Thursday 14 September 1665

Up, and walked to Greenwich, and there fitted myself in several businesses to go to London, where I have not been now a pretty while. But before I went from the office newes is brought by word of mouth that letters are now just now brought from the fleete of our taking a great many more of the Dutch fleete, in which I did never more plainly see my command of my temper in my not admitting myself to receive any kind of joy from it till I had heard the certainty of it, and therefore went by water directly to the Duke of Albemarle, where I find a letter of the 12th from Solebay, from my Lord Sandwich, of the fleete’s meeting with about eighteen more of the Dutch fleete, and his taking of most of them; and the messenger says, they had taken three after the letter was wrote and sealed; which being twenty-one, and the fourteen took the other day, is forty-five sail; some of which are good, and others rich ships, which is so great a cause of joy in us all that my Lord and everybody is highly joyed thereat. And having taken a copy of my Lord’s letter, I away back again to the Beare at the Bridge foot, being full of wind and out of order, and there called for a biscuit and a piece of cheese and gill of sacke, being forced to walk over the Bridge, toward the ‘Change, and the plague being all thereabouts. Here my news was highly welcome, and I did wonder to see the ‘Change so full, I believe 200 people; but not a man or merchant of any fashion, but plain men all. And Lord! to see how I did endeavour all I could to talk with as few as I could, there being now no observation of shutting up of houses infected, that to be sure we do converse and meet with people that have the plague upon them. I to Sir Robert Viner’s, where my main business was about settling the business of Debusty’s 5000l. tallys, which I did for the present to enable me to have some money, and so home, buying some things for my wife in the way. So home, and put up several things to carry to Woolwich, and upon serious thoughts I am advised by W. Griffin to let my money and plate rest there, as being as safe as any place, nobody imagining that people would leave money in their houses now, when all their families are gone. So for the present that being my opinion, I did leave them there still. But, Lord! to see the trouble that it puts a man to, to keep safe what with pain a man hath been getting together, and there is good reason for it. Down to the office, and there wrote letters to and again about this good newes of our victory, and so by water home late. Where, when I come home I spent some thoughts upon the occurrences of this day, giving matter for as much content on one hand and melancholy on another, as any day in all my life. For the first; the finding of my money and plate, and all safe at London, and speeding in my business of money this day. The hearing of this good news to such excess, after so great a despair of my Lord’s doing anything this year; adding to that, the decrease of 500 and more, which is the first decrease we have yet had in the sickness since it begun: and great hopes that the next week it will be greater. Then, on the other side, my finding that though the Bill in general is abated, yet the City within the walls is encreased, and likely to continue so, and is close to our house there. My meeting dead corpses of the plague, carried to be buried close to me at noon-day through the City in Fanchurch-street. To see a person sick of the sores, carried close by me by Gracechurch in a hackney-coach. My finding the Angell tavern, at the lower end of Tower- hill, shut up, and more than that, the alehouse at the Tower-stairs, and more than that, the person was then dying of the plague when I was last there, a little while ago, at night, to write a short letter there, and I overheard the mistresse of the house sadly saying to her husband somebody was very ill, but did not think it was of the plague. To hear that poor Payne, my waiter, hath buried a child, and is dying himself. To hear that a labourer I sent but the other day to Dagenhams, to know how they did there, is dead of the plague; and that one of my own watermen, that carried me daily, fell sick as soon as he had landed me on Friday morning last, when I had been all night upon the water (and I believe he did get his infection that day at Brainford), and is now dead of the plague. To hear that Captain Lambert and Cuttle are killed in the taking these ships; and that Mr. Sidney Montague is sick of a desperate fever at my Lady Carteret’s, at Scott’s-hall. To hear that Mr. Lewes hath another daughter sick. And, lastly, that both my servants, W. Hewer and Tom Edwards, have lost their fathers, both in St. Sepulchre’s parish, of the plague this week, do put me into great apprehensions of melancholy, and with good reason. But I put off the thoughts of sadness as much as I can, and the rather to keep my wife in good heart and family also. After supper (having eat nothing all this day) upon a fine tench —[?? D.W.]— of Mr. Shelden’s taking, we to bed.

19 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"my command of my temper in my not admitting myself to receive any kind of joy from it till I had heard the certainty of it"

temper = temperament, mood (i.a. - L&M Select Glossary)

***
"a biscuit and a piece of cheese and gill of sacke"

The gill (homophone of "Jill") is a unit of measurement for volume equal to a quarter of a pint. It is no longer in common use, except in regard to the volume of alcoholic spirits measures but it is also kept alive by the occasional reference, such as in the cumulative song "The Barley Mow".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gill_(volume)

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"the decrease of 500 and more, which is the first decrease we have yet had in the sickness since it begun"

L&M have the Bills of Mortality for 5-12 September reporting 6,544 dying of the plague, compared to 6.988 the previous week.

Paul Dyson   Link to this

"The gill is a unit of measurement for volume equal to a quarter of a pint."

Or in Lancashire, and perhaps elsewhere in northern England, half a pint when dealing with beer or milk.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...in which I did never more plainly see my command of my temper in my not admitting myself to receive any kind of joy from it till I had heard the certainty of it..."

Commendable...Unless of course...

"Oh, God!!! Your Grace, pray it's true?!!! I've got to know!!!" grabs Albemarle by collar, shaking him.

"Pepys, my dear fellow."

"If it's not true I shall sell all and leave for America tomorrow night before the mob comes to kill us all!! For God's sake, your Grace!!!"

"Now there, Pepys. Calm yourself. Willis, some wine for Mr. Pepys."

"You silly fool!! Tell me!!! Oh, Lord, it's all a lie isn't it? Just another rumor. Oh, it's all over. Done for. The fleet outfoxed again! And we are lost!!!" falls to knees, shaking hands to Heaven.

"Pepys. My boy, I understand you've been under quite a strain recently... And done admirable service in London in these terrible times..."

Duchess enters, wearing new silk scarf... "George, isn't it lovely? Just from the largest of the 45 Sandwich captured."

Sam, blinking...Ummn...

"Oh, dear... I meant it to be a grand surprise for the Navy boys. Well, cat out of the bag, eh Samuel?"

"Eh...My gracious Duke."
***

"But I put off the thoughts of sadness as much as I can, and the rather to keep my wife in good heart and family also."

Seriously...No one better able, Sam. And you would probably be justified in including many friends and most of those you've encountered in London and elsewhere. Many a life was eased if not saved I'm sure by your warmth and cheerfulness in these days.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

By the way, just came across this bit of scandalous misinformation on the lives of our hero and his heroine...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAKy82C6mEM

Call it "Bess' Revenge" I guess. Though the pig chase is fun.

deepfatfriar   Link to this

After supper (having eat nothing all this day) upon a fine tench...

OED lists tench as a thick-bodied fresh water fish, tinca vulgaris. Wikipedia lists it as tinca tinca, with pictures.

Pedro   Link to this

The Doctor Fish.

Very few course fish are eaten today in England, but I believe they are popular in Eastern Europe. Perhaps people with large ornamental pools will have to be wary as we don’t want our tench suffering the same fate as our swans.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jan/07/rurala...

Don McCahill   Link to this

> which being twenty-one, and the fourteen took the other day, is forty-five sail;

And this guy is an accountant???

Paul in Bristol   Link to this

"which being twenty-one, and the fourteen took the other day, is forty-five sail"

Sam! In my book 21 + 14 = 35, not 45

wishful thinking...?

language hat   Link to this

The latter half of the entry can be summed up in the fine old phrase "Timor mortis conturbat me," as so memorably used by Dunbar:

http://www.bartleby.com/101/21.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timor_mortis_contu...

JWB   Link to this

Sam's Sums:

1) Sept 10: 8 or 9
2) Sept 14: Letter of the 12th, most of 18=14
3) Sept 14: the 21

That's 43 or 44.

dirk   Link to this

From the Carte Papers, Bodleian Library
http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects...

Joseph Ash to Sir John Wolstenholme, and others, Farmers of the Customs,

Written from: Plymouth
Date: 15 September 1665

Reports the arrival at Plymouth of a ship from New England which left Boston in company of another ship which was subsequently taken by a Dutch 'Caper' in the Soundings; and that since that arrival news has come of the capture of two Dutch Capers by H.M.S. Elizabeth, & another.

CGS   Link to this

H.M.S. Elizabeth, The title H.M.S.
This must have been a very early use of this title for a ship as the official records usually say Navy royal, but His Majesty's ship???

Michael Robinson   Link to this

H.M.S. Elizabeth, The title H.M.S.

The 'calendar' of the Carte Papers is an abstract prepared between 1877 and 1883 so much of the usage is from that date and not the C17th.

See second item on:-
http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...To hear that poor Payne, my waiter, hath buried a child, and is dying himself. To hear that a labourer I sent but the other day to Dagenhams, to know how they did there, is dead of the plague; and that one of my own watermen, that carried me daily, fell sick as soon as he had landed me on Friday morning last, when I had been all night upon the water (and I believe he did get his infection that day at Brainford), and is now dead of the plague."

I wonder if the office boys preferred not to sit with Sam after hearing this list of woe. "Plague" Pepys.

"Every man that this man Pepys meets dies o' plague! I say burn 'im and look for the medical explanation in his black soul!"

"Mr. Evelyn?" Sam, held by the mob stares.

Evelyn, dropping street accent adopted for benefit of mob..."Ah, sorry, there Mr. Pepys. But one cannot be too careful in these times."

"Burn 'im! 'fore he brings death down on us all!!" Evelyn resumes accent.

"Burn him!! Burn him!!" supportive single-voiced cry from mob.

"Bess?!"

***

CGS   Link to this

Thanks : Michael Robinson

A. Hamilton   Link to this

Thanks L.H. for the fine quote from "Lament for the Makeris," William Dunbar:

http://www.bartleby.com/101/21.html

A sampling of verses appropriate to Sam's state of mind today:

The state of man does change and vary,
Now sound, now sick, now blyth, now sary,
Now dansand mirry, now like to die:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
...
Unto the Death gois all Estatis,
Princis, Prelatis, and Potestatis,
Baith rich and poor of all degree:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Cosidering the rhymes (die,me; degree me) do you think its likely Dunbar pronounced the Latin "me" (sounds like may) the same as the English me (sounds like we)?

language hat   Link to this

Definitely. All speakers of English (or Scots) pronounced Latin exactly as if it were English (or Scots) until the 19th century, and the struggle for the "restored" classical pronunciation lasted throughout the century. We still have remnants of the old pronunciation; nobody says "et KYE-tera" or "KYE-sar."

language hat   Link to this

And of course Dunbar said "dee" for "die."

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