Friday 29 November 1667

Waked about seven o’clock this morning with a noise I supposed I heard, near our chamber, of knocking, which, by and by, increased: and I, more awake, could, distinguish it better. I then waked my wife, and both of us wondered at it, and lay so a great while, while that increased, and at last heard it plainer, knocking, as if it were breaking down a window for people to get out; and then removing of stools and chairs; and plainly, by and by, going up and down our stairs. We lay, both of us, afeard; yet I would have rose, but my wife would not let me. Besides, I could not do it without making noise; and we did both conclude that thieves were in the house, but wondered what our people did, whom we thought either killed, or afeard, as we were. Thus we lay till the clock struck eight, and high day. At last, I removed my gown and slippers safely to the other side of the bed over my wife: and there safely rose, and put on my gown and breeches, and then, with a firebrand in my hand, safely opened the door, and saw nor heard any thing. Then (with fear, I confess) went to the maid’s chamber-door, and all quiet and safe. Called Jane up, and went down safely, and opened my chamber door, where all well. Then more freely about, and to the kitchen, where the cook-maid up, and all safe. So up again, and when Jane come, and we demanded whether she heard no noise, she said, “yes, and was afeard,” but rose with the other maid, and found nothing; but heard a noise in the great stack of chimnies that goes from Sir J. Minnes through our house; and so we sent, and their chimnies have been swept this morning, and the noise was that, and nothing else. It is one of the most extraordinary accidents in my life, and gives ground to think of Don Quixote’s adventures how people may be surprised, and the more from an accident last night, that our young gibb-cat1 did leap down our stairs from top to bottom, at two leaps, and frighted us, that we could not tell well whether it was the cat or a spirit, and do sometimes think this morning that the house might be haunted. Glad to have this so well over, and indeed really glad in my mind, for I was much afeard, I dressed myself and to the office both forenoon and afternoon, mighty hard putting papers and things in order to my extraordinary satisfaction, and consulting my clerks in many things, who are infinite helps to my memory and reasons of things, and so being weary, and my eyes akeing, having overwrought them to-day reading so much shorthand, I home and there to supper, it being late, and to bed. This morning Sir W. Pen and I did walk together a good while, and he tells me that the Houses are not likely to agree after their free conference yesterday, and he fears what may follow.

  1. A male cat. “Gib” is a contraction of the Christian name Gilbert (Old French), “Tibert”).

    “I am melancholy as a gib-cat”

    Shakespeare, I Henry IV, act i., sc. 3.

    Gib alone is also used, and a verb made from it — “to gib,” or act like a cat.

21 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Sir William Temple to Sandwich
Written from: Brussels
Date: 29 November S.N. 1667

States that his Lordship's Letters of Revocation ("granted at Your Excellency's or your friends' earnest solicitation") were sent through Brussels, and explains the delay in their transmission.

Notes that at Brussels as in Madrid all is "high peace", but there is a conspicuous difference between present procedures of Frenchmen & Spaniards. The latter talk of War, but as to preparations seem sure of peace. The French talk much about Peace, but prepare themselves as if sure of War.

http://www.rsl.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects/ca...

Glyn   Link to this

30 minute broadcast – Saturday 10:30, 4 December on BBC Radio 4

“>Samuel Pepys’ iPod<: Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist, loved music. It outlasted all his other passions - even his passion for women. He left hundreds of his favourite songs, some covered in wine stains, relics of drunken musical evenings.

David Owen Norris explores the songs in the Pepys Library in Cambridge with historians Richard Luckett, Jenny Uglow and Baisey Gitlin, and recreates the music he loved best. With singers Gwyneth Herbert, Thomas Guthrie and Laura Crowther.”

I hope that the programme is better than that description and title. British listeners who miss it will be able to hear it again on BBC iPlayer. Otherwise perhaps it could be emailed to people as an attachment, as it’s only audio. However, I myself wouldn’t be able to do that.

Glyn   Link to this

So, while Sam and his wife were hiding under their blankets, Jane and the other maid - who were equally afraid - went out to confront the supposed burglars? Sam, Sam - you don't even seem ashamed.

Any male servants in this house?

Michael L   Link to this

Today's entry almost sounds like a "Scooby Doo" episode.

Glyn   Link to this

Especially with a crazy neighbour cleaning a chimney, perhaps even before dawn, certainly not long after.

Glyn   Link to this

But Michael L is right. Sir John Minnes would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those pesky kids - especially Jane.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"last night...our young gibb-cat did leap down our stairs from top to bottom, at two leaps, and frighted us"

Gib Cat.

A tom-cat. The male cat used to be called Gilbert. Nares says that Tibert or Tybalt is the French form of Gilbert, and hence Chaucer in his Romance of the Rose, renders “Thibert le Cas” by “Gibbe, our Cat” (v. 6204). Generally used for a castrated cat....

“I am as melancholy as a gib cat or a lugged bear.”—Shakespeare: 1 Henry IV., i. 2.

E. Cobham Brewer 1810­1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898
http://www.bartleby.com/81/7155.html

Larry Bunce   Link to this

Today's entry sounds as if Pepys intended for his diary to be read by others, although he probably would have picked the days he would publish or incorporate into an autobiography. The prose here is up to quality of his account of the fire last year. I will miss Sam when the diary comes to an end, although I don't know if I would want to read it all over again. Maybe someone will repeat this site starting in 2060 for the quadricentennial. Any college student reading this would be around to host the re-run.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"Oh, you've no need to fear starting at seven, boys." Sir John nodded. Heh, heh...

"My neighbor Mr. Pepys is always up with the dawn."

"Right, Sir John, ok boys...Spread out. OW!!..." lead cleaner howls as assistants drop tools on floor and feet. "Lame brain!" slaps second, bushy-haired assistant. "OW!!" second slaps third, hulking close-cut third assistant, "OW!!" who turns to find no one else to slap.

"Sir John?" his valet eyes him as the three stumble about, crashing round. "Are you sure these three are the men for this job?"

"Oh, they're perfect." Sir John beams at the three. Another loud bang and cry as one drops load of debris on face while trying to stick broom up chimney.

Tony Eldridge   Link to this

Strange time of year to sweep the chimneys - presumably all the fires would have to be quenched first.
Some people used to lower a live goose down the chimney, its flapping wings dislodging the soot. If Sam had woken to that he would have thought the house was haunted.

jeannine   Link to this

"So up again, and when Jane come, and we demanded whether she heard no noise, she said, “yes, and was afeard,” but rose with the other maid, and found nothing; but heard a noise in the great stack of chimnies that goes from Sir J. Minnes through our house; and so we sent, and their chimnies have been swept this morning, and the noise was that, and nothing else..."

Brave Jane gets to clear her mind by going to face the fearful sound and then going peacefully back to sleep, while our scaredy-cat hero (who conveniently blames his wife for staying in bed), worried for an hour and loses out on a good snooze.

Where would Sam be without his brave servants!

language hat   Link to this

"At last, I removed my gown and slippers safely... and there safely rose, ... and then, with a firebrand in my hand, safely opened the door ... all quiet and safe. Called Jane up, and went down safely... all safe."

Now, that's what you call relief! But it seems clear to me (among other things, from this very repetition) that this is no more intended for public consumption than any of the rest of the diary. For one thing, he doesn't come off very well, and he's not the type of man to make a public display of his cowardice for laughs.

"gib-cat"

The g is hard (as in "give"), in case anyone was wondering.

Mary   Link to this

"he's not the type of man to make a public display of his cowardice for laughs."

Indeed he's not, but do you think that he's having a tentative private laugh at himself here? We don't see much evidence of Sam's sense of humour in the diary, but I could persuade myself that all those repetitions of 'safely' imply a glimmering of self-ridicule in this instance.

Glyn   Link to this

If a “firebrand” is a piece of burning wood, then he still has his fire heating the room, and presumably the rest of his household have fires as well. I wonder at what point their chimneys join the Minnes’ chimneys, or would they be separate all the way to the roof? (Nice to see Moe, Larry and Curly’s ancestors working together, by the way.)

martinb   Link to this

"At last, I removed my gown and slippers safely to the other side of the bed over my wife: and there safely rose, and put on my gown and breeches, and then, with a firebrand in my hand, safely opened the door"

Pepys as proto-novelist. And as Mary says, there's a lot of "safely" in here, as if he were on his comical tiptoes. But what exactly is going on? Why is it safer to get out of bed on his wife's side? Or does he do it because he's then in a better position to protect her should the imaginary thieves hear him and come rushing into the bedroom? If so, this seems quite gallant, especially for a man who presents himself as quaking under the bedclothes.

The second use of the word "knocking" in this entry is brilliant -- you can suddenly hear Pepys' voice loud and clear.


Ruben   Link to this

"Strange time of year to sweep the chimneys"

It depends. If you took care of your chimney's maintenance in time, you do not need the sweepers in winter.
But if you were sure everything was fine and did not check, we know by now (see Murphy's laws) that the chimney will clog in the worst opportunity...

arby   Link to this

No kidding Ruben, it's always the coldest night of the year when you see the flames shooting five feet out of the chimney. Sounds like a jet engine, very impressive. rb

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Rather sweet to think of Bess grabbing Sam to keep him from going and Sam trying to screw up his nerve to look good in front of her...While meanwhile Jane as always deals.

"Have no fear my friends..." Master spy Black Jacques Chirac notes to his thuggish companions. "Ma operatives confirm that our actions in Monsieur Pepys' abode shall be covered by the work of chimney sweepers in his neighbor's domicile. You should no difficulty in finding his papers and obtaining all the secrets of the Anglais navy. Then seize upon Monsieur Pepys and drag him to our coach, a fine prize for our glorious roi."

"And the woman...?"

"Gentlemen..." Jacques wags finger. "Madame Pepys is part French. She will, no doubt, loyally follow her husband into captivity."

"Oh, ho, ho..." leer from one...

"Out of the gutter, monsieur." Jacques frowns. "Or am I mistaken in addressing you as a gentleman? Lets us enter and be about our tasks while the opportunity affords."

***

Inside chez Pepys...

"Vite, vite, mon amis...There is nothing to fear. One man and a few damsels." Jacques waves his two louts on.

"I thought Monsieur Pepys was the early riser." one notes. "It's after seven."

"His wife is part French, non?" the other thug notes.

"Oh, ho, ho..." the first agrees...

"His study must be above, I see none here below..." Jacques frowns. "Hurry above while the workmen are busy."

"What's that?" the first thug looks up the stairs.

"Mr. Pepys are you sure you should carry that gun in the house?" Jane, loudly... "After you killed those poor boys who were just coming to finish their work last week?"

Hmmn...First thug eyes second...

"I mean you're such a crack shot, sir. Perhaps we should..."

Growl... "Piss and blood, woman!! Death to anyone who enters the home of Samuel Pepys. No quarter!!" thud of something heavy hitting floor. "Give me my powder, girl!! And fetch me sword!!! I rather fancy dealing with these scum with cold steel."

"Oh, Mr. Pepys! Have mercy on the poor deluded lads, whoever they may be!!"

"Enough, I go!!..." first thug runs for door, followed by second.

"Cowards!!!" Jacques hisses.

"Down the stairs I come, death to all who trepass!" loud growl.

"Oh, Mr. Pepys!"

Jacques makes for door...At speed...

***

"Jane?"

"Can't see anyone." Jane shrugs.

"I hear sounds from the chimney. Maybe theys cleaning next door."

"Aye." Jane sighs. "But a good job, girl. Uh...Best not to mention this to the master, though. He can be touchy about such things."

"Aye."

Australian Susan   Link to this

Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1,

Mercutio: Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?

Tybalt: What would'st thou have with me?

Mercutio: Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives, that I mean to make bold withal.....

Christopher Squire   Link to this

'Gib n. 2. A cat, esp. a male cat (cf. Gib a male ferret in Chester Gloss.); in later dialectal use, one that has been castrated.
. . 4. gib-cat n. = sense 2. Now only arch. and dial.
1598 Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 1 i. ii. 74, I am as melancholy as a gyb Cat.
1667 S. Pepys Diary 29 Nov. (1974) VIII. 553 Our young gibb-cat did leap down our stairs‥at two leaps.' [OED]

Terry Foreman   Link to this

John Evelyn's Diary

[29th November], 1667.* To visit the late Lord Chancellor. I found him in his garden at his new-built palace, sitting in his gout wheel-chair, and seeing the gates setting up toward the north and the fields. He looked and spake very disconsolately. After some while deploring his condition to me, I took my leave, Next morning, I heard he was gone; though I am persuaded that, had he gone sooner, though but to Cornbury, and there lain quiet, it would have satisfied the Parliament. That which exasperated them was his presuming to stay and contest the accusation as long as it was possible: and they were on the point of sending him to the Tower.

*This entry of the 9th-December, 1667, is a. mistake. Evelyn could not have visited the "late Lord Chancellor" on that day. Lord Clarendon fled on Saturday, the [30th -- this correction is also a mistake, following Clarendon's own 'right day wrong date' Saturday the 29th (Clarendon *Life, etc.*, iii. 332-3) -- ] of November, 1667, and his letter resigning the Chancellorship of the University of Oxford is dated from Calais on the 7th of December. That Evelyn's book is not, in every respect, strictly a diary, is shown by this and several similar passages already adverted to in the remarks prefixed to the present edition....

http://is.gd/fY5jv

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