave someone unburied in the 17th century was deeply disrespectful. Read some of Sam's entries about people making desperate efforts to bury dead relatives in this appalling plague season - they were determined to do what for them was the right thing. Note the comments Sam makes and also in the quotations from evelyn's diary about the shock of seeing unburied coffins: to leave someone unburied was a dreadful thing to do in 17th century eyes. Nowadays we think nothing of someone who leaves their body for medical research. In the 17th century, medical students had to steal corpses or bargain with the hangman for felons. Leaving a gibbeted corpse swinging about was not just an awful warning, but, in the light of 17th century mores, condemned the person to eternal damnation and the inability to rise at the Last Judgement - Enlightenment ideas were not yet circulating, which questioned this scheme of things.

Doug Neilson   Link to this

Swakeleys House will be open to the public this year on:

Sunday 5th April, 2009
Sunday 5th July, 2009
Sunday 11th October, 2009

in each instance from 11am till 3pm.

Anthony Pearson   Link to this

My father, Robert Pearson, wrote a fictional book called "Merrily to Swakeley" which explains (albeit fictitiously) who the little black boy was, how he came to be at Swakeleys and his ultimate (much discussed on this thread) fate.
It can be bought online
"Merrily To Swakeleys" by Robert Pearson

http://books.trafford.com/06-2698

cgs   Link to this

spelling errata for follow ups
desiccate

1. trans. To make quite dry; to deprive thoroughly of moisture; to dry, dry up. Also fig.
In U.S. applied to the thorough drying of articles of food for preservation.
1575 TURBERV. Faulconrie 261 They doe mollifie, and desiccate the wounde or disease.
1626 BACON Sylva §727 Wine helpeth to digest and desiccate the moisture.
1657 TOMLINSON Renou's Disp. 181 This..will desiccate an ulcer.

Linda   Link to this

The Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford and other museums of ethnography display shrunken heads and artifacts made from human remains. These are also cases of treating body parts as objects to be studied.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Bust of "my Lord of Essex" from the hall screen at swakeleys
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stiffleaf/6178592578/

Jenny   Link to this

These entries are quite timely. Just yesterday in New Zealand, dried heads of Maori were returned to their "iwi" (tribe/people) after being returned from museums. Negotiations were in place for many years before the heads were returned. The head is the most sacred part of the body according to Maori and drying enemies heads after battle was the most horrific form of punishment/revenge that could be taken.

On the subject of Bentham, he wanted to remind future generations of mortality.

JWB   Link to this

...quite timely...sort-of...
Last weekend reading David McCullough's latest, learned that in 19th C Paris @ Amphitheatre d'Anatomie, discarded pieces from the dissecting halls were fed to dogs in cages kept just outside for that purpose.

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