Wednesday 8 February 1659/60

A little practice on my flageolet, and afterwards walking in my yard to see my stock of pigeons, which begin now with the spring to breed very fast. I was called on by Mr. Fossan, my fellow pupil at Cambridge, and I took him to the Swan in the Palace yard, and drank together our morning draft. Thence to my office, where I received money, and afterwards Mr. Carter, my old friend at Cambridge, meeting me as I was going out of my office I took him to the Swan, and in the way I met with Captain Lidcott, and so we three went together and drank there, the Captain talking as high as ever he did, and more because of the fall of his brother Thurlow. Hence I went to Captain Stone, who told me how Squib had been with him, and that he could do nothing with him, so I returned to Mr. Carter and with him to Will’s, where I spent upon him and Monsieur L’Impertinent, alias Mr. Butler, who I took thither with me, and thence to a Rhenish wine house, and in our way met with Mr. Hoole, where I paid for my cozen Roger Pepys his wine, and after drinking we parted. So I home, in my way delivering a letter which among the rest I had from my Lord to-day to Sir W. Wheeler. At home my wife’s brother brought her a pretty black dog which I liked very well, and went away again. Hence sending a porter with the hamper of bottles to the Temple I called in my way upon Mrs. Jem, who was much frighted till I came to tell her that her mother was well. So to the Temple, where I delivered the wine and received the money of my cos. Roger that I laid out, and thence to my father’s, where he shewed me a base angry letter that he had newly received from my uncle Robert about my brother John, at which my father was very sad, but I comforted him and wrote an answer. My brother John has an exhibition granted him from the school. My father and I went down to his kitchen, and there we eat and drank, and about 9 o’clock I went away homewards, and in Fleet Street, received a great jostle from a man that had a mind to take the wall, which I could not help.1 I came home and to bed. Went to bed with my head not well by my too much drinking to-day, and I had a boil under my chin which troubled me cruelly.

41 Annotations

First Reading

David Quidnunc  •  Link

"Can't tell the players without a scorecard"

(cliche phrase in America)

According to Robert Latham's index volume (11) to the Latham & Matthews version of the Diary:

CHARLES CARTER -- apparently a minister and former classmate at Magdalene College: "Rector of Irthlingborough, Northants, 1664-75 . . . Chaplain to Bishop of Carlisle." Nice name, "Irthlingborough." What do you call someone from "Irthlingborough"? And do people from "Irthlingborough" constantly get asked to be taken to their leader? And how long ago did they get sick of being asked that?

CAPTAIN ROBERT LIDCOTT -- "republican army officer." Latham references "note 3" at this point in the Diary. Can anyone tell us what it says?

SIR WILLIAM WHELER????? -- This seems to be Latham's identification of "Sir N. Wheeler" -- meaning either Pepys or Latham got the name really, really wrong. (But Pepys is the one who's been drinking today; Latham's boozing habits are unknown.) Latham says he's "of Westminster; helps in Sandwich's financial affairs." Hmmmmm. Montagu is moving money around? Why?

CAPTAIN JOHN STONE -- Latham says he's an official of the Exchequer under the Commonwealth and he "advises in dispute concerning Downing." Either Stone or Pepys extricate themselves from the matter at this point, because this seems to be the last of three times Stone appears in the diary. Bye, John!

ARTHUR SQUIBB JR. "claims tellership in the Exchequer," Latham says. Downing was officially one of the four tellers of the Exchequer, so Squibb may be claiming some high government appointment at a time when the government is in confusion.

Perhaps the clerks not wanting to irk a possible future boss -- but not knowing Squibb's real authority?? -- are diplomatically trying to figure out what to do with the guy while whatever questions surrounding his "claim" are sorted out. The rational response would be to kick the question upstairs and tell the guy they can't do anything without approval from higher authorities. Government bureaucrats in the U.S. government traditionally say that kind of decision is "above my pay grade."

Now, Dear Reader, I've helped you understand who these people are. All this effort on my part (essentially, rewriting) and Latham's part (scholarly research) is only useful if you can use it to figure out something intelligent about these characters. Can you? (Don't try too hard.)

Warren Keith Wright  •  Link

Good show, DQ. On other fronts:

Curious that Sam has a head on him by bedtime (the boil making it seem worse), when this day seems no heavier, tipplingwise, than several recently.

What is the "epigram on the haughty courtier and the scholar" no longer so well-known to us? (Perhaps easy enough to imagine.)

Am I right in thinking that, at this period, keeping the wall would also keep you out of the muck in the kennel, the running gutter which coursed on either side of many London streets?

One wonders how the little black dog will fare among the pigeons.

Eric Walla  •  Link

Monk's arrival certainly riled up the hornet's nest of London, and in turn the affairs of our Samuel seem equally intense.

As you note, David, Montagu's money may be moving about, no one knows what to do with Squibb (and thus Downing), etc. High and low officials are sizing up connections, acquaintances are crawling out of the wood work, and the very act of frequenting too many drinking establishments promotes one conclusion: all men of substance are out gathering together whatever scraps of information they can to make sure they're on the "right side" of the new political reality.

In such circumstances a hangover may very well be in order.

j.simmons  •  Link

One walked against the wall in order to avoid slops that were being disposed of out windows above. Gentlemen walked on the streetside of a lady in order to protect her, and absorb any offal from above or otherwise.

michael f vincent  •  Link

"the hamper of bottles to the Temple" ;
maybe a little inside information ?
Pigeons : They were for sending messages to key people:
Mail with coded messages :
Are we trying to find out Monck intensions?
"MI5 CIA" of the day? or am I reading too much into this

michael f vincent  •  Link

pigeons: terrible eating. Need a lot for a pie.

Pauline  •  Link

“the hamper of bottles to the Temple”
this must be the wine Sam procured for Roger’s wedding. See Feb. 3 entry: “and bespoke three or four dozen bottles of wine for him against his wedding.”

michael f vincent  •  Link

pigeons: used as messengers since 776BC Google give lots of sites on messenger pigeon, they are used for a great sport of for racing and betting. Remember this is a time of great intrigue. Tyburn is just down the road.
a site > href="…

michael f vincent  •  Link

Note 1 :Passing on the right passing met still causes problems. Right hand Drive or Left Hand drive? it seperates UK from USA.
Then it was the sewage in the center and protection from the over hang of the first floor (or is the second?) also the sword hand and southpaws could be a problem that is in seeing the hand holding the weapon.

Roger Miller  •  Link

JOHN GAY (1685–1732) Trivia: Or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London (1716)
Book I. ‘Of the Implements for walking the Streets, and Signs of the Weather.’…

“Through Winter Streets to steer your Course aright,
How to walk clean by Day, and safe by Night,
How jostling Crouds, with Prudence to decline,
When to assert the Wall, and when resign ..”

Lesley  •  Link

Why was Mrs Jem 'much frighted'? Sam seems to call in on her household virtually every day - why would she be worried today?

Glyn  •  Link

"and thence to a Rhenish wine house"

This is almost certainly the "Old Rhenish Wine House" which Pepys visited earlier in the week, it is in "King Street" which has its own annotation. (For King Street, click on "Background Reading" and then "Places".)

Glyn  •  Link

These pigeons are for eating

Carrier pigeons would take a lot of training and that wouldn't be Pepys' job. These are just being raised to be eaten (they ate a wider variety of meats in those days). Pepys is involved in sending and receiving coded messages but carrier pigeons weren't needed.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

I'm wondering why young Mrs Jem is in London alone when (if I have it right) her parents are both in the country.

Keith Wright  •  Link

Maybe pigeon tastes better when it's called squab---a fledgling about 4 weeks old, says Webster's, though the term---if not the eating---goes back only to 1664.

Pauline  •  Link

...why young Mrs Jem is in London...
Click on the Mrs. Jem link in the diary entry to find out who she is and why she is in London.

helena murphy  •  Link

Lawson of the rude cartoon in the exchange.
Reading James Scott Wheeler's The Making of a World Power-war and the military revolution in seVenteenth century England, It seems that in 1660 the Restoration Parliament appointed a John Lawson as a Treasurer of war to disband England's large standing army as then the nation was at peace. He paid the soldier's arrears honestly and comes across as a man of integrity. If this is the same Lawson of the cartoon to be thus depicted seems most unfair!

language hat  •  Link

"the term—if not the eating—goes back only to 1664”
Actually, the term as applied to pigeons is attested only later:
1694 Motteux Rabelais iv. lix. 234 Pigeons, Squobbs, and Squeakers
But first attestation is, of course, not the same as first use (a distinction William Safire routinely screws up); it was used considerably earlier in the sense of ‘inexperienced person’:
1640 Brome Sparagus Gard. ii. ii, I warrant you, is he a trim youth? We must make him one Iacke, ‘tis such a squab as thou never sawest; such a lumpe, we may make what we will of him.
So it may already have been used for ‘young pigeon’ at that time and simply not written down (or written down in something that has not survived or not been sighted by the eagle eye of the OED).

Wendell Cochran  •  Link

`A little practice on my flageolet . . .'

The instrument may have been quite new , as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10e) -- describing it as `a small fipple flute resembling the treble recorder' -- gives the date of first known appearance in print as 1659.

j.simmons  •  Link

More skinny on squab:
"The several breeds of squab or domesticated pigeon are not to be confused with their wild relatives, which have dark meat and a gamy flavor. In medieval times, manorial dovecotes provided a welcome supply of fresh meat in early spring (explains Sam's interest)...killed when they are about 4 weeks old and barely fledged. (Once pigeons have been on the wing for a while, their muscles toughen)."
Included is a recipe for squab with rice: "this unusual dish from Shakespeare's day is taken from a cookbook published in 1609." The squabs are cooked with a rice pudding, seasoned with sugar and mace. Don't think it necessary to paint with a broader brush. jgs
From Time-Life "The Good Cook;Poultry"

Pat Lashley  •  Link

Yet more on pigeons...

The pigeons which infest North America are not native to the New World. They were brought over from Europe to be raised as food.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Uncle Robert's "base, angry letter"

The reaction of Sam and his father to this letter is interesting: He doesn't tell us the letter about John is unjustified; his father's attitude is sadness (not anger) -- which must have been at least a bit sharp for Sam to be consoling him; Sam then writes the response.

Being the most educated member of the family, Sam would be able to write the letter most carefully. Claire Tomalin says that angering Uncle Robert was regrettable since he might leave Sam's end of the family tree something in his will -- and therefore had to be humored ("Unequalled Self," p 96).

Does Pepys approach to his uncle display some cold calculation? I suspect that's the way he thinks about his relatives, especially after his description of the 26 Jan. party at Montagu's lodgings.

That nothing at all is said about the reason for Uncle Robert's anger indicates to me that Pepys was probably embarrassed. Whatever the case, we get no hint of anyone being insulted at the "base" letter.

Webster's New World Dictionary gives one definition of "base" as "showing little or no honor, courage, or decency; mean; ignoble; contemptible," and, perhaps more to the point: "base implies a putting of one's own interests ahead of one's obligations, as because of greed or cowardice." (The Oxford English Dictionary would be a better source.) It could just indicate that Uncle Robert showed "no class" as we'd say in America. Maybe he was really, really mad.

Robert's letter may have been in response to a request for help from Sam's father in financing John in college (making the "exhibition" that just came in much more of a relief).

Another point: Pepys also doesn't report anger or his response to the jostling he received on his way home that night (or maybe, drinking too much, he was somehow to blame -- he says he couldn't help it). A touchy man might have gotten into a fight -- or expressed anger in his diary at a "base" letter, no matter how justified.

Pauline  •  Link

"...Mrs. Jem, who was much frighted..."
From Claire Tomalin's book:
“Neither Pepys’s days nor his weeks had a regular pattern. He carried out business for Downing and Montague as they required it, and took his meals at home or out as it pleased him on the spur of the moment… These easy-going ways were interrupted on 2 February when Pepys had his first sight of Monck’s troops in the Strand… A few days later the sight of soldiers treating Quakers roughly upset Sam again; he disliked religious intolerance and hated persecution. He had to go round to reassure Lady Jem, who was frightened by the arrival of the troops in London and still under doctor’s treatment. But what he mostly did was to walk the streets, eyes missing nothing, ears alert as he threaded his way east, west and east again, sometimes alone, more often with a friend, from Westminster and Whitehall to Charing Cross, from Somerset House to London Bride, from St. James to Fleet Street, from Gray’s Inn to St. Paul’s, from the Temple to Aldgate, from Lincoln’s Inn Fields back to Whitehall. He knew the territory as well as an animal knows its runs.”

If Monck came down from the north, he may have come on the road through Huntingdon and Cambridge, which could explain why Mrs. Jem’s fears seem to include concern for her mother?

Also, Pepys has letters from Montagu, which could have contained assurances of another nature, maybe her mother had been ill?

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

I actually come from a home of squabs.

The local "Pigeon Plant" which I think is closed now, was a very large one, shipping out birds to many locales.

We used to eat Sunday lunches at the Elks Club sometimes and deliciously prepared squab was often on the menu.

Either squab, or Cornish Game Hen, was the featured item at my own wedding breakfast, but at this distance in time I forget which. Tasty little birds, anyway.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

Lesson: Always Google First

No, it appears the Palmetto Pigeon Plant still exists, actually - though I only found a price list for quail (the Southern American "Bob Whites," I presume).

And I found the following note which indicates how Sam could have kept his pigeons happy - with a little toke:

'In 1957, W. M. Levi, who during 1917-8 had been a first lieutenant in charge of the Pigeon Section, U.S. Signal Corps, and president of the Palmetto Pigeon Plant from 1923 to 1956, also referred to the effects of hemp seeds on pigeons: "In addition to the actual physical effect produced upon the bird's body, its feeding has a decided beneficial psychological effect upon the bird's happiness. Pigeons fed sparingly with a little hemp in the middle of the day during the moulting season take a new interest in life which is almost inconceivable" (Levi, The Pigeon, p. 499). '

Keith Wright  •  Link

Another tangent: Colette's mother, Sido, attested to the effect of hempseed on wild birds. (Avian catnip?)

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

What a revelation ... to think of all the seeds discarded over the years! 8^)

Grahamt  •  Link

Re: Passing on the right...
If you pass someone on their right, and they on yours, then you are walking on the left side of the path. Traditionaly, (until Napoleon's time) everyone rode or drove on the left also (even American colonialists) so that they passed sword-hand to sword-hand. It also made it more convenient to shake hands on horseback, for the less defensive/beligerent.
There is a story (apocryphal?) that Napoleon made his armies march on the right so that from afar, his enemies thought he was retreating when he was actually advancing. This then became the norm for continental Europe and for revolutionary America.

steve h  •  Link

The weakest goes to the wall

This saying was the title of an anoymous English play of 1600 "The Weakest Goeth to the Wall". It also is used in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Note this dialogue (Act 1, scene 1):

A dog of that house shall move me to stand. I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague's.

That shows thee a weak slave, for the weakest goes to the wall."

ne annotator notes:
"City streets, lacking pavements and slanted to a kennel (or channel) running down the centre, were the dumping grounds for refuse; the wall-side was therefore cleaner and safer and was claimed by people of rank or by anyone (like Sampson) who wanted to pick a fight."

Glyn  •  Link

"The weak go to the wall"

Is Steve correct about that? I'm confused because surely going to the wall is a good thing (not a bad thing) if you are walking down a dirty street.

Nowadays the phrase "the weak goes to the wall" sounds like something ruthless. For example in business where a firm goes bankrupt. But I've been told that originally it was a compassionate thing - that in medieval churches the congregation had to stand through the service. But if you were old or infirm you could "go to the wall" where there was a ledge you could rest against or a bench you could sit on.

Can anyone settle this?

By the way, has anyone here walked down a crowded street and refused to step aside for someone coming in the other direction, or maybe deliberately barged into them? Or is that just confined to rude Londoners like Sam?

Grahamt  •  Link

I think the dialogue from Romeo and Juliet illustrates both meanings in a typical Shakespearean word play.
Sampson says he will "take the wall" i.e. stand in the way, of the Montagues.
Gregory then puts down Sampson by turning his boast around, saying that only "the weak go to the wall".
Pepys was using the first meaning, but apparently it is the second one which has survived until now.

Bill-in-Georgia  •  Link

Take the wall

Sorry to be a little late with this but language hat seems to have let us down here :) The OED has:

"to give a person the wall: to allow a person the right or privilege of walking next the wall as the
cleaner and safer side of a pavement, sidewalk, etc. Similarly,

to have, take the wall (of a person), to have, take the inside position."

Mickey  •  Link

Interesting...I was told by a guide in some anonymous old castle or other that the spiralling stairs always go to the right, so as to allow for the sword arm of the defender (who would presumably have the higher position on the staircase).

Peter  •  Link

Could the weak going to the wall not be about passing in the street at all but about a fight or battle where the weaker person might well want his back to the wall.

vincent  •  Link

House of Lords: Pigeon pie offered by the House???house of lords 12 Jun 2000 : Column 1371
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, is the noble Baroness suggesting that restaurants serve pigeons from Trafalgar Square?
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, yes.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am appalled at that suggestion. I should have thought that they would be too tough and taste too unpleasant

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"in my way delivering a letter which among the rest I had from my Lord to-day to Sir W. Wheeler"

Sir William Wheeler, Cannon Row, Westminster, a merchant who sometimes acted as banker to Mountagu. (L&M)

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

To continue the digression, above, from 2003 regarding the Palmetto Pigeon Plant — it is STILL there, in Sumter, South Carolina, and its website (…) is worth a visit if only (a) for its vintage circa 2003 design, and (b) for the flying squab that will accompany your cursor all over your screen on the site's homepage (on a computer, not on mobile). They sell live pigeons for research purposes, along with squab, Cornish hens, and poussin (small chickens).

LKvM  •  Link

Enough about pigeons!
More about the pretty black dog!

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.