Monday 25 September 1665

Found ourselves come to the fleete, and so aboard the Prince; and there, after a good while in discourse, we did agree a bargain of 5,000l. with Sir Roger Cuttance for my Lord Sandwich for silk, cinnamon, nutmeggs, and indigo. And I was near signing to an undertaking for the payment of the whole sum; but I did by chance escape it; having since, upon second thoughts, great cause to be glad of it, reflecting upon the craft and not good condition, it may be, of Captain Cocke. I could get no trifles for my wife. Anon to dinner and thence in great haste to make a short visit to Sir W. Pen, where I found them and his lady and daughter and many commanders at dinner. Among others Sir G. Askue, of whom whatever the matter is, the world is silent altogether. But a very pretty dinner there was, and after dinner Sir W. Pen made a bargain with Cocke for ten bales of silke, at 16s. per lb., which, as Cocke says, will be a good pennyworth, and so away to the Prince and presently comes my Lord on board from Greenwich, with whom, after a little discourse about his trusting of Cocke, we parted and to our yacht; but it being calme, we to make haste, took our wherry toward Chatham; but, it growing darke, we were put to great difficultys, our simple, yet confident waterman, not knowing a step of the way; and we found ourselves to go backward and forward, which, in the darke night and a wild place, did vex us mightily. At last we got a fisher boy by chance, and took him into the boat, and being an odde kind of boy, did vex us too; for he would not answer us aloud when we spoke to him, but did carry us safe thither, though with a mistake or two; but I wonder they were not more. In our way I was [surprised] and so were we all, at the strange nature of the sea-water in a darke night, that it seemed like fire upon every stroke of the oare, and, they say, is a sign of winde. We went to the Crowne Inne, at Rochester, and there to supper, and made ourselves merry with our poor fisher-boy, who told us he had not been in a bed in the whole seven years since he came to ‘prentice, and hath two or three more years to serve. After eating something, we in our clothes to bed.

14 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"In our way I was [surprised] and so were we all, at the strange nature of the sea-water in a darke night, that it seemed like fire upon every stroke of the oare, and, they say, is a sign of winde."

Suggests a "red tide" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_tide

CGS   Link to this

Looking at the spoils of warre, James and Charles not be happy as his court dothe think that at least one third be for them to make merry with the ladies of the court.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

So Sam wisely dodged signing alone for the 5000? So...I wonder are he and Capt Cocke buying the goods on margin? A down payment of what gold they have with promise to pay in full when the goods are sold? Surely Sam wouldn't risk his whole life savings, so either his percentage in the deal is quite small or he and Cocke must be putting down just a fraction.

CGS   Link to this

May pay on delivery? these goods may not be on site so the good faith amount up front..

Paul Chapin   Link to this

"Sir G. Askue, of whom whatever the matter is, the world is silent altogether"
What a great comment. LOL, as they say.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

"the strange nature of the sea-water in a darke night, that it seemed like fire upon every stroke of the oare"

Contra Terry, I don't believe this is red tide, which is visible only in the daytime, but marine phosphorescence, visible on a dark night, emitted by tiny crustaceans and other sea life. Google has various references for "marine phosphorescence"; the following one is quite readable and pertinent.

http://www.web-books.com/Classics/YoungFolks/Ea...

Silvia Kruse   Link to this

"the strange nature of the sea-water in a darke night, that it seemed like fire upon every stroke of the oare"

I agree with Mr. Chapin.
It might have been just bioluminiscent plankton (noctilucae). It gives the water an incredible glow, and may be present just all by itself.
Pepys' description is a very good one for this phenomenon, for calm water won't glow but it will do so if disturbed (as with an oar stroke, a leaping fish or the breaking of waves). It won't be red or have a reddish quality at all –please note that Pepys does not mention any color– but look rather like bluish or greenish 'liquid' fire.

tonyt   Link to this

'...great cause to be glad of it...'. This seems to be a spoiler from Sam himself - in other words, he was able to apply hindsight by the time he wrote up this entry.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...and made ourselves merry with our poor fisher-boy, who told us he had not been in a bed in the whole seven years since he came to ‘prentice..."

Heaven, this am...

"Sam'l?!"

"I know, I know. But in 1665...Context of the time, dearest."

"But Eleanor Roosevelt was labeled a lesbian by her enemies (and some biographers) on less evidence..."

"Bess, I know...I'm 'Mr. Papist', remember?"

"Well, thank God Shaftsbury never got hold of this...I knew this Diary of yours was trouble."

"Bess...Anyone reading of my exploits will know I...Ummn..."

"Right, lets not go that way. Anyway...What's this about your risking everything we had then on this stupid trade goods deal?"

Spoiler...

"I did tell you about it, remember? And I wasn't risking 'everything'. Keep reading."

FJA   Link to this

Pepys says it was a "darke night" and so it must have been. But had there been any moon out to speak of a red tide would light up the disturbances of the water like fire. Being night, one would not see the "red" of the water, but only the phosphorescence of the disturbances. I've gone body-surfing at 2am, determining the size and distance of approaching waves only by the line of glowing foam as the wave begins to curl from out of total blackness. Of course, one has only to kick one's feet to be engulfed in fantastic colors.

FJA   Link to this

If it were a red tide, however, I wonder that the boatmen do not seem to recognize it as such. It occurs here anywhere from a couple times a year to once every few years, and its color during the day, beauty at night, smell of dying plankton and association with jellyfish, make it immediately recognizable.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Today is St. Crispin's Day

Is this off-topic, given Pepys's opinion of Shakespeare and his ignorance of the Bard's *Henry V*? Men are being tested by the war that is underway.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Crispin's_Day

Alice Teasdale   Link to this

Indigo - definitely the dye, or the plant from which the dye is derived. Probably the former as the extraction process is quite tedious and smelly.

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