Tuesday 16 January 1665/66

Up, and leaving the women in bed together (a pretty black and white) I to London to the office, and there forgot, through business, to bespeake any dinner for my wife and Mrs. Pierce. However, by noon they come, and a dinner we had, and Kate Joyce comes to see us, with whom very merry. After dinner she and I up to my chamber, who told me her business was chiefly for my advice about her husband’s leaving off his trade, which though I wish enough, yet I did advise against, for he is a man will not know how to live idle, and employment he is fit for none. Thence anon carried her and Mrs. Pierce home, and so to the Duke of Albemarle, and mighty kind he to me still. So home late at my letters, and so to bed, being mightily troubled at the newes of the plague’s being encreased, and was much the saddest news that the plague hath brought me from the beginning of it; because of the lateness of the year, and the fear, we may with reason have, of its continuing with us the next summer. The total being now 375, and the plague 158.

4 Annotations

Mary  •  Link

Increase in the plague.

In the previous week only 89 deaths had been attributed to the plague, so this represents a considerable increase at a time of year when cold weather was usually expected to reduce the incidence of infection.

'Usually" because plague was a regular visitor to London, though not with such ferocity as during 1665-6.

In very little more than a century there had been notable plagues in the years 1563,1578,1593,1603,1625 and 1636.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the women in bed together (a pretty black and white)"

Touching of this composition to linger in Pepys's memory until he wrote this entry.

A.Hamilton  •  Link

A Litany in Time of Plague

By Thomas Nashe from A Pleasant Comedy, Called Summer's Last Will and Testament performed for the archbishop of Canterbury in 1592 and published in 1600.

ADIEU, farewell earth's bliss,
This world uncertain is :
Fond are life's lustful joys,
Death proves them all but toys.
None from his darts can fly :
I am sick, I must die.
Lord have mercy on us !

Rich men, trust not in wealth,
Gold cannot buy you health ;
Physic himself must fade,
All things to end are made ;
The plague full swift goes by :
I am sick, I must die.
Lord have mercy on us !

Beauty is but a flower,
Which wrinkles will devour ;
Brightness falls from the air,
Queens have died young and fair,
Dust hath closèd Helen's eye :
I am sick, I must die.
Lord have mercy on us !

Strength stoops unto the grave,
Worms feed on Hector brave,
Swords may not fight with fate,
Earth still holds ope her gate.
Come, come, the bells do cry,
I am sick, I must die.
Lord have mercy on us !

Haste therefore each degree
To welcome destiny ;
Heaven is our heritage
Earth but a player's stage,
Mount we unto the sky :
I am sick, I must die.
Lord have mercy on us !

A.Hamilton  •  Link

The plague

While we are on this gloomy subject, next to Nashe one of the best 16th century expressions of the fragility of life is William Dubar's Lament for the Makaris, with its haunting refrain, Timor Mortis conturbat me, fear of death disturbs me. The poem is too long for these annotations, but it may be read (and well worth it) at

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