Saturday 14 January 1659/60

Nothing to do at our office. Thence into the Hall, and just as I was going to dinner from Westminster Hall with Mr. Moore (with whom I had been in the lobby to hear news, and had spoke with Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper about my Lord’s lodgings) to his house, I met with Captain Holland, who told me that he hath brought his wife to my house, so I posted home and got a dish of meat for them. They staid with me all the afternoon, and went hence in the evening.

Then I went with my wife, and left her at market, and went myself to the Coffee-house, and heard exceeding good argument against Mr. Harrington’s assertion, that overbalance of propriety1 was the foundation of government.

Home, and wrote to Hinchinbroke, and sent that and my other letter that missed of going on Thursday last. So to bed.

33 Annotations

First Reading

Scott Knight  •  Link

I guess from the above "I posted home" we can resolve the earlier questions about whether Pepys was physically walking all over London or not.

Nicholas Laughlin  •  Link

"good argument against Mr. Harrington’s assertion”:

At a meeting of the Rota club.

Latham-Matthews: “It was one of Harrington’s favourite theses that no government is secure unless the governing classes possess a preponderence of landed wealth.”

David Gurliacci  •  Link

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About James Harrington (But Were Too Bored to Ask) is in my note "James Harrington (1611-77) and 'Oceana'" to the January 9 entry (listed near the end, 11 January, 5:03 p.m.). If you click on my name (and if I've done this right) you can go to that annotation directly.

Susanna  •  Link

Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper

Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, later the first Earl of Shaftsbury, was a highly prominent politician (later he would found the Whig party). In American history he is probably best known as one of the Lords Proprietors of the Carolina colonies. (Some Charlestonians like to say they live where "the Ashley and the Cooper form the Atlantic Ocean"; Charleston's two principal rivers are named in his honor.) He was also a friend of the philosopher John Locke.

There is more information about him available here:…

PHE  •  Link

Does this mean he took himself home or that he sent a messenger ahead? As highlighted later in the diary, the use of messengers, often several times a day, allowed for relatively efficient communication - without the use of today's technology. Pressumably the messangers of the day were very similiar to today's couriers and probably just as quick.

Mik Swork  •  Link

Posted Home. I've seen this phrase elsewhere more than once (can't remember somewhere in Jane Austen?) and have always taken it to be an abbreviation for 'went Post-Haste' that is 'went quickly' which seems to make sense here.

Eunice Muir  •  Link

Seems they had carry-in meals back then.

From the number of times Mr. Pepys has taken a dish home it seems these women never learned to cook. Perhaps without servants it was difficult, as cooking was done over an open fire; therefore, it would make sense to purchase a take-out from the cook shop, or go to the tavern - which Mr. Pepys does frequently for breakfast and lunch.

Nicky  •  Link

Saturdays And So To Bed

Well, my question about whether Saturdays were a normal office day has been answered - Pepys turned up and then did the 17th century equivalent of surfing the net all day !

But we are now 2 weeks into the diary and not one entry has ended "And So To Bed" (though some entires have come close). Is this in fact the Pepysian equivalent of "Beam me up, Scotty" or "Elementary, my Dear Watson" ?

Phil  •  Link

I think we'd be making a mistake to apply our 21st century standards of what makes a day's work to the 17th century. It was only relatively recently that it became the norm to work 9-5 (or whatever). Before that it was far more irregular, probably in part due to the fact that clocks were rarer and less accurate items.

George Peabody  •  Link

Pepys might not have much choice in getting around London. I don't think there was much in the way of wheels available to him. Coaches were privately owned and restricted to the rich - way out of his price range - and even then were mostly used for going out of town. He couldn't afford to keep a horse. I think "chairs" - canopied, curtained seats on poles, carried by two or more "chairmen" - were in use by this time and would have been available for hire, but wouldn't have been faster than walking. The other possibility was to go by water: there were many boatmen on the Thames looking for fares. But most everyone walked.

j a gioia  •  Link

'post' takes up about six pages in the OED; a handy and mutable word. here pepys seems to use it in the sense of 'hurryed', as messengers hurried letters along the post roads.

OED: III 5. to carry in the manner of a post; to convey swiftly.

i will now post this.

David QuidnuncGurliaci  •  Link

"And so to bed" actually does appear in the last sentence of the 4 January entry. I meant to point it out back then because I was looking for it too.

But Sam doesn't seem to have written it since, although he's come close. It will be interesting to see how often he uses it in the future.

Play it again, Sam. (Another line that was never said where everybody thinks it was said.)

Glyn  •  Link

I disagree with those who say that the places that Pepys were visiting were particularly far apart. His maximum walk so far seems to have been for about 30 minutes from his home to Westminster. London was incredibly compact and measured only 3 or 4 miles across.

Regarding the hours of his working day, I wonder if we're overlooking something really obvious. In global terms, London is very much a Northern city (an American comparison would be that it's further north than the mainland USA and is slightly more northerly than Calgary in Canada). Which means that in winter the sun rises late and sets early. I'm in London and this morning the sun didn't rise until after 8am and set at around 4pm. It's just gone 5pm now and without electricity London would be pitch black. So maybe they had fewer working hours in the winter, so allowing Samuel more time to walk around visiting people and coffee houses

Phil  •  Link

I agree that he wasn't really walking far, except for people who are used to travelling everywhere by car. In fact his walk to Westminster from his home is only about 5 minutes (not 30). Walking to Will's coffee shop in Covent Garden would be perhaps 15 minutes, little more. And walking to the Guildhall or Tower of London (30 mins or more from Covent Garden) would no doubt be perfectly normal and reasonable in those days.

Glyn  •  Link

Argh! All the good bits will be cut out!

I've just seen this bit in the Victorian preface to the diary: "It has now been decided that the whole of the Diary shall be made public, with the exception of a few passages which cannot possibly be printed. It may be thought by some that these omissions are due to an unnecessary squeamishness" Yep, that's exactly what I think - are we going to suffer from the squeamishness of a man who probably thought table legs should be covered up lest they give rise to impure thoughts?

Glyn  •  Link

Street Maps with modern names
Or maybe the people who know about this could get ready to annotate anything that the Victorians tried to hide.

Before I finally shut up, someone was asking about relating old names to modern names: have a look at these 2 books, which you may want to get if you're going to stick with this project:
"The A-Z of Elizabethan London", compiled by Adrian Prockter and Robert Taylor. London Topographical Society (122), 1979. If you want to reconstruct what London used to look like, have a look at this A-Z series, which takes early maps (usually woodcuts or engravings on metal) and imposes the contemporary street names onto the reproduction." and also "Street names of the City of London".…

This is from the Robert Elms Show (BBC London) which is essential listening for anyone interested in the city.

Someone was asking about pubs at the time: Westminster City Archives have just this year published a book about this but I forget its name:…

Tim  •  Link

I don't know if this is the place to ask questions but will give it a try anyway. Why does our diary introduction say "unabridged" if it is censored?

Nicky  •  Link

The Westminster pub book is called One on Every Corner - the history of some Westminster pubs

Bored  •  Link

Pepys office was in Seething Lane, which is five or ten minutes walk from the Tower Of London, and a very long walk to the Houses Of Parliament in Westminster. I think an earlier posting a few days ago gave the wrong address for his office.

Craig  •  Link

Was Pepys a fairly well off person by the standards of his day? At what time did he ever mention his income/net worth?

Roger Miller  •  Link

I got the impression that Sam's office was somewhere in Westminster at this time.

Doesn't he move to Seething Lane when he gets the job with the Admiralty later in the year?

Phil  •  Link

"Why does our diary introduction say 'unabridged' if it is censored?"

Tim, that's a good question! I guess the Victorian compilers considered this version unabridged compared to previous versions which were much more condensed. Even so, they obviously couldn't bring themselves to print *quite* everything! No doubt myself or others will attempt to fill in any such gaps.

Phil  •  Link

Location of Pepys' office and Will's

Pepys' office at this time was in Westminster, as he said on Jan 3rd "so went to Westminster, where I found soldiers in my office."

I got confused a few posts back -- Will's isn't a coffee house in Covent Garden, but a "place of entertainment" in Westminster. Sorry! All very convenient for getting to and from home though!

Roger Miller  •  Link

According to The Cambridge History of English and American Literature Pepys was worth only £6,700 by June 1667. He did very well out of the jobs at the navy office and the admiralty.

(see… )

Marcie  •  Link

What do you mean by a "place of entertainment"? What kind of entertainment?

language hat  •  Link

Phil's confusion is understandable, because there was a very famous Will's Coffee House (established by William Urwin) in Covent Garden, where Dryden ruled the roost; there is a description of London coffee houses in general and Will's in particular here:…

The one Pepys mentions is not, as far as I know, otherwise known, but it was in Westminster, and Bryant calls it a "drinking house" (so, Marcie, you can draw your conclusions from that).

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"with Mr. Moore (with whom I had been in the lobby to hear news, and had spoke with Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper about my Lord’s lodgings)"

Cooper had been elected to the Council of State and given the apartments in Whitehall previously allotted to Mountagu, now out of employment [by the government]. But, by friendly arrangement, the lodging did not change hands. See… and CSPD (Calendar of State Papers Domestic) 1659-60, p. 306. (L&M footnote)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to the Coffee-house, and heard exceeding good argument against Mr. Harrington’s assertion, that overbalance of propriety1 was the foundation of government."

A series of debates on the structure of the ideal republic had begun in the club on 20 December 1659 and ended sometime before 9 January. They had involved discussion of Harrington's proposition that 'all government is Founded upon over-balance in Propriety' -- i.e. that the security of any government depends on the degree to which the governing classes possess a preponderance of landed wealth. See The Rota: or, A model of a free-state, or equall common-wealth: once proposed and debated in brief, and to be again more at large proposed to, and debated by a free and open society of ingenious gentlemen. Harrington, James, 1611-1677., Rota (Club)
London: printed for John Starkey at the Miter, near the Middle-Temple gate in Fleet-street, 1660. Early English Books Online [full text]…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"From the number of times Mr. Pepys has taken a dish home it seems these women never learned to cook."

No mention of buying coal yet, in which case there could be no cooking. Cook houses were a very useful service. Prepare your own pie, and have it cooked by them. Since they fed the neighborhood, presumably they either got first dibs on the depleted coal supplies, or had a larger supply on hand in the first place. Lawson lies still in the Thames.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

:with Mr. Moore (with whom I had been in the lobby to hear news, and had spoke with Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper about my Lord’s lodgings)"

L&M: Cooper had been elected to the Council of State and given the apartments in Whitehall previously allotted to Mountagu, now out of employment. But, by friendly arrangement, the lodgings did not change hands. See…
Pepys to Mountagu (12 January, in Letters, p. 19); CSPD 1659-60, p. 306.

Third Reading

mountebank  •  Link

Second go round for me. I tip my hat to the thirders. Thanks so much Phil for making this possible again.

I see at the moment we're tracking the diary with our current day of the week matching Pepys' day of the week although that changes at the end of February. We get back in phase in March 2024, and then will be flipping between in and out for phase until 2032.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

We can't win that fight, Mountebank. Easter and Leap Years are not our friends.

Reading the first time -- with no Encyclopedia included -- makes me so grateful we don't have to reenter the same info over and over again.

Happy New Year, and stay well and dry. At least we both have electricity.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Walking in London:

"You might be surprised to hear that “going for a walk” wasn’t really a thing until the late 1700s. ...

"Walking as a leisure activity came about around the 1780s. Until this point walking had been an act of necessity, associated with poverty, vagrancy and even criminal intent. Many individuals would live and die never having seen beyond a few square miles of bleak cityscape and only slightly further for those in the country. ...

"In the 1800s, when pavements were in their infancy, taking a walk was a whole different experience. An estimated 300,000 horses traversed the London streets, depositing over 1,000 tonnes of manure every day. Worse matter was also regularly tipped into the rat-ridden gutters of the slums – the word “loo” itself is suggested to be derived from the pre-warning “gardyloo”, or French “regardez l’eau” (watch out for the water) heralding the emptying of a chamber pot from an upper storey.:

"The sorry state of city streets created a demand for all sorts of workers, including “pure finders” who would have scooped up dog poo and sold it in bulk to local tanneries (places where leather skins were processed). This was just one of the unappealing occupations that social historian Henry Mayhew referred to as “street cleansers” – a motley crew of crossing sweepers, night soil men and mudlarks (people who sifted anything that they could sell from the banks of the Thames) who made their living from street waste.

"Thankfully, social reform and urban planning has moved on dramatically, and going on an urban walk is a much more pleasant experience now."

Excerpts from…

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