Monday 16 January 1659/60

In the morning I went up to Mr. Crew’s, and at his bedside he gave me direction to go to-morrow with Mr. Edward to Twickenham, and likewise did talk to me concerning things of state; and expressed his mind how just it was that the secluded members should come to sit again. I went from thence, and in my way went into an alehouse and drank my morning draft with Matthew Andrews and two or three more of his friends, coachmen. And of one of them I did hire a coach to carry us to-morrow to Twickenham.

From thence to my office, where nothing to do; but Mr. Downing he came and found me all alone; and did mention to me his going back into Holland, and did ask me whether I would go or no, but gave me little encouragement, but bid me consider of it; and asked me whether I did not think that Mr. Hawly could perform the work of my office alone or no. I confess I was at a great loss, all the day after, to bethink myself how to carry this business.

At noon, Harry Ethall came to me and went along with Mr. Maylard by coach as far as Salsbury Court, and there we set him down, and we went to the Clerks, where we came a little too late, but in a closet we had a very good dinner by Mr. Pinkny’s courtesy, and after dinner we had pretty good singing, and one, Hazard, sung alone after the old fashion, which was very much cried up, but I did not like it.

Thence we went to the Green Dragon, on Lambeth Hill, both the Mr. Pinkney’s, Smith, Harrison, Morrice, that sang the bass, Sheply and I, and there we sang of all sorts of things, and I ventured with good success upon things at first sight, and after that I played on my flageolet, and staid there till nine o’clock, very merry and drawn on with one song after another till it came to be so late.

After that Sheply, Harrison and myself, we went towards Westminster on foot, and at the Golden Lion, near Charing Cross, we went in and drank a pint of wine, and so parted, and thence home, where I found my wife and maid a-washing.

I staid up till the bell-man came by with his bell just under my window as I was writing of this very line, and cried, “Past one of the clock, and a cold, frosty, windy morning.” I then went to bed, and left my wife and the maid a-washing still.

36 Annotations

First Reading

Fred Bacon  •  Link

Had to look up the Flageolet in the dictionary

A small wooden pipe, having six or more holes, and a mouthpiece inserted at one end. It produces a shrill sound, softer than of the piccolo flute, and is said to have superseded the old recorder.

"Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)"

Eric Walla  •  Link

A full passage, filled with good material ... but I'll only ask about one small detail. In this age would there be one day of the week designated as wash day? Or would the interval be even greater? It was at least interesting enough for Samuel to note how both women were still hard at work past 1 O'Clock.

Michal Bobryk  •  Link

Isn't the flogeolet very like the common tinwhistle?

Nicholas Laughlin  •  Link

"would there be one day of the week designated as wash day?":

Latham-Matthews thoughtfully provides this note: "The household wash at this period was a long and complicated affair. John Houghton, the economist, wrote in 1695: 'I find upon Enquiry that in good Citizens' Houses, they wash once a Month, and they use, if they wash all the Clothes at home, about as many Pounds of _Soap_ as there be Heads in the Family....'"

David QuidnuncGurliaci  •  Link

So much for that lack of stress!

I admit it: George Downing is my hobbyhorse. Sorry to bore everyone with the office politics/power dynamics, but here's my analysis again (I'll try not to be too repetitive):

Can you tell that Pepys doesn't trust Downing? If he says, "Sure, Hawley could do my job for me -- after all, Boss, there's nothing much for me to do around here," he stands to lose his 50-pounds-per-year job. Have fun making the rent payments, Sam!

Isn't one of the major sources of job stress supposed to come from being under pressure that you yourself have no control over? Sounds like Sam has a textbook definition of it today.

It's hard to believe that the penny-pinching, ruthless George Downing would keep Sam at the job for a second longer than he had to -- if he were only thinking about Sam's usefulness at the Exchequer. It's easy to believe Downing, that "servile" man who always "had an eye out for the main chance" (as Stephen Coote, one of Pepy's biographers, says), would keep Sam as an ongoing favor to Sam's patron, Montagu.

Whether or not Downing calculated this before his conversation with Pepys, it might be a good idea for Downing to have said what he said. It reminds Montagu, through Pepys, that Downing is doing a favor for Montagu by keeping Sam on the payroll when there really isn't any reason for it. Some historians speculate that Downing may have been laying the groundwork for dismissing Pepys -- if so, it's groundwork that only needs to be laid in order to answer to someone important like Montagu. There's no other reason for Downing to care whether or not such an unimportant person as Pepys is aggrieved.

When Pepys was hired, Montagu was especially important for Downing to cultivate because Montagu was a favorite of Cromwell. Montagu's power is now far declined, but this military man may be useful when armies are on the march, and if the accusations against Montagu of conspiring with Charles II are true, Montagu may just be very valuable in the future -- not a man to make mad, but certainly someone who might be reminded that a favor is being done for him.

Interestingly, Pepys doesn't seem to realize any of this (JUST POSSIBLY, Sam knows more about the situation than I do.)

And what's Sam's response to this perilous situation -- Party Hardy! That's actually a pretty human response, isn't it?

language hat  •  Link

"once a Month"
Lest anyone be too taken aback, I would like to bring to everyone's attention the marvelous opening of Penelope Fitzgerald's The Blue Flower (set in the late 18th century), in which the young protagonist arrives at a house in time to see the laundry being tossed out of the windows in preparation for the *annual* washing.

Danski  •  Link

Forgive me, but doesn't our Sam sound like he had a hard day at the office, didn't know what as going on, went out, got drunk, blew his own horn and went home on a high (my maid and wife washing still). The old lush!

Patrick Hall  •  Link

Here's a page with some pictures of the sort of flageolet in question, provided by someone who builds replicas:…

"This is the type of flageolet owned and played by Samuel Pepys in the C17."

P.Stott  •  Link

It looks like we have a answer to the earlier question from Scott Rosser on… yesterday. It would seem that Pepys is like any other reasonably diligent diarist. He attempts to write his diary every day ("as I was writing of this very line") but would sometimes miss a few days and have to spend some time catching up, as he did yesterday. I wonder whether this might explain why some of the entries are shorter than others...

Wulf Losee  •  Link

Re: So much for that lack of stress!

I don't think that there's any indication that Downing considered Montagu to be a political liability at this point. Montagu still held the post of General-at-Sea (correct me if I'm wrong, but Richard Ollard's biography of Pepys seems to indicate that he still held this post). I think it's pretty clear that Downing and Monk would require a partner who had access to ships. It later becomes clear in the diary that Montagu was in contact with Charles. On this upcoming trip to Holland, I suspect that Downing could very well have been carrying letters to Charles from Montagu (and possibly from Monk as well?).

Sure, Downing wants to save 50 pounds by easing Pepys out, letting his man Hawly take up the slack. But if Pepys were not connected to Montagu, Downing would have just sacked him. I think he's trying to find a way to ease Pepys into something else, Montagu being much too important to him to insult (certainly on the 19th we see Downing trying to put a good spin on Pepys upcoming job change).

So, yes, Pepys is disconcerted by Downing's suggestion, but he's not mortified -- he was in a good enough mood to toot on his flageolet most of the evening. Not the behavior of a man whose future is really in question.


Glyn  •  Link

Lack of Stress? No Way!

I have to say that if my boss asked me to relocate to a foreign country, and if my job could be done by someone else, then I would be pretty thoughtful too! Especially as going to Holland might mean getting involved in pretty heavy politics regarding the king's people in exile there.

I think that the diary entries are a little misleading. For one thing, Samuel was also a Personal Assistant to his boss so was constantly being sent around the city to meet people and pass on and receive messages, run errands etc. He's not just visiting coffee houses and taverns for his own enjoyment.

But it is probably true that there was little office work at the moment. Everyone knew that the Government was a dead man walking - the only question was whether a strengthened republic or a monarchy would replace it so big projects were being delayed until the situation was clearer. Hence all the political arguments that Pepys writes about in his diary. I think it's correct that already at this time General Monk was moving his army south to London (In modern terms, think Banana Republic - Oliver Cromwell is dead and there is no strong man to replace him).

But ED and Others Should Fear Not! Later in the year Samuel will be starting work at 4 a.m. just to get through his workload!

Glyn  •  Link

A very wide circle of friends

Is Pepys in his late 20s? I find it interesting that the diary entry says he has a regular drink with Matthew Andrews and other coachmen. So he's friends with the equivalent of cab-drivers as well as with the aristocracy which is pretty wide-ranging.

As others have mentioned, everyone including women and children would have regularly drunk beer because it was safer than water - but the daytime stuff was extremely weak (perhaps 2% alcohol or less).

PHE  •  Link

Beer safer than water
To continue an earlier subject of discussion: Last night the BBC showed "What the Victorians did for us". This included the discovery that cholera epidemics were spread through drinking water. After one large outbreak killing over 100 people, they found most people had drunk from the same water supply. At a local brewery, where all workers drank only beer, not one of them caught cholera.

Harry  •  Link

as a child growing up in the north of england in the 40's & 50's, mondays were always designated washing days in the community in which i lived.Virtually the whole day was dedicated to it.Washing machines were rare, and dryers non-existent, so family laundry was a major task.

I don't know whether this practice dated back in history, but it now sounds like it.

Mike  •  Link

I know nothing of this period, but really enjoy all of you shaing your insights. I find the life style of this period very curious. Thanks

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

Going to Holland

Can anyone up on the intrigues of the period tell us how open the dealings with Charles Stuart were at this point? How dangerous would it have been (with the Rump Parlaiment so weak) for word of them to get out? When Mr Downing says that he is "going back to Holland," is he openly saying to Pepys "I'm going to deal with the putative and future King, are you in?" or is it only tacitly understood between them that visiting Holland would give access to the court-in-exile? The annotation on Downing says that he had been Cromwell's agent in Holland, so presumably his previous connections could give him non-political cover for visiting there. Or could people in England openly visit Charles at this point?

Christian Ratliff  •  Link

An experienced diarist like Pepys probably had a good regimine of daily writing established. I have been keeping a journal since the Autumn of 1999 and can attest to the difficulty of maintaining a strict practice of daily recording. Two things I have noticed in my own practices are:

The busier I am, the less likely I am to record. This Christmas resulted in roughly ten blank days in my journal.

Those days which are missed and then backfilled tend toward a declining degree of detail. If I should miss two days, not only are the memories hazy but events seem...less important.

The more stress I am under the longer my entries tend to be. I do imagine that the journal helps me to analyze the event while dissapating the strong feelings. The volume of material today strongly implies, to me anyhow, Pepys may have reacted similarly.


edwin  •  Link

I am eagerly awaiting January 17

Judy  •  Link

The drinking and singing sounds like a case of 'boys night out' - obviously a good old english custom!

David QuidnuncGurliaci  •  Link

Downing, Montagu and the political situation

"Downing left [for Holland] without giving a sign [at least to Pepys] that he had anything in mind but the continuation of his diplomatic service to the existing government in England." -- Claire Tomalin's "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self," p. 93. She comes close to saying that Downing wasn't yet negotiating with the royalists in January, but perhaps no one knows what Downing's dealings were as of this point.

Montagu was "lying low" at Hinchingbrooke since the summer of 1659, but he had been "negotiating with the royalists" all the while. "Pepys was equally in the dark about his intentions." (p. 94) Montagu is no longer in control of the navy -- command was passed on to John Lawson in 1659.

John Hearsey's "Young Mr. Pepys" quotes today's conversation with Downing and adds the following:

"Pepys had reason to be worried by Downing's offer. Was he sincere in asking if he would like to go to Holland, or was it a trap to dscover whether he justified his position in the Exchequer Office? If he agreed that his colleague could do all his work as well as his own, it was an admission he was not essential. He must tread carefully." (p. 25)

This whole period and specifically the politics of 1659 and 1660 is still new to me, and I welcome anyone's comments, especially skeptical comments. I'm going to do more reading to try to flesh out the following hypothesis:

Montagu is now at a low point in his career, and it seems to me that's why Downing would hold this ominous-sounding conversation with Pepys. But Montagu clearly had some political strengths left (future events show others respecting his power), and I think that's why Downing hasn't fired Pepys.

Buddha Buck  •  Link

I'm not sure Pepys's job is in jeopardy.

Unless I'm reading this wrongly, it sounds like Pepys was being asked if he was willing to accompany Downing to Holland. It seems reasonable that Downing would have a legitimate interest, in that case, to knowing if the duties of Teller of the Receipts of the Exchequer (Downing's job, for which Pepys was his employee) could be completed in Pepys absence from London.

I can see the stress involved in deciding whether or not to go to Holland with Downing, seeing that he does have a life here, and is supposed to be keeping Montagu up to date about the political situation in London.

Maybe the next few days will show if Pepys really feared for his job.

j a gioia  •  Link

Mr Hazard sung alone...

does anyone have an idea of what 'the old fashion' of singing was at that time, and what style superseded it?

Chris Horry  •  Link

Wash Day

My Grandmother always did the laundry on Monday her entire married life, right up until she passed away last year. Before the advent of washing machines it used to take her all day after getting up at the crack of dawn (there where nine people living in her household at the time). Ask anyone in England from her generation and they will tell you Monday is wash day.

megannnn  •  Link

I think Monday is a common washing day, at least before the invention of washing machines.

A few nursery rhymes talk about washing days:

They that wash on Monday, have all the week to dry;
They that wash on Tuesday, are not so much awry;
They that wash on Wednesday, are not so much to blame
They that wash on Thursday, wash for very shame;
They that wash on Friday, wash in sorry need
They that wash on Saturday, are lazy folk indeed.


'Here we go round the mulberry-bush,
the mulberry-bush, the mulberry-bush.
Here we go round the mulberry-bush
so early in the morning.

This is the way we wash our clothes,
we wash our clothes, we wash our clothes.
This is the way we wash our clothes
so early Monday morning.

Dai B  •  Link

The profound loss of conviviality we have undergone since then is emphasised by this wonderful night of singing and self-flageoletion. How ironic that what is left of this tradition is under severe threat by the UK government's current plans to license it out of existence. For an article on these plans, see:… and for an on-line petition to save pub music:

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The flageolet is a woodwind instrument and a member of the fipple flute family. Its invention is ascribed to the 16th century Sieur Juvigny in 1581.[1] There are two basic forms of the instrument: the French, having four finger holes on the front and two thumb holes on the back; and the English, having six finger holes on the front and sometimes a single thumb hole on the back.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to Mr. Crew’s, and...he...did talk to me concerning things of state; and expressed his mind how just it was that the secluded members should come to sit again."

John Crew (M.P. for Brackley, Northants) was a leader of thje secluded members. (L&M)

The secluded members

Monck entered London in February 1660 and he allowed the Presbyterian members, 'secluded' in Pride's Purge of 1648, to re-enter parliament on 21 February 1660 on the condition that the restored Long Parliament would agree to dissolve themselves once general elections had been held. The Long Parliament dissolved itself on 16 March 1660, after preparing legislation for the Convention Parliament that formally invited King Charles II to be the English monarch in what has become known as the Restoration (of the House of Stuart).…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"From thence to my office, where nothing to do; but Mr. Downing he came and found me all alone; and did mention to me his going back into Holland"

The Council had ordered Downing on the 14th to return. He was ambassador there as well as Pepys's employer in the Exchequer. (L&M)

NB there is only something to do if there is a legal document to be registered, which depends on others' anticipation of a stable order. Early 1660 is a low point for decisions that generate such documents -- this is nor the fault of the clerks.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"one, Hazard, sung alone after the old fashion, which was very much cried up, but I did not like it."

Perhaps a lutenist ayre as contrasted with later declamatory song-forms. (L&M)

Pepys is here remarking on features of two phases of Baroque music, now called the Early (1580-1630)… predominantly performed in private spaces, and the Middle (1630-1680)… performed in the more expansive court settings

Pepys prefers what will be called the newer 'declamatory" song with four voices and an impassioned style of singing.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Thence we went to the Green Dragon, on Lambeth Hill, both the Mr. Pinkney’s, Smith, Harrison, Morrice, that sang the bass, Sheply and I,"

Pepys sang bass, as is shown by his music MSS in the PL. (L&M)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Monk arrived at York on the 11th of January, and left it on the 16th, on his way to London, taking with him only four thousand infantry and eighteen hundred horse—an army sufficient to overawe, without exciting suspicion. To give positive proof of the purity of his designs, he sent back Morgan with two regiments of cavalry into Scotland; thus strengthening his party there, and ensuring his retreat in case of misfortune. Another regiment was left at York, under the command of Colonel Fairfax, a nephew of Sir Thomas, and one of the ofiicers of the Scottish army, who, from the first, had co-operated most usefully with his genera1’s measures." Monk: Or, The Fall of the Republic and the Restoration of the Monarchy in ...By M. Guizot (François) p. 65…

Third Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"In the morning I went up to Mr. Crew’s, and at his bedside he gave me direction...."

At this time the mornin rising was used by royals, nobles and other persons of quality, who lived in grand houses to receive visitors (usually by appointment). Persons of eminence conted audience from a bed. Lord Crew's morning audience would have been modest, by comparison with that of Charles II in a few months:…

William Crosby  •  Link

After two complete read-throughs of the diary I am struck by this particular entry as foreshadowing a major turning point in Pepy's career and the wave of history as already noted in the the few days since the (re-)commencement of the Pepysian account: the negotiations with Monk and the imminent sea passage to restore Charles II to the throne.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

So Sam doesn't like Downing, but what's to say Downing, diplomat and spymaster fairly extraordinaire and surely with a keen eye for useful people, feels likewise and doesn't just consider Sam a skilled administrator he'd like to have onboard, as he embarks for this all-important Embassy? "I could use an operator like you, Pepys, your very real talents are wasted in these empty offices... Do you want to be a part of History with me in one of the World's real power and money hubs, or to hand out worthless little tickets to grumpy soldiers all your life?"

Sam tries to demur. "My lord, I'd be so honored, but I'm afraid by wife..."

"And our friend Mr. Montagu, you know, the admiral, you don't think he'd like some letters from Den Haag?"

The State Papers (in the volume for 1659-June 1660 available at…) record that the Council of State's agenda for today included "a ship to carry over Mr. Downing as Envoy to Holland". The Council had confirmed Downing's mission only two days ago, incidentally with a budget of just £400 - not much for an embassy, as we'll see later in the Diary, and not so much as to take along anyone who's not truly needed.

So, anyway, things are moving and asking Sam to drop everything and pack his bags with just a few weeks' notice may seem a bit casual, or to assume a greater taste for adventure than may be in him (at this point Sam feigns pain from a kidney stone, and Downing gives up). Or, OK, maybe a thinner moral fiber, to get along with such a weasely character. But this doesn't have to be their first conversation on the topic. And if Sam had said yes, imagine the Diary we could've got!

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