Wednesday 11 January 1659/60

Being at Will’s with Captain Barker, who hath paid me 300l. this morning at my office, in comes my father, and with him I walked, and leave him at W. Joyce’s, and went myself to Mr. Crew’s, but came too late to dine, and therefore after a game at shittle-cock with Mr. Walgrave and Mr. Edward, I returned to my father, and taking him from W. Joyce’s, who was not abroad himself, we inquired of a porter, and by his direction went to an alehouse, where after a cup or two we parted. I went towards London, and in my way went in to see Crowly, who was now grown a very great loon and very tame. Thence to Mr. Steven’s with a pair of silver snuffers, and bought a pair of shears to cut silver, and so homeward again.

From home I went to see Mrs. Jem, who was in bed, and now granted to have the small-pox.

Back again, and went to the Coffee-house, but tarried not, and so home.

32 Annotations

First Reading

Wulf Losee  •  Link

Does anyone have any idea who Will is?

David Bell  •  Link

Another example of language drift, I think, where the notation of a "violent" game would be better expressed as "energetic" today.

Wooden Rivet  •  Link

a game played by two persons with small rackets, called battledores, made of parchment or rows of gut stretched across wooden frames, and shuttlecocks, made of a base of some light material, like cork, with trimmed feathers fixed round the top. The object of the players is to bat the shuttlecock, from one to the other as many times as possible without allowing it to fall to the ground. In Europe it has been played by children for centuries. A further development is Badminton. truth, not a very "violent" game at all.

I wonder just why Mr. Pepys bought "a pair of shears to cut silver with?" Is he planning to cut coin into change..i.e. as a quarter equals 2 bits?

PHE  •  Link

The shittlecock game is, I believe, a rare example of Pepys doing anything 'sporty'. Apart from the fact that he does a lot of walking from place to place and some horse-riding, his life generally appears rather sedentary.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

Poor Mrs. Jem! And poor Crowly - is he insane, or senile, or what?

I am thinking that perhaps Pepys took the two silver snuffers to "Mr. Stevens" to sell them for cash.

Nicholas Laughlin  •  Link

"Does anyone have any idea who Will is?"

Pepys is referring not to a person named Will but to the process of recording the probate of wills in the Exchequer assignment books (see entry for 7 January preceeding). As clerk, Pepys would have received a fee for so doing.

Captain Barker is "probably Richard Baker, Commissioner of Customs and Excise", according to Latham-Matthews. On 5 January Pepys noted that "the money was again expected from the Excise office, but none brought". I suspect that Pepys got only a percentage of the

Nicholas Laughlin  •  Link

"Poor Mrs. Jem!"

Fear not: on 13 January Pepys will discover it was "only the swine-pox" (i.e. chicken pox).

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link


From Nicholas Laughlin: "Pepys is referring not to a person named Will but to the process of recording the probate of wills."

Huh! I was thinking it was a coffee house, as in the entry for 2 January, "finding my wife gone to see Mrs. Hunt, I went to Will

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"Poor Mrs. Jem!" spoiler:

I wonder if perhaps people like myself, who've not read the diary, might not want to know the fate of characters and events before they actually occur in the diary? I realize that, this being part of history, it will be almost impossible to *not* reveal things about the "future" (and I'm certainly not chastising Nicholas for letting us know the happy news about Mrs. Jem), but maybe people can put "Spoiler" or something similar in the header of their annotations, giving those who want to want to skip such revelations the opportunity to do so? Just a thought...

Patrice  •  Link

Crowly: Latham-Matthews speculate that Crowly is actually (not metaphorically) a lion, residing at the Tower menagerie.

Wulf Losee  •  Link

Re: Will's, yes, of course it's Will's coffee shop! Thank you for the clarification. Probably the

Susanna  •  Link


Yes, Crowly was one of the lions at the royal menagerie at the Tower. England's kings had been keeping lions there since the 13th century, and they would remain there until 1834, when they were removed to the zoo in Regent's Park. James I had built them new quarters in 1603, with larger cages, a viewing gallery, and a cistern "for the Lyons to drinke and wasche themselves in." (Liza Picard, Restoration London)

Susanna  •  Link

Mr. Walgrave and Mr. Edward

Mr. Walgrave is probably a relation of Mrs. Crew's (as she was born a Walgrave), and "Mr. Edward" is probably young Edward Montague, "my lord"s son. There is a little information on him here:…

Roger Miller  •  Link

Sam went in to see Crowly on his way from Westminster towards London, by which he would mean the City of London.

If Crowly was a lion in the Tower menagerie and the Tower is on the far (eastern) side of the city, how was that on his way?

Warren Keith Wright  •  Link

So Crowly is a lion, not a loon as the text says? One relishes the thought of the state bird of (unknown) Minnesota getting into the Diary too.

Phil  •  Link

Although the Tower is not immediately between Westminster and the City, it's not completely out of the way. The Tower is actually a small distance to the south east of the City and Westminster is to its south west. So the lion wouldn't be in completely the opposite direction, just a walk along the river before turning back a little inland.

Patrice  •  Link

I realize that I'm getting a little off the point, but Minnesota wasn't completely unknown in 1660. The Lakota (aka Sioux)and Ojibway were there of course. But the French also arrived in 1660.

Scott Rosser  •  Link

The actual purpose of Pepy's trip into London seems to have been his taking his silverware to Mr Stevens who may well have lived or worked somewhere close by the Tower; if so, his visit to Cowly the lion was very probably just a welcome diversion.

By the way, it's more likely Pepys took a horse cab to and fro rather than walked: the Tower and (the palace of) Westminster are in fact about two miles apart if you allow for the bend in the river Thames near where Charing Cross now is!

Paul Miller  •  Link

" went in to see Crowly, who was now grown a very great loon and very tame"

The word loon as Pepys uses it here means idler. He is just saying that the lion has grown idle and tame.

David Gurliacci  •  Link

Those candlesticks probably belong to Steven now

Going to Mr. Steven's with his two silver candlesticks without saying that he went there to sell them would fit a pattern: Pepys says as little as possible about his financial embarrassments, even while he is sure to record every pleasurable episode that comes his way. For instance:

-- In the rent episode with Vanly (4 January), Pepys never actually says that he doesn't have the money and has to borrow it. We only learn on 9 January that the money was not simply deposited with the Exchequer for safekeeping.

-- We aren't told that the lack of coal in Pepys's house (on 8 January) is a result of delaying the purchase of more coal until the last minute to avoid spending money, but it would make sense if this is how it happened. In fact, we aren't given any explanation at all. (It could have been simple negligence and not a lack of money.)

-- He goes to Crew to borrow money (10 January), but Pepys says absolutely nothing about the matter other than this (from the first sentence): "thence to Mr. Crew's, and borrowed 10 l., and so to my office and was able to pay the money."

That visit to Crew is addressed in a haiku-like eight words (and twelve more to narrate the payment at the office). The lion's share of that same sentence is an account of chancing upon Greatorex and his "pleasant" sphere of wire.

A more objective diarist (although a more objective diarist than Pepys may not exist) would give us at least some details: When is the money to be paid back? Was it easy or hard to borrow it? Was Crew annoyed? Curious about the circumstances? How did Pepys approach Crew? This had to be the most important thing Pepys did all that day (other than paying the money back to the Exchequer). And he gives it eight words.

Pepys is known to be an incredibly objective diarist, but it's worth remembering that (as we all do) he airbrushes out of the picture some embarrassing details.

Nicky  •  Link

So what are 'shears to cut silver' ? Very sharp scissors or is he talking about a small pair to carve silver leaf ?

language hat  •  Link

If he were trying to spare himself embarrassment,
surely he wouldn't mention these things at all? At this point the entries are pretty concise anyway; he doesn't give many details of anything. Later on he loosens up and allows himself the luxury of explaining (and embarrassing) himself at length.

John  •  Link

re: "Mrs. Jem Spoiler"

What manner of warlock are ye, that can see through the mists of time?? Were Cromwell alive today he would have you burned at the stake!

But seriously, I second the motion of being careful with the spoilers (funny though they may be).

David Gurliacci  •  Link

Re: LanguageHat's points about embarrassment

That was a reasonable critique, and I'll sharpen my own points with it:

"If he were trying to spare himself embarrassment, surely he wouldn't mention these things at all?"

I'm saying that he made a compromise between conflicting goals. One is to avoid as much embarrassment as possible (which he could achieve much better if he'd never started the diary in the first place). The other goal (I think we can assume, given what he did do) was to produce a diary that gave a pretty comprehesive description of what was interesting or important in both his life and what he saw of his world. To produce a diary is to confront your own embarrassments. To confront them with total honesty is possibly beyond what any human can do.

"At this point the entries are pretty concise anyway; he doesn't give many details of anything."

Compare descriptions of individual events: Even with his brevity, we know more about one of his breakfasts with Shepley (turkey pie AND goose) than we know about his meeting with Crew (only that he borrowed 10 pounds). We know that he BOUGHT the shears but not that he SOLD the candlesticks. We know what food he ate, who he ate it with, what musical instruments he played and something of what Muddiman said to him, but not a thing of what was said at the meeting with Crew -- and we don't even know for sure that he was borrowing money from the Exchequer until Hawly tells him it's a big deal. And even Pepys himself tells us -- later -- that the matter is important and that it troubles him at night.

I see a pattern (overall, courageous in mentioning embarrassing things, but not courageous enough to give us all the detail that they deserve), but reasonable minds can differ about whether or not it's there.

I think my overall point in all this is not really controversial: that we need to read Pepys with a critical eye and not just accept that something is unimportant because he makes it seem so by brushing it aside with a few words.

David Gurliacci  •  Link

Re: "Those Candlesticks" note

In my note above (and in the note immediately above), I made a big deal over Pepys not saying much about borrowing 10 pounds from Crew, and I said that it seems to fit a pattern of Pepys saying as little as possible about his financial embarassments.

Well, Pepys biographer Claire Tomalin indicates there's a different reason why Pepys wrote so little about the transaction:

"He . . . was then forced to repay the loan by borrowing again from an obliging steward in the household of . . . John Crew."
(p. 95, "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self")

This knocks a major hole in my argument that Pepys is extremely reticent about financial embarrassment. If Pepys just settled the matter with a steward, it wasn't considered a big deal and he had no reason to write much on it. Tomalin may be assuming the matter was handled through a steward simply because Pepys writes so little about it (she doesn't give a source or a reason for bringing in the steward -- will he show up in the diary later?), but even if this is guesswork on her part, it's educated guesswork (perhaps based on what is known about how these types of things were handled back then) and it certainly doesn't seem ridiculous.

I still think Pepys is reticent about financial embarassment and therefore should be read with a sharp eye because of the lack of emphasis he places on it -- but it's hard to use this borrowing episode as an example.

michael f vincent  •  Link

Mr steven: was he a pawnbroker? A great place to borrow a little extra instead of having an overdraft.

vincent  •  Link

pets? "who was now grown a very great loon and very tame." Was this a the Large bodied swimmers with dagggerlike bills that love small fish?

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

"went in to see Crowly, who was now grown a very great loon and very tame"

LOON, an idle, lazy, good for nothing Fellow : Also a Bird in New England like a Cormorant.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

Third Reading

David  •  Link

Will's. These early references to Will's are to Will's Ale House which was in Old Palace Yard. Pepys was a frequent flyer there but his references to it stopped in early 1661 perhaps because of his move from Axe Yard to Seething Lane.
Later on he discovered Will's Coffee House in Covent garden and became a regular there from 1664 onwards.

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